25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 11.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. In view of the recent statement that a large sum of money is to be spent by the Postmaster-General’s Department, I ask the Minister: Can he say whether the Government has given consideration to making telephone charges throughout Australia - uniform in the same way as postal charges and telegraph charges are uniform? Can he say whether the PostmasterGeneral has asked his officers to extend the present extended local service area in each capital city from the existing radius of 20 miles from the centre to something like 40 miles? If he cannot give an answer now, will he advise me within the next few months as to what progress has been made in the consideration of this matter?
– As the honorable senator has anticipated, I cannot give an answer now, but I shall refer the matter to the Postmaster-General. I point out, however, that the question of having uniform charges is a matter of policy which does not attract an answer at question time.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Is the Minister aware of the recent decision of the two commercial television stations in Western Australia to withdraw their applications for permission to extend commercial television facilities to country areas? In view of this decision, could the Minister inform me what assistance is offered to successful applicants for commercial television licences in country areas in the way of sharing the facilities of national stations already established in those areas? If the Postmaster-General’s Department shares certain facilities, has consideration been given to extending this assistance to the sharing of microwave links where they are available?
– The Government recognised some time ago that, by sharing transmitting facilities between the national television service and country commercial stations, economies would be achieved both by the Government and commercial licensees. Accordingly, it arranged financial conditions which encouraged the sharing of facilities which were being developed for national television transmitter stations and distributed the information to country commercial stations. That these proved of benefit to commercial stations is demonstrated by subsequent results. Of Phase 4 stations whose transmitters have a common site with the national station, all but one share all facilities, whilst the single exception shares the transmitter mast. The facilities that can be shared are mast, antennae - if the national and commercial channels are so spaced that a joint aerial is possible - building accommodation and operating and maintenance staff.
In the case of roads, the Government recognised the problems which can arise with relatively inaccessible sites and limited the commercial road contribution on capital account to a maximum of £10,000. On other facilities of a capital nature, the Government decided that, provided the commercial station paid in cash the extra cost of a joint facility, it would accept the remainder of the station’s contribution over a period of years, subject to the payment of interest. Arrangements also exist to share facilities at translator stations.
As to the honorable senator’s second question, on micro-wave facilities, this aspect is not part of a sharing arrangement, since most of this equipment is provided as part of the Postal Department’s telephone trunk facilities. Standard charges are made for such facilities, payable by national or commercial stations, should the facilities be necessary for the transmission of television programmes.
– Does the Minister representing the Minister for the Army recall that some weeks ago I asked whether Government action would be taken to drop the practice of announcing unnamed casualties in Vietnam until the appropriate Service had advised relatives and was thus in a position to release names? I have noticed in the Press that this procedure has been carried out over the past few days. Can the Minister advise whether it has become official policy and whether it will continue to be followed in the future?
– .1 have no further advice on this subject at the moment. I shall make inquiries of the Minister for the Army and see what has happened.
– I ask the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research: Has the Minister seen a report in yesterday’s issue of the Adelaide “ Advertiser “ of a statement made by the South Australian Minister for Education that Adelaide University might have to forego £60,000 because of what he called the difficult situation brought about by the Commonwealth’s expecting State Governments to match certain grants for research? Does the Minister agree with Mr. Loveday’s following statement that there is a need for complete revision of Commonwealth grants for education?
– I have read the statement in the Adelaide “ Advertiser “ attributed to Mr. Loveday. It seems to me that the statement attributed inaccurate remarks to Mr. Loveday. For one thing, it has been known since the beginning of the triennium - that is for the last two years - that about £5 million was to be distributed for research in universities. It has been known since last March, when honorable senators examined the report of the Martin Committee, that the basis of distribution in Australia of the £2 million remaining for this purpose would be the selection of individuals in research teams whose work was thought to be most likely to contribute to the scientific progress of Australia. This is no a new concept that has suddenly burst upon the consciousness of the South Australian Government, It is required to find about £148,000 for this purpose for the rest of the triennium, and that amount is being matched by the Commonwealth Government.
I think it is important to realise that a Commonwealth Government ought not to be attacked for making an offer of assist ance to any State Government on a matter which is of national importance, and for saying to that State Government: “ This is what we are prepared to offer you to help in this field. You can match it in whole or in part. If you match it in whole, you will get all the amount offered; or if you match half of it, you will get half of the amount offered”. The Commonwealth Government should not be attacked for then leaving it to the State Government to exercise its own responsibility in deciding whether to take a full partnership in this field, or something less than a full partnership. In those circumstances, everybody knows where he stands and which government is making the decisions. Therefore I see no reason at all for any re-examination of the process.
– My qustion is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Has a decision been made on which electricity authority is to supply the new international terminal complex, operations building and control tower planned for Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport? If a decision has not been made, will the Minister take into consideration the special position and representations of the St. George County Council which is anxious to undertake the supply?
– The Public Works Committee has examined this position in its report on the operations building and control tower building proposals for the Sydney airport. The Committee recommended that the electricity supply should be taken from the St. George County Council provided the cost was no greater to the Commonwealth than if taken from the alternative source. The Department of Works considered the recommendation of the Committee and decided that the electricity supply for both buildings should be taken from the Sydney County Council, which is the most economic source in both cases. The Minister for Works said in another place last night that by this procedure a saving of £7,100 would be made each year for the next 20 years.
– I address my question to the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry. Has his attention been directed to the action of the United States authorities at Los Angeles in refusing to permit the unloading of a ship, the “Lloyd Baake “, loaded with Australian meat, on the ground that the ship had called at Singapore, which is a foot and mouth disease area? Is the Minister aware that the “ Gruden Baake “ is now loading meat at Darwin, but because of the action of the United States authorities its sailing is now in doubt? In view of the value of the United States market to. Australian meat producers, will the Minister have this matter investigated in an endeavour to come to a satisfactory arrangement with the United States Government?
– I suggest that the honorable senator put this question on the notice paper. It is a most important question and I should like the Minister for Trade and Industry to supply the answer.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Health seen a report in today’s Melbourne “ Sun “ of a statement made yesterday to a drug industry symposium by Mr. C. Norman Stocks, Director and General Manager of Drug Houses of Australia Ltd. and Chairman of Directors of Cyanamid D.H.A. Pty. Ltd.? Mr. Stocks is reported to have said that 97 per cent, of the pharmaceutical industry is owned outside Australia, and indeed to have quoted the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Henty, as his authority for the statement that only one of the 30 major drug companies had Australian shareholding. Mr. Stocks is said to have appealed to the representatives of overseas interests to acknowledge the need for some Australian equity in the industry. I ask the Minister: Does he agree that there is a need for a minimum percentage of Australian shareholding in the industry? If he does, what steps is the Government taking to achieve this object, whether by legislation or otherwise?
– I will refer the question to the Minister for Health.
– By way of preface to my question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for
External Affairs, may I say that I welcome the continuing interest of the Government in providing assistance to underdeveloped countries. Can the Minister give me some information on the Government’s decision to pay a subsidy to the Overseas Service Bureau to assist with its Australian Volunteers Abroad Scheme? Can the Minister state to what areas of activity the subsidy will apply? In particular, will it apply to Papua and New Guinea, the New Hebrides, New Caledonia and Fiji? What will be the measure of the subsidy? Will it be on a matching basis? How will it be ascertained?
– The areas of operation to which the volunteers at present go, and to which they will continue to go, are the areas in the Pacific mentioned by the honorable senator - Asia, Papua and New Guinea and that region generally. I think there are at present some 40 volunteers abroad. Assistance will be provided in the future by the Australian Government meeting the operational costs of a mission - recruitment expenses, fares and things like that. The Overseas Service Bureau, not the Australian Government, will be expected to meet administrative expenses incurred in running projects. Approximately one-half the personnel abroad at present are in Papua and New Guinea and it is expected that this proportion will continue. I cannot tell the honorable senator the actual amount which will be involved, because this will depend upon the Australian Government and the Bureau reaching an agreed programme. There is provision for discussion and agreement as to what the programme for the next year will be. The amount involved may go up or down. That is the way in which the matter will be handled.
– I preface my question, which is directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise, by stating that in reply to a previous question that I asked in this chamber I was advised that no statistics are available regarding the importation of tobacco leaf from South Africa by individual manufacturers. Will the Minister now advise why this information is not available? If there is no proper recording system for imports of tobacco and other raw and manufactured goods by individual manufacturers and other importers, will the
Minister recommend to the Government that an efficient recording system be established by his Department?
– The last part of the honorable senator’s question, which might tend to reflect upon the efficiency of the Department, is quite inaccurate. I will examine the proposition that he has put for a more detailed form of imports statistics.
– I preface my question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Supply, by pointing out that some week ago I asked a question about a report that the Defence Standards Laboratories had detected a serious lack of filtering properties in sunglasses. I asked that the relevant information be conveyed to the State Ministers for Health so that they could protect the general public. I now ask whether that information is in the process of being conveyed to the Senate.
– I will make inquiries of the Minister for Supply and will endeavour to obtain a prompt answer to the honorable senator’s question.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation the following question: Further to the question that I addressed to him on 28th October last with reference to the experiment with staggered departure times for passenger aircraft, which he said would be carried out in certain northern areas, I ask: ls he yet in a position to advise the details of the airports and cf the staggered timetables?
– No, I have no further advice. The investigation is being undertaken by the two airlines themselves. Naturally, the matter is within their purview. Provided the timetables are safe, the matter passes from the jurisdiction of the Department of Civil Aviation into the hands of the airlines. I understand that they are proceeding with this investigation. I will endeavour to get some further information for the honorable senator. Meanwhile, I have received representations from a number of Queensland senators in support of the representations of the Johnstone Shire Council in north Queensland, which is asking that its repre sentations and those of other councils be heard before any final decision is made. I am passing those representations to the airlines so that they can confer with the councils in an endeavour to get a more satisfactory system operating throughout north Queensland. No doubt the shire councils have in mind some of the intrastate services. In that case I will have to confer with the Queensland Government as well.
– Has the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry seen reports of a declaration made by the Federation of Automotive Products Manufacturers at a convention held yesterday in which State and Federal Governments are requested to review purchasing policy to ensure the maximum advantage to Australian products? The convention also urged that the timetable for increasing the local content of vehicles be speeded up and requested an early decision on the Tariff Board report on the motor vehicle industry. Is the Minister in a position to advise the Senate on any of these matters and particularly on the likely date of issue of the Tariff Board report on the motor vehicle industry?
– No, I have no information on that particular matter. The Minister for Trade and Industry will be returning to Australia within the next few days. I shall take the matter up with him and see whether he can give me any information for the Senate. No doubt, he will make a statement on it.
– On 16th May the Prime Minister announced that the Government had approved a recommendation of the Public Service Board that, subject to the overriding requirement to maintain the efficiency of the Service, and on the basis of careful selection and placement, the Public Service Board would henceforth consider for permanent appointment to positions for which they were qualified physically handicapped persons who were not previously eligible. Each case has since been treated on its merits. It is estimated that during the year ended 31st December 1964 more than 600 such appointees were accepted as contributors to the Provident Account, in addition to those placed in temporary employment. This figure does not include returned soldiers who have been appointed permanently to the Public Service and admitted to the Provident Account. There are about 200 such cases this year.
– I direct a question to the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research. I preface my question by saying that in the annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board it is mentioned that the Board’s Advisory Committee on Educational Television Services submitted a report to the Postmaster-General in November of last year and that the recommendations were being examined by the PostmasterGeneral in consultation with the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research. Can the Minister say whether any decision has been reached as yet on the recommendations proposed by the Advisory Committee concerning the use of television as an educational medium? If not, what is the latest situation on the matter?
– I think the latest situation on the matter is that the report to which the honorable senator referred went to the Postmaster-General and he has since been discussing it with the various people who might be interested technically, that is to say, with the Australian Broadcasting Commission, the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, and some other body whose name at the moment skips my memory. I understand that they have been getting together and having meetings for the purpose of offering comments on the report to the Postmaster-General. I gather that they have reached a point where they have agreed on the sort of comments that they will put to him. As soon as he gets these comments - which is expected to be soon - he will let me have them and we shall then be in consultation as to what may or may not be done. We shall then go to the Government about it.
– I direct to the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry a question with reference to the subsidy being paid to assist the shipping line operating to South America. How many separate voyages were made in 1964-65, 1963-64 and 1962-63? What are the principal commodities transported from Australia? To which South American ports are these commodities consigned?
– There are, in effect, two shipping services to South America, one to the east coast and one to the west coast. Both of these services have been operating since early in 1962. I have not the number of voyages made, but I am getting that information and I shall send it to the honorable senator. The principal commodities transported to the west coast are primary products, including meat and dairy products, motor vehicles and parts, steel, and agricultural machinery; and to the east coast, metals, including steel, tinplate, zinc, agricultural machinery, barley and malt. My understanding is that all major ports in the area are serviced, including the larger ports of Buenos Aires, Montevideo and Rio de Janeiro.
– I address a question to the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research. It is supplementary to that asked by Senator McClelland regarding the report on educational television. I ask the Minister: Is it proposed to make this report available to the Parliament? If not, is there any good reason why hot?
– This report was sent to the Postmaster-General. Therefore, what I say now is only my opinion. I very much doubt that there would be any impediment to presenting the report to the Parliament. The usual practice is for the Government to decide what it will do about a report and what it wants the Parliament to agree to, and then to present the report together with a statement of what the Government proposes to do, so that the whole matter can be discussed.
(Question No. 595.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The Minister for Territories has now supplied the following answers -
The welfare of the Yirrkala Aborigines seems an appropriate matter for the Legislative Council to concern itself with, and while there is a committee of the Council which is actively giving consideration to the affairs of the Aboriginal people at Yirrkala, it is unnecessary and perhaps undesirable for there also to be a standing committee of the Commonwealth Parliament.
The situation will be reviewed, however, if the new Legislative Council shortly to be elected does not set up a standing committee with a scope that includes the welfare of the Aborigines at Yirrkala.
(Question No. 683.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
With regard to various attempts to destroy the natural state of Ayers Rock by the construction of buildings or the installation of mechanical devices to facilitate ascent to this site, who has the power to veto such plans - the Minister or the Administrator of the Northern Territory?
– The Minister for Territories has now supplied the following answer -
Ayers Rock forms part of the Ayers Rock-Mt. Olga National Park which has been vested in the care of the Northern Territory Reserves Board established under the National Parks and Gardens Ordinance 1959-63. The Reserves Board is an independent statutory authority and is responsible for the care and development of those reserves which have been committed to its control in accordance with the purpose for which the land has been reserved. Within that purpose neither the Minister nor the Administrator has a power of veto in relation to actions taken by the Board.
(Question No. 699.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Army has provided the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions - 1 and 2. The highest battle casualty rate sustained by 1 R.A.R. in South Vietnam so far occurred in the Iron Triangle operation in which 39 casualties were inflicted by enemy action. Amongst a battalion strength of some 800 members this represents a rate of 1 in 20. It should also be borne in mind that 8 of the 39 casualties occurred when a vehicle carrying troops ran over a mine on the way to the operational area. It is not reasonable to compare the casualty rate of Australian troops, who are virtually all combat troops, with that of the United States forces, which is based on the total number of United States personnel in South Vietnam. The best comparison that we are able to make relates to the 173rd Brigade, of which the Australian unit is a part. The casualty rates of Australian and United States troops in that Brigade are almost exactly the same.
Although there were a large number of skin complaints suffered by 1 R.A.R. soldiers in the Ben Cat and Iron Triangle operations, the rate was not abnormally high in view of the climate and extremely difficult nature of the terrain. Most of the troubles cleared up within two to three days after the operations. A comparison of Australian and United States skin complaints in the area of operations shows that the Australian rate is significantly lower than that of the United States. 3 and 4. With regard to the leading article referring to “ penny packets “, it should be realised that our troops are operating as a part of much larger forces which cannot be correctly described as “ penny packets “.
In the present circumstances, and in pursuance of our declared policy of a forward defence strategy and our obligations to Malaysia and under S.e.A.T.O. it is most important that Australia should provide contributions to the forces of our allies in both Malaysia and South Vietnam. Our deployed forces although necessarily relatively small are making very effective military contribution to the operations in which they are engaged.
(Question No. 672.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Army has provided the following answers to the honorable senator’s questions -
– Mr. President, pursuant to statute I present the following report -
Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies - Report - for the period 2nd June 1964 to 30th June 1965.
Honorable senators will be interested to know that this is the first report of the Institute since it was placed on a statutory basis by the passage of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies Act 1964. The report incorporates material which it is hoped will be of interest to all those concerned with aboriginal studies and the preservation of source material on which these studies are based.
Motion (by Senator Henry) agreed to -
That Government business take precedence of general business after 8 p.m. this sitting.
Consideration resumed from 10th November (vide page 1432).
Department of Health
Proposed expenditure, £4,884,000.
Proposed provision, £1,338,000.
. -I address my remarks to Division No. 250, Administrative, and ask the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) whether any provision is made in the proposed appropriation for salaries of administrative officers for the appointment of a director of dental care. This Government has completely disregarded, and has been callously indifferent to, the care of teeth, particularly of children. It has shown no real interest in this matter.
– We cannot hear what the honorable senator is saying.
– I shall make certain that the honorable senator does hear. It is particularly important that he should hear what I have to say, because he is an intelligent, constituent part of the Government. I was asking the Minister whether provision has been made for the appointment of a director of dental care. As I said earlier, this Government has callously disregarded the dental care of people, particularly children. This matter assumes particular importance in the light of a recent suggestion by the National Health and Medical Research Council that dental nurses should be trained, in co-operation with the States, to care for the teeth of children.
In an effort to establish a smoke screen, the Minister will probably say that dental care is the responsibility of the States. He might say equally well that medical care is the responsibility of the States, but that did not prevent the Government from making an effort to establish an insurance scheme for the doctors. If the Government can enter the field of general medicine, it could accept responsibility in the field of dental care. No doubt the States will claim that they have not sufficient finance to establish schools for the training of dental nurses. It is not suggested that these people should be trained by dental schools that are under the control of the universities. I repeat my question: Has provision been made for the establishment within the Department of Health of a dentistry branch under the control of a director?
– The answer to the honorable senator’s question is: “ No “. The Commonwealth has accepted responsibility within the Australian Capital Territory but, as the honorable senator well knows, in the States the inspection of the teeth of school children is carried out by State authorities
.- I refer to the proposed provision for grantsinaid to the Lady Gowrie Child Centres. I have seen the work that has been done by the Lady Gowrie Child Centres in Queensland. They make a very great contribution to the welfare of children, particularly underprivileged youngsters. I hope that this sort of work will expand, because it is applied to those who are unable to get elsewhere the kind of help that is provided. I note that last year a sum of £58,350 was appropriated and that that sum was expended.. But this year there is a strange variation in the figures. Whereas last year the appropriation was £58,350, this year it is £53,850. I ask whether this is just a printing error or a transposition of the figures, or whether the amount of the grant has been reduced by £4,500.
.- I refer to the item dealing with the allocation for medical research. I notice that the appropriation for medical research has been increased by £26,000, from £413,000 in 1964-65 to £439,000 in 1965-66. I am particularly interested in that section of the very commendable report of the Commonwealth Director-General of Health for 1964-65 dealing with the National Health and Medical Research Council. In referring to the work of the Medical Research Council, the report foreshadows certain developments. I would like to know from the Minister whether the increase of £26,000 will be directed towards the extension of the Council’s work. The report contains a recommendation that there shall be established in Australia a number of national microbiological reference laboratories to identify’ new and unusual strains of viruses and other organisms which cannot fully be identified with normal laboratory facilities. I hope that these most useful national laboratories will indeed be established.
I also refer to the grant for the Lady Gowrie Child Centres, which was mentioned by Senator Morris. This year there is a reduction in the grant of £4,500. The Lady Gowrie Child Centres care for not only underprivileged children but all children who live in the areas where the Centres have been established. Also, a great deal of useful research is conducted by the Centres. Another important aspect of their work is parent training. I would like to know the reason for the reduction in the grant to the Centres.
– In reply to Senator Morris, the decrease of £4,500 relates to non-recurring expenditure in 1964-65. The amount of £4,500 represents the final payment of the Commonwealth contribution towards the cost of rebuilding the Lady Gowrie Child Centre at Carlton in Victoria, which was severely damaged by fire in 1963.
Senator Breen referred first to the increase of £26,000 in the allocation for medical research. The increase is tq meet the full year cost of higher salary scales now payable to research workers under National Health and Medical Research Council grants. The new salary scales are in line with those payable at the School of General Studies at the Australian National University. Arrears for six months applicable to 1964-65 will be paid in 1965-66.
Regarding the Lady Gowrie Child Centres, the Commonwealth has been paying an annual grant towards the operating costs of the Centres since their inception in 1940. The Lady Gowrie Pre-school Child Centres were established as centres for the testing and demonstration of methods for the care and instruction of the young child and to study problems of physical growth, nutrition and development. The annual grant approved assists in financing the costs of maintenance, including salaries of the staff of the Centres. That is the only information I can give.
– I would like to ask the Minister whether his senior administrative officer has advised him that it would be justifiable and whether it is the intention of the Government to accept the advice to bring down legislation in the present sessional period to increase the Commonwealth Government’s contribution towards medical expenses incurred by those people who are insured in a medical benefits fund, so that the iniquitous burden placed on people by the recent rise in medical fees will be removed. I also ask whether the Government plans to make an honest endeavour to honour the assurance given by a former Minister for Health, the late Sir Earle Page, that it was intended that 90 per cent, of medical expenses would be met by the combined contributions of the Commonwealth Government and medical benefits funds.
– 1 relate my remarks to Division No. 250. Presumably the Lady Gowrie Centres in each State receive a certain grant. Has the Minister available to him the break-up of those grants into each State centre? I do not know whether an equal amount is granted to each State. I would like that information, if the Minister has it.
– In answer to Senator Dittmer’s query, I have no knowledge of any representations being made along the line indicated by him. The information requested by Senator Morris is that an equal amount of grant is payable to each State.
– The report of the Director of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories shows that 55 per cent, of the value of its sales represent sales of penicillin and Salk vaccine. Has the Director of the Laboratories made any recommendations that the activities of his organisation should be expanded to cover a wider range of manufacture of products for sale, so that it would be in a better position to compete with other drug manufacturers in Australia? By this means, the burden on the taxpayers could be lightened.
– I am informed that a Cabinet decision was made confirming that the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories should maintain the status quo. I think that answers the honorable senator’s query.
– That is not quite the answer. I do not wish to dictate to the Minister how he should answer my question but I am asking why 55 per cent, of the sales of the Laboratories should represent penicillin and Salk vaccine. It seems to me to be an extraordinarily large percentage of sales covering only two products when such a tremendous field of sales is available. I do not think any other drug firm in Australia would show a similar percentage of sales of a particular type of vaccine or of penicillin.
– The answer is: “ No.” I do not have that information, but I shall try to get it for the honorable senator from the Department.
Proposed expenditure and proposed provision noted.
Department of the Army.
Proposed expenditure, £128,916,000.
– I wish to relate my remarks to Division No. 698, where appropriation is made for the pay and allowances in the nature of pay of the Australian Regular Army and Citizen Military Forces. I ask the Minister whether these estimates include payments for furlough for national servicemen on retirement from their compulsory tour of duty of two years. If not, would the Minister be good enough to indicate to me whether provision is made in another item under which it would be more appropriate to discuss that matter?
– Provision is not included in this year’s estimates for the Department of the Army for payments of the nature referred to by the honorable senator. Such provision will be included for the first time in next year’s estimates.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Department of Housing
Proposed expenditure, £1,988,000.
Proposed provision, £35,000,000.
.- My brief query relates to the £250 homes savings grant. I have seen reports that something like £6,000,000 has been handed out in grants but I have not seen reports of the number of houses which have been built with the assistance of the grants. Would I be right in assuming that the section of the Department of Housing which handles the grants does not follow up the grants although it investigates the qualifications and the bona fides of the people to whom grants are made? In other words, has the Department no idea whether a particular grant of £250 is used to assist in the building of a home? If the Department has information on the number of homes which have been built with the assistance of the grants, I should like to have it. If the Department has not that information, can the Minister tell me why it has not?
.- The officer who could advise me on this matter is not in the chamber at present. If the information sought is available, I will see that it is conveyed to the honorable senator.
.- I notice that the Department sets out its administrative expenses in Division No. 260 and then, in sub-division 1, allows itself a credit, in item 07, for an amount to be received from the War Service Homes Insurance Trust Account and, in item 08, for amounts to be received from war service homes purchasers and borrowers in respect of technical and legal services. In subdivision 2, items 15 and 16, it allows further credits for, first, an amount to be received from the War Service Homes
Insurance Trust Account, and secondly, for amounts to be received from war service homes purchasers and borrowers in respect of technical services. I should like an explanation of the form of accounting which makes it proper for credits to be entered against expenditure in respect of amounts to be received from the War Service Homes Insurance Trust Account - we recall that this is a very special nature of insurance, the premiums for which are paid to the War Service Homes Division, which carries the risk - and in respect of amounts to be received from purchasers and borrowers in respect of technical and legal services. Then I would like to know why there are two separate credits in the accounts in respect of the same item.
The second matter that I wish to mention arises out of a question that I addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Housing a few weeks ago and in respect of which I received an answer yesterday. I remind the Minister that in relation to the administration of the housing loans insurance scheme we passed legislation which was designed to give mortgagees government insurance which would enable a reduction of the interest rate on housing finance. In addition it will facilitate an extension of the upper limit in terms of the percentage of the value of the security and also eliminate the cost of interest and of the arrangement and preparation of second mortgages. However, from the answer to my question and my consideration of the matter, it seems to me that there has been some oversight in respect of the dovetailing of that administration into the war service homes administration.
The War Service Homes Division limits its finance to £3,500 at the present time. Although the answer to my question indicates that it is now considered that 85 per cent. of applicants do not seek supplementary finance, it cannot be denied that quite a substantial number of applicants still need supplementary finance both on an interim basis and on a permanent basis. The War Service Homes Division’s upper limit of £3,500 does not nearly match the amount that can be advanced under the housing loans insurance scheme. If I recollect correctly, the limit under that scheme is £7,000, or maybe £7,500. If that limit is to operate in respect of the civilian community so as to enable people to borrow £6,000 on first mortgage on a £7,000 house with the aid of the insurance that the Government gives to the mortgagee, the war service homes applicant, who is restricted to £3,500 on first mortgage, will be seriously disadvantaged, especially if in order to obtain supplementary finance he first has to obtain permission from the Director of War Service Homes to raise a second mortgage and secondly has to obtain second mortgage finance at the old market rate and at the old cost. I would be very obliged to the Minister if he would comment on those matters for the information of the Committee, because they are causing some anxiety.
.- The first question asked by Senator Wright was in relation to the amount to be received from the War Service Homes Insurance Trust Account. Last year the estimate for this item was £127,000 and the amount received was £116,570. This year the estimate is £110,000. It represents the proportion of salaries of officers and employees engaged either full or part time on work associated with the war service homes insurance scheme which will be charged to the Insurance Fund. Whilst about 6.000 additional homes will come under the scheme during the year, it is expected that there will be a reduction in salary costs as a result of economies effected with the progressive conversion of insurance accounting operations to automatic data processing procedures.
Senator Wright’s second question was in relation to amounts to be received from war service homes purchasers and borrowers in respect of technical and legal services. This item consists mainly of the salary costs included in technical fees which war service homes applicants will be charged for the preparation of plans and specifications, valuations and reviews of plans etc. by the Department’s architects, draftsmen and other technical officers. It also includes a small component representing administrative expenses incurred by the Department in ensuring that each war service home applicant receives a good title to his property. The reduction in the amount estimated to be recovered for these services during 1965-66 is due to a steady decline in building activities and a reduction in the number of building contracts to be let.
