26th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMuIlin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Senator CORMACK presented a petition from 545 citizens who attended a protest meeting of dairy farmers at Shepparton on 25th September 1968 praying that the Government will take certain action to assist the dairying industry.
Petition received and read.
– ] direct to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation a question relating to the Viscount aircraft emergency over Sydney airport recently. Why was it necessary for the Viscount involved to take 3 hours to reduce its fuel load? Was this not an unnecessary and dangerous delay?
– It is not possible for a Viscount airliner to discharge its fuel while in flight. Therefore, the captain of the aircraft had to decide whether to land immediately or to fly the aircraft for the period mentioned by the honourable senator until the fuel was low enough to make the landing safer. The captain was in continual contact with base all the time the trouble was occurring.
– Is the MinisterinCharge of: Tourist Activities aware that the Executive Director of the Pacific Area Travel Association, Mr Plake, dropped into Australia recently, looking for ideas for the promotion of tourism in this area? Has the Minister been informed of just what Mr Plake’s ideas are for exploiting our Australian tourist image? Are there any worthwhile suggested ways in which we might hope to detain overseas tourists in Australia for longer periods than the present average stay of 10 days, and thus increase their spending period with mutual advantage?
– I have seen the reference that was made in the ‘Age’ newspaper to the visit of the American tourist expert to whom Senator Buttfield referred. He made the interesting suggestion that Australia should look to building a whole new major resort on the Great Barrier Reef. He coupled that suggestion with a suggestion that tourists would be looking for underwater restaurants and such places of entertainment. He also made an interesting reference to the potential of Ayers Rock. I am glad to inform the Senate that the Great Barrier Reef, from the tourist angle, has been under my consideration not only intensively for 3 hours yesterday but for the last 2 months. It has been the subject of representations to the Government by Mr Busst, whose views are publicised widely in today’s ‘Canberra Times’. I am also glad to say that the Ayers Rock area has been the subject of close consideration and that this very week representatives of the Northern Territory Reserves Board, a representative of the Australian Tourist Commission and a visiting American expert who was responsible in part for the Harris, Kerr, Forster and Co. report in 1965 are actually in the area, making a preliminary assessment of its potentialities.
– Is the Minister representing the Postmaster-General aware that as a consequence of the so-called streamlining of the Postal Department a letter posted at Castle Forbes Bay or Port Huon in the Huon district takes up to 3 days to reach Geeveston, which is about 3 miles away? Is she aware that letters awaiting dispatch from Port Huon to Hobart remain at Port Huon for most of the day and by the time they reach Hobart they are too late to catch the return mail lo Geeveston?
– I personally am not aware of the matters that the honourable senator has placed before the Senate, but I will inform my colleague, the Postmaster-General, of the comments that he has expressed today.
– I preface my question, which is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, by saying that he will know of my deep and continuing desire for the proper and widespread honouring of Australian Day.
Will he draw the attention of the Minister for the Interior to a complaint from Mr W. R. McFerran, the Chairman of the National Australia Day Committee of the Australian Association of Advertising Agencies, as published in today’s Sydney ‘Daily Telegraph’, that the Australian Government did not stir itself to arrange some fitting celebration of our national day in Canberra?
– 1 know of the honourable senator’s deep interest in matters related to Australian historical events and of his deep concern at nothing happening to celebrate Australia Day and the founding of Australia about 180 years ago. I will take up with the Minister for the Interior the matter raised by the honourable senator and obtain a detailed reply from the Minister.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science seen a report in today’s Melbourne Age’ of a joint announcement by the Melbourne, Monash and La Trobe universities to the effect that 2,306 qualified students were turned away from those three universities this year because of quotas? It was also stated that this year’s quotas had been fixed by the three universities on the basis of the staff and physical resources available to them. I ask the Minister: Does he not agree that the exclusion of matriculated students is a denial of educational opportunity and an obvious waste of talent and potential1? Does he not agree also that the Commonwealth Government should take all possible steps, financial and otherwise, in co-operation with the States and the universities to hasten the time when we can do without quotas in our institutions of higher learning?
– My attention has been directed to the news item to which the honourable senator has referred. The University of Melbourne has confirmed the figures that appeared in the ‘Age’. I understand that the full facts are that 10,511 qualified students applied for admission to the three universities and that 8,205 were offered a place by one or other of them. Of those offered a place 1,893, or 23%, declined. My advice is that it could be assumed therefore that of the 2,306 not offered a place at least 23% would have declined. 1 am well aware of Senator Cohen’s constant advocacy that quotas should cease to apply. Everyone recognises that while quotas apply some students with potential for education are not able to partake of the educational opportunities that are available, but I think that on balance the honourable senator would be the first to give credit for the efforts that have been made under Commonwealth initiative over the past 7 or 8 years and for the tremendously expanding university opportunities that have been made available in this country.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science inform the Senate how the Government plans to assist in the provision of libraries in secondary schools in Australia? In what, way and amongst what schools will the Commonwealth assistance be distributed?
– The new Commonwealth 3-year programme to provide $27m for secondary school libraries has got under way in that a committee has been set up to consider the best way in which that sum of money should be made available. I will not take the time of the Senate to indicate the personnel of the committee but I am sure, Mr President, you would permit me to state that I note with satisfaction that Mr P. W. Hughes, the Deputy Director of Education in Tasmania, is a member of the committee. The personnel of the committee come from all sections of the education community in Australia. The vote is to be distributed as follows: New South Wales will receive $9.9m, Victoria $7.5m, Queensland $3.9m, South Australia $2.5m, Western Australia $2m and Tasmania $.87m.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry. What quantities of processed potatoes have been imported into Australia for the years 1965-66, 1966-67 and 1967-68? Is it the Minister’s intention to allow increased quantities of processed potatoes to be imported? If so, what will be the extent of the increase?
– I will seek the information for the honourable senator. I hope to get a prompt reply.
– Order! I ask honourable senators who have questions that seek a good deal of information to put them on the notice paper. It is much better to adopt that practice.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Territories. What is the approximate percentage of the inflow of investment in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea which comes from sources other than Australia? What steps are being taken to encourage foreign investment in the Territory in the interests of the rapid development of the area?
– In order to ensure reasonable accuracy on that matter, I should be obliged if my colleague would put the question on the notice paper.
– I address a question to the Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities. Will the Minister confer with State Ministers for Highways with a view to prevailing upon them to banish car junk yards from State highways, with particular attention in New South Wales to one such eyesore on the Princes Highway between Wollongong and Kiama?
– 1 can inform the honourable senator that this matter was the subject of discussion al the last meeting of the Australian Tourist Commission in Sydney about a fortnight ago. One suggestion made was that a nation-wide competition between towns,, to be called the Tidy Town’ campaign, following the example of Western Australia, should be instituted. We are well aware of the need to remove from our highways these unsightly scrap heaps as well as litter and beer bottles, and we arc hoping that the whole community, particularly those organisations which are formed for community benefit, such as Rotary, Lions, Jaycees and tourist associations, will co-operate in this very worthy endeavour.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, ls it a fact that the Postmaster-General intends to reduce postal services to one delivery a day? Is it also a fact that most of these deliveries are done by postmen on push bikes? Will the Minister take up with her colleague the possibility of motorising these services in the hope of retaining the twice daily service which we now have?
– [ can assure the honourable senator that whatever decision the Postmaster-General has made concerning this matter will have been made only after very deep consideration. But 1 shall place before the PostmasterGeneral the point which has been raised by the honourable senator.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. Has the Minister seen the report of an announcement by the British Government that it will pay $53m for cancelling its order for 50 Fill fighter bombers, making a total of $430m, indicating a slip twixt the drawing board and the Air Board? Does not this indicate also that on proper evaluation of the aircraft the British Government has decided to cancel the order for the FI 1 1 rather than have to carry the consequences of relying on this type of aircraft for its front line of defence? In view of the decision of the Boeing aircraft organisation to abandon the swing wing concept and the ever recurring problems encountered with the Fill aircraft, should not the Australian Government help the United States Government to make up its mind to modify the FI 1 1 to a fixed wing type and so end the agonising doubt as to whether or not the swing wing theory is fundamentally unsound?
– I did see a Press statement in which the figure of $53m was mentioned as being paid by the British Government for the cancellation of a contract. In the remainder of his question, the honourable senator makes the assumption that any cancellation of the order is related to the quality, the performance or the role of the particular aircraft. This part of his question is hypothetical. The United Kingdom Government’s decision to alter the contract could very properly be related to a change from the defence role which it had at one particular stage of history. It could well be related to a change in the role intended for the defence forces of that country. Therefore I suspect that the suggestions made by the honourable senator in the balance of his question are based on his own personal assumptions. For that reason I do not think that that part of the question requires an answer from me. As to Australia’s acquisition of the Fill, this has been the subject of debate and of questions in this chamber and in other places and I merely wish to say that the Government is satisfied that the Fill will play a very important and essential part in the defence of this country.
– I desire lo ask the Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities a question. I am prompted to do so by his answer to a question asked a short time ago by Senator Mulvihill. The Minister said that he and State Ministers had discussed the question of a clean up in various towns, particularly those on main highways. He mentioned bottles and cans. I ask: Will he discuss with his colleagues, the State Ministers, the question of banning the use of bottles known as tubbies?
– That shows that at least I am not a drinker.
– What 1 stated earlier was that my discussion a fortnight ago was with members of the Australian Tourist Commission. I will be attending a meeting of State Tourist Ministers in Hobart in November. It is our purpose then to discuss an anti-litter campaign and I will be very pleased to discuss the banning of stubbies. Any honourable senator who has visited Darwin would no doubt readily invite me to ask the Minister for the Interior to give attention to the 5 miles of roadway leading into Darwin, which is a special victim of the vandal who throws out stubbies on both sides of the roadway. This practice presents great danger to people using the highway and results in a sight that is offensive to everybody who travels on the highway.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Army. The Minister previously announced that the Government will pay to ex-gunner Newman the sum of $2,300. Does that amount constitute the wages that would have been paid to Mr Newman had he not served about 8 months imprisonment? Does the Government intend to make any further payment to him as compensation for wrongful imprisonment? Is it a fact that the Courts Martial Appeal Tribunal said, inter alia, that the seven officers who tried Gunner Newman had relied on suspicion, conjecture and guesses at the truth to confirm not their judgment but their prejudices?
– In answer to the last part of the question, I say that I have no knowledge of the circumstances outlined by the honourable senator. Regarding the payment, my understanding is that the amount paid to ex-gunner Newman was the amount due to him by way of back pay. I am not in a position to state whether or not it is intended to make any further payment to him.
– I ask a supplementary question addressed lo the Minister.inCharge of Tourist Activities and, 1 almost added, anti-litter. Would there be much benefit to the tourist industry by improving the tidiness of Australian roads if a certain type of bottle were banned? Is it not the bottle that has contained the liquid that has been consumed that is thrown away regardless of its shape, make or nickname?
– 1 do not wish to bc cast in the role of the scavenger of highways and I do not wish to assume any expert knowledge as to type of beer bottles. One thing I have noticed is that stubbies seem to be the favourite projectile thrown from motor cars by beer drinkers. Other bottles seem not to be used so much in that way
– My question, which is directed to the Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities, relates to facilities at Ayers Rock. In view of the regular floodings that hold up hundreds of people who visit Ayers Rock by road or air, including many school children on holiday, I ask: What is being done to provide all-weather roads and airport facilities at Ayers Rock?
– I am happy to say that road connections between Ayers Rock, Alice Springs and the other important centres in Australia - not overlooking Adelaide - are receiving continuous, purposeful attention at the present time. This matter, which is of importance to tourism, is also of concern to the Department of Works. The honourable senator will no doubt understand the immense problem that is posed in providing proper roads in the district so as to make Ayers Rock accessible to people who wish to visit the area.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. I ask: Did the Minister for Defence make the statement he is reported to have made, that future wars in which Australia might be involved would probably be Vietnam type wars of national liberation? Are we to assume that Australia will continue to wage wars against people who seek to improve their economic position and to attain independence and freedom from oppression? Does the Minister consider that such a statement prejudices world opinion of Australia as a freedom loving nation?
– The honourable senator asked whether the Minister for Defence had made a certain statement and then proceeded to give a dissertation of his views on defence. I presume that he is asking me a question as Minister representing the Minister for Defence.
– You should answer it.
– I will answer the honourable senator’s question in my own fashion. The point I wish to make is that I am not aware of the statement attributed to the Minister for Defence. If he did make that statement I accept it as an appropriate statement to make. Australia’s attitude to the war in Vietnam is well known, lt has been debated in this chamber on many occasions. The Government believes that Australia’s contribution lo world peace - and peace in Asia - is built into the actions and decisions that have been taken by Australia. The Government believes that Australia is making a very real contribution to peace in Asia, to the protection of South Vietnam and, indeed, to the protection of a people who want only peace and freedom but are not being allowed to have them because of Communist and North Vietnamese infiltration.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. I refer to the recent reports from West Irian of a seriously deteriorating economic situation, suppression of dissident movements and outbreaks of violence. In view of the importance of stability in West Irian to Australia’s security, I ask: What action is the Australian Government taking to ensure that the undertaking given to the United Nations by the Indonesian Government at the time West Irian left the Dutch Empire and was ceded to Indonesia, that an assessment would be made of public opinion within West Irian either by plebiscite or otherwise before the final transfer of sovereignty over West Irian to the Republic of Indonesia, is carried out at some time within the prescribed period as set out in the undertaking?
– As the honourable senator will appreciate, Indonesia is one of Australia’s neighbours. We are at peace wilh and are friends of Indonesia. Therefore, at question time it would be inappropriate to attempt to answer a question of the nature asked by the honourable senator, f suggest that he put it on the notice paper. I will then obtain a considered reply from the Minister for External Affairs, who speaks on behalf of the Government on these matters.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Supply. Why is the Government closing down the canvas section of its clothing factory at Brunswick, in Victoria? What is being done to ensure employment for the displaced workers, as requested by the Victorian branch of the Australian Leather and Allied Trades Employees Federation, which represents them?
– My understanding is that, in broad outline, the decision to close the canvas section of the government clothing factory was taken as far back as the end of 1965 or early 1966, when the Government decided to replace and to rebuild the existing clothing factory. After consideration it was decided that it was hardly appropriate for the Government to continue its role in the canvas section and that progressively that section should move into the hands of private industry. When the decision was taken private industry said that the employees so affected would bc offered the opportunity of employment.
In July 1967 the then Minister for Supply agreed that the canvas production be transferred to private industry, subject to industry demonstrating its capacity and willingness to undertake the work. That has been demonstrated quite clearly. I deal now with that aspect of the question which relates to the position of the employees. I have before me a memorandum dated 10th September 1968, which states-.
The work force at the Brunswick factory engaged in canvasware manufacture is about 100.
It will be necessary to reduce male staff strength by fifty-five by Easter 1969 - mainly machinists and sailmakers. Employees have been advised and the retrenchment programme has been discussed with union officials. Twenty-nine will be retrenched on 20th December 1968 and the remaining reduction will be made by Easter 1969. Retrenchment may not be necessary in every case; for example, efforts will be made to find alternative employment in the new factory for older employees who would have difficulty in finding work in industry. Also two are due to retire by Easter 1969.
Generally, however, no difficulties are expected in regard to surplus employees finding suitable alternative work, particularly as industry has stated that it will need additional skilled labour.
The clothing factory is always short of skilled labour and the labour turnover is about 25% per annum. This alone should account for many of the employees during the phasing out period.
All of the female staff will be retained either in cap production or in other clothing factory functions.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry. Is the Minister aware that in the 6 months to the end of August 1968 about 24 million super feet of New Zealand timber reached Aus tralia? Is he aware that prior to the signing of the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement only 15 million super feet of New Zealand timber arrived in Australia in each previous period of 6 months? Is the Minister aware that in addition to the increase of New Zealand timber into Australia there has been an increase of approximately 1 1 million super feet in the importation of Douglas fir from North America? In the light of such increased timber imports, will the Minister take action to reduce imports to a level that will not aggravate the oversupplied Australian timber market which, in turn, has a detrimental effect on the marketing of Tasmanian timber on mainland markets?
– The honourable senator has asked a series of questions in relation to the entry into Australia of both New Zealand and North American timber. The question is a fairly comprehensive one. I ask. the honourable senator to put it on notice so that I can obtain a reply from the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation give the Senate any information on the introduction of jet services to the northern areas of Western Australia? Is the Department of Civil Aviation willing to provide airstrips to accommodate jet aircraft if the services of such aircraft were offered?
– We all know the problems associated with jet services to outback areas of Australia. The provision of suitable runways involves very large sums of money. The Minister is well aware of the problems and is actively pursuing solutions to them. I think it is preferable at this stage for the honourable senator to place his question on the notice paper and I will get a detailed answer for him.
– Can the Leader of the Government in the Senate advise whether any Commonwealth finance has been claimed by the Queensland Government for the construction of incinerators at Queensland ports? If so, what amount of finance was granted to Queensland?
– I shall seek the information requested by the honourable senator. I rather suspect that this matter comes within the portfolio of the Minister for Shipping and Transport. In any event, I shall find out where the information is to be obtained and will make it available to the honourable senator.
– J direct my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, ls the Minister aware that the Prime Minister has been credited by the Melbourne ‘Age’ with the ability to act with commando-like speed and secrecy? Will he ascertain whether the Prime Minister will use this skill to bring to a quick end our involvement in the war in Vietnam?
– We are indebted to the honourable senator for making known to us a side of the Prime Minister’s character which we should all acknowledge with admiration. Not only has the Prime Minister great skill, efficiency and speed, but he is also completely competent and the proper Prime Minister for Australia at present and for a long time to come. The honourable senator has related the qualities of the Prime Minister to the Government’s policy on our involvement in Vietnam. I have already stated Australia’s views, as I understand them, in relation to our participation in the war in Vietnam.
– My question, which 1 direct to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, refers to an article headed ‘The “Lost Two Hours’” in the Canberra Times’ of 12th October. Will the Minister use bis good offices to arrange for consultations between representatives of the eastern States and South Australia to see whether there is any area of agreement between arguments in favour of central standard time and arguments in favour of eastern standard time, with particular emphasis on a compromise of 15 minutes each way rather than complete adoption of eastern standard time?
– The subject of variations in Australian time standards is not new. It has been discussed before in the Senate. I recall that some years ago Senator
Laught raised the matter during a debate on the Estimates, lt is my understanding that this subject should be dealt with at Commonwealth level at a conference with Premiers of the States. I ask the honourable senator to place his question on the notice paper so that I may have it referred to the Prime Minister for comment. The whole question of time standards has implications which go beyond State borders. Speaking for myself, I would like to see the lime standard used in the eastern States adopted in South Australia.
(Question No. 346)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
– The Minister for the Interior has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 408)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
What amounts were paid towards the capital cost of general hospitals in each of the States in each of the years 1960 to 1968?
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply:
Information on amounts expended on the capital costs of general hospitals in the States is not available. However recent year books of the Commonwealth of Australia included the following details of capital expenditure on public hospitals and nursing homes:
The following comment appears in the 1967 (No. 53) edition of the Commonwealth Year Book:
For some Stales expenditure on capital items out of individual hospitals’ own funds are not included in the figures shown. Comparisons between the Stales should therefore be made with caution.’
(Question No. 421)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Is the installation described by the Prime Minister in answers to questions asked by Senator Bishop on 13th April 1967 and Senator Wilkinson on 22nd August 1967 as a ‘joint United StatesAustralian defence space research facility’ and containing the comment that ‘there is nothing about the operation or location of the station to support any suggestion that the installation would be singled out for special attention in time of war’ the same as the one referred to in the Sydney ‘Sun’ of 2nd August under the heading The Secret of Pine Gap’, in which the writer stated ‘A massive $200m highly secret United States defence complex at Pine Gap in the middle of Australia has reached testing stage. The complex covers 10 square miles’?
