25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution, I notified the Governor of the State of Western Australia of the vacancy caused in the representation of that State in the Senate by the death of Senator Victor Seddon Vincent on 9th November 1964. I have now received, through His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, from the Governor of the State of Western Australia, a certificate of the choice of John Peter Sim to fill the vacancy. The certificate will be laid on the table and read by the Clerk.
The Clerk then laid on the table the certificate of election of John Peter Sim.
– It is with very great regret that I have to inform the Senate of the death of Senator the Honorable Harrie Walter Wade, formerly Minister for Health, on 18th November 1964. Pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution, I notified the Governor of the State of Victoria of the vacancy caused in the representation of that State in the Senate by the death of Senator Wade. I have now received, through His Excellency the Governor-General, from the Governor of the State of Victoria, a certificate of the choice of James Joseph Webster to fill the vacancy. The certificate will be laid on the table and read by the Clerk.
The Clerk then laid on the table the certificate of election of James Joseph Webster.
Senator John Peter Sim and Senator James Joseph Webster made and subscribed the oath of allegiance.
– I have received from Senator the Honorable G. C. McKellar a letter dated 21st December 1 964, resigning from the office of Chairman of Committees consequent upon his appointment to the Ministry.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) agreed to -
That the Senate do now proceed to the appointment of a Chairman of Committees.
– I move -
That Senator Thomas Charles Drake-Brockman be appointed Chairman of Committees.
– I second the morion.
– Are there any further nominations? There being no further nominations, 1 declare Senator DrakeBrockman to be elected as Chairman of Committees.
– Mr. President, I should like to thank the Senate for the honour that it has conferred upon me in electing me to the position of Chairman of Committees. I am deeply conscious of the high standard that has been set by the many honorable senators who have held this position in the past. 1 believe that with the co-operation, and perhaps the forbearance, of honorable senators, particularly in my early days in the chair, I shall be able to maintain that high standard. It shall be my aim at all times to ensure that the dignity of the Senate is upheld and that all honorable senators, on whichever side of the chamber they sit, shall receive fair and just consideration. Knowing my frailty, may I just say that it shall also be my aim at all times to see that the duties and responsibilities of this office are carried out to the best of my ability.
– May I take this opportunity of extending to our new Chairman of Committees my warm congratulations and good wishes for a successful term of office. I think he will find it a very interesting job, albeit at times a difficult job. I believe that he has qualities which will stand him in very good stead during the time that he occupies this office. He requires, of course, a calm judgment, a sense of equity and of justice, which 1 am sure he has, and a knowledge of tha Standing Orders and the practices of the Senate which I am sure he has acquired during his term as Temporary Chairman of Committees. Above all, Mr. President, he will need the attributes of patience and understanding. As you know yourself, Sir, he will need understanding in a very large degree, and I am sure that he has that, too. I take this opportunity of wishing Senator Drake-Brockman well.
– On behalf of the Opposition I extend to Senator DrakeBrockman warmest congratulations upon his elevation to the position of Chairman of Committees. We wish him success whilst he holds that important office. Having regard to the experience that already we have had of him as a Temporary Chairman of Committees, I feel quite confident that he will carry out his duties both with competence and impartiality. I. take the opportunity to assure him that he will have the fullest backing of the Opposition in his endeavour to carry out the very high ideals he has enunciated and has set for himself in the future.
– by leave - I wish to inform the Senate of changes which have taken place in the Ministry and of consequential changes in ministerial arrangements. Following the untimely death of Senator Wade last November, the Honorable R. W. C. Swartz, then Minister for Repatriation, was sworn in as Minister for Health. Senator McKellar was later appointed Minister for Repatriation. Also, since the Senate rose, the Honorable H. S. Roberton has been appointed Australian Ambassador to Ireland. Subsequent to Mr. Roberton’s retirement from the Ministry the Honorable Ian McCahon Sinclair was appointed Minister for Social Services. In the matter of ministerial representation, Senator Anderson will now represent the Postmaster-General and Senator McKellar will represent the Ministers for Primary Industry, Interior, Health and Air. Apart from these changes, representation arrangements are unchanged.
– by leave - It is with very real sadness that I refer to the death on 18th November last of our colleague the Honorable Harrie Walter Wade, who was at the time of his death the Minister for Health, a Senator for Victoria and Leader of the Australian Country Party in the Senate. His death came to us as a shock for, despite some transient periods of illness, he was a fit looking 59 years of age and appeared to be at the peak of his powers, with the prospect of many years ahead of him for the continuance of his public service.
Senator Wade first came to the Senate in 1956 and immediately made his presence felt by his activities on various parliamentary committees before reaching ministerial rank in 1960. His parliamentary record shows that he was a member of the House Committee from 1956 to 1959, a member of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts from 1958 to 1961, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Payments to Maritime Unions in 1958, and a member of the Select Committee on Road Safety in 1959-1960. He was also a member of a Parliamentary delegation to Japan in 1958. Following this concentrated committee work, Senator Wade was appointed Minister for Air in December 1960. He held that portfolio until December 1961, when he became Minister for Health, the portfolio which he held until his death. He was a member of Cabinet from early 1964.
Senator Wade’s interest in public life was not confined to his period of service in the National Parliament. As a wheat and wool grower in the Horsham district of Victoria he had taken an active interest in local government affairs and had served as a councillor in his local shire and in the Horsham County Council. He served also as President of the Victorian Rural Fire Brigades Association, and as State President of the Victorian Country Party from 1952 to 1954. Not confining his interests to those spheres, however, he had also been active in his church’s affairs and in local football circles. Indeed, he served as President of the Central Wimmera Football League since 1955.
All of this, Mr. President, adds up to an impressive record of a man who devoted a large portion of his life to the service of others, and tallies with what we in the Senate came to know of a colleague who was unfailingly courteous and generous to those with whom he worked and came in contact. We regret deeply his passing from among us, and extend our deepest sympathy to ‘his widow and son. I move -
That the Senate expresses its deep regret at the death of Senator the Honorable Harrie Walter Wade, Commonwealth Minister and Senator for the State of Victoria, places on record its appreciation of his long and meritorious public service, and tenders its sincere sympathy to his widow and son in their bereavement.
– I second the motion and I thank my leader, Senator McKenna, for the opportunity of so doing, not only on my own behalf but also on behalf of all the members of the Australian Labour Party. The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Paltridge) has mentioned the many important offices held by Senator Wade during the time he was a member of this chamber. Therefore, I shall not repeat them. However, one of the main things which impressed me about him was the wide range of his interests. Some of them have been mentioned by the Minister. The late senator was deeply interested in practically all the affairs in the area in which he lived. He took a very close interest in local government matters, the fire brigade, the agricultural society, music through the medium of the local band, and also the schools in and around Horsham. In all these spheres he not merely acted in an honorary capacity but also took a keen personal interest. The bodies themselves benefited considerably from his help and advice.
In addition to his services to the local community he was keenly interested in sport. He was President of the Central Wimmera Football League. His nephew. Doug. Wade, is rather renowned in Victorian Football League affairs. Being a very strong supporter of the Geelong team, Senator Wade no doubt had a great interest in the performances of bis nephew for that team, which, one may say in passing, is one of the very strong teams in the Victorian Football League.
Senator Wade was interested for many years in the political life of this country.
He played a leading role in the affairs of the Australian Country Party in Victoria.- He was an official df that party for some years and later rose to the rank of Victorian Chief President.
When he was elected to the Senate his abilities gave him quick promotion. It was not long before he attained Cabinet rank and became the Leader of the Australian Country Party in the Senate. As a member of the Opposition, I always admired and respected the late senator as an able and competent man who quickly learned the pitfalls associated with ministerial responsibility. I never found ‘him to be evasive or unwilling to give frank answers to any questions put to him by honorable senators on either side of this chamber. My contacts with him outside the Senate were limited but I must say that I found him likeable, reasonable and understanding. He was truly a hard opponent but he was a fair one, and I respected him greatly for that.
The death of Senator Wade has been a great loss to the Government and to this Parliament. I should like to extend to his widow and family the very sincere sympathy of all members of the Australian Labour Party. As well as being a tragedy to his family, his death is a loss to the State of Victoria, to the National Parliament and, above all, to the people of Australia.
– I join with the previous speakers in supporting the condolence motion that is now before the Chair. 1 do not suppose that anyone in this Senate was closer to the late Senator Harrie Wade than I was. I came into this Parliament in 1959 and I shared a room with him. Until he went into the Ministry, we sat alongside each other in this Chamber. I came to recognise what a square deal one could expect from him. He was the essence of integrity, a straight shooter, an upright man and a very good Australian.
He was born at Clear Lake in the Wimmera in 1905 and was a school teacher before going on the land. As has been stated, he is survived by his widow and a son. Senator Paltridge and the spokesman for the Opposition have detailed certain aspects of his career. Perhaps I can add that he was a wool and wheat grower in the Wimmera district and a member of the
Australian Country Party for some 26 years. As also has been said, he was eventually elected to the position of Chief President of the Victorian Branch of the Party. He occupi d that position from 1952 to 1954. He was also Chairman of the Horsham City Water Trust.
The untimely death of Senator Wade was, of course, unexpected by most of us. We knew that he had been ill, but he seemed to be effecting a recovery. I recall very vividly that either in the late hours of 17 th November last or in the early hours of the day of his death - 1 8th November - I rose on behalf of the Australian Country Party and expressed the hope that it would not be long before our Leader, Senator Wade, was back with us. I left this place in the early hours of 18th November and When I arrived at Mascot after visiting the country I was very deeply shocked indeed to receive a message telling me that Senator Wade had passed away.
I join with the Leader of the Government and the spokesman for the Opposition in extending condolences to Senator Wade’s sorrowing widow and son. I share in their sorrow at the loss of one whom we have loved long since and lost awhile.
- Mr. President, I would like to join with other members of the Senate in supporting this motion of condolence. The late Senator Harrie Wade was a fine gentleman in every sense of the word. He was a devoted husband and father and, no matter where his duties took him, his thoughts were always with his loved ones at home. He was a very hard working and conscientious Cabinet Minister but he never lost a simplicity of manner and outlook that only stemmed from great personal integrity and strength of character. In addition, Harrie Wade was a true friend. He helped anyone whom he felt was in need of help and he was at adi times loyal to the core. But I feel that no expression of sympathy in this place or anything that has been written about the late Harrie Wade could be more demonstrative of what people felt about him than what occurred on the day of his burial when the citizens of Horsham, the city he loved so well and to which he had given so much during his lifetime, stood to attention to pay their last respects to a man who had lived a fine life and given great service to the community. On that day hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people - little people far removed from the seat of Government and far removed from public life - stood to pay tribute to our colleague and friend. I join in the sympathy that has been expressed to his widow and son, both of whom are personal friends of mine. I believe that they share with their loved one who has gone a faith that assures that to live on in the hearts of those we love is not to die.
– I would like to crave the indulgence of the Senate very briefly to put on record the affection and respect which I have for the memory of the late Harrie Wade. I do this as some little acknowledgment of the great help and assistance he gave to me. I think that the trait in his character that I would like to stress is that whilst always remaining loyal and firm in his own opinions and his own views, he was always considerate and open and willing to listen to the views of his opponents. I think that is somewhat the same comment as Senator Kennelly made. ] do not remember the late Harrie Wade giving a discourteous answer at question time in this Senate. The other thing that I would like to touch upon, which was made so manifest to us all in his own inimitable, manly way, was the great affection and regard he had for his wife and the pride that he felt in his son. He was a good man who was a good influence in this Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative, honorable senators standing in their places.
