25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 1 1 a.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Customs and Excise a question. Has the Commonwealth requested Rothmans of Pall Mall (Aust.) Ltd. and W.D. and H.O. Wills (Aust.) Ltd. to pay £100,000 each into the Consolidated Revenue Fund because of their failure to use a certain proportion of Australian grown tobacco leaf in their manufactures? Has the Minister been informed that some Australian tobacco growers are planning a campaign related to the banning of the cigarettes of Rothmans of Pall Mall (Aust.) Ltd. because of that company’s disloyalty to Australian producers?
– The strict answer to the first question is: “ No.” As to the second question, I do not wish to make any comments about campaigns in relation to particular brands of tobacco, but 1 think that in view of the circumstances and the degree of publicity that has been given to the matter in the last few days I should make some observations touching the question of Australian tobacco leaf and negotiations that have taken place recently between the manufacturers and the Government. It should be understood that after a conference between the manufacturers, the growers and representatives of the three State Governments concerned and the Commonwealth Government a stabilisation plan was worked out and has operated for the past season. The interim committee supervising the operation of the scheme comprises four manufacturers’ representatives, four growers’ representatives, a representative of each of the three States concerned and a Commonwealth representative.
The sale of all usable leaf is part of the stabilisation plan for the tobacco industry. In effect the plan is an arrangement between the manufacturers, the growers and the Governments concerned. Each year since 1962 the Minister for Customs and Excise has issued certificates to allow manufacturers to import tobacco at concessional rates of duty provided they have bought their normal annual requirements of domestic leaf at each season’s auction series. The Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) and I, as the Ministers handling tobacco matters, decided that the most appropriate method of carrying out the Government’s policy on this occasion was to advise manufacturers that certificates would be issued for three months only instead of the usual 12 months period, and certificates for concessional entry were in fact issued for the period from 30th June to 30th September. Manufacturers were advised immediately by the Department of Customs and Excise, both orally and in writing, of the decision of the Ministers.
A grade and price schedule is the basis of determining the usable leaf up to 26 million lb. a year, and it should be noted that only 23.6 million lb. was available this year, which is below the minimum figure used as a basis for determining the quantity of usable leaf. Where a difference of opinion arises as to grades, a Commonwealth appointed arbitrator makes a decision. It should be noted that the arbitrator in this instance was a very experienced man from the manufacturing firm of W.D. and H.O. Wills (Aust.) Ltd. On the one hand, the growers complained that the arbitrator was too harsh on them by eliminating certain leaf which they regarded as usable. That is the growers’ view. The manufacturers, on the other hand, complained that certain leaf had been included which was not usable. This, I suggest, indicates that the arbitrator must have been very fair in making his determination as to grades and cannot be charged with favouring one side or the other. Suffice it to say, however, that substantial quantities of the grades of tobacco now stated to be unusable have been purchased at auction during the year.
The final point I want to make is that it has been agreed that, in the light of the experience of the first year of the stabilisation scheme, a thorough review of the scheme will take place as early as can be arranged. At a meeting which the Minister for Primary Industry and I had with the manufacturers concerned on 8th September, we assured the companies that this review would be held. The only point at issue is that the two major companies concerned want the Commonwealth to give an assurance that it will use its endeavours to have certain grades of tobacco eliminated. We have given an assurance that at the end of the season, and in the light of experience gained during this year’s operation of the stabilisation scheme, a review will take place and that then the views of the growers and of the manufacturers will be considered. We most certainly could not give an assurance that, as a Government, we will intervene to remove or to prevent the removal of particular grades of tobacco. As I have said, this is the point at issue at present. The question whether the companies will accept or will not accept certain grades will be determined at a review to be held at the end of this season. In the meantime, because some companies have not taken up the whole of their proportions of the usable leaf, they are not eligible for the concessional entry of imported leaf and as a consequence certificates have not been issued to them.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry. Under the New Zealand - Australia Free Trade Agreement what procedure could the Minister for Trade and Industry use if imports of New Zealand peas and beans increased to the point where they seriously damaged the Tasmanian pea and bean industry? Is the Minister of the opinion that New Zealand dehydrated peas offer a serious threat to the Tasmanian frozen pea and bean industry.
– The procedure laid down in the Agreement is that if imports - in this case the honorable senator has referred to imports from New Zealand - are seriously damaging an industry, it can make an application to the Minister for Trade and Industry, who will then have an opportunity to discuss with the responsible Minister in New Zealand measures to remedy the situation including the possibility of export restraint. This has been done quite effectively under the AustraliaJapanese Trade Treaty. If it is proved that a large increase in imports is seriously damaging an Australian industry, the countries concerned have an opportunity to agree upon a system of restraint. If agree ment cannot be reached by consultation, then the importing country has the right to suspend obligations under the Agreement and take any action necessary to safeguard the local industry. In this case the Australian Government could remove peas and beans from the schedule to the Agreement.
Regarding dehydrated peas, to which the honorable senator referred, I have said in answer to questions on this particular subject all along that I thought the trade would follow the processes that are developed for any commodity. This has always been the position. We started with canned peas and we followed with shop frozen peas and beans. I think it will be necessary that we follow with dehydrated peas if they are proven satisfactory. It is not without interest that the company concerned wrote me on this matter on 1st October. It said that the processed “ Surprise “ pea is covered by a patent. The process is available to its Australian company as well as to its companies throughout the rest of the world. The letter states -
We desire to undertake the manufacture of these peas in Australia, but before installing the required plant, which is very costly, we have to be reasonably sure that it would be a sound proposition. To assess the possibilities we need local information both from the marketing and technical aspects, and it is entirely to gain the required marketing knowledge that we are importing peas from New Zealand. Likewise to gain the required technical information we are carrying out growing trials in various parts of Australia, and conducting pilot production runs.
Our present operation in importing peas from New Zealand is unprofitable, and from the information we have it would seem most unlikely that the importing of “ Surprise “ peas from New Zealand could be developed into an economic proposition, even if there were no duty payment.
– Was that letter from Unilever Australia Proprietary Limited?
– Yes. If the honorable senator wishes to place on record the name of the firm concerned, that is its name. The letter also contained the following statement -
I mention this to indicate the scale of our interest in Australian primary and secondary industries, and the “ Surprise “ pea project is a further expansion of this interest.
– I direct a question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, or to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Has the Minister’s attention been directed to a report appearing in the Sydney Press of 29th September under the heading “ Soap, Cereals, Among 200 Dearer Items “ which stated that some of the price increases taking place under these headings would date from 1st October and had been adjusted to be directly convertible to decimal currency to meet the request from the Decimal Currency Board so that no further adjustment would be necessary on C-day? Did the Decimal Currency Board make such a request and, if it did was it done with the authority, knowledge and consent of the Government, once again indicating lack of concern on the part of the Government about the difficulties Australian housewives are having in coping with excessive recent increases in the cost of living?
– I think it is a very wise precaution as we get nearer to the changeover to decimal currency that people who are preparing price lists applicable to the time when the decimal system commences operating should relate prices not only to pounds, shillings and pence but also to decimal currency. This is a sensible practice. Indeed, the Commonwealth Bank has had for some time cheque books that are appropriate to either currency. This is a wise and sensible procedure. I have no knowledge of the matter to which the honorable member has referred. I simply make these remarks as a passing reference. If the honorable senator will place his question on the notice paper I will get whatever information 1 can for him.
– Will the Minister representing the Acting Treasurer say what measures are being taken to alleviate financial stringency caused by rapidly deteriorating drought conditions, especially in New South Wales and Queensland?
– I will endeavour to obtain from the Treasurer the latest information on this matter and provide it for the honorable senator.
” PRINCESS OF TASMANIA”.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. What stage has been reached in negotiations for a duplication of the “ Princess of Tasmania “ shipping service between Tasmania and Victoria?
– I have no knowledge of anythingmore than the latest information supplied to the Premier of Tasmania, which I believe he made public in the Tasmanian Press. If anything further has occurred, I will endeavour to obtain the information for the honorable senator.
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General a question. Has he read an account of the collapse of a television mast in south eastern South Australia and the effect which the collapse will have on television programmes in that State? Has the Minister received a report of this occurrence? If so, will he make it available at an early date to the Senate?
– I have seen a report of this occurrence but I am not able to give any information about it. During the day, I will obtain information from the Postmaster-General’s Department and make it available to the Senate.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. What is the latest information which the Government has regarding events in Indonesia?
– I have a short answer to that question. It has been prepared by the Department of External Affairs. I do not think it adds greatly to what is generally known. However, it reads as follows -
On the night of 30th September/ 1st October a small group of Army personnel, led by a colonel of the Palace Guard Regiment, attempted some form of coup in Djakarta. This group kidnapped and then or later killed some very senior Army officers, including an Army commander. It then made public statements claiming that it had taken the action it had because it believed that a group of senior Army officers were themselves about to attempt a coup against President Sukarno on 5th October, which is Armed Services Day. The group said it had acted to protect the President and that it had established a revolutionary council which was now the source of all political authority in Indonesia. Several prominent Indonesian figures, among them armed services officers, were included in this council, some almost certainly without their knowledge.
The group seized or attempted to seize radio telecommunications centres but were ousted from these centres on 1st October by Army units loyal to the Central Army Command. The number of troops in Djakarta under the control of the rebels was small and only very little fighting took place in the city. Since that time President Sukarno has made two short broadcasts over Radio Republic Indonesia, saying that he was safe and in charge of the Indonesian State, the Government and the armed services.
It is not yet known just who were the people and groups behind the attempted 30th September coup. On 2nd October the leading Communist newspaper in Djakarta had an editorial expressing support for the coup and leading Communist figures in Djakarta seem to have gone underground. According to several reports there is some unrest and disturbance in the province of Central Java, lt is not possible to give a clearer picture than that at this moment.
– Does the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate know that the New South Wales Government has devised a plan to check and control the votes of its members in the forthcoming Upper House election in that State? This is being done-
– Order! At the moment I cannot quite perceive who will answer this question.
– I have addressed it to the Leader of the Government in the Senate.
– The honorable senator may proceed.
– This action follows the loss of a vote by a member of the Liberal Party at the last Upper House election. Would the Minister not agree that in these days when democracy is being assailed everywhere, at least Governments should respect the secrecy of the ballot?
– I think the matter referred to by the honorable senator is one entirely for the New South Wales Government and the New South Wales Opposition. I quite realise that recently the former new South Wales Government became the Opposition. If I were really informed on this matter, I would think that the previous Government of New South Wales would be the last Government to want to bc questioned on democracy.
– I ask the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research: ls he aware that the British Government has announced that the United Kingdom will adopt the metric system of weights and measures and that the switching process will take 10 years? Has the Government any plan to do the same for Australia so as to avoid dislocation in trade and commerce and to attain more efficiency?
– The answer to the first point of the question is: “ Yes “. The answer to the second part is that a statement on this matter has been made already by the Prime Minister in another place, indicating that following the British Government’s announcement of its intentions, the Australian Government was taking the matter under study and considering the implications which might flow from the British decision.
– I ask the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research whether the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation is represented at a conference being held overseas to discuss and, if possible, give impetus to the discovery of economical means for desalinating large quantities of water. Is the C.S.I.R.O. taking any particular interest in research in Australia into this matter as it is of concern to Australia, particularly in respect of northern development?
– I cannot say definitely whether Australia is being represented at the conference referred to by the honorable senator. However, in answering the second part of his question, I direct his attention to the latest report of the C.S.I.R.O. in which appears a statement of the progress made by the C.S.I.R.O. in improving methods of desalinating small quantities of water for drinking purposes, rather than for irrigation purposes. At the moment, desalinating water for irrigation remains uneconomical.
– Has the Minister for Civil Aviation seen statements which imply that the Department of Civil Aviation is trying to cut the throat of Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport? It is stated that £18 million is being spent at Tullamarine and £14 million at Mascot, that the work at Mascot is not likely to finish before 1970-71 and that the Tullamarine modern terminal with full length runways will be ready and working by 1967. If these are facts, does the Minister not agree that his Department is cutting the throat of Mascot and New South Wales in the field of civil aviation?
– I noticed the statements and I have read what has been said on this matter. I have given the Senate my views on this subject so often that I would not like to weary it by a long repetition. The fact is that the KingsfordSmith Airport in Sydney, will always be Australia’s No. 1 international airport. That is the way we intend the developments to proceed. We plan to build at Sydney an international airport that is considerably larger than the airport in Melbourne. We have studied the figures showing the probable future movement of passengers on international flights through the two airports and we believe that it is our duty to provide an international airport that would, in size, be equal to the task of coping with the increased passenger traffic we expect in the future. As I have said over and over again, nothing I have seen or read has caused me to change my view.
Other points of view have been expressed. One of the great international airlines and the one with perhaps the greatest interest in Mascot is our own Government airline, Qantas Empire Airways Ltd. Qantas authorities have shown that they have no doubt about the ultimate development of Sydney as the major international airport. I have before me at the moment plans for the extension of Qantas’ engineering facilities. This extension will not be undertaken in Melbourne; strangely enough, it will be undertaken in Sydney. Qantas intends to spend £14 million on the extension of its training, technical and engineering facilities at Sydney, because it believes as we do that Sydney will be the major international airport. I also have before me a proposition for the expenditure of some £12 million on a new building to house the headquarters and offices of Qantas. Strangely enough, this also will be built in Sydney.
The question of which will be the major airport could be a matter of dispute. I have consistently put my view; others are entitled to put theirs. But I think a good impartial judge is the international airline that will make the most use of the airports. This is Qantas and it is going ahead with expenditure believing, as I do, that Sydney airport will be the major international airport in Australia.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. How many applications to import freight aircraft are being considered by the Director-General of Civil Aviation or by the Government? What is the current position of the application made by IpecAir Pty. Ltd.? Is the Minister in a position to report upon any decision by the DirectorGeneral or the Government in relation to these applications?
– I understand that at the moment there are before the Department applications for permission to import two freighter aircraft and one passenger aircraft. To the best of my knowledge the I.P.E.C. application for leave to appeal is still before the Privy Council. Therefore, I have nothing further to say at this stage.
– In addressing a question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, I refer to the Government’s decision to deny the right of the Governments of East and West Germany to send separate teams to the forthcoming pentathlon events to be held in Australia. Does the Minister realise that as a result of this decision other competing countries which recognise the right of each of these countries to have separate entries may boycott the Australian contests? Does the Minister agree that if such a boycott takes place it will seriously damage the reputation of Australia in the sporting world?
– The answer to lnc first question is: “ No “. The answer to the second question is: “ Not necessarily “. If the honorable senator will put his question on notice, we can go into all the facts concerning the pentathlon and the various countries that are to be represented.
– I preface a question addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services by stating that over the weekend I received a complaint from a member of the Victorian Parliament that the Department of Social Services had refused to tell him how many people in his electrorate were in receipt of pensions. Will the Minister inform the Senate whether officers of the Department of Social Services have been instructed not to disclose the number of persons receiving pensions in Victoria?
– 1 am sure that a great deal of statistical information about pensions is available in the annual report of the Department of Social Services. I shall have to make further inquiries relating to the availability of information concerning the number of pensioners in each electorate. The honorable senator will remember that when we debated the Social Services Bill here last week we all had the advantage of perusing the annual report of the Department of Social Services. That report contained a great deal of detailed information covering a wide range of subjects. Before I can answer the honorable senator’s specific questions, I shall have to make further inquiries from the Department of Social Services.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer whether donations to the Freedom from Hunger Campaign are allowable deductions for income tax purposes. If not, would the Government consider including such donations amongst the allowable deductions?
– I am not aware whether these donations are allowable deductions, but I am quite sure that, along with many other types of donations their inclusion or exclusion is given full consideration when the Government is drawing up its Budget programme. However, if the honorable senator will put his question on notice, I shall furnish him with a written reply.
– 1 address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. What attitude have Australia’s representatives at the United Nations been instructed to take at the coming session towards the proposals to admit Communist China?
– I have only seen the report of the speech made recently in the United Nations by the Secretary of the Department of External Affairs, Sir James Plimsoll. I have drawn certain conclusions from that, but if the honorable senator would like more details I suggest he put his question on notice.
– I direct a question to the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research. Has the Minister read a report published in the Melbourne “ Age “ this morning of a statement made by the Chancellor of the University of Melbourne, Sir Arthur Dean, that Australian universities were prevented from going ahead with approved buildings as planned because of the time lag in receiving funds, and calling for steps to be taken to overcome what he called the “ absurd delay “, including the appointment of at least three full time members of the Australian Universities Commission? At present only the Chairman is a full time member. Has the Minister any comment to make on the Chancellor’s remarks?
– The Government does not see the necessity at this time for the appointment of any more full time members to the Universities Commission. The possibility of problems arising over a triennial programme has been recognised although the universities know what will be provided for them in the next triennium. The three years are calendar years and the universities know in advance of a triennium what the Parliament has provided in the Budget in the year before the triennium begins. Nevertheless, there is a possibility that the universities feel that they do not know what is to be provided for them soon enough to get all their plans to the stage where they can begin construction at the beginning of a triennium. There is no difficulty in getting a programme completed during a triennium, but there is this possible difficulty at the beginning of a triennium. We have been looking at this matter.
I have not seen the report to which the honorable senator has referred; but I do not think the position is as serious as the reported remarks of the Chancellor suggest. After their talks with the Universities Commission, well in advance of a triennium, the universities can be virtually certain that some new capital will be provided. I would have thought that even before the Parliament had put its provision into actual legislative form some of the building plans could have been proceeded with on the assumption that some money would be provided for them during the next triennium. I do not think this is a difficult matter, but it is something that we have been looking at to see whether there is any minor difficulty to overcome.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Health. Some weeks ago I asked for details of the offending overseas airlines which had delivered 2,000 unvaccinated persons at Kingsford-Smith Airport in the past 12 months. Has the Minister been able to obtain the details yet?
– I have received from Senator Cant an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the Senate for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of public importance, namely -
The failure of the Government to plan adequately the development of Northern Australia, including its frustration of the Northern Division of the Department of National Development.
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till
Wednesday, 6th October at 3.30 p.m.
I am aware that the Senate is sitting this week because the Government has legislation that it requires the Parliament to pass urgently, and 1 want to make it quite clear that the moving of this motion is not intended in any way to delay consideration of that legislation. Plans to bring this matter before the Senate were made before the Government had the decency to advise the Australian public that it would bring down legislation in respect of the waterfront. Unfortunately, two very important issues have clashed and as a result it may be thought that this motion is intended as a delaying tactic. It is no such thing.
The Northern Division of the Department of National Development was an election issue in 1963, when the Government thought it was in danger of losing the treasury bench, seeing it had come so close to doing so in 1961, being saved on that occasion by 126 votes in one electorate. It told the people in 1963 that, given the opportunity to govern for a further period, it would set up a Northern Division of the Department of National Development. This was one of the prime matters raised by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) in his policy speech. He said -
To make the examination of northern projectsan examination made, of course, in consultation with Commonwealth and State Ministers and with expert advice - needs to be, in the first instance, the special responsibility of one Commonwealth Minister. To this end we will establish a special Northern Division of the Department of National Development.
Subsequently the Northern Division was set up. Sir William Spooner had this to say about it in Adelaide, on 25th May 1964-
Recently the Government established a Northern Division within my Department to ensure, in due course, that the best possible information is available on which to base policy decisions regarding future development of the North. . . But we need to go on from strength to strength and I feel confident that the creation of the new Commonwealth activity within my own Department is going to make a valuable contribution, if only for the one reason that it will be a group devoted and dedicated to the task of doing nothing else other than to concentrate upon northern development.
Since that election, since these statements were made and since the Northern Division was set up, there has been general criticism throughout the Press of Australia about the inactivity of the Northern Division and, in fact, about the Government’s inactivity in respect of northern development. Only within the last few days the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) made a fairly lengthy statement to try to justify the Government’s inactivity in national development and, in particular, the development of Northern Australia. He started his statement by saying -
There is a tendency to measure progress in northern development in terms of the amounts which the Commonwealth Government is currently contributing to major schemes. To obtain a true perspective of northern development it is necessary to look at the total effort, both Government and private, and not only at major projects.
This statement, so far as it goes, is quite a proper statement for a Minister to make, but he opened up by criticising other people for their criticism of the Government in respect of northern development in particular.
The Minister then goes on in the rest of his statement to fall into the same trap that he is accusing others of falling into. In the first instance, he refers to what is going on in Queensland. He points out that the Queensland Government in 1964-65 provided for the spending of £310 million. But there was no question in the Minister’s mind of breaking up that £310 million in the Queensland Budget. He does not say what amount of that £310 million was for expenditure in the northern part of Queensland. I refer to that portion of Queensland north of the Tropic of Capricorn. Nor does the Minister say what amount was provided for developmental works and what amount was provided for the ordinary annual services of the Government. In order to bolster his case, he talks about the huge sum of £310 million which the Queensland Government budgeted to spend throughout the whole of that State in 1964-65. That is the trap he falls into.
The Minister says: “The following brief survey may assist in giving a balanced view of northern developmental activities.” He goes on to say that the Government of Western Australia has established a Department of the North West for which, in 1964-65, an amount of £4 million was provided out of consolidated revenue. Again, the Minister does not say what portion of that money was spent on development works or what portion was spent on the ordinary annual services of the Government. I venture to suggest that the bulk of that £4 million would be spent on the ordinary annual services of the Government and not very much of it would be used for development works. The Minister then refers to the Northern Territory. He points out that the amount spent there in 1950-51 was £6 million and that in 1965-66, always assuming that this Parliament passes the estimates for the Northern Territory, the amount to be expended will be £31 million. Again, the Minister does not attempt to break this figure up to show what will be spent on developmental works and what will be spent on the ordinary annual services of the Government. Nor does he give any indication of the increase in population that requires the extra expenditure in regard to ordinary annual services. He lumps all expenditures in the Budget for the Northern Territory together in an endeavour to establish a case to show that northern development is proceeding.
Further on in this statement, the Minister sets out to cite a list of activities being pursued in northern Australia. He refers, first of all, to the Darwin Radio Australia booster station on which £2.7 million will be spent. Everyone knows that Radio Australia is Australia’s overseas communications service and that the whole service is designed to be broadcast throughout South East Asia. The boosting of the power of this station is not a project which will contribute anything to the development of northern Australia. Then the Minister refers to the expenditure of £.4 million on Queensland broadcasting stations. But again he does not say whether these stations are in the northern or the southern part of Queensland. At any rate, the amount to be expended is £400,000.
The Minister refers also to the Townsville Army base. This is a defence project, not a developmental project. It is well known that this base is to be built in conformity with the defence policy put forward by this Government at the 1963 election in which it was stated that a certain number of personnel would be stationed in north Queensland. But this project has nothing to do with development. Out of the huge amount the
Minister has managed to manufacture, £10 million will be spent on the Townsville Army base. The Minister speaks about the Shoalwater Bay Army area for which £300,000 has been provided. Again, this is a defence project. He refers also to the Tindal (Katherine) aerodrome for which an expenditure of £3.5 million has been provided. This is also a defence matter and is not associated with development, although it must be said that part of the moneys spent on this project - but only part of the moneys - will be paid to the Army Service personnel or civilian personnel who are constructing this project.
Although that work provides for circulation of money it is not development work. The only three real development projects that we can look at in this area, two of which are part of the extension of civil aviation facilities, are the Cairns airport extension to cost £.65 million, the Derby development and airport buildings to cost £.25 million, and the Darwin wharf extension to cost approximately £1 million, which is associated with the development of minerals. It is important to look again at what Sir William Spooner said in this respect at the symposium in South Australia. Speaking about northern development he said -
Amenities and at least a minimum “ good life “ must bc assured if Australians are to populate the north in any numbers.
This suggests that private development, especially settlement by individuals or families, needs to be preceded by the provision of public utilities. . . . This is where Government must play the leading part.
I refer again to the statement of the Minister. In one paragraph he said -
The Commonwealth is co-operating with the Western Australian Government and providing £.56 million towards the establishment of township facilities required at the U.S.N, transmitting station at North West Cape.
Honorable senators will have noticed in the Press only recently that there has been a dispute between the Commonwealth Government and the Western Australian Government over the extended estimates for this project. For those who do not quite understand the position, I point out that the extended estimates are associated with additional houses that are required.
Originally it was thought that 45 homes would be required but now it is estimated that the number will be 130. In order that the estimates shall not be exceeded to any great extent, the first cut in the facilities to be provided at North West Cape relates to the hospital. This is a place where it is expected there will be a population of some 2,000 people but there is to be no hospital. Instead there is to be a nursing post in order to do the job on the cheap. This is in complete contradiction of Sir William Spooner’s statement that it is the role of government to provide amenities. I assure honorable senators that unless proper health facilities are established at North West Cape there will be an extensive changeover in at least the Australian labour to be employed at this project. In this area one cannot go for a swim in the sea because of the number of sharks. Therefore, if amenities are to be provided, it is essential that some sort of swimming facilities be included. The original estimates provided for a swimming pool but this is not now included. That amenity has been taken out. An assembly hall was to be provided so that people could meet for whatever reasons they wished to meet. But again the estimates have been pared down and an assembly hall is not now to be provided.
There are to be no bitumen roads in the Australian section of the development of the town site at North West Cape. We will find that there will be bitumen roads in the American section, which is approximately the same size and will contain some 130 homes, but there will be no bitumen roads in the section where the Australian people will live. Anyone who knows this part of Australia will be aware that if precautions are not taken to damp down the dust people become very unhappy about living there. This is supposed to be a model town. More than £40 million is being spent on the project. The Government made great play about the matter when the Americans decided they would establish the communications station at North West Cape in Western Australia, but now it is cheese paring on what it is supposed to provide.
The Minister went on to quote several projects that should be taken into consideration. He made the statement -
The Northern Division of my Department since its inception has been associated with many of the above activities and in addition has made a number of independent surveys and investigations.
This Parliament knows nothing about any investigations or surveys that have been made by the Northern Division of the Department of National Development. I recently asked the Minister a question about what had been recommended by the Division and I was told that several matters had been recommended and that they were under consideration by the Government. But none of them has been brought before this Parliament. No publicity has been given to them. Yet the Minister, in order to boost his case that something is going on in northern Australia, states that there have been investigations and surveys. 1 suppose that, like the Vernon Committee report, they are in pigeonholes. The Minister stated that the Government has been active in northern fields and listed amongst other activities aerial mapping. Aerial mapping has been undertaken in Australia since the early 1950’s, and I suppose it is still being undertaken. The bulk of the aerial mapping itself is finished but the laboratory work has still to be done. The point is, however, that this mapping work has been carried out all over Australia. Although the Minister made a statement on northern development no attempt was made to give a true picture of what is going on in northern Australia.
The Minister listed also geological and geophysical surveys. I know that geological surveys were being carried out in north western Australia back in 1952 at a time when there was an embargo on the export of iron ore, yet the huge amounts of iron ore that have been subsequently developed in Western Australia were not discovered by the geological surveys that were made in 1952, 1953 and 1954. The Government talks about geological surveys, geophysical surveys and the petroleum search subsidy. We know that the Government has provided a considerable amount of money by way of petroleum search subsidies, but much of it has been spent in the southern portion of Australia. The Minister makes no attempt to boost this case for northern development, or to give a true picture of the position so far as northern Australia is concerned. The Minister referred also to land research by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and to the operations of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. Those activities are spread throughout Australia; they are not associated only with northern development. f emphasise - I cannot emphasise it too much - that although the Minister has stated that surveys and investigations have been carried out none of the results has been put before the public. The public does not know anything about these surveys and investigations. The Parliament itself does not know that they have been carried out.
The Minister tried to boost his case for northern development by quoting a 2i page list of projects that have been completed or handled in northern Australia. He referred first to Commonwealth works which are in the process of being carried out and which amount to £3.44 million. These are not only in one area. They range right across Australia, from Darwin and Wyndham to Mackay. The Minister then referred to a group of items which were completed by the States with Commonwealth assistance. He referred to the Mount Isa railway, two-thirds of the cost of which is being met by the Commonwealth Government and one-third by the Queensland Government. The total amount involved is £27 million, of which £18 million is an interest bearing loan to the State of Queensland. If the transaction is properly worked out over the period during which the loan must be repaid, it will be found that the Queensland Government will pay in interest more than half the cost of the whole project, plus the amount that it will have to provide in capital, plus the amount of the loan. This is government financing at its highest. The Government collects money from the taxpayer at a very low cost overall, and lends it to the States at interest. The Government has entered the hire puchase business. It is a finance company which operates on high interest rates.
There was a non-repayable grant of £6 million for the Ord River project. I shall have a little more to say about that before I sit down. For the Derby jetty, the Government provided a grant and a repayable loan. For the Gladstone coal loader, the Government provided £200,000 as a grant and the balance as a loan. For the Broome jetty, the Government is providing a loan and grant amounting to £1.5 million, which will be the total cost. I now come to the brigalow lands development. The Commonwealth is providing a loan of £7.25 million to develop the first stage. The difficulty with this, of course, is that the Queensland Government has to develop the project on loan money and pay the loan back, plus interest, to the Commonwealth. The land is being developed at such a high price that it is impossible for people to go on to it. My information is that anybody undertaking a farm in the brigalow area will need to have capital of at least £20,000. Is this the way in which the country should be developed? The Government is spending money on development but a person still requires £20,000 to take up a farm in the developed area.
The Minister referred to the provision of £6 million for Queensland beef roads, but most of this money has been spent. An amount of £2.7 million was provided for Western Australian beef roads, but most of this has been spent. These projects were commenced long before the Northern Division of the Department of National Development was formed. The Division had nothing to do with them. Then, in this amazing statement the Minister went on to cite some fantastic figures in relation to projects completed by the States. He listed them for the information of honorable senators and other persons. All the projects have been completed, and the Minister did not say when they were completed. He tried to bolster the Government’s record in northern development with projects that were started or completed 20 years ago. These have been included to boost the Commonwealth’s record, but this Government had nothing to do wilh them. These were State projects, not Commonwealth projects.
– Will the honorable senator name one that was completed 20 years ago?
– I have not examined them closely, but the point is that all are completed projects and are not current, lt seems to me that the Northern Division of the Department of National Development was stillborn or at least it has been completely frustrated since birth. All the projects that the Minister has listed in these two and half pages were commenced or completed prior to the formation of the Northern Division. Some, of course, are still running on, but they are running out of time. The complaint of the Opposition is that there is no programme for carrying on with the development of northern Australia. The Minister cited a number of private enterprise projects in northern Aus tralia. If it were not for these, northern Australia would be as stagnant as it was 50 years ago. He mentioned the Moura coal mine development, but gave no figures as to cost. He referred also to the Karumba prawn plant, but again there were no figures. He referred to pearl culture farms. I know who is making all of the money out of those. I. know how much development they are providing and how many workers are employed. That is a pretty poor example for the Minister to wheel up as a developmental project in northern Australia.
The Minister then referred to private projects. He mentioned the proposed expenditure at Weipa of £1.2 million, including £3.3 million by the Queensland. Government, of which the Commonwealth will contribute £1.6 million by way of loan. This is a project that has been boosted throughout the world. We have heard about the great development at Weipa but what does this Government propose to spend in the current year? The Budget provides for the expenditure of £750,000, and all of this will be on port facilities. None of it is for the social amenities that will be required by the people who will have to live in the area - the things that are necessary to attract people to outback areas and encourage them to stay there. What provision is there for education, including higher education? What provision is there for dental, hospital and medical services? An amount of £750,000 is to be spent on the development of a port for the shipping companies.
