26th Parliament · 1st Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General: As the Postcode number when placed on letters is said to assist efficient mail handling, will the Minister give an assurance to the Senate that the Postal Department will confer with industry, business and Government departments to ascertain how those customers could be assisted in efficient mail handling by a more concise use of addresses, particularly customers who use computer facilities?
– Yes, I can give an assurance that the Post Office will confer with industry, business and Government departments in relation to the promotion of the use of the Postcode. Quite obviously the promotion of the Postcode is in the best interests not only of industry and of Government departments but also of the Post Office itself because it will make for more efficient mail handling. In that way it will improve the effectiveness of the service that the Post Office is giving to the public.
– Is the Minister for Supply in a position to confirm a report that a Northern Territory grazier, Mr Anderson of Manners Creek, found rocket wreckage about 20 miles from his homestead and that the pieces are from 5 inches to 4 feet 6 inches in length? The report states that part of the wreckage has been hs’.-.ded to a surveyor from the Weapons Research Establishment. Were these parts from the unsuccessful launching of the ELDO rocket on 4th August? Is the Minister satisfied that adequate safety precautions apply during such firings?
– I have not yet received the report from the Department. I suggest that the honourable senator put the question on the notice paper and I will try to have an answer for him by tomorrow. I am almost certain that I will have a chance to deal with the matter by then.
– Has the Minister for Supply seen in today’s Melbourne ‘Age’ a leading article which refers to the, rising costs of the Mirage fighters? Can the Minister say by how much the cost of the Mirage aircraft now being built in Australia and supplied to the Royal Australian Air Force will exceed the estimate?
– Yes, I did notice the reference in the ‘Age’ to the increase: in the estimates for the Mirage fighter aircraft. I think an error has occurred. The supply of 100 Mirage fighters to the Royal Australian Air Force is almost complete. The 1963 estimate for those aircraft was $246m, and it is confidently expected that these 100 aircraft will be delivered within that estimate. There will be an additional 10 dual trainers the cost of which was estimated at $24m in 1964, and it is confidently expected that these aircraft also will be delivered within that estimate. In the Estimates the two groups of aircraft are put together in a total sum of $270m. This perhaps is ‘where, the error has occurred, giving the impression that there would be an increase in the estimates. The Government Aircraft factory and the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation should be congratulated on having been able to keep the price of these Mirage fighters and trainers within the estimates made nearly five years ago.
– Has the Minister for Housing seen a report in the Melbourne Sun-News Pictorial’ that there are between 200,000 and 250,000 dwellings in Australia which are unfit for human habitation? In view of this startling disclosure will the Minister use her influence with the Government to obtain additional financial assistance for the States for their slum reclamation work?
– I did not see the particular article about which the honourable senator has commented. Whilst appreciating what he said I think I should tell the Senate about the most recent figures available on housing commencements. Figures released by the Commonwealth Statistician on 28th July relating to the number of houses and flats commenced in Australia in 1966-67 revealed that the home building activity during the past financial year was at a reasonably satisfactory level. Overall, the level of commencements in that period was the second highest ever achieved. I think it is important to remember these things. As to the second point of the honourable senator’s question, which related to additional grants for slum reclamation, this is a matter which is discussed between Commonwealth and State Housing Ministers. I would remind him that Slate Governments do allocate money they receive under the Commonwealth and State Housing Agreement for rebuilding in slum areas.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral and I refer to the figures issued by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics which indicate that the number of Australian deaths from lung cancer trebled between 1950 and 1966. In view of well established medical opinion that there is a direct relationship between cigarette smoking and lung cancer, and the need to discourage the glamourising of smoking - especially for young people - is the Government prepared to face up to. this serious problem and to give consideration to prohibiting cigarette and tobacco advertising on radio and television?
– I recall that during the last sessional period I gave information about the cigarette advertising code adopted by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. As I interpret it, the honourable senator suggests that there should be greater restraint.
– I suggest that the present position is unsatisfactory.
– There is an agreement between the television stations.
– Who is answering this question? Senator McClelland, Senator Cohen, or myself?
– The Minister is giving the wrong information.
– Senator McClelland may ask a supplementary question if he wishes. Whatever the code is, Senator Cohen has suggested that it is not adequate for the purpose and that the Government should have another look at it. I will refer the matter to the PostmasterGeneral for that purpose.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: Which department was responsible for the bungle over the Fill aircraft? What steps are being taken to place a limit on Australia’s financial commitment?
– The honourable senator started on a wrong premise when he referred to a bungle. Yesterday the Minister for Defence made a very comprehensive statement on this matter in which he pointed out the worth of these aircraft and the real value that Australia was getting for its money. Indeed, when this order is supplied the Royal Australian Air Force will be one of the best small air forces in the world. The honourable senator should be fully aware that the decision to purchase the FI 1 1 aircraft was made after a full evaluation of the various aircraft that were then available or would become available. I understand that the purchase was made by the Service department concerned; I understand that it was responsible for placing the order. I return to where I started and say that I entirely disagree with the honourable senator’s suggestion that this transaction was a bungle. We have got into a queue early for a very valuable aircraft which will place Australia’s fighting Services in an advantageous position.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Housing. Has the advent of the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation produced evidence of its value to private home builders? Are there encouraging indications that the Corporation is fulfilling its intended role of facilitating the availability of housing loans as an encouragement to private home building? Has there been any appreciable drop in the level of deposit required by the normal lending institutions in consequence of the guarantees provided by the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation such as would enable young couples with limited capital to build their own homes?
– In that rather long question I understand the honourable senator to be inquiring about the value of the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation from the viewpoint of its assisting people to obtain their own homes and the amount of business that is being done by the Corporation. The honourable senator will be interested to know that as at 4th August a total of 6,290 loans, of a total value of $50. 6m, had been insured by the Corporation. This has been of tremendous value in helping Australians to acquire their own homes.
– I address to the Minister for Customs and Excise a question which follows upon that asked by Senator Cohen in relation to cigarette advertising on television. Will the Minister repeat the code that is in operation?
– The earlier question was directed to me in my capacity as Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. I have the code before me and I shall read it. It bears upon the interjection made by Senator McClelland. It is a voluntary industry code and it came into effect on 1st January 1966. It arose from a request by State and Commonwealth health authorities that the television advertising of cigarettes should not be directed towards young people. The code requires that:
Senator Cohen did not direct his attention so much to young children although that aspect comes into it. He said in effect that the health of a community may be affected by cigarette smoking, and he asked that this matter be looked at again. ‘) will certainly do so.
– I preface my question to the Minister representing the ‘Minister for Social Services by saying : that I understand the Department is taking steps to inform the people more adequately of their entitlements under the Act. What form will this advice take? When will it be available?
– I do not have that information but I will be pleased to get it from the Minister for Social Services and convey it to the honourable senator.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Has the necessary machinery been installed in Adelaide for the implementation of the Postcode system? If not, when will it be installed? In which States has the machinery been installed? Have any persons in the mail section been displaced by the use of the Postcode machinery? If so, what is the number?
– I do not, know the answers to the honourable senator’s questions. I will endeavour to get them and I may be able to convey them to him tomorrow.
– My question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral follows those asked by Senator Cohen and Senator Scott. Will the Minister agree that in fact no standards are laid down by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board for the advertising of cigarettes on commercial broadcasting and television stations and that there is on,!y an industry code drawn up and agreed to by the commercial television stations? Is the Minister aware that one of the largest sources of revenue received by commercial television stations is the tobacco companies and that notwithstanding the code to which he has referred there is now as much advertising of cigarettes as there ever was? Is the Minister also aware that the broadcasting and televising of cigarette advertisements is completely prohibited in the United Kingdom? Because of the complete lack of effect of the voluntary code mentioned, will the Minister ask the Postmaster-General to insist that the Australian Broadcasting Con.trol Board prohibit the advertising of cigarettes on commercial television?
– The honourable senator has asked several questions. 1 can answer yes to his questions about the voluntary code. I am not in a posit ion to answer his questions about the revenue earned by the broadcasting and television stations through advertising by the tobacco industry. In all the circumstances, 1 think the honourable senator should place his question on the notice paper and I will get a reply for him.
– My question, which I direct to the Minister for Housing, relates to the future accommodation of migrant families. Could the Minister provide the Senate with information regarding the proposed acquisition of small blocks of flats to provide temporary accommodation for migrant families? Will the Minister give an assurance to the Senate that the Government will make every inquiry into the possibility of erecting small blocks of flats in the larger rural centres of several States as a contribution to the decentralisation of population?
– I remind honourable senators that the scheme to provide flats for migrant families is of course in the experimental stages. The Minister for Labour and National Service and the Minister for Immigration have already advised that the first flats for migrants will be built in the capital cities of Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia. Fifty flats are to be built in Tasmania at four different centres, which I believe to be Burnie, Devonport, Launceston and Hobart. The honourable senator also asked about the possibility of units being built in rural areas. I again remind him of the statement made by the Minister for Immigration in which he said that this matter would be looked at so that the flats would be built where the need existed.
– I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether the Government has noted the statement made recently by Mr Romney, the Governor of Michigan, who is a prospective Republican candidate for the United States presidency at next year’s elections, in which he said that he is opposed to the policy in Vietnam of the United States Administration, ls the Government making adequate preparation so that in the event of the election as President of the United States next year of Mr Romney or a candidate of similar persuasion the Australian Government, will not be left in a situation where its policy on Vietnam is contrary to the policy of the United States Administration?
– Order! The Minister cannot properly be asked to answer questions about the policy of the United States Administration.
– 1 address my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. In view of the recent statement by the Minister for Primary Industry that he proposes to convene a meeting of State Fisheries Ministers with himself in Perth on 8th September to deal with offshore fishing problems, will he ensure that at that meeting the question of the cessation of the slaughter of dolphins off the Australian coastline will be included in the agenda?
– I will convey to the Minister the request of the honourable senator.
– I ask the Minister representing the Treasurer: Will the Minister inform the Parliament whether the Government is prepared to examine the possibility of granting assistance and relief in the matter of donations, bequests, payment of Federal estate duty and exemption from sales tax of goods purchased by royal agricultural and industrial associations?
– I believe that a submission from the various royal show organisations throughout Australia is with the Treasurer at the moment. If the honourable senator puts his question on the notice paper I will ascertain the present situation.
– 1 ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General a question relating to the voluntary code drawn up by advertisers of cigarettes. Will the Minister suggest to those people responsible for the code that they have included in it the provision that cigarette advertisers end their advertisements with the slogan: ‘The doctors have the answer, smoke up while you can, Sir’?
-I will referto the Postmaster-General for his consideration the honourable senator’s poetic effort, or doggerel, or whatever we might call it.
– For the information of honourable senators I lay on the table of the Senate the following papers:
Asian and Pacific Council, Second Ministerial Meeting, Bangkok, 4-7 July 1967: Joint Communique.
Asian and Pacific Council, Second Ministerial Meeting, Bangkok, 5-7 July 1967: Statement at the Opening Public Session by the Minister for External Affairs, the Rt Hon. Paul Hasluck, M.P.
Asian and Pacific Council, Second Ministerial Meeting, Bangkok, 5-7 July 1967: Outline of Australia’s position as expressed to the Council by the Minister for External Affairs, the Rt Hon. Paul Hasluck, M.P.
I ask for leave to make a brief statement on the same subject which is in identical terms with that which was made by my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Hasluck), in another place on Wednesday, 1 6th August. Where the singular pronoun in the first person is used it refers to the Minister for External Affairs.
– Last month in BangkokI represented Australia at the Second Ministerial Meeting of the Asian and Pacific Council. The papers which I have tabled are: the joint communique, which was signed by the ten Ministers who were present; a copy of the statement I made on behalf of Australia at the public opening session; and a precis of a statement I made in closed session during the debate. The reason why I give only a precis of the third of these documents is that I do not feel at liberty to publish part of the confidential records of the Council, but at the same time I thought that the Parliament was entitled to have an outline of the subjects on which I spoke.
In the spirit of ASPAC each nation expresses its views fully in the way that it thinks best without necessarily seekingto commit other nations to its views. Where, as the result of discussion and consultation, we reach a consensus that consensus is expressed in the communique.
Discussion on all matters of regional interest is an essential part of the intention with which ASPAC was formed. It provides a process of continuous consultation. It also provides’ the opportunity for cooperation in all matters of common interest, both inside the various regional and global organisations to which all members belong and within the framework of ASPAC itself.
ASPAC already includes nine members, namely Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, New Zealand and Australia and one observer nation, Laos. It is our hope that, as the usefulness of the Council is appreciated, other nations of the region will feel disposed to join in our discussions. Because of that hope we have hitherto avoided taking up rigid positions on matters under discussion.
I should like to emphasise that ASPAC is an outward-looking organisation which is not directed against any state or group of states. It is a free associationof likeminded countries who believe that through close co-operation they can contribute to the wellbeing of the nations in the broadest sense. It is an association of equal partners and, from our own point of view, it is particularly encouraging that so many countries of Asia have shown that they want Australia to be their full partner in these discussions.
I had the honour of being elected vicechairman of the session in Bangkok and, later in the meeting, it was decided that the next meeting of the council would be held in Canberra. One consequence of this decision is that,throughout the next twelve months, the Standing Committee, which acts as the means of consultation between ministerial meetings, will be meeting regularly in Canberra under my chairmanship. Thus, pending the holding of the third ministerial meeting here in Canberra next July this city has become the diplomatic hub of an important Asian organisation.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
– I present the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works relating to the following proposed work:
Erection of a Mail Exchange Building at Perth, Western Australia.
I ask for leave to make a short statement.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The summary of recommendations and conclusions of the Committee is as follows:
-I present the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works relating to the following proposed work:
Erection of Commonwealth Offices at Lismore, New South Wales.
I ask for leave to make a short statement.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The summary of recommendations and conclusions of the Committee is as follows:
– by leave - In response to an invitation from the Government of Japan. Australia has indicated its decision in principle to participate in a world exposition with the theme. ‘Progress and Harmony for Mankind’, to be held at Osaka from March to September 1970.
This will be the first exposition of this kind to be held in Asia, and the Government’s decision has regard to Australia’s increasingly close relationships with Asia and with Japan in particular. The exposition is to be similar in character and concept to Expo ‘67 at Montreal, at which Australia has a highly successful presentation. It offers the opportunity for us further to portray to our friends in Asia and indeed to the world at large Australia’s way of life and our achievements and aspirations.
The Government has not yet reached any decision on the nature or scale of Australian participation at Osaka. These aspects will be studied in the light of the experience of our participation in Expo ‘67.
– by leave - In making a statement which is similar to that made by the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) in another place last Thursday, 17th August, the use of the singular pronoun in the first person is a reference to the Minister for Defence.
On 3rd August I announced the Government’s approval of the United States request for rest and recreation facilities in Australia for its personnel serving in Vietnam. I would now like to inform the House of further developments with particular reference to the participation of Australian servicemen in the R and R programme. The sites agreed upon for R and R centres arc Sydney and Brisbane/ Queensland Gold Coast. Provision exists in the agreement between Australia and the United States for up to 1,000 personnel on the ground at each of these two centres. An advance United States team has arrived in Australia to plan the R and R programme. The programme is expected to begin in October with, initially, fifteen aircraft arriving each month. These aircraft are of the Boeing 707 or DCS type, mostly under charter to United States civil airlines, each of which will carry 162 passengers. The use of aircraft of this type and number will mean that about 500 personnel on R and R leave will be in Australia at any one time. Sydney only will be used in the early stages of the programme. These arrangements are not yet firm as it is too soon after the conclusion of the agreement to have an accurate estimate of aircraft availability and to lay down detailed flight schedules. It can be expected that the programme will gradually grow in momentum but it is too early to know when the number of aircraft will be increased or when the programme will be extended to Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
Australian servicemen in Vietnam, in common with United States servicemen, are entitled to one R and R leave of approximately live days outside that country once during their 12 months tour of operational duty. This leave may be taken at any stage of the operational tour, depending on the commitments of a man’s unit and the vacancies for seats on aircraft to the R and R centre of his own choice. It has been agreed withthe United States authorities that any Australian who wishes to do so may spend his R and R leave at home. There are leave centres in Asian countries open to Australian servicemen, such as Bangkok and Hong Kong, and we are therefore unable to say at this stage how many of our servicemen will elect to spend their R and R leave in Australia. Australian servicemen do, however, have equal rights with United States servicemen in this regard and will be included from the beginning of the R and R flights to Australia. It is not expected that there will be any difficulty at all in providing for Australian servicemen the number of seats required to bring to Australia all those who nominate Australia as the venue of their R and R leave.
Australians who elect to come home on R and R leave will be given transport to and from their homes - by air where interstate or lengthy intrastate travel is involved, so that as many as possible will be at their homes on the day of arrival in Australia. The Government has directed that every Australian serviceman, irrespective of his home location, will be given a minimum of four nights at home. Travelling time will be added to the leave where necessary for this purpose. Where this means that aseat is not available on a returning R and R aircraft or a Royal Australian Air Force courier or charter aircraft within a reasonable time after return to the R and R centre, the serviceman will be returned to Vietnam by civil airline.
I conclude by expressing the Government’s satisfaction on the conclusion of this agreement with the United States, and the prompt action of the United States Government in beginning preparations for the leave programme. I express also our thanks to the United States for meeting Australia’s, wishes on details of the agreement, in particular the inclusion in the programme of our own servicemen, who will be carried to and from Vietnam at no cost to the Australian Government.
Debate resumed from 22 August (vide page 136), on motion by Senator Anderson: That the Bill be now read a second time.
– When the motion for the adjournment of the Senate was put last night I was speaking on this Bill, the purpose of which is to provide the South Australian Government with finance to construct a gas pipeline from the Gidgealpa and Moomba gas fields to Adelaide. The total estimated cost of the scheme is$35m, of which $20m will be provided through the Australian Loan
Council and $l5m will be provided to the State Government by the Commonwealth Government, by way of loan, to help the State Government construct this pipeline.
Just before the debate was interrupted last night a member of the Opposition interjected. He said that this was a socialistic programme and asked whether it received the support of the Commonwealth Government. I mentioned that the Labor Party had a policy of nationalisation of industry, distribution, production and exchange. Senator Murphy interjected and said that I was out of date on the Labor Party’s latest proposals regarding nationalisation; that I should look up its platform and make myself aware of its new programme on socialisation and nationalisation; and that I could buy a very cheap booklet that contained the whole programme. I acquainted myself with the Australian Labor Party’s latest proposals on nationalisation by referring to the booklet on the platform, constitution and rules of that Party.
– Did the honourable senator buy the booklet?
– I have the booklet. It states that the Australian Labor Parly’s latest proposals regarding nationalisation were decided at the Commonwealth Conference held in 1965. I do not know whether the proposals have been changed since 1965.
– The honourable senator does not have this booklet that I have here, lt only came out this morning.
– I have not been able to obtain that booklet yet. 1 shall read from the booklet that I have. If there is any alteration in the platform honourable senators opposite may correct me. I am replying to a rather rude interjection last night. I thought I should clear the decks for the benefit of honourable senators opposite. The policy of the Australian Labor Party on nationalisation is the nationalisation of banking, credit and insurance companies, monopolies, shipping, radio services, television and sugar refining. That is the policy set out in the 1965 booklet. If there is an alteration to that policy I would be pleased to hear of it. That is the policy as stated in the latest booklet thai 1 could obtain
Having corrected my statement regarding the policy of the Australian Labor Party on nationalisation I would now like to return to the Bill. 1 have mentioned the various costs of power supplies according to the different types of fuel used. An assessment has been made that the “gas delivered from the Gidgealpa field to Adelaide, servicing a 200 megawatt power station, could enable a station to be run at a cost of .45c per unit. This cost compares quite favourably with the cost at the power station erected at Port Augusta, using coal from Leigh Creek, but it does not compare with the larger stations on the eastern seaboard. Those stations are situated on the coal fields and can produce power at less than .45c per unit of electricity. Gas will not compete with the latest large atomic power stations burning uranium as fuel, at which, if the stations produce up to 1,100 megawatts, the cost can be reduced to something under .3c per unit of electricity. However, this station compares more than favourably with the smaller atomic energy power plants and, therefore, will be of considerable advantage to the people of South Australia.
The South Australian Government is proposing to set up an authority to finance and construct the pipeline over the distance of 481 miles from Gidgealpa to Adelaide. The pipeline will have an 18-inch diameter and will be more than capable of transporting sufficient gas to meet the requirements of the Electricity Trust of South Australia and the commercial private users of gas in Adelaide and environs. Initially the pipeline wm be able to cope with about 60 million cubic feet of gas per day. This figure will be stepped up, with additional extra pumping stations, to something in excess of 200 million cubic feet per day. When additional gas is required the figure may be increased roughly three or four times.
I must say that I am surprised that the planners of this gas line project have not seen fit to cater for towns and industries outside South Australia. I think it would have been quite economical - seeing that the Commonwealth is providing a loan for almost half the finance for the project: - somehow to connect the pipeline with Broken Hill and then take it on to Adelaide. There would have been an increased cost involved but when we consider the service and the cheap fuel that would have been available for Broken Hill 1 think it would have been economical to do this as part of the overall picture. I notice also that at a later stage it is intended to link Port Augusta and Whyalla with the original pipeline so that those cities can obtain cheap gas and fuel for electricity generation and other purposes, f understand this will be done at an additional cost of about S6m. The construction of this pipeline is a State matter and at the moment it is intended to serve only South Australia. As Broken Hill is so close to the border of South Australia - I understand the pipeline will be laid so that it will pass only 120 or 130 miles from that city - 1 hope that the South Australian Government will see fit to make provision for the sale of gas to the mining companies at Broken Hill if it is required.
The construction of this pipeline is a new venture. This pipeline, and the line to Brisbane, to be built by the associated group will probably be the first two gas pipelines laid in Australia, apart from the small line already in use at Roma in Queensland. We are entering a new era as a result of the policy adopted by this Government, when it came to office, of encouraging Australian and overseas companies to explore for oil and gas throughout Australia. If we look back over the past -fifty years wc find that there have been sporadic attempts by various governments and companies to discover oil in Australia; but these attempts were unsuccessful. It was not until October 1953 that the first commercial oil field was found in Australia. That was at Rough Range in Western Australia. Because the Government has seen fit to subsidise drilling for oil or gas on approved sites, at first on a 50-50 basis and later on the basis of 30% of the total cost, these projects in South Australia and Queensland are now being developed. Because gas has been discovered as a result of the policies pursued by this Government, the Australian Labor Party has decided to adopt a completely new policy in relation to gas.
– We do not want the country to be exploited by overseas operators.
– We will talk about that during the Budget debate, if the honourable senator wishes. We will take the Opposition on at any time in relation to this matter, .is we would in relation to iron ore. At the moment I do not intend to be diverted from my comments about oil and gas. I have just referred to Labor’s policy on nationalisation, lt docs not cover iron ore. Honourable senators opposite would like it to cover iron ore, just as they would like it to cover oil and gas. But Labor must first get into office before it can introduce such policies. Some considerable time might elapse before Labor is in office; indeed 1 hope in the interests of the country that that will be so.
