25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry whether he has seen a statement in the Sydney “Sun” of 14th April, 1964, in which is expressed the view - “If the Australian pavilion at the Osaka Trade Fair, arranged by the Department of Trade, is the best we are capable of we had better stay home. It is more suitable for a bush show.” Will the Minister have a thorough investigation made into the reasons why the display at the fair is not up to standard, considering that the fair is being held in the second largest city in Japan and is expected to attract 3,000,000 visitors? Will the Minister make a special point of finding the reasons for the poor display of Tasmanian woollen fabrics by Kelsall and Kemp (Tasmania) Limited, manufacturers of first-class woollen fabrics? lt is stated that lengths of fabrics were draped on stands like clothes horses and were “ shocking and disappointing “. Will the Minister consult with the responsible departmental officer concerned with the trade ship “ Centaur “, sponsored by the Australian Chamber of Commerce, to ascertain the reason why almost no visitors have been attracted to it at Osaka? Finally, will he also investigate why there were no Japanese-style kimonos made of Australian cloth displayed at the “ Centaur “ mannequin parades in Osaka?
– I did not see the statement to which the honorable senator referred and I do not know who was responsible for making it. He may or may not be a reliable witness, but I am not at this stage prepared to commit myself to anything, just on the strength of a newspaper article by someone I do not know. I will bring the statement to the attention of the Minister for Trade and Industry, who will be home on Friday, and I will ask him to look into the matter. I am confident that the case has been somewhat ov-r-stated, but 1 will ask the Minister to look at it and see what the position is.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Is he aware of the refusal of the Australian Broadcasting Commission to grant free time on either television or radio to the Tasmanian Country Party for the forthcoming Tasmanian elections, although commercial stations have been granted free time? Is this decision not a departure from the usual procedure followed by the Australian Broadcasting Commission?
– I do know that free time has not been granted to the Country Party for the Tasmanian elections. The other matters contained in the question involve policy on which I am not as well informed as I might be, and I will bring the question to the notice of my colleague, the Postmaster-General.
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General: Will he ascertain from the Australian Broadcasting Control Board the number of commercial television stations operating in London and in New York? Will he closely examine the advertising potential within the viewing area of all television stations operating in Brisbane at the present time, in order to ascertain whether the third licence, now suspended, is warranted? Is he able to assure me that the granting of a third television licence will not result in Brisbane residents being compelled to witness inferior programmes for many years?
– The Government is firmly convinced that there is adequate room in Brisbane for a third television station to operate. Had there been any doubt in the Government’s mind on this issue it would never have called for applications. The suggestion is that the licence is being withheld from the station that was recently granted the right to operate in the area. The licence is only temporarily withheld while the Postmaster-General makes some investigations concerning share transactions that are well known to all members of the Senate. Rather than heed the suggestion that the addition of a third station will result in inferior programmes I would say that 1 have yet to be convinced that intense competition has ever failed to produce a better standard of programme, which is exactly what the Government forecasts will happen in Brisbane - a better standard of presentation.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Is the Minister in a position to make any statement on the safety standard characteristics of the DC-6B aircraft, one of which was involved in the aircraft incident yesterday in Melbourne, as compared with those of other types of aircraft currently in use in Australia?
– The safety record of the DC-6B is a good one. So far as the Department of Civil Aviation and the airlines are concerned the DC-6B meets all the requirements that apply to any other aircraft in the regular air transport field. It is designed to the same strength requirements and is put through the same proving system. It has differently phased performance standards from turbinedriven aircraft, but these standards are no lower. The DC-6B is designed, as are all modern aircraft, on the fail-safe concept, which provides for what we might call inbuilt safety features in the event of any failure. It is subject to the same maintenance system as are other aircraft and this, of course, includes regular inspections to ensure its continued airworthiness. Parts, such as those in the engines and propellors are subject to regular inspections and overhauls. All wearing parts are regularly replaced, so that each unit is kept virtually in a new condition. The engine used in the DC-6B is common to many different types of aircraft, and to the knowledge of my department there has been no previous trouble of the kind experienced yesterday in Melbourne. It is my intention to ask permission to make a statement to the Senate after question time concerning this incident and what has followed.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. I ask the Minister whether he has seen a report in this morning’s edition of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of the alleged evidence of Stanko Zdrilic in Yugoslavia that he attended regular courses in handling mines and explosives at a
Catholic office at 121 Queen-street, Woollahra; that between 1961 and last year he joined an emigrant terrorist organization; that he was recruited to the brotherhood by a man named Peter Brakjovic; that the head of the organization was Juri Marie and his deputy was Geza Spaski; and that the head of the Catholic office at Queenstreet was a priest named Roko Romac. I ask whether the Government can make any statement confirming or denying these reports. Will the Government check on the activities carried on at 121 Queen-street, Woollahra? Will the Government investigate and report on the past and present activities of Peter Brackjovic, Juri Marie, Geza Spaski and Roko Romac and on the length of their period of residence in Australia?
– I did see the newspaper report to which the honorable senator has referred. I am not an expert on this subject but I tried to follow its intricacies. I read the report and sat back to consider its implications. Then, in the next column of the newspaper, I read the statements of a responsible person in the community who denied the statements to which the honorable senator has referred. At that stage, I gave it up. I am certain that those who have responsibilities to the Government in these matters would not let these reports pass unnoticed and that they will have made inquiries.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Health been directed to the terms of a report from Miami, United States of America and published in the “ Canberra Times “ of 9th April quoting Dr. Maury Massler who informed a dental society there that kissing could cause the spread of tooth decay? Dr. Massler, who has been doing research work at the University of Chicago for the past 28 years, said further -
Recent studies have proved beyond doubt that tooth decay is caused by an infection of the mouth - nol of the teeth. Bacteria in saliva transmits the disease from one tooth to another. The dentist’s job is not to put fillings in teeth but to get rid of the infection causing the disease.
Will the Minister for Health make inquiries as to the value of Dr. Massler’s approach to dental problems? If kissing promotes tooth decay, does the Minister agree that it will take more than fluoridation to effect a remedy?
– If I had been answering (he honorable senator’s question 30 or 40 years ago, I would have said that if that was the price to pay for tooth decay, I would not consider it a heavy penalty to carry. But having reached maturity, I have long since lost my interest in that method of spreading tooth decay. This is a completely new approach to the subject and I do not know just what research may have been undertaken in this field. However, I shall make inquiries.
– I direct a question to my venerable friend, the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Because of the defence pictures painted by the Prime Minister and others during the general election last year; because of the disturbed nature of the peoples’ mind regarding defence; because of the unsatisfactory position regarding the supply of TFX American bombers and the obsolescence of the Canberra bombers; because of grave dissatisfaction in the Army and the recent farce of the Centurion tanks placement and because of the shocking weakness of Australia’s defences generally, I ask for clarification concerning the. following: Is it true, as recently stated by Sir Raymond Huish, Queensland State president of the Returned Soldiers League, that the Menzies Government spends only 2.6 per cent, of its annual Budget on defence? Is this less than the percentage amounts spent by Holland and even by New Zealand? Is it true that persistent criticism is forthcoming from both the United States of America and Great Britain regarding the paucity of our defences? Have the governments of those two countries or others, as repeatedly stated in the press, made any representations regarding our weak defences and have they stated that Australia is not pulling its weight, if not in those words at least in language having a similar meaning?
Senator Brown led off with a lot of “ becauses “. They were the preamble to his bill, and they all had one common attribute - each one of them was manifestly incorrect. He claimed that we had made false statements during the election campaign. We made no false statements during the election campaign. We just put the position fairly before the Australian people and it was a great discomfort to the Labour Party to realize that what we were proposing was in the national interest. Because the people realized the merits of our policy they returned us to power with one of the greatest majorities a political party has ever won. Therefore I say it ill becomes Senator Brown to say that we made false statements; nor does his question give evidence of any sporting characteristic on his part.
As to the rest of his question, we do have this constant statement about the relevant proportion which our defence expenditure bears to our Budget. The same point is made with respect to education and with respect to social services. It is, of course, merely a debating point. Those who want to advocate some particular line of expenditure or some particular field of activity usually argue their case in this way.
Then there is the allegation that our allies are saying this, or doing that, or doing the other thing. There is a short answer to all that, and I hope my recollection is correct when I say that I am only repeating what the Prime Minister has said. The short answer is that we have entered upon commitments under various treaties with our named allies. We are equipped and able to meet the various commitments which we have accepted under those treaties, and we are actually meeting them.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services whether he is aware that parents of trainee teachers at the South Australian Teachers Training College, and parents of children undergoing professional training under bond and receiving only nominal wages, do not receive child endowment payments. Were the 1964 amendments to sections 94 (1a.) to 94 (Id.) of the Social Services Act relating to child endowment and student children intended to put the parents of such trainee children outside the benefits of the child endowment provisions of the act? Or has the Director-General of Social Services used the discretionary powers conferred upon him by these amendments to rule against such claims?
– 1 cnn reply only in general terms. The purposes of the proposals in the policy speech relating to child endowment are to cover the situation of students who are continuing full-time education but are not in employment. Perhaps I should not say this, as the bill will be coming down and the proposals will be set out in it.
– Will the DirectorGeneral have a discretion?
– I could not say.
– As there are at present 106 questions on the Senate noticepaper, the first of which is dated 27th February, 1964, can the Leader of the Government inform the Senate whether any action will be taken to have answers supplied to as many of these questions as possible before the Senate rises for a brief recess on 23rd April?
– We have a new recruit to our ranks who adds to the number of questions on the noticepaper. The number is greater than it has been in the past. This is a matter that I try to watch. I think we are getting answers to questions a good deal faster than we have had them in the past. For instance, I see from the list that is provided for me that there are no fewer than nine answers to questions to-day. There have been a good number on previous days. I do not know whether it is possible to expedite answers. Some of these questions are much harder to answer than they appear to be. They require a good deal of compilation of information. I do not know whether it is possible to give any assurance as to how the programme will be.
– In view of the interest in mental health aroused by the Benn case in Western Australia, can the Minister for Health inform the Senate whether the number of medical practitioners in the field of mental health is adequate for the needs of the community? Can he inform the Senate whether all general practitioners receive some form of training in mental health in the course of their university studies?
– I could not adequately answer the question without making inquiries from the State authorities. We have no jurisdiction whatever in this field. As the honorable senator knows, the States are responsible for the training and placing of doctors, psychiatrists and all those other people who serve in that field. If it will assist the honorable senator, I shall do what I can to get the information that she requires, but I shall be merely an agent on her behalf.
– I direct a question to the Minister for National Development, on behalf of a large body of settlers in the Coleambally irrigation area. Has the Minister seen a report by an American university group, engaged by an organization known as the Australian Research Development Council, at a cost of £48,000, on the development of Australia, wherein the group reported unfavorably on irrigation? In view of the water problem facing Australia, as well as the rest of the world, will the Minister state the Government’s policy and views on the question of irrigation? I can assure him that this matter is of great concern to the people in this area as they believe that this type of report, if accepted in government circles, brings discredit on the whole of their scheme and delays further progress and development.
– I did see the report to which, I think, the honorable senator refers; I kept a copy of it for reference. I do not recollect criticism in that report of irrigation closer settlement schemes. There have been some critics of irrigation and closer settlement, from whom I dissociate myself completely. I have long held the view that one of the best tracks that we can take nationally towards decentralization is encouragement of water conservation and of closer settlement based on water conservation. I do not think the Coleambally settlers would be justified in being concerned on this point, because this area is one of the best irrigation areas in Australia. There has been a great demand for new Coleambally holdings as they have become available. I believed, as did the Government, that the New South Wales Government should be given a helping hand to put the Blowering dam into operation so that the area could be opened up and developed. .
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral. Is the Minister aware that in Sydney on Thursday last, 9th April, printed swastika signs were placed on a number of motor cars parked near the Sydney Town Hall on the occasion of a memorial service being held in the Town Hall by the New South Wales Jewish community in memory of the 1943 revolt of the Warsaw ghetto against the Nazis? Is the Minister further aware that these signs were identical with stickers pasted on the walls of the Great Synagogue in Sydney in April, 1963; that swastika signs recently were placed on the premises of a weekly Jewish newspaper in Melbourne; and that these stickers and similar Nazi-type racist and anti-Semitic material and literature circulating in Australia have been printed in countries such as Sweden, the United States of America and South Africa? Will the Minister order an official investigation to discover who is behind these offensive acts? Will he consider taking appropriate action to prohibit the importation of this kind of literature and to place the stamp of Government disapproval on these activities?
– The honorable senator can take it for granted that there is no Government stamp of approval on activities of this kind. On the contrary, there is great Government disapproval of them. I did read a press report concerning the placing of swastika signs on motor cars at a function in Sydney. 1 remember thinking then, as I say now, what childish, stupid and dangerous behaviour this was in a country such as ours, and that it would be of great benefit to us to know by whom this was done. Whether it was done by a Nazi organization or a Communist organization seeking to arouse people, it would be nice to know. I shall bring the question to the attention of the AttorneyGeneral. I believe I would be correct in saying that from whatever quarter this stupid activity may come, it is not in any way indicative of the views held by 99.9 per cent, of the Austraiian population. It is a rather difficult matter to control the importation of this kind of literature. The matter has in the past been examined by the Postmaster-General and, I believe, the Attorney-General, particularly on occasions when migrants to Australia were followed tip and hounded by publications which were sent through the post from Communist countries. Both these activities are equally unpleasant and if something can be done to prevent them I believe it will be done.
– My question is directed to the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry. Is he aware that, according to the latest available figures, imports of two classes of coated papers rose from 388 tons in December last to 627 tons in January, and from 343 tons to 680 tons respectively? Is he aware also that imports of one class of bank and bond paper rose from 394 tons in December to 500 tons in January, and that imports into Australia of fine paper in direct competition with Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Proprietary Limited rose from 2.345 tons in December to more than 3,000 tons in January? Will the Minister take steps to have a declared price placed on the imports of Scandinavian bank and bond paper in the same manner as a declared price was placed on Chinese greaseproof and Japanese bank, in an attempt to restore stability to Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Proprietary Limited at Burnie, and thereby remove the necessity for dismissal of further workers of that company?
– 1 can say only what I said yesterday. Whilst I believe the figures given by the honorable senator to be correct, legislation is on the statute book which can be used by any industry in Australia if it thinks it is being damaged by imports. Naturally enough, the Department of Trade and Industry has been in contact with the company concerned. As I understand the position, the company said that at present it cannot claim that considerable damage has been done to it by imports and therefore, at this stage, there is no case for a reference to the Special Advisory Authority. The honorable senator asked me further - I think in my capacity as Minister for Customs and Excise - whether I would have a declared price placed on certain papers. I can do that only if evidence is given to me that some types of papers are being dumped. The honorable senator referred to two classes of paper the price of which had been declared, namely Chinese greaseproof and Japanese bank. I understand that on that occasion complaints were made that those papers were being dumped into Australia at unfair prices. The position was examined, and whilst it was being examined the prices of the papers were declared and dumping duties were placed upon them. No case has been put to me that the two types of paper which the honorable senator brought to my notice have been dumped, but if any industry thinks that it has been the subject of unfair competition including dumping it should bring the matter to my attention. If that is done I will be happy to have a look at the position.
(Question No. 26.)
asked the Mini ster representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
(Question No. 63.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following answers: -
(Question No. 61.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following answer: - 1 to 3. With the co-operation of the appropriate professional associations, voluntary registers have been established, and arc being maintained, covering professional personnel qualified in the following sciences: - chemistry, agricultural science, metallurgy, veterinary science, physics, geology, fuel technology, engineering. The registers contain a great deal of information of considerable importance to my department’s study of our resources of scientific manpower. Since this information has been submitted in confidence by the voluntary registrants its confidentiality must be scrupulously observed. However, statistical information of a general nature covering any particular register may be made available to the professional association with whose co-operation it is maintained.
(Question No. 59.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following answer: - 1 and 2. The department’s activities in this field take various forms. It collates information about training practices overseas and in Australia and makes it available to industry. It provides an advisory service to managements on new and improved methods of training, and helps them establish training programmes. Some measure of this is the number of requests for assistance received from industry. In 1963 they numbered some 560. The department also encourages and assists technical education authorities and organizations such as the Australian Institute of Management to establish facilities for training instructors, apprentice masters and training officers; and it pursues a continuous programme of research designed to improve training methods and arrangements and adapt them to Australia’s own special requirements. The department has followed the practice of admitting personnel from industry to the courses it conducts for the training of training-within-industry trainers for Commonwealth departments and agencies. It has so far trained 227, 142, 87 and 102 trainers from industry in, respectively, the training-within-industry job instruction, job relations, job methods and job safety programmes. The department collaborates with the Australian Institute of Management in setting up and conducting comprehensive courses in Melbourne for training education and training officers for industry and commerce. Over 300 have been through these courses. As well 40-odd apprentice masters and others concerned with training operatives in industry have taken the department’s two-week teaching methods course, which is similar to that conducted by the Ministry of Labour in Britain. As a further contribution to raising the quality of training, the department produces training aids which industrial trainers can use in teaching training-within-industry and other standard courses. It also develops standard courses, of which a recent example was the course of accident prevention now being widely used by State Departments of Labour.
(Question No. 64.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following answers: -
(Question No. 67.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
Without waiting for the report of the inquiry into the “ Voyager “ disaster, will the Minister ensure that on all ships on which naval men are serving - (a) escape hatches are capable of being opened in limes of emergency; (b) adequate lifeboats or rafts are in serviceable order; (c) instructions are given to all personnel on how to inflate life-rafts: and (d) all sea-going naval personnel who arc unable to swim are taught before being permitted to serve on vessels at sea?
– The Minister for the Navy has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s question: -
(Question No. 79.)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
(Question No. 83.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
(Question No. 93.)
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows: -
– I wish to make a personal explanation concerning wrong information I supplied earlier this afternoon when asking a question of the Leader of the Government. I stated that there were 106 unanswered questions on the noticepaper of the Senate, but I have since been reminded by my colleague, Senator Wright, that under a fairly recently instituted practice questions on the notice-paper retain the number given them on the day that they were asked, and at present there are in reality fewer than 60 questions on the notice-paper, which number has been considerably reduced this afternoon.
– by leave - I should like to inform the Senate of further details concerning the incident involving a DC-6B airliner at Melbourne yesterday. It might be useful, before giving further details of to-day’s happenings if I give the Senate some details about the events of yesterday afternoon. The airliner was a DC-6B carrying 59 passengers and six crew. It took off from Melbourne airport at 1.21 J p.m. bound for Adelaide. At 1.224- one of my department’s controllers in the airport control tower who was following the aircraft’s take-off through binoculars saw parts of the propeller fall from the aircraft. He immediately instituted a distress phase. This action immediately sets in operation the department’s emergency procedures. Some 30 seconds later the co-pilot radioed the control tower notifying it of trouble in the aircraft’s No. 3 engine, which is the right inner engine.