The prime aim of the housing loans insurance scheme is to assist prospective home owners to obtain larger high ratio loans at reasonable rates of interest against the security of first mortgages. The aim is to reduce the number of creditworthy persons wishing to borrow, buy or build their own homes who must seek second mortgage finance. The offer of insurance is to encourage lenders to meet the full borrowing needs of their customers by means of a single loan secured on a first mortgage. If the Corporation were to insure second mortgage loans obtained to buy or build a home, this would not only discourage lenders from promoting the principal objective of the scheme but also run counter to it. Eligible ex-servicemen seeking to own their own homes benefit from the offer of housing loans at a concessional rate of interest and the many services which may be provided under the War Service Homes Act. The extension of these benefits is a matter to be considered within the context of this legislation, which is being reviewed by the Government.
.- Item 04, of subdivision 2 of Division No. 260 relates to payments made to the Postmaster-General’s Department for collection of repayments. Can the Minister explain how this works? I take it that the Postmaster-General becomes an agent. Does he work on a commission basis? If he does not how otherwise are these charges calculated?
– The amount represents commission payable to the Postmaster-General’s Department for the collection of repayments by war service homes purchasers and borrowers at official and non-official post offices in all States other than Western Australia. The charge for Western Australia is included in the next item - Payments to the State Housing Commission of Western Australia in respect of the provision of war service homes. The extent of the commitments under this item is directly related to the amount of instalment payments made at post offices, and it is estimated that total receipts will increase from £30.4 million in 1964-65 to £33.4 million for the current financial year.
Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania) (12.34]. - I should like to be clear with regard to the matter that I previously raised with the Minister. He said that the policy was being reviewed. I understand that statement to mean that the Government has under consideration a problem that has arisen. I describe it in this way. By giving housing loans insurance to a civilian first mortgagee for an upper amount - say £6,000 - we are relatively depreciating the advantage that was formerly available to the applicant for war service homes finance on the special basis that he had earned by reason of his war service. This is by restricting the amount that is available to him by first mortgage to £3,500 or £3,750 and then prohibiting him from taking a second mortgage except with the consent of the Commissioner. I submit that it is quite obvious that the impact of the insurance scheme, civilianwise, on the war service homes scheme discounts the advantage which we had previously provided specially for applicants for war service homes. That is my problem. Am I correct in understanding the Minister to say that that position is being reviewed?
– That is so.
Proposed expenditure and proposed provision noted.
Department of National Development
Proposed expenditure, £14,479,000.
Proposed provision, £14,595,000.
.- I wish to deal with Division No. 351, relating to the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, for which an appropriation of £4,140,000 is sought. I ask you, Mr. Chairman, to keep that sum in mind while I deal with a few matters. We know the importance of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission but, because it is a commission, we are not furnished with particulars relating to the salaries paid to its officers. That is not an oversight. It is held that, because this is a commission, we are not entitled to the information. It is very probable that that is a convenient situation for the Atomic Energy Commission. In 1964 several of the Commission’s officers went overseas, to California, to investigate a certain matter of importance to the Commonwealth - that is, nuclear explosion technology and its relevance to Australia. No doubt the Commonwealth had to foot the bill for their sojourn in California. On their return they furnished a report on the matter. The report is entitled: “ Peaceful uses of nuclear explosives - An evaluation for Australian purposes of proposed engineering and mining applications “.
I am one who has read this report, but I am fairly confident that very few other honorable senators have read it, because no copy was furnished to this Parliament. I was unable to obtain a copy from the Parliamentary Library and was forced to ask the Minister representing the Minister for National Development a question about the report. In the Minister’s reply, I was told that I could obtain a copy of the report from the Australian Atomic Energy Commission in Sydney. I think that was a discourtesy on the part of the Minister for National Development and that he should have forwarded me a copy. He should not have compelled me, after asking a question, to make application to the Commission for a copy of the report. The report contains a wealth of information for the Australian people. This report outlines the possibility of using nuclear explosions for the purpose of tunnelling through mountains or making a chain of waterholes in a watercourse. Nuclear explosions can be used for the purpose of conserving water. The importance of the conservation of water in the Commonwealth has been illustrated quite clearly to us in the past few months. This is a pretty big document. I have extracted from it some important aspects. I do not want to read the whole of it. The summary evaluation alone runs into six pages. I would like to have that summary evaluation incorporated in “ Hansard “. I will just outline one point it makes -
As a large dry continent with little topographical relief and a poorly indented coastline, Australia is vitally concerned with problems of water conservation, internal communications, and shipping access. Thus, the successful development of nuclear engineering and mining techniques could be of assistance in the country’s development, particularly as the economic exploitation of its mineral resources is an important factor in its economy.
This report has not been made available to honorable senators. So, with the concurrence of honorable senators, I incorporate in “ Hansard “ this summary evaluation. It reads -
11.1. Nuclear Explosion Technology - Relevance to Australia.
This report indicates the wide variety of possible applications of nuclear-explosion techniques. In addition to offering the possibility of economically attractive alternatives to conventional techniques for engineering and mining purposes, nuclear explosions may provide a means of exploiting resources at present not recoverable at economic cost and constructing works not considered practicable with current technologies.
The effort that the U.S.A.E.C. is directing to the development of nuclear-explosion technology could well be justified by the realization of even one of the envisaged applications. The development of a practicable method of “in situ” retorting of oil shales, for instance, would constitute a major contribution to world resources. Efforts to develop the technology should not be seen simply as a possible contribution to mammoth works which might be contemplated some generations hence, but rather as a promising approach to a possible, wide-spread application of nuclearexplosion techniques to problems of the type and scale of our own time.
The substantial basic costs associated with nuclear operations will inevitably restrict nuclear excavation and rock breaking techniques to largescale works. Nevertheless, it would appear that these techniques may, in due course, compete with conventional techniques for the excavation and rock breaking components of projects towards the upper end of the size range of current Australian large-scale developmental works.
As a large dry continent with little topographic relief and a poorly indented coastline, Australia is vitally concerned with problems of water conservation, internal communications, and shipping access. Thus, the successful development of nuclear engineering and mining techniques could be of assistance in the country’s development, particularly as the economic exploitation of its mineral resources is an important factor in it’s economy.
Australia is well placed to exploit applications of nuclear explosions. In many areas where major works might be contemplated the population density is extremely low and safety considerations would not rule out the use of nuclear explosives or render projects uneconomic because of the cost of damage. Further, apart from the manufacture of the necessary nuclear devices, Australia has the resources of technologists, the engineering capacity, and the financial and management skills needed to carry out major projects involving the use of nuclear explosives. Moreover, the existence of a wide spectrum of scientific and technological organizations within Australia would provide support in depth for the various specialist studies: ecology, meteorology, radiation protection, etc., on which nuclear technology places unique emphasis. 11.2 Present Status 11.2.1 Safety
A considerable body of experience relating to the safety hazards of both contained and cratering explosions has been built up within the Plowshare programme. In all safety areas there is now a capability for predicting broadly the hazardous effects to be expected from a large detonation. Subject to acceptance of appropriate temporary evacuation and radiological surveillance, detonations can be planned on a basis that will avoid any physical injuries or radiation exposures in excess of accepted limits. The hazards are thus evaluable in terms of economic (material damage, loss of use) and social (evacuation) consequences.
The economic and social consequences of an explosion are directly dependent upon the proximity of population to the explosion, population density, and on the type of activities (industry, agriculture) conducted in the area. Whether an explosion is acceptable at a particular location in the light of the population distribution will be determined by such factors as the yield and type of the devices to be detonated, the emplacement design, the meteorology of the location, the nature of the medium, and the geological environment.
Reviewing first contained explosions, predictive capability is sufficient to define for a particular yield in any medium with favourable geological structure, a depth below which the probability of venting is negligible. Explosions above that depth could only be tolerated in areas in which a low population density permitted appropriate evacuation in the event ofventing. Although all studies to date suggest that groundwater contamination would not extend very far from the crater, caution would undoubtedly demand that the detonation point be at least several miles from groundwater draw-off points.
Although air blast would be suppressed, ground shock would be a major consideration. Some indication of the range beyond which ground shock would cause only trivial damage is given in Table 4.3 for a particular geological environment. The amount of ground shock transmitted is largely dependent on the geological conditions but, subject to the assembly of comprehensive geological information, the range beyond which only minimal damage would occur can be estimated with an uncertainty of some 40 per cent. However, the information available on structural response to ground shock is inadequate to allow accurate assessments of the structural damage which might occur inside the minimal damage limit.
With cratering shots there is a substantial fallout hazard which must be minimized by firing only when a continuance of favourable weather conditions can be relied upon. Subject to the acceptance of the temporary (hours to days) evacuation of persons residing downwind in the possible fallout sector within a distance of several tens of miles from ground zero, predictive capability is sufficient to ensure the limitation of radiation exposures to allowable levels. Persons living in the zone of lesser fallout, up to some tens of miles beyond the area that has to be temporarily evacuated, would be required to stay indoors during the period of cloud passage to minimize inhalation intake and cloud exposure.
The possible contamination of pasture and, to a much lesser extent, of crops, could be of concern out to a distance of some hundreds of miles downwind; however, with appropriate weather surveillance and contamination checks on agricultural produce, unexpected contamination could be detected in time to take the relatively simple measures required to limit human uptake.
Ground shock from .watering explosions is somewhat less than for contained explosions of equivalent yield. The close-in air blast hazard from a cratering shot extends in all directions buf has its greatest range of effect downwind. Under normal atmospheric conditions the downwind range of minimal close-in air blast hazard is much less than that for maximum allowable radiation exposure. The focusing of air blast waves by wind structures can result in local overpressures likely to cause substantial window damage at distances out to the order of 100 miles. Beyond that distance, except under very unfavourable meteorological conditions, air blast focusing effects have mainly a nuisance value. Detonations can be scheduled when meteorological conditions are such that long-range effects are minimal or are directed to uninhabited areas, but the predictive capability to exploit this procedure .fully is still limited. 11.2.2 Engineering Feasibility
The experimental and theoretical studies of the Plowshare programme have established the broad outline of a proposed technology for the application of nuclear explosions to engineering and mining projects. There is a general recognition amongst those associated with the programme that this technology is at an early stage of development and includes far too many areas of uncertainty to allow immediate widespread application. Nevertheless, the results of all studies made to date give confidence that with further development, nuclear techniques may assume a significant, if limited, role in the construction of major engineering works and the exploitation of mineral resources.
Plowshare studies to date have been limited to a small number of nuclear detonations in a very restricted range of media and much of the technology rests on extrapolations of data from chemical explosions. Partly for this reason, many important primary effects of both cratering and contained explosions, such as size and shape of the resulting excavation or chimney and the precise nature of the damage to a bounding medium, cannot be predicted with a degree of accuracy even approaching that commonly accepted as necessary in conventional engineering practice. Experience of the post-shot behaviour of cavities and craters, under the variety of conditions likely to be encountered in engineering and mining applications, is also limited.
The significance of these uncertainties depends upon the precise nature of the project under consideration. In some applications doubts as to the permanency of the construction without prohibitive finishing costs could rule out completely the possibility of nuclear methods being employed. In others, the margin of saving that may be achieved by nuclear excavation or breaking may be inadequate to cover the remedial costs which might be necessary as a consequence of inability to predict correctly the effects of the nuclear detonations.
Various possible engineering and mining applications of nuclear explosions have been reviewed in general terms in Section 2. On investigations to date there is a good prospect that some of them will be realized in the near future. Nevertheless, the major difficulties encountered in seeking to use the heat of nuclear explosions for power generation serve as a reminder that several critical factors affecting the prospects for success of some of the proposed applications are largely matters of speculation at this stage.
The applicability of current nuclear-explosion technology to particular constructional applications can be broadly evaluated according to the degree of engineering precision required in the finished work. Although nuclear methods give promise of ultimately being practical alternatives to conventional methods in the construction of precisely engineered structures such as reservoirs, limitations in predictive capability make it unlikely that they could be successfully used in such works in the near future except in very special situations. On the other hand, in the range of less sophisticated engineering applications where the final work is basically “rough finished”, such as the removal of navigation hazards and the construction of breakwaters, nuclear methods could probably be successfully employed on some projects even on the basis of the current technology.
Between these extremes lies a range of applications, such as the construction of harbours, canals, and cuttings, which should be quite feasible by. nuclear methods within a few years, provided that the developmental work of the Plowshare programme is not seriously inhibited by the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and that a large measure of practical engineering experience is brought to bear on the problems involved.
Much the same spectrum applies to mining applications. The current technology is probably adequate to allow the successful application of nuclear rock breaking methods to some quarrying operations for works requiring very large amounts of broken rock. Stripping and block caving by nuclear methods may be feasible in a limited number of situations in the near future. The realization of the more sophisticated mining applications, such as “in situ” retorting of oil shales, is much more distant. These generalizations must necessarily be qualified by the observation that valid comparisons require realistic evaluations which can only be made by detailed engineering analysis and costing for the conditions of a particular site. 11.3 Future Programme
In keeping with its general policy the U.S.A.E.C. is conducting its Plowshare programme on a broad scientific and technological front. While the programme stresses the development of a technology for the early application of nuclear explosives there is a recognition that nuclear-explosion phenomena constitute a field of great scientific interest and it is in the best interests of the technology that the subject be studied in the scientific depth.
The programme has made good progress in providing the type of information needed to make nuclear explosions for engineering purposes practicable in terms of safety, confidence in results that will be obtained, and economy. Subject to any limitations imposed by the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, much more progress should be made in the next few years. In particular, the experimental programme planned for the next five years should achieve many refinements in the techniques for designing nuclear cratering excavations, both for single and multiple detonations, over a wide range of yields and in a variety of media and terrains. Nevertheless, the mission considers that it is unreasonable to expect that Plowshare can, within its own limited experimental programme, develop a precisely defined engineering technology of widespread applicability. In a field in which empiricism is an essential ingredient, the accomplishment of this goal will depend as much on the amassing of a large body of experience from applications of the technique as on the research results of the Plowshare programme. lt has already been pointed out that the significance attaching to particular deficiencies in nuclear explosion technology depends upon the precise nature and conditions of the project under consideration. Over the next few years detailed investigation could possibly reveal a number of projected developmental schemes for which nuclear methods of construction will offer a feasible alternative on the basis of the then current technology. It will be in the overall interests of the early and sound development of nuclear engineering and mining techniques that as many of these projects as possible be uncovered and, where appropriate, undertaken by nuclear methods. In this way additional experimental results would be obtained and a body of relevant practical experience from the conventional engineering and mining fields would be brought to bear on the problems of the technology.
In the safety area, refinements in ability to predict ground shock and air blast hazards can be expected from Plowshare studies over the next few years, particularly in problems of structural response and intermediate and long-range blast focussing. Greater precision in predicting structural damage from ground shock will allow a reduction in the margin which must be included in calculations of range of effect to cover possible uncertainties. Improved ability to predict intermediate and long-range air blast damage will allow more effective application of the procedure of scheduling detonations for meteorological corrditions such that long-range effects are minimal or are directed to uninhabited areas. Furtherimprovements in device technology will result in smaller fission product releases, with consequent reductions in the size of temporary exclusion areas. A fuller understanding of base surge and cloud formation and of radioactivity transport and deposition mechanisms will give greater confidence in fallout predictions. Finally there will be an increased understanding of fractionation mechanisms leading to the preferential deposition of radionuclides and their possible entry to food chains involving man.
Progress towards the development of an effective nuclear explosion technology is likely to be made slowly but steadily over the next few years. The successful application of nuclear explosion techniques could make an important contribution to the development of productivity and the exploitation of natural resources.
The authors wish to record their appreciation of the generous manner in which they were received by the U.S.A.E.C., its contractors, and other U.S. Government agencies. Without exception everyone with whom they came into contact extended them every possible courtesy and strove to make all relevant information available. At all times, the authors felt that the views expressed to them were objective and given in good faith. They sincerely wish everyone associated with the programme every success in their endeavours.
I move on to another matter. I refer to the annual report of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. I wanted to find, for my own information, the class of officer employed by the Commission. I wanted to see what salaries were being paid. I found that I could not obtain this information in any document which has been placed before us. We are told that the appropriation for salaries and payments in the nature of salaries is £1,917,963. But we are not furnished with any particulars relating to the number of officers or the salaries which are being paid to them. I pose this question: Is this good enough for the Parliament of the Commonwealth which is voting money to be spent by the Commission and is not being furnished with positive and detailed information as to how that money is to be spent?
– Ask for the details.
– I do not care whether or not the Minister gives them to me. I want the information furnished that all honorable senators, in carrying out their normal duties, can see by turning up a document what the details are.
I come to another matter. This should not be allowed in any circumstances to pass by the Committee today. I am quoting now from Appendix B, financial accounts, Australian Atomic Energy Commission, statement of net expenditure for the year ended 30th June 1965. There are several particulars under the heading “ Research “. These headings include: “ Salaries and payments in the nature of salary, Stores and Materials, Power, Water and Supplies, Grants in aid of Research, and Studentships and Scholarships.” Then I come to this item: “ Incidental expenses - £404,917 17s. 5d.” Not one detail is submitted to show what this item of incidental expenses covers. Is the Committee going to tolerate that? If we tolerate it today, goodness me, in the future under one item headed incidental expenses could bc the expenditure of a couple of million pounds.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended for lunch, I was about to point out that the Australian Atomic Energy Commission should not expect honorable senators to allow its financial statement to be examined without some comment being made upon it, especially when included in it is an item “Incidental expenses - £404,917 17s. 5d.” as part of a total net operating expenditure of £3,302,000. The ratio of that item to the total is far too great to be allowed to pass without comment. I realise that I am quoting from the annual report of the Commission, but there is nothing whatever in the particulars of proposed expenditure for the service of the year ending on 30th June 1966, which provides an explanation. We cannot do anything about the annual report that has been furnished to us. What I am pointing out is that in the main document which we are fully authorised to examine, and which we are now considering, the same sort of entry appears. I repeat that the Commission is expecting too much of honorable senators if it expects them to accept without some adverse comment a mere reference to incidental expenses amounting to nearly £500,000 out of a net operating expenditure of less than £4,000,000. The Commission should be required to have some respect for the Parliament of the Commonwealth and to submit a statement showing in detail each element of the item “ Incidental expenses “.
– I intervene at this point because I should not like this debate to develop without our clearing the lines a little in relation to the matter of substance that has been raised by Senator Benn. The first point I make is that, as its name indicates, the organisation in question is a commission. One needs to go back to the Act which established this body to ascertain its requirements.
When one looks at the estimates for the Department of National Development, om sees that only a single line entry is included for the Joint Coal Board. If one looks at the Second Schedule to the Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1965-66, which we have been considering as Document B, one notes that only a single line entry appears in respect of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority.
As Senator Benn has indicated, the annual report of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission has been presented to the Parliament. In fact, it was tabled on 28th September last. Thereafter it was competent for any honorable senator, if he were so inclined, to use the forms of the Senate to initiate a debate on the report of the Commission. He could have moved “That the Senate take note of the report “ or “ That the paper be printed “.
– But equally so, forms are immediately exercisable to preclude debate on such a motion.
– I ask the honorable senator to let me make my point.
– Let us have something of substance.
– It is a matter of judgment. A lot of submissions are made by the honorable senator that I do not think contain much substance. If the honorable senator wants it that way, that is the way he will get it. If one wants to give it, one must be prepared to take it. If the honorable senator wants to suggest that I am saying something that is not of any substance, then I say that there is a tremendous lot that comes from him from time to time that is not of any substance. As I said earlier, in accordance with the statutory requirements, the report of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission was presented on 28 th September last. I repeat that it was competent for any honorable senator to use the forms of the Senate, not necessarily on the day on which the report was presented, to initiate a debate on that report. Let us pass from that to what I think is a more relevant point.
I invite honorable senators, including Senator Benn, to look at the Budget Papers that have been presented. If they turn to the document “ Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure for the Year ending 30th June, 1966”, they will find in a table at page 29 details of estimated expenditure for the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. I suggest that in this table lies the answer to the query that the honorable senator has raised. Even though the various items included in the sum of approximately £400,000 to which the honorable senator referred are not shown as particulars of the proposed expenditure of £4,140,000 that we are now considering, many of those details are to be found in Table No. 9 at page 29 of the document to which I referred a moment ago. It is proper that we should understand the details of the papers that come before us, but in my view the explanation I have put forward answers the query which very properly has been raised.
– I shall be brief in what I have to say. I invite the attention of honorable senators to Division No. 346. It will be noted that against the total of the proposed provision for administrative expenses there appears a reference to a footnote. The sum shown as the total for administrative expenses is £1,051,000, but the amounts shown in the footnote total £1,057,000. It seems that somewhere along the line a sum of £6,000 has been lost. That calls for some explanation, because there is supposed to be some exactitude in these matters. I ask the Minister to give me some information on this point.
In Division No. 345 provision is made for the proposed expenditure of £5,700,000 as subsidy for the search for oil. The way in which the Government is handling the subsidy for the search for oil leaves a lot to be desired. Instructions given by the Minister for National Development provide that the subsidy is not to be paid for any type of drilling within 20 miles of an oil or gas strike. But within that radius may be an area that could determine whether an oil producing region existed. As I said, the oil companies are not entitled to a subsidy on exploratory operations within this region. If the Government is sincere - I believe that it is - in its efforts to find a commercial oil producing area in Australia in order to relieve us of the expenditure of quite a large sum overseas, it should examine this problem.
I would welcome a statement on this matter because, as the Minister knows, over a number of years there has been a considerable oil search programme going on in Western Australia, a considerable amount of money has been spent by private enterprise in an endeavour to find oil, and there has been a considerable amount of public money spent by way of subsidies from which the country as a whole reaps a large benefit if oil is found. But the public money that is spent does not attract interest for the public from any subsequent oil finds. Senator Scott asked a little while ago whether greater publicity could be given to the taxation rebates that are allowed on investment in oil search companies to encourage people to invest in these companies. If public money is to be used in this way, it is time that the public had a greater interest than the purely national interest in oil finds.
The next matter to which I refer deals with Division No. 345, sub-division 2, item 04, office services. 1 do not know what the office services are. I would like the Minister to tell me what they are. It is interesting to note that the appropriation for office services last year was £19,000 and that the expenditure was £16,964. The appropriation for 1965-66 is £6,400. First I would like the Minister to tell me what the office services are, and then to explain why there has been a large decrease in the appropriation for this financial year.
The next item with which I wish to deal refers to contract mapping. Recently we had a debate in this chamber concerning national development, particularly northern development, and many of the tilings that are being done by the Department of National Development were wheeled up as being activities of the Northern Division of the Department. Mapping was one of the matters that was fairly widely canvassed. At that time we were told that the work of mapping Australia was drawing to a close; that, in fact, most of it had been done and that there was only the laboratory work left to be done. Yet we find this year that an amount of £140,000 is appropriated for this particular purpose.
I turn now to the item dealing with hydrographic surveys. One of the difficulties that shipping experiences in Australian waters, particularly along the northern coast of Australia, arises from the fact that very little is known about the waters and the obstructions in them. Many of the charts date back to before the turn of the century. When Senator Gorton was Minister for the Navy he frequently told us that the Government would be carrying out hydrographic surveys. In the very near future intensive shipping operations will be going on in the waters along the northern coastline of Australia, from Gape York in Queensland to Pilbara in Western Australia. Yet we find that there was no appropriation last year for hydrographic surveys, although there was expenditure of £12,956. This year there is an appropriation of £5,000 for this important work. But £5,000 would not keep a ship at sea doing this kind of work for more than four or five weeks. I urge the Government to provide up to date charts for these areas.
Senator Benn drew attention to the lack of detail in respect of the item dealing with the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. I have not examined the table to which the Minister referred us but I draw his attention to the division in the estimates dealing with the Joint Coal Board. All that is shown regarding this division are the words “ For expenditure under the Coal Industry Act” and the amount to be appropriated is £216,000. Those words could mean anything. As Senator Benn pointed out in respect of the item dealing with the Atomic Energy Commission, we are entitled to a little more information as to how money will be spent than the bald statement that a certain amount of money will be spent.
I note in respect of Division No. 342, which deals with the Northern Division of the Department of National Development, that an amount of £73,500 is to be spent on salaries and payments in the nature of salary. This important division of the Department has a salary bill, including extra duty pay and salaries and payments for temporary and casual employees, of only £73,500. The Northern Division has a staff of 32 officers. When we are dealing with a development authority, it is quite meaningless for us to be given a list of the persons employed showing that they consist of one senior assistant secretary, two assistant secretaries and 29 other officers. The officers comprise senior project officers - the estimates do not show how many there are - project officers, a chief investigation officer - apparently there is only one investigation officer for the whole of this large area which is under the control of the Division - senior research officers and research officers. Although there are only 29 officers, there are senior project officers over an undisclosed number of project officers and senior research officers over an undisclosed number of research officers. This leads one to believe that there are more than one or two senior project officers and senior research officers. But no details are given in respect of this matter. The Department of National Development is one of the most important departments with which this Parliament has to deal, lt has been the subject of controversy on several occasions during the year. Yet the only information we are given in relation to the Northern Division is that it has a staff of 32 officers. I would like more information on this matter.
– I direct the Minister’s attention to the item in the estimates dealing with the Joint Coal Board. The Minister may say that my first query concerns a matter of policy, but he may have some personal views on it. If he has, I would like him to express them. As Minister for National Development, Senator Sir William Spooner was working towards obtaining approval to establish a fuel policy in Australia. He was behind the drive for coal exports and in his term of office the Joint Coal Board and the owners of the mines gained extensive markets in Japan. Only the other day Sir Edward Warren returned from Japan and announced the signing of a contract for the sale of five million tons of coal over five years for use by what he called the buoyant steel industry in Japan. On the face of it, that looks to be very good, because coal development has gone on apace.
Senator Sir William Spooner always had in the back of his mind the thought that certain dangers lie in exports, particularly when the development of coal exports and the imports of oil had the effect of closing local mines and taking from coal a share of the fuel market in Australia, thus throwing the coal industry on to dependence on exports. Senator Sir William Spooner saw dangers in this procedure. He supported the Joint Coal Board in its appearances before the Tariff Board, which may or may not be the correct body to decide upon the protection of the coal industry. Senator Sir William Spooner and the Government supported the officers of the Joint Coal Board in appearances before the Tariff Board to state a case for protection of the coal industry against imports and overproduction of oil. The Minister of that time also had in view the object of a fuel board. He was sympathetic towards that idea and I know that he was unhappy when the Government would not agree to establish such a board to examine overall the coal industry, hydraulic sources of power, and atomic energy.
I ask the Minister whether the Government intends to pursue the line that was being followed by Senator Sir William Spooner, or whether it has decided to leave the decision of the Tariff Board unchanged so that oil may take from the coal industry its share of the Australian fuel market. I believe that is what is happening. The question arises of whether we have sufficient reserves of coking coal to allow us to export it indiscriminately to the buoyant Japanese steel industry. There is plenty of evidence that to maintain our steel production we are using all sorts of mixtures of coals to obtain the right product for our own use in steel production. Has the Joint Coal Board or the Bureau of Mineral Resources, or whichever party is responsible, any idea of the amount of coking coal available in Australia for Australian industry? I have my doubts that this knowledge has been obtained. I believe that the boring and mapping programmes are not as extensive as they should be. That is my understanding of the situation. Could the Minister obtain from officers of the Department advice on whether the authorities have yet gained any knowledge of the amount of hard coking coal available in Australia? I impress on the Minister that I am inquiring about hard coking coal. I believe that supplies of soft coking coal are available but supplies of hard coking coal are limited. That is the situation at a time when we are doing nothing to protect the coal industry against the inroads being made by oil.