In case honourable senators are not aware of it, it might be of advantage to outline Labor’s fuel policy. In May last I sat in this chamber and listened to the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) read from a document of ten or twelve pages in which was outlined Labor’s policy in relation to fuel, oil and gas. He said that it was Labor’s policy to establish a government authority to convey gas from the MereenieGidgealpaMoomba field to Adelaide and from the Gippsland field to Melbourne and/or Sydney. Later Labor announced that its outlook was. so wide that.it would convey gas from Barrow Island in Western Australia to Perth, a distance of 1,000 miles. But at that stage insufficient gas had been found at Barrow Island to warrant such a project, and that is still the position. The Labor Party is so devoid of support that it is even getting in ahead of the discovery of’ gas In an effort to win the support of the public.
– Has the honourable senator ever read the history of the Mexican oil fields?
– I have Labor’s policy before me. It is available if the honourable senator wants to read it. Last night the Government was accused of pursuing a Socialist line in providing funds for such projects, and it was suggested that that sort of policy should bc pursued only by the Labor Party. Let us examine the present position. This Government received from a Socialist government in South Australia an application for sufficient funds to enable it to construct a pipeline from Gidgealpa to Adelaide. This is a national government. We have to cater for the needs of various governments throughout Australia. If a Socialist State comes to us with a plan to raise money, are we to say: ‘We arc not going to give you the money; it will only be a loan”?
– The Premier of New South Wales says that the Commonwealth is not giving that State enough.
– All the Premiers are saying the. same thing. This was an application by the Socialist Labor Government ot South Australia for finance to construct a pipeline. The Loan Council gave permission to South Australia to borrow up to $20m, but as the scheme was to cost S35m there was a shortfall of $!5m and the Commonwealth Government agreed to lend South Australia that sum so that it could go ahead with the. proposal. There is nothing Socialist about the Commonwealth Government. The only government which is Socialist is the Government of South Australia. This will be South Australia’s venture, not the Commonwealth’s, lt will be run by authority set up by the South Australian Government. J do not think anyone can accuse the Commonwealth Government of being Socialistic simply because, a Socialist State approaches it for finance to build a pipeline.
The agreement states clearly that if the borrowings permitted by the Loan Council do not reach the necessary S20m the shortfall must be met by South Australia. Another’ most important aspect so far as the Commonwealth is concerned, particularly in view of recent approaches by Slates which have sought money for various projects and sometimes have been 50% out in their estimates of cost, is that any cost incurred in construction of the pipeline in excess of S35m will have to bc met by the State. This agreement is clear cut and concise. The Commonwealth will not bc responsible for anything in excess of SI 5m, and as I have said, if borrowings do not come up to expectations South Australia must find the additional sum required. I have pleasure in supporting the Bill.
Senator DRURY (South Australia) 13.53] - The Bill before the Senate relates fo the construction of a pipeline to carry natural gas from Gidgealpa to Adelaide. Senator Scott spent quite a deal bt time trying to explain to the Senate, and to Ate people who may be listening in, the policy of the Australian Labor Party in relation to nationalisation, but evidently he is not up to date because he was quoting from our 1965 policy.
– lt is hard to keep up with them.
– At least we have a policy, which is more than can be said about other parties in this Senate. We are not afraid to publish our policy, lt is there for everyone to see. Although I may be going some little distance from the Bill, let me say that Labor proposes to nationalise only those utilities which arc not being used to the fullest extent and for the benefit of the Australian community as a whole. Furthermore, the Australian Labor Party will carry out its programme of nationalisation by democratic means.
The Opposition supports the Bill, which seeks approval of an agreement between the Commonwealth and South Australian governments for financial assistance to construct a natural gas pipeline to be used to carry natural gas from Gidgealpa, the point of its discovery, 480 miles to Adelaide. The estimated cost of the project is about $35m. Quite a lot of criticism has been’ levelled at the South Australian Government because it is to have the pipeline constructed along the shortest possible route’ from Gidgealpa to Adelaide. Therefore it will not pass through certain South Australian industrial towns which would benefit if the ‘ pipeline were to be’ constructed’ through them. Honourable senators should appreciate that the expense incurred in the construction of the pipeline to Adelaide is enormous and that the shortest possible route is selected to keep down costs. The wisdom of this action has been proved iri the construction of water pipelines throughout South Australia. When the duplication of the water pipeline to Whyalla was discussed, the responsible South Australian Minister of that time said that the most direct route would be followed to Whyalla, and that the route would be the cheapest. He said that if any towns in the vicinity wanted water from the pipeline, spur lines would be added to the main line, thus saving a great amount of money.
I wish to quote to honourable senators a statement made in another place by the honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Birrell), when speaking on this Bill. At page 140 of Hansard of 16th August he is reported to have said:
At page 2053 of the South- Australian Hansard of 5th October 1966 Mr Walsh is also on record as saying on behalf of this Government: ‘If it is an economic proposition to deliver gas to Wallaroo, Port Pirie or Whyalla, gas will be sent there when the main trunk line is delivering gas to Adelaide. Also, if the people of Broken Hill determine that they need natural gas, a subsidiary line will be taken there. All these matters are associated with the economics of the proposition’. Whilst on this particular aspect it is interesting to note that during the debate on this matter in the South Australian Parliament a former Liberal Minister - I repeat, a Liberal Minister - who was the member for Burra, stated that when the Morgan-Whyalla water pipeline was to be duplicated, argument was then used to ‘ deviate the main pipeline so that - it would serve Burra and Booborowie. This action was not taken but these towns were later accommodated by branch pipelines from the trunk main at a cost of less than the cost of one mile of the original or main pipeline.
In other words, the people were eventually satisfied. I venture lo say thai the people who have been critical of the route chosen for the gas pipeline from Gidgealpa to Adelaide will also be satisfied when their towns are served with natural gas through spur lines from the main trunk line. I cannot see for the life of me why honourable senators opposite choose to criticise the South Australian Government because it is acting in the best interests of the State. It wants to run the main pipeline 480 miles from Gidgealpa to Adelaide at the cheapest possible cost. It has been proved that it is far more economical to run spur lines from the main trunk line to the towns that have asked for natural gas. lt is true that many South Australian towns would benefit by decentralisation. This is a heritage of thirty-two years of Libera] government in South Australia. In that time the former Liberal Government did nothing through decentralisation to benefit the distant towns of South Australia. The people who arc critical of the present South Australian Government should first examine the accomplishments over thirty-two years of the former Liberal Government. The present South Australian Government has been in office for about two years.
– What about Mount Gambier?
– And Thevenard?
– I do not know whether the honourable senators who are interjecting have ever- visited country towns and heard the criticism and the cries for industries to be established, because they are becoming ghost towns. 1 will admit that conditions at Whyalla have improved, but this has occurred only because of the enormous contributions by the Commonwealth Government through shipbuilding subsidies.
A continual and overall plan is necessary in the establishment of a national policy for natural gas and other fuels. Huge sums are being spent within Australia in bil and mineral exploration and some notable discoveries have been made. These finds will be exceeded in future years and obviously they will be of great national benefit. Industrial organisations have forecast that these operations will continue for many years. The rig built at Whyalla for offshore drilling is a great step forward and is now in use. Unquestionably the future holds great promise. Planning between the Commonwealth and State governments is essential for the future.
The Opposition supports the Bill. Labor senators from South Australia give it their whole-hearted support because the Commonwealth is supplying a great deal of money towards the construction of the natural gas pipeline from Gidgealpa. It is true that South Australia will have to repay the money, but I feel that when the pipeline comes into operation, not only will the people of Adelaide receive cheaper fuel, but the towns that are critical of the South Australian Government because of the route selected for the main pipeline will also be served through the construction of spur lines.
Senator DAVIDSON (South Australia) r,4.8. - I want to lend my support to the Bill and express pleasure at the progress it has made. I am also pleased that the Opposition is supporting the Bill. While there may be differences of opinion on points of detail on going through the Bill line by line, in the main it is receiving support from all shades of political opinion amongst South Australian representatives in this Parliament. The construction of ‘his pipeline, which will be of great advantage to South Australia, is part of a programme that surely will be of advantage to Australia as a whole.
The present South Australian Government has moved very quickly in connection with the establishment of the pipeline. Indeed, it has claimed that it is the first in the field in this sphere. I imagine that the
State Government believes this is a creditable achievement. I do not dispute that, but I think that it is fair to add that the feeling of pride in being first in the field in this venture should be linked with a very strong plea for technical efficiency and sound mechanics in the construction of the pipeline. I hope that the South Australian Government, as it shoulders this new responsibility, will take this very earnestly into account. I believe that the authority that has been set up in South Australia will see to it that this is done.
If it is a first, we should not overlook the fact - and today we place it on record - that this kind of emergence just does not simply happen. This arrangement obviously emerged today because of a vast amount of exploratory and preparatory work over a considerable period of years. lt is all very well for Senator Drury to make certain criticisms of the former Liberal-Country Party Government which held office in South Australia for so many years. I hope he will agree that much of the efficiency and effectiveness of this emergence today is the result of work done by the Playford Government over a long period. It may be argued that any government with any sense of responsibility in office would be undertaking vast surveys of oil and natural gas with a view to providing for a state a fuel that was economic, competitive and efficient. But at the same time let us recognise the work that Sir Thomas Playford’s Government did, the persistence with which it carried out that work, the encouragement to private enterprise that it provided and the climate of movement that it afforded for private enterprise in the exploration work associated with the discoveries of oil and natural gas.
It might also be said that a great deal of this was being done at a time in our history when there was not a great chorus of unanimity about the future of oil and gas in Australia that we have today. In those days many people looked upon it with a great deal of suspicion and there were many pessimists in the field. It cannot have been easy to encourage people to undertake this work, but the confidence that Sir Thomas Playford and his Government had in their own administration and in the future of South Australia encouraged people to carry out a great deal of ex ploratory work. We are reaping the benefit of this today.
So we find ourselves in theSenate this afternoon with this measure before us to provide finance for the State of South Australia for the establishment of a natural gas pipeline. Probably the negotiations and movements are summed up in the opening paragraph of the Schedule contained in the Bill. It reads:
Australia constituted pursuant to the
Natural Gas Pipelines Authority Act, 1967 of the State;
As the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Anderson) said in the Senate on 16th August 1967, the purpose of the Bill is to obtain the approval of the Parliament to this agreement. It is a matter of some gratification to us all that the proposal receives unanimity of support from all sides of the Senate. As honourable senators will recall, some few months ago the South Australian Government approached the Commonwealth for this assistance pointing out the difficulties that South Australia was experiencing in obtaining finance for a natural gas pipeline from the fields at Gidgealpa and Moomba. The cost of construction of the pipeline has been estimated at S35m. When the State approached the Commonwealth it indicated that it was proposing then to set up an authority. I think we should not let go unrepealed the words of the Minister when speaking to this measure. He said:
In short, the Commonwealth Government was enthusiastic about it and it was expressing the hope that the pipeline would be completed at an early date.
This Government accepted the State’s view on the technical soundness of the whole project and on the contribution that it will undoubtedly make to the development of South Australia’s economy. May 1 take a moment or two to refer to the two fields, because these matters are related to the pipeline. In the first instance may I refer to Gidgealpa, where the estimated reserves are 460 billion cubic feet of what is described as pipeline quality gas. Later drilling there has led to an estimate of 640 billion cubic feet. At the Moomba field adjacent to Gidgealpa, the Mines Department of South Australia reports, established reserves amount to 340 billion cubic feet and with probable additional reserves the total is 800 billion cubic feet: In addition to the Mines Department, two other authorities have been involved, namely, the Gas Conservation Board of Alberta and James A. Lewis Engineering Incorporated. It is pertinent to observe that authorities both within Australia and without Australia who have been involved in. these surveys have been satisfied as to the contents of I he fields and the quality of the gas. The South Australian Government, in its submissions lo the Commonwealth, stresses this and goes on to make certain references to the foreseeable and more distant future. Potential demands have been considered on the basis of some 20 years.
I should like to take a moment or two to refer the Senate to the document which contains the submission to the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) by the South Australian Government. Reference is made to the natural gas market. This is a most important matter to mention when we are considering a new pipeline to introduce a new fuel, in relation to which a great deal of pioneering has to be undertaken. The natural gas market, therefore, merits the closest study. The South Australian Premier states:
To meet these potential demands fully over a period of 20 years would require the delivery of about 1,750 billion cubic feet of gas, and to justify the development of consumers’ plant to this capacity in 20 years’ time would call for a further 3,500 billion cubic feet of gas over the following 20 years. This calculation is somewhat academic for it is unlikely, even if some 5,250 billion cubic 4 feet of deliverable supplies were established, that facilities could be provided to meet fully such demands, including daily and seasonal peaks, without the normal supply devices of ‘peak-shaving’ and ‘interruptible supplies contracts’. But ‘this calculation does show the very considerable extent of probable demand for natural gas as’ a fuel, and moreover overseas experience has been that estimates made of future expansion in demand have been consistently conservative.
There has been some discussion in the course of this debate about the size of the pipeline, which will be nearly 500 miles long, from the gas fields to Adelaide. The report makes some observations on the pipeline. I shall, perhaps, say something about it a little later on. In relation to size the report states:
To meet fully the prospective market for gas as a fuel only, as it seems likely to develop over the next 20 years, …
That period is mentioned again:
The South Australian Government states that it’ must have regard to: 1
Established reserves of deliverable gas (by tender date) of at least 750 billion cubic feet.
The necessity to contemplate a minimum supply period of 20 years from the date .of each progressive commitment of considerable capital funds.
Recognition of the desirability of keeping the initial capital requirements to a reasonable minimum, and to providing subsequent capital requirements so far as possible out of recoveries.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, having the maximum of flexibility to provide subsequently facilities to supply additional quantities of gai within potential demands, as those additional reserves may be established. ;
The report continues:
In the light of these criteria it has been .decided that the most satisfactory pipeline scheme would be as under:
Initial construction of an 18 inch pipeline from the Reid to Adelaide with terminals at Bolivar and Taperoo and off-takes at Elizabeth and Torrens Island . . .
In addition a small branch pipeline to Angaston is envisaged. .1 read this with interest. Yet 1 cannot help feeling in my own mind that if we are looking ahead twenty years and then a further twenty years, and if there is evidence on all sides that the demand for natural gas will increase and its use will be diversified and extended, possibly the 18 inch pipeline may not be the most suitable or the most economic pipeline for the purpose.
A little while ago Senator Drury referred to spur lines at all kinds of possible places. He based his argument on water pipelines of earlier years. If his argument is accepted 1 ask whether an 18 inch pipeline will be suitable, sufficient or economically sound. To my mind these questions have not been answered, in spite of the fact that the authority which sent out this submission on behalf of the South Australian Government made the points that it did make. However, these are matters which will be kept under close ‘ walch. I have no doubt that the Authority which has been established will take a special interest in everything pertaining to it. The Authority is an interesting one because it is contemplated that it will take responsibility for the financing of the pipeline and the transportation of the natural gas. As I understand it, it is not proposed that the Authority will be concerned with the purchase of gas from the producer nor in its sale to the consumer. It will not be concerned in the functioning or financing of the collection or purification of gas. All this will be the responsibility of the producer. The terms of the Authority are set out specifically as they relate to the establishment, maintenance and the general wellbeing of the pipeline itself.
The route proposed for the pipeline has been referred to in the debate this afternoon. After a survey, recommendations on this were made by the Bechtel Pacific Corporation Limited, which is one of the leading organisations in this field. It recommended the shortest possible route. To South Australians the route is fairly obvious. It comes right down to Adelaide from the field, following a line west of Lake Frome. A bit further south it is well east of the township of Hawker and comes down to Peterborough on the eastern side of the range and then right through to Adelaide with a spur line to Angaston. As with the size of the pipeline, there are still some questions in my mind that remain unanswered. I respect the Authority which is very experienced. I respect the Bechtel Pacific Corporation for its authority, its skill and knowledge in this matter, but I ask whether all conditions and considerations have been taken into account. I believe, for example, that it is the intention to bury the line. This will involve excavations. Has the Authority gone into the whole economics of this proposal and considered what kind of soil would have to be removed? Obviously any areas with large rocks requiring costly removal will have to be avoided. It is much easier to take a pipeline through country of a sandier nature.
I mention also a point which has not been answered in any reference which has been made. The route which has been referred to as the direct route is, comparatively speaking, an isolated one by comparison with other routes which might have been used. What about access roads in this connection? A considerable number of roads will be required, not only to install the pipeline but also to service it. In the main all these will have to .be new roads. If the western route, as we know it in South Australia, had been followed my feeling is that in addition to it being close to the established railways to the north and to the west there would be greater communication facilities of a wide variety. I refer to telephones, power, and all the other facilities that go with them. It has been proved by authorities in Canada and the United States that it is more economical to build along more accepted routes. Senator Drury talked about decentralisation. I suggest that industries will go where the pipeline goes. If we examine a map and look at the direct route of the pipeline proposed by the organisation it appears doubtful whether many industries will follow it through a considerable area in South Australia through which it will go.
I cannot help wondering whether the route as it is now listed does not tend to mitigate against decentralisation. It is true that spur lines may go to Whyalla and to Port Pirie and Port Augusta also. There is a possibility of one going to Wallaroo for the establishment of a fertiliser plant. AH this will be good for the total development of South Australia. As I said earlier. I respect the authority of the Bechtel Pacific organisation. However, I raise these questions because it occurs to me from the information which is available that it might have been of greater advantage to the State of South Australia if the pipeline had followed the western route.
I want to draw this contribution to the debate to a close by referring to the fact that as we are debating a measure relating to a pipeline for natural gas and talking in terms of billions of cubic feet and of many millions of dollars we are talking also of the establishment of industry for industrial heating and for a great many other complicated and quite outstanding new industrial developments. I refer to an article by Mr Alex Hunter, senior fellow in economics at the Australian National University, written about a month ago. He states:
The growth in consumption of the newest of Australia’s fuels, natural gas, will be the dominant feature of national fuel policy for the next three decades al least.
Black and brown coal, which might appear to be its nearest competitors as a source of primary energy, will not in fact be unduly affected during this period because black coal has a market, for the moment anyway, inextricably associated with the technology of steel making, while both brown and black coal are heavily involved in the production of electricity in very economic generating stations in New South Wales and Victoria.
I emphasise that this will be the dominant feature of Australia’s fuel policy for the next three decades at least. In an opinion from Chicago it is pointed out that natural gas marketing will, revolutionise domestic energy, wherever it is sold. It is stated that if the price of natural gas delivered to Australian homes is strongly competitive with other forms of energy the revolution will be dramatic.
I close wilh the argument that natural gas has now outstripped the use of coal and oil in the United Slates for domestic heating. If the price remains in a competitive sphere the changes in Australia’s habits are likely to be quite extraordinary, in the same way as they have been in the United States of America throughout the whole range of lighting and heat, and in the other associated domestic uses. So in both the domestic and industrial sphere of State and national development the natural gas pipeline which is the subject of debate in this Bill is certainly to be of very great advantage and it. will assist greatly in the development of the State. I support the Bill and I hope that it will go forward without delay. The Commonwealth has been happy, as the Minister has said, to assist in this way. The South Australian Government carries a considerable measure of responsibility for the finance and development of the project. All of us will watch it with interest because undoubtedly, as they have claimed it to be the first, many other pipelines throughout Australia will be modelled on the experience gained m this exercise.
– Naturally, I, in company with other honourable senators on both sides , of ‘he chamber - I suppose there are really three sides - congratulate the Government; on introducing this measure. One characterristic of the Parliament is that the. shortest speeches are made on the most important mailers that are discussed and the longest speeches are made on subjects that do not matter so much.
– The honourable senator is talking about gas, is he not?
– Yes. The point is well taken. What 1 see wrong in respect of this subject is what I see wrong in most of this Government’s developmental ideas. They are higgledy-piggledy. For years lnc Australian Labor Party has been demanding a national fuel policy, lt has been well supported in this chamber by men such as the late Senator Sir William Spooner, who saw the great difficulties ahead and on many occasions stood up in his place and supported the proposition of a national fuel policy for Australia. We welcome :ind praise this legislation. But I wonder is it not possible that a pipeline that can go 450 miles- from Gidgealpa to Adelaide could also go 900 miles from Gidgealpa to Melbourne? If we were pursuing a national policy we could look at this mailer from an Australian point of view. I believe mat that suggestion is perfectly logical. Why should the building of a pipeline be left to only South Australia, with Commonwealth help, when the gas could just as easily be fed to Melbourne if our policies were not impeded by State attitude’s?
– Gas could be fed to Melbourne more easily from Bass Si rait, could it not?
– I do not Know. 1 do not think this matter has even been considered from a national point of view.
– Fair go.
– This debate; is taking place the day after a debate on the failure of a water supply scheme for South Australia. But that is forgotten now. The Government is very fortunate. On Tuesday it admitted, the failure of a water supply scheme for South Australia, but on Wednesday is able to introduce the present bill about natural gas. Nature has been very good to this Government.
Senator Scott said that we have to thank this Government for the money that it is sinking into the development of drilling all over Australia. That is not exactly true. If any praise is to be given to any government, the Labor Government, which established the Bureau of Mineral Resources and which foresaw all these developments and tried to set up an organisation to carry them out, should not be excluded. That Labor Government established the Joint Coal Board. I ask the Senate to mark the word Joint’. The Board was for ali States. But nobody wanted it. I say with great respect that most of the Tories and the conservative element in the community helped to kill any chance the Joint Coal Board had of becoming a real Joint Coal Board. It was left to operate as a State coal board in New South Wales only. That was what was wrong with it. That was not the initial intention of the legislation. That Board could have had much greater success had it been a real Joint Coal Board insted of being refused association with all other State coal authorities. That was a real attempt to establish a national fuel policy.
As I said earlier, we welcome the construction of this pipeline. But who says that the proposed width of this pipeline is the right width for it? We may be committing the same error as was committed in respect of our railways systems. We have different railway gauges all over Australia and we have not joined the systems together yet. A similar situation might develop one day wilh these pipelines. Queensland might have a different sized pipe. Melbourne will almost certainly have a different sized pipe. Who is looking at this aspect? Nobody is looking at it, because there is no body with constitutional authority or interest to do so. There is no joint or national authority to look at this aspect.
Senator Scott made another point that 1 want to refute. He spoke about the high cost of coal. He said that natural gas would reduce costs. I am not certain that it will do that. The interesting point is that these technical or automated developments seldom reduce costs. We should be able to get this gas out of the ground much more cheaply than we can produce coal. But that will not be the case. The consumers will pay twice the price that they should have to pay. I wish Senator Scott was here to listen to this. I am not talking about the pre- 1950 period because the situation then was rather chaotic; but, in the period of nearly 15 years in which the mining industry in New South Wales has been reorganised, the Coal Board and the Electricity Commission have set their minds to the mammoth task of building new powerhouses on top of the coal mines. The result is that New South Wales is the only State that has effected great savings in fuel costs as a result of the application of new production methods and having the shortest distance between the mine head and the powerhouse. The cost of electricity all over New South Wales today is 20% less than it was 10 years ago.
