25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Joint Address: Acknowledgment by Her Majesty the Queen.
– 1 have received from His Excellency the Governor-General the following reply by Her Majesty the Queen to the joint address presented in connexion with the presentation of a mace to the House of Assembly of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, viz. - 1 thank you for the terms of your address which have been transmitted to me by the Governor-General. I am glad to learn of the forthcoming inauguration of the House of Assembly in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea and ( have pleasure in directing that a mace be presented to that legislature by and on behalf of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia to mark this auspicious occasion and in recognition of the importance of our parliamentary traditions.
– My questions are directed to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Last week I asked some questions relating to advertisements inserted in overseas newspapers, seeking diplomatic recruits, and i received a most unconvincing answer from the Minister. Therefore, I wish to repeat the questions. First, would it be correct to say that there are in both the Commonwealth and State public services many hundreds of people who are academically qualified as well as many who are now doing full-time and part-time courses at universities throughout Australia - there is a long list of such persons, both men and women, in this week’s issue of the Commonwealth “ Gazette “ - who have already had excellent departmental training and who would be eminently qualified to occupy positions in the 46 Australian diplomatic missions abroad or even at the head-quarters of the Department of External Affairs? Secondly, what is the reason for frowning on enthusiastic and efficient young men and women who have had splendid governmental training in, say, the Postmaster-General’s Department or some other non-glamorous department? Thirdly, why does a female diplomat receive £1,608 per annum whilst her male counterpart, doing exactly the same work, receives £1,796 per annum? Does the Government regard these excellent ladies as second-class citizens? Fourthly, with all this excellent material available in Australia, wh’y is it necessary to go outside the country to enlist non-Australians who hardly know where Australia is?
– The answer to the first part of the question is that undoubtedly there are in Australia large numbers of people in the public services and outside of them who are competent to apply for positions in the Department of External Affairs. There is nothing whatever to prevent their applying. They are in this country. They have the opportunity to see vacancies gazetted and they can apply for the vacant positions. The answer to the second part of the question is that no obstacle is placed in the way of any person from the Postmaster-General’s Department or any other department, or from no department, who wishes to make an application for a position which is advertised in the Commonwealth “ Gazette “. The answer to the third part of the question is that in the Commonwealth Public Service margins are the same for males and females, but the base salaries are different. The answer to the fourth part of the question is that it is only fair, I believe, that the many thousands of young Australians who at this stage of Australia’s development are for short periods of time sojourning abroad, either for the purposes of broadening their minds or of doing some work abroad, or even of doing university courses, should have the same opportunity to apply for these positions as have the people in Australia. For that reason they are given notice that the positions are open.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Has the Minister’s attention been directed to the chaotic condition of Australian air communications, during the four days following Thursday last, due principally to fog and cloud conditions in the Melbourne area? Is it correct that more than 30 aircraft were grounded1 at Mangalore aerodrome, about 80 miles north of Melbourne, at one stage on Friday last, and that the majority of the aircraft could not be moved because of the complete failure of fuel supplies at that emergency aerodrome? Is it also correct that, as a consequence, many services out of Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide airports, which at that time were perfectly usable, were curtailed because so many aircraft were grounded at Mangalore without fuel? Will the Minister cause to be examined the whole question of airline operators being compelled to store adequate supplies of fuel at all emergency aerodromes?
– It is true, of course, that as a result of the extremely severe weather conditions in the southeastern part of Australia on Friday last and extending over the next few days, there was a great number of aircraft diversions and landings at unscheduled aerodromes. I do not think it would be quite accurate to describe the situation as chaotic.
– You should have been at Mangalore.
– I am very familiar with what went on at Mangalore airport. In fact, I am familiar with conditions at most other airports in Australia at that time, but in my view it would not be wholly accurate to describe the position as chaotic, despite the fact that much inconvenience was caused to air travellers in Australia, which is a very rare occurrence indeed. It is true that during Friday reserve stores of petrol at Mangalore were exhausted. It was not expected that, even in the most extreme conditions, Mangalore airport would have been subjected to such a strain on its reserve supplies of petrol. The position was exacerbated by the fact that it was necessary to fuel at Mangalore one aircraft scheduled for an overseas flight, which is most unusual. As Senator Laught rightly said, fuel stores were exhausted. He indicated that this is a matter for the airlines. I agree. I am glad that he noted that it is a matter between the airlines and the oil companies concerned. I assure him that the question of this exhaustion of reserve fuel supplies at Mangalore is already the subject of discussion between the airlines and myself, with a view to ensuring that the unfortunate experience of last Friday is not repeated.
– I direct a question to the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Has the Minister’s attention been directed to an article appearing in the “Bulletin” of 11th April in which it is claimed that a mysterious disease is killing millions of trees, of the red gum, box and iron bark varieties, from South Australia to Queensland? The article refers to a statement by Mr. A. O. Laurence, chairman of the Forests Commission of Victoria, that the situation is so bad that the majority of the native trees retained for shelter will be lost unless remedial measures are taken. Can the Minister inform the Senate whether officers of the C.S.I.R.O., who are making investigations in this matter, have discovered why the trees are dying? If so, what remedial action is proposed, or is being taken, to preserve Australian flora?
– I cannot answer that question. I should like it to be placed on the notice-paper. I do not know of my own knowledge whether any officers of the C.S.I.R.O. are conducting investigations into this matter. If they are doing so, it would be at the request of the State forestry authorities. I should like to discover just what they have been asked to do, what their terms of reference are, if any, and how far they have progressed.
– I have seen the press statement referred to by Senator Sir Walter Cooper, but I have no knowledge of the validity of the statement attributed to the correspondent concerned. It might be as well to point out that our interest in the TFX aircraft is as a replacement for the Canberra bomber and that our requirements are not identical with those of the United States of America. In reply to the last part of the question, I can only say, as I said in this place last week, that we expect the TFX aircraft to be delivered on schedule.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. As 25th April, 1965, will be the 50th anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli, has the Postmaster-General considered the issue of a special stamp to commemorate the golden jubilee of Anzac, with its glorious traditions of service and sacrifice? If this matter has not yet been considered, will the Postmaster-General give to it his early and favorable attention?
– I do not know whether the Postmaster-General has had this matter brought to his attention or has himself realized that 25th April, 1965, will be the 50th anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli. I shall bring the honorable senator’s submissions to his notice and ask him to consider them if he has not already done so.
– Because of the interest that is being shown in the new decimal currency, will the Minister representing the Treasurer ask his colleague to consider having facsimiles of the new decimal coins made and arranging for them to bc suitably displayed in King’s Hall so that members of the Parliament and visiting members of the public may know what the coins will look like? So far we have been informed only of their content and approximate size.
– I shall bring the honorable senator’s suggestion to the notice of the Treasurer, who no doubt will send it to the Decimal Currency Board for examination. As the honorable senator might know, the Decimal Currency Board is now embarking upon a campaign to familiarize the Australian public with all aspects of the new currency. This is a suggestion which might well be considered by the board.
– Has the Minister for Health seen a report in to-day’s press from the United States of America that there is evidence that some of the people who had given up smoking are going back to it? Would the Minister agree that the educational campaign which he indicated would be carried out by Commonwealth and State authorities should be continuous? Would he say what progress is being made in the planning of this campaign?
– Human nature being as it is, I am afraid that we will always find that good resolutions are made to be broken. However, I should like the honorable senator to know that last month a conference of State health co-ordination committees was held to discuss ways and means of informing the public and warning against the danger of excessive smoking, having regard to the possibility of lung cancer. The warning was to be directed particularly to those of tender years. This conference was attended by representatives of the Department of Health. A report has been finalized and is now being studied by the department. When conclusions have been reached I shall have a look at them and let the Senate know in due course what we propose to do.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. Has his attention been directed to a recent statement by Mr. Anderson, the federal director of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia, advocating a lending plan based on tied loans to lesser-developed countries in Asia, Africa and South America, to help them buy Australian goods? Mr. Anderson is reported as having said that the Federal Government’s failure to provide tied loans - lending money to nations provided the money is used to buy Australian goods - left a serious gap in Australia’s technique of assisting export promotion. Is the Government examining this proposal?
– I do not recollect that particular statement from Mr. Anderson but 1 know that he has been a constant advocate of the Government’s stepping into this sphere of activity which is not free of complications. These things are not as easy to do as their proponents would have us to believe. Other steps have been taken such as extending insurance arrangements and providing credits in various directions, which the Government thinks will go a very long way towards achieving the result at which Mr. Anderson has aimed.
– My question to the Minister for Civil Aviation is supplementary to that asked by Senator Laught in respect of facilities available at Mangalore airport, which appears to be the only reasonable alternative airport to Essendon. How many times during the twelve months ended December, 1963, was Mangalore airport used as an alternative landing strip te Essendon? Will the Minister consider the provision of improved amenities at the Mangalore airport for passengers, who at present can obtain only tea or coffee and biscuits, and this only because of the voluntary help of stranded air hostesses who not only become waitresses but, in addition, undertake the washing up of all cups and saucers? Will modern refuelling systems for all types of aircraft likely to use Mangalore airport be installed in the immediate future? Other than as an alternative to Essendon airport, what use is made of Mangalore? ls the Minister able to inform the Senate whether it is considered by the Department of Civil Aviation that the proposed airport at Tullamarine in Victoria will lessen the dislocation of air services to or through Melbourne now experienced because of fog or other unsatisfactory weather conditions so often encountered at Essendon airport?
– I do not have in my head the number of times that Mangalore has been employed as an alternative for Melbourne during the period mentioned by the honorable senator. I shall find out and let him know. The honorable senator asked me whether I would be prepared to provide modern facilities at Mangalore. I presume he means modern facilities of the type now at Essendon airport or at any other modern airport. I suggest to the honorable senator that an alternative airport wherever it is is an alternative airport. As the amount of money available to the Department of Civil Aviation is not limitless, I cannot give him an undertaking that I shall divert to Mangalore moneys which would be more urgently required at other regular airports. I have taken note of the honorable senator’s point regarding tea and coffee. I can discern something of a deficiency there. Although Mangalore is put to other uses, the main purpose of its construction was to provide an alternative airport for Melbourne. The honorable senator has asked me whether, when Tullamarine is commissioned, there will be any improvement in respect of the dislocation of services that sometimes occurs at Melbourne. Unfortunately, my answer to that question is, “ no “. All the Department of Civil Aviation can do is provide good modern airports; it cannot control the weather.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister for National Development. Will he inform the Senate as to the progress made in the last few days towards implementing the report of the Coal Utilization Research Advisory Committee made to the Minister on 20th March, 1962, and approved by the Government, which recommended that the National Coal Research Council be constituted and that Australian coal industry research laboratories be established? Will the conclusions of the committee as to increased expenditure on research and development, namely, that expenditure should be increased by one-third of a million pounds per annum within three years - that is, from its report in March, 1962 - and that it be increased by £1,000,000 per annum within five years as from March, 1962, be acted upon?
Answering the last part of the question first, I am sure that even Senator Murphy will agree that research laboratories have to be established and the staff assembled before the money can be spent. The present arrangements contemplate an increase of £260,000 in money being spent on research on the present level of £800,000, which would take the amount up to a total expenditure of little over £1,000,000 in the first year. A very satisfactory discussion was held with State Ministers for Mines last Friday. As I have said previously in the Senate, the groundwork was well done. Sir Harold Raggatt, the secretary of my department, had been to most of the States and talked the position over with the State Ministers last Friday afternoon. We explained to them, in pretty fair detail, the organization that was proposed for the research programme. I think I would be close to correct in saying that the proposals were accepted without amendment. Some minor changes were made but, in general, the organization proposed was accepted.
This was a conference with Ministers for Mines only, but it is inherent in this research organization, not only that governments will be represented, but also that users of brown and black coal, such as the electricity supply companies, the steel companies and the gas companies will become parties to the arrangement, not only contributing funds but also having a say in the determination of the research programmes. The arrangements have been cleared with the State Ministers, and they will now meet representatives of industry. Endeavours are being made to hold a conference in the second week of May. So we have the project cleared at the governmental level and good spade work has been done at the industrial consumer level. We will have this second conference and then, I hope, we will be in a position to tie up the formalities and start the work. There is i great deal to be done. The coal industry has a very substantial investment in research laboratories, which it is proposed to transfer to this organization. Most of the States and many big industries have research programmes. The purpose of the exercise is not only to increase the total research programme but also to co-ordinate the work, so that what is done in one laboratory is complementary to what is Jone in another.
– I wish to ask a question of the Minister representing the Treasurer. The Government has decided to give assistance to a large proportion of the owners of cash registers, adding machines and accounting machines working on the basis of pounds, shillings and pence which will require conversion in order to be capable of operating under a decimal currency system. Does this decision cover the whole field of monetary machine conversion? Is it proposed to assist the owners of machines other than those I have mentioned? Has consideration been given, for instance, to assisting the owners of computing scales such as are used in butchers’ shops and delicatessens, or the owners of other such machines?
– The Decimal Currency Board has made preliminary investigations of adding machines, accounting machines and cash registers. It is now beginning a preliminary investigation of other forms of business machines, including calculating and weighing machines. However, this should not be taken to mean that compensation will necessarily be paid to the owners of these machines.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise. Has his attention been drawn to an article in the Adelaide “ Sunday Mail” of 18th April, under the heading.
All quiet after Government car talks “? “the article states, among other things -
There will be little (if any) change in the situation of individual companies for at least two years, until a full Tariff Board inquiry is completed and recommendations implemented.
The step-up in local content will apply over a 10-year period.
Further on the article states -
One of the reasons behind the tightening-up proposals was that at least two-
– Order! The honorable senator is giving information.
– The article makes an accusation against two unnamed motor car companies. It is alleged that they have not been playing the game in respect of paying duty on imported components of cars and that they are not keeping to the agreement that they entered into with the Government to build up the Australian content of their cars to 90 per cent. The article claims that at least two companies have each been manufacturing one car that has a 90 per cent. Australian content and have been bringing in component parts for other vehicles practically duty free.
– What is the question?
– I think the Minister understands it, even if the honorable senator does not. The two companies, by making one car with nine-tenths Australian component, are bringing in, practically free of tariff, component parts for their other vehicles. I ask the Minister: Is it true that there will be little if any change in the next few years? Will he name the two companies which, by dodging customs duties, have not been playing the game?
– I have not seen the article to which the honorable senator has referred. I know that quite recently, the Department of Customs and Excise and the Department of Trade and Industry had conferences with motor car manufacturers with the overall objective of raising the Australian manufactured content in Australian cars. I would be most surprised if it were true that the Department of Customs and Excise had been allowing any people to get away with failure to keep an agreement because part of the exercise is that, if they produce a certain percentage of parts for a car, they can import a certain percentage into Australia duty free. That is the agreement as I understand it. I am sure that the officers of the Department of Customs and Excise would want to be satisfied first that the agreement on the Australian content was adhered to before they would remit import duties. I have not seen the article and I do not want to see it now. If the honorable senator will put his question on the notice-paper, I will get the information he seeks but I would not believe it to be true that the position is as he has stated it to be.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Is it a fact that suppliers are experiencing an unprecedented demand for superphosphate in most States of Australia? In these circumstances, are any figures available concerning the anticipated subsidy the Commonwealth Government will pay on superphosphate in the current financial year?
– I do not think it would be correct to say that there is a shortage of superphosphate. The position is that the recently announced subsidy to be paid by the Commonwealth Government has stimulated tremendously the use of SUper.phospate, particularly in the grazing areas, and there has been some resultant delay in deliveries. That is not a matter of great concern at this stage because I believe the companies have plans in hand to meet all their requirements within a specified time. I do not know the figures sought by the honorable senator. I shall ask the Minister for Primary Industry to supply them if they are available.
– Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate read a report that the combined metropolitan councils in the Sydney area have found a source of supply of petrol for use in council activities at a price of ls. Id. sterling a gallon for 80 octane fuel? Is any protection guaranteed by the Government to oil companies which are evidently overcharging the Australian consumer at a rate between 3s. and 3s. 6d. a gallon? In view of the tremendous effect that this price reduction could have on costs of production generally, what is the Government’s attitude to this source of supply of petrol becoming generally available to the Australian market?
– I did see the newspaper report and read it with a great deal of interest but I am not able to vouch for its accuracy. The country of origin of the petrol is, of course, Soviet Russia. In general conversations representatives of oil refinery companies have complained to me that in other parts of the world they have had to contend with competition such as this. It is not commercial competition; it is political competition - so the oil companies claim. They say that certain countries export petrol at prices which are far below commercial prices for the purpose of disrupting industry in the countries that buy the petrol. I am unable to vouch for the accuracy of that, but the figures that have been cited to me as to the prices at which motor spirit from Russia is sold in Italy - one country that I remember - and in other countries, are really prices on which no commercial transaction could be based. I cannot answer any question about Government policy, for the long-established reason that Government policy is not dealt with in question and answer. These imports have not yet actually occurred. As is the case with events that are the subject of so many newspaper reports, they may never occur. I have no doubt that if that transaction did occur Australian refineries, being Australian industries, would have their remedy under the dumping and other legislation.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. To discount any belief that may be held that an inquiry by the Department of Civil Aviation into the incident in which a DC-6B aircraft was involved over Melbourne on 14th April could be to protect the operations of a private company which has had many favours from the present Government, will the Minister hold a public inquiry into this incident? Will the Minister fully explain how a pair of pliers, whether associated with the propeller or engine damage or not, could fall from an aircraft in flight? Can the Minister state when such pliers, reported by a resident to have landed from the particular aircraft, were last used on the aircraft, by whom, and for what purpose?
