25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– My questions are directed to the Minister for Health: 1. Is it a fact that the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories are conducting a promotion campaign throughout Australia to sell C.S.L. influenza vaccine? 2. Is the Minister aware that there is a violent reaction against this move by the medical profession and State health authorities? 3. Is it a fact that the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories mark up numerous products at a rate of 200 per cent.? If this is a fact, will the Minister call for a full report on profit margins employed by this public utility? 4. Is it a fact that the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories commissioners are attempting to double the statutory allowance for the disposal of capital assets from £20,000 to £40,000 not requiring the approval of the Minister? If this is correct, will the Minister give the reasons advanced for this alarming increase in the value of public assets which may be disposed of without the Minister’s approval? 5. What is the cost to date of the new administration building in Poplar-road, Parkeville, Victoria, now being erected for the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories? What is the final estimate of the cost of this building? How many members of the administrative staff will occupy this building? 6. Is it a fact that the chairman
– Order! The honorable senator’s question is becoming too involved.
– It is nearly finished. Is it a fact that the chairman of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Commission is also chairman of the Olympic Tyre Company and that he, in the middle of 1963, undertook an overseas trip by air and was away about two months? If this is correct, what was the cost of this trip, and was the cost charged in part or in full against the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories? What were the reasons for the trip?
Does the chairman of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Commission possess any academic and/ or scientific qualifications?
– There are some aspects of this question that I cannot answer now. I will dissect the question and write to the Minister for Works seeking specific information as to the costs of the building. Answering the question generally, I have no knowledge of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories embarking upon an extensive campaign to sell influenza vaccine in Australia. Therefore, the second part of the honorable senator’s question relating to that matter has no relevance. The prices of the products of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories are competitive. I remind the honorable senator that the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Commission is a statutory body which is operating in a competitive field. If it is going to succeed, as it is succeeding, and continue to provide a magnificent service to Australia, its prices must be competitive. So far as approvals required from the Minister are concerned, they are always sought and obtained. The Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Commission is a most efficient and effective body which knows its obligations and never departs from them. The reference by the honorable senator to the chairman of the commission is almost offensive to me because in anybody’s language he is a great Australian. If there is any suggestion in the question that the chairman undertook the overseas trip as a holiday jaunt,I refute it entirely. He did go overseas. He went with the full approval of his board. His achievements while he was abroad have been of great benefit to the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories. Is the ire of the honorable senator stirred because the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories is now becoming a trading organization, running on a profitable basisand not pulling on the taxpayers? If that is the case, I suggest to him that that is quite an unfair attitude to adopt.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Civil Aviation a question concerning the continuing hazard to air safety caused by the presence of large numbers of sea gulls in the vicinity of the Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) airport. Can he inform the Senate of the progress that has been made in meeting this problem?
– A meeting was held in Sydney last month to discuss what quick action could be taken to remove or lessen the bird hazard at the Sydney airport. The meeting was attended by representatives of the Department of Civil Aviation, of the New South Wales Department of Local Government and of the Rockdale and Marrickville councils. Both those councils operate tips in the immediate vicinity of the airport. The Rockdale Council’s tip is at Barton Park and the Marrickville Council’s tip is at St. Peters. Five other councils - Woollahra, Waverley, Randwick, Botany and North Sydney - also dump food garbage into the St. Peters lip. There is indisputable expert evidence that the tips, particularly the St. Peters tip, attract thousands of scavenging sea gulls to the vicinity of the airport.
The representative of my department at Monday’s meeting told the councils that the problem was urgent and that the department wanted them immediately to cease dumping food garbage at St. Peters and Barton Park. The department made it quite clear that it does not want to close the tips to hard garbage but wishes only to prevent them from being used for food garbage, which attracts large numbers of birds. The department realizes that this request poses problems for the councils concerned and it has suggested a plan aimed at improving the situation immediately. The details of this suggestion arc being discussed now by the Department of Local Government with the councils, and my department is awaiting their answer. 1 should emphasize that no one realizes the urgency of this problem more than the Department of Civil Aviation. The department has the responsibility of keeping flying in Australia as safe as possible, and 1 think one has only to look at Australia’s excellent safety record to realize that the department has not failed, and will not fail, to meet its responsibilities in this area.
– Has the Minister for National Development seen a statement by Sir Edward Warren, the chairman of the Australian Coal Association, in which he claims that the oil industry shows a complete lack of regard for the future of the Australian coal industry? Is Sir Edward correct in saying that the coal industry is being very seriously injured by the unrestricted flow of oil imports to Australia?
– I have seen that statement and I have seen other statements on the subject. This is one of those things in regard to which it is much easier to make statements than to provide a solution. Cheap fuel is the foundation of efficient industry. Nationally, we need fuel as cheaply as we can obtain it, under competitive conditions. 1 have said previously in the Senate that over a long period of time I have made representations to oil refining companies upon the basis that they are importing to a greater extent than is necessary and are thus unnecessarily expending foreign exchange. Notwithstanding those representations, one of the companies continues to import fuel oil, despite the large production of fuel oil in Australia. Other companies are continuing to import refined oil products. These could be produced in Australia if the total available refining capacity was utilized in some competitive fashion. In my view, this creates unfair competition with coal and as a result I am putting the position before the Government. 1 do not think it is appropriate to say what recommendations I am making, nor can I say that my recommendations will be adopted.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration and concerns a report in the press this morning (hot a film entitled “ Room Down Under “ is about to be shown on television in America. The film is reported to show Australia through the eyes of an immigrant and is said to deal with our immigration policies as being restrictive policies. I ask the Minister: Has he or one of his officers been given an opportunity to see this film so as to ensure that our policies ore correctly represented? As I personally have seen most distorted views on Australia put forward on television in both England and America, I ask whether it is possible to request that such films be shown to responsible people so that they can give constructive criticism on them before they are exhibited overseas.
– I have not seen the film referred to by the honorable senator. I have had no opportunity to see it. Senator Buttfield is rather vague as to whether it was produced in Australia or overseas.
– It was produced in Australia for exhibition in the United States of America.
– If it was produced in Australia, it could not be exported without first being seen by the Commonwealth Film Censorship Board. I imagine that is the position.
– It was produced by an American company in Australia.
– Even if it was produced by an American company in Australia, I do not think it could be exported without being inspected. I have not had a case like this -referred to me before and I am speaking off the cuff, but I think that is the position. It would have to be seen by the Commonwealth Film Censorship Board before it could be exported. I will make inquiries and ascertain the facts.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. As Parliament will shortly go into recess for some ten weeks, I ask the Minister: Does he recall having assured me that he would ascertain from the Postmaster-General whether he had agreed to my request that the Australian Broadcasting Control Board be asked to survey the Kalgoorlie and Geraldton areas to see whether package type television stations would be suitable for providing a television service in these two very important areas? Is it a fact that it costs only about £50,000 to establish a 100- watt package-type television station? Will this type of station transmit the same films as an A class station? Will these stations also take some direct telecasts? Is it true that only two people are required to operate such a station? Is it a fact that a commercial television station at Perth is prepared to set up a package-type station in Kalgoorlie provided that the PostmasterGeneral grants a licence? Are these stations operating successfully in England? Finally, could I expect an answer to these questions before the Senate goes into recess?
– I well remember the honorable senator asking the questions but as yet I have not received the information required from the Postmaster-General. I will endeavour to have it before the Parliament goes into recess.
– I did see the newspaper article to which the honorable senator refers, but we should be very wary at all times of paying too much attention to a journalist’s daily article on matters of this kind. Certainly, we cannot pay the sort of attention to such ephemeral writing as we would pay to something that came from some sort of genuine educational foundation. This being the only evidence that I have, I do not know whether or not it is true that numbers of students in the United States of America feel under a strain and require psychiatric treatment. I do understand that in the United States as a whole in all walks of life, getting psychiatric treatment is a bit of a fad in any case, and the matter mentioned by the honorable senator may be a reflection of that state of affairs.
I am surprised at the suggestion that strain is due partly to the fact that education is now prolonged and that, therefore, adolescence is stretched out. I do not quite see the direct connexion. I should have hoped that most people did not cease being educated when they passed adolescence. It seems to me that education is a process that may go on for all of one’s life and not necessarily impose strains on most people. 1 have no indication at all that the situation to which the honorable senator refers exists in any way in Australia. There may well be some basis of this kind in the future when more and more of the population undertake a university-type education, but J do not know of any indication of it at the moment. I do know that the Australian Universities Commission, in its dealings with universities, does regard the provision of proper playing fields and proper amenities as a necessary part of university life, which could well help to avoid the cumulative effect of any such strains.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service been directed to a report that the Commonwealth council of the Amalgamated Engineering Union will oppose the Government’s adult tradesmen training scheme? Will the Minister comment on this opposition at a time when there is known to be insufficient skilled labour to undertake work on projects very necessary to the development of Australia?
– I should not be prepared to comment now on the matter, which comes under the administration of my colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service, but I shall bring the honorable senator’s question to his attention and ask him whether he desires to make any comment.
– Has the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research seen a report in the “ Canberra Times “ of 1st May that the council of the Australian Academy of Science had expressed its deep disappointment that the Government had not yet considered a number of its proposals, including one for the establishment of a national science fund for the support, on an individual basis, of high quality scientific research projects? Is it true that the academy’s proposal has been before the Government for some considerable time? Has the Government any attitude to the proposal and, if so, when will it be revealed to the academy and the public?
– I saw the newspaper report to which the honorable senator has referred. I think that he has misquoted it. I understood the request to be not for a national science fund but for a national science foundation.
– The report referred to the establishment of a fund.
– From my conversations with the Academy of Science, 1 think that it sought the establishment of a national science foundation. The academy’s proposals, which are not confined to this particular matter, have been before the Government for some considerable time. J.n fact, 1 myself have discussed the proposals with Professor Cherry, the president of the academy. However, these proposals need not necessarily be accepted by any government. Included in them are a number which relate to research in outer space, the establishment of a national science foundation, and a large number of other projects, all of which would make considerable demands on the finance that is available for education generally in this country.
The attitude of the Government is that, as proposals come from this source, it will consider them with great care and interest. It will not necessarily accept them but will stack them up against general requirements in the whole field of education and research and consider them on that basis and in the light of all the other things that the Government has to do. The proposals received are still under consideration as between the Government and the Academy of Science,
– I address to the Minister for Civil Aviation a question relating to the statement in yesterday’s news that the new radar system at the Adelaide airport which will cost £250,000 will be fully operational by the third week in July. Can the Minister explain exactly what this new radar system will do for aircraft using the Adelaide airport which cannot be done for them now? Will it enable aeroplanes to land at and leave Adelaide in all weathers by either day or night?
– The honorable senator’s question involves technical considerations. I am sure he is well aware of my practice of avoiding, wherever possible, the discussion of technicalities which I do not fully understand. However, the question is an interesting one. If trie honorable senator will be so good as to put it on the notice-paper, I shall get a prepared answer from the technical officers of my department which I am sure he will find most interesting.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry whether the Tariff Board has submitted a report on the subject of shipbuilding. If so, can he indicate when it will be presented to the Parliament? My interest in the matter stems from the hope that the report may have some significance in relation to shipping services to King Island.
Senator Sir WILLIAM SPOONER__ I am not quite certain of the technique that is employed in dealing with Tariff Board reports and how much one should say. However, I think I can safely say that the board has submitted its report and that it has been considered by the Government. I think I should let the matter rest there.
– I preface my question, which is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, by pointing out that last Saturday, 9th May, was a day of special Australian national significance but that the Government failed to commemorate this important Australian anniversary. Honorable senators will recall that it was the anniversary of the opening of the first Federal Parliament, in Melbourne more than 60 years ago. Furthermore, it was the anniversary of the establishment of the seat of government in Canberra, on which occasion an important ceremony was held in this Parliament House. The 9th May was also the date selected by the government of the day to mark the granting of some small form of parliamentary administration in New Guinea. I now ask the Minister: Why does not the Government take active steps to see that Australian anniversaries such as these are marked throughout Australia by a simple but appropriate ceremony? Is it correct to say that, following the recent elections in Papua and New Guinea, the GovernorGeneral will visit the Territory soon to inaugurate the new territorial parliament? If this is so, why did the Government not select 9th May as the date for this event which is of great Australian parliamentary significance? Is the failure to do so due to the thoughtlessness of the Government, which generally adopts a could-not-care-less altitude?
– The last part of the question obviously requires an answer. The answer is the simple one that Senator Hendrickson is out of step with the rest of the regiment. The people generally in Australia have a very high regard for the Government, as indicated by electoral results. The honorable senator in the earlier part of the question, gave an interesting series of dates. I was not aware of the sequence.
– You are out of step.
– I do not pretend to know everything. I would think that somewhere within the Public Service notice was taken of the sequence. I do not think it is possible to link the opening of the new Parliament in Papua and New Guinea with the dates mentioned. There are all sorts of mechanics involved in making arrangements, such as the date for the return of writs in connexion with the recent election, and so on. I can only thank Senator Hendrickson for bringing the facts to my notice. 1 shall keep them in the back of my mind and they may be useful at some time in the future.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Can the Minister say what amounts are still outstanding on loans to Ansett Transport Industries Limited which were guaranteed by the Commonwealth Government?
– The total of the loans made to Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited, which was taken over by Ansett Transport Industries Limited, and guaranteed by the Commonwealth Government, was £4,350,000. These loans were repaid several years ago. Ansett Transport Industries borrowed a further £4,820,000, making a total of approximately £9,173,000 guaranteed by the Government. These loans also have been repaid in full, with the exception of an amount of £13,000 still outstanding in respect of certain Rolls-Royce engines, and this amount will be repaid by early September of this year. For practical purposes it can therefore be said that all the loans guaranteed by the Commonwealth Government to date have been repaid.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. Is the Minister aware that most of the political excesses now taking place in Australia amongst Croatians and Serbians are limited to the younger members of these communities? Does the Minister agree that these young people have had little chance to understand the democratic way of life? Does he also agree that they arc subject to propaganda that is coming from overseas, from paid agents of counter-revolutions? I have evidence that this is happening. If the Minister sympathizes with the ideas that I am expressing, will he consider setting up within the Department of Immigration an educational service which could be directed towards teaching these young people how they should live in a democracy?
-I am not aware that the honorable senator’s assumption that this is confined only to young people is correct. The evidence that I have read in the press so far suggests the contrary. However, if the honorable senator will put the question on the notice-paper 1 will bring it to the attention of the Minister for Immigration to see whether he has any comment to make.
(Question No. 90.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The Minister for External Affairs has supplied the following replies: -
(Question No. 95.)
asked the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honourable senator’s questions are as follows: -
(Question No. 101.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice -
Senator Sir WILLIAM SPOONER.The Minister for Trade and Industry has furnished the following replies to the honorable senator’s questions: -
(Question No. 110.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The Minister for Social Services has supplied the following answers: -
(Question No. 120.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Air, upon notice -
– My colleague, the Minister for Air, has supplied the following information: -
These questions relate to the views and objectives of the United States services and, as such, the answers are not within my competence.
Whatever the problems with the aircraft in any individual United Stales Service may be, this aircraft is eminently suitable for our requirements.
(Question No. 132.)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following information: - 1 and 2. Eighty-eight applications arc held up because of a shortage of exchange equipment line plant. 3 and 4. The exchange building was completed in October 1963, and, provided deliveries of the necessary components are received from the manufacturers as scheduled, 400 additional lines of equipment should be available in November next.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following information: -
Burleigh Heads/Currumbin (Queensland)
Campbelltown/ Camden/Picton (New South Wales)
Dungog (New South Wales)
Gosford (New South Wales)
Newcastle (Hamilton Exchange) (New South Wales)
Penrith (New South Wales)
Rockingham/Safety Bay (Western Australia)
Windsor (New South Wales)
Wollongong (New South Wales)
In most cases, S.T.D., is available to the capital city network only, in the Slate concerned. Generally, these initial installations represent cases where urgent relief was required to manual trunk handling facilities. The rate charged for each three minutes is the samp for an S.T.D. call as one manually connected. However, the method of recording the call charges, under S.T.D. conditions involves repeated operations of the subscriber’s meter as the call progresses, at a frequency according to the charge applicable, each operation representing one local call fee. Thus the actual charge for a call is more closely related toits duration, resulting in lower charges for calls depending on the extent that they are less than a 3-minute multiple.
(Question No. 130.)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice: -
– The PostmasterGeneral has supplied the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions: -
– On 4th March, Senator Drake-Brockman asked me the following question: -
Does the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral recall my question to him last week about television licences for rented furnished premises? Is he awarethat the Postmaster-General, when replying yesterday to a similar question asked in another place, staled that he was prepared to look into this matter and inform the honorable member of the result? In view of my interest in the matter, will the Minister seethat a copy of the information supplied is made available to me?
The Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following information in reply: -
The Broadcasting and Television Act 1942-1962 prescribes that a television viewer’s licence should be held in respect of all television receivers. These licences fall into one of three categories - a hirer’s licence, a lodging house licence, and a television viewer’s licence. Hirer’s licences are issued to the hirer of television sets, whilst lodging house licences cover the set provided in such premises in the category of hotels, boarding houses and guest houses. A furnished house or flat does not come within the definition of a lodging house and, of course, a hirer’s licence could not legally cover a set that was not on hire to a viewer. The furnished flat situation, therefore, can only be covered by the normal viewers licence.
The responsibility for obtaining a television viewer’s licence is placed with the lessee of the furnished flat as his obligation in this respect is similar to that of a home owner/occupier. To meet the requirements of the act for television viewer’s licences, the set must be in the possession of the holder of the licence or of a mmber of his family at the address specified in the licence. However, this does not seem to be in the best interests of those people who occupy the furnished premises for short periods and a belter arrangement would bc to have the owner of the premises responsible for obtaining the licence. This matter is, therefore, to be further examined lo see whether it is possible lo overcome the problem.
– On 16th April Senator Toohey asked me the following question: - ls it a fact that the Australian Broadcasting Commission will in South Australia, and possibly in other Stales, bc taking over certain technical services now operated by the Postmaster-General’s Department? If this is correct, when will this take-over become operative? Will the interests of the technicians concerned be adequately protected and will they bc given due and sufficient advice of the effect of the change and how this matter will concern them?
The Postmaster-General has now furnished me with the following information in reply: -
Yes, the control of broadcasting studio technical services for the national broadcasting service, throughout the Commonwealth, is lo be transferred from (he Post Office to the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The takeover will become operative progressively during the last three months of this year.
Yes, sick leave, furlough credits and superannuation rights will be preserved. The staff concerned have each been advised personally of the change and its effects and the matter has been discussed wilh the staff associations concerned.
– by leaves - Mr. President, it has been brought to my notice that in a radio news session this morning I was reported as having criticized the Australian-American Memorial. The report seems to have been based on a question that I asked a repre sentative of the National Capital Development Commission after the display that it had here last evening. The question that I asked was in this form: Is it intended to erect any more monstrosities similar to the defence buildings near the AustralianAmerican Memorial?
Reports on Items.
– I present reports by the Tariff Board on the following subjects: -
Bobby pins of ferrous metal.
Passionfruit juice and passionfruit pulp.
Precision ground ball bearings.
Tinsmiths’ snips or shears.
I also lay on the table of the Senate a report by a special advisory authority on the following subject: -
Motion (by Senator Sir William Spooner) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a bill for an act to amend the Petroleum Search Subsidy Act 1959-1961, and for purposes connected therewith.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Wade) read a first time.
.- I move-
That the bill be now read a second time. lt is once again my privilege to introduce into the Senate a number of proposals for the development and strengthening of the national health scheme. The bill includes amendments to several parts of the National Health Act. Firstly, it provides for substantial increases in Commonwealth medical benefits to all contributors to registered medical benefits funds. Secondly, it provides that arrangements for reducing or rebating the 5s. pharmaceutical benefits fee are to be limited to persons who are already entitled to reduced charges or to rebates. Finally it includes several amendments of a machinery nature which are being made to improve the working of the scheme.
I will deal first with the proposed increases in medical benefits, and to assist honorable senators to appreciate the background to these proposals, I will begin by referring to some of the more important earlier developments in the history of the medical benefits scheme. Commonwealth medical benefits first became payable to members of registered medical benefits funds in July, 1963, and, in the first year of the scheme, Commonwealth and fund benefits totalling £2,900,000 were paid in respect of 3,300,000 medical services. In the tenth year of the scheme, that is the year ended 30th June, 1963, Commonwealth and fund benefits including ancillary benefits amounting to £28,300,000 were paid in respect of 23,400,000 medical services. In these first ten years of the scheme the number of persons covered by it increased from 1,425,000 to 7,686,000. These figures do not include persons who do not insure because they are covered by the pensioner medical service, repatriation medical services and other forms of government assistance. 1 give these figures because they represent proof of the strong public support for the voluntary insurance scheme which this Government initiated and has fostered. This public support is a matter of very great satisfaction to the Government. It vindicates the view we have always held that a voluntary insurance scheme based on selfhelp is the most appropriate to our Australian needs and way of life. This is because the scheme combines an assurance of every citizen’s freedom to choose his own doctor with effective protection against financial hardship when illness occurs. We believe that this freedom and protection arc well worth preserving. At the same time we recognize the need for adjustments to be made when changes in conditions require them. It is because we believe the time has come to make some adjustments that we have brought this bill forward. The problem which has caused us the greatest concern is the margin between doctors’ charges for medical services and the benefits payable under the scheme. I propose to go into some detail to explain why this presents a problem, as well as how it is proposed to meet it.
The percentage return of medical benefits to doctors’ fees depends on two factors, namely the amount of the fee and the amount of the combined Commonwealth and medical fund benefit. The Government has not the power to fix doctors’ fees by compulsion, nor has it any intention of seeking that power. We believe in the people’s freedom of choice to select their own doctors and the doctors’ freedom to charge the fees that they consider appropriate for their patients. This means in practice that doctors’ fees for particular services will vary as between patients, according to the circumstances. On the other hand, it is absolutely essential to the financial soundness of a medical insurance scheme that a specific amount of benefit is pre-determined for each particular service. A medical insurance scheme which paid by way of benefit a fixed proportion of variable fees could not survive financially without repeated increases in the rates of contributions from the members themselves or in the Government subsidy.
For this reason the Government will not and cannot give an undertaking that patients will invariably receive benefits equalling 90 per cent, or any other percentage of fees charged by every doctor. It is a condition of the registration of medical benefits insurance funds that the total benefits - Commonwealth plus fund - that are paid to contributors are not to exceed 90 per cent, of the doctor’s charge. This condition is made to ensure that patients are personally responsible for a proportion of doctors’ charges and it serves to discourage unnecessary use of the scheme. But it does not and cannot mean that 90 per cent, of the doctor’s charge will be paid as benefits in every case. The Government has, however, taken a number of steps which will result in a substantial improvement in the benefits payable to contributors. We first of all had some detailed discussions with the Australian Medical Association regarding a number of anomalies in the medical benefits schedule that had developed over the years and which the association’s own examination had revealed. As a result of these discussions a wide measure of agreement was reached with the association regarding the amendments that were required to the schedule in this connexion.
The Federal Council of the Australian Medical Association has also kept me informed of the progress it has made in its discussions with its State branches regarding the stabilization of doctors’ fees, the principle of which was accepted by the federal council some months ago. The position in this regard is that the Australian Medical Association has no legal power to require its members to maintain any particular level of fees. However, the federal president of the association has advised mc that, after consultation with the association’s branches, stabilization of fees has virtually been implemented throughout Australia, and that no recommendation to increase fees would be sponsored by the association as n result of increases in benefits under the National Health Act.
Following these discussions and a most detailed examination of the medical benefits schedule by officers of my department, a new schedule of Commonwealth benefits has been drawn up, in which the benefits generally have been substantially increased. The general pattern is lo increase Commonwealth benefits by 331 per cent. In a number of instances, because of alterations to benefits to adjust anomalies, the increase will be greater than 33) per cent. For example, an increase is being made from 15/- to £1 10s. on the Commonwealth benefit for X-ray of foot, ankle and lower leg; an increase from £11 5s. to £20 for removal of the thyroid gland and an increase from £11 5s. to £30 in item 1401 of the schedule, which is a major operation on the hip joint.
These new Commonwealth benefits will in many instances be greater than the usual fund benefits and I am satisfied that, when added to the fund benefits, they will give contributors a satisfactory return on the charges most commonly made by doctors for medical procedures. 1 must emphasise, however, that I am referring to a satisfactory return on the charges most commonly made. 1 will give two or three examples to illustrate this point and some of the earlier points I have been making. In a recent survey covering some hundreds of thousands of medical services that were the subject of medical benefit claims, wc found that the doctor’s fees charged for ante-natal care, confinement and post-natal care ranged from £6 6s. to £70. Sixty-three different fees in all were charged within this range. The most common fees throughout the Commonwealth were £15 J 5s., £16 16s., and £14 14s. in that order. The revision of Commonwealth benefits included in this bill will enable contributors to receive benefits equal to the maximum amount of 90 per cent, of the doctor’s fee if they are charged £ 1 6 1 6s. or less for this service. Of course, if they are charged higher fees their percentage return will bc correspondingly lower. For example, if they are charged £21 their percentage return will be 71 per cent, if they are charged £30 their precentage return will be 50 per cent. But I repeat that contributors who are charged the most common fee for this service will receive benefits equal to 90 per cent, of that fee.
In the course of the survey to which I have referred, my officers recorded the fees for all the medical services which are of frequent occurrence. One of these services is appendicectomy. It was found that 47 different fees were charged for this operation, ranging from £10 10s. to £63. The most common fee charged throughout the Commonwealth is £26 5s. The new Commonwealth benefit for this service will be £10 which, when added to the fund benefit generally payable of £12 10s., will give a total benefit of £22 10s., or S5 per cent, of the most common fee.
There are over 1,000 separate medical procedures specified in the medical benefits schedule and it is obviously impracticable for me to go through each and every one of the details which were considered in fixing the new scale of benefits. I do wish to emphasise, however, that the principle which has been followed is to determine the Commonwealth benefit which, with the addition of fund benefit, will provide a reasonable return to contributors on the charges commonly made by doctors. There is special interest in the benefits payable for consultations with specialists and general practitioners and I will therefore outline what benefits will be payable in these cases. It has always been provided that the benefit payable for a consultation with a specialist to whom a patient has been referred by another doctor is higher than the benefit for a consultation when the patient has not been so referred. This recognises the traditional practice within the medical profession whereby medica! practitioners, where they consider it necessary, refer their patients to a colleague who possesses special skill and experience in a particular field of medicine. An extensive survey has been made to determine what fees have been most commonly charged for first consultations in these cases, lt was found that the most common fee was £3 3s. and that the next most common fee was £4 4s. A fee of £3 3s. or less was charged in slightly over 50 per cent, of the cases. The new Commonwealth benefit for this service will be £1 5s. which, with the addition of the usual fund benefit of £1 13s., will give a new total benefit of £2 18s This will represent a return of 90 per cent, to the contributor, who is charged £3 3s. by the specialist, and 69 per cent, when the specialist’s charge is £4 4s. Where fees of more than £4 4s. are charged, the percentage return to the contributor will of course be lower, but this arises from the fact, as I have explained, that the Commonwealth benefit has been determined on the basis of the most common fee. The figures I have quoted apply to first consultations with specialists to whom the patient has been referred by another doctor. Separate benefits are specified in relation to consultations after the first.
For consultations with general practitioners the fees charged vary, first of all as between States and secondly, according to whether the consultation takes place at the doctor’s surgery or at the patient’s home. The majority of consultations take place at doctors’ surgeries, only about one quarter involving home visits. Because of the variations in fees and, having regard to the principles which have been followed, it is not practicable to fix a Commonwealth benefit which will result in patients receiving an equal percentage return in all cases. The new Commonwealth benefit for a consultation with a general practitioner will be 8s. compared with the present benefit of 6s. The new total benefit for these consultations will be 18s. in New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania, but will be 15s. 6d. in Victoria where the medical benefits insurance funds operate slightly lower tables. In South Australia the usual total benefit will be 15s. 6d. for a surgery consultation and 17s. for a home visit. The most common fees for surgery consultations are £1 in South Australia, £1 ls. in Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia and £1 5s. in New South Wales and Tasmania. The most common fees for home visits are £1 7s. 6d. in South Australia, £1 1.0s. in Western Australia, £1 lis. 6d. in Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania and £1 12s. 6d. in New South Wales. The percentage return to the contributor on these fees will vary from about 72 per cent, to 86 per cent, in the case of surgery visits, which represent about threequarters of all general practitioner consultations. In the case of the smaller percentage of consultations which involve visits by general practitioners to the home, the percentage return will generally be from 50 per cent, to 60 per cent, of doctors’ usual fees.
The percentage rebates I have quoted have been on the basis of the new Commonwealth benefits provided for in this bill added to fund benefits currently payable to contributors in the most popular tables. It is clear that there are some areas in which there is room for higher fund benefits to be provided to make up the difference between the new benefits which will be payable and the doctors’ fee commonly charged for particular services, such as the home visit. I am confident that the medical benefits funds will apply their wisdom and experience, to the problem of what adjustments should be made to fund benefits and contributions to meet this situation.
Whilst all contributors will be entitled to receive the increased Commonwealth benefits without being obliged to make any increase in their weekly contributions, it will be permissible for the medical benefits funds to seek approval for the introduction at a later date of new fund benefit tables providing for payment of higher fund benefits to contributors who elect to pay higher contributions.
The funds have indicated that they do not intend to introduce new fund benefit tables for some months until the effect of the payment of Commonwealth benefits at higher rates has been assessed. The extent to which new tables will be introduced and what extra contributions and benefits will be provided for in these tables is a matter for the funds themselves to consider in the first instance. The new Commonwealth benefits will be payable whether a contributor joins a new table or remains in the table to which he is now contributing. It is provided in the bill that the new Commonwealth benefits will apply to medical services rendered on or after 1st June, 1964.