The Minister mentioned the Gladstone alumina plant, on which £55 million will be spent. Of that sum, £48 million will be spent overseas, not in Australia. The Minister then referred to the iron ore deposits in Western Australia, citing a figure of £220 million. The Minister did not attempt a break up of that figure to show the amount of money that will be spent in Australia and the amount of money that will be spent overseas, but he took full credit for the whole of the £220 million as a contribution to the development of northern Australia. We know that today railway construction and port construction are not labour intensive. The bulk of the housing that will be required will be prefabricated in Perth and carted up to the north on trailers. Very little of this money will be spent in northern Australia. Yet the Minister set out to show that all this expenditure of £410 million would contribute to northern development.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood). - Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– The Opposition has raised this matter, naturally enough, in an endeavour to get away from legislation that is to come before the Senate. This is a rather pitiful attempt to delay the debating, passing and promulgation of the legislation, which the Government believes to be urgent and which will inevitably come to the Senate when this debate is finished.
Senator Cant advanced certain arguments, one or two of which I wish to reply to at once. He referred to negotiations that are taking place between the Western Australian Government and the Commonwealth about the expenditure of money at North West Cape, arising out of the fact that many more houses will have to be supplied there than were expected to be needed in the first place. It was rather interesting to hear the honorable senator bring the project at North West Cape to his assistance in advancing a very weak case. If honorable senators opposite had had their way, no project would have been undertaken at North West Cape. They fought the proposal tooth and nail. This great developmental project that is being undertaken by the United States of America would not have been in existence and this area would have remained a barren cape if the Opposition, which fought the proposal strenuously, had had its way.
The honorable senator said that because additional houses are required the people in this area may have to do without a swimming pool for 12 months. What a terrible thing. Let him ask the housewives who will have to live in this area whether they want a roof over their heads or a swimming pool. They will tell him what they prefer. If the housewives and the families are not able to go up there with the husbands, it will be because there are no homes for them to live in. This matter is under discussion between the Western Australian Government and the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth, which has made available a certain sum of money, has asked: “ What is to be the. priority? Are we to provide these houses or are we to oblige these people to wait for homes while we build a swimming pool? “ The honorable senator referred also to the provision of bitumen roads. I wonder what the pioneers of this country would have thought of his suggestion. He complains that people are not able to travel up to North West Cape on bitumen roads. When we think of what the pioneers did in the early days to develop such areas-
– We are not living in those days.
– Of course we are not living in those days. What we are saying is that in order to provide more homes in this area we should stand over the bituminising of the roads for perhaps another year. This is purely a matter of priorities. This is where I find myself at variance with the Opposition. Honorable senators opposite cannot look at the national development programme as a whole. Instead, they select small individual projects that are dear to their hearts and complain about them. Senator Cant spent most of his time in referring to development in Western Australia. If this Government’s record is good anywhere - indeed, it is good everywhere - it is certainly good in Western Australia.
The honorable senator referred to the great defence project at Townsville. He said that this was not a developmental project. Let him go up to Townsville and ask the people of that city what this great project means to them. We are building a large military establishment up there. It will result in the stationing in the area of permanent staff and troops who are undergoing training, and it will mean a lot to the development of Townsville itself. The businessmen of the area are quite satisfied with what has been done. Nobody can say that money that has been taken from the public purse and spent on defence establishments of this kind has not been spent on developmental work. This project at Townsville is developmental work of the highest importance.
Then Senator Cant referred to the expenditure at Gladstone of private enterprise moneys amounting to approximately £50 million. I propose to quote the honorable senator’s figures. There were so many inaccuracies in his speech that I am not prepared to accept any of his figures as being accurate. However, he said that £48 million of this money is to be spent overseas. It is of the very essence of the development of this area that we should have the most modern plant that can be obtained to process the bauxite that comes from Weipa and to make it into alumina for use by ourselves and for export throughout the world. The initial expenditure may be great, but the production of alumina calls for great resources of electricity and provision of the most modern machinery. To purchase that machinery in the best possible market is a sensible and proper step to take; it will lead to the production of alumina at a price that will enable Australia to export and in so doing earn a lot of money.
Senator Cant mentioned the development of our iron ore deposits. 1 want to discuss this matter a little more fully later on. Every penny of the contract money that is spent on the exploitation of our iron ore deposits will flow into Australia and greatly assist in the development of this country.
We cannot refer to northern development without referring to what Western Australia and Queensland themselves are doing. Each State has undertaken a considerable amount of development of its own accord, the Commonwealth has undertaken some, and the Commonwealth and the States together have undertaken much development in the area. Let me refer first to the assistance that the Commonwealth has given to the States. Senator Cant referred to the Mount Isa railway. The Commonwealth provided £18 million by way of loan for this project. The honorable senator said that it was wrong to do so. I assure him that the people of Townsville, Mount Isa and the area generally were only too happy to receive this money to enable them to renovate this railway for the transport of raw material to the great copper refinery at Townsville and to provide a better freight service generally The Commonwealth Government has provided the sum of £2.3 million by way of grant and loan for the development of the Derby and Broome jetties. Moreover, it has provided £7.25 million by way of loan for the development of the brigalow lands. In addition, it has provided the sum of £8.3 million by way of grant and loan to Queensland, and £3.545 million by way of grant to Western Australia, for the provision of beef roads. A sum of £200,000 has been made available by way of grant and loan for the provision of a coal loader at Gladstone, and £600,000 by way of grant for the
Exmouth township. In addition to these sums, the Commonwealth has provided a sum of £6 million by way of grant for the first’ stage of the Ord River project and £1.64 million by way of loan for development of the Weipa wharf.
At the present time the Northern Division of the Department of National Development is making a detailed examination of the provision of additional beef roads as part of the great plan of development that this Government has undertaken in the northern part of Australia. The development of these beef roads is one of the greatest works that we are doing. We are developing them as rapidly as our capacity to develop them will allow. Senator Cant falls into the trap of not realising that no country can have everything that it wants at the one time. If we have the physical resources, such as labour and materials, to do that - which we have not - and if we did it, the taxation burden that we would have to place on the shoulders of our taxpayers would be unbearable. No government and no nation can undertake all these works at the one time. The government of the day is faced with establishing priorities. Behind our programme ‘has been wise choosing by the Government in the establishment’ of priorities.
Apart from what I have mentioned there is the work that the Commonwealth does through its agencies, such as the PostmasterGeneral’s Department and the Department of Civil Aviation. The following figures are for new developmental works in northern Australia. The Postmaster-General’s Department has approved the expenditure of £2.5 million during the current financial year on additional postal, broadcasting and television services. The Department of Civil Aviation over the last two years has spent £li million on new aerodromes and air traffic control and communications facilities in northern Australia. Apart from direct financial assistance to the States for specified developmental projects, the Commonwealth Government contributes to research work and surveys in northern Australia in several ways. Senator Cant was rather inclined to pooh-pooh these surveys and this research work. But that is the basis of all developmental work. If you do not undertake the proper research and the proper surveys, how can you proceed with the proper economic development of the area without wasting money and without making the mistakes that arise from inadequate research and inadequate surveys?
– There has been 20 years of research in respect of the Ord River project.
– The honorable senator says that we have had 20 years of research. About 5 or 6 of those years were under the Labour Government, which took not the slightest interest in the project. It did not give one penny towards it.
– Honorable senators opposite are now jumping on the bandwagon.
– Yes, now they arc attempting to jump on to the bandwagon and to detract from the research and development work that the Commonwealth has undertaken. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation has done a great deal of developmental work in northern areas. At “Belmont” near Rockhampton, and in its associated laboratory at Rockhampton, the Organisation is carrying out fundamental research in relation to problems of breeding cattle suited for tropical and subtropical environments. This survey and research work eventually will mean success in economic development. It is far more valuable to Australia to make development successful than to rush blindly in and, perhaps, waste the taxpayers’ money and not do anything of benefit to Australia. In addition, the C.S.I.R.O. is doing research work at its tobacco research station at Mareeba. In that northern part of Australia we have developed a tobacco crop that is worthy of special mention.
– The growers cannot sell it.
– We have no worries about Mareeba tobacco. The quality of the leaf that is grown at Mareeba is the result of the great pains that have been taken to stress to the growers the importance of quality and research. The C.S.I.R.O. has given considerable assistance and guidance.
– State money developed Mareeba.
– Yes, the State Government provided money, and so did the
Commonwealth Government, through the C.S.I.R.O. I pay tribute to the State Government - it has done a good job there - but the research work done by the C.S.I.R.O. has certainly assisted. In the Kimberleys the C.S.I.R.O. and the Western Australian Department of Agriculture jointly operate the Kimberley Research Station which conducts research in relation to the production of crops under irrigation.
Now 1 turn to some of the mineral activities. The north of Australia is really on the brink of the greatest mineral development in the history of this nation. There is not the slightest question of that. First, I mention the iron ore story. It is a fascinating one. 1 refer to mineral development by private enterprise in northern Australia. The information that I have had collated refers only to that area. This story is well worth repeating. Mount Goldsworthy Mining Associates has a contract extending from 1966 to 1973 and involving a capital investment of £24 million in iron ore. It will build 70 miles of railway. The construction work force will be 910 and the permanent work force will be 300. It will export 16.5 million tons of ore, valued at £72 million. It will provide a new township and a railway to the deep water port of Port Hedland. Hamersley Iron Pty. Ltd. has a contract extending from 1966 to 1984 and involving a capital investment of £45 million in iron ore and £18 million in pellet production. It will build 179 miles of railway. The construction work force will be 1,800 and the permanent work force will be 356. It will export 81.5 million tons valued at £350 million. The Mount Newman Iron Ore Company has a contract extending from 1969 to 1991 and involving a capital investment of £57 million. It will build 260 miles of railway. The construction work force will be 1,800 and the permanent work force will be 680. It will export 100 million tons of ore, valued at £410 million. It will provide a new township and the railway to the new port at Port Hedland. Cliffs West Australian Mining Pty. Ltd. has a contract extending from 1968 to 1989 and involving a capital investment of £56 million for the production of iron ore pellets. It will build 70 miles of railway. The construction work force will be 1,100 and the permanent work force will be 450. lt will export 71.4 million tons valued at £390 million. It will provide two new townships, a pelletising plant at Cape Preston and the railway. These tremendous developmental works are being undertaken by private enterprise because the Australian Government is one in which it has confidence and which it can trust to maintain stability. In the Northern Territory there is the Frances Creek Iron Mining Company.
– Tell us who owns these companies.
– I will tell the honorable senator who owns the right to develop the Savage River deposits in Tasmania, if he likes. The Tasmanian Labour Government has given the sole ownership of that right to a Japanese and American firm. It is not a matter of having an Australian content in the case of that firm, as in the case of the companies that I have mentioned. In the Northern Territory the Frances Creek Iron Mining Company - this is a small project - has a contract extending from 1967 to 1977 and involving a capital investment of £3 million. It will build seven miles of railway. The construction work force will be 100 and the permanent work force will be 75. It will export three million tons of ore valued at £12 million, and will provide a new wharf at Darwin.
– Where is Frances Creek?
– It is in the Northern Territory. Another company is NabalcoGove Bauxite which has a contract extending from 1972 to 1992. Total investment will be £50 million and the permanent work force will be 800. Ten million tons of alumina will be exported, and the estimated value of contracts will be £200 million. There will be a new port, an alumina refinery and a township at Gove. Coming to Queensland, the Comalco-Weipa company has a contract extending from 1967 to 1992. Capital investment will total £12 million and the permanent work force will be 120. It is expected that by 1968 annual exports will total about 3 million tons with an estimated value of £90 million. There will be a new town and port at Weipa.
Investment over the few years that I have mentioned will total £265 million and it is estimated that the value of contracts will be £1,524 million. This represents an enormous investment in Australia for the production of iron ore. This enormous investment - I am sorry that I must repeat it because I know that honorable senators opposite do not like to hear it - is the direct result of the confidence that these companies have in the stability of the Australian economy and their confidence that the Australian economy will be kept stable by a government of the present political colour. They know that these and other major developments will be implemented by the Liberal-Country Party Government which will continue in office for many years to come. These companies are banking on this because they know that a government such as the present one means stability and development in Australia.
I have mentioned what has been done by the Commonwealth in the field of development. I now turn to the activities of the States. The programme is lengthy but I want to mention some of it because it is an excellent programme. Senator Cant referred to the fact that the Western Australian Government had established a Department of the North-West. I was interested to hear him say that this Department proposes to expend £4 million from Consolidated Revenue provided the estimates are passed. I point out to the honorable senator, with great respect, that the statement from which he read indicates that the Department expended an estimated £4 million in 1964-65. Apparently he cannot read. The statement is in these terms -
The Western Australian Government has established a Department of the North-West and in 1964-65 this Department expended an estimated £4 million from Consolidated Revenue, exclusive of loan works or expenditures under Commonwealth grants such as Commonwealth Aid Roads and Northern Development Act, etc.
Turning to the Northern Territory, expenditure by Commonwealth Departments and the Northern Territory Administration has continued to increase from £6 million in 1950-51 to an estimated £31 million during the current financial year, 1965-66. Commonwealth Departments incur large expenditure on those facilities throughout northern Australia for which they are responsible on a national basis. I have mentioned such activities as defence, the provision of telephone communications and postal services, and civil aviation facilities. I shall mention some in detail. The Radio Australia booster station at Darwin will cost £2.7 million and the television transmitters at Mackay and Cairns in Queensland will cost £1 million. In the field of telecommunications, the microwave link between Brisbane and Cairns will cost £4.2 million and the aerial trunk telephone line between Talgarno, Broome and Derby will cost £.35 million. The provision of broadcasting stations in Queensland will cost £.4 million and the construction of the Townsville Army base, to which I have already referred, will cost £10 million. The Army area at Shoalwater Bay will cost £.3 million and the provision of a Royal Australian Air Force aerodrome at Tindal will cost £3.5 million. Airport extensions at Cairns will cost £.65 million. I direct the attention of honorable senators to the projects which have been selected for Queensland. The development of the airport and buildings at Derby will cost £.25 million and extensions to the wharf at Darwin will cost about £1 million. These are all developmental projects of great interest and importance to Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory.
Apart from these Commonwealth projects, a great deal has been done by the States. I turn to those mentioned by the honorable senator. In the Mareeba area nothing is of greater importance than the irrigation and hydro-electric works which are associated with the construction of the Tinaroo Dam at a total estimated cost of £15.6 million.
– Where is the Tinaroo Dam?
– It is on the Atherton Tableland. Now that the honorable senator has joined the Senate he will have the opportunity to look at these projects. I commend them to him. Great development is taking place in the area as a result of the Tinaroo Dam project. Then there is the Callide Dam on which £3.1 million was expended and the Barron Falls hydro-electric project which cost £5.6 million. Over £20 million has been expended in Queensland.
Now let me turn to the sugar port terminals in which great development has been seen. A total of £10.6 million has been spent on port terminals at Mackay, Bundaberg. Mourilyan, Townsville, Lucinda Point and Cairns.
– By how much did that expenditure increase the labour force?
– That is a rather interesting question in view of the fact that very shortly we shall be dealing with that aspect in legislation to come before the Senate. We will then tell the honorable senator what has been done in Queensland. I might point out that if the waterfront does not provide better service to the nation, the trend towards mechanical handling of cargoes must necessarily continue throughout Australia. The mechanisation at the sugar ports has delivered from bondage the great sugar industry of Queensland. The expenditure of £10.6 million by the State is to be commended. There are many others.
– Get off that one.
– That is a good one which will keep because we will be able to develop our theme later when we are discussing the legislation which the honorable senator and his Party have sought by every means possible to delay coming before this House. Although the Government recognises the importance of developing the north, for the Opposition to suggest that that subject is so important that we should be called upon to delay the presentation of the Stevedoring Industry Bill, which is in the nation’s interest, indicates that the Opposition is viewing the matter out of perspective and that it has lost the ability to assess the importance of the business to be dealt with by the Senate.
I have mentioned some of the developmental projects which have been undertaken in Australia. I have not mentioned all of them. Many more are being undertaken by private enterprise. The Commonwealth and State Governments also have other developmental projects under active consideration. The order of priority is a matter of judgment. Although the Opposition has raised the matter now under discussion in an effort to delay the presentation of most important legislation, I have welcomed the opportunity to mention what I believe to be the great achievements that the Commonwealth Government and the States can claim in the development of the great north of Australia.
.- The matter now under discussion falls into two parts: First there is the failure of the Government to plan adequately the development of northern Australia. Secondly, there is the frustration of the Northern Division of the Department of National Development. I am confident that Senator Henty is not aware that the information he unfolded to us was obtained from the Commonwealth Statistician’s office yesterday, a public holiday, by a Commonwealth public servant who was paid time and a half to obtain it. The Senate chamber will be stuffy for the next hour or two until the stale statistics are emptied out. We are dealing with a motion related to the planning of national development, but Senater Henty failed to outline one positive plan. Nor did he mention anything about the frustration of the Northern Division of the Department of National Development. I may get time to deal with that later, but first I should like to clear the atmosphere.
When one is travelling over the Barkly Tableland or through the pastoral regions of Western Queensland, frequently one will see thousands of galahs feasting greedily upon the seeds that have fallen from the Mitchell grass. If the galahs are disturbed they will fly away, but as they do so two words become audible. They are “national development”. Those two words have become the cry of the galahs. When I heard Senator Henty speaking a while ago I kept looking at him to see whether he had a red breast. I have always maintained that any person, be he a parliamentarian or otherwise, who wishes to express an opinion on northern development should live for at least one year north of the Tropic of Capricorn. I believe that otherwise he is not qualified to speak about northern development. All honorable senators who have lived north of the Tropic of Capricorn are fully conscious that what I am saying is correct. I see that Senator Sherrington is smiling. No doubt that is because he has lived and farmed north of the Tropic of Capricorn. Within five minutes he could tell the Senate of the trials, the troubles and the vicissitudes that those who live in that area have to encounter from day to day. But when speaking in this chamber one cannot present those features in a way that can be appreciated. Nevertheless, I propose to describe the country about which we are speaking.
The population of northern Australia is 375,000. When we consider for only a moment or two the situation that has developed to the north of Australia within the last three or four days we must have in mind that we still have only 375,000 people in the north of Australia. Honorable senators should ask themselves whether that number is sufficient. Did Senator Henty tell us of any plan that would ensure that even another 1,000 people will be living in that area in the future because of what may happen there, or because the Commonwealth Government proposes to make millions of pounds available for certain projects? I leave that issue and state another fact. People who speak about northern Australia should know something about the climatic conditions experienced in that area. First there is the wet, hot northern region, and then there is the hot dry area.
In the wet, hot regions of northern Queensland there has been great development in the last 50 years. An example of this development is to be seen in the sugar industry. Sugar can be grown in that climate. But when one moves out into the hot dry areas one finds very little development, and for this reason I cite the Government as the most negligent that the Commonwealth has ever had in respect of the hot dry areas of northern Australia. I ask honorable senators to consider the cattle population of the Northern Territory, which is under the control of the Commonwealth Government, its affairs being administered by the Department of Territories. If a comparison is made between the number of cattle grazed in the Northern Territory in 1900 and the number grazed there now it will be found that there has been no increase whatever. I mention that fact because the future prosperity of the Commonwealth, including that of our immediate future, depends on further and more intensive development of the pastoral industry.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Mr. President, prior to the suspension of the sitting I was discussing the importance of the pastoral industry to the prosperity of the Commonwealth generally, though perhaps it is unnecessary for me to do so. As far as we can see into the foreseeable future, there will probably never be a time when Australia will not to some extent depend for its prosperity on the pastoral industry. We have only to examine the situation cursorily to see that the greater part of our export income is derived from the output of the pastoral industry. We all know of the importance to the people of Australia of the employment provided by this industry. The present Commonwealth Government should have been fully conscious over the last 16 years of the importance of this industry to the Commonwealth. But one is forced to ask whether the Government has been aware of this, and especially of the industry’s importance to the finances of the Government itself.
Let us consider the situation for a moment. At present, there is a serious drought in Queensland. This drought is perhaps worst of all north of the Tropic of Capricorn. I mentioned the other day that Queensland normally carries six million head of cattle. At present, there are two million fewer than the normal number. One third of Queensland’s cattle population has died of starvation since the drought began. I notice that an officer who is seated in one of the officers’ seats and who is paid a salary is smiling. Perhaps he is smiling at what I am saying.
– Is the honorable senator giving us facts?
– Is it true to say that he is not making a good guess?
– I am not just making a good guess. I invite the honorable senator to correct me if I am wrong. Apparently, he questions my statement that two million head of cattle have died in Queensland during the present drought. I shall tell him now that I have put the figure low. More than two million head have died. Queensland ordinarily grazes about 20 million head of sheep. One third of the State’s total sheep flocks also have died as a result of the drought. For the last 16 years almost, the present Government has been in control of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme and has been spending millions of pounds on it annually, ostensibly for the purpose of providing electric power and water for irrigation. There is no doubt about the fact that this scheme can supply electric power to Sydney and to Canberra - at a price. But I should like to know how many acres of land anywhere in the Commonwealth are being irrigated by water provided by this project. Not one bale of hay was sent to the drought stricken areas of Queensland from any region supplied with water provided by the Snowy Mountains Scheme.
The Government ought to plan for the development of this country, lt is not planning at present and we are discussing its failure to plan. So far, this Government has planned nothing for the development of Australia. Everybody is fully aware of the fact that we have recurring droughts in Australia, Mr. President. There are on the average about two good seasons in every three in Queensland. This means one drought year in every three. In the circumstances, stock losses are tremendous. Here is a matter in which the Government could undertake worthwhile planning if it wished to prevent losses of this kind. Only three weeks ago, the Senate considered a bill designed to make available to the States for housing £51 million. But the Government is completely lacking in imagination when it comes to planning for national development. It could make available to small graziers and dairy farmers, for example, sums ranging from £1,000 to £3,000 a year to finance the construction of silos. Priorities could be established according to the number of animals grazed. Big graziers also could be provided with funds under such a scheme. If the man who depends on the land for his living were enabled to build silos in which to store stock feed, even if he were able to store enough only partly to feed his animals during drought periods, losses would be considerably reduced.
A while ago, I mentioned the stock losses that have occurred in Queensland since the drought began. There appears to be no lessening of the rate of loss. As the weeks and months pass, the losses seem to be increasing. Senator Webster, who comes from Victoria, has probably never seen what we in Queensland regard as a real drought. Victoria probably never has had such a drought. The worst it knows may be a limited dry period. That State does not experience droughts that continue for years and has never seen thousands of sheep and cattle dying in severe droughts.
Had the present Government adopted a planned scheme under which the owners of stock could be assured of fodder supplies during droughts, the financial situation of the Commonwealth would have been much better. Such a scheme would not only provide security for those who live on the land but would also make the Commonwealth Government’s financial position much more secure than it is. For example, our export income, which, as I have said, depends largely on primary products, would be better than it is. We depend on export income for our overseas balances. And we must trade internationally. Raw materials for our secondary industries comprise 75 per cent, of our imports. We must pay for these imports and we must export in order to earn income to pay for them. We would stagnate unless we were able to increase our exports of wool and meat, and we can increase them only if financial assistance is given to the people on the land.
With respect to the development of northern Australia, we can forget all about highfalutin schemes for the sale of minerals. With minerals, at any time, it is only a matter of letting the dog see the rabbit, as it were - of letting the company see the minerals. When it sees them, it will do the rest if the quality of the ore is sufficiently good. It will develop the resources if there is a satisfactory profit to be made in the process. I have seen the uranium field at Rum Jungle develop and decline. I saw the Mary Kathleen uranium field develop into a very profitable undertaking and I have seen it decline until today there is no activity there at all. Let me tell honorable senators that I recall the time when many of the shops at Mount Isa were sly grog shops. This was a good many years ago, of course. Today, Mount Isa is a flourishing and law abiding town that sustains a population of about 13,000. The Government can leave the minerals alone. I said earlier that it could well interest itself in promoting discoveries of mineral resources and then let companies develop those resources. Let the companies get on with working the mines and let us get back to simple things.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– Mr. President, Senator Benn, I am afraid, is given to making rather sweeping statements. I was staggered to hear him say, apparently, that not one drop of water from the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme has been diverted to the drought stricken areas of Queensland. How in the name of fortune we are to divert water from the Snowy Mountains area to the central and northern parts of Queensland, I do not know. Nor, I think, does he know how the problem can be overcome. However, I suggest that the waters of the Tinaroo Dam, which has been constructed with funds supplied by the Federal Government, in conjunction with the Queensland Government, have saved many head of stock in the present drought in Queensland.
The honorable senator made another sweeping statement and in doing so 1 think he more or less disqualified the mover of the motion. He said that people cannot speak with authority of the area north of the Tropic of Capricorn unless they have spent some time - I think he said a year or more - living in that area. I noticed that quite a number of his colleagues looked at him in some surprise, not the least of them being Senator Cant. Senator Cant made some very glaring mistakes and I shall correct one or two of them.
Senator Benn said that there had been a complete lack of planning for northern Australia. This again is sheer unadulterated nonsense. While I have not sufficient time to deal with all the plans that have been developed by the Federal Administration, I shall deal with just four of them as illustrations - and I could just as easily deal with forty. First I ask the honorable senator: Does he not realise that the examination of the Ord River project by officers of the Northern Division of the Department of National Development is planning by this Government? Surely the honorable senator would not expect the Government to undertake a development of the magnitude of the Ord River project, involving expenditure of millions of pounds, without a deal of planning and analysis. This is a scheme in which planning is vital. It would be ludicrous for a government to enter upon a scheme involving the expenditure of £30 million without first making a clear analysis of it and then planning adequately for it. I would like to say a lot more about the Ord because I am a great believer in the project, but no doubt my colleagues will deal fully with it. I merely mention it as being one example of planning, and very sound planning at that.
The next project is one that does have some relevance to Queensland, lt is the beef roads project. As we know, about £8 million is being spent on a scheme to provide beef roads, a great number of them in north Queensland. The original section of the scheme has not yet been completed, but it started off with a grant of £5 million - a grant, mind you - from the Federal Government. Some of these roads are today in use and serving Queensland magnificently, but they are only the beginning of a network of roads that is to be built to serve our great pastoral industry in the north. The Department of National Development has prepared a further very comprehensive scheme for the development of more beef roads. We all know this; there is no secret about it. I do not know where these proposed roads are to be located, or which ones will be selected from the scheme that has been examined by the Department of National Development, but I do know that the scheme has been examined and exhaustively analysed. I am looking forward to the development that will follow the completion of the first stage of the beef roads scheme, after which we will move into the second stage. Surely these beef roads represent planning for the north, and very sound planning.
Next I want to refer to the Army installations at Townsville and elsewhere. I do not know whether honorable senators are aware that as a result of the provision of these installations there will be a great boom in the north. But this is not sufficient in the view of the Federal Government. It realises that primary producers in north Queensland have suffered grievously because they have not had good consumer markets for their produce. A great deal of produce is grown on the Atherton Tableland in north Queensland and other parts further north, but much of that produce cannot be marketed successfully or economically. The consumer markets are so far away that freight charges become a major problem and the growers find that it is uneconomical to expand their production. Within the last month or six weeks the Commonwealth Government sent a mission through these areas. It visited the Tableland and much more isolated areas such as the Cooktown district, examining the potential for the production of primary produce for the Army personnel to be stationed at the installations in north Queensland. Is not this an example of planning by the Commonwealth Government? Of course it is. It annoys me intensely that members of the Opposition, who have no responsibility to ensure that work is done properly, get up in this chamber and talk glibly about nothing being done, no plans being made, no planning being undertaken by the Government, when in fact they know that they are talking a lot of nonsense.
I have given three examples of what I consider sound forward planning. I will deal with another one, one that I have dealt wilh before. At the behest of several people in Queensland, including one or two of us who have been deeply interested in the work of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, and because great advantages clearly would accrue from such an undertaking, the Lansdown Research Station at Townsville has been established. This research station, established directly by this Government through the C.S.I.R.O., has been able to demonstrate to every grazier in north Queensland and the Northern Territory, and also in the north of Western Australia, that in these areas where there is little rainfall and no good fodder for cattle certain procedures can be adopted to increase the cattle carrying capacity - not just to double it but to increase it tenfold. This is not just my contention, it is the contention of the scientists themselves who have demonstrated that this result can be achieved. Is this not forward planning? If it is not I do not think any of us know what the words “ forward planning “ mean.
I have given four examples that are very easy to comprehend, and I have not exaggerated in the slightest. The proof is there for all to see, and I invite any of those gentlemen to whom Senator Benn referred - those members of the Opposition who do not know very much about the north because they have not lived there - to go along and see the work that is being done, the planning that is being undertaken, and to satisfy themselves that this Government has a very keen and deep interest in ensuring that we do achieve the development in the north that we wish to achieve.
Let me move on. I have dealt with the first portion of the matter of urgency before the Senate, which speaks of the failure of the Government to plan adequately. I say that the Government is planning constantly and continuously. The second reference is to the frustration of the Northern Division of the Department of National Development. Let us look at this proposition for a few moments. Of course there is frustration. There always will be frustration felt by every Minister and every top officer of every Government in Australia and everywhere else, because unless there is frustration there will be complacency. What I do not want to see is complacency in our Ministers and top officers. I want to see them eager to go ahead and develop their own ideas. As a person who has had some experience in this field 1 can say without possibility of contradiction that there is no Minister who, being keen on the development of his department and keen to make it do the best work it can for the country, has not at times, and very frequently, felt frustrated. The very essence of a government’s functions is this: A certain income is available and the Government has to spend that income in accordance with what we want and need. There is no democratic country in the world where ministers are not frustrated because they cannot get all the money they want to carry out the work of their departments. So long as frustration makes us work continually towards the ends that we have planned, frustration is a characteristic which we must recognise, understand and accept. If we have frustration rather than complacency, something will be done.
I am a north Queenslander. I have lived in north Queensland for some years. As a north Queenslander, I am often frustrated. There are many things that I would like to see developed in north Australia. But I recognise that I may have ambitious ideas for the north. I know that the development that I want to see take place in the north cannot be achieved in a day, a week, one year or three years. It is going to take time. But the fact that I am frustrated because things are not being done is no reason why I should stop trying to get them done. I believe that the task of developing the north is not essentially one for the Commonwealth Government only. I think that this is where many people go wrong. I believe that the development of the north is the responsibility of three governments - the Federal Government, the Queensland Government and the Western Australian Government. I make no secret of the fact that I believe that we would make greater advances in the north if we were to establish a development commission comprising representatives of those three governments. That is my idea. It is not necessarily the best idea. I may be frustrated because that idea has not been accepted and a different one has been accepted, but I still believe that we are going places in the north. We are moving as rapidly as we can, considering the limited finance that governments have available for the task.
I recognise that an enormous amount of money is being spent on the development of the north and that a great many things are being done. I do not intend to go over them again. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) has already given us details of the expenditure on northern development and of the employment that has been created as a result of that expenditure. I have not the time to traverse all those matters again, but I want to put on record that I am mighty proud of the work that is being done in the north. However, I believe that more work should be done in those fields where a need exists.
Let us look at a couple of the projects that were mentioned by Senator Cant. He referred to the Mount Isa railway. This matter has come up in this chamber two or three times. I do not know why honorable senators opposite continue to make the same mistake. Whether they do it in ignorance or whether they do it deliberately, I do not know. But the facts are that the Commonwealth Government has advanced money to the Queensland Government to build this railway. Approximately £18 million has been lent and this money has to be paid back to the Commonwealth Government by the Queensland Government - and paid back with interest. The critically important point is that because of the reconstruction of this line, a great deal more material can be carried over it. The income from the freights on the additional material that will be carried from Mount Isa to the coast will be more than sufficient to cover the repayment of the loan and the interest payments. So in fact the Queensland Government will not be out of pocket in this matter.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood). - Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– The challenge that is inherent in northern development is a continuing one. The attention of the Australian people was focused on it a year or two ago. They have the right to expect that the Government will regard northern development as a continuing challenge and not as a subject that should be given attention only at election times. The challence presented by Australia’s open spaces is one that has been talked about for a long time. In this day and age a great deal of pressure is being brought to bear upon Australia, and there is also the prospect of a fairly long period of peace. In these circumstances, the problem of northern development should be attacked much more vigorously than it has been so far.