– by leave - - Mr. President, it was with the very deepest sorrow that the world learned, on the morning of 24th January this year, of the death at the age of 90 of the former British Prime Minister and elder statesman, the Right Honorable Sir Winston Spencer Churchill. With his passing, Mr. President, there ends a chapter in world history. Remarkable though it is how much happened during his lifetime, spanning as it did from Victorian England in 1874 to modern, nuclear-age England in 1965, how much more remarkable is it that the life of this one man should have had such a bearing on events during that lengthy period. Born in 1 874 at Blenheim Palace, the elder son of Lord Randolph Churchill, and a grandson of the seventh Duke of Marlborough, Sir Winston was educated at Harrow before entering the Royal Military College at Sandhurst. Following this, there began a prolific lifetime of service as a soldier and as a member of the House of Commons, which, he first entered in the year 1900. In Parliament, he immediately made his mark, and his first office carrie in 1905 when he was appointed UnderSecretary of State for the Colonies, an office which was to be succeeded by those of President of the Board of Trade, Home Secretary and First Lord of the Admiralty, before he rejoined the Army in 1915.
After active service, he again entered politics and took office, at various times, as Minister for Munitions, Secretary of State for War and Air, Secretary for the Colonies, Chancellor of the Exchequer and, once again, First Lord of the Admiralty when the Second World War began in 1939. Then war gave to him the opportunity to commence the outstanding service to his King, his country and the world, with which we are all personally familiar. As Prime Minister during those difficult war years, Sir Winston, by personal example and magnetism, and by sheer oratorical genius, lifted Britain from her plight and steered her through to victory. This was his finest hour, and it is for this that the world will always remember him - leading and inspiring the British people, servicemen and civilians alike, to heights of endurance and endeavour which saved the world from totalitarian forces.
Rejected by the people in the post-war period, he fought back again and became Prime Minister for another period from 1951-1955, after which he served again as a private member of the House of Commons until last year. Honora’ble senators will recall that, on the occasion of his final departure from the Parliament which he loved and for the rights of which he always fought, we in this chamber passed a motion recording our appreciation of his -
Mr. President, one could speak at great length of the life and talents of Sir Winston Churchill. That is not my purpose today, as I merely wish to record here in our Australian Senate our regret at the death of this great man, and to place on record, in an appropriate manner, our sympathy in the loss experienced by his widow and family and, indeed, by the people of Britain.
Mr. President, I move ;
That the Senate records with regret the death of Sir Winston Spencer Churchill, a Knight of the Garter, holder of the Order of Merit, Companion of Honour, after a lifetime of distinguished service to his Sovereign and country, and to the world.
It also places on record its admiration of and gratitude for his indomitable leadership in time of war, his magnificent and successful devotion to the cause of freedom and his outstanding contribution to parliamentary democracy, shares with the people of Britain their profound loss, and tenders its deep sympathy to his widow and family.
– Mr. President, on behalf of the members of the Australian Labour Party in the Senate, 1 second the motion which the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Paltridge) has proposed. It is fitting that the Senate should pay tribute to the memory of Sir Winston Churchill, a man of monumental stature. 1 do not try to emulate the vast number of eloquent and deserved tributes that his passing evoked in speech and writing all over the world. As a philosophic realist, he saw death as the inevitable and natural end of his earthly existence completing the cycle from birth through decades of unceasing development and the use of many and varied talents with which he was so richly endowed. Not long before his death he said, in answer to a question, that even if given the opportunity he would not want to live his life over again. That was, I believe, the answer of a man who rightly felt that he had fulfilled himself and had not lived in vain. So I think he would have wished that we should not mourn his passing but rather that, in terms of the motion before the Senate, we should extend our sympathy to his widow, the members of his family and the many intimate friends who miss him sorely.
I like to think of the many peaceful years that he had after the end of the war, secure in the knowledge that he had won an imperishable place in the history of his country - indeed of the world - and that he had the respect and affection of hrs fellow men. He deserved the magnificent funeral that was accorded him. He deserved the homage that world leaders paid to his memory at that ceremony. Especially he merited the feelings of gratitude and affection that his passing stirred in the hearts of many of the little people of his own country and of many other countries. He was a truly great Englishman, perhaps Che greatest. He excelled as orator, writer, artist, soldier, parliamentarian and patriot.
In retrospect, one can see that his life was a preparation for its climax during the war when his indomitable courage and leadership inspired Britons and their allies to almost superhuman sacrifices and achievements. As one writer put it -
In that electric moment, the soul of England seemed to be caught up in the person of one man. That man was Winston Spencer Churchill.
From time to time Australia has disagreed with Sir Winston in matters of high policy, but we in this country have inherited the British tradition and we express our admira-lion and respect for that same man - Churchill - who was in so many aspects its most notable product.
– I associate the Australian Country Party with the sentiments which have been expressed by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Paltridge) and the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) about that wonderful Britisher, Sir Winston Spencer Churchill. My admiration for Churchill began after reading his book “ Twenty Years After “ many years before the Second World War. That admiration grew over the years. It is a matter for regret that we in Australia did not have the pleasure of a visit by him.
During his 90 years this man Churchill saw six monarchs come and go. So much has been said about him over the past few months that very little remains to be said. In common with many thousands of Australians, I am very pleased indeed that the contributions to the Churchill Memorial Trust Fund are approximately double the target that was set. To paraphrase a famous statement, seldom have so many owed so much to one man.
– I wonder, Mx. President, whether it would be considered presumptuous of me on this historic occasion to make a reference or two to Sir Winston Churchill. Not in my own right, but as a member of Parliament and the representative of the people who have sent me here, I believe that I should put on record something of the feeling that one has on an occasion such as this. I shall not attempt to make a comprehensive reference, as others have done so well, but I recollect, as some of the things in this great man’s career, his assumption of the office of First Lord of the Admiralty, and his courage in anticipating the declaration of the First World War, so that the British Fleet was at its stations at the actual declaration of war.
Having read Alan Moorehead’s book on Gallipoli and other books, I wish to pay tribute to Churchill for the comprehensive strategy of the Dardanelles campaign which he conceived, but which miscarried in its execution. We recall that, ousted from office because he had to carry the responsibility for its failure, the alternative course that he steered was towards his regimental unit in France. He served there until he was recalled to take over the Ministry of Munitions. There his energies were responsible for the terrific expansion of production of munitions and equipment in the latter stages of the war, and notably for the introduction of the tank. lt is well, Mr. President, to put this historic figure in the perspective in which British subjects will love to remember him. In 1922 he failed to secure election to the House of Commons, after that glorious campaign which Lady Churchill waged in Dundee. He failed again in the campaign for Westminster. He had indifferent success as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the last years of the 1920’s; but in this day and age it is most relevant to remind ourselves that Churchill, when he saw the danger of Hitlerism growing, was at the nadir of his career, while Hitler was rising to the zenith of his career.
Churchill fought prevailing public Opinion and parliamentary agreement by insisting throughout the 1930’s on two things: One, arms, and second, the covenant. The title of one of his books was “ Arms and the Covenant “, its theme being the need to strengthen our arms and maintain the integrity of the Covenant of the League of Nations. Of those principles it is most pertinent to remind ourselves this day. On the outbreak of the Second World War the signal was sent out ‘ Winston is back “, and it lifted the spirits of many a sailor. A little later occurred the accident of history. After the failure of the Norwegian campaign, a Cabinet crisis developed in England only two days before the invasion of Belgium by Germany. Had it been delayed for two days, Churchill may not have been brought to the summit of power as Prime Minister. We do well to recall that they were the circumstances that brought him to office. He had condemned trenchantly the policy that was pursued at Munich, and incurred hostility so that he found it necessary to employ a personal bodyguard for a period of six months to ensure his own safety when leaving the House. And but for the chance that the parties of the day did not pull on an election, he probably would have been excluded even from the House of Commons.
His elevation to the Prime Ministership when Hitler crossed the Belgian border had a tremendous impact. We can never forget the broadcasts in which he presented to the world the most persuasive and effective advocacy in history and in which he appealed to the American nation. To me, the nobility of the man was made apparent when the news was received at an artillery station in New South Wales, where I happened to be because the outbreak of war with Japan prevented transit to the Middle East, about the sinking of two great ships under the command of Admiral Tom Phillips. Although he realised the tremendous blow that had been struck at our naval security in the Pacific, Churchill did not express other than pride at the effort of the admiral, who went down with his ships. His message to Australia that night was a terrific call to a nation in arms.
Political accident played just as much a part in Sir Winston Churchill’s electoral defeat as it did earlier in his accession to power. Let us recall the great contribution that he made, when in opposition, towards the cause, now hopefully being revived, of ensuring the unity of Europe. Let us now, in the terms of the motion proposed by the Leader of the
Government in the Senate (Senator Paltridge), record regret at his death just as we record pride in his life. To my mind, at his end it is most fitting that he finds repose in a village churchyard where he shares with all the Englishmen from whom he gained support and on whom he conferred magnificent leadership, in the words of Rupert Brooke -
Question resolved in the affirmative, honor able senators standing in their places.
– Mr. President, I suggest that, as a mark of respect to the memory of the late Senator the Honorable Harrie Wade and the late Sir Winston Churchill, the sitting of the Senate be suspended until 8 p.m.
Sitting suspended from 4.19 to 8 p.m.
Motion (by Senator Paltridge) agreed to -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Tuesday next, 23rd March, at 3 p.m.
Assent to the following Bills reported -
Copper and Brass Strip Bounty Bill 1964.
Representation Bill 1964.
States Grants (Special Assistance) Bill 1964.
Conciliation and Arbitration Bill 1964.
Meat Inspection Arrangements Bill 1964.
Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Bill 1964.
Seamen’s Compensation Bill 1964.
Papua and New Guinea Bill 1964.
Export Payments Insurance Corporation Bill 1964.
Repatriation Bill (No. 2) 1964.
Interim Forces Benefits Bill 1964.
Repatriation (Far East Strategic Reserve) Bill 1964.
Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Bill 1964.
Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court Bill 1964.
Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Bill (No. 3) 1964.
Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Bill (No. 2) 1964.
Income Tax (International Agreements) Bill 1964.
Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Bill (No. 2) 1964.
Cellulose Acetate Flake Bounty Bill (No. 2) 1964.
Salaries (Statutory Offices) Adjustment Bill (No. 2) 1964.
Crimes (Overseas) Bill 1964.
Loan (Airlines Equipment) Bill 1964.
Television Stations Licence Fees Bill 1964.
Broadcasting Stations Licence Fees Bill 1964.
Broadcasting and Television Stations Licence Fees Repeal Bill 1964.
Broadcasting and Television Bill (No. 2) 1964.
Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1964-65.
Customs Tariff Bill (No. 4) 1964.
Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Bill (No. 4) 1964.
Excise Tariff Bill 1964.
National Service Bill 1964.
States Grants (Water Resources) Bill 1964.
Customs Tariff Validation Bill 1964.
Universities (Financial Assistance) Bill 1964.
States Grants (Universities) Bill 1964.
Motions (by Senator McKenna) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave of absence for one month be granted to Senator Arnold on account of ill health.
