25th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 1 1 a.m., and read prayers.
– I would like 1o direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration. 1 preface the question by stating that it arises from an overseas report from Bonn, West Germany, dated 26th April, and published in the Australian Press, to the effect that despite a steady flow of about 3,000 West German migrants each year, Australia’s net gain from that source is only a few hundred each year. The report which was issued by the West German Statistics Office in Wiesbaden discloses that over several years a similar unsatisfactory net gain of migrants from West Germany to Australia has existed and that in the years 1962 and 1963 Australia suffered a net loss of people through returnees exceeding migrants. I ask: In view of the great cost to the Australian taxpayer of supporting the immigration assisted passage scheme under which the great bulk of German migrants come to Australia, and also in view of the apparent use which many Germans are making of this scheme, namely, availing themselves of a convenient and cheap means of having a tourist sojourn in Australia, will the Minister give close scrutiny to German migration for the purpose of correcting this unsatisfactory position?
– As this question contains a great deal of detail, I ask the honorable senator to place it on the notice paper so that I may get an answer from the Minister for Immigration.
– My question is directed to the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research. It refers to the question of the South Australian Budget allocation for education. I ask: Has the Minister seen a Press report by the South Australian Minister for Education stating that Senator
Gorton had been misinformed and that figures quoted by him were discounted by the April issue of “Education News” issued by the Commonwealth Office of Education? Does the Minister still support his statement and the figures quoted by him in his reply to my question on Tuesday, 3rd May, when he reaffirmed that the Victorian budget allocation was 32 per cent, as against 24.4. per cent, shown by the Commonwealth Office of Education, and that only Tasmania contributed less than South Australia?
– I have not seen the Press report because it came out yesterday and I was rather busy. But I have been informed that such a Press report has been made. Personally, 1 can only say that I believe that the South Australian Minister for Education, Mr. Loveday, either has misinterpreted or been misinformed on the matter. I continue to state my belief, based on figures worked out by the Education Division from statistics provided by the Commonwealth Statistician, that the figures I have given for these States are the correct figures.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services. Is it a fact that the Department of Social Services, in issuing pensioner medical cards, issues only one such card to a pensioner married couple? If so, will the Minister for Social Services consider issuing separate cards to obviate real difficulties experienced by married couples during temporary separations?
– I am aware of the matter to which Senator Breen has referred and shall be pleased to discuss it with the Minister for Social Services.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Can the Minister inform the House on reports this week that efforts by Canada to get both sides in Vietnam to negotiate with a view to peace have received the same refusal from the Hanoi Communist Government as previous efforts by Great Britain and other countries?
– I ask the honorable senator to put his question on the notice paper so that a considered reply can be obtained from the Department of External Affairs next week.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer further to a question I asked yesterday. Is Government policy in respect of financial assistance to sporting bodies participating in national and international meetings sufficiently flexible to enable financial assistance to be given to the Australian Paraplegic Council, thus enabling paraplegics in this country to participate in the Commonwealth Paraplegic Games to be held in Jamaica in August and so assist these people in the magnificent effort they are making to rehabilitate themselves?
– In answer to a similar question yesterday, the Treasurer, who had had an opportunity to examine the question by ‘ Senator Drake-Brockman, stated that it was long standing policy that Commonwealth Government financial assistance was given only in respect of Olympic Games and Commonwealth Games and not to individual sporting bodies. If the honorable senator wishes to test whether that policy is likely to be departed from, I suggest he talk with the Treasurer on the matter.
– Can the Minister for Customs and Excise inform the Senate whether any goods were seized yesterday in Melbourne on the ship “ Galileo Galilei “?
– Goods were seized yesterday on the “ Galileo Galilei “ in Melbourne and on the previous day in Tasmania on the “ Bambala “ and the “ Har Ramon “. These seizures will be of interest to the Senate. Five crew members were involved in the seizure on the “ Galileo Galilei “ and the matter is proceeding. The goods seized were 69 transistor radios and 14 wristlet watches. In Tasmania the goods seized on the “ Bambala” and “ Har Ramon “ were 12 bottles of spirits, 3,200 cigarettes, 10 transistor radios, 1 electric razor, 50 ladies’ slips and half an ounce of marihuana.
– My question is addressed to the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research. Among the many educational organisations to which responsibilities have been delegated by the Prime Minister is one relating to Australian universities. Is the Minister aware that in January last in Adelaide an Australian Federation of University Graduates, representing 100,000 graduates in graduate organisations throughout Australia, was formed and that it adopted a constitution which says that the Federation is designed to provide a national voice for graduates of Australian universities in the field of tertiary education and to mobilise graduate support for the work of the universities? If he is not aware of the establishment of this Federation, will he be good enough to take steps to have inquiries instituted with a view to the accreditation of this most important educational body, which could be of great assistance to the Government and tertiary education in particular? The Minister may be aware of the existence in the United States of America of the American Alumni Council, which performs a substantially similar function in that country.
– I had always understood that in America the alumni of some universities - that is to say, graduates who had left the universities - did come together in an endeavour to provide finance for the universities and to do what they could to help the student body in every way. I have not seen a report about the specific matter to which Senator Hendrickson refers, but I take it from his question that this is an organisation of graduates who have left the universities and not of graduates who are still doing post-graduate work in the universities. I do not quite know what is meant by accreditation. I have always endeavoured to talk with representatives of any body which I thought had a point of view to put forward in regard to education, including representatives of the National Union of Australian University Students and other bodies which seemed to be responsible and which desired to discuss anything with me.
– Is the Minister representing the Prime Minister aware of the growing importance to the community of the activities of people who are interested in the use of gliding aircraft? Is it a fact that certain Federal departments have recently approached the Gliding Federation of Australia to seek men who have flying capabilities? Will the Government consider granting financial assistance to such organisations to encourage training in the use of heavier than air flying craft?
– I think the honorable senator would know that at question time I could not possibly give him an answer as to whether the Government would consider providing subventions for any organisation. That would be a matter of financial policy. I have seen in the newspapers a report that gliding clubs were asking for some subvention. No doubt they will have written to the Treasurer asking for that assistance and no doubt the Treasurer will consider the request together with other requests of this nature that come from all sorts of organisations.
– I address my question to the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of the apparent refusal of the Prime Minister to supply the Minister with any information about the report of the Committee of Investigation into Transport Costs in Northern Australia, will the Minister now give an assurance that the report is not being suppressed in order to allow negotiations to be conducted between the Commonwealth Government and the Queensland Government for the closing of all railway lines north of Townsville? If, as is rumoured in some circles, the report recommends that the lines be closed and be replaced with a road network on which Commonwealth funds would be expended, will the Minister give an assurance that the Commonwealth Government is not in fact conducting secret negotiations with the Queensland Government? Will he further inform the Senate whether or not it is the intention of the Government to make the Loder report available this year?
– The first point I should like to make is that I have not told the honorable senator that there has been a refusal to supply him with information. The fact that he has not received that information by this time is not to be taken as meaning that there has been a refusal to give it to him. I am not clear on the exact status of the Loder report. If it is a report to a department or to the Government from some committee which has been set up, then it is confidential to that department or to the Government until such time as it is. released, unless by some strange coincidence it has been released prematurely. This has not happened in this case. Nobody, in or out of this chamber, should take any notice of this speculation by the honorable senator about the closing of railway lines.
– I direct to the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research a question concerning the statement which, it was admitted, was made by him that South Australia was in a very weak position to claim from the Commonwealth more funds for education because, with the exception of Tasmania, South Australia spent less money on education that the other States, especially Victoria. Has the Minister had brought to his notice the reply by Mr. Loveday, Minister of Education in South Australia, that an analysis on a population basis showed that South Australia made a higher provision for education than any State with the exception of Tasmania? The Tasmanian figure is slightly higher. Has he also noticed that Mr. Loveday further stated that the South Australian budget for education for 1965-66 is about $54 per head of population, whereas Victoria’s is about $44.30, which makes the South Australian provision about 20 per cent, higher? How does the Minister reconcile this statement with his allegation against South Australia which has been referred to previously?
– I thank the honorable senator for the question, which gives me rather more information concerning the statement attributed to Mr. Loveday than did the question I answered on this subject about 10 minutes ago. It appears that Mr. Loveday’s figures are based on expenditure per head of population. If that is so, this clearly why he is wrong.
– That is only part of this statement.
– This is the part of the statement that came out of the honorable senator’s question. I think I should make it perfectly clear that this sort of per capita calculation gives a completely wrong and distorted impression of the actual expenditure by a State Government, expressed as a proportion of its Budget, on this or that. 1 mention by way of example, Tasmania, and the same argument would apply to South Australia. It would be true to say, I believe, that in almost anything that one could point to, Tasmania has a higher per capita expenditure, because it has a small population and a lot of administrative overhead. Indeed, Tasmania gets from the Commonwealth Government a greater per capita grant.
What is significant regarding the importance that a State Government gives to education is the proportion of its revenue budget that is devoted to this purpose. That is the matter on which I was talking. I think I have already indicated that the figures provided by the education division of the Prime Minister’s Department substantiate what I said, and I take the opportunity to add that there is no question whatever of attacking South Australia on this. I am merely pointing out what the present South Australian Government has done in regard to the proportion of budget revenue given to education. This proportion incontestably has dropped since the previous South Australian Government was in office.
– My question is directed to the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research. I refer to yesterday’s report by the Public Works Committee of this Parliament and the statement of the Chairman that the Committee was appalled at the accommodation of important research groups in the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. He said that it seemed that the provision of supplementary or new accommodation was contemplated only when conditions of staff had become critical, and he referred to the adverse effect on research and on recruitment or retention of research workers. As the Minister has been the responsible Minister in this area for some years, what is the explanation?
– Senator Murphy is quite adept at the use of words with a loaded meaning. He asks me: “ What is the explanation? “, assuming by that that I accept , the report of the Chairman of the Public Works Committee to which he refers as being accurate in these ways. I do not. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation itself has the control as to the initial recommendations on where it shall- spend the capital moneys that it requires for new laboratories or for improving facilities in existing laboratories. By and large, the recommendations made by the Executive in the field of capital expenditure are accepted by the Government. The amount of finance made available to that body has been increasing rapidly. Indeed, honorable senators from Victoria will remember the magnificent new laboratories that were opened at Monash University a week or two ago. I believe that for a period the facilities in many C.S.I.R.O. laboratories fell below what they should have been. I think this was due largely to the Executive at that time adding many functions to the work of the C.S.I.R.O., providing for the engagement of new staff and so on without at the same time providing facilities for the capital expansion which would be required. The backlag in that direction is undoubtedly being caught up by the C.S.I.R.O. I believe that is the existing position.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service been directed to a newspaper report that delegates to the National Women at Work Conference had resolved to recommend to the Minister that a women’s bureau similar to the one operating in the United States should be set up at Commonwealth level? Will the Minister consider this recommendation and the alternative proposal to set up a women’s consultative committee to advise the Minister on matters relating to the ememployment of women?
– If a women’s advisory committee were set up it would be advising the Minister himself, not his representative in the Senate. If a women’s bureau were set up I presume it would be working in conjunction with the Department of Labour and National Service. I do not know whether the honorable senator would like to put the question on the notice paper so that the responsible Minister can reply to it. If she wants a reply, 1 suggest that she adopt that course.
– I direct my question to the Acting Leader of the Government. To overcome the rumours which have been circulating, will the Minister say what plans the Government has in mind to retain the highly skilled and experienced team of employees of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority when the Snowy Mountains project is completed within the next few years? I might add that the Murray-Murrumbidgee Development Committee and many other organisations are interested in this matter.
– I believe the question relates to future Government policy and therefore is not one which it is appropriate to answer at question time.
– I address my question to you, Mr. President. Could consideration be given to a review of the very exacting work required in the manual recording of deliberations in the Senate and in another place? Would you consider instituting an investigation of the benefits to be gained by the mechanical recording of such deliberations?
– That matter will probably be taken into consideration when work associated wih the construction of the new Parliament House is being considered. I do not envisage that we will be looking at this matter at the present time. The present system appears to me to be a very good one and should not be interfered with for the time being.
– My question is directed to the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research. Is he aware that at a meeting held in Sydney last weekend some 700 people representing teachers, parents, citizens and others interested in education unanimously complained of insufficient funds being made available by the Commonwealth Government for the State education system, thus bringing in its wake overcrowded classrooms, lack of adequate facilities and insufficient teachers? Because that was the unanimous expression of opinion of people vitally concerned and closely connected with the. education system in New South Wales, and because of statements attributed to the Premier and Minister for Education in that State to the effect that the construction of 27 high schools could not be proceeded with this year because of the shortage of funds, will the Minister agree that a crisis does exist in education and that additional funds must be made available at primary and secondary school levels to enable the younger generation of Australians lo be educated in a manner satisfactory to this nation?
– The honorable senator cannot have been reading all of the newspapers. Had he been doing so, by now he would have fully realised that, whilst I agree completely that a very great deal still requires to be done in the fields of secondary and primary education, I do not agree that a crisis exists if by “ crisis “ one means that the position has been getting worse for a long period of time and now some immediate and sudden action is required to prevent a disaster; or if one means that there has been some sudden change in the position or some sudden influx of children such as might occur, for example, if insufficient aid were given to independent schools, which would place a load on the existing system and lead to a crisis. That is purely a matter of definition. It is really put forward so that there may be an informed and sensible discussion on the things which undoubtedly need doing and which were the subject of the meeting to which the honorable senator referred. lt is easy for such meetings to say that insufficient funds are provided by the
Federal Government. But it must be remembered that, as the Constitution stands, the provision of education is a responsibility of the States and it is their responsibility to decide what proportion of their revenues they are prepared to give to education compared with the other claims upon them. In spite of that, really massive assistance has been given by the Commonwealth Government, particularly in the field of tertiary education but also in the field of secondary education in the form of the provision of science facilities and facilities for technical schools and the provision of scholarships. It may well be that the provision of all of those funds together still leaves much to be done. But, unless the people want the Commonwealth Government to take over the complete responsibility for education, it cannot properly be claimed that the Commonwealth must be responsible for providing all that is required, whether the States do so or not.
– I ask the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate a question. Is the Government aware that the Young Liberal Party at the University of Adelaide carried a resolution, by a vote of two to one, opposing the sending of Australian conscripts to Vietnam, and resolved to forward that resolution to the Prime Minister? Will this decision, coming from a responsible body of political thought similar to that of the Government, together with other similar decisions of other bodies, cause the Government to review its decision on the question of sending concepts to Vietnam?
– I do not think a great, deal should be made of resolutions passed by political clubs at universities which are not necessarily affiliated with the political parties whose names they take. I think Senator Cavanagh will agree with me, when I remind him that the Young Labour Club at the University of Sydney passed a resolution urging assistance to the North Vietnamese aggressors in South Vietnam by the setting up of a medi-cong fund to take care of them, that I would not base, on that resolution, a question to him as to whether the Labour Party proposed to change its policy in that way.
– My question is directed to the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research. In view of the obvious conflict between figures quoted by him and those quoted by both the Prime Minister’s Department and the Minister of Education in South Australia, will he request his departmental officers to check the conflicting figures and then report to the Senate on the matter?
– I suggest that the honorable senator can carry out his own research on the basis of the figures provided by Mr. Loveday and the figures provided by myself. I will be quite happy to make available to him the basis and calculations of the figures should he approach my Education Division and ask for them.
– Did the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research imply that the Government substantially carries out the recommendations of the Executive of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation? Is it not a fact that in each of the last three annual reports of the C.S.I.R.O. - and perhaps in other reports - the Executive reported to the Minister that there was a grave shortage of laboratory accommodation? Did not the reports stress that the problem was urgent and pressing? Did not the reports state that, at the present rate of progress, accommodation would remain acutely restricted for at last another ten years? Did not the reports state that ultimately the resolution of the problem depends on funds made available by the Government?
– If. the honorable senator took the implication he seems to have taken from my words, then I would like to spell them out more clearly. It is of course untrue that an unlimited budget is made available to C.S.I.R.O., any more than it is made available to any other department; but the distribution of funds available for capital purposes between providing new laboratories and providing improved facilities in existing laboratories and the choice of laboratories on which the funds will be spent is the field in which recommendations are made by the Executive of C.S.I. R.O. In cases such as the building of the new research laboratory in respect of the meat industry at Townsville, the decision came from the Government rather than from the Executive of C.S.I.R.O. but, by and large, that is the field in which C.S.I.R.O. distributes its funds. Each year more and more funds are allocated to C.S.I.R.O. to spend on its facilities.
– My question, which I direct to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, relates to a subject on which we seemed to get at cross purposes yesterday, in respect of what is fact and what is fantasy. It was not quite clear, even in the “ Hansard “ report. Is the Minister aware that on 25th August 1965 Senator Henty was quoted at page 1 1 2 of the “ Hansard “ report as saying in reference to compensation being paid to Interstate Parcel Express Co. (Aust.) Pty. Ltd.- . . the Senate can feel assured that the Government realizes that I.P.E.C. has been involved in expense. If such a request is made at a time when no litigation is in train, the Senate can depend upon the Government making a decision appropriate to what has occurred.
The question I ask is: Has such a request been made by I.P.E.C. to the Government? If so, what was the result?
– Today, the honorable senator has asked his question with more precision. Therefore, I will refer it to the Minister for Civil Aviation.
– I wish to direct a question to you, Mr. President. It relates to questions asked of Ministers.I presume that there must be some meaning in the fact that we have each sitting day a question time in this Parliament, and there must be some validity for it. However, it seems to me that either through apathy, indolence, or whatever you like to call it, Ministers are not answering questions. The result is that 70 questions now appear on the notice paper. We ask questions for the purpose of obtaining real information. Some questions are political; we all know that. But even questions of that kind are asked for the purpose of obtaining information. There is still on the notice paper a question of which notice was given on 29th September last year, and recently there was an occasion when a question remained on the notice paper for nearly a year.
– What is the honorable senator’s question?
– I am leading up to it. I ask, Mr. President: What can we do to obtain redress in respect of the frustration caused to us by the apathy of Ministers in answering questions? Can the matter be referred to some sub-committee?Is there any power at all that can be used to compel Ministers to answer questions? There must be some procedure which can be invoked to ensure that answers to questions are given within a certain period.
– Obviously this is not a matter that comes under my control. I have nothing to do with it. It is the responsibility of the Ministers concerned. However, now that the subject of questions has been raised I would like to make one or two remarks on it. In the first place, I think that many questions asked are much too long. Secondly, I think that sometimes the privilege of asking questions is abused in that some questions call for considerable investigation. If honorable senators look at some of the questions now standing on the notice paper they will see that the preparation of answers would involve considerable delay in the normal work of the departments concerned. I ask honorable senators to frame their questions in such a way that they are likely to be answered quickly. That is not so in the case of some of the questions that we have had recently.
(Question No. 860.)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
Relative to reports that the Mint at Bombay. India, has been supplying orders from overseas collectors for Australian coins of certain years - is this situation acceptable to the Australian Government; if not, what means of redress arc open to Australia?
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answer -
Following reports that the Bombay Mint was supplying newly-minted 1942 and 1943 Australian pennies and halfpennies to oversea collectors, representations were made to the Indian authorities through the Australian High Commission in New Delhi asking that this practice be discontinued. The Minister of State in the Indian Ministry of Finance has now stated that, in deference to the wishes of the Australian Government, the Government of India has decided to stop further supply of the coins.
(Question No. 871.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The Minister for Territories has now supplied the following answer -
The Project operates along co-operative lines in that there is a Board of Management which consists almost wholly of indigenous growers’ representatives and some representatives of the Gazelle Local Government Council. The Board exercises control over the Project and has an Executive Officer who is seconded from the Department of Agriculture, Stock and Fisheries. The Project works on a non-profit basis and net returns arc distributed to growers. There is no need to initiate legislation to convert the Project into a true cooperative as this could be done under existing Ordinances, if the people so desired.
There has been a drift away from the Project over the years which has caused concern to both the Board of Management and the Gazelle Local Government Council. A continuing educational programme is in hand to check this drift. I have also arranged for a special report, which is at present being prepared for my information, on the future progress of the Project.
(Question No. 876.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
Are Australian troops in Vietnam under the South East Asia Collective Security Treaty? If so, under what Article or Articles of the Treaty has the Australian Government acted?
– The Minister for External Affairs has supplied the following answer -
The Australian Government has given military and other assistance to the Republic of Vietnam at the request of the Government of that country. The provision of this assistance accords with Australia’s obligations under the South East Asia Collective Defence Treaty and Protocol. See also statements by the Minister for External Affairs in the House of Representatives on 28th April 1966, (“Hansard” page 1268); statements by the then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, on 24th May 1965, (“Hansard” page 1897), and 19th August 1965, (“ Hansard “ page 279), and answers to questions on notice, nos. 392, 395 and 408 of 20th October 1964. (“Hansard” page 2130- 2131). no. 981 of 11th May 1965, (“Hansard” page 1365), and no. 1112 of 1st October 1965, (“Hansard” page 1647).
(Question No. 881.)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
In view of the published announcement that the Department of Civil Aviation is considering leasing airport land at Tullamarine for general industrial purposes, will the Government take every precaution to ensure that leases are not granted to industries which may contribute to the problems of people whose houses are, or may be, adjacent to the proposed airport?
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following answer -
The Department of Civil Aviation is studying a report on the feasibility of establishing an industrial park at Melbourne (Tullamarine) Airport. It is expected that the park will be unique in character and promote a distinctive image which will be a credit to a modern airport.
Any industry which would interfere with the operation of the airport or detract from the character of the park, such as noxious trades, hazardous industries, extractive industries and industries which produce offensive fumes or smells, will be prohibited. I am therefore quite sure that the airport industrial park will not create any problems for persons who are residing or may reside in close proximity to the airport.
Motion (by Senator Gair) proposed -
That leave be given to introduce a Bill for an Act relating to Child Endowment.
The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin.)
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The Bill now before this chamber proposes amendments to the Customs Tariff 1966 which came into operation on 14th February 1966. The Bill comprises thirteen schedules dealing with the following subjects taken schedule by schedule.
The First Schedule deals, in part, with tariff amendments based on recommendations arising out of reports by the Tariff Board on -
Woven cotton fabrics, bed linen, etc.,
Woven man-made fibre fabrics,
Pigments and colour lakes,
Tinned iron and steel hoop, strip, plates and sheets.
Magnetos and parts, and reports by the Special Advisory Authority on -
Continuous filament polyamide raw yarns,
Woven fabrics of glass fibre, and
Polyethlyene monofil and rope.
On cotton fabrics and on man-made fibre fabrics the Board recommended uniform rates of duty - 55 per cent, ad valorem under the general tariff and 47½ per cent, under the preferential tariff. The general tariff rate of 55 per cent, ad valorem as recommended by the Board will apply to cotton fabrics weighing more than 6 oz. per square yard. In the case of cotton sheeting, however, an upper limit of $0.25 per square yard has been imposed to avoid any overprotection in the very high priced field.
The Board’s recommendation on manmade fibre fabrics would have far reaching effects on the local industry. It would reverse the former pattern of protection which had been in force for some years and which encouraged local production of the lower value fabrics - for which long runs are available - and discouraged manufacture of the higher priced materials. As this might lead to a significant change in the industry’s pattern of production, the Government was concerned that the industry should have time to make any adjustments it considered necessary without undue dislocation of production. Accordingly, it is proposed that the duties on man-made fibre fabrics will have a minimum rate of $0.20 per square yard. An upper limit of $0.50 per square yard is also proposed for all man-made fibre fabrics except some special fabrics used principally for furnishing. Although a reduction in the present duties on lower value fabrics and an increase in duties on the higher priced materials is proposed, the variations from the former levels of protection are somewhat less than those recommended by the Board. The industry, however, will again be reviewed by the Tariff Board within two years.
In the case of the preferential tariff rate, international commitments prevent adoption of the uniform level of 471 per cent, ad valorem recommended by the Tariff Board. We have, of course, given undertakings under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and under bilateral trade agreements which commit us on the preferential margins in our tariff. As a consequence it is proposed that the preferential rate be 45 per cent ad valorem on some cotton fabrics, 521 per cent on other cotton fabrics and 55 per cent less $0,021 per square yard on man-made fibre fabrics, instead of the rate of 47-i per cent recommended by the Board.
On synthetic organic pigments, colour lakes and preparations based thereon, the Tariff Board has recommended duties of 45 per cent, ad valorem general rate and 30 per cent, ad valorem preferential rate. These rates are incorporated in the Bill and are higher than the former ordinary protective duties, but lower than the combined ordinary and temporary protective duties. New protective ad valorem duties of 25 per cent, general and 15 per cent, preferential will also apply to cadmium pigments.
On tinned iron and steel hoop, strip, plates and sheets, deferred duties of $11.50 per ton, general rate, and $5.70 per ton, preferential rate, were to operate on and after 1st January 1966. Customs Tariff legislation requires, however, that the question of whether deferred duties should or should not operate from the date of deferment shall be referred to the Tariff Board for inquiry and report. The deferred duties on tinplate were first introduced in 1920, but have been progressively deferred after each subsequent inquiry and report by the Tariff Board.
In the latest report the Board indicates that tinplate production, which commenced in Australia in 1957, is now an integral part of the iron and steel industry. The Board commends the local manufacturers on their ability to compete with imports without any increase in the present operative rates of 71 per cent, ad valorem, general rate, and free, preferential rate, and considers this ability to be of national importance, lt recommends no change in these rates but cancellation of the deferred duties which, it points out, are no longer realistic in relation to current f.o.b. prices. The Bill reflects the Government’s acceptance of the Board’s recommendations. For flywheel type magnetos, which are now manufactured locally, new protective ad valorem duties of 421 per cent., general rate, and 25 per cent., preferential rate, have been introduced on the recommendation of the Tariff Board. Other types of magnetos no longer produced in Australia, however, will be subject to non-protective duties. The amendment on continuous filament polyamide raw yarns follows a report by the Special Advisory Authority. A temporary additional duty of $0.15 per lb. has been applied on yarns of this type. On woven fibre-glass fabrics, other than insect screening and decorative furnishing fabrics, a temporary additional duty of 15 per cent, ad valorem has been imposed following a report by the Special Advisory Authority. In respect of polyethylene monofil, the Special Advisory Authority has recommended a temporary additional duty when the price is less than $0.40 per lb. f.o.b. This duty is incorporated in the Bill.
The remaining amendments contained in the First Schedule are of four origins. Firstly, they include increased duties on mica capacitors and on certain measuring, controlling and recording equipment. These changes were recommended in Tariff Board reports tabled in the Parliament some time ago, but their introduction was deferred pending international negotiations. Arising out of these and other international negotiations, the duties on electric typewriters, safety razors and outboard engines have been reduced. For example, when the Tariff Board’s report on internal combustion piston engines was tabled, the Government announced that a most favoured nation rate of 37+ per cent, ad valorem was being adopted for outboard engines, but that it would be prepared to reduce the rate to 25 per cent, ad valorem, as recommended by the Board, depending on the result of international negotiations. This Bill leaves the preferential rate at its existing level of 15 per cent, ad valorem but reduces the general rate from 37i per cent, to 25 per cent, ad valorem.
