26th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
– Is the Minister representing the Postmaster-General aware that for many years one of the three most popular Australian programmes shown on Australian Broadcasting Commission television has been ‘People’ - a programme conducted by the well known television personality, Mr Bob Sanders? Is it a fact that Mr Sanders’s contract will not be renewed by the ABC and that no explanation of this action has been forthcoming from the Commission, other than that it is rearranging its programming schedule? Can the Minister say whether, as a result of some criticism of some aspects of Government policy appearing on this programme, the ABC management imposed a form of censorship on the type of person Mr Sanders was permitted to interview on the programme? Will the Minister explain to this Parliament and to the Australian public the extraordinary decision of the ABC, which obviously is resulting in a lowering of its programme standards and an undermining of morale within the Commission?
– I cannot give the honourable senator any information on the case that he has brought to my notice. It appears, as has been said, that there is to be an alteration of programmes. I cannot give the honourable senator any information at all concerning this change.
– My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of the fact that over the last 2 years a section of the postal unions has caused considerable disruption of the postal services of Australia and the fact that the Government has bent over backwards, without success, in employing the principles of conciliation, will the Government now stand firm for the principles of arbitration against a section of the postal unions which defies these principles and appears to be intent on bringing the postal services to a complete standstill, irrespective of the hardship and chaos that will result from its irresponsible action?
– Questions about the deplorable situation that currently exists in relation to the postal service in New South Wales might well be directed to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. But the honourable senator directs to me a question on the principles of conciliation and arbitration. It is a fact that all the political parties in the Parliament and in the Commonwealth of Australia are committed to and accept the principles of conciliation and arbitration. Whenever there is an apparent breach of the concept and practice of conciliation and arbitration, naturally everybody who has any sense of responsibility for government or our democratic way of living must deplore that circumstance. The question related to the circumstances in which we are placed with the Post Office at the moment. These are matters which may well be directed to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. But I repeat that if conciliation and arbitration mean anything they mean that after you have conciliated and come to an understanding, that understanding for ordinary purposes should have the force of an agreement between the parties.
– I suggest to the Leader of the Government that the last question was rightly put to him, because this is a matter of breakdown in government. Is the Government aware that if the concept of conciliation and arbitration is to be properly applied, the Government ought to observe its bargains. Did it not agree to withdraw all the labour that it brought in from outside? Does it not realise that it is extremely provocative and contrary to the concepts of conciliation to bring in such persons, knowing that these would be objected to by the unionists and that this kind of industrial trouble would inevitably result? Does not the Leader of the Government think that the proper course to be taken is to change the Minister who is in charge of this Department and is continually causing trouble?
– The Leader of Opposition has directed a broad question to me. I gave a broad answer on the subject of conciliation and arbitration and 1 repeat that conciliation and arbitration are not matters, as he suggests, of practices of the Government. They are matters of laws which the Parliament has passed. The Parliament having passed laws in relation to conciliation and arbitration, when parties come together under the framework, of those laws it is a natural consequence that the provisions of those laws should be upheld by any party to a dispute. There has never been any suggestion that I know of that where the Government has been a party to a dispute it has failed to observe the principles of conciliation and arbitration.
– Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General bring to his attention and that of the Prime Minister the reported statement that some country manual exchanges in New South Wales were closed last night? Will the Minister bring to the attention of the Cabinet the fact that these unauthorised closures of telephone services could have resulted directly in loss of life and property, owing to inability to call medical help and ambulances in the event of sickness and accidents, and fire brigades in the event of fire?
– 1 appreciate very much the points raised by the honourable senator. I do believe that there was some difficulty last night. Certain members of the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union are engaged to staff telephone exchanges where there is manual operation from 10 o’clock or 11 o’clock at night until approximately 6 o’clock in the morning, and at the request of the Union these exchanges were not in fact staffed. I am informed that, if the strike is to continue this is an area which will be staffed subsequently. I appreciate the points that the honourable senator has made concerning the lack of communications and the disasters which may occur where doctors, ambulances and fire fighters are needed.
– By way of preface to my question, which I address to the Minister for Customs and Excise, I refer to the answer I received yesterday from the Minister to question No. 628 in which he discounted Sydney Press stories on teenage drug addiction. Arising from that reaction, I now draw the Minister’s attention to a statement made on Monday by the Reverend Ted Noffs, Chairman of the Drug Research Foundation in Sydney, who referred to a twelve-man drug ring operating in Sydney together with attendant details. Does the Minister intend to direct his narcotics bureau officers to interview the Reverend Ted Noffs or does he consider the statement by Mr Noffs to be inaccurate and not worthy of examination?
– As the Minister for Customs and Excise, and being in charge of the narcotics bureau, I can inform the honourable senator that we always are anxious to obtain information from anybody in Australia about people who are trafficking in drugs. As to that part of his question relating to the Reverend Ted Noffs, I would say to him that if he has any information-
– Who - Mr Noffs or me?
– Mr Noffs. I know full well that the honourable senator has no information. If Mr Noffs has any information that he would like to give to the officers of the bureau we will be most interested to obtain it. When we get information - not only from Mr Noffs but from anybody - we take the necessary action to stop drug trafficking in Australia.
– I draw the attention of the Acting Minister for Civil Aviation to a reported statement by a representative of the Fokker aircraft company that the F28 turbo-jet aircraft can operate from any airport at which F27 aircraft operate. Does the Department of Civil Aviation accept this opinion? If not, what standards will be required for the operation of this or similar type aircraft?
– Anticipating the honourable senator’s question, I have obtained the following information: The F28 turbo straight jet aircraft is a heavier aircraft than the F27 and at this time we do not have definite information as to its operational requirements, particularly its performance on unsealed surfaces. It is the departmental view that the F28 is likely to require somewhat longer and stronger - and possibly wider - runways than some of those currently being used by the F27. The Department of Civil Aviation cannot be certain of the final requirements of this aircraft until it has been completely evaluated and this is not likely to be finalised before mid- 1969.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Repatriation. Firstly, what length of service in Vietnam is required to entitle Army officers to repatriation and similar benefits? Secondly, is it a growing practice of the Army to post officers for short periods of service in Vietnam so as to make them eligible for these benefits?
– I inform the honourable senator that there is no set period of time for a person to become qualified for repatriation benefits. A man might become entitled after being in Vietnam for only 5 minutes. If a servicemanis injured immediately after leaving the last port in Australia he is eligible for repatriation benefits, provided that he has been detailed for duty in a special area. Vietnam is a special area. As to the second part of the question, this suggestion certainly has not come to my notice. I think it would be most improbable that an officer would be detailed there for the purpose mentioned. I cannot imagine that this would happen. A visit to Vietnam is not a pleasure trip - I can assure the honourable senator that this is so - and officers are not sent there for that purpose, lt is highly derogatory to those in authority to suggest that this would be done. However, T do not think the honourable senator meant to imply any such thing.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. What were the terms of the agreement under which the dispute involving some employees of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department in January was resolved? Who were the parties to the agreement? In the light of current threats by the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union, will the Government consider giving full newspaper publicity, by advertisement, to the terms of the agreement so that the public may be fully informed of what the agreement actually provided?