– The Prime Minister has provided the following reply to the honourable senator’s question:
The facility referred to by the Prime Minister as the Joint United States-Australian Defence Space Research Facility is the same as that referred to by the Sydney ‘Sun’ of 2nd August. The description ‘A massive $200m highly secret United
States defence complex at Pine Gap in the middle of Australia has reached testing stage. The complex covers 10 square miles’ is an exaggeration. I refer the honourable senator to the reply given in another place by the Minister for Defence on 22nd August 1968.
(Question No. 427)
Senator WILLESEE (through Senator
O’Byrne) asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
What amount of foreign capital invested in Australia is (a) American and (b) other?
What amount of foreign capital invested in Western Australia is (a) American and (b) other?
– The Treasurer has provided the following reply: 1 and 2. The Commonwealth Statistician has supplied the following information:
During the period July 1947 to June 1967 the cumulative inflow of private overseas investment in companies in Australia - including undistributed income - by investors domiciled in United States of America and Canada amounted to $2, 172m. Investment from all other countries during the same period amounted to $3,497m. Information for earlier periods, or separate information on investment from the United States of America during this period, is not available except in respect of 1966-67 when the inflow of private overseas investment in companies in Australia by investors domiciled in the United States of America amounted to $244m. Investment from all other countries in that year amounted to $2 12m.
The liability to holders resident in overseas countries of Commonwealth, State and local and semi-government securities repayable in Australian currency was $32m at 30th June 1967. Of this amount$1m represented a liability to investors resident in the United States of America.
The total liability to holders of Commonwealth, State and local and semi-government securities repayable in foreign currencies was $ 1,568m at 30th June 1968. Of this, $792m was repayable in United States dollars and $776m in other foreign currencies. These figures include liabilities in respect of loans from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development totalling $172m, of which $133m is denominated in United States dollars and $39m in other foreign currencies.
Statistics are not compiled separately on overseas investment in Western Australia.
(Question No. 470)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
– The Acting Minister for Trade and Industry has supplied the following answers:
F11l AIRCRAFT (Question No. 471)
asked the Minister re presenting the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
Based upon the suggested new defence concept, which has been referred to as ‘Fortress Australia’, from which position defence aircraft would presumably operate, what defence capability has the F111C aircraft, which may possibly come to this country, insofar as its role as a strike attack bomber is determined by its extremely limited range?
– The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer:
The F111C’s defence capability is directed to its strike-reconnaissance role. Performance details of the aircraft are, of course, classified but there is no foundation for any statement that the FM1C has an ‘extremely limited range’. It is inappropriatethat any comment should be offered on the honourable senator’s premise for his question.
(Question No. 474)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
What was the purpose of acquisition of the F111 aircraft and when will the aircraft be lit for this purpose?
– The Minister for Defence has provided the following answer:
The F111C aircraft were ordered to provide the Royal Australian Air Force with a superior strike reconnaissance aircraft as a necessary part of our total defence capability.
Until the problems associated with the failure of one wing carry through box, which are now under intense study in the United Slate of America, are resolved, it is not possible to supply any answer to the second half of the honourable senator’s question.
(Question No. 510)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
What assistance has the Australian Government given to remedy the practice of Australian publishers sending to Asia for their printing requirements?
– The Acting Minister for Trade and Industry has supplied the following answer:
We are awaiting submissions from the printing industry for assistance to counter the printing of books in Asia. When this request is received it will be given serious consideration in line with the Government’s policy to assist economic and efficient industries.
(Question No. 511)
asked the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
To what extent, if at all, are Australian publishers sending work to overseas printers for quality and not solely for price?
– The Acting Minister for Trade and Industry has supplied the following answer:
The Government is unable to measure the extent to which Australian publishers are sending worksto overseas printers for reasons of quality. ] understand that the quality of Australian printing is of world standard.
(Question No. 512)
Senator MURPHY (through Senator
O’Byrne) asked the Minister representingthe Acting Minister for Trade and industry, upon notice:
In view ofthe fact that import statistics do not differentiate between those hooks published and printed overseas and those books printed overseas by Australian publishers, for sale in Australia, what evidence is there that there has been a marked increase in the practice of Australian publishers placing their printing work outside this country?
– The Acting Minister for Trade and Industry has supplied the following answer:
In the absence of any statistical information differentiating between those books published and printed overseas and those books printed overseas by Australian publishers for sale in Australia, there is little specific evidence available. However, I understand the annual tonnage of paper used by the book trade in Australia has dropped. Furthermore, statistics show a significant increase in imports from Asian countries and a number of these bear the imprint of an Australian publisher and an Asian printer.
(Question No. 530)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has supplied the following information:
(Question No. 546)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
– The Minister for External Affairs has provided the following reply to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 555)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
– The Minister for External Affairs has furnished the following reply: 1. (a) USSR, 105times; (b) United Kingdom, 3 times; (c) United States, nil; (d) France, 4 times; (e) China, once.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Whether the Lower House approves or rejects a Bill, it must transmit the Bill to the office of the Upper House within 3 full days.
If the Upper House agrees with the viewpoint of the LowerHouse, the Bill will be transmitted to the President for promulgation or will be rejected.
If the Upper House does not agree with the viewpoint of the Lower House, it must return the Bill to the Lower House within 3 full days along with its decision and an explanation for its action.
In the latter case, the Lower House has the right to vote final approval of the Bill with a two-thirds majority of its total membership.
If the Lower House is unable to reach a twothirds majority, the viewpoint of the Upper House will be considered as approved.
Under Article 45, the President may, within a specified period, request the National Assembly to reconsider or amend a Bill which has been transmitted to him for promulgation. The National Assembly then meets in joint plenary session and an absolute majority of the total number of representatives and senators is sufficient to vote final approval. If an amendment proposed by the President is rejected, the Bill as originally transmitted to the President automatically becomes law.
No. The General Mobilisation Law provides for the mobilisation into Regular armed forces of male Vietnamese citizens from 18 to 38 years old. In addition there is provision in the law ‘if the need for personnel strength requires’ for the drafting of other age groups in the following order of priority: (a) 39 to 43-year-olds; (b) 17-year-olds. No decision has been taken concerning the drafting of additional categories. Mobilisation of the 18 to 38-year-olds is expected to take up the remainder of 1968. The law does not provide for the conscription of 16-year-old males into the Regular armed forces. The law does, however, make all male Vietnamese citizens aged 16 arid 17 and from 39 ot 50, and other deferred from service with the Regular armed forces, within certain specified exceptions, liable for civil defence duties with the People’s Self Defence Forces. Citizens not liable for civil defence duties may also volunteer to join these units. 3. (a) There is provision in the law for the deferment of qualified high school and university students. Regulations govern the maximum age at which students may enter the various faculties and deferment is dependent on satisfactory progress. It is estimated that this year, 1,800 university students and 14,000 high school students will be drafted under the General Mobilisation Law while approximately 12,000 university students and 48,000 high school students will be deferred.
There is provision in the law for deferment of clergymen who are studying or practising religions. The relevant regulations have been based on the customs and usage of each religion. 4, 5 and 6. The General Mobilisation Law also requires all male and female citizens not serving in either the Regular armed forces or the People’s Self Defence Forces to join local people’s groups. It is understood that these groups are not intended to be of a military or para-military nature. Under the law a separate Bill will be prepared to cover the organisation of these groups. Such a Bill has not been submitted to the National Assembly and details of the natureof these organisations are therefore not available.
(Question No. 578)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply:
(Question No. 581)
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The Postmaster-General has furnished the following reply:
In the period January 1967 to the end of September 1968, thirty-two applications for telephone service involving the position of new lines or equipment were received from residents of the Tea Gardens-Hawks Nest area. All these applications had to be deferred at the time of lodgment because of lack of exchange equipment in the Tea Gardens exchange. In addition,the submarine cable crossing the Myall River was fully utilised and a new cable was required before applicants in Hawks Nest could be given service. Extra capacity was added to the Tea Gardens exchange in July this year and the new submarine cable is expected to be completed early in November.
Four applicants have already been given service, work is at present proceedingto give service to thirteen more and replies are awaited from fifteen applicants who have been quoted terms and conditions for the provision of service. All outstanding applications in the area are expected to be cleared before mid-December.
(Question No. 604)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answer:
– Yesterday, Sena tor Fitzgerald repeated a question which he asked me last week. His question was:
In view of the fact that Japan, Taiwan and other nations have benefited to the extent of hundreds of millions of dollars in the huge contracts for supplies to Vietnam, can the Minister advise what is Australia’s share of the contracts in this market in food, clothing and essential equipment? Can the Minister further advise whether our solitary contract for meat worth $2m, which expired 6 months ago, has been renewed?
In reply. I want to advise him that my Department has no information as to details of contracts let by the United Slates Government to firms in other foreign countries for supplies to its forces in Vietnam. Neither does my Department possess detailed information on the value of overall off-shore purchases by the United Stales forces for Vietnam. American off-shore procurement is conducted on a competitive basis of price and delivery: Australian firms have been requested to submit bids and have received some contracts , but in the mainthey have not been able to meet the quantities, delivery rales or prices offering elsewhere. A contract for the supply of lamb to Vietnam was completed in March 1968 and has not been renewed. Under this contract lamb to the value of $3. 2m. was supplied.
– On 17th September Senator Drake-Brockman asked me aboutthe possibility of Commonwealth financial assistance tothe Australian team which’ is to compete in the International Stoke-Mandeville Games in Tel Aviv during November. Representations on behalf of the Australian Paraplegic Council for financial assistance to the Australian team were received earlier this year. It was decided, however, not to depart from the long-standing policy that Commonwealth financial assistance to sporting fixtures is given only in respect of the Olympic Games and the Commonwealth Games.
– On 19th September, Senator O’Byrne asked whether, in view of a reported influx of peas from New Zealand in the next year and changed circumstances arising from devaluation and a reduction in the duty applicable to New Zeal and peas due to take place on 1st January next, the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement would be renegotiated so as to exclude peas. I informed the honourable senator that I would obtain the views of the Minister for Trade and Industry on this matter. The Acting Minister for Trade and Industry has now supplied me with the following reply for the honourable senator:
The Government considers thai there are ample safeguards in the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement to cater for any changed trading circumstances that might arise following devaluation. Peas were, of course, included in the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement subject to the understandings and safeguards set out in the Agreement. In negotiations leading to the Free Trade Agreement, both Governments recognised the need to ensure that there should be no disruption to industries in either country through operation of the Agreement. There is a clear understanding that both Governments will consult, together in any situation where imports cause, or threaten to cause, disruption to domestic industries. To ensure that consultations with the New Zealand (Government could be readily initiated if warranted, a constant watch is being kept on the situation regarding imports and developments in the industries in both Australia and New Zealand.
At a meeting, held on 24th September, of departmental officials and the Pea and Bean Industry Panel, the industry situation was reviewed. Following this meeting members of the Panel discussed the industry’s problems with the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry. The question of a meeting between industry representatives and officials of both countries was discussed and is now under active consideration.
– On 17th September, Senator Lillico asked, in relation to imports of peas from New Zealand, whether documentary evidence must be produced of actual damage to the local industry before action to remedy the situation can be taken under the terms of the New ZealandAustralia Free Trade Agreement or whether action may be taken in the case of threatened injury. I said I would seek clarification of the position from the Minister for Trade and Industry. I wish to inform the honourable senator that the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry has furnished me with the following information in reply:
Clause 1 Article 9 of the Agreement provides that if scheduled goods are in the opinion of a member state being imported into the territory of that member state in such increased quantities and such conditions as to cause or threaten serious injury to ite producers that member stale may in writing request consultations with the other member state on measures to prevent future injury, lt has been made clear to the Pea and Bean Industry Panel, on which the Canning Pea Growers Association of Tasmania is represented, on a number of occasions that the Government would be prepared to act under this provision on presentation of a documented case demonstrating that the local industry was either threatened with or experiencing serious damage as a result of imports from New Zealand. To ensure that consultations with the New Zealand Government could be readily initiated if warranted, a constant watch is being kept on the situation regarding imports and developments in the industries in both Australia and New Zealand.
The industry situation was reviewed at a meeting, held on 24th September, of departmental officials and the Pea and Bean Industry Panel. Following this meeting members of the Panel discussed the industry’s problems with the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry. The question of a meeting between industry representatives and officials of both countries was discussed and is now under active consideration.
Hie DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I have received from Senator Keeffe an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the Senate for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of public importance, namely:
The failure of the Government to initiate action to police, control and conserve the resources of the waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria and the Great Barrier Reef.
Is the motion supported? (More than the number of senators required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places)
Senator KEEFFE (Queensland) [4.7jI move:
This matter falls broadly under three headings: Firstly, the failure of the Government to accept its full responsibility in relation to the areas that 1 have outlined in the statement of the matter of urgency; secondly, the growing fishing industry, which is ignored as a consequence; and thirdly, the fairly well established tourist industry which can be harmed because of Government inactivity.
Mr Kumao Okazaki. a Japanese, is reported to have said on 9th September this year that he was concerned about reports of a proposed ban on foreign fishing boats in Australian ports. L think the Government’s inactivity in this regard has largely been dictated by foreign countries and by Japan in particular. A recent Press statement described Brisbane as a port for foreign vessels because of the large number of Japanese fishing vessels, in particular, that entered it. It would appear that lack of action by the Government has been due to fear of Japan and of what it may say and do in relation to our exports to the Japanese market. It would appear that the war we fought in the period between 7th December 1941 and 15th August 1945 was fought in vain. The things that Japan endeavoured to obtain by force in those days are now being obtained with the complete co-operation of the Australian Government. Japan’s influence is noticeable not only in the seas adjoining Australia but also in many industries in this country.
Rear Admiral J. G. Crabb is reported to have said on 9th August this year that the Royal Australian Navy coul’d not effectively patrol Australian fishing grounds unless the Government provided twenty patrol boats in addition to the twenty that have already been launched or are under construction. I recall that in another place my colleague Dr Patterson said that the Navy had failed to keep up with the duties allocated to it by the Government in relation to the policing of Australian waters. Rear Admiral Crabb estimated that of the twenty patrol boats in service or under construction only 60% could be kept in service at any one time.
I refer briefly to the importance of the fishing industry to Australia. I will1 compare the Australian industry with the Japanese industry, which is the second largest producer of fishing products in the world. The latest figures that 1 could obtain are for the year 1966. Japan’s catch for 1966 was more than 7 million metric tons. This figure was exceeded only by Peru, which had a catch in that year of 8 million metric tons, but Japan was the leading nation in terms of value of the catch. It should be remembered that a large majority of the catch is not necessarily taken legally from waters over which Japan has any control. Australia has a potential fishing coastline of 12,446 miles. In view of the limited resources that the Government has seen fit to provide for the policing of our coastline, it is obvious that it cannot be properly policed. Australia is one of the junior fishing nations. This is largely because of lack of incentive, encouragement and initiative by the Commonwealth Government in particular and in some cases by State governments. Australia’s production for the financial year 1966-67, excluding whales, was 92,000 metric tons, which is approximately I /80th the Japanese production for the same period.
– 1 do not know. 1 do not think that the honourable senator should go up there. He might be mistaken for a mackerel. I move now to exports. The value of fish exports from Australia for 1967-68 was $33.9m and the value of imports was $27. 5m. I understand from figures made available by the Department of Primary Industry that this is the first occasion on which the value of the exports has exceeded the value of imports. This is quite a satisfactory development, but there is no guarantee that this position will be sustained. There are 2,000 different species of fish, not including Senator Greenwood-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order!
– But only 10% of the 2,000 species of fish have been exploited commercially. In 1966-67 the Australian fishing industry contributed only 0.2% of the gross national product whereas for the same period the Japanese fishing industry contributed 2.1% of the Japanese gross national product, lt would probably be right to say that only the small man is dedicated to the Australian fishing industry. In 1967- 68 11,000 fishing boats were registered. Statistics show that 13,000 people are employed in the fishing industry. For the same year, Australia’s consumption of fish amounted to 12 lb per head, but of this, one half was imported. In other words, Australians consumed 6 lb of sea food produced in Australia and 6 lb of imported sea food in that year. Much of this sea food was imported from Japan. It was probably our own fish on the way back. Australia’s imports amounted to 84.3 million lb at a value of $28.7m.
– How much of this was North Pacific salmon and crab?
– 1 would say. very little. A large proportion of the imports consists of fish fingers and that type of product. The Australian fishing industry operates in the main under quite primitive conditions. Ft suffers from the poor handling of its product, from poor marketing and poor transportation. For this reason it is doubly difficult for our industry to meet foreign competition. This is where it is very obvious that the Government’s interest in this industry is so slight. This is where there is plenty of room for initiative and for assistance to the industry. But apparently the Government prefers foreign vessels to exploit the fish in our waters. In particular, the Government has shown marked disinterest in the Gulf of Carpentaria and the Great Barrier Reef.
The industry has not advanced a great deal over the last 50 years. This fact is admitted by those engaged in it. Perhaps the only two progressive areas are the crayfish and prawn fields. In both of these fields Australia has a large export quota. In fact, Australia is the largest producer of crayfish in the world. In 1966-67, 32 million lb of crayfish were exported at a value of $18.4m. Over the same period 13.6 million lb of prawns were exported at a value of $6.2m. The prawn resources of northern Australia may reach 50 million lb a year in the immediate future at a value of approximately $30m. The Gulf of Carpentaria is expected to produce 25 million lb of prawns a year at a value of approxi mately $15m. In blunt terms, one-half of the prawn exports are likely to come out of the far northern area of Australia. I believe that until such time as the firm of Craig Mostyn and Co. Pty Ltd protested at the presence of the ‘Van Gogh’ in the area, there were few honourable senator opposite who were certain of the geographical location of the Gulf of Carpentaria and its adjacent waters.
– That does not apply to me. I was in the Gulf of Carpentaria when the ‘Van Gogh’ was there.
– 1 am told that the honourable senator was a crocodile shooter up there. The Director of Fisheries in Malaysia, Mr Soong Min Kong, who is also Chairman of the Indo-Pacific Fisheries Council, said thai poaching was a commonfailing. He was referring to other countries He suggested that Australia would never beat poachers until it developed its own industry. I submit that the onus is on the Government to assert control of the Barrier Reef and the Gulf of Carpentaria. Why should the Government be afraid to assert control? I am certain it is not afraid of any challenge in the International Court of Justice, despite its protestations that that is the reason why it does not take this action. 1 respectfully suggest that it is afraid of being blackmailed in the field of trade by Japan, Taiwan and other countries. Other countries have had the great courage not to submit to pressures, as the Australian Government has done. In 1906 Canada claimed the waters of Hudson Bay as its own territory.
– On what grounds?
– It claimed the waters on historical grounds on that occasion. Through you, Mr Deputy President, 1 suggest that Senator Cormack should wait until I have finished my contribution to the debate; he will then understand my argument.
– You have been speaking for 20 minutes now and we have heard nothing.
– We will have the advantage of hearing Senator Greenwood’s learned comments later on, no doubt. Russia claimed control over the waters of Peter the Great Bay as recently as 1957. In 1953 the Australian Government issued a proclamation claiming to exercise control over the continental shelf. Paragraph 1 of Article 2 of the Convention on the Continental Shelf, confirmed in 1958, states:
The coastal state exercises over the continental shelf sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring it and exploiting its natural resources.
Because of the depredations of foreign vessels the Barrier Reef is being wrecked. In July this year two Nationalist Chinese fishing vessels were intercepted off the Queensland coast. One of these had on board a load of clams. Numerous witnesses will say that clams in particular and other valuable shell fish are being destroyed in a wholesale manner not on one section of the Reef but on many sections. On 18th July 1968 the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony), when opening a new $250,000 prawn processing plant owned by Craig Mostyn Ltd at Karumba, said: lt would be irresponsible to close off the Gulf.
In addition he gave the fishermen some fatherly advice and told them not to take the law into their own hands. In the Canadian Press this year a news item appeared in the following terms:
A Californian fishing boat the ‘Paramount’ was . fined $22,000 for fishing inside Ecuador’s new 200-mile territorial waters. 1 am expounding the theory that we would be quite within our rights in endeavouring to take the action that 1 have suggested from the start of my speech.