Secondly, the tariff alterations in the First Schedule remove certain preferences previously accorded goods of Rhodesian origin. Thirdly, there are amendments in the First Schedule to improve the translation from the Customs Tariff 1933-1965 to the new tariff based on the Brussels Nomenclature which operated from 1st July 1965. The changes ensure continuation of the duty position existing prior to 1st July 1965.
The remaining alterations in the First Schedule - these, in fact, amount to the great majority of changes in that Schedule - make amendments to the Customs Tariff to give effect to the duty changes involved in the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement concluded last year. The changes were first introduced to operate from 1st January 1966, under the Customs Tariff 1965, which Act was repealed on 13th February 1966. The changes were again introduced by “ Gazette “ notice on 14th February 1966, by reason of decimal currency legislation, to amend the Customs Tariff 1966. In accordance with statute, the changes formally came before the Parliament by proposals introduced on 8th March and are incorporated in this Bill.
The rates of duty in the Schedule to the Bill differ from those set out in the Tariff Proposals in that they incorporate not only the initial reductions but also the subsequent phasing out of duties over periods of either two or eight years. These subsequent duty reductions are indicated by the prefixes “ NZ (A) “, “ NZ (B) “ and “ NZ (C) “ that appear against the relevant rates in column 4. In accordance with the provisions set out in section 17a, the letters “ NZ (A) “ provide for further reductions in duty on 1st January 1968. 1st January 1970. 1st January 1972. and 1st January 1974.
The Bill thus carries forward the 20 per cent, reduction which took effect from the 1st January 1966, and provides for four similar reductions, which amount to 20 per cent, of the old rate or 25 per cent, of the new rate, to take effect at two-yearly intervals. In respect of the letters “ NZ (B) “, section 17a provides that these goods become free of duty on 1st January 1968, while “ NZ (C) “ provides for 20 per cent, reductions commencing on 1st January 1967, and proceeding at two-yearly intervals until no duties remain. Reductions in duty under the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement also occur in paragraphs 21.07.49, 22.08.99 and 29.25.19. In these cases, because the rates of duty do not reduce below the excise rate imposed on similar Australian made goods, it has been necessary to spell out in column 4 the rates of duty that will operate on the changeover dates.
The Second to Ninth Schedules to this Bill amend the Second and Third Schedules to the principal Act and such changes are consequential to changes made to the First Schedule. The Tenth Schedule provides for a small amendment as recommended by the Tariff Board in its report on motor vehicles and removes a so called deletion allowance for the non-supply of certain parts on built up vehicles, which concession the Board found had not been much used. Also included in the Tenth Schedule are tariff changes arising out of the Tariff Board report on replacement motor vehicle engines and certain replacement parts. On replacement motor vehicle engines and engine parts, the Government has accepted the Tariff Board’s recommendation for new ad valorem duties of 35 per cent, general rate and 271 per cent, preferential rate, irrespective of horsepower ratings. Previously the duties were 42i per cent, general rate and 25 per cent, preferential rate, but were subject to reduction according to horsepower rating.
The Eleventh Schedule gives effect to the Government’s decisions following receipt of the Tariff Board’s reports on peanuts, peanut oil and olive oil, and glass grains (ballotini).
The first mentioned report makes recommendations on rapeseed oil and on mixed vegetable oils. These have been accepted by the Government and new protective rates of 40 cents per gallon general and 26.7 cents per gallon preferential are being applied. These new duties are in line with those on other vegetable oils for which rapeseed and mixed oils are substitutes. The Government has also accepted the Board’s suggestion that the long term needs of the local peanut, cottonseed and safflower oils industry be determined in a general review of all vegetable oils. The Board has already been asked to undertake this inquiry. For glass grains, also known as ballotini, which are used mainly in reflective signs and which arc now being successfully produced in Australia, the Bill provides protective ad valorem duties of 35 per cent general rate and 25 per cent preferential rate.
The balance of the amendments in the Eleventh Schedule are necessary to improve the translation from the Customs Tariff 1933-1965 to the new Tariff based on the Brussels Nomenclature which operated from 1st July 1965. These changes ensure a continuation of the duty position existing prior to 1st July 1965. The Twelfth and Thirteenth Schedules provide for machinery changes to keep the Second and Third Schedules of the principal Act in step with the amendments made to the First Schedule by the Eleventh Schedule.
I now wish to refer to other aspects of this Bill which are of a more uncommon nature. Normally tariff bills provide merely for the enactment of rates of duty that have been introduced some months earlier by tariff proposals. However in this Bill there are amendments to the sections of the principal Act. First, there is clause 6 which provides the machinery lor the phasing of the New Zealand rates. Next there are modifications to the definition of “ deferred duties “. This is a drafting amendment and no change of substance is involved.
Clause 8 re-expresses the existing powers accorded the Minister in sections 24 and 25 of the principal Act. Section 24 confers on the Minister the power to make directions concerning parts for goods such that -
Section 25 confers on the Minister the power to make directions concerning the duty on goods imported as a composite unit or set in one of two ways, either as if -
Clause 9 inserts a new section 29a in the principal Act and relates to concentrates, for example, concentrated citrus juices. Power to charge duty on concentrates is presently contained in section 141. of the Customs Act 1901-1965. However, it is considered desirable that the powers should be part of the Customs Tariff rather than the Customs Act and a bill to amend the Customs Act concurrently will be introduced shortly.
Section 29a provides for a concentrate to be treated as if it were a quantity equal to such quantity of the non-concentrated goods into which it could be converted. These concentrations may be determined in one of two ways. They are either, first, in accordance with a stipulated formula - for example, it could be stipulated that the quality of capsicine imported was to be determined on the basis that it was equal to5½ times its weight of dry chillies - or secondly, as determined by the Collector at the time of importation of the goods having regard to the degree of concentration. Thus an orange juice concentrated five times would pay duty at five times its volume as imported on order made by the Minister.
The new legislation will clarify the legal position concerning the Minister’s powers to make general directions as distinct from ad hoc directions and will require general directions to be published in the “ Gazette “. Any such direction or the cancellation of such a direction that will result in an increase in the rate of duty will not be permitted to operate before the date the direction is published in the “ Gazette “. Documentation to assist honorable senators in their examination of the legislation is being distributed with copies of the Bill. I commend the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
.- I move-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill amends the Customs Act 1901- 1965. It is complementary to the Customs Tariff Bill which I have just introduced. The Bill provides for the repeal of section 141 of the principal Act. Section 141 directs that duty shall be payable on concentrations, essences and extracts of goods that are liable to duty according to quantity, according to the quantity or equivalent of dutiable goods in which such concentrations, etc., can be converted according to a standard to be prescribed by regulation. For legal reasons the existing provisions are proposed to be operated under authority of the Customs Tariff, specifically section 29a, instead of under the Customs Act.
Clause 4 amends the principal Act in relation to decimal currency. I commend the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to extend the operation of the Vinyl Resin Bounty Act 1963 for a further maximum period of six months to 14th February. 1967, or such earlier date as is proclaimed. Under the existing Act, bounty will cease to be payable in respect of vinyl resin sold after 14th August 1966. The Tariff Board has reviewed the question of assistance to producers of vinyl resin in the context of the Board’s inquiry into the Australian chemical industry generally. The Board’s report has recently been received and is now under examination. It is desired to continue assistance to producers in the interim period, pending conclusion of the examination of and action on the Board’s report. Amendments to the Act with respect to the recent changeover to decimal currency have also been made. I commend the Bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
It is proposed to extend, by a maximum period of six months, the operation of the Tractor Bounty Act 1939-1959, under which bounty will cease to be payable on tractors produced after 30th June 1966. The question of assistance to manufacturers of tractors is being reviewed by the Tariff Board. The purpose of this Bill is to continue assistance to the manufacturers in the interim period, pending receipt and examination of the Board’s report. The Bill also amends the existing Act in relation to the recent decimal currency changeover. I commend the Bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
– I move-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to seek the approval of Parliament to the signature and acceptance by Australia of the Protocol extending the International Wheat Agreement 1962 for a further year. Honorable Senators will recall that similar action was taken last year.
In 1962, Parliament approved the acceptance by Australia of the International Wheat Agreement which had been negotiated that year in Geneva. The terms of the Agreement provided that it would expire on 31st July 1965, and prior to that date it would have been customary to renegotiate a new Agreement to take effect as from that date. However, at that time most of the trading countries of the world were already engaged in the Kennedy Round of trade negotiations in Geneva, and in the circumstances the International Wheat Council agreed that the existing Agreement be extended for one year. It was expected that if comprehensive arrangements to regulate trade in cereals, including wheat, could be negotiated they would make redundant an International Wheat Agreement of the present type. Unfortunately, progress in the Geneva negotiations has been slower than expected and the International Wheat Council in November last year agreed that the most practical procedure would be to again extend the Agreement for a further twelve months; that is, until July 1967.
Since 1949 there has been a series of International Wheat Agreements. Australia has been a member of each Agreement. The provisions of these Agreements have been debated in the Senate on a number of occasions. Honorable senators will be aware that the main purpose of the Agreement is to ensure some degree of stability in the range of prices within which wheat is traded commercially. In this respect the International Wheat Agreement has served a useful purpose even though the actual range of prices designated within it has not been totally satisfactory from our viewpoint. Although the various Agreements have helped over the years in achieving more sensible arrangements for the marketing of wheat internationally, it would be generally agreed that the International Wheat Agreement type arrangement does not adequately cover all the problems encountered in the international wheat trade.
The trade negotiations which are proceeding in Geneva are, for the first time in the history of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, tackling the problems of agriculture. However, because of the complex and sensitive problems of agriculture, progress in the negotiations has been slow. Moreover, the internal difficulties experienced by the European Economic Community over the past 12 months or so have further delayed progress. There are now signs that these difficulties have been largely overcome and that the E.E.C. will soon be in a position to resume effective negotiations on cereals. It is appropriate that I should take this opportunity of informing honorable senators of the objectives of these negotiations insofar as they are likely to affect wheat.
At the G.A.T.T. Ministerial Meeting in May 1963, it was agreed that a significant liberalisation of world trade was desirable. It was also agreed for the first time - and this is most significant - that the negotiations should cover all classes of products, including agricultural products, and should deal not only with tariffs but also with nontariff barriers to trade. The G.A.T.T. Cereals Group was given the responsibility of negotiating comprehensive arrangements for cereals, including wheat, which would cover national support programmes, international prices, access to markets and noncommercial transactions.
When speaking to a similar bill last year, it was pointed out by my colleague, Senator Henty, that the provisions of the International Wheat Agreement are limited. The Agreement does nothing to inhibit the protection afforded high cost wheat production. Highly protectionist wheat policies pursued by many industrialised countries have led to a shrinking or, at the best, a stagnation of their imports of wheat. Unless these countries are prepared to accept some commitments on domestic production, this trend will almost certainly be accelerated with the application of modern technology to farm production, particularly in Europe.
Equally disturbing is the fact that the price level at which wheat is traded internationally is far from satisfactory. The socalled world price for wheat, which exporters of wheat are obligated to accept, hears little relationship to prices being paid for the great bulk of the world’s wheat production. It is an intolerable situation when efficient wheat producing countries are from time to time forced to resort to subsidies in order to maintain the incomes of farmers at reasonable levels. Over recent years world prices for wheat sold on world markets have been largely determined by the subsidy and dumping practices associated with the level of protection afforded high cost wheat production. As honorable senators were informed last year, competition is not between producers, or exporters, but between national treasuries.
Another critical area of the international wheat situation is the position of many less developed countries. The food needs of these countries are certain to increase. The famine in India this year has emphasised the gravity of the problem. Over the past two years this Government has provided India with nearly $16 million in emergency food aid, mainly wheat. The Government has taken the view that, whilst the needs of the developing countries such as India must be recognised, the responsibility should not fall on the food exporting countries alone. The burden of meeting the legitimate food needs of these countries must be shared by all countries which have the ability to contribute. Honorable senators will appreciate that an international arrangement which adequately deals with all the issues I have mentioned is obviously not a simple matter to negotiate. However, the effort must be made and Australia has submitted a comprehensive and fully articulated proposal to the G.A.T.T. Cereals Group.
A satisfactory outcome of the negotiations requires commitments and obligations to be assumed by governments which could affect their freedom of action in respect of national policies. It is only realistic to observe that such commitments are not easy for governments to accept and progress has, not unexpectedly, been slow. However, if the negotiations are to succeed the tempo will need to be increased because the United States’ authority to negotiate under its Trade Expansion Act, which provided the initial impetus to the negotiations, will expire in June 1967. Meanwhile, the Bill before the Senate, providing for the extension of the current International Wheat Agreement for a further year, will no doubt command the support of all honorable senators. Australian participation in the successive International Wheat Agreements has consistently had the support of the Australian wheat growers. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator McClelland) adjourned.
Consideration resumed from 4th May (vide page 792).
Postponed clause 139. (3.) Where a trustee of the estate of a bankrupt carries on a business previously carried on by the bankrupt, he is not personally liable for any payment in respect of long service leave for which the bankrupt was liable or for any payment in respect of long service leave to which a person employed by him in his capacity as trustee of tha estate of the bankrupt, or the legal personal representative of such a person, becomes entitled after the date of the bankruptcy.
Upon which Senator Cohen had moved by way of amendment -
At end of sub-clause (3.), add the following words: - “Provided that this sub-clause shall not operate to relieve the estate of the bankrupt from any such liability “.
– I would like some guidance. I have an amendment to move to clause 139. I would like to know whether I should now move an amendment to Senator Cohen’s amendment, or whether Senator Cohen’s amendment should be dealt with first.
– The Minister should move his amendment to Senator Cohen’s amendment now.
– I move -
After sub-clause (3.), add the following subclause: - “ (4.) This section does not affect any liability of the trustee of the estate of a bankrupt other than personal liability “.
– The Clerk has pointed out that that type of amendment cannot be taken as an amendment to Senator Cohen’s amendment. Therefore we have first to take Senator Cohen’s amendment. Senator Cohen’s amendment is now before the Committee.
– Senator Cohen has informed me that he does not desire to proceed with the amendment which he proposed, and that the amendment moved by the Minister will be entirely acceptable as giving the necessary clarity which is desired. I seek leave, on Senator Cohen’s behalf, to withdraw his amendment.
Amendment - by leave - withdrawn.
.- I move-
After sub-clause (3.), add the following subclause: - “ (4.) This section does not affect any liability of the trustee of the estate of a bankrupt other than personal liability. “
I have moved the amendment for the purpose of meeting a doubt in the mind of at least one honorable senator as to whether employees were adequately protected if they had a claim against the estate of a bankrupt. I believe that the amendment gives that protection but does not place an onus on the personal finances of the trustee.
– As I raised the doubt in respect of this matter, I want to say a few words on it. After conferring with legal members of my organisation today,I have found that they are of the belief - and I accept their opinions - that the amendment moved by the Minister removes any doubt. This seems to me to be a proper and more harmonious way of proceeding with the legislation. There was never any difference of opinion between the Government and the
Opposition on what the sub-clause should mean. Possibly, I created the doubt and although it may not have been a valid doubt according to strict legal interpretation, I believe that it could have led to lengthy legal argument. For that reason, it is preferable to try to resolve that doubt and to state the legislation in the clearest terms so as to avoid argument and possible costly litigation in the future. I am very appreciative of the Government’s action.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
First Schedule agreed to.
Second Schedule agreed to.
Third Schedule agreed to.
Fourth Schedule agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Gorton) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 3rd May (vide page 699), on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I initiate the debate in relation to this Bill by addressing myself to the motion that the Bill be read a second time. I move -
That the following words be added to the motion: - “ but the Senate is of opinion that the existing Housing Agreement has not adequately met the housing needs of the Australian people and that this Bill will not enable it to do so unless -
Commonwealth advances are increased at least by amounts equal to those allocated in the current financial year to building societies;
the rate of interest on advances is reduced to that charged under the War Service Homes Act;
advances are made for provision of houses for aged and disabled persons and others in needy circumstances and rental rebates are restored to such persons;
subsidies are provided for tenants or purchasers who through bereavement or injury become unable to meet a prescribed economic rental or repayment; and
advances are made for -
land development and
That, Mr. President, is a very comprehensive amendment. It deals with many aspects of national housing that are not immediately touched on by the Bill. It is in line with the opposition that we have expressed to the Government’s approach to the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement each time a Bill to implement such an agreement has been before us.I recall that on 14th June 1956 Senator Ashley, leading for the Opposition in this place in the debate on the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement Bill of that year, moved an amendment that embraced the salient features of the amendment that I have now put before the Senate. Again when the 1961 Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement Bill, which sought to amend the Agreement of 1956, was before the Senate, Senator Toohey moved an amendment which included the salient points of our present objection to the Government’s approach to this problem. I am indicating at the outset that from the beginning the Opposition has been consistent in its endeavours to persuade the Government not to make an ad hoc approach to the question of national housing, but to accept the responsibility of leadership in this field.
It can be argued with force that the States are primarily responsible for housing, but it is unquestionable that, in view of the financial relationship between the Commonwealth and the States, the Commonwealth is not only the dominating factor but also the controlling factor - it exercises the power of the purse - in the rate of progress by the States in this great field. The question of Commonwealth intervention in housing arose for the first time in 1945 under a Labour Government, and in that year an Agreement was entered into. That was a revolutionary social measure. The Commonwealth, for the first time, entered the field of housing, providing funds and laying down conditions that were agreed upon between the Commonwealth and the States. It is rather interesting to note that the
Agreement of that year provided that all the States should have adequate legislative powers to provide for slum clearance, land development and other matters of that nature. In short, the view taken by the Labour Government of the day was that here was a national problem in which a strong lead should be taken by the Commonwealth and that all the funds necessary to carry out the housing policy should be made available. This was a great contribution to solving the postwar housing problem. It set up the entirely new principle of Commonwealth intervention and assistance in that field.
In the course of her second reading speech the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) was critical of the 1945 Agreement. She compared the number of houses sold in the first nine years covered by that Agreement with the number sold under the 1956-61 Agreement. I suggest that the Minister overlooked the fact that her own Government was responsible for at least half of the first nine years’ administration of the 1945 Agreement. The 1945 Agreement became operative in that year and was expressed to operate for a period of ten years. That Agreement would have expired in 1955, but the Menzies Government extended it for one more year, so that it ran for 1 1 years. Responsibility for the administration of the Agreement at the Commonwealth level rested upon the Labour Government for only 4½ years of those 11 years. So if there is a complaint about the number of houses sold under the Agreement, the responsibility for 6½ years of those 11 years rests entirely upon the Menzies Government. If the then Government was dissatisfied with the Agreement, what steps did it take to alter it? It could have negotiated with the States at any time, had it wished to do so and had the States been agreeable. Either there was no attempt by the Government to have the Agreement varied in the respect upon which the Minister is now critical, or else the States, being completely content with the terms of the Agreement, refused to have them changed. I submit that the Minister, in criticising the operation of the Agreement, is criticising the Menzies Government’s administration of it for 6½ years of the 11 years during which it ran.
I point out, too, that the really great housing need in the immediate postwar years was met - one might almost say overcome - by the provision of low rent homes. The provision of such homes was the great social need of the immediate postwar years, and the Labour Government did not wait for the end of the war to address its mind to that problem. Mr. Curtin and Mr. Chifley, long before the war ended, spent years of investigation, making an appreciation of the needs of the postwar era and providing for them. The Labour Government noi only had a national outlook, but also exercised great foresight.
The Minister was also critical of the loss recoupment arrangements between the Commonwealth and the States in relation to rebates under the 1945 Agreement. I suggest, with respect, that the Minister has again overlooked the fact that her Government was responsible for the adminstration of the 1945 Agreement for 6± of the 1 1 years during which it operated. In particular, 1 point to the fact that she claimed that recoupment of the States by the Commonwealth in respect of losses on rental rebates was effected by a reduction of the interest rate by 1 per cent. Loan moneys for housing were made available to the States at an interest rate roughly 1 per cent, below the rate of interest at which the Commonwealth itself borrowed the money. The Minister claimed that the relief from the interest burden which the States were thus given enabled them to go ahead and make further provision for housing. She argued that the savings to the States in that way more than offset the recoupment of losses on rental rebates for which provision was made in the 1945 Agreement. But I point out that making money available to the States at a lower rate of interest would not put in their hands moneys that they could use for housing purposes unless they charged higher rates of interest to those who were buying homes or charged higher rentals to those who were renting homes. That is the only way in which cash would have been available to them. Accordingly, the position for which the Minister contends leads to the proposition that if the States are to have additional moneys available to them as a result of low interest charges, all the purchasers of homes and all the tenants in rented homes are being charged in order to provide subsidies for rental rebates on such schemes as the States themselves administer. In other words, the broad field of the low income group is being asked to provide the money to enable the States to make up the losses that they incur in relation to rental rebates. Some of the States provide rental rebates today. It is completely unfair to ask the low income group which is participating in the State housing schemes in effect to make up the loss that is incurred on rental rebate schemes.
– What is the differential in interest rate between that charged by the States and that for which they budget in their other housing projects?
– I understand that the States pass on the money at the same rate, with administrative charges.
– Of about one half of I per cent.
– I cannot be accurate on that, but I should imagine it would be approximately that figure.
– How does the honorable senator make out the case that these people are being denied a subsidy?
– In stressing the point that a reduction in interest rates is a greater benefit to the States, I indicate that if it is to be of any cash advantage to the States, the States must charge higher prices for the homes that are being purchased and they must increase rentals. That type of subsidy is one that should fall on the community and not on the low income group that is participating in other aspects not requiring rental rebates under the housing schemes.
– When the honorable senator says that the States must increase rentals, from what must they increase them?
– From the homes that are made available for renting. The rental would be determined, having regard to capital cost. The interest charges involved in the cost of the construction of a house are included in the calculation of the price at which the house will be sold. In determining the economic rent that will be charged, a State government will take into account the interest which it has to pay and which it needs to collect. I point out to the honorable senator that if a State government is obliged to pay interest to the Commonwealth at a particular rate and, in determining the economic rent it passes that on to the purchasers or tenants at the same rate, there is no money available to the States at all with which to engage in other activities. The only way by which they can get money out of that situation is to increase the interest charges and the capital costs both to the purchasers and the tenants.
– The honorable senator said that there is no money for the States out of it. For what do the States want money?
– I do not think that the honorable senator understands me, or else I have not made it completerly clear.
– The honorable senator said that the States would have no money for their activities.
– Let me try again. I am rejecting the proposition which emanated from the Minister that the lowering of interest charges by approximately 1 per cent, was a better position for the States than if the Commonwealth had gone on subsidising losses on rental rebates, and that moneys would be available to the States, pursuant to that situation, which otherwise they would not have had. I am merely making the point that those moneys would not be available unless the States charged interest at higher rates than they were- paying on the construction and tenancy arrangements under the Agreement. I think that is socially undesirable. I reject altogether the Minister’s argument on that proposition.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– 1 turn now to the changes proposed to be made in the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement pursuant to this Bill. There are some 11 paragraphs in the amending Agreement. Most of them are completely formal and relate to changes in the years during which the Agreement is to operate. Apart from those there are, I think, four main changes effected to the existing Agreement. The Opposition has no objection to any of them. They all, to an extent, liberalise existing provisions of the Agreement but make no truly fundamental changes. We approve the change set out in clause 2 of the Agreement which extends the degree of priority in favour of ex-servicemen in obtaining State homes to those persons who, in effect, qualify by service in Vietnam and Malaysia and other persons who later may serve in special areas.
The provision in clause 7 of the Agreement removes the restrict/on upon the States which obliges them not to erect outside the inner metropolitan area flats or home units higher than three storeys. That provision has proved to be very obstructive, having regard to modern housing developments, and that restriction is removed completely. The States are now free to build to whatever heights are considered practicable and desirable under their laws. The third main change in the Agreement is in relation to the clause which provides for the States to set aside a certain proportion of homes for serving personnel in our armed forces.The new proposal is that there may be agreement between the Commonwealth and the States that the standards of housing are not to be as hitherto - that is, those ordinarily set by the State - but are to be according to the Service scales and standards of accommodation. That is a matter of accord. I think I can subscribe to what the Minister for Housing said; that she hopes that the States will meet the Services’ wishes in this matter. That is a liberalising provision and we have no objection to it.
The final matter to which I wish to refer is that dealt with in clause 9 of the Agreement. I refer to clause 9 (b) in particular. lt provides that a certain proportion of money in the Home Builders’ Account, which is available for building societies, by agreement between the Commonwealth and the States is to be paid to the State housing authority to finance home builders in rural areas where there is no building society or where the facilities of a building society cannot readily be established. The Opposition does not complain about that. To the immediate purposes of the Bill we have no particular objection. Those amendments contained in the Bill were supported, f understand, by all State Ministers.
That degree of unanimity is to be offset by the fact that it has been publicly stated - and I assume it is true - that the Commonwealth rejected the unanimous request of the States for additional moneys for two purposes; to enable the States to proceed with slum clearance programmes and with the provision of homes for pensioners and other aged persons. It will be noted that these are two of the matters that are stressed in the amendment 1 have proposed on behalf of the Opposition. Slum clearance is adverted to in paragraph (5) of the Opposition’s amendment. Paragraph (3) of the Opposition’s amendment deals with homes for the aged and pensioners. With regard to that latter matter, the Minister, in her second reading speech, said -
Moreover, I am continuing to give consideration to the needs of aged persons for adequate minimum housing at reasonable rentals, and the problems that arise from re-housing those living under slum conditions. 1 rather shudder when I hear from the lips of a Minister in this place that that Minister is considering a particular proposition. Since 1958 we have been told that regularly in regard to the recommendations of the Constitutional Review Committee, yet those matters are still being considered. I am sure that some of my colleagues in the Senate who are concerned with the Senate Select Committee on Australian Productions for Television get no joy out of the fact that they are regularly told that the PostmasterGeneral concerned is considering the recommendations contained in that Committee’s report. I hope that the new Minister for Housing is not going to be tainted by that form of consideration and thai in her case consideration will lead to thought and that thought will lead to action. I do read, quite frankly, into the way she expresses herself in making the statement to which I have just referred that she does propose to take some action. I hope that is to be the case.
I turn now to the Opposition’s amendment. I have already indicated rather briefly that our opposition is to the main approach of the Government to the question of housing in Australia. The Commonwealth has many opportunities to engage in this field by providing homes for soldiers, pensioners, migrants and its own employees in the Territories as well as by grants to the States. There are other fields as well in which the Commonwealth might embark without constitutional difficulty. We regret that a much broader approach is not made to the whole problem of housing for the people. I trust that under the aegis of the new Minister the Government’s approach will be broadened.
The Opposition claims, as 1 have indicated in this amendment, that the existing Agreement has not adequately met the housing needs of the Australian people. In support of that proposition I refer honorable senators to an answer given on 1 7th August last by the then Minister for Housing to Mr. L. R. Johnson. Mr. L. R. Johnson had asked what were the number of applications outstanding with each housing authority to rent and to purchase homes at 30th June 1964. The details, State by State, were given except for South Australia, in respect of which no information was forthcoming, lt appears that at that date, from the figures supplied by the Minister, there were 61,180 applications pending. That is a vast number of applications pending. Now, what results were achieved in the year that immediately followed, the last financial year? “ Australia In Facts and Figures, No. 87 “, published by the Australian News and Information Bureau, Department of the Interior, publishes these statistics that I quote at page 47. In that period the dwellings completed under Home Builders’ Account totalled 4,406 and there were 2,421 dwellings, mostly new, purchased. In addition, 10,600 dwellings, including defence houses, were completed by State housing authorities with the balance of Federal advances. At the beginning of the financial year 1964-65 about 61,180 people were awaiting homes. During the year that followed 17,457 homes were provided through building societies and State authorities. At the end of the period there were still 43,723 unsatisfied applicants.