– Before answering this question I might say that I believe that there is an unofficial report that the postal strike has been settled. I have not as yet heard any confirmation of this, but I have heard unofficial comment to that effect. The honourable senator has asked me for details of the terms of settlement of the postal strike which took place in January of this year. I think the best thing 1 can do by way of answer is to read paragraphs I to 8 of the settlement agreement which are as follow:
I think that these details have already been made public. I seem to recall that the Postmaster-General made a Press statement along these lines, but I will bring to the notice of the Postmaster-General the points that the honourable senator has raised.
– I address a question to the Leader of the Government or to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. It also relates to the postal dispute. Why is it impossible for the Minister to answer and report calmly about negotiations which are now taking place between the Australian Council of Trade Unions and his Department? Further, in view of the possibility of settlement, why is it that he cannot give a cold report about the negotiations? Why does he not give emphasis to the Postmaster-General’s statement that negotiations now taking place should be allowed to continue until the dispute is settled, without making comments which could prejudice a satisfactory settlement? What is the difficulty he experiences in making a clear statement?
– If the question is directed to me, I point out that the answer I gave related to the principles of conciliation and arbitration and nothing that J said would be inconsistent with or prejudicial to the continuation of amicable negotiation between the parties concerned. If the question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, then she can take the answer from there. The facts are as I have stated them. I think we would be on common ground wilh relation to the fundamental principles applicable in this type of situation.
– By way of preface to a question addressed to the MinisterinCharge of Tourist Activities, I would point out that the Tourist Promotion Committee of Port Pirie in South Australia has this week opened in the Strand. London, on the premises of the Agent-General for South Australia, a brilliantly conceived display of industrial and other tourist attractions of Port Pirie and the Flinders Range area. Are there any ways by which the Minister considers that his Department could assist similar bold plans for publicising Australian tourist attractions in overseas countries?
– I was very grateful to Senator Laught for deputising for me at the function at Port Pirie on Monday when this display was featured. I am glad to be informed that the display is being featured by this organisation in London. The Australian Tourist Commission has offices in various places and is engaged in all forms of advertising and displays of this nature, not only in connection with external affairs but also in connection with functions in Australia which would be altogether too numerous to mention here. This form of display is of interest to both the Australian Trade Commissioner Service and the tourist section of the Department of Trade and Industry. The Australian Tourist Commission would give every encouragement to such activity.
– I gather from the reply the Minister representing the Postmaster-General gave to Senator Greenwood that the second of the eight conditions of settlement of the previous postal strike was to the effect that all special casual labour would be withdrawn from work areas when work resumed. In view of that I ask: Was the re-employment of persons who had scabbed in that dispute a breach of the terms of settlement of the dispute? Was the continued employment of Miss 0’K.eeffe at the Redfern Mail Exchange in Sydney a breach of an undertaking given last week by the PostmasterGeneral to the Secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions? Does the Minister know that scabs are regarded by the trade union movement as contemptible and the lowest form of life and that it is a breach of the cardinal principles of the trade union movement for a unionist to work alongside a scab? As industrial unionism in Australia is an accepted part of our way of life, will the Minister respect the traditional principles of this form of organisation and cease provocation which causes and justifies stoppages of work, with resultant public inconvenience?
– The honourable senator has asked a very detailed question. 1 think it would be best if I placed it before the Postmaster-General.
– 1 preface my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry by saying that compensation for devaluation losses on the 1967 export pack of canned deciduous fruits is of special moment to the Riverland Fruit Products Co-operative Ltd of Berri and Loxton in South Australia. Further to my previous questions on this matter 1 now ask the Minister whether a decision has yet been arrived at in respect pf this compensation.
– An announcement made by the Minister for Primary Industry on 1st August 1968 covered, inter alia, devaluation compensation for the canned fruits industry. The relevant portions of that announcement are in these terms:
In respect of canned deciduous fruits, compensation will be paid on exports to (he United Kingdom and Ireland since devaluation and sold up to 31st December 1968. Compensation- will be in accordance with a schedule to take account of post devaluation price changes for various types of fruit and can sizes.
Compensation will also be paid for canned pineapple exports to the United Kingdom and New Zealand in accordance with a schedule to take account of various products and can sizes.
Compensation for canned fruit is estimated to cost $4.2ra.
The Minister went on to say that many claims for compensation had been received from exporters who had suffered immediate devaluation losses which could have been avoided had these exporters taken advantage of the forward exchange facilities provided by the Reserve Bank. He then said:
The Government, after the fullest consideration, had decided not to pay compensation in such cases.
As the Reserve Bank was providing forward exchange cover for exporters at relatively small cost it would obviously be contrary to the basic principles of insurance for the Government to pay compensation from Consolidated Revenue to those who could have insured.
– I direct a question to the Acting Minister for Civil Aviation. I remind him-
– Order! The honourable senator should ask a question and not give information.
– I refer to Question No. 694 on the notice paper, which slates:
I thought that this was a very pertinent question demanding an urgent answer but it has not been answered so far. 1 ask: When will that question be answered?
– I will have a look at the honourable senator’s question. I agree that it is an important matter. I will certainly obtain an answer for the honourable senator.
– I wish to ask a question of the Minister for Housing. What progress has been made in respect to the policy decision to provide flats as temporary accommodation for migrant families in various Australian cities and towns? Has sufficient use been made of this new approach to migrant accommodation to indicate whether the Commonwealth Department of Housing will continue with the erection of more flats for this purpose?
– I remind the honourable senator that this is only an experiment by which the Government is endeavouring to assist migrants to settle down happily in our community. The idea was that initially a limited number of flats would be built in areas where the Government felt the need was greatest and where hostel accommodation was inadequate. Some flats have already been completed. Families are living in flats at Eastlakes and Auburn in Sydney, at Carlisle in Western Australia and at Burnie and Devonport in Tasmania. I have inspected the flats at Eastlakes, Devonport and Burnie. I was delighted to hear of the pleasure of the people living in this accommodation. As the honourable senator is no doubt aware, this accommodation is provided for only a limited period of time. I believe that the scheme is working well and that it is playing a very important part in the field of migration in that it is assisting newcomers to settle down in the community.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Army. On Wednesday, J 6th October 196S, I asked the Minister whether the Government intended to make any further payment to ex-gunner Newman as compensation for his wrongful imprisonment. The Minister replied that he was not in a position to state whether or not it was intended to make any further payment to him. Has the Minister any further information in relation to this matter?