– There is no limit to the ends to which the senator will go to display his hatred of anything that is conducted by private enterprise. Let me deal first with the question of the pliers. It is true that fragments of the first blade of the propeller were picked up in one locality and that from the same locality a pair of pliers was handed in to the Department of Civil Aviation. There is as yet no evidence to indicate that this pair of pliers came from the aircraft. Indeed, my technical officers inform me that even if the pliers did come from the aircraft, falling as they did in the same locality as did the first blade of the propeller, they would not have had anything to do with the actual breaking away of the propeller itself.
In reply to a question asked by the honorable senator last week, I think, I made it perfectly plain that the inquiry would be complete and comprehensive. There is no reason - no reason at all - why it should not be. I have been handed a note to-day from my department in this connexion and I shall read it for the benefit of the Senate -
Preliminary expert investigation indicates that the DC-6B incident on 14th April was due to a fatigue crack in one propeller blade, which caused it to come away from the main propeller installation. The engine and propeller had been overhauled in December, 1963, and were operating within the prescribed safe hours for the installation. The cause of the fatigue crack is now being determined. It is expected that a complete report will be available within a few weeks.
It will not be available for a few weeks because the parts will go to the scientific laboratories for expert and complete examination. I can assure the honorable senator that when this report is made available the details of it will be made public.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Territories. Will the Minister make a statement to the Senate on the current position regarding the proposed resettlement of the people of Nauru? Is Curtis Island, off the Queensland coast, still the favoured site for the re-settlement? Have the people of Nauru indicated their views of this island as a re-settlement site?
– The honorable senator has raised questions of policy which I am not in a position to answer. I will refer the matter to my colleague to see whether there is any information that can now be made available.
– Has the
Minister for National Development seen a reported statement by the chairman of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority, Sir William Hudson, on water conservation prospects in Australia’s empty north wherein Sir William compared northern Australia with the western states of the United States of America at the beginning of this century? Would the Minister care to comment on Sir William’s statement that seventeen western states of the United States now carry 45,000,000 people at a high level of prosperity and that two-thirds of Australia’s water resources are north of the Tropic of Capricorn and almost awaiting the coming of science and engineering? Finally, can the Minister say whether any plans are being laid by the Government for more effective water conservation in Australia’s north?
- Sir William Hudson’s views on this subject are views that 1 have discussed with him on many occasions. He takes a very deep interest in the subject and is very knowledgeable upon it. The circumstances applying in the part of America referred to and those applying in Australia are different. In tropical northern Australia much work has yet to be done upon the practicability of agricultural development. As I think I said in the speech on the northern division of my department that 1 made in the Senate, we are, we believe, putting down the solid foundation that is absolutely essential to proper development. Through the Water Resources Council we are getting adequate measurements and adequate knowledge of our water resources. It is a sad commentary that not only in the north of Australia but in other parts of Australia as well we do not have the knowledge that we should have of our water resources. That is the importance of the Water Resources Council that was formed a couple of years ago and is now getting into its stride and doing effective work.
– I address my question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. In recent months did a Trans-Australia Airlines Viscount depart for Tasmania and return to Essendon airport because a passenger pointed out to an air hostess that fuel was flowing from one wing of the aircraft? Did the pilot feather two engines and return to Essendon? Was an inquiry held? Did the Australian Labour Party request that the inquiry be held in public and that the results be tabled in the Parliament?
– I have some recollection of the incident referred to by the honorable senator. I point out to the
Senate that incidents such as this - they arc known as incidents in the industry - do occur and are automatically followed by investigations by the department. They are not all made public, for the simple reason that not all of them are regarded as being of sufficient importance. The whole story of maintenance in the airlines business is a story of a check on anything that is the least bit out of order. If the newspapers or the records of the Parliament were to be cluttered with reports of all incidents, then I am afraid we would have to increase the size of the reporting staff of the Parliament. The newspapers would possibly have to increase their staffs. It is true that, on this occasion, although the incident, as I recall, did receive some publicity, there was no demand from the Labour Party or from the senator from South Australia, Senator Cavanagh, that the results of the investigation should be made public. That gives point to the matter I raised earlier this afternoon. There is no point to which Senator Cavanagh will not go to try to discredit anything connected with private enterprise.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. In his remarks at the opening of a women’s conference in Canberra yesterday the Prime Minister stated that all women proposing to stand as candidates for Federal and State parliaments should have a firm knowledge and understanding of the functions and structure of the Australian parliamentary system as well as those of other countries. Does the Prime Minister consider that men candidates require the same political knowledge and that in all cases good citizenship should be the main criterion for those seeking public office?
– I do not think that the Prime Minister would have had in his mind the idea that different qualifications were required by women candidates and men candidates. He was addressing an audience of women and I think he said to that audience just what he would have said to an audience of men.
– I address my question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. I remind the Minister that during the last three weeks the Senate has been debating at length the report of the Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television, which has received general support from both sides of the chamber. Is the Minister aware that the Senate’s deliberations have been reported at some length in the British newspapers? Is he aware also that, with two exceptions, the Australian newspapers have virtually boycotted the Senate debate? ls the Minister able to suggest any valid reason for such a boycott? Does he agree that this suppression is a form of censorship, to which most Australian newspapers express their opposition?
– I do not know whether this is so much a matter of a boycott by the newspapers as what I might describe as a lack of enterprise in publicising some of the stimulating speeches that were heard, particularly from the Government side of the chamber, in the television debate. This is a question that one cannot answer off the cuff. The implication of the question is that the newspapers have a vested interest in television and, therefore, are loath to publish anything that is critical of television. I cannot subscribe entirely to that point of view. I find that the newspapers generally seize on anything that is controversial and that will make headlines, regardless of whether it is in their own particular corner or not. I will bring the honorable senator’s question to the notice of my colleague, the Postmaster-General and see whether he has any light to throw on this profound mystery.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Has the Minister heard of an emergency landing which was made recently by a helicopter in Victoria? Will he congratulate the pilot and the passenger of the helicopter on their initiative in having an alternative means of transport - a motor car - travelling along the road nearby, which was a very wise precaution in view of the weather conditions?
– The forced landing of an Ansett-A.N.A. helicopter on 20th April was due to a mechanical defect in the engine, and the cause of this defect is being investigated by the Department of Civil Aviation. The pilot demonstrated outstanding skill in executing a safe emergency landing.
– I direct a question to the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Is the C.S.I.R.O. undertaking research into the possibility of evolving economic means of dispersing fog from the runways of the main capital city aerodromes, particularly at Essendon and Canberra? Is any scientific organization in the Western world undertaking such research? Is it not a fact that the introduction of Fog Investigation Dispersal Operation, or Fido, which was a war-time means of clearing fog in emergencies from airport runways, would be completely uneconomical in Australia?
– The only part of the honorable senator’s question which I can answer is that referring to the use of Fido, which involved the burning of a certain type of material over the runways in order to disperse fog. That method would be completely uneconomic in Australia and, I should think, in any other part of the world. I seem to remember that I answered a question along these lines quite some time ago. I do not know of research into the dispersal of fog over our runways that the C.S.I.R.O. is undertaking, but I do know that Fido would be uneconomic.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Customs and Excise a question. As the disposal of the record crop of wine grapes grown this year in South Australia was only achieved by forming a co-operative company to re-open a closed and obsolete processing plant in order to store the grape juice, and as all wineries have their storage capacities full and have stocks in excess of annual sales, will the Minister consider reducing or lifting the duty on Australian wines and brandies to increase consumption and assist in providing a market for next year’s crop?
– Some nine years ago, when there was a record crop and also a record carry-over of grapes in Australia, the position was met, in the way the honorable senator suggested, by a reduction in the excise on brandy. It took nine years for real benefit to flow to the industry. This year, in South Australia only, there is a surplus of grapes. I have had representations made to me by people engaged in the industry. The Government is examining the position at the present time. I shall not anticipate what may happen, but an answer to this problem will be provided very shortly.
– A TransAustralia Airlines aircraft on a regular flight from Sydney to Melbourne this morning experienced an irregularity with its under carriage extension gear. It was feared for a while that the landing gear could not be lowered, but the irregularity was corrected in flight by the operating crew, and the aircraft carried out a normal landing.
– I ask a question of either the Minister representing the Attorney-General or the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. I preface my question by pointing out to the chamber that the case in Melbourne known as Miss Phillips versus the Postmaster-General, with which, I think, every Victorian member of the Parliament is familiar, has now been decided. Will the Minister lay on the table the file relating to the case of Miss Phillips so that it can be perused by the Leader and the Deputy Leader of the Australian Labour Party?
– I have been informed that the Attorney-General is probably the Minister who should give an answer to the question. If it is placed on the noticepaper, I shall ask the Attorney-General to reply to it.
(Question No. 13.)
asked the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice -
– In answer to the honorable senator’s question, on visible trade with mainland China the Commonwealth Statistician has provided the following information: -
With regard to services, the Commonwealth Statistician advises that the only major item in Australia’s invisible trade with mainland China is freight on Australian imports from that country. This amounted to approximately £500,000 during the period. It will be appreciated, however, that this amount reflects shipping services purchased from international carriers not necessarily mainland China.
(Question No. 37.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Housing, upon notice -
– The Minister for Housing has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
(Question No. 74.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The Minister for Defence has furnished the following answers: -
(Question No. 75.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The Minister for Immigration has furnished the following replies: -
(Question No. 87.)
asked the Minister for Works, upon notice -
– The reply is as follows: -
(Question No. 97.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The Minister for Territories has supplied the following answers: -
– by leave - The statement which I am about to read is the same as that made in another place on Thursday last, 16th April, by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) on behalf of the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen). For the information of honorable senators I propose to present to the Senate on behalf of the Minister for Trade and Industry an exchange of letters between representatives of the Government of Australia and the Government of the United Kingdom which constitute an agreement on cereals and cereal by-products. This new agreement is of considerable importance in several respects and I propose therefore to outline briefly its background and its main provisions.
The agreement is the outcome of negotiations between the United Kingdom and its principal suppliers of cereals - Canada, the United States, Australia and Argentina. The negotiations followed an announcement early last year by the British Government that it proposed to make certain changes in its agricultural policy. With regard to cereals the stated objectives of the proposed changes were to promote greater stability in the United Kingdom cereals market and to maintain a fair and reasonable balance between home production and imports. It was the view of the British Government that to achieve these objectives it was necessary first to introduce measures to discourage domestic cereals production from increasing beyond a predetermined level and, secondly, to prevent unduly low priced imports from undermining the British market.
The measures which the British propose to introduce as from 1st July next will, if effective, represent something of a balance of advantages to the countries concerned. On the one hand, the foreign suppliers will benefit from the limitation on the level of support given British farmers and the protection against heavily subsidized supplies which have been dumped on the British market from time to time in the past. In turn, the supplying countries have voluntarily agreed to the imposition of levies on wheat and other cereals offered for sale in the British market below an agreed schedule of minimum import prices. In the case of Australia, this represents a significant waiver of our contractual right of duty-free entry into the British market.
Honorable senators will be aware that for many years the British Government has pursued what it has described as an open market policy for cereals. Imports of wheat and other grains have been permitted to come in freely subject only to the payment of a modest duty in the case of imports of flour and coarse grains from non-Commonwealth countries. At the same time, British farmers received by way of deficiency payment or subsidy the difference between the average market price and the guaranteed price on their entire production. The guaranteed price was determined annually. Under this system there was no limit to the financial liability of the British Government because every ton of cereals production attracted the subsidy payment. In 1963 the deficiency payment to British cereal farmers had risen to £77,000,000 sterling.
A major purpose of the new arrangements for cereals was to place some limit on the extent of the British Government’s financial liability to its farmers. The new system contains two distinct types of disincentive to increased British production. In the first place, pre-determined levels of production or standard quantities have been set for wheat and barley. In the first year, 1964-65, the standard quantity for wheat has been set at 3,300,000 tons and for barley 6,500,000 tons at guaranteed prices of £26 10s. sterling and £26 13s. 4d. sterling respectively. In the event that these standard quantities are exceeded, the return to farmers will be decreased proportionately to the excess of actual production over the standard quantity levels. For example, if the actual production of wheat were to be 4,000,000 tons, farmers would be entitled to receive only 33/40ths of the subsidy payment.
The second prong of the disincentive mechanism relates to the determination of the level of the subsidy payment. Up to the present, British farmers have received as a subsidy payment the full difference between the guaranteed price and the average market price. It is proposed to introduce, however, a new concept known as the target indicator price which in layman’s language can be described as an estimate of what the average market price would be if domestic production were no greater than the standard quantity. For 1964-65 the target indicator price has been set at £20 sterling per ton for wheat and £19 sterling per ton for barley. When production exceeds the standard quantity the subsidy payment to farmers will be the difference between the guaranteed price and the target indicator price. In other words, in circumstances when actual production exceeds the standard quantity - and when the likelihood is that prices of British wheat will fall below £20 per ton - there could be a considerable drop in the return per ton to British farmers. This second aspect of the British scheme should assist in bolstering prices on the United Kingdom market as British farmers will be discouraged from selling their cereals at prices below the target indicator price.
A full description of the new system of restraint of financial assistance to domestic producers is set out in the British “ White Paper on the Annual Review of the Economic Circumstances of the Agricultural Industry for 1964-65”. However, in the case of wheat, for example, the system will work roughly as follows: If actual production in 1964-65 is 4,000,000 tons, compared to the standard quantity, of 3,300,000 tons, and the average market price is only £19 sterling per ton, compared to the target indicator price of £20 sterling per ton, the support payment to farmers will be only £5 7s. 3d. sterling as compared with £7 10s. under the present system. This figure of £5 7s. 3d. is arrived at by taking the difference between the target indicator price of £20 and the guaranteed price of £26 10s., which is a difference of £6 10s., and by then taking 33/40ths of £6 10s. because production is 4,000,000 tons instead of the standard quantity of 3,300,000 tons. The end result is that the farmer’s return is £24 7s. 3d., made up of the market price of £19 plus a subsidy of £5 7s. 3d. This compares with the return of £26 10s. which he would receive under the present open-ended quarantee system.
I might remark that in the negotiations we were concerned to ensure that the standard quantity for wheat was not set so high relative to barley as to encourage an expansion of wheat production which, of course, would be prejudicial to our main cereals trade in the British market. It is impossible at this stage, of course, to say how effective the new system of disincentives will be on production. However, it represents a significant breakthrough in that, after many years, the British Government has faced up to the problem of unlimited protection of its domestic agriculture and all that this has meant in terms of reduced access and lower prices for its traditional suppliers such as Australia. The domestic arrangements which I have briefly described are to be complemented by a system of minimum import prices for cereals and cereal byproducts. The minimum import price arrangements proposed by the British are, of course, an important departure from the open market system which has applied in the past. Since the British Government proposes to enforce minimum import prices by the use of levies on shipments made at prices below those prescribed, the new system required a willingness on the part of Australia and the other major exporters to the United Kingdom market to waive their existing rights of entry free of duty or at prescribed rates of duty.
From the outset the United Kingdom has had very much in mind its responsibilities as a major cereal importing country, its international obligations, and the need to ensure that any new measures introduced were consistent with more comprehensive arrangements which might emerge from the current negotiations in Geneva in the context of the Kennedy Round of trade negotiations. The British Government accordingly sought the co-operation of the governments of those countries which are major exporters of cereals to the British market. The Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) has been closely involved in the discussions and the Australian delegation to the negotiations which were held in London earlier this year included the chairman of the Australian Wheat Board, the president of the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation and a representative of the flour industry.
The agreement reached with Australia is identical with those entered into with the other exporting countries except insofar as has been necessary to take into account the special rights enjoyed by Australia under our bilateral trade agreement with Britain. The main provision of the new cereals agreement is that imports of major cereals will be subject to a levy if imported at prices below those prescribed. I shall table a copy of the minimum prices for 1964-65. It. will be noted that the mim i mum import price for Australian wheat is to be £24 1 Os. sterling per ton c.i.f., United Kindom. This price is slighly above the minimum price for Australian wheat under the present International Wheat Agreement but it is considerably below the price of £27 7s. 6d. sterling per ton currently ruling for Australian wheat on the British market. The minimum prices for wheat from other countries are likewise slightly higher than the relevant minimum prices under the International Wheat Agreement but below current prices. The minimum price for Australian barley and Australian oats is £20 sterling per ton c.i.f., United Kingdom.
It must be emphasized that the minimum prices are intended only as floor prices and they do not purport to represent an optimum level of prices or the level of prices which would be hoped to be negotiated in the cereals group of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. The basic objective of the minimum import price system is to prevent prices in the United Kingdom market from being depressed to uneconomic levels. The system is not intended to raise the level of prices generally and in normal circumstances it is expected that world prices would be higher than the minimum import prices specified in the agreement. However, at times the actual price at which wheat has been sold to the British market has been less than the proposed floor price. This is particularly true of European milling wheats for which a minimum has been set at £22 10s. sterling per ton c.i.f. On a number of occasions in the past, European milling wheats have been dumped on the British market and traditional suppliers such as Australia have been forced to follow prices down or to refrain from selling and losing the market to heavily subsidized or dumped wheat. The introduction of floor prices should therefore provide somewhat greater stability in future and protection against inroads into the British market by dumped or subsidized wheat.
With regard to flour, the minimum import price arrangements vary according to the circumstances under which flour is exported from each of the main supplying countries. The objective of the new arrangements is to secure equity as between the various flour suppliers to the United Kingdom and to ensure that low-priced flour cannot defeat the objective of the minimum prices for wheat. The separate flour arrangement for Australia should safeguard the interests of the Australian flour trade.
The British Government has also undertaken to consult and to take prompt and effective corrective action if the introduction of the new measures fails to permit the total volume of cereals imports, including flour, to be maintained at a level not appreciably less than the average level in a recent representative base period. Further the minimum import price arrangements will be subject to annual review. The agreement may be terminated by either Government giving not less than four months’ notice in writing. Moreover, it is understood that any measures shall be terminated in so far as it is mutually agreed that they may be inconsistent with or be superseded by the provisions of a more comprehensive international arrangement to which both the United Kingdom and Australia become parties.