I think honorable senators will agree that the tower controller who alerted the department’s emergency procedures so quickly acted with commendable promptitude. A series of messages between the aircraft and ground control indicated the extent of the damage and the aircraft was cleared to fly out over Port Phillip Bay and hold some J 5 miles south of the airport. The captain decided this was the best course as the aircraft was fully controllable but at this stage the No. 3 engine was drooping. The pilot captain, Keith Hants, considered that the drooping engine might foul the aircraft’s undercarriage if he attempted an immediate landing. The airport air traffic control centre alerted police, who, in accordance with a well-established emergency plan, in turn alerted all necessary civil emergency and medical services. All these organizations responded immediately. Police were sent to block off the major roads leading to the airport and clear paths for emergency vehicles such as ambulances, a medical team, and additional civil fire fighting units which were sent to the airport to assist the department’s fire and rescue service. Air traffic control kept a radio frequency clear to remain in continuous contact with the airliner as it circled over Port Phillip Bay.
An immediate conference was held to assess the best way of bringing the aircraft down safely. The possibility of using Avalon or Laverton aerodromes was considered but it was decided that facilities were better at Melbourne airport. A DC-3 aircraft wilh specialist engineers on board was sent up to make an external visual inspection of the damage. A Royal Australian Air Force Canberra flying in the Laverton area also volunteered to make a visual inspection and a Royal Australian Air Force crash launch was positioned out in the bay. Air traffic control plotted a return course for the airliner to bring it back to the airport along the Maribyrnong River and other lightly-populated areas. The Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works was also asked to boost water pressure to the airport to give the maximum supply in case it was needed.
At 2.14 p.m. the aircraft dumped fuel into the bay, retaining about 50 minutes endurance. At 2.43 Melbourne airport was closed to all operations and at 2.44 Captain Hants reported that he had managed to shake off the drooping No. 3 engine and was returning to the airport. At 2.53 he reported that the aircraft’s undercarriage was down and locked with three green lights showing - which must have .been a very welcome sight for Captain Hants and his crew. At 2.55 with all emergency services of the Department of Civil Aviation and civil emergency and medical services standing by, Captain Hants and his crew brought their aircraft into a perfect landing. I think every senator will agree with me when I say it was a very commendable example of the highest qualities of Australian airmanship.
My department’s accident investigation organization commenced its investigation even before the airliner landed. This fullscale investigation is continuing. All the relevant parts of the propeller and those parts of the engine that have been recovered have been taken into custody. A fix on the position where the engine dropped from the aircraft was established by radar and a departmental aircraft and Royal Australian Air Force crash launch later located an oil slick - the position of which corresponds with the radar position. This position was marked with a buoy last night and this afternoon a Melbourne Harbour Trust diver is going down to locate the engine and see if it can be salvaged.
Indications are that the initial failure occurred in one propeller blade. After this blade separated, the resulting vibration could be expected to tear away the remainder of the propeller and partially dislodge the engine. Preliminary inspection of the propeller indicates that this was an isolated type of blade failure. However, the blade will be subjected to scientific examination at the Aeronautical Research Laboratories at Fishermen’s Bend. It will be several days before the scientific tests can firmly establish the cause of the blade failure.
This is the first known blade failure in Australia in the long experience of the operation of not only DC-6B aircraft but also in the operation of DC-6 and Convair aircraft which have the same propeller and engine combination. My department also knows of no other instance anywhere else in the world where this type of failure has occurred with this type of engine/ propeller combination. Because of the isolated nature of the blade failure there is no immediate concern about the airworthiness of DC-6B aircraft.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Paltridge) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill seeks the approval of Parliament to the borrowing of 25,000,000 dollars, or about £11,200,000, by the Commonwealth on behalf of Qantas Empire Airways Limited. The bill contains an appropriation of the loan fund to enable the proceeds of the borrowing to be advanced to Qantas. It also includes an appropriation of the Consolidated Revenue Fund to enable the Commonwealth to meet payments of principal and interest and other charges associated with the loan. Funds to meet these latter payments will be provided by Qantas, so that there will be no net cost to the Commonwealth.
The borrowing is being made by the Commonwealth in order to assist Qantas in purchasing three Boeing 707-338C jet aircraft and related equipment in the United States. The ,v aircraft will increase Qantas’ front-line fleet to cope with expected increases in traffic. The additional aircraft will bring the company’s Boeing fleet to sixteen, and are expected to be delivered between February and September next year.
The arrangements for the borrowing are similar to those approved by Parliament in May, 1963, when the Commonwealth borrowed 9,000,000 dollars or £4,000,000 on behalf of Qantas, and 11,000,000 dollars or £4,900,000 on behalf of TransAustralia Airlines. The entire proceeds of the borrowing will be made available to Qantas by the Commonwealth on terms to be determined by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt). These terms will be the same as the conditions under which the Commonwealth itself has borrowed the money. As Qantas will be required to meet all charges as they become due under the loan agreement, the Commonwealth assumes a function similar to that of guarantor of the loan, and there will be no net charge on the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
Including the present loan, the Commonwealth has now borrowed 85,400,000 dollars in New York for the purchase of aircraft since 1956, of which 69,400,000 has been for Qantas Empire Airways Limited and 16,000,000 dollars for TransAustralia Airlines. Of the earlier loans totalling 60,400,000 dollars, an amount of only 30,000,000 dollars, or- less than half, remains to be repaid. In addition, a further 39,200,000 dollars has been borrowed for aircraft purposes from the International Bank and the Export-Import Bank of Washington, of which 28,900,000 dollars is still outstanding. These loans have contributed significantly to the fleet extension, modernizing and re-equipping which Qantas Empire Airways Limited and TransAustralia Airlines have undertaken in recent years.
The loan is being made by Morgan Guaranty Trust Company of New York, The Chase Manhattan Bank, Irving Trust Company, and Continental Illinois National Bank and Trust Company of Chicago. The text of the loan agreement is annexed as the schedule to the bill. The average interest cost over the life of the loan is slightly less than 5 per cent. Virtually the whole of the cost of the new aircraft and equipment is to be met by Qantas in the United States, and the favorable offer made by the lending banks was therefore accepted.
The loan will be drawn by the Commonwealth at the request of Qantas, as payments for the new aircraft are required by the manufacturer. Drawings on the loan will commence immediately after parliamentary approval has been obtained to the bill, and are to be completed by 30th September, 1965. Until that date, interest is payable at the rate of 41 per cent, on amounts drawn, and a commitment fee of i per cent, is payable on the undrawn balance.
As the loan is drawn, the Commonwealth will issue a series of interim promissory notes to the lenders. On 30th September, 3965, the interim notes will be exchanged for a series of notes of approximately equal value which are payable half-yearly between June, 1966, and December, 1972. The notes repayable in 1966 and 1967 will bear interest at 4i per cent., those repayable in 1968 and 1969 will bear interest at 4J per cent., those repayable in 1970 will bear interest at 5 per cent., those repayable in 1971 will bear interest at 5i per cent., and those repayable in 1972 will bear interest at 5i per cent.
Other provisions in the loan agreement are similar to those included in earlier agreements negotiated by the Commonwealth in the United States for borrowings for aircraft purposes, except for the provision in section 7 of the loan agreement requiring the Commonwealth to pay the lenders any interest equalization tax that may bc levied on the transaction. Although we have received an assurance that this transaction will not be subject to interest equalization tax when that measure becomes law, the lenders sought its inclusion on this occasion. A provision of this type has become the normal practice in oversea Joans made by United States commercial banks since the announcement of the proposed tax.
The terms and conditions of the borrowing have been approved by the Australian Loan Council, and the borrowing will be additional to the Commonwealth’s pro gramme of £49,900,000 for housing approved at the June, 1963, meeting of the Australian Loan Council.
As with previous loans arranged on behalf of Qantas Empire Airways Limited and Trans-Australia Airlines, the Commonwealth is acting only as an intermediary, and the borrowing will therefore involve no net call on the Commonwealth resources. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henty) read a first time.
[4.5]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The bill now before honorable senators proposes amendments to the schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933-1963. The bill comprises five schedules with each schedule having a different date of commencement. The tariff changes are based on recommendations arising out of reports by the Tariff Board and reports by a Special Advisory Authority. For the assistance of honorable senators, I will outline the subjects covered by the bill as they appear in each schedule.
The First Schedule provides for temporary duties on safflower seed and soya bean oils. These duties are additional to the normal duties and follow a report by a Special Advisory Authority. Temporary duties are incurred when the freeonboard price is less than 12s. 6d. per gallon for safflower seed oil and 9s. 6d. per gallon for soya bean oil.
The Second Schedule proposes temporary ad valorem duties on synthetic organic pigments to accord protection to the Australian industry against import competition. This schedule also provides increased overall tariff protection for the timber industry, which takes the place of the temporary quantitative restrictions which previously applied to the main types of imported timbers pending the result of the Tariff Board’s inquiries.
In the Third Schedule, the proposed changes are derived from recommendations by the TariffBoard on pillow cases and certain weedicides and insecticides. The new duties are of the sliding scale type, the incidence of which is not greatly different from that of the combined ordinary and temporary duties which they have replaced.
The Fourth Schedule provides for increased duties of1s. 6d. per lb. on imports of malleable cast iron pipe fittings imported from most-favoured-nation sources, whilst on other pipe fittings alternate and fixed rates of duty have been replaced by ad valorem duties. The ordinary protective duties on forged steel flanges have been increased by 10 per cent, ad valorem which is in lieu of the 121/2 per cent, temporary duty which applied to some types pending the outcome of the Tariff Board’s inquiries.
Also included in the Fourth Schedule is provision for new protective duties of 20 per cent, ad valorem for larger types of electric filament lamps used in automobile lighting systems. All other types of filament lamps, including the glass envelopes used in their manufacture, are now subject to nonprotective rates of duty, the Tariff Board considering that the Australian electric lamp industry is efficient enough to compete successfully without tariff protection.
The Fifth Schedule imposes new protective ad valorem duties on certain table and kitchen knives which incorporate a design known as a Waterloo bolster. The new duties are the same as those applying to other table and kitchen knives and are at the same level as the combined ordinary and temporary duties which they will replace. In this schedule the current protective duties on syringes of glass and metal have been removed and new protective duties applied to imported plastic syringes. The existing protective duties on hypodermic needles are being retained and similar rates will now apply to other injection and puncture needles of types made in Australia.
I invite the attention of honorable senators to the summaries of tariff alterations which have justbeen distributed. The changes involved will be found set out in some detail, including the previous rates, those now proposed, and the reasons for the changes. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henty) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill proposes amendments of the Second Schedule to the Customs Tariff (Canada Preference) 1960-1963. This action is complementary to that being taken in Customs Tariff Bill 1964. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henty) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill proposes a number of amendments to the schedule to the Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) 1933-1963. This action is complementary to that being taken in Customs Tariff Bill 1964. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henty) read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill proposes amendments to the Customs Tariff (Papua and New Guinea Preference) 1936-1959. This action is complementary to that being taken in Customs Tariff Bill 1964. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 14th April (vide page 613), on motion by Senator Wade -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– There being no objection, that course will be followed.
– The substance of the first note I have made has been stolen from me by Senator Wade who has suggested that these eight bills, complementary and ancilliary as they are, should be debated as one. The Opposition has agreed to that count as it will be more convenient to refer to particular items in any or all of the bills in the one speech.
A study of the eight bills before us reveals that a major review of the legislation dealing with the meat industry of Australia has been made. As it is the first major review of this legislation to be made since 1946, it represents the first major review by the present Government. When we come to deal with the question of exports, we immediately enter upon a discussion of a very important part of the legislation of this Parliament. The subject becomes doubly important when we are dealing with exports to places outside the United Kingdom which has been our traditional customer over the years. It is doubly important because, although the question of Britain’s entry into the European Common Market is no longer under active consideration, nevertheless there is the possibility that at some time she will enter that market and this constitutes, in effect, a threat to our traditional market. On this occasion we are discussing bills which relate to the export of an important dollar and sterling earner overseas, and which seek to set up an organization which could help to strengthen our position on markets other than those which can be threatened by Great Britain’s entry into the European Common Market at any time. Matters relating to the export of commodities other than wool and wheat, which are our major exports, are always important. That is why we find every honorable senator taking particular note of bills relating to export commodities, even when these are small earners, such as canned fruits and wine. This is because it has been brought home very forcibly that we are vulnerable in export activity, relying heavily on two major export commodities and one part of the world market. When dealing with meat, we are dealing not with a small export commodity but with the third biggest agricultural export. As defined in the bill, “ meat “ means - the flesh, whether fresh or preserved, of cattle, buffaloes, sheep, lambs or other prescribed animals, and includes meat products and edible offal.
The old bill, which we are about to repeal and replace with this bill, dealt also with pig meats. I understand that representatives of the pig industry have asked to be excluded from this set-up and that at a later date they will be putting forward suggestions relating to their own industry for this Parliament to examine.
Last year meat exports in terms of this bill amounted to £96,000,000. Meat was therefore the third largest export earned for Australia. Meat export has developed along traditional, sound lines. First, we have a very large home consumption market. Whether on the manufacturing side or on the agricultural side, an industry can develop over a period of years by fattening - that is an appropriate term in relation to the industry which we are now considering - on the home market before it moves out to compete with other producing countries. Australians are among the greatest meat eaters in the world. We have a tremendous consumption of meat, on which this industry has been able to develop, and it is possible to export our surplus production. We are now in a position of chasing new markets and trying to consolidate established markets, particularly the one in the United States of America, about which I shall have more to say a little later.
In 1963 we produced 1,614,000 tons of meat and exported only 368,000 tons. Australians consumed 1,246,000 tons. That bears out my statement that we are great meat eaters and that we have a large home consumption market from which to develop the export trade which is so tremendously vital. An interesting sidelight is that to-day we eat about 30 lb. a head per annum less meat than we ate pre-war. This does not mean that we are turning our backs on eating. It probably means that we should look at the poultry industry and the effect of high pressure salesmanship in relation to cereal breakfast foods, with their gimmicks for children. These activities have an effect on the type of food that we eat. The fact is that we are actually eating less meat than we ate prewar, which is really surprising.
– Did those figures relate to beef in bone or with the bone out?
– I think that they were corrected figures. The figures for exports used to relate to meat with the bone in. Now boneless meat is being taken and we get corrected figures. There may be slight variations because of the inclusion of sausage meats. Very largely, I think, there is a close relationship between the figures in the Commonwealth “ Year Book “ and the figures of the Division of Agricultural Economics. They relate to boneless meat.
The legislation is being framed against a changing background in the industry. That changing background will become also a changing foreground if we examine the problem closely. Last year our production came from a population of 158,500,000 sheep and lambs, and 18,500,000 cattle. I have taken a period of ten years, because it seemed a nice tidy period to consider. Ten years ago we had 123,000,000 sheep and 15,200,000 cattle. So, while we are eating less meat, we are producing much more, so naturally we have to turn to export markets, which are the basis of this legislation. The change in our eating habits is illustrated markedly by an examination of fat Iamb consumption. Prewar we produced 117,000 tons of fat lamb and exported 61 per cent., a very high percentage. Last year we produced 248,000 tons - not quite double - and exported only 12 per cent. So we had a greater consumption of fat lamb, because more beef was going to the United States and beef in Australia was more expensive. Whether the new Australian population has had an influence on the production of prime fat lamb, I do not know. It seems that the great demand overseas for beef which has produced higher prices for beef in Australia has encouraged the consumption of lamb.
There has been a tremendous increase in beef exports to .the United States of America. We exported 40,000 tons to America in 1957 and last year we exported 366,000 tons. We are now exporting about nine times the quantity that we exported in 1957. When I examined the position in Asian countries, I got a surprise. I thought that our market there would be increasing steadily and progressively. It has become almost trite to say that the Japanese are taking so much more of our products. Eastern nations are emerging and their eating habits arc changing. Kobe beefs are famous in Japan, but there are very few of them. One would have thought that we would have a steadily rising meat market in Japan. Actually, the graph depicting exports looks like the top of a picket fence. In 1957, we exported to Japan 7,800 tons of meat, mainly beef. In 1.958, exports dropped to 3,000 tons, and in 1959 to 1,300 tons and last year they increased to 7,661 tons. There has been an increase in exports of canned meats and offal. It is disappointing that over the past six years we have merely regained the ground that we held six years ago.
Having seen dramatic buying by the Americans from us in recent times, we would be inclined to be most optimistic and to think that there would not be many worries in the industry. Examining the position a little further, we can see all sorts of problems, which can be frightening if we allow ourselves to worry too much about them. In a secondary industry, with adequate manpower and materials and an immediate market, development can be achieved almost overnight and in a pretty short space of time we can obtain enough production to get commodities on ships. Primary industry is not a field in which there can be overnight development. Land allocation takes time. State governments must first consider methods of mass clearing and the quality of pastures. Pastoral improvement is necessarily slow and so is rural development generally. The varying conditions relating to export markets must be considered. There is on the noticepaper at the moment a paper dealing with our arrangements with the United States of America regarding the selling of beef.
In his second-reading speech, the Minister explained the situation as he saw it. I quote the remarks he made because I am inclined to think he over-simplified the position and adopted an over-optimistic view. Dealing with the United States, he said -
This movement of prices which is contrary to the movement in prices for domestic fed cattle clearly illustrates that there is a separate and unfilled market in the United States for the boneless, lean frozen meat which is imported from Australia. The major part of these exports do not compete directly with United States domestic fed beef, the overproduction of which has been recognized by official sources as being mainly responsible for the current market situation in the United States.
Australia has been able to export that type of beef because of the hamburger trade in America. This beef comes from our northern areas. I feel that the Minister has not told us the whole story. He has been inclined to give us an over-optimistic view of the situation and has ignored the action which is being taken in the United States at the present moment. An article appeared in this morning’s press about that action, and I shall refer to it later.
We are faced with the paradox that Australia, a cattle-producing country, is exporting beef to another large cattleproducing country whose potential has not yet been fully exploited. Nobody would claim that Australia could produce more beef than the United States.
– But the Government emphasizes that it is a private enterprise country.
– It probably does. The beef that we are exporting for the hamburger trade in the United States is our old beef. It is a lean type of beef. The Americans have a predilection for baby beef which necessitates the slaughtering of cattle at a very early age. If the market becomes as lucrative as it appears that it will, the American cattlemen could turn their minds towards the hamburger trade and supply lean boneless meat from the vast areas that are available for development in America. Because of this possibility, I cannot fail to issue the warning that we may be kidding ourselves in relation to the increase in the meat trade. Anybody who has studied the agricultural position of America will be aware of the farm quota system. The significance of the present position will be evident to President Johnson, who is a cattleman from Texas.
