25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 1 1 a.m., and read prayers.
– I preface a question, which I direct to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, by saying that I have received a complaint from Australians that Australian woollen goods are unavailable in Canada. Inquiries revealed that the reasons were: First, the prices of Australian products were too high; secondly, fabrics were not the right type; thirdly, styles did not appeal; fourthly, manufacturers found it easier to sell in other countries. Does the- Minister consider the reasons outlined, particularly the fourth one, to be satisfactory? If he does not, will he make strong representations to the Australian woollen textile manufacturers to take a more active interest in the potentially valuable Canadian market?
– I certainly shall ask the Department of Trade and Industry to consult with the industry on this matter. I feel that the industry in Australia is a pretty live industry. It has made good progress and there is no question about the quality of the goods it produces; they are first class. Without any further information on the matter, I can make no additional comment, but I shall ask the Minister for Trade and Industry to inquire into the aspects that the honorable senator has raised.
– Can the
Minister representing the Minister for Defence explain the whole of the circumstances under which the well known Australian entertainer, Lucky Starr, and a dance band group went to Vietnam and entertained Australian troops serving in that area? Because it might be thought by the general public that no other artists have offered their services, is the Minister able to confirm that another well known Sydney television personality, Don Lane, has had an application in for some time to be allowed to proceed to Vietnam for the purpose of entertaining Australian servicemen? Is the Minister aware that other Australian artists and musicians, including the popular Australian artist, Bobby Limb, have stated that they, too, are anxious to offer their services in this regard? Mas the Minister been able to give consideration to the applications referred to, and when will he be in a position to announce whether the offer of the artists to render their services free of charge is to be accepted?
– I raised this matter with the Minister for the Army and he has furnished me with the following reply: The policy to be adopted on entertainers for our forces in South Vietnam has been under consideration. Such factors as the type of entertainment it would be possible to stage in view of the limited facilities at such places as Bien Hoa where most of our forces are located, the accommodation facilities, the measures necessary to ensure the safety of entertainers in a hazardous operational environment, and the need to co-ordinate Australian entertainment shows with those provided by the United States are being examined. The extent of transport facilities that can be made available also has to be determined. It has been possible to send some civilians on Service aircraft to operational areas up to recently but, with the priority loadings for service needs, air travel between Australia and South Vietnam cannot be provided by the Royal Australian Air Force at present and may not be available in the foreseeable future. I understand that the Services may be ableto supply some transport assistance within South Vietnam.
The representations made by Senator McClelland to the Minister for Defence were for a party of singers, including two girls. I am not yet in a position to say whether it would be possible for female entertainers to be sent to those operational areas in South Vietnam where our forces are stationed. This party also seeks Service air transport and, as I have mentioned, this is not available at present. The Australian male singer who visited South Vietnam last week was not sponsored by the Australian Services. He went there under a contract arranged privately by an Australian entrepreneur with a United States entertainment agency.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Because the Commonwealth Grants Commission in its reports has never indicated that an unfavourable budgetary adjustment has been made in respect of the subsidising by the Tasmanian Government of the shipping service between King Island and Tasmania, is it correct to assume that the amounts so expended by the Tasmanian Government are reimbursed to that Government through the agency of the Commonwealth Grants Commission? Would it be correct to say that such expenditure falls into the same category in Commonwealth and State financial relations as a considerably greater loss incurred by the Metropolitan Transport Trust in Hobart, Launceston and Burnie, which loss is reimbursed in a budgetary adjustment by the Commonwealth? If the subsidy on the King IslandTasmania shipping service is not wholly reimbursed to the Tasmanian Government, is part of that amount so expended refunded to the Tasmanian Government as a budgetary adjustment?
– It is true that, in determining the amount of the special grant recommended for payment to the Tasmanian Government, the Commonwealth Grants Commission has not, up to the present, made any adjustment to the budget results of the Tasmanian Government for the subsidy paid by that Government is respect of shipping services conducted between King Island and Tasmania. As regards the losses incurred by the Metropolitan Transport Trust which operates transport services in Hobart, Launceston and Burnie, it is true that, apart from a small unfavourable adjustment made in respect of losses incurred in 1959-60, the Commission has not since then adjusted, on this account, the budget results of Tasmania.
It should not be concluded from this, however, that the Tasmanian Government is being specifically reimbursed through the special grant for its expenditure on part or the whole of the shipping subsidies it now pays or in meeting losses incurred by the Metropolitan Transport Trust. The most that can be said is that in respect of any particular year, if the shipping subsidies were not paid or transport losses were not incurred, then the special grant paid to Tasmania would, other things being equal, be reduced by an equivalent amount. Of course, the same could be said for 4 number of other items of expenditure incurred by the Tasmanian Government.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. In planning for the new airport terminal at Tullamarine can consideration be given to the building of, or the reservation of an area for, a chapel for use by members of all religions who might be passing through or working at the airport?
– Already we have considered the provision of an area at Sydney for the purpose mentioned. I shall see that consideration is given to the provision of a similar facility at Tullamarine. The provision of such a facility must be on the understanding that it will be available to members of all religions who wish to use it.
– Will the Minister for Customs and Excise investigate the seeming lack of opportunity for the promotion of Tasmanian officers of his Department when positions in Tasmania for which they are fully qualified become vacant? Will the Minister investigate why such positions invariably are filled by applicants from mainland States, particularly the positions of collector, assistant collector and subcollector, to the exclusion of Tasmanians, thus causing frustration to the existing staff and discouraging others from seeking positions in the Department? Will he please inform me of the result of his investigations?
– Yes, I shall look at the matters raised by the honorable senator and will communicate the result to him in due course. I should like to point out to him that in the Public Service positions are graded and there has to be a normal progression through the grades. For example, a collector of customs is in a certain grade and when he is relieved the new appointee must come from an appropriate grading within the establishment. Speaking generally, if a collector were to be appointed in Tasmania, there would not be anybody in the Tasmanian division of the Department who would qualify in terms of grading to take the position. There is another general aspect of this matter also to which we must have regard: I am sure all honorable senators recognise that in the higher echelons of a big department such as the Department of Customs and Excise, it is necessary and desirable that there should be a movement of officers in all fields and indeed into all States. Officers then do not become insular or narrow. They are given wide experience for the big and heavy responsibilities they have to undertake ultimately. However, I shall be happy to answer the honorable senator’s question in more detail.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. I remind the Minister that the estimates for the Postmaster-General’s Department will be submitted to this House within the next few days and I ask whether he can inform the Senate on any conclusions the Postmaster-General has reached on the recommendations of the Select Committee of the Senate which inquired into Australian productions for television?
– Senator Wright asked a question on this matter on 29th September and I have the following information from the Postmaster-General -
The Committee made its report on 29th October 1963. The Committee in its report and recommendations traversed a wide field in relation to television but the Postmaster-General emphasises that its specific purpose was to consider the encouragement of the production of Australian television programmes. This subject has been receiving the special attention of the Postmaster-General for some time. There are very difficult questions of policy which arise for consideration in connection with the recommendations on Australian television productions. The Minister has previously indicated that when his examination of the matter is completed, he proposes to place the whole question of Australian productions for television before the Government. The Minister adds that the recommendations of the Committee on other matters have received some examination and the study of them is continuing.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services. Has the attention of the Minister been drawn to the attempts by some Directors of Social Services in the States, including the Director in South Australia, to publicise in the Press recently improved supplementary benefits? As eligible pensioners will not obtain any increase automatically and may be unaware of these new provisions and the need to apply for the benefits, will the Minister recommend to the Department of Social Services that it use television services and other special means of disseminating information to publicise the new provisions?
– I will raise this matter with the Minister. Some days ago, in asking a question in the Senate, an honorable senator suggested that some notification of social service benefits might be made through the mail with the normal distribution of benefits. I have referred this suggestion to the Minister and will refer to him the suggestion that radio and television media be used also. It is desirable that those people who are entitled to the added and important benefits should be made aware of them without delay.
– I direct a question to the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of the announcement that permission has been granted by the Commonwealth Government for the export of huge quantities of pelletised iron ore from Tasmania, will the Government consider granting assistance to Tasmania for the construction of wharf facilities at Brickmakers Bay on the north west coast of Tasmania similar to that given the Governments of Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia for the loading of coal and ore?
– No doubt if the Tasmanian Government makes a case for such assistance, the Commonwealth Government will give consideration to it.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. May I say, by way of a preamble to my question, that I raised a matter in relation to the filming of history in the making that might even now have been placed on record by the Government or the Armed Services regarding the activities of Australian forces in Vietnam. My previous question dealt with iwo points. The first point regarding this filming was to provide a history that might be set aside for the future. The second point was in relation to public relations by showing the factual activities of our servicemen to the people in general and, in particular, to the Senate and the House of Representatives by way of screening films in the Library. I ask the Minister whether he has any further information regarding this point.
– I was seised of the importance of the question that the honorable senator asked and I conferred with the Department of Defence, which has now supplied an answer. I am advised that the Army and the Royal Australian Air Force film material on Vietnam available at present comprises separate and unedited items of varying duration and, consequently, not in a form for screening as a continuous film. As indicated previously, this material is released, as it becomes available, to newsreel and television companies which have used much of it in their own programmes, sometimes with film shot by their own cameramen. In the meantime, if honorable senators are interested, newsreel and television items on Vietnam which have been screened already could be secured on loan by the officer in charge of screenings at Parliament House.
– Is the Minister representing the Postmaster-General aware that to date the annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board for the year ended 30th June 1965 has not been tabled yet in this House? Because it is likely that the estimates for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department will be debated some time next week, and because it is important for honorable senators to have a copy of this report, will the Minister make sure that this document is available before these estimates are discussed?
– I was under the impression that the report was tabled yesterday.
– I have not seen it.
– It was tabled in the Senate yesterday. I am sorry that the honorable senator did not receive a copy; I will see that a copy is made available to him within the hour.
– Thank you.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Is it true that the Japanese Fisheries Agency has despatched the’ research vessel “ Suruga Maru “ to the continental shelf waters south of Australia for the purpose of developing new fishing grounds? Will this operation take place in the vicinity of South Australia? If so, will the Minister ensure that, if these new fish-, ing grounds are established by the Japanese, ‘ steps will be taken to protect the fishing grounds and interests of those engaged in the fishing industry in South Australia?
– I will forward the question to the Minister for Primary Industry and get a reply for the honorable senator.
– I ask a question supplementary to that asked today by Senator Wright of the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Apart from the general consideration of the Report of the Select Committee on the Encouragement of Aus-, tralian Productions for Television which the Postmaster-General apparently has in hand, is the Minister in a position to say whether he will be able to give some indication, which we have not had in the slightest degree to date during the. course of the estimates debate on the subject, of the Government’s thinking on some of the specific recommendations made by that Select Committee?
– In answer to the honorable senator’s question, I would say: “No”. The position is that the consideration of the Estimates involves a debate on the estimates of the various departments. The honorable senator has asked whether the Postmaster-General will give me some indication of his thinking on the recommendations of the Select Committee. The answer which the Postmaster-General gave to the question asked by Senator Wright, and which I read this morning, indicated that he wanted to give full consideration to the aspects of this matter after which he himself would refer it to the Government. In those circumstances, I would say that the answer to the question asked by Senator Cohen is: “ No “.
– I wish to address a further question to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Will he acquaint the Postmaster-General of the growing concern felt in this chamber at the fact that nearly two years have passed without any disclosure being made by the Minister responsible for considering this report of any view that he has with regard to it? Will he also acquaint the Minister of the fact that certain honorable senators take the view that the debate on the estimates for the Postmaster-General’s Department will provide an opportunity for them to scrutinise the Minister’s failure to make any decision on a report which was submitted two years ago?
– As this subject conies within the administration of the Postmaster-General’s Department, obviously it is competent for any honorable senators to express a view on it during the discussion of the estimates for the Department. No doubt this will be done. I will regard it as my responsibility to direct the PostmasterGeneral’s attention to the comments that are made. However, I point out that a Minister representing a Minister in another place, or indeed the Minister concerned himself, would not comment on a matter on which neither he nor the Government had reached finality. The best that I can do in this case is to ensure that the PostmasterGeneral is made aware of the views expressed by honorable senators in relation to the report of the select committee. As to delay, I think we must remember that, as was indicated in the reply given earlier today by the Postmaster-General, there are tremendous implications in the proposals put to the Government by the Select Committee.
(Question No. 538.)
asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The AttorneyGeneral has suppliedthe following answers -
(Question No. 565.)
Senator MURPHY (through Senator
O’Byrne) asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice -
What provision is made for libraries for the High Court and federal courts in each State?
How many volumes are in the library of the High Court in each State?
What is the library staff of the High Court in each State?
In each of the last five years how much was spent on additions to each of these libraries?
– The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answers - 1 and 2. A library containing approximately 15,000 volumes is maintained at the Principal Registry of the High Court in Melbourne. Similarly, a library containing approximately 12,000 volumes is maintained at the District Registry of the High Court at Darlinghurst in Sydney. Smaller libraries are maintained at the arbitration building, Melbourne, and at Phillip House, Sydney, for the use of the Industrial Court and the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. In the States other than New South Wales and Victoria, by arrangement with the States library facilities provided by the States for the Judges of the Supreme Courts are made available to the High Court and other Commonwealth Courts when they visit those States.
Other Commonwealth Courts. The figures given include the provision of books for the use of the Bankruptcy Court -
The Senate will note that these figures have been quantified.
(Question No. 575.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following answers -
Question No. 584.)
asked the Minister repre senting the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answers - 1 and 2. The Royal Commission made no specific recommendations regarding alteration of the law. Extensive alterations were, however, made to the Crimes Act in 1960.
(Question No. 624.)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What are the results of the surveys of red kangaroo density in certain regions of New South Wales, referred to at page 12 of the March 1965 edition of “Rural Research in the C.S.I. R.O.”?
– The answer is as follows–
I have interpreted the honorable senator’s question as meaning that he would like the latest results of the red kangaroo surveys; that is, after the date of the material used in the article in “ Rural Research in the C.S.I.R.O.” referred to in the question.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation has informed me that the red kangaroo study was conducted by its Division of Wildlife Research between 1960 and 1963. During this period it was shown that, at Toganmain, near Hay, the numbers of kangaroos declined drastically, although some recovery was evident at the end of the study. Owing to the encroachment of the Coleambally Irrigation Scheme it has not been possibleto continue the collection of precise data in this area. However, further casual observations have shown that the recovery was very slight indeed, and the kangaroo numbers in this area now seem to have stabilised at a level very much lower than that which prevailed in 1960 and only slightly higher than that measured in the last precise survey of 1963.
West of the Darling River, following the great decline in numbers described in the article, continuing drought conditions have prevented an increase in kangaroo numbers which, with minor fluctuations, remain at a very low level. Survey information in this area indicates that the animals have ceased breeding, that there is virtually no survival of young animals, and that the population is more mobile than usual. There seemslittle doubt that, if the drought continues, kangaroos in far western New South Wales will suffer further.
(Question No. 634.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
With reference tothe recent statement by the Minister for Labour and National Service that the names of a large number of persons with criminal records were submitted by the Waterside Workers’ Federation for employment on the Australian waterfront, will the Minister table a list, omitting names of the persons involved, of the offences concerned, the dates on which they were committed, and the penalties imposed by the courts?
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following answer -
No. Omission of names would not, in the case of the smaller ports, necessarily prevent identification of the men concerned and it would be quite unjust to them to publish any particulars. In any case, we are now concerned with the future, not the past.
(Question No. 642.)
– I have the answer to question No. 642, placed on the notice paper by Senator McKenna.
– Having regard to the course of events and the lapse of time since the question was placed on the notice paper, I have now no interest in asking the question or in hearing the answer.
– In the circumstances, I suggest that the question be discharged from the notice paper.
(Question No. 660.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following replies -
– During the debate on the Estimates yesterday I undertook to try to get some information for Senator O’Byrne regarding a person known as Chen Yu-teh. The information I have is that this man was a civilian impressed for duty with the Japanese army and, therefore, was subsequently held as an internee, not as a prisoner of war. As an internee, Chen Yu-teh had no entitlement under the Conventions which prescribe that prisoners of war shall receive certain pay and allowances.
– Earlier this morning I answered a question asked by Senator McClelland. In fairness to him, I think I should make an explanation. He asked whether the annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board for the year ended 30th June 1965 had been tabled or whether it would be available to honorable senators in their consideration of the Estimates. 1 said that I was under the impression that it had been tabled. The facts are that on Tuesday 1 tabled the thirty-third annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, together with financial statements, and yesterday 1 tabled the nineteenth annual report and financial accounts of the Overseas Telecommunications Commission (Australia). Therefore, the answer that I gave to the honorable senator was wrong. It is desirable that this matter be cleared up immediately. The information that I have been able to obtain in the brief intervening period is that the annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board is not available and its availability for the debate on the estimates for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department will depend on when we deal with those estimates.
Motion by (Senator Henty) agreed to -
That Government Business take precedence of General Business after 8 p.m. this sitting.
Senator PROWSE (Western Australia).I present thereport of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works relating to the following proposed work -
Provision ofbuildings and services for the international terminal complex and associated aircraft pavements in the north-west building area at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport.
I ask for leave to make a statement in connection with the report.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The recommendations and conclusions of the Committee are as follows -
– I present the following report of the Public Accounts Committee -
Seventy-third Report - Department of Social Services.
I ask for leave to make a short statement.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The Committee’s inquiry into the accounts and operations of the Department of Social Services, under section 8 of the Public Accounts Committee Act 1951, constitutes the first comprehensive inquiry into that Department by a parliamentary committee. The decision of the Committee to undertake this inquiry was made not because the Department had been the subject of censure but because the growth in the extent and variety of social services provided by the Commonwealth in recent years has expanded substantially and because, in the discharge of their responsibilities, many honorable senators and members find themselves engaged with the Department on behalf of their constituents. The Committee believes that this Report, which covers the detailed administrative operations for the Department, will provide a useful source of information for honorable senators and for the public.
In the course of its inquiry the Committee was impressed with the general level of efficiency found to exist in the operations of the Department. Nevertheless, there are certain matters arising from our inquiry to which the Committee would invite attention. The evidence taken by the Committee shows that urgent action is required by the parties concerned to resolve the problems arising from the proposed introduction of automatic data processing by the Department of Social Services and that there is a need for the Departments of Social Services and the Treasury to consider whether the Department of Social Services should be re-imbursed in respect of services which it provides for the Repatriation Department in the processing of repatriation pensions.
The evidence also shows that the Department of Social Services requires a greater number of qualified officers engaged in internal audit work and in this regard the Committee would emphasise that the decision by the Public Service Board to defer consideration of proposals made by the Department for a reorganisation of its internal audit staff, pending an extensive review by the Board of accounting and audit work in the Commonwealth service, may result in a serious delay in improving the efficiency of the Department’s internal audit programme. We believe that the problems confronting beneficiaries in the more sparsely populated areas should be taken fully into account in any reformulation of the Department’s criteria for establishing regional offices. The Committee also considers that the department should, in the interests of economy and efficiency, adopt a uniform method of payment of social service benefits by cheque:
I commend the report to honorable senators.
That the report be printed.
Consideration resumed from 20th October (vide page 1090).
Department of Immigration
Proposed expenditure, £19,756,000.
Proposed provision, £464,000.
– Just before the Committee reported progress last night I was addressing myself to some of the questions that had been raised on the proposed expenditure of the Department of Immigration. In the three minutes that were available to me I made some comments in relation to a submission put by Senator Fitzgerald regarding the education of migrants. Senator Fitzgerald mentioned provision for the teaching of English to migrants. The estimated expenditure this year is slightly more than the actual expenditure last year. This is due mainly to the amount to be spent this year on teaching material for shipboard education officers. Some of the increase is attributable to administrative costs - for example, the cost of additional measures to encourage migrants to take advantage of the scheme, and so on.
Senator Fitzgerald dealt with a number of matters which quite clearly are matters of policy. As I indicated in answer to a question asked earlier by Senator Wright, it is quite proper, when matters of policy are canvassed in relation to a department for which the Minister responsible is in another place, that the Minister who represents him in this place should have regard to those matters. Whilst he would not necessarily wish to comment on matters of policy - particularly policy matters related to another Minister’s portfolio - at least he could ensure that the relevant Minister is informed of the expressions of policy made by honorable senators during the debate on the Estimates.
– Will I receive replies in respect of the matters I raised?
– That is a matter of judgment for the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman). Senator Fitzgerald referred to a number of matters; for instance, to the setting up of a committee of appeal. The honorable senator suggested that a Commonwealth judge might be appointed to consider matters in conflict. He also raised the question of the necessity for the oath of allegiance at present taken at naturalisation ceremonies. Quite clearly, they are policy matters which should be examined by the Minister for Immigration. No doubt, if the Minister thought it appropriate, recommendations would be made to the Government. The necessity to take an oath of allegiance in which loyalty to the country of origin is forsaken, Senator Fitzgerald suggests, might be a factor influencing the percentage of new citizens who have become naturalised. That suggestion, as I understand it, was made at a Citizenship Convention. The Minister for Immigration is aware of it and it is a matter for his judgment and determination.
– The oath involves renunciation of their original country?
– Yes. It involves renunciation of their original allegiance. It has been put that to abolish that requirement would encourage more migrants to become naturalised citizens of Australia. The point I wish to make to the honorable senator and to honorable senators who may subsequently speak in this debate is that where we enter the field of policy it is not within my competence to embark upon discussion beyond passing reference and the giving of an assurance that the point of view expressed by an honorable, senator will be conveyed to the Minister concerned. Where questions relating to specific items in the estimates of a department are addressed to me, with the assistance of my advisers I will attempt to furnish answers.
Senator Fitzgerald referred to the percentage of new citizens who have not sought naturalisation. Honorable senators will recall that yesterday at question time I stated a number of reasons which the Department of Immigration considers, after conducting research, probably explain why certain people do not choose to become naturalised. I do not wish to read the reply I gave yesterday. It is available in “ Hansard “. Tt should be recognised that over 60 per cent, of eligible persons have sought naturalisation. That percentage is regarded as being comparable with the relevant percentages of other countries of the world. Between January 1945 and June 1965, 464,598 people were naturalised. Although the number naturalised each year may have declined, the percentages have risen. For example, in 1960-61, of those eligible 55.4 per cent, were naturalised; in 1962-63, 61.8 per cent.; in 1963-64, 62.7 per cent.; and in 1964-65, 64.6 per cent. That pattern illustrates the great effort that is being made to encourage people to seek naturalisation.
– What about applications for Australian citizenship by those who are citizens of the United Kingdom? The figures in that respect are very bad.
– That is another matter, to which we may turn later. At the moment I want to round off my reply to the important question which was asked by Senator Fitzgerald about failure to apply for naturalisation. One of the reasons that has been advanced by the Department, and which has ‘been born of experience and a continuing survey it is making, is that in many cases migrants say that their parentage and speech brand them indelibly as being migrants and that irrespective of whether they became naturalised or not, they would still continue to be regarded as migrants. Another reason advanced is that about one-third of the people who have not applied for naturalisation have thoughts about eventually returning to their own country. They are very human and understandable thoughts. Where there has been a great change in the political structure or the economic conditions of the country from which they came, many hope that ultimately they will be able to return to that country. That is understandable. But it places a responsibility upon us at the governmental, human and Good Neighbour Council levels, and particularly at the local government level, to encourage these people to become Australianised in their thinking and their associations so that they will feel confident about seeking Australian citizenship. Other reasons, which I do not want to dwell on at the moment, have been advanced by the Department.
asked whether persons who are refused naturalisation are able to stay in Australia indefinitely. Provided they conform to the requirements of our immigration laws, they are permitted to stay. Of course, they have certain obligations. The granting of naturalisation is within the discretion of the Minister under the Nationality and Citizenship Act. Deportation is an entirely different matter. It can be effected only in certain circumstances that are defined in the Migration Act. For example, if a person breaks our laws or does something which is considered to be in conflict with the Migration Act, an instrument of deportation can issue. But the two things are not necessarily associated, as seems to have been suggested in the honorable senator’s question.
I was asked also by Senator Fitzgerald whether the Government is likely to adopt the proposal that aliens should automatically become citizens of Australia after 10 years residence here. Probably we all agree that citizenship is a privilege and an honour. Citizenship is something that an immigrant does not get automatically. It is something that must be sought. We cannot force it upon anybody. I am sure that Senator Fitzgerald will recognise on reflection that to confer citizenship on an immigrant simply because the immigrant had been living in Australia for ten years would not be consistent with the honour and privilege of citizenship. We can only provide that if an immigrant wants to become a citizen of Australia after a qualifying residential period, it is competent for him or her, all things being equal, to seek citizenship. Without labouring the matter, I think this is the fundamental argument against the honorable senator’s suggestion.
– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
.- I rise to comment briefly on the statement made by the Minister as to the functions of members of Parliament in this debate. I have no particular interest in the point of policy upon which Senator Fitzgerald sought information and whether applicants for naturalisation should be required to relinquish allegiance to their land of birth. But 1 remind the Committee that at question time in the Senate, questions on policy are out of order. The one great, opportunity for the representatives of the people to seek information on such matters is provided during consideration of the Appropriation Bill of which the Estimates are a composite part. On this occasion, representatives of the people are able to seek and obtain from Ministers of the Crown information on proposed expenditure of public money.
This is also an appropriate occasion for the announcement of policy. If policy cannot be announced because it requires further consideration, that should be stated; but the Parliament should be informed of the Minister’s viewpoint as early as is convenient and certainly as early as is consistent with public interest. If we are to retain respect for efficiency in democratic parliamentary institutions, it is essential that we have some appreciation of the importance of the pas sage of time, lt is important also that we have some recognition of the relative position of Ministers of the Crown to the Parliament. Here today, Ministers have been appointed by the Crown to ask for our vote for money. We represent the people. Therefore, it is the exalted duty of Ministers, representing the Crown as they do, to give to members of Parliament that deference the Crown has taught and accepted for 300 years. This carries with it an obligation to give information as to facts and policy to the elected members of the Parliament.
By reason of their permanence, tha officers of the great departments of Government develop special skills, lt is important that they should not be built up into agencies of obstruction to the Parliament. They should be required by Ministers who ought to control those departments to act not as adversaries but in complete cooperation with the Parliament. These resourceful, permanently employed departments should be required to supply promptly information on what is being considered as items of policy for public expenditure.
– I wish to clear up matters that were raised last night during the debate as I think that will make for a more orderly discussion of the Estimates. Senator Wright has propounded a point of view with which I do not disagree in the main. Broadly, I accept what he said. The only reservation I have is the one I set out to make at the start: That by the very nature of our system of Cabinet government and the parliamentary system, one Minister does not give statements on policy for another Minister. As to the rest of Senator Wright’s remarks, we can accept them as fair comment.
Senator Fitzgerald questioned the proposed expenditure on operational stores and services for migrant centres which is to be increased by almost £12,000. This has happened because of a book entry. In 1964-65 receipts were credited to this vote but in 1965-66 they will be credited to revenue.
asked a question on the proposed expenditure on the migration office in Austria. The item to which he referred specifically was the proposed vote of £5,000 on postage, telegrams, telephones and cablegrams. Actual expenditure last year was £1,111. Under the overseas accounting arrangements, where office premises are shared between the Department of External Affairs and another department, the former bears the cost of shared services such as postage and telephone facilities, office rent and the like. During 1964-65, the Department of External Affairs shared the office building occupied by the Department of Immigration in Vienna and accordingly met the costs of postage, telephones, etc. for both Departments in respect of that building. The amount of £1,111 brought to account by the Department of Immigration represented costs for its regional offices at Graz, Linz and Salzburg. The Vienna premises proved unsuitable for the Department of External Affairs and arrangements were made for its removal to another building. The 1965-66 estimate of £5,000 under Division No. 278 - 2 - Item 03. therefore provides for the Department of Immigration to bear the costs of postage, telephones, etc. for all its Austrian offices, whereas in 1964-65 the major portion of the expenditure, that is, for the Vienna office, was borne by the Department of External Affairs.