Honorable senators will be aware that as part of the totality of the so-called Kennedy Round of trade negotiations a group of countries comprising the major grain importers and exporters has been given the task of negotiating improved conditions of access to world markets and thereby expanding world trade in cereals. The Australian Government places great importance on the work of this group. We regard the British proposals as useful interim measures incorporating new techniques which may be capable of suitable adaptation into more comprehensive international arrangements.
The Australian Government has made it clear that its acceptance of the British arrangements is on the basis that the proposed minimum import price system would not in any way affect the provisions of Article 6 of our present trade agreement with the United Kingdom. Article 6 relates to the United Kingdom undertaking to purchase 750,000 tons of Australian wheat including the wheat equivalent of flour annually. It has been agreed by Britain that Article 6 shall continue in force until our trade agreement is reviewed. In addition we have retained the preferences which Australia presently enjoys in the United Kingdom market in respect of flour, barley and oats. The agreement specifically covers this aspect and provides that should the preferences be eroded in practice the British Government will take effective corrective action.
As noted earlier, I think that this cereals agreement with the United Kingdom can be described as a practical arrangement with a balance of advantages to the various countries concerned. It will bring to an end the open ended system of support which for many years has been enjoyed by British farmers to the detriment of traditional suppliers. The advantages to be derived from this change of policy and the safeguards against undulylow priced imports implicit in the minimum import price arrangements are balanced by exporters voluntarily agreeing to some limitations on their conditions of access to the British market. We are hopeful, moreover, that the administrative techniques developed by the British Government to implement its new cereals policy are capable of extension into more comprehensive arrangements with enhanced prospects of improved access to world markets and more stable and remunerative prices. I present the following papers: -
Cereals Agreement between Australia and United Kingdom -
Exchange of letters, dated 15th April, 1964. between Australia and the United Kingdom constituting the Agreement.
Schedule of minimum import prices of wheat and course grains and certain cereal products and by-products.
Ministerial Statement, 16th April, 1964.
I ask for leave to propose a motion.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
Motion (by Senator Sir William Spooner) proposed -
That the Senate take note of the papers.
Debate (on motion by Senator Kennedy) adjourned.
Motion for Appointment of Select Committee.
Debate resumed from 16th April (vide page 739), on motion by Senator Wright -
That the bill be referred, for consideration and report, to a select committee consisting of seven senators to be appointed in a subsequent resolution:
That such committee have power to send for persons, papers and records, and to move from place to place;
That the committee report to the Senate on or before the 10th May, 1964.
– Mr. Deputy President, Senator Wright has submitted a motion for the appointment of a select committee to consider this bill and he suggests that the committee present its report to the Senate on or before 10th May, 1964. I think I am right in saying that the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) stated that one of his main objections to Senator Wright’s proposal was that he wanted the bill to be passed by a certain date. It amazes me to learn that he requires it in such haste. I asked him whether there was anything in the present act that in any way prevented the existing board from carrying out the requirements of the United States Government and the American cattlemen with respect to hygiene, types and grading of meat, packaging and the honouring of any agreements between the two Governments, and I am informed very reliably that there is nothing at all in the existing act that would prevent the present board from performing such functions. Therefore, time, to my mind does not become a factor in this matter.
There are many reasons why this bill should be referred to a select committee. It is a most important measure. It deals with an important industry. I understand that the total exports of meat from Australia last year were valued at about £108,000,000. Therefore, the meat industry is essential to Australia and, ofcourse, to the people engaged in it. I fail to see why the present bill has been launched before the producers themselves unanimously agree to its provisions. We find that that is not so at the moment. The constitution of the Australian Meat Board is to be altered. This body now consists of twelve members. The new board is to have nine members. Persons interested in the pig meats industry will not be concerned with the proposed new board because the Minister has explained in his second-reading speech that they are considering the establishment of their own board. So, I cannot see how the Minister can claim with justification that the existing board is unwieldy.
I am interested to have the bill investigated so that we can find out all the reasons why the change is proposed. For instance, I should like to know why the public abattoirs are to be denied representation on the new board and, more important than anything else, why the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union has been refused a representative on it. That organization has had a member on the existing board for many years. Let me say to the Minister, with some knowledge of the men who are in control of the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union, that if there is one industry in which we want peace to be preserved it is this industry. Fortunately, we have had industrial peace for a number of years. The last big trouble was when the method of slaughtering was changed from the solo system to what is now known as the chain system. One cannot say that this is an industry in which most people would like to work, although many are employed in it.
– There is jolly good money in it.
– With great respect, Mr. Deputy President, one could say - I hope I am not using a word that 1 should not use - that it is a bloody industry. Thi..-e is a tremendous lot of blood about it. lt, is true that the employees in this industry are reasonably well paid. I do not know whether i.y fri.. d . Senator Morris does not want them to be well paid. However, this is not an industry that one would prefer one’s lad to enter if he could learn a trade that was more congenial. It is a big industry. I was surprised when I heard Senator Murphy say that it employs 40,000 people, and I took the trouble to check that statement. I find that the number of employees in the industry throughout Australia - they are not all on the export side - is 41,000.
I say with great respect, and without wishing to hurt any one. that it is stupid to reduce the representation on a board such as this. There is no point to be gained by doing so. Any one who has had any experience of settling industrial disputes knows that the thing to do is to keep the parties talking. If the parties are separated, in different rooms, it becomes impossible to settle a dispute. What is most important to the industry and to the nation is to keep the peace, and one of the best ways of doing that is to give representation to all concerned. Surely the representatives who are to be taken off the board did not cause any trouble when they were a part of it. If the Government or its advisers believe that, without a reduction in the membership, certain people in certain States will get on to the board, I can assure them that those people will not nominate. In one State at least there is a Communist secretary of the meat industry employees union, and I understand that some individuals belonging to some of the producer organizations mentioned in the bill have been going around Victoria saying, “ You cannot have these people represented on the board because a Communist secretary of the union is likely to be the union’s nominee “. I can assure the Senate that that will not happen.
I do not agree with the Minister that a board of eleven is much more unwieldy than a board of nine. The Minister now wants a board of nine, and there were twelve members of the old board. The pig meat industry is not at all interested in this board, so the elimination of a representative of that industry would bring the number of members down to eleven. This is a matter on which the proposed select committee could bring down a report. I do not know whether the Minister reads the “Sydney Morning Herald”, but on 16th April it published a very interesting article on employee representation on boards and even on directorates. The article stated that Mr. Short, the secretary of the Federated Ironworkers Association of Australia, would be visiting West Germany for two weeks and that he was particularly i.erested in looking at the “ co-determination “ laws in West Germany. The article went on to spy -
The laws provided that companies controlling industry had to have one-third of the board of management union representatives, he said.
No one is asking for that in t- .is instance. Some of the representatives or the old board have been on it for quite a number of years, and that is one aspect which I think should be investigated.
Let us look at the constitution of the board. The new Meat Board will be constituted mainly of representatives nominated by the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. They will wholly control the board. It is true that those two organizations represent the majority of the meat producers of the nation, but there are other organizations that represent what one could call a large minority. Senator Wright did not champion the cause of the Australian Primary Producers Union, but I understand that that organization represents about 20 per cent. of the producers in this industry. What chance have they of any representation on this board? During his secondreading speech the Minister said -
The requests for membership on the board by the A.P.P.U. and the Australian Dairy Farmers Federation have received full consideration by the Government but it is the Government’s policy that the meat board should not be an organizational board.It is therefore not prepared to agree to direct representation for the A.P.P.U. or any other organization on the board.
Let us face the facts. Whether the Minister likes it or not, the producer representation on the board will be nominated by two big organizations. The Minister said, further - 1 confidently expect that shortly the A.P.P.U. will receive membership of that industry body.
He was speaking of the Wool Industry Conference -
Similarly in the case of the Meat Board Selection Committee, the Government feels that the matter should be resolved by negotiation between the A.P.P.U. and the other two organizations.
Surely the Minister does not wish to convey the idea that the A.P.P.U. has any chance of getting representation on either body, and particularly on this one. Clause 8 of the Meat Industry Bill states - (1.) The Board shall consist of nine members, namely: -
I understand that they will be selected from a panel by the two large organizations I have mentioned. There will be two members to represent the Australian meat exporters and one member to represent the Commonwealth. If I were a member of one of the two main organizations, I would be surprised if they went outside their own membership to select a representative. Surely the Government does not think that is likely to happen. It is possible, of course, that a farmer or a producer might be a member of the A.P.P.U. and of some other organization as well.
I think that an organization with 20 per cent. of producers in its membership should have at least one representative on the board. 1 do not think it right that the whole board should be handed over to the two organizations. They will have five of the nine places on the Australian Meat Board. We who are used to numbers know that you never require more than that proportion to hold control. In this case, what the two big organizations want they will automatically get by a decision of the board. There will be no effective opposition.
Then we have the position of the dairy farmers. I understand that at present we are exporting two classes of meat to the United States of America. One class - let us hope - is prime. The other is not so prime. The not so prime beef is used for hamburgers. I do not imply for one moment that the dairymen have nothing but culls to export but no doubt many culls go into the export business for the hamburger trade. I do not think there is any hope of dairymen having a representative on the board. There is another reason why the bill should be reconsidered: I believe that if an exporter is refused an export licence, he should have the right of appeal. If he thinks he has suffered an injustice, what is wrong with allowing him an appeal?
I do not think any one will argue against the proposition that no levy should be approved unless this Parliament makes the decision. The Australian Meat Board will be controlled by the representatives of two organizations and I do no think we should give the board the power to levy any amount it desires. In his second-reading speech, the Minister for Health suggested that the levy would be 5s. a head on cattle and 6d. a head on sheep andlambs. He said this would provide an industry contribution of about £1,700,000 and added -
For the purposes of comparison, it is mentioned that in 1962-63 the amounts collected from the meat export charge and the beef research levy were £219,100 and £460,000 respectively.
– The 5s. levy is not a firm proposal.
– I read what the Minister stated in a hurry. Perhaps I did not understand it correctly. But he based his figures on a levy of 5s. The main reason why the bill should receive further consideration is that this is a vitally important industry. It is important to the nation and to those who are engaged in it. I cannot see why there is any need for rush. The Government first considered the proposal about October last and announced that it wanted the bill to be passed by 26th April. I do not think any one in the Senate is opposed to the bill but a number of us want to make machinery alterations to it.
There has been an implication that our relations with the United States of America might be affected. The United States Government commits more bills to select committees than does any other country. Its Senate select committees are world renowned. The main purpose of the Senate of Australia is, when necessary, to spend time on legislation. It might be said that the bill has been in the Senate for a few days. But this meat industry is of vital importance and to delay the bill will not affect the industry adversely. The legislation already on the statute-book does all that is required of it and there will be no dire results if this bill is delayed.
I hope the Government will give some thought to a deferment. Recently a Senate select committee inquired into matters of vital importance and furnished an excellent report. A committee should not take long to consider this bill and I think we should do as the mover of the motion has requested. If an inquiry is held, the result will be a far better bill, lt not only will help the industry but also will show those who want to buy our meat that we have done all we could in the interests of all concerned. I again appeal to the Minister to have another look at the proposal. 1 do not think any harm will result if the Government agrees to it.
.- As a very new senator, I have tried to pay a little more attention to the debate which has taken place, and particularly to study the variation in procedures from anything of which I have had experience. Consequently, 1 listened with quite considerable interest to the suggestion that was made by
Senator Wright that the bill be referred to a select committee. This is a procedure with which we were not familiar where I operated previously. Other honorable senators, specially Senator Willesee and Senator Kennelly, have supported the suggestion. The main burden of what they have said is that nothing will be lost and possibly a deal will be gained by referring the bill to a select committee.
I should like to deal with that suggestion for a few minutes, prefacing what I shall say by just making the comment that because of the interest which I have just expressed I spent most of the week-end examining this question and trying to catch up with my own knowledge of the industry in Queensland, especially over the last couple of months, because I have been somewhat out of touch with it. I have tried to summarize the arguments that have been raised. Senator Wright queried the urgency of the legislation. Indeed, he questioned also the propriety of an immediate decision on five or six of the very important matters involved. He referred on two or three occasions to the time element, as did Senator Kennelly this afternoon.
My own belief is that the facts, as far as one can collect them’, strongly support the argument that was advanced by the Minister for Health (Senator Wade). It will be remembered that he told us on Thursday that the United States of America Tariff Commission will, on 26th April, 1964, commence an inquiry into the effect of imports on United States cattle prices, which must be reported on before 30th June. There are facts which I think we must regard very seriously. The Minister again spoke later in his address of the urgency of this matter, and he reminded us that it was important that the bill be finalized without too much delay.
I think that I can give some interesting background information in regard to this urgency. I have here a photostat of a letter signed by Senator Paul Douglas, of the United States Senate. Just to identify this gentleman, let me say that he is a member of the United States Senate Committee on Banking and Currency, and also chairman of the Joint Economic Committee of both Houses. That is, I think, an indication that he is regarded as a particularly good authority.
Otherwise, he would not hold those important positions. In addition, he is a senator from Illinois which is, to the best of my recollection from my reading, about the sixth largest beef State in the U.S.A. At least, it is a very substantial producer in this field.
He wrote two letters in March, 1964, that is, last month, in relation, to the problems which were troubling quite a number of persons within his electorate. 1 have the two letters but I do not intend to read one of them because it is not particularly pertinent. I mention it, though, and 1 have it here should anybody care to see it, because it does serve to identify Senator Douglas even more than does the second letter from which I intend to quote. 1 shall leave out two or three paragraphs of the letter which I shall read, because they have no relevancy. The letter was sent to his constituents within the past month. Let us bear in mind that Illinois is a very large beef State. The letter reads -
During the last few weeks I have received so many letters and telegrams either for or against proposals in the Congress to place quotas on the imports of meat that 1 am forced to reply by means of this one letter to each of you.
I leave out one paragraph, which is not relevant. The letter goes on -
He then explains why, and the letter goes on -
Another bill, S.J. Res. 71, directing the Federal Trade Commission . . .
This is the important part of it - . . to investigate chainstore practices which may violate Ihe antitrust laws, pertains to the charge small farmers and others have made that the very large food chains are going into the cattle business. Hearings on (he bill have not yet resulted in its being sent to the Senate floor by the Committee on Commerce.
I shall leave out another paragraph which is irrelevant. The letter continues -
I am receiving letters from small farmers asking why they have to sell cattle for twenty cents to twenty-two cents and why they are not getting a fair share in the national income.
I assume that he is there referring to the price per lb. He continues -
I am taking part in studies in the Joint Economic Committee of which 1 am Chairman, showing that for our state and nation to prosper we must mantain and increase our foreign markets. Although we have the right to apply reasonable criteria on importation of commodities, we also expect and demand that our shipments will not be unduly restricted in foreign commerce. There is great danger that some of the restrictions urged would have the effect of paralysing our international trade. In a recent year, business firms in Illinois exported 1.4 billion dollars in manufactured products to foreign countries, placing Illinois second in the nation. Illinois also ranks high in the export of agricultural products, exceeding 350 million dollars annually. Nationally, about 20 per cent, of our total agricultural production is exported.
I should like honorable senators to listen to this -
If we place strict duties on the importation of meat and meat products, these countries will almost surely retaliate and Illinois farmers and business will be hurt.
Our administration is working with these problems. The Department of Agriculture has recently announced a stepped-up meat procurement for various programs. The Department of Stale is asking other nations to adhere to voluntary, com.monsense arrangements on the amount of meat exported to the United States and some progress has been made. World trade conferences are continuously being held, and our delegates are working hard to protect our interests. Of course, I am greatly concerned. I shall continue to study the question from every angle and to give earnest consideration to the testimony and committee reports and the legislation in the final form in which it is submitted to the full Senate.
Then he continues wilh a personal message. That is not a letter written to me for use in this chamber, but a letter written by a very influential senator regarding the very problem we are now considering. He has referred to the Tariff Commission hearing to which our Minister referred, which he has said is to commence on the 26th of this month and the report from which must be finalized and submitted by 30th June. If any stronger argument than that used by the Minister is needed to show that there is some urgency for our passing this bill, provided it is a correct bill, I ask honorable senators to take cognizance of the facts that I have given. I cannot agree that we can lightly say: “There is no urgency. This is not something that we must do now. This is a measure that we can examine and postpone for weeks, or for a couple of months if necessary “. I cannot subscribe to that view, and I am giving my reasons why I cannot.
I also cannot accept the suggestion made by Senator Wright when he said - these are roughly the words he used - “ As the proposal to raise a levy is not in question, whether we pass this bill or not we will not be handicapping our representatives in America “. I cannot accept that, because later in his speech Senator Wright raised certain questions - quite proper questions, too - regarding the levy. He was questioning both the method of imposing the levy and the quantum of the levy. Therefore, it is no good to say that our representatives, having heard .from most members of the Parliament that they support this bill and the levy, will not have their hands tied.
We must remember that the United States House of Representatives and Senate operate very differently from the basis on which we operate. Frequently legislation in America is not considered from the point of view of party opinion; it is frequently decided on the persona] opinions of the various representatives in tie Congress. I had a most dramatic example of that a couple of years ago when I was introducing into the Queensland Parliament a bill to permit the establishment of an oil refinery in that State. Naturally, the American people who were interested in the company concerned were also interested in the debate, so they came into the House and listened to it all. The bill had a noisy reception. The Americans listened with considerable distress and then they said: “ There seems to be a great deal of opposition to this bill. I doubt very much whether the Government will get it through “. I said, “ I assure you that we will “. They were people experienced in parliamentary debates, yet because of the methods used in their country they had grave doubts whether we could carry the bill in view of the opposition to it. I submit that that same mental attitude will apply in America concerning this legislation. If there is much opposition to the levy - either to the method or the quantum - the Americans will take that opposition quite seriously. I am perfectly certain of that. So I feel I must discount, in my own mind, the point that was raised by Senator Wright.