We know that six State governments in the United States have been agitating for something to be done about the agreement that has been signed, to protect the home market. American senators are urging import restrictions. There are several bills now before the American Congress dealing with the agreement, although that does not mean as much as it would in Australia. In America there is a system whereby private members’ bills are introduced by the dozen and many of them never see the light of day. This agitation has brought about the announcement that a Tariff Board inquiry will be held shortly. This is understandable if the matter is looked at from the point of view of the American cattleman. In 1957, the year which was referred to by the Minister, America was producing 92,860,000 tons of meat. Last year, production increased to 103,500,000 tons. The year 1957 was not a very good one as some parts of the cattle-producing areas of America were then emerging from a drought. The United States has increased the production of beef. Land is available and the Americans know of the benefits of pasture improvement. It is only natural that these people should hope for a successful, outcome to the inquiry. The agreement highlights the problem. I do not think it solves the problem, nor do I think it was meant to do so. Responsible people in both countries realized that there had to be some kind of agreement to avert a collision with the cattlemen of the United States who resented our rushing into this market. As I understand it, there is in the agreement an escape clause which provides for a carry-over period of six months. Even six months is better than no carryover at all.
The tariff inquiry which has been ordered by the United States Senate Finance Committee is to consider this question of the importation of beef. A report is to be furnished by 30th June. The inquiry will commence on 28th April. It will encompass a survey of the domestic beef industry, imports, consumption, prices, treatment methods in America, and other factors affecting competition between local meats and imported beef and beef products. Although the inquiry will cover a wide range of matters, its aim is definite, lt is directed towards the extent to which imports compete with locally-produced meat on the home market in the United States. It will be a particularly important inquiry, especially as this is an election year in America. Australia will be represented at the inquiry. Whether evidence will be given from Australia, I am not sure, but Mr. Shute, who is a leading figure in cattle and meat organizations in Australia, will attend.
– He is the chairman of the Australian Meat Board.
– Yes. even if he does not give evidence he will be watching the interests of Australia. The problem of our meat exports is not an easy one for the Meat Board to solve. That is why we are agreeing to the tremendous powers which it is proposed to give to the board. It will have to deal with the big buyers which are our main customers. The United States of America, one of those big buyers, has never been slow to erect a solid wall of tariffs against us. Any honorable senator opposite who grows wool will know that that is true.
President Kennedy instituted the Kennedy round of talks to consider the problem of high tariffs. The United States has always kept out products from other countries which would compete with American products. In the case of wool, America acted to protect its southern producers. In addition, America has Mexico right on its doorstep, and it can import these products from that country. Also, there is Argentina which at the moment is not a serious competitor for Australia; but it could well be so in the next few years. Australia also deals with the United Kingdom, a country with which it is notoriously difficult to negotiate. The United Kingdom has been engaged in world trade for a long time, and there are many things which it cannot produce. It is very difficult for any country in the world to negotiate with the United Knigdom. Hanging over Great Britain at the moment is the possibility that it may move into the Common Market. If it does so, it will be bound by the Treaty of Rome. The terms of the treaty make it notoriously difficult for countries outside the Common Market to sell to member nations products which can be produced by Common Market countries.
The Common Market countries themselves are placed in this situation because, collectively, they have lost flexibility on this question of tariff to a greater extent than have individual countries. As I mentioned a few moments ago, although the United States has been tough over the years, and has erected high tariff walls against us, nevertheless the Americans do take these matters into consideration. Under the Kennedy proposals the United States is trying to help those countries that must export meat. The position becomes six times as difficult when six countries have to arrive at a decision. It amounts to having five watchdogs watching the affairs of the other members. I repeat that the board will have to formulate a long-term policy because of the slow development in the home market.
The powers to be given to the new board to deal with the problems of the industry are embodied in the eight bills before the chamber. The new board is to be given terrific powers. The Opposition agrees that it should be given these powers. 1 should like to emphasize the powers to be given to the new board so that when the Opposition moves amendments to the legislation the Government might give those amendments more respect and consideration. I am sure it will do so if it fully realizes the tremendous powers that are to be given to the new board. When these tremendous powers are given to a board 1 think that the board should be unfettered in its use of them. It should not be held up by any sectional interests and should not be hindered in any way in doing the job it is intended to do.
The first purpose of the legislation is to deal with export controls and export licences. This is tremendously important because to-day 300 people hold export licences. The powers of the board are such that these licences can be taken away from these people. The board can recommend to the Minister under what conditions individuals can be given the right to export, and under what conditions groups of people can be given that right. The board has that authority and there is no right of appeal from the Minister’s decision. The Minister’s decision, of course, will rest on the recommendation of the board.
The board will have the authority to determine the levy on the slaughter of live-stock. Interestingly enough, the figure has not been fixed. The Minister, apparently, plucking a figure out of the air, suggested it might be 6d. a head on sheep and 5s. a head on cattle. If those are going to be the figures - he did not say that they would be, but those are the figures he mentioned - it would amount to an extra cost to the industry of £1,000,000 a year.
– It would amount to £1,700,000.
– The additional cost would be £1,000,000. The total cost would be £1,700,000.
The board also has to report on, and virtually controls, the quality, standard and grades of any particular class or kind of meat to be exported from Australia. It has to make reports and suggestions to, and formulate plans for the consideration of the Minister with respect to any other matter affecting the meat industry including the export of meat from Australia. It has also to encourage, assist and promote the export of meat from Australia and to do all things that are necessary or are convenient to be done for or in connexion with the performance of its functions. The board also has to do such things it thinks fit in order to improve the quality of meat. It has to do the things that are necessary for increasing the quantity of meat exported. Also it has the power to purchase meat and to export or to sell meat for export. It has power to take any other action that is, in the opinion of the board, likely to achieve either of these purposes.
It is true that under clause 25 - I shall refer to that clause again a little later - some restrictions are placed on the board which I believe should not be placed upon it. I shall refer to what some people might consider to be a minor matter - the question of hiring staff. We find that the board is not subject to the scrutiny of the Public Service Board in this regard. In other words if the new board wants to employ somebody in Australia or any other part of the world it has the absolute right to do so.
On the question of export control, the legislation provides that the regulations may prohibit the export from Australia of meat by a person other than the board. The board has the complete right of controlling the export of meat from Australia. Unless a person holds a licence which has been given to him by the board he cannot export. There is no right of appeal from this power. In other words, under this legislation we are giving to this board the power to make recommendations to the Minister concerning the total export of meat from Australia on its own terms and conditions. I emphasize these things, Mr. Deputy President, so that honorable senators will realize the powers we are giving to the board. I repeat that I believe these powers should be given to the board but I suggest that they have been inhibited by some of the clauses in the bill. The Opposition believes that the board should not be fettered because of the tremendous tasks it has to carry out. The more one examines what might be the future of export trade in Australia the more one realizes the mansized job it is to look after and improve our balance of trade.
The board has the duty to protect the growing industry in Australia. It must be concerned not only with the money that is being spent on the production of meat, but the tremendous amount of capital that has been invested in freezing works, lt must be concerned, too, with the number of people who are earning a fairly precarious living because of the seasonal nature of the work and the piece-work system attached to it.
We must realize the delicacy of the American market and the disappointing aspect of the Asian market. In the Philippines and other places, the story is almost the same as it is in relation to Japan. I think it is worse. We realize the negotiations that will have to be entered into with the United States, the United Kingdom and the European Common Market. We realize, too, the language difficulty involved in trying to sell meat to Asian people in view of the fact that up to this time meat has not been their staple diet. As well as realizing the problems of the European market we realize that at any time - in dealing with large amounts of foodstuffs in relation to under-privileged countries - we might want to move into governmenttogovernment trading. In that case a board of this nature would be an absolute necessity in handling the negotiations on behalf of the Government.
I wish now to refer to the reservations of the Opposition on clause 25. This clause has the tremendously important side heading, “Trading powers”, lt deals with the purchase, the export, and the selling of meat. Then the clause goes on to provide that this action shall not be taken unless there is first a meeting of the consultative committee - an outside committee separate from the board itself. That committee has to be comprised of the chairman, four of the other members of the board - that is the Australian Meat Board about which we are speaking - and four members of the Australian Meat Exporters Federal Council. This means, that we are placing the whole industry, as far as the major question of export is concerned, under a restriction, if not under the control of the Australian Meat Exporters Federal Council. That council represents people who are very important in connexion with the production of meat on the hoof. It will not help the board to perform its functions if. as has been provided, all the power will be in the hands of the growers. When it comes to a matter of export the board will not be able to move until a meeting of the committee is held and the board can. in effect, come back and say, “ Yes. we have the green light from the committee and we can do this, that or the other thing.”
I cannot emphasize too much that when an Australian government sets up a board to deal with exports it is moving - quite apart from the question of mere profits and of competition in a limited field - into what can be regarded as the lifeblood of this country. The Government is trying to move away from the vulnerable position where its overseas balances can be affected by a few items of export. The Opposition is of the opinion that the board should be completely unfettered in view of the tremendous responsibility that this legislation will give to it. The board will have tremendous power in connexion with the exporting of meat. This is the board which can say to the 300 meat exporters, “ You shall no longer export meat. We will take over the whole control of meat exports.” Then the board will have to deal with the exporters and not the meat producers.
– The Minister can overrule the board.
– It is true that the Minister can overrule the board but 1 think that Senator Cormack, having studied the bill, will be the first to agree that the Minister has unnecessarily relinquished a lot of the powers he could have had. Throughout this bill there is a trend for the Minister to hand too much power to others. A selection committee is to be appointed to submit names for appointment to the board as meat producer representatives. Instead of appointing his own chairman, so that he can say, “ I have my own man at the head of this board “ - I will give reasons shortly why he should be able to say that - the Minister will seek the advice of the selection committee. When he asks the board to make recommendations to him in regard to exports the matter will have to go to a consultative committee. It is true that the Minister will have the final veto in some of these matters but it is clear from the spirit of this legislation that the last thing he is likely to do is to veto the boards’ decision after a matter has been discussed with a committee. It would take a Philadelphia lawyer to determine where a committee’s authority ends, where the board’s authority ends, and where the Minister will finally - and to my mind reluctantly - decide what is going to happen. Senator Cormack’s interjection was valid on the legal side, but I suggest to him that it is not valid in the atmosphere of this bill and in the light of what will take place in the politics of the production and export of meat.
Another objection that we have is to the constitution of the board. There are twelve members on the present board and one, the representative of the pig producers, has dropped out. As I said earlier, the pig producers do not want to join with this organization. A little later on they will be putting to the Government suggestions for the handling of their industry and their own export problems. The Government has retained grower control of the board by giving the producers five representatives. It has now excluded the employees’ representatives and the representative of the co-operative and publicly owned abattoirs. We disagree with these changes because, first, we have not heard, in this debate or anywhere else, any complaint about the job that the present board has done. Evidently it has done a pretty good job in spite of the rapidly changing background to its work, such as the dramatic expansion of the United States market and the problems besetting the United Kingdom market. The board has raised the industry to its present healthy position, and the problems which are arising are only those that would concern any Australian who is worrying about the burning question of overseas credits. Yet the Government, having suddenly decided to have another look at the industry, is reducing the size of the board. Far from there being any complaint about the board’s operations, the good work that it has done is, I am sure, acknowledged by every senator. The Minister, when referring to the omission of representatives of the public utilities from the board, said -
In the case of public utilities, while recognizing the importance of works such as Cannon Hill, Homebush, Flemington, Victoria, and Gepp’s Cross as killing centres, the Government has felt that the essential point is that these works are not associated with the actual marketing of meat and has decided not to provide for their representation on the board. 1 do not know sufficient about the industry in the States concerned to know whether that is true or not, but I doubt it. Some of these abattoirs actually sell meat overseas for their clients, but even apart from that, they are dealing in the killing and processing of meat for people who will be sellers overseas. In any walk of life when you employ somebody, whether a lawyer, an accountant, a motor mechanic, or a technician you buy from him not only the immediate service that he gives but also his years of experience. So, the owner of beasts that are to be killed for export is entitled to expect from the management of a public abattoirs all the information that is available in the trade about export markets. There is no doubt that representation on the Australian Meat Board over the years has been of advantage to public abattoir authorities, just as it will be of inestimable value to the private interests who are to be appointed to the new board. The board is in a position to gauge the probable trends of the market and from this information exporters can decide whether they should be buying as much meat as they can for export in carcass or boneless form, or whether they should lay off buying for a few months. The Government is giving the people who are to be represented on the board an unfair advantage and denying that advantage to the public utilities and co-operatives that have for so long been represented.
I wondered how many of these public utilities there were and I found that there is a considerable number of them. I am impressed by the decentralization - about which we hear so much - which is to be seen in these publicly owned works. In New South Wales they are situated at Gunnedah, Dubbo, Maitland, Newcastle, Wagga and Blayney. In Victoria there are two, one at Ballarat and one at Bendigo. There is one in South Australia, at Port Lincoln, and one in Queensland. In Western Australia there are two, situated at Midland and at Fremantle. There are others, with limited facilities, at Albury, Inverell and places such as that. So when the Government denies these State and municipal utilities representation on the board it is denying representation to people who are widely scattered and who have grown up with representation since 1946. I think that this is a retrograde step.
The Minister said that the board was too unwieldy, but it has taken the Government a long time to find that out. The membership of the board will be automatically reduced by one, with the removal of the representative of the pig industry. A most peculiar phrase was used by the Minister. He said that the old board had found it necessary to use the committee system to get through its work. If I were a betting man I would be willing to bet the chairman of the new board or anyone else that the committee system will still be used, because I do not know of any body of men consisting of more than three or four members which does not at some stage find it convenient to use the committee system, whether it be because of the numbers involved or because of the specialized knowledge of some of the individuals. So, I do not find that a valid reason for ending public utility representation on the board. As I have said representation on the board would enable public abattoir authorities to advise their clients on market trends and other matters. The public utilities have a huge capital investment and that is being increased by the demands of hygiene and the requirements of American buyers.
– lt has increased very greatly.
– Thank you for the interjection. 1 have some figures but [ will not repeat them as they have already been quoted. However the interjection seems to bear them out. Now these instrumentalities find that the Government will not allow them representation on the board.
With regard to employee representation, I can imagine some of my Liberal friends on the other side of the chamber asking, “ What have the employees to do with the exporting of meat? “ If honorable senators know anything about the work of meat slaughtermen - and 1 hope that Senators McClelland and Murphy will deal with this more fully - they will realize that this is a most difficult industrial situation, even more difficult than most industrial situations, because of the question of piecework, because of the nature of the work that is done, because of the seasonal activities, and because when a man is depending on something for his livelihood he takes a tremendous interest in the quantity of work that is going to come forward. Just as a shearer can say what the clip will be for the forthcoming season, so can slaughtermen know export requirements and the policies of meat boards. Certain knowledge can come only through familiarity with an occupation, and I believe that in any industry it is a tremendous backward step - of the kind that I should have thought would have gone out even before the 1920’s in this country - to deliberately throw away the knowledge and co-operation of the men working in the industry. lt is not as though representation of the employees is an expensive arrangement. It applies in dozens of committees throughout the Commonwealth. On most boards there is a skilled operative who is able to assist the board. There has been a skilled operative on this board since J.946, but it is now propsed that he will not be on the board, lt is a backward step. I. reject the suggestion that the board would be unwieldy with that representative still in it. It is going to be given greater responsibility, yet it will have fewer members to carry out its work.
Later in this debate we will suggest that the Commonwealth representative should be chairman of the board. I am not in favour of appointing a Commonwealth representative to a board and providing that that board shall consult a committee as to whom the boards’ chairman shall be, then return to the Minister and say, “ This person ought to be chairman of our board “. The board is to be permitted to appoint its deputy chairman. It will be able to sack the deputy chairman, but it should not be able to sack the chairman, because his should be a ministerial appointment. As I said in reply to an interjection by Senator Cormack, I think that the Minister is moving out of his field of responsibility and is reaching the position where he will no longer be completely master of the situation. By doing the things proposed he is weakening his position, and this should not be the situation. The way to overcome this is for the Minister to say, “ I have the right of appointment and I will exercise that ministerial right and appoint the chairman of the board “. That would give both ministerial and parliamentary control of the board.
Surely we are sufficiently adult to realize that power blocs will develop on such questions as who is to be chairman of the board and whether he will be a representative of the producers or the exporters. If the Minister appointed one of his tremendously efficient departmental officers as chairman - a man with no financial interest in the industry - this would create confidence in the outside public. I believe the Minister would be doing well if he adopted our suggestion. If the Minister grasps the nettle and appoints as chairman his own nominee this will avoid jealousy and competition. When we are considering an export trade we are not dealing with the narrow confines of business, nor are we ensuring that someone makes a lot of money; wc are dealing wilh the lifeblood of Australia, and there is nothing wrong in any government unashamedly saying that its nominee should be head of one of the nation’s big export projects. A government nominee should say what must be done for the development of Australia in this matter. This proposed board will not be able to move on the question of export markets until it has the approval of a committee, and its actions could be delayed if the chairman represented a vested interest. However, if the chairman were a young departmental officer this sort of issue would never rear its ugly head. I think that the Minister is missing a grand opportunity if he does not look carefully at this situation.
On the question of the selection committee the Minister is again unnecessarily divesting himself of power. Before he makes his nomination he must consult a committee.
– Which committee?
– The Australian Meat Board Selection Committee. This is not a statutory authority, lt was constituted jointly by the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation on 27th February, 1964, for the purposes of this legislation. Its constitution is such that it can have other people on the committee. I examined the situation, and that is perfectly true. I suppose that the provisions on people joining it are reasonable, but once a body has settled down, if it does not want to let any one else on to the committee it will not do so. Later we will suggest that the Minister should not confine himself to the representatives of this committee but that he pay regard to any other body representing the meat industry that he thinks fit. We want to put back into the hands of the Minister the power that he is handing over. We want to see that, even though he regards the selection committee as a good body, he has power, if he wishes, to consult other organizations that he believes legitimately represent Australian meat producers and exporters, and to say also, for instance, “ Here is a man of outstanding ability who should be on the board “. It is completely beyond me why the Minister shuts his eyes and holds his hands up against a suggestion that does not bind him in any way. I am worried about outside control and about how much this bill is being impeded by the vested interests in the community. The Australian Labour Party agrees wilh the general powers in the bill. Our objective is to put our No. 3 export industry into top gear. We are concerned to see that unnecessary clauses do not go into the law.
We will have an opportunity to talk about the slaughter levy at the committee stage. This matter has already been challenged by Government supporters. It seems to me that one question is concerned with old choppers that are being exported to America being killed in the same freezing works as prime beasts. It seems unfair that the same slaughter levy should apply. There would be a vast difference in the returns from the respective beasts. I should have thought there would have been some better way of determining the situation. I also notice that the rate of levy is to be decided by regulation. I should like the Minister to point out why, after all this time, the industry has not been able to recommend what the slaughter levy should be. I think it is unsatisfactory that the Minister should suggest an amount that will produce another £1,000,000. Obviously that sum will have to bc found by the producers, and this naturally will cause concern. I know that I would be concerned if I were engaged in the industry. I think it would be more satisfactory if the slaughter levy were known by us now.
I have talked longer than I intended, but I summarize by saying that the Australian Labour Party agrees with this bill. It agrees with the wide powers proposed to be given to the board. We believe it should have them. We are not satisfied that the Minister is handling the situation correctly. We think he is largely vacating the field and leaving it to a subordinate board - a practice that I think this Parliament should always resist. We do not think that the board should be reduced in size, except by the removal of the pig meats industry representative. We believe that greater control should be provided and our amendments will seek to achieve that position. We do not believe that the board should be restricted in exporting meat, because we think that under certain conditions the exporting of meat could be the very greatest pinnacle for the board to reach. We visualize that at times it will have to act very quickly.