Although there are open spaces in the north of the continent, there are also open spaces in Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and New South Wales. The situation could arise that an inflow of migrants could greatly increase the population of those States without adding to the population of the north. The Government would then be in the comfortable position of being able to say after a year or two: “ Because of our development programme and because of our immigration programme, we have lifted the population of Australia from 11 million to 13 million or 15 million”. But the Government still would not have dealt with the development of the north. Australia is fortunate in that it is one of the few countries in which ill health and disease is not a problem in tropical areas. In the tropical areas of Australia white men can work, thrive and prosper without facing, as people in tropical areas of other countries do, the risk of contracting diseases such as yellow fever. In other countries diseases of this kind would have to be conquered before white people could go to their tropical areas. As I have said, this is not so in the north of Australia. Therefore, the task of developing north Australia is comparatively easy compared with the tasks of other countries in developing their tropical areas.
Northern development has overtones of defence. During the last 15 years the Australian Labour Party has accused the government of doing nothing about defence and nothing about development. At one time the Government would never admit that developmental projects also had an element of defence. I agree with Senator Morris when he says that northern development must transcend State boundaries. I remind him that some few years ago the Premiers of Western Australia and Queensland agreed on that very thing. However, Western Australia and Queensland have been side tracked by the Government establishing a section of a department to deal with northern development. This is really only a palliative or perhaps I might call it a red herring drawn across the trail of northern development.
I know that the problems involved are difficult. I think they fall into two categories. There are those in relation to which we know what the difficulties are, and there are those in relation to which we do not. Therefore, I say that there should be a great amount of research going on into the problems of the north. Despite all the talk that we have heard lately on this subject, I do not suppose there is an agricultural economist in Australia today who would put his reputation on the line and say definitely what any particular agricultural product in the north would mean in terms of the economy over a period of years. In many cases we just do not know how the economics would work out. We know that building materials and other developmental materials, particularly those that are heavy and bulky, cost four or five times as much in the north as they do in other parts of Australia. As I have said, we know the difficulties involved in many problems, but in other cases we have yet to find out the difficulties. That is why I say that we need a great deal of research.
In order to attract capital and people to the north there must be Government backing of various projects. People must know that if they go to the north the Commonwealth Government will back them to the hilt and that decisions will not depend on the result of the next election. Some time ago, amidst guffaws and cries of derision from the Liberal Party and the Country Party, the Australian Labour Party said that the task of northern development should be entrusted to a full Ministry. If a department were set up with a minister in charge it would follow, as night follows day, that Commonwealth Budgets would have to allocate money to that Ministry. We on this side of the chamber have tentatively suggested that the amount allocated to northern development should not be a fixed amount but that it should be about 2 per cent, of the national budget, so that as Australia develops it will take the backward areas along with it. The approach of the Government to this problem has been to set up a section of a department and staff it with a few people. Even so, it has completely frustrated that section, as this urgency proposal suggests. A department in charge of northern development would have a certain responsibility for and could exercise a continuing oversight of the problems involved. What the Northern Division of the Department of National Development did was merely to give a palliative for what the Australian Labour Party had forcefully suggested should be done. All the Division has done has been to recommend the obvious. It has not undertaken research work nor has it expressed any radical thoughts. It has done those things that members and senators have talked about for years, as can be seen if one examines the pages of “ Hansard “ for as far back as one wishes to go. lt is interesting to examine the timing involved. The Division was formed early in 1964. By mid-1964 it had placed six propositions before the Government. Their conception hardly justified the establishment of a special division. No radical thought was involved in them. They were obvious and had been talked about for years. All they required were some minor details, estimates of cost and government approval for them to proceed. I will go through them quickly, as they have been mentioned already during this debate. First was the second stage of the Ord River development, about which there has been so much shilly-shallying and on which the Government’s future intentions are not known, even though the Government announced this project as one of the bright features of northern development. Sir Robert Menzies spoke glowingly of the project, but what encouragement have investors now, and what encouragement have men who want to settle there with their wives and families? The other propositions comprised the development at Weipa, the Gladstone coal loading and harbour facilities, sugar port development at Townsville and Cairns, the Mount Isa railway improvement, brigalow land development and road development. These projects did not necessitate the establishment of a special division. They did not involve any radical thought. Their continued existence as problems merely exphasised that the Government is years behind in what ought to have been done.
What chance is there for newer works to be undertaken? What encouragement has the Northern Division when its efforts are frustrated and works are being undertaken so tardily? When the second stage of the Ord River development is not proceeding, what is the use of suggesting that other important works be commenced? The whole of this Government’s approach to northern development has not been one of vision. It has not been one of developing a national outlook. It has not been indicative of statesmanship; rather has it been an example of complete political expediency. And it came about because of the 1961 election. Do not let us kid ourselves on this. We heard nothing about this matter from the Government until after the 1961 elections. Senator Spooner used to say: “We do not believe in this. However, if someone comes along with a proposal to us we will examine it to see whether we ought to do something about it “. That was the Government’s approach until 1961 when it was returned with a majority of only one seat in the House of Representatives. Then we heard about beef roads and the development of the brigalow country. Our eyes were then focused on the Ord River and it seemed that the Government was going to stake its reputation on northern development. I remember well the words of Sir Robert Menzies. I can remember him with his grey hair waving, the Ord River in the background, his dark brows fixed at the right trajectory, referring to this project as a master stroke. A master stroke - yet people had been examining it for over 12 years. I can still hear his words ringing out: “ This is not the end of something here today; this is the beginning. We must go on and on if these great areas of Australia are to grow and become effective contributors to Australian life “.
This, of course, was before the 1963 election. In 1961 the seat of Kalgoorlie had been lost to Labour, and the Government had lost eight seats in Queensland. However, in 1963, although Kalgoorlie had developed to a fairly safe Labour seat the Government won back three of the seats it had lost in Queensland, and suddenly we slopped hearing about northern development. The whole history of the Northern Division can be traced to politics and to the 1961 and 1963 elections. I am sorry that I have to put it on that level, but that is the only level on which it can be put. It may be said that the Government’s approach has been cautious. It has included northern development as part of a portfolio instead of establishing it as a separate portfolio, as the Labour Party suggested. Even if the Government has started cautiously it ought not go backwards but should go ahead. Whatever the situation is in respect of the Ord River development - andI know there has been some controversy about it - surely in view of what the Prime Minister said the Government should take responsibility and carry on with it. Senator Henty referred to people not being prepared to go into these outback areas, but the whole record of the Liberal Government is that it is not prepared to back up the people who do. It is prepared to do something only under political pressure. It is prepared to pay money into the Ord scheme for a time, but when the political situation alters it says to the people in that area: “You are out on a limb; you can stay there. We are not interested in you.” The Ord project, because of its glamour and colour, has become a big thing. It became of interest to people who believed that the Commonwealth Government was prepared to take some of the southern taxpayers’ money and use it in the north. However, I suggest that the Government’s present actions are not encouraging people to go into the north but rather encouraging those already there to move completely out of it. When people go to these areas they know that the going will be tough, but they would be happier if they knew that as they developed the area the Government would back them up when things got tough.
The situation at present is that already one officer has left the Northern Division, and there are grave dangers that others will leave it, not because they have political aspirations but because they have become disillusioned. Projects in other parts of the world cannot hold their brilliant, educated young men if they become frustrated and made the butts of a political joke. The
Division will lose its men - not only the Dr. Pattersons - who will search for fresh fields and pastures new; and who can blame them? This afternoon the Minister shilly-shallied and read out numerous figures. He spent 10 minutes telling us what the PostmasterGeneral’s Department is doing in establishing new post offices and providing telephone services. It is scraping the bottom of the barrel when the Minister has to rely on post office provisions as illustrations of northern development. He virtually suggested that these provisions are the major part of northern development. I notice that Senator Scott is smiling. Perhaps he will tell us some of the more intimate provisions that are being made to develop the north, because if our development consists merely of increasing postal facilities, then God help Australia.
Reliable estimates suggest that by devoting 2 per cent. of the national Budget to developmental works we could revolutionise the whole situation within 10 years. Senator Henty spoke about what the Gove bauxite deposits could produce by 1992. Senator Cant had accused him of going too far back into history. He is certainly looking far ahead when he estimates what can be expected from Gove by 1992. There is no doubt that the Division can be pardoned for its cautious approach, because its establishment was obviously a cynical and political approach with no sincerity behind it. Had there been sincerity in its establishment the Division would be developing instead of being frustrated. There has been tremendous secrecy about its recommendations, except those in relation to the works I have mentioned - works that were necessary, as anyone who has travelled through the north realises.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– Senator Cant has moved -
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn to 3.30 p.m. on Wednesday, 6th October 1965.
He has done this in order to bring before the Senate what he claims is a matter of urgent public importance. That is the failure of the Government to plan adequately for the development of Northern Australia and its frustration of the Northern Division of the Department of National Development. We came back to Canberra this week to discuss the waterfront issue. But what attitude has the Labour Party taken? It has said, in effect: “ We will defer the Stevedoring Industry Bill as long as we can, thus helping the Communists who control the union in Melbourne and Sydney to organise “. The Opposition is prepared to delay the Stevedoring Industry Bill for three hours, which is all the time it can gain under the Standing Orders, rather than face up to the urgent matter that we came here to discuss. As a matter of urgent public importance, it selects northern development. If ever a Government in the history of this country has had an eye to the north of Australia it has been this Government. What was the situation when this Government came to office? It was one of complete and utter stagnation as far as the north was concerned. There was not one item of development taking place in the north. Senator Willesee referred to telephones and claimed that the Government would use the Post Office to develop the north. Any Government which wants people to go north will, if it has any brains, provide them with telephone facilities. When I entered the Senate after Labour’s defeat in 1949 telephone communications in Western Australia extended only to” Meekatharra, which is about 400 miles north of Perth, and to Carnarvon, which is about 600 miles north of Perth. But today a person in Wyndham, which is about 2000 miles from Perth may contact by telephone people in any part of Australia. People in Kununurra may do likewise. Soon every major town on the Western Australian coast will have telephone facilities. This is something that the Labour Party could only dream about, but which we as a Government have accomplished. The Government .may be proud of its record.
Senator Willesee deplored the lack of foresight in developing the Ord River scheme. This Government is not running away from the Ord. A few months ago the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) said that the matter had been deferred. Where £30 million of taxpayers’ money is involved, any sane Government must be sure that the money will not be wasted. Everybody in Western Australia, including Senator Willesee, is convinced that the Ord River scheme will be a success. We must not forget that when the Western Australian
Government applied for additional finance to complete this scheme the result of the first planting of crops was not known. I suppose it is wise to wait. Recent reports indicate that the crops will be a success.
Great projects are under way from one end of Australia’s north to the other. These projects have all been undertaken during this Government’s term of office. Take iron ore, for instance. In the next few years about £220 million of private capital will be spent on iron ore projects, which in the next 20 years will earn about £1,200 million for Australia. But what was the situation in 1949? Did the Labour Party say to the people of Australia: “ Go out and find iron ore?”. Did the Labour Party offer to lift the embargo on the export of iron ore so as to induce private enterprise to find deposits? It did not. Instead it imposed a ban on the export of iron ore. This was done in 1942. It was not’ until the election of a Government with complete vision and a desire to develop that the embargo on the export of iron ore was lifted.
– Who imposed the embargo?
– It was imposed in 1942.
– No. lt was imposed in 1938.
– I understand that is was imposed in 1942. This Government lifted the embargo. Within a few years total known deposits of high grade ore increased from 250 million tons to about 8.000 million in Western Australia alone. This figure is held to be a conservative estimate. As a result of these discoveries, private companies from all over the world are prepared to spend about £220 million in the next few years in exploiting the iron ore fields. Australia’s export earnings from iron ore deposits will amount’ to more than £40 million a year, or about £1,200 million over the next 20 years. It is this Government’s responsibility to create the climate for development’ of the north.
What else has this Government done? In Queensland it established a tropical agriculture research station at Townsville. As Senator Morris pointed out, we now have proof that 10 beasts may now be run where only one beast was run before. This information will enable private individuals wilh sufficient capital to exploit the cattle industry. When I was at the research farm at Katherine some two or three years ago ] was told that new types of pasture had been developed. One was known as siratro and another as Townsville lucerne. It was claimed that by combining developed pastures with natural pastures one beast could be run to three acres whereas formerly fewer than three beasts could be run to 100 acres. This is development, and this Government is creating the climate for it. People are coming in to develop the north and others will follow them. People are buying stations in the north of Australia as fast as they can get them. Some people have already spent more than £500.000 on station development.
I refer now to the bauxite industry in the north. With the discovery of bauxite at Weipa, we have now an aluminium industry well on its way to big production. The Government and private enterprise have spent between £10 million and £13 million at Weipa. The Comalco organisation is establishing an alumina plant at Gladstone, Queensland. When completed, the plant will cost over £50 million. At Gove six Australian companies are to spend about £50 million in conjunction with other companies operating in Australia. Alumina production will enable Australia to earn an annual income of about £50 million so that within 20 years expenditure on the industry will have been returned.
I turn now to oil search. When this Government was returned to office it found that the Labour Party had purchased a rig in 1947. That rig was still in the packing cases when the Labour Government was defeated in 1949. We sold the rig in 1950.
– A Labour Government bought the rig in 1945.
– I am informed that the rig was bought in 1945. It was still in the packing cases and we sold it in 1950. It was bought by Wapet with the intention of drilling for oil in Western Australia. The Labour Government of that day had an opportunity to exploit oil search. It showed how enterprising it was by buying a rig and leaving it in the packing case for 5 years. We sold the rig and got private enterprise to undertake oil search. This Government said to the oil exploration companies: “ We will subsidise on a 50/50 basis anybody who wishes to search for oil on approved sites anywhere in Australia or its territories “. As a result of this approach two commercial oil fields have been located in Australia. One is at Moonie and the other is on Barrow Island off the north west of Western Australia.
– Is that a commercial find?
– In my opinion it is. I believe that it will be proved to be a commercial find. Just north of Perth at Yardarino and Gin Gin discoveries have been made of gas which we believe will be found in commercial quantities. This is quite an achievement in development and will play a significant part in the further development of Australia. Australia needs most a cheap form of power. If we can get gas to do the job, well and good.
Let us examine the development of the uranium industry in northern Australia. Under this Government the uranium resources at Rum Jungle were exploited by Territory Enterprises Pty. Ltd. on behalf of the Commonwealth. At Alligator River United Uranium N.L. set up a mining plant which successfully mined uranium. Another successful uranium plant operated at Mary Kathleen in Queensland. Millions of pounds of uranium were produced for export. At the moment those mines are in the mothball stage.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT. - Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– Senator Scott said that the Opposition raised the important matter of northern development for discussion as a subterfuge and an attempt to escape its obligations to debate the Stevedoring Industry Bill. He said that we have attempted to shift emphasis from that legislation. Nobody can say that the important question of national development should not take precedence over other considerations. We appreciate its importance. Not only on this occasion, but also on previous occasions, the Labour Party has argued that the Government has not properly taken stock of the position. The Government has done only routine work and has not undertaken the task of northern development as it should have done. That is why this motion has been moved by the Opposition to raise the matter of northern development as a question of urgency.
It has been well known ever since, the war years that very important mineral deposits exist in the Northern Territory. Senator Scott said that the Labour Party failed to do certain things during the war years. I remind him that the Labour Party was in office at a time when the Territory was filled with servicemen. I refer not only to fighting men, but to men with equipment and men of airfield construction units. Men of those units built the roads and airstrips including the airstrip at Gove. It is still available for use, but was not used properly in any national development scheme. I was a member of the airfield construction unit which built the Gove strip and the anchorage and I know well the potential of the Territory. The Department of Territories has known of the great value of mineral deposits in the area, but the fact is that the great plan to develop the north has never been properly considered.
The Government has met public demands to develop the north merely by departmental actions. It is a fitting commentary on the work of this Government to say that since 1949 all it has given to the Senate in respect of northern development are routine reports from Mr. Hasluck, the former Minister for Territories and from Mr. Barnes, the present Minister. Ministers in this chamber have given the Senate routine reports on the slow advancement of northern development. Those reports have failed to touch on the great issues which face this continent. Our minds have been preoccupied with great events in South East Asia. The Press also has been preoccupied with the issues of South East Asia. As a result, our developmental demands within our own boundaries have been put aside.
The Opposition says that at this stage we ought to stop and think about the need for development in the north. Of course, there has been some development. It was necessary to have some, development but, as Senator Willesee has said, in discussing northern development the issue is restricted to what the Government is doing in relation to beef roads. The construction of beef roads relates to Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory and not to South Australia where Commonwealth aid has been refused.
I am the first to recognise that Sir William Spooner, the former Minister for National Development, was a competent and well informed Minister. However, I suggest that he, the present Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) and the Government are hidebound and restricted by their philosophies because they do not believe in planning. Government supporters often say: “ We are a free enterprise community and costs of production are always important in relation to expansion “. The Labour Party takes a different view and I suggest that many important people in Australia share the Opposition’s viewpoint. We have a great obligation to develop the north, but not in a piecemeal fashion. Cost conies into this question. Quite often honorable senators opposite have said that the Ord River project should be re-examined because of increasing costs. The Labour Party says that there ought to be a new movement towards development of the Northern Territory through the setting up of a new portfolio so that a Minister could take control of development of the north and institute a special programme of general development. Roads and railways would be considered in the programme, as well as beef roads. Attention would also be given to a concentrated attack upon power requirements.
It is a great pity that in this age the Northern Territory should become a Cinderella because of our preoccupation with external events. The Press has concentrated on affairs outside Australia with the result that the community has failed to realise the importance of our northern areas. Recently an influential person suggested that our underdeveloped north is our greatest defence. He said that we should leave our northern areas vacant and undeveloped as a scorched earth defence measure. This is surely nonsense.
– That is the Brisbane line philosophy.
– That is so. Because of our preoccupation with events outside Australia national development has not been pushed sufficiently. The area of Australia which had 65 air raids should have been the first area to be considered for development. We were able to accomplish great things in that area through the use of servicemen, but unfortunately, it has become the Cinderella area in our thinking.
Honorable senators have heard the argument about electoral status. The Opposition here and in another place has sought to have full status given to the member for the Northern Territory. Every time this proposition has been put up, the Government has opposed it. How can we advance the Territory unless it is given a completely new status and its elected representative has a full vote and is empowered to act according to the demands of his electorate? 1 think it is fair to say that the slow movement of work from the departments is the result of the Government’s philosophy. It does not believe in planning. When development is mentioned, the Government always argues that economic considerations prevent it from proceeding with development. When the Government set up a special committee to consider transportation costs in the north, Senator Sir William Spooner said: “ Surely this is not a very urgent matter. The Committee should not act as though this were a really urgent problem. It should make sure that its findings are well based.” That is the attitude of the Government. On the other hand, some very’ knowledgeable people outside the Parliament, such as Sir William Hudson and Sir Douglas Copland, have supported campaigns for northern development and have put their views on record. The Government does not have a plan for northern development. I do not think it wants a plan. It argues that cost factors restrict its planning.
The Minister for National Development recently referred to the great mineral deposits in the area. He said that the Government believes in the development of the north, but this development would have to be undertaken within the nations’ resources. His main points were that coal has been found beneath the bauxite deposits at Gove, that the iron ore deposits at Pilbara should be exploited and that phosphates had been found near Darwin. We have known for many years that these minerals existed in the area, but the Government has not been proceeding with their development. I see that my time is running out, but I want to refer to the fact that people such as Sir William Hudson have suggested that a special authority should be set up to consider the type of power we can develop from tides and gas in the area. But we should also consider other incidental matters that arise within the Territory. The population of the Territory has not grown as quickly as we would have liked. Population changes have been rather small. The present population of the Territory is 31,388. In June 1961 it was 27,095. The present population of Darwin is 15,218, but the rate of growth there has decreased. In 1963 it was 9.66 and in 1964 it had dropped to 7.37.
I referred earlier to surveys that had been made of the administration of the Northern Territory. They are not enough. It is not enough, for example, when the AuditorGeneral refers to the lack of administrative action in Darwin, to say “ We will examine this matter” and then send the Public Accounts Committee to Darwin. I recently came across a report which said that, on a recent visit to Darwin to investigate matters arising from the Auditor-General’s report, the Public Accounts Committee found that no fewer than 21 matters required urgent attention. The Chairman of the Committee, the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver), is reported to have said -
We believe that the Commonwealth Administrative Arrangements Order provides a ready precedent for such a statement. There is still an urgent need for the establishment of a Public Service Inspector’s Office in Darwin and there is still an urgent need to improve office and hostel accommodation in the principal centres of the Territory.
Although housing has been improved following the establishment of the Northern Territory Housing Commission and an increase in the supply of houses by the Administration, the problem of housing continues to have an adverse effect on the recruitment and retention of public servants in the area.
I do not have sufficient time to read more of the comments of the Public Accounts Committee. However, it is obvious that the Government’s own Committee found that there was a need to improve the administrative work in the Territory. The Territory is being treated as a poor neighbour or as a Cinderella. The emphasis is shifting to New Guinea and we are not paying sufficient attention to the incidental matters in the Territory. On 23rd July, it was reported that less than one third of 31 vacant positions for agricultural scientists in the Northern
Territory had been filled. The call for additional agricultural scientists had arisen from the reorganisation of the Department of Agriculture in the Northern Territory and the development of pilot farms. The poor response was attributed to the scarcity of agricultural scientists and to the comparatively low rate of pay in the area. Some reference is made to the fact that the scarcity probably had its origin not only in the wages offered but also in the imposition of quotas by the universities. This seems to be another good reason for devising a general plan for the development of the north.
I have referred to people such as Sir William Hudson and Sir Douglas Copland, who have outlined their plans for northern development. It seems to me that at this stage we should stop and consider whether the Government should adopt the suggestions made by these men. After all, the Snowy Mountains Authority is more than half way through its programme. The Government could now instruct it to carry out a general survey of the needs of northern areas. Action such as this would be a move to honour our obligations; it would at least be a start. If the Department of National Development is to do its work, it should be told to canvass the need for a general authority. It should consider the sort of proposition that I have advanced. The Australian Labour Party has made no secret of its views. It has said that there should eventually be a conservation authority and there should be a Minister in charge of it.
This problem is urgent and it is far more important than the matter we will soon be debating. This problem affects Australia’s future and we must grapple with it. If we do not, we will continue to act as we have since the conclusion of the war. As I said earlier, at the conclusion of the war we had some very capable people within the Territory. We had people in the Armed Services and people engaged in construction work. Their work could have continued or civilian operators could have been encouraged to take over the work of road construction and of connecting the east to the west. We have not done this. At present, we have a fair representation of the skills we need in the Territory. We have an airfield construction unit there, although the personnel in this unit also are very concerned about housing.
I suggest that this is an important issue and that the Government should take notice of the views of the Opposition. This matter is much more important than the matter we will soon be debating.
.- In speaking about northern development, I propose to refer especially to Queensland. What has been done, what is being done and what will be done are mostly matters of Commonwealth-State-private enterprise partnership. Since 1957, when the Nicklin Government took office in Queensland, the confidence of private investors in Queensland has been restored and the tempo of development has gained momentum. Despite the allegations of honorable senators opposite, a large amount of development is going on in Queensland, and other northern areas. Some of the major works are being undertaken in Gladstone. I understand that about £55 million is to be spent in Gladstone. I understood honorable senators opposite to say that a lot of this money would be spent overseas. I just cannot see that. The money is being spent in Queensland and it is all part of the general development there. I believe that in the not too distant future Gladstone will have a population not of 8,000 as at present but of 22,000.
Again, £12 million is to be spent at Weipa on the west coast of Cape York Peninsula. This money will be used for the development of a town and a port where only a mission station existed until a few years ago. This, too, must attract people to the north and so lead to further development there. From this port the alumina refinery at Gladstone will draw its raw material.
Much has been said about the rebuilding of the railway line from Townsville to Mount Isa on which I understand about £27 million has been spent. Of this sum, £18 million was loan money and we have heard some criticism of this. Let me point out that the rebuilding of this railway line has made possible the undertaking of expansion work at Mount lsa to cost about £60 million. That work is under way now. Senator Morris has pointed out that it is expected that the £18 million of loan money expended on the reconstruction of the railway line will be recouped in about 20 years through freight earned from carrying the additional production resulting from the expansion of the Mount lsa mine. The town of Mount Isa has a population of only about 1 5,000 but, thanks to the railway line and the development of the mine, those people enjoy all modern amenities and the town itself is a credit to all those who have been responsible for its growth.
The reconstructed line, from Townsville to Mount Isa will also help with the development of the northern part of Australia in other ways. It will make possible the quick transport of cattle from the Northern Territory and the Gulf country to the meat works. It has also made possible the development of a copper refinery at Townsville and has meant new life to the nearby coal mines at Collinsville from which the coal is taken as backloading to Mount lsa.
Great development has taken place also in the sugar industry of north Queensland where already £10 million has been spent on the construction of sugar terminals at six ports. I understand also that something in excess of £20 million has been expended on expanding the sugar mills to cope with the increased cane production. It is impossible to say how much the farmers have spent on new assignments and developing new farms, but it is a very substantial sum.
Mention has been made of the scheme for clearing the brigalow lands not far from where I live. The system of partly developing the blocks before making them available to settlers will enable this land to be brought into production much sooner than would have otherwise been possible. This will give great impetus to the development of that part of the State.
I come now to beef roads. The development of these roads in the channel country has enabled stock to be brought out in better condition and quicker for marketing. It has also enabled stock to be brought out to agistment areas in time of drought whereas, before the development of the roads, stock was left to die in that part of the country. The roads have also made it possible to take stock back to the area quickly, after there has been sufficient rainfall to flood the channels. The beef road in the Gulf country from Julia Creek to Normanton mow nearing completion will enable all that country to be developed to a greater extent than anyone even dreamed a few years ago. The road being constructed from Georgetown towards Cairns will enable stock to be brought to the market at Cairns much quicker than has been possible hitherto. I understand that the value of the stock already saved as a result of the construction of these roads exceeds the amount that has been spent on their construction so far. This gives some indication of what a wonderful achievement this work has been.
Television services have been extended to the northern parts of Queensland. So far, approximately £2 million has been spent on this work. Although a television service is not yet enjoyed by the people of Cairns, it will not be very long before they do have that facility. The installation of microwave relay stations is not only providing television and telephone channels but also is giving a direct connection to overseas cables. This work is well under way, and it is to cost approximately £4 million. Incidentally, the installation of this microwave system has enabled station owners and farmers along its route to have electric power much sooner than they expected. They now enjoy this amenity through the sheer accident of the power lines to the relay stations passing through their properties.
As has been pointed out, the Army proposes to spend £10 million at Townsville. I understand that Townsville is already the second biggest city in Queensland. Before long, with the establishment of secondary industries, the extra business resulting from the expansion of Mount Isa and the rebuilding of the line to that town, and the expenditure by the Department of the Army of this huge sum of money, it is destined to be much greater still. I might state that Townsville also has a university.
– And Magnetic Island.
– And Magnetic Island. Among the other places in the north at which substantial amounts of money have been spent are Tinaroo where the dam and associated works will cost over £15 million, and the Callide Valley, where £3 million is being spent on a dam and where a further £22 million is to be spent on a power house which has not been mentioned by any other honorable senator so far. This power house, which was commissioned only a few weeks ago, will supply power to the alumina refinery at Gladstone and to the coal mine at Moura. Already £51 million has been spent on the Barron Falls hydro-electric scheme and the construction has begun of another power house and dam at the Collinsville coal field. This work is to cost £20 million and the power house will feed into the north Queensland electricity grid.
– All done by the Federal Government?
– I referred to a CommonwealthStateprivate enterprise partnership. I should like to emphasise, too, that, despite the dieselisation of our railways and other handicaps, more coal is being produced in Queensland than ever before in our history. This has resulted from long term contracts with Japan. The coal is being transported by rail to Gladstone from where it is exported to Japan. A new line approximately 110 miles long is being constructed to shorten the rail haul of the coal to the port of Gladstone. Another syndicate is now negotiating for the export to Japan of further huge amounts of coal from the mines at Blackwater, west of Rockhampton.
Reference has been made to the Cairns airport. The sum of £650,000 is being spent there. 1 understand that this work is being undertaken mainly because Electra aircraft will be using that airport in the very near future. One of our greatest breakthroughs will come from the development of pasture research and improvement in the north. Already we have a research station at Townsville and another at Belmont near Rockhampton. As a result, animal husbandry methods are improving to meet modern conditions, and in this way private enterprise will be responsible for a great deal of development there. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation has conducted a comprehensive soil survey over most of Queensland and this will assist greatly in this field of development.
An honorable senator on the Opposition side referred to the pearling industry in the far north as if it did not mean very much to northern Australia. I remind him that the six pearling stations in the far north of Queensland employ 500 Australians. The Senate will agree that that is a substantial contribution to employment and development.
Reference has been made to port assistance. This Government has done a great deal to assist at Weipa and Gladstone and to make possible the establishment of the big alumina industry. Honorable senators opposite omitted to mention the development of water schemes on two big rivers, the Burnett and the Burdekin, to replenish underground supplies in the delta areas where vast irrigation development is taking place and to enable irrigation to be maintained. There are diversion schemes to feed water into the underground supplies in these delta areas.
The development of the northern part of Queensland will be assisted considerably by the construction of the Bruce Highway, which was recently completed. There are now 1,400 miles of bitumen from Coolangatta to Mossman. No other State has that length of bitumen in one piece. This work has had a tremendous effect on the development of the north. Travellers can get through this area quickly and in reasonable comfort now. One can get through to Cooktown but the road must go on to Bamaga and assist the development of the area to an even greater extent. Three new meat works are being built in the northern part of Queensland and two others are being reconstructed. These will all assist in the growing development of the beef cattle industry in that area. We have a new cement works at Rockhampton as well as one at Townsville. The production of grain such as grain sorghum and wheat has gone ahead to such an extent around the Tropic of Capricorn that a flour mill is being built at Rockhampton to supply the whole of the northern part of Queensland with flour.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMulIin). - Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– Before I make the points on the development of northern Australia that I have specifically in mind, I want to voice criticism of some of the remarks that have been made by honorable senators on the Government side. They have complained bitterly because the. Opposition has brought forward this matter of urgency, on the ground that it has held up the Government’s legislation to sack and apply other harsh measures to the waterside workers. I want to supplement the arguments for northern development that have been submitted by honorable senators on behalf of the Australian Labour Party, but first I propose to reply to some of the statements that have been made by Government supporters. In replying to Senator Cant, the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty), directly and by implication, said that the people of northern Australia did not need hospitals or bitumen roads. The Minister said that the roads that were there now were good enough for them. He said the people of the north did not want swimming pools or any of the other amenities that civilised people require. Then he talked about developments for the Army in Townsville.
– The honorable senator has misinterpreted the Minister’s statements.