That leave of absence for two months be granted to Senator Brown on account of ill health.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation whether he has seen reports that Ansett-A.N.A. is applying to the Director-General of Civil Aviation for equal access with Trans-Australia Airlines to the Melbourne-Canberra-Sydney route. I ask also whether he has seen a report of a statement by Mr. R. M. Ansett that if the Director-General did not grant him equal access he would appeal to Mr. Justice Spicer. Has the Minister made any protest to Mr. Ansett against this attempted intimidation of the Director-General in carrying out what is a quasi-judicial function? If not, why not? Is the Minister aware that during the period of three months in1960 when Ansett-A.N.A. and Trans-Australia Airlines provided services of equal frequency, Trans-Australia Airlines carried 60 per cent. of the total traffic in and out of Canberra? Will he take action to ensure that the people who wish to travel on Trans-Australia Airlines aircraft are not forced to travel on AnsettA.N.A. aircraft by a decision which reduces the frequency of Trans-Australia Airlines flights into Canberra?
– The two airline system is well known to the honorable senator. The right of appeal in relation to routes and carrying capacities is first of all to the Director-General of Civil Aviation. He has made about 65 decisions in this respect since the legislation first came into operation and none of these decisions has ever been challenged by either airline.
The question of the Adelaide-Darwin route arose and the Director-General gave a decision. The airline concerned asked for the decision to be given in writing, as it was entitled to do under the Act. Having received the Director-General’s reasons in writing, the airline then proceeded to take the next normal step of appealing to Mr. Justice Spicer, who is chairman of the appeal tribunal. Mr. Justice Spicer heard the appeal and gave the decision. I think it is rather ludicrous for the honorable senator to suggest that the Director-general was intimidated or that there was any attempt to intimidate the Director-General. J think the honorable senator knows the Director-General as well as some of the rest of us know him, and he should know that he is not a man to be intimidated. The Director-General gave this decision, which was his sixty-fifth decision. The previous 64 decisions have been accepted without any question at all by the airlines. I think that record is enough to show that he is impartial and gives decisions according to his understanding of the legislation under which he operates. This was the first case to go to the chairman of the appeal tribunal, Mr. Justice Spicer, who gave his decision in place of the Director-General’s decision. It affects trunk line services, not only from Darwin to Adelaide but also to Canberra and Mount Isa. That is a matter that is now being sorted out by the Director-General in his capacity as Co-ordinator. Both airlines have appeared before him. When he makes a decision, whether or not the issue will go to Mr. Justice Spicer on appeal will be a matter for either of the airlines, which have a perfect right to appeal under whatever circumstances may arise.
– I preface a question, which I direct to the Minister for Shipping and Transport, by stating that pastoralists east of Kalgoorlie are experiencing extreme drought conditions. So much is this so that many of their stock are not getting sufficient water. As a result, I understand, they have made certain approaches to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Will the Minister say whether any approaches have really been made and whether the Commonwealth Government is taking steps to use the Commonwealth Railways for transporting water to those areas that are suffering so severely under drought conditions?
- Senator Scott made me aware of his intention to ask this question, thereby giving me an opportunity to confer with the Minister for Shipping and Transport who has provided me with the following information -
An approach was made to Commonwealth Railways about the end of February to provide a substantial quantity of water each week for graziers between Kalgoorlie and Cook on the TransAustralian line. Those graziers are in the process of developing their holdings and have not had sufficient rain to give a run-off into their new dams in over nineteen months. For the same reason, however, the Commonwealth Railways itself has had to ration water along the Trans-Australian line and has been fully extended with its available rollingstock to keep sufficient water supplied for its own staff and for other human requirements. The quantity asked for by the graziers to maintain their sheep numbers was greater than the total capacity of Commonwealth Railways to carry for ali purposes. However, at my suggestion a conference was called with the Chief Traffic Manager and representatives of the graziers at Kalgoorlie to ascertain the minimum quantities of water which would be of assistance to the graziers, and to make whatever arrangements could be made in the circumstances to give some assistance. The conference was held last week, and satisfactory arrangements were made to provide some water, amounting to 33,000 gallons in the first week and 24,000 gallons weekly thereafter, with a possibility of 48,000 gallons a week if the turn-round of the water tanks was quick enough. These quantities were to be made available at concession rates, which would barely cover the costs of the Railways, for a limited period in the hope that rain would fall in the near future.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. In view of the importance to Australian oil explorers of the ownership of overseas tanker transport facilities, and also in view of the fact that the international political and military situation makes it essential for us not only to press on with oil exploration and production but also to assure continuous transport facilities, will the Minister make inquiries into the activities of foreign-owned oil tankers operating on the Australian coast? Will he consult with his Cabinet colleagues with a view to arranging for the Australian Na’ional Line to purchase the three R. W. Miller tankers which, according to Press reports, will be offered for sale, and could be lost to the Australian coastal shipping trade?
– The question is one which obviously requires some consideration by the Minister himself if adequate answers are to be given to all the points raised by the honorable senator. I shall certainly take an early opportunity to refer the question to him. It may, however, be of some use if, by way of an interim answer, I point out that Australian owned tankers operating on the coast have a statutory right to preference in loadings for carriage around the coast, as against non-Australian owned tankers. This has been laid down in the Navigation Act for many years and is the position today. The honorable senator referred to tankers owned by the Miller organisation. It is not within the power of the Commonwealth Minister to dictate which Australian owned ships shall receive cargoes; his power is merely to ensure that Australian owned ships shall receive priority of loadings over nonAustralian owned ships. From my reading of the Press reports - I have not seen any communication from Mr. Miller - Mr. Miller’s present difficulty arises from the fact that at the moment there are more Australian owned ships on the coast than was the case when he started his venture by buying ships and employing them on the coast. I understand that the number will increase from this time on. In other words, Mr. Miller is now meeting with competition from other Australian owned vessels.
– Because the Senate is jealous of the use to which regulatory power is put, I should be grateful, Mr. President, if you would permit me to ask a question of the Minister for Customs and Excise. It it a fact that regulatory power has been used to prohibit the importation into Australia of four issues of a United States magazine called “Fact”? If that is so, under what regulation has this power been exercised? I should like the Minister to say also whether a third allegation by the Australian monthly periodical “ Nation “ - the periodical which published the first two allegations - is true, namely, that the prohibition of importation has been made with a political bias.
– I am grateful to the honorable senator for asking this question because it enables me to supply the Senate with the facts in relation to regulatory power, as the honorable senator chooses to describe it, concerning censorship. It is quite true that importation of four issues of the magazine “Fact” has been prohibited under Item 22 of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations. It is the normal practice for periodicals and magazines to be dealt with under Item 22, which provides for prohibiting the importation of literature which unduly emphasises matters of sex, horror, violence or crime.
Honorable senators will recognise that this is a delegated authority because, quite clearly, the Minister for Customs and Excise would not have enough hours in the day and the night personally to handle all the magazines containing this particular type of literature which goes across the board. But I want to make it clear that it is competent for any publisher or any constituent or any member of parliament to ask the Minister to have an examination made of any item which has been prohibited under Regulation 22. It is my practice - and indeed I understand it was the practice of my predecessor - that where a request is made for a review of an item under Regulation 22 the Minister personally sets about having a critical look at it. I understand reference has been made to volume 6 of “ Fact “ in criticism of this decision to prohibit. Following representations made to me I have undertaken to review the decision, which I think everybody will recognise is a normal and healthy approach to the matter. Concerning the final point raised by Senator Cormack - I know he raised it only for the purpose of bringing out the issue - I would like to say that I have personally seen some copies of this particular magazine and I am satisfied that at least the ones I saw did, in fact, come within the province of Regulation 22 which, I repeat, concerns matters of sex, horror, violence or crime. There is no suggestion at all that any prohibitions under Regulation 22 have ever had anything to do, in the field of censorship, with political matter or, indeed, commercial practice.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Repatriation.
Has a war widow’s pension been granted to the wife of the late Frank Partridge, a winner of the Victoria Cross? Bearing in mind the finding of a New South Wales coroner that Mr. Partridge’s death resulted from fatal injuries received in a motor car accident outside Bellingen, on what ground was the Department satisfied that Mr. Partridge’s death was attributable to war caused disabilities? Was Mrs. Partridge in fact given a war widow’s pension because her husband had won the Victoria Cross, or was any preferential treatment - for any reason at all - accorded his widow? Will the Minister ensure that all applicants for war widow’s pensions receive sympathetic consideration comparable with that which appears to have been given to Mrs. Partridge?
– I wish to inform the honorable senator that Mrs. Partridge lodged a claim for a war widow’s pension on 30th April 1964. Following an investigation, the Repatriation Board in New South Wales determined on 16th September 1964 that her husband’s death was not due to war service. Mrs. Partridge then followed the normal procedure. She appealed against this decision on 1st October 1964 and the appeal was disallowed by the Repatriation Commission on 10th December 1964. Then once again she exercised the rights to which she and other applicants are entitled. She appealed to a War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal. This appeal was lodged on 29th December 1964 and at the hearing, on 8th March 1965, the Tribunal upheld the appeal with effect from 24th March 1964, the day after Mr. Partridge’s death. I was in Perth when I heard of this and, unfortunately, some of our newspapers made it appear that this pension was granted as an act of grace, which was very far from the truth. I accordingly immediately issued a Press statement saying that the pension was granted following her appeal to a War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal. I said this was the normal procedure open to any applicant for a war pension. I also said that there was no question of any special act of grace to Mrs. Partridge nor of any battle with the Repatriation Department which the newspapers alleged had occurred. This was the normal procedure. I cannot give any reason at all for the decision of the War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal. It is an independent body set up to decide these cases on an independent basis. Reasons are never given for decisions. In the 12 months period ended in June of last year, the War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal allowed 1.555 appeals. This case was one of these appeals that the Tribunal has allowed from time to time.
– They were not all appeals by war widows.
– No, they were not all appeals by war widows, but Mrs. Partridge exercised the right that a war widow has and, in her case, the War Pensions Entitlement Appeal Tribunal granted her application.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry take up with the Tasmanian Minister for Agriculture the desirability of providing members of this Parliament with a copy of a report by a Tasmanian Government committee set up to investigate soldier settlement on King Island?
– I will have very much pleasure in conveying the request made by Senator Lillico to the Minister for Primary Industry to see whether it can be complied with.
– Will the Minister representing the Attorney-General inform me why the Attorney-General has not replied to a question I asked in the Senate in November last, concerning the sale of Malta Government lottery tickets in the Commonwealth to migrants who were unable to obtain the results of these lotteries? Will the Prime Minister request the Chairman of the Public Service Board to examine thoroughly the office of the AttorneyGeneral to ascertain why correspondence relating to this matter has not received proper attention?
– Mr. President, I am unable to tell the honorable senator why the Attorney-General has not answered the particular question, if indeed he has not, but 1 will bring the remarks of the honorable senator to the attention of the AttorneyGeneral.
– I direct a question to the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research. Can the Minister indicate when legislation may be expected to reach Parliament to extend the period of operation of the present legislation making provision for science blocks and science equipment for secondary schools? Can the Minister state broadly the nature of any legislation which will deal with new matter also rather than just provide an extension of the operation of existing legislation?
– I would hope, but I would not give any guarantee, that we might be able to bring in legislation to extend the present grant for schools to assist in the provision of science facilities either in this session or very early in the next session. I am not quite clear what the honorable senator means when he states that this legislation will deal with new matter, because I do not know what new matter he has in mind. I do not know of any new matter. All I have in mind is the extension of the existing scheme for a period of a triennium so that some planning forward may be done. Other than that, 1 would envisage that the legislation would follow much the same lines as the previous legislation on this matter.
