25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Does not the holding of a periodic election for the Senate during the next financial year without a simultaneous election for the House of Representatives present the best foreseeable opportunity to ask the electors to deal with proposals for constitutional change? Will the Government consider then submitting referenda to deal with at least some of the recommendations of the Constitutional Review Committee, including in particular those affecting the Parliament itself? When will the Government announce its attitude to the recommendations of the committee?
– An argument could be developed that this might be a favorable opportunity to hold a referendum. However, the questions that the honorable senator poses are of such great policy content that I am not prepared to embark upon an expression of opinion upon them.
– I address the following questions to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs: - Is it a fact that the Malaysian talks in Bangkok have broken down and that the Indonesian Government has said that it will not withdraw its troops from Malaysia until a political decision has been arrived at? Can the Minister indicate whether there is any political decision that would be acceptable to the Indonesians and that would not mean handing over Malaysian territory to them?
– All I have to go on are this morning’s press reports, which indicate that the first part of the honorable senator’s question is correct. I emphasize that I am merely basing my comment on press reports. I think that the rest of the question should be placed on the notice-paper so that a considered answer may be given by the Minister for External Affairs.
– I ask the
Minister for Health whether any progress has been made in the introduction of a dental benefits scheme by any of the major health benefits funds. Can the funds themselves, in their own right, introduce dental benefits schemes or other additional benefits schemes to assist their members, or must approval be received in the first instance from the Minister or his department? Finally, has the Minister received any request to introduce a dental benefits scheme?
– Some of the benefits funds do provide a dental benefits service to their members. It is within the province of the funds themselves to institute such a service, which is not part of the national health scheme. If the provision of such a service does not involve national health funds, no restrictions are imposed by the Commonwealth Government.
– I have had some notice of this question and have seen the statement referred to by the honorable senator. The Senate might be interested in a detailed reply in view of the importance of the matter. The following reply has been supplied to me by the C.S.I.R.O. -
From time to time, the Commonwealth Government is approached to make additional finance available to C.S.I.R.O. for research on weed con trol and 1 can assure the honorable senator that
C.S.I.R.O. fully recognizes the importance of research on this problem in Australia and will continue to give this aspect of its work due consideration in the development of its overall agricultural research programme.
However, the extent to which CS.l.R.O. is able to expand its research on noxious weeds is not necessarily a matter only of finance. It is affected also by the availability of qualified research workers and adequate laboratory accommodation and the need to ensure that other important phases of its work receive proper emphasis.
Research on noxious weeds is proceeding in several CS.l.R.O. divisions. The Division of Entomology, for example, is concerned with the possibilities of using introduced insects to control specific weeds such as St. John’s wort and noogoora burr.
In the Division of Plant Industry, research on weed control is largely concerned with obtaining a better understanding of the principles underlying weed control and with investigating the control of certain weeds which are widespread and of national and economic importance, for example, skeleton weed.
The Division of Organic Chemistry is working on a number of toxic compounds found in poison weeds.
Recent research by the Division of Animal Health is of particular interest in connexion with the poison weed heliotrope. The division is at present looking at the use of cobalt bullets to protect sheep grazing heliotrope infested pastures against poisonous effects of the weed.
I might interpolate here that the cobalt bullets are not fired at the sheep; you try to get the sheep to swallow them. The reply continues -
Any general research into control measures for specific weeds of localized importance is not normally undertaken by CS.l.R.O. as this work is the function of the State Departments of Agriculture and other State weed control bodies.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Has the Commonwealth Government information which would prove the correctness or otherwise of the report that China is negotiating with Argentine producers for the importation by China of 300,000 tons of meat - beef, lamb and pork? Has the Australian Meat Board bestirred itself with a view to securing any part of this trade, particularly in the light of the startling information that our meat sales to the United States of America are to be drastically reduced because of the howling noise being made by United States ranchers who seem to have overlooked the fact that the United States of America sells more’ to
Australia than Australia buys from the United States? Does the Commonwealth Government support the efforts of the Australian Wool Board in its attempt to sell £60,000,000 worth of wool to China so that China can clothe its soldiers and peasants? Is the Government enthusiastically and tremendously delighted - to use the Prime Minister’s own superlatives - that Communist China has purchased more than half our total record wheat export and has now become a vital market for Australia’s farm surpluses? In the light of all these amazing statistics, is the Government likely to jump on the De Gaulle band wagon or is it just attempting to fool the Australian people?
– I like these non-political questions that are asked with a genuine thirst to obtain information. Let me correct the first manifest inaccuracy in Senator Hendrickson’s questions. He alleged that there had been a substantial fall in our exports of meat to the United States of America. I remind him that only the day before yesterday, I gave a long and comprehensive statement to the Senate on behalf of my colleague, the Minister for Trade and Industry. This statement showed the way in which negotiations had been carried out successfully to maintain our market for meat in the United States at a correct level. It contained formal provisions for a growth factor so that that market would increase in the future. This is one of the best deals made on behalf of primary producers for a long time.
Having dealt with that inaccuracy, I think we may apply the same standards to the rest of Senator Hendrickson’s question. Australia is a great primary producing country. We have to find markets for our exports. We are obtaining a good market for our exports in Communist China. In our trading transactions with that country we are carrying out the agreed policy, not only of Australia but also of other countries, to sell to China her requirements of all goods except goods of strategic value. That list has been determined. If Senator Hendrickson says that we are to cease selling wool, wheat and other foodstuffs-
– No, I did not say that;
– The honorable senator says he did not say so, but that suggestion seems to be implicit in his question. He criticizes the present transactions. I should think he would be standing alone in that attitude. So far as recognition of Communist China is concerned, the policy of the Australian Government has been stated and re-stated. We do not propose to do so.
– I ask the
Minister for Health whether the Commonwealth Government is carrying out research into the origins of the Australian aborigines. If so, can the Minister say who is conducting the research on the Government’s behalf? Will he also state whether reports have been prepared and, if so, whether he has any comments to offer on them?
– Research into this aspect of anthropology is being carried out by Professor Olsen, of the University of Queensland. He is carrying out the work under a grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council and has been engaged on it, I think, from 1957. The latest report that he has submitted covers his activities up to 1963. If the honorable senator would like to have information concerning any aspect of the report I shall be pleased to make it available to her.
– I wish to ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate a question. I preface it by reminding him that in his reply to Senator Hendrickson’s question he said that there is a list of strategic materials which the Government does not permit to be exported to China. 1 remind him that during the last session, in answer to a number of questions on this subject, he at first said that there was such a list and then that there was not a list. I now ask him: Is there at this moment such a list? If there is, may any one see it? If there is no such list, I ask the Minister whether his reply to Senator Hendrickson’s question was factual.
– I think 1 shall ask Senator Kennelly to place the question on the notice-paper because 1 should not like to say something which subsequently turned out to be incorrect. Whether there is or is not a list, there is a clear line of demarcation and there is a procedure under which determinations are reached as to whether particular items may or may not be sold. Senator Kennelly will agree that there might be circumstances in which public disclosure of some of the items would, perhaps, not be desirable. If the honorable senator will put the question on the notice-paper, I shall ask my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs, to say what he feels he can say publicly on the matter.
– I direct to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior a question in relation to the war memorial which was erected near Peronne to commemorate the 2nd Australian Division. With your indulgence, Mr. President, may I say that the’ memorial is just outside Peronne on the main road between Rheims and Calais. Mounted on a pedestal was the figure of a 2nd Division infantryman in full kit, with his foot on a German eagle, forcing his bayonet down the throat of the eagle. This figure was removed by the Germans during the 1939-45 war.
The memorial contains the names of between 12,000 and 15,000 Australians of the 2nd Division who fought and died in that area. Those persons who are interested in anything that the Australian Imperial Force did will know that the memorial is of particular significance, because the grandest and greatest exploits ever performed to keep Australia safe were performed there. In place of the original figure is a plaque stating that the figure was removed by the Germans. The bolts which held the figure stand in gaunt ugliness. Surviving members of the 2nd Division are now old men. Their families and relatives visit the site and continually ask about the figure, which made a glorious memorial. I ask the Minister whether steps may be taken to restore it.
– I must confess that I am not well informed on this subject, but I know that restoration of the memorial has been considered from time to time. I assure the honorable senator that I shall bring his representations to the notice of my colleague, the Minister for the Interior, and ask him to inform the honorable senator of the present position.
– Will the Minister for Civil Aviation take up with the PostmasterGeneral the question of locating letter boxes at capital city air terminals in such positions as to be readily accessible to the travelling public? At some capital city terminals these boxes are situated outside the terminal building, some distance from the passenger lounge.
– I understand that these letter boxes are placed in positions considered by the Postmaster-General’s Department to be the most convenient to the general public. The honorable senator having raised the matter, I shall be glad to have a look at it and see whether any improvement can be effected.
– I ask the Minister for National Development whether negotiations between the Australian Oil and Gas Corporation Limited and the oil companies concerned have been satisfactorily concluded yet. When the whole of the oil production now envisaged from the Moonie field is conveyed through the present pipeline to Brisbane, what percentage of Australian requirements will be met? Can he say also whether the present pipeline will be fully loaded in conveying present known oil supplies the distance of 190 miles between Moonie and Brisbane?
The pipeline is of such design that the throughput can be increased substantially. It will be operated initially at a level sufficient to meet the market and related to the size of the Moonie oil deposit. I am told that if greater supply is created by the discovery of another deposit of oil the quantity conveyed through the pipe can be increased very materially indeed. At the present time, the output at Moonie would be sufficient to meet approximately 2 per cent, of Australian requirements.
As to the progress of negotiations, I cannot add a great deal to what I have said already. I remind the Senate that tankers have been arranged to take delivery of the oil when the price is settled, and that agreement has been reached on a price for the first six months, subject to agreement being reached on what is to happen at the end of that period. The point not yet settled is what is to happen at the end of the first six months. I have arranged another conference with the interested parties. It is not a matter that is as easy to finalize as would appear because a great number of considerations such as the wide variety of crude oils, rises and falls in market prices and so on are involved. Price is a most important factor because, whatever price is agreed upon, it will undoubtedly influence subsequent transactions.
The price agreed upon at the moment relates to 25 per cent, of the output and it will undoubtedly influence the price to be paid for the other 75 per cent. I think honorable senators on both sides of the chamber will agree that it is infinitely preferable for buyer and seller in this case to come to a mutually satisfactory arrangement - one that they both regard as being satisfactory - rather than that there should be governmental intervention, and that is the task to which my department and I are applying our energies.
– I direct to the Leader of the Government in the Senate a question supplementary to that asked earlier this morning by the Leader of the Opposition. In view of the Government’s failure since 1959 to act on any of the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review, even those which were unanimous, are we justified in regarding the whole report as being pigeon-holed for the duration of this Government’s occupancy of the treasury bench?
– I think the only fair answer I can give is that I discern no enthusiasm on the part of my colleagues or myself to implement the recommendations, but that does not mean that the report will be permanently pigeon-holed. ‘
– My question, which I direct to the Minister for National Development, relates to his chairmanship of the Australian Water Resources Council. Is it true to say that the council has made studies of the evaporation of water from storages and that it estimates that evaporation represents a grave economic loss to the Australian nation? Is it also true that the council has estimated that in Queensland evaporation runs as high as 20 per cent, to 25 per cent, of the safe yield from storages? Has the Minister noted that the £4,000,000 Menindee Lakes scheme in New South Wales, built by the New South Wales Government, was completed approximately three years ago and that about 2,000,000 acre feet of water are virtually lying idle, apart from the limited quantities being sold to South Australia and Victoria? Will the Minister agree that the State Labour Government of New South Wales should be using this water for agricultural pursuits in the areas nearby? Will the Minister use his best endeavours, both as Minister for National Development in the National Parliament and as chairman of the Australian Water Resources Council, to try to persuade the New South Wales Government to stop this shocking waste and incompetence?
Senator Sir WILLIAM SPOONER.Referring first to evaporation, I point out briefly that the Australian Water Resources Council had before it some facts and figures to show the extent of the loss from water evaporation. The council decided to set up a technical committee to get together information concerning the extent of the loss and the work which was going on in Australia and overseas to reduce loss from evaporation. The intention was that, having got the factual information from those who were doing the work, the Water Resources Council would then look at it and come to a conclusion as to whether it should make any recommendations to the governments.
The question about the Menindee Lakes scheme is for the New South Wales Government rather than for me to answer. I have always understood that the main purpose of the Menindee Lakes scheme is to enable New South Wales to provide South Australia with the water which New South Wales is obligated to supply under the
River Murray Waters Act. New South Wales can supply that water from the river Darling through the Menindee scheme and thus make better use of the water in the river Murray in other parts of New South Wales. I have always understood also that there were proposals for the use of the Menindee waters locally in irrigation areas. The position as it stands at the moment is that New South Wales as part of the deal under which finance is made available to it for its share of the cost of construction of the Chowilla scheme, has agreed that the Menindee waters will be hypothecated for River Murray Commission purposes for a period of five, six or seven years, until the Chowilla dam is completed.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Because of warnings issued of an impending shortage of shearers to shear the expanding flocks of Australia, would the Minister for Labour and National Service, in conjunction with the State departments of labour and the Australian Workers Union, draw up a method of ensuring that all shearing contractors carry out the terms of the pastoral industry award which lays down the proportion of learner shearers to experienced shearers? Is the Minister fully informed that this breach of the award is the cause of the shortage of new men entering the shearing section of the pastoral industry, and could have serious repercussions if not rectified on a national level?
– I shall ask the Minister for Labour and National Service the question raised by the honorable senator. The honorable senator did not give me information, which perhaps he may give by way of interjection, as to whether the pastoral award is a Federal award or whether in each case it is a State award.
– It is a Federal award with the exception of Queensland.
– Apparently in one case a State award applies and in others the Federal award. That fact, of course, would have a great bearing on the question which the honorable senator has asked. I ask him to put his question on the noticepaper.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Now that the year 1964 has arrived - the year of the introduction of jet aircraft to fly on domestic air routes - can the Minister state whether, at the commencement of their use, these aircraft will be used on routes involving calling at the Adelaide airport? If so, what other Australian airports will be linked with Adelaide by these jet aircraft?
– It is proposed that these aircraft will be used on all mainland trunk routes. That, of course, includes all capital cities. I have no doubt that Adelaide will be an airport to which these aircraft are flown. The details of the timetabling by both the major operators are now in the process of compilation. The operators are not yet ready to indicate just what the time tables will be, but I can assure the honorable senator that very close and continuing consideration is being given to this matter.
– Has the
Minister for Customs and Excise seen a recent complaint by way of a letter published in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ that when incoming postal parcels are opened by customs officers and some article is removed from the parcel, the intended recipient is not so notified by the Department of Customs and Excise? If this is so, will the Minister arrange for his department to advise people when articles posted to them from overseas have been confiscated?
– I saw the letter in question to which the honorable senator refers. The complaint was not that the recipient was not notified, but that the sender was not notified. In all cases the recipient is notified that the .department has removed something for examination, or has seized something from the parcel, but we do not advise the sender as he or she is in another country.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Has the Minister’s attention been directed to recent full-page advertisements appearing in the press indicating that the Australian Broadcasting Commission will be bringing many distinguished musicians and artists to Australia during this year? Does the Minister realize that the performances of these musicians will be transmitted on an amplitude modulation broadcasting system which to-day is subject to more interference, heterodyne whistles, electrical noises, static and the like, than when they were substantially designed about 1923? Does not the Minister think that it is about time that Australia was given a fully modern broadcasting system for the benefit of the very great numbers of the public who are not mesmerized by the magic of television, and who would like to hear these artists properly? If so, will the Minister take steps to set up a frequency modulation system of broadcasting upon the correct section of the very high frequency band, and, if technically possible, using something like the American multiplex stereo system?
– I have nothing but admiration for the honorable senator’s devotion to the cause of frequency modulation. As the matter that he has raised is one of policy, the best I can promise him is that I shall bring his further representations to the notice of my colleague, the Postmaster-General.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Navy has provided the following answers: -
– I address to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service a question which is supplementary to one asked by Senator O’Byrne about a shortage of labour for the shearing industry. I ask the Minister: If the Australian Labour Party is at all concerned about the success of this industry and the importance of having sufficient shearers to do the job, has there been any attempt on the part of the party or the trade unions to enlist the services of women, who have never failed to step into the breach when needed? If they are attempting to enlist the services of women, are they making any attempt to obtain for i 4 them rates of equal pay? er
– I know of no concerted effort on the part of the Opposition, or indeed of the Government, to enlist women for the shearing industry. However, I presume that any woman who was interested in becoming a shearer would not be precluded by law from doing so. As to the second part of the honorable senator’s question, I think that the general attitude of the unions on the subject of equal pay for equal work is very equivocal.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, follows upon an answer given by the Minister to a question asked earlier by Senator Hendrickson. Under the meat agreement between the United States of America and Australia, in which export year will Australia’s exports of meat to the United States equal the amount of meat exported to that country last year? Does the agreement contain a provision for termination by either party upon the giving of 180 days’ notice?
– I cannot say in detail when our exports of meat will equal last year’s level. I assume that that information is contained in a statement that I read to the Senate recently. I remind the honorable senator that our sales of meat to America over recent years have constituted one of the most dramatic improvements in the sale of our primary products. I forget the relevant figures at the moment. I think that last year’s sale of meat to the United States was ten or twelve times the total four or five years ago. If we can maintain a market at about this level for a period of time by an amicable and mutually satisfactory arrangement with the United States, I think we would be ill-advised to be critical of it.
I have no doubt that the agreement contains a clause about termination. I do not know what the provision is. I cannot imagine any agreement that did not have some clause governing termination. What we have to do is to make the arrangements work satisfactorily and ensure that they continue to operate.
– I preface my question, which is addressed to the Minister for Customs and Excise, by saying that I have a strong feeling that concerted attempts have been made to break down the decisions that have been taken by the Government about the suspension of the circulation or the banning of the importation of books. Therefore, I ask the Minister whether he will examine a long statement in the form of a letter to the editor, published in one of this morning’s Melbourne newspapers, in which the dealings between a certain professor and the Minister are ventilated. Will the Minister consider this matter and see whether finality can be achieved by his making a definitive statement to the Senate about it?
– Not having seen the statement in this morning’s Melbourne press to which the honorable senator refers and not being quite aware of what he is driving at,I ask him to place his question on the notice-paper. If he tells me later what he is aiming at, I shall endeavour to carry out his request.
– I address these questions to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration: Over the past twelve months has there been a reduction of the intake of migrants from Italy, Greece and Malta? If so, is this decline due to a reduction in the recruiting campaign conducted by the Government in those countries? If that is so, has the Government no desire for a further large migrant inflow from the countries mentioned?
– I am not aware of the figures relating to the countries to which the honorable senator has referred. I direct his attention to the statement in the Governor-General’s Speech about the great increase in the number of migrants for which the Government is planning this year. I think it was stated that 10,000 migrants, in addition to the normal intake, would be brought to Australia. I am sure that honorable senators on both sides of the chamber will appreciate and applaud the efforts of the Government to increase the migrant intake.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry whether his attention has been directed to a fantastic but seemingly true report from London, which reads -
British scientists have found a way to make deserts bloom.
Their answer is to spray them with a coat of rubber.
Dramatic results have been obtained during trials of the new process on Scolt Head Island, Norfolk, and in the Negev Desert of Israel.
Grass has grown strongly where previously only sand swirled about.
Other tests have shown that lettuce, onion and pea seeds will grow through the rubber.
The technique has been developed by research workers of the International Synthetic Co., of London.
It is simple.
First seeds are scattered on the sand. Then a mixture of nine parts of mineral oil and one part latex rubber is sprayed on top.
If his attention has not been drawn to the report, will the Minister kindly make some inquiries from United Kingdom authorities about the practicality and cost of the growth of plant life in desert areas?
– I would think that the problem of making deserts bloom is one more of economics than the method claimed to be effective by the London scientists. It might well be that the type of discovery the honorable senator has mentioned might be of great value to some countries that are particularly closely settled and where there is a minimum of agricultural land. Australia has vast areas of arable land awaiting development and I would think it will be a long while before we will have to resort to the type of treatment that has been suggested in the question asked by the honorable senator. We occupy a huge continent. We are only a comparatively few people, but even our most caustic critics must concede that we are spreading our activities and increasing our production to such an extent that there is an indication that the methods we are adopting today in Australia will increase considerably our production and development. Therefore, I return to my first point: I believe that in Australia there are still vast areas of land awaiting development and treatment within ourknown resources. For that reason I could not imagine that in the foreseeable future we would have to attempt the treatment referred to in the honorable senator’s question.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is the Minister aware that Mr. Kerr, Q.C., who is appearing for the Commonwealth Government before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, has asked that in future all arguments before the commission be advanced in writing? This would also include evidence that would be put before the commission which on this occasion would be economic evidence. Does not the Minister think a decision of this type should be brought about by direct government decision, either by way of instruction or by legislation? Having in mind the general feeling that Mr. Kenwould attend the Concilation and Arbitration Commission merely to give advice on behalf of the Government, I ask: Is Mr. Kerr acting within the general ambit of his instructions or is he acting under specific instructions either from the Minister or the department in this matter?
– I cannot tell the honorable senator whether Mr. Kerr is acting on specific instructions in this matter but I would have thought that it was entirely within his competence and right to ask the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to make a ruling on the methods by which it would take evidence. In fact, I would have thought it would be a better procedure if evidence were required in writing to ask the commission to decide whether that was reasonable and proper rather than for the commission to be instructed from outside.
– This does not apply only to this hearing but to future hearings as well.
– 1 understood that Mr. Kerr had asked the commission to make a ruling. I would have thought that that was proper procedure rather than an instruction to the commission what it had to do. That leaves it more in the milieu of ‘ a completely impartial decision - by the commission. I give that answer to the first part of the honorable senator’s question. The honorable senator also asked whether Mr. Kerr was acting under specific instructions in asking the commission to give a ruling. I think perhaps I could obtain that information and give it to the honorable senator without his putting that part of the question on the notice-paper unless he wants to do so.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Does the Minister know which State governments force those travelling by air on Government vouchers to travel with a particular air line? Does the Minister know or can he ascertain which State governments follow the policy of the Menzies Government permitting complete freedom of choice to all public servants, defence personnel and members of Parliament to travel with the air line by which they wish to travel?
– No, I am not in a position to advise the honorable senator whether any State government has issued instructions that its employees must travel by any particular airline. The matter has never come before me officially. I shall make some inquiries and ascertain whether it is a fact that the practice adopted by the Commonwealth Government is not followed by all the State governments.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise which is supplementary to my earlier question. Having regard to the reply given to me earlier by the Minister, will he again read the letter I referred to as being published in the “ Sydney Morning Herald”? If, after a further reading of the letter he agrees that the complainant is saying that she, as the recipient, was not advised of the confiscation of the article by the Department of Customs and Excise, will the Minister initiate inquiries within the department to ascertain why the department’s policy was not carried out in this case?
– I have found thatI was referring to the wrong letter. I thought the honorable senator was referring to a letter from a professor at the Michigan University and in that case he was complaining that he, in the United States of America, had not been advised although the recipient had been advised. The letter to which the honorable senator is referring has not come to my attention but I shall make inquiries and ascertain the position and give him a reply.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration arising out of the evasion of my previous question. What was the intake of immigrants from Italy, Greece and Malta for the years 1962 and 1963 separately?
– The honorable senator has used the word “ evasion “.I made it quite clear previously that I was not aware of the figures. If that is considered evasion in his language, it is not in mine. IfI have not the information, I cannot give it to him. I have not the figures in my mind but if the honorable senator puts his question on the notice-paper, I will get the information for him. Actually, it is available to him in many documents. I do not know whether he reads them. However, I suggest that he could look up the immigration figures for himself.
Motion (by Senator Sir William Spooner) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Tuesday, 17th March, at 3 p.m.
Debate resumed from 4th March (vide page 211), on motion by Senator Morris -
That the following Address-in-Reply to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General be agreed to: -
May It Please Your Excellency:
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
– I wish to associate myself with the expressions of loyalty to our Sovereign that have been made by other honorable senators. I extend my sympathy to those persons who lost loved ones in the accident at sea which resulted in the loss of the destroyer H.M.A.S. “ Voyager “. I congratulate Senator Morris on his maiden speech in this chamber. I am sure I speak for all Queenslanders when I say that we are proud to have him with us.
In addressing myself to the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General, I should like to deal with some of the aspects of northern development. This matter has been the subject of a considerable debate in the Senate, and I believe that every member of this chamber is genuinely interested in the events that are occurring and are about to occur in our northern areas. I think that in discussing northern development we tend to generalize too much and that this does not help to solve the problem. It is time that we looked at the question piece by piece to see whether there is anything that we can do to assist development. We hear of grants, subsidies, and so on, and probably those things are a necessary part of the complete pattern of development in the future, but at this stage we might do better to concentrate on some of the things that we know we can do.
I have spoken previously in this chamber of the research aspect of the problem of development, but I think it would do no harm to have a closer look at the steps that have been taken in this field. Research has been going on for a very long time. It began, I think, in the early 1930’s, but the attempts at development in those early stages were concerned with specific problems, two of which I remember very well. One was an attempt to have a closer look at the problem of pleuro in cattle and the other concerned experiments carried out by Mr. Kelly on Brahmin cattle.I think it was not until this decade that general research was applied. Broadly speaking, the task was given to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Now that I have mentioned this organization, I think that my friend Senator Cormack would be disappointed if I did not register some disagreement with the approach that he made to it recently. If
I remember correctly, the honorable senator complained that the C.S.I.R.O. was sucking the brains of the universities, although the people concerned could be used more effectively in other fields. That is so to a degree, but it is obvious that a top level research organization must have top level brains. Unless my information is incorrect, the C.S.I.R.O. works closely with the universities of this country. I think that the strongest point in favour of establishing an extension of the Cunningham research laboratory at Townsville was proximity to the university.
We import scientists, of course, and I think that in the main the Townsville laboratory is staffed by men who have had experience of tropical agriculture. We gain something thereby. I am not against the universities undertaking research. I do not think we undertake sufficient research in this country, and we certainly do not spend on it anything like the amount that is spent in other Western democracies. We have plenty of room for research. I am not fuss’y whether it is done by the universities, the C.S.I.R.O. or the State departments. I would be a very willing supporter of any move in this chamber to make more money available for research, and I would even go so far as to twist the Treasurer’s arm if I thought that by doing so more money could be obtained for the C.S.I.R.O.
The C.S.I.R.O. decided that a broad land survey should be undertaken. The Land Research and Regional Survey Division has completed surveys of very large areas of northern Australia, including the Kimberleys area of Western Australia, a substantial portion of the Northern Territory extending, 1 think, from Darwin to south of Katherine, the Gilbert-Leichhardt region of north Queensland, and the Burdekin basin. At present, work is being done in the Fitzroy basin of central Queensland. The division has already classified, I think, most of the brigalow soils. The work is carried out by teams of five men, consisting of a leader, a soil surveyor, a geologist, a plant ecologist and an agriculturist. The type of survey that is undertaken is intended to pinpoint land suitable for further development. It was this broad approach that brought us to the finer points of research. It was found that the native grasses of the tropics were quite incapable of sustaining animals in the winter and the dry spring periods which followed, because they grow in the summer rainfall belt. The survey teams soon became aware that new plants had to be introduced, either to supplement the native pastures or to replace them altogether.
I am trying to focus the attention of the Senate on the need to expand the beef industry. Reference is made to this subject in the newspapers almost every day. We have a very good market in the United States of America, and the beef that is produced in our northern areas is particularly well suited to the American meat market. The beef industry normally does not need a straightout subsidy. We have been producing beef in Queensland, the Northern Territory and the northern part of Western Australia, probably not so lucratively as it is produced in the southern parts of Australia, and we have been able to do so without the aid of any particular subsidy. There is an expanding market for our beef and I think we should make sure that we have sufficient beef to meet the demands. I do not say that the grazing industry is at present 100 per cent, efficient, but I think it unlikely that the rate of turn-off will be increased very much if the present methods are adhered to. I believe that this fact has struck management very forcibly. Such matters as fencing and watering points receive proper attention, but I believe that unless we change our present system there could be danger ahead and it does lead to exploitation. The only safeguard we have is to develop pastures in line with the erection of fencing and the establishment of watering points.