On 21st July 1968 Professor Tarlo, Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Queensland, according to a newspaper article published for all to see, said:
Australia could claim the Gulf area possibly on geographic and economic grounds.
Another Australian expert on the law of the sea, Professor O’Connell, claims that the list of Australian bays which may be validly appropriated is by no means closed. Commander Mitchell Strohl of the United States Navy, a well known, writer on the international law of bays, has suggested that the Gulf of Carpentaria could be classified as an historical bay and that the onus would be on Australia to prove the claim. I know that there is a difference of opinion on this Nevertheless many people claim that we would be reasonably safe in taking the action and fighting it out afterwards.
The Barrier Reef is one of the natural wonders of the world. It is a national asset for which the Commonwealth must accept the major share of responsibility. The Queensland Government, under the new offshore petroleum legislation, has been granting wholesale permits for oil exploration in the area. Japanese and other fishing boats continually cruise up and down inside and outside the Reef, removing clams and other shell fish. People from these foreign vessels land on Australian shores. The Commonwealth Government does not attempt to police the area. On Thursday, 10th October, I received a reply to a question on notice to the Minister for Primary Industry in which I sought details of the number of foreign vessels operating in Australian waters. In part, this is the reply I received:
The number of foreign vessels operating in Australian waters other than for fishing is very large and includes all the foreign vessels trading with Australia and a number of vessels being used in oil exploration. However, except for the Japanese tuna long line vessels which visit Australian ports the number of fishing vessels is relatively small. A number of Russian, Polish, Japanese, Formosan, Korean and Indonesian vessels are reported around the Australian const at various times. . . .
In reply to another section of my question he stated:
There are four Australian-foreign fishing ventures each of which involves Japanese interests. Three of these will operate from Darwin and the fourth from Weipa. The venture operating from Weipa will use 2 Japanese vessels and the 3 based on Darwin will operate a total of 30 vessels all of which are registered in Japan.
Whilst the Japanese are not the only fishermen operating in the area, they are quite familiar with the area. We saw evidence of this during the last World War. They probably knew more about the waters around Australia than did any representative of this country. I have photostat copies of an article in a Japanese newspaper which makes certain statements about the Japanese fishing industry. I have another and more important photostat. It is a map setting out the areas around Australia in which the Japanese operate. If honourable senators wish to examine it afterwards they are free to do so. The map sets out the areas to the north and other parts of the Pacific Ocean where the Japanese operate. It is the type of map used by those people when they are sailing the seas around Australia. The Japanese are so familiar with the sea areas around the north and far north of Australia that recently a group of thirty-five Japanese scientists on the Hakuho Maru’ found what they believed was a lost continent off the north east coast of Queensland. Amongst other things they discovered great chains of submarine mountains, blind fish and lobsters living 17,000 feet under the surface, and great areas of the ocean floor covered with manganese and other mineral wealth. The information obtained by the scientists on the vessel is being evaluated at the Tokyo University.
– That is not the continental shelf.
– You did not listen to what I said. Mr Deputy President, I submit that Senator Cormack is endeavouring to distort anything that is said. He is endeavouring to defend the Government. Recently the Minister in Charge of Tourist Activities (Senator Wright) made what 1 thought was a very interesting statement. He said:
Australia must conserve and develop ils magnificent national assets for the interest and pleasure of its own people and also for visitors from overseas.
Senator Wright said that during a visit to the Grampians area. For the year ended 3 1st December 1967 tourism was worth a total of $90m to this country. Approximately 220,000 visitors, excluding about 31,000 cruise passengers and 34,500 rest and recreation personnel in Australia on leave, visited Australia during 1967-68. Those figures are taken from a statement of the Minister. So it is obvious that it is essential for the tourist industry that positive action be taken to preserve the Barrier Reef. It is possible that mineral and oil discoveries will be made there in the future. Many people want to exploit the Reef and are endeavouring to do so. The moment that the Government thinks it is fitting, those people no doubt will be allowed to exploit the Reef to obtain lime.
– Who controls that area? Is it a Commonwealth or a State responsibility?
– I am suggesting that the Commonwealth has responsibility. After all, the Reef is a national asset and not necessarily only a State asset. As such the Commonwealth ought to have the courage - I could use a much blunter word - to exercise overall supervision, if it is interested in preserving our national assets, lt is perfectly obvious that members of the Government Parties are following their usual tendencies. Amongst those who claim that the Commonwealth should afford protection for our waters is the Returned Services League. I have before me an extract from the Cairns ‘Post’ of 23rd February 1968. Because of limitations of time I will quote only part of the report. It stated:
Resolutions calling on . the Commonwealth Government to take urgent -action to protect territorial waters from pouching by foreign vessels have priority on the agenda of the Far Northern District RSL conference this week-end.
A report in the ‘Financial Review’ of 29i:h February 1968 has a fair- degree of significance. It stated, in part:
The use of foreign vessels and crews in joint fishing ventures involving Australian and overseas interests would be considered on a. temporary basis only, the Minister for Primary Industry, Mr J. D. Anthony, announced -yesterday. Within five years they would have to be replaced by Australian vessels and crews.
I submit that that will not be carried out.’ I can recall that an honourable senator on the Government benches defended in the best parliamentary terms- I think they are the words he used - his interest in a fishing venture operating in the area of the Gulf of Carpentaria. He admitted that Papuans and other indigenous people ‘ of the area were being employed on fishing trawlers in the Gulf area. On a previous occasion the Minister referred to a division of the spoils amongst crew members. But they do not get a fair share. They, get a few lousy dollars a week. Apparently this is no concern of the Government. On the national news broadcast at 7.45 a.m. on 25th March last - it was a Sunday- the Australian Broadcasting Commission announced that the Tayo Fisheries Co. Ltd had engaged five Chinese vessels from Formosa to fish in the Gulf of Carpentaria. It was said that the vessels would be 100 tons gross each and that it was expected that they would catch 500 tons of prawns in 12 months. It was announced that trans-shipment would be made at Darwin.
The Carbir Fishing Co. Pty Ltd of Queensland said that it was disturbing that a Japanese firm which was anticipating the receipt of a joint venture permit with Angliss in the near future and would have a limited area in which to operate was already engaging other foreign vessels to harvest our prawns. A representative of the company said that whilst we cannot stop them operating outside the 12-mile limit, under the new fisheries legislation they are not permitted to use Australian ports for various facilities. Who -cares? The people of Australia care. The people engaged iti the Australian fishing industry and the Australian tourist industry care. The people who want to see Australia’s national assets conserved care. The Australian Labor Party has an interest and cares. But it is obvious that the Government and the people associated with big business interests, could not care less about what lakes, place. A report of another protest appeared in the ‘Australian’ of 17th August 1968. lt stated:
The Australian Fishing Advisory Council will urge the Government to close the Gulf of Carpentaria to all foreign ships. - . . .
The council secretary, Mr A. W. .Ellem, said yesterday the Australian fishing industry had to be protected from foreign exploitation, not only in the Gulf, but in all other productive areas.
Perhaps the incident that stirred the Government into sending out a few RAAF planes and one or two patrol boats was that which was referred to in the Australian Fisheries Newsletter of August 1968. The article stated:
This action caine after a complaint by the chairman of Craig Mostyn & Co. Pty Ltd, Mr R. L. Mostyn, which alleged that the Soviet fishing vessel Van Gogh’ ‘intimidated’ prawn trawlers operating from his company’s base of Karumba. . . . Mr Mostyn s telegram to the Prime Minister said in part: ‘On July 3 ‘Van Gogh’ was working right on the 12-mile limit 3’5 miles from Karumba. As Australian trawlers were directed to the prawn concentrations by our spotter plane, they were immediately followed by the Russian ship. That was bad enough, but our pilot reports that while our trawlers were working the concentrations on the morning of July 10 the Russian ship steamed towards them with siren wailing for our bouts lo move clear. This is intimidation of the dangerous and worst kind. . . .’
Whose fault is all this? Again I submit that it is the fault of the Commonwealth Government because of its lack of interest. The onus is on us as members of a responsible Parliament to do something about the problems 1 have outlined. I have criticised the Government for its failure to initiate action to conserve the resources of the Gulf of Carpentaria and the Great Barrier Reef. I sincerely hope that as a result of this debate action will be taken, lt will be 30 years too late, but it will be a start.
– I ask Senator Keeffe to table the map that he said would be available to honourable senators.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - Does the honourable senator agree to table the map?
– Yes, but I would like a photostat copy to be made so that I may retain the original for my records.
– I express regret that this debate commenced in an exaggerated manner accompanied by the invective used by Senator Keeffe. 1 particularly deplore his references to Senator Greenwood and Senator Cormack but I am afraid that we must expect that from the honourable senator. It usually occurs when he is speaking. I point out to Senator Keeffe that if his object was to assist the fishing industry, he failed lementably. Rather did he injure the industry. I and following speakers in this debate will point out lo the honourable senator that the Government has been taking action in respect of protection, surveys and the policing of our northern waters. Some of the remarks made by the honourable senator will serve only to hinder such action taking place. 1 think it is ludicrous to attempt to compare the Australian fishing industry with the fishing industry of Japan. The Australian fishing industry started operations in 1962-63 and earned about £31m. In the following years the industry’s earnings rose to £33m, £38m, £42m and £45m. Later figures are not available to me. The Japanese fishing industry has been operating for hundreds of years and I repeat that it is ludicrous to compare it with the Australian fishing industry. Senator Keeffe said that the Government was reluctant to take action because of its fear of Japan. 1 have heard some stupid statements made in the Senate but that is one of the most stupid.
– That reply is even more stupid.
– I am not interested in the honourable senator’s opinion of me. I think it is about as high as is my opinion of him. I point out to the Senate that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) announced a few weeks ago, or perhaps longer ago than that, that we would be amending our fishing legislation to include plants and other sedentary marine life and that the legislation would include the Great Barrier Reef. It was hoped that this legislation would come before the Parliament during this session. The legislation regarding the 12-mile limit was brought before the Parliament at the end of last year and came into force on 30lh January this year. That legislation was not introduced because of pressure from the fishing industry or pressure from the Opposition; it was introduced on the Government’s own initiative.
Since we have extended our exclusive fishing zone from 3 miles to 12 miles from shore, whenever there has been any indication of foreign vessels in that area we have immediately sent people to observe and to find out what the situation was. I point out lo members of the Opposition that, if they want to be truthful they should not say that there has been a lack of initiative on the part of the Government in trying to secure greater fishing rights for Australian fishermen. In 1952 this Government gave a lead to the world in having the law of the sea extended to cover sedentary life, and it was this Government that gave the lead in regard to the 12-mile limit. 1 do not propose to discuss the legal aspects of this subject because Senator Wright and my other legal colleagues will be dealing with them. My contribution to the debate will relate in the main to the primary production side of it. 1 ask honourable senators opposite to consider our initiative in finding out the resources of our northern waters. Who was responsible for finding these enormous supplies of prawns in the Gulf of Carpentaria?
– The Minister did not do much about it.
– If the honourable senator will listen, as 1 have suggested that other honourable senators should listen, he may learn something.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! I suggest to the Senate that good manners and moderation should characterise any parliamentary debate.
– Are you addressing the Minister, Mr Deputy President?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order!
– Thank you, Mr Deputy President. As a result of a joint venture between the Commonwealth Government and the Queensland Government, in 1963 the Queensland Government provided $136,000 for a survey of the Gulf of Carpentaria to be carried out. Craig Mostyn and Co Pty Ltd helped enormously in that survey by providing shore facilities and also the other facilities that were needed for this work to be carried out. This was not just a 1-day wonder. It was years before the people who made the survey were able to determine the extent of. these resources and the habits of the different types of prawns. They discovered that enormous quantities of banana prawns were shoaled together at certain times of the year and that there were supplies of tiger prawns and king prawns. As a result of that we have been and still are developing in the north a whole industry that looks to have great potential for Australia. So much for the lack of initiative with which- this Government was charged.
I propose now to deal for some little time with the question of control. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) has announced the guide lines for joint fishing ventures which would involve Australian and foreign interests. The guide lines are as follows:
All joint venture proposals will be considered on their individual merits and must be approved hy the Minister for Primary Industry and the appropriate Minister , responsible for fisheries matters in the State or Territory concerned.
The decision will be influenced by the fishery in which the joint venture operation is to be undertaken. As a general rule joint ventures will be confined to fisheries in a particular area or which exploit a particular species of fish, which are not yet adequately developed by Australian fishermen.
– Was this only in the -
– The honourable senator was asked to keep quiet. The Minister’s statement continues:
The use of foreign vessels and crews will - be considered on a temporary basis only. Any proposal must include provision for the replacement of foreign vessels and crews by Australian vessels and crews within 5 years.
No mention of this was made by the Opposition in speaking to the motion. The Minister continued:
Approval for the entry of foreign vessels must be obtained from the Minister for Shipping and
Transport and entry may be subject to customs duty. The entry of foreign crew will also be subject to approval by the Department of Immigration and the Department of Labour and National Service. In general, agreement to the temporary entry of foreign personnel will largely be determined by the nature of the work to be undertaken.
The importation of fish which have not previously been landed at a port outside Australia is prohibited unless such fish have been caught by a vessel registered in and based on an Australian port. This prohibition can be waived only if the importer has the written permission of the Minister for Primary Industry.
Evidence must also be submitted showing that the use of foreign vessels and crews will accelerate or increase the efficiency of the development of the fisheries concerned.
This is another instance of conservation and control. The statement continues:
The possible effect of market competition between foreign and locally caught fish will also be carefully considered to sec that the interests of both the Australian fishermen and prospective joint venture companies are preserved.
A foreign company wishing to set up a joint venture project should first make arrangements with the person or persons with whom it proposes to operate in Australia. In any joint venture the Australian partner is the one to apply to the Ministers concerned for the necessary approvals.
The document from which I am quoting continues:
Mr Anthony stressed that applications for joint venturesshould not be confused with applications by foreign fishermen for licences to fish within the 12-mile Australian fishing zone. Applications to fish in the new exclusive zone would be considered only when a phase-out agreement had been negotiated between the Australian and foreign government concerned.
Coverage and frequency of sea patrols has been stepped up considerably and is based on a regular programme. The Royal Australian Navy has recently taken delivery of 12 new patrol boats and another 8 will be available by early 1969. The Royal Australian Air Force also will carry out regular patrols. particularly of various northern fishing grounds. This new programme is resulting in much improved reconnaissance and surveillance of our new 12-mile fishing zone and will be kept under regular assessment with a view to maintaining effective and continuing safeguards for our fishing resources.
Dealing : again with control and conservation and with joint venture proposals. I repeat that all joint venture proposals are to be considered on their individual merit and must be approved by the Minister for Primary Industry and the appropriate State
Minister responsible for fishery matters or, in the case of the Northern Territory, the Minister for Territories. The Minister for Primary Industry has said:
In considering applications for joint venture projects involving the use of foreign vessels and crews Ministers will have in mind that the following conditions will need to be met:
Use of foreign vessels to be considered on the basis of a temporary arrangement only;
A programme for replacing foreign vessels and crews, not exceeding 5 years, must be included in the arrangements:
Satisfactory evidence to be submitted that the use of foreign vessels and crews will improve the speed and/or efficiency of development in the fisheries concerned.
Some ofthe matters which I have mentioned already are covered in this statement by the Minister and I do not propose to repeat them. The Minister continued:
If a foreign company wishes to set up a joint venture project it should first make arrangements with the persons or person with whom it proposes to operate in Australia and the latter should make the application to the Ministers. Applications should give complete details on:
The total capital to be invested and the percentage and source of:
Foreign share indicating whether in cash or equipment;
The management of the venture including relevant experience giving:
Number of Australians and foreigners on the board of the company,
Number, classification and experience of foreign specialists,
Total number of persons to be employed;
The operations to be undertaken including:
Location of plant and area of operation,
Types of fish, method of catching and methods of processing,
Boats, gear and crews to be used.
Employment opportunities and proposals for training local operatives,
Replacement programme for foreign vessels and crews and method of replacement.
It is not proposedto approve the establishment of additional joint ventures in the northern prawn fishery at the presenttime.
No foreign owned or manned vessels will be licensed inthis fishery.
This Department will not support the import of processing vessels whilst there is a limitation on Australian processing vessels.
I have some more information on control and conservation. It deals with the limit on new processing boats or mother ships in the northern prawn fishery. In August the Minister sounded a warning that the number of processing vessels engaged or intending to engage in the northern Australian prawn fishery was approaching the maximum that the Government was prepared to license, having regard to its current knowledge of the prawn resources. He said that the Government favoured the establishment of shore based processing plants in the interests of northern development and decentralisation. As an interim measure pending the construction of shore plants, it was prepared to license a limited number of processing boats. No limitation on the number of catching boats was envisaged at that stage. Reports of good prawn fishing in northern waters had created increased interest which was beginning to manifest itself in the widespread purchase, construction or conversion of prawn processing boats. It was expected that many of these would prove uneconomical to operate without rationalisation of processing capacity through licensing controls. The Government had also approved seven shore based operations in the Northern Territory with a total investment commitment of the order of $2()m. Does this show lack of initiative? The Minister said that this was a major investment by any standards. The firms concerned with the establishment of shore processing plants were making a contribution to northern development and decentralisation as well as to export earnings, which for the whole fishery were expected to reach a figure of the order of $50m per annum within 10 years. The Government took the view - it still takes this view - that this investment deserved some protection, and controlling of processing boats was one way this could be done.
The Minister advised persons or firms which had contracted to purchase, construct or convert boats for prawn processing to inform his Department of their intention to apply for processing boat licences. He said that notifications should relate to contracts entered into before the date of his announcement, and that from 9th August until production warranted otherwise licences would be granted only in respect of processing boats of which the Department had been advised before that date. He went on to say that he wished it to be clearly understood that the granting of licences would proceed in step with the development of the fishery and therefore that notification of intention to apply for a licence did nol necessarily imply any entitlement to one. In addition, if the product was to be exported the processing vessels would need the approval of the Inspection Branch of the Department .before any fishing licence was issued.
Those are some of the factors the Government has taken into consideration and acted on in the protection and conservation of this industry. The figures given by Senator Keeffe for the catch of prawns in 1966-67 were correct. They are: Western Australia, 3.9 million lb worth $1.8m; New South Wales 3.8 million lb worth $1.9m; and Queensland, 5.9 million lb worth §2.5m: giving a total of 13.6 million lb worth $6.2m. The estimated production in the Gulf of Carpentaria from 1st January 1968 to 31st August 1968 is 4.8 million lb worth approximately $.l.2m. These figures and statements have tended to show, as I said earlier, that this industry is being developed and is becoming a very valuable one. Initiative has been shown and control and conservation have been exercised.
Senator Keeffe mentioned the Great Barrier Reef. I thoroughly agree with him that this is something that we in Australia should be meticulous in preserving. The Barrier Reef runs from a few miles out from the Queensland coast to something like 200 miles out at its widest point. I would describe it as one of the wonders of the world and I am quite sure that in future years it will be a wonderful showpiece for Australia. 1 have heard the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) say that he regards it as being of the utmost importance that this reef should not be interfered with in any way that will detract from its value as a tourist resort and as a thing of beauty.
The question of licences for drilling comes into the matter. The Commonwealth has not given any licences for drilling, to the best of my knowledge; nor will it do so. I understand that the Queensland Government has given some licences, or intends giving some. To the best of my knowledge - Senator Wright might clear this one up - they are entitled to do this within an area 3 miles off the Queensland coast.
– lt was only the Australian Conservation Foundation and private bodies that forced the Government to act.
– The honourable senator says that. I do not agree with him and I have just given him the proof that the Commonwealth Government, first of all, took the initiative in finding these fisheries, and, secondly, having found them, went to the trouble of developing them, protecting them and policing them, if one wants to use that word. The Great Barrier Reef is a heritage of. which ail Australians should be very proud indeed. It is up to us - I am very happy to see that the Opposition is of the same mind as the Government in this respect - to see that it is protected to the greatest possible extent.