– Would the honorable senator mind restating the number of homes that were provided?
– A total of 17,457 were provided. That number includes 4,406 built through building societies, 2,451 dwellings purchased, and 10,600 provided by the States. I make the point that of 61,180 applications pending as at 1st July 1964, a total of 43,723 were unsatisfied at the end of the year.
I come now to the number of applications that were pending as at 30th June 1965. On 21st September 1965, as reported at page 1,113 of the “Hansard” report of proceedings in another place, details were supplied showing the number of applications that were outstanding as at 30th June 1965. Again without any figures from South Australia, those details show that 62,586 applications were pending. So as between 1st July 1964 and 30th June 1965 the position had not improved. I concede that some applications may have lapsed because people were accommodated elsewhere. But I should expect that the housing authorities, which are quite efficient, keep a running check on the viability of these applications. They would not want their estimates to be cluttered up wilh applications in respect of which there was no real intention to proceed. I think I might fairly make the comment that the number of applications might indeed have been a great deal higher but for the fact that many people are dissuaded by the heavy backlog and the long waiting period that they face. So one of those considerations might well be offset against the other.
Each of the States is in need of development and decentralisation. Each of the States has great projects under way. In Tasmania we have development in remote areas such as Savage River, where iron ore deposits are being worked, and Zeehan, which is being resurrected as a result of new mining activity. Tasmania could do with a great deal more money to keep pace with its policy of providing homes at reasonable rentals for low income earners in those areas. If such homes cannot be provided, people will not stay in these new virgin areas but will drift back to the cities and the main purpose and policies of the State will be defeated. So it is important, not only to clear the backlog, but also to keep up with the new and promising developments that are occurring.
More money is needed for the purpose 1 have set out in paragraph (!) of the amendment. We see no hope for improvement unless Commonwealth advances are increased at least by amounts equal to those allocated in the current financial year to building societies. Thirty per cent, of the amount allocated last year would be approximately £20 million. At least that additional amount ought to be provided to the Slates. As the Minister acknowledges, the Commonwealth and State housing scheme was set up primarily to deal with people in receipt of low or moderate incomes who seek modest accommodation at reasonable rates, whether for purchase or rental. Out of that scheme has come the Government’s decision that 30 per cent, of the moneys provided shall be applied to the building societies. One does not complain about money being made available for building societies. They cater for a very worthy class of person. These people who are setting up homes deserve help, and we do not complain about their being assisted.
– That is new thinking on the part of the Australian Labour Party, is it not?
– We do not complain about that, as long as the money is not taken from the people who receive lower rates of income than those who are able to find the deposits that are required by building societies. We have no objection to the Commonwealth helping them. Our objection has been directed to the taking away from the use of low income earners the proportion of money that has been allocated to building societies. We say that, whilst the allocation of money to building societies is a desirable development, it should not be done at the expense of the average low income earner. This is what this Government has done. That is one matter which we contest. We say that the moneys that are made available to the States for their ordinary citizens for homebuilding should be increased by the amount that has been taken from the grants and passed on to (he building societies. We have settled on a particular figure to give an indication of the kind of amount that we have in mind. 1 repeat that the amounts that are available for the low income earners should not be cut down by the amount that the Government sees fit to allocate to building societies.
We think that the rate of interest that is charged is still too high, despite the fact that the Commonwealth passes on the money at a rate which is approximately 1 per cent, less than at the rate at which it borrows it. That is a subsidy to the States, lt does enable the States to charge lower rates of interest than they otherwise would to the people who look to them for homes. We believe that in this great national field in which there is an unsatisfied backlog, the rate of interest should be lowered still further. We pinpoint our thinking on this matter by saying that the moneys should be made available to purchasers and be reckoned against tenants only at a rate which is equivalent to that charged under the War Service Homes Act.
In paragraph (3) of the amendment we take up a point that 1 have already made and which 1 understand that State Ministers have made with complete unanimity. We ask for additional moneys to be made available to provide houses for aged and disabled persons and others who are in needy circumstances, and for the old rental rebates to be restored. Allied to that proposal is the proposal set out in paragraph (41 of the amendment. We suggest that in a proper housing scheme subsidies should bc provided for tenants or purchasers who through bereavement or injury become unable to meet a prescribed economic rental or repayment. Losses will be incurred under these two headings. Implicit in what I have been putting is the suggestion that we should restore the old system. Under that system the State makes the rebates under denned and approved conditions and then the Commonwealth finds either the whole or portion of the loss that is incurred. In other words, whatever loss is incurred is borne by the community at large and not by the other people engaged in taking homes or renting homes from the State.
I pass to the fifth item. We say that there should be clear and particular advances for slum clearance, land development and town planning. In almost every developed country in the world that type of thing is done by governments in Federal systems as well as by governments in unitary systems. The United States of America provides for it by helping the States, ft makes loans or guarantees loans that the States raise for themselves for slum clearance, lt is to the advantage of the big cities and the nations that slum clearance should proceed all of the time, lt has been started but there is no dynamic programme and it is incumbent upon the Federal Government of Australia to lead the way in that matter. The same remarks apply as regards what other countries and Federal bodies are doing in respect of land development and town planning. It is noi of much use to proceed in a haphazard way to erect houses. The whole thing has to be planned so that in reasonable proximity to housing settlements are all the ordinary facilities, cultural, social, sporting, civic, and the rest. In other words, we should build communities that are self contained to a high degree, eliminaing the need for travelling long distances to and from work. Allied to that and concerned in town planning is the idea that industries might well be translated into these areas.
In short, what the Opposition says is that housing settlement should proceed with full and clear forethought and planning. We say that that is not being done, mainly because there are not adequate funds for the purpose. So we keep coming back to the point that the provision of adequate money is primarily the key to solving this national problem of housing. I want to interest the Minister particularly in a broad approach to this question of housing. I invite her to have a look at the Labour policy and programme on health. It is set out in the report of the 1965 Commonwealth Conference of the Australian Labour Party and it covers several pages. I shall be happy to present it to her. If she wishes, I shall incorporate it in “ Hansard I do not want to force it into “ Hansard “ but if anybody is interested I shall be happy to do that. It deals in a most comprehensive way with all of the aspects of health that the Opposition can see. At least, we hope that when the Minister is giving the consideration that she has promised to various major aspects she will get some new angles on the whole problem. I shall be very happy to make the report available to her.
I indicate that we do not anticipate that more than one amendment will be proposed in Committee. The Opposition thinks, and I would expect the Minister to agree, that there should be in this legislation provision for an annual report by the Minister or through the Minister to the Parliament. There is such a provision in the Homes Savings’ Grant Act and the Housing Loans Insurance Act. We have been plagued for years, when we have wanted information on the operation of this Agreement, with having to search the reports of the various States and to pester the Minister with questions which could have been answered readily if we had had regular annua] reports. I think that the time has come, particularly with the huge development in this field of Commonwealth and State housing, for the Minister to present an annual report so that we may have all the relevant information collated in one document. This would make for a better understanding, better debates and better thinking by us all in relation to these matters.
Our main lament in relation to the Government’s policy is that it is a thing of bits and pieces, that it is not imaginative, that it is not progressive, that it is not broad and national enough in its outlook. I conclude by saying that we hope for an approach of that type under the aegis of the new Minister. We think that a great opportunity rests before her. I trust that she will see it, seize it and persuade her colleagues to take their courage in both hands in this important field and branch out into it on a truly national basis.
– I am always quite happy, even excited, if 1 know that I have been allotted a time to address the Senate following an opening speech by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) because one does hear from him a lucid speech, with argument explained and, one feels, sincerely meant. We have had that opportunity today. But in speaking to the Labour amendment, 1 would remind the Senate that it would not do anything to the Bill, lt does not seek to delay the. implementation of the Bill, amend the Bill or alter in any way the Agreement between the Commonwealth and the States. However, it is an outline, a hint of the Australian Labour Party’s thinking in respect of housing in the Commonwealth. Therefore, as it comes from Her Majesty’s Opposition, it must be thought about, considered and discussed. But all of the way through this debate we shall find that, although both sides of the Senate agree that everything possible should be done to ensure good housing conditions for Australians, differing political philosophies come out into the open. We get the Socialist idea opposing the private enterprise idea that came as a new breeze into this aspect of administration in 1949 and has been endorsed again and again by the electors of Australia.
The opening paragraph of this amendment really boils down to whether the Commonwealth Government is playing its role correctly in the matter of housing. 1 claim that the Government has accepted more responsibility than was previously accepted by Commonwealth Governments in respect of many aspects of housing throughout Australia. I do not claim that the housing situation in Canberra or in any of the States is satisfactory. However, later in my speech I hope to show why I claim that this Government is fulfilling what I regard as its role in housing.
The proposed amendment contains five points. One can see the Socialist outlook in them. The 1945 Agreement provided funds with which homes could be built - homes which would continue to be owned by the Government and rented to the people. Home ownership was not taken into consideration. But that is against the philosophy which this Government represents, so when its first Agreement was implemented provision was made for people to buy those homes. Then came the idea, successfully put into effect, of a stated percentage of Commonwealth funds for housing being made available to building societies so that private enterprise could build homes. The first point in the proposed amendment is, in reality, an attack on the amount that the Government stipulates should be allocated to the building societies. It claims that Commonwealth advances should be increased -
My only real criticism or regret in relation to this Bill is that the Liberal philosophy had not been developed a little more. Instead of the present provision that not less than 30 per cent, of the allocation shall be made available to building societies, I think the percentage which is allocated to private enterprise should have been increased and the percentage allocated to housing authorities reduced, irrespective of the total allocation. So I cannot agree to the first point in the proposed amendment.
The second point brings Labour’s thinking into the open. It seeks to have the rate of interest on advances reduced to the rate charged under the War Service Homes Act. If I remember correctly, a Labour Government stipulated the rate of interest at which money would bc made available to returning servicemen to enable them to buy or build homes. 1 presume that rate was decided upon because the Government of the day interpreted the feelings of the people al that time towards ex-servicemen and said: “ These men shall have some special consideration from their country in reward for the service which they have given it “. So the lower interest rate was charged. That rate has been maintained by this Government. Now the Labour Party is saying: “ Remove the difference in the rates of interest. Do not show any appreciation to ex-servicemen. Bring everyone down to a common level. Let there be no privilege, no reward., no consideration for men who served their country in time of war”. I oppose that point of the amendment.
The proposed amendment then refers to the provision of houses for aged and disabled persons and others in needy circumstances, and the restoration of rental rebates to such persons. It is well known that provision is made in the Agreement for Commonwealth moneys to be made available for these purposes. In reality, the only argument is on the question whether the amount allocated for this kind of home seeker should be increased. I shall deal a little later with the amount made available by the Commonwealth for housing.
The fourth point in the proposed amendment asks that subsidies be provided -
Here again, I see only a difference of opinion on who bears the responsibility. I sincerely believe that no responsibility rests on the Commonwealth Government - the central Government which makes money available to the States from the central repository. The Commonwealth has no responsibility to control the funds allocated to the Stales or to signify how much the States shall make available in certain directions.
I come now to the final point, with which Senator McKenna dealt briefly. It expresses regret that the Commonwealth does not make funds available for slum clearance, land development and town planning. That was. of course, part of the Opposition’s proposed amendment to the Bill relating to housing which was before the Senate a few weeks ago. On that occasion I addressed myself to that aspect. On this occasion 1 again state that I believe the State Govern ments and local government authorities should have the responsibility of making decisions on how and when they will go about slum clearance. The same applies to land development and particularly to town planning.
I do not think that the clearance of slums or the planning of towns and cities would be improved in any way if these aspects were administered and directed from Canberra. I believe in the sovereignty and responsibility of the States. The State departments are far better fitted to carry out this work than is the Commonwealth. If more money could be made available through Commonwealth sources or from within the States themselves for slum clearance in the mainland cities, I would be very happy to see it, but I am definite in my opinion that the State Governments and local government authorities should have the sole responsibility for administering those things in the field of housing.
The Bill indicates that the Government is again looking at housing in Australia to see how it can improve its acceptance of its role in home building. I believe that credit should be given by all honorable senators to the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin). She has had to secure agreement between six State Governments of varying political colours and philosophies and her own departmental officers, bearing in mind always the Government’s policy on housing. She has now produced for the Parliament an Agreement which, we are told, has the unanimous acceptance of the seven governments. This means the unanimous acceptance of the seven housing departments or authorities which have the responsibility of advising their respective parliamentary heads. It is good to know that the Minister, with the help of her advisers and of the other Housing Ministers, has been able to produce an important Agreement which has maintained the Government’s main theme in relation to housing. I believe it will be a great asset in helping to solve some of the problems associated with the housing situation in Australia.
We know that the Commonwealth makes money available to the States at a concessional rate of interest - one per cent, below the long term bond rate; but the States cannot be said to be completely happy about housing. The State Ministers are hard bargainers. The more money that they can get out of the Commonwealth, the more popular they can make themselves, their Governments and their political parties in their home States. In this aspect of administration, if there is any criticism the State Ministers pass the blame on to the Commonwealth. They say that the Federal Government does not provide sufficient funds for the States. But we see blocks of houses and new sub-divisions being opened up throughout Australia with Commonwealth money that is given with the authority of this Parliament and as a result of the initiative of this Government. Very little credit is ever given by the States to the central Government for the policy that it has adopted on this matter.
The 1945 Agreement framed under a Labour Government, started this aspect of housing administration. Apart from administrative improvements, the big difference in the approach of the two Governments, as shown by the new agreement, is this: The Socialists want control, but we believe in sharing responsibility for housing and encouraging home ownership. There is no happier family unit in Australia than a family unit that either is buying its own home or owns its own home. People who, throughout their lives, have to live in rented premises do not have the satisfaction that comes from home ownership. So I trust that the present policy on this matter will be continued. I believe that we have to adopt a very generous attitude to people who are seeking home ownership. The money provided under this Agreement is available for people in the low income group. I have been through many homes in sub-divisions throughout Tasmania. The homes are adequate and modern, in my opinion. As long as the purchase price can be kept to a minimum, the Agreement will be fulfilling the ideas behind it.
– Does the honorable senator think that the housing authorities are producing a type of home that will be up to standard in 40 years time?
– I would not think they would be so silly as to try to do that. They are building for the present with knowledge of the present and its requirements. Few architects, builders or politicians would be designing and building houses for 40 years hence. I have commented on my idea of the Commonwealth’s role in housing. The Commonwealth has shown a growing interest in housing rather than a growing responsibility although this Government has accepted responsibility in that connection that other governments have not accepted. I suppose that in that respect it has given a lead. But it has vast responsibilities. Under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement it has to provide many millions of dollars each year. It must obtain that money from somewhere. It has carried out a pretty generous war service homes programme in a most efficient manner. Many thousands of exservicemen and their families are happily housed in homes constructed under that scheme.
As is mentioned in the Bill, the Commonwealth provides money to the States for the building of homes for defence personnel. My only comment in that respect is that 1 regret to say that, because of the Commonwealth’s policy in not developing any real defence plans in the island State, Tasmania misses out on the economic help that would be given if money were provided to the Tasmanian Government by the Commonwealth Government for the building of homes there for defence personnel. I have said this before, and 1 will not go into it fully here today. I still regret the absence of any indication from the Commonwealth about defence plans in Tasmania. That State could provide ideal situations and conditions for certain parts of our defence Services, be they of the Navy, the Army or the Air Force. One of the handicaps that Tasmania suffers under Federation is that very little Commonwealth money is spent there to bolster the State economy.
In allotting money for housing, the Commonwealth must also pay heed to the fact that its enlightened migration policy has placed a load on State Governments and local government authorities in properly housing the increasing migrant population. 1 do not suppose that this can really be claimed to be part of the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement; but I believe that the Commonwealth should be considering whether it should help local government authorities, by guaranteeing loans or making grants to them, to solve their problems in regard to sub-divisions which have been developed particularly to house the increasing migrant population, and where they have to provide all the service requirements. I suppose that the Senate could defeat this Bill by a vote, but the only result would be that the current Agreement would end on 30th June and there would be no agreement to take its place. The Senate should not negate this Bill or this Agreement, but that does not prevent us from putting forward ideas that the State and Federal authorities may consider from year to year as they keep ever watchful eyes on this aspect of administration, which plays such an important part in the Australian economy.
Senator McKenna has told us about the alleged shortage of houses. He was good enough to admit that figures do not always tell the true story. People make applications for homes and, when they get homes or housing units from other sources, they do not cancel their applications. I do not deny that, because of the shortage of government constructed homes and the lack of finance from building societies in some areas for some periods, there could be people who want to buy homes but do not make applications because they believe that the waiting time will be too long. One has only to read the daily newspapers, particularly at weekends, to see the very large number of homes advertised for sale and the large number of home units which are being constructed in Australia’s cities and which have not been sold. At present, a large number of homes, including flats and home units, are unoccupied throughout Australia. Yet I realise that there is a shortage, either because rentals are too high or the purchase prices are so high that prospective buyers cannot arrange finance. The States must go on building homes in an attempt to correct that situation. A steady supply of homes to keep pace with the demand is essential if there is to be any levelling out in purchase prices and rentals.
The Commonwealth would be doing a great disservice to this country if it suddenly injected too great a grant into the home building industry. If a mushroom growth resulted, in my view it would be disastrous to the economy because it would shortly afterwards cause a recession. If a recession occurs in the home building industry, it will be followed by a recession in many industries. It is true to say that a recession is felt right from the bush to a great percentage of our factories which produce furniture and fittings for homes. In conjunction with the States, the Commonwealth must analyse the situation at present and in the years ahead to ensure that adequate money is available from all sources - not forgetting the private sector - to maintain a steady flow of homes so that more and more families can bc properly housed.
The Agreement and the money that flows through it to the States must be considered as part of the fiscal policy of the central Government. It is hard to argue as an individual senator that more money should be made available by the Commonwealth, because the Commonwealth has many responsibilities in other sectors of ils administration. A point has been overlooked by critics of this Government in respect of the money it makes available for housing. Each year, the Commonwealth Government provides loan funds for all State Governments. If I understand the situation clearly, and I believe I do, many millions of dollars go to the State Treasuries without any strings attached and it is for the State Governments to say what amounts of money, if any, they will make available for housing from the loan funds, just as they do in the field of education, hospitals and in other fields where they bear responsibility. 1 believe that housing is primarily a State responsibility. Naturally, under uniform taxation, with the central Government’s ability to raise funds, the Commonwealth must take the responsibility of providing money for housing. In this respect it determines the amounts to be made available to the States for housing so that that money will not be spent on other Stale needs.
I believe that the building societies do great work and I was pleased to hear Senator McKenna pay a tribute to them. The building societies and the savings banks which make loans to home purchasers have done a remarkable job in recent years by sub-division projects - I can speak only with knowledge of Tasmania in this respect - that are better and more attractive than projects developed under governmental authority. Probably thai is true throughout Australia where private enterprise enters the field of housing projects. A better job is done than when it is left to the State
Governments. However, the private sector, like the Governments, is also handicapped by a shortage of funds. This may prove to be even more severe if my worst fears in respect of the United Kingdom Budget are confirmed. Australia wants money for development and to provide the essentials of homes and allied products. If money from abroad is not to flow into Australia, finance will be short for some of the essentials. We will find that the private sector is not getting sufficient funds.
– Does the honorable senator think that housing will be cut?
– I am talking about the private sector. I fear that if the inflow of overseas capital is reduced it will mean that more Australian capital will be necessary to carry on our present developmental work. The money available for other fields will be cut, because private enterprise can only let out the money that it receives. I believe one of the handicaps to the sector of private enterprise that provides money for home building - particularly the building societies - is the harm done by what 1 would term “ fringe banking “. I am only a layman in this field and I do not intend to lecture the Senate or anyone on banking and international finance, but the facts are available to everyone to show that money that could be channelled to the building societies is not so directed. Money could be invested in Commonwealth bonds to provide loan funds. Money could go into banks and be invested by them on a long term or short term basis, and could flow into the economy by providing finance for home building by private enterprise. That money is going elsewhere through the fringe banking system. I believe it would be well for the Treasury to examine fringe banking in Australia and determine the rights of the Commonwealth Parliament in that matter. Such a study could help to solve one of our problems by making more money available to the private sector for home building.
Senator McKenna has indicated the Opposition’s approval of the legislation before the Senate. I do not wish to repeat his remarks. 1 agree with the amendments. I am particularly pleased, as I am sure al! honorable senators are, that particular action is taken in the new Agreement to allow the State Governments to use some of their funds for the construction of homes by the private sector in rural areas where building societies may not operate. That is a great advance towards stopping people crowding into the cities and towards increasing home building in the rural areas. At the moment I am inclined to agree with the amendment that Senator McKenna has foreshadowed for the Committee stage in relation to annual reports. It appeals to me at the moment, but before making up my mind I will hear the Minister’s opinion on it. She may have arguments against it. I support the Bill.
– I gleaned from Senator Marriott’s remarks that he felt that we of the Opposition were merely playing politics in supporting the amendment proposed by Senator McKenna. If that is so, let me hasten to correct the honorable senator and any others on the Government side who agree with him. We of the Labour movement are very concerned with the housing needs of the Australian people. As Senator McKenna said, because the demand for housing is growing year by year it obviously follows that the steps taken so far to meet the demand have not been adequate. They have not provided a solution to this great national problem. A mere continuation of the existing arrangements will not allow us to meet the demand for housing that is building up day by day, week by week and year by year.
Among other things, Senator Marriott said that he did not claim that the housing situation in Australia was satisfactory, notwithstanding the legislative enactments that have been made in this field from time to time. It is because we, like Senator Marriott, believe that the housing situation in Australia is not satisfactory that we support the amendment moved by Senator McKenna. Senator Marriott also said that he would like to see more money for housing go to the private sector of the economy, even - I think I understood him correctly - if this meant a reduction of the amounts now being channelled to public instrumentalities. Let me make it clear that, because of the great demand for housing that exists in the Australian community today and because of the great housing lag that has existed for a number of years, we of the Opposition believe that more money for housing should be channelled to the public sector of the economy - to the public housing instrumentalities in the various States - and also to the private sector of the economy.
Senator Marriott went on further and said that the Commonwealth is developing an ever-widening interest in the housing field rather than a widening responsibility. Surely the time has arrived where the Commonwealth should realise that the housing needs of the people are now, and have been for a great number of years, a national responsibility. The Commonwealth has established a Department of Housing and it has had a Minister for Housing for some three or four years. To suggest that the only duty of the Commonwealth is to provide the States with the funds needed to construct homes for the people is to beg the question. The Commonwealth must face up to its responsibility in this matter. While it does not do so, the construction of homes will continue to lag behind the demand.
As the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) said in her second reading speech, the purpose of this Bill is to enable the Commonwealth to execute another Agreement with the States, to cover a period of five years from 1st July next. The existing Agreement expires on 30th June, and will at that time have run for five years, lt is because the existing Agreement and all the other measures which have been adopted by the Government have not catered adequately for the housing needs of the Australian people that Senator McKenna has moved his amendment on behalf of the Opposition. The existing Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement, the Homes Savings Grants Act of 1964 - which has only added another £250 to the cost of purchasing a home - the Housing Loans Insurance Act and all the other measures which have been put into operation so far by the Government have failed to meet the housing needs of the people. Those measures, laudable as they might have appeared to be at the time they were put into operation, have done little to cope with this great national problem. Merely to continue existing arrangements is, as I said earlier, not enough.
During the course of his remarks Senator MacKenna pointed out that there were 168,000 applications for houses throughout
Australia last year and that, despite the figures shown in the Commonwealth publication “ Australia in Facts and Figures “, some 43,000 applications are still unsatisfied. The great housing backlag which has existed over the years has not been eaten into, and according to recent newspaper reports the situation is getting worse, lt is easy for Government senators to satisfy themselves by saying: “ This type of legislation is good because it provides some housing for the Australian people “, but I suggest that they should say: “This is not good enough; we are not building enough homes to meet the requirements of the people “. If one looks at the Commonwealth “Year Book” one will see that the marriage rate has increased substantially in recent years. In 1963 there were, if I remember correctly, some 82,000 marriages. The great majority of the people concerned would be in the 20 to 24 years age group. What happens to young people who have the future of Australia in their hands? They save their earnings, become engaged, get married and then, if they are able to do so, buy a plot of land, whether by instalments or outright purchase. Then they go to a co-operative building society to seek finance with which to construct a dwelling. In. a great number of cases, unfortunately for Australia, they are told that they cannot be given the finance they require, either because they have not the initial deposit needed or because the amount of finance they require cannot be made available. Then, in desperation, they contact the Housing Commission of the State in which they live, only to find, to their despair, that they cannot get a home for three years or sometimes even a greater number of years. They are therefore forced to live in substandard accommodation, available at an excessive rental charge, or with their inlaws, suffering the heartbreaks and frustrations experienced by young couples who cannot get a proper start in life. We have heard a great deal in recent times - I think some comment was made on this matter in another place only last week - about the serious decline that is taking place in the birth rate in Australia today, and a lot of the blame for this decline has been placed on the new methods of birth control. I would suggest to honorable senators opposite, however, that this problem has arisen mainly because of the difficulties of young married couples in achieving a decent standard of living oi one pay packet and, of course, the inability of young couples to obtain a home where they can rear and educate their future families. That is why the problems enunciated in another place by the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Sinclair) have arisen in Australia today. Housing arrangements have not met the needs or the demands of modern times and a great back lag has been allowed to develop.
A mere continuation of the existing arrangements is not good enough. The former Minister for Housing, Mr. Bury, as far back as 15th June 1964 - nearly two years ago - asserted that Australia was building sufficient dwellings to cope with the natural increase in the population as well as the continual inward flow of newcomers. He went on to say -
Australia is building sufficient dwellings to fulfil this task and to do even better.
But despite all the talk and rosy platitudes and the occasional injection into the economy of additional finance for the building industry, figures published by the Department of the Interior in “ Facts and Figures No. 87 “, indicate that there has been no tangible effect on the great backlag in housing. Day after day and week after week, the demand for housing seems to be increasing at a most unsatisfactory rate. As Senator McKenna has pointed out, the waiting lists for homes with the various State housing authorities seem to be growing day by day. This must indicate to the Government and to those interested in this great national problem that people who are entitled to a home and who want a home cannot get one because they lack finance and cannot get it from the lending authorities, such as building societies. It also indicates that insufficient effort is being made by public instrumentalities generally to meet the housing needs of people.
This great problem must be looked at realistically and analysed carefully so that we can see what real correctives need to be effected by both the Commonwealth Government and the State Governments. The Bill, which is designed to extend the Agreement for a further period of five years, basically ignores the real and vital problems that have been outlined in the amendment moved by Senator McKenna. I want to suggest some things that might be done, in addition to the five points which are enumerated in the Opposition’s amendment, to solve this great problem. First, I believe that more finance could be diverted from one section of the building industry to another section. In particular, finance could be diverted from the concrete jungles that are being built in the vast metropolises of Australia to meet the housing needs of the people. The Commonwealth “ Year Book “, shows that in 1962-63, the last financial year for which figures are available, £42 million was spent on the construction of new building premises. This was some £2 million more than the amount spent by the States in that year on the construction of dwellings for the Australian people.