I have spoken previously in the Senate of the research plans which led the C.S.I.R.O. and, to a lesser extent, the State departments, to embark on research into pasture improvement. I point out that it was the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Stock which evolved the tropical legume centre There is a plant growing in the vicinity of Townsville known as Townsville lucerne, but it is not a lucerne. It is a stylo, and its botanical name is Stylosanthes humilis. No one seems to know when it came to the area, but it is known that it came by accident. After it was first noticed it was found to be pretty well established in the Townsville area. It probably- “..became t. acclimatized. Because it was growing in the dry tropics it built up drought resistance. Most plants will become acclimatized in time, and in this instance the plant was a small one and it held on. The CS.l.R.O. became interested in it and decided to conduct experiments on it in combination with native spear grass. The project was commenced experimentally on the Rodds Bay station, about eighteen to twenty miles south of Gladstone. The CS.l.R.O. controlled the experiment but Mr. Des Shaw, who owns the property, carried out the work under its direction. About ten years’ effort has been put into it. The results have been really magnificent. I do not claim, of course, that Gladstone is in the northern zone, but it is in spear grass country, which is typical of millions of acres that can be developed by Townsville lucerne. The region that this plant can cover has now been fairly well checked. It is believed that it can be taken from Gladstone north to Cape York Peninsula, across the fringe of the gulf country, and possibly even further, into the Northern Territory. At this stage all of this area has been checked. Cape York Peninsula is not really spear grass country. Although there is spear grass there, it is not predominant, but there is another rough grass alongside which Townsville lucerne establishes itself quite well.
The cost of putting Townsville lucerne into spear grass country is very low. Mr. Shaw, who is the pioneer of this type of pasture, devised an implement based on a tractor. I have had a look at the machine. He can sow this plant for 12s. 6d. an acre, providing he can get seed for about 10s. per lb., which is the market price at the present time. The country is not cleared. All of it is open forest. He uses a standard tractor, mounted on the front of which is a shaped blade for pushing away logs and rubbish. At the back of the tractor is an ordinary standard set of offset discs. Mounted on top of these is a small engine which drives the scatterer, keeping it at a constant speed. The machine sows at the rate of 4 lb. of seed to the acre but as the whole area is not disced, the quantity used works out at about 1 lb. of seed an acre, costing 10s.
– Does the machine distribute* fertilizer?
– This is the one weakness. I am glad that the honorable senator asked the question. The weakness of the operation at this stage, in my opinion, is that superphosphate is not used with it. It is a well known fact that Queensland is not a great superphosphate State, but legumes establish themselves much more readily with superphosphate than without it. I was in the district last month to have another look at the experiment and I asked about this matter. Mr. Shaw told me that immediately the pasture was laid down it would be dressed aerially with superphosphate.
In good seasons this pasture has been known to take hold in two years, but there are not good seasons all the time, particularly in the tropics and sub-tropics. I should say that it might be five years before the pasture takes hold and the area is fully covered. The increase in carrying capacity is remarkable. Rodds Bay station has developed 3,000 acres. There has been an opportunity to compile records and make careful estimates of the result of laying this pasture. Taking into account quicker turnoff and increased carrying capacity, total turn-over can be increased to nine or even ten times the figure under native grass conditions. I checked this estimate last week with the CS.l.R.O. and I was informed that it was quite accurate, that officers of the organization had themselves done this checking.
Townsville lucerne came to Australia by accident. I think that it is a Brazilian plant, although it may be Mexican. Its success led to the search for other tropical legumes. Now we have sixteen of them. One of them, siratro, was bred in Brisbane by Dr. Mark Hutton from a Mexican wild plant. I have referred to it in this chamber previously. It is a winner, being as good dry as it is green. It is drought resistant and highly nutritious and it has a wide range of application. I think Senator Scott mentioned in the chamber last year that it was doing well at Katherine. I have seen it in spear grass country in north Queensland and it is a very useful legume indeed. It has to be confined to warm climates because it is not quite frost-resistant. Already a programme to breed a frostresistant strain of siratro has been put in hand. I was speaking a week or two ago to Dr. Davis, who is in charge of the
C.S.I.R.O. establishment in Brisbane. He said that there were hopes of a breakthrough.
Another variety is lotononis which comes from Africa. It has not yet been used in agriculture in any other country. It is probably a higher rainfall type of plant, but an interesting experiment with it was carried out in the Gympie area in bladey grass country. Within a few months it took control of the blady grass patch into which it was sown without any cultivation. We do not know what the use of this variety will be. There is another species called desdemodium. Only one of these varieties has been used in a minor way anywhere else in the world.
Looking back on the past ten years, one must surely acknowledge that wonderful progress has been made. Other countries have become interested in these plants, which are growing in Taiwan, Thailand, the Philippines, eastern and central Africa, and Brazil. All of these countries report satisfactory results with them in tropical agriculture. I believe that Australia could well prove to be the leader in this field. I mention these facts because we are not the only people who have had trouble in developing agriculture or grazing in the tropics.
Honorable senators might be thinking that I have gone a long way round to get to the northern division of the Department of National Development. I do not know how this division will work, but there is an opportunity to tie these ends together with the assistance of experts - or is it too much to ask that we get experts - such as those we have, say, in the Bureau of Mineral Resources. That bureau is very successful, I believe, because its officers get out into the field, study the problems, and do something. If we merely establish another paper department we will be no more successful than previously in the development of northern Australia.
I have spoken about Townsville lucerne, which might take five years to cover a pasture. This is an indication that ordinary bank finance is quite useless. Perhaps financial arrangements could be co-ordinated by agricultural and banking experts or economists from the northern division of the Department of National Development. Perhaps we could have experts to go out and examine the problem properly. Perhaps, too, we could have closer liaison with the State governments. It might not be asking too much to request that a certain sum of money be set aside by the Commonwealth Development Bank for long-term projects in the development of the tropics, especially in northern Australia. There have been many approaches to this.
Senator Morris spoke of facility subsidies. This could be an important step, and what I suggest is not terribly far removed from a system of facility finance. Senator Kennelly spoke about dams. I asked by way of interjection whether he was referring to dams in the tropics and he said that he was not. I think that honorable senators, after proper consideration, will agree with me that dams are not a very good proposition if the capital cost is passed on to the landholder. I do not consider that there is any economic justification for building dams for straight agriculture. I do not believe there has ever been any economic justification for dams for this purpose in Australia. Let me make my meaning clear. I am not suggesting that these dams should not be built, but I am suggesting that if you apply the capital cost properly, that is, add it to the costs of the farmer, then although he might have a dam, he will be in debt forever.
Senator Morris has just prompted me to say that if, in the development project, we could carry the cost of the dam, that is, bring it into the field of facility finance as I understand it, it might be worth while, but if the cost is to be passed on, as it usually is, to the man who is on the land, then I say the proposition is quite hopeless. Perhaps this new department will be able to have a look at this type of thing.
Although I have made some attempt to show where we might break through in a couple of instances, I do not want to oversimplify the matter. There are many other problems associated with it. Land tenure is one of them. I suppose that is the best known problem in Queensland. If you propose, to spend money on development, the least you can offer is security of tenure. Negotiability of land probably may not be taking it too far. For instance, fr/e .brigalow country has been attractive to, settlers, despite the big cost. I think that a 6,000 to 10,000 acre block of brigalow land will finally cost in the vicinity of £60,000, yet there are a lot of takers. The great attraction is freehold tenure; indeed, I am convinced that it is, and a department that is wide awake to development, one that is trying to do something new, might well discuss this problem with the State Governments, and might be able to give some guide on the side of land tenure.
– What is holding up freehold tenure in Queensland?
– The Minister for Lands, as far as I can see. I think that is a good answer. I hope it is right. Of course, we have had a long period of Labour government in Queensland.
– That was a long time ago.
– No. The present Government has been in office for only seven years. It would take quite a while to correct the position.
– Do you believe that seven years is not long?
– Seven years is not long when you are looking at matters relating to the land. Any experienced man knows that a changeover from one form of tenure to another over-night does not necessarily solve the problem.
– Probably the public servants still believe in leaseholds.
– They might, but let me say seriously on behalf of the Queensland Government that even though the ultimate aim may be freehold tenure, a change from leasehold to freehold overnight does not mean that you will get the land used properly. I believe that freehold tenure should be the objective. What is needed is a system of land development leases with freehold tenure as the prize, and I think the Queensland Government is now setting about that type of development. That is what has been done in the brigalow country.
– Freehold is an incentive.
– Yes, I agree that it is an incentive, and it should be the objective.
Senator Benn spoke about the sugar industry yesterday and painted a fairly good picture of the expansion taking place in it. I mention the sugar industry because in it we have security of tenure. We also have a thorough understanding of the problems associated with it. Settlers will follow the sugar industry to the ends of the earth. There is no problem about getting takers in sugar country. It offers security, although it does not offer as much money as some of the Victorians think it does. There are no sugar barons, as I understand the term, and I have been on the land myself and learned the hard way. But the industry docs offer security, and although it is in the tropics, we see something like £20,000,000 worth of expansion carried by the industry itself.
The first interesting feature that I should like to mention is the fact that there are between 10,000 and 15,000 applicants for the 1,000 new farms that we expect to put into production in the current expansion programme. The two qualifications necessary are first that you must have the land and, secondly, that you must have the wherewithal to develop it.
– What is the average acreage?
– In the present set-up of the sugar industry, the average would be in the vicinity of 70 to 80 acres in production.
– Is it freehold?
– In the main, it is freehold.
– Would it be 70 to 80 acres in crop or in .reduction?
– I think the average assignment would be between 70 and 80 acres. Three parts of that can be used for cane production in any one year, but you cannot go outside the fence. It is strictly controlled. Senator Benn pointed out yesterday that until proper arrangements are made for the operation of controls, sugar can be grown on any assigned land, but I point out that no farmer will be able to go out into the scrub to grow it. He must have boundaries round his crop. Until the controls do operate, a farmer may grow cane on any assigned land for the coming crop and an attempt will be made this season to produce 2,000,000 tons.
I should like now to say a word or two about the Ord River dam because this is the type of dam on which some of our hopes will be built. I was at the Ord some eighteen months ago and had a look at the diversion weir which had been completed. At that time water was already on the farms and cotton, safflower and a little sugar cane, were being grown. 1 thought the producers might have been content to carry on for a little while in order to add some practical knowledge to the theory of development. I believe that the projected sugar development in the area has been tackled by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. 1 also believe that the sugar politics difficulties with the industry in Queensland and northern New South Wales, and with the Queensland Government have been ironed out. I should think that sugar will grow there, but it will cost a tremendous amount of money to establish an industry.
– Are you still able to sell all the sugar that is grown in Queensland or are you still having to burn some or dig some in?
– The sky is the limit at the moment. We can se a lot of sugar. Of course, the Queensland people are very cunning when it comes to marketing. The sugar agreement negotiated with Great Britain provides for the delivery of about 300,000 tons annually. This agreement is negotiated annually and usually continues in force for eight or nine years. The present agreement continues until 1967. At the expiration of each year another year is added to the term of the agreement. The agreement in force with Japan until 1967 provides for 350,000 to 400,000 tons annually, and it looks as though next year Japan may take 450,000 tons. So there is a market for sugar, and there would be a market for Western Australian sugar. I have looked at the Ord River district and I think it would grow sugar. I think also that the Humpty Doo flats in the Northern Territory, where they have had a problem with geese in the rice project, would grow sugar.
– If you over-produce you will come down here and raise Cain!
– That is all right, so long as you do not try to raise Cain when we are trying to get an increase in price of a halfpenny per lb. 1 am quite convinced that if a sugar industry were established in the Ord River district the problem of population in that area would be solved. People will follow the sugar industry. By the time a mill was set up and farms and transport provided, the cost would be probably in the vicinity of £8,000,000. 1 think it would cost between £4,500,000 and £5,000,000 to build a modern sugar factory. However, I believe that that obstacle is surmountable. If we are serious about wanting to develop this area, I think we should give serious consideration to the establishment of a sugar industry. As I have said, I would have been happier if we had taken a little more time to develop the pilot farms. We would then be able to say that we know we can do it, rather than that we think we can do it. 1 am convinced that we can do a lot now that will contribute to the development of northern Australia. We can do this by using knowledge that we did not have ten years ago but that we have at our fingertips to-day.
– To-day I want to discuss some aspects of the recent report in regard to smoking, on which I did not find much help when I perused the Governor-General’s Speech, lt seems that nothing is to be done about illhealth caused by smoking. I propose to refer the Senate to the report of the College of Physicians, which was issued in 1962, and to the report on smoking and health just issued by a special advisory committee that was set up in the United States of America. The findings must have a very profound effect on people who think. Those people who are able to think clearly must be affected by the reports. Conversely, of course, there is an excessive burden of irresponsibility and guilt on those who choose to ignore the reports. I do not want it to be said that I am expressing merely my own ideas and opinions, so I shall give the Senate a few facts. If we make a comparison of the mortality rates of male cigarette smokers and male nonsmokers we find the following ratios: - for all causes of death, the ratio is 1.6S : 1 - nearly twice as large in smokers as it is in non-smokers. With cancer of the lung, the ratio is 10.8; with bronchitis and emphysema, it is 6.1; with cancer of the larynx, 5.4; with oral cancer, 4.1; with cancer of the oesophagus, 3.4; with peptic ulcer, 2.3; with groups of circulatory diseases, 2.6; and with coronary artery disease, 1.7.
– Does that apply only to cigarette smoking?
– Yes, to cigarette smoking. The American committee of inquiry made several judgments. I think the Senate should be aware of these things because I believe that we treat this problem in a very light-hearted fashion. People are inclined to say, “It does not worry me; v/hy should I do anything about it? “ They do not stop for a moment to think about the effect on the rest of the nation.
The first thing that the American committee found was that cigarette smoking contributed substantially to morbidity from certain specific diseases and to the overall death rate. Second, it found that cigarette smoking is related to lung cancer and that the magnitude of its effect far outweigh all other factors, including occupational exposure. I think that should be stressed, because red herrings are brought into the argument and it is suggested that cigarette smoking is not the only cause. But I do not want to express my opinions on these judgments; so I will just read them out. I think they will then be more realistic. One finding was that cigarette smoking is the most important of the causes of chronic bronchitis and increases the death rate from chronic bronchitis and emphysema. The next finding was that the relative importance of cigarette smoking in cancer of the lung and pulmonary disease is much greater than that of atmospheric polution. The last finding that I want to mention is that male cigarette smokers have a higher death rate from coronary artery disease than nonsmoking males.
– Are you referring to the British report?
– No, to the American report. The American report followed closely on the British report, and it just happened that the impact of the findings was greater when the British report was confirmed by the American report.
– The reports are parallel?
– Yes. It is not only because of lung cancer that we should give up smoking. In my opinion, smoking is not only the greatest causative agent in cancer of the lung but it also increases the morbidity of the nation. This is what we must realize. You may get cancer of the lung if you smoke, but you may also get chronic bronchitis and emphysema, you may also get coronary artery disease, and you may also get a peptic ulcer. All those diseases are included in the risks taken by people who smoke. The fact that smoking is the greatest single factor in regard to the morbidity of the nation must weigh very heavily with the various Ministers for Health.
The greatest deterrent to the abolition of cancer of the lung is not the cigarette; it is the shareholder of the tobacco company and the shareholder of the television company. Without cigarette advertising, their companies could not live. Without sales of cigarettes, and without cigarette advertising, both classes of shareholder would be affected. It is because of this, I am afraid, that so pathetically little has been done about smoking and cancer. All honorable senators will recall the furore about the thalidomide babies. There were deformities which we could see, so we immediately stepped in and said we must do something. We did not stop to argue whether the Commonwealth Minister or the State Ministers for Health were responsible. With lung cancer however a statement has been issued by either the Commonwealth Minister for Health or a State Minister of Health to the effect that we cannot do anything because the connexion with smoking has not been proved. We did not wait to see whether a connexion had been proved in the case of thalidomide, although I must admit that the Commonwealth authority was a bit slow in taking action. From the time they knew about thalidomide it took four months to take action. Nevertheless action was taken when it was realized that there was an association between thalidomide and deformities in babies.
– We did not wait to see whether action would affect the drug companies.
– That is true. 1 will come to the drug companies later. We did not say that we would not do anything about banning thalidomide because the Ministers for Health had decided that the thing to do was to educate the mothers. This is what we are told about cigarette smoking. We did not wait to educate the mothers not to take drugs during their pregnancies; we banned the drug, not immediately, but eventually. 1 have a very cynical thought that is prompted by the last interjection. With thalidomide, only one drug company had been concerned. If every drug company had been concerned, I wonder whether that drug would have been banned. That may be very cynical, but nevertheless it is a thought.
– lt was only one of the products, too.
– It was only one of the products. With thalidomide, we did not hesitate. We did not say: “ We must educate the mothers. We must find out whether there is proof that the drug is causing these deformities.” We acted quickly. But because lung cancer cannot be seen, we close our eyes to it and say, “ Do not worry any more about it “. Why is it that we are so particular about morphine, heroin and cocaine, drugs of addiction which also affect morbidity These drugs are completely banned although they are no worse than cigarettes. Yet we do not do a thing about cigarettes.
I want every honorable senator to ask himself a couple of questions. First of all, does he believe this report? No one expects honorable senators to read the report, but they can get abstracts or summaries of it which have been publicized. Say to yourself: “ Do I believe it or do I not ?” There are no two ways about it. Either you believe this report or you do not. We should believe it if we believe that these people are genuine and honest. I cannot believe that any of the persons on this committee were paranoiacs with a grudge against the tobacco companies and that in consequence they would try to bring out a finding to attack the companies. [ think that they were honest men and that they brought out an honest report. If you believe the report you must ask yourself, “What am I going to do’ about it ?”. Why do honorable senators sit here “ arid do’ nothing? I suggest that each honorable senator, when he goes back to his State, should ask the State Minister for Health what he is doing about it. I will ask the federal Minister for Health now to save honorable senators from doing so. Does the federal Minister for Health believe this report? Later on I should like him to answer - “ yes “ or “ no “. I should also like each State Minister for Health to tei us whether he believes in it or not. If either a Stale Minister or the federal Minister for Health does not believe in the report let him get up and tell us why so that we can follow his scientific reasoning.
If the Minister does believe in the report the next question to ask him is what he has done about it. Only recently, before a conference of Ministers for Health, 1 suggested that the Ministers should consider the banning of cigarette smoking. They did have a conference but nothing came out of it. All we heard was the usual clap-trap: “ My department is studying the report. There are other factors.” Of course there are other factors. Every one knows that is so. These are red herrings that are dragged across the trail - diesel oil, cigarette papers, smog and so on. Let me remind honorable senators that the greatest single causative agent of lung cancer is smoking. Whilst the Ministers for Health procrastinate and worry about how to avoid doing anything - the only positive action they have taken is to avoid doing anything - another cancerous growth is commencing in some other young person. That is a thought. Whilst we do nothing some one else is starting a cancerous growth. Bui, of course, we cannot worry very much!
The Ministers for Health came out of their conference and all they said was, “ We will educate the people,” and “ We will counteract the advertising of the cigarette companies.” That was the most puerile thought that ever came out of a conference of Ministers for Health. Think of the vast sums of money that these companies put into their television advertising. You can imagine the type of advertising that the departments of health would put out. I do not watch television very much so I do not know how this is done, but on television and on the films too, you have magnificent advertising encouraging young people to smoke when they are young and active and that the thing to do it to smoke. Following this there would be a little insignificant advertisement by the departments of health stating: “Please do not smoke. You will get cancer of the lung.” I do not know which advertisement people will believe. That is all that came out of the conference.
If these Ministers for Health were honest with themselves and believed that their portfolios were concerned with the health of the community, they would do something positive. If the reason why they do not do anything is that their governments will not allow them then, if they believe in their portfolios, and if they believe that preventive medicine is the very foundation of any department of health, they should resign from their portfolios to impress on their governments that they at least, as well as their departments, believe in this report. If they did that people would take notice of them. There is no doubt that several of the Ministers are perturbed about smoking but cannot do anything because the governments of which they are members will not allow them. The tragedy in Australia is of weak men putting forth weaker excuses. What can we do?
The federal Minister for Health at another time when I asked a question said that he could do nothing about advertising because it was controlled by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. Both departments are departments of the same Government. Surely the Minister for Health has enough influence now that he is a senior man in the Government. He should be able to convince his colleagues that the time has come to alter the Postmaster-General’s control of advertising so that he, as Minister for Health, has the power to stop all this. It can be done easily if the Minister wants to do it. If the Government wants to appoint three new Ministers it can do so but if the Minister for Health wants to do something about health apparently every obstacle is put in his road. If, at the conference to which I have referred, all of the State Ministers and the federal Minister for Health had decided to do something the federal Minister could have given the State Ministers a model agreement which each State could have implemented, with the result that we would have a tight control on smoking. The Government has done this in relation to tuberculosis, divorce laws and company law. There ‘is no doubt that vested interests are so involved that their power is formidable. Talks are held but nothing is done. Not only money, but the electorate is involved. Any action that is taken will affect from 60 per cent, to 70 per cent, of the electorate. The Government does not want to lose votes. It does not want to do anything that will prevent it from remaining in office.
Then finally we come to the usual statement that is made, namely that the freedom of the individual must be safeguarded. I have yet to hear more poppy-cock than that when a matter of health is involved. I am not sure whether these were the words of the federal Minister or one of the State Ministers, but a Minister for Health said that it was up to individuals to assess the dangers and make their decisions with a mature sense of personal responsibility. They are wonderful words, but they do not mean a thing. When the thalidomide crisis occurred why did we not leave it to the sense of the mothers? No! We stepped in. The Government should step in again.
Let me get down to some practical points concerning what we can do. The first thing is that we can ban all advertising. I do not think any one will disagree with that except the shareholders of newspapers and of tobacco companies. Any mother will agree that you should ban cigarette advertising on television, in the press, on hoardings and everywhere. If cigarette advertising is allowed, why not allow advertising for morphine, heroin and cocaine? What is wrong with a little shot of cocaine? After all, people of mature sensibilities can decide for themselves! A little shot of cocaine will help you along for a party, so let us have it!
– They tell me heroin is good.
– The Minister for Customs and Excise banned it completely, but the Government will not ban cigarettes. I do not want to ban them altogether, but certainly we should ban the advertising of cigarettes.
We do nothing to refute the misstatements issued by tobacco companies at present. When you see a full page advertisement for Rothman cigarettes suggesting that the filter protects you, von assume that the filter does something to help you. It has been shown that the filtered cigarette has no benefit compared with the unfiltered cigarette - none whatever except that you do not get tobacco in your mouth. I believe there is one exception: There is a Capstan cigarette that has an effective filter.
– Do notgive them a plug.
– I am not interested in any of them. As far as the other filter-tip cigarettes are concerned, you may as well cut off the filter for all the good they do. The present advertising is false. The Government should step in and stop advertising which suggests that by having a filter some good will be achieved.
All advertising directed towards the young is pernicious and should be abolished, but I go further and suggest that all advertising of cigarettes should be banned. The second thing I suggest is the banning of vending machines. All the States should get together and ban vending machines which make it so easy to get cigarettes. We do not allow dangerous drugs to be handled publicly. Why is it, then, that we allow cigarettes to be sold in hotels and cafes and other easily accessible places? Their sales should be restricted to tobacconists. If a person does not buy his requirements before five o’clock at night he should not be able to get them, as is the case with other commodities. I come to the third point, namely the effect on excise duty. Taxation will have tobe increased in other fields.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
- Mr. President,I was basing my remarks on reports about smoking. The findings must have profound effect on those who really think about the problem. Conversely, there must be an excessive burden of irresponsibility and guilt on those who choose to ignore the findings. That is why I am trying to stress the points thatI have made. Before the suspension for lunch I was going through some of the positive actions that could be taken to prevent smoking but which State Ministers for Health and the Commonwealth Minister for Health (Senator Wade) have failed to take. I refer to the ban on advertising. By simple legislative actionin both Houses of this Parliament we could assume control over advertising. Advertising in the press, on the radio, in pictures and so forth should be banned. I suggest that we should ban the use of vending machines and restrict the sale of tobacco to tobacconists, thus making it more difficult for people to get cigarettes.
I come now to the imposition of excise duties. I do not smoke, but I understand that in England cigarettes produced by the Benson and Hedges organization cost considerably more than they do here. In other words, the excise duty in England is greater than it is here. It cannot be said that to increase excise duty alone will stop smoking, but nevertheless it would have a restraining effect. Let me mention a matter of personal experience. My son, who drives a car to the university, was finding it financially difficult to continue running the car. I pointed out that all he had to do was to give up cigarettes or give up the car. He gave up cigarettes. To think of smoking in terms of pounds, shillings and pence, is one way of reducing the habit of smoking. If the Government were to raise the excise duty on cigarettes, many more people would give up smoking. We should not stop at asking, “ Where will the money come from if we do not receive so much in excise duty?” There are plenty of other ways to raise revenue.
Some people may describe excise duty as being an iniquitous tax. Other people like myself think that a poll tax is iniquitous. Certainly once people give up smoking the revenue received from excise duty will be reduced. Even if smoking is reduced as a result of increasing the excise duty, the loss will be made up in other ways. It will be made up in several indirect ways. If people give up smoking not only will they not get lung cancer but the cost of the nation’s medical services will be reduced. Honorable senators have only to look around their friends, especially their elderly friends, and parents to see how many people are coughing and are suffering from chronic bronchitis and emphysema. I am not saying that all those people have been heavy smokers but that as a rule they would have been. If smoking were reduced, the Government’s contribution to the cost of our medical services would decrease and in that way the loss of excise duty would be offset.
Have honorable senators ever thought of the effect on the gross national product of cigarette smoking? If it is true - and I believe it is - that various illnesses and the morbidity of the nation are increased by cigarette smoking, there would not be the same loss of man hours in industry if cigarette smoking were stopped. The result would be that the gross national product would increase.
– What is emphysema?
– It is rather difficult to describe in a few words. It is a loss of elasticity in the lung tissue.
– It would be all right to smoke a pipe.
– Pipe smoking and the smoking of cigars would produce these illnesses to a lesser degree than does cigarette smoking.
– What is the reason for that?
– I do not want to go into all the technical reasons now, but I understand that it has something to do with the cigarette paper itself and that if one were to switch over to the new cigarellos that one firm is marketing one would be no better off because they are putting cigarette paper into that product. The loss of excise because people were smoking less would be offset by the increase in available manpower. Any doctor would be able to tell honorable senators about the number of people he puts off work each week because of chronic bronchitis, the various other lung diseases and peptic ulcers. Cigarette smoking causes not only lung cancer. Let us not forget that coronary disease is increased by cigarette smoking. All these conditions mean the loss of many man-days. Accordingly, the gross national product must be reduced. So, if the Government was not receiving so much direct revenue because of a reduction of smoking following an increase in the rate of excise duty, it would be gaining indirectly in that the nation would be healthier, there would be a greater output of work, and the cost of medical services would be reduced.
The only suggestion that the Ministers for Health have come up with is that of educating the public. I have been scathing about this. I believe that education alone cannot do any good. There was no talk about educating prospective mothers when the effects of thalidomide became apparent. We did not, stop to educate those people.
We banned the use of thalidomide. Education certainly plays its part, but it is only for the young. Of course, that is where we must start. We must ensure that smoking in schools is ridiculed. When we were at school one was regarded as being the big boy or the hero of the school if one went down behind the gymnasium or one of the lavatories and smoked. If you could sneak in some cigarettes, or could make them and smoke them, all the little boys looked up to you and thought what a hero you were. Such boys should now be made the villains in the piece. We should be just as horrified about that as we would be about school children having reefers, cocaine, heroin or whatever else you like. That is where education can play a part.
Of what value is education if it is not followed up by example? That is where we come in. Of course, there is no reason why the older community should give up smoking. To take an arbitrary figure, I have maintained that if people of more than 30 to 35 years of age are to get cancer they will get it in any case. I have no reason for adopting that arbitrary figure; it is one that occurs to my own mind. Until people get out of the habit of smoking, just as some people have to get out of the habit of opium smoking, we should let the older generation smoke, except for one reason - the example that is set for the young people. How can a person say in all good conscience to his children, “You cannot smoke but I can “? One just cannot do that. For that reason, I condemn smoking altogether in all age groups. But if we must have an arbitrary point below which people should not smoke, I would set it at between 30 and 35 years of age. It is of no use just trying to educate the young and of our saying to them, “You will get lung cancer if you smoke “. They will ask, “ Well, Daddy, why are you smoking? “ Or they will say to their mother, “ Mummy, why are you smoking? “ So the parents of the nation must give up smoking, too.
Parents are extremely keen about having their children immunized against diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus. None of those diseases necessarily kills, but it can. They do cause morbidity and ill health. So mothers rush to have their babies immunized. It is quite right for them to do so. I am quite certain that if mothers could be similarly impressed in regard to smoking, they would give it up. If they could be impressed with the fact that smoking opens the way to the contracting of a preventable disease, by giving up smoking they would set an example to their children. During the suspension of the sitting I was shown a picture in a newspaper which appeared under a beautiful caption.