– I address my question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Army or the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service. T have noticed statements to the effect that in balloting for compulsory military service the first few ballots were held in public and the rest in private. In the first place, is it not desirable that all of the balloting should be open to scrutiny by such members of the public as wish to witness it? Secondly, is it true, as stated in the publications that I have seen, that marbles are drawn out of a barrel, representing particular days and relating to certain numbers of youths who have birthdays on those days, and that when the required numbers have been obtained the balloting ceases? If this is so, why are not the dates which result from a ballot published in the daily Press the day following the ballot so that all youths whose birthdays occur on those dates will be able to commence planning their activities to meet the requirements of the Act?
– I do not know the reasons which may be behind the way in which the ballots are being conducted, but I will ask the Minister for Labour and National Service to let me know and I will convey his answer to the honorable senator.
– I preface my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport by stating that in the last sessional period I received from the Minister, in reply to a question that I asked, an assurance that total and permanent incapacity pensioners and 100 per cent, pensioners under the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act would receive treatment in repatriation hospitals. There has been a statement of the Government’s policy on this matter to this effect, but I understand that patients requiring treatment cannot receive it because the regulations have not been completed and proper arrangements have not been made for the necessary funds to cover the cost of this treatment. Assuming this is a correct statement of the position, will the Minister take steps to have the matter remedied at the earliest date?
– I remember the honorable senator raising this matter by way of question during the last sessional period. I am not aware of the present position but I will find out and let him’ know at the earliest date.
– My question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate arises out of the answer he gave to Senator Scott in respect of the transport by Commonwealth Railways of water for stock that is suffering as a result of the present drought conditions east of Kalgoorlie. What will be the source of supply of any water transported by Commonwealth Railways?
– As I understand the information which has been given to me by Mr. Freeth, this water will be transported from Kalgoorlie. One assumes that it will come from the Kalgoorlie water scheme.
– 1 direct my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of the lesson given to the Playford Government by the people of South Australia, does the Menzies Government still intend to persist with its gerrymander of the Australian electorate and to deny to the Australian people the democratic right of one elector, one vote, one value?
– The honorable senator races in front of himself if he assumes that whatever electoral proposals are laid before this House will be a gerrymander. I advise him to wait until he sees the proposals, when he will be able to make a considered judgment upon them. Whether he agrees’ with the proposals or not, his comments at that time may be intelligible. They are not now.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. I refer to a recent reported statement by Dr. H. G. Furnell, a leading Melbourne gynaecologist, made on behalf of a team of surgeons at St. Vincent’s Hospital, that the Government had refused to act on his recommendation to send a surgical team to Indonesia. I ask the Minister: (1) Did Dr. Furnell say, in support of his suggestion, that whatever the political differences between the two countries, Australia could help Indonesia in the medical training field and that there was in Indonesia a serious shortage of equipment, doctors and nurses? (2) Did the Department reject Dr. Furnell’s recommendation on the ground that no request had been received from the Indonesian Government and that such a request was necessary under the Colombo Plan? (3) Will the Minister undertake to review the Department’s decision in this matter and try to find a way, quite apart from the Colombo Plan, whereby Australia can make a genuine humanitarian contribution to the health problems of our near neighbour, Indonesia?
– The first thing I should like to say in answer to the honorable senator’s question is that .there is no reason whatsoever why the Government or the Department should act on recommendations from any individual who wants to go somewhere and do some work.
– But the Government sent him there.
– No. With greatrespect, the Government had not asked him for recommendations.
– .But the Government had paid for him to go up there.
– The point is that there is no situation obtaining, nor do I think one should obtain, in which the Government’s foreign affairs assistance programme depends on accepting the recommendations of any individual. It is not a matter on which a particular individual’s recommendations should be binding on the Government. There is a great deal of assistance, in the field of health, being given to countries in that area and particularly, as the honorable senator will know if he has studied this matter, in combating tuberculosis and other diseases. It may be a matter of opinion whether surgery, which is what Dr. Furnell is interested in, should or should not be demonstrated; but the mere fact that a recommendation for a demonstration of surgery is not accepted does not mean that a great deal of assistance in the field of health is not being given to countries in the area.
The honorable senator asked whether Dr. Furnell had said something in particular. I am not certain of what he said, nor am I certain of what the Department replied to him, but it is a fact that the Department does require a request from a foreign government for a particular form of assistance, because it does not wish to be in the position of seeming to push on a government assistance which that government does not want. The answer to the third part of the honorable senator’s question is: “ No “.
– I have to advise the Senate that the Honorable W. B. Tennent, M.P., Chairman of the General Council of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and a member of the New Zealand Parliament, is within the precincts of the Senate. With the concurrence of honorable senators, I propose to invite him to take a seat on the floor of the Senate.
Honorable Senators. - Hear, hear! (Mr. Tennent thereupon entered the Senate, and was seated accordingly.)
– I ask the
Minister for Civil Aviation a question which arises from an earlier question asked by Senator Kennelly. I ask: Has Trans-Australia Airlines, as a result of a decision of the DirectorGeneral of Civil Aviation, been refused the right to fly from Adelaide to Canberra each Tuesday, that being the day on which South Australian members of the Federal Parliament use the Adelaide to Canberra service and one of the few days on which aircraft operating this service are fully loaded? As today, the first day of the current sessional period, the only available aircraft was two hours late in leaving Adelaide and busy members of Parliament were forced to wait for two hours at the Adelaide airport, will the Government adopt on this route the two airline system which it supports to permit a choice of aircraft, knowing that members will support the airline which can fly to schedule?
– I have no knowledge at the moment of the timetables of the individual airlines. If the honorable senator places his question on the noticepaper, I shall get him an answer as soon as possible.
– I address this question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate: In view of the large increases in salaries and allowances that were granted to both members of Parliament and top public servants and which helped considerably to increase the cost of living and inflation in this country, why is the Government taking the unexpected and almost unprecedented step of opposing just claims by workers before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission for an increase of the basic wage to meet the increased cost of goods over the past six months?
– As has been its practice on many prior occasions, the Commonwealth Government is making available to the Commission certain information which it regards as essential to bring to the Commission’s notice before it makes a determination. As I have indicated, the Government is following the practice that it has adopted in the past.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for National Development: What progress has been made by the Government towards implementing its election promise, made 16 months ago in November 1963, that petroleum products would be made available in rural areas throughout Australia at no more than 4d. a gallon above the level of capital city prices? Can he indicate when the proposal will become operative? What is causing the delay in its implementation?
– Answering the last part of the question first, I take the opportunity to point out to the honorable senator something which I am sure he already realises: The introduction of the scheme raises a number of extremely complex problems - constitutional problems involving consultations with the States, consultations with suppliers, an examination not only of costs in general, but of transport costs in particular, and a multitude of other things. I want the honorable senator to know that the Government has had this matter before it for a long time but because of the nature of the inquiries, a good deal of time is needed before a final determination can be made. Progress has been made. I cannot answer with precision as to when the legislation will be introduced, but I shall refer the question to my colleague, who may be in a position, even if he cannot give a precise date, to indicate how much closer we are to the solution of the problem than we were when we started 16 months ago.
– I ask the Minister representing the Prime Minister a question. Has the Prime Minister received any representations for the appointment of the defeated and discredited ex-Premier of South Australia to the position of GovernorGeneral.
– Why discredited?
– The honorable senator has not read the voting figures.
– Order! Will the honorable senator ask his question?
– Would the Prime Minister agree that it would be offensive to democrats to appoint as GovernorGeneral a person who remained in office by gerrymandering the electorates for 20 years, contrary to the expressed will of the people of South Australia?
– I believe that there aTe few Australians, whatever their political affiliations, who would regard the former Premier of South Australia, Sir Thomas Playford, as being in any way discredited. Only people of the type of Senator Cavanagh would regard him in that light. I am not aware what representations the Prime Minister has received in this matter. However, I hazard a guess that what the honorable senator takes time off to refer to is one of the Press reports on which he invariably relies to frame his questions and to make his speeches in this place. The basis of the question that he asks today is probably equally as unreliable as other material he has used as the basis of questions he has asked in the past.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. I ask: Has the report of the Vernon Committee which was inquiring into economic matters been received by the Government? When is it expected that it will be tabled?
– As far as I am aware, the report is not yet to hand.
– No, not yet.
– The honorable senator who is interjecting claims to know far more about it than I do. I refer Senator
Murphy to the honorable senator from Queensland. I have no further information on the matter.
– Has the
Minister for Civil Aviation received complaints from the Association of Commercial Flying Organisations of Australia about Ansett Transport Industries Limited acquiring the Australian distributorship for Piper light aircraft, and objections to the expansionist policy of a Government protected airline monopoly which now seeks to control yet another branch of Australian aviation? Bearing in mind the statement attributed to the Deputy Leader of the Country Party in New South Wales in August last, that the man in the street can be excused for believing that R. M. Ansett dictates Commonwealth civil aviation policy, will the Minister prove that this is not so by taking action to protect the interests of Australia’s existing established light aircraft operators?
– I am happy to tell the honorable senator that there has been a conference, as requested by the light aircraft industry’s association and Ansett Transport Industries Limited. Both sides did the Director-General of Civil Aviation the honour of asking him to preside. The association has issued a statement to the effect that it is perfectly satisfied with the position as it is at the present moment and that it is quite aware of the fact that Ansett Transport Industries has no intention of entering the light aircraft industry as such. The light aircraft industry is happy indeed to know-
– ls Ansett still going to handle Piper aircraft?
– That is what the honorable senator asked.
– The Minister does not need the honorable senator’s assistance.
– I was asked, I think, whether I would take steps to see that some agency agreement between an airline company and an aircraft manufacturing company was cancelled. Australia is a country in which a manufacturer has freedom to choose any agency he wishes. This is a perfectly normal business deal which should be allowed to take place.
– I direct a question to the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research. In view of the widespread criticism from State Governments, university heads and other educationists, of the Government’s failure to release to the Parliament and the public the Martin committee’s report on tertiary education, when may the Parliament and the people expect to see this jealously protected document?
– The Parliament may expect to see this document, which has been very carefully studied, today week, when we propose not only to lay the document on the table but also to make a statement on what the Government is prepared to do in relation to the recommendations in the document. This is absolutely essential for any planning to be done by anybody in relation to what is in the document.
“VOYAGER” ROYAL COMMISSION.
(Question No. 290.)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The following reply to Senator Murphy’s question is provided by the Prime Minister: -
Mr. Smyth of Queen’s Counsel with Mr. Shepherd of Counsel were appointed by the Commonwealth to assist the Commission inquiring into the “ Voyager “-“ Melbourne “ collision. As Counsel assisting the Commission, Mr. Smyth’s first duty was owed to the Commission. This duty could not be circumscribed or enlarged by instructions from outside the Commission and in performing it he was entitled to exercise all the discretion possessed by members of his profession.
(Question No. 300.)
asked the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research, upon notice -
What investigations are intended to be carried out by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization during 1964-65 into poisonous residues which are left on foods intended for human consumption as a result of the use of pesticides, weedicides, insecticides and other agricultural poisons?
– The following answer is provided to the honorable senator’s question: -
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is not conducting any research into the problem of pesticide residues in foods for human consumption. Since health standards for foodstuffs intended for consumption in Australia come primarily within the jurisdiction of State Departments of Health, the various chemical analyses and investigations being carried out in connection with pesticide residues are being undertaken by the various State Departments of Health and Agriculture.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization is, however, represented on a number of committees which have been established by the Australian Agricultural Council and the National Health and Medical Research Council to examine various aspects of the problem. The C.S.I.R.O. Division of Food Preservation, for instance, is represented on the Apple and Pear Spray Residue Committee of the Standing Committee on Agriculture and co-operates with the New South Wales Department of Agriculture on the development of. improved methods for the removal of certain spray residues from apples and pears. The division also serves on other committees established by the National Health and Medical Research Council which are responsible for establishing safe tolerances for residues. Again, the C.S.I.R.O. Divisions of Entomology and Plant Industry are represented on two sub-committees of the Standing Committee on Agriculture which are concerned with the particular problem of pesticide residues in meat.
