25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 1 1 a m., and read prayers.
Assent to the following bills reported -
CommonwealthBureau of Roads Bill 1964.
Post and Telegraph Rates Bill 1964.
Broadcasting and Television Bill 1964.
– I ask a question of the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Will the Leader of the Government arrange to have made available to honorable senators the information which the Prime Minister, at the request of the Leader of the Opposition in another place, has agreed to supply regarding superannuation, salaries and allowances for members of the various parliaments in Australia?
– I understand that the information referred to by Senator McKenna is to be provided shortly in another place. As soon as it is available, I will make arrangements that it also be provided to honorable senators.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. Is it a fact that the Minister’s Department has been requested by Australian industry to invoke the provisions of the Customs Tariff (Dumping and Subsidies) Act against bicycles which it is claimed are being dumped in Australia to the detriment of local manufacturers? Is it a fact that the complaint concerns importation of bicycles from Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia?
– Yes, it is a fact that my Department has been requested to invoke the provisions of the Customs Tariff (Dumping and Subsidies) Act against the importation of bicycles into Australia. I have authorised my Department to take interim anti-dumping measures in this regard. I intend very shortly to refer the matter to the Tariff Board for inquiry and report. Asthe honorable senator mentioned, the complaint concerns the importation of bicycles from Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. For the information of the Senate I think I should point out that the effect of the interim anti-dumping measures is that, pending the report of the Tariff Board, cash securities are taken which will be equal to the margin of the dumping; that is, the amount by which the export price is considered to be in excess of the normal value. In certain countries it is not always easy for departmental officers to establish the normal value. In certain instances, they have to make investigations in neighbouring countries. The whole process of establishing the normal value is a difficult one. But the effect of the interim anti-dumping measures will be to hold the position until all the facts can be established by way of referring the matter to the Tariff Board.
– I desire to ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate a question. Is the Government aware that many overseas parent companies place restrictions on the export of goods that are manufactured by the Australian subsidiaries? Has the Government made any detailed study of the companies which impose such restrictions and of the precise nature of the restrictions? If so, can its findings be made available to honorable senators? What action has the Government taken to stop these practices which are so detrimental to the Australian economy?
– The Australian Government is aware that many overseas companies which have established subsidiaries in Australia have imposed restrictions on the export of goods manufactured by those subsidiaries. No doubt the honorable senator will recall that recently the Minister for Trade and Industry, when addressing himself to this subject, indicated that more than 1,000 of these plants were already in operation. I do not know the extent of any detailed study that has been made by the Government or the Department of Trade and Industry, but I suggest that the statement made by the Minister for Trade and Industry indicates the interest of his Department and the Government in this position.
My own comment on the question asked by the honorable senator is no more than a repetition of what I said recently in this chamber in reply to a question about the same subject. If is difficult to generalise and say whether a practice of this nature is always good or is always bad. I think each case must be examined and judged on its own merits. I do not think it can be said of some of these arrangements that they are not good for Australia. These overseas organisations have brought a certain know-how to Australia. Their interest in Australia has resulted in the establishment of factories which have provided employment for Australians and which have supplied for the Australian market goods which previously were probably supplied from overseas sources. To that extent it is obvious that the establishment in Australia of this type of company has a value, despite the fact that it may also be accompanied by certain restrictive export practices. As I have said, I do not know what detailed study of the problem has been made. However, I shall discuss the matter with my colleague. If any information can be made available, I am sure that he will be prepared to make it available.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Has the attention of the Minister been directed to the remarks made by the Minister for Primary Industry, as chairman of the meeting of Ministers responsible for fisheries held in Melbourne on 25th September, in the course of which he said that the rate of imports of fish into Australia was growing faster than the rate of domestic production? Will the Minister consider the possibility of holding seminars of fishermen in South Australia in the Port Lincoln area, that being a major tuna area, or in the Robe area, that being a major crayfishing area, at which the results of international and Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation fishery research could be explained and discussed, with a view to lifting fishing from the cottage type industry that it has largely become over recent years?
– I am aware of the statement of the Minister for Primary Industry that imports of fish into Australia are increasing. The question of informing the fishermen themselves of the results of research projects is primarily one for the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. Senator Laught may be interested to know that early this month the Tasmanian Professional Fishermen’s Association will be holding a seminar on fisheries management. I understand that this will be the first seminar of its kind in Australia. I am sure that Commonwealth departments would be very happy to offer the same measure of cooperation to the South Australian fishermen if they desired to hold a similar seminar.
– Has the Minister for Defence any reason to doubt newspaper reports that the test flying of the world’s most advanced bomber, the British TSR2, has been an outstanding success? If not, does the Minister care to modify or amplify his statement in reply to a question from Senator Branson on Tuesday of last week that he thought it was true, regrettably, that the TSR2 aircraft had run into production difficulties and into difficulties arising from other reasons?
– No, I feel no need at all to modify the statement that I then made. I express the pleasure that everyone feels that the TSR2 has now flown. It is a recorded fact that the TSR2 nev/ many months after it was scheduled to fly, because of difficulties which arose both in the planning and in the developmental stages. I trust that, now that the aircraft has made its first flight test, development will proceed as planned, but let me say to the honorable senator that in expressing that view the Australian Government feels no need at all to regret the choice which it made in respect of a bomber for its own purposes, having regard to the strategic needs of our Air Force in this area of the world.
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question finally would be that the situation indicates the degree of efficiency in the preventive service of the Department. We are all very appreciative of the good job that the officers are doing in that field, but it is obvious that with increasing numbers of passengers coming to Australia, combined with the tremendous movement of imports, there must bc an increase in smuggling generally. However, the departmental administration is well aware of the situation and has recently taken action to re-organise completely the preventive and detection services in order to keep them ahead in dealing with modern smugglers. Many new positions have been provided. I was delighted at the response when positions for suitable people on the prevention staff were advertised. In addition to increasing the staff, it has been possible to intensify the training of officers and to improve the anti-smuggling techniques of this side of the Department. I think the effect of the various moves means a grim time ahead for smugglers or potential smugglers and the illegal entry of goods to Australia.
Senator COHEN__ I direct to the Minister for Defence a question which is supplementary to that which was asked by Senator Ridley a few moments ago. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to the London report that the British TSR2 jet bomber, having had a successful test flight, may be sold to overseas governments at what is called a bargain price of £2 million, and that Australia, along with West Germany, is among the top sales targets? Have any British approaches been made recently to the Australian Government to buy the TSR2 and, if so, what has been the Government’s response?
– I have seen the Press report to which the honorable senator has referred. As he has said, it stated that renewed efforts would be made to sell the TSR2 at a reduced price, the reduced price being made possible on the assumption that the British Government would agree now to write off in whole or in large part much of the developmental cost which had been charged against the TSR2. 1 have no official information or any information beyond what I have seen in trie Press on this matter. I have no idea whether it is the intention of the United Kingdom Government to write off or largely write off the cost so that the price of the bomber can be reduced for the benefit of intending or possible customers. I certainly have no other information as to what are the plans of the manufacturers of the TSR2 for the sale of the aircraft.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. Has the Minister seen a report in today’s Canberra Press of yet another Asian journalist who, having been invited to Australia, like his predecessors, has changed his views on Australia’s restrictive immigration policy and does not think now that it is derogatory? Has the Minister also noted that this journalist is convinced that Australia’s immigration policy is necessary if our standard of living is to be maintained? As it is impossible to invite all Asian journalists to Australia, would the Minister ask representatives of the foreign Press - very nicely, of course - whether they will endeavour to give wide publicity to these views in an attempt to counteract ignorant sensation seekers who attempt to increase international tension by criticising our policy and perhaps even impress those sadly mistaken persons in Australia who seek to have our immigration policy drastically relaxed?
– I have not had the advantage of reading the article to which the honorable senator has referred but I am completely in agreement with the views that the honorable senator has expressed in her question regarding Australia’s immigration policy. I think it has been proved definitely that the policy we have pursued in Australia with the concurrence of all political parties is a vigorous policy and has been a very real factor in the healthy state of the economy. Without doubt, new Australians have made a very real contribution to the progress and development of Australia. I believe it is in the best interests of Australia that we continue to maintain a vigorous immigration policy. If the Press report is as the honorable senator has indicated, I shall use my best efforts to see that the article to which she has referred gets the widest possible publicity.
– My question is directed to the Minister in charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research. Are the Commonwealth Government and the New South Wales Government sending a world expert on education to Nigeria to assist there in organising and supervising a system of primary, secondary and other education? Will the Government consider sending a similar expert to the Northern Territory where no Aboriginal has ever completed secondary school and the number who attend secondary school can be counted on the fingers of one hand with fingers to spare?
– I think the answer to the first part of the honorable senator’s question, in short terms, is: “No”. But the Australian Government is, under the plan to assist Africa in education, sending an education expert to various places, including Nigeria. No doubt the expert to whom the honorable senator referred has been made available by the New South Wales Government from its teaching force but it is not being sent by, or paid for by, that Government. The question on education in the Territories should not’ have been directed to me in the capacity in which the honorable senator in fact directed it to me, because that aspect of education is entirely the responsibility of the Department of Territories. However, as the representative of the Minister for Territories in this chamber, I will bring the question to his notice.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs noted reports to the effect that Eskimos in northern Canada have been adversely affected - some almost to the maximum degree that can be endured by human beings - by radio active fallout caused by the explosion some time ago of a large hydrogen bomb by the Russians? Has the Minister any expert opinion as to the harmful effect on the world’s atmosphere that would bc caused by the testing necessary to bring Red Chinese nuclear weapons to a standard . comparable with the standard of the weapons of the United States of America and the Soviet Union, should Red
China be able to break through in this direction? Has he any information as to Red China’s progress in this field?
– I have not read the reports to which the honorable senator has referred on the alleged effect on Eskimos of radio active fallout resulting from a hydrogen bomb explosion, but I will endeavour to obtain the relevant information. I cannot indicate to him with any accuracy - I doubt whether anyone could - the effect on the atmosphere that would follow if China embarked on a series of nuclear tests which, I gather from the question, would be comparable in extent with all the other nuclear tests that have taken place so far in the atmosphere. I merely say that the testing of nuclear devices in the atmosphere has come to be regarded by almost all nations as something which must be avoided at all costs and that a nuclear test ban treaty, to which Australia was one of the first signatories, has been drawn up.
If the view is that a single test, such as the one that France proposes to carry out or that any other country may decide to carry out, is bad, then a vast series of explosions would be immeasurably worse and very much to be deplored. However, since China does not believe in nor adhere to the nuclear test ban treaty, it is possible that she will embark on such a programme. The only information I have of China’s capacity in this direction is that it is generally thought that she must be approaching the stage at which she can test a nuclear device if she desires to do so.
– I address my question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy. Has he read that portion of an article by Captain Robertson in today’s “ Australian “ which contains a statement to the effect that the Minister for the Navy promised to try to secure a pension for Captain Robertson? If the Minister did make the promise, what has he done to honour it?
– I have not read the article to which the honorable senator has referred but I will undertake to do so and then to refer it to the Minister for the Navy. I shall see whether I can obtain an answer for the honorable senator.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Customs aDd Excise been directed to a statement by Mr. J. Kean, a Stipendiary Magistrate in the Melbourne City Court, to the effect that the summer issue of the English magazine “Parade” was obscene? Mr. Kean ordered the destruction of all available copies of that issue. As “ Parade “ is published by City Magazines Pty. Ltd., of Fleet Street, London, can the Minister inform the Senate whether any action is contemplated to prevent the entry into Australia of this publication?
– It is within my knowledge that the customs authorities have prohibited the entry of certain issues of this type of magazine. As to the particular issue to which the honorable senator has referred, I think it follows that, as it is circulating in Victoria, it was allowed to enter Australia. However, I will have an investigation set in train immediately and will supply the honorable senator with the information she has sought.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate the following questions: 1. Is it true that Australian passport restrictions on travel to Communist countries have been abolished and that Australians who wish to travel to those countries have not to make a separate application to the Department of Immigration? 2. As the Minister for Immigration seems to be completely in the dark as to the reasons for the change, will the Leader of the Government try to ascertain the reasons? 3. Would the honorable gentleman tell the people of Australia that this might bc the straw which shows the way the wind is blowing and that the Australian Government proposes to fall into line with Great Britain on the contentious question of recognition of Communist China, particularly in the light of the fact that Communist China is becoming Australia’s best customer for wheat and wool?
– If it was the intention of the Australian Government at any time to make a change in policy as fundamental as recognising Red China, it would make the appropriate announcement and would not fiddle around with the removal of whatever passport restrictions may have been applied in the past. We would make a statement. I suggest that the other parts of the honorable senator’s question be placed on the notice paper.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Health. Has the honorable gentleman read a report of a new medicine called Banfolin, which concerns the treatment of cancer, and of the clinical experiments and research with the new medicine being conducted in Japan and Germany? Will the Minister consider the possibility of making an application for a small quantity of Banfolin for clinical experiment and research purposes in Australia?
– I am aware that claims have been made that Banfolin. which is a drug extracted from Japanese bamboo, has proved useful in the treatment of some forms of cancer. I am informed that the drug is used only for early clinical and trial research undertakings. Officers of the Department of Health have read the report and the Australian Ambassador to Japan has been requested to obtain further information on the drug. However, the thinking of the Department at the present time is that it would be quite premature to commence the use of this drug in Australia in the treatment of cancer.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Territories. In view of the fact that during the current sessional period of the Parliament the Senate will be asked to approve the appropriation of moneys for the maintenance of services in Papua and New Guinea, will the honorable gentleman inform the Senate whether there is any likelihood of our being informed of the nature of the report on Papua and New Guinea by the World Bank, which is engaged on a survey of the Territory to discover its economic resources? If this report is not available to the Senate, will the Minister when presenting the relevant appropriations inform this chamber as to the economic capacity of Papua and New Guinea to exist as an independent Territory?
– I will ask the Minister for Territories whether he has any idea when the report of the World Bank on these Territories is likely to be available. I would think, from my incomplete knowledge, that it is extremely unlikely that the report would be available when the estimates for Papua and New Guinea are being debated in this chamber. I will also bring to the attention of the Minister, and this is all I can do, the suggestion by the honorable senator that some statement on the economic capacity of these Territories to exist as a viable whole - I think that is what the honorable senator had in mind - might be made. But again, this request being made at this stage, I would think it unlikely that such a statement could be made and any significant use made of it before such time as these estimates are debated by this chamber.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Is the licence of radio station 2CH in Sydney held by the New South Wales Council of Churches? Is the Minister aware that the recently imposed substantial increases in charges on permanent landlines for the purpose of making religious broadcasts are in turn being passed onto the churches concerned, and that these charges are having a deleterious effect on the presentation of religious programmes since such increases cannot be passed on by that body? Because the Government has granted a 33 per cent, rebate on bulk postage charges by business interests, will the Minister give consideration to abolishing the increased charges on permanent broadcasting landlines so that the churches can continue to engage themselves in these broadcasts without restriction or further added costs?
– I fail to see the relevance between a 30 per cent, reduction in the charges for bulk postage and what is claimed by the honorable senator to be an increased charge for landlines in regard to radio station 2CH. I emphasised only yesterday that the Postmaster-General had proposed the cut of 30 per cent, in the bulk postage rate to try to recapture some of the trade that his Department had lost - in other words, to increase his revenue and to maintain what had been an industry that had been built by the Post Office over a number of years and which it had been losing to other, interests. The PostmasterGeneral is determined to try to recapture that industry.
I think the inference might well be drawn from the question asked by the honorable senator that the reduction of charges for bulk postage was approved in order to induce certain big business interests to invade homes to an even greater degree. I think those words were used recently in a reference to this matter. Such is not the case. Having said that, I will bring the honorable senator’s question to the notice of the Postmaster-General and see whether that gentleman has any comment to make on the effect the increased charges may have on this particular radio station.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for National Development whether he has seen a Press report of recent date to the effect that the Government is giving consideration to the building of a nuclear power station in the Northern Territory adjacent to the Gove bauxite deposits for the exploitation of those deposits, so that this country will have an Australian controlled aluminium industry.
– No, I have not seen the newspaper report to which the honorable senator refers. I can, therefore, make no comment on it.
– Yesterday I asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate questions concerning the shortage of copper and high prices affecting the Australian economy and defence projects. I suggested that some investigation might be made by the Government of the resumption of copper mining in those areas of South Australia which ceased production at a time of depressed world prices. As the Minister made no reference to this aspect in his reply, I now ask: Will he refer to the appropriate department the question of South Australian copper deposits and ascertain whether the old deposits might profitably be brought back into production?
– If the honorable senator sees some advantage in the reference of this request to the Minister. I shall certainly undertake to do that for him. but I point out that the Australian Government has expressed its interest in copper production in Australia by providing a bounty. Beyond that, anyone interested in undertaking work in this assisted industry may do so.
– The Government ought to be interested, too.
– The Government is interested to the point that it provides a bounty. This has had, in other instances, the effect that the honorable senator seeks for the old copper mines at Moonta in South Australia. I deduce from the fact that these workings have not been reopened that those who are interested in copper production see no real future for such production at this field even with the assistance of the bounty. However, I shall refer the question to the Minister.
– My question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate arises from a question asked by Senator Hendrickson, who, I think, implied that any increase in or facilitating of tourism or trade with Red China necessarily would lead to recognition of Red China. Does the Minister agree that the limited success of Chinese Communism in regimenting the Chinese masses has been based on intense hatred of the Westerner and, in fact a belief that Westerners are foreign devils? Does the Minister agree also that any efforts to break down this hatred must be of advantage to all of us who live in this part of the world? Does he agree further that any recognition of Red China on the terms of abandoning the right of the people of Taiwan to a separate existence would certainly be a let down for those people?
– From my reading and my study of the situation I agree with the three points raised by the honorable senator.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Over what period has the Australian £1 had an exchange rate of £125 to £100 in relation to sterling? Has the Government reviewed this exchange rate? If so, at what periods? Does the Minister believe that it is fair, under existing economic conditions, that the present exchange rate should con tinue? Is there a possibility that the Government will make an application for the Australian £1 to be at parity with the £1 sterling?
– I understand that the exchange rate at present is £125 to £100. Any further answers to the honorable senator’s questions would involve matters of policy and, of course, such answers cannot be given to questions without notice.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. Is the Minister satisfied, and can he assure me, that the 32 immigrants from California who are members of what is known as the Christian Holy Spiritual Jumpers sect, and who are going to Bunbury in Western Australia, are prepared to fit into and comply with the laws of this country? Or do they intend to set up a closed community and establish their own schools outside the State education system? As these people do not believe in television, radio or newspapers, in being photographed or in mixing with anyone outside their own closed community, does he consider that the Department has been wise in admitting a self-confessed, closedcommunity group which is not prepared to be assimilated into the Australian community?
– I shall direct the honorable senator’s question to the Minister for Immigration and obtain a suitable reply.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. Is the Minister aware that, apart from the sect mentioned by Senator Branson, there are about 500,000 permanent residents of Australia who are still United Kingdom citizens because they have failed to register as Australian citizens? Is he also aware that in the last financial year only 2,074 United Kingdom citizens registered as citizens, a figure much less than the number of United Kingdom migrants for the year? Is it correct that most of these people are required to register as electors, to vote and to assume other responsibilities in Australia? Why is the Government utterly failing in bringing home to United Kingdom citizens the desirability of registering as Australian citizens, if they wish to make their permanent home in Australia?
– I dispute the statement made by the honorable senator that the Government is failing in its duty to bring home to United Kingdom citizens the desirability of registering as Australian citizens. Australia, thank God, is still a free country. We can draw their attention to the advantages of Australian citizenship, but the ultimate decision still rests with the individual, and I hope it will always remain that way. As to the remainder of the question, I shall bring it to the attention of the Minister for Immigration and obtain an answer for the honorable senator.
– On 3rd September, Senator Ridley asked the following question -
Has the attention of the Leader of the Government in the Senate been drawn to the plight of cattlemen in Central Australia caused by the current drought, referred to in an Adelaide “ News “ report yesterday which quoted Mr. D. D. Smith, a member of the Northern Territory Legislative Council? Mr. Smith has charged the Federal Government with showing complete apathy towards the plight of pastoralists. Will the Minister consider suggestions made for realistic Government aid, such as a reduction in Commonwealth rail charges for the transport of cattle from Alice Springs to Port Augusta?
I have now received the following reply from my colleague, the Minister for Territories -
The measures available in the Northern Territory for relief in time of drought are as follows -
Fodder - A freight concession of half the cost of transporting fodder by road and rail into areas where stock has insufficient feed.
Stock - A freight concession of half the transport cost of moving starving stock out to agistment areas and back again.
Rent - Remission of rent, at the discretion of the Land Board, in cases of hardship.
Water - Long-term loans at 4½ per cent. interest for bore-drilling.
These measures are at present being taken advantage of by pastoralists whose holdings cover half the drought-affected area of central Australia.
With regard to moving cattle, the modern development of roads and road transporters has made possible rapid movement to agistment areas, whereas in the past movement by droving would have been impossible on drought-stricken stock routes or would have led to many deaths from luck of feed. Although the severity of the drought is certainly such as to arouse our concern, it can not be overlooked that central Australia is an arid region which is normally subject to a greater or lesser degree of drought.
(Question No. 229.)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions -
(Question No. 252.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has provided the following answers -
The following technical papers were presented by the delegation: -
The first paper surveys the power resources situation in Australia and the likely future demand, with particular reference to the possibilities for the introduction of nuclear power. The other papers are more specialised. It is of interest to note that Professor Watson-Munro’s paper was prepared at the invitation of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The fact that Australia was invited to give a paper on fusion research is a recognition of the importance of the academic work which is being done in this field in Australia.
(Question No. 291.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Supply, upon notice -
– The Acting Minister for Supply has supplied the following answers -
– Earlier today Senator McKenna asked me whether 1 would make available certain material which it was proposed to present to the House of Representatives in reply to a question that was asked some time ago by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). The question was in relation to parliamentary salaries and allowances in the Parliaments of Australia. The paper was tabled by the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) and with the concurrence of honorable senators I incorporate in “ Hansard “ the short statement which he made.
On 3rd September in this House the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) addressed to the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) certain questions relating to parliamentary retiring allowances and parliamentary allowances. In his interim reply on the same day, the Prime Minister said that he agreed with the honorable member’s proposal that information papers on these matters should be collated and made public. The Prime Minister has accordingly had the relevant statements prepared. It seemed necessary to prepare them in some detail and this has been done. In the Prime Minister’s unavoidable absence from the House this morning, and at his request, I now table the statements.
By way of explanation I indicate that the statements are directed to the following matters: -
A summary of the principal clauses of parliamentary superannuation schemes currently applying in the Commonwealth and the States;
I interpolate here that this statement was prepared by the Public Service Board at the request of the Government following the honorable member’s question. The statement contains explanatory material which will help to give honorable members a comprehensive picture of recent developments
The details set out in statements IV and V are taken from Commonwealth records and from information from State sources.
With the concurrence of honorable senators I incorporate the following statements in “ Hansard”-
STATEMENT No. III
COMMONWEALTH PUBLIC SERVICE SALARIES
A Statement by the Public Service Board on Commonwealth Public Service increases since 31.12.59.
Part A: Introduction
In the period in question pay increases in the Comonwealth Service have come about in two ways: -
Part B: Categories that Have Not Received Salary Increases
Part C: General Salary Increases
Basic Wage Increases
Fourth Division Staff
Second Division Officers
Geologists and Geophysicists
Medical Officer (Institutional)
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) agreed to-
That Government business lake precedence of general business after 8 p.m. this sitting.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Tuesday, 13th October, at 3 p.m.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Motion (by Senator Henty) proposed -
That the Bill be now read a first time.
Debate (on motion by Senator Laught) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henty) read a first time.
Consideration resumed from 30th September (vide page 836).
Proposed expenditure, £5,441,000.
.- When the debate was adjourned I had discussed Division No. 254, sub-division 4, item 01, relating to the activities of the World Health Organisation and I had referred to the proposal in the report of the Director-General of Health for a world health research centre. In consideration of Division No. 250, sub-division 2, item 06, I had referred to smoking and a possible approach to the tobacco manufacturing companies concerning cigarette advertising. I also referred to Division No. 254, sub-division 2, item 07, relating to publicity and a suggestion that the hospital and medical benefits funds might be approached to issue pamphlets itemising the specific benefits available to the public through these funds.
When consideration was adjourned, I was speaking on Division No. 254, sub-division 4, item 06, relating to children affected by thalidomide. I had directed attention to a report in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 19th August which stated that there was new hope for the provision of artificial limbs for children affected by thalidomide. This resulted from an experiment that was being carried out on a small boy’s electric train in London. A team of surgeons and engineers was working in an attempt to discover a means of controlling the speed of the train by nerve impulses. I know that the provision of artificial limbs in Australia comes within the activities of the Artificial Limb Centre of the Repatriation Department but at the time when a number of Australian children were tragically affected by the drug thalidomide, the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) co-operated considerably in trying to obtain some aid for the children who were affected. I direct the attention of the Minister and the Department of Health to the newspaper report in the hope that they will keep this matter under review and will take action immediately if there is any tangible benefit from this experiment.