– It was in the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “.
– It depicted a child a certain number of month. old.
– It was a child of twenty months.
– That child had learnt to smoke; it was represented as being a wonderful achievement. So it is, physiologically. But is it a wonderful achievement to try to encourage everybody eis; in Australia to start smoking at the ..gc of twenty months? I think this sort of publicity is bad. Surely the newspapers have a moral responsibility in the matter. Judging by this picture, one would not think, so. I know some of the leading owners of the press. They are great people. I suppose they have to leave these matters to their editors. But they do not realize that they have a harmful influence on the public when they allow such pictures tj appear in the press and allow advertisers to say: “ Our cigarette has a filter. Therefore it is good. “ It is a deliberate lie £.nd they publish it because it gets them so much income.
I do not want to labour this matter. 1 think I have said enough about both reports on smoking to show that something could be done instead of the negative approach that has been adopted by the State Ministers for Health as well as, unfortunately, by the Commonwealth Minister for Health. He just will not do anything, either, and he has no excuse. He has a department and could come straight out and take a definite stand in this matter as every State Minister should do. He should answer these questions: Do you believe in the report? If you do, what are you going to do about it? If you do not, tell us your scientific reasons why you do not believe it.
I want to revert, now, to several subjects I have mentioned before because perhaps in my six years in this Parliament I might get something done about them. So far, I have only one achievement: Old people are allowed to insure with two insurance companies whereas previously they could insure only with one. That is a minor achievement of mine. But I want to refer now to mental pensioners. There is only one Minister in the chamber at the moment and I am sorry the Minister for Health is not here. Could we have a straight answer to this question: Why does a man who becomes mentally ill and goes into a mental hospital lose his pension? I have the official reply. It takes up a whole foolscap sheet and all it states, in effect, is that this has never been done before. That is why the pension cannot be paid to such patients. That is the official reason. The reply does not even state whether payment of the pension to mental patients would cost money. I do not know what it would cost. When I asked a question on that point, I was told it would cost about £5,000,000 a year.
But what right have we to continue this practice? Each honorable senator I have spoken to on this subject from both sides of the House has agreed with me, yet the Government will do nothing about it. Surely there is no justice for the people concerned while this practice continues. I know that the answer I usually get from the Minister for Health is that this has something to do with the States. What has it to do with the States? There has to be a master in lunacy or some equivalent officer in each State. They handle the people’s money while they are in mental institutions. This is not an acceptable excuse.
Since 1952, so far as I know, each State Minister for Health has been prepared to support the Commonwealth Government and to bring in legislation to provide for the payment of the pension if legislation is needed. There is no justification for what is being done now yet honorable senators sit on their seats and do nothing. No one on the Government side will disagree with me - at least not openly. If they disagree with me they should say so. If they do not think that the mentally ill should be treated as the physically ill’ are treated they should do something about it. But they do nothing.
– Do not the mentally ill get free hospital treatment in lieu of the pension?
– So does a pensioner.
– Not continuously all the time they are in hospital.
– That is the trouble. Senator Wright is speaking of the old days when a mentally ill person was incarcerated, perhaps, as a baby and lived in a mental hospital until he died. To-day, the whole outlook on mental health has advanced. There are very few mental patients who stay in hospital more than six or eight months at a time. Perhaps they do not stay that long. Not more than 5 per cent, or 10 per cent, of them would be treated over a period as long as five years.
– During the period they are in hospital, they are getting a great social benefit.
– So do you if you are physically ill and a pensioner. What ;s the difference? If the honorable senator fractured his leg and went into a general hospital as a pensioner, it would not cost him anything although he could be there for six months.
– The pension is doubled if a patient is in hospital with tuberculosis.
– That is so. But there is no justification for such a patient’s leaving the hospital and spreading the germs and so those patients are given a full pension. There is no hardship there but they are not really pensioners.
– But the patient with tuberculosis is sick.
Senator TURNBULL__ We have to stop distinguishing between physically and mentally ill. You cannot understand this situation until you stop making that distinction. There is no difference between the two. This practice should have gone long ago. There are more beds required for the mentally ill than for the physically ill. Ministers for Health in every State accept this fact . yet the Commonwealth Government will not take action and will not give one reason whY the practice to which I have referred is continued except that payment of pensions to mental patients has never been made in the past and so it cannot be done in the future. I will keep on plugging this. I am sorry the Minister for Health is not here but I will send him a copy of my speech in “ Hansard “.
– What proportion of the mental hospital population is in hospital for less than twelve months?
– I do not know but I could try to find out for the honorable senator. I turn now to medical benefits. The Government was praised for increasing its contribution to medical benefits for a consultation from 6s. to 8s. I praise the Government also but it has taken this step some six years too late. Perhaps it is better late than never. We have now increased the rate of benefit by 20 per cent. Members of Parliament increased their salaries by 80 per cent, and now they have increased the medical benefit from 6s. to 8s. That is a good thing for the public but we still have the problem of item four in the scale. This is provision for a first special consultation. No increased benefits will accrue under this item and why it was put in nobody knows. If a patient goes to a specialist and the consultation is classified under item four, the same amount of refund is paid as if the patient had gone to a general practitioner.
Recently there has been an attempt by the specialists themselves to get the Minister to increase the provision under item four so that there would be an accrued benefit to the patient of 12s. instead of 6s. Then most of the societies would pay two and two-third times the benefit and the patient would receive something over £1 12s. in respect of a visit to a specialist. This proposal was hit on the head because it was brought to the attention of general practitioners by a well-known doctor who wrote in the “ Australian Medical Journal “. The general practitioners then got up in arms and the Minister agreed not to do anything about an increase in item four. But the Minister who has complete power over the societies has overlooked the fact that he has done nothing whatever about them. They have arbitrarily taken it upon themselves to decide who are specialists and who are not specialists. There are no registers of specialists except in Queensland.
But the societies have stated that they will recognize a specialist and quite contrary to Commonwealth Government policy they have increased their benefits - not the Commonwealth benefits under item four but the societies’ benefits - in respect of those whom they regard as specialists.
How did this come about? Why did the Commonwealth Minister for Health, who has supported the general practitioners in refusing to increase the Commonwealth benefit under item four, allow the societies to do so? The societies did so because they have medical people on their boards and most are specialists. They are looking after their own kith and kin and they got their societies to pay a higher contribution. The College of General Practitioners objects to this on the ground that a specialist cannot have it both ways. He may be a consultant specialist in which case we refer patients to him and he gets higher fees. That is all right. We think he should be paid more than the general practitioner. But we do not think that people should be able to walk in off the street and see a specialist and receive a higher refund of his fee. Unfortunately, the trend is towards specialization, but 90 per cent, of the patients that a doctor sees can be treated by a general practitioner in the first instance, thus reducing the cost to the Commonwealth. That is one of the reasons why the Federal Minister for Health agreed not to increase item four. However, they have got in through the back door and have got the societies to increase item four. The Minister has complete power and should be able to stop this back door approach.
The Minister for Health says that each State should have its own specialist list, but it is an extremely difficult thing to do, especially in the case of young specialists. The definition that has been circulated amongst branches of the Australian Medical Association is that in order to qualify as a specialist a doctor must be engaged full time in his specialty. I suggest that if a doctor were to attempt to do that in such provincial towns as Launceston, Geelong, Bendigo, Ballarat, Grafton, Tamworth and Lismore he would starve. If he wanted to be a specialist he would have to be in the specialist group and on the specialists register. If he was on the register he could not accept patients unless they were suffer- ing from the disease in which he were specializing. Therefore, from the point of view of the young practitioner it is a bad thing to have a specialists list. Socially, a doctor might want to be on the list, but if some doctors were on it they would starve. On the other hand, there might be a very good doctor who had a need to be on the specialists list, and although other medical men might refer patients to him because of his ability, he would not be entitled to a higher benefit because he was not on the list. Therefore, it is a two-edged weapon.
We do not believe that such a list is of benefit to the general practitioner, and it is certainly only of benefit to the olde specialists. They should have made their money by now and should not want a specialists list so that they can get higher pay. I believe quite firmly that the only reason that these older men want a specialists list is in order to be able to approach the Federal Minister again - they did so previously and were knocked back - with a demand that because they are specialists higher benefits should accrue to them. That would be a bad thing for the general practitioners and also for the health of the community, because without the general practitioners I do not think that the health services of the nation could be run economically.
I wish again to plead with the Minister for Health to do a simple thing. If I ask honorable senators whether they agree with me or not, they do not have to say yes or no. They may say, “ We will think it over”. I know that most honorable senators in their hearts agree with me in the matter that I am about to put forward. Why should a single girl who has a baby be debarred from receiving benefits? Is there any sense in that position? At such a time the girl concerned has sufficient mental anguish and trouble in having her baby. Nevertheless, she is debarred from receiving medical benefits because it is illegal, or some such rot as that. Surely, we should not be so mid-Victorian as still to believe that a single girl must be punished for her sins.
– “ Cruel “ is the word.
– Yes, it is. Why cannot the premium for a single female, if we want to put it in that way, be slightly higher than that for a single male? I do not care how it is done. I do not think it is necessary to increase the premiums at all, because the societies are making enough profit now. We find that the medical benefit societies are making profits of as much as £5,000,000, and they could carry a loss on single girls. The number of single girls having babies is increasing.
I think that the Minister should do something in this matter, even if the insurance funds do not want it. He could set up a special fund, as he did with the old people. There could be a special fund for single mothers or widows having babies. There is no reason why they should have to save the additional money. After all, at such a time they are trying to pull through the emotional tangle into which they have got themselves. The Minister will not do anything in the matter, but if the backbenchers on the Government side prod the Government about it we may get it attended to.
I ask honorable senators whether or not they believe that what I am saying is true. Do they not agree that a single girl should not be penalized because she is having a baby? If she goes into hospital she receives only £1 a day, and if she seeks medical attention she does not get the benefit because she is not covered. This is a ridiculous situation. I think that honorable senators opposite know in their hearts that it should not be allowed to continue. Yet, they sit here in this chamber and do nothing at all about it. I shall raise the matter again next year because I am sure that nothing will have been done about it by then.
I want to come to pharmaceutical benefits. I had intended to speak of other things to-day, but perhaps I had better confine my remarks to health matters. I have raised this question once before by way of chit-chat with the Minister in question and reply, but of course I did not get anywhere. I went on and saw him and did not get anywhere either, so that was not of much benefit.
– Why do you say, “ Of course I did not get anywhere “?
– Well, I did not get anywhere. I have been plugging away about pensioners for two years and have got nowhere, and I have been plugging for increased benefits for single girls having babies and I have not got anywhere with that, either. I have been plugging away on this question of pharmaceutical benefits for nearly a year. I think that I showed the Senate the humorous side of bureaucracy when I referred to the matter of eye drops. I do not want to go into it again. I merely say that the way in which the doctors were required to deal with certain eye drops was really humorous, and most honorable senators laughed when I told them about it.
I want to refer to a drug called amesec which is used in the treatment of asthma. It is a compound drug containing three ingredients - aminophylline, ephedrine and phenobarbitone or one of the butobarbitones. It has been tried and tested for three years in the treatment of asthma. I think it is the most popular of the four compound drugs that are being used for this purpose. It is a patent medicine. The first time I raised the matter the Minister said, virtually, “ Oh, you are in the pay of the drug companies “. A representative of one of the drug companies had come to see me. What else should he do but go to see a member of Parliament? But why should he need to go to see a member of Parliament? Why did not the Minister tell the medical profession that he intended to cut out prescriptions? Surely the first thing to do is to discuss such an intention with the medical profession..
– He has a panel to advise him, has he not?
– Yes, he has a panel of the pharmaceutical benefits committee, but I do not think it is very hot because many of its members are not practising doctors. Some of them are specialists. There is one general practitioner on it, but he is older than I am. I think you have to be a general practitioner in vigorous practice to know what is going on in medicine. Otherwise, you cannot keep up with the new developments.
A representative of a drug company came to me, and I raised the matter, but because 1 did so it was said I was in the pay of the drug companies. I raised it in this place and also privately with the Minister. He got the Director-General of Health to show me very carefully how you could get 100 of these capsules. A patient may have to take the capsules for months and months. Under the old scheme they could have been obtained for 5s. The Government discontinued free prescription of the drug, so patients could not get Amesec. I was told that a prescription could be written for so many grains of each of the three drugs and they would be made into one capsule, and that as many drugs as the doctor liked to prescribe could be ordered. But because of another rule, the doctor is allowed to order only twelve at a time, with two repeats. So, the patient may go to a doctor, whom the Commonwealth has shared in paying, and get a prescription for 36 capsules. When he goes to the chemist, those 36 capsules will cost him 15s. If we multiply that by three, in order to get about 100 capsules, the cost amounts to 45s. The additional cost must be borne by the patient and also by the Commonwealth. Apparently, that does not matter, although money is going down the drain.
– One visit to the doctor would entitle the patient to two repeats as well, would it not?
– Yes, but that would be 36 capsules. Previously, he could set 100 capsules for 5s. Can you blame the chemist for doing what he does? It is very difficult to mix those three ingredients and make them up into a capsule which is much smaller than a penny. To save time he gives you something which is the same, ingredient by ingredient and dosage by dosage. Everybody is happy and makes more profit. The doctor has three visits instead of,’ one and the chemist has prescriptions to make up, and this probably costs. the’ Government, all told, £3. To me, that is ‘‘stupidity, but one cannot get that into anybody’s head. That has been going on for a year.
Why did the pharmaceutical benefits committee do it? Our college wrote to the committee and asked why it was done. We got back a long letter saying that this com- mittee of seven members did not believe in compound drugs, so it would abolish them. That means that a whole series of compound drugs will be removed from the list. But the funny thing was that the day on which amesec was removed from the list, the committee introduced to the list another drug called Tedral. which is a double compound drug for asthmatics. No one can give us any explanation. When we attacked the committee on that, it replied, “ We are going to take it off “. This was in spite of the fact that they had just put it on the list. The stupidities enrage one who has to work with the act. Apart from the stupidities, why cannot the patient get something out of it? Surely if thousands of general practitioners say that bismuth is good for an ulcer it should be good. But no! Because seven men say that it is not good, it is off. For the past 100 years, bismuth has been a standard ingredient of mixtures and tablets for anyone with peptic ulcers or peptic indigestion, but to-day we cannot prescribe bismuth on the free medicine list. I do not know whether that is good or bad. It does not worry me, because I use aluminium hydroxide, which is just as effective. One day bismuth powders were the standard treatment. Everyone knew about them. Suddenly, one day they were no longer persona grata with the committee. That is the sort of committee that we have and that is why I have no time for it.
I have ambled through a few matters relating to health. I hope that as a result of my constant repetition ‘honorable senators will support me, if for no other reason than that they are sick and tired of hearing about these things. In conclusion, I support the expressions of loyalty to the Queen and the expressions of regret and sympathy contained in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech.
.- -It is with a sense of privilege that I join with those who have spoken already on the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply in expressing loyalty to the Throne. I use the word “ privilege “ advisedly, because I consider it an honour to be a member of this national Parliament, at the opening of which the Governor-General speaks as representative of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. demonstrating that Her
Majesty is Queen of Australia and that we are a people loyal to the Throne and to the concept of the Commonwealth of Nations. I, too, regret the necessity for the cancellation of the Queen Mother’s visit and I rejoice in her recovery from illness. I should like to share also in the expressions of sorrow on the death of President Kennedy and the tragic loss of valuable young lives in the disaster that befell H.M.A.S. “ Voyager “.
My colleagues have spoken of the high degree of prosperity in our country and of the plans for its further development. Under this Government we can face the future with the utmost confidence. The fact that this confidence is shared by many people throughout the length and breadth of Australia was most conclusively shown in the recent’ elections. I should like to speak on one or two matters to which reference was made in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. Reference was made in an early paragraph to the United Nations, and a little later to the Colombo Plan and the various types of aid1 given to those countries which cannot develop adequately alone. We can take great pride in the fact that Australia has recognized her responsibilities to those countries, and that we have endeavoured to raise the level of nutrition, standard of living, efficiency of production and distribution of agricultural products, and conditions of life in both rural communities and cities.
I read with very great interest a statement issued by the Department of External Affairs on 20th January this year on the twelfth annual report of the Colombo Plan Consultative Committee, to the effect that 21 member countries had contributed 13,820,000 dollars to the countries of south and South-East Asia since the commencement of the Colombo Plan. Australia’s contribution to capital aid and technical assistance totals £48,442,787. Last year our contribution under that heading was nearly £5,000,000. In addition to making these contributions, Australia has helped in the most worth-while work of educating the boys and girls of those countries. Last year 520 Colombo Plan students came to Australia. It is expected that early this year the number of such students who have come here since the inception of the plan will total 5,000.
In my work on the Overseas Students Co-ordinating Committee, I have met a number of these young men and women. It was a very great pleasure to welcome a number of newcomers in January. I was impressed by their eagerness and their thankfulness at being admitted to Australia to further their studies. Those with whom I spoke - young men who will study various branches of engineering and chemistry, and young women who will study, amongst other things, nursing and domestic science - are all anxious to return to their homes and help with the development of their countries.
We recall that in 1955 Australia commenced, under the Colombo Plan, a correspondence scholarship scheme. To the end of last year 3,223 awards had been made, the total cost of training being £7,240,000, which I consider to be money well spent. Not only are we training Asian students here but also we are sending experts to their countries. To the end of last year 744 advisers and experts were in the field. Visitors from those countries to Australia have told me of their appreciation of the help that is given in this way. We have provided technical equipment valued at over £2,000,000, which is helping to implement projects in fourteen countries. We have provided £35,790,000 in capital aid, since the inception of the scheme, for 1 20 projects in fourteen countries. In addition, we are contributing to the Indus Basin Development Fund.
The Governor-General referred to agencies of the United Nations. We contribute, of course, to that organization. Some of its agencies, such as the Food and Agriculture Organization, the Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, and the World Health Organization, are doing splendid work. We have contributed, too, through the international welfare and relief fund to the special African assistance plan. In 1962-63 we contributed nearly £76,000 to meet the expenses of experts and the cost of technical equipment supplied for educational research and the training of African students in Australia. I have met some of these African students and have been impressed by their calibre, by their intelligence and by their fluent and beautiful English. Despite all these efforts in which we have played a very active part, there are still thousands and thousands of men, women and children who are starving and there are still large areas of tension and distress, but I do sincerely hope that Australia will continue in this wonderful work.
That the Government intends to do so is evidenced by the fact that £5,000,000 was allocated in the Budget for the Colombo Plan, and this in spite of the fact that Australia itself is a developing country. Australia has now been recognized as a full regional member of the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East. This commission is meeting at the present time. The session is to last from 2nd to 17th March and Australia is attending for the first time as a full member. It seems that the greater part of the assistance given under the Colombo Plan comes from Australia, Britain, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and the United States of America. I do hope that our Government will continue to urge that the member countries fulfil their financial obligations to the United Nations and that more countries will be persuaded to join in the Colombo Plan to further this work which has a tremendous humanitarian value.
Further on in his Speech, the GovernorGeneral referred to the Territories of Papua and New Guinea. On looking through this reference 1 was reminded that during the debate on the Ministers of State Bill on Tuesday, Senator Benn referred to the Minister for Territories and went on to challenge an’y honorable senator to explain how the £25,000,000 which had been voted for the Administration of Papua and New Guinea was spent. And he also wanted to know how much had been spent on the welfare of the native population and whether it had been wisely spent. I would like to give a few details about that work.
Australia is indeed responsible for the trust Territory. Recently I received a letter from an official there who is also a friend of mine. He spoke of the new and exciting era in Papua and New Guinea. This excitement and sense of development have been brought about by the five-year plan which was initiated by this Government in 1962-63 and which is to continue until 1966-67. Last year showed accelerated development and this year there is to be an all-out effort in all departments. The amount provided in the estimates for 1963- 64 for the Department of Agriculture,
Stock and Fisheries is £1,390,400. In 1962-63 there were 125 professionally qualified European agriculture extension officers and approximately 416 indigenous agricultural assistants. All those officers and their assistants were engaged in research and in the work of educating New Guineans and Papuans in agriculture, the care and development of cattle, and so on. It is expected that in 1963-64 there will be an increase of twenty in the number of officers and of 100 in the number of indigenous assistants. In 1962-63, a new two-year course of training to sub-diploma level for these assistants was initiated at the agricultural college at Popondetta. It is planned to have a full agricultural course available by 1964-65 at the agricultural college being built at Vudal. Selected indigenous farmers are being trained at agricultural extension training centres. At present, there are 1,000 of these farmer trainees.
People who have been to Papua and New Guinea will remember the small plots of ground which are worked by the natives. It can be seen from the work done that there is a need to educate them further to develop their areas so that they may be able to make the best possible use of their country. Since the natives have been encouraged and taught how to produce food in excess of what they need themselves, rural progress societies and cooperative societies have been formed, and these organizations, urged on by the local government councils which are being formed throughout the Territory, are providing marketing services. Where it is not possible to provide a marketing service in this way, the Administration arranges it. I have seen the markets and the working of these co-operative societies and I know the keen interest that the New Guineans and Papuans are showing in this method of marketing.
When speaking of production, I think it is interesting to note that in 1961-62 cocoa beans amounting to 10,014 tons were exported. Another export was 3,344 tons of coffee and 4,680 tons of rubber were produced. Honorable senators will remember that we have given an undertaking that Australia will safeguard the interests of Papua and New Guinea in negotiating the International Cocoa Agreement.
Cattle-raising in Australia has been mentioned in this debate. This matter is also receiving a great deal of attention in Papua and in New Guinea, both to provide a better diet for the people and in the hope that presently there will be a certain amount of meat exported. I visited the livestock experimental station not very far out of Lae and there was told of the crossbreeding of brahmin and Afrikander cattle. The station is assisted by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Officers are also experimenting with native grasses and legumes with a view to providing proper fodder for the cattle. The total expenditure by the Administration on the purchase of livestock and the payment of subsidies on freights designed to encourage imports by private enterprise amounted to £47,308 in 1962-63. I was told also at Lae of the construction of a government abattoir to stimulate the development of the local industry. I believe that work is proceeding rapidly, that it is to cost £130,000 and that initially it will be able to cope with 300 carcasses weekly. The diet of the natives of Papua and New Guinea is sadly lacking in proteins and the native people are being encouraged to develop the fishing that is possible there. Research is being conducted at Port Moresby for this purpose. In the highlands they are being encouraged to establish fish ponds to be owned privately and by the administration. In 1962-63 a training course was instituted for the indigenous people to teach them to cope with and develop these fisheries.
One of the features that struck me very forcibly when travelling about the Territory was that many areas were thickly wooded whilst other mountain slopes were completely denuded. I was informed that that was the result of the natives setting fire to the area in order to capture bandicoots and other small animals to fill in their diet. An excellent afforestation programme is now being carried out. The proposed expenditure by the Department of Forests for 1963-64 is £419,200, and the afforestation area is about 2,000 acres. In order to carry out all this work further land development is needed. Those who own plots need to be trained in how to use them more adequately, and those who wish to acquire more land must be helped. So in 1963-64 the estimate of expenditure to carry out the land settlement policy is £678,000. It is planned that, during the five-year programme, 7,500 blocks will be provided for settlement. I could go on to illustrate by facts and figures the care that the administration is showing in mining and all other sections.
Referring now to secondary industries, in 1961-62 5,700 employees, of whom 4,536 were indigenous people, were employed in what could be classified as factories. Turning again to a most important field, education, the departmental expenditure in 1963-64 will be in the region of £4,000,000, and capital expenditure of £1,500,000 will be incurred on educational facilities. It has been estimated that there are 540,000 indigenous children and by the end of the five-year programme it is hoped that 350,000 children will be receiving an education comparable with the standards set by the Administration. I had the privilege to talk to boys and girls in primary, secondary and technical schools. I have the greatest admiration for them, for their obvious love of life and, in some cases, their love of learning. Naturally they have to be educated towards a desire to acquire education. All this must of course depend upon the number of teachers available. At present there is an intensified campaign for the recruitment of teachers, both in Australia and overseas. It was heartening to read that an extra 80 teachers proceeded to the Territory at the beginning of this year. The mission schools for a number of years have been doing tremendously worth while work. The grant in aid to those mission schools for 1963-64 is £549,000.
The same intensive programme is planned for public health. The base hospitals, where necessary, are being re-built. At Lae I saw a splendid one containing all equipment that could possibly be desired. Dotted through the highlands and the country are rural health centres and medical aid posts. These are staffed by Europeans and also by indigenous men and women who have been trained at Rabaul or Madang, or one of the other training centres. We were all intensely interested to read of the campaign for the Legislative Assembly election. It was interesting to know that the educational aids used throughout the Territory were provided by the Director of Visual Education at the University of Melbourne. Patrol officers and other people concerned travelled by devious means throughout the length and breadth of the Territory. It was indeed most encouraging to find that so many candidates from the indigenous population stood for election. I was interested to read in one of the daily papers of a woman candidate, Mrs. Ana Frank, who was standing in the Moresby electorate. It was most interesting and heartening to read of the energetic support that was given to her by the native women, who banded themselves together and sewed and sold clothes to raise money for her election campaign.
Going on through the various departments, I wish to refer now to roads and bridges, which are sadly needed. I travelled over the roughest kind of road and the narrowest of bridges. It is good to see that money is being allocated for that purpose. An allocation is to be made also for the extension of air and shipping services. In Madang, which is the busiest airport in Papua and New Guinea, it is planned to extend the airport. This work will cost about £50,000. Last year the airport handled 20,000 short tons of freight, so it is obvious that this is a thriving airport and that added facilities will be needed as production and export develop.
Much has been said about the tourist attraction of various parts of Australia. The tourist attraction of Papua and New Guinea cannot be denied. During my very short stay in the Territory I met people who had travelled throughout the world and they considered that nowhere had they seen finer scenery than in Papua and New Guinea. Attention is already being devoted to develop the tourist attraction of the Territory.
The work that is being carried out there is not being performed only by the Administration. The excellent results that are being obtained are definitely attributable to the courage and devotion of the Europeans who are in service there, and to the courage and enterprise of the indigenous people. The Europeans who have gone to the Territory and have invested in it are greatly strengthened and their confidence is restored by the fact that the Government has made it abundantly clear that Australia will defend Papua and New Guinea should the need arise.
I propose now to refer to a paragraph of the Governor-General’s Speech relating to immigration. 1 should like to take this opportunity to praise the work of the Department of Immigration. Last year it was described as a very stimulating and exciting year for immigration. Honorable senators will recall that the target of 125,000 was exceeded by 12,247. This was achieved very largely by the work of the migration officers in the United Kingdom and in the fourteen overseas posts. As announced in the speech of the Governor-General this year, the figure set is 135,000. These people will come from countries such as Austria, Belgium, West Germany, Greece, Italy, Malta and Spain. For the United Kingdom, the immigration figure was 45,000 assisted migrants but that has been increased now by another 10,000. A total of 55,000 British people will come out under the assisted migrants’ scheme.
We have heard a great deal about the employment situation and are very thankful that the rate of employment is high at the present time. In fact, in some industries there is a shortage of available employees. These extra 10,000 people will be absorbed immediately in the electrical, metal and building trades. An intensive campaign has been arranged in the immigration offices in the United Kingdom which is attracting workers from all levels - skilled tradesmen, professional workers, industrial workers and those who are unskilled. All these people will now help to build up the prosperity of Australia. In the coming year, it is intended also to provide a new homeland for 1,500 Yugoslav refugees and, in addition 100 Armenians are expected to arrive from Egypt. I pay a tribute to the officials of the Department of Immigration for the expeditious handling of the transport of the 12,000 immigrants who will arrive in this country by the end of June. Some will fly and some will come by ship, but the fact that they are being so efficiently and expeditiously moved is attributable to the efficiency and splendid work of the officers of the department concerned.
This efficiency is obviously recognized by immigration officials throughout the world. That was illustrated by the visit of seven South American immigration officials in October last year. They expressed themselves as tremendously grateful for the opportunity to study the immigration of people to Australia, and particularly appreciated the planning and procedures involved. As 1 said when referring to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, the success of an operation is not due only to the officials administering the department but also to the assistance given by the people of Australia. The Australian community has extended a warm welcome to these newcomers to our shores during the years of the immigration scheme. Efforts have been made to assimilate them and make them feel thoroughly at home in our nation.