While C.S.I.R.O. is not involved directly with research on pesticide residues, it is well aware of the importance of this problem and much of its research on the control of weeds and insects is undertaken with a view to the possible development of control methods which would reduce the need to rely on pesticides.
(Question No. 353.)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honorable senator’s question: - 1 and 2. The following schedule shows salaries received by medical technologists employed by the Commonwealth in the six States and in the Australian Capital Territory and In the Northern Territory: -
3 to 6- In its Report to Parliament for the year 1963-64, the Public Service Board drew attention to the fact that another development in pay policy for categories within the Third Division was the decision of the Board that in future pay rates for medical technologists should no longer be based on the general practice of establishing a uniform rate of pay for application throughout the Commonwealth. Following examination by a board/ departmental working party, the Board concluded that the dominant employers in this field were the various State authorities and that, in view of the widely divergent rates of pay established by these authorities, the application of a uniform Commonwealth rate would be unduly disruptive. Accor dingly, the Board decided that the pay rates for this Third Division group should, in each State, be based on the Commonwealth Service basic was plus the marginal rates determined by the S:s:o authorities, with such rounding off as was necessary to provide a balanced salary scale.
– I have receive] from Senator Cant an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of tha
Senate for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of public importance, namely -
The need for the Commonwealth Government to make an immediate favorable decision to grant the request of the Western Australian Government for financial assistance to complete the Ord River Irrigation Scheme and associated works and housing.
– 1 move -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until the next day of sitting at 3. IS p.m.
It is well known that an application for assistance to complete the major works on the Ord River was made to the Commonwealth Government by the Western Australian Government some 12 months ago. The plan was set out in detail and included the amount of money required over a period of time and the works that were proposed to be carried out. At no time has the Commonwealth Government requested further information from the Western Australian Government on this matter. Nevertheless in answer to a question today in another place the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) said that no decision in respect of this matter had been made and he did not expect that a decision would be made until the Government had received sufficient information. I do not know what sort of duplicity this is. If the Commonwealth Government was in any doubt about the details of plans that the Western Australian Government had placed before it for assistance in this matter I would have thought that, in a period of less than 12 months, it would have sought further information in order to make up its mind as to whether the assistance would be forthcoming or not. This is the latest development and it is the first time that I have heard that the Commonwealth Government requires further information from the Western Australian Government or even from its own Northern Division within the Department of National Development.
It rather amazes one when we come to this stage, in view of the various statements which have been made over this time by the Prime Minister in respect of the granting of assistance. Nevertheless this application has been in the hands of the Commonwealth Government for a period of approximately twelve months and nothing further has been heard about it. It is now approximately twelve months since the Commonwealth Government appointed the Director of the Northern Division of the Department of National Development. Dr. Rex Patterson is head of that Division, but nothing has been done in the north since he was appointed. Of course, I exclude the beef roads and the brigalow land development, which were programmes which had been approved prior to the Northern Division being set up. Since the Northern Division was set up there has not been one penny forthcoming for nothern development in Australia. Nevertheless Dr. Patterson has expressed himself as being 100 per cent, in favour of the completion of the Ord River project, but nothing more has been heard of it.
During the Senate election campaign - this is where I accuse the Prime Minister of duplicity - the Prime Minister told the people of Western Australia that consideration of the grant for the continuation of the construction of the Ord River scheme would be given priority at the first Cabinet meeting after the election. It is now four months since that election took place and, again, we have heard nothing from the Prime Minister about this matter except in an answer which was given to a question today. It goes a little further than that, too. I know that in July 1963 the Prime Minister, at the invitation of the Western Australian Government, went to Kununurra to open the diversion dam. I happened to be in Wyndham at the time that the dam was opened. I was not at the opening because I was not invited to attend. As reported in “The West Australian “, the Prime Minister said at that time -
We are not at the end of something her* today - we are at the beginning of something.
And he saw the major project on the Ord River as something which could not be postponed indefinitely. This was in 1963. He went on to say -
If this were just a matter of opening a dam of this particular size - if this were just a matter of opening something that deals with a relatively few thousand acres of land - somebody might say that intrinsically that is a matter of no great moment. That kind of thing must be duplicated in many places of the world.
But it is more than that. This is a ‘ most symbolic occasion. Man has here conquered nature in the most spectacular fashion, and has done it in a part of Australia in which it was needed - and needed desperately for the future of our country.
But it has happened and, having happened, it will go on. And, as it goes on, more and more people living 1,500 or 2,000 miles away from here will become interested in it and will come to realise that what is going on up here is rather more important than what is going on in Toorak or Bellevue Hill.
That is the opinion that the Prime Minister had of it in July 1963.
This encouraged the Western Australian Government to go into some detail and prepare a case for assistance. That case was submitted to the Commonwealth Government but nothing further was heard about it. lt seems to me that the Commonwealth Government in respect of this particular project has more faces than Eve. We hear contradictory statements all the time. I seem to remember some talk some time ago about faces in another connection, but I think there are more faces associated with this matter than there was in respect of that one.
The application for assistance by the Government of Western Australia is rather a minor one when one considers the manner in which it is made. The actual dam to store approximately seven times as much water as is contained in Sydney Harbour will cost £8i million. That is not the end of it, of course. It is no good just having the water in the dam. Some use has to be made of it. There are associated works in connection with irrigation. Another £11 million will be needed to complete the irrigation works, making a total expenditure for the dam and the irrigation works of approximately £19i million. Up to date, approximately £8.5 million has been spent on this project. I hope to show later that in the short time that the project has been in production it has proved to be quite an economical proposition and that it is well worth the expenditure of the money for which the Western Australian Government has asked. I suggest that if the money for the completion of the scheme - the extra £30 million for which the Government of Western Australia asks - is not forthcoming, then very much of the £8.5 million that has been spent on the preliminary works, if I may term them as such, will be wasted because the project will be too small to be an economic proposition. The water, while it can be stored and while the dam is not silted up, could be used for various purposes but, gradually, over a period of time, the £8.5 million would go for nothing. Therefore, it is important that the decision in respect of this matter be made fairly quickly or, at least, that the Western Australian Government be told where it stands in respect of this particular project.
The Commonwealth Government, when it made the grant to Western Australia in 1958 to enable it to spend £5 million north of the 20th parallel on projects approved by it, approved a portion of that money being spent on the Ord River project. That very fact was sufficient to encourage the people of Western Australia and, indeed, the people of Australia, to believe that the rest of the money would be available for the completion of the scheme. On several occasions since I have been in the Senate, I have asked questions as to whether the Government would be prepared to con<e in behind this scheme to the extent necessary to complete it. On no occasion have I been able to get from the Government front bench the undertaking to provide the necessary finance to complete this scheme. This has always been put off. Government back bench members have always said that the money would be available, but they do not make the money available. It is the Government front bench that does. On no occasion have Government front benchers been prepared to commit themselves.
I suggest that the people of Western Australia are becoming a little bit tired of this state of affairs. I think the people of Australia are becoming a little bit tired of it too. After all, what happens on the Ord River scheme can be taken, I think, as the yardstick for what will happen in respect of northern development within, perhaps, the next 25 years. This is a matter that we have to look at. There have been various estimates of the length of time that Australia has to develop and populate its north. I am not going to be one of the star gazers in respect of this matter. But the most firm prediction that I have seen anywhere limited the Australian Government to 25 years to start to develop and populate northern Australia or, at least, to encourage some other nation to think of doing it for us. The application by the Government of Western Australia for £30 million is spread over 15 years, or three fifths of the estimated time that we have for the development of this part of Australia. So, honorable senators can see that if some move is not started in this direction, then the people of Australia cannot be blamed if they relieve that this Government is insincere when it talks about the development of northern Australia. The possibility of the development of this belief has to be forestalled because the people have been encouraged to believe by various projects that have been put into operation at different limes by the Government - and I do not take any credit away from the Government for those projects - that the development of northern Australia was at least gaining some momentum.
This was particularly so in the last 12 months’ period When the Government said that the development of northern Australia was so important that it intended to set up the Northern Division in the Department of National Development. That was done, but nothing further has been done. I do not know whether Dr. Patterson or his officers have made any recommendations to the Government. 1 do know that Dr. Patterson has said publicly that he favours this particular project. Nevertheless, the Government has mot done anything in this regard during the last 12 months when the Australian people were expecting that northern development would receive some momentum. I cannot repeat too often that the people of Australia, and particularly of Queensland and Western Australia, are looking to what happens at the Ord River to indicate whether the Government is sincere in its attitude towards northern development because They regard this scheme as the barometer of what may happen in northern Australia. At this stage the Commonwealth Government cannot afford the delay in making up its mind. If more information is required from the West Austraiian Government or from the Department of National Development, then the Commonwealth Government should be seeking that information with the greatest haste.
This must be done at once because even now approximately two years of development has been lost as a result of the Government delaying a decision which the Prime Minister said would be made early after the Senate election. The West Australian Government expected a decision - a favourable decision, of course - in December or
January. This would have given lt tha opportunity to call tenders throughout the world for the work to be performed, to process those tenders and to allocate contracts! If a decision is made now some, but not all, of the lost time can. be salvaged. lt will take some months to call for tenders and then allocate the contracts. There is only a comparatively short dry season in which to perform work in this part of the world and for this reason decisions have to be made somewhat in advance.
It is true that at present one contractor is still on the field. Thiess Bros. Pty. Ltd. is still doing some irrigation work but other contractors have left and have taken their workmen and plant with them. All this has to be returned to the site before work can recommence.
Even though the State Government wants £30 million spread over 15 years, which averages out at only peanuts - £2 million a year - it does not even want £2 million a year in the first two years. The State Government has asked for £320,000 in 1964-65 to enable it to build access roads and to do other things that are necessary to allow contractors to get in to the area to perform the required works at the site of the main dam. The amount required for 1965-66 is only £700,000. These are not great demands on the Treasury. The highest amount that would be required in any one year in the 15-year period is £2,900,000.
I do not want to be critical of Commonwealth expenditure in other avenues. Least of all do I want to be critical of the expenditure by the Commonwealth Government in Papua and New Guinea, which is running at approximately £30 million a year. If the recommendations that have been put forward are accepted, this will increase to £50 million a year. I do not deny that the Australian Government has a responsibility to advance the cause of independence in Papua and New Guinea. Nevertheless there is no certain gain to Australia for the expenditure of this amount. If we bring Papua and New Guinea to a stage of independence within a reasonable time we will gain a large measure of international goodwill. We hope that we will gain the friendship and goodwill of the people of Papua and New Guinea, but there is no guarantee of this.
Here the West Australian Government is seeking funds for a minor project, one that will require over 15 years about the same amount that is expended >n Papua and New Guinea every year. I hope to be able to show that this amount will be expended profitably for Australian producers and for the people of Australia generally.
The Commonwealth Government also spends between f 20 million and £30 million annually on the Snowy Mountains scheme, depending on the work programmed for the year. This annual expenditure somewhat approximates the amount that the West Australian Government requires over a period of 15 years. Then we are committed to sizeable annual expenditure on the Colombo Plan and to a maximum expenditure of £6 million on the development of the Indus basin. These are two worthwhile projects, but are they any more worthwhile than the development of the northern part of Australia? That is the question that I pose to the Government. ] do not regard the other projects that I have mentioned as being of no importance, but I say to the Senate and to the Australian people that the development of our northern area is of prime importance to the Australian nation.
