25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– by leave - Honorable senators will be aware that the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) is indisposed and will be unable to attend to his ministerial duties for some considerable time. It has been decided, therefore, that the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) will act as Minister for Health during Senator Wade’s absence. This arrangement will call for some temporary changes in ministerial representation in the Senate. The Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) will represent, in addition to the Ministers he now represents, the Acting Minister for Health and those Ministers in the House of Representatives ordinarily represented by Senator Wade.
– by leave - I should like, on behalf of the Opposition, to express regret and concern at the illness of Senator Wade. We trust that he will be speedily restored to health. We should like to take the opportunity of expressing to his family our sympathy with them in the anxiety that they must feel at this minute. I should be grateful if, at a suitable time, the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Paltridge) would convey the feelings of the Opposition to the family in those terms.
– Has the
Minister representing the Prime Minister seen a statement attributed to the Victorian Premier, Mr. Bolte, to the effect that he was advised at the Premiers’ Conference by Mr. McEwen, the Deputy Prime Minister, to go home to Victoria and increase rail and other charges to meet his Government’s deficit? If the Minister is aware of the statement, is he prepared to explain to the Senate its implications? Does this statement indicate that Mr. Bolte’s negotiations with the Prime Minister to meet his financial troubles have broken down?
– As I was not present personally at the Premiers’ Con ference, I am unable to speak with any authority on what actually occurred, but by way of interim answer may I take the opportunity of pointing out that a sovereign State makes its own decisions as to-
– It should make them.
– It makes its own decisions as to what it shall do, acting within the framework of the general CommonwealthState financial arrangements. This is necessarily so. It may suit one State to adjust a tax or a charge. It may suit another State to adjust different taxes, lt is not the practice of the Commonwealth Government to dictate or even suggest to any State which particular charges or taxes it should or might adjust.
– I direct a question to the Minister in charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research. Has the attention of the Minister been directed to a vicious attack on Catholic schools in the leading article in this morning’s issue of the “ Australian “ in which it was stated that Catholic school standards were low and often appalling and that they were starved of teaching talent? Did the Minister also note that it was further said that a quarter of Australian children were getting substandard education at Catholic schools? Will the Minister inform the Senate whether during his recent investigations of private schools he found these charges to be true or utterly false?
– I did notice the leading article in the “ Australian “ this morning. The article advanced at some length a lot of arguments against any form of assistance to private schools. The arguments in general were of the kind which we have heard far more intemperately expressed by the Opposition in this chamber and in the other place.
– Not only by the Opposition.
– Yes. During the debate on assistance to provide science laboratories we heard quite violent attacks on the policy in this chamber particularly from Senator Hendrickson and Senator Cavanagh.
– That is so. This is the same type of argument which we reject. But in some respects, the leading article to which the honorable senator has referred, went further than the Opposition or the statements we have heard from the Australian Labour Party. The newspaper made the claim that 25 per cent, of Australian children attend Roman Catholic schools. I believe this claim to be factually and statistically untrue. The article went further still and said that all these children were receiving sub-standard education at these schools. There is no doubt whatever that this claim is completely untrue. During discussions on providing assistance to schools through the Standards Committee, I have come into contact with secondary schools of all kinds including Roman Catholic secondary schools, and there is no question but that some Roman Catholic secondary schools are excellent. Some are thoroughly up to average and some are capable of improvement. That can be said also of all other independent secondary schools including State grant independent secondary schools. This is true of all schools. A statement has been made that it is not but, if it were not true and if, in fact, 25 per cent, of Australian children were receiving sub-standard education, it seems to me that the case for providing improvements to that education would be unanswerable unless we, as a country, want to agree to 25 per cent, of the population entering adulthood without proper facilities for their education. I can say that the Government rejects ‘he arguments advanced in the leading article and by the Opposition, and proposes to continue with its programme of assistance unless it finds itself frustrated by the Opposition when it endeavours to do so in the future.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. Will the Minister arrange for 50,000 or 60,000 , tons of canned apricots, peaches and pears to be imported into the Commonwealth so that they may be sold in the Murray Valley and in cities and towns in
Victoria? Will he also arrange for a few million bushels of wheat to be imported from Canada and sold to the millers in New South Wales and Victoria? Will the Minister then proceed to Kingaroy and the Atherton Tableland and explain to the peanut growers there why peanuts produced in Papua and New Guinea with slave labour were shipped to the Commonwealth for sale in competition with locally grown peanuts?
– It is a little difficult to find any coherence in the question asked by the honorable senator, but I must say at once that I disagree entirely with the suggestion that peanuts are grown under slave labour conditions in New Guinea. That is not correct. As to the rest of the question, if the honorable senator thinks it is worth it, I suggest that he put it on the notice paper and I will get an answer from the Minister for Trade and Industry.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration been drawn to a statement in the Tasmanian Press that “ the Federal Labour Party’s Immigration Commission “ is to visit Tasmania? Has any political party the right to say that it has an immigration commission, which title gives the impression that it is an official parliamentary or governmental body, when in fact the only official organisation - it is partly financed by the Federal Government - which deals with ibc assimilation of migrants in Australia is the non-party Good Neighbour Council of Australia?
– I understand that there is a Labour members’ immigration committee - not a commission - but it has no official government status. I believe that that is the committee to which reference has been made and which presumably is’ visiting Tasmania. The work of the Good Neighbour Council is well known to all people who are interested in immigration. The Council co-ordinates the good work that is done by many non-political organisations which are interested in the welfare of migrants.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Has the Minister seen a report that the consumer price index shows that living costs throughout Australia rose by 4s. a week in the September quarter, following upon an increase of 3s. a week in the June quarter? Does this mean that rising prices have absorbed nearly all the increase of 5s. a week granted to age and invalid pensioners within a few weeks of their first receiving it? Does the Minister agree that this increase and the fact that the hire purchase debt of the Australian public is now at a record level of £485 million, that already £22 million has been called in by the Reserve Bank of Australia and that there has been a downward trend in Australia’s balance of trade are warning signs which must be heeded? If so, what plans, if any, has the Government made or what steps is it likely to take to correct this situation?
– As the honorable senator was asking his question I wondered how he would inject the customary fear or warning motive. He ran true to form and got it in. The Government, which always keeps a close watch on economic trends and developments, does not regard the present situation as being one which should create panic or in which responsible members of Parliament should try to create panic. I did see a report about the consumer price index having risen. That rise could not have come as a surprise to anyone who watches economic trends. It will be recalled that, when the recent basic wage increase was announced, it was generally agreed by economists and others who watch the economy that ohe of the inescapable effects of the increase would be a rise in living costs.
– It is not fair.
– The honorable senator says that it is not fair, but he does not advance any antidote to a situation in which basic wage rises create increases in costs except, of course, the tattered one of price control which is still adhered to by the Australian Labour Party, which is completely discredited, and which in its turn brings more problems than it solves. The honorable senator referred to the effects on the balance of trade of increasing prices and of greater imports. I suggest that he should look closely at our overseas balances. Due to sound Government policy, our over seas position is stronger now than it has been at any time previously in our history.
– I ask the Minister representing the Attorney-General whether he has seen in yesterday’s edition of the Adelaide “ News “ a report of proceedings in the Commonwealth Industrial Court in which Mr. Justice Joske said that he regretted it was not possible to do other than impose a penalty on the five unions involved in a strike at General MotorsHolden’s Pty. Ltd. Will the Minister give consideration to amending the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act to permit judges to act in accordance with their beliefs of what is right instead of having arbitrarily to impose penalties?
– The answer to the first question asked by the honorable senator is: “ No; I have not seen the report to which he referred “. The answer to the honorable senator’s second question is that amendments to legislation involve matters of policy, questions on which cannot be answered at question time.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Is it not a fact, as is stated in the annual report of the Commonwealth Bank Officers Association Credit Union Co-operative Ltd., that there are about 21,000 credit unions in the United States of America and about 4,600 credit unions in Canada, all of which are not subject to taxation? Is it not also a fact that the Australian credit union to which I have referred, with a membership of 6,532, has its profits taxed at the rate which is applied to public companies? Has consideration been given to releasing Australian credit unions from the burden of company taxation?
– I read with a great deal of interest the report referred to by the honorable senator, although I have not examined the particular aspect raised by him. I suggest that the honorable senator place his question on the notice paper and I shall refer it to the Treasurer.
– 1 ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy: Is it a fact that Sweden, a smaller nation than. Australia, has 24 submarines? Were these submarines designed and built in Sweden? Should the Government bestir itself and decide to become possessed of a few submarines, could submarines be designed and built in Australia?
– I am not aware of the number of submarines in the Swedish Navy, nor am I aware of where they were built. However, I do know that this Government has produced a shipbuilding plan which has kept Australian shipyards working at 100 per cent, of their capacity. Every shipyard in Australia is fully employed. The ports are busy with shipbuilding activities, and I think it reflects great credit on the Government that our shipyards are fully employed in the construction of ships for Australian trade.
– My questions are addressed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. I ask: What duty would normally be payable on the importation to Australia of a Boeing 727 jet aircraft? Was this amount of duty paid, or is it to be paid, on the two Boeing 727 aircraft imported by TransAustralia Airlines and. Ansett-A.N.A.? Has the Commonwealth agreed to waive payment of duty on these aircraft? If so, will the Minister say whether the British Trident aircraft, on a duty free basis, would have been able to compete favorably, as to price, with the Boeing 727 aircraft?
– The British trade agreement provides for a preference duty of 71 per cent, on an aircraft that is not built in Great Britain provided that there is a suitable equivalent aircraft reasonably available in Great Britain. A by-law entry application has been made by both airlines which import these aircraft and this matter is under consideration at the moment.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. I preface it by saying that last Thursday 1 asked the Minister whether the Co-. ordinator of the Rationalisation Committee had decided against an application by Ansett-A.N.A.. for access to intermediate stops between Adelaide and Darwin. I now ask the Minister whether he is in a position to say whether an appeal has been lodged by Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. against the. Co-ordinator’s decision. If so, when is the appeal likely to be heard and will it be heard in public?
– Mr. President, when the honorable senator asked his previous question, I gave him an answer as to the procedure and advised him that the Coordinator had been asked to supply the reasons in writing for his decision. 1 understand those reasons have been given. They have been considered by -Ansett-A.N.A. which has now lodged an appeal to Mr. Justice Spicer. I am not aware of the appeal procedure. I would not have thought that it would be a public hearing but I cannot answer that section of the honorable senator’s ‘question at the moment.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the- Senate. Ls the Minister aware that 20 of Australia’s champion olympic swimmers are today staging a special carnival at Kure, Japan, for Japanese waifs? These children are sons and daughters pf members of Australian Occupational Forces and are subsidised largely from funds sent from Australia. Can the Minister advise what assistance is given by the Australian Government to help these unfortunate children? Further, would he raise the question once again with the Prime Minister or the appropriate Minister with a view to securing greater help for these children?
– On request, some time ago, the Government gave consideration to the matter of the waifs in Japan who are alleged - and I emphasise the word “ alleged “ - to be the children of Australian servicemen. The decision taken then was that the case was not one which could appropriately be supported by the Australian Government. The decision was made after full consideration of the facts and t do not see that there is any case for resubmission to the Government.
(Question No. 257.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice-
Has the Government any plans for assisting the New South Wales Government to inaugurate a fust express train service between Canberra and Sydney?
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has supplied the following answer -
The train service between Canberra and Sydney is provided by the New South Wales Government Railways and the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner has no knowledge of any plans for a fast express service.
(Question No. 304.)
asked the Minister rep resenting the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The Minister for Primary Industry has supplied the following reply -
– On 24th Sep tember Senator Brown asked me a series of questions about the distribution of “ Hansard “. I gave him some information then, but he wanted details of the categories of recipients of “ Hansard “.I now supply the following information -
Distribution. - (The number in each category is approximately the same for each House) -
Bound volumes - Parliament, 200; Commonwealth and State departments. libraries, &c, 157. Total for both Houses, 714.
Prices: Daily edition - not for sale. Weekly edition-6d, per copy; 6s. per annum, post free for each House of the Parliament. Bound volumes - 10s. per copy; £3 3s. per annum for each House of the Parliament.
Each senator or member may obtain, free of charge, 35 copies of his own speeches or questions. Copies of questions are accompanied by copies of the answer provided by the Minister. Additional copies of speeches in pamphlet form may be obtained at prices determined by the Government Primer.
– On the 29th September, Senator Turnbull asked me the following question -
I desire to ask the Minister for Defence a question without notice. He just stated that the TSR2 was flown some months after its scheduled flight. Is it not true that the TFX is already one year behind schedule? At the same time could he inform the Senate when the prototype of the TFX will be in production and does he know when it will be airborne?
I assured the honorable senator that 1 would get the particular information he asked for. I am now glad to let the honorable senator know that I have checked again on the matter of the TFX which is now the F1IIA, and I can assure him that the development of this aircraft is proceeding according to schedule. The roll-out of the first prototype occurred on the 15 th October, which was . ahead of the scheduled date. The schedule provides for the first flight of this aircraft about the end of this year.
(Question No. 324.)
Has the Treasurer- seen details of a proposal stated to have been made by the Chairman of Manpower Incorporated, an American international company, which, it is claimed, if adapted to Australia and our Asian neighbours, could offer a new strategy for success and security in Asia?
Does the proposal contemplate the setting up of enterprises in developing countries, with assistance to become established, by both governments, through long-term loans, tax incentives, &c, on the understanding that they pass to the ownership of those countries within 25 years?
Is it claimed that this aid, based on partnership, would help to allay Asia’s apprehension that private investment is a new form of colonialism, and would lessen investing companies’ fears of harassment and expropriation?
Has the Government given any thought to assisting private enterprise in such a proposal?
– My colleague has supplied the following answer: -
Australia is already, providing a considerable volume of aid to less-developed countries both through international arrangements and bilaterally. On the latest comparative figures available - those for 1962 - Australia ranked sixth among the world’s aid-giving countries in terms of aid as a proportion of national income. Australia’s aid, it should be noted, is not given as loans but as grants or as contributions’ under international arrangements.
Some Australian businesses, with exchange control approval, have established themselves in lessdeveloped countries, commonly in partnership with local investors. The Government’s policy is to approve mutually beneficial ventures of this kind.
But, to be realistic, we must recognise that, although we have high living standards, our capacity to give aid or export capital is far from unlimited. With 11 million people we are populating and developing a continent. That must make a heavy and continuous call on capital resources.
Last year a favourable conjunction of high export production, improved overseas markets and prices, some lag in the rising demand for imports and strong capital inflow raised our external reserves to a record high level. But as might be expected when the capital needs of a rapidly developing economy are taken into account, our normal experience, one year being taken with another, is that our balance of payments runs to a substantial current account deficit which is more or less covered by net capital inflow. Australia is, in short, a net importer of capital on a substantial scale and is likely to be so while wc are building up our productive capacity in the years ahead. - In the meanwhile, we shall continue to play our full part in the various international aid groups with which we are associated and, having particular regard to the fact that our first responsibility is to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, give all the aid we can afford under bilateral or other arrangements. But there do not appear to be any grounds for believing that we would find it possible in the foreseeable future to encourage a substantial export of capital.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - I lay on the table the following paper -
Audit Act - Finance - Supplementary report of the Auditor-General upon other accounts, for the year ended 1963-64.
Motions (by Senator Paltridge) - by leave: - agreed to-
That leave of absence for one month be granted to Senator Vincent on account of ill health.
That leave of absence for one month be granted to Senator Wade on account “of ill health.
Debate resumed from 15th ‘ October (vide page 1031), on motion by Senator Henty -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- The Opposition does not oppose the Bill although we are concerned about the mounting costs that the Commonwealth is incurring in providing air navigation facilities. According to what 1 may say is an excellent report by the Department of Civil Aviation - I hope to say more about that later, as well as about another report which is not yet to hand - total air navigation costs for 1963-64 amounted to £18.28 million. In return, the Commonwealth received £1.87 million in air navigation charges. As the Minister said when introducing the Bill, it is expected that air navigation charges for 1964-65 will amount to £2.1 million, although the increases proposed under this measure will not take effect until the beginning of 1965. I shall deal wilh that aspect later.
According to the report of the Department of Civil Aviation, the Commonwealth has spent, in round figures, between £79 million and £80 million on the provision of air navigation facilities. This is made up of £18 million for air route and airway facilities, £8 million for movable assets including aircraft, launches, and motor vehicles, £10 million for the acquisition of sites and buildings and £43 million for buildings, works and fittings. It is interesting to note that to date the Commonwealth has received £10,407,000 from the charges levied on these facilities.
The civil aviation industry in this country is in a very fortunate position because the taxpayers are contributing a considerable amount of money to it. One wonders whether these charges will ever sit squarely on the shoulders of the civil aviation industry as railway charges sit squarely on the shoulders of the various States. While admitting that the Airlines Agreements Act 1961 gives the Commonwealth the right to raise these charges by not more than 10 per cent, each year, it does not place on the Commonwealth an obligation to raise them by 10 per cent, each year. It is true that since the Act was passed the
Commonwealth has raised them by 10 per cent, each year but the only obligation placed on the Commonwealth is that it shall not increase the charges by more than 10 per cent, each year. It is not my purpose to have these charges raised unduly but I hope that the Government will continue to raise them because I believe that all people who use the facilities should ‘ pay for their use. I admit that if the whole of those costs were placed too soon on a growing industry they would have a very bad effect.
It is rather interesting to trace the history of the legislation, which was introduced in 1947. It will be recalled that there were two civil airlines in Australia at that time, Trans-Australia Airlines and Australian National Airways Pty. Ltd. One of these, the private airline, refused to pay the charges. The Commonwealth instituted proceedings to collect the moneys that were owing to it. Then there was a change of government. The amount owing at the time was about £1 million. In 1952 the present Government made an agreement with A.N.A. to collect only one-third of the amount owing. It also decided that T.A.A., which had met its commitments, should receive back from the Government about £440,000. So in effect from 1947, when the legislation to provide air navigation charges was passed, till 1952, the private airline of the time paid only one-third.
Since then there have been increases. In 1952 an act was passed to raise the airline charges by 50 per cent, of the rate fixed in 1947. The Government undertook not to increase the charges except insofar as increases became necessary to provide additional facilities for civil aviation. In 1957 air navigation charges were increased by 10 per cent, and in 1960 they were increased by 60 per cent. There were fits and starts. As I have stated, the Airlines Agreements Act laid down that there could be no larger increase than 10 per cent, each year. The Government has adhered to that arrangement.
While the Opposition is anxious to see that both major airlines pay their fair share, we admit quite candidly that a tremendous number of aviation facilities could be used for defence in time of war. Therefore,, some rational method must be worked out. What is a fair thing? The airlines are competing with the various State railway systems. The
States have to meet payments due on the money that they borrowed for railways, as far as I understand the position. I hope that I am right. I am speaking from my recollection of the position as it was a long time ago. I understand that Victoria borrowed about £103 million for railways and that the principal repaid would not reach’ double figures. This debt becomes a charge, and fares are affected accordingly. I hope that they maintain the increase of 10 per cent, because neither T.A.A. nor AnsettA.N.A. should have an unfair advantage over other transport operators. On the figures I have quoted and in view of the fact that all the Government is getting back is about 8 per cent., it will be a long time before the status quo is restored. The Opposition docs not oppose the Bill.
– in reply - I have listened carefully to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Kennelly). There is a rationale in this because these charges are paid by all the international airlines as well as by the internal airlines. We have to be 6ure that our charges are not too: far above the charges in other countries. If they were, international airlines probably would visit other countires and would not come to Australia. There must be a rationale in these matters and the charges must be kept within bounds. At present our charges are among the highest in the world but we give exceptionally good service. I have no doubt in my own mind that, as the costs increase, the Government will consider further rises in landing charges.
I was interested in the little bit of history that was reviewed by Senator Kennelly because I know the area to which he was referring quite well. The honorable senator went back to 1947 when there was quite a scrap over the inauguration of the Government airline to compete with the pioneer private airline, Australian National Airways Pty. Ltd. There were some real fights in those days and the Labour Government of 1947 was trying to impose sanctions having frankly declared its desire to see a Government airline and no other in operation. It wanted to drive the private airline out of the sky and was determined that the Government airline would operate alone in Australia. That was the Government’s policy at that time. It was entitled to .have that policy but I mention this because Senator Kennelly went into history and I felt that I should give a few more details of the events of those days. Among other things, the Government of that day imposed high charges - almost savage charges - reminiscent of the action that was taken: recently by another Labour Government.