We do not like the suggestion that the decision of the Commonwealth Government has to go to this committee before it finally comes to a Minister. After all the Minister will have the meat board and his department behind him and will be acting within his own sphere of responsibility. That should be sufficient. This tremendously important matter of exporting meat, finding new outlets for our meat and associated matters should be completely in the hands of the Minister. We believe that the Minister should have the whole field open to him in the selection of personnel for the Australian Meat Board and that selection should not be restricted. We want to put the responsibility completely into his hands.
An amendment will be moved to the effect that the Australian Labour Party believes that the body handling our third largest export should be equipped to serve the nation free from those difficulties to which I have referred, lt should be free from the rivalries of vested interests and the jealousies and competition that must take place between the component bodies of an industry as great as this.
– It is with pleasure that I support the bill and congratulate the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) on bringing it down. I was pleased to hear from Senator Willesee that the Opposition supports the bill although it reserves the right to move some amendments in committee. This bill will serve a great need. Through its provisions, the meat producers and the economy of Australia generally will benefit. Our overseas meat trade has grown dramatically during the past couple of years and has reached a figure we would not have considered possible a short time ago. Much of the increase is due to the growth in our trade with the United States of America. We are very satisfied with that position at present.
I suppose it was only to be expected that the United States cattle men would hold fears that our trade would detract from the prices they have been getting on their home market and that they would suffer financially. We feel, with some justification, that the fears of the American cattle men ace somewhat groundless. In the first place, our trade with the United States has not been in the prime beef that is the main concern of American beef raisers. Our exports have consisted of bone type meat not carrying much fat and suitable for hamburgers and similar trade. This has been a wonderful thing for Australia, not only because of the funds that have come to us but also because it has provided an opportunity for cattle men to cull out many undesirable types from their herds. Those of us who knock about Australia and the pastoral areas have seen a distinct improvement in the average run of cattle.
I remember that in the Senate several years ago an honorable senator opposite who is looking very hard at me now complained that the producers were killing off all their heifers. He cried a tale of woe to the effect that the beef industry was finished. He was told by me and by others that this was not the case because the producers were not being silly enough to get rid of good breeding stock; they were killing off old stock which they were better without. As a result of that, trend, the herds have been built up satisfactorily ever since.
I want to emphasize at the outset that this bill is not solely the product of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann). The provisions in the bill have been sought and approved by those interested in the meat industry. I mean not only the cattle producers but also the meat exporters and many other allied organizations. In this connexion I want to refer to the 28th annual report of the Australian Meat Board for the year ended 30th June, 1963. Among other things, it gives the results of several meetings that were held. One such meeting was held in September, 1962. A further conference of industry representatives was convened by the board in Sydney on 19th December, 1962, to discuss an Australia-wide report of W. D. Scott and Company Proprietary Limited on the potential for meat promotion in Australia and a plan for meat promotion in Australia prepared by the officers of the Australian Meat Board.
The organizations represented at the December meeting were the Australian Meat Board, the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council, the Australian Primary Producers Union, the Australian
Society of Breeders of British Sheep, the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation, the Australian Pig Society, the Meat and Allied Trades Federation and stock selling agents and wholesale meat trade associations. The report states that the meeting discussed the second Scott report and adds -
In presenting the Board plan for promotion, the chairman, Mr. J. L. Shute, pointed out that it was meant only as a basis for discussion, and not as a recommendation from the Board.
The conference discussed various methods of raising finance for any meat promotion scheme, and decided on the following points: -
That the only practical method of collecting funds was by a levy on livestock, collected at point of slaughter.
In collection of any such funds, the incidence of the tax should be borne on an equitable basis by all sections of the industry.
A standing committee be established to investigate problems associated with collection of such a levy, and to recommend how the levy could be spread equitably over each and all sections of the industry.
So there we have it. We have been told that many of these associations and organizations have not had a finger in the pie, but that report shows that they have had a finger in it. The need for this, too, is very evident in view of increased production. We must be thankful for the good seasons we have had throughout Australia generally speaking. I know that in parts of Queensland they are having a bad season now. I was told last night that people had to dispose of their stock in the Rockhampton area where they have had an old man drought for some years. But on the whole, seasons have been good and breeders have been able to increase the numbers of cattle and sheep. At the end of 1963, we had 158,600,000 head of sheep and lambs. Beef cattle had increased to 13,441,000 and we also had more than 5,000,000 head of dairy cattle, a total of nearly 18,500,000 head of cattle. This is very pleasing.
In view of the increased prices and the extended markets for our meat, including mutton, the result has been beneficial to the whole economy. Until the past few years, we looked to the UnitedKingdom to take most of our meat. This was mentioned in the second-reading speech of the Minister and also by Senator Willesee.
Now, in addition to the valuable market in the United States of America, we are opening markets in other countries. Only the other day, a representative from France was looking for meat in Australia. We have had complaints from Hong Kong that we were not selling meat there but apparently the Hong Kong buyers were looking for meat of a type that we did not have and at a price at which we could not supply at that particular time.
I have referred to the fears of American cattle-breeders and I want to emphasize that the Australian producers would be very foolish indeed to fly in the face of providence, as it were, and try to muscle in on the prime beef market in the United States of America. After all, we are getting rid of beef of a type that it suits us to send away. We should stick to that trade and not try to muscle in on the prime beef trade. If we do, we shall encounter far more opposition from the American cattle growers and those allied with them than we arc getting now. I think it has been stated that one encouraging feature of the negotiations that will be conducted on the meat agreement that has been made with America on terms very favorable to Australia, is the fact that if too much objection is raised to the agreement this could interfere with the Kennedy Round. I suppose we shall know more about the Kennedy Round when the Leader of the Country Party and Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) returns next Friday. But that is something which is in our favour at the moment. Another thing in our favour is that our exports to America over the past few months have been considerably less than those made to that country in the corresponding period last year.
– That is due to the cost factor.
– It is due to one or two factors that I do not propose to enlarge upon now. The main point is that our exports are down, which is an indication that we shall certainly be within the limit that was agreed to as our export target for the period which is to commence very shortly. We have been told, too, that the Japanese market has a great potential for Australia, andI agree that it has.
As we have heard so much talk about the two main bodies that will be represented on the new Meat Board - The Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation - 1 think we should examine the composition of those bodies because I am quite convinced that many people do not know the organizations that they represent. First, the The Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council represents the Graziers Association of New South Wales, the Riverina Graziers Association, the West Darling Pastoralists Association, the Graziers Association of Victoria, the Stockowners Association of South Australia, the Pastoralists and Graziers Association of Western Australia, the Queensland United Graziers Association, the Northern Territory Pastoral Lessees Association, the Centralian Pastoralists Association and the Tasmanian Farmers, Stockowners and Orchardists Association.
– Are they all comprised within the one association?
– They are all bodies that constitute the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council. I think there are about ten of them in all. The bodies represented by the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation are the United Farmers and Woolgrowers Association of New South Wales, the Victorian Wheat and Woolgrowers Association, the Farmers Union of Western Australia, the South Australian Wheat and Woolgrowers Association and the Selectors Association of Queensland. So, on those two organizations we have represented a number of bodies spread throughout the length and breadth of Australia. Obviously they do not represent only a small section of the community. I know that criticism has been voiced at the exclusion of the Australian Primary Producers Union, but the Minister has given reasons for that. He, personally, is not adamant that this body should be excluded. In fact, he is on record as saying that he hopes to see it represented on the Australian Wool Board. I point out. too, that provision is made for other bodies to be included on the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee. If the Australian Primary Producers Union is not included then, in my opinion, it will not be because of any objection raised by the Minister himself. I think it is only a question of the two main bodies to which I have referred conferring with the A.P.P.U. and deciding upon what representation, if any, this organization should be given.
One important thing to be considered is the fact that the main bulk of our export beef comes from a line north and west of Brisbane.
– The new Brisbane line.
– That is true, but the important point is that it is an area in which the two main bodies to which I have referred are represented and, in which, so far as my knowledge goes, the A.P.P.U. is not represented. In any case, I do not intend to enter into a debate on whether the A.P.P.U. should be represented on this organization. The fact is that provision is made for it to be included and it is now only a matter of it conferring with the two main bodies.
We have been told that it is unfair that the producer of a beast bringing from £50 to £60 should pay a levy of 5s. and that the seller of a dairy cow which brings from £15 to £20 should also be required to pay 5s. provided that in both cases the beasts are over 200 lb. in weight. We have to be realistic about this. First of all, I point out that one does not breed dairy cows for beef. One breeds them for the specific purpose of dairy production. If a dairy farmer has been running a dairy cow for ten or fifteen years he has been obtaining a return from her over those years and, when she is no longer a good dairy beast he now has the opportunity to obtain some return from her as a beef cow. He did not have as great an opportunity of doing this some few years ago. One looks to a dairy cow for a return from her as a dairy beast; one does not judge her on her beef value. Therefore, I think it only reasonable that the owners of dairy cattle should also be expected to pay the 5s.
Reference has been made to the levy of 6d. a head on sheep and lambs. As Senator Willesee has stated, the total revenue that will be derived from the levy of 5s. a head on a beast weighing 200 lb. and 6d. a head on sheep, will be £1,700,000. If one compares that figure with the amounts raised by way of meat export charge and beef research levy one finds that last year the revenue derived from the beef export charge was £219,000 and that from the beef research levy £406,000.
T should like to make another point. It is stated quite clearly that the board will bc permitted to use the funds it collects for purposes other than research to undertake additional measures to develop overseas markets for Australian meat. Some have expressed fears about what the board might do if given those powers. My understanding of the position is that if the board sees what it believes to be a potential market overseas and wishes to develop it. and the Australian exporters engaged in the trade do not consider it would be a sound financial proposition for them to export meat to that market in the ordinary way, then the board can use some of the funds collected and not used for research in an endeavour to establish that market, ls it suggested that the board will spend money willy-nilly, right and left? After all, it has to be remembered that members of these bodies are responsible men, men who have been running businesses of their own. They are not like heads of departments who have ben spending somebody else’s money all their lives and who would find spending their own money a very different proposition. These are men who arc accustomed to spending their own money for which they have had to work hard over the years, and I think we can trust them to sec that the money is not wasted. Another important point, too, is that the Minister will be keeping an eye on them.
I was very interested to hear Senator Willesee argue that the Minister is having too much power taken away from him. I have heard criticism the other way; I have heard it argued that the Minister already has too much power, and when we have criticism from both directions it is a fair indication that the proposal is fairly evenly balanced. I have heard some talk about the setting up of the consultative committee. I think it is a good idea. After all, this consultative committee will not have the final say. It will merely report to the board and the board will then decide whether to accept or reject the report I see nothing wrong with that proposal.
I should like to direct attention to another point. As it has been constituted up to the present time, the Australian Meat Board has had power, subject to the direction of the Minister, to purchase and sell meat on behalf of the Commonwealth. I have not heard of any abuse of this provision, and I do not think that anybody else has. 1 do not expect to hear of any in the future. I omitted to mention earlier that the bill had the blessing of meat producers and meat exporters, lt has the blessing also of the Australian Agricultural Council. The Minister sought power for the Commonwealth to enter to a greater extent upon research and matters of that nature, but the Australian Agricultural Council overruled him and decided that at this stage those matters should be left to the States. That is one reason why we have not the power that so many honorable senators would like us to have.
At present the Australian Meat Board consists of twelve members. The proposal is that membership be reduced to nine. Senator Willesee suggested that various additional bodies should have representation on the board. I do not know whether he meant that every one of those bodies should have representation. If they had, we would have a very unwieldy board. I think it is a good idea to reduce membership from twelve to nine. The board will consist of a chairman, five meat producer representatives, two meat exporter representatives, and one representative of the Commonwealth. That is fair enough. I am pleased that the meat producers who, after all, will pay for this, will have the greatest representation. Meat exporters have expressed satisfaction with the representation proposed for them.
A new feature is that the chairman will be appointed by the Minister after consultation with the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee. The five producer representatives will be appointed by the Minister from a panel submitted by the selection committee, and the two exporter representatives will be appointed by the Minister from a panel submitted by the Australian Meat Exporters Federal Council. It will be left to the organizations to pick the best men that they have available. From these the Minister will make a choice.
Surely that is democratic enough for any one. It should get good results.
The selection committee will consist of nine members - four representatives of the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council, four representatives of the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation, and the chairman of the Australian Meat Board. Its main function will be the nomination of meat producer representatives for appointment to the Australian Meat Board. There is provision in the constitution of the selection committee for the admission of new member organizations. Senator Willesee suggested that public utilities should be represented. The Minister has given the reason for their non-representation. 1 do not agree that the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation should have representation. If it were equitable for organizations of dairy farmers to be represented, next we would have representation of the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council, the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation and the Australian Meat Exporters Federal Council on the Australian Dairy Produce Board. If it is sauce for the goose, it is sauce for the gander. The Minister was wise to confine representation to the terms of the bill, leaving room for other bodies to come in.
It has been said that the price of meat to the American producer has fallen. As I understand the position, the price fall has been in prime beef, but not in the types of meat that we have been selling to America. It may not be generally known that the Australian Meat Board recently held two conferences of representatives of the meat industry and allied organizations to discuss industrial problems and prospects. These conferences were convened on 27th August, 1962, and 25th February, 1963. Representatives of unions and the other organizations that were mentioned earlier discussed problems of the industry, including employment. That is all to the good. I imagine that such conferences will continue to be held. At least, I hope so. One of the matters considered was the wastefulness of dual meat inspections. It was decided to ask the Australian Meat Board to urge upon the Minister the need for single inspection services and to make a similar approach to the State Ministers. At abattoirs I have seen in action State inspec tors and inspectors working for the Commonwealth. It is too silly for words. The State boy goes along, cutting off a little piece of meat about the size of a fingernail. The Commonwealth inspector may pass that carcass and cut a piece off one a little further on, which will be passed by the State inspector. Both may even snick a piece off the same carcass. The opinion of persons conducting abattoirs is that dual inspections are ridiculous. I sincerely hope that the recommendation from the conference I have mentioned will be given effect.
Only a few weeks ago I mentioned the great cost to which some abattoirs had been put to retain the right to export meat to America. Very stringent regulations have been laid down. This is quite a good thing, but considerable re-adjustments in the abattoirs concerned have, in many instances, cost many thousands of pounds. One condition insisted upon is the inspection of beef, before killing, by a veterinary officer. In New South Wales, for instance, we simply have not enough veterinary officers to conduct these inspections. I am told that for this purpose the American definition of “ veterinary officer “ is very different from ours. I do not know how we shall get over this. The abattoirs do not like the present arrangement, but if they are to retain the American trade they have to do these things. They are hopping into the job and getting it done.
– It will be best in the long run.
– I agree that it will be in the long run. It means greater cleanliness at this stage. I think some one referred to the condition of meat sent overseas. The meat - particularly packaged, boned meat - that I have seen in abattoirs has been very creditable indeed, and hygiene in the abattoirs is of a very high standard. We need not interfere on that score. It is with great pleasure that I support the bill.
.- Mr. President, the Senate at the present time is discussing a bill the purpose of which is to give effect to industry proposals for a plan of meat market development and diversification, and to reconstitute the membership of the Australian Meat Board. One has only to examine the bill in a cursory manner to appreciate that considerable work has been done by the Department of Primary Industry and the associations concerned with the meat industry in Australia. One fully appreciates that it is not possible to bring a bill of this nature before the Parliament without having had many discussions with all the organizations within the industry, such as the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. There have been discussions between the associations themselves. The product of all the discussions and deliberations and the horse-selling activities which, no doubt, have been carried out is the bill that we have before us.
Mr. President, I always look at legislation relating to primary producers as something that they have conceived themselves. 1 have some knowledge of the sugar industry in Queensland. I know that the legislation which is passed in the Queensland Parliament is .always the result of negotiations by the associations with each other and with the Queensland Government. It would not be possible to have a bill of this nature before the Parliament that was conceived by the Department of Primary Industry itself. It would be impossible for that department to frame a bill such as the one we have before us, and to say to the organizations engaged in meat production in Australia, “ There is the bill; you may take it or leave it”. The purpose of the bill is to develop our meat market. If an industry is producing marketable goods, it must do its utmost to develop the market for those goods. The market is the main thing associated with any industry engaged in producing a saleable commodity. The development of the meat market -is something that will be left to the Meat Board in the future. It cannot be left entirely to the Department of Primary Industry. An attempt to develop or improve a market for meat or any other commodity should be left, as far as possible, to the industry concerned. The Meat Board, having full knowledge of the industry, will know what is best for the industry. I have little to say at this juncture concerning the reconstitution of the membership of the Australian Meat Board. I may have a word or two to say about that matter when the bill is being considered in committee.
I am speaking as a Queensland senator. I regard the meat industry as an important one for Queensland. There are in that State three important seasonal industries. I refer to the wool, sugar and meat industries. It is very difficult to decide which is the most important so far as Queensland is concerned. I am a Labour representative in this Senate. I always say that the employment aspect concerns me perhaps as much as any other. I weigh the employment potential of an industry when I am considering its worth to a State and to the people within that State. There are huge meat works in Brisbane. There are, I think, three meat works, excluding the abattoirs. There are others in the neighbourhood of Brisbane. These meat works undoubtedly give employment to thousands of men who receive wages which, whilst they are perhaps not all that the employees desire, are paid regularly. Moving out of Brisbane, one comes to many cities where there are large meat export works. There are such works at Rockhampton. I think they are conducted by the Vestey interests and, over a period of years, they have operated for approximately eight or nine months of each year, providing employment for many people in Rockhampton, including young persons and, on occasions, females. Rockhampton does not possess many important industries. The meat industry, as one of the most important industries in the city, gives employment to many people in Rockhampton. It provides the opportunity for workers to have their own homes there, to bring up their children, and to have them educated there. Those are some of the benefits which flow from the meat industry in Rockhampton.
There are two major meat exporting industries in Townsville which have been operating for many years. They give employment to many Townsville people. They serve the big cattle-producing area in Queensland. Moving on to Cairns, we find in that city important meat export works which draw cattle from Cape York and out towards the gulf country. The works started in a small way a few years ago and more or less pioneered exports to the United States of America. They have carried on successfully ever since. There are other meat works in Queensland such as those at Merinda, outside Bowen, and Maryborough. Unfortunately, big meat works which operated for many years at Gladstone closed down some time towards the end of last year. This threw many men out of employment. The men of Gladstone had become so accustomed to gaining employment at the meat works every year that they did not engage in any other class of work. They were greatly inconvenienced when the meat works closed. It is difficult for a man who has been working as a skilled employee in a meat works to go out on a railway line, for instance, and do ordinary labouring work. lt is not easy for him to adapt himself to work of that kind. The closing of the meat works caused chaos in the commercial life of the town of Gladstone. The workers were paid by the meat works regularly and there was an inflow into the town of a great deal of money each week or each fortnight. The business people of Gladstone have suffered a great deal since the meat works closed. It may be stated that another company has purchased the meat works and proposes to manufacture alumina there at some time in the future. I have dealt with meat works from the aspect of employment. Whilst 1 could discuss that particular aspect for quite some time, there are other matters with which I wish to deal.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– If the meat industry in Australia is to remain on a sound foundation it is most essential that overseas markets be obtained for our surplus meat products. It is well known that Australia cannot consume all the meat that it produces. Therefore, to keep the industry in a profitable condition it is essential that Australia look to those parts of the world where it is possible to establish a market.