Senator McKenna referred to the housing and building section of the publication “ Facts and Figures “, which is published by the Australian News and Information Bureau for the Department of the Interior. Under the heading “ Value of new buildings by types” we find that while £157 million was spent on the construction of houses, £107 million was spent on the construction of offices and £24 million on the construction of what are referred to as “ other business premises.” Obviously, industry is channelling too much of our concrete, too many of our bricks and too much of our mortar into areas where it is of least value to the community. This material could be better utilised in housing.
What is the situation in relation to the cost of home construction? Naturally, when a young couple obtain finance and can start the construction of a home, they go to a builder, give him the plans and seek a price. What is the price these days? It would be of the order of £450 a square. That would mean that apart from the land, a home of 10 squares would cost about £4,500. If that was all they had to pay, it certainly would be bad enough, but the cost of housing is a continuing thing for those just embarking on married life.
The annual cost of a home falls into four categories. When I refer to the annual cost of a home, I mean costs in addition to the charges involved in the actual cost of construction. First, there is the debt factor; that is, the repayment of principal and interest by way of instalments. Over a period of years this becomes a great burden to workers, having regard to current interest charges. That is why Senator McKenna, in his amendment, said -
. that the existing Housing Agreement has not adequately met the housing needs of the Australian people and that this Bill will not enable it to do so unless -
There is also the excessive cost of maintenance, repairs and insurance. Month by month we see an increase in the cost of a pot of paint, of plumbing services and of hundreds of necessities. Insurance is an ever increasing burden. Then there is the problem of local government rates. This is an increasing difficulty. In the metropolitan area of Sydney in particular, workers find that they are billed overnight for £40 or £50 extra merely for the right to live in the area they have chosen. In addition, there is the cost of utilities such as water, sewerage, electricity, gas and all the other amenities of modern life. Over the years, much publicity has been given to new methods of production which are said to be the answer to the problem of providing reasonable housing at low cost, but the basic problems of annual costs have been ignored continually by the relevant authorities.
One would think in these modern days of prefabrication of homes that the cost of construction would be getting cheaper. In actual fact, to people desiring to purchase homes, the cost seems to be ever rising. One would have thought that homes which were cut out in a factory, taken to sites and erected according to prelaid plans would be cheaper than having to bring to a site the bricklayers, carpenters, plumbers and electricians required in connection with the erection of a conventional home. There are the new A type of houses, the two storey type that one sees at holiday resorts, which have a severe roof pitch. Nonetheless these modern trends have failed to solve the housing needs of the people. Contrary to any popular belief a reduction in the cost of construction of houses - and I have certainly not been able to see it, nor do the figures show it - has not been reflected in the annual cost of maintenance. In other words, should any method be discovered of substantially reducing the cost of housing, the actual reduction in the annual cost to workers is relatively small. There would be a slight reduction if there were a reduction in cost of construction. There would be a slight reduction in annual repayments or in actual costs by way of principal and interest, but other charges such as local government, insurance, water, sewerage and drainage rates, and electricity charges are rising year after year to counter the original reduction.
– Does the honorable senator agree that one gets a better quality home for the same amount of money these days than five years ago ?
– I certainly do not.
– In quality?
– Probably the quality is worse today than in years gone by. I say this principally because no control has been exerted over the building industry. There are too many jerry-builders operating in the industry today. In many suburban areas of Sydney one can see a great number of jerry-built houses for which ordinary workers have paid many thousands of pounds.
– An honorable senator has said that the houses are not expected to last more than 30 or 40 years.
– They are not expected to last more than 30 or 40 years but the people buying them are expected to pay for them.
– They would not have paid for them by that time.
– That is so, and it is not good enough. One must also consider the excessive cost of land. I cite, by way of example, the suburb of Blacktown, about 17 or 18 miles from Sydney. An article about the suburb appeared recently in the “Sun “. That suburb is in the Federal electorate of Mitchell. Land prices there - 17 miles from Sydney - are at the rate of some £2,200 a block. A survey of land prices in Melbourne was made by the Housing Industry Research Committee in October 1964. That Committee pointed out that land prices in outer Melbourne fringe areas increased by about £80, or 5.9 per cent., over a period of 12 months to June .1964. That represented an increase of 38.2 per cent, since June 1960. In other words, the purchase price of an ordinary housing allotment rose by some 38.2 per cent, over a period of four years. It was found that some of the municipalities used in previous surveys were no longer fringe areas. This meant that buyers were going greater distances in order to obtain relatively cheap land. The Committee stated that despite this the average price for fringe land was still increasing.
The real problem affecting low income earners - indeed, affecting all those in search of a home - has never been tackled by this Government. I mentioned earlier the suburb of Blacktown which is a rising outer suburb of Sydney some 17 miles from the Sydney G.P.O. It is a working class middle income area in an electorate held by a supporter of the Government, lt is an area in which the population has jumped from some 38,000 ten years ago to about 120,000 today. The people own their homes, are paying for them by instalments or renting them from the Housing Commission of New South Wales. They certainly are some of the lucky people because they have homes in which to rear and educate their children. But the Blacktown Municipal Council, obviously because it is short of funds, is to prosecute some 5,000 of them for recovery of $400,000 owing in this year’s - not last year’s - local government rates. Whilst we hear so much about the cost of development of sub-division areas on the part of private speculators, we also learn that money is required by local government authorities to kerb streets, to effect major drainage schemes, and to provide street lighting, community amenities and the wherewithal of a modern community.
In addition to this ever increasing burden of local government rates there is the cost of home sites. An analysis of the cost of home sites was made by the Real Estate Institute of New South Wales and it appeared in the Press on 23rd May 1964. The President of the Institute, Mr. Weight, said after the analysis that costs could be worked out as follows - raw materials and vacant land, 25 per cent., and charges paid to statutory institutions such as councils, water boards, etc., 41 per cent. Despite the fact that an allowance of 41 per cent, is made for charges by local government authorities in the analysis of the cost of home sites the recurring problem of rates is a great one. Mr. Weight went on to say in this analysis of the costs that professional services such as legal, surveying and engineering fees amounted to 6 per cent, of the purchase price and that selling costs were 5 per cent.
Mr. Weight said that loss of interest on money during unproductive periods amounted to 9 per cent, and that the developers’ profits were of the order of 14 per cent. What I am pointing out to honorable senators is that, whilst these costs are supposed to be taken into account in the sub-divisional arrangements of an area, home builders and buyers still have to meet the commitments imposed by local government organisations after the homes have been constructed and the suburbs laid out. They are finding continually that the local government organisations require more money. I wonder today how young people who marry early in life and have families at an early age ever hope to acquire a home.
Mention was made earlier in this debate of the Homes Savings Grant Act. We find at page 47 of the document “ Australia in Facts and Figures, No. 87,” which was referred to by Senator McKenna, that the average cost of a house and land in New South Wales over the last 12 months has risen by about £170, but it is nearly three years now since the Government decided to make a homes savings grant of £250. I believe that all these things have to be looked at by the elected representatives of the Australian people. Someone must provide for a uniform building code throughout Australia. There must be adequate and proper planning in relation to the building labour force. Moreover, the apprenticeship system must be overhauled, as was suggested in the report of the Vernon Committee. The Committee pointed out that the next five to ten years will bring, not only a large increase in the rate of growth of the work force, but also important changes in its character as it relates to the building industry. The Committee further suggested that in future years the number of men with appropriate technical skills will fall far below requirements. Until all these matters are analysed, studied and dealt with realistically, despite all the legislative enactments that are made from time to time and all the agreements that are entered into between governments not one atom of good will be achieved.
I sympathise with the Minister for Housing in the problems that confront her. If I may say so, she is a very pleasant person; but she has inherited a lot of worries. Unfortunately, pleasantness will not solve this great national problem. For the reasons that I and Senator McKenna have outlined, we of the Opposition say that the existing Housing Agreement has not adequately met the building needs of the Australian people. This Bill certainly will not enable the Government to meet those needs unless the five matters mentioned in the amendment are noted and acted upon. I support the amendment.
– I want to speak briefly in support of the Bill. I join in the statements that have been made about the present Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) and pay tribute to her for the manner in which she has taken over the Department of Housing. Like Senator McClelland, I express sympathy for the Minister because of the multitudinous problems that must be faced in administering a portfolio of this kind.
I want to mention two or three general reasons for supporting the Bill, to say something about the amendment that Senator McKenna has moved, and to draw attention to one or two remarks made by Senator McClelland. I think I quote Senator McClelland correctly when I say that he indicated that the housing problem had not been tackled by any Government. I presume he took into account the fact that a Labour Government was in office in 1945 when the first Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement was entered into. The honorable senator will have noted the limited way in which that Government dealt with the housing situation. I am in some measure of agreement with him when he says that that Government did not tackle the housing problem. That leads me to observe that the Government that was in office in 1956 and the present Government have really tackled the housing problem. The Agreement that we are discussing today carries forward the steps that were taken in the 1956 and 1961 Agreements, which authorised advances for the period from 1956 to 1966, which will conclude on 30th June next. The Agreement we are now considering brings forward some amendments which indicate that this Government is tackling the housing problem.
Everybody is aware that housing is a complex and difficult problem. The problem changes as the nation changes and as its industrial and population trends change, lt changes as economic circumstances change. We must pay tribute to the Department of Housing for the manner in which it has
Drought forward in the Agreement amendments to deal with certain changes. I refer, by way of illustration, to the provision that has been made for housing for members of the defence forces and rural workers. 1 think it is pertinent to say that the legislative programme for housing has come a long way since the initial programme was worked out between the Commonwealth and the States. The Minister did very well to draw attention to this fact in her second reading speech, and to the fact that the Chifley Agreement of 1945 placed the emphasis on low rental housing. All arc aware that in 1945 the nation was confronted with a rather different housing problem from that which faces us today. The appropriate Minister of the day, Mr. Dedman, when introducing the 1945 legislation in another place, emphasised that the Agreement in question dealt almost exclusively with low rental housing. He referred to the necessity to accommodate returned servicemen and their families, thousands of workers, and the migrants who were then starting to arrive in this country. Tn approaching the problem, the Government of the day had only one aim in view. The 1945 Agreement was not developed, ds subsequent housing agreements have been developed, with a recognition of the wide need of the Australian community. I think it can safely be asserted that, because of the approach that was adopted at the time, the original Agreement of 1945 discouraged people from purchasing or establishing their own homes. Subsequent agreements, including the one that is now before us, have facilitated home ownership and have widened the approach to housing.
This leads me to open up some discussion about the Commonwealth’s role in the field of housing. I suggest that there has not been any point in our history at which it could be argued with finality that the housing situation was completely satisfactory. As time goes by there will always be a need for some kind of housing. We need to take account of the fact that in Australia there is a division of authority in relation to the way in which people live, move and are employed. We need to take into account the autonomy of the States. If an increasing number of people expect the Commonwealth to advance an increasing sum for housing, surely the day will come when the Commonwealth Government, of whatever political complexion it is, will say with justification: “ If more of the people want more of our money, surely we should have more say and more control over the way in which it is spent.” But then we must take into account the opinions and rights of the States and the relationship of State authorities to the people who live in the States. If we plead ad infinitum for more Commonwealth money for housing, the stage may well be reached where the Commonwealth will demand, and indeed be expected to receive, complete control over housing. lt may be said that the amount that has been advanced for housing is inadequate. This is an argument that could be advanced in most circumstances. There would hardly be a stage in our history when we could not do with more money for housing, but if we put forward that line of thought let us not be unmindful of what has already been done. I think most honorable senators would be aware that allocations to each State under the Housing Agreement are not necessarily decided by the Commonwealth. The Australian Loan Council comes into this matter. It fixes a limit to the borrowing programme for the year under consideration, and the States nominate the amount that they require for housing.
Then, as 1 think all honorable senators will remember, the Commonwealth only in recent times brought forward a further $15 million for housing. The tax free grant to young couples has also occasioned quite a wide degree of public support. Indeed, over $7 million has been expended under this heading in the first six months of 1965-66. Subsidies for homes for the aged, housing finance for the Territories and other related provisions are all part of what may justly be called a very worthwhile housing programme. The Agreement before us con tinues in that tradition, but with improvements and extensions. Indeed, it is geared with flexibility to meet the current needs of Australia’s housing situation.
I want to take only a few minutes to emphasise the value of this programme, to which I have been referring, to the wide range of community needs. The Minister has referred in her second reading speech to the fact that in 1956 the Home Builders Account was inaugurated. The Leader of the Opposition himself has paid tribute to the building society movement. This forward move has played a big part in the encouragement of private homes and the encouragement of home ownership. In the nine years from 1956 to 1965 some 44,000 private homes were financed by building societies. The Department has pointed out that the great bulk of people seeking homes wish to live in privately built houses of their own choice. This, I think, is advantageous from the point of view of personal and public responsibility, because people who own homes generally have an outlook which is influenced by this fact and thereby a degree of personal as well as public responsibility. Also, it provides against what I suppose is one of the most depressing effects of great housing estates. In spite of the fact that we are assured that there are quite a number of designs and plans, there is a sameness in estates which could become, and will become in due course, depressing. On the other hand, if people use some initiative and employ their own designs, within limits, in home building, there is lent a dimension to our suburbs, towns and provincial centres which can reflect credit not only on the people who put them there but also, in the end, on the total community. So it is not without importance to repeat that the Minister has pointed out that Australia has one of the highest ratios of home ownership in the world. Indeed, the South Australian Housing Trust in its last report observes that there is a strong demand for houses that the Trust has for sale. So people have a strong desire to purchase homes of their own.
While the Agreement caters for low rental housing and also for home ownership groups, we should pay a tribute with a good deal of gratitude for the way in which there is very genuine provision for home building in rural areas. Australia has always had this history of improvement and development of rural areas. Introduced into the total Australian picture today is the picture of an industrial society and the fantastic amount that it is contributing to our position in the world. But for all that, we still have a vast area of rural needs and demands. While primary producers, graziers and farmers, have been working at maximum effort to improve production in both quantity and quality, they have had many problems in relation to rural workers. This is apparent not only on farms but also in other places. I refer specifically to small townships, country towns, provincial centres and what might even be described as villages. As there is provision in this Agreement for assistance to housing in these areas, it surely provides for another group of people and underlines my earlier assertion that it provides benefits for a wide range of the community.
When we think of housing in small country towns and small rural areas, please do not let us forget that this involves more than just a house for a man on a farm, a garden or other property, or for a worker on a larger estate, lt also improves the general development and life of rural towns, which are removed by short or long distances from capital cities or large provincial cities. This has an influence on a township, in terms both of attraction of other people and of bringing in other activities or at least services, or an improvement in agencies, such as banking and stock firms, while there is always an attraction that will mature from the provision of communications, airways, roads, telephones, television and all the other things that go to help decentralisation and to make a stable and contented community other than in cities, suburbs, and provincial centres. This is important, because one of the factors that we want to encourage into Australian life is a contented community that is satisfied to take up its lot in a place other than the eastern seaboard and certain other parts of Australia.
The amendment incorporated in the Bill is to be commended. It underlines the degree of flexibility and the practical and realistic approach of the measure. We emphasise these improvements and we support them. In drawing to a close, I want to add that while this may be very commendable, housing is not only an economic measure as outlined in the Bill but is also a social and personal one. We could have long discussions on the matter of low rental housing, which is essential, and on home ownership, but we must beware that in our housing programmes we do not reach a stage where certain styles get out of hand so that we are constructing for the future areas that may be depressed or may even be regarded as slums. While some blocks of home units that we see in. our cities are very attractive today, I hope that as housing programmes are extended those involved will have cognisance of the fact that the attitude of people to this kind of construction in the next 25 or 30 years - someone has said 40 years - may be different from what it is today. This, then, calls for attention not only to housing development but also to community and area development. I have in mind open spaces, street planning and communications of all kinds so that the area does not become depressed but rather continues to provide for people who need this kind of accommodation, perhaps people living alone, perhaps couples, perhaps small families. Housing has a variety of facets. Today’s industrial society, in which people want to be near their work or near the centres of cities, means that we have this emphasis on home units and multistorey flats. They all add to the total turnover and movement of people, but we need to have this word of caution continually before us as we survey, think about and legislate for housing agreements from time to time.
I turn to the amendment which Senator McKenna has brought to the Senate this afternoon and direct attention to the emphasis which Opposition senators have placed upon its several clauses during the course of this debate. I take issue with Senator McClelland, who said that this Bill is merely continuing a few existing arrangements. He referred to increased costs and listed council rates and the costs of plumbing and of building. But he did not mention, as he well knows, the increase in the wages bill over the last few years, which surely has made a major contribution to increased costs. He must admit that increased wages have played a major part in the increase in local government costs, on the increase of rates and taxes and of water rates and of the cost of the other services to which he referred.
As I look at Senator McKenna’s proposed amendment, 1 return to an observation 1 made earlier. I ask myself, as I ask the Senate: What is the Commonwealth’s role in any total housing agreement? I think the honorable senator observed that money was the answer to practically all the problems on this field. If that argument is to be carried through to its conclusion, I ask him: Where does the measure of autonomy or control begin and end? The last paragraph of the proposed amendment relates to slum clearance, land development and town planning. These surely carry overtones of some kind of control, some kind of authority, which, if I read his argument correctly, must come from the Commonwealth. I think he said that industries might well be translated to some areas. Does he mean that if this amendment is carried and advances are made for slum clearance, land development and town planning, certain areas will become self-contained to a high degree and industries will be translated to those areas? Does this mean that the Department of Housing, of whatever political complexion the Minister may be, will be the controlling authority on where money is spent, how it is spent, where houses are built and where industries and agencies shall go? If this were carried through to its logical conclusion, I suggest that although the organisation concerned would have a vast plan it would have an equally vast number of discontented people. I think that these Agreements have met, are meeting and will continue to meet not only the needs of the moment but also the changing needs of this country in the foreseeable future. I ask the Senate to support the Bill and reject the amendment.
.- I spoke on a related housing Bill about a fortnight ago and therefore my remarks on the measure before us will be brief. I rise mainly to express my disappointment that a provision exists in the Agreement that each State shall allocate for private home builders not less than 30 per cent, of the the State’s allocation. I am disappointed because I think the allocation should be at least 40 per cent. I have always been a supporter of co-operative housing societies. I remember well when legislation was passed for their establishment in the Victorian Parliament by, I think, the Government of which the late Albert Dunstan of the Country Party was Premier. I recollect that when the legislation was first introduced vested interests tried to prevent its passage. The Australian Labour Party at that time, largely under the inspiration of the late H. M. Cremean, who was the Deputy Leader of the Parliamentary Party, was responsible for action which resulted in the Government determining to go on with the Bill. The Australian Labour Party has always been, or always was during my association with it, a strong supporter of co-operative building societies.
I like them because of their nature. They depend to a great degree on self help. I think we should support organisations which do not say to the Government: “ Do everything for us “ but rather say: “ We do a lot for ourselves; help us to do the rest “. Another point to be remembered is that more houses will be built by co-operative building societies with a given amount of money than will be built under a government sponsored scheme. Therefore, it seems to me obvious that if we want more houses to be built - what else should be the object of a housing agreement? - we should divert the finance available in the direction where more houses will be built. For that reason I say that the 30 per cent, allocation should be at least 40 per cent.
Last week, I think it was, I asked the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) a question on this aspect. I suppose she feels that she cannot comment to any extent on the degree to which States divert funds made available to them, but I detected a look of great satisfaction on her face when she told me that in Queensland, her own State, the building, societies receive an allocation of 40 per cent.
– Of the $15 million additional funds.
– That is right. I do not know whether I am correct, but I think she has a very soft spot for the housing societies and I think she would like them to receive more than they are at present receiving. I come from a State in which a Liberal Government is in office. Regularly at elections it declares that it is opposed to Socialism and in favour of freedom. I am a little surprised that the Liberal Government in my State seems to be so careful to promote Socialist housing at the expense of the co-operative building societies, which, as 1 have said before, could build more homes than do government authorities. Not only that; there, is also a good deal in Senator Davidson’s point that there is not the rigid uniformity of design which unfortunately distinguishes so many of the Statesponsored housing estates. People can build the kind of homes they want. Therefore L say once again that I am deeply disappointed that we cannot make the amount that is allocated to building societies much larger than it is.
Figures have been produced which show that the co-operative housing societies have appealed so much to the people that their numbers are increasing continually. Unfortunately, the amount of money available for them has not increased in any comparable degree. I know that in Victoria today one has to be very fortunate to get into a cc-operative housing society and to receive a loan from it. The advantages of these societies are realised. The people want them. The people realise what a wonderful way they provide for young people wanting to build homes to achieve their desire.
Tributes are paid to the co-operative building societies by other people. Only last Sunday week I was watching a “ Meet the Press “ television programme on which a representative of the building organisations of Victoria was being questioned. When he was asked what he would advise a young couple who wanted to build a home in Victoria in the present circumstances to do, his answer was very forthright. He said that he would advise them to join a co-operative building society. Later he was asked what governments should do to encourage home building. His answer was that they should make more finance available to the cooperative building societies. I do not know to what degree the Commonwealth can influence the States. The Minister for Housing, in her reply, said that she felt that it was a matter of ordinary individuals stirring up public opinion so that the States would take action. Have I quoted the Minister correctly?
– I said that people should make representations to their State Premier or State Minister for Housing.
– That is a much more kindly way of putting it. I put it more bluntly. At any rate, the Minister suggested that the electors should put their case to their State Government if they want something. I suppose we could agree on that. However, I believe that the Commonwealth, as the body that is giving the money, ought to be in a position to express strong views on this matter. There is a saying that he who pays the piper calls the tune, foi this case I hope that she who pays the piper will do a bit of calling the tune in the future. I, together with many other honorable senators and many people in this country who want to build homes, would be very happy if the Commonwealth could impress upon the States the necessity for seeing that a reasonable amount of the finance available for home building goes to the co-operative building societies. I would like to see the figure at least 40 per cent. I agree with Senator Marriott in his reference to fringe banking. I have not any doubt that he put his finger on the spot in that respect and I hope that this matter will be considered. I agree with him that the Government ought to consider it because its effect on housing is greater than many people think it is.
We members of the Australian Democratic Labour Party will not vote for the amendment. It contains points with which we agree; but we feel that it has in it practically everything except the kitchen sink. Whilst it would be very commendable to provide for slum clearance, land development, town planning and many other things, all of them would cost a lot of money. If we include them in a housing agreement we are entering areas which we have not entered before. It is questionable whether the Commonwealth should let other people take charge of those areas or take an interest in them itself. If we spend large sums of money on things of this sort, the only result can be that there will be less money for the actual building of homes. We are considering a Housing Agreement for the purpose of building homes, and we should concentrate on that.
For those reasons, we are not prepared to support the large number of matters raised in the amendment. Some of them are very commendable, but we make the point that only a certain amount of money if available. We would like to see money made available for some of these purposes, but the only result of providing money for all of them would be the building of fewer homes. Therefore, we will vote against the amendment.
.- I rise to support this Bill. The Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) must be particularly heartened by the knowledge that three political parties represented in this chamber give great support to the actions of the Government in this matter. From the viewpoint of my Party, the highlight of this measure is the fact that, for the first time, people who live beyond the bounds of the metropolitan areas of our cities will receive at least the initial fruits of an extension of the Housing Agreement that has existed for a number of years. I, along with other honorable senators, support the principle that the Commonwealth should endeavour, through the States, to direct as much finance as possible to the private sector of the building industry. lt is fair to say that in the housing industry nothing is more important than having an alive industry devoted to the construction trade. I believe that from this facet of industry flow very nearly all of our other basic industries. I have been connected with this trade for some time. I have seen the pulse of the Australian economy decided very much by whether there is a vital and growing home construction industry or whether, for the time being, insufficient finance is available to allow a demand for the services of this trade. There is also an awareness now that what we are endeavouring to do in Australia in raising our standard of living is tied up very much with the quality of our homes and their internal fittings. The standard of our home life is basic to the Bill which is before us today and which we support.
Speaking in support of the Minister’s earlier comments, I say that it is worthy of note that 30 per cent, of available finance is the minimum that the States may apply to the co-operative building societies. T am surprised that State Governments that con sider themselves to be anti-Socialist Governments do not apply a higher percentage than 30 per cent. There is a great opportunity and a great demand for the private sector of industry to play a more important part in the economy of this country. Surely that should be the aim of Governments which claim that to be one of their principles. We have heard the proposition that a State can make the decision on the volume of money that it will apply to the government sector and the private sector. I would certainly agree with other speakers who have suggested that the 30 per cent, minimum should be raised as quickly as possible in order to achieve the benefits that other speakers have noted.
It is to the great credit of the Commonwealth Government that in 10 years up to June of this year it made available $866 million to the States for their housing projects. Indeed, the States could not have carried out the work that they have carried out but for this Agreement. 7 am interested to know - the Minister may be able to supply some good reason for this - why it is necessary for the Commonwealth to demand the interest rate that it demands of the States. I believe that if the return to the States on capital were taken into account, this interest rate would be much lower. A reduction would greatly assist individuals purchasing the homes, provided the States handed on the benefit of the reduction, and in turn this would mean lower costs.
One member of the Opposition expressed grave concern about the cost of housing today. 1 interjected to point out that there is no comparison between the value received today and that received five years ago. I believe that the Senate would do well to direct its attention to the fact that, as a result of the research that has taken place, the home that is built today not only is better fitted but also has a much greater utility value than the home that was built five years ago. Losses of living area through the construction of passageways, porches, and so on have been eliminated in modern houses. I am firmly convinced that the people in the building industry who are responsible for the erection of dwellings in our community have used their ability in recent years to supply particularly good homes of great value. Certainly this has occurred in Victoria where for about £300 a square a home of great quality can be bought. The corresponding figure in the Australian Capital Territory is about £500 a square. I look with pride to the efforts made by the private sector and the State sector of home building in being able to maintain their level of costs while providing housing of improved quality. 1 have referred to the interest rate charged by the Commonwealth because I believe that, in that respect, the Commonwealth could act to relieve the burden upon the home building industry. I believe that all honorable senators support the provision that will enable members of the defence forces to gain a measure of priority in the acquisition of homes. I am very pleased to see that attention has been paid, not only to members of the defence forces, but also to those persons who serve on special service in South Vietnam, Malaysia, or in any other area that may subsequently be declared to be a special area under the Repatriation Act for the purposes of repatriation and war service homes benefits. I am sure that all honorable senators will support that provision.
Undoubtedly, my Party is particularly pleased with the breakthrough in rural housing. Over a period of years we have seen the rural sector of the community denied access to Commonwealth finance - at least since the introduction of this housing legislation. Today a measure of success has been achieved because the Minister has stated that in a rural area where there is nol sufficient population to create a demand for a building society, and it would be difficult to form and administer a building society efficiently, under the existing Agreement a State may allocate portion ot its funds from the Home Builders’ Account to an institution, either a registered building society or a housing society. I read into this statement that some money can be made available if a rural worker wishes to gain his own block of land and build on it. Probably he can approach a State instrumentality which will have available to ;t money from the Home Builders’ Account. This is most important and is perhaps relevant to the point raised by Senator McManus in respect of the 30 per cent, allocation to the Home Builders’ Account. Can the Commonwealth not direct that the Stales take greater notice of that provision?