It may be thought that this matter is not urgent and that it could have stood over until some other time, but every day that is lost now while we wait for a decision by the Commonwealth Government loses us not one day but months and perhaps years in the completion of the scheme. We know that we are running into a time of full employment. This is a hard area in which to work and while there is full employment contractors will have difficulty in getting labour to go to this isolated district. This is a factor that the Government must take into consideration. While some unskilled labour is available - the labour available now is mainly unskilled - a decision should be made so that contractors can commence building up their labour force. Let me emphasise that the time lost by waiting for a decision accumulates at a rapid rate and as a consequence there will be a hiatus in the development of the Ord River scheme if a decision is not made fairly quickly. In fact, if a decision is not made within the next month the Commonwealth Government might just as well postpone a decision until next December because there will be no possibility of doing any work during the financial year 1964-65. This would set back the scheme much further.
The total amount required for the dam and associated water works is £19.3 million. In addition, the Western Australian Government desires to construct hydro-electric works at the dam to produce power as cheaply as possible for use by the farmers and any secondary industry that may raise its head in the area. It is also necessary to provide housing for the work force that will be required and for the farmers who will be in the area. An additional £10.7 million is required for the hydro-electric works and for housing. The proposed hydro-electric works are not quite as urgent as are the dam and irrigation works and could be commenced at any time after the main project begins. If the Commonwealth Government thinks that these works should be considered separately, some £7 million could be held back from the grant required by the Western Australian Government. The £4 million required for housing could quite easily be made a repayable loan because the people who obtain the accommodation will either rent or purchase it from the State Government. Thus, if the Commonwealth does not agree to the proposed hydro-electric works, the amount of Commonwealth expenditure in the initial stage will be only about £20 million. I do not think this is a very big price for a State Government to ask in order to give momentum to the development of approximately half of Australia. It is something that the Commonwealth Government should take into consideration.
It may be argued that the scheme has not yet proved itself. 1 suppose this is something that is worthy of argument. I took the trouble to go to Kununurra a fortnight ago in order to make a closer examination of the activities there and to gather information about what had happened in past years, remembering that farm production had operated for only one season prior to the present season. I found that the five farmers growing cotton on the Ord River last year planted approximately 272 acres each. I am speaking of average figures. The average production of each farm was 121,870 lb. of lint cotton. There was a variation between farms. One farm showed a loss owing to the ill health of the farmer who was not able to work his farm. This, of course, not only made his farm show a loss but considerably reduced the average production of the five farms.
It had been said for some time that Australia could not economically grow cotton. However, the price received for the cotton lint was 49.6d. per lb. Admittedly, this is a subsidised price, but we must consider that the farmers were for the first time in their lives farming in a tropical area which they did not understand and growing a crop which they had never previously grown and which had not previously been grown in that part of the world. With the exception of one farm which, while it showed a loss, actually cleared its costs, although there was nothing allowed for the wages of the farmer, the results F have mentioned were achieved.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman). Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– In raising this subject in the Senate tonight, Senator Cant has taken the comfortable position of directing all his remarks to the fulfilment of a particular work in Australia, at the same time asserting that this Government had not done nearly as much as it might have done in respect of northern development. Before I sit down I hope to show that this Government has done more for northern development than have all the previous Commonwealth Governments, and that the Government has, by virtue of its support of State schemes and on its own initiative, instigated developmental and pioneering works which have been undertaken for the first time in Australia.
I wish to say something at once about the Ord River scheme which is the subject of this discussion. The honorable senator has taken the liberty of criticising the Government in respect of this work, but in any analysis of what has gone on at the Ord surely it is fair and proper to say that the work which has been done so far has been made possible only by Commonwealth support and Commonwealth aid. The honorable senator stated that the first two stages now completed - the diversion dam and the irrigation work which has been undertaken in connection with the diversion dam - had cost £8.4 million. He refrained from saying that of that sum, this Commonwealth Government had made £6 million available by way of grant or by way of gift. I put the simple question: Does such conduct by a Government indicate lack of interest, lack of sympathy or lack of desire to get on with developmental work? I repeat that what has been done at the Ord so far would not have been achieved had it not been for Commonwealth support.
The honorable senator misquoted what the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) said tonight in answer to a question asked in the House of Representatives. The honorable senator stated that the ‘Prime Minister had indicated in his reply that the Commonwealth Government was awaiting the supply of further information. The Prime Minister said nothing of the sort, and the honorable senator may check the reply in “ Hansard “ in the morning if he wishes. The Prime Minister said -
No decision has been made on this matter. I cannot say at present when a decision will be made but it will be made as soon as possible after a complete examination of the project has been made.
Is it not right and proper that a complete examination of a proposal which involves the expenditure of £30 million of public money should be made before it is proceeded with?
If I want support for that point of view I need look no further than the comments of Senator Cant himself tonight, because on his own figures, he is asking for the immediate expenditure of £30 million on the basis of the operations of five farms during one season of cotton growing and cotton picking. I am just as familiar with the results that have been achieved as is Senator Cant. I share his delight at the fact that in four cases out of five a profit was shown. But the honorable senator must realise that in the first year of picking the average yield from these five farms was 1,330 lb. as against an expected yield of 1,700 lb. I repeat that for the five farms for one season the average yield was 1,330 lb. as against an expected yield of 1,700 ib. Does that offer sufficient justification for the expenditure of £30 million? I admit that in the second season, which is now under way, those five farmers have been joined by 12 other farmers who are optimistic about the results. Those 12 other farmers, as you are well aware,
Mr. Deputy President, can be accomodated on that portion of irrigated land which is at present provided by the diversion dam. I put it to the honorable senator that, as desirable as the scheme may eventually prove to be, an expenditure of £30 million on that basis is hardly one which any Government could be expected to rush into.
When the Prime Minister said, as he said tonight, that a decision would be made as soon as possible after a complete examination of the project had been made, what he said in effect, what he was justified in saying and indeed what the vast majority of Australian taxpayers would expect him to say, was that the Government wants to be very sure indeed that the evidence available to date provides conclusive justification for the expenditure of this public money. If the expenditure of this money proves to be justified. 1 say here in my place that nobody will be more delighted than I. But surely it is only fair and proper to say that this expenditure must be undertaken on a much more certain and established basis than that provided by the production of five farms in a single season. It may be that the results that will be achieved in the second season will strengthen the belief that this project can be supported. But surely, despite the understandable anxiety of the Western Australian Government, it is reasonable to ask that the test be further substantiated.
The honorable senator resorted to some unusual arguments in support of his case. As I said earlier, he took the comfortable position of addressing himself to only one particular project in Australia and of dismissing every other necessary item of government expenditure with a wave of his hand. I say to the Senate in complete seriousness and with a real sense of sobriety that today we are undertaking defence expenditure of a magnitude which far exceeds anything that was previously necessary in peacetime. As the Minister for Defence, with I hope a proper sense of responsibility towards my job, I think I am bound to say that the fact that defence expenditure must necessarily have priority might well, in the course of time, impose limitations on other forms of expenditure and development which up to this point of time we have regarded as just in the ordinary nature of things. But Senator Cant, despite this huge expenditure on defence which attracts newspaper publicity day by day, is prepared not to regard expenditure on the developmental project in question in the context of total government expenditure. Any analysis of a proposition such as he has advanced should take that factor into account. The honorable senator said further that we were spending certain sums of money in Papua and New Guinea, the clear inference to be drawn from his remarks being that some of that expenditure was either unnecessary or should not have priority over expenditure on the Ord River Dam. That is an interesting proposition to come from a member of the Opposition. I sit here year by year and constantly hear criticism from the Opposition to the effect that we are not moving fast enough and are not spending enough money in our Territories. If Senator Cant believes that some of our expenditure in Papua and New Guinea can be reduced, I suggest that an obligation rests upon him to indicate what that expenditure is. He referred also to expenditure under the Colombo Plan and on foreign aid generally. I do not want to rub the honorable senator, but, if I may say so, this might well indicate another schism within his party. It is quite common nowadays to hear the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in another place advancing theories almost day by day about how Australia should be spending much more of its national income on aid to South-East Asian nations and assistance under the Colombo Plan.
Before I resume my seat I want to take advantage of this opportunity to indicate to the Senate the nature and the scope of pioneering development which this Government has undertaken in the northern part of Australia, and essential development elsewhere. One has only to look at the list which I have in my hand to be able to dismiss completely the argument advanced by Senator Cant that we are not moving fast enough in this direction. This list sets out all sorts of developmental works in every State. It covers a wide variety of activities including water conservation, road building, coal loading works, beef cattle roads, land development in Queensland, the Mount Isa railway, rail standardisation, beef cattle roads in Western Australia, the Derby jetty, the Broome jetty and the KalgoorlieKwinana railway involving a total expenditure of approximately £140 million over a period of two years. I refer to this schedule merely to indicate that the criticism of the Government which is sometimes made by Opposition senators and the suggestions that it is insensible to pioneering development as a whole are quite inaccurate. I suggest that all around the Commonwealth evidence of the interest, the activity and the support of this Government is before the eyes of anybody who cares to look. He could look north to the Ord and see the new diversion dam. The first thing that must be realised about that particular work is that it has advanced to its present stage only because of Commonwealth support. As the Prime Minister said in answer to a question today, Mr. President, we will examine this work and we will make a decision as soon as the examination of the project has been satisfactorily completed.
– I listened with interest and rapt attention to the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Paltridge). I commend Senator Cant for raising this matter of urgency. I take some exception to the closing remarks of Senator Paltridge. If I may be permitted to digress for a moment, I wish to refer to his remarks directed to expansion in the north through the construction of railways and harbour works and through land development. These matters are relevant to a discussion of the northern half of Western Australia.
Honorable senators will recall that on the second last night of the sessional period before the Senate adjourned for the .1961 general election, we gouged out of the Federal Government a belated loan of £20 million for the construction of the Mount Isa railway, repayable at high interest rates over a period of 20 years. That is the story of the railways in northern Queensland. We also gouged out of the Federal Government on the last night of the sessional period finance for the beef roads scheme. The Federal Government advanced £650,000 to which the Queensland Government had to add £350,000, making a total of £1 million for the construction of the Normanton to Julia Creek railway, which was the first step in the beef road scheme. Honorable senators may also recall that a quarrel developed when I. said that ultimately it would be necessary to seal the beef roads.
I turn now to land development. [ was overseas at the time of the development of the first section of the brigalow lands. Not one penny was granted at that time by the Federal Government towards the development of the brigalow lands, nor was one penny granted for the construction of the Mount Isa railway, irrespective of the finance made available to the southern States through grants and loans repayable over a fifty year period. For the development of railways in northern Queensland a loan was made repayable at high interest rates over a 20 year period. The only contribution made by the Federal Government to the development of the brigalow lands was a loan repayable at high interest rates over a comparatively short period. There was no grant. With regard to harbour works in the north, Gladstone-
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Honorable Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! Is the honorable senator speaking to the matter before the Senate?