Some honorable senators have already referred to medical research which comes under Division No. 250, sub-division 4, item 02. As I understand, very little research has been conducted by the medical profession generally, and by Commonwealth and State departments, into the problems of aged people. I direct the Minister’s attention to the fact that a clinical research unit has been established in New South Wales at the Lidcombe State Hospital. This being a hospital for the aged, the work being done by the unit could be of great importance. A personal friend who is engaged in this activity - a specialist in Sydney - has written to me to say that to date very little has been done about ageing, as such, and the diseases associated with it. He has pointed out that as such wonderful opportunities exist atthe
Lidcombe State Hospital, both in terms of the number of patients and the laboratory facilities provided by the Institute of Clinical Pathology there, it would seem that we are not doing sufficient in this regard. The hope has been expressed that in the fullness of time the value of this type of work will be recognised by the Commonwealth Department of Health.
My final remarks relate to Division No. 253- Quarantine - which has been mentioned by other honorable senators. 1 notice that proposed expenditure under this division has been increased by £75,000.
Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I shall speak about one particular aspect of these Estimates. I shall do so at no great length, although it merits a good deal of consideration. The per capita basis of our gross national product is almost £800, but the Government, with its miserably parsimonious approach to such major projects as medical research and national fitness, proposes to distribute, on a per capita basis, approximately lOd. to medical research and a little over 2d. to national fitness. There is very little need for me to dilate on the necessity and justification for medical research in all fields. Surely the Commonwealth Government, as the senior Government in Australia and as the controller of the purse strings of this nation, must realise that it should give a lead in these matters.
Not so long ago we were seeking to raise funds for cancer research and for the National Heart Foundation, but the Government of the day, led by Sir Robert Menzies, was loth to take the lead and loath to exhibit any measure of generosity. When you consider how much money is being spent in Australia, and more particularly how much money is being disbursed by the Commonwealth Government, you must realise how miserable is our approach as a nation to these matters. Perhaps the Minister will say that there are research endeavours within the universities and in hospitals and various research bodies sponsored or controlled by the States, but that does not excuse the parsimonious approach and the miserable attitude of the Government which controls the nation’s finances. Has the Minister any really sincere reply to make to this criticism?
Turning to the subject of national fitness, we know that everyone cannot be mentally alert or physically fit, but it should be the aim to provide facilities, as far as lies within our power, to ensure that every person develops to the maximum his mental aptitude and physical attributes. The Government has seen fit to provide £ 1 00,000 for this purpose and it has detailed how that sum is to be distributed - assistance in training teachers, the provision of camps and educational facilities such as films, advertising and so on. The separate allocations are £500, £1,300, £800 and so on, but overall they amount to a little more than 2d. for each person in Australia.
Perhaps the Minister, in defence of his officers and the Government’s proposed allocations, will say that we can provide only a certain amount of money for facilities for physical education. I do not agree that we cannot provide for the older people in the community certain facilities, commensurate with their demands and their physical condition. However, let us concede, for the purposes of argument, that we can provide only for the younger group in the community. Surely we will not say that people in their 20’s are too old to have facilities for physical education provided for them. Surely we will not deny such facilities to the young people and the children. Taking the younger people only, the proposed allocation amounts, on a per capita basis, to 5d. Ignoring the humanitarian aspect of this matter, leaving out human feeling and sympathy, and looking at the problem from a cold-blooded, hard, economic point of view, you must see that physically fit and mentally alert people can make a much greater contribution to our gross national product. Surely, on that basis alone, the Government should provide more than a miserable £100.000 to be distributed among 1 1 million people.
The Government seems to glory in the fact that certain activities in this field have continued for the past 25 years, but surely it can take no pride in the present proposed allocation. On no basis can an allocation of £100,000 in a Budget of over £2.500 million bc regarded as a generous distribution of largesse. I do not know what the Minister’s reply to this will be. That is for him to determine. However, T express the hope that he will not be recreant to his trust and that he will not talk with his tongue in his cheek, praising the Government for its generosity. He knows the limitations that are imposed on our young people. With his wide experience, his sympathetic interest and his humane approach, he must know of the neglect that has been apparent in the provision of facilities for the development of fitness in the younger people in the metropolitan areas and larger towns. If it were not for some well meaning people who, on a voluntary basis, are attempting to do something for our younger people, very little would be done. I have in mind clubs and organisations such as the Police Boys’ Clubs, church organisations, the Young Men’s Christian Association, the Young Women’s Christian Association and other bodies.
I make my appeal to the Minister. This matter may be beyond his control now that the Budget has been introduced. We are now considering the Estimates for 1964-65, but surely it is not too late for the Minister to think in terms of 1 965-66 and to examine the matter thoroughly in the realisation of the contribution made by physical fitness to a sense of wellbeing and thus to the development of economic production. You cannot have a powerful nation unless you have people who are healthy within their natural endowment and who may use their inheritance to develop their entitlements within the limits of their environmental circumstances. Such circumstances include climate and other factors. It seems to me that if you realise the importance of these features of physical fitness, Mr. Minister, you should join me in saying without fear of contradiction that there can be no justifiable challenge to the statement that the Government has been in the past, is now and proposes to be in the future, parsimonious and miserable in its approach to this national problem.
– I direct my remarks to Division No. 250, sub-division 4, item 02, which relates to medical research. In doing so I wish to refer to the answer given yesterday by the Minister for Health (Senator Wade), which I found extremely interesting, to a question I asked. It seems that as a result of medical research certain factors connecting smoking with lung cancer have been discovered. It appears from the Minister’s answer that five or six factors involved in the growing of the tobacco plant and the production of tobacco are responsible for the link. Honorable senators will have seen the Minister’s reply and I do not propose now to take the matter very much further. However, I wish to ask the Minister: Is there liaison between the Department of Health - which has brought to the surface information contained in the Minister’s reply to my question - and the Department of Primary Industry, so that the discovery of factors Jinking tobacco to lung cancer may be pursued by the Department of Primary Industry? It is conceivable that the connecting factors which arise in the growing of the tobacco plant and its preparation can be eliminated by liaison between the two Departments. The Department of Primary Industry could continue research armed with the discoveries of the Department of Health. If that situation obtains now, I prefer to say no more at present but to raise the matter again during the debate on the estimates for the Department of Primary Industry.
– In directing my remarks to Division No. 250 of the Estimates I wish to refer to a matter that was canvassed last evening by Senator Cohen; that is, the amount which may be earned by a pensioner before he is disqualified from entitlement to participate in the pensioner medical service. I have referred to this matter during previous debates on the Budget and on the Estimates and I am disappointed that the Government has not seen fit to take any action. I thought that Senator Cohen last evening very graphically described one of the greatest anomalies in the national health scheme. It seems amazing to me that the Government has delayed so long in taking action to eliminate this very grave anomaly whereby a pensioner may not earn more than fi 04 a year and retain entitlement to the benefits of the pensioner medical service. I think t might be pardoned for describing it as a stupid anomaly. I was astounded to hear the Minister for Health, in reply to Senator Cohen, say last evening that it would cost only a meagre £1.2 million to allow all pensioners, irrespective of income, entitlement to the service. When we are talking in terms of £3,000 million to finance the services of this country, £1.2 million is a paltry sum and one that should be spent immediate])’ to wipe out the anomaly.
In replying to Senator Cohen the Minister said -
All 1 want to say now is that this matter has been exercising our minds for some time and the time may well come when it will be reviewed. 1 am sure that honorable senators on both sides of the chamber are aware of the existence of this anomaly. I hope that the Minister will be able to give us a more definite reply. As I have said, to eliminate this injustice to pensioners would cost a mere £1.2 million. It is strange that a single pensioner may earn £104 a year and enjoy the provisions of the pensioner medical service, but a pensioner who is unfortunate enough to earn £104 10s. or £105 a year is automatically excluded from those benefits. It seems worse than stupid and basically unjust.
I hope, Mr. Minister, that you will have something more positive to say in respect of this matter. I believe that in your own mind you appreciate the logic of the arguments advanced by Senator Cohen last evening when he advocated that some action ought to be taken immediately. It is not sufficient to say in a vague manner that something may be done in the not too distant future. I wonder whether the Minister has discussed the matter in the Cabinet room and whether Cabinet members have formed any views on it. I also wonder whether any definite statements have been made in Cabinet in relation to this matter. Perhaps the Minister could tell us. 1 hope that we do not have to wait much longer to see the elimination of this obvious and cruel anomaly.
Senator Wright referred to the Commonwealth benefit paid in respect of visits to a specialist and the necessity for a patient to bc referred by a general practitioner to obtain the maximum benefit. I agree that in 99 cases out of 100 there is every justification for the provision that a patient should be referred to a specialist by a general practitioner. However, I also believe that there is room for a degree of flexibility. 1 refer honorable senators to a hypothetical case on which 1 would like to hear (.he Minister’s views. A person who suffers a heart attack may be in a position where the only medical assistance available is from a specialist. The specialist may be called upon to attend and obviously that action makes him a patient’s gcner.il practitioner. The person who suffers the heart attack becomes the specialist’s patient, and the medical adviser becomes at least both general practitioner and specialist.
In such circumstances the requirement of reference by a general practitioner should not be rigidly applied, but it is quite obvious that as the Act stands at present, in the circumstances 1 have described, the patient would not be entitled to the maximum benefit payable in respect of a visit to a specialist. I believe that the Act should contain sufficient flexibility to include such cases. They have occurred and have involved hardship for the persons concerned. 1 should like to hear the Minister’s views on this matter. I should also like to hear from him something more specific in relation to the matter of the pensioner medical service entitlements raised last evening by Senator Cohen. It is a matter of which I am very conscious.
– I wish to draw the attention of the Minister to Division No. 250 and the provision in the Schedule which relates to the Biological Standards Laboratory. The provision for the X-ray and Radium Laboratory shows an increase of two in the section of the staff which includes the director, physicists and chemists. In the Biological Standards Laboratory the section of the staff which includes the director, assistant director, specialists,, chief chemists, chemists, chief bio-chemist and bio-chemists is to be increased by seven, from 21 to 28. The number of staff members in minor positions - -steno-secretaries, typists, technical officers, assistants and driver - goes from 22 in 1963-64 to 32 in 1964-65, which is an increase of 10. This is a fairly large anticipated increase. 1 wonder whether some other section or division has been absorbed. Could the Minister tell me the extent of the further services which will result from the increase of 33 per cent, in the senior ratings - that is, from 21 to 28 - and the increase of 10, from 22 to 32, in the more minor positions? The justification for these increases is not clear from the estimates, but I am sure the Minister or his officers can give us an explanation of what has occurred and what advantages will be gained. The Minister can say whether this is merely an amalgamation of sections, or the transfer to that department of staff from another department.
I come now to the staff for the national health service. I refer to the First Assistant Director-General, Assistant DirectorsGeneral, Medical Officer, Principal Matron, Assistant Principal Matron, Senior Pharmacist, Pharmacist and Chemist. In 1963-64, the number of positions provided for was four. This has been increased by 100 per cent; there is now provision for a staff of eight for the year 1964-65. In the senior ranks, there has been an increase of staff from 184 to 216. This is an increase of 32. I would like the Minister to tell me exactly how these increases have come about, the justification for them, and the extra services which will be expected from the national health service because of them. I would like an explanation from the Minister in regard to increases of these proportions which look somewhat large in comparison with the increases in other departments.
– I wish to discuss the matter of drugs and the price of drugs. 1 would like the Minister to see whether he can go a little further than what he told us about the way in which the Department of Health deals with drug companies in obtaining reductions in drug prices. The Minister says: “ We are a Liberal Party Government and we believe in free enterprise. We do not believe in forcing people to do things. We have our own methods of achieving results.” I heard Senator Dittmer speak about a saving of £2 million in the price of drugs, out of an amount of £43 million for pharmaceutical benefits. The drug industry all over the world is probably the most investigated industry there has been. It has been investigated by a commission in America, and it has also been investigated in Europe. This is because the drug industry seems to be a particularly dubious type of industry.
For a start, it advertises on a big scale. I suppose if you were looking for reasons and causes for this, you would find that Australian people have developed the pilltaking habit to a greater degree than the people of any country other than the United States of America. This habit is caused largely by the advertising of medical aids by these companies. They are our biggest national advertisers and they spend a fortune, millions of pounds, in advertising medicines which, 1 suppose, in any really well organised society they would not be allowed to advertise in a competitive way. They advertise medicines, because members of a neurotic community like reading about health.
I would like the Minister to have a look at Che report of a court case that was held in Sydney last year. This case was given wide publicity all over Australia and was referred to by one newspaper as the “ Bayer exposure “. Bayer Pharma, which is a world wide monopoly, handles aspirin products. The case in the New South Wales Supreme Court lasted for something like 12 months. It cost a lot of money. It arose out of an injunction which had been sought by Bayer Pharma, an American-owned company, to prevent Henry H. York from using the name Bayer and a device known as the Bayer Leverkusen cross on pharmaceutical products sold by Henry H. York. Giving his reasons for refusing this injunction, Mr. Justice Myers said that he found that the plaintiff - that is, Bayer Pharma - has used misrepresentation in its business and that this constituted a bar to the legal relief being sought. I wish to read some of the opinions expressed by Mr. Justice Myers about this extraordinarily large firm, which is a huge monopoly handling medicines and, in particular, the popular Aspirin tablets. His Honour said -
On any view the plaintiff’s Asprin tablets are falsely advertised as original or genuine Bayer’s Asprin. They are also falsely advertised as dissolving in two seconds.
We have all probably read of this test to show how long these Aspirins take to dissolve in water. The judge said that this statement is false. Mr. Justice Myers continued -
Bayer Pharma’s claims to have sold its asprins outside Australia in such phrases as “ used by millions all over the world “ are “ necessarily untrue “.
The purpose of the advertising could only be to attract to the plaintiff the benefit of the reputation of foreign manufacturers.
The newspaper article continues -
Mr. Justice Myers dealt in particular with advertising campaigns in the Australian foreign language Press, whose readers would know the German Bayer asprin. Advertisements, he said, were placed by the plaintiff in eight newspapers and in five European languages, but no place of manufacture was ever mentioned.
His Honour said -
A consideration of the plaintiff’s asprin trade shows that it has been a deceptive trade since 1939.
These remarks were made by a judge of the New South Wales Supreme Court. The newspaper article continues -
Turning to the plaintiff’s dealings in ethical products - those supplied to chemists only and resold by them on prescription- that is what ethical products are - the judge referred a list of 46 products supplied by defendant’s counsel, and records that Bayer Pharma’s counsel admitted that about these products “ For the most part incorrect statements “ had been made by the plaintiff.
I could go further into the judge’s comments about this major drug company, which manufactures 46 different tablets, or ethical products, and tell the Committee what the judge said about it. 1 cannot understand how the Minister for Health, on behalf of the Government, can say that he is confident about the position and satisfied to take the word of these people without investigating them fully. Probably, investigations are made concerning their statements as to their profits and that sort of thing, but the Minister does not seem to be prepared to tell us anything about how his Department operates and by what means it is getting such companies to reduce their prices. When a judge makes such comments as the ones to which I have referred about a major Australian company and the methods of that company, I do not think that that company at least can be trusted. Drug companies should not be allowed such great power in regard to matters of public health in this country, particularly after the evidence which I have just read to the chamber in connection with Bayer Pharma. There is a lot more of this evidence. The documents are available in the Library if any honorable senator wishes to read any more evidence in the case.
The Minister says that the price of drugs is coming down. I shall not go into details, but, generally speaking, a drug which costs £) in Great Britain costs from £3 10s. to £4 in Australia. That is a fairly accurate statement of the difference in prices between the two countries. That type of differentiation does not occur with motor cars or other products manufactured here and in Great Britain, even allowing for the exchange rate and other factors. On a conservative estimate, medicines bought in Australia are three times dearer than the same medicines bought in England. I express my fear that the Government is not investigating this matter closely enough.
The Minister will remember that the Prime Minister himself expressed great concern about the mounting costs of pharmaceutical benefits. It is possible that the Government will have to skimp in some spheres because of the exploitation that is being indulged in by the major drug companies. Many people who need lifesaving drugs are not getting them today because they cannot afford them. I know that the Government provides medical entitlement cards for pensioners but, as I think Senator Toohey said earlier today there are about 150,000 pensioners outside the scheme.
– I said there were approximately 100,000.
– I believe that the Minister should tell us a little more about what the Department does to see that the drug companies play the game with the Government and with the people of Australia.
.- Several matters that have been raised have been the subject of replies that I have made before. I do not intend any discourtesy if I refer honorable senators to what I have already said on those matters. I have nothing further to add. I shall make special reference to those items which I have not been in a position to deal with before. Senator McClelland referred to an improved type of artificial limb being developed for thalidomide children. The work in relation to this matter is being done by the Repatriation Department, financed by the Department of Health. I should like the honorable senator to know that the Government has set no ceiling to what it will spend to provide the best possible artificial limbs for these sufferers.
asked me to be more explicit than I was last night about the provision of entitlement cards for pensioners medical services. I said then that what I had to say would not satisfy either members on his side of the chamber or those on my side of the chamber. I emphasise that whilst honorable senators on my side have not, on this occasion, risen to press their views, they have been just as vocal, and just as determined, to place their views before the Government as honorable senators opposite have been. I said last night that the time might well come when this matter was again under review. I have nothing further to add at this stage.
Senator Cooke referred to an increase of the staff of the Biological Standards Laboratory. I am very happy to let him know that this increase flows from an expansion of the activities of the Laboratory, particularly in the bacteriological and pharmacological sections. This increase is essential if the activities of the Laboratory are to be kept operating at the required level.
asked for some information about the benefit available on the referral of a patient to a specialist. It is true that the legislation makes provision for a lesser benefit, if a patient makes direct contact with a specialist, than is the case when he is referred. Honorable ssenators will recall that I said last night that there is very good reason for this in the Government’s thinking. The whole of the Government’s scheme has been built round the general practitioner, and the reasons for that are, I think, generally accepted. In the circumstances described by Senator Toohey, if a specialist needs to continue treating a patient, the second, third and subsequent attendances are paid for at a increased rate. For the first contact a patient makes with a specialist without referral, he obtains a Commonwealth benefit of 8s., whereas if there is a referral the benefit is 25s. The subsequent payments are at the rate of 12s. If a patient goes direct to a specialist, he gets some Commonwealth benefit, although it is not as attractive as in the case where he is referred by a general practitioner.
– Do you see the need for some further flexibility?
– There are cases that, morally, might well demand some flexibility, but I think the honorable senator will concede that in Commonwealth legislation of this nature, or of any nature, it is very difficult to legislate for isolated cases. What we have to try to do, and what we do, is to devise legislation that does the greatest good for the greatest number. However, in many of these cases human sympathy has some effect upon a patient’s needs. You rarely find that a specialist will squeeze the last drop of blood out of a patient, particularly if the patient is in indigent circumstances. I believe that humanity itself removes some of the hardships that might otherwise occur.
– Would not flexi’bility ccontravene the Act?
– It would, but the flexibility of which I speak is a personal arrangement between the specialist and the patient. Specialists are just as human as anybody else.
– I am not saying that they are not.
– I know. I merely say that I think that that tends to alleviate hardship.
The great bulk of people who seek medical aid go automatically to their general practitioner, who refers them to a specialist if necessary. If, as the honorable senator suggested, a person had a heart attack and the only medical man available was a specialist, I am sure that the specialist would be as realistic in the charge that he .made for his services as anybody else would bc. I do not think there would be any real hardship on the individual.
Senator Ormonde had something to say about drug houses and the cost of drugs. He asked me to be more explicit and positive in retailing to the Senate the methods the departmental officers use in their negotiations. In passing, let me refer to something that was said yesterday by an honorable senator on the Opposition side. He directed my attention to a statement that drug price reductions had been the result of publicity in the Parliament and had, in fact, flowed from the protestations of members of the Opposition.
– That was never claimed. Be accurate.
– The spokesman for the Opposition says that was never claimed.
– Be correct. I will tell you what was said.
– I would be the last person to flatter the honorable senator by suggesting that his influence was so great that when he raised his voice in the Parliament on this matter, his voice was heard and heeded outside. Perhaps I have been over-estimating the volume and quality of the honorable senator’s voice. Let me develop my argument as briefly as I can. 1 remind the honorable senator, from newspaper reports I have seen recently, from published balance sheets and from the spoken words of the managements of some of the drug companies, I have the impression firmly imbedded in my mind that they charge the Commonwealth Government with responsibility for lowering their dividend rates. Honorable senators opposite may care to shift that accusation from my shoulders to their shoulders. I do not mind where the blame lies, so long as we succeed in continuing to get the prices of drugs reduced, as we have been doing so successfully in the last 12 or 18 months. It is immaterial who gets the blame or who gets the credit. It is the objective that is important.
Senator Ormonde said to me: “ I believe you should tell us just how you achieve this objective “. He suggests that the reductions arc encouraging but are not adequate. I can answer the honorable senator in a few words. What he says is perfectly true. We are a private enterprise government and we negotiate. The yardstick that we use is nol the amount of profit that a company is making. We have no jurisdiction to demand the production of a company’s manufacturing costs and profit margins. What we do is to examine the prices of drugs on world markets. It is as simple as that. We say to the companies: “ Can you justify the price margins that you have over the average price of this drug in other countries?” If they cannot, we suggest to them that they had better have a look at the price they are charging and do something about the matter.
Senator Ormonde also said that a drug that costs £1 in the United Kingdom today costs £3 or £4 in Australia. That is a general statement, and I am bound to say that generally it is not correct. I know that he would not make a statement knowing it to be incorrect. There might well be some odd instances of that, but, generally speaking, if one examines the prices of drugs on the free list that are sold to chemists today, one finds that there has been a steady and continuing decline in the high prices of the drugs to which reference has been made. I am not going to say that the prices of drugs in the United Kingdom and in Australia are entirely comparable. There are still some drugs in respect of which we wish to see further price reductions.
– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
– Regarding the Minister’s statement that members of the Opposition had alleged that the reduction in the excessive price of drugs was made following representations by the Opposition, I personally did not make such a claim. I do not think that members of the Opposition would be so self-assertive as to make a claim of that kind, or to claim credit in that respect. If we are to lay this matter on the table, we may as well do so bluntly, fairly and squarely. For a long time members of the Opposition have been protesting at the excessive prices of certain drugs, but they alone were not the only people who were protesting. The Minister should recall only too vividly a series of articles published in four or five issues of the “ Australian Financial Review “, in which a close analysis was made of .’he operations of many of these drug firms, it was not a complete analysis, but it was an analysis made within the limits of the information available. The publishers did an excellent job. We were not the only people attacking excessive drug prices.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I was in the process of replying to the allegation of the Minister for Health that the Opposition had claimed for itself credit for the reduction in the price of certain drugs, more particularly erythromycin and certain diuretics. The saving in one year was £2.7 million. The advice tendered to the Minister was quite incorrect. The Opposition, with its lack of self assertiveness, did not make any such claim. Let us get the position quite clearly. What was claimed was that, as a result of public protest, as a result of questions asked and publicity engendered by members of the Opposition, and as a result in no small measure of a series of articles in the “ Financial Review “ - I admit that some of them were not quite correct in certain details although basically and broadly they were correct - the price of certain drugs was reduced. The Opposition is entitled to some credit, but members of the Opposition did not claim credit on behalf of the Opposition. I certainly did not. What I did say was that what happened was coincidental wilh public protest and not just accidental.
I ask the Minister what is the attitude of the Director-General of Health and his staff towards the alleged association between smoking and lung cancer. Reference has been made to what happened at a meeting of the National Health and Medical Research Council in February or March in relation to this matter. Medical opinion throughout the world is not unanimous on this subject, but it would seem that statistically there is a cause and effect relationship between smoking and lung cancer. It is on the basis of that statistical information that many major bodies of medical opinion have sponsored this idea of cause and effect. Young people who have not yet embarked upon the habit of smoking may be exposed to real danger, but there has been no meeting of representatives of the States and the Commonwealth to determine what attitude shall be adopted towards cigarette smoking. Failure to take such action suggests a measure of dilatoriness.
This subject is important. A comparatively large percentage of people are dying from lung cancer. However, it is of no use to suggest that that is the result of cigarette smoking. The diagnosis of a greater number of cases of lung cancer may be the result of improved methods of diagnosis, an improvement in clinical acumen and so on. I repeat that world medical opinion is not unanimous about the association of cigarette smoking and lung cancer. Many other factors may be involved. In one State a mass radiographic survey was made and it was discovered that the incidence of lung cancer was much higher in the metropolitan area than in the rural areas. That does not necessarily prove anything unless one knows the age groups involved, habits and so forth. It was interesting to note that an analysis of the results in the metropolitan area revealed that the incidence of lung cancer in the inner metropolitan area was very much higher than in the suburban areas. Again, one would have to know the age groups involved, habits and so forth before being able to reach a conclusion.
