24th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. 1. Has the Minister seen the extraordinary editorial in to-day’s issue of the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ which, among other things, is critical of - (a) the provision that ‘ television stations must transmit 45 per cent, of programmes with Australian content; and (b) the provision that ‘ “ two hours of programme matter, distinctively Australian in content and character V must be transmitted between 7.30 p.m. and 9.30 p.m. each week? 2. fs the proprietor of the “ Daily Telegraph “ Sir Frank Packer? 3. ls this the same man as the Mr. Frank Packer who applied for a commercial television licence in Sydney in 1955? 4. Was an undertaking given as part of that application that a total of 50 per cent, of Australian programmes would be transmitted? 5. Was it, in part, due to this undertaking that the grant of a licence to Mr. Frank Packer was recommended’ by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and approved by the Government? 6. Has that licence enabled Sir Frank Packer to profit by many hundreds of’ thousands of pounds? 7. Does the Minister consider that in the light of Sir Frank’s original undertaking to provide 50 per cent, of Australian programmes, his subsequent failure to honour that undertaking and his present criticism of the Postmaster-General’s current modest requirement, the value of his assurances on this’ matter is about on a par with the political objectivity of the newspapers he controls?
– I have read the editorial to which the honorable senator has referred. Sir Frank Packer is the proprietor of the “ Daily Telegraph “. Further than that, I cannot speak with authority because I cannot give a coherent review of undertakings given in 1955. I ask the honorable senator to place his question on the notice-paper.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Postmaster-
General on the same subject. As the Minister perused the article to which Senator Kennelly has referred, did he notice that great approval was given to that part of Mr. Osborne’s evidence which indicated satisfaction with the present commercial television? Did the article suppress the fact that Mr. Osborne also gave evidence that the requirement of 45 per cent, of Australian material to be televised was the recommendation of the same Mr. Osborne and the Austraiian Broadcasting Control Board of which he is chairman? Will the Minister take the matter up with a view to seeing that in some quarters evidence is presented in a proper, fair and balanced form?
– I think that the question should be referred to the PostmasterGeneral. It hinges on statements made dy the chairman of the ‘ board. 1 think it appropriate that the chairman, through the Postmaster-General, should be asked to support the words that have been credited to him.
– Has the Minister for Customs and Excise noticed in this morning’s press a statement that Lord Denning’s report on the Profumo case has been published and is selling very well indeed? Have any advance copies’ been received in Australia? ls there any truth in the rumour, current in wowser circles, that the report is to be banned?
– I assure the honorable senator that no advance copy of the report has been received here. I should not think that there would be any need to send an advance copy as I imagine every lurid detail of the case has been published in the press of Australia already. When the report comes to hand 1 do not expect that there will be any necessity to take the action implied in the question.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Health. How many persons comprise the committee known as the’ Australian Drug Evaluation Committee, and who are they? Is it the committee’s function to report on .the safety of drugs generally and to evaluate drugs about to be imported into Australia? Will every new and existing drug be subject to supervision? When did the committee first meet? How often has it met since its first meeting? Has it made any reports to the Minister or to the Director-General of Health? Will the Minister table any reports received from this committee?
– The Drug Evaluation Committee has been formed for some three or four months. It was established to advise the Government on drugs, both new and old, that are under consideration. The committee consists of seven members. The chairman is a most distinguished New South Wales doctor, Dr. Edgar Thompson, of the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital.
– He is a pathologist now. He has changed his job.
– That does not alter the fact that he is a most distinguished ornament to his profession. I have not yet had a report from this committee. It meets and discusses subject-matter put before it by the Director-General of Health. I shall have to consider the advisability of tabling a report before giving a firm answer to the honorable senator’s request.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade or the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Is the Minister aware that there is a prohibition on the importation into Japan, of Australian citrus fruits, because of a lack of agreement between the Japanese and Australian quarantine authorities? Is he aware that in the past eighteen months three private trade missions have been to Japan to negotiate sales of citrus fruits and that each time the Japanese have claimed that Australia is in default in supplying quarantine information in the form suggested by them? Is it a fact that thereafter the Australian authorities claimed that they had sent the information but that the Japanese contended otherwise to the Australian trade missions? As another trade mission is due in Japan very early next month, can something be done to ensure that the Japanese are in receipt of the information in the manner and form requested by them, before the mission reaches Japan?
– I am not aware of the situation described by the honorable senator. All I can say is that I will immediately examine the submissions he has made and, if Australia is in default in this instance, I will do all I possibly can to have the matter rectified without delay so that future trade missions which are of great value to Australia should not suffer any undue handicaps. Having said that, I must add that it is only true and fair to say that all countries have very stringent quarantine regulations. I say that for the reason that I am not prepared, without a full knowledge of the incident, even to suggest that we are in default because this is the sort of thing that we watch very closely. We do all that we can to facilitate the movement of trade, having in mind always our responsibility to protect , through quarantine measures, the freedom from disease of our products in these fields.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry whether he has seen a statement in this morning’s newspapers to the effect that the Australian Wheat Board has sold 64,000,000 bushels of wheat to be harvested in the 1963-64 season and that that will be the total quantity of wheat available for export in the 1963-64 season. Can the Minister advise me whether the whole of the crop that is available for export has been sold? Does this sale cover the whole of the surplus? If not, where are other sales being made? Could the Minister advise me also of the terms of this particular contract?
– When we talk of the wheat yield for 1963-64 we indulge in a good deal of speculation. Whilst the statisticians are generally able to estimate with reasonable certainty the yield for any particular year, I think this is one of the years in respect of which it will be difficult to come to a firm conclusion. As I understand the position, there has been a good deal of forward selling covering the incoming harvest. I am of the opinion that when all sales have been completed there will be no surplus wheat at the end of the next season. Senator Scott also asked for the terms of sale to the international wheat house which is reported to be buying on behalf of Russian interests. The transaction was for cash on delivery cx ports.
– Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate read a statement on restrictive trade practices by the South Australian Attorney-General, the Hon. E. C. Rowe, which appeared in the Adelaide “Advertiser” on 18th September, 1963? Mr. Rowe is reported to have said -
If the Federal Government’s legislation on restrictive trade practices were to be fully effective, complementary legislation by the various’ State Parliaments would be necessary.
Having in mind this comment, a recent statement from the South Australian Premier and the Ministers’ reply to me on 18th September, does he agree that early discussions between the Attorneys-General should proceed with a view to achieving uniformity on restrictive trade practice legislation and resolving what would appear to be conflicting views alfecting the proposals?
– Of course, there has already been a series of discussions between the Commonwealth Attorney-General and the State AttorneysGeneral. There has been an exchange of views in general terms. I doubt very much whether the position can be advanced much further than that until the Commonwealth itself has decided the exact terms of the legislation. Senator Bishop will recall that the Attorney-General, on behalf of the Government, made fi general statement, or gave a general outline of the proposals. He is receiving general comments upon them before putting forward specific proposals or definite legislation. Therefore, I should think it would be a fair answer to the question to say that, when the AttorneyGeneral puts the proposals in definite terms and they are accepted by the Government, there will be further discussions on the legal issues between the various AttorneysGeneral.
– Having paid a long visit to Papua and New Guinea in the month of July and having .seen certain correspondence ‘ Iri the national ‘press’,’ ‘ I direct this question te the Minister representing the Minister for Territories: I note that correspondence has appeared in the national press in relation to alleged discrimination by Europeans against Papuans and New Guineans. The signature appended to the letters in questions is “ Norman Fisher, Union of Australian University Students, Parkville, Victoria “. I should be grateful if the Minister would inform me who Mr. Fisher is, what is the organization he claims to represent, and whether the views expressed are the formal and informed views of that organization.
– Probably Senator Cormack will agree that it would be much better if I were to refer the bulk of the question to my colleague, the Minister for Territories, and get a reply from him. I think the honorable senator is referring to a letter which I noticed in the press as recently as this morning and in which reference was made to some discrimination against indigenes on aircraft.
– I should like to take advantage of the opportunity to indicate to the honorable senator that the only discrimination by airlines that I know of in the Territory in effect operates against Europeans. The European pays full fare, while on many routes indigenous folk pay as little as two-thirds of the full fare but receive the same service.
– That is correct.
– I know of no other discrimination by airlines in the Territory against the indigenous people.. It is apparent that increasing prosperity amongst the people of the Territory is leading to a growing number of natives using the airlines.
– I am not quite certain whether my question should be addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs or the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Task the appropriate Minister this question: In view of the serious state of affairs that exists in Indonesia, is it not imperative, in the best interests of Australia, for the Prime Minister to appoint a Minister for External Affairs who has no other portfolios’ so that a firm attitude can be taken by that Minister instead of the’ Chamberlain attitude of appeasement that has been adopted up to the present? Would not such action be in conformity with the wishes of almost all Australians?
– I think there is little substance in Senator Turnbull’s question. I should say that he expresses the view of a very small minority when he criticizes the competent way in which the Minister for External Affairs is handling the present situation. The honorable senator might well reserve his comment upon our policy until he hears the Prime Minister’s statement later in the day.
– I ask the Minister for National Development a question. When the Bureau of Mineral Resources examined the drilling cores at a copper deposit at Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory, was it proved that the cores contained a large quantity of gold, which indicated that there was a large body of gold-bearing ore in the deposit? Can the Minister tell me the width of the lode and the grade of ore that were disclosed by the bureau’s examination?
– I can do litttle more than refer to the press statement I made on this matter. The discovery resulted from a second look at a core which was a couple of years old. The examination revealed the presence of very high gold values over a width exceeding twenty feet. The main lesson to be learned from the occurrence is the value of retaining cores and re-examining them from time to time.
– Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate read a leading article which appeared in a Sydney newspaper yesterday on Britain’s decision to establish a standing committee which will continuously study juvenile delinquency? Is the Minister aware that the suggestion was made that such a step might well be considered in Australia since it could best be taken through agreement between the Commonwealth and the States? In view of the great problem which juvenile delinquency poses, will the Minister discuss with the appropriate federal authorities the advantages and benefits which could accrue from the appointment of such a committee, in co-operation with the States? If the result of his discussion with the federal authorities indicates the desirability of establishing a committee, will he take action to have it established in order to help overcome this problem?
– I have not read the leading article to which Senator Fitzgerald has referred, but of course juvenile delinquency is a major matter which is exercising the minds of many Australians at the present time. I always doubt the wisdom of appointing Commonwealth committees, or of the Commonwealth taking action, to deal with such matters. The administration of justice and of police forces is basically a State function. Conditions vary from State to State, and my inclination is always to leave with the States the things which they arc well fitted to do. However, in view of the importance of this matter I shall pass the honorable senator’s question to the Attorney-General so that he may give it some thought.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, relates to a newspaper reference which I saw to the proposed United States radio base at North West Cape. I think that the report was based on a question that has been asked in another place. Has the commencement of work on the station been delayed by an industrial dispute? If so, will the Minister state the nature of the dispute and the unions which are a party to it? What would be the effect on the work of a proposal to declare it a security project?
– I do not know the names of all the unions involved in the dispute which has arisen over the construction of the radio station at North West Cape.
– There is no dispute.
– At one stage there was a dispute.
– There is no dispute at all.
– I noticed that the Minister for Labour and National Service, in commenting recently on this . so-called non-existent dispute, indicated that he had great hopes that, now that the Australian Council of ‘ Trade Unions had taken over the handling of the dispute, it would soon; be possible to have an award under which the construction work could proceed.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, is complementary to the questions asked previously by Senator Kennelly and Senator Wright. I ask the Minister: Is Sir Frank Packer the managing director of television station Channel 9 in Sydney and- also a member of Australian Consolidated Press Limited, which controls the publication of the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “? Does the Minister know that Sir Frank Packer gave evidence before the Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions .for. Television in his capacity as managing direc’or of Channel 9? Is he aware that the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “, in reporting this evidence at the time, gave it a wide coverage on three or four pages, and that throughout the whole report Sir Frank Packer was referred to merely as “ the witness “.? Does the Minister think it proper and in the public interest for a principal of a ‘ television station, after his evidence has received wide press publicity - and before the Senate select committee has presented its report to the Parliament - to use his influence with a large metropolitan daily newspaper to run an editorial in an endeavour to guide the public, and perhaps the members of the select committee, towards his views? Will the Minister take, steps to ensure that the last course of action, taken either by Sir Frank “or any other person who has a vested interest in a television station and in a newspaper having wide circulation, is not tolerated in future?
– I suggest to the honorable senator that this question does’ not come within the purview of government administration. If Sir Frank Packer gave evidence before the Senate select committee I should imagine that the committee welcomed and appreciated his evidence, in that he came before the. committee with a special knowledge of the problems facing television. The honorable senator suggests that I might comment on whether it is proper for Sir Frank Packer to be a party to an editorial in an endeavour to influence public opinion. As far as I am concerned, and as far as the Government is concerned, I hope the occasion never arises when any government will interfere with what a newspaper publishes in an editorial.
– I rise to a point of order. Is Senator McClelland entitled to canvass matters arising from evidence given before’ a - select committee of this Senate, before the select committee has made its report to the Senate?
– Order! The evidence was given before the select committee in public and the honorable senator’s question was in order.- Whether . he should have asked it in such detail is another matter.
– I wish to direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate on the same issue. If the Senate constitutes a select- committee and there is a question” as to the fairness of the presentation of evidence as. published in the press- and1 it goes so far as” to lead to the conclusion that there is an intention to influence the committee - would not the Leader , of the Government regard this as a matter for his consideration without any prompting by a question?
– I listened to the previous question and the answer to it with a good deal of interest. The first thing that emerges is the extraordinary situation of a member of the select committee airing the proceedings of the committee before the Senate, instead of taking action in the committee of which he is a member. I should think that members of a select committee of the Senate are not powerless. The’ proceedings are held in public. Reporters are present who prepare press’ reports of the proceedings. If members of the committee think that the proceedings” are not being fairly reported - we all suffer from such a feeling from time to time - they are in the very fortunate position that at a subsequent hearing by the committee they can take action to have any deficiency remedied. It is a matter of taste and of judgment. I would rather see honorable senators fight out their battles in the Senate select committee than on the floor of the Senate.
– Has the
Minister for Health seen a reported statement by Dr. Lindell, chairman of the Hospitals and Charities Commission, to the effect that the cost of hospital beds in the United States is £30 a day, and that insurance costs for those who need treatment most are becoming unbearable? Did he notice also that Dr. Lindell mentioned the existence of community health centres in the experimental stage in Canada and Britain which help in the prevention of illness and which will extend their services right into the home? In view of the rising cost of hospitalization here and the increasing costs which patients must bear, will he examine the British and Canadian experiments to see whether they could be applied successfully in Australia?
– I did see the report referred to by the honorable senator and I always read with a great deal of interest the published statements of Dr. Lindell because he is an acknowledged authority in the field of hospitalization. It is true that he did say that the cost of hospitalization in the United States of America is some £30 a day, that it is fast becoming prohibitive to the people of that country and that it actually threatens the whole of their hospitalization arrangements. I have been asked whether I would examine experiments with community health centres such as those in Canada and the United Kingdom to ascertain whether they could be applied in Australia.
In Canada there is no national health scheme. I make that point clear, because there has been a good deal of loose talk lately suggesting that Australia might well copy the Canadian scheme. Honorable senators may be interested to know that very distinguished Canadian authorities have, been in . this country, as recently as within the last fortnight, studying .with a. great deal of interest the Australian national health scheme. Our scheme has to them an attractiveness which is not found in other schemes. My reply to the specific request is that community health centres may have a good deal to commend themselves as an aid to hospitalization in Australia. In this country the States have a constitutional responsibility to provide hospitalization and the success that they have achieved is now, I think, world renowned. The Commonwealth has no hospitals other than those in its Territories. It is well known that our policy requires us to subsidize the hospitalization costs of the residents of the States. I should think there is no need for me to add to what I have said, other than to say that Dr. Lindell, having seen the operation of the schemes in Canada and in England, might well initiate a similar scheme in Victoria, thereby giving a lead to other States.
– My question is directed to either the Minister for Trade or the Minister for Primary Industry. I ask the appropriate Minister: Has he seen a statement which appeared in the Adelaide “News” on Wednesday, 18th September, which reported a threat to Australian bananas from Fiji? Mr. Godtschalk, produce secretary of the New South Wales division of the Australian Primary Producers Union, said it would be tragic if anything were done to imperil the banana industry in Australia. In view of the fact that he went on to say that it was ironical when governments-
– Order! The honorable senator is giving information instead of asking a question.
– I ask: Has the Minister seen the statement? Has any consideration been given by the Government to this very important matter? Has any approach been made to the Government by the Australian Primary Producers Union for steps to be taken to protect this £5,500,000 industry?
– 1 have not seen the statement referred to by the honorable senator, but I do know that there is some concern in Australian quarters arising from the probable importation into this country of . bananas. I was. asked to examine the quarantine requirements of such a move. Speaking from memory, I think my officers advised me that there was no quarantine threat from exotic diseases in the importation of bananas from Fiji. I emphasize that the quarantine regulations are never used in any way to restrict trade; they exist solely to protect our own industries from disease. If there is a threat to the Australian banana trade the growers have the normal means of protection at their disposal. They may apply to the Tariff Board for protection and can get their application heard speedily. I believe that is the action they should take if their industry is threatened.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer arising from a letter I have received from George P. Hooper, a taxation agent and consultant. Mr. Hooper was a member of the Commonwealth Public Service for more than 50 years. He retired in 1954 after paying ?10 a week into superannuation and he is receiving in return ?10 a week. He has stated that he would have been better off had he relied on the age pension. He has askedme a question and I submit it to the Minister in Mr. Hooper’s words -
What I wish to ask is’ whether something could be done to protect my . wife in the event of my death. As I married her after my retirement, she is not eligible for half my pension rate in the event of my death as she would have been had 1 married her on my deathbed if I were at this date still employed in the Commonwealth Public Service.
Mr. Hooper also asked, another question, which may be hypothetical. It is as follows: -
If an old man (public servant) of 64 years whilst on his sick leave prior to his decease married his trainee nurse of seventeen years, would this young woman be entitled to half the pension for life no matter how many units of superannuation her husband had taken out?
In explanation, I might say that this man’s wife died while he was working and he married a second time. I will hand the letter to the Minister and possibly he will give me a considered statement later because 1 believe a great injustice is being done to public servants in similar circumstances.
-The first part of the question is far toopersonal and the second part- is far too profound for me to give an answer across the chamber. If the honorable senator will give me the letter I will examine it and ascertain whether anything can be done.
(Question No. 45.)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGcneral has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
(Question No. 50.)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Treasury has provided the following answer to the honorable senator’s questions: -
The daily time of commencement of duty of employees of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation is an administrative matter which, under the Commonwealth Banks Act, is entirely one for determination by the Commonwealth Banking Corporation Board. I have accordingly obtained the following information from the managing director of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation: -
As a matter of good staff organization, the Commonwealth Banking Corporation has encouraged the policy of staff leaving the office as early as practicable each day. With the closing of banks on Saturday mornings, banking operations became concentrated into five days and in order that reasonable finishing times might continue to be observed under the new trading arrangements the hours of duty of the staff were re-arranged, in the early part of 1962, so that work commenced at 8.45 a.m. daily instead of 9 a.m. The corporation was of the opinion that this change offered operational advantages which benefitted the corporation and the staff alike.
However, arising from discussions between the corporation management and the executive of the Commonwealth Bank Officers’ Association in September, 1962, a committee, on which the corporation and the association had equal representation, was specially set up to examine at first hand the results of the earlier commencing time. It was proposed that at the end of six months the committee would report its findings to the corporation for consideration.
The committee duly reported to the corporation, which very carefully re-examined all aspects of the 8.45 a.m. commencing time in the light of the committee’s findings. The corporation remains of the firm opinion that the 8.45 a.m. starting time, which is by no means unusual in other organizations, offers operational advantages which benefit the staff as well as the corporation.