– I did not misinterpret them. I have repeated the words of the Minister himself. One of the biggest scandals in Townsville was that in recent weeks there was an attempt to take over the Queen’s Hotel. Government supporters know that the building was purchased some years ago by Mr. R. M. Ansett for a comparatively small sum. It would have been a public scandal if R. M. Ansett or his companies had made a profit of something like 400 per cent, on the deal in a matter of a few years. I am glad the Government was shamed into dropping this proposal to buy the Queen’s Hotel for the Army.
The Minister spoke about the tobacco research station at Mareeba and said that tobacco growing was one of the greatest developments in the area. That is true; but there would not have been a tobacco industry at Mareeba but for the encouragement given by the Government of Queensland, which provided the water for the irrigation scheme associated with the development of the farms. The Minister for Civil Aviation also referred to the development of the mining industry in north-western Australia. I suggest that the figures quoted by the Minister were in the nature of a political fraud. He gave the figures relating to development but those figures give no indication of the permanency of this mining development or of the number of persons who will be employed eventually. The Minister referred in glowing terms to the development of the bauxite field at Gove Peninsula and he mentioned how much
Australian capital was involved in this development. The Australian companies associated with that development will require a return on capital of 7i per cent, and if they do not get it they have the right to opt out of the agreement they have signed. Of course, it is unlikely that such a return can be secured in the near future and possibly Swiss and other foreign companies will develop the deposits at Gove Peninsula after all, despite what we have been told previously about this project. I venture to suggest that the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) will be further convinced that he does not like the policies of the Liberal Party when he reads what the Minister said today.
The Minister referred also to sugar ports and the bulk loading of sugar. A number of questions implicit in the statements made by the Minister need to be answered before we can get to the truth of this matter. We of the Australian Labour Party have no objection to developments of this kind. We do not care how many bulk loading facilities are established; but we say that there is a moral and legal responsibility on the Government to see that workers who are displaced are properly employed in some other industry. No attempt has been made by either the Commonwealth or the State Governments to do this, following the installation of bulk loading facilities in the sugar ports. Consequently, there have been more reduced enrolments in country electorates of Queensland recently than there have been for many years past. This problem is a continuing one in Queensland. I speak of Queensland because I know it best. If the Government is prepared to find alternative employment for those who are displaced, there will be no resistance by the Australian Labour Party to the installation of bulk loading facilities.
As usual, Senator Morris made water run uphill. He attempted to twist a statement that was made by an honorable senator on the Opposition side about the Snowy Mountains scheme. We have not said that we want water in Queensland from the Snowy Mountains scheme. What we do want is the use of the brains and manpower that have been gathered together to bring the Snowy Mountains scheme to fruition. We want that know-how diverted to the development of other schemes in the north.
When Senator Morris was a member of the State Government in Queensland, that Government obtained a loan for the Mount lsa railway on the worst terms secured for a loan by any State in Australia. That is not something to be proud about. Senator Morris referred to beef roads. He should be reminded of the roads he promised the people of Cooktown and Cairns. When he went to Cooktown, he said that the road between Cooktown, Daintree and Cairns would be developed. It has not been developed and Senator Morris now lives in Cairns. Perhaps it is safer there.
I intended to reply to Senator Lawrie but apparently he has been reading Hans Andersen’s fairy tales. I am afraid that his so-called facts are away off the mark. I can confirm that Townsville is the second city in Queensland but the road to Cooktown has not been built as he implied. So I will not criticise the honorable senator unduly in regard to these matters. I believe the Government’s attitude is to forget the needs of the far north of Australia and that it still subscribes to a form of the old Brisbane line policy. Its attitude is that there shall be nothing north of the Brisbane line so far as production is concerned. Beef production in Queensland has shown an annual increase of only about 3 per cent, in the last 20 years. This is not good enough, but the rate of increase cannot be speeded up unless we get a reasonable amount of financial assistance for developmental projects.
One of the big problems is transport. At one time there were railway lines to take cattle from the more remote areas to points of sale, agistment and so on, but the Queensland Government - unhindered by the Federal Government - indulges, these days, in the happy game of tearing up railway lines. In the last two or three years it has torn up something like 1,000 miles of lines that ran into the more remote areas of Queensland and there has been no attempt by the Commonwealth Government to restrain it. The development of the spear grass areas in Queensland is a project which should be watched closely. It might cost £300 million to carry out this work but, even if it does, there should be at least some development over an extended period of time. The provision of dams and irrigation projects and the supply of water generally are of major importance to Queensland and to the whole north of Australia. . I said a while ago, when referring to the Snowy Mountains scheme, that what we need are the skills, the people and the machinery that are currently being used in the Snowy Mountains to be diverted to other areas after the Snowy work is finished. The Burdekin scheme in Queensland has been talked about for a long time but nothing has been done about it. The Tinaroo and Koombaloomba schemes could be multiplied many times over. In the south of the State there are schemes almost as important as these. I will quote from a report prepared by the Bundaberg and District Irrigation Committee, compiled in an effort to secure some alleviation of the position in that area. This publication states, in regard to sugar production -
This year, after more expansion, the peak was lifted to 335,000 tons. The best estimates-
This is because of drought conditions - - of actual production provide for a dismal 190,000 tons. The effect on the income of canegrowers and milling companies can well be imagined: For 1965 alone the drop in income will be more than £7 million.
Yet anything from £7 million to £12 million would provide all the water required in this area. Another part of this reports states -
The sugar industry of the Lower Burnett is not the only sinew of primary industry damaged by this lack of water.
Other types of primary industry such as grazing of stock, cotton, fruit and vegetables, grain growing, dairying and tobacco have recorded losses of many thousands of pounds.
This is all because of the shortage of water and irrigation projects and the hamstringing, cheeseparing methods adopted by this Government which will provide nothing for development of this nature. This is capital development in this section of industry. The report continues -
The capital investment in the sugar industry in the whole area is valued at between £60 million and £70 million. Currently there are 1,530 growers and their working sons and families in the area, and about 3,200 employees on the farms and in the mills, all of whom form part of the 42,510 people in the whole of the Lower Burnett area.
This area is not far from Senator Lawrie’s territory and he should be fairly familiar with it. In the Northern Territory we are continually hamstrung by this Government in relation to the Legislative Council. The people of the Territory are given no local autonomy to try to organise something for themselves, and from time to time there are mass resignations. Deputations are sent to Canberra. There are many problems in this developing area which should be looked at by a responsible Government. Instead, there is complete neglect. This applies to the whole of northern Australia and to the working, living and social conditions generally of the Aboriginal people. There has been no attempt whatever to provide the Aborigines with the basic necessities of life. In fact, there is a case before the court at present in which the Aborigines are trying to obtain, through the North Australian Workers Union, even the basic wage. The employers have come up with a compromise and said that they will give education and build villages on the stations instead of huts. This is a mere sop. They will not put up the wages and have said quite clearly that they have no intention of doing so.
Finally, I must touch on the Moonie oilfield, which was mentioned by one Government senator. He was not too sure whether the oil strike in Western Australia should be called an oilfield or not, but in Queensland we have the Moonie oilfield, which has been declared a commercial oil area, and the Alton field. There are others that can be developed, but this Government has done nothing to help. On 16th September I asked a question in this chamber in an endeavour to see whether the Government had used any influence at all on the two oil refineries in Brisbane to get them to process Moonie oil. T have not had a reply to that question and I do not think anything will happen. We will still export the Moonie oil and import oil from other countries.
To cap the whole matter of its inactivity in northern development the Government decided to sack the Director of the Northern Division of the Department of National Development. He is probably the only man in that Division who would know what is going on in the far north or is capable of planning for the development of the area and seeing that the development was implemented. But the Government is not interested in what happens in the far north of Australia and does not want anybody with brains in the Northern Division to organise development. The work of such a person would be embarrassing and awkward for the Government, so it is happy to see this Division continue as a dead committee - the sort of thing that is set up after being promised during an election campaign! Pro bably this position will continue if this Government sees through its full three years of office - though that is very doubtful in view of certain problems in the present coalition and in view of the economic situation generally. It is quite possible that there will be an early election and 1 have no doubt that the Government, in preparing its policy speech, will say what it is going to spend on northern development and how much it is going to provide for this project and that. We will still be hearing about it three years after that if this country is unfortunate enough to have the present coalition returned to office.
– I do not intend to reply to Senator Keeffe, because most of his speech had no relevance to the subject matter of the debate. How the Opposition can justify the case it has presented as being of urgent public importance is a matter of wonderment to me and, I think, to all of us on this side of the Senate. The debate has never got off the ground. The Opposition’s case was ill prepared and consequently is very weak. Obviously it was prepared in haste to forestall discussion on another matter which is causing honorable senators opposite acute embarrassment. In other words, the whole debate is a damp squib. I do not decry the importance of northern development, but I think it is most significant that the Opposition has chosen this time for initiating a debate of this kind. There will be plenty of opportunity in the weeks ahead, when the Estimates are under discussion, to engage in ill founded and destructive criticism - as honorable senators opposite have done today - or, if they have any constructive proposals, to put them forward. As further proof of the fact that this debate is a damp squib, I noted that Senator Cant spent valuable minutes discussing the failure of the Commonwealth Government to construct an assembly hall at North-West Cape, and a swimming pool and hospital - important as that is - and referred to the fact that some of the roads were to be dirt roads and not bituminised. This makes me wonder what really are matters of national importance.
We have been delayed for some three hours in discussing a bill of vital importance to all Australians and I do not think that this delay has in any way assisted the development of northern Australia.
Perhaps the main difference between ourselves and the Opposition in this matter of the development of northern Australia is that the Opposition possesses a Socialist philosophy which it regards as the criterion of public expenditure. We, with a private enterprise philosophy, believe that the duty of the Government in regard to the development of northern Australia, as in regard to other parts of Australia, is to provide the facilities, the services and the political and economic climate to enable private enterprise to go ahead and carry out the development. That is what we are doing. Many figures for expenditure in ports, railways and other facilities in northern Australia undertaken by the Federal Government and. in some cases in conjunction with the State Governments, have been given. What is vitally important, of course, is the climate that this Government has provided. I will, in a few moments, deal fairly specifically with some of the development being undertaken by private ‘ enterprise in the north. This development, on a vast scale, is changing the face of the whole of northern Australia.
However, before dealing specifically, if time permits, with some of the projects in which Government expenditure and private expenditure are involved, I wish to mention the question of research and land survey activities in the north. Other speakers have mentioned the research activities undertaken by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and other Commonwealth organisations in conjunction, in some cases, with State Governments. We have in north Queensland the Belmont Research Station which I visited a few years ago and its associate station which is near Rockhampton. Here we see work of the most tremendous value to the development of northern Australia being undertaken with new pasture development and the production of new breeds of cattle suitable to the northern environment. One cannot over-rate the importance of this work. We have several C.S.I.R.O. research stations in the Northern Territory. One such station at Katherine is investigating problems of animal husbandry, crops and pasture development. We have the coastal plains research station engaged in research into rice production. The Northern Territory Administration has a number of research stations. These stations must surely provide the ground work for development to take place. In addition to its contributions to research, the Commonwealth supplements on a £1 for £1 basis the funds raised by the beef and wool industries much of which, particularly in regard to beef, is being spent in the north.
I would like to deal for a moment specifically with a fairly extraordinary statement by Senator Cant concerning land surveys being conducted by the C.S.I.R.O. He mentioned that the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) had made reference to this matter and to several reports which no-one has ever seen. I have in my hand reports from the C.S.I.R.O. Division of Land Research and Regional Survey. These reports, dated 11 tl. April 1963, were made at the request of the Federal Secretariat of the Liberal Party. They deal with the Northern Territory, the Kimberleys in Western Australia and north Queensland. These are the surveys reported upon by this Division of the C.S.I.R.O. The Division made a study, which is included in these reports, of the soils, the annual rainfall, the general climatic conditions and the topography of the regions. These reports can be obtained from the C.S.I.R.O. They are of some interest to us all.
The report on north Queensland for example states that the Division has carried out research which shows that there are 107 million acres of land above the 25 inch annual rainfall area, and a further 40 million acres of land between the 20 and 25 inch annual rainfall area. After disregarding some of this country because of soil and climatic conditions, the Division considers that there are 69 million acres capable of pasture development with a further 40 million acres of the slightly lower rainfall area which would provide suitable improved pastures. Then the report deals with the type of pastures and legumes which it is possible to grow in the two areas of 69 million acres and 40 million acres to which I have just referred. These findings, after considerable research, indicate that the carrying capacity of this land can be increased from one beast to nine acres on native pasture to one beast to two acres
On improved pasture and provide a gross return of £8 14s. per acre on improved pasture as against 19s. per acre on native pasture. Therefore, it is incorrect to make the statement that nothing has been done by the C.S.I.R.O. Division of Land Research and Regional Survey. A similar type of report is available for the Kimberleys area and the Northern Territory. Since this report was received, a further detailed report containing more information has been obtained by the Federal Secretariat of the Liberal Party by request to the C.S.I.R.O.
I would like to turn very briefly to the question of private industry and its development of the north. This matter exemplifies more than any other the difference of approach between ourselves and the Opposition in developmental matters. I turn, quite naturally I suppose, to my own State where the political and economic climate is such that great industries today are’ developing the vast mineral resources in Western Australia. It is interesting to go back to the time when the Labour Party was in Government in Western Australia when, with its Socialist doctrines, it decreed that all mineral resources discovered were to be the property of the Crown. Prospectors, quite naturally, did not go out in search of the vast mineral deposits or, if they did and they discovered them, they kept the discovery to themselves. It was only with the change of Government that this extremely negative policy was abolished. We suddenly found that we had in the north-west of Western Australia vast mineral resources of tremendous importance. The expenditure in the north-west by private enterprise, at not one penny cost to the public, will eventually be of the order of £300 million. This means new ports, new railways, new roads and, above all, new industries.
The Government is sometimes criticised because this investment is in the main, but not completely, foreign investment. We have the alternatives of accepting foreign investment for development or having no development at all. The alternative to foreign investment is for these vast deposits to remain, as they have for centuries, undeveloped, because this type of money - risk capital - is just not available in Australia. The development of these resources will mean, in a relatively few years, an export income of £70 million to Australia. In addition, it is going to mean new industries in the north. The agreement worked out by the Western Australia Government provides that, at Mount Tom Price, £40 million will be expended to establish on integrated iron and steel industry. As a second stage of the development there will be expenditure of £17.8 million on a pelletising plant. Provision is also made for the Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company in time to construct a pelletising plant at a cost of many millions of pounds.
This is development on a vast scale of an area that had for long remained undeveloped. It is being developed because this Government has created a political and economic climate which gives confidence to people to go out and develop these great resources. When I hear the Opposition criticising this Government’s development of northern Australia I can only think that it is concerned with public expenditure and that it does not believe in private enterprise taking its part in the development of these areas. Development is changing the face of northern Australia. We now know that at Gove in the Northern Territory £50 million is to be spent in developing the vast bauxite deposits, providing employment for some 800 people and a township of some 3,000 people. When we look at the north west of Western Australia, where new towns are being developed for some thousands of Australian men, women and children, and employment is being provided for hundreds of Australians, we realise that this is development on a vast scale. To charge the Government with not developing northern Australia is, I suggest, too stupid for words. Time and time again, we have heard the figures relating to Commonwealth expenditure on development and assistance to the various States for the development of northern Australia.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– Mr. President, in the two minutes which 1 understand have been left to me I would like to take the opportunity of urging upon the Commonwealth Government the urgent need to accelerate its activities relating to the development of northern Australia. In recent years there have been many claims by the Government to achievements in the northern part of Australia.
Some of the claims are based on fact, but I believe that in the Senate today in the main there has been quite a lot of exaggeration about what has been done. The work that has been done has been done in recent times. For far too long governments of every political persuasion have been slow to recognise the necessity to do something for the development of northern Australia.
In my speech during the Budget debate
I took the opportunity to complain about the inactivity of the Commonwealth Government in regard to the development of northern Queensland. I documented my complaints and showed beyond doubt that all that Queensland had received from the Commonwealth Government was the promise of help and approval of projects undertaken, but not one penny of financial assistance did it receive towards the cost of any of the projects which have been carried out in Queensland by State Governments in the interests of developing that State. The same comment applies to other States. This is a most important matter.
– Order! The debate having reached the limit of three hours allowed under Standing Order No. 64, the Business of the Day will be called on.
Assent to the following Bills reported -
Wool Reserve Prices Pl.-n Referendum Bill 1965. Social Services Bill 1965.
Bill returned from the House of Representatives without amendment.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Motion (by Senator Gorton) proposed -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay.
– Mr. President, I recognise that it is usual for the Senate to concur in the passage of the motion that so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Bill being passed through all its stages without delay. We do that because of the well established practice that has grown up to afford to the Opposition, in fact to the whole Senate, reasonable time to study the Bill at its various stages, particularly after hearing the second reading speech of the Minister explaining the Bill and to have time to study the speech in conjunction with the Bill. It is quite obvious that there is undue haste in this matter. For that reason I interpose at this stage.
Last week, when I addressed myself to a similar topic, 1 pointed to the disruption of the convenience of senators caused by the interpolation of this Bill for debate this week, when normally the Senate would be adjourned for the week. I want to indicate again that there can be no real reason for haste in this matter. I refer first of all to the speech of ‘the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) who, in dealing with the main purpose of the major aspect of this Bill, said -
I cannot too strongly emphasise that the whole of <Part III of the Bill does not have immediate or automatic operation. Whether there will ever arise the circumstances which demand resort to Part III depends entirely on the Federation - or more properly, on the decisions taken by those who are determining the Federation’s fortunes - and in the long run on the attitude of the rank and file.
I think I deal with that statement properly when I say that the Minister is pointing out that the main provisions of this Bill, which we are asked to consider, may never be put into operation. How, in the light of that statement, can there be any excuse for speeding unduly the passage of this measure?
I point now to another statement of the Minister in the course of his second reading speech in another place. At page 9 of the document which he circulated, this statement appears -
Clearly, if we are to have an efficient waterfront, and if proper regard is to be had to the interests of waterside workers, some changes in present arrangements are necessary. Some may call for legislation. Some may call for discussions between all the <parties concerned, including the Government. Some may call for action before the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. We will turn our attention to the remaining long term problems - and they are many - when we have Mr. Woodward’s report.
We have been told that that report is likely to be available within three months but here we are, after this Government has been in power for 16 years, with a whole tribe of long term problems awaking attention in the various fields of this industry. A commissioner has been appointed to investigate those problems and to make a report. Again we are to have legislation. In those circumstances also I ask: Where is the need for haste? 1 now want to refer to a matter about which I think only two honorable senators in this chamber have any knowledge. They are the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) and myself. At the end of last week I approached the Minister and asked that if there were to be changes in the second reading speech to be delivered in this chamber I should have a copy in advance. Through the courtesy of the Minister that was arranged very late last evening. Some time after 10.30 o’clock I was supplied with a copy of his second reading speech. I have had my staff of two working on the speech during the day, with unavoidable absences in their work. It was only shortly before I entered this chamber that the result of their examination of the differences between the second reading speech of the Minister in another place and the speech to be read by the Minister representing him here was put into my hands. The Minister said quite recently that there was no reason why honorable senators should not inform themselves fully by reading the proceedings in another place - the second reading speech of the Minister for Labour and National Service explaining the matter, the Bill itself and if need be the proceedings - and be prepared to commence immediately the debate on the Bill in this place. I pointed out then that it was a slur upon this chamber to state such a proposition. I need not go into that again. I merely say, after scanning the two second reading speeches - the one in another place upon which we have based the presentation of our speeches and the one we are to hear delivered by the Minister - that it will be found that there are many omissions from the speech of the Minister in another place. Many new matters are introduced in the speech we are to hear. The Bill in major aspects is rearranged.
– The Bill is rearranged?
– I beg the Minister’s pardon; the second reading speech that he is to deliver has been rearranged. I submit that if any honorable senator cares to have before him, during the reading of the second reading speech of the Minister in this chamber, the second reading speech upon which he has prepared his own speech, he will not be able to appreciate the significance of the changes that have been made. He will finish in a state of confusion and the whole basis upon which he has prepared his speech will be disrupted.
Having outlined the circumstances which indicate there is truly no haste to discuss the Bill - a major portion of which is not to be implemented, perhaps ever - I ask why the Minister wishes to go ahead immediately with the debate. We will have a new second reading speech which will demand consideration afresh and which, for the Opposition, will open up new avenues of check and inquiry. I merely indicate that it is most unfair that we should be expected, after hearing the speech in its new form, to proceed immediate to debate the subject matter. It is wrong and unfair, and it is a reflection upon the Senate if it puts up with that type of procedure.
I rise at this time to voice a protest and to indicate that there is no need for haste. Secondly, I say that it would be proper and right for this debate to be adjourned until the day we return after the recess, in other words, until 20th October. If the Minister is not prepared to indicate that a reasonable time - and I mean a reasonable time to consider the speech in its new form - is not available, the Opposition will certainly vote against the proposition to suspend the Standing Orders to enable the Bill to be passed through all stages without delay.
There is an additional reason for granting an adjournment of the debate. A request for a postponement has been made to the Government by the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the body that controls the whole of the trade union movement in this country. This completely responsible body has made a temperate approach to the Government asking it to defer consideration of this measure pending a discussion on the many matters at issue in relation to the stevedoring industry; in other words, seeking a process of conciliation. That request has been rejected. There is no reason why it should not be revived and the consideration of the Bill adjourned until 20th October to enable representations to be made from that responsible body. When the Government hears those representations it might be induced to modify or postpone the utter novel type of legislation that is now before us. I hope that the Minister will express his willingness to meet the request that 1 make on behalf of the Opposition for reasonable time to consider the new position with which honorable senators on this side of the chamber will be faced in the course of the afternoon. If we do not gain an adjournment of the debate, I regret that we shall have no option but to oppose the motion.
.- 1 join with the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) in opposing the motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders. 1 am amazed that this position has arisen. The Opposition asked the Government last week to agree to the adjournment of the debate on such an important matter for a reasonable time and not to make this place a shambles. The Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Henty) said that the Bill had been introduced in another place at 8 p.m. on 23rd September and that the second reading speech of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) had been made immediately afterwards. Senator Henty said that members of the Senate who wanted to take an interest in the subject matter of the Bill had available to them the material presented in another place. If the position is as stated now - and I have no reason to doubt what Senator McKenna has said - I for one say that the Government is making a mockery of this Senate.
Honorable senators on this side have based their speeches on the case presented in the other place. I spent a considerable time during the weekend in preparing answers to the arguments, faked and false, submitted by the Minister in another place. If the Minister has now found out, as a result of the debate in that place, that his faked case and certain falsified figures have been discovered, and we are to be confronted with a new speech, the sooner this body goes out of existence the better. It is fantastic to place the Senate in such a position.
Quite apart from any alterations in the two second reading speeches, it is obvious from passages in the speech of the Minister in another place that the Bill has been introduced for reasons other than those which affect the waterfront. Everyone has some personal ambitions, but some have greater ambitions than others. If we are to give this legislation the proper consideration that it deserves, we should not have for study one speech given by the Minister in another place and a different speech given by the Minister representing him in this place. I protest most vigorously against the situation that confronts the Senate. The Government is only making a farce of this chamber. I am not worried about having to come back to Canberra this week in order to debate this Bill. It is our job to deal with legislation. However, on being brought back, we should not be confronted with a new set of arguments as to why this Bill should be passed within the next two or three days when everyone knows that there is no real urgency to do so. Even granting that the Government wants the Bill passed, is this fair and is it in the interests of this Senate or in the interests of the system of Government of which we are all so proud? I often wonder how many sins are committed in the name of democracy. Do honorable senators opposite, who profess to be liberal minded, support the change that we are informed has taken place? The Bill cannot be given the consideration that it ought to be given, if the second reading speech is immediately followed by debate.
.- in reply- First, I should like to make perfectly clear that the procedure proposed for the passage of the Bill, which is now being opposed by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), is the procedure normally proposed for the passage of bills through the Senate. It has been proposed for the passage of every bill through the Senate during the 15 years for which I have been a senator. Indeed, the abnormality about this matter, Mr. President, is the objection to the following of this normal procedure. I do not remember one other occasion - I do not believe that there has been one other occasion - in the last 15 years, on which such an objection has been taken by the Leader of the Opposition to the following of normal procedures. I remember many occasions on which the second reading speech on a Bill presented to this chamber has varied in diction or in some other way from the second reading speech which had been presented previously in another House. If required, 1 could give at least two examples of that.
So there is nothing odd about this procedure; it is the normal procedure. What is very odd is the objection which, almost uniquely, is taken to this normal procedure. The Leader of the Opposition suggests that, after all, there is really no need to pass this Bill now, because the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) has said that the provisions in it may not be applied. I suppose this is an argument for saying that the Bill docs not need to be passed at all. Clearly, what is required is a situation wherein the provisions of the Bill may be applied if there is a necessity to apply them; and they cannot be applied until this Bill has been passed. The passage of the Bill,of course, will not make it certain that they will be applied. After the Bill is passed, they may not be applied, but it will be possible to apply them if the Bill is passed and only if the Bill is passed. The argument that there is no necessity to pass it because the provisions may not be applied will not hold water.
The second point that I want to make is that the Bill that we are considering, which is to turn into law if it is passed by this House, has not been changed in the slightest particular from the Bill that was introduced into another place many days ago. There has been no change in verbiage, there has been no change in proposals, and there has been no change even insofar as a comma is concerned. The Bill, which I hope will become an Act and which is to be the subject, I hope, of proper deliberation by this House of the Parliament, is exactly the same Bill as that to which the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Kennelly) have had all these days to devote their attention.
There are some slight rearrangements in the second reading speech itself. There are differences in diction but there is no difference in the argument advanced as to what the Parliament should do. There is no difference in the proposal that the Parliament is asked to support. There is no difference in the reference to the actions which, I believe should be attacked and which have resulted in this Bill being necessary. There can be no genuine argument that because of some rearrangement there is a reason for not following what is normally the practice in this Senate in considering a Bill which has not varied from the corresponding Bill presented in another place. It is, as I have said, an oddity that on no other occasion when slight variations in second reading speeches have occurred has this argument ever been presented.
I think that the last argument advanced by the Leader of the Opposition is the one which genuinely led him to oppose my motion. That is the argument that somebody outside this chamber wanted this Bill not to be passed with the normal speed of parliamentary procedure. That isnot an argument, I believe, which should be considered by this Senate in the conduct of its normal business. It is not an argument that I would be prepared to accept. I therefore continue to press the motion that I originally moved.
Question put -
That the motion (Senator Gorton’s) be agreed to.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . . . 5
– There being 28 “ Ayes “ and 23 “ Noes “, the question is therefore resolved in the affirmative.
– I rise to a point of order. Is it not necessary, under Standing Order No. 448, that there should be an absolute majority of the total number of senators? The Standing Order reads -
In cases of urgent necessity, any Standing or Sessional Order or Orders of the Senate may be suspended on Motion, duly made and seconded, without Notice: Provided that such Motion is carried by an absolute majority of the total number of Senators.
– Order! As this was a contingent notice of motion, only a simple majority is required.
Bill (on motion by Senator Gorton) read a first time.
.- I move -
That the Bill bc now read a second time.
The Bill before the Senate, apart from the preliminary clauses 1 to 3, is divided into two main parts.
– I ask the Minister to wait until the roneoed copies of his speech have been distributed.
– I shall be happy to wait for a moment or two while the copies are distributed. I have no wish to be overhasty in this matter.
– We want to know what the Minister is reading.
– I trust, that by now the speech has been fairly widely distributed.
– What is the hurry?
– I am in no hurry. I am quite happy to wait while this additional rather unusual request for delay is being met. Now that the copies have been distributed, I shall proceed. Part II makes amendments to the existing Stevedoring Industry Act 1956-62. Part III enacts provisions relating to the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia. Both parts should be considered against the background of events in the stevedoring industry over many years past.
During the last 20 years no industry has received as much attention from governments, or been the subject of as much debate in Parliament, as has the stevedoring industry. We believe that this has been because of the domination by Communists of the Waterside Workers Federation. It is true that industrial relations in any industry are complex; it is certainly true of the stevedoring industry. But in this industry the dominant cause of bad labour relations, lost time, and damage to Australia’s economy is the domination by Communists in key positions of the policies and actions of the Federation, and the manner in which the Communists have used the Federation as an instrument of Communist Party policies.
This is not a situation which began under the present Government. As the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) will recall, the previous Government, a Labour Government, was faced with the same problem in 1949. It was forced to dismiss from the Stevedoring Industry Commission the then General Secretary of the Federation, Mr. Healy, and the then Assistant General Secretary, Mr. Roach. Both these men were Communists. Subsequent to 1949, the present Government has attempted on many occasions to find solutions to the industry’s problems. It has been patient, tolerant, and persistent in its efforts to find solutions and to arrive at agreements which would be accepted and kept. It has indeed, on occasions been criticised for being too patient and too tolerant. But through the years its objective has been consistent, and that objective has been to arrive at a situation on the waterfront which would ensure efficient operations, which would ensure that awards and agreements made would be kept and not broken, and which would encourage the Federation to act responsibly.
Whilst all trade unions in this country enjoy great rights and benefits, the Waterside Workers Federation enjoys rights and privileges, conferred on it by Parliament, which go beyond the rights and privileges conferred on other unions. Since the acceptance of any privilege implies the acceptance of a responsibility the community was entitled to expect that, accepting special privileges, the Waterside Workers Federation would exercise those privileges with a true sense of responsibility. But the record shows it has not. According to a comparison made by the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, which took the cargo handling rate betweenJuly 1st, 1963 and June 30th, 1964 and compared that rate with the average of the three years prior to June 30th 1963, items whose handling required 70 per cent. of the total man-hours worked showed a serious decline. Such increases in the remaining items as did take place occurred in almost every instance as a consequence of installation of new plant and equipment.
Over the last 10 years average net gang rates of work accomplished per hour have fallen as follows -
We do not believe it is a coincidence that this deterioration of production and throughput, which runs contrary to the performance of industry at large in this country, affects cargoes which are of critical importance to our overseas trade. In fact, we believe that these things occur because of the influence of the men who are dominant in shaping the Waterside Workers Federation’s policies.
At the Federal level of the Federation there are five full time officials. Of these five men, three - Mr. Docker, the Industrial Officer; Mr. Roach, the Assistant General Secretary; and Mr. Wallington, the Federal Organizer - are all open members of the Communist Party, and one of them, Mr. Docker, is a member of the Central Committee of the Party. In Sydney, the Branch Executive of the Federation is controlled by professed members of the Communist Party. In Melbourne, whilst the Branch Executive is not under the majority control of members of the Communist Party, nevertheless most of the other members have, so far, consistently acted in unity with the Communist members.
It is here that the key to the power of Communists in the Federation lies - in the three out of five full time Federal officials I have named; in the control of the Sydney Branch Executive; in the dominating influence in the Melbourne Branch Executive; and in the apparatus, part of which is the Job Delegates Association and the Vigilance Officers in Sydney and Melbourne, which these men and the Communist Party control.
It is the influence of these men which has led to the decline in throughput which I have mentioned and to the stoppages which I will come to in a moment. This decline and the stoppages result in their turn in consequences which are against the interests of Australia and of Australians, resulting as they do in costs higher than necessary being loaded on to Australian products competing abroad; in higher costs than are necessary being paid by Australian industry for raw materials or machinery imported for use in Australia; in lower returns than would otherwise be received accruing to our primary producers; in higher prices which must be paid in every Australian household; and in greater difficulty for a country which is engaging in an export drive and seeking to improve its balance of payments position. We believe that the controllers of the Federation know this all too well. It is in keeping with their disruptive policies. That is why they have deliberately organised go-slows and stoppages. We believe this must be prevented.