– They were not savage charges.
– They, were pretty savage. One airline was operating on Government money and the other was financed by private enterprise. Australian National Airways Pty. Ltd., the private enterprise airline, rejected the charges and said that the Government could not impose them. It said the charges were not legal because the company bad a lease on the aerodromes and, until the lease expired, the Government could not impose the charges. So the company refused to pay them. Significantly enough, the Government of that day did not attempt to collect the charges in 1 947, 1 948 or in 1949 when it went out of office because it knew the leases were sound and it was beyond the Government’s capacity to collect the charges it had tried to impose.
When the present Government came into office in 1950, it assessed the position and told both airlines that it would determine a fair compromise charge. The Government told one airline that it would refund twothirds of the charges it had paid and it asked the other airline to pay one-third of the charges it owed. Thus both paid equivalent rates and they started afresh from there. I have reviewed that history because of the statements that were made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. He has an excellent memory but he is not the only one in this chamber who remembers events of those days.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 20th October (vide page 1141).
Papua and New Guinea
Proposed expenditure, £28,496,000.
.- When the debate was adjourned last night I was addressing some remarks to the absence from the estimates for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea of any provision for implementing the recommendations of the Currie Commission on Higher Education in Papua and New Guinea. The Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) conceded that there was no such provision in the estimates which the Committee is now considering. That is very disappointing. The report of the Currie Commissionwas very comprehensive and very mature. It dealt with what the Commission described as being the real needs of the people for training to fill all the positions which will develop as the Territory advances towards modern statehood.
After a very comprehensive and detailed investigation of the higher educational needs of the Territory, the Commission made certain specific recommendations, particularly for the setting up of an institute of higher technical education as a matter of high priority and also of a fully autonomous university within the Territory. The Commission went further. It set out a time table within which various steps should be taken for the implementation of those recommendations. The Commission thought that a number of specific steps should be taken in 1964-65. But here we are almost at the end of the sittings of the Parliament for 1964 without having had any indication from the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) that the Government intends to adhere to the time table recommended by the Currie Commission. Indeed, the Parliament has not had any intimation that the Government has decided to adopt any of the recommendations of the Commission. It is clear from statements made by the Minister outside the Parliament as reported in the Press that, so far as the Minister is concerned, there is no particular hurry about the implementation of the recommendation for the establishment of a university in Papua and New Guinea. He said, I think, that its development will have to be fitted into the general picture of development in the Territory. The Minister has seemed to approve generally of the proposed institute of higher technical education as desirable, but he has made no announcement about accepting the recom mendation or about thetimetable. It is quite clear from theabsence from the estimates of any provision for these facilities that the Government regards this as being a long term project rather than anything that must be undertaken as a matter of urgency as recommended by the Commission.
The Currie Commission recommended that the following specific steps should be taken in 1964 or in 1964-65: That a principal and other necessary officers of the proposed Institute of Higher Technical Education be appointed in 1964-65; that the first contract for buildings for the Institute adjacent to the proposed university site at Port Moresby and on the Konedobu model be let in 1964-65; that a preliminary year should be taken in the proposed University of New Guinea and that it should be given for the first time in the existing Administrative College, beginning if possible in 1964, with the assistance of seconded staff; that a registrar, staff architect and clerical staff for the University be appointed in 1964; that a Dean of Education and a librarian for the University be appointed in 1964; that an Interim Council of the University be constituted and that it should, at the earliest possible moment, appoint a Vice-Chancellor.
We are met on this question with a wall of silence from which we can take it that the Government has no intention of moving within this short term period as suggested by the Currie Commission Are we to assume that this report is to be pigeon-holed, along with the report of the Constitutional Review Committee - which was submitted in 1959 - and with the report of the Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television, which will have its first birthday later this month? Although the report of this Select Committee has been debated at length in this Parliament and 1 1 senators have spoken on it, not one Minister has yet addressed himself to its contents or given any indication of the Government’s attitude to it.
We are not dealing in New Guinea with merely a local matter but with a matter in which the eyes of the world are upon Australia. Indeed, the Foot Visiting Mission, which visited us in 1962 and made some important recommendations concerning what might be done with the trustee Territories, specifically recommended that steps in the field of tertiary education were of high priority. Amongst other things, the Mission suggested that Australia should begin immediately on a programme to produce at least 100 graduates a year in the Territory.
– Foot has been laying eggs in everybody’s nests all his life.
– He is now a Minister of State in the newly formed British Labour Government and will be the permanent representative of the British Government at the United Nations.
– So what?
– -The Minister says, “ So what “.
– What does that mean?
– It means that he is a man of the highest possible international standing. Obviously he is a man who has the full confidence of the incoming British Labour Government
– And he is still subject to criticism by Senator Cormack or by any other senator.
– Of course he is. I do not know of anybody who is subject to criticism and who can complain if he is criticised in this place or in world politics anywhere. I am referring to the high standing of the Chairman of the Foot Visiting Mission. We had an opportunity to debate some of the Mission’s recommendations when the last Papua and New Guinea Bill was before this chamber last year.
– Does he say who is going to use this university when it is built?
The CHAIRMAN (Senator Mackellar).Order! There are too many interjections coming from both sides of the chamber.
– I do not propose to answer any further interjections.
– The honorable senator will not be given an opportunity to do so. He will continue with his speech.
– I want to get on with what I intended to say. That is that the Currie Commission was specifically asked by the Government to recommend a timetable for higher education in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. It is no good being hypocritical about this matter. Either the Government is serious about the question of higher education in the Territory or it is not. I want to quote from the terms of reference of the Commission as follows -
Any recommendations in respect of the establishment of new institutions in the Territory should be supported by proposals regarding the location of such institutions, a timetable for their establishment, proposals regarding the form of government of such institutions and estimates of cost.
All those things are covered in this admirable report by the Commission and one cannot get “ boo “ out of the Government; one cannot even get “ No “ out of the Government. What sort of conduct is this? A highly qualified commission of three was appointed comprising Sir George Currie, a former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Western Australia, Dr. John Gunther, the Assistant Administrator, and Professor Spate, a distinguished professor from the National University. They were entrusted with a far reaching task. They were asked to make specific recommendations, not only about “ what “ but about “ when “ and “ how much “. Then their report was ignored.
This Parliament is entitled to know what the Government intends to do in regard to this matter. It is no good the Minister making a speech outside Parliament to the effect that it is necessary to fit the matter into perspective. We want to know whether the Government intends to do something about these proposals for higher education in Papua and New Guinea or whether it does not. A timetable is specifically requested in the terms of reference. Now, what is going to be done about it? The year 1964 has almost gone. If the timetable or the proposals are to be scrapped, if they are to be ignored, and if they are to be rejected why are we not told so? Is it because the Government wants to go along quietly, hoping that its inactivity will remain unobserved? It surely cannot hope that that will be the position.
Every honorable senator realises that a university is not built overnight and that you do not get a sudden stream of students for it. Such a university could not hope to get a large intake of students in its early days; but unless the institution is set up then what stimulus is there to create interest in higher education? I think everybody who has been to the Territory will have been struck by the insistence of the leaders of the indigenous peoples that what they want as a first priority for the people in the Territory is education.
Now, we reach the stage at which, after a thorough investigation of the position, a good report is presented - a most impressive document which I think it would be uncharitable for anybody to suggest was not a document of the highest significance - and yet it does not appear to be receiving serious attention on its merits. Its consequences, and its implications seem to be being evaded. lt’ the reason for the Government’s hesitation is the substantial financial commitments involved then we should be told that that is so.
– Order! The honorable senators time has expired.
.- Mr. Chairman, I listened to Senator Cohen with some interest but, as I indicated to the Senate before, I am getting rather tired of these itinerant carpet baggers from the United Nations-
– Order! To which division is the honorable senator referring?
– 1 am referring to Division No. 896 - Miscellaneous Services, which provides for a total expenditure of £28,130,500 - a substantial sum of money which is engrossing the attention of the Committee at the present moment. I said that I was becoming tired of these itinerant visitors from United Nations organisations who come to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, make reports, and go back and criticise. The essence of their criticism is that the Australian taxpayers should assume ever-increasing burdens in relation to the Territory. The Senate is indebted to Senator Gorton for providing a paper on this subject which we can equate to the estimate of £28,130,500. We are discussing what may be the capacity of Papua and New Guinea to become an economic and viable Territory in, say, the next 10 years. I want to express my personal thanks to the Minister, Senator Gorton, for making these figures available. On Appendix A of these papers which the Minister has kindly placed at the disposal of the Senate honorable senators will see the sum of money expended in the Territory. In 1952 the grant towards the administrative expenses of Papua and New Guinea was £5,470,000. For 1964-65 it will be £28 -million. I have drawn on a piece of graph paper - very roughly it is true - a curve to see whether I can project into the future and illustrate the expenditure in which we are involved in Papua and New Guinea. It is all very well for Senator Cohen to talk about building universities. What the Parliament has to decide, I suggest, when the Government comes to its Appropriation Bill, is what sort of financial escalator the United Nations has put the Commonwealth on in relation to Papua and New Guinea. This curve I have drawn to try to project into the next 10 years shows that the amount of money that will be required as a contribution to the maintenance of the Territory seems to be in the vicinity of £50 million or £60 million. On this graph, also, I have attempted to project a curve which would illustrate the capacity of the Territory itself to make contributions towards the financing of its own development and the maintenance of its own government services. These curves, as one might expect, tend to diverge. So we have the situation in relation to this escalating policy on which we are embarked, that the Parliament itself cannot know the expenditure in which it will be finally involved for the maintenance of the Territory. That is what I mean when I say we are on art escalator in relation to Papua and New Guinea.
The policy of the Government, as announced from time to time, is to see that these people have their independence when they desire it. But when are they going to desire it? Have we for ever and ever to find vast sums of money to keep the Territory of Papua and New Guinea going and to be constantly needled by the United Nations which contributes nothing towards the development of these Territories? This illustrates the worst of all worlds - the right of criticism without any sense of responsibility. I would like the Minister, if he would be agreeable to doing this, to give some indication to the Senate as to what we might expect to be asked to appropriate for the maintenance of the Territory by the year 1975. My estimate is - as I indicated - that it will be well over £60 million a year on the papers that have been made available to us. When wc look at some of the target figures that have been laid down at the behest of the people in Committee No. 4 - in New York on the East River - in the United Nations then we can see that that figure is not far off the mark. I was in Papua and New Guinea last year and to the limits of my capacity and to the limit of the discretion of the public servants in Port Moresby I went into this subject of education. On the present scale, it seems that within ten years the demands made on this Parliament to appropriate money for education will be somewhere in the vicinity of £25 million a year.
Finally, 1 would like to deal with this subject of reports on which Senator Cohen has been making great play. I suggest in relation to this report of the Currie Commission that no government is bound to accept the advice of any commission that may be appointed. A commission, acting as a rapporteur, has to obtain evidence on which a government can base its decisions. There is no need to claim that because Sir George Currie is an eminent academic - the is a man whom 1 have had the honour to meet and for whom I have immense admiration - the Government is bound to accept the timetable he suggests. The timetable has to be related to the economic capacity to pay, both of the people of Papua and New Guinea and the people of Australia.
I suggest that the Minister might satisfy the heart flutterings I have about the finances of Papua and New Guinea and the palpitations I get every time I see the sums of money that are being spent in that Territory. Just what sort of top stair can we expect in the next ten years? Are we going to be saddled with these increasing sums of money? Will this country be able to sustain the level of administration and the level of services that we are already establishing?
– I wish to refer to the Native Loan Fund Ordinance of 1955 which was introduced to provide a native loan fund, to establish a board for the purpose of administering the fund and for other purposes. Section 10 of the Ordinance provides that the Treasurer shall pay into the fund such amounts as are appropriated from time to time by the Legislative Council for the purposes of the fund. I take it that this will now refer to the
New Guinea House of Assembly which has replaced the old Legislative Council. Section 11, sub-section 2, provides that at any , time the total value of outstanding loans to : any borrower shall not exceed £5,000. 1 have looked through the appropriations for the Department and 1 have also examined the paper that the Minister was kind enough to place before us. lt was referred to by Senator Cormack. Neither in the Estimates of this Parliament nor in the paper presented by the Department of Territories do I find any appropriation for this fund. Nor do I find anywhere in the documents any indication that there is, in fact, such a fund. As 1 have said, the maximum amount to be lent at any one time to any one borrower is £5,000. When 1 was in New Guinea recently the people there told me that £5,000 would be completely inadequate for the purpose of setting up an industry, but that in any case the granting of a loan was so hedged around with obstacles that it was almost impossible to obtain money from the fund, if in fact there was any money in it.
I should like the Minister to tell mc, if possible, what money is in the fund, the number of loans that have been applied for, the number of loans that have been granted and refused, and the reasons for the refusals. The fund is stated to be a means of assisting the indigenous people of Papua and New Guinea to establish themselves in industry. If the fund is not to be administered with some liberality, and if some risks are not to be taken, then the indigenous people will not gain very much from it. This Parliament, which is making £28 million available for the development of Papua and New Guinea this year, is entitled to know what is happening in respect of this fund as it affects the indigenous people.
Senator Cohen dealt with aspects of higher education in Papua and New Guinea. I come down to a lower level. The total amount to be appropriated this year for education is £4,631,100 compared with £3,959,390 in 1963-64. In addition, £1,200,000 is being made available for capital items. The paper with which we have been supplied states that 179,000 of the 540,000 indigenous children eligible for education are being educated. In order to obtain a comparison let me refer to the State of Victoria. There are approximately the same number of primary school children in Papua and New Guinea as there are in Victoria. This year, the Victorian Government will spend between £60 million and £70 million on education, in addition to Commonwealth grants for university education, science laboratories and that sort of thing. For approximately the same school population the amount to be spent in Papua and New Guinea is £4,631,000.
Australia is committed to giving Papua and New Guinea its independence as a nation in the shortest possible time. I do not wish particularly to see the event rushed. 1 do not want to see the people of Papua and New Guinea given self government until they are ready to have it. But I do not want to see them held back from obtaining self government. One of the things that will delay self government and a national unity, is a lack of education. Until such a time as these people can speak a common language they will not advance very far in nationhood. At present there are people in small tribal areas who cannot understand their neighbours. As a matter of fact one member of the House of Assembly is unable to speak any of the three languages that are used in the Parliament. Education is one of the things that will help overcome this problem,
On going through the schools in New Guinea it was particularly noticeable that those attending were mainly boys. Girls were not being educated even at the primary stage. I do not know why this is, except that probably it stems from the subjugation of the female in all of these indigenous populations. It is time that this Government started to take an interest in the matter and to push forward the primary education of these people. It is all very well to talk about universities, but people have to graduate in order to get to universities. If you cannot speak the language in which a university conducts its lectures, you will never get to the university.
– Senator Cohen said that potential university students are already there.
– If you have something to say, get up and say it.
– You keep him in order.
– Order! The honorable senator will show respect to the Chair or he will be ordered to resume his scat.
– I believe that unless this Government is prepared to take a greater interest in primary education it will be useless to provide a university. These people have been brought up for centuries with the idea that they should live in their own tribal areas and not leave them. They cannot understand that New Guinea and Papua is to become a nation of one people. Unless we can educate them to a standard where they can understand one another they will not progress in nationalism.
I desire to mention one other matter that was particularly noticeable to me when I was in Papua and New Guinea, and was probably noticeable also to other honorable senators who have been there. The headquarters of the Department of Civil Aviation has been shifted to Lae. Within 50 yards of the aerodrome at Lae is the main central hospital. How can sick people be properly treated and how can doctors perform successful operations in these circumstances? It seems to me that it is a waste of public money to have a large hospital in such a position where the patients and staff are constantly being disturbed by the noise of incoming and outgoing aircraft.
In the papers that were presented to us by the Minister I find that £37 million has been spent on oil search in Papua and New Guinea. One of the matters that disturbs me is: Who is to own the oil if and when it is found? If there is a national asset there, what part of it will be passed on to the indigenous people? Are we at this stage subsidising a country in order that it shall achieve nationhood and attain political freedom only to find that in the final analysis it has political freedom but not economic freedom? The same comment applies in respect of tea plantations, to which the Minister has referred. The main tea plantation will be at Mount Hagen and will be owned by the Carpenter organisation.
This is the sort of thing that is happening throughout New Guinea. The only industry I saw which was part-owned by the indigenous people was the plywood mill at Bulolo. It is to the Government’s credit that it has retained 51 per cent, ownership of that mill. AH of the other industries are being operated on foreign investment. I think that the people of New Guinea are entitled to receive some foreign investment because they will not progress unless they receive it, but if there is not a degree of ownership by the indigenous people and by the Australian people of the industries that are to be established, wc will find that, although the people may have political freedom, they will not have economic freedom.
I was privileged to attend the opening of the New Guinea Parliament. Some of the things I saw on that occasion disturbed me considerably. It is inherent in the upbringing of the people of the Territory that they will live in tribal areas. They cannot understand that people should be able to move from one tribal area to another because they have not been educated to the fact that they are of one nation. They cannot understand that people from the various areas of Papua and New Guinea could be centralised in the one place. They do’ not even understand one another when they speak together.
Another thing that disturbed. me was that there is a division amongst the people. There was no attempt made by anyone to weld them into one force, but there was a movement to keep them divided. Certain ambitious people are attempting to keep the indigenous members of the Parliament divided for the purpose of controlling the Parliament. This is not a good thing. It is not the way to build a nation and give the indigenous people the opportunity to govern themselves when the time is ripe. If the people are to be welded into one nation, they have to be able to understand one another. If these ambitious people are left in the Parliament to split and divide the indigenous members and to keep them divided, it will be many years before Papua and New Guinea is able to become a selfgoverning nation, and the interests of the indigenous people will not be served.
These are matters that the Australian Government should look at when it spends the money of the Australian taxpayers. If these matters are not looked -if. the money of the Australian taxpayers will continue to be spent ad infinitum. But if particular interest is taken in these people and if they are led along the path to nationhood, it will be only a short time before the Australian taxpayers will be relieved of the burden of continuing to” support Papua and New Guinea.
– I shall deal with some of the points which have been made so far. The last matter raised by Senator Cant dealt with the ownership of the resources of New Guinea by the indigenous population. I think it is perfectly true to say - and I am sure that the honorable senator will agree with me as he has been there and has seen what is happening - that the utmost care is taken by the Administration to see that the land tenure of the indigenous population is properly protected. Most of the primary products which are grown in that part of the world, such as coffee, tea, nuts and copra, are in fact grown by the natives who, in many cases, run their own processing plants and their own cooperatives. The Administration provides a great deal of protection of the economic ownership of the industries of New Guinea by the local population.
Senator Cant referred to the question of secondary and primary education, which’ I agree is of great importance to New Guinea if it is eventually to become a selfgoverning country. A great deal has been done in this direction. 1 think it is silly to compare the school population in New Guinea with the school population in Victoria and suggest that, because more people are being educated in Victoria, more people should be educated in New Guinea. The education system in Victoria, for one thing, has been operating for years and years. There has been a stream of education commenced which has flowed through all the schools. This has not been so in Papua and New Guinea. It is essential to get people through primary schools before they can be taken to secondary schools and subsequently to tertiary schools. Therefore, the provision of primary schools, which did not exist previously, must be the first desiderata. It is also true, of course, that in Victoria everybody speaks the same language. The people do not speak the same language in Papua and New Guinea, which is a matter to which Senator Cant referred. Also, of course, there are many areas in New Guinea in which the populations in the villages are completely cut off from, and unable to be a part of, parts of the community to which education can easily be provided.
If we look at the record of what has been done in the field of secondary education in New Guinea, I think it is pretty impressive. Before the war there was practically no Government education in New Guinea at all. The only education was provided by missions. Government education virtually started from scratch after the war, which is, after all, less than 20 years ago. In the beginning it was difficult to take the indigenous children through the schools and to provide teachers for them, but that was done. Buildings, which were destroyed in the war, were rebuilt. By 1955 there were 7,000-odd pupils attending government primary and secondary schools. In 1961 this figure had increased to 31,000, and in 1964 it has increased to 55,000. So that in a period of less than a decade the number of pupils attending Government primary and secondary schools has risen from 7,000-odd to 55,000. That has occurred despite the great difficulties which prevail in that part of the world. These figures apply to government schools only.