Let me remind Senator Scott that this is largely a socialised industry. Senator Gair knows what I am talking about. The New South Wales Electricity Commission operates almost exclusively on coal from nationalised mines. New South Wales is the only State that has effected a decrease in the cost of fuel. Coal could even compete with oil. It will do so one day, because its cost will continue to come down. No consumer will give up using coal for the purpose of power production if he can buy it for 20% less than he would have to pay for oil, natural gas or any other type of gas. They are the facts.
Senator Scott laughs and says that we believe in Socialism. Of course we believe in Socialism. This Government believes in socialising losses and giving profits to private enterprise. That is occurring even in relation to this pipeline from Gidgealpa to Adelaide. It will be socialised. It will be largely a government owned monopoly. But the side of the operation that will make profits will be in the hands of private enterprise. That is always the case. This Government is carrying out its policy of supporting its friends.
Senator Scott also allegedly quoted the Labor Party policy on socialisation. When honourable senators opposite speak in that way we have to stand up and correct them. Senator Henty will agree that that is the purpose of the Senate. I have our policy before me. Senator Scott said that there was another one, but copies of this policy statement were issued at our Caucus meeting today.
– There will be another one tomorrow.
– No, there will not. The objective is:
The democratic socialisation of industry, production distribution and exchange - to the extent necessary to eliminate exploitation and other antisocial features in those fields - in accordance with the principles of action, methods and progressive reforms set out in this Platform.
The Government parties very often apply socialist principles when it suits them. The Government parties actually agree with the Australian Labor Party’s socialist attitude to monopolies, as evidenced by its control of monopolies. This is playing a game of politics. The Government parties introduced legislation to control monopolies, which is getting at the same point that the Australian Labor Party is getting at.
– I hope I live to see the effect of it.
– Yes, of course. To quote the platform of the Australian Labor Party:
Labor believes that democratic socialisation the utilisation of the economic assets of the State in the interests of the citizen, and that man is greater than the machine he uses or the environment in which he lives.
Labor believes that scientific and technological advancement shall serve the interests of all and not bc the exclusive right of the few.
In point of fact, in a half hearted way, the Government parties believe in that too.
– Is this the Adelaide Conference?
– This is the Adelaide Conference.
– Which was held the omer day.
– As Senator Dittmer reminds me, the policy was written in 1957. When honourable senators opposite keep producing new versions of our policy 1 have to quote the original document, and that is what I am doing now. I do not want to prolong this debate. I am probably out of order now. Clause (e) of the policy provides for:
The rule of law to be the right of all.
The Australian Labor Party is a legal party that believes in the rule of law. We do not mean to take everybody’s business away from them. Senator Scott said that he does not believe in nationalisation. Nationalisation of banking is one Of our policies. Is there any honourable senator on the opposite side of the chamber who does not believe in the nationalisation of banking?
– We do not.
– Honourable senators opposite do believe in the nationalisation of banks. Fifty years ago ninety private banks operated in this country; today there are five. The major banking takes place under Commonwealth and socialist conditions. No honourable senator opposite would dare rise and say anything about that. Honourable senators opposite j praise the Reserve Bank and continue to build large socialist institutions, calling that private enterprise. It seems so silly. The Reserve Bank has even been called in to solve the problem of money being sent to North Vietnam. The Reserve Bank will handle that problem for the Government. Socialism will be used there. Wherever one goes one cannot escape Socialism.
Shipping legislation has just been introduced for the purpose of socialising shipping, so honourable senators opposite will not be able to say anything about that. The Australian Labor Party is going to have a look at radio. We hope to extend and broaden radio. Honourable senators opposite have it socialised or nationalised.
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Wood) - Order! The honourable senator is sett ins a little away from the Bill, which deals with the construction of a natural gas pipeline.
– Yes, Sir, I could see that you were getting impatient. I shall re;urn to more concrete subjects. I mentioned those matters only because every now and again the Government parties, while opposing the Australian Labor Party’s major policies, proceed to follow, iri their own way, the same policies. The Government now has to put federal finance into this pipeline because private enterprise will not do that.
– What about the oil pipeline in Queensland?
– The oil would stay forever in the ground if it was left to private enterprise to get it out. The Government has to finance the pipeline with taxpayers’ money; otherwise the oil would stay where it is.
– Barrow Island is not financed by Government money.
– The Government has a big hand in it somewhere. There would be no progress without government assistance. We admit that. Honourable senators opposite should admit it because they know that it is so, but they will not publicly admit it. We are dealing with a situation which is easily influenced by innuendoes and nasty little cracks about Socialism.
– Who is financing the Queensland pipeline for natural gas?
– I have not given that consideration, but I will tell Senator Bull that as soon as it gets into trouble there will be a loophole somewhere in the legislation that will pull the Government in. Sooner or later the Government will have to work out a national policy in relation to fuel and power. New South Wales is supplementing the flow of electricity from the Snowy scheme into Victoria, and that is how it should be. AH the States should be together on this problem.
I close by reminding honourable senators that the late Senator Spooner’s dream was to have a national fuel policy whereby authorities would be handling the various types of fuel and the various media of fuel production such as gas, electricity and hydro-electricity, so that Australia could have a national outlook on the whole question. The only fault that I can find with this Bill is that it is going to perpetuate the sins of the past and the old errors of building up individual interest in competitive fuel industries. Competitive fuel industries should not be permitted because in a properly ordered society fuel production would be put to the greatest benefit of humanity, of the economy and of national progress.
– The Senate is discussing a Bill to approve financial help, for South Australia in the construction of a pipeline from GidgealpaMoomba to Adelaide. The project is to cost S35m, of which the Commonwealth will lend the South Australian Government $15m. The South Australian Government proposes to set up a semi-governmental body to construct and operate the pipeline. Under the terms of the agreement South Australia is to raise S20m. Approval to borrow this amount has been given at a recent meeting of the Australian Loan Council. It is rather interesting that we should be debating this matter at the present time because in this afternoon’s Press an announcement has been made that at Lakes Entrance in the Gippsland area a flow of gas of 4i million cubic feet per day has been struck. This discovery will mean that the State of Victoria is faced with a similar problem to that which is being faced by the State of South Australia at the present time.
The Senate yesterday discussed the matter of water conservation on a national scale, and honourable senators should apply their minds to this problem, in a similar manner. The discovery of oil and gas has meant a completely new era in the history of this country. For many years our experts have been searching throughout the country for oil. It seems as though the technique has suddenly reached the stage where many of the wells being put down at the present time are showing signs of either oil or gas, ranging from the far west of Western Australia, through the heart of Australia, in the Amadeus Basin, and in the Mereenie fields, where there are supplies of gas that could keep Australia going well into the future. There is this Gidgealpa - Moomba area in South Australia, and of course, with the assistance of modern rigs and drills, offshore gas fields have been discovered in great numbers, in the Gippsland area and the Bass Strait basin. Queensland also has been known to have natural gas for many years.
We have to view these developments in natural gas as something relatively new. There are problems which we will have to face up to. Enormous expense is involved in constructing pipelines. The problem of long range economics is involved. There is no shadow of doubt that this valuable commodity, containing such a vast wealth of by-products, must be exploited to the fullest. We cannot afford not to do so. In spite of Senator Scott’s views about the policy of the Australian Labor Party, it must come home to every thinking person that Australia is overdoing the matter of selling out its natural resources to overseas investors. Wherever there is an overseas enterprise involved in the search for and discovery of oil in Australia, whether or not there is an Australian content in that enterprise, before the news of a strike reaches the general public there are moves and counter-moves, farm-outs and farm-ins, and all the other technical manoeuvres used in the rat race that goes on in the United States of America over oil. We have seen the setting up of the various little sheikdoms and other principalities in the Middle East where oil has been discovered and monopolised. Wars have been fought over these areas and are still being fought.
Apparently we are to go through the same process in Australia, where private enterprise has come into this field not for the good of the country but to exploit discoveries to its own ultimate benefit. When overseas investors enter the field in Australia the solace is offered to the Australian citizen that Australia is getting a certain benefit out of this development in the form of royalties and other concessions, and that employment is being created. But the profits on oil finds are tremendous, and wherever oil is discovered the profits, flow into the international pool, so to speak. The finger of the great international oil combines is well and truly placed on the control of oil.
This all boils down to the very important question of whether Australia should allow oil to fall entirely into the hands of overseas people, or whether a country such as this should not be able to borrow sufficient money to have a big interest in these oil finds. The companies involved in the strike off the Gippsland coast are set out in a newspaper article. The strike has been made 2i miles off the Ninety Mile Beach east of Seaspray, which is much closer to the mainland than the Barracouta and Martin fields discovered by the ESSO-BHP partnership. The company which made the strike is Woodside (Lakes Entrance) Oil Company. The newspaper report states:
Woodside has a 40% interest in the well. British-based Burmah Oil and US-based Continental Oil each have a 20% interest. Australian oil prospectors, Australian Oil and Gas Corporation and Planet Oil each have a 10% share.’ Burmah is the off-shore operator for the group.
That illustrates the point I am making. The article I am quoting appeared in today’s issue of the Melbourne ‘Herald’. This illustrates the problem of developing our natural gas and oil resources. Exploitation of oil, is one matter that should be faced up to on a national level because co-ordination between all the States is of great importance. Long discussions have taken place between the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Hoi’) and the Premier of Victoria over oil rights in that State. I will now refer lo a statement made in the Senate cm i Rt h May 1967 by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy). Referring to the continental shelf areas that extend beyond the territorial water limits to a depth of 200 metres, he said:
The sovereign rights of Australia over the sea bed and subsoil of the continental shelf were proclaimed in the ‘Gazette’ by Sic Robert Menzies, former Prime Minister, on Mill September 1953, and further confirmed by Australia’s joining us a party to the United Nations ‘Convention on the Continental Shell” on -9th April 1958: . . For some years there have been repeated conference5 of federal and State Attorneys-General, the Minister for National Development, and Slate Ministers for Mines’ nil the legal problems of petroleum exploitation with the stated purpose of evolving’ a common iiation.il code. Such a code has not yet been created. The statements made following the recent Sydney conference are merely ‘culling tip the turkey!’. Since the discovery of the Gippsland Shelf resources the Victorian State Premier has been actively engaged in negotiations with the Esso-B.TI.P. (Haematite) Group on the supply of natural gas to Victoria and its pricing. A framework of Victorian legislation has emerged which has obviously been created in collusion with the Federal Government, to be used as a pattern for development and control of natural gas in other States.
This is a most important matter and it has a close association with the development of gas in South Australia. It means that before the South Australian pipeline has been constructed and before the South Australians have had the opportunity to exploit the discovery of gas in that Stale, the price has already been established on a different level in a different State because of self interest. Senator Murphy’s statement continued: ,
Despite the obvious competence and experience of the Victorian Fuel and Gas Corporation, Sir Henry Bolte induced the Victorian Parliament lo enact the Victorian Pipelines Commission ‘Act of 1966. This Act established a separate pipelines Commission to act as a common carrier of ‘natural gas only - defined as ‘hydrocarbons in a gaseous state’. The Commission has powers to operate and maintain pipelines, and to buy and sell . hydrocarbons.
The price negotiations mentioned were conducted by Sir Henry Bolte on behalf of the Victorian 1’ipclines Commission, which in turn, will sell the gus to the Victorian Gas and Fuel Corporation. The Gas and Fuel Corporation has been strongly opposed to the pricing arrangements. Having settled the question of the sale of natural gas through this means Sir Henry Bolte broke new ground by enacting a Pipelines Act of 1966, excluding, from its terms any pipeline owned or to be established by the Victorian Pipelines Commission. In this Act hydrocarbons are defined as a compound of hydrogen and carbon in a solid, liquid, or gaseous state’. Permits from the Minister for Forests are to be obtained for pipelines to traverse Crown land, and from the Minister for Fuel and Power or other appropriate Minister at his discretion in respect of crossing private property.
Natural gas is not only used for heating purposes. Major derivatives can be obtained from it; chemical products such as nitro.geneous fertilisers, carbon black, carbon tetrachloride and, most importantly, the versatile chemical building block ethylene.
The end products from these cover the major fields of plastics, synthetic rubber, textile fibres, explosives, solvents, paints and detergents. In considering the proportion of the national fuel and energy market likely to be captured by natural gas we find that the United States of America after over a generation of sales and development now supplies 30% to 35% of total energy requirements to 36 million consumers through pipelines and mains over 740,000 miles in length.
I have read that extract from Senator Murphy’s speech in an effort to impress upon the Senate the magnitude of the proposal we are discussing today. Similar legislation will come before the Parliament from time to time to ratify agreements for the construction of pipelines, to grant permission to the States to raise loans, and to provide for other matters such as co-ordination.
Senator Scott referred to the long range policy of the Australian Labor Party in relation to interstate pipelines. The principle enunciated in Labor’s policy has already been adopted in the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme. Power generated by the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority is supplied to the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and Victoria, and if necessary it can be fed into the grid in South Australia. The great value of a central generating scheme such as the Snowy Mountains scheme is that it can be us-ed in time of peak loading. Each State has its own particular method of generating electric power; some use brown coal, others black coal, and yet others hydro-electric schemes. Hydro-electric systems have an advantage over thermal power stations in that they avoid the wastage of time and energy in building up to load peaks. Water only needs to be directed through the turbines in order to start generating electricity and the supply can be stopped or stepped down immediately by reducing or cutting off the flow of water. I repeat that the same basic principle operates in conveying gas by interstate pipelines as obtains in feeding electricity into the various State grids. lt might be more economic to feed gas into western Victoria from the GidgealpaMoomba field than to feed it in from other Victorian areas. Of course, the Victorian sources of supply are much more developed, and it is only natural that the bigger industries will gravitate to areas where power is available. There will naturally be a great demand for gas in New South Wales, but so far that State has not had the good fortune to find natural gas within its own boundaries. This is a matter that overrides State boundaries. When national matters of this kind are involved State boundaries are only lines drawn on the map. We must take the view that we all are part of a great nation, t’hat the States are members of this great family and that the wealth that exists in one State should be shared with another State for the common good. It is with this thought in mind that the Labor Party has put forward the idea that natural gas should be conveyed interstate by means of pipelines of uniform diameter.
We welcome this opportunity to congratulate the South Australian Government upon its initiative in making early use of this wonderful new discovery. The completion of this project will bring greater wealth to that State; it will encourage the establishment of more industries. Already many heavy industries have been established in South Australia, but those industries will now have available to them an alternative fuel to that which is now being provided from existing coal supplies and which is of a very poor thermal unit value. To set South Australia on the path to developing these natural gas fields has been a very pleasurable experience for members of the Senate.
I hope that some benefit will be derived from the points of view that have been put forward iri this place and that the Government will take note of the great advantages that may be gained from co-ordinating the development of such important national assets, ft is a great pity that these dramatic things - the discovery of natural gas, oil, vast resources of iron ore and one of the largest known deposits of bauxite - should be occurring at a time when we are involved in the wastefulness and stupidity of a war in Vietnam which could have been avoided. The development of our national assets calls for the expenditure of a tremendous amount of capital. Such projects need the spirit of the whole nation behind them. Unfortunately it seems to be a quirk of fate for the wrong government to be in office at such a time. Evidently we were destined to find such great resources within this country, but at a time when we are discovering them we are pouring thousands of millions of dollars into the waging of a wasteful war that can only bring suffering to mankind.
Let us hope that South Australia will bc able to obtain the full benefit from the exploitation of her resources of natural gas. Let us hope too that those who are responsible for the war in Vietnam will try to end it. If it develops into a thermonuclear war - we are on the verge of war with China - none of us will enjoy the benefits that are to be derived from the use of natural gas. Such matters give us food for thought. I hope that this era on which we are entering and which has been opened up by the discovery and exploitation of natural gas will be enjoyed by the people of Australia. I wish the South Australian Government well as it develops this project.
– I thank the Senate for ils reception of the Bill. I have listened to the debate with a great deal of interest. Honourable senators ranged over many subjects except the benefits that will accrue to South Australia from the discovery of natural gas. South Australia is very short of natural resources. She has no substantial reserves of coking coal, and the reserves she has are a long way from manufacturing industries. She is also short of water, as was mentioned yesterday during the debate on the Chowilla Dam. The construction of the gas pipeline will bring great benefits to South Australia. That is why the Commonwealth Government is pleased to be able to provide bridging finance of some $15m to establish the pipeline which will rim from Gidgealpa to Adelaide.
Senator Davidson appeared to be worried about the size of the pipeline and the economics of the proposition. I can understand his worry because only yesterday we learned that the South Australian authorities were so far out in their estimating that the cost of one project had risen from S28m to §70in. Fortunately, the proposal before the Senate has been investigated by one of the most experienced and efficient organisations in the world, so we have no worries on that score. lt is estimated that over the next 20 years 1,750 billion cubic feet of gas will be needed and that in the following period of 20 years the demand will double to some 3,500 billion cubic feet. There are enormous reserves of natural gas in the area, in fact I believe that it is one of the biggest gas fields in Australia. The proposal before the Senate will be of tremendous benefit to the development of South Australia^ It is interesting to note that the Santos-Frome organisation, which was very early in the field of oil exploration in Australia, was under the chairmanship of Mr Bonython who comes from a very old South Australian Scottish family.
Senator Ormonde was worried about the price of the gas. If he reads the document prepared by the South Australian Parliament relating to the provision of finance for the construction of a natural gas pipeline in South Australia he will see that’ pricing arrangements have been covered and that the State Government has recognised that the ceiling price of natural gas to consumers must be comparable to the price of alternate fuels. Senator Ormonde commented that if South Australia had. to rely on private enterprise it would not have obtained this pipeline. Let me say quite frankly that’ if South Australia had npt relied on private enterprise the oil or gas would never have been discovered. The discovery of oil and gas fields and the tremendous benefits which have flowed to mankind from their development have been the result of the activities of energetic private enterprise. It is good to see these enormous resources of natural gas in Central Australia being developed.
There are of course other areas in which gas has been discovered. One of the most exciting for Victoria is in Bass Strait off the Gippsland coast, lt will be necessary to construct only a very short pipeline to convey (his gas to the vast metropolis of Melbourne. This will make a tremendous difference to manufacturing industries in the area. The discovery of these resources in Bass Strait led me to feel that Labor’s proposal to run a pipeline from Gidgealpa in South Australia to Melbourne failed to take account of the fact that there will be competition from alternate fuels. The Labor Party hates competition but this aspect must be kept in mind. As further discoveries are made, competition to supply this commodity to the great manufacturing centres of Australia will become keener.
In concluding his second reading speech on 16th August last Senator Anderson said:
The Commonwealth Government is happy lo be able to provide South Australia with the assistance necessary to allow this project to go forward without delay. We accept the State’s views as to its technical soundness and as to the contribution it is expected to make to the development of the State’s economy generally.
He commended the Bill to the Senate and I now thank the Senate for its reception.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 22 August (vide page 130), on motion by Senator Gorton:
That the Bill bc now read a second time.
– This Bill relates to persons who are sentenced to imprisonment for offences against the laws of the Commonwealth. It provides for the court to fix a minimum term of imprisonment which must be served by a prisoner before he is eligible for release on parole. It provides also a system for the release on parole of such prisoners. Some States have laws which provide for the fixing of minimum terms of imprisonment. Western Australia and New South Wales differ in this regard. For instance, in Western Australia’ a court is required to fix a minimum term if the sentence is not less than one year. If the sentence is less than one year the court may fix a minimum term. The provisions in New South Wales are similar to those except that the court may not fix a minimum term’ of less than six months imprisonment.
The essence of the legislation is the provision that after a prisoner has served the minimum term the decision relating to his release rests with a parole board. If released on parole he is to be the subject of supervision by a parole officer. The measure also provides that the law in force in a State with regard to the fixation of a minimum term of imprisonment is to be applied by State and Federal courts to a prisoner who is convicted in a State for an offence against Commonwealth law. The Bill generally expresses a policy that a person who is being sentenced to imprisonment for an offence against the law of the Commonwealth should be treated in the same way as if he were being sentenced for an offence against the law of the. State or Territory in which the trial takes place.
The Bill provides for two exceptions to the general policy, one of which allows a State court in certain circumstances to fix one minimum term of imprisonment in respect of aggregate terms of imprisonment for offences against Commonwealth laws. The second exception relates to the order in which, a prisoner is to serve a number of terms of imprisonment. Provision is included for a parole order to be made by the Governor-General and is to be subject to such conditions as are specified in the order, including the condition that the person is to be subject to the supervision of a parole officer. The procedures to be followed in the event of a person failing to comply with the provisions of a parole order are set out in some detail. They are quite intricate. Provision is also made for a Governor-General to revoke a parole order, and the procedures for cancelling a parole order if one of its conditions is broken are outlined. A
The Bill places beyond doubt the validity of the practice that has been followed in the past of granting the same remissions of sentence for good conduct to a Federal offender serving his sentence in a State prison as would be granted to him if he were serving a sentence for an offence against a law of the ‘State in which he is imprisoned. The legislation does not affect the exercise of the royal prerogative of mercy. The provisions regarding Commonwealth prisoners seem to be streamlined and brought into line with present day attitudes to prisoners. In that respect it is quite a commendable measure. We do not oppose it. We believe that a person who has offended against the law should be reminded that he has transgressed and must pay his debt to society, but we also believe that he should be given an opportunity to rehabilitate himself and become again a useful member of the community. If parole is granted under circumstances which are too simple or leave room for advantage to bc taken of the ease with which parole is obtained, the desired effect is not achieved. Safeguards are incorporated in this measure to ensure that a person who is released on parole is under supervision and guidance, and that every effort will be made to see that he remains within the law. The Opposition has no objection to the passage of this Bill and it is commended by my colleagues on this side of the chamber.
Senator LAUGHT (South Australia) [5.25J - I wish to make only a short contribution to the debate. I express my pleasure that the Commonwealth is following modern trends at present in force in Western Australia. Victoria and New South Wales wilh regard to the minimum term that a prisoner has to serve, and the institution of a parole system for the remainder of the term of the sentence. As a Federal senator 1 wish to acknowledge the assistance ever since Federation of the State judicial system and the State system of prisons. As honourable senators will appreciate, when the Commonwealth was formed it was not contemplated that there would be Commonwealth courts to try Commonwealth offenders and a group of Commonwealth prisons in which to incarcerate people awarded terms of imprisonment. So for almost seventy years the States have assisted the Commonwealth greatly in the provision of their judicial systems and their systems of prisons.
I wish to acknowledge that some very fine work has been done over the years by State Attorneys-General. I also wish to acknowledge the importance of the conferences that take place regularly now between the Commonwealth AttorneyGeneral and the State Attorneys-General.