Senator Mulvihilll referred to the migration offices in Austria and Spain. The proposed expenditure for the migration office in Italy is also involved in this matter. Reference has also been made to recruitment of migrants in Belgium. The Department of Immigration fell short of its immigration target in Belgium and this can be attributed to the continued improvement in the economic situation in that country. At no time has the, Italian Government or the Spanish Government closed the door to negotiations for the resumption of a reasonable flow of assisted migrants to Australia. These negotiations are continuing. In fact, the Italian Government has now agreed to the recruitment of 400 unskilled workers and 80 skilled electrical and metal tradesmen for specific employment in Australian industries. Provision for these workers and their dependants has been made in the current year’s programme. There has been no interruption whatever in the flow of unassisted migrants nominated by friends and relatives in Australia. The position is that negotiations are proceeding but naturally provision has to be made in the Estimates for the next 12 months.
Senator Mulvihill raised the question of the screening of potential migrants in countries such as Austria and Spain. The organization of Australia’s immigration posts overseas provides for selection teams and procedures which enable a reliable assessment to be made of an applicant’s character, background, general suitability, health and other personal qualifications. The security aspect is carefully watched as an important part of these procedures. Inquiries into security aspects are in the hands of the appropriate Australian authorities in these areas. These screening procedures apply in the countries mentioned by the honorable senator and in all other countries where we are recruiting migrants.
Senator Mulvihill referred also to the United Arab Republic. It is interesting that the honorable senator raised this question because I recall that, when I was a backbencher looking at the Estimates, I, too, was interested in this one. I well recall raising this point in an Estimates debate. The honorable senator’s question apparently refers to salaries votes which total £18,300 for 1965-66. The proposed expenditure represents a reduction of some £5,000 on costs in 1964-65. Although staff has been reduced, it is still necessary to maintain executive and clerical staffs to process applications which are being received for migration to Australia from Greeks and Armenians living in the Middle East, as well as indigenous applicants. In the past few months, the categories of unsponsored migrants who can come to Australia have been widened generally to provide for ner.sons who have skills which will contribute to Australia’s development. A gratifying and continuing response has been received from this type of migrant in the United Arab Republic. This justifies the maintenance of the office at its present staffing level. I have tried to cover the specific points raised by honorable senators. I have made reference to the generalities of these matters. I feel we can now progress to other matters which relate to these estimates.
– I desire to comment on the appropriation with particular reference to Asian migration. The section of our immigration laws relating to this matter is one of the most difficult, and it is necessary for those administering the law to tread most carefully.
There is the impression that we have successfully put a lot of time, effort and publicity into convincing people that no colour bar is involved in our immigration laws affecting Asians. I hope that we will not be smug about the matter and believe that Asians accept that view. I have heard it said at Australian citizenship conventions that Asia appreciates our attitude and that it accepts the situation that we do not implement a colour bar. Let me quote, as an example of the fact that we have to do a lot more if we are to combat that feeling, a statement of Mr. Albert Monk, the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, in reporting on his attendance at a recent International Labour Organisation Conference where the question of South Africa was dealt with. South Africa was excluded from that organisation because of its colour legislation. What Mr. Monk had to say is very important. He said -
I had been informed by some of my own trade union confreres from Asia that following the attack on South Africa for its apartheid policy, Portugal would be the next country singled out for attack by the Africian nations and that Australia would be similarly attacked at a later stage on the grounds that we pursued race discrimination particularly regarding Papua and New Guinea, the white Australia controversy and the aboriginal controversy.
Here is a remarkable further statement by Mr. Monk in view of the smug assumption that we have made our position all right with Asia and that therefore it accepts our stand. Mr. Monk said -
I did not speak at the conference on the South African situation as I felt we would be vulnerable on these issues.
If the leader of Australia’s trade union movement feels that he could not get up and speak on the South African situation because Australia, he has been told, is number three on the list of countries to be dealt with -
– At what conference was this?
– This was the International Labour Organisation Conference in Geneva in 1963.
– Was that because of our immigration laws or our attitude to the Aboriginal population?
– It says immigration laws and white Australia controversy here. Those are the laws concerned.
– Was this discussed at the conference?
– At the conference South Africa was dealt with and excluded. The Asian delegates told Albert Monk that Portugal was next and Australia would follow. We may say that the attitude of the Asians is unjustified. We may say that our attitude is justified. No doubt the Minister, as other Ministers have said before him, will claim that. But we have to face the fact that this is not accepted in some overseas countries, particularly in a number of Asian countries, and we therefore have a battle which we cannot ignore to fight on this issue. The seriousness of it can be seen when the head of Australian unionism does not feel he can get up and defend Australia’s position at the International Labour Organisation Conference.
– Was South Africa excluded on its immigration policy or labour conditions in the country?
– Is not the white Australia policy an immigration matter? Surely I do not have to read the passage over and over again. Of course it is immigration.
– The honorable senator has not acknowledged whether the objection regarding South Africa was because of its immigration policy or labour conditions there.
– The objection to South Africa was on the ground of the implementation of a colour bar. A colour bar is involved, whether honorable senators like to see it or not, in our present immigration policy. In our administration of this matter, we have to tread very warily. We know the influence on Asian feeling of the decisions that were made at the time of the Gamboa case and the Mrs. O’Keefe case. People associated with the external relations of Australia will tell us that although some people will say that these matters are just passed over with a snap of the fingers, there are effects left by such cases as the Prasad case and the case of the little girl who was taken to Hong Kong some time ago. I am not going to say that we can throw all the responsibility on the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) or the Department of Immigration. They have the perfect answer to any questions raised. They are administering the law as it stands. We are all responsible for the law. We cannot throw the responsiblity onto anybody else. We, in this Parliament, make the laws. The Minister and his Department simply say that they are administering those laws. I say that a certain discretion rests with the Minister and the Department. I hope, as 1 believe was done from 1950 to 1960, that discretion will be exercised as far as possible to prevent these cases coming up. I cannot attack an individual case because there may be factors known to the Department that I do not know. But I repeat: I hope that the Department will do all it can, and that the Minister will exercise discretion as far as possible, to prevent these cases coming up which damage our position.
One matter that I think must damage us in the eyes of Asians is the provision regarding merchants in this country. Let me state the provision. I do not know whether it has been changed. If it has, I have not heard of it. The provision as far as I am aware reads as follows -
A non-European who can evidence that he is willing and able to engage in overseas trade on a wholesale basis between Australia and the countries of Asia and/or the Pacific Territories to the extent of at least £10,000 annually, com- prising imports or exports, or both, may be granted entry with “ merchant “ status. The merchant’s operations are reviewed annually and continued stay is dependent upon the volume of annual overseas trade being maintained.
This is the crucial clause -
A merchant may introduce non-European assistants for his business where the need for such non-European staff from abroad is demonstrated on the basis of one introduced staff member for each £10,000 overseas trade in excess of £10,000, and may retain the services of such staff as long as the volume of annual overseas trade is maintained. He may also introduce his wife, minor unmarried children, a fiancee, a widowed mother who is at least SO years of age and, where his annual volume of overseas trade is £20,000 or more, an amah to care for his children and a domestic for his household.
– From what document is the honorable senator reading?
– I am reading from regulations for Australia’s immigration policy relating to the entry and stay of nonEuropeans.
– Issued by the Department?
– I understand so. At least, it is available from the Department. The feature which would make not only an Asian’s but also other people’s blood boil is that this involves not merely a question of colour; it involves also a question of class. The regulations provide that if, for the purpose of assisting our trade, we decide that certain non-Europeans can come to Australia, the employer can bring with him his wife and children, a nurse for the children and a cook, but the humble employee is deprived of the company of his wife and family for at least 15 years.
I have voiced my objection to this previously and I voice it again. That provision contains a vicious class principle completely foreign to the Australian way of life. It should not be implemented in the case of Asians. If the boss is allowed to have his wife and children, a servant, a cook and the children’s nurse with him, then the employee is entitled to be accompanied by his wife and children. It is inhuman, barbaric and unchristian to say to a man that as a condition of allowing him to come to this country he must do without the company of his wife and children for 15 years. The blood of any Asian would rightly boil when he contemplates that provision. I have made representations to former Ministers for Immigration on this matter. A few years ago I was in hopes that ‘ something would be done but nothing has yet been done. I appeal to the Government, in the interests of better Asian relations, at least to put the employer and the employee on the same basis. I see no reason why that should not be done.
We would make a further graceful gesture if we reduced the period before Asians can be naturalised and brought it into line with the period which applies to other migrants. After all, very few Asians get into this country. The number involved would be very small. When I was a boy there were many Asian market gardeners outside Melbourne. I am told that it is now questionable whether there would be more than one at work in that industry today. When Asian migrants are so few in number it would be a gracious act for the Government to reduce the period for naturalisation to that which applies to other persons.
The only other matter I want to mention relates to the naturalisation of Europeans. I have been told by some European migrants that one objection they have to naturalisation is the insistence of the authorities that they be naturalised on the basis of the country in which they were born. For example, if a person was born in Yugoslavia he is shown on the documents as of Yugoslavian origin. I point out that I am basing my remarks only on the information given to me. I have not checked it with the Department. In the hotch-potch of nationalities in southern Europe, it has frequently happened that owing to changes in boundaries Hungarian communities have been located in Rumania and Albanian communities have been located in Yugoslavia. At present, many kinds of minorities are located in different countries, but the flame of nationalism burns very brightly in their hearts. For example, some people say that Yugoslavian is not a nationality, it is a name. They claim that Yugoslavia really consists of Croats, Serbs, Slovenes and Albanians.
It is all very well for us to say that they should not think in that way, but they do. Because they have a very proud sense of race, some of them object to undertaking naturalisation - a kind of legal act which, they say, appears to imply that they accepted the nationality of a country to which they are opposed and in which they lived previously only because of the force of international or other circumstances. They ask whether, in the case of a Hungarian born in Rumania, it would be possible to include on the naturalisation certificate, or wherever is appropriate, the person’s country of birth, Rumania, and his ethnic origin or the race to which he belongs, Hungarian.
– That would perpetuate divisions.
– It is no use talking about perpetuating divisions. A man is always proud of the race to which he belongs. Having regard to the things that have happened in Europe, it is useless to talk about perpetuating divisions. Let the honorable senator try to tell a Scot that he is an Englishman.
Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– My first comment relates to naturalisation ceremonies, in which all honorable senators have the opportunity to take part from time to time. I hope that the act of renunciation of former allegiance and the taking of the oath of loyalty to the new country will always be parts of the naturalisation ceremony and that one will always follow immediately after the other. I imagine that this happens in practically every instance, but I have been present when some other part of the ceremony has been interposed between these two parts. I do not know whether this makes a candidate for naturalisation a stateless person for the time being, but I think it is important for the dignity of the ceremony as well as for the satisfaction of everyone concerned that these acts should follow one after the other. It is imperative that the renunciation of former allegiance should remain in the ceremony. We are all well aware that this has its difficulties and I think we all feel keenly about it, but on the other hand a line must be drawn somewhere and a condition must be observed.
I should be grateful to have the Minister’s comments on certain other matters of concern to me. I refer first to that portion of Division No. 270 which relates to payments to Government authorities for services rendered. I imagine that this includes a certain amount of inter-departmental activity. I notice that there has been a slight reduction in the allocation this year. Has this any significance insofar as fewer authorities are involved, or has the Department set up various segments of its machinery to deal with certain matters?
I turn now to the item relating to publicity. I suppose we all have in mind the films, booklets and brochures which are prepared. I hope that the Department keeps itself well informed on modern media of communication, so that the image of immigration and the matters related to it will not fall into a rut and become unnoticed simply because imagination is lacking in certain aspects. I do not suppose that the booklet entitled “These are Yours” is in this category. It probably deals with the. matter in another way altogether. I think it might be a good idea if the officers of the Department had a look at this booklet. It is a very good one, but as it has been with us a fair while, possibly in the light of modern developments, streamlining might be necessary in some respects.
I turn now to the item dealing with the Australian Citizenship Convention and other assimilation activities. I refer in particular not to the Citizenship Convention, but to the other assimilation activities. The Auditor-General’s report dealing with this particular matter refers to -
Financial assistance given to Church Immigration Committees and federally constituted voluntary associations to assist in their work in the migrant integration field . . .
Of course, there are many organisations involved in the migrant integration and assimilation fields. A fairly regular amount of money is provided for this purpose. But because many of us have been associated with assimilation authorities and integration groups and because many of the organisations have officers engaged in assimilation work, I would be grateful for any information that the Minister or his Department may be able to provide as to how the distribution of money is made and whether it is to be a continuing process.
There is a slight increase in the amount of money that is being provided for Greek migration. I am interested in this matter because of a question that I asked the Minister a little while ago relating to the shortage of labour in the canning industry in the Upper Murray area of South Australia. Last year considerable assistance was given to this industry as a result of the Greek migration programme. I would like the Minister to comment on that matter when he replies to the questions that have been raised.
The next matter to which I refer relates to refugee migration. The allocation for this year is £114,000 as against £124,900 for last year. The plight of refugees has been receiving sympathetic consideration. Australia has a very fine record in this regard. Taking population into account, I think that we are second only to the United States of America in the services that we render to refugees. Does the decrease in the amount of money that is to be provided for this purpose indicate that the need for assistance is not as great as it was or that the work has been taken over by other agencies? I would be pleased if the Minister could give some information on this point.
The only other observation I wish to make relates to the Migration Office in Denmark. A smaller amount is provided in the esti mates this year, especially as far as the salaries of the Australian staff members in this office are concerned. The statistics indicate that while there are not as many Danish migrants now as there, were a few years ago, there is still a steady figure each year. The Danish people make splendid migrants. I imagine that the high living standards that exist in that country may influence the situation. But does the decrease in the amount that has been provided indicate that there is to be a cessation or lessening of promotion activities in Denmark on behalf of Australia? If that is so, what is the reason? Those are the only observations that I wish to make at this time and I would be pleased if in due course the Minister could furnish the information for which I have asked.
– I think the Minister has established the point that the teams which select the migrants in the various European countries do so initially having regard to security aspects. I have only one observation to make at this point of time. Despite this process, the situation is that migrants who have been completely inactive in political activities in Australia find that there seems to be an abnormal delay before they are accepted for naturalisation. This is attributed to security reasons. But as I said last night, I believe that much of the odium attaching to the delay falls unfairly upon the Department of Immigration. I shall elaborate on this matter at another stage. Apparently the security angle is considered when the migrants are initially recruited.
Senator McManus referred to European migration. When we look at the item dealing with embarkation and passage costs in the estimates we find that it refers to migrants of Greek, Spanish and other nationalities. There is even a reference to Belgian migrants. I think that everyone who has studied European migration is aware that industrial conditions in West Germany have been in some respects a magnet for foreign workers. If one looks at page 19 of the booklet entitled “Australia in Facts and Figures Number 85 “ one sees that the response of Belgian migrants is very small. It is well known that the Flemings and the
Walloons are very clannish. We will not get much response from them. That brings me to a very important point. If we read Dr. Price’s book “ Southern Europeans in Australia “, Shannon’s book “ Irish in America “ and Dr. Govorchin’s book “ Americans from Yugoslavia “ we can see that we have to provide some attraction to induce Yugoslavs to migrate to Australia.
I know that we are a little hesitant about seeking migrants in countries that have forms of government different from ours. The United States Government showed flexibility in many ways, particularly in its attitude to Poland. So far as Yugoslav migration is concerned, I speak from some degree of experience. The Republic of Slovenia is adjacent to Austria. Many of these people have no deep seated political views. The emphasis is on people going absent without leave, as it were, and crossing the border. If one wanders through Slovenia it is surprising how much common ground one finds with the people there. These days most of the high school children speak English and it is very easy to get into a discussion with them.
I do not see why the Australian Government cannot come out into the open and seek to arrive at an agreement with the Yugoslav Government on Yugoslav migration. After all, this is a country with a booming economy. Many Slavs work on metalliferous mining projects, the Snowy Mountains Scheme and other projects in Australia. They are the sort of migrants that we want. There is no doubt that people who owe allegiance to other countries feel that, by migrating to Australia, they may incur some sort of stigma because it might be said that they were walking out on their homeland. I make a strong appeal that this avenue of migration be investigated further. At the moment we have migration offices in Trieste and Vienna. I know that in border towns such as Klagenfurt there is a certain amount of coming and going across the border. I know that the Yugoslav Government may sometimes be a little intransigent in that way, but the theme I hammer is that as we have here large numbers of a particular ethnic group, Australia has an attraction to people of that group and it is easier to sell the country to them.
Senator McManus approaches the question from an angle different from that from which I approach it, but I see the point that he is trying to make. My attitude as a union official - I know Senator Bishop agrees with me - was that we did not worry whether Slavs were Croats, Serbians or Slovenes, so long as they joined a union. The point I am trying to make concerns the difficulty of applying these nationalistic ideas to Australian conditions. I have really only one point of difference with Senator McManus. I asked a question the other week about some ardent Croatian nationals who were talking about a new way of life. Two of the leading gentlemen among them had not even sought naturalisation.
My fear in relation to fanning the flames of nationalism is that some members of the Yugoslav community here - they are only in the minority - visualise an upheaval in Europe and a redrawing of boundary lines. We want to discourage that sort of thing in the Yugoslav community here. My approach is that what is important is freedom of assembly. We all have our different meetings and we do not gate crash each other’s meetings. That is the Australian way of life. As I have said, I think we should discourage a division of the Yugoslav community here into Croats, Slovenes and so on, although I would be the last person to belittle anyone’s parentage, no matter where he came from. However, I think these divisions are only academic. What is important is not what these people are now, but what their children will be in 20 or 30 years’ time. I have a soft spot for the Slovenes. It might be interesting to honorable senators to know that in the United States of America there are one senator of Slovene origin and also one congressman. We should not really be afraid of these divergent ideologies, because even in the part of Europe from which these people come, the vast bulk of the population is not really politically conscious in that way any more than, unfortunately, some sections of the Australian community are. Many Australians are interested only in things that we regard as second class. I think the Government should consider an intensification of Yugoslav migration and that any restrictions should be based more on the grounds of health than of unnecessary inquiries about subversion.
There is another point that I want to make. Despite the recent upheavals in Cyprus, I am wondering whether we could include Cypriots in the programme for the migration of Greeks. 1 might be leading with my chin in this matter. However, I think Senator McManus would probably agree with me that people who came here from Ireland in the 1920’s had some pretty strong political views, but nevertheless made pretty good migrants. They were not afraid to stand up for what they believed in. If we condemn the Cypriots because they are hotblooded, we will lose some good migrants. The essence of democracy is that you should get up and say what you are. You should not be intimidated, no matter who your critics are or what they represent. Some migrants may have become rather emotional at times, but in my view they have made good Australians. I emphasise the appeal that I have made in relation to Yugoslavs and Cypriots. In the very short time still left to me I ask the Minister whether he could tell me what debts are still owed by migrants at the Villawood and Bradfield hostels in respect of rent.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
. Senator McManus has raised a number of matters which touch substantially on matters of policy. Whilst I appreciate the views that he has expressed, I do not necessarily subscribe to some of them. I listened with close attention to his comments on Australia’s policy in relation to the entry of non-Europeans. I thought he was rather general in his comments. He did not take a strong line on this issue.
One point that he made was that the Minister for Immigration should continue to exercise a discretion in this field. 1 believe it is fair to say that the Minister does exercise a discretion in this field and that the Australian policy in relation to the entry of non-Europeans is quite sound. Inevitably, cases which attract a. great deal of publicity arise from time to time. I believe that it behoves us all to make certain that we get all of the fact’s and circumstances surrounding these isolated cases. I do not want to go very far on this issue. The present policy has been operating for quite a long time. Whilst there is always room for criticism of any policy, I believe that this policy broadly is very wise and very sound.
Senator McManus also referred to the entry of merchants and to alleged discrimination in that respect. This matter has been referred to before at other levels. There are always two sides to an argument, and I believe that this matter has been considered by the Department. Equally, the differential in the residential qualifications for naturalisation - 15 years for non-Europeans, compared with the normal 5 years for Europeans - is a matter of policy which has received consideration by the Minister for Immigration and the Government.
The honorable senator also raised the matter of candidates for naturalisation objecting to their nationality being shown as, for instance, Yugoslav. The nationality of people coming to Australia is shown on their passports and travel documents. That is the nationality that the Department must recognise. The Department must comply with the accepted international practice. If we took the submission that Senator McManus made on this point to its logical conclusion, we could have all sorts of extensions of classifications by a person saying: “ Yes, I am a Yugoslav; but I am also something else.” It is interesting to contemplate just how far such a division into zones, boroughs, areas and groups would extend. I was impressed by what Senator Mulvihill said on this point. As I recall, he said that nobody need be ashamed of his country of origin. If there is- any sensitivity because of something that has happened in a migrant’s country of origin, I do not think it is in our best interest to encourage that feeling in any way. As I have said, we conform to <the international practices in this regard.
Senator Davidson raised a series of queries about items in the Estimates. I will try to deal with them in the order in which he raised them. I will give him the answers contained in the papers .that have been made available to me. He referred to payment’s for services performed by government authorities, including services under legislation administered by the Department. This appropriation provides for payments to other departments in Australia for services performed for the Department of Immigration, for example, to the Postmaster-General’s Department for handling aliens registration forms; payments 40 Commonwealth Hostels Ltd. for caretaking closed hostels; and payments to the United Kingdom Government’ for the issue of visas and for consular services in countries in which there is no Australian representation. The appropriation for this year is lower than last year’s expenditure. The decrease is not a very big amount. I think it is £700. The decrease is due to the lower cost of caretaking closed hostels as a result of more hostels being opened in 1965-66.
Senator Davidson was also interested in the appropriation for assimilation activities. The Commonwealth realises that the successful assimilation of our migrants depends to a large extent on the understanding and co-operation of the Australian people. The successful integration of more than two million post-war migrants has called for special efforts both from migrants and from the Australian community. The co-operation and goodwill of Australians from all walks of life must therefore be sought, gained and held. It is proposed to continue with the policy of consultation with community leaders at the Australian Citizenship Convention in 1966, when about 250 delegates are expected to come together for this purpose. The cost of accommodation and transport for delegates will account for the major portion of the amount set aside under this item. I come now to the particular point to which the honorable senator referred. It is also proposed to support church immigration committees and federally constituted voluntary organisations in their work in the migrant integration field by assisting them with contributions to the travel expenses of delegates attending conferences on immigration.
The honorable senator then referred to the appropriation for assisted passages for migrants from Greece. The Commonwealth will be required to contribute a pledged per capita sum of 164 dollars towards the passage cost of each migrant. The balance will be shared between the Greek Government and the migrant. The Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration will provide some temporary finance to enable migrants to meet their shares of passage costs. The programme planned for 1965-66 is 3,500. In addition to the 164 dollars per migrant, provision has been made for a special contribution of 62 dollars 50 cents by Australia towards the deficit on Greek movements in 1965, due to the withdrawal of the United States subsidy from 1st July 1965. A provision of 74,000 dollars for this purpose has been made under Division No. 270, subdivision 4, item 14 - Intergovernmental Committee for European Migration contributions. The question of financing Greek movements after 1st January 1966 has yet to be determined.
Senator Davidson also referred to the decline from £124,892 to £114,000 in the appropriation for refugee migration. The programme planned for 1965-66 is 1,500, which is the same as the original programme for 1964-65. However, in the latter year 1,698 passages were actually paid for. If the number increases beyond the programme of 1,500 for 1965-66, additional funds will be sought in the Additional Estimates. The honorable senator also referred to the canning industry.
– In relation to Greek migrants.
– Yes. The canning industry has indicated that it will require about 250 girls in the coming season. It wants the first party to arrive on 1st February and the second party on 15th February. We are endeavouring to meet its requirements. I turn now to Division No. 281, which makes provision for the Migration Office in Denmark. The item “ Salaries - Australia based staff” covers both salaries and allowances. The decrease is due to the fact that no replacements during 1965-66 are anticipated. High settling-in costs for a replacement officer were involved in 1964-65.
– There is no decrease in the staff?
– No. The point that the honorable senator made about migrants was well taken.
– I direct attention to what I consider to be anomalies that appear from the figures that are in front of us. The Minister probably has an explanation for them, but I am concerned about what appear to be disparities. For instance, the cost of providing salaries for officers in the Migration Office in London is expected to be £220,000. As a result of the work of these officers, transport costs incurred for British migrants amount to £11,094,000. By comparison, the salary bill for the office in Rome is about £250,000. I am not singling out Rome particularly, it merely exemplifies the point. The amount charged for embarkation costs of Italian migrants is £46,000. I assume that that amount reflects the number of Italian migrants coming to Australia and that the amount of £11,094,000 reflects the number of migrants coming from the United Kingdom. My comment on these figures is that either the people in the Migration Office in London are doing a wonderful job and we are getting great value for our money, or we are getting poor value for the expenditure in Rome.
In reply to Senator Fitzgerald, the Minister said something about the agreement with the Italian Government, but he did not give any details. Can he tell the Committee what are the objections of the Italian Government to re-entering into an agreement with the Australian Government on the migration of Italians? Does the Minister know why the Italian Government will not enter into an agreement? Nobody thinks for a moment that this expenditure of £46,000 on migration between Italy and Australia reflects the total number of Italians coming here. It does not, because one line - the Lloyd Triestino line - operates to Australia one ship a month, which brings 1 ,000 Italians. I assume that those, people are paying their own fares. If Italian nationals in such large numbers are paying their own fares to Australia, surely to goodness there ought to be a fruitful field in Italy for additional migration. If the migration plan has fallen down, I should like to know the reason. Quite obviously more Italians are coming to Australia than are reflected in the expenditure of £46,000 on passages and embarkation costs.
The cost of running the Migration Office in Hong Kong is about £18,500. This is covered by Division No. 287. However, no entry appears for costs of embarkation from Hong Kong. I assume that there are no migrants from Hong Kong; but there may be another reason. I think that the Minister should explain that, if he can. We have a Migration Office in the United Arab Republic. It costs, in wages and allowances, about £20,000, but we have no results from it. I just cannot see the reason for having a migration office in a place from which we are not getting migrants.
– I have already answered that.
– I did not know.
I should like the Minister to explain why there is not a Migration Office in Dublin. I could not imagine any race of people who would be more interested than the Irish in coming to Australia and more welcome here - particularly to the Australian Labour Party. I should like the Minister to apply his mind to this, He might reply that Irish people migrating to Australia go through the London office. I suggest that the London, office is not necessarily a very good point of recruitment for the Irish. Quite obviously, it would, be more interested in dealing with British nationals than with Irish nationals.. I think that we would be more justified in having an office in Dublin than one in Hong Kong, which is not doing any business for Australia in the provision of migrants.
