24th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMuIlin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers. royal Australian air force.
Senator TURNBULL. - I wish to address to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence the following questions which I ask in view of the fact that the Minister for Defence is now in the United States of America for discussions with Mr. McNamara on possible interim and longterm solutions to the Canberra bomber replacement problem: - Is the loan of the American F4C aircraft to be conditional on the purchase of the American TFX bomber which is still in the design stage and which is still the subject of an inquiry by a congressional committee which, incidentally, has now gone into recess? Is he aware that the English TSR-2 aircraft is being manufactured already and will be flying shortly? Is he aware that, if plans are made to go ahead with the TFX, it will be unavailable until 1972 and the cost of the plane will also be supersonic? Is the Minister aware that the F4C is a supersonic fighter plane and that if used as a bomber it would become subsonic and would become of even less value to the Royal Australian Air Force than the Canberra at present in service? If our immediate defence problem is the near north, Canberras operating in partnership with the British defence forces will meet the need for some years to come. Has the British Government made an offer to the Australian Government to make available upon loan to the R.A.A.F. a force of V bombers which can carry conventional bomb loads over greater distances than the American Phantom F4C? As defence has become one of the major issues in the forthcoming election, will the Government give an undertaking not to make a final decision on the Canberra replacement until after the election, as such a decision should not be made in the heat of a general election debate, with the distinct possibility that the future defence pattern of this country will be prejudiced and even crippled for a very long time to come? If such an undertaking cannot be given, will the Govern ment assure the Senate that further discussion will be held with the British Government before making a final decision?
Senator PALTRIDGE. - The question asked by the honorable senator contains a strong suggestion that any action taken by the Government for the acquisition of bomber aircraft might be motivated by the fact that we are nearing an election.. I should like to assure the honorable senator that any decision in respect of a matter as important as this would have no relationship to the purely political circumstances of an election. In order to reinforce that statement I remind the honorable senator that earlier this year, long before there was thought of an election, an evaluation team led by the Chief of the Air Staff went overseas and visited both the United States of America and Great Britain for the purpose of ascertaining what aircraft were available or might become available should the Government make a decision for the replacement of Canberra bombers. That evaluation team returned and reported fully to Cabinet, and that report received consideration. It is quite true, as the honorable senator has said, that Mr. Townley is now in the United States of America and that he has seen the American Secretary of State for Defence, Mr. McNamara. Mr. Townley has stated that one of the subjects that he will possibly discuss is that of bomber aircraft. In these circumstances, Sir, the honorable senator will appreciate that no statement should be made and that no statement will be nude until Mr. Townley reports to Cabinet and that report has been considered by the Government.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: Has the Commonwealth Government yet made a decision as to whether it will provide a loan to the Tasmanian Government for the construction of access roads to the Gordon River area in what I might term the wild south-west region of Tasmania, for the purpose of hastening the development of hydro-electricity power in Tasmania? If so, what are the details of the decision?
– I hesitate to give the details of the decision.
The proposed development is a very big matter and a large sum of money is involved. But I can give an outline of the plan. The Tasmanian Premier applied to the Commonwealth for financial assistance. He put forward the proposal that a road to the Gordon River area was a necessary part of the development of a large hydro-electric power potential. I think, speaking from memory, that he talked in terms of an investment of £150,000,000 over a period of years. It was necessary before that development could be planned, and before it was made certain that this potential of very cheap power was available, for a road to be constructed. He added to that submission the further view that this part of Tasmania also has very distinct possibilities of mineral resources, that the area is completely inaccessible under present conditions, and also that it has large potential timber resources. The Commonwealth examined the matter very closely and, having regard to its possibilities for the development of Tasmania generally and for the increase of exports to earn additional income overseas, the Commonwealth decided to finance the construction of the road, not by way of a loan but in terms of a non-repayable grant. I think, again speaking from memory, that the amount of the non-repayable grant was fixed at £2,500,000. The answer has been sent to Tasmania so that the work can be commenced immediately and pushed on as rapidly as possible.
Senator FITZGERALD__ Can the Minister representing the Attorney-General give the reason why the Commonwealth Government has decided now to levy an additional licensing tax on all New South Wales clubs under the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act? Is he aware that as a result of the application of this additional tax many clubs, particularly returned servicemen’s clubs, in New South Wales will be taxed out of existence?
– I ask the honorable senator to put the question on the noticepaper, because I have the greatest doubt whether the premise on which it is based is true. If there were a tax of this kind, I should imagine that it was being imposed by the New South Wales Labour Govern ment, but I am not sure. I should like the question to be put on the notice-paper so that I can get an answer.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Did the Government set up a committee of inquiry into the national economy towards the end of last year? Is this committee still in existence? If so, is it intended that the committee will continue to sit during the course of the forthcoming election for the House of Representatives? When is it expected that the committee’s report will be presented?
Government did set up such a committee and, if I may be allowed to say so, it is a very good committee indeed, which, according to my information, is working very hard. Some members of the committee have told me of the extent of their activities. I do not think a report can be expected from this committee for some time. I would not expect a report from it before the middle of next year, but. that is only a personal opinion and perhaps I have no right to make that prediction. As to whether the committee will continue to sit during the election period, I do not think the election would make any difference. The committee is entirely non-political. Its activities are not reported in the newspapers and the committee does not publicize those activities. I hope that it will continue to sit. I am not aware of the legal position. I should think that since the committee was appointed by the Government it will continue its inquiries until a government alters the arrangements. I say that I hope the committee will continue to sit because I think its report will be valuable to all of us.
– Has the Minister representing the Treasurer read a statement to the effect that the value of Australia’s overseas gold and balances has increased to £605,000,000? The increase last month was reported to be approximately £15,000,000. Will the Minister inform the Senate what proportion of these amounts can be attributed to secondary, industry?.-
– I think I may have seen the report to which the honorable senator refers. I have in mind a report published in the London “Times” on the condition of the Australian economy generally, which adverted particularly to the accumulation of Australia’s overseas funds over a period of some eighteen months or two years. I do not know that the report I saw actually refers to the contributions to our overseas funds made by secondary industry. If it did, I do not recall the reference and. to that extent I am unable to say what proportion of the balance could be attributed to secondary industry. There is no doubt that the export market, as revealed by the overall figures, has had the effect of greatly increasing Australia’s overseas funds. In a statement in the Senate recently I referred to the fact that not only were our front line reserves now in. excess of £500,000,000 but also that our second line reserves were in excess of £200,000,000, making a total that has not been exceeded for many years past.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Can he state the latest information he has concerning the case of Mr. William Kapell who was killed in ari aircraft accident in the United States of America while flying as a passenger with British Commonwealth Pacific Airways, which later was taken over by Qantas Empire Airways Limited? Is the Minister aware that recently a judge annulled the two-year-old jury verdict and ordered a new trial for the purpose of fixing the amount of damages? Has he noticed a comment in the “New York Times” that the judge’s ruling stated, in effect, that the Warsaw Convention limit of damages should not apply because the airline was guilty of wilful misconduct? Does the Minister agree with that summingup by the “New York Times”? If so, does this indicate that legislation validating the principle of limited compensation does not prevent action from being taken under the general law of negligence?
– The case referred to by the honorable senator, which was commenced in 1954, is a most interesting one from a legal point of view. I think that any comment which was made on that case would include reference to the Warsaw Convention, which at that time was the only international civil aviation instrument. Since then, of course, the Hague Protocol has been established and the limit of claimable damages has been increased. The establishment of the Hague Protocol removed from the 1954 context, to a completely different context, any comment that might have been made about the situation that existed in 1954. The Hague Protocol has been accepted by 44 nations, including the United States of America.
I think that, in all, there were three trials in this case, under the protracted legal system which apparently exists in the United States. It went before Judge Ritter probably three and a half or four years ago. It was a long hearing and the jury’s verdict was in favour of the airline, but as I understand the matter, after a period of two years Judge Ritter issued a finding which in fact reversed the finding of the jury. The result of this action is that the case will again go to re-trial to another American court. I cannot take my answer to the question beyond that point. As the honorable senator has raised the matter with me, I shall certainly take an early opportunity to see whether there is any further information I can give him regarding later developments.
– My question, which is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, relates to flood mitigation. Has the Commonwealth Government been approached by the New South Wales Government with a request for assistance in flood mitigation? If it has been so approached, what decision has the Government made?
– An approach was made by the New South Wales Government following a visit to the area of the most recent floods by the Prime Minister. I think that the Prime Minnister having seen the problem at first hand, rather held out the suggestion that the Commonwealth might do something in the matter. Subsequently, the New South Wales Government suggested to the Commonwealth that it should join in a scheme which the New South Wales Government has in operation whereby it subsidizes, to the extent of £2 for each £1 expenditure by local authorities on certain of the northern rivers of New South Wales, and £3 for each £1 on the Hunter River valley. That scheme has a currency of six years. In response to a request from New South Wales, the Commonwealth recently decided to match the State’s contribution for a period of six years for the purpose of accelerating the rate at which these flood mitigation works would be carried out. The area in question is a very rich part of New South Wales; it has a great potential as an earner of export income. These works will increase and expedite the flow of such income.
There is a big difference between the British system and the Australian system. In the United Kingdom, most of the social service schemes are based on a contribution by the employee whereas the Australian scheme is based on a governmental contribution which comes from taxation, being a direct charge against revenue. I do not detect any desire in Australia to adopt the principle which has been adopted in the United Kingdom. We have been able to make very satisfactory progress indeed in our social service arrangements during the years in which we have been in office. Almost all budgets have provided for some increase in social services or some enlargement of social service activities. We have reached the position where approximately 70 per cent, of the amount that is raised by way of income tax is applied to social services. That provides a rather solid foundation for our scheme, and I do not think that we would change over to the British system. I do not think we can compare the two systems.
– I address to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service a question about the dispute that has occurred at the works of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, and in doing so, I do not wish in any way to exacerbate the situation.’ I make that statement because I understand that the New South Wales Industrial Commission has ordered a return to work to-morrow. I am eager to know whether” the Minister can disclose to the Senate the real issue in the dispute. Has this dispute arisen suddenly or does it represent the emergence of long-standing friction? To what extent have the industrial activities of the Broken Hill company been brought to a standstill?
– I do not know the answers to the specific questions. They might well be of such importance that the honorable senator either could place them on the notice-paper and so get an answer or could see the department to obtain the desired information. He might well prefer to place the questions on the notice-paper so that a public answer can be given.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services. Is it a fact that five of the six State governments have reduced their payments to certain civilian widows because of the recent generous increase granted by the Menzies Government of the Commonwealth to civilian widows? ,
– I do not know the facts. Because of its importance I think the question must be put on notice. I have heard of only one State’ government reducing its payments to widows because of the increase in social service benefits, but if the question is put on notice I will get the facts.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. I remind him that there were certain allegations in yesterday’s press and, I understand; in today’s press although I have not had the opportunity of seeing today’s press to the effect that a tanker owned by R. W. Miller & Company Proprietary Limited, and engaged in the oil trade from Western Australia to the eastern States, was bargaining for very markedly increased freight rates. Has the Department of Shipping and Transport any knowledge, confirmatory or otherwise, of that report, and has the report any relation to the fact that the company is employing in the coastal trade a tanker recently imported into Australia and is limited in its future trading to vessels built in Australia?
– I am aware that there has been a good deal of public speculation as to the freight rates that this vessel is charging for the carriage of oil from Kwinana to ports in eastern States. I asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport as recently as yesterday whether he had any information as to the freight rates charged, but at that time he was unable to tell me anything about it. I am sorry, but I did not gather the import of the second part of the honorable senator’s question.
– I wanted to know whether the report has any relation to the decision of the Government as to which I was given an answer to a question last week.
– I do not think it has any relation to that decision. The position at the moment is that this tanker is now operating on the Australian register and, pending consideration of other applications which are before the Government, the tanker will remain, for a comparatively brief period, the only Australian flag tanker on the coast. I understand that it is expected that this matter will be brought to finality within a few weeks.
(Question No. 116.)
Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
Australia on synthetics entering this country?
Senator Sir WILLIAM SPOONER.The Minister for Trade has supplied the following answers: -
Creasy - 251/2c. per lb. (on clean wool content).
Scoured - 273/4c. per lb.
Carbonized - 33c. per lb.
Not carbonized - 12c. per lb.
Carbonized - 16c per lb.
It is difficult to estimate the ad valorem equivalents of these duties. As a general guide, however the United States of America tariff on Australian 64’s greasy wool was equivalent to about 23 per cent ad valorem in 1962-63.
British Preferential Tariff- Free
Mostfavourednation Tariff - 71/2% ad valorem
Discontinuous man-made fibres, other than those having a cellulose or casein base, which have been carded, combed or otherwise prepared for spinning are dutiable as follows: -
British Preferential Tariff- 171/2% ad valorem.
Most-favoured-nation Tariff - 45% ad valorem plus 5% ad valorem primage duty.
Other discontinuous man-made fibres are free of duty from all sources. Continuous filament tow for use in- the manufacture of discontinuous man-made fibres is also free of duty from all sources.
(Question No. 131.)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Senator Sir WILLIAM SPOONER.The Prime Minister has provided the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
(Question No. 132.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Repatriation has furnished the following replies: -
(Question No. 130.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice-
– The Minister for Repatriation has furnished the following replies: -
(Question No. 142.)
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The Postmaster General has supplied the following answers: -
(Question No. 148.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
Department and the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Board so that no injustice is done to recipients of pensions?
– The Minister for Repatriation has furnished the following information in reply to the honorable senator’s questions: -
The honorable senator’s questions clearly relate to a particular case. If he will furnish details, appropriate inquiries will be instituted so far as the administration of the Repatriation Act is concerned.
Benefits under the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act are not a matter which comes within the jurisdiction of the Minister for Repatriation or the Minister for the Army, and the honorable senator should direct his inquiries in this regard to the Treasurer who administers that act.
(Question No. 152.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
Senator Sir WILLIAM SPOONER.The Minister for Trade has supplied the following answers: -
Debate resumed from 22nd October (vide page 1325), on motion by Senator Sir William Spooner-
That the bill be now read a second time.
– There being no dissentient voice, that course will be adopted.
– Mr. President, I intend to address my remarks both to this bill, the River Murray Waters Bil), and to the related bill, the Menindee Lakes Storage Agreement Bill, to which the Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner) has referred. The River Murray Waters Bill is concerned with the building of the Chowilla dam which is to be constructed on the lower Murray River by the South Australian Ministry of- Works as constructing authority to the River Murray Commission. The cost of construction is to be shared by the governments of South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and the Commonwealth. The Menindee Lakes Storage Agreement Bill is intended to make water from the Menindee Lakes available to the River Murray Commission which was established under the River Murray Waters Agreement. Those waters are to be made available for sharing by New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia for a period of seven years or until such time as the Chowilla dam has been completed. The dam, which, the Minister’s secondreading speech states, is to be on the lower. Murray, will be regarded by a South Australian as being on the upper Murray. It is proposed that it will be 6 miles downstream from the Victorian-South Australian border, on the South Australian side, and about 38 river miles upstream from Renmark. It will cover an area as far back, as Wentworth, some 120 river miles away,, and it will be the biggest dam in Australia. It will be 41 feet high and 3) miles long.
The area of the reservoir will be over 500 square miles and its capacity will be 4,750,000 acre feet. The dam will provide an assured water supply for many years to come in the lower reaches of the Murray.
As the dam develops it will become a’ tourist attraction and, 1 should say, an attraction for fishermen. . By comparison, Lake Eucumbene, which is now a great tourist attraction, has a capacity of 3,860,000 acre feet, Eildon has a capacity of 2,750,000 acre feet, and Hume has a capacity of 2,500,000 acre feet. This will be a significant new venture in the development of Australia’s water supply and storage. Depending upon the amenities that are provided, it should become a venue for holiday-makers.
The main purpose of the dam is to assure a water supply on the lower Murray in times of drought and water shortage. Apparently the River Murray Commission has assessed the need foi* water and found that in approximately one year in four there is a period of water shortage which necessitates water restrictions. It is believed that the building of- the dam will reduce the incidence of those restrictions to one year in seventeen years and that only in periods of acute drought will restrictions be necessary. The building of the dam, as well as. assuring a water supply to South Australia, will make available to New South Wales and Victoria water from the Hume reservoir which would normally be used by South Australia in drought years.
The dam will enable South Australia to increase its use of river Murray waters. At present there are great fears as to whether we have sufficient water: In addition, if the Murray reaches a low level in its lower reaches, the salinity is such that the water becomes unusable for the purposes for which it is required. Naturally, South Australians support both bills as they will provide relief and security for the future of our State. The Australian Labour Party, being a party with a national outlook which desires to develop the country gives its whole-hearted support to both of these measures. I understand that some arrangements have been made as to speakers in the short period allowed for this debate. Senator Ridley has agreed to speak for the Opposition and will deal somewhat extensively with the Menindee Lakes scheme. Therefore, I shall by-pass that aspect, apart from saying that it appears to me that the New South Wales Government has made a great gesture in permitting the use of Menindee Lakes water to provide security for South Australia while the Chowilla dam is being built. In the national interest, it is handing over to another State resources that are necessary to keep that State going.
South Australia is an area in the centre of the continent with very few rivers to permit it to plan development and irrigation. It relies principally on the Murray for water for domestic and industrial purposes. It has dammed all available creeks, water supplies and catchments in order to meet the domestic and industrial requirements of its metropolitan area. This has not been successful. To-day we are piping river Murray waters from Mannum to Adelaide, a distance of 30 or 40 miles, and using it for domestic requirements. We would have been in a bad position if river Murray water, pumped at a high cost, had not been available to the metropolitan area. With the industrial development of South Australia and the growth of the blast furnace and ship-building yards at Whyalla, we have found it necessary to take water over 200 miles from Morgan to Whyalla. It has now been found that, with the establishment of the rolling mill and the increased population at Whyalla, it will be necessary to duplicate that supply. The South Australian Government is in the process of duplicating the water line from Morgan to Whyalla, which will further drain the Murray supply. If in time of drought the Murray were at such a low ebb that the salt content rendered the water unfit for use, we would have bad conditions in relation to the domestic and industrial supply in the metropolitan area. Towns such as Whyalla on the far west coast of South Australia would be threatened with a complete shutdown unless we could give them an adequate supply of water.