I was pleased to read a statement issued by the present Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) that the home saving grant will apply to migrants, whether they are naturalized or not. Of course, they will have to fulfil the conditions that apply to the scheme. If they have been in Australia for three years, and if they have money in an approved home savings account, they will receive the grant. This fact, I understand, is to be made public in overseas immigration posts and the announcement will be translated into various languages. We can look forward to a still greater influx of people to our shores - people who will contribute much to the development of our country and to the high degree of prosperity which we have achieved.
I wish to refer also to the enterprise on the part of both the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) and the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen). An exhibition of the production of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea is to be shown overseas for the first time, and there will be also an exhibition at the Melbourne Grand Easter Show. At the Osaka International Trade Fair there will be a special demonstration of products of Papua and New Guinea. Samples of timber, cocoa, coffee, copra and other coconut products, and crocodile skins will be exhibited. Coloured and black and white photographs will be on display and 3,000 cups of coffee will be dispensed free during the 21 days of the fair. Booklets will be distributed. It is hoped that this means avenues of trade will be developed for the territory. At the Melbourne Grand Easter Show a display covering 900 square feet will be exhibited. The central feature of the exhibit will com prise products of the territory with emphasis on plywood and other commercial timbers. I suggest that honorable senators in Melbourne at that time would be well advised to pay a visit to this exhibition.
I sincerely hope that my remarks, and particularly the details I have given regarding the development of Papua and New Guinea, will intensify the interest of Australians in the responsibility which they have for the development of that territory. I have very much pleasure in supporting the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply and, in doing so, I should like to congratulate most sincerely Senator Morris who moved the motion.
– I borrow the first sentence of the Governor-General’s Speech: The Twenty-fifth Parliament of the Commonwealth is now assembled to consider and deal with many matters of importance to Australia. I take this opportunity to speak on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-RepIy. In so doing I join with my colleagues of the Labour movement, and those from the Government side, who have spoken in expressing regret that Her Majesty the Queen, Mother. because of illness, was not able to visit Australia and attend the opening of this Parliament. We trust that her illness will not be of long duration and that she will have a speedy recovery.
I join also with my colleagues in the expression of the sentiment contained in the Governor-General’s Speech concerning the tragic loss of that great statesman of the world, President Kennedy, on 22nd November, last. He was a man of great vision. Although a millionaire he was concerned with the destiny and welfare of all mankind. The world is the poorer for his passing and we trust that his desires and ideals will be carried on, not only by President Johnson of the United States of America, but also by all governments (throughout the world, in an attempt to bring about total and complete disarmament in the interests of mankind generally. I join also with my colleagues, and honorable senators on the Government side, who have expressed regret to the next-of-kin of those young Australians who lost their lives at the . tim’e of the recent disaster to H.M.A.S. “ Voyager “.
The Labour movement suffered a setback at the last election. That is undeniable and irrefutable. We of -the Labour movement certainly did not expect that result, and I venture to suggest, as has been suggested by some of my colleagues, that the Government also did not expect ‘that result. I think it is fair to say that at one stage or another supporters of the Government were very worried men. It is obvious that the vested interests in this country came to the aid of the parties that were opposed to the Australian Labour Party. I refer to Ae Liberal Party, the Australian Country Party and the Australian Democratic Labour Party. On 15th October last, just six weeks prior to Che election, this article appeared in the “ Australian Manufacturers Mon thly “-
Most political commentators appeared to regard the election proposal as suicidal for the Menzies Government at this stage and there was a great deal of speculation about the inner reasons for the stories, especially in view of openly made remarks that there was no money in the Liberal Party coffers to fight an election.
Representatives of the Government and of manufacturers were at least unanimous on this point.
Bearing that in mind, and having regard to the campaign that was waged by Labour’s political opponents, it is obvious that men of wealth and commercial power in this community came to the aid of the Government to ensure its return to office and to prevent the treasury bench being occupied by the Labour Party led by Mr. Arthur Calwell.
However, we accept the decision of the people. There is no doubt that the Government was successful and that we suffered a set-back. As Senator Cohen said last night, we are determined to ensure that in three years’ time when another general election is held the Labour Party will be successful. We of the Labour Party lost ten good and valuable colleagues from the House of Representatives and one from this chamber. We miss them very much. They were decent, honest Australians, and their loss is felt sadly. We hope that they are successful during the period they are outside the Parliament. I have used the words “ during the period they are outside the Parliament “ because I believe that, as a result of the educational programme that is to be conducted by the Labour movement during the next three years, our policies will be accepted and those who suffered defeat in 1963 will be elected again. The fact that Labour lost the election in 1963 does not mean that the party is out of the picture for all time. Let me remind honorable senators of the political career of the present Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). In 1946 when Mr. Chifley Jed the Australian Labour Party to the polls and the parties then in government were soundly defeated-
– They were annihilated.
– Indeed, to use Senator Toohey’s word, they were annihilated. lt was stated then that Labour would not be removed from the treasury bench for another twenty years. However, the then Leader of the Opposition set about marshalling the anti-Labour forces and within three years he was able to assume office as Prime Minister. He still holds that office. I remind the Government that history repeats itself. If the Government becomes smug, complacent or arrogant, history surely will repeat itself and Labour will regain the treasury bench. In spite of the campaign of hysteria that was waged against the Australian Labour Party, and in particular certain of its candidates, the party was able to poll four out of every nine votes that were cast. I have no reason to doubt for a moment that, if we pursue the policy that we propounded at the last election and if there is no gerrymander of electoral boundaries, Labour can and will win the 1966 election.
It has been proved that we have been an effective Opposition. I daresay that if we had not constantly raised in this Parliament such issues as housing, education and social services, the people would not be expecting to receive from this Government the benefits that have been promised to them in the Governor-General’s Speech. I am pleased to note that, after fourteen years of office, this Government recognizes that the housing problem which confronts the people of Australia is one of federal responsibility. An acute shortage of houses has developed while this Government has been in office. Such a shortage should never have been allowed to develop. I hope that as the new ship of State puts to sea, the new Minister for Housing (Mr. Bury) will be able to remove some of the housing bottlenecks, and overcome some of the land-locking that has occurred.
I congratulate the new Ministers upon their elevation to the Ministry. I hope that the old adage about a new broom sweeping clean will be true of them and that they will apply their minds to the very important tasks that confront them. As a member of the Labour Opposition, I assure them that the Opposition will continue to keep a watchful eye on government expenditure and administration and that in all cases members of the public get real value for their money.
May I say by way of interpolation to the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) that we believe that Australia has one of the most expensive health schemes in the world. We say that it is less comprehensive than the British scheme tout is more expensive. Recent exposures of drug prices in Australia have revealed the burden that has ‘been placed on the national health scheme and the Australian public by overseas drug companies. The Prime Minister, in another place, and the Minister for Health, in this chamber, have admitted their concern about the excessive prices that are being charged by the drug companies, but so far no effort of any magnitude has been made to stop this exorbitant over-charging. Labour will keep a very watchful eye on the situation. It will keep a very watchful eye on the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories, too. Let me remind the Minister for Health of statements in the reports of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories for the years ended in June, 1962, and June, 1963. In the annual report of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Commission for the financial year ended on 30th June, 1962, this passage appears -
The laboratories are the only basic manufacturers of crystalline insulin in Australia and maintain a plant capable of producing Australia’s requirement of insulin and a surplus for export.
Furthermore, Australia has one of the largest readily available supplies of pancreas glands in the world for the manufacture of insulin.
Despite these facts imports of insulin continue to increase, and in the last financial year imported insulin represented nearly 70% of Australia’s usage. Marketing efforts and price concessions by the Laboratories in an endeavour to induce secondary manufacturers to use the Australian raw insulins proved fruitless.
That was in the annual report of 30th June, 1962, some eighteen months ago, but the situation has gone from bad to worse according to the annual report of the same commision for the financial year ended 30th June, 1963. In that report, we find this one sentence referring the plant of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Commission -
The insulin plant, capable of producing the Australian requirement and surplus for export, remained inoperative as imports of insulin continued.
We say this is a very serious state of affairs. If there is no tangible improvement in the near future, we will seek a public inquiry to arouse public interest in drug prices and the conduct of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Commission.
As I have said, the Ministry has been expanded from 22 to 25 but it is very significant that there has been no increase in the number of Ministers in the Senate. Indeed, it is fair to say that there has been no increase in the number of ministers in this chamber since 1949, when the Chifley Labour Government went out of office At that time, when there was a Ministry of only seventeen, there were five Ministers in the Senate although only 36 senators represented the States. To-day, with 25 ministers, there are still only five in the Senate although there are 60 senators.
– The Government is writing the Senate down.
– It is either writing the Senate down or abolishing the Senate by evolution. The only conclusions that can be drawn from such a state of affairs are that the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) in selecting his Cabinet did not think very much of the backbench material on the Government side of the Senate or he does not think much of the Senate at all. I trust that the members of the Government will take cognizance of this situation and elevate the status of ministerial representation in this chamber. Recently I directed a question to the Leader of the Government (Senator Sir William Spooner) on this important matter. He answered my question in somewhat cavalier fashion but I hope that this chamber will receive adequate recognition and proper attention from the Government. I congratulate the new Ministers on their elevation to the Ministry and hope that they will devote their energies to their tasks in the interests of Australia and Australians generally.
The role of the Opposition will be to keep a careful and close eye on various aspects of the administration and to pursue the propagation of the policies for which we stand. I trust that with a concerted effort on the part of all of us, in three years time we will be occupying the treasury bench. The Australian Labour Party is still a great political force. As I have said, four out of nine Australians at the last election voted for us despite the campaign of traduction and vilification that went on against us. We will be all out to swing the tide our way in 1966. We of the Labour movement will still fight government administration where we think injustice and maladministration exists, where we believe there is complacency or where we believe there might be arrogance and smugness. We will try to give inspiration where inspiration is needed and will work as we have never worked before to turn adversity into triumph.
We firmly believe that greater strides can be made towards the more rapid development of Australia, particularly in the north. At this point, I take the opportunity of congratulating Senator Morris upon his maiden speech, which, of course, was devoted principally to the development of the northern part of Queensland. It was obvious that the honorable senator knew his subject very well, not only, I assume, because he lives in the north of Queensland but also because he occupied the high and honoured position of Deputy Premier of Queensland. The honorable senator must have come into close contact with the needs of the northern part of Queensland and I trust that the Government will take cognizance of the remarks made so ably by Senator Morris on this subject.
We say that the national health service could be extended and greatly improved. We believe the immigration programme could and should receive greater impetus and that social service and repatriation benefits could be pushed further ahead. We are out to ensure better government for Australia and for the people.
During the course of this debate much has been said about our great nation, our geographical position and the place we occupy in world affairs. Reference has been made to the future that lies ahead of
Australia and all Australians. Some honorable senators have implied that in their minds we are still attached to Europe. Others have said we are a part of Asia. I personally think of Australia as an island continent standing isolated in this part of the globe and closely adjacent to South-East Asia. We are virtually surrounded by Asians. We are a land of 3,000,000 square miles with a population of 11,000,000. We are a small but very proud nation destined to play an important part in promoting humanity between man and man.
Sons of Australia have won great honours to themselves on the battlefield wherever Australians have fought. Sons of this great nation have won honours for themselves and for Australia on the sporting fields wherever they have participated in sports competitions. Sons of Australia have won great honours for themselves in the studies of science and the humanities. Australians everywhere are proud of Australia and the deeds of her sons. While I, with my colleagues, join in the expressions of loyalty to the Crown, I firmly believe that the time has arrived when the Government should consider encouraging the composition of a truly Australian national anthem. If we cannot have an anthem of our own to substitute for “ God Save the Queen “, at least let us have one as a subsidiary to it. I want the blood of every Australian man, woman and child to cry out for Australia, for Australiana and all for which this country stands. Television plays a very important part in the lives of every Australian family. As I understand a debate on television will take place in this chamber in the near future, it is not my intention to say too much on the subject now. I will content myself by reminding the Senate that with the constant showing of imported films from overseas countries, particularly the United States of America, Australians as a whole tend to become indoctrinated with too many overseas traits, characteristics and mannerisms. I want Australians to be able to hear a song which makes them proud to say, “That is the song of my native land “. As far back as 1 826, John Dunmore Lang published an anthem in his “ Aurora Australis “, the words of which went something like this -
Hail to thee, Happy Queen
Sweetest that the earth has seen.
Dear to thy country as chief to his clan.
Since that time there have been numerous attempts to find a suitable tune for Australia and in 1878 Peter Dodds McCorwick, under the pen name of Amicus, wrote, “Advance Australia Fair”. This tune has been unofficially recognized as Australia’s tune. By way of political history, it is interesting to observe that at a political rally in Lidcombe, Sydney, in 1933, a former Premier of New South Wales, the Honorable J. T. Lang, who at one stage was a member of the House of Representatives, chided a political audience when its members did not stand while the tune “ Advance Australia Fair “ was being played.
During World War II., the then Minister for Immigration, the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) tried to raise “ Advance Australia Fair “ to national status by causing it to be played to introduce the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s news sessions. In 1943, at a time when Australians were engaged in fighting a war to protect the shores of this country, Mr. Calwell, at a conference of motion picture exhibitors sought their assistance in having “ Advance Australia Fair “ played in all picture theatres to assist in the development of an Australian national spirit. Mr. Curtin stated that the then Minister for Immigration was doing the right thing in trying to build up Australian morale but that the tune “Advance Australia Fair” could not be recognized at that time as the Australian national anthem.
In 1955, the present Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) reviewed the whole matter in a speech in the House of Representatives. He stated quite emphatically that there was only one song so far as Australia was concerned and that was “ God Save the Queen “. Having regard to the tenor of events that have taken place in the last decade, I am now suggesting that the time has arrived for the Government to reconsider this situation and to recognize “ Advance Australia Fair “, if not in substitution for, then as a subsidiary to “ God Save the Queen “. I believe that Australians are crying out for a spirit of national fervour. They want to be regarded as Australians, and they need something as a rallying point.
Later this year, Australian athletes will be going to Tokyo, right in the heart of South-East Asia, to compete with other athletes from all over the world at the great Olympic Games. At that time of the year, men of international goodwill will have their eyes and ears turned to Tokyo. I hope that all Australian athletes who are given the high honour of representing this country in sport are able to stand on the victory dais at the Tokyo Games and be presented with the gold medal for the event in which they take part; but what a wonderful thing it would be not only for them but for us back at home, indeed for the whole world, to hear the symbol of this country played on such a momentous occasion when, as I say, men from all quarters of the globe will have their eyes and ears turned to Tokyo.
– You have not mentioned “ Song of Australia “. What do you think of that?
– Provided it is a song that echoes the sentiments of Australia and Australians, I shall be very happy to hear it played as the national anthem. I hope the honorable senator will do her utmost among members of the Government parties to put forward the tune that she thinks suits the symbolism and sentimentality of Australia and all that goes with this country.
I have endeavoured to plead the case of Australian patriotism in this speech on the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply. I hope the Government will take cognizance of what I have said, but, above all, I plead with those who oppose the Labour movement politically to stop the use of this Communist bogy hysteria at election time. By such methods of organizing, they are vilifying and traducing the names of good, decent, honest, loyal Australians, men who are proud to serve their country not only in this Parliament but also throughout the rank and file of the Australian Labour movement. Each one of us in the Australian Labour Party, be he in this Parliament for the time being, or be he a rank-and-filer, owes no allegiance but to the Crown and to all that is Australian.
We have inherited from our fathers a great tradition and a great country. We hope our children will inherit from us the same hopes and aspirations. Our message is a great and a sincere one, one intended to spell out peace, progress and prosperity for all Australians, and to inspire those who live within its bounds. Madam Acting Deputy President, in supporting the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply I hope that the Labour movement will still go forward, be it in times of adversity or of triumph, because we stand for the welfare of our fellow men.
– I rise to support the AddressinReply, so ably presented by our colleague, Senator Morris, in these terms -
We, the Senate of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled, desire to express our loyalty to our Most Gracious Sovereign, and to thank Your Excellency for the Speech which you have been pleased to address to Parliament.
I, too, express those sentiments. I am particularly glad of the opportunity to express my loyalty to Her Majesty the Queen who is also Queen of Australia and to thank His Excellency the Governor-General for coming to this chamber in the traditional manner and delivering his Speech virtually from the Throne.
Like honorable senators who have preceded me, I express my regret at the passing of President Kennedy. He embodied many virtues in his brilliant young life. When he passed away there was a feeling all round the world that a great beacon light had gone out. But one is encouraged by the statesmanlike utterances of his successor, President Johnson, to feel that the torch has been caught by him and that the good work so capably commenced by President Kennedy will go on. As other honorable senators have said, we hope that the cancellation of the visit of the Queen Mother is but a pleasure deferred. Her Majesty and other members of the Royal Family will always be welcome in Australia.
I do not propose to conduct a post mortem into the results of the recent general election, as honorable senators opposite have done. However, I cannot allow some of Senator McClelland’ s remarks to pass without comment. One of the most interesting points made by him was his reference to the lack of ministerial representation in the Senate.By a process of arithmetic, he calculated that there should be more than five Senate ministers. It is interesting to contemplate what the Australian Labour Party caucus did when it was electing its shadow cabinet. I understand that only two of the fourteen members are senators. The members of the Opposition should not blame the Prime Minister in this respect in view of the fact that under their own voting system only two senators were considered to have sufficient ability to be members of the Labour Party shadow cabinet.
– That does not help you out of your difficulty.
– I do not assume that there is a difficulty. The result of the ballots to decide the Labour Party executive clearly showed that in the eyes of the Labour caucus there is not much talent on the Opposition side of this chamber. Senator McClelland built up quite an impressive case to prove that the Opposition in the Senate is an effective one. I think it should be permanently in opposition, since it is doing such an effective job.
His Excellency the Governor-General referred in a number of short paragraphs to matters of great importance. As I see it, the role of a National Parliament is to look in two directions. It must look outward at the problems which affect Australia externally, and it must look inward at the domestic problems. In looking outward, we have the co-operation of our powerful allies. Australia is fortunate that at this moment of its history the National Parliament is growing in importance. At the time of federation there was little outside Australia to which we could look other than the United Kingdom. The whole of our external affairs policy was dealt with at Westminster. If we were in net with Britain we were in net with the rest of the world. This was the situation of our external policy at the turn of the century.
The internal matters of policy with which the National Parliament was concerned in those days included customs and excise, posts and telegraphs, and currency. There were very few other matters on the plate of the Parliament. But that position has changed. As I read His Excellency’s Speech I considered the items mentioned in it that would not have been mentioned fourteen years ago, at the time of the accescession to power of the Menzies Government. There would have been no reference to Malaysia, to the South-East Asia Treaty
Organization, to the Colombo Plan, to the interest of the International Bank in Papua and New Guinea, to the purchase of powerful Charles F. Adams class destroyers, to the Mirage fighter aircraft, and to the new strike reconnaissance aircraft. Flood mitigation was not then a matter to which the Commonwealth Parliament would give attention.
Australia’s industrial expansion overseas is an entirely new concept. The great personal interest of an Australian Minister for Trade and Industry in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade would not have been a matter of importance fifteen years ago. It was not envisaged that such vast sums as we are spending to-day would have been spent on Australian roads. Subscriber trunk dialling, to which reference is made in the Governor-General’s Speech, was not dreamt of in those days, nor was it envisaged that within a year or so from the present time 90 per cent, of the Australian community would be in range of television. It was not then contemplated that supersonic aircraft would be on order for Australia’s overseas airline. The Government’s imaginative housing plan was not then in contemplation. To-day, between 70 and 80 per cent, of the people of Australia are covered by the national health scheme, but fifteen years ago a scheme of such magnitude was not under consideration. The new break-through in the field of education, whereby assistance is being given to schools, government and otherwise, and large sums of money are being made available to State universities, was not envisaged then. So, at this point of time we are at a most exciting stage of Australia’s development.
The Governor-General referred particularly to political tension in the areas to the north of Australia. He said -
In spite of great international efforts, political tension is still high in some regions, notably in Australia’s near north. This is largely, as in the past, due to Communist pressures. But we also have what, is called “ confrontation “ over Malaysia.
He went on to explain what the Government intended to do about this matter. I wish to speak for a little while on the question of pressures to the north of Australia and to base my remarks on personal observations that I made during a tour of South-East Asia in June and July of last year. I pay a tribute to the Government for having arranged this tour of back-bench members of the Parliament. As honorable senators may recall, twelve members of the National Parliament, led by Mr. Davidson, who was then Postmaster-General, visited six countries of South-East Asia. I think that we travelled 20,000 miles in 23 days. Practically eighteen hours of each day was spent in either hard work or travel, or both. I appreciated the trip very much, but I offer the suggestion that future tours should be conducted in a different way. I consider that two tours could well be made simultaneously, with perhaps six back-bench members in each group, and that an effort should be made to visit only three or four countries over a longer period. It is quite impossible, to do the job properly under a pressurized time-table such as that which applied to the tour I made. The leaders of nations and their responsible ministers and others would get to know us better if there were not, in effect, a public meeting in the office of the leader or minister concerned. Honorable senators can quite imagine thirteen parliamentarians together with one or two officers of the Department of External Affairs and one or two people from the diplomatic staff of the country concerned, making a crowd of about twenty. The leader, in those circumstances, is virtually addressing a public meeting when having discussions with the Australian members. However, I urge the Government not to abandon the idea of overseas tours. As a matter of fact, I should like the number of tours to be increased but 1 should like them to be conducted in the way I have suggested.
It may be said that this will result in the Ministers leading such delegations being away from their posts in Australia. However, there are now more Ministers and it may be possible to allow two of them to go away on this tremendously important work at one time. I believe this work is important from the stand-point of the Opposition. It has been a matter of regret to me that the Opposition has not seen fit to join in the Foreign Affairs Committee. Opposition senators have cited their reasons for not wanting to be involved with this committee and I accept them. However, a tour such as I have indicated or, say, two tours in the coming parliamentary recess would be of great importance in enabling the Opposition to obtain first-hand knowledge of some of the problems of South-East Asia.
I believe it is’ essential at this particular time that we use every endeavour to get to know Asia. In my opinion, there is no better way of doing that than sending members of the Government parties and of the Australian Labour Party to these places. I can assure you, Mr. Acting Deputy President, that Australia is held in very high esteem in these places. We have a fine lot of embassies and high commissions throughout South-East Asia. Many of them are officered by young men from our diplomatic service some of whom have had considerable experience in Asia. They are very well received in the countries in which they work. 1 believe that the appearance in other countries of Australian members of Parliament is a distinct help to our own representatives, provided that too many do not land on their doorstep at once. Honorable senators can well understand thi: reaction of our embassy staffs if confronted with the arrival of fifteen bodies from Australia late at night. It presents quite a big problem to provide the necessary treatment and arrange for accommodation and cars to take them around. From the stand-point of our own embassies and high commissions, the smaller the party the better. The longer a party can have in a particular place, the better also.
We must expand our knowledge of Asia. The more we know of our near neighbours and more distant countries, the better we can handle the tension and the problems that arise. I should think that the more contact we can have with Asia on the personal level the better. I agree with what Senator McClelland said about the Olympic Games which will take place in Tokyo this year. I consider that the sending of sportsmen and sportswomen to Tokyo will be of great importance to Australia. I think that visits to such areas by our clergy, missionaries and people of religious orders are very important. The other day I had people in my office from Bordertown in a country area of South Australia. They told me that a number of farmers in the district had learnt from a clergyman that Indonesian farmers were using sticks for the purpose of tilling the ground when hoes would have been better. So the steel parts of 300 hoes have been manufactured by blacksmiths at the request of the local farmers and I understand that the implements will be sent to Indonesia as a practical expression of Australia’s interest in that problem.
When I went north I could see the result of the contact of Australian educational authorities in two respects. We have built up a reputation in these areas of having a very good educational system in Australia with the use of radio. Our flying doctor service has, as an adjunct, a school of the air. This idea has penetrated Thailand and young Australians are in that country assisting the Thai Government to put in a radio educational service. The Australian Broadcasting Commission’s service, Radio Australia, teaches English. I understand that, already, over 1,000,000 books have been printed in Australia and sent to Indonesia for the purpose of instructing the people of that country in English.
– I do not think they are allowed to listen to Radio Australia now.
– Senator Cormack considers that there may be some problem connected with Indonesians listening to Radio Australia. However, Radio Australia is doing the work that I have mentioned. It could well be that this knowledge will seep through to the Indonesians. It should be remembered that most of the scientific textbooks in the world are written in the English language. I believe that, sooner or later, the Indonesians will wake up to the fact that they are lacking in scientific knowledge, even at lower levels. Consequently, I believe that the teaching of English will still be regarded as an important subject there.
While I was abroad I also noticed the effect of the presence of our troops in Malaysia. As honorable senators know, we have airmen in the north of the Malay Peninsula at Butterworth and we have Army personnel just south of Kuala Lumpur. The bearing of these personnel - air and army - is very favorably commented upon by the local people. I understand that the Australian culture which has been taken by the wives and families of the troops to these areas is something of which we could all be very proud. They represent a good contact with South-East Asia.
Another contact is that which is provided by the Colombo Plan. Those students who return to their own countries after having been trained in Australia under the Colombo Plan are creating a very good impression in at least two parts of South-East Asia that I visited. In Kuala Lumpur students who have been to Australia under the Colombo Plan have formed an association which has a constitution, a secretary, a president and a treasurer. I was privileged to meet some of the ex-students when I was in Kuala Lumpur. As a result of their stay in Australia these people are tremendously interested in this country. In order to maintain that interest they have formed this group or society with a written constitution.
Australians are playing a big part in staffing the universities of Singapore and Malaysia. The brand new University of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur is one of the great sights of South-East Asia and a good deal of the equipment used in several of the schools has been supplied by Australia. New Zealand has supplied a complete school for the teaching of agricultural science. This process of getting to know Australia is going on all the time. We in Australia should likewise try to get to know Asians. I hope that there will be more contact between Australian members of Parliament and the parliamentarians of those countries, in smaller groups than the one that went overseas last year. The population of Asia is, of course, tremendous. There are 200,000,000 Asians closer to north-west Australia than are the 2,000,000 Victorians in or near Melbourne. That shows how many people in South-East Asia are living near to Australia.
The practical work-out of the Colombo Plan is an interesting exercise. One practical example of help is the work of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority’s road builders in north-east Thailand. The north-east of Thailand is very flat with great rivers which expand and flood after every monsoonal season. As a result communications are completely dislocated. The tracks through the rice fields become completely flooded and it is impossible for the Thai Government to exercise normal control in the area. It is also impossible for the rice farmers to send to market the crops that they have harvested. In order to assist, the Australian Government is spending £1,000,000. It has sent a team of Snowy Mountains road builders to the area to train the young Thais in the use of heavy earth-moving equipment, with a view to building feederroads so that communications can be used at all times, and the infiltration of Communist elements from Laos can be damped down. The Australian engineers and road builders are becoming extremely popular in that part of the world. They are creating a good image of this country as a result of the practical work they are doing. Their work is progressing so well that the Thai Government is being hurried into action to provide bridges so that the rivers can be spanned.
I desire to mention another contact which, I think, this Government and Australian industry should not neglect. My remarks are inspired by an article which appeared in the “ Australian Financial Review “ of 4th March this year. It is “ headed “ Is Australia Missing the Bus in Singapore?”. The article is written by Professor Tregonning, who is now Raffles Professor of History at the University of Singapore. T understand that Professor Tregonning was an Australian Rhodes scholar. He has now distinguished himself in this chair at the Singapore University. Professor Tregonning mentions that last week four big new industries staked a claim to the rapidly vanishing acres of Jurong - Singapore island’s new industrial city.
When I was in Singapore with our party I was able to inspect models of the. industrial complex at Jurong. It has everything. In one week an American project - a 25.000,000-dolIar Singapore Caltex lubricating oil-blending plant - was opened on the Monday, and then on the following day a 1.500.000-dollar factory of Singapore Galvanising Industries was opened. Later in the week the foundation stone of the 23,000,000-dolIar Jurong shipyard was laid, and already the blast furnaces are starting to turn out iron and steel in these works. Professor Tregonning has the following to say about this progress -
In this venture Australia does not appear interested.
As Singapore will soon be sheltered inside a Malaysian common market, with its pioneer industries protected and able to remit all profits, but not liable to ‘tax for five years, is Australia missing the bus?