.- In replying to statements that I made; the Minister said that he agreed with Senator Mulvihill that there was no reason for classifying migrants to a greater degree according to ethnic origin. He said there was no reason why a migrant should be ashamed of the country of his origin. I do not think it is a question of being ashamed of one’s country of origin. That sort of statement merely denies history. The facts are that after the recent war and other wars in Europe boundary lines were drawn without regard to the national aspirations of a large number of people. Those people were forcibly incorporated in countries without any regard to justice or anything of the sort, purely on the basis of spoils to the victor. The first thing that is done in these cases, as history shows, is that the dominant nationality proceeds te try to deprive the subordinate nationality of its language and its racial loyalties and to force it into the same mould as that of the dominant nationality. The dominant nationality even tries to force the subordinate nationality to adopt the religion of the dominant nationality. History shows that all that happens in these cases is that the flame of nationality burns all the brighter in the hearts of those who become the subordinate nationality. I do not see any reason why, if on a nationality certificate the country of birth of a migrant is shown, there should be objection to showing also what he believes to be his ethnic group. I see nothing wrong with that. It will not do anybody any harm. It is simply a matter of saying to a new citizen: “We concede you the freedom to say what is your race.” I am a little surprised to hear people with names similar to mine saying that in this country we should never import the disputations and troubles that occur overseas. This Labour Party of ours took a most prominent part in demanding justice for a little country overseas. The Leader of the Opposition in another place was a most prominent advocate of the rights and independence of a small nation overseas, and its freedom not to be forced to adopt the nationality of those who dominated that country.
It seems that times have changed. When I was a boy, I and people with names like mine saw nothing wrong in a person having a loyalty to his race, even if that race was in Europe. I am sorry that apparently we are now asked to deny people who come to this country the right to have in their hearts a feeling of loyalty to their race, especially when that race may be under the dominance of another race.
– They are still Slavs, are they not?
– The honorable senator knows as well as I do - he has been over there - that there is no Yugoslav race. There are a Serb race and a Croat race. I tell Senator O’Byrne, who is interjecting, something that he and I know very well: In 1920 the Irish spoke English. They had the same language. But they also had their national aspirations. The Labour Party of those days saw nothing wrong in conceding to people who migrated to this country the right to retain loyalty to their national aspirations. I suppose I am oldfashioned. I still have that point of view. I concede to the honorable senator the right to deny these people the right of loyalty to their national aspirations.
– Senator Fitzgerald referred to the refusal of the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman) to naturalise people who have been in Australia for a number of years. I took it from the answer given by the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson), who represents the Minister for Immigration, that although such people are not naturalised they are permitted to remain in Australia while they fulfil the requirements of the laws which relate to all Australian citizens. I believe the position of those people should be more closely studied. Cases of people who have been in Australia for a number of years have been brought to the attention of the Department of Immigration by honorable senators. There have been cases of people who have repeatedly applied for naturalisation, but permission has been refused.
I have had brought to my attention the case of a man who has been in Australia for 15 years. In that time he has been a good citizen, except for his drinking habits. I have been asked to help this man. I made inquiries and was told that he had been arrested for drunkenness from time to time and had been warned that unless he mended his ways naturalisation would continue to be withheld from him. I believe that this policy does the man an injustice. He is paying twice for his crime against society. I was told that only his drinking habits prevented him from becoming naturalised. He has paid his fines for drunkenness or has gone to prison. By withholding naturalisation from him, the Department is depriving him of certain rights that would come to him if he were naturalised. I sincerely hope that something can be done to help people in such circumstances. It seems to me that they are being unduly penalised because of their weakness in respect of drink. I think medical men have agreed that addiction to drink is more a disease than it is a social evil.
I have attended naturalisation ceremonies at which the mayor, town clerk or presiding official has told new citizens after they have taken the oath of allegiance that they are entitled to the same social service benefits as those people who are born in Australia. I feel that this is leading the new citizens astray because that statement is not quite true. A person can be naturalised after being in Australia for five years, but to qualify for an age pension it is necessary to have been resident in Australia for ten years. Some people get the wrong idea when they are told that they are entitled to the same social service privileges as people born in Australia. Perhaps the Minister could act to have that part of the naturalisation ceremony changed so that our new citizens will not leave the ceremony with a false impression.
– Senator Mulvihill referred to migrants from Yugoslavia. Australian residents may nominate close relatives to come to Australia direct from Yugoslavia. Other Yugoslavs may come through Austria and Italy as refugees. Last financial year, 4,845 Yugoslav migrants arrived in Australia, which indicates that at least there is a movement of migrants from that country. Cypriots are eligible to migrate to Australia and are doing so. They are, of course, British subjects.
– I was canvassing the idea of negotiation between governments so that an agreement may be signed by Australia and Yugoslavia, similar to the agreement in relation to Italy.
– This point will be brought to the attention of the Minister.
– Will the Minister refer my remarks to the Minister for Immigration?
– Yes. The report of this debate will be very closely examined by the Minister and his officers when the debate concludes. I understand that officers stationed at Beirut examine Cypriots to determine whether they qualify to enter Australia through the normal processes. Senator Mulvihill asked a question about the tariffs at Villawood and Bradfield Park hostels. That is an administrative question, which I am not competent to answer at short notice. I will arrange for the honorable senator to receive an answer.
Senator Ormonde referred to Italian migrants. As honorable senators are aware, Italian migration over the years has been quite important and dramatic. I would like to repeat that Australia’s attraction for Italian and Spanish migrants is such that the Department’s ability to secure applicants has never been in question. The fact that the anticipated numbers of Italian and Spanish migrants are not coming to Australia is due entirely to the desires of the Italian and Spanish Governments to restrict the migration of workers. There has been no lessening of Australia’s desire to negotiate an agreement, which is currently being canvassed. At no time have the Italian or Spanish Governments closed the doors to negotiations for the resumption of a reasonable flow of assisted migrants to Australia. Those negotiations are continuing. Reference was made to the cost of bringing out assisted British migrants from the United Kingdom. Australia pays the whole fare, except for a contribution of £10 sterling which is paid by the migrant. It is expected that 70,000 assisted British migrants will arrive this financial year. There is a large flow from Italy of unassisted migrants who are nominated by relatives and friends in Australia. We expect 12,000 nominated Italian migrants to arrive this financial year. At the time of negotiation, the economic situation in Italy was such that the Italian Government was not particularly eager to allow members of its work force to move out of Europe. Of course, that is purely a matter for the Italian Government. It should be remembered that negotiations are still being conducted, and it may well be that in the fullness of time some agreement will be worked out.
Reference was made to the cost of office salaries in the United Kingdom and in Italy. Senator Ormonde drew a tentative conclusion from the figures referred to. There is no direct comparison between the two sets of costs. Provision for locally engaged staff in the United Kingdom is included in the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department. Passage costs for the 70,000 British migrants who will come out this year under the assisted passage scheme amount to approximately £150 per head. In Italy, the costs referred to cover both Australian and locally engaged staff. The average cost for the 1,000 persons who will come out under the assisted passage scheme will be approximately £45 per head. In addition, about 12,000 unassisted Italian migrants will come out in 1965-66.
Dublin has been mentioned. The authorities in Eire are not particularly eager to encourage emigration from that country.
That, of course, is a matter for the authorities there. What happens in fact is that people go across to the United Kingdom and, after a certain period of residence, qualify for an assisted passage to Australia. The Hong Kong office was established not for the purpose of assisting migration but mainly to deal with entry policy procedures such as those involved in bringing Asian students to Australia. The honorable senator did well in raising this matter. The fact that a large number of Asian students are coming to Australia and that the entry of those persons is facilitated is of importance. There is no assistance franchise in respect of Asian countries. Consequently, no embarkation and passage costs are included in the Estimates.
I wish to refer to the administration of the Department of Immigration and to add my views to those that have already been expressed about eliminating the oath of renunciation from the naturalisation ceremony. It is my view that a large number of migrants find the requirement to take this oath to be deeply offensive, even though it is the price they have to pay to obtain Australian citizenship. The physical act of swearing by Almighty God that one will renounce allegiance to one’s own country must drive deeply into one’s heart. It has had that effect on me as I have seen the act taking place. I have often said that it is an imposition which this country should not expect. It is my view that many migrants who are not seeking Australian citizenship realise that the world is still unsettled and that the economies of some countries have rapidly improved over the years and are still improving. Germany is a case in point. Migration from that country to Australia has dropped off quite a lot. People are not coming from the eastern States of Europe in anything like the numbers that came here in the earlier part of our migration programme. Moreover, the Mediterranean people see in their own countries greater opportunities for themselves and their children. I am reminded of this little poem -
You may speak of the shamrock, the thistle, the rose,
Or the three in a bunch if you will;
But we know a country that gathers all those.
I love the great land where the waratah grows
And the wattle bough blooms on the hill.
The subject of nationalism was raised by Senator McManus. It is of extreme importance for us to understand the nature of nationalism in Europe. Nationalism was not expressed in that little poem, because we of this continent, coming as we do from various ethnic groups in the world, are being welded into a brotherhood. The main cause of the bitterness, the strife and the wars that have occurred over the centuries in Europe is ignorance based on nationalism. People have been separated into religious and ethnic groups and led to hate their neighbours. The result is that a line has been drawn across the map and on one side of that line are to be found the goodies and on the other side the baddies. That sort of thing has been for the aggrandisement often of little puppets, upstart kings, princes and other chieftains. So the bitterness that has existed in Europe over the centuries has been perpetuated.
This great achievement of ours - our immigration scheme - is proving that mankind can become a brotherhood of men with a common denominator, a common language. I hope that every effort will be made by the Department of Immigration gradually to ease away from dividing people into ethnic groups. Since the . 1914-18 war Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia and Esthonia have been built up by migration. The whole history of man has been marked by the movement of one ethnic group into the area of somebody else. If we went back far enough in history, possibly we could trace man back to the cave or wherever he came from and establish that he does not necessarily belong to any specific geographic area.
In formulating our own migration policy we are doing an excellent job in trying to break down the old bitterness that existed and in trying to encourage new settlers to have their children assimilated in the community. The older people find the language barrier very difficult to overcome. We should not try to force citizenship on people who do not wish to accept it, because deep down in their own hearts they feel as did the poet who wrote -
Breathes there a man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
The economic or political situation in the country from which the migrant has come may change in time and he may want to return. It is asking a lot of a man who has any spirit in him to swear by Almighty God that he will sever his allegiance to that country. I hope that this part of our migration policy will .be examined very closely and that this objectionable part of a very fine ceremony will be eliminated. If we encourage national groups we shall only sow the seeds of strife and bitterness in line with the long history of developments of this sort in Europe. We have an opportunity here to build a new group or unit of people. We can establish a common denominator for the whole of the human race, constituted regardless of race and creed and, I hope, of colour. Australia can be made a country where decent God-fearing men and women can live in peace with their fellow men.
– I direct my remarks to the proposed vote for the Commonwealth Immigration Advisory, Planning and Publicity Councils. I am descended on both sides from people born in Ireland and I want to comment on what was said by Senator McManus. No doubt he meant well but he referred not only to an Irish nation but also to an Irish race and to people of other races. So far as I am aware, there is an Irish nation, part of whose territory is still occupied by others. There is no Irish race. The ancestors of the Irish belonged to a Celtic group of peoples. So far as I know the only race to which the Irish belong is the human race. The High Court of Australia, in an historic decision which extended the liberty of the people of Australia and concerned the rights of persons under the immigration laws, even found that the ancient Irish language, Gaelic, was merely a dialect. I think it does not help to introduce into Australia notions of racialism. They are redolent of the theories that found a place in the regimes of Mussolini and Hitler. The less we hear of these theories of race the better.
– We also heard of them under De Valera, Kosciusko and others whom the honorable senator did not mention.
– Men are great because of their achievements, not because of their claims to what might have been done in the far distant days of their ancestors or because of some supposed links in blood between them. We in our humanity move from place to place. By doing so, we become part of some nation. We might develop a culture which is distinctive and which perhaps ought to be preserved but let us not talk of race or in terms which tend to separate human being from human being. Such terms naturally give rise to notions of superiority between human being and human being, based not on the abilities of the individual person but on being a member of a particular race.
Under this item, I would ask what has been done by the Department of Immigration to encourage United Kingdom citizens and other British subjects to become registered as Australian citizens. No pronouncement has been made by the Department - and even in the answers given in this chamber the matter is passed over - on the great number of persons in Australia who are not Australian citizens. Leaving aside altogether those who were aliens, the latest figures available show that there are hundreds of thousands of persons in this country who are not Australian citizens. They are British subjects but they are not Australian citizens.
Since 1949 when the present categories of citizenship were determined, only a very few of these persons have become Australian citizens. I understand that there are some 600,000 or 700,000 British subjects who are not Australian citizens but are eligible to achieve that status. In the whole period since 1949, fewer than 20,000 have become registered as Australian citizens. I think this is due in part to the failure of the Department to encourage them to become citizens and to the failure of the Department even to tell these people that they have to do something about it if they want to become Australian citizens. It should be realised that most of these persons have been in Australia for a long time. They have acquired roots here. They have children going to school. Obviously they intend to live here permanently and really want to he citizens, but they are not told of the necessity to go through certain procedures. It is not brought to their notice.
Another reason is the failure of the Government to initiate legislative steps to encourage these people to become Australian citizens. It is time there were some privileges in becoming an Australian citizen but the Government seems determined to give no encouragement to persons who could take this step. Why should not some of the rights granted under legislation, such as the housing legislation, and various other benefits provided by legislative action, be dependent on such persons becoming Australian citizens if they are eligible to apply? I do not think we should force people to become citizens but we ought to take any reasonable steps to encourage such action. I should like an answer from the Minister which might explain what appears to be a dismal failure in this matter at least in respect of United Kingdom citizens who have been in Australia for a long time.
– I rise to refer to immigration to Australia from some of the countries behind the Iron Curtain if it still exists. The Minister referred to immigration from Yugoslavia. Will he inform the Committee what is the position in relation to other countries behind the Iron Curtain? I know of migrants who have mothers, brothers and sons in Europe and they want to get these next of kin out from the Iron Curtain countries to join them here. They appear to be having great difficulty in this connection. Is there any set procedure in getting next of kin from these countries? Is there anything resembling an agreement, any point of contact or any method of doing so? If there is no arrangement, would it be worthwhile approaching the Governments concerned with a view to more liberal treatment of some cases on compassionate grounds?
– I want to raise a matter which comes under the general heading of Administration. I think it has been dealt with somewhat exhaustively during the course of the discussion on the estimates of the Department of Immigration.
Is the honorable senator dealing with- Division, No. 270, subdivision 2, item 08. - “ Education of migrants in the English language “?
– Yes. The matter on which I wish to touch is naturalisation. I am handicapped to some degree because I have not been able to follow all of the debate on this matter and it may well be that some other honorable senator has raised this point. I hope it has not been raised. I am concerned about a problem that confronted me when an Italian came to see me some six months ago. He was agitated because his father had been refused naturalisation on the ground that he did not have sufficient knowledge of the English language to enable him to be fully acquainted with the terms of the naturalisation oath. As a consequence of this, his application for naturalisation was refused.
I raised this matter with the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman). As a result of the interview I had with the Minister, he permitted the person concerned, who did not have sufficient mastery of the English language to understand the naturalisation procedure, to be naturalised because of the concern it was causing this person and his family. But this does not alter the fact that today, as I understand it, the chief migration officers in the various State branches require migrants to have a full appreciation of what the naturalisation ceremony and the oath embody before they can be granted naturalisation. This to me seems to be illogical in the light of the fact that we have such a great number of people who, up to this point of time, have accepted Australian citizenship. It opens up the thought that some consideration may be given to having some person available who understands the language of the person applying for naturalisation - whatever nationality he may be - to acquaint the applicant with the terms of the oath and to make sure, as an interpreter, that the naturalisation ceremony is understood. In this way, the person seeking naturalisation would have his desire satisfied. I am making this point because I believe that, unless something is done along these lines, the number of persons affected will be added to year after year and people, for reasons that we do not sometimes know, will not become naturalised Australians.
– There is a very valid reason at the moment for young, people not to become naturalised. Australians are drafted for national service while young people from overseas, who are not naturalised, enjoy all the benefits of the country and are not drafted.
– Senator Kennellys interjection makes my argument all the more compelling. I understand that the reason advanced by the officers of the Department of Immigration for the adoption of this policy is that in the United States of America the same requirement is made before naturalisation is granted. I feel that we may be in a different position from that in which the United States has found itself in regard to these matters. I can see no reason in the world for this requirement so long as the applicant understands clearly what is involved in the naturalisation ceremony and in the act of taking the oath. So long as the act of naturalisation is accomplished, does it matter whether the ceremony is conducted in the English language or in some other language? It seems to me that if we continue to make it a rigid condition that some knowledge or sufficient knowledge of English is required before naturalisation can be granted, we will continue to drive away intending applicants for naturalisation. I make this suggestion to the Minister so that he may convey to the Minister for Immigration the thoughts that I have on this matter. The waiving of the requirement that intending applicants for naturalisation should have a sufficient mastery of the English language may result in a larger number of adults, in particular, seeking Australian citizenship.
.- I am fascinated with the logic of Senator O’Byrne’s position. He said that nationalism is a curse. Then he said that we should not force applicants for naturalisation to renounce allegiance to their former countries. What would more induce people to give up nationalistic ideas than to say to mem: “ You have to renounce your allegiance to your former country. From now on, you are an Australian only.” Having said nationalism was a curse, Senator O’Byrne then quoted with approval the lines from Sir Walter Scott’s “Lay of the Last Minstrel “ -
Breathes there a man, with soul so dead,
Who never to himself hath said.
This is my own, my native land!
What could be more nationalistic than that? It seems to me that, without knowing it, Senator O’Byrne has been on my side.
I was interested in the remarks of Senator Murphy. He quoted a decision of judges in a court case for his thesis that there is no such thing as an Irishman, a Scotsman or a Welshman - they are all Celts. It seems that, in spite of that law case, they are not going to change. There is still the Hibernian Society, the Caledonian Society and the Cambrian Society. Senator Murphy seems to suspect that people who have joined the Hibernian Society, the Caledonian Society or the Cambrian Society have become incipient Fascists.
– Nonsense. I never suggested that.
– It is just as much nonsense as the arguments you put up.
– But you always argue–
– The trouble with you is that it is the fashionable tactic for you people to be unpleasant, but when somebody replies to you in kind, you want the discussion to be on the highest possible plane. I merely say to Senator Murphy as I have said before in this Parliament: I will not throw any garbage cans unless they are thrown first. If you throw them, I will throw them back.
– What about the other night?
– The discussion was on a very high plane until you became insulting and personal and Senator O’Byrne became insulting and personal.
– You started off with the filth.
– There would have been no personalities if you had not started them.
– You threw the garbage.
– In the old Labour Party, if you gave it you took it. You give it, but you do not want to take it.
– MayI bring the debate back to the estimates before the Committee. I want to deal with a matter which I omitted to deal with before. I hope Senator Drury does not regard this as a discourtesy to him. He dealt with a refusal of naturalisation. The Act requires the applicant to be of good character. Applications are reviewed from time to time in the light of current and recent behaviour of the applicants. Senator Drury also made a reference to social service benefits. Our social services legislation provides residence in Australia for 10 years as a condition of eligibility for migrants for the age pension. This is a matter of Government policy.
– But they are told they are entitled to all social service benefits.
– We have seen similar examples here when people in their over-exuberance for the causes, sometimes overstated cases. We have all been to naturalisation ceremonies. We notice sometimes that things are said that are a little different from the actual position. But the fact is that the Act provides 10 years residence in Australia as a condition of eligibility for the age pension. Senator Toohey raised the question of the Nationality and Citizenship Act requiring a candidate to have an adequate knowledge of English. However, in the case of aged people the Minister may exercise his discretion, and this is done in many cases on compassionate grounds. The case Senator Toohey mentioned was brought to the Minister’s attention and the Minister exercised his discretion in favour of the person concerned.
– That is true, but that was after there had been a refusal on the State level and the discouragement had taken place.
– The honorable senator must bear in mind that this is a matter of policy. The Act requires a candidate to have an adequate knowledge of English.
Senator Murphy referred to British nationals who do not seek Australian citizenship. I think the human element enters into this matter. A British family does not remain very long in Australia before it considers itself Australian. Long may that continue. There is really no incentive for British subjects to seek Australian citizenship apart from obtaining an Australian passport. Otherwise they have all the right’s and privileges that Australians have. They are entitled to seek Australian citizenship after they have been here 12 months. As the honorable senator mentioned, the number of British subjects who have sought Australian citizenship is very low. There were only 3,344 in 1962-63; 3,315 in 1963-64 and 4,002 in 1964-65.
Senator Lillico referred to immigration from countries behind the Iron Curtain. In early 1956 the Australian Government sought the co-operation of the Governments of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and other Communist countries to enable the reunion of residents of those countries with relatives in Australia. The Australian Government has decided that people from those countries can come to Australia if they have relatives here who wish to sponsor them. As the granting of exit permits is entirely a matter for each sovereign government, these approaches can be made only as appeals to common humanity. With the greatest goodwill in the world, the essential thing is that persons wishing to come to Australia must have an exit visa from their own country.
Several governments, including the Government of U.S.S.R., initially promised sympathetic consideration but positive results were not forthcoming until 1959. Poland and Czechoslovakia initially rejected the approaches that were made, but subsequently Poland has issued exit permits fairly freely and Czechoslovakia has issued a number. Yugoslavia was not included in Operation Reunion until 1958. Since then a reasonable measure of success has ensued, as was mentioned earlier. As there is no British or Australian representative in Albania, nominees in that country can be dealt with only if they move to a country where there is a British or an Australian representative. As honorable senators know, we have diplomatic representation in Moscow but none in the other countries that I have mentioned, so we operate through the British diplomatic service. All things being equal, we grant permission to enter Australia when there are in Australia relatives or next of kin in certain categories who wish to bring their relatives here. The essential thing is to facilitate exit at the other end.
Proposed expenditure and proposed provision noted.
Department of Shipping and Transport
Proposed expenditure, £13,303,000.
Prosposed provision, £14,990,000.
– At the outset let me, as a Tasmanian, express my appreciation of the service which the “ Empress of Australia “ and the “ Princess of Tasmania “ are rendering to Tasmania. It is fair to say that the operation of these two vessels between Tasmania and mainland ports has been a great boon to the tourist industry and the economy of my State.
While I pay tribute to the service which these vessels are giving, certain aspects of shipping in Australia cause me some concern. One of the main points which concerns me is the lack of dry dock facilities in Australia. There are very few dry docks in Australia, and of these the number which are over 400 feet long can be counted on the fingers of both hands. There are two dry docks in Brisbane, one of which is Government owned. It is 430 feet long. The other, Cairncross, is 830 feet long. Sydney harbour is recognised as one of the best harbours in the world but it has only three dry docks. Fitzroy, the shortest, is 500 feet long, Sutherland is 690 feet long and Captain Cook is 1,139 feet long. Melbourne has only two dry docks, one being 470 feet long and the other 507 feet long. Newcastle has a floating dock 630 feet long. With the build-up of Australian based ships, particularly in the Australian National Line, there is a growing need for more dry dock facilities in Australian ports. I point out that there are no dry dock facilities in South Australia, Western Australia or Tasmania.
I make a suggestion to the Senate for what it is worth. I believe that Tasmania has a good claim to the establishment of a dry dock in Hobart. 1 suggest that earnest consideration should be given to this matter. We all agree that Hobart is one of the great ports of Australia. 1 do not want to introduce a parochial argument, but I have heard that the port of Hobart compares more than favorably with the port of Sydney. It is not necessary for tugs to be used in Hobart for the berthing of ships. In fact, one can say that the port of Hobart is in world class.
I refer now to the Melbourne-King Island Shipping Service for which an amount of £90,000 is to be provided this year as against an expenditure of £25,343 for 1964-65, which considerably exceeded the appropriation for that year. I refer also to the item in the estimates dealing with the establishment allowance for the Bass Strait islands shipping service. The expenditure on this item in 1964-65 was £8,000 and the appropriation was £5,000. The estimates do not show any amount for 1965-66. When the Minister addresses himself to the matters raised by honorable senators, I would be pleased if he would give me information on that item.
The shipping service to King Island is vital to the people on the island. The Federal Government subsidises the service between Melbourne and King Island, and the Tasmanian Government subsidises the service between Tasmania and King Island. Approaches have been made to the Federal Government to get it to subsidise that service also. The granting of the subsidy for the service between Melbourne and King Island by the Federal Government engendered a considerable amount of feeling among Tasmanian traders who had been supplying the requirements of the people on King Island. It meant that a source of revenue was immediately taken away from traders in the northern part of Tasmania. There were expressions of dissatisfaction at the introduction of the subsidy.
A few moments ago I mentioned the Australian National Line. This Line has done particularly well since its inception. If one looks at the profits that it has made between 1958 and 1965, one sees that the figures indicate good management. The Line has enjoyed prosperity. After providing for taxation and other items, the profit for 1965 was £783,737, which was the lowest for any of , me years which I have mentioned. In only one other year, 1959, did the profit of the Line fall below £1 million. I believe that that indicates very clearly the wisdom in establishing the Line. It also indicates that the Australian National Line would be justified in extending its activities to overseas routes.
I believe that if the Line were to be given the green light to go ahead and either purchase or build ships, it could operate on overseas shipping lanes and thus achieve a greater profit than it has in the years which I mentioned. Even if the Line were permitted only to purchase or build ships at the rate of two. three or four per year, we would find that very quickly it could compete with the shipping lines of other countries. One of the main difficulties we are facing in regard to transport at the present time is the freight charges of overseas shipping lines. If the Australian
National Line were permitted to operate overseas, it would mean a reduction in the cost of freights both to and from Australia, and it would enable Australian products to be put on the world market at much lower prices than at present.
I realise that 1 am not the first person who has made this suggestion. It has been advanced by honorable senators on this side of the chamber on a number of occasions, and it will continue to be advanced until such time as the Australian National Line is permitted to enter into competition with the other lines which are operating to and from our shores today, or, alternatively, until we sit on the right hand side of the President’s chair.
The proposal has been advanced on a number of occasions that we should establish an interstate commission which would co-ordinate rail, road, air and water transport in Australia and regulate the carriage of goods. I feel that if that is done Australia will be much better off in regard to both transport within the country and overseas shipping. Another reason why I commend the Australian National Line is that it has done a very good job in the transport of timber, particularly from northern Tasmania to mainland ports. The problem of transporting timber from northern Tasmania to the mainland markets has caused the Tasmanian Timber Association a headache for a very long period of time, and on many occasions representations have had to be made to the Australian National Line to make ships available to shift accumulations of timber at Tasmanian ports.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I rise to direct the attention of the Committee to one aspect of these departmental estimates. I refer to financial assistance for the King Island shipping service - for which the appropriation is £90,000. I believe we have a duty to do something real in regard to this matter, because the present position is quite inappropriate. It concerns a small outlying community. I think King Island has a population of about 3,000. In Australia there is a great drift of population to the cities, and Melbourne and Sydney at present accommodate two-thirds of our total population. Therefore decentralisation and a better distribution of our population are essential.
Good government demands that when an isolated community becomes established, a government with any national responsibility whatever will ensure that all the essential services required for the proper life of that community will be supplied. It is not a question of equating assistance to that community with any benefits that other people receive, although one would make a calculation from the point of view of relativity from time to time. We have established a community of 3,000 people - quite a meritorious farming community - on an island in Bass Strait, and I believe that government - I will come to the sharing of the responsibilities of government in a minute - is bound to maintain proper communications with that community. In this instance we are dealing with shipping communications between King Island and Victoria and Tasmania, they being the two States between which this island lies.