The growth in the mission side of educa- tion, which is assisted and subsidised by the Government, has been even greater. In 1955 there were 53,000 children in mission schools. The Government began to subsidise the mission schools in order to provide a better standard of education. Ne one objected to the subsidy being paid, and none of the mission schools turned down the “projected aid. The result was that the number of pupils in mission schools rose to 85,000 in 1961 and to 125,000 in 1964. The initial emphasis necessarily was on primary education. Children are now taken through secondary schools, which is essential before they can proceed to the sort of tertiary education to which Senator Cant referred. There was not any lack of support for secondary education. I would add that not only were the needs of the children being catered for but so was the requirement to provide native teachers who had been trained to a standard at which they could take charge of the children of their .own race. In 1955 there were 177 indigenous teachers in training. That number rose to 762 in 1964.
Those are the physical indications of an expansion which can be measured in monetary terms. In 1954-55 the allocation was £635,000. This rose to £5,400,000 in 1963-64. That is a record of assistance to an under-developed country at the expense of the people of Australia and no-one need be ashamed of that record. Those remarks relate to statements made by Senator Cormack. All that has been done has been done out of the pocket of the Australian taxpayer who has requirements of his own to meet from his pocket.
asked me a question relating to the amount made available in loans to natives, and he pointed out that there is nothing in the estimates to indicate the amount required for that purpose. The answer is that no money is being appropriated for that purpose this year. The fund was set up out of the residue of the wartime fund for assistance to aborigines and native peoples. From time to time money was appropriated for the fund. But it has become a revolving fund from which advances are made on the basis of good business .security and ability to repay. Repayments to the fund are then used as advances for other loans. There is no requirement for an appropriation for the fund this year.
I think the honorable senator asked me the number of loans that have been made from the fund. In 1956-57 there were 3 loans, in 1957-58 there were 11, in 1958-59 there were 17, in 1959-60 there were 69, in 1960-61 there were 111, in 1961-62 there were 89, in 1962-63 there were 102 and for the nine months to March 1964 there were 119. The value of approved loans rose from £7,600 in 1956-57 to £69,800 to March 1964. If the honorable senator wants a more detailed analysis of the loans I will make it available to him if he comes to see me later.
Senator Cormack posed a question which I find is impossible to answer. I have not a crystal ball. He asked rae how much money will be required for Papua and New Guinea in 1975, and how much the Australian people will be prepared to make available for the Territory in that year. That time is so far distant that I can onA teH him that his guess is as good as mine.
I gathered from Senator Cohen’s remarks that he approved the Currie Commission report on tertiary education and that he wanted a statement from the Government on whether it intended to adopt the report. He is perfectly entitled to voice his approval of the report in this chamber but the Government will not make any statement of the kind that he wants until it has decided whether to accept or reject, or to partially accept, the report. He appeared to me to be slightly mixed up in some of his views on this matter. He mentioned Sir Hugh Foot who had been to New Guinea and had had something to say about tertiary education; but this has nothing whatever to do with the Currie report or the suggestions contained in it.
Sir Hugh Foot indicated that he thought more people should have tertiary education, but not necessarily in universities established in New Guinea. I remind honorable senators that all natives who are capable of benefiting from tertiary education are now provided with scholarships by this Government to enable them to undertake their tertiary education in Australia. This was the field in which Sir Hugh Foot was interested. Tertiary education is now being provided through the method I have mentioned. Noone who has arrived at the stage of being able to benefit from tertiary education is disadvantaged because the Government has not taken any action on the Currie report. That is all I have to say in the matter.
– Before I call Senator Dittmer, I ask honorable senators to make their remarks as brief as is possible. If each honorable senator speaks for 15 minutes each time he receives the call on these estimates, the later ones will not receive the attention that they should. In particular I ask honorable senators to concentrate on the proposed expenditure before the Committee. I call Senator Dittmer.
– I direct attention to Division No. 896 which proposes an expenditure of £28 million during the current financial year on miscellaneous services. I thank the Minister for circulating a synopsis, but it is in general terms and does not contain a great measure of detail although there is some information in it.
I do not think these proposals for Papua and New Guinea can be over-simplified although on occasions I think there is a tendency to do so. I realise the difficulties associated with this region, one portion of which is regarded as Australian territory because it was annexed last century, and the other portion - the larger portion and probably the more economically attractive from the point of view of settlement - is a trust territory handed to us originally by the League of Nations and subsequently left in our control by the United Nations. But that does not justify any failure on our part to condemn the Government in relation to certain issues.
I sympathise with the Government. I realise the difficulties associated with the administration of this joint Territory, a place that at present cannot justify itself economically and cannot provide a reasonable standard of living for the indigenous people. I realise that there are over 500 dialects or languages used by the various tribes, many of which are even now still hostile to one another. But surely the Government, when it is spending so much of the Australian taxpayers’ money in the Territory, must have in its mind some overall plan. No such plan has been revealed to the Parliament of Australia, to the people of Australia or even to the people of Papua and New Guinea.
I know that these people, if left to themselves, probably would not seek independence or self-government or perhaps would’ not seek it for many years. But in view of the world position today, with more and more nations being added each year to the United Nations, the pressure is really on and Australia in a comparatively short time must face up to the problem not of what the people of the Territory will demand, but of what world opinion will demand.
We had an example of this as recently as this year when a delegation from the United Nations visited the Territory. Although I am not at all sympathetic to the delegation’s views, I have some measure of sympathy for it. The delegation was under the chairmanship of Sir Hugh Foot and comprised members from the United States, Bolivia and India. I thought that the report of that Committee . was a completely reasonable one. Members of the delegation did not hesitate to pay tribute to the work that had been done, but neither did they hesitate to point out the difficulties existing, as they saw them. which would have to remedied in a comparatively short space of time. From memory, the three “conclusions that they came to were that a Parliament should be established in that area, that greater educational facilities should be provided, and that there should be an economic survey. When we look at these three features pf that report, let us forget the delegation of J.964. I certainly have not seen any report by that delegation. I want to be quite fair, frank and truthful. As regard’s that delegation, all that I had available were Press reports. My impression was that it was a somewhat irresponsible delegation or committee - term it what you will.
The Parliament that has been established has only gone half way along the road as I imagine Sir Hugh Foot and his co-delegates visualised it. As honorable senators know, there arc 44 indigenous elected members, 10 official members, and 10 non-indigenous elected members. Incidentally, it is interesting to note something else in passing. This is’ only an aside. It is not a side swipe at the Government, although I think that the action of the Government was completely stupid, completely irrational and divorced from reality, and could create nothing other than antagonism in the minds of the indigenous people, when it determined that there should be a new scale of wages for persons joining the Public Service. This was more or less determined immediately prior to the establishment of the new Parliament. Surely the Government could have left that matter for discussion not by the old Legislative Council but by the new Parliament, and it could have obtained the views of the indigenous members. There are many reasonable members amongst the indigenous people who are anxious to do that which is best for their own Territory. They are not divorced from Australia in affection, but the Government saw fit arbitrarily to determine this basis of approach to the new salaries for public servants. I can see nothing but evil in its train. I cannot associate it with other than a stupid action on the part of the Government. Surely there must have been someone in Cabinet, someone on the advisory panel, someone on the staff of the Department of Territories who could have tendered the correct advice to the Government.
As regards educational facilities, the Minister has stated in the notes that he has distributed that at the present time 5.496. secondary school pupils and 179,540 children of school age are being educated. Some- . times I wonder whether we should not be. ashamed, when we think of what Indonesia is doing with its wretched and wrecked economy to improve the literacy of the people of the 3,000 islands that constitute the Indonesian Republic. Do not forget that all these reports are tabled side by side at the United Nations. In Indonesia we sec a wrecked- and wretched economy. It is not that it is justifiably wretched; it just happens to be that- way. We claim that we are amongst the modern nations of the world. This is our Territory to control, to handle, to mould and to fashion its future. If we are not financially capable of doing it, let us go cap in. hand to the United Nations” and ask it to provide not just delegations but financial assistance for the health and education at least of the Mandated Territory.
Senator Cohen mentioned the report of the Currie Commission. It has been thrashed out so much that I do not propose to deal with it in detail, but surely it has been long enough in the hands of the Government for the Government at least to make an announcement as to whether it intends to implement the report in part or completely, to reject it completely, or to reject it in part. But this seems to be the fashion of the. Government, irrespective of what the. report concerns. It established a body for no particular purpose other than - as 1 see it - to gull the public. We have had this ever since the Government led by Mr. Menzies, as he then was, came to power on 10th December 1949. The- place is stacked with reports. We have had the report of the Constitutional Review Committee. We have had the report of Sir George Currie. We are now waiting on the report of the committee led by Dr. Vernon. We are waiting for the report on tertiary education. We wait for three years and then, irrespective of the cost of the committee’s functioning, irrespective of the cost of the preparation of documents, and irrespective of the dislocation of everybody’s activities in their endeavours to help the nation, the Government does nothing. Apparently we are justified in assuming, in the absence of a reply from the Minister, that the Government proposes for the present or for the immediate future, to do nothing regarding the findings and recommendations of the commission chaired by Sir George Currie.
The third part of the recommendations of the Foot committee related to an economic survey of the potentialities of the area. Last year the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development sent out representatives who made a survey. The nearest we have come to being provided with information is that the Minister has said that the report should be available soon. What constitutes “ soon “ in the mind of the Government? I just would not know that. The Government is so well versed in procrastination that it could be a year or it could be 10 years, and when the report is in the Government’s hands perhaps nothing will be done. For 10 years the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation has been surveying the arable areas of the Territory. We find in the last report of the C.S.I.R.O.- the Minister should know this because he is the Minister in charge of this organisation-
Tuc TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN. -
Order! The honorable senator must confine his remarks to the item under debate. He must not make a second reading speech. The item being debated is Division No. 896 - Miscellaneous Services, Papua and New Guinea. I do not think-
– I am sorry to interrupt you, Mr. Temporary Chairman, but I want to direct your attention to the fact that Division No. 896 - Miscellaneous Services - involves the effective utilisation of arable land in the region under discussion, and the economic possibilities. If Australian taxpayers are each year required to provide an increased amount of between £2 million and £3 million, I ask - as Senator Cormack did previously - when the limit is going to be reached.
I think that we are entitled to know just what the Australian people are getting for these Miscellaneous Services, which will involve an expenditure of £28 million this year, and of what benefit that expenditure will be to the indigenous people, the other people in the area, and the area itself. With all due respect, Sir, I think that [ am confining my remarks to this Division. The C.S.I.R.O. does play a part, lt has said that more arable land appears to have been revealed. I ask the Minister whether he will make information available to us in relation to this matter. The new areas will be known within the
Department of Territories. We know of the Markham and Ramu valleys, Wahgi, the Eastern Highlands, and the Gazelle Peninsula in New Britain. We know that there are certain areas in Bougainville. We know that under present scientific conditions New Ireland is agriculturally impossible. I just want to know what are the new areas that have arable possibilities or potentialities.
– What does the honorable senator mean by “ new areas “?
– The Common* wealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation stated in its annual report that there were extra arable areas to be determined.
– The honorable senator wants to know where they are?
– Yes. It is a simple question. It does not require a long answer, 1 want to know where the areas are. I am entitled to ask that question and no-one will stop me. We talk in terms of secondary industry in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea but I have seen the area many times and when we think in terms of secondary industries there, we have to ask ourselves what they will contribute to the people. In the notes supplied to honorable senators there is reference to the production of tobacco twist. There is a brewery. Concrete pipes are being made.
Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I have been drawn into the debate on Division No. 896 - Miscellaneous Services^ - by some remarks that have been made by honorable senators. I believe that in our desire on both sides of the chamber to see that the people of Australia do the right thing by the people of Papua and New Guinea, we have some rather mixed ideas. This is good because I would hope that flowing from our different ideas, we might possibly give greater assistance to the people of. the Territory. However, that assistance must come first from the taxpayers of Australia. We have heard Senator Cohen advocate that we should spend millions of additional pounds for university education alone. Senator Cohen is honest and fair and I believe he would be the first to say on the hustings that we have to raise extra money by way of taxes if we arc to provide additional amenities for the Territory.
The honorable senator mentioned Sir Hugh Foot. I have met the gentleman and I believe that he is honest in his views and his beliefs but while Senator Cohen praised Sir Hugh Foot to the skies, there are others who have quite a different attitude to him. In fact, I have read in important papers that Sir Hugh Foot, in their view, has successfully liquidated much of an empire. 1 want honorable senators to pause on that thought. I ask them to consider what has been done in the name of Sir Hugh Foot. I saw only recently that he was to be promoted by the Labour Party in the United Kingdom. I hope that if he goes to the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations will receive some consideration.
Let us consider the Foot report on Papua and New Guinea. When Sir Hugh Foot was asked whether he bad visited certain areas in Papua - and this has a bearing on the question - he said he had not done so. When he was asked whether he had been to other areas in New Guinea, he said: “ No “. Honorable senators have had the benefit of touring many of the areas.
I am sorry that Senator Cant misunderstood me when I interjected. I was wrong in interjecting during his speech but actually I was agreeing with him because I thought that -much of what he said was correct. The point I was trying to make when I rudely interjected was that Senator Cant was saying, in effect, that good progress was being made with primary and secondary education and I agreed with him. I thought he was giving a fair account of what was being done. He spoke of the. difficulties and what he hoped would be done.
Senator Cohen gave the Government the greatest pat on the back it has ever had in this connection when he said that we must have a university in the Territory and added, in effect: “ Let us have it at once “. Senator Cohen is a learned man. He has had the benefit of a university education and when he makes such a statement, he does so with full knowledge of its import. He is so much a man of the world that when he said: “ Let us have a university there at once “, be did not intend that a university in the
Territory should be a white elephant. He intended to fill it with students and that implies that he believes the Administration has done an extraordinarily good job by providing the people of the Territory with sufficient education to allow them to walk into a university tomorrow as undergraduates. This was a great tributes - perhaps unintentional but well deserved - to what the Government has done for primary and secondary education in the Territory.
Senator Dittmer referred to an economic survey by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. I pay a tribute to the Government for what it has done in that connection, but irrespective of economic surveys and all the ideas that honorable senators may have about how the Territory is to be built up, an important fact is that the Australian Government has ensured that the natives of the Territory have not been stripped of their land tenure rights. I give the Government credit for this. I believe the Government, as representative of the people of Australia, is doing an extraordinarily good job in the Territory.
There is one thing I would like to hear and I believe Senator Dittmer would agree with me. I would like to hear the United Nations admit that Australia has done a very good job with its trusteeship in the Territory. I would also like to hear the United Nations admit that Australia has done the best it could with its limited resources, and will continue to do in the future for the Territory as we see it. It is up to the United Nations to grant Australia and the people of the Territory the sinews that will enable them to bring out all the latent possibilities of the Territory.
Order! I remind honorable senators that the Committee is discussing proposed votes and that they should direct their remarks to questions concerning proposed items of expenditure. We have heard too many second reading speeches. If honorable senators continue along those lines, they will not have sufficient time to deal with these important estimates adequately. I ask honorable senators to concentrate on questions, relating to the estimates that are before the Committee.
– I direct my remarks to Division No. 896 - Miscellaneous Services.
Before I proceed to matters of detail, I. should like to say that 1 believe Senator Mattner misinterpreted the remarks of my colleague, Senator Cohen. Briefly, Senator Cohen was referring to the Currie Commission which inquired into higher education in Papua and New Guinea. He said that a report had been brought down by the Commission recommending that more consideration be given to higher education in Papua and New Guinea and suggesting that there should be established a university and an institute of higher education. Senator Cohen said that this report had come to the Government last March. Now some six months later neither we aor the people of Papua and New Guinea know whether the Government intends to act on the report. 1 thought I should make those remarks to put the record straight.
I appreciate the work that has gone into the preparation of the explanatory notes that have been circulated by the Minister for Territories to assist us in our discussion of these estimates. Although the Minister has set out details of the expenditure and the reasons for ‘ it, unfortunately he lias failed to set out some of the many problems that exist in Papua and New Guinea. I was a member of a parliamentary delegation which visited the Territory in April last on the occasion of the Anzac Day celebrations. 1 spent 14 days visiting different parts of the Territory. The fact that I was there for 14 days certainly does not make me an expert on problems in the Territory, but I should like to congratulate the district commissioners and patrol officers who have dedicated themselves to the task of assisting the indigenous people. I fear that, although the district commissioners and patrol officers are working to the utmost of their capacity to assist the indigenous people, in the general administration of the Territory there has been a tendency towards bureaucracy. 1 hope that now thai the House of Assembly, with indigenous representatives included in its membership, has been established the rights of the people will be carefully watched and fully protected.
I should like to refer to a complaint that the Australian Broadcasting Commission made to the Administration in July of this year about what it was reported to have regarded as being the high handed treatment of one of its indigenous reporters. The reporter, as an officer of the Australian
Broadcasting” Commission, was asked to report a meeting of police officers that had been called to discuss certain grievances, lt. was regarded as being a private meeting. The reporter rightly sought permission to be admitted to the meeting, and he was admitted. He took notes of the meeting which was held at Kila Kila. He was thumbing through his notes when an officer of the Department of Labour in the Territory said: “I do not think you need that portion of the notebook”. Thereupon he ripped out that part of the notebook. That officer was reported to have said: “ We don’t want you to use anything about the grievances because it might cause trouble in other parts of the Territory “. I think that was high handed bureaucracy.
– Was the officer of the Department of Labour an officer of the Australian Department of Labour?
Senator - Benn.- He was an indigenous person?
– He’ was a
European officer of the Department of Labour in New Guinea. ‘
– Can you vouch for the accuracy of that?
– I have before me a report ‘ that appeared in the “ South Pacific Post “ of 17th July 1964, and I know that a certain industrial organisation took the matter up with the Administrator of Papua and New Guinea. I know that the Administrator replied to that organisation and has admitted that certain action had been taken and that the case had caused great concern. This sort of conduct on the part of Administration officials is certainly not good for the people in this area. The “ South Pacific Post “ had this to say about this sort of action in an editorial published on Friday, 17th July -
This is only one of many matters which causes me concern about the attitude of the Administration towards the indigenous people. My colleague Senator Dittmer has’ referred to the Public Service case. I agree’ with his statement -that sooner or later this will cause considerable industrial unrest as the Territory moves towards independence, especially when the education programme now being undertaken comes to fruition.
I remind honorable senators of the very poor handling of the recent mutiny by police constables. The Administration seems to think that indigenous members of the constabulary were concerned only about the late supply of uniforms. I am sure I will be supported by my colleagues on this side of the chamber and by Senator Cormack, who was a member of the delegation which visited Papua and New Guinea in April, when 1 say that it was obvious on the occasion of our visit that members of the constabulary were concerned not so much about uniforms as about poor pay and the poor conditions under which they were employed. At one time these members of the constabulary were officered by Australians who were under the control of the Department of Native Affairs. Those officers lived and worked with the members of the police force and shared their problems and dangers. Suddenly it was decided to remove control of members of the constabulary from the Department of Native Affairs and to set up a police department similar to the Police Departments in the various States. This reshuffle, which was made without any discussion with members of the constabulary, caused great concern. As a matter of fact, Senator Cormack, who is not a member of the Opposition but is a well known supporter of the Government, wrote a letter to the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ on 6th July last in which he expressed great concern about the situation. He said that since 1944 there had been four mutinies within the Pacific Islands Regiment, that on the last two occasions they had to be put down by members of the Papua and New Guinea constabulary who were responsible for disarming the mutineers and taking them back to their quarters, and that there was an enormous disparity between the quarters, pay, rations and equipment of the Pacific Islands Regiment and those of the members of the constabulary.
All I am saying is that the Administration must learn to treat these people as people. In the days of the great depression Henry Lawson wrote a poem which was entitled “.Wait Here for Second Class”. Now in 1964 officials of the Administration, parti- cularly in and around Port Moresby, must realise that there . are no second class citizens in Papua and New Guinea. I repeat that I hope that now the House of Assembly, the membership of which includes indigenous representatives, is functioning it will keep a close eye on the rights of the people of the Territory. For far too long they have been regarded as second class citizens by certain officers of the Administration.