Mention has been made of illegal fishing. Senator Keeffe mentioned a reply given to a question by him about foreign vessels. I do not propose to touch on that at this point of- time, but in regard to complaints of illegal fishing I have here the text of a telegram which was sent by the Prime Minister to Mr Pizzey in July. It reads:
In reply to your telegram received this morning, the Commonwealth has had under examination ways in which illegal fishing operations might be controlled and Australia’s marine resources protected. Recently extra patrol boats have become available lo the RAN’ and these will allow the coverage and frequency of sea patrols to be considerably increased within Australia’s 12-mile exclusive fishing zone. The RAAF also will participate regularly in patrolling activities particularly over northern fishing grounds. It is anticipated that amendments to Commonwealth legislation will shortly be proposed in order to give the necessary legal powers to control the taking of all sedentary species, including clams, from the Continental Shelf, including the Reef. As to the incident reported in your telegram, this has been brought to the attention of the Chinese Embassy who have been made aware that further such acts would render the vessels concerned liable to arrest and legal proceedings. The Embassy said that the Chinese Government fully appreciated the need to avoid breaches of the Australian Fisheries Act. The Embassy would do everything possible to ensure that Chinese vessels respected the 12-mile limit and the Chinese Government was being informed immediately about the recent incidents. The help received from the Queensland authorities in reporting the activities of foreign fishing vessels is much appreciated and it is hoped that the present valuable co-operation between Commonwealth and State in this field will continue.
He goes on to say that he is writing separately to Mr Pizzey on this matter. The action taken with regard to China would have been similar to the action that would and will be taken with regard to any foreign country, whether it be Japan, China or any other country. I think it is only folly to suggest that no action was taken against Japan, if Japan were the offender as alleged, because we were frightened of what might happen to our exports . to. that country. Similar charges were levelled against the Commonwealth Government quite recently in regard to the importation of motor cars from Japan. As was expected by the Government, this matter was ironed out satisfactorily. There was” no question of being frightened to speak to Japan about that matter; indeed there is no- question of being frightened to speak to Japan or any other country when the interests of Australia are concerned.
I think I have said enough to show that the motion which has been proposed by Senator Keeffe on behalf of the Opposition fails completely. He attacked the Government for its alleged failure to initiate action, first of all, to police our waters. That claim cannot . be substantiated. He attacked the Government also for its alleged failure to control our resources. I have produced evidence of the control that has been exercised. The third prong of the honourable senator’s attack was the Government’s alleged failure to conserve the resources of the Commonwealth. I have provided further evidence of the way in which our resources are being conserved and the methods which are being adopted to protect the Great Barrier Reef.
– 1 rise to support the motion proposed by Senator Keeffe and to indicate that the matter in question is. .so urgent that we impress upon the Government that it should use the same speed and take such effective measures as were adopted to protect the interests of MLC Ltd. Public interest in the protection of the waters of the north is substantial. I learned from two files which I obtained from the Parliamentary Library that there is a tremendous amount of material in periodicals and newspapers supporting our stand. If the people in the south of Australia are interested in this matter, especially the protection of the Great Barrier Reef, how much more interested must be the people who. live in the north - the people whose economic future depends upon the development of the area?
Let me deal first with the Great Barrier Reef. The protection of the Reef is a matter not only of national interest but also of international interest because, as has been indicated, it is a wonder of the world. Honourable senators on both sides of the chamber have indicated support for the proposition that the Reef should be protected. However, the initiative must be taken quickly. There are complicated and varying views on the legality of- any such action on the part of Australia. The Melbourne Age’ of 27th August 1968 carried an article on this subject under the heading ‘Doubts on Ability to Protect Reef. The article was in these terms: .
Australia’s competence to safeguard trie Great Barrier Reef was in serious question overseas and some form of international control had been suggested.
Australian poet and conservationist Judith Wright said this in Townsville on her return from « 20-eountry 5-month trip to Europe, UK and Asia for talks with world conservation authorities.
Miss Wright said all scientists and conservationists she spoke to were well informed on the threat lo the Reef posed by negligence, lack of scientific knowledge and prospecting and mining activities. . . . But they had grown increasingly concerned over the apparent lack of government policy lo guarantee preservation of the Great Barrier Reef in its natural state and the lag in scientific study of the Reef.
I emphasise the next part of the article:
They made the point that the Great Barrier Reef is not part of Australia, not really in Australian waters’, said Miss Wright.
If this is an international question, then it is important that something be done immediately by the Australian Government lo determine the legality of our claims to control the area. The suggestion of my Party is that we should take the initiative, exercise supervision and control over the whole area, and then place the matter before the International Court. We make that suggestion in the international interest, not merely in the national interest.
– What if the International Court ruled against Australia? Where would you be then?
– If the International Court ruled against Australia at some time in the future, of course we would have to accept the ruling; but I point out that it takes many years to reach a decision. If it is not ascertained that we have control over this area, or if we do not take control over this area, it is possible that mining companies and mineral exploration concerns will begin to exploit the Reef and claim legally that we cannot control it. We demand that the Government take now the action that it has indicated it intends to take later, namely, to exercise control over the whole of the continental shelf. The Government’ should exercise control not only over the life on the shelf itself but also the life above it, as well as’ the Great Barrier Reef, until such time as the International Court or any court of appeal decides the question. Based on our experience in the past, one can’ say- with confidence that the decision will be in our favour.
Another article relating to the. threat to the Great Barrier Reef appeared in the Canberra Times’ of 13th September 1968. This is what it said:
But there is a shadow over this holiday paradise: Nobody disputes that the Reef today is under attack from many sources.
According to scientists, the attackers range from tourists (who break coral and collect shells) to tobacco farmers (whose pesticides may be washed from the mainland into Reef waters). Oil prospecting companies have their eyes on the Reef and there are moves to garner Reef limestone. Mainland industrial wastes may pose a long range threat, or a local version of the; ‘Torrey Canyon’ disaster could devastate a big -area of the Reef. As if that were not enough, an ugly mildly venomous starfish is chewing greedily at the Reef coral. Against all these threats there is general agreement that the Reef should be saved.
But the Reef will not be saved unless the Government takes immediate action - now, not in the future - to exercise control over it. This is an area of extreme beauty, an area of which we as Australians should be proud, an area to which the whole world gives praise. Looking at the matter from the economic point of view, the wealth that can be gained from overseas tourists is tremendous; but it must be appreciated that economic interests are exploiting the Reef and that unless something is done immediately a precedent will be established.
I move now to the Gulf of Carpentaria. I believe that, it is also in the best interests of the world that some control should be exercised over these fishing grounds. Who better could exercise that control than Australia, alongside whose shores these fishing grounds exist? The Government has announced that it will spend $ 1,000m on investigations of the’ continental shelf. Surely if we are to spend so much money on that area over which we exercise control, we should make certain that our control extends over attempts to exploit the area. Not only would that be in the national interest; it would be in the international interest as well. At this point 1 stress strongly that it is not a matter of endeavouring to exclude all others from the Gulf. If I understood Senator McKellar’s explanation of ‘protection’ correctly, it seems that the proposed protection only covers waters within the 1.2-mile limit. There does not seem to be any way in which we can prevent a recurrence of the incident when a large overseas processing vessel entered the Gulf. It is quite possible that while the Gulf shows such great potential other foreign processing plants will be stationed within the Gulf and, if they do come, they will be outside our control.
We suggest that here again the Australian Government should take firm action to control the whole of the waters of the Gulf. But I should like the Government to keep in mind that the only reasonable way of achieving this control is to exploit the Gulf ourselves by stationing processing plants and trawlers there to supply the export market that is available for the riches of this area. 1 emphasise, however, that we would find it hard to justify the exclusion of all other fishing vessels from the Gulf if we were to allow the area to be exploited in the interests of only two or three firms.
The important thing is that the waters of the Gulf and surrounding areas, as well as the waters along the Barrier Reef and in the surrounding areas shall not be fished out. To guard against this, it is essential that the department concerned with the conservation of our resources be given power to ensure that the fishing wealth of the Gulf and waters of the north is protected by proper supervision. As 1 understand the position, we have power only to licence vessels operating within the 12-mile limit whereas it is essential that we have control of fishing grounds extending well beyond the 12-mile limit. If we had control over the marine life on and above the continental shelf it is possible that we would then have authority over the greater proportion of the area in question.
As to supervision over the area and policing against piracy, I suggest that in addition to officers of the fisheries section of the Department of Primary Industry, the Navy and the Air Force could effectively be employed in this way. Surely the employment of the Navy and the Air Force is only reasonable. How else, other than by engaging in active warfare, can we give our Navy and our Air Force work of a substantial and valuable nature? How the new patrol boats will be able to police effectively the waters of the north without other aid, I do not know. I submit that a reasonable solution is to tie in the patrolling of the waters of the north with our defence policy for the north. In this way valuable experience would be given to both our Navy and our Air Force personnel.
The importance of this matter should not be underrated. Although we have had from the Government side indications that the Government is about to do something about the Barrier Reef. I warn the Government that any contemplated action to protect the Reef and the waters of the north should not be allowed to flounder in the sea of Commonwealth and State relations. This area can be protected effectively only if definite and positive action is taken by the Commonwealth. But, judging, the Government on past performances, we feel certain that the Government will not take the required initiative. Further, 1 do not think we can take much comfort from what Senator McKellar said because I do not think he has a proper understanding of the problem. I think he is concerned only with licensing and the prevention of. exploitation of the waters within the 12-mile limit. We are looking beyond the 12-mile limit. We are looking at the area that covers not only the whole of the Barrier Reef but the whole of the continental shelf and this presents a problem of great magnitude and urgency.
– The Senate is discussing a matter which the Opposition claims is one of urgency. That matter is, as the Opposition has presented it:
The failure of the Government to initiate action to police, control and conserve the resources of the waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria and the Great Barrier Reef.
We have heard two speakers from the Opposition, and I suggest that their performances have been incredible. We have not heard from them any suggestion as to where the Government has failed to initiate action. We have had a few comments from Senator Keeffe about a failure to police, but there has been no indication whatsoever as to what is to be controlled, how it is to be controlled, or in what respects the Government has the authority to control. If there is to be a case against the Government on this issue, one would suspect that it is not to be found in anything which either Senator Keeffe or Senator Georges has said.
We have had a collection of unconnected irrelevancies and completely meaningless statements brought out in the Labor Party’s traditional manner to support this proposal. I instance only that Senator Keeffe gave certain figures about the consumption of sea food by Australians in th’: year 1966-67. I think his figures were 12 lb of sea food per head, of which 6 lb was imported and 6 lb locally produced. He instanced this to give some indication of the state of the fishing industry. He then proceeded to give figures about the great increase which is expected in the production of prawns and at the same rime used this sort of argument to show that the fishing industry is requiring Government support, that it is floundering and that the Government is to blame. All this docs not coincide with the sort of approach which one would expect to find when this proposal is put forward. Senator Keeffe also suggested that if there should be doubts, as there may be, about the entitlement of Australia to legislate with regard to the Gulf of Carpentaria, then Australia should lay claim to the Gulf and - here I use his own words - ‘fight it out afterwards.’ This is the attitude of a spokesman for a Party which seeks to preach to the Government from time to time about the sanctity of international obligations.
It is curious that this motion should have been brought forward today. A motion in identical terms was before the House of Representatives in August of this year. There has been nothing said to indicate that there has been any change since that date, yet it is brought forward today as a matter of urgency. Here I am reminded of the Australian Labor Party’s Federal secretary, Mr Wyndham. When he was addressing a conference of Labor women some short time ago. he said:
I sometimes wonder what the Party would take up if Vietnam finished. We would be rendered speechless. lt seems that he is possibly suggesting that until the Vietnam issue finishes his Party is not speechless. If he were here today, I suggest that he would have no basis for thinking that the Party would be any better conditioned. The Labor Party’s approach today is an indication of ils bankruptcy of issues upon which to challenge the Government or to offer something to the Australian people. We have had the experience in the Senate this year of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) putting resolutions of some substance on the notice paper involving questions relating to the democratic election of State parliaments, the voting age, a marriage bill, an alteration to the Constitution, and Commonwealth and Stale financial relations. There has never been any initiative on the part of the Leader of the Opposition to have these matters discussed: yet what has happened today? Senator Keeffe, who is the Leader of the Labor Party in another sphere, decided to bring this matter before the Senate. As I have already indicated I do not wish to go into it any further. No substantial argument has been raised to support what is proposed by the Opposition. 1 want now to deal with aspects of the merits of the case. It is suggested that the Government has failed to initiate action. Any action to be taken would relate to the waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria and the Great Barrier Reef. Until the early 1950s these waters, apart from that area regarded as the territorial seas, would have been regarded as the high seas. Australia would have no authority over the high seas and if it purported to exercise authority it would have no international right to back up that authority and to enable it to legislate in respect of the resources of the waters of the high seas. In 1953 Australia initiated action to assert its authority over the seabed of the continental shelf. A proclamation issued by the Australian Government in 1953 claimed for Australia the right to exploit the resources of the seabed of the continental shelf to a depth of 200 fathoms or further out if the area could be exploited. That was a bold act by Australia. In 1958 the proposition which Australia was asserting was given formal ratification by a United Nations convention which came into force in 1964. Therefore, initiative has been shown by Australia in claiming the right to exploit the resources of the seabed of the continental shelf. Because it has exercised that right it has been able to exercise control by means of the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act and similar legislation which was passed by this Parliament last year. Similar and complementary legislation was passed by the State parliaments also last year.
– The Government promptly referred the matter for inquiry by a Senate select committee.
– I appreciate that the matter is. being investigated, but this investigation is proceeding under specific terms .of reference, none of which relates to the matters raised in the terms for discussion put forward by the Opposition today. Considering, firstly, the Gulf of Carpentaria, we should appreciate that Australia can assert sovereignty only in respect of the waters of the territorial sea. ft may seek, subject to rights of passage, to assert the controls which may, from time to time, be necessary. In the area beyond the 3-mile limit of the territorial sea, Australia’s only right relates to the resources of the seabed and the regulation of fishing. We can regulate fishing only to 12 miles beyond the 3- mile limit. For the remainder, authority is given to nationals of any country to exercise the right of passage over the high seas. These rights are recognised by Australia in terms of the conventions to which it has subscribed. There is, of course, the Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone, to which Australia is a party. Article 1 of that Convention states:
The. sovereignty of a State extends, beyond its land territory and its internal waters, to a belt of sea adjacent to its coast, described as the territorial sea.
So far as the Gulf of Carpentaria is concerned, and indeed, the Great Barrier Reef, the territorial sea is an area equidistant from the coastline to a limit of 3 miles out. Australia is also a party to the Convention on the Continental Shelf, to which I have referred. The expression ‘continental shelf relates to the seabed and the subsoil of the submarine areas adjacent to the coast, but outside the area of the territorial sea, to a depth of 200 metres or beyond that limit to where the depth of the superadjacent waters admits of the exploitation of the natural resources of the said area. In regard to that area, article 2 of the Convention states that the coastal State exer cises over the continental, shelf sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring and exploiting its natural resources.
Apart from the rights which are given in respect of the territorial sea and the continental shelf, Australia is bound by the provisions of the Convention on the High Seas. Article 2 of that Convention stales that the high seas being open to ait nations, no state may validly- purport to subject- -any part of them to ils sovereignty. Freedom of the high seas is exercised under the conditions laid down by these articles and by the other rules of international law. They provide, inter alia - for both coastal and non-coastal states - freedom of navigation, freedom of fishing, freedom to lay submarine cables and pipelines and freedom to fly over the high seas:
The greater part of the Gulf of Carpentaria is part of the high seas. Australia has no right, under the obligations embodied in these conventions, to assert that it can exclude the ships of other nations from the Gulf. If it purports to do so it runs the risk of possible conflict on the high seas or, alternatively, of being challenged in the International Court .of. Justice. Australia, because it is a signatory to these conventions, should act cautiously. There is abundant evidence - and if is within the knowledge of members pf the Opposition - that the Commonwealth AttorneyGeneral (Mr Bowen) has indicated that the more these matters as to what Australia’s strict rights might be under international law are discussed, the less opportunity there is for manoeuvring by the Attorney-General when there are discussions about what rights Australia may assert. At present this field of international law is fluid. Prospective conventions are being discussed overseas. If Australia is to assert to its maximum benefit the national rights which. we all would like Australia to assert,, then it is prudent that Australia should not abandon those positions from which it can argue wilh the utmost strength.
– Australia should maintain its flexibility.
– Australia should endeavour to maintain its position of flexibility. The Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar), who represents in this chamber the Minister for Primary Industry, has indicated what the Government is doing and what it proposes to do with regard to the regulation of fishing in the Gulf of Carpentaria and in the waters of the Great Barrier Reef. I do not intend to repeat what he said.
It is important to recognise that the islands of the Reef are Australian territory and are within the sovereignty of the State of Queensland. It is of no use’ for the Commonwealth to speak positively instead of negatively, as Senator Georges said, if the Commonwealth has no power to control mining in the area of the Great Barrier Reef. With regard to some of the waters of the Reef, it is true that the Commonwealth’s claim to exploit the resources of the seabed may be stronger than that of the Stale of Queensland. However, having regard to the character of the area, it is inevitable that there must be’ co-operation between the State Government and the Federal Government. There is ample indication of the concern of the Queensland Government, just as there is ample evidence of the Commonwealth Government’s concern, that the Reef should be protected as a national asset. But nothing whatsoever has been put forward this afternoon to suggest that the Opposition’s claim that there has been a failure on the part of the Government is borne out by any evidence let alone by that which passes for evidence which the Opposition has sought lo bring forward.
– I rise lo support Senator Keeffe. The honourable senator criticised the Government for its failure to initiate action to police, control and conserve the resources of the waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria and the Great Barrier Reef. The Opposition believes that unless the Government initiates action in that direction Australia will forfeit by default. 1 assure the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) and the Government that the Opposition’s thoughts in this direction are quite objective and that its criticism is constructive. The Opposition is saying in effect what the people of Queensland are saying. If any honourable senator opposite cares to go to northern Queensland he will hear the same criticism as has been and will be voiced in this chamber today.
The Minister dispersed some cold comfort by saying that the Government took immediate action against a Chinese crew that was caught fishing in the waters of the
Barrier Reef. However, that is but one vessel that has been caught. Again I refer to the people of north Queensland. They will say that this was but one vessel out of thousands that have been marauding on the coast of north Queensland and making landings on the Great Barrier Reef. I repeat, it is cold comfort for the Minister to say that one vessel had been apprehended and discussions held with the captain of that vessel as to his rights to operate in that area, when everybody knows that thousands of vessels go undetected. Consequently, we have no idea whatsoever of the effects of this plundering of our natural resources. Earlier in the debate Senator Greenwood asked Senator Keeffe what proportion of Japan’s fish production was caught in Queensland waters. Of course, Senator Keeffe could not answer the question. I defy any honourable senator to answer that question. Nobody knows the answer.
– It was directed to our own production, Australia wide.
– That is immaterial. The fact remains that Senator Keeffe could not answer that question nor could any other honourable senator, because it is not known what quantity of fish is being caught by the many nations that are fishing in our waters. 1 repeat that the people of Queensland are concerned at what they claim to be the inactivity of the Government in this direction. Recently I attended a function with a friend of mine who is a prominent member of the Liberal Party - Country Party coalition in the Queensland State Parliament. My friend, who is a member of the Australian Country Party, asked me whether 1 had participated in a demonstration march the previous day. I replied that I had not participated in that demonstration but that I felt I was entitled to organise a march protesting against the inactivity of the Government on matters concerning the Great Barrier Reef. His immediate reply was: ‘And I would be the first to join such a protest march’. That is indicative of the feeling not only of Labor supporters in Queensland but also of many members of the Liberal Party - -Country Party coalition in Queensland. I believe that notwithstanding the advice of eminent authorities the Government has procrastinated too long on this issue. I would like to quote what Professor Tarlo, who is
Dean of the Faculty of. Law at the University of Queensland, had to say on the matter. He said:
The Federal Government could enforce the closure of the waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria by regulatory legislation, declaring the Gulf to be internal waters.