(Question No. 66.)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has furnished the following answers: -
(Question No. 84.)
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers are as follows: -
(Question No. 108.)
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
For the benefit of honorable senators, the items referred to relate to the First Schedule to the National Health Act, which lays down amounts of Commonwealth benefit payable to members of registered medical benefits organizations for professional services. Item 1 is in respect of professional attendances by a general medical practitioner. Item 4 relates to professional attendances by a specialist in the practice of his speciality, where the patient is not referred by another medical practitioner. Commonwealth benefit for both items is 6s.
– by leave - The statement that I am about to read is a statement which was made by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) in the House of Representatives earlier to-day and is therefore in the terms used by him. While I accept full responsibility for it, I wish to make it quite plain that this is the Prime Minister’s statement and not my own.
I present to the House the following papers: -
Notes exchanged between Australia and Malaya in March and April, 1959.
United Kingdom-Malaysia Agreement of July, 1963 (excluding Annexures).
Notes exchanged between Australia and Malaysia in September, 1963.
In reference to the last of these papers I point out that in answer to a question last week, I summarized the effect of these notes exchanged between Australia and Malaysia. In substance I then said that our existing arrangements with Malaya would now apply to Malaysia.
It may be remembered that so far back as April, 1955, the Government emphasized the importance of Malaya to the security of the zone in which we live, and pointed out that in consequence, Malayan integrity and defence were matters from which we could not and should not stand aloof. Reasons of this kind, directly affecting us, were of course closely allied with the proper interests of others who are our friends. The establishment of the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve, of Seato, to the functions of which the reserve was relevant, the negotiations of the Anzus pact, are all in the same pattern. That is a pattern, not of aggression, but of defence; not of isolation in defence; but of common effort for the common security.
There has been some suggestion that our forces in Malaya went there primarily for purposes of internal security. This is not so. As I have indicated, they went there and are there as part of a strategic reserve with the United Kingdom and New Zealand and as a contribution to the defence of the South-East Asian area. True, we quickly agreed that our forces could be employed in operations against the Communist terrorists in Malaya. They were so employed, with success, and with great credit to themselves and Australia. The facts were, of course, that these terrorists were promoted and supplied by Communist authorities outside Malaya, and that their activities were as much acts of war against the territorial and political integrity of Malaya as would have been overt military invasion.
We think that the people of Australia have agreed with these policies and decisions. In all these arrangements, and in any to be made, the usual rule will apply that the employment of Australian forces remains under the control of the Australian Government. We have acted and will continue to act consistently with the Charter of the United Nations.
But Malaysia, the new nation, is here. The processes of its creation have been democratic. The United Nations SecretaryGeneral, having appointed suitable persons as examiners, reported that the people of North Borneo and Sarawak desired incorporation into Malaysia. The Prime Minister of Singapore, one of the great sponsors of Malaysia, has just received an overwhelming endorsement at the polls. We have publicly and unambiguously said that we support Malaysia which is, never let it be forgotten, a Commonwealth country, just as our own is.
Should there be any attempts to destroy or weaken Malaysia by subversion or invasion, what should Australia do about it? We know that the United Kingdom accepts, in substance, the position of a military guarantor. Honorable members now know the terms of our own recent exchange of notes.
The Government of Malaysia has said clearly that this exchange is completely satisfactory to it. But it has not been the normal practice of Commonwealth countries to spell out in detail their sense of mutual obligation, nor to confine themselves to legal formulae. For example, ourvital engagements with the United Kingdom are not written nor in any way formalized. Yet we know and she knows that in this part of the world we look to her, and she looks to us. We each apply in a spirit of mutual confidence a golden rule of mutual obligation.
But for the benefit of all concerned, honorable members would not wish me to create or permit any ambiguity about Australia’s position in relation to Malaysia. I therefore, after close deliberation by the Cabinet, and on its behalf, inform the House that we are resolved, and have so informed the Government of Malaysia, and the Governments of the United Kingdom and New Zealand and others concerned, that if, in the circumstances that now exist, there occurs, in relation to Malaysia or any of its constituent states, armed invasion or subversive activity, supported or directed or inspired from outside Malaysia, we shall, to the best of our powers and by such means as shall be agreed upon with the Government of Malaysia, add our military assistance to the efforts of Malaysia and the United Kingdom in the defence of Malaysia’s territorial integrity and political independence.
– I move -
That the papers be printed.
I ask for leave to make my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Sir William Spooner) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a bill for an act relating to an agreement between the Commonwealth and the State of New South Wales with respect to water storage works at Blowering.
Motion (by Senator Sir William Spooner) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a bill for an act to extend further the period of office of the Commissioner constituting the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) proposed -
That the Senate will resolve itself forthwith intoa Committee of the Whole for the purpose of considering the particulars of proposed expenditure for the service of the year ending 30th June, 1964, and the particulars of proposed expenditure for additions, new works and other services involving capital expenditure for the service of the year ending 30th June, 1964.
.- This motion is designed to bring within the scope of the consideration of the Committee of the Whole particulars of revenue matters and of capital matters. Will the Minister explain whether that procedure will affect the constitutional rights of the Senate in relation to amendments of proposed capital expenditure as distinct from requests relating to revenue matters?
– in reply - The Senate’s rights will not be affected. At a suitable stage after the Senate resolves itself into a Committee of the Whole, I shall move that the committee shall take note of the proposed expenditure. Subsequently, when the relevant appropriation bills are received from another place we will deal with them in the normal way.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That unless otherwise ordered the particulars of proposed expenditure be considered in the following order:
Department of Customs and Excise, £6,029,000.
Capital Works and Services, £682,000.
Department of the Navy, £54,509,000.
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, £10,600,000.
Capital Works and Services, £1,806,000.
Department of Health, £5,242,000.
Capital Works and Services, £344,000.
Department of National Development, £12,652,000.
Capital Works and Services, £47,995,000.
War Service Homes Division, £1,437,000.
Department of Civil Aviation, £15,537,000.
Capital Works and Services, £7,027,000.
Capital Works and Services, £17,000.
Prime Minister’s Department, £14,360,000.
Capital Works and Services, £2,467,000.
War and Repatriation Services- Reconstruction and Rehabilitation - University Training, £13,000.
Department of External Affairs, £13,502,000.
Capital Works and Services, £1,419,000.
Economic and Defence Support assistance to Members of SEATO and Protocol States, £1,000,000.
Aid to India, £675,000.
Department of the Treasury, £17,642,000.
Capital Works and Services, £2,289,000.
War and Repatriation Services - Miscellaneous -Department of the Treasury, £16,000.
Attorney-General’s Department, £3,181,000.
Capital Works and Services, £263,000.
Department of the Interior, £7,537,000.
Capital Works and Services, £2,333,000.
Recruiting Campaign- Rent, £9,000.
Civil Defence, £330,000.
War and Repatriation Services - Miscellaneous -Department of the Interior, £314,000.
Australian War Memorial, £130,000.
Department of Works, £10,182,000.
Capital Works and Services, £1,657,000.
Recruiting campaign -
Buildings, Works, Fittings and Furniture, £33,800.
Repairs and Maintenance, £7,500.
Department of Shipping and Transport, £.12,139,000.
Capital Works and Services, £9,087,000.
Department of Trade, £4,792,000.
Capital Works and Services, £89,000.
Department of Primary Industry, £16,930,000.
Capital Works and Services, £6,000.
War and Repatriation Services- Establishment of Ex-Servicemen in Agricultural Occupations, £1,000,000.
Department of Territories, £664,000.
Capital Works and Services, £13,000.
Northern Territory, £10,119,000.
Capital Works and Services, £8,586,000.
Australian Capital Territory, £6,364,000.
Capital Works and Services, £18,356,000.
Norfolk Island, £37,700.
Papua and New Guinea, £25,477,200.
Capital Works and Services, £408,000.
Cocos (Keeling) Islands, £46,000.
Capital Works and Services, £3,000.
Christmas Island, £100.
Department of Social Services, £8,986,000.
Capital Works and Services, £178,000.
War and Repatriation Services - Miscellaneous - Department of Social Services, £16,000.
Repatriation Department, £120,059,000.
Capital Works and Services, £404,000.
Department of Immigration, £13,246,000.
Capital Works and Services, £448,000.
Department of Labour and National Service, £3,043,000.
Capital Works and Services, £88,000.
Post Discharge Re-settlement Training, £1,000.
Technical Training, £50,000.
Department of Defence, £2,007,000.
Recruiting Campaign, £699,700.
Department of the Army, £78,317,000.
Department of Air, £80,518,000.
Department of Supply, £30,539,000.
Commonwealth Railways, £5,582,000.
Capital Works and Services, £2,725,000.
Postmaster-General’s Department, £113,821,000.
Capital Works and Services, £68,775,000.
Broadcasting and Television Services, £15,703,000.
Capital Works and Services, £3,504,000.
Overseas Telecommunications Commission -
Capital Works and Services, £1,722,000.
May I at this stage indicate briefly to honorable senators that we are dealing with papers which have come to us in the present form for the first time this year. They are referred to in the list that has been circulated to honorable senators as Document A and Document B. Document A is an extract from the schedule to the Appropriation Bill 1963-64. Document B is an extract from the schedule to the Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill 1963-64. A third document entitled “ Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure “ was circulated when the Budget was presented. Honorable senators may find that it will be of use as we proceed, because at the back of it there is an alphabetical index which sets out the proposed votes for the various departments and the relevant page references in Document A and Document B.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) agreed to -
That in relation to each division in the Particulars of Proposed Expenditure, the Chairman of Committees shall put the question - “ That the Committee takes note of the proposed expenditure “.
That the following items, Department of Customs and Excise, £6,029,000, and Capital Works and Services, £682,000, be postponed until after consideration of the items - Department of the Navy, £54,509,000; Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, £10,600,000; Capital Works and Services, £1,806,000.
Department of the Navy.
Proposed expenditure, ?54,509,000.
– May Iat this stage seek an explanation to ascertain exactly what documents we are looking at? I have before me a document which is entitled “Particulars of Proposed Expenditure for the Service of the Year ending 30th June, 1964 “.
SenatorPaltridge.- That is Document A.
– It will be noted that at page 99 provision is made in Division No. 471 - Australian Naval Forces, for proposed expenditure amounting to ?13,808,000 in accordance with the schedule which is setout at page 201. Provision is made also for proposed expenditure of ?148,000 on Royal Australian Naval Reserves. I take it that I am in order in addressing the Chair in relation to that matter.
SenatorPaltridge. - The honorable senator is referring to Document A. Document B contains particulars of proposed expenditure on new works and services and other services involving capital expenditure. If I may say so again, Document A is an extract from the Schedule to the Appropriation Bill 1963-64 and Document B is an extract from the Schedule to the Appropriation (Works and Services Bill) 1963-64.
.- The Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) is quite familiar with all the activities of his department. I noted recently in the press reference to a proposal to have constructed in Scotland two submarines of the Oberon class. We on this side of the chamber are not conversant with many technical naval terms. We cannot distinguish between a submarine ofthe Oberon class, a Polaris submarine and any other kind of submarine. Will the Minister, when replying to me, be so kind as to inform me of the kind of submarine that is to be constructed at an estimated expenditure of ?4,000,000? Relying upon my memory, I believe it is intended to have two submarines constructed in Scotland by a company known as Scotts. Of course, the construction of the submarines will take some time. In fact, I think that the work will be carried out over four or five financial years. If I remember correctly, the Minister stated that work on the construction of the first of the submarines would be commenced almost immediately and that it would be ready on a certain date. I made a mental calculation at the time I saw the announcement, and it appeared that the work would be spread over four or five financial years. I have sufficient common sense to know that it takes longer to construct a submarine than it does to construct, say, a wheelbarrow.
I take it that the sum of ?13,956,000 includes provision for the payment of officers engaged on work connected with the ordering of the submarines. In fact, I think that would be unavoidable. The Minister does not order submarines to be constructed on every day of the week. I know that no person engaged in the department-
-(SenatorMcKellar). - Order! I think the honorable senator is referring to Division No. 481, which relates to naval construction.
– No, I am not. I am leading up to the work of actual construction.
– You are discussing Division No. 471 at the moment?
– I certainly am. The Minister is fully conscious of what I am trying to do.
– I have to be conscious of it, too. The honorable senator may proceed.
– When I commenced my remarks I stressed that the Minister was familiar with the operations of his department and that he could not, of his own volition, order a submarine to be constructed, as he would order awheelbarrow. Advice must first be submitted to him and a good deal of preparatory work engaged in by various officers before a decision is taken and the Minister says, “ We will have the submarines constructed “. I am sure that the persons who advised the Minister on this work would be experts, and no doubt payments to some of them at least will be covered by the amount we are appropriating from the Treasury at the present time.
– If I am entitled even to consider the matter, would the honorable senator put me right on this point? Is not the subject-matter of his discussion specifically that under Division No. 481?
– No, it is not. It cannot be said that my remarks refer particularly to Division No. 481. I am referring to work being carried out by the officers of the department.
– The honorable senator is speaking of people who are paid from the sum referred to in Division No. 471.
– Exactly. I am not referring to the class of work involved, or anything like that, because the matter does not start there. The work is originated by the people within the department who decide, first, that a submarine should be constructed. There may be discussions extending over several months before . that point is reached. Other departments, such as the Department of Defence, the Department of the Army and the Department of Air, may be consulted. There must be a balance between those departments at some point, so that when a decision is reached to have a major work undertaken it is .a firm decision. In this instance, the sum of £4,000,000 is involved in the construction of one submarine, apart from the sums that are to be appropriated in order to pay the officers concerned.
My immediate concern is with the sum of £8,000,000, which is to be expended over four or five financial years on the construction of two submarines. Are there defence financial committees which endeavour to assess the cost of the ships to be constructed? If so, I should like to have information about the experience of the officers who constitute them, and also about recruitment and training methods. We propose to appropriate almost £14,000,000 under Division No. 471, and I think that we need to know something about work that is being done for Australia in another country. When we come to Division No. 481, I shall have other questions to ask.
Perhaps the Minister will be able to tell me how this matter originated. Apparently, as a result of advice given to him by responsible officers, he is able to say confidently: “ Yes, we will have two submarines constructed. They will be of the Oberon, class and they will be constructed in Scotland.”
– I refer to Division No. 471- Australian Naval Forces. I note that the amount to be provided this year for salaries and allowances for the Australian naval forces is £13,808,000. Provision is’ made for the sum of £63,000 for arrears of pay increase. Last year, there was no appropriation in this respect. I should like to know the reason for the inclusion of the amount this year. Does it mean that something has gone wrong with the accounting, or that there have been increases in pay which have not been granted and that the Department of the Navy and the Minister have now decided that they should be paid in order to bring the personnel concerned up to the required standards of pay?
– The comments I propose to make relate, first, to Division No. 471 - Australian Naval Forces. I am wondering how many of the 592 new members of the naval forces are apprentices, and how the increase in the number of apprentices this year compares with the intake in previous years. The purpose of my interest is to ascertain whether there is a policy to increase the number of apprentices, and the methods that are being used. I should like to know also how successful the department is in administering the policy.
I wish to refer also to Division No. 476, which deals with general stores, naval ships, fleet auxiliaries and naval establishments. I am interested in ascertaining whether it is correct, as I have seen stated in some overseas journals, that certain defence stores, motor vehicles and motor vehicle parts are purchased overseas. To what extent are Australian-manufactured motor vehicles, spare parts and equipment used in the Navy? I should like to know whether motor vehicles and other mobile items of equipment are purchased overseas, or whether an attempt is made to obtain them from Australian manufacturers.
– In seeking to answer the points which have been raised so far I address myself first to the matter brought before the committee by Senator Benn. He referred to Division No. 471 and asked how many officers would be paid from the amount contained within the total vote of £.13,808,000, appropriated for the purpose of training personnel for submarine work. At the end of this financial year there will be roughly 100 officers and ratings involved. They are not all officers. Senator Benn will realize that this training relates purely to the uniformed branch of the Navy. The men are in training in the United Kingdom in the British submarine service in order to prepare them to take over, on its completion, a submarine which is being built for Australia. The number will rise every financial year, but that does not concern us at the present moment. A short answer to the honorable senator’s question is that there will be about 100 officers and ratings paid out of this vote. They are being trained to serve in submarines to be built for us.
asked me also to give a short description of an Oberon class submarine. All I can say is that it is the latest type of conventional submarine in the United Kingdom. It is not driven by atomic power and consequently is neither an atomic-powered submarine nor that specific species of atomic-powered submarine which is equipped purely to fire Polaris missiles. The Oberon is diesel-driven and has great endurance, lt is able to remain submerged for long periods and its speed is considerable.
– To what type is the Minister referring?
– The Oberon class submarine, for which a contract has been let. lt will be used, of course, for offensive purposes should that be necessary, but it can be used in a defensive role, in an antisubmarine role and in various other operations should war break out.
asked about the number of apprentices in the increase of 592 personnel we expect during this year. The table which I shall now read will answer that and also the second part of his question as to the attitude o*f the Navy towards getting these apprentices into the service. The table shows the number of apprentices as at the dates given, and is as follows: -
The last figure is the number it is intended to have in the Navy by 1st -July, 1964. The intake of apprentices has been extremely successful. There have been about five applications for every vacancy and the graduates of the first special classes of apprentices are already in the fleet and pulling their full weight.
To the best of my knowledge the Navy does not buy other than Australian motor vehicles, although there may be imported components involved. It is the policy of the Navy to buy all its motor vehicles in Australia.
asked about arrears of pay. That item was included because, as a result of increased margins paid to industry generally, an increase in the pay of ratings was approved by the Government and the Treasury. The amount he referred to is that which had been agreed upon at 30th June last.
– I refer to Division No. 475 and to item 14 dealing with the laundering of soft furnishings and linen for ships and establishments. The item is self-explanatory, but this is the first year that any amount has been shown for it. In 1962-63 no amount was shown under this heading but this year the proposed vote is £23,000. Perhaps the Minister would explain where that amount is paid.
.- In Division No. 476 there is provision for electronic, electrical, engineering and miscellaneous stores. The proposed vote is £4,712,000. It will be noted that this shows a considerable increase compared with the expenditure last year. I should like to know exactly the nature of these electronic, electrical and other stores. Is it proposed to install an electric computer? I understand that at present the Department of Defence has a computer and that later each branch of the defence services will have one of its own. Does the item deal merely with goods that have been obtained from either the Department of Supply or through the Contract and Tender Board? The item “ Electronic, electrical, engineering and miscellaneous stores “, of course, excites curiosity wherever one may see it, and especially in respect of the Department of the Navy. If the Minister will give me that information I will be happy.
– Replying first to
Senator Kendall, I understand that the item covering the laundering of soft furnish,ings and things of that kind was previously included under the heading of incidentals. The change in presentation is merely a bookkeeping method of more precision.
It is very difficult for me to tell Senator Benn just what stores are included in the item to which he referred. They cover a variety of projects. A modern ship is packed with electronic equipment of all kinds. I regret that I have not in my mind the details necessary for me to compare a ship of the last war with a ship of the Daring class and the D.D.G. class which we now have in the Navy. If I might be forgiven for making a comparison which does not pretend to be exact, whereas there might have been 500 items of electronic or radio equipment in an old ship there would be 10,000 or more in a ship of the present day. There are stores of that kind, stores related to the ultimate fitting of Ikara missiles in the fleet, and a large number of spare parts. The fleet is engaged at present in a change-over from the system of repair-by-repair to the system of repair-by-replacement. When a part is defective a new part is put in the ship and the old part is repaired in the dockyards. That system requires more spares so that the work can be performed more quickly. Some of the equipment concerned is small computers which ships use and into which information is fed for the firing of the guns.