With the increased use of water, both for the expansion of irrigation and the development of industry, South Australia has not an assured water supply in time of drought. This has become a major problem for the State. Great credit must be given for the attitude of New South Wales, which has very little to gain from its contribution to the Chowilla dam scheme, although it will derive some benefit. New South Wales has co-operated in the four-party agreement to permit our State to continue its development. Without this co-operation we would have been in a calamitous position. We are now at the stage where it is useless to plan for future development unless we are assured of an adequate water supply shortly. Considering that South Australia is the State that relies mainly on this supply and that by comparison the New South Wales demand is insignificant, we must give high praise to the New South Wales Government for its willingness to participate in this scheme to give an assured water supply to South Australia. We must also commend it for making water available during the seven years that are expected to elapse before the Chowilla dam is completed. The men who have cooperated in such a scheme are surely men of .vision and national pride, with a sense of responsibility.
Water plays such an important part inAustralian development that the question arises whether we should not have a scheme for national conservation and national planning for the development of all. our water schemes. Great areas of Australia could be developed if water were available. Along the river Murray from Renmark to Port Wakefield trees are being planted. Irrigation is being used widely in South Australia. Areas other than those used for soldier settlement are now being developed profitably by private enterprise.
At Loxton in some areas it was impossible to cultivate the land because of the saline content. The Government is now considering pumping water from the river Murray for many miles so that as it percolates back it will remove the saline and make irrigation and cultivation possible. A problem in these developments is the cost, but large areas along the river Murray could be cultivated with the use of water and trace elements. Provided markets can be found for the produce there are unlimited possibilities in the area along both sides of the Murray in South Australia. With the possibility of a change of government in South Australia, we can expect great progress. The fact that the State Government has governed with such a slender majority in the past has brought great benefits. We can see a great future for South Australia under a stable government if all the essential requirements are met. The difficulties in South Australia were realized by the poet Henry Lawson who described the situation very accurately when he wrote “The Storm that is to Come “. The poet wrote -
The West cries out to the East in drought, but the coastal towns are dumb; ,
And the East must look to the West for food in the war that is to come.
That is the position in South Australia. Henry Lawson went on to draw this picture of the situation - 1 have pictured long in the land I love what the land I love might be,
Where the Darling rises from Queensland rains and the floods rush out to the sea.
And is it our fate to wake too late to the truth that we have been blind,
With a “foreign foe at our harbourgate and a blazing drought behind?
In those words, the poet described the threat that existed in South Australia. As a South Australian, one must appreciate the bill before the Senate and the work of the government departments that has made this legislation possible.I mentioned the need for a national review of the problem of shortage of water. One objective of such a review would be to ascertain whether greater use could be made of available water. When I visited Woomera I was impressed to find that they reticulate firstgrade water there and distribute by cartage secondgrade water for irrigation. Much of the water that we pump at considerable cost from the river Murray to metropolitan areas in South Australia is used for industrial purposes for washing bottles, for instance. Once it is used it is discharged into the -sea. A great volume of water is used in power plants. In some places this kind of wasteful use is. avoided by building power plants close to the sea and using salt water to generate power and cool the engines. At present much cooling of engines is done with fresh water, which is then wasted. I wonder whether the experts could find a way of using our available fresh water to better allround advantage.
I am critical of the haste with which the Senate has to discuss legislation that is before us. This bill was introduced into the Senate late last night and it is the first business to-day on the legislative programme. Honorable senators have not had sufficient time to peruse all the clauses closely. Possibly we shall get an opportunity to study the details of the bill at the committee stage. But we have not examined the technical features of the bill to which the Minister has referred. Before they consent to the bill honorable senators should have some expert advice on the depth of dredging proposed in the river Murray and whether it should be altered. We can only hope that those responsible for the proposal have made adequate inquiries.
This matter needs careful consideration. Experience in the past has shown that as a situation changes and mistakes of the past are found it is necessary to alter agreements between the States. This has happened in the case of the conservation and use of the water of the river Murray. The bill has a schedule of amendments to relevant legislation which have been made in the past. This will.be the seventh amendment to the act. of 1915. That legislation followed an act of 1908 which was not ratified by the parliaments concerned. It would appear to be an agreement between three States and it was not ratified by the parliaments of all of them. The 1915 act ratified the first agreement on the river Murray waters. There was an amendment in 1920, but that act was repealed before it came into operation.Here we have an act which has been amended seven times in 48 years. As I have said, we have not had a great deal of time in which to consider the proposed amendments. It is easy to visualize the necessity for repeated amendment of this legislation in orderto meet changing circumstances.
It is important to remember that before the legislation can be amended it is necessary to have the concurrence of four governments. Despite the fact that amendment might be beneficial to a particular State, the proposal to do so has to be considered and adopted by four governments. The Government of South Australia experienced considerable difficulty in having the Chowilla dam proposal ratified by the New South Wales Government and. the Federal Government. Honorable senators will recall that last year, when the question of standardization of rail gauges was being discussed in South Australia, we were told that Playford had changed his mind and had asked for the Chowilla dam rather than standardization of rail gauges, and that the Commonwealth Government was considering the matter. This was such a serious threat to South Australia that plans were being considered for the construction of a somewhat smaller dam at a site near Blanche Town, which would have met the requirements but at considerably greater cost. It was necessary to consider such a proposal because South Australia was in a desperate position.
There is only one comment I want to make on the bill. It relates to the Seventh Schedule and particularly to paragraph 17 which proposes to amend clause 51 of the principal agreement. Proposed sub-clause (8) gives to the president of the River Murray Commission the right of a casting vote. The commission is composed of representatives of Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and the Commonwealth. Section 7 of the River Murray Waters Act, which is to be amended by this bill, provides that the commissioner appointed by the Governor-General shall be the president of the commission and shall have a deliberative vote but shall not have a casting vote except in the case of formal business. It is proposed to add the words - except as provided in sub-clause (8) of clause SI.
I do not know why it is necessary to add those words. Every decision of the commission must be unanimous unless it concerns a formal question or a question which the commission decides is formal. The commission cannot decide that a question is formal if the interests of the States are dissimilar. If there is disagreement beween States the president has a deliberative vo’;e and a casting vote. As I have mentioned, it is provided that the representative of the Commonwealth Government shall be the president. If the president gives a casting vote on a question it means, in effect, that one State is successful in having its views accepted by the commission despite the fact that two other States were opposed to those views. The fact that the arrangement has worked so well over the years suggests that there is no ground for complaint.
Sub-clause (8) of clause 51 relates to the provision that is made for distribution of the waters in drought years. The States of
Victoria and New South Wales may draw from the Murray River below Albury water in excess of the quantity to which they are entitled under the agreement, provided that the State concerned contributes from a tributary or tributaries of the Murray below Albury a quantity of water equal to the excess so used. That is a suitable arrangement, but before a State may draw water under that provision the other State mustagree. If there is no agreement, the matter must be decided by the commission. The four-member commission may consider the question and make a decision. If the decision is not unanimous it means that the Commonwealth is lined up with one State, and perhaps South Australia may be on the other side. It is reasonable to assume that the casting vote of the Commonwealth representative would go in the same . direction as his deliberative vote.
Although a State could reach agreement with a neighbouring State, and although it was of the opinion that it had a good case, it might still have its objective defeated by the second vote of the Commonwealth representative. I am not unduly criticizing the procedure at this patricular time, because I have no alternative proposal to put forward. However, I suggest that while it is possible for compromises and even complete agreement to be reached in normal times on most questions, a different position arises in drought years. At such a time there may be high feelings on the part of the States concerned because of the capital loss which would be caused by shortage of water, or if they were unable to obtain sufficient water for their requirements. If a State was not able to obtain the agreement of a neighbouring State to its taking additional water from the Murray River, its representative on the commission might feel somewhat aggrieved when the Commonwealth and an adjoining State did not agree to its request, although South Australia, for instance, had been convinced that it was reasonable. Problems such as that could lead to dissatisfaction. For that reason it is necessary to have these matters dealt with by people with a national outlook. As in industrial matters, we should go to a lot of pains to avoid possible friction in the future. Friction may occur unless we are able to devise a system for the control of our water supplies on a national basis, which will provide for the welfare of the country as a whole.
I do not wish to labour the matter, Mr. Deputy President. I re-affirm that the Australian Labour Party wholeheartedly supports both measures and will do everything possible to assist their early passage through the Senate.
– I support the bills and wish to congratulate the Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner) on his achievement in bringing them before the Senate. I am pleased with the attitude of the Opposition, as conveyed to the Senate by Senator Cavanagh. I look forward to the bill with a Treasury content, which no doubt will come before this chamber at an early date, after it has been passed by the other place. For the purposes of my discussion this afternoon, I propose to concentrate on the bill which relates to the establishment of the Chowilla dam. I appreciate that it has been necessary for the Minister to bring to the Senate certain textual alterations, as they are called. I admire him and his officers for tidying up the principal agreement. It is a most complex agreement. It was first made in 1914, and it has been altered four or five times already. Experience has shown that certain clauses need to be tidied up. It is appropriate that that should be done at the present time. However, I do not intend to devote any of my time to a discussion of the details of those minor amendments.
This legislation will be beneficial to all Australians. The Minister for National Development put the position very well when he said, towards the end of his speech -
The construction of the Chowilla reservoir will be a major undertaking which will be of very great importance to millions of Australians in the future.
All honorable senators should be interested in this project because, as I shall indicate when 1 unfold my submissions, every State in the Commonwealth will get some direct or indirect benefit from it. I share with the Minister for National Development pride in the part that the Commonwealth has played in obtaining a satisfactory agreement with the other three governments concerned. The negotiations have been long, but 1 believe they have been thorough. The Minister has kept us posted from time to time of the progress of the negotiations. 1 refer particularly to the long statement that he made to the Senate on 17th October, 1961, when he elaborated the report that had been submitted by the River Murray Commission. That report has been of great interest to many of the constituents of those of us who interest ourselves in river Murray matters. The Government is to be commended for having provided us with technical details from time to time. I should also like to pay a tribute to the River Murray Commission for the thoroughness with which it has prepared the reports that have come into our hands year by year. We have been enabled to study some of the technical details of the projects that have been undertaken by the commission.
What is the proposition that is before the Senate this afternoon? Parliamentary approval is being sought for the expenditure of £14,000,000 on a project which will be based in South Australia but which will occupy some of the land masses of Victoria and New South Wales. On the river Murray, 6 miles from the Victorian border, a high wall will be built. It will be 31 miles long and 41 feet high. It will ‘have the effect of damming up 4,750,000 acre feet of water and will be the largest dam in Australia. It will be rock filled and, speaking generally, it could be one of the great national projects of this country. It will have the effect of inundating Lake Victoria, which at the present time is one of the two major storages in the river Murray system. The other one, the Hume dam, is situated near Albury.
This quantity of water will spread over a fairly large area. It will overflow the banks upstream from the dam and naturally will do some damage in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. Also, of course, it will do some good to Victoria and. New South Wales inasmuch as it will relieve those two States of certain of their obligations. Those obligations extend back for 70 or 80 years; they were first considered in the convention which led to the founding of the Australian Commonwealth. Those obligations were incorporated in agreements about 50 years ago. The River Murray Agreement of 1914, in which the obligations of Victoria and New South Wales are set out, is the first document that I want to refer to. I shall endeavour to show that under the agreement which is before the Senate to-day Victoria and New South Wales will be relieved of some of their obligations. That possibly is one of the important factors which have made the agreement interesting to New South Wales and Victoria.
Let mc refer briefly to the preamble to the agreement of September, 1914. lt slates -
And whereas at a Conference between the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia and the Premiers o[ the said Slates -
That is, Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia - held on the seventh day of April One thousand nine hundred and fourteen certain resolutions were agreed to with a view to the economical use of the waters of the River Murray and its tributaries for irrigation and navigation and to the reconciling of the interests of the Commonwealth and the riparian States:
So this afternoon we are dealing with an agreement which is designed to reconcile the interests of the States and the Commonwealth. As everybody realizes, when a river flows past the properties of certain people, generally there is a discussion or an agreement in regard to riparian rights. 1 believe that Victoria and New South Wales have been relieved of certain of their riparian obligations and, by virtue of the agreement now before us, have assumed obligations of lesser severity.
I shall illustrate my point quite simply. In a period of declared restriction - we shall call it a drought period - under the old agreement South Australia was guaranteed three-thirteenths of the water from the storages of the Hume dam and Lake Victoria. Under the new agreement South Australia will get 33 per cent. - the same as Victoria and New South Wales. So South Australia’s share will rise from 23 per cent, to 33 per cent. Consequently, certain obligations that were imposed upon Victoria and New South Wales in a period of restriction will have been changed. The water will be in the new dam; it will not be in the Hume dam. So more water will become available to Victoria and New South Wales from the. Hume dam than hitherto. I should imagine that Victoria and New South Wales will be able to make better plans for the use of water in a period of restriction, because they will know that the quantities they are obliged to give to South Australia will already have been stored in the Chowilla dam in South Australia. South Australia’s requirement, as vouchsafed by this agreement, is about 1,250,000 acre feet. II should be remembered that the capacity of the new dam will be 4,750,000 acre feet. Assuming the new dam is full or nearly full, it is most unlikely that any draw will be made on the Hume dam by South Australia. It should be remembered that over the last 40 or 50 years the South Australian Government has contributed its share to the building of the Hume dam. This dam, which was built by Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales and the Commonwealth will be of use virtually only to New South Wales and Victoria. New South Wales and Victoria are doing moderately well out of this agreement, and South Australia is also doing well, because it will get 33 per cent, of a certain measure of water whereas hitherto it was vouchsafed only 23 per cent, of that same amount of water.
The obligations and privileges under this agreement apply to all of us as Australians, because the water that would otherwise be flowing into the sea from the mouth of the Murray now has an excellent chance of being stored and put to great use. I shall mention one aspect of this. I recall in 1956 disastrous floods sweeping along the Murray and doing great damage in South Australia. The River Murray Commission’s report on this aspect is interesting. It directs attention to the use this dam will have in flood mitigation. The report says -
The concrete overflow sections would be equipped with flood gates capable of passing a maximum flood without any effect on the flood level at Wentworth. The maximum recorded flood was approximately 140,000 cusecs in 1956, but the dam as designed would pass a flood of 400,000 cusecs.
The enormous flood of 1956 - possibly the largest in the history of the Murray - was less than half the size of a flood which could be controlled by this new dam. I pay a tribute to the Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner) and his officers for paying attention to the important aspect of the preservation of property on the river Murray. I hope that there will not be any flood damage in that area in future as a result of the construction of this dam.
As Senator Cavanagh pointed out, the Murray River is all important to the development of South Australia, which has a very sparse rainfall. The rainfall in Adelaide is about 20 inches, and 90 per cent, of the State has a rainfall of under 20 inches. In areas away from the seashore the rainfall is considerably less, so it is important that the water supply be assured. The South Australian Government has done a ‘magnificent job in building reservoirs for the storage of water but, to put the position bluntly, it has run out of bills around Adelaide. There are reservoirs in every usable part of the Adelaide hills. Farmers have their own dams and the Government has built reservoirs, but there are no more available hills and valleys that can be used to store water. It is essential that cither fresh water be made from sea water or that water be brought from the river Murray.
The population of the Adelaide metropolitan area is about 600,000 at present, and it is expected to rise to 1,000,000 within fifteen years. The demands of the population are rising fast. As Senator Cavanagh pointed out, the demands of industry in the metropolitan area of Adelaide for water are very great. The Minister also referred to that aspect of the matter
I invite the attention of the Minister and honorable senators to the Commonwealth interest in the north of South Australia. Port Pirie is the site of the largest lead smelter in the world. Australia’s export income is largely dependent on metals, wool and wheat. As far as lead is concerned Port Pirie is most important. Port Pirie is in a rainfall area of 9 or 10 inches and cannot maintain itself with the water which is gathered from the nearby Flinders ranges. The pipeline from the river Murray is therefore important to Port Pirie.
Port Augusta is the head-quarters of the Commonwealth Railways, and is becoming more important all the time. The activities of the Commonwealth Railways would virtually be brought to a standstill but for water from the river Murray. Woomera, which we hope will be the head-quarters of the European Launcher Development Organization for a long time to come, is in a rainfall area of about 6 inches and is therefore entirely dependent upon water that is brought to it. The Commonwealth and the other countries concerned have expended hundreds of millions of pounds in Woomera on activities connected with defence and the exploration of outer space. The development there would stop without the guarantee of water. As Senator Cavanagh pointed out, and I reaffirm, the position at Whyalla would be impossible without the advent of water from the river Murray. In a normal year there would be a disaster in these places, and in a dry year there would be a disaster in the whole area between the river Murray and the middle north of South Australia, if this piped water were not available. This is a national project and not just a South Australian project, and this water supply can be maintained only by virtue of a proposition such as the Chowilla dam. Alternative propositions were considered. As has - been pointed out, Sir Thomas Playford at one stage gave attention to a smaller proposition nearer to Adelaide, but that proposition would not have made the same impact on the north of South Australia as this one will.
I make a plea to the Minister that some attention be paid by his technicians to the effect that this dam will have on natural features. I am thinking of the magnificent gum trees at present growing in the river Murray area. Obviously many of these trees and others will be inundated. That is inevitable, but I ask the Minister to obtain the best possible advice from his technical officers so that the least possible barm will be caused to nature in this area. Recently I paid a visit to the Snowy Mountains area. It is remarkable what has been done to preserve the natural growth there, even though a vast engineering project is being undertaken. I hope that the Minister and the River Murray Commission will try to preserve the trees, birds and so on, and ensure that the area will be disturbed as little as possible. I refer also to the trees and vines that have been put there by man. A wall 40 feet high will certainly mean that water will sweep in directions below that wall in which it has never swept before. 1 ask the Minister to ensure particularly that the trees, orchards and vines in the area towards Renmark are considered so that they will not be damaged. I believe that these precautions could be taken if care, experimentation and patience were exercised. 1 know that the Minister will do what he can in that direction. I suggest also that perhaps this vast area of water could be used to South Australia’s advantage as a tourist attraction. It may have the effect of ameliorating the climate in that area.
I should like the Minister to inform me whether his officers are still considering the project known as “ Ploughshare “. This scheme involves the making of enormous holes in the ground by means of atomic explosions. These holes are then filled with water and serve as ancillary storages. I know that considerable work in that direction is being undertaken in the United States of America for the purpose of storing water. The holes in the ground are made by the force of atomic explosions, which is obviously the use of atomic forces for peaceful purposes. An advantage of this method of storage in hot areas is the reduced evaporation. With this method the heat does not evaporate the water to the extent that it would in a storage with an area such as this dam is expected to have.