I can see in this Bill traces of the. benefits from the results of such conferences. Of course, the matter that sparked off this legislation was no doubt the decision of the Full Court of Victoria that the Victorian provisions relating to minimum sentences do not apply to Commonwealth offenders. Obviously the Commonwealth, realising the importance of that decision and the great benefits to be obtained from minimum sentences and the consequent granting of parole, has seen fit to bring forward this legislation. As you will appreciate, Mr President, such legislation will enable a court to. make a judgment as to the period that in the public interest a prisoner should be required to serve before becoming eligible for release under supervision.
This measure also provides an incentive to a prisoner to make a positive effort to rehabilitate himself and become a useful member of society. In addition, the submission of a prisoner to supervision after his release is designed to assist in his social rehabilitation and to provide at the same time a proper measure of protection to the community. By the introduction of this Bill, following the rejection by the Full Court of Victoria of the earlier practice, we are now able to make it possible for persons who have been found guilty of offences against Commonwealth law to receive the benefits of a minimum term of imprisonment and release on parole.
I appreciate very much the preparation of the Bill and the way it has been accepted by the Senate. 1 think it does a great deal for the legal system of Australia in relation to offences against Commonwealth jaws. As one moves around, one appreciates that possibly 90% of offences in Australia are against State laws such as traffic laws and laws relating to stealing, or are offences against the person, and possibly not more than 10% of offences are against Commonwealth laws. But the percentage is growing. Possibly it will be 70-30 before very long. Then it may be 50-50. The tendency has been for the present Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) to look in the direction of the establishment of Commonwealth courts. I hope that he will very shortly introduce precise legislation with regard to the establishment of Commonwealth courts. Then, of course, a precise system of legislation relating to Commonwealth offences and prisons will have to be passed. In the meantime, I believe, this is a salutary Bill and 1 am glad that it is receiving the support of the Opposition.
– As Senator O’Byrne has indicated, the Opposition supports the Bill. I did not propose to speak on it but I find that this would bc an opportune time for me to make some contribution by indicating that, having got free of the processes of the law including imprisonment, a prisoner on parole must be given some assistance. The period when a prisoner is put on parole is a vital time in the serving of a sentence. It is opportune at this time for me, perhaps, to publicise the fact that this weekend in Canberra the Australian Prison After Care Council will be holding its Fourth National Conference. The patrons of the Council are the Right Honourable Sir Garfield Barwick, G.C.M.G., and the Right Honourable Sir Owen Dixon, G.C.M.G., O.M. The other office bearers are: President: The Honourable Mr Justice J. H. Mcclemens, New South Wales. Vice-Presidents: Mrs G. N. Frost, C.B.E., Victoria, and Mr C. R. Bevan, Queensland. Secretary: Mr F. D. Hayes, New South Wales. Assistant Secretary: Mrs H. M. North, New South Wales. Treasurer: Mr R. D. Johnson, New South Wales. Committee: Mr J. G. Mackay, Tasmania; Mr C. A. Gannaway, Western Australia; Mr R. G. Ince, Victoria; Mr G. Mathieson, South Australia; Mr S. Kerr, Queensland. lt is proposed that the conference should open on Friday of this week, 25th August, and conclude on Friday, 1st September 1 967. There will be day and night seminars and public talks. The subject of the proramme is ‘Crime Prevention - a Community Problem’ and it is intended to examine the nature and scope of citizen participation in this field, especially in the sphere of after care, where useful cooperation between government and voluntary organisations can do much to assist in rehabilitation and the prevention of crime. At the present time, Mr Austin Williams, an English authority in this field, is in Australia. Also, some people from America will attend the conference. I have had the benefit of hearing an address by
Mr Williams on the after care of prisoners. Recently he was in Tasmania, where he had a look around the Risdon gaol and the prison farm, as well as the mental institution at New Norfolk which caters for certain prisoners. We were very happy to learn that the main purpose of his coming to Australia was to establish hostels for the rehabilitation of prisoners on parole. He was able to point to successes that have been achieved in England, where he is engaged full time in this work. He is a young man, full of energy, with a specialised knowledge of what is necessary.
We in Tasmania have, in some degree, problems in relation to after care. I should like to pay a tribute to the Tasmanian probation service and to organisations that engage in after care and rehabilitation of prisoners. These include the . Prisoners’ Aid Society, which is financed, up to a point, by Government contributions; I think the yearly contribution is $300. We have also the Salvation Army, the City Mission, and other church organisations which are interested in this work. Some few years ago a combined committee was established to deal with charitable causes generally. The organisation to which I belong - I am Chairman of the Gaol Visitation Committee - saw fit to seek co-operation in the matter of people needing after care upon discharge from prison, particularly when on parole. The arrangement is working out very, very well. We had a visit from two Salvation Army brigadiers - one from Victoria and the other from Tasmania - some years ago. They were concerned about hostels for prisoners. They had heard that the Society of St Vincent de Paul had some accommodation. This is true in itself but the accommodation is only on an overnight basis or perhaps for a week or a fortnight. There is not a rehabilitation centre.
The organisation concerned has established an investigation committee lo see what opportunities are available for setting up a hostel for after care purposes. Our problem in Tasmania is minor compared with the problems of larger slates, but still the problem is there. It is our ambition to establish a hostel with a capacity in the early stages of, I think, about ten parsons. On the known records down the years that number would be sufficient in Tasmania for the time being. Let us hope that it will be sufficient for all time. There is a very pressing need for such a hostel. I have had experience with gaol work down the last 20 years. The probation service, the Prisoners Aid Society and the other bodies have combined 100% to help in this work. Wc have had very satisfactory results. It is pleasing to note that so many people are interested in after care. I had not realised that their numbers were so great. As a matter of fact, I had not become so intimately associated with this Australiawide Prison After Care Council until I heard Mr Williams speak. He was able to enlighten us in Tasmania. All of us, with the possible exception of Mr Mackay, of the probation service, and of probation officers generally, were able to gain considerable knowledge as a result of his visit.
We support the Bill, which provides a system for the release on parole of persons imprisoned for offences against laws of the Commonwealth. It assists very materially to know that at this very time machinery is being put in motion here in Australia for a Commonwealth conference and that there are ‘people well able to guide us who have worked in this field down the years. Although often we may have been stumbling along-, by trial and error we have been able to do something. We have achieved a marked success. I have not in my mind the numbers of persons with whom we have been concerned but down all of those years we have had considerable success in after care without having had recourse to a hostel in which we could have had an officer to care for these people. The provisions of the Bill should provide a great improvement and we lend our support to it. I trust that as a result of this measure we will see much better results in the after-care of prisoners as they are released from gaol from time to time.
– It is a matter of great satisfaction to hear an honourable senator with the quality of humanitarian sympathy of Senator Lacey refer to the work that he is doing for the after-care of prisoners. It was also a matter of great satisfaction to hear the speech made by you, Mr Acting Deputy President, before you took the chair, with regard to the timeliness and the beneficial effect of this Bill. The Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) is to be congratulated on having brought before the Commonwealth Parliament a Bill to remedy the Victorian decision in 1965 that some State legislation which provided that a term of imprisonment might be suspended after a minimum fixed term had been served and the prisoner released on parole did not apply to Commonwealth offences.
I rose to speak on this measure not only because of the pleasure I get from hearing the contributions that have been made and from reading the Bill but also to remind the Senate that when we are dealing wilh the liberty of the subject, the liberty of a man who has been convicted of a Crime, we do not leave it to a judicial tribunal to decide in its discretion what it should do to the prisoner. When the law lays down fixed penalties it does so for the protection of the prisoner as well as to enable enforcement of the law. The prisoner definitely knows the degree to which his liberty has been forfeited. For this reason there has been the great underlying principle that even a judicial tribunal has not an unlimited discretion as to the extent to which liberty is to be forfeited upon conviction. For many years under state legislation and also under section 29 of the Crimes Act it has been permissible for a tribunal which has convicted an offender for a crime to release him on a bond.
The Probation Offenders Act of Tasmania, to which I. refer as an illustration, provides that if by reason of the health, character, antecedents, age, mental, condition or other extenuating circumstances of a person convicted, the court, in its discretion, believes it proper, instead of. going to a conviction it may dismiss a complaint and put the person on a recognisance to come up for sentence. Further, it may stipulate conditions for that bond. It-has always been recognised that in stipulating the extent of those conditions too much indefiniteness can creep in because of the extent to which a person subject to a bond may be placed under the authoritarian control of an official as distinct from a court. For this reason the legislation provides that if a condition of the bond has been broken it is not the parole officer, the governor of the gaol or the State Governor who can say: Your bond is broken; now you shall serve such-and such a term of imprisonment.* A person who commits a breach of a condition of the recognisance comes before a court which decides what is an appropriate punishment in those circumstances.
At the committee stage I propose to refer to one or two clauses of the Bill which seem to me not to give full recognition to that principle. J feel that the terms of the Bill are quite satisfactory so far as I have studied them. However, I want to state that principle so that we shall not let it go unobserved. In this instance we are not dealing with a case to which the Probation Offenders Act or section 20 of the Crimes Act apply and in which the court, having convicted the offender, releases him on a bond without imposing any term of imprisonment; we are dealing with the case where the court, in its discretion, thinks a person should serve a term of imprisonment but should be given the benefit of parole after having served some term.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– The Bill that we are discussing applies to Commonwealth prisoners some of the beneficial provisions of three State laws that enable a court, in imposing punishment on a prisoner, to impose a minimum term of imprisonment and then offer him a period of parole in the hope that, instead of being incarcerated, he will have a better chance to re-establish himself while on parole. Before the dinner suspension I said that the introduction of this Bill brought forth congratulations from me to the Attorney-General. I said that it introduced a principle that some State laws had applied, not at an intermediate stage in a term of imprisonment, but as an alternative to imprisonment for people who are called first offenders or probationary offenders.
One aspect of this matter deserves vigilance. It is that after serving a minimum term of imprisonment a person may have a period on parole, and the parole order is issued subject to certain conditions that are specified in the order. A case in -the High Court of Australia illustrates very graphically, to my way of thinking, the need to be careful about an unlimited power to impose conditions. In the case of Isaacs v. McKinnon in 1949 a court, instead of imposing punishment for two bankruptcy offences, imposed in a bond or recognisance a condition that a bankrupt should pay a minimum sum of money for the benefit of his creditors over a period of five years. No less an authority than Mr Justice Dixon, as he then was, in a dissenting judgment, but one that excites from me the greatest respect, said:
The words ‘such conditions as the court thinks fit to impose’ are very wide but they do not authorise the imposition of conditions which arc repugnant to the principles or policy of the law or are foreign to the purpose of the power.
He quoted, I think with approval, the following words of Lord Mansfield, when considering the earnings of a bankrupt:
For what is to become of. the bankrupt if he cannot earn a maintenance by his daily labour?
Those sentiments and principles can be applied thoughtfully to the case of the prisoner upon whom conditions arc to be imposed. I saw fit to refer to that fact not because I am expecting abuse of this power but because, in relation to parole orders under this legislation, the Governor-General may at any time, by order in writing, amend a parole order by varying or revoking a condition and imposing additional conditions; whereas, under State legislation and under section 20 of the Crimes Act, in the event of non-compliance with conditions, jurisdiction is given to the court to vary the order. This involves a principle that requires quite careful examination. I do not propose to say any more on that subject tonight. I merely state the proposition.
The. only other remark that I wish to make is that, whereas this Bill does good in assimilating State provisions to Federal provisions, I abide with the thought that in this Commonwealth we will do well not to diverge Commonwealth and State jurisdictions in the administration of law; rather should we use this field for the unification of Commonwealth and State jurisdictions. I mention that with particular appositeness to what Senator Laught said this afternoon. He said that this Bill may be the forerunner of the Commonwealth’s creation of a separate set of courts and a separate system of law enforcement. I support the Bill.
– in. reply - I express appreciation of the way in which this Bill has been received by both sides of the Senate. I do not wish to add anything. The principles of the Bill have received general approbation. Senator Wright has raised some matters of which, no doubt, we will hear more at the Committee stage. There appears to be no objection to the Bill in principle. Indeed, there appears to be general approbation for it. I express appreciation of that.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and committed pro forma; progress reported.
Debate resumed from 15 August (vide page 16). on motion by Senator Henty:
That the Senate take note of the following papers:
Civil Works Programme 1967-68;
Commonwealth Payments to or for the States, 1967-68;
Estimates of Receipts and Summary of Estimated Expenditure, for year ending 30 June 1968;
Particulars of Proposed Expenditure for the service of the year ending 30 June 1968;
Particulars of Proposed Provision for Certain Expenditure in respect of the year ending 30 June 1968;
Government Securities on Issue at 30 June 1967; Commonwealth Income Tax Statistics, for income year 1964-65; National Income and Expenditure 1966-67.
– I move:
This Budget disposes of$6,500m from revenue of $5,900m and loans of $600m. The keynote of it is that the private investor is preferred to the public welfare. The Treasurer (Mr McMahon) said in his Budget Speech:
The allocation of resources between the public and private sectors was the crucial question we faced when framing the Budget.
The Treasurer’s answer to this question was unambiguous. It was that consumer spending was not to be restrained and that private capital expenditure was not to be depressed even where it did not ‘pass the test of high national priority’. Those were; the Treasurer’s own words. Translating that statement, there was to be an opengo for private investment even if it was not for the welfare of Australia. Incredibly, public spending - current and capital - was to be held back even, it seems, where it did pass the test of high national priority.
What does this mean? It means that money will not be made available to finance many activities beneficial to the public. Why is that? So that private corporations and persons with access to capital and finance may carry on and enlarge and extend their business activities whether in thepublic interest or not. It means that there will be insufficient money for education, health, water, sewerage, housing, power, transport and communications. For the States it means a lack of proper finance to carry out their essential functions on behalf of the people. Whatever their political outlook, alt State governments are agreed that the Holt Government is denying them the moneys necessary for building roads, dams and other public works; for schools, hospitals and facilities to operate them; and for all the responsibilities of the States. The Commonwealth continues to treat the States as if they were foreign countries and, as if the people of the States were foreigners. Local government will continue to be denied Federal money for essential works and services.
The Government speaks of allocation of resources. But who owns them? More and more our national resources - whether they be natural resources or whether they be our primary and secondary industries - are not owned by the Australian public; they are owned not by Australians individually but by foreign corporations. The aluminium corporation owns a large share of the Australian aluminium resources.
– All over Australia.
– Yes. We talk of our industries. Who owns the oil industry, the motor vehicle industry, the chemical industry, the pharmaceutical industry, and the painting industry? Foreign companies own them. One could go on for hours. More and more our country is becoming an economic colony. Our resources and our, industries are being passed into foreign hands.
The Government is doing nothing to reverse or even to halt this trend. It is content to leave our resources and our industries in foreign hands forever.
Public money is used in national development. The profits pass to foreign corporations. The Government, by this Budget, is encouraging more takeovers of Australian industries. No wonder there is no capital for national development. How can Australians acquire capital if our resources and our industries are in the hands of foreign corporations? If the great profits from our mineral wealth and our industries go to foreign interests, naturally it is they who acquire the capital. We have to turn to them for finance. They provide this by acquiring more of our resources and more of our industries. The position must get worse, and it is getting worse. The Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) and his Ministers no longer govern; they only serve the interests of the great corporations which control this country. The Budget is plainly designed to serve those great corporations.
– The Treasurer (Mr McMahon) calls this a businessman’s Budget. It is a rich businessman’s Budget. Above all it is a Budget for the foreign investor. The subservience of the Government to the great corporations is shown by the neglect to bring into operation restrictive practice laws. I do not hear the honourable senator saying ‘Rubbish’ now.
A watered down version of the Barwick proposals was passed by this Parliament in 1965, but those outside interests which control the Government have succeeded in preventing the laws from coming into operation. It is agreed on all sides that these practices inflate prices, force persons out of business and injure the community in a hundred ways. The prices of materials and services for bodies - Federal. State and local - are forced up. It is well known that local councils especially are robbed by collusive tendering for the supply of electrical machinery, petrol, oil and other goods. When government bodies are robbed there is no hope for the people. Laws against these practices have existed in other countries for many years; in Canada and the United States of America for over seventy years. Almost every industrialised country has some form of control over restrictive practices, and it is in the public interest that there be effective control. But in Australia insidious forces of big business delayed the passage of the law for years, until 1965, and have now delayed its being brought into force; it is not yet in force. These wrongful practices, productive of inflation and causing inefficiency in industry, flourish to the public detriment because the Government connives at their continuance. I notice that no honourable senator opposite raises his voice against what I am saying, because everybody knows that this is the truth.
In national development the Government has abandoned responsibilities. Development is now to be determined not by the Government but by private persons such as the directors of foreign corporations and insurance companies. National development is the duty of the national government; it should plan, initiate, participate and guide the development. The Budget should provide for action within the framework of long range objectives and target, programmes for migration; networks of roads, railways and airways; seaports, including container ports; water and power projects. Target programmes should be aimed at specific parts of these objectives. This requires the establishment of priorities for public works and services; it requires that the allocation of resources shall be for purposes which do most to assist our development and create a prosperous economy. In this the Budget has failed. The Treasurer has turned his back on national development. He has honestly admitted that the Budget is designed to encourage private capital expenditure even where it did not pass the test of high national priority. Public spending is to be restrained even where it does pass the test. The Treasurer is to be commended for his honest admission that he is committing a tragic blunder.
Mr Deputy President, we need to develop this continent and develop it quickly. We cannot afford to allow its development to be haphazard, depending on the whims of private investors. The Government has the responsibility for development. It has the resources in the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the Department of National Development, the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority and other bodies. The agencies of the
States are anxious to assist. The people are clamouring for national development. The only element lacking is the will in the Federal Government.
Australia still has no consistent national water policy. Chowilla, the Ord and all the developmental schemes are in doubt. If only the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority were fully utilised Australia could break the back of its great water shortage. What excuse is there in 1967 for this country still to be without consistent national policies for the development of our natural resources? Surely the time has come when we should have a consistent national water policy. The role and policies of the Federal Government should be found within the framework of such a policy so that the States and the local governments would know where they stood, and so that private persons could proceed upon the basis of some consistent national policy. What applies to water should apply to the development of our other resources. It should apply to afforestation and to every other aspect of the national life. The Federal Government has a duty to state its role and its policies. Otherwise, how can the States properly’ manage their affairs, how can local governments manage their affairs and how can private persons properly plan?
It is fair to say that there is a substantial increase in Commonwealth moneys allocated for education, but that is not enough when the needs of education are appreciated. If -the responsible educators and State governments are correct there is a crisis in education. Signs of this are obvious - apparently to everyone but the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton) who is a member of this chamber. There is a shortage of schools, inadequate scholarships, quotas on entry to universities and a cut-back in post graduate research. There are not enough teachers.
In the international setting, our failings in education are omnious. Japan has become the dominant power in the Pacific. For better or worse we have become caught up in Japan’s peaceful establishment of the new version of the greater South East Asia co-prosperity sphere. Japan has emerged as the third world power. This is largely due to its emphasis on education. Seventy per cent of Japanese children complete secondary school but only about 40% of ours do so. At all levels, technical and tertiary, Japanese citizens are being better educated than ours. This the reason why they outstrip us in technology and trade. Our greatest wealth is our people yet much Australian talent is wasted because of inadequate education. As the Treasurer said, the States have the main responsibility for education; but the truth is that the Commonwealth is starving the States bf the money to carry out that responsibility. This Budget ensures that the crisis in education will continue.
For defence, there is an increased vote by 18%, to $1,1 18m currently. This vast sum is $700m more than the amount allocated to defence five years ago. In the western world we are now devoting more of our resources per head to the military vote than all countries other than the United Kindom, the United States of America and France.
– Is this a good thing or a bad thing?
– Is it any wonder when our military expenditure is characterised by waste and maladministration? The answer to Senator McKellar’s interjection is that it is a bad thing. The Government has brought us into a situation where the cost of the Fill aircraft has been doubled. We are being loaded with over $10Om more than was expected in the first place. Why7 Because this Government failed to take the elementary precaution of obtaining a firm contract price. We are faced with a fantastic cost increase for the Fill, and this is not yet the end of this matter. The Government now admits that there is no limit to what we may have to pay for these aircraft. Worse still, experts are contending that the aircraft is not suitable for our purposes. The waste and maladministration in the Department of Defence are appalling. The AuditorGeneral’s revelations spoke of overpayment, of bad practices in the purchase of spare parts and computer complexes. All these things have led to soaring costs and money being thrown away because of poor administration.
This Government is so arrogant that the Minister now here, the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar), a member of this chamber, shows not the slightest concern about the waste of public money. The Government is so arrogant that it no longer cares what the people think. A Government which will dissipate $2 1.6m on VIP aircraft no longer has any concern for public money. That sum of $2 1.6m is raised from taxation revenue. It represents more than the total taxation paid by over half a million taxpayers who earn less than $1,000 per year. Compare this sum of money with the trifling contribution by me Commonwealth to research into heart disease, cancer or a dozen other worthwhile avenues.
I return to defence. The Government has failed to learn the lesson that in the modern world the security of any nation cannot be based on the acquisition of military equipment from other countries. Security depends on industrial strength and industrial strength is weakened when a country’s resources are over-committed in order to purchase military equipment from other countries. Indonesia is weak because it spends a large part of its budget on military equipment. Japan is strong because it spends very little in this way. This lesson has been learned by the UK.
– Do you advocate a reduction of defence expenditure?
– Large purchases of military equipment from overseas may increase our temporary military strength, but it reduces our military potential. Already this is retarding our national development and our industrial growth, and if continued it will inevitably impair our power and our capacity to defend ourselves. In answer to Senator Branson’s interjection, may I say that the lesson for any country to learn is that real power and real strength come from its own economy and its own industrial efficiency, based on a strong population. If money is to be spent on defence it is far better that much of it be spent in Australia on building up our industrial strength than in attempting to buy what is called military hardware from other countries. In the long term this country will become strong and will be able to defend itself if it builds up its population and its industrial strength. Anyone acquainted with the realities of power in a modern world will agree with this. We need to spend money on defence and we need to spend that money properly. We need to build up our own aircraft industry. If we are going to spend more money on defence we should do so in such a way as to build up our security and power permanently. This is the lesson for any country to learn. It is the lesson which, apparently, the Minister for Repatriation did not learn from one of his predecessors in this chamber.
The Government still tolerates the broken down national health scheme. Australia spends more per head on health than either the United Kingdom or New Zealand yet our service offers less security for our people. The latest available Government figures reveal that the cost of health services in Australia was $72 per head compared with $48 in the UK. Expenditure on health this year will be about $1,000m - almost as much as on defence. Yet the scheme is so bad that Australians are afraid to be sick because they cannot afford it. When the scheme began the intention was that only 10% of medical costs would fall on anyone insured with a fund. Now more than 30% of the cost has to be met by the patient. With increases in medical fees, this percentage will rise to some 40% or 50% .
– What is the Opposition’s solution?