The next point I want to raise concerns the way in which Senator Wright rapidly changed the date for the report of the select committee from some time in August to 10th May. Obviously that was done in an effort to be co-operative and to have the report ready in time to assist our delegation in America. However, when one looks at the date now suggested one feels that on that basis alone we cannot accept the motion. The date suggested, 10th May, is only three weeks away. Whilst I have not a great deal of experience and knowledge of the operations of Senate select committees, what I have learnt indicates to me that although no doubt there would be a great effort to finalize the hearings of this select committee, it would probably not be possible in the time available to assemble the people who would be required to give evidence and to go through the entire processes of a select committee. For that reason, apart from the others that I have already advanced, I can see no sound reason for supporting the motion that is before us.
The next point emphasized by the mover of the motion was the need for safeguards in regard to export licences. Of course, no member of this chamber would disagree that, wherever possible, we should provide, by some means or other, some type of appeal against arbitrary action by any particular body, whether it is a statutory body or whatever it is. I remind honorable senators that the Minister told us quite clearly that this matter would be covered by an amendment he intended to move. I do not know the basis of that amendment, but I have sufficient confidence in the Minister to believe that what he said will bc done will in fact be done. At all events, we can wait and see what the amendment is, and then if we are unhappy we can debate it in committee.
Another aspect that is worth bearing in mind in relation to this question of a select committee is the consideration that this matter has had before, and by whom. It has been considered by quite a number of people, but I refer specifically to the fact that all of the principles contained in the bill were considered by our own Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) and by the Ministers from each of the States. These principles have been unanimously approved by the seven Ministers responsible for this particular type of administration. We cannot say that those Ministers constituted a select commitete, but I think it would be mighty hard to get a more qualified body to consider this matter. I think we should take a great deal of notice of the unanimous decision that has been arrived at by those seven Ministers.
Another reason for suggesting that this measure should be referred to a select committee related to representation on the board and the selection committee. In particular, the Australian Primary Producers Union was mentioned. I do not know this organization. It is not operative in Queensland, but that does not make any difference to my way of thinking.
I do not suppose there has ever been a board appointed anywhere without a great deal of agitation during the passage of the
Relevant bill for the inclusion of some people or the exclusion of other people. While human nature remains as it is, there never will be a proposal to form a board which is unanimously accepted by the people before the measure becomes law. Finally, when it does become law, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred everybody is perfectly satisfied. I am sure that will be the position in regard to this bill. This is an industry in which we arc all interested, but those who are vitally interested are the producers, the processors and the exporters. Had any of those people been excluded from the board, I probably would have been unhappy with the bill myself, but as they are included, I think it is a reasonably well-based and wellrounded board. Therefore, I think that most people will accept the set-up of the board as soon as the bill becomes law.
I turn now to the trading powers of the board. I am dealing with these points not necessarily in the order in which they were mentioned by the mover of the motion and the other honorable senators who have spoken on the measure, but as the points have fitted in with my own thoughts. I say frankly that if there is any one of the principles governing the establishment of the board which has given me cause for concern it is that relating to trading powers. I have thought a great deal about this matter. I recognize that this principle was adopted by the Chifley Government back in the 1940’s. It was removed from the act, I understand, in 1953, and some people are now unhappy that it is again included. Mr. President, we must remember that the meat industry of 1940, 1945 and 1953 was entirely different from the meat industry of 1964. In those years there was almost universally a great deal of pessimism in regard to the future of the industry. It was not a good industry economically and it was not an industry in which a great deal of money was being earned. Certainly the industry employed a lot of people. It was of wonderful value to the country in that regard, but economically to the individual it was not the industry that it is to-day.
I repeat what I said in my speech during the second-reading stage: There are some people who even to-day are pessimistic about the future of the meat industry, but I cannot see any foundation for that pessimism. As I said earlier, I believe that by 1970 there will be a world shortage of beef. I think that even to-day the situation is completely and unbelievably different from what it was twelve months ago. To-day if we wish we can sell beef - and I am referring mainly to beef - in France, Italy, Great Britain, Japan and America because we can supply to those countries the type of beef which is satisfactory for their particular requirements. Therefore to-day we need to vest the board with powers which in 1940, 1945 and 1953 were not only redundant, but disadvantageous. The recognition of this fact alone makes me feel that, while I am less happy with this particular provision than probably any other provision, it is desirable. I remind the chamber that a similar type of organization has been known in various other primary industries for a long time. I suppose the most notable industry in that regard is the sugar industry which, of course, we people from Queensland think is a wonderful industry. Had it not been for the wisdom of the organizational arrangements of marketing, I doubt very very much whether to-day that industry would have been so advantageous to the producer and to the whole of the country as it undoubtedly is, and it is growing much more advantageous all the time.
Whether or not we agree with the trading powers of the board - and I have given the reasons why I agree with them - I cannot see th t this is a matter on which a select committee could help the Senate very much.
It is a matter either of summing up the facts I have mentioned, or looking at them from the point of view of their basic political philosophy. I am satisfied that there will not be unanimity and that it would be foolish even to expect it. I think that was the reason why the mover thought it was desirable to refer this matter to a select committee. For all those reasons, Mr. President, I oppose the amendment, although I have been interested in hearing the various comments that have been made.
Before I conclude I want to refer to remarks that have been made by other honorable senators, especially by Senator Willesee. He said -
I would have thought that the Liberal Party senators would be tremendously careful about the bill, which will allow the board to take over the complete production and distribution of the third greatest export from Australia.
I should like the honorable senator to realize that that proposal is not encompassed by the bill. I am not entirely satisfied with the words used in the relevant provision of the bill. There is no suggestion in the bill that the production of meat - whether it is in the form of beef, mutton or something else - is covered by this measure. It is concerned with the processing of beef and its ultimate sale, not the production of it. I feel that the bill is perhaps lacking in this respect. I should like to see more emphasis placed on research prior to the meat arriving at the processing works. I spoke of this matter earlier, and I refer to it again because of something that was published in the press only yesterday. There is in ce.-tral Queensland an area of some 83,000 acres which over the last few years has been used for intensive pasture improvement. The man who manages the property recently had a visit from councillors of the Roy.l National Association of Queensland who were making an examination of improved pastures in various parts of the country. It is reported in the article I have mentioned that this man has increased carrying capacity, by means of improved pastures, by 700 per cent. That is not unique. That can be done. One of my colleagues, Senator Sherrington, reminded the Senate just recently of what has been done in the spear grass country. All my colleagues from Queensland have seen in one part of the State or another small areas in which this type of operation has been successfully carried out. The carrying capacity of those areas has not merely been doubled but has risen by 700 per cent. That figure is guaranteed, because it is taken from figures used by the Royal National Association in giving awards for improved pastures. As I have indicated, in relation to this aspect of the matter the bill could go even further than it does. However, nobody is ever satisfied with all the contents of the bills that come before the Parliament.
I discussed this subject with the Minister for Primary Industry and I know that he is very much aware of the need for research work to be undertaken. As the new board settles down to its new responsibilities, I believe that it will be able to look after the sale of our meat overseas and also ensure improved distribution within our own country. The latter is an important matter for attention. Within the last three days I have been served a piece of meat which would be flattered if described as steak. I cannot designate the place from which I think it came, but it certainly did not come from Queensland. In what part of Australia have we seen the greatest upsurge in the production of beef for export to America? I am speaking of the beef that is obtained from the cracker cow, the chopper cow, or whatever we like to call it. That meat has not come from Queensland but from other parts of Australia.
However, I shall not go further into that matter. I would be unwise if I allowed myself to be drawn too far astray on that point. All I wish to say is that Queensland is now producing beef that is of very high quality. I am satisfied that if we have the” benefit of research, development and the extension of pastures we will be able to give to the Australian Meat Board beef of the quality that it needs and we will be able continuously to increase the availability of beef for export, to the very great advantage of the Australian economy. 1 believe that it would be absolutely impossible for a select committee to make a finding in time to be of any value to our delegation overseas and of any value in assisting to overcome the problem which Senator Douglas clearly pointed out in the letter which I read. For the reasons 1 have mentioned, to support the motion would be most unwise.
.- I do not intend to speak for very long. We are now considering Senator Wright’s motion for the appointment of a select committee to examine matters dealt with in the Meat Industry Bill and cognate bills. When Senator Wright first mentioned what he proposed to do, I informed him that I could not support the motion. I shall establish the reasons for my attitude later. First, 1 must reply to some of the remarks that have been made by Senator Kennelly, who rose this afternoon to support the motion now before the Chair. It seemed to me that his arguments fell into three main categories. First, he said that the meat industry employees and the public abattoirs should be represented on the new Australian Meat Board. The essence of this board has escaped the attention of the honorable senator, lt is to be a board of producers who seek to levy themselves or to raise money by way of taxation imposed on themselves so that they will be able to manage to a greater or lesser degree the export of meat from Australia to other parts of the world. Therefore, if the 41,000 members of the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union wish to be represented on the board, it might be a very good idea if they imposed a poll tax on themselves and in that way contributed to the funds of the board. If they wish to be represented on the board, their representation should be upon the same terms and conditions as those which apply to other groups who are represented. The same remark would apply to the public authorities that are engaged in meat processing.
Another matter which has exercised the minds of honorable senators and the members of another place is the representation of the Australian Primary Producers Union. I suggest that this brings us back to a vexed problem which has confronted Australian primary-producing industries in the past - whether there should be representation of the professional element, if I may use that term, or representation of the whole range of primary producers, lt might be said that it is wrong for the Australian Medical Association to be comprised only of physicians and surgeons and that it should embrace dentists and physiotherapists. The Australian Medical Association is a specialist organization. In the same way, the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation, in essence, are specialist organizations which concentrate their attention upon particular problems.
Senator Morris and Senator Kennelly referred to the situation that exists in the United States of America. In view of that situation, I think that this bill should be passed as a matter or urgency. The urgency arises from the fact that this year in the United States of America elections will be held not only for the Senate and House of Representatives but also for the presidency. Anybody who has taken the trouble to examine the propaganda that is emanating from the beef or meat-producing States of America will realize that members of Congress are being subjected to pressure to restrict the inflow of foreign meat from Ireland, New Zealand and Australia. If we were to find ourselves in the position of members of Congress and were being subjected to such pressures, we would be in a highly nervous state, too. The position is made worse by the fact that in a presidential election year there is the problem of getting the greatest number of votes possible in the electoral colleges. In a great number of the American States there is keen competition between the Republicans and the Democrats in an effort to enable candidates to obtain the requisite number of votes in the electoral college. Senator Morris referred to Senator Mike Mansfield of Montana. He is a Democrat in a State of cattle-breeders who are essentially Republicans. To use an American term, he is a sort of electoral maverick in a State which normally returns a Republican quality. He is a Democrat, but he has to espouse the cause of his Republican constituents.
A third factor enters into the picture in the United States of America. The agreement on quotas was negotiated at the executive level as between the American Government and the Commonwealth of Australia. But that agreement is subject to scrutiny by the United States Senate, which has an overriding authority in relation to foreign agreements. In the peculiar situation that exists in the United States of America at present 1 think it is highly important that this Parliament pass a bill of this nature as a demonstration - at least to the United States of America - that we will live up to our side of the undertaking, and put it in a position where it has seriously to consider this matter and decide whether it will unilaterally abdicate an agreement made between its Secretary of State and the Commonwealth of Australia. 1 turn now to a consideration of the appointment of a select committee. J believe that the duty of a select committee is to inform the Senate, or, if it is appointed toy both Houses of the Parliament, to inform both Houses. The proper function of a select committee is to examine a matter and obtain, for the benefit of the Parliament, or whichever chamber the select committee originates in, information that cannot be garnered, obtained or produced as a result of debate in the respective components of the Parliament - either the Senate or the House of Representatives. I do not think that there is anything about this bill that cannot be understood and, if necessary, adjusted as a result of open debate. There is nothing that cannot be done under the due processes of the standing orders of the Senate. In my opinion a select committee could do nothing more than a committee of the Parliament could do, and for that reason I think no case has been adduced for the appointment of a select committee to consider this bill. There is, of course, an opportunity on the appointment of a select committee for partisanship to be displayed by using the select committee as a device by which legislation can be delayed; but that situation docs not exist in the Senate because there is tripartite agreement between all members of the Senate that the bill in essence is a good one. The function of the Senate is to examine some of the matters that require, perhaps, to be viewed with a little care and scrutiny.
That leads me, of course, to decide for myself what are the functions of the Senate in relation to legislation that originates in the House of Representatives. One cannot bc too pontifical about this but I think that as a general rule it is the function of the Senate not to frustrate the popular House in the presentation of its legislation but to act as a gate - a narrow gate. If the Senate is prepared to examine these bills with the care it is capable of exercising to see that constitutional practice is not attacked, that the electorate is protected and that all sections of the community obtain justice, then the Senate is doing its job. For these reasons, which I have attempted to outline in a very few moments, I suggest that the Senate should reject the motion for the appointment of a select committee.
.- Personally, I was glad to have the opportunity over the week-end to look more closely at the proposal for the appointment of a select committee to consider all aspects of this meat bill. In my opinion the deciding factor in determining whether a select committee should be appointed to inquire into this measure is the answer to the query whether such an appointment might do something detrimental to Australian interests before the Tariff Commission hearing to be held in the United States, commencing on 26th April - in only a few days’ time.
In my opinion, the crux of the whole matter rests upon the statement of the Minister in which he said that it was vital to the Australian meat export trade with the United States that the legislation be dealt with by the Australian Parliament before the United States Tariff Commission inquiry commences on 26th April. 1 am not in a position to dispute that statement. I am placed in a position in which I must accept it. The Minister commenced by saying, “ Mr. President, may I quote from my notes? “ When he said that 1 took it that those notes had been made, in cooperation with expert advisers who were available to him. As a result of that advice he decided that this legislation should go through without delay so that Australia’s meat export trade with the United States would not be weakened.
I can speak feelingly on this matter. Like a number of other people in Australia 1 am interested in the dairy industry. 1 have been for approximately 30 years. The average life of a dairy cow is approximately four years. For many years when a cow was sent to the sale-yards it sold for £4 or £5, being practically given away. That was the state of affairs until this export trade with the United States came into being and transformed the whole position. In fact, until a few years ago, it was feared by those who had a knowledge of the industry that the small goods trade with the United States was developing to such an extent that it might well deplete the number of female cattle in Australia and have a deleterious effect upon the production of beef. Since then the position has improved somewhat. Notwithstanding what I have just said, the trade with the United States has been a great boon to producers in Australia of small goods beef cattle, if I might describe them in that way. In spite of the expansion of the world beef export trade, about which Senator Cormack and Senator Morris spoke, our trade is something which is well worth preserving.
In view of the fact that a conference was held only last October at which Australian and New Zealand beef producers were asked to do something to bring about a diversification of their beef export trade, it seems to me that if, as a result of the appointment of a select committee, this legislation were put into the melting pot, it could have a detrimental effect upon beef exports from Australia to the United States. I feel that we cannot risk at this stage doing anything that might damage a market which, in my opinion, is well worth preserving.
– My colleagues Senator Morris, Senator Cormack and Senator Lillico have presented such a powerful case to the Senate for the rejection of this motion that there is little that I can add to it. In fact, it might well be that I cannot even do their contributions justice. However, there are one or two points I should like to make as briefly as I can. The first is that there has been no suggestion on my part that this bill should be hurried through the Senate because of any time factor. I am prepared to sit with the bill until the Senate is perfectly satisfied that it is the best bill that can be produced in the interests of our great meat exporting industry.
It is true that I placed before the Senate information that I had about an inquiry to be undertaken on 26th April by a committee in America into this and other relevant issues. I suggest, Mr. President, that had I not informed the Senate of that situation I would not have been doing my duty to this chamber. Never once have I suggested that as a reason why this bill should be pushed through the Senate. I merely gave all the information I could and I make no apology for doing that.
I am not going to deal at length with some of the other points that have been raised during this portion of the debate, particularly by members of the Opposition. Suffice to say this: The Government is as anxious as is any member of this Senate to make this the best possible bill. The Government will examine carefully the suggestions which honorable senators make. If the suggestions are found to be workable and contribute to the bill we will not be adamant. We will go into the committee with a flexible mind, having regard, of course, to all the factors which have to be taken into consideration.
Senator Wright was the honorable senator who initiated this debate. I have taken the trouble of making a very close study of some of the points that he made. The whole burden of his submission is that he seeks on behalf of the Senate all the knowledge, information and advice that can be obtained and brought together in the interests of this legislation. That is a most laudable objective. No one could quarrel with it as such. I read further in his speech, and I sought to find out for myself where he would seek that information. Senator Morris has quite properly said that the issues are issues which can be resolved in debate, and all the information that honorable senators may or should require may be readily available. That statement has not been supported by Senator Wright. He has made great play of the fact that he wants further information to enable him to study the implications of the bill. I ask myself where he would seek the information. It is true that he, during the course of his speech, quoted no less a person than Mr. Edgell, the president of the Tasmanian Farmers, Stockowners and Orchardists Association. In fairness to the honorable senator, I mention that he made some complimentary references to Mr. Edgell as an individual. But Mr. Edgell was specific in his advice on this occasion to Senator Wright. He used these words -
Our association urges acceptance meat industry bill as presented. Having regard to United Stales trade conditions and need for diversification of markets we consider delay most unwise. Because of unresolved A.P.P.U. application for membership Wool Industry Conference we consider time not appopriate for their entry on organizational bases into meat industry matters.