I wish now to refer to one or two other matters related to Division No. 896 - Miscellaneous Services - and to the grant of over £28 million to the Administration. On my trip to New Guinea it was obvious to me that one of the greatest problems in the economic and political development of the Territory is that of communications. The roads into the Eastern Highlands and to the seaboard towns of Lae and Madang are in a comparatively poor state. Obviously a great deal of expenditure and a great deal of work is required on road making generally. I ask the Minister to inform the Committee whether any plans have been formed to train indigenous personnel in Papua and New Guinea as engineers. The time is fast approaching when these people, in conjuction with Europeans, must be given responsibility in the administration of their own affairs. Roads are of paramount importance in the economy of New Guinea. I should like to know’ what road making facilities are available in Papua and New Guinea. Are stone crushing plants available so that roads with reasonable surfaces may be laid?
Air communications play a most important part in the development of New Guinea. The rich areas of the Eastern Highlands are at this stage comparatively untapped. Tea growing is either taking place or is about to take place. Coffee is grown and a passionfruit pulping plant has been build at Goroka. Whilst the roads are poor, the transport of products of the Eastern Highlands must be undertaken by air to the seaboard towns. I suggest that the Administration should consider embarking upon the selection of members of the indigenous population to be trained, in the not too distant future, as air pilots and navigators. What is the situation in regard to decimal currency? This is another problem that must soon be faced by the Administration. For the most part, the people of Papua and New
Guinea recognise the shilling as a form of currency. With the change over to take place-
Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I wish to refer to Division No. 896 - Miscellaneous Services. In his report for the year ended 30th June 1964 the AuditorGeneral directed attention to the present transitional stage of Papua and New Guinea. He stated -
Section 8 of the Act provides that both Territories shall continue to be Territories under the authority of the Commonwealth and the identity and status of Papua as a Possession of the Crown and the identity and status of the Territory of New Guinea as a trust Territory shall continue to be maintained.
The Act referred to is the Papua and New Guinea Act 1949-1963. The AuditorGeneral continued -
In accordance with section 1 1 there shall be expended in each year, upon the administration, welfare and development of the Territory of New Guinea, an amount which is not less than the total amount of public revenue raised during the year in respect of that Territory.
Receipts from public revenues of the Territories are available for expenditure and a grant to the Administration towards expenses is made by the Commonwealth.
The grant has been audited, and the figures set out in the Auditor-General’s report agree with the figures contained in the Estimates. I have noted that in addition to the grant, in 1963 the Department of Works spent £2,637,534 and the Department of Civil Aviation spent £1,187,069 in the Territory. The figure for the Department of Works includes £1,482,275 capital expenditure, of which £416,086 was spent on behalf of the Department of Civil Aviation. Can the Minister inform the Committee what was the total expenditure in Papua and New Guinea last year, including the additional amounts to which the Auditor-General has referred? Is there to be an allocation to Papua and New Guinea in addition to the grant which is shown in the Estimates? Can the Minister inform the Committee what public revenue is raised in New Guinea? How is the ratio of expenditure as provided for in the Act being maintained? Papua and New Guinea is -going through a period of transition towards, we are told by the Government, self-government and indepen dence. To what degree is that trend reflected in the revenue collected and in the moneys expended in the Territory? What is the proportion of Australia’s contribution to Papua and New Guinea to the public revenue raised in the Territory, which is now administered by the House of Assembly and provided by Australian taxpayers?
.- I wish to refer to the appropriation of £28,496,000 to be granted to the Administration of Papua and New Guinea. It seems to me that the members of this Parliament must be simple minded people because they approve of the appropriation of a sum ot over £28 million, credit it to the Administration of Papua and New Guinea and leave it to the Administration to spend it. Few members of this Parliament know how the money is spent. We do not know whether it is spent wisely or foolishly, whether it is spent broadly in the interests of the Territory or whether the natives are getting a fair measure of benefit from the expenditure. I often wonder for how much longer this state of affairs can continue. I assume that next year the appropriation will increase by about £5 million and we will be asked to approve of a grant of about £33 million to the Territory. I am aware that a new parliamentary institution called the House of Assembly has been established in New Guinea. When the legislation to provide for its institution was being passed by this Parliament, I said that it was not a House of Parliament, but was only the semblance of a parliament. It could, not vote money for any purpose, unless the vote was approved by the Department of Territories and this Parliament. That situation continues to exist.
We know very little about how the appropriation for the Territory is spent. We know that each year about £12 million is spent in Canberra and the Australian Capital Territory. We can see how that money is spent by walking around Canberra. We can see whether we are getting value for our money. But no-one in this Parliament has even a remote idea about how the money is being spent in New Guinea. I think that the time has arrived for the appointment of a special committee to inspect the works being carried out in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, a committee that would go there periodically, perhaps quarterly, and examine all the work that is done with this £28 million and at the same time make inspections in respect of the welfare provided for the natives. When we consider the assistance given by Australia it must already have dawned on some of the natives of Papua and New Guinea that this arrangement cannot carry on indefinitely. I refer to the arrangement under which the natives themselves provide approximately £2 million, perhaps by way of taxation and the payment of certain charges, while the people of the Commonwealth are pouring money at the rate of £28 million a year into their territories.
I think that the first thing we should do in any country such as Papua and New Guinea is to see that the food supplies are adequate. The point of commencement should be the development of the rural areas. There must be a certain amount of country in the Territory that can be developed for cropping and pastures in some way and the natives should be trained to take an interest in it. They should be trained in the farming industry. We have many good practical farmers in Australia and it is a wonder to me that the Government or the Administration has not obtained from Australia a number of good practical farmers and appointed them to the Territory for a period of three or four years just for the purpose of training the natives to plough the fields, to sow the seeds and to engage in harvesting.
One of the problems for the atives, of course, is to get sufficient food throughout the whole year. They have good periods and they have lean periods. Food processing and food preservation have not been carried out to the extent, perhaps, that they should over the years. I am satisfied that sugar can be grown in Papua and New Guinea and if that is so there is no reason why the natives could not have a small sugar mill for their own purposes. They can brew beer of course, but how that is going to advance Papua and New Guinea I do not know. They can do other things, perhaps. Of course they can grow peanuts and they could send them to the market in Australia to be sold in competition with the peanuts grown at Kingaroy and on the Atherton Tableland. But where that is done to any serious extent and where it affects an Australian industry 1 think there would be a very hurried move to have it terminated.
– Do you think that that is foot rot?
– It may be foot rot but it is tommy rot as far as I am concerned. When I see reports from members of such a committee from other countries I ask myself these questions: Have they a universal 40-hour week in their own country? Have they the social services that we have here? Have they the living standard that we have? Have they the nutritional food that is available to us here? If the answer to those questions is “ No “ then I would not be guided by one word in their report. In order to get a satisfactory inspection of conditions in Papua and New Guinea you would need persons who enjoy a living standard higher than we enjoy in Australia. I am speaking in this manner because I can see that later there will be a trend to obtain improvements in Papua and New Guinea on the part of the natives and, finally, they will have the same living conditions as we enjoy in the Commonwealth. Those people will have everything that we have here. If we are left alone we will see that they get that in due course.
I listened with interest to what . Senator McClelland had to say about a reporter in
Papua and New Guinea. I had some knowledge of those incidents that he referred to and of members of the native police there. I think there was a strike because of the food that these men were provided with and because of the poor clothing and poor housing conditions. When we read of these things we say to ourselves: “ How in the name of goodness did the Administration allow this to be brought about? “ Members of the native police force in Papua and New Guinea do work that is comparable with that carried out by the police officers in the Commonwealth. You cannot distinguish the work done here from that done in Papua and New Guinea. Surely members of the force in the Territory should at least be well clothed, well fed and well housed. If their complaint was genuine it was certainly an affront to the Administration.
I am sorry to say that I have formed the opinion that a slave outlook is developing in Papua and New Guinea of recent years. By that I mean that some people wish to regard the indigenous people of the territories as nothing more than slaves and if they can possibly mete out treatment to the white working population that they can to the indigenous people then unhesitatingly they will do so. 1 will relate to honorable senators a factual case. I am not reminiscing when dealing with this subject.
– My case was factual also.
– I know that because otherwise you would not have referred to it. I want to mention a case of a man, his wife and five young children who were living about 30 miles from Port Moresby. The father was employed making roads in the area and had worked there for so long that he was entitled to 3± months long service leave. He decided to take his leave and this was duly noted and approved by the Administration. He and his family then left and settled in Townsville. Just on the point of expiry of the 3i months, two days before he was due to return to Port Moresby to resume his road making work, he received a telegram from the Administration sacking him immediately - dismissing him from the service of the Administration. Well, Mr. Chairman, we on this side of the chamber put the matter in this way: The man was married and had five children. He had lived for a long period in New Guinea. He had saved money and had gone down to Townsville for a holiday. How rauch money would he have at the end of three and a half months? It would all have been spent on his wife and children. He would not be able to keep his children out of the milk bars and ice cream shops. He was left destitute. It was not long before he received a letter from the Administration to the effect that its officers had invaded his residence, collected his goods and chattels and his furniture and removed them to Port Moresby. The Administration gave him an instruction to have his furniture shifted out of the store as early as possible. It was then that I came into the picture. I went on my bended knee to Mr. Hasluck and to the present Minister for Territories to ask them, at least, to have his furniture moved to Townsville.
– What nationality was this man?
– He was a white man. If you want to interview him I will give you his name and address in Queensland. He will have a vote in the coming Senate election. He is in employment again. He is quite capable of operating road-making machinery and therefore was not out of work for very long. I will let you have his name and address. As a matter of fact if any honorable senator wishes to examine the file I have on this matter I will make it available to him. I have asked the present Minister for Territories to look into the matter to see what can be done to correct the injustice that has been perpetrated.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I can say very little about the last topic raised by Senator Benn. I understand that the honorable senator has already approached Mr. Hasluck and the present Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes). I would not be” prepared at the moment to accept that the full story on this matter has been told here, or that either Mr. Hasluck, Mr. Barnes or the Administration is as completely unjust or as arbitrary as one might be led to believe after listening only to what Senator Benn has said. I should like to know why the man was away - whether he had leave or not. From what Senator Benn has said obviously the man was occupying a government residence. Was his rent paid? AH these matters have to be looked into and apparently have been looked into by the relevant Ministers.
Senator McClelland and Senator Benn raised the subject of police unrest some time ago. Let my say at once that the pay and conditions of the native police are the same as the pay and conditions of the Pacific Islands Regiment; there is no difference between the two. There is no doubt that the quarters of the Pacific Islands Regiment are better than those of the police, but there is also no doubt that an improvement in the quarters of the police is being progressively brought about. You cannot just wave a wand and make the quarters of the police equal to those of the Pacific Islands Regiment. The main cause of trouble in one section of the police appeared to be that the men concerned had been promised that uniforms would be supplied to them by a certain date. The Department of Supply could not supply the uniforms by that date and the police thought they had been let down. That, coupled with the fact that one consignment of tinned meat was bad, led to an outbreak there. Apparently there was no trouble elsewhere. Reports from Goroka, Madang and Lae indicated that in those places there was no dissatisfaction although inquiries were being made about when the new police uniforms would be made available.
Senator Benn referred to the teaching of agriculture to natives and suggested that perhaps farmers from Australia could be sent to New Guinea. I do not know that farmers suddenly transferred from Australia to New Guinea would be able to teach practical farming methods. A wheat farmer from the plains of Australia would not necessarily know very much about the proper agricultural practices in the mountainranges of New Guinea, where the climate is so different. It may well be that in some parts of Queensland conditions are similar to those in New Guinea. But in fact a good deal is being done to teach agriculture to people living in the Territory. By way of illustration, during 1962-63 the staff engaged on extension work - the spreading of agricultural knowledge among the indigenous people - included 175 professional and subproffessional officers, 38 auxiliary division officers and 487 trained and partly trained indigenous assistants. Of these 114, 5 and 293 respectively were engaged in actual agricultural extension work in the trust Territory.
Agricultural training is going on and there are approved training courses. A full agrisultural diploma course, with intermediate certificate entry standard, is to be given at Vudal Agricultural College which is being built near Keravat in the New Britain district. This college will commence receiving students this year and will be able to give the sort of on-the-spot training which, quite rightly, Senator Benn believes should be given. Approval has been given for a twoyear sub-diploma certificate course including both theoretical and practical instruction in agriculture, botany, plant pests and diseases, agricultural economics, farming mathematics and English expression. Some students who began this course at Mageri Agricultural Training Centre have now been transferred to the Popondetta Agricultural Training Institute which was completed early in 1963. There are now 44 students there, including six from New Guinea. Other similar courses are in operation in the Territory.
The point is that action is being taken along the general lines that Senator Benn mentioned, perhaps not precisely in the way he suggested. Senator McClelland inquired about the training of indigenous people for road-making work. There are technical secondary schools at which the indigenous people are, I am informed, being trained to handle road-making machinery such as graders. They are trained also in the maintenance of this equipment and this work will no doubt be extended. I am not sure, but I think this is the type of practical engineering work which Senator McClelland had in mind.
I hope I understood Senator Cooke’s point correctly. I think he wanted to know how much revenue was actually raised in Papua and New Guinea as distinct from the money supplied by Australia to the Territory. Last year £11,376,000 was raised in Papua and New Guinea and the estimate for 1964-65 is £12,704,000. Off hand, I cannot give the honorable senator the exact ratio between the amount of revenue raised in the Territory and the sum shown in the present Estimates. I have not worked it out in my head, but with the knowledge of the sum total of internal revenue raised in the Territory the ratio can easily be worked out by the honorable senator. I do not know of any moneys expended in New Guinea other than those mentioned by Senator Cooke. Possibly some money spent on the Pacific Islands Regiment would come from Army sources. There is a very small Naval establishment, the money for which would come from the Naval vote.
– Paragraph 232 on page 177 of the Auditor-General’s report refers to additional revenue expended last year amounting to several millions.
– You mentioned that.
– Would that be additional to the amount you have just mentioned?
– Possibly it would be. Some expenditure for the Department of Works would come from the vote for the Department of Territories, some from the vote for the Department of the Army, some from the vote relating to lighthouses, and some from the vote for the Department of Civil Aviation. It is difficult to dissect the expenditure exactly, but I shall ask the officers of the Department lo try to do so. If the honorable senator will write me a letter 1 shall ask the officers of the Department to make a dissection and I shall let him have it. I move -
That the question be now put.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Department of Civil Aviation
Proposed expenditure, £20,071,000.
– Mr. Chairman, at the outset I desire to thank the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) and the officers of his Department for the excellent report that they have submitted for the Department for the year 1963-64. There is a fund of information contained in it. It is a great credit to the officers who compiled it. I have found much pleasure in reading it. I only wish that other reports could be submitted in a like manner.
Some time ago I asked the Minister when the report for Trans-Australia Air lines would be available. It is most unfair to ask honorable senators to discuss the estimates for the Department’ of Civil Aviation without having the report of T.A.A. before them because there would be certain matters in the report which would be of importance, as far as the nation’s airlines are concerned. At the time I asked the question of the Minister he informed me that the report was in the hands of the printer. I went through the reports that have been presented under statutory requirements of the Parliament and I counted about 47. Another 3 or 4 reports were presented today. But the report of T.A.A., in which I am most interested, has not as yet been presented.
We have now passed the middle of October. When one looks at the contents of previous reports of T.A.A., surely to goodness it should not take the officers of that organisation too long to prepare the report for 1963-64. I ask the Minister, as far as he is able, to see that the report of this organisation is tabled as soon as possible.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– I refer to Division No. .135 - Administrative - and I propose (o make some criticism of the Minister’s decision - it is his decision - to increase air fares by 6 per cent. Under regulation 106 of the Air Navigation Regulations the Minister must approve any proposed increase in fares. This is a most unfortunate time for the Minister to agree to an increase. It is true, as he will rightly say, that both airlines requested an increase in fares. I am not concerned about any request that Trans-Australia Airlines may make because, in my view, it is punch drunk and docs not require much persuasion to agree to anything. The procedures adopted by Ansett-A.N.A. are a matter for the company itself, but from the meagre reports one gets it is practically impossible for a layman to know what is going on.
According to the report of the Australian National Airlines Commission for 1962-63, which is the latest report available, T.A.A. earned £14.8 million in passenger fares and charters and had a total revenue of £18.7 million. In 1963-64 revenue’ would have increased to between £20 million and £21 million. I base those figures on the Minister’s assertion that business this year will increase by at least 124 per cent. No doubt the increase in 1963-64 would have been about the same. This means that in the current year, T.A.A. would have earned, in round figures, an additional £2 million from passenger revenue or an additional £2.5 million from all sources if there were no increase in fares.
If you look at the revenue side of the ledger you must also look at the expenditure side. There are, one can say, three main avenues of increased expenditure and one that can be placed in another category. I shall mention that because according to the report of the Department of Civil Aviation the Minister has stipulated that this year T.A.A. must increase its return to the Government to 71 per cent. I have no quarrel with that because, in round figures, it represents about £35,000, which is extremely small in comparison to the amounts with which we are now dealing. Wage and salary increases will account for the largest part of the increased costs. The Chairman of the Australian National Airlines Commission has stated that increased wages and salaries will cost T.A.A. £800,000. I will not argue with that figure because no one would know the position better than he does. As a result of the implementation of the bill that we passed earlier today, air navigation charges will increase by 10 per cent. Last year T.A.A. paid £468.000 in air navigation charges - I have no quarrel with that - and this year, in view of the increased traffic that the Minister expects to be carried, an additional £50,000 will be paid.
Now we come to something on which I cannot be as precise as I have been. I refer to the cost of running the additional services necessary to cope with the expanded traffic. As I have said, I cannot make a precise estimation on this aspect because the 12± per cent, increase in passenger traffic and the 9 per cent, increase which the Minister expects in freight traffic will provide an opportunity for the better utilisation of aircraft for both passengers and freight. Therefore, there will be a higher load factor. However, to be fair to my argument 1 have worked on the basis of a 12i per cent, increase in costs which will add at least £500,000 to the airline’s outgoings.
If we list the figures that I have mentioned - they are based on those cited by Sir Giles Chippindall who, of course, should know the position - we have £800,000 for increased wages and salaries, plus £50,000 for air navigation charges, plus £500,000 to cope with the 12i per cent, increase in traffic, plus even the £35,000 which is represented by the additional i per cent, that the Minister has said T.A.A. must pay in taxation next year. This makes a total of £1.38 million. To offset that, there will be an increase of £2.5 million in the income received by T.A.A. when compared with the current year’s operations.
If my figures are correct - I believe that they are - T.A.A. next year, even without any increased fares, would have made between £1 million and £1.25 million additional profit. I am not opposed to T.A.A. making a profit. I believe that an industry run by this nation should stand on its own feet, lt should provide a service that is at least as good as, if not better than, that provided by its competitors. It should not be a drain on the taxpayers. It should pay its own way. I do not complain about the 7± per cent, profit that the Minister has said T.A.A. should show on its capital investment, but I do not think that a government instrumentality such as this should be used to jack up fares when, according to the figures that I have taken out, there is no necessity for this.
I am not worried about Ansett-A.N.A. That is a private concern. If Mr. Ansett wants to show 10 per cent, profit overall for his shareholders, that is his concern, but I do not think that T.A.A., which is a government undertaking, should be allowed to charge excessive fares. A 6 per cent, increase in fares will give T.A.A. an extra £1 million. I have attempted to be fair with these figures. Over the years I have done everything I can to help T.A.A., because I believe in it, as honorable senators know. There is no need to make excuses for that, and I do not do so, but I believe that the Government is abandoning a vital principle which should be applied to an industry such as this which is owned by the nation. If the Government is just going to allow T.A.A. to jack up its prices, the sooner it goes to a private concern the better. This is against the whole principle of its establishment. As a layman I have tried to study the profit and loss accounts, and I am just amazed at what I see. Certain loans are made to T.A.A. for the purchase of new aircraft. 1 want it to be a success but I think it is wrong in principle that the Minister should have given his permission-
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– 1 am concerned about one aspect of civil aviation. I should like the Minister to give me some information about it, if he will. We all know the wonderful record of civil aviation in Australia. Since 1953 there have been only two accidents involving loss of life on the major air services, although 26 million passengers have been carried and about 16.000 million passenger miles have been flown. The aircraft employed on these services have flown about 3 million miles. With only two accidents, that is a magnificent record.
I was interested to read and somewhat concerned to know of the number of accidents to light aircraft. It is understandable that light single engined aircraft have not the same safety margin. On the average, over the past five years there have been about 30 crop dusting accidents each year. There have been more accidents in some years than in others and there have been quite a number of fatalities. These accidents are discussed in the report of the Department of Civil Aviation. The Minister, I know, is not trying to hide anything. The information is all here to be read, but possibly the public does not know these things. I notice that in two accidents the under-strut of the wing of the aircraft gave way. This seems to me to be an elementary sort of thing and perhaps with better supervision the accidents might not have occurred. What are the qualifications for pilots of crop dusting aircraft? Crop dusting from the air is a major industry today. I understand that about 100,000 miles have been flown by crop dusting machines this year. Will the Minister say whether or not there is any limit on the hours that these men may work?