Some time ago an agreement was made between Australia and the United States of America. Apparently that agreement has operated successfully for a long time but now we are receiving disquieting news about it. There is a threat that America might reduce its intake of meat, lt may have sound reasons for that endeavour but, from what I have been told, if America does this she will break a solemn agreement between herself and Australia. That is only one of the things that confronts the meat market at present. There was a period when the United Kingdom was one of our best meat customers but now, because of conditions within her own boundaries, it is possible that she will be more selective about the countries with which she trades. Australia is not particularly well-favoured at present. A ray of hope exists, of course, that Australia will be able to enlarge its market with Japan. There is also a possibility that Australia may be able to send supplies of beef to France. Only recently a French delegation came here to look at our beef produce industry. The delegates decided to order a comparatively small sample of beef to be delivered in France before 30th June. The sample comprised only 2,000 tons, but it may nevertheless represent a lever for our entry into the French market.
At present overseas markets are not bright. Perhaps there is no cause for despondency but the cattle grower likes to think that his overseas market is secure. He likes to be able to look ahead and “plan his industry. Associated with the beef production industry are other industries such as the cattle breeding industry. For these industries to prosper there must be a ready sale for Australian meat abroad. If the bill we are considering achieves this, and is able to facilitate the easy sale of Australian surplus meat on overseas markets, it will achieve something worth while.
From the point of view of Queensland it is most important that an overseas market be found for our beef. I mention this because of the number of beef cattle in that State. The total number of cattle in Queensland at present is 7,200,000 head, of which 6,000,000 are beef cattle. The total number of cattle within New South Wales is 4,500,000 head comprising 3,300,000 head of beef cattle. New South Wales has only half the number of beef cattle that Queensland has. Victoria has 3,200,000 head of cattle of which 1,300,000 are beef cattle. South Australia has 679,000 head of cattle of which 398,000 are beef cattle. Western Australia has only 1,200,000 cattle altogether, and Tasmania has 500,000 head of cattle. The Northern Territory has 1,000,000 head. Strange to say, 50 or 60 years ago the Northern Territory had 1,000,000 head of cattle so apparently that Territory cannot improve its cattle numbers.
If it is desired to make the meat industry in Australia a flourishing industry, and one in which producers can safely look ahead and prepare for the future, we must be able to secure, if possible, other markets. We must enlarge the sales that we have enjoyed in the past. The proposals contained in the bill have been advanced by certain organizations which have functioned in Australia for a number of years. One is the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council which embraces numerous associations. Then there is the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation, the Australian Agricultural Council and the Australian Meat Exporters Federal Council. These bodies have given their imprimatur to the Commonwealth Government to go ahead with this legislation.
When the legislation is passed it will be necessary for producers to pay levies that will be imposed. 1 have been looking at the amounts that have been collected from graziers in the form of levies during the last two years. I find that in 1962-63. £218,968 was collected by the Meat Export Fund. In 1961-62 £143,115 was collected by that fund. Another levy which graziers have had to pay has been the cattle slaughter levy. The legislation under which that levy is collected passed through this Senate two or three years ago. Last year graziers paid a levy amounting to £406,477. Another charge graziers have had to meet is a levy under the Meat Export (Additional Charge) Act. In respect of that levy graziers paid £160,224 last year.
Let us look at the way in which the money was expended. I have not the slightest doubt that the Australian Meat Board, or the authority charged with the administration of the funds, saw that the money was spent wisely. The expenditure of the Meat Export Fund amounted to £215,625. Expenditure involved in the Meat Agreement (Deficiency Payments) Fund amounted to £52,812, and in the Cattle and Beef Research Fund the expenditure was a little over £500,000. If the associations representing meat producers in Australia are prepared to pay these levies they must receive some benefit as a result. I cannot conceive any producer paying a levy under any legislation unless he knows that he will get somethink worthwhile for that payment. If we have the funds I have just mentioned operating in the interests of the industry, and if, in the future, we have this newly constituted Australian Meat Board seeking markets, there is hope indeed for the meat industry in this country.
I have no quarrel with the associations - which have more or less agreed to the levies that are to be imposed upon them, because according to the legislation the producers will be required to pay the levies at a time when it will be most difficult to pass the equivalent cost on to the consuming public. That being so, we have no objection to this bill being passed. I understand that the total sum that will be collected in levies when the bill becomes law is £1,700,000 and, again, we do not dispute that proposal. We feel that it is essential, where a body of producers in an association functions like a trade union, that those concerned know exactly what is required of them. They are more or less in charge of the industry and must be able to plan ahead.
I want to see the meat industry in Australia prosper. I want to see the beef industry, in particular, reach a very prosperous level because, if that is achieved, there are millions of acres of land in Queensland awaiting development. That land could be used to raise cattle. As an example, there is the brigalow scrub land, which could be converted into beef producing country. Those are the things we think of when dealing with this legislation. At present, the Gatt conference is being held in Geneva. We know that it is quite possible for exports of beef and other meats to be discussed there. I understand that Gatt conferences are conducted in such a manner that the various countries concerned - 1 believe they exceed 100 in number - may take their proposals there. At that conference the various countries compare their respective proposals for the exchange of commodities. It is conceivable that, as the result of the present Gatt conference, we will be able to improve our meat markets.
.- Like Senator Benn I, as a Queensland senator, am deeply interested in this bill, especially as it applies to the production of beef, and it is to that aspect of the legislation that I proposed to address myself to-night. I suppose that all honorable senators in this chamber know that for at least 25 years, and probably longer. Queensland has exported more than 50 per cent, of the beef which has gone overseas from Australia. That makes this legislation very important from our point of view. The beef export industry is a huge income earner for Australia and it creates a great deal of employment. For many years it has been one of the stable industries of the Commonwealth and has had tremendous impact on our national economy. I believe, too, that it has been a very powerful factor in bringing development to a large part of the colony. I believe, even now, that it will be one of the greatest factors in settling the northern part of Australia, which is comparatively unknown. I look forward to having opportunity during the committee stage to take part in the debate on many vital issues and propositions contained in this bill. But at this point of time I would like to do as Senator Benn and other honorable senators have done and try to review the factors which will influence future beef sales and their potential for greater development within this country.
Beef production, like every other primary industry, has experienced fluctuating fortunes. We all know that some years ago there was a great degree of pessimism about the future of the industry. This view has now been reversed and I believe the shortterm outlook reflects to a very great extent the impact of the American demand for this type of beef over the last few years. Although there is very strong agitation in America for a reduction of our import quota and objection to the importation of this type of beef into that country, 1 think all the information we can get indicates that there is no need for worry on the part of Australia. I was very interested in an article which appeared a couple of weeks ago in the Brisbane “ Courier-Mail “. It contained a report of a Washington lobbyist for the United States cattle interests, who is reported as confessing that while talk of keeping Australian beef out of the United States is useful to Congressmen from cattle states, no one really believes that anything will come of it. There is a lot more in the article which I think gives a deal of background support for the contention to which I have just referred. When one looks at that and at all the other aspects of the industry I think one is quite justified in being optimistic about its future. I would like to refer to other extracts which I have from the “ Courier-Mail “. I have not any shares in that paper, by the way, but I get a great deal of my information from it. On 9th March this year there appeared in the “ Courier-Mail “ an article headed “Big European Demand for Meat “. It read as follows: -
Meat industry officials say that Queensland will not be able to make the most of a big European demand for meat.
I think that sets out the situation at the present time. In this article there are menioned other aspects of the meat industry which are very worrying and I will refer to them in some detail a little later on. This article also reminds us, although I think we already know it, that the present world demand for beef is largely brought about by the heavy drop in beef production in the Argentine and, as Senator Benn said a little while ago, French officials were in Queensland only last month, looking at our beef. Until last year France, of course, was an exporter of meat but has now become an importer. France is not the only European country which is interested in the importation of our beef. Italy has become quite a large buyer and, again, one reads in various journals that Britain is again becoming a strong buyer of Australian meat, notwithstanding the fact that, as I shall show later, the meat that we supply to the British market is not of the most satisfactory quality. At page 31 of the report of the Australian Meat Board there is a very interesting article about the possibility of the sale of meat to Japan. I think we are inclined to misjudge this market a little bit. I hope it will be as good as some people believe it will be. We have many overseas customers for meat. I will not refer to them all because they are set out at page 9 of the Meat Board’s report which, incidently, is an extremely interesting document for any one interested in this subject.
All of these factors combined lead me and, I think, other people, to believe that the short-term future for the beef industry is very good. Many analyses have been made of the long-term future of the beef industry and these also are optimistic. Many authorities expect - and I think it is generally believed - that from 1970 onwards there will be a grave world shortage of highquality beef. Whilst I cannot cite many of these authorities to-night, I mention, that last week Dr. Gibbs, the honorable member for Bowman in another place, quoted a number of them. It is extremely interesting to assess their views. I believe that their findings arc correct. It is much easier to forecast future requirements than to forecast future production. Most people who are experienced in this field are able to do the former easily, but there are many factors that contribute to a reduction in production. We know only too well that the Argentine has recently suffered heavily in this regard. 1 know, too, that there has been a deal of worry in Europe during the last year or two about the intrusion of foot and mouth disease into European countries. No one hopes that this happens because it would further aggravate the possibility of a long-term shortage. The Australian Government has done a splendid job in successfully, so far, keeping foot and mouth disease out of Australia. If it failed in this, the result would be one of the greatest tragedies for this country.
I am extremely optimistic about the future opportunities in this industry, and I think they will become better as the years pass. We must also analyse the possibility of developing the industry. We must recognize that we have a great responsibility, because if we have the potential to meet the world demand ten to fifteen years hence we will be failing in our duty to other nations if we do not do all we can to try to ensure that we will meet the demand when it arises.
Several honorable senators have spoken about the important principles of the bill. I think every speaker who preceded me has spoken of the importance of the powers and functions of the board and of the selection committee. I suppose they will be debated by most speakers during the discussion on this measure. Irrespective of what the bill may contain, we will succeed or fail in achieving its objectives in accordance with the capacity of those who are members of the board. So I should like to devote a few moments to discussing the principles of the bill. The first of its objectives deals mainly with export sales. The second and fourth objectives deal with sales and consumption in Australia, and the third deals with encouragement of production. Where the word “ production “ is used in the text of this bill I think it would be more correct to use the word “ processing “ because that, in fact, is what I think is meant.
I should like to examine where Australia stands as a beef producer. I referred to the 1963 “Year Book” at page 1065 to secure this information. It is there shown that in cattle population Australia ranks eleventh in the world, although I understand that if a qualitative test were applied Australia would probably slightly improve her position on that scale. We must compare our potential for increasing beef production with the potential of other countries. There is no reason to doubt that there is no country which has a greater future potential than Australia. However, I do not think that a matter such as this should be left without our having a great deal more knowledge and information in this regard. This subject raises the need for a deal of research into the question of whether, in fact, we have the potential that I claim we have.
Let us examine the encouragement of production. I hope that what is meant by that particular phrase in the bill is that it is intended to help both the production and processing sections of the industry to become as efficient as possible. I should like to see that as the real meaning, because unless breeding and transport to markets, as well as the actual processing of the beasts after they reach the meatworks, are much more efficient than they are to-day I doubt whether we are going to produce the quality beef necessary for us to extend our sales as much as we hope.
A short time ago I quoted from the “Courier-Mail” of 9th March. I have one or two more quotations on points that possibly give the key to the future of meat production in Australia - at least in Queensland. The first states that meat industry officials and experts say that the State meatworks are operating at less than 60 per cent, of their efficiency to-day. That is a rather shocking indictment. It was referred to, incidentally, by a speaker from the other side when I interjected that the cost of improving meatworks, whilst it might be high, would be worth while because by the introduction of what is termed the can-pack system much of the cost can be saved in processing.
Another press report suggests that cattle arc not moving in sufficient numbers at the present time, lt says that some meatworks in northern Queensland have still to open for the export season and it will be April or May before the first big shipments leave for Europe, and that the manager of one of the big meatworks said that Australian meat production for January and February was 10,000 tons down on the figure for the same period last year.
These are matters that trouble me greatly. 1 think 1 know why, to a large extent, these factors exist to-day. The extracts I have paraphrased are not a criticism of the men who are engaging in the beef industry and who have to overcome a great number of problems to be successful, but they are very critical - and 1 think we should all be very critical - of the natural conditions that operate to-day. They are conditions which by their very nature reduce the quality and quantity of our beef but they could be overcome provided we really studied them and understood them. I hope this board will see fit at some future stage to make recommendations for their improvement. If they do that, I believe governments to-day are so interested in the development of the industry that they will take advantage of the recommendations and take steps to overcome the problems to which I have referred.
I suppose that superficially we might say that we are not doing too badly in this export beef industry. For the last five years for which records are available, we exported an average quantity of 200,000 tons a year. I am taking these figures from the report of the Australian Meat Board and not from the Commonwealth “ Year Book “. In the last year which is recorded, exports totalled 250,000 tons compared with the average for the previous five years of slightly less than 135,000 tons. So there has been a very good improvement in our total exports. But I repeat that we must not be too complacent about this matter. We have achieved this result because of the fortuitous circumstance of the need in the United States of America for poorer quality hamburger-type of beef.
We have not achieved this result because we are holding or gaining good quality export markets. Indeed, if we study the figures we must be somewhat alarmed to discover that in the last two years for which records are available - from 1961 to 1963 - our exports to Great Britain dropped from 35,000 tons to 25,500 tons. This is alarming because it must be a guide to our staple market for the future - the quality market.
– Was that due to the lack of markets or lack of meat?
– I would elaborate by saying I believe that the drop for those two years occurred because we were not shipping to the British consumers the type of beef they want nor were we shipping it with the regularity that they required. In fact, practically every 1 lb. weight of Australian beef that goes to Great Britain - this applies to Queensland beef at all events and probably to Australian beef generally - never finds its way onto the consumer market - the housewives market; it is used for institutional purposes and practically nothing else. That is because it is frozen beef and not chilled beef. Until we can change the whole character of the industry so that we are not dependent on fortuitous circumstances and can produce much higher qualify beef to be placed on the market as chilled beef and ship it every week of every month of every year, we are not really going to be on a sound export basis in my view.
I know that a great deal of this beef comes out of the Northern Territory into Queensland for processing, but there arc very great difficulties in bringing this meat into the meatworks. Hundreds of miles have to be travelled by these beasts and they can be brought in only during a very limited period of the year. I think it is correct to say broadly that for two-thirds of the year we are not bringing out from our traditional breeding areas any cattle at all. We know the result. We have meatworks operating for five, six, seven and occasionally eight months of the year, and then they close down. We have no further beef to put on the overseas markets for several months. It does not matter what you are selling; if you produce for a market and sell out in half a year and have no more to offer for six months, you quickly lose the demand for your product. That is what is happening in connexion with our beef.
I am certain there is an answer to this problem. Some four or five years ago I spoke frequently on means of overcoming it, If any honorable senators care to find out the answer for themselves, there are three reports which have been prepared by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and they are most illuminating on this problem. 1 and some of my colleagues have advocated for some four or five years that there should be quite a change in the whole of our beef industry up to the meatworks stage. The change I have advocated is simply this: We should use the hundreds of thousands of acres along the coastal areas of Australia including Queensland and other places. There is an enormous area of land in the heavy rainfall tropical belt lying idle. This land is capable of growing to absolute perfection the legumes which have been developed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. In these areas, it is possible to run at least one head of cattle to the acre. That is the norm; it certainly is not the minimum. Briefly, what I have always advocated - and advocate even more strongly to-day - is that a large tract of our coastal areas where this could be done should be converted into fattening areas - for coastal fattening, as one might say.
– What are the economics of the proposal? What would it cost an acre to run a beast?
– The cost varies, but it is being done by quite a number of people. One example is the King ranch at Tully. .1 have seen large areas where it is being done. Admittedly, it costs a fair amount of money in the initial stages, but the fact of the matter is that it can repay over and over again the cost of initial preparation. This I know from pretty close experience. If we could convert these coastal areas from their present idleness to continuous beef fattening, over the years we would have sufficient cattle to feed into our meatworks, not for five, six or seven months of the year but for twelve months of the year. We would thus overcome one of the basic problems in Queensland - the seasonal type of employment associated with meat processing. That would bc a wonderful thing for the Queensland workers, lt would also be wonderful for o’ur overseas markets.
Here, basically, in my view is the way in which we can change the character of the industry, produce quality beef and increase our production to a very high figure. I am not going to say, off the cuff, what the increase would be because I do not think anybody could do that, but it would be a staggering quantity. We would then be in a position to take advantage of the future demands in this industry, and Queensland and other parts of Australia would benefit enormously from it. Here, I think, is the responsibility that must lie at the door of this newly constituted board. I admit that to a great degree this is research, but it is research that will repay us over and over again.
When I was speaking on the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply I spoke of the need for facility subsidies. I believe that these would contribute largely towards improving the economy of this industry, and irrespective of what anybody else may say I repeat that the cattle industry is the hope of the future for those very far northern areas where we are to-day seeking development. Until we remove some of the problems that exist there we will not get the money in those areas that we need to develop them.
– Are you referring now to bringing store cattle in from the hinterland?
– Yes. Briefly, my proposal is to bring in forward stores and younger cattle from the outer areas some hundreds of miles away and use them as a reservoir. There are a few months of the year when fats can be brought in over these long distances, but there are many months when they cannot. The proposal is to bring in stores from the breeding areas and feed them in the fattening areas so that they may act as a reservoir to keep the meat works going all the time.
As I have only a minute or so to go I must omit some of the things I wanted to mention. I can only say again that, having said what I did during the debate on the motion for the adoption of the AddressinReply I was staggered when dozens of people, many of them associated with banking business and all the rest of it, said to me, “That is the answer to the development of northern Australia. Not only will you get development in northern Australia, but also you will change the whole economy of the beef industry, and in doing so you will be ready to take advantage of the extended markets as they develop.”
.- This bill is designed to regulate certain conditions existing in the Australian meat industry. Because of its implications, and because of the importance of the meat industry to the Australian economy, it is a bill which is of very great interest not only to the members of the Senate but also to the people of Australia generally. As the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) said in his second-reading speech, the purpose of the bill is to give effect to proposals submitted by certain sections of the industry for a plan of meat market development and diversification. Another of its purposes is to reconstitute the membership of the Australian Meat Board.