It is the responsibility of the Government to recognise a large body of world medical opinion about the possible ill effects of cigarette smoking. I realise, on the other hand, that the Government, being in control of the treasury bench, has a responsibility to ensure that what we may regard as being a major primary industry is not disturbed unnecessarily and unjustifiably. I realise that the Minister for Health is placed in an extraordinarily difficult situation. Honorable senators who are older should set an example to young people by not smoking cigarettes.
– What about you young chaps?
– Perhaps the young ones would follow the examples of their elders, as they have done through the centuries in regard to both good habits and bad habits. But let us not get into an argument about environmental circumstances.
– Order! I ask the honorable senator to confine his remarks to the estimates.
– I was replying to a rude interruption from behind me.
– Order! The honorable senator will ignore the interruptions.
– I am directing my remarks to Division No. 250 - Administrative. It is all very well to say that the Federal Government has little power in this matter. To start with, it has control over television and radio advertising. If the advertisements we see and hear are not an inducement to young people to smoke, I do not know what their purpose is. I do not know, and I do not know whether anybody else here knows, the cost of such advertisements. These advertisements depict attractive young people, male and female, who are of good physique - I do not know what their mental equipment would be - who are engaged in active physical sport in an atmosphere of joyousness and pleasure and who are enjoying a particular brand of cigarette. The Government has complete control over these advertisements. I am satisfied not only that the Government has not attempted to control such advertisements in the interests of health and in the light of medical opinion that has been tendered to it, but also that it does not really control the advertising of medical and pharmaceutical products in general.
We have heard from other senators comments about the value of various ‘therapeutic substances and drugs that are produced by various firms. Let us not bc concerned just with substances that come within the ambit of the pharmaceutical benefits scheme and which involve an expenditure of just over £47 million a year. I suppose we could add another £8 million that is paid for other prescriptions. Possibly nobody knows just how much money is involved in the sale of patent medicines as distinct from ethicals, but it would not be unreasonable to assume that at least an extra sum of £40 million to £50 million is involved. Many of these products are advertised not only over the radio and by medium of television but also through the Press. 1 know that the Commonwealth Government cannot control advertising in the Press. The State Governments have a responsibility in that direction, but ‘hey have not discharged it. As everybody knows, extraordinary and unjustifiable claims are made over the radio and by means of television and the Press. I believe that those who are responsible for the manufacture of the products I have in mind know that they cannot justify their claims. I am not going to specify Menthoids or anything else. Everyone knows how many come up.
An extraordinary and extreme latitude seems to be extended to these people - why, I do not know. That is a matter for the Minister to explain. The situation is not peculiar to Australia. It has occurred in the United States and in other countries, and when inquiries have been made it has been found that the manufacturers of these products have a large measure of influence, not only with governments but also with newspapers, and that they can affect the policies of newspapers by means of the advertising revenue that they provide. I realise that the Director General of Health and his staff have multitudinous duties to perform, but if the staff is not sufficient the Government has a responsibility to look for more staff. It has done nothing through the many years it has been in power to provide extra graduates who might serve the Commonwealth or the States. Some of the States are doing something by way of fellowships, but the Commonwealth is doing nothing. It is not facing up to the future need for medical practitioners.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– Previously I raised with the Minis- ter a matter in respect of the increase in staff in certain sections of his Department. The Minister answered in relation to the Biological Standards Laboratory. He said that the increase of staff was due to the greater quantum of work. He said that the Laboratory was to have a greater output and that the increase was justified. However, I have no recollection of his answering my query in relation to the national health service. I believe that the officers enumerated under this heading would have supervisory duties in relation to this service. Unless Parkinson’s Law, which I think most of us understand, is applied to this particular increase in staff, there is need for the Minister to go more fully into the subject. In the highest bracket of officers, there has been an increase of 100 per cent, from four to eight. In the next section, which includes officers in a fairly high bracket - assistant directors-general, directors, assistant directors, executive officers, research officers, officers-in-charge investigations, investigation officers, and assistant investigation officers, the staff has increased by 32, from 184 to 216. That is an increase of about one-sixth of the original staff. As I say, unless Parkinson’s Law applies, or unless men have merely been given good classifications with rather grandiose names to do the same type of work without the Department being extended, the Committee needs some explanation.
I suggest to the Minister that it is incumbent upon him to give honorable senators some explanation as to why, in such an important section of the Department of Health, the top administrative staff has been increased from four to eight officers. Will the Minister say what the additional top administrative officers are doing? Are they taking up some of the matters which the Opposition has hammered consistently, such as deficiencies in the administration and checking of health services? I have mentioned an increase of 32 in such categories as assistant directorsgeneral, assistant directors, and investigation officers. Has the Government found that there are weaknesses which have rendered necessary an increase of 32 in this section of the administrative staff? I am not critical about it. You pay for efficiency whether you have it or not. I want to know the justification for the increases. Are they necessary? They cannot be due to the quantity of work. If they were due to the quantity of work, without further information from the Minister one would be led to believe that there had been a distinct deficiency in previous years and that certain work had been neglected, causing criticism in the Senate from time to time. Are the investigators investigating the prices of drugs or the provision of better services? Is the increase in staff for that purpose? Are the top administrators reorientating their approach to health services and has this caused a 100 per cent, increase in the top bracket of the Department?
The Minister might have overlooked my query quite inadvertently, but no information has been given about the matter. I should like to know exactly what has occurred to produce the big reorganisation and increase in the staff of this section. Who are .the officers who have been appointed and what are their duties? Was the quantity of work so great that an increase of 100 per cent, in staff had to be made? Were deficiencies found in the administration of that section which required a big uplift to get the more efficient result that we claimed was possible?
– I refer to the contributions to various organisations for which provision is made in Division No. 254. I should like to raise the matter of an application for a grant to the National Nursing Education Division of the Royal Australian Nursing Federation and. the National Florence Nightingale Committee of Australia. This organisation has written to me. I do not know whether it has written only to me or to all honorable senators. The correspondence suggests that the Division has for a long time made application for more contributions from the Commonwealth Government to further its work as a fact-finding and co-ordinating education centre to investigate problems of the nursing profession. These appear to be problems that concern us all. While we talk about the shortage of doctors we seem to forget the part that nursing plays in the health services of the Commonwealth. Hospital’s in South Australia have had to close because of the shortage or nonavailability of nurses from time to time.
It is apparent that the National Nursing Education Division has made repeated requests to the Commonwealth Government for some financial assistance to carry on its work. At no time has its application been rejected, but at no time bias it received a reply suggesting that it would be granted financial assistance. The Division raised the matter with the former Minister for Health, Dr. Donald Cameron, on 26th May 1961 - over three years ago. Subsequently, approaches were made to the present Minister for Health (Senator Wade) on 11th June 1962, to the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) on 20th August 1962, and to the Director of the Commonwealth Office of Education, Mr, W, J. Weeden, on 25th July 1963. All of those approaches were unsuccessful. Dr. Cameron replied that the matter would be considered when the 1962-63 Budget was being framed. The other approaches produced no better results. Although the Division has not been told definitely that its application has been rejected, it has been told that at some time in the future the matter will be considered. It is now 1964 and no grant has been made to the organisation. Nothing in the discussions suggest that any advance has been made.
The nursing organisations have expressed consternation at the present position as 40 to 50 per cent, of those who undertake nursing never complete the course. This suggests that in the meantime they have found some more attractive occupation. There is a wastage of about half those who begin nursing training. This is a huge proportion. In addition, an indeterminate number do not register as qualified nurses after graduation and are lost to the profession. There are between 2,800 and 3,200 graduations each year. This should be sufficient in a nation of only 11 million but for some reason there is an acute shortage of nurses.
At first blush it would appear that the nursing profession has no attraction and that girls find other employment. This is one of the questions the National Nursing Education Division is seeking to examine. For that reason, it has asked the Commonwealth Government to subsidise its activities. I have quoted from the Division’s correspondence on many occasions. It has asked for a subsidy so that it can continue and complete its survey. It cannot do so without a subsidy. The Commonwealth Government appreciates the importance of the matter and has. not notified the Division that its request has ‘been rejected but there has never been a complete answer stating whether it will assist or not.
The Division has asked for a subsidy of £10,000 per annum. When we study the Estimates we find that the Department of Health last year underspent its appropriation by about £233,000. In this context, £10,000 seems a small amount to pay for what would appear to be essential research to ascertain whether we can overcome the shortage of nurses. The nursing profession plays an important part in the health of the community. The Minister for Health should know something of this request since it has been directed to him. What is the Government’s attitude to the application by the National Nursing Education Division?
– I refer to medical services under Division No. 254. The Minister for Health may recall that the National Health and Medical Research Council recommended that ali adults in Australia should be vaccinated against smallpox. Was anything spent during the last financial year on publicity to encourage such vaccinations? Has any provision been made in the Estimates for this purpose during this financial year? Will the Minister for Health inform the Committee approximately how much money is being expended on vaccinations by the Commonwealth Government whether in the Territories, the Public Service, the armed Services, or in other ways?
.- Senator Dittmer made some comments on the relationship of smoking to lung cancer. I think the best reply I can give is to refer the honorable senator to what I said yesterday on this matter in reply to Senator Murphy. I have nothing to add to that statement. I set out in it as clearly as I could with my limited capacity what Government policy and thinking was on this matter. I apologise to Senator Cooke for not supplying him with information that he requested. I overlooked it but I hasten to remedy the situation. The increase in staff indicated in the Estimates results from the re-organisation of the Department of Health. This re-organisation was fully investigated by the Public Service Board and it was found necessary to re-organise the
Department to cope with its increasing activities. I believe Senator Cooke indicated he thought that might be the case. A Therapeutic Substances Section was established in 1963-64 and additional permanent staff was recruited for this section. I am sure the honorable senator will agree that because we are a national Government there are fields in which we can render a very effective service in safeguarding the health of the nation and we do not hesitate to give that service when we can. Additional appointments, have been necessary to meet the demands of the service we are attempting to give in this field.
Senator Cavanagh made a plea for assistance for the research project which has been undertaken on a State level by the nursing profession. I had something to say about this matter yesterday and I remind the honorable senator again that it comes under the jurisdiction of the Prime Minister’s Department. As that Department is handling the request to which he referred, it would be inappropriate for me to say any more than I said yesterday. I suggest to the honorable senator that he might raise this matter again when the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department are under consideration. Senator Murphy asked what the Commonwealth Government was doing regarding smallpox vaccinations. The Commonwealth Government has very adequate supplies of smallpox vaccine ‘available to the people. Stocks are held at the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories and as the honorable senator will know, the Commonwealth Government makes the vaccine available free of charge to State authorities.
– My question related more particularly to publicity.
– The publicity to encourage people to use the vaccine to immunise them against smallpox is the responsibility, not only of the Commonwealth Government, but also of the State Governments. We make it known far and wide that the vaccine is readily available free of charge and we never miss an opportunity to let that be known to the people, particularly those who are engaged in undertakings which bring them into contact with travellers from overseas. We stress this repeatedly and will continue to do so. I have not at my disposal the actual figures sought by the honorable senator concerning the cost or the value of vaccine we supply in the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory or the States but if 1 can get this information for Senator Murphy, 1 shall do so.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Proposed expenditure, £24,622,000.
– At the outset let me refer to the fact that although last year’s allocation for this Department was £21,977,230, expenditure was only £19,804,561, leaving over £2 million of the appropriation unexpended. I direct attention to this kind of overestimating, which is apparent in the case of most departments. Now let me refer to Division No. 600 - Administrative - with particular reference to salaries and allowances. I point out that page 167 mentioned in item 01 is incorrect. The correct page number is 21 1.
I want to deal with item 15 under the heading “ Administrative Expenses “, which refers to fees for private architects and consultants. The appropriation for this year is £675,000. Last year’s appropriation was £650,000 and expenditure was £586,997, leaving about £63,000 unexpended. According to the information shown on page 211, there are in the Department executive engineers and executive architects, for whom an appropriation of £62,000 is being sought. The specific number in each classification is not stated. There are 1,218 employees in the next group, which includes architects and cadet architects. In this group also specific numbers in the various classifications have not been stated. Dividing the number of classifications into the total number of employees, there is an average of 81 in each classification, but £675,000 has been allocated for payment to architects and consultants outside the Department. I should like the Minister, if he can, to explain the exact position.
The second last item on page 211 provides for an appropriation of £6,797,000, but almost one-seventh of that amount - £973,000 - is not expected to be expended. I should like the Minister to explain that also. Why is £973,000 expected to remain unexpended? In an appropriation covering over 3,000 employees in many classifications, one could expect some amount to remain unex pended, but when that amount reaches about one-seventh of the total appropriation I think it is evidence of very untidy bookkeeping. Another noticeable fact is that there has been an increase of 45 in the number of employees and that the additional appropriation for salaries is almost £270,000. Unless there is expected to be a large increase in the remuneration of the employees generally, that amount seems to be fairly large, having regard to the fact that only 45 extra people are employed.
The next item with which I want to deal under the heading “ Administrative Expenses” is the appropriation of £6,000 for payments under the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act. Last year’s appropriation was £9,300 and expenditure was £8,595. The appropriation for this year is being reduced by over one-third. In any case, I am a little puzzled about the reason for the appropriation of £6,000. Is this amount to be paid into the Treasury, or to the commissioner appointed under the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act, in the form of premiums? Is it for compensation payments to employees? I appreciate that quite a number of workers in this Department would be in rather sedentary occupations, for which premium rates in outside industry would be comparatively low because the accident rate would not be very high. Nevertheless, an appropriation of £6,000 for 3,609 employees seems to be rather low. If it represents payments in respect of claims for compensation, this expenditure and last year’s expenditure of £8,595 seem to be rather low and would indicate that there is room for some increase in the level of compensation payments. It is also remarkable that this year’s appropriation represents a reduction by onethird on last year’s allocation, despite the fact that in the Budget Speech we were told that the Workers Compensation Act would be amended some time during this sessional period with a view to increasing benefits paid to injured employees.
I turn now to item 10, which covers motor vehicles and refers to maintenance and running expenses, including the use of private vehicles for departmental purposes. The appropriation this year is £327,000. Last year’s appropriation was £310,000 and £308,000 was expended. I should like to have a breakup of this proposed expenditure.
What is the reason for using private vehicles? What number of private vehicles are used? Would not the expenditure of £320,000 on the purchase of additional vehicles be more economical over a period than paying for the use of private vehicles for departmental purposes? I should like to know also the type of vehicles concerned. Are they trucks used in construction works? Are they motor cars used for the transportation of officers? What type of private vehicles are being used to warrant an appropriation of £320,000?
Item 04 relates to office services, the appropriation for which is £90,000 as compared with last year’s expenditure of £75,000. 1 would like to know what type of office services the Department is expecting to obtain for £90,000. Obviously a service is provided for the Department, but I think that the Senate is entitled to receive more information than is contained in the blunt item: “ Office services £90,000”.
Recently we debated a bill which contained provision to set up a Commonwealth Bureau of Roads. During the debate it was hotly contended that the Bureau would conduct research into road construction and into the uses of all types of materials to improve our roads. The Bureau is to be financed by appropriations made from time to time by this Parliament. Yet in Division No. 600, sub-division 2 there is an item of £23,5000 relating to the Commonwealth’s contribution to the Australian Road Research Board. If we are to have a Commonwealth Bureau of Roads to conduct research, it is time we asked whether we should be contributing to another road research organisation. It is considered that our roads are of sufficient importance to warrant the setting up of a Bureau with a full time chairman, and no doubt with a staff surrounding him, and part time officers to assist with research. The Bureau should be equipped to conduct all the research that is necessary and the contribution of £23,500 to the Australian Road Research Board would then be unnecessary. I would like the Minister to furnish some information on that matter.
In Division No. 610 - Buildings, Works, Fittings and Furniture - the appropriation for 1963-64 was £9,603,630; the expenditure in that period was £7,571,929. It seems to me to be abnormal that the expenditure should fail to reach the appropriation by more than £2 million. To be exact, the amount under-expended was £2,031,701. For 1964-65 the appropriation for Division No. 610 has been increased to £11,009,000. Most of the increase is contained in the proposed expenditure for the Department of Civil Aviation, the appropriation for which has been increased over last year’s expenditure by £2,333,253. If this amount is disregarded, the appropriation for Division 610 for 1964-65 is about £301,000 less than it was last year.
Contained in the list of departments in this Division is one of the most important organisations operated at present by the Commonwealth Government. I refer to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. Last year the appropriation for the C.S.I.R.O. exceeded its expenditure by almost £200,000. Does this mean that the affairs of the C.S.I.R.O. are being restrained, or that it is prevented from obtaining equipment or materials necessary to carry out the programme placed before the Government prior to the Estimates being drawn up? The appropriation for the Department of Customs and Excise last year in Division No. 610 was £615,000, but the expenditure was only £361,762. The appropriation of £806,000 for this year exceeds the expenditure for last year by about £444,000. This pattern of appropriation exceeding expenditure is apparent throughout the list of departments in this Division. For the Department of the Interior the appropriation last year was £1,542,000. The expenditure was £1,022,930, or about £500,000 less than the appropriation.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I ask Senator Benn to pardon me for rising now, but I do so because a great number of points of detail were referred to by Senator Cant. I would like to reply to them while they are fresh in my mind. The first point raised by Senator Cant was that there had been considerable underspending in the Department last year. That is factually correct. Later, when I come to some other points he has raised, I shall refer to the departments on whose capital works the underspending occurred. Indeed, the honorable senator mentioned them towards the end of his speech. I take the opportunity now to say that in a programme as large as that of the Department, a good deal of the underspending is due to these factors: Delays in the finalising of the letting of contracts; alterations by client departments which require replanning; weather conditions and other factors interfering with the completion of construction programmes and things of that kind. Senator Cant correctly stated the facts.
The suggestion that private architects and consultants be used was adopted by the Department a number of years ago and has since been pursued. Work loads are not consistent. Peaks and troughs occur in the work loads of the Department and private architects and consultants are engaged according to the varying requirements of client departments. Apart from the physical effect of using private architects and consultants, I believe -that as a matter of policy it is useful to have them engaging to some extent in this field.
asked why an amount of only £6,000 has been appropriated in respect of payments under the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act. The amount appropriated is not for premiums. It is a notional amount appropriated for payment of claims which may occur during the year. The actual amount required may be higher or lower as the year progresses. In any case, if claims arise which the Commonwealth employees’ compensation section of the Treasury says must be met by the Department, they will be met. The amount of £6,000 is a guess at what the requirement will be.
I turn now to the item in sub-division 2 which relates to motor vehicles. The greater part of the money used under this heading is expended on hire cars or payments to the Department of Supply for the use of cars provided by that Department. An extremely minor amount is provided for payment to officers who use their private cars in particular circumstances. At the moment I do not know exactly how much is paid to those officers but I can find it out for the honorable senator. Most of this amount is for payment to the Department of Supply for the use of hire cars for particular purposes. Senator Cant asked what office services were supplied. They are such things as fuel, light, power, water supply, sanitation, office cleaning, payment in lieu of rates, and all sorts of operational costs associated with the installation of air conditioning in plant workshops, stores and offices, particularly in the Northern Territory. Included also are cleaning costs for new plant workshops in the Northern Territory. The additional amount is necessary to cover the expenditure for a full year in regard to increases in electricity rates, cleaning rates and other charges which have gone up lately. The additional amount relates to matters of that kind concerning the general running of the many offices which are under the control of the Department of Works.
Senator Cant referred to the payment of £23,000 to the Australian Road Research Board. What the future requirements will be, I do not know; but the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads to which the honorable senator has referred is not functioning, I believe, at this moment. This appropriation is to cover the Commonwealth’s contributions to the Australian Road Research Board. This Board provides a national centre for road research information, forthe correlation and co-ordination of road research activities and makes available the appropriate information relating to such matters. The Commonwealth Government contributes 10 per cent, of the cost of that organisation which is functioning at the moment.
The under-spending evident in approximately 90 per cet of the estimates of this Department is concentrated in Division No. 610, which Senator Cant has discussed. This is expenditure on capital works for client departments. A great deal of it is in relation to the Department of Civil Aviation, and a large proportion of that amount is for the contracts for Tullamarine airport and for Mascot airport. These two major contracts, for various reasons, could not be let by the Department of Works at the time it was thought that they would be, although they have now been let and work has begun. I could go into far more detail in regard to the under-expenditure for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation when the estimates for that body are under consideration. I remember going into a number of those items during the year. When dealing with scientists who want to- have a particular kind of construction, one finds that it is not at all uncommon for them either because they change their minds or because of the progress of their knowledge to require some change in design which necessarily requires the postponement of the beginning of some construction. This is particularly true in one case which comes to my mind. This relates to some special wooden construction which was required in order not only to erect a building but also to demonstrate the new ways in which wood could be used. The contractor did not fully understand the requirement beforehand and this caused delay. I think I have covered all the points which Senator Cant raised. If not, he can refer to me again anything that I have omitted.
.- I wish to refer, to two items. The first is in relation to fees of private architects and consultants. It may be noted that the appropriation for 1963-64 was £650,000, and expenditure was £586,997. The appropriation sought for this year is £675,000. It has to be admitted that the sum is large. I stand here as a senator who is not satisfied with that amount at all. I want to know who decides that architectural work to be undertaken for the Department of Housing shall be performed by private architects and consultants. Who makes that decision? Is there a recognised procedure? Are there safeguards so far as public funds are concerned? Is there any protection for the public? I know that the Government, in respect of all this work, lis above reproach, but in the existing situation it could happen that public servants were letting work out to private contract.
I am not satisfied for a very sound reason. I point out that the number of positions in the Department of Works last year was lj 173 - Construction managers, controller of works, regional officers, district officers, engineers, architects, aboriculturist, supervising quantity surveyors, senior quantity surveyors, quantity surveyors, cadet engineers, and cadet architects. This year the number of positions is increased to 1,218. What is the situation? Cadet architects and architects are provided for in the vote. It is not a small sum that is being sought. Last year, the appropriation was £2,639,763. This year, £2,909,040 has been asked for. I would like the Minister to answer this question: Is work let out to private architects and consultants while the architects and cadet architects of the Department of Works are twiddling their thumbs in their offices? Such a situation could happen. I am protesting about this state of affairs for a particular reason. The Department takes on so many cadet engineers a year - it has been doing so for quite a few years - and I fully endorse that arrangement. Their services must be utilised as best they can, before they get their degrees, but after they have passed their university examinations and have their diplomas, what happens then? Are they taken on? Are they employed as cadets under a bond to serve the Department for a certain, period? If they are, are they employed in the offices of the Department of Works? Are they given sufficient work to keep them employed?
I look at the situation in this way: The Department of Works is not going to operate just for this year, next year, and a few years ahead. It is going to operate: for several centuries. It has, even at this stage, a rough idea of the work which will have to be performed in the next 5, 10 or even 20 years. It could regulate the number of cadet architects to be taken on this year in the various establishments in the capital cities of the States. They could then be employed by the Department. What is happening is that the Department is asking for funds for men employed on a weekly salary as architects - and I assume they are architects who have been cadet architects with the Department - ‘and also for money for work to be carried out by private architects. I do not want the Minister to give me a great deal of information about this subject, but I want certain assurances from him. I want to be assured that the architects employed permanently by the Department of Works are fully employed and are not whiling away their time doing crossword puzzles.
I do not see the necessity for letting any work, out to private architects. There could not be a rush or work in the Department of Works if the Department were to regulate its affairs in a businesslike way. If the Opposition does not object to this practice, it could go on indefinitely. I think it is time that an end was put to it. The Department has been functioning long enough to have its own architects. If a special job cropped up at, say, Alice Springs, and the Department engaged a private firm of architects, that would be quite all right, but when the Department is doing its major work around large cities and towns I cannot see any reason why that work should not be carried out by its own architects.
– I refer to Division No. 610, which relates to buildings and works. I would like the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) to tell me, first, whether the Department has a project for building more fiats or homes in .South Australia for the Department of Supply. In previous reports reference has been made to this, but I have not seen any reference to it in the present report, although I know that there is a shortage of accommodation at Woomera.
My next question may have some relation to items 10 and 11 of Division No 610, which refer to the Department of the Interior and the Department of Labour and National Service respectively. I have asked questions previously about the construction of a Commonwealth office block in Adelaide, in view of the construction of such blocks in Melbourne and Brisbane. I have pointed out that there are 27 sections of the Commonwealth Public Service paying rent to private enterprise for accommodation in Adelaide. The State Government is building an office block in that city. If the Commonwealth were to do the same, it would save the amount that is now being paid in rents, and the necessary facilities would be provided for Commonwealth departments. The answers that I have been given are to the effect that the matter is under consideration. I should like to know whether the Department of Works has any construction project in hand, or whether designs are being prepared.