Are their qualifications high enough for the work? is there any stipulation as to the age at which they must retire from the industry? What sort of maintenance have the crop dusting companies to provide? Some of the aerodromes from which they operate arc in outlying country areas. Is it possible that at these places the mechanical facilities and technical skill necessary to keep the aircraft in order for this heavy work are not available? ls it possible that these conditions exist even at Bankstown from which crop dusting aircraft leave to service areas surrounding Sydney? 1 am interested in this matter, because I knew two young men who were killed in crop dusting accidents. 1. know their families, who are very concerned. They asked me especially to mention this matter during the debate on the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation.
I should like to ask the Minister a few questions about his attitude on the general situation arising from the Government’s policy of two airlines on the major trunk routes. The present Minister and the previous Minister have always said that they favoured two airlines on the major trunk routes throughout the Commonwealth.
– 1 do not know how the honorable senator can connect his remarks on the two airline system with the proposed vote under discussion.
– The matter is covered by “ Administration “. The M inister and most honorable senators opposite talk about the two airline policy. We of the Australian Labour Party are reasonably happy about that, because the Government admits that at least half of the air services should be socialised. Honorable senators opposite agree with that.
– Not necessarily.
– The Minister has said that we will have a socialised line and a privately owned line. That is not bad progress over a few years. We have the services half socialised. To that extent we are happy. The point I am getting to is this: Can the Minister visualise a situation wherein Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. not only could own and control its interstate lines but also could gobble up all the intrastate private lines over a period? In recent months it has shown that it is anxious to do that. If that situation develops, if the
Ansett organisation owns all of the smaller ones after having bought the shares, and if T.A.A. has only its interstate services, will that comply with the two airline policy, in foe Government’s view?
– Does the honorable senator know anything about intrastate air services in Tasmania?
– No, I do not, really. I have not yet heard any Tasmanian senators on the subject. I am talking about the position in New South Wales and the general principle involved. If that situation id develop over the next few years, would that be in accordance with the Government’s policy of two airlines for Australia?
There is another feature which has not been mentioned much in the Senate, namely the development of freight services. I should like the Minister to tell me what is the policy regarding freight services. If T may go outside the scope of the Estimates to say a few words, the New South Wales Government had a broader interest than the dispute between Airlines of New South Wales Pty. Ltd. and East-West Airlines Ltd.
– It might be out of order to discuss that.
– Well, I shall conclude on that. The New South Wales Government has to consider the general transport situation, involving its own transport services, including train services and bus services. I return to my original question and ask the Minister whether he will clear tip that matter. His explanation would be of interest to the general public.
.- I shall conclude the case that I submitted earlier by referring to the report of the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) for 1963-64. In the introduction to the report, the Minister stated -
In the domestic airline industry, air traffic increased by 11.2 per cent, in 1963, and in the first quarter of 1964, was 18.9 per cent, higher (ban for the same quarter of 1963. Preliminary figures for the second quarter of 1964 show that this growth is continuing. Features of the first Quarter of 1964 were a 21 per cent, increase over Mie same quarter for 1963 in passenger traffic - the highest increase recorded since the quarter ended December, 1959 - and a most encouraging 9.3 per cent, growth in air freight.
The next page of the report states -
Despite the financial success of the year just ended, prospects for the coming year have been affected by the rising cost of wages and salaries for Increased operating and traffic staff. As a result, the domestic airlines, which have absorbed all cost increases since May, 1960, without major fare inertia ses, were forced to seek approval for a 6 per cent, increase in passenger fares. It is pleasing, however, to record that notwithstanding this increase, the average Australian inter-capital city fares of 6.83d. per passenger mile for first class and 5.54d. for tourist class are still substantially lower Ulan those in most other countries of the world.
I have quoted what the Chairman of the Australian National Airlines Commission, Sir Giles Chippindall, has said to the effect that the operating costs of Trans-Australia Airlines in the current year will total f 800,000. So the Minister will have to find another excuse for the increase in fares. Why was an increase necessary? I am not arguing with the statements contained in the Minister’s report. Both airlines sought an increase in fares but the Minister’s explanation does not go all the way. I have not too much faith in part-time boards and commissions and I would not worry too much about what they request. The Minister has the final responsibility in these matters and for the life of me I cannot see that the arguments given in the Minister’s report carry any weight in relation to an increase in fares in view of the figures presented in the report. If there is some other reason for the increase, why was it not stated in the report?
The Minister has stated that the airlines were affected by the rising cost of wages and salaries for increased operating and traffic staff. I have been quite fair and have quoted also the statement of the Chairman of the Commission. I do not say that he was wrong. However, I think the principles underlying a national industry are broken down when, as in this case, we have to bump up air fares irrespective of whether the increase is sought by the Commission running the national airline, simply to satisfy apparently other people in the industry. I repeat that I have no quarrel with the private airline if it wants to increase its fares by 6 per cent, or more. Under our democratic system, a private operator has a perfect right to do that. But I do not think the Government has to follow that lead with the national airline. I would like to know the reasons why the fares were increased. There must be reasons other than those printed in the report on civil aviation for 1963-64.
Senator 1 Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland) [8.26]. - I direct my remarks to Division No. 144 - Development of Civil Aviation, item 06, Aerodromes - Development grant. The appropriation last year was £375,000 and actual expenditure was £368,009. The proposed vote for this year is £500,000. I should be interested to have more information about this item. In the development of Australia, particularly of a large State such as my own State of Queensland, the provision of all-weather airstrips for civil aviation is of tremendous importance. I know the Government wants to develop northern Australia including the north of Queensland. If we want families to live there, the provision of aircraft and air services is essential. I pay tribute to the work that has been done by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) and his predecessor, Senator Paltridge. What are the proposals for the future? I am pleased to note that the proposed vote is larger than the appropriation last year. As I have said, the construction of all-weather airstrips and the aviation link between all parts of our great continent are of tremendous importance to those who go into the outback areas. We all owe a great debt of gratitude to those who are working for the development of Australia through aviation.
.- I wish to refer to Division No. 144 - Development of Civil Aviation, item 06, Aerodromes - Development grant. I compliment the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) and the previous Minister, Senator Paltridge, on the annual report on civil aviation for 1963-64. In the section dealing with aerodromes I read with great interest this statement -
Construction work has started on the three major projects involved in the Department’s fiveyear program to develop Commonwealth-owned aerodromes throughout Australia and Papua/New Guinea.
Does that developmental grant include an allocation towards the construction of the new international and domestic airport at Tullamarine? Has any provision been made for the necessary alterations to the alternative airport at Mangalore? In the debate on the estimates for the Department of Territories, honorable senators opposite referred to the necessity for the expansion of air services from Australia to Papua and
New Guinea. In the same section of the report I read of the work being carried out on the Lae and Mount Hagen aerodromes. That shows that the Department of Civil Aviation is well aware of the increase in air traffic and is endeavouring to deal with the problem. In so doing it is helping tremendously in the development of Papua and New Guinea in accordance with the overall plan of the Department of Territories and the Administration. I should like to know whether the proposed grant for development embraces work in Papua and New Guinea as well as in Australia.
– I apologise to honorable senators for the fact that we have not before us the annual report of TransAustralia Airlines. I shall do my best to see that in future it is available to honorable senators when they are discussing the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation. It should be here. Indeed, all annual reports should be available to honorable senators when they are discussing the Estimates. It so happens that the Auditor-General’s supplementary report was made available today. So, although T.A.A. was not able to have its annual report ready, the relevant figures may be found in the Auditor-General’s supplementary report. As those figures are now public property, I think it is quite fair for me to discuss them.
Senator Kennelly has always interested himself in the development of T.A.A. Indeed, he has adopted a somewhat broader approach than have some of his colleagues on the other side of the chamber. He joins with me in expressing the belief that a government enterprise should be managed efficiently, should be able to pay taxes like anybody else and should be able to declare a normal dividend. That has been done in the case of T.A.A.
– It was not done when Labour was in office.
– I admit that it took us a while to get the airline on its feet. It is now an efficient airline. Senator Kennelly referred to the increase of 6 per cent, in air fares and asked why I had approved it. The Auditor-General’s report discloses that the net operating profit of T.A.A. for 1963-64 was £640,691 and that after payment of taxes and a dividend of 7 per cent, a sum of approximately £100,000 was left swinging.
The figures which were submitted to me by the two major airlines and which were substantiated by my Department showed that following the increase in the basic wage operating costs would rise by a little over £800,000 with the result that in the current year there would have been a deficit of £700,000. So we took into account the deficit of £700,000 and the estimated additional revenue and the estimated rise in costs, and reached the conclusion that to pay a dividend of 7i per cent, in the current year an increase of 6 per cent, in air fares would be needed. The figures were carefully checked by my Department. Remembering that we still have one of the cheapest air services in the world and the fact that T.A.A. wishes to maintain its position. I approved the increase. “That covers the matter raised by the honorable senator.
– Does it?
– I am afraid the honorable senator was very much in error When he said that the income of Trans-Australia Airlines would rise by £2.5 million in the current year.
– I was quoting your figures.
– The honorable senator said it would cost half a million pounds to carry the estimated additional traffic.
– Tell us how much it will cost.
– I am giving the facts as they have been presented to me. Quite frankly, the honorable senator will not be able to refute them. Senator Ormonde referred to crop dusting, which is relatively new in Australia. For a period there was a great increase in the number of accidents to aircraft engaged in crop dusting. My Department was greatly concerned about the position. Special consideration was given lo certificates for pilots engaged in this work, with the result that the standard required by the Department has been raised considerably. Anybody who has seen this work done will realise the difficulties that are involved. I recall seeing a demonstration at
Bankstown. The aircraft flew over the aerodrome, released superphosphate and then turned back into the cloud of dust with the result that the pilot, one might say, virtually lost his whereabouts.
At one stage 40 of one type of aircraft were grounded. The life of a particular part which was causing most of the trouble had been fixed at about 1,000 hours. So in order to be serviced properly this particular type of aircraft had to have a new part installed every 1,000 hours. However, experience showed that for aircraft engaged in crop dusting that period of use was too long. In the light of experience it was suggested that the part should be replaced every 400 hours, but because of the hazards experienced in this particular industry the Department of Civil Aviation decided that it must be replaced every 200 hours. That is the sort of thing we are doing to reduce the number of accidents to crop dusting aircraft. I am very happy to be able to say that we have been able to reduce the number of accidents by 50 per cent, since we commenced to take these strict measures. The machines are improving, of course, as the makers understand the hazards and difficulties of the industry.
– Is a limit imposed on the load?
– Yes. I think a limit is imposed which varies according to the type of aircraft which is used.
– Has not the Minister found that high tension wires are a major cause of accidents?
– Yes; and after I observed the demonstration I could understand why they are. After an aircraft has co.me down over a crop or an orchard and released its spray or fertiliser, should it turn back into the cloud it has created, on a day that is free of wind, high tension wires may be obscured from the pilot’s view. It is one of the hazards.
– And it is very low flying:
– Yes. Senator Ormonde raised some interesting points about the Government’s two airlines policy. He said that one airline is a socialised airline. I was rather interested in his reasoning. He said that the Government had gone half way towards socialism by supporting a government-owned airline under a two airlines policy. When this Government came into office it was faced with a fait accompli, because the two airlines were already operating. At that time the government airline was busily engaged in driving the private enterprise airline out of the air so that only one airline would remain. We thought it proper to develop a two airlines system, so that the two airlines, using the same type of equipment, would compete for passengers on the same routes. It would therefore be necessary for them to attract passengers by providing good services, and in my view this policy has proved to be a pretty good thing for the air travellers of Australia. I believe that it is one of the most popular policies that this Government has introduced.
Senator Ormonde referred to the ontraffic that flows from intrastate air routes. It is not as large as one would imagine; it is not as large as I would have thought before I examined the matter. I have found that intrastate airlines carry to the capital cities many passengers who want to travel only to the capital cities and stay there. Some passengers who travel on intrastate airlines proceed from the capital cities and if one airline were to gain all that business it would obtain an advantage. Interestingly enough, passengers on an intrastate airline owned by private enterprise may travel on from the capital city in an aircraft owned by the government airline, or vice versa. In New South Wales Trans-Australia Airlines receives on-traffic from an intrastate airline, and Ansett-A.N.A. also receives ontraffic from an intrastate airline. In Queensland quite an amount of on-traffic comes from intrastate to T.A.A. In the Northern Territory on-traffic arrives at Darwin from Alice Springs and may use either airline to travel from Darwin. The honorable senator has raised a good point and the position should be watched to see that one airline does not gain an advantage in on-traffic business.
Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin referred to the appropriation of £500,000 for the development of aerodromes. Some of this money is provided for reimbursement to local government authorities for expenditure on the development of locally owned aerodromes, on a 50-50 basis. I refer to the local ownership policy which has been established for some time. It is working very well because the local people and the local authorities work very hard to keep their aerodromes in order and to maintain their development. The expenses are shared 50-50 in the development and maintenance of aerodromes which are covered by the local ownership plan.
Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
.- I am rather amazed at the answer given by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty). He said that he approved of a 6 per cent, rise in fares because TransAustralia Airlines showed a profit of £X, after providing for taxes, and because of the increased amount of expenditure that T.A.A. had incurred - a figure we agreed upon. However,, the Minister did not seem to agree with his own figures. In the report by the Minister for Civil Aviation it is stated that air traffic engaged in by T.A.A. should increase by 121 per cent, in the current year. The Minister did not say a word about that. Is the Minister seeking to forget about the estimated increase in income of about £2 million? He queried my figure of £500,000. Very well. Call it £1 million, because the facts are still on my side. The Minister said - in a very polite way, it is true - that I am well out in my figures; that I am a bit light - by about £500,000. I do not wish to be slangy, but that is the way I want to put it. I will give the Minister £1 million in. I am a very generous person in this debate. Without any increase in fares the airline would still gain over £750,000.
If the Minister wishes, I can turn up a lot more figures. I have found an extremely interesting page in the annual report. TransAustralia Airlines started with assets of £7i million. The Minister should ensure that the accountant who prepares the figures is paid an extremely high sum, because he seems to be adept at losing millions of pounds. The Minister has said that there is about £100,000 left over.
– It is £115,000.
– That is the amount left after taxes and payment of all other expenses, which I believe ought to be paid. But the Minister does not take cognisance of the other side; he cannot have h both ways. The Minister’s report states that it is estimated that T.A.A. ‘s business will increase by about 12? per cent, in the current year. Nobody can argue that Hi per cent, is not one-eighth. As T.A.A.’s passenger revenue was £16 million, the increased revenue will be about £2 million. So at least I think, with great respect, that the Minister should inform the people of Australia about this matter and should put up a much better case than he has presented. 1 think, with respect and without wanting to be hurtful to the Minister, that it was not a fair case that he tried to present concerning this situation because he told us only a part of the story.
– There might not be an answer.
– Well, 1 do not want to be unfair, but I am certain that these people did not want the money. I do not know what they are going to do with it. If I was in the Minister’s position 1 would not let them off with a payment at the rate of 71 per cent. 1 would say to them: “ Remember that you once borrowed £7.5 million from the nation to start the show. Not only had you better pay the interest, but you had better give us back a bit of the principal.” I am not as fortunate as the Minister. The relevant figures might not be in the report. But if the Minister looks at page 33 of the last report of this body, three parts down the page he will see particulars of its assets. One would say - and I think I am justified in saying - that whoever is the accountant for this firm is worth a lot of money. If it were my company I would think nothing of giving him £20,000 a year if I had to pay tax only at the rate the Minister mentioned.
I doubt very much whether private interests can get away with this sort of accounting. I think the taxation officials of this country are very able people and they would not let firms get away with what this company is allowed to get away with. I have no great reason to stand up here and rubbish this company but I do feel that the Minister is not justified in allowing T.A.A. to increase fares by 6 per cent. I reiterate that I do not care whether Ansett increases fares by 10 per cent. That will not worry me one iota. Under the law, Ansett-A.N.A. can charge what it likes. But we have a responsibility to the taxpayers. We hear that statement pretty often in this chamber. I think we heard it a good deal this afternoon, and when all is said and done, we do have such a responsibility. I do not think we are entitled to fleece them as we have fleeced them. With respect to the Minister I say that bis answer was most unsatisfactory. I think he will admit that himself. He has been in business and I am certain it would not satisfy him if his accountant came along and gave him the sort of explanation that he has given us. I again say that T.A.A. does not want this money. It does not know what it is going to do with the extra £1 million that it will get from the 6 per cent, increase in fares. Whoever is the accountant for the company will have to rack his brains to find out where he is going to put the money because, over the years, the company has put a lot away.
– When my time ran out I was half way through dealing with this particular aspect. I am dealing with the comments of Senator Anderson and Senator Breen on the sum of £500,000 which is additional to the reimbursement to local authorities. A great amount of this money will be spent this year in bringing many aerodromes up to Fokker Friendship standard. More and more of these rural aerodromes are being brought up to that standard. The estimated increases are attributed to the following factors. An increasing number of local authorities are seeking to complete the sealing of their F.27 runways to give all weather operations and reduce day to day management. The programme includes 32 aerodromes where the councils have in hand, in whole or in part, the full sealing of runways and includes 16 in New South Wales, 16 in Queensland and 1 in Victoria. This work totals £480,000 in authorisation. Eleven aerodromes involving 100 per cent, pre-transfer works are included in the programme. The programme also provides for the first local ownership aerodrome to be raised to Viscount standard under the 10::1 ownership plan at Proserpine at a cost of £100,000.
Whilst I am on my feet I could perhaps briefly reply to the last comment made by Senator Kennelly. I point out to him that T.A.A. submits its accounts to the Commissioner of Taxation and I assure him that the Taxation Branch does not let anybody get away with anything. The company submits these accounts to the Taxation Commissioner and to show the honorable senator just how far out his figures are I will cite the profit and loss accounts for 1962-63 and 1963-64. In 1962-63 T.A.A. earned £18,700,000 in revenue and made a profit of £534,000. This year its revenue was £21,000,000, an increase of about £2,250,000 and the net profit was £640,691. It took all that additional money to earn an additional profit of about £100,000.
Order! This afternoon I spoke about the length of the debates on the estimates that we have before us. I want to draw the attention of honorable senators to the fact that we have quite an extensive list of proposed expenditure still to discuss. If we are going to have these lengthy debates it will mean depriving many honorable senators of the opportunity of speaking on some of the points that they desire to raise. There is no doubt, if the present trend continues, that steps will be taken to limit the length of debates. Whilst I am occupying the Chair I want to see that as many honorable senators as possible have an opportunity of speaking. I would like to thank our two lady senators, Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin and Senator Marie Breen, for the short addresses that they have contributed to this debate. The purpose of the debate is not to run through each item exhaustively but to give honorable senators the opportunity to find out the reasons for the expenditure proposed for the coming year.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, I will try to follow the example set by the ladies and be brief. You have allowed a wide field of debate on this important department and I think you were right in doing so. Senator Kennelly has referred to the increase in air fares. Naturally everyone who travels by air would like cheaper fares. However, we have had an increase in air fares. What I want the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) to do is to approach the two major airline companies with a request to cut out what I call this stupid nuisance of ground transport tickets. I would like to see a very slight increase in the air fares and have these ground transport tickets cut out because they cause delay at each airport. So far as Tasmania is concerned, with the introduction of Electra services in the near future, passengers will be spending much longer on the ground than they spend in the air getting from Melbourne to Hobart. Everything should be done by the airlines to speed the passenger and his luggage from the airport to the city terminal. All of us travel a lot and we know the stupid delays that are caused because bus tickets have to be bought. Passengers get on to the bus and the driver comes along and says, “ Tickets please “. A passenger who has not a ticket has to rush back to the office at the terminal, buy a ticket and then rejoin the bus.
Is the honorable senator relating this to any item in the estimates?