I do not know Mr. Edgell personally, but 1 have taken the trouble over the last few days to ascertain the worth of the advice of that gentleman, lt is true that he is the elected leader of many small producers in Tasmania. J have no hesitation in saying that, from my inquiries, you could travel far and wide and you could find few people better qualified to offer an opinion than Mr. Edgell. Senator Wright has suggested, with great respect to Mr. Edgell: “ I reject your advice. I know what is better for your members than you do. Therefore, I move for the appointment of a select committee.”
I again turned to see where the honorable senator would obtain further advice from which he might be able to inform himself so as to give a considered opinion on these matters. Reading his speech, I am convinced that he would not turn to the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council or the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation, because, according to the honorable senator, they are the arch villains of this legislation. He has said that he refuses to be a rubber stamp. So do I. So do all honorable senators. It is not a matter of being a rubber stamp at all. It is a matter of heeding the elected leaders of the industry. The honorable senator would not, I suggest, invite them to give evidence before a select committee.
Before 1 leave that aspect of the matter, may I remind the honorable senator that there are no fewer than ten affiliated bodies of the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council in practically every State. The Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation has an affiliation of five distinct bodies throughout the Commonwealth of Australia. In those two bodies alone, there are no fewer than fifteen affiliated bodies, all with a voice in this legislation.
I turn to the sole remaining body that I believe claims quite properly to have a national interest in this matter. That is the Australian Primary Producers Union. 1 _m glad to see that Senator Wright has
Joined me in sponsoring its claims for representation. Having read right through Senator Wright’s speech and having studied what I believe to be a calculated slight to their federal president, Mr. Heffernan, I cannot for the life of me imagine that the honorable senator would seek his advice or the advice of his organization. So, I am left wilh this conclusion: The honorable senator, in his desire for information and advice on this matter, has nowhere to turn, if you use his own speech in this debate as a guide. I hope he will concede that he who pays the piper shall call the tunc. No honorable senator has suggested that because the producer pays he should not have the vital say in the expenditure of these levies.
The final point I want to make is that the decision which I believe the Senate has to make on this vital issue can be described in words of one syllable as simply as this: The little man has to be protected. Of course, the big man has to be protected, too. Senator Lillico has indicated so clearly the worth of our export markets to the little man. I believe the decision we have to make is on this question: Are we going to jeopardize the interests of the little man - the man who sells his aged and worn-out cows, his culls - on this occasion because we want more information? It is not idle to suggest that the American people are not looking at us with a discerning eye. They are concerned whether we will, as a national Parliament, agree to a levy being imposed on our producers that may be expended in the search for new markets. That is the issue. I do hope the Senate will not jeopardize the future of the little man as well as the big man.
Sitting suspended from 5.48 to 8 p.m.
.- in reply - 1 have listened with great interest to the debate on the motion for the appointment of a select committee of the Senate, and I cannot avoid noticing that the majority of the Senate feels that such a select committee is not warranted. In those circumstances, it would be quite futile, from my point of view, to repeat the arguments by which I supported the proposal. It would, indeed, be an afront to the Senate were 1 to do so. I only wish to say that I find myself at a loss to understand why the appointment of a Senate select committee would be contrary to the purposes of the representatives of the meat industry before the United States Tariff Commission. I explained my difficulty in understanding the references to this matter made by the Minister on Thursday afternoon, and I am still without clarification. I am bound to say that the observations of Senator Cormack have not, to my mind, elucidated the proposition.
I am conscious that, in my speech on Thursday, when dealing with the selection committee mentioned in the bill, I offered some criticism of those responsible for the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. This is a matter which I shall seek to clarify much more in my own mind when the bill is in the committee stage. I am sorry that the Minister gave to those remarks an interpretation that would attribute to me a mind which would not seek to gain from the experience of the representatives of the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation, who probably would have been the first witnesses to afford any evidence to a select committee. The argument that I would reject men of experience when my mind seeks information on this industry is, to me, not an argument that demands unlimited respect.
The same goes for the reference to Mr. Edgell. Dealing with the subject-matter before the Senate and having received a telegram urging a course contrary to the one I was taking on the measure, and that telegram having come from a man who has my great respect, as Mr. Edgell has, I thought fit to bring his views before the Senate. All I want to say in reply to the untoward reference that the Minister made in that respect is that it would carry much greater conviction to me if Mr. Edgell, as well as giving a bald statement of his opinion, came before the committee and revealed to what extent he knew the terms of the bill and gave the reasons, even in the briefest form, for his viewpoint. I am greatly persuaded by reasonable arguments. When I got to my mail box after the suspension of the sitting for dinner I took from it a letter from Mr. Noel Symington of the Boolgana Hereford Stud in Western Australia. After listening to some parts of the debate last Wednesday, he wrote to me as follows: -
It is my opinion that no primary producer in Western Australia’ who is involved by the six bills now before the Senate could approve of them, no free enterprise firm of meat exporters could approve of them, and no Western Australian senator has had enough time to find out about them.
I do not wish Western Australian senators to take that as an expression of my view. No doubt Mr. Symington, being a Western Australian elector, confined himself to those who have a responsibility to him. I hasten to add that I also have not had sufficient time to find out about the bills, and that is why I sought the further opportunity of three weeks in which to get information. In such contacts as I have made among the community concerned with various facets of this industry in my own State over the week-end, I am bound to say that I found no awareness of the provisions of this bill and just what it seeks to do. I will trouble the Senate, in conclusion, only with those few observations.
Question put -
That the motion (SenatorWright’s) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the negative.
Bill committed pro forma; progress reported.
– by leave - The statement I am about to read to the Senate concerns the recent meeting of the Council of Ministers of the South-East Asia Treaty Organization which was held in Manila in the first three days of last week. This statement is being made in the House of Representatives by the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) and the personal pronoun “ 1 “, when used, refers to him. The statement is as follows: -
I have said on various occasions - most recently in my opening statement to the Council of Ministers last Monday - that the ultimate answer to communism must be found in the will of people for whom, by reason of their social or economic advancement, life has meaning and promise. But peace and stability are indispensable conditions for such advancement.
This the Communist in Asia so well understands that, by subversion and terror and, if need be, by armed intervention, he seeks to promote instability and political and administrative chaos. Having done that, he condemns the regime which he is seeking to undermine for its failure to provide for the well-being and the progress of its people. I say “ the Communist in Asia “. I am not talking about peaceful co-existence in which communism seeks to demonstrate its superiority and inevitability through economic competitiveness. I am talking about the Communist who believes that power grows out of the gun barrel. Well aware of the inevitable slowness of the tempo of economic development and growth among the under-developed regions of the world even in the best of conditions, these Communists are taking the long view, and by forcefully denying the opportunity for steady progress, hope to cause the people to despair of the certainty of any amelioration of their condition by the new governments and administrations of the region. It is the work of a generation or more in these countries to introduce modern techniques and to create a broadly based administration devoted to the progress of the community at large. If we are to ensure the benefits of a free way of life in under-developed countries, there must be peaceful and stable conditions of an enduring character. In short, freedom itself must be ensured. This is the task of collective security in South-East Asia, to halt aggression and subversion in order to secure peaceful stability and the climate for that economic and social progress of which free societies have shown themselves capable.
A current illustration of Communist technique is South Viet Nam. Here the Communists held their hand for five years from 1954 onwards, not expecting the Government to cope with its great internal residual problems. However, it became apparent that South Viet Nam was overcoming its problems and rapidly adding to its economic strength. For example, the annual rice production not only attained the prewar average of 3,500,000 tons but advanced to 5,000,000 tons in 1960. There followed the decision of the Communists to terrorize the population and subvert the country.
It is with these introductory remarks, valid for all our efforts, whether covering the fields of security, diplomacy or economic aid in South-East Asia, that I proceed to speak of the meeting of the Seato Council of Ministers.
The annual meeting of Ministers deals with the regular business of the organization and provides the occasion for a political and security review of the situation and of the problems of the Seato area. This year no less than six of the eight member nations were represented by their Foreign Ministers and many hours of close and searching discussion were held, some in closed sessions of which a record was taken and some in restricted sessions with no record being taken.
The formal conclusions of the meeting are published in a communique. With the concurrence of the Senate I will incorporate the text of the communique in “ Hansard “ at the end of this statement. I shall not deal here with the decisions of the council about the continuing work of military planning programmes of military exercises, or the civil projects for economic, medical and cultural co-operation. It is sufficient for me to say that this basic programme of work and activity is continuing satisfactorily.
Without in any way detracting from the importance of that work, I wish rather to address my remarks to-night to the great issues which were before the Council of Ministers and which directly bear upon the peace and security of the region and upon the direction of vital national policies by the countries concerned. They are issues indeed, which, before this meeting, gave rise to the expression in some public comment to doubts as to whether, in the face of them. Seato could maintain its cohesion and its purpose.
I might say that there have been doubts in some people’s minds about Seato’s continued existence since the inception of the Manila Treaty. In some minds, these doubts arose because of a failure to recognize that a system of collective security was necessary for this region if orderly economic and social progress were to be possible; in others these doubts sprang, I think, from a despair that an answer could be found to Communist agression and that it could be contained and from a belief that it must be bought off by concessions; in others, the expressed doubts were but a cloak for a Communist will to destroy the organization.
Tn the light of these doubts, it is worth recalling that September next will see the tenth anniversary of the Manila Treaty; that none of the signatories of the treaty has been the object of Communist aggression during the existence of the treaty and none of the countries within its protocol, or for that matter within South-East Asia, has been subverted to Communist domination, even though as yet we may have not found the ideal methods for repelling subversion and terrorism and making them too costly for their designers.
My own view is that Seato has proved to be remarkedly successful. It has progressively gained in strength, both in terms of its own effectiveness and in terms of international acceptance and support. That this should be so is a considerable achievement. The members are diverse in many respects. Their historical and political backgrounds are widely different and they include both developed and under-developed countries. Moreover, the principles on which Seato is based, the principles of interdependence and of collective security, scarcely carried automatic conviction in the early post-war history of South-East Asia.
Bearing in mind these things, I would suggest to the professional critics of Seato, if I may call them so, that it is time to take a fresh look at the position. I commend to them the words President Macapagal used when he opened the recent meeting in Manila. He declared that Seato should be cherished as symbolizing the readiness of the sovereign nations of the eastern and western hemispheres to come to terms with each other for the purpose of mutual well-being. Seato, he said, could “ not now abdicate its primary responsibility towards its Asian members without creating a power vacuum in South-East Asia “.
The apprehensions to which I referred about the current meeting related to the French pronouncement as to neutralization in South-East Asia. It was thought that this attitude must lead to a fracture of the organization. But the meeting afforded the opportunity, of which Ministers fully availed themselves, to discuss frankly and to explore carefully French views concerning the situation in Viet Nam. These discussions led Ministers back to a review of the basis, the effectiveness and the purpose of Seato. This review resulted in an important reaffirmation of that basis and purpose and to the declaration in the communique, to which the French Foreign Minister subscribed that “ Seato has had, and continues to have, a most important stabilizing influence in South-East Asia “. Thus, whatever differences of approach on individual matters there might be, no member of Seato entertains a reservation as to the value of the organization.
Again, in paragraph 4 of the communique the council reaffirmed that “ material support and encouragement should be given by members of the Treaty Organization to those nations which, in defending themselves, need and request such support “. France subscribed to this important statement of principle, thereby demonstrating the unanimous view that aggression, must bc resisted and that the provision of assistance for self defence on request is a proper performance of the obligations of Seato members. It should clearly be understood that it is accepted within the Seato community of countries thai no one nation exercises a veto on what other members may do in discharge of the Seato obligations that they are prepared to undertake. It is essential that this point should be understood as it gives great, flexibility and strength to Seato.
Thus, whilst unanimity on all points was not attained, the continued utility and significance of Seato was affirmed and its resilient strength, so far from being fractured, was demonstrated.
Senators will recall that, on 14th March, 1963, I drew the attention of the House to a joint statement issued by the Thai and United States governments. This stated plainly that responsibilities under the treaty could be carried out collectively or individually. The United States affirmed that its treaty obligation to Thailand did not depend upon the prior agreement of all the other parties to the treaty “ since this Treaty obligation is individual as well as collective “. The Australian Government welcomed this declaration and stated that it placed the same interpretation upon the Manila Treaty. This flexibility extends still further into the area of collective responsibilities. Not only, as I have explained, does no member hold a veto over the actions of the other members pursuant to their discharge of their treaty obligations but no member can be coerced by the decision of the majority into collective action. For example, Australia alone decides what units of the Australian armed forces shall be offered for purposes of the preparation of Seato military plans and Australia reserves to itself the decision as to whether such forces would participate in action.
I have quoted the United States declaration in respect of its defence commitment to Thailand. It would be in point for me to refer to the practical achievements in Thailand under the joint and several efforts of Seato members in association with the Government of Thailand.
Thailand is one of the critical land areas of the treaty area. Through the efforts of the Thai Government and the contributions of the Seato partners the security of Thailand and its defence capabilities have been greatly enhanced. Substantial allied forces can now be rapidly deployed into Thailand at a high level of operational readiness.
Behind this state of affairs lies years of painstaking and concrete work. Highways, bridges, fuel pipelines, modern communications, wharf and harbour facilities have been developed through a programme of logistic support which is based on the co-ordinated, bilateral contributions of Seato members. Australia supports this effort with its own substantial programme of aid for feeder roads. To give a precise example of work in the logistics field, Australian, New Zealand and British army engineers - some 400 personnel in all - are at present- establishing a modern airfield in northern Thailand with all the complicated supporting equipment and stores that such an airfield requires in order to service modern aircraft.
The demonstrated capacity of all this infrastructure was proven in May, 1962, when a great air lift of 3,000 American marines was flown into Thailand in the space of 24 hours and rapidly deployed in defence of the Mekong frontier. Allied military exercises in Thailand have involved as many as 25,000 men at the one time. Australian, British and American squadrons have flown in on station at operational readiness.
These defensive facilities, of great strategic significance, are not established to the detriment in any respect of the Thai economy or the Thai people. On the contrary they are an important contribution to the capital structure of that country; they help to open up rural areas and to knit the country together administratively. Related training programmes are also helping to raise the limit of technical proficiency in the country. Through a system of on the job training under the feeder road scheme and through the Australian equipped and staffed military technical training school in Bangkok, Australia alone is helping to produce between 150 and 200 technicians, skilled tradesmen and operators each year.
Much of the Seato effort, as I have stated, contributes materially to the economic resources of Thailand. Indeed, the very existence of Seato, as well as its activities of the kind I have mentioned, help to keep down the domestic military and budgetary costs of the members who are least able to afford a large defence establishment. Seato ^ works from the principle that the main strength of the organization must derive from the industrial strength and resources of its economically developed members. Thailand in actual fact is experiencing a marked rate of economic growth. Throughout the last decade national income has increased at an average annual rate of 5.5 per cent. Electric power, a key indicator of economic advance, has increased by 400 per cent, over this period.
The situation in South Viet Nam commanded the most earnest attention of the Seato council which expressed its grave concern about continuing Communist aggression, organized, directed, supplied and supported by the Communist regime in North Viet Nam. The council agreed that the members of Seato should remain prepared, if necessary, to take further concrete steps to support the Government and the people of South Viet Nam in their fight for their country.
The continued independence of South Viet Nam is a matter of high importance to us all, on moral, political and strategic grounds alike. The efforts to form a domestically stable Government have had their difficulties, but despite the years of struggle it has already endured, South Viet Nam retains the will and the resolve to resist Communist subversion.
The South Vietnamese are fighting their own war, a grim war of survival. Communist forces have mounted a campaign of widespread terrorism aimed to undermine the authority of the Vietnamese Government at all possible levels - as I have said, to prevent that economic growth and social betterment which would follow stability and peace. Their tactics include kidnapping, coercion and blackmail, ambush and the cold assassination of picked leaders such as province and village chiefs and individual commanders.
The extent of their civil outrage and treachery is that in 1960 and 1961 almost 3,000 civilians were assassinated and 2,500 kidnapped.
The representative of the United States, Mr. Dean Rusk, re-affirmed plainly that United States aims were to answer the call of the South Vietnamese to help them save their country for themselves; secondly, to help prevent the strategic danger which would exist if communism absorbed SouthEast Asia’s peoples and resources; and thirdly, to meet the challenge of the Communist so-called wars of liberation, carefully scaled down to avoid the risk of a global conflict. On behalf of Australia I welcomed and supported this great statement of policy.
General Khanh has not had long to reverse the trends of 1963, but it is heartening to see the way in which he is rebuilding the machinery of government and taking active steps to restore hope and confidence in the people.
But there is no disguising the serious and critical nature of the task ahead. There are 20,000 to 25,000 “ hard core “ Viet Cong guerillas, ruthless and indoctrinated with locally recruited part-time supporters about three times that number operating in difficult terrain often under the cover which intimidated people are driven to afford them.
The French delegation abstained on the Viet Nam paragraphs in the communique stating that “ under the present serious circumstances it was wise to abstain from any declaration “. The French Foreign Minister took the view that apart from the military effort there should be a concurrent attempt to reach a political settlement. The views of the other members, however, were that, apart from the serious effect on morale that such an attempt would produce, a sound political settlement could not be envisaged before every effort had been made to help the South Vietnamese Government to deal with and overcome Communist insurgency and South Viet Nam had achieved a position of security in relation to the north.
