25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMuIlin) took the chair at 1 1 a.m., and read prayers.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Now that the Russians have successfully launched a space ship, which venture has been acclaimed by the world, has the Australian Government sent a message of congratulation to the Russians, or will it be left to the Minister for External Affairs to convey personally Australia’s congratulations when he visits Moscow shortly? On the subject of space ships, has the Australian Government or have its legal advisers considered the important question of where air ends and space begins, or are Australian legal advisers very much in the clouds on laws relating to space? Has the Government or have its legal advisers examined the views of Professor John Cooper of the United States who considers that countries should have jurisdiction from ground level up to 300 miles, with non-military craft having transit rights? Finally, if a space ship makes a forced landing and flattens a building, can the Minister or his advisers tell the Australian people who or what do the owners sue and where do they sue him, them or it?
– I am unaware of the arrangements, if any, that have been made by the Australian Government for forwarding congratulations to the Russian Government on its recent space achievement. 1 have no doubt that the matter will have exercised the mind of the Minister for External Affairs and that he has considered it. As to the legal implications of space flights, I simply tell the honorable senator that I do not know the answer. I shall see whether there is any information available that might be of interest to him.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. As the members of the Opposition have attacked the AttorneyGeneral for his statement about Mr. Sachs, can the Minister add anything to what he said last night?
– Yes. The law case in the courts in which Mr. Sachs admitted in evidence that he was a Communist - not that he had been a Communist but was a Communist - took place in August and September 1945. The name of the case was Sachs versus Dupreez, and the judge was Neser J. The judge held that it was established that Sachs had used the “ Garment Worker “, which is the official publication of the garment workers union, to spread Communism amongst garment workers. He also criticised Mr. Sachs for having been untruthful and for having been less than candid in explaining his changed attitude to the war after Russia became involved in it.
Whether the judge was right or wrong on that is immaterial, and whether, in fact, Mr. Sachs at that time was a Communist is immaterial. What is material is that in this case Mr. Sachs stated in evidence that he was a Communist. That is a fact. That is the only fact which was stated by the Attorney-General. It was not stated for the purpose of calling Mr. Sachs a Communist, because the Attorney-General did not do that. It was stated, following a question from the Leader of the Opposition, as a justification for refusing to say that Mr. Sachs was not a Communist.
I think the Attorney-General was entirely justified in making that factual statement. I believe that the kind of intemperate and baseless attack that was made on his veracity last night by Senators Cavanagh and Cohen is something that should not occur in this Senate. We may expect that from Senator Cavanagh but can only regret it when it comes from Senator Cohen.
– Will the Minister representing the Attorney-General make available for study by honorable senators the full report of the case to which he has referred? Was that the case in which Mr. Sachs was awarded damages by the trial judge for defamation, with, I think, costs amounting to many thousands of pounds?
– The case referred to is that in which Mr. Sachs was awarded £300 damages, not on the ground that the statements made against him were untrue but on the ground that they were made in malice. The damages were awarded on that ground alone. The statements, as such, were held by the trial judge to be true. Senator
Cohen apparently has plenty of opportunities to obtain these law case reports for himself, so I shall leave it to him to get the one that he requires from the AttorneyGeneral if he wishes to do so.
– My question to the Minister for Customs and Excise is rather more mundane. It emanates from a query that I have had from a member of the South Australian Parliament. It is in two parts. First, what are the amounts of the excise duties on (a) motor spirit and (b) diesel fuel? Secondly, will the Minister inform me of the reason for the difference in the excise duties that apparently exists and state the background of such difference?
– The honorable senator indicated to me earlier that he proposed to ask this question. The excise on motor spirit is 1 If d. a gallon. The excise on diesel fuel is ls. a gallon when the diesel fuel is used in propelling a road vehicle on a public road. Diesel fuel used for other purposes does not attract any excise duty, as all honorable senators no doubt realise. Thus it will be seen that there is a difference of only id. a gallon between the excise on motor spirit and that on diesel fuel. In 1957, when diesel fuel duties were first introduced, the excise on motor fuel was Hid. a gallon and on diesel fuel ls. a gallon. At that time the difference was id. a gallon.
During the period from 1957 to 1961 there were a number of variations in the duty, as distinct from the excise, on imported motor spirit and on imported diesel fuel. It would appear that the current excise and/or duties on the two commodities, which were fixed by the Tariff Board, arose from a proposal to revise and simplify the tariff structure. I make this point because after 1961, and as at present, the customs duty on imported motor spirit is the same as the excise duty on Australian refined motor spirit, namely, 11¾d a gallon, and the customs duty on imported diesel fuel is the same as the excise duty on diesel fuel refined in Australia, namely, ls. a gallon. The rate of ls. on diesel fuel, as compared with 11 Id. on motor spirit, to some extent takes into account the comparative merits of the two fuels and the respective circumstances under which they are employed in propelling road vehicles. I think everybody will appreciate that you are not comparing like with like when you compare motor spirit with diesel fuel. The object of the imposition of the diesel fuel duty of ls. per gallon in 1957 on fuel used in diesel-engined road vehicles on public roads was to overcome an anomaly existing at the time, whereby operators of petrol driven vehicles were contributing to revenue while operators of diesel vehicles were not.
– I direct two questions to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. When the spate of royal visits has ceased, when the din of democratic political disputation has died away in England and the United States of America, and when political passions have been dissipated, will the Government consider inviting the President of the United States and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom to Australia? Would not visits by two such prominent persons be more than a mere social event and would they not help Australia in its struggle to remain free?
– I do not think that the Government would adopt to royal visits an attitude any different from that which it has adopted in the past. Royal visitors to this country are very welcome. They are welcomed by the Government and they are enthusiastically received by the people. I am sure that it is the personal hope of vast numbers of Australians that these visits will be repeated and encouraged. I think that the question whether the President of the United States of America and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom might be asked to visit Australia is one which in appropriate circumstances the Government might well look at with a kindly eye. We are on the closest possible terms with the United States. Although it is not usually the practice, because of pressure of business,- for the President to leave his own country, should there be an appropriate occasion I am sure such a visit would be welcomed by the Australian people. With regard to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom visiting this country, need I remind the Senate that it was at the invitation of this Government that the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Mr. Macmillan, came here? That set a pattern which might well be followed in future by whatever government is in power.
– I do not think that there is any need for me to give such an assurance. No Australian airline would want to purchase an aircraft until it was thoroughly satisfied about the safety standards of the machine. I read the article to which the honorable senator has referred. I had the pleasure of seeing the Concorde at Bristol. This aircraft is a British-French project, and one thing that I was impressed with was the desire of the designers to produce an aircraft which will be speedy and safe. Greater attention is also being paid to the development of airliners which can land and take off with a shorter runway. Research in this direction is continuing. This is most important to Australia which has so many aerodromes to construct and maintain. With the development of airliners which can take off and land on shorter runways, money which would be used to construct longer runways can be spread over more aerodromes with shorter runways with benefit to the Australiantaxpayer.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Air. Has the Minister seen Press reports which claim that the Mirage supersonic fighter can never be used outside Australia because the necessary ground electronic control equipment is not available in Australia?
If the reports are correct, can the Minister inform the Senate when the necessary electronic equipment will be available?
– I have not seen the report and the question raises such vital issues that I suggest the honorable senator put it on notice. I want the honorable senator to get a reply direct from the Minister for Air. To suggest that the Royal Australian Air Force would buy the latest and most efficient fighter aircraft in the world and have it confined to a given area is just too silly for words. For that reason, I want the Minister for Air to give the correct details to the honorable senator himself.
– Will the Minister for Civil Aviation have inquiries made into the routes followed by both airlines serving the north west coast of Tasmania with a view to altering the system under which aircraft operated by each company arrives at Burnie from Melbourne within a few minutes of each other and then flies to Devonport and returns to Melbourne? Is the Minister aware that previously each aircraft flew in the opposite direction to the other and so provided each centre with a direct service to and from Melbourne? This system operated for a long period to the great satisfaction of the people using the service. Why is it not possible to return to that very desirable arrangement?
– Airways schedules are a matter for the airlines concerned to decide upon. They have to live by the services they give. In the case of the service to which the honorable senator has referred, the airlines have operated in the way that he mentioned. I have had some discussions with the airlines which are being continued to see whether we can get some alteration of schedules so that the present arrangement will be improved. The problem in relation to Tasmania is peculiar to that State. I do not know why the previous schedule was changed but I will consult with the airlines on this matter and ascertain whether they can revert to it.
– I direct a ques tion to the Minister representing the Minister for the Army. Is it a fact, as reported in the Press, that Australian servicemen serving in Vietnam are not eligible for Australian awards for gallantry but are eligible for British awards? If this is so, does it mean that all conditions of service and repatriation benefits are in accord with British rather than Australian Army regulations?
– According to information provided by the Army, repatriation benefits will apply to service in Borneo. The necessary regulations under the Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Act will be promulgated shortly and, as authorised by that Act, will have retrospective effect to cover the service of Australian personnel who have served in that area. Bravery or acts of gallantry performed by members of the Australian forces are recognised by awards such as the Military Cross, Military Medal or higher awards as well as by commendations, for example, the Queen’s Commendation. Australian servicemen serving in South Vietnam, Borneo and Malaysia are eligible for these awards.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Health. Is it a fact that the Department of Health’s Northern Territory service will use a light aeroplane and a portable X-ray unit for a series of tuberculosis surveys in the top half of the Territory? Has any consideration been given to the use of aeroplanes and portable X-ray units for survey in other parts of Australia where the distances between large towns are very substantial?
– It is a fact that my Department has organised the use of a light aeroplane and a most modern piece of X-ray equipment to complete in great detail the mass chest X-ray of all inhabitants of the Northern Territory. This team will fossick out areas that have not previously been examined, and it is hoped that in this way a most comprehensive survey of the whole population will bc made. I am not quite sure of the purport of the honorable senator’s question about whether light aeroplanes arc used in other parts of Australia for this purpose. As the honorable senator knows, the Royal Flying Doctor Service has a most efficient service and I think some State Governments, including those of Western Australia and Victoria, have light aircraft that they use for emergency work. If the question refers to the transportation of
X-ray equipment to isolated areas, I think that at this point of time the Commonwealth Department of Health is the only Government Department which is giving such a service.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services seek clarification of the rights of employees of General Motors-Holden’s Pty. Ltd. in South Australia to social service payments as a result of being retrenched following the strike by employees of the company in Victoria? As I understand the position, the legal point at issue is whether employees who are out of work can be ruled to be on strike because of the carrying of a resolution in support of their colleagues who are on strike in Victoria.
– I shall make investigations on this issue on behalf of the honorable senator. My understanding is that members of a striking union are not entitled to the unemployment benefit. I add that this decision was taken in 1948 by a Labour government. Men who are laid off because of a strike in which their union is not participating may be considered for unemployment benefit, each application being treated according to the facts of the case. I shall have the question directed to the Minister for Social Services for any clarification that might be necessary.
– I address the following question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry: In view of consumers’ widely expressed desire for guidance as to the quality of articles purchased, will the good design label which is affixed by the Industrial Design Council of Australia through its recently established design centre in Melbourne indicate good quality as well as good design? Can the good design label be regarded as a seal of quality, which is a label upon which reliance is placed by consumers in many countries?
– I think it would be safe to say that any article which bears a good design label issued by the Industrial Design Council of Australia would be an article of good quality. The Industrial Design Council awards its good design label only to products that are designed by
Australians. The aim is to have an Australian designed article that is well constructed and functional, as well as having a pleasing appearance. I think I can say without hesitation that it would be an article of good quality.
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General whether uniforms are provided for switchboard operators employed by the Postal Department. If not, will the Minister investigate the matter and determine whether arrangements can be made for uniforms to be supplied?
– I do not know the answer to the honorable senator’s question. I shall bring it to the attention of my colleague and ask that the honorable senator be advised directly of the position.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Can the Minister state whether the Coordinator of the Rationalisation Committee has decided against an Ansett application for access to intermediate stopping points between Adelaide and Darwin? If so, can the honorable gentleman further state whether an appeal has been lodged by Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. against the Co-ordinator’s decision, and if an appeal has been lodged, when it is likely to be heard and whether it will be heard in public?
– I understand that under the rules of the Rationalisation Committee, the Director-General of Civil Aviation, who is the Co-ordinator, has to supply to the applicant detailed reasons for any refusal to grant an application or for any alteration to existing services. I understand that the Director-General has now supplied such reasons to the applicant, but I am not aware at the moment whether the applicant will proceed to appeal. In these cases appeals are heard by Mr. Justice Spicer.
– The company has 14 days to lodge an appeal?
– Does the Leader of the Government in the Senate agree that Dawn Fraser has brought great honour to
Australia by her wonderful performance in Tokyo? Will the Government give consideration to including the name of Dawn Fraser in the Government’s list of persons to be awarded honours by Her Majesty the Queen at the time of the 1965 New Year honours?
– I thought that your Party did not believe in the bestowal of honours.
– We will change on this occasion.
– I enthusiastically agree with the honorable senator’s praise of the effort of Dawn Fraser on behalf of Australia at the Tokyo Olympic Games. The other part of the honorable senators question relates to a matter which is not at any time discussed in public.
– I ask the Minister for Health a question in regard to mammography. Would the Minister give very serious consideration to the question of granting asistance to the States if they wish to take cancer-preventive measures and steps for the early diagnosis of cancer of the breast? Each year in Australia about 1,000 women die of cancer of the breast. Early diagnosis of cancer can now be greatly assisted by the use of the new technique of low voltage X-rays. At present Commonwealth assistance is granted so that mass X-rays may be used to discover the presence of tuberculosis. Will the Commonwealth Government grant assistance to the States to procure the necessary X-ray machines so that a campaign may be launched to induce women to undergo this diagnostic procedure?
– I believe that the honorable senator’s question demands a considered reply after I have consulted my officers. For that reason I would like the honorable senator to place his question on the notice paper.
(Question No. 263.)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Commonwealth Government to implement the recommendations of the Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television?
– My colleague, the Postmaster-General, has supplied the following answers - 1 and 2. I saw a newspaper report of a demonstration of this kind by 25 university students in Perth on 5th September.
(Question No. 295.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The Minister for Immigration has supplied the following answers -
Prior to the introduction of the new passport, the practice was to insert a stamp stating that the passport was not valid for travel to Communist countries; however, if the applicant desired to visit such a country, an endorsement was made by hand and in practice Australian passports were made valid for all countries the holder wished to visit.
The printed entry in the new passport reduces the need for special endorsements. The printed entry can, of course, be qualified should there be in any particular case some valid reason for limiting the geographical validity of a passport.
(Question No. 299.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
In which Asian countries is there an Australian Government Press Attache?
– The Minister for the Interior has provided the following reply -
Officers of the Australian News and Information Bureau are attached to the Australian High Commissions and Embassies in -
India - New Delhi.
Pakistan - Karachi.
Malaysia - Singapore, Kuala Lumpur.
Thailand - Bangkok.
Indonesia - Djakarta (vacant at present).
(Question No. 305.)
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable senator’s questions are as follows -
– I present the following report of the Tariff Board -
Nylon yarn (Dumping and Subsidies Act).
The report does not call for any legislative action.
– I have to report the receipt of a letter from the Speaker of the House of Assembly of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea conveying the terms of a resolution concerning self-“ government. The letter read as follows -
House of Assembly, Port Moresby. 24th September, 1964.
I have the honour to present the following Resolution moved by Mr. Matthias To Liman, M.H.A., and unanimously agreed to by the House of Assembly of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea on 2nd September, 1964: - “We the elected representatives of the people of Papua and New Guinea desire to convey to the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, the Trusteeship Council and the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization, the expressed wish of the people that they, the people, and they alone, be allowed to decide when the time is ripe for self-government in Papua and New Guinea, and the form that such government will take and the people’s further firm conviction that the road to self-government can best be travelled with one guide - and that guide the Administering Authority, and that undue pressure from without can lead only to that disruption, chaos and bloodshed which the people have observed with great alarm in certain newly independent countries.”
I have the honour to be Sir, Your obedient servant, (H. L. R. NIALL), Speaker.
Message received from the House of Representatives intimating that Mr. Bosnian had been appointed to fill the vacancy existing on the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works caused by the resignation of Mr. Dean.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act relating to the Defence Force.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Standing Orders suspended.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
In my statement in June dealing with the Australian defence review, amongst other matters, I announced two measures which I said would be the subject of legislation in the next session of Parliament. These measures were the establishment of volunteer emergency reserve forces and the provision for the calling up of citizen and reserve forces to the extent necessary to meet the requirements of all three Services in circumstances short of general war. I propose that this second reading speech should cover the three Bills whose purpose is to amend existing legislation to enable these measures to be put into effect in the three Services. I shall introduce the other two Bills later on in the morning. Certain other important amendments are also included.
The review in June was carried out against the background of instability in South-East Asia which shows no indication of improvement today nor in the foreseeable future. This is the area of direct strategic importance to Australia. Our treaty commitments and our vital interests demand that we should be in a position to commit troops at short notice and that we are prepared to make greater contributions than at present should the strategic situation demand it. With these considerations in mind the Government decided to establish a volunteer emergency reserve in each of the three Services. These forces will be fully trained, medically fit, and available for posting for operational service within a few days of the need arising. They will provide a ready means of supplementing field force units, increasing our cold war military capability and providing reinforcements in the initial stages of hostilities short of general war.
At the same time as the decision was made to form the Emergency Reserves, the Government decided also that there was a need to have regard to the circumstances of today when situations involving hostilities of a limited nature are more likely than general war. The citizen forces are only available under current defence legislation for call up in a time of war, as defined in the Defence Act, that is, when there is an attack or threatened attack on Australia or its Territories. It is necessary to provide for the more likely situations when hostilities occur which, although not posing an immediate direct threat of attack on Australia, could develop to the stage where Australia’s security could be gravely jeopardised. Under those circumstances, which are short of a time of war as defined in the Defence Act, it was decided that the citizen forces should be available to meet and maintain Australia’s military effort. These circumstances could arise with little warning.
The Bills will provide and define a clear progression in which members of the various parts of the defence force will become available for full time continuous service. First, the permanent forces of each Service will be available at all times. Secondly, if the defence situation requires it the GovernorGeneral may, by order, call out the Emergency Reserves of each Service. Thirdly, if the military situation deteriorates the Governor-General may then by proclamation declare a time of defence emergency. The effect of such a declaration is that, as well as continuing the liability of members of the permanent forces and Emergency Reserves to render continuous full time service for an indefinite period and enabling the Minister to call out the Regular Army Reserve, it also enables the GovernorGeneral by proclamation to call out the citizen forces. If this grave step has to be taken the Governor-General is obliged to report the reason for so doing to the Parliament.
The term “ time of defence emergency “ is defined in the Defence Bill. The particular circumstances giving rise to the proclamation of such a state could be of a varied nature all of which, however, would be so serious as to require a full explanation at the time of the proclamation. Should it be necessary to declare a state of war then the whole nation would be mobilised - by conscription.
I turn now to the specific provisions of the Bills. Clauses are included in each of the Bills to formally constitute the Emergency Reserves as part of the Navy, the Army, and the Air Force. The service to be rendered by these Reserves is set out in detail and provides that members of the Reserves may be called out for full time service by the Governor-General when he considers it desirable to do so. The Emergency Reserves may be required to serve for periods up to a maximum of 12 months at one time followed by equal periods during which members will return to civil life. In time of war or in time of defence emergency, however, they may be required to serve beyond 12 months; indeed at such times they will be required to serve until such emergencies no longer exist.
Members of the Emergency Reserves make themselves available for call up for full time service at short notice and at any time. As civilians, they therefore assume a serious and what could be a most demanding obligation. For this reason, members will receive a special bounty of £100 for the first year of service rising by £25 each year to £175 for the fourth and subsequent years, together with a gratuity of £55 for each call up for full time duty. Provisions for these payments will be made in the regulations.
An important part of the Defence Bill which will apply to the three Services is that part which deals with the safeguarding of the civil employment rights of members of the Reserves and Citizen Forces. It is most important that those men who voluntarily join those Forces should not be prejudiced or penalised in their employment because of the liabilities which they undertake in connection with their service or because of their absence from their civil occupation while performing full time service. Any such action on the part of an employer will constitute an offence. This should not, of course, be taken as a reflection upon employers generally, for the Government believes that with few exceptions the proposals will have the support of employers themselves and of their associations.
Subject to some qualifications, a member of the Reserves and Citizen Forces will be entitled, upon his return from a period of Defence service, to resume his employment with his former employer, or to be reinstated in employment with that employer’s successor if the employer has gone out of business. He will be protected from dismissal, except for legitimate causes, for a period after returning to his civil employment equal to the period which he has just spent on Defence service.
The qualifications of these rights are that the member, unless under a contract of apprenticeship, must have been employed by the employer for at least 30 days immediately prior to commencing a period of full time service and that he must present himself to his former employer, or that employer’s successor, for work within a reasonable period. The Bill also provides that a member who resumes his civil employment, provided that he remains in the employment for a period equal to that of his absence on full time service, will have the period of absence counted as time worked in employment for the purpose of computing rights to some entitlements such as leave and, where applicable, superannuation and pension funds. The provisions of the Bill in relation to the protection of civil employment rights are modelled upon those which operated during the last war and, since then, in relation to National Service Training.
Under existing law members of the Navy and the Air Force are obliged to serve within Australia or outside Australia whenever required to do so, but members of the military forces are only required to render overseas service if they volunteer to do so. Under the Defence Bill members of the military forces who volunteer for enlistment in those forces may be required to serve either within or beyond Australia. In practice, this brings no change in the conditions of service of the regular military forces because no person is enlisted in those forces unless he volunteers for overseas service. So far as the Citizen Military Forces are concerned, no person is accepted for service in those forces unless he volunteers to serve overseas in time of war. Under the new conditions of service that will apply to members of the Citizen Military Forces, they may be required to serve overseas in a time of defence emergency as well as in a time of war. When persons are accepted for enlistment in the Regular Army Emergency
Reserve, they will be required to serve overseas as well as in Australia.
It will be seen, therefore, that the conditions governing the service of members of the Citizen Military Forces will be considerably changed in relation to overseas service. In addition, the conditions of service applicable to Citizen Forces of the three Services will be changed because at present the Governor-General can call out the Citizen Forces only in time of war whereas under these Bills he may call them out in a time of defence emergency as well as in a time of war.
Members, therefore, should be given a statutory right to resign or to obtain their discharge if they are unwilling to serve under the changed conditions. Provisions to this effect are contained in each of the Bills and these provisions are consistent with the principle that the Defence Force shall be kept up by voluntary enlistment.
I pay a tribute to the members of the citizen forces who devote many leisure hours in training and developing their talents and skills so that should the need arise they can take their place effectively in the defence of Australia. They have declared their willingness to serve overseas in time of war and I have every confidence that they will be just as willing in time of defence emergency. When persons who do not volunteer are required to render service in the Citizen Military Forces - and here I refer, for example, to persons who are called up compulsorily in time of war - they are not required to serve overseas unless they undertake voluntarily to do so. However, once a person has given such a voluntary undertaking to serve overseas he is bound by that undertaking during the currency of that service.
Provision is also made in the legislation removing the statutory right of discharge in cases when a member’s term of engagement terminates in time of defence emergency, as well as in time of war as at present provided, and, in the case of the permanent forces, at a time when the Emergency Reserves are called out. It should be clearly understood that although members do not have a statutory right to discharge during these times there is no bar to their being discharged if the circumstances of any particular case justify it.
I will refer now to two measures which will afford greater flexibility in the management of our military forces especially should greater numbers be called upon in circumstances of the call up of the Emergency Reserves or in time of defence emergency. Firstly, a commanding officer was authorised in 1903 when dealing summarily with a soldier, sailor or airman to fine him £5. In those days this was a substantial penalty having regard to rates of pay at that time. Today a fine of £5 is so inadequate for the more serious breaches of discipline that commanding officers in the Army have found it necessary to remand soldiers for trial by court martial when they have felt their own summary powers were inadequate. This problem has not confronted commanding officers in the Navy or Air Force because they have much greater powers of summary punishment. It has therefore been considered desirable to meet some of the difficulties facing an Army commanding officer by increasing the fine which he may award from £5 to £20. This increase in fine should enable a commanding officer to reserve only serious cases for trial by court martial. Safeguards of the right to elect for trial by court martial will ensure that the increased powers will not be exercised harshly. In addition every summary award made by a commanding officer is reviewed by superior military authority who may quash or reduce the award.
Secondly, the present provisions of the Defence Act provide that when Australian troops are serving with the United Kingdom Forces outside Australia they are subject to the disciplinary provisions of the United Kingdom Army Act. The Defence Bill amends the relevant section to provide in essence that whenever Australian troops re serving outside Australia they are subject to the United Kingdom Army Act. It is inappropriate nowadays to restrict the application of the United Kingdom Army Act to circumstances when our forces are serving with the United Kingdom forces because it is very probable with our South East Asia Treaty Organisation commitments that our forces could be serving with American forces or those of S.E.A.T.O. countries. It is essential that our troops be subject to the Army Act as distinct from the peace time military code of discipline when they are serving outside Australia because it is the Army Act that gives courts martial power to try civil offences. Where the troops of one country are serving in another friendly country, the almost universal practice has developed whereby the Government of that friendly country concludes a status of forces agreement with the country sending the troops. Under such agreements, courts martial deal with servicemen who commit offences against members or in relation to the property of members of their own force, and the courts of that friendly country only try servicemen of a visiting force for offences against or in relation to their own citizens. lt is basic to such arrangements that courts martial have jurisdiction to try civil offences and this is the primary reason for widening the application of the Army Act to our military forces wherever serving overseas. It is not necessary to include any provision in the Naval Defence Bill or the Air Force Bill to this effect because the United Kingdom legislation applies, by reference, to those forces at all times whether they are within or outside Australia.
In making provision in the Bills for the constitution of the Emergency Reserves and to define the liability for service of members of those reserves, the opportunity was taken to provide uniform legislation for the three Services which spelt out in greater detail than at present not only the constitution of the various parts that make up each of the three Services but also to define the liability for service of members of each of those parts. The occasion has also been used to make certain necessary and urgent amendments to existing legislation. The first and probably the most important of these related to the resignation of officers.
The Government has taken the first oportunity to give effect to observations by the High Court that the Statutes should indicate more precisely .the circumstances in which an officer may reasonably expect to have his tender of resignation accepted or rejected. The High Court was unanimous in the judgment that the Crown retains the right to accept or to decline to accept an officer’s resignation. There is no intention to alter this basic law. However provision is now made ti show quite clearly the type of circumstances that must exist before a Service board would be entitled to refuse a resignation. The new provisions recognise the practice whereby the appropriate Service board makes a recommendation as to whether a resignation be accepted or refused and in cases where it is clear that a resignation should be refused the power to refuse is vested in the Service board without the necessity for the resignation to go forward to the Executive Council. In any other case the resignation will be forwarded to the Minister for transmission to the Governor-General and it may fairly be implied that in normal circumstances such a tender of resignation would be accepted. Provision is made however that if the Minister considers that an officer’s resignation should not be accepted unless he complies with certain conditions, the officer’s resignation would not be submitted to the Governor-General for acceptance until the officer has complied with the conditions.
There are a number of officers on whom considerable amounts of public money have been expended in furthering their education. I refer to the cost of putting officers through the naval and military colleges and the R.A.A.F. Academy, the training of undergraduates at universities for appointment as medical and dental officers and the post graduate courses which are made available to officers with the necssary potential. In many instances if an officer who has received these educational benefits wishes to resign, his resignation will be rejected unless he has given in return a predetermined period of service. There will be instances however where it is impracticable or inequitable to require an officer to continue to serve but in which it would be appropriate to grant him his release only if he reimburses the Commonwealth in whole or in part for the funds expended on him.
I refer now to another amendment which it is considered appropriate to deal with on this occasion. The present Defence Act provides for the establishment of a military college. There is no statutory authority for the Officer Cadet School at Portsea nor for the Austraiian Staff College at Queenscliff. The present Act also confines the admission of students to the Royal Military College to British subjects. The opportunity has therefore been taken to widen the eligibility of entry to the Royal Military College, in particular to allow soldiers of the Pacific Islands Regiment to enter that College. Pacific Islanders born in Papua are British subjects but those born in New Guinea are not. It is necessary therefore to remove this discriminatory bar. In addition, persons who are not British subjects but are members of the forces of friendly nations will be eligible for admission as students. Not only will the Defence Bill achieve this, but it will provide the necessity statutory authority for the setting up and government of other military instructional institutions in addition to the Royal Military College.
As it is well known, the phrase “ in time of war “ appears in many of the sections of the present Acts. It was necessary therefore to consider which of the sections should be amended to include reference to a “ time of defence emergency.” Amongst these sections were provisions in the Defence Act and the Naval Act relating to the passing of prescribed examinations for appointment and promotion of officers and for exemption from such examinations in time of war. These sections have been unworkable because it has been found impractable to prescribe detailed examinations. Accordingly, these sections have been repealed and replaced by a provision which authorises the Governor-General to appoint and promote officers subject to such conditions, qualifications and requirements as are provided for in the regulations. The GovernorGeneral’s power to delegate his authority to appoint and promote officers has also been provided for in the circumstances of today.
In respect of the Navy, opportunity is being taken to rectify the matter of the application by the Naval Defence Act of the United Kingdom Naval Discipline Act and the Queen’s Regulations and Admiralty Instructions to the Naval forces. This British legislation contains the disciplinary code of the Navy. The Queen’s Regulations also contain regulations on such matters as rank and command and boards of inquiry, to the extent that these matters are not dealt with in regulations made under the Naval Defence Act. The application of the United Kingdom legislation is subject to two important deficiencies. In the first place, it applies to the United Kingdom legislation for the time being in force. This is objectionable on legal grounds, since the legislation as applied may be and is amended at any time by the British authorities without reference to this Parliament, which accordingly lacks adequate control over the legislation. Amendments to the United Kingdom legislation are commonly in force for some time before the amendments are received in Australia. Consequently it is impossible to be certain at any time that a particular provision under which action is being taken has not, in fact, been amended or repealed.
The second deficiency arises from the application of the United Kingdom legislation “ to the Naval Forces “. This raised problems where members of the military and air forces serve in Her Majesty’s Australian ships, and in respect of certain other matters relating to the naval forces. These deficiencies are being removed by applying the British legislation in force on the date of commencement of the Naval Defence Act 1964 and otherwise amending the relevant section. Although the Naval Defence Act and the Air Force Act apply to the naval and air forces respectively wherever they may be, their application in the Territories in respect of matters incidental to those forces is not always easy to determine. This is particularly important, for example, in the case of the Papua and New Guinea division of the naval forces. Appropriate provisions are being included in both these Acts to clarify this aspect by specifying that the Acts extend to every Territory of the Commonwealth.
The Defence Act and the Naval Defence Act contain a number of provisions that have been superseded by later Acts such as the Defence (Visiting Forces) Act 1963. The relevant sections are being repealed. Opportunity has been taken also to clarify and to bring up to date some aspects of the present legislation which are not of substance and therefore need not be adverted to in detail here. I commend the bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act relating to Naval Defence.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Standing Orders suspended.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The remarks which I made on the Defence Bill refer also to this Bill. The purpose of this measure is to amend the existing legislation to enable the measures dealt with to be put into effect. I comend the Bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act relating to the Air Force of the Commonwealth.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Standing Orders suspended.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The remarks which I made on the Defence Bill refer also to this Bill. The purpose of this measure is to amend existing legislation to enable the measures dealt with to be put itno effect. I commend the Bill to honorable Senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Henty) agreed to -
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act relating to charges in respect of Commonwealth Air Navigation Facilities and Services.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Standing Orders suspended.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second lime.