– I understand that Cabinet has made a decision on the matter but that the decision has not been announced so far.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. I ask: Is the application cf a so-called trade union doctrine that trade unionists will not work with people whom they call scabs a denial of the right of an individual to continue in the gainful employment of his choice? Does the Minister regard this right to work as a basic human right? Is this trade union doctrine an infringement of the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?
– I would suggest the view that the discussion of these very wide principles, where they are in conflict, as to an absolute right of employment and the necessary right of free association, are too expansive really to be appropriately discussed at question time.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Did the Minister see the figures released last evening by the Department of Trade and Industry showing that import demand has sent Australia’s trade deficit soaring to the largest on record and that there was a trading deficit of $32.5m for October and a total deficit of $ 166.8m for the first 4 months of this financial year? Has the Government any plan to overcome this very serious trade imbalance? If so, when can the people of Australia be advised of the action that will be taken by the Government?
– As to the first part of the question, I did see the figures referred to by the honourable senator and I observed the generality of the figure for the period of 4 months. Generally those figures are not inconsistent with the pattern of our trade balances. Although the honourable senator says that these figures are an all time record, he probably will find that at the end of the year our export and income figures also will reveal an all time record. But that-, will not be unexpected because as a nation we have been steadily making progress over the years. One can gain a dangerous and false impression from looking at the figures for 4 months in isolation.’ Traditionally in those 4 months our imports and exports are such that we are left with an adverse trade balance. The figures this year are consistent with the pattern of previous years. As to the second part of the question, if this relates to a matter of policy I should remind the honourable senator that questions of policy are not answered at question time. However, 1 think it would be fairer to say that matters affecting the whole of our economy and the impact of an adverse or favourable trade balance are not necessarily resolved by a single act of policy; they are determined by continuing and active processes. In an economy which is so delicately balanced, with a situation of full employment and very good conditions, there must naturally be a day by day and week by week continuing examination of the movements in all aspects of the economy.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Supply. Will the Minister consider proposing that the Defence Standards Laboratory at Maribyrnong, Victoria, be transferred from his Department and placed under the control of the Department of Health, and in so doing establish that the research being conducted is entirely defensive, as stated by the Prime Minister, and not research into chemical and biological warfare?
– My recollection is that Senator Georges asked me a number of questions in relation to this matter. I gave him a short term answer in which
I drew attention to an answer that the previous Prime Minister had given to the question. Subsequently I followed the matter through with a long term answer to Senator Georges. It is quite obvious that the honourable senator who now poses the question is shaping his question on a series of articles which appeared in the Press, and which were drawn to my attention over the weekend. Rather than ask the honourable senator to put the question on notice, with the leave of the Senate and with your permission, Mr President, I shall answer the question now. That will obviate the need to reply on a subsequent occasion. 1 am sure that the question was based on matter expressed by Mr Lloyd. I reply by recapitulating that on 15th March 1967 Mr Holt, who was then Prime Minister, said, in part, in answer to a question by Mt Whitlam, the Leader of the Opposition:
No work on bacteriological agents is being undertaken in Australia.
On 8th August 1968 an article appeared in the Sydney ‘Daily Telegraph’ with a London dateline alleging that the Joint Tropical Research Unit at Innisfail was being used as a testing ground for germ warfare. I issued a Press release, which included the following:
The simple facts are that the JTRU was not established for the purpose of making chemical or biological warfare tests, and has not been so used; nor am I aware of any plans to use it for such tests in the future.
In an interim answer to a question asked by Senator Georges on 26th September 1968, 1 said, in part:
But that is not to say that we are proceeding with experiments in biological warfare - we are not.
Subsequently, on 8th October in a more detailed answer to Senator Georges’ question I said, in part:
Pathogenic agents are not used in these experiments. No work on offensive biological or chemical warfare agents is undertaken in any establishment of my Department.
It seems to me that those statements make the position quite clear. My Department does not handle for any purpose whatsoever what are normally understood by the terms pathogenic biological warfare agents’. Mr Lloyd has implied that if we are concerned only with defensive work we should be making vaccines and that this work ought to be undertaken by the Department of Health. I think I am coming now to the heart of the question asked by the honourable senator. Since it is a fact that we do not handle pathogens we, of course, are not concerned in the making of vaccines. This work properly falls within the province of the Department of Health which is set up to handle and does handle this work for the Commonwealth. In addition the Department of Health does carry out work on vaccines and sera which are used to treat people who have been attacked by or exposed to attack by pathogens.
Allied to this is the quarantine aspect which is related broadly to protecting the civilian population from exposure. These matters are handled by the Department of Health. The defensive aspects in which we are engaged, and which Mr Lloyd has chosen to ignore, are those concerned with chemical and physical rather than biological aspects of this field. I have referred to this previously. They include work on respirators and protective clothing and on studies of the rates of diffusion or dissemination of agents in the atmosphere. This is the work on atmospheric contamination to which I referred in my answer to the question asked by Senator Georges on 26th September last.
Finally to sum up, I repeat that no part of my Department has in the past engaged in, is now engaged in or has any plans for future research work involving the handling of disease producing biological agents, nor is there any facility in the Department that is set up to handle, or could be immediately converted to handle, such work. I hope that the statement will be understood for what it is - a statement of fact - and will be accepted. I see no reason why work of the nature concerned should be transferred to the Department of Health.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry: Is it not a fact that organisations representative of potato growers, including the Federal Advisory Potato Committee and the Potato Growers ‘ Association of Western Australia, have made numerous approaches to the Government seeking a poll of growers as to whether there should be legal registration of potato growers and the establishment of a potato production statistical bureau? Is it not also a fact that despite such representations and a unanimous recommendation of the Federal Potato Advisory Committee, the requests have been refused? In view of the serious concern within the potato industry and the firm opinion of growers that the requests they have made would be, if agreed to, of great benefit to the industry, will the Government reconsider its rejection of these proposals? If not, will the Minister explain why not?
– Yesterday I answered a question along the lines of that now asked by the honourable senator. He will find the answer I gave reported in yesterday’s Hansard. If he requires information not contained in that answer, I will endeavour to get it for him.
– 1 preface my question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, by referring to the fact that at the recent annual convention of. Lions International a motion urging the early adoption of a uniform traffic code for Australia was carried. Can the Minister inform the Senate of the progress being made towards the adoption of such a code in order to. overcome the present variations in traffic laws from State to State?