For a long time this community was striving to maintain itself in the face of ever increasing costs of shipping services, with only a slender subsidy - about 10s. a ton - paid by the Tasmanian Government over, I think, the last 10 years. Increasing shipping costs imposed a burden that made it impossible for some of the residents of the island to continue fanning. One has only to think of the problems of exporting produce and livestock and of importing farm requisites, household requisites and livestock, to realise the special needs of an isolated community such as this. The Commonwealth Government, after taking a long time to consider a request for a special subsidy to the King Island shipping service, made a decision which is sadly in need of review. In April last the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth), through the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty), announced that the Commonwealth Government had decided to subsidise the shipping service between Melbourne and King Island. The decision, I believe, involved a subsidy of about £2 10s. a ton.
– What is the total amount involved in the subsidy?
– I believe the total amount involved in a full year is about £65,000, but .the appropriation proposed in this year’s Estimates is £90,000. The point is that’ that subsidy is to be paid only on the shipping service between Melbourne and King Island. Senator Poke, in the course of his remarks - I found them most interesting from other points of view but 1 want to concentrate upon this matter to give it emphasis - referred to the fact that, with the advantage of that subsidy on freight from Melbourne to King Island, there was immediately a tendency for the services from Tasmania to King Island to be placed at a great disadvantage. Then there ensued a discussion between the politicians. The Premier of Tasmania, first of all, said that the Commonwealth should extend its subsidy so as to cover the Tasmania to King Island service on the same basis as the King Island to Melbourne service. The reply of the Minister for Civil Aviation was that this year the Commonwealth is paying about £8 million as a special grant to Tasmania, which should enable the Government of that State itself to lift the subsidy on the service between King Island and Tasmania. I have looked through the report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission and have found no special reference to this as an item.
My colleague, Senator Lillico, at question time this morning, asked what I felt was a very thoughtful and probing question. I thought he made the point very forcibly that from the point of view of subsidisation, there is no difference between what is required for the shipping service from the northern ports of Tasmania to King Island and what is already being given to metropolitan transport in the two main cities of Tasmania, where the deficits of the transport systems are made up out of Tasmania’s revenue, which is largely supplied by the Commonwealth. I am not interested in political disquisition or in political duck shoving in this matter. This island community deserves to be put on a business basis. We all appreciate the Federal subsidy on shipping from Melbourne to King Island, but it is imperative that .the politicians immediately find an equal benefit for the shipping service from King Island to Tasmania.
– Has the honorable senator any idea whether that would require approximately the same amount of subsidy?
– I have not made any real calculation, but I would hazard the guess - it is merely a guess - that it would require a little more than half of the figure that I mentioned for the service between Melbourne and King Island. It is quite obvious that the amount involved is very small compared with any relative figure that we may take into account. I am saying that this community exists on the island. The need for a subsidy for the service between Melbourne and the island has been recognised. I believe that it is the responsibility of us representatives of Tasmania to see that a solution is arrived at.
Having raised this point, I reserve to myself complete freedom to follow it up. As I have raised it on the floor of this chamber, I will take all the gibes that come from the standpoint of party politics. It may be suggested immediately that a motion on this matter will be moved and that I should vote for it. I am not saying that I will not do so. I reserve complete freedom to discuss this matter purposefully and to debate it. I am appealing to honorable senators as a whole to make such an impression on the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport that he will obtain from his colleague an assurance that within the next month - I think that would be a reasonable period - means will be found of resolving this piece of political duplicity. We might well accept an assurance to that effect and pass these estimates. But if the Minister simply said: “ You are talking nonsense; we will not consider the matter “, I think it would be appropriate to move for the deferment of this section of the Estimates so that he could reconsider his attitude by, perhaps, one day next week. He may even say: “ I have not really considered the imbalance that this Commonwealth subsidy has created in shipping costs, giving Melbourne a great advantage over Tasmanian ports.” Having had that pointed out to him on all sides - not necessarily only by Tasmanian senators - he might indicate, perhaps before this evening, that an adjustment will be made.
I go so far as to say, as a representative of Tasmania, that when the relevant States grants bill comes before us I would suggest a constitutional innovation. If it were proper, I would suggest that part of the funds that we are asked to vote under that States grants bill be earmarked for this essential service and that the grant to Tasmania be reduced by that amount. Subject to further debate and further consideration, what I am saying is that it is our responsibility, with a much closer knowledge of what parliamentary procedures are available to us, to resolve this question and not to leave the people on this island simply entangled in a mesh of political arguments. It is our duty to bring this matter to finality.
.- I was very interested in what Senator Wright said. I think the matter goes a little further than he suggested. Let us face the facts of it. If the people on King Island had no outlet at all, his case would be unanswerable. But they have an outlet. It seems to me that what Senator Wright is most concerned about is that they want a second outlet.
– They want equal access to Victoria and the Tasmanian mainland.
– I will put it in my own way. They want a second outlet. I agree with Senator Wright in many respects. I believe that our population should be spread more widely. Melbourne is much too big. Victoria is the most thickly populated State, and Melbourne has about 65 per cent, of the population of Victoria. Everyone in that State is anxious to decentralise population. This is purely an economic question; nothing else. I have spoken before about trying to get people away from one centre. I have heard many speeches on decentralisation in Victoria over a long period. It is purely a question of pounds, shillings and pence.
Senator Wright and his colleagues from Tasmania on both sides of the chamber - I have to be a bit careful here - have considered the matter from this angle: How much of the imports of King Island would come originally from Victoria and how much would come from the mainland of Tasmania? Things such as food may come, to a large extent, from the Tasmanian towns that are nearest to the island. But Senator Wright has to realise that about 80 or 90 per cent, of the manufactured goods sold in Tasmania come from Victoria. The adoption of this proposal might mean that the Commonwealth would be subsidising the transport of goods from Victoria to King Island via the Tasmanian mainland. If similar goods were brought from Burnie, or whatever is the nearest Tasmanian port, the transport of the goods across Bass Strait would not be subsidised and they would have to make a much longer sea voyage.
– I do not think business is done that way.
– Let us be practical about it. The ‘honorable senator mentioned farm machinery. Can he tell me where farm machinery is manufactured in his State? Most of it comes from Victoria.
– When I mentioned farming equipment I had in mind superphosphate, among other things.
– I agree that a very good case can be made out in respect of commodities such as superphosphate. I am not opposed to this proposition. But its adoption would only mean that most of the manufactured goods that would find their way to King Island via the nearest Tasmanian port would have been manufactured in Victoria.
– I think any enterprising businessman who received an order from King Island for manufactured goods would send them direct from Melbourne to King Island. He would make his profit on the transaction.
– If that is so, a person would be entitled to ask Senator Wright: How do you make out a case that the people on King Island or the people in the nearest Tasmanian port suffer such a grave disadvantage as you imply in your remarks?
– Quite often the Tasmanian markets are more advantageous for the sale of their livestock than are the Melbourne markets.
– If that is so, noone can disagree with what the honorable senator suggests. This is a question in which Tasmanians have probably taken a great interest, but it would need a pretty close study. We do not want to hurt the people on this island at all. I would be the first to support the honorable senator if there were not at least one outlet or inlet for the island, but there is already one. The only argument which impresses me is in relation to prices for the livestock that come from this island. I suppose the same might be said of the agricultural products that are grown there. Possibly at times they bring a higher price in Tasmania.
– Not everybody prefers to do business in Melbourne, I am happy to say.
– 1 do not suppose so. People are entitled to have justice done to them, wherever they live; that is fundamental. But we must look at the economic position. I rose to speak on another matter, the very vexed question as to whether we can ever really get down to investigating whether it is wise or unwise to have an overseas shipping line. I think that the Senate should appoint a committee to examine the whole position. Overseas shipping costs Australia from £130 million to £150 million a year in invisibles. All of this money goes out of Australia. In view of the present state of our overseas balances, in which invisibles play a very important part, there is a growing feeling that we should do more than talk about this matter. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) is reported to have said that the question is deserving of consideration. I believe I am right in saying that the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) has stronger views on this matter than those of his colleagues in the Government.
We should not be content only to speak about the problem. The Government should consider the appointment of a Senate committee to investigate it. I am not saying that the matter is all one sided. I recognise that there is a difficulty in getting return freights. I am most concerned with the tremendous increase in freights that the primary producers carry. Apparently, noone except the Conference lines has any say. It says that there is to be a 6 per cent, increase, and there is a hint in the Press that sooner or later further increases are likely. Let us compare the position of our own line which operates around the coast, paying Australian wages and working our own men under our own conditions. The standards of wages and conditions have always been raised as a bogy against the running of an Australian overseas line.
– But there is no foreign competition on the Australian coast, is there?
– No. The annual report of the Australian National Line gives me great pleasure to read.
– The increases in its Tasmanian freights are ruinous.
– There has not been an increase for some years.
– Not more than three years, I suggest.
– The latest report states -
Over the past seven years, the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission has been able to absorb the steady increases in operating costs experienced by the shipping industry without any general adjustment in freight rates.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– This debate gives me an opportunity to discuss the Commonwealth Government’s responsibility to assist in improving wharf conditions in Sydney. In a recent debate honorable senators opposite seemed to have a common opinion that the wharf labourers were at the bottom of all the trouble, cargo delays and slow turnround of ships, particularly at Sydney. I think in their own hearts they knew that the matter went a bit further than that. The fact is that the facilities in Sydney Harbour are really very much out of date. I wish to congratulate the Australian National Line, with which the Government is associated. I have the interesting report issued by that Line. During the debate on the Stevedoring Industry Bill I approached leaders of the wharf labourers and asked: “ Are your relations good with any line at all? Are you fighting them all, or are all the shipping companies and stevedoring companies fighting you?” They said: “ No, we have excellent relations with the Australian National Line.”
– We will discuss them, interestingly, in a minute.
– Senator Wright will be interested to learn that I took some crew members of a ship of the A.N.L. to lunch in the Parliamentary Refreshment Rooms. They ordered steaks. When I had half eaten my steak I was called to the telephone. When I came back each crew member had a fresh steak. I asked what was wrong with the other steaks and they said: “Nothing. We always double up on the National Line.” It turned out, for political reasons, to be the best value for a few pounds that I have ever obtained. Conditions are good on the Australian National Line.
One of the main troubles of the shipping industry and those industries whose products are handled on the waterfront is the obsolete machinery which modern ships are forced to use to load and discharge their cargoes. It is stated in the report that the Australian National Line has a policy of selling ships which are obsolescent. But nobody does anything about the inadequate wharfage facilities in the Port of Sydney. During the debate on the Stevedoring Industry Bill honorable senators opposite said that wharfage is the business of the States and is nothing to do with the Commonwealth Government. That was not always the position. When the Federal Government had a coal problem on its hands, it had no hesitation whatsoever in supplying funds to provide machinery on the Sydney wharves. It was then possible to export about 5 million or 6 million tons of coal a year.
– That is not completely accurate. The. honorable senator should tell the full story about the funds.
– Funds were provided by agreement with the State.
– And the Joint Coal Board.
– That is so. But the Government of the day found a way of financing the reconstruction of the coal industry. One of the first things it set out to do was improve coal loading facilities. The result is that ships of 35,000 tons bulk capacity are loading in Sydney. With the old facilities, that would not have been possible. 1 believe that the Commonwealth Government should act to improve waterfront facilities in the interests of the general trade of the country. It is foolish for the Australian National Line to build first class ships if first class wharfage facilities are not provided to handle their cargoes. I believe that the New South Wales Government would be interested in passing the necessary complementary legislation to finance the provision of modern equipment on the wharves. The Commonwealth Government assisted the New South Wales Government to construct a new harbour at Port Kembla. I know it is necessary to go along quietly. Money cannot be found suddenly to do these things. However, the Federal Govern ment ought to act to modernise the equipment on the Sydney waterfront. Although modernisation is badly needed there, I believe it is beyond the financial power of the New South Wales Government to do the job alone. Until modern loading and unloading equipment is provided on the Sydney waterfront it will not be possible to achieve a quick turnabout of shipping there. The manpower is not available. It must be remembered that the manpower available is incapable of doing the job properly without the correct equipment.
Ships are becoming modernised, as is happening with all forms of transport. Unless the Sydney waterfront is modernised, ships will have to by-pass Sydney and go to harbours where adequate loading and unloading facilities are available. I appeal to the Government to confer with the New South Wales Government with a view to starting a crash programme of reformation on the Sydney waterfront. It will soon be found that the claims made about wharf labourers did not contain much truth. The truth is that the port facilities at Sydney are inadequate and need building up. If the Commonwealth Government had not provided funds to develop new coal loading plant in Sydney, the coal industry would have been in a parlous condition today. We have to keep up with the times. If industries are mechanised but the waterfront is not, the Government is doing only half the job. If the railways are mechanised by the narrow streets leading to the wharves are still blocked so that traffic going to the wharves is restricted, the money spent on a mechanisation programme for the railways has been wasted.
– Will the honorable senator tell us his idea of what equipment should be provided on the wharves?
– It is necessary to provide modern equipment on the wharves. Five or six years ago the wharf labourers had to knock the pins out of waggons under coal hoppers. Under those conditions, it would have been impossible to export the quantities of coal we are exporting today. Even the coal lumpers resisted reforms that had to be made. Now it is no longer necessary to knock pins out of waggons and have waggons loading one at a time. Now it is possible to load vessels of 35,000 tons with the new coal loading plant. The
Government showed foresight in providing modern coal loading equipment, without which it would not be possible to export 5 million or 6 million tons of coal annually, as we are now doing. The modern loading equipment has been the saviour of the coal industry and without it there would have been very serious problems.
Honorable senators opposite are always referring to the great export coal trade. It is only possible to have this because the coal loading facilities on the Sydney wharves were modernised. The same problem must be, faced with general cargo. I am not sufficiently expert to answer Senator Mattner’s question in more detail. However, I do know that it is not of much use having modernised transport arriving at ship loading facilities that are not modernised. Without doing the whole job, it is a waste of money.
– I wish to support what Senator Ormonde has said. A “Panorama” film was shown by the national television station in Adelaide last Sunday which compared the chaos on the London docks with the situation on the wharves at Rotterdam where a vast improvement in the conditions of waterside workers has been brought about by mechanisation. To the commentator and, I think, to viewers, it seemed that a permanent solution has been found to the” problems on the Rotterdam docks. It is quite a different solution to any methods being used in Australia. I suggest to the Minister that efforts should be made to see whether that film could be shown in Parliament House to honorable senators who are interested in the waterfront. It might provide us with a new insight into the problem.
– It may be a good remedy to get somebody to bombard our docks so that we would have to rebuild them, as Rotterdam did.
– That may be one solution. Senator Ormonde would suggest that our docks have reached a stage where that is a possible solution. A completely new attitude towards mechanisation and the status of waterside workers is necessary if we are to solve our waterfront problem. I do not think the solution lies in the imposition of additional penalties on waterside workers. More probably it lies in the methods adopted at Rotterdam where it is necessary for waterside workers to attend a school and pass an examination. Conditions on the waterfront at Rotterdam have been improved to the point where it is now a highly skilled and mechanised industry. The status of those who work on the Rotterdam docks has been so improved that they are no longer regarded as ordinary labourers.
One or two items in the estimates for the Department of Shipping and Transport interest me.
I refer to Division No. 949, Payments to or for the States, and in particular to the provision for expenditure under the Railway Standardisation (South Australia) Agreement Act. Last year the appropriation was £3,779,000, but expenditure amounted to only £2,245,565. The agreement in question, which is of paramount importance to South Australia, was arrived at after long agitation by the South Australian Government. Moreover, the matter was the subject of two motions that were proposed in this chamber by South Australian Labour senators. I am querying the fact that expenditure last year was approximately £1.5 million less than the appropriation. Was the work not up to schedule? If not, what was the reason? Was it the fault of the South Australian Government or of somebody else? Alternatively, are we getting the job done more cheaply than was expected?
– A similar situation exists in regard to Western Australia.
– There are sufficient representatives from Western Australia here to seek an explanation of that fact. Let us at least keep the standardisation of the line from Port Pirie to Broken Hill up to schedule.
Provision is made also for expenditure on the promotion of road safety practices. The appropriation and the expenditure for last year was £50,000, and the same sum is to be appropriated this year. I take it that that sum is to be a grant to the States. What this item means and how the money is to be expended I am at a loss to know. I note that in Division No. 450, Administrative, provision is made for the expenditure of £96,000 on the promotion of road safety practices. Last year the amount appropriated was £100,000 but the expenditure was £104,149. It would appear that the Commonwealth is making direct grants for the promotion of road safety practices and is also allocating other moneys to the States for this purpose. I should like to know whether there has been any direction as to how the States shall spend their money, and also to have some information about how the Commonwealth spends the funds at its disposal.
In view of the fact that the death rate on roads is getting worse each year, why is there to be a reduction this year in Commonwealth expenditure on the promotion of road safety practices? If the solution to the toll of the road lies in greater promotion of road safety practices, should there not be an increase in this expenditure?
– How effective does the honorable senator think the efforts of the Australian Road Safety Council are?
– That is one of the points I was coming to. I am not an expert, and therefore am not in a position to say how effective its efforts are. I understand that in America there is a growing belief that we are emphasising road safety too much, to the detriment of safety. It is thought that people become so safety conscious that they suffer from a nervous reaction and become a bigger menace than they were before.
– The honorable senator is not seriously arguing against the promotion of road safety practices?
– No. What I am saying is that at the present time the promotion of road safety practices is not achieving the desired objective.
– Is that really so?
– Well, the incidence of road accidents is increasing. I think that is undisputed. If the incidence of road accidents were to increase in the absence of the promotion of road safety practices, then that is a reason why we should increase this grant which is designed to protect human lives. If, as has been suggested in America, the promotion of road safety is not effective but rather is detrimental, it may well be that we should look for another method of preserving human lives on the road. These are matters that call for an expert inquiry. We are reaching the stage where something must be done, because the number of injuries and deaths as a result of road accidents is reaching colossal proportions. Pedestrians in particular are suffering from a lack of safety on the roads. Recent figures relating to pedestrian accidents in South Australia are alarming.
I do not know the solution to this problem. The problem is so urgent that an investigation should be carried out and we should not simply be asked to appropriate the same amount this year as was appropriated last year. If the incidence of road accidents is increasing and if we have confidence in the value of promoting road safety practices, there should not be a reduction of Commonwealth expenditure; rather should there be an increase.
I refer now to proposed expenditure under the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads Act. The establishment of the Bureau of Roads was promised at the last election. I believe that now after a delay of two years a Director has been appointed. I do not know whether the Bureau itself has yet been set up, but we are asked to appropriate a sum of £25,000 this year for this instrumentality. I cannot find anything in the schedule of salaries and allowances that would suggest that this money is to be used for the payment of employees of the Bureau of Roads. I should like to know whom the Bureau intends to employ. When may we expect the Bureau to be an active organisation? How long will it be before we see some results from the operation of this department?
– Senator Cavanagh referred to proposed expenditure under the Railway Standardisation (South Australia) Agreement Act. Provision has been made for financial assistance to South Australia under the terms of the Act for the purpose of converting the permanent way between Port Pirie and Broken Hill to standard gauge. This project is expected to be completed in another three years. Although we are only in the comparatively early stages of construction, progress of the work is up to schedule. The increased estimate for 1965-66, which is based on a programme of works as prepared by the South Australian Railways, is an indication of the manner in which the tempo of activity is increasing.
Senator Cavanagh referred to the road safety campaign and to road safety practices. It is always risky to start me on a debate on this issue because I had the honour of being chairman of a Senate all party select committee on road safety some years ago. In considering road safety procedures and practices, we have to start with the fact that this is not something peculiar to Australia. It is a world wide phenomenon. Because of the increased speed potential of vehicles and advances in the equipment and engineering of vehicles, there has been a natural increase in road casualties. All over the world there is an acceptance of the need for public education and alertness to responsibility in this field. Nobody can argue successfully that we are not justified in providing funds for the promotion of road safety practices.
– I thought that perhaps the provision should be increased.
– The increase in the number of casualties and deaths on the roads can never be argued as a reason for not continuing and widening the road safety programmes. These programmes can be simplified within the pattern of the three E’s - education, enforcement and engineering. We have to make an impact in these fields. We seek to make an impact by cooperation between the Commonwealth and States through the Australian Transport Advisory Council on which the Commonwealth and State Governments are represented. Through this organisation, each State has set up a Road Safety Council. The activities of these Councils permeate through the local authorities and regional and area committees. At the same time superimposed on this work there is a national campaign. Senator Cavanagh asked why the amount provided for the promotion of road safety practices had been reduced this year. The simple answer is that the annual allocation was over spent the previous year and it has been adjusted.
The sovereign States have heavy responsibilities in this matter. By statute, on constitutional grounds and because they are closer to the community they have tremendous responsibilities. Speaking as an individual who has studied this subject for many years I believe the States can be forgiven for attempting something and not being successful but they cannot be forgiven for not doing anything and putting this problem in the “ too hard “ basket. In my opinion, some of the States have not seized the initiative. There is every reason why they should attempt to do something in this field. It may be that they will not succeed in stricter enforcement of regulations or conditional licensing of young drivers. They might try to do something about excessive speeds and fail. They might try to do something about breathalysers to detect the amount of alcohol consumed by people who are in trouble in road accidents and not succeed. But at least they will have tried to do something. For too long, the States have lacked initiative in this field. I believe that excessive speed is the principal killer on the roads but this cannot be put in isolation; we have to look at excessive speed in relation to engineering. If on the one hand we build high powered vehicles and neglect the engineering side of roads and highways to cope with them, the consequences are disastrous.
– How can the States do anything about it?
– In fact, they are doing something. I am not trying to minimise the magnitude of the task but my criticism is that there has not been enough experimentation. Thousands of people are being killed on the roads each year and a large percentage are young persons who die before they have the benefit of a full and useful life. I speak as one who has given a lot of thought to this matter. Senator Kennelly is looking at me with a glint in his eye because he thinks I am suggesting that engineering is the main problem. But all I am saying is that if you have new cars and new models of cars each year which are faster and better, and do not achieve an improvement in road engineering correspondingly, you immediately have an element where the risk in road safety must show itself.
– It is not as easy as that.
– I know it is not as easy as that but it is an element. As I have said the three E’s - education, enforcement and engineering - are the fields where we have to try to make an impact. The Commonwealth has made a contribution to the States each year. The States themselves need to frame legislation designed to contribute towards the solution of this problem.
It is interesting to study world wide figures. There is a clear pattern applying to the age group between 17 and 23 years and to the group from 60 years on. There is a clear pattern concerning excessive speed and that is where the main factors lie.
Having dealt with that matter, I wish to come back to the points which were made by Senator Wright. I have always had a great admiration for Senator Wright. There is no doubt that he goes fairly solidly when he decides to give battle. In my innocence I looked at the matter to which he referred and saw that it was Division No. 450, subdivision 3, item 05, which relates to financial assistance to the Melbourne-King Island shipping service and the establishment allowance for the Bass Strait Island shipping service. I thought: “ This time, the Department of Shipping and Transport and I, who represent the Minister for Shipping and Transport will receive some commendation. The Commonwealth is providing a subsidy in relation to shipping between King Island and Melbourne. This is breaking new ground. The debate will not be marked by all the distress and argument about King Island such as we have had in relation to the discussion on soldier settlement and closer settlement there.” To my sorrow and disappointment Senator Wright went into attack, although he said very gently: “ Thank you very much for what you have done. But we want to subsidise the service not only from King Island to Melbourne but also from King Island to the island of Tasmania.” I cannot accept the proposition he puts forward that we should take drastic action on these estimates regarding his submission.
– This is the one occasion in the parliamentary year that I can raise this matter.
– Senator Wright is perfectly entitled to make a submission with all the force, vigour and skill that he possesses. We do not ignore that fact. He says: “ Strip this matter of all its political duplicity. Strip it of its political arguments. Give the Tasmanian Government and the King Islanders what I am asking for.” But Senator Wright would be the first in this chamber to express a resolute and forthright conviction in relation to our Federal system. I do not think that the facts of life can be disposed of by anticipation. In other words, this matter cannot be disposed of merely by stripping it of its political argument. The political argument that the States themselves have quite substantial responsibilities in this field must remain. Earlier in the sessional period, in the debate on the Loan (War Service Land Settlement) Bill the honorable senator was provided with a far more logical opportunity to pursue his argument. Having made an initial impact in that debate, he could then take up the running on the issue. Quite clearly, there is a factor involved in the grants-in-aid to Tasmania and the expenditure that would be incurred in this extra concessional provision for the King Islanders. So I say to the honorable senator quietly - I do not want to engender any heat in this matter - that he has made his argument, as have some other Tasmanian senators, on this point and I do not think that the forms of the Committee lend themselves to a further promotion of it. As the honorable senators will recognise, it is a matter of government policy.
– Government policy ls not sacrosanct.
– It is a matter-
Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, although I am short of voice, I rise in this debate to address my remarks to the estimates of the Department of Shipping and Transport in relation to the financial assistance to the MelbourneKing Island shipping service and the establishment allowance for the Bass Strait Island shipping service. It has been interesting to listen to the comments made by the Minister in the last few minutes regarding the queries by Senator Wright in relation to the proposed subsidy of £90,000 to shipping services between King Island and Melbourne. Let me say that, in my experience, the work of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission, which controls these coastal shipping services, is a great credit to those in charge of that organisation. I have paid particular attention to this service. I have travelled in the freight ships from Tasmania to Victoria. Their efficiency and their modern techniques reflect great credit on the Commission. The generation of business between Tasmania and Victoria, the benefits of which both States enjoy at this time, is due in no small measure to the work of the Australian coastal shipping service.
Speaking directly to this subsidy of £90,000, I consider it is interesting to note that the points that have been raised in this matter have been avoided - perhaps not intentionally - by the Minister.
– I was about to touch on them when my time expired.
– The basic need, when we are considering this subsidy, is to take account of the conditions that existed prior to the introduction of the subsidy. When the transport of goods from point A to point B is encouraged by subsidy when previously goods travelled from point A to points C and D, grounds for inquiry are established. The Minister did not answer the query. I imagine that the inquiry from the Tasmanian senators is based mainly on the fact that much of the trade being stimulated between Tasmania and King Island was promoted by the original shipping service from the various islands in the Strait to Tasmania. I criticise the Tasmanian senators because they have not said that this subsidy should be applicable to shipping services to islands in addition to King Island. The subsidy is for the benefit purely of residents of King Island for the shipping service between that island and the mainland of Victoria. Certainly, something should be done to widen this field. Every island in this group should have the benefit of the subsidy. Although I am a Victorian, I do not suggest that this service should operate necessarily to the port of Melbourne.
The query I raise on this matter may produce comments from and perhaps be endorsed by, my fellow senators. Honorable senators may be interested to know that, prior to the allocation of this subsidy, quite a volume of the livestock from King Island was transported to Port Welshpool in Gippsland. Then, I believe without any intention on the part of the Department, financial assistance is given and the effect is to direct the freight to the great port of Melbourne.
Over a period of 12 months, I have written letters galore to the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) and his Department. Generally, the answers that I have received are unsatisfactory. It is sufficient to say that it is good that transport facilities should be encouraged and that some compensation should be given to the dwellers on King Island. If I remember my facts correctly, prior to the granting of this subsidy, some 23 voyages were made by two vessels which traded between King Island and Port Welshpool. In the last 10 years the people of Victoria have endeavoured to encourage the decentralisation of the Melbourne area and have said that the port of Portland and Port Welshpool should be made greater ports. But the present proposition reacts against this proposal. The “ King Islander “ and, if I remember the name correctly, the “ Londonderry “ used to make regular visits with stock from King Island to Port Welshpool. Suddenly this service stopped. A subsidy was given in respect of freight to the port of Melbourne. This created some difficulties.