In two matters, the Federal Government is now directing the States: One is in respect of the allocation of homes for members of the defence forces and the other is in respect of the erection of dwellings iri rural areas. One of the greatest matters of concern for the Federal Government is the spread of population throughout Australia. For far too long we have denied access to home building finance to the people who are willing to go to the outer areas where the benefits of what may be thought by some to be ‘better living in the inner metropolitan areas are not available. This Bill does not overcome the problem involved because the ability to borrow rests upon the basis of a first mortgage. I am aware that recently the Federal Government has acted to overcome this problem to an extent by the formation of the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation. I am sure that it will become a great success in the future, but it relates to insurance on second mortgages. I think I am correct in saying that under this legislation it must be a first mortgage proposition before a loan can be made available. My Party has thought for some time that a farmer or somebody who owns a property and who may have entered into a first mortgage in respect of his primary producing activity, is entitled to consideration if he should decide to secure a home, perhaps not for himself, but for an employee on his property. It is not a proposition which would attract a lending society, which might say: “There will be very little value in your house, if we lend the finance to you to erect it and you then get into financial difficulties. No, we will not lend.” It is a business proposition which is quite sound in application but it is difficult to see the wisdom of a society lending money to an individual to build an asset well away from a position where there may be demand for the property should hard times fall on the owner.
This problem must be overcome in the future. More and more, it will be necessary for this country in the foreseeable future to decentralise the population than it has ever been necessary in the past. One step in this direction would be to overcome the difficulties connected with the security required for a first mortgage loan. I suggest that the Agreement now being confirmed for a further five years will prevent that step being taken in that period. However, I direct this matter to the attention of the capable Minister for Housing, lt is a great pleasure to see a lady of Dame Annabelle’* quality in charge of housing matters. In the years ahead, the Housing portfolio will be one of the most important folios in the area of our domestic affairs. I ask that the Minister take note of and give some thought to this particular matter because in the foreseeable future our basic reliance will be on primary production and the people who work beyond the metropolitan areas. We should work to provide for them the means necessary to achieve, probably, the greatest asset they will have, without confining them to a first mortgage proposition. I believe that I would have the support of all honorable senators in putting forward that important proposition.
I would love to see the situations envisaged by the amendments proposed by the Opposition. They just about cover everything that could be desired. Undoubtedly honorable senators opposite, if they had the reins of office, would realise how impossible it is to achieve some of the aims they have mentioned. I have great pleasure in supporting the Bill and I oppose the amendment moved by the Opposition.
[4.35]. - I rise to reply to this very important debate on the Housing Agreement Bill. I would like to say, first, how much I appreciate the speeches that have been made. They have shown a very real concern on the part of honorable senators for the housing of Australia’s people. The ideas expressed in regard to housing have not all been such as would fit in with the Agreement, but I and my Department will be pleased to consider them because, as I have said, they show the interest of honorable senators in this question. In this young and developing nation, with its increasing population, housing must be of paramount importance and something in which we in this chamber must be tremendously interested. Homes and families are the basis of our nation, and I believe that all who have taken part in this debate have spoken with a full realisation of the importance of housing to our people.
The Opposition has moved an amendment to the Bill. It is a very long amend ment, with a number of paragraphs, and in it the Opposition claims that the existing Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement does not adequately meet the needs of the Australian people. May I repeat what I said quite recently in this chamber in connection with this very matter when dealing with a proposed amendment to another housing Bill? This Agreement was never intended to meet all Australia’s housing needs. During my second reading speech I drew attention to the fact that the Agreement aims deliberately to provide housing assistance in specified fields only. As honorable senators know - many of them referred to this in their speeches - the Commonwealth offers several other forms of assistance to home seekers outside this Agreement.
The Agreement deals only with certain aspects of our housing policy, lt is designed, however, to cater for the housing needs of young families and of newcomers to Australia who cannot afford to pay market rentals for reasonable minimum accommodation. It is designed also for those who wish to own their own homes but who are unable to repay the money that they must borrow unless it is made available at below the market rate of interest and is repayable over many years. The terms and conditions of the loans offered by the State housing authorities and the very low deposits required in some States make it possible for a number of people to own their own homes who would not otherwise be able to do so. The Commonwealth assistance given under the Agreement enables the States to offer housing at low and economic rentals to those families who need this form of housing assistance.
During the debate this afternoon it was suggested that the rate of interest charged on advances under the Agreement should be more than 1 per cent, below the long term bond rate. The 1 per cent, interest concession is our measure of the financial assistance for the housing of persons in the lower income groups that we think will be appropriate for the next five years. This, I believe, is a very worthwhile contribution. Not only does it enable the States to sell homes on very favorable terms but it also makes it possible for them to charge lower than economic rents to necessitous families and elderly persons. I stress again after listening to the debate today that it is for the Stales themselves to determine how the interest concession is used. I understood honorable senators opposite to say that we should increase our assistance by offering the States advances at a still lower rate of interest so that homes could be sold on more favorable terms or so that lower rents could be charged for houses built with those advances. But I would say that in our opinion the assistance given by means of our interest concession does enable the States to charge rentals which needy persons can afford to pay. We do not overlook the fact that the economic rents of houses built ten or twenty years ago are much lower than those of houses built today. There is a large number of homes available in each State at these relatively low rentals. The assistance we are giving through our interest concession is sufficient to meet most of the housing needs of those on the lowest incomes.
The Opposition also proposes that the Commonwealth advances be increased by amounts at least equal to those allocated to building societies in the current financial year. Obviously the Opposition wishes to see more and more homes being built by governments and fewer by private enterprise. Let me stress the fact that we want as many as possible of our people to have freedom of choice as to the type of home in which they wish to live. The Government has stressed this in its policy.
After listening to Opposition speakers I have the feeling that they wish to belittle the significant benefits that flow to home seekers from the Home Builders’ Account arrangements under the Commonwealth/ State Housing Agreement. There are very many Australians of low or moderate means who do not wish to buy a government built home, even with the aid of loans made on generous conditions, but who cannot afford to borrow to acquire a privately built home on the terms and conditions offered by many lenders. That portion of our housing advances which is made available for lending by building societies is advanced to home seekers on terms agreed between the State Ministers for Housing and the Commonwealth Minister, and I believe these terms are relatively very favorable. The societies using these advances lend over periods of from 25 to 31 years and require deposits of no more than 10 per cent, and, in some cases, only 5 per cent. These loans allow a large number of families with moderate incomes to buy privately built homes which they could not otherwise afford to buy. 1 believe this is a tremendously popular scheme, and the Government would not wish to see any reduction in the 30 per cent, of the advances which must be allocated to the Home Builders’ Account. In reply to Senator McManus - and I think also to Senator Webster - I want to stress the point that this allocation is not less than 30 per cent. If a State Government so wishes, it may be more.
Opposition senators also say that advances should be made for the provision of homes for aged and disabled persons. I remind the Senate - most senators do not need such a reminder - that there is a number of ways in which the Commonwealth is at present assisting, directly or indirectly, in the provision of housing for elderly persons. The Commonwealth makes a very large contribution towards the cost of construction of homes for such persons by means of non-repayable grants under the Aged Persons Homes Act. We know the great assistance that this has been to church and other charitable organisations which, all over Australia, have made homes available under this scheme. There is also the allowance of up to $2 a week which is paid to single age pensioners occupying rental accommodation. Between the commencement of the operation of the Aged Persons Homes Act in December 1954 and the present time, grants amounting to $54 million have been approved. When all the building projects are complete, accommodation will have been provided under the scheme for 22,000 aged people. This is an important and very special form of assistance to the senior citizens of our community. But moreover, in some States the housing authorities for some time have been allocating portion of the advances they receive under the Agreement for the construction of aged persons’ units. These advances attract the benefit of the interest concession, to which I referred earlier in my remarks. This Government sees the task of housing our aged persons under adequate conditions and at reasonable rentals as a continuing one. We are not ignorant of the fact that some of our elderly citizens are suffering hardships because they are living under wretched conditions. These things concern each and everyone of us.
As I have mentioned before in the Senate, I have already told the State Housing Ministers .that my Department is continuing to examine the housing of the needy aged. My officers, with the assistance of State officers, are currently carrying out an investigation of these housing needs. The Secretary of the Department of Housing is about to undertake a first hand investigation of the means by which governments at all levels in some countries are tackling these problems. So I think I have shown that we are concerned with these matters which have again been put forward in debate.
The advances that have been made under the existing Agreement have been used for slum clearance projects and for land development in certain States. Advances may be used to acquire land on just terms, including land on which there are slums. Advances are being used to meet the cost of erecting dwellings on land cleared of slums. Money is being used in this way from the advances that have been made to the States under the Agreement.
Once again, as has been done on other occasions in this chamber, Opposition senators have implied that the Government lacks a comprehensive housing policy. Let me reiterate the more important features of our policy because this Government has a definite housing policy. First, let us look at the war service homes. Under our war service homes scheme, we offer long term loans on very favorable rates of interest to ex-servicemen who have served in specified areas overseas. As I have mentioned, we make very generous capital contributions to charitable, church and private organisations towards the cost of building homes for aged persons. We also offer grants to young married couples who save to acquire their own homes. I believe that this scheme has been of tremendous importance to young people saving to buy their first home. The grant of $500 is of tremendous assistance to them. Then we offer to insure the repayment, including interest, of high ratio housing loans so that the problem of the deposit gap may be lessened and more money may be attracted into the home building industry.
As has been pointed out already in this chamber, and as has been seen, we do not hesitate to make special advances to the
States for housing purposes when we are satisfied that this action is needed. We have used, and we will continue to use, whatever means are available to us to encourage private lending institutions to make large investments in housing. Surely all honorable senators must accept this as a comprehensive policy of Government assistance to housing in Australia. We are not, by any means, satisfied with what is being done; but as I have mentioned, we are facing up to the things that still have to be done. We have a very fine record in housing. Australians are amongst the best housed people in the world. We have a remarkably high percentage of home ownership.
The Department of Housing is investigating further the various ways in which public authorities in a number of countries provide housing assistance for those in need of it. There are also many problems that we will face in rehousing families living in areas in our capital cities that will become due for renewal. This is a field in which we can learn from overseas experience. These are some of the more important research activities that I wish my Department to undertake. They are evidence of our interest in the way in which Australia will seek to solve its housing problems in the future. These matters are of concern to the Department of Housing.
I now want to mention one or two other research projects that will be undertaken. The first is an inquiry into the sources of finance for the erection of blocks of flats and home units and the prospective demand for home units. We know all too little about this. One interesting feature of recent years has been the great increase in flat building. I appreciate that public opinion in Australia is strongly in favour of separate cottage accommodation, and I personally share that view. But there is no question that as the population of our great cities grows, so does their area. Many people do not wish to live far from the centre of their work and recreation. Young people who have not yet commenced a family and older people who have reared their family and who want to live in smaller housing space often prefer flats. This is borne out by the fact that the number of flats and home units completed increased from 11,000 in 1962 to 32,000 in 1965.
However, as Australians we have set ourselves the goal of providing a separate home for each family that wants one at a reasonable price or rental. We still have a way to go. But there is no doubt that housing standards are improving and that we in this country have a high rate ofhome ownership, which I believe is of tremendous importance. Of course, unfortunately we cannot say that no-one has to live in bad or crowded accommodation. But I believe that with a sense of responsibility and with a real appreciation of the needs of the community, this Government through my Department is working towards the goal that we have set for ourselves in a very fine housing programme. We want to provide assistance to the families of Australia.
Our houses are getting larger. They are better designed and better equipped. Taking into account the housing programme upon which we have embarked, and looking ahead, as we are, in the field of research and in considering matters which are important to housing, I believe that this Government will continue to assist in providing housing which will be of tremendous benefit to the people of Australia and which will help to overcome the problem of the waiting list, which has been referred to by Senator McKenna and other honorable senators in the debate. I thank those honorable senators who have supported the Bill. I must inform Senator McKenna and the Opposition that the Government cannot accept the amendment which he has moved.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be added (Senator McKenna’s amendment) be added.
The Senate divided, (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin.)
Ayes . . . . 21
Noes . . . . 26
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Proposed new clause 6.
– I move -
After clause 5 insert the following new clause: - “ 6. As soon as practicable after each thirtieth day of June, the Minister shall prepare a report on the administration and operation of the Agreement entered into under the Housing Agreement Act 1956, the Housing Agreement Act 1961 and this Act and lay the report before each House of the Parliament.”.
This amendment needs no explanation. I think it is justified by the argument that the then Ministry of Housing saw fit in regard to the Homes Savings Grant Act to require the presentation of a report by the Minister for Housing annually, and in the case of the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation Act to require the Insurance Corporation to present a report through the Minister for Housing. I can appreciate criticism of the amendment as drafted to the effect that it is better to impose the obligation upon the Secretary of the Department of Housing to prepare the report and have it submitted to the Parliament through the Minister. If there is any thought about the obligation for the preparation and tabling of a report, the Opposition is completely indifferent to the form in which it is expressed. I repeat very briefly what I said before, namely, that it would be a convenience to everybody in the Parliament to have in one document a comprehensive report on the operations and function of this scheme.
[5.1]. - I want to thank the Leader of the the Opposition (Senator McKenna) for his amendment. I am not completely unreceptive of this idea of an annual report. I believe that the Parliament should be kept fully informed on these important matters and I agree in principle with the amendment for that reason. But I feel that to accept the amendment would be to acknowledge that I would be in the position to supply information that was not already available to the Parliament and that would result in an informative document which justified the time and expense that went into its production. There are a number of reasons why I cannot feel confident that I could produce such a document. Many statistics that would be of particular interest to honorable senators would have to be obtained from the States. I would wish to discuss the availability of these statistics with the State Housing Ministers. They could well raise objections to the Commonwealth wanting such information because of the time and expense it would take to provide it.
I mention these practical problems to illustrate why I am reluctant to accept this amendment, which would compel me to provide information which it may not be within my ability to obtain. I assure the honorable senator that I shall give his proposal my earnest consideration. I shall discuss its practicability with my colleagues and with the State Ministers concerned. I am also prepared to assure the honorable senator that I will do whatever I can to see that the Senate is supplied at an appropriate time each year with whatever useful information is available. Therefore I do not feel that this amendment would lead to a practical situation.
– I am interested in what the Minister has said but the net result is that she is not prepared to accept the amendment at the present time in any form at all. I would like to make two observations. It will be noted that by this amendment the Minister is not tied to a particular time by which to present the report. The practical difficulties she mentioned are acknowledged in the opening four words of the amendment. The amendment reads, in part -
As soon as practicable after each thirtieth day of June, the Minister shall prepare a report . . and lay the report before each House of the Parliament.
The apprehension which the Minister felt regarding pressure of time does not arise. Secondly, it is quite obvious from the lengthy answers given by the Minister’s predecessor that the State Governments co-operate very fully in supplying statistics. I quoted today some figures supplied by the Minister’s predecessor. They ran into the most immense detail. Along with the figures I quoted it was recorded that South Australia, for reasons which apparently seemed good to the Government of that State, had made no information available as to the number of applications for homes pending in that State. I do not suggest that the States can be compelled to supply details that they do not want to supply.
– Details of what they do with money that is voted here for their financial assistance?
– I am not talking about money; I am talking about details of the kind that I have just mentioned. I forget the exact provisions in the Agreement that require the supplying of information. I should like to study (hem. I indicate to the Minister that no difficulty would be presented in the preparation of her report if the giving of information could be compelled under the Agreement or if information were not available. The Senate and the Parliament would expect the Minister to do no more than record the fact. Judging by the very lengthy answers that have been given to different members of the Parliament, I should say that such information as is available quite obviously could be presented. In the light of these further comments, I should like an assurance from the Minister that she will endeavour to have the proposal considered by the Government between now and the time when the Bill is dealt with in another place. If she were prepared to do that, I would not press the amendment. A fair amount of time will be available between now and when the Bill is dealt with in another place to consider the Opposition’s proposal. I think that the Government could be expected to decide whether it would accept an obligation for the Minister for Housing to report annually.
I am rather amazed that we of the Opposition have not pressed for, or that the Senate generally has not sought, the presentation of an annual report about the operation of the Agreement. The Agreement attracts a great deal of interest in the Parliament. Again judging by the number of questions that have been asked, I should think that it would be a tremendous relief to the Minister for Housing to be able to present a report annually and to let everybody find all they need to know in the sequence of reports so presented. The preparation of the first report might be difficult, because no doubt the Minister would want to make a starting point for amassing the various statistics. But the presentation of an annual report thereafter should not be a matter of great difficulty. Nor should we expect the States to be unco-operative in providing the information that the Minister might desire. If it came to a point of needing essential information relating to the functioning of the Agreement and the application of moneys made available under it, unquestionably there ought to be a variation of the Agreement itself.
I hope that the Minister will see her way clear to consult the Government between now and when the legislation is debated in another place in an effort to get a decision on the matter. I would hope that there would be support for my request. It might well be that some other form of words would be more acceptable than the one I have chosen and which, if accepted, would impose a direct burden on the Minister to prepare the report. I would not mind if the obligation to prepare the report were placed on the Secretary of the Department of Housing. His office has come into being only in relatively recent months and he could not have been thought of before in connection with this Agreement. It seems to me that this would be a proper function for him to perform in relation to the Agreement. It seems to me that, in addition to reporting upon other matters within his jurisdiction, he might well have the responsibility of reporting on this matter.
How can the Minister justify accepting an obligation to make annual reports in relation to some of the activities of her Department and not in relation to others? It does not seem to be logical, nor do I think that it is right from the standpoint of the Parliament or the Senate, that the information in question should not be available in the form of an annual report. I am giving the Minister time to think while I talk. Perhaps I have engaged in a little bit of tautology. I have done so deliberately - it has not been a wandering of the mind - in the hope that the Minister will be persuaded to give an assurance. If she gave the assurance that I seek, I would not press the amendment.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [5.10]. - I appreciate very much Senator McKenna’s comments. I know of his very keen interest in this matter. I do not want to commit myself on this matter at this moment without exploring all the implications and the practicability of the proposal that has been advanced. It is a matter that must be given some consideration. As I said a moment ago, I would be quite happy to consider the proposal earnestly and to discuss its practicability with my colleagues. That is all I can say at the moment.
– I thank the Minister for her comments. In the circumstances, the Opposition would like to place its view on record at this stage, because an opportunity to move an amendment of this kind may not present itself for another five years. It is not as though this legislation will come before us again in the immediate future. I regret that in the circumstances I shall be obliged to press the amendment.
– I understood Senator McKenna to say to the Minister that if she undertook to discuss the amendment with the Government before the Bill was proceeded with in another place-
– Before it was finally dealt with there.
– I understood him to say that if the Minister undertook to discuss the amendment before it was finally dealt with in another place, that would satisfy his requirements.
– Thai is right.
– 1 understood the Minister to say - quite rightly - ‘that, without entering into any commitment as to the outcome of any such discussions, she was prepared to give the proposal earnest consideration and to discuss it with her colleagues. That seems to me to meet the point that the honorable senator raised.
– But there has been no undertaking to reach a decision and to say “ Yes “ or “ No “. I am not asking for a final decision now. I want the Government to make up its mind.
– I should like to ask the Minister a question about the Home Builders’ Account. In her second reading speech, the Minister said that it is envisaged that a State may allocate up to 10 per cent, of the moneys available in the Home Builders’ Account in any financial year to an appropriate government bank or other acceptable lending institution for housing advances in rural areas. Can she indicate to me in what clause of the Schedule this authority is given?
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [5.14]. If I understand the honorable senator correctly, he asks whether reference to the 10 per cent, is contained in the Schedule.
– No, it is not mentioned in the Schedule. This is a matter for discussion between the Housing Ministers of the States and the Commonwealth.
– It will be the subject of a separate agreement?
Question put -
That the amendment (Senator McKenna’s) be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator T. C. Drake-Brockman.)
Majority . . . . 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Senator McKENNA (Tasmania - Leader of the Opposition) [5.20’J. - I understand that some question was raised with the Minister on behalf of Tasmania regarding the allocation of funds to building societies in that State. I should like to know from the Minister whether agreement has been reached on the point that was put or whether it is still at issue. I understand that the Tasmanian Minister sought approval for an alteration of clause 16(3.) of the Housing Agreement. The Minister will find that on page 10 of the consolidation that she was kind enough to submit. This provides that moneys are to be distributed by means of loans by the State to building societies subject to and in accordance with terms and conditions to be agreed from time to time between the Minister and the appropriate Minister of the State. The Tasmanian Minister sought authority to be free to make his own allocations without the concurrence of the Commonwealth Minister.
In support of his viewpoint, I direct attention to the fact that clause 9 (b) of the Schedule to the Bill inserts after clause 16(3.) of the 1956-1961 Agreement a new sub-clause (3aa.). This provides for allocation of money from the Home Builders’ Account to persons in rural areas through the State instrumentality. The next subclause permits of an allocation by agreement from the Home Builders’ Account to an institution approved by the Minister, not being a building society. Under clause 5 of the Agreement, each State has to submit four times a year, each quarter, to the Commonwealth a statement of its proposals for the use of moneys available in the Home Builders’ Account. I refer the Minister next to clause (3.) (b) which, as amended, provides that when deciding whether to give approval for the purposes of loans under the preceding sub-clauses, which relate to loans to persons in rural areas and loans to persons or institutions which are not building societies, the Commonwealth Minister shall pay due regard to a number of factors. One is the amount which building societies in the States have raised and are able to raise from private sources.
Apparently, in making the allocations under clause (16.) (3aa.), which are made now under sub-clause (3a), the Minister is to have regard to that factor, amongst others. It does not seem to me to be particularly appropriate to have clause 16 (3b.) (c) apply to loans in those two categories, because in the first instance it applies only to persons in rural areas and then, as the Minister has told us, only when there is no building society in the area. In relation to sub-clause (3a.) it would have no application, because the loan is to be to a society other than a building society. It does not seem pertinent to either of these that the Minister should have regard to the amounts that building societies in the States have raised and are able to raise from private sources.
What I think is the intention is that in determining the allocation under sub-clause (3.) - the first to which I directed attention - to the building societies, the allocation will be made by consent between the two Ministers, Federal and State. It was intended that regard would be had to sub-clause (3b.) (c) as one of the factors in determining the allocation, that is, the amounts which those societies have raised and are able to raise from private sources. I understand that the problem in Tasmania is that the range goes through building societies, some of which raise a considerable amount of money and some of which raise none at all. The only money the latter societies obtain is that which is made available by the Commonwealth. They either make no effort, or they cannot succeed in the efforts they make, to raise money from private sources to supplement their funds. It seems to be a principle of the Act that they are expected to raise funds additional to those provided by the Commonwealth to help their members. In those circumstances, apparently there is a difference between the Commonwealth Minister and the State Minister in the allocation.
The final point I make is one explained by the Minister in her second reading speech. She said that in relation to subclause (3aa.), dealing with persons in rural areas, and sub-clause (3a.), relating to an allocation from the Home Builders’ Account apart from to a building society - these appear on page 1 0 of the consolidated document - in future individual allocations will not be submitted to or approved by the Minister. In other words, a set of principles will be laid down at the beginning of the five years. The States and the Commonwealth have got away from the problem of approving individual allocations. I suggest that the same principle should be applied to sub-clause (3.), which deals with allocations to building societies. If the Minister can tell me that that principle of allocation will be determined in accordance with a formula and not year by year in . accordance with the exact list and schedule of the building societies, then I would be content. The matter sounds complicated but it really is not, and I should like the Minister to indicate the position.
I think we are all indebted to the Minister for the particular courtesy she showed in combining the 1956 Act with the 1961 Act and wrapping them up in a consolidated document, instead of obliging us to make amendments from one to the other and then superimposing the various amendments she has put through. We now work off a consolidated copy. I thank her and the Department for their courtesy.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [5.30]. - Many points have been raised, and 1 know that Senator McKenna will let me take them quietly as this is a new departure for me. I think the first point he made related to the approval or otherwise of the Agreement by the Tasmanian Minister for Housing. As I understand, he made a point about the 30 per cent, allocation.
– Perhaps we are making some progress. I will pass over some extraneous comments I have made and turn to sub-clause (3). I am concerned primarily with the allocation of what is left in the Home Builders’ Account after the provisions of sub-clauses (3aa.) and (3a.) have been applied. Sub-clause (3.) states that there is to be an allocation “ in accordance with terms and conditions to be agreed from time to time between the Minister and the appropriate Minister of the State “. In the last few lines it is indicated that there is to be agreement. That means, apparently, that year by year they take the schedule of proposed allocations. They agree year by year. I take that to be correct - that they look at it every year. In that situation - it is the one I am primarily concerned about - the schedule comes up year by year, the allocation is looked at by both Ministers and it is agreed upon.
The Minister told us in her second reading speech that where there is no building society in a rural area or where an allocation is not made to a building society, the allocations will not come up for individual approval. Instead, general conditions will be laid down which will overcome the need for obtaining individual approvals. I am asking the Minister why that principle cannot be applied to subclause (3.).
– Is the honorable senator referring to approved institutions?
– 1 do not see the complete relevance of that question. Let me repeat what I have put to the Committee. Sub-clause (3aa.) is inserted by clause 9 (b) of the agreement which is the Schedule to the Bill. It is inserted after sub-clause (3.). Then follows sub-clause (3a.). Then those two sub-clauses are wrapped together pursuant to an amendment contained in the agreement that is attached to the Bill. That is done by clause 9 (d). So sub-clause (3b.), as amended, says that when deciding whether to give his approval for the purposes of either of the last two preceding sub-clauses - that is, sub-clauses (3aa.) and (3a.) - the Minister has to take into account certain considerations, one of which is set out in paragraph (c).
– From where is the honorable senator reading?
– I am reading from page 10 of the consolidation. I read sub-clause (3b.) as amended by clause 9 (b) of the agreement attached to the Bill.
– What are “ the last two preceding sub-clauses “?
– Sub-clauses (3aa.) and (3a.), quite obviously.
– Why has not sub-clause (3aa.) been typed into this consolidation?
– This consolidation does not purport to include the provisions of the Bill, lt brings together the 1956 and 1961 Housing Agreement Acts. They were separate Acts. We have been left to interpolate the amendments proposed in the Bill.
The point that I am making is that the new sub-clause (3aa.) deals with a case where there are no building societies in the area. Sub-clause (3a.) deals with a case where the loan is not to a building society. Yet under sub-clause (3b.), in both of those cases, the Minister is asked to have regard to “ the amounts which building societies in the State have raised and are able to raise from private sources “. That does not seem to have any particular relevance to those two cases where building societies are not involved. I am arguing that that principle ought to be applied to the allocations to building societies under sub-clause (3.).
– I would like to intervene at this stage.
– All right.
.- With great temerity and reluctance, I seek to follow Senator McKenna’s argument. I will restate it in summary so that I may be checked. He says that sub-clause (3a.) refers to approved institutions. He says that sub-clause (3aa.) refers to finance for homes in rural areas.
– Not building societies.