I cannot find in the document we are considering any reference to capital amounts paid for vehicles, plant and equipment. In Division No. 600, item 10, an amount df £320,000 is shown in relation to the maintenance and running expenses of motor vehicles. Where can I find the amount which has been spent on the purchase of vehicles? I ask .also: To what extent does the Department attempt to purchase Australian-made vehicles and Australian-made earth moving plant, cranes and so on, for the very important work that it is doing? If the first two questions I have asked should be more appropriately dealt with under other headings, I should like to be told that that is so. If these projects are under consideration, I would think that some information would have been given to the Department.
– One project is the possible construction of Commonwealth offices in Adelaide?
– Yes, and the other is the construction of houses and flats at Woomera. Houses there are in short supply.
There is also a minor question in which I am interested. I refer to Division No. 610, item 11. Why has the amount spent on behalf of the Department of Labour and National Service decreased from £83,000 to £42,000? Is it because of a reduced amount of maintenance?
.- Let me reply first to the points raised by Senator Bishop. The Department of Works has not received any instructions from the Department of the Interior to build Commonwealth offices in Adelaide. As the honorable senator knows, the Department of Works builds for clients, not in its own right. Buildings or homes at Woomera would not be included in these estimates; they would be found in the estimates of the Department of Defence. I will tell the honorable senator later whether the Department has received any requests from that client. Road making equipment is always bought after tenders are called by the Department of Works.
– What amount has been spent? Where can I find it in the documents?
– I will come to that. In relation to plant and equipment, the total amount spent is shown in Division No. 600.
– My last question related to homes built for personnel at Woomera.
– T have mentioned that the cost of homes for personnel there is included in the defence vote. The honorable senator also asked why there has been a reduction in the amount of money spent on behalf of the Department of Labour and National Service. That Department has not asked the Department of Works to spend the same amount of money this year. The amount of work we have been asked to do for that Department this year has been reduced by the amount indicated.
Senator Benn raised the question of the employment of private architects and engineers. I give him an assurance that architects and engineers employed by the Department of Works are in no sense not fully employed and that they do not sit around passing the time in any of the ways the honorable senator suggested. They are fully employed. Young men who are cadet engineers or cadet architects work for the Department under bond for some time after they obtain their degrees. They cannot be retained in the Department after their bonds expire unless they wish to stay.
I do not think it can be said, as Senator Benn suggested, that there cannot be a rush of work or peaks and troughs in the activities of the Department of Works. The Department has, of course, to meet the requirements of client departments. A department may have an increased demand for work in a particular year and desire the work to be done quickly. If the Parliament votes the money, the Department of Works has to carry the work out as quickly as it can. In the following year the same amount of work may not be required. There is no steady growth in the work performed by the Department of Works. The volume is subject to variation from year to year. It would be much easier if the Department knew that there would be a steady increase in its work, with no peaks and troughs, but it has to meet the requirement of other departments. However, all the architects and engineers are fully employed, and the Department is continually looking round for more staff
– I should like the Minister to consider the -position of the Department in Tasmania. From what I know, the Department there is understaffed with fully qualified personnel. When the Commonwealth Department of Works wants a job done in Tasmania, it has to take qualified members of its staff from Victoria to Tasmania. I understand from building contractors and other people that this results in a delay in the progress df the work, not only in the preparatory plans, but also in the carrying out of the construction. I think it would be an interesting exercise if the Minister were to get a return of the travelling expenses, and accommodation expenses paid by the Department of Works to employees who have to go from Victoria or some other place to Tasmania, and compare the amount with the amount involved in having fully qualified people permanently employed in Tasmania. A comparison could be made of the cost involved and the delay in the work done by the Department of Works in Tasmania.
– I. wish to raise one or two matters with the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton). I first refer to Division No. 600 - Administrative. So far as I can ascertain, there appears to be no annual report issued by the Department of Works itself. I have seen a works programme report or a works review setting out the work that has been done and the work that it is envisaged will be done in the future. Senator Marriott raised an important matter regarding the staffing of the Department. I wish to refer to this matter under another sub-heading. I suggest to the Minister that if no annual report can be made to members of the Parliament, at leas: a resume of the operations and the staffing of the Department could be made. We might then have a better breaking down than there is at the moment.
The next matter to which I wish to refer is Division No. 600, sub-division 1, item 02, relating to temporary and casual employees. We find that for this financial year an amount of £2,846,000 is to be set aside for the payment of wages and salaries to temporary and casual employees. This seem? to be a quite astronomical amount when une sees that total amount of salaries and allowances shown on page 211 is less than twice that amount. I should like the Minister to inform me of the nature of the temporary employment, and also of the nature of the casual status.
I wish to draw the attention of the Minister, as did my colleagues, Senator Cant and Senator Benn, to Division No. 600, sub-division 2, item 15, relating to fees of private architects and consultants. When one peruses the schedule on page 21 1 one sees that in the professional category of construction managers, controller of works, architects and so on there is an establishment of 1,218 officers for this particular year. I should like to be informed of the approximate number of those 1,218 officers who are qualified architects because this amount of £675,000 for the payment of fees to private architects and consultants is considerably more than the amount that was actually expended last financial year.
I now turn to Division No. 600, subdivision 3, item 01, relating to plant and equipment. We see that an amount, of £1,340,000 appears under the heading “ Plant and Equipment “. If one turns again to the starring of the department one sees that, in the main, the officers appear to be In the professional and clerical categories. I would like to know the type of plant and equipment that is covered by this amount of £1,340,000 and how often it is used. If we refer to the sub-division dealing with administrative expenses, we see items relating to field, laboratory and radio testing equipment, site investigations and surveys, motor vehicles, and other machinery matters. I would like to know the nature of the plant and equipment that has been lumped together and covered by the somewhat large sum of £1,340,000.
Finally, I direct the Minister’s attention to Division No. 620, sub-divisions 1 and 2, relating to recoverable expenditure in regard to other administrations. Those two subdivisions seem to involve expenditure incurred in the United Kingdom. I notice that for last year there was an appropriation of £195,000, less amounts to be received from the United Kingdom Government of £195,000, whereas in actual fact, despite the appropriation involved, the expenditure incurred was £156,789 and the amount recovered from the United Kingdom Government was £168,745. The amount that is to be provided this year is £153,000. Perhaps the Minister could give me a breakdown of that item and indicate the type of expenditure involved in this regard in the United Kingdom.
– First, I want to refer to Division’ No. 615 - Repairs and Maintenance, and to the attitude of the Department of Works towards apprentices. I know that the Commonwealth Government, like all governments when they are dealing with the general Public Service, observes union conditions. The Government’s relations generally with the union organisations are very good. But I am wondering whether the Department of Works is conscious of its responsibilities regarding apprentices. We know that the apprenticeship question concerns the Government, and it concerns the Australian Labour Party also. The question may involve too much detail for the Minister to answer it off the cuff, but I ask: What is the position regarding apprentices in the Commonwealth Department of Works? Does the Department jealously observe the laws that it wishes other people to observe regarding the ratio of apprentices to skilled workers? Of course, I am referring to skilled workers as distinct from architects and the top flight of professional workers.
If the Department has difficulty in getting contractors to carry out their obligations regarding apprentices, would it be prepared to include in its stipulations when calling tenders that the contractors should do something about employing the correct number of apprentices in relation to the number of skilled tradesmen involved. I think that the Government might be able to give a lead to the contractors, particularly in the building trade where the difficulty with apprentices is greater than in any other trade. I know that the Government and those interested in giving protection to apprentices and developing the apprenticeship scheme experience the greatest difficulties in the building trade. I ask the Minister whether he will give me his views on the problems I have just raised.
– In reply to Senator Marriott, I indicate that I shall look at the situation which he suggests might exist in Tasmania to see whether it would have the effect which he thinks it might have on work done by the Department of Works in that State.
I shall deal now with the points raised by Senator McClelland. First, he was interested in a breakdown of a sum of money indicated as being spent in the United Kingdom in 1963-64 and of the sum received back from that country. That sum appropriated was for work done by the Department of Works on behalf of the United Kingdom at Maralinga in Australia. The reason why more is shown as having been received from the United Kingdom than was spent is that there was included payment by the United Kingdom for other work done. In reply to the honorable senator’s inquiry about what is included in plant and equipment, I point out that a tremendous number of component articles is involved. Most of it probably is earthmoving equipment. It would include cranes, trench diggers and various other kinds of machinery used in moving earth or in building processes. The note prepared by the Department states that the Department’s procedure is to purchase new and replacement items of plant and vehicles for transfer to the Works Suspense Trust Account. The plant is used on projects executed by the Department and a hire charge is made by the Department for the use of the plant if it is used by a contractor who has not full facilities of his own. It would require several pages to set out all the items of plant and equipment. I am sure that the honorable senator will have seen on building construction sites many of the pieces of equipment that are covered in the item to which he referred.
No annual works report is published. Even if one were to be put out, I am not quite sure what form it would take. As the honorable senator knows, a White Paper is put out each year which indicates What the Department of Works has done for various client departments, and in the Estimates each year there is an indication of the staffing of the Department. I shall ascertain whether there is any scope for such a report.
– I was thinking of the administrative side - the staffing arrangements.
– I shall look at the matter to see whether such a report would be helpful to honorable senators. Senator Ormonde asked for information about apprentices. The Department of Works does employ apprentices and it operates in close consultation with the Department of Labour and National Service in an effort to set an example. However, the field in which apprentices can he employed ‘by the Department of Works is rather restricted. We do not insist upon a contractor having a certain number of apprentices before he is awarded a contract by the Department on behalf of a client department. In arriving at a decision to let a contract we are guided by the price ‘that is quoted by a reputable builder who is known to have enough funds to be able to complete the building within the time in which he says he can complete it. Subject to that requirement, we bring to the attention of firms Which deal with us the fact that it is in their interests and ours that they should do their best to employ apprentices. We do not require them to employ a certain number of apprentices before they get a contract.
– I have been interested in the replies of the Minister for Works !to various questions asked by honorable senators. I wish to return to the provision for temporary and casual employees in sub-division 1 of Division No. 600 - Administrative. I ask the Minister, in relation to the use of private architects, whether tenders are called for the architectural work that is to be performed or whether architects are simply engaged from outside the Department. How are they paid? Are they paid a lump sum for the particular work to be performed? Are they paid a percentage of the cost of the work? When we look at the schedule of salaries and allowances we find that in the current year 1,218 construction managers, engineers, architects and so forth will be employed at a cost of £2,909,000. That seems to me to be a particularly large sum. To that we must add another sum of approximately £J million for fees to private architects and consultants. I should like the Minister to give us some idea of the number of architects and cadet architects who are engaged by the Department.
Like Senator Benn, I am unable to conceive of high peaks and low valleys in the performance of architectural work. We have before us a programme of works that are to be undertaken during the year. I appreciate that more work might be performed next year than in this year and that in the following year less work might be performed. But generally speaking, the work would flow fairly evenly and not a great number of outside architects would be required. As I have indicated, provision is made under the heading “Administrative Expenses “ for the fees of private architects and consultants. It would be interesting to know how many architects are envisaged in this item. The sum to be provided would allow for the employment of more than 170 architects at £4,000 a year.
I asked a number of questions of the Minister and he was careful to ensure that he replied to the various points I raised. However, he failed to reply to my question about the second last item which appears in the schedule of salaries and allowances for the Department of Works. I draw the Minister’s attention to the item “ Less amount estimated to remain unexpended - £973,794 “. That is equal to approximately one-seventh of the appropriation for salaries and allowances. I should like the Minister to tell me how a department can seek an appropriation of approximately £6 million for this purpose and then say that it will not spend one-seventh of it. I have no doubt that there is a very good reason for setting out the appropriation in this way, but this is quite a large amount. I ‘think we are entitled to be satisfied about it.
One of the documents supplied with the Budget Papers was entitled “Civil Works Programme 1964-65 “. In Division 610, item 14, under the heading “ Prime Minister’s Department “ the following summary appears -
I do not question the amounts, except in item 13 of Division No. 610, which shows a programme amounting to £9,901, in relation to which only £8,000 is to be expended. Surely this works programme could be completed with the expenditure of an extra £1,900. We find that the Department of Civil Aviation works programme amounts to about £15 million, of which only about £5 million is expected to be expended. One can appreciate that the whole amount cannot be expended in one year. Physically, the work cannot be done in one year, particularly when we consider a large construction job such as the Tullamarine airport. This is a matter that could have been argued this morning in relation to the estimates for the Department of Health.
Item 15 in Division No. 610 shows Works in progress, £333,537 and proposed new work, £441,900, in a total programme of £775,437. The estimated expenditure for 1964-65 is £497,000. In my opinion, it is not physically impossible to complete this work this year. Extension of hot water radiation to pavilion wards and quarters at the Concord Repatriation General Hospital remains uncompleted. The balance remaining at 30th June 1964 for further expenditure was £3,426. The point I make is that the total amount remaining unexpended under this item extends over various States. It does not relate to one big job, which would be physically impossible to complete. It relates to small jobs to be performed in various States. In Victoria, at the Heidelberg Repatriation General Hospital, replacement of boilers has not yet taken place. In South Australia, at the Springbank Repatriation General Hospital the erection of two 32-bed wards is uncompleted. There might be some physical impediment there; I do not know. In Western Australia, at the Hollywood Repatriation General Hospital, further expenditure is required on the provision of automatic stokers and grit arrestors in the boiler house. There have been complaints about this for a considerable number of years. At this hospital also, there is provision for the erection of an operating theatre block. There is provision for the erection of a ward and kitchen at the Hobart Repatriation General Hospital. The total amount authorised in respect of all of these projects is £645,882, of which £238,251 remains to be expended.
In relation to the erection of the two wards at the Springbank Repatriation General Hospital, there may be a shortage of tradesmen or material, which renders completion of the work physically impossible. The completion of the other works does not appear to be physically impossible. It is disturbing to me that although there is a programme, only about half of it is to be completed this year. If the repatriation general hospitals throughout Australia are in the same condition as hospitals for the general public, there must be a big shortage of repatriation hospital facilities. If this is so, these are projects that should be proceeded with expeditiously.
In reply to Senator McClelland, who asked a question in relation to Division No. 600 - Works Services - item 01, Plant and Equipment, the Minister replied that the expenditure of £1,340,000, was broadly in respect of earth moving equipment. This means that the Department of Works must be gathering round it a considerable amount of earth moving plant and construction plant generally. Yet, we know that much of the work that is performed by this Department is performed under contract. It would be interesting to know whether, when these contracts are let, the contractors use Department of Works equipment, or whether they provide their own. If so much of the work is to be let out to contractors, why does the Department require such a great amount of equipment? Is the equipment fully employed, or is it standing idle in some places and deteriorating? Has the Department sufficient equipment to perform its own works without resorting to the letting of contracts?
The letting of contracts for works is one of the most damaging systems in relation to the training of apprentices. The indenture period in most apprenticeship trades is five years. Only people who can see five years’ work in front of them are able to take on and train apprentices for the full period. If they run out of work, they have to endeavour to transfer the apprentice somewhere else. If they do not, they go before a State apprenticeship board and may get into trouble. The day labour system, which provides for continuity of work, is ideal for the training of apprentices. It would be interesting to know how much of this Department’s works are performed by contract and how this is affecting the apprenticeship training scheme.
– I shall answer first the point raised by Senator Cant when he first spoke, which I forgot to answer previously. He referred to an amount estimated to remain unexpended. The item is set out in this way in relation to this Department as it is in relation to nearly all other departments which appear in the Schedule to the Bill. This comes about because there is an authorised establishment for the people who may be employed by the Navy, Amy, Air Force, the Department of Works, or any other Department. It is thought unlikely that the Department of Works will be able to recruit the number of people required to fulfil its establishment. For Treasury reasons it is necessary to set out the total amount which would be required if the full establishment were recruited and then to show the amount estimated to remain un expended, in relation to the persons whom it will not be possible to recruit and for whom money will therefore not be required.
In some sense, this helps to answer the other point raised by the honorable senator in relation to requirements for private assistance to the Department for various works. I think that the way in which this is set out in the Department of Works’ estimates tends to be rather misleading and I shall try to see that it is not so misleading in future. In fact this entry does not apply only to architects and consultants. It might have been clearer if it had specified private architects, private engineers, private quantity surveyors and other private professional people of that kind. These are people who assist the Department.
The honorable senator asked why the whole of the money required for various works in the civil works programme could not be voted in one appropriation. He referred to buildings, works, fittings, furniture and various other items under Division No. 610 for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the Department of Civil Aviation and the Department of Primary Industry. The burden of what he was saying was that proposed works, in one case, required £9,901 but a vote of only £8,000 is proposed for this year. The honorable senator asked why the whole amount could not be voted in one sum. The answer, I think, is that provision for these works is a continuing process from year to year. For example, the appropriation for one item is £1,401. The total cost of the work might be many times that amount. This £1,401 is a carryover from last year to complete works which were begun a year before.
The proposed new work will have a total cost of £8,500 but it will not be completed in this financial year and there will be an amount of £1,900 carried over next year just as £1,401 was carried over this year. This provision covers the Department’s target for that part of the works to be carried out during this year. The total cost when finished is the amount put down as new works, but the full amount is not appropriated in one year.
As to plant, the Department requires various kinds. The amount provided in the estimates for plant does not indicate necessarily that the pool of plant and equipment owned by the Department is increasing in size. I am sorry I cannot give precise figures but a large proportion of the amount provided would be for replacement by new plant of items of equipment which were worn out and had been disposed of during the year. I have no doubt there is an increase in plant and equipment each year but it is not to the full amount set out in the estimates for the Department of Works. The vote does not represent all new equipment. In some cases, the plant and equipment is used directly by the Department of Works itself when it is carrying out its own works; in other cases, it is hired to contractors who may require one or two items of equipment.
On the question of whether day labour or contract is the most suitable arrangement for building public works, I cannot give an answer to the honorable senator because this is not a specific question. Rather, it is a matter of making up one’s mind as to the correct policy. Personally, I would not agree with the honorable senator but it is not possible to give him a precise answer on this question as it was in the case of others.
– I raised a matter with the Minister for Works which he has probably overlooked. I referred to Division No. 600 - Administrative - and the item “Temporary and Casual Employees, £2,846,000 “. This is nearly half the amount set out under Division No. 600 for permanent officers. Will the Minister indicate the nature of the temporary and casual employees because the amount involved seems to be quite large having regard to the total vote for the Department of Works?
– The Department of Works employees consist of permanent staff of various grades and temporary staff. Those employed on the temporary staff are temporary either because they have not the qualifications to become permanent or because they wish to be temporary and to be employed for, perhaps one or two jobs The appropriation last year for this item was £2,631,000 compared with proposed expenditure of £2,846,000. There are various reasons for the increase in this appropriation.
One is increments totalling £18,000. There, is also the fact that certain salaries and increments have to be paid for a full year, whereas last year they had to be paid for only part of the year. That requires £92,000. There is a provision for staff recruitment to vacant positions which requires £41,000. There is a variation in various determinations for different grades of people requiring different amounts. The basic wage increase will account for £85,000. All of these amounts are components of the proposed increase in expenditure. I cannot tell the honorable senator the precise number of temporary and casual employees. If I gave him the figure for today it would be changed next week or the week after. We would be delighted to recruit permanent officers in classifications such as those of the architects and engineers shown in the schedule.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Proposed expenditure, £6,771,000.
.- The proposed expenditure for the Department of Customs and Excise is £6,771,000. In Division No. 155 - Administrative - the expenditure last year for salaries and allowances was £4,530,148. Administrative expenditure this year for salaries and allowances is estimated to be £4,972,600. This is a considerable increase.
The Auditor-General’s report refers to a number of activities of the Department of Customs and Excise which are not generally known. This Department administers the bounties that are payable by the Commonwealth Government throughout Australia. They cover such things as cellulose acetate flake, copper, copper and brass strip, pyrites, rayon yarn, suphate of ammonia, sulphuric acid, phosphate fertilisers, tractors, vinyl resin and others. Bounties are payable by the Commonwealth Government on these items.
It may seem rather odd that the Department of Customs and Excise should have to administer the payment of these bounties. It would seem to be more fitting that the Department of Primary Industry should have this responsibility. I should like the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) to say why this responsibility is allotted to the Department of Customs and Excise. Is it a matter of Government policy? Officers of the Department of Customs and Excise are busy carrying out their main function as collecting agents for the Consolidated Revenue Fund in matters relating to customs and excise duties, which are so important to this country’s finances. Why should they be diverted from that primary task to activities related to bounties?
During the past year the Commonwealth Government involved itself in the expenditure of £9,403,343 on a bounty on phosphate fertilisers. I would be interested to know whether the Department has the facilities to check some of ‘the qualifications ^ for payment of the bounty. I have in mind “ particularly the limit on the profits that can be made by organisations which apply for bounty payments. It is notable that since this bounty has been paid there has been a very rapid and most effective consolidation of fertiliser companies. A monopoly by companies actively associated with the production of many fertilisers has been gaining ground. Very close supervision is needed to see that these companies do not by-pass the specific provisions that the Government laid down in relation to profits. It takes a very intelligent man to understand the machinations of interlocking companies, take-overs and the like. Customs officers are well experienced in dealing with people who want to evade the laws of this country - possibly of all Commonwealth employees they are the most experienced in the infinity of ways in which people will try to jink the public purse - but in my view the supervisory duties which have been given to them in relation to the payment of bounties will involve them in a tremendous amount of close research and investigation.
I direct the Minister’s attention to this matter because it has been raised by Senator McClelland. He mentioned the increase in the price of superphosphate which followed very soon after the commencement of the bounty. The full benefit that the Government hopes will go to the primary producer could possibly be diverted by the industry becoming monopolised, so to speak. I dou!bt whether you would find any of the smaller fertiliser organisations in Australia still in existence. If they are still operating, I am sure they are under close scrutiny by some of the major com panies which are Obtaining a monopoly of the manufacture of these commodities.
There is only one other comment I wish to make on the administration of the Department of Customs and Excise. In a country such as Australia people like to criticise, if possible, the activities of any Government department, but I have come to the conclusion, from my own knowledge and from information that I have received from travellers to and from Australia, that the officers of this Department have a very good diplomatic approach to their most onerous task. It is a compliment to the Department that the officers can do so much good work under conditions that would not appeal to all of us. Not every one of us has a suspicious nature, but the only way in which you can catch up with people who wish to evade the law is to have a suspicious nature. The officers do themselves great credit. Overseas travellers have told me that public relations at the point of contact are kept at a very high level. After all, the travellers do not see departmental heads or any of the backroom boys and administrators, but they do come in contact with the individual officers who are on the job at the point of contact. As I have said, these officers have created and maintained a very high standard.
The Department of Customs and Excise certainly is a magnificent revenue producer. The excise duties on beer, tobacco and things like that are bringing ever increasing revenue to the Commonwealth. The Department has been given the task of collecting the levies on those commodities. Excise duty is a sectional kind of tax, but the Department nevertheless has the responsibility of collecting it.
I should like to know whether the Department is aware of the problems that inevitably will face it. Is it fully equipped to deal with the big combinations of capital which have associated themselves with industries concerned in the manufacture of artificial fertilisers? It is of tremendous importance to the Australian economy that our primary producers should receive all possible advantages from the fertiliser bounty and from the most economical production of fertilisers. I hope that the Minister’s explanation will cover this point.
– 1 thank Senator O’Byrne for his comments. He asked why the Department of Customs and Excise is carrying out other departmental functions. The reason for this can be found in the department’s historical background. The Department was known previously as the Department of Trade and Customs. At that time, there was naturally a build up of staff in the fields mentioned by Senator O’Byrne. The Government introduced legislation relating to bounties. Having regard to the Department’s background and the build up of staff that 1 have mentioned, together with the fact that the Department was training staff in that field when the legislation was introduced, it was natural that the administrative role should be played by the Department. I assure Senator O’Byrne that in my Department there are officers specially trained in the field of accountancy whose sole function is to process and investigate the reports and recommendations submitted to the Minister in connection with the administration of bounty legislation.
Senator O’Byrne referred specifically to the superphosphate bounty. At the beginning of this sessional period my Department intervened when an increase was proposed in the price of fertiliser. From memory I think the proposed increase was 17s. a ton, but after the intervention of my Department and subsequent inquiry it was agreed that the increase would be reduced to 13s. 6d. a ton. The lesser increase was the direct result of inquiry by departmental officers. These officers satisfy themselves that payment of the bounty is in order before it is paid. They are specially trained in this field. The staff has been built up over the years. As I said at the beginning of my remarks, originally the Department was entitled the Department of Trade and Customs. It was decided that the Department of Customs and Excise, because of the qualifications and special skills of its officers, was best fitted to deal with the problems inherent in bounty legislation.
– In directing my remarks to Division No. 155 - Administrative - I wish to refer to the superphosphate bounty. When the measure for payment of the bounty was introduced, we had assurances from the Minister of the day that further consideration would be given to the payment of a bounty on rock phosphate. I understand that a decision was made that payment of the bounty would not be extended to rock phosphate. This is regrettable, because it has not resulted in a saving to the Government. The result has been that where previously it was economic to use rock phosphate, it is now uneconomic. The former users of rock phosphate have been compelled, because of the introduction of a bounty on superphosphate, to use that product for economic reasons, instead of using rock phosphate. The Government has not achieved a saving in this respect.