– What is the comparative distance?
– I would say that Port Welshpool is closer than Melbourne, and I think that is the reason why freight flowed that way.
– How far is Port Welshpool from Melbourne?
– I think it would be well over 120 miles. Suffice it to say that there was a generation of trade from King Island to a port which is growing largely as a result of its use by ships connected with the intensive search for oil in the area. But for that factor, I suppose the port would be closed. That is something that I, as a Victorian, would not want to see.
I took up this matter with the Minister to find out why the Government had subsidised the service between King Island and Melbourne although, prior to the introduction of the subsidy, I imagine the trade flowed to Tasmania and to decentralised ports such as Port Welshpool. On two occasions the Minister replied to the effect that the factors which prompted payment of a subsidy on cargo carried to the port of Melbourne did not exist in relation to Port Welshpool. On I think two occasions I asked what this meant because I was anxious to learn the factors that he had mentioned. I could only imagine that the Newmarket saleyards, being among the largest in Australia, were the attraction and that freight and stock could be landed in
Melbourne and hurried through to Newmarket at a lower cost than would be incurred by sending them elsewhere. Perhaps, as some people assert, certain interests were being promoted by the subsidy and the direction of freight to Melbourne.
– Does the honorable senator mean road transport interests?
– I do not know what the interests are, but undoubtedly they are varied.
– Road transport interests would be served by the maintenance df Port Welshpool, would they not?
– I should think they would be. At least markets within the area and in Gippsland would be served and people living beyond the limits of Melbourne would also be served. -Senator Hannaford. - Then this would be double ended.
– Not necessarily. If there was a good market for stock in an area close to Port Welshpool, the people of King Island would want to sell their stock there, but only if the return was better than that received in Tasmania. There we have two factors. In two areas there was a volume of trade being generated. I cannot understand from the information I have received from the Minister why the subsidy was directed towards cargo going to the port of Melbourne. I only know that suddenly the two areas were cut out. For some unknown reason, since I wrote to the Minister, there has been a generation of trade back to the Port Welshpool area. In the first three months of this year five trips were made.
– From King Island?
– I believe from King Island to Port Welshpool.
– Is the roll on roll off system used?
– I do not think the subsidy applies to the roll on roll off system so far as King Island is concerned.
– The “ King Islander “ uses the roll on roll off system, but I do not think facilities exist at Port Welshpool to handle the vessel.
– How can you transport cattle on a roll on roll off basis?
– It is very easy. The “ Bass Trader “, which is an excellent vessel, uses the roll on roll off system on runs between Tasmania and Melbourne. Cattle are loaded on to a semi-trailer, the truck is rolled into the ship, tied down by thumb screws to hoops along the tracks, left there overnight and rolled off at the other end at the end of the journey. That is the roll on roll off system.
– This is actually happening now with the “ Bass Trader “?
– Yes. On my last trip the vessel had blood stock and other stock headed for the market. This is a wonderful thing. There must be certain facilities when there is a rising tide. That is the point. If there is a tide variation of 10 feet, there must be some means of rolling cargo from the vessel without it ending up in the water.
I congratulate the Government and the Department for providing the subsidy. It is an excellent thing. However, prior to the granting of the subsidy some consideration should have been given to existing markets and to locations from which trade will flow. I believe that was not done. The information I have received from the Department has not established to my satisfaction that the trade between King Island, other islands and decentralised ports such as Port Welshpool was taken into account.
– I intervene briefly to comment upon that portion of Division No. 450 which relates to the Melbourne to King Island shipping service. The problem which faced the Commonwealth some time, ago when it decided to pay the very ample subsidy of 50s. a ton was how to alleviate the freight burden upon the residents of King Island, where there is a substantial soldier settlement. They have their own particular difficulties and problems. Surely it was never intended by the Commonwealth that the subsidy on cargo between King Island and Victoria would result in discrimination between services to Tasmania and services to Victoria, but that has been the result.
– In part.
– It is one of many results. Perhaps some of the results were unexpected. The subsidy is a good thing and much appreciated, but the fact that there is a subsidy does not mean that the Commonwealth should stop there and pay no regard to the side effects. These are considerable. They bounce in many directions. For instance, the lowering of the freights on cargo carried from King Island to Victoria has had a very adverse effect upon the abattoirs on King Island. Whereas formerly the abattoirs killed the beasts and the carcases were sent to Victoria, it is now cheaper to ship the cattle. The result is that the abattoirs on King Island are suffering heavy losses every month. That is one debit against the credit of the subsidy.
Further, the whole balance of trade between King Island and the Tasmanian mainland has been disturbed. Previously King Island wool was sent to Devonport for sale in Tasmania. That practice will come to an end. Tasmania is a large timber producing area. Previously timber was sent direct from Tasmania to King Island. That practice also will stop. If there is no subsidy on services between Tasmania and King Island the timber will be sent to Victoria and then returned from Victoria to King Island, with the result that the people on King Island who buy the timber will have to pay double freight. In that way a good deal of the benefit of the subsidy will be lost.
Superphosphate, which is available in Tasmania, will almost certainly be purchased from Victoria because it is some £2 3s. 6d. a ton cheaper. Prior to the granting of this subsidy the freight on general cargo from Victoria to Tasmania was 133s. a ton, and from King Island to Tasmania 108s. a ton. There was a differential very much in favour of Tasmania. Now it has shifted. The VictoriaKing Island trade operates at 83s. per ton, and that to Tasmania at 108s. per ton. That has a grievous effect upon all kinds of trade from Tasmania to King Island. I have a list of the commodities that are imported into King Island, not from Victoria but from Tasmania. Besides timber and superphosphate, it includes cement, coke, coal, fruit, potatoes, fuels and oils, flour and other items.
The main exports from King Island to Tasmania are butter, wool and livestock. The production of wool is increasing annually. More and more bales are being shipped each year, lt is certain that unless something is done to adjust the freight rates that apply between Tasmania and King Island, the shipping service now operating there will disappear. The net result will be the transference of the King Island trade entirely to Victoria and the disappearance of trade direct with Tasmania, except by the circuitous route from Tasmania to Victoria and back to King Island. That is not a desirable result and I believe it is not one that the Commonwealth intended.
The Public Works Department in Tasmania in all its contracts specifies that Tasmanian labour and materials are to be used. With that clause operating - and it is a proper one from the point of view of the Tasmanian Government - it simply means that, on the cessation of the shipping link between Tasmania and King Island, Tasmanian tenderers for work on King Island will be right out of the picture. They will not be in a position to tender against tenderers from the mainland because they will be faced with the necessity of transporting materials to Victoria and from Victoria back to King Island instead of by the short route across from the Tasmanian mainland. These are some of the factors that are operating at the present time.
To be fair, the matter is not as simple as subsidising only the King Island service. As Senator Webster quite properly pointed out, there are other islands, particularly Flinders Island, to be considered. The main trade of Flinders Island comes to Tasmania and not to Victoria. A subsidy could hardly be given to the shipping service between King Island and Tasmania without a similar subsidy being given to the shipping service between Flinders Island and Tasmania. To produce a basis of equality, it would take approximately £79,000 or £80,000 per annum to subsidise the two services. That is not a large amount when we consider the total Commonwealth revenue, but we cannot look at one situation and disregard the other. We have to look at both situations.
The question has been asked: Why does not the State Government provide an additional subsidy of £2 10s. per ton, as the Commonwealth does, to equalise matters? Tasmania is heavily dependent upon the Commonwealth for its revenues. It is under the constant supervision of the Commonwealth Grants Commission. Apart from the fact that the Tasmanian Government has not the money to make it readily available, there is the fear that if it does provide an amount it will be penalised by the Commonwealth Grants Commission as incurring expenditure for which there is no comparable basis in the standard States of New South Wales and Victoria. Recently in the Senate I asked whether, if the Tasmanian Government granted such a subsidy, the Commonwealth Government would join with it in asking the Commonwealth Grants Commission not to penalise the State. The answer I received was that the suggestion contained in the question would be considered if and when the need to consider it arose. In other words, the Government completely sidestepped the question.
The position might be a lot easier for the Premier of Tasmania and the State Government if the Commonwealth would say at this stage: “ If you incur the expenditure we will support an argument addressed by you to the Commonwealth Grants Commission that you should not be penalised”. From the answer which I received on that occasion, I understand that there is no comparable position in the standard States. The State Governments of New South Wales and Victoria do subsidise intrastate shipping services. If some assurance from the Treasury could be forthcoming, that the Commonwealth Government will accept the suggestion that I have made and will support an application to the Grants Commission not to penalise Tasmania if it provides a subsidy, the State Government might be more readily induced to take action, either alone or in conjunction with the Commonwealth.
I have stated the broad elements to the Committee. We have the situation where the Commonwealth, by moving to alleviate the position on an island, is creating a great disturbance of the trade with the mainland of Tasmania. Its action has the effect of diverting trade from Tasmania to Victoria. I think that is an adequate reason why the Commonwealth should look very carefully at this problem and at all the side effects. It should consider, not only the position of King Island, but also the position of Flinders Island. On 15th June 1965 the Premier of Tasmania, in a letter that he wrote to the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) in his capacity as Acting Prime Minister, suggested that a committee should look at this question. He said -
I have noted from a report in the last issue of the “King Island News” that Senator Henty stated in the Senate that the Commonwealth Committee which investigated and approved the subsidy on the Melbourne-King Island shipping service, has been reconvened to study the need for equalisation of freights between Tasmania and King Island, and also the effect of the subsidy on air freights from Tasmania or Victoria to King Island. If this is so, it would be appreciated if you would refer the letter from the Chairman of the King Island Abattoir Board to the Committee, or else take other appropriate action.
As a result of that letter, I asked the Minister whether if there was such a committee, it could not be reconvened to consider the various aspects that quite briefly and perhaps inadequately I have touched upon, to see whether it is fair that the Tasmanian trade should be disrupted in the way I have described and that the Tasmanian tenderers for contracts on behalf of the Public Works Department should be forced out of the field; and to see that justice is done between the residents of King Island on one side of the Strait and of Flinders Island on the other. I hope we will get an assurance from the Minister that all of these side effects will be looked at and that the committee will be reconvened so that it can examine the various aspects that have been put by the State Government and other interested bodies in Tasmania to see that justice is done.
Tasmania is not so affluent or strong in population, resources or activities that it can afford to be weakened in any particular. What has been done has had an adverse effect upon the trade from Tasmania to King Island and from the island to Tasmania. The Government never really intended to do what has been done or did not really foresee the effects of what has been done. But now that the subsidy has been in operation for some time, now that its effects are much more apparent and now that the problems involved are a bit more clear, why not lay out the facts, test them at a conference of all interested parties, including the Government of Tasmania, and get down to a sensible solution of the problem so that the intended result may be achieved? The decentralised activities of Flinders Island and King Island should not be adversely affected by action that has been taken to deal with one part of the problem. The whole situation has not been looked at. I think it ought to be looked at as a whole.
.- I also rise, to comment on the Melbourne to King Island shipping service, to which Senator McKenna referred. The Commonwealth subsidy on the shipping service from Melbourne to King Island has been a great boon. In point of fact, it has saved the position economically on King Island. Freight rates on the service from King Island to Melbourne - the service, used to carry nearly everything produced on the Island - reached such a height that probably it would have been difficult for the producers on the island to carry on with any reasonable chance of success. But the subsidy brought disadvantages with it. Senator McKenna referred to the abattoirs. I do not see how the difficulty there could have been avoided. It is true that this subsidisation, which was very much more generous than was ever anticipated, has placed the abattoirs in the position that they are finding it difficult to compete and that stock is going out on the hoof, by means of this roll on roll off shipping service, to Melbourne.
I am fairly familiar with the service that has operated between King Island and Tasmania over the years. Even before the introduction of this subsidy, when the King Island to Tasmania service could compete on fairly even terms with the King Island to Melbourne service, it can truly be said that those who operated the service from Tasmania to King Island found great difficulty in keeping it going. Of course, with the payment of the subsidy on the King Island to Melbourne service they were placed in an impossible position. The King Island to Tasmania service will go out of existence if something is not done for it. I have been told by shipping people on King Island that approximately half the island’s requirements of superphosphate came from Risdon - I think these proportions are approximately correct - and the other half from Victoria. As Senator McKenna has pointed out, this subsidy has meant that Victorian superphosphate can undercut Tasmanian superphosphate on the King Island market by approximately £2 a ton.
I know it is not well to look a gift horse in the mouth, but the difficulty is that this subsidy is paid, in effect, to one service and to one ship. The effect is that the people on the island are tied - in their imports from Victoria, which of course will increase, and in the export of their products - to one service and to one man. Before this subsidy was introduced the shipping service to Melbourne, according to people on the island, was so unsatisfactory in regard to butter shipments that the farmers diverted their butter from Melbourne to cool stores at Devonport, using the King Island-Tasmania service. They did that because in the other service they were at the mercy of one ship and one man and the service they were getting did not suit them. As I have said, because that service was unsatisfactory they diverted the whole of their butter output to cool stores at Devonport.
The advent of the subsidy meant that they had to revert to the other service, which had some disabilities which they claimed could have been remedied had there been a will to remedy them. The service which has operated for so many years between King Island and Tasmania will certainly go out of existence. It is a great pity that the people of the island - there are nearly 3,000 of them - should be tied to one shipping service, which is a complete and absolute monopoly. Having said that, let me say again that I appreciate what the Commonwealth has done. It was a wonderful gesture.
Senator Kennelly referred to the advantages that could accrue if the service to Tasmania continues. It is always an advantage to have an alternative route and an alternative service so that people - as the King Islanders did in the case of their butter - can exercise freedom of choice. The great pity about the present position is that the amount that would be required to remedy it is comparatively small. I believe that the subsidy paid by the State Government on the King Island to Tasmania service and the Flinders Island to Tasmania service is approximately £36,000. Assuming half of that sum goes to the King Island service, the subsidy paid by the State Government on that service would be approximately £18,000. The State Government has refused to increase its subsidy and the Commonwealth Government has stated that it will not embark upon subsidisation of intrastate shipping services, so the people of the island are caught between two governments. Although only a comparatively small amount is involved, the matter is going backward and forward, from one government to the other. That is most unfortunate.
Whilst I cannot understand the attitude of the State Government, I cannot go along with Senator McKenna’s idea in regard to the Commonwealth Grants Commission. Mr. Reece has said that the £36,000 subsidy has not changed for many years, but during that time freight charges between King Island and Tasmania have increased considerably. Looking back through the reports of the Grants Commission, we do not find that it has ever made an unfavorable budgetary adjustment in respect of the subsidies on the King Island to Tasmania and Flinders Island to Tasmania services. If that subsidy were brought into line with existing freight rates- if it were increased commensurately with the increases that have taken place in freight rates - it would be indeed surprising if the Grants Commission were to inflict an adverse adjustment on Tasmania.
I have before me a considered Treasury opinion on this matter. In making this statement in reply to a question that I asked him today, Senator Henty was not speaking off his own bat. He obtained this considered opinion from the Commonwealth Treasury. The significant sentence in the statement was - if the shipping subsidies -
He was referring to the subsidies on shipping services between the Tasmanian mainland and King Island and Flinders Island and commenting on the attitude of the Commonwealth Grants Commission -
There he was referring to the losses incurred by the Metropolitan Transport Trust in Hobart, Launceston and Burnie -
Is it not perfectly apparent that that sentence indicates that the £36,000 that is paid by the Tasmanian Government in freight subsidies in respect of shipping services to these two islands in Bass Strait is being reimbursed by the Commonwealth Government through the Commonwealth Grants Commission? That is a considered Treasury opinion. I repeat that, if the subsidy were increased commensurately with the increases in freight rates that have taken place since the subsidy was inaugurated, surely it would be most extraordinary for the Commonwealth Grants Commission, after pursuing the policy that it has pursued in regard to this matter for many years, suddenly to turn in its tracks and say: “ We have to stop this. It cannot go on. We will bring about an unfavourable budgetary adjustment”. Surely that would be extraordinary, especially in view of the fact that the loss on the Western Australian State Shipping Service - Western Australia is the other claimant State - amounts to about £11/4 million.
However that may be, the fact that this matter, which so deeply affects the people of King Island in particular, should become a subject of buck-passing between the Commonwealth and Tasmanian Governments is very unfortunate. Let there be no misconception. It is a very definite and distinct advantage for the people of King Island to have a shipping service with the Tasmanian mainland which can compete on favourable terms with the shipping service between the island and Melbourne. It is of no use to ask, as Senator Kennelly did: Can you indicate what benefit would accrue from an increased subsidy? It goes without saying that a very definite benefit would accrue from it. It is completely necessary that these people have an alternative shipping service to the Tasmanian mainland. The mere fact that this service operated for so many years and carried so much freight between the Tasmanian mainland and King Island indicates the very great necessity for continuing it.
Senator McKenna has suggested that a certain committee should try to do something about this matter.
– Does the honorable senator know what the committee’s proposition is?
– Senator McKenna mentioned that this committee was established, did he not?
– The committee as referred to in a letter from the Premier of Tasmania to Mr. McEwen. It was set up for the purpose of looking into the question of freights from King Island to Victoria.
– Was it a Commonwealth committee?
– I do not know how it was constituted. I asked the Minister to tell me that. The honorable senator might ask the Minister that question. I cannot help him.
– Anything that will bring about some alleviation of the present position will certainly have my support.
– I rise to express surprise at the paucity of the appropriation for the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads and to make one or two other comments about the Bureau. I note that the appropriation for this financial year is a mere £25,000. Having regard to what Ministers said from time to time about the urgency of the need to establish the Bureau, I believe that what the President of the Long Distance Road Transport Association of Australia said recently is quite correct. He said that the Government seems to be soft pedalling and to have gone cold on the idea of a Commonwealth Bureau of Roads.
We remember that during the 1963 Federal election campaign the Government undertook to establish a Commonwealth Bureau of Roads. Towards the end of the sittings of the Parliament in 1964 the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads Bill was rushed through. At about that time, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) went on record as saying, with reference to the Bureau -
We intend to push on with its early establishment because it has a big and urgent job to do, and the sooner it gets launched on the task the better it will be.
That statement was made about 17 or 18 months ago. Now we see that only £25,000 has been appropriated by the Government for this purpose. Obviously, the Bureau will not do much this year in making an overall survey of road requirements. In the notes provided by the Department of Shipping and Transport, the section dealing with the Bureau states -
Funds provided are to meet the cost of salaries administrative expenses and the like, which will be incurred on the setting up of the Bureau following the recent appointment of Mr. H. T. Loxton as Chairman.
As far as I can see, all that that means is that this appropriation of £25,000 is only for the purpose of drawing in !he necessary staff to get the Bureau under way.
This matter o*. road construction and development should be treated as one of urgency not only by the Government but also by the Department. I would like to know when the other members of the Bureau - the part time members - will be appointed and what Mr. Loxton has been doing since he was appointed Chairman. I understand that he was appointed in August of this year. Frankly, I agree with what the President of the Long Distance Transport Association of Australia said in June of this year. He said - Until it-
That is the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads - . . is established, we will not get the development we expect, especially on national roads . . . The Government seem to be soft pedalling and have gone real cold on it. They have been overlong in fulfilling their promise.
All that I need to say is that the Government has been pulling the wool over the eyes of many people in regard to this Bureau. This is certainly confirmed by the paucity of the amount to be appropriated under this division.
I refer now to Division No. 949, which relates to payments to or for the Stales, and I am concerned particularly with expenditure under the Railway Standardisation (South Australia) Agreement Act and under the Railway Agreement (Western Australia) Act. For the work in South Australia an appropriation of £3.7 million was made last year, of which only £2.2 million was actually expended.
– I have already raised that matter.
– I am raising it in connection with another aspect. The appropriation last year for the work in Western Australia was £7.5 million, of which only £5.1 million was expended. I should like to know why there were overappropriations last year. I raise this matter because when the rail standardisation work is eventually completed a standard gauge line between east and west will become effecvice The New South Wales Government has been pressing for some time for upgrading of the railway line between Parkes and Broken Hill to meet the effects of rail standardisation. It is contended that this work should be the subject of Commonwealth assistance. The condition of the track between Parkes and Broken Hill, although it is of the standard 4 ft. 8i inch gauge, is such that unless there is upgrading with sufficient ballasting to cope with increased traffic trains will have to be slowed to a mere five miles an hour practically all the way between these two towns. Therefore, benefits to be derived by rail standardisation throughout will be eroded by time wastage.
I know from representations that I have made to the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) that the Premier of New South . Wales has applied to the Commonwealth Government on two or three occasions for this matter to be considered. It has been roughly estimated by the New South Wales Commissioner for Railways that the cost of the work would be £4 million. In view of the fact that last year there was under expenditure of £1.5 million on the South Australian project and £2.5 million on the West Australian project, it certainly cannot be said that money is not available for this purpose. Therefore, I should like the Government to give the utmost and earnest consideration to the reasonable requests of the New South Wales Government. If they are ignored and if the New South Wales Government cannot find finance to cope with the extra ballasting of the line between Parkes and Broken Hill, the benefits to be derived eventually from standardisation will be very considerably eaten into, as a result of the necessity to move trains at about five miles an hour over the considerable distance of line concerned.
.- I was quite interested in the points raised by Senator Cavanagh, first, under Division 450 in relation to railway standardisation and, secondly, under Division No. 949 in relation to road safety practices. There is no doubt that he is quite right. Most people in Australia recognise the importance of something effective being done to reduce the toll of the roads. People speak about this subject more than about almost any other subject. I listened with extraordinary care to the Minister’s reply to Senator Cavanagh. As I understood the Minister, he explained that under one vote there is provision for Commonwealth expenditure in relation to the promotion of road safety practices. We know that advertisements and other material in relation to the need for safety on the roads are issued for public consumption. I was a little surprised to hear him say that he felt that more work could be done by the States and that they should carry greater responsibility than they carry now. Perhaps this would be quite acceptable if it were not that I gathered he meant that the States were not in fact doing as much as he expected them to do. If that was the implication of his comment, I should like to take issue with him.
I know that most of the States have been concentrating much attention on this section of their administration. Admittedly, they have not been extraordinarily successful, but lack of success in a field such as this does not necessarily mean that sufficient work is not being done. The Minister mentioned breathalysers and other facilities. He mentioned also the three e’s - education, enforcement and engineering - which are recognised as important by all who concentrate on a solution of this problem. I know from my own experience that in Queensland a great deal of effort was expended in an endeavour to reduce the toll of the road. Experiments were tried in all sorts of methods, in analysing the breath of drivers, and in the use of a rad.’ir unit to detect speeding drivers and separate them from others in a group. Dozens of other methods were used in an endeavour to reduce the toll. Unfortunately, as I say, they were not successful. The reason that these efforts are not successful, in my view, is that however much a government might try to reduce the road toll, in the final analysis the problem rests with the driver himself. Representatives of the Governments of Queensland and other states met regularly to discuss and analyse the problem and work out ways to overcome it. I heard their discussions. The final conclusion they reached was that irrespective of what was done by governments to enforce the laws and educate motorists, in essence the problem really lay with the inattention of drivers. Fundamentally, this was the cause of most accidents. They broke up the causes of drivers’ inattention into several groups: Inattention because of distraction by signs on the roadside; by passengers; because of over-tiredness; and because of overconfidence. In essence, the problem arose from lack of attention or concentration by drivers. It was an extraordinarily interesting exposition to which I listened and the more I have thought about that discussion, the more I believe that fundamentally drivers’ inattention is the root of the problem. However much money we spend, unless we can get the message over to drivers we will not successfully overcome the problem of road safety. As cars become faster, the safety time factor is reduced. Twenty years ago, if a driver were distracted for a second, possibly very little damage would result; but today because of the increased numbers and speed of cars, distraction of a driver for even one second can frequently lead to a serious accident.
I have a great deal of sympathy for the people who are attempting to solve the problems of road safety. They are trying to the best of their ability and are deeply distressed that their efforts are unsuccessful. I would not like it thought that the people responsible for road safety in the States are not facing up to their responsibility with a great deal of thought and heartburning. If a final solution is to be found, I am sure that all Governments will willingly take the necessary action.
– I wish to refer to the matters raised by Senator McClelland. He referred to the inadequacy of the appropriation for the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads and to tardiness in connection with the Bureau. Contrary to what the honorable senator said, Mr. Loxton was not appointed until 1st October.
– That makes it longer still.
– But the point of the honorable senator’s argument was that Mr. Loxton was appointed in August and that little had been accomplished since then. In fact, he was appointed on 1st October and the other members of the Bureau have not yet been appointed. It should be realised that the appropriation of £25,000 represents initial expenditure under the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads Act. It is simply an arbitrary assessment of the funds required to pay the salaries and other administrative expenses arising out of Mr. Loxton’s appointment, and other developments. Quite obviously, the starting point must be the appointment of the Chairman. I think it is a little soon to be critical of the amount of the appropriation and of the action taken by the Chairman since his appointment. Senator McClelland might say that his argument also related to the fact that something should have been done prior to the appointment of the Chairman. I am merely dealing with the second aspect of the honorable senator’s argument. Should this recruitment programme be sufficiently successful and subsequently the funds provided are inadequate, a supplementary provision can be made in a later Appropriation Act. I think that is the real point of the exercise.
– That certainly will have to be done.
– A decision will be made in the light of future circumstances. The honorable senator also referred to rail standardisation. He said that because there was an under-expenditure in South Australia and Western Australia there was justification for work to be done on the link in the New South Wales network between Parkes and Broken Hill. I again remind the honorable senator, with great respect, that while he was accurate as far as he went, he could have gone on to say that the estimate for Western Australia is to rise by no less than £5 million - by 100 per cent. In 1964-65 expenditure on rail standardisation in Western Australia was £5.132.637. The estimated expenditure this year is £10,150,000. I think this point rather destroys the launching pad for the honorable senator’s argument.
– The actual expenditure might not reach that amount this year. That is the estimated expenditure. Judged by the last figures, it certainly will be under that amount.
– That is a fairly superficial argument. The honorable senator should not imagine that the figures in the Estimates are pulled out of the clouds. They are based on probabilities and expectations and on the advice of the people who are most competent to advise the Government. In certain circumstances there is underexpenditure and in other circumstances there is over-expenditure. Fundamentally, the figures are based on the Government’s intention. The Government’s intention is to spend over £10 million this year on rail standardisation in Western Australia. I shall deal now with the argument that in the standardisation programme it is necessary to accept the need to strengthen the line between Parkes and Broken Hill. I do not wish to argue on whether that link is up to the standard desired by the New South Wales Government Railways. That is the problem of that body. Surely there is a vast difference between the improvement of the quality of that link and the standardisation programme which involves a change of gauge.
– Do they not go hand in hand?
– Not necessarily. It might be said: “Why stop at Parkes? What happens when Orange is reached? A section of the line there is not too good.”
– We shall stop at Parkes for the time being.
– It suits the honorable senator, just now, to stop at Parkes. In switching to standard gauge in South Australia and Western Australia it may well be that a complete new line is constructed. I am not an expert on the engineering side, but if the Victorian experience is to be used as a pattern to be followed, that may be the case. The New South Wales Government says: “Wait on. There happens to be a link between Broken Hill and Parkes which needs improvement. Let us get in for our chop, too.” I suppose that the previous New South Wales Government adopted a very human approach. I understand that its representations to the Commonwealth have been followed by representations by the present Premier of New South Wales. I think it is elementary that if the principle is accepted that the Commonwealth should pay for the strengthening of the line between Parkes and Broken Hill, it will pay wherever a State government makes a claim for an interstate link and says: “ Interstate vehicles are being run on this link. The Commonwealth should pay for its improvement under its rail standardisation scheme.”