– Yes. I am relating it to Division No. 140 - Civil Aviation Facilities. The particular item relates to air route and airway facilities. The bus ticket system is stupid because the airlines are losing money, first by printing the tickets and secondly by employing staff to issue and collect them. In addition, the passengers are being delayed. In Tasmania the airlines are losing more money than in other cities because we have a State Government which exercises price control. The airports at Launceston and Hobart are further from the city than are the airports in most other capital cities, other than Adelaide, but because of price control the charge is only 3s. In the other cities it is 5s. I repeat that this ticket system is a loss to the airways, an inconvenience to the public and is lowering the standard of air travel facilities. I believe that if the Minister were to approach the two civil airlines on this matter common sense might be heeded and the travelling public would be helped.
.- I refer to the subject of airway facilities. I shall be very brief. At page 76 of the report of the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) for 1963-64 reference is made to some of the business concessions that are carried on at airports. It states -
At Melbourne Airport, a photography shop was opened in the terminal building and a drycleaning plant and service depot is being established on the airport. The Department is also considering proposals for the letting of the following- business concessions at Melbourne Airport - a florist shop, a motor car showroom, a diagnostic clinic, and an instrument sales store. A chemist shop has opened at the International Terminal Building at Sydney Airport.
My simple inquiry . to the Minister is whether it will be possible to include amongst the shops that are being installed at the Melbourne airport a men’s hairdressing saloon. I believe that this would be of great convenience to people waiting for aircraft. There is at present a ladies’ hairdresser and I have often thought that there is a need for a men’s hairdresser. It would probably be a good business proposition for such a shop to be installed at the Melbourne airport.
.- i should like to say a few words on Division No. 140, item 02 dealing with air route and airway facilities for which £3 million is to be appropriated. Yesterday 1 asked the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) a question about night landing facilities at certain aerodromes. My question followed a brief statement that the Minister had made some little time earlier. I should like to elaborate this matter a little further. I am hopeful that not only night landing facilities, but also navigational aids will be installed at the airstrip for Thursday Island. The airstrip is on Horn Island which is adjacent to Thursday Island and passengers are taken from the aerodrome across a stretch of water to Thursday Island.
As we all know this area to the north of Australia is subject to monsoonal conditions for a long period each year. I have seen pilots experience difficulty in actually locating this aerodrome. At most of the capital cities pilots experience no problems, comparatively speaking, yet the most modern navigational aids are provided and the Department of Civil Aviation is very careful - and quite properly too - about permitting aircraft to take off and land under certain weather conditions. Nobody would quarrel about that. But a regular air service is the lifestream to Thursday Island. Pilots operating in this area are very careful, and they are extremely good pilots, but they realise that the people depend a great deal on the air service and naturally they want to provide it whenever they can. They do this very often with aircraft that are certainly not modern although they are quite good. To bring these aircraft in is sometimes a tricky and hazardous business. I have seen pilots operating under these conditions. There are very few aerodromes in Australia where navigational aids are more necessary than at Thursday Island. The island is off the northern tip of Australia and it is extremely easy for a pilot not to be absolutely certain of his position. If the Department is considering installing navigational aids at any aerodromes, I appeal to the Minister to consider first the needs of Thursday Island.
I should like to comment briefly on Division No. 144, item 01 in relation to aero clubs. This year the proposed vote for grants to aero clubs is £150,000. This is a very desirable allocation. However, I noticed some time ago that, as a result of the development of jet passenger aircraft, Australian airlines are finding it a problem to obtain pilots to handle these machines. This surprises me very much. We know that it has been necessary to ca’.l applications overseas to obtain pilots.
To a degree aero clubs train young men who desire to make flying their vocation. The only thing that stops many young men from undertaking this training is the high cost that inevitably falls on anybody who desires to learn to fly. Would it not be possible for the Government to increase its grants to aero clubs on the condition that more advanced training be given to young men without their having to pay the huge costs with which they are faced at present. I realise that it is, perhaps, quite a difficult problem. But we want Australian men piloting these modern aircraft because I am satisfied that if they are trained to peak efficiency there are no better flyers in the world. I think that has been amply demonstrated. Those are the two points on which I would ask the Minister to comment briefly.
.- There are two points I want to raise. The first refers to Division No. 135 - Administrative. These are points that have been raised by the Premier of South Australia. They concern the intrastate air routes of South Australia, and the arrival and departure schedules of aircraft in South Australia. What is happening with Airlines of South Australia Pty. Ltd. is a complete repudiation of everything that the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) said about the controversial . issue concerning Airlines of New South Wales Pty. Ltd. and East-West Airlines Ltd. The Minister said: “ We believe in two airline competition.” But we find on intrastate air services in South Australia that there is not a two airline competition; there is a monopoly.
The fact that the Minister has control over intrastate air services in South Australia was mentioned in the debate recently on the motion for the disallowance of the Air Navigation Regulations. South Australia has never exercised the right, which as a State it may have, to control air routes in South Australia, but has left the control to the Federal Government. It. has acknowledged control by the Department of Civil Aviation by virtue of the fact that the Department has to sanction an application which was made by TransAustralia Airlines to operate an intrastate air service in South Australia. Before this Government took office, the Labour Government had T.A.A. operating in competition with Australian National Airways Pty. Ltd. The Minister said this would have led to a monopoly of airlines in Australia, which was contrary to the policy of this Government. That is somewhat correct.
– It is not somewhat correct; it is perfectly correct.
– There are some modifications. The Labour Government fostered government enterprise in the airlines and set up T.A.A. to engage in free competition with an alternative airline service. The Government believes in free competition in every other field of industry, but it does not believe in it so far as airline services are concerned. Because of the efficient administration of T.A.A and because of the support by the Government of its quasi-government airline service, eventually a monopoly would have been established. If we take the Postal Department as an example, there is no suggestion that we should have competition in the delivery of letters. Such an airline, policy would lead, not to a monopoly, as the Minister said but to the establishment of a government department, lt would not be one of the monopolies which Labour opposes and which necessitate the introduc-tion of restrictive trade practices legislation.
In South Australia we find that a two airline intrastate policy has not been carried on. The only reason I can see for that is that the Federal Government has the sole control of the allocation of air routes. Although the Department of Civil Aviation talks about rationalising routes in New South Wales, it is not adopting the same policy in South Australia. One of the questions raised by the Premier of South Australia is: Why cannot T.A.A. operate an intrastate air service in South Australia for the purpose of running in competition with AnsettA.N.A., or dividing the routes in South Australia? Much to my surprise, I have found that Airlines of South Australia is not a subsidised airline, which indicates that it operates on profitable routes. T.A.A. is entitled to a share of these profitable routes.
Another important factor that has been raised is that of on-carriage bookings whereby country passengers book interstate. Because Ansett-A.N.A. has a complete monopoly of intrastate air services in South Australia, it has a decided advantage over T.A.A. so far as on-carriage bookings are concerned. The Minister, in reply to a question I asked, said that T.A.A. had made an application to operate intrastate air services in South Australia. The Premier of South Australia, who has the interests of the State at heart, supported the application, and now has publicly complained that the Department of Civil Aviation will not allow T.A.A. to operate an intrastate air service in South Australia on routes which would not call for a subsidy at all. In view of the Minister’s action in New South Wales and his statement that the Government wants to rationalise air routes, I ask him to apply that policy in South Australia.
The other question I desire to raise comes under Division No. 140, sub-division 1, item 01 - Aerodromes. This is another matter that has been commented on by the Premier of South Australia. While the aerodrome facilities at most of our major airports are insufficient to meet the requirements of the travelling public, they are insufficient only at certain brief periods. This, is brought about by the fact that aircraft belonging to these alleged competing companies arrive and depart at the same time. When the Minister was asked a question on this aspect he said that it was a matter for the airline companies. But the Department of Civil Aviation is providing the runways and the airport facilities for the passengers. Instead of expending money on extensions to these facilities from time to time, if there were a method of regulating the arrival and departure of aircraft it would help to solve the problem.
There are terrific problems at the airports in South Australia, but they occur only for brief periods of the day. We should get away from the requirement that T.A.A. aircraft and Ansett-A.N.A. aircraft must arrive together and take off together. It would suit the travelling public to have alternative timetables. The choking of airport services would be alleviated, and a lot of the congestion that now occurs would disappear. As I have said, the Premier of South Australia has commented on this matter. Although the airline companies have the right to arrange their own schedules, 1 think that the Department of Civil Aviation in view of the amount of money it spends in providing airport facilities, should look into the question and try to get the airline companies to adopt alternative procedures so that aircraft belonging to the two major airlines arrive and depart at different times.
– Senator Marriott raised the question of bus fares between city terminals and airports. This is really not a matter for the Department of Civil Aviation. It is a matter for the airlines themselves. I am sure they will take note of what the honorable senator has said. The practice of charging for this transport is employed all over the world. The increasing cost of transporting people to and from an airport and the diminishing number of people requiring this transport led to the charge being imposed. I am’ sure that the two interstate airlines in Australia are cognisant of the fact that the quicker they can transport passengers and luggage to and from airports the better the service they provide.
Senator O’Byrne mentioned business concessions at Melbourne airport. I can assure him that these concessions are let by tender. They are reviewed regularly and if there is a real need for a men’s hairdresser at Melbourne airport I am sure that one will commence operating there. As yet we have had no suggestion that the demand for a men’s hairdresser is sufficient to warrant the establishment of such a service.
Senator Morris referred to the airport on Horn Island which serves Thursday Island. As 1 told him a few days ago when he raised this matter, we are installing modern facilities and night lighting apparatus on about ten aerodromes a year. I have set inquiries in train to ascertain what priority this airport can claim for this work.
– I raised that matter only on the basis that the squeaking wheel gets the grease.
– I understand that. The honorable senator mentioned the proposed grant of £150,000 to aero and gliding clubs. He put his finger on an important aspect. We have altered our policy and now encourage aero clubs to train pilots for commercial services. Since the war we have had a pretty good pool of Air Force officers from which to draw. It has been of tremendous help to our commercial airline services to have these men trained in the Air Force. But the pool is running dry so we have instituted a scholarship and assistance system to encourage aero clubs to train pilots to the stage at which they can obtain a commercial licence. By this means we shall be able to continue our airline services.
Senator Cavanagh mentioned the position that exists in South Australia. He must have read my newspaper statement on the arrival and departure of aircraft at Adelaide airport at practically the same time, and my comments on the confusion that exists there. I am in complete agreement with the honorable senator. I have approached the airlines on this aspect. As the honorable senator has rightly said, it is very difficult indeed to provide facilities to meet only peak requirements. You have to build big airports to meet peak demands and then you have the facilities idle for the major portion of the day. That is the problem. The airlines themselves arrange their own schedules, as they are entitled to do.
– You could tell AnsettA.N.A. what to do.
– It arranges its own schedules, but we have a responsibility in relation to safety. We must ensure that the airlines maintain proper safeguards so that they do not have planes arriving and departing too close to each other and so on.
By and large, however, they feel that they have arranged their schedules so that aircraft are available at the times when most passengers wish to travel. The airlines have worked this out pretty carefully and I am finding it very difficult to get them to stagger their arrivals and departures even to a small extent. But we must be persistent and endeavour to get a better service.
– Well, bring in a regulation.
– 1 will see what I can do.
The honorable senator referred, as he did the other day, to intrastate services in South Australia. As I told him then, intrastate services in South Australia are not subsidised. They are only marginally profitable, but the minute sufficient passengers use them and when we believe that they can stand competition without becoming a burden on the taxpayers, we will engender competition as we have done in other cases. Let me cite the Adelaide to Alice Springs service as an example. At one time one airline had practically a monopoly on the run to Alice Springs. As traffic increased competition was engendered and now one airline runs, I think, six trips a week and the other runs three trips.
– We do not want competition. We say that you should divide the routes between the two companies.
– Then we may have capital equipment in two airlines standing idle for half of the week. This would add to costs and make the airlines unprofitable, so we would have to subsidise them. This Government believes in competition but not at the expense of the taxpayers of Australia who have to find the subsidies. I will not go along with that. It is all very well for the Premier of South Australia to say that he has asked for this. He does not have to find the subsidy. Neither do the taxpayers of South Australia. It is the taxpayers of Australia who have to find the subsidies if certain routes are unprofitable. I will riot be a party to making the taxpayers of Australia find subsidies unnecessarily.
As soon as there is sufficient traffic in some of these areas we will engender competition just as we have done in a number of areas in Queensland. When even one route in Queensland becomes more than profitable for one airline we engender competition in that area. That is a policy that we will continue to follow.
– I desire to mention one of two matters very briefly, but despite the fact that I will be brief the matters are very important, particularly to the residents of Sydney. My remarks relate to Division No. 140 - Civil Aviation Facilities - and in particular to air route and airway facilities. I refer to the problem involved in holding aircraft over Sydney preparatory to landing. I understand that this problem is accentuated by the fact that to the west of Sydney are the Blue Mountains and the Royal Australian Air Force base at Richmond, to the south of Sydney is the Royal Australian Navy air base at Nowra and to the north of Sydney is the Royal Australian Air Force base at Williamtown. In other words, Sydney is surrounded by the sea, the mountains and a ring of aerodromes. Having an international airport in comparatively close proximity to the city itself, Sydney is faced with the problem of holding aircraft until such times as landing facilities are available.
Apart from the safety factor involved in holding aircraft over Sydney, the convenience of the residents of the suburbs of Sydney must be considered. I have before me a letter that I have received from a lady who lives in Gladesville. She complains about a large four-engined plane which, she says, has been flying around in circles over her home at a fairly low altitude for some months past. No doubt, more than one plane is involved. I understand that another holding area’ is above the PeakhurstPadstow district.
The residents of these areas are subjected to great inconvenience particularly in the evening when they are watching television programmes. This is a constant source of complaint. I know that this problem has been mentioned in the report of the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) but I should like the Minister to inform the Senate what is being done to solve it.
The other matter to which I wish to refer comes under Division No. 140, subdivision 1, item 02, Air route and airway facilities. It is the problem of obtaining taxis from Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport to the city or elsewhere. Why is it that passengers cannot have taxis ordered for them on aircraft travelling to Sydney, whereas they can have them ordered on aircraft travelling to other cities? I know that a hire car company operates from Mascot, but of course its charges are much higher than those of ordinary taxi services. I do not know what arrangement may have been entered into by the hire car company and the Department of Civil Aviation, but I suggest to the Minister that it is about time a taxi service was made available to passengers immediately upon their arrival at the terminal after landing at Mascot. These are important matters to the people of Sydney and also to people visiting Sydney, and I ask the Minister to comment in this regard.
I refer now to Division No. 144, item 05, Air services - Subsidy. I support the remarks of Senator Morris relating to the problem of air pilots generally. I know that the obtaining of pilots is a major problem and representatives of Qantas Empire Airways Limited, the international airline, are at present in England, I understand, trying to obtain personnel. But there is also a problem in the recruitment of people for operations connected with the landing of aircraft. This matter is referred to at considerable length in the Minister’s report at page 66. I think that the time has arrived for the Department of Civil Aviation to take up with Departments of Education throughout the States the problem of obtaining pilots and other personnel for engagement in the aviation industry. Obviously civil aviation is playing a great part in the development of Australia and in the years to come it will play a much greater part. It is important that- this field bc used as a profession by Australians in the interests of Australia. I know that Departments of Education throughout the States conduct vocational guidance classes and give advice to students in relation to the professions and trades that they might desire to undertake. I suggest that because of the importance of aviation to Australia generally, the Department of Civil Aviation should take this matter up with the State Departments of Education.
– 1 should like the Minister to give the Senate some information in respect of
Division No. 140, sub-division 3, item 03, Purchase of residence, Montreal. The proposed appropriation is £40,000. Last year there was an appropriation of £1,800, of which £1,731 was expended. I should like to know whether £40,000 represents the total cost of the residence and for whom it was acquired.
.- Will the Minister say whether and when it is proposed to use Fokker Friendship aircraft on the King Island service and whether there is any chance of these aircraft being used on the Flinders Island service? I know that the aerodrome at Flinders Island would not now be suitable, but is there a possibility of bringing it up to a standard at which it could take these aircraft? There is no need for me to tell the Minister that aircraft are the only means of transportation for the people on those two islands; he knows that. If they could be serviced with the more modern Fokker Friendship aircraft, it would be a great boon to them.
.- I refer also to Division No. 140, sub-division 1 - Maintenance and Operation, and the regulations applicable at Sydney (KingsfordSmith) Airport. Can something be done to alter the present set-up of defined areas for taxi ranks? Recently, along with other members of the Parliament and several other passengers - a dozen people - I was standing at the taxi rank but no taxis were coming there. They were all going to the front entrance of the main terminal. After we had been waiting half an hour or more, one of the members went over and asked the attendant whether it was possible to divert the taxis to the rank rather than have them all go to the front entrance. The attendant said: “There is no authority for me to do that. You will just have to get one in any way that you can “. The people who were at the authorised taxi rank were not getting any service at all. That is a matter that should be looked into by the Department.
I now refer to another matter. In view of the fact that most of the pilots who were trained in the Air Force during the 1939-45 war, and who supplied the overwhelming bulk of pilots for our commercial airlines, are getting to the retiring age, has the Department any co-ordinated plan for the training of pilots equivalent in numbers to (hose who will have to be replaced in the very near future? 1 understand that our own international airline has started a school for training pilots and is recruiting. This is a very important matter and I should like the Minister to say whether and to what extent such training is being done by our domestic airlines.
– Senator McClelland raised what is really an important question when he referred to the air space over Sydney. This is a particularly difficult area. As he pointd out, there is a naval station at Nowra, and an Air Force station at Richmond, both of which carry out defence training. There is a very big light aircraft industry at Bankstown, and there is, [ think, a military establishment at Williamtown which does a certain amount of firing of military weapons. All of these establishments are around Sydney, and this gives us some worry in bringing aircraft into Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) airport. From the north, all of them have to be directed through what one might call the eye of a needle. Even international planes are taken north and brought down through this eye of a needle. We have outstations, directed from the control tower, which hold these aircraft sometimes 20 or 30 miles out at various heights, so that all will not come in at the one time.
There is a difficulty in Sydney, and we have had a top level conference about it with the Defence authorities and other authorities concerned. By agreement we can now ring the military authorities and ask them to cease fire. I think they fire at Williamtown to about 3,000 feet. If we get any congestion we ring and they cease fire. They co-operate with us in every way. We get similar co-operation at Nowra and Bankstown. There has been a vast improvement and this will continue because Mascot will have a very big airport and will continue to grow as the traffic increases. We have to keep this in mind constantly.
The honorable senator mentioned taxi cabs at Sydney airport. I understand that the hire car service won the tender for the concession there and a passenger can engage a hire car from the aircraft because of that concession. Passengers can get taxis at the airport when they are available, but there is a shortage of them at times. However, I shall direct the attention of the airlines to this matter because three honorable senators have referred to it. We want to give a better service if we can.
Senator Wedgwood mentioned the provision for a residence at Montreal. This is being acquired for the permanent Australian representative on the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organisation. Last year the expenditure was £1,731, but the proposed vote is £40,000. This represents the balance due on the purchase of the residence and the estimated cost of furnishing it. I queried this figure myself, but I have been informed that property values in Montreal are very high and the expenditure is not out of the way for the type of residence which our representative on the Organisation should have.
Senator Lillico referred to the use of Fokker Friendship aircraft to raise the standard of service to Flinders Island and King Island. I understood that Fokker Friendship aircraft were operating to King Island. I thought that the aerodrome had been brought up to that standard, but I cannot confirm this impression. Unfortunately I did not visit King Island when I toured Tasmanian airports recently because we had trouble on the West Coast when three inches of rain fell and we had to travel out by taxi. I was unable to visit King Island, but I am under the impression that the aerodrome there has been raised to DC4 standard. I will get that information for the honorable senator. We are constantly raising the standard of the airstrip at Flinders Island and hope to have it up to DC4 standard soon. Work of this kind depends on passenger traffic because it is expensive and cannot be undertaken unless the traffic warrants it.
– Are those two services subsidised?
– I think both runs are subsidised. There is no competition on either of them. Senator O’Byrne referred to the training of pilots. As I have said, the provision for aero clubs has been altered. Under Division No. 144, provision is made for aero clubs and gliding clubs. A bonus of £37 10s. per person is payable to clubs or schools for every private pilot’s licence issued to trainees under 30 years of age and £56 5s. is payable for each commercial pilot’s licence issued and £18 15s. for each first instructor rating. Payment is also made at the following hourly rates for each hour flown in club or school aircraft by student pilots up to 30 years of age and private or commercial licence holders: Home station, lis. 3d. per hour for both club and school aircraft; away from home station, j 5s. per hour for club aircraft and lis. 3d. per hour for school aircraft.