– In answering Senator Ormonde’s queries, I must admit that I can deal with them only in a general way at the moment. I think the honorable senator would be the first to recognise that dramatic development has occurred in the export of coal. Last week, in addition to the announcement by Sir Edward Warren on his return from Japan, there were reports of developments in Queensland - I think, at Blackwater. During the last six months dramatic developments have taken place in coal exports, notably to Japan. Overseas balances will be established for Australia. I would be amazed to find that the Joint Coal Board has not conducted surveys to establish our coal resources. I believe that Senator Ormonde would have known, as an officer of the Joint Coal Board at one stage, that it is very elementary that that authority should conduct a survey to determine the extent of future supplies, not only of coking coal, but of all types of coal, to be available for several hundred years.
Senator Ormonde referred to a fuel policy. Members of the Committee will remember that recently the Commonwealth Government dealt with the taking up of Australian crude oil, with a preferential duty to ensure that the oil companies take up the supplies of Australian crude oil for refining purposes. I may be able to answer in more detail in a few moments, but in the broad, the Government’s policy is not to prejudice the coal industry. Australia has vast coal resources and we are now in an era of oil discovery. The two industries are complementary in the sense that they both must be developed. In fairness to Sir William Spooner, I do not think that while he was Minister for National Development there was any suggestion that he favoured the development of one side of the fuel industry at the expense of the other side.
– He favoured an overall fuel policy.
– I believe we have an overall fuel policy. Because of the great co-operation received from the private sector of the community, dramatic developments have occurred in the winning and export of coal. It is equally true to say that the Government, by the encouragement of oil search and through its legislative programme, has ensured the taking up of Australian crude oil supplies so that the industry will be developed.
Senator Cant raised at least a dozen questions of interest. Probably I shall miss some of them. The honorable senator referred to the item relating to office services for the Bureau of Mineral Resources, for which an appropriation of £6,400 has been made. Provision is made under this item for the cost of fuel, light and power and water charges, cleaning of departmental premises and minor new works and repairs and maintenance. From the beginning of 1965-66, the Department of the Interior will be responsible for the cost of office services for Canberra buildings. Of the appropriation of £6,400, £1,650 is for office cleaning; £3,400 is for fuel, light, power and water; and £1,350 is for repairs, maintenance and minor works.
Breaking up the allocation for office cleaning, £1,200 is required for cleaning the workshops and laboratories at Footscray up to the time they are vacated. An amount of £450 is required for cleaning the Darwin offices and laboratory for a full year. Turning to fuel, light, power and water, £700 has been included for these services at the Footscray laboratory and workshops up to the time the area is vacated. Provision for the full year has been made for the observatories - ‘Melbourne, £600; Mundaring, £450; and Port Moresby, £1,000. There is £650 for the Darwin office and laboratory.
I think Senator Cant also referred to an allocation of £216,000 for expenditure by the Joint Coal Board under the Coal Industry Act. My information is that provision is made under this item for the Commonwealth’s contribution towards expenditure by the Joint Coal Board under the Coal Industry Act. Expenditure is recorded by the Board in three main accounts - administration, research and investigation, and welfare fund. The Board allocates portion of the administration costs to other accounts and funds and the balance of these costs is met from equal contributions made by the Commonwealth and the State of New South Wales. The full costs of research and investigation is met by the Commonwealth. Equal contributions to the costs of welfare are made by the Commonwealth and the State of New South Wales.
A comparison of the 1965-66 estimate with expenditure in 1964-65 shows that on the administration account the estimate for this year is £100,000 compared with expen diture last year of £100,500. In relation to research and investigation, the estimate for this year is £60,000 and expenditure last year was £58,000. The estimate for the welfare fund this year is £50.000 and expenditure last year was £50,000. The amount involved remained static. I point out to honorable senators that details of the estimate, and the explanatory notes, have been provided by the Joint Coal Board.
Senator Cant referred also to the Division of National Mapping, I have some general notes which may be of interest to the honorable senator, but I do not want to go into too much detail. Taking first aerial photography, an area of approximately 35,000 square miles will be photographed in the Gulf of Carpentaria district. The Queensland Government takes an active interest in this project for future development. A very intensive effort is being made in New Guinea to obtain urgently aerial photographs. Three aircraft will be on stand-by for the next four months. As to surveys, the main framework of a national geodetic survey of Australia will be completed and values published during this year. Airborne surveys continue to be required for map making at an increased rate.
Turning to mapping, good progress is being made towards completion of the 1:250,000 scale preliminary map of Australia - about four miles to one inch. It is expected that the basic compilation work will be completed in 1967. Australia has an obligation for mapping for aeronautical purposes under the terms of the International Civil Aviation Organisation Agreement. This work will continue during 1965-66. Mapping is also proceeding in Antarctica. There is also mapping at the scale of 1:100,000. The Minister for National Development recently issued a statement that his Department will organise and engage upon an accelerated topographical mapping programme to complete coverage of Australia at the scale of 1:100,000 - about 1.6 miles to one inch - by the end of 1975. Preliminary plans for the execution of this work are now being advanced. The Department of National Development, with a substantial contribution from the Royal Australian Survey Corps and assistance from the States and private contractors, expects to be able’ to have this programme operative by the end of this financial year. That general information may be of special interest to the honorable senators.
I am not in a position at this point to make any comment on the arguments raised by the honorable senator on the matter of subsidising oil search in an area 20 miles from a gas or oil strike. I point out that he expressed a point of view which is contrary to the prevailing practice. I will direct the attention of the Minister for National Development to the honorable senator’s remarks.
.- Despite a somewhat irritable introduction, I am pleased that the Minister was able to lay before the Committee material which indicates to some extent the general nature of the incidental expenditure by the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, to which Senator Benn referred. I am pleased that the Minister was able to give us the substance of that matter. Undeterred by his statement that he has not yet been able to discern matters of substance coming from me, I propose to raise a matter which may occupy his consideration for a few minutes.
I want to be enlightened on what to me are somewhat confusing accounts, although I recognise that over the last few years they have been simplified to an extent. I want to know what amount we are considering allocating to permit continuation of the work on the Snowy Mountains project. Reference was made to some items but I would like to have the complete picture. Document B indicates an allocation this year of £13.7 million. Does that include the £8 million that I find referred to in proposed expenditure from loan funds? Will the Authority receive £13.17 million out of revenue plus £8 million out of loan funds? Whether the amount be £13 million or £21 million, it warrants serious scrutiny by this Committee of the Senate. Will the Minister indicate to the Senate which part of the Snowy Mountains project will benefit by this expenditure?
I direct his attention to two aspects of this matter. One is that we have committed this project to the immediate responsibility of an independent authority. Therefore we make a total amount available which the body spends according to its own independent judgment. Those who framed the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Power Act allow the Authority to spend from year to year the annual appropriations made available by this Parliament. On at least two and perhaps three, occasions I have directed attention to the fact that in the case of a continuing project such as this it would be much more consonant with parliamentary responsibility if provisions in some of the State statutes were imported into the Commonwealth legislation. I have in mind particularly the Tasmanian Hydro-electric Act, by which a continuing commission is allowed to carry out huge hydro-electric development works in Tasmania. These works are huge in comparison with any other similar work in the Commonwealth.
The Act provides that wherever a new project is to ‘be undertaken by the Commission, a description of that project and its engineering essentials, an estimate of the expenditure and an estimate of the return and the general economic effect upon the hydro-electric system of Tasmania, are to be put before the Parliament in the form of a submission. The approval of both Houses of the Parliament is required before the Commission commences that project.
If that procedure were adopted in relation to the Snowy Mountains Authority, this Parliament would be kept in constant touch with the development of the scheme and would have a much better understanding both of the achievements of the Authority and of its own responsibilities. I know that within the last 12 months, the Authority has been good enough and the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) has been thoughtful enough to give members of the Parliament an opportunity to visit the scheme. That is one of the most valuable means of keeping abreast of its progress. But, in a parliamentary sense, I believe that this other means of dovetailing the powers of the Authority into the responsibilities of the Parliament, by requiring parliamentary authorisation of each project, would be of great benefit to the scheme.
So far as I know, we can speak of the Snowy Mountains scheme completely uncritically because of the genius and sterling guidance of Sir William Hudson, whose spirit has been imparted to every member of the staff with whom I have come in contact. We have had nothing but recurring pride in the efficiency and expedition with which the scheme has been carried on. I think Sir William Hudson’s term as
Commissioner has been extended on two occasions. I am not in any way disparaging in anticipation his successor. But, the Parliament, if it is to discharge its responsibilities, should provide the mechanism whereby we may be kept in touch with the object of the expenditure that we authorise on behalf of the people. In my submission, the precedent to which I have called attention from time to time represents an excellent way in which the Parliament can discharge its responsibilities. 1 hope that the Minister representing the Minister for National Development will give us a statement of the actual amount of money that is being appropriated this year and a statement of the substantial works that are to be entered upon for the first time and the other works that are to be completed or carried to a further stage of development with the aid of that money. I trust, too, that my remarks will prompt him to say that it is proper that a procedure such as I have suggested should be considered by the Government in relation to matters of this sort.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister for National Development a question in connection with the Northern Division. My question relates to a subject that has been canvassed in debate and by questions, namely, the provision of financial assistance to South Australia for the construction of beef roads in the northern part of that State. I understand that applications have been made by the South Australian Government in the past and that an application is currently before the Commonwealth Government for consideration. I am informed that an investigation was made recently by an officer of the Northern Division - I think it was a Mr. Vaughan Davies - who toured the northern part of the State. I am not sure whether he is a research officer, a projects officer or an investigations officer. He had members of the South Australian Pastoral Board with him. I ask the Minister whether his inspections were associated with the South Australian Government’s applications for financial assistance in bringing roads up to the standard necessary for the transportation of beef cattle. If they were, can the Minister tell me about the reports and the progress . of the applications?
– Before lunch I referred to the thirteenth annual report of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. I pointed out that last year £404,917 was spent on incidental expenses. The Minister, in replying to me on that matter, pointed out that the annual report was presented to the Parliament some months ago and that I could have used the forms of the Parliament in order to obtain some enlightenment on the particulars of that huge sum of money. No doubt I could have done that. Had 1 had the Budget Papers, I also could have used the forms of the Parliament to obtain information on each item contained in them. How absurd the Minister’s reply was. I am now using the forms of the Parliament in seeking this information.
As the Minister raised the matter of information being made available in Table No. 9 in the Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure, in relation to the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, I propose to refer to it. Had I quoted from this document before I would have been out of order; but, as the Minister referred me to it, I propose to say something about its contents. When we examine it we arrive at the same blind alley in respect of vague details of expenditures. We find that the general expenses of the Head Office are estimated to be £49,500. The estimated general expenses of the Research Establishment are £173,000. The Commission is asking the Parliament to approve its spending £222,500 on general expenses without giving us any details at all of that expenditure. Look at its record. Last year it spent £227,000 under the heading of general expenses.
What I am complaining about is the vagueness and the inadequate information in the estimates. It appears to me, as I stand here, that the view of the chief administrative officer of the Commission is that anything at all is sufficient for the Parliament; that the Parliament exists only to pass money so that the Commission may carry out its work during the year. Would anyone say that the Commission’s annual report contains sufficient information to enable members of the Parliament to approve the expenditure of more than £4 million this year? Would the information in the annual report excite any satisfaction in the mind of a member of the Parliament?
Would it excite any enthusiasm about the work of the Atomic Energy Commission at the present time? The Minister should make clearly known to the Commission that its accounts are not satisfactory and that this Parliament requires more information about incidental and general expenses. This will not require the use of very much paper, it will not cost much more, but it will give greater satisfaction to the Parliament. We are accountable, Mr. Temporary Chairman, as you well know, to the people outside who have to provide the funds. If this Parliament is so incompetent as to approve the expenditure of over £400,000 on incidental expenses, without obtaining particulars, it is of no use for us to discuss any other feature of the estimates. We should ask for complete information, especially from an undertaking that is comprised of scientists. You know as well as I do that there is a trend on the part of the scientist to deal only with things that are in his sphere and to look down on us. He regards this Parliament only as an institution to make the funds available. We want more information than is in the annual report, well prepared though it is. We want information to satisfy ourselves that the money has been wisely spent.
Let me refer to a report entitled “ The Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Explosives “, which is described as “An Evaluation for Australian Purposes of Proposed Civil Engineering and Mining Application “. There is in that report information which would be of great value to members of the Australian Country Party who sit on the Government side of the chamber, but they failed to read it because one could not obtain a copy in the Parliamentary Library. I was forced to communicate with the Secretary of this Department at Coogee to obtain the copy which I have in my hand. This morning I succeeded in having incorporated in “ Hansard “ an excerpt from the report. I recommend to all honorable senators that they read that tomorrow or the next day, because it is very interesting indeed. If I had not done so, probably honorable senators would not have any knowledge of the material.
– Is the report a very technical document?
– Not so technical. As a matter of fact, this was the conclusion of the report. It certainly was written not for the typical citizen but for the person who has at heart the requirements of Australia - especially the arid regions - and who is interested in mining, development and the tunnelling of mountains in the conservation of water. Some hope is seen that something can be achieved in these directions by using nuclear explosives.
– Senator Wright reverted to the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority and our little exchange at the outset in relation to the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. As I tried to point out to Senator Benn, the legislation requires the Minister to do certain things, and these have been done. The Budget papers give a more detailed explanation than is possible in an Estimates entry of one line. I should say that the annual report is intended to provide any senator and any other interested person with a comprehensive review of the activities of the Commission, and it is competent for anyone who thinks that the annual report is inadequate to seek further information. I do not cavil with the points that Senator Benn made in that connection. The point that I set out to make was that the various requirements of the relevant statute have been complied with. A similar argument applies in relation to the Snowy Mountains Authority, which was referred to by Senator Wright. I do not know whether the honorable senator noticed in more extensive form as a footnote an explanation of a single line item.
– My eyes need a little consideration. If an explanation of expenditure of £4 million is to go into a footnote, I might as well speak to an officer.
– Be that as it may, I have some other information that I can supply, but there is a detailed explanation in the footnote that I too find I have to struggle to read. The Snowy Mountains Authority will expend this year £13.17 million from Consolidated Revenue and £8 million from loan funds, in all £21.17 million. An amount of £22.85 million was appropriated in 1964-65, including an additional appropriation of £1.2 million. This amount was fully expended. The honorable senator was I think more interested in the type of work being done. I have a fairly comprehensive document from which I can take the substance in order to give the picture, or we may have it incorporated; I do not mind.
These particulars relate to contracts in progress at 1st July 1965. In relation to the contract with the Utah organisation, covering work at Island Bend on the Snowy-Geehi tunnel, and the EucumbeneSnowy tunnel, there will be an expenditure in 1965-66 of £43,000, as against £3.37 million last year. Honorable senators will appreciate that rises and falls depend on the degree of completion of the work. On the Thiess Bros, contract, relating to the same two projects plus the Murray No. 1 pressure tunnel, there is to be an expenditure of £1.2 million this year, as compared with £4.5 million last year. The reduction is due to the stage of work that has been reached. On the Murray No. 1 pressure pipeline there is to be an expenditure of £1.5 million. On the Murray No. 1 power station there is to be an expenditure of £293,000. On the Khancoban Dam and Murray No. 2 excavations, there will be an expenditure of £440,000. On the Jindabyne to Island Bend tunnel, an amount of £1.56 million will be spent. On the Murray No. 2 dam there will be an expenditure of £254,000 and on the Jindabyne dam there will be an expenditure of £1.5 million. An amount of £80,000 will be expended on the Blowering Dam tunnel. An amount of £3.8 million will be expended on work performed by a different contractor at Blowering Dam. This is a significant amount. In the initial stages of this work last year an amount of only £249,000 was expended.
Some contracts have not yet been let. It is estimated that there will be expenditure of £200,000 on the Jindabyne pumping station; £750,000 on the Murray No. 2 dam, tunnel and power station; £250,000 on the Murray No. 2 pressure pipeline; £100,000 on the Jounama Dam; and £42,000 on the Lake Eucumbene floodwater discharge tunnel. An amount of £709,000 is to be held against anticipated claims on current contracts. In all, the estimate this year is £13,220,000, as against an expenditure last year of £14,684,879 on that type of construction work. I hope that information will be of some help to the honorable senator. I would advise him that in the annual report of the Authority there is some quite comprehensive information.
Senator Bishop sought some information about the responsibilities of the Northern Division. I am afraid I cannot be of much help to him in relation to South Australia, which is not considered, by definition, to ‘be in the Northern Division. In Queensland the line of demarcation is at 23 i degrees south latitude. The whole of the Northern Territory is in the Northern Division, as is the part of Western Australia north of 26 degrees south latitude. Financial assistance for beef roads in South Australia would have to be the subject of negotiations between the South Australian Government and the Commonwealth.
In relation to the Marree-Birdsville road, a visit was made by Mr. Davies, Assistant Director of the Northern Division, in connection with the beef roads report, which has been submitted to the Minister and is under consideration. I do not think I need pursue much further the points raised earlier by Senator Benn. He was quite within his rights in raising those points and I was only trying to help by telling him where the information was available.
– I am not quite happy about what the Minister said in relation to coking coal. I think that the Joint Coal Board ought to be able to tell us whether it has surveyed our coking coal resources.
– The Board is concerned only with Victoria and New South Wales.
– That is true.
– There is unlimited coking coal in Queensland.
– If we can get the information I am asking for it will be helpful. At the moment we have no information, and I think that the Board ought to be able to give it.
– I am told that the latest available information on reserves of coking coal is contained at page 143 in Appendix 5, of the Joint Coal Board’s 18th annual report. Will the honorable senator settle for that, or does he want me to read it out to him?
– That is all right.
– The information is available to the honorable senator.
– Is a survey being made now?
– The Board has been giving special attention to this important task. Since the close of the financial year under review it has issued a requisition which will provide comprehensive information on what is known about reserves of coal of all types. In addition, more extensive studies will be required in respect of coal bearing land not yet subject to colliery holdings.
Proposed expenditure and proposed provision noted.
Department of the Interior.
Proposed expenditure, £10,301,000.
Proposed provision, £1,121,000.
Proposed expenditure, £320,000.
Australian Capital Territory.
Proposed expenditure, £9,580,500.
Proposed provision, £22,613,000.
– I will direct my remarks to Division 310, Administration. The submissions I desire to make concern a considerable change in the existing structure of the Department of the Interior. I shall refer to the role that the Commonwealth Government plays in regard to our national parks system and, as a basis of comparison, I shall make an examination of the position in Canada and the United States of America. When we consider this problem it is essential to appreciate that, for geographical reasons, Canada and the United States are much more fortunate than we are, having considerably smaller proportions of arid land. I advocate a more positive role by the Department of the Interior in relation to national parks.
In considering any additional responsibility on the part of the Department of the Interior in this field, it is well to note that the functions of the Wild Life Division of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation here are virtually parallel to the Wild Life Division of the National Resources Department in Canada and the Department of the Interior inthe United States. The current report of the C.S.I.R.O. indicates, at page 81, that the tragedy about all the good work done by that Organisation in the protection of fauna is that it is left to the State fauna departments to decide whether or not they will act on the findings of the Organisation. I think it will be conceded that the State departments have only limited finance with which to carry out work that should be done.
That leads me to ask what role the Commonwealth Government can play. I took the Canadian National Parks Act and, with the aid of my leader, Senator McKenna, I was able, taking advantage of his vast legal knowledge, to conclude that the most positive role the Australian Government could play would be by virtue of section 96 of the Constitution. I visualise the Commonwealth Government virtually assuming a role similar to that of the Canadian Government. Canada has parallel park systems. In both Canada and the United States we find this dual system, although the acreage of national parks in the United States under the Federal Government is far in excess of that of the provincial parks. However, the important factor is that, on a comparison of national park acreages, Australia is well below the United States.
I think we have to make a pragmatic approach. Therefore, my advocacy will be related to section 96 of the Constitution as a means for the Federal Government to make grants for the acquisition of additional national parks. I think the Department of the Interior would be the logical distributor of Federal funds for this purpose. With the aid of the Wild Life Division of the C.S.I.R.O. at a governmental level and also the aid of the Australian Conservation Foundation, which is comprised of interested people acting in a private capacity, we would have a launching pad from which to move into this field.
This brings me to the subject which I have hammered in my short time in the Senate - the protection of our native fauna. I have some maps of the United States and Canada, which I will hand to the Minister afterwards. I will use the kangaroo as a case in point. For the conservation of buffalo in Canada, there is the Wood Buffalo National Park, which straddles Alberta and the northwestern territories, covering 17,000 square miles. The Custon Park in South Dakota would be of a similar nature. I took the opportunity of writing to Senator Cannon of Nevada in the United States and I found that last year the United States Government acquired an area of 450,000 acres in that State for a wild horse range to protect the last of the diminishing numbers of mustangs. This is something which we might well consider in relation to our brumbies. It is obvious that the Commonwealth Government has a role to play in this field. I say that because I know full well that this is a subject which is awakening public opinion. I approach the subject from a completely non-party political standpoint. In New South Wales there have been belated efforts, in the western division of the State, to do something about preserving the red kangaroo. Unfortunately, a State cannot think in as large a way as the Commonwealth can. In this regard, I refer to a publication called “ The Living Earth “, which is published largely by rural people. They refer to the possibility of a special national reserve being created in the western division of New South Wales - a reserve which, in some respects, would parallel the Wood Buffalo Park in Canada. In effect it visualises an area west of the Darling River, approximately 90 miles north of Broken Hill and 80 miles east of the South Australian border in the Mootwingee Ranges. It would be in terms of a minimum of 100,000 acres. This is the crux of my submission in advocating Federal grants in this field. I am speaking of a minimum area of 100,000 acres. I ask the Committee to consider that relatively small area in comparison with the Canadian project covering 17,000 square miles. I think honorable senators will agree that in the 1960’s there are always fresh problems. I think this is one of them.
I am not going to weary the Committee in regard to the various classifications of national parks. I will deal with these classifications on another occasion. I am emphasising now the position of the red kangaroo. I am fortified in this by the research carried out by the very competent officers of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. Another time I might be referring to the emu, the wallaby, the turtle or other fauna. When we look at the utterances of some of the leading conservationists in the world, such as Mr. Steward L. Udall, who is the United States Secretary of the Interior, it is obvious that what we do in the next three years is all that we will be able to do. There is no question about that. It is on that basis that I emphasise the need for the Commonwealth Government to take the plunge in this matter. I know that my suggestion perhaps is a little radical. As I say, our constitutional problems are somewhat different from those of Canada. I understand, again leaning heavily on the legal knowhow of my leader, that the residual powers in Canada are vested in the Federal Government whereas in Australia they are vested in the State Governments. So, there is that hurdle to get over. I think that, if we are pragmatic none of these problems is insurmountable. I know of the mounting public interest in this field. In the short time I have been a member of this Parliament, I have received submissions from places as far apart as Exmouth in Western Australia and the Atherton Tableland in Queensland. This fauna conservation is a growing need. I feel that, despite the various problems of finance that are involved, a start must be made in this direction now. I ask the Committee to bear with me while I indicate the sentiments of the little people in this country by reading a small verse entitled “Ode to the Kangaroo” which was sent to me by Mrs. M. Grant who is a constituent of the Macquarie electorate and an active member of the Teachers Federation. It is -
We are the speechless Original inhabitants, We are the harmless, The hunted and the killed.
We ask of no man Other than the right to live. Spare us from the callous, The mercenary and cruel.
We do not slay
Either ours or other kind,
Nor encroach on man’s preserve.
And dignity is ours.
Mr. Chairman, I am fairly pragmatic in my approach to these things. I do not ask for anything Utopian. But I do say this: At the present time we are inculcating in our school children a sound Australianism which has developed in relation to our fauna. I know that you yourself, Sir, in your recent visit overseas, rightly referred to the weakening Australian image of our emblems, the kangaroo and the emu. I say, particularly to members of the Country Party, that I do not approach this subject with the intention to be provocative. I believe in orderly planning. I believe that if these national sanctuaries are established nobody will be stupid enough to say that his own particular crops will be menaced because of that establishment. While at the moment I am advocating a Federal grant in relation to New South Wales, I know only too well that other States have their problems in this regard also. As a matter of fact, the area of land I referred to will encroach into South Australia probably, so that two States would be involved in the scheme.
I wish to conclude on this note. I know it is the accepted practice in some of these matters for the Minister concerned to say that he will have a look at the point raised. On this occasion, I feel that that is not sufficient. A top level conference with interested people and organisations, including the Australian Conservation Foundation and the National Parks Association of New South Wales, could lead to some effective planning. I am sure everybody will approach the matter without any particular political axe to grind. I will go a little further. In February of next year a national park seminar is to be held at the University of New England. I have been invited to be there. I should like to feel that when I go to this seminar I will be able to say that the Commonwealth Parliament has risen above party politics and looked beyond State boundaries in this matter. I should like to be able to say that the Commonwealth Government has given a direction in regard to the case that I have advocated today. I conclude on that note. I will give the Minister some maps. I hope that it will not be merely a case of having a look at my suggestion. I would like to feel that in the next month or so the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) who, I know, is a vigorous man and who, in physique is like Steward L. Udall, will seek to model his work on the work of that man. If he does, I can assure him that the party I represent will be well in the vanguard to make this scheme a reality.
– I refer to the estimates of the Department of the Interior with regard to
Division No. 315, Rent. This year aa amount of £2,551,000 is to be appropriated. The appropriation in 1964-65 was £2,076,020, although the actual expenditure was £2,118,871. I am rather alarmed at the high amount of rent the Department of the Interior is paying out of the public purse. Details are set out here as to the payments made on behalf of the various departments concerned. The Department of the Interior pays over £2i million in rent. This figure has been rising not slowly but rather vigorously over the last few years. For instance, it rose by nearly 25 per cent, in the last 12 months. Admittedly, the functions of the Commonwealth are expanding. I would say also that any new lease contracts which have been negotiated would be at a higher figure than previously. But I desire to address some remarks to the Committee on the way this has been happening and to ask whether the Department of the Interior should be seeking either existing properties to purchase or land available upon which it should build Government offices.
Speaking as a South Australian, I am aware of the fact that the Reserve Bank of Australia is putting up a very tall building in Adelaide. But one would have thought that some attempt would have been made by Commonwealth departments to seek space in this building which is situated in Victoria Square. But no - half the building, I understand, is to be let to State Government departments. Since this building has been planned, the Commonwealth has taken leases of a number of buildings spread almost throughout the whole of Adelaide. I remember a former South Australian senator, Senator O’Flaherty, once put the position to the Senate that a person would cover 43 miles in visiting all the offices of the Commonwealth Public Service in Adelaide. In other words, the departments were so spread that a person would travel 43 miles if he wished to visit all of them. It is not too ridiculous to assume that a senator, if he was right on the job, might easily have to cover some 43 miles in his work. In leasing properties all over the cities of Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Hobart and Perth the Commonwealth is not studying the convenience of the general public. It certainly is not studying the convenience of Federal members and senators whose duty takes them to the various departments. So from the viewpoint of the customer the Commonwealth is falling down on the job.
The Commonwealth should consider the matter also from the viewpoint of the rent that it pays, in some cases, for a few floors in an insurance building. The latest development in Adelaide has been to station the new Adelaide office of the Department of External Affairs in a lodge building. The Commonwealth Parliament offices are on two floors of an insurance building and the Sub-Treasury is half a mile away in another insurance building. The Minister for the Interior should examine the expenditure of £2.5 million a year on rent. His representative in this chamber should explain why this year there is to be an increase of approximately £500,000 in expenditure on rent. Why should the Department of the Treasury set the Commonwealth back to the extent of £1.1 million for rent alone? 1 am assuming that this rent is paid in the States. Surely the Commonwealth is not renting buildings here in Canberra, where there should be no problem about acquiring sites. From my observation of the new buildings that are being erected in this city, I should say that there is no problem about constructing the necessary buildings. I submit that the increase of more than £500,000 this year in the payment of rent by the Commonwealth calls for very close examination. I should be very grateful if the Minister were to explain the increase.