North Viet Nam, Communist China and the Soviet Union all urge the neutralization of Viet Nam in their propaganda. Honorable senators, however, should clearly understand that they are referring only to
South Viet N am. What they mean by neutralization of the south I shall explain in a moment. So far as North Viet Nam is concerned, its neutralization would involve a tremendous ideological retreat within Communist doctrine. It has in fact been made clear by the Communists that North Viet Nam is a member of the “ socialist camp “ and no other status could be entertained. There is no glimmer of a suggestion that North Viet Nam, within a reunified Vict Nam, would accept an internationally arranged and supervised status of neutralization. Nor is there reason to suppose that its huge Communist neighbour would be a party to such an arrangement. In this connexion it is as well to recall that Hungary’s aspirations towards neutrality were quickly extinguished by the Soviet Union.
This reduces the issue to that of the neutralization of South Viet Nam only. What the Chinese and the North Vietnamese mean by neutralization of the south is, first, the withdrawal of foreign military aid. that is the American forces, and, secondly, the replacement of the present anti-Communist Government by a neutral coalition government which would include elements of the present Communist insurgent movement at all levels - political, administrative and military. Politically and militarily the south would then be paralysed in the face of a determined Communist regime in the north which held overwhelming military preponderance. If it could be supposed that these steps were all accepted, what could Seato or for that matter any of its members do to prevent a neutralized South Viet Nam being rapidly absorbed into a Communist Viet Nam. It would be difficult indeed to visualize a practicable basis on which action could be taken to preserve the independence of South Viet Nam.
This leads me to speak generally, not only in relation to Viet Nam, about some of the implications of ideas of neutralization in South-East Asia. Some of these views were developed in my statement to the House on 11th March, but I here wish to relate those views specifically to Seato. Under Seato and other complementary arrangements there have been established forward bases and facilities and logistics which arc a great part of the backbone of the security of South-East Asia. There is no room to think that the countries of the region can produce as of this time a stable, secure region on their own strengths separately or collectively.
Modern warfare is increasingly dependent on an industrial base to support it. Aggressive countries which lack this base must move cautiously. They can indulge in subversion, infiltration, guerrilla activities and various forms of limited war. They may even be able to pick off individual weak nations one by one if they are permitted to do so. But, if faced by a resolute alliance such as Seato represents, their freedom of manoeuvre becomes limited; and on the other hand the alliance brings the needed industrial strength to the support of the countries of the treaty area. On our side, the allied governments have ultimate deterrent power and, also, through the system of logistics and facilities now available, the means of deploying conventional forces in a controlled and graduated response, in full awareness of the heavy weight of responsibility that falls upon us to deal with aggression commensurately yet adequately while avoiding the risks of global conflict.
Events in the last few days in Laos have caused the Government much concern. The rapid deterioration of the situation, which at first seemed possible, has fortunately not taken place, but the episode - if it is no more than that - is another reminder of the fragile governmental structure of that small country. Australia fully supports the continuation in office of the neutralist Prime Minister, Prince Souvanna Phouma, and deplores attempts to undermine his position whether they come from Communist or right wing forces. We have conveyed these views vigorously and urgently in the last few days in Vientiane. Our policy - and it is the view expressed in the Seato communique - is to support the achievement of a neutral and independent government of Laos in accord with the Geneva Agreement of 1962.
The seriousness of the presence of Indonesian armed and directed groups in Malaysia was fully brought home, to members of the council during its review of the international situation. This state of affairs not only could lead to a serious deterioration of military security, but could provoke further instability in the region if a neighbouring country could introduce troops into the territory of another and then demand political discussions and concessions.
Since my statement to the House on 11th March there has been no concrete progress towards a settlement of the problems created by Indonesia’s hostility towards Malaysia. In diplomatic exchanges Indonesia has continued to maintain that any withdrawal of Indonesian-controlled forces from Malaysian territory should be linked with discussion of, and commensurate to progress on, the settlement of political questions. In addition, Indonesia has continued to intrude regulars and irregulars into Malaysian territory and is maintaining and strengthening in areas adjacent to the Malaysian borders its organization and training for guerilla activity. The Malaysian Government has fully documented these matters in its communications to the United Nations SecretaryGeneral. Malaysia has properly maintained its desire for a peaceful solution of the situation which has been created and has indicated its willingness to contribute to that end. Since my statement, my colleague, the Minister for Defence (Mr. Hasluck), has announced two important decisions of the Government. Arising from our pledge to come to the defence of Malaysia in certain defined contingencies, namely his statement on 17th March on Australia defence aid for Malaysia in the fields of equipment and training and his statement of 16th April on the commitment of certain military forces.
These necessary developments do not, of course, in any sense reduce our determination to support efforts for a peaceful settlement. But all the small and middle powers of South-East Asia have, with Australia, a vital interest in upholding the principle of non-interference in the domestic affairs of another country and the principle of respect for the political and territorial integrity of other nations.
The extent to which Australia is involved now and, in addition, such developments that may occur in the future in fact depend entirely upon the courses of action which Indonesia chooses to adopt. Our view has been and remains that Indonesia cannot be permitted to crush Malaysia. Australia’s own decisions are governed by the principles to which I have referred and not by any intrinsic hostility to Indonesia or its peoples.
Finally, I should like to underline the immense indirect contribution which Seato makes to economic progresss. It has been urged at times by some members of the Opposition that Seato should be primarily concerned with advancing the economic and social welfare of the people of Asia as the true foundation for peace in the area. So to state the matter seems to me to overlook some basic considerations. The fact is that security and defence arrangements are indispensible in creating and guaranteeing the conditions of order and stability within which economic programmes, both domestic and international in character, can be formulated and brought to successful fruition. This cannot be done in conditions of chaos and fear. In turn, as life takes on more promise for the peoples of the area so will their resolve grow to maintain by their own efforts their freedom and independence. So, also, will their will and capacity grow to forge new and additional defensive links.
The past decade has already seen enouraging growth in some countries, despite the background of war devastation and internal Communist insurrection in the region. A continuing period of stability and constructive co-operation can carry this growth much further. We in Australia have our own evidence of what can be achieved under conditions of stability as compared with the long years of the depression and the war.
The concept of stability which I hold is not a concept which is resistant to change and progress. The countries of South-East Asia have in fact been through a period of sweeping change in the transition to independence and self-governing institutions, a process which Australia has consistently supported. But where is the real evidence of progress in South-East Asia to-day? Development, change, and modernization are strikingly apparent in those countries which have attained stability, which offer expanding opportunities to their people, and which have entered into co-operative relationships in a variety of fields with each other and with countries outside the region. None of this is incompatible with their national aspirations or the preservation of their own identity.
I should like to illustrate what I am saying by referring to the Philippines from which I have just returned. The Philippines has achieved its national independence and it enjoys stable institutions. Its leaders are conscious of the challenges which accompany national independence. President Macapagal, in his last Independence Day address, said that it is not enough to regard the achievements of national liberation and independence as an end in itself. He deplored situations - and I use his words - - Where the political power wrested from the hands of the alien ruler is merely transferred to native hands while it is not used to free the people from their continuing bondage, poverty, ignorance and disease. Until that power is so used, true freedom is denied to the people.
The Philippines is a country with a population touching on 30,000,000 people and with a rate of increase in the growth of population of well over . 3 per cent, a year, one of the highest in the world. It has its serious economic problems, but it is grappling with them strenuously. Practical problems affecting the lives and the welfare of the people - economic development, employment and rural progress - are now in the foreground of Philippines national life. Impressive progress is being made. Significant elements of industrialization are entering the economy with manufacturing output now making up about 20 per cent, of the national income. Given the rising national income, the relatively high level of domestic capital formation and the prevalence of educational and modern technical training facilities, further economic development and growth are assured so long as international stability and security are preserved.
The Government firmly supports Seato as an effective instrument for collective security in South-East Asia. This does not mean of course that the Government rests exclusively, on Seato nor that other valuable groupings of countries in the defence and security fields are not possible, and should not be sought. The search for a valid and enduring system of security in
South-East Asia has far from ended and 1 am convinced that successive Australian governments have a significant part to play in exploring and promoting suitable arrangements. In the field of security, Australia’s associations in the region are of proven value and worth. In economic, technical and social fields our contracts and links have multiplied rapidly.
In my view genuine and lasting stability, and with it economic and social advancement, will grow from this strengthening fabric of these interacting treaties and associations. Australia does not shrink from appropriate and constructive participation in them; and in these Seato is the instance to which I have particularly addressed myself.
NINTH COUNCIL MEETING.
General Observations -
Republic of Vietnam -
Economic, Medical and Cultural Co-operation -
Next Meeting -
Expression of Gratitude -
Leaders of National Delegations -
The Honourable Sir Garfield Barwick, Minister for External Affairs of Australia.
H.E. Mr. Maurice Couve de Murville, Minister of Foreign Affairs of France.
The Right Honourable Keith Holyoake, Prime Minister and Minister of External Affairs of New Zealand.
His Excellency Dr. A. M. Malik, Ambassador of Pakistan to the Philippines.
The Honorable Salvador P. Lopez, Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines.
His Excellency Mr. Thanat Khoman, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Thailand.
The Right Honourable Lord Carrington, Minister without Portfolio, United Kingdom.
The Honourable Dean Rusk, Secretary of State of the United States.
I present the following paper: -
Seato Council of Ministers - Ninth Meeting - Ministerial Statement.
I ask for leave to propose a motion.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
Motion (by Senator Gorton) proposed -
That the Senate take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Senator Kennelly) adjourned.
In committee: Consideration resumed (vide page 769).
Clauses 1 to 5 agreed to.
Clause 6 (Definitions).
.- Mr. Chairman, I wish to raise with the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) the definition of selection committee, which is stated to mean - . . the body of persons for the time being comprising the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee, being the body of that name established by its constitution adopted on the twentyseventh day of February, one thousand nine hundred and sixty-four.
I have been provided with a document that is headed “ The Constitution of the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee “. The document bears no signatures or any indication that it has been accepted by any person on behalf of any body. It consists of nine pages of cyclo-stylcd material. It purports to be the constitution of the committee. The name is stated, and the document refers to definitions, powers, functions, the admission of new members and so on. As I have said, there is no indication whatever that any person has put his signature to it, either as an individual or in a representative capacity, nor is there any indication that it has been adopted by resolution. I should have liked to see the material contained in this file of papers referred to a select committee. I ask the Minister to let the committee see the documents relating to the arrangements that really lead to the constitution of the committee.
I wonder how this document came into existence. It is dated 27th February, 1964. We were told, I think by our colleague, Senator Drake-Brockman, that the ideas for this reconstituted Meat Board arose out of a convention of North American cattle men in October. What were the communications between the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation that produced this document? What is the document? Are we satisfied that there is any real validity in it at all, having regard to the authority of those two bodies? Did the organizations which joined in the communications to produce this constitution have authority, under their constitutions and on behalf of their members, to do so?
I probe these matters because I look at the document and compare it with a similar document that was produced in relation to the wool industry, which we had occasion to criticize when we were discussing the Wool Industry Bill. We find that under the Wool Industry Bill the Government prescribed a four-State representation, whereas under this bill it prescribes a five-State representation. Under this constitution the number of persons permitted within the rules to submit motions is limited compared with the number provided for in the constitution of the relevant wool industry organization. We have been told that the rules of the Australian Wool Industry Conference provide that new members may be appointed by resolution of the conference. We have been told that the conference cannot be deadlocked, because provision is made for an independent chairman with a prevailing vote. But in the case of the meat industry, the admission of new members is to be referred back to each of the constituent organizations. In other words, the admission of any new member organization will be determined by each of the constituent organizations. In my view, a constitution is formed on paper. But then, for the purpose in hand - the admission of new members - the organizations do not act as a constituent body but as the two bifurcated branches that existed prior to their coming together. I ask the Minister to explain to me how this came about, how the document is of any validity, and the reasons for the three provisions to which 1 have referred specifically.
.- I am interested in the definitions of meat producer and meat product. Further on in the bill provision is made for carrying over in toto the regulations made under the act under which the present Australian Meat Board operates but which clause 4 repeals. If one turns to the regulations which the bill now before us seeks to carry over from the act that is to be repealed, one finds that the definitions are different from those contained in this measure. For example, in the bill now before us meat is defined in this way - “ 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 definition in the regulations reads - “ meat “ means the flesh of cattle (including buffaloes), horses, calves, sheep, lambs, pigs, goats, rabbits, hares or poultry intended for human consumption;
– What regulation is that?
– I am referring to regulation 5 of the Exports (Meat) Regulations, being statutory rules No. 93 of 1961. We are dealing with a bill which is concerned with control of the export of meat. I assume that the regulations which it will carry over are the existing regulations. Are they or are they not?
– I am advised that the regulations to which the honorable senator refers govern the inspection of meat.
Senator CORMACK__ The regulations to which I have referred are the Exports (Meat) Regulations. The bill we are considering deals with the export of meat. I would be grateful if the Minister would put me right on that point. In the bill a meat producer is defined as being a person who is engaged in the raising or fattening of cattle, sheep, or other prescribed animals intended for the production of meat for human consumption. In Queensland and the Northern Territory it is well known that men engage in meat production at the expense of their neighbours. Is a man who brands his neighbours’ calves and who has not any land of his own so that his cattle are constantly on the road, to be regarded as a meat producer? In the meantime, I would be grateful if the Minister’s advisers were to tell me what are the appropriate regulations.
– Senator Wright referred to the constitution that has been made available to honorable senators. I tabled that constitution in this chamber on behalf of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) so that honorable senators could be informed of all the negotiations that took place when this legislation was being considered. The Australian Meat Beard Selection Committee is not a statutory authority but was constituted jointly by the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation on 27th February, 1964, for the purpose of this legislation.
I cannot add a great deal, except to say that there has been tabled in the Parliament an agreement between the two bodies which constitute the producer representation on the board. It might well be suggested that the agreement is of no real value in the general scheme of things. I think that that perhaps is the thought that has concerned Senator Wright. In other words, this question is posed: What authority does it carry? For the purposes of this debate and this legislation, it is a record of agreement between the two bodies. I suggest that it is of some value when it is considered that provision is made, amongst other things, for additional organizations to be represented on the board. The Minister for Primary Industry has said - I echo his sentiments - that it is hoped by the Government that provision will be made for a widening of representation on the selection committee. The Government is eager that the Australian Primary Producers Union - ) have no hesitation in naming the organization - shall eventually be represented on the selection committee.
Although, as Senator Wright rightly says, the document bears no signature, it is a public document which has been tabled in the Parliament. I repeat that it reveals a record of agreement between the two bodies that are represented on the selection committee. I suggest that those bodies consist of honorable people who do not lightly come to an agreement which involves other parties. I suggest to Senator Wright in particular that for that reason alone this document is of some real value. Senator Cormack has asked for some information concerning certain regulations in which he is interested.
– I have received an answer from the officials.
– I have received certain advice, so I shall place it on record. The regulations from which Senator Cormack was quoting were made under the Customs Act for the purpose of governing the inspection of meat for export carried out by the Department of Primary Industry. The definitions in the bill are not related to those regulations.
.- I have other matters to raise. It occurs to my mind that elements other than edible offal are edible. I refer to extracts from the pancreas and liver that are used for medicinal purposes. Are we to assume that under the terms of the definition of edible offal those products will come under the control of the Australian Meat Board?
– My advisers inform me that the answer is “ no “.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 7 agreed to.
Clause 8. (1.) The Board shall consist of nine members, namely: -
. -I move -
Leave out sub-clause (1.), insert the following sub-clause: - “ (1.) The Board shall consist of eleven members, namely: -
one member to represent the Commonwealth who shall be Chairman of the Board;
six members to represent Australian meat producers;
two members to represent Australian meat exporters;
one member to represent publicly owned abattoirs and freezing works which deal with meat or meat products for export from Australia; and
one member to represent employees engaged in the slaughter and preparation of meat or meat products for export.”.
At the moment the board consists of twelve members, and seven out of the twelve are producers’ representatives. In other words the producers are in the majority. As has been said already representatives of the pig industry have asked to be taken off this board which means that the board is automatically reduced to eleven. The Opposition is proposing to leave the board with its present numbers except for the removal of the person representing the pig industry. The Government, on the other hand, has decided that the person previously representing government abattoirs and freezing works should not be a member of the board, and that the employees should not be represented.
I do not want to go over what I said during the second-reading stage regarding the municipally-owned abattoirs, except to underline that these works are spread widely throughout the country districts of Australia. If we pay lip service to decentralization, here is a chance to pay real service to this principle. Over the years that these people have been represented on the board there has been no evidence that their presence has been in any way detrimental to its working. As we are to be denied the right of examining this bill any more closely, it seems to honorable senators on this side of the chamber that these representatives should continue to have their place on the board. Although it is argued that the bodies they represent do not export meat they should be in a position to have a knowledge of what goes on in order to be able to advise their clients. I understand that at times some of these people do, in fact, move into the exporting field or have to be in a position to advise their clients on the export market. I reiterate that point as briefly as I can because I am sure the Minister is cognisant of the argument the Opposition has advanced and, during the week-end, has given the matter some consideration.
I wish now to deal with the question of employee representation on this board. Again, evidently, there have been no complaints about the contribution the employees’ representative has made and it would seem that he is to be removed for some reason that has not been clearly given. I feel that the whole question of employee representation has not been fully examined by the Government. No matter how one looks at the question of employer and employee relations there are always two sides to industry. That has been the case ever since the industrial revolution. The position will be accentuated, and is being accentuated, due to automation, particularly in other parts of the world. We must come back to the point that both sides depend on a particular industry even though, perforce, they may be on opposite sides. Because of the conservatism inherent in man it is more difficult in these matters to get together beforehand to collaborate than to get together after a clash has occurred.