The last suggestion that I offer for the Minister’s consideration is that some work should be done to see whether this dam cun be used for the purpose of generating electrical energy. I realize that at this dam there will not be a great fall of water. Of course, the height from which water falls is a great feature in the generation of electricity in the Snowy Mountains area, but the Chowilla dam, whilst not having a considerable height, will contain a tremendous force of water behind a wall which is to be three miles long and 41 feet high. I should think that there would be a possibility of using that quantity of water so stored as an aid in the generation of electricity. I know that some electricity is generated at the Hume dam near Albury. The statistics supplied by the River Murray Commission indicate that the power generated is not of very great moment and that the value is not put at a high figure, but it is something. It could well be possible to generate electricity for some of the smaller places in the Chowilla area by using facilities which the dam will afford.
All in all, I give the whole proposition my enthusiastic support. I am glad that the Labour Party also is behind the proposition. I know that in South Australia all people, regardless of party affiliations, are behind the proposal. When work on this project begins it will bring great prosperity to the Murray River areas. When the work is complete it will ensure a supply of water and give great security to people in South Australia. 1 ask the Minister whether he would bc so kind as to consider the points I have raised about interfering with nature as little as possible.
– I agree that it is common sense to deal at the one time with the River Murray Waters Bill 1963, which relates to the construction of the Chowilla dam, and the Menindee Lakes Storage Agreement Bill 1963, which makes provision for the storage of water until the Chowilla dam is filled. I join wilh honorable senators who have commended the people responsible for the bringing into being of the Chowilla dam scheme. I refer particularly to the members of the River Murray Commission and, specifically, to Mr. Dridan. who was appointed to represent South Australia. There is little doubt that Mr. Dridan was the architect of the idea that gave rise to the bills we are now discussing. His standing and authority must have been quite a factor in securing the acceptance of the recommendation of the commission for the building of the dam.
I do not want to take a great deal of time to deal with the report of the commission because it has been mentioned by Senator Cavanagh. When reading the report of the River Murray Commission for 1961-62 I noticed that it gave what I consider to be a very terse and explicit explanation of how the Chowilla dam project came into being and, also, a few details associated wilh it, as follows: -
As mentioned in the Annual Report for 19.60-61, the Premiers of New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia decided to ask the River “Murray Commission to examine and report on the practicability of the construction of a dam on the River Murray of approximately 4,800,000 acre feet capacity, at Chowilla in South Australia. The Commission referred the question of the benefits that would accrue from such a storage to the Technical Committee consisting of representatives from the three Contracting Governments and the Commission, and asked the South Australian Constructing Authority to report on the design and constructional aspects’. The Commission considered these reports at its meeting in September, 1961, and resolved that -
additional regulation of the waters of the River Murray is essential to give greater security in years of drought and to prevent disastrous losses which would otherwise be inevitable;
exhaustive investigations have shown that provision of a large storage at Chowilla would be the most effective and economical means of providing this additional regulation, and detailed site investigations have demonstrated the practicability of constructing a dam to provide this storage.
it would be necessary for the contracting parties to the River Murray Waters Agreement to reach agreement in regard to the control of the storage, apportionment of benefits derived therefrom, and the financing of the project before any further action can be taken.
further investigation should be made from the design aspect with a view to providing alternative means for the. passage of ships in order to avoid the cost of providing a lock in the structure.
It was also agreed that the Governments concerned should be so advised and supplied with results of the investigations. The Commission, therefore, forwarded to each of the Contracting Governments a report based on these results.
Following consideration of this report, a meeting of the Prime Minister and the Premiers of New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia was held in Canberra on 16th April, 1962, to further discuss the proposal.
As an outcome of that meeting the Commission is proceeding with investigations into (1) recommendations for amendments to the River Murray Waters Agreement that would be required if Chowilla were built as a River Murray Commission storage; and (2) the improvement in supply to the States if the Menindee storages were used as River Murray Commission storages for a limited period pending the construction of Chowilla Reservoir.
I think that this report covers aspects of both the bills under discussion. It is to the credit of the members of the River Murray Commission and the Premiers of the respective States that they should think nationally in respect of this project. Senator Laught was probably correct in stating that South Australia will be the greatest beneficiary from the building of this dam. But, as pointed out by the Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner) in his secondreading speech, the other two States which are parties to the agreement will also benefit, even if not as directly as South Australia. Under present arrangements, in time of drought, South Australia is entitled to a certain amount of water from the Murray River which might leave the other two States without sufficient water for their needs. With the building of the Chowilla dam, the drain on their supplies will be lessened and, to this extent, they will benefit. I take it that the Minister did not mean to convey in his secondreading speech that, as a result of the building of this dam, the three States concerned would not suffer however bad a drought might be. However, the dam must certainly lessen to a great degree the effect of any drought, even if it be a severe one. I should think it would have to be a severe one in order to affect these States.
As mentioned in the report to which I have referred, the main purpose of the Menindee Lake Storage Agreement is to make available to South Australia, during the period of building of the Chowilla dam, water from the Menindee lakes storage in New South Wales. As pointed out by the Minister, if a drought becomes too severe, it will not be possible to do that. But provided conditions remain normal it will be possible to use the Menindee lakes storage to supplement the water supply of South Australia while the Chowilla dam is being built.
During the course of his secondreading speech on the River Murray Waters Bill the Minister said -
Clause 21 of the principal agreement provides that locks shall be constructed to provide for vessels drawing five feet of water.
I suggest that the reference should have been to Clause 22 of the agreement, which reads as follows: -
The weirs and locks aforesaid shall be so constructed as to provide at all times of the year for vessels drawing five feet of water.
I think that is the clause to which the Minister intended to refer.
– Before concluding I should like to compliment those responsible for the fact that, within a short time after this project had been first mooted, it was possible for the States to refer it to the River Murray Commission which, in turn, brought into operation the machinery necessary to enable it to furnish us with the report to which I have already referred. I agree with Senator Cavanagh that this has expedited agreement on the matters involved and has shortened the debate. Nevertheless, it is unusual, in connexion with projects of this size, to reach agreement in such a short time as agreement has been reached on this matter.
Whilst all the States ‘which are parties to the agreement and Australia as a whole will benefit from this scheme, the parties to the agreement have conceded the urgency of the water needs of South Australia. I think that that fact is to their credit and should be taken as an object lesson by others who may have to deal with similar matters. The recognition that this scheme is a matter of extreme importance to one State while it is, comparatively speaking, of secondary importance to the other States, augurs well for future joint projects that must benefit the whole of Australia. Again, I congratulate those who were mainly responsible for arriving at this agreement. I congratulate, again, Mr. Dridan, the South Australian Minister responsible for drawing up the original plans. I understand that he will, be responsible for the designing work. I again congratulate the representatives of the other States on their co-operation in dealing with the scheme and in treating it as an urgent matter.
.- The two bills under consideration, the River Murray Waters Bill and the Menindee Lakes Storage Agreement Bill, are indeed welcome. The public appreciates the approach made by the governments of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, together with the Commonwealth Government, to increase water conservation at the Menindee lakes in New South Wales and at the site of the proposed Chowilla dam in South Australia. I wish to add my commendation to that of other senators who have voiced their appreciation of the broad national outlook which has prompted the New South Wales, Victorian, South Australian and Common wealth governments to concentrate their attention on this all-important question of water conservation. I suppose that the Murray River, with its tributaries, is the greatest source of water in Australia, not even excluding the Clarence River and some of our deep waterways in Queensland. Much has been said about the amount of water that may be available from the Ord River. But the water referred to in these bills will be available in the higher rainfall area of Australia- and in country the productive capacity <Of which has been proved. We know how to use this water. We know what crops we can produce. I think that this is one of the most progressive forward steps that have been taken in the history of water conservation. The Menindee lakes storage, itself, is a remarkable scheme. Credit is due to the New South Wales Government for its vision and foresight in constructing a dam on those lakes adjacent to the river Darling.
South Australia is one of the driest States in the Commonwealth. Eighty per cent, of its land has an average rainfall of less than 10 inches and much of it has less than 4 inches, so we can see that water is the life-blood of the State. During the search for a suitable site to conserve water, the New South Wales Government suggested that perhaps it would be possible to bring water from the Menindie lakes scheme into the upper irrigation areas of South Australia around Renmark and Barmera. As honorable senators know, Menindee supplies the requirements of Broken Hill, as well as irrigation areas lower on the Darling. There were some obvious drawbacks to a’ supply from the Menindee lakes, lt was necessary to have an open channel and the supply was by no means inexhaustible. So South Australia set out to find other suitable storage areas.
I may now be treading on very dangerous ground. In raising water from the level, of the river Murray and putting it onto higher ground, we have noted that with increased efficiency of pumping units the costs of pumping have decreased. They are likely to decrease further. -We are beginning to realize that much of our high land is very suitable for irrigation, not only for’ the production of vines and dried fruitsbut also for pastures. I shall not deal with whether or not it is financially possible,, but perhaps pastures would provide a very worth-while supplementary ration. Some of our well-known irrigation areas on the Murray flats would have been ideal for water conservation. While South Australia was seeking suitable sites, it considered several proposals. It could have constructed across the Murray a dam which would have swamped some of our wellknown settlements. The decision to utilize the basin of the Murray at Chowilla seems to me to be a very wise one.
South Australia has expended about £150,000 in seeking a suitable site. It is pleasing to note that South Australia will be recouped this sum when the dam is constructed. Honorable senators might ask how this amount of £150,000 has been spent. It has been spent on surveys. When there is a proposal to erect a dam three and onethird miles long, 41 feet high, to hold water for a distance of 120 miles, foundations are most important. Considerable problems had to be overcome before it was possible to present this scheme to the other governments. With our modern techniques of dam construction, all difficulties will be overcome.
I suppose many honorable senators have seen the lignum swamp country. It is 38 miles upstream from Renmark and six miles from the Victorian border. In a plan to dam water for a distance of 120 miles, the question of compensation to the occupiers of the country has to be considered. Such problems have been overcome and in the near future, by agreement with the other governments, South Australian authorities will commence building a dam at Chowilla. The Minister detailed investigations that have been made of the flow of the river over the past 51 years. At times we have experienced exceedingly difficult drought conditions, when the flow of the river has been practically negligible. I can recall walking across the Murray River, before we had locks.
– People once walked across the River Nile, too.
– I know that the Nile was dry; but the beasts of the field drink from it. We do not want the Murray River to be dry. That is why these conservation efforts are so pleasing to me.
The Menindee storage will be increased from 1,010,000 acre feet to 1,470,000 acre feet. Menindee and Chowilla are complementary. During the period that we need to construct the Chowilla dam, which will be approximately seven years, Menindee will be a very worth while standby and will guarantee a water supply to South Australia. Chowilla dam will hold 4,750,000 acre feet and will be the largest reservoir in Australia. Lake Eucumbene, which is also a mighty storage, holds 3,860,000 acre feet. Eildon has 2,750,000 acre feet and Hume also is a mighty reservoir.
Why is the Chowilla proposal so important to South Australia? We look to the Murray not only for irrigation but also for household and industrial supplies. Unless we can have more Murray water coming into our industrial areas, by 1970 further industrial expansion will be impossible and by the year 2000 South Australia will be in a most difficult situation for water. All available water around Adelaide has been tapped and conserved. Recently in South Australia we have constructed the Para dam and the Myponga dam and a new dam is being constructed at Torrens Gorge. There is a move to increase the capacity of the Warren reservoir and we have also increased the holding capacity of the Onkaparinga dam. But still the water available is limited. The pipeline from Morgan to Whyalla is to be duplicated and its value will be increased accordingly. Work is proceeding on that project.
I think it is good for us to pause now and again to consider how nature has helped us by providing the river Murray. The river starts in the highlands and traverses rich land with a fairly good rainfall in New South Wales and Victoria. It enters South Australia in a region where the rainfall is very low, amounting to about 10 inches or even less a year. The Murray takes a rightangle turn at Morgan and meanders to the sea. The fall of the river is from about 1 inch to 4 inches in a mile and the country is admirable for irrigation. So nature has been particularly kind to us in giving us this great asset.
Another pleasing development is the effort to control soil erosion in the catchment areas. In the past few years there has been a marked increase in pasture improvement in the catchment areas which are important to the Murray. This is particularly noticeable in the higher-altitude districts of the main catchment area. Aerial top-dressing has assisted in increasing the ground cover. I cannot speak too highly of the efficiency of aerial top-dressing in these high lands. The prohibition on the grazing of stock at the 4,500 feet level since 1958 has encouraged the growth of vegetation cover. Alpine herbage and prostrate wood scrub are spreading in the tussock spaces. Snow-gum seedlings are becoming well established. These efforts to stop soil erosion are proving their worth and the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority is setting a fine example in these activities. Work to control erosion and to prevent damage by fire and by insect pests is to bc commended, because all these projects provide a better and purer run-off- for water.
– This . work would also help in flood mitigation.
– That is so. If soil erosion is to bc controlled, it is essential to have sufficient pastures of the right kind. The better the pasture the less the run-off of water. So this question of water conservation is very important. I thank the three State governments concerned and the Commonwealth Government for the efforts they have been making and will continue to make to preserve, the catchment areas so that supplies of water will be assured. I support the two bills before the Senate and congratulate all concerned on their national outlook.’ I commend all honorable senators for their support of this project.
[5.10]. - in reply - I thank the Senate for the support it has given to the two bills under consideration. Personally, I get a great ideal of satisfaction from seeing these water conservation proposals brought to a conclusion. We have had a series of them. They include the Snowy Mountains project, the Ord River, the Blowering and Chowilla dams, and there are others in the offing. I hope that those that have reached a stage of finality during this Parliament are but the forerunners of others to come.
Water is so important -to Australia that we shall not do well unless we give it a high priority in our developmental works. The contribution that water conservation and closer settlement schemes have made to the decentralization of the population is not always realized. Recent figures supplied to me show that our irrigation farms support a population of from twelve to twenty persons each. Statistics lead to the - conclusion that the Blowering dam, a financial provision for which was recently approved by the Senate, could be the foundation of an increase in population of about 20,000 persons along the banks of the Murrumbidgee. We have in Australia now about 2,250,000 acres of irrigated land. Within the next few years, with the proposals now under consideration, we ‘ should be able to increase that total to 3,000,000 acres. That is an important development over recent years. ‘
I should like to see greater areas under irrigation and closer .settlement, and will certainly do what I can, as opportunities arise, to achieve this result. It must be remembered that these arrangements are not easy to negotiate. Water is so scarce that the State governments, quite rightly, jealously preserve their riparian rights and look closely into a project before entering into arrangements affecting their supplies pf water. Secondly, great capital sums are involved in the head-works of the water conservation schemes. The Chowilla dam, which is under consideration, involves a capital investment, of £14,000,000. The Blowering dam, which we considered recently, involves a capital investment of £29,000,000. These are great sums of money for a young country like Australia. These projects involve great capital investments which do not give a rapid return on outlay. The headworks must be followed by so many subsequent developmental works.
In those circumstances, I am glad to say that the negotiations proceeded smoothly. For that, I give full credit to ‘ the River Murray Commission. This unique organization is composed of the leading irrigation engineers from South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales, with a Commonwealth Minister as president. I think I have now held the position of president of the commission for a record term since its establishment in 1915.
In connexion with the Chowilla dam project, the commission considered water conditions for 51 years. It took the data that was available and applied the conditions in those years in forecasting the conditions for the next 51 years, having regard to the commission’s view of expected irrigation developments along the river during that period. It was a most careful investigation and all the relevant State departments participated. The department responsible for irrigation in each of the three States made its contribution by supplying information concerning conditions within the State. This information was collated by Mr. Harrison, the executive engineer of the River Murray Commission, to whom I give full marks for his contribution to the project.
It was with that solid foundation that the proposal came before the Ministers. The investigation showed that the dam would be a great boon to South Australia and, indeed, was vital to that State. It also showed that, by utilizing the arrangements made under the River Murray Waters Agreement, the project could confer benefits on other participants in the agreement. It was decided to proceed with the construction of the dam only because of the support which we, as the Commonwealth Government, gave to it. That fact must be acknowledged. We had no legal obligation to come into the matter. We could have stood on the sidelines and not participated, but instead of doing that, we took the initiative throughout. Not only did we find a one-fourth share of the cost of the project, but also we lent New South Wales its onefourth share. Of the amount of £14,000,000, the Commonwealth will in fact find one-quarter by way of a direct contribution as a signatory to the River Murray Waters Agreement, and one-quarter as a loan to the State of New South Wales.
Without doubt, the construction of the dam will result in great benefit accruing to every settler along the banks of the Murray River, no matter in which State he resides. Early in the negotiations, the South Australian Premier stressed that without additional water resources development in that State would come to a halt ten years hence, because by that time water supplies would be fully utilized. It was stated that further development in South Australia could turn very largely on some new technological development, such as the conversion of salt water into fresh water. Natural resources were not available. I come now to a matter which I have always regarded as one of the surprising features of the Chowilla dam project. There has always been an urge, on the part of States through which the Murray River passes, to obtain more water. For years it was accepted that there was no suitable site for a dam. Then suddenly - almost overnight - the Chowilla site was found by Mr. Dridan and his South Australian organization. The discovery of the site gave a completely new look to all the possibilities of the river Murray and the use to which its waters could be put.
I take a lesson from the discovery of the site. I believe that one of the most important steps taken during the time I have held my portfolio was the establishment a couple of years ago of the Australian Water Resources Council. The council proposes to make an exhaustive and detailed examination, in conjunction with the States, of the river systems throughout Australia. I believe that the development at Chowilla will be repeated elsewhere as information is gathered and as time goes by.
We have had a very friendly discussion of the bill and I have very few queries to answer. Senator Cavanagh and Senator Laught wondered about deadlocks and the use of the veto on the River Murray Commission. The commission is a most extraordinary body in that it can operate only on the basis of unanimous decisions. It has never yet failed to reach a unanimous decision, in its life of almost 50 years. I do not know how it succeeds in achieving unanimity, with a politician as its president, but nevertheless it does so. The commission itself worked out this solution. In time of drought it might be necessary for a decision to be made in a hurry. If there were a deadlock, with two members of the commission voting in one way and two in the other, it would be essential, because of the momentous issues, at stake, for someone with knowledge of the circumstances to have a final vote.
The Commonwealth has always nominated as its representative one of the leading engineers in the Commonwealth service. In a time of emergency, when it was necessary to have prompt decisions, it would be advisable not to go outside the ranks of those who are knowledgeable in water con.servation, river flow and matters of that kind. The proposal concerning the vote came from the States. There never has been a deadlock on the commission and we do not think there will be one. Nevertheless, we consider it necessary to cover the contingency and that responsibility should be assumed by the Commonwealth. After all, the Commonwealth engineer would have been present throughout the discussion and would be familiar with all the facts and circumstances. He would have no particular interest in any one State.