International law is not like the internal laws of a State. It is in a less stable form. lt is being formed and developed all the time and much of what passes for international law is in fact based on unilateral action which is approved only negatively by other countries which appear to acquiesce. lt is subject to dynamic change.
Professor Tarlo is an authority on international law and his advice should be considered. Other countries have not hesitated to declare their intentions first and argue afterwards if necessary. What did Russia do in 1957 in relation to the Peter the Great Bay? It acted notwithstanding protests. And it now holds and polices that area. What happened with Hudson Bay? The Canadian Government acted in accordance with what it believed to be the interests of its people. In relation to proper government direction and what a nation considers to be rightly its property, a United Nations document titled The Law of the Sea’ has this to say:
In 1906 notwithstanding the assumption of the world as to the status of Hudson Bay, the Government of Canada placed on its statute books a statute declaring that waters of Hudson Bay to be territorial waters of Canada.
Arguments are continuing about that. But the situation is that the Canadian Government placed a statute on its books and it is now policing the Hudson Bay area. The Australian Government is not taking the initiative in a similar direction, notwithstanding the fact that there have been strong precedents that would entitle it to take similar action to that to which I have referred. But the Australian Government does nothing except provide an excuse for other than Australians to lay claim to the Great Barrier Reef and the waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria. The Government has been criticised on many occasions by eminent people for its inactivity. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) was taken to task by the Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Queensland for his attitude. The Dean said:
It is unfortunate that the Minister for Primary Industry should be attempting to prejudge the issue against Australia’s interests as he did at Karumba last Thursday . . . with the Government
Ministers making public statements of this nature Australia does not need enemies.
If people in that respected area of education make statements of that nature in criticism of the Government then surely the Opposition is entitled to raise the matter - and it is the Opposition’s duty to raise the matter - in this chamber. Surely the Government must, have some reason for not taking positive action and doing as the Opposition suggests. Could it be that it does not wish to offend the powerful Japanese interests who plunder our waters? lt would certainly be disrespectful of me as a new member of the Senate lo suggest such a thing.
People are asking these questions. Could it be that we do not have an efficient naval patrol boat service in the area? Or could it be that once we lay claim to the waters we would be required to establish and to expand a proper fishing industry? With all due respect I suggest that we have not established a proper fishing industry. lt is all very well for the Minister to remind us of what the Commonwealth Government, in conjunction with the Queensland Government, did in endeavouring to explore the waters to ascertain their, potential. Our fleet is quite inadequate when compared with the foreign ships that come to the area. We are obliged to the “Van Gogh’ for coming to the Gulf if for no other reason . than that it showed what other countries have implemented as desirable features of fishing boats. I know that there are. different ways of comparing the governments of the USSR and Australia, but in comparison with the efficiency of the ‘Van Gogh’ our Australian fishing fleet does not measure uo to world standards. No member on. the Government side could claim that the Australian fleet is efficient, when compared with the one foreign ship that has visited our waters.
Why did the ‘Van Gogh’ come to the Gulf of Carpentaria? Someone must have supplied news of the beneficial results that could be obtained if it fished in these waters. Certainly we would not tell of the beneficial results that could accrue. Surely we are entitled to ask whether the Japanese fishing interests told not only the Russians but possibly other nations, too, of the bounteous supply of banana prawns in the Gulf. The fear of the people of Australia, particularly those in north Queensland, is that marauders will continue to invade this area. Unless we act in concert and unless we lake the action proposed by Senator Keeffe, they will continue to operate in this area. Whatever the reason, it can be said that the Government is procrastinating at this stage, lt it all very well for the Government to say that it is examining the international law. We have had no evidence that the Government intends to claim the waters under international law. I repeat: If members of the Government say that direct action is too brutal for them, let them prove to us that they are endeavouring to achieve the same result in a lawful manner.
Certain people have said that some areas of the Great Barrier Reef could be exploited. They have said this quite conscientiously. Quite a number of people in government circles and in the Public Service have said that, within limits and with proper safeguards, the Reef could be exploited. We say that the Reef is our inheritance, lt is one of the wonders of the world. If we start tinkering with it, no matter what safeguards we try to provide eventually we will lose the advantage of what is regarded as being one of the greatest tourist attractions in the world. That is the seriousness of the situation with regard to the Great Barrier Reef. We know that many Chinese boats go to the Great Barrier Reef searching for clams. They destroy part of the coral to get to the clams. The clam shells are then thrown overboard and the coral in that area dies immediately. These are serious matters. I hope the Government will take our attitude as being one of offering constructive criticism. 1 hope the Government will take positive steps to show that it has an interest in the matter. 1 hope it will accept criticism as being objective. 1 thank honourable senators for having listened so patiently to me.
Sitting suspended from 5.4S to 8 p.m.
– We are discussing a matter of urgency raised by Senator Keeffe. He referred to the failure of the Government to initiate action to police and control the resources in the waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria and the Great Barrier Reef. The honourable senator has not said whether he is referring to the Federal Government or to the Queensland Government. I presume he is referring to the Federal Government but he should take note that the Queensland Government also has a responsibility for the Great Barrier Reef and fishing in Queensland waters. It is a sovereign power with control over laws relating to the land and consequently has a responsibility in this matter. In years gone by the Great Barrier Reef was little known to the people of Australia other than through geography books. Within the last 10 or 20 years interest has been awakened in the resources there. The present Queensland Government has been responsible for a great deal of development of the tourist industry in respect of the Great Barrier Reef and surrounding islands.
– Thanks to Reg Ansett.
– Thanks are due not only to Reg Ansett. Tom Hiley was Treasurer in the Queensland Government and was also Minister in Charge of Fisheries. In association with the Minister for Lands, he went to a great deal of trouble to assist the fishing industry by establishing secure tenure for people who were prepared to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds in developing tourist facilities. Great expansion has occurred in that direction. Consequently many people have developed an interest in the Great Barrier Reef. The Queensland Government wants not only to develop the resources in the area of the Great Barrier Reef. It wishes also to preserve it as a great tourist attraction.
Recently the Queensland Government asked Dr Ladd of the United States of America to investigate the possible effects on the Reef of the development of mineral discoveries there. Dr Ladd has reported lo the Queensland Government. A lot of Press publicity has been given to what Dr Ladd has said and has not said, but it is clear that the Queensland Government is still considering his report. It will ensure that further investigations are made before exploitation of the mineral wealth of the Great Barrier Reef is permitted so that damage to the Reef will be avoided.
No Australian fishing industry existed in north Queensland before encouragement was given by the Queensland Government. It is just so much rot to say that Japanese and other overseas fishermen have started to come here, all of a sudden. They have been fishing in those waters tor years. Anyone raised in north Queensland knows that Chinese and Japanese vessels have been coming to north Queensland ports for years. It was once possible to buy pieces of coral in the streets of Cairns. People were taking the Reef away, piece by piece, without anyone doing anything about it, until appropriate action was taken. The Federal Government and the Queensland Government got together to explore the possibilities of establishing a fishing industry off the Queensland coast and particularly in the waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria. It has been discovered that great possibilities exist, especially for prawn fishing, in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Craig Mostyn and Co. Pty Ltd was involved in the initial investigations and Markwell Bros Pty Ltd has now entered the field.
Last weekend I visited Townsville and saw there a man who previously owned a light aircraft company in western Queensland. The drought forced him out of that business. He is now about to engage in the prawning industry in the Gulf of Carpentaria. With the help of a few friends he was able to secure a loan from the Commonwealth Development Bank adequate to outfit a prawn boat. He believes that he will be in operation in about 6 months. His catch of prawns is estimated at about 1 million lb a year.
Many people are entering the fishing industry and putting up a lot of capital. They will be able to compete more than favourably with overseas fishing interests. In the past the Australian fishing industry has not had the finance or the incentive to attract people with the money and knowhow to enter the industry and to help it to develop. The future of the industry was uncertain. I am quite sure that even when the waters of the Gulf are almost overloaded with trawlers, more people will be entering the industry to fish the waters off other parts of the Australian coastline. Areas that have been fished before will be fished on a more economic and more efficient basis.
Once governments offer encouragement to an industry trouble develops. 1 said earlier that prior to governmental encouragement there was no fishing industry in the areas of northern Queensland. There was no trouble because nothing was going on. Now great resources of prawns and other fish have been discovered. Many people are interested and consequently trouble has developed. I believe that the Federal Government has acted responsibly in looking into the position. We have entered into international agreements.
Members of the Labor Parly have always claimed that we should honour our international agreements and that we should not do anything to create bad relations with other nations. But today we are told by the Opposition that we should adopt high-handed tactics against Russian and other overseas vessels. Is it suggested that we should send a couple of gunboats to the Gulf to act against the “Van Gogh’ or any other overseas ship in that area? What happens if the nation of the ship we act against brings a few destroyers to bear? The ‘Van Gogh* has not returned to the Gulf since it was shadowed by Royal Australian Air Force aircraft.
– ls the honourable senator not aware that another Russian ship is there now?
– I know that. And there is one off the Western Australian coast and one in the Great Australian Bight. They are in international waters and are fully entitled to be there. But we know they are there and that is the important point. We are developing a new industry. Of course, the Labor Party knocks c. .-ry industry that we try to develop in Australia. Members of the Labor Party knock the Australian oil industry. They would rather we paid about $600m a year for imports of oil than develop our own oil industry. Senator Keeffe said that we are importing about half of our requirements of fish, including prawns. Members of the Opposition do not want us to develop our own industry.
– We want the Government to do something about it.
– The Government is doing something and the Opposition docs not like it. If the present trend in fishing in the Gulf of Carpentaria continues, within 12 months we will be able to supply our own requirements. This is a result of ac:l. t taken by the Federal Government.
– And about time. too.
– Action was being taken by the Federal Government long before the Opposition thought of raising the matter.
– ls the honourable senator claiming that the Federal Government is a responsible government?
– lt is a responsible government. The Federal Government and the Queensland Government are both responsible governments. Because the Federal Government is a responsible government we are taking a leading part in a conference on the law of the sea to try to establish control over our waters. We took a leading role in having the law of the sea extended to cover our sedentary species and we are still in that leading position. We are taking action through our Pearl Fisheries Act to maintain authority over peariing and trochus shell fishing in Australian waters. Action is in progress to control other sedentary species.
– What sort of action?
– In Queensland we have taken joint action.
– Mr President. 1 rise to order. Senator Keeffe was heard in silence. I ask that Senator Maunsell also bc afforded that privilege.
– Order! There is no substance to the point raised.
Senator MAUNSELL Senator Keeffe does not worry me. There has been encouragement of shore based processing plants, which is most important. In the past anything could have been taken from Australian waters. No-one knew who was fishing our waters because we had no-one in the area, lt is only since our fishermen have been in these waters that we have known of fishermen from other countries coming in. But now that we have our own processing plants in Australia our own fishermen are wanting to compete. Others who wish to come in may do so only under permit and they will be required to process their prawns and fish at our Austraiian bases. We are limiting the number of mother ships that visit Australian waters. I understand that in future licences will not he given to the operators of mother ships to operate in the Gulf of Carpentaria; in other words, ail catches will have to be brought to the bases for processing. There was immediate action to bring sense and order into the situation that developed in the Gulf of Carpentaria when the ‘Van Gogh’ first appeared on the scene and troubled the Australian fishing fleet. As honourable senators will be aware, since then our naval patrol boats have been in the area and the Royal Australian Air Force also has been patrolling the region. In addition our own fishing vessels report on what is happening and supply information to the Service patrols. Consequently, any foreign vessel which now comes in and molests our fleet in any way will find itself in trouble.
Wc have extended the Australian fishing /.one from 3 miles to 12 miles. I presume that this is not considered to be worth while by Senator Keeffe and other members of the Labor Party, but it was something which was done by this Government. We have co-operation with the States in relation to the development of a fishing industry and the formation of a fishing policy. There has been an implementation of this policy to ensure that yields are sustained and operations are profitable. This aspect also is most important, but it is something that has been happening in the Australian fishing industry for quite some time. As I said earlier, in Australia we have not had the capital resources to make the industry economic. We have not been able to conduct research and to develop the industry on a sound basis that would enable our fishermen and the fishing industry in general to compete with other nations. The moment we arrive at that situation the problems which arise from other nations coming in will disappear. It was only because we were not aware that these areas would return lucrative yields of fish and did not bother lo fish them that we encouraged the Japanese and others to fish near our shores. I cannot understand why this matter has been raised in this place. I have not heard anything from Opposition speakers to suggest that there is any emergency which requires any action in addition to that which has already been taken. Everything mentioned by honourable senators opposite has already been acted upon by the Federal Government and the Queensland Government. I think that the discussion of this matter has been a sheer waste of time.
– I support the original proposal raised by Senator Keeffe and I propose to narrate the sequence of events that have occurred. Senator Maunsell mentioned various Asian nations and said, in a vague sort of way that their ships had been present in our waters. I remind him of the situation at the end of World War II and in the early 1950s when it was obvious that the nations to which he referred were going through a period of rehabilitation. It was not until the mid-1950s that their merchant fleets began to develop and become a problem. As a preliminary comment I should state that this Government’s defence policy has always been developed around potential threats to our coastline. Those threats have been based on ideological and other factors. So the Government has had to be aware of the situation that could develop. Let us leave defence to one side. It will be recalled that fishing has been a rather competitive field in which national aspirations have clashed. This question does not involve the issue as to whether we are a medium power and as to whether other countries have greater populations than ours.
Senator Keeffe referred, among other things, to policing, controlling and conserving our fisheries. Let us consider some of the situations that have confronted relatively small countries like Iceland and Ireland. In their own regions they have had many little brush fire skirmishes over fishing rights. 1 do not suggest any more than did Senator Keeffe that such a situation will arise here or that it will be avoided by indulging in power diplomacy. In the mid- 1950s it was apparent to everybody, even to people without very much foresight, that we were getting too little too late, and one of the early priorities in boosting our defence should have been the acquisition of patrol boats. I understood the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) and also Senator Maunsell to say that these patrol boats arc now operating, but they are not the be-all and end-all in protecting our fisheries. There was a classic situation not so long ago when an Australian boat in northern waters apprehended a couple of Formosan fishermen. But then we had the indignity of the two fellows who had been arrested being hijacked and taken out of Australian territorial waters. Nobody in this debate or even at that time has told us where the co-ordination failed, why the patrol boat could not get in touch with the defence authorities, and why there was no co-ordination with the aerial patrols.
From time to time in pre-war days Canada had problems of this kind; but now Canada seems to have integrated patrols with the result that this sort of situation is avoided. I can imagine that if the incident involving the Formosan fishermen had happened while a Labor Government was in office one Australian newspaper would have commented that Australia’s honour had been dragged in the dust, lt has been suggested that because we now have so many patrol boats this situation cannot develop again, but in view of what happened last lime 1 question whether that is so. 1 listened very intently to Senator McKellar who, as a responsible Minister, answered the points raised by earlier Opposition speakers. He quoted from correspondence from the Formosan Government in which certain assurances were given. I do not know whether our Department of External Affairs soft pedalled on this issue, but I do not think it would jingoistic to suggest that the Formosan Government should have handed back the two fishermen to face trial in Australia for trespassing. T do not suggest that we should have been unduly aggressive, but there must be respect for the law. Scandinavian and other countries insist on their laws being observed. A weakness that has been apparent in the arguments presented by the Government supporters.
Senator Maunsell said that proper development in the fishing industry has been encouraged. I have always believed that even in countries like the United States and Canada, which have federal systems, incentives have been provided to enable such industries to develop. Under the United States post-war policy, even in respect of Marshall aid, there was an insistence that a large amount of the tonnage be carried to Europe and other distressed areas in American ships. I give the Americans full credit for adopting that policy. But we have never seen a policy like that from our Federal Government, except in a very mild form when recently the Government kid down conditions for our own merchant marine. Our lack of shipping has been a weakness, and that is one of the reasons why Senator Keeffe sponsored this motion.
Also in Australia there is a multiplicity of authorities in respect of marine life. We had a situation last year which prompted me to ask a question about dolphins. 1 received a reply to my question, but I found that there was a host of State ministries to deal with in addition to the Minister for Shipping and Transport in the Commonwealth sphere. It is for that very reason that the Commonwealth Government has to assume the role of co-ordinator.
In order to give a classic illustration of what we mean when we say that the Government should play a more positive role, I refer to the rather belated protection of the Great Barrier Reef. Senator McKellar conceded to Senator Keeffe across the chamber that he was pleased that both sides had agreed on the tourist potential and national potential of the Reef and the necessity to protect it from dangers from within - let alone external dangers - in the form of certain vested mining interests that wanted to mine on the Reef. I exempt Senator Wright from this criticism, but when the warden’s court was convened the case would have been put. far more effectively and would have had much more substance if the Commonwealth Government had been represented and had put its point of view. That has been done in other fields. lt has been done on a host of occasions in the industrial field. Sometimes I have agreed wilh the viewpoint that has been put. Other times honourable senators opposite would have agreed with the viewpoint that was put. But the precedent existed. The Commonwealth Government could have briefed counsel in order to give some moral support and to show how seriously it regarded the matter.
The position was that there was a tremendous amount of agitation by private groups, including fauna groups and tourist groups, when the mining warden’s report was presented to the Queensland Minister. There were counter forces that felt that the Reef should be mined. I believe that it would be false to say that there has been a sudden awakening of interest. Some of these mining groups are quite happy to ravish this continent under the guise of progress whenever they have the opportunity to do so. I suggest that when the warden’s court was convened the Commonwealth Government should have been represented, just as it has been from time to time in national wage cases. But, fortunately, on this occasion, the decision went the way many of us wanted it to go.
Let me refer now to the future. Honourable senators opposite talk about great powers and the Labor Party’s attitude to international control on the one hand and genuine nationalism on the other. It is quite obvious that this case requires a blending of the two. There has been a very late acquisition of patrol boats and intensification of patrols. Had those actions been synchronised with the resurgence of nationalism in Japan and China - whether mainland China or Formosa - in- the middle 1950s, this deterrent would have warned people off and they would have ceased much of their poaching. Some Government speakers say that there was a sudden awakening of interest in the area. But Australia just happened to be the last of the continents that had not been adequately policed. So the Government came up with an intensification of patrols. But we do not stop at the suggestion that there should be sufficient patrol boats.
In my opinion, the incident to which I referred and in which two prisoners whom one of our patrols had taken were hijacked was a pretty poor advertisement, or at least a failure to meet the situation. Surely the men on the patrol could have radioed for a Royal Australian Air Force aircraft to buzz the hijackers and make them release the two people whom the men on our patrol had taken into custody. At the very least the Chinese Government should have paid heavy damages for the offence. Irrespective of the ideology of the government of a country, from time to time its nationals break laws overseas. Australian ‘ nationals break laws overseas, but we. do not go to war over it. Obviously in some cases a country must admit that its citizens have been at fault. In this situation, whether mainland China, Formosa or Japan is involved, the people knew in their hearts what the situation was and they would have to make a greater acceptance of Australia’s sovereign rights.
I believe that much more could have been done about assistance to industries. I have referred to the United States, a country which has had more or less a capitalist economy but which did not ever consider it infra dig to give incentives to its shipbuilding industry or to lay- down percentages of exports that had to be carried in its own ships. As a matter of fact, some of the strength and stability of the Scandinavian countries has resulted from the adoption of a similar policy. So, when we members of the Opposition ventilate these criticisms we are not being jingoistic or warlike in any way; we are making a sober assessment of the situation. With reference to the conservation of resources, each year we receive a very fine report from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. Fisheries research has been among its activities. If we are building up the Australian industry, I suggest that some of the fishing groups could well provide more scholarships to enable the CSIRO to do more research.