– Does that cover the whole of their flying time?
– It is a bonus until they get their licence but the cost to the trainees is more than that. This is assistance granted to them and does not cover the whole cost of training. They have to find the rest themselves. Most domestic airlines are now setting out to train pilots and younger persons coming on who want to be pilots. There is a scarcity because of the sudden development of air travel in Australia. lt has leapt ahead in the past year or two and the demand is greater than the supply. Only last week a domestic airline bought a simulator at a cost of about £800,000 for the training of pilots for its own airline. This matter is in hand now although I agree it has- been neglected in the past. Both our overseas airline Qantas Empire Airways Ltd. and the two internal airlines, as well as the aero clubs, have this matter well to the fore and are doing what they can to train Australian pilots for the Australian airline services.
– What about the air traffic controllers?
– I do not think we have the same trouble in obtaining those officers. We have recently had quite an influx of them into the Department of Civil Aviation and I do not think there is any great shortage.
– l direct my remarks to Division No. 135 - Administrative, subdivision 1, item 01, “Salaries and allowances as per Schedule, page 151, £6,280,000”. Under item 02 the provision for temporary and casual employees, as distinct from the salaries and allowances I have mentioned, is £2,090,000. The first point that impresses me is the big provision for casual employees. Will the Minister for Civil Aviation explain why such a large amount is provided? Under
Division No. 144 - Development of Civil Aviation - there is provision of £150,000 for aero and gliding clubs. I would be interested to know whether grants to gliding clubs arc an investment in the training of pilots. What is the relationship between gliding and getting an aircraft pilot’s licence? I revert now to Division No. 135. Under this heading reference is made to “ Salaries and payments in the nature of salary”. This is Public Service language, I suppose. What is the difference between salaries and payments in the nature of salary?
– I wish to refer to a matter under Division No. 140 - Civil Aviation Facilities. I am concerned with the maintenance and operation of these facilities which is a matter of safety and administration. The Minister for Civil Aviation is already aware of the circumstances to which I propose to refer. They concern the international airport at Mascot. I have noticed over a somewhat lengthy period whenever I have had occasion to visit the upstairs restaurant and lounge that the fire escape has been partially blocked by crates of bottles and so forth. As the terminal is in the nature of a fire trap itself, this state of affairs is extremely dangerous. About six weeks ago I mentioned the matter to the Minister when a deputation waited upon him and he undertook to have something done about it. I understand from a subsequent conversation with the Minister that he immediately gave instructions for the matter to be looked into. Several days after that, and again about a week later still, I had occasion to visit the place, on one of those occasions being in the compang of Mr. James, the honorable member for Hunter in the House of Representatives. The only difference I could see was that some lumber had been added to the crates of bottles.
I do not know whether these obstructions have been removed by now, but at least a dangerous situation existed for a lengthy period of time. This indicates a lack of supervision of the fire inspection services. I should like to know whether the situation has been attended to, why these matters are not properly supervised, and why the Minister’s instructions were not attended to expeditiously.
– 1 should like to refer to the proposed expenditure on air route and airway facilities under Division No. 140- Civil Aviation Facilities. The appropriation for 1963-64 was £2,775,000 and the expenditure was £2,699,148. The proposed expenditure for this year is £3 million. I ask the Minister what is being done by the Department of Civil Aviation in respect of airports in outback areas, in particular the runway at Esperance in Western Australia. MacRobertson Miller Airlines Ltd. runs’ a thrice-weekly service to Esperance, which is about 450 miles by road and approximately 500 miles by rail from Perth. The Esperance area is developing very quickly. I should like to know whether the runway is sufficiently well attended to to cater for the landing of aircraft in all weathers. I have known of people who have flown to the area and who have found two days later, after half an inch of rain has fallen, that no aeroplane was able to land.
The Minister should consider providing an all-weather runway at Esperance. The rainfall in this area is about 27 inches a year, and during the wet season the aerodrome is out of service for periods of three pr four days and sometimes a week. That happens several times a year. Will the Minister tell me whether provision has been made in this year’s estimates for an allweather runway at Esperance?
– Senator McClelland asked me whether there was a shortage of air traffic controllers. I should like to correct the answer I gave him a few moments ago. There is a a shortage of air traffic controllers. We are recruiting some in Great Britain, because we cannot get sufficient here.
Senator Ormonde referred to gliding clubs. We pay £6,000 a year to gliding clubs, which play a very important part in the training of pilots. A famous manufacturer of gliders who was driven out of Europe during the last war is now manufacturing excellent gliders in New “South Wales. These gliders are of very great assistance in the training of pilots.
– A grant of £150,000 is to be made to aero and gliding clubs.
– Of that sum £6,000 will go to the gliding clubs. The provision for salaries and payments in the nature <- of salary includes proposed expenditure on district allowances, penalty rates, overtime and higher duties allowances. Senator Ormonde asked why such a large number of temporary and casual employees are engaged, almost one-quarter of a total expenditure of about £8 million on salaries being allocated for that purpose. I am informed that there is a considerable element of casual employment in the maintenance ! tangs and so forth at airports where there g not sufficient work to keep men fully employed. Moreover, many employees have not yet been appointed permanently by the Public Service Board. Each year some temporary employees are appointed to the permanent staff, but there is still a considerable number of temporary employees. Senator Murphy has been very consistent in his representations about the situation at the Mascot airport. On the day before yesterday I sent him a letter about the matter. I do not know whether he has received it yet.
– No, I have not.
– In that letter I pointed out that the Department had informed me that a thorough investigation had been carried out. Officers of the Department doubt whether the stairway in question is a fire escape. If my recollection is correct, they say that there are two fire escapes and that this small set of stairs is not considered to be a fire escape. They believe that adequate provision has been made for that purpose.
– The words “ Fire Escape” appear there in large letters. It is the only visible fife escape.
– An any rate, I got the Department moving on this matter, first, because the honorable senator has been on my back about it and rightly so, and secondly, because if this is a hazard I want it to be removed. Senator Scott referred to the Esperance airport. That is a local ownership aerodrome. No work on the runway has been programmed for this year. When the local authority is ready to meet its share of the cost of bringing the aerodrome up to the desired standard, we will get down to tin tacks and see what we can do. But we will not be doing anything this year.
Under the local ownership programme, the Commonwealth Government and the local council each provide half the money needed to bring the aerodromes up to the required standard. I had not thought that the airport at Esperance was closed as often as was stated by the honorable senator. When the local council is ready to bring the Esperance aerodrome up to standard, the Department will be prepared to discuss the matter.
– 1 wish to refer to a small matter related to Division No. 140, sub-division 1, item 02 - Air route and airway facilities. I should like to know why a savage fine of £2 is imposed for parking offences involving parking meters at airports. In capital cities a fine of £1 is imposed for parking offences, but at the Brisbane airport a fine of £2 is imposed. 1 do not think that an airport is the place where people go to fill in time. They are usually there on business. The late arrival of aircraft is the biggest trap of all time where parking meters at airports are concerned. Perhaps the Minister could explain the reason for the imposition of a fine of £2 for parking offences at Brisbane airport.
– Space is very limited at airports and it is most important that it be kept as clear as -possible. It is most important also to see that those who occupy the limited space at airports do so only for the time allowed by the parking meters. I understand that in the city areas of Sydney and Melbourne the fine for parking offences is £2. In Brisbane it may be a little less.
– It is £1.
– If a fine of £1 is regarded as reasonable in the great area of Brisbane, I think a fine of £2 is justified in order to avoid congestion at airports.
– Would not automatic charging gates be the answer to the problem, such as those installed at some airports?
– It will be, when we get to the stage where we can install them at all airports, but we have not yet reached that stage. Because of the very limited space at airports, effective measures must be taken to keep the traffic moving in such areas.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Department of Social Services
Proposed expenditure, £9,087,000.
– I wish to address my remarks to Division No. 470 - Central Administration. In reply to a question asked this week we were informed that the wife of a deserting or imprisoned husband for the first six months that she is left alone does not receive payment of any benefit, other than in Victoria. I ask the Minister to inform the Committee of the amount that is paid for the first six months to women in such circumstances in Victoria.
I turn now to Division No. 475 - State Establishments. I have placed a question on the notice-paper and perhaps now is the appropriate time to ask the Minister to reply to it. On page 25 of the report of the Director-General of Social Services for 1963-64 the following reference is made to accommodation -
The provision of suitable office accommodation continues to present real problems to this growing Department. Even where the type of accommodation is satisfactory the Department is constantly facing the problem of the inadequacy of the total area available and hence the difficulty of expansion as needs dictate. In particular, the Department occupies space in Adelaide, South Australia, which is of inferior standard and is in a somewhat inaccessible location for the convenience of the public.
Anyone who is familiar with the office of the Department in Adelaide will appreciate the reference to its inaccessibility to the public. It is located in an old, remodelled building in Gawler Place, and the office on the third floor is reached by passing through a warehouse containing electrical goods. I ask the Minister whether he can inform the Committee whether action is being taken to provide better facilities for the Department’s Adelaide office.
I turn now to sub-division 4 of Division No. 475, to the item relating to the housekeeper service in Queensland - assistance to voluntary organisations. It is stated in the report of the Director-General of Social Services that funds are allocated for housekeeping services to all States except South Australia. I inquired of the Deputy Regional Director in South Australia the reason why no payment is made to that State. He informed me that he believes that the conditions of payment were not acceptable to South Australia and for that reason no allocation was made. I sought information as to where in the decisions of Parliament the conditions of grants for housekeeping services were made. The Deputy Regional Director was unable to tell me, but he was of the opinion that the promise to institute this service was made by the Prime Minister in 1947, and that information would be available from the Prime Minister’s Department. I have been unable to locate any reference to the housekeeping service in the estimates of the Prime Minister’s Department, and the only reference in the estimates of the Department of Social Services is to assistance to voluntary housekeeper organisations in Queensland.
The report of the Director-General shows that a total of £13,370 was distributed during 1963-64 as follows: New South Wales, £5,900; Victoria, £4,100; Queensland, £1,870; Western Australia, £1,000; and Tasmania, £500. The amount of £1,870 appears in the estimates of the Department of Social Services as the expenditure for 1963-64 on assistance to voluntary housekeeper organisations in Queensland. But nowhere can I find details of the payments to the other States. I assume that those details appear under another heading and T would appreciate the Minister’s advice in this respect. I should also like to know why the expenditure in Queensland is shown separately and where I may find the authorisation for that payment in order that I may establish whether the conditions of payment are applicable to South Australia. 1 now want to address a few remarks to the question of homes for aged persons and grants to eligible organisations under the Aged Persons Homes Act which is found under sub-division 4. We find that last year the appropriation was £3,700,000 and the expenditure would appear to have been £4,000 in excess of the appropriation.
– What was the Division again?
– It ls Division No. 475, sub-division 4, item 02 - Homes for Aged Persons - Grants to Eligible Persons under the Aged Persons Homes Act. This year the same amount is being sought as was appropriated last year, an amount of £3,700,000. Again, this report of the Director-General of Social Services provides information on grants for aged people’s homes during last year. I think this matter needs a thorough investigation. Not only do we find a problem in relation to this matter in South Australia, but lt seems to be an Australian-wide problem. I have correspondence from the Housing Activities Club of the Old Age and Invalid Pensioners Association of Elizabeth Street, Sydney. This correspondence sets out some of the anomalies that exist. The report of the Director-General of Social Services shows that the grants approved in the period 1954-55 to 1963-64 amounted to £21,109,022 and shows the organisations to which the money was granted. In another column of the report it shows the States in which the money was granted. This sum provided homes for 18,337 aged people. Whether that figure represents couples or single people we do not know. However, these figures show there is a government subsidy of somewhat under £1,200 paid to organisations for accommodation for each individual. If, as the plan proposes, the Government subsidy is on the basis of £2 for £1, then we can say that the cost of housing an individual pensioner works out at about £1,800 under the system of building these homes.
The position in South Australia is that before an aged person can get into one of these homes he has to make a payment of £900. lt was intended that the Government would subsidise the charitable collection of the organisations concerned. However, in South Australia, as I have said, the intending tenant is required to pay the sum of £900. Then the organisation receives a Government subsidy of £1,800 on the basis of £2 for £1 so that it can build the home. If there is a profit, it goes to the organisation. They are non-profit making organisations and we do not say that they are making a profit but a proportion of this amount received by the organisations can be used for the building of hospitals for the aged. They are building hospitals, using the deposits paid by those who enter the dwellings, plus the subsidy paid by the Commonwealth Government in respect of the dwellings. We get a situation where the organisation is setting up a group of homes for accommodating old people, together with hospital and other facilities for catering towards the cost of which the organisation does not subscribe anything. There is no equity for the payment by the old people to which I have referred. Applying to the homes is a set of regulations with which it can be expected (hat people in closely tenanted areas must comply. At times it is very difficult for these rules to be complied with by aged people. Aged people seem to develop peculiarities, and possibly they need more attention. Because of this tendency which is brought about by nothing else, I think, than being in the close settlement area, plus their age some of these people develop a behaviour pattern that cannot be tolerated in the close settlement area. The organisation is then compelled to do something about it. It may have to evict them and such a person who has paid £900 has no further use of the property and cannot Jive in the dwelling.
I have put a question on notice relating to this Aged Persons Homes Act asking whether the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) or his Department can require the organisation to give a guarantee that the homes will continue to be used for the housing of aged people. 1 have not yet received a reply. I make no criticism about that because it was only this week or last week that the question was put on the notice paper. However, I would ask the Minister whether it would be possible to state bow many of these grants carry the guarantee that the homes will continue to be used for old people and how many grants have been made without such a guarantee. If it is the practice to make the grants without such a guarantee we get a situation where a scries of homes is built by an organisation which has not contributed one penny to them because the cost has been met by the contribution of the original occupants, plus a Commonwealth Government grant, and at some time or other the organisation can decide to use the homes for other purposes if it is so desired. As I said before, this situation is not confined to South Australia. The correspondence 1 received from Sydney shows that there is a bigger demand for payment in such cases in Sydney than in South Australia. Senator Ormonde would criticise me if I said there is more racketeering in Sydney.
Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– The points related by Senator Cavanagh relate, in the main, to two circumstances in South Australia. The first point he raised related to the circumstance under which deserted wives in Victoria receive a benefit without waiting the usual six months’ period, lt may be recalled that this subject was debated when the Social Service Bill (No. 2) was passed through the Senate towards the end of September. As the honorable senator indicated, it is a fact that in Victoria an arrangement was made many years ago which has the effect that there is no six months’ waiting period in that State. The honorable senator asked what amount is actually paid. The amount paid under this special benefit is £4 2s 6d. a week. Honorable senators will appreciate that that amount is far short of the widows’ pension which is £6 a week, plus the mother’s allowance of £2 and a child’s allowance of 15s. But in answer to the specific question asked, the rate paid to deserted wives in Victoria is £4 2s. 6d. a week.
Senator Cavanagh also raised a question about accommodation for aged persons in South Australia and I am advised that this matter is being examined at the present time with a view to finding more suitable accommodation. Referring to the question of the housekeeper service, this is a new benefit that has emerged. Queensland is dealt with under a separate arrangement, and South Australia has not yet become involved. I have a note that the purpose of the housekeeper service is to assist an organisation in Queensland to provide emergency housekeepers to households when mothers are absent in hospital, ill at home, or through some other emergency, are unable to cope with family needs. The normal payments under this item are two half-yearly grants of £1.100 to the Queensland Country Women’s Association. In 1963-64 the final grant was £330, as expenditure by the Association was below normal for that period. Tt is expected, however, that for 1964-65 the usual grant of £2,200 will be made.
In Queensland the grant is paid to an organisation as distinct from the normal governmental procedure. All other States, of course, come under the special appropriation scheme as the payments are made to the State Governments. The latter procedure applies to South Australia. As the honorable senator realises, this is a matter for negotiation between a State and the Commonwealth. It is anticipated that negotiations with South Australia will be completed in the near future, and when those negotiations are completed South Australia will participate in any future payments.
Senator Cavanagh referred also to aged persons homes. Again it will be remembered that this matter was fully debated when the social services legislation was before the Senate in late September. Also, a series of questions has been placed on the notice paper and replies have been given to honorable senators on the issues that have been raised on this item. The Aged Persons Homes Act- was introduced to encourage religious and charitable organisations to establish and extend homes in which aged persons can reside under conditions approaching, as nearly as possible, those of normal domestic life. If I may digress for a moment from the matter raised by Senator Cavanagh, I think it is proper to say that this has been a magnificent piece of legislation in the sense that it has enabled some 19,000 aged people to be provided with homes. These aged people do not live in large homes in which the extensive housekeeping involved would cause them embarrassment. They live in group communities where they can enjoy companionship that they would not otherwise have. The religious or charitable organisation can keep a constant eye on these aged people. Sick bays are provided so that when they become ill, or are in need of convalescent treatment, they can be cared for. The homes are a magnificent example of a co-operative effort by the Government and voluntary organisations to carry out an obligation to the aged of the community.
Senator Cavanagh directed attenion to the fact that although the Government provides a subsidy on the basis of £2 for £1, an organisation sometimes obtains from an aged person, or his or her relatives, a payment which might be regarded as a premium. That is true, but not in every case. The Government adopts the view that the arrangement is made between the organisation and the person concerned. If by agreement an organisation can obtain a lump sum in this manner it is able to provide more accommodation. After all this is not a commercial proposition. Religious or charitable organisations are helping people, and do not operate at a profit. Any funds acquired are used to provide further accommodation and facilities. The Government does not believe that it should enter into the private arrangements that are made between the organisations and the people concerned.
The legislation, as I have said, is designed to provide homes where the aged can live in an atmosphere of happiness and contentment and enjoy the companionship of people of their own age. I do not think it is fair to criticise the scheme because in certain instances - not in all - an organisation enters into an arrangement with an aged person or his or her relatives to receive a certain amount of money which is paid into the funds of the organisation. The Commonwealth provides a subsidy on the basis of £2 for £1 and the aged persons homes scheme is one of the success stories of the social services legislation in Australia.
– I should like to pursue a matter raised by Senator Cavanagh, namely the non-payment, except in Victoria, of a pension to deserted wives during the first six months of their desertion. I understood from what the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) said that the Social Services Act declares that a deserted wife is not eligible to receive payment until a period of six months has expired. Every State, except Victoria, has made arrangements through the Department of Social Services to make payments in order to help deserted wives until the six months period is up. I should like the Minister to tell me the total annual amount involved in these payments.
– Is the honorable senator referring to Victoria?
– Yes. I should like to know the amount that is paid in Victoria in respect of the period during which persons are apparently ineligible under the Social Services Act. Where is that amount disclosed in the Estimates? Will the Minister tell me where the terms of the arrangement that was entered into some years ago can be inspected? Will he tell me the parties who entered into the arrangement? Were the other States parties to the arrangement? Did the State of New South Wales or the State of South Australia agree that its residents were not to receive these amounts, although the residents of the State of Victoria would be entitled to receive them before six months had elapsed?
Would the Minister tell me what the legislative authority is for this arrangement? If, as I understand it, and 1 am open to correction, the Parliament has stated in the Act that persons are not eligible to receive payments except in certain circumstances and until a certain period has elapsed, how is it that people in one State alone are nevertheless paid in a manner which, as it has been slated here, is not in accordance with the Act? Where is the legislative power for the payments to be made under this arrangement?
– 1 thank the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) for the efforts he made to satisfy my curiosity on the points I raised. He was very helpful. But I do not think he has gone far enough on two points I raised concerning the housekeeping services. To adopt a phrase which was used by Senator Murphy, I ask: Where is the legislative power to make this payment? I want to ascertain the conditions under which payment is made so that I can understand why South Australia is not a participant in the scheme.. I am mindful of the fact that the Director-General of Social Services says that the grant is to provide assistance to State and voluntary institutions conducting housekeeping services. It would appear from the Minister’s statement that Queensland is the only State in which a voluntary organisation is paid a grant and therefore it is shown in these estimates.