– Clearly there is a need for an inquiry into hospital and medical costs. That is the answer. There is clearly a need for inquiry into the finance and administration of the medical and hospital funds. Yet in this Senate the Government is so fearful of such an inquiry that it will not have one. If Senator McKellar thinks that the Government is conducting itself well in this affair then he should welcome such an inquiry, particularly as the Opposition has not at any stage suggested that there should be a majority of Opposition senators on any such committee. But the Government is fearful of any such inquiry. Essential health services are beyond the reach of many people. A decent health service would provide properly - as ours does not - for the mentally and physically handicapped. It would also provide optical services, rehabilitation, physiotherapy, hearing aids and artificial limbs without charge, and a comprehensive outpatient and domicilary service.
There is no national dental scheme here as there is in the UK. It is significant that almost 600 Australian graduate dentists are now practising in the UK.
Mr President, there is no special provision in the Budget for the Aboriginal people, despite the resounding ‘Yes’ vote at the recent referendum. The Government still has a dream time indifference to the Aboriginal problem. The voice of the people was loud and clear- - Australia wants the Aboriginals to be given a fair go. Long ago, a Commonwealth Aboriginal affairs commission should have been established with i he primary duty of reporting to the Parliament on guide lines for action on Aboriginal affairs. Such a commission would have co-ordinated the considered viewpoints of Aboriginals, academies and State aboriginal boards. Its recommendations should have been projected into this Budget in the form of positive proposals to advance and uplift the Aboriginal people through special laws dealing with education, housing, health and employment. Instead the Aboriginals will be neglected for yet another year, their desperate needs will . not be met, and the conscience of our community- will continue to be troubled.
I come to social services. This country is extremely wealthy in ils natural resources and other advantages. But there is something radically wrong in its management when we cannot afford to pay decent social service benefits. Under this Budget the rich will prosper but the poor and needy, apart from a tiny few. will get practically nothing. Indeed, because of inflation the real value of their allowances is decreasing very day. The Government has no mercy, no compassion, for them. When one speaks of compassion and mercy for the poor, a Government senator laughs. That is what he thinks of the problems of the pensioners. The pensioners should realise that this Budget is not exceptional. It sets the pattern for their future treatment by the Holt Government. The Labor Party, at ils Adelaide Conference, resolved:
That in view of the rapid deterioration in value of current social services and financial allowances, Conference, demands, the provision of .adequate Government allowances for widows and children, aged and invalid pensioners, and the introduction of marriage allowances, motherhood endowment and provision for all children with - the objective of improving the status of family life and guaranteeing adequate incomes and conditions for all persons outside the work force and those not in regular employment.
The Conference also decided to explore the complete abolition of the means test within the life of two parliaments and it charged the Economic Planning Committee to cost and outline a working programme to achieve this end.
The Treasurer claims that there will be no tax increase under this Budget’. But every time wages are increased to keep up with the increased costs of living tax also increases, because the taxpayer moves on to a higher rale. So every year a higher percentage of wages goes in tax. In the last, four years although total tax has increased by 50% the pay as you earn lax has increased by 88%. This clearly proves that the burden falls on those who are least able to bear it. There is no need for the Treasurer to increase- the rate of’ taxation. Inflation- is doing this for him. it increases tax at a higher rate than that of inflation itself. The wage earner and the middle income earner suffer. Apart, from a meagre increase of $26 per yea;- in the deduction for a dependant, there is no tax remission for the people 1 have just mentioned. But the rich arc helped by a lax remission in the form of an increase! from $800 to $1,200 in the permissible deduction for insurance premiums. The payment of such premiums is beyond the capacity of the ordinary man. This increase will mean a saving of about $250 per year to the rich. Truly this is a. rich man’s Budget.
The Budget indicates that the Government intends to press on with its proposals to increase charges for postal, telegraphic and telephonic services. The Treasurer claims that these are not general taxation measures but that they are related tt> particular purposes. This win deceive no-ow. The charges proposed by the Government are a form of indirect taxation, equivalent to an increase of about 5% in personal income tax. They are grossly inflationary. They would affect not only individual. users but every section of industry and commerce. The costs would be passed on to every consumer. They would be a potent Source of price increases. The Labor movement is in a slate of unrest over rising prices at a time when wages are to be held down to August next year.
The Treasurer claims that the Post Office will be headed for a loss of more than $40m in this financial year if charges are not increased as proposed. The truth is that the Post Office is operating at a considerable profit. The loss of$40m is arrived at only after the Government juggles the accounts by charging itself $60m a year interest on the money used by the Post Office. That kind of juggling was condemned by Prime Minister Menzies in March 1959 when he said:
The proposition is that we charge ourselves interest, we throw into deficit a couple of great undertakings that we have referred to. and we then raise the wind in order to meet that deficit - because it all comes back on to us. Therefore charging ourselves interest is merely a complicated piece of bookkeeping and does not produce one pennyworth of financial results.
It is an affront to the people that the Government should proceed with these charges against a background of inefficiency on the part of the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme). The postal workers accuse him of inefficiency and of arrogance in industrial relations. The public experience is one of inefficiency. How can you expect efficiency from a department the head of which absented himself from Australia in June of this year when an industrial dispute was raging in the department and when the Senate was meeting to disallow the telephone regulations? While the Postmaster-General was away, Senator Anderson had to act as Postmaster-General and attempt to justify the miscarriages of his colleague. To give him credit, Senator Anderson made the best of an impossible task.
The Opposition in both Houses opposed these charges at every stage earlier this year. The postal and telegraphic charges were defeated in the Senate on 12th May. They were again defeated by the Senate on 19th May. The telephone increases were disallowed by the Senate on 20th June. Since then, at its Adelaide Conference, the Australian Labor Party adopted as part of its Federal platform this objective:
The severance of the Postmaster-General’s Department from the Public Service Board control and the Department to be controlled by a corporation.
Honourable senators may recall that Senator Gair attempted to raise this matter in the form of an urgency motion on 20th June. The Government now concedes that its Post
Office operations are not conducted in accordance with the best business practice. The Treasurer has said:
The Post Office is required to conduct its operations in accordance with the best business practice. The Government is convinced that this objective would be better served if the financial machinery of the Post Office were changed from the standard Treasury and departmental system to a commercial form more suited to business requirements. After a thorough study the Government has decided to create a Post Office trust account into which Post Office revenues will be paid and from which its expenditures will be met. The Department’s net requirements for capital purposes each year will be provided annually under one line appropriations from the Budget and paid to the trust account.
This admission that the Post Office is not conducted according to the best business practice is welcome, but in our view it shows the necessity for urgent and thorough investigation of the subject by a parliamentary committee. Therefore on behalf of the Opposition I have proposed that the Senate establish a select committee to inquire into and report to the Senate by 31st October 1967 on the desirability and practicability of severing the Post Office from Public Service Board control and of establishing a corporation to conduct the business of the Post Office.I believe that the Government would be well advised to join in the proposal to set up this committee.
The Treasurer has probably done the best he could within the scope of his Party’s bankrupt philosophy. Disregard for the pensioners, financing the defence vote at their expense, reluctance to deal with health, housing, migration and other problems, and the abandonment of national development to private corporations show that the Liberal policies are no longer relevant to our conditions and that those who administer them, however well meaning, are no longer fit to guide the destinies of this nation.
– I have listened with a great deal of interest to the speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) on the Budget and I must say at the outset that I am amazed at some of his statements. It horrifies me to think that a person of his calibre can stand up in this Senate and say to the people of Australia that national development has come to a standstill, that the whole of our national development is now in the hands of foreign companies and that the Australian people get nothing at all out of it.
I intend to reply to some of his accusations but first 1 shall turn to the closing stages of his speech when he referred to postal charges. This is a very interesting subject because the Labor Party, with the support of the Australian Democratic Labor Party, threw out the proposed increases in charges, and when the Government wanted to introduce the increases by way of regulation they called the Senate together so that they could throw out the regulations. The following day the Government said: We are insistent on this. We will bring it down in the Budget session.’ What has happened to the Labor Party?” Here is an excellent opportunity for it to throw out the charges proposed in the Budget, but what is it doing? What are the facts of the situation? Labor has crumbled. Opposition members are shaking at the knees. They are not game to proceed with their original proposals. If they are game, they still have an opportunity to throw out the Budget imposed. When the original legislation was introduced the Opposition knew, and we knew, that these increased charges would have to be imposed one way or the other but for a little cheap political propaganda Labor threw them out and then recalled the Senate to throw out the regulations.
The Leader of the Opposition said that we as a Government have sold out all of Australia’s natural resources to private investors.
– Overseas investors.
– That is right, overseas investors. He mentioned the oil industry, the motor vehicle industry, the chemicals industry, the pharmaceutical industry and the paint industry. What an amazing statement. Let us look at one or two of those industries. What have we done in relation to the oil industry in Australia? According to Senator Murphy we have sold it out to overseas investors. The honourable senator knows better than I do that private investment in the oil industry in Australia at this moment exceeds $300m. What have we received in return? The oil field at Moonie is producing some 10,000 barrels of oil a day and it is estimated that when the Barrow Island field comes to full production it will produce something over 20,000 barrels a day - this for an expenditure of over $300m.
How would Labor have encouraged investment in the oil industry in Australia? Over S300m of taxpayers’ money . would have been spent by a Socialist government in an endeavour to find oil in Australia. What would have been the result? There Would have been no oil. When the Labor Government was in office it tried to find oil. It bought a rig and for 3 years that rig was wrapped in greaseproof paper and stood at Corio in Victoria. There were no results.
Let me turn to the pharmaceutical and chemicals industries. Do honourable senators opposite, as honourable Labor men, honestly believe that we as a nation can develop the whole of our resources with the limited population and limited finances that we have? We have in Australia vast resources untapped and we as a Government encourage overseas investors to come to Australia to help us develop those resources.
– Who gets the rake-off?
– Did the honourable senator mention the Labor Party? Very well, we will, talk about the Labor Party. It recently had a conference at Adelaide. Attending that conference was <a Labor man from Victoria named Hartley. Hie was reported as saying what a shame it was that the whole of the iron ore industry in Australia was being developed by overseas interest and what a great thing it wo.uld be if it were owned by the Commonwealth so that the Government of Western Australia and other governments could re-invest the money in northern development.
– Sound logic to me.
– It may sound logic to the honourable senator, but let him say how a Labor government could develop the iron ore industry and make profits out of ii. The Labor Party is suggesting, and advocating to the people of Australia, that the Commonwealth should own the lot. li-ct us examine closely the iron ore industry. In Western Australia alone, when the Mount Newman project is developed, over $500m will have been invested in the industry. Labor is saying that if it were in office it would not allow this overseas capital to come into Australia. Instead, it would get the money from the taxpayers and endeavour to develop the industry itself. Then it would be confronted with the doubtful proposition that it could make a profit on the money it had invested. We as a Government have encouraged overseas capital to come into Australia to develop our iron ore industry. What has happened? Even before any profits are made the company concerned pays to the State government by way of royalty between 3i% and 10% of the f.o.b. value of the ore.
– The Government gets 6d a ton.
– The honourable senator knows so much about iron ore that he says that we get 6d a ton. Let me tell him that the price we get for iron ore exported from Australia varies between 3s 9d and 7s 6d a ton. The price falls to 6d a ton only when the ore is turned into pellets or beneficiated, as it is called. In that respect the honourable senator is right. If the company makes a profit the Commonwealth receives company tax at the rate of 421% or more. The company finds all the money; the company finds all the machinery that is necessary to mine the ore; the company builds the railway line from the iron ore deposits to the port; the company finds all the money to build the port and then, after having found all that money, it pays to the Commonwealth Government out nf its profits 42b% or more by way of company tax. So that when they are added - the royalties that are paid to the State Government, plus the company tax and payroll tax at 2-)% that are paid to the Commonwealth Government, taking no account at all of the income tax payable by the workers in the field - the Australian people receive in excess of 50% of the profits made from the export of iron ore from Australia.
– The honourable senator says rubbish. Let us look at some of the iron ore ventures in Western Australia. We have had at Wundowie - 40 miles from Perth - for a number of years a charcoal, iron ore. iron and steel industry, lt was run as a government enterprise for ten to fifteen years.
– lt has been given away.
– Senator Tangney says that it has been given away, but for every year that it was conducted by the State Government it showed a loss. We will examine some other enterprises that Australian governments have tried to run. I do not know of a government that has made a lot of money by setting up in industry in competition with overseas companies. For example, Chamberlain Industries Pty Ltd, tractor manufacturers, has run at a loss ever since it has been owned by the Western Australian Government.
– What about TransAustralia Airlines?
– When a Labor government set up TAA it did not Tun the airline at a profit. It was not until a responsible government came into office that TAA was run at a profit. Under a Labor government TAA lost between $4m and $5m a year. If my memory is correct, the shipping service conducted by a Labor government in its last year .in office before being thrown out lost over $12m.
– What has this to do with the- Budget?
– I will come back to the Budget and refer now to the appropriation for defence. This year it has risen to $1,1 18m, an increase of 18% over last year’s expenditure. This sum is to be spent in the defence of Australia because we believe that it is vitally necessary for our people.
– The Opposition says it is unnecessary.
– That is so. That is where the Government and the Labor Party differ completely on defence. If I remember correctly, at the Labor Party’s Conference in Adelaide recently it was decided that if Labor came to office it would not immediately withdraw national servicemen from Vietnam. It decided that it would advise our partners in this conflict in Vietnam that they should immediately stop bombing North Vietnam. If our partners did not agree, the Labor Party, if in office, would withdraw our troops from the area. What does this mean? It means that Labor would be getting out the easy way. Do honourable senators opposite think that America, as our partner, would take the slightest notice of what the Labor Party said about the bombing of North Vietnam?
– The Americans did not trust a Labor government before.
– When Labor was in power before it was not trusted by the Americans. But I am talking about the present situation and the facts are that at the Labor Party Conference in Adelaide it was slated and reported that Labour would advise the Americans to stop immediately the bombing of North Vietnam. If they did not comply, Labor would withdraw our troops from Vietnam. I ask honourable senators opposite: What happens to the ANZUS Pact after you have withdrawn our troops? Let us say that Labor formed a government and said to the Americans: Stop bombing Vietnam or we will withdraw our troops.’ If the Americans did not agree and Labor withdrew our troops, what is then the position in relation to the ANZUS Pact? The Labor Party would have broken it. Let us say that a foreign nation then attacked Australia and we wanted American assistance. Would we have any right to call on America under the ANZUS Pact? lt is clear that what I say is hurting because honourable senators opposite are interjecting, but it is the truth. Would we have any right to call on the Americans to come to our assistance? We have obligations in South East Asia. The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, who led for the Opposition in this debate, did not mention what the Labor Party would do towards defending Australia outside Australia, because he was tied by the thirty-six faceless men who constitute the Labor Party’s Federal Conference, plus eleven others with faces. While Senator Murphy was speaking he said that if Labor was returned to office he- would move certain motions in this chamber in respect of the setting up of a select committee to inquire into all aspects of the Post Office. Assume that that situation came about, that the motion was carried and a select committee made a report. How would it be considered by the Labor Party? In my opinion it would go to the thirty-six faceless men plus the other eleven with faces who constitute the Federal Conference. The difference between the Labor Party and the Government Parties is that the Labor Party is directed by its Federal Conference, and that is an outside body. Honourable’ senators opposite are interjecting, but it is completely true and they can deny it if (hey wish. The Labor Party’s Federal Conference as it is constituted following the recent Adelaide Conference comprises six members from each State, plus the Leader of the Opposition and Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives.
– Tell us about the constitution of your conference.
– I have it. Labor’s Federal Conference, to continue, also consists of the Leader of the Opposition and Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, plus another member from; each State and a member from the Northern Territory, making a total of forty-seven. Honourable senators must realise ‘thai of those forty-seven members, the forty-two who represent the States are nol members of Parliament.
– They are.
– Some of them. They can direct the Parliamentary Labor Party as to what action it will take in respect of the various problems facing Australia. Honourable senators opposite, as a party, have to adhere to this. As a political party we are quite different. Our Party’s organisation makes recommendations to us and we as the Parliamentary Liberal Party make decisions as to whether or not those recommendations will be carried out.
– Who are they?
– The honourable senator can find out who they are. The recommendations that come to the Labor Party are instructions and have to be carried out. They are orders to the Labor Puny. We as a government go along und ask the people of Australia to place trust in :us for the further development of Australia. I would say that never in Australia’s history have we seen such rapid development from one end of the country to the other ,as we have at the present moment. The Leader of the Opposition criticised the Government and its policy in relation to northern development. Might I just state now that our policy is such as to encourage private capital to come vo Australia for development. What have we achieved in this direction? I have mentioned the iron ore industry. We have also the bauxite industry in the north. We are building beef road$. We have made an unlimited amount of money available for the development of ports in noi l hern Australia. This is far in excess of what any Labor Government would do. 1 seem to have a recollection of a Labor Government being in office. What happened to it? It had unemployment in this country in excess of 5.6%, a figure which is unheard of in the seventeen years’ administration of our Government. If one looks at the Commonwealth ‘Year Book’ he will find (hat in the last year of office of the Labor Government in 1949 5.6% of the work force were unemployed. This has never happened since. We have never had more than 3.1% of our work force unemployed.
There is one other item with which I would like to deal in the limited time thai I have available. That is the question of pensions. The Leader of the Opposition, in his concluding remarks, said that the Government did not take responsible action in relation to pensions. 1 do not think that there has been a Budget in which this Government has not done something for pensioners. Since the Government was elected to office in 1949 its budgets have always done something for the pensioners. Something was done in this Budget and something was also done in relation to child endowment. Governments of our political colour have been in office for about forty-eight years.
– Forty-eight years?
– Almost. Labor Governments have been in office for approximately eighteen years. Never during the whole of that period of forty-eight years has a Government of our political colour reduced the age or invalid pension. Twice a Labor Government reduced the amount of money that our pensioners received. That is a terrible indictment of the Labor Party. The pensions were reduced twice, I think in 1931. and again in 1948.
– That is incorrect.
– The honourable senator says that it is incorrect but she should look up the history. I am not sure of the year 1931 but I am sure that the Australian Labor Party twice in eighteen years of office saw fit to reduce the amount of money that was paid to pensioners in a weekly allowance because it was not able to raise the finance to give pensioners what they deserved. That has never happened under our form of government. I want to say just a word or two about the Austraiian economy. We have an expanding economy. This Budget is designed to keep expansion going at the present rate.
– For whom?
– For the people of Australia.
– Which people?
– All of the people of Australia who under this Government have never been better off than they are today. I have been overseas to America, Canada, Latin America and countries adjacent to us and I can tell honourable senators opposite that I am proud to be able to come back to my own country and see that under our Government we have developed this nation so that the people in it are more prosperous and have a better standard of living than have the people of any other country that I know in the world.
– The Budget for 1967, which is under discussion in the Senate tonight, has been received, like all of its predecessors, with mixed feelings. It has been described with many adjectives but the fact that does remain is that the worth of a budget is determined by the public according to the effect that it has on the most sensitive nerve of mankind, that is the hip pocket. Superficially this Budget has been received, particularly by those who have employment and who are not dependent upon pensions, as a good Budget, because it is not hurting anybody in the matter of taxation or increased excise on beer and cigarettes and the other pleasures of the daily life of the average working man. It is regarded by business people as a budget that will give impetus to consumer buying and will vitalise trade and business generally. Insurance companies should be very pleased because the amount which one can claim as a tax deduction for insurance has been greatly increased and that could only benefit people who have a surplus income that will enable them to invest their surplus in insurance. There could be, of course, an economic value in that. It might be an encouragement to insurance companies to loosen their money bags and invest moneys in the development of the country.
However, I would say that generally the Budget has been received fairly favourably for the reasons that I have given, but there is a big sector of. the people who have been gravely disappointed with the Budget because it does not contain any improvements in pensions generally. It does not have very much regard for the people on fixed incomes who have been greatly disadvantaged because of increases in the cost of living and in taxation generally. I listened to the speech delivered by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) tonight and I. cannot say that I was greatly impressed with the case that he made out against the Government. I thought it was very feeble. He listed many omissions. There were sufficient, I thought, to have impelled an active and vigorous Leader of the Opposition to move a reduction in the vote and to test the Senate on the Budget. But instead of that we have in lieu a feeble, anaemic amendment.
– We are only on the papers.
– I know where we are and the Leader of the Opposition also would know if he were to look at the records to see the number of occasions on which there has been a motion for a reduction in the Budget. However, I make allowances for the Leader of the Opposition. He has not long occupied the post and he will learn as he goes along. He dwelt for some time on postal charges and rates. Everybody knows that the Democratic Labor Party led the attack on the Government on the matter of postal charges and rates. The Australian Labor Party certainly followed and we defeated the Bills on two occasions. It will be very interesting and I am waiting with great anxiety to see what the ALP will do when we have before ns the Bill to provide for the additional postal charges and rates.
– We are waiting to see what the honourable senator is going to do.
– The Senate knows what I am going to do. There is never any ambiguity about what I say or do. I am sure the Government knows what I will do. But I am not so sure that anyone knows what the ALP is going to do.. The Leader of the Opposition rushes in with a notice of motion for the appointment of a Senate
Select Committee to inquire into the practicability of establishing a corporation to control the Post Office. I moved an, emergency motion along those lines with the hope of getting a 3 hour debate in which we could examine the ments or demerits of the proposition, but that motion was frustrated by the Leader of the Opposition and those who followed him.’- What measure of reliance can we put on the Leader of the Opposition on this question of postal charges? I am prepared to bet that the Opposition will chicken out on this, if I may use the expression of the man in the street.
– The honourable senator is only hoping that it will because he has no other policy.
– No other policy? J intend to tell the Senate of many items of our policy which have been followed.
– The honourable senator wants to be careful or they will pinch them from him.
– He is in more trouble than Speed Gordon with his policy.
– That is all very well. The Budget has been described wilh the use of many adjectives and expressions. I regard it as uninspiring, unduly pessimistic and timid. It is true that it does not hurt many people, but it is equally true ;that it neglects some. I believe it will be remembered for its omissions rather than for the few paltry concessions that it contains. It is true that it contains some bright features, but it contains also a number of ‘dismal features and a multitude of omissions. Its bright features are clouded by the fact that all the so called new measures should have been included in previous Budgets of dealt with when the original problems arose. Its dismal features have been brought about by stab in the dark attempts to meet the problems which are demanding solution. The omissions, which I shall detail later, tell us more about the thinking of the Government than we learn from the contents pf the Budget. I contend that the political philosophy behind the document is in line with the Government’s policy of postponement and delay, even to the point where action of any kind is nearly always too late. In short I repeat that the Budget :is uninspiring, unduly pessimistic and timid.