.- I ask the Minister to direct his attention to Division No. 481 which deals with naval construction. The proposed vote this year is £11,987,000. I should like the Minister to give me some additional information on the present naval construction programme. Let me indicate where my doubt resides by saying that I have some recollection of a programme of some years’ duration being initiated a year or two ago for the construction of ships in America. I thought that an announcement was made recently about the construction in Australia of a number of vessels. If the Minister will give us to-day - if it is convenient - some definite particulars about the matter, I would be obliged. 1 want to mention two other things. First, I invite the Minister, at some stage of the consideration of the estimates of his department, to give passing attention to a matter that has exercised my mind since last May, when I placed a question on the subject on the notice-paper. The Minister will notice that in the estimates are not only the ordinary items of expenditure that occur annually but also provision for works, buildings and naval construction. I refer particularly to Division No. 493, which relates to buildings and works of a capital nature. I do not want to dwell upon the constitutional position or the distinction between those two categories for the purpose of their consideration by this committee, but I think that the matter is not unimportant. At some stage of the debate on the estimates for the defence services I should like to have an explanation of the reason for making, in Document A, provision for the ordinary annual services, and also capital works and equipment.
The other thing that is worthy of comment is that we have been proceeding with the consideration of estimates involving £54,509,000 with the presence in the chamber of no more than four members of the Opposition - now five. Labour Party senators should recognize that this is the opportunity with which the Opposition is provided annually to examine the estimates of expenditure and to offer criticism of the proposals.
.- I also refer to Division No. 481, Naval Construction, for which the estimate is £11,987,000, and I should like to ask the Minister some questions relating to the naval construction programme. In the brochure that he has supplied to us appears a statement in the financial year 1963-64 the following vessels are under construction: - One anti-submarine frigate, two destroyers of the Charles F. Adams class and one survey ship. The Minister has pointed out in the brochure that the anti-submarine frigates were ordered with three others in 1954. He stated that the “Derwent” is under construction at the naval dockyard, Williamstown, and is expected to be in commission in April, 1964.
– To what statement are you referring?
– The explanatory notes accompanying the Department of the Navy draft estimates of expenditure for 1963-64. The Auditor-General, in the course of his report, said that the total expenditure on the construction of four anti-submarine frigates at Australian shipyards amounted to £26,059,794 at 30th June, 1963. Expenditure during 1962-63 was £2,534,384. He said that two of the frigates were commissioned in July, 1961, and another in June, 1963. He then referred to frigates that were still under construction. As there are variations in the estimated costs that have been presented to the committee, I should like the Minister to tell us what were the actual costs of the frigates that have been taken into the audit since 1954 and how they would compare with the cost of vessels that have been ordered overseas.
Construction is proceeding on a speciallydesigned survey ship at the Newcastle Slate dockyards under a contract arranged through the Australian Shipbuilding Board. Completion is expected in February, 1964. The total cost is estimated to be £2,203,000. The construction of that ship is encouraging and helps to expand the shipbuilding industry within Australia. But contracts have been let in the United States of America for the construction of two Charles F. Adams class destroyers, each fitted with sea-to-air guided missiles. Tenders will shortly be called for the construction in the United Stales of a third destroyer. The total estimated cost of those vessels is £61.372,000.
I should like the Minister to inform the committee what investigation and research were undertaken to see how the Australian shipbuilding industry could be expanded and developed to undertake work of this nature. To illustrate this point, I mention that to-day the Senate has heard a rather definite historic statement relating to Australia’s position in South-East Asia and the understanding that Australia is prepared to become committed in certain circumstances. But the first destroyer of the Charles F. Adams class is scheduled to be commissioned in May, 1965; the second, six months later; and the third in 19671 Four years will elapse before our third destroyer is commissioned.
I refer next to the Oberon class submarines for which tenders have been called in the United Kingdom. It is estimated that the cost of these submarines, including outfits and reserves, will be £22,000,000. The first of the vessels is required to be completed by December, 1966; the second by October, 1967; the third by August, 1968; and the fourth by June, 1969.
– Does that mean that we must tell a prospective enemy, “ You cannot attack Australia until 1967 “?
– It would appear to be so. The statement about Australia’s stand regarding Malaysia and our naval construction programme seem to be contradictory. Australia has made a more or less leisurely plan for the development of one of the most essential sections of modern-day naval defence - a submarine force. Yet evidently the Government is content. I assure the committee that it is disquieting to find that the Government’s plans extend so far into the future for the acquisition of such a limited fleet of submarines. I should like the Minister to tell us whether urgent consideration has been given, or will be given, to revising the expected dates of completion.
– In particular, which one do you suggest?
– At this time governmental thinking here is similar to that before World War II. At that time the government of the day was completely oblivious to the needs of the nation and completely unprepared, but was able to relinquish its responsibilities when the pressure came on. In view of the international situation at present, the Government should be giving more mature consideration to defence and should not repeat the mistakes which a LiberalCountry Party government, to its lasting discredit, made on a previous occasion. On the one hand the Government throws its weight about and on the other it shows complete disregard for the urgent need for constructive planning. It plans for ships to be finished in 1969. 1 include in my remarks the whole question of naval construction in Australia.
– Has the honorable senator at any time in the past five years advocated an increase in naval expenditure?
– 1 have advocated preparedness at all times, and that is the policy of the Australian Labour Party. When the pressure is applied the Labour Party is always prepared to take over national responsibility and produce the goods for Australia. The Government has shown complacency in allowing the Australian shipbuilding industry to decline. It is useless for the Government to rely upon our membership of the Commonwealth of Nations and to adopt an attitude of mutual love between us and other countries, because these days of power politics are tough. Instead of doing unto others what we would that they should do unto us, it is a case of doing others before they do us.
– Order! The honorable senator should devote his remarks to Division No. 481.
– Division No. 481 relates to naval construction and it has a bearing on the explanatory notes that have been distributed by the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton). I have been referring to the tenders called in the United Kingdom for the construction of four submarines. The first is to be completed by December, 1966, the second by October, 1967, the third by August, 1968, and the fourth by June, 1969. It is my considered view that the Australian shipbuilding- industry should be reviewed completely so that it can be made capable of undertaking a larger share of work of this- nature. The report of the Auditor-General for the year ended 30th June, 1963, refers to naval construction totalling in cost £7,402,289. The report states -
Expenditure on naval construction during 1962-63, as charged to Division No. 481, was £7,402,289. Of this amount £3,769,009 was expended on the construction of ships in Australia (including certain related machinery and stores purchased overseas); £3,633,280 represented1 expenditure on ships (and related stores) being purchased outside Australia.
There is a similar reference to mine sweepers. The Auditor-General’s report states -
Previous reports have referred to six coastal minesweepers purchased from the Admiralty. The vessels, which are now officially known as Ton Class Minesweepers, were commissioned in the United Kingdom during the S’ear and have joined the Royal Australian Navy . . . The progressive cost to 30th June 1963 was £5,850,381 of which £5,157.554 was expended on purchase, modernization and conversion and £692,827 on base spares, naval stores and other equipment.
I feel that much of this expenditure could be retained in Australia if our shipbuilding industry was put on a proper footing so that it could deal with the present and future needs of the Royal Australian Navy. There is no doubt about the high quality of the workmanship in the Australian industry. In the case of the little cheeseparing jobs that were given to the Australian industry, such as the construction of frigates and a few supply ships, the vessels have always been of a standard that did credit to the shipbuilding industry and its workmen. There is a strong case for the development and expansion of those activities, particularly in view of the major expenditure that is proposed in the future.
– Surely the honorable senator would not call the Daring class destroyers piffling and small?
– No, but as I have shown, contracts have been let in the United States of America for the construction of naval vessels.
– They are of a special type.
– If we can build Daring class destroyers why cannot we build those of the Charles F. Adams class in Australia? It is only a matter of expanding the Australian shipbuilding industry, and that could be said also of other industries. If we have not the knowhow, we have to buy it or train personnel here, whichever is the more expedient. We have to find men who have the know-how and who can be advisers to the Australian Government. The easy way out- has been taken and the Government has not taken a long-term, national view. It has been a case of catch-as-catch-can. The Government has yielded to expedience and has placed one contract here and another there so that now we have only a skeleton shipbuilding industry in Australia.
I turn now to Division No. 482 - Aircraft and Associated Initial Equipment - Purchase and Manufacture. The Auditor-General’s report shows that expenditure during 1962-63 from Division No. 482 amounted to £5,122,901. Among the purchases in recent years were 27 Westland Wessex Mark 31 helicopters in the United Kingdom, and associated spares and equipment. That purchase was made in 1961-62. To 30th June, 1963, eighteen helicopters were delivered and payments during 1962-63 amounted to £4,203,426, bringing the total to 30th June, 1963 to £6,166,600. Expenditure during the year in connexion with armament for the helicopters amounted to £330,951. It would appear that practically the whole order for these helicopters has been completed.
– I should like the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) to clear up several points relating to Division No. 481 - Naval Construction. The Department of the Navy has ordered three destroyers from the United States of America at a cost of approximately ‘ £60,000,000. Why were these destroyers ordered overseas? Associated with this order costing £60,000,000 would be a demand for a great deal of what might be called residual equipment such as testing tanks. The cost of this equipment could fit some shipyard in Australia to build ships of such a special character here. 1 do not know whether the Department of the Navy had to order these destroyers abroad because of special techniques employed in the United States of America. Was it a matter of the time of delivery, or were there other reasons why the department had to have the ships built in the United States? Australia is a maritime nation, surrounded by sea. One of its great problems must be the development of capacity to supply the ships and machinery that are necessary around our coast for trade and defence. I feel that one would hesitate to place overseas an order of this magnitude unless there were disqualifications in respect of Australia, or unless special considerations applied in the place where the orders were lodged. I put it to the Minister and to the Department of the Navy that as the years go by we ought to be conscious of the need to develop in Australia resources for this type of industry. In the last war we saw that our shipbuilding facilities were not adequate to enable the guarding of our own coast and to assist our allies. While we did build up our resources rapidly, we never at any stage had sufficient for the nation to satisfy all the demands upon it.
A huge amount of money is being allocated over a few years. After all, the third ship is to be delivered in three or four years. The expenditure is very great and the money will bc expended very quickly. I hope that when the money is expended Australia will have three modern destroyers, but I do not know whether it will have the capacity to service those destroyers. 1 do not know whether we shall have in Australia the technique and equipment which are gained through activity of this sort, to provide the service that ships of this type require. I ask the Minister for an assurance that this was, in the considered judgment of the authorities, the best way of expending £60,000,000, because it was desirable to have these vessels quickly, and that there were considerations which over-rode the need to equip Australia to build ships of this type.
– I should like to answer the points raised so far. Senator Wright asked me to give hin an indication of any of the avenues in which the extra money sought for naval construction is to be spent. An extra £4,600,000 is to be spent as a result of the three D.D.G guided missile destroyers having been ordered during the course of last financial year and being under construction this financial year. An amount of £100,000 is being provided for work on the escort maintenance ship which has been ordered from the Cockatoo Docks and Engineering Company Proprietary Limited.
There will ‘be ah estimated expenditure this financial year of £690,000 on the Oberon class submarines which have been ordered from Scott’s shipbuilding yards in Scotland. There is provision for £867,000 as ship fitting costs, for placing launchers and magazine and handling equipment for the Australian anti-submarine guided missile Ikara in the ships of the flee1:. These are the major increases in expenditure over expenditure last year. There are some credits to be set against that, but I think that the tenor of the honorable senator’s question was the avenues in which the expenditure was to be made. Senator Wright asked why particulars of capital works and buildings under the proposed expenditure for the Department of the
Navy are presented with the ordinary annual estimates of expenditure. I do not know.
– I did not mean it for consideration now, if it is inconvenient. I just ask you to take note so that at some time during the estimates debate we may have a statement on it.
– Senator O’Byrne adverted to the cost of the frigates which have been in building over a number of years. He asked how the cost compared with the cost of building a similar ship overseas at present. Those ships have been, as Senator O’Byrne indicated, under construction since about 1954 in two shipyards - one at Williamstown and one at Cockatoo dock. Therefore, the aggregate cost of the ships which went into service in 1 962 and 1 963 would not be an indication of the cost of building such ships now, because there have been great variations in wage rates and material costs during that time. But I think the answer to what the honorable senator had in mind would be this: The cost of building in Australia a type XII. frigate now - or a Leander class frigate, which is very similar - would require a subsidy of the order of £2,000,000 in order to be comparable with the cost of building the same type of ship in the United Kingdom.
– Is that on two, three or four, or just one?
– One. Both Senator O’Byrne and Senator Arnold adverted to the question of building ships abroad. Before 1 address myself to the arguments that they put forward, I point out that the Australian shipyards at the present moment do have orders for naval ships on which they are working. The Williamstown yard is building “ Derwent “. The Newcastle State Dockyard is building “ Moresby “, and the Cockatoo Docks and Engineering Company is starting on the construction of the 15,000 tons escort maintenance ship. These are not ships of the same complexity as a type XII. frigate. The’y do not require weapons, electronic control, radar, asdic, and other specialized equipment, which adds so much to the expenditure on a modern warship.
Senator O’Byrne addressed himself to the question why minesweepers and submarines are ordered in the United Kingdom. The short answer is that they were ordered there because they can be got there a great deal more cheaply and a great deal more quickly than they can be got here. The hulls of the minesweepers were bought in being. They were fitted with special engines built of alloys which will not explode the magnetic mines for which these vessels are searching and which are built, as far as I know, in only one factory in the world and certainly in only one factory in the United Kingdom. The conversion which involved putting engines into these ships was carried out there. They have been in service with the Navy for about a year. This does not indicate the leisurely approach which Senator O’Byrne castigates while he also advocates policies which would lead to delay.
– Have they all been completed?
– Yes, all six of them. They have been completed, commissioned, sailed from England and have been in service with the Royal Australian Navy in Australia for a year.
– Are they new vessels?
– They arc secondhand vessels which have had placed in them the new engines and minesweeping equipment which is required before being brought out here.
– What is the amount involved in the total purchase?
– It is £5,S50,000. For the same reasons, the Oberon class submarines were ordered in the United Kingdom. If I say that these vessels were ordered in the United Kingdom because they could be bought more cheaply and more quickly there, there is some obligation on me to support that plain assertion. But it is not as great an obligation as would normally rest upon me because the ship builders of Australia themselves, in their request for subsidies for shipbuilding and in their approaches to the Australian Tariff Board, have said that they need a subsidy of at least 33i per cent, in order to enable their ship construction costs to bc comparable with ship construction costs in the Untied Kingdom, which is where both the minesweepers and the submarines were bought. They themselves have indicated that a subsidy of that order is required to enable them to equate their prices with the prices of similar ships built in the United Kingdom. Their statements, of course, refer only to merchant ships - the sort of ships in the construction of which they have had experience. Only three or four yards in the United Kingdom specialize in the far more complicated job of naval construction which submarines present. The Admiralty will not permit other yards in the United Kingdom to undertake this sort of construction because of safety factors and the complications involved. I suggest that the subsidy required to equate the cost of building a submarine in Australia with the cost of construction in the United Kingdom would be considerably more than the subsidy desired for merchant ships. I. advance these reasons to support the statement that submarines would be much dearer if built in Australia.
– Does the British Government pay a subsidy on its ship construction?
– No, not to the
Admiralty on these ships.
– Are they subject to a fixed-price contract, or are they built on the basis of estimates?
– Oberon class submarines are built on the basis of a fixedprice contract in respect of the shipbuilding elements of the finished article. An escalation clause is always included in the contract for adjustments as wages go up or other conditions change. Items which are called “ Admiralty supply items “, which are not the shipbuilder’s pigeon - they include specialist equipment which is made for the Admiralty - are ordered on the basis of estimates from the Admiralty but the estimates are based on the fact that such equipment has been obtained before and put into similar submarines.
On the question of time, it is known to all shipbuilders that it is much quicker and much cheaper for a shipyard which has had some experience in building a certain type of ship to build another of the same type than to start anew to build a type which has not been built before. But, more than that, the specifications for sub marines generally have to be very explicit and exact because there is so much stress on such vessels and so much safety involved. Consequently, the sort of specifications which are used by the Admiralty and the shipyards which have built these submarines over the years would not be sufficient to enable other shipyards even to tender for such vessels. Such shipyards would require much more detailed specifications. The Admiralty has indicated that it could take up to a year to prepare specifications which would enable a ship builder who was entering the field for the first time to place a tender in the proper way. Again, this indicates that there was no ground for Senator O’Byrne’s allegation concerning a leisurely approach.
When I move from the venue of the United Kingdom, in relation to which my statements as to costs are strongly supported by shipbuilders’ associations in Australia, to the United States of America, where costs are higher, I must say that other considerations enter into the reasons why certain ships were ordered from the United States. This relates directly to the question that Senator Arnold addressed to me. One point I think I have already covered and that is that shipyards which have had experience in turning out five or six ships of a special type can proceed to construct another, knowing exactly what >s involved. All the specialized equipment, the missiles themselves, the electronic missile controlling equipment, and the specialized computers into which is fed all the information needed to decide when the missile is to be fired can be readily provided by assembly line production in the United States. If this equipment were to be made in Australia it would involve the setting up of an entire new factory and assembly line. Drawings would be required for every particular part and people would have to be trained to make the equipment. By the time that was done the ships would probably be out of date. If the ships were to have been built anywhere but in the United States it would have been necessary to take them there for the insertion of the specialized equipment in the hull. Otherwise, all the work would have had to be done by inexperienced people unless, as was suggested by one shipbuilder, experts were brought from the United States to
Australia to teach Australian workmen how to do the work and to supervise each action undertaken by our workmen in this new and unfamiliar field. All this would undoubtedly have added greatly to the cost of the finished article. There would have been not only the cost of bringing the experts and their families to Australia and the cost involved in people undertaking unfamiliar jobs but also, as we know from the experience of other countries, an additional 12± per cent, on the prime cost of all the electronic and other specialized equipment which would have to be packed, brought to Australia, accounted for, placed in store, re-issued and placed in the ships.
– -Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
.- I have listened with great interest to what the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) has said. He worries me when he says, in effect, that ships cannot be built in Australia because of the high cost. I should like to know whether we will ever commence to do this work in Australia. If we follow the theme on which the Minister spoke in regard to these vessels it will mean that we will never have these ships built here. I think that, sooner or later, we must decide to bear the cost of construction here, whatever it may be. In this changing world we must be as independent as possible. I am sure the Minister is as concerned as I am about the fact that the last of four antisubmarine frigates which were ordered in 1954 will not be delivered until 1964.
– Are they not being constructed in Australia?
– Yes . I like you, but do not be impetuous. I shall say what I want to say in my own way. They have been built in two yards. Does it mean that to build a frigate in the naval dockyard at Williamstown and another at Cockatoo Island takes five years? Or has some work been done on one vessel and then some on others? We always want to live at peace with other people, but we do not govern the aspirations and thoughts of those people. They might not be as keen about peace as we are. We must consider our construction programme in the light of that fact.
I remind honorable, senators of what the Minister said about the vessels that are being constructed overseas He said that if they were to have been built here we would have had to bring the experts here. I agree. He added that if the men were to have been here for any length of time we would have had to bring their families here. That is the normal procedure. Then he mentioned the cost factor. I agree with what he has said, bu I am afraid the time might come when overseas yards will not want to build vessels for us. They might have enough work of their own to do and our work might be suspended while they do their own. I am concerned not so much about the cost as about the time that is taken to construct vessels. In this changing world, this nation, with a population of approximately 11,000,000 people, is expected to look after itself as far as possible. Earlier we heard what the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) told us through the Leader of the Government in this place. He said that the Government had pledged help to our allies in the event of trouble on our northern borders. If we are to be of any great help, our troops must be taken over the water to the trouble spot. If we are likely to experience a continued lag in the time taken to build vessels, we must put more money into the construction of naval vessels and naval shipyards.