The classes of meat covered by the legislation are beef and veal, and mutton and lamb. We have been told that the pig producers’ organizations do not wish at this stage to be included in an integrated scheme for the meat industry. Therefore, when, in the course of this debate, I make reference to the meat industry, I shall be referring to beef and veal, and to mutton and lamb.
First, let me refer to the great beef and veal industry of this nation. Australia has a total cattle population of some 18,500,000 head, and it is very interesting to compare returns between 1958 and 1962. I take those years deliberately because from a perusal of the official Year Book one will see that in 1958 the production of beef and veal in this country amounted exactly to the production of beef and veal in 1962, namely 791,000 tons. Despite the fact that, according to statistics. the production of beef and veal in 1958 and 1962 was 791,000 tons, there has been a drop in the Australian home market consumption of some 32 lb. per head of population. I know that figures are wearying but, for the purpose of illustrating my argument, I repeat that in 1958 and 1962 the production of beef and veal in Australia amounted to 791,000 tons. Tn 1958, we exported 155,000 of that 791,000 tons. In 1962, we exported 299,000 tons which was an increase of nearly 100 per cent, in our export of beef and veal over four years.
– It would have been more if all of it had been exported with the bone in.
– That is so, but, taking these figures as they are, there was an increase of nearly 100 per cent, in our export of beef and veal. Our production of canning meats amounted to 88,000 tons in 1958 and only 46,000 tons in 1962. In other words, over the fouryear period, there was a drop of some 42,000 tons in our canning meat production. In 1958, when our beef and veal production amounted to 79,000 tons, the total consumption of beef and veal per head of population was 125 lb. In .1962, with the same level of production, the consumption per head in Australia was only 92.9 lb.
– What was the population increase over that period?
– I am coming to that. The population increase over that period was about 1,000.000. In other words, as the export of meat, to the United States market particularly, has increased, and as the price of meat likewise has increased, so has the consumption of beef and veal on the Australian home market decreased substantially despite an increase of 1,000,000 in the population during that time.
The Minister referred, in his secondreading speech, to the potential of the Japanese market. He also said that, in accordance with the boards present powers, it will be necessary to undertake additional meat promotion in Australia and overseas.
During the course of this debate, most honorable senators have engaged their attention on the overseas market. I wish to refer in the first instance to the home consumption market because, as the Minister has said - I believe quite properly - the home market is the sheet-anchor of the Australian meat industry. Only a couple of weeks ago, in an article in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, the chairman of the Australian Meat Board was reported as having said, amongst other things, that we must restore confidence in the Australian market.
I for one, agree with the Minister’s statement and also with the statement made by the chairman of the Meat Board that, having regard to the drop in consumption per head of population in Australia, it is necessary to restore confidence in the Australian market.
I suggest that the best ways of restoring confidence in the Australian market are by lowering the home consumption price, by getting more efficiency in the industry, and by conducting more effective promotion. Meat, being such an essential commodity to the Australian wage and salary earner, to date has needed very little promotion, it any at all. Where promotion has been tried, it has been found to be successful. Not long ago, I was talking to a person connected with the meat industry who told me that in the Sydney suburb of Crows Nest a rundown butcher shop had been purchased by another retail butcher who engaged in effective promotion. The meat had been made more attractive to the housewives who patronized the shop, the premises had been dressed in an hygienic manner, and the turnover had increased quite considerably. This is an aspect upon which the meat industry must concentrate. Meat is a staple part of the diet of the ordinary Australian, and it is fair to say that Australians are very heavy consumers of meat.
In recent years the meat industry on the home market has been facing stiffer competition from the fishing and poultry industries. Importations of poultry have had to be made to meet the demand. Between 1958 and 1962, when in Australia the meat consumption per capita dropped by about 32 lb., there was no decrease in the consumption of fish and poultry. Meat must be made more attractive to the Australian housewife who seeks the best cuts at the lowest possible price. It has been estimated that within 30 years the Australian population will have doubled. One can see the importance of conducting promotion and achieving greater efficiency to meet this potential demand.
I therefore agree with the statement of the chairman of the Australian Meat Board that we must restore confidence in the Australian meat market. I suggest that the industry can start by improving its methods of operation, by achieving greater efficiency, and by concentrating on promotional activities. After all is said and done, retail butchers conduct their business, generally speaking, on, the basis of cash on delivery or cash over the counter. I should imagine that very few bad debts would be involved. Bearing in mind that meat is an essential to the Australian consumer and to the Australian way of life, I suggest that butchers particularly retail butchers, should seriously consider giving the housewives a better deal in the presentation of their products, so that the Australian housewife may be able to say to her neighbour or to her family, “ At least we are getting excellent meat.” To the average wage and salary earner, who receives about £23 a week, £3 or £4 a week is a substantial amount to pay for meat for himself, his wife and his family, and he is entitled to value for I) is money.
One of the principal reasons for the fairly considerable drop in the per capita consumption of beef is the price prevailing on the local scene. Between 1958 and 1962 the consumption of mutton increased by 4.5 lb. a head and the consumption of lamb by 14.6 lb. a head. Whereas the production of beef and veal was the same in 1962 as in 1958, there was an increase in the production of mutton and lamb over that period from 270,000 tons to 368,000 tons. I suggest that the home market’ presents a challenge to meat producers, to retail butchers and to the Australian Meat Board. I hope that all of those persons involved in the industry appreciate the growing size and the vast potential of the home market.
Most honorable senators who have taken part in this debate have addressed their remarks to the export market scene. I wish to make only one or two observations on this subject. In 1962 chilled beef exports amounted to 1,623,000 lb., and were valued at about’ £140,000. Frozen beef exports amounted to 443,000,000 lb., valued at £57,946.000. In recent years there has been a substantial increase in exports of boneless beef - as, I think, Senator Hannaford pointed out earlier by way of interjection - principally because of the development of a market in boneless beef in the United States of America. Exports of frozen mutton and lamb dropped from about 165,842,000 lb. in 1958 to 146,512,000 lb. in 1962, which represented a drop in value of about £4,000,000. Here, too, is a challenge that the industry must meet.
I have referred to the need for greater efficiency and promotion.I now come to the methods involved in slaughtering. Senator Willesee, when he opened this debate on behalf of the Opposition, said something about the methods of purchase. Something was said of the auction system and the manner in which an auction can be tied up between buyer and buyer. I will leave those subjects to others who are more competent than I to speak on them. I wish to deal principally with the methods of slaughtering in Australia.
I have visited a considerable number of abattoirs not only in my home State of New South Wales but also in the State of Queensland. I think it is fair to say that most abattoirs use old, slow and arduous methods of solo slaughtering. After the beast is knocked by the knocker the slaughterer takes it and cuts it up. The work is heavy and, to say the least, obnoxious. Still, that is the system which is employed in most slaughter houses throughout Australia. In this regard, I suggest that something will have to be done to effect a large improvement. I am not the only one who suggests that this will have to be done. Dr. Pals, the chief of the Meat Inspection Division of the United States Department of Agriculture, also believes that something along those lines is necessary. On 10th September of last year, after I had placed a question on the notice-paper, the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) informed the Parliament that Dr. Pals had visited Australia in May of last year. During his visit to this country, he had inspected a few - and I emphasize the words “ a few “ - of the abattoirs in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. As a result of these inspections, Dr. Pals made certain recommendations to the authorities. One of the recommendations was that meat export establishments in Australia preparing meat for the American market should comply with the conditions prescribed by regulation for American meat works which are under federal inspection. Dr. Pals said that those conditions mainly cover veterinary ante-mortem and postmortem supervision and the provision of facilities in meat works to enable this to be done efficiently. He also said that there should be proper identification of products inspected by the Australian Department of Primary Industry, and that there should be adoption of measures to ensure complete segregation of edible and inedible products, and the adoption of up-to-date methods of meat works hygiene.
– Why was the board not doing something about that?
– Exactly. I asked why the Australian Meat Board was not looking into this subject earlier, instead of leaving it until 18th September, 1963, after Dr. Pals of the United States Department of Agriculture had visited here and made certain recommendations, along the lines I have mentioned, to the Australian authorities.
As Senator Morris said during his speech, in which he made some interesting observations on the meat industry, some establishments have resorted to a system of alternating slaughtering. In this regard, I refer to the Canpak system which has been given that name because it originated in Canada. Under the system, slaughtermen are placed at intervals along a conveyer belt. After the beast is knocked by the knocker and hung by its hindquarters on the conveyer belt, the slaughtermen along the conveyer belt carry out particular operations in the task of slaughtering. During these operations the meat is inspected, as the beast moves along the conveyer belt, by Commonwealth and State Government inspectors. The slaughtermen find the work much easier despite the fact that the method of conveyance makes the task more skilled so far as speed is concerned. The positions of the slaughtermen on the chain are changed so that the work does not become monotonous. In other words, all the talents of the slaughtermen which were used in operating the solo system are used in the Canpak conveyer belt system. After the beast has been slaughtered and cut up, the meat is then passed to the boners and packers. Throughout the meat industry, there are some 10,000 to 12,000 men and women engaged in this production work. In some of the large meat exporting companies there is a high proportion of women workers, particularly in the packing department. These men and women are members of the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union.
I believe, along with my colleagues - Senator Willesee made passing reference to this matter - that not only are the consumers of meat on the Australian home market entitled to have their views put on the Australian Meat Board, but also the representatives of the men and women engaged in the slaughtering, packing and other production operations involved in the meat industry are entitled to representation. The Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union has had representation on the board from 1946 to the present time. I can see nothing in the Minister’s second-reading speech which explains why representation on the board should be denied such an important union.
– You were criticizing the board a little while ago.
– 1 was criticizing the board, but I am speaking now about the board as it will be reconstituted under this legislation. The members of the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union are as much entitled to representation on the new board as they were entitled to representation on the old board. I do noi know whether the representative of the union raised during the sittings of the board the matters of hygiene to which Senator Cormack referred, but I should imagine that those matters would have been discussed from time to time by the board. Until Dr. Pals came here in May, 1963, nothing was done about hygiene at all. 1 wish now to deal with the conditions of work of those employed in this industry, particularly in connexion with the export of meat. To say the least, the conditions are of a most unsatisfactory nature, not only for the employee but also for the employer, the industry generally and the Australian economy. In this respect, I refer in particular to the export side of the industry. Work in the industry commences in northern Queensland in April or May and cuts out in September or October. Employees are taken on in April and cease work in the industry’ in about September or October. Skilled men are engaged as slaughtermen, boners and packers. After seeing boners at work I would say they are as skilled with a knife as any good surgeon is.
– Break that down.
– I did not notice that my friend Senator Dittmer was here. I understand he is a physician and not a surgeon; or perhaps I should say that he is a better physician than he is a surgeon. Getting back to the industry generally, between October of one year and April of the next year, the men engaged on a casual basis under the piece-work system in the meat export industry have to seek other employment. They obtain this employment mainly in cane-cutting operations, harvesting operations or other work of a general labouring nature. That, I suggest is most unsatisfactory to the employees, the employers and the industry generally. One of the most important tasks of the reconstituted Australian Meat Board will be to see whether it can bring some security of tenure in employment to a very important industry, especially in view of the developing potential of local and overseas markets.
I make these few comments at this stage of this very important bill which is before the Senate of the Commonwealth Parliament. Senator Willesee indicated in the course of his address that at a later stage, when the bill is being discussed in committee, the Labour Opposition will be moving certain amendments because it believes that those amendments will bc in the interests of the Australian meat industry, the Australian public and Australia generally. I trust that when those amendments are proposed they will receive the utmost consideration of all honorable senators because they will be put forward in a genuine attempt to bring some security of tenure into the industry for employees, and to promote further the meat industry in this great nation of ours.
.- I was interested this afternoon to listen to the rather graceful speech of Senator Willesee from Western Australia. He is always worth listening to, and I say his speech was graceful because in it he canvassed the subject-matter of the bill, not only with grace, but also with some knowledge and a great deal of logic. I am bound to make this observation because, however distasteful it might be to say so, his speech was in marked contrast to that made by Senator McClelland who has just resumed his scat. I am bound also to confess that I did not follow his expertise although I know that he is a man with great knowledge of the meat industry, particularly in relation to the meat employees engaged in the slaughtering side of the industry.
I was quite staggered to discover the distressing conditions that abound evidently because employee representation has been removed from the Australian Meat Board. 1 interjected, honorable senators will recollect, by asking what the Australian Meat Board has been doing about the meatworks. The truth is that substantially nothing can be done about these meatworks because there are those engaged in the slaughtering and preparation of meat - lamb, beef and so on - who belong to the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union. This union has imposed a darg or a limitation on output. Although Senator McClelland painted a rather piteous picture of the conditions of meat employees, the truth is that they get paid for twelve months work, work only for nine months of the year, and impose a darg on the output anyway.
– That has been accepted in the industry for years.
– I have certainly always had my suspicions about Senator Dittmer, but whether it is suggested that he should be a member of the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union or not I do not know. Worse than that, it is suggested that he employs himself in the Parliament during the off-season.
– There is no need to be sarcastic.
– I am defending the learned senator from the slings and arrows of his colleagues. However, I think 1 should return to the subject-matter before the Senate at the present time. ] suggest to honorable senators as coldly as I might that the Australian Meat Board is not deserving of the praise that has been unstintingly lavished on it this afternoon, and earlier in another place. The truth of the matter is that if the Australian Meat Board had been doing the job with which it was charged under the old act the present situation at meatworks would not exist. A charge has been levelled against our meatworks by the United States Department of Agriculture. The Australian Meat Board is charged with the responsibility of investigating and supervising meatworks for the export trade. It should never have allowed the Australian abattoirs to get into a condition which enabled the United States to send its veterinary officers to Australia and say, in effect, that unless these meatworks were brought up to a standard at least equal to the level that the United States required in veterinary hygiene, then Australia would not be allowed to send meat into that country. Not only the condition of the works, but also the standard of inspection of the meat lay under the control and was the responsibility of the Australian Meat Board. The most elemental requirement of the United States regulations for meat exports is that carcasses shall travel on the chain with the head and the viscera. We are now confronted with a problem in Washington where United States senators have suggested to the President not only that low quality Australian meat should not be allowed into the United States, but that Australian meat should not be allowed into the United States at all. This is a very serious matter.
The Australian Meat Board is being reconstituted. That aspect is dealt with in the principal bill which is supported by two or three other bills. While these bills were being examined in another place I found myself in an extraordinarily difficult position because, as I have said in another context, I am not convinced that the Parliament - and particularly the component of the Parliament in another place - has discharged its responsibility to the citizens of Australia. I refer not only to the people involved in the production of livestock for slaughter, but to consumers and all ele<ments of production, including distribution and the various service industries. The Parliament had a responsibility to examine these bills to discover the requirements of the specialized agencies mentioned in the legislation. The superficial reason for the introduction of these bills is to reconstitute the Australian Meat Board in order that the board might discharge the responsibilities which are mentioned as the objects of the legislation - the development of alternative markets. If, in view of the circumstances that exist in the United States, the market in that country which has been built up during the last six or seven years by meat exporters of Australia were to be lost, the position would be serious. The American market which was built up by the free enterprise sector of the Australian meat industry - not by the Meat Board - has reached extraordinary proportions. They seized the opportunity and built the market. We arc not being asked merely to set up a board that will be charged with the task of developing alternative markets. What is meant by “ undeveloped markets “ has never been explained either in another place or in the Senate, but the truth is that the Australian Meat Board is being re-established in a new form and guise to find some means by which meat produced in Australia can be placed in uneconomic markets. The free enterprise sector of the Australian meat industry has already placed the maximum amount of meat in existing profitable markets as is illustrated by the enormous tonnages going into the United States of America. So if alternative markets are to be found, it is manifest that the design of this bill is to find markets which are not just undeveloped but which, in reality, are uneconomic.
If we are going to place meat in an uneconomic market it is obvious that it will have to be sold at a price less than that paid for Australian lamb, beef or mutton in existing world markets. The price will have to be within the capacity of people who so far have not been able to pay the world market price. Therefore the charge in this bill is, in reality, that the Australian Meat Board shall be reconstituted so that it will be able to acquire meat and place it in uneconomic markets.
– Would the levy not be quite inadequate for that purpose?
– Senator Prowse, who comes from the dry paddocks of Western Australia, might spend more time over here and find out some of the facts of life, because at least 90 per cent, of the beef produced in Australia comes from this side of the continent. As 1 have said, the reality is that an undeveloped market is an uneconomic market. Therefore, if the existing meat surplus for export is being exported to profitable markets, it requires only a simple arithmetical sum to deduce that the other meat which you want to export must be diverted to an uneconomic market, in which we will sustain a loss.
It is therefore necessary, as we examine these bills, that the new Australian Meat Board shall have tax-levying powers, so that it may obtain funds with which to underwrite the losses which will inevitably accrue in its operations. I could elaborate on that to a great extent but I do not intend to do so, because I think it is axiomatic. I believe even Senator Dittmer will agree that it is a self-evident truth.
There is a third element involved in the series of bills before the Senate. I think it is clear that as the result of proposals that are now being discussed in Europe in what is known as the Kennedy Round or the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade discussions, where the whole subject of the disposal of primary produce is under review, there will be occasions when it will be necessary to enter into govern.menttogovernment contracts. Therefore the Australian Government is taking action at this time to set up an agency here in Australia which will be able to fulfil government-to-government contracts.
There are three principles now confronting the Parliament in this legislation. There is one which was discussed at great length in another place and there are two other elements to which I have drawn attention to-night and which have not yet been discussed in either House. I do not think this measure can be usefully discussed unless these matters are clearly understood. It is true that the Government has sought the opinions of two large organizations of primary producers in Australia. One of these may be regarded as representing the smaller farmers and the other as representing the larger graziers, as they are called in the curious jargon we are prone to use in these matters. However, I suggest that the Government has left out of consideration a great number of producers of mutton, lamb, beef and veal. By no stretch of imagination can the organizations that have been acting as advisers to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) be regarded as representing the total of Australian primary producers. And we have this curious situation: Part of the campaign that has been waged to establish unanimity between the two major organizations has been to offer the bait - in my personal opinion it is a bait - that if agreement is obtained on the principles embedded in these bills, the acquisition of meat for distribution to uneconomic markets will be used as a regulatory procedure to try to iron out the problem of the peaks and valleys and gluts and shortages in beef supplies. Statistics show that the regulating element in Australian beef production is the Queensland beef industry. So it does not matter whether you are a mutton producer, a lamb producer, a beef producer or chopper cow producer in the southern States; you will pay the tax to sustain the price of beef in Queensland.
– Is there anything wrong with that’’
– Not to a Queenslander, but there will be a lot of very angry people in southern States when they find that a chopper cow will bear the same tax as a beef animal in Queensland. In essence, of course, what the proposal amounts to is this: Embedded in this bill - it is not discernible, but it exists - is the attempt to create a revolving fund, quite properly I suggest, to regulate the meat market of Australia. 1 do not think the plan will work very well, but this is an attempt to make something work. Under a system of developing undeveloped markets a revolving fund will be established and used to try to regulate the Australian meat market, and the only way to do that is to subsidize Queensland and northern New South Wales beef. I think this is serious.