I conclude by making an observation about some of the countries I have visited and which generally we do not know very much about. I have been to four of the countries in South America. I am sure Senator Wood will agree with me when I say that what impresses one when one goes to places like Rio De Janeiro and Buenos Aires is the excellence of the government buildings. The people in those parts seem to be very proud of their government buildings. I am rather ashamed of our government buildings in Adelaide, the city that I know best. The Federal Government has practically no building in Adelaide that is worthy of it. I understand that the Public Works Committee has not visited Adelaide since 1926 - nearly 40 years ago. That shows clearly that the Commonwealth has not been interested in the development or ownership of buildings in South Australia. It seems that it would sooner adopt the easier and more slovenly attitude of paying high rents. As a consequence, I believe that the work of the civil service is not being done as efficiently as it would be done if the departments were grouped more conveniently than they now are. Commonwealth departments are not housed nearly as well as are the State departments. There is nothing about the Commonwealth buildings in South Australia that leads one to be proud of them. I hope that the new Reserve Bank building in Adelaide will do the Commonwealth great credit. However, this is the first building that the Commonwealth has erected in Adelaide since soon after World War I when it erected a fairly insignificant building in Pulteney Street for the Repatriation Commission.
The Minister for the Interior should look seriously at the provision of Commonwealth buildings, particularly in South Australia. The increase of £500,000 this year in the rent that is to be paid by the Commonwealth clearly shows in which way we appear to be heading. I should like the Minister for Repatriation, who of course is representing the Minister for the Interior in this chamber, to give me some explanation in justification of the high rents that are being paid and the increase that is to be paid this year. I ask the Minister for Repatriation to speak to his colleague about the attitude of the Commonwealth in continuing to hire buildings instead of erecting new ones. I would like to know particularly why one half of the new Reserve Bank building in Adelaide, which is being erected at considerable cost, is to be let to the State Government and is not to be used by the Commonwealth.
.- Before dealing with the matters that I desire to raise, I should like to say that I agree entirely with what Senator Laught said about the architecture of buildings that he has seen in South America and central America, particularly in Mexico. Some of the architecture that I saw there was most striking. Mexico City provides an outstanding example of really first class architecture. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), when opening the new headquarters building of the Liberal Party recently, offered some criticism of modern architecture and indicated that he preferred the older form of architecture. Really it is not a matter of preferring old architecture or modern architecture; it is a matter of preferring good architecture, whether it be of the old or the more, modern form. Unfortunately, the architecture of some of the public buildings that are being erected in Canberra is far from good. For some reason or other, the Government seems to have pursued a form of architecture that is not very striking. I hope that some improvement will be effected.
The Minister for Works (Senator Gorton), who led the delegation with which I went to South America, was greatly impressed by the kind of architecture that we saw in Mexico City. There was a touch of the modern style. Because of its cleanness of design, it was particularly striking, and I believe that it will still be modern a century from now. I compliment Senator Laught upon striking this note. This is a matter that should be looked at more carefully than apparently it has been in the past.
In Division No. 853, Australian Capital Territory Services, provision is made for the allocation of £902,000 for parks and gardens and recreation reserves. Last year a sum of £876,800 was appropriated and a sum of £863,317 was expended. As I have indicated, it is proposed that there shall be an increase of approximately £29,000 in the expenditure for this year. The description of the sub-division in question includes these words in brackets: “ Moneys received for works and services carried out for other authorities may be credited to this Subdivision”. There is no indication as to whether there is to be any deduction from the amount shown or whether any money has been credited. I would like to know what it means. If monies have been credited, why are they not shown as a deduction from this amount, or are they meant to be amounts in addition to the £902,000 which we propose to expend. It is a considerable amount of money. I do not know what supervision is exercised over this work. At times I have seen a regular pattern of easy going work in this garden section. I think that more vigilance might be exercised over this work in order to achieve the desired results.
I note from the estimates that last year an amount of £6,700 was appropriated for the Canberra Theatre Trust and that that amount was spent. This year the appropria tion is £24,000. I would like to know on what this money is to be spent. Is the Canberra Theatre Trust a part of the Elizabethan Theatre Trust, or is it a separate entity? Why has the appropriation been increased from £6,700 to £24,000? I would like the Minister to give me further information on this matter.
The final point I wish to make refers to the Canberra city omnibus service. Last year the appropriation for this item was £87,000 and the expenditure was £90,495. This year there is an appropriation of £90,000. Can the Minister say whether efforts are being made to reduce the loss that is being incurred by the Canberra bus service? I do not know of any other bus service which is subsidised in this way. I am concerned to know whether the Australian taxpayer’s money is being used to make things easier for Canberra citizens.
– Following on Senator Wood’s remark that he does not know whether any other bus service in Australia is subsidised in this way, I inform him that the Tasmanian Parliament transferred from municipal control to State control the bus services of Hobart, Launceston and Burnie for the express purpose of getting their losses into the Government’s accounts, which would be under consideration for Federal grants, and thereby obtain Federal money to subsidise the losses on the bus services of those cities. I remind anybody with whom I travel to work of the fact that inferior grade buses of gross inconvenience to the passengers have been substituted for decently comfortable trams. Some people say that the petrol tax should be used to subsidise the cities’ bus services. I tell them that they want to go out into the country where they may have to walk a couple of miles to reach their homes before they talk of Federal money being used to subsidise bus services for the city dwellers.
I did not rise to speak on that matter. I thought that it might have a Country Party interest that would provide a decent preface to the subject about which I am going to address the Chair. Members of the Australian Country Party have been very silent during the Estimates debate. I think that a voice on behalf of the country people should be heard. There is a little quixotic mystery that vexes my mind. I refer to the grant of £5,000 for research by the University of Tasmania. It is a singularly appropriate item, but we have to consider its full implications. I do not suppose that the zealous souls who sit in another place and who, so far as I know, offer very little criticism of the general expenditure, would be unduly ruffled if we sought to amend their proposals for expenditure to the extent of a midget figure such as £5,000. I am not speaking of an amendment in the ordinary sense of the term. I think I am correct in saying that we cannot amend the Appropriation Bill; we can only request an amendment.
– We are still examining proposed expenditure. We are not yet considering the Appropriation Bill.
– No. We are only dealing with a motion relating to the Budget Papers. I want to be formally correct and not give any trouble on constitutional formalities for a second time in this sessional period. The University of Tasmania is to get a grant for research. I wonder what it is for.
I remind the Senate that I raised this matter earlier this year. It was then disclosed that the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony) had concentrated his attention on possible mysteries in Senate voting. He had this grant made available to the University of Tasmania, I think on his own motion and also, I think, by personal communication with the scholar concerned and not with the University. But I say that only in passing. It is immaterial. Nevertheless, it shows how disinterested the research is. To show how scholarly the research is, let me remind the Senate that it is being undertaken by a scholar, one of whose publications appears on the notice paper of the Senate. I refer to the paper entitled “Resolving Senate-House Deadlocks in Australia without endangering the smaller States, by George Howatt, M.A.”. It was presented by Command on 19th May 1964, and was ordered to be printed on 20th May 1964.
It is not without current political interest because at the present time the newspapers are suggesting that we are to have introduced into the Parliament legislation which will enable the people of the Commonwealth to alter the part of the Constitution dealing with the relationship between the number of members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives. This scholar put forward the following plan -
The State declaratory vote plan is a method for assisting the Senate, when it so wishes, to forestall disagreements between itself and the House of Representatives by providing for six additional votes in the Senate. The six votes would be cast seperately, one vote for each State, by a panel of Senators from that State. The panel would be chosen by the Senate in such a way as to reflect the latest expression of the electors as shown in their voting for the Government of the day.
He goes on to explain this a little more fully in a later paragraph, which I shall read -
When Parliament meets after election or change in Government, the Senate would choose a panel of five Senators from each State in a fashion approximately similar to that now used to elect Senate committees. Of the five panel members for each State, three would be chosen by Senators with the dual obligation (i.e., Government Senators) and the remaining two members by nonGovernment Senators. Each panel would then be empowered to cast one vote, known as the State’s declaratory vote, on behalf of its State whenever a division is called. After the number of senators on both sides has been counted by the tellers, the chairman of each State panel or his deputy would rise and declare the decision of his panel.
The kernel of federation was the basic idea that it was sufficient to attract the attention of the States to federation by beginning with an equity of votes in the Senate for each State, followed by the assumption that proportional representation is the appropriate method of election for each State. Thus the people - not the Government - have the appropriate representation in this chamber. What degree of deference is shown to the democratic principle if, when the people return senators with a certain balance in this chamber, the majority are so to arrogate their vote as, in effect, to add to themselves an additional five votes? That is the result of this scholar’s study that was presented to the Senate in May 1964. That is the idea that has generated the enthusiasm of a member of the Australian Country Party who is Minister for the Interior to offer to the University of Tasmania a grant for research - such a rare item in the estimates for the Department of the Interior.
The mystery of it is quite intriguing, especially when I remind honorable senators that the proposal for the research to be undertaken by the scholar nominated followed the refusal by the Government in this chamber to vote for a motion by the Opposition to establish a Senate select committee to examine Senate voting. I also remind honorable senators that the Senate select committee to which the Government appointed no members, away back in 1951, did rare work in falsifying the basis upon which proposals were then put forward to solve deadlocks. But it was not defiant of the democratic ideal that people should vote in the proportion in which public opinion believed representation should be established in the Senate.
In 1951 a proposal was put forward to divide up the people’s votes into part A and part B. A Senate select committee then made a very useful report and pointed out the fallacies of that idea to such effect that the Bill was not proceeded with. That is an illustration of the type of fruitful information a Senate select committee can provide, by contacting various academic sources and examining various political offices. I would have thought that a Senate select committee would bring to the Parliament a much better informed view than that furnished by a person called a research scholar whose views are so amply before us as in the paper I hold, running to not less than 84 printed pages.
I do not know whether there is much interest in omitting this item from the Estimates. I throw out the suggestion that the item should be left out. If any support is forthcoming, I think it would give us a measure of interest and purpose. I am referring to sub-division 3 of Division No. 318.
– The honorable senator could move a motion during the debate on the Appropriation Bill.
– No. I will see how the debate proceeds before I put forward any motion. My feeling is that it is a waste to involve us in expenditure of ?5,000 a year for this purpose. It is a good beginning, because it is a small matter. It is an improper item of appropriation in my view because, when the Senate sought to set up, a select committee, the Government negatived the proposal. It is a poor subsitute for a senate select committee to offer a biassed and pre-determined method of study.
– Does the honorable senator think the appropriation is to pay for the paper that has already been prepared?
– No. On 17th March last Mr. Anthony provided information which I gave to the Senate in April. He said -
After discussing the matter with the Commonwealth Electoral Officer and the Department of the Treasury, it was decided that the Commonwealth Government should provide a grant of ?5,000 per annum during the next three years to the University of Tasmania to enable certain research to be undertaken.
– Making a total of ?15,000?
– Yes, over three years. It is quite clearly acknowledged that the research is to be done by the scholar whose name I have mentioned, and who has contributed the paper I hold.
– Did he get anything for contributing that paper?
-(Senator DrakeBrockman). - Order! The honorable senator should address his remarks to the Chair.
– For the information of honorable senators, prompted by a remark of a colleague, I want to say that, to my knowledge, the scholar received nothing from the Commonwealth Government for contributing this paper. It was composed for the purpose of general research which he had been doing on an American scholarship in Tasmania for, I think, the past eight years. The only expense to which the Commonwealth has been subjected has been the cost of printing the paper. I cannot mention that cost.
– It appears that attempts have been made to lead me up two paths; first, the parks and gardens path, and secondly, Senator Wright has attempted to lead me up the electoral path. Senator Mulvihill this afternoon expressed his views on a subject in which he is obviously very interested. That is the protection of native fauna. The Department of the Interior is establishing a native fauna protection area at Tidbinbilla. Native fauna will be placed in their natural environment for this purpose. To establish this area, an amount of several thousand pounds has been appropriated under Division No. 988.
I thank Senator Mulvihill for passing over to me a map of the area to which he referred. The honorable senator suggested that an area in the western portion of New South Wales - and I think he said South Australia - should be made available for kangaroos. I think he would agree that if kangaroos were to be kept in that area it would be necessary to build around it a fairly substantial fence. Perhaps if the honorable senator made his suggestion in about 50 years time it would then be more appropriate. At present I am very firmly convinced, after a lifetime on the land, that there is no need to protect the red kangaroo at this stage. After all, it is just as big a nuisance as the rabbit has been.
Kangaroos not only denude pastures, but also destroy them because they dig the grass out by the roots. Consequently, fresh seeding is necessary. In. addition, kangaroos spread worms on country where sheep are run. The eradication of worm infestation in sheep is very costly. Grey kangaroos are spread over a very large area. It is admitted that red kangaroos are not present in such large numbers. Like the rabbit, the grey kangaroo is a nice animal, but when it breeds to reach plague proportions, something has to be done. I think we would only strike trouble if we attempted to look after the red kangaroo and forgot all about the grey kangaroo. I believe that at present the honorable senator’s suggestion should not be adopted. In years to come, the need may arise.
Senator Laught requested some information regarding expenses for rent incurred by the Commonwealth. He mentioned among others the Department of the Treasury. Known commitments plus provision for new leases in the Australian Capital Territory will require £4,056, space in Elizabeth Street, Melbourne, will require £2,500, in St. George’s Terrace, Perth, £17,828 and an additional area in Sydney for the Decimal Currency Board will require £2,905. Provision has been made for the new lease of accommodation in the Commonwealth Bank Building, Wynyard, at a cost of £195,500 a year. No provision has been made for the anticipated increase in area and rates on present accommodation leased in the Commonwealth Savings Bank Building, Martin Place, Sydney. This may approximate £109,200. The service has been expanding and additional space has been needed. That is one of the reasons why we are faced with this increase in rents.
The honorable senator mentioned that the Commonwealth buildings in Adelaide have been neglected and that there has been a dearth of new construction. He said that a new Commonwealth Bank building is being erected there and he asked why it will not be utilised to the fullest extent by Commonwealth departments instead of some of the space that will be available being leased to State entities. I am told that it is not Commonwealth policy to provide buildings for all departments which require space. I suppose to some degree this is a matter of economy. The honorable senator also said that I should suggest to the Minister for the Interior that new buildings be provided in view of the fact that additional space is required. In the first place, I point out that additional space will be provided in Adelaide. However, it is obvious that buildings cannot be erected without money, and the provision of funds has repercussions not only on the Treasury but also on the economy of Australia.
Senator Wood referred to buses in the Australian Capital Territory. I point out to the honorable senator that bus services operated by State Governments in other capital cities run at a loss. I understand that the bus. service here also runs at a loss. I suppose it would be a rarity to find a bus service running at a profit anywhere. I am told that fares were increased last year. Care must be taken when increasing fares to ensure that the fares do not become so high that people will not be able to afford to use the buses. If fares were increased to that extent we would be killing the goose that lays the golden egg.
– Has any thought been given to handing over the service to private enterprise?
– That is a matter which should be referred to the Minister himself. The honorable senator also mentioned the Canberra Theatre. In the year’ 1964-65 expenses amounted to £6,700. However,, the Trust did not commence operating until late in 1964-65, so that expenditure did not cover a full year. It is estimated that £24,000 will be needed for the full year 1965-66.
The honorable senator referred to recreation reserves and parks and gardens, for which £902,000 has been allocated for this year. He wanted to know whether anything was recovered as an offset against this expenditure. I point out to the honorable senator that Division No. 853 carries an item which indicates that £90,000 will be recovered for works carried out for other authorities. I think that answers his question about recovery of expenditure.
Senator Wright was correct in saying that a grant of £15,000 has been made available to the University of Tasmania. I do not propose to follow him along the path he took because he dealt pretty extensively with the matter. I do not think there are any other matters relating strictly to the estimates on which I can give him an answer now, but if I have missed something and he would like me to reply I shall do so on the next occasion I rise.
– I take advantage of this discussion to raise a matter relating to the News and Information Bureau. I refer particularly to the items covering film production and film distribution and will direct my remarks to the activities of the Commonwealth Film Unit. At the outset let me say that the people engaged in film production have done an outstanding job. If they were provided with additional funds I am sure that they could well make a place for themselves in the annals of film production.
I do not denigrate the importance of their work nor do I attack the value of what they have done so far, but I genuinely believe the time has arrived when the Commonwealth Film Unit should endeavour to promote more Australians to positions in the top echelon. I understand the producer in chief of the Unit is Mr. Stanley Hawes, who has done outstanding work for Australia. Mr. Hawes is an Englishman who, I understand, was brought to Australia from Canada by Mr. Foster, who was then the Canadian Film Commissioner. It was intended that he should train an Australian to take over his duties and responsibilities. That was in 1946. At the end of two years
Mr. Hawes said that he had not been able to find an Australian who was suitable for the position, so his term was extended for’ another year. When that year had expired, Mr. Hawes again said that he still could not find anyone suitable for the position and heexpressed his willingness to resign from the Canadian Film Board and to accept the position himself in Australia. The Government agreed to this and Mr. Hawes became producer in chief of the Unit. As I havesaid, I believe he has done an outstanding, job but, facing facts, he is an Englishman. The next position on the line is that of production manager. I understand that position was filled by an Englishman who had been producer in chief of the Central Rhodesian film unit. Then there are five producers, two of whom are Englishmen and three areAustralians. I understand two of those Australians either have retired or in the very near future will retire because of the age barrier. Then there are 11 directors, 2 of whom are Englishmen and 9 Australians.
Having regard to the fact that this Unit has been operating now for nearly 20 years, I suggest that the Minister should give first priority to the appointment of Australians as producers in vacancies which have arisen or will arise in the future. After all, the Unit has been operating for many years and the top echelon has had ample opportunity by now to train Australians for the position of producer. In any event, there are men in outside industry today filling positions of this kind who would be well fitted to fill the vacancies in the Unit.
The Canadian Film Board was established by Mr. John Grierson, an Englishman, who was regarded as the father of film documentaries. Another Englishman, Mr. Stuart Legge, was taken from England to Canada to act in the capacity of producer in chief. Those two men established the Canadian Film Board and made sure right from the outset that Canadians were encouraged to take their place in this very important industry. Today in Canada there is a very effective film production unit which is one of the most efficient in the world. Some years ago the New Zealand Government established a film unit. It did not bother to bring anyone to New Zealand to establish the unit. It accepted the responsibility of appointing a New Zealander as the producer in chief. That unit has developed to such an extent that now it is much larger than our Commonwealth Film Unit. As I have mentioned, right from the outset it was run and has continued to be run completely by New Zealanders.
Unfortunately, throughout the film industry in Australia - small as it is and of which I have a rather close and intimate knowledge - the Commonwealth Film Unit, although it is regarded as being quite effective, has become known colloquially as an English or pommy unit. I have already said that 1 do not disparage its work. But I suggest that it is more than time the Government or the Department of the Interior considered the appointment of Australians to the two positions of producer which either have become vacant or are about to become vacant. I ask the Minister and the Department to ensure that the vacancies that have occurred or are likely to occur in the future are given prominent publicity and advertisement in Australia in order to attract to the available positions eminent Australians who are engaged in this very important medium. Despite what the Minister said last night in dealing with other estimates and what the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) has said, I assure the Government and the Commonwealth Film Unit that in the film industry in Australia today there are men with great talent who are anxious to use their skills in this very important medium. Therefore, I ask the Department to give this matter very close and earnest consideration so that Australians can be encouraged to take their part in the development of this medium in the interests of Australia.
.- I direct my remarks to the appropriation for the Canberra Theatre Trust. Some little time ago, the Minister stated that last year £6,700 was appropriated and expended in respect of portion of the year to June 1965 and that the appropriation for this year is £24,000. Can the Minister amplify that? Undoubtedly, all honorable senators are interested in the development of the arts, particularly in the National Capital, in the outstanding building that has been erected and in the excellent individuals who have been drawn to the management of the Trust. I believe that this theatre will be a success. However, nearly £500 a week, if I may put it that way, for the operations of the Trust is rather a large figure. Can the Minister give us more details of it?
– Has any other capital city this advantage?
– I would not know. I know that in the estimates for another department £100,000 is provided for the Australian Elizabethan Theatre Trust. Perhaps that contribution could be put in the same category.
I also refer to the appropriations for real estate management and rent. I understand that the Department of the Interior is the controller of all Commonwealth property and of all Commonwealth contracts for the rental of private property that is used for Commonwealth offices. The appropriation for real estate management is £1,573,000 and the appropriation for rent is the enormous figure of £2,551,000. I want to find out whether the position to which I have referred - that the Department of the Interior has control of this whole matter - will apply this year, or whether I am right in believing that some departure is being made and that various Commonwealth departments are entering into contracts themselves. If the latter is so, in addition to this appropriation for rent, various Commonwealth departments are also paying rent for space that they themselves have rented.
– I refer to the appropriation for the Electoral Branch. I express my disappointment that the only provision that the Government appears to have made for an examination of the electoral machinery, particularly in relation to the Senate is £5,000 for research through the University of Tasmania. Most of us are acquainted with Mr. Howatt, who was seconded by the University of Pennsylvania to the University of Tasmania to examine Tasmania’s preferential voting system. At regular intervals he interviews members of all political parties. He is an enthusiast in regard to the system. I hope that he will produce something that will improve the voting system for the Senate. I presume that he will concentrate mainly on preferential voting.
I believe that even at the risk of repetition I should point out what I said in this chamber a couple of months ago. There appears to be an urgent need for an examination of some of the other machinery of the Electoral Branch. Let me point out, for example, that in the recent Senate election with which I was connected there was the Original count of primary votes and then, as usually happens before preferences are distributed, there was a second count. In the past electoral officers assured me that the second count was always so tight that hardly any errors could be missed. But, as a result of this second count, there was a third count in which about 10,000 errors were discovered. Obviously, they would not have been discovered if this count had been conducted in the way in which counts have been conducted in past years.
It seems to me that the Government has a very grave responsibility when it is revealed that the electoral machinery, after two counts, is able to turn up 10,000 mistakes in a third count. Obviously, if there are 10,000 mistakes and if there is a second count prior to the distribution of preferences, many of the mistakes must be discovered during the distribution of preferences. Apparently, nothing is done about that because if the officers went back they would have to determine a new quota and start all over again. It seems to me that mere is definite evidence of a serious defect in the machinery in this respect. I had hoped that the Government would provide in some way in these estimates for an examination of this matter and for something to be done about it.
One of the troubles of the Commonwealth Electoral Office has been the failure of the political parties in the past to provide scrutineers who would have helped the Electoral Officers by watching what was happening and probably detecting mistakes. A second trouble is that it has had to engage at election time casual employees of varying quality. Anyone who has done a routine job like counting votes knows that it can be very tedious and one can reach a stage at which he is looking at the figures and passing over the ballot papers without registering what is on them. It seems to me that persons who are to count votes in a vital issue such as this should be of very high quality. I think that the method of counting should be examined to see whether we can improve the system. In Victoria after we had two original counts and were told that the second one was absolutely perfect, it was revealed that there were still 10,000 mistakes in the ballot papers. I am told by my scrutineers that some of the ballot papers that they found on the third count had only the numbers 1, 2 and 3 on them. They were still there as formal votes after there had been two counts.
I should like to see some provision for making available to the political parties the rulings which the Electoral Office follows in regard to difficult questions. I do that because of my experience and the experience of my Party in the past ten years, when we have had completely opposite rulings on certain issues from Electoral Officers. Five or six years ago, when one member of our Party was narrowly defeated in Victoria, we went to the Chief Electoral Officer and asked him for a recount. He told us that closeness of the voting was not a ground for a recount. Yet, in the elections held last December, another party was given a ruling that closeness of the voting was a ground for a recount. In Victoria, the Electoral Officer called for a recount and he told me that it was on the ground of the closeness of the voting. In Tasmania the Electoral Officer rejected a request for a recount and said that closeness of the voting was not a reason for a recount. How can one be satisfied with a system whereby, in an election five or six years ago we were given one ruling and in an election last year we were given a different ruling, and in the election last year a ruling was given in Victoria that closeness of voting was a ground for a recount and in Tasmania there was a ruling that closeness of voting was not a ground for a recount?
The other matter to which I wish to refer relates to random selection of votes. Six years ago, when it told against my Party, we were informed that if there was a recount the same votes must be counted as were in the random selection. Last year we were told exactly the opposite. I understand that that was because of a ruling which the Electoral Officer very properly obtained from the Crown Law authorities about six months before the election, but why was not this made available to the political parties so that they would know where they stood?
I close with a plea once again to the Government to accept its responsibility to do something about what appear to be obvious flaws in the system of counting, and also to ensure that rulings are uniform - that you do not get a different ruling in Victoria from the ruling that you get in Tasmania, and that you do not get a different ruling in 1964 from the ruling that you got in 1958.
– I cannot allow the Minister’s statement on my submissions to go completely unanswered. When I embarked on this crusade, I appreciated that some of these conservation battles on priorities have been going on in the United States for over 100 years, so one does not expect success overnight. A few points need rebuttal. The Minister spoke in terms of 50 years’ time. This expression was used in the United States in relation to bison and in northern Europe in relation to reindeer. In each case it has been proved wrong. I know that the Minister has a lot of material from various parts of the chamber to consider and explain but I ask him to have a second look at this matter. With the termination of certain western leases, this is the time when, by a joint Commonwealth and State Government effort, it would be possible to absorb a number of these leases with, the least dislocation.
The Minister referred to fences and patrols. From my research, it appears that there has not been any need for fences in the North American game reserves. That brings us back to the situation that applies in New South Wales at the present time. As the Minister knows, there is a form of licensing. The Fauna Protection Panel has a roll of supervisors. I read “ Muster “ and other publications that frown on any form of control. I know the vast majority of people on the land have a high conception of their responsibilities in relation to kindness to animals; I do not say that in a facetious way. But if we did not have some controls and if everyone went his own way, what sort of a world would we have? The point that I make and that has been made by various conservation authorities is that there is no need to stop a landholder from hiring kangaroo shooters to reduce the number of kangaroos on his property, but there should be an area to which they could retreat and take refuge. As a matter of fact, the Canadian Government has gone further. It is subsidising certain landowners on the prairies to provide habitation for certain forms of bird life, so there is nothing new in what I am suggesting.
While I concede the role of the wool industry in this country, I do not think anyone is so materialistic as not to accept the fact that we must have certain planning. We sit here on nice, red plush seats, but surely our sensibilities have not become dulled. If we had a few shot in our buttocks as some kangaroos have, we would not be sitting here complacently - and that goes for the Minister, too.
– I hate to have the gun pointed at me like that; I hope that it will not have any bad effects. I was glad to hear the eulogistic remarks of Senator McClelland on the films produced by the Commonwealth Film Unit I endorse his references to the excellence of many of our documentaries. I do not know the position now, but in 1962 our documentary films were in strong demand in New York and bringing in a substantial amount of money. The rest of his remarks regarding personnel will be noted.
Senator Webster got back onto the subject of the Canberra Theatre Trust. Provision is made for the Trust’s preliminary expenses as follows - Development fund, £4,400; operation subsidy for first year of operation £12,600; fees and travelling expenses, £1,000; plant and equipment, £6,00% total, £24,000. The operation subsidy for the first year represents: Staff salaries, £5,300; wages, £3,900; casual assistance, £1,200; managerial expenses, travelling and telephones, £1,650; operational cleaning and lighting, £7,500; maintenance, £2,600; total £22,150; less estimated gross income, £9,550, leaving a balance of £12,600. The honorable senator was quite right when he spoke of the Department of the Interior as the landlord department.