Two ideas come from that article. The first is the possibility of a Malaysian common market, or an even wider common market in the future embracing Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia. There is the possibility of that market being established and of Australia having no stake in it. Secondly, there is the fact that we are missing out on this pioneering profits tax remission, which means a taxation holiday for five years. It seems that Malaysia is going ahead with such speed that she is obviously going to be the centre of SouthEast Asia. It seems a pity to me that Australian industry has not moved into this area. Australian industry is well-established in the Malay part of Malaysia because the largest industry in that area, located just outside Kuala Lumpur, is the Hume pipe organization’s works, that organization, of course, being an Australian company. Australian Consolidated Industries Limited is also established in the area. However, Professor Tregonning asks the question, “ Is Australia missing the bus in Singapore? “
Singapore has a large potential force of skilled workmen. Professor Tregonning points out that Malaysia, with a steadily increasing middle class among its 10,000,000 people, already has more cars per person - one to twenty-five - than many European countries, being just behind Italy, and is the most motorized state in Asia. We should project ourselves further into Asia for the benefit of Australia and of Australian industry.
I can quote one example where Australia has projected itself into Asia successfully on the primary industry side. A factory has been set up in Manila as a result of a partnership between the Australian Dairy Produce Board and an instrumentality in Manila which markets foodstuffs. This partnership has built a factory outside Manila in which it reconstitutes milk. The powdered milk is sent from Australia and is then mixed with the correct proportions of sugar, oil and1 water under hygienic conditions, supervised by Australian technicians.
The milk is marketed through a Manila governmental marketing organization. The idea has been so successful that it is being extended to Thailand, Singapore and Malaya. That is an instance of Australian industry being successful in South-East Asia and welcomed by the government involved. Should further contact be made with South-East Asia through visits by educationists, parliamentarians, tourists and businessmen, great good would result to Australian industry and the Australian people.
I should like to conclude by adverting to some references in the Governor-General’s Speech to matters within Australia. I do not propose to deal with them in detail, because opportunity to do that will be afforded when the respective bills come before the Senate. The imaginative housing proposals are, to my way of thinking, a real break-through. Likewise are the education proposals and the endowment proposals, especially those relating to student children.
I congratulate Senator Morris upon his speech on development, particularly in north Queensland. 1 was rather stirred by a question which my colleague, Senator Branson, addressed in relation to the £30,000,000 being sought for the Ord dam scheme. I should like the Government to examine very closely the question of grandiose schemes for development which, from what I can see, have not been adequately vetted on the technical side. I understand that there is a good deal of disputation in some circles in Western Australia as to whether such an expenditure on the Ord River irrigation project is warranted. One must not be too far carried away by the enthusiasm of the people who put these projects forward. The respected Premier of Western Australia commented on the proposal. His remarks were picked up by the Melbourne “ Age “, which on 3rd March stated -
Mr. Brand said farms developed under the Ord scheme would cover at least 100,000 acres in east Kimberley and 50,000 acres in the Northern Territory, with an estimated regional population of between 10,000 and 20,000 by 1975.
I have not yet heard of any of the work that has gone forward in the Ord scheme having been shown to be successful from the point of view of rural production.
Before this money is expended 1 should like, if possible, to view the farms actually in existence and find out what they have produced and at what cost. I am also concerned about the possibilities of markets for the products which would be grown. There has been very little documented evidence before the Senate about the money that has already been expended in the area. By and large, I urge upon the Government the need to make a very close scientific analysis of what has been done already, and particularly to make market surveys, in relation to the case that Mr. Brand is to put before the Prime Minister within the next day or so.
I am also concerned about the 10,000 to 20,000 people who will go to the area. I ask myself whether these young men, women and children would not do better anywhere else in Western Australia. I believe that there are vast acreages in good rainfall areas near Esperance, not very far from Perth, as yet undeveloped but in the process of development. That brings me to whether or not we should go in for a policy not of pioneer development in remote parts of Australia but of redevelopment of areas already settled. In the early days, of course, pioneers had to go out and cut down trees, burn scrub, plough and take off crops. In doing so, I think, they unwittingly wasted a good deal of country and erosion ‘ took place. They had to do it. There was no alternative. But in this era of great scientific developments, particularly in agriculture, I am wondering whether it would not be better for government plans to be focussed more on re-development.
I lived for twenty years in the southeast of South Australia, in a good rainfall area. In 1938, when I went there, vast areas of land were undeveloped. I have seen the population in that area trebled. There are far more prosperous middle-class people than ever before, mainly because of the advent of clovers and trace elements and re-development of the land. Railways, telephones, roads and schools were there; of course, the schools had to be extended. I wonder whether or not Western Australia would do better to consider re-development, instead of asking for this vast sum of money for the glamorous Ord scheme. Possibly the same considerations might apply to Queensland, South Australia and
New South Wales. I should say that Victoria is pretty well re-developed at present. I should like to see more attention given to that side of development. For instance, the provision of beef roads sounds very well, but I should think the expenditure of money on roads in the north of South Australia, within 300 or 350 miles of Adelaide and leading to existing railway systems, would do a better and quicker job for development than expenditure on beef roads hundreds of miles away from existing systems.
Some people might say that Australia will be vulnerable to assault from overseas if we do not develop the north and northwest and put population there. I wonder whether any country wishing to assault Australia would be deterred by 10,000 to 20,000 people, say, on the Ord River scheme. I wonder whether or not an assault would be made on that area because of that partial development. Would not Australia be stronger if it ^-developed existing settled areas which in the great press forward have been virtually neglected? From my knowledge of Australia, I know that there are many areas, particularly in Western Australia on the Esperance side, which would respond very well and would bring fewer headaches to the State of Western Australia and more happiness to the young folk who would otherwise be attracted, .forced or sent to the far northwest. We must look at this development, particularly as the pilot farms have not yet yielded a result which would indicate a reasonably safe economic proposition.
In conclusion, I should like to congratulate the Government upon its return to office, and particularly the new Ministers upon their elevation to the Ministry. Like some of my friends on the Opposition side who were generous enough to do so, I wish them well while they continue to hold the seals of office.
– Mr. Deputy President, I have pleasure in joining in this debate. I congratulate Senator Morris upon the very capable way in which he proposed the motion that we are now debating. I associate myself with the message of loyalty to Her Most Gracious Majesty the Queen and express my disappointment that the Queen Mother was unable to come to
Australia because of ill health. As other honorable senators have said, I believe that her visit has only been deferred. 1 am sure that the sad international tragedy in the death of President Kennedy struck sorrow into the hearts of all people. We have lost a great world leader, a great world figure and, above all, a great world democrat. Much has been said in this chamber about his influence in international affairs. Having been <a guest of America at the time of his election, let me say that he must be greatly admired for having tried to introduce in America policies that the Australian Labour Party has adopted. I refer to the care of the aged and the aged sick, and to his charitable outlook upon all races and creeds. One must have great admiration for him. He was a Christian and he followed Christian precepts in the face of great odds. May God rest his soul.
I express my sadness at the unfortunate occurrence to which His Excellency referred in these words -
The other * tragic event concerns us in this country. The recent collision which resulted in the sinking of H.M.A.S. “ Voyager “ and the loss of the lives of so many gallant Australian sailors, is now under full and far-reaching judicial investigation by a Royal Commission. Meanwhile, the hearts of all Australians have gone out to those who have been so suddenly bereaved, and to those who were injured.
This was a tragic event. The loss of life is deplorable. Dare we continue to give only sympathy to the relatives who have been bereaved and to those who were injured? As the “ West Australian “ said shortly after I made representations on this matter and before certain aspects of it become sub judice, the Government has not been generous to service personnel who have been killed or injured in peacetime. Widows do not live on sympathy. Children are not educated and properly protected by mouthed sympathy. I appeal to the Government to express its sympathy in a practical way and to rise above the inadequate system under which compensation will be granted. Let it do so to the point where the nation will reasonably be able to say that the Government offers its sympathy with generosity.
I raised many points in the telegram which I sent to the then Attorney-General, the then Minister for the Navy and the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) just after the tragedy. Having placed a question on the notice-paper a week ago, I have been given information which enables me to speak on this matter here to-day. I was reluctant to bring the matter before the Parliament when there was a strong possibility that it would be held to be sub judice. The Government and the various Ministers have said that they are concerned about the welfare of these people, but having continually rejected submissions that have been made by the Opposition about the /inadequacy of the legislation covering compensation, they are embarrassed by their inability to afford proper protection to the dependants of the victims of this tragedy. A large number of defence personnel have been either killed or injured, but the relevant act is antiquated and is inadequate to deal with the situation.
The reply I received from the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Chaney) to the seventh of the series of questions that I placed on the notice-paper reads -
It is assumed that, if the honorable senator considers there are unsatisfactory features in the Government’s reply, he will take advantage of the various courses readily available to him to bring them to notice.
On four occasions I have brought to the notice of the Government the unsatisfactory matters that I raised in my telegram. Even as late as the end of the last session of the previous Parliament I challenged Senator Gorton, the then Minister for the Navy, about these matters. He showed his contempt by refusing to answer in any way at all the questions I raised. The Estimates were agreed to without any respect whatever being paid to the representations of the Opposition.
The compensation payable under the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act is quite inadequate. The act was amended in 1948, when Labour was in office. It did not cover as wide a field then as it does now. Subsequent amendments were agreed to in 1950, 1951, 1954, 1956 and 1959. The act currently provides for the payment of £3,000 to a widow and £100 for each child. I ask the Senate to propose to the Government that the compensation payable in respect of the loss of a husband who leaves dependent children should be raised. The act covers a big field of workers, irrespective of whether they are service personnel or not. It is very difficult to drive home to this Government the fact that the compensation payable is inadequate and that the legislation has not been brought up to date. The Government says to us, “ It is the right of persons representing the workers in any industry to see that the position is corrected. They have an alternative - a recourse to law - if they do not like the conditions under this act.”
But let me direct the attention of the Senate and the Government to some other features of compensation. In every case, apart from those affecting service personnel, the claimant under the act is represented by a strong union or association which is able to finance individual cases if justice has not been done. Even if a claimant gets full statutory compensation, it can still be very unjust. Persons covered by the act, other than defence personnel, are represented by strong organizations which can assist financially in getting justice. It is very expensive for a worker to fight a claim but an organization has funds provided by its members.
If a person is unfortunate enough to be in the Australian Army, the Royal Australian Navy or the Royal Australian Air Force and he has a claim for compensation, he is not represented by any organizaion. The compensation is fixed or determined by a board. Evidence is taken by the board but there is no representation for the claimant. Compensation is assessed and if it is not adequate or is unsatisfactory to the claimant, he or she has the right to take the case to a court of law. But he or she must do so at his or her own expense and without the backing of any organization. That is the position of every widow and child affected by this tragedy. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), in reply to my representations, wrote to me in these terms -
I refer again to your telegrams of 12th February to my colleague the Minister for the Navy and myself in which you made various enquiries on compensation payable to dependants of personnel who served on H.M.A.S. Voyager.
The message sent in reply on 21st February outlined, inter alia, the provisions and procedures of the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act which govern claims made by dependants of Voyager victims in respect of compensation for loss of life. I am now able to inform you that the payment to dependants of IS claims has so far been authorised.
May I assure you that the Government will make every endeavour to ensure that all claims made by dependants of Voyager personnel under the Act are handled sympathetically and expeditiously.
Sympathy is all very well,, but it is not of much value. The expedition with which this matter was dealt was, of course, extraordinary, because it was sub judice before correct action was taken for the protection of naval personnel involved in the disaster. But the Government or any one else could challenge any one involved in respect of their rights if they were culpable under the act. The situation is now that there are certain matters which are not sub judice and which must be discussed. I ask the Senate and the Government to give serious consideration to them.
Under the act, £3,000 is available to a widow and £100 for each child. Under the New South Wales legislation, which is not over-generous, there is provision for £4,300 for a widow plus £2 3s. a week for each child under sixteen years. In Tasmania, the entitlement is £4,000 for the widow and £100 for each child under sixteen. These are statutory workers’ compensation or employers’ liability payments. The claimants have representation when their claims are heard and they have the right to elect to make a claim for compensation in law, which is generally far more generous. The organizations representing the workers in these cases appoint people to help the claimants. The best legal advice is available. A great number of workers pay contributions out of their pittances to see that this kind of help is available. It is not available for the victims of the disaster I am discussing.
– Yes, it is available from the Returned Servicemen’s League or the Naval Association of Australia.
– No. The R.S.L. has informed me that it asked for information on this matter in Perth. It is raising funds by way of subscriptions. The funds are not otherwise available.
– The Naval Association of Australia is doing the same thing.
– Yes, it is asking the public to supply funds for something which is a national responsibility. Thank goodness we have somebody in the community who is prepared to po out and ask for charity in peacetime! This is being done not only by the institutions the honorable senator has mentioned but also by many people who are interested and who are prepared to do something. What is tragic is the ignorance of the people concerned, who never expected to meet a situation like this. They do not know what they are entitled to or how they can get it. If they belonged to a trade union, the union would see that they were advised. The information is at the finger tips of the union officers. They are on the doorsteps of their members immediately there is ground for a claim. They do not have to seek charity. They are on the job immediately.
Moreover, I complain of the sheer inadequacy of the compensation provided. I have quoted basic rates for workers’ compensation, available practically without argument in such cases. To get better than that, claimants have to go to courts of law, but in the four cases I have cited of personnel killed or injured in peacetime, the widows or dependants have found it quite beyond their financial resources to take even the first steps. I referred one case to a Queen’s Counsel who is a member of the Opposition. He looked over the case and said undoubtedly it was a case that could be fought. “ Nevertheless,” he said, “ I remind you that you are fighting the Crown. Your first case would cost £400 or £500. 1 would handle that without charge, except for the cost of documents, but if the case goes on it will be a waste of money.”
I have referred in this chamber to one case where a worker was granted £30, but the Crown was prepared to push the case on appeal to a higher court. That explains why a widow who is inadequately compensated grins and bears it. She does it quite bravely and proudly but we have nothing to be proud of. Let us get away from workers’ compensation and look at the compensation to injured workers when common law applies. It happens in New South Wales every day but I want to cite a recent example in Great Britain. In that case there was an assessment of the value of a husband’s life to the dependants, and it is quite comparable with the position of the dependants of those who were lost in H.M.A.S. “ Voyager “. The report from London stated -
A High Court judge was to-day asked to decide how much a father was worth to three children. His verdict: £1,250.
Mr. Justice Megaw ordered that £625 should go to Rosanna Szezyrbowski, aged four. Her sister Adele, seven, should get £375 and brother Francis, ten, £250, he said.
Their father, Henryk Szezyrbowski (40), a chief test mechanic with an electrical firm, was killed in a road accident three years ago.
To-day’s action against the London Transport Executive was brought by his widow, Mrs. Marisa Szezyrbowski, of Finsbury Park, London, who is to receive £12,500 agreed damages.
There is the comparison.
– But is it not a fact that that decision was based on the economic value of the husband to the people concerned?
– Are you depreciating the value of the husband?
– I am asking you about the High Court decision.
– I am asking you to say that this man’s value is not comparable with that of a highly trained technician or officer in the Australian Navy who has the same responsibilities and the same sized family to support. I am confident that if these people had been financially able to employ counsel to act on their behalf in seeking adequate compensation a great deal more than £100 would be awarded for each child. I remind honorable senators that the act provides that if compensation is payable with respect to an injury the pension is not payable. In other words, in such cases the weekly payments are discontinued and a lump sum settlement is made.
– Do they get superannuation?
– They get superannuation if contributions have been made to a superannuation scheme.
– And the superannuation benefits are taken into consideration in arriving at the lump sum settlement.
– That is so. The act is most involved. Its provisions are so intricate that any proceedings initiated against the Crown under them would be extremely involved and most expensive. I have no doubt that the Government is sincere in its expressions of sadness and its voiced sympathy is excellent, but the difficulties which this intricate and inadequate act has put in the way of all those who suffered as a result of the “ Voyager “ disaster produce effects as tragic as anything one could see.
Involved in these difficulties are not only the cases of those who lost their lives but also the persons who will suffer injury as a result of the disaster. For instance, neurosis and, indeed 101 disabilities could follow in the train of this tragic event. Many claims will arise, and the dependants have to be considered. The act is inadequate and the Government should give serious consideration to the position. Why, the process of seeking some adequate compensation under it is so intricate that even those who have suffered injury cannot afford to have adequate representation at the inquiry to safeguard their interests should they suffer from some further disability at a later stage. To me it is sad indeed that the otherwise splendid record of an officer of the Navy who was killed in the disaster might be marred as a result of the decision of an inquiry simply because the family of the dead man was unable to afford adequate representation at the hearing. In such cases, the Government should be prepared to give every possible assistance to ensure that all personnel, whether they be officers or ratings, are adequately represented at the inquiry. The Government should also be prepared to take steps to ensure that adequate compensation is provided for a widow and dependent children. The present act does not provide adequate compensation. All personnel involved should have it made clear to them that they are entitled to compensation.
I have here a document which I received in reply to my first telegram. I point out that it was received only after a long delay. Had it been received earlier, it is possible that some related matters would not be sub judice. Firstly, the document says that a widow will be paid £3,000 plus £100 for each dependent child and that in cases where no pension is payable a refund of contributions will be made to the estate. It also says that basic compensation entitlement will be those prescribed by the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act 1930- 1962, which is administered by the Commissioner for Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation. Tt continues -
As you will have noted, a royal commission has been appointed to enquire into the circumstances in which the collision occurred and it is a matter for the commission to determine who will be allowed to appear or be legally represented at the inquiry. However, in the case of persons claiming compensation under the Commonwealth
Employees’ Compensation Act, I can assure you that all claims will be handled speedily and sympathetically. As all personnel of the Voyager were on duty for. the purposes of the act at the time of the collision, fully dependent next-of-kin will be virtually automatically entitled to the maximum payment under the act of three thousand pounds plus one hundred pounds for each dependent child under sixteen. In these circumstances there should be no necessity for persons to be represented at the royal commission inquiry for the purpose of establishing claims under the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act.
No thought is given there to the fact that these people should be represented before the inquiry in order to protect their standing in the community or to safeguard their interests in the event of their claiming compensation under the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act. They should be given every assistance to protect themselves against any attempt to prove that death, for instance, was due to causes which would preclude them from making claims under the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act, especially when we appreciate that the act provides that where it is proved that a person who is injured or killed is culpable or has been negligent in any way he shall lose all rights under the act. No doubt the Government would not raise such a point because it would prefer to get out of its trouble by paying the miserable amount of compensation provided for, but the people concerned should be protected and the act should be amended to ensure that they do receive adequate protection. The document continues -
The above answers refer to compensation under the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act. In addition there is the normal right of any person to make a claim for damages under common law against the Commonwealth. If he has received payment under the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act, proceedings under common law must be commenced within twelve months of receiving the first compensation payment. Such a claim would be similar to any other civil action in a court and legal representation would be the responsibility of the person initiating the action.
As I have said, that is financially impossible for 98 per cent, of the personnel of the “ Voyager “. The document continues -
The far-reaching effect on survivors and relatives of the loss of the “ Voyager “ and so many of her crew are appreciated and full consideration will be given to aspects which arise and are not covered by existing provisions.
I submit that the Government had a duty to make an early statement in this Parliament in relation to matters that could not be deemed to be sub judice in order that all concerned would be properly and fully informed. With the concurrence of honorable senators, I incorporate in “ Hansard “ the full text of the telegram to which I have been referring. It reads -
Senator J. A. Cooke, Federal Members Rooms, Perth, W.A.
Further my telegram 14th February. Have carefully considered your questions relating to “ Voyager “ dependants and now set out following answers: -
In the case of married members killed or missing, payment is being made to their widows, on Friday 21st February, of the normal rate of allotment by the member. Subsequent payments, up to the rate of their ultimate D.F.R.B. pension entitlement, will be made fortnightly until the D.F.R.B. pension takes over.
In addition 3 fortnightly payments of twenty pounds ten shillings will be made from the R.A.N. Relief Trust Fund.
In the case of single members who were allotting moneys to parents, final payments are being made on 21st February. Three fortnightly payments of twenty pounds ten shillings will be made by the R.A.N. Relief Trust Fund. No D.F.R.B. pension is payable in these cases - a refund of contributions is made to the estate.
Where an entitlement to payment in lieu of furlough exists, normally after 4 years service in the case of death, early payment will be made to dependants.
Provision exists for the nearest relative and one other person to travel at public expense to attend a service funeral for a deceased member. Action was required under this provision in one case only following the sinking of the “ Voyager” and the father and brother of the deceased member were brought from Brisbane to Sydney for the funeral. Arrangements are being made for lost crew members’ next of kin and one other person to travel at public expense to attend memorial services within their home States. Widows and families of deceased members will be entitled to fares and removal of furniture and effects to any place in Australia under the same conditions as would have applied to the member himself on final discharge.
The basic compensation entitlements will be those prescribed by the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act 1930-1962, which is administered by the Commissioner for Commonwealth Employees Compensation.
As you will have noted, a royal commission has been appointed to inquire into the circumstances in which the collision occurred and it is a matter for the commission to determine who will be allowed to appear or be legally represented at the inquiry. However, in the case of persons claiming compensation under the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act, I can assure you that all claims will be handled speedily and sympathetically. As all personnel of the “ Voyager “ were on duty for the purposes of the act at the time of the collision, fully dependent next-of-kin will be virtually automatically entitled to the maximum payment under’ the act of three thousand pounds plus one hundred pounds for each dependent child under sixteen. In these circumstances there should be no necessity for persons to be represented at the royal commission inquiry for the purpose of establishing claims under the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act. In the circumstances also there should be no need for a formal hearing by the Commissioner for Commonwealth Employees Compensation. Claimants who were partially dependent on one of the lost crew members would of course be required to furnish documentary information on the degree of their dependency.
As explained in the answer to question four, the administration of the claims procedure under the act, is such that there should be no requirement for persons to incur expense in making a claim under the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act.
Provision exists under section 20 of this act for an appeal against a determination or action of the Commissioner for Commonwealth Employees Compensation to be heard in a county court.
Compensation for damage or loss to personal effects is provided under the regulations and all claims will be carefully considered having regard to these regulations and the circumstances of the loss of H.M.A.S. “ Voyager “.
All next-of-kin who were totally or partially dependent on a deceased member are being assisted in lodging a formal claim by naval authorities in each State.
The above answers refer to compensation under the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act. In addition there is the normal right of any person to make a claim for damages under common law against the Commonwealth. If he has received payment under the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act, proceedings under common law must be commenced within 12 months of receiving the first compensation payment. Such a claim would be similar to any other civil action in a court and legal representation would be the responsibility of the person initiating the action.
The far-reaching effect on survivors and relatives of the loss of the “ Voyager “ and so many of her crew are appreciated and full consideration will be given to aspects which arise and are not covered by existing provisions.
FORBES, Minister for Navy.
I point out that the telegram states, among other things, that no person would incur expense in applying for compensation. Let me remind honorable senators that I have handled four cases so far and the expenses incurred in all four were considerable and were not recoverable. Most of that expense was incurred through ignorance. For instance, the people concerned thought that they would be required to travel to another State and to employ counsel. They employed counsel and then found that they could not succeed. They had to pay for all this. The telegram also states that any person concerned would be given free travel to attend funeral services. Only two applications were made for such free travel, but I wonder whether all the relatives involved knew that they were entitled to free travel. I feel that they should also have been given free accommodation, but no mention is made of that in the telegram. I must say, however, that I do know that accommodation has been provided in other cases.
I leave with the Government my case in support of my assertion that these people will not receive adequate compensation and that they will not enjoy adequate protection under the present methods of dealing with compensation cases. I remind the Government that I have quoted a report of one civil action which amply demonstrates the wide disparity between what was awarded to an ordinary technician employed by the electric supply authority in London and that which is considered sufficient for trained personnel in the Australian Navy.
It is with great sorrow that I make this submission. The loss is terrible, both to the nation and to those who have suffered bereavement. There is also the less important matter of loss of personal belongings and chattels. It is sometimes very difficult to prove that loss has occurred. People have come to see me and have said, “ Look, we are not worried about this, but this article has gone. What do we do about it?” I have said, “Make your claim “. In a particular case I said, “ An assessment will be made of the claim. If it is considered reasonable you will be paid a lump sum, as the bottle-oh pays you for your empty bottles.”
I say to the Government that the provisions of the act are not adequate. Yet, the Government has never considered amending the legislation. It has been left to members of the Parliament to deal with each set of tragic circumstances individually. I plead with the Government to take1 action so that it will not again be necessary to say, as the “ West Australian “ newspaper said, “The Government is not generous to service personnel killed and injured in peacetime “. It is the duty of this Parliament, not merely of the Opposition, to force the Government to deal with this situation. There is much more that could be said on the subject, but I think I have said sufficient to sow the seed, and perhaps something will now be done to givea better deal to people such as those to whom I have referred.
I turn to other matters which should have been given more attention by the Government. First, I wish to mention a matter that I raised during question time in the Senate yesterday. I asked Senator Gorton a question concerning apprenticeships, but it did not appear in “ Hansard “ because the Minister asked that it be placed on the notice-paper, since he did not know very much about the matter. I may say that I have questioned him on two previous occasions about it. Since the question that I asked yesterday does not appear in “Hansard”, I shall refer to the matter now. I inform the Minister that the Department of Labour and National Service pays a living-away-from-home allowance to apprentices who go to the country to undertake apprenticeship with tradesmen or in industry whether the apprentice resides in the city or country. However, if a country child wishes to go to the city to become an apprentice and to take advantage of the better supervision and better technical training that is available, there is no such allowance. A few young people in the country are able to become apprenticed to country tradesmen. Some young people in the cities take up apprenticeships with country journeymen, or in trades and crafts in the country. When they do so they are entitled to a minimum allowance. They learn how the various trades and services are carried on in the bush.
One of the problems of country areas is the difficulty that the children experience in entering industry and in learning trades. I appeal to the Government to consider this matter. The Australian apprenticeship system is breaking down badly because of the policy which the Government has followed. There is continual opposition to the recognition of skilled trades and of the training that is involved in them, and the payment that skilled tradesmen receive does not compare favorably with that received by other members of the community. Subcontracting is becoming .the order of the day in many industries. The sub-contractor is out to get work done at the lowest possible cost. To do so, he uses the most inexpensive methods. He has no sentiment about training apprentices. In fact, he cannot train them because, while he has a job to-day, he may not have one to-morrow. He goes from point to point. He cuts building costs to a degree, but only in the interests of the main contractor. The Government saves nothing because of this system. The contractors get together and submit tenders to the Government. The sub-contractor tenders to the. contractor. In many instances sub-contractors carry out the work of the various trades without employing apprentices. In New South Wales, a request has been made for a pool of apprentices to be formed so that apprentices will .be available to- employers for short-term jobs. That is not a good system.
The Government should do more than it is doing at the present time to encourage apprentices to go from the country to the city to seek proper training; There should be a brighter outlook for the country child who wants -to enter industry. I leave with the Government the suggestion that, for a start, it should make available to all children who wish to become apprentices a living-away-from-home allowance. After all, this is an educational matter. Many country parents find that they cannot afford to send their children to the city to be trained in a trade.
– The intake of apprentices in some trades is much too low.
– It is too restricted.
– Yes, but if the requirement of an apprentice to every two journeymen was observed there would be no trouble at all. I suggest that the cutting of prices by sub-contractors to main contractors and the other matters I have mentioned should be examined. The ratio of apprentices to journeymen need not be altered. Many employers make a sacrifice, in the early years, in taking on apprentices, but a sub-contractor who is moving from place to place and is unable to guarantee continuity of employment cannot take on apprentices.
– He does not take his quota.
– No, because it is not sufficiently attractive to him to do so.
– But there are many employers who would take a higher proportion of apprentices than one to every two journeymen.
– They cannot take more than the arbitration legislation allows, and I would not, recommend that they should do so for the reason that we might then have poorly trained journeymen. We are proud of the standard of - training which Australian apprentices receive. It would not be a wise policy to try to get juvenile labour on the cheap, because that would result only in poorly trained journeymen.
During this debate we have heard a great deal about the development of Australia. If development means the spending of huge sums of public money for the advantage of private industry, we have done a lot. Fortunately, not all of the money has been spent in that way. There are many aspects of development, and these have become apparent on each occasion that the Government has set out to develop the isolated areas of Australia. I think that real development is achieved when men are able to take their wives and families to isolated areas and to enjoy, proper facilities. Huge sums of money have been spent on beef roads, irrigation works and other projects, but I have found, as I have travelled about the areas in which these projects have been commenced, that the women folk and the average workers have been poorly served. The housing has not been good, medical services have been poor, and schooling facilities, if they have existed at all, have made provision only for the primary stages of education. Children wishing to undertake higher education have had to go away to school.