– I am speaking in relation to what Senator Paltridge said prior to your arrival, Sir. He made a statement and I am replying to that statement, which is my right. If he may digress, so may I, Sir. The Federal Government granted £100,000 and made a loan of £100,000 to the Gladstone Harbour Board. Having finished dealing with the boasting of the Minister, I shall turn now to the matter of urgency before the Senate - the completion and development of the Ord River scheme. Irrespective of what Senator Paltridge has said tonight, I pay a tribute to the Premier of Western Australia and to Mr. Court, the Western Australian Minister for the North West. They made a statement in all sincerity before the completion of the diversion dam at Bandicoot Bar. They said: “ Let us face the issue. We know that we have 200,000 acres of good soil in the area - 150,000 acres of excellent soil and 50,000 acres of marginal quality which may be utilised. But do not let us disperse our labour force. Do not let our contractors leave the area before we make a decision as to our ultimate objective.”
I think that Senator Scott and other Western Australian senators on the Government side will concede, as I do, the ability and the sincerity of the Premier of Western Australia and his Minister for the North West. They were wedded to the Ord River scheme and believed it to be part and parcel of a worthwhile setup. They realised the value of the agricultural land to be utilised and that it was not within the capacity of Western Australian Government finances to develop it as has been done, we concede, through finance provided by the Federal Government. For political purposes the Federal Government has provided £6 million by way of grants; £2,300,000 has been provided by the Western Australian Government. That money has been used to complete the first stage of the scheme. Farmers have settled there and have produced cotton. It has been established that those farmers can produce two crops of cotton in a season, which cannot be done in Queensland. I doubt whether it can be done in New South Wales.
The Ord River scheme is part and parcel of the development of northern Australia and we concede that the Federal Government did take certain action subsequent to the 1963 general election, but it went only part of the way. It established within the Department of National Development the Northern Division and appointed Dr. Patterson as director. But the Division has no real authority of its own. Let us examine whether a policy of northern development is justified. Dr. Patterson said when addressing the Australian Agricultural Economics Society on 12th February 1965 in Perth: “ Whether a policy such as this -
He was referring to a policy of northern development - is a sound one or not depends on one’s particular point of view. I have not the slightest doubt, however, that any sound-thinking Australian who is prepared lo take a hard look at the many issues involved with respect to our under-developed and empty northern areas will have no hesitation in agreeing with the Federal Government and the Governments of Western Australia and Queensland that a policy of developing northern Australia is nol only desirable but is in fact essential.
In the north lies some of the harshest areas of land in Australia, but the 200,000 acres at the Ord River contains some of the best agricultural land in Australia. In 1956 Sir William Slim said -
There is some discussion on whether resources and money spent in developing the northern areas would not be more remuneratively employed in the south. I could not answer this, but T would ask you for a moment to look at the problem through Asian eyes. If those twelve hundred million pairs of eyes looking hungrily for land see to the south of thenm a million square miles occupied by only 100.000 Australians, sooner or later they may nol be content wilh looking. Apart from the economic side of the problem of development there is somewhere in the future the compelling one of national existence.
In 1961 the Government claimed that it was acting in the field of northern development and that it had sponsored the construction of the diversion dam on the Ord River. The settlers there have proved that the land is arable and that they can grow cotton. Do not honorable senators agree that before the labour force and the contractors are dispersed from the area the Western Australian Government is entitled to a full investigation of the scheme? What will be the position now? From where will the labour force be obtained? If, as the Prime Minister stated in the other place today, the Government is looking at the position, what will be the situation when it comes to look for a labour force, in view of the shortage of labour and the shortage of contractors? It will not be in the race. Would not anyone agree with that?
In considering the importance of the cotton industry in that locality we must remember the importance of cotton seed to the pastoral industry outside the area. I am no expert in this field, but I understand that investigation has proved that cotton seed increases the fertility of cattle and enables them to hold their weight over a dry period. This means an improved pastoral industry in the adjoining areas, improved transport and an increase in overall production. Although less than 4 per cent, of the population is in the northern half of Australia, that portion of it which is in Queensland earns more export income per capita than is earned in the rest of Australia. This might not happen over the rest of the north. We have a responsibility. It is all very well to talk in terms of the defence expenditure that has occurred in the past six months. I support the proposition so ably put forward by Senator Cant.
– I rise to correct a few statements that were made during the course of this debate. One was by Senator Cant to the effect that in 1958, when there was a Labour Government in Western Australia, the Commonwealth made a free gift of some £5 million to Western Australia to be spent, subject to the Commonwealth’s approval, in that part of Western Australia north of the 20th parallel. Senator Cant said that among the proposals that were submitted by the then Labour Government to the Commonwealth was the expenditure of about £2,500,000 on the Ord River scheme. I know the Labour Party pretty well and I know that it has not great ideas on development. This was particularly so at that time in relation to the Ord River. The three proposals that were submitted to the Commonwealth Government in 1958 were the development of a deep water port at Black Rocks, near Derby, the provision of another berth at Wyndham to enable two ships to be handled instead of one, and the establishment of a new port at Napier - Broome Bay. It was envisaged that these projects would cost a total of £5 million. When we went into the matter, it was found that for the development of a deep water port at Black Rocks, adjacent to Derby, it would be necessary to shift the whole of the township of Derby about 15 miles to Black Rocks.
– Through swamp.
– Yes, through swamp. There were big problems in the making of a road over marshy country, lifting it 12 or 1 5 feet for a distance of 9 miles. It was found that the total cost of this project would be £4 million. I remember distinctly making a speech on this subject of a £5 million gift by the Commonwealth to Western Australia, and having to take out some information in preparation for that speech. It was interesting to find that this great proposal by the Western Australian Labour Government to the Commonwealth, envisaging the expenditure of £3 million or £4 million on a deep water port, was to provide facilities for the loading and unloading at the port of Black Rocks of a total of some 1,200 tons in and out each year. I took out the figures over a period of two years. Imports and exports from the township of Derby each totalled 600 tons a year. The Labour Government at that time did not envisage the greater Ord scheme.
– Come up to 1965.
– I am talking about what the Labour Government of Western Australia did in 1958. The Brand Government came into office in April 1959, and one of the first pieces of legislation it brought down was .an act to alter the proposition in relation to the deep water port at Black Rocks and to ask the Commonwealth for £2 million of the £5 million to be spent on the Ord River project for the construction of the diversion dam at Bandicoot Bar, about which we all know so much. Now the honorable senator says that this Government has not paid keen attention to the development of the north. I should like to remind him and the Senate that the Commonwealth has given to Western Australia £6 million of the £8.4 million used for the development of the Ord scheme. It has given over £900,000 for increasing port facilities at Wyndham. It has given almost £1 million for the reconstruction or repair of the Wharf at Derby, and it has provided finance for the development of a deep water port at Broome. These are the three ports that are servicing this area. In the past three or four years the State has received from the Commonwealth sufficient money as a gift to develop the port facilities in the area, so I do not believe that the honorable senator can say justifiably that this Government has neglected the north.
– Why are Mr. Court and Mr. Brand squealing?
– They are not squealing at all. The squeals that I have read in the “ West Australian “ were not from Mr. Court and Mr. Brand. They seemed to refer to a bit of a row between a certain Mr. Chamberlain and Mr. Hawke, the Leader of the Opposition in the State Parliament. I did not want to refer to that, but the honorable senator asked for it.
This Government is well aware of the need for the development of the north and more has been done in that direction in the past seven years by this Government than was done in 25 years by previous governments. We are going ahead. The Prime Minister said this afternoon that a decision will be made when consideration has been given to the scheme. That is reasonable. As senators, we have to be reasonable about this matter. I believe that every honorable senator is keen about the scheme. I am all for it.
– The honorable senator is in for six yeaTS. He has no worries.
– Order! That has nothing to do with the matter being discussed.
– I do not intend to reply to that interjection. The greater Ord project will cost about £30 million over a period of 15 years, as Senator Cant has said. It will be of great value to the development of the north. I am convinced that it will be a successful venture. I believe that the people who own properties in the Ord Valley are making large profits. In the first year, the average net profit for each of the five farms was about £1,800. That is a good return, particularly when you take into consideration that it was in the first year of a new venture, growing a new crop. 1 am informed that Mr. Arbuckle ratooned his crop - I think that is the word they use - and obtained an additional 1,000 lb. of seed cotton per acre on his second harvest. Most of the farmers this year intend to ratoon their crops and they will thus obtain a double harvest. It is expected that the first harvest will yield about 2,000 lb. of seed cotton per acre and that they will get an additional 1,000 lb. when they harvest their second crop. They will receive a total return per acre of about £200, and from what I understand their costs will be no more than £70 per acre.
– More than that.
– I am making this speech. Those figures have been supplied to me from an authentic source. I understand that the cost of construction of the Ord River Dam, in terms of acre feet of water stored, is the lowest for any dam built in Australia. The cost of the Ord Dam will be £2 12s. per acre foot of water stored, compared with £23 per acre foot for the Warragamba Dam, £14 for the Wyangala Dam, £21 for the Blowering Dam and £33 for the Keepit Dam. Moving into Queensland, the Tinaroo Dam cost £.19 per acre foot. In Western Australia, the Serpentine Dam cost £15 per acre foot. In Victoria, the Moondara Dam cost £50 per acre foot and the Great Eildon Dam on the Goulburn River cost £4. The Eucumbene Dam cost £5 per acre foot. The Ord River scheme is the cheapest large scale proposition that we have ever had presented to us m Australia.
I arn hopeful that the Government will arrive at a right decision, but I am worried because of the fact that during the last 12 months the country has had to accept heavy responsibilities in the form of a large increase in defence expenditure. As the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Paltridge) said, as a nation we are now spending on defence a record amount of money for peace time. We also are passing through a period of over full employment in Western Australia, if not in the whole of Australia. Farmers cannot obtain labour. Large iron ore projects are being developed in the north of Western Australia, and these require much labour and material. The labour required for this project and others is just not available in Western Australia at the present time. If the Government were to inform Western Australia that it was prepared to supply the money for this job, 300 or 400 additional employees would have to be found to carry out the work. Where would they come from? I am not opposed to this scheme. I should like the Commonwealth to make a favorable decision on it, but I would suggest that the Government might give a favorable decision and then withhold the finance until a more suitable time, when labour would be available.
– Where is the cotton processed?
– There is a ginnery in the valley. That is all I know. The cotton would be sent to spinners in the south. I know that it is all used in Australia. 1 am not an authority on cotton. I have been in the area and have had a look at the farms, and I intend to go there again. 1 am veryenthused with this scheme and I am sure that it will succeed. I am sorry that Senator Cant has had to move this motion, but I believe he has done so because he is anxious to see the scheme carried to its logical conclusion, as is everybody else in Western Australia. I hope that at some future time the Government will come forward wilh a favorable decision.
– I have listened to the debate on this matter with keen interest. It would appear to me that the Government has jettisoned - temporarily, at any rate - a scheme which it assured the Australian people, particularly the people of Western Australia, that it would definitely carry out. Announcements made by Government supporters at election times and statements that have appeared in the Press vindicate the action of the Opposition in moving a motion designed to urge the Government to determine its position on this project. Virtually the same matter that was put before the Senate tonight was put before the Senate almost 12 months ago by myself, Senator Branson and others.
The Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) has argued that the economics of the scheme have to be examined, but Senator Scott, who claims to be very knowledgeable about the north west and about this scheme, has said that for an expenditure of £70 per acre a return of £200 per acre can be obtained. In the first year the farmers had considerable trouble with boll weevils and other pests but that problem was overcome and the farms were economic propositions. At the recent election in Western Australia Mr. Brand submitted very much the same case as has been put up in this chamber tonight, but this Government says that he was silly in that respect because the time is not opportune for the scheme, owing to a shortage of labour. However, we know that the Americans have begun some projects in this area - projects on which many Australians are anxious and willing to work, ft has been said on good authority that American capital is interested in this area and would be prepared to develop it if the Government made it possible to do so. However, the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) is appealing to America to let up on Australia because too much money earned by American investors is going out of the country. The degree to which American dollars are being used to buy up assets in Australia, to the disadvantage of this nation, is a matter of concern to the Australian Government and the Australian people. We still want America to be our close friend, but we do not want Americans to buy up our assets and cause a drain on our resources by remitting a large proportion of the profits overseas.