Senator McManus brought home to us the many shortcomings of the present voting system. I agree that it is disturbing that rulings of a directly opposite nature should be given in two States that almost adjoin. I shall bring the points that he made on that score to the notice of the Minister for Interior (Mr. Anthony).
– I ask the Minister: Can the Department do anything about providing parking facilities for Federal members in Sydney? This is the only city in Australia -where Federal members have nowhere to park their cars.
– There are no such facilities in Melbourne.
– But they are being provided. We used to be able to park our cars in the grounds of the State Parliament House but, due to some activity by the Country Party there, we have been excluded and can no longer park there. As a site for these facilities, I would suggest to the Minister the Department of Supply garage at Woolloomooloo, just beside David Jones’ free caterpillar ride up to Elizabeth Street. This garage is Commonwealth property. If we had the right to garage our vehicles there, we could get to the Federal members’ rooms by walking across the park or we could use other means of transport. The distance involved would be about half a mile. I ask the Minister to consider seriously providing us with a parking area or making arrangements for us to park in the garage I have mentioned.
– I will certainly consider the matter.
.- The Minister, in his comments on the estimates for the Canberra Theatre Trust, cited a figure of £13,000. Will he indicate to me where the credit for the income of the Trust is shown? In the estimates the Government is seeking a sum of £24,000. In reply to my question about rent, the Minister did not advise me whether any other departments were engaged in renting property on thenown behalf.
– Perhaps I should give the honorable senator a little longer answer. I cut my remarks short because we have a lot of expenditure to approve before 9 o’clock tonight. The Department of the Interior is responsible for the management expenses of all jointly occupied Commonwealth leased premises in the various cities. These expenses include cleaning, fuel, light, power, water and so on. In the Australian Capital Territory the Department is responsible for all these services in all Commonwealth occupied buildings, whether leased or owned by the Commonwealth. There is one exception - the Russell Hill offices, occupied by the Department of Defence. The Department of the Interior is responsible for the arrangement of leases for all Commonwealth Departments. If that information does not suffice, I will try to get any further information the honorable senator requires later.
Proposed expenditures and proposed provisions noted.
Motion (by Senator McKellar) agreed to -
That the remaining Divisions be considered in the following order: Department of Defence, Department of the Navy, Department of Social Services, Department of Supply, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Department of Territories, Department of Air, Department of the Treasury and Department of External Affairs.
Department of Defence.
Proposed expenditure, £10,444,000.
– The proposed vote for the Defence Services amounts to £381,610,000 and covers the Department of Defence, the Department of the Navy, the Department of the Army, the Department of Air, the Department of Supply and General Services. Quite obviously, in the final hours of this debate neither I nor any other honorable senator has the time to discuss all the important factors involved in a vote of this nature. I shall deal only with ‘those matters on which I have some authority to speak and of which I have had some experience. I hope that the Minister and the officers who are present will take serious note of what I have to say.
I refer first to Division No. 645, recruiting campaign. Under item 05, a sum of £705,080 is sought for advertising. I have little confidence in the public relations organisation associated with the Army’s recruiting campaign. I think the Army’s public relations are very bad indeed. I will not say that the Army’s recruiting campaign has failed, but it is obvious .that the Government is disappointed with the results. It is probable that the slow rate of recruiting is a consequence of the had picture of the Army that is presented to the public. This is not harsh criticism. I know that great difficulties confront the Army in this regard, but we must face the facts. I do not think there is a real public relations department studying these things. How can we expect to interest the youth of Australia in serving in Vietnam or in serving elsewhere to defend Australia when we know what has been happening recently in connection with the Army and the Navy? Last week, the Navy sailed south to attend the Melbourne Cup meeting.
– Quite right.
– The Navy went south to see the Melbourne Cup race, just as though there was nothing wrong in Vietnam. It is hard to convince the people that there is a crisis up north if all the Navy men are at the Melbourne Cup meeting. I am thinking about the reaction of the public to such things. This is a year when the Navy should have moved north, not south, in order to support the Government’s recruiting campaign.
Then there is the question of the burial of servicemen who die in Vietnam. I do not want to mention names. When a move was made to bring home the body of our first casualty in Vietnam, there was a threeday argument in the Press. People came to see me, telephoned to me and wrote to me, asking me what I could do. A spokesman for the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes) had said that the Army would not bring the body of the dead boy home to be buried and that in no circumstances could the body be brought home. That was the first announcement. The next day somebody in the Department said that that decision was wrong and that someone had overstepped his authority. It was then stated that, provided someone else paid the cost and if the people who wished to bring the body home would take full responsibility, the body could be brought home. Of course, the body was brought home. A similar situation has arisen three times, and each time there has been an argument in the Press as to who should pay the cost. To my mind, that is very bad public relations work.
The same sort of thing arose over the entertainment of troops in Vietnam. I do not know how long ago it was that Senator McClelland raised this matter, but there is still an argument going on about who should pay. The public does not know the finer details of these matters and is not aware of all the constitutional or departmental difficulties involved. This is the way the public sees the picture. The Army said: “You can have Bobby Limb, Lucky Starr or any other artist up there if he pays his own way”. After a week’s argument, it was decided that the Army would supply aircraft to take entertainers to Vietnam. That again is bad public relations. The final decision should have been made earlier. The public should not have been given the impression that the Services, which are to spend over £381 million this year, are miserly when it comes to entertaining the troops or bringing home the dead. I am not saying that there were not good reasons for what was done. What I am saying is that matters were not handled properly and that the public got the wrong impression. I could mention dozens of things which I think are wrong with the Army’s public relations.
There was a campaign in the newspapers for about three days, telling everybody of what was happening to the troops undergoing a toughening-up process in the north of New South Wales. It was said that they had to eat rats, snakes and all sorts of things. This is not good publicity for the type of young fellow whom we are rearing today and who might be thinking of going into the Army. I think that if the Department had expert public relations people examining these matters they would say that at all times these conditions should be kept quiet. Such matters are just not spoken about.
There is a further argument in which the Minister for the Army has taken a leading part. This is as to whether we were suffering as many caualties as the Americans are suffering in Vietnam. The Minister was arguing almost that our casualties were greater than the Americans. This is the type of discussion that was carried on in the newspapers. The argument concerned whether our casualties were one per 1,000 or one per 1,500 as against American casualties of two per 1,000, and so on. This sort of publicity is bad for recruiting. The amount of £750,000 is being spent on the recruiting campaign. It is of no use spending money publicising recruiting if the very newspapers which carry the advertisements advising boys to enlist in the Army carry also stories which defeat the purpose of the advertisements.
I am not providing any solution to these matters because I know that they are very difficult. I think the Government has to examine them. I am sympathetic with the Department in this regard. Another instance of bad publicity is the issuing by the Press of statements on the number of casualties in Vietnam. If the newspapers were taken seriously one would think that there was no war on in Vietnam at all. There are screaming headlines such as: “ One man hurt “. That apparently is the casualty for that day. It is better that nothing be said at all because such a report does not look real. Another heading might be: “Soldier shot accidentally “. These are small incidental things which must happen in a war theatre and which would not be mentioned at all in any real war.
Equally bad publicity is provided by such statements as those which deal with Vietcong casualties. Press reports often say that 300 Vietcong were killed without mention of how many were killed on our side. Then a report may say that there are 300 dead and 200 wounded on the Vietcong side. How the newspapers obtain that information when they do not even know our own casualties I do not know. In my view, this sort of bad publicity undermines the public morale. Public morale cannot be built up in that way. The Australian people cannot be made to believe in the importance of our war effort or the seriousness of the present situation while this sort of publicity is allowed to permeate Press, radio and television. To my mind it is an absolute waste of money to expend £750,000 a year on a recruiting campaign when this sort of publicity permeates the mass media of Australia. 1 ask the Minister seriously to consider the establishment of an accomplished and experienced public relations department in connection with the Services so that people who do not understand the work will not be carrying out publicity jobs. The Government ought to be able to recruit specialists in this field and so obtain a better public image of Australia’s war effort. The Government has not achieved this today because of the loose, irresponsible statements that appear in the nation’s newspapers. The
Government says one thing one day and changes its mind the next day. The Government appears miserable in regard to the entertainment of our troops and the bringing home of the bodies of our soldiers for burial. There was also the matter of leave about which an argument raged for approximately three weeks. To me, this represents bad public relations on the part of the Army.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, I think I should inform the honorable senator that insofar as his remarks affect the Department of the Army, I will ask the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes) to examine them. I think there are answers to most of the questions he raised. Of course, it is nothing to do with the Army or the Defence Services generally what sort of headlines newspapers publish. They also publish casualty lists. We would not wish those lists to be hidden from the public. But I think it will be better if, rather than comment, I indicate to the honorable senator that all the matters he mentioned will be brought to the attention of the Minister for the Army.
– I rise to refer to Division No. 645, Recruiting Campaign, and to deal with advertising. I know that, from time to time since I have been a member of this Parliament, statements have been made on behalf of the Government as to how it intends to build up the numbers in the Army, Navy and Air Force in order to try to bring the nation’s defences to an adequate and effective state. But I am rather surprised to see that, despite these statements which have come from Ministers from time to time, the expenditure on advertising for recruiting campaigns this financial year has been cut by some £40,000. I am wondering what the reason for this cut is. Frankly, having regard to the recruiting campaigns in the last few years and the lack of results flowing therefrom - the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) made some reference to this matter in the Estimates debate last year - I am wondering whether this money is being spent wisely and effectively.
Every year for the last three or four years, approximately 25,000 Australians have volunteered for service in the Army, Navy and Air Force. Every year only 5,000 or 6,000 of these 25,000 volunteers have been accepted. Yet, year after year, this large amount of public money is spent on advertisements in all newspapers, on the radio and over television in order to attract men to the defences of this nation. But at this time when, according to the Government, men are required for our Army, Navy and Air Force, the appropriation for advertising has been reduced by £42,000. I think this certainly needs an explanation.
I should like the. Minister to give consideration also to conducting a recruiting campaign in trade union journals. When all is said and done, an overwhelming number of the young men who decide to give up civilian careers and volunteer for the Army, Navy or Air Force come from the ranks of the humble working class and are members of trade unions. I suggest that a lot of this money could be spent more effectively on advertising in trade union publications. I also wish to add to the remarks of my colleague, Senator Ormonde, on public relations. I refer to the recent decision of the Government to agree to the despatch of Australians to entertain our servicemen in Vietnam and other Asian countries. I first approached the Minister for Defence on this matter in August of this year. After a great deal of procrastination on the part of someone in the Department of Defence, I received a decision, I think, during the week before last. Unfortunately, the decision has been confined to an entertainment party of four people only in any of these areas at one time. The entertainers will be chosen by officers of the Department of the Army and are expected to be top-line artists. Frankly, this is quite understandable. But I query the effectiveness of allowing four entertainers only at one time to go to these trouble spots for the purpose of entertaining Australian troops. Let us face the facts. Young men who are engaged on active service like, at times of recreation, to look at young, beautiful women. Whilst Bobby Limb, Don Lane and other men who are prominent in the entertainment field can contribute much to the entertainment of servicemen, a troupe of dancers probably would provide them with as much enjoyment and entertainment. I ask the Government and the, Minister to consider allowing a group of dancers to provide entertainment that would be appreciated by Australian servicemen. Not only would it be appreciated by the servicemen, but also it would greatly assist to promote the ability of Australians in the artistic and acting professions.
I urge the Minister to answer my queries about the publicity campaign and extension of the present provision which allows only four entertainers to go overseas at the one time.
– Under Division No. 645 provision is made for the expenditure of £18,000 on a community survey. This is an entirely new item. Can the Minister give us details of this item? Under Division No. 656, Acquisition of sites and buildings, a sum of £13,000 was appropriated last year but only £4,595 was expended. This year the proposed appropriation is £6,000. Can the Minister say why such a small sum was expended last year as against the amount that was appropriated and why this year we are asked to appropriate £6,000?
.- I think we all are disappointed that the advertising campaign and the other methods we have employed to attract voluntary recruits have to some extent been a failure. I am sure we all would like our forces to be raised entirely voluntarily. But because of the failure of the voluntary system, it became necessary for the Government to introduce national service. We must be fair and must realise that it is very difficult to attract recruits in a time of full employment. In our advertising campaigns a good deal of regard has been had to the material advantages that accrue if a person joins one of the Services. But today those material advantages, and even more, are available to people in outside employment. While that is so, there will be a natural inclination on the part of young fellows to remain out of the forces and not to submit themselves to discipline and what they may regard as other disabilities that they would have to suffer in the armed forces. It seems to me that, if a little less stress were placed upon the material advantages and a little more stress were placed on the fact that life in one of the
Services is a career in which one can play his part in the defence and security of his country, better results might be obtained. I do not know a great number of young fellows who would join the Army because they thought it offered a better job than they could get outside. But I think there are quite a few in the community who would join voluntarily if they could be convinced that by so doing they were really acting in the interests of their country. I suggest that there should be a shift of emphasis in our recruiting campaign.
Senator Ormonde questioned the value of public relations and so on, and he said that he did not think young people would be induced to join the forces. I remind him that his own party has taken a pretty firm stand in relation to Vietnam. I cannot imagine that a lot of the statements that I have heard uttered on this side of the chamber would induce a young fellow to join the armed forces. On the contrary, a lot of the statements I have heard here would encourage him to believe that he should stay out of the armed forces. The Australian Labour Party is entitled to take the stand it has taken, but I am certain that members of the Labour Party would agree that not too many young fellows would want to go to Vietnam if they believed the statements that have been made by the Labour Party about the situation there.
I am not experienced in military affairs. So I try to obtain the opinions of people who are. I have been told by men of some experience, in the forces that, in examination of recruits, there is a tendency to demand too high a standard of education. I was told recently by an officer of considerable experience that, even allowing for the fact that today men must use weapons which require a good deal of intelligence and perhaps educational attainment, quite a number of young fellows who are fit in every other respect are turned down because they have not a rather high standard of education. I have been told that some of the best soldiers in World War I and World War II had not done particularly well at school but had made up for their deficiency in the educational sphere by their courage, physique and so forth. Therefore, it seems to me that, at a period when we are finding it difficult to get voluntary recruits, we should see whether it is not possible to admit young fellows who are being turned away just because they happen not to have the excessively high standard of education that I am told is being demanded.
– Some matters have been raised which call for specific answers. Senator McClelland referred to the sum that taas been spent on advertising for recruitment and he expressed the belief that perhaps not sufficient money was being provided for this purpose. 1 do not think we should assume that recruitment is not proceeding fairly well in all three Services. Let me compare the figures for 1960 with those for the present time. Five years ago there were 10,600 permanent personnel in the Navy. It is estimated that in June next year the number will have risen to 15,000. The number has risen in successive years to 10,761, 11,162, 12,564, 13,565 and 14,900. So the situation is not such that it calls for urgent action. In regard to the Army, the requirement for advertising to attract voluntary recruits has been considerably limited by the introduction of the national service training scheme. The number of permanent members in 1960 was 20,700, and the estimated strength as at June 1966 is 32,200. In the Air Force 15,743 were available in 1960 and 17,720 were available last year. It is estimated that 18,540 will have been recruited by June 1966. I think that that meets the requirements of those Services at this stage, although they need to be expanded further because of the equipment that is to come in for them.
Before I answer the second point made by Senator McClelland, I shall answer the one made by Senator Wood because it has something to do with this matter. The provision of £18,000 for a community survey, which appears for the first time in these estimates, is to enable a firm of consultants to assess the effect of the advertising that has been and is being carried out, and to advise on the effectiveness of it or of any improvements that might be made. It is a community survey to find out the reaction of the Australian people to the advertising that has been done.
On the question of more than four entertainers going overseas, which was raised by
Senator McClelland, we are completely limited in this matter because all the transportation inside Vietnam, which is, after all, a theatre of war, is by United States Army helicopters. The United States provides transportation for its own entertainers, as well as for ours. It limits its own entertainers to four, and has asked us to do the same.
asked a question about the provision of £6,000 for the acquisition of sites and buildings. I understand that the provision of £6,000 is to settle a claim for acquisition at the North West Cape communications station, which was unable to be settled when the Government moved onto the site. The claim has been the subject of discussion, and this is the amount that is required to settle it.
Senator McManus mentioned the question of advertising and suggested that the educational requirements for the Army and the other Services might be too high. I think that this must remain a matter of opinion. It is not a matter on which my opinion could be regarded as better than his. I have read the statement, and I have also read the statement of the Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes), in which he pointed out that the question of whether or not the standards are too high is one for debate, but he said that they are not very high. A subintermediate standard is required.
.- When Australian troops were first despatched to Vietnam there was an exposure of their movements which gave me very real concern. I communicated with the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) and expressed my concern. The reply which I received seemed to indicate a sense of inability to control the situation. I thought that the matter went right to the question of the security and safety of the troops. Other matters which have been mentioned here today do not induce the nation to regard this contingent of troops overseas as really very important and tend to discourage the nation from being interested in the contingent. I recognise that the Government is unable by its own efforts within the country to exercise effective censorship. But has the Government considered voluntarily calling together the people who manage the channels of mass media and in some way achieving voluntary standards of publication that conform with the Government’s own idea of the way in which news should best be presented? This would not prevent us getting the truth, but it would allow presentation of the news .in such a way as to indicate that these men .ire regarded by the nation as sacrificing themselves in a national duty.
If there is no merit in the suggestion of a voluntary council or convention of the people who manage newspapers, radio and television, I offer the suggestion that we could follow the line of the British Government and try to establish within these mass communication agencies a Press council to evolve standards which would ensure that matters affecting the national interest were properly presented. From matters to which Senator Ormonde has referred, 1 have gained the impression that a mischievous element is being given a free rein to publicise in a way that bedevils the whole idea of proper standards in this respect. Recognising, as I do, the difficulty in introducing compulsory censorship, from the point of view both of efficacy and control of the agencies of news dissemination outside Australia, I ask whether there is any way in which the Government can contribute to this national effort so as to make it effective and to get the people to understand that it is a rent national effort at a time when there is a national challenge. Can this be done other than by the calling of a convention to evolve the proper standards? If that is not acceptable, could there be a permanent Press council, such as there is in Great Britain?
– I do not feel competent to say whether there is any merit in the suggestion put forward by Senator Wright.’ I do not myself feel that there has been in the newspapers reporting of events in Vietnam which has reflected in any way upon the men in Vietnam or which has been harmful. Senator Ormonde put forward his view that casualty lists were making scare headlines when, apparently, they were not in his opinion big enough to justify scare headlines. But as far as I have seen, the reporting of the activities of Australian troops in Vietnam has been fair, interesting and accurate and it gave me, as I rend it, the feeling that we had there a battalion doing a rough and rugged job for Australia and that this was a national effort which the troops were carrying out.
– They always seem to give the impression that the forces are under poor management.
– I agree with that statement. I think that it is a matter of getting at the Government rather than at the troops. I am glad that the honorable senator cleared that point up because I think that the newspapers have been quite accurate in their reports concerning the troops. Of course, as Senator Wright mentioned, one would never want any instance of mismanagement not to be reported unless we were in the middle of a holocaust when the reporting could do some damage to the effort. But 1 do not think that that is the situation here. However, I shall ask the Acting Minister for Defence (Mr. Hulme) to put his mind to the suggestion.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Department of the Navy.
Proposed expenditure, £95,467,000.
.- 1 wish to refer to Division No. 664 under which appropriation is made for pay and allowances in the nature of pay for the Navy. I have to be very critical because I think the general attitude of the Government towards the Navy is complacent. 1 note that the total appropriation for the Department of the Navy or the current financial year is £95,467,000, as compared with expenditure of £68,004,077 for the previous financial year. Last year the appropriation for pay and allowances in the nature of pay was £.17,464,250 and the expenditure was £17,368,381. The appropriation for the current financial year is £19 million. Last year, the expenditure on salaries and payments in the nature of salary for civil personnel was £8,782,135. This year the appropriation is £9,424,000. At June 1965 there were 13,503 members of the Navy plus a naval reserve force of 4,500. An increase in strength of 1,405 is planned to take place in the current financial year. It is assumed quite definitely that it is not the intention of the Department to make any general increase in wages and salaries of serving members because, after allowance is made for general payments and salaries and wages of new recruits who enlist during the period, almost the entire difference between last year’s expenditure and this year’s appropriation is accounted for.
The Australian Labour Party has advocated that in order to obtain recruits for the armed Services, the Government has seriously to examine the adequacy of the present salaries and wages paid. We have also claimed that adequate repatriation and discharge benefits should be paid to servicemen. If Government supporters cared to discover the general feeling of members of the Navy at the moment they would find that morale has never been so low. Undoubtedly members of the Liberal Party would not have a great deal of association with these people although they have plenty of association with officers in the admiral and vice-admiral class.
– Cannot the honorable senator keep it clean?
– I am keeping it clean. Senator Sim can make his comments afterwards. The trouble is that he does not like the truth. I make the statement because I believe that, in the circumstances, it is impossible to get a proper picture of the conditions under which other ranks serve in the Navy today. It would interest members of the Government parties to inspect some of the establishments in which other ranks serve. It is true that H.M.A.S. “ Harman “ and H.M.A.S. “ Cerberus “ probably could be described as the show places amongst land based depots. However, the conditions under which members of the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service have to live at H.M.A.S. “ Penguin “, and under which Wrans and sailors have to live at other naval establishments leave much to be desired.
No real provision is made for the training of lads who join the Navy. It is true that there are vacancies in some specialist positions and some training has to be given for them, but there are many other cases where no training is given. A lad who devotes the best years of his life to service in the Navy for six to twelve years is not given proper training to fit him for his return to civil life. I suppose that some youngsters are attracted by the advertisements and the recruting posters, and perhaps some are moved by the normal Australian sense of adventure. After a year or- two, they find that the Navy is not what it was cracked up to be. When they leave the Navy in their middle or late 20’s they are completely unequipped to return to civil life. All they have to show are a few tattoos received at various ports. They have very little else to show. They may wish to marry and obtain assistance to get started in their new lives. We have to remember that these young men of about 25 years of age normally wish to marry and have a family. The Navy is not giving them the assistance it should be giving them.
Today in some naval depots there are waiting lists of people who have to wait for periods up to nine months to obtain accommodation. It is not fair to the young people the Government is seeking to recruit into the Navy. I do not know whether any honorable senator opposite has inspected Royal Naval House where a dozen young couples waiting for accommodation have to live in one room and are forced to poke around in a small kitchen containing a couple of tables and gas stoves, one of which does not even operate properly. Government supporters ought to inspect these quarters and then they may make adequate provision and attract recruits of the right type who will be prepared to make a career in the Navy.
Generally, appropriations for the Department of the Navy have been misspent over the years or have been inadequate. In the Australian fleet today there is only one aircraft carrier - H.M.A.S. “ Melbourne “. We were told by the Government in 1963 that “ Melbourne “ was to be put into dock for a major refit. Now the Government has discovered that only six months will be spent on refitting. I ask honorable senators to remember that this is the only aircraft carrier possessed by the Royal Australian Navy, and the only one likely to be possessed while this Government remains in office. In additon there is one Charles F. Adams class destroyer, three Daring class destroyers, four type 12 escorts, one battle class destroyer and six class ten minesweepers. Three submarines are on loan from the Royal Navy. Another two or three ships are in reserve and we have a number of support ships, many of which would be deemed inadequate for prawning by men who follow that occupation.
Looking into the dim and distant future, another Charles F. Adams class destroyer will be made available during 1965-66 and, further into the future, another such destroyer will be available. Over six years ago, the Government said that fixed wing flying would cease in 1963. But when 1963 came, the Government decided that the Venoms and Gannets would fly until the end of their service life in 1967. Now the Government has decided to allocate about £25.7 million to be spent on aircraft to operate from an aircraft carrier that is almost due for scrapping, anyway.
– But the aircraft are not.
– The aircraft are due for scrapping already. The Government is to buy 10 new Skyhawk aircraft and 14 patrol vessels, none of which would be fast enough to keep up with some of the patrol vessels currently operated by Indonesia.
– Who told the honorable senator that?
– lt is true. If the honorable senator searches the records, he will find it is true.
– It is not true.
– I am making the statement and I challenge any honorable senator opposite to disprove it. A few weeks ago the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Chaney) very smartly passed on responsibility for alterations to the naval Service to the Naval Board and said that this was the source from which the recommendations came. If the Minister has not the courage of his convictions, why must he hide behind the Naval Board? Is not this something similar to what happened following the “ Voyager “ tragedy? Responsibility had to be fixed somewhere then, so the Government picked a man who went down with the “ Voyager “ and made him the scapegoat? Then the Government thought that one scapegoat was not enough, and it sacked a leading naval man so that there would be enough scapegoats to relieve it of its responsibilities.
There are two points which I believe should be examined in great detail. The first is whether the funds allocated for the Navy are being spent in the correct way, and the second is that the wages and salaries of servicemen should be increased. Very little, if any, provision is made in this direction in these estimates. It is impossible to get exact details on this, but it appears that in the forthcoming 12 months the Government does not intend to increase the wages and salaries of the young people who are giving the best years of their lives to the Navy. In addition, the Government is making little or no provision for proper housing for young married couples. As human beings they have the right, just as we in this place, have the right, to establish themselves in life. During the last war the Labour Government of the day provided adequate housing for members of the Services. Now in peace time this Government cannot even match what we did then in this regard and in many other regards.
There are other comparatively minor things which irritate the young people. For example, young married couples cannot even get assistance to transfer their furniture from one city to another unless they have been married for a stipulated period or are moving a complete house of furniture from one place to another. Why quibble over minor things? Why not try to lift morale in the Navy and keep the young married people happy? These are some of the things which should be looked at now. I make a plea to the Government to look after the young people who are giving the best years of their lives to the Navy and ensure that the funds which have been allocated to this arm of the Services are not misspent in any way.
– I think I should answer some of the wild and unsubstantiated accusations that Senator Keeffe has made.
– I object to that, Mr. Temporary Chairman. The figures I have cited have been taken from the Government’s own records.
– I repeat that I think I should answer some of the wild and unsubstantiated statements that Senator Keeffe has made. One of these wild and unsubstantiated statements refers to the second Charles F. Adams class destroyer. The Committee will remember that Senator Keeffe said that looking into the dim and distant future, the Navy will be getting another Charles F. Adams class destroyer.
That dim and distant future is 18th December 1965, some 36 days away. The second destroyer will be commissioned on that date.
Another completely wild and unsubstantiated statement was that no training, or insufficient training, is given to young people joining the Navy. As is well known, there is in operation in Western Australia a junior recruit training scheme. At present the schooling of over 500 junior recruits is being continued while they are receiving their naval training. According to their ability, they have the opportunity to pass the matriculation examination and go on to the Naval College for officer training. If they do not reach matriculation standard, they are taken to the highest level of academic attainment that they can reach, at the same time being given full training in the branch of the Navy which they have selected. In addition we have H.M.A.S. “ Nirimba “, an apprentice training college at which over 500 apprentices are doing courses which have been fully approved by the trade unions. They come out of those courses with full trade qualifications and then they follow that trade, whatever it might be, in the Navy.
As for the allegation that morale is low, all I can say is that the present reengagement rate in the Navy is about 54 or 60 per cent., which is higher than it has ever been. If that is an indication of morale being low, it is a very strange indication indeed. Coupled with this is the fact that recruits are joining the Navy in ever increasing numbers. We heard some nonsense about aircraft being due for scrapping. I do not know to which aircraft the honorable senator was referring.
– He was speaking about the new ones, the Skyhawks.
– The Skyhawks are in full operational service today with the United States Navy in Vietnam. The Tracker aircraft coming into operation for anti-submarine work are modern and fully efficient aircraft for the purposes required. The helicopters at present in use have been in service for not more than two or three years. I have forgotten the exact period. The honorable senator also said that the Navy support craft would not be used by prawn fishermen or some such nonsense.