This is a bill for an act to amend the Air Navigation (Charges) Act 1952-1963 for the purpose of securing an increase in the revenue from the various operators and owners of aircraft who make use of aerodromes and other facilities for air navigation provided, maintained and operated by the Commonwealth. It is the Government’s policy to move progressively towards the ultimate full recovery of that part of the cost of providing facilities that is properly attributable to the industry. Each year, a careful review is made of the ability of the industry to absorb an increase in charges. Increases are not made automatically, but in the present case the increase of 10 per cent, has been decided as fair.
For 1963-64, actual revenue from air navigation charges was £1.87 million. With the 10 per cent, increase now proposed, and with higher revenues resulting from natural growth in the industry, it is estimated that total revenue for 1964-65 will be £2.1 million. This Bill does not change the method of assessing charges but simply increases by 10 per cent, the unit charges which are based on maximum certified allup weight of aircraft. The new scale of charges will be applied to alldomestic and international airlines and to charter, aerial work and private operators. Operators of light aircraft will pay, in total, an increase of only £6,000. I commend the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Senator Kcnnelly) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) agreed to-
That Government business take precedence of general business after 8 p.m. this sitting.
Motion to Disallow
– I move -
That Amendments of the Air Navigation Regulations, contained in Statutory Rules 1964, No. 128, and made under the Air Navigation Act 1920-1963, be disallowed.
The motion which I have introduced to the Senate deals with matters of great constitutional, parliamentary and political importance. At the outset I wish to make completely clear the position of the Opposition in relation to power over aviation, or civil aviation, for the Commonwealth Parliament. The Opposition favours the grant of concurrent power to the Commonwealth in that field of aviation. That position has been made clear by our party for quite a number of years. I indicate that despite our action in seeking to disallow the regulations referred to in my motion, we are pre pared at any time to support the Government if it will ‘submit to the people a referendum to enable this Parliament to be clothed with power over civil aviation.
– Full power or concurrent power?
– I said concurrent power, Senator.
– Who would be boss, finally?
– Unquestionably the Commonwealth. In a situation where there was concurrent power. State laws, so far as they were valid, would prevail until contrary to Commonwealth law was enacted. In the event of a conflict between Commonwealth and State law in any field where there was concurrent jurisdiction, Commonwealth law would prevail.
– Section 109.
– That is the provision of section 109 of the Constitution, as the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) has said. There is no question about it. I do not disguise our exact position in that matter. If I may, I shall remind the Senate at a later stage that that was one of the unanimous recommendations of the Constitutional Review Committee first submitted to the Parliament back in 1958.
We are concerned with two main things in addressing ourselves to this motion. First, we are concerned at the wrongful assumption of authority by the Government; and secondly, we are concerned at the abuse of the power the Commonwealth Parliament clearly has. They will be the main things to which I will address myself and I shall come back to them, when I have laid the necessary foundation, to draw the conclusions I shall put to the Senate.
The Senate will notice that I am moving to disallow the whole of the regulations contained in Statutory Rule No. 128. There are some minor matters to which we have no exception. In particular I refer to regulation 2 which contains a definition of Commonwealth aircraft, and to paragraphs (a) and (b) of regulation 3. To disallow portion of regulation 3 and to retain the other two portions would be a very awkward procedure. I indicate quite clearly to the Government that if the disallowance motion is carried and the Government wishes to pick up regulations 2, 3 (a) and 3 (b), we will facilitate the matter by co-operating. So there is no issue between the Opposition and the Government as to those regulations. Nor do we object to the rewriting of paragraph (e) of regulation 6, which enables the Commonwealth to take power over air navigation in which military aircraft is engaged. I would not like the Government to make an issue of that matter. There are many ways in which the position can be overcome if necessary. There is clearly no conflict between us on that point.
I think the best way that I can present the Opposition’s case to the Senate is to refer to the sequence of events which have occurred and, from time to time, to proffer comments as I proceed. First I wish to take the Senate back 27 years to a time when the present Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) was Attorney-General of the Commonwealth. As Attorney-General he sponsored a referendum, which was submitted to the people, seeking power for the Commonwealth Parliament over air navigation and aircraft. The referendum was not carried.
– Can you tell me what was the attitude of the Opposition during that referendum?
– Quite frankly, I cannot, at this stage. I do not recall it and I have not checked it. There had been an overall Australia-wide majority for the proposal, but only two of the four States had carried it.
– It was carried by a majority of 256,000 people, was it not?
– I think it was more than that. From my research into the matter, I believe that 52.3 per cent, of the valid votes were recorded in favour of the proposition. In my view, that would certainly run to a far greater number than 256,000, the figure mentioned by the Minister. Sir Robert Menzies, who is Prime Minister today, had not evinced the slightest interest in the question of the Commonwealth’s constitutional power over aviation until the financial and business interests of the Government’s most favoured son - Mr. R. M. Ansett - were threatened. He was not interested for 27 years.
The next event to which I wish to refer is the report of the Constitutional Review Committee in 1958, which has lain in this Parliament without debate and so far as I know or so far as the Parliament has been told, without consideration by the Government for six long years. Certainly we have had no decision from the Government on any one of the 22 recommendations made by the Committee. One of its recommendations is that there should be a new head of power for the Commonwealth over aviation or civil aviation. The Constitutional Review Committee referred to both terms. Again the Government had not moved for six years, from the time of receipt of the recommendation until the interests of its most favoured son were threatened, as they are at present.
Against that background, let me come to more recent events. The situation we are in today was triggered off on 25th October 1961 by a directive issued by the Commissioner for Motor Transport in New South Wales under the State Transport (Co-ordination) Act, pursuant to which he directed Airlines of New South Wales Pty. Ltd., which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd., and East-West Airlines Ltd., which is a New South Wales company, to rearrange their routes. This directive was based on an attempt to secure an even sharing, or a relatively even sharing, of air miles between the two undertakings, and to share new routes. The purpose of the allocation was to ensure that there would be something like even competition between the two airlines operating purely intrastate in New South Wales.
This directive sought to correct the position where the Ansett company, Airlines of New South Wales, had some 70 per cent, of the business in that State whereas East West Airlines had some 30 per cent, of that business. The correction would have meant that the proportion would have been 51 per cent, of the business to Airlines of New South Wales and 49 per cent, to EastWest Airlines. That directive was attacked in the High Court of Australia by Airlines of New South Wales. In the course of the proceedings, the validity of the relevant portion of the State Transport (Coordination) Act was under attack. The validity of the directive issued under that Act also was attacked. Finally, an injunction was sought by Airlines of New South Wales against the Commonwealth Government and the Director-General of Civil Aviation, the senior Commonwealth officer in the Department of Civil Aviation. I will come back to that judgment in due course. I do no more at this stage than indicate that they are the bare facts.
The litigation dragged on from that time until 27th February of this year, approximately two and a half years, when the High Court gave a unanimous judgment rejecting every submission made on behalf of Airlines of New South Wales, upholding the relevant provisions of the New South Wales Act and upholding the validity of the directive of the Commissioner of Motor Transport in that State. Mr. Ansett did not accept that judgment and sought to appeal to the Privy Council. That matter was dealt with by the Privy Council on 15th July of this year when application was made for special leave to appeal. Rather summarily, that application was rejected by the Privy Council. The Commonwealth was represented by its own officers at the proceedings.
Then we get action at high speed from the Government, in this Parliament on 20th August it was ascertained from the Prime Minister that he had written a letter on 6th August, only a matter of days after the protracted litigation had been concluded, to every State Premier indicating that the Commonwealth was going to assume complete power over air navigation throughout Australia. He indicated also that the Commonwealth was going lo seek power in the co-ordination of air transport throughout Australia and insist upon a complete licensing system throughout Australia. In the course of that letter the Prime Minister indicated in the most arbitrary terms to the State Premiers that the CommonwealthState arrangements that had stood from 1937 were to be brought to an end. The The Minister for Civil Aviation laughs.
– I do not laugh. I am just saying it is not correct to say that they stood.
– Well, they varied. The Commonwealth-State agreements were entered into after the Goya Henry case - the case of R. v. Burgess - in 1936 and, with minor variations from time to time, they have stood till now when, in those terms the Commonwealth summarily dismissed the arrangements which, as I have said, stood for so long. The Prime Minister said -
The Commonwealth proposals would, as the Commonwealth sees it, result in there being neither practical nor legal scope for State control of intra state air navigation, and they would mean therefore the termination of the Commonwealth-Stale arrangements of 1947.
I think I am correct in saying there was no prior consultation with the States about this matter and that the first the State Premiers knew about it was when they received this letter on 6th August indicating that the Commonwealth Government was going to blast ahead with its proposals without consulting the States except in respect of one matter which was the coordination or air transport facilities on which the Commonwealth Government would consult them in the future.
There was no word about air navigation in the States; there was no word about other matters; and consultation was promised only on one of the matters in which the Commonwealth was assuming primary authority for the first time.
We in this Parliament became aware of that letter by questions addressed to the Prime Minister on 20th August when he undertook to table that letter and to permit debate on it. On 25th August, he tabled the letter. On 26th August, he agreed to table letters, when they were received, from the State Premiers in reply to his letter. Letters were tabled on Tuesday of this week. We find that the replies from the Premiers were belated. One was received at the end of August, another at the end of September, two others in the first week of October, and those from South Australia and Western Australia aire still awaited. At this minute a debate is proceeding in another place on the subject matter of those letters. I point out to the Senate that it is almost two months since the promise was made by the Prime Minister that the Opposition would be given the opportunity to debate this matter. No opportunity for debate has been proffered to the Senate although there is a matter on our notice paper. We, as the Opposition, are forced today to use the device that we are now using - to move for the disallowance of tho regulations - in order to obtain both a debate and a decision on this most important matter. f would say, having regard to the importance of this matter, that it is quite wrong for the Government to have delayed debate and discussion on this whole mailer so long and, in the meantime, proceed to lake the most drastic and effective action, and take it in the very week when the Parliament was not sitting.
– What was the good of having a debate before the replies of the Premiers were received?
– There was the advantage in putting the viewpoint that had been expressed. At least, if the Premiers did not reply, they were exceedingly vocal in the Press in their objections to what the Commonwealth proposed. I think the honorable senator will recognise that fact. There would have been great advantage in this Parliament, and particularly in the Senate - the States’ House - teasing out a matter that involved the usurption by power over a field that hitherto, since Federation, had remained under the control of the various States, I think great advantage might have come from such a debate. We might not now be embroiled in the exceedingly awkward situation which has been precipitated in this country.
On 1st September - I go back just a little - the Commissioner for Motor Transport in New South Wales issued the first directive in that State to the two airlines concerned indicating that the new routes would be developed as from 12th October. That is last Monday. Then we see how fast the Government went. On 2nd October the regulations that we are now discussing not only were made but were put through the Executive Council and were gazetted. That was all done in one day. With a knowledge of what is involved in that type of procedure, I say that it is exceedingly smart work to get that much accomplished in one day. This was an instance of completely undue haste. On 5th October the Minister fixed two dates that he was called upon to fix under the regulations. In each case he fixed the 10th October. That is a significant date, having regard to the fact that the State directive was to operate as from two days later, on the Monday. The Minister fixed the 10th October - this decision was gazetted on 6th October - as the date for giving effect to the substantive part of the regulations, to which I will refer in a moment. That was clearly designed to put an obstacle in the way of the State Government implementing its own directive. There is no other explanation.
I come now to the question of what are the regulations. The main position is governed by regulation 6 of the Air Navigation Regulations. Nearly everything dealing with civil aviation is contained in regulations. I refer the Senate to regulation 6, because this is the regulation to which the main amendment has been directed. It provides in sub-clause 1 that the regulations apply to and are in relation to certain matters. I point out to the Senate that they are all matters clearly within the legal competence of the Commonwealth Parliament. There is no question about that. Sub-clause 1 refers to -
Those are five matters in which the Commonwealth clearly has legal competence. The amendment to regulation 6 adds a new paragraph (f), which provides - on and after such date as is fixed by the Minister for the purposes of this paragraph by notice in the “Gazette”, all air navigation within Australian territory of a kind not specified in paragraph (a), (b), (c), (d), or (da) of this sub-regulation “.
So the Commonwealth, for the first time, goes outside those other heads and says, in effect: “We take over all air navigation from the date gazetted by the Minister.” In due course, the Minister gazetted the new regulation to operate from 10th October. Most of the amendments following the amendment of regulation 6 are really consequential. They deal with manufactures of spare parts and components for aircraft, charter licences, work licences, ordinary licences, cancellation or suspension of licences and arrangements under which services may be operated by a person other than a licensee, and so on. The DirectorGeneral of Civil Aviation is required in every instance - on and after the date that has been fixed by the Minister, namely, 10th October - to have regard to matters concerned with the safety, regularity and efficiency of air navigation and to no other matters. That provision runs all the way through the regulations. It is obviously expressed in a form that looks like a qualification of the absolute power over air navigation, but let us study the words that are used. The DirectorGeneral is to have regard to the safety, regularity and efficiency of air navigation. What would lie outside those concepts? How wide is efficiency? I invite the Minister in due course to tell us. What purports to be a qualification of complete and absolute power is, in my opinion, not a qualification at all. This is a mere matter of words and form.
I direct attention to amendment 13, which the Opposition seeks to disallow. In new regulation 203a it is proposed - for the first time - that the Director-General shall have regard to the need for co-ordinating, in the interests of safety in air navigation, all operations of the kind referred to in regulation 191 of the regulations. There is nothing there to honour the promise of consultation with the States that was made by the Prime Minister. Regulation 191 covers a multiplicity of matters. I direct attention to the significant fact that there, in dealing with air transport co-ordination, the DirectorGeneral is to have regard to one factor only - safety. It is significant that he is not there invited to have regard to the questions of regularity and efficiency. 1 come then to amendment 14, which deals with two matters constituting the other major change made to these regulations. A new regulation 320a is inserted to provide that an aircraft shall not land at or take off from any place, being a place acquired by the Commonwealth for public purposes, without a permit issued by the DirectorGeneral. Another new regulation, 320b, provides that an aircraft shall not be flown without a permit in controlled airspace in the course of air navigation of a kind specified in paragraph (e) of sub-regulation 1 of regulation 6. That covers intrastate flights and everything outside the normal powers hitherto exorcised by the Commonwealth. So the new regulations are very far reaching. They purport, .in the view of the Opposition, to take over the whole field of air navigation and co-ordination in Australia.
I should like to refer to some features of this matter before I come to my conclusions. 1 wish to read in some detail the letter which the Prime Minister sent to the Premiers, as I want tq contravert what he said. He slated -
He was referring to the High Court judgment delivered on 27th February of this year - including the former Chief Justice, Sir Owen Dixon, recollecting no doubt the state of the Regulations at an earlier stage of their history, expressed surprise at the limited scope of the Air Navigation Regulations, operating as Commonwealth law.
I invite the Minister to tell me where that surprise was expressed. The word “ surprise “ was used by one judge only - the Chief Justice. I quote from the “ Australian Law Journal “ report of the airlines case, at page 402. Speaking about regulation 6, which I have already explained to the Senate, and setting out the application of the regulation, His Honour expressed himself in this way -
Surprising as it, at first, appeared to me, I think that this sub-clause intended to cover the entire field to which, subject to any special regulation, the “ Air Navigation Regulations “ are to apply. It means that apart from special regulations the Regulations do not cover intrastate trade and commerce.
What the Chief Justice said, in effect, was: “ At first I thought that regulation 6 covered the whole field. I was surprised that it did, but then I noticed that intrastate powers were not included.” How does that justify the statement in the Prime Minister’s letter? I invite the Minister to tell me what other judges of the High Court expressed surprise. From my reading of it, I do not find one word of surprise expressed elsewhere.
I would like to refer honorable senators to what Mr. Justice Windeyer said. I quote from the same report at pages 411 and 412. Mr. Justice Windeyer went a great deal further than the other judges and said this -
In my opinion the powers with respect to trade and commerce with other countries and among the States (s. 51(i)), external affairs (s. 51 (xxix)) and incidental matters as described in s. 51(xxxix), are ample to give the Commonwealth Parliament complete power over all air navigation in Australia.
He refers to other powers that support him in that conclusion. He affirms this -
As l see it, Commonwealth power extends to the control of the movement of all aircraft in all air space above Australia and its territories.
I invite honorable senators to keep their minds on the words “ air navigation “ which he used because in a later paragraph he said -
That docs not mean that the Commonwealth can, as mailers now stand, undertake the regulation of everything and anything relating in any way to aircraft. And it does not mean that a State can say nothing as to the purposes for which aircraft may bc used within its borders.
Later he said -
But a State law that said simply that within the State aircraft should not be used at all for some specified purpose, such as the carriage of particular articles or the carriage of persons from one place within the State to another within the State would, in my opinion, be a valid law.
Despite the acknowledgment in his view of the complete power of the Commonwealth over air navigation, he, in the most express terms, said that in his considered opinion there is reserved to the States power over the co-ordination of State transport; power to determine whether an aircraft should go from one place to another.
Again I say that the Prime Minister’s statement in relation to the judgment of the High Court is not correct, to put it mildly, lt is misleading. I say that he could find no justification in any of these pages of the judgment to which I have referred for saying: “ This Court has said that the Commonwealth has the most complete power, so here we go “.
– You have not quoted all of it.
– The Minister says that I have not quoted all of the judgment. It covers scores of pages. I would be reading for hours if I were to read all of it. Need I make any further apologia on that particular point?
– Did not you use the the words “ as matters now stand “?
– Not so much that I did, but that the judge did. There has been no change at all in constitutional power, so far as the Commonwealth is concerned. The adoption by this Parliament of the Chicago Convention was the last thing that could have happened in this Parliament, to affect the question of powers.
Sitting suspended front 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– I pass to another aspect of the judgment of the High Court. I refer to page 410 of the judgment and to what Mr. Justice Menzies had to say regarding the inclusion, by Airlines of New South Wales, of the Commonwealth Govern ment and the Director-General of Civil Aviation as parties. He said -
This all appears to me as subterfuge and I see no basis for relief against the Commonwealth or the Director-General in this action. . . I am prepared to join in answering the questions without doing more than deprecating the introduction of unnecessary parties into an action for the purpose of attracting the jurisdiction of this Court.
That was a very severe stricture by His Honour.
Turning to the Privy Council proceedings, I read to my astonishment in the local Press that counsel for the Commonwealth did not ask for costs against Airlines of New South Wales when the Commonwealth in due course won the action. I was so surprised that I made some inquiries. It appears that the matter originated from a suggestion by Viscount Radcliffe, who presided over the Privy Council hearing. At the end of the case, and finding for the Commonwealth and the State of New South Wales, he asked: “You are not concerned about costs for the Commonwealth? “ To my absolute amazement, I read that Commonwealth counsel replied: “ No “. The costs that would have been awarded might not have been very great, but, having regard to the fact that Commonwealth officers were transported half way round the world to London to appear in a case in which the Commonwealth Government and the DirectorGeneral of Civil Aviation were completely unnecessary parties, I venture to say that no company other than Ansett would have received such treatment.
– This is not uncommon in matters inter se or in constitutional matters.
– As far as I understand, this was not an inter se matter. I do not think that point was argued. Certainly the Commonwealth played a very small part in the argument. But that is not the point. A brief had to be prepared and officers had to be transported to London. Unquestionably the Commonwealth would have been involved in considerable expenditure. I mention that merely as one more good example of the power of the Ansett magic which permeates this whole situation.
What other company in Australia in similar circumstances would have received such favoured treatment? It was an excellent performance by the Ansett companies.
By their litigation, which failed, they delayed the New South Wales Government’s proposed reallocation of air routes for three years. They had three good years with 70 per cent, of the State’s air traffic. They made a convenience and a foot-stool of the High Court by unnecessarily invoking parties to the action. They found a friend in the Privy Council, and even in the Commonwealth, in the matter of the costs of the Privy Council hearing. It is quite clear from the objective statement of the sequence of events that I have made that they used the Commonwealth Government like a kitchen mop to clear the path for themselves, pushing out of the way the judgments of courts and cancelling long standing arrangements between the Commonwealth and the States in regard to which the Commonwealth could not complain of lack of co-operation.
I make the point that the speed and, above all, the solicitude with which the Menzies Government, within days of the Privy Council’s decision, dashed to Ansett’s rescue is simply staggering. It is in sharp contrast to the Government’s action in many other matters. Consider the last election promise to do something to house our people; a year has gone by. Consider the promise to do something about scholarships for our children; a year has gone by. But it takes only days for the Government to act when Ansett is in the slightest difficulty. It is five years since the Government first promised to introduce legislation to deal with restrictive trade practices. The people of Australia have waited” five years for protection. They have been waiting four years for taxation evasions to the tune of £14 million a year to be stopped. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has indicated that the law will be made retrospective to August 1961. This is a perfect example of the Government’s lethargy. The report of the Senate committee on television productions, which disclosed the bad influence of certain television programmes in our homes, particularly for the children, and mentioned many other aspects that were vastly important to our social life, lies neglected and undebated on the table of the Senate. The Government has made no decision on this report although it was presented in this place in October last year.
The question of constitutional changes, the urgent problems that face this country and the taking over of our national assets by overseas companies, have brought no speedy action, but the Government to a man, including the Prime Minister, rushed to Ansett’s rescue within days. The situation can only be described as staggering. How can this Government become so active on behalf of Ansett and his interests while allowing the major matters to which I have referred to trail along year after year? Why does this Government regard the Ansett empire as of such importance? In the Opposition’s view, the Government’s actions on behalf of Ansett are nothing but a gross abuse of power.
I ask the Minister to tell the Senate whether it is the Government’s policy on interstate air routes in Australia that there shall be only two airlines, which shall compete on terms as even as the Commonwealth can provide. If that is the Government’s policy, why is it wrong for the New South Wales Government to follow a similar policy in relation to intrastate transport in New South Wales? What is wrong with that? What does the Minister see that is evil in the allocation of air routes that the New South Wales Government propose to make? Those are questions that should be answered in this Senate.
We have seen takeover after takeover by the Ansett group. A few years ago it attempted to take over East-West Airlines, one of the companies involved in this dispute. Australian National Airways, Butler Air Transport, New Guinea Airways, Airlines of South Australia and many others have fallen into Ansett’s lap. But his greatest success and his biggest and most successful takeover has been his takeover in recent days of the Menzies Government. The Prime Minister - for the first time, as far as I can recall - intervened in civil aviation matters, to the extent of writing directly to the Premiers in the way that I have indicated. Ansett has landed the Prime Minister in his net. I think he has deposited the Prime Minister in some very hot water. To my delight, it appears that the Premier of New South Wales and his colleagues are certainly not susceptible to the Ansett magic, whereas the Commonwealth Government most emphatically and plainly is. It seems to me that the Commonwealth Government has been blinded by its love for this particular organisation. The Government could have given no better, more loyal or more effective service to that industry had the Government been on its staff. I level no charge of impropriety against the Government, its advisers or anyone else. I know of nothing that would justify it. But I do cite some comments by newspapers to indicate what the public reaction is. I think I recall the Minister for Civil Aviation saying in this place recently that a thing has not only to be right, it has also to appear to be right. It is from that viewpoint that I direct attention to these articles. The leading article in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 27th August, after referring to opposition to the Government proposals, finishes with this-
It is already clear that the opposition will not easily be overridden; that sections of it may resort to legal challenges; and that, not least because of their timing, the Commonwealth’s proposals are regarded with deep suspicion.
That is the considered comment of a body that now supports this Government. I turn to the leading article in the “ Daily Mirror “ of last evening, in which this statement appears -
The Australian public has every reason to feel bewildered over the airlines wrangle between the Commonwealth and New South Wales Governments. This bewilderment is understandable in view of the Prime Minister’s extraordinary reticence. He has never satisfactorily explained why his Government decided to step in and, almost furtively, take control of intrastate aviation . . . What mystifies is the manner and the timing of the sudden Commonwealth action. Why was it taken behind the back of Parliament so that it could not be fully debated? It would, perhaps, be unfair to suggest that it was done expressly to benefit Ansett interests; but because of the way it was done the public cannot be blamed for thinking Ansett influence prompted it.
I merely advert to one more thing, a presentation in a newspaper with a very wide circulation in one part of Australia. I do not propose to quote it, not even under privilege, because of its nature. I shall make it available to the Minister so that he may look at it for two purposes - to see that the situation is such that a newspaper is prepared to indicate a degree of vast concern at what goes on and to draw most publicly a sinister implication. I do not support it. I merely indicate it. I am not prepared, even under privilege, to describe it.
– Why mention it?
– I mention it for the reason that I have given, which is to draw the Minister’s attention to the fact that the state of affairs is such that it can provoke a sinister presentation in a newspaper in this country. The second reason that I do so is to point out to the Minister that it behoves him and the Prime Minister to stand up in this Parliament and state clearly to the people why they have proceeded with this timing, with this great speed, to shoulder their way into intrastate aviation in Australia. I say again to the Minister that things have not only to be right; they have also to seem to be right. The onus is entirely upon this Government to make things seem right. I can assure the Minister that unless that is done it will only make worse the misgivings that are widely felt today throughout this nation at what the Government has been doing in recent weeks. We have frequently attacked here all the favours and concessions that down the years have been given by this Government to Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. I am not going into those now. I leave that to one of my colleagues to develop.
– Order. The time allowed under Standing Order No. 127 for discussion of the business of the Senate, Notice of Motion No. 1, has expired. The orders of the day will be called on.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) agreed to -
That consideration of orders of the day be postponed until after the disposal of the business of the Senate, Notice of Motion No. 1.
– I want to pass now to a consideration of the reaction of the various States. The four State Premiers who have replied to the Prime Minister’s letter of 6th August have indicated their opposition to what the Government proposes to do. In the case of Tasmania, the objection of the Premier, Mr. Reece, was buttressed last night by a resolution carried unanimously by the House of Assembly. This is what it says -
This House in of the opinion that -
while recognising that matters affecting air safety and navigation and the control of air space may properly remain within the legislative framework existing before the recent amendments of the Air Navigation Regulations made under the Air Navigation Act 1920-63, nevertheless the licensing of intrastate air services should remain within the sole power of the respective State Governments;
any assertion by the Commonwealth of a right to legislate by virtue of the external affairs power on matters not otherwise within its powers would constitute an unjustified threat to the traditionally accepted sovereign rights of the States; and
the State Governments should take all necessary action, including collaboration with the other State Governments, to protect the States against the intrusion of the Commonwealth into spheres hitherto accepted as belonging to the States.
That is a very powerful indication of the strength of feeling in the community, when the rival parties in the State of Tasmania come together in a unanimous resolution of that type. And is it not proper, having regard to the circumstances in which their long standing arrangements with the Commonwealth are thrust overboard without prior consultation?
The whole procedure of this Government is an insult to State Governments. Of course, the Government has been trapped into proceeding precipitately solely through its solicitude and love for the Ansett Transport Industries group. It is an insult to the Constitutional Review Committee, which found that there was not adequate power over civil aviation. What has happened is an insult to this Parliament, because here is a major matter of this type disposed of by executive action, and at a time when the Parliament is not sitting. A matter of this importance and significance should have been dealt with by means of an amendment to the Air Navigation Act itself, when it could have been discussed and ventilated adequately in this Parliament. To do a thing of this nature furtively, as the “Daily Mirror” quite properly said yesterday and with such speed, certainly does create an air of suspicion in the minds of people who do not understand. In this matter the Government has itself to blame - nobody else.
Two Premiers have not replied, but one has made his position completely clear in the Press, if he is correctly reported, namely Sir Thomas Playford, Premier of South Australia Within the last few days he said that he wanted this particular regulation disallowed. He has made his position perfectly clear. He protested at the fact that five years ago he unsuccessfully asked the Commonwealth to allow Trans-Australia Airlines to move into South Australia so that there would be some competition and there would not be preservation of a monopoly. He also indicated that he asked a year ago for the same concession and was refused. Quite obviously he is very bitter and very disturbed about what the Commonwealth Government has done and the way in which it has proceeded in this matter. As to Western Australia, I have no knowledge. I have been informed - I hope reliably - that the Premier of Western Australia is equally opposed to what was done.
– They are meeting in Western Australia on Monday to make a decision.
– I have not seen anything from Western Australia myself but I am told that is the view of the Premier of Western Australia also. It would seem that the Commonwealth Government, by its precipitate action, has brought State Governments of all political colours down on its head, and it must be a very great love that would force them along and bring about that result. I would hope that the Commonwealth Government would look at this matter again and do the right thing and the democratic thing and permit these regulations to be disallowed by the Senate. With that done and a Senate election imminent, the Government could put to the people of Australia the question whether power over aviation should be vested in this Parliament. Let the people decide. When the people have decided, State Governments of all complexions and all parties unquestionably will accept the verdict of the people. It could be done at insignificant cost. A Senate election is to be held in the immediate future and rather than have everybody concerned - the States, the Commonwealth and the airline operators - embarking upon protracted litigation that might run indefinitely with heavy fines hanging over the heads of the airline operators, would it not be better to cut the painter now, disallow these regulations and announce that the Commonwealth wants complete power over civil aviation? I assure the Government that if it will do that wholesome and open thing, costing very little in the circumstances of the near Senate election, we of the Opposition will support the Government all the way - and the Australian Labour Party will support the Government all the way - in putting that referendum to the people. That should get the Government at least half way along with the voters of Australia. The Government would have to find very little.
The Commonwealth is not going to get very far for many months with this litigation hanging over our heads and easily the cleanest and quickest way to get this matter resolved is to disallow these regulations, accept the Opposition’s offer of a referendum and go to it. I regret that I have had to take so much time in laying the foundations of what I have had to say and leading to the conclusions I have reached. I finish as I began by saying that to quite a degree this is action not authorised by the Constitution and, insofar as there is power in the Government to proceed as it has done, it has acted in a way which is clearly an abuse of Commonwealth power.
– I listened to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) with a great deal of interest. I do not propose to cover many of the constitutional matters he has raised. I would agree with him that a court will probably be dealing with that side of the matter in the final analysis. But I want to comment on one or two things he has said and particularly on his statement that this is an attempt to by-pass Parliament. I do not understand that statement by the Leader of the Opposition. Here we are in both Houses of the Parliament debating this matter at present. The forms of the Parliament give it the right to disallow these regulations and surely this is a proper approach to the forms of the Parliament.
Senator McKenna referred to the letter written by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) on 6th August 1964. He said that was when this matter began. The Leader of the Opposition omitted, however, to mention a letter which was written by the Premier of New South Wales at that time, Mr. R. J. Heffron, on 13th June 1961. This letter was written to the Prime Minister and the right honorable gentleman answered him on 17th August 1961. At that time the New South Wales Government had taken unilateral action to deviate from the cooperation in these matters which had existed since 1937. This was unilateral action and numbers of similar cases have occurred. In the letter of 13th June 1961, the Premier of New South Wales stated -
You are no doubt aware that my Government has adopted as a matter of policy the attitude that there should not be a monopoly of intrastate airlines within N.S.W.–
I pause there to say that the New South Wales Government has been licensing two monopolies for years.
– What are they?
– East-West Airlines Ltd. and Airlines of N.S.W. Pty. Ltd. both have completely monopolistic licences granted by the State of New South Wales. They cover their own routes, are in no way in competition and are two monopolies. That completely answers the point made by the Leader of the Opposition, who said we have a two airline policy in the Commonwealth. Why, he asked, do we object to a similar policy in New South Wales? My reply is that our two airline policy has been one of the greatest successes of this Government. As a result of it, the people of Australia are provided with an internal air service better than any other in the world. There are two airlines competing with one another and only winning out by the service they give their passengers. This is not the position in New South Wales where the two airlines each have a monopolistic licence.