In an otherwise gloomy document the few bright features are the acceptance of the DLP principle of graduated child endowment payments, the increase in expenditure for defence and education, the increased taxation allowance for dependants and the first step taken in the direction of the DLP’s plan for a statutory authority to control postal and telecommunication services within Australia. The dismal features of the Budget are the increase of 9% in departmental expenditure, the unrealistic alteration to the insurance deduction, the attempt to re-impose increased postal charges and to treat the Senate with disdain, and the unnecessary increase in expenditure on VIP aircraft. The most important omissions include the absence of any insurance scheme or system of subsidy for the Australian troops serving in Vietnam, the failure to improve maternity allowances and age pensions, the absence of any extension of the student’s allowance age limit or any proposal for the capitalisation of child endowment payments, the lack of any proposal for the granting of building loans to young couples and the lack of recognition of the need for a drastic re-organisation in the Public Service. Let me go through these twelve points in more detail so as to illustrate my contention that the Budget is an expression of the Government’s basic approach of postponement and delay.
I deal first with child endowment which is a subject on which the DLP has been talking for years. The paltry increase in child endowment for the fourth, fifth and later children has been pointed to as evidence that the Budget was designed for the family man. However, if honourable senators look at the payments now received by a family with four or five children and compare them with payments received over the years relative to changes in the basic wage they will quickly come to the conclusion that the increase should have beeen given long ago and should have been much larger. In 1949 a family with four children received a total of $3 in child endowment. This represented 25% of the basic wage at that time. The payment for a family with four children was allowed to deteriorate steadily in real value until 1963 when it was down to 12% of the then basic wage. In 1964 the total payment for a family with four children was increased from $3.50 to $4.50 and this amount was 14.6% of the basic wage. The additional 25c which will be paid as a result of this Budget merely increases the proportion to 13.7%, which compares most unfavourably with the 1949 high of 25%.
– That was under a Labor Government.
– It was not.
– In 1949?
– It was late in 1 949. The new rate of $6.75 for a family with five children is slightly more realistic at 19.5% of the basic wage and restores the value to the 1964 level when last there was an increase. However,it still compares unfavourably with the 1948 peak of 34%. One feature that I do praise is the Government’s acceptance of the Democratic Labor Party principle of graduated child endowment payments, which gives recognition to the fact that the families who most welcome child endowment payments and who are most entitled to them are those with four or more children.
Let me refer to the matters of defence and education. These two subjects have been very close to the hearts of members of the DLP. I stand here and challenge any honourable senator, whether on the Government side or the Opposition side, to say that either of those sides has been very conscious, or nearly as conscious as the DLP has been, of Australia’s need for defence self-reliance. Only in recent years have members of the Government parties aroused themselves to the necessity to do something and to spend money on defence. The Australian Labor Party has never been very enthusiastic about it. The Leader of the Opposition, whilst he criticised the defence payments in the course of his speech tonight, was very slow to indicate just what he would do in the matter of defence. We make no apologies - we never have made any - for believing that an appreciable part of our income should be devoted to our self-preservation and security. We must do that for the preservation of our democracy and the safety of the people who are privileged to live within the boundaries of this great country.
The recognition given to education in the form of a 35% increase in expenditure is a pleasing feature. But the uses to which the money will be put illustrate that the Government is not prepared to concede that difficulties exist in the primary school sector of the education system. The Government has done a great deal - in fact it has been generous - in giving aid to the secondary school sector. But up to now nothing has been done to aid the State or independent schools in the primary school sector. That is the next area deserving of Federal Government attention and urgent and sympathetic treatment.
I suggest that what is required is an immediate grant of a minimum of $30 per annum per capita to preserve and maintain the dual system of education that has operated successfully in this country over the years. If that amount were forthcoming from the Commonwealth to the States and from the States to the parents of children at independent schools, the Government not only would dispense some justice to schools which have operated at great financial cost but also would save money. I have canvassed this suggestion in the Senate before. I have drawn attention to the fact that clear economic arguments provide more than enough proof that a measure of this kind is required immediately and is necessary for the preservation of both wings of the dual system of education in Australia.
The economic argument is that a per capita payment of the amount I have mentioned would arrest the drift of children from independent schools to government schools. Honourable senators have heard me speak on this point before. Why governments do not recognise it more readily I cannot understand. The latest information is that, for every child who is refused admission to an independent school - because financial difficulties prevent it providing accommodation or teachers - and who goes to a State school, the cost to the State or the Commonwealth for the education of that child in that State school is $230 a year. If $30 per annum per capita was paid to the independent schools, they could provide accommodation and teaching staff for the education of such children. Look how much cheaper it would be for the States and the Commonwealth. But they fail to recognise that.
Only tonight I read - in one of the Sydney newspapers I think it was - that Bishop Muldoon said that the Catholic schools in Sydney would be required to turn away 10,000 children. Every one of those 10,000 children who is admitted to a State school will cost the taxpayers $230 a year; whereas, if the Catholic schools were able to take those children - with financial aid they could and gladly would do so - it would cost the State or Federal Government a minimum of $30 per annum per capita at the primary school level and ‘perhaps $30 or $60 per annum per capita at the secondary school level. That is the true economic position. Apart from the justice of the case, the economics of the case must surely present themselves to any government.
The increase in defence expenditure only proves the utter humbug of the Government’s protest in the early 1960s against the DLP call for the doubling of the defence vote. In the Budget speech the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) pointed but that the defence vole had increased by an average of 25% each year since 1962^63. He added:
We have accomplished this expansion without serious distortion or disruption 1 of our domestic economy.
But in the early 1960s the opposite was claimed as the likely result if the Government listened to the DLP call. At the same time we were advocating the re-introduction of national service training. The then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, and other Ministers told us over and over again that national service training could not1 be integrated successfully into our defence structure. But suddenly, just prior to an election. Sir Robert decided to re-introduce national service training. So, just how far san we rely on the Government to ensure that this country is defended properly? lt is very difficult to follow this increase in the defence vote, lt is not broken down to the extent to which I would like it to be. I find if difficult to see just how much will be devoted to the. Army and how much will be devoted to the purchase of aircraft suitable for the war in which we arc engaged. Will all of the money be spent on the Fill aircraft, or will it be spent on the Navy or the Army? I would like more details on that. In the limited time at my disposal I was unable to find those particulars. I would like to see as much’ money as possible spent on the Army because the war in which we are engaged, and the war in which we are likely to be engaged, must of necessity demand that the Army should not be neglected at the expense of other arms of the Services.
I turn now to the taxation allowance. The increase in dependants’ allowance appears generous on the surface but does not stand up to close examination. When translated into hard facts it means a saving of only 22c per week for a three child family on the basic wage. When my comments on child endowment payments are added to this comment on the increase of child allowance it is clear that this Budget is not a family man’s Budget, as it might appear to some.
On the matter of the Postmaster-General’s Department, about which I have already spoken, I congratulate the Government on taking the first step towards the implementation of the plan that I submitted here for the establishment of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department as a corporation or statutory authority. The Government has decided to establish a trust fund. That is a move in the right direction. It is a deplorable state of affairs to have the Postal Department, the biggest service organisation of the Crown and the biggest trading concern under the Crown, not handling its own revenue. Its revenue goes into the Consolidated Revenue Fund, and those who are charged with the administration of the Department are subject to Treasury dictation on the matter of finance and to Public Service Board dictation on the matter of staffing. The people who are dealing with this matter know, as I know from what I have read, that the United Kingdom Government established a trust fund, but not long afterwards say that it was only a half-way measure. It then put the postal service under a statutory body.
– Who would control the expenditure from a trust fund?
– Those who are appointed, as with any statutory authority. They are answerable to a Minister who in turn is answerable to Parliament.
– Has it been said thai there is to be a statutory authority?
– Not up to now.
– That is why I asked the question.
– I am arguing that there should be a statutory authority. Other statutory authorities are in existence and are functioning successfully without the irritating interference of other departments. I am glad to have the acquiescence of my colleague from Tasmania. His approval of my plan comforts me a lot. The United Kingdom Government set up a similar system in 1961, then later re-organised the Post Office as a statutory authority. It is satisfying to repeat a good thing over and over again.
The permissible deduction for insurance, which has been increased from $800 to $1,200, is something to which I have already referred briefly. I cannot for the life of me understand it. The only people who could benefit by that increase are persons with a surplus income who want to invest it. and who perhaps put it into insurance policies.
– What about the self employed man; how is he to get superannuation?
– He could do it that way, it is true. That is a suggestion. I did have regard to such a man. The fact remains that the great majority of people will not receive the benefit. This increase will benefit the section that we might classify as those in the community who are better off. However, if it is going lo benefit some, I have to concede that it has some merit.
– It could have been given to the pensioners.
– Yes, but the Government did not do that. Now I come to the question of pensions. It is nothing short of scandalous that this Budget should be submitted without some provision for an increase in age, invalid, and widows pensions and in war pensions. All pensions should have been increased in this Budget because the pittance that is being paid to pensioners today has been indisputably eroded by increasing costs. Even if we accept the Statistician’s figure, which is not always truly representative of what is actually taking place, costs have increased by 3%.
– Accept the figure of the Treasurer that there has been a 3% increase.
– There has been a 3% increase in the cost of living. Wages have increased. Our arbitration courts and tribunals have realised the necessity to increase wages and salaries to compensate the worker. The man on active service, too, has been compensated for the rise in the cost of living. But the Government expects a pensioner to continue living on his pittance - it is nothing more than a pittance - and to meet increased living costs. The Government says: ‘We are sorry that we cannot consider you in this Budget because if we did so we would have to find something like $50m’. it is a pity that the Government does not think of the ultimate cost of other things which are less deserving and less meritorious than aiding the plight of pensioners.
– From what would the honourable senator deduct the money for this purpose?
– For one thing, I ‘would be very slow to order VIP aircraft: That is the No. 1 thing. Then there are the other economies I have already referred to. The suggestion that people would have to be taxed to raise more money for pensions is not entirely true. Some of the money may have to be raised in that way. But the Government is spending $2 1.6m oil VIP aircraft and I classify this as wasteful expenditure. At a later stage I propose to focus attention on this matter,’ and especially on the hypocrisy of members of the Australian Labor Party for criticising the use of VIP aircraft while the Federal Leader of the Party makes plenty bf use of them.
– Use of the aircraft is not confined to the leaders. They are used by plenty of other people.
– I have never made use of them.
– Would the honourable senator use them if he had to?
– Until now I have had no need of them. 1 would have to justify their use according to my own conscience.
– The Labor Leader only used the aircraft when commercial aircraft were not available.
– The Leader qf the Opposition made two tours of 1 north Queensland this year that I. know of.
– Only because commercial aircraft were not available.
– 1 know Queensland well. I have always been able to travel either in small aircraft or in big aircraft; but not in VIP aircraft. I believe that details of the use, maintenance and expenditure of the VIP aircraft should be detailed in the Budget papers or in a separate report to the Parliament. As I said earlier, this Budget’s omissions give a clearer picture of the Government’s thinking than its contents. An important omission is that of any insurance plan or subsidy for Australian troops serving in Vietnam.
– -The Budget does make provision for an insurance plan.
– -When our troops are sent to a war zone they find that their insurance premiums are raised and the maximum cover on their policies is reduced.
– lt is a very much improved plan.
– There is an improvement. It is understandable that premiums should be raised because of the increased risk involved. The United Stares Government subsidises insurance cover for ils troops and I see no reason why the Australian Government should not do the same.
– There is an insurance cover in the event of a soldier’s death.
– The cover is not to the extent that I would like to see. I want to refer now to maternity allowances. I think it is time the Government raised these allowances. Birth rates have been falling to such an extent that we need to encourage an increase in our population. We are spending a lot of money on migration. We are bringing people here from other countries. They are all very welcome and I hope that they will become good Australians and will assist us to make this a better country for all. Maternity allowances have not been increased since 1943. If the Treasurer, in framing this Budget, had wanted to look after the family man he should have made some attempt to restore the real value of these payments.
I cannot understand why pensions have been completely ignored in this Budget. My remarks apply to repatriation, widow, invalid, and age pensions, but especially to age pensions. The Government must be very far removed from the common people in the community. It must be unaware of how the poorer people live. I know a lot of pensioners and am aware of how hard they find if to make ends meet. They are provident, good-living people. They are not wasteful. They do get a little aid from their sons and daughters - and rightly so, because sons and daughters have a moral obligation to do as much as they can for their aged parents in return for all that has been done for them. I also realise that many sons and daughters are so heavily committed on behalf of their own families that they arc not in a financial position to assist their aged parents. I make allowances for such people but I make no allowances for those who are in a position to help their aged parents but do nothing. The needs of these elderly people are not many, it is true. But there are many little delicacies that they cannot even think of buying because they do not have the capacity to pay for them. The prices of bread, butter, milk and other stable items have gone up. For the worker beef is almost unprocurable because of its price. It is out of the reach of the man on the basic wage, and indeed many men who have a family to keep.
– By how much has the price of milk risen?
– I do not know. The price varies according to the State.
– The price has hardly moved a! all.
– The price varies according to the State. Anyway, if one can. succeed in selecting an item which has not risen in price then one is a good picker and should go on the Bob Dyer show.
– The honourable senator chose that item.
– I mentioned milk. I could easily have said that the price of all items has risen. The price of ham and bacon has risen so much that it is out of the reach of the Arabs. I consider that the situation facing the old age pensioners is unjust. The Government stands condemned for its failure to recognise the claims of the age pensioners, the war pensioners, the invalid pensioners and the widows.
– The deserted wives?
– Sometimes a. deserted wife is to bc congratulated because of the worthless character of the deserting husband. However I agree with Senator
Tangney on this question of deserted wives. I think it is too silly for words that a man is able to walk out on his responsibility, on the life mate of his choice. After all, the wife did not select him, he selected her. A man can walk out and take a job at Port Pirie or somewhere else, earn $50 or $60 a week and do nothing about his responsibilities. If he does not contribute to the maintenance of his wife and children no-one does anything about it. The man can be located but because of the cost of extradition and legal processes he can thumb his nose to his responsibilities, go about his business and live in Adelaide or somewhere else with a de facto wife.
– If this matter was subject to Federal enforcement there would be no need of extradition.
– I agree with Senator Wright. If he moves along those lines I will agree with him. I am a very enthusiastic supporter of anything that will bring these people to heel and make them face up to their financial responsibility. When the Budget proposals relating to child endowment come before the Senate I intend to raise the capitalisation of child endowment payments as allowed by the New Zealand Government. When the Ministers of State Bill came before the Senate earlier this year I expressed the belief that the amalgamation of certain departments was long overdue. Ample opportunities exist for such a move. Some thought should be given to the Canadian system of integrating the defence forces.
The Budget more than crumbles under this analysis. No member of the present Government can find it. to be comforting, especially with a Senate election in sight. To my mind the trouble is that the Government has become lazy and unimaginative, no doubt because of its inflated majority in the House of Representatives and the failure of the Australian Labor Party to provide an effective Opposition. The Senate has now become the watchdog of this tired and lazy Administration - possibly as a result of the narrowness of the gap between the size of the parties and the presence of the Democratic Labor Party in this chamber.
– And of the Independent senator.
– And of the Independent, yes. I
– The Senate is debating the Budget, which was presented on the 15th of this month. This certainly is the most important economic paper that has been produced by the Government during the current, twelve months. I wish to pay a tribute to those men, employed by the people of Australia, who produce the Budget papers that are presented at this early stage in a new financial year. Most people do not realise that the Budget, which is produced about six weeks after the end of the previous financial year and which gains great notoriety, is accompanied by a quantity of papers 3 inches high which give to. members of the Parliament and the ; public generally a complete outline of the civil works programme for the ensuing year, a complete outline of Commonwealth payments to or for the States, estimates of receipts and expenditure for the coming year, fuller particulars relating to the proposed expenditure, a list of Government securities on issue, income tax statistics to 30th June, and a statement relating, to the economy of the country which is known as the White Paper. These documents reflect, great credit on those who have . prepared them.
It has been very interesting to listen to the speeches which have already been delivered in this debate. We have listened lo a speech delivered on behalf of the Opposition, to a speech by Senator Scott who led for the Government, and to a speech from Senator Gair, the leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party. It is fair to say that only the Government, parties are under an obligation to put forward sound proposals and to stand by them. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) used such terms as ‘arrogant Government’ and ‘bankrupt philosophy’. If such comments arc to be accepted they must be supported. In the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition one cannot find any suggestion that finance should bc diverted from one sector of the economy to Another. Senator Murphy merely decried the efforts of the Government. He moved an amendment which contained the words ‘bin condemns the Budget’. Senator Scott observed that this year the Opposition had departed from its normal practice of moving that budget expenditure be reduced by a certain amount. Undoubtedly the Opposition had good reason for doing so.
The first reason advanced by Senator Murphy in condemnation of the Budget was that it places defence costs on those least able to pay them. That is utter nonsense. Defence costs are part of the Budget. There is nothing in the defence costs to show that they are placed on those least able to pay. The second reason advanced was that the Budget fails to curb administrative waste and extravagance. Perhaps that is the view of the Opposition, but I do not agree with it. I suggest that over the years this Government has imposed a reasonably tight control on expenditure. One has only to be reminded of the committees that have been appointed by the Parliament to examine expenditure and of the fact that we have an independent Auditor-General, of whom we all should be proud, to observe that what I have said is true.
– Is the honourable senator a member of the Public Accounts Committee?
– Others will answer for me. The third reason put forward by Senator Murphy was that the Budget defers and retrenches development projects. I am at a loss to know which projects are being deferred or retrenched. Perhaps one or two controversial projects have been deferred, but that has been done in great wisdom. No government before the present Government has laid such emphasis on national development. And it has done so in this year more than in any other year. Senator Murphy showed an inability to choose the right words with which to condemn the Government.
The fourth point made by the Leader of the Opposition is that the Budget allows social service and war pensioners to fall still further behind their fellow citizens. There is one aspect in relation to that with which I would agree but. having regard to the scope of the finances available to it, the Government generally has dealt adequately wilh those areas where the greatest need lies.
Senator Gair commenced his remarks by saying that this was a good Budget. I was pleased to hear that comment, but he broke down later and referred to it as a scandalous Budget, a Budget which was far removed from the people, a Budget which indicated that the management of this country was in the hands of a lazy government and a postponement and delay Budget. 1 do not think Senator Gair did justice to his arguments by the points he raised, but neither of the Labor Parties in this chamber has to stand up to its criticisms, and well they know it. The Government Parties however must show some responsibility in solid financing and ensure that the propositions they put forward are acceptable and can be implemented. This Government has done that every year it has held office.
An honourable senator opposite referred to the work of the Public Accounts Committee. This of course gives credit to Government as well as Opposition because both sides are represented on the Committee. The Public Accounts Committee is one of the best means devised by which governments and departments are controlled in their estimates and in their expenditure in all phases of their activities involving the use of public money. The Public Accounts Committee is an independent body which consists of Government and Opposition members from both Houses of the Parliament. It is interesting to note that in the week in which the Budget papers were presented the Public Accounts Committee commenced its annual investigation into departmental estimating procedures and records, and the results of expenditure by departments during the previous twelve months.
Many of the matters which have been raised in the Press during the last few days have resulted from discussions between the Committee and heads of departments in relation to the way in which they have estimated the sums of money they will need for the ensuing year, the manner in which the sums of money they received in the previous year were expended and in relation to whether they achieved the targets they set. Honourable senators will realise that underestimatng and over-estimating are equally important when one is endeavouring to calculate one’s requirements.
I am particularly proud to be an Australian. I am honoured to be a citizen of a country whose living standards compare favourably with those of any country in the word.
– But we did not suffer wartime devastation as certain other countries did. Look how Japan has rehabilitated itself.
– I do not know whether the honourable senator’s comments mean that he is not proud to be an Australian citizen.
– I am talking about relative living standards.
– Britain won a war and because of that her living standards are low. The Opposition has said that the Budget is wrong here, there or somewhere else. I know that the Opposition has to find some flaws but there are very few to be found. During its eighteen years of office this Government has achieved an economic climate in which private enterprise can thrive, and it has thrived to the extent that 1 am proud to be an Australian.
– But does not the honourable senator believe that the Government must supervise the ramifications of private enterprise?
– There is a necessary place for the Government and a necessary place for the Opposition, so if the honourable senator will allow me to continue I will not waste my time. I want to refer now to the growth of the economy since this Government has been in office. In the field of secondary production, in which I am particularly interested, and in primary production, outstanding results have been achieved. I am sure that if any other Party had been able to hold the reins of office for such a lengthy period as has the present coalition Government and had achieved such outstanding results, it would be equally as deserving of praise.
Let me deal with the number of factories which have been constructed since this Government has been in office. In 1949 there were 40,070 factories - factories to generate jobs, to generate the growth of the economy and to generate the overseas income which is so important for us. At the end of last year there were 61,686 factories in Australia, an increase of over 54%. In 1949 the work force consisted of some 890,000 persons. Today the work force numbers over 1,294,000, representing an increase of over 45%. When this Government took office the value of Australia’s production was SI, 13 8m. There has been an increase of over 451% and the value of production now is $6,276m - a great credit to that area of activity. In the field of primary production, the value of farm production in 194$ was some $652m. By 1966-67 it had increased by over 95% to $ 1,270m.
Sheep numbers have increased from 108 million to 170 million, an increase of 46%, and cattle numbers have increased by 96% from 9,200,000 to 18,000,000. Turning to one or two selected items in the field of primary production we find that the value of wool production has increased by, over 62%, the value of beef and veal production by over 54%, the value of wheat production by 142% and the value of raw sugar production by over 148%. We should all be particularly proud of Australia’s achievements in those fields.
Let me refer now to the standard of living Australia has achieved. There are over 2,367,000 television licences in Australia today; in other words, a television licence for every five persons in the community. There are over nineteen telephones for every 100 persons. The number of motor vehicles has risen from 1,224,000 to 3,943,000. As at 1966 there was one vehicle for every three persons in the community. These figures make me feel very proud of the fact that during this Government’s term of office it has exercised a sound selection of investment in various sectors of the community. It has brought about today a position in which the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) has made a particularly profound statement and suggestion as to the way in which we should protect our economic growth. He said in his Budget speech that in the past there has been considerably more public spending than he would wish to see this year and in the future. By ‘public spending’ J mean government spending as related to expenditure in the private sector. He said that the previous expenditure has been used to establish foundations for larger economic growth. However, today there is within the Budget room for private industry ip add to the expansion and growth of the community.
I think we should realise the importance of expenditure which flows from the private sector. It is set out in one of the papers presented with the Budget speech that fourfifths of the national expenditure flows from private decisions to spend. The resultant application of resources is thus largely the result of innumerable private buying and selling deals in which prices are the chief regulator. In broad terms, the supply of anything offered for sale will depend on the price that buyers are collectively willing to pay for that commodity and how the price compares with the cost of producing it and putting it on the market. That is an indication of the importance of the private sector of the economy. I hope that it is ever the policy, and I know it will be, of the coalition Parties in this Government that great emphasis is placed on the need for private enterprise to expand in the community. Private enterprise is the basis upon which the Government Parties build all our hopes for expansion and development. In its initial stage that is the immediate basis of opposition between ourselves and the Labor Party. I realise that it is the firm policy of the Labor Party that this country would be better developed by a socialistic form of government.
– Did the Government start TAA? Does the honourable senator regret its entry into aviation circles?