The wages in such areas may be higher than they are in urban areas, but that does not compensate for all the disadvantages. A worker’s wife may suffer a break-down in health because of the lack of amenities and medical attention. She may have to leave the area. If she does so, the worker will get away from it as quickly as he can, too, and another nomad may take his place. If Australia is to expand we must develop these places in such a way that it will be possible for the persons who go there to have amenities for their families and educational facilities. They should be given education allowances. We should provide basic protection for the population. Some say that is impossible because it is too expensive but the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited has done it at iron ore deposits in the islands in the northern waters of Western Australia. The accommodation is good there. Admittedly, it is expensive but if we are sincere in saying that we want people in the north we must give them these facilities. But there is a stereotype approach to the problem. We have always regarded the development of the north as being applicable to an area above a certain parallel and we grant such attractions as taxation concessions to persons living there. It is mainly people on high incomes who benefit from them. They do not affect the worker very much.
– Yes, they do.
– The man who comes in for six months on seasonal work and goes out again is all right. But the schoolteacher who is not transferred for a full year does not benefit.
– The people in Zone A got taxation deductions.
– If they are there all the time they get a concession.
– They get a big one.
– It is quite a reasonable one but it does not compensate a man for the disability of being in the north. The tax concession alone would not encourage anybody to live there. I want to put a submission to the Government in relation to Zone A. I do not believe that there are not other areas in Western Australia - and possibly in Queensland - outside Zone A which are screaming for development and which are deserving cases for taxation concessions of the kind given to persons in Zone A. Some one has drawn a line across the map of Australia and said, “ Above that line you can suffer and get a tax deduction, but below it you can suffer and shut up “.
The Pastoralists and Graziers Association of Western Australia has put forward, in a letter, a submission in this connexion. As Senator Morris has said, the workers can be assisted by the application of a measure such as this to the areas concerned: I think that the National Government must give consideration to this matter. The letter reads as follows: -
Since 1957 when the Federal Government altered the southern boundary of Zone A, in W.A.- and this applies to other parts of Australia, too - to the 26th parallel, the State Government has adopted this parallel as a line of demarcation when granting other concessions.
Above that geographical line the people were privileged. Below it they were not. The letter continues -
In view of the changed thinking both in arid out of Parliament in regard to our under-developed and sparsely populated areas it is certain that more consideration will have to be given to these areas to induce development.
These people have had fair assistance but the association is now dealing with the point which I am trying to drive home to the Senate. The letter continues -
Since the final arbiter of success will be the human element-
That is the family man to whom I have referred - it means there must be sufficient services and economic incentive to make living conditions and rewards compare more favourably with the temperate zones and doubtless these concessions will be made in the near future.
In Western Australia the use of the 26th parallel as a line of demarcation to arrive at concessions has always been recognized, by those affected, as completely unfair. Where it starts on the coast (transport) distance is 500 miles (from Perth). As you follow this line east the distance from Perth increases and you have people only 40 miles north of Meekatharra getting concessions; whereas people up to 250 miles further east, yet south of Meekatharra and under far greater disabilities are not entitled to any concessions because they are below the 26th parallel.
– Excuse me, but that is not right. Zone B attracts concessions, too. It is south of Zone A. The concession in Zone B is not as great as in Zone A.
– The people in Zone B enjoy some concession. But there are isolated undeveloped areas and the concession is not given to people living in them. I am referring to places such as Zanthus, on the East-West railway, and Pigeon Station, which is south of Kalgoorlie. Nearly £750,000 was spent there by a very honorable man who tried to do what he thought was the right thing for the pastoral industry and for development. He does not receive any concession.
– That is in Zone B.
– Zanthus is not and Pigeon Station is not. It is just out of Kalgoorlie, is it not?
– No - it is in Zone B.
– I would not argue about that. It could be in Zone B. But my plea is that these areas should be classified similarly to the areas in Zone A and Zone B because of their isolation, because nf the disabilities suffered in respect of transport, and because of the development that is needed. In some places in the north in Zone A the people are much better served than those in some isolated, undeveloped places outside the zone. The letter to which I have referred continues - rt is our request that the use of the 26th parallel should be discontinued as a line of demarcation for the granting of concessions. It is negative to stress the difficulties of finding a completely fair line of demarcation. We therefore submit that a more equitable line be used with a basis of SOO miles (transport) from Perth.
I do not submit that proposal as an alternative, but I think that consideration should be given to under-developed areas which suffer disabilities and poor services. The letter continues -
A line starting on the west coast at the 26th parallel thence south-east intersecting the railway about 20 miles north of Mount Magnet continuing south-east to intersect the railway about 40 miles south of Leonora thence east to a point of Zanthus on the Trans line and thence south to the coast.
I ask the Government to give consideration to this proposal. At the same time, I ask that consideration be given to a submission that I have made many times on behalf of teachers and others who go to the north for broken periods of the year. This submission is that they should be given a taxation concession for working in the north. There is a disability in shifting to the north and shifting out again. The present taxation concession does not operate until people have been in the north for twelve months.
– Yes, it does.
– Not for a broken taxation year - not in Western Australia at any rate. I have taxation submissions to support that. If Senator Morris can get the concession for these people I shall inform them accordingly. Representatives of the schoolteachers’ union have stated that schoolteachers who go to the north do not benefit from the taxation concession. They find no such advantage in being there for the first twelve months and they break their necks to get back, and they do get back, to the south. The same may be said of other workers in the area.
– I have paid them on that basis a week after they started work.
– They might have deductions made from their weekly pay but, when their taxation for the year is ultimately assessed, they do not benefit. I notice that there is no mention in the Governor-General’s Speech of another credit squeeze. This is a nasty term. The Government does not like it. I do not know what Government supporters call it now. It is not applied directly to an industry such as the motor industry. Reaction from a big industry such as that is severe. The Senate is well aware of how the Government’s proposals in relation to the motor car industry were put into effect, and withdrawn at the time of the credit squeeze. The Government then gave an assurance that no such measures would be applied to specific industries. Nevertheless, on 29th February, the Reserve Bank of Australia made a further move to curb bank liquidity. It called up £32,000,000 from the major trading banks, increasing the reserve deposit ratio from 14 per cent, to 15i per cent. It is interesting to note how insidiously these measures are taken. This was the third call-up in seven weeks and it raised the total amount withdrawn from bank funds this year to £99,000,000. That is a considerable amount
This- is a trend that could continue. It might be good medicine if we had no consideration for its effect on industry. But why should we take castor oil while foreign investors who are not subject to credit restrictions are buying up the country? If this money which has been withdrawn from circulation were invested in Australian industry, we should not have to worry about being infiltrated economically by other nations. At present, Australia is being taken over by other nations as effectively as if it were being taken over by feat of arms. It could not be done by feat of arms, but it is being done insidiously by financial means. The Government’s policy might be to depress the conditions of workers and to keep Australians from being in an affluent position, but if that is not so, then, as this amount of credit is available, why not permit it to be used by Australians to invest in Australian industry for the development of this country? The Government may think that the Australian people are too unstable to handle the money and to invest it properly. Nevertheless it should not allow other nations to buy our heritage. It should not prevent us, by credit restrictions and the withdrawal of available credit, from getting what is logically and rightly ours.
We have developed this country. Our industrial production, per capita, is good. When we had to take up arms overseas, no country had a better record than Australia. However, when it is a question of whether the people of Australia have enough sense to use properly the money that is available to develop Australia, the Government ceases to recognize that Australia is a great nation and hands it over to big financial institutions overseas. I was very pleased to hear Senator McClelland to-day trying to infuse a national spirit into the Government. He mentioned a national anthem and a number of other things, but there are more vital things that the Government should consider. The matter to which I have referred is one of them.
Recently I put a question to the Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner), about the negotiations that are going on about the price of oil in Queensland. The Minister informed mc that he hopes that at some time the two big combines .concerned will reach agreement and that everything will go smoothly.’ The truth is that these two combines will develop this industry in Australia when it suits them. This is not a problem that faces Australia alone - the problem of big oil combines developing industries in countries where the resources they need are to be found. How nice it would be if the consumer were able to have a say in regard to prices. Unfortunately, the consumer must pay the price that he is asked to pay; that is the- way that business operates. This is a case of the big oil cartels saying to Australia, in effect, “ You will develop as fast as we will permit you to develop, and no faster than that “.
Successive governments have given assurances from time to time that this state of affairs would not be allowed to occur - governments formed from parties from both sides of the chamber: The Minister for National Development informed me that he does not think the position would have been any different if Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited had been controlled by the Government. No doubt that is so,because if the company were controlled by the present Government it would play ball with the combines. That would not have been the case if a Labour government were in power. The reason why a Labour government acquired an interest in Commonwealth Oil Refineries Ltd. was to. prevent this sort of thing from happening. We would have had a bargaining point and we would not have been dependent on overseas interests for the development of an industry which is rightly and properly ours. We would have treated these combines adequately and generously, but we would not have allowed them to interfere with the development of this nation in the way they are doing now.
– That is not happening.
– It has got very close to happening. I want to see development, but I do not want to see this sort of thing happening.
– It will not happen.
– I hope that it will not. I hope that development will go on continuously.
Oil was struck in Western Australia, but there was some doubt about the size of the deposit. The hole was sealed down by a very large oil organization. I was prepared at the time to put the little bit of money I had into the venture as a gamble, the same as I would have put money on a race horse. As a guess, I would say that what happened there followed the pattern to be found throughout the world. It may be necessary for this sort of thing to be done in some countries, because all development cannot take place at once, but Australia’s oil deposits warrant development now. If the Government is really concerned with defence, it should see that Australia has easy access to oil, with no possibility of interference with supplies. I agree that we could not sell the oil ourselves. I would not be foolish enough to try to deceive myself into thinking that we could. That would be a bigger job than this Government is capable of handling.
We have had a similar position in this country before, in relation to aluminium. We developed an aluminium industry that could produce a product as cheap and as good as any that was offering on the market, but we could not sell our aluminium because the market was so closely tied up by the big combines. They said that if they were given a controlling interest in our aluminium industry, things would go swimmingly. They did. I do not say that the Government was unwise in what it did, because the combines were strong. However, I ask the Government not to allow .a similar position to arise in regard to oil.
With regard to the position of the Moonie oil, I think the Senate is entitled to a straight-out statement. The Minister said that it would not be fair at this stage to disclose what was going on. Apparently he does not take into consideration the fact that the Australian people have spent millions and millions of pounds in bringing this oil to light. They are entitled to know what the position is. They should be told the two sides of the story simply and fairly, but I am afraid that that has not been done.
– That is only because negotiations are proceeding.
– I know that negotiations are proceeding. They will probably be concluded to the satisfaction of the big business interests and an agreement will be arrived at. I hope that the agreement will be in the interests of the Australian people and that they will be properly recouped for the huge amount of money they have expended on the search for oil. Do you agree with that?
– I am very glad that we agree on that matter and that you sincerely wish development to go on in the national interest so that we can retain our heritage. I think that, with your ability, you may be able to influence the Government. I know that you have ability because of the manner in which you moved the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply.
I wish now to deal with other matters which I hope will be considered by the Government. The Speech of His Excellency was probably the most positive speech that we have heard from a Governor-General for some time. In recent years the Government has shown its contempt of the Parliament by giving very little information in the Governor-General’s Speech. On this occasion I was glad to see - probably it was the result of pressure brought to bear on tha Government - more constructive speech. Let me refer to child endowment. After more than a decade on office the Government is going to give some relief to those in receipt of child endowment. An amount of 15s. is to be given in certain circumstances. I hope that the legislation will be brought in expeditiously and later amended to provide more just treatment for the families of Australia. The Government’s housing proposal was an election gimmick. I was reminded of the man who said, “If you buy a £220 refrigerator it will be filled with turkey, six dozen bottles of beer and so on “. Men in the trade knew that there was a margin for that, but who could buy a £220 refrigerator? The Government’s proposal is that young couples who are fortunate enough to save £250 a year for three years will receive a bonus of £250. I shall be very pleased if they do. However, that is the case of the “ haves “. What is the position of the “ have nots “? A young man who wants to get married is not in the race to save £250 a year. I know the financial position of young married people with a few kiddies. The husband may have a reasonable job with a margin over the basic wage. By the time he has paid his rent, supported his family and met medical and hospital charges, he cannot put aside £5 a week.
– You referred to a young man saving to get married.
– There is a difficulty in his case, if he has family responsibilities. The honorable senator may not have had experience of them, but I have. It would have been difficult for me to save so much after meeting my responsibilities.
– As a single man?
– When I was a single man, yes. As to the position now, 1 do not know. A young man has to get the girl and he has to get the money. He has to keep saving for three years. Then, if the Government is in the same frame of mind, he will receive his subsidy. In wellregulated conditions young men may remain single for three years, saving £250 a year, but there will be some breakdowns along the track. That would be only natural. A person’s natural right in this country, as a citizen who has paid his taxes and met all his other commitments to the Government and the community, is to receive assistance in obtaining housing when he gets married. Why should he be at a disadvantage, and why should he disclose his economic circumstances to the Government? Why should there be a distinction between the “ haves “ and the “ have nots “? Senator Morris thinks that a man should be able to save £250 a year for three years. Whether he can is arguable. What is not arguable, in my opinion, is that one citizen who is able to do it should be privileged over a person who is not able to do it. If this is to be the trend of the administration, it is not welcome. I am reminded of the category into which the Government has put pensioners. The Government pays two single pensioners living together more than it pays to married pensioners, who are penalized. The Government has produced gimmicks in order to assist it to put over a good story. These are not bad stories. They are like the stories that are used by salesmen in every department of selling, so why should they not be used politically? But they are gimmicks, and they result in the lower strata of the community being cheated.
– Yes. If a man is not able to save enough, he cannot get any assistance from the Government. That is wrong.- Every person who pays his taxes and who works honorably is entitled without restriction to assistance in getting a home when he gets married. I cannot see it in any other way. The Government should avoid distinction between the citizen who has and the citizen who has not.
– Do you not think that there is any merit in thrift?
– I think that there is every merit in thrift.
– Because that is what it is intended to achieve.
– On the Government’s part.
– No, on the individual’s part.
– The Government is exercising thrift, because it is avoiding assistance to every individual to obtain a home on the best conditions. I regard my criticism as just and valid. I hope that the anomaly will be corrected. Let us consider the case of a married man with a couple of children, who is seeking to qualify for the bonus issue which the Government is making on its stocks. He is not in the race, although he is most urgently in need of housing relief.
– Seventy-four per cent, of the Australian people have their own homes.
– I am very pleased that they have. They are entitled to them, but they do not own the homes. I should like to see the percentage raised. Relief is needed mostly by the. young married man in an average job, whose wife cannot work but has to remain- home to look after the children. I do not say that he represents the majority of the voters. It has been shown statistically that he does not. We have a duty to see that he is properly and equitably treated, and that he receives what the Government’s resources will permit, without there being - any demarcation between him and the more fortunate person who has more capital. So much for that. I go on, in relation to a few other matters.
– You and Tennyson both.
– I shall conclude on that note. We shall have another opportunity to discuss some of the Government’s measures.
– I did not make that comment offensively.
– No, I take it as a compliment. I do not know what it means, but I am sure that the honorable senator would not be so unkind as to be other than complimentary. When the Government decides what its promises meant, we shall have legislation before the Senate. At present, the Government is struggling desperately in an effort to reduce to positive form the gimmicks that it dragged out of the air when it found that it was on the spot after Labour’s policy had been stated. The Government does not understand the implications of what it has offered. It is rather like a big firm which went broke and stated in court that with the assistance of a gimmick it had sold so much that its credit was over-taxed and it had to come back to earth.
– They did not know that the gun was loaded.
– That is the position. This is the first Speech for very many years to contain a number of positive items. The Government says that it will move in certain directions, and 1 am very pleased with this. This will give the Opposition an opportunity to improve and reconstruct the Government’s proposals if the Government is amenable to such reconstruction.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– Mr. President, I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave - At the last federal election the Government placed before the people of Australia plans to assist the provision and equipment of science teaching laboratories in secondary schools. It was made clear that the assistance to be provided for such purposes would be available to all schools with a complete absence of any discrimination. Procedures to achieve this end have now been discussed with all the States and there is agreement that they raise no special problem for any State, although the Tasmanian Minister for Education has indicated that he would prefer the distribution to the States to be on the basis of secondary school enrolments rather than State populations as we intend. Where necessary, all States will co-operate with the Commonwealth in the implementation of the scheme.
The amount for the purpose is £5,000,000 annually and it is intended to divide the amount each year between government schools and non-government schools. The division will be made by obtaining the numbers pf secondary school pupils enrolled in government schools and the numbers of secondary school pupils enrolled in nongovernment schools and dividing the total amount of money in proportion to those numbers as certified by the Commonwealth Statistician. This will be done on an Australia-wide basis and would at present result in a sum of the order of £3,750,000 being available for government schools throughout Australia and a sum of the order of £1,250,000 being available for nongovernment schools throughout Australia. The sum available for government schools will then be allotted to the various State governments in proportion to the population of the States as certified by the Commonwealth Statistician.
Allotment w il be made by way of a grant under section 96 of the Constitution and the recipient State will be entirely responsible for spending the sum allotted it in ways which, in its opinion, best suit the requirements of education in that State. The grant will, however, be made subject to the conditions that it can be spent only on the provision of science teaching laboratories in secondary schools or the provision of capital equipment for such laboratories, and it will be subject to the further condition that the items on which it is spent, and the source of the funds so spent, are clearly identifiable in the State budget. The Commonwealth has made in clear to the States that it expects the sums so provided to be regarded as supplementary and additional to sums which the State would normally provide for education.
Money for these purposes will be. made available in the 1964-65 Budget - that is to say, in the financial year beginning on 1st July, 1964. The States have been made aware of this and are no doubt in the process of preparing their plans for the expenditure of the money to be available to them for these purposes.
In the case of non-government schools, the Commonwealth will be solely responsible for deciding grants. To do so, it will adopt the following procedures. First, it will allot the amount available for nongovernment schools among the States having regard to the population of each State, though in later years it may be necessary not to be too strictly ‘bound in this regard. The amount available for each State will then be divided into two parts. One part will be for assistance to non-Catholic schools within the boundaries of that State and the other part for assistance to Catholic schools within the boundaries of that State. This division will be made by obtaining the number of secondary school pupils enrolled in non-Catholic schools, and the number of secondary school pupils enrolled in Catholic schools, and dividing the sum available in proportion to those numbers as certified by the Commonwealth Statistician. The Government will preserve some flexibility in this procedure so that the division may, as necessary, be adapted to the needs of schools for science buildings and equipment as the scheme develops. There will thus be for non-government schools within the boundaries of each State a sum for assistance to non-Catholic schools and a sum for assistance to Catholic schools.
All secondary schools, whether boys’ schools, girls’ schools, or co-educational schools, are eligible to receive assistance, and any science teaching laboratory the construction of which began after 1st December, 1963, is a building eligible to be considered for assistance. No such building which was constructed before 1st December, 1963, or which was in course of construction at that date, however, will be considered as eligible to receive assistance. A school is, however, eligible to apply for assistance for capital equipment bought after December 1st, 1963. Money for these purposes will be made available in the 1964-65 Commonwealth Budget, that is, during. the financial year beginning 1st July, 1964. Schools which arc eligible for assistance, and which seek assistance, should therefore make application for such assistance as soon as possible. Applications should be made to the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education, Prime Minister’s Department, East Block, Canberra.
It is clear that very many independent schools will be seeking assistance and that in the first years of the scheme, and despite the funds available, the Commonwealth will not be able to assist all schools that are eligible. It is intended therefore to select in each State schools to be regarded as those which fall into a category meriting first consideration for assistance. This selection will be done by the Commonwealth, having regard to the number of secondary school pupils at a school, the number of such students doing science courses, the teaching facilities already available, and similar -criteria. Even so. all schools falling within this category will not be able to be assisted initially and it will be necessary to allot priorities to such schools within each State’s boundaries..
For this purpose, the Commonwealth hopes to create, within each State’s boundaries, two advisory bodies. One body, drawn from those responsible for nonCatholic schools, will be asked to suggest priorities for such schools and, subject to the standards proposed being acceptable to the Commonwealth, to advise on the amount of assistance extended to each school. The other body, drawn from those responsible for Catholic schools, will be asked to do the same for such schools. When grants are decided by the Commonwealth, they will be made to a State under section 96 of the Constitution. The State concerned will act as agent for the Commonwealth and will not accept any responsibility for making such grants.
I should perhaps emphasize that these advisory bodies have not yet been set up and it will be my next task to conduct talks for the purpose of setting them up. But, in the meantime, so that honorable senators may know the lines on which the Commonwealth is proceeding and so that schools which require assistance may make application without delay, I believe it appropriate to make this statement in this place.
I add that the question of the standard to which a laboratory ought to be built, or at least the standard for which Commonwealth funds should be supplied, is one that has received our attention. For advice on this matter, we are setting up a small committee which we have asked Mr. L. C. Robson to chair. Mr. Robson is a former headmaster of Sydney Church of England Grammar School and has had much experience of these matters in his capacity as Chairman of the Committee of Advice of the Industrial Fund which has been engaged for some years in assisting independent schools to build science teaching laboratories. This committee will be available to give advice, when asked, to schools planning to build science laboratories and will be responsible for advising the Commonwealth as to suitable and reasonable standards for laboratories for particular numbers of students, and Commonwealth assistance will be limited to providing, or assisting to provide, funds necessary to build to that standard.
This is the situation regarding this matter at this point of time. I shall keep honorable senators informed of progress in the setting up in each State of the advisory bodies to which I have referred.
In conclusion I say this: There are a number of different procedures which could be adopted for making the various divisions between State governments referred to above. The one set out above appears to the Commonwealth to meet requirements most nearly and has been agreed to by five of the States. It will be the basis used for the first year of operation. But this is a new scheme. It must be tested in operation. In subsequent years it may develop that the State governments would prefer the Commonwealth to consider some other system of division between them. If they do agree that some other system is preferable in the future, and provided the Commonwealth is satisfied that an agreed proposal is just to all, the Commonwealth will always be prepared to listen to suggestions designed to make the scheme operate harmoniously and to the greatest benefit of the greatest number of Australian students. I present the following paper: -
Statement on Provision of Science Buildings and Equipment in Secondary Schools, and move -
That the paper be printed.
I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - I have received from the House of Representatives the following resolution which was agreed to by the House of Representatives this day and a request that the Senate concur and take action accordingly -
That the joint select committee known as the Joint Select Committee on Parliamentary and Government Publications that was constituted by resolutions of the House of Representatives and the Senate passed on the5th December, 1962, be reconstituted under the name of the Joint Select Committee on Parliamentary and Government Publications with the same membership as the first-mentioned committee had immediately before the dissolution of the House of Representatives on the 1st day of November, 1963, namely: -
Motion (by Senator Sir William Spooner) - by leave - agreed to -
That Standing Order No. 14 be suspended to permit, before the Address-in-Reply is adopted, the appointment of the Joint Committee.
Motion (by Senator Sir William Spooner) - by leave - agreed to - there being present an absolute majority of the whole number of senators and no dissentient voice -
That the Senate concurs in the resolution trans mitted to the Senate by Message No. 4 of the House of Representatives relating to the reconstitution of the Joint Select Committee on Parliamentary and Government Publications;
That the resolution, so far as it is inconsistent with the Standing Orders, have effect notwithstanding anything contained in the Standing Orders;
That the foregoing resolutions be communicated to the House of Representatives by message.
– I present a report by the Tariff Board on the following subject: -
Woven cotton tape.
– by leave - On page 3 of to-day’s issue of the Sydney “ Daily Mirror “, there appears an article under the caption “ Banned books for M.P.’s”. The article states -
There is a busy traffic in the books. They are read and re-read by members.
The facts disclose that in the last ten months, five members of Parliament have made in total six applications for a total of seven books, the prohibition of which had been a matter of public controversy. I feel in justice to the members of Parliament that I shoud make that statement.
Messages received from the House of Represen atives intimating that the honorable members named had been appointed to serve with the following committees: -
Parliamentary Proceedings Broadcasting - Mr. Speaker (Hon. Sir John McLeay), Mr. Costa, Mr. G. D. Erwin, Mr. Falkinder, Mr. Luchetti and Mr. Turnbull.
Public Accounts - Mr. Cleaver, Mr. Cockle, Mr. Cope, Mr. Costa, Mr. Nixon, Mr. Sexton and Mr. Whittorn.
Debate resumed (vide page 265).
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting I had covered many matters to which I suggested the Government should give urgent attention, and I think honorable senators on the Government side were greatly impressed with’ the arguments I adduced. I feel that they, too, believe that the Government should give to my submissions early and serious consideration. There are other matters which I think the Government would have been well advised to include in His Excellency’s Speech. For instance, it should have given us something more definite about the defence of Australia. What was said, of course, could not be argued against. It was nebulous, the sort of thing that could be said by any government, for it merely said that all is well and that we have never had it better.
Those of us who give serious thought to the defence of Australia know that we have some great problems confronting us, problems which have been made more serious by recent tragic events in the Australian Navy, such as the loss of ships, which is to be deplored, and the loss of personnel who are virtually irreplacable, all within a very short period. I suggest, therefore, that the Government should make a fuller statement to the people about its attitude towards defence, one of the issues on which it fought the last election. I remind honorable senators that comparatively junior Ministers have been placed in charge of our defences. No doubt they are excellent men, but this allocation of responsibility on the part of the Government is a clear indication of the order of priority in which it places these serious matters which must be carried out with efficiency, especially during a time of war. The people have every right to expect from the Government some factual, more reasoned and truer report of the condition of Australia’s defences.
Of course, the Government can always reply that there are procedures laid down in this Parliament by which we may obtain information or get action. What are these procedures? If we can speak during the adjournment debate, we are ignored by the Ministers. If we endeavour to raise any particular matter by way of questions we get evasive answers. If we bring in bills to amend or alter conditions they are shelved by being put low down on the business sheet. Our defence problems arc far too important to be neglected.
The present debate is one of the occasions on which we have an opportunity to make submissions to the Government. I have made my submissions. This Government’s report on the rate of progress that Australia should make in production and development is to be deplored. If Australia was at the ceiling of her development as are America and other nations in the Western world it would be a different matter. We all know the progress that has been made by West Germany,. America and other countries. Australia is only a developing nation. We have a huge potential, we have tremendous resources and we have an excellent work force. When we consider these facts, we cannot help but feel that much greater progress could have been made by the proper application of the advances achieved in science and industry. It is deplorable that we have not had a more comprehensive report on what the Government proposes to do about our progress. I should like to see such a report tabled so it may be debated by the Parliament.
All the matters which I have mentioned are questions which the Opposition has in mind for consideration. They all relate to government responsibilities. No doubt the Government has convinced some of the people that it has been successful and that the progress made by Australia is to be commended, but I point out that Australia has been blessed with good seasons, and has enjoyed the bounty of nature.
– And we have a good government.
– And we have a competent’ work force at the disposal of the Government. If, having all those advantages, this Government had made its proper contribution, our rate of progress would have doubled. I do appeal to the Government not to give control of Australia’s capacity to produce, her resources and her potential, to any other nation. Let the Australian people enjoy the heritage which they rightly deserve. Let them become owners in their own country, not mendicants, hewers of wood and carriers of water for foreign capital which has come into Australia and which has had a great influence on this Government as will be seen from the remarkable condition of overseas balances. The cut-up of those overseas balances is not good; indeed, I say that the people of Australia have been deceived by this inflow of foreign capital. In the interests of the- Australian people, foreign capital should not be permitted to have such an undue influence on our economy. 1 am sure most honorable senators on the Government side will agree with me. While our primary producers are doing excellent work in increasing production, the returns they receive are often less than the minimum provided for when we were working with a production cost under world parity price although on occasions we have been on a level- with world parity and in some cases above it. We want the Government to give consideration and attention to all these matters.
I should like to congratulate honorable senators on both sides for their approach to this debate. What Senator Mattner said on the Public Service Bill and the Ministers of State Bill was both true and well put, but I warn him that his submissions will receive no more attention than the Government chooses to give to them. Nor will our submissions, which are well worth considering, be given any more attention than the Government chooses to give to them. I thank the Senate for having listened to me, and I hope the Government will take note of the serious matters that I have presented to it and take the appropriate action.
.- Before adverting to the notes I have prepared for the Address-in-Reply debate, I think some passing reference should be made to some of the views expressed by Senator Cooke in relation to the unfortunate H.M.A.S. “ Voyager “ incident. Senator Cooke’s sincerity does him credit, but his logic or lack of it is appalling. The comparison between compensation and damages which he gave us is greatly unfair because he does not compare like with like. Senator Cooke refused, for obvious reasons, to answer my question about the English road accident. He knew that the correct answer to it would destroy his proposition. Whether it is good or bad, under English law for the last 100 years, the compensation payable for death is based upon the economic value of the person killed to the dependants.
– Are you depreciating the value of the people concerned?