There is one other detail concerning the medical benefits alterations which 1 would like to explain. In the past the amounts of Commonwealth benefits have been specified in two separate schedules to the act. Persons who contributed to medical benefit fund tables which provide benefits at least equal to the amounts specified in the first schedule have been eligible for Commonwealth benefits for all the medical services covered in both the schedules. As the scheme has developed it has become the invariable practice for medical benefits funds to offer their contributors fund benefits at least equal to the amounts specified in both the first and second schedules. With this development, the need for the division of the Commonwealth benefits into two separate schedules no longer exists and it has been decided to re-arrange the benefits in the form of a single schedule. This is another step in the Government’s policy of reviewing and simplifying the scheme at every opportunity. The position in future will be that a contributor will be eligible for Commonwealth benefit if he is a member of a registered medical benefits fund which pays a fund benefit at least equal to the amount specified in the first schedule to the act as in force prior lo the commencement of this amendment. The amounts of Commonwealth benefits which will be payable to all eligible contributors will bc set out in the schedule to this bill.
I now pass on to the clauses in the bill relating to pharmaceutical benefits. The proposals in these clauses have been brought forward following a number of developments in connexion with the charging of the 5s. fee.
Honorable senators will be aware that the 5s. fee was introduced for pharmaceutical benefit prescriptions by the National Health Act 1959 and came into effect from 1st March, I960. At the time this fee was introduced the Government felt that it would not be appropriate for friendly society dispensaries to be obliged to charge the 5s. fee on pharmaceutical benefits prescriptions for their members, because these members had long been accustomed to meeting their medicine costs by regular weekly or quarterly payments to their societies. Consequently section 92a of the National Health Act provides that friendly society dispensaries are not obliged to charge the 5s. fee for pharmaceutical benefits prescriptions supplied to their members and their families. The dispensaries of course receive the same reimbursements as chemists from the Government for the prescriptions and they meet the amounts of the fees which are not charged to members out of the members’ weekly and quarterly payments and the surpluses they earn on their trading activities.
Apart from the friendly society dispensaries which have been entitled to supply pharmaceutical benefits prescriptions to their members for less than 5s., a number of organizations have been conducting funds under the rules of which members have been entitled to rebates of part of the 5s. fees which they have paid. Proposals for introducing rebate arrangements on these lines have recently been under consideration by the managements of other health insurance funds.
The Government views the spread of these rebate arrangements with some concern. In its view the 5s. charge is a necessary and proper contribution which patients should make towards the costs of pharmaceutical benefits prescriptions. The charge is necessary in order to discourage the unnecessary use of benefits provided under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme. Honorable senators will be aware that, after prescriptions had originally been made available free of charge under the British national health service, it was later found necessary to require charges of ls. - (ls. 3d. Australian) - and still later 2s. - (2s. 6d. Australian). Experience in Britain has been that the fee has had a marked deterrent effect on the unnecessary use of drugs under the service. The Government considers that the principle of the 5s. fee on prescriptions under our scheme should not be broken down by the unrestricted spread of rebate arrangements.
Pensioners who have pensioner medical service entitlement cards arc not obliged to pay the 5s. charge and the Government accepts that existing members of friendly society dispensaries should also not be obliged to pay it in full if their dispensary wishes lo give them a reduction. The Government has also decided that no alteration will be required in the entitlement of persons who are already enrolled in insurance funds which include rebate of the 5s. fee as part of their benefits.
The Government considers however that any extension of existing arrangements for rebating the 5s. fee would be contrary to the best interests of the national health scheme. Accordingly, the bill provides that the friendly society dispensaries will be obliged to charge the 5s. fee for pharmaceutical benefits prescriptions supplied to their new members who enrol on and from 24th April, 1964. It further provides that insurance funds will not be permitted to enrol new members in a fund providing any debates of the whole or part of the 5s. fee.
The friendly society dispensaries will continue to be permitted to supply pharmaceutical benefits without charge or for a charge less than 5s. to all their members, including wives and children under the age of 16 years, who joined the dispensary funds before 24th April, 1964. Persons who were members of pharmaceutical insurance funds at that date will also be permitted to continue existing arrangements with their funds if they so desire.
The new provisions have been made in pursuance of our belief that financial responsibility in the provision of national health benefits must be properly balanced and that the principles of self-help and a sharing of personal and community responsibility must be properly observed. We believe that the provisions are essential if a proper balancing of financial responsibility in this field is to be maintained and so that an effective deterrent against unnecessary use of the scheme is to be preserved.
In order that these new provisions will be effective, an amendment is also being made to the conditions of approval of chemists and dispensaries so far as advertising is concerned. One of the conditions laid down by the existing law is that a chemist will not advertise that he is willing to supply pharmaceutical benefits for less than 5s. This condition is being retained and a further condition is being made to the effect that in any advertisement referring to charges for which he is willing to supply drugs or medicines generally, an approved chemist will specify whether the drugs or medicines referred to in the advertisement are pharmaceutical benefits. Friendly society dispensaries will also have to comply with this condition in relation to the supply of pharmaceutical benefits to the public and to all members who join the societies on and after 24th April, 1964.
It will be necessary for friendly society dispensaries and the insurance funds concerned to identify their members who joined prior to 24th April, 1964, in such a way as to be certain that the rebating of the 5s. fee is limited to those members and does not extend to new members or to persons who are not members at all. Strict administrative arrangements will be applied by my department to ensure that this identification is effectively carried out.
At the present time 140 friendly society dispensaries are approved under the National Health Act to supply pharmaceutical benefits. Approvals of 23 of these dispensaries are limited under section 91 (3.) of the act so that they are permitted to supply benefits only to their own members and their families. In view of the proposal that new members of friendly society dispensaries will have to pay the 5s. fee on each prescription received from a friendly society dispensary, the Government feels that it is appropriate that these 23 limited approvals should be made full approvals so that these 23 dispensaries may be permitted to supply pharmaceutical benefits to members of the public as well as to their own members. The bill provides accordingly. Any friendly society dispensaries which seek approvals in future will be granted limited approvals to supply their own members and their families only, unless it should happen that a new approval is sought to replace one of the existing full approvals which has terminated.
Apart from the matters I have mentioned, the provisions in the bill are of a machinery character and do not substantially alter existing policy or arrangements. The only particular machinery provision which I would like to mention is the inclusion in the new sections 9a and 9b of the act of statutory authority for the provision of hearing aids and poliomyelitis vaccination. These benefits have previously been provided under executive authority and the costs have been included in the annual appropriations made by Parliament. The inclusion of these sections in the act will give the provision of these benefits a specific statutory authority and enable expenditure to be charged to the National Welfare Fund where it is thought to belong properly. No change is proposed in the policies under which these services are made available to those requiring them.
I am convinced that each and every one of the provisions in this bill is a constructive step towards the betterment of the national health scheme. The amendments to the schedule of medical benefits will mean an increase in payments from the National Welfare Fund of £4,000,000 in a full year. This large sum of money will be applied entirely to assisting patients to meet their medical expenses. The increases in benefits will be of particular value to patients who incur medical expenses of a major character and who are most in need of assistance.
I am pleased to commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 13th May (vide page 1 1 37), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the bill be now read a second lime.
.- In continuing my remarks in support of the motion for the second reading of the bill, I shall repeat certain figures relating to the population and areas of the States. In 1962, Victoria had an estimated population of over 3,000,000, New South Wales 4,000,000, Queensland 1,500,000, South Australia under 1.000,000, Western Australia 765,000, and Tasmania 369,000. Areas in square miles are: Western Australia nearly 976,000, Queensland 667,000, and Victoria 87,884. It is obvious that the huge areas of Western Australia and Queensland make imperative the development of good road systems, including beef roads. But it must bc equally obvious that with a population of over 3,000,000 living in an area of just under 88,000 square miles, the wear and tear on roads in Victoria is tremendous indeed.
I further illustrate this demand in Victoria, as well as in other States, of course, by pointing out that in 1963, Australia’s motor vehicle strength increased at the rate of 598 every day of the year. The Australian Automobile Association’s federal newsletter of 3rd April, 1964, states that current driving licences number 1,133,574 in Victoria, 1,500,341 in New South Wales, and 919,000 in Queensland. The numbers in the other States are lower. The total number of current driving licences in Australia is stated to be 4,448,541. lt is clear that more than one-half of the driving licences issued are held in Victoria and New South Wales. It is generally acknowledged that in the very near future the number of motor vehicles on the roads will have doubled.
In Victoria the main country highways are barely able to cope with the flow of traffic. Urgent problems confront the City of Melbourne, the metropolitan cities, the provincial cities and the municipal councils, in the City of Brighton, in which I live and which is about ten miles south of Melbourne, many roads are the main connecting links between rapidly developing areas. Other municipal councils are faced with a tremendous problem as a result of the rapid growth of the population. The cost of maintaining these roads must be borne by the Slates. The amount that can be allocated to roads must be measured by the Victorian State Government as it must by the Commonwealth Government against the demands for such things as housing, education and health services.
To illustrate my point, may I quote some statistics which I discovered in the Victorian “Year Book” for 1964? It is interesting lo note (hat on 25th May, 1836, the population of Victoria consisted of 142 males and 35 females, a total of 177. In 1890 the population was 1,000,000. In 1950 it was 2,000,000. In 1962 it was over 3,000,060. 1 point out that in the 60 years from 1890 to 1950 the population increased by 1,000,000 and that in the next twelve years it increased by an additional 1,000,000, with resultant demands upon the resources of the State for the housing, education and care of the people.
Last night Senator Cant said that on the fringes of cities are home-building projects all of which require roads, power, water supply and sewerage. Then he raised this query -
How much do the owners of the land contribute to the public services that have to be put into these areas?
Let me inform him and other honorable senators that in Victoria, except for the main arterial roads, all private roads are paid for by subdividers or the owners of houses. Indeed, in the metropolitan areas, provincial cities and country towns the great bulk of road construction is paid for privately. I further inform the honorable senator that Victoria is making every effort to set its house in order and rs endeavouring to bridge the gap between the Commonwealth’s assistance for roads and the State’s total resources for roads. The Minister for Defence and Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) said, in his secondreading speech, that the 40 per cent, allocation for rural roads represented 15 per cent, of the total roads expenditure in Australia. But in Victoria the allocation for rural roads represents 9 per cent, of the total allocation for roads in that State. That percentage is the result of Victoria’s efforts to bridge the gap to which I have referred.
Three years ago the Liberal and Country Party Government of Victoria increased driving licence fees. The total revenue from driving licence fees and motor registration fees, less the cost of collection, is handed to the Country Roads Board. Vehicle charges are collected by the Transport Regulation Board and are handed over to the Country Roads Board without any deduction for collection. The Country Roads Board makes available from its own inadequate resources subsidies to certain shire and municipal councils for arterial roads. But the resources of the Country Roads Board and the Metropolitan Board of Works still are inadequate to meet the ever-increasing demands which are made as the result of growing prosperity, the establishment of industries and the movement of population within the State.
The bill provides that the States may spend Commonwealth aid roads money on research into road construction problems. Let me tell honorable senators of research that is being conducted in Victoria in relation, not only to road construction, but also the needs of the metropolitan areas. Victoria has set up the Metropolitan Trans portation Committee, which consists of the heads of all departments relating to transport. Represented on the committee are the Treasury Department, the Government Traffic Committee, the Country Roads Board, the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works, the Railways Department, the Tramways Department, the Melbourne City Council and the Transport Regulation Board. Also included are the Co-ordinator of Transport, the permanent head of the Transport Department, and the Honorable Murray Porter, who is the Minister for Local Government. The chairman of the committee is the Honorable Ray Meagher, who is the Minister of Transport.
This committee has obtained the services of Wilbur Smith and Associates of Connecticut, in the United States of America, which is a group of transport experts of world-wide reputation. This firm is conducting a survey of the movement of people and vehicles in the metropolitan area and is assessing not only present needs but needs as far ahead as 1975 and even the year 2000. It is expected that the survey will be completed in October, 1965. It is hoped that the findings will assist the State Government very greatly in its handling of transport problems relating not only to roads but also to railways, tramways, underground railways and ring-roads, lt is hoped that a saving of time will be effected, with resultant economic gain. More especially it is hoped that there will be a saving of life - that the high incidence of road fatalities will be reduced by the construction of a better roads system. When the survey is completed and a plan is agreed upon, I sincerely hope that if requests are made for assistance from the special allocation of £45,000,000, the Commonwealth bureau of roads, which the bill indicates will be established later in the session, will give any requests for a special grant sympathetic consideration. The small State of Victoria does not need beef roads, but it does need assistance to overcome the traffic problems that are the result of growing prosperity, which enables Victoria to make the contribution which, as I said earlier, Victorians are willing to make for the good of the Commonwealth of Australia. I have very much pleasure in supporting the bill.
– It is pleasing to note that the bill indicates awareness on the part of the Government of the need to provide increasing amounts of money for Australian roads. The second-reading speech of the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) described the roads problem as being one of the biggest that the Government has. had to face. I agree wilh that statement because in primary industry no single cost is greater than the cost of transport.
Having recognized the problem and having settled on an amount, there is the additional problem of how the grant is to be divided amongst the States. The States themselves face a similar problem. Because of peculiarities existing in individual States, no easy solution can be reached. Each State has difficulties of its own brought about by the varying needs and uses of its roads. Each State could put a reasonable case to the Commonwealth Government for a bigger cut of any future allocation, but we should not forget which areas of Australia play the greatest part in the development of the nation. Agreement between the States on any distribution formula seems unlikely.
The Government realizes that with the stepped-up pattern of development, road planning must also be accelerated if bottlenecks are to be avoided in the overall development plan, particularly in the type of economic development which is associated with roads. A start has been made in this direction because the bill provides for a total allocation, over a five-year period, to the Slates of £375,000,000, which is approximately a 50 per cent, increase on the previous grant. There will be a basic grant of £330,000,000 and an additional grant of £45,000,000 payable to the States on the basis of £.1 for every £1 allocated by the State Governments for their own resources over and above certain basic amounts. By adding to the £375,000,000 the amount that will be spent by the States on roadwork, a total of £750,000,000 should be spent on roads throughout Australia. In addition, of course, we have £45,000,000 to be spent on roads in the Australian Capital Territory and in the Northern Territory. In total, this amounts to a lot of money in any language. If this type of development programme is adhered to, there will be a different roads picture in ten years’ time. There is also the additional grant for dev elopment roads, such as those for the beef industry and Queensland is one of the States benefiting from this type of grant. Although these beef roads are not yet completed, there is every indication that they will prove a very good investment.
I was in the north only last month and I saw the use to which these partly finished roads were being put. A group of properties shifted by road train 2,500 breeder cows and heifers from a drought-stricken area near Clermont to better grazing country in the Fitzroy basin. Without this type of road transport and roads these cattle would most certainly have been lost.
– Where is Clermont?
– It is in central western Queensland, about 500 miles from Rockhampton. I have been told that there are substantial movements of stock along other beef roads. More money will have to be found for developing this type of road. One area which could benefit from beef roads is the Cape York Peninsula. By constructing a road down the eastern side of the peninsula with feeder roads from the west, another large breeding area would be opened up.
– How would that fit in with Weipa?
– I will refer to Weipa later in my speech. All of the north Queensland beef roads tap the breeding areas rather than the fat cattle areas. Such a peninsula road would not only serve the beef industry well but also would give access to the great bauxite deposits at Weipa. If this road were continued through Coen to Mareeba it would help considerably the poorer shires of the north, referred to by Senator Morris, which have not the money available to build roads. It would cross most of the areas referred to by Senator Morris.
There has been an interesting picture of development in this area over the last few years, and we shall hear much more about the movement of stock generally in this area in ‘ the not-too-distant future. The Mount Isa railway, which is almost complete, will provide a fast service. The road from Julia Creek meets the railway about half-way between Townsville and Mount Isa. There is a shipping sei vice called “sea beef “ by means of which cattle from the Gulf country are transported around the cape to the killing works at Cairns and Townsville. A trial shipment has been sent as far south as Bowen. This area north of the Townsville railway is the most concentrated breeding area in Australia. I cannot state definitely the number of cattle in that area, but there would be not less than 1,500,000 breeder cows. As we have the road, rail, droving and “sea beef” methods of transporting cattle, we shall be able to ascertain which method is more suitable for the requirements of the area. You cannot take a ship to Mount Isa, so that area will have to depend on roads and the railway.
The necessity for action on road construction has developed rather quickly. There has been a tremendous increase in the registration of motor vehicles in the last five years. Changes in types and tonnages of vehicles also have added to the problem. There has been a more general acceptance of road transport by the community. These factors, of course, make on the roads demands that were not evident even five years ago.
Senator Morris mentioned the bad state of the roads in Queensland in 1957. When we are speaking in this chamber we have to look at national development, but we cannot forget our own Slates. I do not think that the position referred to by Senator Morris has been overstated.
– Where do you come from?
– 1 come from Queensland. I thought you knew that.
– We will put the view of Queensland efficiently, and you can assist us.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator McKellar).- Order!
– Senator Dittmer can save his breath. He has the privilege of walking out if he does not agree with me, and he will not agree with some of the statements I shall make. There are provincial cities along .1,300 road miles of the coast of Queensland from Brisbane to Cairns. Two of those cities have populations of 50,000. Cairns has a population of between 22,000 and 23,000. In 1957, when the present Queensland Minister for Main Roads took office, none of these cities was served by beef roads from a point further north than Bundaberg, which is only about 250 miles north of Brisbane. This, of course, was one of the problems (hat confronted the Nicklin Government when it took office. The Minister is very efficient.
– To the north of Bundaberg there was a lot of bitumen on the roads between cities. You might be under a misapprehension. I am not contradicting you; I am just clarifying the position.
– I am quite clear about this. Shires did have bitumen pavement through the main centres.
– The road from Townsville to Mossman was sealed.
– That was sealed a long time before, lt is a tourist road. Mossman is 45 miles north of Cairns, if my geography is correct. However, there was no bitumen link north of Bundaberg. There was no permanent paving, and in all about 700 miles of road were unsealed, ft was a tremendous task to seal that road. It took all of that part of the State’s resources which would normally have gone to the densely populated areas south of Bundaberg to get this work under way. The method used was to put down a narrow pavement, but the bridges that were necessary - there are many of them - were properly engineered. Two major bridges could not be provided immediately, but the other bridges, in the main, were raised to road height so that they would not be the cause ot hold-ups in wet weather. This road work was completed in five years and then the second stage of the plan was commenced. This was to widen the pavement. Now several hundred miles of pavement have been widened. The object in initially providing a narrow pavement was to get asmuch value as possible from the money available. The engineers had to build cheaply, but they did not neglect the road foundation. They constructed the narrow pavement in order to get the maximum length of road. This work had to be done quickly because it was realized that Queensland was losing a great deal of money from the tourist industry. I have not the exact figure, but I think that last year the tourist industry in Queensland was worth over £20,000.000. It may have been worth £25,000,000.
– The Queensland Minister for Labour and Industry, Mr. Dewar, claimed in the press recently that it was worth £40,000,000.
– He would know better than I.
– He also said there was no actual way of estimating the amount, so you may be correct.
– I was informed by Senator Wood - I think you will agree that this would be correct - that the tourist industry was worth £2,500,000 last year to the small city of Mackay. I am glad that Senator Wood is not present because he would object to my use of the word “ small “. It is hard to realize that there was such neglect of this road before 1957. I think it had something to do with the then government’s policy. It had built railways and it said to the public, “ You own them, and you are going to use them “. A truck operator could not get a licence to use a road that ran parallel with a railway line. He was not permitted to compete with the railways. The Government’s policy was to use the railways and to get as much traffic as it could over the railways. I do not suppose there was anything wrong with that. It had a board which would not grant a licence to any road operator who competed with the railways. In other words, if there were a road parallel to a railway line no licence was granted. An exception was the Toowoomba and south coast area, but operators’ licences were granted to one firm only. It was a monopoly.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Before the luncheon break I was describing the road system in Queensland. I endeavoured to illustrate the rate of recovery of road building under the present administration. I should like now to say a word about the formula under which grants are disbursed amongst the States. The distribution of onethird of the grants is based on population, one-third on area and one-third on the number of vehicle registrations. That seems to be a good starting point, but in all fairness, 1 think it can be used only as a starting point. For instance, under the formula no consideration is given to initial road costs or to maintenance.
Queensland becomes seriously disadvantaged if the initial cost of road building and the subsequent cost of maintenance are not taken into consideration. I exclude entirely from this argument beef roads which are taken care of separately. I do not think any one in the Senate doubts that the beef roads scheme is a very good national proposition. This morning I was speaking of the road in Queensland which runs approximately 1,300 miles from the border to Mossman. I mentioned its advantage to the tourist industry. In the main the road goes through foothills on the coast and the normal system of road development is one of huge cuttings and fillings. Without doubt that is the normal pattern of roads in Queensland and because of that State is more handicapped, probably, than any other State. The position is aggravated by the monsoonal rainfall followed by the heaviest run-off experienced in Australia. I do not think that statement can be denied. The annual damage caused to Queensland roads is colossal. The position cannot be adequately described but needs to be seen to be understood.
Queensland rivers are uncontrolled, there being no flood mitigation schemes. We are not complaining about this because we believe these things will be attended to when the time arrives, but that does not alter the fact that the annual damage to roads in Queensland is colossal. These matters have not been taken into consideration, but I think that they should be considered when national funds are allocated. This is probably one of the functions which could be carried out by the Commonwealth bureau of roads which is to be established by a bill to be introduced later in the session. The formula can be adequate only if all relevant factors are taken into consideration.
Let us consider the road position in Victoria. Victoria is a small State but it has a very good country road system. Considering the amount of money it will receive over the next five-year period I wonder whether it will be left with no more roads to build. I do not want to be parochial in discussing this matter. Each State has to contribute something. When we scream for a little or more assistance for roads in Queensland I assure honorable senators that we are adopting a purely national outlook. In the near future we shall face a shortage of store cattle. We do not object if some of them are fattened in Victoria. However, 1 point out to Victorians - and I do not exclude altogether New South Welshman - that for the purpose of land development in Queensland we call on Victoria, in the main, to supply us with farm machinery. Any resistance to a proper national outlook on roads would be short-sighted on the part of Victoria.
– Other pieces of machinery such as galvanized piping are all manufactured in the south.
– Thank you. J thought you were against me.
– I support you because J know that you are not parochial.
– I am not parochial at all. I even went on record as supporting the growing of sugar in the Ord River area. The problems associated with this matter can no doubt be solved by some authority and, for that reason, as a Queenslander, I welcome the setting up of the proposed Commonwealth bureau of roads. I think that the information it will be able to supply might help to solve some of the problems which I have indicated to the Senate.
I do not subscribe, of course, to the idea that this body should have any overriding authority. J believe that the Commonwealth Government should provide everincreasing finance and an ever-increasing proportion of the gross national product to aid road transport generally. The Government needs, perhaps, to accept responsibility for ensuring maximum utilization of this money without infringing State rights. The proposed body could collate information and channel it to State road planning authorities. It could assist by supplying technical advice.
I should like to make one other comment before 1 conclude. 1 was extremely interested in the speech of Senator Cohen last night. He compared the cost of road building in New Zealand with that in Australia. The implication, of course, was that we are not planning properly, and that, because roads in New Zealand cost twice as much as roads in Australia, we are not constructing our roads properly. I think that this fact highlights, by and large, the proposition I made in regard to the formula. It is well known to most people that New
Zealand is a very rugged country. It is noted for its rugged beauty, lt is difficult from an engineering point of view to construct roads in such a country. This is the very point that I complain about in regard to the formula. I have travelled widely in most States and I think that the State most comparable with Queensland, as far as problems are concerned, is Western Australia. It has settlements in places far removed from the capital city. Only last year I drove over thousands of miles of Western Australian roads. In the southern area between Perth and Albany and out towards the centre of the State I do not recall having gone through a major cutting. I do not think that you could expect to get very far into New Zealand without running across this type of engineering.
– You said “ cutting “?
– Yes. I might mention that Senator Branson, subsequent to a trip I had with him to Perth, travelled to north Queensland with me. He was amazed at the type of engineering work that had to be undertaken to build roads there. I am speaking mainly of the coastal regions of Queensland. This engineering has to be undertaken in that State to build roads for any distance. Queensland has problems similar to those of Western Australia, but wilh all sincerity I put the emphasis on Queensland because it is more decentralized than Western Australia in regard to the spread of provincial cities throughout the length, if not the breadth of it.
Queensland, of course, has the added problem arising from the fact that its forefathers saw fit to build three railway systems to the hinterland of western Queensland. One begins from Brisbane; one from Rockhampton, roughly 500 miles north of Brisbane; and the other from Townsville, 500 miles north of Rockhampton. These railways present problems in regard to normal highway procedures. As far as the central railway system from Rockhampton is concerned, it is no more than two years ago that some of the adjacent highway was gazetted as a main road. I put the case for Queensland because I think Queensland is my primary interest in the Senate. But there is also a national interest involved. I went to some trouble this morning to explain the great live-stock breeding areas that lie north of the railway west of Townsville. The direction of the movement of the cattle is south. While this matter is not quite relevant to the provisions of this bill, I think it is relevant to beef roads so 1 mention that we are facing a shortage of store cattle from the breeder areas throughout the whole of Australia. There are many plans for the tidying up of those areas to bring about a better flow of cattle to the southern markets. Nothing plays a more important part than access through the roads system. With those remarks, I support the bill.
.- I wish to express agreement with my colleague, Senator Sherrington, in his dislike for the formula employed on the allocation of road grants money.
– But you disagree with him on other counts.
– As my friend, Senator Branson, who is interjecting, points out, 1 disagree with Senator Sherrington for very different reasons which I hope to show before I finish my speech. The Slate of Victoria does not mind getting back a smaller amount than is fair and just. Victoria does not mind financing the rest of the Commonwealth in regard to development works, but it does expect a little bit of gratitude. In “Julius Caesar”, Shakespeare has Mark Antony say -
Ingratitude, more strong than traitors’ arms, Quite vanquish ‘d him . . .
In “ Twelfth Night “, one of the characters says - 1 hate ingratitude more in a man Than lying, vainness, babbling, drunkenness, Or any taint of vice whose strong corruption Inhabits our frail blood.
I want to get this matter in perspective. Victoria realizes it has to carry Australia and it has no objection to that proposition. But, as I see it, we in Victoria expect that fact to be acknowledged. There should be some gratitude shown, and, in the end, perhaps some mild form of financial recompense-
By and large, I support the bill. It is an improvement on the previous situation. As the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) in his second-reading speech points out, modern road developments must remain in the measurable future one of the most essential sections of our communications system. The problem of roads itself has to some extent been created by this Government. This Government has been too successful. It has created a general aura of prosperity, a general aura of welfare in commercial and economic dealings with the result that most families have their own cars and are using our roads. Consequently, the more we succeed the greater our problem becomes. In a sense, it is like the dog chasing its tail.
This is, of course, a problem of the free enterprise Governments which obtain in most of the Australian States and in the Commonwealth Government. A few weeks ago, while watching television I saw a delightful musical made in Communist Czechoslovakia. This production was beautifully photographed and well directed. It was a little gem. It was shot mainly in the streets of Prague. But it let the cat out of the bag. There are no traffic or road problems in Prague, because there are virtually no cars. There are a few buses, and plenty of people, but no private transport. That situation is the very antithesis of the position in the thriving Australian economy.
As the Minister has so justly observed, the road problem is one of the largest problems facing Australian governments today. The Commonwealth Government is alive to its implications. I congratulate the Commonwealth Government on the initiative it has shown in this legislation which will provide for the States over the period of five years the sum of £330,000,000 basic, and £45,000,000 matching £1 for £1. I commend especially the proposal for a £1 for £1 matching grant. This matching grant is in accord with the Liberal philosophy of incentive, of getting people to get off their perches and do something for themselves. For myself, I would like to see the matching grant occupy a far larger proportion of the amount of money that is made available than the £45,000,000. It would reduce the amount of spoon feeding of timorous administrations, and would do more justice to active and vigorous governments such as the present Victorian State Government.
The present formula, which is wellknown, is based on one-third population, one-third area, and one-third number of vehicles. This formula works against New
South Wales and Victoria. Although it is now more equitable than it has been, 1 keep in mind, too, that the Commonwealth itself is subscribing £45,000,000 extra to beef roads in Queensland, Western Australia, and to the road in the Gordon River valley in little Tasmania. Of course, some of that money is also being spent in the Commonwealth’s own Territories.
As the Minister concedes in his secondreading speech, the road systems of more densely settled States are coming under heavier pressures through the concentration of industry and the consequent growth in commercial and industrial transport. The Minister’s statement is the burthen of my song. This thought leads me to a brief examination of some aspects of this legislation which may be less commendable.
It is clear that the Federal Government has set out to do an adequate job by the whole country, for which I give it full marks. But, in the implementation of this plan, it has been forced to defer to a very powerful tyranny, the tyranny of the weak. I am no parish pump practitioner. I am as much an Australian as any one else. I believe that special assistance should be given to the larger and less populous States both for their sake and for the sake of the nation as a whole. I believe that the development of the security of Australia requires the wealthy States to help the not so wealthy States. But there is a limit beyond which you cannot go without des.troying the whole structure. You cannot have healthy and active arms and legs if your heart is unsound. The welfare of the sparcely settled States, which depend so much on goods manufactured in the south as my friend, Senator Sherrington has pointed out, in the ultimate depends completely upon satisfactory communications within Victoria and, to a lesser degree, in New South Wales.
– Why lesser?
– We will go into that later. I think most honorable senators will agree with me that Victoria is the economic, industrial, social, financial and cultural heart of Australia. Whatever weakens Victoria weakens Australia as a whole. It is with this lofty national sentiment in mind that we should look at the unfair pressure placed upon the Commonwealth by Western Australia and Queens land, and at the less than active approach to the problem by some of the other States.
Under the progressive Bolte Administration, Victoria has strained its resources to the limit, believing strongly, as it does, in self-help. Of the amount spent on its roads, Victoria obtains 77.6 per cent, by its own efforts. Victoria is no begging, mendicant State. It does not believe in having everything handed to it on a plate. It gets 77.6 per cent, of the money for its roads from its own efforts - from State and municipal taxation - and gets only 22.4 per cent, from the Commonwealth. Contrast Victoria with Western Australia, which raises only 33.8 per cent, of its road funds from State and local government sources. I think South Australia raises only 59 per cent, of its road funds from State and local government sources.
– We have not got a progressive government.