– There is in all countries today a necessity for the government to have a firm hand on expenditure in the community so as to exert a stable influence, but the honourable senator knows that there is a great difference between that position and the proposals of his Party. I do not say that Labors policies would be entirely useless, even though I may think that they would be. The facts are that through the policies laid down by this Government there has been the creation of a climate in which private enterprise can grow. That is one of the points I make in relation to the general outline of the Budget. The core of the Budget is that it will enable the private sector of the community to grow.
Before I make one or two points relating lo the detailed structure of the Budget I would like to read from one of the excellent papers presented with the Budget. I refer to the supplement to the Treasury Informa tion Bulletin’ which sets out the national accounting estimates of public authority receipts and expenditure. I think it is well for us to understand the effects of the Budget and why it is, as I said at the outset of my speech, so important. The document states:
There are two principal ways in which the Commonwealth Budget influences economic and financial conditions and the balance of payments.
All honourable senators are aware of the importance of the balance of payments. The document continues:
The first and more important is the influence of the Budget on demand, output and imports, either directly by the Commonwealth’s own purchases of goods and services, or at one remove by its influence on the expenditure of other sectors through loans to them and through taxation collections and transfer payments which affect their disposable income. Secondly, budgetary transactions have effects on the size and composition of the community’s holdings of some forms of financial assets which, taken in conjunction with a multitude of other factors, influence attitudes towards spending, borrowing and lending and can in this way affect levels of demand, output and imports.
That is why I compliment the Treasurer on the very sound approach he has adopted. This has been done in a year which demands some extreme payments removed from our normal expenditure by way of defence and in other areas, without any increase in taxation to the community generally. I believe that the economy is set for sound growth in the coming year. It appears that consumer spending is already rising and it seems likely that private investment will gather impetus during the next months. Expenditure on housing is increasing and the value of non-dwelling approvals - both commercial and industrial - to the June quarter of this year had risen by 16% when compared with the June quarter of 1966. That is a creditable effort by the private sector of the community.
The Government has restrained the growth of government spending in this year although it has increased to about $56lm, or by about 9.5%. Last year the increase was 11%. This move is designed to give room for the private sector to expand. At the same time the Budget has allowed for continued growth in capital expenditure in some public sectors. The Commonwealth’s specific purpose payments to the States have risen by $3 19m over last year, or by 28%. Payments include $160m under the Commonwealth aid roads scheme, over $37m for rail standardisation, $6m for Tasmanian hydro-electric development, $5m for the South Australian natural gas pipeline and $69m for capital expenditure on education. Almost every one of those items has been criticised by the Opposition.
To take education as an example, the performance of the Government in past years is most remarkable. Commonwealth expenditure on education in 1963-64 was $64m. In 1966-67 it had risen to $143m and the estimate in this year’s Budget is $194m. Under the guidance of Senator Gorton, the Minister for Education and Science, expenditure on universities has risen to $66m. The sum of $15m is provided for colleges of advanced education to be established, $13m for science laboratories and $14m for technical training. The whole ambit of education in the Commonwealth and in the States is becoming something of which we will be enormously proud In some few years. There are one or two very important points, which, perhaps, time will not permit me to go into. I am particularly anxious that we should have some discussion in relation to our defence, because it is the Government’s policy that defence expenditure at this time and in this Dart of the world is a most important core of our Budget. I agree entirely with the expenditure that the Commonwealth is applying to defence.
Our economic aid is important. Some people criticise the fact that it is 0.75% of our national income but not enough Australians and not enough overseas countries give Australia credit for the fact that all of the grants that we make for overseas aid are made as non-repayable grants. We do not do as many other countries do, that is, provide grants that require some servicing with repayments and interest over an enormous number of years. I would like to discuss the fact that our defence forces retirement benefits scheme, which has been extended to servicemen in Vietnam, has been improved so considerably. This is something for which honourable senators on this side of the chamber have argued for many years and this scheme is now becoming one of the best insurance schemes that could ever be provided by the Commonwealth. There are many areas of primary industry that I would like to discuss. We must continue Commonwealth aid for road construction in the States and ensure that we hold to the requirement that 40% of the money is spent on unclassified roads. We in this chamber must see that part of the increased expenditure by the Postmaster-General’s Department is allocated for the improvement of services to those people who have not at their disposal adequate services of the quality available to persons in metropolitan areas.
There are many areas that are worthy of discussion. The Treasurer finally put to the Commonwealth that there is a great need for more efficiency within the Government and private sectors. He asks a number of questions that could well be posed to the business community. I believe that this Government will have to do something quite sizeable within the next period to see that it makes available on much better terms, perhaps without insisting on import duty, items of equipment that will enable us to process our information more readily. Automatic data processing equipment and material handling equipment must be brought in to aid efficiency and a buildup in our economy. I have great pleasure in supporting the Budget and I disagree with the comments that were made bv the Leader of the Opposition.
– -This is the twenty-fifth annua) Budget to which I have had the opportunity to address myself. 1 do so, perhaps; wilh a great sadness because the Budget leaves untouched so many of the problems with which I have associated myself over the years and which are of such great moment in the community. I would like to preface my remarks with a statement from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I only wish that I had been able to give it to the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) before he brought down this Budget. It reads:
The inherent dignity and equal inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice end the peace of the world.
I think all parlies in this Parliament and all people within this community have a great aim to see that freedom, justice and peace are brought about in the world and I do not think that this Budget has done very much, particularly to bring about that form of justice which is so definitely a right of the people of this country. We have heard many statistics cited tonight by honourable senators on both sides of the chamber but I would like to remind all honourable senators that people are not just statistics; they are human beings who have needs that should be satisfied as far as is humanly possible.
There is a great gap in this Budget. I will not deal with international or economic implications; I will leave those to people much better qualified than I am to do so. Those who say that this is a good Budget and a family man’s Budget have a different conception of good and a different conception of a family man’s Budget from the views that I hold, lt is good, of course, if one has an income of over $100 a week and if one is the father of nine children under the age of sixteen. .He does get some benefit from this Budget. A person who can afford to pay out $25 a week for insurance - which not many people on the basic wage can do because that is almost as much as the basic wage - can derive some comfort from this Budget. The man on the basic wage with a wife and three children will benefit to the extent of 22c a week as a result of the additional income tax remissions he will receive for his wife and children. With the 22c he will be able to buy nearly five eggs - perhaps four hen’s eggs and a chicken’s egg. That is all that he can get with the 22c a week he will be able to save. If he receives $60 a week he will save 44c a week which will enable him to buy ten eggs and perhaps a quart of milk or something like that.
When one brings it down to essentials one secs how little the family man gets out of this Budget. It is of no good to talk in millions of dollars, or about the spending of millions of dollars here and millions of dollars there. The average person in the community wants to know about the money that he gets and the figures that come within his own ken. It is so easy to get lost in the maze of finance by lifting the matter altogether above the needs of the ordinary family and the family man for whom this Budget is supposed to be such a good thing.
I was rather interested in an article in the Melbourne ‘Age’ which had a very good heading: ‘Women and Children Last’, lt states:
The depressed classes in our Commonwealth are, in alphabetical order, aborigines, age pensioners, children, civil widows, and descried wives.
That is a very fair summing up of what the Budget has brought about in this com munity - a group of depressed classes. I am not saying this in the sense of being niggley with the Government but I will show how 1 justify that statement, although I did not have (he honour of making it originally. With regard to social services, earlier this evening Senator Scott made a misstatement. I do not think he did it intentionally. He said that in 1948 the Labor Government reduced pensions. That is not so. According to the Government publication which I have in my hand, in .1948 the Chifley Government increased age pensions by 5s per week. I admit that the Scullin Government back in 1931 decreased pensions, but at that time there was a worldwide depression and the Australian Government, in common wilh most governments throughout the world, was faced with the ultimatum from the banks that it had to reduce expenditure on social services. At that time there was not enough money to enable the Government to carry on the ordinary business of government. That was not the fault of a Labor government only; in the following year the Liberal Government under Mr Lyons reduced the pension still further to an all time low of 15s per week. That information also comes from the Government’s own publication. I merely wanted to set the record straight on those matters.
At the present time the age and invalid pensioners simply cannot meet the cost of the bare necessaries of life. But what is even worse is the situation where there is a wife who is not of pensionable age who receives only the minimum of $6 per week upon which to live. The pension, which provides only a bare existence for one, has to be extended with this further $6 to provide the necessaries of life for two. So we have two people living in a substandard condition. This is at a time when the Treasurer tells us that the economy is flourishing. I cannot see any social justice in the way that the Budget has been devised. We find that the situation is similar for widows and deserted wives. Referring first to deserted wives, it is interesting to note that they number more than 10,000. One third of the total number of women receiving the widow’s pension are really deserted wives. I have been fighting a battle for years to try to persuade the Government to undertake the responsibility of placing upon the deserting husband the obligation to pay back to the Government the amount paid out as a pension to his wife, lt is not sufficient to leave her to receive payments now and again from her husband because he would default in payment, but if he were required to pay the amount to the Government he would do something about it if there were power to prosecute for a default in payment. It seems to be iniquitous that a man can just walk away from his responsibilities in this way.
Although the plight of widows is sad, I think they are in a slightly better situation than deserted wives. A widow at least knows that although death has robbed her of her life’s mate it has left her with the memories that she can still hold dear, but the deserted wife is in a different category. She has been deserted. She is neither a wife nor a widow. She has nothing but heartaches upon which to think, when she has time to do so. 1 feel that the Government should definitely have remembered the civilian widows, the war widows and deserted wives when framing its Budget Surely to heaven when we are talking about a budget which deals in thousands of millions of dollars we could spare a little for those who are in the greatest need.
I come now to child endowment. Here we really have the gem of the Budget. We have been told how much the increase in child endowment will do and how it makes the Budget really worthwhile. That is all right for the family with four or more children, but in the Australian community the number of families with four or more children makes up only 25% of the total. I cannot for the life of me see how this ratio will bc increased by the mere giving of an additional 25c for each successive addition to the number of children. There is no increase in child endowment for the family with two or three children or with only one child. This is only the third time that child endowment has been increased in the last 17 years. I have taken this information also from the records published by the Department of Social Services. Maternity allowances have not been increased since 1943. I thought that from his own experience in this field the Treasurer would have realised that costs have increased and that the cost of having a child is now much more.
– He has not had previous experience with which to compare it
– Nevertheless I think he realises that the expense that he has incurred since leaving his bachelorhood behind has been much greater than the $30 maternity allowance which has remained static since 1943. Similar criticisms can be made of the funeral benefit. With the exception of the grant last year of an allowance to a pensioner who was faced with the burden of the whole expense of burying a fellow pensioner, the funeral benefit has not been increased since it was introduced by the Curtin Government in about 1944 or 1945.
Next I refer to aged persons’ homes about which I shall say more later. I am completely in accord with the Government’s policy in this matter, except that I do think that when the Government makes these huge grants for homes for the aged it should have more say in how the money is spent. It should see that the homes are made available to those who need them most rather than to those who can pay most to enter them. I propose to comment next on repatriation benefits. I know that Senator McKellar, who is very sympathetic and has a very human understanding bf the plight of ex-servicemen, must feel deeply the fact that there are in this Budget no additional benefits for ex-servicemen and women and their dependants, other than the increased allowances for some children of deceased ex-servicemen. I am personally grateful for that small concession. I! have relatives who will benefit from it. But at the same time this is a very small concession to give at this time when the cost of living is rising so quickly.
Even the conversion to decimal currency has raised the cost’ of living by increasing the cost of basic commodities. Age pensioners particularly find this most irksome. Because a pensioner has limited means he must buy his food in small quantities. A loaf of bread costs 17c, but half a loaf of bread costs 9c. The halfpenny has disappeared completely from the scene. Honourable senators will see that on this one item of food there is an extra imposition. I went into a Perth store to buy- some onions on which a notice proclaimed the price as 8d or 7c per lb. I intended to buy 3 lb. I proffered 2s but the shop assistant said: ‘That will be another cent’. I said: ‘No, 3 lb at 8d per lb is 2s’. She said: ‘No, it is three times 7c which is 21c.’ Although I am not good at arithmetic I realised that that was an impost of lc. I was not much worried about the lc but I was worried about the principle involved.
If there is a discrepancy of lc on one article because of a conversion to decimal currency, there could be a similar discrepancy with other items and so a big profit would be made somewhere from people buying the basic commodities. With this in mind I went to some of the shops. By the time I had finished my pilgrimage I was not very popular. I inquired about the prices of various articles in small quantities, such as i lb of butter, a couple of eggs and a chop - things that a pensioner would buy. At the end of the day, having gained quite a lot of unpopularity in the course of the proceedings, I found after working out what would be required by a pensioner as a minimum for a pension period that by buying in the small lots which would be necessary in order to keep the food reasonably fresh there was an added cost of 15s for the fortnight. That was because the food had been bought’ in small quantities at a time when both currencies were permissible and were displayed on various commodities. To talk about halfpennies when discussing a national budget involving hundreds of millions of dollars may seem to be wasting the time of the Senate on a trifling matter, but it is not trifling. So many people in our community arc affected by problems such as this.
In this Budget there is no alleviation of the position of pensioners because of the rise in their living costs and the costs of other services that they need. They do not receive many services at less than the cost at which other members of the community receive them. One exception to that is that they can travel at reduced fares. The Minister for Social Services (Mr Sinclair) says that he has given pensioners the right to earn more money before their pensions are reduced. If they are old or beyond the normal working age, they find it difficult to obtain work. Many of them are just too old to obtain work anyway. The raising of the permissible income is not putting one cent: piece more into the pockets of the ordinary, basic pensioners in the community. Therefore, these so-called con cessions amount to absolutely nothing for the pensioners.
Much the same applies to hospital and medical benefits. The cost of medical treatment has risen alarmingly, particularly in the last couple of years. 1 know that from personal experience. I know what must be paid in order to receive the Commonwealth benefit and the full benefit from the hospital benefit fund. It is a very high payment for a family man. Very often the family has to go without other things in order to be covered in case of sickness. People simply cannot afford not to be insured. If they are not insured their health can be impaired permanently if they do not receive the requisite medical attention in time. In this Budget there is no increase in the Commonwealth hospital benefit. It has not been increased for some time.
As a matter of fact, it seems as if some pages of the Treasurer’s speech have gone astray altogether. I cannot imagine any man with the ability and ordinary human feelings that the Treasurer must have not touching any aspect of the social services situation in any way. He did say in Melbourne last weekend that this was an investors’ Budget and a good business Budget. He said that he was sorry that he had not been able to do much for the pensioners. Tt is easy for him to say that he is sorry, but that does not put an extra mouthful of food into the pensioners’ mouths.
Much the same applies to the housing of pensioners. This has become a very big problem. A person is all right if he has a few hundred dollars with which to pay the donation, subscription, or whatever it is called, to gain entry to a home for the aged. There still remains the necessity for the Aged Persons Homes Act to be amended so that the State governments can build homes for the aged, too, and so that people who are really destitute can be adequately housed. At about this time last year the Minister for Health in Western Australia came to a conference in Canberra and said that the present setup in regard to homes for the aged catered for the wealthy and the healthy. Last year a change was made under which hospitals for the aged were brought within the ambit of the Aged Persons Homes Act. But, as I have told the Senate before, I have a file of complaints from people in these homes who feel that they are getting a raw deal, despite the very big expenditure by the Government on subsidies for homes for the aged. That file is increasing daily. When the relevant estimates are before us, I hope to be able to prove to honourable senators that what 1 am saying is true.
We have “heard a great deal about education. As 1 have said before, the education policy of the Commonwealth Government starts from the top. The Government is doing a good job at the tertiary level, including the universities, and in the provision of science blocks in secondary schools. I believe that the education policy of the Government and the outlook of quite a number of education authorities have become too science oriented. I am very conscious of what science can do for the community. But I do think that we are spending too much time and attention on science and not devoting enough time and attention to the humanities. We are not giving young children at school sufficient interest in the humanities to provide them with worthwhile occupations in their leisure time.
Many years ago I read a paper to a university women graduates association on Education for Leisure’. This was long before this age of automation. The very problem that I foresaw then is now coming to pass with a vengeance. I think that it is so important that young people should be taught to use their leisure wisely. The Government could help a great deal in our State education systems by assisting State education departments with the provision of school libraries and manual training and domestic science blocks as well as physical science blocks. These things are really necessary. From my own experience when I was a teacher, I know that only onethird to one-half of the students in a school are inclined towards science at all. The other students do not get any benefit from the huge expenditure that we are putting into science blocks in our schools.
I mention the matter of the necessity to do more concerning the humanities in our schools and also regarding the other forms of science teaching, such as domestic science and manual training, because of the great difficulties that are arising in the community today through the mis-spending of leisure, if 1 might use that term. We find in Western Australia a great deal of public unrest regarding the rising of illegitimacy particularly concerning births to teenage mothers and also the rising rate of venereal disease among teenagers.
I was amazed a few weeks ago to read of a suggestion made at a political conference that was held in Western Australia. Many political conferences have been mentioned in the Senate in the debates during the last few days, but this was a conference of the Young Liberal Party. It is seldom that we hear about the Young Liberal Party. I suppose that if it had been an Australian Labor Party conference we would have heard a lot more about it. But t was amazed to read that the remedy suggested at the Young Liberal Conference which discussed the very problem pf VD was that it would be in the public interest and a public service would be done if prostitution were legalised. I wondered whether any of the young men taking part in this Conference would like to see their wives, sweethearts or sisters engaged ,in this illegal racket or whether they would have thought this to be such a great public service that it should be made a branch of the Public Service. I cannot see any Minister rushing in to become the minister for prostitution. This is the extreme to which the matter could be taken. When il read this I felt how bereft we are of moral standards if this is the only suggestion that could be brought forward as a remedy for the social evils in the community today.
Another conference was held in Perth last weekend. This was a conference of the Australian Democratic Labor Party. I read a Press report of that conference. 1 hope that I am not misquoting that Press report which stated that the conference expressed opposition to the setting up of British bases in Australia. This matter was given quite a big heading in the newspaper. I do not remember the same Party expressing any dissatisfaction at or any dispute with the setting up of American bases in Australia. I disagree very heartily with that view on this matter. I have been speaking of this matter at least since 1951. I have here photostat copies of all the questions that I have asked since 1951 on the building of a naval base on the western coast of Australia and more particularly at Cockburn Sound south of Fremantle. I have never claimed to bc a military or naval strategist. I am pleased to know .’.hat at last I have received support in my endeavours from those who are much better qualified that 1 am to know what is best in this matter of naval bases. In 1961 I directed a question to Senator Gorton about the British naval base ‘at Singapore. I suggested that the day might come when that base would pass out of British hands, and I referred to the necessity for setting up a base at Cockburn Sound. In reply Senator Gorton said:
The base is a British base and anything that may happen to it in the future is a matter for Britain and the country in which it is situated. Nothing has happened yet.
That is a terrific philosophy for a Minister to adopt, lt is the philosophy that was held by many before the last war in relation to Singapore. Nothing has happened yet, but when something does happen we want to be prepared. I hope that during my membership of the Senate something definite will be done in regard to the naval base at Cockburn Sound. The base was proved to be practicable. I hope, too, that when the naval base is established it will bc called the Henderson Naval Base because in about 1913 or 1914 Admiral Henderson first suggested that a base should be established there. He actually had the satisfaction of seeing a base started, but after the expenditure of almost £2m the work was stopped. The work that had been done remained as a reproach to those who were ignorant of what was necessary for the defence of Western Australia. Recently the channels leading to the naval base area were dynamited in order to make a passageway for big tankers to go through to Kwinana. I hope that from the investigation which we are told is being carried out, something much more tangible will come and that we will see a base established on the coast of Western Australia.
With regard to defence - and I am sorry I have not more time to discuss it now - the Australian Labor Party and I, as a member of that Party and in my own right as a citizen, will never regret one cent that is spent on defence as long as it is spent to the best advantage. I regret that in the Vietnam war the Australian people are depending on two classes of citizens to carry the whole burden for the community. Because of the vast expenditure on that war the Government is unable to grant an increase in pensions and, therefore, the aged, the infirm and the widowed are bearing a much greater proportion of the war burden than are other people in the community. The 20-year olds who do not have a voice in Parliament, are by means of the lottery system brought under national service regulations and drafted to fight in Vietnam. It is an indictment on the rest of us who can sit back in peace and security that these two very important and helpless sections of the community should have to fight our battles for us. I hope that within the lifetime of this Parliament peace will come to Vietnam and that a much more realistic approach to the defence of this nation will be envisaged by whichever Government is in power; so that the vast expenditure of money which has gone on now for so many years will not be .wasted but will make this country a secure place which can give to all its citizens the social justice that is their due. If there are any grains of comfort in this Budget I congratulate those who can find them but I regret very much that the most deserving sections of our community are left in a much worse plight than they were in before the Budget was brought down.
– A budget performs two main functions. It presents the amount of money which the government has received during the past twelve months and in addition sets out how that money was expended during the period. Using these factors as a base for calculations, it then endeavours to plan for the future. How correct this planning has been over the past years is shown by Australia’s sound economic growth. This sound economic growth has been achieved because the citizens of Australia are employed in useful and productive employment. Tpo often our friends in the Labor Party fail to realise that our work force must be gainfully employed if we are to pay for the ever increasing social services which the people demand. It is only because people are employed profitably and are able to pay their taxes that they can look after the less fortunate in the community. Too much nonsense has been talked about our ability to get money from here and from there and our ability to do this or that. The money must come firstly from the pockets of the workers. This can happen only if our men and women are profitably employed.
The Government is trying to restrict private spending. In other words, it is endeavouring to limit the amount of money taken from the pockets of the workers so that the workers may spend or invest their money in the best way. When that happens your revenue is spent wisely. This in turn creates the productive employment that we want in this country. Why has the LiberalCountry Party Government held office since 1949? It has done so simply because the men and women of Australia are confident that under this Government their future is assured. in the few minutes left to me I turn to the subject of defence, which Senator Tangney dealt with so well. I was rather inspired by some of her remraks. This year defence will cost in the vicinity of £1,1 18m. Because it is costing so much, or even if it cost only. $50, it is the function of honourable senators to see that the money is spent wisely and well. It is our function to see that this money is carefully expended. The people have to see that they get value for their money. Briefly, we are trustees. I know that the policy of the Labor Party on defence matters is one of indecision. Labor’s policy is unrealistic and is certainly not approved by the majority of the people of Australia. The last election proved this. . The Opposition fought the election on defence. The Opposition should not deceive itself. I have heard the Leader of the Opposition and others say this. I heard Senator Cavanagh say that the Opposition would fight the Government on this issue. The Opposition got the greatest hammering that they ever received.