When Senator O’Byrne was speaking I heard Senator Wright ask, by way of interjection, whether Senator O’Byrne had ever advocated increased naval expenditure. Ever since 1949 the Opposition has not complained about the amount of money spent, but it has complained about what we have got for that money. I believe that even Senator Wright would agree that in a changing world we must be prepared to change our thoughts and that if we do not change our thoughts on certain matters we might as well forget to live. We must get our naval vessels more quickly. I am not trying to make political capital out of the situation, but I do suggest that the experts should tell the Minister for the Navy how many vessels will be needed in the future and how long they would last. Not having any practical experience, I would ask these questions: How many vessels do you want? How long will they last? How much will they cost? Then it would be the responsibility of the members of both Houses of the Parliament to face up to the situation. I believe that in the future we will have to bc more dependent upon our own resources than we have ever been in the past. I would like the Minister to ascertain from the experts how long these vessels will last.
– Do you mean how long they will last in service?
– They will last for more than twenty years.
– You ordered these vessels in 1954 and you will not get the last one until 1964. So, ten years will have elapsed.
– That is how long they will last after they are put into service.
– I am not being critical, but am trying to obtain more information about the needs and activities of the Navy than I have at the moment. I suggest with great respect that the Government should think of ordering more of -these vessels within the next five or six years. If we need more vessels of this class, if it takes ten years to build four of them, and if they are serviceable for only twenty years, there would be nothing wrong with our ordering more of them. Let us keep abreast of our needs, irrespective of whether we are happy about the cost involved.
While I am referring to the cost, I point out that if we buy anything in the United States of America we must look at the balance of payments situation. If my recollection is correct, it would cost 30 per cent, more to build vessels here than in the United States. But, in my opinion, to pay that much more for vessels here would not affect the economy as much as it would if we had them built in the United States. I believe that we must enlarge our own shipyards. I remember vividly the crisis we experienced during the last war in obtaining enough ships to take our men to where they were wanted.
– Do you mean naval ships or merchant ships?
– I mean both, but particularly merchant ships, as I recall the facts. I have vivid recollections of hearing Mr. Curtin say that that was one of the particular worries of the time. It is true that during those years we were fortunate to have a part of the United States Pacific Fleet in Australian waters. That got us out of our difficulty. I sincerely hope that we will always be in such a position, but in a changing world we cannot tell.
Whether we like it or not, I think we all must agree that we shall have to look after ourselves a bit more in the future than we have in the past. I do not think we can always lean on other nations to the extent we would like, bearing in mind, of course, that we want to be left alone. Let us hope that other nations are prepared to leave us alone. Australia is a party to the Anzus pact and Seato. Because of our geographical situation and the position to our north, we are in what might be called a trouble spot. Let us hope that the trouble irons itself out. I think I am expressing the views of every one when I say that. We need to look at the present situation much more carefully and with much more knowledge than we are able to gain from the explanatory notes before us.
I note from the document that tenders have been called in the United Kingdom for the construction of four submarines. This is 1963. We are to receive the last of the submarines in June, 1969. I know that it is easy to criticize, and I do not intend my remarks to be construed as criticism, but nevertheless, 1969 is a long, way ahead. The first of the submarines will not arrive until December, 1966. I suppose that all we can do is hope that nothing happens in the meantime.
– I thought that you advocated a continuing programme of naval construction.
– I do. Earlier in my remarks I said that, in another five or six years, we should order more submarines. I suppose there are some worries in that ships which take ten years to reach us may be out of date by that time. We read of the way in which aircraft become obsolete. They seem to become out of date almost overnight. Let us hope that the ships on which we are spending millions of pounds do not become out of date as quickly as that. This is not a matter of political beliefs at all. I am speaking for myself, with no knowledge of naval construction.
However, on reading this explanatory document, I think we have first to consider-
Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- It is deplorable that there should be such a lack of interest in defence matters, not only in the Parliament but also throughout the country. I think that much of the indifference is due to the fact that people are kept in the dark. There is all the time a certain atmosphere around defence matters. In addition, there is propaganda which leaves the people with a lack of real understanding of the danger in which Australia is placed at the present moment. I agree with my Deputy Leader that defence is not a matter of trying to take a rise out of the Government, of scoring or of attempting to gain party political capital from weaknesses, or sins of omission and commission. The nation should know the power of the Anzus pact, and also its weakness. It should know the power and the weakness of Seato, which has been described by Nikita Khrushchev as a paper tiger.
If we get down to facts, we find that Australia, New Zealand and a few other nations, apart from the United States of America, are deplorably weak. Were it not for the United States, I am afraid that Australia would have no chance even against Indonesia. That is also the opinion of men who have studied the position and know more about it than I do. On previous occasions I have spoken of Indonesia’s power and the strength of its army, navy and air force. We know our weakness in regard to the Canberra bombers which have a range of only 800 or 900 miles. We know our weakness in regard to submarines, because we have none at all. I think it should be made plain to the country that we are dependent for our safety almost entirely on the United States. I should like to know whether America is satisfied with the efforts that are being made by Australia in the matter of defence. From time to time we see in the press statements to the effect that American leaders have made it plain that Australia is not doing enough.
Before we can judge whether or not the sums that we are considering in these esti mates are sufficient to enable us to play our part in the defence of Australia, we need to have our darkness dissipated by a statement of fact from the Minister or the Government in relation to our association with America in defence matters. Is America satisfied? It is of no use to blink the facts, or to pull our own legs and deceive ourselves that we are not in a parlous defence position. We have no submarines. A decision has been made to purchase submarines, and the last one will arrive here in 1969. What of the quality of the submarines that we are purchasing? How does the Oberon-class submarine compare with modern submarines? I remember reading an article not so long ago in which a prominent admiral stated that the war of the future would be fought under the sea. I do not know whether he was right or wrong.
The Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) undoubtedly has a deep knowledge of these matters and takes a very keen interest in his portfolio. He may be able to tell me whether or not, in the event of war, an Oberon submarine could search for other submarines and destroy them. Are the submarines we have ordered of a type that is rapidly becoming obsolescent. If they are, what chance would we have in a war of the future? Of what types are the submarines that are owned and controlled by Soekarno and the Indonesians? How many submarines have they? How many submarines has Russia in the Pacific area? Has China any submarines? What chance would our Navy have against the modern submarines that are owned by various nations in the Pacific? I ask those questions and I am sure that the Minister will do his best to answer them.
As I said at the beginning of my remarks, the people are kept in the dark. Through the modern methods of amusement, such as television, their minds are dulled to a great extent by emotionalism and stupidities, banalities, inanities and other things which come to mind. There is no real feeling on the part of the populace of Australia about getting on to a real defence footing. Labour stands for the defence of this country. The Labour Government played a great part during the last war. It has been said time and again that some of the leaders of Labour had their lives shortened because of their activities at that time. All of us in this Parliament must admit that during the war a good job was done by the then Labour Government. When it comes to the safety of Australia every man and woman in this Parliament is at one.
However, no effort is being made per medium of the press, television and radio to bring before the people the truth concerning the defence of Australia. If 1 might use a military term that General MacArthur used, we could soften up the enemy of ignorance if we deliberately set out on a campaign to enlighten the people per medium, say, of television.
Order! The committee is dealing with the estimates for the Navy. I suggest that the honorable senator link up his remarks with those estimates.
– I shall link them up. I am demonstrating to you, Sir, that as far as these estimates are concerned a certain amount of money is being set aside. When we are discussing whether the amount is too much or too little other extraneous matters come into our purview and we have to discuss those matters in order to decide whether or not the Government is right in spending the amount of money provided for in the estimates. It is necessary to go into by-paths in order to illuminate our minds and come to a considered judgment, from our political point of view, whether the Government is doing the right thing. I do not think the sum provided is enough, and I do not think the Government is doing enough.
I am also saying that we should use the avenues of intelligence and propaganda in order to show the people of Australia where we stand. I am satisfied that television should be used. We should not use just one station, but at given periods the whole of the television facilities throughout Australia should be used for this purpose at a given time. It is no use having Red Skelton on one station and propaganda on another, because most people would be tuned to the Red Skelton programme. There are many splendid programmes on television. Honorable senators might think that I am a Philistine when I say that I like to listen to Bob Dyer.
Order! Senator Brown, you must not talk about Bob Dyer or anybody else. You must confine yourself to the estimates before the committee.
– I have only a quarter of an hour in which to speak. It is not often that 1 have the floor in this chamber. Surely I can illustrate the manner in which the people are being misled. I will soon shut up because I can see that it is not much use my continuing, but I say frankly that the Government - it could have been a Labour government but it happens to be the Menzies-Spooner-McEwen Government - is not doing its duty by Australia because it is not using the facilities it has at hand to demonstrate to the people where we are lacking in regard to defence. If the Government adopted my suggestion it would use television at certain times to tell the people the truth. The Government would then have every man and woman in Australia behind it in the defence of Australia.
– I wish to comment on one aspect of Senator Brown’s remarks. He asked how an Oberon class submarine would compare with a modern submarine. An Oberon class submarine is a modern submarine. It is the most modern conventional submarine in the world. It is of a far later design and has a better performance than the “ W “ class Russian submarines which are in the possession of the Indonesian Navy. Oberon class submarines are equipped to seek out and destroy other submarines. The only way in which an atomic-driven submarine has an advantage over an Oberon class submarine is that the atomic-driven submarine can remain submerged for longer periods and has a higher under-water speed. I repeat that the Oberon class submarine is the most modem conventional class submarine known in the world to-day.
I may have misled Senator Kennelly by saying that the life of a ship was twenty years. I meant to indicate - and this is in accordance with the facts - that the life of the hull of a ship, once the ship has entered the water and gone into commission, is 20 to 22 years. Consequently, the time taken in building a ship does not enter into consideration at all; it is the use we get out of the ship after it has been commissioned that is important. Of course, the ship is changed during that time. There may be a major refit after ten years, and new equipment will be put into the vessel. At the end of the period it is not the same ship as it was at the beginning, but the normal stresses of the sea will render the hull unsuitable for further service, and the machinery may be worn out, after 20 or 22 years service. For example, the frigates about which the honorable senator was talking have changed since the keels were laid down. They will be equipped with Seacat guided missiles for short-range air attacks. These were not even in existence when the keels were laid down. In relation to whether we could build D.D.G. ships in Australia, I have never said that we could not. I have merely said that it would take so much effort, time and money, that our Australian seamen would not get the protection that they deserve as quickly as they can get it by having the ships built overseas. Again, the same tonnage of ships could not be built in the same time in Australia. With the savings we have effected we have been able to spend millions of pounds in developing an Australian antisubmarine missile which will be an Australian component of our ships. We would not have been able to spend that amount of money if we had sought to obtain the same physical quantity of ships in Australia as we are able to get from abroad.
Sitting suspended from 5.44 to 8 p.m.
Assent to the following bills reported: -
Social Services Bill 1963.
Repatriation Bill 1963.
Bill presented by Senator Sir William Spooner, and read a firsttime.
Standing Orders suspended.
[8.1]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The bill asks the Parliament to approve an agreement between the Governments of the Commonwealth and New South Wales in relation to the design and construction of the Blowering storage and certain other ancillary works.
The agreement provides, first, for the construction of a dam on the Tumut River at Blowering which will provide a storage with a capacity of 1,300,000 acre-feet of water and of all appurtenant works. Secondly, the agreement deals with the provision by the Commonwealth of a loan to the State of half of the cost of the proposed works. Repayment of the loan will begin ten years after the first payment made by the Commonwealth and each payment made by the Commonwealth will be repaid by twenty equal consecutive halfyearly amounts. The rate of interest payable by the State shall be the appropriate rate on long-term Commonwealth loans.
Thirdly, the agreement provides for the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority as agent for the State to design and construct the dam spillway, outlet works and other incidental works; and that these works will be in service within six years of the date of the agreement. Fourthly, the gation areas in the Murrumbidgee Valley, six months after the completion of the Blowering storage works, to make available a minimum of 70 large irrigation farms within the Coleambally, or other irrigation areas in the Murrumbidgee Valley, together with horticultural farms; and to make provision for the full use of all the additional water provided by the storage within ten years of the date of completion of the works.
At the same time as these works are being carried out the Snowy Mountains Authority will construct a power station to utilize the irrigation releases from the reservoir for generating electricity. The extent of this work has not yet been finalized but its cost has been estimated tentatively as £7,000,000.
The Blowering reservoir is an important work ancillary to the Snowy Mountains scheme. At this point therefore I take the opportunity to give a progress report on what has already been accomplished and what is proposed in the immediate future. This will show clearly how essential it is that Blowering should be built as speedily as practicable.’
The recent approvals I have just mentioned will provide an increase in the generating capacity of the Murray 1 and Murray 2 power stations of approximately 25 per cent., this is, from 1,200,000 to 1,500,000 kilowatts. These stations will now operate at 17 per cent, load factor instead of the 22 per cent, load factor originally planned. This change resulted from representations made by the electricity commissions of New South Wales and Victoria. It involves an additional capital expenditure of approximately £10,000,000. It will materially assist in meeting the rapidly growing demand for power in those States.
It is interesting to note in passing that this trend towards a lower load , factor confirms the. soundness of the original conception of the Snowy Mountains scheme - namely, that its power would be more advantageously used for peak load rather than for base load purposes. Honorable senators may remember that in the early stages of the scheme there was some doubt and a good deal of public discussion as to whether Snowy power would be more valuable if delivered at high or low load factor. Experience has shown, however, that the States get greatest value from the scheme if the large quantities of electricity generated are ‘delivered over a short period of each day when the demand for power is at its highest.
I know - 1 have the support of all honorable senators in expressing our appreciation of the fact that progress in the construction of the Snowy. Mountains scheme has been more rapid than any of us expected when the scheme was begun. Looking back I believe I would be right in saying that few of us would have expected .that we would have reached that stage ..that 660,000 kilowatts of electricity and 1,000,000 acre-feet of water would be available by 1962; and that, by 1969, the whole of the water, 1,900,000 acre-feet, would be made available and 2,160,000 kilowatts - 70 per cent, of the planned capacity - provided. Total investment in the Snowy scheme at the 30th June, 1963, exceeded £200,000,000.
The demand for power in New South Wales and Victoria is increasing at the rate of between 8 and 10 per cent, per annum. The Snowy scheme is providing a substantial proportion of this increasing demand at a satisfactory price and without capital investment by those two States. The power produced is without doubt a valuable contribution. It could, however, be obtained if needs be from other sources. But Australia’s resources of water are very limited. In the long run, therefore, the ‘diversion inland of the waters of the Snowy and their use for irrigation are of even greater national importance than their use for power production.
The completion of the Tumut 1 and Tumut 2 projects has so far made available an increase of 500,000 acre feet a year to the Mumimbidgee River. The construction of the Blowering dam will increase this amount by 600,000 acre feet per annum - that is, to 1,100,000 acre feet - for use on that river. In other words, the great national benefits which the Snowy/Tumut section of the Snowy Mountains scheme offers will not be fully realized until the waters made available by this section of the scheme are put to work in irrigation in the Murrumbidgee valley. The Blowering dam has to be built before this result can be achieved.
Construction of the Blowering dam will permit the waters of the Tumut River, together with waters diverted to the Tumut by works of the scheme from the Tooma, Eucumbene and the upper Murrumbidgee lo be controlled and released as and when required for irrigation along the Murrumbidgee. At present the power station releases during the winter months cannot he utilized and, in addition, the natural flow of the Tumut itself is not fully controlled.
Some of the additional water made available bv the scheme is being used already in extensions (o the Murrumbidgee irrigation area, in the new Coleambally irrigation area and in similar irrigation developments e’sewhere along the Mumimbidgee. Of prime interest here is the Coleambally irrigation area, the largest single irrigation closer settlement scheme ever attempted in Australia, comparable in size with the whole of the existing Murrumbidgee irrigation area, situated on the opposite side of the Murrumbidgee River.
Using the water made available to date, some 156 farms have been allocated and occupied at Coleambally and by the end of 1964 a total of 203 farms will have been settled. When all the water is available, however, it should be possible, after providing for other miscellaneous developments along the river, to establish at least an additional 650 farms.
Most of the Coleambally farms will be large holdings, 500 to 600 acres in area, producing a wide range of products including rice, wheat, barley, fat lambs, wool, beef, and possibly cotton. There will also be a number of horticultural farms. The products I have enumerated are essential to meet the requirements of our rapidly growing population and to maintain and increase exports. The gross value of additional primary production which will be made possible by the construction of the Blowering dam will be of the order of f 8,000,000 a year.
Under the Snowy Mountains agreement the New South Wales Government accepted the responsibility for constructing the Blowering dam. That government, however, has indicated that it is not in a position to begin the construction of the dam immediately or to carry the work to completion with expedition. While this position continues, Australia, as a whole, as well as the State of New South Wales, cannot realize the great national benefits which I have outlined. The Commonwealth has therefore agreed to lend New South Wales half the cost of constructing the Blowering dam, at present estimated at £22,000,000. This figure does not include the cost of the power station, which will be included in the works tentatively estimated to cost £7,000,000.
New South Wales for its part has undertaken to carry out the works necessary to enable the water to be fully used within ten 3’ears from the date on which it becomes available. New South Wales has already spent some £6,000,000 on the Gogelderie weir and supporting works. It will need to make a further expenditure of approximately £10,000,000 to complete the works necessary for full, effective use of the water that will be available.
I should perhaps mention also that the construction of the Blowering dam, by providing regulation of the flow of the Tumut, will eliminate the surges in the flow of the river which result from the operation of the Tumut power stations and mitigate damage presently caused by flooding of low-lying land adjacent to the river. Honorable senators will recall that the Commonwealth has undertaken to compensate land owners along a defined section of the river who may suffer damage by flooding until such time as the Blowering works “ are so far constructed and brought into operation as to commence to control the waters of the Tumut River”.
The agreement provides for the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority to act as the agent of the New South Wales Government in the design and construction of the dam. This arrangement was made because part of the Commonwealth advance is being provided by some deferment of works planned by the authority for construction after completion of the Murray 2 project.
With such a big undertaking as the Snowy Mountains scheme continuity in the programme is essential so as to ensure that all skills and resources are engaged continuously. A break in the programme means disengaged skills and resources with consequent loss in efficiency and higher costs. The arrangements which have been made will enable full use to be made of the authority’s staff and resources during the period of deferment of its own programme, and together with works planned and in progress provide a firm programme for the next seven years. Murray 1 will come into operation progressively over the period 1966-68, Murray 2 in 1969 and Blowering in 1970. Meanwhile the authority will bc firming up its plans for the later developments.
The works to be built after the completion of Murray 2 power station will be those to utilize ‘the flow of the Tumut River below the Tumut 1 and 2 power stations. There is no firm programme for these works. In any case, the trend towards construction of power stations with lower load factors than were provided for in the early stages of planning necessitates some reconsideration of these works. Up to this stage the thought has been that they might come into operation from about 1972 to 1974. The re-arrangement of finances and work of the Snowy Mountains authority consequent upon the commitment to construct Blowering envisages that their dates of operation will be deferred by twelve months.
I emphasize that the use of the flow of the Tumut River below Tumut 2 power station is not yet decided: that alternative projects are still under investigation; that the Commonwealth is not committed to a programme for these works. There is still a substantial amount of investigational work to be done and discussion with the electricity authorities of the States to be carried out before finality is reached.
The Commonwealth decision to authorize the Snowy Mountains authority to accept commitments for the completion of Murray 2 power station by 1969 was one of the most important made in the history of the Snowy Mountains scheme. It envisaged that the national investment in the scheme of approximately £200,000,000 would rise to an amount of the order of £340,000,000 by 19657: It set the time-table for giving Australia the opportunity of using all of the waters of the Snowy and 70 per cent, of the power which could be produced. It was, therefore, naturally a time for stocktaking. That stocktaking emphasized the potential national advantage which we were failing to capitalize without Blowering. It was against this background that the Commonwealth decided to give financial assistance to New South Wales. It is not that State alone, but the whole of Australia as well, which will benefit from the large scale developments in the Murrumbidgee valley made possible by the construction of the Blowering dam.