I now turn to the record of stoppages. But, before setting it forth, I would like to put it to the Senate that this record cannot be validly excused on the grounds that the industry is a depressed industry or that its industrial conditions are bad. It is not possible validly to argue that the Commission, or the Arbitration Court before it, have been niggardly in their treatment of waterside workers. Since 1935, the margins of fitters, who are highly skilled tradesmen, have risen by 315 per cent. Over the same period the margins of waterside workers, who are at most semi-skilled, have risen by 1200 per cent. The average weekly earnings of waterside workers throughout Australia, during the financial year 1964-65, averaged £27 14s. 5d. for an average of 31.4 hours’ work in a week. This average is 33s. a week more than the average weekly earnings of employees of Australian industry in general, as published by the Commonwealth Statistician for the March quarter of 1965.
Yet time lost by waterside workers over the last 10 years ending on June 30th 1965, accounted for 21 per cent, of all time lost by all workers in all industries in Australia, and the 21 per cent, of total time lost was lost by workers who constituted decidedly less than 1 per cent, of the work force. Although comprising less than onehundredth of the work force, the waterside workers lost more than one-fifth of all the time lost by all stoppages throughout Australia. Put in another way, Australian workers in all industries lost an average of less than 2 hours per year per man because of time lost through disputes and stoppages; the waterside workers lost an average of 55 hours per year per man.
Waterside stoppages have occurred in defiance of waterside workers’ awards. Indeed, there have been repeated refusals even to use, let alone to abide by the results of using, the Industrial Relations committees machinery for the settling of disputes - the very machinery which was set up at the request of the Federation in 1963, endorsed by the membership of the Federation in every port, and agreed to by the Australian Council of Trade Unions. Other stoppages with political motivation - in keeping with Communist Party policies, as for example over Vietnam - have become commonplace. Most stoppages have occurred in Sydney and Melbourne, the two ports where the Communist Party is most strongly entrenched. Indeed, over the five years to June 1965 these two ports lost, on the average, two-thirds of all time lost in all ports. In July and August this year they lost threequarters of the time lost in all ports.
Over the last 15 years the pattern of stoppages called could almost be graphed. The recurring pattern has been first, a crescendo of stoppages designed to force concessions from employers or to bring pressure on the arbitration tribunals; some concession granted; a brief period of relative calm; and the process all over again. As an illustration, let us examine the latest cycle, beginning in 1963. There was, first disruption on the waterfront extending over several months, following which the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) called a national conference of all parties, at the request of the A.C.T.U., to consider the industry’s problems.
At this conference it was unanimously recommended - the Waterside Workers Federation representatives included - that legislation should be introduced to suspend the then existing provisions dealing with penalties for port stoppages. It was also unanimously agreed that Industrial Relations Committees should be set up in all ports and that these Committees would be used to conciliate threatening disputes and to avoid stoppages, in the event that a dispute did occur, while that dispute was being settled. These unanimous conclusions were ratified by stop-work meetings of all branches of the Federation. Yet the agreements reached were quickly broken; the Sydney and Melbourne Branches showed that they were not prepared even to give the Committees a chance to work. Stoppages quickly built up again.
The in 1964 the Federation revived claims for a non-contributory pension and a mechanisation fund, and early in 1965 began to hold stoppages to force acceptance of its claims. At this point, Mr. Justice Gallagher suggested that the parties - employers and employees - might confer and consider both the claims of the Federation and matters which the employers wished to discuss. In fact, those matters included proposals for a scheme of permanent employment on the waterfront. These conferences began with the understanding that during the conferences stoppages would cease. In fact, the conferences went on for some weeks. But the stoppages did not cease.
The Federation’s representatives refused to discuss the matter, put forward by the employers, of permanent employment on the waterfront. They said the Federal Council of the Federation had directed that they were not to discuss this or any other matter raised by the employers until after the Federation’s two claims had been answered. Following this, the judge offered to have the Commission consider the Federation’s claims; but the offer was rejected by the waterside workers who decided instead to adopt proposals for direct action and non co-operation with employers. Then followed a spate of stoppages in Sydney. ostensibly over gang sizes. I say “ ostensibly “ because a few weeks later, when the Federation announced its programme for direct action, no reference at all was made to gang sizes. Yet they had been the excuse for action which led to the loss of nearly 150,000 man-hours in Sydney.
The programme, as announced on 30th July 1965. mads a series of demands - pensions, mechanisation fund and other industrial claims. But item No. 1 was nationalisation of the stevedoring industry. The same day, Mr. Docker, for the Federation, told Mr. Justice Gallagher that the Waterside Workers Federation did not propose to bring its claims before the Commission; that it had a complete lack of confidence that its claims would succeed before the Commission; that it would determine what action to take to secure acceptance of its demands; and that, even if its industrial claims were granted, frequent disputes could still be expected until the industry was nationalised.
On 4th August, stop-work meetings in all ports decided on regular fortnightly stoppages. That day, Mr. Docker was reported as saying -
There is no future in the Arbitration Commission as far as wages are concerned. Anyone who suggests we should arbitrate is either a fool or is misleading the workers. We are fighting the Government on these matters.
The second fortnightly stoppage took place on 18th August. Meanwhile, on 13th August, the Federation, despite what it had to say about the arbitration system a few days earlier, sought before Mr. Justice Gallagher the extension to the Waterside Workers’ Award of the Commission’s lt per cent, margins decision. The judge asked for an undertaking that the fortnightly stoppages would be abandoned and that there would be “ reasonable continuity of work “. Mr. Docker said that no such undertaking could be given. First he said that further mass meetings of members would be necessary. Later he said that other conditions would have to be fulfilled and even then there could be no complete assurance about stoppages. One week later, the judge again asked for an assurance that direct action had been abandoned. Again Mr. Docker said he was not in a position to give it. Yet seven days later, in blatant disregard of everything he had said earlier, Mr. Docker told the same judge that the fortnightly 24- hour stoppages would not proceed. How can you do business with people like this?
My colleague has given the reasons for the Federation’s climb-down. They stand undisputed. The Communists and others in the Federation and at party headquarters became apprehensive about the Government’s intentions. A number of the branch executives and many of the rank and file showed they were fed up. The Federation put itself out on a limb so far as the A.C.T.U. was concerned. It is a matter of common knowledge that the Federation sought A.C.T.U. support. The Interstate Executive stated that the Federation had broken A.C.T.U. rules. This is the way, under Communist domination, that the Federation works. It makes agreements and dishonours them. It defies the arbitration system except when it suits its purposes. It breaks the rules of the trade union movement and then, when in difficulties, seeks the support of the trade union movement. To date, the Federation has not changed its strategy; it has merely changed its tactics. It has not renounced its direct action programme. It has not called off its campaign of non co-operation with the employers. It has not submitted its claims to arbitration. It has merely decided to bide its time.
This, in brief, is the background against which the Bill now before the Senate has to be considered. Except as concerns a few matters - I will make clear why we had to deal with these now - this Bill does not deal with the many long term problems of the industry. These long term problems cannot be solved overnight. Nor are they all attributable to the Federation. In fact, it was to get a thorough investigation of the long term problems by an independent observer that the Minister appointed Mr. Woodward as a result of which he was abused by the Federation which refused to co-operate in Mr. Woodward’s inquiry. Despite this the inquiry will continue. But, clearly, if we are to have an efficient waterfront, and if proper regard is to be had to the interests of waterside workers, some changes in existing arrangements are necessary.
These changes are not all in the field of labour-management relations and the Government has already turned its attention to some of them. It has already contributed to the improvement of coal ports.
The Australian National Line has contributed with new types of ships and methods of cargo carriage. The Department of Trade and Industry has been, and is, working on the problem of rationalising overseas shipping services. But the value of measures of this sort, now and in the future, will be nullified without the sensible support and co-operation of the Federation.
Let me now examine the main changes made by the Bill. By clauses 6 and 7 the power to recruit waterside workers will, in future, be removed from the Waterside Workers Federation and be vested in the A.S.I.A. The Federation was first given the monopoly of recruitment, by statute, in 1947. The Statutory Authority, from which the then Labour Government dismissed Messrs. Healy and Roach in 1949, had the power to fix quotas. When it fixed the quota the Federation was to provide the required labour. The 1949 Stevedoring Industry Act continued this practice. But in no time the Statutory Authority was referring to the Federation’s failure to honour its recruitment obligation and to frustrating delays in bringing the quotas up to strength.
In mid 1951 things were so bad the Government decided to prepare amending legislation. However, after discussions with the A.C.T.U. and the Federation its introduction was deferred. By 1954 the situation had worsened and reached such a state that legislation was introduced. But it never became effective because in February 1955 the employers and the Federation agreed on a procedure to be followed pending the report of the Tait Committee of Inquiry. The Tait Committee reported that the Federation on occasions impeded, and on occasions delayed, the filling of the quotas and even the raising of strengths to levels short of quotas. The 1956 Act, giving effect to the Committee’s views in its report, left primary responsibility for recruitment with the Federation - the Authority was authorised to recruit after a series of conditions were fulfilled - after the Federation was given a further chance.
Except in Sydney in 1960, when the same problems emerged, no extensive recruiting was needed for a few years. Since 1963, however, the Federation has been back at its old tactics of making attempts to induce the Authority to reconsider its decisions as to quotas and using delaying tactics in supply ing men. It opposed proposals that there should be continuous recruitment to keep the labour strength at the quota level; and this in an industry in which the wages and conditions are highly attractive to labour, for it must never be forgotten that large numbers of men want to work on the waterfront. As one illustration only, when the Authority sought 600 men in Sydney early last year over 14,000 applications were distributed by the Federation. Nor was this abnormal. The Federation has been deluged with applications when it has called for recruits - this at a time when virtually every other industry in the country has been clamouring for labour and not getting it. This is the pragmatic answer to the Federation’s claims that waterside workers are badly off.
Bad as these frustrating and delaying tactics of the Federation have been, recently some very disturbing suggestions came to our ears. They were suggestions that, in some ports, the names of men sponsored by waterside workers known to be critical of branch executives were not submitted to the Authority, and that the names of men with records of assault, thieving, and receiving were being submitted by some branches. It has not been possible to investigate all of these suggestions but some enquiries could be, and were, made.
I shall not repeat all the details my colleague has already given. Suffice to say that one-quarter of the names submitted recently to the Authority by the Melbourne Branch Executive were the names of men with criminal records. A group of names submitted by the Sydney Branch Executive included nearly one-fifth of men with like records. In the last few weeks at Port Kembla roughly one-eighth of the men submitted had criminal records. There were, among these, men with long lists of convictions, up to the present time, of assault with violence, larceny, thieving, and receiving; and this in an industry where pillaging is a problem. Some of the men submitted were actually facing criminal charges when nominated by the Federation. No-one can possibly condone this sort of action. No-one on the Opposition benches in another place attempted to do so. No decent person in our community could do other than condemn it.
What has been happening in Sydney, Melbourne and Port Kembla can scarcely be a coincidence. It is just not true that onequarter of our citizens have criminal records. Nor do I believe it is true of men seeking to become waterside workers. This is borne out by another check that has been made. In one port where the Communists are not in control only 5 per cent, of well over 300 men submitted had records, and those with serious records could be counted on the fingers of one hand.
I need say no more. The Federation has had opportunity after opportunity to behave responsibly, lt has been granted unusual privileges by the Parliament but it has betrayed its trust, not only to this Parliament but also to the Australian people.
From now on recruitment will be in the hands of the Statutory Authority, a body which, I point out to honorable senators, includes one member from the trade union movement. That Authority will be responsible for recruiting men to fill port quotas. As regards criminal records, it will not adopt the attitude that simply because a man has a criminal record it will not register him. It will have regard to the nature and character of that record. That will be the test which will guide the Authority in future.
By clause 10, machinery is provided for the conduct of disciplinary inquiries by the Authority under section 36 of the Act in relation to suspensions and deregistrations. This amendment has also been forced on us by the tactics of the Federation. We have had case after case of disciplinary inquiries being prolonged with no other purpose than to frustrate proceedings and hold up work. Clause 10 pays full regard to the principles of natural justice but it will enable the Authority in future to conduct inquiries without being frustrated by deliberate delaying tactics by the Federation.
Clause 11 of the Bill deals with two points. First, it restricts the right of appeal to the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to decisions by the Authority to deregister or to suspend men for more than seven days. Secondly, it describes specifically the nature of appeal proceedings for the future. Under the present arrangements, appeals have been treated as being by way of rehearing. In effect the Authority, when it holds an inquiry is, as it were, a judge of the situation. Then on appeal to the Commission it finds itself the defender of its own decision and prosecutor as well. This is an intolerable position. In future, appeals will, in fact, be appeals. The appellant will be required to show that the Authority’s decision was not justified or was too severe.
Clause 8 of the Bill is designed to ensure that the labour available is used to best advantage. Under this clause, employers must ensure that their stevedoring operations are at all times properly supervised, and the penalty will be increased to range from £250 to £2,500. There have been cases of employers failing to use waterside labour effectively. The standard of supervision in this industry is far below what is needed. Not nearly enough attention has been paid to the selection and training of supervisors. The clause points up the Government’s desire that employers be more attentive to supervision and efficient stevedoring.
I now come to Part III of the Bill. This contains the provisions about deregistration. 1 have heard these provisions described as a threat to trade union rights. Nothing could be further from the truth. This Bill is not directed at trade union rights. It is directed at - indeed it is a consequence of - the actions of one union, the Federation, in deliberately abusing and prostituting its rights. This union has broken the rules of the trade union movement, has committed itself to a policy of direct action, and has decided on a policy of non co-operation with employers. It has renounced none of this. Responsible for this are the Communist controllers of the Federation. They are the guilty men. They cannot be dealt with directly by legislation merely on the grounds that they are Communists. They know that only too well. That is one reason why Part III must focus attention on the Federation.
Part III takes its form from these considerations. It has been a feature of our Conciliation and Arbitration Act since 1904 that just as unions can gain the advantages of that Act by registering, so they can lose these advantages by deregistration. No-one challenges the principle of deregistration. But let us assume the Federation were deregistered under that Act; it would still be left with all the powers conferred on it by the Stevedoring Industry Act. Unless the Federation were deprived of these, deregistration would mean little. So special legislation is needed to deal with this. Next, because this Parliament has conferred special rights and privileges on the Federation, and because this Parliament has legislated extensively in relation to this industry which is of critical importance to our whole economy, it is right that the Parliament should consider and make special provision for the circumstances in which the Federation should lose those rights and for consequential action. Fourthly, no steps leading to deregistration and loss of the Federation’s rights under the Stevedoring Industry Act should be taken unless a properly constituted tribunal, after proper judicial investigation, finds that the circumstances warrant those steps. Fifthly, the long-standing principle of a discretion, on the question whether the ultimate step of deregistration should be taken, should be preserved. Lastly, only such special provisions should be introduced as are absolutely necessary to deal with the particular problems which this particular situation poses.
Now let me show how these points, which no-one could object to, have been taken into account. Clauses 16 and 17 authorise the Minister to ask the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in presidential session to determine the question whether the conduct of the Federation has been such as to justify deregistration. The facts which clause 16 requires the Commission to take into account are primarily those which are taken into account in deregistration proceedings under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. It is open to the Commission to make or refuse to make a declaration under clause 16. I emphasise that only the Commonwealth can have resort to clause 16. Naturally, the Commonwealth would not move unless it were satisfied there were circumstances that thoroughly justified it. Whether these circumstances will ever arise rests with the Federation.
Even if the Commission does make a declaration it still does not necessarily follow that the final and ultimate step for which clause 18 provides has to be taken. The clause provides that where the Commission has made a declaration the Governor-General may within six months - and I underline the discretion - by proclamation declare cause 18 operative. The consequences of such a proclamation are set out in clauses 18, 19 and 20. They include cancellation of the Federation’s regis tration, loss of all its rights and privileges under the Stevedoring Industry Act, and loss of right to represent its members. Awards existing at the time, as they apply to waterside workers, would also cease to have effect. However, under clause 19 the terms and conditions of employment of registered waterside workers, operative at the time of deregistration, would continue in force subject to amendments for the making of which there is provision in the clause.
Clause 21 has attracted some very odd criticism. The motives behind it have been questioned. What is there to complain about? If a union is deregistered its members are not going to remain passive and unorganised. We have seen what happens when unions have been deregistered before. When the Building Workers Industrial Union was deregistered, the Carpenters and Joiners Society stepped in. When the Federated Engine Drivers and Firemen’s Association of Australasia was deregistered, the Ironworkers Federation stepped in. Does anyone imagine for a moment that in our ports - there are 6,000 or 7,000 men in the big ports - the men would not join a union or form one and seek to have it registered under the arbitration system to protect their interests? And, when the men did this, it would be necessary to have a legal basis for giving their union the powers and rights under the Stevedoring Industry Act which the Federation now possesses. Clause 21 merely allows for the identification of the union which is to have the powers and rights under the Stevedoring Industry Act. As well, as is well-known, the process of getting registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act can be lengthy. Clause 21 enables this process to be speeded up, but no union can be registered unless it complies with the conditions prescribed under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. In short, clause 21 is no more than a facilitating provision.
Mr. President, I cannot too strongly emphasise that the whole of Part III does not have immediate or automatic operation. Whether the circumstances will ever arise which demand resort to Part III depends entirely on the Federation - or, more properly, on the decisions taken by those who determine the Federation’s fortunes - and in the long run on the attitude of the rank and file. No-one questions that the majority of waterside workers, including many in executive positions in some of the branches, are good trade unionists and good Australians. Unhappily, for far too long, they have allowed themselves to be manipulated by a small clique who are out to destroy both the arbitration system and trade unionism as we know it. There will be few in this Senate who do not hope that those who are opposed to Communism will, even at thislate stage, recognise the jeopardy in which the Communists have placed the Federation and will rally to cut out the cancer and put the Federation back in good standing with the community. I commend this Bill to the Senate.
Motion (by SenatorMcKenna) put -
That the debate be now adjourned.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Sitting suspended from 5.19 to 8 p.m.
– Mr. President, the Opposition has made its protest against being obliged to proceed with this Bill at such very short notice. The Senate has ruled against our proposal that the debate be adjourned still further. I now address myself to the Stevedoring Industry Bill.
Since the Government took office at the end of 1949 it has passed six Bills dealing with the stevedoring industry, each one of them making alterations, and very substantial additions, to the Stevedoring Industry Act. We had Bills presented in 1954, 1956, 1957, 1961, 1962 and 1963, so that this Bill is the seventh in a long series. To indicate the pattern of the Government’s performance I shall take the last three of the Bills to which I have referred. The Bill of 1961 brought in what should have been a very great benefit to waterside workers. It was designed to grant long service leave. The Government was forced into the position of granting this benefit by action that had been taken in Tasmania and was about to be taken in another State. It was not a willing provider of this very great benefit and it befouled the whole thing by attaching to the grant additional penalties, dual penalties, providing not only for suspension of attendance money payment for particular offences under the Act but also for losses of periods of service in calculatinglong service leave. The waterside workers were so very incensed about the grant of the benefit under such conditions that they preferred to oppose the whole Bill than to accept it in those circumstances.
Another aspect of the introduction of that measure indicated a complete lack of understanding of the stevedoring industry by the Government. When the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) introduced the Bill he loaded his second reading speech with insults to the Federation and its officers. I dealt at length with those in the speech that I made on the Bill on 16th May 1961. I then detailed the insults and the objurgations that were hurled at the waterside workers by the Minister. I do not propose to traverse them further at this stage. I simply indicate where my commentary on them may be found.
In 1962 the Government beat a retreat. It acknowledged that there were numerous anomalies in the Act which granted long service leave, and it proceeded to correct them. It removed the provision for reduction, on account of an offence, of up to 30 days of the qualifying period for long service leave, and generally it made the most extensive alterations to the provisions covering this benefit and put them in far more acceptable form. Then in 1963 it suspended - it did not repeal - the operation of section 52A which it had inserted in the legislation in 1961. The provision still remains on the statute book, but its operation has been suspended.
What I have given to the Senate is a history of a brash and rash approach in recent years to the stevedoring industry, followed by a gradual and unwilling retreat under pressure of the facts and the truth. Instead of building goodwill with the waterside workers the Government, with its history of these approaches and reluctant retreats, has done more, almost, than the stevedoring employers to make for bad industrial relations on the waterfront.
In the second reading speech of the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) it was claimed that the Government has been patient and tolerant. The very little that I have said already shows that the Government has been the reverse and that it has precipitated a great deal of bad relations on the waterfront with the approaches it has been making. It was neither tolerant nor patient in those approaches and it is exhibiting the same intolerance and the same lack of patience when it makes the approach that it does in this Bill.
The Bill before us, breaking as it does both legal and industrial principles, is the crown on the edifice of failure - failure to solve the problems of the stevedoring industry - erected by this Government down the past 16 years. Today the waterfront is in little better condition than it was 16 years ago, if at all better. There are the same inadequacies in ports, the same inefficiency in management, the same inefficiency in supervision from the managerial side. There are bad industrial relations on the waterfront, there is inadequate equipment and we have a multiplicity of authorities controlling this vast industry which is of the utmost importance to everybody in Australia, to the economy, to our balance of payments position and generally. This is a situation for which the Government must take a very great share of responsibility. The waterfront is not in a good situation and the Government has acted in fits and starts, approaching and retreating throughout the whole period of its term of office. This has conduced to a great deal of the unrest and the unhappy condition on the waterfront.
During this period there have been quite a number of inquiries. We had the Basten Report in 1952, and later the two reports of the Tait Committee - an interim report in 1956 and a final comprehensive report in 1957. A further inquiry is now in progress and a report will be prepared and presented to the Government by Mr. Woodward, who has been conducting this inquiry. In passing I make the comment that this Government appears to be allergic to reports; they seem to get very little consideration from it. I hope that the Woodward Committee will make recommendations going to the root of the trouble on the waterfront. One of the things it may do is to advise against the kin.d of action and approach that is contemplated in this Bill. How absurd the Government will look should this be the case, as it well may. I believe Mr. Woodward will address himself to his task with ability and impartiality, and if he does he may well advise against the kind of action that the Government now proposes to take.
Let me just refer to the treatment that various reports have received in recent years. The Government took years to act on some of the recommendations that it received from its committee on taxation. It has taken no action whatever on the reports of the Constitutional Review Committee which it has had for seven years. I doubt that it has even read them. It has announced no decision upon them although there has been a suggestion of a referendum to break the nexus between this chamber and the other place in the matter of representation.
Then I refer to the report of the select committee of the Senate on broadcasting and television, which was brought into the Senate on 29th October 1963. Debate on it was interrupted in this place on 14th April last. No Minister has ever addressed himself to the report. The motion relating to it, and the amendment that has been moved to the motion, still stand on the notice paper. They have stood there for 18 months without consideration and without any indication from the Government or any member of it as to the official view of the important recommendations which were made by that Committee and which go right into the lives of the people in almost every home in this country. Those recommendations could have a tremendous social effect, yet the motion lies idly on the notice paper. One cannot see that the Woodward report, when in due course it is available, will have any better fate. But at the same time we can hope. If that report is to come through within the next three months, as I understand it will, I suggest that the Government would have been wise to await its receipt and then, in a calmer atmosphere, move again to an approach to the troubles on the waterfront.
I propose to follow the course which has been taken by the Minister for Works in this place and by the Minister for Labour and National Service in another place in introducing the Bill. They proceeded to deal with the Bill clause by clause, with one or two exceptions upon which I will comment. I intend to fashion my course this evening in that way. The first three clauses are purely formal. Clause 4 contains a new definition of stevedoring operations. The definition is quite clear, but I hope the Minister will indicate why a change is to be made of the interpretation in the present Act. Clause 5 is relatively formal.
Then I come to clause 6, the purpose of which is to deal with recruitment of labour on the waterfront. There seems to be a great deal of misunderstanding in the community about what happens in this regard. It is believed that the Waterside Workers Federation selects men for registration. Under section 31 (1.) of the Stevedoring Industry Act, the Federation does no more than nominate people for registration by the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority. It does not appoint them; it nominates them. Then, under section 29 (3.), the Authority is obliged “to give the employers an opportunity to object to the registration of any of the people who have been nominated. The Stevedoring Industry Authority is the body that makes the final determination as to whether or not a particular person nominated is registered. In that sequence of events, the Authority is the final and determining factor after, in effect, hearing the Waterside Workers Federation and the organisation of employers.
I understand that neither the Federation nor the Authority in the forms which applicants are required to fill in ever sought to know their antecedents in connection with crimes. That matter has been taken up only now. Accordingly, everybody in that triumvirate had an obligation in the matter. It did not rest entirely upon the Federation nor upon the employers nor upon the Authority, although the Authority had the final responsibility of determining who should or should not be registered. I would like that point to be appreciated. Further, the present Act provides that the Authority shall have regard to the suitability of applicants. That is a wide enough provision to impose upon the Authority the obligation to say whether applicants have the types of conviction that might disentitle them to employment on the waterfront, where literally thousands of millions of pounds worth of goods are handled each year. I find in clause 6 a provision which deals specifically with criminal offences. Having regard to what I have said in relation to responsibility in this matter, I say, first, that it is unnecessary to include a provision specifically dealing with criminal offences because the matter is already covered in the Stevedoring Industry Act. The obligation rests upon the Authority.
Let me advert to the difficulty in this connection from the viewpoint of the Federation. The Minister in his second reading speech indicated that 14,000 applications were received by the Federation for 600 vacancies which existed in Sydney quite recently. How is it possible for the Federation, without having a colossal staff and a great deal of time, to screen everyone of those applications to ascertain whether or not any applicant has been involved in crime, serious or otherwise? Of the three bodies concerned in that type of selection, only the Stevedoring Industry Authority had the authority, through the Commonwealth police and the local police, to get information as to whether any of these persons had committed crimes. Does anybody expect that the whole weight of responsibility in the matter should be thrown upon the Federation? It is the least well equipped of the three bodies concerned to tackle the task of -sifting 14,000 applications in a hurry and coming up with the right answers. I invite the Senate to have regard to those considerations.
I point out, too, that clause 6, coupled with clause 7, takes away from the Federation the right to nominate people for registration. That right has existed since .1947. I am indifferent as to whether it is called a right or a privilege, but that is the situation that has existed for all those years. It is an unusual right. I do not think that any other trade union possesses a similar right today. The fact is that the Federation has enjoyed that special right or privilege throughout that period, and now it is to be taken away because of what is alleged to have happened on the part of one or two branches of the Federation. It is said that an undue percentage of criminals is being nominated for registration. There is the severest kind of conflict between the Government and the Federation as to what the truth is and as to what the facts are. We have been told that of 990 applicants who were submitted for registration in Melbourne, 260 had criminal records. The Federation on the other hand, says that out of a_ total of 1,000 applicants submitted for registration at about that time, there were fewer than 64 with criminal records. The Federation cannot give the exact number because other things were bracketed under that heading. People with criminal records that would disentitle them to employment on the waterfront were bracketed with people who were in another undefined category. But the Federation’s attitude is that there were fewer than 64 applicants with criminal records.
If the Senate is asked to decide which of the two contending arguments is correct, which of us is in a position to pass judgment with certainty? How can we pass judgment? The Government has declined to give particulars of the 260 applicants who it says had criminal records. Of course, one can understand that names should not be disclosed, but I ask the Senate: Is there any reason why the Government should not, under mere numbers, indicate what the offences were? Would not that be a reasonable thing to do, to allow the allegations to be thoroughly sifted, because without some information of that kind it is impossible to reach a just conclusion.
– It makes one suspicious of the argument.
– It does. All I say to the honorable senator is that here is an argument on the facts between a body like the Federation and the Government. We in the Senate, and the community too, are very interested in this and are entitled to know where the truth lies. It is in the hands of the Government, and the Government only, to let the matter be examined properly and decided; then we will see the bona fides of its grounds for this type of action. I do not want to say any more upon that particular aspect. At the moment I am not concerned with clauses 8 and 9. Clause 10 is the provision that has induced the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Federation to talk about the lack of natura] justice in the presentation of this Bill. Section 36 of the Stevedoring Industry Act defines the various offences, and it authorises the Authority to cancel the registration of a waterside worker, to suspend his registration for an indefinite period or to suspend his entitlement to attendance money if he is found guilty of any of the offences which are particularised at considerable length. They are serious matters that go to determine whether a man is to be free to continue in the employment of his choice, whether he is to be stood down for an indefinite time or whether he is to have his entitlement to attendance money suspended. The relevant section in the principal Act states that where, after such inquiry as it thinks fit, the Authority is satisfied that one of the offences has been committed, it may proceed to punish the waterside worker by one of the three means I have just indicated.
Clause 10 of the Bill inserts a new section 36a. in the Act. It relates to the inquiry that the Authortiy may undertake to determine whether any one of these offences has been committed and it provides that -
The procedure in relation to an inquiry is within the discretion of the Authority.
It states further -
In making an inquiry the Authority is not bound to act in a formal manner but may inform itself on any matter in such manner as it thinks just.
I invite the Senate to note particularly the words “ as it thinks just “. It does not say, as one would expect it to say, “ us is just “. If those words were included in the provision the behaviour of the Authority in these matters affecting the employment and future of men would be subject to a review by the courts. Once the Authority determines that the method selected by it is just, the matter is concluded, according to the legislature if we pass this measure. Sub-sect,on (4.) of the proposed new section gives to the Authority the power to determine whether a person charged with one of these offences may make a statement and whether it shall be oral or in writing. It is not for the man to determine that. His one opportunity is to make up his mind to do whatever the Authority requires. This sub-section includes the words - but the Authority may require any such statement to be submitted in writing.
Under this sub-section the Authority is required to give to the person directly concerned the opportunity of presenting to the Authority a statement of any facts and contentions material to the inquiry, but the Authority may require any such statement to be submitted in writing. I have always regarded it as one of the first principles of natural justice that a person accused of any offence should be given a hearing, should be entitled to face his accusers and crossexamine them, and should be heard in defence as he decides, not as somebody else decides for him as is provided in this Bill. There is no provision in the Bill for his attendance so that he may hear the case against him. He may be confined by the body that is to adjudicate upon his case to the submission of something in writing. He can be delimited to time as to how he does that.
In sub-section (7.) we come to a really bright provision. It provides that where - . . a substantial number of waterside workers is concerned the Authority may, if it considers that by so doing it will become apprised of all the facts and contentions material to the interests of those waterside workers in relation to the inquiry, give an opportunity of presenting statements as to those facts and contentions to some only of those water side workers, being persons whose statements would, in the opinion of the Authority, present all those facts and contentions.
If a substantial number of waterside workers are involved, the Authority sets up an inquiry under section 36 and it determines who among the persons who are put in jeopardy may present the case for everybody. The sub-section does not authorise those who are in trouble to get together and select spokesmen. That would be bad enough, but it would be infinitely better than this provision that enables the Authority to select the spokesmen for the substantial body of waterside workers. I submit to the Senate that that is not in accordance with the principles of natural justice. Sub-section (9.) provides that in all those circumstances I have mentioned the Authority cannot cancel the registration of a waterside worker - that is, throw the man right out of the waterfront - unless it has given him an opportunity, not of being heard, but of presenting an oral or written statement. As long as he does that the Authority has power to throw him right out of the industry of his choice. However, it does not have to let him present a case. If what it proposes to do to him is to suspend his registration, no matter for how long, or to suspend his entitlement to attendance money, it does not have to give him the opportunity to present his case at all if he is one of a substantial number who are dealt with under the sub-section to which I have immediately referred.