– As I told him, this may be a barbarous proposition, but it is the law of the land in Senator Cooke’s own State, it is the law of the land in Labourcontrolled States, it is the law of the land in Liberal-controlled States and it is the law of the land in Great Britain and all other English-speaking communities. Let us say that a wealthy trade union secretary and an ordinary worker, both about middle-age, are killed in a motor car accident and their wives begin legal proceedings for recovery of damages. The wife of the trade union secretary getting about £3,000 a year will get very much more than will the wife of the man who is on the basic wage or a little above it. That may well be a barbarous proposition, but that is the way the law stands at the moment, and there is no difference in either Liberal-controlled or Labour-controlled States.
Having served in the Navy for four years I am as anxious as Senator Cooke is to see that justice is done to the dependants of the unfortunate men who were lost in “ Voyager “, but I want to point out something which’ .he carefully omitted. The dependants of the men lost in “ Voyager “ at least will receive a pension for life, at the rate of five-eighths of the pension to which the serviceman would have been entitled. That is something which is not normally obtainable in workers’ compensation proceedings. I concede the accuracy of the capital sum to which Senator Cooke referred, but I think that that sum is greatly increased by the payment of the pension.
– Do the servicemen contribute to the pension, as they would to an insurance policy?
– Not exactly. The rate of contribution is very favorable to the serviceman. The Government contributes 77 per cent.
– And it does so for members of Parliament and everybody else.
– Not 77 per cent. The serviceman pays 23 per cent. In addition, in cases of extreme hardship it is possible for a dependant to appeal. If the Naval Board and the Minister for the Navy consider that the circumstances warrant it, special payments are made.
I know a little about the position regarding the loss of personal chattels because I was one of the naval officers responsible for the payment of compensation to men who had lost their belongings when H.M.A-S. “ Canberra “ was sunk during the war. I know that the Navy adopted a most generous attitude towards the replacement of goods and personal chattels which members had lost in action. Therefore, I do not think that Senator Cooke’s remarks concerning personal property were quite fair. I know that the applications which were made to me and recommended by me were most generously received by the naval financial authorities. I do not think that the honorable senator was serious in his remarks concerning housing and defence. Surely he did not expect us to take them literally. If he did, having heard him on housing and defence I would love to hear him in “ Hamlet “.
I desire, Mr. Deputy President, to associate myself with the expressions of loyalty that were so capably put by Senator Morris in moving the adoption of the AddressinReply to the Governor-General’s Speech and so ably supported by our colleague, Senator Prowse. I congratulate both honorable senators. As Senator Morris was making his maiden speech he made it abundantly clear that his entry to the Senate had given us a forceful and lucid debater and one who will handle well the slings and arrows of political polemics.
I wish to extend my sympathy to those who were bereaved by the tragic loss of H.M.A.S. “ Voyager “. 1 had the opportunity to go out on the acceptance trials of her sister ship “ Vampire “ and I know what a splendid vessel she was. “ Voyager “ was a credit to Australian ship-building. But of course the real tragedy is not the loss of metal and equipment which can be replaced, but the terrible loss of some .80 good men’ who were serving their, country in peace-time. They have given their lives for it just as truly as if we were at war.
I join other honorable senators in expressing my extreme regret - may I say, my personal horror - at the dreadful assassination of President Kennedy. This country has for some time had reason to be grateful to the Presidents of the United States of America, and to one man in particular. I think that honorable senators on both sides of the chamber will agree with that statement. I do not believe that the members of the Liberal Party had any monopoly of appreciation of President Kennedy. The late President fought with the Navy and served in waters very close to our coasts and those of New Guinea. His personal record as. a naval officer was out of the top drawer. On more than one occasion he risked his life in order to save the life of one of his crew. In fact, Kennedy’s own life was saved by an Australian coast watcher whose name, I think, was Evans. By and large, Kennedy seemed to have a much greater nexus with this country than the rulers of some other foreign countries have had. I do not recall in my lifetime an international event which has so shaken the whole of our community as the dreadful assassination of the President. I am sure that we all wish his widow the strength to carry on in. the tragic circumstances in which she has been placed. We wish, too, that Lyndon Johnson, President Kennedy’s successor, will have success in taking over the captaincy of the free world. I add to the congratulations of other honorable senators who have spoken, my congratulations to the new Ministers appointed to the Ministry. I wish them well in their future careers.
His Excellency’s Speech made it’ clear that Australia recognized its commitments to Malaysia and that it was ready to discharge them. The posing and the posturing of Indonesia’s Sukarno stir unhappy memories of earlier dictatorships in other times and in other places, but I believe, Sir, that if we have learned our lesson we will recognize that appeasement gets us nowhere. There comes a time when the chips are down and we have to stand up and be counted. In this connexion, His Excellency’s reference to the modernization and re-equipping of the services is reassuring, especially in regard to the new vessels for the Navy and the new Mirage fighters and TFX bombers. The Speech also refers to internal matters which augur well for the future. Let me give some friendly advice to honorable senators opposite. I read recently that we should take an interest in the future because that is where we are going to spend the rest of our lives; but if, as impartial observers, we look at the prospects for 1964 we cannot fail to feel optimistic. We have full employment, increasing production in both the primary and the secondary fields, rising retail sales, and record overseas balances and export prices, and all this, as His Excellency stated, accompanied by a notable steadiness in costs and prices.
As Senator Kennelly put it before the last general election, we were all glad to see that the economy was on an even keel. Mr. Calwell pointed out to the late President Kennedy last July, when he was in the United States, that Australia was expanding and developing at a more rapid rate than the “peak development rate reached by the United States. If Mr. Calwell’s remarks were justified in 1963 it is abundantly clear that they will be even more so in 1964. I congratulate the Government upon, its imaginative attack on the housing problem. I give it full marks for its policy on education. At the time that I wrote these notes we did not know the precise nature of the proposals. Senator Gorton made a statement on this subject earlier to-night, but we have not full details of the scholarships scheme. We have had details of the science assistance which is to be given to both government and non-government schools. The Commonwealth scholarships will be of tremendous value. It is a cardinal feature of the Government’s policy that they are to be available to all students without discrimination, to use the classic expression of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). The same approach was shown in a statement made by the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) to-night in dealing with science- equipment. The reference to science blocks brings me to a consideration of certain scientific work being done in this country about which 1 feel that members of Parliament and the public in general know far less than they should. The achievements of our scientists. and engineers, particularly at Woomera, are something of which we should be extremely proud. I have said in this place before that our radio and electronics engineers and scientists are in world class. The break-through in radio astronomy showed this.
The work being done in space research at Woomera is unheralded and unsung and 1 think it is about time that Woomera found its troubadour. Unfortunately, I am not fitted for that role. With full acknowledgement of the assistance given to me by the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall), I should like to draw the Senate’s attention to some aspects of scientific development generally and, in particular, to Australia’s own work at the Weapons Research Establishment at Woomera. I want to do something which I do not often do. I want to give the Labour Government of the time full marks for the establishment of the Woomera rocket range. I commend the Labour legislation which set it up and, in particular, I commend the speeches of Dr. Evatt and the remarks made by Mr. Chifley when the Woomera rocket range was set up. If I may paraphrase his remarks pretty broadly, the good doctor said that any Communist agitators who attempted to interfere with or stop work on the rocket range were traitors to the country and would be summarily dealt with.
We live in an age of exploding technology - in a quickening scientific revolution - and we find that the time between the development of processes in the laboratory and when they find their feet on the production line is decreasing in a most dramatic fashion. A little less than a century ago there had to be a wait of 40 years before Marconi, with his radio experiments, put Maxwell’s laws of the electro-magnetic field to. practical use. But from the discovery of the neutron to nuclear reaction was a period of only ten years. From the birth of the transistor to its application in a thousand ways only six years went by. Some of us, particularly those who are a little older, may think that the invention of a transistor is not an unmixed blessing, but, for scientific, purposes, it is worth its weight in gold.
To go even further, I point out that it is only four years since .experimenters began to produce beams of coherent light from a ruby crystal and the lazer was born. The lazer is a mysterious concentrated beam of light which possesses extraordinary properties. It is generated from a ruby crystal and is then shot back and forth in a tube. Finally, it emerges as an extremely powerful beam of light, extremely minute in diameter. It can measure the distance onemillionth of an inch in the laboratory. Less than four years after its introduction it is being used by medical science to weld, detached retinas in the eye. The lazer is - capable of drilling in steel or iron a hole finer and. more minute in diameter than any drill can do. The lazer carries within itself properties which may be . used to assist the health of mankind. It may be used in surgical repair work. It also carries within itself the deadly possibility of being the almost magical death ray so beloved of science fiction writers.
– How do you spell it?
– It is spelt 1-a-z-e-r. Some writers spell it 1-a-s-e-r which I think is probably the more correct way. Work on things such as this is proceeding at the Weapons Research Establishment. The first satellite was put in orbit in 1958, the first international geophysical year. It is probable that within eight years of that time - by 1966- the first commercial satellite communications will come into operation.
Because of a chain of fortunate circumstances of which we would be foolish not to take advantage,. Australia is placed in an advantageous position in regard to space research. We happen to be at the antipodes of the American orbiting system so that satellites which are shot into orbit from Cape Kennedy have their ‘first orbit around the. earth best observed from Western Australia. It is probably true that if the rulers of Nazi Germany in 1943- had understood more fully the significance of rocket power an entirely different story might have had to be written about the end of the war. The limited success of the rockets - it was not limited in the view of the people of south and south-east England who were subjected to the V2 rockets - was a clear indication that security for the future revolved around rocket power and guided missiles.
The United Kingdom, being a very small island, had a pressing need for a testing range. The United Kingdom Government came to an agreement with the Australian Government to use the vast, sparsely inhabited area roughly north-west from Woomera and stretching about 2,000 miles to the Indian Ocean as a rocket range. Under the agreement we use the range for the testing of British guided weapons. The agreement brought in its train a whole complex arrangement of radio and telemetric equipment which is fundamental to this type of work. Those who operated the establishment built- on experience with equipment largely provided by the British Government and subsequently we developed by ourselves a system at Woomera that is second to none in quality and second to very few in depth covering guided systems, rocket telemetry and associated sciences. When the United States of America sent up its first satellite - Explorer I. - it weighed only 30 lb. That was only about six years ago. Now the Americans have the mighty Saturn in orbit weighing 18 tons. They have moved ahead, but our country which has devoted itself, through the Department of Supply, so intelligently to this work, despite its relatively small resources, to this problem, has acquired tremendous knowledge and technical data which is of inestimable value not only to ourselves but to our great ally, the United States.
It is true to-day, that under the supervision of the Department of Supply which operates predominantly at Woomera - and there are sub-tracking stations at Muchea and another place - the Australian Government has acquired a knowledge, experience and competence in rocketry and telemetry which is exceeded only by the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. That is something of which a nation of 11,000,000 people may justly be proud. Woomera is,’ of course, the heart of the system. At Island Lagoon and, more recently, at Muchea there are space tracking stations. There is now one at Carnarvon, and a new tracking centre is being built in the Australian Capital Territory. In addition, with American assistance, we are building an additional tracking station near Darwin.
One thing runs through the thread of this activity, and that is that, by and large, we are working for other people - for the United States and the British governments. I think it should be appreciated that because of the work we have done we now have the technical capacity at Woomera to launch satellites into orbit. Admittedly we are paid for the work we do for other governments, and we gain enormous experience, technical competence and knowhow, but the benefits of the scientific results may not necessarily .be passed into Australia’s defence system as rapidly as we like, nor are they spun out - if I may borrow a phrase from the Minister - as rapidly as we would like into Australian private industry.
When Britain dropped the Blue Streak project, upon which considerable work had been done at Woomera, a group of European nations - largely, if my recollection is correct, Nato nations - got together and we are now working at Woomera with what is called the European Launcher Development Organization, or Eldo for short. Scientists from many other countries are glad and anxious to go to Woomera and work with our engineers, scientists and technicians. This may not be something which strikes all honorable senators as being of. tremendous importance, but for myself I feel like shouting it from the housetops. Australia is not a backward, ignorant, unknown nation of 11,000,000 people. It is a nation of 11,000,000 people which, by taking time by the forelock, using the facilities . available and making the maximum use of the assistance which its friends have given, has established an enviable position in the science world so far as rocketry and telemetry are concerned. There is a solid stream of British, American and European scientists and engineers coming to Woomera, not to show us how to do things, but very often to learn. Our prestige is high. I said a moment ago that we should be shouting this from the - housetops. I do not think we should have the vain, inglorious pride which presages a fall, but I think this is something we should take into account in assessing the financial requirements which this section of our affairs may require. Perhaps we would then be more generous in the Estimates. Looking at the programmes, as I have seen them, it would appear that if the work at Woomera were more widely known the taxpayers of this nation would more quickly, more generously and more unselfishly shoulder whatever burdens may be involved in extending Woomera’s activities.
Leaving space and rockets for a moment, I want to refer to three projects of outstanding success. Many honorable senators will be aware of the success of the Malkara anti-tank weapon developed by Australia. The Ikara is an anti-submarine weapon of great homing potentialities, in which overseas navies have evinced considerable interest. However, the most dramatic success which I think the Weapons Research Establishment has had has been with the Jindivik pilotless target aircraft. The Jindivik, is, I think I can say without fear of contradiction, the best pilotless aircraft in the world. We have sold it to Europe and to the United States. The Jindivik costs about £50,000 and has a top speed in the vicinity of 600 miles an hour, a little less than the speed of sound. It is controlled completely by radio. It can be brought back to earth on the field from which it left and may be used in ordinary circumstances somewhere between 30 and 50 times. In other words; the cost of operating a pilotless aircraft has come down to a pretty reasonable figure by using the Jindivik.
Contrast this with the best equipment which the United States had been able to develop a couple of years ago. The American target aircraft was taken aloft by a parent aircraft and launched from that aircraft. The parent aircraft was compelled to remain in the vicinity of the target aircraft in order to control it, and was in some danger - if the guns were a little bit off - of being shot down instead of the target. Of course, you do not try to shoot down a target aircraft; you try to dispose of the drogue. It is not surprising that when the Australian Department of Supply demonstrated the Jindivik to our American allies they were tremendously impressed. Before- any sale was made, the United States Navy made an excellent technical film describing the Jindivik in full. I had the opportunity of seeing the film. At that time we had made no sale to the United States of the Jindivik but I thought to myself that if a prospective purchaser was so keen on a piece of equipment that he would make a magnificent colour film about it of about a quarter of an hour’s duration, he was probably a fairly hot purchaser. So it has turned out. The Minister for Supply has announced that between 30 and 50 of these Jindiviks have been sold to the United States.
– That is only one of the countries to which it has been sold.
– That is so. We have sold the Jindivik to Sweden, Britain and some other European countries. I make particular reference of the sale to the United States because that country, as far as is practicable, likes to have all its defence equipment and defence mechanism manufactured inside its own borders for the purpose of standardization. At all events, the Jindivik cracked the international barrier. That is something of which we should take some cognizance.
It may come as a surprise to many Australians to know that we have had that success in this field and that Australia can take its place in the field of jet propulsion and telemetry along with far larger and more advanced countries. Cost is an important factor in this, as in all other matters. From Woomera we are now flying a series of sounding rockets for scientific experiments for the United Kingdom, but the time has come when the facilities at Woomera should be made available for scientific experiments by our own Australian research organizations and our own universities, because it is now possible to identify the scientific experiments directly with Australia’s. national development and its manufacturing programme. I hope that this line of thought will commend itself to Treasury authorities in due course. Let me give an example. Although we are so well advanced comparatively, we fire only one rocket at Woomera for every 1,000 rockets which are discharged in the northern hemisphere. That is a great disparity. As I said earlier in my remarks, our geographical position imposes upon us, from a world point of view, a pretty heavy responsibility. In our time there has been a pretty close scientific study of the sun, but until recently we have been handicapped because we looked at the sun through a blanket of relatively obscure atmosphere. With the coming of rockets and later satellites, we have been able to operate cameras and observation equipment from satellites and vehicles of a similar type, which has given us a clearer and far more accurate picture of the sun and the way in which it works. We know something of the solar flares, sunspot activity, and the effect of radiation belts, which have such a tremendous influence on radio communications and which, before we have finished, might cause Channel 0 in Melbourne to interfere with Channel 0 in Brisbane.
From our observations of the sunspot cycle and its activities we are now getting the capacity, which has not yet been put into full use, to forecast the weather pattern a long, long way ahead. The ability to draw information from photographs obtained by satellites and orbiting equipment is something which we should appreciate. We are getting a good deal of weather information from satellites such as the American Tiros. They radio back to earth tens of thousands of pictures of the cloud cover. They are coded and, through the generosity of the United States, they are sent to Australia for our own use and analysis. It is pretty staggering, Mr. Deputy President, when one considers the vast State from which you come, that a photograph taken from Tiros or from the new Nimbus will show in one photograph the whole of Western Australia from Perth to North West Cape. North West Cape, of course, is a name that will be remembered. My colleague, Senator Laught, will bc interested to know that in one of the photographs which have come back the entire State of South Australia is shown.
This has been said to give some indication of the enormous knowledge which we are gaining by our own efforts and by the efforts of our allies in space and rocket research. The new weather satellite Nimbus, which the Americans will be putting up, will be even more useful from an information point of view, because from our own stations we shall be able to interrogate the satellite at any time as it passes over, and we shall receive from it a complete picture of the weather systems operating over Australia. In other words, when Nimbus comes into operation it will be more automatic than the earlier, satellites and its information will be made available to us more comprehensibly and earlier.
On the passive communications side, it is not quite four years - three-and-a-half years, to be precise - since the first satellite, Echo I, was launched. It has travelled 600,000,000 miles since the Americans shot it into space, and it is still working. But technology has advanced and new satellites such as Telstar and Relay will be even more effective for international communications. Within the next few months the Americans will put into orbit a new type of satellite, Syncom, which will have a 22,000 miles orbit. Because of the location of that orbit it will be apparently stationary in relation to the earth and will probably be one of the first steps in establishing round the globe a continuous, regular pattern of relaying and reflecting satellites. Once they are there, very many of the problems of intercontinental communications on high frequencies’ will be overcome.
I diverge to refer to a matter which I know is very dear to the heart of the Minister for Health (Senator Wade), who represents the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) in this chamber. I make a plea which I have been making for some years now and which has been made with much greater eloquence and at much greater length by the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall), when he was simply the honorable member for Paterson, in relation to the setting up in this country of a permanent, highly trained, highly paid technical organization, similar in part but not in toto, to the American Federal Communications Commission, for the purpose of allocating, policing and controlling radio frequency waves in the Commonwealth of Australia. The more we see of these inter-continental and space marvels, the clearer it is, I think, that we must have a carefully planned, full-time organization, working on the tremendously difficult and complex problem of frequency allocation and policing, and associated matters.
The Department of Supply, which is charged with the’ responsibility for conducting this research and of ensuring that this country’s industry will suffice for our defence, is, I believe, genuinely anxious to pass on the benefits of its research to the industrial community and to the community at large. In part, this has been done at Woomera by the employment of private enterprise sub-contractors for the operation of tracking stations and in the letting of developmental contracts for advanced equipment. I express the hope that the department will have Treasury backing and full governmental backing, because this is not a job simply for one department. It is a job for Australia as a whole. It is a job for both sides of the Parliament. It is not a matter in which there are political marks. It is not a matter of political ideologies, lt is a matter of seeing that the maximum use is made of our scientific know-how, resources and facilities.
It seems a pity to come back down from the clouds to some of the earthy remarks made by honorable senators opposite during this debate. I direct my remarks in the first instance to my friend, Senator Toohey, who said last night that I had said that any one who advocated trade with red China was a Communist or was imbued with Communist ideals. This is simply untrue. What I have said in the past, and what I repeat now, is that any one who relies upon continuing extensive trade with red China, based on mutual goodwill, is living in a fool’s paradise. That is not only my view. It is also the view of top Communist advisers, and they ought to know. The Soviet economist Levua says that Communist trade with capitalist countries is a political weapon. Does Senator Toohey want to contradict Comrade Levua? If he does, he will not contradict Lenin himself, who says -
When the capitalist world begins to trade with us, on that day they will begin to finance their own destruction.
Does Senator Toohey think, as he said last night, that it is hypocritical of me in this place to raise my voice in warning. I am not trying to stop any trade. AH I do is issue a warning that if Australia does sell to Communist countries she must be absolutely sure - so far as that is practicable - that she does not become dependent upon the goodwill of those Communist countries for her economic survival. It is arrant nonsense to talk of Communist countries being able to distinguish between politics and trade. Should we pay no heed to the horrible lessons in trade that have been administered by the Chinese Communists to Burma, Malaya and Japan? Why should we be left out? Why could it not happen to us? So, Mr. Deputy President, as long as it is necessary, despite Senator Toohey and others like him, I shall continue in this place, where we are charged with the nation’s welfare, to raise my voice in warning even though at times it may well be a rather lonely voice.
My friend, Senator Ormonde, made some extraordinary pronouncements while dealing with the Governor-General’s Speech. He is reported at page 97 of the “ Hansard “ report of 27th February as having said -
The only thing - that is keeping communism alive in Australia today is the organization that helped you to win- the election.
That, of course, would be the organization of the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party. He continued -
As I said six years ago, if the National Civic Council were out of the way and the situation were cleared up iri the trade unions so that the average unionist knew that he could vote for a reasonable Australian Labour Party candidate, we would not have a problem.
Of course the Labour Party would not have the problem of unity tickets if the Communists were cleared out of the trade unions. That is the very point of the exercise. The great trouble with Senator Ormonde is that he has lost touch with the rank and file of his unions. I wonder how long it is since he has been to a union meeting or has made a speech at a meeting, of his union, as I have at meetings of my union. I have not missed a meeting of my trade union in the last three years when I have been in Melbourne. I believe that I can speak at least as authoritatively on trade union affairs as can any honorable senator opposite. I wonder how many honorable senators opposite are financial members of any union this very night as I speak.
Then Senator Ormonde made a statement about communism in unions that was almost as remarkable as were some of the earlier statements of other honorable senators opposite. He said -
You cannot blame unionists for wanting to vote for a Communist instead of for a candidate from the National Civic Council.
I do not know a great deal about the National Civic Council, but I do know something about Communists. If I were a rank and file member of a union - indeed, I am - I would vote for any political organization of any kind - other than, of course, the distinctly nazi and fascist outfits - before I would vote for a Communist. But apparently Senator Ormonde is prepared to place Communists in front of men from the National Civic Council, whoever they may be. He said -
Until you clear up the John Birches and leave this fight to us in the Labour Party, uninhibited by the reactionaries who now tag on to us on every occasion, embarrass us and prevent us from winning the fight . . .
Mr. Acting Deputy President, have you ever heard such garbage?
Let me quote some examples to indicate how they like to win the fight - to indicate how the Labour Party fights communism in trade unions. One member of the Victorian executive of the Australian Labour Party is a man called Comrade Butler. A few months ago I heard him on the radio making a most bitter and vitriolic attack in certain unmeasured terms against the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), but that is by the way. Butler acted as the organizing secretary for the Communist Southwell in the election for the divisional council of the Amalgamated Engineering Union. Is that the way they fight communism in the trade unions, as Senator Ormonde suggested they should? Do they work for them, organize for them and arrange for them to win, with Labour support, positions on the divisional council of the Amalgamated Engineering Union? 1 do not think Senator Cavanagh would be of much help in fighting communism in the trade unions, because he cannot tell the difference between a militant Labour man and a Communist. I am not quite sure of his exact words, but a few months ago he said that there was a fine line of demarcation between a militant Labour man and a Communist. Also a few months ago Senator
Cant said in this chamber - he repeated the statement when checked by Senator Branson - that he preferred the Communists to members of the Australian Democratic Labour Party. My friend, Senator Kennelly, has said that if he were a waterside worker, just as I am a member of Actors Equity, he would vote for the Communist Healy. Is that the way to fight communism in trade unions? I could quote numerous examples, but I do not propose to weary the Senate with them.
– You may say that again. You are wearying the Senate.
– That may well be so. What I am saying may be unpleasant, but it has the tremendous advantage of being true and factual. May I digress for a moment, Mr. Acting Deputy President, to direct attention to the difference between attacks made by the Government senators and those made by honorable senators opposite? Apparently honorable senators opposite may say what they like in the press and elsewhere about members of the Government parties. Government supporters may be called fascists, red baiters, smearers and the like. But if we give the date,- time, place, chapter and verse or other incontrovertible evidence of the nexus between communism and the Labour Party, members of that party say that we are smearing.
Now let me give a little advice to Senator O’Byrne, who is the Whip of his party. He might pass it on to his colleagues. He should look at the Oxford Dictionary to see what smearing is. The word “ smear “ has four or five meanings, most of which relate to the application of an unctuous ointment or paint to the person to act medicinally or to heal a wound. It means to apply ointment, and matters of that type, and also to daub with paint. The present participle “ smearing “ has a similar meaning. Instead of talking in this futile and silly way about smearing, let us be accurate and let us use the Queen’s English. Let us give words their proper and natural meaning. If that is done, we will hear no more about the word “ smear “ in this chamber.
Opposition senators opposite have advanced various reasons why Labour lost the last election. Their electorate councils are conducting post-mortems. There have been plaintive appeals and complaints have been made about women voters. There have been much midnight oil-burning and heartburning over this electoral disaster. Leaving on one side the Government’s positive and attractive policy proposals, the knowledge that they were practicable and that they were put forward by a Prime Minister of unchallengeable integrity, I can save the Labour Party a lot of work, a lot of toil and a lot of research. I can tell members of the Labour Party why they lost, and it has nothing whatever to do with raffling, ducks! The Australian electors are far more intelligent than the Labour Party gives them credit for being. They cannot be bought with unlimited promises, they cannot be lured by cornucopias, and they simply would not entrust the security of this nation to a party with a crazy foreign policy which revolved around a nuclearfree zone for the southern hemisphere, the weakening of the American alliance by the rejection of the great naval base at North West Cape, and the surrender to the demands of the Communist Chinese to the United Nations in relation to South-East Asia.
Most Australians know that the American alliance is the lynch pin of our security. Many honorable senators opposite agree with that but unfortunately it is not part of their party’s policy. Thanks to the integrity of the Menzies Administration, in September, 1951, together with the Administrations of the United States of America and New Zealand we signed the Anzus pact. If nothing else had been done by this Government, its action in signing that pact would have justified its existence. The signing of the Anzus pact was the first occasion in peacetime on which the security of a foreign country was guaranteed by the United States. We had some very reassuring words from Mr. Averell Harriman when he was here a few months ago. He said the U.S.A., was completely happy with its obligations under the Anzus pact and added for good measure, because of the noise Sukarno was making, that the United States of America regarded the Australian eastern portion of New Guinea as part of the mainland for the purposes of the Anzus pact.
What would a nuclear-free zone involve? It would stop the Americans from honouring their pledge to come to our assistance if necessary, and it is undoubtedly true that the Americans were extremely worried’ by Labour’s nuclear-free zone policy. When the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) came back from his visit to President Kennedy in July and August of last year, he said rather plaintively, “ President Kennedy did not understand the Labour Party’s policy on a nuclear-free zone “. Of course, the late President Kennedy was in very good company, because nobody understood it.
Last night in this chamber - and I want to nail this precisely - honorable senators opposite denied that any warning was given by the U.S.A. to Australia on this subject. I have here the front page of the Sydney “Daily Telegraph” of 31st October, 1963, and I shall read the opening paragraphs from the report and then ask honorable senators on the opposite side to say that the U.S.A. has never drawn our attention to this fatal policy. The paragraph reads -
VS. Bars Atom-free Zones.
The United States has told the United Nations it would not agree to nuclear-free zones in the Pacific, Asia and Europe.
It has also warned Australia that it would “ re-think “ its Anzus defence pact if Australia adopted Labour’s policy of a nuclear-free zone.
Could anything be clearer than that? The next paragraph is headed “ Unrealistic “ and it states -
In New York the U.S. disarmament negotiator, Mr. C. Stelle, told the U.N. Political Committee of America’s attitude.
He said it would be “ unrealistic and dangerous “ to establish nuclear-free zones in areas where some countries refused to agree and where nuclear weapons now formed part of existing forces.
Later, in the House of Representatives, the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) gave his version of what the Americans had said to him about it and the Minister was reported in these words -
In Canberra yesterday the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) said America would rethink its Anzus relationship with Australia if Australia adopted a policy of a nuclearfree zone in the southern hemisphere.
Sir Garfield said the American Government had made this quite clear to him in recent talks.