The decision regarding the depth of water has emanated from the River Murray Commission. The water depth has been five feet, which was the depth that was necessary when there was traffic on the river. The traffic no longer exists. Unnecessary expenditure would be involved in dredging new channels and constructing new locks. The matter came before us, on the political level, from the officers as an engineering, technical and common-sense proposal. I think that Senator Cavanagh suggested that we should obtain other opinion. To that suggestion I give the answer that 1 gave earlier. No better opinion could be obtained than that of the officers concerned with the matter because they know it inside and out. I again thank the Senate for its support of the bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 22nd October (vide page 1326), on motion by Senator Sir William Spooner -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
In committee: Consideration resumed from 22nd October (vide page 1329).
Proposed expenditure, £3,181,000.
Proposed expenditure, £263,000.
Senator MCCLELLAND (New South Wales [5.28].- I refer to Division No. 212 - Reporting Branch. I wish to raise a matter that I raised in this chamber last year - the cost of transcripts purchased by litigants in the Commonwealth jurisdiction, especially those who are involved in proceedings before the Commonwealth Industrial Court and the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. The cost of transcripts is a very heavy burden on employer and employee organizations which go to arbitration for the purpose of obtaining a new award or of seeking a variation of an existing award. Consideration of applications for new awards sometimes extends over a period of months. Honorable senators will observe that the cost of transcripts in such cases, which is at the rate of 7d. per folio - a folio consists of 72 words - is astronomical.
My remarks relate particularly to litigation under section 28 of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, which might be referred to in broad terms as the compulsory conference section. That section makes it mandatory for commissioners to bring before them the parties to an industrial dispute or parties who are likely to be involved in a threatened dispute. The threat of a dispute is brought to the notice of the commission and the parties are brought before the commission with a view to ascertaining whether a stoppage can be averted.
It is only fair that organization representatives who appear before the commission in such circumstances should have the, advantage of being able to obtain a copy of the transcript to enable them to report back to the members of their organizations. I point out that the Government bears the cost of administering the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in order to ensure the existence of industrial harmony. I suggest that the Government would not be assuming an unfair burden if it agreed, if not in all instances at least in regard to proceedings under section 28 df the act, to provide the parties with at least one free copy of the transcript of proceedings. In many instances the cost of a transcript runs into hundreds of pounds. Not only the trade union movement but also employer organizations are involved. During the debate on the estimates last year, the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) said he would ask the Attorney-General’s Department to consider the matter. I am wondering what has happened in the last twelve months.
I am still relating my remarks to Division No. 212 when I say that I understand that, with the construction of the new Supreme Court building in Canberra, the old manual method of recording evidence was abandoned and that the proceedings are now recorded by tape recorders. I ask the Minister to explain, if he is in a position to do so, how the system is operating and what advantages the Government feels are. accruing from it.
I think one other honorable senator has raised the final matter that I wish to deal with. I refer to Division No. 214 - High Court.’ In case my memory does not serve me correctly, may I suggest that it is high time that the central registry of the High Court was established in the National Capital instead of having the administration of the court decentralized? Perhaps . the Minister is able to tell me whether it is envisaged that the registry will be established in Canberra, and, if so, when it will be established.
– I shall do my best to answer the queries that have been raised. I recall Senator McClelland asking about free copies of transcript when we were discussing the estimates last year. I brought his remarks to the attention of the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick) after the conclusion of that debate. I have not followed the matter up since that time and I do not know whether the honorable senator himself ha’s followed it up with the Attorney-General. It is clear that no action has been taken, but the reasons why the Attorney-General has not taken action are not at this stage known to me. It may well be that free copies of transcripts in one particular type of case, such as a threatened dispute before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, would, be difficult to supply unless the field were progressively widened and free copies of transcripts .were made available in all cases before the commission. Whether that was the reason or not I am afraid I am not in a position to say. All I can say is that no action was taken although the honorable senator’s remarks were brought to the attention of the Attorney-General.
The honorable senator’s other question was about the tape recording system. To the best of my knowledge - and this emanates from conversations with members of the Attorney-General’s Department - the tape recording system in the Supreme Court is proving satisfactory. Again I have not any details as to the ways in which the tape recording system fills gaps which were evident before or in what ways it is any better than the system used before. The general answer I give is that I have gathered from conversations that the officers think that so far the system has proved satisfactory. If the honorable senator would like a more detailed answer as to the ways in which the system is considered to be an improvement it would be better if I obtained the information from the AttorneyGeneral’s Department in writing.
The question of centralizing the records of the High Court would be a matter of policy for the department and not one on which I would be qualified to comment at this stage.
Proposed expenditures noted.
.- I move-
That the following items, 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; and Australian War Memorial, £130,000, be postponed until after consideration of the items of the Department of Works, £10,182,000; Capital Works and Services, £1,657,000; Recruiting Campaign- Buildings’, Works, Fittings and Furniture, £33,800; and Repairs and. Maintenance, £7,500..
By that motion I seek approval- to consider the estimates of the Department of Works now and immediately we finish those estimates to pass on to the estimates of the Department of the Interior. This arrangement is merely to overcome a technical difficulty; there is no other reason.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed expenditure, £10,182,000.
Proposed expenditure, £1,657,000.
Proposed expenditure, £33,800.
Proposed expenditure, £7,500.
.- I have read the report of the Public Works Committee on the second stage of the Commonwealth centre in Melbourne. The report, makes reference to two departments, the Department of the Interior, and the Department of Works. The Department of the Interior, I understand, is occupying the stage 1 building, but the Department of Works was the planning and constructing authority. Nobody who has paid much attention to this report could be very pleased with the state of affairs the report discloses.
The committee is to be complimented on the fair manner in which it dealt with the evidence that was submitted to it, but with great respect I do hot think it can be said that the report is a vehicle of praise for the Department of Works. The building cost in the vicinity of £3,000,000. Referring to the lift services in the building the committee said -
These proved to be inadequate in peak periods even with the staggering of starting and finishing times.
What concerns me mostly is that little thought appears to have been given to the construction of this building from the point of view that other buildings were to be built in the area. The land for the Commonwealth centre comprises about 9t acres. It was acquired by the Commonwealth in 1948. As it was obvious that all the Commonwealth offices in the Melbourne city area would be located in this centre one would have thought that more forethought would have been given to the project in the initial stages.
It would appear that the Commonwealth is a law unto itself. I do not suggest that it has flouted local government regulations.” No doubt the Department of Works was in touch with both the Victorian Department of Health and the Melbourne City Council in. relation to building regulations. However, we find that in the first building ceilings of only 9 feet were provided. The, ordinary person in the city who builds a block of offices has to comply with the regulations.
Then there was the matter of parking. Certain places have been demolished to provide for the second building, but no provision is made for parking. Parking is necessary, not only’ for the employees who work in the building but also for members of the public who are compelled to do business with the various departments housed there. The Minister knows that if a private building were constructed within the city a certain area would have to be set aside for parking.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting I was making a few remarks about a report of the Public Works Committee. Having read that report, I feel that the officers of the Department of Works - particularly the technical officers - have not much to be proud of. I suppose that one will not achieve much by raking over the dead past. Let us hope that the officers of the department, knowing that there are 9i acres in Albert Park on which they could build the second stage of a Commonwealth centre, will not make the errors that were made in the construction of the first stage! I regret that honorable senators have not had more time in which to discuss this report.
– To which report are you referring?
– The report of the Public Works’ Committee in relation to the second stage of the Commonwealth centre in Melbourne, in the important State of Victoria.- No doubt this project was considered first by a planning committee which would have passed on to the architects details of what was wanted. If I were responsible for the’ construction of four or five similar buildings in that area I would be pleased that these architects were not employed for the project.
Before stage 2 of the Commonwealth centre reached the drawing board stage the responsible officers should have given consideration to the whole area to be used. I hope that in future the Commonwealth will ensure compliance with the appropriate city building regulations. The responsible officers should have sufficient foresight to realize the need for ventilation in the offices. They should have in mind the number of officers who will work in the building. They should consider the number of lifts that will be necessary, and should see that sufficient parking space is provided, not only for. the officers who work in the building but also for people who have business to transact there. Recently published figures indicate that in Victoria there is one registered motor vehicle for every 3.2 people.
– That is because you have a good federal government.
– I love a remark like that. If the honorable senator wants if to be on, I do not mind obliging him, at any tick of the clock. But I do not want it to be on.
What worries me is that Victoria suffers because of the various projects that are undertaken. First, we have a bridge that is out of action; secondly, we have a railway building at Spencer-street and that, seemingly, will not work; and now we have this proposal that also will not work.
– And Albert Park!
– Albert Park is all right so you can forget about that. If is easy to stand up in this chamber and to criticize a report, but I do not want to rake over the various matters it contains. I do not think we get very far by blaming people after the horse is out of the stable. Nevertheless, I trust that in future there will be adequate planning and that not only the use to which a building is to be put but also the whole area in which it will stand will be considered. I realize that, as a rule, the Government does not like planning. I was very pleased this afternoon to hear the
Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir William Spooner) say that within the last couple of years a committee has been functioning which will plan the development and use of the whole of the water resources of this nation. When he said that, 1 thought to myself that the Government always does the right thing eventually. It may take a long time to do so, but eventually it gets there. The plan mentioned by the Leader of the Govern? ment is a good one, and I think it is sensible to say that if planning is needed in relation to water resources, it is neded also in relation to the second stage of the Commonwealth centre.
It must be remember.ed that in this project the Department of Works is tied up with the Department of the Interior. I trust that those responsible for the project will get down to tin tacks and decide who will plan the centre. When the plan is decided upon and the building is constructed, it should not then be necessary to start making alterations. Let us see that this job is done in a way that people outside the departments would do it. Surely in such a matter we are big enough to plan the project in the same way that any successful man outside would plan it. When we debate the estimates for the Department of the Interior I shall mention that in Victoria the Commonwealth pays about £800,000 in rent for Commonwealth offices. The Commonwealth is not getting that accommodation cheaply. If the amount paid in rent were capitalized at 5 per cent, it would enable an expenditure of £17,000,000. If one department approached the Treasurer and asked for that amount I am sure that it would not receive the money. Running this nation is the biggest business in Australia, so let us be efficient. 1 hope that I shall never read in any later report matters such as I have read in this one.
Order! The honorable’ senator’s time has expired.
– Senator Kennelly has placed before the committee a very important matter. Commonwealth expenditure must always be planned to the best advantage of the nation. The provision of the new Commonwealth centre in Melbourne is not a political matter; it is a national matter. It must be conceded that something has been achieved in the area to which Senator Kennelly has referred. Let us not permit the value of that achievement to be reduced by smallmindedness. Let us not adopt a political instead of a national outlook. Efficiency is cheap, whatever you pay for it. If we fail to adopt the warning voiced by Senator Kennelly in relation to the building of the second stage of the Commonwealth centre, inefficiency will result, and inefficiency does not pay dividends at any time. Therefore, the second stage should have been very carefully planned.
Recovering from the Commonwealth that section of Albert Park in Melbourne which it previously occupied was a great achievement on the part of the people of Victoria. I say that although I do not particularly like Victorians who win football premier? ships by taking from Western Australia our best footballers such as “ Polly “ Farmer and Jack Watts.
.- As a fellow Victorian, I can well appreciate the facetious thrust which Senator Kennelly made at us with regard to the King-street bridge and the Spencer-street railway building. However, I took some exception to his remark that the Commonwealth offices were in the same category as these projects and would not work. They are working very well. I should not like it to be bruited abroad that the Commonwealth offices are in the same class as the other structures about which the honorable senator had his little jibe. The honorable senator’s allegation that the Crown is a law unto itself is technically right. But he may lose sight of the fact that the Commonwealth centre, which he has constructively criticized, is a project which results from the work of a dedicated band of people who have set out to give to the nation the very best building that they can design and build. They have spent a life-time in improving their methods and techniques to meet modern requirements. Whilst his criticism probably was not intended for the people who have been responsible for the design of the building, I emphasize again that these are the people who work on behalf of the Crown which, he alleges, is a law unto itself. It is not.
Those who serve the Crown exercise a responsibility in all that they do. The criticisms that the honorable senator has made of this building may or may not be justified. There are reasons for at least two of his strictures. He has suggested that the Crown, in its omnipotence, has disregarded the building regulations and requirements of the State. Technically, that is right. But “ disregarded “ is not really the correct word to use because agreement has been reached on this matter between the State Government and the Commonwealth Government for reasons which I will set out in the briefest possible detail. There is a very real problem in connexion with the lower ceiling provided in stage 2 of the Commonwealth offices. There are two principal reasons for providing the lower ceilings. One is the alinement of the floor levels of the new building with the existing building. The other reason is the necessity to provide space above the ceilings for the accommodation of extensive duct work for the air-conditioning system. That system, incidentally, was recommended by the Public Works Committee. I think it will be agreed by all that we applaud the Parliament when it follows the recommendations of the Public Works Committee because it is a completely independent committee, free of politics, and comprised of members from both sides of both chambers, who set out to give a service without any special reward coming their way. Every possible way of providing a higher ceiling has been examined, having regard to limitations imposed by the structural problem of the building and its air conditioning. That explanation may not satisfy the honorable senator, but I am not in a position to give an explanation in greater detail. I suggest, however, that it indicates that the problems that he has mentioned have been carefully considered.
The honorable senator was also concerned about car parking facilities which will be in much greater demand when the building is completed than they are now. When the centre was originally planned nine years ago it was expected to have car parking in the basement of block No. 2. However, pressures on working space are so severe that it was decided not to make any provision for car parking. i suggest that, if the honorable senator had to make a choice, he would choose using the available accommodation for office staff rather than for car parking. At the present time, ample car parking space is available on a temporary basis. I am assured that ways and means are being sought to make permanent facilities available before further developmental work is finally planned.
Senator Kennelly has stressed that an allover plan should be available embracing the whole area of 91 acres. I cannot comment on that. There may well be some merit iri the proposal. I shall bring it to the notice of the Minister for the Interior and ascertain whether he would like to comment on it.
. -It is not my idea to make a Kathleen Mavourneen of this matter. However, I invite the Minister’s attention to the fact that paragraph 15 of the report on stage 2 of the Commonwealth centre reads as follows: -
Lift services. - Four lifts were provided in Stage 1’. These proved to be inadequate in peak periods even with the staggering of starting and finishing times.
With regard to floor levels, paragraph 21 reads as follows: -
As the buildings are to be linked it is desirable for the floor levels of the new building to be consistent at all levels with those of the existing building.
Of course, that is so, but my point is that because planning for the whole area was not undertaken at the same time, when it was desired to install the air conditioning ducts above the ceilings it was necessary to reduce the ceiling height to .8 ft. 6 ‘in. The report states -
This is six inches less than the permitted minimum in the city of Melbourne.
The next part of the report deals with ventilation. I know that I shall not get the building as I want it. All that I am concerned about is to get a plan for the next section. , The Minister referred to car parking arrangements. When the report on the first stage was before the Senate, I appealed for provision for parking. I wanted to know why provision was not made for parking facilities underground, as in modern buildings. T know that it would have cost more, but we would have had the parking space.
Paragraph 52 of the report, in relation to disabilities in stage’ 1, states -
We have noted that a number of disabilities exist in Stage 1 of the Commonwealth Centre and we are concerned about the deterioration in the building. We have been assured that, with experience gained, these will not occur in the new building. Construction of the building to the design and size proposed is recommended.
I do not know what is wrong with my Ci:Y that something should go wrong with almost everything we build. I hope that there will be an overall plan for the new building. Nobody expects the Government to complete the whole project at once, but the department would be extremely wise to put the whole of it down on paper, showing the area of 8 or 9 acres as it will eventually be. There should not then be any question of having ceilings 8 feet 6 inches high instead of 9 feet high.
I do nol want to labour the point. I know that the officers are dedicated men. I just ask them to be a bit more dedicated. If they worked for me and this .was the result, I would say, “ You had better go and get your time “. This is not good enough. Let us hope that this sort of thing will not happen in the future. When the centre is completed, whether or not we are here, it will be of tremendous advantage to the people and the city. It Will occupy an area that was formerly unattractive and it will certainly enhance Melbourne. Let us do the job as it ought to be done. Let us do it as private enterprise would do it. If that is done, we shall all be proud.
Proposed expenditures noted.
Department of the Interior.
Proposed expenditure, ?7,537,000.
Department of the Interior - Capital Works and Services.
Proposed expenditure, ?2,333,000.
Department of the Interior, Recruiting Campaign - Rent.
Proposed expenditure, ?9,000..
Department of the Interior - Civil Defence.
Proposed expenditure, ?330,000.
Department of the Interior - War and Repatriation Services - Miscellaneous.
Proposed expenditure, ?314,000.
Department of the Interior - Australian War Memorial.
Proposed expenditure, £130,000.
.- I refer my friends of the Department of the Interior to the report of the Public Works Committee on Stage 2 of the Commonwealth centre, Melbourne. Paragraph 60 states -
During the early stages of our inquiry we sought information about the allocation of space in the building but we were informed that, apart from those departments which would expand into it from Stage I, no decision had been made. Departments already in Stage I, which will require space in Stage II are Social Services, Health, Immigration, Labour and National Service, Interior, the Office of the Public Service Inspector, and the War Service Homes Division. They will take approximately 56,000 square feet leaving approximately 89,000 square feet of space to be allocated.
Will the Minister get the officers of the department to make up their minds? We cannot expect a building to be constructed as required unless the department which allocates the space makes up its mind as to the occupants. It should tell the people who have to plan the building, so that they can tell the architects by whom the building is to’ be occupied and how it is to be set out.
The Department of the Interior is a very important department, because it deals with electoral matters. Why is the law not carried out? How many people have been fined for not voting? Is the Commonwealth Electoral Office getting soft?
– For what period do you require the information?
– I should like to know how many people are being prosecuted for failure to vote in the East Sydney by-election. If the law is bad, let us scrap it. 1 want all the people to vote. What percentage of people enrolled have been prosecuted for failure to vote in preceding elections? I do not know exactly the wording of the section, but I should think that it provides that persons who without lawful excuse fail to vote may be fined. Both the Government and the Opposition believe in compulsory voting, and that is what the law provides. I believe that the law ought to be carried out at all times, especially as is relates to elections. I know that formerly postal officials notified the names of persons who had changed their address, and these changes were recorded by the Electoral Office. Who does this work now? I know that a few officers - as a rule elderly officers - are engaged in this work. Does the Minister think that these arrangements are sufficient? Would it not be better for one or more officers to be specially assigned to this work?