– I make no comment on that. It is true that some of the States cannot spend all the road money available to them. I recall a statement that two States were upgrading roads for the purpose of fitting them into the formula qualifications and then, when the money was acquired, downgrading them so that the expenditure of the money was not necessary. The road programme in Victoria has increased in significance because, with the almost certain retention of the present Government in Victoria, the State is likely to out-develop most of the other States, judging by past experience, by from one-half per cent, to 1 per cent, overall. It is a strange situation when success in one sphere spells difficulties in another. There is another facet which exacerbates the trouble. Figures show that 47 per cent, of all the migrants are making their permanent homes in Victoria.
– I wonder why?
– There arc various reasons for that, but as I have only half an hour of my time left I cannot give all of them. As I have said, 47 per cent, of the migrants coming to Australia make their homes, for reasons which they think good and sufficient, in Victoria.
– If you want good bread, you have to live near the bakehouse. Where the money is, the migrants will be.
– That point may be well made, lt is true that the growth of Victoria has been accelerated in this fashion by Commonwealth immigration, of which I heartily approve, but all these people use the roads.
– And pay their taxes.
– As Senator Anderson points out, they pay their taxes. My friend Senator Prowse points out 1,000 new vehicles go on to our roads daily. Because of its highly developed condition, Victoria gets a disproportionate share of them. At the Commonwealth aid roads conference in Canberra last March, the weaker States ganged up to defeat their benefactors, Victoria and New South Wales. There was general agreement by all the States that Tasmania should not be restricted to the formula provisions and that a flat 5 per cent, of the available money ought to be given to Tasmania because of its particular difficulties. I think that was agreed on by all of the five other States and the Commonwealth. Accordingly, Tasmania got the benefit of a 5 per cent, straight-out grant.
The Premiers of the other five States and the Commonwealth then had to resolve the question of the formula. New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia all had their own ideas, but what strikes me as being a little odd, to say the least, is that Tasmania, which was not then concerned in the distribution of the cake, was given a vote in the ultimate determination as to how it should be cut up. In that way Western Australia and Queensland were able to dictate to the Commonwealth. This seems to me to be entirely wrong. It is operating under rules which might have been drafted by the Marquis of Rafferty. Over the past five years Victoria has contributed very nearly one-third of the total petrol tax collected by the Commonwealth. In that period Victoria paid £104,000,000 out of the total of £334,000,000 and got back approximately one-fifth.
Because of the economics of this matter the Premier of Victoria sought some adjustment of the formula, and in this he supported the Labour Premier of New South Wales, Mr. Heffron, who suggested that the road money should be apportioned on the basis of three-tenths for urban population, six-tenths for rural population and one- tenth in accordance with the square root of the area. This was the proposition put forward by New South Wales. No vote was taken on it at that time, but it was not very well received by the weaker States. They, apparently having Tasmania in the bag, were in a position to dictate to New South Wales and Victoria. The Premier of Victoria suggested a very modest and reasonable method of increasing the amount which would go to his State, with a similar increase to New South Wales. He said: “ Let us peg the area distribution at what it was in 1963-64. Let us take that level and say that in future all increases in funds will be distributed, as to one-half, on the population figures, and as to the other half, on the figures showing the number of vehicles.” This would have given Victoria an increase of about 2i per cent., and about the same to New South Wales. In this suggestion Mr. Heffron supported Mr. Bolte, but, for some reason best known to himself, Sir Thomas Playford killed the proposition - although his State would have been virtually unaffected - by siding with the weaker States.
– He was fair.
– This is the first time I have heard you say that about him. I think your statement might be quoted in various places from time to time. However, Sir Thomas had an idea of his own. He said that all States - I hope Senator Dittmer will listen to this and still say Sir Thomas was fair - which possessed large area advantages, such as Western Australia and Queensland, should not also get the great benefit of beef roads and so on in addition. He said, “ The extra £20,000,000 or £30,000,000 that the Commonwealth is going to make available ought to go into a hotch-potch and be distributed under the formula “. This suggestion was quickly rejected by Western Australia and Queensland.
– Quite rightly.
– Coming from Western Australia in 53 per cent, of which it is impossible to make roads, Senator Prowse says, “ Quite rightly “. The point to which I come back again in amazement is that Tasmania which had 5 per cent, flat of the fund’s, provided the negative majority.
Victoria showed its sincerity in regard lo this problem by offering to accept a 3d. per gallon increase in the tax on petrol if the Commonwealth would impose it. New South Wales showed its sincerity too - I do not often say anything good about Mr. Heffron - by offering to accept an extra 3d. tax. But this was not acceptable to the “ weaker States “ and it was disposed of. 1 hope that the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) can be more precise on this point than I can be, but I hope that within a few years the great new jet airport at Tullamarine will be operating. Doubtless honorable senators will recall the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Councillor Curtis, expressing the hope that the Cornwealth will then make available to the State Government sufficient funds to create a genuine freeway from Tullamarine into the city of Melbourne. 1 feel sure that that is a plea which will fall upon a very sympathetic heart in that of the Minister for Civil Aviation. I look forward with great confidence to hearing him ask for leave to make a statement in the Senate in the not-too-distant future in which he will make that pleasant announcement.
Much as I dislike doing so, I wish to make some reference now to statistics. Recently, an organization called the National Association of Australian State Road Authorities, composed of topranking mcn on road-building from each of the six States and one from the Commonwealth, made an assessment of the road needs of the various States in Australia in the next five years. This survey disclosed that the road needs of the States for the period 1964-1969 were as follows: -
– Do those figures include municipal roads?
– They include the overall road requirements on a national, local and municipal level in all States. This is an assessment only. It cannot be a scientific figure. Those figures mean that f 1.388,400,000 is the amount estimated to be required for roads in Australia within the next five years. The total amount to be collected during the next five years in petrol tax by the Commonwealth is estimated at £438,000,000 Under the legislation we are discussing now, £375,000,000 will be available. Thus, there will be a gap - according to the planners - of £63,000,000 over the five-year period and this amount will have to be derived from ordinary budget sources.
I feel a plea should be made to the Minister and to the Government for some consideration to be given when the next roads conference is held in about four years and eleven months time to altering the formula so that it will not prevent Western Australia and Queensland from getting their just due, but at the same time will ensure that the more densely populated and more rapidly developing States are not unduly handicapped. As an example of that point I remind the Senate that Tasmania will receive 5 per cent, of the roads grants. I do not say that Tasmania does not need mere, but according to the National Association of Australian Stale Road Authorities, Tasmania’s requirements are only 3.4 per cent, of the road needs in Australia.
I want to throw into the ring for consideration the matter of the area of the respective States. At present money for road grants is allocated on the basis of onethird for area, one-third according to population and one-third according to the number of vehicles. The area of a State is not necessarily a good measure of its road needs. That system does not have regard to the net useful land areas or the density of development, present or future. For example, 58 per cent, of the area of Western Australia has an annual rainfall nf less than 10 inches and there is no significant use of land in 53 per cent, of the area while 27 per cent, of it is stony desert.
– What about mining?
– With great respect, the full area is taken into account in computing the formula.
– As stony as the heart of a Victorian senator.
– That is a good debating point but I cannot accept it. In considering the distribution of road needs for the next five years, the Government might have a look at the amount now being distributed on the area basis. The Government should agree to peg it as at 1963-64. The formula suggested by the Premier of Victoria, Mr. Bolte, seems fair and just.
– You seem to like Mr. Bolte.
– Most Victorians do. Wait until the State elections at the end of next month. There are so many examples tha! I hesitate lo worry the Senate bv multiplying them unnecessarily. For example, for every fi paid by a motorist for petrol tax in Victoria, only 10s. is spent in Victoria. We do not mind being generous but is not this generosity run riot? In Western Australia for every £1 paid in petrol tax £1 16s. 6d. is spent on the roads - although why they cut roads across the 27 per cent, of stony heartless desert I just do not know, lt is an expensive job.
– You built a bridge and it is better than King’s Bridge.
– That is rank ingratitude. We built Perth’s “ Bolte Bridge “ and we built pour clover-leaf networks. Victoria has done everything that could possibly be expected of a generous and benevolent sister State and all we get is abuse. May 1 say that it is expected in Victoria that 24,000 new homes will be completed this year which will involve an actual or potential expenditure of £7.000,000 to £8,000.000 on private streets. I want to point out that in Victoria rates charged on land arc twice what they are in South Australia because we believe in self-help and are prepared to help make our own roads. We provide 46 per cent, of the money for roads from our local municipal sources but South Australia provides only 23 per cent.
I would not like any of my colleagues from other States to think that I am jealous of their success in obtaining road grants or of the way that they have been able to persuade the Commonwealth authorities that their requirements are greater than those in Victoria. I am no Sir
Philip Sidney. I am not prepared to say all the time, in all places and in every set of circumstances that the need of the other States is greater than that of Victoria. Victoria has a national need. I feel sure that with sympathetic consideration of the situation by the Government in the future, existing anomalies will be overcome and we will go on to even greater heights.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Bill presented by Senator Sir William Spooner, and read a first time.
Standing Orders suspended.
Sena’or Sir WILLIAM SPOONER (New South Wales - Vice-President of the Executive Council and Minister for National Development) [2.56]. - 1 move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill aims to encourage the search for petroleum in Australia and Papua-New Guinea and on the sea-bed and sub-soil of the continental shelf contiguous to their coasts by extending the period of operation of the Petroleum Search Subsidy Act which 1 introduced in this Senate in August. 1959. That act, as amended in 1961, has resulted in a great increase in geophysical surveys and drilling by the oil exploration companies. Whereas in 1959, 42 seismic party-months and fourteen wells more than 2,000 feet deep, with a total footage of 60.000, were completed, in 1963 about 300 seismic party-months and 128 wells, with a total footage of 577,685 feet were completed. Moreover, one oilfield has been brought to production at Moonie in southeast Queensland, oil has been discovered in several wells at Richmond, near Roma, Queensland, and natural gas has been discovered in many wells near Roma, at several wells at Rolleston, Queensland, at Gidgealpa in north-eastern South Australia, at Mereenie in the Northern Territory, and in Papua. Total annual expenditure on exploration for petroleum has increased from £7,100.000 in 1959 to about £23,500,000 in 1963. The Government contribution by way of subsidy payments in 1963 was £5,259,606. Total disbursements to 30th April, 1964, under the subsidy scheme amounted to £13,172,919.
The results obtained are certainly encouraging, but the point has not been reached where enough discoveries are being made, either to give a promise of establishing in the early future sufficient reserves for our own needs, or to provide sufficient stimulus to ensure that exploration is carried on continuously and vigorously. Petroleum remains one of our few larger resource deficiencies, and its importance in both the economics and defence of our nation requires no emphasis. The Government is firm in its view that it should help to ensure that adequate reserves of petroleum are discovered and that it should continue its direct support until such time as the number and size of discoveries provide adequate incentive to the exploration companies to continue the search.
Apart from the direct contribution through subsidy and income tax concessions, the Commonwealth Government encourages and assists the search for oil in several ways. The Division of National Mapping provides topographic maps compiled from aerial photographs to facilitate mapping by Government and company geologists and geophysicists. The Bureau of Mineral Resources carries out basic regional geological and geophysical surveys and stratigraphic drilling, maintains for the use of interested parties a collection of cores and cuttings from all subsidized wells, carries out experimental seismic surveys and laboratory studies of rocks and fossils, and reviews the status of exploration in individual basins in order to stimulate activity by identifying problems and prospects.
The sedimentary basins of Australia and Papua-New Guinea have an aggregate area of about 1,460,000 square miles and parts of them are more than 20,000 feet deep. Though a great deal of work has been done in the last, ten years, much still remains to be done. The total footage of exploration wells is still only about 2,400,000 feet, but much of the drilling that is now being undertaken is carefully related to the available information so that the total information is being increased quickly and economically.
I have given only a brief outline of what the Government has done to assist oil search and what the results have been. I am circulating for the information of the Senate a paper entitled “ Status of the Search for Petroleum “, providing additional information, because I know the subject is one in which we are all interested. Early this year discussions were held between officers of my department, officers of State mines departments and representatives of the active exploration companies on possible means of improving the arrangements under the subsidy act. A number of suggestions was made and these have been considered in deciding what modifications should bc made to the subsidy scheme.
I turn now to discuss the way in which this bill will give effect to the Government’s proposals. This bill will amend the Petroleum Search Subsidy Act 1959-1961 to extend its operations explicitly to the sea-bed and sub-soil of the continental shelf contiguous to the coasts of Australia and Papua-New Guinea and, in order to set doubts at rest about past operations over these areas, to make the legislation retrospective to 1959.
The bill widens the scope of “ test drilling “ by amending the definition to remove the requirements ‘.hat a structure must be established. In some circumstances where the sequence of rocks and the prospective strata are established, only drilling can determine whether or not the conditions favour accumulation of petroleum. The new definition will allow this kind of drilling to be subsidized.
The bill amends the definitions to combine the stratigraphic drilling and offstructure drilling of the present act into the one category of stratigraphic drilling, which will be subsidized at relatively higher rates than test drilling, as offstructure drilling has been Drilling in any unknown rock sequence, whether on a geological structure or not, must be regarded as a high-risk operation, both technically and economically. On the other hand such drilling is essential if the regional sub-surface geology is to be understood as a basis for test drilling.
Two operations for which subsidy was available have been little used. I refer, first, to bore hole surveys which were included when it was thought that logging of older bores and of water bores might be done to provide additional information. As oil exploration companies have shown no interest in this work, the bill provides for discontinuance of subsidy for it. There have been few applications for subsidy for detailed structure drilling. It is generally a low-cost operation and, where necessary, can be undertaken by any interested exploration company at its own expense. The bill deletes detailed structure drilling from the operations for which subsidy is payable.
At present, the rate of subsidy nominally payable in respect of each category of operation is laid down by the act but is subject to my being able to fix a limiting amount of subsidy. To make thelegisla- tion more flexible to meet changing circumstances, it is proposed to amend the act so that the rate of subsidy for each category may be determined by regulation but so as not to exceed the rates in the present act. Subsidy is payable out of moneys appropriated by the Parliament for the purpose of this act. The amount appropriated for 1963-64 was £5.000,000. Subsidy liabilities arc carried forward in respect of approved operations so that there is no break in the continuity of the subsidy scheme. In agreements that have been made to date, and in the act. there is no provision for an upward revision of the approved limiting amount of subsidy. This limit is based on a cost estimate which itself may be based on average conditions whereas in unknown areas there is no standard of reference. The bill, therefore, provides that in these circumstances unforeseeable costs reasonably incurred may be subsidized.
No change is proposed in the legislation relating to footage rates in drilling operations, but it is proposed at an early date to amend the regulations to bring the footage rales into line with the subsidy paid as a percentage of cost. At the same time the schedule of rates for detailed structure drilling will be deleted from the regulations. When, in a footage basis drilling operation, production testing has been carried out, this testing has been included as part of the approved operation. However, since production testing is not always carried out, and as it varies in cost from well to well, it is proposed to allow operators to apply for subsidy on a cost basis, at the rate for test drilling, for production testing in both footage basis operations and in stratigraphic drilling operations.
All applications for subsidy for operations which began before 30th June, 1964, are covered by the present act. The amended act will apply to operations begun in the period 1st July, 1964, to 30th June, 1967, both dates inclusive. As some operations begun within that period will not be completed by 30th June, . 1967, the bill provides that an operation may qualify for subsidy if it is completed before 30th June. 1968. Events of the last few years have confirmed the early opinion of the Government’s advisers that oil should be present in Australia and have justified the Government’s policy in stimulating the exploration effort by direct and indirect assistance to the exploration companies. By its actions the Government has clearly affirmed the importance it attaches to the discovery of oil. This bill aims at continuing the task of assisting exploration in the hope that enough discoveries may be made to ensure that the exploration effort will continue without interruption. I commend the bill to the Senate. With the concurrence of honorable senators, I incorporate in “ Hansard “ the following paper: -
STATUS OF THE SEARCH FOR PETROLEUM.
The passing of the Petroleum Search Subsidy Act1959 has had the effect of greatly increasing the amount of geophysical work being undertaken, and this has led to the discovery of many structures suitable for drilling and thus to an increase in drilling. It is timely, in considering the extension of the subsidy scheme, to set out, under the headings given below, the present position in the search for oil and gas.
The amount of exploration over the past few years can be indicated as follows: -
This increasing amount of exploration work has resulted, first, in the better understanding of the geological history of the basins and their prospects and, secondly, in a number of discoveries of oil and gas.
The expenditure on the search has risen steadily also, as will be seen from the following statistics: -
One commercial oilfield has been discovered at Moonie, in Queensland, where fifteen out of seventeen wells produced oil at satisfactory flow rales. The reserves of recoverable oil are likely to be about 50,000,000 barrels. The pipeline to Brisbane is completed and is full, and it is expected that shipping will start very soon. Oil has been discovered in three wells at Richmond, near Roma, in Queensland, but drilling has shown that the field is irregular and may be small. Good oil shows that did not lead to production were found at Rough Range and Meda in Western Australia, Cabawin and Wunger in Queensland, Puri in Papua, and Port Campbell in Victoria.
Oil and gas shows have been reported from wells in most of the sedimentary basins.
Gas has been discovered, at substantial flow rates, in several areas - in Papua at Kuru, Bwata Barikewa and Iehi; in Queensland at Roma, Rolleston, Westgrove and Glentulloch; near Sydney at one well near Camden; at Gidgealpa in South Australia; and at Mereenie in the Northern Territory.
The summation of the individual tests in the Roma and Rolleston areas of Queensland indicates a flow rate of some 90,000,000 cubic feet per day. At Gidgealpa in South Australia the flow rate potential is some 21,000,000 cubic feet per day, and at Mereenie in the Northern Territory the corresponding figure is about 11,000,000 cubic feet per day. However, in order to obtain the potential for commercial production it would be necessary to divide these figures by a factor of from three to four. If the gas were drawn off at maximum flow rate, the result would- be a relatively poor total recovery from the reservoir.
The total recoverable resources in these areas are unknown but additional drilling would probably increase them to a point where commercial feasibility studies would be warranted.
Several of the experienced operators have arranged farm-outs of part of their tenements. This enables more exploration work to bc carried out and gives other operators an opportunity to investigate areas that otherwise might not be looked at for many years. The Mereenie discovery was made on one such farm-out.
Interest is increasing in the exploration of the Australian continental shelf for petroleum, and equipment and techniques are now available to do this fairly economically. Work already done indicates prospective areas in Bass Strait and in the Gulf of Papua, and preliminary work off the Queensland coast and off north-western Australia encourages further investigation. There is a good chance that there will be significant increases in the exploration effort of off-shore areas in the near future.
The rate of exploration has increased notably over the last two to three years, and this has been matched by an increasing rate of discoveries of oil and, particularly, natural gas. The results to date give positive encouragement to the view that more exploration will result in more discoveries. There is no doubt, however, that Government support is still required to ensure that exploration is maintained at an adequate level.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 7th May (vide page 1028), on motion by Senator Gorton -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– This bill, which is designed to establish the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, arises from a conference which was convened at the national level and which had the task of reviewing the state of knowledge of our Australian aborigines. The conference was held in Canberra in May, 1961, following a question asked by a member of another place. In view of the divided responsibility that exists for Australian aborigines, the effort of the Government to co-ordinate research by holding a conference and subsequently introducing this measure is commendable. Fifty-five people representing nearly all the disciplines of social study attended the conference. It is interesting to note that some of the papers which were presented to the conference were published in book form.
I understand that not all the papers were published because, whilst none was unimportant, it was not possible to publish all in one volume. Those which the conference considered to be the most important were published.
It is not uncommon for most of us frequently to come into contact with aborigines. That has tended to make us rather neglectful of them and to accept them as a matter of course. 1 do not know whether any of us has even taken the trouble to ascertain what is known about the primitive people of this continent. They are the last large body of people to have survived - wc do not know for how long - without an agricultural system and without’ having any domesticated animals. They must have had some ways and means of surviving but, although some study was undertaken late in the 19lh century, we have not bothered to make a great study of this aspect of their life. If we are to understand these people and to pass on to posterity some knowledge of them we must ask ourselves where they came from, what is known of their physical and mental characteristics, what is known of their languages, whether those languages should bc incorporated in the language systems of the world, and what is known of their social organization and their arts and systems of belief. We have done very little to advance a knowledge of their arts. In Western Australia a ballet known as “ Corroboree “. which is based on native dancing, has been developed, but as far as 1 know little else has been done in this field. Moreover, we must draw a picture of the state of this continent when the first English speaking people came here, and then try to understand how the aborigines were able to maintain a balanced method of living not only in relation to food but also in other ways.
Wc know very little about the laws that govern these people. We know even less about the customs and beliefs that have been faithfully handed down from one generation to the other over a considerable number of years. Even the number of years for which these people have been on this continent is unknown to us. It is admitted by the scientists who have commenced these studies that much of the material that could be of great use to them has now passed into the limbo, much of it is fast disappearing, and urgent steps are required to enable studies to be made. Steps should have been taken many years ago, but 1 am not being critical of the Government on that score. Because much of the material has been lost, much will not be written. Many facts concerning the aborigines will never be known, and it is commendable that the Government at this stage intends, by this legislation, to set up an Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies.
Some five or six years ago a native tribe was found near the border of the Northern Territory and Western Australia in the Great Sandy Desert. These natives had never previously been in contact with white people. They have gradually been brought into the missions and it will be only a matter of time before they begin to lose their culture. If some study is not made of them very quickly, even this opportunity may be lost to Australia. This year I understand that the Department of Native Welfare in Western Australia has discovered two more tribes out in the Great Sandy Desert. No doubt studies will be made of them. The tribes are tending to drift into the more settled areas because life is a little easier for them there than in the desert, particularly since the Government has amended the Social Services Act to include aborigines as beneficiaries under the act. That is another reason why we should get on with the job of studying the aborigines. It is believed that these people are the last of the primitive tribes to be found in Australia. As far as the more settled areas are concerned, it is known to most of us that the aborigines, from close association with the Australian people, are fast becoming westernized. They are losing their tribal ways and are forgetting their tribal beliefs and laws. Many of them to-day cannot even speak their native language. This stresses the urgency that is associated with this measure.
It is proposed that the institute will be composed of 100 persons to be selected for their capabilities in this field of research. The bill also provides that a council of not more than 22 persons shall be formed to co-ordinate the work of the institute. The institute and council will need staff and finance to carry on their activities. Strangely enough, the bill proposes no appropriation of moneys with which to carry on this work. All that the bill provides is that -
There are payable to the Institute such moneys as are appropriated by the Parliament for the purposes of the Institute.
That is rather loose language because the appropriation could not be provided other than by the Parliament. I have not studied the supply bills that will come before the Senate before the session ends. 1 do not know whether there is provision for an appropriation in those bills.
– I think the institute will work on the funds that have been appropriated for the interim council. There may be other funds appropriated for the institute in the Estimates to be introduced in the Budget session.
Sena:or CANT. - That is what I was coming to. The bill provides for the setting up of the institute within one month of the passing of the bill. Unless sufficient funds are appropriated, there will be a hiatus until such time as an appropriation for this institute is made by the Parliament in the Budget session, which may be the end of October. I would have liked to see an appropriation under this bill. I hope that the Minister will see that sufficient funds are made available to keep the institute functioning until such time as adequate provision can be made. We consider that the measure is a good measure. We wish it success and’ we support it.
.- I do not wish to delay the Senate because there is a vast amount of business still in front of it. I am sure that most honorable senators feel, as I do, an inclination to get this session behind’ us as soon as we possibly can. There is evidence that we are in for a rather wearying time to-night. I rise on this occasion because I would not like to see this bill pass through Parliament without paying tribute to the concept that set into being the proposal for the establishment of this institute. I feel that some acknowledgment should be made in the Parliament of one of the originators of this proposal. The origin of it was a proposal made in the first instance by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) for a national effort in scientific research amongst the aborigines. The proposal was considered by a Cabinet sub committee in 1960 and was sent to the Vice-Chancellor of the Australian National University for technical study. I think we should acknowledge that this is but one of the activities in which the colourful member for Mackellar is interested.
I have reached an age, I am loath to admit, at which I form, as it were, a connecting link between the aborigines and the studies of them that are now proposed to be made. Some of the primitive people who lived in my locality when I was a young boy literally have departed from the face of the earth. I remember that at the age of five or six the first playmate I ever had was a young aboriginal boy. By the time I was eighteen, nineteen or twenty, all the aborigines and their artifacts had disappeared entirely from that locality. Nevertheless, my interest has always remained in the artifacts of the Australian indigenous people mainly because my father, who was a scientist, was interested in them and taught me to have an interest in them, too. In Victoria, we are in the curious situation where practically all artifacts of the aborigines have disappeared. There is an almost pure blood aboriginal population in Victoria, which is some 20 per cent, greater than it was in the 1840’s when Governor Latrobe had the first census taken of the aboriginal population of that State. I think that a little ungenerousness crept into the symposium of papers presented at the 1961 research conference, because it was implicit in some of the papers presented that in the nineteenth century and in the early part of this century there was no attempt to make a concerted examination of the customs, law, artifacts, behaviour and cultural pattern of the indigenous people of Australia. That is not true, of course, because in my own State of Victoria from the time the first white settlement began a devoted interest has been taken in the aborigines there. I mentioned Superintendent Latrobe a few minutes ago. He was a superintendent for the New South Wales Government when Victoria was an apanage of New South Wales - a factor which caused Victorians considerable irritation until ultimately they forced their way out to become a State of their own. Since then they have never looked back.
From the earliest time there has been a consistent government interest in Victoria in these matters, commencing with Latrobe and continuing right through to the present time. J agree that the work of Spencer Baldwin, Giles, Mountford, Basedow and Fenner in northern Australia also represents an outstanding contribution by a previous generation to the study of aboriginal law, customs and artifacts.
As Senator Gorton pointed out in his second-reading speech, this bill envisages a combination of the scholar who is interested in these matters of the past, and - possibly what is of even greater importance - of the scientist. I am not often willing to bow my head to the scientist, but I think that any study of the human behaviour of a primitive people and of means of bringing them across the divide from a primitive culture into an advanced and sophisticated culture can only be undertaken by scientific examination. For that reason alone the creation of this institute should be supported by all members of Parliament. I think that the situation can be best expressed by my reading from the preface lo “ Australian Aboriginal Studies - a symposium of papers presented at the 1961 Research Conference “, by Helen Sheils. When 1 have quoted this I intend to sit down, because I think that all that is required to be said is said in the following passage - ti has required an immense intellectual study lo bring the native Australians within a perspective that is at one and the same time detached, informed and respectful. At one time it was indeed detached, but ill-informed and disrespectful; al another, better informed but full of preconception and thus still disrespectful; and later again, more respectful but far from detached and only half-informed. At a deeper level, on which the scholar and scientist work according to the standards of their day, the essential struggle seems always to have been with the effects of the same forces in varying coalition: a lack of public interest in research; too little or too much imagination in the conduct of research; and a failure to understand the primacy of time.
Thai might well be used as the inscription lo head every document that emanates from this proposed institute. As 1 said earlier, I thought the Senate would have been failing in its duty if it permitted this bill to pass without some comment. I am grateful to the Government which introduced it, and I hope the Senate will carry it without any further criticism.
– lt is perfectly obvious that this bill is not controversial, and I believe it is very welcome. I particularly welcome it because I believe there is much knowledge to be gained from the proposed study. I agree with Senator Cormack that a great deal of information about the aborigines is available and recorded in various places. However, there is much information that is not recorded and unless action is taken reasonably soon to get this information it will be lost. Those of us who have come into contact with the aborigines recognize that the full-blood aboriginal is a very timid, retiring and shy type of man. It is difficult to ascertain much of the background and history of his tribe from him. It is only when one can gain his confidence that one really discovers that the aboriginal’s whole life more or less centres on an intense historical background. All. of this is extremely interesting.
Senator Cormack quoted from a book. I should like to mention a book that 1 have in my possession. It is entitled “ Quest Under Capricorn “ and was written by David A neilborough. It was published last year and it will be available in the Parliamentary Library in the next few days. This is one of the finest books of its kind that I have ever seen. It contains some beautiful photographs and coloured plates which reveal very clearly the artistry of many of the aboriginals in the different tribes. I suppose that everybody knows that each tribe has its own area and that on the rocks and in the caves there are paintings which are extremely interesting. Indeed, towards the end of last year I had the opportunity of seeing some of these paintings. I went to a function at Cairns with the Rotary Club at which (here was present as guest speaker a man who had devoted many months of his time, spread over some years, to making a deep study of much of the aboriginal painting and art that can be found throughout the entire north of Australia. I do not think I have experienced a more interesting evening for many years. With the formation of the institute that is envisaged by this bill, I have no doubt that facilities will be available to enable contact to be made with those people who have studied this very interesting subject.
I have not read all of the book I referred to because I obtained it only yesterday. One realizes that the aboriginal has his own religion. I have the book open at a place which depicts two natives holding relics of their religion. Every page of this book seems to teem with precious history. I am glad about the formation of an institute which will be able to contact the people who have studied the subject.
Practically all senators will have heard of, and possibly visited one of the best known islands of the Whitsunday Passage group - Lindeman Island. I have several pictures of it. It is really a gem and one of the most beautiful areas that 1 have ever visited. However, few people will know that the founder of the Lindeman Island tourist resort as it is to-day - he is an elderly man at present - went to Lindeman Island many years ago. I think it was well over fifty years ago. Perhaps Senator Wood might confirm whether the period of time I mentioned is approximately correct. Lindeman Island, incidentally, with its luxurious surrounds, was the island whch the Queensland Government invited Princess Alexandra to visit while she was in Australia on the occasion of Queensland’s centenary celebrations. She spent several days on the island and enjoyed her stay immensely, as everybody else does, who goes there. The first settler on this luxurious island was Mr. Angus Nicholson who had a good deal to do with the Lindeman tribe which was domiciled on it. Very often I have had interesting talks to Mr. Nicholson while I have been on the island and many others have had talks with him’ too. I have had the idea on several occasions - unfortunately 1 have not had the time - to set out in some sequence the various experiences about which he has told me. Perhaps one of the research experts from the institute to be set up can learn things from Mr. Nicholson which, when he passes, will become unavailable. That is another reason why T am delighted that this institute is to be formed.
Most people think that the aborigines lived in little bark humpies that were not very weatherproof and not very comfortable. That may have been so in certain cases, but, on the other hand, in some areas some tribes built their community houses with great care. This applied to the Lindeman tribe. I frequently tried to persuade Mr. Nicholson to reproduce on the island a community house similar to those that were used by the aborigines in the years gone by. So far he has not done so. If he were to do so it would be of considerable interest to tourists who visit this area.