In view of the importance of the American alliance to this nation, could anything be crazier, sillier or more futile than this idea? Could anything be more designed to place the nation in jeopardy than unnecessarily. wantonly and in a criminally insane fashion tearing up the Anzus pact? As if this were not enough, there was the incredible Labour policy in respect of the base at North West Cape. As we know, this is an American naval communication station which will do a great deal to make more effective and more efficient American assistance under the Anzus pact if it should ever bc called upon, although I hope it never will be.
The Labour Party began with total opposition to the base. Mr. Calwell, to give him his due, could see how crazy this idea was, so he called his famous special conference of last March. We have heard about it time and time again. We know how he waited on the footpath outside the Hotel Kingston and finally was told that, by a vote of 19 to 17, he was able to support the establishment of the base on conditions which the Americans said were totally unacceptable to them. Then, when the bill came into this chamber, the Labour Party tried to kill it. It tried not to postpone the bill but to kill it. It moved that the bill be. read that time six months, which was simply another way of disposing of the measure without passing it. Then, during the election campaign, we had Mr. Calwell’s explanation of what the Labour Party would do about the base. It would re-negotiate the agreement. What did he say in October of 1952, when the Government was making another international agreement? Mr. Calwell said -
The Government can make all the agreements that it likes but we will rip every one of them up when we form the government.
I wonder whether he told that to the Americans. 1 wonder whether he told them that that is the way he would undertake his re-negotiating? If he did, it would not be very reassuring.
Because of certain remarks made by honorable senators opposite last night, I had intended to deal with the full case against the recognition of red China, but time is running out and I find that impracticable. Therefore, I give to honorable senators opposite the good news that that will be an exercise for the future. I feel that it is sufficient to say now that there are no marks in it for us. Recognition of red China would put us at loggerheads unnecessarily with our United States allies.
Non-recognition would not stop any sale of goods. Recognition would betray the people of Formosa or Taiwan to a Communist dictatorship. It would destroy the last hope of overseas Chinese of having any centre to look to other than Peking.
I feel that President de Gaulle, who has done so much for France in the past, has struck a blow at Western unity by his crazy recognition of red China recently and by his even crazier suggestion of the neutralization of South-East Asia. General de Gaulle should know from the experience in Dienbienphu that you do not have neutral governments with Communists in them; you have governments taken over by Communist control. I commend the Government for the enlightened and positive programme outlined in the Governor-General’s Speech and I support it up to the hilt.
– I have much pleasure in associating myself with the expression of loyalty to the Crown and of regret that Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother was not able to come to Australia because of ill health. I also wish to express sympathy with the relatives of those unfortunate men who lost their lives in the sinking of H.M.A.S. “ Voyager “. I should also like to take this opportunity of congratulating Senator Morris on his maiden speech and on the very capable manner in which he spoke to the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply.
I had intended to congratulate Senator Hannan on the very good speech he was making when he first rose to address the Senate, but, as he has done previously, he sank to the depths of degradation and spoilt a good speech by his usual attack on the Australian Labour Party. I challenge Senator Hannan to rise and tell the Senate just what he is doing to combat communism in Australia apart from shooting off his mouth.
– Come along to some of my union meetings with me, will you?
– You may have five members. I am a member of a union myself.
– Are you a financial member?
– I am a financial member and have been ever since I entered the Senate. A former president of my union was a member of the Australian Democratic Labour Party, but that fact would not prevent me from voting for him if I believed he was doing a good job for the union. The trouble with the trade union movement to-day is that certain people have tried to assume control of it and in doing so have forced good, decent unionists to vote for men who they have been led to believe will do better for them. I can mention unions in South Australia that were controlled by members of a certain party and which were made almost bankrupt by the inefficiency of those men. They had been elected to replace others who were doing a good job for the unions merely because those who were replaced were classed as militant unionists.
– Who put them in?
– The union members themselves put them in because they were sick and tired of the way things were going in their unions. The unions were going on the rocks and the members had to do something to get the good officers back in office. That is what is happening in the trade union movement to-day. These men are not in office because of unity tickets between the Labour Party and the Communists. This state of affairs is being caused by those who are continually attacking trade union members who are good loyal supporters of the Australian Labour Party. I hate to speak about those who are departed, but many have asked why Jim Healy was always returned to office with a majority of two or three to one when the Communists did not have a two or three to one majority of the membership in the Waterside Workers Federation. The fact is that the majority of the members of that union were good Australians who were loyal to Australia and they voted for Jim Healy because he was the man who got for them the good conditions under which they were working.
– What arrant rubbish!
– I should like you and some of your colleagues who are continually smearing the Labour Party to get up and tell us what you are doing to combat communism in Australia. You cannot do that and you will simply go along in the way in which you are going now. You are only using the Communist bogy for political expediency. That is how you came to be re-elected to the treasury bench of Australia at the last election.
– The people do not trust you with the Communists. That is why we were elected.
– I do as much as, if not more than, does the honorable senator who is interjecting to try to show the people just what communism really is and why it should be combated in Australia. I stand here and say without any fear of contradiction that I have done as much as anybody in this chamber to combat communism in Australia.
– When did you stop?
– I have not stopped. I am continuing to do it just as 1 have been doing since 1945 when I was discharged from the Australian Imperial Force. I have been doing it all that time because I could see then what was happening in Australia. Prior to 1945, the Communists did have control of the trade unions and of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the governing body of the trade union movement in Australia. But the men who got the Communists out of the trade unions, the Trades and Labour Council and the Australian Council of Trade Unions were not Communist haters, and they were not men who created and fostered hatred of communism; they were good, solid members of the Australian Labour Party. It makes me sick and tired to sit here year after year listening to this filthy smearing of the Australian Labour Party by honorable senators opposite for, as is well-known, when you” sling mud some of it always sticks whether you are guilty or not and it takes a lot of washing off.
Much has been said about the reasons why the Australian Labour Party lost the 1963 election. Senator Cole, when he was speaking last night, put his finger on the real reason why the Australian Labour Party lost the election. He did not do so intentionally because he would not do anything to give credit to the Australian Labour Party. While he was addressing the Senate last night he was also addressing the people of Australia because our proceedings were being broadcast. He took the opportunity then, just as an honorable senator has done to-night, to smear the Australian Labour Party. He said that one of the reasons why the Labour Party lost the last election was that the Communists came out openly and supported the party. Of course they did, but the members of the Communist Party know that if ever the Australian Labour Party’s policy is implemented the Communist Party will have no chance whatever of gaining any ground in Australia because the people of Australia will then have a decent standard of living and will not have a bar of communism.
It is true that the members of the Communist Party did support the Labour Party, but they know full well in their own hearts, as do Senator Hannan and Senator Cole, that by doing this they are creating in the minds of the people the belief that we are allied with the Communists and in this way give our opponents the opportunity of influencing the people to vote, out of fear, against the Australian Labour Party.
– Why do you not contradict what I said?
– I repeat what I said. The Communist Party does not care what happens to the Australian Labour Party. It wants to drag the party down; it wants the party to disintegrate, but this party never will.
– Why associate with the Communists?
– I would like you, Senator Mattner, to get on your feet after me and tell us just what you are doing to combat communism in Australia. It is men like you, with this talk about communism, who force many good honest Australian people to vote for people for whom they would not vote in ordinary circumstances.
I had been speaking about Communists in the trade union movement. Earlier I gave reasons why some Communists occupy official positions in some of the unions. They do not occupy all the official positions. For instance, nobody can say that Mr. Fitzgibbon, the secretary of the Waterside Workers Federation, is a Communist. The Australian Labour Party was right behind him. I know that the South Australian branch of the Australian
Labour Party worked in conjunction with the waterside workers in that State to have Mr. Fitzgibbon elected.
– Why do you not answer me?
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Anderson). - Order! 1 suggest that Senator Drury should ignore interjections. I will see that he is protected.
– I thank you. Despite the smear campaign being carried on in Australia, we still polled the greatest number of votes of any political party. As has been pointed out previously, the Australian Labour Party holds six of the ten South Australian seats in the Senate and six out of the eleven seats in the House of Representatives. We will maintain those proportions.
The Governor-General referred in his Speech to the political tension that still exists in some regions, particularly those to the north of Australia. I had the good fortune during the second half of last year to be a member of a parliamentary delegation which visited South-East Asia. We were shown every courtesy and were well received in each country that we visited. I thought that the delegation was a little on the large side and that sufficient time was not allowed to enable us to have a really good look at the countries we visited. I understand that an honorable member of the House of Representatives has suggested, and I agree, that future delegations should be smaller and that more time should be given to members of the delegations to enable them to absorb facts concerning the countries they visit.
The delegation of which I was a member went to six countries of South-East Asia. We were able to interview most of the leading political and governmental people in the various countries. Much has been said about President Sukarno of Indonesia. I feel that he is a man who cannot be trusted and who speaks with his tongue in his cheek. We interviewed him at about the time that the agreement concerning Malaysia was signed in London, and he said then that the only reason he was opposed to the Federation of Malaysia was that he thought that the people of Malaya, Singapore and Borneo had not been given an opportunity by way of a referendum to say whether or not they wanted the Federation of Malaysia to be formed. He said that apart from this consideration he was not opposed to the formation of the federation. I think he was speaking with his tongue in his cheek, because only two days later he said that Indonesia would oppose Malaysia to the bitter end and would do all in its power to smash the federation if it was formed.
In my opinion, President Sukarno has adopted this attitude to divert the minds of the Indonesian people from the country’s internal troubles. Indonesia’s economy is almost non-existent, probably due to the fact that between 75 per cent, and 80 per cent, of the national income is being spent on defence. No country can afford to spend such a high proportion of its national income on defence. As has been stated previously in this chamber, one of the largest political parties in Indonesia is controlled by the Communists. I do not think that the Indonesian people are ready for communism at this point of time. I believe that their religion would debar them from accepting communism, but unless something, is done to assist the people of Indonesia there will exist fertile ground in which to sow the seeds of communism, and they may grow quickly. We have heard of the events that have occurred since our visit to Indonesia. The Indonesian people have experienced famine and disillusionment. We must be wary of Indonesia because there is in that country fertile ground in which communism may flourish.
The delegation of which I was a member also visited Malaya, Singapore, Thailand, and Burma. Of all the countries we visited it seemed that Malaya was the only one which knew what it wanted and how to go about getting it. Malaya’s economy seemed to be very buoyant. The people appeared to be happy, and they were well fed and well clothed. They were looking forward to the establishment of the federation. When we spoke with Tunku Abdul Rahman he was asked why the people of Malaya had not been given a chance to vote for or against federation. He answered that he did not think it was necessary to do so because, at the elections which had been held only a short time before, the party that was supporting federation was returned to office with an overwhelming majority. He thought that that gave it the green light to go ahead with the federation proposals. I think that that was in fact the reason why the people were not consulted.
In Singapore, we found that the people were Agreeable that the treaty should be signed. They were happy about it. The economy appeared to be buoyant and great things were being done to improve social conditions. We were told that families were being housed at the rate of one every twelve minutes. Sub-standard homes were being destroyed and modern flats were being built. As soon as they were completed, people were allowed to occupy them. They were told that, provided they looked after the flats, they could continue to occupy them as long as they wished. I think it is a remarkable performance for a small state such as Singapore to be able to house a family every twelve minutes.
It seems to me that the Burmese people were a little suspicious of outsiders and did not seem to want to trust them.
– Do you mean the average people in the street, or the officials and politicians?
– We did not meet many of the ordinary people because time did not permit us to move among them, but we gained the impression that the Burmese people were a little suspicious of foreigners. While we were there we were told *hat there was only one medical man to every 20,000 people. However, during the week of our visit the Government decreed that all foreign doctors would cease to practice. I understand that approximately 148 doctors were removed from the roll of practitioners. This action tended to confirm the opinion we had formed. That seems to prove that they did not completely trust foreign people. In addition, the banks were nationalized while we were there. The bank managers were replaced by army personnel who, according to the information we received, were using textbooks as their guide to the transaction of banking business. This shows that Burma has not progressed as much as it could have progressed since the end of British rule.
One member of our party had been in Burma before it was given selfdetermination. He said that he could see some deterioration in the town - of Rangoon since he was last there. 1 feel that the time will ‘ come . when the Burmese people will be able to solve their own problems. I think they are suspicious of outsiders because they have. been taken down on one or two occasions and do not . trust anybody. They were quite happy with the gifts made to . them by the Australian Government. I believe that these consisted of between SO and 100 water pumps and 100 buses. Those gifts were announced to the country while we were there. The people appeared to appreciate them very much. They were quite happy to receive the gifts because they would help to raise the low standard of their economy, give them a chance to work more land and move about their country more freely. The people were happy with the way in which Australia had helped them through the Colombo Plan. They had not sent their full quota of students to Australia for some reason or other which was not explained to us. I do not know whether it was for economic reasons or simply because they did not want to send more students. I think they were entitled to send 1,100 students but only a very small proportion of that number had been sent to Australia under the Colombo Plan.
Thailand is another place which I feel is trying to pull itself out of the doldrums. The people there are working very hard. Thailand is a member of the South-East Asia Treaty Organization. While we were there, an. exercise was carried out by the Seato participants. In Bangkok we saw a procession of mechanized forces which had taken part in the military exercise and which took three and a half hours to pass a given point. An idea of the display of military power may be obtained from the fact that there were no foot soldiers in the parade. I feel that the people of Thailand are very happy with the way in which they are being treated by Australia. They seem to realize that Australia wishes to give them assistance with no strings attached. They feel that Australia wants to help them as much as it possibly can. The Philippines was the only place in which I saw beggars. In a town known as the walled city we came across the first beggars that we met on the whole tour.
We were told that a matter which was causing a lot of concern in these countries was the interest which Communist China had taken in Africa. In the course of discussions, I was told that the people feared that eventually China would take over. Africa. This possibility has been supported by a small item of news which appeared recently in the Adelaide “ Advertiser “. lt said that Chou En-lai, who had just visited Africa, had said that Africa was ready for revolution. I take it he meant that the revolution would be successful and that eventually Africa would come under the control of the Chinese Government. The people in the countries which I visited feel that China could take over Africa and that would be disastrous. It is strange that we do not hear anything of that possibility in Australia.
During the course of his Speech, the Governor-General said -
My Government will continue to pay a great deal of attention to developments in Africa, especially in the new countries of the Commonwealth of Nations which are seeking to work out independent national life and institutions.
I feel that people should be told more than they are being told on this subject. Whether the threat is as great as it appears to be on the surface I do not know. If it is, I feel that we should be told how likely it is that Africa will be taken over by China. If this happened Australia would be in a very isolated position. It might result in Australia’s not having access to the Suez Canal and most of our shipping would have to go around the Cape of Good Hope. This would not be very good for our economy.
In connexion with housing, it is good that the Government is at last awakening to the plight of young married couples. The grant of £250, under certain conditions, to those who are purchasing homes will be of some help to them. This sum might represent the interest payable on a housing loan for the first twelve months. But there is the danger that, when this assistance is given, the price of homes will rise or that shoddy workmanship will appear in home-building. In South Australia we have some of the cheapest homes in Australia. It is possible to buy a two-bedroom home in close proximity to Adelaide - perhaps seven or eight miles out - for approximately £4.000.
– What would be the area of the home?
– It would be from 1,000 to 1,200 square feet. 1 am talking of brick homes. If the Government could introduce a scheme under which young couples could obtain the full amount of money necessary to buy a house this would be much more beneficial to them than the present scheme because many purchasers have to obtain second mortgages and some require third mortgages. We all know that a very high interest rate applies to second and third mortgages. It is a battle for young people to move into a new home and start off their married life without worry or, as it were, a rope around their necks. As a result of having to pay interest rates many of them must cut down on their standard of living. This causes worry and dissension and in some cases is responsible for a separation.
The price of land in South Australia at present - I believe the position is the same in other States - has risen to prohibitive heights. An ordinary standard sized block of land in close proximity to Adelaide costs between £1,500 and £2,000, and in some areas £2,500 or up to £3,000. . If a young couple want to build a reasonable home they must move out from the precincts of the city, and this entails heavy expenses in travelling. In many instances the sites are not sewered. Water and fuel may be available, but sewerage is important because some time later it will have to be installed, costing a young couple another £100 or £200. Although this scheme is a credit to the Government, I think it would have been much better if the Government had been willing to advance a young couple an amount near to the full purchase price of a home so that they would not need to negotiate a second mortgage and pay high interest charges.
I believe that the Government should have done something to reduce the high interest rates on housing loans. The War Service Homes Division makes loans on which the rate of interest is about 3i per cent., but the interest on ordinary bank loans ranges from 5 per cent, to 6 per cent. This represents a very heavy burden on people who have borrowed £3,000 or £4,000 to build a home. Last week my colleague from South Australia, Senator Bishop, asked the Leader of the Government (Senator Sir William Spooner) a ques tion relating to people in South Australia who are purchasing housing trust homes. He inquired whether these people would be eligible for the subsidy, because these are what one might call government homes. The Minister replied that he could not then give an answer to Senator Bishop because the legislation was being drafted, but that the query would be considered when the legislation was brought down. I sincerely hope that the Government will not exclude from the scheme people who are purchasing housing trust homes in South Australia. One or two of the returned soldiers’ organizations in South Australia are concerned as to whether their members will be eligible to participate in this scheme. Senator Bishop asked a question about that matter. I hope these people will not be penalized because they are receiving assistance from the War Service Homes Division.
I ask the Minister also whether an engaged couple with a joint banking account would be entitled to the subsidy if they fulfilled the other requirements necessary for eligibility. Would they be eligible to participate in the subsidy, or is it to be confined to one person only - to the man or the woman who has saved £750?
There was a number, of other matters in the Governor-General’s Speech which I could discuss. The Speech has been dealt with fairly thoroughly but there is one last point that I should like to make. His Excellency said -
The Commonwealth Aid Roads legislation, under which the Commonwealth will have paid £230 million to the States for roads over the past five years, expires on 30th June next. Legislation for a new scheme, which will involve larger payments, will be presented to the Parliament in this Session following discussions with the State Premiers.
This is a very good thing. Probably most honorable senators have received from their respective district councils or municipal councils correspondence urging that more money be granted for road building. The volume of traffic on Australian roads to-day is creating a problem in all States. I should like to quote a passage from the Adelaide “Advertiser” of to-day’s date, under the heading, “ £20m. Plan for 20 Miles of Freeways”. The remarks I shall quote were made by the Premier of South
Australia in one of his weekly broadcast and television programmes. The passage reads -
Sir Thomas Playford described as “ inadequate “ the Commonwealth proposal to make £350,000,000 of road money available to the States. “ Apart from the big job of providing arterial roads in the country, the State Government is now heavily involved in improving metropolitan traffic roads,” he said. “ In the near future we will have to start to build freeways. “Since 1959 the Highways Department has been planning freeways and plans are now fairly well advanced.
Further on the following appeared - “ Personally I believe that the £350,000,000 proposed by the Commonwealth for roads is not adequate “.
I hope that the Government will take this into consideration when it is allotting money for road-building. Another article in the same . newspaper is headed “Tax Plans Attacked “. It is contributed by a staff representative in Canberra and is dated Can’berras 4th March. The article reads as follows-
Proposals by the Lord Mayors of the six capital cities for an increase in petrol tax or sales tax on lyres to provide more money for roads were attacked to-day by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries. “ This is the easy way out, but it has nothing to commend it “, the Chamber said. “ The motorist and the commercial vehicle user are already the most heavily burdened of taxpayers.”
The Chamber said the campaign by the Lord Mayors for more finance for roads in capital city areas was more than justified.
But as roads benefited the .whole community, then the whole community should pay if additional taxation were necessary.
The article continued -
The Chamber also suggested that Slate and Commonwealth governments should take a “ long hard look” at their policy of favouring rural development at the expense of urban.
At present, 40 per cent, of all Commonwealth money allocated for road works had to be spent on rural roads.
The result is that little more than half of what is already a grossly inadequate hand-out is available to the States for developing and maintaining the roads which receive the most use and whose users provide the lions’ share of the revenue.
The article goes on to make other comments. I should like the Government to give consideration, when it has this proposal before it, to the fact that it can assist not only to improve communications, but also to reduce the terrific accident toll in Australia to-day. I was a member ofthe road safety select committee in I960. I recall the committee being told that more than 2,000 persons were killed each year on Australian roads at that time. More than 77,000 were injured and the annual Joss to the economy of the country totalled almost £75,000,000. Any expenditure which will help to reduce road accidents will be money well spent. The value of life cannot be measured in money. When a life is lost, it cannot be retrieved. Road deaths have reached almost epidemic proportions. If an epidemic sickness were to strike Australia and take 2^000 people in a year, there would be panic in the country, but because these lives are lost in road accidents nobody takes any notice, and the dread toll continues. I hope that the Government will make available to the States adequate funds for the building of roads which will help to reduce the death toll.
– I associate myself with the expressions of loyalty in the AddressinReply to the Governor-General’s Speech to the Parliament on 25th February last. The motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply was proposed by Senator Morris and seconded by Senator Prowse, both of’ whom deserve commendation for their excellent speeches. Senator Morris was making his maiden contribution in the Senate. We congratulate him on his effort and offer him our congratulations on his election to this chamber. We look forward with keen anticipation to his further contributions in debate. Senator Prowse, who is a relatively new member, held the attention of all honorable senators in a constructive and informative speech. The great importance of the Address-in-Reply debate is that it gives to the ordinary senator or member an opportunity to be articulate and to present the problems that cause him and his constituents some concern. The great victory - it was a great victory - that the Liberal and Country parties had in the last election must be consolidated by carrying into action the wise and accepted proposals outlined in the policy speech of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). The dogmas of the past are inadequate for the present. The occasion is rich with promise. Let this chamber rise to the occasion and do justice to the proposed legislation . which was outlined in the Governor-General’s Speech.
Once it is conceded that the counting of heads - irrespective of what is inside those heads - is the criterion by which a choice is made between opposing policies under our parliamentary system, it follows that a second chamber, such as the Senate, is necessary to maintain our democratic way of life. In all. our political affairs, we note with interest the struggle of the ordinary citizen to exercise some influence on government.
I have been provoked into entering the discussion on communism, which I. have never done before. 1 have been challenged by the Opposition to say something on the subject, and I intend to say it. We have certain points of agreement. We agree, I think, that the Communists are disruptive in a non-Communist country. As votes are so numerous, the individual vote is almost useless. It is only in the mass that Communists are able to achieve significance. What is the difference between our political system and that of the Soviet? In the Soviet, there is only one party. No external criticism is tolerated. The nation is ruled by an all-powerful executive, which puts- into effect the programme determined by the party. All government monopolies are ruthlessly controlled by the executive. We do not have only one party here. I want to see preserved the system which provides for at least two parties.
To-night I was challenged on the subject of the Australian Labour Party’s flirting with the Communist Party, which forebodes ill for the future of Australia. I have heard it said by good Labour men that Communists hang like limpets on the Labour Party. I say that if one lies down with his dog he must get up with a few fleas. In my view, Labour lost the last election because the public believed that the Communist Party was hanging on to the Labour Party like a limpet, that it would swallow up the Labour Party if Labour gained office, and that then there would be only one political party in Australia. If the Opposition is to regain the treasury bench it must free itself of the limpet that is attached to it. lt is said that the great Australian Labour Party - to use ‘Senator Hendrickson’s expression - is the be-all and end-all of those who have love for Australia and love for the democratic system of government.
Yet honorable senators opposite, knowing that the Communist Party wants only one party in existence, do not see that this limpet which is hanging on to them is dragging them down into the depths of poverty, and that the public is disgusted with them. This disgust was shown in no uncertain manner on 30th November last. That is my answer.
At one stage we wanted to ban the Communist Party. Did we get any support? Honorable senators opposite ask me what I am doing. I remind them that they did not support this Government when it wanted to ban the Communist Party. It is not my business if the Labour Party wants to carry on in this manner. But while honorable senators opposite are doing so much soul-searching, I offer them that thought.
The reason why I am so sad about what has happened to the Labour Party is that I want our democratic system to continue in existence. We have evolved the’ party system for the benefit and the safety of Australia, and I want to see it retained. The Labour Party was once regarded with a great deal of respect. Indeed, it attracted . so much respect that it gained the treasury bench. The writing is on the wall for those’, who can read. Even if they run they can read that writing. I say to honorable senators opposite:-‘ If you read the writing on the wall, then you will run. I was provoked into that line of argument, which I do not usually follow in this place. I do not think anybody can accuse me of ever having a great deal to say about the Communists. I have never spoken on that subject in this place. I now feel so strongly about it that I say that honorable senators opposite should be saved from their enemies.
A few days ago I passed some comments about the Parliament. I now wish to take the matter a little further. In dealing with our political system, I tried to trace briefly the Soviet system and this one-party business. I do not think honorable senators opposite would raise their voices in opposition to what I have said so far. I am sorry that Senator Toohey and other South Australian colleagues are not here at the moment. It is strange to hear one issue a challenge and then to see him walk out of the chamber. I hope honorable senators opposite will have an opportunity to reply later. Fortunately, our Executive is not all-powerful. However, over the last two decades executives in the British Commonwealth of Nations have increased their power. Every measure of nationalization which establishes huge monopolies under the control of the Executive increases the power of the Executive with the unfortunate result, that the Parliament has very little control.
Growth in the size and number of Commonwealth departments leads to parliamentary power being shifted from the floor of the Senate and that of another place to officers in the civil service. Many of the bills presented nowadays deal with complicated social issues. They are prepared by men and women who I believe involuntarily incorporate their impressions and ideas in the legislation and who can, after it is passed, further project their views by administrative acts and in some cases alter the intention of the Parliament. I have observed that being done with great skill. Those people are not responsible to the electorate. They enjoy the security of good jobs and are screened from the public. Once it was believed that departmental employees were servants of their Minister. Is the Minister theirs? Is the Minister being by-passed to-day? Is the Parliament being by-passed?
– I am glad to have the Minister’s assurance, because it is the function of the member of Parliament to see that he is not by-passed. But we observe some of these things being done. Each of us has a responsibility to try to correct that situation.
I wish to refer briefly to the recent visit to Africa of Mr. Chou En-lai, which was touched upon by Senator Drury. The safety of this country is of paramount importance to all of us. If ever a man has highlighted the danger of communism to this country, Mr. Chou En-lai did when be visited Africa recently for some weeks. As Senator Drury said, he is reported to have said that the revolutionary prospects are excellent throughout the African continent. Against whom will the Africans revolt? Will it be a conflict between the
African proletariat and the African elite? The old days of imperialism in Africa have gone. There is no imperialism there. So against whom will the Africans revolt? Will it be a revolt of Africans against Africans?
One asks whether China is exerting much influence in Africa. I say that it is very difficult to form an idea on that matter. There are some points of agreement between the Africans and the Chinese. Both believe that they have been humiliated and both have experienced poverty.’ I have been to Africa once or twice, and just recently I had an opportunity to go to Nigeria. Having been there, I would expect the Nigerians and people in many other parts of Africa to develop what I would describe as being a co-operative socialism. The Africans are eager to receive aid, but they are extremely jealous of their independence. This upsurge of independence is like a rising tide. One has to be on the continent of Africa and to live amidst this upsurge to realize how strong it is. I believe the Africans realize that neither Russia nor China can offer them material aid. It is very interesting to note that both Russia and China are seeking sterling currency. They are dumping their goods - I use the term advisedly - into all parts of Africa at ridiculously cheap rates so they can obtain sterling currency. I doubt whether the Chinese and the Russians will ever assume control in Africa, but if they do they will have more problems on their plate than they will be able to deal with.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir
Alister McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I wish to refer briefly to a matter that was raised last night in this chamber when the Leader of the Australian Democratic Labour Party (Senator Cole) was addressing himself to the GovernorGeneral’s Speech. Senator Cole had stated that the Democratic Labour Party’s national television campaign before the last elections had cost ?20,021 18s. 8d. In an interjection, Senator Brown said -
That was ?20,000 too much.
Senator Cole replied ;
It was too much as far as the Australian Labour Party was concerned. I will wager that this amount is only about half the Australian Labour Party’s unpaid television campaign bills in Victoria at this moment.
One of the urgers, Senator Hannaford, then interjected -
Has not it paid its debts?
And Senator Cole replied -
– Did 1 say that?
– It is reported in “ Hansard “. This afternoon I received a telegram addressed to me at Parliament House. It was as follows -
Request you seek correction Senator Cole’s statement that Victorian A.L.P. television account unpaid. All accounts paid. We stand in credit ?900 with Channel 7.
I do not wish to say any more. I merely want the Senate to judge the veracity of Senator Cole’s statement which has been definitely contradicted to-night by the Australian Labour Party secretary in Victoria.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at. 10.32 p.m. till Tuesday, 17th March, at 3 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 5 March 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1964/19640305_senate_25_s25/>.