Overall, our criticism falls into a number of categories. Firstly there is the defence field. The Government talks about the resurgence of military activity in countries to our near north or in Asia, but it was rather slow in improving our Navy and Air Force to meet the situation. 1 repeat that the situation did not require very costly aircraft; it required only the emulation of what is done in north America and along the coasts of Scandinavian countries and Iceland. Secondly, I believe that the Government should have given a greater monetary incentive. Finally, in relation to the Great Barrier Reef the Government could well emulate what has been done by the Canadian Northern Resources Ministry in the Yukon. There seems to be activity from Ottawa that ensures that the various provincial governments in Canada move in tandem with the government in Ottawa. In my opinion the case before the warden’s court in Queensland, to which I have referred, was a line ball one. If another request is made by big interests, we will not know what the decision on it will be, unless there is a full battery of representatives of the Queensland and Commonwealth governments. These are the fears that we have at the national level. Notwithstanding the attempts made by Senator McKellar to refute some of our arguments, so far the Government has not answered the case presented in the episodes that I have quoted.
– I rise to discuss this matter of urgency in which the Opposition claims that the Government has failed to initiate action to police, control and conserve the resources of the waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria and the Great Barrier Reef. We have just heard Senator Mulvihill make a quite interesting speech, but to my way of thinking he did not in any way add to this matter of urgency which condemns the Government. I have found it quite difficult to gain from Senator Mulvihill and some of the earlier Labor senators just what they are complaining about. One fact is clear, namely, that the fishing industry is important. In 1962-63 the fishing industry meant $31m in income to Australia. In 1966-67 this amount had risen to $45m. In the first 8 months of this year the prawning industry in the Gulf of Carpentaria brought in $I.2m of export income.
Therefore, we are talking about something of great importance to an isolated part of northern Australia. As I see the matter, the Opposition has not discharged the onus which is on it to lay down what the Government should ‘be doing. First of all, the situation seems to be that we should examine the legal position with regard to the Gulf of Carpentaria. In the past Australia has taken a foremost interest in the legal aspects of the sea. In 1953 the Government proclaimed that Australia had legal sovereignty over the continental shelf, and in 1958 Australia’s representative, now Sir Kenneth Bailey, played a very active role in formulating the convention relating to the law of the sea as part of the law of nations.
There is a territorial sea of 3 miles around the Gulf of Carpentaria. In that area the Government has complete control. In 1957 it established a 12-mile exclusive fishing zone from which foreign fishermen were excluded. Of course that zone applies also to the Gulf. The whole of the seabed of the Gulf is part of Australia’s continental shelf. AH the mineral resources and all the sedentary fish on it are subject to Australian sovereignty. However, Australia does not have exclusive fishing rights in relation to swimming fish, which includes prawns, in that area of the continental shelf.
As the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) mentioned in his statement to the other place on 15th August last, a comprehensive appraisal of Australia’s legal position is being carried out. T understand that the Attorney-General has engaged the services of prominent experts in international law who are studying this question very deeply, as well as the question of how international law may be developed to Australia’s advantage because international law is constantly undergoing development. Earlier in the debate it was pointed out that South America has claimed a territorial sea of up to 200 miles from her coast. In other words, South America claims an exclusive fishing zone to that distance. That is a development of the law in that area which that country is putting forward. So, as I have said, the law currently is being developed. At present the fishing rights that Australia has claimed legally extend for only 12 miles from the shore.
The Government is not dilatory in this matter. Instead, it is engaging in the bes research possible and to that end has retained the services of experts who, as I have mentioned, are learned in international law. I understand that the Government is working on the line of extending the distance from the coast. In claiming this area of sovereignty the Government is not confined only to fishing. To be consistent in international practice, what the Government is claiming in relation to Australia it will have to concede to other countries. We arc an island continent and in order to engage in profitable commerce we have to ship our goods to many areas in South East Asia by the shortest and most convenient route. In addition our international airline overflies many countries. Consequently if we adopted an illegal attitude to the use by other countries of the territorial waters and the waters surrounding Australia, we could be hit with the same attitude very much to our disadvantage in matters of sea and air transport. Until this delicate legal question is cleared up properly I do not think the attitude of the Labor Party in claiming the area first and then litigating it before the International Court is the right attitude to adopt. 1 think we should evaluate our position carefully with the assistance of the best legal brains in this field and then make our claim.
We are an adult nation. We have to live alongside the United States of America and the United Kingdom, which follow very closely the principles of international law. If we made the blundering step that has been suggested by the Opposition - one then could almost liken us to. a bull in a china shop - and sealed off the Gulf of Carpentaria and the whole of the area between the outer Barrier Reef, and the Queensland coast and forbade any fishing activities in those areas, 1 think that we would do great damage to Australia’s reputation. Incidentally, apart from our .reputation it could do great damage to our; export trade and our air traffic because animosity could well be shown to us by some of the . closer countries in South East Asia. Caution should be the watchword in this matter. I do not think the Opposition is doing itself or Australia much good by recommending the course that a number of its speakers have recommended - that is, to- hunt from this area foreign fishermen, who, according to our reading of the law at present, are there legally whereas after further study and development of the law it could be found that we have sovereign rights over the area and they could not fish there without our permission.
The Government has been active in controlling the situation since the occurrence of the incidents to which honourable senators opposite have referred. The patrols of the area carried out by the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force have had good results in that some form of international law of the sea is being observed. Australian fishermen now display the internationally recognised fishing signals at the appropriate time, and the Soviet vessel which was in the area has respected those signals. In other words, the law is being observed by both Australian and international fishermen. In addition the Fisheries Act 1952-1967 has been enacted, by which it is an offence for foreigners to fish in the 12-mile declared fishing zone without a licence under that Act. The Government has also brought within the scope of the Act processing vessels which previously could operate without hindrance provided they did not take fish.
The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) announced recently that the Government was considering the introduction of legislation to protect the living resources of the continental shelf. This would include the whole area of the Gulf, and it is hoped to introduce such legislation during the current session in order to deal with this urgent problem. Of course, translating it to the Great Barrier Reef, that would control the taking of clams. So I consider that the situation has improved notably in the last 5 months and that consequently there is no justification for the urgency matter that is before the Senate. 1 therefore urge upon the Opposition not to be continually bringing up these matters of law relating to sovereignty over areas of the Great Australian Bight while they are so delicately being considered by the Attorney-General and the Department of External Affairs.
– My approach to the matter which has been presented by Senator Keeffe follows to some extent the line which has just been put to Iiic Senate by Senator Laught. This proposal, in the terms in which it is framed, would appear lo indicate that nothing whatsoever has been done in the way of initiative taken by the Government to protect our very valuable natural assets, either physical or in the form of marine life. As stated by the Opposition, the proposal contradicts the facts. Had the proposal been presented in comparative terms such as that inadequate action or insufficient action had been taken, it. might have been a different proposition, but nobody could support it in the cold terms in which it is framed.
If the proposal has any value it is that it expresses the concern of the Opposition for the problem which is presented by the assets which we hold in the northern parts of Australia, and which are so valuable. But that is a concern that is not exclusive to the Opposition, lt is a concern which is shared by the members of the Government and by the members of the Australian Democratic Labor Party. Therefore, if this motion has any value whatsoever - and I agree that it does not appear to have that clement of urgency which warrants the devotion of the Senate to it al the present time - it is that it does convey the genuine concern which we have.
The problem which is associated with the protection of the Gulf of Carpentaria and its waters and of the Barrier Reef has two aspects. First of all there is the problem of control of the waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria itself. This in itself poses a different problem from that connected with the Barrier Reef. The problem of the Barrier Reef is a problem of the sovereignly and control of a geographical outcrop of physical proportions and then along the littoral of the east coast of Australia, and of the marine life which accompanies the Barrier Reef and the waters that surround it.
Our concern for these matters and our identification wilh the protection of these assets arises because of the new approach by the world to international commerce and the increasing interest in what is available in the natural resources of Australia outside the Territory of Australia itself. For many years, Australia was to some extent an isolated continent and its vast resources were not only unappreciated to some extent within the confines of the Commonwealth but were totally unappreciated outside.
In more recent years we have seen an awakening world interest in the resources that, this continent has for exploration and exploitation. We have seen in the commercial ventures of the great powers - Russia, Japan and China - this awakening interest in Australia’s natural resources. Russia, of course, is spreading her commercial wings over the whole world lit- ,a method we have never witnessed before. We have seen her following her historical ambition of trying to get into the warm waters of the Mediterranean. We see her ships now trading in the Far East. She has always been interested internationally in the whaling industry, and now we find her in the fishing industry in the sense that the term ‘fishing’ is used as distinct from ‘whaling’, in this part of the world. Japan, similarly, is a power that has always been interested in marine exploration and exploitation. She, too, is extending her commercial activities into this part of the world, as ako is mainland China. All these things raise great problems for Australia. In other words, we are now confronted with a situation which is attracting world attention and in which we have to determine and declare and adopt our own position.
The situation in the Gulf of Carpentaria is a particularly sensitive one and 1 agree with Senator Laught that the proposal, in the terms in which it is framed, obviously takes no account whatsoever of the major type “f protection that is available to a nation with a continent of this size to protect and conserve and a population as small as ours to do it. That is the protection that we can get under the law. If we can achieve that, then the fact that we have not the physical capacity adequately to police the vast coastline of Autralia would be of secondary importance. The important thing is to establish protection under the lr.w.
As lo the Gulf of Carpentaria, as Se::..tor Laught says, there are claims being asserted in various parts of the world for control of inlets and gulfs of dimensions such y this, with ranges of 200 miles. Many of these rights have a proscriptive basis, the basis that, because the waters have beer regarded as internal and territorial waters from time immemorial, therefore by proscription that right should be internationally acknowledged. That may be a claim that we can assert in relation to the Gulf “f Carpentaria and its waters. The only thing is that it is difficult to establish proscriptive rights because there has not been modern trade and commerce operating in the Gulf- this continent was not discovered until the eighteenth century. In that case, the proscriptive right as a basis of claim of right may not be valid. Nevertheless, there are protestations around the world of rights in terms such as we would assert in this case. These should bc studied, as Senator Laught has suggested, and should be asserted if possible. As 1 have said, the Barrier Reef poses another problem because it requires the assertion of sovereignty over a physical land mass, over the intermediate waters, over the islands which make up some parts of it inside and outside the Barrier Reef, and the marine life and all the waters adjacent to and around the islands, as well a’ between it and the Australian coast. This again, as I say, is another problem. 1 would suggest that in these matters we should first of all attempt to establish our claim by law. As the law is in a somewhat inchoate situation throughout the world, and as the international law in relation to territoriality is under discussion, under challenge and under assertion and has not settled down to any universal system of recognition, I think we want to adopt a certain legal attitude to these things. I was unaware, but I am delighted to know, that this aspect of the mutter is actually being discussed by experts called in to assist by the Attorney-General. That obviously is the most prudent and most satisfactory way, the way which will ultimately be the most fruitful method in which the matter can be handled. But there are those phrases which we use in the assertion of powers within the confines of the Commonwealth of Australia- ‘probing the limits of the Constitution’ and ‘probing the fringes of the Constitution’; that is, reaching out your hand to assert rights to the very limit to which you can go before you are asked to withdraw your hand. I suggest that that could well be a legitimate way in which we could approach this matter.
If we are backed by law; if we are able lo assert our views within the changing field of public international law, or this segment of it; if we are able to rely upon opinions which are being expressed, which are being exchanged and which are being asserted by eminent international lawyers;’ I’ think it would be wise for us, without brashness, and without legal arrogance, and provided we have adequate and prudent bases, lo assert our rights at that level and let our assertion of those rights be challenged or investigated or countered by those who, academically and intellectually, would be prepared to deny them.
– Where do we assert these rights?
– I think these’ rights should be asserted by the Government s expressed attitude. They should be asserted in the expressed attitudes of our legal experts in international discussions. They should be asserted at international conconferences about the sea and associated matters where our attitude on legal mailers can be asserted by our academic and professional lawyers.
– Perhaps that is being done now.
– That may be so. Senator Laught indicated that this matter is being studied but he did not indicate the attitude of the lawyers advising the Government. I am suggesting that in this matter we should be rather liberal in our expression of legal entitlement and not unduly conservative. I feel that the international lawyers today are expressing’ ‘liberal attitudes. New ‘international concepts in law are arising, lt is not for us to sit back’ and see the assertion of rights by others without us attempting legitimately, prudently, wisely and rationally to assert o.ur. rights at the highest level available.
There is another aspect of the matter which should attract national attention, more particularly in relation to the land masses laying off the Australian coast. Before starting to assert our rights internationally, and lo assert them at the level I have suggested, we ought to resolve the legal differences between the Commonwealth Government and the State governments. Undoubtedly this is an unresolved field of legal disputation. Attempts have been made, by means of co-ordinated and parallel complementary legislation, to devise systems by which the control of these areas outside the continent itself shall be established and asserted. It has not yet been judicially and finally established where sovereignty lies, lt may not be easy to do this. However, if we are to go into the international forum in order to establish our position, it would be very wise if we were first to establish our own legal position within the nation. We might first solve the problem that exists between the Commonwealth Government and the Slate governments. We could then go forward and present ourselves in the international forum with more confidence and with a greater sense of national security.
Therefore, in this matter we want to adopt some definite attitudes. We should be particularly conscious of the richness of our national endowment in these two areas we arc speaking of. That is why I have been gratified to hear the discussion that has taken place in the Senate on this matter for 3 hours. We should be attempting to assert our rights within the legitimate limits of the accepted field of international law and we should adopt a liberal legal approach to asserting our rights as far as they can be projected. Having asserted our rights, we should make sure, by appropriate action, that those rights are observed by others, at the highest possible level, and that they are observed as scrupulously as possible. In other words, when we assert our rights we want to accompany that assertion with a demonstration of reasonable and prudent strength to illustrate that we are serious and want to protect what we have.
Finally, we want to deal firmly within the realms of the municipal law, with those who would violate the law as established and the legal canons which we apply. I feel that in that way, at this undetermined stage of our entitlement we could at least show a consciousness of our heritage and demonstrate that we are taking every legitimate step, under the present conditions, in order to protect it.
– At the outset of my remarks I want to congratulate Senator Byrne for saying that he was gratified that this 3-hour debate had taken place. Speakers on the Government side have said they were wondering why this matter of urgency had been brought before the Senate today. Senator Laught said it had not been made clear what the Australian Labor Party was complaining about. Honourable senators on this side are complaining about the $100m prawn fishing industry in the Gulf of Carpentaria being pirated. We are complaining about the devastation of the Great Barrier Reef.
– No evidence has been given to show that devastation has occurred.
– -If that is what the honourable senator says, I ask: Why is the Government so concerned about passing legislation if there has been no devastation?
– What legislation is the Government passing?
– The Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) who is leading for the Government in this debate stood up and said that the Government was not concerned about this matter because legislation would be introduced, he hoped, during this sessional period. Yet Senator Greenwood says that there is no devastation. I think he had better look again at his own words. Senator Laught said that if Australia sealed off large parts of its north we would do ourselves great damage internationally. In this debate we have heard from Senator Greenwood, Senator Laught and Senator Byrne and the Minister “for Works (Senator Wright) will follow me. We will have heard from just about every legal eagle in the Senate what our position is internationally.
Each of them wants to tell us that Australia should move very cautiously in this field. I do not know where Australia would have been had it moved cautiously throughout its history. It certainly would not have been in the position it is in today. I am concerned about this poaching of our prawning industry in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Although Western Australia is not mentioned in the terms of the subject presented for discussion by my colleague, Senator Keeffe, this type of pirating is occurring also off the north-western coast of Western Australia where there is another $100m industry.
– That is happening on the high seas.
– After listening for a quarter of an hour to Senator Greenwood, I am completely confused as to where the high seas are. It is not unusual for me to be confused after listening to legal eagles. Senator Greenwood complained because the Opposition asserts that we should lay claim to the Gulf of Carpentaria and fight the matter out afterwards. Is that not what our forefathers did when they came to Australia? They laid claim to this country and fought the matter out later. We would nol be here now if they had nol done so. What is wrong wilh laying claim to the Gulf of Carpentaria and the Great Barrier Reef waters? Why should we not lay claim to them today and let someone else try to take them from us later? Australia is game enough and brave enough to be involved in the fighting in Vietnam. Let us fight for something of our own and not continue fighting in that country.
– What about international law and order and the other things that Senator Murphy talks about?
– The honourable senator says that we should have respect for international relations. We do not have international respect for being involved in the Vietnam conflict. Practically every country is against our involvement. Senator Greenwood also had the temerity to ask Senator Keeffe whether he believed that there had been encroachment into waters under Australian control. The honourable senator seems not to be on very good terms with his own colleagues in the Queensland Parliament. I will quote what the Acting
Premier of Queensland, Mr Chalk, had lo say about this matter. He said:
The Queensland Government wants to make it abundantly dear that it will not tolerate fishing encroachments within its waters. . . .
Senator Greenwood does not know that this is going on. Mr Chalk said:
If necessary, punitive action will be taken. . . .
The newspaper article I am quoting from went on to state:
Mr Chalk referred to a leader article in The Courier-Mail yesterday, headed ‘Japanese and Pish Rights’.
Mr Chalk said he had stated in Parliament that the reefs were within the territorial jurisdiction of Queensland and the Commonwealth Government was asked to take up the matter of ‘poaching’ with the Nationalist Chinese Government.
Yet Senator Greenwood wanted the Senate to believe that it was a State responsibility. The article continued:
The State has not retracted from this position’, Mr Chalk said.
He said another letter had been sent to the Commonwealth on April 22 reiterating the State’s attitude to encroachment on the reef.
The letter said in part:-
And those honourable senators who do not think that there is’ any encroachment in the area should listen to this:
If foreign fishing vessels fish in our territorial waters, contrary to the laws of Queensland, the State will be constrained to exercise its powers of law, including the seizure and forfeiture of any offending vessel and the arrest of its crew.’
Yet the day after this article was published - ‘this is how sincere Mr Chalk is in wanting to do something about the encroachment into the waters of Queensland - the following headline appeared in the same newspaper: ‘Brisbane is like a “home port’* for jap fishing boats’. Mr Chalk talks about seizing the vessels and arresting the crews. Yet Brisbane is a home port for them and he does nothing about it. That is the position regarding the Queensland Minister and his little bit of double talk. The following is from an article which appears in ‘Commercial Fishing and Marketing’:
Battle has started in the issue whether ‘foreign’ (meaning specifically Japanese, with possibly Russian ships closing in) vessels should be permitted to fish inside the 12-mile limit in Australian waters.
It should be remembered that even though the Australian Government declared a 12- mile limit it was prepared to allow the Japanese to fish within that 12-mile limit between Sydney and Brisbane for a period of 5 years. The article continues:
Determination will have to be made soon by the Commonwealth Government which seems to be handling the issue like a hot potato, bouncing it from one department to another.
The Minister for Primary industry, Mr D. Anthony, who would normally confer with the Japanese interests, is at present overseas.
The office of the Acting Minister, Mr Nixon, said the decision was a matter ‘for the External Affairs Department’ but this Department in turn, referred a ‘Sun-Herald’ inquiry back to the Primary Industry Department.
Neither department would give any indication of the Government’s policy in the negotiations with the Japanese.
We should take a look at what the Japanese do in fishing areas, lt is not just a matter of taking a few prawns. A report that I have in front of me states:
Japanese fishing companies, which have a reputation for failure to follow conservation policies in waters now largely denuded of fish, have long had their eyes on Australia’s coastal waters.
They argue that, in the main, the Australian people don’t greatly appreciate fish as a table delicacy, and so why not make them available to Japan’s fishing fleets?
Privately, Japan’s fisheries executives claim their mother ships and factory vessels with their catcher boats, have a right to reap the ocean’s harvests throughout the Pacific, regardless of conservation programmes or the protective policies of other countries.