I do not know whether he has ever seen some of the support craft in service with the Navy. Has he ever seen H.M.A.S. “Supply”, which is one of the best 15,000- ton fuel replenishment ships in service? There are many others.
There is only one other point 1 want to make. Allegations of this kind probably need a statement of fact to rebut them, although they scarcely merit such a statement. I cannot be as definite on this as I am about the other things I have said, but I would be very surprised if the patrol craft being bought for the Navy had a speed which would not enable them to keep up with the patrol craft they would be likely to meet.
.- Australia is an island continent and it is normal for people to believe that an island continent should have a strong Navy. I could never understand what appeared to me to be the almost complete neglect of our Navy in the middle 1950’s. Therefore, I am very happy to see that the Navy is being given a shot in the arm. I am pleased with the allocation for naval construction and for aircraft. I think there is some criticism overseas of the Skyhawk aircraft, but at any rate we will try them out. Their acquisition has certainly pleased that section of our Navy which is associated with the Fleet Air Arm. I hope that the Government will be able to find a lot more money for this shot in the arm campaign for our Navy because, being an island continent, we must have a strong Navy.
However, I am a little concerned about one matter. I was very sorry when the Fleet Air Arm got a pretty tough deal some years ago, but I am happy now that the situation has changed and the Fleet Air Arm has been put again on a proper basis. But what of the future? I understand that H.M.A.S. “Sydney” is no longer used as an aircraft carrier. We have only “ Melbourne “, whose future life is limited to a degree. What are the Government’s intentions? What does it have in mind in relation to the acquisition of a carrier or carriers in the future? I know that the purchase of an aircraft carrier is a pretty tough proposition. I am told that these days a carrier could cost £88 million, so I can understand any government thinking twice about it.
However, if one reads the story of what is happening in Vietnam one learns that a great number of the air strikes which have been made with considerable success have been made by aircraft operating from American carriers. The American experience in Vietnam indicates that the carrier is still an extremely valuable instrument of war. When we consider the expense involved, we are inclined to shudder; but, on the other hand, the American experience seems to show that if you can afford carriers they are worth the expense. This is a difficult decision for the Government to make. No doubt it has been considering this matter. I do not know whether the Minister can give us any information on it. I believe that many of us would be interested in any information that he could give us.
Finally, I believe that there is some dissatisfaction in the Services with the retiring allowances that are available. Members of the defence forces still have a feeling that they are not getting as good a deal as the people in the civil administration of the Services. I hope that the Government will seize the opportunity to have a further look at the retiring allowances that are available to members of the defence forces. After all, these allowances must affect the recruiting rate. I hope that the Government will see whether it can give a better deal to these people who devote their lives to our defence.
.- I did not criticise the apprenticeship schools that the Minister mentioned. They are very good. There ought to be more of them. I was referring to the young people of 17 and 18 years of age who enter the Navy and, in many cases, are not given proper training. I did not criticise the Skyhawks at all. I did say - repeating words that the Minister himself used in 1959, I think it was - : that the Government had stated that fixed wing flying would end in 1963 because it was considered that the types of aircraft that we had would then be unserviceable. But what has happened? In 1963 the Government decided that the Sea Venoms and Gannets, which were then in use, would fly to the end of their service life in 1967. That decision was made after consideration of wing fatigue and various other technical matters. Those were my points of criticism: I believe that they are legitimate. I object to the Minister saying that my figures were unsubstantiated. They were all taken from government documents.
.- If Senator Keeffe, on the first occasion, did not say that no training is being given to youths who are taken into the Navy, I believe that everybody on this side of the chamber at any rate believed that he said it. In fact, I think he did say it. If he is now saying that he believes that proper training is given to apprentices in the apprenticeship schools and to the youths who enter the Navy through the junior recruit training scheme - in other words, if he admits that proper training is given to more than 1,000 young recruits - his sole criticism is that those who enter the Navy directly, and not through the apprenticeship schools or the junior recruit training scheme, do not receive proper training in any trade. That is purely a matter of judgment and I do not accept his criticism. I simply do not believe it to be true and I do not believe that he has taken his statement from any government document.
It is perfectly true that it was thought that the naval aircraft at present in use would be unable to fly after 1963. It is also perfectly true that in new examinations of wing fatigue it was found that they could do so perfectly safely. In fact, they are doing so. In any case, this seems to me to be not very relevant to the aircraft that are on order and are being provided; namely, the Tracker anti-submarine aircraft as a replacement for the Gannet, and the Skyhawk as a replacement for the Sea Venom. Actually, I did not hear Senator Keeffe quote any other figures. I heard only general and, I believe, wild accusations to the effect that aircraft were useless; that patrol ships would not go as fast as other ships; that morale was low; and that houses were not provided. I believe that on the figures I have given all of thoseaccusations are shown to be untrue.
I should like to make one other point, if we are to get these matters down to a basis of accuracy, as Senator Keeffe appears to want to do. I refer again to his statement that support ships would not even be used by prawn fishermen. I draw to his attention another ship of the Royal Australian Navy that I did not mention before. I refer to the most magnificent survey ship “ Moresby “, which would be a credit to any survey service or any navy in the world. I do not believe that we should denigrate the ships of our Navy in that way.
In reply to Senator McManus, I point out that it is believed that “ Melbourne “ will be able to continue in service until the latter half of the 1970’s. I cannot give an indication of what is likely to happen in the field of naval aviation between now and then. A whole lot of experimentation is going on now, for example, on vertical take-off and landing aircraft. If that experimentation were successful, it could revolutionise the entire design of ships that carry naval aircraft to sea. I could not look as far as that into the future. The other matter raised by Senator McManus - that of retiring allowances - of course, would be a matter of Government policy.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Department of Social Services.
Proposed expenditure, £9,935,000.
Proposed provision, £15,500.
.- I refer to the 2,878 members of the staff of this huge Department. As a member of the Public Accounts Committee, I have just taken part in a full and thorough survey of this Department and helped to produce a voluminous report on all aspects of social services. I pay my tribute to the officers of this Department. They are good officers; they are well-trained; and they are men of great ability. That is stated in the report of the Public Accounts Committee. The report also comments on the automatic data processing equipment which operates in the Department and on which the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Sinclair) has commented in other places.
I turn my attention to a comment made to me by Mr. Goodes, the Director-General of Social Services. He was concerned about adverse comments regarding the 1964-65 appropriation made for grants to eligible organisations for the provision of accommodation for disabled persons. I believe that this matter is of very great importance. This item was first included in last year’s Budget, when £150,000 was appropriated. Last year only £6,600 was spent. The Government suggested that departmental officers made so great an assessment believing that a number of organisations would be vitally interested in this work. As the Government correctly takes notice of the submissions made by departmental officers, I am hopeful that it will look into many other matters which these competent officers might suggest to the Government.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– I know that officers of the Department of Social Services must show great tolerance, patience and understanding towards individuals who come to see them, because many of these individuals are in desperate need. I note from the report of the Director-General of Social Services that last year there were 735,573 age and invalid pensioners. Some of those people are in desperate circumstances. Sometimes applications take a considerable period to be dealt with. This is a matter that departmental officers should examine very closely, because the delay places a great burden on the social welfare departments of the various States and particularly that of the State of New South Wales.
I have made protests before about certain aspects of the Department’s work. One is the position of the unfortunate Aboriginal people in our midst who from time to time apply for unemployment and other benefits. Often they are not treated in the manner in which they should be treated. The tolerance, understanding and patience that I mentioned before should be shown particularly to these people. I notice in today’s Press a statement that full award wages for Aborigines are assured. When this becomes a fact, these people will be treated by employers much worse than they are treated now. I hope that when they approach the Department they will get the benefits that they deserve.
Another matter relates to unemployment benefit, not only for Aborigines but also for others. If the letter of the law is applied and applicants are asked where they have gone for jobs and who has refused them employment, almost any applicant for unemployment benefit may be refused. I have learned of such cases and brought them to the notice of the. Department. I must say to the credit of departmental officers that they have always been most co-operative. However, it should not be necessary for a politician - senator or otherwise - to plead the case of these people in order that they might get their just deserts.
There are many ways in which the administrative officers can approach their work. The matter to which I am about to refer has been raised at various times in this chamber. On the last occasion it was raised by Senator Cohen. 1 refer to research into the social conditions of the underprivileged people in our community. There is a great deal of poverty in our midst. Despite the fact that we live in a very affluent era, there are pockets of poverty which are unknown to people who occupy high positions in the nation and it is the people in these pockets whose case I plead tonight.. Welfare officers of the Department should be able to advise on the rent paid by social service beneficiaries. There are many avaricious landlords and estate agents who demand increases in rent and force eviction of tenants. Then there is the question of the clothes worn by this huge army of 735,000 persons. As Chairman of the Australian Labour Party Social Services Committee, I have heard the pleas of these unfortunate people who have come to Canberra. They can get suits of clothes only at jumble sales. Because of the huge rents that many of them pay, they have only one full meal a day. These are matters on which the welfare section of the Department could report to the Government. The cost of living has increased tremendously and workers in industry demand increases in the basic wage to meet higher costs. The Commonwealth Statistician has reported that in the quarter ended June last the cost of living increased by 14s. a week and that in the quarter ended September last the increase was 3s. 6d. a week. We want to know the effect of these increases on pensioners. Why cannot the departmental officers, who advise the Government on other matters, provide information on the conditions under which pensioners are living?
Another matter raised in the Parliament by myself and in the Press by the Department relates to the 20,000 pensioners in New South Wales who forgot to apply for the increases provided in the last Budget.
I pay all the compliments possible to the departmental officers, but why can they not look at the half yearly statements of income furnished by these people, ascertain who is entitled to an increase and has not applied, and write to these people requesting them to make application? This information can be obtained, even if it takes a little longer than usual to look at income statements. When persons are underpaid they should receive the back money, because the Department has no hesitation in taking away benefits which it thinks pensioners obtained illegally. Recently somebody said that if a pensioner wins a lottery the Department does net take long to ask him to pay back money to which it feels he was not entitled. Not much extra work would be involved in ensuring that these unfortunate people received their entitlements.
The departmental officers ought to be looking at the matter of the means test. It is many years since the level of permissible income was raised. The Government might consider a -suggestion that appeared recently in the Press to the effect that, instead of reducing pensions by ?1 for every ?1 earned in excess of permissible income, pensions should reduce by only ?1 for every ?3 in excess of permissible income. The amount of permissible income is miserable enough.
Coming now to the supplementary allowance, there is a tragedy involved in this allowance not being paid to married couples who are paying off their homes. We know how such people are affected by council and water rates, repairs to their property, fire insurance and other forms of insurance and all the thousands of other little expenditures which are so necessary. Yet these people are denied this allowance by the Government of the day. If we of the Labour Party were the Government, we would deal with the matters I am raising. It is Labour’s policy to assist the needy sections of the community and remove the gross inequalities in living standards that now exist. I believe this Government ought to do something along these lines.
I come now to the provision of ?3,700,000 for the construction of homes for aged persons. On numerous occasions the Minister has said that any group of well meaning people who got together, provided they could get the approval of the Department, would be eligible to participate in the grants under the Aged Persons Homes Act. This is a commendable scheme. I have no quarrel with the Government on that score.
-(Senator DrakeBrockman). - Order! The honorable senator’s time has expired.
– Senator Fitzgerald led for the Opposition in the debate on the social services legislation arising from the Budget. Most of the matters he raised tonight he raised during that debate. Therefore, without wishing to be disrespectful to him, I do not propose to follow him through all those matters again. They are clearly matters which were incorporated in the social services legislation which was the result of the Budget proposals. The honorable senator has, however, raised a number of specified matters to which I think it is fair and proper that I should refer. For instance, he said that when we were discussing the social services legislation complementary to the Budget - and since then, at question time - reference was made to the fact that some 20,000 pensioners, who would be eligible for increased pensions as the result of the liberalisation of the means tests and other special concessions, had not made application for those benefits. He said that wide publicity should be given to the fact that there are increased benefits to be obtained by pensioners on application to the Department.
I understand that, as the result of the publicity initiated by the Minister, there has been an improvement in the position and that this trend is continuing. I point out - Senator Fitzgerald asked a question on this matter - that if a pensioner makes a claim pursuant to the provisions of the recent social services legislation before the end of the calendar year, the benefit will be paid retrospective to the first pay day after the date upon which the legislation received the Royal assent.
– As from June?
– Not from June, but from whenever the new benefit came into operation following the passage of the legislation. It would apply from the first pay day after the Bill received the Royal assent. If anybody claims a benefit up to the end of this calendar year, it will be payable as from that starting point. So it is imperative that everyone who -has a claim of this nature should make it before the end of this calendar year.
– Then there is only a few weeks in which they can make application?
– Yes. We had the Budget debate and the amending social services Bill, which was passed by both Houses and received the Royal assent. The extra benefits became payable on the following pension day. That is the day from which payments will be made to anybody who applies between now and the end of the calendar year.
– The financial year?
– No, the calendar year, which is somewhat different. Senator Fitzgerald referred to some comments made by the Joint Committee of Public Accounts, which examined the 73rd report of the Department of Social Services - comments on the estimates made under the Disabled Persons Accommodation Act. The Public Accounts Committee drew attention to some inaccuracies of estimating, not consistent with the normal ability of the Department to make fairly accurate estimates. The following comments in regard to the allegation of widely inaccurate estimating might be relevant. The Disabled Persons Accommodation Act came into operation on 25th November 1963, following an intensive campaign by groups of voluntary organisations interested in the care of disabled persons - a campaign which was directed at all political parties and involved representations to Ministers, senators and members and extended over a period of three years. Having regard to the strength of the campaign and the claim that accommodation for disabled persons working in sheltered workshops was an urgent need, the Department felt justified in assuming that a number of organisations would be in a position to take early advantage of any capital subsidy scheme and accordingly submitted an estimate of £150,000 expenditure for that year.
I think that is a fair comment. I know thai 1 received representations, and I suppose almost every New South Wales senator received representations from organisations in that field. I well recall that in one case in which representations were made to me, a husband and wife went on a barnstorming exercise and made representations to members and senators all over the country. Based on the average cost of a bed at that time under the Aged Persons Homes Act, £150,000 would have permitted the construction of accommodation for about 100 disabled persons. Bearing in mind the campaign for this assistance and the fact that 100 beds could have been accounted for in four or five projects, the provision of £150,000 did not seem at all unreasonable. It could have been deemed to be a conservative figure when it is realised that there are about 70 sheltered workshops conducted by some 50 organisations scattered throughout Australia. Following the introduction of the Act many inquiries were received regarding both the requirements of the Act and the action necessary to obtain the subsidy. However, only one firm application was lodged, and as the grant was approved at the end of June 1964 no expenditure was incurred during the financial year 1963-64.
Although the results to that date had been disappointing, it was reasonable for the Department to expect that, in the light of the campaign prior to the introduction of the Act and the extent of the inquiries received during the first six months of the year, a number of firm applications would be lodged in 1964-65. The fact that interested organisations had by then a number of months in which to prepare plans reinforced the Department’s expectations and accordingly a provision of £150,000 was sought in the 1964-65 estimates. It might be mentioned that this was a reduction on the previous figure, since the latter did not apply to a full financial year. On the basis of the results of the first two years and the information received in regard to the stage reached by several organisations in their initial planning, the estimate for 1965-66 was reduced to £35,000. I think this is a fair explanation. The organisations, in their own internal arrangements, have not yet been in a position to make firm claims on the money provided.
As I said at the outset, Senator Fitzgerald raised matters which are not related to the estimates of this Department. He referred to the rather broad issues he raised during the debate on the Social Services Bill 1965. With all the goodwill in the world, having regard to the problems with which we are confronted, I do not think 1 should be expected to reply to the points raised by the honorable senator.
.- Mr. Chairman, following on what the Minister has said in relation to grants to eligible organisations for accommodation for disabled persons, I wish to say that I have been very interested in the development of this scheme. I have followed the progress of the planning for accommodation for disabled persons. I read in the report submitted by the Director-General of Social Services that indications are that the initial planning of some organisations has reached an advanced stage and more grants may be made in 1 965-66. 1 feel that this may be contingent upon the provision of further sheltered workshops. I ask the Minister this question: If more grants are received in the ensuing year than can be covered by the appropriation of £35,000, will it be possible to make some arrangement to meet the grants?
I should like to refer also to grants to eligible organisations under the Aged Persons Homes Act. This item is to be found in Division No. 470, subdivision 3, item 02. - Homes for aged persons. I notice that the appropriation for 1965-66 is the same as the appropriation for 1964-65. namely £3,700,000, but that the expenditure in 1964-65 was £3,999,725. As the expenditure - and, I presume, the request for assistance for the establishment of homes for aged persons - exceeded the amount of the appropriation, I should like to ask the Minister whether the Department considers there is any possibility of this year’s appropriation, £3,700,000, being completely adequate to meet the demands that may come to the Department in the ensuing year. I feel that one should not lose any opportunity to express appreciation of the introduction of this excellent scheme by the Government. I read again in the report of the Director-General that when all current projects have been completed accommodation will have been provided for 20,420 aged people. This, I consider, is a very worthwhile piece of work that has been made possible by the action of this Government.
– Before resuming my speech from the point at which it was interrupted I want to disabuse the Minister’s mind and say quite definitely that I was not anxious to cause dissension over the appropriation concerned or with the Department. I considered that if the Government was prepared to accept advice on one score, it would be prepared to accept advice on the other matters which I have raised from time to time. I know that the Director-General himself has definite views in this respect. Personally, I am not objecting, because I think there are a number of organisations - in particular, sheltered workshops, subnormal children’s organisations and others - which ought to be allowed within the ambit of this legislation. These organisations should be able to take advantage of the provisions of the legislation which are, I think, very important. I rose in the hope that the Government would accept advice. I suggest there are other ways in which the Department might be able to help the Government and to advise on a number of other matters.
When my time expired, I was pursuing the matter of the Aged Persons Homes Act. I have no objection to this Act because the provisions contained in it existed previously in legislation introduced by the Labour Government. This legislation allocated certain moneys to the States for use in that field for special reasons concerning aged people. Homes were built in that way. That allocation has been cut out. The Aged Persons Homes Act was introduced. One group that ought to be allowed to build homes for aged people is municipal councils. For the life of me, I cannot understand why the Government, if it wants this work to be done in a proper way, will not allow municipal councils to build homes for the aged and infirm. I have raised also on a number of occasions in this chamber and also with the Department of Social Services a matter which interests trade unions in this field. During the debate on these estimates last year, the Minister pointed out that trade unions are eligible organisations to build homes for aged people under this Act. I would like the Minister to confirm that statement again on this occasion. The greatest encouragement possible must be given to all organisations which are providing housing for the aged.
Another matter on which I wish to speak again relates to grants to eligible organisations for accommodation for disabled persons. The appropriation for this item in 1964-65 was £150,000. I ask the Minister again to see whether funds can be made available so that centre industries and spastic and sub-normal children’s organisations will be eligible to apply for assistance. Last but not least, let me say to the Department that in certain States pensioners receive half fare concessions on the railways. I would like the Department to have a look at this matter to see whether this benefit could be extended as between the States so that pensioners could receive this advantage when travelling interstate. The cost involved in making this benefit available would be small. If this concession were introduced, old people who have relatives in other States would receive some advantage which they cannot secure at the moment from the paltry pension that is paid to them.
– Senator Fitzgerald has raised a number of matters which I will bring to the attention of the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Sinclair). I will do so because they are matters of policy in relation to the administration of the Department. The honorable senator expressed a view which he expressed in an earlier debate when he made reference to the Aged Persons Homes Act. Senator Breen also referred to this matter. The question of grants to local authorities to provide homes for aged persons is a matter of policy. But the Government takes the view that a local authority is a government authority and that a grant to such a body was not in the concept of the Act at all. The Aged Persons Homes Act is designed to encourage charitable organisations to assist in this fine work. The Act helps those organisations by providing assistance on a basis of £2 for every £1 of capital raised. Senator Fitzgerald asked also whether I would reaffirm what had been said previously in relation to the trade union movement providing homes for the aged. I can do that in these words: With regard to the extension of the Act to include trade unions, it is pointed out that provided the constitution of a trade union permits it, such a body would be an organisation eligible for assistance under section 5 (1.) (b) of the Act. Alternatively if a trade union chose to set up a trust for the purpose mentioned in section 5 (2.) of the Act, the trustee or trustees of such a trust could be deemed to be an eligible organisation. There is no doubt on that matter.
Senator Breen raised the question of what would happen to grants to eligible organisations for the accommodation of disabled persons if there was a sudden increase in the demand for these grants by the various organisations, in view of the fact that the appropriation for 1965-66 had been reduced to £35,000. If this occurred, it would be dealt with in supplementary legislation. The Department has regard to all the facts and makes a fairly accurate assessment of what the current financial requirements will be in this regard. The honorable senator felt some concern also because of the amount appropriated in relation to grants for homes for aged persons. Although the amount of £3,999,725 was expended in 1964-65 the appropriation for this financial year is £3,700,000. That is not a big difference. I am sure that the explanation I gave a moment ago would apply to this matter too. However, to deal with the specific reference, I point out that the amount in unpaid grants carried over from 1963-64 to 1964-65 was £2,546,630 and the amount granted during 1964-65 was £3,345,508. The payments made during the last financial year amounted to £3,999,725, which left an outstanding liability of £1,892,413 at 30th June 1965. It will readily be seen that one cannot put this amount into a watertight compartment. Obviously, at the beginning of a year there is a carryover of works and at the end of the year there is a further carryover. The, provision for 1965-66 for this item, therefore, must cover a substantial portion of this sum of £1,892,413 plus estimated expenditure against grants that will be approved this year. It is anticipated that the total subsidy approved for new aged persons homes grants will be around the same level’ as in 1964-65 and, having regard to the reduction in the outstanding liability, the expenditure for 1965-66 has been estimated at £3,700,000.
Proposed expenditure and proposed provision noted.
Department of Supply.
Proposed expenditure, £36,235,000.
– I refer to Division No. 773, Defence Research and Development Laboratories.
Although the proposed expenditure under this Division is approximately £464,000 less than the sum that was appropriated last year, there is a sharp increase in the proposed appropriation for some of the items that appear in subdivision 2 - Administrative Expenses and General Services. 1 refer first to the item “ Travelling and subsistence “. The proposed expenditure for this year is £175,000, whereas the appropriation for last year was £126,500. That seems to be a big increase. Can the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson), who is in charge of these estimates, offer an explanation of that increase?
The proposed appropriation for developmental and technical services is £306,000, whereas the appropriation for 1964-65 was £139,500. 1 ask the Minister whether he can explain this increase, too. There is to be an increase of approximately £40,000 in the payment for administrative services. Will the Minister kindly explain this increase as well? 1 come now to the item “ Project materials and contractor charges “. There has been a decrease in this case from an appropriation of £1,500,000 for 1964-65 to a proposed expenditure of £440,000 in this year. 1 am wondering whether this decrease has any bearing on a question about Woomera that was asked by my colleague, Senator Bishop, during the debate on the estimates for the Department of Works. So the Minister will get the true picture, I point out that on 20th October Senator Bishop said, as reported at page 1071 of *’ Hansard “-
I understand that the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall) has announced that Woomera might recede in importance to some extent and that a launcher site might be developed at Darwin. At present the Department of Works has a large staff in South Australia, and particularly at Woomera, where there are also a number of contractors operating. I am suggesting that if there is to be any reduction in the Department’s staff at Woomera, and a possible transfer of some of that staff to Darwin, the Government should plan accordingly. Will the Minister inform the Senate whether or not he believes that is likely to happen?
In reply, Senator Gorton said that he was not in a position to say whether or not there was any truth in the statement. I now ask the Minister for Customs and Excise whether there is any connection between the decrease in the item of expenditure I have referred to and the possible establishment of a launcher site at Darwin.
I come now to Division No. 782, Buildings, works, fittings and furniture. The same position might obtain in relation to Division No. 792, which deals with buildings, works, fittings and furniture under the control of the Department of Works. I ask the Minister whether any steps have been taken to ensure that homes have been built for men employed at Woomera who do not come within the category of tradesmen or people who have had specialist training. From time to time it has been brought to our attention in South Australia that there is no accommodation for married men who are only semi-skilled or unskilled, and their families. That seems to be one of the reasons why there has been a large turnover of labour at Woomera. Many married men who go there to obtain employment leave their families in Adelaide. However, when they arrive at Woomera they find that accommodation is not available for married persons. I realise that priority is given to providing homes for tradesmen and specialists, but I am wondering whether anything has been done to satisfy the demands of unskilled and semi-skilled personnel who go to Woomera to obtain employment.
– Senator Drury sought some explanation of the increase in the proposed expenditure on travelling and subsistence, developmental and technical services, and administrative services. The increased provision for these items is largely related to special project expenditure, some of which will be recovered and credited to Consolidated Revenue. That is the only information I have on those items. He referred also to the proposed expenditure on developmental and technical services and project materials and contractor charges. In respect of the expenditure on developmental and technical services, the increase is required chiefly to meet additional costs associated with the Royal Australian Air Force aircraft fatigue tasks and costs incurred by the joint project organisation on Australian projects not previously recovered. Regarding the question of payment for administrative services provided under Division No. 771, subdivision 2, in previous years the cost of services provided under this division have been charged partly to salaries and allowances in subdivision 1 of this division and partly to this item. Commencing this financial year the total cost is to be charged to this item and, in addition, other costs which were not charged previously.
In respect of the expenditure on project materials and contractor charges, there is no relationship between this item and the points that were raised by Senator Bishop. The provision in this item is to meet the costs for the Royal Australian Navy. Expenditure incurred in 1 955-56 on development for the Royal Navy will be charged directly to Division No. 786 - Other Administrations, Recoverable Expenditure.
In relation to the question asked by Senator Drury about housing at Woomera, this is carried out strictly on a needs basis. It is determined by the hierarchy of the Department in collaboration with the other departments involved in the area. That is the only information I am able to give the honorable senator at this particular time.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.
Proposed expenditure, £12,800,000.
Proposed provision, £645,000.
– In approaching these estimatesI want first to refer to the heading “Funds from other Sources “ on page 1 3 of the brief explanatory notes which accompany the estimates. I think that every honorable senator will agree when I refer to the tremendous saving that this Organisation effects in every facet of activity in Australia. But the matter which worries me is that while approximately £12 million comes to this Organisation from direct Government grants, a relatively small sum comes from other sources. The C.S.I.R.O. undertakes a tremendous amount of basic research, and what concerns me is the fact that, as a result of the basic efforts of the C.S.I.R.O., the laboratories of private industry are virtually free riders.
An infinitesimal amount of money comes into the Organisation from industrial firms, yet as a result of the basic research of the C.S.I.R.O., these firms are able to build up their own activities. I cannot help remembering that some weeks ago when the
Government was dealing with civil aviation - and I am using this as a parallel - it rightly felt that all the airlines should make a greater contribution towards the cost of providing airport facilities. I believe that that policy might be injected into the activities of the C.S.I.R.O. so that the organisations which benefit so much from the research that is carried out by the C.S.I.R.O, might make greater contributions to it. When one considers the massive amount of money that is spent on advertising in the tobacco industry - I often think that it is one of the luxuries of young countries like ours - one might think that the tobacco industry could in some way feed money back to the C.S.I.R.O. for the work that it has done on behalf of that industry.
Another point with which I wish to deal relates to research that is still to be carried out in some fields. If we could augment the revenue of the C.S.I.R.O. in the way I have suggested, one or two other targets could be achieved. I refer to some of the activities that have gone on in Canada regarding the effects of various pesticides. I believe that in New York State the authorities virtually vetoed the use of D.D.T. sprays in the forests because the toxic properties of the sprays could have very serious effects upon fish life. They have experimented with less toxic sprays in the hope that they will be able to overcome this problem. I have in mind an organic phosphorus spray called phosphamidon, which is only 1/ 250th as toxic to fish as is D.D.T., but which also was found to have some effect on the bird population.