The public interest is tied up with this problem. I suggest that the Government should have particular regard for its own interests and should examine the whole of this question. There are some obvious advantages in the general principle of collaboration. I shall deal with them briefly as headings and not attempt to develop each point because I think they are self-explanatory. When you have employees with a degree of responsibility working beside their employers, collaboration provides an immediate safety valve when conditions develop which could finally erupt into industrial unrest. I am sure 1 do not have to belabour that point. We have merely to consider the industrial troubles that occurred during the last few weeks, as well as the history of industrial troubles over a long period of time to realize that. These things build up and are forced down but finally they erupt in one place and then when you start to probe them they erupt in a dozen or more places.
Employees should be placed in a position to say something about their own welfare and about conditions generally. If this is done it means that there is a continual run of suggestions on the whole of the industry. This is done in the field of production and the specific board with which we are dealing has to do with production. There is the question of how slaughtermen and others are affected. Employee representation on this board would mean that there would be a complete pipeline, as it were, running into that side of industry known as the employee side.
Then, by agreeing to employee representation you create a sense of common purpose and thus build up something that is tremendously important. If employees are excluded they get the feeling that they are merely to do as they are told and have no rights or responsibility in the development of the industry. A sense of purpose arises from the opportunity to take responsibility. Above all, it improves relationship al] along the line. It enables employees and employers to get together when there is a clash and problems commence to develop. It gives the employees an opportunity intelligently to have some responsibility and some say in what is going on in the industry. 1 agree that these are in (he nature of general remarks, but not one of those points is not applicable to the particular board about which we are talking. In the trade union movement, as a union develops it develops power within itself. It is much better, of course, if that power can be allied to responsibility. Unions have terrific responsibility, but here is an opportunity to channel that responsibility so that it will help to control and develop this important industry. If you have a situation where employees have helped to arrive at a decision - this state of affairs has been developed much more highly in other countries than it has in Australia - you will generally find the union is not so anxious to strike or complain about any position that arises because its voice has already been heard in the making of the decision. The smart employer throughout the world, and in Australia, docs not take one step until he knows the mind of the employee representation in his industry. Perhaps he will not heed the employees’ point of view, but that is his responsibility. In very recent times, if this principle had been considered from the very outset we would not have had the strike which occurred.
When employees arc represented both sides learn to play a dual role. The inability to do this is one of the main causes of industrial unrest. You have one side saying, in effect, that it is not worried about the other side, and you have the other side saying exactly the same thing. If employees and employers can play a dual role then obviously this is going to help the industry and keep it from the possibility of industrial unrest.
You do not have to look very far for a precedent. The amendment does not introduce any hew principle. You have this situation on the Australian Meat Board itself. Another precedent can be found if we examine the German co-determination laws. Because of the smashing of Germany the workers were prepared to sacrifice industrial conditions because they wanted to bring their country back to a productive state. In the steel industry they started off by law on the basis of equal representation. In the 1952 act employee representation was altered to two-fifths of the number of directors in the company concerned. It will be seen that in countries where employers and employees have been forced to do these things, they have come through. The fantastic growth in the industrial field in Germany is an example, lt can be seen in Belgium where 75 set-ups completely control the working force. The same condition applies in Sweden. In the United States of America, the situation is obtained by collective bargaining, because collective bargaining brings in the major matter of hours of work, and, in addition, the association of employers and employees automatically leads to the covering of the other facets. From time to time, newspaper articles report that when firms have been going bad, the particular brotherhood in America has moved in to assist an industry to remain solvent and expand. In the Commonwealth Public Service, there are employees on such bodies as promotions appeal boards, and on a joint council - a top-level body - Public Service Board officers co-operate with the representatives of a wide range of unions. So one does not have to go a long way to find precedents to support my amendment. I have carefully checked them, and I believe that they are applicable to the situation of the Australian Meat Board now under consideration.
If my amendment is rejected, the Government will be flying in the face of precedent and world experience. These matters may have had a chequered career in various countries, but when they have become established they have been of great benefit after a period of time. Public Service authorities in 1946 examined the whole question of joint consultation throughout the whole of its ramifications. The idea was not proceeded with because of the urgency of other matters. It is all very well for the Minister to say in a broad sense that the employees have no claim to representation on the board because they are not making a contribution to the live-stock slaughter levy. It is true that, in the opinion of the Minister, they are not paying the piper. On those grounds, the Minister has claimed that they should not have representation on the board. By appointing a representative of the union to the board, the Government would merely be giving the employees some say in the government of their own industry, which effects the whole of their industrial democracy. Putting the question on its lowest level, I feel the Government has nothing to lose by adopting the amendment. The appointment of a representative of the employees to the board would be well worth while for the reasons I have stated. This board is to have a new concept, and it is a retrograde step not to take the opportunity to give the employees in this very delicate industry a voice in the manner I have indicated.
The industry has many peculiarities. The employees are engaged in seasonal work. They are employed on piece work. There is the broad matter of rates payable to a slaughterman, and the amount of killing done has to be taken into consideration. For the reasons I have given, I feel that the Government is losing an opportunity if it does not adopt principles which have been successfully observed in other parts of the world.
.- I have listened with a good deal of interest to the representations made by Senator Willesee on behalf of union representation on this board. I do not seek to detract from the force of his arguments or the logic of the points he made. 1 believe that some of the words he used in his final contribution indicate that the Government has a new concept of the responsibilities of the Australian Meat Board as it is to be reconstituted.
Senator Willesee admits that the board will be filling a new role. It will be moving in a new sphere of operation. That is so true that the Government, in its wisdom, has decided on the composition of the board that appears in the legislation. When the original board was constituted, as I think Senator Morris pointed out to-day, the climate was completely different from the climate in which it operates to-day and, what is perhaps more important, the climate then was completely different from the climate in which it will operate in the future. They are the factors that the Government has taken into consideration, lt is going to reconstitute the board along the lines it has proposed for some very good reasons.
The first point I make is that it appears that the producer will be called upon to increase greatly his existing contribution. I know the principle is still the same. It is a matter of degree, I suppose, whether my argument has any real force; but if the levy is substantially increased I am certain it will produce a great deal more interest in the administration of the board. The board will be handling much greater funds. The board will be responsible to the producers. Therefore, the Government suggests to the committee that there shall be five producers on the board. The producers are the people who have asked for the levy. They are the people who will be paying the levy. They are the people, who. in the opinion of the Government, should decide how that levy shall be expended. Added to that, the Government - I believe quite rightly - suggests to honorable senators that the producer in isolation is not in a position to serve the interests of the people he represents unless he has at his disposal on the board the best selling brains that the country can produce. Therefore, the Government suggests that the producer who pays the increased levy should have, as it were, a predominance of say on the board and that he shall, at the same time, have the benefit of the representatives of the exporting industry who are in a position to make a valuable contribution to the marketing of meat.
That brings me to the final point I wish to make. The board is re-constituted principally to explore new fields of development - new markets - and to concentrate on the marketing of the Australian product. The fact that the unions are not to be represented on this board is no reflection on them. Senator Willesee says there has been no complaint about the contribution the representative of the unions has made in the past. That is so. There is no complaint at all. There is no denying the fact that the producer himself realizes the valuable contributions that the unions themselves make in the distribution and marketing of his product. But in the final analysis, it is the producer who pays the levy. The Government is anticipating new fields of endeavour in this sphere as far as selling the product is concerned. The Government feels quite strongly that the producer should have a say and that he should have the benefit of two representatives of the exporters to advise him in his transactions.
For those reasons, the Government cannot accept the amendment. I emphasize again that that is not to suggest that the people who have been excluded have in any way hindered the operation of the board in the past. They have served their purpose. There is to be a new board, with a new charter, and a new responsibility. It is designed in the main to meet the challenge of marketing our challenge overseas.
– I rise to support the amendment moved by Senator Willesee. He has advanced a number of cogent reasons why this amendment should be adopted. I do not want to repeat what I said in the secondreading debate of the bill, but there is no doubt that the Australian Meat Industry Employees Union has contributed a great deal to the meat industry in this country by its participation on the board. Since the 1940’s, the union has been represented on the board. With the approbation of all political parties in this Parliament, the union was invited to make its contribution on a national scale outside the questions of wages and conditions which ordinarily occupied most of the time of its officers. It did this and did it well. It made its contribution by raising various health matters. It is making its contribution now by setting up a medical research clinic to investigate the diseases which affect meat workers and others.
Apart from this, the presence of the union representative on the board has a secondary but most important effect. It is important that the union should be able to realize the problems of this great industry which affect the nation as a whole, that it should be in touch from day to day with the problems of marketing and that it should be able to know what the future of its members will be in the industry. It has to be able to plan and explain to its members what faces them and what they will be called upon to do. AH these things are extremely important. The Minister said, in effect. “When the union went on the board there was a different climate”. That may well be so. There may have been more industrial trouble at the time when the union went on the board than there is to-day, but it seems to me to be a very short-sighted and fallacious approach to say that because there is a different climate now it is all right to remove the union from the board, without any real reason being advanced as to why that is being done. It may well be that the different climate that has been produced has been contributed to by the presence of the union on the board. It may well be that the removal of the union from the board, in the way that this is to be done, will be an extremely retrograde step, and one which will be regretted by the meat industry.
– Is that a threat?
Senator MURPHY__ It is clear that the
Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union has wanted to contribute, and has, at the invitation extended to it, contributed in fact a great deal to the nation over the past decade or so through its presence on the Australian Meat Board. It would like to continue doing so. There is no question of its wanting any fees or allowances for itself or its members. It is prepared to make this contribution quite voluntarily, but the Minister’s answer is, “ The union should not be represented on the board because, after all, it is the producers who pay “. How real is that approach? Clause 7 of the Live-stock Slaughter Levy Bill provides that the person who owns the livestock at the time when slaughter takes place is liable for the payment of the levy. Clause 7 of the Live-stock Slaughter Levy Collection Bill provides that the proprietor of an abattoir is liable to pay to the Commonwealth an amount equal to any levy on slaughter which has become payable by the owner. He gets his money back by putting a charge on the slaughter. Would it make the slightest difference to the operation of this legislation if the liability were imposed upon the proprietor of the abattoir alone? It would not, because the charge would be passed on, as it will be under these bills, to the consumer as the ultimate payer. It is a mere matter of bookkeeping if it is provided that any one else is liable. Of course this is a charge which is going to be met by the Australian meat consuming public.
There is not the slightest doubt that one could reframe the legislation in many different ways, but ultimate!) it is the meat consuming public who will pay. Who has any doubt that these levies will be passed on and that the public, in its consumption of meat, will be the ultimate payer? Here we find 41,000 members of a great union who seek to be presented on this board, as they were previously represented. The publicly owned abattoirs seek to be represented, and I suppose it could be said - because many of the abattoirs are owned by local councils - that if they were represented, in a way the consuming public would be represented on the board. But no provision has been made for the representation of either of these two great groups, the union and the abattoirs. This is a very serious defect in the bill. The Minister has said that there has been some change in the climate, but he has not indicated any critical reason why a body which has been represented and which, admittedly, has done a good job on this board, should now be removed from it. It might not be so bad if the board were being constituted for the first time, but when you have given these bodies representation you have set up the state of affairs that a great union and others have made their contributions and expect to go on doing so as long as they are doing their jobs properly. For them to be summarily removed from the board is wrong. 1 think Senator Willesee’s amendment should be supported. The Opposition supports it. As I have said, this removal is a very retrograde step and one which the meat industry will regret, not because of any threat, but because it is a regression to remove from the board those interests which are concerned, by way of their livelihoods, in the industry, and deny them participation in decisions which vitally affect their future and, accordingly, that of the persons they represent.
– I think Senator Murphy has let his imagination run away with him. I remind him that up to the present the Australian Meat Board has collected something like £950,000 through the levies. I do not think the consumers have been affected in that way. I rise to oppose the amendment. I agree with the Minister that the conditions necessitating the new legislation are vastly different from those that obtained when the employees’ representative was put on the board. It is the experience gained in the operation of the board over the years that has made the two producer organizations come to the Government and ask for a change. I understand that during the last few years the board has been compelled to do most of its work through committees, because of the unwieldiness of the board itself. That is why the producers have asked for a smaller board.
Coming to the question of employees and awards, I remind the Opposition that the board is not an employer of labour and so is not concerned with awards. The fixing of awards is a job for the arbitration courts. I also remind honorable senators opposite of the point I made the other night - that the industry holds two conferences each year, when the representatives of the employees can attend to state their case.
I have in my hand the minutes of the last meeting of the board. I find that the employees were represented by a Mr. Hall. He spoke on diseases of meat workers applicable to the meat industry. He spoke of conditions in the meat industry as he saw them from the angle of the Victorian scene. He spoke also of the employment situation in Queensland and the final page of the minutes shows that he spoke on the employees’ attitude to the reconstitution of the Australian Meat Board. So the employees have had representation over the years and have made valuable contributions to the meat industry through this forum. Therefore, I believe they are getting an equitable share of opportunity to put their views before the industry.
The other point I want to make is this: Why has the Australian Labour Party submitted an amendment that the Government nominee on the board should be the chairman of the board? It is doing exactly what it has tried to do throughout the debate on this legislation. It is trying to dictate to the industry what it should do. In other words, the Australian Labour Party is saying to the industry, “ We know far better than you what is good for you so we will tell you to do this or that “.
– I wish to support Senator Willesee and reply to Senator Drake-Brockman. Union representation, in my view, is one of the important issues associated with’ the newly constituted Australian Meat Board. My view is different from that of Senator Drake-Brockman. The Minister has argued that the new board is different from the old board but no matter how much the new board extends the scope of the meat, industry in relation to exports, its constitution is related to section 16 of the old act. Its responsibilities are not very much different to those of the old board. Under the old act, the trade union organization had representation on the board.
This is a big industry and in most States the unions play an important part in it. In South Australia, for example, there is a Metropolitan and Export Abattoirs Board and the unions are so closely associated with the industry that they have an important influence on the board. Under the abattoirs legislation in that State, the State president of the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union represents the union on the abattoirs board and his association with other interests in South Australia is beneficial. He can advise on the employment of labour, the skills of the workers and the supply of slaughtermen and key personnel for handling the meat.
If union representation was considered necessary under the old act and the Government is still applying some of the provisions of that legislation so that it can encourage the export of meat, there should be on the Australian Meat Board a member who can advise on employment. The Government cannot expect workers in an industry to go to a conference where they have no status but only an opportunity to make submissions when their representative is being excluded from the board. If the union can take its place on the board, as it did before, it must accept responsibility in relation to the employment side of the industry because it has knowledge of the problems of the industry. As Senator Murphy has said, it knows the hazards and the problems of hygiene and its advice can be of great benefit to the industry.
I did not understand the Minister to say that there is a new climate surrounding this industry or that industrial possibilities had changed. I understood that he argued that under the new bill the accent is on export production. Even this circumstance does not warrant a change from an old practice which was well established. I remind the Government that it is experimenting, itself, with this idea of joint consultation in the waterfront industry, for example. lt is obvious there that the presence of basic committees composed of elements in the industry - workers and employees - has made an important contribution to the waterfront industry.
Senator Willesee has touched upon current trends. I remind the committee of the importance of joint consultation. The giant Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Limited has joint consultation machinery in operation. The workers and the management talk together about the problems of the industry, not only in relation to manufacturing performances within the plant, but also on prospects of sales and export promotion. If such an arrangement is worth something in other important industries, they are worth maintaining in the meat industry. In the United Kingdom, we see this pattern of joint consultation pretty well established. It has sprung mainly from the efforts of two world wars and the Whitby report after the First World War. These things are established in modern industry. They are worthwhile, not only to put the advice of the trade unions and their knowledge before the employers to offset what might be an industrial dispute, but also to achieve the practical and technical skill that cannot be achieved without union participation.
I have not participated previously in this debate but I have listened to the speeches, and having listened to the Government’s reply, I consider that the Minister has not adequately answered the case put forward by the Opposition. We say, as I understand it, that the departures in the new bill are not sufficient to warrant the complete exclusion of the meat employees union from the board, leaving aside the question of abattoirs, because it has been proved that organized labour in all industries can add to efficient performance if given a chance to make a contribution at the top level. It is not good enough to say, “ You can come to the advisory body where you have not the status you had and make a contribution which might be listened to “. If the unions have their old position with representation on the board, more notice will be taken of their words of wisdom and their practical skills.
. -I was pleased to hear the Minister say that no slight was intended on the union associated with the meat industry. But I became uneasy when Senator DrakeBrockman said he supported the Minister and then finished up by contradicting him. The Minister said there had been no complaints from the union representation over the years and there was no slight on the union but for other reasons which he outlined, there would be no union representation on the new Australian Meat Board. Senator Drake-Brockman finished by saying that the unions would want to dominate the board and would want to say that they knew more about the meat industry than the other members.
– I said that the Australian Labour Party had indicated it knew more about the meat industry than other people.
– You said that of the Labour Party? Nobody is asking for representation for the Labour Party on the board. We are asking for union representation which existed on the old board. It is regrettable that Senator Drake-Brockman at his age should be bringing up all the old prejudices that we thought had gone out between the two world wars. These are the things that make us feel uneasy. The whole history of joint consultation throughout the world has never produced the effect that Senator Drake-Brockman has said the Labour Party wants to produce. How has the Labour Party or any political party anything to do with this board? We are merely asking for industrial representation for those whose entire livelihood will be dependant on the board.
Question put -
That the words proposed to beleft out (SenatorWillesee’s amendment) beleft out.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator G. C. McKellar.)
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- The committee having disposed of the amendment, I want to take up with the Minister his reference to a new board with a new charter and new responsibilities. I want to see whether I can get some explanation of just what is being done in the reconstitution of this board. I confine myself to the changes proposed in the producer representation. Representation of the abattoirs and the trade unions is to be eliminated. There will continue to be representation of meat exporters, in about the same proportion, I think, as on the existing board. It seems to me that the only real change is that we are to have five members representing meat producers, whereas previously there were two members representing beef producers, three members representing lamb producers, one member representing mutton producers, and one member representing pig producers.