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
Motion (by Senator Henry) agreed to -
That further consideration of the proposed expenditure and proposed provision for the Department of Shipping and Transport be postponed until after consideration of the proposed expenditure and proposed provision for the Department of
Department of Civil Aviation.
Proposed expenditure, £18,705,000.
Proposed provision, £2,600,000.
– Before we proceed any further I should like to answer some of the questions that were asked earlier. Senator Cavanagh ranged over a wide field of subjects. He commenced by referring to the recent increase in air fares. I want to take advantage of this opportunity to correct some misunderstandings which honorable senators on the other side apparently have on this subject. My comments will serve also to correct some inaccuracies in the statements that were made by Senator Kennelly earlier. Comparisons were made between the increase in TransAustralia Airlines’ revenue of approximately £4 million and increases in the costs of the Australian National Airlines Commission. Senator Kennelly pointed out that the Commission’s direct operating costs had increased by only £2 million but that revenue had increased by £4 million. These direct operating costs, however, related only to flying costs of aircraft and did not include indirect operating expenses and ground and administrative expenses, which in 1964- 65 totalled about £9.4 million. If we compare the total expenses of the airline and its tax provision between the two years, an increase in costs of nearly £4 million is shown. This is, in effect, a justification for the increase in fares that was applied some 12 months ago, and it provides further support for the increase I recently approved and which is intended to cover known increases in costs which will occur during the current year.
Senator Cavanagh referred also to increased appropriations for my Department this year and under-expenditure of those same appropriations last year. He said that the appropriations for last year under Division No. 135, Administrative, and Division No. 140, Civil Aviation Facilities, had been underspent to the extent of £1.325 million. This is a gross inaccuracy. The total appropriation for the Department of Civil Aviation in 1964-65 was £17.656 million, and of that sum £17.482 million was spent. This represents an underexpenditure over a very wide range of activity of only £175,000. It is quite apparent, therefore, that no single appropriation within the total could have been underspent by more than a very minor sum. My Department’s ability to expend its appropriations in accordance with its long term programmes of expenditure is something of which it can be proud. Therefore, 1 am most anxious to correct any false impression which honorable senators may have gained from Senator Cavanagh’s remarks.
The honorable senator went on to refer to further items in the estimates of my Department. It is true that a lower estimate is provided for payments under the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act than was provided last year. However, expenditure under this head cannot be estimated and it is the Department’s usual practice, with Treasury concurrence, each year to make a fairly nominal provision which can be supplemented as the need arises. Reference was made by Senator Cavanagh also to the Department’s bill for petrol, fuel and lubricating oils. He asked whether the Department would gain the benefit of the petrol subsidy for country areas. The Department will pay less this year for that proportion of its liquid fuel supplies which is purchased in country areas. But the major proportion of its supplies is purchased at the seaboard. Therefore, the subsidy will provide very little offset to the Department’s requirement to purchase increased supplies to support its expanding activities.
In referring to the salary schedule which supports the Department’s estimates, Senator Cavanagh pointed out that the Department has provided for four directors at its head office this year, that being an increase of two on last year’s number. The increase in the number of head office directors results merely from a reorganisation of the head office staff structure and the refitting of two positions as director. The honorable senator referred to the reduction in the provision for officers on the unattached list. This figure varies from year to year as officers are transferred to or from this list, and there is no real significance in the variation. Similarly, the increase of about £500 in the provision for miscellaneous allowances is merely a reflection of the growth in the staff of the Department. Again, a slight increase is recorded in higher duties allowances. This provision is made to cover periods when officers temporarily occupy the positions of more highly paid officers during absences on recreation leave, sick leave, overseas duty and so on. The increased provision for officers on loan from other departments is more significant, it results from the seconding to my Department of an additional medical officer from the Department of Health for employment in the Aviation Medicine Branch of the Department.
To complete my answers to Senator Cavanagh’s questions, I inform him that there was no increase in air freight rates in the period from 1957 to 1965, when the rate was increased only very recently by 6 per cent. The honorable senator infers that passengers may have been subsidising consignors of air freight because passenger fares have been subject to more frequent increases. I should point out that the two markets - that is, the passenger and freight markets - are entirely separate. Whilst the passenger market is, to a very great extent, one that has been created by the air transport medium, air freight is subject to strenuous competition from surface transport operators. It would be foolish in the extreme if the airlines were to price themselves out of the freight market and to operate their aircraft with empty freight holds. The airlines have been able to economise in the carriage of freight, and the increased freight carrying capacity of the larger aircraft that have been progressively employed has been a major factor in this.
Senator Benn raised a few points. He referred to trading activity at the Brisbane airport. There six business leases have been issued for enterprises to be conducted under the terms of the Airports (Business Concessions) Act. Two are for combined food and liquor services, one for a service station, one for a car rental business, one for a barber shop and one for the use of advertising space. The Department’s usual practice before issuing an authority is to call tenders and then, of course, to negotiate the most favorable deal for the Commonwealth. The Department has experienced officers to appraise the offers and has no need to call in outside specialist advisers.
Another matter raised by Senator Benn related to parking fines that are collected by the Department. The honorable senator was interested to know how these were imposed. When a parking infringement occurs
In the public parking areas at airports, a parking infringement notice is issued to the offender. In most cases the appropriate penalty is paid, but if it is not paid action is taken through a Magistrates Court to impose the penalty. The Department does not impose on the spot penalties.
Senator Benn sought an assurance that AnsettA.N.A. is able to purchase aircraft fuel on substantially the same terms as does T.A.A. First of all, I should correct him in his belief that T.A.A. is obliged to call tenders for supplies of fuel and other products that it uses. Being a Commission, this organisation is not obliged, as are government departments, to call tenders publicly but has the same freedom in this respect as a private company. Many senators will know that about 12 months ago the major airline operators were able to negotiate a reduction in the price of their fuel supplies. First Qantas Empire Airways Ltd., then T.A.A. and then Ansett-A.N.A. were able to obtain substantially similar terms for the purchase of their fuel. I can assure the honorable senator that Ansett-A.N.A. obtains its fuel on terms as favorable as those that are available to T.A.A.
– I wish to refer to Division No. 140, Civil Aviation Facilities, under which provision is made for the maintenance and operation of aerodromes. I refer more specifically, as honorable senators may well imagine, to the airport at Adelaide. I plead wilh the Minister to make representations to the Government for early and quite substantial improvement of the terminal building arrangement and other facilities at the Adelaide airport. I have been reading the report of the Department of Civil Aviation for last year, but I have not been able to find any reference to the Adelaide airport. I hope that in the year ahead the Minister will be able to assure honorable senators, particularly those from South Australia, that plans are in hand for the development of this airport. I am grateful for the fact that a slight increase is to be made in this year’s appropriation. But I should be very grateful if the Minister were to state in due course that provision had been made for improvement of the terminal facilities at Adelaide. The Minister will recall that I directed a question to him some weeks ago and told him it was my understanding that the building which is now used as a terminal building at the Adelaide airport was originally constructed as a temporary structure. Provision was made adjacent to it - I think in a south westerly direction - for a permanent building of a suitable nature that would cater for all the needs of the airport.
From time to time in the debates in this chamber, we hear of the needs of certain other major airports in Australia. We acknowledge the need for their development and their importance because of their international connections. But I point out that the Adelaide airport is centrally placed in relation to Australian traffic particularly with Perth, Adelaide and Sydney to say nothing of its connections with Alice Springs and Darwin on the main northern route. Again, this does not take into account intrastate connections in South Australia, lt necessarily follows that in any continental airlines exercise at some point of the day every day schedules cause aircraft to converge on Adelaide at the one time. Honorable senators and many hundreds of people outside know of the confusion that exists at the present terminal building when this occurs. It has been explained from time to time that airline schedules must be so arranged to connect with other airlines and that aircraft must arrive pretty much at the same time. Allowing for that, I plead with the Minister to make an early announcement that there will be some improvement in the airline terminal facilities at Adelaide airport either by the construction of a new building, which I understand was in the original design, or by additions to the present building.
In a reply to me previously and in replies to other senators, the Minister said an internal departmental inquiry was proceeding and at that time he was not able to give us any further information. AH of us realise that a matter of this kind cannot be easily and quickly resolved. Interdepartmental inquiries take time and many factors must be considered. Problems of running an airline and the problems of an airport which is halfway across the continent cannot be quickly resolved either but I feel strongly that the time has come for the Government to make an announcement on improvement of the facilities at Adelaide. I also hope that the Government will be able to provide facilities which will enable passengers to transfer easily from one airline to another and to do so conveniently under one roof or at least in the one area. I and other honorable senators from South Australia would welcome such an announcement.
– When the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) referred to the increase in air passenger fares his voice did not carry very well. I thought he said there had been one increase since 1957.
– I referred specifically to freight increases. I said there had been one increase in freight since 1957.
– I was going to remind the Minister again that there have been quite a number of increases in passenger fares. In December 1957 there was an increase of 5 per cent. In October 1959 first class fares were increased by 3 per cent, and tourist class fares by 10 per cent. In May 1960 first class fares were increased by 7i per cent, and tourist class fares by 10 per cent. In December 1961 all fares were increased by 10 per cent. In April 1964 all fares were increased by 6 per cent. Now we have another 6 per cent, increase.
– Passenger air fares are subsidising freight.
– I think the Government is rather concerned about passenger fares because possibly a person who has a case now before the Privy Council might have a better case if the airlines put up the fares. At least his case will be better in the eyes of most people.
The Minister was only too eager to point out what he considered a mistake in the figures I quoted regarding revenue and expenditure of Trans-Australia Airlines for the past year. I ask the Minister to give us again the estimate by T.A.A. of its airline costs for the current year so far as they can be judged now. I remind the Minister that he told the Senate previously the increase in costs would be roughly £800,000. That figure is rather mystifying because it seems that costs always rise by £800,000 when the fares go up. If I am correct, the Minister now believes that the additional costs of T.A.A. will be about £1,400,000. There is a vast difference between the two figures. When he was answering a question, the Minister gave the figure of £800,000 but when there was an argument in this chamber about it he put the figure up another £600,000.
I turn now to another matter. The airline industry has been rather interesting for some years because of the number of handouts that have been given to one of the two major airlines by this Government. I am amazed - and so also are many people outside - at some mysterious hold that Mr. R. M. Ansett has over this administration. How long is it since T.A.A. requested permission to purchase a fourth Boeing 727 and also three Douglas DC9B aircraft? Reference was made to this by the Chairman of the Australian National Airlines Commission, Sir Giles Chippindall, in the annual report of the Commission and was published in the Press several days ago. That is one specific question I have asked. No doubt the Minister is aware of the reference to this matter by Mr. Justice Spicer when it was considered by the rationalisation committee.
In two instances, the Director-General of Civil Aviation took away from T.A.A. or, on the other hand, gave to AnsettA.N.A. certain routes. Ansett-A.N.A. shared routes with T.A.A. It had not done so before. I understand that, at one stage, both airline companies had similar franchises on the routes into Canberra. But Ansett-A.N.A. gave some of these services away. The rationalisation scheme came into operation again. It is true, as the Minister for Civil Aviation will say, that this action is provided for in the Act. It is true also that T.A.A. did not appeal against the decision. I regret that very much. According to Sir Giles Chippindall, this has caused T.A.A. grave concern because of the amount of business that it has lost. For a number of years I have appealed to successive Ministers for Civil Aviation and told them that if they wanted to follow this two airline policy - and I see a lot of virtue in itboth airlines should be treated fairly. But take the case of the airline in South Australia which operates on the route between Adelaide and Woomera. It has 95 per cent, of the business on that route on which, no doubt, large sums of Commonwealth money are spent.
Of course, this Government wants lo protect its friend - Ansett-A.N.A. It is no good saying that Ansett-A.N.A. is not the Government’s friend. We have to think only of the amount of money that was spent during the last election campaign by Mr. Ansett - lie had a perfect right as a citizen to do so - in a huge advertising campaign in support of the return of this Government. One wonders why T.A.A. cannot get into a share of the service between Adelaide and Woomera. As I say, 90 per cent, to 95 per cent, of the business on that route - it is mainly Commonwealth business - goes to one airline. The ex-Premier of South Australia, Sir Thomas Playford, at one time appealed to the then Minister for Civil Aviation asking that T.A.A. have rights to operate on internal routes within the State. I know it will be said that some of these services are subsidised. It would surprise me if the Adelaide to Woomera service is. I am amazed at this situation. It is no good trying to fool ourselves in this matter, because we cannot fool the people. The people believe - and I say this with all kindness - that Ansett has some mysterious hold-
– Do not be silly.
– Let the honorable senator listen to this: Every time there is any opportunity whatsoever to advance the interests of the private airline against the airline that is owned by this nation, that opportunity is taken and the advantage is given to Ansett-A.N.A. As I have said, I see some virtue in the two airline system. All I have ever wanted to see - I am speaking purely for myself - is the two airlines placed on an even footing so that they are able to compete with each other fairly. I believe that, if this was done, the Australian people would receive better services. One can trace the development of the rationalisation policy over the years. In years gone by, newspapers were provided in the aircraft of the two airlines. Ansett-A.N.A. cut out those newspapers. Rationalisation came in and newspapers were not provided by T.A.A. either. We were told that it was better for the health of each passenger that he should be given a sweet before takeoff. Ansett cut out that practice. Again rationalisation came into the picture and T.A.A. cut out that service too.
– The honorable senator knows that is not true.
– It is true.
– Sweets were no longer provided because the aircrafts were pressurised.
– The practice is followed in pressurised aircraft in other parts of the world. I had experience of it last year.
– Qantas does it.
– Yes. Honorable senators on this side of the Committee are saying to the Government: “ Do not always hinder your own organisation. Give it a fair go.” We are asking for no more than that.
– Is not T.A.A. getting a fair go?
– It is not now.
– It did not make a profit under the honorable senator’s Government.
– That is childish talk. That is just what I would expect from the honorable senator. One would not expect an airline to pay or make a profit the first year it started operations. It has to grow. T.A.A. has grown. It is a good airline. I am not saying anything detrimental to its competitor. But what I cannot understand and what the people outside cannot understand is why-
– What people is the honorable senator talking about?
– I am speaking of the ordinary man in the street.
– It is all right for the honorable senator to say that. Ask anybody at all about this. It is a byword outside this Parliament.
– Ask the Deputy Leader of the Country Party in New South Wales.
– Here is what Sir Giles Chippindall says-
– He is “ everybody “?
– I am not saying he is. The honorable senator does not want me to stand up here and name person after person?
– The honorable senator means the travelling public.
– Yes. I am pleased to have the interjection from my colleague who said: “Ask the Deputy Leader of the Country Party in New South Wales “, and also the interjection from Senator Gair. Now, this is what Sir Giles Chippindall says -
– He would not be human if he did not.
– If the honorable senator does not want to hear this from me, somebody else will say it. The only thing is that I will take a little bit longer. In his report, Sir Giles Chippindall said -
Because of the extensive network of noncompetitive groups not open to T.A.A., its competitor now carries almost 20% more traffic. It is significant that of the first 72 airports in the Commonwealth (excluding Papua and New Guinea) in order of airline passengers handled - as shown in the Department of Civil Aviation’s statistics for the year ended 31st December, 1964 - T.A.A. operates into only 27.
It is true that T.A.A. has made profits since the Government came into office -
Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– Let me refer first to what Senator Kennelly had to say and then later I shall deal with Division No. 140. Obviously I would be lacking in my duty if I did not support Senator Kennelly’s remarks. He mentioned a fact which is well known in the Australian community - that the Government is assisting Ansett-A.N.A. No-one can deny that. Some honorable senators opposite may have read the item by columnist Jim Macdougall in his column “ Town Talk “ which appeared in the Sydney “ Daily Mirror “ recently. It is in these terms-
A pert little girl we met on Saturday night turned out to be an air hostess. And in fairness we won’t mention her name. “ T.A.A.?” we asked. “ No “, she said, “ I fly with the opposition- the GOVERNMENT airline!”
Everyone on this side of the chamber knows that the Government is assisting private enterprise. I doubt very much whether any honorable senator on the Government side really believes the contrary to be the case. Does anyone opposite believe that the Government is giving a fair go to TransAustralia Airlines?
– Of course we are.
– The honorable senator says that in this place because he is speaking politically, but he knows full well that the Government is wedded to the idea of limiting all Socialist enterprise. The Government’s own airline which is paying handsome dividends and doing a perfectly good job is being restricted. Honorable senators opposite know that what we say is true. The Government is limiting the activities of T.A.A. so that it can give every possible assistance to Ansett-A.N.A.
– Ansett-A.N.A. gets the duck and T.A.A. gets the crow.
– That is right. Ansett operates not only in the field of aviation but also in the tourist trade. Here we have the national airline, which is received so favorably everywhere, whose record is famous and whose prestige is very high, being frustrated. The chairman of the Australian National Airlines Commission, Sir Giles Chippindall, is a man of courage. He has come out in opposition to the Minister and has pointed out these anomalies on several occasions.
Everyone knows what the Government is doing. It is a matter of public record. The Government’s so-called rationalisation policy is embarrassing the national airline. There is supposed to be competition but one can see that there is not. Let us consider the flight schedules as they apply to Adelaide, particularly, and to Canberra. Senator Davidson and other honorable senators on the Government side have joined with me in complaining about the congestion at Adelaide airport. I have raised the need to stagger the services to and from Adelaide. Why can we not have staggered services? I will tell the Senate why. We cannot have staggered services because the Government is assisting and even subsidising a private airline and it does not want to depart from the simple system of having Ansett-A.N.A. and T.A.A. flying almost on the same schedules. This is nonsense. The Australian travelling public should not be treated in this way. We have two airlines operating in Australia, one of which is owned by the Government. It has been established and operated with funds supplied by the Australian people and we should not have to put up with unsatisfactory schedules.
We have asked repeatedly in this Senate for improved facilities at the various airports, including Adelaide. We know that one solution to the problem in South Australia, and particularly in Adelaide, is to alter the schedules to ensure that the two airlines provide a proper service for the travelling public. At present, if you want to travel between Adelaide and Melbourne you cannot choose between flights leaving at 7, 8, 9, 10 or 11 o’clock. You have to travel when the two airlines are operating. This is because of the so-called rationalisation policy and because the services between State capitals are connected. The public has to pay for this uneconomical scheduling simply because the Government believes that it must keep Ansett-A.N.A. in the field and that it must give Ansett-A.N.A. a boost when it seems to be unable to cope with the competition of T.A.A., the national airline.
– Does the honorable senator want us to get rid of T.A.A.? Does he want only one airline in Australia?
– No, I do not. The Minister influences the policy of his Department and deals with representations that are made by Ansett-A.N.A. He should be conscious that his first duty is to protect the national airline, the Government enterprise.
– It is not our airline.
– Yes it is. It is the
Commonwealth’s airline. It was established by the Commonwealth with the taxpayers’ money. That is the Minister’s first obligation. If we were involved in a war the Government would be the first to call upon Qantas and T.A.A. to assist our defence forces. Instead of trying to meet the requirements of the people, the Government is concerned about keeping the flight schedules of T.A.A. and Ansett-A.N.A. together.
– The honorable senator is talking complete baloney.
– It is not baloney. The Minister could alter the present arrangements.
– The airlines draw up their own schedules. They are not told what to do.
– The point is that the Government is responsible for the rationalisation policy and it influences the airlines. For the Minister to suggest that it does not is complete nonsense. Adelaide airport is congested. When aircraft come into or are about to leave Adelaide you cannot get a cup of coffee, you cannot buy even a newspaper, you cannot park your car in the area and you cannot even get near the traffic counter because there are too many people around.
– How does the honorable senator manage to get to Canberra?
– The same congestion is in evidence at Canberra. The Government should tell the airlines to provide a proper service for the travelling public. Instead of T.A.A. and Ansett-A.N.A. giving the people the service that they should have, what do we find? Ansett-A.N.A. and T.A.A. planes leave Adelaide for Melbourne within five minutes of each other at about 7 o’clock in the morning. If you want to leave Adelaide between that time and 11 o’clock you cannot. You must leave at about 11.10 a.m., when Ansett-A.N.A. and T.A.A. planes leave within minutes of each other. If you want to travel between that time and 5 p.m. you cannot, because T.A.A. and Ansett-A.N.A. planes leave Adelaide at 5.40 p.m. and 5.45 p.m. respectively. Similar schedules apply to the service to Sydney. These schedules are uneconomical and the Government’s rationalisation policy should be changed. The Government could save the people of Australia a good deal of money if it told the airlines to change their flight schedules.
It is no use the Minister saying that the Government does not advise the airlines. No-one can tell me that the Minister does not pass the word to the Department of Civil Aviation and that the Department, when required, does not consult with AnsettA.N.A. The Government should tell the airlines that the Australian people are entitled to a better air service than they are getting now. The people should not be told that the schedules have to run together because the two airlines must have a fair share of the traffic. We should be able to have two airlines operating in real competition, providing better schedules and improved facilities for the travelling public. We could have this if the Government got away from its hidebound rationalisation policy.
Senator Kennelly obviously was right in what he said. Everyone knows that this Government is assisting the private airline to such an extent that the stage will be reached when it becomes too strong for the Government to control. We have reached the stage already when T.A.A. cannot really operate in competition with Ansett-A.N.A. because within the States the private airline has access to the transport and accommodation fields. TransAustralia Airlines cannot develop in those fields, lt is time that the Senate took action to remedy the position which exists, particularly at Adelaide.
– The debate so far has adequately covered the increased air fares, the benefits which have been given to AnsettA.N.A. at the expense of Trans- Australia Airlines, and the Minister’s disgraceful attitude towards the whole question. I want to deal with Division No. 135 - Administrative - and refer to the schedule on page 149 relating to salaries and allowances. I wish to raise the matter of the serious shortage of experienced airline pilots in Australia. I know that Australia has the greatest air safety record in the world and, like every honorable senator, I am anxious that it should remain so. On behalf of a number of very interested parties, I raised the matter approximately five weeks ago in the form of a question to the Minister. I asked -
In view of the serious shortage of experienced pilots which has developed in Australia, I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation whether the Federal Government will sponsor a training scheme to ensure that a sufficient number of highly trained pilots is available for the needs of commercial aviation, and also as a contribution to Australia’s defence. Will the Minister consider the appointment of a committee to inquire into, and make recommendations on, the recruitment and selection of professional pilots for civil aviation and the facilities and standards of training?
The Minister went into some detail, but amongst other things he said -
I think that at the present time the airlines are successfully overcoming the shortage which has developed since 1961 because of the increase in air traffic in Australia. However, I have not looked at the matter lately, and I shall examine the situation to ascertain the present position.
Some weeks later I heard about a statement that had been made in, I thought at first, a broadcast, but after making further inquiries I found that it had been made through television station Channel 7 in Sydney. It led me to believe that the Minister must have realised the importance of this matter. So I again raised the question with the Minister. He gave me a further reply and said, in effect, that he was looking at the matter and that he hoped in the very near future to make a statement on it.
Until quite recently the airlines recruited their flight crews almost entirely from the Services, or, alternatively, they skimmed off the best of the younger flight instructors from the aero clubs and flying schools. The output from both these sources, however, is now irregular and insufficient. An airline pilot training scheme, evolved in 1959 by the Department of Civil Aviation and the Royal Federation of Aero Clubs, collapsed after two years because of lack of firm support and financial assistance from the airlines. Each trainee paid between £2,000 and £2,500 for his training. The Royal Australian Air Force pilots who were trained during the war years and immediate prewar years and who now form the bulk of the airlines’ senior flying staff, will, in five to ten years time, be reaching the retiring age.
To provide staff for its future jet operations, Qantas Empire Airways Ltd. has already had to go overseas to recruit many suitably trained young pilots. If the current rate of recruitment of flight crews from outside Australia continues, there is a danger of Qantas losing much of its character as a national airline. The present method of recruitment and the present system of training future airline pilots and flight instructors is not the answer to the problem. I believe the solution lies in the establishment of a civil air academy, such as the National College of Air Training, which is sponsored by the British Government. A similar college in Australia could be useful for Colombo Plan purposes. It would provide a central flying school for civil flight instructors undertaking refresher flying training, and it also would provide a suitable venue for annual symposiums at which problems concerned with flying training could be discussed with interested parties, such as officers of the Department of Civil Aviation and representatives of the Australian Federation of Air Pilots.
To say that facilities are available in Australia for the training of pilots is just not correct. It is useless for the Minister continually to make that statement. The people in authority and the representatives of the major airlines are concerned about the situation. I have it on the best authority that greater facilities must be provided to bridge the gap which is appearing between the number of pilots who are being trained and the number of pilots who are being sought by the airlines. The Hamilton inquiry has been mentioned. It was undertaken in the United Kingdom in 1 962 for the purpose of considering problems in the training of airline pilots. It received submissions from the various airline operators, the airline pilots and the airline navigators. All of these people came forward and made submissions on this vital matter. It certainly brought great benefit to the airline industry of the United Kingdom.
I know that the Government makes money available to the aero clubs, which is very commendable. It provides the necessary impetus to get young people to join these clubs. But this training is almost worthless because of the advanced flying knowledge that is required by airline pilots today. I again ask the Minister to consider this important question of the serious shortage of airline pilots in Australia at the present time. If he looks at what is happening with Qantas, which is supplying instructors to train lads whom it recruits from various sources, he will see the serious situation that is developing. Qantas is recruiting pilots from other countries. They are here for a short while. The airline spends thousands of pounds in training these pilots and then they are lost to an overseas airline which pays much higher wages than are paid by Australian airlines today.
In 1950, a lad who had been trained by an aero club and who got into a DC3 aircraft confidently expected easy flying. But today with all weather landings, high performance planes and turbo jets, that training belongs to the horse and buggy days. I suggest in all sincerity that the Minister should look at this matter in the interests of Australia, in the interests of the various organisations which are concerned about the matter, and in the interests of every honorable senator and every Australian who is concerned with his own safety. We must recognise that we have a magnificent air safety record which must be sustained. The only way in which we can do this is to secure able and efficient men. That could be accomplished by the establishment in
Australia of an organisation such as that which I have suggested to the Minister on many occasions.
– I would like to answer a few of the queries which have been raised by honorable senators. Senator Davidson and Senator Bishop referred to the need for an enlarged terminal building at the Adelaide airport. There is no question that there is an urgent need for increased facilities at the Adelaide airport. I have stated this many times. An increase in the size of the terminal building at the airport is one of the items that is contained in the five year plan of the Department of Civil Aviation. The item is not included in this year’s estimates. However, it is one of the matters which is being considered by the interdepartmental committee which has been set up to recommend to the Government the priorities of the various projects that are envisaged at the present time. Until I receive the report from that committee, I am not able to give any further information.
Senator Kennelly referred to the increase in air fares. He mentioned the statement which was made by Sir Giles Chippindall, who is Chairman of the Australian National Airlines Commision. The honorable senator mentioned the figure of £800,000. That referred to the increased costs in wages and materials incurred by the two airlines.