In recent years, Japanese fishing companies have clashed repeatedly with the Russians, the Americans, the Koreans and only recently with the Indonesians. lt is no longer news when a score of Japanese fishing boats is taken into custody by patrol vessels of other Pacific countries for violating territorial waters or breaking conservation agreements.
That is the type of thing the Labor Party brings before this Senate and asks the Government to do something about. It is not satisfactory for the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) to say that Australia has 12 patrol boats. We have also 12,000 miles of coastline. That means that we have one patrol boat for each 1,000 miles of coastline. It is a fact that we are to get another 8 patrol boats in the dim and distant future. But is it thought for one moment - even taking only the northern waters which wash one half of Australia’s coastline - that there will be sufficient boats to patrol properly?
– What do you suggest should be done?
– The honourable senator’s Party has been in Government since 1949. Surely it does not expect the Opposition to tell it everything at this stage? Surely the Government has its own thoughts? Surely it is able to initiate some policies? Or will a similar position to 1962 apply, when the Government was unable to cure the credit squeeze and it stole the policy of the Australian Labor Party? Does the Government want to go back to that position? If it does, it should vacate the Treasury bench and let those who know how to fix these things take over. My time has run out, but I do impress upon the Government that this is a serious matter both from the point of view of feeding Australia and the nations of the world and of preserving a wonderful tourist attraction in the Great Barrier Reef.
– Tonight the Senate is debating a subject of undoubted national interest. The Government has been charged by the Opposition with failing to initiate action to police, control and conserve the resources of the waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria and the Great Barrier Reef. In the last 15 or 20 years the resources of these waters have become more evident. I propose to put before the Senate in as clear a way as I can just what are the legal provisions by which the Government can exert protection for Australia’s resources, and then to consider the degree to which those laws have been exercised.
When the Opposition suggests that the Government has little or no interest in Australia’s fisheries or in matters pertaining to the law of the sea the first thing that should be emphasised and clearly understood is that nothing is further from the truth. The Commonwealth Government has consistently directed its attention to the law of the sea, which it recognises as being of great importance to this vast island continent. Indeed, the Government has taken a leading part in developing certain aspects of that law since coming into office in 1949. I refer particularly to the efforts that were made in regard to development of the law relating to the continental shelf. The Government has stated the legal position with regard to the Gulf of Carpentaria and the Great Barrier Reef on more than one occasion, but misunderstanding persists. My chief purpose tonight fs to endeavour tq, clarify the position in the hope that my remarks will remove confusion for all who consider this matter hereafter. I refer firstly to the Gulf of Carpentaria under four heads:
– But you do not exclude them.
– The 12-mile fishing zone is enforced in the Gulf of Carpentaria. When Senator Keeffe intrudes and says that the Government is not excluding foreign fishermen he is obviously speaking irresponsibly and without any facts to support his statement.
– lt is true. -
– 1 was hoping that Senator Keeffe was one of those who might benefit by a clear statement on the position. I shall continue.
Tonight honourable senators opposite have stated that the Government has proceeded too cautiously. This afternoon Senator Georges urged the Government to assert a certain viewpoint, whatever its authority might be. I suggest that that is a completely irresponsible attitude to adopt and that it is one which is likely to provoke disruption in the international field. In the international field the factual disregard of conventions causes disservice to a country’s interests, because the ultimate tribunal that can enforce these conventions is world opinion. There is no Other arbitrator or tribunal to which to appeal. Therefore it is most urgent, in Australia’s interests, for us to ascertain with precision the legal limits of our authority and to proceed accordingly; otherwise we will never get an acceptance of our viewpoint. In the international field it is conformity with the conventions that produces an equal attitude from fellow nations.
Having dealt with the Gulf of Carpentaria, 1 shall deal now with the Great Barrier Reef. The points that I made about the Gulf apply with greater force to the Great Barrier Reef. There seems to be a misunderstanding here also. As everybody in Australia, in the State and Federal spheres, regards the Reef as being a unique national possession, I think it is proper to try to state our legal position with some precision. I shall list the five headings.
The first thing to be understood is that all these islands territorially are part of the State of Queensland if they are permanently above water.
– Is this recognised overseas?
– It is completely recognised.
It is somewhat amazing that we should again have to state our position on the matter. It should be Known to the new honourable senators opposite. I doubt that many of them were in the Senate in 1953 when it was recognised on all sides that the proclamation by the Menzies Government of the continental shelf was a most forward and positive step in marking out the area of Australia’s interest in this respect. To proceed irrespective of authority, as my colleague has said, is to adopt the approach of a bull in a china shop. A House of the legislature that has to appeal to international opinion in these matters ought to look to its legal authority. The proclamation was put forward in 1953. In 1958 we achieved the convention that established the doctrine of the continental shelf. That has given us substance and a foundation to the very strong protective legislation to which I referred and that we have been able to build on.
– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
– As the time allotted under the Standing Orders for this debate is 3 hours, only 2 minutes remain to me in which to make my remarks. 1 intend to move later a motion which, if carried, will achieve the result that the remarks of no speaker in the debate will be cut off. The debate will have to end, in any event, but the result of the vote will show whether the Senate is concerned about the preservation of the resources of the Great Barrier Reef and the Gulf of Carpentaria. I now move:
Thai the question be now put.
Question put. The Senate divided. (The President - Senator Sir Alister McMullin)
Majority . . . . 4
Question so resolved in the negative.
-I present a report by the Tariff Board on the following subject:
Wet Blue’ goat and kid skin leather - Tariff classification.
The report does not call for any legislative action.
Debate resumed from 19 September (vide page 814), on motion by Senator Scott:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The purpose of this Bill is to provide for the introduction of a streamlined procedure in the activities of the Department of Customs and Excise. The history of the new look in the Department goes back to 1959 when legislation and procedures relating to petroleum products were introduced. As a result of a report by the Joint Committee of Public Accounts in which a number of recommendations were made, the process of streamlining the procedures has continued. Much credit is due not only to the Public Accounts Committee but also to the administration of the Department of Customs and Excise for the very thorough way in which it has gone into this process of introducing the new system known as commodity control. The more modern techniques that are part of all commercial activities today call for much more streamlining and, in many ways, a simplification of procedures. With the introduction of automatic data processing and other aids in accounting this streamlining could, in the long run, bring about much more efficiency in a department such as this and also it should lead to considerable savings in the cost of administration.
The Department of Customs and Excise has probably had a longer history than any other department of the Commonwealth. It has carried with it certain traditions that have lingered on and others which have had a rather long drawn out death. In the years before federation customs duties were one of the few sources of revenue that the individual States had for the construction of gaols and to finance other needs, and many of the traditions that were established at that time continued on into federation. The Public Accounts Committee suggested that some of these traditions were quite archiac and not of any value to the Department, and it recommended their removal. Consequently we have had a series of changes. Each step that the Department has taken has resulted in a considerable improvement.
It is not generally known that the Department is the biggest revenue collecting department for the Treasury. Revenue collected from customs totalled$277,031,925 in 1966-67 and $313,668,000 in 1967-68. In 1966-67 collections of excise amounted to $805,910,000, and in 1967-68 they totalled $853,558,000. The Department of Customs and Excise last year collected a total revenue of$1, 168m, which is almost a quarter of the total amount raised by the Treasury through various forms of taxation. I have a note here which illustrates the extent of the amount that has been collected, but 1 shall refer to that in a moment. The individual pay as you earn income tax yielded $l,708m. The amount collected in customs and excise and sales tax, equalled the total amount received from pay as you earn taxation. The total amount of revenue collected from individual pay as you earn tax and other income tax, company tax, dividend and interest tax totalled $3,374m. So as a comparison we have $ 1,700m collected from customs and excise and $5,900m collected through the Treasury in direct taxation.
I propose to say a word about the incidence of customs and excise and sales tax, which are hidden taxes that are reaching such proportions that the public should be better informed of the way in which they unjustly affect some sections of the community. Many of the works and services and other responsibilities of government are being financed by individual sections of the community instead of the cost being spread equally throughout the community and financed from income tax collections. The legislation now before us deals with some sections of customs activities. Later we will be debating legislation relating to distillation, which refers to spirits; beer excise; canned fruit excise, which is to be repealed; sales tax; and also excise on items such as tobacco and wines.It has long been an accepted practice to impose an excise on beer and other locally produced beverages. More recently an impost has been levied on tobacco produced in Australia; this has been a great form of revenue for the Treasury. But people who enjoy the comfort that can be derived from table wine or a glass of sherry, whisky or beer at their club, at a hotel or at home, are paying an undue proportion of the cost of running the Commonwealth compared with those who do not enjoy such comfort.
J have heard it argued that tobacco should be taxed out of existence because of some side effects; but people are entitled to smoke tobacco, cigars or cigarettes. Yet in doing so they are paying a share towards the cost of providing the ordinary works and services of the Commonwealth - charges which properly should be borne by the whole community in accordance with ability to pay. Indirect taxes are unseen charges. They are passed on and they even have a cumulative effect. Extra charges are added to the original charge as the goods go from the distributor to the wholesaler and then to the retailer. By the time the goods reach the consumer the accumulated extra charges have increased the price to the consumer. This increases the cost of living. Whether such goods are considered luxuries is, of course, another matter. They have become part of our way of life. We accept them as comforts that are available, but do they have to be taxed and produce revenue to the extent that they are today? Not only has this method of taxation become an established practice under this Government - it has been the practice for a long time - but it is getting even more severe in its application. 1 refer now to some of the observations made by the Public Accounts Committee on excise control procedures. In its report it spoke of five important principles of commodity control. It said that the first was:
These were recommendations for the streamlining of the Department’s activities. The Committee went on to say:
The Department did not believe that it was necessary for its records of the activities for a particular organisation to be maintained as. provided they were satisfactory, the licensee’s records could be used by the Department in exercising its controls. The Department believed, secondly, that the full time attendance of excise officers at each factory was not necessary even though the presence of an excise officer acts as a deterrent to any irregular practices.
It has become quite obvious that the old practice of having inspectors and other customs officers waiting about for some activity to take place can be revised. Their services can be used elsewhere because of the system of accounting from the source of production right through to the point of disposal. As I mentioned earlier in regard to petroleum products, returns have to be made at every stage - from the wellhead right through to the bowser - and now it is only a matter of making a comparison through an automatic data processing machine to check each phase of distribution. The fact that the Department of Customs and Excise has an officer who can make a snap check at any stage of the process means that it is in the interests of all concerned that accuracy be maintained in the provision of the necessary figures to the Department and that the Commonwealth is able to obtain the full dues that it imposes. The next point made by the Committee was this:
A third principle of the system was that licensees should be required to furnish to the Department an operational return at specified intervals subject to the size of the enterprise. Existing legislation already required various factories to render returns, but the Department proposed to seek a return of activities in, say, a preceding month which would be compared with the transactions revealed in the company’s own books to ensure accuracy. The return would also be reconciled with information gathered during the random examination conducted by excise officers over the period in order to ascertain whether due revenue had been received in respect of the production figures achieved.
The Committee went on to say:
A fourth principle, which was stated to be embodied in the three principles enunciated above, was that of the random check itself during the exercise of which the Department hoped to adopt the techniques of random checks and random samplings in the same manner as that employed by an auditor.
The final of the five principles of commodity control related to procedures adopted in respect of the under-bond removal of excisable products. The procedures currently employed by the Department literally involve many thousands of documents since each entry consisted of from 5 to 7 separate copies. Although the present system had proved to be effective, the Department hoped to have under-bond removals schedules by a manufacturer without the need to have a separate entry for each movement, with the result that the manufacturer would have to complete one document each week instead of possibly hundreds.
It will be seen that the legislation we have before us follows these recommendations for streamlining the activities of the Department and introducing a more modern technique in checking and counter-checking the various commodities that come under its jurisdiction. In his second reading speech the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott) spoke of the introduction of the commodity control principles into warehousing, shipping, airlines and general customs fields. He said that the new procedures would permit more efficient customs control with a minimum of administrative cost, and confer a number of advantages on commerce and industry. He said that goods would be cleared with a minimum of customs formality. I believe that these things will be received very favourably in the community, because many of the older checks that had become a practice in the Department and had resulted in so many duplicates and triplicates of various documents could be done away wilh when this streamlining process is put into operation. The Minister said:
Another provision mil enable goods subject to customs control to be removed under a continuing approval system . . . A further amendment will enable importers to pay duty prior to the arrival of imported goods. This provision should facilitate Immediate delivery of goods on arrival.
From discussions I have had over the years with various people, I have found that the delay in getting goods through customs has been a very strong bone of contention. The fact that importers are now able to pay the duty and have the goods passed through customs as rapidly as possible will be most helpful. The matter of containerisation, which we were discussing recently, poses a problem for the Department but it has a technique of receiving an overall coverage of the goods that are in the containers. Through this and a system of periodical snap checks the amount of goods in the containers can be checked. That will allow for greater speed of movement of the goods. The Bill also includes a provision relating to the European Convention on Customs Treatment of Pallets Used in International Transport. The international agreement on this matter covers the disposal of pallets that go from one country to another. As honourable senators know, pallets are used in the movement of heavy containers. They could be left on a foreign wharf for a considerable period, and rather than the Department having to keep a check on them in case they are sold the international agreement now provides that they shall attract no customs charges.
Generally speaking, the Opposition realises the importance of the commodity control system and the improvement in the commercial accounting system in the Department of Customs and Excise, having in mind that although it is not a policy making department it is certainly a collecting department. It collects considerable sums of money each year and, as I have mentioned previously, the amount of revenue that passes through its hands is increasing. I repeat that the imposition of customs and excise duties is a rather unfair way of raising revenue compared to personal income tax. Nevertheless, that is the responsibility of the Department. We support the Bill because we feel that the progress now being made after so many years when the older methods were observed can only result in overall economy and increased efficiency in the Department.
– I am pleased that the Opposition is not opposing this Bill. I do not intend to speak for very long but I should like to make a few comments on points that were raised by Senator O’Byrne. He said that the Department of Customs and Excise collects a considerable sum in Commonwealth revenues.
That is so. The revenues we expect to collect this year will be in the vicinity of $ 1,230m. He queried the Government’s policy of taxing people by means of sales tax and customs and excise duties and suggested that he preferred individual income tax. 1 think it is only fair to point out that this system has been adopted by many countries in the world, notably the United Kingdom where the level of sales tax is much higher than in Australia. I need only to mention the tax on cigarettes, petrol and even Scotch whisky which is made in that country. Senator O’Byrne went on to say that the Department collects taxes on the wine, spirits or beer we drink with our meals.
– And on the cigars we smoke afterwards.
– That is right. I remind the honourable senator that if the wine is produced in Australia and is not fortified no tax is payable. He said also that we were thinking about removing the duty on pallets by way of an international convention. That is so. The pallets that are used to carry goods from one country to another do not now attract customs duty because of an international agreement. That brings Australia into line with the separate convention relating to containerisation by which it was agreed that customs duty would not be imposed on the containers themselves.
As 1 outlined in my second reading speech, the main purpose of this Bill and of the associated Bills is to provide for the introduction of new streamlined customs and excise procedures. The need for modernisation arises from the expansion and development of Australia’s commerce and industry, coupled with the scope and speed of modern transport facilities. The customs and excise role is allied closely with commerce and industry. Areas of special significance are the containerisation of sea and air cargo, the advent of the jumbo jet and the approach of supersonic aircraft. We know that the jumbo jet age is only a couple of years away. The Department of Customs and Excise already is taking steps to enable cargoes coming in by air to be handled as expeditiously as is possible. In fact all interested parties were called together to discuss this problem so that we would be able to cater for it when it arose. Other areas of special significance relate to the major refinements in commercial account ing systems - for example, centralised computer accounting - and to new manufacturing techniques.
A departmental review undertaken to streamline procedures revealed a lack of flexibility in legislation which was reflected in traditional customs and excise controls. These controls demanded detailed supervision by an officer of all operations, the maintenance of independent records by the Department without regard for the client’s own commercial records, and an obligation on business enterprises to present individual entries and/or specific requests for approval for each operation.
The Department’s new operational concept is called commodity control, lt comprises planned checking of normal commercial records plus planned random checks of associated physical operations. Following its introduction to the petroleum industry the new system was scrutinised by the Parliamentary Joint Committee of Public Accounts, as was mentioned by Senator O’Byrne. The Committee asked the Department to hasten expansion of commodity control to other areas. The new legislation seeks legal backing for extension into warehousing, shipping, and airline and general customs and excise fields. Indeed such extension was envisaged by the Public Accounts Committee.
The major amendments sought in this regard fall under several heads. The first is Supervision’. The mandatory requirements for the attendance of officers at particular establishments or the supervision by officers of particular operations will be removed. The next head is ‘Records’. Documentary control of goods through company records will be exercised. The third head is ‘Under bond movement documentation’. Greater flexibility will be provided in the documentation required before imported or excisable goods may be delivered for export or under bond removal. Under the heading ‘Responsibility’ the proposal is to place responsibility for goods removed under customs control on the person initiating the removal. The next head is ‘Licensed carriers’. The provisions which require carriers of customable goods to be licensed under the Customs Act will be repealed. The last head is ‘Payment of duty through the postal service’. The proposal will provide for customs and excise documentation to be submitted by post instead of being submitted at Customs Houses.
In addition to commodity control the Department has decided to adopt other simplified and effective procedures in respect of cargo clearance and the removal and examination of goods. The major amendments in this regard fall under three heads. The first is ‘Pre-payment of customs duty’. The second is ‘Customs approved places’. This provides for imported goods to be examined away from the wharf area of licensed customs warehouses. The third head is ‘Home consumption documentation’. This will provide greater flexibility in the documentation required before imported or excisable goods may be delivered for home consumption. Those are the main provisions of the Bill, and I thank the Senate for allowing the measure to have a speedy passage.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 1 9th September (vide page 816), on motion by Senator Scott:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Excise Bill (No. 2) is a complementary measure to the Customs Bill (No. 2) with which we have just dealt. It deals in the main with the same principle of commodity control. It relates in part to the responsibility of manufacturers to keep records and submit returns. In this day and age, with the development of the use of the credit card system and the computerisation of credit returns and so on, it is within the field of government departments, particularly the Department of Customs and Excise, to be able to keep abreast of developments. People of substance who have been engaged in trading and have established a status and position in the community will be able to do business with the Department of Customs and Excise in the same way as they would do business with any other organisation. 1 feel that this will be of great advantage. More trust is to be reposed in the customers of the Depart ment. Instead of the old fashioned principle of ‘money up first and get your goods when you can’, the policy will be one of meeting the convenience of the client and one of exchange of credit. The Department must know that it will obtain its just payments because of the very many different points of checking which it has available to it.
This measure imposes upon manufacturers the responsibility to keep records and submit returns but at the same time gives them a certain amount of time - it may even be termed credit - to adjust their affairs and make their payments to the Department. We feel that this measure, like the Customs Bill, will be of advantage to the Department in that it will nowbe enabled to streamline its activities with relation to commodity control. We do not oppose the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 19 September (vide page 816), on motion by Senator Scott:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill becomes necessary because of the provisions of the two previous measures with which we have just dealt. The amendments proposed in it relate principally to the repeal of provisions of the Distillation Act which are now to be found in the principal Excise Act. The Bill also provides for certain common penalties for unlawful dealing in spirits irrespective of the type of licence under which a distiller operates. Clause 20 of the Bill reads in part:
A person not being a distiller or a vigneron, shall not, without permission, have any still in his possession or custody or under his control.
The penalty provided is$1,000. The clause continues:
A distiller or a vigneron shall not, without permission, have any still in his possession or custody or under his control elsewhere than at his distillery or the premises to which the vigneron’s licence relates, as the case may be.