– One of 70 per cent, and one of 30 per cent.
– Yes, earned and purchased over the years. The licences were granted on that basis by the Labour Government of New South Wales.
– The Commonwealth Government subsidises the system.
– We subsidise both of them. So how can you compare our two airline competitive system with the two airline system in New South Wales of two monopolies not competing with each other in any shape or form and both traversing their own routes? Moreover, as Senator Ormonde has said, both are subsidised by the Commonwealth Government. The letter from Mr. Heffron to the Prime Minister in 1961 continued - and a survey is now being made in an endeavour to develop a scheme which will ensure the continuance, on an economic footing, of the two existing services. These are East-West Airlines Pty. Limited which is based at Tamworth and operates services between Tamworth and Sydney and other centres mainly in northern New South Wales and Airlines of New South Wales Pty. Ltd. which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Ansett-A.N-A. group based at Sydney and using its facilities at that airport. I am informed that both companies are soundly and economically operated but, due to various factors inevitable with feeder line services of this type, their revenues are sufficient to cover costs only if supplemented by a subsidy.
I repeat that this letter was written on 13th June 1961. 1 shall read the whole letter if the honorable senator wants me to do so, or I will table it if that is desired. Because of the lack of time I propose to read now only the last two paragraphs. Mr. Heffron said -
Having regard to the position outlined above, I should be glad to have your assurance that the Commonwealth will co-operate to ensure the operation on an equitable basis of two intrastate airlines in New South Wales, that subsidies will continue on lines of past policy, and that EastWest Airlines can expect assistance from the Commonwealth should steps be taken by that Company to acquire additional modern aircraft.
In conclusion, I might mention that East-West Airlines’ disability from the equipment angle is currently highlighted by the situation in regard to a new service shortly to be inaugurated to Orange. Notwithstanding the decision taken some time ago, after consultation with both local and operating interests, that the franchise for this service should be granted to East-West Airlines, there is now considerable local agitation for it to be awarded to Airlines of New South Wales, apparently largely on the ground of East-West Airlines’ inability to operate the service with Friendship aircraft exclusively.
We have been accused of taking action hurriedly. I repeat that this letter was written on 13 th June 1961. In his reply, the Prime Minister said -
I refer again to your letter (No. 59/382 of 13th June, 1961) regarding the policy of your Government on the operation of intrastate airlines in New South Wales, and the question of Commonwealth assistance for East-West Airlines Pty. Ltd.
As you say, intrastate airlines are subject to controls exercised by the Commonwealth Government as well as the licensing system of the State I am, however, puzzled as to the basis of your contention that “the policy followed by the Commonwealth in respect of interstate airlines has resulted in the building up of one of the two New South Wales intrastate operators to the positive detriment of the other.” The fact is that the operations of the two airlines in question serve substantially different areas of your State and are not in direct competition with each other on the routes flown.
In the second last paragraph of his letter, the Prime Minister said -
You also asked for our assurance that EastWest Airlines could expect assistance from the Commonwealth should steps be taken by that company to acquire additional modern aircraft. I do not know what form of assistance you might have in mind, but I do not see how we could agree to assistance to the company for this purpose. The Commonwealth has already facilitated access by the company to its Fokker Friendship and to two of its four DC3 aircraft. As the combined fleets of the two airlines are quite adequate to meet all the requirements for New South Wales intrastate service, the Commonwealth would not feel justified in facilitating the acquisition of additional aircraft by either airline.
I again draw the attention of the Senate to the fact that that correspondence was in 1961. This is not something, as the Leader of the Opposition said, which has been brought about suddenly.
I was glad to hear the unequivocal assurance of the honorable senator that the Opposition believes that ‘the control of civil aviation in Australia should be in one hand. With the limited experience I have had in the portfolio of Civil Aviation, I agree wholeheartedly with him. Because of the rapidity with which modern aircraft travel, aviation knows no State boundaries. Because of the build up of aircraft over our main cities, safety and co-ordination factors demand that the control of civil aviation be in one hand. That view was supported in the report of the Constitutional Review Committee, which was signed by the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Kennelly). Both sides of the Parliament have supported the principle that the control of civil aviation should be in the hands of a Commonwealth authority. It is unarguable.
Now I should like to recite some of the steps that have been taken in this matter. After the High Court gave its judgment in the case “Airlines of New South Wales Pty. Ltd. v. The State of New South Wales and Others “, my colleague Senator Paltridge, who was then the Minister for Civil Aviation, wrote to the AttorneyGeneral of the day pointing out some of the comments of the judges and asking for his advice. That request was made on 26th February 1964. The comments of the judges disclosed that there was an area of power under the Air Navigation Act of which the Commonwealth had not availed itself. One of the judges expressed some astonishment at this fact.
– It was the Chief Justice.
– It was the then Chief Justice. I do not want to weary the Senate, but I should like to quote certain passages of the court’s judgment. The Chief Justice, Sir Owen Dixon, said - in almost all respects the legislative power which arises from the need of carrying out the Convention -
That is, the International Convention on Civil Aviation made at Chicago in 1944 - given by s.51 (xxix) -
That is, of the Commonwealth Constitution - would suffice to support laws made with a complete disregard of the distinction between interstate and intrastate trade . . .
– He said that a study of the schedule suggested that.
– That is so. Mr. Justice Windeyer said -
In my opinion the powers with respect to trade and commerce with other countries and among the States (s. 51 (i) ), external affairs (s. 51 (xxix) ), and incidental matters as described in s.51 (xxxix), are ample to give the Commonwealth Parliament complete power over all air navigation in Australia. The need for the Australian nation to perform its international obligations under treaties and conventions relating to air navigation, together with the trade and commerce power, suffice, in my view, to bring the subject within the legislative power of the national Parliament.
In another passage he said -
But in carrying out an obligation-
That is, an external obligation - measures that at one time might have been unnecessary may, with changing circumstances, become necessary. It is not that the nature of the power changes. What changes are the conditions and circumstances within which the power is exercisable, and in consequence the particular aspects of the subject matter than can be regulated. The great development in recent times of air traffic of all kinds in Australia, including overseas and interstate air traffic, has created a situation today that is very different from that of thirty years ago. The proper regulation in the interests of safety of the operations of interstate and overseas airlines and the due execution by Australia of the international obligations it has accepted, may well make it desirable that the one authority should exercise sole control of all movement of aircraft in the air and of matters connected with such movement, that is to say of all matters connected with how aircraft may be used.
With those matters in mind the Commonwealth asked the Attorney-General to give advice. Upon that advice steps were taken to introduce the regulations which are being debated in this House today. I can cite one case, if I may, to prove how necessary it has become in the intrastate field of aviation for the Commonwealth to intervene.
I refer to what is surely an intrastate operation - crop dusting and aerial spraying. The fact that the Commonwealth Department of Civil Aviation has halved the accident rate in this sphere of operations - which is an intrastate sphere - is something that I can point to as an instance of how necessary it is for the Commonwealth civil aviation authorities to have complete jurisdiction in this field.
– You have not got that power now?
– Yes, under these regulations we have the power. We have taken the power under the Chicago Convention. The point I am making is that if you wish to divide intrastate and interstate aviation operations, you see how difficult it is to have two authorities to interpret regulations. Every time there is an acident in which a small, light aircraft engaged in. intrastate operations may be involved, the Commonwealth authorities move in and investigate.
– So you do have the power?
– Yes. This amendment will mean that in any areas where there may have been differing views, it will be certain that we have the power.
I turn now to the question of State rights, because this is an issue which the honorable senator has raised. My inquiries have shown that the opposition of the States has been mostly in respect of intrastate licensing. I shall deal with the positions in the various States. The matter was first raised by the Premier of South Australia and it is interesting to note that in that State there has not been any legislation dealing with the issue of licences. The Commonwealth’s actions do not alter the position in the slightest in South Australia. In that State it is necessary to have only a Federal licence. In Victoria the Transport Act of 1951 vested the State authority with power to grant or refuse an application for a commercial aircraft licence and to attach conditions. The obligations to obtain licences from Commonwealth and State authorities were concurrent. Both sets of requirements had to be satisfied before commercial operations could be conducted. In 1956 the aircraft licensing provisions of the State Act were repealed and at present only a Federal licence is required. Although we have received complaints from South Australia and Victoria, in South
Australia there has never been State legislation relating to commercial aircraft licensing and only a Federal licence has been necessary, and the same position has applied in Victoria since it repealed its relevant legislation in 1956. You cannot have State rights if you do not accept State responsibilities.
– Was that done by consent?
– The Victorian legislation was repealed in 1956 so that the field was left open for the Federal authorities alone to issue a licence.
In Western Australia the State Transport (Co-ordination) Act provides that no aircraft shall operate intrastate unless it is licensed by the Transport Board: Section 4 of the Act provides that the Board may grant a licence providing all the laws and regulations of the Commonwealth have been complied with. So the position in Western Australia is that a State licence cannot be obtained unless the applicant has complied with all the laws and regulations of the Commonwealth. I have named three States which, from a licensing point of view, have entirely adopted Commonwealth regulations. In my home State of Tasmania the obligations to obtain licences from the Federal and State authorities are concurrent. The order of obtaining licences does not matter. The Tasmanian licence may be obtained before the Commonwealth licence, or vice versa, but both must be obtained.
In Queensland a licence must be obtained from the State transport authority as well as a licence issued under the State Air Navigation Act, the latter licence being expressly limited to safety considerations. The State authority is empowered to declare that any Commonwealth air navigation regulation does not apply to intrastate aviation by virtue of the State Air Navigation Act. This power has never been exercised.
– There is still power in Queensland.
– I am fully quoting the extent of the power. I have given the whole text of the legislation and I hope I have made it quite clear. I am not trying to hide anything. I repeat that this power has never been exercised. I turn now to New South Wales where the State Transport (Coordination) Act makes the issue of a licence under that Act a condition precedent to the issue of a licence under the Federal Air Navigation Regulations. In issuing licences the Commonwealth is not restricted to safety considerations. I think it is exceptionally interesting that of the four States I have named, South Australia has never had legislation relating to the issuing of State licences, and Victoria has had such legislation but has repealed it. Yet those States raise the bogey at this stage that we are intruding into a field which should be solely theirs. I cannot, for the life of me, see where there is intrusion.
While I am dealing with this aspect of State rights, I want to bring to the attention of the Senate the amount of Commonwealth expenditure in this field. I repeat: Surely if you are demanding rights, you must accept the responsibilities that go with them. Over the last 25 years the States have been content to sit by while the Commonwealth has built all the major aerodromes in the Commonwealth. If the States had wished to enter this field 25 years ago, they could have done so quite easily.
– Have you provided all the money?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator McKellar).- Order!
– I am just asking a question.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- Order!
– I am seeking information from the Minister.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT.- Order! Senator Dittmer, you will cease interjecting.
– Over the last 25 years it was quite open to the States to build aerodromes if they wished to, but they have never done so. They have allowed the Commonwealth to build and develop aerodromes. Of course, the Commonwealth owns these aerodromes. It has invested about £60 million of taxpayers’ money in them.
– Then why was there a need to amend the regulations?
– I do not wish to be diverted from my theme. Obviously the honorable senator who has interjected has not read the regulations in which it is stated that because the Commonwealth owns aerodromes, it is entitled to say who should fly from them and land on them.
As I pointed out, the Commonwealth has spent some £60 million on its aerodromes. I would like to give the Senate some indication also of the yearly costs to the Commonwealth Government in this field. In 1937, intrastate air services operated over a total distance of 12,009 miles. They carried 16,554 passengers. In 1963, the route mileage had more than trebled to the figure of 43,664 miles, while the number of passengers carried had increased to almost 3i million. To meet this growth, the Commonwealth Government has £60 million invested in facilities for international and domestic air services today. This compares with a total investment of only £1 million in 1937. In addition, the Commonwealth has provided the Government owned airline with something like £25 million in capital for the provision of modern jet aircraft, and ground facilities. Maintenance costs for the whole of the Australian network in 1937 were £123,000 compared with maintenance costs at present of £12.5 million, which includes £4.3 million for the intrastate network. These huge figures illustrate the responsibility taken by the Commonwealth Government for the provision of these facilities, and for the safety and development of this industry in rural areas by the granting of subsidies. All these things are peculiarly in the field of the Commonwealth which has lived up to its responsibilities. I say with great respect that the States have done little in this regard.
– Yes, they have done practically nothing to develop those things.
Having dealt with that aspect of the matter, I want to move into the field of a rather muddy dispute. I am sorry that I have to move into this field, but I have been fighting to establish the principle that the Commonwealth has sole power over civil aviation in Australia. This matter has been muddied by the waters in New South Wales. I would like to explain why I became interested in this matter. As I have said, I come into this matter quite impartially because, after all, I have been Minister for Civil Aviation for four months only. This matter started before I assumed the portfolio. But I accept full responsibility for it. Do not think I am trying not to accept the responsibility, because I do. But as I have shown the Senate, I have come into this as an impartial observer. I say, for my part that I do not believe that we as the Commonwealth authority can sit by and allow the taxpayers of Australia whom we represent to be placed in the position where they have to find money for additional subsidies because a State Government wants to carve up a turkey in a particular way within its own boundaries and send the bill to the taxpayers of Australia through the Commonwealth Government. This is not a position with which I am prepared to live, but this the position that has developed. The Government of New South Wales made an arbitary division of air services in New South Wales which, my Department said, would require the payment of additional Commonwealth subsidies.
– Have you the amount?
– No, I have not the figure with me. I will not guess at it because I would not like to give the honorable senator wrong information. I will see if I can obtain the figure for him. The position is - and this, to my mind, is one of the great justifications for our action - that, apart from the fact that I believe deeply in the importance of the safety, co-ordination and development of civil aviation, it is also one of my beliefs that no State Government has the right so to order within its boundaries the carving up of airline licences to alter the intrastate network in a way which in turn will cost the taxpayers all over Australia more money. This is the position as it is now. I have not found an authority yet who does not say quite frankly that an overhaul of the intrastate network of air services in New South Wales is long overdue. They all say so; they all admit this fact not only from the point of view of the airlines concerned but also because of the enormous waste at the present time caused by the overlapping and the running side by side of these two airlines. The way in which these services are allocated at present is causing the unnecessary loss of a great amount of money.
Having this fact in mind, I felt that I had a duty to the taxpayers of Australia to endeavour to overcome the situation. On the 2nd October - the Leader of the Opposition mentioned the date - these regulations were gazetted. From that time, any action could have been taken against them. I say this to refute completely the allegations that this action was taken on 10th October because the other regulations were coming in on 12th October. If anybody wanted to challenge these regulations, they were gazetted on 2nd October, and again on 6th October, and they were challengeable-
– The Parliament was not sitting.
– That did not prevent a challenge.
– The honorable senator says that the Parliament was not sitting. I did not know that the Parliament challenged these things in the courts. These regulations were challengeable from that date. I want to make this point because the allegations which have been made are completely wrong.
I wish to put before the Senate the reasons why these regulations were gazetted on Tuesday and why I nominated the date of Saturday. There were several hundred new licences to go out under these regulations which did not come into effect until they were gazetted. The Department of Civil Aviation said: “ This is an enormous administrative job, and we cannot do it in under three to four days”. I should mention that the job was done in three to four days. New licences were issued to all the charter aircraft and other aircraft that operate under Department of Civil Aviation licences within Australia. But there is one significant point I want to make to the Senate: In the case of the intrastate services of New South Wales all licences are for a period of three months only. I had hoped to be able within that time, to overhaul this network completely with the co-operation of the airlines themselves, the Government of New South Wales and the experts of the Department of Civil Aviation. In order to do that and to honour the undertaking given in the Prime Minister’s letter that I would consult with representatives of the Government of New South Wales, I went on Tuesday, 6th October, to keep an appointment I had made with the State Minister for Transport, Mr. McMahon. Unfortunately, he was not available, but he asked the New South Wales Attorney-General to represent him. This gentleman had been sitting in with Mr. McMahon when these matters were being considered and I was assured he would be quite competent to deal with any matters that arose. As I said, I visited the New South Wales Attorney-General on Tuesday, 6th October. I supplied him with a copy of the new regulations and gave him time to study them. I told him what the new regulations meant and also that I was going to consult with the two airlines themselves in New South Wales. I explained to him what I hoped to do. This was on Tuesday, 6th October. The regulations did not come into operation until 10th October, but they were challengeable from 2nd October.
– How could they be challengeable from 2nd October?
– You should have known, I understand, that on 2nd October the date of operation had not been nominated, and an order could have been sought lo restrain me from declaring the date.
– You had better get some more understanding.
– The information I was given was that the regulations were certainly challengeable from that Tuesday. They were certainly challengeable from the Tuesday. I then asked the airlines to meet me. On Tuesday morning I met representatives of East-West Airlines Ltd., and later that morning I met the executive of Airlines of New South Wales Pty. Ltd. I discussed with them the problems we had. I discussed the routes which were covered and, broadly; the principles on which we wanted to work. I asked the airlines representatives whether they would make work parties available to discuss these matters with my technical officers. Both airlines undertook to do this, and on Wednesday at 10 a.m. the first meeting occurred with members of the executive of East-West Airlines Ltd. and my technical officers. Before they started to work, the airline people asked for a statement of the basis upon which the discussion was to take place, and they wanted that statement put in writing. I shall read the letter which the Director-General of Civil Aviation addressed to Mr. D. M. Shand of EastWest Airlines Ltd. It is as follows -
Dear Mr. Shand,
You asked me to record for you my instructions before we began our talks.
The Government desires that East-West Airlines be maintained as an independent, viable airline. For this purpose it requires a profitable route structure. This requires a reallocation of air routes in New South Wales.
I am required to study the existing structure and recommend a reallocation which will achieve the objectives of the Government as stated above. In recommending the reallocation I am to have regard to the need to keep Commonwealth subsidy to a minimum and to give the public the best possible air service.
A similar letter was sent to Captain Middlemiss of Airlines of New South Wales Pty. Ltd. Contrary to what I expected, having regard to the undertaking given to me on Tuesday morning, the executive of East-West Airlines Ltd. said that it wished to withdraw and consider the basis of negotiation. Then I received a letter stating that it believed that another basis should be found, and so forth. No further meeting took place until the afternoon of the 12th.
At the second meeting facts and figures about the air routes were given to my technical officers. They now have that information from the airlines. The DirectorGeneral and the officers of the Department are now studying this information with a view to making a recommendation to me so that I oan introduce co-ordinated air services in New South Wales, in the interests of the taxpayers of Australia who have to foot the bill for subsidies. I think that that is the proper thing to do in the interests of the Australian taxpayers. Why should licensing be allowed to run willy-nilly if, working on the basis of keeping both airlines viable and profitable, we can work out integrated and streamlined services that will be a more economical proposition from the point of view of the taxpayers of Australia who, as I have said, have to find the subsidy money? 1 want now to refer to one or two matters mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition. When I first knew the Labour Party, the big toad wolf was always Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd.
– Then it was the C.S.R. The Labour Party seems to have grown up a little. Now the big bad wolf is the private enterprise organisation known as Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. I was interested to see the Leader of the Opposition take the stand which he did. What is the basis of all this hatred of the Ansett organisation? This organisation, of course, stood in the way of a government monopoly of airlines. That is the trouble from the Opposition’s point of view. This is the private enterprise airline which, by working in competition with the Government airline, and working efficiently, destroyed the dream of the Opposition of a government monopoly of civil aviation. That is what the Opposition wants. That is the policy it would put into operation if it ever gained office. That is what it proposes to do; it has made no bones about it. That has been the accepted policy of the Opposition. Because Australian National Airways, which originally was in competition with Trans-Australia Airlines, has been taken over by Ansett and has been built up into an organisation which has proved its efficiency, the Opposition is unremittingly and unrelentingly trying to destroy it.
– You have moved in on it, too.
– The honorable senator says that we have moved in on it, too. The other day I read out what the Government had done in New South Wales to keep alive the small airlines in that State. I did not want honorable senators to take only my word for it. I should like to quote from an article published recently in an aircraft magazine. The article was written by Mr. D. M. Shand, Chairman of East-West Airlines Ltd. In it, he said -
Nevertheless, East-West Airlines could never have developed and survived without the co-operation, facilities and benevolent interest and help of successive Commonwealth Governments and the Department of Civil Aviation.
Their policy over 40 years of sponsoring rural air services throughout Australia in the interest of national development, and as a defence reserve, has made Australia one of the most airminded nations in the world.
Of course the Government helps the small developing airlines. The Government has a proper formula of assistance for airlines which are developing services to rural areas, which are flying over unprofitable routes, and which could not carry on without the help of the Commonwealth.
I want to refer to another matter raised by Senator McKenna. He mentioned that the Premier of South Australia had invited Trans-Australia Airlines into South Australia to compete against the only airline operating in that State. Airlines of South Australia Pty. Ltd. is one of the very few airlines that is operating without a subsidy. If competition were allowed in South Australia, two airlines would be operating unprofitably. It is not my purpose to use the
Australian taxpayers money to subsidise an airline which is doing a good job, but which would need to be subsidised if it had to operate in competition with another airline. The advice I have received from officials of the Department of Civil Aviation is that the traffic in South Australia is not sufficient to enable the airline to cope with competition. Immediately the traffic in any part of Australia becomes such that there is room for competition, then other airlines will be licensed to go into the area.
– You were not happy about Dubbo.
– I am advised by my Department that the traffic to Dubbo is not sufficient to support two airlines, and I am acting upon that advice.
– What about an alteration of routes?
– When I get around to the co-ordination of New South Wales airlines, it will not be done on a hit or miss basis, as the New South Wales Government has done. It will be done on a proper coordinated basis for the benefit of the taxpayers of Australia. What did the New Soufi Wales Government do? It set up an inquiry into this matter. It asked a Mr. Borthwick to make a report upon it. I do not know Mr. Borthwick. I have certainly never heard anything to his detriment. I do not want to be misquoted in that respect. But I noticed with great interest that he was a commercial adviser to Trans-Australia Airlines - a nice impartial umpire. Knowing the rivalry that existed between Ansett- A.N.A. and T.A.A., and knowing that Airlines of New South Wales was a subsidiary of Ansett-A.N.A., the Government asked the commercial adviser to T.A.A. to be the independent umpire. But bless his heart, he was an aviation man before he was anything else. In his report he said in effect: “ Being an aviation man, if I were asked to coordinate economically the interstate air services of New South Wales, I would suggest that one of two things be done: Either that the two airlines be merged into one, or that T.A.A. be given the opportunity to purchase East-West Airlines.” This is the impartial umpire. Senator Kennelly is trying to interject. I did not interject when Senator McKenna was speaking, so I ask Senator Kennelly to show me similar courtesy.
Mr. Borthwick said in his report ;
East-West Airlines, based on Tamworth, New South Wales, is an independent operator and carries only approximately 30 per cent, of the New South Wales intrastate traffic. It has made small profits only, with the aid of subsidy in nine of its fourteen years of existence.
What I am interested in is that, being an aviation man, he said in effect: “ I cannot do what I know should be done in the interests of the Australian taxpayer, and that is to co-ordinate and do away with this overlapping, this side by side running, because the Government of New South Wales has said arbitrarily that it wants 51 per cent, of air services to be given to one airline and 49 per cent, to the other. I have to devise a system within that ambit, never mind whether it is economical or what it does.” It did not matter that additional subsidy would be involved. That was what he had to do because he had his riding instructions from the Government of New South Wales.
Funnily enough, the Government of New South Wales has discarded this report and has accepted the East-West Airlines suggestion that it grab Dubbo, the best airport, at once. Without any rhyme or reason, without any basis at all, without any regard for the interests of the taxpayers of Australia, or without any regard for the need to provide good services for the people, the Government of New South Wales simply said: “Yes, we appointed Mr. Borthwick to report on the matter, biased or unbiased as he may be. But never mind the report. This airline has asked us to give it Dubbo straight away, and we will do it.”
– It is the Government.
– I am only pointing out that this is a harsh and arbitrary way in which to do it. I propose to continue to have conferences with the representatives of the two airlines, and then to go to the Government of New South Wales and give it the basis upon which the recommendations have been given to us for the co-ordination of these intrastate airlines, bearing in mind that the Australian taxpayer has a proper right, through this Commonwealth Government, to see that the money that is raised by way of taxation is not wasted by arbitrary decisions, by filching from one or another, and without any set plan or re-organisation at all.
We have reached the stage where we have completed our first talks with the representatives of both airlines. I spoke with the representative Minister of the Government of New South Wales. Cabinet instructed me to do this because the Prime Minister had said that we would consult with them. When we have a plan of coordination, I will get the representatives of the two airlines together arid say: “ This is how the thing is working out. Can you give us your views on how you feel it will work out? Is it as economical a proposition as it could be? Can you suggest improvements? “ I shall invite the responsible transport Minister from the Government of New South Wales to come along, too, because I believe that when all the heat and dust of this political situation has gone, this matter can be settled in a calm and proper atmosphere, with a sense of responsibility and of administration.
I have recited to the Senate the subsidies that we have provided for East-West Airlines so that it may continue to operate its uneconomic routes. There were no subsidies until this Government devised them. I have pointed to the assistance we have given to the airline so that it could acquire half its fleet, and the assistance we have given lt by paying the subsidy every month, balancing out at the end of the year, and thus helping it with its liquidity. We have now given the airline an undertaking that it is the policy of the Commonwealth Government that it be continued as an independent, viable airline, with a profitable route structure. What small business in Australia has received such an undertaking? If that is not assisting the little man, then I do not know what is. We believe that is the proper thing to do. The Government of New South Wales has said that it wishes to maintain its two private enterprise monopolies in New South Wales, and in view of that the Commonwealth Government will continue to see that this is done.
I do not think there is anything else to which I particularly wish to refer at the moment. I want to make it quite clear that, so far as I am concerned, I am not taking dictation from anybody - whether it be Governments, airline proprietors, or anyone else - in my responsibilities in running the Department of Civil Aviation. I have two tasks to perform. I have to see that under the two airlines system both sides are given the same opportunities to develop and to compete with one another on equal terms. This competition provided by the two airlines system, which was devised by my distinguished colleague, now the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Paltridge), has made an outstanding contribution to civil aviation in Australia. It has worked, and it will continue to work, to the benefit of the people of Australia. No-one is going to harm either of those organisations whilst I am Minister for Civil Aviation.
The other task which I have to perform is to see that the subsidised air routes in Australia are conducted in such a manner that the taxpayer of Australia receives a fair return for his money. Those two things I propose to do.
As an impartial observer who took over this portfolio only four months ago, let me say without equivocation that the record of the Department of Civil Aviation which has been placed before me is a clean record, a record which I would be proud to possess. The credit for this must go to the present Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Paltridge, who held the portfolio for li years.
– We have listened to the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) try to answer the case submitted by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). I wonder just what parts of the case he answered. He quoted passages from the remarks of certain judges. He told us what happened in 1937, when so much money was spent However, despite the mass of words and figures that he used, he did not, in my view, tell us why the Commonwealth did not enter this field at any time between 1937 and 1961. Until 1961 there was no worry by the Government about whether there were two airlines in New South Wales or about whether they were both subsidised. At no time prior to 1961 did the former Minister see any great virtue in the rationalisation of intrastate services in New South Wales, but he did sit up and take notice when Ansett failed in his take-over bid for East-West Airlines Ltd. That is when all this trouble started. Everything seemed to be going along smoothly until then.
At no time had the New South Wales Government said that the Commonwealth should not have complete control over such matters as the licensing and air-worthiness of aircraft, the licensing and competence of pilots and air crew, the rules to be observed by aircraft in the air and on the ground and when taking off and landing, and over all the other technical matters presently contained in the Commonwealth’s air navigation regulations. At no time had the New South Wales Government said that the Commonwealth should not exercise control both within and outside controlled air space. The New South Wales Government believed that, subject to the Commonwealth requirements that I have mentioned, it should have the right to say who should operate commercial aircraft on purely intrastate routes. This has gone on for a number of years. If it is wrong, did it become wrong only after 1961 when Ansett failed in his take-over bid? Has all this trouble arisen because of that? Is that the only thing that made it wrong? That is what I want to know.
Let us trace the history of this matter. It is extremely interesting. The matter originated when Ansett-A.N.A. made a takeover bid for East-West Airlines in April 1960. That bid was rejected by the shareholders of that company. In fact, the company’s articles were changed so that no take-over could be made without the approval of the existing board. The next that the people knew of the dispute was when allegations were made by three officers of East-West Airlines) - Messrs. Shand, Pringle and Smith - and were published in the Press in October 1961. They were to the effect that the then Minister for Civil Aviation was attempting to pressurise East-West Airlines into accepting the Ansett take-over bid. I am not saying whether those allegations were true or false, but they were the allegations that were made. In reply to a question about this matter which was asked by Senator McKellar on 24th October 1961, Senator Paltridge denied that the allegations made by the three gentlemen I have mentioned were true. On that evening, rather remarkably, Mr. Drummond, who was then the honorable member for New England in another place, said -
I can say definitely that the Minister said to the representatives of the company that they would have to get together with Ansett.
On 25th October the former Minister for Civil Aviation confirmed that he could well have said that, but he said that the substance of what he actually did say was that now that East-West Airlines had declined Ansett5 s offer and the two airlines would be operating side by side in New South Wales, the Commonwealth Government would expect and would look for a degree of sensible cooperation and self assistance between the two. He elaborated this statement on the evening of 25th October, when he said that he had told the companies that they should do their utmost to reduce costs by collaborating on common operational, technical and traffic problems.
Let us consider why Ansett was so anxious to take over East-West Airlines. Seemingly this has caused all this trouble. Surely this matter has not just blown up overnight. The situation existed prior to 1961. It has existed since Airlines of New South Wales and East-West Airlines have been in competition in the State. Why did Airlines of New South Wales want to take over EastWest Airlines? It wanted to get the oncarriage. At the time - no doubt this has continued to the present time- on-carriage from East-West Airlines went to TransAustralia Airlines.
As honorable senators well know, oncarriage is most important and immensely profitable. It enables airlines to earn extra revenue without incurring very great expense or expense that is in proportion to the extra passengers that it carries for the remainder of their trip. It is true that T.A.A. arranged to do the bookings or provide some of the booking facilities and that it made maintenance arrangements at a very small charge, in return for the benefit of East-West Airlines’ on-carriage. From a business point of view, one cannot have any quarrel with this. It seems clear that the only intelligent meaning that can be given to Senator Paltridge’s admission that East-West Airlines should come to some arrangement with Airlines of New South Wales - it being an Ansett subsidiary, the logical thing would be to make some arrangement with Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. - is that the EastWest Airlines’ on-carriage that had been going to T.A.A. would be diverted to Ansett-A.N.A. No doubt, both the Government airline and Ansett-A.N.A. knew the value of such on-traffic.
What happened? To prevent the monopolisation - I use the word that the Minister has used - of intrastate routes in New South Wales, the State Government in its wisdom decided that it should undertake a reallocation of the routes so that the traffic would be fairly distributed between the two airlines. Is that any different from what the Commonwealth Government has done in relation to interstate operations? There is no difference at all. The Commonwealth has rationalised the industry to such an extent that even today there is extremely little variation between the percentages of passengers carried by the two interstate operators. When this Government found out what was in the mind of the New South Wales Government, it immediately gave notice that it would suspend payment of subsidy to East-West Airlines. It persisted in this attitude until the matter became the subject of litigation, when an agreement was made between the two bodies concerned that the subsidy would continue.