– What has happened to the Lindeman tribe?
– Many years ago the tribe broke up and scattered and I do not know where its members are to-day. They have scattered over the whole of Queensland in the course of time.
I should like to make one further reference which is possibly of some interest from the point of view of research. About four years ago I visited Thursday Island and a wedding took place on one of the days on which I was there. I was fortunate to be invited to attend and watch the ceremony. It was extremely interesting. I was particularly impressed by the bearing of those participating and even more so by the obvious respect paid by the bridegroom to the bride’s parents. The whole ceremony was extraordinarily interesting. Associated with it were native dances in which the old customs and background history of the tribe were presented to us in dance form-. The music - and they had a variety of types of music - associated with each of the presentations was particularly suitable. It was stirring. As I listened to it and saw the performance of .50 or 60 of these natives in dances which related to events that had happened many years ago, I felt what a pity it was that I did not have a movie camera or something to record this rather unique experience that I was able to enjoy.
– Was it symbolic music and dancing?
– Yes. Whilst these dances were in progress I had beside me a native who could speak English very well. He explained to me the meaning of each of the movements of the dancers. The dancing went on for some hours broken, of course, by periods of rest. As a result of the explanations given to me by my interpreter, this proved to be one of the most realistic experiences I have ever had.
We have records of aboriginal music; we have their paintings, their law and their background history. All of this must be preserved because it is something that is basic to Australia and we should never forget it. The aborigines, after all, are the native people of this country. Too often I have heard people say that they are most uninteresting people and many condemnatory remarks are made about them. I think that that is a great pity because there are a number of aspects of their tribal life and character which, even to-day, many of us would be proud to own.
Because I have seen these things, and because I have a smattering of knowledge of the tribes that were originally in Australia, I am, perhaps, a little bit keener to see the establishment of this institute than I would be otherwise. I wanted in a few words, without taking up too much time, to pass on to the Senate the experiences that I have had. I support with very great interest and enthusiasm the formation of the institute and I congratulate the Minister and the Government for proceeding in this direction.
– in reply - I thank the Senate for accepting without opposition the bill which I have introduced and I thank it also for supporting the concept which this bill is designed to turn into a reality. I have no doubt that, as a result of this measure, and as a result of the thought which it has received to-day - and will, I hope, receive in another place - there will be accumulated here in the national capital a vast accumulation of knowledge to which scholars from all over the world will come, whether they be linguists, anthropologists or follow some other discipline.
The interim council has been functioning for some time. It has engaged staff, it has obtained premises and it has already established, as an example of what will occur in the future, a card index system in which virtually everything that has been written by anybody about Australia is recorded. The writings arc cross-indexed and classified according to the tribes about which an author has written and the district of Australia to which he has referred. Whether one is interested in languages, regions, customs or other aspects, one will be able to go to a card index and find the books that have been written by anybody on a particular subject. That is just an example of what sort of work the institute will do.
The two points raised by Senator Cant were relevant. I do not think he will find in the Additional Estimates any sum of money voted for this institute, but if he refers to last year’s Estimates he will find that a sum was voted for the interim council for the current year. I think that that sum will enable the interim council to carry on the work of the newly-formed institute until such time as the Estimates are presented in the forthcoming Budget session. Of course, it is a bit vague to say that the sum which will be required by the institute shall be that which Parliament provides; but that is merely an indication of saying at this stage that it is not desirable to mention a specific sum. It will be shown when the estimates of expenditure are presented later in the year, and at this stage no real indication of yearly requirements in the future should be given because they may well fluctuate. It may well be that for a year or two a lot of field work will have to be put in to catch material before it disappears, and that later there will be a falling off, and the central office of the organization will be the most that is required. I think the explanation I have given covers the two points the honorable senator has raised.
It only remains for me to endorse what my colleague, Senator Cormack said, that one of the moving spirits, if not the real driving force for some years, in this whole concept, has been the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). I think that he will be pleased with the results of his advocacy and that we will all be satisfied with the results of the work we are doing to-day.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 13th May (vide page 1097), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the bill be now read a first time.
– The Senate has before it at the present time two appropriation bills. As we know, it is customary at about this time each year for the Government to bring before the Senate an appropriation bill to provide finance and funds for the Government’s services up to the end of the financial year. Also, it is customary to appropriate a sum of money sufficient to carry on the annual ordinary services of the Government and to provide for any works and services necessary. I do not propose to refer to any details of the appropriation bills at all.
However, I wish to point out that when we were dealing with the estimates of expenditure in August last year, we were informed by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) that there would be a gap of £58,400,000 between the ordinary revenue of the Government and the anticipated expenditure. The Treasurer also pointed out that it was proposed to provide for that period the sum of £62,500,000 from the Loan Fund to meet the defence expenditure of the Commonwealth. I do not wish to discuss the sum of £62,500,000 from the Loan Fund to meet the defence services, but I wish to refer to the other sum of £58,400,000 to tide the Government over its anticipated revenues and its anticipated expenditures for the current financial year.
It is my belief that no loan money will be required at all and that there will be no gap whatever on 30th June this year. I feel that the taxation level at the present time will be quite adequate to enable the Government to meet all its commitments in respect of the current financial year from the revenues that it will receive. It is my belief there will be a substantial increase during the current financial year in the revenue received in respect of excise, sales tax and income tax payable by both individuals and companies. This year for the first time in our history the Commonwealth Government may have revenue amounting to £2,000,000,000. Because of the buoyant revenues that the Commonwealth is enjoying at the present time by reason of certain circumstances operating throughout Australia, it is my view that some consideration is due to the person who is within the lowest income bracket. I refer to those people who are receiving the basic wage or little more. Is it not time that the Commonwealth Government considered either exempting those people entirely from the payment of income tax or in some wav granting them substantial relief? There are many people in the Australian community at the present time whose income, when averaged over the financial year, would not amount to the basic weekly wage.
I do not wish to dwell on this point as I have other matters with which I wish to deal, but there is a fair volume of prosperity in Australia at the present time. However, we have to admit that that prosperity is not uniform. It is not Commonwealthwide. We do know that some industries are enjoying tremendous prosperity. The sugar industry is one of many industries that is sharing in, and enjoying, the prosperity that exists during the current financial year. I know of many industries, however, that are striving to keep going. I also know there are many people in the Commonwealth who are not enjoying a prosperous life because of their private commitments. 1 look at the situation in this way: We are admitting, generally speaking, that there is prosperity at the present time, and that the employment level is high. After the schools closed this year, there was not a great problem in finding employment for school-leavers; nor was there any great problem in respect of juvenile employment generally. I think that this is always a pretty good gauge of prosperity. I would say that the economy of Australia at the present time is fairly buoyant. However, we can have a wave of unemployment at any time. The wage-earners of Australia are not guaranteed permanent security. We have a society to-day in which most of the people are doing fairly well. They are enjoying their present standard of living. But within the next week or two, the position may be the very reverse. There may be many unemployed people in Australia because of that situation.
I have asked questions on this matter. I propose now to put a concrete suggestion to the Government. I know that the payment of the unemployment benefit is down this year compared with last year and previous years. That fact indicates to me that the employees in the Department of Labour and National Service are not working at a high pressure. They probably find sufficient work to keep them engaged, but I think they could be employed more objectively. I have advocated the establishment of a committee to find out exactly what industries suffer most from unemployment. I anticipate that a committee appointed for that purpose would be able to ascertain, for instance, the number of computers and their capacity in certain industries. As we know, industries are interwoven and a slack period in one can cause slackness in another. A lack of prosperity in one industry can cause a wide field of hardship in industry generally. The number of mechanical innovations being introduced into industry could be recorded by the Department of Labour and National Service. If that sort of information were obtained in a thorough and efficient manner and were properly recorded, it could be turned to very good use, because the cause of unemployment would then be ascertainable in many cases, as would the action that could be taken to correct it. 1 wish now to refer to our diminishing control of our own resources. In this regard I refer particularly to Queensland. I believe there has been established or that it is intended to establish what is known as a northern division of the Department of National Development. I should think that one of the functions of that division of the department will be to keep on eye generally on the industries operating in the northern part of the Commonwealth. I know that the State Governments are interested in their own industries and that it is their responsibility to watch over those industries. I know that, as far as their available funds permit, they do their very best to ensure that their industries are sound But when we have a northern division of the Department of National Development established for the purpose of seeing to it that there is development in the northern part of Australia, then, automatically, according to my judgment, it will become the responsi- bility of that division to keep an eye on all the industries operating in that part of Australia and at the same time to ascertain as far as possible what new industries can be introduced there.
As we know, the Weipa bauxite field is at present being worked by a company. At Gove Peninsula a French company, the Pechiney company, is mining bauxite but evidently is not converting it to alumina in Australia. As far as I can ascertain, that company is taking the raw bauxite to France, one of the countries in the
Common Market. The Pechiney company is one of the biggest monopolies in the Common Market area, and certainly the biggest in France, with 50 or 60 subsidiaries, but it has a lease at Gove Peninsula and is prepared to work the field there. The Commonwealth will receive a royalty on the bauxite that the company takes away from our shores, and that will be its share of the return from the bauxite. The Australian poet, C. J. Dennis, once wrote a poem entitled “ The Glugs of Gosh “, which referred to people who were selling the stones and metal in their country, not knowing their value. They continued to do that until they discovered that all their stones and metal were gone. We are allowing our bauxite to be sent to France, where it is converted into alumina and then into aluminium.
We say that is good business, and that we have far more bauxite than we will ever require. That is correct. The supply is almost limitless, but Australia is not getting any great value from its bauxite. We are merely getting the price agreed upon from the company which is taking the bauxite away. No Australian labour is used in converting the bauxite into the finished product. We find that the company which is operating at Weipa is not Australian. There is very little Australian capital in it. If we follow the history of events, we can deduce that there are really two companies operating there. What are they doing? They are taking the bauxite out and are selling some of it to Japan, while the balance is going to Bell Bay. That could go on indefinitely. I said a while ago that we have a limitless supply of bauxite.
But is it good business to be selling our raw resources all the time to foreign companies with very lithe interest in Australia? If we examine the activities of the shareholdings of the companies which are operating at Gove Peninsula and Weipa, we find that they are interested in the aluminium industry in other countries also. So it appears to me that they will operate the Australian bauxite fields while it suits them to do so, but if they can get a more profitable field where their other companies are operating they will cease operations in Australia and continue or revive their operations in other countries. It was recently proposed that another aluminium company would establish itself at Gladstone. Of course the people of Queensland, and particularly those in Gladstone, were very glad to hear this news. An export meat works operated in Gladstone for 40 or 50 years until about last November, when the works was sold and closed down by the company which had operated it for so long.
– What was the cause of that?
– It was never revealed. The Swift Australian Company Proprietary Limited was operating the meat works. There was no shortage of stock or anything of that kind and there was ample shipping and storage available. The company had a very efficient organization there, but it closed down and sold its property to Comalco, which intends to operate there. Advice was recently given that some £52,000,000 was to be made available by United States banks to establish an alumina works in Gladstone, with an annual capacity, it was suggested, of 600,000 tons.
Cheap power is essential in the production of aluminium, and nearly all the successful aluminium works in the world use hydro-electric power. But in Queensland we have the Moura coalfield at the rear of Gladstone, and in the vicinity there is also the Callide coal-field. With the amount of natural gas available in Queensland it is possible to have a pipeline running from’ the western part of the State right to Gladstone.
I do not want to do anything which will injure the coal-mining industry. I know how important it is to have that industry working all the time throughout the year because of the employment it creates. 1 know it also encourages settlement in various parts of the country. However, I would say that at the present time, we have sufficient natural gas in Queensland to provide cheap power at Gladstone for the purpose of converting the bauxite into alumina. The Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner) will probably reply to some of the things I have said and some of the things I propose to say, and I want to deal specifically now with natural gas.
The field of natural gas that has been discovered is a fair distance from Gladstone and is in the western- part of Queensland. 1 read an article recently in one of the publications issued by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, and I noticed in it a report that in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the network of pipes conveying natural gas is no less than 20,000 miles. The article said that 12 per cent, of the gas is used in furnaces in the Russian steel industry and 7 per cent, is used in the cement works; 5 per cent, in chemical industries and 25 per cent, in power stations for the purpose of developing electric power.
As I have said, we have natural gas in western Queensland and if a company is prepared to spend £52,000,000 to establish an alumina works at Gladstone, it appears to me it would be a common-sense proposition to have the natural gas conveyed by pipes to the treatment works. If that were done, it would not take such a great amount to extend the pipes to other industrial centres and there are many of them along the Queensland coast.
I remember the Minister for National Development saying not so long ago that natural gas could be more important to Australia than oil. I wholeheartedly agree with him. This would be particularly so if a field of natural gas was discovered somewhere near Canberra or adjacent to Sydney or similar big industrial centres. I think the Minister said at that time that in 1961 natural gas provided 15.5 per cent, of the total world energy. I do not know whether the Minister remembers saying that but he is credited with the statement. I would not dispute what he said for a second. When you examine the information available about natural gas, you find that the United States of America has unlimited quantities of it and Russia must also have unlimited supplies because it has many miles of pipeline.
The Minister also said recently that the discoveries of oil and natural gas may reimburse the £70,000,000 spent by the Government on oil search in the past six years. I do not doubt that statement either. The discoveries could reimburse the Government for the amount spent. When you1 consider what is spent by industry on fuel over six years, or will be spent over the future years, £70,000,000 would not go very far. I have no doubt the Minister has made a full assessment of this matter.
I want to point out that a new division - the Northern Division of the Department of National Development - is now being formed. Officers to staff this new division will probably have to be appointed before the 30th June. The necessary officers may be within the Commonwealth Public Service at the present time. I have no doubt they are and I have no doubt that highly trained and efficient officers will be appointed to positions within this division. Those officers will then have functions and duties to carry out and the provision of fuel will be one of them.
That is why 1 now want to stress the importance of this field of untapped natural gas in Queensland. 1 have no doubt that it will be one of the functions of this new Northern Division of the Department of National Development to ascertain the whole possibilities of the use of natural gas, not only in north Queensland but in the whole of the Commonwealth. I do not know if it is possible to transport natural gas. I do not know anything about it. It will be one of the functions of the officers of this division to ascertain how natural gas can be used more than it is being used at the present time.
– A study is now being made in both Queensland and Western Australia.
– I thank the Minister. I thought that would be the case because Australia is just commencing to develop. We could not afford to sit down and ignore these natural resources. A survey will have to be made to see what use could be made of them immediately and how they could be used to greater advantage in the future. This division is being established to concentrate on the development of the northern part of Australia and it will not be able to disregard Queensland’s mineral production. The division will have to familiarize itself with this aspect because it will have to make a close study of the production and value of the metals that are produced. In 1963 Queensland was not producing minerals on a large scale. However, the value of minerals produced in that State last year amounted to £55,300,000. When you consider that the population of Queensland is less than 2,000,000 that figure is very good, particularly having regard to Queensland production in other fields.
I am going to mention some figures for the benefit of honorable senators because they will show what wealth there is in Queensland awaiting further development.
In 1963, 75,000 tons of copper was produced of a value of £22,800,000; 66,000 tons of lead was produced of a value of £5,400,000; about 5,000 ounces of silver was produced valued at £3,700,000 and 25,290 tons of zinc was produced valued at £2,400,000. These are figures which will interest the officers of the northern division. They will also be of interest to the Minister and to nearly all industries in the Commonwealth.
I now wish to refer to the discovery of oil in the Moonie area some time ago - too long ago. What I would like to see is the discovery of another oil field equal in size and value to that at Moonie. I would like to see two or three more fields discovered, preferably in Queensland - but not necessarily. It would give the Australian people great heart to know that they were living in a country where oil could be discovered. The first step towards becoming a really great country is to have our own supply of oil and to be self-contained in that respect.
I do not wish to disparage anything that has been done in respect of Moonie, but disquieting features were associated with it. The oil was discovered, a pipeline was constructed over hundreds of miles and then what happened? The oil came down to Brisbane and a big row followed. The price to be paid for Moonie oil in Brisbane - of all cities, which has a service station at nearly every corner - could not be settled1. We were not promised that even a drop of Moonie oil would go into the commercial oil supplies of the city. That did not worry us very much, so long as the oil was admitted by the oil companies to the market in the Commonwealth. It would be the height of idiocy to have oil produced in the country and not be able to sell it to the people of the Commonwealth. The problem was overcome - I hope permanently.
I do not want more money to be spent, as it is proposed to be spent, on the search for oil, when those who are spending it and doing their best to produce oil may be confronted in the future with the same problem as that which faced the discoverers of Moonie oil. They do not want to be engaged in arguments about the price of their product. The wool-grower does not experience that problem. He knows that his product will be admitted to the market and disposed of. I hope that some arrangements which will be satisfactory to all parties will be made.
The northern division of the Department of National Development will have to concern itself with various industries. I have a cutting from the Brisbane “CourierMail “, under the heading “ Cotton-growers hit by bad drought “. It is rather interesting to look at what can be done by using irrigation. At Thangool, in the Callide Valley, a farmer was able to irrigate his holding of 60 acres. There it was, a kind of oasis in this parched valley. The previous year was a poor year, but in 1963 the cotton crop was 6,500 bales. It is expected that the crop this year will be only 4,000 bales. Comparing that with the output of the United States of America, one might be tempted to say that it was a bagatelle and not worth bothering about, but this is an industry in a young country, fighting for its life. If it is providing a livelihood for people, it must be encouraged. I am fully conscious of the fact that it is the State Government’s duty to do what it can to help cotton-growers, but it would also be the duty of the northern division of the Department of National Development to watch developments in that sphere. If, by the use of moneys made available by the Commonwealth, a comparatively small irrigation scheme were provided for cotton-growers, they could produce more of a commodity that is required. This is what interested me about the situation on the farm at Thangool, to which I have referred. Any one who knows anything about the cotton industry knows that there are a first pick and a second pick. At the first pick the prime bolls are picked. The pickers then come back and clean up the crop afterwards. This farmer picked 2,900 lb. of cotton an acre at the first pick, and he expects to get 400 lb. an acre at the second pick. He hopes to net about £120 an acre when the whole of the crop is harvested. If it is possible for a farmer in the Callide or Dawson valleys to clear £120 an acre from his farm, the cotton industry should certainly be established there, and the best way of establishing it is to provide some form of irrigation.
The tobacco-growers around Mareeba, in north Queensland, are fortunate because they have irrigation, under a scheme which was commenced several years ago. Now water flows from that area out to Dimbulah. The farmers in the district are able to grow tobacco successfully. I understand that the tobacco produced is of the very best quality grown in the Commonwealth and is even comparable with tobacco produced in any other country. But at present these growers cannot sell their crop. Sales are less than 50 per cent, of the daily offerings. The ,growers have produced first-class tobacco which is offered for sale and then for some reason or other, is rejected. This has been going on for the past two or three weeks and a serious crash in the tobacco-growing industry is expected. If that happens in the Mareeba district, what will happen in other parts of Australia which cannot produce tobacco leaf to equal Mareeba tobacco?
– What is the cause of that impediment?
– That has to be fathomed. The growers say that a higher percentage of Australian leaf should be used by tobacco manufacturers. At present, I think, 41 per cent, of Australian leaf is used. The manufacturers are not requested to do this, but it is arranged; it is understood.
– The percentage has been making fairly satisfactory progress, has it not? It was much lower ten years ago.
– It was lower when the industry was struggling, but the point is that the industry in north Queensland now has irrigation and it is being left with tobacco on its hands and is quite unable to sell it.
– ‘But the percentage is governed by the quality of the blended product.
– That is what I want to come to. I am not able to say of my own knowledge that the tobacco is equal to the best American or African tobacco. But I have been told1 by people who are in a position to know that tobacco produced at Mareeba is equal to tobacco produced in any other part of the world and that it could be used by the manufacturers to the extent of 100 per cent. The requirement to use a proportion of 41 i per cent, of Australian leaf led to the use of approximately 2,250,000 lb. of tobacco. The latest crop is estimated to yield 32,000,000 lb. So something will have to be done to use more Australian leaf. We say that it should not be allowed to rot in the hands of the growers but that they are entitled to some security.
– What is the point you are making on those figures?
– The point I want to make is that when it was decided that the manufactured article should include 4H per cent, of Australian leaf, the quantity of tobacco produced at Mareeba was much less than it is to-day. The quantity produced has increased’ to such a degree that the growers want a higher percentage of Australian leaf to be used by the manufacturers so that there will be a bigger demand for it at the sales.
– I understand that a deputation of tobacco growers from north Queensland interviewed the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) and the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) within the last two or three days and that they came to an agreement but that the tobacco men were eager to release the terms of the agreement themselves when they returned home. So it seems to me that you are beating the air somewhat until you hear the result of that interview.
– I am not beating the air. This state of affairs has existed for several weeks. The growers are growing their tobacco, picking it, curing it, storing it and carting it into Mareeba without being able to sell it. They are then carting it back to their farms. How long does the Government expect a body of men to do that? At the moment they have no alternative.
I shall deal now with the number of road accidents which occur in Australia. I know that this is not purely a Commonwealth matter, but a national government just cannot afford to ignore entirely the number of fatal accidents which occur on our roads. It is almost impossible to take up a morning newspaper in any part of the Commonwealth without reading that in some capital city or some country area a fatal motor accident has occurred. In some cases whole families are eliminated and in others young children. Surely something can be done by the Commonwealth Government to give a lead to the State Governments. One goes out on the road in his car without knowing how far he will go or whether he will return home. That feeling is becoming quite prevalent. I cannot suggest what the Commonwealth can do to overcome the problem, but surely something can be done. I look forward to this Government’s attempting to do something, even if it means co-operating with the States in some way. I drove a car when one did rather well if he travelled at 30 miles an hour. Now one has only to touch the accelerator to reach 60 or 70 miles per hour and even then feel as though he were sitting in his lounge at home. To drive at that pace is quite all right, providing one does not strike a lamp post or a tree. The high incidence of road accidents is not peculiar to any part of Australia. Accidents occur all over the Commonwealth. I do not know the statistics relating to deaths and injuries. It is possible to obtain them. But I repeat that, if possible, something should be done by the Commonwealth.
– We could apply to motorists laws restricting the consumption of liquor, just as we might restrict the use of tobacco to prevent lung cancer. If we did the latter, of course, the tobacco industry would suffer.
– If we were to take that line as a serious argument, many people would prefer to be killed in an accident.
– What about enforcing a law requiring the use of safety belts? The Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority seems to have succeeded in this direction.
– I have thought of that. If you did that, you would have to convince those concerned that the belt was, in fact, a safety belt. If such a law were applied to every car, then the Commonwealth Government could reduce the sales tax on safety belts.
.- An . Australian parliamentary delegation left Sydney in a Qantas aircraft at 12 noon on Saturday, 22nd June last, and after travelling via Perth and Singapore reached Bangkok at about 10.35 p.m. on the same day to commence what proved to be a most interesting and informative tour of certain South-East Asian countries. The tour was conducted under the auspices of the Department of External Affairs, for which department provision is made in the bill for the expenditure of £856,770 out of a total appropriation of £70,764,000.
Thailand was the first country which the delegation visited. Bangkok, the capital, with its numerous shrines and temples, is a beautiful city which is undergoing modern reconstruction. In my judgment, the building which houses the Constituent Assembly is an architectural gem. I do not think it could be bettered in any other place in the world. The delegation was most warmly received by the late Marshal Sarit, who arranged visits by the delegation to provincial centres as guests of the Thai Government. The Royal Australian Air Force conveyed the party to a provincial city called Khon Kaen, in north-east Thailand. The Governor of the province welcomed us and provided accommodation at the official rest houses. At night the delegation was entertained by the Governor at an open-air banquet in a beautiful setting on a lake front. The banquet was attended by a large number of leading citizens and officials.
On the next morning the delegation inspected feeder roads which were being constructed by joint Thai-Australian teams of workers. The Australians formerly were road and bridge builders who had been brought from the Snowy Mountains project. They were instructing young Thai engineering graduates in supervisory work. General labour on the job was provided by Thai workers. They were good workers. I was interested to see the special Australian developed techniques which were employed for building stabilized earth roads. An engineer informed me that stabilized earth roads are less susceptible to water erosion. This avoids the expense of having to transport bitumen and metal long distances over rough terrain to the road-building sites. Under an agreement with the Thai Government Australia is providing about £1,000,000 worth of equipment for the first two years work.
The Thai Government has provided all buildings at the project site, such as houses, offices, storage facilities and a base workshop. The whole project is a splendid example of joint effort for the mutual benefit of both countries. The Australian workmen have their families living at Khon-Kaen in very comfortable, modern homes with all conveniences. They were very happy in their surroundings. Later that morning the R.A.A.F. took us across to Ubon, 25 miles distant from the Laotian border, where an Australian squadron was based. All the Australians serving in this isolated region were very pleased at our visit and were glad to have news from their home States. The Australians to whom I spoke informed me that they were living on most cordial terms with the local Thai people.
The delegation had the good fortune to be in Bangkok a little later in the week, on the day of the formal review by the King of Thailand, accompanied by his beautiful wife, Queen Sirikit, of the troops who had participated in the Seato exercise called Thanarat. The review was most impressive, involving 24,000 officers and men of the South-East Asia Treaty Organization forces. The troops travelling in vehicles took three hours to pass the saluting base. The delegation had a long and valuable discussion with the Foreign Minister, Nai Thanat Khoman, a very capable man indeed in my estimate, and also with Mr. Pole Sarasin, SecretaryGeneral of Seato. Seato stands there in Bangkok as a sentinel. Communists in the surrounding areas regard Seato with caution, realizing that their activities are under constant surveillance and that the eight member-nations are in the aggregate strong and powerful.
Next September will mark the tenth anniversary of the Manila Treaty which created Seato. I think that the older members of the Senate will recollect the debate which occurred at the time when the terms of the Manila Treaty were discussed. It is well to remember that after ten years none of the countries whose representatives signed the treaty has been subjected to Communist aggression, and no country in South-East Asia has been brought under Communist domination during that time. That, in itself, represents an outstanding achievement. Something has been done that has had a good result. The individual members of the delegation got on very well with the Thai leaders, who were most friendly, courteous and helpful. The same can be said for the Thai people generally whenever we came in contact with them. They are very amiable and friendly people, for whom we all formed a very high regard.
Our visit to Burma was full of interest. It was learned that Burma’s relations with mainland China were good. A border agreement, based on the watershed principle, had been reached with China. On the day of our arrival the delegation leader, Mr. Davidson, announced a gift by Australia to Burma, under the Colombo Plan, of 100 buses and 300 irrigation pumps. From my observations, Burma has had a hard struggle to reconstruct in the post-war period, and practical gifts of this nature were highly valued and created a very fine impression among the Burmese ministers, the people and in the press.
A Burmese Minister said to me at a public reception that there could be a better world if more money was spent on helping the less-developed nations to get their agriculture properly established, and if less money was spent on guns. Of course, that is a pretty obvious remark, but its truth is not always observed. All of the Ministers whom we met at that reception expressed their gratitude for the gifts of the buses and the pumps. The pumps were very welcome to the farmers who have a great need for them for irrigation purposes, particularly in inland areas.
I spoke to many Burmese leaders in Rangoon on their attitude towards the formation of Malaysia and ascertained that the Federation of Malaysia was completely acceptable to Burma. I did not speak to everybody in Rangoon, but the Ministers and other public men whom I met at that reception answered my query in the same way. They were quite favorably disposed to the establishment of the Malaysian Federation and had no quarrel in any shape or form with Malaysia.
The Burmese Government has to contend with armed terrorists, similar to the Communist bandits who swept through the jungles of Malaya a few years ago. These men, known as the “ Red Flag Communist Party “, are commonly spoken of throughout Burma as the “ Red Flaggers “. The Government has to maintain armed forces in the mountainous areas to the north where the red flaggers are established. A short time before we went to Burma, the Government, being anxious to restore law, order and tranquillity, decided to offer an amnesty to the red naggers who were on the run. Whilst we were in Rangoon the red flaggers sent a delegation to interview the Premier. The delegation was led by Ma Ngwe San, the wife of red flag Communist leader Thakin Soe, who brought her teenage children and other Communists on a thirteen-day walk from their jungle habitation. Their case was put before the appropriate Minister in public, but the Communist terms for the amnesty were not acceptable to the Burmese Government. When asked by pressmen who was responsible for the massacre of 80 men, women and children at Sinzwe village three years previously, Ma Ngwe San said that the red flag Communist Party was responsible for the crime, which she justified. Her admission and justification of such a fiendish act did not help their cause to gain the benefit of the amnesty extended by the representatives of the Burmese Government. Burma, situated as it is right on the border of red China, is naturally anxious to live peacefully side by side with China and also with countries of the free world, but with the hot breath of the dragon constantly on his back the Burmese man’s lot, in my opinion, is not a really happy one.
On arrival in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, we were met by the Tunku Abdul Rahman together with high ranking officials of the Malayan State, not forgetting our own very outstanding High Commissioner, Mr. Critchley. Later we had a most interesting discussion with the Tunku at his home in the City of Kuala Lumpur. At the time of our visit the Tunku was standing by for a message calling him to London to sign the requisite agreement with the British Government for the establishment of the Malaysian Federation. Malaya is a beautiful country where people of many races, religions and cultures are working together in the creation of a modern state. It is a fertile, green land of mountains and rich undulating country, of picturesque villages and modern cities. The Malayans, in my observation, are a dignified, friendly people of great personal charm. The Malayans are, generally speaking, people of the land and people who derive their livelihood from primary production.
Malaya is one of the world’s greatest producers of rubber. Rice is grown over wide areas of Malaya, notably in the north in the States of Kedah and Kelantan. The Malayans have been good seamen and fishermen from time immemorial. The Chinese, in the main, are the commercial leaders in Malaya - a field in which they appear to excel. Many Indians work in the rubber plantations which provide the basic wealth of Malaya. For nearly a century Malaya has been the world’s largest producer of tin. Each of the main races which make up the cosmopolitan population has retained its customs, festivals and dress, with some concession to Western vogues where dress is concerned. Of course this all adds to the colour, charm and beauty of the country.