– For years now the Commonwealth has been endeavouring to get the States together with a view to having a uniform traffic code. I am very pleased to hear from the honourable senator that Lions International has taken the matter up. With the large number of people travelling interstate and with different traffic codes in the States, it is absolutely vital that we have a uniform traffic code. The honourable senator might be interested to know that about 10 years ago the Senate set up a select committee on road safety. It was chaired by the present Leader of the Government in the Senate. Among the twenty or so recommendations made by that select committee was one that there should be a uniform traffic code throughout Australia. I think the States are meeting quite frequently on this matter. I am hopeful that a complete solution of the problem will eventuate and that in the very near future the States will agree to a uniform traffic code for Australia.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior. Because of the many benefits thereby conferred, will the Minister request the Minister for the Interior to follow the example of Australia’s leading State and introduce daylight saving in the Australian Capital Territory?
– The honourable senator assumes that Tasmania is Australia’s leading State. Some of us may have opinions different from that. He has mentioned the possibility of having daylight saving in the Australian Capital Territory. I will have great pleasure in putting the matter before my colleague, the Minister for the Interior, and obtaining an answer for the honourable senator.
– I preface my question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, by informing him that on a recent date fires lit by troops carrying out exercises in the Herveys Range area got out of control and burned a large tract of valuable grassland. Can the Minister give me an assurance that in future, when troops are engaged in similar exercises and find it necessary to light fires in country areas for the purpose of locating unexploded artillery or mortar bombs or for any other reason, the commanding officer or some other responsible person will first advise the owner of the property concerned that the Army intends to start a fire and at the same lime will ensure that proper fire precautions are taken?
– I am not aware of the circumstances outlined by the honouable senator. I do not know whether I heard him correctly.. I thought he said that the fire was- started by accident.
– No, I did not.
– I am sure that it would be most unusual for an incident such as this to occur; but 1 will bring the question to the notice of the Minister for the Army.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Was there any official Government representation at today’s gathering organised by the Soviet Embassy to celebrate the Soviet Union’s national day? Would it not be a grave discourtesy and a breach of diplomatic ethics for the Government not to be represented at the official celebration of the national day of a friendly country? Does the absence of Government representation indicate a deterioration in relationships with the Soviet Union? Does the absence of any Liberal Party or Country Party member at such celebrations indicate a total boycott as a result of decisions of the Government parties?
– I would not know who attended the celebrations. I suggest that the assertions in all the honourable senator’s subsequent questions, which stem from his first question, are quite inconsistent with the fact that the Soviet Union has an embassy in Canberra. I would have thought that the fact that there is an embassy here establishes the relationship of this Government with the country concerned. This is a matter of protocol. If the honourable senator is asking about a particular function I shall seek the information and make it available to him.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. What has been the outcome of negotiations with the K Line shipping company for a new agreement in respect of the South American and Caribbean shipping service? Will Port Adelaide participate fully in this service, in common with major eastern State ports?
– As I recall it, the honourable senator and, indeed, some other senators have asked mc questions previously in relation to this matter of the K Line shipping company. I have sought to get some information from the Minister for Trade and Industry. I am informed that the present agreement for subsidy with the K Line expires early in 1969. The line was required under the terms of the agreement to make a report as at the end of September on the operations of the service. This report is currently under examination by the Department of Trade and Industry. I have an idea that I may have indicated that before. The purpose of the review is to enable the Minister to consider the arrangements to apply during 1969. Strong representations have been made by Adelaide interests as to the importance to Adelaide of calls there by the K Line ships. There have been detailed discussions between South Australian interests and departmental officers. The position of South Australian exporters is well understood and is being taken into account in the review. The problems of operating the service in the past have been made more difficult by the large range of ports served. It is not possible at this stage, however, to indicate whether there will be calls at Adelaide in the future.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry aware that for some time past senators from Tasmania have been complaining about the effects that the New ZealandAustralia Free Trade Agreement has been having on the Tasmanian pea industry? Is the Minister aware that New Zealand peas are now being dumped on the Sydney market at a market price of about 7c per lb, with serious deleterious effects on Australian pea exports generally, whilst Australian consumers are getting no consequential benefits price-wise? Will the Minister call for an investigation of this matter, and if the circumstances about which I have sought information are confirmed, will he consider taking action under Article 10 paragraph (2) of the Trade Agreement to prevent what is referred to as ‘future injury’ to Australian producers and Australian products?
– Yes, I am aware of complaints made by senators representing Tasmania about the importation of vegetables from New Zealand. I have not been informed of the position in regard to the Sydney market. I would remind the honourable senator that under the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement it is open to those who are affected in circumstances such as this to apply to the Minister for Trade and Industry and ask for action to be taken under the Agreement - and I think the article mentioned by the honourable senator is the correct one - to prevent such happenings. As for the remainder of the question, I will bring it to the notice of the Minister for Trade and Industry.
– My question is addressed to the Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities. Has he fully considered my adjournment debate submission of 10 days ago when I sought his intervention to assist in securing several portions of private land on the north coast of New South Wales, in the Kyogle and Terania Shires, for fauna reserves, mindful of their future tourist potential?
– I wish to inform the honourable senator that I brought his representations to the notice of the Minister for Tourism in New South Wales. He informed me, by letter, that the Summerland Tourist and Development Authority, in whose area of interest these proposed reserves are, had written to him in June last; that as the matter was one of land use, he had referred it to the New South Wales Minister for Lands; and that it has now been submitted for consideration by the New South Wales Wildlife Conservation Authority.
– 1 ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health whether she has seen the report in last month’s ‘Choice’, the journal of the Australian Consumers Association, which claimed that 70% of sunglasses sold in Australia are capable of injuring the eyes of wearers. Will the Minister investigate this claim and act accordingly?
– I have not seen the article to which the honourable senator refers and I do not know whether my colleague, the Minister for Health, has seen it. However, I will place the honourable senator’s question before the Minister for Health.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. Am I to understand from his answer to my previous question on secular marriages that the action of the Registrar in Brisbane in severely limiting the hours during which such marriages can be performed is a reasonable implementation of section 43 of the Marriage Act which clearly states that a marriage may be solemnised on any day, at any time and at any place? If the Minister does not consider this action as reasonably carrying out the spirit of the’ Act, what does he intend to do to see that the Act is supported?
– Since the honourable senator asked his previous question 1. have not had the advantage of perusing the section to which he refers and the context in which it appears. However, it immediately occurs to me that the honourable senator is misinterpreting the section. The section is directed to the validity of the ceremony and is simply stating that a marriage which in fact is celebrated on any day, at any time and at any place, in accordance with . the requirements of law, is val’id. lt is never to be expected - and I would be amazed if it were to be expected - that a provision of that Act should require an official in charge of a marriage registry to keep the registry, no matter where it is, open at ail hours of every day.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. It concerns the projected rehabilitation of the Australian dairy industry. Is the implementation of the dairy industry rehabilitation scheme to be dependent upon all States reaching agreement with the Commonwealth as to the final terms of the proposed scheme? Could not the scheme bc initiated immediately upon agreement being ‘ reached between the Commonwealth and any one or more of the six States concerned?