As is known, it was about the time of the original take-over proposals that East-West Airlines sought help from the New South Wales Government in relation to intrastate routes, and it was at that time that the Government decided to attempt to allocate business on the basis of 51 per cent, to Airlines of New South Wales and 49 per cent, to East-West Airlines. When this decision was arrived at, it was challenged in the courts by the Ansett interests. The High Court of Australia, and later the Privy Council, rejected Ansett’s claim. It is as hard for me to understand as it was for the Leader of the Opposition to understand why the Commonwealth Government did not ask for costs. Thank God, I do not know much about the law or the very good people who are judges and lawyers. I have always believed that the wisest thing is to keep away from them, because by so doing one will have a lot more money. But the facts are that in practically any case one reads about, when a petitioner fails to win his case costs are awarded against him. For some reason no doubt best known to the Commonwealth Government, its counsel did not see fit even to ask for costs. I should be grateful if whoever follows me will give some reason for this most unusual procedure as far as the law is concerned.
Following the court’s decision, the New South Wales Government announced that the first re-allocation of routes would take place on 10th October. As the Leader of the Opposition said, there was then an exhibition of indecent haste on the part of this Government to acquire Commonwealthwide power over air navigation in order to frustrate the New South Wales Government’s proposals. Everyone knows that the growth of civil aviation in this country has been tremendous between 1937 and 1964, but it has not been so great since October 1961 as to warrant this rushing in by the Commonwealth. As the Leader of the Opposition has said, we are not against Commonwealth powers over civil aviation, but there is a very fundamental point to be observed. Justice must not only be done; it must be perfectly clear that justice is being done. To be quite candid, I believe this action was taken for one reason alone and I shall prove my contention as I go along. This is just another of the Government’s almost fanatical actions to help a private airline company to take revenue away from the Government’s own airline One marvels at the Government’s attitude. I do not think I am casting any wrong aspersions when I say that. I have never done so and no honorable senator should indicate that I have done so unless he is prepared to prove it line by line and word by word. The people outside just cannot understand the loving care that the Government has shown for many years for a private company that is in opposition to the Government’s own airline. I do not think anybody in this chamber can understand the Government’s attitude either.
As I have said, the Government has shown indecent haste. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) wrote a letter to the six State Premiers, not asking for their opinions but simply telling them that certain things would be done. It is true, as the Minister for Civil Aviation has said, that the right honorable gentleman has stated that he would consult with the State Premiers on air transport co-ordination. But what does that mean when it is all boiled down? The Prime Minister will confer with the Premiers, but when there are strong men on both sides they will be fortunate if there is any agreement at all. Whatever the Commonwealth lays down will be adopted. There have been four replies from State Premiers in writing, apart from Press reports. Each of the Premiers who have replied have objected to the Government’s intentions. It is true that the Governments of Tasmania and Queensland, by Acts of Parliament years ago, agreed to hand powers in relation to civil aviation over to the Commonwealth Government, but they put a tag to the agreement. The tag was that they could withdraw the power any time they wished.
So the Government has virtually told the States it is not worried about Tasmania and Queensland and the other States but is going to act irrespective of what the States may say. The only gleam of hope in the Prime Minister’s letter - if one can put it that way - is that the Commonwealth will consult with the States on certain matters. I do not like consultation on that basis when the other party has the big stick. If there is disagreement I believe that in the end what the Commonwealth Government lays down will prevail. Everyone knows that the undue haste with which the Commonwealth has acted has spread a nasty aroma around. Surely there was no need for this haste. One airline which, as the Minister has rightly said, is being subsidised by the Government so that it can remain in existence, could not be bought by the big private airline company operating in Australia. It could not take over this smaller airline and now we have all this rumpus.
Let us consider the solicitude that the Government has shown for the private airline which operates against the Government’s own airline. It is remarkable and I cannot understand it. The Government has often said that it believes in a two airlines policy and if that is its belief, I will go along with it. But at least the Government should be fair about this. I marvelled at what the Government has done in this connection when I was gathering information from past debates. As far back as 1952, there was a civil aviation agreement between Australian National Airways Pty. Ltd. and T.A.A. The Government allowed Ansett Airways Pty. Ltd. to import two Metropolitan Convair aircraft in 1954. Ansett Airways Pty. Ltd. entered into the profitable Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane routes and cut prices. Under an agreement that T.A.A. had then with Australian National Airways Pty. Ltd., neither could reduce fares unless both agreed. The fact is that A.N.A. Pty. Ltd. was not in a sound position at that time and its financial resources would not allow it to reduce charges. It was at that time that Australian National Airways collapsed and the Ansett organisation bought it. I suppose the Ansett organisation was quite entitled to do so but I have .given the fundamental reason. I cannot recall whether the Government then had a two airlines policy but at least it would not then have given an import licence to Ansett Transport Industries. Some might have said that would have been drastic but it was no more drastic than what the Government did to Butler Air Transport Ltd.
In 1957 when Ansett Airways Pty. Ltd. bought Australian National Airways Pty. Ltd., the 1952 benefits were transferred to Ansett and the Government provided additional benefits by way of guaranteed loans and a strengthening of the rationalisation provisions. The main benefits that Ansett-A.N.A. got from the purchase of Australian National Airways were half the mails, a fair share of Government business, an agreement on fares, schedules and air navigation charges. When in 1957 T.A.A. refused to agree to a fare increase which was sought by Ansett, what did the Government do to come to Ansett’s aid? It put a tax on aviation kerosene, knowing full well that to all intents and purposes T.A.A. was the only user of aviation kerosene. That cost T.A.A. £300,000 a year. That was not a bad way for the Government to help Ansett to obtain, in effect, a fare increase. I have attempted to take the history of this matter in chronological order. That history is fantastic. Why the people of this nation do not rise in protest I do not know. I suppose they are so worried about eking out their own existence that the only time they care about the airlines is when they travel with them.
I ask: Why has there been this solicitude for Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. The Government’s attitude has been amazing. I remind the Senate of what happened when the equipment of both airlines with jet aircraft was under discussion. TransAustralia Airlines wanted to buy Caravelles but Ansett wanted to purchase Electra aircraft. Senator Paltridge the then Minister for Civil Aviation - now the Leader of the Government in this place - told both airlines that they had to buy Viscount aircraft. This man Ansett, who must have some remarkable power, saw the Prime Minister, with the result that the decision of the then
Minister for Civil Aviation was overruled. Ansett got his Electras. Of course, he had his order in first. Because of the loss of traffic due to the delay in getting similar aircraft, that decision cost T.A.A. an estimated sum of £400,000.
In 1958 the Government introduced the Airlines Equipment Bill, which guaranteed Ansett a sum of up to £15 million. I could understand the Government taking that step if the private airline was in the industry on its own and was battling to make ends meet.
– So it was.
– It was not.
– I mean as far as the airline was concerned. You are looking at the position of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd.
– Well, Ansett puts all his companies together to save tax.
– Would you not do the same?
– I am not saying what I would do. L am saying what he does.
– lt is quite legal.
– I have enough faith in the Taxation Branch to know that it would have to be legal. Senator Hannaford said that Ansett was making huge profits on everything except his airline.
– I did not say anything of the kind.
– That is what you implied. The solicitude of this Administration for the Ansett organisation is beyond my comprehension. Would the hard headed businessmen on the other side of the Senate be prepared to do likewise? I give great credit to businessmen who are hard headed. Would honorable senators opposite be prepared to bolster up their competitors in anything like the way in which this Administration has bolstered up Ansett? When I go through the history of this thing I am stunned.
Let us go a little further. We all remember the famous cross-charter deal. As far as the Government was concerned, it was quite all right for T.A.A. to have to exchange three Viscounts for two DC6B aircraft. Everybody who took an interest in civil aviation knew that T.A.A. was doing better on the east-west run with its Viscount aircraft, but it was forced into the cross- charter arrangement. The daddy of all the acts of this Government which believes in free, fair competition occurred when Sir Warren McDonald, as the Chairman of the National Airlines Commission, asked the present Leader of the Government in the Senate to allow T.A.A. to operate intrastate. The Minister would not agree to that proposal. The Government speaks about fairness. If anybody on this side of the Senate did one-tenth as much as the Leader of the Government has done to bolster up the private airline against its competitor, he would be removed from public life. The Minister is fortunate, because he is on the side of the private airline. He has been much more courageous than I would be. It is just past comprehension.
The next thing to occur was a dispute between the two airlines about operating to Darwin. Trans-Australia Airlines was operating on this route, but the co-ordinator of air services said that both airlines had to operate on that route. Members of the National Airlines Commission unanimously decided to appeal against that decision. The then Minister for Civil Aviation met the Chairman of the Commission in Perth. No appeal was lodged. That is what the Minister has told us here. I can point out in “ Hansard “ what he said. I repeat that no appeal was lodged even though a unanimous decision to appeal had been made. These men are not boys. They do not make a decision one day, then take a flight to Perth, and change their minds for no reason at all.
– I do not want to interrupt you, but I want to be clear on this matter. Are you saying that no appeal was lodged against this decision because I influenced Sir Giles Chippindall?
– All I am saying-
– Are you saying that?
– Just wait a minute. I shall answer in my own way and in my own time.
– You will answer it, won’t you?
– It might be quite all right for you to do things in the interests of a private airline as against the nation’s airline. I would not be able to do it. I do not think I would be able to stay in politics for one day if I did so. You are lucky. The people - or their bosses - want you and therefore they leave you where you are.
– What air route are you referring to now?
– I was referring to Darwin.
– Adelaide to Darwin?
– Yes. T.A.A. had it and Ansett applied for it. They could not agree and the Co-ordinator decided that Ansett ought to fly to Darwin. He made the decision and 1 am not arguing with it. According to what I have read, T.A.A. decided to appeal. I am certain that I could find where that was reported. However, after a talk between the Minister and the Chairman of T.A.A. the decision was reversed and, to my recollection, there was no appeal.
– But that does not answer my question.
– It answers it in the way I want to answer it just as you answer questions as you want to answer them. When you do not want to answer a question you just say a few kind words, with a nice grin. That is why some of us do not ask questions. We got a bit tired of it.
Here is a beauty. Prior to the general election in 1961 Parliament passed the Airlines Agreement Act which incorporated matters requested by Ansett in an open letter. Here is the open letter. He is the cheekiest fellow I know. He tells the Government what to do. I have here a photostat copy of the letter. The most remarkable thing is that it appeared in the Press on 14th July 1961. The legislation was submitted to the Senate on 28th September 1961. I shall deal with the matters it contained. The 1961 legislation, which was requested and obtained by Ansett Transport Industries Ltd., contained provisions for guarantees for re-equipment, a guarantee against a sudden increase in air route charges and aviation fuel taxes, continuation of the Rationalisation Committee, a profit target for T.A.A., and the restriction that T.A.A. could not use its insurance account. It is astounding.
Ansett placed his letter in the Press as an advertisement on 14th July and the Government then acquiesced in what he wanted. The Minister should know the the answer to this question: Is there any request in the letter that was not granted to Ansett? One wonders. Justice must not only be done, as in the case of New South Wales, but it has to be made manifest that it is done and that it is in the interests of the people; not in the interests of one man. If ever I go into industry I hope the Government will be as good a supporter of mine as it is of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. I shall then be able to say: “ I have no fears or worries about standing up successfully for any length of time “.
While we believe in Commonwealth control of civil aviation, as Senator McKenna has said, we believe that it should be obtained openly by asking the people for it. But you do not ask them at a time when it will benefit one person. You ask for it openly in the belief, which we hold, that it would be in the interests of Australia to broaden the Constitution not only in regard to civil aviation but also in regard to a lot of other things. It is unjust to bring in regulations at this time and expect the people outside and inside Parliament to believe that you do it, as the Minister for Civil Aviation said, for the most honorable purpose of benefiting the finances of the nation. I believe that the Minister will attempt to do that, but there should be no strings to it. If it is done openly, no-one inside or outside Parliament will ask: “ Why is this always done with one person getting the rake-off? “
.- I do not intend to speak for very long in this debate on the motion for disallowance of the Air Navigation Regulations moved by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator McKenna). It seems to me that the debate has got away from the motion and has concerned itself with the personality of one man - Mr. R. M. Ansett. I shall deal with that aspect in a moment when I get it into proper context. What interests me is that the Australian Labour Party finds itself in a dilemma and seeks to divert attention to the personality of Mr. R. M. Ansett. The dilemma is this: Whereas Senator McKenna, Senator Kennelly, Mr. Calwell, Mr. Whitlam and Mr. Pollard were representatives on the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review and vehemently demanded that all power should be accorded to the Commonwealth in relation to air transport in Australia and its Territories, those gentlemen now find themselves supporting the needs of New South Wales in relation to its internal air transport problems. The New South Wales Government is taking to itself, and has taken to itself, power to decide how air routes shall be allotted inside the State borders.
A complete conflict has arisen inside the ranks of the Australian Labour Party as to the method by which air transport is to be controlled in Australia. On the one hand Senator McKenna and Senator Kennelly, who were signatories to the report of the Constitutional Review Committee, say that all power should go to the Commonwealth. Then by some curious method they support the New South Wales branch of the Labour Party, which wants to take to itself absolute right and control in the disposition of air traffic routes inside New South Wales. To resolve this problem of split personality inside the Labour Party, its members now employ one of the most ancient of political tricks. They seek to divert the attention of the people to a man whose character they can then begin to destroy. In the course of that destruction they employ a process - I think osmosis is the chemical term - of attempting to destroy the character and quality of the Leader of the Government in .the Senate (Senator Paltridge) who is now sitting at the table, through the attack on Mr. Ansett.
– It is a read herring.
– It is worse than a red herring. It is something which borders on viciousness.
– You are too well educated to distort the meaning of the word osmosis.
– You and I know what it means. In this process, the Government of New South Wales attempted to distract the attention of the Australian electorate from the real problem which has been demonstrated in the Senate this afternoon by the Minister for Civil Aviation. I wonder what the answer of the Australian ‘Labour Party would be if we were able to apply this test to them: Suppose it was not Airlines of New South Wales that had a percentage of its route taken away. Suppose it was Trans-Australia Airlines which was operating on the routes which are being operated by Airlines of New South Wales. Would there be this ardour to support the
Government of New South Wales which isbeing displayed by the Australian Labour Party at the present moment? The answer would be: “No”. What the Australian Labour Party is attempting to do both in the Senate and in another place today, and what the Government of New South Wales also is attempting to do, is to destroy the private airline structure which is the basis on which this Government seeks to conduct the whole airline policy in Australia. I believe in this policy. I do not believe in the operation of a single airline. I believe that these two airlines competing together produce the level of efficiency for which the Minister for Civil Aviation is aiming, as he mentioned in his speech this afternoon.
Having reached the stage where for its own private political purposes, in view of the imminent election in respect of which it is seeking to obtain political advantage, the Government of New South Wales, for purely partisan political purposes is attempting to divert the attention of the people of the State from its own misdeeds by blaming those misdeeds on the Federal Government which seeks to have uniform control of airlines throughout Australia. I think it is proper that the Federal Government should have this uniform control. I think it is absolute nonsense to say that control over aviation can be split. This does not exist anywhere else in the world. In the United States there is an airlines commission, which is equivalent to the Department of Civil Aviation, and which co-ordinates airline operations throughout the whole of that country. In Great Britain, there is a single airline policy and to date the most monstrous situation exists. The national airline, British Overseas Airways Corporation, has for years and years been losing sums of money as large as £15 million a year, although I understand that it is operating at a profitable level this year. In the United States of America and Australia competitive airlines are operating. The same situation applies now in Canada which is following the example set by Australia. With such a policy, we at least get a level of airline efficiency. This is what the Commonwealth Government has attempted to do.
The present situation arose when, as the result of a judgment delivered in the High Court of Australia, it became apparent that there had existed a power inherent in the Constitution which the Commonwealth had <not observed in the past. If the Commonwealth had observed it in the past, it had considered that the time was not appropriate for this power to be asserted. So far as I have been able to understand, in my own way, this legal brigalow which is probably far more interesting to people such as Senator Murphy, Senator Cohen and Senator Wright with capacities for moving more adeptly through it than I have, it seems pretty clear from the judgment of Mr. Justice Windeyer, which Senator McKenna quoted in part earlier today, that the Commonwealth Government has power totally to co-ordinate air navigation throughout Australia. That seems to be the essence of this judgment of the High Court.
You cannot have divided control over air movement. This is perfectly true. You just cannot have it. The Commonwealth Government, I consider, was justified in exerting the power which the High Court had indicated lay within its possession. Therefore, the Commonwealth Government produced new regulations to cover this aspect. It may be said, I think with some sort of justice, that this is a matter which should have been dealt with by statute. I hope that at some time it will be. But I think that the nervousness of the States of Victoria and South Australia does not relate to the problem of air navigation or the Commonwealth’s power over it; I think those States recognise this fairly well. What does make them nervous are the implications on a deeper level, it seems to me, that exist in the judgment with regard to section 51, placitum xxix, relating to the external power of the Commonwealth. The States feel that this power may be exerted against their domestic jurisdiction in the future. I think that this is where the problem lies.
I come now to the curious situation where the Government of New South Wales makes the decision in relation to airline operations in that State which are heavily subsidised by the Commonwealth Government. I asked the Department of Civil Aviation at short notice whether it was able to give me any indication of the subsidies. The Department informed me that the burden borne by the Commonwealth Government in relation to the operation of intrastate airlines in New South Wales is in the vicinity of £1 .5 million a year.
– Did you inquire about figures for the other States?
– In this particular context, I do not know what the figures are for the other States. But if you make an analysis - or what cost accountants would call the burden centre, I should think - to ascertain all the charges and the general overheads for the whole of Australia, determine the overheads that relate to New South Wales, and apportion them among the intrastate routes in that State, it will be found that those routes carry a Commonwealth subsidy in regard to air navigation and such facilities as aerodromes amounting to approximately £1.5 million a year. The Commonwealth Government is operating this system or, as the Minister for Civil Aviation said, the Commonwealth taxpayers are operating this system. This is a substantial sum of money which is part of the overhead carried by the Commonwealth Government on behalf of the intrastate airline services in New South Wales.
The New South Wales Government intrudes and resolves quite arbitrarily that it will carve up the fowl, that it will decide how these airline routes are to be proportioned. The Government of New South Wales says that it will decide how the Commonwealth shall be directed to pay these subsidies, because that is the net effect of its proposals. In other words, the Commonwealth Government which is responsible for raising revenues and for maintaining air navigation systems, air fields and the like, is not to be master in its own house, because the New South Wales Government seeks to make itself the master of the Commonwealth’s house in that State.
– And send us the bill for the chicken.
– That is right. This is what the State Government is attempting to do. I, for one, hope I am always vigilant enough to see the needs of the States, but this action to me is rank piracy. It is something to which I object.
Honorable senators are entitled to ask why Senator McKenna has proposed a motion for the disallowance of the amended regulations. This is extraordinarily interesting. Senator McKenna and Senator Kennelly spent a long time in the Senate today advancing all sorts of reasons why the new regulations should be disallowed. They have not told the Senate the real reason why they want the regulations disallowed. But there is not a great mystery about this. I have in my hands the Air Transport Bill 1964 which is before the New South Wales Parliament. I would like your ruling, Mr. President, on whether the Standing Orders allow me to deal with a piece of legislation which is before a State House at the present time.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Yes, the honorable senator will be in order in doing so.
– Thank you, Mr. President. In this new bill of which we have read so much in the newspapers, savage penalties are proposed for any airline operator who conducts his business in New South Wales without the consent of the Commissioner for Motor Transport in that State. This Bill, as I have said, is currently before the Parliament of New South Wales. Clause 15 of the Bill provides -
That may not convey very much to honorable senators, but there is an explanatory note to that section, which reads -
The application of the Commonwealth Air Navigation Regulations to air navigation within New South Wales.
The New South Wales Government is putting this Bill through, but there has been an Air Navigation Act in New South Wales since 1938. That Act carries in it the capacity to attract automatically to itself any regulations promulgated by the Commonwealth Government in relation to air navigation. It now becomes obvious why the leaders of the Opposition in this Parliament are so anxious to get the Commonwealth regulations disallowed. They must try to get them disallowed because otherwise the Bill that is going through the New South Wales Parliament will be quite useless. It automatically has to take unto itself any Commonwealth air navigation regulations.
– You do not think that the New South Wales Government knew that?
– I do not know whether it knew it or not, but those are the facts in relation to this matter. I suggest that the New South Wales Government does know, and that is why it has now become a matter of great urgency for the Australian Labour Party here to assist its brothers in New South Wales by trying to get these air navigation regulations disallowed.
I said I would not speak for long. I shall conclude by saying that New South Wales, by virtue, it seems to me, of a judgment of the High Court, has power over the licensing of transport inside New South Wales, but it is also perfectly clear from that judgment of the High Court that the Commonwealth has total power in relation to air navigation. I submit to the Senate that you cannot have control over air navigation unless you have control of aircraft on the ground as well as of aircraft in the air. The operation of airlines is a total operation. 1 suggest to my colleagues on this side that they reject the motion of the Leader of the Opposition at the first opportunity.
– The real problem involved here is the naked use of power to assist a monopoly. There is no doubt where the Australian Labour Party in this chamber stands on the question whether the Commonwealth should have power over civil aviation. We believe it should have that power, and that the recommendations of the Constitutional Review Committee should ‘be adopted and put into effect. There is, however, a great difference between the existence of a power and the exercise of that power.
The Australian Labour Party objects to these regulations and asks for them to be disallowed because the Commonwealth’s power is being improperly exercised. Every power is given to be exercised for proper, bona fide purposes, and with due regard being paid to the rights of the persons affected by it. The question is not whether this power should exist, but whether it should be exercised at this time, in this manner and under these circumstances. We on this side say that it should not. We are saying what the ordinary man in the street is saying. He knows that this is not right. I think that the consciences of honorable senators on the Government side are troubled. I believe that individually they are decent, honorable people and that they do not like what is being done. They are not happy about it. They know that their party is being used as a puppet. They know that they are landing themselves with something that nobody likes. Nobody likes to think that the powers of government in this country can be used to advance the interests of certain private persons aginst the interests of others or that the Government can be manipulated and made to carry out the will of a monopoly, as is being done in this case.
What is being said by the Government to justify what it is doing? Senator Henty has said that he wants to save the taxpayers’ money. Ha has spoken about the subsidies being paid to airlines and about what could happen in New South Wales. An effective answer was given to that proposition by the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ on 1 4th October, when it said -
It will cut short a lot of unnecessary argument to point out that the total amount paid by the Commonwealth to the two N.S.W. intrastate airlines is some £56,000 a year. It is a minute percentage of their annual turnovers and applies strictly to the marginal services.
Even if there were a question of the taxpayers’ money, the taxpayers of this country are concerned also about other things. They are concerned about decency, honesty, justice, fair dealing and propriety in Government.
The Minister for Civil Aviation made some statements which can be regarded only as sheer hypocrisy. He said, in effect, that he had always thought that intrastate aviation was a proper matter for the exercise of Commonwealth power, and that he agreed with the Constitutional Review Committee on that. He implied that it was only accidental that New South Wales was to have a reallocation of air routes on 12th October and that the Commonwealth came into the field on 10th October. He made out that there was nothing sinister in all this, and that the Government was just moving in to fix up air services which ought to be better co-ordinated. What nonsense and hypocrisy. What has been the Government’s attitude to the report of the Consitutional Review Committee? The Leader of the Government in this chamber, then Senator Sir William Spooner, was asked a question by Senator Cohen on 5th March of this year in these terms - 1 direct to the Leader of the Government in the
Senate a question supplementary to that asked earlier this morning by the Leader of the Opposition. In view of the Government’s failure since 1959 to act on any of the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review, even those which were unanimous, are we justified in regarding the whole report as “being pigeon-holed for the duration of this Government’s occupancy of the treasury bench?
The answer by the Leader of the Government, was -
I think the only fair answer I can give is that I discern no enthusiasm on the part of my colleagues or myself to implement the recommendations, but that does not mean that the report will be permanently pigeon-holed.
There was no enthusiam on the part of the Government to implement any of those recommendations until it became necessary in the interests of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. What is it but improper for the Government to decline to act on this report, or to do anything about matters relating to the Constitution until the interests of Mr. Ansett and his company are concerned? When one speaks of Mr. Ansett, one speaks not only of that gentleman but also of the powerful interests behind him - the oil companies and those associated with them. They are the people who support this Government, the people who supply the sinews of war to it in its political campaigns.
It is said that the Government did not take this action to help Mr. Ansett. On Tuesday of this week Senator Henty said in this chamber: “The Government has at no time intervened to help anybody.” I had asked him why the Government had intervened on behalf of Ansett to prevent the re-allocation of air routes by the New South Wales Government. The suggestion that the Government did not intervene to help Ansett must be the greatest joke of this year. What other construction could possibly be put on the circumstances than that the Government moved in to assist Mr. Ansett in his battle with East- West Airlines and the State of New South Wales? It is complete and utter hypocrisy to suggest that that is not what the Government is doing. Everything points to it.
Here we have a matter which is of high constitutional importance. We have a situation where the powers of the Commonwealth Parliament are being affected. We have the whole question opened up as to whether the Commonwealth can legislate under the external affairs power in any field where it has some international convention or obligation. This matter extends far beyond the field of civil aviation. It extends into every field of legislative power in this community. If that is correct, it means that the
Commonwealth Parliament can legislate in fields into which it has hitherto considered it has been unable to move. These are matters of the utmost importance for the States, for the Commonwealth and for everyone to consider, lt is the most complicated and, perhaps, the most important constitutional matter which has arisen for many years.
What does the Government do? It races in to make a regulation in order to assist Mr. Ansett, even at a stage when the States have asked for further time to consider these matters. The Government has treated the State Premiers like dirt. When they asked for further time to consider the implications, they were brushed aside. It is sufficient to refer to the reply of the Premier of Tasmania on 7th October 1964, when he said - lt was with surprise, therefore, that I learned from the Press on Saturday last that, without further consultation with the States, the Commonwealth had gazetted amended regulations under the Air Navigation Act to give effect to its proposal.
Apart from the civil aviation action, your Government’s action has very far reaching general implications in relation to the sovereign powers of the various States, and is causing my Government serious concern.
– What is the date of the letter?
– 7th October 1964.
– The Premier replied two months after he received the letter.
– That is an illustration’ of the feeling of the State Premiers on this matter. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) rushed in to say that that was two months after the Premier had received the letter, as if two months was some terrible time lag so far as this Government is concerned, even on a matter of the most serious constitutional import, a matter with such far reaching consequences as this.
Let us judge the consistency of what the Minister has said by turning to the field of restrictive trade practices. The Government has said that we need legislation in this field. It is true that Sir Garfield Barwick, the former Attorney-General, issued pamphlets showing the detrimental effects which were being caused daily to the community by the existence of restrictive trade practices. What happened? The Government went to its masters outside, and when they told it that they did not want this legislation, the legis- tion was shelved. The Government is constantly telling us that the matter is complex, that there are a lot of people to be considered, and that it has to get the views of the community. It says in effect, that even when legislation is introduced, it is not going to attempt to have it passed by this Parliament. All it proposes to do is to drop the legislation gently on the table and then steal away and think about it for a few more years. That happens when the monopolies, which might be affected by such legislation, tell the Government that they do not want any action taken. But when the same monopolies tell the Government that they want some action, we see how quickly the processes of government and of drafting delegated legislation can operate.
The Government has moved in with lighting speed to chop off the re-allocation of air routes by the Government of New South Wales - co-incidentally, of course. It is said that action was not taken for the purpose of preventing Mr. Ansett’s air routes being taken away from him. It was merely a coincidence that this happened on 10th October, two days before the re-allocation by the Government of New South Wales was to come into effect. It is not honest, it is not decent and it is not being truthful to the Australian people when it is suggested that the motives were other than to assist the Ansett monopoly.
The Minister for Civil Aviation has come into the chamber today and, under the pressure which has been exercised on the Government, is starting to shift his ground a little and to give the impression that, after all, East-West Airlines Ltd. is going to be preserved in some way. What was his answer to a question I asked him about this matter on 27th August 1964? The question was as follows -
I wish to ask the Minister for Civil Aviation a question. Did not his predecessor frequently declare that the Government has a two-airline policy and that its continuing objective is to build an industry comprised of one Government airline and one privately-owned airline? If this policy is carried into the intrastate field, is it not clear that it can be achieved only if East-West Airlines Ltd. is taken over or squeezed out?
His reply was -
What the honorable senator says is quite correct. The Commonwealth Government has always pursued the policy of having two airlines in competition on trunk routes. That is quite correct. It has also pursued the policy of subsidising intrastate airlines and, without that subsidy, a number of the present intrastate airlines would not be running. It is because of this subsidy which keeps intrastate airlines going that the Government has felt that there is no room for competition on an intrastate airline when it is subsidised. The honorable senator mentioned one airline in New South Wales. As I understand it, what is happening in New South Wales is that there are two private enterprise monopolies, both licenced by the New South Wales Government.
That was a pretty clear indication of what was going to happen in New South Wales. East-West Airlines is to be taken over or squeezed out and the Government is not going to allow competition in an intrastate airline when it is subsidised.
– That is right.
– That is right, but who in this chamber has any doubt about what would have happened if the Minister for Civil Aviation, and more particularly his predecessor, had had control of the intrastate airlines when the battle with East-West Airlines was going on? East-West Airlines would have been wiped out of existence, and everybody knows it.
If government power can be exercised in any way to further the interests of the monopoly, this Government consistently has exercised it. There has been no inconsistency in its attitude. It has always been, and always must be, the same as we have seen on this occasion. Government senators need not have troubled consciences, because their role and the role of their party has always been to act for the monopolies. It is only in an issue such as this, when the line becomes clear and when the motives and purposes are clarified, that the Liberal Party’s role is fully disclosed. The Liberal Party exists only for the maintenance and extension of private monopoly.
From time to time it will do things to gain votes and to cloud the issue, but whenever the issue is clarified, whenever there is a collision between a great monopoly and other interests in the community, decency, justice, common fairness and fair dealing go out the window. The Government then is prepared to act, if necessary with indecent haste, in the interests of the monopolies which it is pledged to support and which in turn support it. Without the assistance of the great monopolies, this Government would not be in office, so it is bound - it has no choice - to come to their assistance when they are in trouble.
What does it mean when the Commonwealth Government treats the State Governments in a way that is contrary to all the assertions that are made in this chamber about the sovereign rights of States, about courtesy being extended to the States and about not moving into State spheres? Time and again we have heard the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) say in this chamber: “ I cannot do that because it is a matter for the States. I cannot move into that field.” Has there been any haste on the part of the Minister for Health to introduce legislation pursuant to the external affairs power in relation to all the health conventions to which Australia has subscribed? Has the Minister made any endeavour to do that? Where is the haste in that direction? Why were not the processes of Government put into effect? Why were not the draftsmen and other officers mobilised so that that power could be exercised in the interests of the people? Why have not other powers been exercised? What attempt has been made to invoke the powers which the Constitutional Review Committee suggested should be used by the Commonwealth in the interests of the people7 None whatever. The Government is stirred into action only when the interests of some rich monopoly are affected.
It might be pertinent to refer to the report of the board of inquiry into the acquisition of land at Mount Eliza by the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission in Victoria. The following appears on page 17 of the report -
It is true, as was submitted on behalf of Mr. Ansett, that it is not a crime to be rich, nevertheless it is wrong that the rich should be able to obtain from a Public Authority treatment which is not open to the less financial members of the community. If it were otherwise, it may well result in different considerations being applied to citizens according to their wealth.
Here we have the greatest authority in the community - the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia - giving treatment to this rich corporation which would not be given to a body or a person of lesser wealth and influence. The real issue here is the Government’s misuse of power. No question has been raised by the Opposition as to the existence of power. We claim that the Government has abused its power at this time, in these circumstances and in the manner in which that power has been invoked.