During our stay in Malaya the delegation made visits to the Second Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment, based at Terendak near Malacca. We were pleased to hear from our Army boys that they were in good shape and most comfortably quartered at Terendak. The Governor of Malacca, Dato Haji Abdul Malek bin Yusof, accorded us a very warm welcome to his province and his Chief Secretary entertained us at lunch. We also paid a visit to Butterworth, the Royal Australian Air Force base in Malaya, and were most cordially received by the officers and men at the station. A fly-past of Sabre jets was organized in our honour and we were impressed by the efficiency, alertness and bearing of all ranks at Butterworth.
Sinpagore is a most attractive city, and perhaps the best known of all oriental cities to Australians. It is situated 77 miles north of the equator and has a population of 1,700,000, of whom 80 per cent, are of Chinese origin. Raffles, a mighty Englishman, selected the site for the city in 1819. As the population figures indicate, Singapore to-day is a modern Chinese city. Britain is now moving out of the city state which it pioneered and developed to its present point of greatness. Chinese, Malays, Indians, Arabs, Singhalese, Jews, Europeans and Eurasians have made a very great contribution towards building up the city over the years. This multi-racial community has multiplied and prospered by its industry, intelligence and skills, under the protective power of the British armed forces and the application of British principles of law and order. In these times, when so much is said by so many against what is termed colonialism, this historical fact should not be forgotten.
It should not be overlooked also that the British came to Malaya in the first instance not1 by conquest but with the consent and indeed at the request of the Malayan rulers at that time. The first British settlement in Malaya was at Penang in 1786, and British administration was extended to other Malayan States by treaties made with the Malayan sultans. The partnership between Britain and Malaya over a very long period has helped Malaya to become increasingly prosperous. In 1948 a federation of all the Malayan States was successfully negotiated on a free and willing basis between the British and Malayan leaders. The capital of the new federation was established at Kuala Lumpur. Singapore at that time was not included in the Malayan federation.
The evolution of events, the fears of communism and covetous neighbours have called for a greater measure of unity among the friendly people of that area. Hence Malaysia. It was felt that a federation of Malaya, Singapore, North Borneo, Sarawak and Brunei would overcome the isolation of all of these States, would create a progressive and1 stable grouping as a barrier against Communist penetration and would help the more rapid development of the Malaysian countries. The Federation of Malaysia came into being on 16th September, 1963. The conditions governing the entry of Singapore were worked out by the Singapore and Malayan governments and were approved by a large majority of the people of Singapore in a referendum held on 1st September, 1962. In Sarawak and North Borneo the Cobbold Commission concluded that a substantial majority of the population in that area favoured the proposal, provided that suitable safeguards could be worked out.
The legislatures of both States subsequently endorsed this course. Thereafter a report was prepared by an intergovernmental committee, on which there were representatives of the people of both territories, appointed to work out the details and safeguards for the entry into Malaysia of Sarawak and North Borneo. This report was adopted by the legislatures of the two territories on 8th and 13th March, 1963, respectively, and for good measure a general election in Sabah and Sarawak subsequently confirmed the overwhelming support of the population of Malaysia.
The United Nations, under Indonesian pressures, sent a team of observers and rapporteurs across to the Borneo territories during 1963. It subsequently advised U Thant, following on a plebiscite, that the great majority of people in Sabah and Sarawak very strongly favoured the Malaysian federation. This year, on 25th April, the Malaysian Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, won a shattering victory in the Malayan elections, the issue being continued resistance to Indonesian confrontation. The result proves the strength and unity of the Malayans in standing up for their rights and their almost unanimous support for the policies enunciated by the Tunku. Thus, a group of free people, multiracial in character, have come together in unity, wanting nothing more than to run their own affairs and to live in peace with other people around them. Therefore, I find it very difficult, in my fervent wish to understand Indonesia’s aspirations, to understand why President Sukarno should call continually on his people to crush Malaysia. Where is the rhyme or the reason in calling for the destruction of a peaceful group of free people?
President Sukarno has said that he will fight colonialism in Malaysia or anywhere else. I have visited the South-East Asian areas with my colleagues, and I think I am justified in asking: Who are the colonialists in that region? Where do they lurk? The United Kingdom was a colonial power, but it entered into an agreement which made the peoples of Malaya free, and later made the peoples of Malaysia absolutely free. Having given freedom to the Malaysians, the United Kingdom could not walk right out of South-East Asia and abandon the newly founded State and its people to any predatory power with the strength to overrun it. Having set the Malaysians free the United Kingdom accepted Malaysia’s invitation to stand by to see that lt remained free.
The Indonesian policy of confrontation of Malaysia - completely unprovoked as I see it - is the reason why the United Kingdom has been asked by Malaysia to continue to occupy and maintain such bases and facilities as the United Kingdom Government may consider necessary to assist in the defence of Malaysia. President Sukarno has talked also about encirclement by Malaysia. It does not make sense that the Federation of Malaysia, divided by water from Indonesia proper, and having a population of only 11,000,000, could mount an encircling attack on Indonesia with its population of approximately 100,000,000 and a large army fully equipped. In my SouthEast Asian tour I could not find any country in the region which had designs on Indonesia, or which offered any threat to the Indonesian state. All countries I visited wanted to live in peace with their neighbours and develop their resources to provide food and employment for their people. What then is the reason for all these angry threats of confrontation and subjugation of free and friendly people in, Malaysia who have done Indonesia no harm?
In March, 1959, Dr. Subandrio, the distinguished Indonesian Foreign Minister, visited Australia, and right here in Canberra he had talks with our Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and other members of the Government on the subject of West Irian. I shared the general Australian feeling at the time that Indonesia could fairly ask the Dutch to restore West Irian, despite a rather ambiguous settlement agreement between the Netherlands and Indonesia. In all discussions Dr. Subandrio emphasized that Indonesia had no claim whatever on Australian New Guinea, British North Borneo or Portugese Timor. The presence of Indonesian guerrillas in Sabah and Sarawak in North Borneo is oddly at variance with Foreign Minister Subandrio’s assurances to the Australian Government in 1959. Dr. Subandrio was warmly welcomed at that time and created much goodwill when he said that in the event of an attack from elsewhere Indonesia would be Australia’s first shield. That was a statement made by Dr. Subandrio at various public functions held in his honour in Canberra and elsewhere in Australia at that time.
Australia wants that goodwill to continue. Our forces are in Malaysia at the invitation of the Malaysian Government, in continuation of the original request by the Malayan Government, when the Commonwealth Military Forces were first organized, about 1948, to drive out the Communist bandits from the Malayan jungle. A hard and bitter struggle ensued in which the Australians played a notable part and to which Malayan, British and other Commonwealth nationals also made a magnificent contribution. The Communist terrorists were there in great strength but were finally thrown back deeply into the jungle, their revolutionary spirit broken and their ranks decimated.
It is along the Malaysian line somewhere that Australians, in co-operation with other friendly people, are fated sooner or later, to defend this country against the Communist pressures from the north. We look to Indonesia as Australia’s first shield - to use the words so sincerely expressed by Dr. Subandrio in 1959. Australian armed forces, whilst standing by Malaysia under commitments, are standing guard also over Australia’s own security, not in terms of aggression, but in terms of defence. We want to remain on the friendliest terms with Indonesia.
I am sure that every member of the Australian delegation which visited Indonesia last year has not forgotten, nor would they wish to forget, the wonderful welcome accorded to the Australian delegation. We have not forgotten the friendly act of Brigadier-General Suadi and his gracious wife, together with members of the Indonesian embassy, who travelled from Canberra to the international airport at Mascot in Sydney to give us all a very cheery send off. Later, Ambassador Suadi arrived in Indonesia and accompanied us in all our travels throughout his country - a gesture which was very pleasing to us all. Our arrival at the Djakarta airport was a most enjoyable experience because the welcome from a large and representative body of Indonesian people was so cordial. Every one seemed to be glad to see us. and everybody present seemed to be really happy and in good spirits.
Included in the welcoming groups were a large number of parliamentary representatives including the Deputy Chairman of the Gotong-Rojong Parliament. The words Gotong-Rojong mean mutual assistance. We were welcomed also by local InterParliamentary Union leaders, members of the Indonesian Foreign Affairs Committee and youth and women’s groups. Much enthusiasm was displayed and it was really a joyous occasion. As a further token of goodwill the entire Australian delegation were made the guests of the Indonesian Parliament during its stay.
– At a good hotel too.
– We were guests at a good hotel, as Senator O’Byrne says. The Parliament is a nominated body consisting of 282 members. Half the members are drawn from the political parties and the remainder from what are known as functional groups comprising the armed services, youth and women’s groups, student and labour organizations. The leader of the Parliament is Mr. Speaker who is assisted by three Deputy Speakers, all holding ministerial rank.
The President, Dr. Sukarno, who has been appointed head of state for life received the delegation in the Merdeka Palace, a beautiful old building built originally by the Dutch. The President speaks excellent English. He held our attention for nearly one hour when he talked to us in the palace reception room. At the end of his talk to us, he answered a number of questions. When the interview ended, he directed that cars be sent to take us down to the Gelora Bung Karno sports stadium where a crowd of several thousand people were waiting to hear the speeches in celebration of the resumption in 1959 of the 1945 constitution.
The President dwelt a good deal on the unsuitability of parliamentary democracy, as understood in Western countries, to the needs of Indonesia. He said that the Indonesian State was based on the Pantja Sila, being the five fundamental principles of the State. These five principles express belief in God, in humanity, in nationalism, in democracy and in social justice. I am sure that all the Australians present accepted without question all five principles. I am not so sure, however, that the Indonesian Communist leader, Mr. Aidit, and his camp followers would be prepared to stand up in support of the first principle.
In private talks with Indonesian leaders, I sought elucidation of the President’s policy of guided democracy. I was informed that the Indonesians used the particular words, “ Musjawarah and Mufakat “, which meant the acceptance of opinions on problems of State through consultation and without dissent. In practice, I understand, it means that decisons were made after consultation with the Gotong Rojong Parliament conducted on the same basis as would apply to talks at the village councils. The President, in his speech at the Gelora Bung Karno stadium, claimed that guided democracy was an actual Indonesian creation, and that it was a system of democracy which laid stress on the values of leadership as practised by the prophet Mohammed. He made the interesting claim that there had been a rediscovery of national identity in some Asian countries, instancing Pakistan which, he said, had abandoned Western democracy in favour of what the Pakistanis called basic democracy, while the Philippines had returned to a system which was called commanding democracy - this in addition to Indonesia’s guided democracy. The President, in his address at the Gelora Bung Karno stadium, most vigorously repudiated the charge that guided democracy constituted any form of dictatorship.
The President is entitled to his view, but I do not see the position in the same light. Clearly, true democracy means government by the people - that form of government in which the sovereign power resides in the people. The Indonesian system of government is not a democracy in the true meaning of the word because the sovereign’ power does not reside in the Indonesian people as a whole. Plato, the great Athenian philosopher, said over 2.000 years ago that democracy passes into despotism. Plato’s declaration has had truthful application down through the centuries which have passed since he spoke those words. What he said, then, concerns our Western parliamentary democracy as we have seen in our own time, mainly in the Nazi system of Hitler’s Germany, Russia’s communism and the dictatorship of red China. It applies, of course, with greater force to countries which have not the curbing influence of a truly democratic parliamentary system.
The Government of Indonesia arranged a most interesting tour for the Australian delegation by motor car to Bogor and Bandung, thence by air to Bali and back to Djakarta via the central Javanese city of Jogjakarta. In Bandung, the governor of West Java, Colonel Mashudi, extended a very warm welcome and provided a most enjoyable cultural evening which included an outstanding rendition of “ Waltzing Matilda” by a splendid choral and anklung. The anklung, I should explain to the uninitiated, is a bamboo orchestra and is very pleasant to listen to, indeed. As at Bandung, the governor of Bali gave us a most cordial welcome paying special tribute to Australia for aid given for the relief of victims of the Mount Agung volcanic eruption. On the return journey, our aircraft was diverted slightly to fly over and around the smokey mountain so that the delegation could see something of the widespread and terrible devastation caused by the erupting volcano.
Let me say, too, that wherever we travelled by motor car, really lovely children, well mannered boys and girls, appeared in the streets and on the roadways calling out friendly greetings such as “Australia. Australia.” Some of the children waved small Australian flags whilst the adults called out cheery welcomes. All my colleagues on this very happy tour through Indonesia will testify that a warmhearted reception was accorded to us wherever we journeyed, not only by the governing authorities but also by the masses of the people. We found the Indonesian people kind, friendly and gay of heart. We were told that there were very many poor people and, in some districts, considerable distress. Recent press reports suggest that the situation has worsened considerably since the delegation’s visit last July. Indonesia, I believe from my own observations, has large areas of rich volcanic soil, much of it virgin soil, and enough man-power to grow rice in sufficient quantities to feed its increasing population. Indonesia has the capacity to build up export surpluses of rice.
The Indonesian ambassador to Australia, Brigadier-General Suadi, whom I know and respect, said after his recent return from Indonesia that his country needed sympathy. I agree wholeheartedly when I sorrowfully contemplate the Indonesians’ grievous burdens of soaring inflation and economic deterioration. If the Indonesian leaders could exchange the gun for the plough, the lot of the common people would be much happier and brighter. I sincerely hope ‘that a peaceful settlement will soon be reached between Indonesia and Malaysia on the basis of live and let live.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
[5.13]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill and of the associated Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill is to obtain Parliamentary authority for certain expenditure for which provision was not made in the Appropriation Bill 1963-64. The various items contained in this bill can be considered in committee, and 1 propose at this stage to refer only to the major provisions.
Further appropriations totalling £7,800,000 are required for ordinary departmental services, but because of savings under other appropriations, it is estimated that the actual expenditure will not exceed the Budget provision of £59,000,000 by more than about £2,800,000. The additional appropriations include £1,907,000 for assisted migration, of which £1,587,000 is for British migration; £360,000 for contributions to various United Nations activities; and £300,000 for salaries in the Taxation Branch.
Additional appropriations totalling £15,500,000 are sought by the service departments, including appropriations of £10,800,000 for the Department of Air, mainly for the purchase of TFX aircraft from the United States of America. However, because of savings under other appropriations, it is expected that the Budget provision of £251,700,000 will only be exceeded by £8,600,000, making an estimated total expenditure for the year on defence services of £260,300,000.
The additional appropriations sought for war and repatriation services amount to £658,000, which in the main covers increases in salaries and administrative expenses in the Repatriation Department.
Under business undertakings an amount of £3,700,000 is sought. However, because of savings under other items it is expected that the Budget estimate of £135,200,000 will only be exceeded by approximately £2,000,000. Under this heading Commonwealth Railways seek an appropriation of £285,000 to provide for additional working expenditures whilst the Postmaster-General’s Department has sought additional appropriation totalling £3,048,000, which are mainly to cover approved increases in salary and penalty rates. However, because of savings under other items of that department it is estimated that the Budget estimate of £113,800,000 will not be exceeded by more than about £1,500,000. An additional amount of £337,000 is sought for broadcasting and television services, £200,000 of which will be paid to the Australian Broadcasting Commission for increased operational expenses, including cost of salary margins and other allowances which were not included in the original appropriation.
An amount of £679,000 is sought for the Territories, including £335,000 for the Northern Territory and £336,000 for the Australian Capital Territory. The additional appropriations for the Territories aTe mainly to cover increases in salaries and administrative expenses. It is estimated that the Budget provision of £42,044,000 will be exceeded only by about £257,000 because of savings under other items.
When the Budget was prepared, it was estimated that £62,500,000 of expenditure on defence services would have to be charged to the Loan Fund in order to bring the Consolidated1 Revenue Fund into balance for the year. Provision was therefore made accordingly. Receipts of the Consolidated Revenue Fund are now expected to be greater than was estimated at the time of the Budget. Expenditure also will increase, but the balance is expected’ to favour revenue. It will probably not be necessary, therefore, to charge as much as £62,500,000 of expenditure on defence services to the Loan Fund. But the final outcome cannot be estimated1 precisely at this stage. I am therefore seeking authority to charge, as necessary, up to £22,500,000- more of expenditure on defence services, which it had been otherwise proposed to charge to the Loan Fund, to the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
At the end of a financial year the receipts and the expenditures of the Consolidated Revenue Fund are rarely precisely in balance. It is possible that there might be a surplus in the Consolidated Revenue Fund even after meeting from that fund more expenditure on defence services than was originally intended. It is therefore proposed that provision should be made for an appropriation of £20,000,000 for payment to the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve. Any payment that is made under this authority will be used for the redemption of debt.
I commend the bill to honorable senators.
– The Opposition does not oppose this measure. It is the usual second appropriation bill, and many of the matters referred to by the Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner) during his secondreading speech covered items of a category that are quite usual. Sometimes the appropriations for items are not expended, or less is expended than was estimated, and savings are accordingly made. In other cases additional expenditure is involved, and it is right and proper that the savings should be offset against these items but that authority for excess expenditure should be obtained.
I rise only to offer a comment on the last two paragraphs of the Minister’s speech, in which he indicated that the Government is already preparing us for an end-of-year result quite different from the one that was forecast last August. At that time the Government thought it would be so short of revenue for the year that £62,500,000 of loan money would have to be allocated towards the defence vote. It now appears that the whole of that money will not be required, and authority is sought to use another £22,500,000 of revenue in lieu of loan moneys. In addition to that, in anticipation of a surplus, about £20,000,000 is to be taken from revenue and paid into the Loan Consolidation and Investment Reserve, to be applied from there for the purpose of debt redemption. Those two items alone indicate that there will be a result better by nearly £50,000,000 than the Government put before us in the Estimates. One cannot say what the final result will be until the year closes, but I see, in the Minister’s speech, the prospect that we shall again be faced with a very real gap between the Estimates which the Government presented to us last August and the results which will come before us next August. However, we will await the final result before pursuing that theme further.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Consideration resumed from 13th May (vide page 1097), on motion by Senator Paltridge -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 13th May (vide page 1097), on motion by Senator Paltridge-1-
That the bill be now read a first time.
– I would like to take the opportunity of mentioning to the Senate some of the transport problems in the north of South Australia. This is the area of the vast South Australian electorate of Grey. I desire to refer to the parlous condition of roads in that area and the transport problems connected with the railways. South Australia has had no help from the beef roads legislation which is so important these days to the outback parts of Australia. I understand that the help received by Queensland, and to a lesser extent by Western Australia, has been most significant. Of course the South Australian Government receives sums of money under recent roads legislation but there is no specific allotment for the beef roads or tracks in South Australia.
Recently the Tasmanian Government received quite a sizeable amount for the Gordon River road and I understand that the problems presented in regard to that road were purely local to Tasmania and had very little, if any, bearing on the position of export income. Recently the Premier of South Australia, Sir Thomas Playford, visited Canberra and according to a brief press report he had lengthy discussions with the Government. I understand one of the problems discussed was the provision of money for roads. I do not know what points the Premier put to the Government. However, the points I want to make in this debate are based on information I gained while travelling in the area, and conferring with men who, with their families, have spent over a century there. I have also had the opportunity of reading the report of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, “The Economics of the Development of Road Transport of Beef Cattle, Far North of South Australia, 1960”. I understand that a Mr. Thomas made the survey upon which this report was based.
We in South Australia are grateful to the Commonwealth for the assistance given in regard to railways. I refer to the railway from Perth to Kalgoorlie and Port Pirie which is known in South Australia as the east-west railway. This has a gauge of 4-ft. 8i-ins. and is a fine, well-laid, fast railway continually being serviced and kept up to date. Then there is the railway from Adelaide through Port Pirie and Port Augusta to Oodnadatta and into the Northern Territory to Alice Springs. Marree is about 400 miles from Adelaide. Between Adelaide and Port Pirie, the railway gauge is 5-ft. 3-ins.; from Port Pirie to Marree the gauge is 4-ft. 8i-ins. and from Marree to Alice Springs it is 3-ft. 6-ins.
It has always been surprising to me - and a matter of great pride - that South Australia, in the 1880’s with all its lack of resources, was able to build this railway over a distance of 680 miles to Oodnadatta. The Government of South Australia did that because of its responsibility to the pastoral community in that area. I am going to talk about the descendants of those great pioneers who had great confidence in the future of their province. Their descendants have not betrayed that confidence although they had been subjected to tremendous droughts and difficulties. I desire to direct the attention of honorable senators to the difficulties they are now going through.
I think the Government, if it looks fairly at the situation, will come to the conclusion that it should help South Australia in the way that it has helped Western Australia meet some of its problems, such as roads and jetties, and in the way that it has helped Queensland with its problems of beef roads. The Government has even helped New South Wales in regard to loading facilities for coal and projects of that type.
Before I actually present the problem facing the far north of South Australia I think I should refer to the ‘ railway between Porth Augusta and the Western Australian border. This is a Commonwealth railway serving a sparsely settled sheep raising area. There are. of course, major towns such as Woomera and Maralinga served by this line. But I use the word “ served “ rather guardedly because I do not think enough use is being made of this railway, particularly by the town of Woomera. About 6.000 people live in this town and it is a little over 100 miles off Port Augusta. A road built by the South Australian Government runs almost parallel to this line but it is in a dreadful condition for most of the year and for most years.
The continuous reconstruction work required on this road is a great charge on the revenue of South Australia. Honorable senators may well ask why this road packs up so frequently. I think the answer to that question is that the Commonwealth Government does not direct its departments to use this excellent railway - this excellent Commonwealth railway - which runs parallel with the road. We all know that the Commonwealth Government is really responsible for the entire welfare of Woomera. However, it does not encourage or insist that contractors forward heavy gear and equipment and supplies by rail. There is a direct link right into Woomera from the main line, a distance of about three miles. Yet, the small amount of use being made of this excellent railway for the cartage of thousands of thousands of tons of supplies, equipment, building material and so on is fantastic.
It must be remembered that Woomera, of itself, produces nothing it needs - not one single thing. Everything has to be carried there by some means overland. This is not very practicable when this splendid railway exists. The Commonwealth Railways Commissioner, according to his annual report to this Parliament, has stressed the fact that the Departments of Supply, Works and Defence which are associated with this project at Woomera are not using the railway. I understand that conferences have been held about this matter from time to time. I still get reports about the lack of use of this railway by important Commonwealth departments and by the contractors that they engage. I should like the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir William Spooner) to take this matter up at the highest level with a view to the holding of a conference between departments and to their being instructed to use the railway more than they are using it at present.
The road is continually packing up, and to keep it in good order is a tremendous charge on the South Australian Government. That Government really cannot keep the road in good order because of the intensity of heavy traffic, which surges past Port Augusta through the small towns and villages. One hears complaints from people living in those places about heavy government trucks passing through, causing danger to people and property. Port Augusta is a great Commonwealth railway town. Many people living there are concerned about the number of Commonwealth trucks passing across the bridge at the head of Spencer Gulf. Some people, in a spirit of calculation, actually count them and write to the Adelaide “ Advertiser “, stating the number that they have counted in an hour or two hours. This shows clearly that disquiet is caused in a town which is entirely reliant on the use made of the Commonwealth railways. If the use of those railways in the area dwindles, the jobs of many persons will be at stake. I urge most sincerely that a conference such as I have suggested should take place at a top level to ensure that more use is made of the railway.
– Will not some explanation of that matter be given when the Minister makes his second-reading speech?
– I make these comments at the first-reading stage. There might be an explanation and further discussion in committee.
– I should think that that would be the procedure.
Senator LAUGHT__ 1 have submitted some arguments to the effect that we should look after our own, especially as so much government money is being spent in the Woomera area. The main matter about which I wish to speak is the condition of roads leading to the Commonwealth railway line in the north of South Australia, from Port Augusta to Marree and beyond. There we have what could be regarded as one of the finest train services in Australia, even though the area is isolated. Dieselelectric locomotives have been used to pull vast loads of brown coal from Leigh Creek to the power station at Port Augusta, but the 4 ft. 81/2 in. gauge line was not taken to Leigh Creek for the purpose of coal haulage. It was taken to Marree, and in this Parliament we were told the purpose of the extension. Every one of us from South Australia welcomed it, of course. Our late respected friend, Senator McLeay, who introduced the measure, was delighted with the response that it received. We were told that the extension from Leigh Creek to Marree was to service the cattle industry. The train service is good. New yards have been erected at Marree, Lyndhurst, and other places. However, the roads leading to this line are in such a deplorable state that the railway cannot function to anything like its full capacity.
I have been in touch with some of the leading graziers in the area. They describe the condition of the Birdsville track, which runs 300 miles from Marree to Birdsville, Queensland, near the South Australian border, as the worst in 30 years. It is almost impassable for stock-carrying vehicles, mainly because the clay over the top of the sand dunes has been damaged so much that the road is virtually over raw sandhills. A little to the south, the Strzelecki track which runs from Copley, near Leigh Greek, is in a similar state. The practical result of this is that cattle bred and raised in that part of South Australia cannot reach railhead on the Commonwealth railway from Marree south. At great expense they are being taken across Queensland to Quilpie, and then they make a rather devastating railway journey on the 3 ft. 6 in. gauge line to the eastern seaboard.
– Over a greater distance, too.
– At far greater cost to the graziers. The traditional route of the predecessors of these cattle for 100 years is now no longer usable. The Commonwealth loses a tremendous amount of revenue to which it is entitled for the carriage of those herds of cattle. Graziers and pastoralists are put to additional expense. Generally, the industry suffers economically. I suggest to the Government that it should seriously consider any plea that Sir Thomas Playford has recently made, and the plea that I make now, for the classification of those tracks as beef roads. They are mainly tracks over which beef cattle travel. Some of the cattle go down to the Adelaide market at present. Some go to more favoured areas in the southeast of South Australia for fattening and then they might well go to the Melbourne market and become part of Australia’s exports.
I want to say a word or two about factors affecting the development of road traffic in the far north, but at this point I seek leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 5.43 to 8 p.m.
Motion (by Senator Gorton) proposed -
That Government business take precedence of general business.
.- Will the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) be good enough to indicate to me the Government’s intention about the important motion standing on the business paper in my name relating to the siting of the permanent Parliament House? 1 have raised this point with the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir William Spooner) during the last week, but 1 have had no clear indication of the Government’s intention. My anxiety is increased somewhat by reports in the press that a ministerial statement on the development of Canberra, which of course would embrace the matter I have in mind, is likely to be made soon. I should be obliged if, before his motion is disposed of, the Minister would assure me that there has been no thought of taking action which would prejudice the Senate’s having an opportunity to vote upon the motion which stands in my name.
– I am afraid that I am not in a position to answer the honorable senator’s question directly. I did not know that he had approached the Leader of the Government in the Senate. The Leader of the Government has not approached me about the matter. I just do not know what the position is.
– As long as the statement which the Minister is about to make is not the one to which I referred earlier, I shall take the risk of waiting for another day or two.
– No, it is not.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– by leave - Honorable Senators will recall that last year, when announcing the Government’s programme of aid for universities during the 1964-66 triennium, the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) foreshadowed the establishment of an inquiry to advise it on the levels of academic salaries which could appropriately be adopted by the Commonwealth for the purpose of calculating recurrent grants for universities.
We have now reached certain decisions about this inquiry. It will be conducted by Mr. Justice Eggleston of the Commonwealth Industrial Court and of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory and Norfolk Island. The Government will appoint two assessors whose function will be to assist the inquiry with expert advice and analysis based on a special knowledge of universities and government interests in the subject. I have written to the Chairman of the Vice-Chancellors Committee and to the President of the Federation of Australian ‘University Staff Associations inviting them to submit jointly a panel of three names for the Government to consider when appointing the assessor with special knowledge of the universities’ interest. The other assessor will be a person with experience in government service.
The terms of reference of the inquiry are as follows: -
To advise the Government on the standard salary or range of salaries for a professor and the standard salary range for a reader or associate professor which the inquiry considers should be adopted as a measure of academic salaries to be used by the Australian Universities Commission for the purpose of recommending grants to be made to universities, including the Australian National University, for recurrent expenditure.
It is our intention that the inquiry should proceed in an atmosphere of informality and without being given a statutory basis. It will thus dispense with sworn evidence, verbatim records and public hearings. Actual procedure will be a matter for decision and announcement by Mr. Justice Eggleston. In due course, the inquiry will be communicating with interested parties to invite them to submit views in writing. I remind honorable senators that the Commonwealth fully accepts that salaries paid in a State university are, and must remain, ultimately a matter for that university and the appropriate State Government. The basic purpose of the present inquiry is to provide guidance for the Commonwealth and, as already announced, its findings will be applied retrospectively to 1st January, 1964, in relation to recurrent grants offered by the Commonwealth to the States for their universities. Also the Commonwealth will adopt the findings as a basis for its recurrent, grants to the Australian National University from the same date.
Debate resumed (vide page 1188).
– Mr. President, when this debate was adjourned prior to the dinner suspension, I was dealing with transport problems in the north of South Australia. I think I was able to show the parlous condition of the main roads along which stock were transported to market. It is well to point out to the Senate that in this particular part of the State there are no district council areas. In other words, it is so isolated that the normal processes of municipalities or district councils do not operate. Moreover, there is no general activity on the part of the Highways and Local Government Department. I understand that the only plant which is available for attention to roads is plant which is owned by the Engineering and Water Supply Department of South Australia and which has many other tasks to perform. I believe that last year this plant was used to scrape Lake Eyre level so that Donald Campbell could undertake speed trials. It is all-purpose plant but is not entirely satisfactory for road work.
From what I have been told by pastoralists in the area, it would seem that a drag grader, two or three big trucks, an end-on loader and from eight to ten men would be needed, with one team to service the Birdsville track and another to service the Strzelecki track. I have made a number of inquiries to ascertain why the roads are so bad. The Government should know that a good deal of blame is attached to the oil search organizations because of the use they make of these tracks. These tracks, which have been iti existence for 80 years, have serviced cattle and, in recent years, motor vehicles which carry cattle. However, within the last two or three years there has been a vigorous search for oil in that area of South Australia. No doubt that search has been egged on by the generous and imaginative grants and incentives that have been offered by this Government. The practical effect is that vehicles weighing possibly up to five tons are called upon to carry loads weighing 20 tons or more of drilling equipment, housing materials, supplies, fuel, water, and everything else that is. required for the drilling camps. When holes are drilled unsuccessfully, the plant is speedily moved to other locations. This has had a devastating effect on these tracks, which are lifelines to the pastoralists in the area. This use of the roads seems to me to be the main cause for their being in such a shocking state.