The following article appeared in the Melbourne “ Age “ of 3rd March 1964 -
Western Australia has asked the Commonwealth Government to meet the whole of a £19,300,000 bill to complete the Ord River irrigation project-
That is (he £30 million project -
The State Government has also made a parallel request for an additional £10,700,000 to finance associated development in the Ord region - the supply of hydro-electric power “and home building.
The article continues -
The Premier (Mr. Brand) yesterday revealed details of submissions to the Commonwealth
Government for the construction of the main OrdDam by 1967/68 and expansion of the irrigation area to 150,000 acres by 1976.
These are matters which have been put before the public by a responsible government which claimed that this would be done and which submitted it to the Commonwealth Government which, in turn, gave the Government of Western Australia to understand that it would consider this work as a project well worthy of development. The Commonwealth Government gave the Government of Western Australia every encouragement to think it would support the project. The article states, further -
The main dam, one of Australia’s biggest, will cost £8.3 million. Irrigation channels and drains to widen the 30,000 acre first stage to 150,000 acres will cost £11 million.
Mr. Brand said farms developed under the Ord River scheme would cover at least 100,000 acres in the East Kimberley and 50,000 acres in the Northern Territory, with an estimated regional population of between 10,000 and 20,000 by 1975.
He made the point that this is not only development but also defence. I think the Government is slipping up and is avoiding its responsibility entirely in not making a decision on this matter and in not making it quite clear that this is not going to be another American dollar take over. It is now quite clear that the buying of our assets by American capital is causing embarrassment in the matter of the invisible and dollar payments that are going out of the country. If we are to believe President Lyndon Johnson the pressure will soon be greater for the return of earnings from Australia to America.
It is all very well to say that this is a nice scheme. The Government promised it to the people and got votes on it but it is being jettisoned at this time. Nothing was put forward by the Minister or by Senator Scott to prove that the scheme is uneconomic. If it were jettisoned at this stage that would be an absolute rejection of promises and the repudiation by the Commonwealth of assurances given to the people of Western Australia that this development would take place.
– Do you think it will be rejected?
– I think the Commonwealth Government is delaying the matter to such an extent that at this stage some decision should be made about it. The scheme may not be rejected but, like many other big development projects, it may be so long delayed by the Government that other capital will come in and develop the scheme. Then it will no longer be an Australian scheme. It will be another scheme which has been promoted as an Australian scheme but ultimately taken over by foreign capital in the process of dollar infiltration. This article in the Melbourne “ Age “ continues -
Mr. Brand said the diversion dam already built would carry the Ord scheme to 30,000 acres by 1967/68.
The Government wanted the main dam completed by then so the scheme could be expanded continuously to cover 150,000 acres by 1976.
The Kununurra township now had 70 homes and 500 people, including the construction workforce.
They are gradually drifting out and the township is getting down to a normal situation. The tradesmen have gone and plant will have to be brought in to make a start there, but it is still not too late for the Government to make a decision. The “ Age “ states further -
Total cost of the first stage, including housing, and extension of the irrigation area to 30,000 acres is £8,400,000, of which the Commonwealth is contributing £5,716,000.
The Commonwealth Government has entered into this scheme and has committed itself to it. Settlers have gone up there and they have proved the area able to meet any reasonable demand. The figures given by the Minister and by Senator Scott are fairly good.
– Five farms and how many million pounds have been spent up to date?
– There are five farms, admittedly, and over £8.4 million of expenditure is involved up there. It is not just five farmers who are involved. When that expenditure was first agreed to there were no farmers there. The Government is adopting the attitude that it took to the Snowy River project. It delayed it and bungled it and pushed it aside until a decision was made to proceed with the scheme. Now that it is a world famous project Government supporters are proud of it. There has been tremendous expenditure on the Ord River scheme and it has been proven as worthy of reasonable development. The greater dam is necessary and justified. Honorable senators opposite .can have it whichever way they like. Either Mr. Brand is talking through his hat or they are. I have quoted him specifically. We say it is a matter of urgency to which the Commonwealth Government should give some attention because, if it is delayed longer, it will be more expensive. The Government has the same old attitude which may be expressed in the words: “ We have gone through with the matter so far and now it oan languish until capital from outside the Government is available.” If the Government of Western Australia cannot carry on with the project - it has tinkered with the idea of getting outside capital - the project will fall down as a result of a laissez faire policy after this Government and the taxpayers of the nation have been committed to an expenditure of £12 million or £15 million. I therefore say it is a matter of urgency. I say that there has been a Government pledge and promise over a period of 12 months according to the Premier of Western Australia, if he was sincere and proper in the impression he gave the people of that State concerning what would be done in the area. I believe that, at that time, he had confidence that the Commonwealth Government would co-operate with the Western Australian Government so that the development would be carried on. But this Government has failed to make a decision about the matter although the proposition was put forward 12 months ago. I have asked two questions about it in this chamber in the intervening period and received assurances from the Government that the scheme was progressing favourably. The same answer as given now was given then - that the Government was analysing the matter, that the scheme was approved and that although the expenditure could not be undertaken then, the Government had viewed the whole plan and an early decision would be given. It is now begging the question. If there is a problem of manpower I. point out that the Brand Government has given an assurance that it is capable of carrying out the scheme and that from the defence point of view it is necessary. But if the completion of the scheme has to wait until foreign capital comes in to develop it, that will be another shameful sell out of Australian assets to foreign capital, no matter how friendly those who supply the money may be. This could result in further serious embarrassment to this country such as exists now because of the drain of American dollars. If President
Lyndon Johnson’s plan goes through it will be a still more serious embarrassment to this nation.
– I should like to think that having brought this matter before the Senate tonight, Senator Cant, had done so with the idea of trying to help the people of Western Australia. To do that I would have thought he would bring forward a well documented case, giving both sides of the picture as we see it in Western Australia. Instead of that, he spent a great deal of time saying he believed that this Government was insincere in its efforts to develop the north. Senator Cooke said that, in his view, the Government had run out on the submissions made by the Government of Western Australia for financial assistance for the Ord River project.
First of all, 1 want to have a look at the situation. This large area in the northern part of Western Australia is very sparsely populated. The rich soil is the equal of some of the most fertile land in the world. I was one who stood up in the Senate campaign and said I was in favour of granting money to the Ord River scheme. I am not afraid o) it. In addition to this large fertile area, there is one of the biggest rivers in Australia literally running into the sea untapped. I believe that something can be done with it. We know from the experiments that have been carried out at the Kimberley Research Station that all sorts of things will grow in the area. Senator Cant spent a good deal of time telling us of some of the returns that the farmers in that area have received over the last 12 months. These, I believe, are very good returns in the first year of trying to develop farms in that area. But we did not hear anything of what the future is likely to be on those farms.
The mere granting of Federal money to this scheme in Western Australia does not mean that it is assured of success. Private capital will be put into this scheme by men and women like ourselves. What the Federal Government has said at this stage is that it wants to have a look at the submissions made by the Western Australian Government. I have referred to the tremendous amount of land there and also to the river. I believe that this area will go ahead at an even faster rate than the Esperance
Plains development and the land settlement scheme in Western Australia progressed. But those two schemes met with a great deal of difficulty in their early days and, in each case, men and women walked off their properties. They did so despite the fact that, in the land settlement scheme, noone was to be settled on a property until certain requirements in respect of development were met. Has Senator Cant said anything about these matters tonight? No. All he is interested in is that some people in this country are crying out for the development of the north. It does not matter to him whether men, women and their children sink their capital into these developments and then, in a few years’ time after all their hard work, walk off their properties.
– Why did you not say that during the Senate election campaign? Why be two-faced about it?
– I am not being two faced. All I am saying is that the Commonwealth Government has asked for time to have a look at these matters. That is all it has done. I do not make the decision. I am in favour of granting money to this area. I believe, having studied the case, that men and women who go up there can make a success of it.
But I put this further question to Senator Cant: What is the future of the cotton industry in this country? If large areas of land are brought into production, then large quantities of cotton must be produced. At the present time, the cotton industry in this country is subsidised. The Federal Government has to make a decision as to how much subsidy it is prepared to pay on the increased production. The Government wants time to work out the potential of this area and estimate how much money it will be required to provide by way of subsidies in the years to come. Has Senator Cant said anything about that matter? No. We know that there is a great demand for cotton, particularly in Japan which, last year, bought from America approximately the equivalent of 3 million acres of cotton. Perhaps Australia could get a portion of that market. But how much could we get of that market? Does Senator Cant know? He does not. These are the matters which the Government has to consider. Senator Cant says that this is not so, and he is overlooking them.
Let me take honorable senators backto the wheat industry in the 1930’s when this country was growing a great deal of wheat. We had wheat to burn. Yet men and women walked off their farms because they could not get a decent price for their wheat. Are honorable senators prepared to see the same thing happen in the Ord River district? I am not, despite the fact that I believe from my own investigations that these things will not happen. But am I sure of that? No. The Commonwealth Government has asked for time to investigate this point. I believe that it is doing the right thing. I want to see the northern part of Australia developed. I want to see Federal money put into its development because I know that Western Australia cannot develop this area on its own. But I do not want to see in ten years’ time people walking off their properties and all the money we have put into their places plus their own money going down the drain.
– Do we wait ten years?
– No. I am talking about what might happen in ten years’ time if the Commonwealth Government gave the money now. I only hope that the Commonwealth Government can and will see its way clear to grant this money. But I am fully behind the Government at this stage in making a thorough investigation into all the facts of the matter.
– Mr. President, a convincing case has been made out by Senator Cant, ably supported by Senators Dittmer and Cooke, that this matter of whether a favorable decision to grant the request of the Western Australian Government for financial assistance to complete the Ord River scheme should be made, ought to be debated by this Parliament. The key to this matter is the statement made a few moments ago by Senator Drake-Brockman when he spoke of the decision by the Government, and the Government giving the money. It is not the Government that gives this money. It is this Parliament which will grant the money if it is to be granted at all. Surely these matters which are important to national development ought to be discussed in this Parliament. The advantages and disadvantages of proceeding immediately with the scheme ought to be considered here. What possible objection can there be to this matter being discussed in this Parliament, the place where it ought to be considered? That is what the purpose of this motion is. For the life of me, I cannot see why it should be opposed by anyone in this Chamber.
The problem is really one which arises because this Government has failed to face up to the need for national planning in development. The people of the Ord River area ought to know where they stand. Other people who are interested in other and perhaps inconsistent schemes ought to know where they stand. When a decision is delayed on the Ord River scheme, it affects not merely the people who will be dependent on the area. It affects people in the Riverina. It affects people at Narrabri. It affects people in other areas to the north and the west of Australia. It affects people who might not be interested in any kind of irrigation but who might be looking for moneys for other schemes. This Government has constantly failed the nation because of its failure to make any appropriate plans for the overall development of Australia.
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question put. The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . . . 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative
Senate adjourned at 10.35 p.m. till Tuesday, 23rd March 1965.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 16 March 1965, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1965/19650316_senate_25_s28/>.