I have not got a fixation about our wild life. I am looking at the human element. In Canada it was found that even minute particles of some pesticides were having an effect on ducks. I am posing these questions to the Minister so that they can be considered in the future activities of the C.S.I.R.O. In Canada, they have conducted bone tests on deer families to see whether they have been affected by radioactive fallout. We know that today the Southern Hemisphere is more likely to be affected by radioactive fallout than is the Northern Hemisphere. I wonder whether the C.S.I.R.O. is carrying out any tests in this field.
At page 91 of the annual report of the C.S.I.R.O. for 1964-65 there is a reference to the research that has been carried out in relation to the seal population in Antarctica. The report refers to the recolonisation of Macquarie Island and then goes on to explain how the seal population has been built up, in the following terms -
Rational exploitation could be effected without depleting the capital stock by harvesting a high percentage of the fat newly weaned pups, taking more males than females.
I am curious about this matter. Is the Government going to allow private operators to come into this field? We know of the inability of the nations of the world to reach agreement on stabilising whaling supervision. Will the Government invite tenders from organisations or companies which may wish to come in and carry on this business, or will it perform the operations itself? I am certainly not quarrelling with the technical advisers to the Government, but I am curious about the modus operandi to be applied.
Finally, I hark back to the question of pesticides. It is a matter that is worrying all the governments of the world. I am curious to know what the C.S.I.R.O. is doing in this field. We all take off our hats to the very dedicated officers of the C.S.I.R.O. As I pointed out to the Minister in my opening remarks, there are ways and means by which the Organisation can get greater revenue. I think that if that course is followed, perhaps some of the other targets which I mentioned will be achieved by the C.S.I.R.O.
– I refer to the item in the estimates dealing with scientific research liaison officers overseas. Knowing the importance of textile research, I ask the Minister whether this item is related to the textile research which, I understand, has been done in Europe, and whether we are co-operating with the European researchers in this direction.
– I am not sure that I understand the honorable senator.
– I was referring to the fact that the appropriation for Division No. 150, sub-division 2, item 02, has been doubled. I would like the Minister to explain the reason for the increase.
.- The answer to the last question is that the appropriation covers liaison officers of the C.S.I.R.O. in Washington and in other places abroad. In relation to what Senator Mulvihill said, I do not think he needs, in any way ever to make an apology for having at heart the well being of Australian wildlife, or for being disturbed at the effects of insecticides and pesticides, which have not been too greatly exaggerated in the book “The Silent Spring”. The C.S.I.R.O. is aware of this danger and its efforts are devoted toward finding some other way of controlling insect pests than by the use of quite dangerous insecticides which leave behind a residue. So far as I am aware, the C.S.I.R.O. is not doing any work on radiation fallout. It is being done by a special committee which reports to the Parliament from time to time. Senator Mulvihill also referred to the killing of male pup seals in the Antartic in order to keep the balance of the sexes. I would like to obtain a proper answer for the honorable senator and give it to him later.
.- I refer to the appropriation in Division No. 150, sub-division 3 for agricultural research into horticulture irrigation. The amount provided is £345,700,000. 1 would like to know what the C.S.I.R.O. understands by the term “horticulture irrigation”. An appropriation of £478,900 is made for agricultural research into tropical pastures.
– A typist’s error has occurred. The word “ and “ should appear between “ horticulture “ and “ irrigation “.
– I thank the Minister. As to research in tropical pastures, does the C.S.I.R.O. investigate methods of controlling pests in tropical fruit? What work is going on there? Recently I have read a great deal about the success achieved by the Organisation in the desalination of sea water. I cannot find in the estimates for the C.S.I.R.O. any appropriation for this work. Perhaps the Minister could advice me on what, success has been achieved and under which item an appropriation is made.
– While my advisers are getting some figures for the honorable senator, perhaps I could tell him that the main achievement of the C.S.I.R.O. in the field of water desalination has been to produce between 300 and 400 gallons of fresh water a day from saline water. The obvious application of this success would be to obtain drinking water in places in the dry areas of western, central and eastern Australia. The procedure followed is quite simple. A number of connected troughs about 30 feet long are set up side by side with water flowing through them. The water flows through open channels towards the top of a building. The water is transformed into moisture which condenses on a specially treated sloping plastic roof, runs down and is collected as fresh water. It is piped off from the end of the battery of buildings. The water is kept constantly moving and leaves no salt residue behind because it has only a small salt content. Experiments are being conducted in Western Australia and Queensland. The Division of Tropical Pastures has nothing to do with damage done to tropical fruits. This work is done by the Division of Entomology, particularly in fruit fly research.
Proposed expenditure and proposed provision noted.
– I suggest that the remaining divisions be dealt with together. The question is that the following proposed expenditures and proposed provisions be noted -
Department of Territories.
Proposed expenditure, £793,000.
Proposed provision, £8,200.
Proposed expenditure, £100.
Cocos (Keeling) Islands.
Proposed expenditure, £47,100.
Proposed provision, £67,000.
Proposed expenditure, £38,000.
Proposed expenditure, £12,802,300.
Proposed provision, £10,043,000.
Papua and New Guinea.
Proposed expenditure, £31,229,000.
Proposed provision, £168,000.
Department of Air.
Proposed expenditure, £108,649,000.
Department of the Treasury.
Proposed expenditure, £148,070,000.
Proposed provision, £2,136,800.
Department of External Affairs.
Proposed expenditure, £16,726,000.
Proposed provision, £849,500.
Economic and Defence Support Assistance to members of S.E.A.T.O. and Protocol States.
Proposed expenditure, £1,160,000.
Aid to India.
Proposed expenditure, £18,000.
.- I wish to speak generally to Division No. 896 and Division No. 898 in the estimates of the Department of Territories. Because of the limited amount of time available to me it is impossible to go into great detail. I am afraid that, again, I have to be critical of the Government’s attitude in relation to Papua and New Guinea. I think that the Government would do a very real service for Australia and the Territory if it sacked the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes). The Minister has been to New Guinea on only very brief visits. Unfortunately, on those visits there are many things that he does not investigate. When he is asked questions, he shows a strange reluctance to make any statement. On the one or two occasions that he has made statements for the Press, obviously he has got himself into very deep water.
I am critical because the Government appears to have adopted a spirit of paternalism towards the people of Papua and New Guinea, which is not conducive to establishing good relations or to creating an impression that Australia is vitally associated with the development of the Territory. A good illustration of this attitude is to be found in a statement made in the Senate a few weeks ago by Senator Marriott. He said that he had been to Papua and New Guinea and then used these words -
There was a luncheon room, I suppose you would call it, in Port Moresby, to which officers of the Service came for lunch. The native boys were the waiters atthe tables.
Why call them native boys? These people are human beings, the same as we are. The honorable senator went on -
Each item on the menu had a number. For example, soup was 1, the entree 2, the main meat dish 3 and so on. There were instructions on the menu that when the native boy took your order you reply: “Yes.” The native boys picked this up very quickly. That is a small but true illustration of how these people, if properly taught by Australians, will readily learn the skills which are required . . .
I submit that these people have an intelligence quotient equal to, if not superior to, that of Australians. If we adopt a spirit of paternalism we are neither being fair to the indigenes of the Territory nor to ourselves. While I have a number of vital points I wish to raise, time will permit me to mention only two or three of them. I will reserve the other points for a later time. I question whether the moneys allocated for Papua and New Guinea are being properly spent. Certainly there is no real attempt to see that the living standards of the indigenous people of the Territory are raised to proper heights. No real attempt is made to safeguard the indigenes against exploitation. Today private firms are still exploiting these people. Quite recently a research team was in the Territory. In the “South Pacific Post” of Friday, 29th October, these headlines appeared: “ Research man raps Moresby housing. Little done for Papuan.”
Those headlines are perfectly true. In another edition of the same newspaper an editorial referred to court-house accommodation. The court-house at Madang is little better, if it is as good, as some buildings used in this country for fowl houses. This applies not only to court-houses, but also to a number of other public buildings in major centres throughout the Territory. It is true that some progress has been made, but not enough, nor has it come fast enough. The wage hearing of the Public Service Association has been deferred until Monday, 13th December. The Public Service Association in Papua and New Guinea has many grievances. Members of the Association are employed by the Administration. In January of this year more people resigned from the Public Service in the Territory than had resigned in any previous month. This is symbolic of the dissatisfaction which is apparent in the Service.
Another crying need is to pay members of the House of Assembly an adequate parliamentary allowance. Members are elected for four years. When the next election comes around the working class member will not be able to nominate again because he will not be able to afford it. The parliamentary allowance that he receives is not sufficient to permit him to cover his electorate properly. These people are encountering many problems because of the high fare structure and the cost of travelling from one point to another in the Territory. Some electorates cover very remote areas. At present members of the House of Assembly receive a salary of about £900 a year, together with certain allowances. They have asked that members representing the more widespread and remote electorates be paid an allowance of about, £1,200 and that the allowance paid be reduced according to the locality of the electorates.
Some of the costs involved are outrageous. In the New Ireland open electorate the estimated total cost of making one complete tour of the island, which occupies about three months, is £1,070. Admittedly this is one of the bigger electorates. A work boat is available at a cost of £25 a day to travel from Kavieng to New Hanover and return. This area has a population of some 7,000 people and it is estimated that a minimum of four days is necessary to cover the area. At a cost of £25 a day, the member has to pay £100 to make this tour.
A work boat to Tabar Island is available at £25 a day. The island has a population of something like 1,600 people and it is estimated that a visit takes at least five days. This tour costs the member £125. I have a list of the costs involved in covering other electorates and on some future occasion I will take the opportunity to mention them in detail. However, I believe it is necessary to bring the position to the attention of the chamber at this stage so that the Minister may be activated to carry out an investigation of the position and to provide some relief.
It is estimated that at present only about 50 per cent, of the children eligible to receive an education are in fact being educated. A deputation from Papua and New Guinea recently visited the Parliament. One of the members representing the Chimbu tribe told me that the two things they needed most were money for education and money for health services. Recently it has been said that the people of the Territory are not capable of governing themselves. The time when these people will be capable of self government is much closer than most of us think. However, they will still need help and the obligation is on us to provide that help.
Certain sectors of private industry have said - this has also been told to me - that profits earned in the Territory are being returned to the Territory. Unfortunately only a portion of the profits is going back to the. Territory - that portion for which they believe they will get more than an adequate return. One firm which made this proud boast is returning its profits to the Territory by building taverns. Although there are plenty of drinking facilities and some eating facilities in the taverns, no accommodation is provided in them. The concentration is on selling high profit liquor. I have no complaint about that. The natives are human beings and they are entitled to partake of alcohol if they wish to do so. There should be no restriction on them but there should be some restriction on the people who want to exploit a developing country in this way. Last year I visited Rabaul. Because the local people had brown skins they were not allowed to drink out of proper drinking glasses. They were served their drinks in plastic glasses. Representations to the authorities at Port Moresby resulted in this practice being stopped.
A spirit of paternalism which emanates from this Government has been transferred to certain sections of the Public Service in Papua and New Guinea. However, in the main the public servants there are dedicated and genuine people who are trying to do something for the Territory and are making this their lifetime profession. There is a real need to provide some form of decent compensation for the public servants who have devoted many years - in some cases the best years of their lives - to the service of the Australian Government and Australia in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. I close on that note. There are many matters which need to be exposed and I will devote myself to them at a later stage.
Proposed expenditures and proposed provisions noted.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Motion (by Senator Henty) proposed -
That the Bill be now read a first time.
– I rise merely to indicate that two of my colleagues, Senator Devitt and Senator Lacey, propose to take advantage of the submission of the motion that the Bill be read a first time to make their maiden speeches to the Senate.
– Mr. President, I rise to make my maiden speech in the. Senate with what I believe to be a full consciousness and awareness of the responsibilities that I now assume together with the other 59 senators who with me comprise the Senate. At the outset, perhaps I should offer to the Senate some explanation of the fact that it has taken me some time to reach this stage in my parliamentary career. Initially, I hoped to deliver my maiden speech during the Budget debate. But, unfortunately, through mistiming, I missed the opportunity. So it has been necessary for me to wait until now. Although on a number of occasions during the consideration of the Estimates I was tempted to offer some objective criticisms of them, I felt that it would be desirable for me to refrain from following that course and to wait and deal with a number of matters which I believe are important and concerning which I hope to be able to offer some constructive suggestions to the Senate.
Before I proceed to do that, I offer my very sincere congratulations to the honorable senators who took their places with me on 17th August last and who have made what I consider to be extremely valuable contributions. In fact, I was forced to the conclusion - the very happy conclusion - that the affairs of the Senate will remain in very capable hands in the future. It would also be proper at this stage for me to offer thanks to honorable senators on both sides of the chamber for their generous advice and assistance to me in many ways over the past three months. I came here as a stranger, as we all do, with very little knowledge of the procedures of this place, of the general layout and so on of the Parliament and of the facilities that are available to members of the Parliament. I was somewhat overwhelmed by the extent of the advice and assistance offered to me right from the beginning. I am very grateful to all honorable senators for that. lt would also be proper for me to place on record my sincere thanks to the people whose work and endeavours during the Senate election campaign - this is going back a few months - made it possible for me to be standing here tonight delivering my maiden speech to the Senate. Those people are a wonderfully loyal band who worked tirelessly and without regard to their physical or financial wellbeing to ensure that the persons chosen to represent them in the Parliament of the nation were elected and so got the opportunity to do so. I am very grateful for their untiring efforts. I sincerely hope that I will prove to be a worthy representative. Finally, I should like to place on the record of this Parliament my sincere grit! i tudc to the members of my family who also assisted in no small way in making it possible for me to take my place here.
I want to deal first with the important role that is played by local government in general governmental activity throughout Australia, I had many happy years in local government service in Tasmania in an administrative capacity. During that time I had an opportunity to gain a deep understanding of the complexities of local government and, more importantly in the present context, an understanding of the many problems that confront it and of what enables it to remain a viable institution in the Australian scene. Many honorable senators will be aware of the role that is played by local government throughout Australia. In fact, many of them have served in one capacity or another in local government. I think they will agree with me when I say that the majority of councillors act in an honorary capacity or with very little reward for their services beyond, perhaps, the satisfaction of seeing their efforts and endeavours for their local community come to fruition at some stage or other.
Local government authorities, as the name suggests, deal with the local problems of denned areas. They have constitutional authority to perform certain works which are laid down in legislation. They cover a very wide range of activities. They deal with such matters as the construction and maintenance of roads and footpaths, the provision of water services including head works and the large capital works that are required for the reticulation of water throughout their districts, the installation of sewerage schemes, the general supervision of health matters in their areas, the provision, maintenance and development of recreation reserves and public halls, a general overriding supervision of such things as food and drugs, and a multitude of other functions which they perform and which are not laid down in any statutory form but which, because of their essentially local character, local government bodies are required to carry out in the interests of the people whom they serve.
This is a very large and wide-ranging responsibility which, in the overall assessment of governmental activity, is pushed into the background and is not truly appreciated. That is unfortunate because local government authorities consist of people who offer their services in a voluntary capacity, who in the main receive no remuneration for their services and who, I regret to say, in general receive very little recognition of the tremendous part that they play in the affairs of this nation. In fact, focal government is the form of government closest to the people. It is a day by day sort of government at the very doorstep of the people. In my experience, local government authorities always make a genuine endeavour to discharge faithfully, honourably and well the responsibilities that devolve upon them.
At present local government instrumentalities are going through a pretty torrid time. Their avenues of raising revenue are extremely limited. They have facilities for the levying of rates and minor charges for certain services that they perform. They are obliged to rely very heavily on Commonwealth and State grants of one kind or another. At the present time the grants that they receive from the Commonwealth and State Governments certainly help them to a very large extent. In fact, it could almost be said that without this aid’ many councils would not be able to perform the important functions that they have been set up to perform. Notwithstanding the present range of these grants, it is very difficult for local government authorities to do the things that they are obliged to do.
This position came about largely as a result of the expansion or boom in home building and the general development of urban areas after the Second World War. I recall that for a period after that war - until 1947 and more particularly until 1948 and 1949- when ex-servicemen were returning to their homes or marrying and building homes, very little could be done. This imposed upon local government authorities a great deal of additional responsibility in keeping up with the demand for services. At that period, however, it was possible to get loans from various lending institutions with reasonable facility. As time went on and as the demand on the available resources of banking institutions became heavier, local government authorities found themselves in the invidious position of having to go, frequently cap in hand, to the various lending institutions, pleading - I have done this myself on many occasions - for sufficient funds to enable them to carry out their responsibility under the law to provide the various services and amenities required by the people. This, to me, was an iniquitous situation to obtain in the realm of operations of a semi-governmental institution.
It often occurred to me - in fact, the suggestion has been made to this Parliament - that some provision ought to be made within the operations of the Commonwealth Bank organisation for the necessary funds to enable local government authorities to carry out the full extent of their borrowing so that their responsibilities to the community can be adequately and sufficiently discharged. I do not think that this would impose any great hardship on the Commonwealth Bank. After all, as I have mentioned, it is a semi-governmental institution. If these local government authorities were not carrying out their responsibilities - actually they are doing so in a wonderful way - these responsibilities would certainly devolve upon some other form of government; and I should think that it would be quite proper to expect the Commonwealth Bank, which is this nation’s bank, to be in a position - or, at any rate, to be induced - to provide the necessary funds to enable local government authorities to carry out their responsibilities in this regard.
In my opinion the time is fast approaching when home ownership will move into the realm of luxury, because people are forced to pay very high prices for blocks of land on which to build homes, and they are obliged to pay a great deal of money for the erection of homes. But it does not end there, because they have the costs of upkeep and maintenance of the properties to meet from time to time, they have exorbitant rate bills to meet, and they are called upon to provide funds for very many other things. I repeat that home ownership is slowly - but surely, I think - moving into the field of luxury. This ought not to be the case in a country like Australia. I earnestly suggest that in this field something should be done through the Commonwealth Bank to facilitate the borrowing of money by local government institutions to carry out this responsibility.
The general attitude suggests a lack of appreciation and understanding of the financial limitations of local government. These have many side effects and, I suggest, most undesirable ones, too. Where a council is faced with financial stringency, it is natural that it will endeavour to cheesepare in the expenditure of money on essential works. Very often it is forced into a position of being unable to plan sufficiently far into the future for the works that it undertakes. This pans out ultimately to be most uneconomic. I have known of many councils - no doubt many other honorable senators know of this situation - which have installed water schemes and sewerage schemes, working on limited finance and on the presumption that a makeshift will suffice for a number of years to come. Within a relatively short period, the councils have found that those works have had to be duplicated. There is then a complete duplication of the expenditure undertaken in the first instance, and often the additional expenditure is far greater. This sort of thing leads to a most uneconomic form of local government and it adds to the cost of local government. The councils ought to be taken out of this penurious position, which means that many of them are completely unable to plan sufficiently far into the future the works that they are obliged to undertake.
This leads me to a consideration of the position regarding allocations of petrol tax funds. At present revenue from petrol tax amounts to about £80.5 million a year. Under the last Budget an additional tax of 3d. a gallon was levied on the sale of petrol, and this is expected to produce a further £25 million, so we now have an expected income from petrol tax in the vicinity of £105 million a year. Very substantially less than half of this amount is turned back into the construction of additional roads. It is my view, Mr. President, that one of the effects of this is to hold back the development of this country. I know that the Government has set out to raise additional revenue for the important purpose of providing adequate funds for the defence of this country, and I completely concur in any steps that the Government takes to set up a proper defence system for Australia, because 1 think it is essential. If any censure should be levelled at the Government, it is because of its neglect to carry out this essential part of its duty and responsibility to Australia in past years.
If these funds are to be allocated for additional defence measures, surely the provision of adequate road systems in Australia for a multitude of reasons is an essential part of any defence system. I make that statement quite deliberately, because I thoroughly believe it to be so. It is essential for the proper and adequate defence of this country that we have facilities for adequate and quick transportation services. While 1 am talking in this vein, let me refer to an article which pleased me quite a deal and which appeared in an Australian Automobile Association Federal Newsletter which was dated, I think, 1st November. It reads -
The new Chairman of the National Association of State Road Authorities, Mr. g. b. d. Maunder, stated recently that Australia will need over £3,000 million to meet its minimum roads needs in the next tcn years. He said that if allowance was made for cost rises based on present trends the total amount was expected to be more than £3,600 million. The Association expects a cash deficiency of at least £1,100 million which could mean £1,500 million if costs rise.
This is the assessed cost of carrying out a national roads plan.
When we talk about decentralisation, my thoughts immediately go to the role that could be played by local government authorities in enabling this concept to be given effect. I suggest that people want to live in areas where modern facilities and amenities are available to them. It is essential, I believe, that municipal authorities should be able to provide modern facilities and amenities which would make the lives of people who go into outer areas away from large cities more reasonable and more pleasant. But I firmly believe that in this modern day and age people are inclined to gravitate towards the more populous areas because of the many facilities there, which go beyond the range of anything that local government could provide. They gravitate towards centres where modern facilities and amenities are available. One of the ways in which this can be overcome, I suggest, is by making a start somewhere with decentralisation. It is essential in the interest of the proper development of this nation that somewhere, at some time, a start be made towards putting into effect our view - which I have heard stressed all over the place, irrespective of party - on the important question of decentralisation. I feel that because of the complexities of the operations of the Commonwealth Government and the preoccupation of the State Governments with their many responsibilities, there is probably an unconscious inclination on their part to say: “ The municipal councils do not seem to be doing too badly. We will let them go along as they are.” Frankly, I do not think this is good enough. I believe we have a responsibility in this regard.
After all, local government, State Governments and the Commonwealth Government are all forms of government. We all have our own areas of responsibility. I think that if the Commonwealth, the States and local government can work in a spirit of co-operation, a great deal more can be done by local government to provide some of those things which will induce in people’s minds approval of the concept of decentralisation. So great have the problems of local government become that an inquiry has recently been carried out in Tasmania - primarily, I think, to determine the basis of administrative and operational costs. That committee went into the financial affairs of all local government bodies and councils throughout Tasmania. I have not yet had an opportunity to study in detail the report which resulted from that inquiry, but I believe that the main basis of the committee’s concern was that the costs of administration are of such a high order that it has now been suggested that the number of municipalities in Tasmania be cut from something like 39 to 15. This has been done on the basis of the inability of the councils to carry out their proper functions, they have not the money with which to do so. The administrative costs of the smaller councils are extremely high.
But I think that all too frequently sight is lost of the fact that councils assume far more responsibility than is laid down by the law. If they reverted to a condition where they merely did what was stipulated in the Local Government Act and stuck strictly to that, the people in their areas would wonder what had happened. But councils cannot do that sort of thing. There are in their local areas so many things which councils must support and involve themselves in that this adds to the cost of administration and a council is ultimately punished because it is carrying out work which is beyond the normal range of its duties. If a local authority carries out work beyond the normal range of its duties, that should be considered a commendable thing. Rather than that the council should get the cane because it has not a viable economy, it should be commended for endeavouring to discharge, responsibilities beyond the normal range. But this adds to costs. I sincerely hope that honorable senators will take note of the one or two observations I have made, and of the reasons for which I have made them. Perhaps, when I resume my seat, they will be more aware of the responsibilities, problems and frustrations of local government organisations throughout Australia and will be moved at least to a spirit of sympathetic understanding of these problems.
We may see the time arrive when the Commonwealth Government can be induced to make a far greater proportion of the petrol tax funds available to local government authorities than is now the case so that they can properly discharge their responsibilities and obligations in the construction and maintenance of country road systems in their areas. The cost of operating a motor vehicle at present over these sometimes wretched roads is very high. This is not something that happens only in Tasmania. It occurs all over Australia. If one calculated the cost of maintenance and upkeep of motor vehicles operating over these roads, I think it would be found to be ten times cheaper in the long run, looking at the overall picture, if local government authorities and other road making and maintaining authorities were given sufficient funds to put the roads in proper order.
I want now to put before the Senate something which has puzzled me for a long time and continues to puzzle me. I refer to the wage fixing policies that operate throughout Australia. I suppose our system of wage fixing has come down to us through a process of evolution. We have now reached the stage where wage and salary earners in Australia are subject to the decisions of various arbitration tribunals, courts or commissions, as the case may be. It has always struck me as being odd that in an enlightened community it is considered to be proper to insert an upper limit in the awards which govern the earning capacity of people in industry, but not proper and in fact completely incorrect to impose a limitation anywhere else in the economy. I think that the wage factor in the gross national product is at present something like 51.2 per cent. More than half the gross national product is made up by the wages of approximately 70 per cent, of the people in Australia. I think one can then conclude that the other 30 per cent, of the community are receiving something like 48.8 per cent, of the gross national product - in other words, the lion’s share. I feel that it is not incorrect to place some type of restraint on this sort of thing, provided it is done fairly. In my discussions with working people in industry throughout the Australian community, I have not heard anybody complain bitterly about the concept that it is proper to impose at least some sort of limitation on wages and salaries, provided that we go the whole hog and impose a similar limitation on the other factors which go to make up the total of the gross national product.
Shipping freights represent a fairly substantial part of the gross national product. Restrictive trade practices are another consideration. I am happy to say that a Bill is before another place which will do something to curb restrictive trade practices. Excessive profiteering and things of that nature go to make up the other 47 per cent, of the gross national product. But why is it appropriate to impose this limitation on a great proportion of the people and leave absolutely free, without restriction or control, the other factors which make up the gross national product? Nobody has been able to explain this to me yet. I sincerely hope that somebody will be able to explain it to me.
As a result of the policy of wage pegging, the stage has been reached where a responsible Commonwealth Minister suggests that a wife should go out to work. I was deeply impressed with the comments which were made by Senator Cavanagh during his address on the Budget when he referred to the family unit as the very basis of our society. With this statement I am in complete agreement. It ought not to be necessary for both husband and wife to have to go to work in order to earn sufficient to keep their home going. I believe - I am perhaps a bit old-fashioned in this view - that a mother’s place is with her family and that the moulding of the character and the very future of children in families rest to a very large degree with the mother. This responsibility to a family unit cannot be discharged if the mother is compelled to go out to work. This is a bad position. I sincerely hope that this country has not arrived at the stage where both husband and wife are forced to go out to work so that their family may carry on and pay its way.
The suggestion that we have never been better off has been made on many occasions. In the broad sense this may be true. I am not going to argue that point. But I do say that much of the prosperity to which people refer when they address themselves to this question is illusory. I say so because the people who live in the social conditions which we enjoy in Australia today are compelled to resort to hire purchase to enable them to keep up with the Joneses, as it were. We find the position - I think this is quite a dangerous situation - where working people are compelled to commit their earnings in the future, regardless of whether they have a future or not - and we never know this - to pay for something which is required in the social conditions of today. In a proper economy and in a properly ordered society it ought to be possible for the father, the breadwinner of the family, to provide for his family, while his children are growing up and going to school, and to discharge his legal responsibility to them.
The net result, I suggest, of the present system of wage fixation is one which places our ability to trade overseas in some jeopardy. Year after year the salary and wage level of the Australian community has been reduced. The judges who pronounce on these matters in the industrial courts and commissions say that wages do not set prices and wages are in pursuit of costs and prices. I believe this to be so. I believe it is quite proper for the trade union movement to say: “ We are going to insist that our members do not suffer as a result of rising costs and prices. We insist also that our members ought to be able to gain some benefit from time to time from the increased productivity of this country which they, by their labours, married to the materials which are available here, create “. I believe, Mr. President that somewhere along the line we have gone astray in this regard. I believe in Australia for Australians. Any product that comes from the labours of the people of this country ought to return, in some measure, greater benefit to the people who in fact created it.