I consider the whole of that provision most offensive. After all, the principles of natural justice are not set up for the convenience of authorities but for the protection of the individual human being, and the mere fact that there may be a great number involved does not justify the discarding of it in favour of any one of them. Here is the type of thing that in my view is most offensive - setting up an authority which can conduct its proceedings as it thinks just; which determines procedure; which can say to a person accused: “ You can submit a statement in writing only; we do not want to hear you “; and which, when a number of people are involved, has the authority to pick the spokesmen for them and then may proceed to dispose of them as it thinks fit, except in respect of one thing only, the absolute cancellation of registration, without even getting a statement, oral or written, from them. Surely
I have only to state that proposition to enable anyone with anything approaching a judicial mind to see that these are not proper and fair provisions.
– The honorable senator did not refer to sub-section (10.) of proposed new section 36a.
– I did. I will read it so that Senator Morris may know how it fits in with what I have said. It reads -
The Authority is not authorised to suspend, after an inquiry, the registration, or the entitlement to attendance money, of a waterside worker unless -
the Authority exercised its powers under sub-section (7.) of this section in relation to the inquiry.
– I am coming to paragraph (a). It reads -
That applies only in the situation where a few individuals are concerned. Even then they cannot exercise the right as to whether their statement is oral or written. They must follow the dictates of the Authority in that matter.
– An appellant to the Supreme Court of the United States must submit his case in writing. He is allowed only half an hour of oral argument.
– But those cases are prepared by barristers and supported by affidavits. They are, in fact, evidentiary documents. They are in an entirely different category to the type of thing we have here, where people may be dealt with en masse. What is being infringed by this Bill are the rights of individuals to their employment. But this is not the end of the story about these inquiries and these actions, because the Government, quite logically having regard to its outlook - one might expect this - proceeds to deal with appeals from the decision of the Authority. Today there is an appeal from any of these decisions to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. It has been the practice to conduct those appeals by a rehearing - that is, starting all over again.
Let us look at the changes that are. made. There is to be no appeal from a suspension of registration where that suspension is for seven days or less. There is to be no appeal from the suspension of entitlement to attendance money as long as the suspension is in respect of seven days or less. In other words, there are to be fewer appeals. Most naively, the Minister confided to us how many appeals there were in 1964. He said that in 1964 there were 13 appeals under the Act. Six succeeded; the others failed. Evidently he now claims that those appeals were an embarrassment. The Government wants to reduce still further the possibility of appeals so that anybody suspended for seven days or debarred from attendance money for seven days shall not be in the field. What is the justification for that type of action other than a mind that is set to invoke rigorous and drastic action on waterside workers? What can be the reason for denying appeals in those cases? What a small thing to do when for the whole year there were only 13 appeals. But how important that right of appeal is to a man labouring under a sense of injustice. Tonight we are asked to uphold this type of thing.
I indicated a moment ago that under the Act as it stands the appeal to the Commission was conducted as a rehearing. The case against the individual had to be put again. He in turn was given an opportunity to put a case. Let us look at the changes contained in clause 11. Clause 11 amends section 37 (2.) by inserting in its stead the following new sub-section - (2.) Upon such an appeal -
The emphasis is on the words “ satisfies the Commission “ - that the cancellation or suspension should be set aside or varied - the Commission shall set aside or vary the cancellation or suspension accordingly . . .
In other words, the Government is shifting from the Authority the onus of upholding the case against the waterside worker and is requiring the waterside worker to satisfy the Commission that the conviction was wrong. The onus of proof is completely shifted from the Authority to the appellant. This clause completely reverses what has been the practice down the years. We of the Opposition say that this is not only intolerable but also unthinkable.
I pass to clause 12 of the Bill. This is a rather extraordinary clause. I do not profess quite to understand it. There must have been some difficulty at the ministerial level, because the Ministers who addressed themselves to this matter did not attempt to explain the clause. It provides that a reference in sections 39, 40 or 41 of the Act shall not include a reference to interstate operations. Accordingly the operations of those three sections will be confined to stevedoring in relation to overseas trade or stevedoring in relation to trade between a State and a Territory or in a Territory, but not stevedoring in relation to intrastate trade; and now, according to this Bill, for the first time, not stevedoring in relation to interstate trade. I do not think it is worth while, at this stage, to go into sections 39, 40 and 41, but I invite Senator Gorton to give to the Senate the fullest explanation of the provision contained in clause 12 of the Bill. What is the clause aimed at? What will be the full effect of it in relation to the three matters covered in sections 39,40 and 41?
I bypass for the moment clauses 13 and 14, which deal with boycott against waterside workers who are registered and the penalties provided. I propose to come back to that when I deal later with the effect of clause 21. I pass now to what is the main provision of this Bill - Part III. This Part contains provisions relating to the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia - the one trade union singled out for this action. Clause 16 provides - (1.) The Minister may apply to the Commission
That is, the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission - for a declaration under this section. (2.) Upon such an application, if the Commission is satisfied that the conduct of the Federation . . or the conduct of a substantial number of the members of the Federation (whether in respect of their continued breach or nonobservance of such an award or order or in any other respect), has -
The Minister for Labour and National Service justified clause 16 by saying that a prior judicial investigation was provided for. I flatly contradict that claim. The Minister said -
My third point is that we think we should adhere to the long-standing principle that deregistration should be based on prior judicial investigation.
Something similar was said by the Minister in this chamber prior to the suspension of the sitting. The body that is to conduct the investigation is the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission which, following the boilermakers’ case in 1956, was divorced entirely from all judicial function by decision of the High Court. Its function and its power are purely administrative. The fact that at the moment the presidential officers of the Commission are judges of the old Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration - which is still kept in being, it might surprise the Senate to know - does not mean that they are acting in a judicial capacity. They are acting purely to discharge an administrative function. They do not sit in their capacities as judges at all. It is not essential to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act that they should be judges. Any barrister or solicitor of five years standing may be a presidential member. This month the presidential members may be. judges. The next month they might all be gone and barristers might be acting in their places. Whether they are judges or barristers, they are not discharging a judicial function. When the Minister claims that they are in making the investigation, he is falling into a gross and grievous error.
I turn now to the registration provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Section 143 provides that any organisation or person interested may apply to the Commonwealth Industrial Court for deregistration. The Industrial Court is a judicial body. The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission is not a judicial body. So, the first great change that the Government makes is to take the consideration of deregistration away from the Industrial Court and, in the case of the Waterside
Workers Federation, give a non-judicial body the right to make a declaration. In our view, quite clearly that is wrong.
I come to the second change. I invite honorable senators to see how tightly the Government has imposed a duty upon the Commission under this Bill. Only the presidential members may sit. They are given their instructions. I repeat: If the Federation or a substantial number of its members has hindered the objects of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, or hindered overseas or interstate trade in any respect - in the least respect, in one respect - then the Commission has no discretion. It shall make a declaration. It is necessary only to establish one factor which indicates breach of the objects of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, or hindrance or interference with overseas or interstate trade, and the Commission shall then make a declaration.
I contrast that position with the provisions of section 143 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act so that honorable senators may see what the Government has bypassed. Under Section 143 the Commonwealth Industrial Court is conferred with jurisdiction to hear and determine an application for deregistration. I shall read sub-section (2.) of section 143 so that honorable senators may see what elbow room is given to the Industrial Court. Subsection (2.) states -
The Court has jurisdiction to hear and determine an application under the last preceding sub-section and if, after adjourning the proceedings for such period, if any, as it thinks fit -
Honorable senators will notice that the subsection leaves elbow room for conciliation, for the cooling of tempers. Did the Government adopt that provision for inclusion in the Stevedoring Industry Bill? No. For the purpose of the Stevedoring Industry Bill it is necessary to prove only one factor and the declaration must come down. Subsection (2.) continues -
Honorable senators will notice the discretion that is vested in the Court. In effect, the Court is told: “Try conciliation if you think it will do any good. Adjourn proceedings and, even if you find the charge established and deregistration justified, look at all the circumstances to see whether the matter is grave enough to proceed. Do not go on with it unless you think it is sufficiently grave “. Those two elements are completely removed from the provisions that are directed at the Waterside Workers Federation in the Stevedoring Industry Bill.
I ask honorable senators to look at clause 16 (2.) of the Bill, which states that if the Federation or a substantial number of its members in any respect has prevented or hindered the achievement of an object of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, or has prevented or hindered overseas or interstate trade, the Commission shall make a declaration. The Commission has no power to conciliate and adjourn proceedings, or to weigh the gravity of the offence and exercise discretion on whether it should make a declaration. Once the Minister can prove one point under those two heads, the declaration must be made.
– The clause does not refer to deregistration.
– No, it does not. It provides merely that the Commission shall make a declaration that the offence is established - one offence, big or little.
– It can happen once every week.
– I do not doubt that. I go further and say that it could happen every day. The honorable senator reminds me to point out how the offence is constituted. I draw the attention of honorable senators to the very broad objects of the Concilation and Arbitration Act and ask them to imagine the Federation or a substantial body of its members being charged with, for example, failure to promote goodwill in industry, the first stated object of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Under the Stevedoring Industry Bill there is a positive duty imposed on the Federation to promote goodwill in industry.
Another object of the Concilation and Arbitration Act is to encourage conciliation with a view to amicable agreement, thereby preventing and settling industrial disputes. Is that to be an obligation of the Federation, breach of which entitles the Minister to go and obtain a declaration? A further object of the Concilation and Arbitration Act is to provide means for preventing and settling industrial disputes not resolved by amicable agreement. The next object is to provide for the observance and enforcement of agreements and awards. Some of the objects are simply not applicable to the legislation before us, an example being to encourage the organisation of representative bodies of employers and employees. Failure to encourage the establishment and organisation of representative bodies of employers can be an offence committed by the Waterside Workers Federation, under this stupid provision of the Stevedoring Industry Bill.
I merely indicate how exceedingly wide and lacking in thought is the provision included in clause 16 of the Bill. Again on the point made by Senator Murphy in relation to the question of hindering or interfering with the carriage of goods or the conveyance of passengers in overseas or interstate trade, almost any act that would happen every minute of every day would constitute an offence under that provision. It is all very well to say that the Minister will act responsibly. He might not. He is able to move into the position of claiming that proof of one act constitutes an offence under this Bill. I again draw attention to the fact that the Commonwealth Concilation and Arbitration Commission is not a court. Its hearings are not judicial proceedings. Its hands are tied. It has no discretion and it exercises no mercy.
What happens when the Minister obtains a declaration? In the legislation it is expressed to be the Governor-General, but of course it is the Minister who will act. Clause 18 provides that the GovernorGeneral may, within six months after the declaration is made, declare that its provisions apply. The Minister has a weapon that he can hold over the heads of the Federation for six full months. He then may declare that the provisions of clause 18 apply to the Federation. The minute he does that, the registration of the Federation is cancelled and then there flow all kinds of penalties. I mention them but briefly. The Federation ceases to be an organisation under the Act. It loses incorporation under the Act, and that means it cannot effectively enforce its rules against its members. It is still subject to prior penalties. Any award applying to it ceases to have any effect in relation to the Federation and its members. It ceases to be. the union for the purposes of consultation with the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority in making orders. It ceases to bc the union in relation to the port which is to be consulted from time to time. It cannot be represented in any proceedings before the Court or the Commission. Finally, its leases obtained from the Government for amenities sheds and meeting places on the wharves are automatically cancelled. They are severe penalties and they rest not in a judicial body but in the hands of a Minister who has shown brashness and rashness and who has had to retreat on several occasions from intolerable positions he has taken up. lt is in his discretion to apply these sanctions.
I pass most rapidly now to clause 21. Once the Federation is declared and is outlawed, I might say, any body of men at a port may get together, form an organisation and coast along until the Minister says: “ You will do me as the union in relation to this port. You are not registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, but I think the conditions of your arrangement are such that you ought to be registered.” The Minister, by-passing the whole age long procedure for registration, has power to direct that that organisation in that port be registered as a union under the Act and be deemed to be the body that should be consulted by the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority from time to time.
Clearly, the object of all this is to break up the Waterside Workers Federation and, in the hope that by subverting its members in the various ports they will form breakaway unions, break the organisation into as many parts as there are ports. The whole purpose of the provision is to weaken the Federation and break it into separate unions all around Australia. This is going back to the bad old days. The final clause does as one might expect. It negatives all rights of the Federation to consult with the Authority.
I think that I have said a great deal that justifies the Opposition in opposing the Bill because of the very bad legal and industrial principles upon which it is founded. We are not concerned to condemn the Waterside Workers Federation or to uphold it in all that it has done. The principles of the Bill are so bad that we think it should be rejected. On behalf of the Opposition, I move -
Leave out all words after “That”, insert: - “ the bill be withdrawn and redrafted to provide for public enterprise to be established and extended in the stevedoring industry and for joint Commonwealth State provision and operation of wharf facilities and equipment “.
The amendment calls upon the Government to accept its proper responsibility in the matter of the stevedoring industry, which is vital to our overseas trade. We seek to get away from a situation in which there are more than 30 port authorities administering some 100 ports and some 39 stevedoring companies, many of them owned entirely by shipping companies and many others controlled by shipping companies. These stevedoring companies are able to move their profits about in rebates from one to the other to suit their taxation convenience and to enable them to conceal their true financial position. They can do that at will and without difficulty. Let us, instead of this, have the one authority. Let us have an authority that includes the Commonwealth, which does not lack thorough power but has complete power over overseas trade and can regulate interstate trade. The Commonwealth, under the Constitution, can take part in such an authority as it does in the airways and in other matters. A very small area would be left to be controlled by the States. This could be thrown into the melting pot to enable the whole situation to be controlled by one body with a national outlook and with national responsibility. This body would take, over employment and supervision. It would ensure that ports are brought up to proper establishment and become of world stature, that they are efficiently equipped, that management is thorough and competent, and generally would eliminate the multitudinous bodies that are messing around in this field today and are making their contribution to the general malaise. I have in mind port authorities, State Governments, stevedoring companies, shipping companies and the Aus tralian Stevedoring Industry Authority - a multiplicity of bodies all concerned with what ought to be a truly national matter. We believe that such a body could provide adequate facilities for all those engaged in overseas and interstate trade on the waterfront and simultaneously do justice to the waterside workers.
The Minister has intimated, to his disgrace, that after this Government has been in office for 16 years there are still long term problems awaiting - settlement, and I repeat that they are just about as bad now as they were when this Government took office. We hope that without further dithering it will stop the type of attack it is making on one Federation and will not pass sectional legislation applying to this Federation and designed to fracture it into many parts. This Bill, in the view of the Opposition, is designed to crush the Waterside Workers Federation - to break it into as many pieces as there are ports in Australia. For all the reasons that I have given, I commend the amendment that I have moved.
.- The spirit and the fashion in which the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) addressed himself to his task betrayed all too evidently a consciousness that he was not even attempting to speak in the national interest. In this instance there is not one word he uttered that is not an echo of Mr. Docker, who is a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Australia. In the beginning of his speech, Senator McKenna admitted that conditions on the waterfront were bad and he closed with an attack on the stevedoring companies, the harbour authorities, the shipping companies - everybody except the Waterside Workers Federation. Not one word that fell from him revealed the circumstances which have led the Government to regard this Bill as an urgent piece of national legislation. It deals with a situation, the urgency of which has developed most obviously throughout all of this year.
After months of negotiation before Mr. Justice Gallagher, when both sides of the industry were making submissions for the reorganisation of the industry, designed to get order and efficiency, Mr. Docker had this to say -
We are fighting the Government ou these matters.
What were these matters? They were a demand for nationalisation. That is the purpose of the amendment moved by the Australian Labour Party tonight. The matters mentioned by Mr. Docker were to be financed by a 10 per cent, surcharge on the wages of waterside workers. On my arithmetic., this would yield from the community for the benefit of this project of Mr. Docker about £500,000 a year. Another matter on which he is fighting the Government is the establishment of a mechanisation fund. He also states that he will refuse finally to accept arbitration. The next matter on which he is fighting the Government is stated in his blunt declaration before Mr. Justice Gallagher that he will continue the industrial stoppages and that the disruption will go on indefinitely. These were the propositions of Mr. Docker, the advocate for the Waterside Workers Federation, and every one of them found acceptance in the submissions of the Leader of the Opposition here tonight. I am glad that the Government has at last accepted the challenge by this Federation which has submitted the community to industrial stoppages representing 55 days per man per year as compared with 2 days per man per year in other Australian industries.
– That is absolute nonsense.
– Senator Murphy says lt is absolute nonsense. He is the first to controvert it. What I have said has been stated publicly; I rely on the official statement.
– lt has never been stated publicly. What absolute rubbish. It was 55 hours.
– Did I say 55 days?
– Yes, and Senator Murphy is trying to build something on it.
– Will Senator Wright apologise?
– I will withdraw my statement and substitute for the word “ days “ the word “ hours “. I am making the point that the relationship achieved by the Waterside Workers Federation is 55 to 2. Whereas other industrial workers in Australia lost an average of 2 hours per man per year, the waterside workers - those for whom Labour speaks tonight - mustered 55 hours. In recent years the throughput of waterside workers’ operations has deteriorated by something like from 15 per cent, to 25 per cent. All the figures are set forth in the Minister’s second reading speech. They are also documented in the submissions made before Mr. Justice Gallagher. Despite the weakness of the case that Senator McKenna had to prepare, and despite the fact that all this information had been placed before the Parliament over a fortnight ago, he did not accept his responsibility to contravert the figures if they are wrong.
The next point I want to make is that, bearing in mind that background of miserable performance on the waterfront, we must realise that Mr. Docker’s statement was made at a time when this country wa3 engaged in security operations in both Malaya and Vietnam - a time when control of the wharves was essential for both trade and defence. Therefore, there is some revival of one’s spirit when one finds that the Government is prepared to bring in a’ Bill of some strength to deal with the situation.
These gentry of the waterfront, on behalf of whom Senator Hendrickson is interjecting so enthusiastically, derived in the financial year ended 30th June 1964 attendance money totalling £786,000, annual leave to the value of £1,600,000, holiday pay worth £597,000, sick leave valued at £321,000 and long service leave worth £316,000. All of these benefits were gathered from the community by means of a tax amounting to no less than 3s. 4d. per man hour for every wage that is paid to a waterside worker. I repeat that these benefits have been given by the community to the Waterside Workers Federation, and I think it indeed appropriate that the recipients of the benefits should at last be called to a halt and made to realise their responsibilities to the community.
I believe that the significance of the Bill has been unduly magnified. Its importance lies in the fact that it is a step - but only a step - in the right direction. It is a move towards facing up to the Federation and demanding from it a recognition of its responsibilities to the community. The Minister has been greatly assisted in this matter by the resolute report which was submitted by the Chairman of the Australian
Stevedoring Industry Authority. I think he has been greatly supported also by the Government Members’ Industrial Committee, chiefly by its chairman Mr. Donald Chipp, the honorable member for Higinbotham in another place.
In order to obtain a clear understanding of the Bill, we should recall the history of the present organisation that exists on the waterfront. The Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority represents a continuance into peace time of a war time organisation. In 1947, the Labour Government gave statutory recognition to the Stevedoring Industry Commission. In 1949, the Commission became a board. Then, in 1956, its garb was changed again and it became the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority. The thing that we should understand in considering relationships on the waterfront is that this government organisation has been interposed between the employer and the employee. What are its functions? The first function is to fix port quotas. This is done in order to prevent undue unemployment in what was once essentially a casual industry. So the first thing is that for every port the Authority fixes the number of men who are to be eligible for employment at that port. The Authority maintains a roster so that the members of the Waterside Workers Federation shall not be victimised by employers in a bull gang, or by the blue boys to whom Lord Devlin referred in his report. The roster is based on numbers and there is no preference or discrimination.
Thirdly, the Authority hears complaints with relation to poor work performance, indiscipline or victimisation on the part of employers. It also dispenses attendance money. Then, as one of its main functions, it maintains a register not only of waterside workers who are eligible for work in this industry but also of stevedores who, without registration by this Authority, cannot even employ labour on the waterfront. So it is in respect of that register that the Bill makes some amendment. I want to deal with the provisions of the Bill with reference to the register which is maintained by the Authority. The Authority, which was appointed by the Government, is presided over by an experienced Chairman. A second member is appointed by the Government on the basis of his experience in the industry. The third member appointed by the Govern ment is a representative of the trade union movement. That is the Authority which has charge of the register.
As long ago as 1951 this organisation was being hampered by the operations of the Waterside Workers Federation, but the Government waited from 1951 until 1954 for Mr. Basten’s report. Then in 1954, so tardy was the Federation in supplying labour to go on the register to meet the demands of stevedoring operations, the Government of the day brought down legislation to give to the employers - that section of industry that is so odious in the eyes of the Australian Labour Party, and even more odious in the eyes of Mr. Docker and his companions - the right to nominate waterside workers if a quota was deficient. That brought upon the industry the full weight of organised labour and a strike was on our hands. Then the Government of the day, with the concurrence of the employers, said: “ Forget it “. In 1 956 Mr. Tait’s report was received. So far out of its way did the Government go in 1 956 to meet the Federation that it incorporated in the Steverdoring Industry Act, in section 31, a provision which stated -
Subject to this section, the Authority shall not register a person as a waterside worker at a port unless the application for registration for that person has been submitted to the Authority on behalf of that person by the union in relation to the port.
That unique privilege was given to this union and one would have thought that the union, for its part, would have realised that it had a duty to show a proper recognition of its responsibility.
– Is the Waterside Workers Federation the only union that has that power?
– So far as I know, it is - now that the Seamen’s Union has surrendered a similar power. The Seamen’s Union was in an analogous position up to 1 2 months ago, but it has forgone that right and the waterside workers thus have the unique privilege of deciding whether a man can enter this industry or not. What do we find? Since 1956 there has been a dwindling need to fill up port quotas. In the port of Hobart the Australian National Line has been driven to mechanised handling of cargoes. The Union Steam Ship Company of New Zealand Ltd. is utilising ships with container loaders. Wheat comes into the port. shipped by mechanised loaders. The quota of waterside workers has dwindled from 1,100 or 1,200 to 850.
– What is wrong with that?
– I do not come into this chamber with such a miserable outlook that I want to devote my time only to wrong; I want to speak about what is right also. I point out that not in all cases has there been pressure to uplift the quota. After the little recession in 1960, there was a need to increase the quotas in Sydney and Melbourne and we saw then a rearguard delaying action on the part of the Waterside Workers Federation. Then we found that it had applied for registration of these gentlemen with criminal records to whom reference is made in the Minister’s sound reading speech. There was a reduced thoughput and, under Communist direction, the Federation persisted in a series of disruptive stoppages. The Federation engaged in these activities for the purpose of achieving the nationalisation of the industry, a non-contributory pension fund, a mechanisation fund and the destruction, in relation to their industry, of the principles of arbitration.
In my book, it would be shame on any government, faced with that arrogant assertation of monopoly power, if it did not bring in legislation that displayed a resolute determination to match the Federation’s efforts at disruption with defence - defence of the community.
This Bill provides for the removal from the Federation of its prerogative to control the register of waterside workers. It will impose upon this Federation the heinous injustice of providing that the Authority to register eligible workers on the waterfront will be an independent Government body. The status of the Chairman of this body is known. Another member is a man experienced in industry and the third is representative of the trade union movement generally. I grieve for the waterfront workers who must suffer the injustice of submitting themselves to registration by this body.
In making this provision, the Government simply abrogates from the Federation a privilege that never rightly belonged to it. This right is being abrogated only because of the union’s depraved Communist abuse of the power it had. But, from the experi ence of 1954, I think it was prudent on the part of those who devised this Bill to anticipate that even a step in that direction might be met with retaliation on the part of the Federation. The union might be expected to use its industrial force to create a general strike. Therefore we find incorporated in the measure Part III, which provides for action to meet the Federation if it starts any disruptive or lawless practice.
What has been said in this chamber in this context? We have heard the Leader of the Opposition dilate upon this provision with a form of legislation such as I have not heard before during the 1 6 years I have been in this Senate. I have some appreciation for legal matters but not for legalism de luxe in support of the Federation’s individual rights. In the first place, there is to be transplanted into this measure section 143 (h) of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act - a provision that enables the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to judge a question of fact - to judge whether or not the Federation has engaged in activities which defeat the objects of the Act. And with regard to all this disquisition as to the indefiniteness of the criterion of liability that Senator McKenna used as a criticism of the Arbitration Act I point out that the objectives of the Act are copied into this Bill literally and faithfully from the Act itself. But the introduction of this Bill makes quite specific the fact that when we are dealing with a federation that singles itself out from the general run of trade unions by disruptive attacks on the arbitration provisions in this country it is very appropriate to pass special legislation to deal with it.
What is this legislation? It states that if the Federation engages in activities in defeat of the objects of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, activities that frustrate or interfere with interstate or foreign trade, penalties may be inflicted. I should like to have seen included in the Bill provision that if the Federation interferes with or frustrates any shipping in connection with or in furtherance of the defence effort those penalties should apply. Then commit the question to whom? This technology as to whether the Commission is a judicial body. It is an impartial, independent body of men of integrity, required by the Act to sit in a presidential session of three, and anybody’s sense of justice should be satisfied by the requirement that that tribunal has to make a solemn declaration that these acts have been committed before the law will take its course.’ I am not here to say that in my judgment it is the most ideal course, but I think it is an acceptable course and one which, in the face of important industrial disruption sustained by repeated declarations by a Communist member of the central committee, speaking for the Federation, is justified. We want to arm a democratic government with authority that, in proper cases, can be matched so far as the Government has established the facts to the satisfaction of an independent tribunal such as the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, and in my book a democracy acquires some strength and deserves some support when, after establishing those facts to the satisfaction of an independent tribunal, it says to its government: “ You are authorised, within a period of six months, to deregister “. And on deregistration, what happens? The organisation ceases to exist. But the Bill has been careful to transplant all the personal rights under award and under statute to any members of new organisations that may develop in ports to take the place of the federation that has forfeited its right to exist. In my book, a democracy that will take that course deserves to be defended.
The reason why we have to have special legislation of this character stems not only from the considerations I have mentioned but if, in the series of stevedoring industry measures, from 1947 up to date, by statute you vest in the Federation statutory rights, it is not merely a case where the Federation exceeds the rights granted it under awards by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission: The statute has conferred on the Federation certain rights and therefore the only appropriate method to deal with these matters is to pass a bill which enables those statutory rights to be taken from the Federation, which has forfeited its entitlement to them.
– And transferred to a scab organisation.
– The honorable senator says, “ to a scab organisation “, when I speak of the Federation I am speaking of people who will deny the community in which they live and the country by which they are. supported the right to have a decent organisation with these vital rights established by the trade union movement half a century ago. But no man of intelligence and of any appreciation of the purposes of the great principles of the trade unions in this day and generation would refer to the organisation in ‘such miserable terms. If we have to defeat a disruptive organisation, of course, the immediate thing to do is to facilitate the creation of an alternative union so that the great body of members of the Waterside Workers Federation - of whom a great number have good war records and of whom a great number have good civilian records and do not deserve punishment for the actions of certain other members of the Federation - may rejoice in the opportunity to join a decent union when this miserable federation has been destroyed.
.- -I have a great deal of respect for Senator Wright for the contributions which he has made on occasions to the development of this Senate as a chamber of review and for his advocacy of certain important principles relating to the liberties of citizens. But I say, with great respect to him, that I have never heard him speak to less advantage, than he did tonight. He accused the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator McKenna) of echoing the arguments of the advocate of the Waterside Workers Federation, but he himself was guilty of repeating every platitude used by those extremists who treat every strike as an outbreak of leprosy. Indeed, he demonstrated, and attempted to justify, all the discredited 19th century attitudes of those on the Conservative side of politics today. In the end he threw caution to the wind and proceeded to deride some of the observations of the Leader of the Opposition regarding the type of jurisdiction that was to be exercised by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission as: “This technology as to whether the Commission is a judicial body “. I venture to think that on other occasions he would regard that particular question as being of very vital interest to the Senate and to Australians generally.
In the experience of men, governments - sometimes drunk with power, sometimes out of an excess of zeal and sometimes at the behest of sectional interests - introduce legislation which affronts the susceptibilities of decent citizens who have a feeling for democracy and for the institutions of democracy. It may be an invasion of cherished personal liberties, such as the four freedoms of the wartime years; it may be an action letting loose the book burners or the defamers of universities and other centres of cultural or academic freedom; or it may be, as in the present case, that a trade union is under threat of destruction and it is natural and instinctive even for those workers who may strongly disagree with some of the actions of the union to rise up and say to the Government: “ You must not - indeed you shall not - do this “. They say it, not necessarily in approval of particular trade union policies, but because, for them, trade unions exist to defend what the working man has achieved by solidarity and sacrifice. In the present case, and in relation to the legislation that the Senate is considering, I do not suppose there could be a clearer demonstration of the occasion calling forth this response than a provision which encourages men to organise against their mates and to form governmentsponsored or employer-sponsored unions which can be registered - indeed which must be registered - -at the direction of the Minister. That is what one of the clauses of this Bill proclaims, lt provides that the Minister has power to direct the registration of a union which complies with the conditions of registration. In that circumstance, the Registrar shall register the union accordingly. In other words, the Registrar is divested of the discretion to refuse to register unions which he exercises in all that area of jurisdiction under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
This Bill, I believe, should be rejected, broadly for two reasons. First, it is wrong in principle, representing, as I have endeavoured to suggest in a few opening remarks, an attack on trade unionism and on democratic institutions. Secondly, it should be rejected because it fails to make any contribution whatever to industrial peace and better industrial relations on the waterfront either immediately or in the long term. I believe that this Bill is a confession by the Government of its failure to secure peace and good industrial relations on the waterfront. The Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) referred in his speech to the exhaustive and patient efforts to find a solution to this problem within the normal framework. This statement rings somewhat hollow when we realise how narrow and circumscribed this “ normal framework “ is. We are dealing, if we go no further than the Government, with the same old employers, the same old port facilities, the same old hostilities between employers and the union and the same old attempt to confine the issue to the conduct of waterside workers. There has been in the course of the discussion in this place and in another place, a good deal of reference to the alleged conduct of the Waterside Workers Federation in the recruitment of labour for the waterfront, and to the suggestion that there is some kind of deliberate policy to recruit criminals or persons with criminal records to work on the waterfront. Speaking of criminals, I believe it is bordering on the criminal for the Government and the Minister to isolate one unsatisfactory aspect of a very turbulent and complicated situation and attempt to use the big stick against one party only - the union. That is, after all, what is involved in the attitude that the Government brings to this very difficult question today. We are asked as a Parliament to deal as a matter of urgency with this legislation. We are asked to do this in a week when we would not normally be sitting. Not a single word that has fallen from Senator Wright, not a single word that has been uttered by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) who is responsible for the administration of this Bill or the Minister for Works in introducing this Bill into the Senate this afternoon, would suggest that there is some state of emergency which calls for this unseemly haste. It is one thing to adopt a highly moralistic tone towards the waterside workers. We find that in the speech of the Minister and we find it again and again in the speech of Senator Wright.
– Ad nauseam.
– I did not use those words but we had that attitude demonstrated again and again in Senator Wright’s speech.
– I think Senator Wright’s speech was feudal, not moral.
– I have said that it was nineteenth century thinking. The feudal idea goes back centuries before the nineteenth century. I do not want to argue about that because, whatever it is, it is an outmoded attitude and it is an attitude that is quite unsatisfactory in the present circumstances. I do not believe that it is possible to deal with the position on the wharves merely by using disciplinary measures against the waterside workers. The Government can inveigh against them. It can invoke highly moralistic attitudes. But, in the end, the test is going to be: Is this measure going to make any real contribution to peace on the waterfront? If it does not, then all the words that have been spoken, all the paraxysms of fury to which the Minister has resorted and to which his supporters have responded will not achieve anything.