We have ahead of us the challenging task of utilizing Australia’s natural resources as quickly as we can. We need to grow more foodstuffs to feed our growing population and to earn additional export income. We need to promote decentralization wherever practicable. It can justly be claimed that there is no better opportunity at present available in Australia for making such a substantial contribution towards achieving these national objectives in a comparatively short period of time, and with such good prospects of success, than by putting the waters of the Snowy to work in the productive Murrumbidgee valley.
It was consideration of these national aspects of the Blowering dam which primarily influenced the Commonwealth decision to give to the State of New South Wales the financial assistance provided for in this measure. I commend the bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Bill presented by Sir William Spooner, and read a first time.
Standing Orders suspended.
[8.23]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to extend the period of office of Sir William Hudson as Commissioner, Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority, for three years. Sir William was the first commissioner appointed under the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority Act. His initial appointment dated from 1st August, 1949, and was for a period of seven years. In 1956 he was appointed for a further term which, in accordance with the provisions of section 9 (2.) of the act, expired on 26th April, 1961, the day proceeding his 65th birthday. Legislation was enacted in 1960 to extend Sir William’s term of office to 26th April, 1964.
Honorable senators will be well aware of the difficulties that were encountered in the early days of the Snowy scheme. The problems of establishing a top-flight engineering organization in the early 1950’s and the problems associated with the 3,000 square mile area, in which there was an almost complete lack of the basic maps and hydrological and geological data so necessary in the planning and design of a large and complex power and irrigation scheme, were overcome under Sir William Hudson’s direction.
In those early days wc saw the Guthega power project completed quickly to assist in overcoming the critical power shortages in the post-war years. Major construction works were soon under way and by early 1962 the two large underground Tumut 1 and Tumut 2 power stations were both in service with the scheme supplying 660,000 kilowatts of power to New South Wales and Victoria. At that time some 45 miles of tunnel, many miles of aqueducts and six major dams were in operation.
Not only had the first major section of the scheme been completed by April, 1962, but completion of the 14-mile EucumbeneTumut tunnel in June, 1959, had created the first link between the coastal and inland river systems and made possible the conservation, on a large scale, of Aus tralia’s eastern water resources for the benefit of the inland. Complete control of these diverted waters foi irrigation purposes is now being made possible by the decision we have taken to expedite the construction of Blowering dam on the lower Tumut River. These have been achievements of considerable engineering magnitude. We already have, in these completed works, a heritage which is a source of pride, a source of great interest to the Australian public and overseas visitors, and a valuable asset and example of the efficient development of our natural resources.
It would be less than fair to suggest that these achievements have resulted from the efforts of Sir William Hudson alone. He has had behind him a team of highly skilled and experienced technical and administrative personnel. But in my view there are three outstanding aspects which clearly point to the initiative, drive and judgment of the top management of the Snowy Mountains Authority. These are, first, the manner in which the Australian public is becoming, and has been given the opportunity to become, enthusiastic about the Snowy scheme; secondly, the fact that the authority’s- projects are invariably completed on or ahead of schedule; and, thirdly, the almost complete absence of industrial troubles in the Snowy Mountains area.
At the present time, the authority is facing its peak rate of construction. The large and complex projects of the first stage of the Snowy-Murray development are under construction and the works which comprise the second stage of the SnowyMurray development are under detailed design. All these works are planned to be in operation by 1969-70. After that, the construction of the remaining projects on the upper Snowy and lower Tumut rivers will see the completion of the scheme.
The Murray 1 power station will commence operation in 1966, and the Murray 2 station will commence operation in 1969. These stations are planned to be by far the largest in the Snowy scheme, with power installations of 950,000 and 550,000 kilowatts respectively. The year 1966 will see the first diversion of the waters of the
Snowy River to the Murray and full diversion potential will be realized by 1969.
Aside from these very large power stations and a pumping station to be constructed at Jindabyne, Snowy-Murray works now in progress and to be undertaken between now and 1969 comprise five major dams, about 44 miles of large diameter tunnel, more than 10 miles of concrete pipe aqueducts and tunnel, high pressure steel pipe lines to convey water to the power stations and from the Jindabyne pumping plant and electrical transmission facilities.
Good progress is being made with these works, as evidenced by the fact that 15 miles of tunnel has already been excavated out of a total length of 31 miles required under current contracts. This has been achieved in a period of twenty months. However, there is still much to be done and many problems to be solved. Between now and 1969, expenditure by the Snowy Mountains Authority will amount to about £120,000,000.
Honorable senators know for themselves the capabilities of Sir William Hudson. I have said enough here and on previous occasions to make my own view and the view of the Government also very clear on this aspect. Sir William Hudson is able and willing to continue as Commissioner for a further three-year term. The Government would be most loath to lose Sir William’s leadership at thi:, stage, when the peak construction phase of the SnowyMurray section of the scheme is approaching and when the contracts for the second phase of the development are about to be launched.
I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
In committee: Consideration resumed (vide page 812).
Department of the Navy.
Proposed expenditure, £54,509,000.
– First, I wish to make some comments in relation to Division No. 481, Naval Construction, in the light of what the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) has said. As I understood his submissions about the construction, of naval vessels in Australia, he argued on two main propositions. I understood him to say that, in relation to costs and the time required to complete the projects, Australian construction would place us at a disadvantage. He said that the vessels would not be available for service in sufficient- time and’ that they would be too expensive.. I know that this point of view has been put to deputations from the shipbuilding industry and from trade unions whose members work in the shipbuilding industry. What I think concerns the people in the. industry is the fact that if we do not start to commission the building of ships by the Australian industry we will lose experience in the craft. That is why I asked a question earlier as to the number of apprentices employed in the shipyards. I was pleased to learn that the number had been increased.
The point that I should like the Minister to consider is that at some stage the Australian shipbuilding industry will probably have to build naval vessels because of the possible defence danger which could result from our inability to build them. Another important point concerns the extent to which consideration has been given to the use of Australian components .and Australian fittings in vessels which are built overseas. I refer to Charles F. Adams class vessels and to the new submarines. It seems to me that some part of the components and fittings should be of Australian manufacture. This would enable Australian industries to gain needed experience and skill in this field that they should have. If the Government cannot agree to the construction of naval vessels in Australia at least it should ensure that they contain the maximum number of Australian components.
I make what seems to me to be a sensible analogy. A few years ago it was said that Australia could not make certain types of road transport, earth-moving equipment and weapons carriers, and we had to get them from overseas. In reply to a question which I asked in the Senate recently I was told that the Department of Defence is now using Australian manufactured vehicles of various types. I want to see the day when we can use Australian workers for the building of naval vessels. I ask the Minister for the Navy whether any consideration has been given to this matter. If it is not yet possible to meet the requests of the industry and the unions engaged in it could the Government prepare a plan under which a certain proportion of secondary ship fittings or components could be made in Australia?
I now wish to refer to a matter which I raised recently in the Senate by way of a question. It is probably related to Division No. 493. It relates to the system of electronic computers now being used in the Department of Defence. I understand that these computers are handling work for all the services. Recently I directed the attention of the Minister to a statement that the system was not being operated fully because sufficient trained men were not available. Has the Department of the Navy its own system of electronic computing devices for the purpose of making computations, not only of pay but also of stores and undertaking other accounting work? If so, is it fully operative and has the department sufficient personnel to use it satisfactorily?
A further question which seems more important from the defence point of view is this: What consideration has been given to having an alternative system available if the centralized electronic computer system should be put out of service by enemy action? I have not had an answer to a question which I raised on this subject. It seems to me that confusion or disruption could result from the system being put out of service.
On the subject of rents, I notice that, in an information booklet with which senators have been supplied, there is some information relating to Division No. 489 and Division No. 499. Division No. 499 refers to homes valued at £185,000 to be built by various State housing authorities. I understand that there is an accommodation problem in relation to about 12,000 servicemen of the various forces. Can the Minister tell me how many naval personnel are waiting for accommodation and whether the amount referred to in this division will provide them with the accommodation that they need? Will this expenditure result in the accommodation of all single and married Navy personnel who are waiting for it, or does the amount simply represent part of a year-by-year project? I should also like to know whether rents are charged to naval personnel on a preferential basis, having regard to the service of personnel or are they purely economic rents.
– The estimates of expenditure of the Department of the Navy for the current financial year have increased to £54,509,000 from about £49,000,000 for the previous year. In addressing my remarks to Division No. 471, Mr. Chairman, let me say at the outset that we of the Opposition more than appreciate that in the protection of our waterways during peace-time, and in defence of our sea lanes in time of hostility, the Navy has a very important role to play. Especially is this so when one realizes that Australia is one of the largest trading nations in the world, with 99 per cent, of its exports and imports being carried by sea transport. I appreciate the size of the task that is imposed upon our naval personnel in protecting a coastline of 12,000 miles.
My remarks are addressed to Division No. 471, and I propose to direct the attention of honorable senators to the details that are set out in the schedule of salaries and allowances at page 201 of Document A. Before I do so I wish to refer to the defence review that was given in this chamber on 22nd May last by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge). He said, amongst other things -
The personnel strength of the Royal Australian Navy will be increased from the present approved total of 13,900 to about 14,300.
If we look at the particulars set out on page 201 of the document to which I have referred we note that it is expected that in this financial year the strength of the Navy will be increased from 12,800 to 14,300. Of the anticipated total of 14,300, 568 personnel will be members of the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service and 350 will be members of the Dockyard Police. In other words, only 13,382 will be combatant personnel.
If we examine the details which show the number of active servicemen in the Navy, we note that this year that number will be increased by 2 commodores, 8 commanders, 59 lieutenant-commanders, lieutenants and sub-lieutenants, 20 midshipmen and cadet midshipmen, and 1,308 petty officers and seamen. I should like the Minister to tell us the amount that was spent on naval recruiting publicity in the last financial year to attract that increase of 1,396. I know that this matter comes under the general heading of defence services, but perhaps the Minister has some idea of the total expenditure on recruiting that is applicable to the Department of the Navy. Perhaps one might be pardoned for thinking that we are not getting the utmost value for our money and that ways and means of spending this money more profitably could be worked out.
Perhaps the Minister will be able to reconcile with the figures I have mentioned his statement at page 8 of the explanatory notes that the estimated strength of the permanent Naval forces at 30th June, 1964, will be 12,255. As I have said, the details show that the number of active combatant personnel is expected to be 13,382 and that the total size of the force, including non-combatants, will be 14,300. Not by any stretch of the imagination can I reconcile the two sets of figures.
I should like to know what the situation is in regard to obtaining medical practitioners for service in the Royal Australian Navy. I do not know what rank doctors hold in the Navy; perhaps they are included in the 1,092 lieutenant-commanders, lieutenants and sub-lieutenants. As honorable senators will appreciate, medical attention for our servicemen is of the utmost importance. I should like to know whether any difficulty is being experienced by the Navy in obtaining the services of these trained men. If so, what steps are being taken to overcome, that difficulty?
I turn now to Division No. 482, which relates to the purchase and manufacture of aircraft and associated initial equipment. Expenditure under this heading last year amounted to £5,122,901. This year it is proposed to expend £1,717,000. I know that, as the Minister has told honorable senators from time to time, during the last financial year the Govercment purchased 27 Westland Wessex helicopters. In the defence review that was presented on 22nd May, the Minister said -
We have reviewed our 1959 decision that fixedwing naval aviation should cease in 1963. After recent re-appraisals of the wing-fatigue life of the Venoms and Gannets, and reports of the very low wastage and accident rate, we have decided that fixed-wing flying is to continue until the Venoms and Gannets reach the end of their service life. This will be about 1967 when the position can be reviewed. These aircraft will, of course, be used in conjunction with the Westland Wessex helicopters already under delivery.
In reply to a question asked recently by Senator Hannaford, the Minister told the Senate that, generally speaking, these helicopters would be used for spotting and reconnaissance purposes.
Despite the wing-fatigue life of the Gannets and Venoms, the low accident rate and the low wastage rate, all of which are important, I ask this question: How do these aircraft which the Government intends to keep in operation until 1967 compare on an operational basis with those of any potential enemy? For example, how do they compare willi the Russian M.I.G. fighter which I understand a near neighbour possesses? * Is the Minister satisfied that in the event of hostilities our naval airmen will be flying planes that will be able to compete against any that might be opposed to them? We all recall how our Air Force men went up in Wirraways over Rabaul during the Japanese attack in 1942. They went up almost suicidally against the Japanese Zeros. Indeed, it was only because of the courage of the Australian airmen that the aircraft were got into the air. I know that the Gannets and Venoms are better than the Wirraways and that they are serviceable, but are they comparable with aircraft that might be used against Australian forces? In other words, are we giving our servicemen the very best with which to defend not only themselves but also this great, country?
A lot has been said by my colleagues about naval construction, for which provision is made in Division No. 481. They have adverted to the possibility of constructing naval ships in Australia and have directed their thoughts broadly to the construction of what are commonly known as warships. I want to refer to the small search and rescue boats that are operated by the Royal Australian Navy. I have been informed - I ask the Minister whether my information is correct - that these small craft were procured in 1942 and that their top speed was about 30 knots, but that because of their age and state of repair the craft now in use can operate at only about half speed. I know that the Minister has already told honorable senators that a number ‘of Wessex helicopters have been purchased by the Navy. No doubt, in some instances the helicopters will be used to replace search and rescue boats, but I suggest that that will not always be possible. Indeed, I suggest it is necessary for the boats to be retained and improved.
I should like to know how many search and rescue boats the Royal Australian Navy operates, and also their vintage and degree of serviceability. Have plans been made, or are they being made, to bring this equipment up to date? I am led to believe that the Royal Australian Air Force no longer operates this type of craft for rescuing airmen whose aircraft have ditched in the sea. Therefore, it is even more important that the rescue equipment operated by the Royal Australian Navy should be as modern as possible. The small search and rescue craft could well be built in Australian - shipyards. Can the Minister say whether the search and rescue boats that are to be operated in future by the Royal Australian Navy, or which might be procured by it, will be built in Australian shipyards?
There are other matters to which I want to refer, Mr. Chairman, but since I notice that my time has almost expired I shall raise them at an appropriate time later.
– In replying to the matters that have been raised, I shall deal with the last ones first and work backwards. I am not sure of the number of sea-air rescue launches which the Navy has at present in operation, but at Nowra, where the flying takes place, there are three sea-air rescue launches. I think that information which Senator McClelland said he had been given as applicable to all the launches applies at this stage only to one which was damaged in a storm on 19th September. Therefore, that one is at this moment - before repair - unable to operate at anything like its full speed. The other two are able to operate at their full speed. Only to-day, I answered a question which had been asked on this subject in another place.
The average speed of an air-sea rescue craft going out to pick up the crew of an aircraft which had crashed a hundred miles away, and coming back again, would be about 25 knots. One of the craft was built by Halvorsen’s and the other was taken over from the Americans after the war. The naval use of such craft is, of course, confined to the rescue of air crew flying from the land. They are of no use to air crew flying from carriers. Helicopters’ would be used for that purpose. Without giving an on-the-spot judgment which could be held against me, I should think that, should launches of this type need to be replaced, they are of a kind which would naturally be built in Australian shipyards.
I come to the question of how our Gannets and Venoms of the Fleet Air Arm would operate against a modern M.I.G. aircraft. The answer is that they would not operate against it, nor would it be proposed that they should operate in areas where the modern M.I.G. fighter could work. The Gannets are anti-submarine aircraft. They are not fighters. They are slow aircraft. They fly at a low height. They have radar to pick up submarines, and they have methods of attacking submarines. That is their role. The area in which they could be attacked by a modern fighter, of a type which might be held by some of our neighbours, would not extend beyond 200 miles from the coast of the country which held the fighter. Consequently, outside that radius the Gannets and Venoms would not come up against opposition of that kind. It would not be proposed to use them inside that area, because if they were alone they would be outclassed. The Venoms, which are fighters, are competent to drive off shadowing aircraft, should the enemy have longrange reconnaissance aircraft circling a convoy. They are competent to repel any bombing attacks against a fleet.
Medical practitioners in the Navy hold all ranks, from admiral down. The controller of the whole medical section is Admiral Lockwood. Other officers hold the rank of captain - from memory, there are two captains - commander and lieutenantcommander, down to sick-berth attendants. The Navy has recently re-introduced its own nursing service as well. I know of no degree of under-establishment in the medical branch of the Navy, nor have 1 heard of any.
I was asked how I could reconcile the figures, on page 8 of my pamphlet, where it is slated that, on 30th June, 1964, the Navy will have 12,255 men, with the figures on page ‘ 201 of the Estimates, showing the establishment as 14,300. The answer is that the figure of 14,300 is the authorized establishment for the Navy. That is the figure to which the Government has authorized the Navy to recruit. If Senator McClelland looks a little above the figure of 14,300 in the Estimates he will see the words “ Less amount estimated to remain unexpended “. Each year the Navy has to put forward its authorized ceiling, or the amount that it would cost if it had all the members required to bring it up to its authorized ceiling, and to show the amount that will be unexpended because the authorized ceiling will not be reached in that particular year. I- hope the honorable senator understands that the actual figure we shall reach by June, 1964, is” 12,555. We shall thereafter be increasing to the authorized ceiling of 14,300.
Senator Bishop inquired about rent. The Navy has not yet arrived at the position where it can provide all the accommodation that is required by its ratings. The shortage is almost entirely in New South Wales. There is no housing difficulty in any of the other States. Although we have reduced, and are reducing, the numbers on the list in New South Wales, I do not at the moment know the exact number on the list. In spite of the increasing number of personnel in the Navy, there is still a housing requirement if we are to meet all the requests made by our ratings. We need more nouses than we actually receive from the Housing Commission. As is always the case in the services, the rent is 15 per cent, of the pay or economic rate, whichever is the lesser.
Senator Bishop also asked, whether electronic computers are provided in the Navy. The Navy has not yet obtained its own electronic data processing system. The Defence Department has such a system, and so has the Department of Air. The Navy will be . the next to get one, and following that, the Army will get one. At the moment, we are recruiting staff to operate the machines. This year we shall purchase the initial equipment for the machines, but they are not yet in operation. The question of damage to them preventing the Navy from obtaining up-to-date information is not as serious as it might at first be thought. There is a drum in the machines. I cannot give definite information on the point, and I cannot say whether it is a magnetic tape or whether there is a punch card system; however, there is a drum, and at the end of each day the drum is removed and placed in a bomb-proof, fire-proof, explosion-proof room, so that should a machine be destroyed, there is a full taped record of what has happened up to the day before it was destroyed. The record can be played back, if that is the right expression, arid the tapes can be used in any of the machines belonging to the other services. If all machines were destroyed it might take some time to find other machines to play back the tapes, but they could be found in the industrial complex of Australia.
Senator Bishop also, referred to naval construction under Division No. 481. All I can do is to say briefly that the military advantages -of constructing these vessels abroad are that we get them quicker and that we get more vessels for the money available to us from the Australian taxpayers. Those are the military advantages. What are the military disadvantages, if any? It is claimed that it ‘might be of military advantage for us to construct the ships in Australia. It is very difficult to know why that claim is made. The time taken to construct modern ships - as has been pointed out from both sides of the Senate - even constructing them very quickly, as those in the United States are being constructed, is some four years. An emergency, according to modern military thinking, is likely to be over by the end of two or three years.
In any case, when we use the term construction we really mean “ assembly “. Those who talk of constructing warships - the people who own the shipyards - really mean assembling warships, because they know that it would be out of the question to divert at this stage of Australia’s growth a sufficient number of men and machines, and a sufficient amount of effort, to make all the components that go into a modern warship. What they mean by constructing a modern warship is assembling the major components, which go into a hull built in this country. There would be no great military advantage, even in the case of assembling a ship, if Australia were still dependent on imports of the major components.