– Yes, neither the approved institution nor the recipient of finance in a rural area being a building society. It seems to him to be a logical view that it is irrelevant that, in considering allocations to approved institutions under sub-clause (3a.) and to recipients of finance in rural areas under sub-clause (3aa.), the
Minister should have regard to “ the amounts which building societies in the State have raised and are able to raise from private sources “. I suggest to Senator McKenna, through you, Mr. Chairman, and with great respect, that two of the paramount considerations that would be in the minds of both Ministers, from whom agreement would be expected to be forthcoming and whose agreement is required as to the terms and conditions of these advances, are, first, how much is available to the State department for housing finance generally and, secondly - this is only of secondary importance to the first consideration, but at all times it has to be borne in mind as a paramount consideration - what amount has been made available to building societies.
As I understand the structure of this policy, these moneys are made available by the Commonwealth to the States for the purposes of housing. In a great degree they are allocated to the State housing authorities. But a policy of diverting money to building societies was introduced and has been maintained, as of secondary importance. A third category of recipients was added; namely, approved institutions. Now, under subclause (3aa.) of the new Agreement, a fourth category is being added; namely, people in rural areas. But I suggest that, in the allocation of money to those two subsidiary categories, it is quite relevant still to keep in mind “ the amounts which building societies in the State have raised and are able to raise from private sources “.
– I do not concede the relevance of Senator Wright’s argument to sub-clauses (3aa.) and (3a.), neither of which relates to the activities of a building society. The point that I want to make is that it is far more appropriate to a consideration of the allocation to be made under sub-clause (3.), which is the allocation to the building societies. I carry my argument to the next point; that is, that sub-clause (3b.) (c) is not relevant to sub-clause (3aa.) or sub-clause (3a.), but is relevant to sub-clause (3.). I believe that it is quite proper that, in allocating moneys among building societies, both Ministers should have regard to what the building societies seeking the allocations have been doing to help themselves. Subclause (3b.) (c) seems to me to be completely pertinent to that, but it is not expressed to be so.
I carry my argument to its final stage. The Tasmanian Minister wants to be able to take that factor into account in the allocation to be made under sub-clause (3.). He thinks that it is a proper factor to be taken into account by the Ministers. He asks that he be free to make the allocation of the amount available to building societies in that State under sub-clause (3.), taking into consideration, amongst other things, “ the amounts which building societies in the State have raised and are able to raise from private sources “.
The Minister has said that it will be no longer necessary to submit applications under sub-clauses (3aa.) and (3a.) for Commonwealth consideration. Some general principles will be laid down and then the State Ministers can go alone. I am asking that the Minister apply that same principle under sub-clause (3.) She has confined her statement on that point to sub-clauses (3aa.) and (3a.). The relevant passage in the Minister’s second reading speech states -
Under the existing Agreement, a State is required each financial year to obtain the approval of the Commonwealth Minister to the allocation of a portion of the moneys available in the Home Builders’ Account to an institution other than a registered building or housing society. The proposed amendment would do away with annual approvals for allocations to institutions wishing to make loans in rural areas. A State would simply seek the necessary approvals of the Commonwealth to an arrangement, consistent with the amended provision, that would apply to advances for the next five years. It is envisaged that the terms of the approvals would permit the State to allocate up to 10 per cent, of the moneys available . . .
I ask the Minister whether she is prepared to apply that principle to applications made under sub-clause (3.). That is the ultimate and final point. I understood that the Minister had submitted that proposition.
Sitting suspended from 5.47 to 8 p.m.
– by leave- The subject matter of the statement I am about to read is the visit of the Prime Minister (Mr.
Harold Holt) to South East Asia. Where the personal pronoun “ I “ is used, the reference is to the Prime Minister. The statement is as follows -
Southern Asia today demands and receives world wide attention and concern. In this ancient complex, densely populated region the habits and practices of centuries are bending, breaking or yielding under the impact of twentieth century technology and new concepts are challenging the old. The revolution takes many forms, most of them unsettling, some of them violent and dangerous. Conflicting ideologies compete there for the hearts and minds of hundreds of millions of human beings and these millions may have doubled by the end of this century. The Communist power seekers in Asia are trying to make this revolution the vehicle of disruption and instability enabling them to overturn established authority and shackle whole communities to their philosophy. They exploit grievances, aggravate divisive factors, undermine stability in order to bring about political and administrative chaos. Behind the Communists in South East Asia, wherever their structures are to be found, is the driving force of China.
China, with a population upwards of 700 million, is governed by a Communist regime implacably committed to its goal of a Communistdominated world. The Chinese Communists scornfully reject the concept of peaceful co-existence which has brought some respite in the cold war and an easing of tensions in Europe. Subversion and guerrilla warfare, as spelled out in the writings of Mao-Tse-tung, have been directed with planned thoroughness to the villages and paddy fields of South East Asia. These tactics have been eagerly adopted and ruthlessly used in South Vietnam by General Giap, the leading military theoretician of North Vietnam, and by the Vietcong, the self-styled Liberation Front, who have learned their lessons well from him.
South East Asia has become a critical battleground for free peoples everywhere. South Vietnam has become a testing point of the determination to prevent Communist aggression and check its cancerous spread. Australia is standing today with the people of South Vietnam, our close ally the United States of America, and the forces of other friendly countries in resisting this Communist threat. We see more than the need merely to preserve the independence and integrity of South Vietnam, important though that task may be of itself. To us, the threat is, as I have said, to free people everywhere. If South East Asia is to fall under Communist control we face a future in which the security of Australia is in jeopardy.
While at this time South Vietnam is the most heavily embattled, other countries of the area are alert to the threat also, lt ;s noteworthy that Korea, which so recently was itself a battleground of Communist aggression, has supplied more military forces, in proportion to its population, to aid South Vietnam, than any other country. Three successive Presidents of the United States have clearly recognised the threat, leading to the provision by that country of a massive and decisive contribution of forces and material. Australia, in company with the free countries of South East Asia has cause for gratitude for this contribution made to security in South East Asia by American firmness and military strength. We have admired the resolution and strength of purpose that President Johnson has brought to this issue.
The Communists have deliberately chosen to carry out aggression by covert means on the basis of long and careful underground preparation extending over more than a decade, in the training for guerrilla warfare, the establishment of secret bases and stockpiles for a protracted campaign, the securing of routes of infiltration, the introduction of specially trained cadres, the application of methods of indoctrination and of terrorism against defenceless village people. These are all elements in the infra-structure. This is the pattern of Communist aggression in the conditions of South East Asia. By these means, the aggressor seeks to escape the full censure of the free world which would flow from an open declaration of war in the sense that we have known it in the past. The enemy does not openly deploy his forces in the manner of conventional warfare where their aggressive actions are readily identifiable internationally. Even today, when North Vietnam has at least nine regular regiments of the P.A.V.N. operating in South Vietnam, the North Vietnamese will make no admission of this. Nor, of course, do they admit the earlier build up of Vietcong guerrilla forces and infiltration to which .1 have just referred. This is a war largely of attrition, in which there are no front lines and hostile activity is planned to occur, and does occur, in many widely separated places simultaneously. 1 have said that Australia stands militarily with South Vietnam, the United States and other allies, but it is also an important part of our thinking that we are able to play a useful part in the building of a better world order in South East Asia. Wherever we have been involved in a military role in this area over the post-war years, our servicemen, acting along the lines their Government has approved, have made a positive contribution to the well being of the people of the country in which they found themselves. I was glad to find that programmes of military civic action - as they are called - and rural rehabilitation and development are now accepted as an important part of the tasks of the military forces of all the allied participants. There is, in addition, an extensive programme of civilian cadre train* ing for service in the villages, which I shall refer to again later. Through the Colombo Plan, and in other ways, Australia has made a useful contribution by civilians also.
It is against all this background that my recent visit to several of the countries of South East Asia should be viewed. In each of these countries Australia has serving men and women, joining with others in holding in check the Communist threat. The existence of that threat is common to all of these countries. It has varied in degree and as to point of time. We played a part for many years, with Britain and New Zealand, in stamping out Communist terrorist activity in what was then Malaya. We sent military forces to resist Communist aggression in Korea. We have helped in Singapore and Borneo. We have given assistance in various forms to Thailand, and now we are to increase earlier military aid in South Vietnam by providing a task force.
On taking office, I decided to seize the first opportunity I could to pay a visit to our Australian troops at their various stations. I felt it desirable to have direct personal knowledge of the conditions of their service, and have them feel, from my presence, that they occupy a high place in the regard of their Government. I wanted also to have in my mind that awareness, which only personal contact can provide, of the nature of our various establishments, their environment and setting. I wanted to make the dots on the map come alive as known places with known people.
A strong team of advisers, who were also to gain much benefit and information as observers, came with me. These advisers included the Chief of the General Staff, Sir John Wilton; the Deputy Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Department, Mr. Lawler; a specialist on South East Asian affairs in the Department of External Affairs, Mr. Gordon Jockel, and Mr. Clugston of the Department of Defence. Facilities were provided, at the expense of their employers, for members of the Press who desired to accompany the party, and about twenty newsmen, photographers and television cameramen, most of them of senior status in their organisations, accompanied us. I express my appreciation to them for a consistently high standard of reporting.
In the course of the tour I visited Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, including both West Malaysia and Sarawak, and Singapore. I shall say something about each of these countries.
There were advantages in being able to travel at short intervals between the four countries visited and inspect, over the space of ten days, activities in more than twenty localities. A head of government, in addition to receiving the courtesies and hospitality considered appropriate to his office, is given means of speedy transport and communication. He is supplied with the most frankly expressed and authoritative information. It is possible in this way to gain a quick insight into the manner in which each country is tackling its national issues, and,- at the same time, have a more vivid awareness of the proximity and significance that one country bears to the other. A valuable gain from my journey has been the development of a more intimate relationship with leaders and senior Ministers in all the countries visited. This facilitates future contact and discussion on matters of mutual interest.
Vietnam, of course, in current circumstances, was the country of most immediate interest to us. It was of great value to confer with the Chief of State, General Thieu; the Prime Minister. Air Vice Marshal Ky: the Foreign’ Minister, Dr. Do; and other mem bers of the Government of the Republic of Vietnam. Theirs is commonly thought of as a military Government, and in a situation of such intensive military activity, under constant threat of Communist attack, one would expect the Government to possess, as it does, a strongly military flavour and influence. There is, however, a greater civilian composition in the senior levels of government than is generally known. The Directory comprises the military leaders and corps commanders, but associated with this is a Ministry of twenty members, of whom five are doctors, five are lawyers, four are military officers, using “ military “ to embrace three services - the Prime Minister, of course being a senior air force officer - three are engineers, two are economists and one is a trade union official. Some of them have been actively in the fight for national freedom throughout their adult life. Our talks were frank and comprehensive. They are determined to see the struggle through until freedom and independence have been secured.
The day to day reporting of events as they occur in various parts of Vietnam can obscure the extent to which economic and community life there have adapted themselves to military operations persisting over many years. Take for example, the situation in Saigon, lt is true that terrorist incidents happen there with disturbing frequency. Sometimes there is loss of life, injury and damage from Vietcong sneak raids. But it must be realised that Saigon is a large city of about two million people. Life goes on with most people unaware at the time that another hostile incident has occurred. The shops are busy; there is plenty of traffic about; people go about their occasions seemingly undeterred.
The scale of United States assistance pouring into Vietnam is enormous. Saigon, I was told, has become the busiest airport in the world. The helicopters in service are to be numbered in thousands. They have proved of immense value for rapid mobility of troops into action, and the speed with which they rescue and transport disabled soldiers for medical treatment has cut in half the fatality rate from injuries as compared with that of Korea and the Second World War. The “ choppers “ are just about the most popular pieces of equipment in the country.
My talks in Saigon and at Bien Hoa included detailed briefings from military and diplomatic representatives of the Government of Vietnam, of the United States including the Ambassador, Mr. Cabot Lodge, and General Westmoreland and of course our own Australian advisers. As a result of the information gained from them, supplemented by what one could see of the immensity of the scale of provision of military equipment and logistic requirements, I am confident that the Vietcong cannot win. The military position in South Vietnam has now been secured. The Vietcong have suffered heavy losses and their casualties have been increasing.
Sneak raids by small parties, such as that made recently on Saigon Airport, can still be carried out from time to time by the Vietcong. These raids are part of the military and political tactics of guerrilla warfare. They make dramatic news, but they do not weaken the hold of the South Vietnamese Government on the areas under its control. On the other hand, mobile forces are now available to conduct operations against enemy forces when they are located, and to penetrate into territory previously considered Vietcong strongholds.
There has been a noticeable weakening in the morale of many of the Vietcong. The sustained bombing attacks on supplies and Vietcong held positions and the speed and mobility of helicopter borne troops are having punishing effect. The Vietcong are suffering from lack of medical supplies and treatment. The number of defectors has increased substantially and significantly in recent months, both as a result of military and psychological operations. The Vietcong are now drawing on much less experienced troops, and the regular North Vietnamese regiments have proved themselves less adapted to the guerrilla type of warfare in what is for them unfamiliar terrain. They prefer to fight in formed units. This makes them more liable to detection and air attack. The heavier equipment to which they are accustomed creates a transportation problem for them. More intelligence information is flowing in, while detection methods have improved. Allied forces have been able to strike in critical areas before the enemy was able to move. In a country of such difficult terrain, and with the tactics and strategy employed by the enemy it may be a long time before the Communist threat can be subdued. But increasingly, areas will be cleared of Vietcong and a more peaceful pattern of life restored. It must be remembered that while the Vietcong control large tracts of country, they hold none of the major centres - they do not command any one of the forty three provincial capitals.
The protection, rehabilitation, and development of additional areas brought under control is a formidable task and will take a long time. It involves the re-establishment of civil administration, police, civil protection units, and a variety of civil projects to provide medical aid, education, communications and other public utilities. Here again the United States is providing massive support. Military civic action by combat troops will, however, be the initial step towards this ultimate objective.
The Government of Vietnam maintains establishments for the intensive training of cadres, each 59 in number, to be located in the villages, specially trained to help in defence against Vietcong attack and to assist the villagers to build a better life for themselves. Those to be trained are nominated by the village chiefs and become equipped to carry out tasks of medical service, education, construction of homes and school buildings; they learn improved agricultural methods and other activities of benefit to the village dweller. Since March 1964 some 20,000 trainees have already been equipped for service along these lines.
The Australian troops in Vietnam and elsewhere, as I discovered, also regard what they aptly refer to as “ hearts and minds “ as a necessary part of their activities. They have become well and affectionately known in the villages and the areas they serve. They have helped in this way to improve morale and build friendship for Australia. The warmth of welcome and cordial hospitality shown to us by members of the Government were evidence of the appreciation which they obviously very sincerely feel for Australia’s military participation and material help. A bright prospect in the Vietnam situation is the application by all the allied participants to constructive programmes for improvements of standards in the towns and villages.
All those I met in Vietnam were concerned about the political situation and discussed it frankly. In the middle of the pressures and strains of the war, the country is seeking to establish a new system of government. This is a difficult enough process at any time as Australians know from their own history. Constitution making in any circumstances brings to the forefront the competition among the various political and regional interests. In Vietnam, the process is made more complex by two particular circumstances. In the first place, the country has not been kindly dealt with by history for easy political evolution. Over the centuries, religious, regional and cultural influences have produced a variety of groups and sects and local loyalties. The years of French colonialism and Japanese occupation were followed by a systematic Communist programme to destroy the growth of institutions and the structure of government. In the second place, the wartime situation requires a strong executive government. Rapid and effective action is needed for the conduct of the fighting, for pacification and for vigorous programmes of civic action. Finding the right constitutional expression of the relationship between the military and civilian elements is a complex matter not easily to be resolved. But an awareness of the difficulties should enable us to maintain a steady view, seeing events in a realistic perspective.
As they are checked in the military sphere in Vietnam - and they are being checked - the Communists are likely to intensify their efforts in the political sphere not only in seeking to promote distractions in Vietnam but in wider political offensives through their agents of influence in the other free countries of the region.
The people of Vietnam have great toughness, vitality and pride. They are neither apathetic nor dispirited. There is a general will to resist Communist aggression, and to prevent Communist domination. The recent political disturbances appear to have had only minor adverse effect on the military situation. The judgment is that the Vietnamese armed forces, with the United States and other allies, can resist the aggression and ensure security while South Vietnam develops the basis of an enduring stability.
I have spoken at some length about the situation in Vietnam because of its importance. But I wish to refer also to the general discussions which I had in the other countries I visited, which touched upon regional matters of common concern. Thailand is a country of considerable experience and influence in the South East Asian region. It well exemplifies the rapid economic and social progress which has been made with well directed aid from friendly countries. It is able to play now, and I believe increasingly in the future, a significant part in promoting the security and stability of the region. The fact that T was able to return, so soon after the event, the visit made to Australia by the Prime Minister, Thanom Kittikachorn, enabled us to establish an even warmer and closer relationship which will, I believe, be of enduring benefit to our two countries. I was taken by helicopter on an hour’s journey from Bangkok over an interesting stretch of the Thai countryside to an audience with King Bhumiphon at his summer palace at Hua Hin. The King recalled with appreciation the visit of himself and the Queen to Australia. He asked me to convey his greetings to the Australian people.
In Kuala Lumpur, I was able to review with the Deputy Prime Minister, Tun Razak, and some of his colleagues, the latest thinking of the Malaysian Government on the confrontation issue, the expansion of the Malaysian defence effort and problems arising for both those countries from the withdrawal by Singapore from Malaysia.
In Singapore, in addition to having useful talks with the Deputy Prime Minister, Dr. Toh, and other senior Ministers, I paid a visit to the Singapore naval base and had a briefing there from senior officers and visited those Australian Navy units then at the base. Arrangements were made for me to view the whole area by helicopter, and this was certainly a very practical way of studying this vast establishment. Australia has long held the view that the continued maintenance of the base by British forces is an important contribution to the security and stability of the whole region of southern Asia. Although I have not previously referred to it specifically in this statement, we fully and gratefully acknowledge the major support which the United Kingdom provides by means of its forces which are spread through the Singapore-Malaysian area, including Borneo, and which collaborate with other Commonwealth forces.
My discussions with representatives of the Malaysian and Singapore Governments confirmed that they loo share this view. The base has the additional value of representing a considerable factor in the economy of Singapore. It directly employs more than 30,000 people and, through its requirements, gives indirect employment to many tens of thousands of Singapore citizens.
Each of the governments we met took me frankly into its thinking on its basic problems and national issues. They gave me accounts, in particular, of their plans for economic development and social progress, and of the thinking underlying these plans. I came away with the impression of realistic, modern minded governments and developing administrative structures. Purposeful efforts are being made to put national resources into rural development. All are agreed that the benefits of modern life must be progressively spread into the villages and remote rural areas. The central governments are aware that the resources and facilities at their disposal must be used to break down the traditional feeling of the small landholders that governments bring them no benefit.
I have spoken of the prominence given to civic action programmes in Vietnam. In Thailand, mobile teams are being sent into the remote provinces to survey the problems and provide civic action there; national development programmes give a major place to agriculture and inland transportation. In Malaysia, the experiences of the emergency have been studied and incorporated into national planning. The new villages established during the resettlement programme of the emergency have become permanent communities. We were briefed on these matters in the national operations room, which is personally supervised by the Deputy Prime Minister. This centre aims at co-ordination and drive in carrying out the rural development programme. In Sarawak, the twin problems of providing security and development in rural areas are major priority tasks. The Government of Singapore is energetically grappling with the problems of industrialisation and international trade in order to provide employment for its growing work force.
We are playing a part in assisting with these schemes of welfare and development. 1 was impressed by the work which the surgical team from the Alfred Hospital, Melbourne, is doing in the district hospital at Bien Hoa village. I also met members of the surgical team from St. Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne, which is doing similar valuable work at Long Xuyen. In discussions with Government leaders, I was told of the value they attach to the contributions which our experts are making in various civil fields such as road and bridge building projects in provincial areas, and in attachments to institutions. During my visit to Kuching, the Sarawak association of former Colombo Plan students met me to express their appreciation of Australia’s help. They represented a numerous group of young men trained in var nus professions in Australian universities and other educational institutions.
The major intention prompting this tour, however, was to visit our forces serving in various parts of South East Asia. I have now seen at first hand the splendid job they are doing. I have had opportunities to meet informally with officers and men in their Service positions and at their billets. In discussions with government and military leaders in the various theatres, 1 have heard unstinted praise for the quality of our forces both as fighting men and as representatives of Australia in their contacts with local populations and in projects of civic action. This has been a heart warming experience. Australia can be very proud of the men and women of our armed forces throughout South East Asia. The great tradition of Australia’s fighting men is safe in their hands - with the Navy on patrol duties in Malaysian waters; with the Army in its border posts in Borneo, playing its part in the crucial fight against aggression in South Vietnam, or building airfields in Thailand and roads under the most difficult conditions of terrain and climate in Sabah; and with the Air Force on the alert for air defence in Butterworth and Ubon, or providing vital air transport in South Vietnam. The Army cloth cap, battered and faded in service, is to be found worn in every conceivable variety of shaping, but with a jaunty and cheerful pride. These forces might not be large in numbers relative to the total forces engaged in these areas, but they are of the highest quality and they make a significant contribution to the allied effort. They have an effect and influence out of proportion to their actual numbers. I would like to include in this tribute the armed forces of New Zealand serving in the area. I visited the New Zealand battery alongside our battalion in its encampment at Bien Hoa. This unit joined with us on the morning of Anzac Day in the most moving commemoration of that anniversary 1 have ever attended.
Our troops have shown themselves to be able to win the confidence and friendship of village peoples in the areas of operations, good relations have been developed with the local authorities and residents in base areas, and the Governments concerned have made clear to us the value they place on the presence of our forces. The initial stationing of our troops in these countries involved a degree of co-operation and (mutuality of interest between us and the Governments concerned. Once established, the continuing presence of our forces has contributed appreciably to the further strengthening of the relationship. Those forces have earned a high reputation for their conduct, their military capacity and their military civic action work. It was clear from what I was told in private discussion, and from what each Government said publicly, that there was much satisfaction in the presence of Australian troops as a direct commitment by Australia to South East Asian security.
I have spoken at some length about a number of aspects of my journey and its background. I have mentioned the Communist inspired instability and disruption in southern Asia, that South East Asia has become a critical battleground for free peoples everywhere, and that the prime manifestation of the struggle now finds itself in Vietnam. I have said something about the reasons for Australia’s participation with America and other allies in support of South Vietnamese forces in their defence of their national integrity. Because of their very considerable importance, I have referred also to various matters bearing on the social and economic development of Vietnam and other countries in the region. I have referred also to discussions with government leaders in each of the countries, and I have spoken in the highest terms, as is their due, of our own forces in the area, of their quality, of their standing, and of the work of military and civil significance which they do. I now add to this list their understanding of the role which they perform, and the reasons for it.
I conclude by saying again that the visit was for me, and 1 hope for the Australian nation, a most valuable exercise. It has produced a sharpening of our consciousness of military and political situations which are constantly under our examination. I retain a vivid visual picture of many locations and establishments which will be of continuing importance for us. It has provided a new and rewarding occasion for exchange of views with other Governments. Naturally, 1 cannot reveal the substance of the intimate discussions which took place with these Governments, but the results will be beneficial to our own future internal counsels. The journey brought closer personal relationships. I am glad to report that my visit was very much welcomed in each of the countries concerned, and they, I believe, as well as we, derived value from it. Australia is known among the countries of the area as a good ally and a reliable friend. We clearly have a not insignificant part to play in the future of a region which is undergoing a revolution of change - a revolution, surely, which represents one of the historic movements in the story of mankind.
I return with a firmly based confidence in the allied capacity to defeat aggression and establish conditions for peace and security. We must keep a clear and calm vision of what we are trying to achieve and a resolute will to do it. My cabinet colleagues and I have long held the view that Asian countries are prepared to work closely with others in preserving security in the region and in establishing a structure of defence and effective power to deter future aggression. I return strengthened in that conviction. The principles of collective security we have been following are soundly based. Our defence policies are the right policies for Australia at this time. I move -
That the Senate take note of the statement.
Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna) adjourned.
Consideration resumed (vide page 841).
[8.37]. - When we rose for the dinner recess, Senator McKenna had been inquiring about certain matters. My understanding is that Senator McKenna wishes to know whether the Commonwealth Minister for Housing will approve the building societies that will receive allocations from the Home Builders’ Account and the amounts to be allocated to each. I give the honorable senator an assurance that the nomination of the societies that will receive Home Builders’ Account funds and the amount allocated to each will be entirely the responsibility of the State Minister for Housing. We hope, of course, that this allocation will be distributed among as many building societies as possible.
asked also why subclause (3 b.), and especially paragraph (c), of clause 16 of the Agreement was related only to sub-clauses (3a.) and (3aa.) and not to sub-clause (3.). I regard the provisions under sub-clause (3b.) as giving a general direction to the Commonwealth and State Ministers of the factors, where relevant, which are to be taken into account each year in determining the allocation of Home Builders’ Account moneys. However, only if a State Minister for Housing wishes to allocate a portion of the moneys available in the Home Builders’ Account to an institution other than a building society does sub-clause (3b.) of clause 16 apply. For instance, if a State Minister for Housing requested the Commonwealth Minister to approve an allocation to an institution other than a building society in a State where building societies were making strenuous efforts to raise private funds, paragraph (c) of sub-clause (3b.) would be one of the considerations to be taken into account in arriving at a decision on the request.
– I make up for my loquacity before dinner by saying very briefly that I am now happy, after conferences, to be both understood and satisfied.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Dame
Annabelle Rankin) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 3rd May (vide page 696), on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- The purpose of the Bill is to amend the Quarantine Act in order to provide that those persons entering this country who are found to be suffering from tuberculosis may be quarantined so that they may receive treatment in the hope that they will be cured. The Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin), who introduced the Bill, said in her second reading speech that the measure will help in the longstanding arrangements in the fight against tuberculosis. I thought that the Minister would, with her usual kindness, have given some credit to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna), the Minister who introduced the scheme under which the Commonwealth and the States got together to commence work towards the eradication of this dread disease, the Commonwealth providing the money and the States providing the organisation. This must have been an oversight on her part, because she is a very kind and gracious lady.
It is clear that the Menzies Administration carried on this work. We are all pleased to note that there has been a great diminution in the numbers suffering from this disease in Australia. The Commonwealth ought to be grateful to the States for the part that they have played. The Commonwealth has provided the money, which of course is an essential element, but the States have carried out the actual work. I understand that in all States - I stand to be corrected if I am wrong - there are compulsory tuberculosis tests. I know that this is the case in my own State of Victoria, although I do not think it was the first State to inaugurate such a scheme.
This measure will in no way affect those people who come to Australia on assisted passages. They are medically examined before embarkation. No doubt any of those persons who desire to emigrate to this country and who are found to be suffering from this dread disease are not permitted to come here until they undergo treatment and are cured. I often wonder whether that examination is all that we desire. Some years ago I had occasion to check on those immigrants who became mentally ill a short time after their arrival. I hope the tests for freedom from the scourge of tuberculosis are much better than those which as I ascertained from various State health departments were applied in relation to other aspects of health. In the main, the Bill will affect those people who come here under their own 6team, in other words, without any financial assistance by the Government, and who remain permanently or for a period of 12 months or longer. The only thing that worries me is whether that period of 12 months is over long. I wonder whether, if this disease is as dread and contagious as medical science tells us it is, we are going to full lengths to protect the people who are already here. While it is true that most people who come from Britain have medical examinations prior to their departure, it appears from the Minister’s second reading speech that there is no compulsion to do so. One wonders whether the 12 months period will prove to be too long. That is the only query that I raise on the matters mentioned in the second reading speech.