Senator Sir WILLIAM SPOONER (New South Wales) [5.1]. - I cannot refrain, in entering this debate, from making a passing reference to the importance of civil aviation throughout the world. I do not propose to take any great time to paint my picture. As honorable senators know, I have just returned from abroad after not having been overseas for some years. To me, one of the most interesting things I saw was the tremendous additional capital investment in aircraft and airports and the great increase in the number of air regulations and arrangements for the carriage of passengers and freight and everything that goes with them.
Perhaps I am a little prejudiced, but when looking at all these things overseas I made my contrasts. 1 came to the conclusion that we were handling things in Australia much better than were overseas countries. Our air services and our airport facilities, even though they are not as grand as those overseas, were much more efficient and were better operated than were those that I saw. Our own airline Qantas Empire Airways Ltd. is easily the best international airline in the world. With those kind of feelings of satisfaction at the back of my mind, and believing that what we have done so well in Australia has been very largely the result of the Government’s successful two airline policy, I say that we need to be careful before attempting to interfere overmuch with the existing arrangements.
We are now debating the respective rights and powers of the Commonwealth and the State of New South Wales. I shall not go into questions of law - I leave those to the legal members of the Senate - but the practical situation, which I hope I do not overstate, is that throughout the years in which these successful airline establishments have been set up in Australia, the States have left all the work to the Commonwealth. That perhaps overstates the position a little, but the Commonwealth has provided the funds for the construction of airports; the Commonwealth has subsidised the airlines; the Commonwealth has set up the civil aviation organisation and the Commonwealth has taken all the responsibility. For those reasons I believe that the Commonwealth has the moral right to say what should be done in certain circumstances as they arise.
Two points have emerged in this debate. I propose now to discuss them. The first one is that a State election is coming in New South Wales. Do not let us walk away from the fact that that is one of the principal reasons for the Opposition’s proposing this motion in the Senate this afternoon. The New South Wales Labour Government has made a mess of things. It started off on a completely unfair, illogical and irrational basis by attempting to allocate on a 50/50 basis the freight traffic of certain airlines, which was being shared, because of competition, on a 70/30 basis. As a result, it ran into litigation. It did one thing after another. It got itself into this tangle. It brought down this outrageous legislation in order to attempt to solve the problem. I venture to predict that the next result of the blundering will be that there will be no air services to these country districts in New South Wales, because both of the airlines will be too nervous, too frightened, to buy into litigation and to buy into the savage penalties that are set out in the State legislation.
Whatever tangle occurs, whatever disadvantages occur, whatever might be the inconvenience suffered in the country districts of New South Wales, only one party is responsible for it, and that is the State Government. I read in this morning’s paper that in the State Government’s extremity, the Attorney-General, Mr. Downing, had made overtures to the Labour Party in Canberra to come to its rescue with motions such as this. I do not know whether or not that report is true. I take the report from the newspaper. I read it. I have a very high regard for Mr. Downing personally and for his political acumen. If I were in his place I would be looking for some one to lend me a helping hand to get out of this tangle.
The other point that is to be discussed is this extraordinary obsession of honorable senators opposite against Ansett and Ansett Transport ‘Industries Ltd. This is a psychological condition. There is no logical explanation for it that I can find, and I propose to turn to that matter. In this rather peculiar debate, the Opposition does not take any objection to the policy that the Government has adopted. As I understand it, by and large the Opposition supports the Government in principle, but objects to the method and alleges that favouritism is shown to Ansett. One of the most extraordinary things I have heard in this place was Senator Murphy’s saying that we were supporting the monopoly of Ansett airways. Fancy a member of the Labour Party saying that. The whole policy of the Labour Party is to have a Government monopoly in airlines. What right has the Labour Party to criticise monopolies, if such monopolies exist? None at all. Its whole political objective is to have a government monopoly, to have only a government airline.
For years in this Senate chamber - I speak for myself only - I have been nauseated by the attacks that have been made on Ansett and on Ansett airways. I cannot help trying to sort out the reason. I believe the whole situation is explained by the usual socialistic approach. It is the hymn of hate against a successful man and a successful business. What is the situation here? As a government, we thought that the right thing to do was to have competitive airlines, a government airline and a private enterprise airline. Over and over again we have announced that as our policy, and over and over again we have done things which are aimed at making that policy successful. Every time we have done something and every time some argument has arisen, there has been this hymn of hate from the Opposition against Ansett airways. I listened to Senator Kennelly this afternoon when he recited them all. There was nothing in that list that I had not heard him mention over and over again. There was nothing in that list that had not been taken onto the floor of the Senate and debated, with the point of view that Senator Kennelly advanced thoroughly thrashed, thoroughly defeated. Yet every time he produces this long list of soiled linen and attempts to give it a fresh airing. He attempts to put life into a corpse.
What I object to most of all is that after being beaten in fair debate, after having the pros and cons discussed, he comes back and makes a personal attack upon the bona fides of my colleague, Senator Paltridge. That is one of the meanest things that has been done in this Senate and he ought to be ashamed of himself for doing so. Senator Paltridge, as the responsible Minister in this matter for years, never at any stage did anything but carry out the directions of Cabinet, and Cabinet has always been so careful, whenever there has been an oppor tunity, whenever it was possible, to see that things were done only after independent investigation. Things were done only as a result of some intermediary sorting out the pros and cons and making recommendations. All these things, to the utter discontent of the Opposition, have proved so successful. As a result, we have in Australia today, I believe, the best or one of the best internal airline systems in the world.
The Opposition makes these attacks on Mr. Ansett so personal. I have met Mr. Ansett only four or five times. I do not know him as well as I know senators in this chamber, but I want to state this point of view. It is not only unfair to Mr. Ansett personally. Last night I heard Senator Cohen take up the cudgels for some one who he thought was treated unfairly. I should like to hear him take up the cudgels for Mr. Ansett in view of the way he has been victimised by Senator Kennelly and others in this chamber.
It is not only a case of a personal attack upon Mr. Ansett. Mr. Ansett is the head of an organisation. I obtained the last balance sheet of his company, which shows that he has no fewer than 29,416 shareholders and no fewer than 30,056 other investors in his company, and that the company employs no fewer than 7,638 employees. So when the Opposition attacks this man, what it is doing is attacking some 67,000 Australians who have linked their fortunes with this company, who have invested their savings in it, or who depend upon it for their employment. An attack of that kind is not the spirit in which I understand cricket is played. You do not smear a man, make statements which you are unable to substantiate in debate, and be completely biased and overworked in your approach, because you see the principle of free enterprise successfully installed and operated in a major transport industry in Australia.
The next point I want to make is in regard to the position in New South Wales. Let me amplify it a little. New South Wales - the best State in the Commonwealth, in my view - needs greater encouragement and more airlines than other States because of ite great distances and particular circumstances. In respect of air navigation and in so many other things the New South Wales Government has been so lacking. It does not stepout of the arena and let the Commonwealth do the job, nor does it do the job properly. It has been playing around, standing on its dignity, taking silly little points and causing pinpricking. As a result, those in the airline business in Australia have become undecided and are not going into the business as they should. What an extraordinary thing it is that the New South Wales Government claims that it is protecting New South Wales from the monopoly of the Ansett organisation. I repeat that the great objective of the New South Government, like the former Federal Labour Government, is to have a monopoly for Trans-Australia Airlines as a socialist government airline.
– Hear, hear.
Senator Hendrickson says: “Hear, hear”. That is the Labour Party’s policy. But if the Opposition believes that, it should not criticise others. It should not be afraid to stand up to criticism and competition. Those who hold that belief should be sportsmen when the competition against their monopoly is successful. They should give credit and not throw mud. The Commonwealth Government has been criticised for the way it has gone about this matter. Anybody with any sense of reality would agree that, without doubt, immediately the Commonwealth Government started to do what it thought was right, the New South Wales Government would begin to throw a spanner in the works. I do not think anybody would deny that it would be expected to do so. These are the facts of political life. The New South Wales Government is unpopular. It has to face an election in the near future. It is twisting and turning in every direction to attract a little favorable publicity. This is something we understand. We know the position. We know what the New South Wales Government is doing and we could anticipate it.
When this began, the Prime Minister acted as he always does in such cases because he is a stickler for etiquette. He wrote to the State Premiers and told them what he had in mind to do. According to the normal procedure, in the fullness of time, the State Premiers would write back. In this case there is no doubt that they took the fullness of time; it was a couple of months before they answered the Prime Minister’s letter. But one of the State Premiers, acting according to his own judgment and wisdom, released the contents of the Prime Minister’s letter and so let the cat in among the chickens. The moment the contents were revealed, off went the New South Wales Government at a tangent. In effect, it said to itself: “This is the chance for us. To hell with the paying passengers. To hell with whether we can get good airlines or not. Here is a chance by which, perhaps, we can get the newspapers on our side and win a few votes in New South Wales.” Senator Cavanagh. - And it succeeded.
Seantor Sir WILLIAM SPOONER.- It may succeed until this debate becomes publicised. I am certain that when there is political conflict or argument, the right way to settle it is on the floor of the Parliament where both sides can speak. Then the public can hear what it is all about and make a decision. I have no doubt whatever that any advantage the New South Wales Government might have gained up to this stage will be lost as a result of this debate. The New South Wales Government started to move in and what did the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) do? He is a sensible man. He looked at the tactics of the New South Wales Government and moved in with these amendments to the Air Navigation Regulations.
I have no doubt that, prior to this manoeuvring, the matter would have taken its course and there would have been discussions. One of the most significant things said by the Minister in this debate was his statement that in the discussions he had with the airlines, East-West Airlines Ltd. were given a letter from the Department of Civil Aviation stating that the policy, the intent, the desire and the result of the Department of Civil Aviation’s inquiry would be to stabilise the position of East-West Airlines, make it a profitable airline and put it in a good, sound position. I hope that the people of Tamworth and Dubbo, who probably will lose their air service temporarily, at least, as a result of this fumbling by the New South Wales Government, realise that the purpose of the Department of Civil Aviation in proposing rationalisation was to give a good service and a fair service to those people who live in those country districts. Its purpose was to give a profitable service to the airlines concerned so that we would get the best of both worlds - a good service for the people in the country districts and a reduction of the subsidy that has to be paid to keep the air services going. That is the atmosphere of this matter. There has been an upset as a result of a political contest. Talk in terms of whether the formalities have been properly observed leaves me cold in the circumstances.
We are in a situation where there is agreement on both sides of the chamber that, in general principle, this is a good thing to do and the right way to go about it. The Opposition is critical and is saying in effect that what has been done should not have been done in this way. The Opposition has said that what has been done has been done for the benefit of the Ansett organisation. Both charges do not stand up to examination. 1 do not think anybody will deny that the Department of Civil Aviation is a really expert department. I am proud of the results it gets throughout Australia when I see what has happened in similar fields overseas. Here we have a department which is subsidising the air services.
I do not think I overstate the position when I say that every State Government in Australia leaves the practicalities of these matters to the Department of Civil Aviation. They are able to approach the Department and talk over civil aviation matters. They take the benefit of the expert advice given by the Department of Civil Aviation. Every State except one does that. That is the State which I think is probably the most backward in the Commonwealth in civil aviation. It is the State that is always out to try to create trouble instead of working in conjunction with other Governments. It is the State with the Government that, in these circumstances, is more concerned with its own feelings and its own dignity than it is concerned with giving good service to the people it represents.
– Anyone listening to Senator Sir William Spooner might have been pardoned for thinking he was already on the political hustings participating in the forthcoming State election campaign in New South Wales which actually might take place at any time between now and next May. But I remind the honorable senator that this is a debate in the Parliament of the Commonwealth on the motives of this Government in taking certain actions in relation to Air Navigation Regulations. Until a few months ago, Senator Sir William Spooner was Leader of the Government in this chamber. He said today that we start on the basis that a State election is to be held in the near future in New South Wales and that this perhaps explains the attitude of the New South Wales Labour Government. But I remind the honorable senator that it is not the bona fides of the New South Wales Government that are in question at the moment. What the Opposition is examining is the motives that decided the Commonwealth Government to act as it did.
The New South Wales Government was not alone in raising objections to the manner in which the Commonwealth Government took administrative action in relation to air regulations. The Premiers of Tasmania, Queensland and Victoria have also stated in letters that they object to this sort of action by the Commonwealth. That means that, not only a Labour Premier, but also a Country Party Premier and a Liberal Premier have objected. Although no letter apparently has been received from the Premier of South Australia, it would appear from his statements to the Press that he also opposes the action of the Commonwealth Government.
May I say to Senator Sir William Spooner that the holding of a State election in New South Wales in the near future is perhaps the reason why the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party in that State and the honorable member for Armidale in the New South Wales Parliament have announced that they intend to support the action of the New South Wales Government in this matter. Only last Saturday the Deputy Leader of the Country Party in that State went on record as saying that the action of the Federal authorities became immediately suspect when one took its timing into account. He also said that the Federal Government was placing itself in the position where the man in the street felt that the person who was dictating civil aviation policy in Australia was Mr. Ansett. I emphasise that that was not the statement of any member of the Labour Opposition in this Parliament or of any representative of the Premier of New South Wales. That statement was made by one of the most vehement political opponents of the Premier of New South Wales. Mr. Chaffey also said that the form in which the Commonwealth had introduced the new regulations to control intrastate air ‘operations left the bona fides of the Federal authorities open to question. Again I emphasise that that was said not by any Labour man but by the Deputy Leader of the Country Party in New South Wales.
I have no doubt, and never have had, about the outcome of the forthcoming State election in New South Wales, because of the wonderful record of the Renshaw Labour Government. But the action of the Commonwealth in this dispute puts beyond doubt the prospect of Labour being returned to office in New South Wales with a larger majority than it enjoys at the present time. Senator Sir William Spooner said that the New South Wales Government was twisting and turning on this issue to try to bolster its stocks and to divert attention from some of its misgivings, to use his own term. I suggest that the honorable senator, a man of considerable experience in politics, was adopting the old political gag of trying to divert the attention of the Australian public from the misgivings of this Government, because he knows as well as other honorable senators opposite that it is expected that within the next two months we will be out on the hustings to contest a Senate election.
The honorable senator said that he was nauseated by attacks made by the Labour Opposition on Mr. Ansett and Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. Let me put the record straight. Neither I nor my colleagues attack Mr. Ansett personally, but we do criticise and condemn the apparent favours that have been given to him and his company from time to time by this Government. If, as we and the Deputy Leader of the Country Party in New South Wales suggest, the man in the street is asking what is going on, can we be blamed for asking the same question? I suggest that it is our right and duty to probe these things in parliamentary debate. We have a duty not to remain quiescent about these things. This is a very important issue as far as the people of New South Wales and of Australia generally are concerned. There is no doubt in my mind or in the minds of a vast number of Australians that the motive behind the Government’s action in amending the Air Navigation Regulations when it did so was to protect the vast, wealthy empire of Ansett and to hinder the expansion and development of the only decentralised airline which is operating in Australia.
The simple question to be answered in this debate is this: Was the Federal Government, in taking the action it did take immediately after the Parliament went into recess 14 days ago, acting in the interests of the people of Australia and in particular of the people of New South Wales or was it acting in the interests of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd.? When the facts are examined, there can be no doubt that the Deputy Leader of the Country Party in New South Wales was quite correct when he said that the Commonwealth Government was placing itself in the position where the ordinary man is the street felt that the person who was dictating civil aviation policy in this country was Mr. R. M. Ansett. As I said before, that is why he and the honorable member for Armidale in the New South Wales Parliament have announced that they intend to support the New South Wales Labour Government in this matter.
I again ask: What was the Government’s motive in acting as it did immediately after the Parliament went into recess for approximately 12 days? What was the reason for the timing? Was the Government acting on behalf of the people of New South Wales? Was it acting in the interests of East-West Airlines Ltd., which is the only decentralised airline in Australia, or was it acting in the interests of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd.? They are the questions to be answered in this debate. Let us examine the airline companies concerned. East-West Airlines Ltd. is a private company. Its airline is one of the few independent intrastate airlines that are operating in Australia.
– It took you up to Dubbo the other day free.
Scentor MCCLELLAND. - Certainly it took me to Dubbo, and I enjoyed the trip very much. I am sure the Minister would be interested to know what was the reaction of the people in Dubbo.
– I read what the Mayor said.
– You read what the Press said and what the Liberal member for Dubbo in the New South Wales Parliament said. I have read what the Deputy Leader of the Country Party in New
South Wales has said. We will see what the reaction of the people at Dubbo will be when the Senate election is held and when the State election is held between now and next May. East-West Airlines Ltd. is a proprietary company.
– lt is not a proprietary company.
– It is a public company.
– It has remained a proprietary company because if its shares were offered to the public, it could be captured by the Ansett group in exactly the same way that Butler Air Transport Ltd. in New South Wales was captured some time ago. The headquarters of East-West Airlines is in Tamworth. As I have already said, it is the only decentralised air transport company operating in Australia. It suffers, and it has suffered for some time, because it operates on only 30 per cent, of the air routes in New South Wales. Airlines of New South Wales Pty. Ltd., its monopoly competitor - if I may borrow the expression of the Minister for Civil Aviation - is a subsidiary of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. That airline operates on 70 per cent, of the air routes within New South Wales.
– How did it acquire that 70 per cent.?
– You can have your say later, senator. I am simply telling you the situation at the present time. Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. is one of the largest transport empires - if not the largest - in the southern hemisphere. The chairman and managing director of that company is Mr. R. M. Ansett. As late as September 1963 this empire consisted of the following: Ansett-A.N.A., Victorian Air Coach Services Ltd., Pioneer Tourist Coaches Pty. Ltd., Airlines of New South Wales Ltd., Ansett Flying Boat Services Pty. Ltd., Airlines of South Australia Ry. Ltd., AnsettM.A.L. of New Guinea, 49 per cent, of Airlines of New Zealand Ltd., and 15 per cent, of Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., which is based at Hongkong. I understand that Airlines of South Australia Pty. Ltd. is a subsidiary of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd., but I may be wrong in that particular. Last year Ansett Transport Industries acquired control of MacRobertson
Miller Airlines Ltd. in Western Australia. It also bought out the interests of the MacRobertson confectionery organisation in Melbourne and acquired some of the Miller holdings. Ansett Transport Industries also conducts about 20 hotels, motels and holiday resorts, including the well known resort at Hayman Island, in Queensland.
– Is there anything wrong with that?
– I am merely explaining the vast empire of Ansett at this stage. On the recommendation of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board last year the Government gave to Austarama Television Pty. Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Ansett Transport Industries, a licence to operate Channel 0, the third commercial television station in Melbourne. That station is now operating. I am informed that Mr. Ansett is contemplating venturing into the newspaper field in Melbourne.
As one of the two big airline operators, Ansett competes with T.A.A. within the framework of the Airlines Agreement Act, which has now been extended to 1977. That Act rationalises competition between the two airlines. It provides for equal shares in mail contracts, equal bookings of Government personnel, as far as possible, and arrangements for financial guarantees for the purchase of aircraft. When one considers the enormous interests of Ansett, it seems that the chairman of directors of East-West Airlines Ltd. - the only decentralised airline operating in Australia - might fairly ask himself: “What has Mr. Ansett got that I have not got? “ There can be no doubt, as Senator Kennelly has said, that in April 1960 Ansett tried to acquire East-West Airlines. At that time he offered £2 16s. for each £1 share in that company. The offer was rejected. But that was 4± years ago and it is significant that at the height of the take-over negotiations in April 1960, this Government, if it had been interested in maintaining the two airline system of intrastate operations which existed at that time, could have invoked its regulating powers in the interests of East-West Airlines, or in the interests of the people of New South Wales.
My friend Senator Murphy has referred to the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review. The negotiations to take over EastWest Airlines occurred shortly after that
Committee had presented its report to Parliament. For the benefit of the record, may I briefly relate the history of the dispute since that time? In 1961 the New South Wales Government decided upon a plan for the re-allocation of intrastate licences, after the failure of the take-over negotiations. The New South Wales Government gave Airlines of New South Wales 24 days, I think, to hand over to East-West Airlines the first of a series of routes that the Government named at the time, under the powers of the State Transport (Co-ordination) Act. Airlines of New South Wales challenged the validity of that Act and the Full High Court rejected the challenge. Last July the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council refused leave to appeal against the decision of the High Court. The New South Wales Government decided to go ahead with the reallocation of air routes. It is interesting to observe, after all the litigation that has taken place, that the Minister for Civil Aviation agrees as he did in this chamber last Tuesday and again today - that a reallocation of air routes within New South Wales is necessary.
It is also interesting to observe that it was the Premier of South Australia who, on 19th August, first announced to the people of Australia the Commonwealth’s intentions in respect of aviation. He stated that he had received a letter from the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). We all know about that letter now, but it was not until six days later that the Prime Minister confirmed that the Federal Government was considering taking control of aviation. Government supporters say that they believe in a two airline policy on interstate routes, but they seem to encourage a monopoly on intrastate routes. I think the Minister for Civil Aviation admitted that this is the situation in New South Wales today, where Airlines of New South Wales has 70 per cent, of the air routes and East-West Airlines only 30 per cent. If East-West Airlines had been swallowed 41/2 years ago, or if by some unforeseen circumstance in the future it is swallowed by Ansett Transport Industries, as Senator Kennelly has pointed out, all the feeder services to the main airline channels would be virtually in the hands of one major interstate operator. The former member for New England, Mr. Drummond, said in another place on 24th
October 1961 during the debate on the Airlines Agreements Bill -
So far as my knowledge carries me - and I think it is correct - Trans-Australia Airlines has no power to acquire subsidiary airlines, while Ansett-A.N-A. has been swallowing up smaller airlines at very considerable speed. Without naming them all, I mention the Mandated airlines and Butler Air Transport Ltd., now known as Airlines of New South Wales. Pty. Ltd. They are both subsidiaries of Ansett-A.N.A.
I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– by leave - Mr. President, I make a statement to the Senate concerning Senate elections on behalf of the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen). Honorable senators will be aware that to satisfy the provisions of the Constitution, elections for the Senate must have been conducted and completed by 30th June next, so that newly elected senators may commence their term of service on 1st July 1965.
On the recommendation of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) on behalf of the Government, His Excellency the Governor-General has proposed to the State Governors an election timetable. Each State has agreed to the timetable proposed, and accordingly I announce to the House that elections for the Senate will be held in all States on Saturday, 5th December. It is necessary for this announcement to be made to the Senate at this time since the law of some States requires formal action in those States within the next few days in order to give effect to the timetable in mind.
The full timetable is as follows - Issue of writs, Monday, 26th October 1964; Nominations close, Monday, 9th November 1964; polling, Saturday, 5th December 1964; Return of writs, on or before Saturday, 23rd January 1965.
– Mr. President, before the sitting was suspended, I was relating my remarks to the importance of these intrastate operations to the main trunk routes, and to the profitability as far as the main trunk routes are concerned of these intrastate operations. I was referring the Senate to what the former member for New England, Mr. Drummond, said on this subject on 24th October 1961 in another place. At the risk of being repetitive, and for the purpose of sequence, 1 repeat what Mr. Drummond said on that occasion -
So far as my knowledge carries me - and I think ii is correct - Trans-Australia Airlines has no power to acquire subsidiary airlines, while Ansett-A.N.A. has been swallowing up smaller airlines at very considerable speed. Without naming them all, I mention the Mandated airlines and Butler Air Transport Ltd. now known as Airlines of New South Wales Proprietary Limited. They are both subsidiaries of Ansett-A.N.A. When I returned from Europe in May 1960, I was informed by a Sydney businessman that Ansett-A.N.A. had no less than five canvassers out in the territory of East- West Airlines Ltd. with a view to swallowing that delectable prize, top.
J remind honorable senators on the Government side that these were the remarks of the former Country Party member for New England. Mr. Drummond went on to say -
In the last week that was available to mc on my return, 1 took the opportunity to say -
If all the subsidiary lines are cut out, then the lifestream that flows into T.A.A. and enables its growth is also cut. That is a most dangerous situation, and it is a bad situation when it threatens to destroy an independent private company which, so far as I know, is the only decentralised airline in Australia. lt is an airline that has its head-quarters and workshops, and its main employees all in a town far removed from the danger of attack on our coast during war.
The honorable member for New England at the time added -
It is as plain as a pikestaff to me, with some knowledge of business, that if the present trend continues unchecked, T.A.A., in which the nation has a very big stake, will be at the mercy, very largely, of a private combination against which, at present, it is not operating on just terms to itself.
He said -
I have not altered my opinion in the slightest since then. 1 suggest to the Senate that there can be no doubt at all that the motive for the Government’s action on this occasion is to protect the vast and wealthy empire of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. It is indeed significant that in the days immediately preceding the announcement that these regulations would be issued, Mr. Ansett himself was in Canberra, on the admission of the Minister for Civil Aviation himself in this chamber last Tuesday, conferring with Ministers of the Crown. Indeed, from a statement made by Senator Marriott, it would appear that Mr. Ansett was in Canberra on the very day when these things were being considered.
– Who said I said he .was conferring with Ministers?
– I understood it from your reply.
– You may have understood that, but 1 did not say it.
– On 13th October, Senator Marriott asked a question of the Minister for Civil Aviation, as follows -
I address a further question to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Is it not a fact that on the clay on which Mr. r. m. Ansett visited Parliament House and discussions were proceeding in regard to licences for intrastate air services a top executive of Trans-Australia Airlines also was in Parliament House?
Senator Henty replied ;
I think the honorable senator has supplied his own answer.
I suggest to the Senate that the inference to be drawn from those remarks is that discussions were proceeding between certain Ministers and Mr. Ansett.
– You can draw your own conclusion; that was not said.
– In any event, there can be no doubt that Mr. Ansett was here. I think it is a fair inference to draw that Mr. Ansett would have known what was being contemplated at that time. I am sure that had the Chairman of Directors of East-West Airlines been told about this matter at that time we certainly would have been so informed.
This brings me to a statement made by the present Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Paltridge) who was the former Minister for Civil Aviation. In some explanatory notes prepared in connection with a debate that took place in this chamber in October 1961, and when setting out details in those explanatory notes of the proposed take over at that time of East-West Airlines by Ansett-A.N.A., the Minister had this to say -
The next development occurred in March of 1960 when the New’ South Wales Government announced its intention to make a review of airline operations in that State. According to Press reports, this review followed representations by East-West Airlines to the Government of New South Wales.
The Minister went on to say - 1 should make these points -
The first point he made was -
If East-West Airlines did make these approaches to the New South Wales Government they failed to tell me as the responsible Civil Aviation Minister that they intended to do so, which I think was a serious omission in the light of my financial and policy responsibilities for rural air services in New South Wales.
The bringing down, or the contemplated bringing down a fortnight ago, of these regulations vitally affected rural air services in New South Wales.
– If the Minister has not been listening to this debate-
– The rural air services are still running.
– Your former leader has suggested that as a result of political activities that are going on because these regulations have been brought down, air services could be disrupted in the rural areas of New South Wales. I suggest that this was a matter of very great importance to rural air services in New South Wales, and that it was only fair, if one operator knew about what was intended at the time, that the other should have been appraised of it also.
I have already cited the major business connections of Mr. Ansett. Those that I have mentioned do not cover all the activities with which he is connected, but they are the major ones. It is obvious that he is a man of substance, and I suggest that he is a man of influence. On anyone’s standard, he is certainly a man of affluence. He could well be described as a man who is involved in big business. Because this Government administers the affairs of this nation in the interests of big business, and not in the interests of the ordinary men and women in the community, I suggest it is fair to assume that the decision of the Government to bring down these regulations was taken, if not at the request of Mr. R. M. Ansett, then certainly in concert with him.
In conclusion, I ask: Is it any wonder that the people of New South Wales are concerned about this matter? Is it any wonder that East-West Airlines is concerned about it? Is it any wonder that every State Premier has expressed consternation? One must remember how Mr. Ansett acquired an interest in Butler Air Transport Ltd. To refresh the recollection of honorable senators, I refer to an article that appeared in the “ Bulletin “ - which certainly could not be described as a Labour Journal - on 7th September 1963. In a very long article, at page 17 of that issue of the “Bulletin” the following statement was made in connection with Ansett’s acquisition of Butler Air Transport -
Then, in the public eye, he became a new giant crushing Butler Air Transport, another “little” line.
Butler Air Transport Ltd., with former N.S.W. Governor Sir John Northcott as chairman at the finish, was founded in 1934, and with a subsidiary, Queensland Airlines, covered a wide area in N.S.W., Vic, S.A. and Qld.
A.N.A. fostered Butler so long as the junior line kept off the interstate routes. But Butler bought two jet-prop Viscounts, despite a warning by D.C.A. that it would not be allowed to use them intra-State. Unable to shift the D.C.A. on this, Butler began to use planes between Sydney and Melbourne.
A.N.A. could not suppress this. It did not have a big enough holding to control Butler which did not allow one vote to each share, but had a sliding scale which diminished A.N.A.’s influence. Butler also issued 100,000 £1 shares to employees. These were issued at ls. with quarterly calls of Id., but carried the same rights as fully paid £t shares.
A.N.A. was still in litigation over this when it sold out. A.T.I, took over the battle for control, to kick Butler off interstate services. In this Ansett was supported by the Federal Government - which had been implementing a Two Airlines policy with A.N.A. and T.A.A. since 1952, under the Civil Aviation Agreement Act.
The most spectacular part of the Ansett attack was to fly hundreds of supporters from Melbourne to carry the vote at meetings in the Buller hangar at Mascot. The sight of Ansett moving his troops’ hands, up and down, according to his signalled orders, has yet to be matched in high finance tragicomedy.
In the wash-up of this complicated struggle, A.T.I, got control, paying double market price to Butler shareholders. C. A. Butler himself took a top job with A.T.I, but then left, with compensation.
Ansett refers to the Butler struggle as “ the sternest of my life “. He knows that he came out of it badly in the public eye, but can’t see what else could have been done, in view of his purchase of A.N.A., the Federal Government’s policy, and his own need to “ protect his flank “ against Butler as an interstate operator.
As Butler Air Transport failed, so do I suggest that Ansett would like to see EastWest airlines fail. It is beyond doubt that this
Government is assisting this man of substance to preserve, if not to expand, his wealthy and vast empire. I suggest that by the regulations the Government has introduced, it has shown that it is functioning in the interests of one man and one company, against the interests of the people of New South Wales and the people of Australia generally, and against the interests of the only decentralised airline in Australia. For these reasons I say that the regulation should be disallowed by the Senate.
– The last time I rose in the Senate to speak on a motion for the disallowance of regulations was, if my memory serves me correctly, when the proposal before the Senate was for the disallowance of regulations to validate the payment of £100 million to the defence forces. On that occasion 1 voted with the Opposition for the disallowance of the regulations. Subsequently an act of Parliament was passed to validate the allowance that had been paid. On this occasionI want to make it quite clear at the outset that I do not intend to vote for the disallowance of these regulations, because I think that the Commonwealth Government has acted in a way that all Australians would wish it to act. The only exceptions would be, perhaps, those who arc actively interested financially in what is going on and those who are anxious to drive a wedge between the parties holding office in the Commonwealth Parliament, and also between the parties which we hope will form a coalition Government in New South Wales in the near future - the Liberal and Country Parties.