Let me say immediately that I wish to speak in support of the amendment that has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition. He made it plain that there are many problems other than the problem of disciplining the waterside workers when the position on the waterfront comes to be considered. The Devlin Committee which made its report in August of this year showed pretty conclusively that the situation on the waterfront regarding the labour system and related issues was probably worse in Britain than in Australia and that the inquiry showed that many of the problems were mutual. Indeed, it is obvious that any inquiry that was undertaken in Australia would do well to study what had been done in Britain. It is utterly wrong to try to treat the Australian waterside worker as though he is some utterly unique and exceptional animal. Of course the stevedoring industry is a difficult industry. But it is difficult in other countries as well. The difference is that in other countries the problems of the industry are being tackled with some kind of positive approach and not merely by means of an attempt to use the big stick on the waterside workers.
– Have we not used positive measures?
– I would like to know what those positive measures are. My authority for the statement I have just made is not anybody connected with the stevedoring industry but the head of the Department of Trade and Industry. I invite Senator Hannaford to listen to this statement because he seems to be anxious to establish that he and his Government have done a great deal for waterside workers. In the
Australian” of 16th September 1965, under the heading “Trade head appeals for port shakeup “, the Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry, Sir Alan Westerman, is reported as having criticised facilities for cargo handling in Australian ports. He is reported to have suggested a co-ordinating body to improve port facilities to a symposium of the Australian national committee of the International Cargo Handling Co-ordination Association in Sydney. Sir Alan is reported as follows -
– What difficulties?
– Let me continue -
Wharves in Australia faced unnecessary congestion
– That is a broad statement.
– It is no good the honorable senator interjecting. He asked what his Government had done and I am telling him what the head of the Department of Trade and Industry says the Government has done. Sir Alan Westerman said -
Wharves in Australia faced unnecessary congestion because of timing of arrivals and misuse of chains of sheds as warehouses.
Wharves built decades ago were unsuited to modern cargo-handling.
This gentleman is one of the senior advisers to the Government in matters of trade and no doubt is competent to speak on a broad range of problems, as he did on that recent occasion. Indeed, the very speech of the Minister for Works this afternoon - the revised version a la the Minister for Works - concedes that there is much to bc done. I rely on this as demonstrating the force of the Opposition’s case up to the hilt.
– It also stated what had been done, or part of what had been done.
– Let me deal with the portion I want to rely on and if it unfairly represents the Government’s position no doubt some honorable senator will correct me.
– It has little to do wilh the Bill.
– If it has little to do with the Bill then it should not be in the Minister’s speech.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wedgwood). - Order! I ask the. honorable senator to address the Chair.
– The Minister for Works, at page 10 of the speech circulated this afternoon, said -
Bui, clearly, if we are to have an efficient waterfront, and if proper regard is to be had to the interests of waterside workers, some changes in existing arrangements are necessary.
Honorable senators will see the concession. He continued -
These changes are not all in the Held of labourmanagement relations and the Government has already turned its attention to some of them.
The Government has already turned its attention to some of them - after being in office for 16 years. The Government stands condemned, on the very case that it makes to the Senate, as having betrayed the trust that the people of Australia have reposed in it. The Minister continued - lt has already contributed to the improvement of coal ports. The Australian National Line has contributed with new types of ships and methods of cargo carriage. The Department of Trade and Industry has been, and is, working on the problem of rationalising overseas shipping services.
We know that the Government is working on the matter because it has appointed Mr. Woodward to inquire into the problems of the waterfront. It appointed him in June, lt was expected that his inquiries would be completed within three months, although that seemed a very ambitious estimate, and yet before three months have elapsed the Government cuts the ground from beneath his feet by introducing this Bill which purports to deal .with some of the matters that Mr. Woodward is inquiring into.
My comment on this aspect is that the Government has no real policy on these matters. It has taken a public relations stance. It adopts a position for the purpose of battening on the established opposition of the great majority of Australians to Communism and it attempts to feed that sentiment with a mass of mischievious generalisations and high sounding platitudes about the responsibility of the waterside workers to the community. The Government itself has a responsibility to the whole community to do something about the position on the wharves. It has had 16 years in which to do so. Its record is dismal. It is utterly insincere of the Minister to come along here and prate about the sort of things that the Government has in mind to do when it has already had 16 years in which to do them.
One does not have to accept what a member of the Opposition says on this subject because it was dealt with in an editorial on 27th September in the “ Financial Review “. The editorial analysed the background and the type of consideration that I have been referring to, - the complicated problems of permanency, mechanisation, the possibility of nationalisation of port facilities and the whole problem of shipping freights, to which the Vernon Committee of Inquiry recently drew attention, and the recently announced rises in shipping freights between Australia and North America to date from November. All of these are sophisticated and difficult problems and need a positive approach from the Government. The editorial stated -
Against this background, the emphasis of Mr. McMahon’s speech introducing new legislation seemed more concerned with political effect than with striking at the roots of waterfront chaos.
In view of the lengths to which the Government is now prepared to go to achieve relatively minor results on the waterfront, it is a pity that it has not adopted a broader view of the measures needed to improve efficiency . . . But a costly confrontation which, at best, will merely place a more docile labour force in our ancient and hopelessly inadequate ports hardly seems worth while.
That is the attitude not of the political Opposition but of an independent journal such as the “ Financial Review “ which certainly does not ordinarily represent the point of view of the Australian Labour Party or of the Waterside Workers Federation.
Madam Acting Deputy President, I want to deal with a number of problems of interpretation following the very extensive examination that was made of the Bill by the Leader of the Opposition. I wish to refer to some of the provisions relating to deregistration. Senator McKenna has already indicated that upon the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, in presidential session, being satisfied that the Federation, or a substantial number of members of the Federation, had been guilty of the conduct mentioned, whether by way of breach of an award or in any other respect it may make a declaration. I ask Senator Wright to note the words “ or in any other respect “.
– That is from the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
– I know it is from the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, but under this Bill, as soon as some delinquency appears to satisfy the Commission, the result must follow that the declaration is made. Because of the mandatory nature of the provision that the Commission shall make a declaration to that effect, it is entirely different in its tendency from the comparable provision in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
– I do not see that much mischief has flowed from the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
– The honorable senator does not see that much mischief has flowed. Well, this is clearly an occasion on which the provision is not of general application. What the Government has done here is to take to itself power to initiate the process to deregister and destroy this union. Nobody can controvert Chat.
The Government has the initiative in approaching the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission with a prepared case to demonstrate, if it can, a breach of the award or a breach within the terms of clause J 6 (2.) of this Bill.
– It still has to convince the Commission, has it not?
– Of course, but the Government does not even have to show a breach of an award because it may be conduct which in any respect, whether by way of breach or non-observance of an award, or an order of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, or otherwise, satisfies the Commission that it has prevented or hindered the achievement of an object of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. I think Senator McKenna has dealt effectively with that point.
I want to deal next with clause 18 (2.) (b) which provides that after the Federation has been deregistered it cannot again be registered except upon conditions laid down by the Governor-General by instrument in writing. Those conditions include the right to specify what shall be and what shall not be in the rule book of the Federation. So in that clause the Government is taking power to do two things: Firstly to deregister the union. When that is done, by a declaration made, within six months of the Commission’s declaration, it cannot be reregistered except upon conditions which include a power in the Government to rewrite the union’s rule book. Secondly, a scab union - I am not afraid to use that term- or a breakaway, or a government or an employer sponsored union can be registered at the direction of the Government. What kind of independence is it thought that such a body of men would have if it enables a direction from the Government to the Registrar of the Commission to place them upon the register book of registered organisations? The whole thing is farcical.
There are one or two other matters to which I should like to refer. There has been a good deal of talk about the alleged complicity of the union in the recruitment of criminals to work on the waterfront. The Minister, in his speech, has been very tentative about this. He has spoken about “ suggestions that have come to our ears “. Is that the way for a responsible Minister of the Crown to talk - about “suggestions that have come to our ears “? He has here cast a slur upon the officers of the Federation, and upon the men themselves, by adding to the smear of Communism the stigma of criminality. He has done that, he said, on “ suggestions that have come to our ears “. As I understand the position, the Federation does not ask men whether or not they have a criminal record when they apply for registration. Nor does the Stevedoring Industry Authority ask them. When the applications have come forward, somehow or other, in some unexplained way, the police records of some of these men appear to have been made available to the Stevedoring Industry Authority or to the employers. To take, not one step but half a dozen steps, and infer from them that, the Federation is in some way a party guilty of putting forward men, some of whom indeed ought not to be registered and some of whom the Stevedoring Industry Authority itself has registered after a knowledge of their police records is to go too far. Surely it ought never to be said that any man who has been convicted of an offence and who has paid his debt to society no longer has the right to work. Every case, of course, must be judged on its merits, as to whether a man is able to do stevedoring work, but let us not have this direct, general slur cast upon a body of men. There are apparently 21,000 of them in the Commonwealth of Australia and nobody can say a word against the great majority of them.
This Bill, as I have said before, represents a confession of failure on the part of the Government. The Minister, referring to the Federation, asks: “How can you do business with people like this? “ But in the next breath he destroys his argument by saying: “ But all of this “ - the Government’s plans to improve conditions on the waterfront - “ will be nullified without the sensible support and co-operation of the Federation “. I ask this question: Is this Bill designed to secure such support from the Federation, or is it a further excuse to a hopelessly inept Government for continued and prolonged inactivity and failure?
.- It is a difficult task for a mere layman to follow two legal luminaries of the Opposition. We have seen again that these gentlemen have the facility to try to blind us with science. I want to underline one or two things that Senator Cohen has said. He accused the Government of trying to use the big stick against the Waterside Workers Federation. He went on to say that it was quite wrong to treat the waterside worker as some sort of animal. He spoke about a general slur cast upon the 21,000-odd members of the Waterside Workers Federation. We all know perfectly well that this Bill recognises that the overwhelming majority of the members of the Waterside Workers Federation are good, estimable citizens of Australia. Everybody knows that not one clause in this Bill is designed to do other than help this overwhelming majority of members of the Federation.
I go further and say that everybody in Australia recognises that for some 20 years the stevedoring industry has been dominated by a few people. Over the years, one group after another, by their Communistic affiliation, has damaged not only the country, but also the members of the union and indeed everybody within the boundaries of
Australia. It is of these few who are making all the trouble on our wharves that we are thinking and against whom we are working tonight.
Let us review the situation. First of all, I do not think that there has ever been, indeed I know there has never been, any time in my parliamentary experience, which exceeds 20 years, that the members of the Parliamentary Labour Party have been so much out of step and offside with an overwhelming number of people in Australia. I venture to say that not more than a handful of people in Australia - other than, of course, the Communist leaders of this union - have any sympathy whatsoever with the arguments that have been advanced by the Labour Party. I might go even further and say that members of the Party do not agree amongst themselves. This was amply demonstrated on the occasion of the debate last Thursday night, when in the passages of this building, outside the other chamber, members of the Labour Party started fighting amongst themselves - quite literally - -in relation to this legislation. That, I believe, is an example of the attitude of the people on the other side of the chamber who are trying to put up some sort of case in relation to this Bill.
– Tell us who they were.
– Does the honorable senator want to know who were fighting? I would be only too happy to give him the names of those who participated in the fisticuffs if he wants to have them, but I think that probably he knows the names.
There are certain key factors behind this legislation. I think that the second reading speech delivered by the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) this afternoon was a masterpiece of exactness and preciseness. I am sorry that it is not possible for me to quote the whole speech but I shall refer to one or two features of it because I believe they give the real key to the legislation. In the early part of his speech the Minister said -
But in this industry-
He is referring to .the stevedoring industry -
The dominant cause of bad labour relations, and of lost time, and of damage to Australia’s economy, is the domination by Communists in key positions of the policies and actions of the Federation, and the manner in which those Communists have used the Federation as an instrument of Communist Party policies.
J ask all honorable senators to recall this passage -
This is not a situation which began under the present Government. As the Leader of the Opposition will recall, the previous Government, a Labour government, was faced with the same problem in 1949. It then felt itself forced to dismiss from the Stevedoring Industry Commission the then General Secretary of the Federation, Mr. Healy, and the then Assistant General Secretary, Mr. Roach.
This is a symptom that has been present in this industry for 20 years and known to the Opposition. Honorable, senators opposite know that action had to be taken. Action was taken by a Labour government. Now, when this Government is taking action against the next batch of Communists who are controlling this union - better action, I might suggest, than was taken by the Labour Government of 1949 - it is a sad thing for Australia that the official Opposition in this National Parliament, which hopes to be some day the Government, should spend all Of its time defending those people who are not only the enemies of the people of Australia but also the enemies of their own work mates.
The people of Australia have almost become impatient with the efforts that have been made by this Government by every method in its power to overcome the problems on the waterfront. The Minister spoke of patience. The people’s patience has been so great that all Australians, I think, are now saying that the time for patience is past. Action is needed and this Bill embodies the only action that can satisfactorily overcome the problem. So much has been said about the Bill and so much interest has been expressed in it that I went to the trouble of reading all of the speeches made in another place that I did not hear - I heard most of them - in an effort to find what grounds there could possibly be for the Labour Party, which has been’ a great party in Australia, to oppose this measure. I examined the Bill most carefully. I studied the Devlin report; I studied every other report I could get hold of; I studied the previous Bill and I studied speeches made in 1956 and on previous occasions, but I still could not find any justification whatsoever for opposition to the Bill.
I then tried to examine it from another point of view. I asked: Is opposition to the Bill in the interests of the economy of Australia? It is known to all of us that the one common denominator that applies to the cost of every industry is transport. Transport cost is one of the heaviest expenses associated with our industrial life. We complain about overseas shipping freights and many of the transport costs that industry is compelled to bear. Because of the turmoil and turbulence that exist on the waterfront, those costs have been doubled and doubled yet again. Of course we complain about overseas freight costs. Every time the port of Sydney or the port of Melbourne is tied up for one day the cost to the shipping companies is between £40,000 and £50,000. This occurs almost weekly. It is not reasonable to expect any company or any group of companies to carry the continuous cost that is loaded on to them as a result of these regular hold-ups on the wharves and not to increase shipping freights. These hold-ups form the basis of the increases that have been imposed on us.
I recall quite clearly that before the last war it was generally recognised that our coastal ships spent one day in port for every two days at sea. That was regarded as a proper basis for the economic conduct of a coastal shipping service. After the war the pattern changed to two days in port for every day at sea. It does not take a mathematician to determine that such a change naturally increases the cost of shipping transport out of all reason. Later still the pattern changed to three days in port for every day at sea. So the costs of our shipping service rose beyond all bounds and today we have not a coastal shipping service that is worthy of the name. That is because since the end of the war we have been at the mercy of the Communists who have been in control of the Waterside Workers Federation. There is not a man, woman or child in Australia who is not being called upon to meet greater expense because of the activities of a handful of men who are disorganising the waterfront. So nobody can say that this Bill is opposed to the interests of the people of Australia or the economy of the nation.
In the course of my study I considered whether by any stretch of the imagination this legislation could be regarded as being’ an attack on the principles of unionism. Some members of the Opposition are trying to persuade themselves that it is. This legislation is not an attack on the principles of unionism. It- is quite the reverse. The Communists who are in control of the Waterside Workers Federation time and time again have broken the rules of their organisation and have acted in direct opposition to the instructions of the Australian Council of Trade Unions.
– Has the honorable senator ever been a member of a union?
– Yes, I have.
– What principles of unionism does the honorable senator know about?
– We wil] go into this afterwards. I know a fair bit about the principles of unionism. It is a great pity that some of the gentlemen on the other side of the chamber do not emphasise the word “ principles “ as much as they do the word “ unionism “. If they did, they would be of greater value to their unions than they are at the present time.
Let me take the matter a step further. Will this legislation hurt the interests of the rank and file of the Waterside Workers Federation? I am reinforced by my reading of the Devlin report when I say, Mr. President, that I am quite certain that the overwhelming majority of the members of the Federation are as sick and tired of the industrial turmoil that exists within their organisation as are you and I. They do not want to be called out day after day, week after week, on these interminable strikes and stopwork meetings. They are not built that way. They want to get on with the job. But they are not able to do so because of the people who are in control of the Federation. This Bill is certainly not against the interests of the rank and file wharf labourers. It is very much in their favour. I do not believe that they want to have their own organisation branded as one which it is easy for members of the criminal section of the community to enter. I am sure that they do not want that. I believe that they will welcome very warmly the opportunity to have this aspect of their organisation cleaned up.
When I examine this matter still further I ask myself this question: Is there anything in the Bill that is disadvantageous to the principles of arbitration? I do not think it is possible to get anything that is more disadvantageous to the principles of arbitration than what has been said by this man Docker, who is a spokesman for the Federation. I repeat a statement that has been quoted before. He said -
There is no future in the Arbitration Commission as far as wages are concerned. Anyone who suggests we should arbitrate is either a fool or is misleading the workers. We are fighting the Government on these matters.
What an attitude of mind for a leader of a union to adopt. He says: “ There is no future in the Arbitration Commission.” This is the very system on which we have based the whole of our industrial life. I believe that the arbitration system has brought the greatest possible advantages to members of unions in Australia. It is a tragedy that within our community the number of people who apparently are doing their best to break down the principles of arbitration for which their forefathers fought and worked untiringly, is growing. I believe that this Bill will do a great deal to uphold the principles of arbitration. In recognising that, I repeat that it is incomprehensible to me that members of the Australian Labour Party, who in the past have been supporters of arbitration, on this occasion should have allowed themselves to be engineered into being the spokesmen for a handful of Communists against the principle of arbitration which surely has been and always should be dear to them, as it is to us.
Let me summarise my beliefs in respect of this Bill in this way: This Bill, when it becomes law, will protect the Australian people and the Australian economy in that it will prevent the constant increases in costs that we are experiencing as a result of the activities of the turbulent people within this industry. I believe that, in fact, this Bill defends the principle of arbitration. I believe that it supports the rule of law in union government. Surely that should be dear to members of the Australian Labour Party, although, on their performance in the last week, apparently it has ceased to be dear to them. I believe that it protects the rank and file wharf labourers. I believe that they will welcome this Bill as much as we do. But most of all, I believe that the Bill will outlaw the anarchy which the Communists within our midst are creating. Not only are they trying to strangle the economic life from Australia - they boast about their efforts and make no secret of them - but they are also trying to interfere with and dictate to the sovereign Government of this country in relation to its internal and external policies at a time when every person in Australia who does any thinking at all realises that we are in a situation of extreme gravity.
Let us not think that this is a characteristic of the Communists which has just developed. I well recall during the Second World War the same kind of thing becoming very prevalent within union circles. Indeed, I can remember occasions when Australian troops who were fighting overseas were deprived of ordinary foodstuffs and requirements of various kinds because the waterside workers, who at that time also were dominated by the Communist element, refused to load the material that was required by the troops. A similar situation exists today.
I am profoundly certain that the people of Australia want this legislation. Indeed, I am profoundly certain that the people of Australia are asking: “How much longer are these Communists who are in control of our waterfront to dominate the scene within Australia?” If something, is not done about this, the people of Australia will be very sad. I am satisfied that 99 per cent, of them support this legislation, and so do I.
– I rise to enter this debate as one who has been a financial member of a trade union from the time I left school. I recollect that on the first pay day that I enjoyed in the first job that I occupied, for which I was receiving the princely salary of £48 a year, I proffered my union subscription although there was no such thing in those days as compulsory unionism and, being a junior, I was not expected to contribute anything. Furthermore, I can speak as one who has a real and sincere recognition and appreciation of the contribution that the trade union movement has made to our society over the years.
– It has been very substantial.
– Yes. It has been very substantial. I suppose that my knowledge of its contribution extends over a longer period than does that of the honorable senator. The trade union movement has contributed much. It has won a great measure of justice in the field of salaries, wages and working conditions. It has contributed much towards the preservation of industrial harmony which is indispensable to the success of trade and commerce and the general conduct of our society. The trade union movement will continue to contribute much, provided that those who control it are sane and sensible, not necessarily tame cat leaders, but men who have an appreciation of Australian ideals and aspirations and who recognise that they have in this country a system of conciliation and arbitration unequalled in any other country. There are conciliation commissioners for almost every trade and calling and most of them have graduated from the trade union movement. They should recognise the futility of all the tribunals - the arbitration courts and commissions - that are available if they are not prepared to respect their decisions. They know that strikes can be justified only after all constitutional avenues have been pursued, and only then.
The sane and responsible union leader recognises that strikes hurt most of all the members of the union and the public in general. Does a transport strike affect the rich man with the big Cadillac? No. The man who is affected is the worker who depends on the tram, the bus and the train to get to his place of employment. It is he who, in many cases, is prevented from going to his place of employment and who sacrifices a day’s wages because of a 24-hour strike by the transport industry. Trade union leaders have a great responsibility. I believe, and I think the general public believes, that with few exceptions they have accepted that responsibility and discharged their duties by directing their unions very satisfactorily. Arbitration is the creation of Labour. Arbitration, like all man-made organisations or institutions, is not perfect. But it has contributed much to the harmony that has existed in industry in Australia, and I believe that the tribunals which have been charged with judicial duties have had a proper recognition of and regard for the merits of claims that have come before them. 1 believe that every one of us who subscribes to arbitration has a duty to defend it and to see that it is respected as an institution of democracy, an institution which has been established to dispense justice in the field of industry. I believe that it is patent to any one of us that, of recent times, there has been a designed and concentrated campaign which has had for its purpose the destruction or the undermining of arbitration in this country. The major contributors to that campaign have been unions which are in the control of Communists, and chief among them, I believe, is the Waterside Workers Federation.
The legislation with which we are now dealing has been examined and dealt with very minutely by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), by Senator Wright, Senator Cohen and others. I do not propose to go into the legal aspects of the Bill so much as to deal with the indisputable and undeniable stark facts which are associated with the waterfront industry and which have made this legislation necessary. The Waterside Workers Federation has consistently shown contempt for the arbitration system. It has called strikes and stop work meetings in an effort to help its claims and it has held strikes when claims have been disputed and rejected. All this has been done in defiance of provisions in the award laying down means of settling disputes. It has called stoppages on issues that it has not submitted to the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority or the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. In short, this organisation, which is controlled predominantly by Communists, acknowledges no law and holds our industrial courts and commissions in contempt. Yet some people wonder why this Government is required to resort to legislative action to discipline this union and to cause it to have some respect for our arbitration system.
– It has improved the conditions of its members.
– It may have improved the conditions of its members as the honorable senator suggests, but this has been done at great cost to the Australian people, who, as a consequence of the increased costs in this section of our transport system, have had to pay more for the commodities they buy and therefore find that their cost of living has risen. I repeat, Mr. President,’ that each and every one of us who subscribe to arbitration has an obligation to maintain and protect our arbitration system. I believe that every decent unionist wants us to do what we can to preserve our arbitration’ system. Decent unionists recognise that the alternative to the preservation of our system of arbitration is a return to the law of the jungle, under which decent members of the unions would not survive.
This whole matter, I believe, may be reduced to one simple question: Who is to govern - the elected representatives of the people or a coterie of irresponsible union leaders who are power drunk and who have no regard for constitutional authority or for the institutions of our democracy? Indeed, these are people who have no regard for the Australian way of life and who subscribe to ideologies that are completely foreign to the Australian outlook. I say that the elected representatives of the people would be recreant to their trust if they permitted this state of affairs to continue. This measure does not represent an attack on the trade union movement. As I see the situation, this Bill represents an attempt to discipline a section of the trade union movement which has shown its utter contempt for our arbitration system and which has despised and rejected out of hand all the decisions and advice that have issued from our industrial tribunals. I repeat: This cannot be allowed to continue.
I sympathise with members of the Australian Labour Party, many of whom, I know, have. not been happy with the performance of the waterside workers. I know also that the Australian Council of Trade Unions has been embarrassed by the conduct of the waterside workers’ union, and I have heard it said, too, that the Council has not been able to rely on the word of officials of the union when representatives of the two organisations have met in conference on many of the issues that have characterised the continuing trouble.
– Who said that? The honorable senator ought not to make an accusation without supporting it.
– I am prepared to support anything I say here or outside this place, and my reputation will bear witness to that. I have never had occasion to run away from anything or anybody. I say, Mr. President, that the Government has an obligation to protect its democratic institutions, and that those who flagrantly and blatantly disobey the rule of law must he dealt with if we are going to preserve our arbitration system and our industrial law as we know it.
It would appear that in these matters the last people to be considered are the members of the community. We hear the point of view of the employers and we hear the point of view of the unions, but how often do we have the community’s point of view put forward? It is the community that suffers most as a result of these industrial stoppages. It is the community - and when I speak of the community I remind honorable senators that at least 80 per cent. of the members of the community belong to the working class - that suffers as a result of this industrial anarchy. I use that phrase advisedly because I believe that no responsible democrat in this country would knowingly be a party to a campaign such as we have seen waged over a long period by the waterside workers. I say very definitely that the waterside workers - and when I speak of waterside workers I mean chiefly their officials - have given the community no quarter or consideration, and they have merited the measure of discipline and control which is embodied in this Bill and which I believe will be for the national good.
What is it that causes members of Parliament to change their opinions and attitudes according to the side of the Parliament on which they sit? If they are members of the Government, or of the Government parties, they are prepared to take a responsible attitude, but when in Opposition they attempt to justify the unruly and defiant section of the community and dodge their responsibilities. In 1949 Australia experienced an almost identical campaign of industrial anarchy on the coalfields of this country and it was necessary for the Labour Government, with the late Mr. Chifley as Prime Minister, to take appropriate and drastic action to bring the union and its members into line. It was necessary’ for the Government of the day to do something which was foreign to a Labour Government.
– It did not deregister the union.
– It had to pull the union and its members into gear in the interests of the community, and if it had not done so it would have been recreant to its trust and despised by the people of Australia. But let us see what was said by the leaders of the Australian Labour Party when a situation existed on the coalfields similar to that which exists today on the waterfront. This is what the Prime Minister of the day, the late Mr. Chifley, said -
In this instance the miners’ federation and other unions comprising what is known as the Combined Mining Unions Council have decided … to endeavour to enforce the granting of their claims by a brutal attackon the necessaries of life of the community and upon the arbitration system . . . there is an arbitration authority that is vested with complete power to deal with miners’ grievances and to decide whether or not there is merit in them . . . that tribunal is the only body that is going to deal with the miners’ claims, no matter what the miners may do or what threats against the community they may make. That is where the matter has got to be settled. That is the policy of the country and of this Parliament. It is certainly the policy of the Labour Party that conciliation and arbitration must be the method by which industrial disputes shall be settled.
Further on he said -
I have had some experience of the industrial world, and I know that prosecutions have never solved industrial difficulties.
Later on he said -
The Australian Government . . . take tha attitude that the Coal Industry Tribunal has been appointed to deal with such claims, and that the miners are entirely wrong in acting as they are doing and are showing a callous disregard for their fellow citizens’ rights when they do not approach the proper tribunal to have those wrongs, if they are wrongs, rectified.
Then he said that the Government - . . has provided a tribunal to determine those claims, and, as far as the Government is concerned, that is the only tribunal which will make any determination on those matters. I hope that the miners will realise that the proper way in which they should seek the redress of their grievances, if they are grievances, is to approach the Coal Industry Tribunal. I believe that, ultimately, common sense and some consideration for the community will cause them to follow that course.
This is exactly what we are saying today with regard to the waterside workers and their repeated stoppages to try and enforce their claims. This is what the present leader of the Australian Labour Party had to say on that occasion -
The miners must either go back to arbitration or else take the responsibility of declaring war on the community.
– Did Mr. Calwell say this?
– Yes. He continued -
The Government will make no effort to compromise with them. It will do nothing by which they may be- eased out of the position which they themselves have deliberately chosen. Under the dictatorship of the Communists in their union they have decided to hold this community to ransom at the most difficult period of the year.
– That was a complete stoppage.
– In the case of the waterside workers there has been a repetition of complete stoppages. There has been not one stoppage but many stoppages over a long time. Then Mr. Calwell had this to say -
Every one knows that this is not an industrial trouble in the real sense of the word. It is an attempt by the Communist Party to exploit the situation of. the miners for the purpose of destroying this Government, if possible, and of demonstrating to the miners and others that they have a blackmailing power which, if used sufficiently ruthlessly, can bring success to the Communist cause.
Further on he said -
This Government knows the feelings of the Average trade unionist throughout Australia. It knows that he is sick and tired of the Communist section - the majority section - of the miners’ leaders.
Later on in the debate he said - lt became evident that the Communist’ Party, through the members of the miners* federation who are Communists, .was determined to force an issue in the depth of winter and cause the maximum inconvenience to the Australian people. . . It was all a part of a plan, although we did not know it then, to force upon the Australian people a strike that has no association with the working conditions of the miners, the majority of whose leaders are Communists.
The miners are on strike because they have rejected arbitration. That is the essential fact. They have been misled by the Communist section of their leaders into believing that direct action is a substitute for arbitration. The Australian Government says that direct action is not a substitute for arbitration.
– What does the honorable senator think made him change his mind?
– I opened up this phase of my speech by asking the question: What is it that makes a man change his mind and attitude when he sits on the opposite side of the House? The same gentleman had this to say -
Having persuaded the miners to accept that form of conciliation and arbitration, their leaders now ask them to forsake it in favour of direct action. They ask them to adopt direct action at the expense of their fellow-unionists and the community generally. Well, the Australian Labour Party repudiates- the whole of that manoeuvre. . . All that goes to show that the Communist section of the miners’ leaders is not at all interested in securing improvements in the coal industry but is anxious to get control of the industry so that, when the time seems propitious, they will be able to carry out the dictates of the Cominform. The aim of the Cominform is tq make the nations allied to the western democracies weaker in production.
Just to change the record, let us examine what Mr. Beazley had to say - and Mr. Beazley is generally recognised as a wellbalanced member of the Parliament. Mr. Beazley said -
For the last three years the Communist Party has systematically derided the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. It has systematically derided the judges of that court. It has derided any trade union secretary who stands for arbitration. Having started off with the doctrine that arbitration must be discredited, it has, when, necessary, invented facts to help its campaign.
Honorable senators will be interested to hear what Senator McKenna said on that occasion. I am sure he knew that I would not leave him out: He might have been hurt had I done so. He said -
The strike should never have occurred and it would not have taken place but for the activity of the Communist element in certain of the unions concerned. That element has, T regret to say, misled the members of the unions concerned into believing that they are embarking on a battle in defence of an important industrial principle. The only important industrial principle involved is that industrial disputes must be settled by conciliation and arbitration.
Last but not least let me refer to what Senator Tangney had to say. She made a very concise statement with which I would have agreed at the time and with which I agree now.
This legislation must be enacted because one section of the community must not be . permitted to hold the rest of the community to ransom.
What a sound, sane’ and commonsense statement, expressing the situation in a nutshell. We can talk about the legalities of the measure, but when it- is reduced down it hinges on two principles. The first concerns changing the . recruitment machinery. Formerly- at present, the Bill not having been passed yet - the Federation has had and has the- privilege and- concession of selecting labour.
– It has not.
– Of nominating Abour
– Of nominating labour which, in effect, is much the same. If a man is out of favour with the officials of the Federation he is not nominated. If the officials suspect that a man is not a left winger or a Communist he is not nominated, or not as frequently as is a friendly ally. The second question involved relates to deregistration. I can see no cause for members of the Federation to be concerned if they conduct their union on lines similar to other trade unions and respect our industrial courts and commissions. They have nothing to fear if they behave themselves and do the fair thing. No-one wants them to give up their militancy. Unionism without militancy might as well be dead or nonexistent.