I may be unsophisticated and perhaps naive about this matter but I think that when it is essential to lift wages in order to try to match increased costs and prices because of the way in which our arbitration system operates, all we succeed in doing is to place this country at an even greater disadvantage as a nation that sells its goods in the markets of the world. I do not know - I may be quite wrong - but I am pre? pared to put my position and my views on this matter. Under the present system, immediately a quite justified wage rise is given to wage earners - in fact, even before it is received by the people who are entitled to it - there is a move to increase the costs and prices of all the goods which people require to enable them to carry on life in their homes, in other words, the necessaries of life. The prices of those goods are increased immediately, so no benefit whatsoever is received. Surely, in the course of the consideration of the Restrictive Trade Practices Bill which is likely to come before us during this session, some thought should be given to this nonsensical position in which all we succeed in doing is to place this country’s trading potential in greater jeopardy.
Australia is one of the first dozen trading nations of the world. It is essential for us to be able to continue to sell our goods on world markets. But the present system to which I have referred is a distinct impediment to our continuance as a trading nation. This leads me to another point with which I wish to deal in my address. This is the question of shipping freights, costs and so on. I was pleased to read recently of an apparent change of heart on the part of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) regarding the establishment of an Australian overseas shipping service. I believe, Mr. President, that we suffer greatly as a result of not having our own overseas shipping service. This is a great handicap to Australia. It is conceivable that, in the way we pay freight on goods which we send overseas, we are assisting to finance the shipping of goods from countries from which ships that we use come. I may be incorrect in saying this, but it is my view that freight rates are so high on goods which we are exporting that a certain proportion of the amount which we pay to ship goods from Australia must be going towards the cost of shipping goods out of the countries with which those ships trade. If this is the case, the sooner we make a thorough investigation of the possibility of establishing our own overseas shipping line, the better it will be for us.
In the last few days a position has arisen that must affect Australian meat producers, meat exporters and exporters generally. In a quite arbitrary fashion, I suggest, one of the conference lines - the Pacific conference line - decided to increase freight rates on meat shipments to the American market. It decided to increase its rates by 10 per cent, as from 1st October with the threat - and I suggest it is a threat - that as from 1st April of next year 17 per cent, would be added to the freight rates. I do not know how, in the present context, the Australian meat industry can stand this impost.
I am very pleased to be able to say that my observations have led me to the conclusion that an alternative shipping service is now on offer to those who handle our shipments of meat to the American market. This offer is based on the charges that obtained before the rise of 10 per cent, was implemented by the Pacific conference line. This shipping service has been initiated by Israel, a country with a population of approximately 2 million people. But we, a great nation of 11 million people occupying an area of 3 million square miles, cannot provide our own overseas shipping service. We are in the hands of overseas interests at a time when it would be proper for us to provide our own national overseas shipping service. It is essential to our industrial development, and particularly to the development of our primary industries, that we should proceed with all haste to establish such a service. I am delighted to note that once again the Federal Treasurer has supported the suggestion that was advanced years ago by the Australian Labour Party.
Now I want to deal briefly with the part that is played by agriculture in our overall economy. During the last three years there has been a considerable increase in our primary production. Indeed, farm production has increased by 46 per cent, over the last 10 years. That is a quite spectacular result, particularly when we consider that we are moving from being an almost wholly primary producing country towards being an industrial country. This performance beats that of the United Kingdom, (he United States of America, Canada, New Zealand and the countries of the European Economic Community. A great deal of the credit for this performance must be given to our primary producers. Indeed, until a relatively few years ago, the development of Australia was almost entirely dependent upon the output of primary industry. Primary industry has, to a very large degree, financed the secondary industries of this country. Although we are becoming more industrially minded, we should not lose sight of the fact that primary industry has played, and is continuing to play, a tremendous part in the development of Australia.
We talk about decentralisation. We ought to take a good look at the position of the Australian primary producer and try to realise much more broadly than we do some of the disabilities and difficulties under which he works. For the moment let us disregard the fact that he lives in an outlying area where he has not immediately available the various facilities and services which I referred to a while ago as being available to the people of urban and suburban areas. He is subjected to the difficulties associated with seasonal conditions, some of which we are observing at the present time. If he is a producer of one of certain commodities, he cannot be certain about the price he will obtain for his product or whether he will be able to pay the cost of producing it. Generally speaking, I suppose farming is one of the greatest gambles a person can possibly take.
I refer to shipping difficulties, particularly as they affect Tasmania. Being placed as she is, Tasmania must rely to a very great extent on transportation services, particularly shipping services. I have in mind the Tasmanian potato growing industry, which still operates and which a few years ago was of very great importance to that State. We produced an excellent product in the form of the Brownell and the Bismarck potato, and we had a very good market in Sydney and Newcastle. I shall not go into the intimate details, but largely because of the inadequacy and irregularity of the shipping service from the north west coast of Tasmania we lost a substantial part of that market. I know from my own personal experience that on occasions we had three ships taking 60,000 sacks of potatoes from the north west of Tasmania and landing them at the Sydney market, with the result that the price of potatoes, which was negotiated from day to day, was depressed. That was the position in which the farmers found themselves after planting the crop, nurturing it, spending money on superphosphate, tilling the ground and digging the crop. That sort of thing is just not good enough.
Our primary industries are still subject to the vagaries of the shipping service. No really concerted effort seems to have been made to rationalise this business. Farmers are no more certain now than they were a few years ago of an adequate and regular shipping service to take their goods to the markets that they normally serve. This is very largely so in relation to the Tasmanian timber industry, particularly in the northern part of the State. Representations are being made from day to day and from week to week in an effort to obtain a shipping service that will enable the producers of timber products in that area to retain their market. Unless regularity of supply to customers in Sydney or in other parts of the Commonwealth is assured, very soon the market will be lost and another quite valuable industry will be lost to Tasmania. Tas mania is not a large State. It has not a very strong economy; it has not very great resources of finance. It is absolutely essential that we Tasmanians in the Senate - I am very happy to be able to say that this is happening - should fight as hard as we possibly can to retain the industries that we have and that we should do all we can within the limits of our powers to ensure that wherever possible those industries are extended. The potato industry certainly is going along, but there is great doubt in the minds of farmers about whether or not they should plant potatoes this year.
In recent years there has been developed in the north west of Tasmania a very valuable cash crop in form of canning peas. To a very large extent the growing of this crop has taken the place of potato growing, which formerly provided a very handy source of income to farmers who were engaged in dairying and so forth. For the reasons I have mentioned, the potato industry has declined. We grew a very good product which was acceptable on the Sydney market and which was sought quite frequently. Prices went up and up until three ships came in out of the blue, as it were, the market was flooded and prices fell.
I wanted to deal with certain other matters, but time has gone by and I must conclude. I sincerely hope that it will be possible for me to deal with these other matters at a later time. I know that it will be possible for me from time to time in the course of consideration of the matters that come before the Senate to offer what I hope will be constructive criticism of things which I consider to be wrong and to offer alternatives where, in my opinion, I consider things are wrong. Naturally, I have a great love and regard for my own State of Tasmania. I hope that I will be a worthy representative of that State in the Senate.
In conclusion, I say that it is my earnest desire to serve the Senate faithfully and well during my time here, whether it be long or short. I earnestly trust that nothing I do will bring dishonour or discredit upon this place. I offer, for what it is worth, whatever abilities I may have so that the government of this parliamentary democracy may be pursued in the highest possible interests of the people of the nation.
– Mr. Acting Deputy President, I want to echo the sentiments expressed by my friend and colleague, Senator Devitt, regarding the warm welcome that we received when we entered the Senate on 17th August and were sworn in as senators to serve the State of Tasmania. I recall most vividly the hand of friendship that was offered me by the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) when we went around the table to sign the necessary documents. I regret very much to learn that his absence is due to a rather grave illness. I hope we shall see his return to office within the near future. Senator Paltridge has a very tough portfolio to administer. It was significant that the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) saw fit to travel to Western Australia last week to discuss with Senator Paltridge the various matters that must be discussed at that level. As we have had no report since the Prime Minister’s return, I hope that Senator Paltridge will soon regain good health and be with us again. I know this is repetition, but that is the way I feel about the matter and I thought that I should say those things.
The friendly atmosphere in the Senate has surprised me. Of course, I have been in politics in one way or another all my life. There have been times when political opponents have seen fit to shun me. I have always wondered why we could not greet one another despite our political differences. The friendliness in this chamber is a really worthy example of the Australian sentiment simply expressed as mateship. I know that when making a maiden speech it is not a good thing to be provocative, and I do not intend to be provocative beyond the limits of what I must of necessity say on one or two subjects. The simplest of those subjects will be the matter of social services, which was discussed in the chamber earlier tonight. Down the years I have concerned myself to a very large degree with this particular aspect of our national life. I want to draw the attention of the Senate to some of the anomalies that I know exist in this field.
I would like sympathetic consideration to be given to an aspect of social service administration which should concern the State Directors of Social Services. I am not going to be critical of the Director of Social
Services in Tasmania. Down the years I have endeavoured to have special consideration given to urgent distress cases. I have sought immediate relief in such cases. Sometimes I have been able to get through to the Director, but not very often. Some of his subordinates have told me that the Director is not clothed with authority to make grants for special needs. I know that this is not so. I have challenged it on occasions. I take the opportunity of bringing this matter before the Senate in the hope that people who are placed in a position similar to that in which I have been placed down the years will know that the Director of Social Services in each State has discretionary powers. I hope that we will be able to combine in an effort to alleviate some of the suffering that we come across from time to time.
I want to refer to three cases that have come to my knowledge and in which I have endeavoured to have relief granted. The first case relates to a wife and three children. Her husband, during his spells out of gaol, was a very good worker. When he was not in gaol his average earnings were about £21 per week. But he regarded that money as being his own possession to enable him to gamble and drink. He finally deserted his wife. He left her with a bill for £16 for lighting and power, which was due to the Hydro-electric Commission, and a bill for £24 for arrears of rent. Immediately we became aware of this matter we approached the State Social Welfare Department. Some immediate relief was given. There were other sources that we tapped. We were able to get this good lady about £8 to £10 per week.
At this stage the Commonwealth Department of Social Services had not been consulted. We realised then that the rent bill and the other account had to be met. We were not able to do anything about that. We had to go to charitable organisations in an endeavour to get money so that the electricity could be reconnected. Of course, it had been cut off when the bill was not paid. But we ran into a dead end. I would like the Minister to tell me whether or not we could have had recourse to some special grant from the office of the Commonwealth Department of Social Services in Hobart. When we made an approach to it we were not able to obtain assistance. That is an untenable position for a wife, whose husband has deserted her and who is trying to bring up three children.
The second case relates to an invalid pensioner with a wife and three children. For two weeks his income was sufficient to enable them to live in reasonable comfort. But by the third week they found it extremely difficult to keep sufficient food in the cupboard and to meet their current commitments. When it came to paying off power and lighting and other necessities, they were in a hopeless position. Invariably, in the third or fourth week they found it necessary to make approaches for some relief. There are organisations that provide relief, but I should imagine that if a responsible person or organisation were able to produce evidence to the Commonwealth Director of Social Services, he should be in a position - and I understand that he is, in the final analysis - to afford some immediate relief.
The third case concerns a man with a wife and two children. He is in receipt of the unemployment benefit. Because he does not enjoy that position, he got a job. It was not a matter of supplementing his income; it was a matter of having an income commensurate with the needs of his family. At the end of one week, his employment cut out. There was no further use for him. Once again he found it necessary to apply for the unemployment benefit. Two weeks elapsed after the application was made before he received any payment. He really penalised himself by going to work. I do not suppose he would have gone to work if he had known that the job was to last for only one week. A penalty is imposed on a man who tries to help himself. I think an immediate payment should be made to people who find themselves in such predicaments.
Anomalies exist in the granting of social service benefits, in many respects. The line of demarcation between those persons who are eligible and those persons who do not qualify, under strict interpretations of the Act, is so finely drawn as to create injustice which leaves many people bitterly disappointed and most critical of the officers who administer the Act. There should be some elasticity of interpretation so that relief may be granted for necessitous cases. I would very much appreciate it if the
Minister would give consideration to the cases I have mentioned and take action to place us in a position where we may be able to offer some assistance to these people.
I wish to refer now to another aspect of unemployment relief which relates to persons who are discharged from prisons. 1 refer particularly to short term prisoners. For the past 15 years I have been the president of a gaol visitation committee that has dealt with the problems of prisoners, while in prison and after discharge. We have found that almost invariably prisoners on discharge have no funds. There are rare occasions when some prisoners are discharged who accumulated substantial bank deposits before they were taken to prison. Such people are all right, but many others coming out of prisons must wait for at least a week, and sometimes for a fortnight, before they receive their first payment of unemployment relief. We find such people employment and accommodation and provide clothing for them. Perhaps some of them have had success in a sense, by devious means of gaining funds. In times when they are in need of money it would not be hard for them again to resort to those methods. I suggest to the Government that it might be well to consider making application forms available in prisons. I have been told that there are impediments to making forms available so that prisoners may apply for unemployment relief while still in gaol. However, I have discussed this matter with many committees and I believe that application forms could be taken to gaols a fortnight prior to the release of prisoners so that on discharge unemployment relief for one or two weeks could be paid. This would help very materially. Such payments could be made on a return basis, possibly by deductions from wages. Prisoners awaiting discharge could sign agreements to return the payments advanced to them. I think the cases I have mentioned are worthy of consideration. I trust that they will prove to be so in the minds of the people who administer the social service legislation.
I wish now to refer to the supplementary rent allowance as it affects widows who are left with a home which they are buying by instalments and who are not eligible for the supplementary rent allowance. I would like some consideration to be given to such widows to determine whether they may be paid the supplementary rent allowance. The allowance has now been increased to £1 a week. I wish also to raise the matter of inmates of government homes. I have in mind the case of an inmate of Gellibrand House at Newtown, a suburb of Hobart. This gentleman came to me and made it clear that he was speaking only for himself, and not for the other inmates of the home. He said that he had no authority to speak for anybody but himself. He resented the fact that out of his pension an amount of £3 1 6s. 2d. was being deducted. When his pension was increased by 10s. he expected that the increase would be paid to him and to the other people in the home. St. Johns Park Home is a similar institution in Hobart. This gentleman was bitterly disappointed when he found that the increase of 10s. was not to be paid to him. He saw the accountant of the home, who told him that the payment of 10s. was being denied to the pensioners at the request of the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Sinclair). That poses another question for the Minister. I hope that he will be able to enlighten me on that matter.
Yesterday I asked a question of the Minister for Works (Senator Gorton) who represents the Acting Minister for Defence in this Chamber. In his reply the Minister referred to a question on the notice paper. Some questions remain on the notice paper for very lengthy periods. About five weeks ago, the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate, the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) referred to question No. 377 which had been on the notice paper since 23rd March 1965. He said that if the question required an answer, the provision of an answer had been too long delayed and he would seek one. If an answer was not forthcoming he said that he would have that question deleted from the notice paper. It is still on the notice paper. That brings me to another question relating to defence, of which notice was given on 24th August 1965 by Senator Cohen. That question remains unanswered.
The point I make is that if questions are asked, and they are deemed to be legitimate questions seeking information, they should be answered within a limited period. My suggestion is that the period within which they should be answered be one month. Questions should not be deleted from the notice paper unless an answer has been supplied. 1 do not know what will happen to my question which has a bearing on the Mount Isa strike.
– Nor do I.
– Senator Branson would be most interested in the reply to that question. It remains on the notice paper. I do not think that is a good way to do business.
This brings me to a question I asked yesterday about Vietnam. I shall read the question and the reply by Senator Gorton so that I can then proceed with my remarks in relation to this and other questions which remain unanswered, particularly questions relating to Vietnam. My question yesterday was in these terms -
By whom, where and when was a declaration of war made on behalf of the Commonwealth of Australia in connection with Vietnam? Was the Commonwealth Parliament given an opportunity to support or reject such a declaration? If not, why not?
Senator Gorton replied to me in this way -
This question seems to be based on the same kind of legal approach which we had in the form of a question from Senator Murphy previously. The basis of it is a belief that unless there is some legal declaration of war that can be pointed to, no conditions of war can be said to exist. Previously I stated in reply to this kind of question that I did not know, though I could find out - Senator Murphy has a question on the notice paper which seeks the information from the responsible Minister - the legal position regarding a declaration of war in this area. I have also pointed out that there are Australians in the area who have been sent there on behalf of the Government, who are defending this country, who are being shot at and who are shooting. I think that in most people’s minds this would be a pretty clear indication of the conditions existing there, whether there is or is not some formal legal declaration.
My question was not based on anything contained in Senator Murphy’s question. I had not discussed the question with him nor have I discussed the question with him up to this time. The thing that disturbs me about this question and the situation which prevails in Vietnam is that there is a distinct reluctance on the part of the Government to tell us whether there has been a declaration of war either by people on the opposing sides or by our own National Government. Let me repeat part of Senator Gorton’s reply. He said -
I have also pointed out that there are Australians in the area who have been sent there on behalf of the Government.
Has the Government a mandate from the Parliament in this matter? That poses another question which I should like answered. Although honorable senators know quite well the Australian Labour Party’s approach to this subject, I am not arguing whether we should be participating in this kind of war.
Lest there be any misunderstanding on the subject, let me say thatI regard America as our greatest ally. I abhor Communism, I always have and I always will. I have no use for the Communist line. So do not let there be any misunderstanding that I want to give comfort to the Communists or that I am unfriendly towards America. We all appreciate what America did for us in the past. No doubt we expect America to do lots for us in the future. But to my mind that does not excuse the Government from giving direct answers to direct questions. We people who have responsibilities to the electors are asked these questions and we should be able to give direct answers to them. I will not prosecute this line any further at this time but I propose to press it in the future by way of question and speech. Like many people,I am not satisfied with the Government’s attitude towards our activities in Vietnam.
Like my colleague, Senator Devitt, I am quite sensitive about the responsibilities that have been thrust upon us by virtue of our election to the Senate. I know my colleague will discharge his duties honorably and well. I give a solemn guarantee that within the limits of my capacity I also will serve this Parliament in an honorablemanner.
In the short time remaining to me I should like to do something that is probably unprecedented in this Parliament. I shall do it for a sentimental reason. I congratulate the founders, the planners and the successive governments which have brought into being Canberra, our National Capital. I paid, I think, 54 visits to Canberra prior to being elected to the Senate. I have seen it grow since 1948. With the lake now completed the city has been consolidated. This is a National Capital with a truly rural aspect. I congratulate and commend those people, regardless of political flavour, who have been responsible for the development of the National Capital. I hope to be here for some years to enjoy watching Can berra, which I am sure brings out the Australian sentiment in us all, grow and prosper and become one of the world’s greatest capitals.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to appropriate the amounts required for expenditure in 1965-66 from the Consolidated Revenue Fund other than those amounts provided by Special Appropriations and the Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1965-66. The amounts sought for each department are shown in detail in the Second Schedule to the Bill, the sum of these amounts being £1,089,945,000. This Bill seeks an appropriation of £691,291,000, the balance of £398,654,000 having already been granted under the Supply Act (No. 1) 1965-66. The expenditure proposals of the Government were outlined in the Budget Speech and the details included in the Schedule to this Bill have already been examined under the procedure whereby the Senate in Committee has “ taken note “ of the amounts included in the document “ Particulars of Proposed Expenditure for the Service of the Year Ending 30th June 1966”. I commend the Bill to honorable senators.
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin). - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the negative.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Henty) read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to provide for expenditure from the Consolidated Revenue Fund in 1965-66 on -
Details of the amounts sought by each department are shown in the Second Schedule to the Bill, the sum of these amounts being £238,544,000. An appropriation of £143,518,000 is sought in this Bill, the balance of £95,026,000 having already been granted under the Supply Act (No. 2) 1965-66. The main points regarding the proposed expenditure were dealt with in the Budget Speech. The Schedule to the Bill is the same as that contained in the document “ Particulars of Proposed Provision for Certain Expenditure in respect of the Year Ending 30th June 1966” which has already been examined in detail by the Senate in Committee. I commend the Bill to honorable senators.
.- This Bill appropriates moneys for other than the ordinary annual services of the Government. We have now heard a Minister make a statement in this chamber on behalf of the Government on the principles upon which this Bill shall be separated from the Bill for the appropriation of moneys for the ordinary annual services of the Government. The statement that was made in this chamber has been endorsed by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) in another place.
I detain the Senate on this occasion only, in the first place, to take this opportunity, as is my habit, to offer my congratulations to the two Tasmanian senators on the maiden speeches which they delivered tonight and in which they both paid tribute to the integrity, future opportunities and purpose of this chamber; and, in the second place, to take note of some observations that fell from the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean), who led for the Opposition in another place last night when this Bill was before that chamber. In the course of his remarks he had occasion to say -
In my view the whole of the appropriation ought to be considered in one measure by the House of Representatives.
He added -
I am one who stands strongly on the right of the House of Representatives, and only the House of Representatives, to control the money measures of the Commonwealth.
As an elected representative of the people under the Constitution as it stands. I remind honorable senators, and perhaps those elsewhere who yet seek to learn and may read the record of this speech, that section 53 of the Constitution provides as follows -
Proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys, or imposing taxation, shall not originate in the Senate.
After an immaterial reference to an exception to that statement, the section goes on to say -
The Senate may not amend proposed laws imposing taxation, or proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys for the ordinary annual services of the Government.
The Senate may not amend any proposed law so as to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people.
Then this significant provision is expressly written into the Constitution -
The Senate may at any stage return to the House of Representatives any proposed law which the Senate may not amend, requesting, by message, the omission or amendment of any items or provisions therein. And the House of Representatives may, if it thinks fit, make any of such omissions or amendments, with or without modifications.
Then there is this sealing provision which should have some significant meaning and conclusiveness -
Except as provided in this section, the Senate shall have equal power with the House of Representatives in respect of all proposed laws.
Therefore, people who can read plain English should understand that this chamber is inhibited by the Constitution from amending only laws for appropriations of revenue that come within the category of appropriations of revenue for the ordinary annual services of the Commonwealth. Then our forefathers, with the foresight that I would expect of them having regard to the respect in which I hold them, inserted in the Constitution section 54, which reads -
The proposed law which appropriates revenue or moneys for the ordinary annual services of the Government shall deal only with such appropriation.
I ask you, Mr. President, to hear me place on record a yearning that persons elsewhere may still be anxious to learn of their constitutional obligations and to learn that the Constitution to which they should, I submit, pay respect, requires that a bill which provides for the ordinary annual services of the Government shall deal with nothing else. Therefore, it is entirely inappropriate for representatives in another place to suggest that all appropriations proposed to this Parliament should be placed in one measure and that the House of Representatives - and only the House of Representatives - should control the appropriation measures which come before this Parliament.
As to those appropriations which deal with the ordinary annua] services of the Government, the Constitution makes it clear, in simple language, that this Senate may return at any time to the House of Representatives a bill such as that, requesting the omission or modification of a provision; and it is then for the House of Representatives - not with the truculence of a House of Commons faced with an hereditary House of Lords that has misbehaved over a period from 1906 to 1909, by refusing to admit the advance of democracy but paying proper regard to the constitutional obligations and rights of this chamber - to give proper consideration to any omissions or modifications that we may request, even in relation to a bill for an appropriation for the ordinary annual services of the Government. The House of Representatives should recognise that we owe our authority, just as it owes its authority, to adult suffrage and direct election by the people, and that we are entirely different from the hereditary House of Lords. Insofar as there are appropria tion measures for expenditure not coming within the category of ordinary annual services of the Government - when section 54 of the Constitution says that such a measure shall deal only with such appropriations^ - it is an impertinence for the view to be offered elsewhere that the Constitution should not be obeyed, and for it to be. suggested that the appropriations proposed to the Parliament should be embodied in only one measure.
I further take notice of the statement which is in the records of another place wherein the honorable member leading for the Opposition on this Bill saw fit to express himself in these terms -
The Opposition registers its objection to this matter and to the fact that this Bill is technically one which the Senate may amend. I hope that some day the Standing Orders of this place . . .
Mr. President, I ask you to recognise the degree of impertinence that suggests that the Standing Orders of one chamber should alter or subvert the Constitution - . . will be so amended that they will provide on your certificate, Mr. Speaker, that a bill is a money bill and that will be the end of it so far as the Senate is concerned.
He was referring to the certificate of the Speaker of another place, to which we offer the greatest respect within the constitutional ambit of its authority. To suggest that the Presiding Officer of another place by his certificate should preclude us from proper consideration in the proper category of any measure is a constitutional impertinence from which I take the occasion to dissent. Mr. President, I do so on this night, because this is a night on which constitutional changes are being proposed in respect of the proper procedures of the Parliament. I do not anticipate any discussion upon those measures but just mention that they have a direct relationship with the subject matter of my submissions.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Motion (by Senator Henty) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I shall not detain the Senate for more than two minutes. 1 want to correct what may have been a wrong impression gained by some honorable senators yesterday during the debate on the proposed appropriation for the Postmaster-General’s Department. I rose to speak about the country area of Geraldton and Kalgoorlie, particularly in regard to package type television stations. The Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar), in a courteous reply to me, said that no detailed proposals about package stations had been received from Perth television stations in relation to country areas of Western Australia. I believe this to be completely correct as the Minister stated it, and it is quite understandable that there have been no applications for this type of package station. I believe - the Minister will no doubt correct me if I am wrong - that under the existing legislation a package station will be classed as a second station. If an existing station already holding a licence applied for and was granted permission to operate a package station, this would be considered under the Broadcasting and Television Act to be a second station. It is because of this that neither of the two commercial stations in Western Australia - Channel 7 and Channel 9 - has applied for station licences for these areas.
I think that the Senate will recall that it took me many years of battling to persuade the Government, the Postmaster-General and the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to permit translators to be used without being classed as second stations. I am completely convinced that the Government will have to agree to an amendment of the Act to permit an existing station to operate a package type station - perhaps it is better to call these “ special area stations “ - without their being classed as second stations. Otherwise, these isolated areas will not receive television in our lifetime. If the Government is frightened that this might lead to monopoly control by the existing stations, I suggest that there are two methods of overcoming that difficulty. The Government could perhaps give to each existing major station the right to have only two of these package licences without their being considered as second licences, or it might prefer to exercise control by limiting the new stations to a certain power output.
I cannot see stations in these special areas being set up and operated other than by the existing stations. This is because of the difficulty and the prohibitive cost of obtaining the programmes, the news services and all the other services that are desirable: But if the existing stations TVW7 and SVW9 in Western Australia were to operate stations in these areas, the problem of obtaining programmes would not arise. It would be overcome. I know for a fact that TVW7 in Western Australia is prepared to service these areas, knowing full well that there would not be any money to be made out of them. But TVW7 genuinely feels that it has an obligation to service these areas in return for the licence it received for the original station, when it was the sole operator in Western Australia for a number of years. However, under the existing legislation - TVW7 is not prepared to do this if it means sacrificing the right to a second licence.
I do not expect the Minister to give me a reply now, because I know he would not have the necessary information at hand. But I ask him to bring the following request to the notice of the Postmaster-General and the Government: That the existing Act be altered to permit package type special area stations to be operated without their being classed as second stations, just as was done in regard to the use of translators. I am completely convinced that this is the only way in which these very important areas will receive television. I am not parochial in this, but naturally, as a Western Australian, I am vitally interested in the areas of Kalgoorlie, Geraldton and Carnarvon. If the Government follows my suggestion it can solve the problems of the areas in South Australia which Senator Laught mentioned yesterday, the areas in Queensland about which Senator Lawrie spoke and also, no doubt, other areas in the north-western part of New South Wales. I ask the Minister to bring this request to the notice of the Government.
– I will have much pleasure in having Senator Branson’s request brought to the notice of the Postmaster-General.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.52 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 11 November 1965, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1965/19651111_senate_25_s30/>.