What justification did the Commonwealth Government have for deciding to take over the control of intrastate services? I do not profess to have any legal knowledge, but I know that the Commonwealth Government is of the opinion that it has sufficient power under acts already in existence to undertake the action that it has commenced. I know that it was argued this afternoon, and that it will be argued later during the course of this debate, that the Commonwealth does not have that power. That is the bread and butter line of our legal friends, and far be it from me to deny them the opportunity to get up here and state their views. I am looking at this matter from a layman’s point of view. A little later I shall deal with the aspect of the sovereign rights of the States. In a comparatively short time the Commonwealth has spent £60 million on intrastate airlines - the provision of aerodromes and so on - in Australia. That in itself only bears out something that is recognised by many people in Australia, that if you receive Government assistance, whether it is Commonwealth or State, in the affairs in which you are interested, sooner or later you have to concede to that Government some say in the conduct of those affairs. If that lesson has not been learned by this time, all I say is that some people are very slow to learn. The Government has spent £60 million on air services in the Commonwealth and is at present spending at the rate of £121/2 million per annum. Is it any wonder that up to this point of time the States have sat back and said, in effect: “This is pretty good. We have not got to spend any money on the upkeep of the aerodromes. All we have to do is to allow the Commonwealth Government to carry out this work and pay the bill.”
Let us take an extreme case as an example. Suppose that a State Government decided to license a particular airline to fly a certain type of aircraft on to a certain aerodrome, and that the aerodrome was not designed for such an aircraft. It might be too fast or be too heavy.
– That could not happen.
– It could happen. The State Government would not have to worry about maintenance of the aerodrome or damage done to it by that aircraft because the Commonwealth Government would have to carry out the repairs. That is an extreme case, but it is possible. We have to remember that the cost of maintenance of aerodromes at the present time amounts to over £4 million a year. Some of these matters were referred to in the letter sent by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) to the State Premiers. In discussing the postwar period the Prime Minister said -
In the immediate postwar period, it- meaning the Commonwealth Government -
. secured from United Stales disposals, large numbers of DC3 aircraft, which at the time formed the backbone of the air services.
I think that I should pause here for a moment to pay tribute to this wonderful
DC3 aircraft. While it is outmoded compared with present day aircraft, it is still a very good aircraft. The Prime Minister went on to say -
Later, it arranged for DC3’s to be sold by the R.A.A.F. to the airlines at very low prices, and also for Fokker Friendships to be sold by T.A.A. to East-West Airlines and MacRobertson Miller Airlines on most favourable terms.
Those are the facts. In the next paragraph the Prime Minister said -
Next, the Commonwealth has more than £60 million invested in facilities for international and domestic air services.
That statement confirms what 1 have already said. He went on to say -
In addition, the Commonwealth has provided the Government-owned airlines with something like £25 million in capital for the provision of modern jet aircraft and ground facilities. On the maintenance side, the cost for the whole Australian network in 1937 was only £123,000 whereas the comparable figure for 1963-64 was £12.5 million, which included £4.3 million for the intrastate network.
He said further -
There is at present a five year airport development programme, estimated to cost £30 million proceeding in all States, and last year alone £6. million was spent on airport and airways capital facilities. In addition to this, the Commonwealth made a direct contribution of £470,000 to development and maintenance of municipally owned aerodromes; the figure is expected to be £600,000 in 1964-65.
In the face of those facts, who can deny that the Commonwealth has a strong right to say that it should control all civil aviation, so far as it affects intrastate services?
I want to refer to the views of Captain G. F. Hughes, who is President of the Aero Club of New South Wales. These views were not his alone; they were supported by evidence given by other witnesses at an inquiry that was held into this matter. He said -
The very nature of aircraft and their uses, and the nature of the regulations required, make utterly impracticable, in my opinion, a control by the Commonwealth, the effectiveness of .which would only arise contingently on a particular class of journey being undertaken. Where could one draw the line and decide where Commonwealth regulations began to operate? Such ari arrangement would, in my view, be hazardous in the extreme, and a menace to all classes of aerial navigation . . .
He said further -
There is absolutely no other industry or means of locomotion in which control necessitates supervision of the product from the drawing board through all the processes of manufacture to the finished article, and then throughout the life of the machine. There is no means of travel which is so unrestricted by physical boundaries.
Surely that is evidence which shows that the Commonwealth has done the right thing in acting as it has. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) mentioned today in the course of his speech opinions which have buttressed the ideas of the Commonwealth Government on this matter. He referred to the judgments of Sir Owen Dixon and of Mr. Justice Windeyer.
I want to refer to the reasons why the Commonwealth should have power over civil aviation. If these reasons have been mentioned before, I do not apologise for reiterating them because I think they are of prime importance. The decision to amend the Air Navigation Regulations was made with the following objectives: First, to ensure the unified and co-ordinated regulation of air safety in all fields of air navigation including international, interstate, intrastate and territorial operations and operations of Commonwealth aircraft including military aircraft; secondly, the orderly development of civil aviation and associated facilities with due regard to national priorities; thirdly, the coordination of large and different financial, technical and operational programmes; fourthly, the planned expenditure of Commonwealth moneys on the growth of developmental and rural services; and fifthly, the regulation of competitive and . non-competitive routes to achieve maximum use of resources including aircraft utilisation.
I know that members of the Opposition agree with all these things, but object to the manner in which they have been done. After all, if you have a good cake, surely you do not object because it was cooked on a fuel stove instead of on a gas stove. As long as it is a good cake, what is the difference?
– You are a good Socialist.
– I am not a
Socialist, and God forbid that ohe day will ever come when somebody other than yourself alleges that I am. In 1937, in the intrastate field something like 12,000 miles were covered by aircraft and 16,554 passengers were carried. In 1963 there were 43,644 miles covered and 1 million passengers carried. Here is evidence of the growth of our intrastate air services. As wc know, they are growing all the time. New routes are being opened up. We arc fortunate in Australia in having good flying conditions. We are regarded as second to none in the world in air safety precautions. I, too, want to pay a tribute to the Leader of the Government in the Senate for the part that he has played in regard to that important aspect of civil aviation. In 1963-64 the subsidy for the development of essential rural services amounted to something like £440,000, That is only one sphere of operations. In addition, £470,000 was spent on the development and maintenance of municipally owned aerodromes.. These too have been very important in opening up our hinterland. Today one thinks with horror of the time it used to take to travel long distances. When one can leave, say, Alice Springs in the morning, fly via Adelaide and have an evening meal in Sydney, one realises that distances indeed have been shortened. No so long ago it would have taken days to make that trip. I have mentioned that as an example of the developments that have taken place in the speed and safety of air travel.
I said earlier that I would deal with the question of the sovereignty of the States. This is a States House, and while I am here 1 will always endeavour to be a champion of State rights. I have had the feeling for very many years that the States took a long step towards abrogating their rights when they decided to allow the Commonwealth to continue administering the system of uniform taxation which had been introduced justifiably as a wartime measure. Surely among the statesmen scattered throughout our States there must have been some - indeed, I know of some - who realised that in allowing the system of uniform taxation to remain the States were giving up their right to levy taxes and so were curtailing their sovereign rights. This has proved to be the case. I regret the trend in this regard but I think it is inevitable.
The matter that the Senate is now discussing is another illustration of this trend, but I cannot see any alternative to what the Commonwealth has done. If the States are to regain some of the sovereign rights that they have lost, their first duty, provided they arc prepared to put up with all the ills and troubles that will follow, is to revert to their own systems of taxation. Honorable senators will remember that we have seen concrete evidence within the last fortnight of the way in which the public regards this. One State Premier announced that he would like to re-introduce State taxes and he rereceived a very sharp rebuff from the people. That bears out what I have said. However, if the States want the sovereignty they should have they must try to regain their taxing rights. After all, if you hand over to somebody the responsibility of providing finance for you, you must hand over also the right to decide how that finance is to be allocated.
I want to turn now to the more personal aspect of the matter that we are now discussing - its effect on those of us who live in New South Wales. First of all, as has been mentioned by several honorable senators, Buller Air Transport Ltd. did a marvellous job in providing air services in New South Wales that previously had not been available. It is a matter for very great regret to many of us living in the areas served by Butler Air Transport that the company had to go by the board. Although Butler himself was a very fine airman, apparently the weakness in his organisation lay in the fact that he had to rely on others to look after the financial side of the business. But they were not as good businessmen as he was an airman. Consequently, he had to fold up, although the fault could not be laid at anyone’s door. He was the pioneer of air travel in New South Wales and we owe a very great debt of gratitude to him.
Following the taking over of Butler Air Transport by the company that came to be known as Airlines of New South Wales Pty. Ltd., the existing services were maintained and new services were commenced. That company also has done a very good job. I lived in the vicinity of Dubbo for some 50 years and travelled very extensively by Butler Air Transport and then by Airlines of New South Wales. Many Dubbo people would not admit this, but, as I have always told them,, they have received outstanding service, particularly as the area served is very large.
I do not know the exact number of people who would be served by the airline putting down at Dubbo, but at the very least it would be between 30,000 and 40,000. Do not forget that apart from Dubbo itself, which has a population of about 14,000, there’ are Narromine, which has a population of between 3,000 and 4,000, and Gilgandra, which has a similar population. There are also Trangie and Warren. Until the service to Orange was commenced, and indeed to some extent still, the Dubbo airport served the town of Wellington, which has a population of between 5,000 and 6,000. I shall have more to say about that later. This is the area that was served by Airlines of New South Wales until the State Government decided, willy-nilly, that it would reallocate airline routes in New South Wales.
– Do not say willynilly.
– It was done willynilly. 1 have travelled pretty extensively with East-West Airlines, which also has provided a good service with the facilities at ils disposal, but it has been handicapped in the past because, in comparison with Airlines of New South Wales, it is only a small company. It has been serving the Tamworth-Armidale area very well. Lack of capital is one of the reasons why it has not been able to serve it even better.
It was said tonight - this is only one of the many inaccuracies stated by Opposition members - that East-West Airlines is not a public company, lt is a public company with some 600 shareholders. The honorable senator who made that statement erred when he claimed that East-West Airlines is not a public company. It did not go on the Stock Exchange because its administrators felt that if it had done so it could have been taken over by another airline such as Ansett-A.N.A. ) am one of those who believe that it is absolutely essential for New South Wales, and for the decentralisation policy which my party espouses, that East- West Airlines not only should be kept in existence but also that it should be allowed to expand on a profitable basis. That the Minister today undertook to do. I am sure that he will honour that undertaking. If only the New South Wales Government had had the sense to keep out of this brawl the whole thing could have been settled between Ansett and the manager of East-West Airlines in 48 hours. They are both reasonable mcn. They both realise that there must be give and take, and they are both prepared to give and take. But the stupid New South Wales Government, seeing an opportunity to gain political advantage, came into the dispute and, to use the phrase that has been used already, stirred up the muddy waters, to the detriment of New South Wales and particularly of the areas that I have mentioned - Dubbo. Tamworth and so on. What will happen in the Dubbo area? I cannot see Ansett providing an airline service to that centre with the threat of fines hanging over his head. That is enough to break any airline.
– That is part of the fight.
– Of course it is part of the fight. The New South Wales Government does not care two hoots about the people in that area so long as it can get some political advantage out of this fight. What will happen to the 30,000 people who may well be deprived pf any air service if the New South Wales Government refuses to give a licence to Airlines of New South Wales? On the other hand, we have the State Government saying to Ansett: “You go in there and we will fine you £20,000 per trip.” So there you are. I happen to come from those areas. I have lived there for a long while, and the majority of the people are as reasonable and intelligent as you will find anywhere. They will know where the fault lies and whose fault it is if they are deprived of these air services. I sincerely hope they will not be. They will know where to apportion the blame and to act accordingly when they get an opportunity, which will probably be, first, at the Senate elections and then at the State elections in March of next year.
There is another aspect. Under this proposed reallocation we bad the town of Mudgee in that area, with some 5,000 to 6,000 people, being served by Airlines of New South Wales. The policy was that Airlines of New South Wales would fly a morning service daily via Mudgee to Dubbo and then to Sydney. Under the proposal by the New South Wales Government, EastWest Airlines would fly to Dubbo, forgetting about poor old Mudgee. If the Mudgee people will be amused about that, I shall be very surprised. I hope that they will take the opportunity, which they will get probably in March or April next year, to turn the present State Labour representative lor Mudgee out and put a Country Parly man in in his stead. The same thing will apply at Dubbo. The electorate of the Premier of New South Wales takes in Gilgandra, a town of some 3,000 to 4,000 people about 40 miles from Dubbo, the airport of which is Dubbo. Knowing the Gilgandra people as I do, if they do not take the opportunity to give Jack Renshaw a kick in the pants on that occasion, 1 shall be very disappointed.
I think I should say before going any further that I have met Mr. Ansett and I have met Mr. Shand. I am no particular friend of either of them. 1 travel with Airlines of New South Wales when that service suits me. I travel with Ansett-A.N.A. when it suits me, and I travel with T.A.A. when it suits me.I am a firm believer in the two airline service such as we have over the Commonwealth of Australia. It has been proved; there is no question about that I think that Mr. Ansett has shown over the years that he is a very shrewd businessman, and perhaps a pretty hard bargainer. He would not be where he is if he were not. There is no crime about that. My view - this is my view only; I am not suggesting that it is the view of the Government - is that Mr. Ansett endeavoured to buy EastWest Airlines as he did Butler Air Transport Ltd. He did not succeed. East-West Airlines was suffering at that time from lack of finance. Mr. Ansett at that time probably thought with good reason: “If you do not accept my offer now, you will be glad to accept my offer, or probably a lower one, later.” It was a business deal. So much for Mr. Ansett.
Now I turn to Mr. Shand. He, of course, has been all for this suggested reallocation of routes which was so favorable to him - naturally. I wonder whether Mr. Shand, if he had been holding 70 per cent, of the airline routes of New South Wales, would have been satisfied with having 19 per cent, ripped off him and given to Ansett. I do not think that he would. We have been told by some ill informed people that all the shareholders of East- West Airlines are wealthy graziers. In the minds of most people, anybody who is a grazier today is wealthy. I happen to know some of the shareholders and some of the directors of East-West
Airlines. They are by no means wealthy,I can assure you. So much for those furphies. It is inevitable, I suppose, that they get about from time to time.
Let us look at what has been given to these airlines in direct financial assistance. East-West Airlines - I do not begrudge it this assistance at all; as a matter of fact, I am very glad indeed to see the airline have it - over the past five years has had some £140,000 to £150,000 by way of subsidies. This has enabled the airline to carry on; otherwise it would not have been able to do it. I give full credit to the Commonwealth Government for making these subsidies available. Last year, I think, about £26,000 was paid to this airline.
Over the same five year period, Airlines of New South Wales received about £200,000. The reason for the difference between the amounts paid by way of subsidy to East-West Airlines and to Airlines of New South Wales is that Airlines of New South Wales has had a greater mileage. Last year it was paid about £29,000, not much more than East-West Airlines. EastWest Airlines, in the beginning, was assisted by a DC3 aircraft from the Royal Australian Air Force. First, it had the aircraft on a low rental basis. The aircraft was then sold to the airline at a very low price. Surely if the Commonwealth Government wanted to stulify this airline that step at the very beginning would not have been made. In addition, a DC3 aircraft was made available on hire purchase from T.A.A. and there was also a Fokker Friendship aircraft from T.A.A. Here was an opportunity, if the Government wanted it, if it was the ogre that the Opposition describes it as being, to say to East-West Airlines: “ No planes are available.” This company would not have been able to exist.
In addition to the planes that have been made available to East-West Airlines, Tamworth has a very fine aerodrome indeed. It is well situated on high ground, with plenty of room. About £330,000 has been spent on it. 1 would not know, but that seems a lot of money. It has certainly made a very good aerodrome. About £43,000 per annum has been spent on it to keep it in good order.
– By whom?
– By the Commonwealth Government. When we consider these things we come back to the assumption - and it is a correct one - that this is only a political move by the New South Wales Government, not in the interests of the taxpayers of the State, not in the interests of the taxpayers of Australia, not in the interests of the air users of these areas, because they will be penalised. That is as plain as the nose on your face. If the New South Wales Government had only the sense to realise the fact, it would know that it cannot beat the Commonwealth. Even if it did have temporary success - I do not think it will - sooner or later legislation will be passed here that will give the Commonwealth Government the powers, even if it has not them now, to do what it feels it should do and what it will do. So this is plain foolishness, and I could use stronger language if I were not in this place. 1 said earlier that 1 was one of those people who wanted to see East-West Airlines expand and become profitable. It would bc easy for me to sit here tonight and say nothing, but I am not a fence sitter because it goes against my grain. I have stuck my head out before, it has not helped me as an individual but at least it gives me a certain sense of satisfaction. That is the reason why I am speaking here tonight. I am not going, to endear myself to East-West supporters, I will not endear myself to Ansett, but I feel that at least I have a duty as a senator from New South Wales to stand in my place and say what I think should bc done in this matter, and that is why I am speaking as I am.
The principle in itself is wrong. I said that I wanted to see East-West Airlines expand. I do, but I do not want to see it expand by the methods that the New South Wales Government set about using, ripping routes off an airline that had spent money and devoted time and a lot of thought in developing a service. The intention was to rip these routes off this airline overnight without a by your leave or anything else. If we have it in respect of airlines, we shall have it in respect of banks and every other thing about the place. It is time that somebody took a stand on it.
I think it was mentioned by one speaker earlier tonight that the idea seems to have got about that Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. is controlled by Reg. Ansett and a few wealthy individuals - an oil company and what have you - but it is pointed out that there are some 29,000 shareholders and 30,000 investors in addition in the company. So that gives the lie to that statement.
Let us consider what Senator McClelland said. I think he said that we could not question the bona fides of the New South Wales Government in acting as it did. I know Senator McClelland too well to imagine that he believes that and I will say no more on that point. Senator McClelland also said in effect that there was no doubt that at the next election the New South Wales Government would benefit by the decisions it has taken. I recall Senator McClelland being in the Dubbo-Gilgandra area during the last Federal election campaign and he was given the job by the Australian Labour Party of looking after the Lawson electorate. He was put on record as saying that no doubt Lawson would go to the A.L.P. I feel that the forecast Senator McClelland made then was about as accurate as the one he made tonight. I have known that area for a long time and I knew the fallacy of his forecast when he made it because I was chairman of an electorate council in Lawson for a number of years.
Senator McClelland also referred to what had been said by the dreadful Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party in New South Wales. I refer the honorable senator to the fact that the Deputy Leader of the Country Party in New South Wales, Mr. Chaffey, in common with Mr. Davis Hughes who is the State member for Armidale, did vote with the New South Wales Government on this matter but he said in the course of the debate thai they would be voting against some of the clauses of the Bill. Mr. Chaffey comes from Tamworth and after all I suppose one of the first duties of any member of Parliament is to hold his seat. Would not people around there, many of whom are airline shareholders, say to him: “If you do not stick up for us you have had it “? I do not think that was his only motive.
– I thought you said the public were with the Commonwealth.
– They are, but they are not all living in one or two centres. They are all over Australia.
– They are not all at Tamworth.
– No. They are not all at Tamworth or Armidale. Just because a statement was made by the Deputy Leader of the Country Party, it does not mean that that was the view of the Party. I want to refer to a statement that was made by Mr. C. B. Cutler, the Leader of the New South Wales Parliamentary Country Party on 31st October 1961. He said then -
The Country Party believes:
The development of New South Wales’ Air Transport Services can best be achieved by the continued operation of two intrastate air services.
East-West Airlines should be assisted to continue operations as an economic decentralised industry by:
Rationalisation on a sound basis of existing air services by the Slate in consultation with the Commonwealth Government and the two airlines concerned:
The granting of licences to new centres and the subsidisation of desirable but uneconomic services:
The Commonwealth Government has acted wisely in assisting in the establishment of the two intrastate airlines by way of assistance with aircraft acquisition and subsidy on running of uneconomic services and that such assistance should continue on the principles previously existing.
That the State Government should have Approached any rationalisation plan by calling together the parlies concerned and in conference with the Federal authorities have determined a formula for air routes which would have insured the continuance of East-West Airlines but would not have constituted an arbitrary threat to free enterprise undertakings in this State.
– Why did that not happen?
– You ask Renshaw. The statement continues -
The present decisions can only be interpreted in this light in view of the fact that no consultations were held with Airlines of N.S.W. nor docs it appear that their co-operation and concurrence was sought.
Finally if the present proposals are persisted with then it is the complete and absolute responsibility of the State Government to ensure that both East-West Airlines and Airlines of N.S.W.:
Maintain at least present services on all existing air routes from the point of view of frequency, suitability of times and passenger convenience:
That air fares shall not be raised without Government consent and that such undertakings be an essential and binding part of any agreement entered into with the two Airways.
That is what was said on behalf of this dreadful Country Party of New South Wales. Any comment? No. There is not because this is common sense and that is what should be done.
– We do not disagree with that.
– Of course you do not; but because one or two members have made statements, you claim that they represent the policy of the Country Party in New South Wales. This often happens. You are only a thousand miles from the truth.
– The Commonwealth Government precipitated the crisis.
– This Government did nothing of the sort. It was precipitated by an unfair allocation of airline routes by the New South Wales Government. Then the judgment was handed down and as a result of that judgment the Commonwealth Government decided that in view of the money that had been spent on aerodromes throughout Australia, it was up to the Commonwealth to put into operation the powers that exist. In the long run, this will help the States too. There is no question about that. Is it any wonder that we feel that the Opposition, for once at any rate, is not sincere in moving that the Air Navigation Regulations should be disallowed?
I, for one, hope sincerely that the people in the areas concerned are not going to be inconvenienced to the extent that they could be. If they are, they will certainly know whom to blame. Secondly, I believe that not only the taxpayers must be considered. We must also be concerned with the safety and convenience of the people using these airlines. Their interests must be considered. That is fundamental as the Minister for Civil Aviation has said repeatedly. I have pleasure in supporting the Minister’s remarks.
– Senator McKellar started by saying that the Government had taken the correct action on this occasion. He said that if the Deputy Leader of the Australian Country Party in New South Wales and one other Country Party member had voted with the New South Wales Government in support of the legislation that has been passed through the lower House in that State, it would be because the Deputy Leader came from Tamworth and had to hold his seat in Parliament. Earlier, Senator McKellar said the New South Wales Government was the villain of the piece. The honorable senator said the New South Wales Government was creating all the trouble. Then he said that, in order to save his seat, the Deputy Leader of the County Party had to vote with the New South Wales Government. Where do we get with such a statement? In any case, if honorable senators study the replies of the State Premiers to the letter written by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), they will find that the coalition that exists between the Liberal Party and the Country Party in this Parliament and other Parliaments throughout Australia is hopelessly split asunder by this action of the Commonwealth Government.
Senator McKellar went on to ask, in the light of the expenditure by the Commonwealth Government on civil aviation, who could say that the Commonwealth Government should not have control. One could perhaps go along with a statement of that nature if that principle were applied by the Commonwealth Government to other industries in which money is invested. Does the Commonwealth Government intend to take over the universities of Australia because it is providing the bulk of money in that field? Does it intend to take over housing in Australia because it provides the bulk of the money for housing? Of course it does not. Yet the main part of the letter that was forwarded by the Prime Minister to the various Premiers concentrated upon the amount of money that the Commonwealth Government was spending on civil aviation. I am not critical of the amount of money that has been spent by the Department of Civil Aviation on air facilities throughout Australia; I think the Department has done a very good job in that respect, particularly in my own State of Western Australia. But that does not give the Commonwealth Government a licence to enter into the dispute in New South Wales in the manner in which it has. 1 want to make my position perfectly clear. I would give the Commonwealth Government power over civil aviation even if I had to beg, borrow or steal it. I believe that the Commonwealth Government is the only Government that can act in the interests of the whole of the people of Australia in this respect. I repeat that I believe that such power should bc resident in the Commonwealth. I do not object to tha attempt of the Commonwealth Government to take control over interstate and intrastate aviation. What I object to is the method that has been adopted by this Government to move into this field. The Government’s action immediately becomes suspect when, as soon as the New South Government attempts to implement a system of rationalisation of intrastate air services in that State - that is the system to which this Government is committed in respect of interstate air services - it shows that it cannot move in quickly enough. The Commonwealth has intruded in the interests of an airline which has been fostered and nurtured by it in every possible way.
During my remarks I shall be critical of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd., but I want it to be clearly understood that I offer no criticism of any individual in the organisation. I believe that this Government- has been caught in a hole because of its expressed policy to maintain a two airline system in Australia. Ansett is no fool; he is a very shrewd businessman. Anybody who has watched his movements in recent years would be aware of that. He knows that this Government is committed to a two airline system, and he is exploiting that situation as much as he possibly can. By being able to exploit the situation he is able to maintain a stranglehold on the activities of this Government in respect of civil aviation. That is the position which the Common? wealth Government has put itself in as a result of its expressed policy.
The movement by the Commonwealth into New South Wales is not in the interests of the whole of the people of Australia but for the purpose of protecting an asset which is a subsidiary of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. Therefore, that move cannot be supported. If there is any truth in the assertion that the Commonwealth Government spends a great deal of money on civil aviation - that is not a new development; it is something which has been going on for very many years - why does the Commonwealth Government wait until one of its favoured boys is being threatened by a rationalisation scheme in New South Wales before it moves into the intrastate sphere? 1 do not wish to go into the history of the regulations; Senator McKenna has already done that. Let me mention the facts. In New South Wales there are two domestic airlines, one of which operates 70 per cent, of the air services and the other of which operates 30 per cent. The State Government has attempted to divide the routes more evenly. I suspect that the Minister for Civil Aviation has some interest in the subsidies that are paid to these two airlines. In 1963-64 the Ansett subsidiary attracted a subsidy of £29,500 and East-West Airlines a subsidy of £27,400. It is known that Ansett has tried to move in on East-West Airlines on previous occasions by legal means but has failed to do so. Having failed, the Commonwealth Government has come to his assistance.
Why is Trans-Australia Airlines not allowed to move into some of the intrastate operations? That airline operates on the west coast of Tasmania. As we all know, Tasmania is a small State with a small population, and the smallest part of its population is on the west coast.
– It is not confined to the west coast.
– That is the only intrastate service that it operates in Tasmania, lt services the more densely populated areas of Launceston and Hobart in competition with Ansett-A.N.A. At one time T.A.A. had a monopoly in Queensland, but Ansett-A.N.A. was allowed to move in and to get a share of the traffic. But when T.A.A. wanted to move into Western Australia and South Australia, it was prevented from doing so by ministerial action. We are told that that was because the Commonwealth Government was paying a subsidy and it did not want to subsidise two airlines. Perhaps that is in accord with common business practice. Nevertheless, T.A.A. has been prevented from moving into any State other than Queensland and Tasmania to operate an intrastate service. Ansett-A.N.A. has a monopoly in Western Australia, having bought 75 per cent, of the shareholdings of MacRobertson Miller Airlines Ltd., that being the first airline to operate in Australia. Ansett-A.N.A. has a monopoly in South Australia as a result of its purchase of Airlines of South Australia Pty. Ltd. Now Ansett-A.N.A. is seeking to retain, not a monopoly, but a 70 per cent, interest in the intrastate services in New South Wales. Only a short while ago Ansett-A.N.A. was given the right to fly on the Darwin route, in competition with T.A.A. So this favoured treatment continues to be meted out to Ansett. Is it any wonder that, when a move of this nature is made to prevent the New South Wales Government from reallocating air services in that State, there should be public dismay and disquiet and criticism from the various State Governments? In 1963-64 Ansett-A.N.A. and its subsidiary airlines attracted from the Commonwealth Government subsidies totalling £298,439. That is the sum the taxpayers paid to Ansett-A.N.A. and its subsidiaries in the Ansett organisation and it is approximately the amount of taxation that is paid by Ansett Transport Industries. The amount that Ansett pays in taxation he gets back in subsidies.
Of the four replies received to the Prime Minister’s letter to the State Premiers, I wish to quote only the reply received from Mr. Bolte, the Victorian Premier. I think it expresses the opinions of the four State Premiers, although the Queensland Premier may not have expressed himself as forcefully as did Mr. Bolte. Nevertheless, he wants to know a little more about the Commonwealth Government’s intentions before he will agree to any movement by the Commonwealth towards control of intrastate air services in Queensland. It has been reported in the Press that the Premier of Western Australia, Mr. Brand, is opposed to the Commonwealth’s move, but he has not replied to the Prime Minister’s letter; nor has Sir Thomas Playford, the Premier of South Australia. Mr. Bolte said -
A complete uniform and integrated system of control of air navigation, by means of uniform Commonwealth and States legislation, has operated for some years. No factor has arisen to suggest the possibility of any disruption of this desirable state of affairs, so far. as the future is concerned.
The Victorian Government does not assent to the suggestion that the Commonwealth possesses constitutional authority for all or any of the new proposals and we reserve the whole of the State’s rights to challenge any action which we consider beyond the authority of the Constitution.
I find it difficult to understand why, for no readily apparent reason, you should wish to dislocate the existing integrated system of control of inter and intrastate air navigation.
I wish now to quote from a report which appeared in the Melbourne “ Herald “ this afternoon. It stales, under the heading Three States Fight Air Control Plan “-
Moves were ma-de by three States today to fight the Federal Government’s action in taking control of air services within the States.
Victoria’s Attorney-General, Mr. Rylah, flew to Sydney today to see the New South Wales Attorney-General, Mr. Downing.
We do not know what the result of the discussions will be, but it is apparent that although Victoria does not have an extensive intrastate air service, its Liberal Premier is very concerned at the actions of the Commonwealth Government. Mr. Bolte used the expression, “ for no apparent reason “, but a reason is apparent to honorable senators on this side of the chamber. We say that the reason is the continual fostering of Ansett Transport Industries by this Government.
In his letter to the State Premiers the Prime Minister said that there would not be any movement without consultation. I ask: What consultation has been held? If there has not been any consultation, when will it be held? In his letter the Prime Minister said - 1 wish to make it clear that in regard to intrastate air transport co-ordination, the Commonwealth would propose to act only after consultation with the State transport authorities.
If no such consultation has yet occurred, when will it occur? As the States will need to co-ordinate other forms of transport with air transport, they are entitled to know what are the final intentions of the Commonwealth Government. If consultations with the Slates are not held, it means that the Prime Minister is not acting in good faith anc/ in accordance with the terms of his letter.
The Commonwealth Government pays subsidies to the airlines. The amount of subsidy paid to MacRobertson Miller Airlines Ltd. in 1963-64 was about £128,000. Some time ago this airline company purchased a Friendship aircraft for use on the Perth to Darwin run. The people of Western Australia were promised that the company would shortly purchase a second Friendship aircraft. In the meantime, MacRobertson Miller Airlines Ltd. has become a subsidiary of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd., which has obtained a controlling interest in its shares. MacRobertson Miller Airlines has purchased a Friendship aircraft from Ansett-A.N.A. and must ensure that it complies with the require ments of the Department of Civil Aviation. I spoke to the engineers working on the aircraft and they advised mc that it will cost more to place it in proper order, as required by the Department of Civil Aviation, than it would cost to purchase a new aircraft. The profits of the company will be reduced accordingly, which means that payment of a greater subsidy will be necessary. The result is that Ansett has been able to unload an aircraft, which is unfit for use on his interstate air services, on to one of his subsidiaries and thus to attract a greater subsidy from the Commonwealth Government. lt may be smart business, but it is not the type of business that should be subsidised by the Commonwealth Government. It is the type of transaction that can take place with any of the subsidiary companies of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. 1 rose only to express my opposition, not to the ultimate objective of the Commonwealth Government to take control of interstate and intrastate air services, but to the nature and timing of the Government’s gazettal of regulations to perform that act. In 1958 the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review recommended that a referendum should be held to achieve the Government’s present objective, but the recommendation was not acted upon by the Government. However, immediately one of the airline companies in the Ansett organisation became involved, action could not be taken quickly enough. I shall vote to disallow the regulations.