Ali I am asking is that the Government enforce the law. I know that it is not easy to do so. I was interested in a by-election in the electorate of La Trobe a few years ago. I was amazed at the number of voters who were not on the rolls. If the Government states that it cannot cope with the problem with the present staff, I can understand that, but I suggest that it should get an adequate staff.
If I were in charge of the Department of the Interior I would be very worried over the amount of rent that is paid by the Commonwealth for the use of accommodation. I know that this kind of thing applies to State departments as well as to Commonwealth departments. I went to find a State Government office in Victoria and found it in the I.C.I, building. The first question that occurred to me was: How much a foot are they paying for this floor? I want to see public servants working in the best conditions, but we are the custodians of the people’s money and we should not waste it. According to the report before the committee the Commonwealth Government is paying £819,000 a year for rent of offices in Victoria alone. Most of it is spent in the city of Melbourne. I am not the best of mathematicians, but if my figures are correct that expenditure would equal 5 per cent, on a capital outlay of £17,000,000. That expenditure is nearly £1,000,000 a year.
Not long ago a number of building workers were out of work. Plenty of timber and steel and other materials were available for building construction. I do not want officers of any department to take this personally, but I believe that government departments should be run like a commercial enterprise. If the money is not available to construct buildings the Government has the perfect answer, but this is one of the worst business deals that has come to my attention. I have had some experience of running an undertaking spending well over £100;000 a year. If I ran a business as this is run 1 would go broke and I would not want to do that. All I ask the Government to do is to act as an ordinary business man would do.
I looked at the question, of government buildings in 1946 for the Victorian Government. There is enough room in Treasury Place, Melbourne, for the construction of modern buildings for both Commonwealth and State offices. Since the land is available I do not think it is good business from a national point of view to pay out each year such a large amount in rent.
– I direct my remarks to Division No. 422- Forestry. 1 have in my hand the Statement of Forest Resources Production and Trade in Forest Products for 1961. I refer particularly to the quantity of softwood plantations in Australia. The statistics show that in government forests in South Australia there were 107,900 acres of pinus radiata, and this is by far the largest area of this timber in any State. This brings me to one of the big problems in South Australia. I refer to the disposal of this timber now that it is in a state of growth at least ready for disposal as. pulp. At page 64 of the statement, in table 33, the value of Australian imports of forest products is shown. The following statement appears in the document I have mentioned: - .
Table 33 summarizes information on the value of forest products imported into Australia. There are very few of the items imported which could not be produced efficiently and cheaply in Australia provided we had sufficient forest resources. State Forestry Departments are not able, on the finance available to them, to do much more than maintain the present forest resource at its existing production level.
The table shows that in 1961 the value of wood and wicker imports was more than ?14,000,000, while the value of imports of wood pulp, paper and other such products amounted to more than ?42,000,000. According to the Forestry and Timber Bureau, those commodities could be produced in Australia. There is a very large outgoing of our exchange on the .importation of wood pulp, paper and other timber products. 1 am wondering whether steps are being taken at the Government level to see that our requirements of wood pulp are met from Australian resources. I believe that in South Australia, with its very large acreage of radiata pine, something could be done in that connexion. I know that the Premier of South Australia has visited Canada for the purpose of discussing various matters, but I should like to know whether the Commonwealth Department of Trade, which handles our overseas trade and commerce, has considered the possibility of selling South Australian wood pulp overseas, or of producing wood pulp in South Australia for use in Australia. The expenditure of ?42,000,000 a year, to which I have referred, is very high, having regard to the fact that, according to the- Forestry and Timber Bureau, the products that we import could be produced efficiently and cheaply in Australia, provided that we had sufficient forest resources. I should say that in South Australia there are sufficient forest resources for this purpose.
.- Senator Kennelly displayed a rather lively interest in the people who failed to vote in the recent byelection for the division of East Sydney. He asked whether .the Commonwealth Government would adhere to the letter of the law. As I understand it, people who fail to vote are asked for an explanation. Despite our desire to have every individual who is eligible to vote record a vote, it must be conceded that in some instances electors are simply not in a position to do so. Therefore, the right and proper thing to do is to ask them why they did not vote. If their reasons are fair, logical and acceptable, no action may be taken against them, but if they do not present good and sufficient reasons they are prosecuted. I assure the honorable senator that no exception will be made in the case of the East Sydney by-election, when a fairly large percentage of electors failed to vote.
Senator Kennelly also asked, why there had been no allocation of a considerable proportion of the space that will be made available for new occupants in the second stage of the Commonwealth centre in Melbourne. The second stage was designed for general office accommodation, including the. overflow from the expansion of activities of some of the. departments that are occupying the present building. Provision also was made for the Repatriation Department. I am informed that the Repatriation Department has had specific structural requirements which could not be met in the new building as it was designed. At this point of time there has been no firm allocation of the space that will be available, but I assure the honorable senator that it will not go unallotted in the near future.
The honorable senator made some rather caustic comment on the rents being paid by the Commonwealth for office accommodation in Melbourne. He suggested that the fantastic figure of £17,000,000 would be required to set off the rents being paid against interest earned. This is not a new argument at all. Who among us would not pay off his home or his property, or even his motor car, if he had the money to do so? No one has ever claimed that it would not be a worth-while proposition to do ‘ so as the honorable senator has suggested, but to listen to him one would think that this was a country with unlimited financial resources. I suggest that the honorable senator would be the first person to criticize a government which channelled its limited resources into fields which were confined to government administration. This Government, of course, acknowledges the economics of his argument, but it has to put first things first and to use its resources in such a way that they may make the greatest contribution to the development of Australia and the employment of its people. With great respect, 1 do not think it could be argued for a moment that government buildings add anything to the productivity of a nation. Therefore, we shall take the criticism at this stage and say that the policy we are pursuing is best in the nation’s interest.
Let us suppose that we had the finance to do as Senator Kennelly has suggested. There are limitations on manpower and materials. Should we divert an extraordinary proportion of our available materials to provide government buildings? Of course not. The Government acknowledges that it is desirable, as a long-term policy, for departments to get out of leased premises, but at the moment there is no alternative but to say that we shall build progressively, making quite sure that our activities in that field do not over-tax the financial resources of the country, or the available resources of manpower and materials.
– I wish to make a few comments on the East Sydney by-election. Might I suggest to the Minister that if the Government proposes to prosecute the 9,000 nonvoters, it should do so before 30th November? I think that the Government is responsible for the fact that 9,000 people did not vote. In the first place, the Liberal Party did not run a candidate. The whole campaign was left to the Australian Labour Party. I think there were four candidates beside the Labour Party candidate-
– -Order! The honorable senator is getting away from the estimates before the committee.
– Might I suggest that if the Government had spent money in advertising the fact that a by-election was to be held in East Sydney, the 9,000 people who did not vote might have gone to the polling booths. The Labour Party candidate was elected virtually unopposed. The Liberal Party probably considered that its candidate would “not have a good chance. It therefore decided not to nominate a’ candidate.
– The situation has not changed.
– No. The other candidates did not indulge in much publicity, so that the whole matter was left to the Labour Party. My idea is that the Commonwealth Electoral Branch ought to spend money in publicizing the fact that a by-election is to be held. If it is left to one political party to publicize the fact, the result is bad. That is what happened in the division of East Sydney. It would be quite wrong to fine the electors of East Sydney who did not vote at the last byelection, because they did not know the election was to be held. The election was over before they really knew anything about it. For 9,000 electors out of approximately 36,000 not to cast a vote was not a bad result when you bear in mind that the A.L.P. was the only party which publicized the election.
I should like the Minister to indicate whether the Electoral Branch is responsible for ensuring that people are enrolled. There was a time when a policeman was given the task of enrolling people in a certain area. The fact that a policeman might call and ask people why their names did not appear on the roll and give them seven days to enrol had the effect of their ensuring that they were enrolled. As far I know, the Electoral Branch does very little to notify people that they must enrol. A rather disturbing report was received about three months ago in the State division of Bligh. We received information that there were 4,000 more residents in the district than the number of people who were enrolled. The suggestion was made that it was the responsibility of the political parties to see that people were enrolled. I think it is the responsibility of the electoral offices. If we are to have a democratic system of government and democratic elections, I do not think that any government, whether it be a Labour or a Libera] government, should be able to evade responsibility for ensuring that people are enrolled. I should like to hear the Minister’s comments on that matter.
I refer now to Division No. 240 - Bureau of Meteorology, for which the proposed expenditure will be £2,196,000. I assume that this division covers the Government’s weather stations and that the information which is supplied to television and radio stations emanates from this department. I have often wondered whether the television stations which sell 5-minute weather sessions for big money - they are the dearest advertising spots on the average programme - recompense the Government in any way for the service that is given by the Bureau of Meteorology. This is a means of raising revenue which the Government ought to exploit. A principle is involved. No government department or advisory service ought to be able to sell to a publicity organization or a medium like a television station information which it can in turn sell to sponsors at a profit. I do not see why television stations should be allowed to use these services without paying something for them.
Senator o’byrne (Tasmania) [8.55].- I relate my remarks to Division No. 239 - Electoral Branch, the proposed, appropria tion for which in 1963-64 is £867,500. Do these estimates make provision for the snap election which will be held at the end of November? If they do not, where will the money come from that will be needed to pay for it? Where will the money come from to pay for another election next year? Are the estimates so elastic that the Government can find £400,000 or £500,000 to pay for an election without making special provision for it? What is the accounting procedure which makes it possible for the Government suddenly to decide that this money can be expended? Is there a little kitty or a piggy bank which is available to the Department of the Interior or the Department of Treasury from which suddenly can be found the requisite amount? 1 note that provision has been made for £506,000 for the payment of salaries and allowances, for a sum of £235,000 for the administration of the Commonwealth Electoral Act, and for a sum of £22,400 for temporary and casual employees. Do those sums cover the extra presiding officers and clerks who will man the polling booths or who will be otherwise associated with the election? It seems to me that there must be some elasticity in the financing of the Electoral Branch. As I said earlier, provision is made for the expenditure of £867,500, but there is no reference in the estimates to the election we are now facing. Somebody will have to pay the bills. Where will the money suddenly come from?
– I must express regret to Senator Laught for not having referred earlier to the points he raised in relation to pine forests and the paper pulp market in which he is vitally interested as a South Australian. I am sorry that I cannot give an adequate answer to his queries. More is involved than the administration of the Department of the Interior. The Department of Trade has a lot to do with the matter. I shall have an examination made of the points raised by the honorable senator and get him as much information as I can.
Senator Ormonde expressed a viewpoint which was rather contrary to that expressed by the Deputy Leader of the
Opposition (Senator Kennelly), when he urged the Government not to take action against certain persons who did not vote and when he suggested that, if we intended to take action, we should do so before 30th November so that Labour’s cause might be helped. It is rather novel to find in the National Parliament people who are brave enough to rise in their places and advocate some line of action which is designed obviously to help their causes in a specific area. The honorable senator suggested that very little interest in the East Sydney by-election was displayed by honorable senators on this side of the chamber. He said that the Government did not nominate a candidate. Further, he said that the Government had an obligation to advertise the holding of the by-election. I am afraid that if on that occasion the Government had done as he suggested, its actions would have been misunderstood. If there were a by-election in a blue-ribbon Liberal or Country Party seat and the Government took it upon itself to publicize the by-election - to make it known to all and sundry that it was to be held on such and such a date - I suggest that my friend and members of the Opposition would be the first to chide the Government for spending public money in its own interests. I do not think that Senator Ormonde is sincere when he suggests that the Government has an obligation to publicize an ciec1 ion. When so many great issues are at stake, surely any political party which contends it has a prior claim on a seat has an obligation to propagate its policy to all who may be interested in casting an intelligent vote. The same principle applies in every electorate. I think it is the responsibility of a political party to try to get its story, or the philosophy to which it adheres, across to the people and to try to generate the enthusiasm of the people and thus try to obtain a 100 per cent. vote.
Senator Ormonde sought information about the Bureau of Meteorology and asked whether payments were received from television stations. Payments are received from television stations. The amount is not very large, but last year £5,000 was received in payment for the information supplied by the bureau to television stations.
Senator O’Byrne suggested, rather facetiously, that the Government is pulling some £500,000 out of the hat to hold a snap election. I think he was trying me out in an attempt to discover whether, in fact, there was prior knowledge that an election would be held at the end of this year, because if that were the case he would expect to find some provision in the estimates to cover the cost of ah election.
– That is not what I asked. I asked where the Government is going to get the money from.
– I can assure the honorable senator that there was no thought of an election when the estimates were drawn up. Following a custom that has been adopted by all governments, both Commonwealth and State, adequate provision can be made for an election when required
– Where does the money come from?
– Out of petty cash.
– Senator Ormonde suggests that it comes out of petty cash. There are ways and means of meeting this expenditure by an advance from the Treasury. When the additional estimates are drawn up in March, 1964, provision will be made to cover the cost of the election that is to be held on 30th November. T can assure the honorable senator that this Government is not breaking any new ground in making provision for the election on that basis. That has been the accepted policy and the principle that has been followed by all governments.
– That means that we cannot believe what we see in the estimates. The Government has balanced its Budget and made provision to appropriate funds for its proposed expenditure, and yet it can find £500,000 out of the blue.
– That statement is completely out of character, coming from Senator O’Byrne. He knows as well as I do that the estimates that are drawn up and presented to this Parliament are drawn up by officers of the several departments, and that those officers would bc the last in the world to present to the Parliament figures that were not correct. I suggest to the honorable senator that had he thought about what he was saying he would not have made a remark that carries the implication that that remark carries.
– There should be a contingency provision for an election costing £500,000, but there is no mention of any amount in the estimates.
– There is no need to have a contingency provision for an election. If we had had such a provision each year honorable senators opposite would never sleep knowing that an election was being held over their heads any tick of the clock. At least for humanitarian reasons let us stick to the method that has proved so successful down the years.
Senator O’Byrne sought information also about the provision of £22,400 for temporary employees. The higher allocation is due to an increase in staff to fill vacant posts and an increased provision for furlough.
.- The Minister for Health (Senator Wade) said that my question to him was facetious. It was a very serious question. The committee has before it at the present time the proposed expenditure for this year. It is obvious that the taxpayers, the Department of the Treasury and the Department of the Interior are to be involved in considerable expenditure that was not expected when these estimates were drawn up. I have asked the Minister, in all seriousness, how provision can be made for the payment of the expenses associated with a federal general election. He said that an advance can be made from the Treasury. Should not there be some mention of this contingency or reserve fund that is available for some special purpose? If a great disaster occurred, such as a bush fire, a devastating flood, an earthquake, a volcanic eruption or a tidal wave, emergency funds would be forthcoming and help would be given. One would think that in view of the new situation some move would be made by the Department of the Interior, the Treasury or an appropriate department to amend the present estimates. An amendment should be moved in this committee asking the Parliament to approve the extra £400,000 or £500,000 for the newly-arisen circumstance of an election which has suddenly become desirable.
The Minister said by implication that I was attacking the integrity and honesty of the departmental officers. That was farthest from my thoughts. The departmental officers were probably just as much in the dark as other people throughout Australia, and as the Ministers themselves - as far as I can gather - about what the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) had in mind. It was his prerogative to make the decision. He is the leader of the nation; he is the Prime Minister, and he exercised his prerogative to the fullest extent. He used the element of surprise. He withheld the information that was available to him, although it has been said that he warned the Australian Democratic Labour Party that it should prepare six months ahead for an election. Whether or not that was just a newspaper rumour I do not know. If the information was available to the Democratic Labour Party it should have been available to the officers of the Department of the Interior so that they could provide for the necessary expenditure. I think I am within my rights in raising this matter and in asking why the estimates are not to be amended in order to preserve a true and faithful record and to amend the bookkeeping of the Department of the Interior in respect of Division No. 239 - Electoral Branch, sub-division 2, item 05j Administrations- of -the Commonwealth Electoral Act. There should be ah item to cover incidental expenses associated with the forthcoming election.
We have been presented with a series of documents which purport to be the estimates for the year ended 30th June, 1964. However, an obvious item of expenditure in the vicinity of £400,000 to £500,000 has not been mentioned. It has been completely by-passed in the estimates and there has been no move b’y the Government to amend the estimates in view of the changed circumstances. I am beginning to wonder what has been served up to the Senate and to another place. How reliable are these figures when a large amount has been completely overlooked?
The Minister has tried to brush this off by suggesting that I am being facetious, but I am not; I am directing attention to a very important matter. We are spending hours of our time discussing the expenditure of more Jan £2,000,000,000, The Minister takes the view that a mere £500,000 is neither here nor there and that that expenditure can be met by an advance by the Treasurer. If that principle were adopted in the Prime Minister’s Department, the Department of Health, the Department of Civil Aviation or in any other department, the responsible officers would not need to give a true and faithful estimate of proposed expenditure. If they were inaccurate in their estimate and ran short of chips they could get an advance from the Treasurer. My experience has been that it is much more difficult than that to get money from the Treasury. Usually officers of the Treasury cannot be convinced that you can squeeze blood from a stone. Evidently on this occasion they are amenable, despite the seriousness of the situation, and can find the funds that are not provided for in the estimates.
This is a matter upon which the searchlight of criticism add inspection should be turned. The figures that have been submitted are not correct in the light of the changed circumstances. I submit that the Minister is duty bound to take some action to put these figures right and to add to this proposed vote an estimate of. the expenditure on the election to which we are about to commit ourselves.
– Because Senator O’Byrne, who is generally a very placid fellow, seems to be so agitated about the coming election, I rise immediately in an endeavour to set his mind at ease. I can do so with respect to the propriety of the Government’s action financially, but I am afraid I cannot set his mind at ease on what the verdict of the people might be on 30th November.
We will have to arrange for the financing of the election. The honorable senator suggested that it would be proper to amend one of the estimates to make provision for the expenditure which will be involved. He was not prepared to accept my assurance that an advance would be obtained from the Treasury, following usual procedure, and that when the additional estimates were presented that advance would be repaid. I present to the honorable senator documentation that is readily available to him in support of the case I have made. 1 invite him to turn his attention to page 37 of the estimates relating to the Department of the Treasury. If he will look at Division No. 209 - Advance to the Treasurer - he will see that a sum of £16,000,000 is appropriated for this purpose -
To enable the Treasurer to make advances which will be recovered within the financial year; and to make moneys available to meet expenditure, particulars of which will afterwards be submitted to Parliament, or pending the issue of a warrant of the Governor-General specifically applicable to the expenditure.
I suggest to the honorable senator that if he pauses on the operative words in that citation, which read, “ will afterwards be submitted to Parliament “, he has the complete answer.
– Does that mean that the election will cost £16,000,000?