When the Bill comes into operation there should not be any persons suffering from this dread disease who will be outside the scope of treatment. I understand that there is compulsory testing for tuberculosis in all States, in my own State, officers of the Department of Health even go round all the suburbs and make it as easy as possible for the people to have chest X-rays. An X-ray takes only two or three minutes, apart from the waiting time if one is unlucky enough to arrive when a great number are waiting. An atmosphere has been created that the safest and best way to satisfy oneself and the authorities is to have an X-ray. While no doubt people are upset to learn that they have been unfortunate enough to contract this disease, it would have been much worse for them and for those with whom they have come in contact if that knowledge had not been obtained.
The Minister said quite rightly that the proposals contained in the Bill will not affect any person coming from the sister dominion of New Zealand because that country has an acceptable anti-tuberculosis scheme. They also will not affect short term visitors - I take it that means people who will remain in Australia for less than 12 months, which is the only point in the statement that I queried - and of course they will not affect children under 12 years of age.
It is interesting to note from the Minister’s speech that already we have spent over $200 million since this scheme was inaugurated. I do not think anyone can say for one moment that the money has not been well spent. It has done a tremendous service for the health of our people by detecting this dread disease. During the Committee stage I would like the Minister to inform me of the percentage of the population suffering from this dread disease now compared with the percentage in 1949 before the scheme was inaugurated. 1 ask that question only to obtain information. I will be very glad to have it. 1 and my colleagues endorse the proposal and wish it well. I am grateful not only to those who inaugurated the scheme but also to those who have carried it on so successfully since 1949.
– I join with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Kennelly) in welcoming the legislation in its general form. There are a few questions to which we would like answers, but before I move into that field let me say that it is significant that in her speech the Minister rightly gave credit to the bodies concerned in both the Federal and State spheres in the eradication of this disease. Looking back, I think all honorable senators will agree that a justifiable debt is owed to Senator McKenna for the part he played, when Labour was in office, in the enactment of legislation designed to detect and eradicate tuberculosis. That legislation provided for the Commonwealth Government to reimburse the States for the cost of certain equipment, plant and buildings necessary to do the job. But I think the matter goes a little further than that.
All honorable senators know that during the depression a large section of the Australian community suffered extreme economic hardship. Then we were subjected to a war which further sapped the community’s physical and mental stamina. In the early post-war years, despite the reasonable health standard that was applied to potential migrants, particularly from Europe, it is undeniable that many people came into Australia while suffering from tuberculosis, no doubt as a result of the grim struggle that they had to survive in the European winters. I know that many of them ate certain kinds of sunflower seeds and similar things to give them some resistance to bronchial ailments. When we consider the state of health of those migrants and of our own people, it is obvious that the legislation has done a good job. As a result of compulsory X-rays and a better diet, the health of the people has improved and we have been able to produce very satisfactory statistics in recent years.
I want to make only one point on the financial aspect. I think something like £200 million was expended in tuberculosis benefits in 1955. In 1965 we spent only £750,000. I take the view that the allocation of funds should have remained more or less static. If this had been done the benefit paid to the reduced number of persons suffering from tuberculosis could have been boosted. Some people may say that persons suffering from tuberculosis can be put into an institution, but it has been found that if people, particularly bread winners, are put into institutions they are subjected to mental upsets because they worry about whether their dependants have been adequately provided for.
While ostensibly this Bill is designed to cover people coming to Australia, other problems must be tackled by the Government. We cannot rest on our laurels. There is another aspect of tuberculosis which must be considered. Let me mention the situation today in South America. Although the standard of living there has been raised, many peasants from the rural areas are going into the big cities and doing lower paid work. Although they may have suffered hardships in the rural areas they were able to obtain at least sufficient of their basic foods to enable them to carry on, but when they go to the city they have to face com petition for jobs. Work may be intermittent and they may have to meet living expenses with which they were not confronted in their home districts. The problem of living on a very low wage arises. I could apply those remarks to some of our capital cities. The statistics show that in certain parts of the Commonwealth there is a fairly high proportion of tuberculosis amongst the Aboriginal people. I have in mind the suburb of Redfern in Sydney where a number of Aborigines live. They often find it hard to get work and they have to pay high rents. By all means let us do everything we can to assimilate them into the Australian community, but we must remember that in this district these people must economise on their purchases of food and this could bring health troubles. That brings me back to the point I have already made relating to the tuberculosis allowance. I would prefer to see the benefit frozen at the present rate and not geared each year to the number of people who receive it. Obviously, having regard to the increased cost of living, there can be no assertion that the benefit which was paid five years ago will give the same economic relief in 1966 as it did then.
I now want to refer to certain aspects of the Bill. In her second reading speech the Minister referred to groups of people who are exempted from X-ray examination. Let me deal first with short term visitors, to which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition referred. We all recognise tuberculosis as a contagious disease. Anyone who has travelled abroad by ship will have met the selfish individual who scoffs at all forms of quarantine. In reverse, I know that some of our own people boast of being able to pull a fast one on a customs officer and avoid paying perhaps a sizable duty on some article. Without condoning that kind of thing, I point out that such a person gains only an economic advantage, but in the case of a suspected victim of tuberculosis we must be, I suppose, our brother’s keeper. Obviously, if too many people try to avoid examination, they may become carriers of this disease. I am unconvinced as to why we cannot be more firm about this. Like many other honorable senators, I am a dog lover. We rightly have a rigid policy on animal quarantine and I cannot understand why we cannot have an equally rigid policy on human quarantine in order to eradicate tuberculosis. The provisions of the Bill do not relate to short term visitors.
Children under 12 years of age pose another problem. The National Radiation Advisory Committee has recommended to the Government that, as far as possible, people under 21 years of age should be kept away from any radiation. We know that in this field there are factors beyond the control of the Commonwealth Government. There are certain radio-active particles in the ‘ atmosphere. Tests have been made among sheep. There are reports which indicate that the air is more contaminated now than it was 10 years ago. 1 do not say for one moment that we are reaching the flash point. But the National Radiation Advisory Committee has told us that we must be just a little wary and, as fair as possible, we must not encourage people under 21 years of age to have X-rays. Whilst I am asking for a hard line to be taken in respect of short term visitors, I question the statement in the second reading speech that children under 12 years of age will be exempt from X-ray examination. I want to know why all people under 21 years of age will not be exempted. The exemption of members of the armed forces of the Crown is not in issue. In view of the physical fitness standards adopted by the armed forces, any case of tuberculosis in the forces would be detected.
Like Senator Kennelly, 1 do not want to give a long oration on this Bill. 1 believe that all of us can take pride in the fact that we have been able largely to eradicate this disease. As in the case of any other complaint, there are pockets of resistance. In this category we have to consider the lower paid people in the big cities. Sometimes a woman with a couple of children, who is separated from her husband and whose income is limited as a result of some delay under our divorce laws, ‘has to supplement the little that she is receiving from various sources by doing casual work in a factory or office for two or three days a week. Sometimes such a woman is forced to go to work under extreme difficulties. She may develop a cold, and rather than go to bed she may have to go to work. So a dangerous situation is created because her resistance to infection is lowered. 1 say in passing that my submissions on the existing tuberculosis allowance should not be overlooked.
Finally, I return to the crux of the Bill. Like my Deputy Leader, Senator Kennelly, 1 appreciate the fact that attempts are being made to plug the loopholes. I would appreciate receiving from the Minister in charge of the Bill answers to the questions that I have raised in my remarks.
.- I wish to speak only briefly on this Bill. I commend the Government for its foresight in introducing the Bill. As has been mentioned, it will help to plug some of the loopholes that exist. However, I, too, am a little worried about the reasons why the provisions of the Bill are confined to people who intend to stay in Australia for more than 12 months. I believe that we have done such a wonderful job in our tuberculosis eradication campaign that it would be a pity not to continue it and not to plug any loopholes that may exist. The compulsory X-ray examinations, which I understand are taken in every State of the Commonwealth, have gone a long way towards the eradication of this disease. The Commonwealth assistance - the substantial sustenance allowance that a breadwinner receives for himself and his dependantshelps to remove worry and so goes a long way towards a cure.
I have lived near a big tuberculosis hospital for many years. I have seen what has been done and what can be done. T have become worried by the possibility of our good work being undone by short term visitors. I do not know what the position is in regard to tourists or short term business visitors. I believe that there should be a tightening up in respect of people who come to Australia to work for periods of less than a year, such as technicians, tradesmen and so on. I do not think they have to produce X-ray certificates when they enter Australia. If they do, why is this Bill before us now? Clause 3 of the Bill makes it quite clear that the provisions of the Bill apply only to migrants. That is my main doubt about the Bill. Otherwise, I support it completely. I believe that our eradication campaign is wonderful. I believe that we should go further than this Bill goes and do all that we can to eradicate this disease completely in Australia.
.- 1 rise basically to support this Bill because I believe that it represents a progressive step in the great battle that has been waged towards the eradication of tuberculosis. This disease has been a tremendous scourge to mankind. It is interesting to note that this Bill comes before the Senate in a series of bills relating to housing agreements, immigration, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, tractor bounties and wheat agreements. This Bill is a projection of the type of policy that was initiated by Labour Governments. The Government, quite justifiably, can claim pride in having extended the original legislation. As time has gone by, it has adapted legislation to changing circumstances and has tried to complete the job that was started by Labour Governments,
The purpose of this Bill is to provide measures of quarantine under which new arrivals in Australia, who cannot satisfy the quarantine officer that they are not suffering from active pulmonary tuberculosis, may be required to undergo medical examination. It is a natural consequence of the great victory that has been achieved in this country against tuberculosis. Not very long ago a certain man thought that he would be smart. He was a private enterpriser. His attitude was: “ Blow you Jack, I am all right.” He went overseas and brought back a special type of cattle semen. He wanted to introduce it into Australian cattle, despite the fact that the area from which the semen came had blue tongue. The quarantine people got on to him and dealt with him because what he did was a threat to the whole of our primary industry. The energy, efficiency and speed with which they acted won the admiration of people throughout Australia.
– His action caused the destruction of herds belonging to other people in his locality.
– That is right. That was a penalty that he inflicted on other people. He was treated very kindly, considering the gravity of his offence. There are places in the world in which he would have been strung up on the nearest tree.
– It was mainly due to the man’s utter ignorance.
– That is the very point about this legislation. People do not understand the nature of the tuberculosis bacillus. Each person seems to think that he will be the last person in the world to be infected. Under this legislation, provision is made that all migrants coming into Australia must go through the normal X-ray test. I believe that is a very fair requirement, because a lot of money has been spent and a lot of goodwill has been built up to come to grips with the scourge of tuberculosis. Tasmania was one of the pilot states in the campaign against tuberculosis. I was one of the first to volunteer in Tasmania for an X-ray test and I tried to persuade others to follow suit. In Tasmania 50 per cent, of the people submitted themselves to the voluntary X-ray test. The Tasmanian Government then realised that to catch up with the people who were not prepared to undergo an X-ray test it was necessary to introduce legislation making the test compulsory. Tasmania was the first state to introduce such legislation.
– It was conscription.
– Yes. But it was conscription for a very good cause. You knew the enemy you were fighting and you knew that you were fighting for a just cause. It was not ideological. It was real. You could come to grips with it. You did not have all the stupid fuzzy minded people living in the airy fairy world of make believe trying to sell a false idea to someone else. You were coming to grips with the reality that people were dying with tuberculosis through no fault of their own because the tuberculosis bacillus was active in the community.
As the anti-tuberculosis campaign developed, it was discovered that the last people tested in the compulsory scheme were found to have the highest incidence of tuberculosis. They had been avoiding the X-ray test because they were afraid of the consequences of being known as tubercular and of being hospitalised. It is an interesting quirk of human nature that the people who were infected were the ones who were avoiding the X-ray test. I do not think that that little trait of human nature had been fully understood before the campaign started. As T have said, the people who were chasing after the tuberculosis bacillus found that it was necessary to make the X-ray test compulsory. The campaign has been very successful in Tasmania. We have built sanatoria, and fine, intelligent people have helped to eradicate the scourge from our state. The statistics prove that, after having been the worst infected State, we became the least infected State, which shows the value of an intelligent approach to this disease.
– And the value of an aggressive State government.
– Yes. I do not think there are any politics in the problem of the tuberculosis bacillus. I think it would strike equally at a Liberal, Labour or Communist supporter, or any other of God’s creatures. If you do not watch out it will get you - like the love bug.
I consider that this is a most important phase in the battle against tuberculosis. We are carrying it on from a firmly established foundation. We have overcome the nebulous nature of this scourge and have come to grips with it. We have reached the stage where we have it under control. This legislation is designed to close up any of the loopholes outside our control. Migrants to this country are dealt with. However, a few exceptions are being made. I do not know why. I would like to challenge the Government on this issue. In the Minister’s second reading speech she said -
It is not intended to apply these arrangements to specific classes of people who will be exempted under the regulations to the Quarantine Act. These classes include such persons as arrivals from New Zealand, where an acceptable antituberculosis scheme exists . . .
But a New Zealander who has not been caught up in that campaign could be infected with tuberculosis and on arrival in Australia could spread his germs amongst our miners who have been working underground and have damaged and punctured lungs from dusting. He may be as bad a man in the community as the man who brought the blue tongue disease into Australia.
– The man did not bring in blue tongue disease. The semen was free of blue tongue disease.
– How did the honorable senator know that it was free of blue tongue disease?
– I know now.
– The honorable senator does not even know now. I do not even trust the man who examined the semen.
– The semen was sent south from Queensland for examination.
– They are not so wise in the South. I think they let him off the hook with a caution. I hope he got the message that you do not try to beat the quarantine people because they are protecting Australia against diseases that can be brought in from overseas. When you have a clean slate, keep it clean. I was saying that the Minister had stated -
These classes include such persons as arrivals from New Zealand, where an acceptable antituberculosis scheme exists.
We have an acceptable scheme here, but we still have carriers in our community. The time will come when the disease will be eradicated but 1 do not think that any exemptions should be allowed to New Zealanders. Now that we have got on topof this great problem, every man who comes into this country should show his passport and a doctor’s certificate showing that he has had an X-ray and is free of tuberculosis. The Minister then said that we will exempt short term visitors. Short term visitors can bring in as much trouble as long term visitors. It does not take long to pick up tuberculosis.
– There is no half-way stage.
– No. You either have it or you do not have it. I would suggest that short term visitors can be just as badly infected and affected as the cases we have dealt with within our own community. It is a long and dramatic story. It is a continuing battle against tuberculosis and a partial victory has been won. This legislation is to ensure that the battle will be carried to even greater success. Therefore, I dci not like to see provision included for exemptions. To children under 12 years of age I am prepared to make a concession because of the possible damage that could be done by an X-ray. But after all, this dreaded scrouge is an enemy that will attack anyone anywhere at any time.
I think we should give more consideration to the last exemption stated by the Minister. I refer to members of the armed forces of the Crown entering on duty. 1 would not even make that concession. I do not think any member of the armed forces on duty should be allowed a place in the armed forces unless he has an annual X-ray test. I have my annual X-ray examination. I do so because I think I have a duty to myself, to my family and to the community to make certain that I am free from tuberculosis. There is no tuberculosis in my family.
– Is the examination compulsory in Tasmania?
– Yes, but I do not have to be compelled to go. I turn up for my X-ray on my birthday. On that day I remember two things. The first is that it is my birthday - I expect my wife to remember that also - and the second is that it is the day for my tuberculosis X-ray. I think a man owes a duty to the community and to himself to attend for his X-ray now that it is so easy to have one. All you have to do is to take off your coat and stand up in front of the camera. There is a click, and later you receive a report saying that you are all right for another 12 months.
I would like to endorse something that the Minister said in the second reading speech, namely, that the purpose behind this Bill is in keeping with the public health and quarantine principles that have been developed in Australia and which are keeping Australia one of the healthiest countries in the world. Those are not only fine sentiments but also an expression of practical politics. Australia is a great country. We have had difficulties with tuberculosis in the past, and particularly in Tasmania, where the incidence was very high. However, we have got on top of that problem now in Tasmania and are using sanatoria as old people’s homes. What a wonderful thing that is. If one State can do that, it should be possible to do it throughout the Commonwealth.
Over $200 million have been spent by the Commonwealth since 1949 in the attack on tuberculosis. I, for one, regard any expenditure directed to improving the health of the nation as being worth while. The quarantine arrangements will assist us to get greater value from the money that has been spent on the national tuberculosis campaign. The only weakness, as I said earlier, is that it is proposed to exempt certain people from the quarantine provisions in this respect. 1 would not exempt anyone from the conditions that are imposed on visitors generally. I repeat that 1 believe that every person who comes into this country should have at least two things - a passport and a report saying that he has had a tuberculosis X-ray and is free from the disease. If a visitor does not have those things, he must stay out of the country until he gets them. Anyone who is silly enough to come here without a tuberculosis certificate should finish up on the quarantine island, and this legislation will make that possible.
I hope that - information about the terms of this legislation will be circulated amongst the places that are our recruiting centres for migrants, so that Australia will become known as the country that is free from tuberculosis. The death rate from this dread disease in India and South East Asia, and, indeed, throughout the world, has been enormous. I will support any measure that helps man to help himself and to realise that with the aid of science and with the aid of dedicated people we can solve practically any problem that contronts us. However, follow-up work is very necessary - detailed work designed to close loopholes which would allow a few persons to enter Australia and infect a clean area. 1 support this measure, and commend it to the Senate, because it will help us to carry on the campaign that was started by Senator McKenna. He was responsible for the legislation that started off the campaign which led to the conquest of tuberculosis by the Australian people. In this country tuberculosis has become the exception rather than the rule.
[9.25]. - in reply - I would like to thank honorable senators for their speeches and for their support of this Bill tonight. Let me say to Senator Kennelly and to Senator O’Byrne that I realise the value of the work that Senator McKenna did in this field when he was a member of the Labour Government. I think it might be interesting to honorable senators to know that Senator Sir Walter Cooper and I would probably be the only people on this side of the House who were members of the Senate when Senator McKenna brought in his tuberculosis legislation. In this connection I think also of the work of Sir Earle Page, who made a tremendous contribution, as well as of the work of Sir Harry Wunderly. All those people contributed tremendously to the fight against this terrible disease. So, also, did doctors and nurses throughout the whole of the country. Wc do not know their names, but they played a part in this fight and I wish to pay tribute to them also tonight.
I will try now to deal with the various points that have been raised and, if I can, to give some information. Senator Mulvihill referred to the fact that X-ray examinations will be compulsory, in the case of children, only for those of 12 years of age and over. I have a note here which says that 12 years of age was decided upon after regard had been had to the likely extent of tuberculosis in those persons who would be coming from countries where tuberculosis was considerably more prevalent than in Australia. I would also like to read a few lines from a report by the National Radiation Advisory Committee, because I think they would be interesting. The report states -
The N.R.A.C. reaffirms its full support of the policies of the Commonwealth and State tuberculosis control authorities for the use of mass miniature X-ray surveys in a form that best meets the requirements of public health, even if this entails compulsory examinations.
I think those words will answer a point which Senator Mulvihill raised. I think Senator Lawrie raised a point relating to people coming into Australia. I would say that all migrants, except British people paying their own fares, are already required to undergo X-ray examinations. This legislation covers a field not previously covered by legislation. That is my understanding of the position.
A further point was raised by Senator
Lawrie, I think, as well as by Senator
Mulvihill and Senator O’Byrne. In my second reading speech I stated -
It is not intended to apply these arrangements to specific classes of people who will be exempted under the regulations to the Quarantine Act. These classes include such persons as arrivals from New Zealand.
The note I have is that it is the opinion of our tuberculosis experts that there is no need to include New Zealanders in the scheme. But if the need arises or is likely to arise New Zealanders will be included. The powers exist in the legislation. I understand that the New Zealanders have excellent arrangements which are quite acceptable to our tuberculosis authorities. Senator O’Byrne referred to the members of the armed forces. The honorable senator is an ex-serviceman himself, and I remind him that all members of the armed forces are required to undergo very rigid examinations, which would certainly include chest X-rays.
– They should present written evidence of it before they enter the country.
– I am quite certain that this is very carefully watched. The mere fact that they are members of the armed forces indicates that they have had to undergo constant medical checks and that they must have a high standard of health.
Senator Mulvihill and Senator Lawrie referred to the provision that only persons who remained in Australia permanently or for longer than 12 months must have a chest X-ray examination. They questioned the minimum period of 12 months. This point was also raised in another place and the Minister for Health (Dr. Forbes) said then that the period of 12 months was that adopted by most other countries, including Canada and the United States of America, which are both very conscious of this problem. It was necessary to have some fixed period to apply to tourists, business people and others who visit for short periods because with tuberculosis there is always a risk of infection as there is with any other similar disease. This period of 12 months was decided upon after serious consideration. It was not a figure plucked out of the air, but was fixed on the basis of experience in other countries.
Reference was made to the incidence of tuberculosis in Australia. It is interesting to note that in 1949 new cases notified totalled 3,914, equal to 48.6 per 100,000 of population. In 1964, 3,446 cases were notified, equal to 30.6 per 100,000 of population. In 1949 deaths from tuberculosis numbered 1,964, equal to 24.4 per 100,000 of population, and in 1964 the number of deaths from tuberculosis had fallen to 413, equal to 3.7 per 100,000 of population. It is evident that we have made great advances in Australia in the fight against this dread disease. Early detection of it through X-ray has made early treatment possible and in many cases this has meant complete cure. We all recognise the great work that has been done in this field by the Commonwealth and the States working together. I am sure that all honorable senators realise that the passage of the Bill will mean greater security for the people of Australia against this dread disease.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 4th May (vide page 743), on motion by Senator Gorton -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The purpose of the Bill is to seek parliamentary authority for the payment of an Australian subscription to the Asian Development Bank. This Bank was established as a result of Asian initiative. An expert group worked on the proposal from 1963, and its recommendations were adopted at a Conference of Plenipotentiaries held at Manila in December 1965. The Government asks that we support the Bill which provides for a subscription of $US85 million to be made to the Bank by Australia. It is worth noting that the expert group in its report said that an initial capital of SUS100 million was necessary and within the capacity of the Asian countries to utilise though it was in no way commensurate with the total capital needs of the Asian area.
The establishment of the Asian Development Bank is a practical move to finance regional development in Asia and is based on the finding of the expert committee and on surveys of the requirements of the area. The purpose of the Bank is set out in Article 1 of the Articles of Agreement which states -
The purpose of the Bank shall be to foster economic growth and co-operation in the region of Asia and the Far East . . . and to contribute to the acceleration of the process of economic development of the developing member countries in the region, collectively and individually.
The Opposition will not oppose the Bill. It sees much virtue in the measure. As I have said, an expert group was appointed in 1963 to consider the proposal, and before then representations for some such arrangement were made by one of the regional countries. We want to make one or two points about the general area that is to be covered by the operations of the Bank. As I have pointed out, the establishment of the Bank is the result of Asian initiative, but provision is made for nonregional countries to be members of the Bank. The United States of America will subscribe $200 million to the capital stock of the Bank and other subscribers will be Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. One of the things which the Minister emphasised and which appears to me to be important is that a part of Australia’s subscription will be tied to the purchase of Australian goods and services. That is a good thing. The main task, as I have said, is to improve regional development. We know that in this region there is a great need for development. There is general instability in various areas, not only in a political and economic sense. In certain areas there is a military situation which imposes a number of difficulties.
The Australian contribution to the Bank will be an amount of $US85 million. The paid in portion of this contribution will be SUS42.5 million of which SUS21.25 million will be in convertible currency payable in five equal annual instalments. The remainder is to be payable in Australian currency. The local currency subscription will be met initially by the issue of noninterest bearing securities. I have mentioned the question of tying the purchase of some of our goods to this contribution. The Australian representatives at the meeting of plenipotentiaries in Manila apparently took the view that Australia had not the same sort of advantages as had the major industrialised countries. Countries like the United States of America and the United Kingdom can be expected to complement much of their interest and investment in the Asian area by the sale of goods and services. As the Minister has pointed out, we are not in this position. Australia is mainly a supplier of primary products although we have good reason to think that in years to come the supply of manufactured goods to the Asian area will be quite an important one to us. The arrangement by which we are to tie the local currency portion of our subscription to purchases of Australian goods and services for Bank financedprojects seems to me to be a very good start in this direction. I remember quite well the representations made by some interests in Australia to the effect that this should be the pattern of Australian investment in the region. The Opposition has no quarrel with the idea that part of our subscription will be tied to something which will be of great advantage to Australia so that we shall derive a direct benefit from the arrangement. Part A of Annex A of the Schedule to the Bill shows there are 19 regional countries associated with the Bank, and that Australia is making the fourth largest contribution. The United States and the United Kingdom are included in the list of contributors outside the regional areas as shown in Part B of Annex A.
The general function of the Agreement as set out in the Schedule is described in Article 2. The Article states that the Bank, to fulfil its purpose, shall have the following functions -
The Schedule also makes provision for technical assistance. We know that Australia is already giving technical assistance to Asian countries under the Colombo Plan. One of the most important of the functions set out in Article 2 is paragraph (v) which refers to co-operation with the United Nations, in particular the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East, and with other international agencies. We can accept in general that the purposes of this Bill are good.
The size and magnitude of the banking organisation and the sort of advice and assistance it can give are rather small compared with the needs of the area. When I make that statement I mean that there are certainly greater things needed in this region. I am not implying that I am against the proposal. But I have noticed in the Schedule a reference to taxation and I would like the Minister to give an explanation of it. Article 56 sets out the provision relating to exemption from taxation, but I notice that the Minister, in his second reading speech, said this -
Except for certain provisions relating to taxation and communications concessions, acceptance of the Articles of Agreement of the Bank would raise no difficulties for Australia.
The immunities from taxation provided for in the Articles are wider than those we concede to the specialised agencies of the United Nations. Accordingly I consider we should make clear, when ratifying the Articles, that we are prepared to extend tax immunities similar to those we grant to the specialised agencies, but no more than that.
I will be interested to find out whether this means that the Government has in mind certain limits as to our obligations under the Schedule.
I referred earlier to the fact that the economic experts who investigated this project said that the needs of the region were far greater than the objectives stated in this Bill, which provides for a capital of $US1,000 million. We know that only half of that amount would be immediately available. The point to make in relation to legislation such as this is that the amount of money to be raised from member countries will be quite useful, but it could well be that the co-operation that will grow between the countries because of their membership of the Bank will produce greater development and cohesion between the member states. We know that throughout the Asian area there is a great deal of political instability. We know also that we cannot tell just when the dispute in Vietnam might end. Vietnam is one of the member countries of this Bank. The United States is spending in Vietnam as much as $1,000 million a month. So honorable senators can get some idea of the difference between the amount it is proposed to provide as aid and the sort of amounts which have been expended for purposes of war.