It is not always economically desirable that superphosphate should be used instead of rock phosphate. In the great majority of cases it is desirable, But there are caseswithin the knowledge of our agricultural experts where it is preferable to use rock phosphate. For instance, in certain circumstances in the Northern Territory rock phosphate has been used effectively. In Western Australia, at Deep Sands in the Gin Gin district it is also a better proposition to use rock phosphate. Because of the payment of a bounty on the use of superphosphate, the use of rock phosphate will decline. No advantage accrues to the Government, but the primary producer who formerly found the use of rock phosphate effective is placed at a disadvantage.
I believe that a mistake has been made in the assessment of the use of fertilisers. I wish to refer to a remark made by Senator O’Byrne, that the immediate result of the granting of a superphosphate subsidy was a rise in the price of superphosphate. That is not correct In Western Australia the price of superphosphate fell by lis. a ton immediately following the application of the bounty. Subsequently rock phosphate prices have risen. The Phosphate Commission has raised the price and it has been necessary to import rock phosphate from other sources. Accordingly the price of rock phosphate to fertiliser manufacturers has risen. The recent rise in the price of superphosphate was investigated in Western Australia and was found to be justified because of increased costs of materials. The dark allegations directed at monopolies and their machinations are quite unfounded.
– I wish to refer to Division No 155 - Administrative - in the estimates of the Department of Customs and Excise. I join with my colleague, Senator O’Byrne, and with Senator Prowse in referring to the superphosphate bounty. In July of this year a New South Wales fertiliser company decided to increase the price of its product by 17s. a ton. Following this decision it was agreed that officers of the Department of Customs and Excise should investigate the bona fides of the rise. After an investigation by the Department the Minister announced in this chamber that, following consideration of the report of the investigation, it was felt that a rise of 13s. 6d. a ton was warranted. I understand that the rise applied only to the use of superphosphate in New South Wales and not in the other States.
I ask the Minister to inform me whether the investigation was restricted to New South Wales, or whether it covered primary production throughout Australia. I believe that since the bounty of £3 a ton was introduced the price of superphosphate in New South Wales has been affected not only by an increase of 13s. 6d., but also by the abolition of the off-season rebate of £1 a ton previously allowed by Australian Fertilisers Limited. A broad analysis shows that of the subsidy of £3 a ton granted to assist primary producers - the object of the Phosphate Fertilisers Bounty Act - an amount of 33s. 6d. a ton is being paid to that fertiliser company. I wish to know whether the investigation conducted by departmental officers covered the use of superphosphate in primary production throughout Australia and, if so, why the increased price of 13s. 6d. a ton applies only to New South Wales. If the investigation applies only to New South Wales, then why did not it apply to the rest of Australia? That is all I have to say on that topic.
I wish now to refer to the activities of the Commonwealth Literature Censorship Board. I cannot see the activities of this Board covered or provided for in these estimates or in the staffing arrangement of the Department of Customs and Excise. I notice that in the central staff of this Department there is provision for a chief film censor. There is provision also for film cutters, biograph operators and assistant projectionists, to name a few, but I cannot see any provision in these estimates for the activities of the Commonwealth Literature Censorship Board.
This Board is a very important body so far as the Department, the Parliament and the people of Australia are concerned. Its activities have received wide publicity in recent years, particularly in the last 12 months. If my memory serves me correctly, the previous head of the Commonwealth Literature Censorship Board retired recently at the age of 81 and, of course, another person was appointed to this position. I understand that the Department of Customs and Excise, as the result of ministerial suggestion, was to examine ways and means to achieve uniformity of censorship throughout Australia. Each of our six States has its own censorship activities. In addition, there is the Commonwealth Literature Censorship Board.
Earlier this year, a ludicrous position arose. A book “ The Group “ was banned in Victoria; it was likely to be banned in New South Wales; and it was available for purchase in Canberra. I understand also that there were some 202 titles in the 1963 list of banned books. According to a report in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ recently a gentleman named Geoffrey Moorehouse, when writing in the English “ Guardian “, said that a suspicion existed that there was an unpublished and unknown list of books that Australians might not read. The Minister may be able to inform me and the Committee, and thereby the people of Australia, what the activities of the Commonwealth Literature Censorship Board are. What provision is being made to endeavour to obtain uniformity of censorship throughout Australia? Is there another list, unknown and unpublished, of banned books and, generally, what are the provisions in regard to censorship in Australia?
Those are the two matters which I wish to raise on these estimates, but I do join my colleague, Senator O’Byrne, in saying that I commend the Customs officers at the various air and sea ports of Australia. Having had personal contact with them, I can say that they are highly efficient and courteous to the members of the travelling public.
– About two years ago, the port of Sydney was getting quite a reputation as being a narcotics port. Whether the reputation was well deserved, I do riot know.
Living near the waterfront, I made it my business to talk to the union men involved in this kind of work. I believe that they are called Customs officers. They explained to me that the reason for the influx of narcotics and other contraband was that they were shamefully understaffed. They said that few men were doing the work of checking the big ships which should have been done by many more men. I made representations to the Minister for Customs and Excise at the time. I know that the Department did attempt to increase the number of men engaged in this work of searching the ships. I think they are called Customs officers.
– Searchers and watchers.
– Thank you. What 1 want to know is whether the Minister is in a position to tell me whether the sales of narcotics have been reduced? How many employees are now engaged in searching ships in the port of Sydney compared with the number so employed two years ago? Was there any justification for the statement that those men were understaffed at that time. These officers also complained to me that they suffered great disabilities in regard to uniforms and clothing because they have to move among all sorts of dirty cargoes. Generally, the men were unhappy. Their morale was very low. I would be happy if the Minister counld tell me that there has been a substantial increase in the number of men engaged in this type of work. I would be happier still if the Minister could say that the narcotics traffic and the other types of illicit trade carried on in the harbour area have been reduced considerably.
Six or seven weeks ago, quite a bit of publicity was given, in the newspapers - I do not know who was at the back of it - ito a proposal for the restriction of the importation of transistor radio sets from duty free islands and ports close to Australia. I have in mind such places as Suva and Port Moresby. I got the impression that the Government was sympathetic towards a proposal for taking transistor radio sets off the list of goods that can be purchased in these places and brought here as presents. I am not quite certain of the technical situation, but I know that one of the joys of travelling to these places is to be able to pick up a transistor radio set for £11 which would cost you £33 or more in Pitt Street, Sydney, or anywhere else in Australia. I do not suppose there is any senator sitting here who has not committed this offence.
– It is not an offence.
– That is so. The items are personal property. Anyway, there was a lot of propaganda supporting the case, and I assumed that it was from the trade within Australia because sales were dropping as the result of travellers bringing transistor radio sets into this country duty free.
– Get the manufacturers to reduce their prices.
– Yes. I would like to ask the Minister whether there is anything in the suggestion in the newspaper reports that the Government proposes to take action to restrict the purchasing of transistor radio sets, cameras, and those sort of things, in the islands and ports close to Australia where such items are duty free?
I do not know whether the Minister could tell me the ages of. the present members of the Commonwealth Literature Censorship Board. Senator McClelland referred to the retirement of the head of that Board at the age of 81. I think that the other members of that Board are very old men, too. I would have thought that old men would be the wrong people to have the power to censor anything. To have a successful censorship system in this modern age, I should think you would need to vest that power in people who live in the present day and have turned in to the present mode of life. Surely people who are old should not have charge of the censorship of literature and the other things with which censorship deals? Can the Minister explain to me why old gentlemen were allowed to remain on the last Board? I assume that they were public servants. A public servant in a department would not be able to remain in his job until such an age. What special privileges do members of the Literature Censorship Board have which permit them to evade the age limit of 65 years? Can the Minister inform me whether the members of the present Board will be allowed to work on until a ripe old age?
– I shall refer first to the comments on censorship. Senator McClelland asked where the proposed vote for the Literature Censorship Board appears in the Estimates. It is included in the proposed vote for Division No. 155, sub-division 2, item 10 - for incidental and other expenses. The proposed vote for that purpose this year is £39,500, but the allocation for the Board is the very modest sum of £1,500. That gives a clue to the answers to the questions asked by Senator Ormonde. The members of the Literature Censorship Board are not public servants. They are people doing a part-time job, for which they receive an honorarium. The present Chairman of the Board is Professor E. R. Bryan, the Deputy Chairman is Professor K. C. Masterman, and the members are Mrs. A. H. Hewitt, Dr. E. K. T. Koch-Emmery and Mr. Chipman. Now let me deal with their ages. I have met all of them. With the exception of Mrs. Hewitt, I would say that they are all contemporaries of Senator Ormonde. They are keen, mentally alert and well fitted to do their jobs. The Chairman of the Appeal Censorship Board is Sir George Currie. It is very unwise to talk about people’s ages, but I would suggest that he is a little more youthful than the honorable senator. He has keenness, alertness of mind and an appreciation - I take the point that the honorable senator made - of contemporary life, and of all that is implied in those very broad words.
I cannot reflect upon the previous members of the Board or discuss their ages, and I know that the honorable senator would not want me to do so. It is enough to say that they did a good job on an honorarium basis. Availability is a factor in this field. I would not like it to be said - and I know the honorable senator would not like it to be said - that they did not do a good job for the Commonwealth and for the people of Australia.
Senator McClelland raised a question about lists of banned books. I recall that recently I explained in this place that there had been a review of books and literature on the banned list and that I presented a document on the subject. There was a review of the publications that had been banned over the years. I can say to th; honorable senator that there is no secret list. The review to which I refer was made last year, to the best of my recollection.
However, sometimes a copy of a banned book is not currently available, so the book remains on the banned list, despite a review of the list. I have in mind a book that was not available When the review to which I have referred took place. A copy of this book was brought into the country a few weeks ago and, because it was still on the list, it was held. When this was brought to light, the book was sent to Canberra. After consideration it was released and handed back to the person who had brought it into the country. The book was banned about 40 years ago. It dealt with religious matters, and in that day and age it might well have been appropriate to ban such a book. I am not criticising the people who decided to ban the took then, but in the modern world we do not ban a book merely because it contains statements on religion with which I personally - and I have no doubt other people sitting here - would not agree. The book in question criticised religion, adopting a rationalist approach to the subject, but there is no justification for continuing the ban now. When the book came under the notice of the Department it was examined, released and returned to the person who had brought it into Australia.
There are no secrets in this field. We all recognise that censorship is a difficult matter. The people dealing with it must be people of good will, who adopt a sensible approach to the problems involved. The policy of censorship of literature has been followed since federation. I would say that the people doing this job are doing a good job for Australia and are all suitable for the work they have to do.
– My question relates to Division No. 155 - Administrative. It has to do with the shortage of Customs officers, either because of inability to recruit officers or because of increased establishments for Customs officers at various ports. I understand that recommendations for increased establishments have been made in relation to South Australian ports, particularly Port Pirie. Can the Minister tell me whether the present establishments are being filled and whether, in relation to Port Pirie, approval has been given for extra Customs officers to be appointed?
– Before answering Senator Bishop I should like to advert to a matter that Senator McClelland raised, relating to the fertiliser bounty, which I failed to cover when I last spoke. It is true that an investigation was made in New South Wales to meet a particular situation involving two firms. As a consequence, there was a reduction in price. I can tell the honorable senator that at present an investigation is being conducted into the operation of this bounty in all States. In the fullness of time, if it is appropriate for the Minister to make a report to the Senate, that report will be made. It should be appreciated that although what Senator McCelland said was true, the inquiry to which he referred related only to a particular problem. At present an investigation is being made into the whole of the operation of this bounty.
In relation to the question that Senator Prowse raised regarding a phosphate rock bounty, that is a matter of policy. The matter was considered at the time the superphosphate bounty was dealt with and it was decided not to include it in the bounty. I am not in a position to give any further explanation on the point raised by the honorable senator.
In relation to the point raised by Senator Bishop concerning the appointment of customs officers at various ports in South Australia, I may be able to get further information on this point shortly, but my understanding of the position at the moment is that advertisements calling applications for preventive officers have appeared in the newspapers of the capital cities. There has been a magnificent response to those advertisements. Of course, the Public Service Board is the body which has to select the appointees. The applicants have to sit for an examination. As to the particular needs of South Australia-
– Were applications called for searchers and watchers?
– No. The applications were for preventive officers. A certain salary range was quoted, and it was stated that they would be subject to the normal Public Service examination. I have been to South Australia, and I have spoken to the Collector there He told me that a considerable number of applications were received in South Australia. In fact, he was delighted with the number that had been received. My understanding of the situation is that a certain number of officers will be appointed to the staff in South Australia. I am not clear on the position in relation to Port Pirie, but I do know that there is to be an increase in the staff for the port of Adelaide. I hope to be able to make known to the honorable senator the actual increase in staff in South Australia.
– I refer to Division No. 155, sub-division 4, item 01, “Duty - Remission under special circumstances, £39,800 “. I ask the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson): To what extent is the Department of Customs and Excise responsible for the innovation of shops, which sell dutyfree goods, at the main ports of embarkation for overseas travel? I have noticed that at both Melbourne and Sydney facilities are available for people travelling overseas to purchase Australian made goods and imported goods to take as presents to friends and relatives overseas. To me this appears to be a splendid idea. People can purchase Australian goods instead of, as in the past, purchasing goods in Hong Kong, Singapore, Aden and other ports.
I would like to know whether the Department is in a position to make these facilities better known to people. As a form of revenue producer, and as a form of developing Australian industries the shops are very useful. It is better for people travelling overseas to buy Australian dutyfree goods than to buy cheap goods in Japan and other places. I would like to know whether the Department is sufficiently involved in the matter to be able to make these facilities better known.
. It will be easier for me if I deal with these matters as they are raised. Senator O’Byrne referred to Division No. 155, sub-division 4, item 01, “Duty - Remission under special circumstances, £39,800 “. Although the expenditure for 1963-64 exceeded that of the previous year by approximately £3,300, the appropriation of £40,000 for 1963-64 was not fully expended. The provision of £39,800 is estimated to cover the expenditure for this financial year. This is the point that Senator O’Byrne is interested in. The main classes of goods coming within the remission field are presents to friends and charitable organisations from members of the Services stationed abroad or who are returning to Australia; non-commercial parcels, the duty on which does not exceed 7s. 6d.; tobacco and cigarettes distributed to invalid service personnel; parcels for persons in necessitous circumstances and charitable or religious organisations; and goods for use by the Australian War Graves Commission. Each of those items in turn calls for a further explanation, and whilst I am not competent to do so at the moment, if the honorable senator would like a further explanation I shall be happy to obtain it and supply it to him. He will readily appreciate that with non-commercial parcels the duty on which does not exceed 7s. 6d., it does not pay the Department to go through the processing of an entry and all that goes wilh it for 7s. 6d., but that amount is charged against the vote. In this particular field there are avenues open to meet special circumstances. I know that honorable senators would not have it otherwise.
The other point raised by Senator O’Byrne related to duty free shops at ports of entry and exit. Of course, the honorable senator will appreciate-
– Are you answering me, too? I asked you a question about that.
– Yes. I am sorry. That concession is not available to people entering Australia. It is only available to people at the point of exit from Australia. People entering Australia have to go through the customs and their goods are liable to duty. That is the obvious distinction. The shops have been established at the various ports as a part of Australia’s travel promotion. Their establishment has been permitted by the Department of Customs and Excise in collaboration with the Department of Civil Aviation and the shipping people, and they are regarded as a very necessary adjunct to Australia’s travel promotion. Similar shops are to be found in other ports in the world. Therefore it is proper that we in Australia should have them.
As honorable senators know, people do not get their goods when they purchase them. They receive a chit and the goods are given to them on the tarmac, in the case of air travel, on their way to the plane. The con cession applies only to people leaving Australia, and it helps in the extension of our tourist industry.
– I do not want to take up much time, but there is a point I would like to raise with the Minister regarding Division 155, sub-division 4, item 01, Duty - Remission under special circumstances. Senator O’Byrne referred to this matter a couple of minutes ago. I also am interested in it. I have had a consultation with one of the fruit growing organisations on the River Murray in relation to fruit juices. I cannot remember the exact name of the organisation. This organisation imported from America certain equipment for the extraction of juice from citrus fruits which was not obtainable in Australia. The full rate of duty was levied on this equipment. These juices are in fairly constant demand from overseas customers. They provide a valuable outlet for our citrus industry and earn export income for Australia as a whole. I was told that an application was made to the Department of Customs and Excise for remission of part of the duty on the ground that the equipment was unobtainable in this country. I cannot vouch for the assertion that it was unobtainable in Australia, but I believe that to be the position. This equipment, which was purchased in California, was superior in all ways to that which previously had been used in Australia.
We are eager to foster our export trade. The citrus industry could be developed with a view to increasing our export trade. I repeat that these juices are in constant demand, particularly in countries which lie immediately to our north. I should like the Minister to indicate whether a remission of duty was considered. This industry is beset with problems. Those problems will increase as the years roll by with the development of the industry along the Murray. I believe that there has already been a considerable stepping up of the industry in New South Wales. Every encouragement should be given to this valuable and expanding industry by a remission of duty on equipment such as I have mentioned. I ask the Minister to indicate why sympathetic consideration was not given, not to a complete remission of duty, but to a partial remission of duty on this equipment which was put into operation at Berri, which is one of the main citrus producing areas.
, - Senator Ormonde referred to the entry of narcotics into Australia. In 1963-64 the number of seizures, which would be some measure of the success of illicit attempts to bring narcotics into the country, was static. Opium and heroin are the two main narcotics which come in. The current build-up of the staff of preventive officers will make the task of the smugglers more difficult. The honorable senator referred also to the entry of transistor radios. It is quite valid for a person to bring in a transistor radio as a personal effect. Two or three weeks ago I indicated, when replying to a question, that the whole question of the entry of transistor radios into Australia was being examined. There can be no doubt about the fact that a transistor radio is a personal effect which has become part of normal life. I do not want to say any more now, because I propose to make some observations on the matter later in the session.
Senator Hannaford sought to link the matter he raised with item 01, “Duty - remission under special circumstances “. I point out to the honorable senator that the matter which he raised bears no relation to that item.
– None at all?
– No. The honorable senator was referring to an application for a by-law concession. A by-law concession may operate in respect of goods for which there is no Australian or United Kingdom equivalent, in which case they can come in duty free, or goods for which there is no Australian but there is a United Kingdom equivalent, in which case very low rates of duty apply. In this case the application was considered but after inquiry it was rejected because it was considered that a suitable equivalent was available from Australian manufacturers.
– I am told that there is no Australian equivalent.
– That is the sort of argument around which the problem of by-law admission revolves. It becomes a matter of judgment as to what is an Australian equivalent. The by-law provisions were formulated to encourage Australian manufacture and over the years they have been applied with that object in mind. As there was a suitable equivalent in this case, a by-law concession was not allowed.
– I again address my remarks to Division No. 155 and once more raise the subject of the superphosphate bounty. As I understood the Minister’s reply, the inquiry that took place after the superphosphate companies in New South Wales decided to raise their price by 17s. a ton related only to New South Wales. I understand - the Minister may correct me if my impression is wrong - that the inquiry was undertaken only in New South Wales but the bounty that was awarded to primary producers under the Superphosphate Bounty Act applied to all superphosphate sold in Australia. For the life of me, I could not understand at the time why this increase in price related only to New South Wales and why the inquiry related only to that State. There is an old saying that justice must not only be done - it must also appear to be done. I understand that the Minister said that the inquiry into the price of superphosphate throughout Australia was proceeding. Can the Minister inform me whether all matters are being taken into account by the departmental officers in an assessment of this situation? According to the New South Wales Commissioner of Railways, in the last financial year the railways of the State created a record in hauling some 600,000 tons of the fertiliser. If the companies are efficient, their increased costs must certainly be counterbalanced to a great extent, if not completely, by increased production. I should like the Minister to explain whether the inquiry that is taking place - I understand that it is being made by departmental officers - relates to the whole of Australia.
I now refer to Division No. 155, subdivision 2, item 10 - Incidental and other expenditure. The Minister informed me that the activities of the Commonwealth Literature Censorship Board are covered by this provision. I was surprised to learn that of a total proposed appropriation of £39,500 only some £1,500 is being set aside for the activities of this Board. I was also surprised to learn that the Board members receive an honorarium and that they meet only from time to time. The Minister said that he was of the opinion that the Board was doing a good job in the interests of Australia. I do not like criticising people unless 1 think I have to do so. On this occasion I must say that I completely disagree with the Minister. Of course, I know that governmental policy is involved and one cannot criticise the personnel of the Board for that policy.
I believe that the banning of a book puts a premium on the book itself. The Minister said that the 1963 list to which I referred had been reviewed. I should also like to know how often the list is reviewed. I suggest to the Minister that the Board should consider holding sittings in public in much the same way as the Tariff Board. Am I to understand that after the Board members have merely read a book they sit around the table, discuss it, and then by a majority decision, yea or nay, decide to ban the book or allow publication to proceed?
There is another matter to which I wish to refer under Division No. 155, namely, the concern expressed by the organisation known as the Made in Australia Council about the increase of imports of Australian souvenirs from countries such as Japan, West Germany and Czechoslovakia. I understand that the latest additions to these imports have been Victorian post cards with a West German stamp on the back. I do not know whether the Department of Customs and Excise keeps a check on imports of this type, which must be having a deleterious effect on Australian manufacturers of these items. This recalls to my mind that only a fortnight ago an Australian housewife told me that she had seen a Japanese sewing machine which had on it a “ Made in Australia “ stamp. If this be so, it is a pretty serious matter. I should like to know whether the officers of the Department of Customs and Excise are watching these matters and whether they are doing anything about this rather serious situation.
– I have been approached by Sydney members of the Royal Historical Society of Australia, who are very concerned about rumours that the Customs House is to be demolished. I should like to know from the Minister whether the Customs House is to bc closed and the staff transferred to another building, or whether the rumours are unfounded. Many people in Sydney, particularly those who are interested in history, look upon the Customs House as a very beautiful model that is worth preserving.
– What type of architecture is it?
– I am not an authority. I am only passing on the representations.
– It is 19 th century Australian.
– It is a very beautiful building and it is considered so by quite a number of people who have a sense of history. I realise that it is not a modern building and that conditions inside would not be good for the staff, but I believe that the Government has a duty above that of the demolition people who just move in and put the bulldozers through anything they see, without consultation with city planners or other people who have an interest in these things. Sometimes it costs a lot more to undo a wrong in relation to these matters than what would have been the cost if the Government has had prior advice.
Outside the American Embassy in Canberra it is recorded that every brick and stone in the building was brought all the way from America and erected here as a pure example of American architecture. The sense of history of Americans made them do that. In Macquarie Street, Sydney, we have the old Mint building, which by modern standards-
That has nothing to do with the estimates under consideration. I have given you fair latitude. Let us get back to the estimates.
– The Mint building is still there.
– Well, leave it there and get back to the estimates.
– I am anxious to know the Government’s intentions regarding the Customs House. If possible, will the Minister give me an indication that it is not intended to demolish the building, and that I may tell the Historical Society that its views will be considered in relation to the future of the Customs House at Circular Quay, Sydney?
– At this stage I shall deal with the matters raised by Senator McClelland and Senator Ormonde. First, I should like to return to the question of the fertiliser bounty. The word “ inquiry “ might carry an implication that I did not intend. We were not having an inquiry because something was being sought in a progressive way. The inquiry we are conducting across the face of Australia is a routine inquiry. It is being held because the question of price is constantly applicable to bounties.
Honorable senators must bear in mind that we pay a bounty month by month. Every time we pay a bounty to a firm, the figure involved must be presented and examined. It must be justified and certified before the matter is placed before the Minister for signature. Quite frequently, as honorable senators will appreciate, the Minister has to have officers to whom he must delegate authority. The New South Wales incident - if one might call it that - was an inquiry in the sense that something had happened. There was to be a specific increase in price. A specific investigation took place in relation to that specific increase and the end result was that the increase in price which was to be 17s. was reduced to 13s. 6d. a ton.
The honorable senator directed attention to the fact that there was a variation from State to State. In the very nature of things, there must be a variation because in this case everything hinges on capital investment. A particular fertiliser company in Victoria is a co-operative with a small capital investment and this becomes a factor in the price structure. The whole nature of this matter only goes to prove the need for the provision that is made. At the outset of this discussion, Senator O’Byrne raised the question of the need for officers with accountancy background and great experience in this field.
– I agree.
– We all agree with that proposition because of the differentiations that can occur. We are constantly examining and re-examining the queston of bounties on fertilisers. As to censorship, there was a review of the list of banned literature in 1958 and again in 1963. In the general scheme of things, possibly there will be another review in a couple of years’ lime, but the reviews in 1961 and 1963 gave the responsible people an astronomical task. There was a backlog of literature which had been put on the banned list over a period of years and had remained there. We have cleaned up that list to a great extent and are getting to a point where a tremendous improvement is evident in that field.