– No, it does not mean that the election will cost £16,000,000. I remind the committee that that is the sum that has been set aside for the last ten, twelve or fourteen years.. That £16,000,000 is available to enable the Treasurer to make advances. I remind the honorable senator that the importance of the reference to Parliament is that any advances that are taken from the Treasury must be repaid within the financial year and must receive the approval of Parliament. I suggest to the honorable senator again that the procedure that is being adopted on this occasion is one that has been followed by this Government on previous occasions, and it is one that has been followed by governments since federation. I have never yet heard any valid criticism of a system that has been accepted for so long.
Senator Sir WALTER COOPER (Queensland) [9.16].- I refer to Division No. 251 - Administrative, sub-division 2 - Administrative Expenses - item 15, Fees of private architects and consultants. The estimate for this year under this item is £650,000; the expenditure last year was £515,953. I should like the Minister to inform me whether the architects and consultants referred to in this item are additional to those employed by the Department of the Interior. Are these men brought in for special work, or something of that kind?
.- This vote is for the Department of Works. The increase proposed for this year is in line with the expanded activities of the department. There will be an increase of about £135,000 in the expenditure this year, but that is in line with the accelerated building programmes of the various departments.
Senator laught (South Australia) [9.18]. - I refer to Division No. 687 - Department of the Interior, item 03, “War graves - Construction, care and maintenance, £290,400”. I refer also to item 04, “Australia war memorials - Erection, restoration and maintenance, £2,500”. It has been my lot to move through certain areas in South-East Asia where a number of Australian servicemen are buried. I should like to say how impressed I have been at the excellence of the war memorials and the great care with which the graves have been tended. I should like the Minister to inform me how the allotment of money is arrived at for a place such as Singapore, where a beautiful war cemetery overlooks the Strait of Johore. Soldiers from all parts of the Commonwealth are buried in that cemetery. What portion of the sum of money mentioned in the estimates is used for the upkeep of that cemetery, and on what basis is it allotted? Nationals from other countries are also buried there. I understand that the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, which is a British Commonwealth institution, is responsible for the management of that cemetery. I should be very interested to know how the Australian proportion of the cost is arrived at. There is a magnificent cemetery at Lae. Certainly, most of those who are buried there were Australian servicemen but there is a most impressive section where Indian servicemen are buried. I should like to know how the allotment for the Lae cemetery is arrived at. It is most fitting that the Commonwealth, nearly twenty years after the war, should be most assiduous in seeing that the war graves are properly cared for and maintained. It would be of very great interest to me to have details of this proposed expenditure by the Department of the Interior.
Senator wade (Victoria - Minister for Health) [9.21].- I am sorry that I cannot give Senator Laught details of the expenditure on the various cemeteries to which he has referred. A sum of money is allocated for what, I think, is known as the South Pacific area, which includes Australia. The Government’s approach to this matter, which I believe to be the correct one, is along these lines: A standard of care and attention is observed which does not take second place to the standard observed in this field by the government of any other country. The department prepares its budget with the objective of maintaining that standard, regardless of what it costs. I think that that policy would meet with the support of all the people in this country who have loved ones in these cemeteries. I shall bring Senator Laught’s tribute to the way in which these cemeteries have been maintained to the attention of the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth). I think it proper that the honorable senator’s remarks should be conveyed to the people who do wonderful work in the war cemeteries at Lae and other South Pacific areas. The intrinsic beauty of these places must be a source of great comfort to the people of this and other countries who have their friends and relatives buried there.
– I wish to return to the matter raised by Senator O’Byrne in relation to Division No. 239, Electoral Branch. As has been mentioned, no provision has been made in this division for expenditure on the election which is to be held on 30th November and which has been estimated to cost between £400,000 and £500,000. In reply to previous remarks on the subject, the Minister said that provision for expenditure on the forthcoming election would be made from Division No. 209 - Advance to the Treasurer. He said that that was “the usual practice. Does the Minister suggest that in a year in which, under the Constitution, an election must be held no specific provision is made for expenditure on that election? Does the Minister suggest that it is in accordance with proper constitutional practice that when it is known, while the estimates are before the Parliament, that certain expenditure will be necessary, no specific provision need be made for that expenditure? Surely the constitutional practice is that when it is known that expenditure will be required for a specific purpose, such as the forthcoming election, special provision is made for that expenditure in the estimates. It is quite wrong that when an expenditure such as this can be anticipated it should be covered by some general item such as the Minister has suggested. Is there any reason why the estimates cannot be amended so that the requirements of the Constitution can be met before the relevant appropriation is made? If the principle is allowed to creep in that the Advance to the Treasurer may be used for expenditures which can be anticipated while the estimates are before the. Parliament then the effectiveness of the scrutiny of the estimates by Parliament will be reduced. It will then be possible to include all sorts of expenditure in the general advance to the Treasurer of £16,000,000 when they should not be so included. If it is known, when the estimates are before the committee, that expenditure will be required specific provision should be made for that expenditure in the estimates, and not in a general advance.
.- Let me put my learned friend’s mind at ease. He has expressed great concern that we may be departing from the requirements of the Constitution. Of course provision for expenditure on an election is made in the estimates when it is known that the election must be held. However, if any one wanted proof that there was no knowledge of a pending election when the estimates were prepared it is here.
– I am not concerned with that in the slightest.
– Of course not. Apparently you are concerned because you thought I implied that provision is never made specifically in the estimates for electoral expenses.
– No. My concern is that specific provision was not made although it was known that an election would be held and would cost a considerable amount of money.
– How the estimates could be back-dated, I do not know. These estimates were prepared before, and presented to Parliament on, 12th August.
– That is why I suggest they should be amended. .
– Would you allow me to make my speech? I had presumed that you sought information but you appear to be trying to give me information. 1 am prepared to listen if you do not expect me to answer you. But if you want to know the usual procedure, I shall do my best, with all my limitations, to make it known to you. I repeat that provision for electoral expenses is made in the estimates when it is known that an election is pending. That is right and proper and it has been the custom for generations. When it is not known or announced1 that an election will be held until after the estimates have been prepared and the Budget has been presented, the usual procedure is to meet the necessary expenditure from Advance to the Treasurer. With great respect, I say that never before have I heard any learned gentleman say that there is any valid reason for challenging that procedure.
.- I also wish to refer to Division No. 239, Electoral Branch. I should like to know whether any provision has been made for any extra allowance to be paid’ to thi,se officers who work for the department on election day. .In previous elections very skilled officers have been engaged for this class of work. Many of them are returned soldiers who are very responsible gentlemen and who hold very responsible positions. The rate of pay that they receive is not equivalent to the basic wage. An officer who receives about £5 for a day’s work of between thirteen and fifteen hours, for example, is receiving far less than the equivalent of the basic wage. This is only casual work. In any industry, payment for casual work is made at penalty rates which are far above the basic wage. In the past, these responsible officers have not been receiving payment equivalent to the basic wage. Since the last election, representations, have been made to the Government by myself and others. We have directed the Minister’s attention to this anomaly. I should like to know whether the Minister has included in the estimates any provision for extra payment for’ the under-paid staff, including presiding officers, who have been conducting elections.
– Fees paid to election officials are regularly reviewed and a submission for increases is made to the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth). The amount payable should be regarded not as a salary but rather as a fee for the service. I cannot give the honorable senator any further information. I know that that does not answer his question. I cannot say whether these persons receive the equivalent of the basic wage. I shall, find out and let the honorable senator know. I have heard this matter raised previously, I think both inside and outside the chamber, but I am not as well informed on it as I should be.
– Has any review been made since the last election and has increased provision been made in these estimates for higher payments to returning officers and poll clerks?
Proposed expenditures noted.
Proposed expenditures - Department of Shipping and Transport, £12,139,000; Department of Shipping and Transport - Capital Works and Services, £9,087,000; Department of Trade, £4,792,000; Department of Trade - Capital Works and Services, £89,000; Department of Primary Industry, £16,930,000; Department of Primary Industry - Capital Works and Services, £6,000; Department of Primary Industry - War and Repatriation Services - Establishment of Ex-servicemen in Agricultural Occupations, £1,000,000; Department of Territories, £664,000; Department of Territories - Capital Works and Services, £13,000; Northern Territory, £10,119,000; Northern Territory - Capital Works and Services, £8,586,000- noted.
Proposed expenditure, £6,364,000.
Proposed expenditure, £18,356,000.
.- I refer to Division No. 766, sub-division 1 - Salaries and Payments in the nature of Salary, for which an appropriation of £310,500 is proposed. I refer also to subdivision 4 - General Services. I direct particular attention to the development of land in Canberra for the building of homes for public servants who are transferred from State capitals under the general programme of centralization of Public Service activity. Consideration ought to be given to expansion of the activities of the Department of the Interior by the provision of more surveyors, architects and planners to overcome the obvious lag in making land available for auction or for allocation. Very keen competition is being artificially created, with a great number of persons seeking building sites and insufficient blocks of land being made available to meet the demand. As a consequence, inflated prices are being paid for land. Those public servants who come to Canberra under the centralization plan have to bear those costs over the rest of their lives. This will go down as one of the great scandals of the otherwise glorious story of Canberra’s development.
The concept of the city was one of great vision. The great qualities of creators are evident in the design and in the work that has been carried out by architects, planners, and those responsible for the planning of avenues. The whole concept of Canberra is cause for great pride.
Unfortunately the seamy side of Canberra is becoming more obvious in this stage of the city’s development. For some unexplained reason the Department of the Interior is allowing false values to be built up and maintained. The situation is becoming worse. In some of the more, desirable suburbs such as Campbell blocks of land will bring as much as £3,000 at auction. I know that kerbing and guttering of high standard have been constructed but something more is needed to explain these high prices. Only a few years ago rabbits were running over the land. They have disappeared, but the land itself has suddenly become expensive. Commercialism has entered into the picture in Canberra.
It is known that the population of Canberra will reach 100,000 by 1969, on a conservative estimate. Yet the number of blocks of land made available is not enough to break down the competition that is creating fictitious values for land in the outer suburbs of Canberra. A heavy burden is being placed on the person seeking land who, because of government policy, is obliged to establish his home in
Canberra. Many public servants would have been quite happy to- stay in another city with their friends and relatives, but they have come to Canberra for the nation’s good to participate in the programme of centralization of government activities. These people should be given concessions instead of being penalized. . I want to record my disapproval of the virtual racket which is being perpetuated and under which , land which was bought by thousands of acres at a minimum price is now sold at inflated prices because of the Government’s belief that a balance would be achieved through the law of supply and demand. ‘
The Government is entirely responsible for the supply of land in Canberra. No one else can make it available, because nobody else owns land here and nobody has authority to allocate it. Now that that stage has been reached, the dealers in real estate, the spec, builders and others are trying to get the biggest margin they can from people on fixed salaries. The. buyers cannot get into the rat race. They cannot make the biggest profit in the shortest time. They cannot, like the real estate dealers, get as much as they can while the feast is on. The people who are expected to pay these high prices are on fixed minimum salaries. Tribunals have worked it out that certain minimum standards must bc maintained, and trying to get salary increases for various sections of the Public Service is like trying to get blood out of a stone.’ On the one hand we have a ‘ group of conscientious, dedicated men who find themselves over a barrel. It is a reflection on government policy that people coming to Canberra to live have to pay exorbitant prices for land.
The National Capital Development Commission has a blueprint for the development of the outer suburbs,’ but it can only do what government policy permits. The preparation of new suburbs must be speeded up to lessen the fierce competition for land which has been artificially, created and is placing a burden on those who want land in Canberra.
.- Senator O’Byrne has expressed himself generally on policy matters. He asks for the appointment of more sur veyors, architects and planners “ and has suggested that more land be made available in Canberra for land seekers. The National Capita] Development Commission is responsible for the development of Canberra, and a great deal of planning has been done in this field. I am not sure whether Senator O’Byrne suggested that Canberra was expanding at a faster pace than the planners had expected. That might be the burden of his complaint. But having regard to the finances available and the resources that can be channelled into this field, the commission is making a pretty good showing of developing the national capital. Future generations, will say that this Government has met the situation adequately. I am sure there is sufficient evidence to show that the commission is making a splendid contribution to the orderly development of Canberra.
– In connexion with the estimates for the Australian Capital Territory, 1 should like the Minister to explain why land in the Territory should be so expensive. Why should it cost £3,000 to purchase the lease of a building block in some areas of Canberra? Only in the most exclusive suburbs in other capital cities of the Commonwealth does the cost of building blocks approach that figure.
Senator WADE (Victoria - Minister for Health) 19.51].- Senator O’Byrne has asked why the cost of land in Canberra is exorbitant in comparison with that in other capital cities df the Commonwealth. I am not in a position to expound on this matter with great authority, but I inform him that in provincial towns with which I am acquainted building blocks are dearer than they are in Canberra. In some instances, they cost £10,000 or £15,000. I think that Canberra is a beautiful place in which to live. The standard of housing, by and large, is second to none in Australia. The provision of amenities seems to be following the settlement of areas with a minimum of delay. I suggest that the cost of land in Canberra is related to the law of supply and demand. A young couple who wish to set up a home in Canberra may do so at no greater cost than in other capital cities and provincial towns.
Proposed expenditures noted.
Proposed expenditure, £37,700.
Proposed expenditure, £25,477,200.
Proposed expenditure, £108.000.
Proposed expenditure, £46,000.
Proposed expenditure, £3,000.
Proposed expenditure, £100.
Senator Sir WALTER COOPER (Queensland) [9.52]. - I refer to the estimates for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea and particularly to the item in Division No. 991 which relates to the advance to the Administration for loans to exservicemen engaged in agricultural enterprises. I notice that last year the expenditure was £647,500 and that this year only £374,000 is being provided. Does this mean that most of the eligible exservicemen in the Territory have been granted the assistance they require? Will the Minister state the type of agricultural enterprises in which the ex-servicemen concerned are engaged?
– A credit scheme for ex-servicemen settlers in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea was commenced on 6th November, 1958. The scheme was introduced so that exservicemen who took up residence in the Territory after the Second World War might receive some of the settlement benefits available to ex-servicemen resident in Australia. The scheme has enabled credit to be made available to ex-servicemen settlers who were already occupying agricultural landholdings in the Territory or who obtained holdings through the normal method of application for land advertised as available for leasing.
Eligible ex-servicemen -are those who served in the Second World War and, since discharge, have resided in Papua and New Guinea for at least five years prior to, but not necessarily immediately prior to, the commencement of the scheme. Exservicemen with service in Korea and Malaya who have certain residential qualifications in Papua and New Guinea also are eligible. The maximum amount of loan granted under the scheme is £25,000. Loans may be made to eligible ex-servicemen for the purpose of providing working capital, paying for and effecting improvements’, acquiring stock, plant and equipment, and discharging any mortgage, charge, bill of sale or other encumbrance on the property. The borrower must reside on and undertake full management of his property.
Advances totalling £2,340,500 were made to the Administration by the Commonwealth in the five financial years ending in 1962-63. The period, for lodgment of applications for loans expired on 5th November, 1962. It is expected, however, that advances in respect of applications lodged prior to that date will continue for some time. The estimated cash requirements of the Administration for 1963-64 to meet drawings against approved loans are £374,000. The Budget appropriation to meet expected cash requirements in 1962-63 was £367,000. A larger number of new applications was received, particularly in the period, immediately prior to the closing date, than was provided for in the original estimate, with the result that additional funds of £280,500 were appropriated in the additional estimates for 1962-63, making a total of £647,500 for the year.
– Has the scheme been successful?
– I understand that the scheme is proving very successful and is greatly appreciated by ex-servicemen.
– Approximately six months ago I visited Port Moresby, in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. It was my first visit to the Territory and of course I was impressed with the buildings there and with the general administration. I thought that excellent provision was being made to build up the Public Service. First-class buildings were to be seen everywhere. I gained the impression that they were principally for the white population. I was there for only two days, but I was most ‘ impressed by what I saw. I was taken by one of the officers of the Administration to a rubber plantation where it appeared that 150 natives were employed. I was given to understand that that they received about 25s. a week and their keep. One white man and his wife were running the property, with, as I said, the assistance of approximately 150 natives. As far as I could ascertain, those natives were quite capable of producing rubber from the time of planting the trees. 1 watched them milk the trees of rubber, take it to the central position on the property where it is put through the various processes, and produce sheet rubber ready to go down to the Goodyear factory and similar factories in Australia where it would be manufactured into tires and other goods. As far as I could see, no white hand touched that rubber before it left the plantation. I do not think there was even a white foreman; the foremen were natives.
This is my point: Why could the Government not develop a co-operative for the natives so that they could have their own plantations and produce their own rubber for the market? I believe that would do more than anything else to help Australia to hold New Guinea or to keep out any Asians who might set envious eyes on the Territory. Perhaps the Government has experimented with such a system but it has not succeeded because the natives, although they are able to produce rubber, are not capable managers. The Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) obviously has done a good job, but when I was in New Guinea I thought there was a great lack in the direction I have indicated. Most of the natives to whom I spoke took an intelligent interest in their work and they even suggested that they would like to work their own areas. I believe that, if the Government engaged in co-operative experiments, it would do a lot to help inter-territory relations, if I may so describe them. I should like the Minister to comment on the points I have raised.
I should also like him to indicate why the road system within New Guinea has not been developed. I attended a street market where natives sold their produce. 1 was interested to learn that it took them as long as a week or a fortnight to come
40 or 50 miles down the coast. By the time they arrived at the market place they had not any money and their produce was not as good as when they left the farms. They travelled in watercraft of various descriptions.
– Yes. They spent about a fortnight at the market place; it was more or less a picnic for them. Then they returned to their living areas without any money and without further income. It seemed to me to be a repetitive process and that there was nothing in it for the natives. They told me that if they had roads to travel on they naturally would travel by that means and would get from their farms to the market place in much quicker time. Generally, the natives of New Guinea - I am speaking about the working natives, not those who have been more or less seconded by the whites and are working in close proximity to the whites - feel that they are being largely exploited by the white race. I think some government ought to attempt a reform in this direction. I saw no evidence anywhere of such an attempt. I should like the Minister to give me his views on the matter. . i
– I very sincerely regret that during his visit to New Guinea Senator Ormonde saw no move towards encouraging the indigene to set up in a business of his own, particularly in an agricultural business. I express my extreme sorrow at the fact that Senator Ormonde should have taken away that impression. He referred to rubber plantations.
– I was referring principally to rubber plantations.
– Yes. The honorable senator asked what was being done to encourage the indigenes to take over rubber plantations. Historically, rubber plantations have been developed and maintained by companies. This is a big money industry in New Guinea; it is the biggest money industry of all the land industries. There is a very severe limitation of the practicability of indigenes breaking into > that industry.