Air Services in Papua and New Guinea
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
- Mr President, I know that speeches on the motion that the Senate do now adjourn are not particularly popular. But because of an unfortunate happening in this chamber yesterday, when I asked what I thought was a perfectly sensible question of the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton), who represents the Minister for Territories, and received a very facetious answer, 1 thought that the matter concerned ought to be exposed to a greater degree. 1 will remind honourable senators of the basis of my question yesterday. I asked:
In view of the fact that tourism in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea is essential for establishing economic viability, will the Minister inform the Senate why Ansett-MAL flight No. AL1667 ,on 26th July 1967 arrived in Madang approximately three hours late because the plane was delayed at an airport en route for the purpose of picking up two bulls and about 4 tons of beef? Will the Minister also advise whether the carrying of livestock, meat for human consumption and passengers together in this manner is in the interests of public health and hygiene?
I regret that the Minister adopted a facetious attitude when he answered. Firstly he became confused and thought my question referred to the Northern Territory, but when he was corrected, by way of interjection, he realised that I referred to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. This is what the Minister said:
The carriage of goods and people in aircraft in Australia is subject to regulations made by the Department of Civil Aviation. I have no indication from the honourable senator that the regulations were in any way breached in this connection, t would have no knowledge whether the aircraft picked up two bulls and a lot of beef, i If the honourable senator assures me that it did, then I take it that it did. I should have thought that the improvement of herds in Papua and New ‘Guinea was of considerable importance to that Territory. I do not know whether the honourable senator objects to that. In fact, 1 am not quite clear on what the objection is. ‘
The Minister went on in a similar ve n and asked for a more explicit question before he would give a more explicit answer. This was purely an avoidance of what was an important question to people who were travelling on that aircraft. It would be important to people who travel regularly as tourists to the Territory, and it would be important to the people living in the Territory as well as to a lot of Australians. I am afraid now that I have to extend this inquiry and to take in many other aspects of the case, because the matter has grown in depth since yesterday.
Firstly, perhaps we should emphasise the necessity of encouraging tourist activity in Papua and New Guinea, because this is of vital importance in building up that Territory’s internal economy. The Territory covers an area of 1,078,260 square miles, or more than one-third the size of Australia. It has a population of 2,205,000, including indigenes and Europeans. Total exports from the Territory are worth $49.8m, according to the latest statistics available, and total imports were valued at $ 1 10.4m. Australia’s share of the trade in the last financial year was at the ratio of almost two to one in favour of Australia. Therefore, if any member of the Government thinks that the Territory is an unimportant country then obviously he should do a little more thinking. Australia’s share in the Territory’s imports for this period was worth $62.4m. Australia’s share of its exports was worth only $23m.
The Budget allocation this year for the Territory is of the order of $77.6m, which is an increase on last year of, from memory, about $Sm. Expenditure of an aid character and by other Government departments will bring expenditure on the Territory to approximately $120m. There is some discrepancy in the Budget figures on this and I shall exploit that at a later stage.
– Not too much. Cut that out.
– I shall not worry the Minister with it tonight. The Government repeatedly states that a sound internal economy is essential so that the Territory of Papua and New Guinea may ultimately attain independence. This is a very important point, of course. Apart from the other industries that are conducted in the Territory, tourism is a very important activity. In 1964, as part of the build-up, or so the Government says, a decision was taken to create a dual wage system in the Public Service, with differentiation between expatriate and indigenous public servants. This brought in its train a whole series of problems that have not ceased to develop yet. In August 1966, the Administrator announced appointments to the Papua and New Guinea Tourist Board. I shall give you a list of these Board members, Mr President. You will see that, wisely or unwisely, the Administration chose men all of whom have been involved in internal trade in the Territory. Significantly also, most of them are very important in the business world in the Territory. If the Government and the
Administration thought it was worth while to establish a Tourist Board of this nature, obviously it is important also to encourage tourists to go to the Territory. I shall now give the names and addresses of the persons appointed to the Board, Mr President.
– I propose that they be incorporated in Hansard.
– That interjection is typical of the facetiousness of the Leader of the Government, who is not interested in what goes on in the Territory. He has about the same brain power as the Minister for Territories (Mr Barnes) has. The first name is that of Mr G. D. Cannon, of Port Moresby, who is a former Director of Trade and Industry. The second name is that of Mr D. N. Harvey, of Port Moresby, who is director of a company with extensive hotel interests. Another appointee is Mr H. K. Godfrey, of Port Moresby, who has interests in hotels and shipping services. Another appointee, also from Port Moresby, is Mr N. F. Maloney, who is President of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea Travel Association. Appointees front Lae are Captain L. J. Thrift and Mr A. N. Barsch an airline executive. Another appointee is Mr Stephenson Fox, of Goroka, a chartered accountant, who also is associated with the Territory of Papua and New Guinea Travel Association and with the local Chamber of Commerce. Also from Goroka is Mr R. H. Gibbes, a former airline operator and planter who now has extensive motel interests. Another appointee is Mr Jon Bastow, of Madang, who is a motel proprietor and President of the local Chamber of Commerce. An appointee from Maprik is Mr Ulisimbi Sumbia, who is President of the Local Government Council there. He and Mr Vin Tobaining. of Rabaul, who is President of the Gazelle Peninsula Local Government Council, are the only two indigenous people that the Administration saw fit to appoint to the Board. The remaining appointee is Mr S. G. C. Simpson, also of Rabaul, who is a local businessman and a former newspaper editor.
I have something to say about why indigenous persons were not appointed to the Board in greater numbers. This Board will plan the conduct of the tourist industry in the Territory for a long time to come. A group of companies that have consistently made huge profits from trading, planting, transport and hotels, particularly in recent years, according to a representative to whom I talked two or three years ago, is pouring its profits back into the Territory. It is, to the extent of about 25% of the total profits of the group. But it is putting most of these profits into the building of taverns. These provide no accommodation but make larger quantities of liquor more readily available to local people and earn substantial profits for this group of companies and others that indulge in this sort of activity. It is obvious that the people responsible for the conduct of the Administration, in many instances, and also their friends, intend to break the Territory commercially before they have to get out - either because the local people force them out or because the wheel will turn and independence will come.
The establishment of the Papua and New Guinea Development Bank was heralded by this Government with much banging of drums. It was supposed to be a major factor in the development of the Territory. Let us look at the people who were appointed to the first board. The managing director was one L. K. Cameron, formerly a senior executive with the Bank of New South Wales in Sydney. Then there were Sir John Crawford, who at that time was ViceChancellor elect of the Australian National University; Mr C. T. Looker, ViceChairman of the Melbourne Stock Exchange and Mr G. Warwick-Smith, Secretary of the Department of Territories. They were the Australian directors.
The Territory directors were Mr K. James, a business man from Goroka; Mr H. T. Kienzle, a man with extensive interests in the fields of transport, primary production and development in Papua; Mr R. N. Warner-Shand. a barrister and solicitor with many other associations in the commercial life of Rabaul; and Mr Newman who was Treasurer in the New Guinea House of Assembly. A fantastic concession was then made to the people whose skin is not white like that of members pf the Government. To this Board were appointed Mr Rarua, Secretary of the Federation of Co-operatives, and Vice-President of the Fairfax Local Government Council, and Mr Tibu who is associated with indigenous agriculture on the island of New Britain.
The principle on which the bank was established was probably quite good but in fact things have not worked out in that way. If a person is big time in the commercial world he can get financial assistance from the Development Bank. If he is not bigtime, and particularly if he is an indigene trying to establish a small business, he may as well whistle for his money because he will not get any from the Development Bank or, if he does, it will be merely a token sum. This is something which should be investigated by the Government. One of the reasons why the Bank was established was to assist small local industries-at least that was reported to be one of the reasons for its establishment. It was to be a new source of credit for producers in agriculture, for pastoral industry for forestry undertakings, for manufacturing industry, for transport and, honorable senators will never guess, for tourism, too.
The ‘Pacific Post’ of 23rd August 1965 carried an article written by Jack McCarthy, at that time a columnist with the newspaper, following a general discussion on an, expansion of airlines in New Guinea. The. article said, in part:
Larger aircraft, more staff, better facilities and increased operational equipment are urgently required.
Ansett-MAL has the monopoly and, from my travels in the Territory, I can s;ay that it could not care less about the comfort of passengers or the development of the Territory. All it is interested in is making a quid.
In an effort to obtain some kind pf sane answer to these questions I contacted the Department of Civil Aviation to see who carried the responsibility for air transport in New Guinea. I was told very courteously and without any hesitation that it was the Department of Civil Aviation. I then asked whom I would have to approach to find out what sort of supervision there was of health regulations and I was told that I would have to approach the Department of Health. I did so and was assured that the Department of Health supervised quarantine in respect of planes travelling to Australia but that it had no control over movements within the Territory. I next approached the Department of Territories and a very decent type of official, a most courteous man, told me that unfortunately he could not give me any information because inquiries of this kind had to be made through the Minister. That was one of the most stupid things I had ever heard in my life. Here were government departments on which millions of dollars were being expended each year and a responsible official was not able to give information of a very simple kind. It would have been different if my question had related to a matter of high government policy. It is not.
– What was the Information the honourable senator visited to have?
– It was not the bloke the honourable senator met in Samarai anyhow, I sought information of a very reasonable nature. I acted ultimately through the Minister’s office. I did this at 5.20 this afternoon, and I was admonished by a member of the Minister’s staff for trying to get information in this manner. What sort of a secret society is the Department of Territories? Is there something that it is afraid will get out? Is there something that the public should not know about? When I said: ‘What about this information?’ I was told: ‘You will have to go back to the Department of Civil Aviation.’
– What was the information?
– If the honourable senator will listen carefully without interjecting I will tell him. I wanted to know which department or group of people in the Territory was responsible for health administration as it affected aircraft. I believe the Department of Territories has adopted a most irresponsible attitude in relation to this matter. Let me put this matter again to the Minister representing the Minister for Territories. He did not appear very worried about the matter when he answered the question yesterday. But suppose he boarded a Boeing 727 or a DC9 at Melbourne and suppose the aircraft touched down at Albury. Then let us picture the situation if he happened to be left there for three hours or so while his plane was taken to the back country to load some cattle or three or four tons of beef. Nobody tells him why the aircraft is delayed there; it just goes off into the blue. There is no facility for meals and he gets no information. Then it arrives back three hours later.
After a lot of trouble the crew offload the stock and throw out the beef. Apparently there are no health regulations at all. Perhaps the Minister would like a rump steak from that beef to be served up to him in the Parliamentary dining room.
This is a matter of great importance to the people involved and I make this plea on their behalf. The health regulations were observed; a broom was swept over the floor of the plane before the passengers were loaded again. Two of the passengers were never told that any delay would occur. They were allowed to sit for three or four hours at the aerodrome and were not told that there would bc any delay. I make this appeal to the Minister representing the Minister for Territories. I ask him to adopt a responsible attitude and to sec that the right answer is provided for these aggrieved people. We should ensure that the tourist industry at least is one that we can build up, and this can be done as long as the Government is prepared to do something about it.
– I do not think I have ever heard a more ridiculous rodomontade hung on a more half-baked question. We have heard a whole lot of nonsense about people belonging to various tourist organisations in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. I have not heard any objection to the people concerned. We have a list of the people and they seem a sensible lot. There are people concerned with the Development Bank, for heaven’s sake. There does not seem to be any objection to their belonging to the Development Bank, but what has all this developed from? Some aircraft on an unspecified flight at an unspecified time in Papua and New Guinea arrived some hours late. This is most interesting if one examines the original question, because it was so half-baked and ill-conceived. We were told about some aircraft. A flight number was given but that was all. We were told that it arrived three hours late because it picked up 2 tons of meat and two bulls on the way up. Really, Mr President! We were not told what sort of aircraft it was or what sort of flight it was. It all sounds like something to me, but I will not say what. As I say, we were not told what sort of aircraft it was, but after all we are reasonably intelligent people. We have listened to what the honourable senator had to say. He said that the aircraft took on 2 tons of meat. We know that that equals 4,480 lb of meat.
– lt is a lot of bull.
– We shall leave the bulls aside at the moment. They are coming in later. I am dealing just with the meat, not the meat on the hoof. A man weighing 200 lb is a pretty fair size, so that 2 tons of meat is the equivalent of about twenty-five men. The honourable senator did not tell us what the bulls weighed, but a reasonably sized bull weighs about 1,000 lb. Therefore (he weight of the two bulls was the equivalent of another twenty men. The 2 tons of meat and the two bulls were therefore equivalent to about forty-five men. How many other passengers were on that aircraft? Really, I cannot go on any longer to answer the question.
– 1 think that Senator Gorton is a reasonable man and I suggest that he was entitled to draw attention to the fact that Senator Keeffe’s remarks were at least inchoate. Words just babbled OUt of his mouth like a torrent in New Guinea. We could not discern the molecules of the water and were simply aware that there was a lot of water pouring out like a mountain stream. There was no sense or rhynie in it, but some flotsam and jetsam have emerged from it. The first factor that impinged on my mind - and I think it must impinge on the minds of all honourable senators here at this late hour tonight - was the resentment of this true Socialist, who is President of the Socialist party in Australia, at having to travel with a couple of bulls - animals. There is no equality involved in that, lt is a denigration of Socialist equality. Tt is quite clearly inequality. But we will not go into these genetic terms. The next thing I discovered from his inchoate remarks was that not only does he dislike travelling with a couple of bulls, but he also resists travelling with hundreds of pounds of meat. The meat was being directed to feed the poor people of Papua and New Guinea and he does not believe in travelling in an aircraft in which food is being provided for the poor people of Papua and New Guinea, whether white or black.
Surely the people of Papua and New Guinea, having moved out of the era of cannibalism in the last twenty or thirty years, are entitled to get meat by whatever means are available, and to eat it. An aircraft provides one means of transporting it. But I detected something infinitely worse in the honourable senator’s remarks - a resentment at having to travel with native people; that is at the bottom of it. It is all nonsense about tourism. The fact is that he does not like travelling with native people ,in an aircraft to Papua and New Guinea.
– Mr President, I object and I ask for a withdrawal of the statement made by Senator Cormack. At no point in my speech did I say that I resented travelling with native people, nor did anybody else say that. It has nothing to do with the story.
– If the honourable senator claims to have been misrepresented I will give him a chance to reply.
– I did not say that evidently it was clear that the honourable senator resented travelling with native people. I said that clearly it was to ‘be inferred from his remarks that he disliked travelling with native people. He suggested that this was some disability in attracting tourists to Papua and New Guinea because they would have to travel with native people. This is the clear inference to be drawn from his remarks and it illustrates in the most perfect way that in Socialism there is no equality. If I may say so. Mr President, I know that you are a patient man. and you will allow me to say that in Socialism there is only inbuilt inequality. The tsars of Socialism must travel in VIP aircraft and the idea that the native people of Papua and New Guinea should join them, although Australia spends millions of dollars a year in order to provide subsidised rales for indigenous passengers in Papua and New Guinea, is something to be frowned upon. Someone like Senator Keeffe has to travel in the highest order of Socialist inequality. This is what he is arguing about. I suggest (hat the Australian people have learned that nobody believes more in inequality than a true Socialist. I suggest that a ‘perfect example of a true Socialist in Australia is the President of the Australian Labor Party.
The next thing I want to object to concerns the extraordinary method by which Senator Keeffe introduces debating topics into this Senate. He does not say that Mr so-and-so and Mr so-and-so of the Development Bank are bad people. They are bad people in his opinion because they are members of the Development Bank and they have something to do with what he describes as the ‘brutal capitalist system’. Because someone in Melbourne is a member of the Development Bank it means he is no good because he belongs to Sir Ian Potter’s partnership. The honourable senator considers that Mr Warwick Smith is a bad man because he is identified in his book as a capitalist. However, the story he is not willing to admit is that in New Guinea you cannot get a developed society unless there are people who understand development problems and the finances that relate to it. I feel desperately sorry to have to get to my feet tonight to reply to Senator Keeffe. Honourable senators on this side of the chamber are desperately sorry that I am forced to my feet tonight to reply to Senator Keeffe because his arguments are a tissue of inchoate statements which are characteristic of him. These statements are not supported by any evidence but are a series of allegations based on hatred and nothing else. What we have to have in Papua and New Guinea is an honest Australian approach to this problem. It has been amply demonstrated that Senator Keeffe, if he had any honesty at all, would recognise that senators on this side of the chamber have no problems about getting on an aircraft. I have had to travel from Wewak to Goroka.
– I rise to order.
– Cannot the honourable senator take it?
– I can take it but I do not wish to be misrepresented in the manner that Senator Cormack is misrepresenting me. I ask for a withdrawal of his statement and of Senator Henty’s statement.
– I rise to order, Mr President. Senator Cormack, referring to Senator Keeffe, said ‘if he had any honesty at all’. I would suggest that that is a most offensive remark. Senator Keeffe has asked for a withdrawal and that should be made.
– I am quite willing in the normal semantic circumstances in which we normally find ourselves to withdraw the statement ‘if he had any honesty at all’.
– The honourable senator will withdraw that statement without qualification.
– -I will withdraw it without qualification. I will now embark on the double standard in which words arc used in the Socialist context. There are words having different meanings accordingly to the ideology which one supports and sustains. I hope that you will not disapprove of my going on with this argument, Mr President. I just want to illustrate the problems that exist in New Guinea. A year or so ago I travelled from Wewak to Goroka.
– Not on a bull?
– No. Speaking in semantic terms, there may have been a couple of bulls on board. I was the single white passenger on a DC3 from Wewak to Goroka. On board also there was an indigenous policeman with his two wives together with four children and three cats and six dogs which were wrapped up in sacks. I did not come back to this Parliament and complain that I had been put on a DC3 aircraft of Mandated Airlines Ltd. Senator Keeffe complains because he got on an aircraft with two bulls and 400 lb of beef.
I believe in an egalitarian society, as do all honourable senators on this side of the Senate. We believe that all men are equal, wherever they are, and that all women are equal, wherever they are. I have no objection to travelling on a DC3 aircraft from Wewak to Goroka with an indigenous policeman, his two wives, six cats, four dogs and whatever else it is. I do not get up and complain about it, but this deadly Socialist, the President of the Australian Socialist party - they call themselves the Australian Labor Party, Mr President - complains that he has to get on an aircraft with two bulls and 400 lb of beef. There is no egalitarianism in the Socialist party at all. Its members do not believe that all people are equal. They believe that some are more equal than others. Senator Keeffe believes that he is far more equal than the people of Papua and New Guinea. I think that this is a dreadful statement. I think that the Senate is being disgraced by having to sit and listen for 20 minutes to Senator Keeffe.
As President of this chamber you must agree with me that the standard and integrity of the Senate have not been sustained by Senator Keeffe this’evening.
– Mr President, 1 wish to make a personal explanation. I have been badly misrepresented by Senator Cormack in his babbling approach to this problem. Perhaps he did not hear the first part of the discussion. First of all, 1 want it to be clearly understood that at no time was I on the plane referred to. I am not making any objection from a personal angle but I do represent other people who travelled on this plane, including two very prominent Australian citizens who would probably subscribe to the political thinking of Senator Cormack. That is their democratic right in this country. The other point is that he implied that I would not travel on a plane with indigenes. I would like to-
– Order! The honourable senator may clear up a misrepresentation by making a personal explanation, but he must not introduce other matter.
– Mr President, I. am not trying to introduce new matter. Senator Cormack said that this was one of my objections. I have never made such an objection. I have more friends among Papuans and New Guineans than I have among members of the Liberal Party.
– Like Senator Cormack, I am desperately sorry to have to rise at this time of night on this question but unless a few more words are added we will go away feeling that we have had a humorous exercise, forgetting the substance of the complaint that was made. If we examine the complaint we see that there is a lot of merit in it, and that injustice was done to a senator who wanted certain information. There were two issues involved in Senator Keeffe’s question. One was the method of treating tourists in Papua and New Guinea, with a delay of three hours and then having to travel with beef and bullocks.
– Well, bulls. I am not in that area and I do not know the difference. I am trying to take the humour out of the matter. Honourable senators opposite want to pass it off lightly because of the attitude of the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton) who was not prepared to answer a question decently when a senator wanted information. We simply do not get over it by laughing at the question. Senator Keeffe came along seeking valid information for the purpose of improving the service from the point of view of both tourism and health in that area. He was laughed off by the Minister because the subject matter of his complaint happened to include bulls. There were two points involved. One was that this kind of thing did not encourage tourists to visit New Guinea, although it is the responsibility of the Government, particularly of the Minister for Territories (Mr Barnes), to encourage the development of tourism The delay referred to and the mode of travelling described were such as not to assist the Government in developing tourism.
The other question amplified tonight related to health. Irrespective of whether one likes travelling with bulls, the important question is whether there is a risk to health in travelling with live cattle and with meat in a passenger plane. Senator Keeffe tried to find out from the authorities in New Guinea who was responsible for dealing with matters relating to health in’ that area. He was unable to find out. Therefore, in his question to the Minister, he gave the flight number and the number of the plane in question. He was concerned with the promotion of tourism and with safeguarding the health of not only the tourists but also the indigenous people of New Guinea. When he asked the question, he was laughed to scorn. Again tonight the Minister attempted to be humorous instead of giving a serious reply to a legitimate complaint.
Because of something which apparently Senator Cormack had been told by someone whom he had met somewhere else, he too thought that he must launch an attack on Senator Keeffe and all that Senator Keeffe stands for. I remind the Senate that Senator Keeffe has risen to prominence as President of a great Socialist party and he ‘has no apology to offer for that. As President of that great Socialist party, he does not believe in class distinction and he holds no racial prejudices against the indigenous people of Papua and New Guinea or anybody else.
At no time was Senator Keeffe on the aircraft in question. He is concerned only with promoting tourism in New Guinea and protecting the health of those who use the air services up there. After all, these matters are the responsibility of this Government. Let us hope that next time we ask responsible Ministers serious questions we will be given responsible answers.
– It is clear that this matter has its humorous side; but it also has its serious side and that serious side has not received proper recognition from the Minister for Education and Science (Senator Gorton). It is deserving of proper treatment. Senator Keeffe has raised a legitimate complaint, obviously on behalf of people who have complained of their treatment. He has suggested that the tourist industry is being prejudiced and that health standards are not being properly observed. These matters are deserving of serious treatment by the Minister but they have not been given such treatment. There is no reason whatever for any honourable senator on the Government side to speak disparagingly of another honourable senator who raises questions on behalf of others and in the national interest.
Senator Cormack is deserving of censure for attempting to belittle Senator Keeffe who is President of the Australian Labor Party - the Party which has most members in this chamber. Senator Keeffe does not deserve the treatment he has received. If Senator Cormack or any other Government senator intends to continue with the process of personal belittlement of members of the Opposition which has apparently begun in the last few days, evidently as part of a preelection campaign, then he must understand that he will be treated in kind.
We hope that the business of the Senate will not be conducted in this fashion, and we do not intend to tolerate this kind of unnecessary personal belittlement. I hope it will end.
-I admit that the debate has had its humorous side, but now I want to bring it back on to the rails as the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) has done, and be serious. If Senator Keeffe will provide in writing the details of his complaint, such as the date on which the incident occurred, the identification of the aircraft and whether it was a passenger plane, we will see whether we can get the information that he seeks.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.41 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 23 August 1967, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1967/19670823_senate_26_s35/>.