I am particularly interested in this matter because there is an organisation in South Australia - it originated in South Australia and it has now spread to the other States - which is known as Meals on Wheels. The organisation was started by an invalid girl named Doris Taylor. It functioned at first on public subscriptions, and it now receives a grant from the State Government. It supplies hot meals to pensioners who cannot cook a meal for themselves. There are a number of other services that the organisation is prepared to provide for pensioners, including a housekeeping service. If a pensioner has to stay in bed and has no one to keep house, this voluntary organisation, under great financial difficulty, supplies housekeeping services to that person, either free of charge or for a payment which is below the recognised wages of housekeepers. Some part of the payment is made by the pensioner, and the rest comes from the money that has been collected. I am anxious to know whether this organisation could participate in the scheme we are discussing. Where can I find the conditions that have to be complied with? I mention this matter because I have been told that in a report of the Public Accounts Committee the suggestion has been made that South Australia is now becoming interested in the scheme. I have not referred to the report, so I do not know whether or not that is correct.
I agree with what the Minister said on the question of payments to religious organisations under the Aged Persons Homes Act. It is desirable to have people housed under the conditions that this scheme provides, but I am opposed to the requirement that individuals should have to contribute without acquiring any equity. It is of no use to say that it is a matter of private arrangement. In many cases it is a matter of necessity for people to be provided with this type of accommodation. Perhaps their family has left them and they have reached an age where they cannot maintain the large family home. They have to sell the home to get the deposit of £900 for the type of accommodation that is suitable for their conditions. This happens at an age when they have a short expectation of life. Having paid £900 deposit, in a few months or a few years they could die and be carried out of their property. It would then become the property of the organisation.
Tt is not correct that the Act provides for grants only to religious organisations. While the Act provides for grants to religious, charitable, benevolent and exservicemen’s organisations, it also makes provision for grants to other organisations that are approved by the Governor-General. They need have no connection with religious organisations. According to a newspaper report in the Adelaide Press, an organisation is being formed which could exploit this scheme. The organisation claims that it is being formed for the purpose of becoming an acceptable organisation, approved by the Governor-General, for the construction of aged persons homes in South Australia. It will be a non-profit organisation controlled by directors, and as such there is no apparent reason why the Governor-General should not approve it as a home construction authority.
The Minister did not answer my question on this matter. Is a guarantee extracted from these organisations that the homes shall be maintained for aged people? Assets are being accumulated and paid for by the tenants. If a person dies, is there any reason why the organisation cannot use the home other than for the purpose for which the Government paid the subsidy? The Act provides that the Government may ask for a guarantee. I am trying to find out whether, in fact, the Government does ask for a guarantee. Could the private company in South Australia to which I referred use these homes after a period for profit making purposes? After the homes have been built, there is nothing to suggest that they cannot be used for profit making purposes. Although a deposit is paid, weekly rent is charged by the organisations for the maintenance and upkeep of the homes.
I agree with the Minister that the scheme is beneficial. I make no condemnation of it, other than to say that the Act is not being applied as it was intended it should be. The Government is subsidising the organisations without any guarantee that the homes will not be used for other purposes in the future.
As I said in my earlier remarks, the position in New South Wales seems to be even worse. According to a letter that I have received from the pensioners’ association, a deposit of £1 .500 is required for a home at Hammondville despite the fact that the overall Australian average is £1,800. The Government subsidises these homes on a £2 for £1 basis so the subsidy amounts to £3,000. The cost of a single unit at Hammondville is £1,000. If a spouse dies after a pensioner couple have paid £1,500 for a double unit, the survivor is moved into a single unit although the deposit that was paid entitles the survivor to continue occupying the double unit.
The Methodist Church runs an establishment at Leichhardt in which a deposit of £2,000 is required for a double unit. Many followers of the Methodist Church are advised to sell their homes and hand over the proceeds to the institution. In return they receive a unit at the establishment. The war widows association in New South Wales asks £2,000 for a unit. According to the document that I have, one woman who paid the required £2,000 was accommodated in a laundry. She took court proceedings to have her £2,000 returned. The Church of England establishment at Castle Hill demands £1,300 for a unit.
The present practice has so irritated the pensioners association that it has commenced a campaign to have the practice altered. It has criticised the practice in all States. Will the Minister tell me in what way the legislation, which was designed to provide homes for the aged and the needy, is effective when the aged and the needy cannot get homes without paying a high deposit? The Minister may tell me that there are some who do not pay a deposit but I point out to him that only a very selected few are admitted. No stranger can get in. This whole question needs investigating in view of the fact that the organisations are doing nothing to ensure that adequate housing is provided for aged people.
I refer now to Division No. 470 - Central Administration. I have mentioned in the Senate from time to time the anomaly that exists in the fact that social service benefits are not paid to eligible people who receive treatment and part-time accommodation in a mental institution. I know that the Act stipulates that payment shall not be made when a person is an inmate of a gaol or a mental institution. Senator Turnbull, who is a doctor, has been outspoken in his criticism of the Act as it relates to mental cases, but admittedly, a debate on the estimates for the Department of Social Services is not the appropriate time to question whether the Act is right or wrong. We have the position in South Australia, to which I have referred previously, in which social service benefits cease when recipients enter mental institutions for a portion of the week. They go in on Monday and come home on Friday. Over the weekend they are cared for by their parents or relatives.
When the Minister stated the provisions of the Act I protested that he was not correctly interpreting them. He claimed that he had obtained an opinion from the crown law authorities to the effect that a person is regarded as an inmate of an institution until he is finally discharged with no obligation to return. That is a ridiculous interpretation of the Act. Take the case of a person who is out of gaol on parole. Surely it is not intended that he should break and enter another home so that he may live. The whole spirit of the Act is that if a person is out of work he should receive social service benefits to enable him to maintain himself and his family.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland) [10.45]. - I refer to that section of Division No. 475 - State Establishments - which relates to the housekeeper service in Queensland for which £2,200 has been allocated. I am glad to see that the appropriation has been increased from last year’s amount of £1,870. This housekeeper service is of tremendous importance. There is a great need for it not only in my State of Queensland but in other States as well. However, £2,200 is not a very large amount to allocate to this service. If the grant were larger the service could be greatly extended. I should like the Government to consider that aspect. 1 am interested to know how the amount is arrived at. Is the appropriation requested by the organisations themselves or by the State Governments? Knowing the number or organisations that are endeavouring to give this service, and knowing their need for financial assistance, I am sure that if the request came from the organisations a larger amount would have been sought.
I am interested also to know why the allocation for Queensland is the only one recorded. In his report the DirectorGeneral of Social Services points out on page 20 that this grant provides assistance to State and voluntary agencies conducting housekeeper services. The allocation followed a pattern somewhat similar to that followed in previous years. In 1963- 64 a total of £13,370 was distributed. New South Wales received £5,900, Victoria £4,100, Queensland £1,870, Western Australia £1,000 and Tasmania £500. Despite these allocations, Queensland is the only State mentioned in these estimates. Why are the other amounts not mentioned?
The housekeeping service in Queensland is doing very good work for people who need it because of illness or disability. Mothers returning from hospital with young babies are faced with a big problem. In the circumstances, will the Government consider allocating a larger sum in future so that this valuable service can bc extended in Queensland?
– I should like to deal with the matters that have been raised so far while they are fresh in my mind. Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin asked the reason for the distinction between Queensland and the other States in relation to the allocation for the housekeeper service. The point is that the grant is made to an organisation in Queensland so it is mentioned specifically. Grants to other States for this service are dealt with under “ Payments to the States “. That is the short answer to the question. Historically, this form of assistance to the States came into existence as a result of offers made by the Prime Minister to the State Premiers in 1951. The Prime Minister’s correspondence indicated the nature and purpose of the assistance. Four of the six States accepted the offer. In New South Wales and Victoria the grant is paid to the State Governments and disbursed through government or local government channels. In Queensland it is paid by the Department of Social Services direct to housekeeper services now operated only by the Country Women’s Association. In Western Australia the grant is paid to the State Government and is disbursed to the Lady Mitchell Housekeeper Scheme and the League of Home Help in equal shares. In Tasmania the grant is paid to the State Government and is disbursed to its own service and the Country Women’s Association. An arrangement is being negotiated with South Australia, as I have already indicated.
In relation to homes for the aged, to which Senator Cavanagh referred, it is proper to say that in a broad sense the organisations must be charitable and nonprofit organisations. It is written into the arrangement made with the organisations that the homes must continue to be used for the aged. If this is not so, there is provision for the organisations to refund the amounts of the grants involved. The grants must always be used for the purposes for which the Commonwealth provides the subsidy. While undertakings in relation to this matter are not required from religious organisations, they are required from certain non-religious organisations which are working in this field. The honorable senator should accept the view that a group of well meaning people can set about the purpose of establishing an organisation, but in the final analysis they have to satisfy the Department that they are in fact competent and will be able to fulfil the requirements of the Act and the agreements that are consequential upon the Act. Quite frankly, I fe;l that Senator Cavanagh is giving weight to this matter that is not justified. The other point I want to make is that the last survey that was taken revealed that the majority of persons who were living in these homes for the aged were pensioners with no other means of support than their pensions. I am sure that Senator Cavanagh and everybody else will agree that this legislation provides a magnificent service and that it is being administered in a practical way.
I want to refer to a point raised by Senator Murphy in relation to the payment to Victoria for dependants for the first six months after desertion. This provision was introduced in 1947, not by a government of this persuasion but by a government of the persuasion of honorable senators opposite. Victoria was treated separately, with the concurrence no doubt of the other States, because all the other States had an Act, regulation or other provision which covered such cases during the first six months. This matter has been raised over the years at Premiers’ Conference level, lt will be recalled that in the recent debate on social services it was raised specifically by Senator Morris. Generally speaking, the payment to Victoria was brought about by a need to meet the circumstances of the time and it has continued since. The honorable senator asked where this was dealt with and where it appears in the estimates. The answer is that it is under the item “ Special benefits “. I think it will be found that the sum is £650,000. As the honorable senator doubtless knows, special benefit may be granted to a person not qualified for unemployment or sickness benefit if, because of age or physical or mental disability or because of domestic circumstances or because, for any other reason, he is unable to earn a sufficient livelihood for himself and his dependants. The maximum rate of this benefit is the same as that for unemployment or sickness benefit. The benefit is not payable to any person receiving an age, invalid or widow’s pension, service pension or tuberculosis allowance. I cannot give the break up of this amount of £650,000. If, subsequently, that information can be made available to me, I shall certainly see that a suitable reply is directed to the honorable senator.
– I wish to refer again to the housekeeper service, not to comment on the service itself but to ask for an explanation as to why one of these appropriations is under the proposed expenditure for the ordinary annual services of the Government and the other is not. If I understood the Minister rightly, he said that in the case of the housekeeper service for Queensland the grant was made to the Country Women’s Association. Therefore, I fail to appreciate why an appropriation of that kind could come under the proposed expenditure for the ordinary annual services of the Government. I do understand the reason for the appropriation of £11,500 which was paid to the State being included in the proposed expenditure for other than the ordinary annual services, but it is beyond my comprehension how a payment to the Country Women’s Association for a purpose of this kind could ever have been included in this appropriation.
– I want to say a few words on the housekeeper service. Senator Cavanagh has taken great interest in what is happening in South Australia. The National Council of Women has been working on this matter for many, many months. It approached me to ask why it was that South Australia did not claim this money. I found that there were many organisations which were providing housekeepers for certain specified sections of the community, such as wives of exservicemen or, perhaps, aged pensioners. The answer that I got from the State department was that it was compulsory that the housekeepers be provided for anyone in the community. I notified Miss Taylor of “ Meals on Wheels “ of this, and it is for that reason, I think, that the assistance is now being made available.
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Chairman do now leave the Chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative. (The Chairman having reported accordingly)
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.
– My attention has been drawn to a statement made by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) in another place adverting to a statement which I made on a previous occasion in the Senate regarding Mr. Benson’s claim to be regarded as an expert in modern naval manoeuvres. I was speaking of the occasion on which H.M.A.S. “ Voyager “ was engaged as the plane guard for H.M.A.S. “Melbourne “ at night while the aircraft carrier was preparing to operate aircraft. I said then, speaking of Mr. Benson -
He has not ever, I think, engaged in an exercise of this particular kind.
In a statement designed to suggest that I was mistaken, Mr. Benson is reported to have said yesterday - i do not want to sound boastful, but less than two years ago 1 was pilot in charge of a ship in plane guard station during an American aircraft exorcise in Australia.
Now, it is possible - but I put it no higher than possible - that Mr. Benson may have been the pilot of a ship travelling from the port of Melbourne to Port Phillip Heads and that that ship may have been vaguely in the position in the trip up Port Phillip Bay that a plane guard destroyer takes up. I do not know that. I do not deny it. But I am prepared to say this: Mr. Benson has never in his life been the pilot in charge, or anything else in charge, of a ship engaged in the particular kind of manoeuvres which “ Voyager “ was required to engage in when exercising with “Melbourne” on the night of which I spoke. Further, Mr. Benson has never in his life been the pilot in charge, or anything else in charge, of any ship outside Port Phillip Heads stationed in the position of a plane guard destroyer and with the duties of a plane guard destroyer with an aircraft carrier operating aircraft. Mr. Benson, therefore, has no experience of the kind of operation which was being undertaken on that night.
Mr. Benson, if he is able to do so, can prove me wrong. He can state when he engaged in such manoeuvres, where they took place, the name of his ship, the name of the carrier and the date. If he can do this, I will apologise to him here in my place and will pay £50 to any charity he cares to mention. But if he cannot do this, then he stands convicted of having tried to mislead the House of Representatives and the country as to the experience he has had inthese matters and I think it is now up to him. He can put up or shut up.
– One regrets that he has to come to the defence of a colleague in another place on a question that has not reached a degree of importance sufficient to justify the speech that the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) has just made on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate. The accusation was made that the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) had not been captain of a ship on an exercise such as that which took place on the night of the “Voyager” disaster. Mr. Benson replied to show that he was not, as the popular term puts it, a “ has been “ and was not without some knowledge of command of an aircaft carrier no matter where it might have been. Apparently the Minister for Works was in some embarrassment tonight because he could not be exonerated entirely from responsibility for his statement that Mr. Benson had no knowledge of these matters. Here was a man with at least some experience of what happened in the case of the “ Voyager “.
The Minister said it was possible - and he put it no higher than possible - that Mr. Benson had had certain experience. Then he immediately said that he had some doubt whether Mr. Benson was speaking the truth yesterday. Then the Minister made a series of statements concerning what Mr. Benson should do. apparently in the full belief that Mr. Benson cannot comply with the conditions stipulated by the Minister and so would stand condemned. Mr. Benson does not stand condemned as he stated his qualifications in the House of Representatives and what he said in the House has not been denied tonight. It has been stated that it is possible that he had the experience that he claimed. No one is denying that he was commander of a particular carrier. Mr. Benson has said that he has not tried to exaggerate his qualifications and if one considers the activities of Mr. Benson, one must accept that he has some knowledge of naval manoeuvring and possibly is more competent than any other man in this place to analyse the report of the Royal Commission which investigated the calamity involving H.M.A.S. “ Voyager “.
If the Minister has some feeling of guilt that he may be responsible, or that the statements of Mr. Benson might have caused some suspicion about the handling of the Department of the Navy by the present Minister for Works prior to this unfortunate incident, I do not think the Minister has achieved anything tonight in trying to discredit Mr. Benson as a person capable of giving an opinion on the disaster. Mr. Benson’s opinion had serious repercussions in the Department of the Navy. The question could have been left alone at this time but the Minister for Works cannot exonerate himself in respect of the whole matter by giving guarantees of what he will do in certain circumstances which he knows cannot arise. It is the Minister who has made this statement who should be discredited. It is clear that Mr. Benson has operated in certain exercises as a result of which he at least knows something about the relevant naval manoeuvre.
– The Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) who is the former Minister for the Navy has chosen this occasion to make an attack on the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) no doubt hoping that no-one in the Senate would be qualified to answer him on behalf of Mr. Benson. 1 suggest that the Minister for Works has chosen well in that none of us here are technically qualified to answer him but we will come to the assistance of our colleague. I understand that the Minister challenges Mr. Benson to prove that he has taken part in some kind of operation of the sort that vessels were engaged upon when the “ Voyager “ disaster occurred.
– He has to prove that I am wrong.
– And that is what you challenge him to do. As I understand the points made by Mr. Benson in the debate in the House of Representatives, Mr. Benson, in fact, said that what the vessels were engaged upon was not what are technically known as naval manoeuvres but was rather a plane guard exercise. Further, and most importantly, Mr. Benson’s whole contention was that the turn which was being made at the time of the disaster was not good practice but was bad practice. One can see the falsity of the attack when the Minister comes here and says “ Let Mr. Benson say that he has been engaged in an operation of that very nature “, because Mr. Benson’s case was that no-one should be engaged in such an operation in such circumstances. It was wrong for the Minister to make this sudden attack in such terms that it can only be regarded, I suppose, as being an unwarranted attack upon the integrity of Mr. Benson.
– Mr. President, I want to back up my colleagues in what they have said about the attack that has been made by Senator Gorton on Mr. Benson. Senator Gorton’s remarks tonight were typical of the speech that he made when we discussed this matter in the first place. The Minister was very careful on that occasion to attack people and not to answer the charges that had been made by Senator McKenna. He was careful not to deal with the accident itself but to impute certain motives ‘ to various people, including a Queen’s Counsel who was engaged in the inquiry, and Mr. Benson.
My thinking on this whole question has been similar to that of Senator Murphy. lt will be recalled that Senator Gorton, when discussing the qualification or the right of Mr. Benson to comment on this matter, said that Mr. Benson was in a position somewhat like that of Senator O’Byrne and himself who had been wartime airmen. He said: “ Some 25 years ago we were pilots. Therefore we have some knowledge of flying”. That was a false approach to make, and Senator Gorton knew it was. Senator Gorton and Senator O’Byrne have not been active pilots since the war and therefore their knowledge of flying, as Senator Gorton put it, is out of date. But Mr. Benson did not go to sca just at the start of the war. He was at sea in his very early teens. He has spent a lifetime at sea, part of it with the Navy. As I understand the situation, he was in charge of ships under wartime conditions and it is highly improbable that he did not take part in just about every manoeuvre in the book. In addition, he is still a professional pilot. Even though he is a member of the Parliament, he must still do six trips a year so that he may retain his ticket. Surely a man who has spent a life time in a job and is sti 1 a professional is in a vastly different position from a person who was a pilot with the Air Force during the war but who has not been in service with the Air Force since that time.
I listened to Mr. Benson when he delivered his speech in the other place. His speech has been blown up as though he set himself up as an expert on this subject and as though he tried to set himself above the technical advice that has been tendered to the Government. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am not exaggerating when I say that his was one of the greatest speeches that I have heard delivered from a public platform or in either House of this Parliament, lt was a great speech because, like all other great speeches, it was delivered with humility and modesty.
This man went to Senator Gorton during the long period for which he was
Minister for the Navy to suggest that the use of whaling boats in the open sea was dangerous. Would one not think that, after Mr. Benson had come to him in a decent and helpful manner to suggest that people’s lives were being endangered and the Minister had checked on the matter, the Minister would have called him in and would have said: “ I have had a look at this thing. I am satisfied that it is O.K.”? But the Minister did not display to Mr. Benson the decency that he accorded to the Minister.
The whole point is that it does not matter very much about Mr. Benson. This has been a side issue. Never at any stage has he said: “1 tried to set myself up as an expert”. But he quite rightly could have said: “ I was naturally stunned when the Minister rose and devoted a large part of his speech to accusing me of certain things “. The captain of the “ Australia “ never accused him of those things. He has had this sort of thing thrown at him after he humbly went along to the Minister and tried to assist him because he was worried about the safety of men at sea.
Senator Gorton concluded indelicately with the statement that Mr. Benson ought to put up or shut up. May I suggest, Mr. President, that Senator Gorton should use his influence with the Government and should not join the long whitewashed queue that has been formed from the time when the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) stepped into the picture right up to the present moment. When this matter was debated there were two speakers on behalf of the Government, Senator Gorton being the last. The debate has not been revived and no opportunity has been presented for his comments to be replied to. I suggest that if anybody should put up or shut up it is Senator Gorton and not Mr. Benson.
– I do not wish to speak at any length. I feel sure that my colleague the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) will be able to provide the information that the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) seeks. But that is not the point. The Minister has issued a challenge to the honorable member for Batman. The Minister has come forward with the proposition that if the honorable member for Batman can supply him with certain information, he will donate £50 to some charity. I suggest that the Minister would have been more forthright if he had offered to tender his resignation from the Ministry. I suggest that the Minister should withdraw his offer to donate £50 to some charitable purpose and should offer to tender his resignation when the honorable member for Batman supplies the information.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.17 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 21 October 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1964/19641021_senate_25_s27/>.