The advance of indigenes in other industries has been quite spectacular. I am sure that upon reflection the honorable senator will recall some of the native co-operatives that he saw. Natives actually work their own coffee and cocoa holdings. They are not left to do that by themselves but are greatly encouraged by the Administration. Indeed, the Administration undertakes the training of indigenes in agriculture. I am informed that the training of selected indigene farmers is being conducted at the agricultural extension training stations and agricultural extension centres. The present intake of farmer trainees is nearly 1,000 per annum. Tt is proposed to increase the number to J. 500 by 1966-67. Small-scale demonstrations for the benefit of indigenous farmers are conducted at these centres in addition to the training courses. There are eleven agricultural extension training stations, and provision has been made in the five-year programme to increase the number of stations to sixteen in three years’ time. I believe it is fair to say that those facts indicate not only a very considerable interest on the part of the Administration in indigene advancement but also an active and vigorous programme to ensure that advancement.
The honorable senator asked what was being done about roads. Remarkable developments have occurred over the last few years. As a regular visitor to New Guinea for many years I can recall the time when there were virtually no roads al all. In 1952 or 1953 the construction of what was then regarded as one of the major road-making undertakings in New Guinea took place. I. refer to the Markham road, and also the Markham bridge which was constructed about that time. Since then road construction has continued unabated.
I am naturally interested in transport in New Guinea. I was in the Territory as recently as a few months ago and discussed with the Administrator and his officers certain road-making projects which were then in hand. The honorable senator will, no doubt, have heard of the road which is being pushed out to the southern highlands at Mount Hagen. Those who are interested in New Guinea believe that this’ ‘road ‘ will have a significant effect upon the whole pattern of efficient transport in this vast country.
To give an indication in money terms of what is being- done in connexion with roads, new road works to be commenced in 1963-64 are estimated to cost not less than £1,537,000. The estimated road expenditure in 1963-64 will be £464,860. I suggest that that indicates a very active interest in the problem of bringing road transport to a country which for so long has depended almost exclusively on air transport. This is a very interesting development. As the economy of New Guinea develops transport costs are beginning to reflect themselves in a way that does not help the economy. As production is achieved at points further from the coast air transport costs become prohibitive. The honorable senator will follow me, I am sure, if I give an exaggerated illustration. It would be entirely uneconomic to lift the wheat harvest from the Mallee by air. As extensions are taking place in New Guinea, so the road programme is being pushed forward. If I bad some notes with me that I took during ray recent visit - had I expected the honorable senator’s question I would have brought them with mc - I could let the honorable senator have some figures in relation to expenditure and mileages which I collected when 1 was in New Guinea last January and February.
– I refer to Division No. 786, item 03, which relates to the International Bank Mission - 1963. We have been interested to read in the press, and to hear from the Government, that an International Bank mission is to visit New Guinea for the purpose of discovering whether the bank should make money available for development. Ever since I have been in this Parliament expenditure on this Territory has been steadily increasing. Without doubt this has caused a considerable drain on the financial resources of the Commonwealth. I do not regret the spending of that money, because it is part of Australia’s responsibility to do so. However, considering the interest, that has been displayed by the’ United Nations in the self-government of the Territory, the International Bank - an agency of the United Nations interested in the development of under-developed areas - should, at least, provide some of the funds required for the development of New Guinea. I was very pleased to learn that this visit was to take place. I hope it will result in some contribution from the International Bank to assist in the development of an area that can be classed as undeveloped.
A sum of £40,000 is being appropriated this year to cover the visit of this mission. I should like to ask the Minister whether Australia has made itself responsible to provide this £40,000. without any compulsion from the United Nations, or whether this is something that Australia is expected to provide. We know that from time to time the keenest interest has been evinced by the United Nations, through its Trusteeship council, in territories such as New Guinea. A great deal of international attention has been focussed on New Guinea. Some of us have thought that
When an organization displays such an enormous interest in the welfare of a country as the United Nations has done regarding New Guinea it should make some contribution towards the development of that country. New Guinea has been administered by Australia for many years now, but the United Nations has an obligation to provide some assistance.
A mission such as is proposed should be financed from the funds of the United Nations. I admit that the amount we are appropriating is a sum that we can well afford, particularly if it will bring into focus the needs of New Guinea. However, I should like the Minister to inform the Senate whether or not there has been any compulsion upon the Australian Government to meet the expenses of the visit of the United Nations mission. Is this a responsibility that Australia should bear? I believe that the visit of the mission is a step in the right direction, but I should like to know whether Australia is voluntarily providing this £40,000 to finance the visit.
– During his speech Senator Hannaford once or twice referred, mistakenly, to a United Nations mission. 0-The item does not refer to a United Nations mission, but to an International Bank mission. The honorable senator referred to the responsibility of the United Nations to New Guinea. As the honorable senator well knows, because of his close association with the Territory, New Guinea is not a United Nations responsibility; it is an Australian trust territory. In this case the International Bank, at the request of the Government, has undertaken an economic survey of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, the idea being that from the wealth of the bank’s experience in conducting this sort of survey in respect of many other underdeveloped countries it could provide from its expertise advice to the Government on how best to expand and develop the economy of the Territory.
At the moment the Territory of Papua and New Guinea does not have a viable economy. Unfortunately, most of its produce is heavily influenced and varied by international agreement. I refer particularly to coffee and crops of that nature. Oil, which might well have proved to be a source of income, and which could have been the basis of development of the Territory, has not materialized. The whole point of the International Bank survey conducted by a team of experts with experience of this type in other parts of the world is to advise the Government as to its policy and what alterations may, with advantage, be effected in that policy over the entire scope of economic activity.
– When is the report expected?
– The mission left New Guinea six or seven weeks ago and has now returned to the International Bank where its members are in the process of drawing up their report. I believe that it is the intention of the chairman and some of his men to return to New Guinea. I understand that the report is expected to be in the hands of the Government early in the new year. The £40,000 provided was to meet the local costs of the mission. I understand that the head office and executive costs of the mission have been met by the International Bank.
Proposed expenditures noted. .
Proposed expenditure, £8,986,000.
Proposed expenditure, £178,000.
Proposed expenditure, £16,000.
.- J refer to the vote proposed for the Department of Social Services. I am anxious to get information as to the expenditure during the last year for widows’ pensions paid to deserted wives. I should like the Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner) to inform the committee upon this matter, at a convenient stage, before the estimates for this department are noted. I would welcome any information about the progress that has been made to implement legislation that will make more effective the enforcement of orders against defaulting husbands. Last year, the vote under this head was £3,900,000, and I hazard a suggestion that the expenditure is running at about the same rate this year.
I suggest that the Department of Social Services has an imperative duty to take advantage of information within the Government’s possession, particularly that contained in the electoral rolls, and use it for the purpose of identifying defaulters and enforcing orders. 1 feel also that it is possible to adapt legislation that has been passed in England and New Zealand -to enable the department, as an incidental matter, to recover from defaulting husbands the equivalent of widows’ pensions that have been granted to deserted wives. Further, I consider that we should make more effective our own legislation for the enforcement of court processes interstate under the Service and Execution of Process Act.
I know that the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) entertains the view that the States enact more effective reciprocal legislation and that, by State action alone, this loss incurred by the Commonwealth department could be distributed among the defaulters by whom the moneys arc properly payable.
Senator Sir WILLIAM SPOONER (New South Wales - Vice-President of the
Executive Council and Minister for National Development) [10.27]. - Unfortunately, the information that has come to mc does not show separately the situation with regard to desterted wives. Under the terms of the Social Services Act, all deserted wives become classified as eligible for a widow’s pension. In the material supplied by the department I have only information relating to widows’ pensions. Officers of the department have told mc that Senator Wright recently addressed a question on this subject to either the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) or the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton). My information is that the question was answered and that the answer contains the information now sought. The officers arc endeavouring to get for me a copy of lbc answer to the question. I find it a little confusing when Senator Wright suggests that the question has not been answered. The only think I can do is undertake to get a copy of the question addressed to the Minister and make the information available to the honorable senator.
– I rise this year, as 1 did last year, to address to the committee some reninrks on homes for aged persons. 1 refer lo Division No. 364, subdivision 3 - Other Services - hem 03, for which the estimated expenditure is £3,700,000. I believe that last year I said I was grateful to the Government for making available this social service. However, while the Government is subsidizing homes for the aged to the extent of £2 for each £1 provided by an organization, I fail to see why it should give the money and then wash its hands of (he whole matter.
It is true that only approved organizations are eligible for the subsidy, but surely that is no reason for the Government to regard the payment of that sum as the beginning and end of its responsibility. That seems strange to me.
In view of the fact that the Commonwealth is providing a subsidy of £2 for £1 at least it should ascertain the class of people who are going into these bornes. Are they the most deserving cases in lbc district? I am not raising the question of which religious denominations are in charge of the homes because I believe that each * of them would do the right thing regardless of the religion of those who occupy the homes. But I am concerned at the fact that after this money has been given to an approved body no further interest in the homes is taken by the Commonwealth. i understand that certain approved bodies in the various States receive from elderly people some hundred’s of pounds in return for which those people are entitled to have a home for the rest of their lives. I know that the buildings have to be maintained, but has the Commonwealth laid down conditions with which these aged people must comply in order to be admitted to these homes? Has it laid down the condition, for example, that the most necessitous cases must be admitted first? I have said that this is a wonderful piece of social legislation. I suppose that responsible officers of the Commonwealth ensure that the money voted for this purpose goes only to approved societies. But having done that I do not think that the Commonwealth should not interest itself in ascertaining how the money is spent. It should continue to take an interest in the homes which are constructed and ascertain whether anybody has to pay money in order to live in them and, if so, what amount has to be paid. I realize that that the homes have to be maintained. But what happens if an aged person pays a certain amount to go into a home but lives for only three or four years? As we are dealing with Commonwealth money, we are entitled to know the answers to these questions.
I do not want to stop charitably disposed people from doing very good work, but I believe that the way in which the people’s money is used should be thoroughly examined. I do not know whether the charitable organizations, other than religious organizations, make any charge for these homes or not. Has the Minister found that they make a charge? I have not much doubt about the answer to that question. Is any sum laid down that has to be paid? What length of time will the money paid to the organization cover? In other words, if an old person who has paid money for a home unfortunately passes away, is the total amount that has been paid retained by the organization or is a certain amount repaid to those who benefit under the will of the deceased? The pre sent system seems to be a very loose method of spending money. My great objection is that no check is made to ascertain the results of the expenditure. Does the Commonwealth ascertain whether the people who are placed in these homes by organizations are the most necessitous cases in certain areas?
– I also wish to speak about the homes for the aged to which Senator Kennelly has referred. I am certain that the Minister will be able to answer the honorable senator. It surprises me that, in the present political climate, Senator Kennelly should stand up in this Senate at a time when proceedings are being broadcast and attempt to cast a slur on the greatest piece of social legislation that has been introduced into Australia for 20 years. I think it is wrong to suggest that these public spirited religious and other organizations which provide homes for the aged are not fair in their allotment of accommodation to the inmates. If Senator Kennelly were to visit a few of these homes in Victoria, as I have visited them in Tasmania, I think that he would find that those who live in them are very happy indeed with the way in which they have been treated. If he were to talk to the inmates he would find that they were very grateful to the Commonwealth Government which provides a subsidy of £2 for each £1 raised by churches and charitable organizations.
– My remarks will relate to Division No. 364, State Establishments. I enter this debate with a certain amount of reserve. What Senator Marriot has said with respect to religious organizations which have claimed Commonwealth subsidy for the establishment of homes for indigent or aged people is quite right and justifiable. However, I think it is necessary for the Government to investigate the circumstances under which organizations which claim the Commonwealth subsidy of £2 for £1 demand from people who want homes one-third of the cost of its construction. It is true that such people are given a very limited and qualified guarantee that they will be housed until they . no longer need the accommodation. As an accountant, I would say that it was a good business proposition for the persons who are making this accommodation available to aged people. Senator Marriott, who has religious affiliations, will agree that it is wrong to demand from these people a deposit equal to at least one-third of the cost of providing the accommodation.
– It is not demanded. The organization offers to provide accommodation.
– Do not interject. Listen to what I say and speak later if you wish to correct me. They are asked to pay one-third of the amount that would be required to obtain a home. This could be done through a commercial institution, without the aid of the Government. I can provide particulars of commercial institutions which would do this. Aged persons are required to pay one-third of the cost of providing their accommodation, in return for a promise that, subject to certain restrictive provisions, they will get accommodation for’ the rest of their lives. The Commonwealth Government pays £2 for every £1 provided by the organization, but in some instances persons requiring accommodation pay £1,000 deposit, plus additional amounts for maintenance and general services. 1 should like to put before the committee for its consideration a case which came to my notice quite recently. I think that it shows circumstances that are horrible and wrong. An invalid pensioner, was operated on for cancer and declared 85 per cent, incapacitated. Subject to the means test, therefore, she could qualify for an invalid pension. She had supported her father and mother for a period and she was left a house worth £3,000 which she could not maintain on account of her physical condition. Her capital assets amounted to £1,000 in excess of the amount which would allow her to qualify for an invalid pension. If she paid £1,000 to a particular organization it would give her accommodation. She would then qualify for a full pension. Failing this, she could continue living on her own resources until such time as she could qualify under the means test for an invalid pension.
I do not know the accountancy of the proposition that this organization ‘ put ‘ups.
I do know that if it obtains £1,000 from a person needing accommodation, and the Commonwealth provides £2 for each £ I., an amount of £3,000 is available to provide accommodation for that person, that is enough for the purchase of a flat commercially. Whilst this may nol bc a business proposition from a pensioner’s point of view, I have no doubt that it is a good business proposition for the people who are promoting this type: of accommodation for’ aged persons. They would not be interested in providing the’ accommodation if the Commonwealth did not- provide a £2 for £1 subsidy.
I do not. think that any religious organization would be frightened of an investigation of its activities, but other organizations which arc engaged in providing accommodation on these conditions ought . to, be investigated. If it were found that they were providing a charitable service,- 1 would congratulate. them.’ 1 know that some institutions provide- accommodation without any conditions attached, merely because they want to do the job that the Commonwealth Government thinks they should do.
I do not think it is right that one class of organization should require key money when other organizations will provide accommodation for people in needy circumstances without attaching any conditions. This committee of the Senate should examine ‘the position of organizations which require. payment of large sums for accommodation. I have not examined the matter so closely as to be able to say categorically that these things are wrong. An investigation might prove that these organizations arc doing a charitable work. I am sure that Senator Marriott cannot name a religious institution which demands from aged persons in dire need key money of £1.000 before providing accommodation. If an investigation shows that everything is in order, i shall be happy to accept it. Let us investigate to ensure that the person we are trying to help is not cheated. Let us bc sure that we are doing good for him, and doing the community no harm by not spending money on people who arc nol in necessitous circumstances. 1 should like to refer to another matter, which has got beyond me. I have tried to correct the position. Mr. Pickering, an
Invalid pensioner, who lives at 102 Haystreet, West Perth, and who is under the attention of Dr. Moody, is an 85 per cent, incapacitated invalid pensioner. On the recommendation of a Baptist minister, the Reverend Lee, he married a Miss H. Greenfield, also an invalid1 pensioner, of the same address. They did this on the recommendation of the doctor and the minister. There was no sexual basis for their marriage; they merely wanted to assist each other. Before they were married the man paid £2 10s. a week for board and accommodation. Miss Greenfield paid the proprietor of 102 Hay-street £3, but when they married Mr. Pickering made a sacrifice by paying 10s. a week more at 102 Hay-street. As a result of his decency the couple received £1 a week less from the Commonwealth Government than a single man would have received. Together, they were £2 a week poorer for being married.
I have given the Minister the names of these persons and they are prepared to have the matter investigated. Having done the decent thing, why should they be penalized by the Parliament? I am not arguing this case merely on political grounds. I want to know from the Minister where these people can appeal. They are penalized by Commonwealth legislation for their marriage. I am prepared to take the case up if I know where to appeal. It made me vomit when I realized that I could not help these people, and I ask the Government to consider their case.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
[10.55]. - It is about time that Senator Cooke’s time expired. It was the quintessence of bad taste to ventilate in the Parliament the domestic affairs, of a couple of age pensioners who, apparently he believes, were wrongly advised by a doctor and a minister of the Baptist Church. If that is the best contribution the honorable senator can make to the proceedings of the Senate I suggest that it might be better if he made no contribution at all.
Let us deal with the Aged Persons Homes Act. The foundation of it is the encouragement of voluntary organizations.
As a result, the Government does not interfere with the administrative arrangements of these organizations. By and large, the Government makes inquiries into the bona fides of the charitable organizations or institutions before admitting them to the benefits of the scheme as applicants. The Government inquires into their bona fides so that it can be sure sufficient resources are available to the organizations to enable them to continue to function permanently. That does not mean that the Government at that stage washes its hands of the matter. We are talking of an efficient government department. It keeps in touch with what is happening and as a result of inspections and inquiries, without interference and with encouragement to those who are managing the concerns, it is able to say that most of those who are in the homes are pensioners. The great majority of people who are living in homes for the aged are recipients of age pensions. I subscribe to the view that was expressed earlier that this is one of the best contributions towards the improvement of social services that has been made by any government since social services became a feature of modern legislation.
It is all very well to make allegations about contributions being required in exchange for accommodation. These are voluntary organizations. They differ in style and character. They are adapted by different groups to suit different conditions and the needs of those who want accommodation. The administration lays down some basic principles. One is a provision that each time assistance is granted an undertaking is obtained from the organization that in the event of the establishment not being conducted for the purposes for which the grant was made the organization will repay the grant to the Common’ wealth. Another arrangement is that in order to ensure that grants are made equitably and economically, grants are related to the expenditure upon the establishment. If accommodation is being provided on too expensive a basis, then the establishment would not qualify. The department has a rule of thumb that if the capital cost is more than £2,500 for each inmate, that is too expensive and the project will not qualify. . , .
Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That (he Chairman do now leave the chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the negative.