I turn now to the problem which, as I see it, is dealt with in this legislation. It is that in attempting to attain an end desirable to the major advisers of the Minister, there is (he task, first of all, of trying to protect those who have already profitably enlarged Australia’s overseas market over the last six or seven years. I refer to the private operator and meat exporter - the man who is held in derision by honorable senators opposite but without whose business acumen there would have been no meat market in the United States, because that market has been established in defiance of the Australian Meat Board. If honorable senators on either side of the House care to look at warnings issued by the Australian Meat Board since 1953 they will find that it has been saying constantly that there is no future for the Australian producer in the United States market.
If one says that the board has in the past been an efficient operator I think it is reasonable to say that if it made the major mistake it is quite capable of making a major mistake in the future, because if the Australian Meat Board had had the powers in the past that it is seeking in this bill there would have been no market in the United States of America. It is no good Senator Prowse sneering; he should keep quiet. If the Australian Meat Board had had its way during the last ten years and had had the powers that are embedded in this measure - including the power of prohibiting the export of Australian meat - there would have been no export of 226,000 tons of meat a year to the United States because the board iterated and reiterated from 1953 onwards that there was no market in the United Stales.
– Has not the board had the power to issue licences?
– Yes, and I am grateful to the honorable senator for mentioning that. The board had that power. Three matters are contained in this bill that are of concern to us. The first is whether the Meat Board shall be able to acquire meat from the producers and possibly place that meat, in competition with the producers from whom it acquired it, on a market without any restrictions. I think that in clause 25 the Minister properly has imposed some restrictions on the board in unilaterally placing itself in a market already profitably supplied by the exporters or licence holders. An additional safeguard was moved in another place to afford slightly more protection.
When we come to consider the question of the awarding and cancellation of licences we find ourselves in the extraordinary position that I mentioned in another relationship, that whereas, as a society, State and Commonwealth, we sustain ourselves by three supports, the three legs of the stool of State - which are separate and co-equal in their respective spheres - namely the Government, whose power is administrative and executive, the Parliament, with power to make laws or rules, and the judiciary, which is responsible for holding the balance between the citizen and the Government - we find that in this bill they are being combined into one pillar. Under the eventual control of the Minister we find the power of administration and execution, the power of levying taxes, and the power of being the adjudicator. So the problem could arise where the livelihood of a person or a group of growers or processors who have combined to export may be affected by the licence to export being cancelled without warning, without reason given and without compensation paid. 1 can remember an occasion ten years ago when the Government of the day sought to establish means whereby a man could be deprived administratively of his livelihood, and the Senate threw that bill out because the individual was to be deprived of his rights in law. The individual’s rights in law are expressly excluded in these bills now before us.
– In other words, there is no right of appeal.
– There is no right of appeal. We come now to a consideration of a factor that is even more fundamental. With some calm and dispassion I appeal to honorable senators to ask themselves, or to remind themselves, why they sit here. Why do the form and function of parliament exist? The form and function of parliament were established by our forebears over hundreds of years, and the base of the system is that the Crown can provide services only after asking the Parliament, and obtaining from it the money for the provision of services. Parliament is nothing unless it has that power, and Parliament has established itself as the law-maker - as the third leg of the constitutional stool - because it has been able, over centuries, to wrest this power from the Crown. The taxing power must reside in Parliament, and taxes should not be exacted without the permission of Parliament; yet in this bill, in another place, there has been given unilaterally to the Australian Meat Board the power, through the Minister, to levy taxation. Once this power is given it cannot be retrieved by the Parliament except by enormous struggle.
A bill for an act to impose a levy on the slaughter of live-stock is a taxation bill, yet it went through another place without even being queried and without the reason for which the taxes are being levied being examined. I think of the days when the situation between the two chambers of parliament was being examined, and when the upper chamber was being deprived of the power of amendment of money bills. I think that was then just and proper, but the circumstances now exist where the lower chamber of this Parliament has been recreant to the duty with which it is charged, so the Senate must take this under surveillance.
– And make a request?
– And make a request. I am not appealing to the Senate to reject this bill, because basically it is a good bill and an honest attempt to try to meet the changing international circumstances in which we find ourselves. I think the Government is wise to set up machinery by which it may be able to meet its commitments in the changing pattern of world trade. I am not asking any senator to destroy the bill. I ask the Senate to consider whether or not it should, in the wider interest to which all senators must subscribe, send this bill back to the House of Representatives with a request that an upper limit be placed upon the absolute right of the Minister to levy taxation without reference to the Parliament, because that is what this bill provides. The bill does not mean that the Parliament - the Senate or the House of Representatives - may levy taxation, but that the Minister may do so. It may be said, of course, that the Minister will do this by a regulation which will come before the Senate Regulations and Ordinances Committee, but under the rules under which the Senate’s own committee acts the Senate can do nothing. Therefore, with all the earnestness that I can command I beg of the Senate - not the senators sitting opposite and not those sitting on my left and right, but the Senate as a body - to acknowledge a duty of ensuring that this error that took place in another place is rectified before a vast parliamentary and constitutional injustice is done.
– The Opposition supports these bills which deal with the meat industry because they replace legislation that was introduced by the Chifley Government and they retain the general principles of that legislation. The bills provide for a meat board with the function of introducing some planning into an industry that badly needs it. Included in the other proposed functions is the task of promoting the export meat trade as well as encouraging the consumption of meat in Australia, lt will also have the object of promoting research, and in general, of improving the meat industry, which is a great Australian industry. Financial provisions are such that there will be one collection authority and one authority responsible for finance. There are other powers which enable the board to supervise the freight and insurance charges on meat which is exported from Australia. They are similar to those which existed previously. We approve of these.
In some respects, however, the Opposition does not approve of what has been done in this scries of bills. The main bill is the Meat Industry Bill. It is said by the Government that one of the main purposes in introducing these bills was to reconstitute the Australian Meat Board so that certain objectives might be achieved. The Australian Meat Board is to be reconstituted by reducing the number of persons on the board. There were twelve. They included three representatives of the lamb producers, one representing mutton producers, two to represent the beef producers, and one representative of the pig producers. That representative will not be on the new board apparently because the pig producers do not wish to be a party to the continuing arrangements. The board previously included two members to represent meat exporting companies, one representative of publicly-owned abattoirs and freezing works dealing with meat or meat products exported from Australia and one representative of employees engaged in the sale and preparation of meat or meat products for export. There was also one representative of the Commonwealth Government.
The reduction of the number of members is being achieved - apart from the withdrawal of the representative of the pig producers - by eliminating from the board’s membership the member who represents the meat employees and the representative of the abattoirs which are publicly-owned. We consider that this is a grave defect in the bill. It implies what has been expressed by Senator Cormack to-night and that is the contempt of this Menzies Government for the trade union movement of Australia. The Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union has been represented on the Australian Meat Board since 1946. The reason for the representation then was the reason that has existed always and it justifies a representative of the trade union on the board.
I should like to remind honorable senators of what was said by members of the anti-Labour parties then in opposition, when legislation was introduced in 1946 to provide for this membership. This was said by Mr. Hutchinson, a member of the United Australia Party, who was leading the debate on the Meat Export Control Bill 1946 on behalf of the Opposition of the day. He said -
I welcome the proposal to appoint representatives of the employees to the board, because this is in line with liberal thought on this side of the House which favours a new deal in industry. It is very important that employers and employees should be brought into closer contact. This close contact already exists in small industries, where there is not nearly so much industrial trouble as in the large ones. In the small industries, the boss and the employee know one another, they are familiar with one another’s problems, and they attempt to solve them together. In the large industries, there are, I believe, persons who have a vested interest in creating disturbances. A feeling grows up between the workers and the management which is contrary to the best interests of the industry and of the nation. Anything which tends to bring together employers and employees must be beneficial. At the present time, employees in an industry often have no knowledge whatever of the main problems of management and finance. It will be an education to them to have representatives on a board where such matters are discussed, and it will bc an advantage also the employers to learn the point of view of their employees.
The first speaker for the Australian Country Party, Mr. Abbott, on the same occasion, -24th July, 1946- said-
I agree with the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Hutchinson) that it is pleasing to the Opposition to note that a representative of the employees in the meat industry will be placed on the board.
What happened? The Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union acted on this. Here was something which members of all parties considered was beneficial. So far as I can see from the reports of the debates, nobody suggested that it was other than in the interests of the community that the employees be represented on the Australian Meat Board. Mr. J. Tierney. who was then the secretary of the New South Wales branch of the union, became a member and stayed on the board as the employees’ representative.
Notwithstanding the contemptuous expression of Senator Cormack in referring to its representation, the union has done a very significant job on the board. In the past three years, its activities in connexion with the Australian Meat Board have extended to a number of matters on which information has been supplied to me by the federal secretary of the union, Mr. F. T. Hall. Through its representative on the board, the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union has raised the question of diseases of meat workers peculiar to the industry such us brucellosis, a disease which is also widespread in the Australian community, lepto spirosis, Q. fever and other diseases. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization was requested by the union’s representative to develop a serum to prevent these diseases.
The union has stressed the need for the eradication of noxious weeds, pointing out facts in this connexion on which its members were informed because of their peculiar knowledge of the industry. They saw the livestock when it entered the abattoirs, such as those at Homebush, to be slaughtered. The union representatives were, I think, the first to realize that spiney burr was becoming an infestation throughout New South Wales because it was first located there. The union informed the board that the burr from weeds such as noogoora burr and spiney burr was being found in the fleeces of sheep in increasing quantities. This resulted in economic loss because of a decline in the value of carcasses and skins, apart from industrial trouble because of the effects of the burr on slaughtermen.
The union has stressed the need for greater research into additional use of byproducts of the industry and for beef research. Acting on invitations which were given to this union to take a greater part in the meat industry than merely trying to get better wages and conditions for its members, the union moved wholeheartedly into that sphere and the Victorian branch has almost completed the building of a medical clinic and research centre which, when equiped, will commence research into diseases of meat workers. They have constantly raised the necessity for improved standards of hygiene in the industry, stressing that particular attention should be paid to the slaughtering section and pointing out the need for cleanliness in garments and elsewhere. The necessity for this has been highlighted since we have been exporting meat to the United States of America. This union has been pounding away for these things yet apparently one honorable senator has attempted to blame union representation on the Meat Board for the board’s failure to have some of these matters attended to.
What is the attitude of the Government and of its supporters towards such matters as the need for improved hygiene and belter health standards in Australia? What was said in the other place about these things? One member of the Liberal Party in another place. Mr. Mackinnon said that he hoped he would get an assurance that the standards which were being required by the board with relation to the exporting of meat to the United States would not be applied to the slaughtering of meat for home consumption. It is a wonderful thing for the Australian people to realize that a member of this Parliament should suggest such a thing!
The Meat Board may have its share of blame in relation to matters of hygiene, but it is not the only authority that can be blamed. For instance, I should like to bring to the notice of the Senate the fact that in its report for May, 1963, the National Health and Medical Research Council stressed that again it had to draw attention to the fact that no action had been taken to eliminate the practice of leaving the skins of calves on the bodies after slaughter, although this practice carries grave risk to public health. This is a matter administered by the Minister for Health, (Senator Wade) the same honorable senator who represents the Minister for Primary Industry in this chamber. Although the National Health and Medical Research Council, a body in connexion with which the Minister has an important public function, raised this matter some time ago, apparently nothing was done about it for a very long time. A lot of reponsibility has to be borne by agencies of this Government apart from the Meat Board.
The union has done its utmost to achieve some reforms in these matters, and it ill behoves any honorable senator on the Government side to attack the union or to raise such matters as working to tallies, a practice that has long been recognized and accepted by industrial tribunals in this important industry.
– To what do you refer when you speak of leaving the skins on calves?
– I mean exactly that. I mean leaving the skins on the calves after they have been slaughtered. If the honorable senator cares to read the report of the body which I have named he will find reference made to it.
I move on now to another defect in the legislation, lt is the fact that the publicly owned abattoirs are to lose their representation on this newly constituted board and the organization which represents them, an employers’ organization brought into being under a statute for public purposes, as was the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union, complains publicly about the abattoirs being excluded from representation. That organization has said -
To have an Australian meat board without a representative of these service abattoirs is a glaring anomaly. The capital’ investment of this side of the Industry needs to be safeguarded, as the whole export of our meat is dependent upon compliance with the highest standards of meat processing and packing.
It says that to leave out representation of the abattoirs which are scattered around Australia and which are owned by local governments or the States will reduce the effectiveness of the board. The Opposition agrees with that view. No justification for the elimination of the representation of those two bodies is given anywhere in the Minister’s speech. When referring to abattoirs, he said, in effect, “ It is unfortunate, but they are not really associated with the actual marketing of meat “. How shallow an argument that is! How are the producers, who are represented and who will continue to be represented, associated with the actual marketing of meat? There is no justification given for the elimination from the board of any union representation because there cannot be any justification for it.
If there are any reasons at all for the exclusion of the union, if, for instance, this organization which was represented on the Meat Board with the commendation of all political parties has not carried out its functions, then, why, in common courtesy to the union, has not the Government had the honesty and decency to say so? lt has been said by one honorable senator that although this employees’ organization will lose its representation on the board it is to be hoped that union representatives will continue lo be present at the meat industry conferences which are held from time to time, and he is confident that they will be. In response to the invitation extended by the department, the employees organization attended these conferences. It did so because it was acting in the belief that it was expected to play a significant role in the meat industry, which it wanted to do. This union represents some tens of thousands of members, I believe something like 40,000. It wanted to and did play the part in community affairs that every one expected it to do in 1946 and every one was pleased .that it was given the opportunity to do. One would think that the whole community would want it to be represented now, but under this proposed legislation it is being wiped off the board as if with a dirty rag. No explanation is given to the union, and I am authorized by the secretary of the union to say that, in view of what has been done and in view of the lack of sufficient explanation the union does not propose to allow itself to be used in this manner. If what it has done is not satisfactory, if the advice and assistance and co-operation that it has been giving to the community through this board over the years have not been acceptable then it does not propose to continue to be used in the way suggested by the honorable senator.
It is a tragedy that a bill should be introduced which cuts down representation of the workers, the people who really constitute the meat industry, as distinct from those who are producing the livestock. The employers are excluded, the service abattoirs are excluded, the workers are excluded, and the consumers are not represented. These are grave defects in the bill. If the Government has the interests of the community at heart, if it is concerned that there shall be co-operation by the trade union movement not only in this industry but also in other industries it will refrain from actions such as this which cannot induce any confidence in the workers in the community and in their representatives.
Senator Cormack suggested that there was at stake a principle which went beyond the confines of the bill. He said that it appeared there was a serious departure from the ordinary principle that taxation must at all times be under the direct control of the Parliament, that no tax should be imposed except by act of parliament, and that here was something which called for the consideration of all senators, not only those of his own party but also those on this side of the chamber. I am confident that all senators, including those on this side of the chamber, will give his remarks due attention during the remainder of the debate.
.- This is an important bill, which deals with the reconstitution of a board which exercises important functions in our third or fourth greatest primary producing industry, the meat industry. It is necessary, first, to see the problem to which the Parliament is addressing itself, and then our peculiar function should be exercised in deciding as to the appropriateness of the measure that we propose to pass. In the latter respect people too often, I believe, misjudge the true function of the Parliament.
The bill proposes the reconstitution of a board, the principal objectives of which are expressed in the act to be to control the export sales of the meat industry, to promote intra-state and interstate trade, and to increase the quantity and improve the quality of the meat produced. In assessing the dimensions and importance of the meat industry in order to see where the problem is, one cannot in a brief speech do adequate justice to the subject; but one can indicate a few of the points that arise in this respect. Senator McClelland cited figures in regard to beef and veal production in Australia. He said that the 1957 production of beef and veal was, as indeed it was, 791,000 tons. He said that in 1962 the figure was the same, clearly conveying that the expansion of the meat industry had been frustrated and that the industry was stagnant during that period. At page 98 of the Australian Meat Board’s report for the year ended June, 1963, it will be seen that in 1959, the very next year after the first year cited by Senator McClelland, production of beef and veal rose to 906,000 tons, and that it is estimated that in 1963 production amounted to 904,000 tons. So in attempting to give a proper picture from the statistics of the expansion of beef and veal production, that speech was significantly deficient. In 1957, production of all meats amounted to 1,270,000 tons. It was expected to rise in 1963 to 1,614,000 tons. In between those years there has been a drop and an increase. That is to say, the figures have vacillated according to the notoriously harsh incidence of seasonal conditions on this industry. It is wrong for anybody to understand from anything that has been said that over the past five or six years the quantity of beef and veal production or the quantity of all meat production has not significantly expanded.
– Despite that vacillation of total production, consumption per head of population between those years has dropped very considerably.
Senator WRIGHT__ That is a matter of incidental importance into which I have not time to go at this stage. If it becomes relevant in committee, we shall discuss it with great willingness. After noting those figures, which I think convey some meaning to the mind, it is important to note exports by this industry in the past few years. Whereas the United Kingdom was for many years the great market for our meat exports, a feature of export activity during 1962-63, as shown by the boards report at page 41, was the relative stability of the North American market for beef and mutton, which absorbed 73 per cent, of total exports from Australia. Exports to the United Kingdom have significantly declined during that period. I shall refer in a moment to an opposite trend that has developed in this vear. Also in relation to our export potential, it is interesting to note that significant progress is being made in increasing our exports to Japan. The Japanese market is now our fifth largest meat export market. In those circumstances, I would have thought that April, 1964, was not a crisis period in the Australian beef industry. Indeed, recognizing that this is an industry in which change has occurred quite rapidly, and for unforeseen reasons, T should have thought that the mere mention of the figures to which I have referred would show that the meat industry is not in a critical position but is enjoying a great degree of prosperity.
I do not wish to overlook the fact that it is estimated that our exports to the United Kingdom and Europe from January, 1964, to June, 1964, will be in the vicinity of 59,000 tons, compared with approximately 19,000 tons in the same period of last year. Correspondingly, it is estimated that our shipments to north America in the first six months of this year will amount to about 70,000 tons, compared with 126,000 tons in the same period last year. My information is that this is due to such discernible features as price factors in the United States of America and transitory changes which are at present taking place in exports from the Argentine, resulting in the British market being more open to our exports. This position, coupled with the higher standards of living in Italy and’ France, means that there is keener bidding for meats in those markets. Europe is able to allow greater accommodation to the Australian exports even with the competition that is being offered from the Argentine. That does not detract from the fundamental premise from which I started, that the meat industry is fairly stable. Why. therefore, is this occasion chosen to bring forward a bill which I believe is pretty fundamental in character and which demands a great deal of examination on the part of the Parliament in view of the fact that there has been little industry discussion, which has been made public, preceding the introduction of the bill. I have examined the measure against that -background.