– I think the honourable senator is referring to a scheme for the reorganisation of dairy farms rather than the rehabilitation of the dairy industry. I answered a somewhat similar question yesterday. The difference in this case is that the honourable senator is asking whether the scheme can be put into operation upon agreement being reached with one only of the States.
– Conditions vary between States.
– That is so. One of the difficulties with which the Commonwealth Government has been faced is that conditions vary so much between Slates, as the honourable senator has rightly pointed out. Because of this, different arrangements have had to be made with different States. I am not in a position to say that the scheme could be put into operation if agreement was reached between the Commonwealth and one State only. I do not think it could be, butI am not sure, andI shall find out for the honourable senator.
(Question No. 40)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
What consideration has been given and what steps have been taken to implement the following recommendations of the Joint Select Committee on Parliamentary and Government Publications made in 1964:
that annotated consolidations of both Acts and Statutory Rules be published at 5-year intervals;
that the weekly issues of Hansard be published during the week following that in which the debates recorded in them take place;
that the bound volumes of the Parliamentary Debates be published no later than two months after the conclusion of the sittings to which they relate; and
that the indexes to the Parliamentary Debates be published as a separate pamphlet no later than two weeks after the conclusion of the sittings to which they relate?
– The Treasurer has supplied the following answer:
Paragraph (a) of the question relates to a matter that falls within the administration of my colleague the Attorney-General, who has supplied me with the following information:
This matter has been under continuous consideration since the report of the Committee and is still under consideration. On several occasions, questions about the matter have been answered or statements made. At the present time, suggestions made by the legal professional bodies as to the best means of publishing reprints of Acts are being examined. I hope to be able to make a decision in the near future.
Paragraphs (b), (c) and (d) are only part of the Joint Select Committee’s proposal for changing the procedures for the production of Hansard. On an earlier occasion, following the report in 1954 of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Hansard, the Presiding Officers, after the leaders of the parties had been consulted, concurred in rejecting a somewhat similar change in procedures. HoweverI am having the position re-examined to see if there is any scope for improvement in the service now provided by the Government Printer. Any proposed change in procedures would no doubt be a matter for discussion with the Presiding Officers and leaders of the parties.
(Question No. 174)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
Will the development of the oil industry in Australia mean cheaper petrol for the Australian public?
– I have received the following reply from the Minister for National Development:
The attention of the honourable senator is drawn to the statement on oil pricing policy by the Leader of the Government on behalf of the Prime Minister in this chamber on 10th October 1968.
(Question No. 321)
Senator WEBSTER (through Senator
Cotton) asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
What is the Government’s decision regarding the continuation of the work of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority?
If the work of the Authority, or the Authority under another name, is to be continued, is it considered to have constitutional authority to continue the work which is being undertaken at this time within Australia and overseas?
What is the total value and the type of works at present being undertaken by the Authority within Australia and overseas?
What is the number of staff involved on each of these contracts?
What time in man hours is it thought will be involved in each contract?
What procedure is followed in appointing the Authority to carry out such projects?
On what basis does the Authority decide to undertake projects?
Is a basis for charging fees stated before projects are accepted?
What fees have been charged to outside clients in each of the last three financial years, and to date in this current financial year?
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following answers:
The above amounts represent the salaries and wages, plus overheads, in carrying out work on providing services for other organisations, including work in connection with Blowering Dam which is being constructed under the Blowering Water
Storage Works Agreement Act. They do not represent the actual cost of carrying out the works in question, as reimbursements to the Authority for Blowering Dam contract payments, purchases of plant and materials, and direct charged expenses have been excluded. Work incidental to the. Snowy scheme for the Authority’s contractors and for the Electricity Commission of New South Wales and Victoria in the Snowy Mountains area have also been excluded.
(Question No. 377)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
– The Treasurer has replied as follows:
(Question No. 584)
Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The following reply has been received: 1. (a) A total of 13 contributory group passenger charter flights, or which 11 have been completed and 2 partly completed
No contributory group passenger charter flights.
Athens; normal charter rate). 1 passenger at$A340.60 (60% of one way economy class fare MelbourneAthens; normal charter rate). 45 passengers at$A323.50 (30% of round trip economy class fare MelbourneAthens; charter rate applicable to children). 1 passenger at$A 170.30 (30% of one way economy class fare MelbourneAthens; charter rate applicable to children). 7 passengers at$A64.60 (6% of round trip economy class fare MelbourneAthens; charter rate applicable to infants).
Frankfurt; normal charter rate). 24 passengers at $A352.00 (30% of round trip economy class fare SydneyFrankfurt; charter rate applicable to children). 7 passengers at$A70.40 (6% of round trip economy class fare SydneyFrankfurt; charter rate applicable to infants).
London: normal charter rate). 12 passengers at$A353.40 (30% of round trip economy class fare MelbourneLondon: charter rate applicable to children). 2 passengers at$A70.70 (6% of round trip economy class fare MelbourneLondon: charter rate applicable to infants).
London: normal charter rate). 130 passengers at $A695.40 (60% of round trip economy class fare BrisbaneLondon: normal charter rate). 24 passengers at $ A 347. 70 (30% of round trip economy class fare BrisbaneLondon: charter rate applicable to children). 4 passengers at$A69.60 (6% of round trip economy class fare BrisbaneLondon: charter rate applicable to infants).
Rome/Malta: normal charter rate). 6 passengers at $A352.60 (60% of one way economy class fare MelbourneRome/Malta: normal charter rate). 47 passengers at$A335.00 (30% of round trip economy class fare MelbourneRome/Malta: charter rate applicable to children). 5 passengers at$A67.00 (6% of round trip economy class fare MelbourneRome/Malta: charter rate applicable to infants). 1 passenger at$A35.30 (6% of one way economy class fare Melbourne-Rome/ Malta. charter rate applicable to infants).
London: normal charter rate). 15 pasesngers at$A667.10 (60% of round trip economy class fare MelbourneMalta: normal charter rate). 34 passengers at$A647.10 (60% of round trip economy class fare MelbourneAthens: normal charter rate). 3 passengers at $A353.50 (30% of round trip economy class fare MelbourneLondon: charter rate applicable to children). 7 passengers at$A340.60 (60% of one way economy class fare MelbourneAthens: normal charter rate). 1 passenger at $A333.60 (30% of round trip economy class fare MelbourneMalta: charter rate applicable to children). 12 passengers at$A323.60 (30% of round trip economy class fare MelbourneAthens: charter rate applicable to children). 3 passengers at $A 170.30 (30% of one way economy class fare MelbourneAthens: charter rate applicable to children). 3 passengers at$A70.70 (6% of round trip economy class fare MelbourneLondon: charter rate applicable to infants). 3 passengers at$A64.80 (6% of round trip economy class fare MelbourneAthens: charter rate applicable to infants). 1 passenger at$A34.10 (6% of one way economy class fare Melbourne-Athens: charter rate applicableto infants).