May I be told whether or not lamb producers are to have a specific representative to speak for them and mutton producers to have a specific representative to speak for them? What will be the achievement of this reconstitution? Is it intended to drop existing personnel? When will the offices of existing personnel expire? I have great difficulty in finding where this will be a really new board, where it will have a new responsibility, and where there will be a new charter.
.- The basic difference between the proposed board and the existing board will bc that no organizational representation as such will be provided for on the new board. The Government is anxious that the people who are selected as representatives of producers shall be the best informed five persons in the industry, regardless of their organizational affiliations. Any one who has studied the composition of the board over a great many years must concede that there is a good deal of merit in this suggestion. I shall not traverse the position in detail or amplify the statement I have made, as that might well be construed as criticism of people who are not here to state a case for themselves. 1 think it is generally conceded that in days gone by there was a tendency to consider the interests of organizations rather than those of the industry as a whole. For that reason, the Government says that the new board shall be re-constituted on a non-organizational basis so far as representation is concerned. Senator Wright has asked whether there will be a direct representative of the fat lamb industry. The answer is, “ No “. He has asked the same question concerning the mutton industry and the answer is again, “ No “. The people who will be selected will be, we hope, people who are well versed in every phase of meat production. 1 imagine that the selection committee would take into consideration the very points that the honorable senator has made. I could not imagine responsible people constituting a board that was comprised wholly and solely of lamb producers, of mutton producers, or of beef producers. I am certain that, in its wisdom, the selection committee will recommend a balanced board, with personnel well versed in the requirements of their particular branches of the industry.
– Are there many producers who produce Iamb, mutton and beef all off the one pasture?
– I should not think there would be a predominance of those people. J am sure there are some people with a variety of interests so far as meat production is concerned, but I think the tendency through the years has been for people to specialize in one branch of production, for the very simple reason that most areas are suitable for one particular type of production. For instance, it is a long-established fact that sheep and cattle never enjoy grazing in the one field. For that reason, taken to its logical conclusion, there have been in the main specialists in each field, or men who have concentrated their efforts on one line of production. The honorable senator also asked whether the present members of the board are eligible for re-election. My understanding is that they are.
– No. When do their terms expire?
– The new members will assume office on a date to be determined by the Minister, which obviously will be immediately after the termination of office of old members. That will probably be 1st July.
.- We have been hearing much about this being a producers’ board. It seems to me that an anomalous situation can arise. In fact, it has arisen because on the old board a member who sits as a representative of the producers is, at the same time, the chairman of directors of a meat exporting firm. The Minister knows whom I am referring to, because I have discussed the matter with him. I realize that the question of conflict of interests is dealt with later in the bill, but if this is to be a producers’ board I do not believe there can be other than men who are solely producers sitting on the board. Otherwise, I believe, a conflict of interest must exist. I suggest that the Minister might consider advising the Senate that producer representation on the board must not be qualified by a member having a dual role - operating on two levels, as a producer and as an exporter. Otherwise the claim that this is a producers’ board will be invalid.
– Before the Minister replies I want to comment on that suggestion. Under the old act it was specifically required that members should be producers in a particular category of the industry. The member appointed to represent the lamb producers was to be a lamb producer and the member appointed to represent the mutton producers was to be a mutton producer.
– What section was that?
– I am referring to section 5 of the Meat Export Control Act 1935-1953. The member to represent the beef producers was to be a beef producer. The present proposal seems to be an intentional departure from that. After referring to the sheep producers representatives being sheep, Iamb and mutton producers, the act stated that they should be appointed from persons nominated by the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation or any other body approved by the Minister. The same requirements existed in respect of the representative of beef producers. The only effects of this reconstitution of the board are to permit representatives of the producers to be other than meat producers and to require that the representatives of the meat producers be nominated by the Graziers Council and the Meat Producers Federation, and not by any other body approved by the Minister.
Those two points have not been developed or explained. I should think, having regard to what Senator Cormack has said, that some explanation should be forthcoming as to whether it is deliberate that the producers’ representatives on the meat side will be permitted to be other than meat producers. Why is it that the nominations of these meat producers’ representatives must come from the Graziers Council and the Meat Producers Federation, whereas under the old act they could come from the Graziers Council, the Meat Producers Federation or any other body approved by the Minister? It seems to me that this is a matter on which we have had no explanation. Why are we confining the sources from which these nominations can come to the Graziers Council and the Meat Producers Federation, although formerly the legislation contained words to permit the Minister, if he thought there was an undue contraction within the industry, to accept nominations from any other body approved by him?
– I am sorry that I cannot amplify my previous remarks to any extent, save to say that I believe that the Meat Board Selection Committee will take into account the very points that the honorable senator has raised. I could not for one moment concede that the selection committee would permit a nomination or the lack of a nomination which eliminated an adequate voice for the fat lamb industry or the mutton industry. Both of the bodies that will have representation on the committee are responsible to their members, who are not entirely lamb producers, mutton producers or beef producers. These bodies have to answer io all of their members, who cover every field in this regard. I think that there is sufficient protection to ensure that those branches of the industry have adequate representation.
Adverting to the further point that Senator Cormack made, I believe that the same comments apply. We have had the Meat Board with us now for many years. In spite of its accomplishments, we all concede that there have been some shortcomings, and the industry itself has, from time to time, voiced criticism of the board, quite properly. The board is charged with the responsibility to act for and on behalf of the producers. I believe that the producers themselves, through their selection committee, will take into account all the factors that will produce the best possible board.
I do not want to give the impression that the Minister will have any part in choosing the representatives of the board, but I think it would be proper for me to say that I shall invite his attention to the points that have been raised by the speakers on this side of the chamber to see whether the selection committee cannot conform to the thinking of honorable senators on this matter. I know that that assurance has no value in law. or so far as the implementation of the act is concerned, but I do believe that the points that have been raised are valid, and that the Minister might well consider bringing them before the notice of the selection committee when it is making its recommendations. It is proper that I should bring these points to the attention or: the Minister because he has the right of choice from a panel of names. That is a further safeguard. I think I should convey to the Minister the points of view that have been expressed by honorable senators because they are people with some experience in this field, and the Minister can take those points of view into account when finally making his selection.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 9. (I.) The Chairman shall be appointed after consultation with the Selection Committee. (2.) The Chairman shall, subject fo section thirteen of this Act, be appointed for three years but is eligible for rc-appointment.
.- I move-
At the end of sub-clause (1.) add the following words: - “ and any other body approved by the Minister as representative of meat producers “.
If the amendment is carried the clause will read -
The Chairman shall bc appointed after consultation with the Selection Committee and any other body approved by the Minister as representative of meat producers. 1 do not think there is any need to labour this point because quite a lot has been said about the selection committee. Senator Wright stated that he had before him a document, as we all have, setting out what purports to be the constitution of the committee. There are very stringent rules relating to the admission of further bodies, and the committee takes unto itself completely dictatorial powers over voting strength and the number of people to be on it. We are at a loss to know why the Minister should be limiting himself in regard to appointing a chairman. As I said in my speech at the second-reading stage, I feel there is a tendency in the whole of this bill for the Minister to be unnecessarily divesting himself of powers that he ought to retain. 1 do not want to refer to the representation of other bodies. The matter has already been referred to in debate. There are several other bodies which could be represented on the selection committee, but representation is to be kept within the industry. The bodies concerned must be meat producers. That is completely in accordance with the whole atmosphere of the bill. We want to see that the Minister does not confine himself to the recommendations of the committee in appointing a chairman, but allows himself the full range of selection. That would be a far happier situation than to see the Minister with restrictions placed on him, as this bill proposes. We want to see that he has a wide field in which to roam in selecting a chairman, because we think that would be in the best interests of the industry.
– I cannot accept the amendment for the very good reason that to do so would make a complete farce of the selection committee. I am not going to discuss what might happen with an irresponsible Minister, but if the clause were amended by the addition of the words, “ and any other body approved by the Minister as representative of meat producers “, the board could be saddled with a chairman who would be totally inadequately equipped to discharge that high responsibility. I think that is sufficient reason for me to place before the committee for the rejection of this proposal. This is a position that calls for a great knowledge and understanding of the industry. It calls for the appointment of a person who is acceptable to the industry. I cannot think of a committee getting away to a worse start than having inflicted upon it as chairman a person in whose appointment the organizations had no say. I think that one of the basic requirements for an effective committee is for the chairman to be chosen by those persons who are responsible for the administration of the committee. To give the Minister a sufficiently wide power to pluck out of the air, as it were, a person who was not well versed in the industry and was not acceptable to the other members of the committee, might well place a burden on the committee that would doom it to disaster right from the inception. For those reasons I cannot accept the amendment.
.- I should like to say a few words about this amendment because I need to be persuaded from the viewpoint that the amendment is not sound. I want to consider the clause. If the committee will extend a little latitude to me, I shall take into consideration the matters that arise on amendment of clause 10 (1.). Clause 9 states-
CD The Chairman shall be appointed after consultation with the Selection Committee.
It does not say, “ in accordance with any direction given by the selection committee “. It is simply a statement that the chairman shall be appointed after consultation. The Minister may completely ignore any recommendation of the selection committee and still be acting within the scope of the clause.
The next point that I wish to make is that the effect of the amendment, as proposed by Senator Willesee, would be not to make the clause read -
The Chairman shall be appointed after consultation with the Selection Committee or any other body approved by the Minister as representative of meat producers, but-
The Chairman shall bc appointed after consultation with the Selection Committee and any other body approved by the Minister as representative of meat producers.
To add those words by way of an amendment does not restrict the Minister at all, except that he may have consultation with anybody approved by him as representative of the meat producers.
The Meat Export Control Act 1946, in section 5 (5), after dealing with industry representatives, provided that the members appointed should come -
We have had no concrete reason why those words should be eliminated. Surely we require very strong reasons to be put before us as to why we should make the whole basis of this newly constituted board the emanation of the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and- Meat Producers Federation. Those two bodies with their affiliations are within the industry, as the Minister pointed out this afternoon, but nevertheless they are two bodies which exclude representation on the committee of other substantive bodies within the industry.
To give statutory powers to a section of the organizations within the industry is somewhat repugnant to my general outlook on industry organizations. It is with some regret that I say that I do not follow the statement made by the Minister that the new board is to be established on a nonorganizational basis. The bill provides that the chairman of the Australian Meat Board is to be appointed after consultation with only two of the organizations in the industry. What objection can there be to providing that before the chairman is appointed the Minister for Primary Industry may consult, in addition to the selection committee, any other body approved by him as representative of meat producers? Within a year or two one of these bodies may well amalgamate with another. Then we will have to go through the whole process of statutory redefinition. But that is only a minor point. I submit that the matters I raised at the outset are of real substance. Cogent reasons will need to be advanced for not adding to clause 9(1.) the words “or any other body approved by the Minister as representative of meat producers “.
– The Minister said he shuddered to think what would happen if the administration of the legislation fell into the hands of an irresponsible Minister. We hope we shall never have irresponsible Ministers dealing with legislation such as this. Then he said that the Australian Meat Board might be saddled with some unworthy person who knew nothing about the industry. I am inclined to think that the Minister misconstrued my remarks and my amendment.
We believe it is best to make the meaning of the clause quite clear and to. show that the organizations in mind are not the only bodies from which the Minister could seek advice. The Minister is not obliged to saddle himself with anybody at all. If the amendment were to be agreed to and if the Minister still believed that the members of the selection committee were the only people whom he had to listen to, that would bc his responsibility. All we are seeking to provide is that if the Minister, after discussing the matter with the selection committee, still has not got the right person to appoint as chairman of the board he should not be prevented from seeking advice from the rest of the industry. We are not seeking to bind the Minister. All we are trying to do is to give him a freer hand than apparently he is prepared to give himself.
– The clause provides that the chairman shall be appointed after consultation with the selection committee. The committee will act only in an advisory capacity, and the Minister may or may not take the advice of the committee. I have no quarrel with that. I am always impressed by the point made by Senator Wright that this Parliament should accept responsibility and be supreme in all matters such as this. That is exactly what is provided for in clause 9. The clause means that the Minister is quite free to make his appointment, after consultation with the selection committee. J have not the slightest doubt that if he wanted to consult other bodies in an effort to find the best person for the position he would do so. The Minister would then be responsible to the Parliament for the appointment. If, for the good of the industry, the Minister went beyond the recommendations of the selection committee and had good reasons to support his action, I have no doubt that the Parliament would add its blessing. On the other hand, if he fell by the wayside, no doubt the Parliament would condemn him and the matter would be ventilated publicly.
– I have not heard from the Minister for Health anything which in any way answers the points raised by Senator Willesee and Senator Wright. We are not considering a voluntary organization. It is not a matter of the producers having come together and having decided to levy themselves. The Parliament has been asked to interpose in this matter and to give its sanction to certain arrangements, to provide for a levy to be collected, that levy to have the force of law, and to provide for a body that may make regulations and do all sorts of other things. So the community itself has been brought into the picture by the Parliament.
If the Minister for Primary Industry is to appoint the chairman of the Australian Meat Board, it can be done in either of two ways. First, we can say that the chairman shall be appointed by the Minister, and leave the matter there. Then, if the Minister wants to consult the selection committee or any other body, he may do so. He is responsible to the Parliament for his selection. If he makes a bad selection, he is answerable here. But Senator Willesee, supported by Senator Wright, asks, “ Why should the Minister be required to consult the selection committee, and only that body? “ The Minister for Health has said that if the Minister making the appointment goes outside the selection committee and makes a mistake, he is answerable here. But if he does not go beyond the selection committee, if he makes a bad selection and if the Parliament wants to know why he has done so, under the present clause he may come here and say: “ I consulted the selection committee. That is all I have to do. I have done what has been indicated to me in the legislation.. You did not suggest that I should consult anybody else. How can I be blamed, because I followed the path which is indicated? “
Surely the sensible thing to do is to extend the existing provision in the clause. No argument has been advanced against the proposal that the Minister should be able to consult any other body representative of the meat producers. If that provision were included, the Minister would have more difficulty in explaining away any bad selection he might make. No real reason has been advanced as to why the Minister should be confined, in the direction issued to him in the bill, to consultation only with the selection committee.
– He is not confined to that by the bill, is he?
– In the direction that is issued to him he is confined to the selection committee. I mean that he is directed only to consult the selection committee. Of course, he is not directed not to consult anybody else; he is directed only to consult the selection committee. Why should he be confined in that way? What possible damage could be done if the direction to him were to be extended in the way suggested? If the Minister wanted to be sure that his selection would not be open to complaint, no doubt he would extend the area of his consultation before making such an important appointment. I think that Senator Willesee is on sound ground. The Opposition supports him and I have heard nothing whatever from the Minister to suggest why the words proposed should not be included.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be added (Senator Willesee’s amendment) be added.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator G. C. McKellar.)
Majority . . . . 3
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 10. (1.) Each member to represent Australian meat producers shall be appointed from amongst persons whose names are included in a list of names submitted to the Minister by the Selection Committee. (2.) Where the Selection Committee has submitted to the Minister a list of names for the purpose of the last preceding sub-section, the Minister may, if he thinks fit, request the Selection Committee to submit to him the names of additional persons for inclusion in the list.
.- I move-
Leave out sub-clauses (1.) and (2.), insert the following sub-clauses: - “(1.) Each member to represent Australian meat producers shall be appointed from amongst persons whose names are submitted to the Minister by the Selection Committee and by any other body approved by the Minister as representative of meat producers. (2.) Where the Selection Committee or such other body has submitted to the Minister names for the purpose of the last precedingsub-section, the Minister may, if he thinks fit, request’ the Selection Committee or such other body to submit to him the names of additional persons.”.
I will be commendably brief because we have already had an argument on the principle involved in this amendment during the debate on the last clause. I repeat the same argument that I have used already. In spite of the reasons given by the Minister the Opposition feels that the selection committee should not be the only body concerned in the important question of members. In debating the last clause we dealt with the position of the chairman. The Opposition feels that the same principle should apply to members of the board representing meat producers. We do not like the idea of the Minister’s divesting himself of responsibility in the appointment of board members. That seems to be the difference of opinion between us on this bill.
.- As briefly as Senator Willesee has stated his case I shall state the case for the Government. For the very reasons we rejected his previous amendment we again reject this amendment. The Government believes that the selection committee has been properly constituted to do a certain task and it stands by the clause in the bill.
.- At the risk of taking up time I desire to ask a question so that I can understand the alternatives in this matter. What is the difference between the amendment that has just been defeated and this amendment? If it is worthy of consideration the honorable senator might explain to us what arethe ideas that distinguish the previous amendment from the present one. I would think that both amendments embody the principle that has been applied by the Government, which is that the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation should be the sole bodies to comprise this statutory committee. I understand that the Labour Opposition is putting forward the view that the board may be constituted by the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council, the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation or such other body as may be approved by the Minister as being representative of meat producers. I would be obliged if it could be explained to me what is the distinction to be drawn between the two amendments.
– The difference is that one amendment is shorter than the other. If the first amendment had been carried, then the number of members on the board would have been different and therefore we would have had to provide that two members should be appointed for one year and two members for another year and so on. As the previous amendment was not carried, we are not to have eleven members on the board, but only nine.
The CHAIRMAN (Senator McKellar)Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Chairman do now leave the Chair and reportto the Senate.
Question resolved in the negative.
– That is why it was a contingent amendment. We want to embody the same number. Had we been successful with the first amendment to clause 8, we would have been obliged automatically to alter the numbers on the board.
– Did the honorable senator move his amendment that was contingent on the non-acceptance of amendment No. 1?
Senate adjourned at 10.32 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 21 April 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1964/19640421_senate_25_s25/>.