First, I have examined the constitution of the proposed board. Although in New Zealand a board of this description is constituted by election from the producers, here it is proposed to set up a board of nine members, six of whom are to be the nominees of the joint conference between the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. Those two bodies are supposed to toe representative of the grower interests. If you are going to recognize only organizations existing in the industry, the great complaint I have is that it denies recognition, and excludes from participation in appointments to member boards, of the Australian Primary Producers Union which, on the statement of officers of the union, has 20,000 members engaged in beef production. Those members are responsible for producing nearly one-fifth of all beef produced in Australia. More than 30 per cent, of fat lambs raised in Australia come from flocks of A.P.P.U. members. I have not had the opportunity to check those figures, but that is the claim of the organization.
It seems to me that there is some unreality when we simply recognize two organizations interested in the meat industry and deny recognition to others. It is all the more remarkable because, if we look at the Australian Meat Board’s report for last year, we see at page 48, where, the board was discussing a matter relating to the internal organization of the industry - that is, meat promotion within Australia - reference to the fact that the board had brought into conference not only the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation but also the Australian Primary Producers Union. It was resolved, in connexion with Australian meat promotion, to set up a standing committee to investigate the problems and to recommend methods by which a proposed levy could be spread equitably throughout all sections of the industry. It was decided that the standing committee should include, amongst others, the Australian Primary Producers Union. So, it seems to me extremely odd that, on 30th June, 1963, the Meat Board had advanced its consultations with the union to the degree of giving it representation on the standing committee to consider promotion within Australia. Now we have proposals stemming not from the Meat Board but from the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation which deny to the A.P.P.U. representation on the board.
I have noticed the arguments which have been presented with regard to the exclusion of the A.P.P.U.’s representative from the proposed board. I think this is a matter that it would be of great advantage to discuss at a later stage, either at the committee stage or, if the Senate accepts a proposal, in a select committee on this bill. The plea that Senator Murphy made so eloquently in regard to the representation of public abattoirs would have been so much more effective were it not for the fact, upon which we should reflect, that when the Chifley Government reconstituted the board in 1948 it reduced the representation of public abattoirs, which had been four members since 1935, to one member. I may have a jaundiced perception, but to my eyes this legislation has some blemish because, as Senator Murphy accurately stated, it still retains the principles of the Chifley legislation.
I should like, if I may, whether in select committee or in general committee, to bring to the notice of honorable senators the magnificent claims made by the responsible Chifley Government Minister in 1948. In reconstituting the board with trading powers, he said, “ We are going to give £20,000,000 to carry on international trade in all the meat of Australia, and we are going to embark upon governmenttogovernment trading”. That proposal was frustrated only by the election of 1949. Those powers were to be subject to the direction of the Minister. The Liberal Party Minister who succeeded him had no notions of such magnificent trading. Undoubtedly, as Senator Cormack has shown us, this trading would have been undertaken on an uneconomic basis. It is because this bill is designed to retain the principles of the Chifley legislation that I feel some disquiet with regard to it.
The next thing I wish to point out about this board is that it is not merely to be an organizational body. It is proposed to give it trading powers. The sinews of trade are to be supplied by a levy which the Minister is to impose by regulation, on the recommendation of the board, after consultation with the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council, the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation, and such other organizations as are prescribed. But, Mr. President, as Senator Cormack has so properly pointed out, it is the Minister who wishes to have entrusted to him by regulation - that is to say subordinate legislation and not parliamentary enactment - powers to impose a levy or poll tax upon the industry.
– An unlimited levy.
– It is an unlimited levy, as Senator Anderson reminds me, and as Senator Cormack emphasized. No upper limits are to be fixed in the recommendation by the board after consultation with two vested interests in the industry when are not necessarily representative of it. An old principle stemming from the shipping moneys, and fought again after the Boston Tea Party, is that a British soul does not find satisfaction in paying a tax unless he has representation on the body that levies it. These people have some representation in Parliament. I hope that representation is not becoming fleeting or impotent. I hope that we all hold the idea that we represent the person who is required to pay this tax. In this case, although it is said to be imposed upon the person who owns the stock at the time of the slaughter, there is a curious provision in the bill which provides for him to pass back the amount of the taxation so as to ensure that it is the producer of the meat who pays the tax. That adds weight to my advocacy that the producer should have the right to elect the members of the board if the taxation power is to remain a matter of recommendation by the board. Tt adds weight also to the advocacy of Senator Cormack, based upon very sound grounds, that we should hedge this application of taxing power around with adequate safeguards and prescribe an upper limit, or we should require that the levy be imposed by an act of parliament when it is to be altered.
I have referred to the trading powers of the board. In order to consider these powers we must relate them to the nature of the board. If it were simply an advisory board then an organizational membership would be quite proper. But if the Government is going to add trading powers to the advisory and regulatory functions of the board, it seems to me to be quite wrong not to have adequate representation of commercial interests on the board. I believe that Senator Cormack’s speech would persuade those who listened to it that the 240 licensees engaged in commercial trading as at 30th June, 1963 represented a great deal of commercial experience which cannot be properly subordinated and certainly cannot be excluded if this board is to become a trading functionary. Especially is this so if honorable senators take notice of what the Minister said in his second-reading speech, namely that the bill is being brought in, not only to cater for ancillary functions, but also to obtain markets as yet undeveloped, and to engage in international trading undertakings to which Australia is committed.
Next I wish to refer to a facet of the bill that I hope will receive particular attention in the committee stage. It is the method by which this board is to control the industry. The control of an industry is a matter which any Liberal must be very jealous to see is permitted only if completely essential. Safeguards should be adequate to prevent those in control from disadvantaging the industry they are intended to promote. If these controls operate in a restricted way they can be very damaging. We must ensure that the licensing system is a just one. I remind the Senate that the licensing system was the original means whereby unfairness, discrimination and dissatisfaction were created in Britain when the Stuarts used the system for taxation purposes when Parliament denied them the money that they wanted.
I remind honorable senators also that it has been said, in relation to section 92 of the Constitution which guarantees absolute freedom of trade amongst the States, that a licensing system cannot be a means of continuing any element of freedom unless proper safeguards are added with respect to the licence. The licences proposed to be issued under this legislation are to be issued in the absolute discretion of the Minister. The fees to be imposed are in the absolute discretion of the Minister, and the Minister is not qualified in his power to cancel licences issued under the legislation. It is expressed that he shall do so after a report from the ‘board. The word “ after “ has been significantly changed in this bill from the word “ on “ which was in the old act. To have a power cancelled after a report gives the Minister a power to cancel despite the report, whereas to cancel on a report means that a Minister, basing his judgment on that report, may cancel the licence.
I remind honorable senators that this system of export licences is in all essential qualities completely .parallel to the system of import licensing that we imposed on the country most reluctantly. The Government did not seek to defend the system on principle but only because of the exigencies of the imbalance of the external trade figures of the country. 1 hope, therefore, that, in committee, proper provision will be made for an appropriate amendment so that any person within the industry who is aggrieved will be entitled to have his grievance heard and reviewed by an independent tribunal.
I have only one final thing to say in the minute that is left to me. I refer to some remarks that fell from Senator Murphy’s lips during the course of the debate. He said that he noted with satisfaction that the board will have the right to fix and control freight charges in this industry. I regard freight charges as very important. When I heard this matter referred to in such terms I knew that the implication was that the shipping entrepreneurs servicing this country were exploiting it. I am most jealous at all times to preserve the means whereby the transport associations of Australia engage in negotiations with the Oversea Shipping Representatives Association to fix these ever-rising freights. The Australian Meat Board said in its report, when considering the shipping situation, that there was a marked rise throughout the year in the time spent by overseas vessels in Australian waters. The report continued -
Serious vessel delays resulted from recurring waterfront disputes, particularly in Sydney an* Melbourne. . . .
Statistics compiled by the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority snowed that 989,000 manhours were lost through industrial stoppages. . . .
This is equivalent to almost three times the total for the previous year and is higher thanthe average for the last few years.
These are regrettable factors arising fromthe impotence and incomplete organization of the waterfront and do not stem from any idea of exploitation by shipping’ interests which, I agree, need to be vigilantly supervised.
I suggest that I have raised sufficient matters in the discussion on this hill to show that half an hour is not at all adequate for any senator to discharge his responsibility to the electors and I hope toinvite the Senate, when the bill passes the second reading, to consider whether or not a select committee of this chamber could usefully engage itself for a month or twomonths examining the measure, particularly as there appears to be no urgency for its passage.
– The bill before the Senate is concerned with the re-organization and reconstitution of the authority responsible for the development of our meat markets - the Australian Meat Board. This is legislation which, in principle, must meet with the approval of the majority of honorable senators on both sides of this chamber, but there are factors in it which call for a certain amount of critical examination. Other honorable senators have said that the proposal to exclude certain representatives from the Meat Board will deprive sections of the community of a direct voice in an industry with which they are closely associated. It is argued that because the producers will pay the levy they should have exclusive control of the marketing of their product. If we take that argument to its logical conclusion we will become a very disintegrated community.
The Government has realized at long last the merit of the policy which the Australian Labour Party has enunciated over the years - that the only way in which any industry can prosper in this day and age is by a system of organized marketing. It is at last coming to the view that to prepare a product and present it in the best way on an organized basis is in the long run the most economic way and brings the most prosperity to the people of this country.
The measure proposes to alter the membership of the Australian Meat Board by excluding the representative of the meat industry employees and those of publicly owned abattoirs and export freezing works. I would like to join with those honorable senators who have protested against the exclusion of the representative of the meat industry employees. After all, as Senator Murphy said, there is liaison between the producers and those who are actually engaged in the treatment of meat. Although the grower may exercise all bis ability in producing good-quality beef, the processing and treatment is the next step and is just as important in presenting the eventual product on the world market as is the growing of the beef. If the product is not properly treated and skill is not exercised in the slaughtering and cutting up of meat and in all the other allied industries in the presen tation of the beef, the price will naturally drop and the product will not be sought after to the same extent. To leave the meat industry employees without representation on the proposed new meat board is a retrograde step.
Another matter which is open to criticism is the snobocracy which is creeping into the setting up of these primary industry boards. During the debate on the establishment of the Australian Wool Board, a strong bid was made for representation of bodies other than the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. Those representations fell on deaf ears and there has been a feeling among those who were deprived of representation that undue influence was being exerted by a certain selected few people in the primary industries who had access to the ears of chose in government who could make the final decisions. I suppose a certain status and perhaps plums of office, are enjoyed by members of such boards, but membership should not necessarily go automatically to representatives of either the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council or the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation.
A strong case can be put forward on behalf Pf the Australian Primary Producers Union which, in turn, is the parent body with which ‘the Tasmanian Farmers Federation is affiliated. Tasmania, of course, produces its proportion of firstquality beef, and its proportion of choppertype beef. We produce excellent quality fat lambs and also quite a considerable amount of pig meats. All these sections of primary industry are represented by the Tasmanian Farmers Federation, which is the major farmers’ body in that State. It feels aggrieved, therefore, that its parent body, representing over 20 per cent, of the total farming community of Australia and over 20 per cent, of farm production, is being treated with contumely by the Government and, particularly, by the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. I would have liked to see the order in this bill reversed, because I feel that the more unity that can be achieved among primary producers the greater will be the ultimate result obtained from the industry. The measure does bring to the forefront of our minds the dramatic new era that has opened up for the Australian beef industry. We have seen the changing pattern of trade, particularly since the United States of America has become such a valuable bulk consumer of some of our products. It is easy to understand the attitude of the American beef producer in wanting protection from our choice-quality beef which is competing on the American market. I think that if the situation were reversed and the United States primary producer were becoming a serious challenge on our domestic market the Special Advisory Authority would be on the job and the Tariff Board would deal effectively with the situation.
We must be thankful, not for small mercies but for the very valuable development of the American market. We must be thankful that the United States has found it economic to import from Australia a type of beef that previously it was difficult to sell. After all, we must acknowledge that the greatest hulk of this continent is semiarid. In those areas of limited rainfall - sufficient rainfall to grow pastures, of course, but not sufficient to guarantee continuity of enough feed to fatten cattle - we are able to produce what are usually known as store cattle. Fortunately for Australian beef producers, that type of beef is suitable for what has become known as the hamburger trade. It is interesting that in the United States, where tremendous wealth lives side by side with great poverty and there are extremes in living standards, many people who would choose choice cuts of beef if it were economically possible for them to do so are forced to eat the hamburger mince type of beef. The demand for this type of beef has provided our beef producers with an outlet for the type of meat that grows in our fringe areas.
We must also realize that the taste of the beef consumer has changed rapidly. Instead of the traditional way of growing beef to three or four years of age and finishing the beast off at a weight of about 1,000 to 1,100 lb., the trend to-day is for choice baby beef, which is grown most frequently on improved pastures. However, the economics of improved pastures are such that there is not a very great margin of profit, particularly in the early years when a person starts developing land from its natural state. He has to clear the land, plough the land, sow it down, spread fertilizer and then wait until he can graze his cow and young calf - the calf which will grow to the size that produces the most succulent cuts of beef. Of course, baby beef grown in those circumstances naturally is not as muscly and tough as the older type of beef. The tendency is for people to choose more tender cuts from the younger beef cattle. This situation must be faced in Australia. It is a factor to which the board could well apply itself. The older and traditional style of growing beef in Australia has become outmoded and the world demand to-day seems to be for firstquality beef on one hand and for anything from an old chopper cow, dairy cow or store bullock, for mincing into hamburgers, on the other hand.
– Everybody seems to be neglecting the old mutton.
– I think we have developed our fat lamb trade along the very lines that I am suggesting should be followed with our beef trade. People prefer lamb to mutton and whereas Senators Mattner and Hannaford may prefer the old four or six-tooth wether - off-shears that they kill for the shearers whose teeth are strong enough to bite into that kind of meat - any one with a taste for meat prefers tender young lamb. The habit of meat-eating is increasing throughout the world, and the tender young lamb will always be more palatable than old wether mutton.
I want to continue along the line I was developing, namely, that a challenge is being created for those who will be given the opportunity to administer the meat industry in Australia. They will have to realize that they must encourage by every means at their disposal the building up of our top-quality meat trade. It is nice to have a side-line in hamburger meat, but we should strive for top quality beef. I expect that the board will direct its efforts to obtaining first-quality meat for export to the world markets, wherever those markets can be found. The most important activity for the board will be to expand our markets. Markets are developing in places like Canada, Japan, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Malaysia and China. I understand that 100,000 tons of meat were purchased by
China recently from the Argentine. In the same way that we have been able to find a market for our wheat, which a few years ago seemed to be beyond us, so markets for our beef can become a possibility. It is an exciting thought that China are likely purchasers of our meat. Places like Trinidad, Tobago, British Guiana, the Barbadoes and Bahamas and other places whose peoples were previously considered non-meat consumers because of their lower living standards to-day all become possible markets for our produce. For the beef industry, the future is exciting. It has been estimated that the world demand for beef will reach 1,800,000 tons a year. To satisfy that demand, an increase of 40 per cent, in the world production of beef will be required. If we have a well-organized meat board in Australia, it will anticipate the possibilities of expansion and will set about its job right from the grass roots.
When you examine the industry as a whole you see the great needs that exist. In the first place, as I have mentioned already, only top-quality beef will bring us the best results. To get top-quality beef, you must start with a well-bred beast. You must have a good strain and you must have the right kind of strain for the particular area in which the beef is produced. Cattle that will prosper and fatten in the climatic conditions of Tasmania and Victoria will not develop to the same extent in the tropical regions. The development of tick-resistant strains for the northern part of Australia is a great challenge to our beef producers. After visiting the Sydney Royal Agricultural Society Show and seeing the tick-resistant breeds of cattle on display - the Santa Gertrudis and the Brahmins - one realizes that a very high standard is being set. There is no reason why that standard cannot be applied to cattle raised in the northern part of Australia, and first-quality beef produced there.
The next matter to which the Australian Meat Board should apply itself is the extension of research work in the industry. It is a reflection on us as a primary-producing country that so few students in our universities are gaining degrees in veterinary science each year. There is no veterinary section in the University of Tasmania and only limited sections in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland on the eastern seaboard. Generally speaking, the course, which extends over six years, is such that other professions such as medicine are taking likely students from veterinary science. The availability of veterinary services - making the advice of experienced veterinarians available to our beef producers - and the application of a scientific approach to the production of beef are great challenges to Australia and particularly to the Meat Board. I hope that we will see this development.
The next stage is the handling of the beast itself. It was something of a shock to people who were not conscious of the position when the United States authorities who came to investigate many of our abattoirs found that conditions in them were sub-standard in comparison to those in their own country. There is no doubt in my mind that there should be only one standard for the handling of products for human consumption - a standard as near to excellence as it is possible to obtain. There is no excuse for anything less than complete cleanliness. The American authorities have done Australia a good service by reminding the beef interests very forcefully that the standard of hygiene existing traditionally in our abattoirs is not sufficiently high.
From that point I come to the next section of the trade - the art of the preparation and the packaging of the product. I hope that, in this matter, the incoming board will remember the saying that although clothes do not make, the gentleman, it is nice to see a gentleman in a good suit of clothes. The saying can be applied to meat. If you dress it up attractively, you will attract a buyer. We will need the highest standard of packaging and presentation of our products if we are to win the more sophisticated markets such as the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States.
I now come to the next stage, which is arranging for the selling of our ‘beef. That is to ‘be a responsibility of the new board. I am pleased to see that the bill provides scope for the board to purchase meat. After all, a tremendous amount of overhead is borne directly by the producer when converting his beasts into cash. The producer waits two or three years for a beast to grow to the stage at which it can be sold, and when he eventually gets it into the saleyard he has to meet charges coming from right, left and centre. These charges represent a considerable proportion of the price that he receives for his beast. The new board should enter that section of the industry to see that the producer is relieved of any unnecessary charges when he gets his beast to the saleyards.
The next aspect that Ibelieve requires investigation relates to the provision of efficient means of transport. If the. shipping companies of the world are not prepared to provide the facilities to enable our beef to be carried quickly, efficiently and in first-class order, the board has a responsibility to recommend to the Government that alternative methods of transport be found.
Finally - this is possibly the purpose of it all - the consumer has to be considered. The board has the responsibility of finding markets, arranging for the economics of the transaction, getting the product to the place where it is to be consumed, making it possible for our Department of Trade and Industry to give the best possible publicity to ourbeef products and eventually selling our product through thebutcher shops and other avenues of retailing so that the consumer gets the product that he wants and gets it from Australia. There are many other aspects on which I should like to touch because I have given only a very brief outline of my views.
In conclusion, let me read a passage from a letter which has been sent to quite a number of members of Parliament by the Tasmanian Farmers Federation. The federation has this to say -
The re-organization of the Australian Meat Board is long overdue and therefore with one exception the proposals governing this reconstitution are acceptable to meat producers and generally in line with what is required to deal with the increasingly difficult and complex problems involved in the marketing of meat, and particularly in the development of new outlets.
This exception is the incredible fact that the largest farmers organization in Australia, the Australian Primary Producers Union, will be given no recognition and no say in the appointment of the producer representatives to the reconstituted Meat Board.
AsI mentioned previously, it is most lamentable that this organization is not to have a voice in the appointment of representatives of producers to the board.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 15 April 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1964/19640415_senate_25_s25/>.