Honorable senators will recall that we had a very spirited debate in this chamber on the report of the Regulations and Ordinances Committee dealing with the regulations on censorship. As a result, we have regulation 4A under which we deal with literature and books. This can be invoked by the Literature Censorship Board when literary merit is involved and there is the right of appeal to the Appeal Censorship Board. In fact, if any importer feels aggrieved he can go ultimately to a court of law.
In the present situation, the permanent establishment of these boards is entirely unnecessary. The number of books referred to the Literature Censorship Board is not great. I think the number would run to 40 or 50 a year. I cite, that figure from memory but I am confident that it is close to the actual number. The Appeal Censorship Board gets very little work because the number of books involved is not great. So it is not necessary for that Board to sit constantly. These Boards come under the influence of their respective chairmen. Senator McClelland will concede on reflection that these Boards do an excellent job in a very difficult field. It is a field of great controversy.
Senator Ormonde referred to the Sydney Customs House. I made a Press statement some time ago on this matter. The Customs House in Sydney is a fine building which was taken over at the time of Federation. It is a monumental, free standing building at Circular Quay. It has an admirable location for a customs house but the building is not adequate for our needs. The Queen’s Bond is not in the Customs House but in Hickson Street behind a Circular Quay wharf in the Rocks area. The Film Censorship Board is in Bligh Street because we have no accommodation for it in the Customs House. Another section of the Censorship Board is in Phillip Street for the same reason. Having regard to the normal expansion of the Port of Sydney and the staff that will be necessary, obviously the Customs House is not adequate for our needs.
The landlord, so to speak, in Commonwealth activities is the Department of the Interior. It has the responsibility of management of offices and related matters in that field. At present the Department of the Interior and the Department of Customs and Excise are in close co-operation in examining the problems associated with the future of the Customs House in Sydney. I ran over the possibilities recently rather quickly to try to get this matter into perspective. We have the possibility of leaving the Customs House in its present free standing position and acquiring some property at the rear. We could then carry out extensions to the Customs House by building a modern section at the rear of the building. This would give us a Customs House on two levels but at least it would preserve the Customs House with its free standing front and monumental layout. Of course, there are some technical difficulties in that proposition.
Another proposition which is being considered is that we leave the Customs House where it is, allow it to be used for some other purpose and find a site for a customs house in another area near Circular Quay. A third proposition which is being considered - and no decision has been reached on any of these proposals - is based on the fact that the site of the present Customs House is ideal for our purposes. The customs agents which are the lifeblood of the Customs House activities are located in the area. It is close to the port and the Maritime Services Board of New South Wales. The proposal is, therefore, that we preserve the site but clear it and erect .1 new Customs House on the same site. That proposition raises some difficulties because the city planning authorities have certain views in relation to building heights in the Circular Quay area. These are not difficulties that will be resolved overnight. We must see not only that justice is done but also that justice will be seen to be done. We must examine all these things in the light of the problems that confront us. Solutions are not easy to find. A very close study is being made at this time of all aspects of the future of the Customs House. I shall keep the Senate informed of any decisions that are made.
– I seek information from the Minister on the salaries and allowances covered by Division No. 155 - Administrative. I note from the Schedule on page 153 that the position of Commonwealth Analyst, which carried a salary of £3,531, apparently has been abolished. Has there been a re-organisation of staff, or has a different system been applied by the Department to cover the duties previously carried out by the Commonwealth Analyst?
Over the years our London, New York and Tokyo offices have carried Customs officers. In London we have one Australian Customs representative and two investigation officers; in New York, one Australian Customs representative and one investigation officer; and in Tokyo, one Australian Customs representative. The level of trade in past years has been such that staffs of that size have been able to meet the demands placed on them, but the volume and variety of our trade with Japan, for instance, have now increased considerably. What duties are performed by the investigation officers? Why is it necessary to have two investigation officers in London and one in New York but none in Tokyo?
When I was in Japan I noticed that the Customs officer there was very heavily taxed. He had a big job to do, and he did it very well. Does the Minister consider that two investigation officers are necessary in London and that one is necessary in New York but that the position in Tokyo does not call for any investigation officer? Is the Australian Customs representative in .Tokyo able to represent our interests on his own? There has been a great increase in trade both ways between Australia and Japan, and this is likely to develop still further. What will be the position then?
I do not know who sets the classifications of these officers. I note that the Australian Customs representative in London receives a salary of £2,685. I presume that is in Australian currency and that he is paid in sterling. He does a fairly highly responsible job and there should be no hesitation about paying him adequately for his services. Is he paid adequately? Are we treating our overseas representatives in this Department rather parsimoniously, having regard to the jobs that they do and the responsibilities that they carry? Similar remarks apply to the officer in New York, who is paid a salary of £2,569. In the light of living standards and costs in New York, and having regard to the responsibility carried by an Australian officer in a city of that size and the manner in which he must live if he is to represent us as he should, I regard the present salary as nothing short of parsimonious.
The salary paid to the officer at Tokyo is higher than these paid to the other two officers, but he has not the assistance of an investigation officer. Probably from from the point of view of efficiency and the protection of Australia’s interests, the present situation should be reviewed. When are these positions reviewed? What responsibilities do investigation officers carry? Why are they unnecessary in Japan although there is such a big movement of trade between that country and Australia, and the flow of trade has increased considerably in recent years? What is the Administration doing to ensure that we arc being represented satisfactorily overseas and that we have enough staff to do a competent job?
– I point out to Senator Cooke that classifications and salaries arc determined by the Public Service Board. There is at present in progress - it has almost been completed - a major reclassification of positions in the Department of Customs and Excise. The Department almost simultaneously received a new Minister and some new high level officers. That has had its advantages, because we have been able to discuss certain problems as they have emerged.
The position of Commonwealth Analyst no longer exists because, under the new arrangement, the Commonwealth Analyst has been reclassified as Assistant Comptroller-General (Analyst).
– The same job with a different name and a higher classification?
– Yes. The honorable senator referred to the staffing of our offices in London, New York and Tokyo.
Let me deal first with London. In dealing with Great Britain, we are concerned with by-law concessions. The very heart of these matters lies in the United Kingdom and Europe. Therefore we need very highly skilled officers in the United Kingdom to supply information to the Department on these matters. This morning during question time I referred to anti-dumping legislation, which comes under my departmental control. If we have a case of alleged dumping on the Australian market of a certain article from Europe, we must be able to determine wilh reasonable accuracy the normal value of that article in its country of origin. It is not always easy to go to the European country concerned to establish the normal value. In those circumstances, we must go to another country and decide on the comparability aspect. The London office is the pivotal point for the investigations that are going on constantly into these and related matters.
Senator Cooke made the point that we have only one officer at Tokyo.
– One Australian Customs representative, but no investigation officers.
– That is a valid criticism from a reading of the document, but in fact we have an investigation officer in Tokyo. However, his position is not yet on a permanent basis. For that reason, he does not appear in the staff listed in this document. The type of work performed in Tokyo and New York is comparable in some ways with that performed in the London office. Perhaps there is less emphasis on the particular by-law entry so which I referred. They are important officers. Decisions are made in Australia as to the entry of goods from all over the world. The point made by Senator Cooke is quite relevant. In order to make these decisions we have to be informed on the situation which applies in the country of origin. That is why our officers are employed in those countries.
Senator McClelland referred to the classification of goods entering Australia, particularly souvenirs. Some days ago I answered a question on this point and in my reply I think I made it perfectly clear that my officers are constantly on the watch for wrong descriptions of goods. Souvenirs must be marked with details of their country of origin. A definition of the meaning of “ clearly marked “ is contained in the regulations, which are very strictly interpreted. I cannot enlarge on the interpretation now but the meaning of the expression “ clearly marked “ is well defined. Goods entering Australia must conform to the regulations. The honorable senator referred to Japanese-made sewing machines that are marked “ Made in Australia “. To my knowledge at least one company in Australia assembles sewing machines which are of Japanese origin. Certain Australian components are added here and they may bc marked “ Made in Australia “. Possibly this is the case referred to by the honorable senator.
– My remarks are directed to Division No. 155 - Administrative. Will the Minister inform me in which part of the estimates provision is made for the censorship of films, and the approximate annual cost? I should also like lo know the number of staff engaged in the censorship of films. Will the Minister tell the Committee how many imported films in the last financial year were refused registration by the Commonwealth Film Censorship Board on the ground that in its opinion the films were blasphemous, and also how many films were refused registration on the grounds that they were indecent, likely to be injurious to morality, likely to encourage or incite crime, or likely to be offensive to the people of a friendly nation or to the people of a part of the Queen’s dominions? Were any films refused registration on the ground that they depicted any matter the exhibition of which was undesirable in the public interest? As I understand it, these are the grounds, Mr. Minister, on which films may be refused registration.
– Can you tell us where those classifications are to be found?
– In the particular regulation. I think it is the Prohibited Films regulation, but I do not have it in mind at the moment. I am not sure. Will the Minister inform us whether any of the films refused registration were dealt with by the Appeal Censor, as distinct from the Censorship Board? Were any films registered by the Board only after reconstruction in accordance with the plan as approved, altered or amended by the Chief Censor?
If so, will the Minister supply the names of the main films which were so registered only after reconstruction, in the last financial year?
– Quite obviously it is not humanly possible for me to provide at once all the answers the honorable senator is seeking. However, I shall examine the “ Hansard “ report and obtain written replies to all the questions asked by the honorable senator.
– I am sorry, I thought you might have the figures with you.
– I have some of them, but I could give only a disjointed reply at the moment. I do not think they have any significance, but I am willing to obtain answers for the honorable senator. Generally, films are not banned on the basis of blasphemy, but because they arc considered to be obscene. Again speaking generally, political censorship as such does not exist. There are, of course, rejections. The interesting thing about film censorship is that you can cut and join the film, whereas such partial censorship is not possible with literature. All film entering Australia, whether for exhibition in theatres or on television, is examined and sections can be rejected by the Commonwealth Film Censorship Board without completely emasculating the film. It can be shown without much material damage to the theme or to the end result. In recent years we have definitely taken a stand against horror films. Speaking broadly, film censorship authorities look very critically at horror films. I undertake to obtain expeditiously for the honorable senator comprehensive answers to his questions. I do not think the information will be available in time for inclusion in this debate. However, if there are any matters contained in the answers which the honorable senator believes justify him in again raising the subject, many avenues exist under the Standing Orders for him to do so. I would appreciate it if the honorable senator took that action.
– In relation to Division No. 155 - Administrative - I wish to pursue my inquiry about the investigation officer at Tokyo. I understood the Minister to say than an Investigation officer is located there, but that he is a temporary servant of the Government.
– He is on the temporary staff.
– I do not know whether provision for his payment is included in the Estimates. I think that it is necessary to have in such a responsible position a permanent officer who is tied by Public Service regulations. I think it is most important that we have persons properly attached to government positions and to the Public Service. They receive all the privileges of being permanent officers and, at the same time, accept the responsibility that is accepted by permanent officers in the Public Service.
– I should like to clear up that point. He is a permanent officer of the Commonwealth but he has not been classified as an investigation officer.
– And provision for his payment is not included in the estimates for the Department of Customs and Excise.
– Yes. It is included in the general figures, but not in the classified items.
– I see.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting, Senator Cooke asked me a question in respect of the investigating officer in Tokyo. I have made inquiries, and I am now able to furnish the honorable senator with the reply. The Public Service Board on 22nd November 1957 agreed to the creation of a permanent position of Clerk, Tokyo, with a salary range of £2,450-£2,594. This position was known departmentally as Australian Customs Representative. The main reason for opening an office in Tokyo was the development of trade with Japan caused by the Agreement oh Commerce which was signed between Japan and Australia about that time. The Customs Officer was to give expert advice to Japanese importers on Australian Customs requirements, such as tariff invoicing, the basis of value for duty, and so on. At the time of seeking this position, the extent of the activities of the office was not known and the thought was to put any one officer in Tokyo and await developments. Although a permanent position was sought, a promotion was not made to it. It is the policy of the Department temporarily to transfer officers to overseas posts. However, as the position is a permanent one, it must be shown against the permanent salary estimates.
In October 1962, because of the increased work load in the Tokyo office, a further permanent position of Investigation Officer with a salary range of £2,029- £2,162 was sought. However, the Board would not agree to provide the position on a permanent basis, but approved it on a temporary basis, subject to review when the Australian Customs representatives were changed. This change will take place next month. A permanent officer is at present occupying this temporary position. I think that explanation covers the query raised by Senator Cooke.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Proposed expenditure, £14,135,000.
– Mr. Chairman, in dealing with the estimates for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, I wish to emphasise what has been said by me and most other Senators in previous years, that Australia is very proud of the research work carried out by the officers of the Organisation, and is proud of the international reputation of its work. There is no doubt that the Executive and the officers of the Organisation constitute a band of brilliant and dedicated men devoted to the pursuit of knowledge and the enlightenment of mankind, especially in relation to primary and secondary industries in Australia. My remarks are directed generally to the estimates of the Organisation and, at the moment, particularly to Division No. 150- Administrative. The C.S.I.R.O. was set up under the Science and Industry Research Act 1949-59. Its powers and functions are subject to regulation and the approval of the Minister. They are set forth in Section 9 of that Act.
One matter which I wish to raise is the matter of the annual report of the Organisation. The executive of the Organisation has a duty once each year to prepare and furnish to the Minister a report containing a summary of the work done, researches and investigations made, and the proceedings taken by the organisation during the preceding year. That report has to be laid before each House of the Parliament within 15 sitting days after its receipt by the Minister. The report is to hand. In some respects, it is an admirable report. The Organisation has apparently fulfilled its functions and initiated and carried out scientific researches and investigations in connection with primary and secondary industries. It has obviously fulfilled its functions in various other respects. However, in certain respects the annual report is a most disappointing document.
The Organisation and its executive are entitled to report to Parliament on various matters including the recommendations which have been made to the Minister in charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research (Senator Gorton) in respect of the policy and work of the organisation, the funds required for carrying out its work, and the allocation of funds made available for the carrying out of that work. These are important matters upon which the Organisation may make recommendations, as being proceedings of the Organisation within the concept of the Act. Yet, there is no indication given in the report of the recommendations which have been made to the Minister in respect of various matters referred to in Section 12 of the Act which I have mentioned. One can only conclude that either there have been no recommendations of moment, which is most unlikely, or there is a failure to report one of the most important proceedings taken by the Organisation, namely, that of making recommendations to the Minister. This means that Parliament is being effectively deprived of the opportunities of knowing what was recommended to the Minister in respect of the policy and work of Ae Organisation, and what was recommended so far as funds required for carrying out the work of the Organisation were concerned and the allocation of funds made available.
The Executive in my opinion ought, in the responsible discharge of its duty under Section 30 of the Act which relates to the
E resenting of a report to the Minister, which as to be tabled in Parliament, and in fairness to itself as well as to the Parliament as representatives of the people, make clear what has been done by the Organisation in respect of those matters. This is the only real way in which Parliament can obtain a broad view of how the organisation is functioning and how the ministerial responsibility in relation to the Organisation is being discharged. In regard to its functions and powers, the Organisation must act subject to the approval of the Minister. Under Section 12 of the Act it has power to make recommendations to the Minister but of course, not subject to the approval of the Minister. Its duty to make a report to the Minister which has to be tabled in Parliament is not subject to the approval of the Minister. It is the report of the Executive. If it fails to make a full disclosure of the matters relative to the operation of the Organisation, then the Executive fails not only itself and its officers but also the Australian community.
The Executive has reported, very properly, on the serious problem of laboratory accommodation which faces it. It has not reported on whether it has discharged adequately its power and function in respect of the collection and dissemination of information relating to scientific and technical matters referred to in paragraph (0 of section 9 of the Act. Its function under (f) is a much wider one than that under paragraph (g) which relates to the publication of scientific and technical reports, periodicals and papers by the Organisation, a function which, as far as can be ascertained, is fulfilled extremely well by the Organisation. The failure in respect of collection and dissemination of information was adverted to by me during the debate on the Estimates last year. The failure is so grave that the GovernorGeneral in his Speech at the opening of the Parliament this year said -
Scientific research in the rural industries is of the highest importance. Special funds are already available to the States to assist in having the benefits of research available to the man on the land. However, my advisers believe that the process can be quickened. They are prepared to work out arrangements with the States to bring this about.
I should like the Minister to inform me, with some specificity if that is possible, what has been done in respect of that matter.
So far as general expenditure on scientific research is concerned”, it is estimated that Australia is spending in private industry only about £4 million per annum, which is approximately one-tenth of the amount which ought to be spent in order to keep this community reasonably abreast of research in this field. The Organisation has the extremely important function to recognise or establish associations of persons engaged in industry for the purpose of carrying out industrial research, and to co-operate with and make grants to such organisations. From the latest summary of the grants which have been made by the Organisation it does not appear that very much has been done in this field. There is no statement of the work being done in this field and of the proceedings taken by the Organisation in such a way that the Parliament can ascertain whether the Organisation is doing the work that it is intended to do. I think a number of honorable senators are far from satisfied that the Organisation has made a reasonable performance in this field. The report of the Organisation is so insufficient on this aspect that the Senate could not come to a conclusion that the work has been satisfactorily carried out.
Turning to other matters, I ask the Minister: What costs were involved in the Yass Valley project during the last financial year and what costs are anticipated in the current financial year? 1 regret that there has been no adequate coverage of this project in the annual report as an example of Commonwealth-State co-operation in the study of a relatively well developed area, and as a basis for future research and extension planning. Many complaints have been mace over the last year about the absence of a national science policy in this community. The C.S.I.R.O. should be leading the field. It is given sufficient encouragement under the Science and Industry Research Act, particularly in section 10, to do this.
Another matter which I will mention - it is perhaps fundamental to these estimates - is that scientific work in a community such as ours should be planned on a long term basis. Science cannot be dealt with on the basis of year to year planning. There ought to be some indication in these estimates that the Organisation is being dealt with on a long term basis so that it can make the plans it would desire to make tor future years. It is completely undesirable that amounts should be allocated from time to time in the way that they have been. No indication is given to the Parliament that projects are being planned on a long term basis, so that one can expect the utmost efficiency and hope for the best results. Observations were made by the Chairman of the Organisation, in his presidential address, on the strategy of Australian science. They were very valuable observations, and in my opinion they ought to have been the subject of recommendations to the Minister under the Act. They may have been. Whether they were or not, they are so wrapped up with the work done by the Organisation and the various matters referred to in section 30 of the Act that they should have been reported upon by the Executive in its annual report to the Minister for submission to the Parliament.
I wish to refer to the amounts made available for research in industry, both primary and secondary. Secondary private industry has failed to exert pressure on the Government for more research into secondary industry, and for this it has only itself to blame. Those engaged in primary industry have realised the necessity to demand research in order to increase productivity and to maintain the position of Australian primary industry both domestically and internationally. Some of the failure on the part of secondary industry is due to the fact that most of our secondary industry is owned by overseas firms uninterested in promoting research in Australia. However, there are very many small firms with a tremendous stake in the development of our industry whose future depends on increasing research into secondary industry. They have a duty to themselves to press for more research. The Opposition in this Parliament presses for more research by the C.S.I.R.O. in secondary industry.
The provision, which has been made is completely inadequate when one considers the importance of secondary industry in the community, the numbers dependent upon it for their employment, and the part it has to play in the future of Australia. If we ire to become a great nation, we will have to depend upon tremendous development of secondary industry. Therefore, we must have far more research into secondary Industry. It is not a matter of increasing it by 25 per cent, or by 50 per cent.; it is something of a much greater order than that. We have been lagging very badly indeed. As far as we can ascertain, every person in this community who is knowledgeable in this matter says that the amount of research being conducted is hopelessly inadequate.
– Order. The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I shall reply very briefly to some of the points raised by Senator Murphy. Most of his remarks were not specific requests for information. They dealt with the conduct of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation as a whole. Before I go on, I should like to express my regret that Senator Henty, who was to have dealt with the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation, which is the next Department on the list supplied to honorable senators, has been suddenly called away and is unable to be present to enable us to continue with that part of the debate. He wished me to express his regret. We are therefore dealing, out of proper turn, with the estimates with which I am concerned.
I should like to comment on Senator Murphy’s contention that, if I heard him right, the Executive of the C.S.I.R.O. had a duty to put into its annual report to the Minister any recommendations which it has made to the Minister during the year. I reject that out of hand as being completely untrue and without justification. Section 30 of the Science and Industry Research Act 1949 sets out quite clearly what the functions of the Executive are in this respect. It is not to report to Parliament on any recommendations it makes to, or conversations it has with, the Minister during the course of the year, but it shall -
– The proceedings taken?
– The proceedings taken by the Organisation. That is, a list of the things that have been done. If Senator Murphy is suggesting that the words “ proceedings taken “ mean that there is a requirement on the Executive to state in its report before the Parliament all of the conversations it has with, and the recommendations it makes to the Minister, then frankly I think he is going beyond what most people in his profession would regard as being the meaning of those words.
There is a provision in section 12 of the Act which allows the Executive to make recommendations to the Minister with respect to all the things that are concerned with the Organisation, but this is quite different from what is provided under section 30. Under that section the Executive is limited to furnishing a summary of the work done, the researches and investigations made, and the proceedings taken. I believe that the Executive has properly carried out its duty in the report which it has made and which has been laid before the Parliament. The Executive has put into that report all that can properly be put into it.
asked if I would give him some indication of the way in which the C.S.I.R.O., in conjunction with the States, contributed to agricultural research of various kinds. The number of ways in which this has been done is far too large to particularise, but an example which immediately comes to my mind - perhaps this is as a result of the debate on the estimates for the Department of Health - is all the work that has been done by the C.S.I.R.O. on the growing of tobacco, the diseases that attack tobacco, and the scientific conclusions drawn therefrom. This information is then made available to the officers of the State Departments of Agriculture whose function it is to act as extension officers and to apply the information to the particular areas in which agriculturalists in the various States work. The same sort of association pertains in regard to wool growing. There are new methods of working out the weight of fleece by taking into account the various mixtures of pastures fed to the sheep. Again, scientific results have been obtained. They have been presented to the State Departments of Agriculture and, in some cases, to organisations of farmers, which may or may not be associated with
State Departments of Agriculture, for application in the various districts. The same applies in pasture growing, in irrigation and in various other fields, including fiisheries, in which the C.S.I.R.O. is engaged.
On the matter of whether sufficient funds are made available to the Organisation to carry out research that could, in all justice, be said to be profitable, I can only say that I believe it would be quite possible to make a case for the whole of the Federal Budget to be spent in various fields of scientific research, just as it would be possible to make a case for it to be spent on education or on defence.
– Or on health.
– Or on health, or whatever it may be. The responsibility is not on. the Executive, but on the Government to decide what allocation can be made for this part of scientific research in Australia. This is only a part of the scientific research that is being carried out at the present time. We must not forget the research done by the universities, by the Australian Atomic Energy Commission and by the State Departments of Agriculture in various fields. But the Government having made these funds available to the C.S.I.R.O., it is then the Executive’s responsibility - and it is one in which, except in exceptional cases, the Minister would be reluctant to interfere - to decide the fields in which the money that has been allocated should be spent. As I say, these are largely matters of policy rather than specific matters relating to the printed Estimates.
. - Mr. Chairman, I think that this is one of the most important-
– They are not entitled to change the order without giving a reason.
– Order! Senator Dittmer, you will be silent.
– I won’t.
– Order! Senator Dittmer, you will withdraw that remark and apologise to the Chair.
– I am sorry I made that remark, Sir. I am still entitled to my opinion.
– I think that this is one of the most important instrumentalities affecting the welfare of this nation. I have tremendous admiration for the work that is done by the personnel of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, but the thing that amazes me is the small amount of money that is made available to an organisation whose research and discoveries help so many people. It is extremely small when compared with the amount of money that is made available to similar organisations in other countries. I refer to Division No. 1 50, sub-sivision 5, item 01, “Research associationsGrants, £83,800”, to item 02, “Research studentships - Grants, £172,000 “, and also to item 03, “ Commonwealth Agricultural Bureaux - Contributions, £78,500 “. I am wondering how secondary industries regard the work that is done by this Organisation. When one looks at the various items relating to the C.S.I.R.O. in the Estimates, one can see that rural industries benefit greatly from the work that is done by the Organisation. On the other hand, there are investigations carried out by the Organisation which must benefit secondary industries. I wonder for how long people in this country will take all and give nothing in return. I say without equivocation that we must help the rural industries so that they can compete on overseas markets. I think that the Minister said in answer to a question today that the rate of exchange means that £100 sterling is equal to £126 10s. Australian.
– It was not I.