Malta: normal charter rate). 18 passengers at $A647.10 (60% of round trip economy class fare MelbourneAthens: normal charter rate). 7 passengers at$A351.10 (60% of one way economy class fare MelbourneMalta: normal charter rate). 2 passengers at$A340.60 (60% of one way economy class fare MelbourneAthens: normal charter rate). 17 passengers at$A333.60 (30% of round trip economy class fare MelbourneMalta: charier rate applicable to children). 8 passengers at$A323.60 (30% of round trip economy class fare MelbourneAthens: charter rate applicable to children). 2 passengers at$A175.60 (30% of one way economy class fare MelbourneMalta: charter rate applicable to children). 1 passenger at $ A1 70.30 (30% of one way economy class fare MelbourneAthens: charter rate applicable to children). 3 passengers at$A66.20 (6% of round trip economy class fare MelbourneMalta: charter rate applicable to infants). 4 passengers at $A64.80 (6% of round trip economy class fare MelbourneAthens: charter rate applicableto infants).
Rome/Malta: normal charter rate). 25 passengers at$A647.10 (60% of round trip economy class fare MelbourneAthens: normal charter rate). 6 passengers at$A352.60 (60% of one way economy class fare MelbourneRome: normal charter rate). 5 passengers at$A340.60 (60% of one way economy class fare MelbourneAthens: normal charter rate). 28 passengers at$A335.00 (30% of round trip economy class fare MelbourneRome: charter rate applicable to children). 3 passengers at$A323.60 (30% of round trip economy class fare MelbourneAthens: charter rate applicable to children). 2 passengers at$A 176.30 (30% of one way economy class fare MelbourneRome: charter rate applicableto children). 3 passengers at$A67.00 (6% of round trip economy class fare MelbourneRome: charter rate applicable to infants). 2 passengers at $64.80 (6%of round trip economy class fare MelbourneAthens: charter rate applicable to infants). 1 passenger at$A34.10 (6% of one way economy class fare Melbourne-Athens: charter rate applicable to infants),
(Question No. 593)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
Will the Treasurer give consideration to a continuation of the pay roll tax concessions to tin producers in marginal areas to give an incentive to decentralisation and employment opportunities for those engaged in tin mining in the Gladstone area of north eastern Tasmania?
– The Treasurer has replied as follows:
The Government recently carried out a comprehensive review of the taxation export incentives on the basis of their operation since being introduced in 1961. Various modifications were decided on with a view to securing the best results for the outlays involved. In particular, the Government had in mind that the purpose of these schemes is not to provide subsidies for marginal producers but to promote growth of exports. They are not intended to operate as export subsidies. To this end the pay-roll tax rebate scheme is concentrated on exports by industries which are likely to be responsive to the export incentive. The Government carefully considered the implications for the mining industry before it decided to exclude minerals from the pay-roll tax rebate scheme.
(Question No. 610)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
– The Minister for Defence has provided the following information: 1. (a) Rifle clubs may establish ranges on Commonwealth land where this can be made available for the purpose. Assistance is given to rifle clubs in arranging leases of State or privately owned land subject to the club concerned bearing all associated costs.
Rifle clubs are permitted the use of military ranges. Rifle club ranges are inspected for safety by the Commonwealth.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
In view of the fact that the quality, speed and comfort of rail services depend on the strength of the rail track, what is the weight of the rails to be used in the new Perth to Sydney railway, particularly in the following sections - Kalgoorlie to Port Pirie, Port Pirie to Broken Hill and Broken Hill to Sydney?
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has replied as follows:
The weight of the rails is not the only factor that affects the strength of the track or the quality, speed and comfort of rail services. While it is important, other factors such as the design and alignment of the road bed, ballasting, spacing of sleepers, alignment of rails, design of rollingstock, design of bogies together with the general level of maintenance all affect the quality, speed and comfort of rail services.
Weights of rail in use on the sections of the standard gauge railway between Perth and Sydney are as follows:
Perth-Kalgoorlie - 94 lb per yard.
Kalgoorlie-Port Pirie - 80 lb per yard and 94 lb per yard. The 80 lb rail is being replaced progressively.
Port Pirie-Broken Hill - 94 lb per yard.
Broken Hill-Parkes- 80 lb per yard (90%), 90 and 94 lb per yard (10%).
Parkes-Sydney - 107 lb per yard.
Following completion of works currently in progress, there is no doubt that the whole of the line from Perth to Sydney will give very high standards of speed, comfort and safety.
(Question No. 647)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
Is it a fact that the 72,000-ton tanker ‘Amoco Brisbane’ carrying 64,000 tons of crude oil was unable io berth satisfactorily at Brisbane because of lack of port depth? If so, is the Government taking any action to overcome this problem?
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has replied as follows:
The ‘Amoco Brisbane’ on arrival in Moreton Bay during September 1968 could nol proceed to- a berth in the Brisbane River until a quantity of oil was first removed to a bulk fuel lighter. The draught of the vessel on arrival was 41 feel 5 inches whilst available port depth al the terminal was 40 feet 3 inches. The question of the deepening of the port is, of course, a matter for decision by the Queensland Government.
– Yesterday Senator Milliner asked me a question in relation’ to the book manufacturing industry. 1 said that I would attempt to get an answer for him. I have an answer but 1 would point out to the honourable senator that I understand the Minister for Trade and Industry answered a question at question time in another place this afternoon which may contain more detail than this answer which 1 received before the question was posed in the other place. I have been informed that on 24th October 1968 the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair) who was then the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry, met a deputation from the Printing and Allied Trades Employers Association of Australia which indicated that it would be submitting a detailed case for government action to assist the book manufacturing industry. The Acting Minister for Trade and Industry undertook that when the industry’s case and proposals were submitted they would be considered carefully by the Government. I think that information needs to be looked at now in the light of the answer subsequently given by the Minister for Trade and Industry in another place.
– I wish to inform the Senate that the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) left Australia today to attend the ceremonial opening of the aeronautical fixed telecommunication network for civil aviation in Indonesia. He expects to return to Australia on 10th November. During Mr Swartz’s absence the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott) will act as Minister for Civil Aviation and the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) will handle civil aviation and repatriation matters in the other place.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by- Senator Anderson) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bil] be now read a second time.