Here again the penalty is $1,000. The amendments proposed by the measure are necessary in the general scheme of tidying up commodity control and for the more efficient administration of the Department. We do not oppose the measure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 19 September (vide page 816), on motion by Senator Scott:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill seeks to repeal the existing Excise Acts relating to beer, as the necessary legislation relating to control over this commodity will be covered by the provisions of the Excise Act 1901-1968 as proposed to be amended. It contains a further provision relating to licences issued and securities given under the existing Beer Excise Act. It also contains a saving provision to give the Department control over beer that may remain on a brewery premises in the event of cancellation of a brewer’s licence before the provisions of this Bill become operative. The Public Accounts Committee made a certain recommendation in connection with this subject. It drew attention to the fact that vessels containing beer could be of 54 gallons, 36 gallons, 27 gallons or 18 gallons capacity. The Beer Excise Act provides an allowance for duty purposes of 2 gallons in respect of the largest container and 1 gallon in respect of the three smallest containers. lt was stated that this was a traditional allowance the origin of which was not entirely clear. One school of thought held that it derived from the days when beer was brewed mainly in the wood and that the allowance was made for the brewing and sedimentation. A second belief was that it originated in the days when wooden vessels varied in capacity. The Act stated that this allowance would be permitted while the use of wooden vessels continued. Of course the art of the cooper is now dying out. There is no longer wide use of wooden casks. Steel containers have replaced the old wooden containers. The traditional allowance of this margin over the years is now to be altered and full duties will be imposed and collected. This Bill is part of the general plan adopted by the Department of Customs and Excise to bring many of these matters into line. The Opposition does not oppose this legislation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 19 September (vide page 817), on motion by Senator Scott:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill will repeal the existing provisions of the Canned Fruit Excise Act 1963-1968, and the Opposition does not oppose the measure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 19 September (vide page 817), on motion by Senator Scott:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill will enable Australia to accede to the European Convention on Customs Treatment of Pallets Used in International Transport, which was signed in Geneva on 9th December 1960. The Bill deals with the collection of sales tax on pallets, as I mentioned earlier when referring to the Customs Bill. Sales tax on pallets would be in contravention of the Convention. No sales tax is payable on pallets used in international transport. The Opposition agrees to the passage of this measure.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 15 October (vide page 1261).
Prime Minister’s Department
Proposed expenditure, $24,837,000.
Proposed provision, $10,277,700.
– I want to refer to the Commonwealth Literary Fund. My colleague, Senator McClelland, asked some questions about the Fund when we were last discussing the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department. Like my colleague, I am interested to know whether the proposed increase in expenditure from $66,000 last year to $110,000 this financial year represents some expanding of the ambit of Commonwealth interest in literary matters. 1 think the Committee was given an explanation to the effect that the number of scholarships had been increased from four to six. 1 want to know whether we have reached the stage at which Australian literature needs a greatly expanded measure of support from the Commonwealth Government. Can we accept the proposition that this increase represents a recognition by the Government of the need for greater support, or is this merely a modest increase in the present provision with the level of support remaining unchanged? The increase is consistent with either view. One would hope that these figures represent the dawn of a new era.
– For the purposes of continuity I will refer firstly to the matter raised by Senator Cohen. Senator McClelland also raised this matter yesterday and I gave him an explanation. In truth, I can only repeat what already appears in Hansard. I do not have anything to add at this point of time to what I said yesterday beyond the fact that it is true that the increased provision for 1968-69 is to meet the cost of increasing the value and number of fellowships. The value of each award has been increased from $4,000 to $6,000 and the number of awards has been raised from 4 to 6. Grants to literary magazines have also increased from $5,100 to $12,745. The publication cost of books has increased considerably and additional funds will also be required to cover this item. It may be argued that this is a modest increase, but it is an increase. I do not have anything further to add to what I said previously.
asked about the provision of travel facilities for the Federal President of the Returned Services League of Australia. In November 1953 the then Prime Minister, with the agreement of the then Treasurer, approved of free rail travel for the President of the RSL. That approval was for interstate rail travel and a Victorian all-lines rail pass. In 1954 the RSL requested that it include interstate journeys by air or rail. This request was approved by the then Prime Minister, but : he concession was restricted to journeys taken by the President on behalf of the RSL. The grant of $1,500 towards the cost of air fares for the various State representatives attending the national congress of the RSL each year was approved by the Government of the day in 1962. Senator Greenwood also asked whether it was Government policy that the fares of delegates of national bodies to conferences be paid by the Government. I do not have any information that I can give to him at this stage concerning his inquiry.
Proposed expenditure and proposed provision noted.
Proposed expenditure - Department of the Cabinet Office, $232,000- noted.
Department of Trade and Industry
Proposed expenditure, $23,876,000.
Proposed provision $765,000.
– I refer to the Trade Commissioner Service. Recently I was in Dublin in the Republic of Ireland and I learned that an Irishman who was attached to this service was doing an excellent job in promoting the sale of Australian canned fruit. This man had built up the interest in Australian canned fruit in the Republic of Ireland to such an extent that this item was Australia’s largest export to that country. 1 believe that the Australian producers of canned fruit would have a person of enhanced ability there if the Department of Trade and Industry brought this man to Australia so that he could for the first time see the country that he was representing so adequately in Ireland. He could visit the canneries in the areas of Victoria and South Australia that produce these goods. I believe that if this happened he would do a better job than he is doing at present.
Wherever 1 went on a recent trip abroad I called on the Australian embassies and met various people who were locally engaged and who were doing a splendid job for Australia. I feel that they would do a better job if they were brought to Australia for briefing and given the opportunity to see the places where the goods they are promoting are produced. The expense involved would be well justified, especially in view of the fact that nowadays it is important to explain the origin of goods. No man can do this better than one who has actually seen where the goods are produced and observed the method of manufacture. If (his course were followed it would enhance Australia’s selling potential for products such as canned fruit.
– Senator Laught referred to officers who are selected overseas for the Trade Commissioner Service. He said that those officers should have the background experience of an Australian visit. I am sure that Senator Laught and other honourable senators appreciate that very often special circumstances require special appointments, if an officer is chosen who does not have background experience of Australian conditions it would be because he has some very special qualification for the particular role. Where circumstances of this nature arise a special briefing is given to the officer by the London office of the Department of Trade and Industry. There would be a tremendous reservoir of Australian personnel in that office with very special qualifications to brief such an appointee. Nevertheless, the point that the honourable senator raised will be referred to the Minister for his consideration.
– I address my remarks to the proposed expenditure of $4m under the Industrial Research and Development Grants Act. Last year an amount of $3m was appropriated for this item but there was an actual expenditure of only $653,703. My questions to the Minister arise out of an answer I received from the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry on 8th October last. I asked:
The Act has not been in operation for very long; it was passed in 1967. My question continued:
I received a lengthy answer setting out a number of approved research organisations and a number of organisations which had been deleted from the list of approved research organisations. My first question tonight relates to the deletions. Apparently this would suggest that some organisations originally included on the list, for some reason or other, should not have been included or else some subsequent event has made it proper or desirable that they be removed from the list, lt is fairly obvious that a substantial number of approved organisations are undertaking or could undertake industrial research and development. We do noi know much about them. In the years to come I think we will need much more information than we are being supplied with at the moment. These are the early days of the Act and its administration. We will need more information as to the kind and scope of work undertaken.
There was a noticeable coyness in the answer to the questions that 1 asked concerning the grants and the purpose for which the grants were given. The answer stated:
Information concerning an individual recipient company’s research and development activities is provided to the Board on a confidential basis.
All I was able to obtain from the Acting Minister was some indication of the broad fields, as he put it, of research activity for which grants have been authorised. Because of the importance of this area of Government activity I do not think that information is precise enough.
Looking at the quite lengthy list of organisations which have received grants since 30th June, one’s initial reaction is that the grants seem to be spread very thinly over a wide field. One notices substantial grants to particular companies - for example, $130,000 to Massey-Ferguson (Australia) Ltd and almost $34,000 to Nylex Corporation Ltd. Quite a number of companies received substantial grants of approximately $20,000. Whether these companies would not be doing the research without the grant is a question on which I would like some clarification. One cannot assess the effectiveness of the grants merely by what appears in the answer that I received. It is even more difficult to assess the effectiveness having regard to the Minister’s virtual refusal to provide detailed information. I suggest that the refusal is in contrast with a statement made by the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser), reported on 8th October, that the inventory of scientific research being compiled by his Department, whilst it would respect trade secrets, was aimed at improving communication between scientists and assisting in the co-ordination of scientific research. That seems to be a different voice from the one we have heard from the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry.
I cannot see any reason why organisations receiving grants under the Act should not be required to provide for publication a brief resume of proposed and actual research being undertaken from time to time. These details ought to appear regularly so that scientists and technologists in the community at large will be appraised of current movements in research and technology. The provision of such information would enable Parliament to be better informed and to be in a position to comment more properly on the expenditure of what is now a considerable sum. This may be the subject of a debate on another occasion, but I suggest that a review of this kind of expenditure and its relevance to Australia’s needs in industrial research could well be undertaken by the proposed standing committee of the Senate on science and technology. We are not talking about a select committee. I permit myself to hope that before the finish of this session the Opposition’s notice of motion for the appointment of such a committee will be resolved.
While I am on the subject of the Industrial Research and Development Grants Act - this is the final matter I want to raise with the Minister - it would be interesting to know how many organisations which have received grants were undertaking research prior to the introduction of the Act and also how many organisations are locally owned concerns. There is a real question as to whether the Act will permit serious industrial research and development where it is most needed, which is at the grass roots of Australian owned industries. The possibility exists that industries that are receiving grants and are foreign owned or foreign controlled may be acquiring research results that will bc exported and used by other affiliates of the overseas owners, perhaps in competition with the products of the Australian industry. I mention these general observations because this is the first occasion on which the administration of the Act has been discussed during consideration of the Estimates. The Act is a 1967 one, and some matters of policy and principle obviously are involved. My questions are real ones. I hope the Minister will provide some clarification.
– It is true that I, representing the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry, supplied an answer to the honourable senator on 8th October last. It is equally true that tonight he has posed quite a number of serious questions to which at the moment, with the advisers 1 have here, I am not competent to give complete answers. I shall submit the comments made by the honourable senator to the Department to obtain a considered reply for him. That might inspire him to direct some further questions to me in my capacity as Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. In fairness to Senator Cohen, I should say that he made it clear that the Act is a new one. Quite a deal of work has to be undertaken on the interpretive decisions that have to be made before the concept of the Act is brought into being. Consequently some of the questions posed, very fairly, require a considered reply from my colleague in another place.
– It is important to ask the questions early even if I do not receive answers.
– That is right. I do not mind that at all. I refer to the 1967 annual report of the Australian Industrial
Research and Development Grants Board, copies of which have been circulated to honourable senators.
It is interesting to note in the report a few general comments setting out the background to the Act. The Australian Industrial Research and Development Grants Board was appointed in August 1967 to administer the Industrial Research and Development Grants Act. With the assistance of the Australian Industrial Research and Development Grants Advisory Committee the Board, in its first 10 months of office, has formulated those interpretations necessary for the practical application of the provisions of the Act and has given wide publicity to the availability of grants for industrial research and development. I have made the point that it has not had sufficient time to get into full operation. The report of the Board states:
Because of the availability of funds from the 1967-68 Budget allocation, industry was informed that in accordance with section 34 (1.) of the Act the Board was prepared, in its first year of operation, to make advance payments to companies when a reasonable proportion of the industrial research and development programmes had been completed. Companies which received advance payments will receive final grunts when precise details of their expenditure for the 1967-68 year are made available to the Board.
asked for the meaning of professional and technical research and development. In the Act the following definitions are given:
I am sure that Senator Cohen is better equipped than I to interpret the provisions of the Act, because of his legal background. A firm should have on its staff a qualified research officer in order to be entitled to grants under the Act. Senator Cohen also asked why some companies no longer appear on the list.
– Such companies as Four’n Twenty Pics Pty Ltd. I do not know why they were ever placed on the list.
– I am not informed as to that. That is a question we will direct to the Department. As Senator Cohen has pointed out, there is in the first annual report of the Board a long and comprehensive list of organisations which have been approved by the Board. I have referred to that list in answering a previous question addressed by the honourable senator.
– The list includes companies such as Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd.
– That could well be so. Some special research could be conducted by that company which could result in tremendous advantage to Australia. I would think it axiomatic that a specialised type of research is being conducted which comes within the terms of the Act and the principles behind the Act. The Act relates to Australia’s industrial development in the long term. I accept the responsibility of obtaining a considered reply to some of the initial questions posed by Senator Cohen in relation to the Industrial Research and Development Grants Act.
– I wish to raise some matters related to the appropriation for the Trade Commissioner Service in Division 530. The total appropriation for this division is $4,704,000; last year’s expenditure was $4,603,855. Although the appropriation has been slightly increased over last year’s expenditure, I feel that a larger amount should be appropriated in the light of the function of the Trade Commissioner Service, as I understand it. Perhaps the Minister will indicate whether the extent of the appropriation indicates a trend toward a reduction in the Service. If so, I would like to know whether there is to bc a replacement under the aegis of another Department, for example, the Department of External Affairs.
Like other honourable senators, T have had a little experience of the splendid work of the Trade Commissioner Service. I gained that experience recently in Hong Kong, some American cities, and more particularly in South America. I pay a special tribute to Mr Martin, our Trade Commissioner in Lima, Peru. In addition to the duties of members of the Trade Commissioner Service in the area of trade, they may be our only representatives in a city. They then become our representatives in every sense of the word and are called upon to carry out a wide range of duties and functions. It appears to me that in those circumstances they are not clothed with sufficient status to give them parity with the representatives of other countries. The services of the Department of External Affairs have been extended and 1 would like to know whether that has had an effect on the work of the Trade Commissioner Service, ls there any reason why the increase in the appropriation for the Service has not been very substantial at a period of history when we are working hard on expansion of our trade and depending very heavily upon the skill and perseverance of these officers? They should have better and more equipment so that their services can be extended. If the Minister would comment on this aspect I would be appreciative.
– I seek clarification on two or three matters concerning trade. I refer firstly to the operations of the Tariff Board in certain areas and in this respect I relate my remarks to Division 522. I ask the Minister to bear with me because I am not too sure of the item in the division to which my remarks should be related. I draw attention to the appropriation of $757,000 in Division 522 for salaries and allowances. My remarks relate to the administration and some aspects of the tariff structure. Recently in Hobart the question arose of the payment of duty on a home built yacht in which an immigrant and his wife travelled to Tasmania. The matter received considerable publicity, principally because the person concerned is a doctor who conducted the Peter McCallum Clinic in Hobart. His wife is a radiographer. After sailing the yacht to Tasmania they used it as their home for a short period.
When the question of duty arose, the professional shipbuilding yards in that part of the country were canvassed. The shipbuilders stated that they were not concerned about boats brought to Australia by private builders, but were concerned about the possibility that professional shipbuilders might bring vessels to Australia and undermine the activities of Australian shipbuilders whose interests the tariff machinery is designed to protect.
I think it would be generally conceded that waiving of duty on the yacht to which I have referred would pose no great threat to the professional shipbuilding industry.
The matter was explored rather deeply and correspondence passed over a considerable period of time. So far as the legal aspect of the matter was concerned there was no getting away from the fact that duty had to be paid. However, in the light of the circumstances, and having canvassed the industry, I believe that this is an area where no tariff ought to be payable because there was no damage to any existing Australian industry. Perhaps this item could be dealt with in the debate on some other section of the Estimates, but as we have been dealing with the Tariff Board and its activities I thought it appropriate to raise the matter at this stage. 1 refer now to the Trade Commissioner Service. This provides me with an opportunity to refer to other aspects of trade between Australia and other countries and brings me to a consideration of a problem which affects sections of Australian primary industry, principally the timber industry and to a greater or lesser degree the canned pea and bean industry which at the present time is suffering some disability as a result of the operations of the New ZealandAustralia Free Trade Agreement. This Agreement provides for a lowering of the tariff barrier against the import of those commodities, which are grown much more cheaply in New Zealand and are coming into Australia in increasing quantities. They are coming in at an alarming rate, so much so that 1 believe their import poses a quite serious threat to the economic viability and the future of pea and bean growing in Australia. Our Trade Commissioner Service is represented in various countries. I believe that it should be part of the job of trade commissioners and their officers to attempt to regulate the flow of commodities which could pose a quite serious threat to existing Australian industries. The pea and bean growers of Australia recently decided, as a result of a conference, to send a delegation to New Zealand in the hope that it could persuade the New Zealand industry to regulate and, if possible, to curtail any future increase in the flow of peas and beans to Australia if they were likely to cause more serious damage than is being experienced in the industry at present. It may well be that the delegation will extract from its counterpart in New Zealand an undertaking to limit the flow of these commodities into Australia. But 1 draw to the attention of the Minister for Supply (Senator Anderson) an undertaking which was given to the Australian timber industry by the New Zealand industry some time ago. The New Zealand industry had agreed to limit the flow of timber into Australia where there was a likelihood of damage being done to the Australian industry. My understanding is that the undertaking given was quite specific - that a limit would be placed on the flow of this commodity into Australia - but 1 have been told quite categorically that the agreement has been repudiated, with the result that the Australian industry is being quite seriously damaged.
– Repudiated by New Zealand?
– According to the Tasmanian Timber Association, from which I received a letter over the signature of the manager within the last week, an undertaking was given by the timber industry in New Zealand to limit exports of timber to Australia; but the Association says that that agreement and undertaking have been repudiated and that the flow of timber into Australia has greatly accelerated and is substantially in excess of the quantity which was agreed upon. If this has happened in the timber industry, what hope have the pea and bean growers of extracting a similar sort of undertaking from New Zealand and what hope is there of such an undertaking being honoured in the future? I mention this because 1 believe that it is a serious matter and one which should not be allowed to pass without a serious comment. 1 hope that apart from the endeavours which will be made by the delegation representing Australian growers in New Zealand, our Department of Trade and Industry and all our officers in New Zealand will feed us information and will endeavour to do everything possible to facilitate the movement of that delegation and will take appropriate steps to ensure that any undertaking, whether in written form or verbal, which may be given by the industry in New Zealand will be honoured. 1 refer now to the representation of the Australian Department of Trade and Industry in Japan, at a cost of about $500,000 a year. We have reached the stage at which Japan has become our best customer. We recently suffered some humiliation in our trade with the United States of America because of the embargo which was placed on exports of second grade beef to that country. I believe that we are getting the worst end of the deal in our trade with the United States. I agree with the thought that was implied, if not expressed, by Senator Lillico recently when he raised the question as to whether there should not be a greater flow of trade between ourselves and Japan. I can recall a delegation from Japan not long ago saying that the trading relationship between our two countries was three to one in Australia’s favour. I can recall one delegate saying that if we got the ratio down to two to one in Australia’s favour Japan would be prepared to take substantially more Australian dairy produce. In the light of the present state of affairs in the dairying industry in Australia, 1 suggest that the time has come when we must give serious consideration to the level of tariffs applied to Japanese trade to Australia. This is especially so when we find an impediment to the flow of trade between this country and our traditional markets. Perhaps 1 could leave the matter there. 1 hope the Minister will clarify some of the doubts, worries and concerns which I have in my mind about these things.
– We are dealing with the Estimates, but Senator Devitt has taken the opportunity to deal with some administrative matters which could more appropriately be dealt with in a second reading speech. This is not a broad debate on trade; it is a debate on the Estimates. Therefore I do not intend to develop some of my answers into a fullscale argument on the New ZealandAustralia Free Trade Agreement. Today I gave two answers, one to Senator Lillico and the other to Senator O’Byrne, on the subject of frozen peas and beans and the conditions under which the New ZealandAustralia Free Trade Agreement operated when one of the parties was believed to have suffered an injury or injury to the industry was threatened. I said then that provision is made for a conference, that formal provisions are laid down whereby a party may state to the Government that injury is threatened, and that provision is made for procedures which may be followed.
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Temporary Chairman do now leave the chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative. (The Temporary Chairman having reported accordingly) -
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.1 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 16 October 1968, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1968/19681016_senate_26_s38/>.