– I think it was. I think the Minister said that exchange would bring the figure up to £126 10s. Industry has a duty to take a much keener interest in the affairs of the C.S.I.R.O. If new methods of production are discovered which lead to a lowering of costs, an obligation rests fairly and squarely on those who gain to assist the Organisation in its work. It is true to say that we all contribute in various forms of taxation to the funds used by this Organisation, but those who gain directly from its investigations have an added responsibility to play their part in advancing its activities. It may well be, as the Minister said in reply to Senator Murphy, that the whole of the Budget appropriation could be spent on investigation. But we must be a little bit practical about it. Expenditure by the C.S.I.R.O. this year is estimated to be £14,135,000. I suppose that sum could well be doubled, or increased to a still greater extent.
As I said earlier, the establishment of the Organisation has been a wonderful boon to the economy of the nation. Not only I but also others would be interested to learn the amount of money that has been donated by firms or individuals to enable the Organisation to grow or in recognition of the work it has done. I would be extremely grateful to the Minister if he were to give me that information. If I were to learn that private firms or organisations had assisted the C.S.I.R.O., I would feel much more kindly towards them than I do at the present time.
– I address my remarks to the proposed appropriation of £330,600 for fisheries under Division No. 150. Recently I visited the Yanco experimental farm in the Murrumbidgee area where the New South Wales Government has established a fisheries division. It was explained to me that the inland fishing industry - it is an industry In many senses of the term - was likely to be deprived of fish because fish indigenous to the streams in the Murrumbidgee area could become extinct. If that were to happen, a source of food would be removed. People in towns like Wagga and Tumut, and even in towns further west, depend largely on locally caught fish. At the Yanco farm officials are trying to breed a new type of fish that can live in rivers which have been affected by waters which come from the Snowy Mountains scheme. The waters from the Snowy Mountains area, which are colder than the normal waters in the Murrumbidgee area, have had the effect of altering the breeding habits of the indigenous fish.
The New South Wales Government is quite concerned about the problem. Its experts have travelled all over the world trying to ascertain how fish breed in colder waters in other parts of the world, particularly in the northern hemisphere. They have constructed at this farm a system whereby water passes over rocks at various heights and also runs at various depths with a view to seeing how imported fish spawn in such conditions. I ask the Minister whether part of the proposed appropriation of £330,600 is to be used in connection with this work. When all is said arid done, the Commonwealth Government controls the Snowy Mountains scheme and is more involved in it than anybody else. As I said earlier, the waters from that scheme are having an effect on the fishing resources of New South Wales. I hope the Minister will be able to tell me something about the matter.
I am also interested in ascertaining how closely the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation works in with the Joint Coal Board to investigate Australia’s fuel needs. I am a great supporter of the C.S.I.R.O. because I think it is independent in thought. I should say that its scientists have the highest motives. The picture is quite different when we look at the struggle that is going on between the producers of natural gas, coal and oil as sources of fuel. These people have a vested interest in their experiments. I believe that if a division of the C.S.I.R.O. were to examine the problem of Australia’s future fuel needs we would be able to arrive at a solution much more quickly.
I have often wondered why the C.S.I.R.O. has not been able to supply more public speakers or lecturers to visit public spirited bodies such as schools of art, literary institutions and parents and citizens organisations. I have always found that it is not easy to get informed people from the C.S.I.R.O. to do this. I am secretary of the fuel committee of the Australian Labour Party, which is composed of senators and members of the other place. We readily get speakers to explain matters to us. We have one booked to tell us about natural gas in Australia, but I do not think that the same speakers are available to explain issues to the general public. If they were able to do that, there would be a much more grown up attitude on matters involved in Australia’s fuel problems. For instance, the Miners Federation, which is very interested in the coal industry, would be eager to receive lecturers who could give information in an independent way about that industry and its future.
Senator GORTON (Victoria- Minister for Works and Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research [8.41]. - Senator Kennelly suggested that perhaps more support could come from private sources which are interested in the results of research and can use these results for the benefit of both themselves and the country. The bigger the contributions that come to a research organisation from any sources, the more that can be clone. On pages 178 to 182 of the annual report of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation are listed organisations, firms, and authorities, such as State electricity commissions, which have made donations, usually for a particular kind of research. A private industry may make a donation towards research connected with a particular problem in that industry. If the honorable senator is interested, he may refer to that list.
– I read it. I was surprised how small it was.
- Senator Ormonde referred to fisheries. The C.S.I.R.O. does not take any significant part in inland fisheries, which are a State responsibility. We do work with State authorities and, on request, we have conducted research on fish farming. We have provided assistance to the States in that field. We have been consulted and we have provided assistance on such matters as trout projects, but these still remain the responsibility of the State authorities concerned. We confine ourselves, by and large, to interstate fisheries - to fish that travel interstate and to ocean fish. We do not do anything in the specific field mentioned by Senator Ormonde, namely trout around the Snowy Mountains area. There is in that area a State research farm which is concerned with the matters which the honorable senator raised.
The C.S.I.R.O. does provide money for coal research. To my belief, most of the money that is provided is used in the Organisation’s section at Ryde, which is engaged very largely in such matters as trying to make coal a better fuel, seeing how it can be treated or pulverised or looked after so that it may burn better.
– “ Looked after “ is not a scientific term, is it?
– I am not a scientist. I am endeavouring as a layman to explain to laymen what we do. The section experiments to see whether coal can be pulverised in such a way as to produce more thermal units.
– Thank you. If more thermal units are produced, the coal is more effective and economic for people to use. In that way we can expand the market for coal and assist the coal industry as a whole. On the matter of providing public speakers for various organisations, we have confined ourselves - on the whole wisely, I think - to providing speakers for organisations specifically interested in a particular topic. These may be organisations interested in sugar cane or pastures, or something of that nature.
– The C.S.I.R.O. has not done much for the sugar industry. Do not tell us that.
– We provide an expert in the field to talk to organisations on the matters in which their members are interested. These officers have their own work to do in the C.S.I.R.O. If they were sent on lecture tours, as it were, it would interfere with their work.
– It has not done much for the sugar industry. You know that better than anybody.
– I raise a point of order. Honorable senators cannot hear the Minister because of the disorderly interjections.
– The point of order is not sustained.
– If their hearing is defective, they should come and see me.
– It would probably be better not to take these expert people from the researches that they are doing to act as lecturers to laymen around the country.
– When I was previously on my feet, I mentioned the question of industrial research in secondary industry. As appears from the answers given to me by the Minister, I think last year, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation has not established any association of persons in industry for the carrying out of industrial science research. Whether that is still correct, I do not know. The Organisation’s report is quite barren on this matter.
– I did not quite understand your first sentence.
– One of the functions of the Organisation is the establishment of industrial scientific research associations in industry. An expression of that nature is used in the Act. I think on an earlier occasion the Minister informed me that no such research organisations had been established by the Organisation. This is quite a serious matter, in view of the statements that not enough money is being spent by private industry on scientific research. The Organisation itself has the function, in relation to private industry, of establishing research associations. If that has not been done, or if it has not been done sufficiently, it is a failure on the part of the Organisation and something that ought to be attended to.
There is also the matter of collection and dissemination of information relating to science and technical matters in secondary industry. In my view the report is insufficient in that respect and also so far as it deals with the Organisation’s observation of this duty to co-operate with other organisations and authorities in the carrying on of scientific research with a view to preventing unnecessary overlapping and providing the most effective use of available facilities and staffs. This is a part of the work of the Organisation and gives a great opportunity to the Organisation to explain to the Parliament the available facilities and staffs for research in primary and secondary industry in Australia. This would embrace a survey not only of the C.S.I.R.O. itself but also of universities, research associations, other Federal and State Government instrumentalities and agencies concerned with research, private firms and private persons. It could deal with what was being done and was not being done by the C.S.I.R.O. with a view to preventing unnecessary overlapping and the most effective use of available facilities and stalls. This is probably the most important matter concerning science in Australia and the scientific needs of the community. It is a matter on which the Parliament should be fully informed. In my opinion, the C.S.I.R.O. has a duty to deal with this adequately in its annual reports but it has not done so.
On the matter of liaison, is it a fact that the Agricultural Research Liaison Section has been disbanded recently? Is it correct that the Industrial Research Liaison Section is small, consisting of about four people? Is this not a matter to which, perhaps, more attention should be paid? Should not more provision be made in the Estimates for the development of research? It must go hand in hand, particularly in the applied field, with communication of the results to the potential users.
Then there are other matters to which I wish to refer. Why are there approximately 90 new members of the staff in the head office? Will the Minister inform me why the provision for buildings, works, plant and developmental expenditure under Division No. 150 has been reduced from the appropriation last year although the annual report of the Organisation stresses the need to increase accommodation? It would appear from estimates for other Departments, such as the Department of the Interior and the Department of Works, that the relevant provision in relation to the C.S.I.R.O. is also down.
The provision for fuel research under Division No. 150, sub-division 4, item 24 has been reduced substantially notwithstanding the need for further work in this field as is demonstrated by the report of the Coal Utilisation Research Committee. Can the Minister inform me where - if it does not appear elsewhere in the Estimates - provision is made in the C.S.I.R.O. vote for the Australian Coal Research Laboratories? The Minister will recall that this impinged on the fields of both the Department of National Development and the C.S.I.R.O. In this connection the report of the Coal Utilisation Research Committee was being acted upon in that a considerable sum amounting to £4,000 or £5.000 was to be spent on coal utilisation research. Does any part of that appear in the estimates of the C.S.I.R.O.? If so, where is that provision?
In the matter of dairying research, why is the provision for this work down in view of the fact that the dairy industry is in a parlous state as was shown by the report on this industry which was published some little time ago? Why is no provision made in relation to fisheries and oceanography in view of the extreme importance of these matters to a great continent like Australia surrounded by water?
I hope the Minister will deal with these matters in the light of realities. No one has said that the whole of the Budget should be spent on these things. There is a great deal of dissatisfaction in the comm unity because there has been no real increase in the work done by the C.S.I.R.O. The staff has been increased by only about 2 per cent. There is some increase in the overall provision for the Organisation but when one looks at the increases due to awards of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, one finds that most of the additional vote will be taken up by such increases and also by large amounts such as the increased vote for scientific computing equipment. The feeling of a great number of persons who are knowledgeable in this field is that the Organisation is at a standstill and that the Government is not very sympathetic to it. This is a very bad atmosphere for such a great organisation. Will the Minister explain why such a poor provision is being made for the C.S.T.R.O. in view of the great national demands for scientific research which are not being fulfilled by other organisations such as universities and private companies?
– Many detailed questions have been asked and I should like to answer them while they are fresh in my mind. Senator Murphy asked whether the Agricultural Research Liaison Section and the Industrial Research Liaison Section had been abolished.
– I asked whether one had been abolished. I said the other was a small section.
– The Agricultural Research Liaison Section has not been abolished but previously it appeared on the Estimates in a different way. It is now a part of the alleged extra 90 people who appear to be in head office. In fact, there has not been an addition of 90 or more persons to the administrative staff although they might appear to have been added to it. There has been a re-organisation of those people so that whereas previously they appeared on the estimates separately from the administrative staff, they are now shown in the numbers on the administrative staff although they are doing exactly the same work as they were doing in previous years, Since last year a very small beginning of a secondary industry research group has been established. It comprises only about half a dozen people but this is a beginning. It is now at work in Western Australia. I think I have answered the honorable senator concerning the supposed addition of 90 to the staff. This is the result of reorganisation and there has not been an addition to the headquarters administrative staff.
The honorable senator asked why the proposed vote for buildings, works, plant and development was less than the appropriation last year although the Organisation has stated its requirements for laboratories. None of the vote for building, works, plant and development is for laboratories. The laboratory vote does not appear in that section of the Estimates. It is for all sorts of equipment and all sorts of new works of a minor nature around the many stations that C.S.I.R.O. operates - for smaller buildings and so on.
– Where is the provision for laboratory accommodation?
– It is shown under Division No. 610, which is covered by the estimates for the Department of Works. That shows the sum to be provided for the C.S.I.R.O.
I was asked why the appropriation this year is lower than it was last year. The reason for this is that whereas last year the sum shown as allocated to dairy industry research was made up of Treasury funds and a contribution from the industry itself, this year the estimates show only the Treasury contribution. That is not lower than it was last year. The same remarks apply to the appropriation for research into fuel.
– That means that less research will be done.
– No. The only difference is that the contribution to come from the industry is not shown now whereas last year it was. The sum to be expended in research in these fields comes from two sources. One is the Treasury and the other is the industry. In many cases the industry’s contribution is about one half of that made by the Treasury. Although it would appear that this year the appropriation has been reduced, that is not the case. The difference is explained by the fact that this year the estimates have been prepared on a different basis from that which applied last year. I repeat that whereas last year both the Treasury contribution and the industry contribution were shown, this year only the Treasury contribution is shown, and that is not less than it was last year. 1 have no comment to make on the other matters that the honorable senator raised. These again are matters of policy. The question has been raised whether the Government should have made more money available to the C.S.I.R.O. I can only say that I believe the Government is making sufficient money available to C.S.I.R.O. to allow it to grow. The extent of the growth which should be allowed this or any other Government instrumentality obviously always will be a matter of debate.
– 1 would not like the debate on this section of the Estimates to pass without making some comment on the work of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the part that the Organisation has played in helping Australia’s development. I refer to Division No. 1 50 - Administrative - which indicates that £18,152,300 is being allocated to the Organisation this year, compared with last year’s allocation of £14.727,008. The appropriation this year is about £3,439,000 more than it was last year. The appropriation has been increased by about 25 per cent. I do not know whether this year’s appropriation is sufficiently large. I think that a lot more could be spent. Will the Minister tell me whether the C.S.I.R.O., which is doing work of great importance to Australia, asked for more money than it has been allocated? 1 might mention that some people within the Organisation, anxious to gain further knowledge in the field of agriculture, receive no financial assistance from the Government to enable them to gain that further knowledge overseas. Some of them have had to rely on overseas companies, organisations or individuals to provide the necessary funds.
I know that unlimited sums of money cannot be granted - I have already mentioned the increase in this year’s appropriation - but this great Organisation is of the utmost importance to Australia, particularly when we consider the great increase in the revenue earned by our agricultural producers as a result of the application of the results of the Organisation’s scientific studies.
Almost 15 years ago, through the endeavours of the C.S.I.R.O., the myxomatosis virus was released.
– The C.S.I.R.O. had nothing to do with it.
– I understand that it did.
– I will tell you the story in a minute.
– I should like to hear from you later, but I understand that the C.S.I.R.O., by releasing the myxomatosis virus, so diminished the rabbit plague that out sheep population has increased by almost 50 per cent. There has been a corresponding increase in Australia’s wool cheque of about £180 million because, with the removal of the rabbit menace, more sheep have been carried on grazing properties.
The C.S.I.R.O. is doing wonderful work in the north of Australia by providing vital information for the development of that area. I think every honorable senator will agree that the Organisation should not be limited in its work for the sake of a few hundreds of thousands of pounds.
In speaking of the north of Australia, I want to mention the great work that has been carried out, not only by the C.S.I.R.O. but also by the Department of Agriculture in Western Australia at the Kimberley Research Station on the Ord River.
– Do not forget that the C.S.I.R.O. was the first establishment there in 1946.
– You may believe that, but it is not true.
– I agree that the Department of Agriculture in Western Australia has done a reasonably good job.
– But the-
– I am trying to help him.
– He does not need any help, Senator Dittmer. Will you please keep quiet?
– Before the interruption I was referring to the research station, known as the K.R.S., established on the Ord River in the Kimberleys. The honorable senator interjected and said that it was started by the C.S.I.R.O. I do not believe that is quite true.
– It was started at Ivanhoe in 1946.
– I did not say that it was not. I shall tell you, Sir, that following a visit to the Ord River in 1942 by the Director of Public Works of Western Australia, he reported to the Government
– The Director of Public Works would know a lot about agricultural research, wouldn’t he?
– He would probably know as much about agriculture as you do.
– Order! The honorable senator will address his remarks to the Chair and not to the Opposition.
– I am simply saying, Mr. Chairman, that the Director of Public Works for Western Australia visited the Ord in 1942. He submitted a report to the government of the day, which decided to carry out further tests. The tests were made and in 1945 or 1946 the Commonwealth was asked to accept its share of the responsibility for the establishment of the Kimberley research establishment. The Commonwealth Government agreed and the research station was established.
– At Ivanhoe; by a Labour government, incidentally.
– Order! Senator Dittmer, if there are any further interjections from you, I shall name you.
– I am sorry. I was only trying to help him.
– I am still on the Ord. Following-
– Be specificin your pronunciation.
– Order! I name Senator Dittmer.
– Could I apologise? I I was only trying to help Senator Scott.
– Order! I suspend the proceedings of the Committee in order to report to the President that an offence has been committed by Senator Dittmer.
In the Senate.
– As Chairman, Mr. President, I have to report that I have suspended the Committee proceedings and have named Senator Dittmer for refusing to obey the orders of the Chair.
-Mr. President, I call upon Senator Dittmer under Standing Order No. 440 to stand in his place and explain his conduct.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - I call Senator Dittmer.
– As to an explanation of my conduct, Mr. President,I did explain and I attempted earlier to apologise. I was only trying to help Senator Scott with facts and figures in relation to (he establishment of the Kimberley Research Station. I have expressed regret. I cannot express regret in relation to the facts I have stated, but I express regret that apparently I have disturbed the conduct of the Senate. Surely that should meet the wishes of the Leader of the Government in the Senate. All I was trying to do was to help Senator Scott. He mentioned that the Department of Agriculture or the Department of Works had made representations to the Commonwealth Government in 1942 as to the possibility of the successful establishment of a research station in the Kimberley area. I said that in 1946 the then Labour Government established a research station at Ivanhoe, near enough to the Ord River. Subsequently, the Ord River scheme in miniature was developed. We hope that in time the major project will be developed. I had expressed regret before you arrived, Sir.I do so again. I do not know what else I can do in explanation of my conduct. If the Leader of the Governmentis not preparedto accept my explanation, I just do not know what I can do.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) agreed to -
That Senator Dittmer be suspended from the sitting of the Senate. (Senator Dittmer thereupon withdrew from the chamber.)
– 1 have been discussing the establishment of the research station on the Ord River. I wish to congratulate the officers of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation who, in conjunction with officers of the Western Australian Department of Agriculture, have carried out certain research work into the growing of pastures and certain crops, including rice, cotton, sugar, safflower and many other crops. It has now been proved, to my mind beyond doubt, and 1 believe to the satisfaction of the Government, that commercial crops of cotton can successfully be grown. Following the latest report, the Western Australian Government, with a grant of between £5 million and £6 million from the Commonwealth Government, has constructed the diversion dam and the channels necessary to carry out an irrigation project. Five or six farms have been allocated to settlers and in the last twelve months the first commercial crop of cotton has been grown. I understand from the latest report that each farmer allocated a property there has earned an average net profit, after deducting all expenses including 30s. per acre foot of water used, of about £2,800. lt has also been proved by the C.S.I.R.O. that in the area on the Ord River where the research station is established, it is possible to grow two commercial crops of cotton in one season. The report of the C.S.I.R.O. for 1963-64 states quite clearly on page 1 1 that this result has been achieved. It is interesting to note that both crops grown in 12 months yielded the same amount of cotton. I understand that an experiment on a farm allocated to a Mr. Arbuckle proves conclusively that two crops of cotton can be grown in the area in one season.
I wish now to refer to great work that the C.S.T.R.O. is doing in the development of dry farming methods in the tropical regions of northern Australia. I ask the Minister to inform us of the amount of money that has been spent this year at the Katherine Research Station so that we may compare it with the amount spent last year, and also the amount of money spent in northern Queensland on research into tropical agriculture and the establishment of legumes or pastures. Having visited the Northern Territory and seen the work that the C.S.I.R.O. is doing at Katherine, I believe that there are large areas of country in that high rainfall region that could and will carry or fatten one bullock to every one or two acres. When we examine the cattle carrying capacity of part of that area where research has not been conducted, we find that only, one or two bullocks are being carried to the square mile. I believe there has been a wonderful break through. I am confident we will find in the north of Australia that the cattle numbers, in the next decade or two, will increase to such an extent that we will be able to provide beef in large quantities.
– Mr. Chairman, I want to take the opportunity to correct some of the information that I gave to Senator Murphy in reply to his specific question in relation to the amounts provided for dairy research and for fuel research, which is coal research. I believe that I slightly misunderstood the true position, but, essentially, the facts are as stated. The funds provided in each area are made up of a Treasury component and a component from the industry concerned. The Treasury component in each case has not been reduced this year compared with that amount for last year. The amount of funds supplied by the industry organisations themselves has in each case been reduced. Last year, in respect of the dairy industry, there was a special provision for a piece of equipment which was required. That amount appeared in the estimates last year, and it has been spent and used. Therefore, it does not appear this year. In the case of the coal industry, a special grant was made, I understand from my advisers, from the Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. for a particular type of research which was concluded and for which, therefore, no amount is repeated in the fuel component from the industry this year.
– Mr. Chairman, I want to deal briefly with Division No. 150, sub-division 4, item 07, Mining and metallurgy. The appropriation for this item in 1964-65 is f 85,100. This has been reduced from the appropriation for 1963-64 which was £86,500. Expenditure in that year was £74,349. It has been widely reported in the Press that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), while he was overseas, was unable to persuade authorities abroad that the price of gold should be increased. This leaves two ways open for the Parliament of the Commonwealth to assist the gold mining industry. One way is by the payment of extra subsidies to the Industry, and the other is by research to reduce the costs of the industry. I wonder just how much of this £85,100 will be spent, or what amount of the £86,500 appropriated for last year was spent, in research into a reduction of costs in the metalliferous mining industry and, particularly, the gold mining Industry, mainly at Kalgoorlie.
This is an industry which has not had an increase in the price of its product since 1949. By highly efficient methods employed throughout the industry, it has been able to absorb the effects of inflation. But now it has reached almost a dead end where increased costs cannot be borne very much more. The result is that there are constant applications to arbitration courts for reductions in wages which in turn mean a reduction in the living standards of the people. It means that the mining companies have to be more selective in the ore bodies that they treat. They have to leave behind bodies of ore which are marginal on present day costs.
Whilst the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation is a government instrumentality that performs very highly commendable work - I think every honorable senator agrees with that statement - there is great scope for it to perform extra work in this particular field. In view of the fact that the price of gold is not to be increased, perhaps for some years, it is my opinion that there should be a greater allocation for research in this field. I am anxious to know just how much of the appropriation last year was spent, and how much of the appropriation for this year will be spent, in this particular field of research.
– I am informed that the sort of activity in which the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation indulges in this particular field is confined to endeavours to discover better methods of extracting minerals from various types of ore. There has been very little done in gold mining. Some work has been done in this regard, but the C.S.I.R.O. is not concerning itself with the methods of winning the ore, or the methods of fabricating the metal. It is concerning itself with methods of extracting the metal from the ore in, if possible, a cheaper and simpler way.
– That would reduce costs.
– That ls so. This is the sort of field in which it is endeavouring to do so. Although it has not done very much, the C.S.I.R.O. has done some work on actual gold ore.
– Mr. Chairman, I would like to refer to the item Plant research. I would like to mention briefly the development by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation of the tropical legumes in the northern division. I am wondering whether the Minister, through his Department, would be able to give us a break up of the appropriation of £1,858,300 for this financial year, and say what amount is to be spent on research into tropical pastures. The Queensland division of the C.S.I.R.O. has a staff of, I think, 110 scientists. I have read the actual figure and have tried to check it up, but I could not do so. Therefore, I am quoting from memory. I believe that 33 of those scientists are engaged in tropical pasture research. I wonder whether the Minister could give us a little information of the work of the Organisation in relation to tropical pastures and, particularly, tropical legumes. I wish to pay a tribute to the officers of C.S.I.R.O. in the State of Queensland. I think it is fair to say that, in tackling the nutrition problem in a climate that has dry springs and early summers, the achievement in regard to tropical legumes represents a major break-through. I think it is fair to say also that we now lead the rest of the world in the use of this particular type of plant for pasture purposes. I go further and say that I believe this is the only country in the world that has used these pastures for fodder purposes alone.
I want to refer now to soils and irrigation. I wish to say again a few words in commendation of the type of problem that the C.S.I.R.O. has tackled in Queensland. I refer to the wallum country. This is not a question of rehabilitating soil. It is a case of dealing with what was regarded as a completely worthless piece of country, so worthless in fact that even at this stage a great deal of it has not been surveyed. In the lower part of the State there is an area of approximately two million acres. The C.S.I.R.O. moved into this area in 1950 and established a small station in conjunction with the Cunningham Laboratory in Brisbane. The results obtained have been nothing less than spectacular. In the first place a mineral deficiency was found. I think that the main minerals lacking were copper and molybdenum, and there was a requirement for phosphate. The initial dressing was at the rate of 4 cwt. to the acre with subsequent dressings at the rate of 1 cwt. to the acre. All this was rather costly; I think it amounted to somewhere in the vicinity of £38 an acre. But when we look at the turn-off from this area in terms of beast area, it will be seen that there has been another break-through.