– Unions in the A.C.T.U. have been fined.
– If unions do not respect the decisions of the court they deserve to be penalised. They are required to observe the decisions of our civil courts, so why should they not observe the decisions of our industrial courts? The records show that the number of man hours lost in other industries is infinitesimal compared with the number lost on the waterfront. My only complaint about the Bill is that its introduction has been so long delayed. There is an old Scottish saying that if you must grasp a nettle, grasp it firmly and it will not hurt you. That saying is worth heeding.
The Government has gained nothing by deferring this legislation. By introducing the legislation the Government will win the respect of the people, most of whom are fed up to the back teeth with what has been going on on the waterfront. They have been wondering when the Government would take some positive action.
– On the waterfront.
– On the waterfront. The working class people in the community recognise the lawlessness that exists on the waterfront and the need for some action.
– How did the honorable senator cure the trouble in Queensland?
– It is not cured. Apparently Senator Ormonde is not up to date with his industrial history. There is at present an illegal 24 hour strike in the railways. The people who will suffer most will be the workers who will not be able to get to work. They will be handicapped and disadvantaged.
– The honorable senators Government did not deregister the shearers when they were striking for their rights in Queensland.
– They went to the Arbitration Court finally, as they were told to do in the first place.
– Was the honorable senator ever on strike?
– I was. The only thing I remember about the strike is that we lost a week’s wages and gained nothing in return. Ultimately we had to go back to work and go to court, as we should have done in the first place.
– Did the honorable senator have the numbers?
– Of course, we had the numbers, but having the numbers did not make any difference in that case. It is a great pity and of grave concern to everyone that the waterside workers should be misled by Communists who believe that they can thumb their noses at the Government of this country. They must be told in no uncertain language that the time for action has arrived and that strife on the waterfront must not occur again. These people must be made to observe our arbitration system and to respect it.
As I said earlier, the issue is: Who is to govern Australia - the elected representatives of the people in this democracy or a coterie of irresponsible people in charge of a union?
– I strongly support the Bill because I recognise that the Government and the people of Australia have had enough of strikes and disruption on the waterfront over the last two or three years. As one who has taken an interest in the export of goods, particularly primary products, from this country, I commend the Government for introducing this legislation. I know what it means to all of us. I support Senator Gair’s remarks about Mr. Calwell, the present
Leader of the Labour Party, who, in referring to the Communists in 1949, said -
We will deal with the Communists even if we have to put them into concentration camps. Concentration camps are the only place for these people; if it is left for me to put them into concentration camps, they will go. This human scum seems to think they can .dictate the policy of the Government. We’ will ‘ use all the resources of the Commonwealth Government to smash them: We will use the Army, Navy arid Air Force on them, too, if necessary.
They were the words of the present Leader of the Opposition who today is not giving to this legislation the support which he should be giving it.
The Bill before the Senate is designed to uphold our arbitration system. That system needs altering and strengthening because the Waterside Workers Federation has chosen to disregard the decisions of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. All members of Parliament are sensitive to public opinion. If honorable senators opposite had visited country districts with me last week-end and talked to men of my acquaintance who support the Australian Labour Party, they would have discovered that those men fully support this measure. That is not to be wondered at, because the Bill affects every man woman and child in this country.
I believe that this legislation will receive the wide support that . it merits. All honorable senators are aware that the Waterside Workers Federation cannot be allowed to pursue its policy of holding the Australian people and the economy to ransom. One can understand the dilemma of members of the Opposition. Obviously they are seriously divided. If they support the actions of the Federation, they know they will be supporting something that is not worthy of support. To appease a section of the Labour movement, they must put up a’ token fight. That is what is happening in this Parliament at present. Like all members of the Parliament, I believe that there are good men . in the Waterside Workers Federation. The present situation exists only, because they, are led by Communists - I hope by only a handful of Communists.
In my view the . Government has bent over backwards, in the last few years in an attempt to rectify the position on the waterfront. The second reading speech of the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) included a list of attempts through conciliation and arbitration to bring about improved conditions on . the . waterfront. Numerous conferences have been held, culminating in the national conference in 1963 from which appeared, at that time, hope that there might be better things to come through the setting up of an industrial relations committee in each port. Perhaps it was the hope of the watersiders that some of the penalty clauses of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act might be removed. Those hopes have not been realised and the Federation has consistently shown contempt for the decisions and judgments of the Arbitration Commission. Recently the Woodward inquiry was begun. Again the Federation has shown its contempt by its failure to assist and co-operate in that inquiry.
I shall now read to the Senate some figures relating to stoppages on the waterfront and their effect on the economy of this country. In the five years ended 1964 an annual average of 770,000 man hours’ were lost, or 2.6 per cent, of the man hours worked. For the present year, up to about the end of June, approximately 1,100,000 man hours were lost. This represents between 3 and 4 per cent, of the man hours worked, or an increase oh the average of previous years of 70 per cent. All this shows the serious deterioriation in the position. If we look at the average days in port of vessels operating between Australia, the United Kingdom and the Continent, we find that for the combined loading and discharging in the five years ended 1963 the days in port were 39.3. In the next year, they had increased to 47.5, an increase of 8.2’ days. That is the time spent in the Australian ports. In the same period, the time spent in the United Kingdom and continental ports was 31.2 days. In 1964, the combined time in Australian, United Kingdom and continental .ports on both legs of the voyage was 81.7, which was an increase of 11.2 days. The 11 days oyer the average for the five years ended 1963 is Jost time and cost, Australian shipping £3 million a year. This must be debited against our economy and would reduce the value of exports and increase the cost of imports.
Let us look now at the tons per net gang hour. The tonnage of overseas general cargo discharged in Sydney in .1963 was 17.88 tons and in Melbourne 17.29 tons. In 1964, ft was 16.98 tons in Sydney and 16.79 tons in Melbourne, or a decrease of 5 per cent. over the 1963 figure. The same deterioration of loadings occurred with wool. In 1963, the tonnage per net gang hour loading wool in Sydney was 12.65 tons and in Melbourne 11.1 tons. In 1964, it had deteriorated to 12.02 tons in Sydney and 10.98 tons in Melbourne. This again was a deterioration of 5 per cent. in Sydney and 1 per cent. in Melbourne. The same situation is to be found with the handling of meat. In Melbourne, there was a fall of 6.7 per cent. and a fall of 9.9 per cent. in Brisbane. The figures for this year show a further deterioration. All of this, of course, increases the costs of primary producers and must have a vital effect on our economy generally.
We might ask why we have these stoppages and go slow tactics. Do the rates of pay cause these disturbances? The average gross earnings of waterside workers have risen from £10 14s. 8d. in 1949-50 to £27 14s. 5d. at present. The increase in industry generally, including waterside workers, is from £9 5s. in 1949-50 to £26 ls. at present. The waterside worker does not require any special qualifications to do his job but the fitter in industry must serve a term of apprenticeship and very often must attend a technical college and so on. In the circumstances, it must be agreed that, on the wages issue, the waterside worker is better off. Again, the men engaged in other industries in Australia work an average of 40 hours a week while a waterside worker works an average of only 30 hours a week.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Laught). - Order! In conformity with the Sessional Order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the negative.
– We might ask ourselves why we should be having all this trouble and this deliberate disruption on the waterfront. I believe that the reasons are mainly political; that the obstructive tactics are adopted by the Communists on the waterfront with a view to harming the economy and our system of government. It will be noted that the Communists have caused stoppages on the waterfront over many of the international issues that have arisen in the last 20 years. For example, there was the ban on Dutch shipping to Indonesia in 1948 which lasted for seven months. More recently we had the action of the Communists in connection with the steps taken by the United States of America in Cuba. The waterside workers held stoppages in support of Castro. The war in Vietnam has given rise to similar troubles. Clearly the general pattern of Communist activities on the waterfront has been to obstruct any action by this Government to uphold the democratic way of life in countries where. Communist influence is at work. In fact, whenever democratic peoples attempt to resist Communist infiltration the waterside workers support the action of the Communists.
I have referred to the effect on our cost structure of the slow turn round of ships. Honorable senators will be interested to know that wool buyers say that they can buy merino wool in South Africa at an advantage of1d. per lb. over Australian prices simply because in South Africa the turn round of ships ranks amongst the best in the world, whereas the turn round of ships in Australia is one of the worst in the world. I emphasise, also, that every penny per lb. of wool lost to Australia means a totalloss of £7 million, which is no small figure. It is a disgrace that our turn round of ships should be so bad as to place us at this tremendous disadvantage.
I have already mentioned that our primary producers provide-80 per cent. of our exports. It is tragic to think that at a time like this, when the country is troubled by drought, when we are facing intense competition from other countries producing products similar to ours, and when our overseas’ balances are declining, the waterside workers ‘ of Australia are unwilling to play their part in helping to hold up the economy. The fact’ that they are adopting their obstructive tactics is proof enough, that they have no desire to help support our economy. We cannot help but ask ourselves whether we, as a great trading nation which depends on exports, many of which are perishable, can afford to allow these disruptive tactics to continue.
I come now to something that is of great importance to everyone - the question of the right to strike. The Federation appears to think it has an inherent right to strike or engage in unauthorised stoppages. This has been evident over many years. It is an attitude with which I disagree strongly. In this connection I propose to read from the verbatim record of the proceedings in the basic wage case which was heard last autumn. I refer to the remarks of Mr. R. J. Hawke, who appeared for the unions, and Mr. Justice Gallagher. The record states -
Mr. Hawke: To my knowledge, it is not unconstitutional for a union to take strike action.
Gallagher J.: I disagree absolutely with you.
Mr. Hawke: The principles of the Trade Union Movement are clearly on record … as has always been regarded throughout the free world - the right to strike of the Trade Union Movement.
Gallagher J.: I put on record as a member of this Commission that I disagree with your submission entirely. I think there is no such right to strike and the .sooner that belief is abandoned the better for this country and the better for every working man in this country . . . Every time he strikes he loses money he never regains. Anything that workers have gained of any value over a period of years . . . they have gained by constitutional means . . . That is my considered conscientious belief . . . formed over a lot of experiences of difficult and turbulent industries … I do strongly condemn any attempt by the Trade Union Movement to condone the right to strike.
That is confirmed in the judgment of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission at pages 47 and 48. I ask honorable senators to take note that this particularly refers to the Waterside Workers Federation.
– The honorable senator should read also from the 1948 copies of Commonwealth “ Hansard “.
– I am dealing with the present. This is what the Commission has to say about the right to strike -
The Waterside Workers Federation have the same right as other citizens at the ballot box and in public discussions to influence such Government decisions. But it is a clear abuse of industrial power for them or their leaders to use their position in a key industry to seek to enforce their chosen foreign policy upon the community.
That is what the Federation has been doing. It has been trying to impose its chosen foreign policy upon the Government and the people of Australia. I am glad that the Government and the Minister for Labour and National Service have taken steps to correct this serious position. If we believe in arbitration we have to accept the decisions of the arbitration tribunals. A fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay is a very good principle but it is one which the Federation has not been prepared to adopt. The Government has been extraordinarily patient in this regard. Hundreds of thousands have suffered far more than the members of the Waterside Workers Federation because they have been denied a fair price for their exports. This has been happening for years.
– What about the ship owners and their freight charges?
– We are dealing with the waterside workers and they are the people responsible for these holdups. Our exports are affected every year, particularly in the autumn when we are exporting a big percentage pf perishable goods such as apples and meat. This is when industry trembles because it is fearful that the actions of the waterside workers will bring about lower prices than would otherwise be received. The main provision of this Bill which takes away from the Federation the power of recruitment and vests it in the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority is, in my judgment, a wise move. I believe it will bring about an improvement in all directions. I believe, secondly, that the provision which gives power of enforcement of the decisions of the tribunal, by de-registration of the Federation, will be helpful in ensuring that the Commission’s job is done thoroughly. I believe that this legislation is long overdue and that by means of it we will remedy a position that is now rapidly getting out of hand. I think everybody on this side of the House believes that in the long run the waterside workers will benefit from this legislation.
I am sure that most members of the Federation are loyal Australians and that they will benefit financially, and in every other way, from the legislation. In addition to that, I believe the present economic position demands this legislation; and the security of Australia demands it, because we cannot have a section or group of people attempting to disrupt our meeting of our defence requirements, as Senator Wright said. We cannot have a continuance of these disruptive tactics when we have our own men outside this country standing in defence of the things we hold so dear. The people demand that the Government should rectify the present position. I think it was Senator Gair who said that the Government has been elected to govern and I am sure that wc, on this side of the Senate, will see that it governs not only in the interests of the waterside workers but also in the interests of all the people of Australia.
– Let me make it very clear to Senator Bull that I oppose this legislation just as strongly as he supports it. I rise to support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) and to reply to Senator Bull who said, in his opening remarks, that he judged the Opposition on its attitude to the legislation. Let me assure him that the Opposition is in complete agreement in opposing such repressive legislation as this Bill. We have been united in our opposition to repressive legislation such as this ever since I have been in this chamber, and prior to my coming to this Parliament. In my opinion the Bill destroys the fundamental principle of the trade union movement. I have had some experience of that movement. I have been associated with it, on the industrial side, for over 40 years. My first union ticket was taken out over 40 years ago and, with the exception of a period during the depression years, I can show a union membership card for every year since the early 1920’s. So I think I have some experience on the industrial side. 1 have never agreed, in my 40 years of association with the trade union movement, to give away the principle of the right to strike, irrespective of what the judge had to say in the recent basic wage case. He gave as his opinion that it is not the right of the workers to strike. But I also have my opinion on this matter, and I claim that it is the right of the workers to strike. The worker has one commodity, and one com modity only, to sell. That is the work that he can produce with his two hands. Surely the worker is justly entitled to sell his labour on the best market he can possibly find on which to sell it. Senator Bull made mention of the wool industry. He said that a penny per lb. lost in the price of wool amounted to a loss of £7 million to the economy of Australia. Well, that may be so. I do not know. I have not stopped to reckon it out.
– Bull’s wool.
– It could be a lot of bull. I do not know. I thank the honorable senator for his interjection. If it is right for the woolgrower, or any other section of the community, to expect the highest price they can possibly get for their product, then it is right also for the worker to expect the most that he can get for his work.
– What has the price of wool to do with this matter?
– Perhaps Senator Scott would like to make his speech at some other time. If he will permit me to cany on with my speech, we will probably get along much better on that level. This legislation, to say the very least of it, is provocative and iniquitous. Let us forget whether we are dealing with the stevedoring industry or any other industry for the moment and let us look at the fundamental principles of the trade union movement. Anybody who has any feeling for workers in any industry cannot come to any conclusion other than that this is a most provocative and iniquitous piece of legislation.
– It is not as strong as the 1949 legislation which the Labor Government introduced.
– The honorable senator should keep quiet. I would go so far as to say that if I was working in an industry in relation to which legislation of this type was introduced by any government I would be one of the first in that industry to down tools and ask the men to follow me out on strike. I offer no excuse for making that statement. T would say that the waterside workers, in this instance, would have every justification for going out on a national stoppage in protest against this legislation.
– Did the honorable senator ever know me to make a statement inside or outside this House that was not sincere?
– We know that you are sincere.
– I asked the honorable senator whether he knew of a statement made by me which 1 did not make sincerely.
– I come now to the urgency associated with this legislation. What has happened to make the passing of this legislation so urgent? If there were a stoppage on the waterfront at the present time or if there were even a threatened stoppage of any magnitude on the waterfront today, one could possibly understand that there is some degree of urgency in this legislation. But is there a stoppage in existence? The answer is: “ No “. There is not a stoppage in existence at the present time. Is there any threat of a stoppage? There certainly is not the threat of a stoppage at the present time. So, why the urgency in relation to this matter? I am not one of those who quibbled about coming back this week. I did not mind coming back. Certainly, I had to make some re-arrangement of my programme, but that did not worry me unduly. There was not the urgency in this matter that the Government endeavoured to make the public believe there was. I say that because there was no stoppage and there was no threatened stoppage. So far as the industrial field is concerned, this Government stands condemned for the introduction of such anti-working class legislation.
It is very noticeable that the second reading speech delivered in this chamber today and the second reading speech delivered in another place were quite different in a number of passages. Senator McKenna very rightly pointed out to this chamber the difference that there was in the two speeches. I quote from the second reading speech delivered in another place by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon). At page 1253 of “Hansard”, he is reported to have said - lt is a Bill prepared after a great deal of careful deliberation by the Government, and after full consideration of possible alternatives. It represents the Government’s considered conclusions after studying the activities of the Federation over the last 20 years and reviewing all that the Government has attempted in the past.
As has been pointed out this evening, in that period of 20 years in which the Government has made a study of the Waterside Workers Federation the Government has been in office for approximately 16 years. In that 16 years it has made some attempts, certainly, to bring the Waterside Workers Federation to the position which it considers an industrial organisation should occupy, lt has done this by the introduction of amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act and through the Crimes Act. None of these efforts of the Government has brought about the result which it desired to bring about. As I said a few moments ago, this Government has been in office almost 1 6 years of that 20 year period and one can arrive at one of two conclusions on this particular issue. Either, during the 16 years that the Government has been in office it has done nothing to create harmony on the waterfront, or all it has done has been to precipitate industrial upheaval. The Government cannot have it both ways. Either it has been lax in the introduction of such industrial legislation previously or, alternatively, it has not cared.
I should say that 4he Government on this particular occasion has introduced this legislation at the behest of the employers on the waterfront. I say that in view of the fact that only a few years ago there was a move by the Tasmanian Labour Government to introduce long service leave for waterside workers in Tasmania. No penalties were provided for loss of time through industrial stoppages or anything of that nature. The New South Wales Government contemplated introducing similar legislation. Immediately the New South Wales Government indicated this the Commonwealth Government introduced a Bill to grant long service leave to waterside workers but included in the legislation all the pains and penalties which could be imposed. This action had the effect of completely defeating the intention of the Tasmanian Government regarding the introduction, .of long service leave and also of depriving the Labour Government of New South Wales, of the opportunity to introduce similar legislation in that State. It appears that this Commonwealth Government down the years has endeavoured to penalise waterside workers at every opportunity. . 1 have no doubt that this Bill will become an Act, because the Government has been assured of the support of another Party in this House, leaving only the members of the Australian Labour Party to oppose the legislation. When this Bill becomes an Act it will be only a first step towards setting up tame cat unions within Australia. I am quite satisfied that this move by the Government will not stop with the Waterside Workers Federation. There is another Sydney based union which will almost immediately be given attention.
– Which one is that?
– The honorable senator will have to draw his own conclusions. I am not going to name the union in this chamber. I will meet him outside and give him the name of the organisation but I will not mention it here.
– It may not be the same one as Senator McManus is thinking of.
– It could be. I do not know. But I feel that, on the first occasion this organisation is involved in an industrial dispute, it will be treated in the same manner as this Government intends to treat the Waterside Workers Federation. This legislation will have the effect of smashing the Waterside Workers Federation into a number of organisations. We will see, perhaps, different organisations operating in the various States and at various ports within them. That situation will be brought about deliberately by this Government in an attempt to smash the existing organisation.
It has been said during this debate, and in another place, that a number of waterside workers have criminal backgrounds. If there were a large number of criminals on the waterfront one would expect that the cancellations of registrations would be fairly high. I refer honorable senators to the annual report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority for the year ended 30th June 1963. On page 138 a report appears on disciplinary action taken against registered waterside workers and the number of cancellations of registrations for the year ended 30th June 1963. Cancellations in all Australian ports totalled 140. Let me now break the figures down under the various headings of causes for which cancellations were made in the various ports. In Sydney there were 14 cancellations for theft and three for abuse and/or assault. Most concellations of registration were made because men were not following the industry.
I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
(Question No. 555.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice -
Which are the principal companies or persons, and what is the extent of their ownership or control of -
– -The Acting Minister for Trade and Industry has supplied the following answer - 1 and 2. There are about ISO manufacturers and distributors of pharmaceutical products in Australia, a number of which also market other items such as chemicals, insecticides, cosmetics and toiletries, veterinary products and household products. No single firm holds more than a small share of the total market for the industry’s products.
Because of the large number of firms and the lack of complete data about some of them at this time, it has not been possible to arrive at a reliable estimate of the extent of overseas ownership of the industry. The information so far available does suggest, however, that most of the principal manufacturers in Australia were’ established as wholly owned subsidiaries of overseas companies. Without a detailed knowledge of the arrangements which exist between each Australian company and its overseas associates, it is not possible to arrive at definite conclusions about the extent of overseas control of the manufacturing sector.
Disregarding the small number of manufacturers involved in direct distribution to retail outlets, the wholesale section of the industry is virtually in the hands of a few Australian owned companies. These are Drug Houses of Australia Ltd., Sigma Company Ltd., F. H. Faulding & Co. Ltd., and the Wholesale Drug. Co. Ltd. These wholesalers also manufacture pharmaceuticals and associated products.
The following table shows the known principal manufacturers of pharmaceutical products in Australia, the extent of ordinary capital held by overseas companies, and the total assets of the firms.
The percentage of ordinary capital held by overseas companies and the total assets figures have been provided in most cases by the Australian companies for publication in the “Directory of Overseas Investment in Australian Manufacturing
Industry “, which is to be published early in 1966. Where the assets figure has not been available from this source, it has been taken from the company’s balance sheet as for the balancing date shown.
It should be noted that although the percentage of equity capital held by overseas companies is shown in some cases as nil, this does not exclude the possibility that there may be small holdings of the company’s shares by overseas residents.
(Question No. 556.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice -
Which are the principal companies or persons, and what is the extent of their ownership or control of -
– The Acting Minister for Trade and Industry has supplied the following answer -
The industrial gas industry is composed of a relatively small number of firms which produce industrial gases as their principal manufacturing activity, and a much larger number which produce industrial gases as one aspect, sometimes a minor aspect, of their total manufacturing operations.
It has proved impossible to obtain all the information needed to make an estimate of overseas ownership of the latter group, particularly because it is not generally practicable to isolate the value of a firm’s assets used in the manufacture and distribution of industrial gases from assets used for other purposes. Gas manufactured from coal has been excluded also because a large part is used for domestic purposes. Thus for the purpose of this estimate, we have considered only those firms which produce industrial gases as their principal activity, other than gas made from coal.
The percentage holding by overseas companies and the total assets of the firms have been derived from figures provided by firms for publication in the “Directory of Overseas Investment in Australian Manufacturing Industry “, which is to be published early in 1966.
The major firms which manufacture and distribute industrial gases as defined, the percentage holdings in these firms by overseas companies, the total assets of the firms, and the names of the overseas companies owning these assets are listed below. It is not possible, of course, to arrive at definite conclusions about the extent of overseas control from this without a detailed knowledge of the arrangements which exist between each Australian company and its overseas associates.
(Question No. 557.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice -
Which are the principal companies or persons, and what is the extent of their ownership or control of -
– The Acting Minister for Trade and Industry has supplied the following answer: - 1 and 2. At the present time, Australian Synthetic Rubber Co. Ltd. is the only producer of rubber in Australia. The company is owned and controlled by Mobil Petroleum Inc. (35 per cent.), Esso Standard Oil (Aust.) Ltd. (35 per cent.) and the Goodyear Tyre and Rubber Co. Australia Ltd. (30 per cent.) These companies are subsidiaries of companies incorporated in the United States.
The synthetic rubber is made principally from butadiene and styrene, which are produced at the Altona petrochemical complex. The butadiene is produced by Altona Petrochemical Co. Pty. Ltd., which is 50 per cent, owned by Esso Standard Oil (Australia) Ltd. (a wholly owned subsidiary of Standard Oil Co. (New Jersey) ), and 50 per cent, by Mobil Oil Australia Ltd. (wholly owned subsidiary of Mobil Petroleum Co. Inc., which is a subsidiary of Socony Mobil Oil Co. Inc., (U.S.A.)). The styrene is produced by C.S.R.C.- Dow Pty. Ltd. which is 50 per cent, owned by Dow Chemical International A.G. of Switzerland (a subsidiary of Dow Corporation, U.S.A.) and SO per cent, by C.S.R. Chemicals Pty. Ltd. (which is 40 per cent, owned by D.C.L. Holdings (Aust.) Pty. Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of The Distillers Company Ltd. of Scotland).
The Altona petrochemical complex uses gases and liquids obtained from the Altona petroleum refinery as its basic raw materials. The crude oils used in the refinery are of course mainly imported.
A second plant to produce synthetic rubber is at present being’ constructed at Kurnell, New South Wales, by Phillips Imperial Chemicals Ltd. This plant is scheduled to commence production towards the end of 1966. Butadiene will be obtained from the I.C.I.A.N.Z. aromatic oil-cracking plant, and styrene will be procured’ locally.
Phillips Imperial Chemicals Ltd. is owned SO per cent. by Phillips Petroleum Company (U.S.A) and SO per cent. by Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Ltd. (which is 62 per cent. owned by Imperial Chemicals Industries Ltd. (Britain).
(Question No. 98.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following answers - 1. (a) Tin mining began in Australia on a substantial scale in the early 1870’s. Since 1872, about 475,000 tons of tin have been produced, in about 680,000 tons of concentrates.
Records of overseas trade in tin have been kept only since 1903. In the period 1903- 1964, 130,320 tons of tin were exported - 28,414 tons in concentrates and 101,906 tons as ingot. It is estimated that in the period before 1903, 215,000 tons of tin were exported, making total exports of 345,000 tons since mining began.
(Question No. 596.)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The Acting Treasurer has supplied the following answer - 1 and 2. I refer the honorable senator to the statement made by the Treasurer to the House of Representatives on13thMay1965, following his discussions in Washington and New York. In that statement, the Treasurer discussed, inter alia, the Government’s attitude towards access by overseas businesses operating in Australia to the Australian capital market.
(Question No. 603.)
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
Is Qantas Empire Airways Ltd. to include Belgrade on the Australia-United Kingdom route via Singapore?
– I now provide the following answer -
Qantas Empire Airways Ltd. has no plan at the present time to include Belgrade as a point of call on its services on the Australia-United Kingdom route via Singapore. The matter of adding new traffic points on Qantas services is under continual review by the company.
(Question No. 626.)
Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
With reference to the operation of unprofitable air services in remote and isolated areas of Aus-. tralia, will the Minister give to the Senate information on the Stanton inquiry, relating to Connellan Airways, and particularly to aspects of charter work?
– I now provide the following answer:-
In 1964 the Government established an interdepartmental committee to examine the operations of Connellan Airways Ltd. and its financial aspects so that the Government would have a comprehensive picture of the measure and forms of support necessary to ensure the company’s viability.
The committee, consisting of representatives of the Departments of the Treasury, Civil Aviation, and Territories, and the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, recently presented its report. Among other things, the committee recommended the continuation of subsidy arrangements and that the company be required to transfer its base from the Alice Springs’ Townsite ‘ aerodrome to the main 7-mile airport. The Government has accepted the committee’s recommendations and a new ten-year contract will shortly be negotiated with the company.
Charter services in all parts of Australia are conducted without financial assistance from the Commonwealth, and this applies to all operators, including Connellan Airways Ltd. Indeed, the company’s charter flights, which are conducted on a proper commercial basis, provide a net beneficial contribution to overall financial results.
(Question No. 580.)
asked the Minister rep resenting the Minister for Health, upon notice -
Will the Minister for Health, during his proposed attendance overseas at the Commonwealth Medical Conference, and in discussions with health authorities at various European centres, investigate the oxygen therapy for arteriosclerosis, developed by Dr. Moller of Germany? ‘
– The Acting Minister for Health has furnished the following reply. -
Dr. Moller’s oxygen therapy for arteriosclerosis has already been considered by eminent Australian University and medical authorities, who have concluded that there is no satisfactory evidence of any special value in this form of treatment.
In addition, a very senior and highly qualified physician in the Central Office of the Department of Health visited Dr. Moller’s clinic in Kassel in July1965, with the Department’s senior medical officer stationed in Germany, to discuss and study this form of treatment. The outcome of this investigation is confirmation of the previous opinion that the efficacy of Dr. Moller’s treatment for peripheral arteriosclerosis is not proven:
Although it may be of some value in certain cases, there is no available evidence to indicate that this form of treatment is in any way superior to other, more orthodox, forms of treatment.
The Minister for Health will not be in Germany during his current overseas visit, and he has made no plans to discuss Dr. Moller’s treatment with European health authorities.
(Question No. 587.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Acting Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: -
The National Health and Medical Research Council works closely with the National Heart Foundation and other large organisations supporting medical research, in order to prevent duplication of research projects.
(Question No. 604.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
What are the particulars of original scripts rejected by the Commonwealth Director-General of Health as contravening the code prepared by the National Health and Medical Research Council for the guidance of television and radio medical advertisers, and referred to at page 21 of the Report of the Director-General of Health for 1964-65?
– The Acting Minister for Health has furnished the following reply -
Twenty-five original radio and television scripts were rejected by the Director-General of Health during 1964-65.
The majority of these scripts were rejected because they referred to diseases listed as “ prohibited “ in the National Health and Medical Research Council’s Guide for Manufacturers and Advertisers. This is a comprehensive list of diseases such as arthritis, cancer, epilepsy, tuberculosis and venereal disease, which can only be satisfactorily treated by the medical profession.
Most of the remainder were rejected because of extravagant claims that could not be scientifically substantiated.
(Question No. 606.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
What hospital contribution funds are referred to in the statement at page 11 of the Report of the
Director-General of Health for 1964-65, where it comments on the existence of undesirable features in some funds?
– The Acting Minister for Health has furnished the following reply -
The Director-General’s Report referred to undesirable features in the operation 61 the Special Accounts provisions of the National Health Act and not to the existence of undesirable features in some funds as the honorable senator suggests. What the Director-General of Health said (at page 11) was - “During 1963 the Commonwealth Health Insurance Council examined the effects which the Special Accounts’ system had produced on the operations of the registered hospital benefit organisations and on the individual contributors. It concluded that some of the original Special Account provisions contained undesirable features which had reacted to the disadvantage of individual contributors and recommended certain changes which would correct this situation and which would enable the organisations to provide more satisfactory benefits in these cases.”
The undesirable features referred to were those provisions in the National Health Act which required that, where a hospital benefit organisation operated a Special Account -
all contributors over 65 years of age must be transferred to the Special Account; and
a Special Account contributor’scombined benefits must not exceed the gross fees and extra charges charged by the hospital.
(Question No. 607.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
Who are the members of -
Is the Registration Committee referred to at page 13 of the Report of the Director-General of Health for 1964-65 a sub-committee of the Commonwealth Health Insurance Council; if not, who are the members of it?
– The Acting Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: -
The Commonwealth Health Insurance Council is a committee established by the Minister for Health under section 136 of the National Health Act. The Council comprises the Director-General of Health - as Chairman - a representative of the Australian Medical Association and eleven representatives of registered medical and hospital benefits funds.
The New South Wales Medical Services Committee of Inquiry is established by the Minister for Health under section 110 of the National Health Act. It comprises the Commonwealth Director of Health for New South Wales and four medical practitioners appointed by the Minister from medical practitioners nominated by the New South Wales Branch Council of the Australian Medical Association.
The Registration Committee is not a subcommittee of the Commonwealth Health Insurance Council. It is a statutory committee established by section 70 of the National Health Act and comprises the Commonwealth Actuary and two officers of the Department of Health appointed by the Director-General of Health.
Motion (by Senator Henty) agreed to-
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till tomorrow at 10.30 a.m.
Senate adjourned at 11.32 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 5 October 1965, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1965/19651005_senate_25_s29/>.