One of the important documents which I have read in relation to the Asian area is entitled the “ Far Eastern Economic Review “, a year book. The latest issue is that for 1966. It is printed in Hong Kong and contributions to it come from many important academics and economists. The book points out that in the East the great trouble is that much more money and attention are being given to this instability than to the need to abolish hunger and poverty and to establish economic aids of many types. It has been said, and some Government speakers would agree, that Australia is already committed to providing a great amount of aid. We have given some $800 million since World War II and we are to spend another $120 million.
I suggest that, in the light of the great regional problems, we ought to be thinking, as has been suggested before from this side of the chamber, about the civilian projects, the need to establish trade and aid between countries and to cut out the military problems. Some of these military problems we cannot solve. We know that India and Pakistan have had their troubles and that the interventions were not all successful. But it seems to me that we might well have played a different role in Vietnam and the near countries of South East Asia. When we are considering the need to provide aid, we ought also to have regard to minimising military measures. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development has said that from $3,000 million to $4,000 million ought to be spent each year over the next five years in this Asian area. We know that the resources of South East Asia were taxed greatly by interests who were not very concerned, prior to the last World War, with putting the countries on anything like an independent or economic basis. Since World War II there have been the great problems of settlement, and emergent nations have been faced with problems of their own which have made the position difficult. A great deal of assistance has been provided by international agencies. Australia supports completely the work of E.C.A.F.E. and other United Nations specialist agencies. Great surveys have been made. There is no doubt that because of instability the surveys and assistance given have not established a general economic pattern which can do very much for the region. Population developments in the area must be taken account of in considering constructive economic developments. Figures published by the United Nations show that from 1930 to 1963 the world population had grown by one-third to 3,160 million. It is estimated that the population in the region we are talking about increases by 33 million each year. A report submitted by the Chairman of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development states -
About three-quarters of the population depends on agriculture and unfortunately agricultural output is increasing only slowly, lagging behind the rapid growth of population in some countries. Nor does it appear that any significant progress has been made in raising the nutritional standards above inadequate pre-war levels . . . Progress in raising the level of living for large parts of the population in the area will, therefore, depend on exploiting more actively the potentials for food production which are well above present achievements.
The aid which has been given to this region amounts to about $US3 per capita per year.
Many theories have been advanced about what should be done to assist Asian countries. A United Nations agency has investigated the question of long term loans and liquidity. In approaching the problem, we must take into account the fact that in certain countries of South East Asia winning a subsistence is not very difficult. However, the other great objectives of higher social standards and the provision of shelter are more difficult to attain, lt might be easy for a man to win food, but when he is obliged to look after members of his family and to provide for their security he is not so successful. It is argued by experts that the provision of long term loans is an overall liability. The “ Far Eastern Economic Review”, to which I have already referred, deals with the growing burden of servicing external debts. The following information has been provided by the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East -
The debt burden in some countries has reached as high a portion as one-fifth of their export earnings. There is, thus, an urgent need not only for improving the trading opportunities for the developing countries, but also for a considerable softening in terms of developmental loans.
The Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said also, in relation to India -
It is estimated that about one-third of India’s requirements for foreign exchange for her Fourth Flan will be needed for interest and amortisation.
These are the general problems that we have to face. The Secretary of the
Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East has stated -
The trade deficit of the developing E.C.A.F.E. region for 1964 amounted to 51,900 million, or equal to nearly one-fifth of the total export proceeds.
He went on to say that the developing countries had increased their volume of exports by nearly one-fifth in the last four years. Then he said -
The real loss suffered by developing E.C.A.F.E. countries through the deterioration in the terms of trade since I960 amounted to nearly $800 million in 1964 alone; this was equal to more than 40 per cent, of the trade deficit and almost one-half of the annual public external aid received in recent years.
As I have already indicated, the political and economic situation in the area is related to war requirements. If the countries of this area could turn their minds to the great need to develop trade to raise the standard of living, and could minimise the great problems that are associated with the waging of war and defence expenditure, conditions generally would be improved. This seems to me to be one of the matters about which we should be thinking more seriously.
I believe that, technically, the project envisaged in the legislation is well based, even though apparently some of the member states thought initially that they could not make the contribution that is now required of them. There seems to be no doubt that the Australian Government recommends the adoption of the project. It seems to me that we should consider extending the activities of the Asian Development Bank and of reducing, wherever we can, noneconomic aid to some of the countries in question. We could be involved in wars in Asia for a long time to come. Of course, we are hoping that the situation in Vietnam will settle down and that Thailand will not be faced with the problems that some people expect. I believe that, if we proceed on the basis that economic, political and social solutions are more lasting than military solutions, greater progress will be made in this area.
The Opposition does not oppose the measure. There is a great need to increase the kind of aid to which I have referred. Last year Australia suggested the alteration of her tariff structure to enable less developed countries to export goods which would not threaten Australian industry, and we are now seeking a waiver of certain requirements of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. The tied loan proposal is quite good for Australian industry. As the Asian countries develop and their standards improve, they will be able to take more of our goods. If the Asian Development Bank can do anything to achieve the aims that we have in mind, it will be a good thing. I conclude by saying that I hope that the Minister, when he replies to the comments that have been made, will direct his attention to the matter of taxation. It is not clear to me whether reservations are already imposed by the Schedule to the Bill.
– The Bill seeks authority for an Australian subscription to the Asian Development Bank. The capital of the Bank is proposed to be $US1,000 million and our subscription is proposed to be SUS85 million, which is less than 2 per cent. Of our capital, one quarter will be paid up in convertible currency in the area and one quarter will be in Australian securities. The remaining half of our capital will not be called up. Indeed, the total capital of the Bank will be called up only to the extent of one half. So, in effect, at this point of time we are due to find in cash, but over a period of five years, about SUS21.25 million.
There is a certain background to this Asian Development Bank which is, I think, worth recalling, because while this is not a contentious debate it covers a matter of great interest to many of us. The development banks originated in the early years after the war in the discussions of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Their origin really was in that Bank which, in its early operations, generated two specialised affiliates, the International Finance Corporation and the International Development Association. In 1964 we saw the beginnings of what might be called regional development banks. The first of these were the Inter- American Development Bank, which operated in South America, and the African Development Bank.
Out of this kind of thinking the Asian Development Bank really grew. It will take its place as a genuine regional development bank within the thinking that began in the early post war years with the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Probably the most important gathering that had to do with this Asian Development Bank was the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East, which completed its last session in Wellington, New Zealand, in March last year. It had on its agenda a number of items that dealt with problems which the Asian Development Bank is designed to help. The E.C.A.F.E. conference was concerned to harmonise the development plans of all of these Asian countries. It has been truly said that one of the first things that happens in underdeveloped countries is that somebody develops a plan. Everybody has a plan. Some plans do not work, some work partially, and some are by no means related to the real problem and there is no real attempt to draw them together. One of the first things that E.C.A.F.E. tried to do was to draw the plans together, look at them and see whether they were complementary and could be used to help each other. Out of this, the monetary problem became apparent and the Asian Development Bank was suggested as a definite proposal. Most of us know of the general developments at the conference which led up to the meetings of Ministers. E.C.A.F.E. was also concerned, as Senator Bishop mentioned, about the problems of trade, and preferred these countries to use the agency of the United Nations Commission for Trade and Development, of which we have spoken before.
The specific problems of Asian development were mentioned at the conference and they are important. Some mentioned by Senator Bishop I shall mention again, because we are living in this part of the world and the problems of these people in the end will be partly problems of ours. Most of the countries involved that have laid plans for development have fallen far below their targets. They have done nowhere near what they set out to do. Most of them have a very poor export development record. They have not generated any exports of consequence at all. As Senator Bishop mentioned, this has become quite a serious matter. The servicing of the foreign debts in some countries has taken 20 per cent, of their export revenue. We all know from experience that such a situation cannot be tolerated. When that happens, you are in the hands of the moneylenders, really; you have had it. Their agricultural production, which is quite decisive and which has been neglected, is lagging far behind. In most cases where they have generated any kind of useful agricultural production, the population growth has been so fast that all of the production increase has been used up. But these countries have one very great resource, namely, people. Most persons who have been looking at this problem and trying to help have come to the conclusion that the great problem of Asia is the misuse of the population. The people are not given a proper chance to develop their talents.’ These are matters that have to be looked at seriously.
The problems have resolved themselves quite clearly into problems of trade and development. There is a clear need for the stabilisation of commodity prices. There is a definite need to have some better system of regulating these prices. The people tend to be very much at the mercy of the speculator and the profiteer in the market place. This is terribly serious for them, because it discourages them from anything more than production for their own bare needs. This is a bad thing for any of these countries. We ourselves have contributed towards an improvement in this respect. There will be a debate in this Chamber on the Customs Tariff Bill (No. 2.), by which we shall attempt to relax some of our trade barriers to help these countries. All of them want better access to the markets of the developed countries, of which we are regarded as one. They want easier terms if they can get them for the money that they have to borrow from any lender.
The Bank is fundamentally an Asian bank in its initiative. Although the thinking involved was drawn from the area of international thinking about reconstruction and development, it is Asian thinking. The Asians wanted the Bank, thought about it,- worked for it, and put the proposal forward. The Bank will be located in Asia, in Manila. It will be financed very largely in Asia. About 65 per cent, of its finance is Asian finance. It will be managed substantially by people of the Asian area. The Bank is designed to do a number of things. Fundamentally, these are to foster the economic growth and trade of the region, and to try to bring the Asian viewpoint to bear on the problem. It will try also to stimulate the flow of capital from outside into the Asian area, because it may feel that this is a safer place for it to be regulated. lt will try also to stimulate the use of the resources of Asia and it hopes to be a channel for investment for institutions within Asia. We have managed to have Papua and New Guinea included as a country entitled to seek aid from the Bank for development projects. This is really quite important to Australia in the long term. One thing that we ought to do later is to seek to have Australians allowed to serve on the staff of the Bank, not only at high levels - we shall certainly have a director of the Bank - but also at levels of administration and research, at which we will learn things that we need to know about the area. The Bank is capitalised to the extent of $US 1,000 million, of which half is paid up. Sixty-five per cent, of it comes from the Asian area and thirty-five per cent, from outside the area. We ought to realise that the countries subscribing over $US50 million are Australia, India, Japan, the United States and Iran. Amongst them, they are providing nearly two-thirds of the capital of the bank, which is, after all, not without significance. The United Kingdom is contributing SUS10 million of a total capital of $US1,000 million, lt seems to me that this is not a great contribution from the United Kingdom.
– I am interested in the expression “Australia and the Far East “. “ Far East “ seems to be odd, if the idea originated in the Philippines or thereabouts.
– Yes. lt would be hard to say just who originated this. All I can say is that the Bank will have its headquarters in the Philippines. The operating procedures of the Bank have been mentioned and I shall refer to them briefly. The local currency proportion of our investment and New Zealand’s investment - we are the only two countries which are so placed - is tied to the provision of goods and services to be purchased on Bank finance within Australia.
The Bank will lend its own capital funds and whatever funds it can acquire from other lenders for the purpose of development. It will lend on terms, as far as one can find out, very similar to World Bank terms. It will lend to individuals and to firms. It will lend to countries and it will lend to other national development banks. It will lend to these kinds of institutions to provide funds for the construction of roads, ports, power installations, irrigation projects and perhaps as agricultural credit. It will lend to private enterprise for manufacturing and for general services. It intends to cover the field of lending, and I agree with Senator Bishop that if it is to cover these fields effectively its capital resources at this stage are quite minute. First of all, it has to develop a high reputation as a bank, lt is proper that it should begin on this basis and build its reputation before seeking to do too much more. I agree with him also that we should be prepared to support it more fully if its reputation and ability to perform are shown to be of a high order. It should have, and I am sure it will have, a high priority for development projects. I understand it will obey the general rules of bank lending in this field, and it will have an obligation to ensure as far as possible that funds it lends will not be utilised for procurement outside the member subscribing countries. I think this is fair.
When we begin to examine this proposition of the developing countries in Asia - Senator Wright said Asia and the Far East, but how far does the Far East go? - there are some interesting figures available, although I cannot vouch for their accuracy. They appeared in a recent issue of a magazine dealing with developing countries. The magazine places developing countries into three groups, it lists the countries which are providing money for development and it mentions where this money is going. The 77 developing countries are classified according to average income per inhabitant and the rate of increase over the past 10 years. As I have said, it places these countries in three categories - those which will make the transition to what we might call prosperity and development within 10 years; those which will need at least a generation to make the transition; and those which face a difficult future. Dealing with the first classification - those countries which will develop within 10 years - the magazine article states -
Aided by political stability and intensive planning, 18 countries can make the transition rapidly.
Those countries are listed. With regard to the countries which will need at least a generation to make the transition, the magazine has this to say -
Twenty-seven countries with important natural resources and an effective infrastructure can make the transition within a generation.
Those countries are listed. Dealing with the countries which face a difficult future and will require several generations to make the transition, the article states -
More than half of the developing countries are in this difficult situation - a low national income, a population explosion, high illiteracy and few trained personnel.
Those countries are listed.
– Does this include Africa as well?
– Yes. Honorable senators might be interested to know that included in the last category are India, Laos, Pakistan and Vietnam. The countries providing the funds are mentioned, and I am sure honorable senators will be surprised to learn that the name on the bottom of the list is Austria. Australia does not get a mention. I reiterate that this information was taken from a recent publication and that I do not vouch for its accuracy.
– What is the journal?
– It is called “ Realites “, a French magazine. With the concurrence of honorable senators I incorporate the article in “ Hansard “.
THE DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
HOW LONG WILL THEY TAKE?
(Realites, Feb. 1966)
Realites has attempted to classify the seventyseven developing countries according to average income per inhabitant and its rate of increase over the past ten years. They fall into three categories: those that may make the transition within ten years, those that will need a generation at least, and those that face a difficult future.
Colombia, Costa Rica, Formosa, Greece, Israel, Jamaica, Malaysia, Mexico, the Philippines, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Uruguay, Venezuela and Yugoslavia.
WHO’S GIVING THE MONEY?
Here, arranged in order of the extent of the efforts they are making are the names of the countries supplying aid and the regions to which they are giving priority. The figures in parenthesis are in millions of dollars.
United States (4,328): India (18 per cent.); Pakistan (8 per cent.); South Korea (5 per cent.); South Vietnam (4 per cent.); Turkey (3 per cent.); Egypt (3 per cent.); Brazil (2 per cent.); Yugoslavia (2 per cent.); Chile (2 per cent).
France (1,176): Africa (30 per cent.); Algeria (40 per cent.); Overseas Departments (10 per cent.); Morocco and Tunisia (8 per cent.); Overseas Territories (2 per cent.); CambodiaLaosVietnam (2 per cent.).
Communist Countries: (USSR, Eastern Bloc countries, China) (425): Algeria, India, Egypt, Afghanistan and Brazil.
United Kingdom (415): India (13 per cent.); Kenya (12 per cent.); Rhodesia-Nyasaland (9 per cent.); Pakistan (6 per cent.); Tanganyika (5 per cent.); Uganda (3 per cent.); Malta (2 per cent.).
Germany (399): Israel (46 per cent.); India and Pakistan and Turkey.
Japan (160): solely in Asiatic countries: Burma,
Indonesia, the Philippines and South Vietnam.
Italy (1 10): 50 per cent, in Somalia. The balance principally in Yugoslavia and Ethiopia.
Canada (98): principally in India and Pakistan, Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico.
Belgium (93): 98 per cent, in the Congo, Rwanda and Burundi.
Portugal (60): in Angola and Mozambique.
The Netherlands (38). Surinam, Netherlands West Indies, India, Nigeria, Colombia and the Sudan.
Sweden (23): India, Pakistan and Ethiopia.
Norway (20): India, South Korea, Tanganyika and Algeria.
Denmark (9.7): principally in India.
Switzerland (6.2): Africa, South Asia and the Far East.
Austria (21): India, Turkey and Yugoslavia.
There is one very substantial problem in the area of the underdeveloped countries - the fascination that certain people have for development. They believe that the way to overcome all the problems of starvation, bad housing, a low education standard, illiteracy and sickness is to have money and industries. They think these will solve all problems. I have said before, and I want to say it again because to me this is a serious matter, that 1 do not think this is the proper approach to overcoming the problems confronting underdeveloped countries in this area. I suggest we should look much more closely at much more intensive development of the agricultural products and fibres of those countries. I am concerned that in this particular operation with the Asian Development Bank we will not forget, as members of the Bank and as a country having a director of the Bank, that fundamental to the development and well being of most of the Asian countries is a belter food supply and a better production of agricultural products and fibres.
– That is true of all countries.
– I agree. It is a kind of self-starter. If that is not done and if we subscribe capital to this Asian Development Bank, and all the Bank really does is to lend money on glamorous projects of certain types that are easy to lend on - a factory perhaps which will make things that these people cannot afford to buy and do not want anyhow - we will not be serving any purpose at all. We will not be helping anyone. I would be very keen to see the Asian Development Bank have something in its operating charter which gave some priority to certain forms of lending or provided that a percentage of its funds was to be lent specifically for agricultural development, irrigation projects, better roads into farming areas, assistance to farmers to enable them, for instance, to buy better quality seeds and to carry on the production of hybrid stock, cheaper pumping plants, agricultural credit and better market ing facilities. In other words, encouragement should be given to the people engaging in agriculture in Asia to produce food and fibres that can be sold and exchanged, and not produce only sufficient foods and fibres to keep the family’s body and soul together. I would not want to see the people operating under a system which was so discouraging to them because of fluctuations in prices, poor exchange arrangements and bad transport and marketing arrangements that they had no inducement to produce beyond their own needs.
If we examine the land resources and the human resources of Asia and remember that the production of agricultural goods and fibres is one-half of the development problem, then with the land and the people available we must achieve a production above the level of sheer subsistence. If this could be achieved we would be doing something for them which would be of much greater consequence than anything ever done before. For my part, I hope the Bank will develop its funds and its thinking towards helping the agricultural sector. I hope that it will not minimise its efforts in this direction and merely pick out an avenue of lending which is easy. It would be very easy for a bank to lend some part of its capital for the construction of a large factory. This would be much easier than lending for perhaps 20 or 30 operations in agriculture, all requiring attention, servicing, know-how and a degree of expertise. This is important. It is not for me to say, but I hope this will be the general attitude that the director of the Bank representing Australia will express.
We have one other consideration which I think is important for us to realise. For Australia this is the beginning of a new era in its general international behaviour. We will export capital for the first time. We will become a banker for the first time or part of a banking consortium for the first time. This is a somewhat timid, hesitant and very small beginning but it is a proper beginning, because we have to take our place in this part of the world as one of the providers not only of know-how but also of capital.
We are the largest holder of sterling funds in London. According to the Treasury White Paper issued yesterday in Great Britain, we have $1,294 million in first line reserves. If we set them against the subscription we are making to the Asian Development Bank we will realise that we have subscribed a little less than 2 per cent., and that payable over five years, of the funds we have in London. We will have to learn to be a banker and a part of the banking system in the part of the world in which we live. This is the thing that probably will be hardest for us to do. We have never had to do it before. We lived for many years on the expertise in international banking developed in London, as we used to live on the foreign policy and defence strategy enunciated in London. All those things have passed into our care and keeping. Passing into pur care and keeping now are the knowledge and understanding that we have to acquire in the management of our financial reserves in our trading part of the world - Asia. We will not be able to do this forever on a second hand basis.
We are making a beginning. What we are really seeing here is the development of a new kind of Australia. It will become a finance house in the proper sense of the term, a safe country where resources can be sent because the people of Australia have sufficient wit, courage and responsibility to make their country the provider of capital in Asia just as capital was provided forthem in the early years.
I seek leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Gorton) read a first time.
.- I move-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill is a formal measure which will effect drafting changes in the Income Tax (International Agreements) Act consequential upon the introduction of decimal currency. The Bill will amend provisions of the
Act that are applied to determine the credit available for foreign tax paid on dividends that are also taxed in Australia in the hands of our residents. As they stand at present, these provisions are expressed in relation to the old currency. The proposed amendment will relate them to the new currency, but will not affect the principles on which calculation of the credits is based. I commend the Bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Kennelly) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Gorton) read a first time.
– I move-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to amend the Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Act 1935-1965. Honorable senators will see from the explanatory memorandum that has been circulated that most of the changes are drafting adjustments which will leave the operation of the law unchanged. The amendments which alter the incidence of sales tax are to be found in clause 4 which will amend the First Schedule to the Act. This Schedule sets out the categories of goods that are exempt from sales tax. Two new exemption items are proposed to give effect to the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement which came into operation on 1st January 1966. Under the Agreement, sales tax on specified classes of New Zealand goods may not exceed what is levied on comparable Australian goods. The existing law largely achieves this result, but it has been found necessary to make special provision for fruit juice products containing specified proportions of New Zealand juices and for works of art imported from New Zealand.
One other minor tax concession is proposed. The principal Act was amended in 1963 to enable United States servicemen stationed in Australia to purchase Australian made motor vehicles free of sales tax. The granting of this concession was one of a number of changes in the taxation laws which Australia had agreed to make in consequence of the Status of Forces Agreement which came into effect in 1963. In the interests of consistency, the Government has decided to extend the concession to United Kingdom servicemen, especially as a broadly similar concession is available to members of the Australian forces serving in the United Kingdom. Regulations prescribing the scope of the exemption will be made as soon as practicable. These will follow, as closely as the circumstances permit, the terms of the regulation governing the concession granted to United States servicemen.
Another amendment is designed to ensure that the exemption of gas supplied to the public by gas companies and public authorities will continue notwithstanding technological changes in the gas industry. The present exemption item refers specifically to coal gas. This is being expanded to cover other gases supplied to the public through a reticulation system and used for a purpose similar to coal gas. Of the other changes proposed, two are designed to remove doubts regarding the effect of amendments which were made last year in consequence of a revision of the Customs Tariff, which is referred to in a number of the sales tax exemption categories. The 1965 amendments were not designed to alter the sales tax law but subsequent experience has shown that this objective was not fully achieved in two cases. The doubtful provisions have now been re-expressed. The remaining provisions of the Bill propose changes in terminology which have become necessary as a result of changes in other laws. I commend the Bill to honorable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Kennelly) adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Gorton) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I do not wish to speak at length on the motion for the adjournment this evening. I wish to bring to the notice of the Parliament and the people of Australia the cavalier manner in which this Government is dealing with the important question of television in this country. In November 1962 the Senate appointed a Select Committee to inquire into the advisability of encouraging Australian productions for television. The Committee sat during 1963 and presented its report to the Senate in October of that year. The matter was debated for a couple of days, but has not been dealt with by the Senate in any manner, shape or form since April 1964. When one peruses today’s notice paper, one sees that the debate on the matter stands adjourned from 14th April 1964. In opening the debate on the matter on behalf of the Opposition, I moved that the recommendations of the Senate Select Committee be implemented.
About this time last year I asked the then Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Paltridge, as he then was, a number of questions concerning this matter. Among other things he said to me, in effect: “ It seems to me that there would be little point in resuming the debate on the report until such time as it is possible for a statement of the Government’s policy on it to be made “. Later the annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board for 1964-65 was presented. Once again there was further delay. Because we thought something was being done by the Government in view of the terms of that report, we let the matter ride for the time being. The Board in its annual report, mentioned that there was evidence of continuing interest in the report of the Senate Select Committee and went on to say that the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) hoped to make a statement on the matter before the end of 1965. Of course, that time has long since passed. It is now May 1966, and still nothing has come from the lips of the Minister. In the previous paragraph of its annual report the Board said -
At the request of the Minister, the Board has conducted further investigations into the general question of the development of Australian programmes . . . and that Sir Tasman Heyes and Mr. Donovan, members of the Board, were conducting an inquiry an behalf of the Board and also on behalf of the Minister. In other words, there has been a Senate select committee and an Australian Broadcasting Control Board committee; certainly one report has been with the Minister for about two years and another report for about one year. But we still await an announcement of policy by the Government.
Recently, a survey was made of one week’s television programmes screened by commercial television stations in Sydney. It was found that between 7 p.m. and closing time, the transmission time of the three commercial stations totalled about 90 hours; 72 hours of that total were occupied by drama programmes. Of that 72 hours, 61 hours were devoted to American programmes, 10 hours to British programmes and 1 hour to Australian programmes. This is a rather serious state of affairs which is depriving a large number of Australians of employment. It is stopping Australians from developing their natural skills, not only as artists but also as writers, producers and technicians. I believe that the Government has a duty to formulate a policy and announce it on this very important question of television.
– It suits the Americans to send us their programmes.
– And it certainly suits this Government. In a moment I will give the reason. In November 1964 - about 18 months ago - the President of the Australian Radio, Television and Screen Writers Guild attended a conference in London of the International Writers’ Guild. Lord Willis, President of the British Screen Writers Guild, made a statement on the situation in Australia. He said -
We support, wholeheartedly, your fight to secure a higher proportion of Australian production on the Australian networks and particularly, to secure specific quotas for Australian drama and Australian series. This fight must be in the interests of the Australian people as a whole, since it will lead to the growth of a strong Australian production industry, and to an improvement in the quality of television. But it will also strengthen television everywhere and is, therefore, in the interests of all writers. The British Guild pledges itself one hundred per cent, to support you in your struggle.
They thereupon undertook to donate 5 per cent, of their Australian television royalties to the Australian Guild in order to enable Australians to continue to press their struggle. While this state of affairs continues to exist, the commercial television stations are making record profits. It was reported in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ on 22nd March 1966 that the profit of Herald-Sun T.V. Pty. Ltd., proprietor of H.S.V. Channel 7, Melbourne, rose by 5127,440 to $201,526 for the year ended 30th September 1965. That is the result after tax amounting to $160,400 - up $101,400 - and depreciation amounting to $219,140. The chairman of the company, Sir John William,’ said -
Despite increased competition from the operation of the third commercial station throughout the full financial year, revenues set a peak for the company.
The Government has also failed to announce its policy in respect of educational television. Yesterday I asked a question of the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Gorton) and he replied that he hoped the Postmaster-General would be making a policy statement on this matter before the end of this sessional period. At paragraph 274 of the annual report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board for 1964-65 the question of an educational television service is referred to in these words -
At the date of this report-
That is 30th June last - the recommendations of the Advisory Committee were being examined by the Postmaster-General in consultation with the Minister in Charge of
Commonwealth Activities in Education and
I believe that a great number of Australians are sick and tired of the Government’s inertia on this very important matter. By the Government’s failure to announce its policy on television it is depriving Australians of an opportunity to display their talents, not only to other Australians but also to viewers on the great export markets abroad. Australians are being deprived of an opportunity to develop a great industry. I believe that the Government should be condemned for its failure to take action. I hope my views will be heeded by the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) who represents the PostmasterGeneral in the Senate, and that he will be prepared to make a policy statement on television before this sessional period concludes.
– The honorable senator, in concluding his speech, indicated that he hoped I would convey his views to the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme). This I most certainly will do. In view of the fact that this matter is before the Parliament in the business listed under “ Orders of the Day - General Business “ on the notice paper I was rather surprised that the honorable senator should have developed his theme quite as much as he did. How ever, in the spirit of 10.30 on Thursday night, I did not interrupt him by rising to a point of order. I certainly will convey to the Postmaster-General the views expressed by the honorable senator.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.37 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 5 May 1966, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1966/19660505_senate_25_s31/>.