The grazing capacity has been tested over a 14-year period. I remind the Committee that there was no possible chance of fattening a bullock on this country at all at one time, regardless of the area used. The first experiment started with a bullock to 3i acres, and it proved successful. 1 will not bore honorable senators with the details, but I should like to bring them up to date with the position last year, when a bullock to H acres was turned off. I can give fairly accurate figures. The bullocks were bred in the Brisbane area on sandstone country and removed to Beerwah in the wallum country. It is proper coastal wallum. They were weaned at six months and put on to the country without any supplementary rations. They were fed on grasses plus legumes, and were killed at 27 months with a turn-off of 540 lb. per head. I think it would have been wrong to let this occasion pass without saying something about this matter.
I should like to ask the Minister whether everything has been done which could have been done to line up the results of research. I have found very great overlapping. I know that the States play a leading role in this type of thing. I do not want to create the impression that I subscribe to coordination of research; I do not. However, I have found in Queensland that there is a great overlapping in extension work. For instance, the C.S.I.R.O. might introduce a plant and put it through a proper period of quarantine. A State then takes up the plant and puts it through exactly the same process before the plant is released. I think we would have much more effective research if we could have some authority - a State or otherwise - that would adopt the quarantine carried out by the C.S.I.R.O. as a standard requirement. I ask this question in order to find out whether the opportunity is being taken to approach the State on this matter.
I should like also to ask the Minister whether he could give some elucidation of the progress of the expansion of the research laboratory at Townsville. It is my view that this laboratory will contribute much more quickly than will the Cunningham Laboratory, because it is centred in the dry tropics and is within easy reach of the wet tropics. Having had the basic research carried out at Brisbane at the Cunningham station, we should get some very quick and worthwhile results at Townsville.
The budget for the C.S.I.R.O. is quite large, but I do not think it is large enough. If we were to get down to spending, say, £20 million or something of that order on research, then, with the foundations we have laid, we would start to go places. I ask the Minister one further question. Is there any sign of a holdup in research work due to a shortage of, say, tropical scientists, particularly agricultural scientists, and are staffing requirements in line with the overall expansion of the budget?
, - I wish to return to a matter that I raised earlier. It is stated in the annual report of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation that one of the most serious problems facing the Executive is the urgent need to accelerate the building programme so as to provide adequate accommodation for scientists throughout the Organisation. Reference is made to the grave shortage of laboratory accommodation. Earlier when I pointed out that in the estimates for the CS.1.R.O. - in Division No. 150, sub-division 3, item 03 - the proposed vote bad been reduced, the Minister said that laboratory accommodation was dealt with in the estimates for the Department of Works. He said that the Item in the estimates for the C.S.I.R.O. did not really cover laboratory accommodation. In the estimates for the Department of Works - in Division No. 610, item 04 - it will be seen that the provision there for the C.S.I.R.O. has dropped from £1,223,000 to £1,073,000. In the other relevant section of the estimates, namely, those for the Department of the Interior - Division No. 314, item 03 - it will be seen that for the acquisition of sites and buildings there has been a drop In the appropriation from £195,000 in 1963-64 to £22,000 this year.
Whether we look at the estimates for the Department of Works or at those for the Department of the Interior to find a solution to this urgent problem that is facing the C.S.I.R.O., on the surface we do not find a solution in any appropriation for this year. I should like the Minister, if he would, to clarify that matter for me.
Another matter on which I should like information is the decrease in the number of scientists in important sections of the Organisation. Could the Minister explain why the number of scientists in and the provision made for the section dealing with forest products has been reduced, notwithstanding the extraordinary importance of this matter at the present time? So important is it that an Australian Forestry Council has been constituted. The Commonwealth and the States recognise that a great deal of work ought to be performed in this field. There has been a drop in the number of research officers in the forest products section. There has been a drop also in the numbers in the mechanical engineering, fisheries and oceanography sections.
– What are you quoting from?
– I asked a question on 6th May of this year.
– Are you quoting figures from anything that I can check here?
– Yes. On 6th May 1964 a question on notice was answered by the Minister.
- Senator Murphy, we are dealing with Division No, 150.
– Yes, but all of these matters are dealt with under Division No. 150, sub-division 4, Investigations, and I am dealing with the particular investigations listed thereunder and the amounts provided. The Minister asked the source of the information which I am putting to him. That information is contained in an answer to a question which I asked in the Senate on 6th May 1964. It deals with the research officers in each of the various sections which are listed under sub-division 4’, Investigations. It appears that there has been a drop in the number of research officers over the past five years in coal research and in building research, which are matters of great importance to the community. We have had discussions on coal research in this chamber, and we know of the report which has been presented to the Parliament. We know of the urgency of the matter. Again, building research is of great importance to the community, and yet in these various sections which I have mentioned there has been an actual decrease in the number of research officers engaged. This is against a background that there is, apparently, no opportunity available to this Organisation to extend its activities into other fields. One does not find under sub-division 4 - Investigations - a list of new fields that have been entered by the Organisation. One would think that with an expanding community there would be new fields of investigation for the Organisation. It would appear that the Organisation has been cramped in its activities.
I think that Senator Sherrington mentioned the amounts which have been spent. If you, Mr. Chairman, Senator Sherrington and other honorable senators were to look at Division No. 150, sub-division 3, item 04, Scientific computing equipment, you would see that an amount of £1,500,000 is to be spent on that item. Under Division No. 150, sub-division 4, item 20, an amount of £200,500 is provided for a computing laboratory. So more than £1½ million of the total increase in the estimates for the Organisation is attributable to those items. They are important, but when one subtracts that amount and considers the increase in the structure, it is apparent that this Organisation is at a standstill. 1 am speaking of it organisationally, of its scope and of the number of persons engaged in its work. I am not saying that the work which has been done within the scope permitted of it has not been done well. I think we all realise that it has been. We are extremely proud of it, but it is being cramped.
– Would not this equipment be a prerequisite to extending the number of scientists?
– I am not suggesting that all of this amount should not be spent on equipment. 1 am merely pointing out that if one deducts that amount and looks at the manpower available, one sees that there has been no real increase commensurate with the problems that are facing the Organisation and the community. There is no more than 2 per cent, increase in the number of research scientists this year. One knows that this is barely keeping up with the population increase. We have new problems vo face, but they are not really being faced at the present time.
– Would not the computers assist in this directon?
– I am not denying that the computers would be valuable. I welcome the fact that there is provision made for them. But that is not the point. When one deducts this amount and when one looks at the rest of the activities, it is apparent that the Organisation is being extremely restricted and is not being expanded as it ought to be expanded.
One has only to read the remarks of the Chairman, Sir Frederick White, in a publication entitled “ Strategy of Australian Science “ to see that the Organisation is not able to fulfill its functions as it ought to be able to. No doubt the Chairman reflects the views of the organisation and of scientists generally in the community, and I suppose be has some limitations placed on him. Far more work is required of this Organisation, but it cannot do it because it is being restricted by the Government, lt is important to realise that this Organisation has functions not merely in relation to investigations on its own account, but also in stirring up the rest of the community and in seeing to it that there is no overlapping of scientific effort. In effect, it has to act as a stimulus to the rest of the community, lt is the creature of this Parliament. It ought to be a body which, through the Minister, is able to give proper advice to the Parliament so that the scientific needs of the community can be assessed and dealt with adequately. If one reads the remarks of the Chairman, it is apparent that the scientific needs of the community are not being attended to adequately.
– Senator Sherrington asked me some questions regarding the amount of money being spent on tropical pastures. Excluding the amount of capital being provided for the laboratory and the farm, the sum is £320,000 or £330,000. The construction of the tropical pastures laboratory is progressing very quickly indeed. It was thought that it would be finished by October, 1965, but, in fact, the latest prognosis is that it will be finished in March 1965, which brings forward that section of the effort quite considerably. As 1 said, excluding all the capital for the laboratory and excluding the capital for the farm, the amount being expended is in the vicinity of £330,000.
I do not think there is any overlapping in Queensland, or in any other State, in the field of extension services because the States themselves are very keen to guard what they believe to be their rights to carry out extension services. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation itself does very little, except, perhaps with organisations of farmers who ask for a C.S.I.R.O. officer to go along and make known the latest methods or the latest discoveries in some particular field. I rather agree with what 1 think, Senator Sherrington indicated, that very often the new methods, new species, new pasture plants or new methods of treating pasture plants, which have been discovered and tested by the C.S.I.R.O., do not, as quickly as they should, become known to the people who ultimately have to use them. However, the
C.S.I.R.O. makes these matters known to the State Departments of Agriculture and it endeavours to do its best to liaise with them. Those Departments then carry on the extension services themselves.
Senator Murphy raised the question of laboratories. All I can say in reply is that the money which has been made available to this Organisation for buildings and equipment used to appear, in the old form of the Estimates, and perhaps it will so appear in the Estimates that we will have presented to us next year, under Division No. 941 and Division No. 945. The total sum of money available for equipment and new capital works of all kinds has been increasing steadily. In 1962-63 the sum available was approximately £960,000; in 1963-64, approximately £1,787,000; and in 1964-65 it will be approximately £3,108,000. As has been pointed out, of the proposed appropriation for 1964-65 a sum of approximately £1.5 million will be used for the purchase of a computer. That indicates that the C.S.I.R.O., when making up its own mind about how it wished to spend the money that would be available to it, decided that a computer would be of the highest value, just as previously it decided that a phytotron would be of the highest value. I do not think there will be a rapid catching up of the laboratory requirements of the Organisation. However, a year or so ago, in contradistinction to what used to happen in the past when a new programme was sought to be embarked upon, a procedure was inaugurated whereby a new line of endeavour is taken as a package deal and it is decided whether funds will be available for it. The package deal includes the initial capital requirements, the running expenses and the staff required.
The sum that can be provided for capital purposes for the Organisation is decided by the Government and is obviously, as I said before, a matter for debate. That amount has been increasing steadily over the years. The Organisation is not at a standstill, nor is the size of its scientific staff or research staff dropping. The total increase in the number of people working as scientists and research staff for the C.S.I.R.O. this year will be 132 or perhaps more. There has not been a physical reduction in the number of research officers and experimental officers which the figures mentioned by Senator
Murphy would seem to indicate. Over the last five or six months a number of people who were previously classified as research officers or experimental officers have been reclassified as scientific service officers to satisfy various Public Service Board requirements and for other reasons. Most of the divisions to which the honorable senator referred have neither increased nor decreased. The deduction to be drawn from the figures that Senator Murphy mentioned is not that overall there has been a reduction but that there has been a reclassification. As I mentioned earlier, the total increase in the number of these officers during this year will be 132 or even more.
I do not think that during this debate I shall comment upon or debate with Senator Murphy the question as to whether the C.S.I.R.O. ought to be given more money; how much it ought to be given if more is to be available; or whether it has the power - I do not think it has - to set up an authority to see that there is no overlapping in scientific work. These are matters for debate, but they cannot be dealt with during the debate on the Estimates.
.- I find myself in the extraordinarily difficult position of trying to speak with more lusty cynicism than seems to be characteristic of other honorable senators when they are examining the estimates for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. I believe that the Government, the Parliament and the public generally tend to be bluffed by the C.S.I.R.O., which is beginning to exist as an organisation for its own sake rather than for the purpose of producing what the Parliament might reasonably expect it to produce. I am addressing my remarks, as a result of the comments of Senator Scott, to the proposed appropriation for wild life under Division No. 150. The appropriation for the investigation of wild life has been creeping up over the years. Senator Scott mentioned the magnificent work that had been done by the C.S.I.R.O. in relation to myxomatosis. The Organisation has been using myxomatosis as a slogan for 15 or 16 years to enable it to get increased appropriations. Investigation by the Organization into the use of myxomatosis was put aside long before 1939 as having no future whatever in the control of rabbits. It was only in early 1949 when a group of men in Melbourne approached Mr. Chifley, the then Prime Minister, and pointed out to him that the production of sufficient wire netting to overtake deferred maintenance of rabbit-proof fencing was not within Australia’s manufacturing capacity and that the investigation into myxomatosis should be re-opened with the use of primary producers’ funds held by the Australian Wool Board that Mr. Chifley directed the Organisation to re-open its investigations. lt was at that stage, and only at that stage, under the strongest possible political direction by the Prime Minister of the day that a lease was taken of the Corowa common and myxomatosis was taken out of cold storage. Then a long and laborious investigation began. The farmers, who had no wire netting at that stage, noticed that the rabbits on the Corowa common were dying so they used to come and steal them at night. The scientists of the C.S.I.R.O. spent the next six months trying to find the vector which was causing the spread of myxomatosis. What had happened was the result of two legged farmers, using rationed petrol, appearing there during the night. That is the story of myxomatosis.
I find myself wondering whether the Organisation should not confine itself to applied scientific research and whether it should not pass back original scientific research to the Australian universities. Original research should never have been removed from the universities. The provision of a sum of £273,300 for the investigation of wild life affords an interesting illustration of applied scientific research. I wish to direct the attention of honorable senators to the report of the C.S.I.R.O. for 1962-63. If honorable senators have a copy of this report - apparently they have not - and if they turn to page 42 they will find a passage which is headed “ Feedback Mechanisms in Rabbit Populations “. So that the Parliament may understand feedback mechanisms in rabbit populations - quite frankly, I cannot - the following passage has been printed -
The role of behavioural and physiological feedback mechanisms in population regulation is a central theme in mammal population research. Do mammal populations possess intrinsic mechanisms which react to density changes in such a way as to control numbers at levels which prevent catostrophic mortalities and the threat of extinction?
That is the feedback mechanism in rabbit populations. 1 was curious enough to tura to the report for 1963-64. At page 56, it has a section headed “ Reproduction in the Rabbit”. There has been an advance since the examination of the feedback mechanisms in rabbit populations. My people at home will be interested to know this. The second paragraph of the section reads -
Rains in autumn produced a response in growth of food plants which was apparent as early as the second day after the rain started. An associated response occurred in the rabbit population, and mating, ovulation, and pregnancy first occurred about one week after the rain. Within six weeks of the rain, 80 per cent, or more of the adult females were pregnant or lactating.
I shall be grateful if there is any possibility of the Minister’s explaining to me, in relation to this fundamental research which has been conducted on wild life since 1948-49, how much of the expenditure has been devoted to feedback mechanisms in rabbit populations.
– The habits of rabbit populations described by Senator Cormack are very interesting indeed. I am quite certain that despite what has been said, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation has over the years made a tremendous contribution to the advancement of nearly every section of primary and secondary industry in Australia. However, in my view it has been purposely restrained and restricted because of Government policy over the past 15 years or so. The items that we have under discussion now involve a total expenditure of £14,135,000. In a total Budget of £1,094 million this is the amount which is devoted to scientific and industrial research. A country which is directing so small a proportion of its revenue to matters of such tremendous importance is missing a great opportunity in this day and age not only to maintain the status quo but also to expand as nearly every country with a vision of the future is doing. We possibly compare with some of the very minor, backward countries in respect of the proportion of national revenue directed to this purpose. Senator Cormack has criticised the Organisation as a power unto itself. I say that it is restricted by the funds that it has available, and I should like to see its activities doubled, trebled and quadrupled, because it will be on the basis of science and research that any modern country will survive. 1 believe that the ultimate development of myxomatosis is the most spectacular and exciting of the contributions of science to primary industries in Australia. The Government has little cause for self praise in relation to the prosperity that it claims it has won, because myxomatosis has overcome the scourge of periodic rabbit plagues anc! made possible a higher carrying capacity of pastures and even a better quality wool. We have seen the contribution made by the C.S.I.R.O. with the development of dieldrin, diazinon and other agents for combating the blowfly. The Organisation has made great break-throughs and had tremendous successes. However, I believe that it is not getting its message through quickly enough to the producers. I should not like to hazard a guess as to whether the producer is lazy about his reading or whether the technique of getting the message to him is faulty.
Earlier, when we were discussing the estimates for the Department of Health, we noted that £200,000 was being spent on cattle tick control in New South Wales. This one one of the biggest problems in the north of Australia. The C.S.I.R.O. also is trying to solve it. An enormous amount of labour and difficulty is involved in handling cattle affected by ticks. Some cattle have to be dipped every month or six weeks to keep them from losing condition. Tremendous waste results from tick infestation. I was very pleased to note that the Organisation reports quite a break-through in research into the incidence of cattle tick and its effect on various breeds of cattle. It is quite well known that the Brahman and Zebu breeds are more tick resistant than susceptible British breeds, but it has also been found that some British breeds are resistant or partly resistant and that they can transmit to their offspring genetic qualities that make the offspring tick resistant. Of the funds that have been directed to research into pests and parasites that affect the industry, the Cattle and Beef Research Trust Account is one of the most important. The national loss sustained from tick infestation is hard to estimate.
I have been through the tick infested area of northern New South Wales, and I must say that the inspection and quarantine areas are faithfully policed. But that is only an effect; we are not getting at the cause of the problem. These areas are continually policed by the use of road blocks and the inspection even of the boots of small cars and of utility trucks to make sure that tick infested materials, such as plants, are not brought to the tick free areas, but there is a challenge to the C.S.I.R.O. to proceed along the lines which it has evidently been following. Eventually the men who are breeding, raising and fattening cattle must become more active in co-operating with the C.S.I.R.O. The Organisation can do the experimental work and give a lead to the cattle raisers. It can explain to the cattle men that there are tick resistant strains of cattle and that they must cull their herds carefully and very soon.
In Tasmania we have had contagious abortion in cattle, vibriosis and other diseases which are difficult to combat but the Department of Agriculture has attacked these diseases. It has isolated cattle suffering from contagious abortion and has had a lot of co-operation from dairymen. There has also been some resistance from certain sections who do not want to co-operate with the Department. However, the area where they raise their cattle has been isolated and they are not permitted to sell their stock in any other part of Tasmania.
The trouble in the tick areas is that many English breeds of cattle are susceptible to tick and are wonderful hosts for the pest. One beast can produce hundreds of thousands of mature ticks which feast on the lifeblood of the cattle and then fall off and complete the cycle. The people concerned are creating a tremendous burden not only for the stock but also for the community. They are making control of cattle tick by officers of the C.S.I.R.O. and others more difficult. There was a breakthrough when it was found that selected tick resistant cattle could be bred. The distribution of these cattle through the tick areas of New South Wales and Queensland should be encouraged. Those who raise cattle might have to change their allegiance from the traditional English breeds. Some cattle men like the long haired English breeds such as Poll Angus and Herefords.
– Do those breeds have long hair in Tasmania?
– They are long haired and they have sweating characteristics different from those of other breeds. They are generally more susceptible to the cattle tick than are the Brahman and Zebu breeds. The point I am making is that we cannot afford the luxury of English breeds in the tick areas.I put it as strongly as that. Growers who are taking up the manpower of the country by dipping cattle five or six times a year are not getting anywhere with those methods. They are not achieving any control of the pest. Thanks to the C.S.I.R.O. they now have an opportunity to set up studs of tick resistant cattle. I understand that these cattle transmit their tick resistant qualities to their progeny. By doing this, the cattle raisers can overcome a very serious economic problem.
More publicity should be given to the fact that Zebu and Brahman cattle are being bred and that other tick resistant stock is available for northern Australia. The public relations officers of the C.S.I.R.O. should be in the field to tell the cattlemen that the traditional English breeds are costing the nation too much in the tick areas.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– No doubt the report of Senator O’Byrne’s speech in “ Hansard “ will be read by officers of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. I wish to refer to the honorable senator’s initial remarks that we were voting only £14 million for the C.S.I.R.O. to spend on research this year. From a glance at the estimates, it would appear that this is so, but in fact it is not the position. What we are voting is about £19¼ million for expenditure by this Organisation.
– But £3 million of it is in the form of presents from other organisations.
– That is not necessarily true. Quite a large sum for the C.S.I.R.O. comes from other organisations, but those organisations get at least 50 per cent., and in some cases considerably more, back from the Commonwealth Government in the form of matching funds. What is relevant is the total amount available to the C.S.I.R.O. to spend, and as a matter of fact it is about £19¼ million when the works vote of £1.73 million is taken into account. I was interested in Senator Cormack’s contribution on wild life and life among the rabbits. The investigations of the C.S.I.R.O. in this field are not confined to rabbits. The Wildlife Survey Section of the C.S.I.R.O. has a good deal to do with discovering the habits of kangaroos - whether they cause any damage and whether they cause harm to the country. The Section also tries to learn whether the country would be harmed if kangaroos were destroyed. It is interested in the natural balance between birds, animals and plants in various parts of Australia. It is endeavouring to find methods of destroying dingoes and it is interested in examining just what happens with wild life. Of course, everybody knows that there is a certain train of events. The rain falls, the grass grows, the rabbits eat the grass and feel better and when they feel better they have more rabbits. But a close examination of these things leads to - and has, in fact, led to - an ability to decide at just what point in this process it is easiest and cheapest and best to poison rabbits. If the rabbits feel good enough, they will eat bait which at other times they would leave alone.
This research has also led to an indication of the best way to lay poison on rabbit trails. A close examination has shown that a particular tribe of rabbits occupies a particular area of land and drives out other rabbits which seek to get into it. It is necessary to bait a trail in a particular way instead of straight up the middle to get rabbits. So there is some method in study of this kind.
– I present a report by the Tariff Board on plastic coated fibre glass products.
– I present the third report of the Printing Committee.
Report -by leave - adopted.
Motion (by Senator Gorton) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
.- I rise, I hope with some forbearance from my colleagues, to direct attention to a matter which I consider to be of some importance not only to the Senate but also the Parliament as a whole.I refer to the Parliamentary Library. I know that you, Mr. President, are the Chairman of the Library Committee.I assure you that what I am about to say is not intended as any reflection either upon your chairmanship or upon the senators and members who devote so much time to the Parliamentary Library. I also wish to make it clear at once that any criticisms I may make have no application whatever to the staff of the Parliamentary Library, which is the most loyal, hardworking and devoted parliamentary staff that it is possible to find.
My problem relates to the position in which you, Sir, and the other members of the Library Committee find yourselves - difficulties associated with the division of the Library into the National Library and the Parliamentary Library. I hope that time will show the way in which an effective administrative solution can be found, but at present the Library is not able to give to the Parliament the service that the Parliament requires.
With the increasing intrusion of governments into all levels of life in the community, we find that since the Commonwealth Parliament first sat in Melbourne 60 years ago the problems that confront the Parliament have increased with great speed and in almost arithmetical progression. To illustrate my point, tonight we have been dealing with two or three sections of the Estimates which require members and senators to refer to technical sources to enable them to make proper and effective contributions to the debate. You will recollect, Mr. President, that last April I appealed to you to see whether it was pos sible for the Library to have in its possession the reports of the proceedings of the United Nations Organisation and of the Organisation’s various committees. In anticipation of the debate on the proposed appropriation for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, I went to the Library this week and asked the very disturbed and distressed librarians if it was now possible to get a report of the proceedings of the Fourth Committee - the Trusteeship Committee - of the United Nations Organisation. The Parliamentary Library, however, has received no papers relating to proceedings of the United Nations Organisation since last November. This illustrates the difficulties arising from separating the Library into two parts.
I suggest that one of the reasons why the level of debates in the Parliament is not as high as it should be - the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) referred to this matter in an address to the National Press Club not long ago - is that the average member of Parliament -I regard myself in that way - is not able to obtain from the Parliamentary Library those reference and source materials without which no member or senator can appropriately address himself to the nation’s problems. One member of the Library Committee with whom this afternoon I had a friendly discussion, asI always do, said that senators and members do not use the Library as effectively and as often as they should. I replied that it might be true that certain senators and members who had the benefit of long scholastic training knew how to use a library, but I, not having had that advantage in my life, did not know how to use a library as well as, for example, a lawyer. I said that with some degree of envy.
The Parliamentary Library cannot fulfil its function unless it is able to provide, at the shortest notice, not only the information that senators and members require to enable them to make effective contributions to the debates but also the means by which the average senator and member may be guided to the source of the materials that he requires for an effective parliamentary life. Having raised this matter on the motion for the adjournment, I earnestly beseech you, Mr. President, to bring to bear all the weighty influence that you command in this Parliament to see that the Library reaches a standard commensurate with the dignity and requirements of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) [10.28].- I welcome your remarks, Senator Cormack. In the division of the Library considerable help will be needed from senators and members. We want them to state their requirements and to tell us where the Parliamentary Library is deficient. We are completely dependent on all of you to point out deficiencies. Do not feel that in doing so you will be critical of your Committee or of the Library. You will be helpful, as Senator Cormack has been tonight in raising this subject. Secondly, we are endeavouring to establish a reference section in the Library. I sincerely ask you all to make use of the services that we have now, because that will justify increasing those services and providing a much more reliable and readily accessible reference section than we have had in the past. There is a need for friendly co-operation in a matter in which you are all interested.
I am pleased that Senator Cormack has directed attention to this subject tonight. It is right that he should do so, and it is right that any honorable senator who finds that the Library is short of material should direct our attention to that. Your remarks will be noted, Senator Cormack, and I will have the matter investigated.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.30 p.m. till Tuesday, 13th October at 3 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 1 October 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1964/19641001_senate_25_s26/>.