South Australia is manifestly unable to cope with this problem. Il has occurred to me that the Commonwealth might well view the state of these roads as being a sequel to the intensive search for oil and gas in the area. I would like the position to bc looked at as a consequence of oil search. An enormous problem has been presented to the people living in the area and to those who are carrying on the traditional pastoral industry in the area. I believe that the Commonwealth should help South Australia in this problem which I am highlighting this evening as it did recently with regard to the Gordon River road in Tasmania, in order to help that State in connexion wilh its tourist activity and its hydro-electric supplies.
Another aspect I would like to mention to the Senate is that these roads should be brought up to date. The blueprint for this work is referred to in great detail in a document issued by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics in 1960, entitled “The Economics of the Development of Road Transport of Beef Cattle - Far North of South Australia “. So that the Senate will appreciate the position, I point out that the document states that if the roads could bc brought up to date it would help to save the lives of drought-stricken cattle. It would also help, by integration, the southern fattening areas, and there is a considerable likelihood that stocking rates could be more closely attuned to carrying capacities. Generally, there would be a spirit of confidence engendered by making the cattle markets more readily accessible. The great pioneer people in the far north of South Australia deserve a shot in the arm, as it were, and to have their confidence supported in this very difficult area in which they and their families have been operating over the last 100 years. Good roads would bring about continuity of supply of cattle and, in addition, lead to cattle being available for the meat works which it is hoped will be established either in Port Augusta or Port Pirie. Continuity of supply made certain by good access roads, is most important.
As I pointed out before the suspension of the sitting for dinner, because the roads arc in such a bad state the tendency is for the surplus cattle to be walked to Queensland and then taken through Quilpie to the east coast. It is important that there be good roads so that in bad times the cattle may be taken out of the area and in good times they may be brought in. That is one of the great problems confronting the far north of South Australia. It is a problem to which I hope the Commonwealth will give serious consideration. The Premier of South Australia was in Canberra recently, and from the scanty press report concerning his visit, it would appear that he put forward a strong case for better roads in the far north of South Australia.
I would like the Government to consider why there have been no beef road grants to South Australia. Has not the report of the Department of Primary Industry, to which I made reference earlier and to which an honorable senator on the Opposition side referred yesterday, stressed the great potential of the beef industry in the far north of South Australia? Has not this report stressed the savings that would be possible for industry and the economy of Australia if the roads were improved? I ask the Government: Has not the South Australian Government been most assiduous in pressing its claim? Is there anything yet to be done by the South Australian Government to get these tracks included in the general concept of beef roads?
– Get Tasmania taken out of the Loan Council allocation for roads.
– My friend, Senator Cormack, has an answer, but I cannot examine it at this moment. I ask (he Government: Why standardize the railway line north of Leigh Creek to Marree if the main purpose of standardizing that section of the railway was not to ease the rail transport problem? If the tracks are allowed to deteriorate to such a degree that people are sending very few cattle over them, the standardization of the section of the railway north of Leigh Creek ten years ago is of no effect. What advantage to the Commonwealth railways is there if people who, for a period of approximately 80 years, have been looking towards that railway for the transportation of their cattle, are now diverting their cattle to the east coast of Australia? In the metropolitan areas of South Australia the reduced flow of cattle to the south has meant higher meat prices because of the shortage of cattle at the Adelaide saleyards and abattoirs. There are most compelling reasons why attention should be given lo the whole question of rail and road transport in the far north of South Australia in the areas I have mentioned to the Senate this afternoon and this evening.
– I want to direct my remarks in part to the questions referred to by Senator Laught. I remind honorable senators that there is nothing original in the agitation we have heard in the Senate to-night for the provision of beef roads and, in fact, better roads in the far north of South Australia. Honorable senators on both sides of the chamber have raised the matter repeatedly for some considerable time. Senator Laught is aware that members from both sides of the South Australian Parliament have interested themselves in this problem to the extent that they have travelled over the tracks concerned in order to decide what has to be done to serve best the interests of South Australia.
Without in any way indulging in party politics on this matter, I mention that members who took such action included the member for Mitcham, Mr. Millhouse, who is a Government supporter, the member for Frome, Mr. Casey, and the Speaker of the South Australian Parliament, who is the member for Ridley. Those gentlemen are as concerned as we are to improve roads generally and to provide beef roads in the far north of South Australia. South Australian senators from both sides of this chamber have to stop thinking of this matter as an academic one so far as the people of South Australia are concerned. The time has passed when we in this Senate should ask academic questions about what the South Australian Government proposes to do in this matter and what the Federal Government will do. There are organizations and individuals in South Australia who are concerned about the existing position. They are perturbed about the state of the roads and the effect this has on the economic life of South Australia. It is worth remembering that Senator Laught on the 7th May, 1964. asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, on notice -
What moneys will bc available for use in South Australia in the current and next financial year for the reconstruction and maintenance of roads in the north of South Australia used mainly for the transport of beef cattle?
Was the reconstruction of these roads recommended in a report of the Department of Primary Industry?
The answer that the Minister gave was, in my opinion, a masterpiece of evasion. It was -
The South Australian Government does not inform the Commonwealth of the amount which it intends to spend on roads in any part of the State, and in consequence I do not have information concerning this matter. It is proposed that, under the new Commonwealth Aid Roads Legislation covering the five-year period 1964-69, the grants made to the States by the Commonwealth will be increased by 50 per cent, so that South Australia during this period is expected to receive about £42,750,000. The South Australian Government may spend any part of this grant on roads in the northern part of that State.
I suggest that that was merely begging the question, because the Minister knows, as Senator Laught knows, as I know, and, indeed, as anybody who understands the position in South Australia knows, that the maintenance and construction of roads to effectively serve the interests of South Australia is beyond the scope of the ordinary grant which South Australia receives from the Commonwealth for road maintenance and construction in that State. The Minister was begging the question. What Senator Laught set out to achieve - I think he should have been more specific, because I think he knew, as the Minister knew, that the road grant normally given would not cover the position - was that something should be done along the lines of what is done for Queensland and for other States.
I think that honorable senators have been too subservient in these matters, or too lax in their pressing for the needs of South Australia, particularly in the far north of that State.
I said that there was nothing original in some of the matters mentioned by Senator Laught. I recall that on the 4th March the member for Grey (Mr. Mortimer), whose electorate covers the greater part of the far north of South Australia, asked a question in another place, about the great volume of heavy transport using the roads in that electorate, about the effect that such transport was having on the roads and about the problems that that was creating for people in that area and adjacent areas. Then on 8th April the member foi Adelaide (Mr. Sexton) asked a question regarding a statement by the South Australian Stockowners
Association, dep’oring the lack of beef
Toads in the north of South Australia. The Minister was asked whether the South Australian Government had made a direct application for the provision of money for roads in the far north of .South Australia. The Minister said that he could not recall it. but the Prime Minister interjected and said, “ There was one “. Apparently the Minister did not know but the Prime Minister thought there hud been one. That is all we know about the position. The matter ended there.
The time has come when South Australian members from both sides of the chamber should insist on knowing just what is the position. Has the South Australian Government made a direct application for aid for roads to develop the far north of South Australia? If so, what has been the attitude of the Federal Government to that application? If there has been an application and the application has been rejected, it is the duty of every South Australian senator - I am sure none will disagree with me in this regard - to press the matter in the interests of South Australia and to see that the State is not swamped by the requirements of the other States. We are quite aw;*re that South Australia has received some benefits from the Commonwealth in the last two or three years, but that does not preclude us from arguing that there are othei areas in South Australia that can only be developed by direct Commonwealth aid - areas that are crying out for development.
Senator Laught referred to a topic in respect of which it might be reasonably conceded that this Government has a direct responsibility, namely, the damage done to the roads by the teams tha’ are engaged in oil exploration. Let me make it clear that I am not criticizing in any way the acceleration in the rate of oil exploration in this country. Like every honorable senator from both sides of the House. 1 applaud the fact that we are attempting to develop the great resources that lie untapped in this country. However, if it can be established that in the process of exploring some of these outback areas for mineral resources, including oil, those engaged in such activities seriously damage the roads used by graziers as a means of communication between stations - roads that are in fact a lifeline in many respects for the people concerned - there is a direct responsibility not only on the companies involved but on this Government to see that that damage is repaired. I do not think any honorable senator will argue against the reasonableness of that proposition. This is a serious matter and one that should be corrected as quickly as possible, lt is a position that I do not intend to leave by sitting down to-night and saying, “ I have made my contribution to the debate and that is the end of it as far as I am concerned “. One could speak at considerable length about the far north of South Australia and its need for essential services, but I do not want to tire the Senate by doing that. 1 have dealt in general terms with what 1 consider to be the attitude that South Australian senators must adopt in future on this serious subject, which so vitally affects our State. I hope that they will no longer regard this as an academic proposition.
– We never have.
– 1 make no apology for saying that I think there has been a tendency to regard finance for beef roads ‘.n South Australia as an academic proposition, at least up to this stage. Wc should not think of it in those terms. Honorable senators who represent South Australia must in future adopt the attitude that they are not going to let this situation continue, and year after year see other States have their resources developed while South Australia is left holding the bag. I hope that what I have said in this regard will sink in and act as a rallying point for the future. I have said this without any political considerations in mind.
I want to touch on only one other matter. From time to time we read in the press that difficulty is being experienced by those people who are organizing the sending to Japan of Australian representatives for the Olympic Games. It appears that financial difficulties are confronting the people concerned with organizing and sending teams to Tokyo for the various events that will be held there later this year. Quite frankly, I think it is a disgrace that these people who are spending so much of their time in seeing that this country is adequately represented at the Tokyo Olympic Games should have to go cap in hand to the public and, possibly exhibit the fear that they may not reach the target that is required. I do not want anybody to think that I am under any wrong impression. I know that the Government is subsidizing, in part, the cost of sending an Australian team to the Olympic Games in Japan, but it is quite obvious that the amount to be provided by the Commonwealth Government is not enough and that we are relying on the generosity of individuals, private companies and other organizations to make sure that Australia is adequately and properly represented in the Olympic arena on which so much attention is focussed by the people of this country. 1 would hope that the Government would set aside this anxiety and worry on the part of the people who are spending so much of their time in organizing to ensure that Australian athletes reach Japan by giving them a guarantee that the full amount required will be forthcoming. It is only a matter of a few paltry thousand pounds after all, but I think it would add a great deal to the peace of mind of the people concerned and it would be a valuable reminder to the people of Australia that the Government is at least aware that Australia has entrants in the Olympic Games, that it follows their progress with interest and that it would want to see whatever laurels they can win in Tokyo as a monument to the Australian people. I would hope that the Government will give some consideration to this matter and I would appreciate hearing the views of the Minister in relation to it.
.- In speaking on the first reading of this rather unique bill - the Supply Bill 1964-65 - I want to be academic in the first part of my speech and very crudely unacademic in the second part. On Tuesday evening we debated the statement of the Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner) announcing the criterion that distinguishes this bill from the next bill to be considered which is entitled Supply (Special Expenditure) Bill 1964-65. Now that these bills have come before us they more than ever impress upon my mind the absence of any basis of reasonableness whatever in the decision that has been made as to the division of the contents of the one and the other. The Minister announced that the effect of the criterion would be that in one bill the items to be appropriated would be those covering the ordinary annual services of the Government and that in the other bill the items would not be of that character.
We have the enormity of the contrast exhibited by the fact that the bill containing the ordinary annual services asks for an appropriation of £427,000,000 whereas the bill that I would rather suspect is somewhat satirically christened the Supply (Special Expenditure) Bill provides for a midget sum of between £1,000,000 and £2,000,000. That provokes me to say expressly that I join in the view of honorable senators on this side of the chamber that on this occasion restraint should be exercised in resolving to reject the bill in its present form. I understand the position to be that the advisers of the Government will have the opportunity, before the Budget session, of giving further consideration to this matter and showing by the format of the bills that will then come before us that a more real approach is possible in an attempt to divide fairly the appropriations between those that are for the ordinary annual services of the Government and those which are not.
I shall mention just one or two facts which aggravate my concern about this matter. First, we must never forget that the first means by which the House of Commons gained its complete control of finance, to the exclusion of the control of the authority of the House of Lords, was by aggregating all items of appropriation into one measure. The House of Lords was faced with the predicament of either throwing out the whole bill or passing it as Lt did not have the power to amend. The second means by which the ascendency of the House of Commons was gained over the House of Lords was by tacking to the various items in an appropriation bill new items of policy which were not important enough for the House of Lords to jettison the whole bill but which, if considered independently as new items of policy, would have been rejected.
In our Constitution it is particularly provided that this Parliament has power to appropriate money only for purposes in respect of which the Parliament has legislative power. That was decided by the High Court after very careful consideration and after the matter had been the subject of momentous discussion. lt is salutary to remind ourselves that the Parliament can make appropriations only for purposes which come within the legislative powers of the Parliament itself. I do not suggest that power would ever be narrowly construed.
The provision that was placed in the Constitution - of which we are the custodians - against this tacking procedure is highlighted by section 54 which was referred to the other night. The section specifically provides that a bill which appropriates revenue for the ordinary annual services of the Government shall deal only with such appropriation. Section 55 uses stronger terms in regard to taxation measures, lt provides for a particular and independent consideration of each taxation subjectmatter by specifically providing that a law imposing taxation shall deal with one subject matter of taxation only. Any law that dealt wilh two subject-matters of taxation would not merely bc in conflict wilh section 55 of the Constitution but also would be invalid. That is the reason why in sales tax legislation, for instance, we have nine bills. We segregate the subject-matter into nine different subjects and ensure that there are nine separate occasions for this chamber, independently, to register its decision on each one of those nine subject-matters without taking the general responsibility of making a decision on one matter which would involve the fate of any of the other eight matters.
I refer the Senate to Harrison Moore’s book on the Commonwealth of Australia, second edition, page 1.44, where it is stated -
Sections 54 ami 55 are auxiliary sections designed to secure Iiic arrangements of section 53.
Section 53 is that section which provides that the Senate may not amend bills appropriating money for ordinary annual services of the Commonwealth. The learned professor continued -
They prevent “ lacking “ in its most objectionable forms; they also deprive the Mouse of the power of effectuating its control over finance by including thc whole of the financial measures for the year in one bill - the course hinted at by the Commons Resolutions of I860, . . .
I recalled the date the other night as 1 86 1 - anil adopted in the Colonies for the purpose of compelling the Upper Mouse lo accept an unwelcome measure.
Coming from such a source of authority, that statement should be weighed well by this chamber before a final decision is reached in September. 1 had the opportunity, through the kind help of the Clerk Assistant of the Senate, to whom 1 applied for references to authorities on this point, to obtain a copy of the judgment of Mr. Justice Barton in Osborne v. the Commonwealth, a celebrated constitutional case that involved a discussion of these sections in 1911. As my purpose is to exchange with honorable senators references to authorities on these matters so that all of us will be well prepared to safeguard what we regard to be our constitutional position when the matter comes up for final decision, 1 crave leave to quote a section of this authority. After dealing with the contentions as to section 55, which requires a law imposing taxation to deal with one subject-matter only and deal with it on the basis that a breach of that requirement would involve invalidity, Mr. Justice Barton said -
I may say. however, that it would take strong argument to convince me that the second pail is nol obligatory, since that construction would remove all effective check on that which the section is on ils face designed to prevent, namely, the lacking together of tax bills of different kinds and unlimited number in one measure. This would bc lo annihilate the intended powers of the Senate, who, favouring some and dissenting from the rest, would find themselves forced either to pass the entire agglomeration, perhaps including much they considered an outrage on the interests of the States they represented; or lo reject all, and thus perhaps cripple the finance of the Commonwealth. This consideration is the graver when it is remembered that the sections dealing with the powers of the two Houses inter se, viz. 53 and 54, contain no provision Whatever against the ‘ tacking “ of tax Bills, and only one against the tacking of extraneous matter to an appropriation Bill, and that, (he ordinary annual one. We cannot fail lo remember that the Constitution designed the Senate lo be a House of greater power than any ordinary second chamber. Nol only by ils express powers, but by the quality of its representation of the States, the Senate was intended lo be able to protect the Slates from aggression. And from no source could aggression be more dangerous than from measures of finance when unjustly bound together.
I wish to add at this point a new thought. In the spirit of liberalism that was giving the products of the industrial revolution of last century a new opportunity, there was every justification in the world for depriving a hereditary chamber such as the House of Lords of any power with respect to control of finance. But membership of the Senate is not based upon the accident of birth. The idea of perpetuating a second chamber even in the United Kingdom, on such a basis, is abhorrent to me, especially in days when artificial insemination has crept into the civilization. Neither is this Senate a chamber nominated by governments which come and go and leave their nominees operating in the second chamber long after their appointers have lost the confidence of the lower House. Nor is the Senate a chamber of indirect electoral devices. The members of the chamber are directly chosen by the people; every elector has one vote. Representing, as it does, those people per State, the Senate is entitled and, I think, bound to safeguard the Constitution which says that only items for appropriation for ordinary annual services of the government should be in the nonamendable bill.
Adopting the new criterion, the Government puts” £427,000,000 into one Supply Bill and less than £2,000,000 into the other, in marked contrast to the relative contents of the bills last year. Therefore I urge that these matters be given serious consideration before we pass judgment upon them finally. I only say now that no argument to the effect that the reconstruction of the measure by September, since the format has been adopted, would lead to administrative inconvenience, would be entertained. I have registered my view upon that matter. Some people might call it academic - and in a sense it is - but in my opinion it is of fundamental constitutional importance. Unless this Senate is to be an expression of failure, and just a vacant hall for echoes of meaningless speech, this position has to be reformed. I feel that, with the Senate in support of the amendment moved last Tuesday night, it is a matter which in one sense is academic yet, in another sense it is of great importance. I turn to another matter because this nonamendable bill entitles and pledges one, as a representative of the interests of the people, to take the opportunity to register a plea and a protest upon a matter that seriously affects the State of Tasmania. I refer to the withdrawal of the licences of meat exporting undertakings in Tasmania early this week. I appeal to the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) to refute the decision that has been made on the basis that at least provisional licences could be continued for such meat works as have completed the substantial requirements of their conditions and have only details of construction yet to be completed.
– The licences have not been withdrawn. Only approval has been withheld.
– I do not understand the distinction. An effective embargo has been placed on the exports of meat from those five processing factories to the United States of America. So, I suggest that at least for those processors which have substantially carried out the conditions and which have the work completed except for details, the Minister should reconsider the abrupt withdrawal of licences and give provisional licences to enable the works to maintain continuity of trade. I do so because it has been represented to me, and I have every reason to believe, that in respect of the completion of those details the meat processors have cause to be critical of the delays and frustrations forced on them by the departmental methods. Plans have not been passed, so that delay for months has resulted and at no tune was a deadline date given to any of the processors. That is of particular importance, as honorable senators will understand when I tell them that I have been informed that those concerned were told of the withdrawal of the licences in a letter dated 4th May but operative as at 1st May. I have been informed that the exports to America formed about 80 per cent, of the export business of the firms concerned.
– That is the figure for Australia.
– Yes, but I have been given to understand that it applies to Tasmanian firms also. This action has caused an immediate substantial drop in the prices offered for beef in Tasmania. I believe it warrants further consideration, so that the Government can determine whether a transitional period can be provided in connexion with the curtailment of licences.
It might be possible to grant provisional licences in cases where the works were unfinished only in respect of detail.
I have raised this matter again in the Senate only because within the last two hours I have received lengthy representations from the secretary of the Tasmanian Farmers Federation to that effect. The representations that I made during the week were of an individual nature. I feel bound to convey these additional arguments to the Minister to see whether it is possible to provide some relief against the abrupt blow that has fallen on the beef industry in Tasmania.
– I am pleased to notice that, perhaps as the result of some of my statements in the debate on the Commonwealth Aid Roads Bill, the question of beef roads in South Australia has been removed from the ordinary run of discussion in the South Australian press and questions addressed to the Commonwealth Government. Questions have been asked from both sides of the chamber on the need for money to be provided for this purpose. I am pleased that honorable senators are again discussing the matter with a view to bringing to the notice of the Commonwealth Government the need for maintenance and reconstruction of beef roads in South Australia.
Members on both sides of the State Parliament in South Australia have referred at various times for the need for the reconstruction of these roads because of the ever-present danger of flooding and also because it is essential to preserve, as far as possible, the pastoral industry in the far north of South Australia. But for some reason the matter was not taken, until quite recently, to the point where the South Australian Government was asked to make strong representations to the Commonwealth Government. When Labour members of the South Australian Parliament first asked Labour members of the Commonwealth Parliament what they should do in this matter, we told them that first they should make sure that the problem was aired in the Parliament of South Australia. They were told that they should make sure that the South Australian Government made the strongest representa tions for aid, because in other States where similar conditions applied some aid had already been given to the pastoral industry.
In my opinion, there is no difference between the claims of South Australia and those of Western Australia and Queensland for aid to construct beef roads. The cattle industry is an important branch of primary production in South Australia. In all the States, the Premiers have the problem of finding enough money to maintain ordinary roads and they have found it almost impossible to do any work on beef roads. The pastoralists have had to put up with roads on which traffic is often interrupted by floods, and communication with rail heads in many cases has been difficult because the roads have not been adequate for the traffic. I trust that as a result of representations from honorable senators on both sides of the chamber, the Government will give this matter special attention.
I should like to go back to a survey of this problem which I mentioned last night. The survey was conducted by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics in 1960, when officers of the bureau examined the economics of the road transport of beef cattle in the far north of South Australia. This was done not from a purely South Australian point of view, but to find out what advantages would accrue to the national economy from a development of road transport of this kind. In the report prepared as a result of the survey, it was stated that 50 per cent, of beef cattle production in South Australia was confined to the far northern area and that herds totalled 122,000. In a long report, the officers of the bureau presented estimates of the funds that would be required to put the beef roads in a safe condition so that they could be used after fairly heavy rains.’ They estimated an expenditure of about £500,000 would put the roads in a fairly satisfactory state of repair. Such expenditure is not only advocated by members of the Australian Labour Party but also by representatives of the wool-growers and graziers in South Australia. Through the Adelaide press, they have recommended that reports such as that of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics should receive active consideration.
It is evident from this survey that capital expenditure of not more than about £500.000 is needed to put these roads in the far north of South Australia in a state of fairly satisfactory repair. Those responsible for the report made some incidental references to the need to make some modifications to rail heads so that they could handle fairly extensive herds. The Pastoral Board of South Australia, which is a statutory body, also directed attention to the lack of any substantial progress in the development of beef roads in the annual report of the South Australian Department of Lands which was presented to the Parliament of South Australia on 31st October. 1962. This was reported in the South Australian press which stated -
The lack of any substantial progress du r ins the year towards the development of the State’s strategic beef cattle roads is recorded “ with regret “ by the Pastoral Board in the annual report of the S.A. Department of Lands.
The report, tabled in Parliament yesterday, savs it is natural that S.A. producers and those outside who look upon Adelaide as their traditional market should bc disturbed that S.A. has been completely neglected in the matter of Commonwealth grants for developing beef roads.
The Pastoral Board has recommended that the Commonwealth Government be approached for special grants to develop roads in the Far North.
Then the report refers to various services which, assisted by small payments, could be put on a satisfactory basis. As a result of that report, some questions were asked in the State Parliament. As I have said, we advised members of the South Australian Parliament that this matter should first be made an issue in the State Parliament and that the Premier of South Australia should bc requested strongly to seek Commonwealth assistance. As a result of this there was some criticism by Mr. McAuley in November, 1962, of people in the Senate. On that occasion he did not criticize Labour senators. However, I do not share in this sort of comment. I think it is unfair that sectional criticism should be made but apparently he expected Government senators lo have lifted this representation to a fairly lively level. I, like Senator Toohey, think this is an important project in South Australia and I agree with what Senator Laught said to-night. I hope there will be some consideration of this matter.
The next move that was made was an inspection by Mr. Tom Casey, the Labour member for Frome. This is his area. He made some observations in the State parliament and later some official of the State Government went to the. area to look at the roads. It appears that, as a result, some representations were made to the Commonwealth Government.
I notice that in the Adelaide “Advertiser” of the 11th May there is a report that the South Australian Premier, Sir Thomas Playford, was in Canberra on that date and, in addition to making representations about railways and the building of a pipeline in connexion with the deposits of natural gas discovered in the north of South Australia, he made representations about beef roads.
– We know very little about this.
– -That might be true. A question was asked by me. As Senator Toohey said, we know very little about this matter. It is true that some responsibility rests on the State Government. If the State wants assistance from its representatives in the Senate we should be told what it wants. Wc on the Opposition side have considered the needs of the pastoralists of the far north. We have recommended to our State members in South Australia that they should make sure that the report of the survey I have mentioned is made the subject of discussion in the South Australian Parliament. I think they have done this. In addition, they have made an intimate and special investigation of the area. I think that special consideration should be given to this matter.
I hope that as a result of the contributions made to this debate in the Senate to-night the Government might act. Whatever the State Premier might have said to the Government during this week should add weight to the consideration of this matter. The report made in 1960 is in my hands and it is a very thorough investigation of transport costs. It contains an estimate of what is necessary in this field. This project would give valuable assistance not only to South Australia and its economy but to the economy of Australia generally. 1 hope that, as a result of the comment made by senators to-night on both sides of the chamber, and the questions I have asked, the matter of beef roads in South Australia might be lifted from what Senator Toohey describes as a sort of mundane routine question and that it might be considered by the Government.
.- I rise to speak on the urgent position that has arisen in Tasmania concerning meat processing firms. I am in receipt of a telegram similar to that received by Senator Wright. The position is that the processors require provisional licences pending completion and approval of the modifications of their works. The telegram states that this work has already been completed except for details. I recently spoke to the managing director of a processing firm which is probably the biggest one of its kind on the north west coast of Tasmania. He told me that to bring his works up to the standard required - and they are new works or works that had been entirely renovated’ - was a comparatively small job and, in his opinion, would cost about £2,000. If that statement is true then it is only a minor addition that is required to bring the works up to standard. It seems to me that there has been some confusion in this particular case, if not between the management and the Department of Primary Industry then, at least, between the engineer engaged by the management and the Department of Primary Industry. The position, as represented to me, seems to be this: Plans were submitted by this firm of engineers in late March. These plans consisted of a schematic layout only of beef slaughter floor arrangements. These plans were returned to Somerset as inadequate. The story is that the plans were submitted again - I take if, by this firm of engineers - and again they were only a schematic outline. Then they were submitted on a third occasion and they were deficient in some detail. Whether it is the fault of the engineers engaged or the management of the works or the Department of Primary Industry, the result is that there seems to have been a lot of confusion in bringing these works up to the standard required-
This confusion seems to have been dragging on over a very long time in an endeavour to reach finality. I repeat that in this particular case, if all the facts are as stated to me, it seems that the amount of work necessary to bring these works into line is small indeed.
Primary production in the northern part of Tasmania is in a dire position these days. It has been going through a period of depression and I feel there is great urgency in rectifying what has taken place. I hope that the department will be able to expedite this matter by assisting these people who, according to this telegram, are already in the process of improving their works. I feel they should be granted a provisional licence until they satisfy departmental requirements. I hope the Minister will take notice of this matter because we who come from Tasmania realize the extreme urgency of the need for something definite to be done.
.- I enter this debate for the purpose of endorsing what has been said by Senators Wright and Lillico relating to the very confused situation that exists amongst the meat processing firms in Tasmania and the great shock they received when the date arrived when approval for the export of their processed products to the United States of America ceased. I have received a telegram from the Tasmanian Farmers Federation in which it is stated that some of the processors were never given the deadline date by which modifications to their works had to be completed. Their first notification was received on the 4th May when they were advised of the withdrawal of licences as from the 1st May. The telegram I have received concluded with the statement -
Consider Tasmanian meat producers shamefully treated by arbitrary withdrawal of market particularly in this fashion.
I feel obliged to support the note of urgency that has been presented to the Minister to have the fullest consideration given to this matter. I have been in touch with the Department of Primary Industry and it also is aware of the urgency of the situation but it, of course, is bound by the very strict regulations imposed b’y the authorities in the United States of America. The department is sending Mr. Fewster, the deputy chief veterinary officer of the department, to see each one of the processors and ascertain whether they need any advice from him. He will make a thorough on-the-spot inspection, and explain the causes of the change in the regulations and the issues involved with the American authorities. I have a copy of a letter that was sent to all the meat processors in Australia on 2nd October, 1963. The memorandum begins with this statement -
The meat inspection regulations of the United Stales Department of Agriculture set out the conditions under which foreign countries may become eligible to import meat and meat products into the United States of America.
Specific regulations were imposed on United Slates meat importers. The letter continues -
This circular has been prepared as a guide to managements of existing registered export meat establishments and the planners of new export abattoirs who may desire to obtain certification of their capital works as suitable to produce meat for export to the United States of America.
After a very comprehensive outline of the requirements, the letter concludes -
Although no fixed date is established for completion of necessary alterations, it is stressed that the American regulations are already in existence, and therefore the matter becomes one of urgency.
This document is of such interest that, with the concurrence of honorable senators, I incorporate it in “ Hansard “.
EXPORT OF MEAT TO NORTH AMERICA - STANDARD OF MEATWORKS.
The Meat Inspection Regulations of the United Stales Department of Agriculture set out the conditions under which foreign countries may become eligible to import meat and meat products into the U.S.A.
Amendments to these regulations were published in the U.S. Federal Register during May 1963, which -
The Meat Inspection Branch of the Department of Primary Industry has the approval of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It now becomes neces sary for the Chief Veterinary Officer as the responsible person of this service nominated by the U.S.D.A. to determine and certify specific establishments that comply with the requirements of the U.S. Authorities.
This circular has been prepared as a guide to managements of existing registered export meat establishments and the planners of new export abattoirs who may desire to obtain certification of their Works as suitable to produce meat for export to U.S.A.
It is desired also to confirm that the policy of the Department is to require that the standards accepted for preparation of meat for U.S.A. shall have equal application to products shipped to Canada.
The underlying principal behind any new conditions which are imposed on the production of meat for these destinations is an endeavour to eliminate all sources of soilage or contamination of the edible product during the various stages of treatment and handling. This may involve structural alterations to existing meatworks, provision of new or better equipment and changes in slaughtering techniques and inspection procedures.