.- I remind Senator Cant at the outset that although Tasmania is a comparatively small State, Trans-Australia Airlines operates all over Tasmania and not merely on the west coast of it. T.A.A. runs a service from the north-west coast of Tasmania to Launceston and Hobart. In fact, I think it is about the only intrastate airline in Tasmania. I discount any reference, any involvement or any suggestion that has been made by the Opposition relative to Mr. Reg. Ansett or his company for the very good and cogent reason that in the philosophy of the Opposition Mr. Reg. Ansett and his company are taboo. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) was perfectly right this afternoon when he said that Mr. Ansett immediately became a target for the Opposition because of the success that has attended his venture and because of the fact that he stands in the way of the nationalisation of the whole of the air services of the Commonwealth. That makes him a target for the Opposition at once. 1 was watching television only a few nights ago and I saw an interview in which Mr. Harold Wilson, the Leader of the British Labour Party, was asked whether he would nationalise the steel industry in the United Kingdom. His reply summed up the thinking of the Australian Labour Party. He said: “ The restrictive trade practices court has shown that the steel industry in the United Kingdom is not subject to any competition. So we propose to nationalise that industry.” That is typical of the thinking of the Opposition. Because something at the moment is not subject to competition the Labour Party advocates action which will for all time remove it from competition, thereby making it the worst monopoly that could be envisaged, namely, a government owned monopoly.
I am afraid it is a sorry commentary on the thinking of a lot of people in the Commonwealth that immediately a man at the head of a company, by enterprise and initiative, is able to branch out, go from strength to strength, make a success of the business and so confer great benefit on many people he immediately becomes for the Socialist a target for vilification. The Socialist believes that this success is unfair and that something that is unfair to the rest of the community is happening and makes it possible for the successful person to do those things. That is the type of thinking that so often the Labour Party expresses in this place.
I do not propose to say much about the legal aspect of this matter. My understanding of it is that because- of a recent case in the High Court of Australia a very strong suggestion was made that power already reposed in the Commonwealth to implement the air navigation regulations which are now being discussed in this chamber. I think it is fair to say on that suggestion that no doubt on the best legal advice it could obtain the Commonwealth has proceeded to implement regulations to control just what should overwhelmingly be the province of the Commonwealth
Government. I do not think there is any doubt whatever that control of air transport in the Commonwealth, and all that goes with it, should be the province of the Commonwealth Government. Air transport should be under one control, not dual control, in these days when it is advancing so very, very rapidly. On that premise, the Commonwealth Government has proceeded to promulgate these regulations.
What is the Opposition’s view? Some Opposition senators were members of the Constitutional Review Committee the report of which has been spoken of so often in this place. Opposition senators frequently assert that the recommendations of the Committee should be placed before the people by referendum. Although the Com.monwealth Government is of the opinion that it already has the power to do as suggested in respect of aviation in the report of the Constitutional Review Committee, the Labour Party’s view is that the Government should not use the power just at this time. I do not know whether the Commonwealth has the power. There is only one arbiter in this country which can decide whether or not the Commonwealth has the power, and that is the High Court of Australia. But when the best legal advice that can be obtained indicates that the Commonwealth has the power, surely it is right and proper for the Commonwealth to proceed to put into operation something which is so very desirable and something of which at least the State of New South Wales stands in dire need. As Senator Cormack put it so very well this afternoon, the Labour Government of New South Wales takes the view that although the Commonwealth has provided all the facilities and all the subsidies for services, the Commonwealth should not be master of its own house. The Government of New South Wales says: “ We are going to call the tune. The Commonwealth can do all the work, provide all the funds, and do everything else that is necessary, but we will call the tune in. respect of the allocation of these air routes in New South Wales.” I suggest that this is something that no self respecting Commonwealth Government should tolerate, if there is any way by which such an attitude can be subverted at all.
Senator McKenna suggested that in conjunction with the next Senate elections a referendum be held relative to civil aviation powers or which would be sufficient to cover the regulations before us. I can conceive of no worse atmosphere in which to hold such a referendum than that existing at present. The people would be expected to make a decision on something which they should consider in a calm atmosphere, as free as possible from the political implications that would be associated with a referendum held at the time of the Senate elections. In fact, it would be a contest between the New South Wales Government and the Commonwealth Government. In my view, until the air is clear and the position is somewhat resolved, a referendum is out of court. What, then, is to be done about this matter? The Government of New South Wales has taken a high-handed and arrogant attitude towards the Commonwealth Government. We must remember that, with the exception of New South Wales, the States have not operated these services to any appreciable extent. Senator Cant quoted Mr. Bolte’s views on StateCommonwealth co-operation. If Mr. Bolte held those views why did he repeal some important parts of the State legislation on air transport in Victoria, including that portion of the legislation which provided for the issue of licences by the State?
Strange as it may seem, in the small State of Tasmania this proposal has caused a great deal of controversy. It is true, as Senator McKenna said this afternoon, that a telegram has been sent to all Tasmanian members of this Parliament. The telegram contained the essence of a resolution that was passed by the Tasmanian House of Assembly only yesterday. The matter has received considerable publicity in the Tasmanian newspapers. I was astonished to read the letter written by Mr. Reece in reply to the letter of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). Two months after Mr. Reece had received the Prime Minister’s letter he wrote -
Apart from the civil aviation aspect -
That is all he said about civil aviation and about the rights of the State in relation to it -
Your Government’s action has very far-reaching general implications in relation to the sovereign powers of the various States, and is causing my Government serious concern.
Because we believe that there should be no further derogation from the sovereign rights of this State, it is our intention to resist by all proper legal means, the action taken by the Commonwealth.
When I read that letter the words seemed to be strange, coming from the head of a Government which had supported every move, over 15 or 20 years, to increase the powers of the Commonwealth. Mr. Reece was a member of a Government which would have handed over just about all the State’s powers by act of the State Parliament - not by referendum - to the Commonwealth Government. He would have handed over so many powers that Billy Hughes said: “ If anything lies outside of them, give it a name”. Nothing lay outside. This is the man who speaks about sovereign rights.
Mr. Reece sent a telegram to Tasmanian members of this Parliament on behalf of himself and the Tasmanian Opposition. That rang a bell with mc because I used to be in the State Parliament. I went to the trouble to hunt up the records, because I could remember a reference of power being made by Tasmania to the Commonwealth in respect of air transport in Tasmania. I checked up with the draftsman in Parliament House at Hobart, and I checked up with the officers of the Department of Civil Aviation. I found that the Act referring to the Commonwealth power over air transport in Tasmania was passed in 1952. It is true that the Act was kept in cold storage for a long time, but in 1959 it was proclaimed and the power was referred to the Commonwealth Parliament. This man, of his own volition, sponsored a measure which referred power over intrastate air transport in Tasmania to the Commonwealth Government.
It is true that it is only a concurrent power. My understanding of the position is that if the Commonwealth has neglected to legislate in respect of a certain area in intrastate transport the State Government can do so, but if the State law conflicts with the Commonwealth law, then the Commonwealth law prevails. To all intents and purposes, in Tasmania, the Commonwealth Government, because of the. reference of power by the State of Tasmania, has complete control over intrastate air transport. What on earth is Mr. Reece doing writing to the Prime Minister, and circularising members, protesting about the absence of a power which he himself handed over to the Commonwealth?
– But for a period terminable at any time by proclamation.
– That is true, it is terminable by proclamation. But for five years since the power was handed over it has been exercised by the Commonwealth in Tasmania with, so far as I am aware, no complaints whatsoever.
Notwithstanding having handed over these powers, Mr. Reece, in the telegram which he sent to members of this Parliament, said -
Nevertheless the licensing of intrastate air services should remain within the sole power of the respective State Governments.
He used the expression “ sole power “, yet he himself referred the power which, to all intents and purposes, made air transport in Tasmania the prerogative of the Commonwealth Government. Mr. Reece went on -
Any assertion by the Commonwealth of a right to legislate by virtue of the external affairs power on matters not otherwise within its powers would constitute an unjustified threat to the traditionally accepted sovereign rights of the States. 1 read a report in tonight’s “ Mercury “ of a statement by Mr. Fagan in the Tasmanian House of Assembly only yesterday. I forget the picturesque language he used, but it was to the effect that this was a frightening proposition that would atrophy Federation. This came from a man who has for a long time attempted to atrophy Federation. Speaking about the external affairs power, I concede that for any government to attempt to by-pass the Australian Constitution by the subterfuge of using the external affairs power to cover other matters - I think Senator Murphy referred to this matter this afternoon - would be most reprehensible. But is it not true that many of our air regulations, particularly those in relation to safety, have for years been derived from the external affairs power and from the Chicago Convention? There is nothing new as far as that is concerned. However, this move to extend the Commonwealth power over intrastate air services is something that, as it were, brings the States to their feet. These States have no sovereign rights to speak of in this matter because they have never operated. South Australia has never even put a statute regarding this matter on its books. Tasmania referred its power to the Commonwealth. I cannot escape the conclusion that the members of the House of Assembly in Tasmania, including the members of my own Party, simply do not know all the facts regarding this matter. I was a most vehement State
Tighter when I was a member of the State Parliament.
– Have you seen, the light?
– No. I cannot concede that this is an invasion of State rights. The Queensland Government did precisely the same thing as the Tasmanian Government regarding intrastate air services. It referred the power to the Commonwealth. It is regrettable that a number of State politicians view with apprehension Canberra and all its works. Despite that fact, these two States realised that the commonsense thing to do was to refer the power to the Commonwealth and allow one unified controlling authority to operate the air services.
I believe that with the increase in air traffic and in air services, the prospect of dual control is something that should cause most people to think hard. Air services, by their very nature, should be controlled by one authority. When one considers that the Government in my State of Tasmania realised that the Commonwealth should have the power to control intrastate air services and referred that specific power to the Commonwealth, is it not ludicrous for it to turn around and shout its head off about the abrogation of State rights?
.- The subject matter of this debate is of great importance. We are concerned here with one of the most far-reaching assumptions of power in Australia’s constitutional history; certainly the most significant since the banking legislation in the late 1940’s. Having listened to the debate for many hours, I regret that honorable senators on the Government side have either failed to understand the case that is made against these regulations by the Opposition, or have deliberately misinterpreted the case for the purpose of bolstering up what would, without the misinterpretation, be a very weak argument.
The first point that I think it is necessary to make clear is that we on the Opposition side, in challenging these regulations and in seeking to have them disallowed by the vote of this chamber, are not concerned to argue that the power does not exist. It was, of course, thought - certainly up to the time of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review - that however the power over interslate aviation might be supported constitutionally, there was clearly no power over intrastate aviation. That was considered to be the position until recently when the High Court of Australia delivered its judgment in the unsuccessful challenge by Airlines of New South Wales Pty. Ltd. to the existing New South Wales legislation.
In considering these regulations we are confronted with an interesting situation. The Government, which had never shown the slightest interest in seeking constitutional power with respect to intrastate aviation when that power was thought not to exist, has now acted with unseemly haste to assume the power when it believed that it had detected a promising constitutional opportunity in the judgments of the members of the High Court in the recent case.
We on the Opposition side have always advocated that the Commonwealth should have full and complete power in both interstate and intrastate aviation matters. We do not depart from that view or retreat from it in the slightest degree on this occasion. If it be that in a constitutional sense the power which was thought not to exist without constitutional amendment can now properly be supported, having regard to the observations of the members of the High Court, then we are not going to be among those who say that the power should not exist.
The. simple issue in this debate is that in a matter of such far-reaching importance the Government has acted, not in good faith, but to meet a particular situation that is irrelevant to the broad and general question of constitutional power. The Government has sought to do this by regulation and not by submitting a bill to the Parliament. Had it not been for the power that resides in the Senate to disallow regulations, no statement need have accompanied the presentation of these regulations. In other words, in a far-reaching move concerned with a new area of constitutional power, the Government elected to make it, not by coming to the Parliament and seeking its approval, but by gazetting regulations which require the Opposition to move so that the matter can even be debated. Apart from having a copy of a letter from the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) to the State Premiers laid on the table some weeks ago for the information of honorable senators, no statement on Government policy has come forward to accompany this new legislative act. It has been done by Executive act. As I have said, unless we had moved to have the matter debated on this motion for disallowance, there need never have been any discussion in this Senate. We say that that is an extraordinary position, that it is a highly unsatisfactory position, and that when we look at the background of this move it just cannot be defended.
What we are concerned to challenge is not the existence of the power and not the ultimate right of the Commonwealth to legislate effectively in matters of Intrastate as well as interstate aviation, but the manner of the assumption of this power, in circumstances which shrieked of mere expediency in order to assist Airlines of New South Wales in its current struggle with East-West Airlines Ltd. That is what we believe to be the position. The Government would be making a great mistake if it thought that this move to disallow the regulations was motivated merely by a desire to criticise Mr. Ansett. That proposition does not really arise.
– What have you been doing all day?
– I do not think you have been listening all the time. A real case has been made by the Opposition. I had hoped that Senator Cormack would see fit to follow the line which he has often followed in this chamber in opposition to government by regulation.
– Why did you take it out of the hands of the Senate committee?
– It has not recently been in the hands of the Senate committee. Senator Cormack, no doubt as a salve to those principles he has so often advocated when dealing with such legislation, threw out the suggestion - I made a note of it at the time - that perhaps there was something to be said for doing this by amending the Air Navigation Act rather than by regulation. I do not know what he meant unless he meant that it was preferable to do it by amending the Air Navigation Act rather than by a regulation, lt is a very serious thing, and not to be taken lightly, to permit the Commonwealth to’ move into an entirely new area of constitutional power without having had a formal debate in the Parliament in which the Government has explained its reasons. That seems to be an elementary concept. After all, we are not dealing with mere machinery regulations; we arc not dealing with minor matters that can conveniently and properly be the subject of regulation. We are dealing here with great issues and broad conflicts. There are massive interests behind the various positions that are taken up on the question.
– I thought you told us there was no question as to the existence of this power. How then do you say that the Commonwealth is moving into a new field of power by these regulations?
– We are not asserting the existence of a power at this moment. We are not concerned to argue that a power does not exist, because we want to see it exist anyway, whether by judicial interpretation of the present constitutional provisions or whether by a constitutional amendment. Leaving aside the question of power, we say that to move into a new sphere of influence of this importance is a major policy step which should be debated in this Parliament. The Government should introduce legislation and tell the Parliament what it is all about. This should not be done by regulations gazetted in a hurry and formally laid before the Parliament without any accompanying explanation. That is the case we make. Stripping it of all party flavour, it is an important case on general constitutional grounds, and on the grounds of parliamentary principle.
– Do you think the power now exists?
– What matters is not what 1 think but what the High Court will say ultimately.
– You are not prepared to say it?
– I do not think it is for’ me-
– What is your own opinion about it?
– I think it is arguable. 1 am not here acting professionally. I am not being asked to advise. That occasion has not arisen. Certainly the constitutional debate that has been opened up is very interesting, and I would not want to be among those who scoff at the suggestion that the power exists. 1 am concerned to put the other view, because for years in this chamber we have been asking the Government:. “ When will you implement the proposals advanced by the Constitutional Review Committee? “ I do not want to labour a point that was made by other honorable senators during the afternoon, but there has never been the slightest reaction by the Government to those proposals, whether they relate to aviation or even to any of the other matters that were the subject of unanimous recommendation by the Committee. However, out of the blue there develops an active interest in expanding the aviation power, and indeed an interest in heatedly defending this new move as though the Opposition were in some way frustrating the legitimate aspirations of a Government which had always wanted to move into the field of intrastate aviation. It is as simple as that.
In these circumstances the thing to do is to look at the background and ask whether this is a case in which we can support what the Government is doing. If we cannot support it because cif the uncomfortable background circumstances, the only way open to us in this chamber to give expression to the resentment and the apprehension that the people feel on this subject is to move for the disallowance of these regulations. We have waited - 1 think in vain - for some explanation to be given, for some satisfactory case to be made by the Government as to why it has chosen to move now and in this manner.
It is easy to do what Senator Sir William Spooner did this afternoon and say: “ You are really picking on Ansett. You have some kind of pathological dislike of him because Socialists do not like to see a man get on.” I think at one stage the honorable senator appealed to me to put in a word for the underdog, Mr. Ansett, as I have on other occasions for people whom I considered to be the. underdogs. Whatever Mr. Ansett is - this is not a personal reflection on him because I do not know him any more than other honorable senators do - he certainty cannot be regarded as a person suffering from under-privilege in this Australian environment and needing protection either by me or by any other person who likes to take up the cases of people disadvantaged under the law or by their peculiar position in society.
It is not only those who hold the kind of social and political views that the Labour Party holds who are anxious about this move. I want to refer only to three or four notices that have appeared in the various newspapers and journals of this country to show that it is a mistaken view to regard this as party opposition or as opposition having some narrow-minded basis, in fact, it is very broadly based, that is, this uncomfortable feeling that the whole proposal rests on the Government’s desire to intervene in the interests of Mr. Ansett. I refer first to today’s issue of the Melbourne “ Age “ and to the editorial under the heading “ Who Rules the Skies? “ I cite only one passage from it, because it sets the context for honorable senators to consider. The passage reads -
There is no doubt that Airlines of New South Wales (a subsidiary of Ansett Transport Industries) stands to gain - or, rather, not to lose - if the Commonwealth wins this fight.
Who is going to say “ No “ to that proposition? “ Nation “ said-
The Commonwealth’s recent proposals carry an unfortunate timing. . . .
Then, having discussed the substance of the proposals and referred to the failure of the Government to ask for costs after the unsuccessful application before the Privy Council by Airlines of New South Wales, it said this -
And who can avoid the impression that Mr. Ansett enjoys special treatment?
Who can say “ No “ to that proposition? Yesterday morning the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ put the position very succinctly in its editorial headed “ Aviation Hazards for Sir Robert “, in these words -
Are the interests of Mr. Ansett worth the serious risk of lost control over the Federal Upper House?
This is, of course, coming from a journal which strongly supported the Government at the last Federal election. The editorial goes on -
The question is not expressed too crudely, because if Mr. Ansett’s interests are not the principal reason for the curious timing and haste of the Federal action against Slate powers in aviation, we have been given not the slightest indication from Canberra of what else is the explanation.
Who can say “ No “ to that? The editorial goes on -
It was certainly possible to have two views about the propriety of the New South Wales Government’s decision in 1961 to re-allocate the intrastate air route licences. What Sir Robert Menzies would overlook at his peril is that the 1961 legislation is no longer the main question exercising many, and probably most minds. There is a second level of discussion, the moral one, to be considered.
That is a statement, I would suggest, of serious import. It comes from a journal which has a reputation over many years for conservative and cautious writing, irrespective of whether its policies are in agreement with those of Government or Opposition, or neither, from time to time. It has always been regarded as being careful about what it says and what it wants to say, and those words are not capable of misconstruction.
To complete the picture that I want to put to the Senate of doubt and concern from sources completely independent of the political Opposition here, I refer to tonight’s editorial in the Melbourne “ Herald “ under the heading “Battle for Air Power”, It reads -
It seems logical that civil aviation should be under one authority.
I am reading the latter part of the editorial. That is not a proposition with which the Opposition quarrels. The editorial continues - .
But in this case, the principle of applying one policy through one authority is tangled wilh other considerations. New South Wales and three other Stales see the Federal move as a challenge to their sovereign rights. The A.L.P. alleges that Federal intervention is designed to favour an Ansett subsidiary at the expense of another company. The timing and the method of the Federal bid for wider powers have certainly confused the issue which should have been dealt with more calmly and more skilfully.
I do not rely upon that editorial as an argument in favour of this motion for disallowance. I could not claim that it goes as far as that, but it does give expression to what serious minded people are thinking about this whole manoeuvre - that it was hastily improvised to meet the situation where the Ansett interest in New South Wales intrastate aviation, in the form of its subsidiary, Airlines of New South Wales, has to be protected from the steps proposed to be taken by the State Government. In saying that, I do not find it necessary to allege corruption, but I do say that the protection of Ansett interests has become a Sort of reflex action with this Government.
– The interests he represents.
– Well, the interests he represents. Perhaps that is a better way of putting it, because those interests are substantial. I was concerned to make this point, Mr. President, that the rigid enforcement of the two airline policy has had as its inevitable counterpart the propping up of the Ansett structure wherever and whenever the sacred free enterprise system has seemed in danger of giving Ansett’s competitor some advantage.
I suggest that that is inherent in this two airline system, which the Government as a matter of policy is bent on enforcing right across the board. It is not necessary to go to the length of alleging something sinister in it. What is important is to recognise that wherever the policy seems in danger of breaking down, the action that is to be taken to enforce the policy inevitably must be action to the advantage of the Ansett interests. That is the way it has worked.
I do not propose to go over ground which other senators have covered, either on this or on previous occasions. It is not difficult to document the proposition that assistance has been given consciously, deliberately, as a matter of policy over the years, to the Ansett-A.N.A. airline for the purpose of enabling it to stand up to T.A.A. You can express that point more moderately or you can express it more sharply, but that is clearly what has happened over the years. The only question is whether there are alternatives. The Government has always insisted that this is its policy and the protection which goes to the Ansett interests follows, in my view, automatically from the application of that policy. It cannot be otherwise under this system.
We say that the active opposition of the State Premiers, based upon their protection of what they conceive to be State rights under the Constitution, together with the widespread apprehension and disquiet in the community, should be sufficient to make the Government pause and agree to abandon its present course of introducing the new regime by regulation, to start again - as the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) said this afternoon - and give the Parliament a coherent explanation of what it is all about.
It is perfectly clear that something recent has stirred this matter in the Government’s mind. Indeed, the Prime Minister in his letter to the Premiers spoke about the recent consideration the Commonwealth had been giving to this matter of aviation. It is disingenuous on the part of those who have defended the Government to speak on this situation as though they were always in favour of this expanded view of Commonwealth power and Commonwealth interest in aviation and as though the Australian Labour Party, for some momentary reason, was opposing this move by seeking a disallowance of the Air Navigation Regulations. The boot is on the other foot. It is we who have consistently sought an extension of Commonwealth power in this field.
If I am invited to express an opinion I can say this: It does not come as a great disappointment to us to find there is a strong possibility that the power exists because we want to see the Commonwealth clothed with this power; but we do not want an abuse of power. We do not want a grab that is not dedicated by the wider interests of the whole community but is dictated by an immediate desire to plug up a hole in the Ansett complex in the particular situation of intrastate aviation in New South Wales.
Although I do not often agree with the Premier of Victoria, Mr. Bolte - and disagreement with him in political terms has. been extremely sharp in recent times in my own State of Victoria - I appreciate that from his point of view, Mr. Bolte was speaking quite seriously when he said in the final paragraph of his letter to th3 Prime Minister -
I find it difficult to understand why, for no readily apparent reason, you should wish to dislocate the existing integrated system of control of inter and intra state air navigation.
The only point I want to make from that letter is that even a Liberal Party Premier says he cannot see what particular circumstance has moved the Commonwealth to act at this time. Of course, had he been more frank he might have spelt out the particular situation in New South Wales which has given rise to this recent consideration. We have had littleto go on in this debate from the Government side. We have hot had an explanation of the timing. We have not had an explanation of why it is necessary to do this thing by regulation. Until we get these explanations, we will be left with the feeling that the whole thing is politically motivated - and that is what gives it this sense of urgency - and until we can feel that the public are being respected in this field and that the Government has acted with proper motives related to the welfare of all the Australian community, then we cannot support the regulations. Having taken the initiative in moving in this way, the Opposition asks the Senate to reject the regulations, not on the basis that it is wrong for the Comonwealth to have power over intrastate aviation, but because this has been done in a particularly dangerous and unsatisfactory way.
.- The Senate has been engaged today in a discussion of the constitutional and parliamentary affairs of one of the really great industries of this nation. Inasmuch as the Constitution has been referred to from time to time - and I submit that it is very relevant to this debate - it is proper that we should remind ourselves that it was not until 10 years after the Constitution was adopted that the first powered flight occurred in Australia. It was not’ until 1920 that the first statute was passed by the Commonwealth Parliament in relation to air navigation. In that year, four. States passed acts referring their powers in relation to aviation to the Commonwealth.
Subsequently in 1937 when a reorganisation of the industry was co-operatively attempted, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania passed acts referring to the Parliament of the Commonwealth power to legislate on air navigation. But with the exception of the Tasmanian statute, none of the acts came into operation and they were all repealed. There was a joint conference at which the Commonwealth agreed to take one field of this power for the application of regulations which related to interstate and overseas trade, Territories and the external affairs power. The States agreed that they would either refer power or have the Commonwealth regulations applied in thenStates for the purposes of intrastate power. That is where the position remained until recent events.
With reference to the industry that has had that history, it might be pertinent for those Australians who wish to claim any element of statesmanship, if we remind ourselves that in 1938-39 in round figures 95,000 paying passengers were carried on the regular domestic air services of Australia. In the subsequent 20 years, that figure had grown to 2,150,000 passengers. That gives an indication of the order of growth in this industry. To take just one other figure as an index, the Prime Minister stated in his letter that the Commonwealth had more than £60 million invested in facilities for international and domestic air services. It is surely one of the great prides of Australia that the record of the civil aviation industry in Australia has been unsurpassed in the world. Its standard of safety is a byword everywhere.
But the industry is bedevilled by political contention misconceived in the mildew of the last Socialist Government whose first postwar Socialist grab was to nationalise all domestic airlines, lt was Sir Ivan Holyman, in charge of Australian National Airways Pty. Ltd., who had the honour to defeat the proposal in the High Court, to the extent of preventing not the establishment of a Government airline but the destruction of a private enterprise comepetitor. Let us remind ourselves that the survival of A.N.A. rested solely upon the guarantee of section 92 of the Constitution. If A.N.A. or its successor could be destroyed, the Socialists, despite that High Court decision, would succeed. Resentment flows from the fact that, when Sir Ivan Holyman’s company wilted in the middle ‘fifties, Ansett had the enterprise and courage, against which few Australians were prepared to compete, to take over that enterprise and carry it on. Hence we have this display of bitterness. It is not a pathological state, as Senator Cohen said, or a psychological state as Senator Sir William Spooner suggested. We have on the other side of the Senate a psychiatric paranoia - a complete obsession. Repetitively month by month we have this innuendo slimed across the floor like the trail of a serpent.
– Tell that to Mr. Butler.
– It comes from people like Senator Murphy, to whose remarks I want to direct attention. This afternoon 1 listened to him invoke the chapters on decency, honesty and fair play in public conduct. On Tuesday I heard him ask a question which was couched in these terms: Wouldn’t it be fair to assume that there was ground for corruption?
– I did not ask that question at all.
– Yes, you did.
– He used words to that effect. We have had suggestions from the other side that the motive behind this legislation was to assist the private interests of Ansett. We have had that double tongued hypocrisy that 1 despise. I am not making any suggestion against anyone; I have not the material to make a charge of impropriety. We have had this tactic of despicable smearing. I listened to Senator Cohen last night. Until I heard this morning the remarks of the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton), who represents the AttorneyGeneral in this place, I must say that Senator Cohen’s defence of private reputation in this House appealed to me. But when 1 see him surrounded by the barrowload of innuendo that has been tipped on the floor of this place today, I despise the whole outfit from which that innuendo against Ansett has come. The first thing that is bedevilling the civil aviation industry is that so far Ansett has been able to maintain his existence as a private enterprise undertaker in the industry. It is the continued existence of his undertaking that prevents-
– He is an undertaker all right. He buried Mr. Butler’s company.
– That is not true.
– -What did Senator Murphy say?
– He said that Mr. Ansett buried Mr. Butler.
– The existence of Ansett’s undertaking has prevented what? We have determined that the Socialist baby, T.A.A., which under the conditions laid down has performed a good public service, shall continue, but we are not going to permit it to grow into a national monopoly.
The civil aviation industry is bedevilled not only by the rather frustrated and gradually diminishing stature of the Australian Labour Party - the gradually withering image of the Labour Party which is without purpose, pulse or spirit - but also by State politics. I wonder what Sir Henry Parkes, Toby Barton, Sir Samuel Griffith, A. I. Clark and the other great fathers of Federation would have said if they had been called into a company of statesmen from the States to discuss whether or not there should be unified control of civil aviation. Let us consider the political risks which were taken by the great statesmen who contributed to the framing of the Constitution in persuading their people to give to this Parliament the 39 powers that are enumerated in section 51 of the Constitution. Then let us note that today we have a unanimous chorus from the State Premiers just because a Liberal Government is putting forward a proposal for the evening out of the civil aviation power so that there will be one undivided control with one undivided and exclusive responsibility.
The first point I make is that we in the National Parliament are dealing with an industry which is of vital importance to the existence of this nation from the industrial point of view and from the point of view of communications and defence reserves. Therefore, it ill becomes the Senate to deal with this subject on the miserable, snivelling basis of innuendo, personalities and bona fides so called. I submit that the argument that has been put to us is the sort of thing which makes Canberra unpopular with people in the States. If it is recognised that some people are concerned with civil aviation as an important national industry, then we should get from the Labour Party and the State Premiers a little objective consideration of the Government’s proposal.
I noted that Senator Cohen, who preceded me in this debate, said that the proposal before us was a claim for a farreaching assumption of power. He was good enough to elucidate what he said. He made it clear that he did not deny the existence of the power. He did not state as his opinion that power existed but expressed his assumption in this way: Does the power exist? He said that the exercise of this power by regulation was not bona fide and, secondly, that the power should have been exercised by statute and not by regulation.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the negative.
Motion to Disallow
– We are in the Gilbertian situation where every Opposition member who has spoken in this debate has made quite clear his own political point of view that as a constitutional power, this power should reside in this Parliament. We have also on record in this Parliament the report of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review. On that Committee the Opposition had six representatives. The Government also had six representatives, led by the Attorney-General of that time. We had the advantage on that Committee of working with the late Sir John Latham, if I may be permitted to mention him, without mentioning others. The late Sir John Latham was a figure who, in constitutional, parliamentary and public life in this country demanded respect on every count. He put forward the view that the constitutional power in relation to civil aviation, obviously without question should wholly belong to the Federal Parliament. That was the view of each of the 12 members of the Committee. After tracing the growth of the industry, we said in the report -
In the Committee’s mind, there can be no doubt but that the undivided subject of aviation is a national matter.
Reference was made in the text of the report to the responsibility that the Federal Parliament had assumed all through the years, the building up of the aviation industry and the great contribution that the Federal exchequer had made to its resources in the way of capital equipment, including aerodromes, air traffic control stations, navigation aids and the like, as will as subsidies to the airlines which needed them to assist development.
I regret that the constitutional amendment recommended by the Committee has not been made by referendum. We live in a country where the exposition of the meaning of the Constitution is the prerogative of our High Court. The High Court’s interpretation of the Constitution is revealed in the course of decisions that it makes. The High Court does not issue treatises year by year. It gives judgments upon cases. Therefore the decision handed down in February 1964 contained what was regarded by the members of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review as a new interpretation of the civil aviation power belonging to the Federal Parliament.
The Government’s legal advisers, I am informed, take the view that the regulations under challenge tonight are constitutionally justified by the opinions expressed by High Court judges in the Airlines of New South Wales case. I wish I had unlimited confidence in that view. I have not. But it is presumptuous of me to do any more than mention the matter. I believe that the proper attitude in this circumstance for one in my position is to accept the advice that the Crown has been given and assume that the exposition in this High Court case justifies as a matter of interpretation of the Constitution as it exists at present the exercise of the power in these regulations.
I wish to refer to two aspects of that proposition. It should be noted that the regulation under discussion extends the Commonwealth’s jurisdiction to all air navigation within Australian territory, unbounded by the existence of interstate trade, overseas trade, or relationships with Territories. As I understand it, one of the bases upon which that power is exercised over all air navigation within Australian territory - not merely interstate, but intrastate air navigation - is a viewpoint taken as to the meaning of the external affairs power based upon the existence of the Chicago Convention of 1944.