– The Minister said that £800,000-
– I listened to the honorable senator with interest and I want him to listen to me. The only figure published at that stage was £800,000. That was given as the increased costs incurred by Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett-A.N.A. as regards wages and materials. At that time no assessment had been made of the effects of the increase in fuel tax or the increases in air navigation charges, depreciation of aircraft and depreciation of Commonwealth owned buildings at airports. In Sir Giles Chippindall^ own words, now that an assessment has been made, it shows that the increase in costs this year will be about £1,200,000, and to cover this the airlines needed a 6 per cent, increase in air fares and freight charges. That was granted, because of the increased costs I have mentioned. Honorable senators have been quoting from Sir Giles Chippindall’s statement. I refer them to the third paragraph of his statement, where he warns that the pressure of rising costs prevented the profit level from increasing with the record volume of business. Here we have T.A.A., which has been a most profitable, well run and efficient airline since this Government came into power, stopped the rot and put it on its feet-
– That is not true. The Minister is trying to make political capital out of this. I thought he was a responsible Minister.
– Order! Senator Cant must not continue to interject.
– Honorable senators opposite do not like the truth. It touches them a bit.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN.Order! I want to make it quite clear that when questions are put to a Minister and answers are expected, he must be heard in silence when he gives the answers.
– Does any honorable senator opposite deny that in the years when Labour was in office T.A.A. ran up the greatest losses that that airline has ever made, and that ever since this Government has been in office the airline has expanded and made profits? Is any honorable senator opposite prepared to deny that? Of course not.
– You know that is not a good statement of the facts.
– It is true. Honorable senators opposite cannot deny it. They seem to be getting a littly touchy about the truth.
– You are being completely dishonest.
Order! No senator may reflect on the character of another senator by saying that he is completely dishonest. I ask you to withdraw that remark, Senator Sandford.
– I will withdraw it, but I still think it.
Order! I want the remark withdrawn unreservedly, with no qualifications.
– I said that I withdrew it.
Was it withdrawn without qualification?
– I was speaking of the magnificent record of T.A.A., profitwise since this Government came into office and turned it into a mighty good and efficient airline.
– In what year was T.A.A. established?
– It was established in 1946 or 1947. I do not want to dwell on this matter; I have just mentioned it in passing. I know that honorable senators opposite did not enjoy it very much. Sir Giles Chippindall warns of the pressure of rising costs on the profit level. This year T.A.A. turned over a record sum of £25 million. Expenses rose by £4 million, and after paying a 71 per cent, dividend, amounting to £562,500, the airline was left with only the small profit of £704,526. Trans-Australia Airlines has done well. It has made a profit and paid a dividend. It is run as an efficient business concern. If honorable senators opposite really believed in having a good and efficient airline, they would be proud of the fact that the Government has one in T.A.A. It was a Liberal Government which made it efficient.
Senator Fitzgerald referred to aviation training. I agree with him that this is most important, because there is an ever growing demand for more trained pilots, navigators and technicians. Qantas Empire Airways Ltd. has increased its training school and has purchased a training simulator which cost over £780,000. The total cost was nearly £1 million by the time it was erected. The Commonwealth has increased its flying scholarship fund by 33i per cent, this year, from £50,000 to £75,000. Trans-Australia Airlines has also purchased a Boeing simulator for the 727 aircraft, which I understand can be converted for the training of pilots for the next type of aircraft that the airline will be purchasing. The airlines are aware that the Commonwealth Government is playing its part, and we believe that the position is well in hand. If it is not in hand after one year, we will look at the position again, because, as Senator Fitzgerald said, this is a most important phase of the aviation industry.
I am sorry to say, that I have now to answer a bit of propaganda. I must answer it in the only way left open to me, having regard to the way in which the matter was put by Senator Kennelly and Senator Bishop. I want to talk about the two competitive airlines and the routes which they cover. Of the total operations of T.A.A. and Ansett Transport Industries Ltd., 80 per cent, are on competitive routes, and it is only on these routes that rationalisation applies. For the year ended 30th June 1965 T.A.A. had 91,071 million short ton miles, or 50.4 per cent, of the total competitive traffic, freight and mail. The airline had 50.4 per cent, of the total traffic on competitive routes, to which rationalisation applies, but honorable senators opposite say it is not getting a fair deal. It is getting a majority of the traffic, yet honorable senators opposite say it is not getting a fair deal.
– That is on the competitive routes.
– Of course.
– Trans-Australia Airlines is saying that the non-competitive routes should be competitive.
– I will give some figures in this regard, and then the honorable senator can get up and have a go on this question. I would like to reply to him on it. Dealing with passengers, freight and mail, Ansett Transport Industries Ltd., on competitive routes, had 89,655 million short ton miles, or 49.6 per cent, of the total traffic. If all cargo operations are excluded, T.A.A.’s percentage of the traffic is 51.52 per cent., compared with 48.48 per cent, for Ansett Transport Industries. On the competitive routes, each of the operators is required to provide half the capacity. Everybody knows that the aircraft are not fully loaded all the time. Therefore half the capacity of both airlines is over-capacity, and this is where the competition comes in. This enables T.A.A. to get 51.52 per cent, of the passenger traffic. It has the capacity to do this on the competitive routes, and that is a good thing. The Government believes in two airlines.
– Then why not let them compete on all routes?
– I know that honorable senators opposite want a Government monopoly in this field. If we had that situa tion and wanted to travel on a Tuesday, we would be told we could not do; and if the airline wanted us to travel on a Wednesday, it would tell us to do so. But we will not have that.
I want to reply to the point that was made about schedules. A lot has been said on this subject, but the two airlines themselves meet and decide upon the schedules. All that they do after deciding on the schedules is obtain the approval of the Department of Civil Aviation on the basis that the schedules are safe and efficient. People talk about aircraft from the two airlines leaving at the one time. What about the trams in our cities? Surely nobody will tell me that he wants 10 trams between 7 o’clock and 8 o’clock, 10 trams between 8 o’clock and 9 o’clock and 10 trams between 10 o’clock and 11 o’clock. Passengers do not want to travel at those times. So we have 30 trams early in the morning to take people to work when they want to go to work, and we do not have many trams later in the morning.
– We have no trams at all in Sydney.
– No, because there was a monopoly. That is the point. Had there been a bit of competition, things would have been all right. This Government believes in a bit of competition, lt is good for the soul.
The airline schedules are based on the utilisation of aircraft. Australia has the highest record of utilisation of aircraft of any country.
– And the highest fares.
– We have not the highest fares. What nonsense the honorable senator talks. Some of the biggest birdbrain things that I have heard have come from him. Our fares will compare with those of any other country. I am putting it to honorable senators that aircraft leave at certain times because they are the times when the majority of passengers want to travel. The airlines do not want to have their aircraft at a particular place when people do not want to travel from that place.
– There are many other times when people want to travel.
– How many? We have tried this out.
-I am very glad that Senator Cavanagh is making these interjections. Two aircraft - one from each airline - used to leave one very important airport at half past seven in the morning. TransAustralia Airlines said: “We will see whether we can get afew more passengers by leaving a little later.” It had received one or two complaints from people who did not want to get up early enough to catch an aircraft at half past seven in the morning. It moved its departure time back to eight o’clock and then saw the aircraft of the opposition airline go out at half past seven carrying a few passengers who usually travelled on its aircraft. Those people did not like leaving at eight o’clock; they wanted to leave at half past seven.
– The Minister should substantiate his statements. Where did this happen?
– Let me finish–
Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
– I wish to direct my remarks to Division No. 135. But before I do that, I wish to make an observation about the conduct of the Minister in dealing with the estimates for his Department here this evening. Although he may enliven the debate a little, he adds very little to the dignity of this chamber.
– It is not too bad.
– I do not think it is very good at all. I want to reply to the quite erroneous statement that the Minister made, namely that under a Labour government Trans-Australia Airlines made no progress. This is just the sort of smart sophistry that will not convince anybody. I make this point quite validly: If the Liberal PartyCountry Party Government today had to commence the operation of an entirely new government airline, it would be many years before it would be able to make that airline pay. I do not think any honorable senator on the Government side of the chamber would be bold enough to try to contradict that statement. It is quite conceivable that before the airline started to pay under the jurisdiction of this Government another government could come into office just at the time when the airline was beginning to pay its way and calmly take the credit, saying: “ Look what we have done. We have made the airline pay.”
I remember quite vividly various election campaigns which were held in South Australia during the time when the Australian Labour Party was in government in the Federal sphere and in which members of the present Government parties were running around the State claiming that T.A.A. was a Socialist undertaking; that it was doomed to failure; and that no government undertaking could pay. Members of the Government parties know that that is what they said. Yet today they are basking in the success of this airline simply because this government undertaking has proved that it can pay - and pay very handsomely indeed.
I have no objection whatever to the Minister making political points in his replies. But I believe that, in making political points, he should do something better than tell members of the Opposition that only under a Liberal Party-Country Party Government has T.A.A. paid its way. That is sheer sophistry. It was only a question of timing. Trans-Australia Airlines was handed on to this Government by the Labour Government at a time when it just had to pay in any event. It had gone through its birth pains under the Labour Government. I suggest to the Minister that in future he should not talk nonsense of this character in this chamber. Let us get on with the job of discussing the estimates of the Department of Civil Aviation.
– I want to talk to the Minister about birdbrains. I think bird-brains are better than no brains.
– I have been in this chamber for six years and the Minister has clowned his way through all of that time.
Order! The Committee is discussing the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation-
– The Minister says–
Order! I point out to honorable senators on both sides of the chamber that when the Chair says “ Order “ the speaker must resume his seat. I ask honorable senators to remember that. I also want to make it quite clear that the primary purpose of this debate is to discuss the estimates for this Department. If honorable senators continue to talk about one point and the debate becomes just an argument, we will reach the stage where they will not have the opportunity to discuss the estimates for this Department and then we will hear a lot of protests about not having sufficient time. This is a very important factor in this debate. I direct the attention of honorable senators to the fact that we are discussing the estimates for this year.
– I want to talk about timetables. The Minister talks about the aircraft of the two airlines leaving at the one time. I direct his attention to the fact that within the last fortnight or three weeks both airlines have announced that they will run Boeing 727’s out of Perth at approximately midnight. These aircraft will be scheduled to arrive in Melbourne at 5.15 a.m. It is a direct flight to Melbourne. There is no aircraft out of that airport until eight o’clock. So, if passengers want to go on from there, they will have to sit around the airport for three hours. If that is an improvement in airline services as a result of the introduction of jet aircraft, I think the Minister should have another look at the matter of rationalisation and see whether the distant States can be given a bit of service.
I also refer to feeder services. Some time ago Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. bought up 75 per cent, of the shares in MacRobertson Miller Airlines Ltd. At that time there was a great shout that services, particularly cargo services, would be improved. But the airline is unable to provide the transport service for cargo that is required at the present time, and the people just cannot get their freight through. In addition, when Ansett took over he said that he would put on more modern aircraft than the DC3. In fact, he talked about putting Viscounts- on the Darwin-Perth run, serving intermediate centres. There are 94 landing strips in Western Australia, only seven of which will take Viscount aircraft, and there is no Viscount aircraft there as yet. I think that the Minister should do a trip up that coast in a Friendship. He would then learn just what sort of service it is.
I want to refer also to the Civil Works Programme items which come under the control of the Minister. In this document the first of the four columns shows the amount authorised for expenditure, and the fourth column shows the balance that remained unexpended at 30th June 1965. I take it that the amount authorised is the amount that the Department proposed to spend in the year 1964-65. We note that the expenditure of £100,000 was authorised for preparatory site works for a new terminal building at Sydney, and that the amount remaining unexpended was £100,000. An expenditure of £132,697 was authorised at Bankstown for development of runways and taxiways to provide for operations by civil aircraft under all-weather conditions, and an amount of £131,787 remained unexpended. An expenditure of £36,300 at Moorabbin, for development of landing area for all-weather operations, including earthworks and drainage, was authorised, but an amount of £35,000 remained unexpended. The expenditure of £27,000 at Brisbane was authorised for the erection of an emergency power house building to serve the airways operation centre and for site preparation, but the amount of £27,000 was still unexpended. An expenditure of £203,225 at Brisbane was authorised for the erection of an airways operations building to house the area approach control and radar bright display, but the whole amount remained unexpended.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, I suggest to Senator Cant, with respect, that these matters are all under the control of the Department of works.
– These matters are all provided for in the Civil Works Programme of the Department of Civil Aviation.
– I suggest that the Department of Works is the operating authority. Once we have asked for the work to be done, the Department of Works carries it out by tender.
– I am allowed to question this. The Department should tell us, if it authorised money to be spent on these things, why the money has not been spent. Every time we talk about what the Department of Civil Aviation is doing all that we get back is a reference to our safety record.
The safety record does not cover everything; there are other things. If the Minister does not want me to cite these items - there is a whole list of them - I shall cite something else to him.
I should like an explanation of other matters, if the Minister is capable of giving one. Provision was made for the erection of four houses at Derby. The expenditure authorised was £32,763, an average of approximately £8,000 a house. This amount would be about right, I suppose, for houses in that area; I know that they cost a bit more further up. Also at Derby, the erection of six houses was authorised, at a cost of £48,325. Again, this works out at approximately £8,000 for the construction of each house. However, we find that five houses are to be erected, as part of new works at Derby, at a cost of £48,000. The price has gone up to £9,600 a house. The document does not explain, but I think that those five houses that are to be erected are part of the six that are provided for later in the document. It appears to me that there has not been such a huge increase in costs as approximately £1,600 a house. I should like the Minister to give me some information on that.
I should like the Minister to explain also why aircraft have to leave Perth at midnight to have passengers from Perth hang around Melbourne airport for three hours. I remind the Minister that in winter time Melbourne airport is not warmed until 7 a.m., and the coffee shop and other facilities are not open until that hour. Yet a flight is scheduled to bring passengers into the airport an hour earlier than the Electra flight used to bring them there. It was bad enough having to wait for two hours. Now we have to wait for three hours.
– First, I desire to raise my voice in protest against the method of conducting this part of the debate on the Estimates. I direct the Committee’s attention to the quite amicable discussion that we had this afternoon on the proposed expenditure for the Department of Shipping and Transport, during which Senator Anderson acted for the Minister in the other place. I give credit to Senator Anderson, who went out of his way at every stage to try to explain the Department’s attitude to the various items of expenditure. Now we are discussing the proposed expenditure of the Department of Civil Aviation and we have a Minister who enjoys indulging in political propaganda.
– Who started it?
– Whoever starts it, the Minister has a responsibility to uphold the dignity of the Committee and try to supply information. It is for the Minister to explain the action of his Department. During an Estimates debate, propaganda may be expected from the Opposition side of the Chamber. Opposition senators are entitled to be critical of departments and to be told why particular expenditure has occurred. For the Minister to try to outdo the Opposition, and not to give an explanation but to indulge in politics to justify some action which is very dubious, is undignified and thwarts the purpose of the debate, which is to provide the explanations of matters that we raise.
Whether or not it is a matter of politics, there is no doubt, as Senator Kennelly said, that there is a general belief that AnsettA.N.A. is given favoured treatment by this Government. It is no reply for the Minister to say that Trans-Australia Airlines never made a profit under Labour but is now making a profit. That is unfair, in view of the date of inauguration of T.A.A. and its development since. The Minister has presented the annual report of T.A.A., which states that this airline is getting only 50.4 per cent, of the competitive Australian air routes. The airline’s complaint, which has yet to be answered, is that it is not getting its fair share of the uncontrolled routes, or the routes that are not competitive. It complains that an unfair advantage on these other routes is given to its competitor. These routes are left out of consideration in an assessment of whether or not there is any truth in the report that has been presented by T.A.A.
The position in South Australia, which has been referred to by Senator Kennelly, is not only that 95 per cent, of the fares from Adelaide to Woomera are paid by the Commonwealth Government but also that most of the flights to Woomera are charter flights which are paid for exclusively by the Commonwealth Government. All the intrastate services of South Australia are controlled by Ansett-A.N.A. at the present time and have been for a number of years. This is the situation, although Sir Thomas Playford, a former Liberal Premier of South Australia, appealed to the Federal Government to permit Trans-Australia Airlines to operate within South Australia in accordance with the Government’s policy of a two airlines operation. The appeal was rejected. When I raised the matter in the Senate it was said that we have to consider the question of subsidised air routes. However, we afterwards found that there were no subsidised air routes in South Australia.
In addition to exclusive intrastate rights to air routes in South Australia, AnsettA.N.A. gains the advantage of through bookings from country centres to capital cities beyond Adelaide. This is preferential treatment. If it is the Government’s policy to extend preferential treatment to one airline, it must at the same time accept condemnation for that policy. At one time only the harping of the Opposition was heard in criticism of the Government’s policy, but now that criticism is becoming universal. It is providing scope for jokes on radio and television programmes in which the Leader of the Government is introduced as Mr. Ansett.
It is time that, through rationalisation of services, some decency was extended to airline operations. I thought that Senator Bishop offered some powerful arguments in putting a case for a change in timetables. I do not believe that he has been properly answered. An excuse has been given that within the next 12 months the extensions to Adelaide airport necessary to cope with increased numbers of air travellers cannot be made. At least departure and arrival times could be staggered without taxing the existing facilities at Adelaide airport until extensions are effected. Today it is simply agonising to go through that airport at certain times.
Following his customary practice, the Minister defended the Government’s attitude and said that it was not possible to stagger departure and arrival times because the airlines wished to operate services at the times when people wish to travel. Tram timetables are not altered on that basis. Extra trams are put into service to carry the peak load when required. That is agreed upon, but airlines do not operate to meet public requirements today. A lot of evidence is available that people do not wish to leave Adelaide at 7 a.m. to travel to Sydney. It may be that an earlier departure time would suit those people who wish to attend conferences in Sydney. The Minister dismissed such suggestions by saying that a scheme was tried at an airport which he would not name. He said that T.A.A. decided to operate a service leaving an airport at 8.30. Nobody believes such examples unless they are supported by proof.
– Did not the Minister say that the two airlines, after consultation with each other, arrived at the present departure times?
– Irrespective of whether that is so, the Minister is seeking to develop an argument to show that the trial was a failure. He is now challenged to prove the truth of the basis of his argument. It is not sufficient for him simply to make a statement that it happened at an unnamed airport and thus prevent the facts being checked through the company concerned. If the Minister has a good argument, let him put the facts on the table so that they may be checked. We have passed the stage where we have to accept such unsupported statements from Ministers. It is not enough for the Minister to say that an honorable senator is wrong because something happened, without offering any supporting evidence which may be checked.
During the debate on the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation which was adjourned on Tuesday last, I raised several points. As I was unaware that that debate was to be resumed at 8 o’clock tonight, I was not in the chamber when the Minister replied. I can take those points no further, because I did not hear the Minister’s reply. From subsequent discussions I have gathered that freight rates have been increased once since 1957 while in the same period passenger air fares have been increased six or seven times. That is my present understanding. We are told that increases in passenger air fares are justified because of the increased costs that will be incurred in the coming year. It is my contention that, to protect the airlines against possible competitors, passenger air fares are being used to subsidise the air carriage of goods for commercial interests. If the costs in the coming year justify an increase in passenger air fares, a similar increase in air freight rates must also be justified.
I do not know what power the Department of Civil Aviation has to examine the conditions of employment of employees of airline companies, but I believe that an investigation is badly needed into the conditions of air hostesses working on the Ansett-A.N.A. afternoon jet service from Adelaide to Sydney. To my regret, I was forced to travel on the less reliable airline from Adelaide to Sydney during the last sessional period.
– What does the honorable senator mean by “ less reliable “?
– I have more confidence in T.A.A. and I think the records would show that T.A.A. has a better safety record than Ansett-A.N.A.
– That is not so. The honorable senator should be fair.
– Why do not honorable senators opposite give Senator Cavanagh a fair go?
– 1 do not mind if the consciences of honorable senators opposite prompt them to interject. The jet aircraft on which I travelled was hardly off the ground at Adelaide before the girls unstrapped themselves and went to work. They did not stop running until the aircraft landed at Sydney. Trans-Australia Airlines employs five girls on its service, while Ansett-A.N.A. employs four girls. On the Ansett-A.N.A. aircraft the hostesses work hurriedly in a confined space in conditions almost amounting to slavery. If the Department has any control over such matters, it should examine the conditions under which the hostesses work. After serving drinks, supplying meals to passengers, and clearing away the glasses and crockery, there was no time to spare. It was more than a matter of continuous work. On the flight from Adelaide to Sydney the girls ran to get through their duties while the plane was in the air.
– That is a long run.
– It is all very well for those to interject who lack human decency and have no consideration for the working conditions of others. I submit that this is a legitimate complaint and that it should be investigated. The fact that employees simply have to run in order to achieve the target that is set is of concern to anybody who is interested in working conditions. This state of affairs not only is bad for the girls concerned but also it deprives the travelling public of the normal service that they receive from air hostesses. On the occasion in question there was no time for the politeness and consideration that one is shown on longer flights. One simply had to rush through his meal so that the girl could take the tray away. I do not accuse the girls of any discourtesy; I thought they did a wonderful job. But these are conditions in which girls should not be required to work. I do not want to take the matter any further. I do not want it to become a political issue.
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I should now like to finish the statement that I was making when my time expired earlier. I was referring to the competitive routes that were flown by the two major operators. I now want to refer to the non-competitive routes, which generate 20 per cent, of the total amount of traffic. On these routes Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. benefits from its ownership of such subsidiaries as MacRobertson Miller Airlines Ltd., Airlines of South Australia Pty. Ltd. and Airlines of New South Wales Pty. Ltd. Those airlines were purchased by Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. in the course of normal business transactions and outside the authority of the Government. Trans-Australia Airlines has submitted that it should have a licence to operate on the Perth-Darwin route, in respect of which MacRobertson Miller Airlines Ltd. receives a subsidy. That application is being considered by the Government at the present time.
– An application was rejected in 1957.
– An application is being considered by the Government at the present time. I am sorry that Senator Cavanagh was not in the chamber earlier when, having spent some considerable time over the last day or two in preparing answers to questions that he raised, I made a statement for his benefit. I hope what I said will satisfy him.
– I shall read it in “ Hansard “. I appreciate the Minister’s efforts.
– The Department of Civil Aviation has nothing to do with the number of air hostesses who are employed or the hours they work. These are matters of industrial agreement or matters for consideration by the appropriate court. The honorable senator would be as aware as I am that these people have their own industrial union which interests itself in their working conditions. I have always found these girls to be most attentive and to work very well.
The honorable senator referred to a request by the Government of South Australia for T.A.A. to be allowed to operate in that State. I am sorry to have to tell the honorable senator that Sir Thomas Playford merely made a verbal application. But a verbal application is not much good. We cannot do anything to allow an airline to operate intrastate unless the State concerned passes complementary legislation. When a Labour Government established the Australian National Airlines Commission, it defined the powers, functions and duties of the Commission in section 19 of the Australian National Airlines Commission Act. The Commission was empowered to do all that was necessary or incidental to the operation of airline services between the various States and Territories, but it was not empowered to operate intrastate services. The Government of the day did provide, however, that where any State referred to the Parliament of the Commonwealth the regulation of air transport, the Commission could operate services within that State. It was all right for Sir Thomas Playford to speak, but what he needed to do was to pass the necessary legislation. He did not pass that legislation.
– Because he was kicked out of office.
– That may be so. The only States that have referred this power to the Commonwealth are Queensland and Tasmania. The Commonwealth has passed complementary legislation to enable T.A.A. to operate in those States. If the other States had done likewise, the position would have been different. It was clearly the intention of the Labour Government that T.A.A. should not operate intrastate without the express approval of the State Parliaments. I am sure the honorable senator is now a lot better informed on that matter. I have heard him say over and over again that we would not operate intrastate in South Australia because we were protecting somebody else. The fact is that no legislation has been passed to enable us to do so.
– Does not the present Commonwealth legislation preclude the States from coming in?
– If the States that have not already passed complementary legislation were to do so, T.A.A. could operate in those States - that is, provided the Commonwealth agreed.
– Would the Commonwealth agree?
– Let the States pass the legislation and then we will see whether it will agree. I want to make only one other reference to the past. 1 am sorry to have to mention certain figures, but I do like to have my statements based on figures. In 1946-47 Trans- Australia Airlines, with a capital of £2.17 million, made a loss of £505,927 and paid no dividend. I do not intend to say what government was in office then. In 1947-48, with a capital of £3,600,000, it made a loss of £296,800 and paid no dividend. In 1948-49, with a capital of £4,370,000, it made a loss of £94,886 and still paid no dividend. Then we come to the first year in which the Liberal-Country Party Government was in office. In 1949-50, with the same capital of £4,370,000, T.A.A. made a profit of £214,818 and paid a dividend of 3& per cent.
– All the Minister is doing is to ape his way through.
– Is that fair?
– It is fair. The Minister is implying that, because another government was in office, the airline lost in its first year of operations.
– It lost not only in the first year but in the first three years.
– And the loss declined each year.
– In the first year in which the Liberal Government was in office, as I pointed out-
– Come on, now.
– Well, the honorable senator started this. I did not raise the matter first. In 1950-51, again with the same capital of £4,370,000, the airline made a profit of £205,799 and paid another dividend of 34 per cent. 1 am pointing out that in the first two years in which this Government was in office the airline was able to convert its loss into a considerable profit and to pay a dividend. T.A.A. has been paying dividends consistently almost ever since ranging from 3i per cent, to 7i per cent, last year
– How much did Ansett-A.N.A. make over that period?
– I have not the figures for Ansett-A.N.A. With great pride, I have given the figures for which we are responsible. We are responsible for the conduct of T.A.A. and that airline has shown good profits. We have shown how we can make an airline efficient. What is done by those in charge of Ansett-A.N.A. is their business. They run the organisation.
I revert now to a statement by Senator Cavanagh to the effect that the Government should tell the airlines how to run their business. The honorable senator said the Government should tell the airlines what time their aircraft should leave and not leave, how many hostesses they should carry and so on. According to Senator Cavanagh, the Government should do this. But the airlines are business concerns. They are run by competent businessmen as has been proved. The staff of T.A.A. is proud of the fact that it can compete with private enterprise and make a profit. It does not want any of this Socialist nonsense of a one airline monopoly. The staff of T.A.A. wants to prove that its administration can run an airline. It has proved this and it does not want interference from governments.
– The Government provides the airports.
– Members of the Opposition are the first to deny their own. In reply to Senator Cant I have a note from the Department of Works to the effect that it has spent all the funds appropriated to it last year for civil aviation works.
– I rise to refer to the proposed vote for the administration of the Department of Civil Aviation and to comment on the reference by Senator Fitzgerald to the shortage of airline pilots. I commend to the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) a suggestion I made to him recently on behalf of the Western Australian branch of the Australian Federation of Air Pilots that every assistance should be given to the Federation to visit schools and encourage young men in the schools to take up flying as a career. The life of an air pilot is interesting. The pilots are paid good salaries and have prospects of advancement. The air pilots believe that if they could put these facts before boys at school, many more would choose flying as a career. This sort of thing is done by many other organisations and I ask the Minister to give every assistance to the pilots who are prepared to act upon their suggestion on a voluntary basis.
I think that in fairness I should correct a minor mis-statement made by Senator Cant about the departure time of Boeing aircraft from Perth at night. The time of departure has been advanced almost to 1 a.m. and the time of arrival at Melbourne is not 5 a.m. but after 6 a.m. which is only a few minutes earlier than the Electras used to arrive. I travel by Ansett-A.N.A. by choice, not because 1 believe TransAustralia Airlines aircraft are unsafe or that the service is inferior. But I should like to say that Senator Cavanagh greatly exaggerated the difficulties of the air hostesses. His statement was completely absurd. I have travelled by T.A.A. on one or two occasions. They had four hostesses and the girls were neither overworked nor lacked time to give the usual courtesies to passengers. Senator Cavanagh’s statement was absurd and amounted to sheer stupid propaganda.