All plants preparing meal for export will, within a reasonable period, be required to conform to the standards now being enforced in the U.S.A.
Instructions on changes in slaughtering practices and inspection procedures will be the subjects of further circulars which will be issued at a early date by this office.
It is intendedthat new meatworks seeking the registration of this Department be designed, erected and equipped in accordance with the provisions of Agriculture Handbook No. 191 issued by the Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.
It is recommended that architects, engineers and others interested in designing new abattoirs refer to this publication and also indicate, as far as possible, on plans, specifications, etc. where the facilities satisfy the standards set out in the Handbook.
Veterinary Officers in Charge will state in their reports to this office on plans of new premises or proposed alterations to existing establishments whether in their opinion, the proposal fulfills the U.S.D.A. requirements. Departures in some details but not in principle from these requirements may be accepted, but it is essential that the Department be supplied with full information on every proposal. The information provided should be adequate to enable the Department to obtain a clear appreciation of the project and to assess whether it would, in principle, meet U.S. demands.
Existing Registered Establishments.
It is imperativethat officers of this Department take appropriate action at ail existing registered meat establishments to ensure that the conditions under which meat is prepared for export are equivalent, in respect of sanitation, to those now operating in the U.S.A.
Works that are not now properly equipped or designed to accomplish this objective may possibly have to experience some reduction in the hourly rate of killing. Redesigning of such plants and the installation of more suitable equipment should rectify this problem.
Cloths, jute wipers and brushes of various types have been used at some meatworks for the removal of visible dirt and other contaminations from dressed carcases. Such soilage is usually the result of an inefficient dressing procedures or originates from unsatisfactory equipment. Permission will not be granted at any establishment for the use of cloths, wipers or brushes for the removal of dirt etc. from meat.
In the case of beef, soilagethat gets on to the carcase during dressing is to be removed by a knife by an employee of the establishment. With mutton or lamb, a wash by water under pressure will be permitted provided that the body cavities have not previously been opened. Soilage remaining on mutton or lamb carcases after this point is also to be trimmed off with a knife, again by an employee of the meatworks.
The Export (Meat) Regulations adequately cover the requirements for a satisfactory water supply. Operators of existing establishments could assist by arranging to have all water supplied to edible product departments tested for potability. Water that is not obtained from a recognised public water supply service will be subjected to early and frequent tests to ensure that the water is potable. General Building Requirements.
Some registered export meatworks, particularly those located in tropical and sub-tropical areas, have been designed to provide maximum ventilation on the slaughter floor. Appropriate measures will have to be taken at these works to ensure that flies and dust are eliminated from all edible product work areas.
Managements of the Works concerned should discuss with the Veterinary Officer in Charge in their State their proposal’s to overcome this type of shortcoming.
In order to gain certification it will be essential that adequate measures are provided at each establishment to prevent access of flies or dust to edible product sections.
The standards for equipment are fully covered in Handbook 19 1. Existing equipment should be checked to ascertain whether it complies with these standards.
Hand Washing Facilities and Sterilisers.
The installation of an adequate number of hand wash basins, towel dispensers, sawdips and knife sterilisers in the various departments of the meatworks is essential as an aid towards the preparation of clean meat.
Special Requirements in Livestock Holding Pens.
Attention is drawn to items 16 to 19 inclusive of the Sixth Schedule of the Export (Meal) Regulations. All pens or yards must be paved and drained.
Where drinking water is provided in a holding pen the trough overflow device is to be located over or adjacent to the floor drain in the pen.
It is intended that a more detailed ante-mortem inspection will be conducted in future on all classes of livestock submitted for slaughter. A squeeze pen or crush may have to be provided in the area now set aside under Regulation 19 (b) of the Sixth Schedule at those establishments registered for the slaughter of cattle.
The Exports (Meat) Regulations do not permit holding pens to be situated within thirty feet of any part of a main building on the premises including the slaughter floor. A full height wall or partition, erected with impervious material, may be required between the holding and shackling pens and the slaughtering department at some existing works to avoid the transfer of dust, odours or entry of flies into the dressing area.
Treatment of Viscera.
The methods employed at all works for the handling of viscera from the various classes of livestock slaughtered are unsatisfactory.
No viscera can be permitted either at time of evisceration or separation to come in contact with the floor or unsterilised equipment in the slaughtering section.
The edible offal packing area should be so located that the product can be transported from the slaughter floor without having to contact any carcase meat.
Inedible and Condemned Material.
It will be necessary at a number of works to re-arrange the facilities provided for handling inedible and condemned material from the slaughter floor. The department or departments in which this material is treated must be entirely separate from those used for edible products.
Cattle Slaughtering Section.
At the majority of works, cattle are subjected prior to slaughter, to a water bath or spray. There are a number of advantages to be gained from a continuance of this procedure. It is possible for some free moisture on the hide to contaminate the flesh of the carcase, particularly the headmeat, during the dressing operation. Should soilage from this wash become a problem at a particular works, some modification of existing practices will have to be implemented.
Dry Landing Area.
A low fence constructed of impervious material preferably round pipe is required around the dry landing area adjacent to the stunning box to prevent the entry of partially stunned animals onto the slaughter floor.
Animals must be bled out on a rail in an area so positioned that blood cannot splash over stunned animals in the dry landing area or onto carcasses that have had the hide partially or wholly removed.
A separate instruction will be issued outlining the full requirements for the preparation and handling of cattle heads. The instruction will describe new inspection procedures that are to be adopted at all works.
Briefly, it is proposed to institute a better system for identification of the head with the carcase; to require that all hide and horns arc removed and the external muscle surfaces and natural openings are thoroughly cleaned prior to inspection or cutting into any deep tissue; to examine each head for Cysticercus bovis in addition to the present inspection requirements and to ensure that all edible parts of the head are retained until a decision has been reached on the acceptability of the carcase and viscera for human consumption.
This will involve the provision of suitable facilities for dehorning, trimming, washing, flushing and inspection of heads. Equipment used during the process up to the point of inspection must be sterilised in water 180° F. before it is re-used.
Adequate floor space will be required for each of the above operations and for the storage of heads until the remainder of the carcase has been inspected.
Inspection of the head is to be completed before evisceration of the corresponding carcase.
BEEF CARCASE DRESSING.
” Bed “ and” On-the-Rail “ dressing is permitted.
Beef Bed Dressing System.
Sufficient space must be provided for the proper conduct of each operation without soilage or contamination of the carcase during the process.
The area on which the body is grounded must be clean and free from pools of water before the carcase is lowered. The skin is to be manipulated so that the tissues ofthe neck are protected from soilage.
Special care is necessary throughout the flaying operation to avoid contamination of the exposed parts of the carcase. It is repeated that any contamination to edible parts must be removed by trimming with a knife.
Lactating udders are to be removed at this stage in a manner that prevents soilage of the carcase with udder contents but the supramammary lymph node is to be left attached to the carcase.
Ties should be made -
Departures from this procedure will be permitted if soilage from these sources can be eliminated by other approved techniques. In the U.S.A., the practice of “ rodding “ is adopted in lieu of (e) above.
Suitable equipment is to be provided for the handling of edible viscera from the point where the viscera is removed from the carcase to the inspection area and then to the chutes or other separate facilities installed for reception of edible and inedible products.
The facilities for handling Inedible and condemned material must be arranged so that complete separation from edible product is assured.
If viscera trucks are used the trucks must be constructed of stainless steel and provide two pans, one for inspection of hearts, lungs, livers and spleen and the other for the paunches and intestine.
For inspection purposes the mesentery should be placed by the “ fronter out “ over the “ bible “ to expose the mesenteric lymph nodes.
A separately drained wash area, approximately 7 x 8’ is required for cleaning and sterilising viscera trucks. This area must be near the chute where condemned material is discharged from the trucks.
Separate hot and cold water lines are to be connected to the area. The hot water line must be capable of supplying sufficient water at a temperature of at least 180° F. for sterilisation of the trucks and other equipment. A dial type thermometer near the hose connection on the hot waterline is essential. This thermometer is to be of sufficient size and so placed as to be readily observed by the Inspector responsible for the examination of viscera.
Precautions must be taken to ensure that splash or drainage of waste water in this area cannot come in contact with edible product.
A supply of water at 180° F, or higher must be provided near the carcase splitting saw for sterilising this equipment when necessary.
No condemned carcase is to be sawn into sides. The saw is to be sterilised with water at at least 180° F. if it is used for the splitting of any carcase that has shown evidence of localised tuberculosis during inspection. “ On-the-Rail “ Dressing.
Similar precautions should be taken during the various dressing operations to avoid contamination or soilage of the carcase or edible parts.
If a flight lop moving viscera table is installed for inspection, the table top should be constructed of stainless steel and be of sufficient length and width for efficient evisceration, inspection and take-off of viscera.
Condemned and inedible viscera should pass directly off the end of the viscera table into a chute fitted with a hood of rust resistant metal and a vent pipe at least 10” in diameter which extends from the hood vertically to a point above the roof.
Viscera passed as fit for edible purposes must be taken off the viscera table prior to this point.
A compartment type flight washer and steriliser is to be installed at the proximal end of the viscera table. This washer is to be fitted with a rust resistant metal vent with a vent pipe at least 10” in diameter leading to a point outside the roof.
The flights are to be washed after each use with cold water then water heated to not less than 180° F., followed by a further application of cold water. A thermometer capable of being readily observed by the Inspector on the viscera table must be installed on the hot waterline fitted to this washing compartment.
The movement of the inspection table andthe carcase conveyor must be such that identification of the viscera with the corresponding carcase is assured.
A stop button for controlling the movement of the carcase conveyor and the viscera table must be provided at a point convenient to the Inspector responsible for viscera examination.
Drainage from the viscera table including waste water from the wash compartment must be prevented from flowing out over the other parts of the slaughter floor.
Where the “ fronters out “ work on the viscera table, provision must be made for sterilisation of boots and for the supply of special boots.
If the “ fronters out “ work off a platform the platform must be so located as not to come in contact with any portion of the dressed carcase or viscera. Open grate type platforms are not acceptable. In U.S.A. the “ eviscerators “ work on the moving viscera table.
Hand washing facilities, knife sterilisers and apron and boot sterilising cabinets are required for the “ fronters out “.
At least one inspection pan should be attached to the side of the viscera table near the inspection work area for holding sets of retained viscera which may require a more detailed examination on special examination by a Veterinary Officer.
Metal foot platforms are to be installed for Works’ employees and inspection staff. Wooden platforms or metal platforms on wooden frames arc not acceptable.
Stationary platforms are to be placed away from the line of the dressing rail and be so constructed that no portion comes in contact with any part of the dressed carcase.
The hide chute should be located at a point near where the hides are removed from the carcase. The chute is to be provided with a hood of rust resistant metal to which is fitted a push-in metal flap hinged so that the flap is self-closing. A vent pipe at least 10” diameter should extend from the hood vertically to a point above the roof.
The dragging of hides unnecessarily over the slaughter floor after removal from the carcase is to be avoided. Hides must not be permitted to come in contact with any part of a dressed carcase.
Regulation 29, Sixth Schedule, Exports (Meat) Regulations require a room, or separate part of the premises, to be set aside for the opening of paunches. The regulation is drawn to the attention of managements of registered export establishments. This provision will be enforced as it is considered to be an essential adjunct towards the attainment of clean meat. The paunch opening and washing facilities at most works are not satisfactory.
Dressing of Sheep and Lambs.
Modification of the existing slaughtering practices and inspection procedures are necessary to provide for inspection of viscera and heads in association with the carcase.
The system of solo dressing cannot be accepted without major changes in the procedure because of the difficulty of arranging a complete inspection of the various parts.
With the conveyor chain dressing systems, it will be necessary to install a moving viscera inspection table, or some other acceptable equipment for presenting the viscera of each animal for inspection with the corresponding carcase.
Changes in the washing techniques are also necessary. The carcase is not to be opened until after it has been washed unless the system of dressing is such that no soilage occurs when the pelts are being removed.
Following washing, the carcase is to be eviscerated on to a stainless steel moving flight-top, or pan type inspection table.
This will require the lifting of existing rail heights at a number of export establishments.
Immediately following the viscera inspection point, the Department will employ an Inspector or Inspectors to examine the carcase for acceptability for human consumption.
The heads and associated parts are to be retained and be capable of identification up to this stage with the carcase. Once a decision has been made on carcase disposition, the head, tongue and viscera may be released for further treatment.
The sterilising equipment on the viscera inspection table must comply with the principles laid down for a beef viscera inspection table.
Where the rails have been raised for convenience of evisceration, it is recommended that the extra height be maintaintained until the final inspection point.
Chutes for inedible material on the mutton floor are to be hooded and equipped with a vent as for beef inedible products.
Extra viscera pans and a short retained carcase rail are to be provided for holding carcases and viscera that require more detailed Inspection by a Veterinary Officer.
The principles already outlined for mutton and lamb are to apply to calf dressed on the “ chain “.
The stunning, hoisting, sticking, bleeding, scalding, dehairing and singeing of pigs are to be carried out in an area or areas completely separated from the room used for the dressing of any carcase meat intended for export to U.S.A.
Where an establishment is concerned only with the treatment of pigs, no immediate changes will be required. If however, it is desired to export pig ment to U.S.A., then the full requirements of Handbook 191 will be enforced.
It is proposed to amend the Exports (Meat) Regulations to requirethat rooms used for the boning or packing of meat shall be maintained at a temperature of not higher than 50° F.
Chillers and Freezers.
U.S.D.A. inspection procedures involve the use of lock up retention orders in chillers and freezers.
A final decision has not been reached on the use of similar retained meat areas in Australia under our existing inspection system.
Should it become necessary to insist on the provision of these areas no major structural problem is anticipated.
Submission of Plans.
The management of registered establishments that do not comply in certain respects with the requirements of the Meat Inspection Regulations of the U.S.D.A., are advised to submit detailed plans and specifications of proposed alterations to the Veterinary Officer in Charge in their State at the earliest convenient date.
Although no fixed dateis established for completion of necessary alterations, it is stressed that the American regulations are already in existence, and therefore the matter becomes one of urgency.
This Department will expect definite evidence of progress when premises come up for re-registration on January 1st, 1964, and will do all in its power to expedite approval of plans and specifications.
It is the intention of the Meat Inspection Division of U.S.D.A. to keep itself informed of developments through its Embassy in Australia, and it will be appreciated that visits from senior U.S. veterinarians can legally be made al any time.
The M.I.D. are fully aware of our problems, and have given, and will continue to give, as much assistance as they can in overcoming them.
A further letter, dated 28th April, was circulated by the Department of Primary Industry to all the producers, pointing out that the exporters had already been advised through their organizations that the United States Department of Agriculture had notified countries exporting meat to the United States that it would publish before 1st June, 1964, a list of establishments in overseas countries that had been certified by their governments as meeting the standards required. The Department of Primary Industry evidently is obliged to carry out these instructions from the United States. Its circular letter concludes -
Complete and strict adherence to the procedures set out in this circular is essential if hold-ups are not to occur when meat shipments arrive in North America. We have been warned that importation will be unavoidably delayed if shipments arrive from works not on the announced list.
This is a very unfortunate situation, in view of the time element and the inability of meat processors to grasp the situation in the time available between October, 1963, and 1st May, 1964. Tasmanian representatives stress the very serious financial position in which, I believe, meat processors are placed because they failed to grasp the urgency of the situation. I feel quite certain that they will carry out the required alterations as quickly as possible and raise the standards of their buildings and processing equipment to that which is required by the United States authorities. This should permit resumption of the export of Australian beef to this very lucrative market. I believe that quite a lot can be done by on-the-spot contact, and that when Mr. Fewster goes to Tasmania he will have a good look at the situation and will furnish a prompt and accurate survey to his department and, in particular, to his Minister.
– The buyers will not take the product unless it conforms with certain standards. What is the use of proceeding if the buyer will not lake it?
– That is not the issue. I was under the same impression, that it was a matter of inspection of meat. That is not so. It is a matter of requirements for United States inspected meat packing plants, in relation to killing works.. The old-fashioned type of boning-out tables constructed of wood and containing little crevices are not acceptable, because the crevices may harbour infection. It is necessary to have laminex tables which are completely hygienic. Wash basins or lavatories are not allowed anywhere near the works.
– How could an importer take delivery in New York if the product was not allowed to be landed?
– That is the point. After a certain date, meat which does not comply with the requirements will not be taken. We cannot do much about what has happened in the United States. Even so, our own regulations in relation to the export of meat prescribed practically the same conditions for abattoirs and meat processing works as the United States regulations for United States inspected meat packing plants. It seems as though we are in a quandary as to what should be done. There is a lot of confusion. The man for whom I feel very sympathetic is the meat processor, particularly in Tasmania, who suddenly finds that 80 per cent, of his sales potential, which relates to meat going to the United States, is cut off. I hope that the department will take the promptest and most efficacious action to try to relieve the situation.
– I enter the debate on the aspect that has been raised in relation to the blow that has come to Tasmanian meat works with the refusal to renew licences to export meat to America until works have been brought up to the standard that has been laid down by the American authorities. I understand that it was advised some twelve months ago that this standard would be applied by the American authorities to imports of meat arriving after 1st June, 1964. This was a protection for those meatworks, because if they sent meat without having a licence and without having brought their works up to the standard demanded by the American authorities, their meat would be rejected on arrival in America.
As I understand the position, the American authorities have not asked Australian meat works to bring their premises up to any standard higher than that which is demanded of slaughtering and processing premises in the United States. The American authorities are not asking any more than this. I have personally contacted all the works in Tasmania. As I understand it, they have had some difficulty in completing all of the work necessary to bring their premises up to the required standard. Senator O’Byrne said that he was sorry for the meat processors, but at least they had almost twelve months notice of this requirement.
– What will be the cost in Tasmania and what is the value of the meat exports from these works?
– If the honorable senator will allow me to finish my speech, I shall answer him a little later. The people for whom I am sorry are the Tasmanian primary producers, who were under the impression that the meatworks had taken steps to bring their premises up to standard. The primary producers knew full well for many months that this arrangement was on the board, and I have been informed from Tasmania that they were under the impression that the meat works had been brought un to the required standard. What has happened has come as a shock to them. The market for beef in Tasmania has been depressed because the producers are unable to supply the American market until such time as the meat works are brought up to the required standard. I understand that only one process works in Tasmania has been brought up to that standard. Naturally, it cannot handle all the stock. In any case, it is not a public authority.
The Launceston City Council, which controls the abattoirs in Launceston, has informed me that it is on the way to getting its plant improved and is bringing its works up to the necessary- standard. The boning room and so forth of one of the meat processors in Tasmania complies with the required standards, but his stock is slaughtered at a public slaughter house. The Ci,v of Launceston, which owns the slaughter house, has not brought its works un to the desired standard. I understand that two of the meat works on the north-west coast have done some of the work that is necessary to attain the required standard and that they intend to proceed with their efforts.
I cannot accept any suggestion that a blunt and arbitrary decision has been made in the case of Tasmania. The standard sought is insisted upon throughout Australia. For almost twelve months the meat works have known that certain requirements would have to be met. They were sent a booklet which described what the American authorities wanted. 1 think their interpretation of those requirements has put them in some difficulty. I understand that they have consulted the Department of Primary Industry, but as yet they have not been able to comprehend fully what they must do.
Early this week I contacted the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) and he informed me that he would send a top level officer to Tasmania immediately to investigate the position, to see what had not been done by each of the works, and to ascertain what they still had to do to satisfy the requirements. The Minister was very sympathetic. He arranges for the American authorities to accept meat that had been processed and which was awaiting shipment. That was a great help to the industry in Tasmania. However, the producers in Tasmania have lost the competition of at least six meat works at the public sale yards, because those works cannot buy stock to send to the lucrative United States market. Those works are still able to export to other countries. The Tasmanian standards are high, but the Americans demand a certain standard of their own meat works and they ask exporters in Australia and all other exporting countries to bring their works up to the same standard. That is something which we in Australia do to ensure that we import the best possible product. The loss of competition from six meat works has been a blow to the Tasmanian producers, and I know that all Tasmanian members of the Parliament want to see that competition restored at the first possible opportunity.
The American authorities have set 1st June as D-day. Any stock purchased and processed now could not reach America by 1st June. After that date, if the meat is not accompanied by a certificate that it has been slaughtered and processed in works which satisfy the American standards, it will be rejected by the American authorities. This is not something which the Department of Primary Industry has done of its own accord. The department is merely carrying out the requirements of the American authorities and is telling the exporters that, if they wish to continue to enjoy this trade, they must bring their works up to the required standard.
I am sure that the Minister for Primary Industry, his department, the Government and all Tasmanian members of the Parliament wi 11 do everything they can to ensure that the licences are restored at the first possible opportunity. I am sure that the top-level officer who is visiting Tasmania now at the instigation of the Minister for Primary Industry will advise the exporters on what the’y must do to regain their licences and to restore the benefits of competition to the producers. The producers are suffering more than anybody else. Certainly the processors are suffering, because their American trade has been cut off. However, they may still trade to Great Britain and other countries; they have retained some of their business. But because of the lack of competition the prices of stock sold by the producers have dropped. The sooner that competition can be restored the better.
.- The matters which have been raised by honorable senators from Tasmania are of very great concern to the Government, the Parliament, the primary producers of Tasmania and, indeed, all responsible people who have a lively interest in the development of this great industry and who appreciate the value of the American market. A telegram has been placed before us for consideration, but I should like to inform the Senate that at this point of time the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) has not received a copy of it. The telegram we have before us indicates that one was sent to the Minister either before or after ours was sent, but I repeat that as yet he has not received his. Therefore, I am somewhat at a loss to reply adequately.
The charge that has been levelled against the Department of Primary Industry simply is unfounded. I have recited to the Senate recently the history of what has been undertaken by the department. I repeat that it is wrong to lay the blame at the door of the Department of Primary Industry. I did not take the word of the Department of Primary Industry or anybody else for what had happened. I asked for a report on each of the works in question. Whilst I am not an authority in this field and have no specific knowledge of the requirements of each works, I have before me sufficient evidence to be able to say that each of the works in question must accept its share of responsibility. Let nobody ask me to name the works involved. I do not intend to stand up in the Parliament of the land and say that Bill Smith has fallen down on the job because he has not fulfilled certain requirements. The files indicate that these people have to accept a great deal of responsibility. Attempts to lay the responsibility at somebody else’s door does not solve the problem, as we are trying to solve it at the present time. It is futile to emphasize and to labour the question of where the blame belongs. The problem that faces us is: How do we resolve this difficulty? How do we get these killing works operating? How do we restore to the primary producer markets to which he is so much entitled? It is claimed in the telegram that the first notification given to the works was on 4th May.
– This year?
– This year. I suggest that when a man of standing sends you an official document it is open to challenge. It has to be tested, and if it is factual you accept it. If it falls down in one regard, the whole document is suspect. To say that there was no notification given until 4th May - I hope I am stating the date correctly - is a very serious allegation to lay at the door of the Department of Primary Industry.
I shall recount briefly what the department has done, in addition to the recitation of the facts that I gave only yesterday. So valuable is this trade to Australia that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) sent no less a person than the head of his department to the United States of America on two occasions to discuss the requirements of the American authorities and to find out to the last detail what Australia had to do to retain the market. When the head of the department returned in December after his first visit he called together the advisory committee which was formed on 1 8th July, 1963. The advisory committee consisted of representatives of the Australian Meat Exporters Federal Council, and of the Country Meatworks Associations of New South Wales and Victoria, and the secretary of the association of Australian abattoirs. He told them personally that they had a deadline of six months, that being the maximum period that could bc secured for continuation of the present system. That information was conveyed to the advisory committee in the middle of December. If anybody wants to check the veracity of what I say concerning the date on which the individual works made their first official approach for approval of the plants, it can be ascertained from the files. It is so easy to kick the other fellow who is not within hearing distance when a crisis arises. I say again that we want to resolve the crisis, not to determine where the blame lies.
The Senate should note that the Government has done its utmost to meet the needs of the people concerned. It has been suggested in the telegram that the Government issue provisional licences. I suggest to the Senate in all seriousness that the Government has no option in this regard. The American people have made it abundantly clear that they will not accept after 1st June meat which is despatched from killing works that do not comply with the regulations that they set down when they amended their regulations on 6th May, 1963. It is as simple as that. What is even more significant is that the American authorities have made it quite plain to all exporting countries that they reserve the right to inspect exporting killing works without notice. People who ask this Government to issue licences to works that do not comply with the requirements of the American importing authorities actually are holding the whole of the export meat trade of this country to ransom. Will anybody stand up and say, “ You should issue a licence to works that do not comply with the regulations, knowing full well that the buying authority concerned has made it known to you that it will inspect the works without notice “. If the Government, which acts on behalf of the American Government in this regard, were to do that, its word would be of no value. What would be the fate of the meat industry of this country if that happened?
As I said earlier in the reply that I made, this is a serious situation that nobody wants to see maintained. I said yesterday, when answering a question, that the Minister for Primary Industry was determined lo do all that he could in this regard. As proof of that, I ask the Senate to note that on Monday he is sending to Tasmania his deputy chief veterinary officer to meet these people and, as speedily as is humanly possible, to resolve this position.
I suggest to my friends from Tasmania, who arc so vitally interested in this matter, that the greatest service they can do the producers of Tasmania is to go to the export killing works and say, “ Is there anything we can do to help you to have your works comply with the standards laid down? “
_On Tuesday last the Senate took note of the statement by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir William Spooner), and in doing so implicitly accepted the decision that from 1964-65 onwards the contents of the Appropriation Bill and the Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill will be amalgamated, subject to the separation out and inclusion in separate measures of any particular items which, as a matter of interpretation, do not fall within the description of appropriations for the “ ordinary annual services of the Government “. I take it to be the understanding of honorable senators - and some of the implications of this decision were discussed on Tuesday night - that by that time the interim bills, which are now before us and had already been then prepared and, I think, introduced into another place that the Government cannot bc expected to honour the decision in its full implications as honorable senators might understand them in relation to these particular bills before the Senate.
– Would not the other place have a responsibility to honour that?
– As I understand it, the decision concerns the period from 1964-65 onwards, and it would be expected that in the next Budget session one would see in the bills which come into this chamber a separation along the lines of the strict constitutional criterion which has been decided upon. In om bill there will be appropriation for the ordinary annual services of the Government and there will be included in another bill or bills all items which do not fall into that category. This is an exceptional situation because although this bill which is presently before us purports to be one fo>- the “ ordinary annual services of the Government “, there are many other items contained in it. One does not know whether those items constitute the bulk of the money appropriated by the bill, but some of them would not fall within the description of ordinary annual services of the Government. Only because we are discreetly overlooking that on this occasion is there a debate at this stage.
This is a matter which concerns not merely the Senate. There has been a great deal of discussion about the Senate’s powers and how they may be affected. It seems to me that this is a matter that concerns the other House as well - the Parliament as a whole. If there is to be a separation of the ordinary annual services of the Government and other matters, it means that there must be included in one bill those matters which are ordinary annual services of the Government and nothing else. Both Houses can examine that. It is of great assistance to both Houses if they can see what is happening with the ordinary annual services of the Government - how they are moving in cost, how they are moving in structure, and so on. They could be looked at as one matter. It is very important to have the ordinary annual services of the Government isolated. It is also very important to have isolated, for the purposes of both Houses and of the general public, those matters which are not the ordinary annual services of the Government, so that one may be able to see clearly what in one year is to be done which is not ordinary, or to see afterwards what has been done in a year which is not ordinary, which is not annual or which does not otherwise come within that concept.
It may seem to honorable senators, as it docs to me, that there are a number of matters which ought to be looked at in the future separation of these bills. I should think that there has been a failure in this instance on the part of the Government in the application of this important criterion. It seems to me that this failure has arisen in a very simple way. When one looks at the decision of the Government contained in the statement of Senator Sir William Spooner, one sees that the decision was that both bills be amalgamated, subject to the separation out and inclusion in separate measures of any particular items which, as a matter of interpretation, did not fall within the description of ordinary annual services of the Government. The decision was not one to put the works and services items in the Appropriation Bill, subject to the exclusion only of any works and services items which did not fall within the description of ordinary annual services of the Government. This was a completely new criterion, and it was to be expected that there would be many items which previously appeared in the ordinary Appropriation Bill which should no longer be there.
Previously there was a practical solution. For 60 years one said, “ Here is the Appropriation Bill and hers is the Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill “. If one breaks away from that and follows the strict constitutional requirements, one must look not merely at the Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill; one must look also at the Appropriation Bill. It seems to me that the failure to do that is the obvious reason why we get to the situation, which was opened up by Senator Wright earlier, that we have one bill now before, us, purporting to concern only the ordinary annual services of the Government and appropriating a sum of the order of £400,000,000, and another bill purporting to deal with other matters of the value of £1,000,000. This is enough to cause any one to say, “ Something is wrong here “. It seems to me that that is what is wrong. Some one thought that one only had to take out of the amalgamation the works and services items which should not be in the appropriation for the ordinary annual services of the Government, but that would not do at all. That is not what the criterion is. This is not a proper division and it is not what was undertaken to be done by Senator Sir William Spooner. I do not say that he is at fault in this matter.
– The Government is not dishonest; it is just incompetent. Is that the idea?
– I will not accede to that, because we must be fair. If these things were to be brought before both Houses, and the Senate in particular, for discussion, it might be that as a result of the discussion the Government would alter the view which it has taken. I think it is true to say that no attempt was made to separate out from the ordinary annual services bill any of those matters which previously appeared in the Appropriation Bill. I may be wrong in that, but superficially that seems to me to be the position. One cannot fairly accuse the Government of dishonest separation, because I do not think it was conceived that there ought to be such a separation. When one commences to look for the matters which ought to be separated out - matters which are not ordinary annual services of the Government - there are obviously a number of items which are questionable and some which, beyond question, ought not to be included in the bill for the ordinary annual services of the Government.
It is perhaps appropriate to consider this matter not merely in the light of the bill presently before the Senate but in the light of what will be done with appropriation bills in the future. On Tuesday, night one of the items mentioned concerned the Parliament. It was suggested that at the very least that was an item which was questionable. To my mind, it is beyond question an item which should not be included in the ordinary annual services appropriation bill. If one looks at the bill before the Senate, one sees that there is provision for the payment of salaries and administrative expenses connected with the Senate, the House of Representatives and even the Joint Committee of Public Accounts. It may be that some specious argument can be put forward to justify these being included as part of the ordinary annual services of the Government. I understand it to be suggested by some that it may bc said that they are services of the Government, rendered to the Parliament. This really will not do. This is only quibbling with words. It is not in accordance with the constitutional position.