Senator Bishop drew an analogy between shipbuilding and the making of earthmoving equipment, road vehicles and things of that nature. That is a very good statement but a very bad analogy, because in the case of road vehicles thousands of vehicles come off the assembly line. In the case of earth-moving equipment a large number of machines is required. In the case of warships, in our present state, size and capacity, only one, two or three ships of a type would be built. That puts a different complexion on the analogy drawn by Senator Bishop. An analogy between the two kinds of manufacture involved cannot properly be drawn. We are, of course, in another sense, acting in accordance with the analogy that Senator Bishop attempted to draw. We are doing what has never been done before in Australia, both for the Navy and the other armed services. We are providing, and we have provided, the capacity in Australia to make, during time of war, those items which are used in large quantities. I refer to shells for guns, to parts of ships which we know from experience will quickly wear out and need to be replaced, to small arms ammunition, gun barrels and things of that kind. In the case of the Army, land mines, machine guns and transport equipment are in the same category.
We are incorporating in these guided missile ships - ‘this, I think, is the way to go about it - an Australian component. I refer to the Ikara anti-submarine missile which has cost millions of pounds to develop and to experiment with, and which has almost reached the point where it is coming off the assembly lines. That part of the ships will be an all-Australian part. As our strength increases and we need more capacity we can consider providing other items for defence, and eventually we may arrive at the point at which we should like to arrive. At this stage, however, for the reasons I have given, the defence of Australia is best served by getting, in the quickest possible time, the greatest amount of the things that we need.
– I appreciate the manner in which the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) has answered the questions I have asked. I now refer him to Division No. 493 dealing with buildings, works, fittings and furniture. I notice that the proposed expenditure this year under this item is to be some £165,000 less than the actual expenditure last year. I wish to refer to the Royal Australian Naval College at Jervis Bay. That, of course, is the centre where cadets entering the Royal Australian Navy receive their initial training. I understand that there is a considerable shortage of accommodation at the centre and I am led to believe that the cadets who enlist in the Royal Australian Navy, and who undergo training at the Jervis Bay naval training centre, are allowed a living space of some 54 square feet each in comparison with about 100 to 108 square feet allowed to cadets attending the Royal Australian Military College.
What will be the situation at Jervis Bay in the event of the necessity for an expeditious intake of cadets, having regard to the accommodation that exists at the moment? Perhaps the Minister can tell us whether plans are in hand to extend accommodation and training facilities at the Royal Australian Naval College. I understand that the cadets do their initial training at the college and then, after some time, go to Dartmouth in England to finish their training. After two or three years at Jervis Bay they go to Dartmouth for a period of twelve months or two years in order to complete their training. I was wondering whether the naval authorities have it in mind to extend the course available to cadets at the Royal Australian Naval College. Frankly I should like to know why the course cannot be extended in Australia and what naval facilities are lacking at Jervis Bay. Is it that we have insufficient ships? Is it that we have insufficient submarines? Is it that the training facilities are too obsolete and not sufficiently up to date to enable the cadets to complete their training at Jervis Bay? The time is quickly arriving when Australia will reach the stage where it must, to the best of its ability, stand on its own feet, especially in regard to training. I ask the Minister to pay heed to this particular point and consider whether the services available for training at the Jervis Bay college can be extended.
I pass now to Division No. 484 which deals with defence research and development. I notice that the expenditure is to be increased from £708,942 last year to an estimated £951,000 this financial year. I was wondering whether the naval authorities have given consideration, under .this heading, to the extension of the Jervis Bay anchorage for naval purposes. Not long ago I was in the south of New South Wales and I made a detailed tour of Jervis Bay and its environs. About some ten miles from the bay we have the Fleet Air Arm operating at Nowra, and, of course, right on the bay is the Royal Australian Navy College. Jervis Bay has a deepwater anchorage and I understand that at times during the hostilities between this country and Japan certain ships belonging to the American fleet, as well as those belonging to the Australian fleet, used the bay frequently. I suggest that if it is not possible to transfer all our naval operations going on in Sydney at the present time we could perhaps give some consideration to a dispersal of our forces between Port Jackson and Jervis Bay. In this regard it might be possible for the Minister to give consideration to connecting the south head of Jervis Bay to Bowen Island, which is about three-quarters of a mile away, and extending a breakwater out from Bowen Island for about 400 or 500 yards to make what I suggest, and what I am led to believe, would be an excellent anchorage for Australian naval vessels. In this way the fleet would be dispersed in the event of hostilities or of an enemy air attack on shipping. Also, because of the proximity of the naval air arm services at Nowra, which is some 10 miles away, this would be a great advantage in our defence preparedness. I do not know whether these matters have been considered by the Minister or his departmental advisers, but I believe that the suggestions have great merit. I ask the Minister, when replying, to enlighten me in this regard.
Senator GORTON (Victoria - Minister some regard to the suggestion of extending a breakwater . from Bowen Island to the south head of Jervis Bay. A question about whether this should be done was asked in another place some days ago. In reply to that question the naval experts advised me that they had no intention of extending a breakwater from the south head of Jervis Bay out to Bowen Island because in no sense would it improve the anchorage at Jervis Bay. I am not an expert, but what I have stated. is an expert opinion supplied by naval officers who had given attention to the problem.
One of the reasons why the vote for works and services this year is less than it was last, year is that a book-keeping change has been made. . Previously we,had to show on our vote a 6 per cent, overhead charge for buildings. This charge was made by the Department of Works and collected by it. That system was changed and we no longer have to show that 6 per cent. That is an amount which would now appear only in the accounts of the Department of Works.
I refer now to the officers’ training college at Jervis Bay. I have my own opinion on this, as well as the opinion of senior naval officers, and I do not believe that the cadets undergoing training at that college are suffering any hardship because of the accommodation provided. I should be very happy for the honorable, senator or anybody else at any time to inspect the naval college and to see the accommodation provided for the cadets. I am more interested at this stage in trying to see that the substandard accommodation for ratings in the Navy, which is still extensive in some stations, is improved and brought up to modern standards. A cadet officer who goes to Jervis Bay is a young man who enters the college either at the intermediate examination level or at matriculation standard, by which time he is about eighteen years old. I think it is not necessary for a cadet to be given anything out of the way in his standard of accommodation, provided that what he has is clean, warm, comfortable and adequate. I believe that what is provided for the cadet officers meets those requirements.
The cadet officers have, according to whether they are an intermediate or matriculation entry, either four years or two years at Jervis Bay. Then, if it is possible - in most cases it is - they go to sea for a year so that they can do some practical training at sea before embarking on the second part of their academic training. They then carry on with the second part of their training either at Dartmouth, if they are seamen specialists or in classifications of that type, or at Manadon if they are engineers or electrical engineers. At Manadon they can qualify for degrees given by the London University.
There are a number of reasons why this course was selected. Speaking from memory, I think it is only three years ago that, after a very careful investigation by the Second Naval Member, who is now Admiral McNicoll and who was then in charge of personnel, and educationists brought in to make a report on the sort of training given to the cadets there, this course was decided upon. The reason for a year’s exercise at sea is that experience has shown in other countries, as well as here, that an unbroken academic course of four or five years is not as good as one that goes to a certain point, is followed by practical experience and then is completed. 1 should be sorry to see any change in the completion of these courses at Dartmouth or Manadon in the United Kingdom for a variety of reasons. One is that there is a great deal more equipment at those stations on which to train cadets. It is more economic to provide that sort of equipment at those stations because there are so many more cadets going through the course who can use it. There is, consequently, much greater advantage to each cadet.
Quite apart from that, we think it is of advantage to future naval officers to be able to travel, receive education in the United Kingdom and to have some contact by working with the Royal NaVy with which they are likely to be associated in the future. Further, they have the opportunity while at these places to carry out excursions to parts in the vicinity of Dartmouth and Manadon. I think that the benefit from their training would be reduced rather than enhanced if these opportunities were taken away from them. I add that one of the pleasing things about the officercadet entry is the number who have entered the Navy as junior recruits, ratings going to “ Leeuwin “ at the age of fifteen and a half or sixteen and a half years, and who have done so well scholastically and in other wa’ys that they have qualified to enter from the ratings structure to the officer cadet college. I am pleased to say that those who do so enter the college seem to be doing extremely well while they are there.
.- I refer to Division No. 486. - Other administrations - recoverable expenditure. The items that are set out relate to expenditure of £1,613,000 in the United Kingdom, £150,000 in New Zealand, and £10,000 in other countries. The total expenditure involved in sub-division 1 is £1,773,000. Sub-division 2 covers receipts from other administrations amounting to £2,073,000. A most unusual feature in this division is that one of the defence arms has a credit of £300,000. Last year this provision was made under the heading of War and Repatriation Services, but this year the item is shown under the Department of the Navy. I should like the Minister to explain how this large credit adjustment comes about. I notice that the Army is not able to produce such creditable figures, and the Air Force has only a small credit of £4,000. The sum of £300,000 is a considerable amount to recover. I should also like the Minister to supply any other information that he has relating to the expenditure ..on administration.
– I can answer Senator O’Byrne in this way: We spend on behalf of other governments considerable amounts of money. For example, in the case of the United Kingdom there are Royal Navy allotments paid in Australia for submarine crews of the Royal Navy who are in Australia. There are advances of pay in respect of Royal Navy ships which call at Australian ports, have a payday and draw an amount which subsequently is repaid to us. There are disbursements on account of officers on loan and exchange. Then we supply rations to Royal Navy ships not only here but also in the Far East, through VaI AUs Australian victualling yards.
Under an agreement which I will not explain in detail just now, we pay on behalf of the United Kingdom some maintenance costs for Royal Navy submarines operating in Australia on loan, and those costs are reimbursed to us. We also pay fares of Royal Navy personnel, and there are payments for freight and miscellaneous services. These are all amounts that we pay out and get back, and the question of credit does not arise. The payments for the use of the submarines based on Sydney come, at present, from the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. The New Zealand Government pays according to the participation ‘ of its ships in training with the submarines operating from Sydney. That accounts for part of the reimbursement to Australia.
We estimate that we will get back from the United Kingdom for all these purposes £1,640,000; from New Zealand £150,000 and from the United States Government £283,000 because of an arrangement made by which it will help finance one of our projects. The total recoveries will be £2,073,000.
– I should like the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) to clear up one other point. I refer to the coast-watching activities of the Royal Australian Navy. Last year provision was made for payments to aborigines in various islands. What provision has been made this year for these payments? Previously they were covered by War and Repatriation Services.
– Under what division is this item?
– It is not actually covered in the estimates, but on checking on Division No. 486 I discovered that payments were made last year under Division No. 690, and reference is made to that under Division No. 486. The cross reference is to payments to aborigines for coastwatching. Does that appropriation come directly under the Royal Australian Navy or is it bandied by the Repatriation Department? Last year £5,824 was paid for this service, but no provision is made this year.
– I believe Senator O’Byrne is referring to an unusual payment which was made last year. During the previous year a select committee of this Parliament inquiring, into voting rights of aborigines visited the Northern Territory and in the course of its investigations it was informed that some aborigines felt that the Royal Australian Navy owed them something for coast-watching during the 1939- 45 War. When I heard of this I asked the Treasury for- special act of grace payments to these people covering the period from 1939 to 1945. This was done. There was a single, non-recurring payment, and that is what the honorable senator has in mind.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.
Proposed expenditure, £10,600,000.
– Australians are justly proud of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Its work is recognized not only in Australia but also abroad as being of very high quality. All honorable senators would want to encourage it. I should like to ask the Minister in charge of the C.S.I.R.O. (Senator Gorton) about certain matters which indicate to me that the valuable work of this organization is not being expanded as it should be in view of the need to develop Australia. I refer the Minister to Division No. 421 and the items under the heading “ Investigations “. The figures show that expenditure on animal research laboratories in 1962-63 was less than the appropriation. That applies also to plant research, entomology, soils and irrigation, food preservation, forest products, mining and metallurgy, radio research, research services and chemical research laboratories.
It is not until we come to Item 11 - Fisheries - that there is a slight excess of expenditure over appropriation. The totals shows that there was an excess of appropriations over expenditures of some £324,000. This is general in most aspects of investigation by the organization. That means that the expenditure of the C.S.I.R.O. on investigations last year was less than the appropriation. Therefore, it seems that the work of the C.S.I.R.O. is not being expanded as it should be. It is true that the proposed appropriation for the year is £12,847,000 as against an expenditure of £11,348,000 last year, but perhaps the greater part of that difference may be explained by the increase in salaries which was general last year. At page 12 of the very valuable document which the Minister has circulated, we see that in 1962-63 the number of research officers was 1,021 and that in 1963-64 the number is to be 1,029, an increase of eight research officers or less than 1 per cent, in a year. This does not seem justifiable, when one looks at the increase in population, the need for development in both primary and secondary industry, and the notorious lack of scientific research being conducted in the country.
I think it was one of the senior officers of this very organization who said, in a speech to the Australian Institute of Metals, that the amount of research conducted in Australia was far less than it should be. Turning from this organization to what was being done by private industry, he said that Australian industry spent on research and development about one-tenth of the fraction of gross national product that was spent in the United States of America. Other persons knowledgeable in this field have estimated that we are spending about one-tenth of what we should be spending. That is, leaving aside this organization, industry itself is spending only one-tenth of what ought to be spent. It is very serious indeed, against that background, to find that this organization is not being permitted to expend as much as it ought to expend. It does seem to me - perhaps the Minister may answer this - that the estimate for this organization is a gross under-estimate. Not enough is being expended. The appropriation should be much more.
The problem is indicated in some measure in the annual report and also in the explanations circulated by the Minister. There is some extension of the research being conducted. For instance, the organization is to move into new fields, such as the pasture research laboratory at Townsville. New positions are being created there. New positions are also being created in the computing laboratory. Yet overall we do not see the expansion of research staff that we should see if these questions were being tackled properly. This is only part of a larger question, the organization of scientific research generally in Australia. That, of course, is a matter with which this organiza tion is concerned under its charter. It is concerned with many things other than the mere conduct of scientific research.
Perhaps the Minister will tell the Senate what steps, if any, have been taken for a thorough investigation of the research resources in Australia, with a view to a proper organization of them. Secondly, matters which have been adverted to in publications of the organization in recent times include the dissemination of scientific and technical knowledge which has been acquired by the organization. What has been done by the organization to improve the dissemination of such knowledge? It may be a small point, but in regard to building research it seems that the Commonwealth itself, on the face of it, is perhaps not using the resources of the organization as much as it should. Of the inquiries of the Division of Building Research last year, the Commonwealth was responsible for only 6 per cent., notwithstanding the great amount of building work being carried out by the Commonwealth.
One of the items of investigation under sub-division 3 of Division No. 421 relates to fuel research. I take it that that refers to coal research, because the figures are the same as those given for coal research in other documents of the organization. Under this item, the expenditure was less than the appropriation last year. The amount proposed to be appropriated this year is very little more - only £10,000 - than was expended test year. This is against a background of the crying need for research in the coal industry, which is referred to in the report of the Coal Utilization Research Advisory Committee, which has been presented to the Senate. It does appear that there is a great need for scientific research into coal matters with which the organization is concerned. The position is so bad that the report of that committee included recommendations that a national coal research council be established and also that Australian coal industry research laboratories be set up. We know from what was said by the Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner) that no really concrete steps are being taken towards either of those objectives, but that discussions are proceeding. As appears from that report, the situation is so urgent that the Minister may consider more activity by the organization in the Coal Research Division and also in other sections of the organization which are concerned with research into the utilization of coal.
I ask the Minister: How many unfilled vacancies are there for research personnel in the organization, and in which of the sections do these vacancies exist? Will there be any significant increase or decrease in the number of officers in the research grade or in the grade of experimental officers during the year? What steps have been taken to fill any vacancies? Will the Minister indicate which portions of the research programme that the organization desires to undertake have had to be abandoned or restricted because of limitation of the proposed appropriation? In other words, is it the view of the organization that more research should be undertaken in some fields? Had its proposals been rejected in order to keep within the estimate of £12,847,700? Is there any restriction on research which the organization itself considers ought to be undertaken? Again, dealing with Division No. 421, sub-division 3 - Investigations, is it proposed to undertake any research into varieties of cotton which might be grown at Narrabri or in the irrigation areas? Apparently only one variety called Empire is being grown, and it appears that some research ought to be conducted into that matter.
What steps are being taken to increase the intake of scientific officers into the organization? Can the Minister inform the Senate whether there are any difficulties over salaries or over competition from other organizations, or any other reasons why there is not a greater intake of scientific officers into the organization? With reference to Division No. 421, sub-division 3, item 04, Soils and irrigation, has the organization recommended any amount for work to be carried out in the universities of Australia in connexion with research into primary or secondary industry?
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, I should like to know how the programme of works is decided by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial ResearchOrganization. If we examine the list of officers who areto be paid from the £302,100 to be provided under Division No. 421 we find that there is a position described as “ chairman “. In the departments of the Commonwealth the chief administrative officer is the secretary of the department. The head of the department is the Minister. In this case, there is a chairman for whom a salary of £6,400 is provided. Then the sum of £24,000 is provided for four part-time executive members. Those executive members would receive £6,000 per annum each. I have nothing to say about the salaries of these officers because I have heard it said frequently, and I have read it in the press, that Australia does not pay high salaries to its highly trained officers. I am not in a position to say whether that is true or not so I will not venture an opinion. ButI would say that it is the duty of the chairman and his part-time executive members to arrange the programme of work for the year and for the years ahead. The list of investigations provided in Division No. 421, sub-division 3, indicates the class of research work being carried out by the officers of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. I know that highly qualified officers are required to carry out that work. Perhaps the Minister may be so kind as to inform me how the staff is recruited. Is it recruited through the Public Service Board by way of public advertisements in the newspapers? Or are officers taken as cadets into the various branches of the organization and trained? Is there an established practice for the filling of vacancies? Does the organization train its own staff as far as possible?
I understand that there is a certain amount of liaison between the C.S.I.R.O. and State authorities for the co-ordination of various activities. One can appreciate that being so because although the States do not engage in the volume of research work that is undertaken by the organization I feel it is most essential for State officers, such as those of a State department of agriculture or a State department of health to co-operate in the activities undertaken by the C.S.I.R.O. The Minister may be able to inform me to what extent there is such cooperation and liaison. I have observed that studentships are offered by the organization for students who are prepared to go overseas. I take it that those studentships would be awarded on examination results - that the studentships would be made available to the brightest of the students. If that is so, one must fully endorse that action.
When I commenced my remarks, I think I said that the C.S.I.R.O. is held in very high regard throughout the Commonwealth for the work that it has done in the past. I do not think that the esteem in which it is held will ever be lessened. In passing, Mr. Temporary Chairman, may I say that the great demand of the under-developed countries of the world is for technical advice. If we could send all our scientific officers overseas periodically to help those countries we would do them a very great service indeed.
Only the other day it was mentioned that the cost of drugs in the Commonwealth was rising to alarmingly high levels. I know that the COmmonwalth serum laboratories are within the empire of the Department of Health; nevertheless, scientists have been in charge of those laboratories and I do not know whether the C.S.I.R.O. is now engaged in research work in connexion with drugs. It could well be invited to undertake such research on drugs that are used in large quantities throughout the Commonwealth. This is merely a suggestion. I think this is a field in which the C.S.I.R.O. does not operate at the present time. However, it is one into which the organization could be allowed to enter with great advantage, I think, to the health of the people of the Commonwealth.
From time to time the C.S.I.R.O. discovers something that is quite new. I have never had that experience. I am unable to say just how pleased one would be when he discovered something that was of great value to industry. I recall that on one occasion a gentleman told me that the C.S.I.R.O. had discovered a way of dealing with low-grade deposits of zircon and rutile but that it had sold the patent rights to the United States of America, with the result that the industry in Queensland and on the north coast of New South Wales had collapsed. I do not know how true that statement was, but I do know that America is now coming back on to the Australian market for supplies of rutile. When something new is discovered and, the -.invention” or- .process, is patented, who, receives, the benefit? Is. a-i bonus given to the officer who made the discovery? Does the benefit go to Consolidated Revenue, or is the discovery shared with other countries?