A major purpose of this Bill is to revise, and continue for another 5 years, the special income tax allowance for expenditure incurred in promoting exports from Australia. Two other amendments to the income tax law are also proposed. The purpose of one is to ensure, that enterprises engaged in activities: , associated with petroleum exploration and mining on Australia’s continental shelf are treated in the same’ way under the income tax law as enterprises carrying out .similar activities on the mainland. The other amendment will repeal special provisions relating to the taxation of residents of Nauru. These provisions are not appropriate now that Nauru has ceased to be an Australian territory.
Since 1961, two forms of export incentive have been available to Australian exporters through the taxation -laws. One is a special income tax deduction, for . certain kinds of export promotion expenditure and the other a pay-roll tax rebate for increases achieved in export sales. Both of these incentives terminated on 30th June- 1968. As honourable senators know, the pay-roll tax incentive was re-enacted earlier this year in a revised and extended form - for a further period of 5 years from 1st July 1968. At the time, the Senate was assured of the Government’s intention to introduce during the Budget session proposals for a revised and extended income tax incentive scheme to operate for a corresponding period. This Bill will give effect to the.new scheme.
Entitlement to the allowance for export market development expenditure under the scheme that operated up to 30th June 1968 did not depend upon results achieved by export activity. Rather, its design was to encourage taxpayers to incur promotional expenditure in advance of export sales and to build up methodical and regular selling arrangements so as to ensure the continuance of sales on foreign markets. No change in this important aspect of the export promotion allowance is to be made.
Under the terminated scheme, however, the allowance was provided in the form of a special income tax deduction for specified classes of expenditure incurred in promoting exports. The special deduction was additional to the deductions ordinarily available for the expenditure under the general provisions of the income tax law. In effect, a deduction of $2 was allowable for each $1 of eligible expenditure, subject to the proviso that the maximum saving in tax for the double deduction did not exceed 80c for each $1 expended.
One significant change proposed by the Bill is that the special deduction is to be replaced by a rebate of income tax of 42.5c for each $1 of eligible promotional expenditure. Provision is made for an excess rebate entitlement of any year to be carried forward for deduction in a subsequent year of income. This will apply where the tax otherwise payable for an income year is less than the rebate allowable for that year. The amount by which the rebate allowable exceeds the tax payable may be carried forward and set-off against the tax payable for any of the next 7 years of income.
As I have already mentioned, the maximum saving in tax under the previous scheme from the double deduction for export promotion expenditure was limited to 80c for each $1 expended. It is proposed by the Bill to raise this limit. Under the new scheme, the maximum tax saving that may be achieved from the deduction allowed under the genera] provisions of the income tax law combined with the rebate allowable will be 87.5c for each $1 expended. The Bill will also add to the classes of expenditure that may qualify for the export market development allowance. Under the old scheme, the allowance was not available for any outgoings incurred in promoting export sales if the income from those sales was exempt from Australian tax for the reason that it was being taxed in the country in which it had its source. For 1968-69 and subsequent income years, otherwise eligible expenditure will qualify for the allowance even though it ls expended in promoting export sales which will produce exempt income of this kind.
Certain export promotion costs that may be of a capital nature and, for that reason, not deductible under the general provisions of the income tax law are also to be brought within the scope of the allowance. This extension of the scheme will cover the cost of obtaining protection outside Australia for Australian developed patents, copyright or trademarks. Also to be added to the scope of eligible expenses are the costs of promoting disposals of certain classes of ‘know-how’ that have been developed to a substantial extent in Australia and costs of selecting or designing labels and packaging for exclusive use in the export of goods from Australia.
Honourable senators will appreciate, I feel sure, that it is important for the Government to be in a position to undertake a review from time to time of the operation and practical effects of an incentive of this kind. For this to be done satisfactorily, it is necessary for relevant information to be available to Ministers and the departments concerned with policy aspects of the scheme. The Bill makes provision, therefore, to authorise the Commissioner of Taxation to communicate to Ministers and to the secretaries of the Treasury and the Department of Trade and Industry such information as the Treasurer considers necessary to form an opinion as to whether the purpose of the scheme is being achieved. Officials receiving this information will be subject to the same obligations to maintain secrecy as apply to taxation officers. It will be recalled that a similar amendment was made earlier this year in the Pay-roll Tax Assessment Act to facilitate review of the revised pay-roll tax incentive from time to time. The proposed rebate for export market development expenditure will apply in respect of eligible outgoings incurred after 30th June 1968.
Another amendment proposed by the Bill will insert provisions in the income tax law that are complementary to the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act which was enacted last year. These provisions relate to enterprises engaged in petroleum exploration and mining on Australia’s continental shelf, and activities associated therewith. One purpose of these provisions is to ensure that income derived from, or in connection with, the exploration for, or the exploitation of, petroleum or natural gas deposits on Australia’s continental shelf will be liable to Australian tax when that income is derived by persons who are not, for taxation purposes, residents of Australia. These persons are subject to Australian tax on income derived from a source in Australia. For the purpose of determining the source of this class of income, it is proposed that the continental- shelf be treated as if it were part of Australia.
The continental shelf amendments are also designed to ensure that the same range qf special deductions for capital expenditure are available in relation to off-shore production as apply to mainland production. The income tax law authorises special deductions for capital expenditure incurred in prospecting or mining for petroleum, including natural gas. Subject to certain conditions being satisfied, share capital subscriptions to petroleum exploration companies are also deductible. These deductions apply to prospecting and mining activities in Australia and the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. Amendments proposed by the Bill will ensure that both resident and nonresident taxpayers are entitled to the same income tax deductions in relation to petroleum activities on the continental shelves of Australia and Papua and New Guinea as they are when the activities are carried out on the respective mainlands.
These amendments will apply to income earned after the introduction of the Bill into Parliament and to past and future expenditures incurred by a petroleum exploration or mining company in searching for or exploiting petroleum or gas deposits in areas of the continental shelf. 1 turn now to the third amendment proposed by the Bill.
Until recently Nauru was a Territory of the Commonwealth and special provisions of the income tax law provided certain concessions for Nauruan residents. These concessions derived from Nauru’s status as a Territory. One concession exempted from Australian tax income earned in Nauru by Australians employed there. Under the general provisions of the income tax law, income earned overseas by Australian residents is taxed in Australia unless it is taxed by the country in which the income is earned. The concessional allowances Aus tralia gives for the maintenance of dependants, medical expenses, education expenses and so on are not available generally to persons who are not residents of Australia. Under the special provisions I have mentioned, Nauruan . residents have been entitled to deduct from their Australian income the same concessional allowances as residents of Australia are entitled to deduct from their income.