The officers and staff of the Parliament are not officers and staff of the Government. These persons are responsible to the Parliament. Procedures may have been adopted and there may be definitions in acts which treat them differently, but that no more alters the true position than does the description of senators and members as employees in the Income Tax and Social Services Assessment Contribution Act. I do not know how it came about at some previous time that such a definition got into the act in relation to senators and members, but sometimes these things happen. What has happened does not alter the position. Members and senators are not employees of any one. Certainly they are not employees of the Government. Neither are the officers of this Parliament employees of the Government. They are officers and staff of the Parliament, and the sooner the position is regularized the better. If there needs to be an amendment of procedures, regulations, or even of an act, the sooner the amendment is made the better so that the position can be clarified.
I leave that aspect and turn to what appears normally in an appropriation bill. In the last act - the one which was passed during the last session - Parliament was treated as a department. I have no need to reiterate how extraordinary it is for the Parliament of this Commonwealth to be described as a department of the Government. Members’ sessional travelling allowances appear as one item. The expenses of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference are included also. There are all sorts of items concerned with the operation of Parliament itself, but it is quite inconsistent with the separation of powers and the supremacy of the Parliament, to treat the provisions made for the Parliament by the Parliament as being an ordinary annual service of the Government.
I could mention other matters but I do not propose to deal with them in detail or to express any unalterable opinion on them. It would appear that a considerable number of matters ought to be reconsidered in the future. There are the whole of the provisions in relation to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. There are matters connected with the Department of External Affairs other than salaries and the payment of ordinary administrative expenses. It would appear that, included in the bill, are all sorts of payments to various bodies. They are payments made by appropriation by this Parliament but it is not easy to regard them as being in any way ordinary annual services of the Government. They are not the type of payments that were intended to be comprehended under that description. It is a description which is apposite in general to to the ordinary administrative expenses of departments of State. Those are the types of things which were intended, in particular, to be excluded by the criterion from the term “ ordinary annual services “. All sorts of other matters which are included should not, I would think, on the face of them, be included at all.
Then there are items in connexion with the Department of National Development. lt is questionable whether the large provision for subsidies for the search for oil should be regarded as an ordinary annual service of the Government. Payments of money are made under the authority of Parliament but that does not mean that they are ordinary annual services of the Government. There are all sorts of other items. Many items included in the Prime Minister’s Department - not only in this interim bill but also in other appropriation bills which have been passed - would seem obviously not to have been items which have to do with the ordinary annual services of the Government. In fact, the items are sometimes described in such a way as to suggest that they clearly do not come within that category. Special grants have been made to assist certain bodies. No one would take objection to those payments but they are not ordinary annual services of the Government. They are the kind of payments which ought to be dealt with in another bill where it can be demonstrated that they are something in addition to the ordinary annual services of the Government. Honorable senators and honorable members should be able to consider them.
– What does the word “ service “ mean? Is not that the nub of this problem?
– I do not think it is the nub of the problem at all. I think the error in the past has come about by not considering all of the words concerned. The services must not be merely services but they must be ordinary and annual. You have services which are not ordinary at all. One cannot always say just what those services are. Can it be said that a large payment is in respect of an ordinary annual service just because an act of Parliament has provided that the payment shall be made? The Parliament might decide to pay a certain amount to the State of New South Wales under the provisions of section 96 of the Constitution. Is that an ordinary annual service of the Government?
– I find that I cannot think clearly on this matter until I understand what the word “ service “ means. When you define “ service “, then you can go to the next step and ask whether they are ordinary or extraordinary.
– Yes. Some assistance has been given to the understanding of this concept in the commentary on the Constitution which has been referred to already. Quick and Garran seem to regard ordinary annual services as those dealing with expenditure necessary for the maintenance of the ordinary administrative departments of the Commonwealth. Those services would cover matters of salary, the maintenance of works, and, perhaps, as has been said, the erection of various buildings provided that they did not go outside the notion of ordinary. Once you get something that is not quite ordinary you fall outside of that concept. The Government has to be able to run its business and maintain its departments. That involves the ordinary annual services of the Government. They cannot be interfered with by way of amendment by the Senate.
What has happened, of course, is that over the years, as Senator Sir William Spooner correctly pointed out, there was a complete departure from this constitutional criterion. Instead, we went blithely on saying, “ Well, here is a new works and other services bill involving capital expenditure “. Those are virtually the only things kept out of the Appropriation Bill. So, the Appropriation Bill continued each year to deal with appropriation which was ordinary or not ordinary, which was annual or not annual or which were services or grants or anything you like for the Government, the Parliament or anything else. There was no attempt at all to keep to this criterion.
It seems that there has to be a completely new look at the whole matter. I say, subject to correction, that it seems to have been regarded as a matter merely of looking at the previous capital works bill and taking out and separating the items into ones which might be described as ordinary annual services and ones which were not, and lumping the first category together with the whole of what formerly constituted the appropriation bill. It will mean that there ought to be a very careful consideration of the various items. It is a great task upon which the Government has entered. There seems no doubt that what has been presented on this occasion does not conform fairly, reasonably or at all with the decision which was announced by the Leader of the Government in the Senate on Tuesday last.
I would say that honorable senators are indebted to Senator Cormack for his insight into the problem which faced the Senate when he moved in a direction which was found to be acceptable to all senators, Opposition as well as Government, and to the Ministers themselves in leaving this position to be determined in the future so that we may, in the next session, and in future years, have the application of this criterion which will meet the undertaking made by the Minister that there would be a fair division. If that is not done, there will be an unseemly, undignified and improper departure from the requirements of the Constitution which not only will reflect on the Government and on those who prepare these bills for introduction to the Parliament but also in the long run cut down the effective supervision of these important measures not only by the Senate but also by the House of Representatives.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
[10.5]. - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
In a statement last week on appropriation measures 1 acquainted honorable senators with a recent decision of the Government to amalgamate the contents of the Appropriation Bill and Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill, subject to the separation out and inclusion in separate measures of any particular items which, as a matter of interpretation, do not fall within the description of appropriations for the “ ordinary annual services of the Government “. A similar amalgamation has been made of the two supply bills formerly presented to the Parliament. Honorable senators will also note another change in the form of this bill. In future the Repatriation Department will appear within the departmental group which will appear, generally, in alphabetical order. The remaining expenditure of the war and repatriation group will be included under the relative controlling department. For instance the War Service Homes Division will be shown under the Department of Housing and the Australian War Memorial under the Department of the Interior. The Joint Committee of Public Accounts has agreed to this change. I consider that it will further assist honorable senators in their consideration of appropriation measures.
The purpose of this bill is to seek a propriations of £423,704,000 to carry on the normal services of Government during the first five months of 1964-65. The total sought comprises -
In general, these amounts represent approximately five-twelfths of the 1963-64 appropriations, with the exception of those items covered by programmes to ensure the orderly continuation of works services, including the day-to-day purchases of plant and equipment. However, the amount of £126,382,000 for defence services makes provision for any necessary new services and also for large contractual payments due in the first five months of the financial year. An amount of £16,000,000 is sought for an advance to the Treasurer to make advances which will be recovered within the financial year, and to make moneys available to meet expenditure on ordinary annual services of the Government, particulars of which will afterwards be submitted to Parliament.
I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second lime.
Clauses I and 2 agreed to.
Clause 3 (Issue, application and appropriation of £423,704,000).
.- I consider that this clause should be postponed until after the schedule has been considered. Obviously the clause cannot be intelligently dealt with until the schedule itself has been discussed department by department, if necessary.
Thai clause 3 bc postponed until after consideration of The Schedule.
.- I move -
Thai the abstract bc postponed. 1 move for a postponement because this is a summary of the matters in the actual Schedule to the bill.
Proposed expenditures - Parliament, £^87.000; Attorney-General’s Department, £1.417,000; Department of Civil Aviation, £7.722,000- agreed to.
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization.
Proposed expenditure, £6,171,000.
– I would bc grateful to have some information from the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir William Spooner) on Division 150, Sub-division 3, “Item 05 - Scientific Computing Equipment. £1.500.000”. I take the point that has been canvassed in the Senate this week and that has been mentioned by Senator Murphy to-night. We have to consider whether this matter comes under the heading of ordinary annual services of government. It seems to me that scientific computing equipment worth £1,500,000 is not ordinary equipment in the service of the Government, and I do not suppose thai it will be an annual service of the Government. I would be grateful if the Minister would elaborate this item.
Senator Sir WILLIAM SPOONER (New South Wales - Vice-President of the Executive Council and Minister for National
Development) [10.13]. - I understand that this equipment was bought under contract last July through the ordinary tendering procedures for machinery requirements, presumably of the Department of Supply. Senator Cormack has asked me whether this is classified as an ordinary annual service of the Government or whether it comes within the category of non-recurring items. Earlier, I tried to get Senator Murphy to give a definition of services. I listened with great interest to Senator Wright on this matter and found that he did not commit himself to a definition.
– Webster’s Dictionary has 24 definitions for the word “ service “.
Yes. It is not only a matter of the meaning of the word “ service “ but of the meaning of the term “ ordinary annual service “. I say quite frankly that this is the rock on which we have to build a foundation. I should be grateful to honorable senators if they put supply through to give us a chance to do some re-thinking on this matter. I have my legal adviser alongside me and he may not go along with me completely in what I am saying. But I believe we have to do some re-thinking in the light of the new procedures that have already been discussed in this chamber. Not only must there be re-thinking on a legal basis but there also must be agreement between the two Houses of the Parliament.
I always have had great respect for the law. and I think the law comes out with the right answer in the long run. But the right answer comes out as the result of a contest. In this circumstance, one takes legal advice from two different points of view but there is no court to decide the issue, lt has to bc decided in some practical way between the two Houses of the Parliament.
If Senator Cormack asks me whether Scientific computing equipment worth £1,500,000 is an ordinary annual service of the Government, as a Minister of the Crown 1 say, “ Undoubtedly, yes “. This is a government appropriation at this stage. If a similar item is put in a different category in September and I am still then a Minister of the Crown, I may say, “ Undoubtedly, no “ in reply to the same question. The question is: How do we define this phrase in the Constitution in terms that are compatible to both the Houses of Parliament?
May I say here that there was a good deal of heated debate in this chamber on Tuesday and I regret that, at one stage in the debate, I said something which could be interpreted to mean that my colleagues did not understand the issue. We all say things in debate - or most of us do - and wish afterwards that we had not said them. I should like to withdraw the imputation that might be construed from my remarks on Tuesday.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Proposed expenditures - Department of Customs and Excise, £2,555,000; Department of External Affairs, £5,723,000; Department of Health, £1,649,000- agreed to.
Department of Housing.
Proposed expenditure - £16,443,000.
– I should like an explanation of Division No. 265. Sub-Division 3, Works and Services. “ Item 01 - Provision for homes (for payment to the credit of the War Service Homes Trust Account). £15,500,000 “. The Minister for National Development (Senator Sir William Spooner) said in his secondreading speech that this item had been transferred from1 the Department of National Development to the new Department of Housing, but when it appeared before under the Department of National Development it. appeared in the Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill. Why has it been transferred?
– There are two sides to every coin. Senator Cormack asked me why an item had been put into the bill Now Senator Wedgwood has asked une a similar question from’ a different angle - why has an item been taken from one bill and put into another? This item has been taken out of the Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill and put into this bill for the. same reason that other items have been treated similarly.
Honorable senators will note that anything in the old works and services measure which is now in the new bill made provision for expenditure on ordinary annual services of the Government. The view of the Government’s advisers is that the amount of £35,000,000 a year which is expended on or invested in war service homes is an amount that the Government has to pay in the terms of legislation and is payment for the ordinary annual services of the Government. There is nothing unusual in that payment that takes it out of the category of being a commitment or an obligation which the Government has to meet each year in the ordinary services of the Government. This is the point of the argument. I hope I shall not be called upon to give the reasons because I am not fitted to do so.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Proposed expenditures - Department of Immigration, £5,674,000; Department of the Interior, £3,983,000; Department of Labour and National Service, £1,313,000 - agreed to.
Department of National Development.
Proposed expenditure, £16,443,000.
– I would like some advice on Division No. 352, which relates to an expenditure of £4,875,000 on the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority. On this matter, I referred back to the bill of 1963-64 for the purpose of making a grant out of the Consolidation Revenue Fund for additions, new works and other services involving capital expenditure. In that bill a sum of £4,605,000 was provided for the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. Under the new bill the grant for the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority is regarded as annual works and services. This cannot be considered as annual expenditure. I would like to know why this expenditure has been treated in this way. This is the kind of matter in respect of which the Senate has expressed the opinion that its rights should be preserved.
.- I rise to discuss this same item because if any item in the schedule illustrates what is not an ordinary annual service of the Government then this is it. The Snowy mountains scheme would be the most extraordinary project undertaken by the Commonwealth Government in Australia. It does not become an ordinary project because it is taking a number of years to complete. Because the instalments that finance it necessarily occupy a period of years and a vote for it takes place in the Budget year after year, that does not make it an annual service of the Government.
In regard to the word “ service “, I suggest that this is an expression not of lawyers but of the constitutionalists - the great parliamentarians, including some lawyers who have played a leading part. Not only in this Government and in this generation, but in previous eras, lawyers have played a leading part as parliamentarians. I exclude myself.
When the House of Commons first imposed a control over finance I suggest that one thing it did do was to insist upon annually re-authorizing the Army vote and the Navy vote. But it dealt with the Army vote with greater caution. It did this because after the civil war it feared a standing army, lt was the military services vote that was re-authorized annually from the beginning. As distinct from that, the list of expenditure voted to the Crown was not an annual vote. This was in the civil list and the expenditure was completely at the discretion of the Sovereign who sometimes took the advice of the Privy Council.
I suggest it was not until the reign of George 111. that the Commons insisted upon the civil list being detailed as it required the military services vote to be detailed. The Commons required that because of the growing corruption and misappropriation of the civil list for purposes not intended by Parliament. By 1846 the Commons, 1 submit, reached the situation where the civil list was no longer granted to the Sovereign for the term of his reign but had become the subject of an annual vote. By that time the Commons had established an itemized appropriation specifying the actual purpose of each item. It made law, I believe, that any departure on the part of the spenders from the true purpose of the items written in the bill was misappropriation and a grave offence. The Commons was armed with an omnibus budget, detailed in order to ensure integrity of expenditure. It did this, having established annual control over the civil list and the military list and, therefore, over the military services and the civil services. In other words, it gained control over what might be called the public service. It put this budget up to the House of Lords year by year and said, “ Reject it at your peril “, and then employed the device of tacking.
The founding fathers of our federation were well aware of all this. I submit that when they said that the Senate - which is not an hereditary chamber but a directly elected chamber whose members are elected on adult suffrage - should hold the line on behalf of the States, they said that it should be deprived of the power to amend an appropriation bill but only such bills as incorporated items for the ordinary annual services of the Government. By doing that they sought to preserve the system that an appropriation bill for the ordinary annual services of the Government should contain nothing other than items of appropriation for that purpose. The provision was put there particularly to protect us against the challenge which was properly levelled against an hereditary chamber and which the founders of our Constitution foresaw that this chamber - it if were worthy of its electors - should never submit to. That conveys, I should think, in the light of 1900. the Constitution’s conception of the services of the Government. Such thought as I have been able to give to the matter during this week - it was thrown onto my plate rather precipitately at the beginning of the week - suggests to me that we would fall into error if we equated the expression “ services of the Government “ with “ the servants of the Government “. Some expression that I may have used on Tuesday night might be thought by a severe critic to indicate that viewpoint.
Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate. I formally put the question -
That the Chairman do now leave the chair and report lo the Senate.
Question resolved in the negative.
– I suggest that here it mav be proper to consider “ the services of the Government “ to mean those services which the Parliament approves that the Government shall be entrusted to provide with this money. On no possible conception of the term can this item be considered proper in this Appropriation Bill.
I urge the Government completely to disown this idea of amalgamation of the two bills with a separation out of particular items. That concept spells confusion. Let the Government approach the Constitution as it is written and say that the Senate requires in one bill those items which it may not amend, and in the other bill those items which it has authority to amend. Then let is choose, without prejudice and without any attitude in favour of or against one bill, those items which relate to appropriation for the ordinary annual service of the Government. If this item can find a place in that category, the distinction upon which we have been dwelling this week is completely illusory. On no basis of reason, given faithful adherence to the true interpretation of the Constitution, can this be regarded as an ordinary annual service of the Government.
– I do not want to enter into the controversy as to whether the proposed appropriation is for the ordinary annual services of the Government. I refer the Minister to Division No. 340, subdivision 4, item 01, which relates to a contribution of £1,000 to the River Murray Commission. I refer also to Division No. 353 which relates to proposed expenditure of £71,000 under the River Murray Waters Act on works which come under the control of the Department of Works. I should like the Minister to say whether the proposed expenditure relates to anything connected with the commencement of work on the Chowilla dam.
[10.35]. - The answer to Senator Cavanagh’s question is “ No “. The items relate merely to running costs of the River Murray Commission. Neither of the items relates to any expenditure in respect of the Chowilla dam.
In replying to Senator Wright and Senator Mattner, I make three points. Whether an item of expenditure is large or small has nothing to do with the case.
– I think that it has.
– I doubt whether the test is whether the expenditure is large or small. Whether or not it is capital expenditure has nothing to do with the case. I have mentioned the third point previously. In the final determination, this is a matter to be settled between the two Houses of the Parliament. On that issue, perhaps, Senator Wright’s historical survey could be of equal significance to a legal opinion on the interpretation of words. One cannot die better than by facing fearful odds. In regarding the provision for the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority as being for an ordinary annual service of the Government, the process of reasoning, as I understand it, runs somethink like this: The works of the authority are validated by an agreement between the various governments, Commonwealth and State, and by an act of Parliament. They are a continuing liability or commitment of the Government which has gone on for years and which will go on for years. Because of that set of circumstances, because the works are not oncers, because they are not items that fall once for payment, because they are works to which the Government has set its hand, which it has a responsibility to carry through over a period of years, they are put into this category of ordinary annual services of the Government. That is the argument of the Solicitor-General. I can say no more than that. Whether I have done justice to the Solicitor-General and whether I have stated the position correctly are matters for him to determine.
– I have been very interested in the discussion that has taken place. My own view, so far as I express a definite view at this stage, is that the category in which an item falls might well be changed. Let us take the first appropriation for the Snowy Mountains project. I should think it would be unquestionable that that would be included in a bill separate from the annual Appropriation Bill. But, with the passage of time, the expenditure, involving a sum of approximately £400,000,000 over a period of twenty years, might well change its character from that of being an extraordinary service of the Government and, for the purposes of the Constitution, might be deemed to be ordinary annual expenditure. If I were to make a snap decision at the moment, I should be inclined to say that the annual appropriation for the Snowy Mountains project has now reached the stage of being an appropriation for an ordinary annual service of the Government. The same may be said of a grant to the States which purports to run in accordance with a formula for a period of years. When that expenditure assumed a new character - say, when a new formula was adopted - I would regard it as not being ordinary annual expenditure.
– How could a grant be a service of the government?
– It is a service of the government if it fits the description of anything that the government docs pursuant to its constitutional power.
– That is not the meaning of “ service “.
– Unquestionably power exists under section 96 of the Constitution for the Commonwealth to make a grant to the Slates. Wc know that everything a government docs as a service must come within its constitutional power. There was written into the Constitution for the benefit of the States authority for the Commonwealth to make grants in aid to the Stales with or without conditions. There is no doubt that this is within the legislative competence of the Parliament. If such a grant is not a service rendered by the Commonwealth to the States, to whom is it a service?
– The Parliament may grant financial assistance to any State, fs fiat a service of the Commonwealth Government?
– My view is that when the Commonwealth embarks on the exercise of that power, it is providing a governmental service.
– Subject to no test by the Senate?
– Oh, yes. When I was interrupted I was making the point that, if a bill authorized payments over a period of years pursuant to a formula, as we do in relation to income tax reimbursement grants, the appropriation for the first year should be regarded as being an extraordinary annual payment and should be the subject of a separate bill. Indeed, I think that that practice has been followed and that such an appropriation has been included in a bill other than the bill for the ordinary annual appropriation. 1 think that, when a project is afloat and it has commenced to run over a period of years, the subsequent annual expenditure should be regarded as being ordinary annual expenditure. I understand that in relation to grants to the States the appropriation for the whole period is contained in one bill. Am I right in saying that, or does the expenditure appear as a separate item each year?
– One of the extraordinary things I discovered to-night was that in many cases bills provide for a certain appropriation but the annual payments are not included in cither of the annual appropriation measures.
– I think that in the cases mentioned by the Minister the expenditure appears under a heading which does not cover the total amount set out in the annual Appropriation Bill. It is set out as a special appropriation, the appropriation having already been made.
– They are continuing appropriations.
– I think they appear under the heading of special appropriations in the Budget papers and do not form part of the total sum shown in the Estimates which we normally consider. I rose, not to open up the argument still further, but to suggest that what has been said to-night is indicative of a very strong feeling on both sides of the chamber that the next set of estimates ought to be scrutinized very carefully, and of the probability of very long arguments about whether particular items fit into one category or another.
I suggest to the Leader of the Government in a very tentative way that the Government should consider the wisdom of appointing a select committee, consisting of honorable senators from both sides of the chamber, to sit down and examine the Budget papers. Normally we debate a motion that the Budget papers be printed. 1 have already expressed my view on that procedure, but it has not prevailed. 1 see the danger of honorable senators embarking upon a consideration of a schedule to an Appropriation Bill while that measure is still before another place and I can foresee interminable argument, when we consider the Appropriation Bill itself in due course, about whether a particular item is properly included. I suggest with great respect that a preliminary discussion by a Senate committee which could sit down, have the advice of experts, deal with the matter quietly and objectively and then bring its views before all honorable senators, might prevent a great deal of argument and disputation and running up and down lanes which lead nowhere. As I said, we may embark upon an argument which will last not only for days but for weeks. A committee such as I have suggested, having had the advantage of sitting privately away from the glare of publicity, might be able to come back here with some well defined principles.
With the full intention of being helpful, I leave that general thought with the Government. If we have a repetition of what has happened to-night, if there is a contest between this place and another place on item after item, we shall become engaged in an unnecessarily long, drawnout proceeding. I suggest to the Government that it should consider shortcircuiting the process to avoid a very long embarrassing debate in public.
– I support the proposal of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) that these items of expenditure should be considered by a select committee in order to avoid difficulties and arguments later on about whether a fair approach, in the term of the undertaking given by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Sir William Spooner), has been made. While I have been sitting here to-night, a number of items which in my opinion ought not to be included in particular measures have been passed over. I should not like it to be thought that, because I have been silent, I believe that they were properly included. Senator Sir William Spooner said a while ago that to-night he discovered to his surprise that certain items of expenditure were not included in either of the appropriation measures. It is important to observe that a distinction is drawn in the very section of the Constitution which we are considering, between the proposed laws appropri ating revenue or moneys and proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys for the ordinary annual services of the Government. There are many laws which are passed for the appropriation of revenue or money. One may appropriate revenue or moneys for a particular purpose. Simply because the Government happens to be a vehicle for paying moneys does not mean that moneys necessarily are expended for the ordinary annual services of the Government.
Owing to the way in which the Senate has dealt with the bills for the sake of convenience over 60 years, confusion may now arise. Because the Government is the vehicle for paying certain moneys it may be assumed that the moneys are being appropriated for the ordinary annual services of the Government. The Government may make provisions for an annual payment to a particular body which has no connexion with the Government of this Commonwealth, for a purpose which this Parliament considers to be proper and within its constitutional powers. The Government may say, “ Every year £10.000.000 will be paid to this particular body “. That is not an appropriation for the ordinary annual services of the Government. There is a distinction. The words “ of the Government “ are not placed there for no purpose at all.
It seems to me that if these matters are carefully considered the problems can be ironed out. There will no doubt be borderline cases. One cannot escape borderline cases. Perhaps a fair indication of this is that my learned leader a few minutes ago said something about State grants. It was drawn to my attention that the SolicitorGeneral in his opinion apparently considered that section 96 grants should not properly be included in an ordinary annual appropriation act. There are differences of opinion and there will always be differences of opinion. But since this is a matter which affects the powers of one of the chambers of this Parliament, and since the Minister was careful to point out that the power of amendment of the Senate had been exercised on very few occasions over a very lengthy time, it would seem that the practical solution in cases of doubt ought to be to resolve these borderline cases by saying: “ They are not for the ordinary annual services of the Government. We will put them in another bill.” If that is borne in mind when we come to the Budget session, a lot of the difficulties may be avoided. If certain items are included it will be a matter of contention. If they are separated out and the doubt resolved in the way I have indicated, it would seem that there will be much less contention.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Proposed expenditure - Department of Primary Industry, £7,211,000 - agreed to.
Prime Minister’s Department.
Proposed expenditure, £6,975.000.
.- I wish to give expression to the disquiet that I have in regard to Division No. 400, subdivision 4, item 09 - “ Ex-members of Parliament and others or their dependants - annual allowances”. They are discretionary, non-statutory allowances. I do not urge their exclusion. I only mention them. 1 next mention Division No. 400, subdivision 5, item 17 - Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies. Unless 1 am mistaken, we passed a bill to-night to authorize that expenditure for the first time. On the basis of new-born babies not being ordinary, that would seem to be an item that should be contained in the other bill. I put to the test the observation that fell from the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), without any ideas of racial distinction. I draw attention also to Division No. 405 - Ministers of State, Leaders of the Opposition and Parliamentary parties and staffs. I do not know whether the item relates to the salaries of Ministers of State. The amount suggests to me that it is not nearly of the immensity that would dignify that purpose, but I should like the Leader of the Opposition to declare whether his salary comes within the ordinary annual services of the government.
While I am on my feet, having mentioned these not unharmonious matters, I suggest that there may be fertility in the view-point put by the Leader of the Opposition and Senator Murphy to allow that a select committee of the Senate, or a select committee of both Houses, should consider this matter.
The great merit in that suggestion is that it would give support or otherwise to the author of this change of procedure. I should say that this chamber would prescribe a second edition.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Proposed expenditure - Repatriation Department, £50,022,000- agreed to.
Department of Shipping and Transport.
Proposed expenditure, £8,930,000.
.- 1 refer to Division No. 453 - Railway projects. Item 01 relates to “ Expenditure under the Railway Standardization (South Australia) Agreement Act- £1,500,000 “. I think this is a two-year-old. If this amount were for the ordinary annual services of the Government, I am afraid that Sir Thomas Playford would wish it to wear another garb. Item 02 refers to “ Expenditure under the Railway Agreement (Western Australia) Act- £3,000,000 “. This can only proceed from that unfortunate sentence of Professor Bailey’s which, I understood from the debate on Tuesday night, was disowned by all senators. He said it is practically impossible to imagine any item that falls outside a bill for ordinary annual services. I am not making a petition, but I conclude with a prayer.
– I believe that as this is a new procedure it is fair for us to indicate some of the items we believe should be in the Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill. The item relating to railway projects should, in my opinion, be included in that bill. Last year in the Appropriation (Works and Services) Act we approved the expenditure of £1,817,000. This year, in this bill, we are confronted with proposed expenditure of £4,500,000 for almost identical work- £1,500,000 for South Australia and £3,000,000 for Western Australia. In my opinion this expenditure is in the wrong bill and I rise to indicate my thinking on this matter.
– I refer to Division No. 460, Sub-division 4, “ Ship Construction, £3,000,000 “, under the heading “ Australian Shipbuilding Board “. I do not think that this can be construed as an annual or ordinary service of the Government. The Australian Shipbuilding Board is a business board, so I cannot see why this item should appear in this bill.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Proposed expenditures - Department of Social Services, £3,767,000; Department of Territories, £284,000; Department of Trade and Industry, £2,071,000; Department of the Treasury, £9,083,000; Advance to the Treasurer, £16,000,000; Department of Works, £9,971,000; Defence Services, £126,382,000; Business Undertakings - Commonwealth Railways, £3,481,000- agreed to.
Proposed expenditure, £78,351,000.
. -I should like to make one observation. It is that in this department practically every item that appeared in the Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill has been transferred over.
[11.4]. - I think I should re-state the principle - not with the idea of winning friends and influencing people but for the record - that the transfers have been made because this is expenditure that the department is committed to year after year, whether it be for building post offices or other works. In the same way the principle has been applied to shipbuilding. We ask: Is this something that comes up for consideration, payment or settlement in the ordinary activities of government departments?
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Proposed expenditures - Broadcasting and Television Services, £8,768,000; Territories of the Commonwealth - Australian Capital Territory, £9,790,000; Christmas Island, £100; Cocos (Keeling) Islands, £22,900; Norfolk Island, £14,000; Northern Territory, £7,800,000; Papua and New Guinea, £10,722,000- agreed to.
Schedule as a whole agreed to.
Postponed clause 3 agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without requests; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Sir William Spooner) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 13th May (vide page 1098), on motion by Senator Paltridge-
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- I rise on the second reading of this bill only to exclaim at the ingenuity of whoever found the name of this bill - Supply (Special Expenditure) Bill. During the previous debate we referred to the fact that there are always special appropriations, amounting to about £450,000,000, including expenditure on the National Welfare Fund but illustrated chiefly by such votes as those for the Governor-General’s salary, the Federal Judges salaries, the taxation tribunals, the Commissioner of Taxation and other people whose offices should be guaranteed by a continuing appropriation as the basis of their independence. Then there are other items also called special appropriations. Because we have a requirement that one bill should relate to appropriations for ordinary services, I suppose it was not the natural thing to say that that expenditure was extraordinary expenditure.
It seems to me that the word “ special “ in the title should be reconsidered. The bill relates to the authorizing of an appropriation of a mere £1,000,000, but it does not indicate for what special purpose or service that sum is required. According to my recollection of the bill it is without a schedule. I do ask that some re-thinking be directed to the title of the bill to distinguish it from the bill that we have just passed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Senate adjourned at 11.13 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 14 May 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1964/19640514_senate_25_s25/>.