I remind the Senate that Mr. Justice Dixon, when this matter was first before the Court, expressed concern in these terms -
On the other hand, it seems an extreme view that merely because the Executive Government undertakes with some other country that the conduct of persons in Australia shall be regulated in a particular way, the Legislature thereby obtains a power to enact that regulation, although it relate to a matter of internal concern which, apart from the. obligation undertaken by the Executive, could not be considered as a matter of external affairs. The limits of the power can only be ascertained authoritatively by a course of decision in which the application of general statements is illustrated by example. . . . The aeroplane defies territorial boundaries. . . . The regulation of air navigation may well be regarded as an entire subject.
It is not delimited either by State boundaries or national boundaries. My colleague from Tasmania, the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty), this afternoon referred to what His Honour said in the course of giving his decision in 1954 - that a study of the schedule to the Convention suggests that obligations are placed upon the Commonwealth which extend over the whole territory of Australia and that in almost all respects the legislative power which arises from the need to carry out the Convention given by the Constitution would suffice to support laws made with a complete disregard of the distinction between interstate and intrastate trade. He went on to say that the actual framework of the regulations as they were at the time of that decision were limited to overseas trade, interstate trade and matters in relation to the Territories.
I myself fear in the evolution of our Constitution too expansive a use of the interpretation there referred to of the external affairs power. 1 share with the State Premiers a concern that if this is the basis of this regulation, the matter needs to be closely watched. But, Mr. President, it is not our job to interpret the Constitution. That is the job of the High Court. The Premiers in addressing their communications to us in that respect, may mean only to remind us that they would be the first to recognise that argument along such a line could be effectively addressed only to the High Court. So 1 forbear to refer more fully to this judgment. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) referred to it quite fully this afternoon.
There are passages in the judgment of Mr. Justice Taylor which, 1 would have thought, would have caused some hesitation before unqualified confidence was expressed in the view that the High Court thought that the Commonwealth could readily step into intrastate air transport, which may be a different thing from intrastate air navigation. I make only a passing reference to the judgment of Mr. Justice Taylor.
That leads me to say that I have received a telegram today from the Premier of Tasmania. I do not see any disrespect in his action in sending it to me. 1 have given the telegram very thoughtful consideration especially as 1 know that its terms are the unanimous resolution of the Parliament of Tasmania But the first thing that I want to make quite clear is that I, as a senator from the State of Tasmania, am not a delegate either of the Tasmanian Government or of the Tasmanian Parliament. I have my responsibility to form an opinion of what is proper regarding civil aviation in the interests of Tasmania. I do so. I bear in mind the marvellous air services that have been developed between Tasmania and the mainland in the last 20 years, and I ask myself having regard to the facilities that have been provided in Tasmania, whether it is to the interests of that State to suggest that its purely intrastate air services would be better under State control than operated as an adjunct of Federal control. To that question I find only one obvious answer. Therefore, if in the 1890’s I had attended the conventions that founded the Constitution and if somebody had told me that 70 years hence there would be aviation services of the sort that can be seen now, I would have regarded myself as the veriest dwarf of a statesman moulding this nation if I said that the intrastate control of civil aviation should be reserved to the States any more than 1 would have reserved to them intrastate control of posts and telegraphs, broadcasting and television. The nature of the activity defines interstate boundaries as national boundaries. Therefore, 1 speak, having regard to the lateness of the hour, more briefly than I would have, but definitely of what I think is essential for the benefit of all the States of Australia. I believe that civil aviation should come under one power and one control and should not be chipped off and segmented by sectional State interests. That is the question of power.
Some members of the Opposition have said: “We are not arguing the existence of power. We are saying, though that the power is not being exercised bona fide. We are saying that what you are doing today is in a circumstance that is causing disquiet in the country. It is being exercised for the purpose of assisting Ansett.” I am a person who has been heard’ on the dangers of Executive power more often than is good for my acceptability in this chamber.
– At least you have been consistent on it.
– I am going to be consistent on it tonight. This is not an occasion which has arisen out of any motive to assist Ansett. This is an occasion which arose when the Premier of New South Wales in 1960 or 1961 issued a directive to his Commissioner of Road Transport to review the services operated by the two airlines in that State, East-West Airlines Ltd. and Airlines of New South Wales Pty. Ltd. The shareholders of Airlines of New South Wales had paid for and developed air routes representing 70 per cent, of the intrastate air trade, and East-West Airlines had paid for and developed 30 per cent, of the intrastate air trade in that State. The Government of New South Wales gave a directive that 19 per cent, of the interests of Airlines of New South Wales should be confiscated, as it were, and transferred to East-West Airlines. That sort of executive action ought to be headlined. I see the superficial Press floating around the chamber with the caption, “ Labour gives Ansett a rap.” / wonder what the reaction would be if the Victorian Government said to the “ Agc “ newspaper: “Within 24 hours, 20 per cent, of your circulation shall be transferred to the ‘ Herald ‘ newspaper “.
– It is a ridiculous analogy.
– lt is not a ridiculous analogy. When you issue a public licence for air navigation, you enter into a contract with the licensee in good faith. So long as he observes all the laws and conditions of the licence, and pays his money to develop goodwill on that route, nobody in a fairminded British community would ever suggest that without compensation he should be arbitrarily deprived of his goodwill in the route that he had developed. When application was made to the High Court, the litigation, for some reason or other, continued until 25th February 1964. The status quo was maintained until the Privy Council dealt with the matter in July of this year. What is the responsibility of the Federal Parliament after having invested money which Senator Cormack reasonably assessed as amounting to £1,500,000 a year?
– Is that for intrastate airlines?
– Yes. When we take into consideration head office expenses, administrative expenses, development expenses and subsidies, that would be the cost to the exchequer which could reasonably be attributable to intrastate airlines each year. As we going to allow arbitrary political interference with the airlines when what is required is a sensible rationalisation that will assure profitable operation to each of them?
Having put that as briefly as I can, it seems to me scandalous in the extreme, and certainly no tribute to the intelligence of those who advance the suggestion, to say that the Commonwealth Government is wanting in bona fides because it sees fit at this juncture to take control of all air navigation so that it can prevent the fiasco which the Labour Government of New South Wales wishes, for political .purposes, to foist upon the industry. So much for the paranoic obsession that this action stems from the Government’s desire to assist Ansett. Who is this man Ansett? He is a successor to Ivan Holyman, a man who, in 1924, worked for his living as a bus driver and who, by his own energy and ingenuity, has built himself up in a free enterprise community. I do not believe that there is any man or woman in this Senate who is entitled to point a questioning finger at Mr. Ansett’s integrity or at this Government’s integrity. This was done once, to my knowledge, and immediately the then Minister for Civil Aviation took action before a judge and jury. As a consequence of that action, the defamer went to prison and thereby the integrity of this Parliament was uniquely upheld. That is a special debt that we owe the former Minister for Civil Aviation. Members of the Opposition who come along yelping these innuendoes without having any material on which to base them do nothing to assist us to decide, first, whether constitutional power exists in the Commonwealth, and secondly, if it does exist, whether it has been exercised in a bona fide manner. They have produced not a scintilla of evidence, but they make innuendoes in the hope that the Press will publish them under headlines that will seep through the country as debris seeps down to the dirt.
I reject the basis upon which this motion for disallowance is founded because the question of the existence of power is a matter for the High Court. The bona fides of the Commonwealth’s action is beyond question and the need for the exercise of unified jurisdiction is this field is beyond question. So I ask myself whether or not, merely because the power is taken by regulation, I should assent to the disallowance of the regulations. Every honorable senator here knows my views about the use of regulations. In the very first week after the regulations were gazetted the Opposition has been alert enough to bring them before this chamber for debate, and I rejoice in the fact that they are being debated, although I would have wished the tenor of the Opposition’s attack to be more creditable.
The Department of Civil Avaition has administered its affairs by regulation all through its history. The regulations in existence at the time these amending regulations were issued run into 149 pages. Therefore, it seems inappropriate for me to oppose the amendments merely on the basis that the power is taken by regulation instead of by act of Parliament, especially when I strongly believe that the national interest demands a unified control over the important province of civil aviation.
.- The Senate has been treated to a display of megalomaniacal histrionics that has never been equalled here before. We have heard both Senator Sir William Spooner and Senator Wright speaking about obsessions. Senator Wright went so far as to speak of a paranoiac obsession. When I heard that ersatz tremolo in his voice I knew his case was weak. He has cultivated that manner over the years in an effort to bluff those people who perhaps were not awake up to him. But I am awake up to him tonight. He has shown his true form tonight because he has performed a complete somersault. He has always claimed to be a State righter. If he had been on this side of the chamber tonight he would have pulled every trick out of the bag to defend the rights of the States. But all this will keep. It is on record. We have seen a complete metamorphosis of megalomaniacal histrionics. Senator Wright referred to a Gilbertian situation. If ever I have seen a Pooh-Bah or a Koko-nut, I have seen one tonight.
Senator Wright purposely manoeuvred his position on the speaking list tonight so that he could attack his legal peers on this side and they would not be able to answer him. I should like to quote what was said by one of his colleagues in the Country Party. The Deputy Leader of the New South Wales Country Party is on record as saying that the form in which the Commonwealth introduced the new regulations to control intrastate air operations left the bona fides of the Federal authorities open to question. That is the case we put against these regulations. We believe that the Government’s bona fides are open to question. We believe that these regulations, indeed the whole of the Government’s actions, are dictated by a desire to patronise Mr. Ansett. The patronage goes back over a great many years. Senator. Wright referred to Ivan Holyman. It was Reg Ansett with his Convairs, which he was helped by the Government to buy, who was able to cut prices and put the skids under. Ivan Holyman and Australian National Air-, ways Pty. Ltd. Senator Paltridge, who was then Minister for Civil Aviation, also was obsessed with the idea of helping this ogre of so called private enterprise. The Ansett organisation is not private enterprise; it is monopoly in its worst and most rampant form. The genuine entrepreneurs are being swallowed by the organisation of which Ansett is the frontispiece. What is happening is so humorous that cartoons have been drawn depicting Ansett turning out money for the Liberal Party, and tagged on to him are MacRobertson Miller Airlines and all the other airlines that he has swallowed. Now he is in control of television Channel 0 he will be able to look after his sponsors during the forthcoming Senate election campaign, as he has been able to do in the past by indirect methods. He owns palatial Hayman Island and he has a monopoly over tourist transport to the Snowy Mountains area. No other organisation can ply to that area. He would not let it in, because he has a monopoly.
As I said before, this is straightout patronage of one organisation. Why should Ansett have the right to dictate to the Commonwealth Government or to the Government of New South Wales? His organisation failed by ordinary business methods to take over the East-West Airlines Ltd. The New South Wales Government, quite rightly, tried to protect one of its local airline organisations against the inroads of the’ monopolistic Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. It was quite justified . in promising assistance, lt looked for a way to assist the airline and sought to keep it in operation by redistributing air routes.
The problem, of course, goes deeper than that. This is only the thin end of the wedge. On-carriage is most important to the major airlines today. If opportunity is not given to the Ansett airline organisations to get into every new field, then, of course, their ability to compete with Trans-Australia Airlines will be reduced. The service from Sydney to Dubbo, in the heart of the wool area of New South Wales, is a very good one. Its potential is great. It connects with services to Bourke and Broken Hill, south-western Queensland and the channel country. It is obvious why Ansett wishes to have this feeder airline coming into his genera] stream of business.
Senator Murphy made the point that this is a case of the use of naked power to assist a monopoly. During the time that Senator Paltridge was Minister for Civil Aviation he did not conceal the fact that he intended to ensure that Ansett-A.N.A. would succeed. Australian National Airways started to fail, because of the circumstances 1 have already mentioned. Fares were .cut and the show commenced to crumble. Senator Paltridge, in ‘my view, was responsible for getting Ansett to lift his sights high enough to be able to take over the A.N.A. organisation and keep it in business so that it could compete against T.A.A. The Minister realised that the efficiency of T.A.A. was such that, if left alone, it would become the major airline. It was an airline dedicated to the service of the public of Australia. It was not a profit seeker or a swindler but an airline doing its best for the country.
– Do you say that T.A.A. was efficient?
– Yes. it was highly efficient. Given an even break, it would easily have put the other major airline out of the skies. Ansett-A.N.A. was able to keep going only because in .1961 the finance for its re-equipment programme was guaranteed. Since when has a private enterprise airline organisation been able to insist that an agreement be drawn up whereby its rival organisation is disadvantaged by having to give up certain of its routes and thus reduce its potential? Ansett-A.N.A. also insisted on getting a guarantee for the finance for its re-equipment programme as well as guarantees against sudden increases in air route charges and increases in fuel tax.
If an honorable senator were to ask a question in the Senate on such matters he would be told that they were matters of Government policy, but this man was able to insist that his airline receive those guarantees from the Government.
It is interesting to note that not one South Australian senator on the Government side has spoken in this debate today. It is shameful that Government senators representing a State whose Premier has expressed’ his views so completely on this matter have not been prepared to speak. The reason is that there is a monopoly airline in that State. Civil aviation in South Australia is a closed shop. Government senators from South Australia are not worrying about this matter of rationalisation of air services because one airline has all the business in their State. The business has been handed to the monopoly airline on a plate. Airlines of South Australia Pty. Ltd. is sitting pretty.
The Ansett organisation was able also to gain access to the Darwin route.’ What right; has Ansett and his organisation to ask the taxpayers to pay him a subsidy to allow him to enter this route? A perfectly good’ airline was operating efficiently in and out of Darwin. The same thing has happened all along the line. Why should Ansett be able to insist that T.A.A should not have access to its own insurance account? 1 do not think there is any precedent in government action for a private organisation to insist on the agreements that Ansett has obtained.
I do not wish to delay the Senate by speaking any longer. I believe that I have expressed my views strongly enough andthat I have shown that the public of Australia is not satisfied with this action of the Government. This debate was interrupted to allow announcement to be made that there will be a Senate election on 5th December.’ I believe that the action the Government has taken in this matter will be one of the reasons, amongst others, why the numberson the Government side of the Senate will be considerably reduced after 5th December.. The people will not be fooled. No sound argument has been put up by the Government supporters. Some of them have tried to abuse the Opposition, and most of them have evaded the issue. The simple issue is that there is no reason under the sun for these regulations to have been introduced at this time, other than as an act of patronage to the Ansett organisation, to give it an advantage and further its plan to become the monopolist of private airlines in Australia. I support the motion that the Senate disallow the regulations.
– The sorry mental condition to which so many members of the Opposition fall victim at the very mention of the name of Ansett was never better demonstrated than it was a minute ago by Senator O’Byrne. He was shaking with passion, red in the face and almost incomprehensible because the name of Ansett had been mentioned. It is late in the night and it has been a long debate. For my own part, I probably would not be taking part had it not been for the fact that earlier today Senator Kennelly,- another victim of this sorry mental state, availed himself of the opportunity of this debate to attack the Government, to attack me and to attack my administration of civil aviation. I take the challenge up willingly and gladly. As I have told this Senator on many occasions, every time you want to criticise civil aviation administration in my presence I will speak in defence of it. What sort of attack was made, apart from die personal attack to which I will refer in a minute?
Senator Kennelly went back to 1958. He criticised what has become known as the “ Caravelle deal “. This is a mulish attitude, a stupid attitude, for anyone who claims to know anything about civil aviation at all. In 1958 the Government laid down a prohibition against the use and the import of pure jet aircraft into Australia and events have since proved it to be one of the soundest decisions that it could have made. We were not ready for pure jet aircraft. We did not have the airports; we did not have the facilities. Let me say again that the Caravelle Mark I available at that time was not an aircraft which would have suited our existing route pattern. We have seen what has happened in other countries as the* result of the too early introduction of pure jet aircraft. We have saved the Australian air travelling public from some of the pitfalls which have appeared in so many other countries, in the meantime providing for our domestic network an aircraft, which on any judgment at all, has done a first class job.
– and I regret that he is not here now - then attacked again the cross charter arrangement and said that this had been detrimental to Trans-Australia Airlines. Let me repeat it: The facts of this deal were that T.A.A. was a willing partner. It is true that when the proposition had been made 18 months earlier T.A.A. had rejected it, but when the deal was last proposed, it was finalised for no reason other than that T.A.A. saw advantage in taking DC6’s to service the New Guinea run just recently taken over from Qantas. How wise was that decision? How did it work out? Late last year when both airlines wanted additional capacity to see them through until they took delivery of their new jet aircraft what did they buy? Each of them bought one DC6B aircraft. Yet we have had Senator Kennelly whining, as he has whined during the years, about this particular deal.
He mentioned that Ansett-A.N.A. had been admitted to the Darwin route. It was. It was admitted to the Darwin route in terms of an agreement which had been reached between the two operators and to which this Government was a party and to which this Parliament had given its imprimatur. What were the circumstances? The Ansett-A.N.A. organisation applied for admission to the Darwin route for three years before the Co-ordinator thought that there was sufficient traffic to justify its entry to this route. For two years its application was rejected, and then in the third year, because of the change in circumstances, the Co-ordinator legitimately let Ansett-A.”N.A. into that route.
What always amuses me about this reference to Ansett-A.N.A. ‘s admission to the Darwin route is the convenient manner in which the Labour Party forgets its own previous machinations in this matter when the present Leader of Opposition was a member of a government which kicked out Guinea Airways and put T.A.A. in. Yet tonight the Leader of the Opposition stands before the Senate as a pillar of private enterprise. On this question of the co-ordination of route structures generally, let it not be forgotten that the relevant committee comprises representatives of the companies with the Director-General of Civil Aviation sitting as Chairman. If there is no agreement the matter referred to the committee goes to the Co-ordinator. If, as was explained earlier today, the Co-ordinator rejects an application by any one party, he must provide in writing his reasons. The matter can be referred then to an appointed Chairman who is Sir John Spicer. I should like to tell the Senate thai it is almost the invariable case that whichever way the application is decided one party grizzles. If Senator Henty’s experience is going to be my own repeated, he is going to have the disappointed applicants coming to him and complaining that their applications were not successful. That happened to me many times. In those cases I invariably said to the party who thought he had a grievance: “The legislation sets up an appeal for you. Why do you not take your appeal to the Chairman?” Do you know, in the seven years that I was Minister for Civil Aviation not one appeal was made to the Chairman? However, the appeal machinery has been provided, and it still exists.
Senator Kennelly took the opportunity of referring again to the particular case of East-West Airlines and the circumstances that arose some three years or more ago when it was alleged by some that I was bringing pressure to bear on East-West Airlines to dispose of their interests and their assets to Ansett-A.N.A. Senator Kennelly mentioned three particular people in connection with this - Mr. Drummond, the then member for the district in this Parliament, Mr. Shand, who is the Chairman of Directors of East-West Airlines, and Mr. Pringle. I think honorable senators, if they will bear with me, might be interested to recall just what was the position of these three gentlemen in respect of the allegation that was made against me or insinuated against me at the time. I think most of us remember Mr. Drummond. I do not think it is unfair to say that in the later years of his membership here he suffered - and suffered badly -from defective hearing. He wore a hearing aid but it is common knowledge that he did not always hear as well as he would have liked, despite the fact that he wore that instrument. This is what Mr. Drummond said in respect of a conversation between myself and two of the directors of EastWest Airlines at which he happened to be present. This is the relevant part -
I can say definitely that the Minister said to the representatives of the company that they would have to get together with Ansett.
May I interpolate that that is quite true. In a long conversation, I had been trying to get the directors to see the advantage of reaching some composition with Ansett, not only as to routes - indeed, routes were not under consideration on this particular occasion - but also service of aircraft. So when I said that they would have to get together with Ansett, that is the reference. Mr. Drummond continued -
That statement is open to a certain construction. I did not hear the Minister say that this agreement was to bc cither in the form of a sell-out or an amalgamation . . .
He did not hear that. Of course he did not. He went on -
It could have been said but it was not said to my knowledge or within my hearing.
I dismiss Mr. Drummond, for Senator Kennel ly’s benefit, as a witness to the allegation against me that I was trying to induce the directors of East-West Airlines to sell their assets to Ansett-A.N.A.
The next document to which I want to refer is a letter which I received about that time from the chairman of East-West Airlines, Mr. Shand, whom I saw from time to time in the ordinary course of my administration and whom, just before this letter reached me, I had seen at his request at the city of Orange in New South Wales where an airport was opened. It was subsequently alleged, may I remind the Senate, that I was bringing pressure to bear on Mr. Shand to sell out. This is how Mr. Shand wrote to me -
Dear Shane -
Sir, perhaps you should be presidentially informed that that is my christian name. Isn’t that a nice friendly way to address someone who is supposed to be trying to do you in the eye? Mr. Shand wrote -
I have given a lot of thought to the talk we had in Orange.
I called at your office when in Canberra last week and .found you had departed for South Africa. I hope your trip was as interesting as the one I had there recently.
I have been to see Donald Anderson and had a long talk with him.
Could you kindly wire me at your convenience, on your return as I would like to have a talk with you.
I now realise some of the tremendous difficulties that you have to cope with, and hasten to assure you that small as our organisation is we want to help the progressive development of this country and not hinder it.
Your Department, especially yourself and Donald have done much to help us develop. I do thank you for all your kindness in the past and hope you can spare some of your time to see me in the near future.
This is the gentleman on whom it was alleged ] was bringing pressure.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition mentioned Mr. Pringle in this connection. Mr. Pringle wrote me a most interesting letter. I shall read it for the benefit of the Senate and I remind honorable senators that it was subsequently said that I was putting Pringle under some sort of pressure. The letter is dated 8th August 1960 and states -
Dear Senator Paltridge,
Firstly, I would like to convey to you our appreciation for the friendly and frank talk we had in your office in Canberra on the occasion (hat Archie and I visited you.
The purpose of my writing you this personal letter is to inform you that I am taking my Directors for a short holiday fo Brampton Island -
J should explain that at that stage Mr. Shand was overseas and Mr. Pringle was acting chairman of directors- on Sunday, 21st August 1960, where we will bc remaining for a period of seven days. It has occurred to me that this could provide the ideal opportunity for a friendly talk with Mr. Ansett along the lines mentioned in Canberra.
It is felt that such a meeting would be the only way in which we could ascertain whether or not there is any chance of this Company working out some mutually acceptable agreement with the Ansett group. 1 do not know Mr. Ansett personally, and I would therefore bc most grateful if you could pass this information on to him at an appropriate time.
With kind personal regards.
The fact of the matter is that having received his letter I told Mr. Pringle immediately that I would not ring Mr. Ansett but that if he felt that he wanted to take him to this island on the Barrier Reef or meet him there he should get in touch with Mr, Ansett himself. 1 did not know until months afterwards that that is exactly what happened; Pringle got in touch with Ansett, or someone from the Ansett organisation, and they had a meeting on this island in the Barrier Reef, not because I arranged it, but simply because the directors of East-West Airlines wanted to have a meeting to discuss their business with Mr. Ansett. Subsequently, the charge was made that 1, in all these dealings, was trying to bring some pressure to bear. I look back on it now, some three years ago, and laugh at the fact that at the time the allegation was made I gave it any serious thought at all. But that, of course, does not prevent the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, in the circumstances of this motion, from bringing the matter up again, smearing, and alleging that the Government, and myself particularly, had been engaged in some process which should not have been undertaken. I give the lie direct to that allegation now, as I did on the last occasion.
I want to say further, in regard to what Senator Kennelly said, that whether he likes it or not the success of the civil aviation policy pursued by this Government is now an established fact which is acknowledged throughout the world. Senator Kennelly may not like it. In fact, I know he does not like it because he, in common with all members of the Australian Labour Party, does not want a two airline policy. He wants one airline - T.A.A. But the fact is that our policy has worked very successfully and this is acknowledged. With due modesty I confess to some feelings of satisfaction that the policy has worked out very well. That would not have been possible without the work of the officers of the Department of Civil Aviation and I pay immediate tribute to those who have worked so assiduously to bring about this result. But I, too, take some small satisfaction from what has occurred and some pleasure from the frequent references in overseas aircraft magazines - and most overseas countries have their difficulties with airlines - pointing to the success of what has been done in our own country. I merely want to say in respect of that matter, Mr. President, that left alone, unhindered by the Government of New South Wales, which is merely engaging in a political stunt, we will do in New South Wales precisely what we have done on the the trunk routes of Australia.
My first thought oh the present situation that we are discussing tonight is my regret that an air operating company like EastWest Airlines should have become entangled in party politics or permitted itself to become entangled in party politics. This has done it no good. One has to look at the development of this situation in order to get it in the proper perspective. The Senate might well be reminded that it was not until 1957 that these feeder airlines were subsidised at all. I cannot remember in all the history of aviation, despite the fact that in 1957 many of these feeder airlines were in grave financial difficulties, the Premier of New South Wales or the Premier of any States doing anything to assist them. They could have rotted as far as the Premiers of the States were concerned.
In 1957, might I add, under policies developed, sponsored and recommended to Cabinet by myself, we undertook the subsidisation of feeder airlines. East-West Airlines was one of the beneficiaries. Is it not rather ridiculous to believe that, having gone to some trouble to maintain it in existence, 1 would then take action to run it out of existence? I repeat that this was done in September 1957. The purpose was to give the feeder airlines a chance to survive. But when we undertook subsidisation it was made clear to all the airlines that while we were prepared to pay them subsidies for unpayable routes, while we were prepared to assist them in the procurement of aircraft, we looked to them to do something realistic to help themselves out of their difficulties. I remember now - I have remembered many times since - that when we undertook this sibsidisation plan there were many people in this chamber and elsewhere who looked very sourly at it, because in the minds of many these small airlines were just getting ready to be dropped into the lap of T.A.A.
– What is wrong with that?
– And this action by ourselves saved them from that particular circumstance.
– Would it not have been awful?
– We think it would have. Every one appreciates, of course, that you are an avowed socialist, that you do not agree with the two airline policy and that you would exclude private enterprise from participation in civil aviation. Everyone understands that.
– We would not exclude T.A.A., as you are doing.
– But we do not, and as it happens we are the Government. We understand well that in the unlikely circumstance of the Opposition ever becoming the government again, it will do its level best to kick private enterprise out of the air and re-establish a government monopoly. We know that, despite the fact that at election time your leader can go to the people and say, in effect: “We are a Socialist party but believe me, brethren, if we are elected this time we are not going to socialise anything for two years.”
East-West Airlines, as I say, was one of the small airlines. To indicate the type of difficulty it was in at the time we started to subsidise it, I inform the Senate that its paid capital was £82,000. Clearly one of the things that had to happen was. that it had to get an infusion of new capital. Clearly that imposed certain difficulties upon it. But the Government understood its difficulties and, indeed, it was our subsidisation policy which was designed to mitigate those difficulties as far as it was possible. While this was going on, Ansett concluded that the best way to protect private enterprise in this industry was for the private enterprise components in it, one way or another, to get together. Even if you do not agree with that policy, at least you can understand it, having regard- to the fact “that private enterprise had only escaped the clutches of the Socialists by the skin of its teeth just a few years before.
Ansett, as the leader of the private enterprise wing of the industry, was concerned to see that that private enterprise wing. would strengthen itself and would be able; as far as was possible, to hold off any action by any subsequent Socialist government. Because he held this belief, he made an offer to purchase the shares from the shareholders of East-West Airlines. It was a fair offer. Indeed, I think it was a remarkably high offer for the shares, but whether that is so or not does not matter. The company, acting well within its own rights, said: “ No, we will not accept the offer “. I do not criticise it for the refusal. That is its decision. Having done that, the company then took the textbook action of altering its articles of association to provide that shares were not transferable without the approval of the directors. That was understandable. The company went further, Mr. President. It established an assets revaluation reserve from which it made a bonus issue of shares to shareholders to the extent of some f 5 1,000 or £52,000. The assets revaluation reserve was created by writing up goodwill and the value of the airline licences. 1 merely explain it; I make no comment on it. I think that most people would agree that it is more unusual than usual, but this is what it did.
When the company made this bonus issue of shares, I as the Minister had not been informed, but finding out that it had done this I took the first opportunity of getting in touch with the company, initially by telegram, and informing the Chairman of Directors that for the purposes of subsidy assessment the bonus issue which the company had made out of this newly created reserve would not be taken into account by me. I would think that most people would regard this as a most proper action. Having regard to all the company’s difficulties, as I did, understanding what its difficulties were and realising that it was trying to beat off an attack by Ansett, I do not know why the company had to take this second step, because it had covered the position in its first step by restricting the transfer of shares. But, realising just what its trouble was, I did not intend to make this bonus capital available for the assessment of subsidy. My refusal to do so was an action for which, in some quarters, I was very much criticised. Members of the Australian Labour Party ought to remember this. Senator O’Byrne has said that East-West Airlines ought to be supported, and he set beside that proposition the criticism directed at me for the action that I took. I advise him to go to the next meeting of his local branch of the Labour Party and explain his own attitude towards the subsidising of capital raised in the way that I have described.
This brought us to the point at which the New South Wales Government became involved. I have never understood whether East-West Airlines approached Heffron or whether Heffron approached East-West Airlines. But, out of a meeting, this idea of the Borthwick plan was cooked up. The purpose of that plan was to take from the existing company, Airlines of New South Wales Pty. Ltd., some 19 per cent, or 20 per cent, of its revenue and give them to the other airline. 1 put it to the Senate that, regardless or whether one has sympathy for East-West Airlines or dislikes Airlines of New South Wales, this is straight out appropriation of private property. And this is what Renshaw wants to embark on in New South Wales. It is straightout socialist appropriation.
– But this is being done by those who form the Government of New South Wales.
– I know: They form the Government now. This is the sort of policy that they want to put into effect.
– What nonsense.
– Senator Murphy has talked of decency and fair dealing. How does he line up this sort of action against Airlines of New South Wales with decency and fair dealing? It is just robbery. His justification of it is: You did it to TransAustralia Airlines. The fact is that this was never done to T.A.A.
– Of course it was done.
– It was not clone to T.A.A.
– It was done little by little.
– The circumstances were completely different. I have pointed out time and time again that what was done in respect of T.A.A. and AnsettA.N.A. in the allocation of routes was done within the framework of an agreement to which both were parties. That is well illustrated on the Darwin route. When Ansett picked up a route, he did so because of the accumulation of traffic that had occurred on that route. There was no appropriation of private property in the way proposed now by the Premier of New South Wales. What he proposes is straight out appropriation. I see that Senator Murphy smiles. He may not like Ansett or Airlines of New South Wales, but he will not argue with my contention that what Renshaw proposes is nothing else but appropriation of private property. That is the only way in which it can be described.
I want to make just one or two more comments. The whole of this debate has been set against the background that the Labour Opposition in this Parliament wants to see East-West Airlines preserved in New South Wales.
– We wish to protect private enterprise.
-I do not believe that, and I do not think that any honorable senator opposite believe it. Do 1 need to remind my colleagues in the Senate how frequently Senator Kennelly has risen to his feet and asked me when the Government proposed to let T.A.A. operate intrastate services in New South Wales? He has taken every possible opportunity to criticise this Government because it has not let T.A.A. do that. Although I have described to him with mathematical precision the reasons for the Government’s attitude, he has never been satisfied about the matter. The plot here is plain: Something is to go to T.A.A. via East-West Airlines if ever a Labour government in the Commonwealth sphere gets a chance to enter into collusion with the Labour Government in New South Wales. I am probably not as smart as I should like to be, Mr. President, but I have been in this business long enough to read the signs. I reject as entirely insincere the arguments that have been advanced by the Opposition in this chamber today. What we have witnessed in this debate is the kind of political stunting which has been originated in New South Wales and which is repeated here so often.
Question put -
That the motion (Senator McKenna’s) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority .. .. 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senate adjourned at 11.51 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 15 October 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1964/19641015_senate_25_s26/>.