– Where were, they when you were kept at the airport over? night?
– That was due to fog and was not the fault of the airlines. The floor was quite comfortable and I was in good company with Senator Wheeldon. I want to reply to Senator Cant who criticised Ansett-A.N.A. for the services to the north west of Western Australia. He complained that Mr. Ansett had said that he would not provide Viscounts for this service. Mr. Ansett said no such thing. He said that in due course, after about two years, it might be possible to put them on the service. He did not promise them immediately. The difficulties suffered by MacRobertson Miller Airlines Ltd. in trying to cope with the traffic are not due to the failure of Mr. Ansett to provide aircraft. I know the Ansett organisation is doing its very best to find aircraft. If there is a failure in this respect it is due to the previous policy of MacRobertson Miller Airlines in not looking forward sufficiently and in failing to place orders for modern aircraft. It is quite unfair to place the blame on Ansett Transport Industries because of the difficulties experienced in the northern parts of Western Australia. A DC4 aircraft is now travelling weekly to northern parts to try to pick up the backlog of freights.
Again I say to the Minister that the shortage of airline pilots is becoming serious. I have no doubt the Department of Civil Aviation is fully aware of this; but now that the airline pilots have offered to go out themselves and recruit young men to this industry, the Department should give them every assistance.
.- I refer to the appropriation for the administration of the Department of Civil Aviation and in that connection I shall refer to a matter that has not been raised during the debate on the Estimates. In August the Senate disallowed a proposed Government amendment to the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations. That amendment was designed to frustrate an appeal to the Privy Council by Ipec-Air Pty. Ltd. against a decision of the High Court of Australia. The High Court refused an application to compel the Director-General of Civil Aviation to issue an import licence to the I.P.E.C. company for the importation of aircraft for freight traffic operations in Australia. On that occasion, the Senate gave rather emphatic expression to the nationwide revulsion against the Government’s crude tactics.
I do not wish to repeat the arguments advanced then in this chamber and outside in relation to that controversy. I believe the Government was rightly condemned for its abuse of power and its contempt for the rule of law. What I am concerned to put to the Minister is that since then no announcement has been made by the
Government as to what its attitude is to be to further applications either by the Ipec company or by other companies which, from what we hear, appear to have made applications. On 2nd September I placed on notice a series of questions to the Minister for Civil Aviation. These were designed to elicit information as to what applications were put before the Director-General of Civil Aviation since January 1963 for permission to import aircraft into Australia. I sought details as to who had made the application and when it was made; what number and what type of aircraft were the subject of the application; was the application granted or refused and the reasons given for granting or refusing it. I also wished to know what applications were pending and when it was expected decisions would be made.
My complaint to the Minister is that the Parliament and the public have been kept in the dark about the Government’s intentions. I submit we are entitled to know what the facts are. Is the Government waiting for the result of the appeal to the Privy Council, if that is the course that I.P.E.C. takes? What are the facts? What is going on? We are left with the right to place questions on the notice paper and the need to wait indefinitely for some indication from the Government as to what its policy is. I want to know why it takes so long to answer a simple series of questions and when we may expect to have some elucidation of the Government’s policy.
.- I have found the debate tonight most exhilarating. But I want to turn to another aspect of civil aviation and ask the Minister quietly how he is progressing with the matter of estimating air charges so as to obtain some degree of return on the capital investment that the Department has laid out in the foundational work of this industry. We ought to remind ourselves that, over the last century, many mistakes were made in railway development throughout Australia. We have moved now into the air age. I should think that the Government by now has made a statistical calculation of the present capital commitment and its projected capital commitment over a given period. I should think that it has made some estimate also of the revenue return that it is going to exact from the air travelling public per medium of the operators so as to put this industry on a completely economic basis. The development that has been undertaken in a pioneering way is- almost completed. We ought to start to establish now, on a completely economic basis, a return for that capital investment. I do not wish to take the Minister unawares. But if he has statements for presentation to the Committee, I for one would welcome a brief resume of the Government’s assessment of this industry in that respect.
– Madam Temporary Chairman, I wish to direct the attention of the Minister of Civil Aviation to Division No. 135 - Administrative. I wish to raise certain queries. May I say in passing that I heard Senator Sim say that he travelled by a certain airline. None of us denies him the right to travel the chance-it way. It is his right. What I was particularly interested in was the Minister’s statement regarding figures. A former government had established a completely new industry with which no-one in Australia was completely familiar. The Minister was not quite fair in what he said. He was fair to the extent that he mentioned that the losses incurred by the government airline were decreasing with each year. This is not unusual in a new business enterprise. Those losses are the forerunners of profits.
The Minister then claimed that in 1949- 50 a profit was made. That is correct. Noone denies that fact. But he was just a little remiss in what he said. I think this was purely an oversight on his part. The Government at that time was led by Mr. Menzies, as he then was, and it came into office on 10th December 1949. But the profit made by the Government airline was being earned prior to 10th December 1949. It was being earned from 1st July 1949. It was on its way when the Menzies Government came into office. Consequently, the credit for the profit for that year cannot be claimed by that Government. That whole business undertaking, as anyone knows, was on its way up. Let us be quite fair about the matter. In the previous year, the loss was only £94,000. Surely honorable senators would expect a profit in the following year. It was not the great business ability of the Liberal-Country Party Government which came into office on 10th December 1949 that caused the change. The Minister for Civil Aviation knows that.
Concerning the administrative set-up, I am not going to say that malpractices exist. I do not think there is any malpractice in the Department. I have the greatest respect for the public servants in the Department of Civil Aviation working alone or as members of the rationalisation committee controlling the air routes. But I ask the Minister: Who determines policy in the Department of Civil Aviation? We on this side of the Committee make mistakes. I am prepared to concede that, as honorable senators know. There would be no-one fairer on this side or on the other side of the Committee in that respect than I am. I wonder who determines this policy. Some of us are inclined to blame Mr. Ansett. I do not think he is responsible at all. He just happens to be the front runner for a group. Actually, six groups control 29 per cent, of the shares of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. Mr. Ansett and his family control 643,000 shares. If we have a look at the other five groups, what do we find? W. R. Carpenter Holdings controls nearly 3 million shares. Boral Ltd.-Mt. Lyall - the Mount Lyall interests have now been disposed of - hold almost 3 million shares. A bank holds 793,000 shares. Australian Mutual Provident Society and Perpetual Trustees Co.. Ltd. hold 500,000 shares. Mutual Life and Citizens Assurance Co. Ltd. and, I think, Huddart Parker Ltd. hold over 500,000 shares. These companies, with the Ansett family which has 643,000 shares, hold almost 29 per cent, of the shares of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. I would say it is unfair to Mr. Ansett for us to blame him as being the standover man. I think that he is just the front runner for this group of six, including himself. He does their work. I do not blame him. That is his job. Ansett Transport Industries attempts to do the job within the limit of its ability, and with the help of the LiberalCountry Party Government. This help is not inconsiderable. The company gets it whenever it wants it, peculiarly enough. Whether it be a rise in fares, or a further rationalisation of air services, the Ansett company receives what it wants.
The Minister said that the Government of Queensland gave authority to the Commonwealth Government to engage in intrastate airline operations in that State. The Government has a peculiar way of showing its appreciation of this move. I do not know whether the Government is to blame or whether the blame rests with the administrative officers who tender advice to the Minister. The Minister must accept responsibility for these matters. He has not held this portfolio long enough to know what is happening in his Department. I am not blaming him. I am blaming his predecessor. In a couple of years’ time, the present Minister will understand what is going on. What is happening in Queensland? One might say that the Longreach-Mount Isa air route was pioneered by T.A.A. When, with the expansion of Mount Isa, that air route became remunerative and some real profit was to be made from operating it, what did the Department of Civil Aviation do? It handed the operation of that service over to AnsettA.N.A.
Senator Cavanagh told the Committee what was done in South Australia. For years T.A.A. has been trying to get onto the Perth-Darwin run. Irrespective of what the Minister says about consideration being given to this matter now, we know what the answer will be. The only way a different answer might be given to the one we expect is that the Government is being challenged at the present time regarding this matter and it may whisper in the ear of the rationalisation committee: “ For Heaven’s sake, get us out of this jam and give T.A.A. a go on the Perth-Darwin run “.
The Minister also spoke of airline losses. Let us not forget the jam that Australian National Airways was in and the people to whom it owed money. We know those people. That was real rationalisation. It persuaded the Government to back up the Ansett-A.N.A. combination. A.N.A. could not have survived on its own, irrespective of what the Minister said tonight about the losses made by T.A.A., because they were decreasing every year as it learned the airline business. If the Minister had gone into the facts about A.N.A. - he will not do so - he would have drawn a real comparison between the two companies. If he is prepared to be honest he will draw that real comparison. I think the Minister is honest. No- one denies that he is. Perhaps he just does not know - so limited is his knowledge - that A.N.A. was in a real financial jam. The only way the Government had to let A.N.A. out of its trouble was to agree to the combination - Ansett-A.N.A. - and socalled rationalisation.
Do not forget this: Aviation is of vital interest to the Australian people because it is used to an increasing degree as a method of transport. Honorable senators can see this from the figures given each year of passenger and freight business. More and more people are travelling by air.
Perhaps the Government Printer, not the Minister or his administrative officers, is to blame for not getting the report to the Senate before today, when we resumed discussion of the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation. We have read the condemnation of the Government by Sir Giles Chippindall. I do not suppose he would be opposed to the Government. I think he would be particularly fair minded and would speak in all honesty, with the integrity so characteristic of him. His indignation was so strong that he felt he had to remonstrate with the Government and tell it how unfair it had been to T.A.A., the people’s own airline.
This Government says that it believes in free enterprise. But should it defend free enterprise at the expense of something the. people of Australia own and for which the Government is responsible? If free enterprise is worthwhile, let it survive under its own steam, under its own power, under its own efficiency and with its own know how. But the Government will not do that because, given a fair go, T.A.A. would drive Ansett-A.N.A. into the ground.
It is all very well for Senator Sim to say that he travels the chance-it way, but 70 per cent, of members of Parliament travel by T.A.A., the friendly way, the efficient way. The Government does not care very much about public servants. It issued directions to the Public Service that 50 per cent, of Public Service traffic was to go to the other airline, chance-it. That is what the Government did to give chance-it an equal share of the business. How can we expect T.A.A. to survive if it is handicapped at every turn. Every time a T.A.A. plane takes off something is loaded against it in favour of a chance-it plane. Why does the Government not permit open competition? I know that T.A.A. does not fear anything in open competition. I am sure the Minister’s officers will be. frank with him if he gives them a chance and does not hamstring them and tie their hands and their minds. I am sure they will tell him that if he allowed both airlines to operate, fairly and in open competition T.A.A. would survive.
T.A.A. had the majority of the passenger traffic. It was content to allow AnsettA.N.A. to pick up what the Government gave it. The Government gave AnsettA.N.A. 50 per cent, of the mail traffic and the freight that went with it, and T.A.A. was given up to 42 per cent, of the freight traffic, lt was quite content with that. But when the Government found that T.A.A. was getting miles ahead of Ansett-A.N.A. in passenger traffic, it pulled T.A.A. back and gave air routes that it had pioneered to Ansett-A.N.A. However, where AnsettA.N.A. had a monopoly of the service, the Government would not allow T.A.A. to enter that field. Surely the Minister has a sense of responsibility. I know he is only an individual in an incompetent Cabinet, but surely he has some say in Cabinet. He has held this portfolio long enough to learn a little about it and to recognise his responsibilities.
– The Minister pleads ignorance.
– I do not think he is ignorant, but he may be a little unfair on occasions. Why not do things properly? Why not say: “Yes, we believe in free enterprise “? But, as Senator Cohen has pointed out, the Minister has not replied to questions raised about the Interstate Parcel Express Company, a private enterprise company. Although he belongs to a Government which is wedded to free enterprise, he has been completely unfair to I.P.E.C. Sometimes I wonder whether the Government knows where it is going, whether it has a basic philosophy. Honorable senators opposite desire power, and by various misdemeanours and political malpractices they have been successful in maintaining power. I always assumed that they believed in unfettered free enterprise.
– Perhaps the honorable senator is very credulous.
– No. I may be innocent but I am not credulous. I am inclined to accept people’s words because of my basic honesty and inherent idealistic principles.
– What is the honorable senator talking about?
– I replied to the honorable senator’s statement. He should have been courteous enough to listen. I always thought that honorable senators on the Government side believed in unfettered free enterprise but I sometimes wonder to what depths they will sink, to what lengths they will go, to continue in power and to serve the masters to whom they are slaves. I recall what the Government did to I.P.E.C. Frankly, if I had been on the Government side I would have done the same thing but not in the same way. I would have been fair, I would have been frank. I would have been honest and I would have said: “ I believe that the people’s airline has the right to survive. We are not concerned with what you want to do. If you are efficient and can beat the nation’s airline, all credit to you.” There are no lengths to which this Government will not go and no depths to which it will not descend to fetter and shackle its own airline in the interests of an organisation controlled by five groups. Let us forget the sixth group, the Ansett family. Ansett happens to be the mouthpiece for the other five groups. I do not know how many representatives of the Government, with any sense of fairness-
Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
.- The purpose of this debate is to take note of the proposed expenditure for the Department of Civil Aviation. The debate gives the representatives of the States in this place the right to turn a searchlight on the Government - on its deeds and misdeeds, its achievements and lack of achievements, its credits and its debits, and on the hopes and the dashed aspirations of a democracy. The motion before us that we take note of the proposed expenditure allows us that right.
Senator Wood, who occupied the chair before you did, Madam Temporary Chairman, has urged the Committee to abide by the Standing Orders which cover the procedure for Estimates debates. We are all taking part in a farce. We have before us the schedule to a bill which is being debated in another place, but we cannot amend, carry nor defeat the motion before the chair.
– The Committee can amend it how it wishes.
– What ridiculous nonsense. We cannot amend a motion to take note of something. We are taking note of a schedule to a bill which is being debated in another place. That means absolutely nothing. We are taking part in a gab fest. Senator Wright, as an upholder of the rights of the Senate, should know that even better than I do.
– If this is so, why is the honorable senator wasting time in talking?
– Because I have a few things to say and I have been waiting a long time to say them. The matter we are discussing is very important, but the Minister has been taking refuge continually in saying what the Labour Government did in 1946 and 1947 about Trans-Australia Airlines and Australian National Airways Pty. Ltd. If Senator Henty lived in a fowlyard the rooster would chase after him day after day and when he turned and said: “ What are you doing that for? “, the rooster would say “ I.P.E.C., I.P.E.C., I.P.E.C.”. There is a canard to the effect that in the days of the previous Minister for Civil Aviation, when the words “ civil aviation “ were mentioned in aviation circles, the staff of Ansett-A.N.A. would turn to the west in deep obeisance because they knew that from that direction came the wherewithal and the reason for their existence; from there came government policy which was keeping them in existence.
Senator Henty uses profit as the yardstick. Trans-Australia Airlines is an instrumentality of the Commonwealth Government which provides a service to the people of this country. On its back like a barnacle is this other excrescence which has been aided and abetted by the Government since 1949. It is something that T.A.A. does not want. Senator Henty referred to trams leaving at the. same time. How stupid it would be to have two sets of tramlines running parallel and having trams on both sets leaving at the same time. The same thing applies to electricity supply. The cities in the Commonwealth have forests of poles disfiguring the landscape. How stupid it would be to have electricity being carried by wires on poles on both sides of the road. Yet in the field of civil aviation we have this duplication and the Government uses the taxpayers’ money to keep the airlines in existence. That is the stupidity of the policy. There is no way in which it can be justified. Senator Henty comes into the chamber and says: “The airline made a loss in 1947 and in 1948 “. I want to paraphrase a Gladstonian statement. I say that Senator Henty is intoxicated with the exuberance of his own verbosity.
– I do not think it was Gladstone.
– Disraeli then. I purposely made that mistake because I wanted Senator Wright, who is a student of these matters, to come in. I am pleased that he has corrected me.
I would like to draw attention to opinions which have been expressed on this matter outside the Parliament and outside this debate. I believe that an editorial published in a local newspaper in Launceston, which is where Senator Henty and I were born, gets down to the nub of things. For the purpose of the record, I shall quote the editorial because it is germane to the subject we are debating. It states -
The Commonwealth Government has created a commercial aviation system which should be a prime target for its own restrictive and monopolistic trade practices law if it ever gets around to passing this legislation. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) has produced some convincing answers to Ipec’s claim for the right to operate interstate air-express services, if not for the shocking misuse of regulations to negate Ipec’s appeal; but Government acquiescence in the airlines’ application for a 6 per cent, fare rise flies in the face of commercial realism and of Australian opinion.
– Is that an editorial?
– It is the editorial of the “Examiner” of Friday, 8th October 1965. It continues -
The national airline, which publishes Rs figures, is highly profitable. The private airline is lost in a maze of interlocking companies, but it undoubtedly contributed to the parent company’s large profit last year. Costs are rising, but so are patronage and profitability. Yet the Government is to agree to fare rises in a system from which it has carefully removed all real competition and enterprise.
The two airlines charge identical fares, fly almost identical routes with identical aircraft on identical timetables. The significant difference between them is that the private airline’s parent company has made a very costly adventure into commercial television.
We have an airline company in Australia trying to balance the books of the television station Channel 0. The editorial continues -
This has reduced over-all profitability, and the airline user is now expected to pay higher fares to counter the television losses. Nor can the competing national airline, unhindered by television, remain on the old fares and reap the business. The Government will not allow this.
– Will the honorable senator allow me to peruse the editorial?
– I shall hand it to Senator Wright as soon as I have made my contribution to this debate. It continues -
Since 19S7, first-class fares have risen 24 per cent, and tourist fares have risen 36 per cent. (Indeed, some fares are more than 60 per cent, higher than Ansett’s pre-merger rates). Concurrently, the consumer price index has risen less than 14 per cent. Though fuel tax, airport charges and wages have all gone up recently, high utilisation of the big, economical new aircraft could cover these increased costs. The effect of the fare rises would then be merely to add more than a million pounds to the gross profits of each airline.
As it is, the national airline has been hobbled as a pacesetter, and its competitor is a huge, diversified complex which has no incentive to cut costs or increase efficiency because its profits, television and all, are guaranteed by the Commonwealth -
It is aided and abetted by every honorable senator who sits behind the Minister.
– Did the honorable senator say that that is the editorial of the “ Examiner “?
– I said that it is, and I do not want to waste time repeating it. I shall hand it to the honorable senator to peruse. This argument which has been advanced for the protection of Ansett-A.N.A. is costing air travellers in Australia very dearly. One has only to look at the schedules of the airlines, the charges that are being made and the facilities that are being provided to see that this is so. The little amenities that were previously provided, such as the transport of people from the city terminal to the airport free of charge, and the provision of newspapers and Minties on aircraft are no longer available, because Ansett-A.N.A. has found that it is able to save a halfpenny, a penny or five shillings. The airlines now charge 5s. to take people in a coach from the city terminal to the airport. They jerk that out of the passengers. They jerk 3s. from them when it is a shorter journey. This racket, which is being subsidised by the Government, should be exposed to the public.
Senator Henty does not do himself any credit when he refers to what happened in 1947. A.N. A. was established from nothing. The Holyman brothers pioneered the air routes of Australia. Great credit must be given to them. Their names will live forever in the history of civil aviation in Australia.
– The honorable senator and his Government crucified them.
– That is completely wrong. They entered into ventures which were outside their scope. The Government should not continue with the stupidity of trying to justify in this Parliament something that is farcical - the idea that we can have a complex organisation such as an airline going into the television business and into the striptease business on Hayman Island, going all over the country with every little lurk and being interested in every quick quid organisation that can be built up and brought up into one pot, and then being able to come to the Government and say: “ Put up the fares of Trans-Australia Airlines so that we can put our fares up too and bring our profits up to 1 per cent.”. The figures produced to this Committee show that T.A.A. paid £500,000 in income tax. The Government also imposed extra taxation on diesel fuel when T.A.A. was obliged to use that fuel. An extra burden is being imposed on air travellers by indirect methods.
This tax imposition on those in the community who are obliged to travel by air is the very essence of injustice. Taxation should be spread equally, but we find that taxes are being imposed in areas where the ordinary wage or salary earner has to pay the lot. He has no escape clauses, no little lurks by which he can claim deductions, yet big companies are being given opportunities to run expense accounts and the like. This is the policy in practically every phase of governmental activity today, especially in the field we are now discussing. I believe that the Airlines Agreement is a scandal and should be examined by a royal commission. I believe that Mr. Ansett should be obliged by law to produce his balance sheets, alongside those of Trans-Australia Airlines, when these appropriations are being discussed. He has an open road into the Treasury and practically an unsigned cheque on the taxpayers’ account. He can nearly write his own cheque. He can always get the Minister for Civil Aviation to come into this chamber and say “ Look at what was done in 1947”-
– Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– I have listened with great interest to the speeches by honorable senators opposite, criticising the Government for what it has done for aviation in Australia. Let me remind Senator O’Byrne of the position when this Government came into office in 1949. Up to that time Trans-Australia Airlines was losing up to £600,000 a year under the control of a Labour government, despite the fact that it had been given the sole right to carry air mail and to carry civil servants from one State to another. That was the position when we became the Government.
– With what item is the honorable senator dealing?
– I must apologise to the Chair for not having announced that. I am dealing with Division No. 135 - Administrative. I was absolutely amazed by some of the statements made during this debate by Senator Dittmer. He said that the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) had held the Civil Aviation portfolio for only a short period and did not quite understand what was going on. If the honorable senator did not say that, it was what he implied, and I did not like it very much. If the Australian Labour Party ever came to office and I felt impelled to criticise the Minister for Civil Aviation of that day, I would not use the innuendos which were used in this debate by Senator Dittmer. I thought he was coming down pretty low and that was why I decided to speak when I had the opportunity to do so.
Senator Dittmer said that the Government had never given Trans-Australia Airlines an opportunity to prosper or function properly. Let me tell him and other members of the Opposition that the Government’s two airline policy is known and envied all over the world. I know what honorable senators opposite think of T.A.A. If their party came into office tomorrow the first thing.it would do would be to try to stop Ansett-A.N.A. Prior to 1949 the Labour Party endeavoured to nationalise the airlines. I am reminded that there was a referendum on the subject and that the proposal was declared to be ultra vires the constitution.
– The proposal was turned down by the people.
– Yes. The Labour Party’s policy is quite different from ours. This Government believes in a two airline policy. It gives Australian civil servants the opportunity to travel with the airline of their choice. What happened under the Labour Government? Could civil servants elect to travel either by Ansett-A.N.A. or T.A.A. in those days? At that time Ansett-A.N.A. was Australian National Airways Pty. Ltd.
– Can they travel by T.A.A. between Adelaide and Woomera?
– As a senator representing Western Australia, can Senator Cant tell me whether in those days any air mail was carried by A.N.A.? Was it by Government direction that all air mail was carried by T.A.A.? Notwithstanding the advantages given to T.A.A. by the Labour Government, did T.A.A. make a profit in any year while that Government was in office? If it did, surely honorable senators opposite can tell me in what year.
– In 1949.
– In 1949 T.A.A. lost the sum of £600,000, although it had been given the advantage of carrying all civil servants within the Commonwealth and a complete monopoly of the carriage of mail. Under the administration of the great Australian Labour Party, about which we hear so much, T.A.A. lost a terrific amount of money.
– How much was the loss in 1949? Give us the figure.
– I think it was £314,000.
Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Temporary Chairman do now leave the chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative. (The Temporary Chairman having reported accordingly) -
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Honorable Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I wish to take only five minutes of the time of the Senate in order to put the record straight on a matter that I raised yesterday, namely discourteous treatment by the head of the Department of Works in South Australia. Yesterday I was speaking from memory. So the facts that I gave may not have been accurate. At this hour I only wish to read the letter that I sent to the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) and two replies that I received from him. They will show my complaint about the Department failing to supply information. On 13th August I wrote to the Minister for Works as follows -
I am taking the liberty of placing before you the case of Mr. R. Hardy of Salisbury North, South Australia, who claims wrongful dismissal from your Department in this State.
According to information supplied, Mr. Hardy was employed by your Department of Works at Salisbury as a labourer 21 years ago. After working for 6 months, he was employed as a truck driver, and later as a cement worker. Mr. Hardy, before employment with your Department, was a plastering improver, but contracted cement dermatitis and had to discontinue working with cement.
When he was put on the cement work by your Department, he complained and said he could not continue with the work because he was allergic to cement, and dermatitis would re-occur. The particular foreman desired that he continue because he was qualified for that work and it was difficult to obtain good cement hands. After continual protests, a rash broke out on Mr. Hardy’s hands, and he received a medical certificate stating the rash was an industrial dermatitis. He was put to labouring and then dismissed.
Mr. Hardy claims that having received notice for dismissal for unsatisfactory service he saw the Personnel Officer who told him that this was a mistake, and it would be changed to ill-health, and if a future vacancy occurred for a truck driver he could make application.
On Wednesday I raised this matter with Mr. Alexander, your Director here in Adelaide, who asked for time to look into the question. Later that clay he rang back to say the Department had a lot of complaints against Mr. Hardy and on no account would he be reconsidered for future employment. My reply was that Mr. Hardy appeared to be a quiet and conscientious type of man and his claim was only that he refused to do cement work, which was detrimental to his health and, therefore, in my opinion, such a refusal was justified. Whereupon Mr. Alexander replied that there are a lot of other things and he was not prepared to consider the matter again.
The abrupt and, I considered, discourteous attitude of your Director leaves some suspicion in my mind that the particular employee could have been a victim of a dispute with the individual foreman, and as it is apparent that an investigation by your Department will not be forthcoming. I ask for your assistance in obtaining a thorough inquiry into the statements of Mr. Hardy, and an investigation into the alleged other reasons for his dismissal, and of which Mr. Hardy has no knowledge and appear to have been thought up since his last interview with the Personnel Officer.
Thanking you in anticipation of a complete inquiry.
On 24th August Senator Gorton wrote to me as follows -
I acknowledge your letter of 13th August 1965 in which you voice what you describe as a suspicion in your mind that Mr. R. Hardy of Salisbury North, South Australia, might have been dismissed by the Department of Works because of a dispute he had with a foreman. I shall write to you again on this matter at a later date.
On 16th September the Minister wrote to me as follows -
I write again concerning your letter dated 13 th August and acknowledged by me on 24th August. The letter concerned Mr. R. Hardy who was previously employed by the Department of Works.
I have made inquiries in the case and am satisfied that Mr. Hardy was not discharged as a result of some personal dispute with a foreman.
Those letters show my whole complaint. The Minister takes the same attitude as the Department. He is satisfied, and he makes no effort to satisfy the member of Parliament who makes a complaint on behalf of a particular worker.
– I believe that, if Senator Cavanagh intended to raise this matter tonight, in fairness to the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) he should have told the Minister, 1 do not know whether or not he did that. I am sure that the Minister would have been present if the honorable senator had done so. I know nothing of the incident to which the honorable senator has referred. The Minister has made inquiries and has given the honorable senator a courteous reply. I can see no fault in that. If the honorable senator had anything further to raise, I believe that he should have advised the Minister for Works so that the Minister could have been here to answer him. As I said, 1 am not aware whether he did that. I say to all honorable senators that, if they wish to raise a matter in the adjournment debate and want an answer from the relevant Minister, I believe that it is only normal common sense - not even courtesy - to let him know that they intend to do so, so that he can be present to supply an answer.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.37 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 21 October 1965, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1965/19651021_senate_25_s29/>.