Before long Queensland will be processing her own crude oil. She has been fortunate to find oil in commercial quantities. I understand that the pipeline has been completed and that next year oil will be flowing from a distant part of Queensland to Brisbane. There the crude oil will be refined and by-products will be manufactured. I was wondering whether the Commonwealth would leave it to the people who really own the oil to conduct any research that may be undertaken or whether the C.S.I.R.O. would be allowed to enter the field. Probably an examination of the oil will disclose that it does not differ from oil that is produced in the United States and other countries. But it may have a quality which is different from that of other oils. I think it would be a good idea to station on this oilfield an officer of the C.S.I.R.O. who would have the capacity to ascertain the ingredients and quality of the oil.
In various parts of the Commonwealth projects such as rice-growing have been undertaken. I have visited Humpty Doo in the Northern Territory, and I have felt “sorry that I ever went near the place. It made me melancholy to see the crop of rice that was being grown, but I came away satisfied that rice could be grown successfully there. I believe it is beyond the capacity of the average officer of the State departments of agriculture to give the necessary technical advice to the growers. I appreciate that officers of the State departments are doing good work, but I believe that somebody with more experience and higher qualifications is needed to render this service. Surely we should be able to produce crops of rice as easily as countries like Indonesia and Thailand, which we are told are more backward industrially than we are. I am satisfied that the land is quite capable of producing rice and that the necessary water is there, but that something else which we know nothing about is needed. Perhaps hard work is needed.
I am fond of speaking to the average layman who has a story to tell about the latest invention. A man told me recently that it is possible to excavate a hole with a diameter/of two or three feet to ‘a depth of 2.00 feet and. to have/a nuclear explosion at the bottom of the excavation. He said that if that were done a hole approximately 200 feet wide at the top and, I think, about i;000 feet deep would be produced. He said that, the effect of. the explosion would be a’ glazing of the surface -of the hole which would make the hole watertight. I like to listen, to these stories, even if there is no truth in them. At least it shows that people still have imagination. But there may be just a little truth in that story. If so, I am sure the Minister will be able to tell me more about it. If that kind of waterhole could be made at a reasonable cost, perhaps certain watercourses in Queensland could be dotted with such holes. It might be possible to undertake irrigation projects by storing water in that manner. I do not want the Minister to regard this as a joke. The man who spoke to me was serious about the matter, but he was not a scientist.
I come now to my favorite topic - the manufacture of materials for use in the building industry. The officers of the C.S.I.R.O. are very clever. I want them to devote their energies to producing a cheap building material. At the present time the average house that is provided for the average citizen costs £3,000, excluding the cost of the land. That cost is too high for the average worker. A worker who marries and buys a house has a load of debt on his shoulders for the rest of his life. Surely some material could be discovered - perhaps a plastic material - which would allow the average person to construct a house that would be impervious to heat but which could satisfactorily protect him from the cold and which could be erected for £200 or £300 or a little more. That is all I wish to say at the moment. I wish to refer to other matters, but I shall do so later.
– I refer to the proposed appropriation of £1,648,400 for plant research, which is almost £130,000 higher than last year’s appropriation, notwithstanding that last year’s expenditure was £50,000 less than the appropriation. I should like to know whether experiments are being carried out to ascertain the fertilizer requirement of various plants. If so, at what research establishments are those experiments being conducted? . I ask. the Minister also to explain item 23, under investigations, which relates to the proposed vote for wool research laboratories. This year, the vote is £976,600. Last year, the appropriation was, £844,300, so there is an increase of approximately £130,000.
I have asked those questions because they relate to two matters which are vital in the development of Australia. I believe that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is to be commended by everybody in Australia for the excellent work that it has done since its inception in 1949. When we look at the research work which the organization has undertaken iri the wool industry, for instance, we find that it has been able to evolve a dripdry woollen material which can compete with synthetic fibres. It is a material which is as good as, if not better than, the cotton goods that can be purchased overseas, and for lightness and comfort again it is as good as, if not better than, the man-made fibres which are competing against wool in Australia. The C.S.I.R.O. should be congratulated, too, on its advocacy of the use of a disease which has ousted the rabbit from Australia and has allowed us to increase our sheep population during the last twelve years by more than 50,000,000. This development has amazed me. Because of it. revenue from the sale of wool has increased by approximately £130,000,000 a year. Yet, in the estimates we find that the amount which it is proposed to allocate for the organization this year is only £10,600,000. In one field of research alone, the organization has been able to earn for Australia approximately £130,000,000 a year.
It is astonishing that in most instances the sums allocated in the previous year were not fully expended. An honorable senator who spoke this afternoon referred to the fact that in respect of each of the items numbered 1 to 9, under investigations, relating to such matters as animal research; plant research, entomology, soils and irrigation, food preservation, forest products, and mining and metallurgy, the amounts allocated last year were underspent. I believe that the C.S.I.R.O. has played a significant part in helping to provide the information that is- necessary for the.- development ‘ 6f ‘ our northern areas.
Recently, I had an opportunity to visit the Northern Territory and the north-west of Western Australia. I found that a research station had been established at Katherine, in the Northern Territory, and that experiments were being conducted in pasture improvement so that the cattle in those areas might be fattened throughout the whole year instead of, as at present, only in the wet season. Honorable senators may know that in the six months of the dry season cattle lose almost as much weight as they gain during the six months of the wet season. lt has been found, as a result of research undertaken at the station at Katherine, that with the use of superphosphate, Townsville lucerne and centro can be grown successfully. It has been demonstrated that, by the use of phosphates and with improved pastures, instead of the country adjacent to Katherine being able to carry only one beast to 50 acres in its present state, it is possible to turn off at least one beast to two acres. That, of course, is a terrific achievement. If the advice of the research officers at Katherine is adopted it will be found that an area of from 220 to 230 miles deep by almost 600 miles wide, and with an annual rainfall in excess of 30 inches, is able to carry almost a beast to two acres, instead of one beast to 300 or 400 acres as at present.
In conjunction with the Department of Agriculture, the C.S.I.R.O. has been carrying out experiments at the research station on the Ord River to find out whether crops can be grown there under irrigation. The experiments have been continuing since 1947, but evidently the C.S.I.R.O. has been interested in them only since its inception in 1949. I have had the opportunity to visit the area and to see the experiments on several occasions. It has been proved that safflower can be grown there most successfully. It has also been proved that cotton can be grown. Rice can be grown, too, but whether it is an economic proposition at this stage remains to be seen. The Western Australian Government, with the help of the Commonwealth, which has given it some millions of pounds, has constructed a dam at Bandicoot Bar. The water is now being held back, and the first farms have been let. I hope that experience will prove that the venture is economically sound. If it is sound, no doubt the State government will approach the Commonwealth for additional finance for the construction of a major dam on the Ord River. If such a dam is constructed, some 300,000 or 400,000 acres of land will be available to farmers for the growing of irrigated crops, such as cotton, rice, safflower and linseed.
The C.S.I.R.O., both in Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory, is carrying out experiments in set grazing. I might explain that in set grazing an assessment is made of the number of acres in a fenced paddock, and a certain number of sheep is then allocated to the paddock. They are left there, year in and year out. They are not moved. The organization has proved, in experiments which have been carried out at the research farm in the Australian Capital Territory, that it is possible to carry, on pastures which have been improved by the addition of 1 cwt. of superphosphate to the acre, up to seven sheep to the acre. It has proved in Western Australia that it is possible, by the same methods, to carry as many as six, seven or eight sheep to the acre. At present, there are farmers in the south-western part of Western Australia who have adopted this policy. After two or three years of set grazing the farmers are able to increase the number of sheep to the acre from two or three, under the old system, to six or seven under the set grazing system. If that advice is followed by farmers in the higher rainfall areas of Western Australia they will be able to increase the number of sheep they can carry by to two or three times. That discovery, which was made by our scientists in collaboration with the State Departments of Agriculture will increase the revenue of Australia as much as the killing of rabbits has done. I repeat that that was accomplished by scientists. We cannot have too much science to help us in the development of this great country.
I do not want to let this opportunity pass without congratulating the chairman, secretary, officers, technicians and staff of this great organization whose services are available to industry and agriculture in Australia. At present the wool-growers are contributing in the vicinity of 2s. a bale of wool for research purposes and the Commonwealth Government is contributing another 4s. a bale. The money collected is spent on research in the wool industry. As I mentioned previously, the discoveries that the C.S.I.R.O. has made by using this money have paid dividends amounting to ten times the money that has been spent. 1 should like to ask a question on fisheries which come under item 11 in subdivision 3 of Division No. 421. This year it is proposed to spend £319,800.
The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– A number of questions have been asked already and I should like to take the opportunity to reply to those on which I took notes. Senator Scott asked about wool research laboratories which are dealt with in item 23, subdivision 3, of Division No. 421. He asked why approximately £100,000 more was being appropriated this year and to what purposes the money would be devoted. The money is to be spent very largely in the wool research laboratory in Geelong, although a small amount will be spent in other places. The money will be spent on equipment of these laboratories for all sorts of things to do with the processing of wool after it has been shorn. An example that has been given to me is equipment to improve wool scouring - carrying out experiments to see whether wool can be scoured more easily, more quickly and more cheaply. Experiments are being carried out also on wool baling. I think the honorable senator will know of some of the work that is going on in an effort to find better methods of wool baling.
Work is going on, too, in connexion with the finishing of furnishings, on putting shrink-resistant characteristics into materials, and into matters of that kind. It is of incidental importance, and may be of interest to the Senate, that the actual sum of money that is being appropriated here has already been appropriated by the Parliament, in that the Department of Primary Industry, as honorable senators know, pays a subvention to the wool industry fund. It is from thai fund that we are now re-appropriating money for these purposes.
– The money that has been subscribed by the wool-growers?
– There is a fund to which the growers contribute, and the Government contributes £2 for each £1 contributed by the growers. From that fund comes the money to build wool research laboratories and things of that kind.
asked also what was being done about studying plant requirements in Australia and plants generally. As the honorable senator knows, a phytotron was completed in Canberra and is to be fully equipped this financial year. In that building all sorts of climates can be simulated, including humidity, temperature and all the elements which make up a climate. Experimental crops are being grown there to find the best method of growing cereals, or whatever crops may be used in the experiments, in various climates. The experiments having indicated the nature of climate required, the crops are then taken to the actual goographical area to which the climate applies, and the initial knowledge obtained in the phytotron is applied.
In addition, there is under construction at Townsville a laboratory to study pasture plants for the tropics. There is at Cunningham, in Brisbane, a research station to study pasture plants for the lower sub-tropical areas of Queensland, and there are such stations at various other places in Australia. At Merbein there is an experimental station for plants grown under irrigation. Studies into plant requirements and fertilizers are carried out in Canberra, in Deniliquin and in Western Australia - I think probably in Kojonup.
Senator Benn raised a number of other points. He asked why the C.S.I.R.O. had a chairman and an executive. The answer is that this organization is not a government department in the ordinary sense, as we understand the Department of the Army, the Department of the Navy or any other government department. This organization is much more analagous to Trans-Australia Airlines, the Australian Broadcasting Commission or a body of that kind. The Science and Industry Research Act under which the C.S.I.R.O. was established, provides that that body shall have a chairman and an executive, which shall be the governing body oi the organization. That is the reason why the C.S.I.R.O. has a chairman and an executive.
asked also how recruits for the organization are enlisted. Vacancies are advertised in the various media of publicity both in Australia and overseas. The applicants are required to have fairly high qualifications - something like a Ph.D. for a research officer. The remuneration of such officers is determined by the organization, but that remuneration does not apply unless the Public Service Board approves the determination which the organization has made. The final decision probably rests with the Public Service Board. Senator Benn referred also to collaboration between the C.S.I.R.O. and State governments. There is an organization known as the Agricultural Research Liaison Section which confers with the State governments on a whole variety of matters. A good example of this is the sort of thing which has been done at Kununurra, in Western Australia, which is a joint State Government - C.S.I.R.O. research project into cotton-growing on the Ord River. There are other examples to which I could point.
There is a division of the C.S.I.R.O. seeking to fulfil Senator Benn’s heart’s desire in regard to housing by finding a cheap method of constructing houses. The division is doing its best to find ways of making various products more easily available, more durable and more economical to work with. It might be of some interest to Premier Bolte of Victoria if the division can find a way of making timber more durable than steel in the building of certain structures.
asked about the use of atomic power for the construction of dams, harbours and works of that type. I understand that this suggestion is perfectly feasible and that there is no black magic about it. In fact it can be done, but it is not the responsibility of the C.S.I.R.O. When the proposed expenditure on the Australian Atomic Energy Commission comes before the committee for discussion perhaps the honorable senator will direct his questions in that respect to the Minister in charge of that division.
When some new method of treating materials is discovered by the C.S.I.R.O. no special reward is paid to the officer who makes the discovery, nor does any payment which accrues as a result of the discovery go to Consolidated Revenue. The reason for this is that the organization is not a department in the same sense as Commonwealth departments and it keeps any pecuniary benefit which accrues from discoveries that its officers make. As a general rule, when some process which is patentable is discovered, the expenditure of a very large amount of capital is required - the amount varies greatly - in order to make that discovery a commercial proposition. Generally the C.S.I.R.O. will enter into some arrangement with a firm, which it considers to be the one best qualified to do this and the one which is prepared to expend that capital. In return the organization receives royalty payments on the goods when they have finally been made.
Senator Murphy referred to the underexpenditure on Division No. 421 and cited a number of items on which expenditure last year was less than the appropriation. But the figures to be looked at in this regard are those which appear before we come to sub-division 4. - Other services. Those figures show that the appropriation from Treasury funds last year to the C.S.I.R.O. for all these investigations, as well as from wool funds and other sources, was £8,680,300, whereas the expenditure was £8,659,572. Over the whole field of these matters the under-expenditure in an amount of £8,500,000 was £20,000 to £25,000, which indicates that the expenditure was reasonably estimated at the head office.
The coal situation about which Senator Murphy asked is under review at the moment and we expect to have a report soon from the Coal Utilization Research Advisory Committee. This is a committee which cannot be spurred on or hurried up by the organization alone; it is a joint committee by which the C.S.I.R.O., the Joint Coal Board, the State Government and representatives of industry are studying the matter which is exercising Senator Murphy’s mind. As I say, a report from that committee is expected fairly soon.
The honorable senator asked about the dissemination of discoveries. The organization is putting out more, publications at more frequent intervals’ than was the case earlier. As examples I cite the “ Australian Journal of Chemistry “, the “ Rural Research Bulletin of C.S.I.R.O.”, the “ Industrial Research News “, the “ Coal Research Bulletin “ and the “ Food Preservation Quarterly “. In addition there are others which I do not have with me at the moment.
I was asked by Senator Murphy whether the scientists in the organization were perfectly satisfied that they were getting all that they required to enable them to do the research that Australia needs. The first point I make on that is that it would be a pity if we were led by our admiration of the C.S.I.R.O. into regarding that organization as the only one that ought to do scientific research in Australia. I realize that the honorable senator did not have that in mind, but many people seem to have that belief. We must keep a balance in this and see that plenty of research is done by the universities, the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, State instrumentalities through their departments of agriculture in the case of primary produce, and indeed in a number of other fields.
– And by private industries.
– Yes. I do not think that now, at any stage in the past or at any stage in the future the scientists in the C.S.I.R.O. would say that they were happy that they had been provided with sufficient funds to have a sufficient number of people to do all the research in all the fields that they would like to cover. I do not think that situation will ever arise. However, I point out that the overall vote from Treasury funds for the organization this year has been increased by about 20 per cent., that is, from about £10,000,000 to about £12,000,000. I mention also that there is a limitation on the amount that can be made available for any particular field, whether it be research or any part of research. In the Government’s view, which I believe is a view shared by most people who examine this field in relation to all other fields, the amount voted for this organization is a fairly reasonable yearly advance.
– T wish to ask the Minister certain questions. By way of preface may I say that Senator Scott made quite a nice speech.
It was a neat one, if I may say so. His subject-matter was excellent, but his timing inappropriate. I thought that this was a time when the honorable senator should be asking questions and trying to elicit information from the Minister.
My first question relates to the matter raised by Senator Benn about building materials. Has the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization investigated the possibility of using Indulux, which was the subject of a report not very long ago? Indulux is heat and fire resistant. This material is considered overseas to be worth while. In posing that question I should like to pay a tribute to the personnel of the organization and to the man who founded it. Not the least of the tributes paid to the scientific personnel of the organization was that given in the determination of salaries. I should like the Minister to inform the committee of the percentage of personnel of the C.S.I.R.O. who live north of latitude 26 and, of that number, how many are in receipt of a salary above £3,000 per annum. I should like to know also what activities those persons are engaged in.
I notice in Division No. 421 an item relating to fisheries. Will the Minister ask the appropriate authority to give consideration to matters beyond fisheries research? I believe that there is justification for the establishment in Australia of a marine biological research station. Off the Queensland coast is a formation which is unique. I refer to the Great Barrier Reef. By failing to explore the possibilities of the Great Barrier Reef we have not done justice to the scientific world. I do not blame any Commonwealth government, whether it has been Labour, Liberal or anti-Labour, nor do I blame any State Labour or anti-Labour government. No tribute has been paid to this unique natural structure.
There is justification for the establishment of a comparatively large marine biological research station in that area. I know that there is a small, threepenny-bit type of station at Heron Island, but the possibilities of this reef justify much more than that. I remind the Minister that there is more in the sea than just fish. The fact is now recognized by the scientific world. I ask the Minister whether he will give serious consideration, despite his many worries and the many questions that will be posed in the next few minutes, to the justification for the establishment under the control of this particularly efficient scientific organization of a marine biological research station in Queensland. I ask him to do so not because it concerns Queensland; it just happens that that is where the Great Barrier Reef is situated. If such a laboratory were established it would permit research not only into the fish in the area but also into marine life generally and the scientific structure of the Great Barrier Reef - for instance, how long it took to be deposited. Some scientific expeditions have been there and some information has been obtained, but much more could be done. The Minister would be acclaimed if he were responsible for the establishment of a research station.
Senator O’BYRNE (Tasmania) [10.31 1. Under Division No. 421 - Administrative - there is provision for contributions and other receipts. I do not want to detract from the work of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, because its prestige is equalled only by that of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. But on looking through the explanatory notes supplied by the Minister in charge of the C.S.I.R.O. (Senator Gorton) and checking with the annual report of the organization. I found this statement in the annual report -
Ji is the general policy of the C.S.I.R.O. to work with an industry or public authority in seeking solutions to problems which are of concern to a number of companies or interests and from time to time it undertakes work for individual companies if other help is noi available. During the year under review a number of new co-operative projects have been started including:
Investigation of sperm whale resources off the coast of W.A. by the Division of Fisheries and Oceanography with financial support from the Fisheries Development Trust Account.
In the explanatory notes, under the heading of fisheries, there is an expenditure of Treasury funds totalling £295,300, but no equivalent contribution is shown under industry funds. Would the Minister inform the committee whether the whaling interests in Western Australia ever feel obliged to make contributions as is done by other industries?
– The whaling industry is battling.
– It is hot battling. It was given a goldmine.
– It has shown a loss.
– In the annual report of the C.S.I.R.O. we find that another co-operative project that has started was soil testing at the Moonie oil-field by the Soil Mechanics Section for Bechtel Pacific Corporation Limited. Has that company shown a loss too?
– The honorable senator was speaking about whales.
– That was my first reference. As I have said, the Minister’s explanatory notes show an expenditure of Treasury funds amounting to £295,300 in an investigation of the sperm whale resources off the Western Australia coast. That research was given financial support from the Fisheries Development Trust Account. I was establishing that it is the practice for some industries to expect the C.S.I.R.O. to do extensive work for them, but in the explanatory notes there is no indication of a corresponding contribution by these private organizations which benefit considerably from the research work of C.S.I.R.O. officers.