Commonwealth does not interfere in any way wi h the internal administration or running of the homes. 1 think it was Senator Cooke who said that sometimes amounts were repayable on the death of persons who had entered such homes. The procedure to be followed on the death of a tenant who has contributed to the cost of a building is a matter entirely Ibr the organization concerned, except that the Commonwealth will not make a grant if the organization obtains sums of money or subscriptions, or makes arrangements, to which there arc attached any conditions at all. If an organization is able to obtain capital sums from people who wish to go into homes, or from people who do not wish to go into their), the Commonwealth will match those contributions or payments, but only provided that there arc no conditions attached to them. The person who makes a contribution or a payment must make it to the voluntary organization unconditionally. The money is paid over and is then entirely under the control of the organization.
asked whether the organizations make u charge. I think that nearly all of them do so, but the whole principle of the legislation, and the way in which the scheme works in practice, is that the wind is tempered to the shorn Jamb. The church organizations in particular have special rates to meet the financial capacity of the pensioners who occupy the accommodation. I repeat that inquiries show that the great majority of people who are accommodated in the homes are age pensioners, lt is wrong to take the odd case of the more expensive homes in which the accommodation is more pretentious and to regard that as indicative of the scheme as a whole.
An honorable senator asked whether amounts contributed are repayable on death.
If there is any such condition, the organization concerned does not qualify for the subsidy. I have an answer to Senator Wright’s question regarding the amount of widow’s pension that has been paid to deserted wives. The answer would have been given by the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) in the other place to-morrow. Separate figures in respect of deserted wives are not available. Based on the average rates of pensions payable to widows, the amount of widow’s pension paid to deserted wives for the four years ended 1963 would bc as follows: - 1960, £2,300,000; 1961, £2,500.000; 1962, £2.800,000; and 1963, £3,000.000.
– The Minister’s comments are a little hard to follow. Despite the impression that some people may have gained from my earlier remarks, I think that the provision of homes for aged persons is a wonderful social service. In fact, I said as much at the beginning of my remarks. 1 am always concerned when public money is handed out without a watchful eye being kept on the way in which it is expended. 1 understand that the person who initiated the aged persons homes scheme had in mind helping the most necessitous cases. Stripped of all the nice words which the Minister used, the scheme simply means that the Government hands out money to approved organizations run by worthy people. The Minister has said that the majority of the inmates of the homes are pensioners. No doubt that: is true. I do not know whether the Department of Social Services is able to produce figures to substantiate that contention, but T should be pleased to see them if it can do so. 1 am practically certain that they would support the Minister’s contention.
Let us get down to the facts. The truth is that the organizations concerned make a charge. In fact, I know of an organization which does so. It is not possible to obtain accommodation in the buildings provided by the organization unless a certain amount of money is paid. ‘ Homes-: arc still being built. The organizations make conditions when they build the- homes. When all is said and done, £2 of the people’s money is provided for every £1 raised by the organizations. I want to know whether there is ft fixed charge, or whether an approved organization itself decides the charge, ls it £250 in Victoria, £300 or £400 in Perth, and something else in a suburb of Sydney? I suggest that the Commonwealth, which provides two-thirds of the money, should examine the position more closely. I strongly believe that, since the people’s money is being used in financing the homes, the method under which the scheme is operated should be examined and the expenditure followed through. Honorable senators who were in the chamber when 1 spoke previously will agree that I did not criticize the purpose of the scheme. I still say - I believe I am right - that when the people’s money is put into such a worthy project, the Government has a responsibility to ascertain all the facts associated with the expenditure of that money.
In most of the homes for aged persons that are conducted by religious bodies a certain part of an inmate’s pension is taken. Nobody objects to that being done, because food has to be bought. The pensioner is left with sufficient for his own purposes, or at least is left with portion of his pension. I am not saying that certain moneys are paid by all persons who enter approved organizations. I suggest that the Government should place the giving of these grants on a proper basis so that the people will know what is the ultimate end of the money. 1 have never complained about this social service. As I said earlier, it is a very wonderful service. But when the Government makes available £2 for every £1 that is spent by an organization in providing a home for aged persons, it should proceed a little further and ascertain how the money is being applied.
The Government must know that people pay a certain amount of money to enter these homes - that they give a donation, to use the popular term. I know of one instance in which money was asked for and the relatives were happy to pay it. The only reason why I heard about the matter was that unfortunately the person concerned died within nine months. When the relatives approached me I said: “ You made a bargain. The lady could have lived for nine years.” f recognize, as I said earlier, that the cost of maintenance of the buildings and so forth has to be mct.
I repeat that I should like to sec a uniform agreement adopted for all approved organizations, so that the people may know what is happening to the money. That is ali 1 ask for. I am not happy about the Minister’s reply. Of course, he might have a viewpoint that is different from mine. He might say that the approved organizations arc doing a very good job, and that the Government is happy to pay £2 for every £1 that they provide and to leave the matter there. If so, I do not agree with him. When we arc spending Commonwealth money we should not leave the matter there.
Senator Sir WILLIAM SPOONER (New South Wales - Vice-President of the Executive Council and Minister for National Development) [11.14]. - I find Senator Kennelly’s point of view to bc interesting. Let :ne follow it through in my way. First, the Government makes the grunt after it is satisfied about (he bona fides of the organization concerned. Senator Kennelly says that something more should be done. Let us explore his suggestion. If we did as he suggests, we would send inspectors to the home. To do what? You would not inquire into standards of accommodation, charges and the way the place is managed. You cannot deal with these homes in a manner that is high, wide and handsome. You would have to send inspectors with instructions that this standard and that standard should be observed. If the honorable senator agrees with what 1 have just said, in. effect he is departing very much from, the principle of having voluntary organizations running institutions in a more facile way than would the Government.
If the purpose of the investigation is to inquire into the financial arrangements that are made, would we say that a room 10 feet by 10 feet in size is not to attract a greater charge than so much per week or that a person who is going to occupy a room 12 feet by 12 feet should not in any circumstances be allowed to make more than a certain capital contribution? I understand the honorable senator’s point of view. He says that, if the Commonwealth is providing £2 for every £1 which is found by an organization, then the Commonwealth should have some say in the expenditure of the money or establish some liaison wilh the organization. I put it to Senator Kennelly that if his suggestion were translated into practice we would be destroying the objective we have in view - avoidance of - the establishment of government institutions and the encouragement of people with good minds and good hearts to provide this accommodation voluntarily.
I believe that what is being done approximates what should be done. We start off by making the most careful inquiries to ensure that the organization is bona fide and that it has the resources to stay in business and to do what needs to be done. We take the precaution of providing that, if the organization does not do what is proposed or if the building in question is not used for the purpose for which it was intended, the Government is to be repaid the amount of the grant. Having done that, the Government has as little to do with the organization as is practicable. It lets the organization do the work in a way, in an atmosphere, that is different from the manner in which it would be done if it were done by the Government. These are two diametrically opposed points of view.
– I am quite sure the Minister for National Development is quite sincere in what he says. Nevertheless, we as representatives of the people are up against a proposition which the Government must consider. I have two cases in particular to place before the Minister. The first relates to the Sisters of Nazareth at Geraldton who run Nazareth House. They have a sworn obligation to help the indigent and their children. These sisters conduct an aged persons’ home, the main part of which is made available to aged persons. However, if a child of a holy family unit is dependent upon an aged person, they say, “We will support that child too”. In Perth I had a case brought to me of two people who were in the hands of the police as the result of having tried to gas themselves in a flat at the C.M.L. buildings. I could find no accommodation for them in Western Australia other than at Geraldton, 306 miles from Perth. The Sisters of Nazareth at that home in Geraldton said they would accommodate the couple. These two people had a juvenile dependent whom the sisters agreed to accommodate also. An application was made.not through me but through a solicitor, for government assistance on the basis of £2 for £1 but it was refused on the ground that accommodation had been given to the child also. When an incorporated proprietary society can get this £2 for £1 assistance, and a home giving genuine assistance, as this one did, is refused the assistance on a mere technicality, I think there is something wrong. Good luck to a proprietary society which can get this kind of assistance, because no doubt it helps the society to provide a necessary service, but the assistance should be available in other cases of genuine need and should not be withheld because of accommodation of a juvenile dependent. However, the a’ct provides accordingly, and that is that.
I appeal to the Government to see that this kind of situation is corrected. The Government should not be concerned about the people who have £1,000 to offer as an inducement to an organization to accommodate them; it should be concerned about destitute people who are in real need. I will give the Minister all the particulars concerning the case of which I have been speaking.
Let us look at this matter of government assistance of £2 for £1 on an actuarial basis. If a person can offer a home £1,000 in order to obtain accommodation there, and this £1,000 is later used in such a way as to attract the Commonwealth subvention of £2,000, this means that the home has received’ a total of £3,000 for the accommodation of that one person. Actuarially this is an excellent proposition for the home because, owing to his or her age, it may not have to provide that person with accommodation for longer than five or ten years. Three thousand pounds paid in rent for accommodation for ten years is a pretty high rental in anybody’s language. There is not much charity in that.
However, I am not concerned about the £1,000 which some people are asked to pay in order to gain accommodation in these homes. I am concerned with the basic principle. 1 am concerned with seeing the establishment of a standard of values in these matters. I am concerned with seeing that necessitous persons will be able to gain accommodation in homes without any conditions attached. 1 repeat that a home which receives £1,000 from an inmate, which later attracts £2,000 in Commonwealth subsidy, is doing very well out of the deal. Assuming that the person uses the accommodation for only five years, the rental he has paid is £200 a year, which is reasonable in any circumstances. I am not accusing the Government of anything. I am asking it to establish some basic principle governing the class of people to be aided by the legislation, so that really necessitous people will be helped and not just the individual who can produce £1,000.
I do not contribute to the cost of aged persons’ homes except by way of the taxes that I pay, and that is little enough in those particular circumstances, but the fact is that we are spending public moneys in this field. If we attempt to justify that expenditure on the basis that we are performing a great and necessary social service, then we must assist people who really need the assistance and not only those who contribute the relatively large sum of £1,000. In most commercial organizations run under proper accounting principles a deposit of onethird for accommodation over a period of five years as £1,000 is in this context is a good commercial proposition. It is not a case of charity. I should like the Minister to answer the points I have raised.
Proposed expenditures noted.
Sitting suspended from 11.27 to 12.15 a.m. (Thursday).
Proposed expenditures - Repatriation Department, £120,059,000; Repatriation Department - Capital Works and Services, £404,000; Department of Immigration, £13,246,000; Department of Immigration Capital Works and Services, £448,000 noted.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives with an amendment.
In committee: (Consideration of House of Representatives’ amendment.)
House of Representatives’ amendment -
That the following new clause be inserted in the bill: - “ 3a. The payments (including advances by the Commonwealth to the State of New South Wales provided for by the agreement) may be made, by way of financial assistance to the Slate on the terms and conditions contained in the agreement, out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is appropriated accordingly.”.
[12.20 a.m.]. - I move -
That the amendment be agreed to.
I think the amendment is self-explanatory. In effect it provides the funds required to do the work referred to in the bill and makes the required appropriation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Paltridge) read a first time.
– I move -
That the- bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to authorize the borrowing of £62,500,000 and the expenditure of the proceeds of the borrowing on Defence Services. In the estimates which the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) presented in his Budget speech, total expenditures were expected to exceed receipts, apart from loan raisings, by £358,400,000 in 1963-64. Very tentatively, the Treasurer suggested that loan raisings might total £300,000,000 in 1963- 64, which would leave a gap of £58,400,000 to be financed from temporary borrowings. Apart, however, from this possible gap between our public loan raisings and the total amount that will have to be borrowed from all sources, it is estimated that the total receipts of the Consolidated Revenue Fund will fall short by £62,500,000 of the total expenditures that would otherwise have beencharged to that fund. To avoid a deficit in that fund it will be necessary to charge the estimated excess of expenditure to the Loan Fund.
As has been done in other years when similar action, has been required, it is proposed to charge to the Loan Fund a proportion of the expenditure to be incurred on defence services. As Part 1 of the second schedule to the Appropriation Bill shows, estimated defence expenditure in this year totals £251,700,000. On present estimates, £189,200,000 of that amount will be met from Consolidated Revenue Fund and the remainder, £62.500,000 from the Loan Fund.
To permit the Loan Fund to meet this expenditure, the necessary amount will, of course, have to be borrowed and this bill is to authorize the borrowing of £62,500,000 for that purpose. As I have said, the amount which this bill will authorize the ‘ Government to borrow and spend from the Loan Fund on defence services is based on the estimates set out in the Budget. It is hardly likely that the actual result will be precisely the same as the estimate. If, later in the financial year, it becomes necessary, for that or some other reason, to increase the amount to be charged to either the Loan Fund or the Consolidated Revenue Fund, authority to do so will, of course, be sought from the Parliament.
I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Paltridge) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill bc now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to obtain parliamentary approval of a contribution of 19,800,000 United States dollars to the International Development Association. Australia’s membership in the International Development Association, widely known as I.D.A., was authorized by the International Development Association Act 1960. Australia became a foundation member in July, 1960. I.D.A. was established when it became evident that many developing countries would not be able to maintain a rate of development through international borrowing on conventional terms without incurring a level of debt obligations beyond their ability to meet. All of I.D.A. credits have been extended for a term of 50 years, with repayment in convertible currency commencing after a ten-year grace period. Thereafter 1 per cent, per annum of the principal is to be repaid for 10 years while in the remaining 30 years, 3 per cent, of the principal is to be repaid annually. No interest is charged but a service charge of three-quarters of 1 per cent, per annum is made on outstanding disbursements to cover administrative costs.
By 30th June, 1963, 76 countries had joined I.D.A. while applications from a further seventeen countries had been approved. The initial subscriptions to I.D.A. amount to the equivalent of 969,000,000 United States dollars, of which the equivalent of 765,000,000 United States’ dollars is payable in convertible currencies.
It was, of course, some time before I.D.A. began to commit funds at a significant rate, but by 30th June, 1963, it had signed credit agreements amounting to 495,200,000 United States dollars in respect of 39 projects in eighteen countries and territories. About 7 per cent, of the total credits have been extended to countries in Latin America, 7 per cent, to African countries or territories, 8 per cent, to the Middle East and 78 per cent, to Asia. Credits to Commonwealth countries account for 68 per cent. . of the total. Because of arrangements entered into with Pakistan and India, I.D.A.’s uncommitted resources in convertible exchange had been reduced at the end of June, 1963, to about 193,000,000 United States dollars, a level which is likely to support the present rate of commitments for only six to nine months.
This development was foreseen by the board of governors of I.D.A. at their annual meeting in 1962 and the executive directors were requested to prepare a report on the prospective financial requirements of l.D.A. Following discussions with the Governments concerned, the executive directors submitted to this year’s meeting of the board of governors a proposal for the replenishment of I.D.A.’s resources. In short, the proposal is that additional funds aggregating 750,000,000 United States dollars bc made available to I.D.A. to enable it to carry on operations for a further period of three years, commencing in November, 1963.
With the concurrence of honorable senators 1 incorporate in “ Hansard “ the tabic setting out the offers of contributions made by the countries concerned.
lt was the consensus of opinion that the additional resources should bc contributed entirely by the more economically advanced members of I.D.A. lt was not thought appropriate to require the developing countries, in their present circumstances, to provide convertible resources, and I.D.A. has no prospective need for inconvertible currencies.
As to the amount of the increase, it will bc seen from the table that has been circulated, that the proposed contribution of 250,000,000 United States dollars per annum represents a two-thirds increase on the initial subscriptions of about 150,000,000 United States dollars per annum by the more advanced members. This increased rate of contributions, together with the uncommitted funds outstanding at the end of June, 1963, will enable I.D.A. to increase appreciably its lending rate over the next three years.
I should add that the contributing members are not required to commence payment of their contributions until November, 1965. It was decided that actual payments could be postponed until then partly because disbursements by J.D.A. are still at a relatively low level and partly because two annual instalments of the initial subscriptions remain to bc paid, the last in November, 1964. All that is required now is that the contributing members should bind themselves to make the payments when required. This will give the necessary authority to I.D.A. to commit the funds.
Honorable senators will have noted that, subject to Parliamentary approval, Australia has offered a contribution of 19,800,000 United States dollars for the three-year period compared with a subscription of 20,180,000 United States dollars for the initial period of five years. In agreeing to this figure, the Government considered that it represented a reasonable balance between, on the one hand, our obligation to assist I.D.A. to play an increasingly important role in the future, and on the other hand, the various and growing demands on our resources in the field of assistance for international development. To put the matter into perspective, I should mention that the total provision for international assistance in this year’s Budget, including our assistance to Papua and New Guinea, amounts to about £44,000,000, an increase of nearly 24 per cent over the figure for 1962-63.
While it is pleasing that I.D.A. will be given substantial new resources, measures of aid, however generous and useful, are only a partial solution to the problems of the lessdeveloped countries and that if too much attention is focused on this aspect there may be a risk of impeding progress towards other, and more inherently desirable objectives. One of these objectives is that the developing countries must be enabled to sell more of their goods at remunerative prices on the world’s markets. But even if a large measure of success were achieved in this field, it is clear that the developing countries would still be faced with a foreign exchange problem. And while governmental aid can be expected to increase over the years, the problem could be foreshortened if sufficient recognition were given to the role that private capital could play. A country that is hospitable to private investment will have access over the years to a larger and more stable pool of resources and technology than its neighbour which seeks to rely solely on governmental aid.
In addition to stressing these points in the discussions at the’ recent annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank, the Treasurer also strongly urged that a study be made by the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank of ways and means to expand, diversify and strengthen the international capital markets. Even at best such institutions as I.D.A. , which rely on governments for funds, will never be able to supply more than a fraction of the world’s capital needs. Strong capital markets established at various centres of financial strength around the world would, the Treasurer suggested, provide to creditworthy bor rowers far more than governments find themselves able to provide through such institutions. This proposal for a study was well received.
None of these problems is, of course, capable of easy or quick solution but, in the meanwhile, the bill before the Senate provides us with an opportunity to give concrete expression to our sympathy and support for the lessdeveloped countries in their search for economic viability.
I commend this bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
The following bills were returned from the House of Representatives without amendment: -
Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority Bill 1963.
Air Navigation (Charges) Bill 1963.
Question on Notice.
Motion (by Senator Sir William Spooner) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– At this late hour I shall engage the attention of the Senate for only one minute. The Minister representing the Treasurer, Senator Paltridge, has just introduced the Loan Bill which will involve consideration of Treasury procedures, in respect of which I placed a question on the noticepaper on 7th May of this year. Reminders have been given. The delay in answering the question is, of course, impossible of excuse. I hope that the discourtesy and the delay are not deliberate, and I trust that an answer to the question will be forthcoming before the debate on the bill is resumed to-morrow.
– I assure the honorable senator that no discourtesy is intended. The question which the honorable senator put to the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) raises matters of importance. The Treasurer proposes to discuss them with his colleagues. That is why no answer has been furnished.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Seriate adjourned at 12.38 a.m. (Thursday).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 23 October 1963, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1963/19631023_senate_24_s24/>.