I have referred to the soil testing at the Moonie oil-field tor Bechtel Pacific Corporation Limited. Has that organization made any contribution towards the industry funds? As Senator Murphy said earlier, there seems to be a limit on Commonwealth expenditure for C.S.I.R.O. activities. There has been only a meagre increase in the staff which i< producing the excellent results achieved. I think Senator Murphy said that the number of research officers had been increased from 1,021 in 1962-63 to 1,029 for 1963-64- eight altogether. It would appear that in the case of the C.S.I.R.O., as with other departments, there is a restraining influence - the ability of the Treasury to find funds. I believe there is an obligation on private industries which are helped by the C.S.I.R.O. to make contributions to meeting the costs of the organization, particularly when its activities are carried on specifically in their interests.
I notice among the new co-operative projects a study of me problem of birds on airfields, by the Division of Wildlife
Research for the Department of Civil Aviation. There is research by the Division of Building Research to improve the durability of the colour and surface of concrete roofing tiles for Whitelaw Monier Proprietary Limited. I cannot see any record of a corresponding contribution by that company. There has been an investigation by the Division of Food Preservation on the storage of peanut kernels in small packages for the Peanut Marketing Board, but there is no corresponding contribution of industry funds. Finally, there has been research by the Soil Mechanics Section into the engineering properties of the earth to be used in the construction of a dam at Almurta, Victoria, for the Westernport Waterworks Trust.
The C.S.I.R.O. is working on limited funds and it should receive assistance not only from the Commonwealth Government but also from many organizations which are the direct recipients of substantial financial advantages as a result of the investigation by research officers and scientists of their problems. There should be some financial recognition of this work in addition to the appreciation which undoubtedly is expressed.
In the summary of estimates of expenditure for the C.S.I.R.O. there is an item “ Less contributions and other receipts, £1,852,611 “. The annual report of the C.S.I.R.O. refers to a gift by Mr. F. C. Pye, a prominent New South Wales grazier who has given his property *’ Geraldra “ to the C.S.I.R.O. This property is at Stockinbingal near Cootamundra and is one of the oldest properties in the district, with an area of some 8,600 acres. The report states -
The only condition attached by Mr. Pye to the gift was that either the property itself or the proceeds of its disposal should be used for the purposes of research related to the grazing or farming industry. The Executive decided that it would be inappropriate to develop all or part of “ Geraldra “ as a research or experiment station, and has therefore arranged for the sale of the property.
That was a magnificent gesture on the part of Mr. F. C. Pye, which is deserving of the highest praise and heartfelt thanks of the Australian people. The estimated net realization from the property, after allowing for running costs and costs of disposal, is approximately £240,000. The report continues -
The Executive is actually considering the use to which the F. C. Pye Research Fund should be put, and expects to reach a decision shortly. lt is intended that a substantial part of the Fund should be used to foster the development of a single aspect of the Organization’s research related to the pastoral and farming industries. Its choice will be based on the selection of a field of work at the . forefront of biological science, giving promise of significant contributions to the basic understanding of factors determining the level and efficiency of production from the land.
Does the Minister know the specific direction in which the proceeds of this magnificent gift will be applied? Would he like to say something about such a splendid gesture? Have similar gifts been made to the organization by other public-spirited people?
– I have been very interested in this discussion of the work of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. I should like to refer to Division No. 421, sub-division 3, item 22, Dairy research, for which the proposed appropriation is £181,000. Let me say at the outset that I appreciate very much the interesting report of the organization. Its latest report is, I think, by far its best. What impressed me was that it struck quite a practical note in the chapter entitled “ Progress in research “. I hope that more publicity will be given to the annual reports of the organization than has been given in the past. If one studies this chapter, one will get the impression without doubt that the C.S.I.R.O. is getting results which are most noteworthy. The item entitled “ Recombining Dairy Products in Asia” on page 44, is something about which the dairy industry would do well to know more.
Recently, when I was in the Philippines, I visited a factory which was the joint possession of the Australian Dairy Produce Board and a Philippines organization. The function of the factory was to reconstitute milk from basic materials supplied by the Australian dairy produce industry. I am most interested to read that the C.S.I.R.O. has done some basic research to make possible the successful functioning of this factory. It is well known that similar factories will be opened in . Malaysia . and probably later in Thailand. I, believe that a matter of great importance to Australia has been made safe and commercially viable by virtue of the research carried out. It appears that health authorities in the Philippines discovered the adverse effects on health of the filled evaporated milk being manufactured there from coconut oil and maize oil and that the filled milk factories are to be changed over to the production of an entirely dairy-based product. This was worked out prior to the investment of Australian money in the venture, in research by the Division of Dairy Research supported financially by the Dairy Industry Research Fund. That is just one illustration of the work being done by the organization in connexion with the export of a basic product of Australia. 1 pass further in this chapter to an item on concrete reinforcement. Research is being conducted into the correct way of making reinforced concrete. The report reads -
Publication of details of the technique has brought a variety of inquiries from both local and overseas sources. These include consideration of the use of coated reinforcement in road and rail structures in Australia and Britain, . applications to structural components in Japan, and in rockbolting techniques at the Snowy Mountains scheme.
As we appreciate, one of the great features of the Snowy Mountains scheme is the use of rock-bolting in the tunnels and caverns through which the water flows. This is a matter of tremendous importance to the vast amount of construction going on in Australia.
I pass to the subject of sea-water evaporators, which could well become important in obtaining fresh water for the arid parts of Australia. From the report of the C.S.I.R.O., one gathers that the organization has discovered that the addition of very small amounts of lowmolecularweight polymers such as polyacrylic acid to the sea-water prevents the formation of scale on the appliance used.
I mention these matters at random to underline the importance of the organization’s research on Australia’s development. I fear that not enough publicity has been given to these matters of great commercial importance to all phases of Australia’s primary and secondary industry and development. I hope that the organization will be able to publicize, these tremendously important features of .its. work. . This, organization has- been regarded as one which is very much devoted to scientific investigation. I do not think that enough emphasis is placed by the public on the work that it is doing. We in the Senate should pay tribute to the organization. I commend to honorable senators a close examination of its annual report.
.- I refer to Division No. 421, subdivision 3, which relates to investigations. I wish to add a few remarks to what has been said by Senator Benn and, to a small extent, by Senator Dittmer.
– It might have been small but it was an efficient contribution.
– I never doubted that it was efficient, but it happens that I am totally opposed to the suggestion. We must look very carefully into the question of investigation into building materials. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has not been apathetic in this matter. It has looked into the question of construction and, as Senator Laught has said, the question of coated reinforcements for concrete. I know of many other questions that the organization has looked into concerning building operations and materials. To my knowledge, this has been done when there have been certain problems which manufacturers have found it difficult to overcome. After investigation the C.S.I.R.O. has found the solution to problems that beset the building industry. One immediately comes to my mind. For some reason or other, since the last war brown stains appeared on fibrous plaster. Nothing could be done to stop their appearance. The manufacturers of the plaster blamed the paint that was being used on it and the paint manufacturers blamed the grease that the manufacturers of the plaster were’ using. The problem was. finally submitted to the C.S.I.R.O. As the result of an investigation which, I understand, was paid for . by the fibrous plaster manufacturers’ association, it was discovered that a fungus was causing the trouble. The organization found a means of destroying the fungus and the trouble does not occur to-day. 1 submit that the discovery and use of other materials .will not provide a solution to our building problems. Solid construction, as we know it to-day, dates back to 5,000 years B.C. when construction consisted of burnt clays and other minerals. This type of construction has gone on since with very little alteration until the post-war years when a method of what is termed “ light-weight construction “ was evolved. This involved the use of other materials. But no new materials have been produced that have not proved to be more costly than the previous method of solid construction. The new materials are used solely because architects now adopt a different attitude to the expected useful life of a building. Buildings constructed of solid material may last 100 years but it is now found that a big building of that kind becomes obsolete much before that time. It has no rental value for a part of its life. So the tendency is to construct a light-weight building with a probable life of 50 years. Such a building would remain modern and up-to-date. The fittings and materials in it would be more modern. Whether this is a wise policy or not, I do not know.
In many cases people are adopting the American attitude that a house should only last for one generation because it will not meet the requirements of the children of the parents who originally occupied it. It would not contain the modern amenities required if it lasted, as houses previously did, for 100 years. Therefore, we must question the wisdom of the use of such things as coated reinforcements which are intended to stop rust and deterioration. I do not know whether there is any value in using such construction methods in a building which is not expected to last as long as the reinforcement would extend its life. Coated reinforcements and other innovations in building operations have not cheapened construction, and costs are soaring. The new materials are not cheaper than the old ones. That has to be considered. It is hard to visualize the production of a material that would not be more costly than material used in building construction at the present time. I believe that research should be conducted into the possibilities of cheapening the methods of solid construction and of making such construction waterproof. I acknowledge that the C.S.I.R.O. played quite a big part in the production of a load bearing solid gypsum wall which has been used extensively in the Murray area and some areas of Adelaide. This was made possible with the assistance of the organization. I pay a tribute to the work that the organization has done over the years in connexion with paints, waterproofing and chemicals used in building operations.
Two questions arise: First, if more money were available could it be used for further research in this field? Secondly, is the fact that the services of officers of the organization are available to industry sufficiently well known to manufacturers and builders who might submit problems that are concerning them to-day, such as that which faced the fibrous plaster industry?
.- I wish to refer to Division No. 421, subdivision 3, item 20, “Computing Laboratory, £78,000 “. The appropriation for the financial year 1962-63 was £20,300 and the expenditure was £20,201. The Government has approved the establishment by the C.S.I.R.O. of a basic network of computers for scientific research and technical computing and has allocated £1,500,000 for this equipment. I ask the Minister whether this item of £78,000 is connected with that previous allocation of £1,500,000. I understand that a computing research section was established late last year to operate a network of computers and to carry out basic research in the field of computing and electronic data processing. It is evidently the intention that the computing laboratory should be run on a service basis and it is expected that research workers from universities, the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, the Bureau of Meteorology, the Aeronautical Research Laboratories, the Bureau of Mineral Resources, the national mapping section of the Department of National Development and the Ionospheric Prediction Service will be amongst those using the facilities. Could I surmise that the amount of £78,000 covers only a proportion of the expenditure on the installation of electronic data processing equipment by the C.S.I.R.O. and that other organizations will contribute towards the overall cost; or is this just this year’s instalment on the overall plan for the central equipment and subsidiary computers ‘ which it is expected will form a” national” network!?’” ’
– The answer to Senator O’Byrne is that the sum of £78,000 is not connected with the construction of the computer building or the installation of computer machinery but will be devoted to the gathering together of preliminary staff to run the computer when it goes into operation. It is for payments to persons and not for the machine or the building.
Senator Cavanagh mentioned the different methods of building construction. The C.S.I.R.O. would not wish to force any method of building on a builder or architect. It seeks to do its best for the industry by means of close liaison between its scientists and various building contractors. Senator Murphy asked approximately how many positions were unfilled in the C.S.I.R.O. At the moment 102 positions out of a total of 591 are unfilled. That is in accordance with the general state of affairs, as people are continually coming andgoing.
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Chairman do now leave the chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the negative.
– By and large, that is the situation at any given time, because people resign and their places are not filled as quickly as they might be. Senator Murphy asked whether research workers and others could easily be recruited. I do not think they can be recruited as easily as one would like, considering the competition which exists for their services on the part of industry and organizations overseas. At the present time the Public Service Board is considering the remuneration of various grades of research workers within the C.S.I.R.O. I have reason to believe that the matter will be brought to a conclusion before very long. However, it is in the hands of the Public Service Board, and not mine.
.- I refer to Division No. 421 - Administrative, and in particular to the appropriation under the heading “ Other Services “. I wonder whether the Minister can give me a. little more information than is contained in the explanatory notes that have been circulated about the principles which guide the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in the allocation of grants to the various industrial institutes which are mentioned at page 8 of those notes. They include the Bread Research Institute, the Wine Research Institute, the Tobacco Research Trust and the Coal Research Organization. Is there some system of reviewing the large number of applications that are made for grants in each financial year? Is there some system of reporting by the organizations about the use to which the grants have been put? Generally, is there a total sum that is divided amongst a number of organizations, or is there an ad hoc consideration of the various requests that are made for research grants and is each case considered on its merits irrespective of the total amount involved?
– I should like to refer again to the research that is being carried out in Australia outside the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. It seems that the research that is being conducted in this country is quite insufficient. The estimates that were referred to earlier reveal that for private industry in a country in Australia’s position to have reasonable research carried out approximately £45,000,000 ought to be expended each year. The amount actually being expended by private industry is between £4,500,000 and £5,000,000, or about one-tenth of the amount which ought to be spent. Those estimates naturally are imprecise, but they have been made by very knowledgeable persons. They indicate the existence of a very serious state of affairs. They indicate that, although the C.S.I.R.O. may be carrying out its own research extremely well, it may not be doing as much as it ought to be doing in discharging the function imposed upon it by legislation of initiating scientific research as distinct from carrying it out, and in relation to the recognition or establishment of associations of persons engaged in industry for the purpose of carrying out industrial and scientific research, and co-operation with and the making of grants to such organizations when recognized or established. It may be that, in view of the very serious situation which exists in Australia, more ought to be done by the organization in those directions and that specific items ought to be provided for in the estimates.
Then we come to the dissemination of scientific information. The Minister has said that the organization is publishing scientific journals. That is so, and the journals are of very high standard and very great repute. But apart altogether from the publication of scientific and technical reports, the organization has a responsibility in relation to the collection and dissemination of information about scientific and technical matters. Provision has been made for expenditure on research services. There has been criticism, not of the C.S.I.R.O., but of the lack of dissemination in Australia of scientific and technical information. According to persons who have a knowledge of such matters, many groups in private industry and elsewhere have not the know-how which they ought to have. Perhaps something more could be done by the organization in this direction.
I should like to ask the Minister several other questions. When is the head office of the C.S.I.R.O. to be moved from Melbourne? Why does the sugar research laboratory remain in Melbourne when one might expect that a State other than Victoria would provide a more appropriate site? Does it not seem that in the proposed appropriation for investigations generally there is an undue emphasis against investigation into matters associated with secondary industry? Will the Minister indicate whether that flows from the fact that certain sums are contributed by private industry and that other amounts are spent by the C.S.I.R.O.? Has this led to undue emphasis being given by the organization to investigations of primary industry to the neglect of investigations of secondary industry?
I come now to the Townsville Pasture Research Laboratory. In his explanatory notes, the Minister says -
The new positions provided from Treasury funds are those needed for the Pasture Research
Laboratory, Townsville (9 positions) and the Computing Laboratory . . .
No provision seems to have been made in Division No. 421 under the heading “ Investigations “ for the Townsville Pasture Research Laboratory. No sum appears opposite the item “ Townsville Pasture Research Laboratory “, even though £50,000 was appropriated last year and almost all that sum was expended. A similar state of affairs obtains in the proposed appropriation for works and services. The statement in the Minister’s explanatory notes seems to indicate that positions will be available at Townsville in this financial year. Yet, the estimates do not appear to provide for that.
Can the Minister inform me whether part of the difficulty in obtaining research officers for the organization may lie in the fact that the superannuation system which applies in the exchange of persons who might be engaged at universities does not apply to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization? As I understand it, persons who work in universities in, say, the United Kingdom, would have no difficulty in coming to a university in any State of Australia because the superannuation systems are interchangeable. An officer would be able simply to come here and avail himself of a similar superannuation scheme, with no loss. No forfeiture is involved. This is an extremely important matter to persons engaged in scientific work. However, as I understand the position there is no reciprocity with the C.S.I.R.O. It is easier for a person at a university in New South Wales to go to the United Kingdom, or to other places in the world, and to exchange his rights under a superannuation scheme here for those elsewhere than it is for him simply to move into the C.S.I.R.O.
I come now to a matter which has been raised on a number of occasions in the Senate and on which contradictory answers have been given by the Minister and one of his colleagues. Can the Minister inform me what investigations have been conducted into poisonous residues which are left on foods intended for human consumption, as a result of the use of weedicides, pesticides, insecticides and other agricultural sprays?
– My query relates to Division No. 421 - Sub-division 3, Investigations. I refer particularly to item 23, which deals with the proposed vote for wool research laboratroies. I am concerned with the process for the permanent pleating of woollen clothing, about which a question was asked in the Senate recently. It is my understanding that any process evolved by the C.S.I.R.O. is made available to the industry concerned. I noticed recently, on a tab attached to a pair of trousers that had been dry-cleaned, lettering which indicated that a patent had been applied for for the Si-Ro-Set process. Once a process such as this has been evolved by the organization, has a manufacturer the right to patent it?
– The answer to Senator Ridley’s question is that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization patents such processes. Senator Murphy referred to examination of the position regarding poisonous residues left by various sprays. This matter is not directly the responsibility of the C.S.I.R.O., but rather that of the Department of Health. However, I am informed that there is an active committee which is carrying out work in this connexion.
Work on the Townsville Pasture Research Laboratory will be in progress this year. The staff members to whom reference was made will not be employed for the whole of the year but will be recruited during the course of the year. The officers of the organization have informed me that its funds are expended approximately in the proportion of SO per cent, on secondary industries and 50 per “cent, on primary industries. If I may be permitted to express a personal opinion, I think it would be better if, in contra-distinction to Senator Murphy’s view, a little more of the expenditure went to primary industry. Scientific information is disseminated through work in connexion with libraries and conferences which are called and attended by officers of the organization; through seminars on various scientific subjects; through lectures given both here and overseas by scientists of the organization; and through lectures given by visiting scientists from overseas.
Senator Dittmer inquired about the number of C.S.I.R.O. personnel living north of Brisbane. I have not figures to indicate the percentage of the organization’s personnel as a whole, but I have the percentage of people engaged in agricultural and scientific research, as well as research concerned with primary industry, water conservation and matters of that kind. Approximately 17 per cent, of all the officers employed in scientific and agricultural research live permanently north of Brisbane.
– That is, employees of the organization.
– Yes. That does not exhaust the number of employees who are engaged in work which is carried on in areas north of Brisbane because, for example, here in Canberra there is the Division of Land Research and Regional Survey which carries out a great deal of work in Queensland. Thu work is correlated in the laboratory here. There are officers in Canberra who devote their whole time to it.
All I can say in relation to Senator Dittmer’s suggestion that there should be a marine biological research laboratory is that it is an interesting one. However, I think the scientific priority of the suggestion would have to be decided by the executive of the C.S.I.R.O. I shall inform the executive that the honorable senator has made the suggestion. Regarding grants to various foundations, the executive recommends the organizations to which grants should be made. The recommendation is made to the Government which takes the responsibility of agreeing or disagreeing. The executive, in its recommendation, indicates why it believes the particular organization should be assisted. The amount granted is related, under a kind of formula, to the amount supplied by the industry or organization in the field concerned.
The head office of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is to be moved to Canberra from Melbourne as soon as proper arrangements can be made. The chairman already is living here in Canberra, and the secretary spends a very great deal of his time here as well. Senator Murphy asked1 why the sugar research laboratory is located in Melbourne. The answer is that the people, such as chemists, with the organic skills required for this work are in Melbourne. The chemical research laboratories, for work not only on sugar but also on all related products, have been established in Melbourne.
.- I take it that the fact that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization patents processes which it evolves prevents companies from obtaining such a patent.Is any barrier placed in the way of a manufacturer who wishes to use the process?
Senator GORTON (Victoria- Minister
Scientific and Industrial Research Organization receives royalties from the processes it patents. The royalties are fairly nominal in the case of Australian firms but are greater in the case of overseas firms which use them. There is no barrier which can be placed in the way of a private firm using such a process, though a private firm might not be prepared to pay the royalties for its use.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Senate adjourned at 11.21 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 25 September 1963, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1963/19630925_senate_24_s24/>.