As honourable senators know. Nauru ceased to be an Australian territory from the end of January this year. It is proposed, therefore, that Nauruan residents be treated under the Australian, income tax . law in the same way as residents .of any other independent country. Under the amendments contained in the Bill persons employed in Nauru who remain residents of Australia will be liable to tax in Australia on their Nauruan earnings, if they are not taxed in Nauru, and residents of Nauru will not be entitled to deduct concessional allowances from income derived in Australia. These amendments will apply from the commencement of the .1968-69 income year. As a memorandum giving more detailed explanations of the provisions of the Bill is being circulated to honourable senators I do not think it is necessary for me to speak at any greater length at this stage. 1 commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wilkinson) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Scott) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This is a Bill for an Act to amend the Air Navigation (Charges) Act 1952-1967. The main purpose of the Bill is to increase the rates of charges payable by the operators of aircraft for the use of .Commonwealth aerodromes and air navigation facilities. The Bill provides also that regulations made under the Act may prescribe penalties for offences against those regulations, and exempts from air navigation charges any charter flights conducted for defence purposes by civil aircraft. Although the revenue contributed by the users of civil aviation facilities continues to rise at a more rapid rate than the annual cost of maintaining and operating those facilities, the deficit incurred by the Commonwealth in this sphere is still considerable. Clearly, positive measures must be adopted to increase revenues if reasonable progress is to be made towards the full recovery of costs properly attributable to commercial aviation, particularly if one bears in mind the heavy capital expenditure to which the Commonwealth is committed in developing some of our major airports.
One obvious method of improving the revenue position is to increase air navigation charges, and the Government has concluded that the air transport industry is economically sound enough to absorb a further general increase of 10% in these charges. The Government has decided also that the operators of large jet aircraft should be called upon to make a greater contribution towards the substantial expenditure on the facilities needed for their operation, and it proposes to do this by introducing a higher rate of air navigation charge for aircraft whose maximum all-up weight exceeds 200,000 lb. The aircraft so affected are the large jets now used on international services, and consideration will be given during the current year to the question of whether a further modification of the scale of charges should be made to cater for the jumbo jets and supersonic transports which will be introduced on the international routes to Australia in the 1970s.
The Bill therefore provides for a general 10% increase in charges payable by the operators of all airline and general aviation aircraft, and this is expected to bring in additional revenue of $460,000 in 1968-69 and $1,010,000 in a full year. The additional increase for the large jets is of the order of 10%, making a total of 20%, and the resulting gain in revenue will be about $200,000 in 1968-69 and $425,000 in a full year. During the past 12 months a study has been made of ways and means of speeding up the assessment and collection of air navigation charges from the airlines, and a new system has been developed which is designed to obtain payment of the charges within 1 month of the end of the period for which they are due. This represents a reduction of about 2 months in the delay in collection which was inevitable under the former system. The airlines are cooperating well in complying voluntarily with the new procedure, but it is proposed, in due course, to make regulations establishing the scheme as a legal requirement under the Act. Enforcement of the regulations will require some penalties for noncompliance, and the Bill inserts authority in the Act to specify such penalties.
As the Act now stands, aircraft of the Australian and foreign defence forces are not subject to Australian air navigation charges for any operations in this country. From time to time, civil aircraft are chartered for defence purposes, and it appears to the Government that such operations should also be exempt from charges. The Bill makes appropriate amendments to the Act to clarify the position in this respect. I commend the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Consideration resumed from 5 November (vide page 1664).
Department of Immigration
Proposed expenditure, $55,164,000.
Proposed provision, $7,602,000.
– I should like to continue briefly the remarks I was making in this debate yesterday. 1 propose to raise a matter that 1 mentioned in this place some time ago. I suggest that a little more sympathy by the men in charge of the Department of Immigration in their efforts to unite families would do much to help the administration of this very fine organisation. As I have been appointed by my Party to attend to the Riverina district. I receive many representations from that area. As other honourable senators have mentioned, that area is represented in the New South Wales Parliament by Mr Grassby, a very dynamic personality. About 3 or 4 years ago he raised with me a matter concerning an Italian family. I will not mention names at this stage. I wish to bring before the Minister and her departmental advisers three cases, details of which 1 will supply to the Department within the next few days.
The first case concerns an Italian whose request for admission to Australia I have previously placed before the Department. At that time I produced a health certificate and documents to prove that he has no penal record or political ties. He furnished recommendations from both church and State authorities and evidence that he had been accepted by the immigration authoritties in the United States of America for admission to that country. He is anxious to come to Australia. Time out of number such requests have been rejected by the Department. I would like this particular case studied again.
Recently a priest who lives in Griffith returned from a visit to Italy during which he interviewed the man concerned. He investigated the case and cannot understand the Department’s refusal. I can say with authority that at least 200 members of the family of this Italian live in Australia. I anticipate that the Department will rubbish that assertion but the fact is that he is a member of the Sergi family in Griffith. I attended a wedding of one of the members of that family. At least 1,000 guests attended that wedding. This Italian wants to bring his wife and family to Australia. Priests who live in Griffith and organisations there are astonished and cannot understand the Department’s refusal. 1 will supply further details of this case to the Minister at a later date.
Representations have been made to Mr Grassby on behalf of another family in Griffith who seek to bring to Australia a family, the children of which are three girls and a boy. The parents of the children eloped and married as teenagers about 12 years ago. Legal proceedings involving a charge of kidnapping were undertaken in Italy by the parents of the girl. Her parents are at present in Australia and her brother lives at Leeton. He has applied for admission of the family to Australia but the application has been refused on grounds involving the charge of kidnapping that was laid in Italy. The lad has been forgiven by the family. Why should the Department continue to penalise him and his young family? I will also give further details about this matter to the Minister, in all probability this afternoon or tomorrow morning.
– Did the marriage arise from the alleged kidnapping?
– -Yes. They have married and now have four children. The wife’s brother lives at Leeton and has made application for admission of the family to Australia. The father of the young family and his wife and children are the only relatives of the family’ now living in Italy. They are anxious to be re-united with the family in Australia.
Yesterday reference was made to a Czechoslovakian dentist. .Representations have been made to me from Griffith concerning an Armenian migrant who is one of 6,000 Armenian migrants in Sydney. He graduated from the Alexandria University of Egypt as a doctor of dentistry. He speaks perfect English. About 500 pf his former patients now live in Sydney but he is not permitted to practise there as a dentist. He has been informed that he must undertake a practical test but he is granted no access anywhere at all to practise. in order to get his hand in, as the saying is.
He claims that he was “induced to come here under false pretences because he was advised that he could pra’ctise here under supervision, in hospitals, clinics or such institutions. He claims that he wrote to and received that advice from the appropriate authority in New South Wales. The Bishop of the Armenian Church in’ Australia has taken up the case. I believe that the Department has an obligation to do- something on behalf of the people to” whom I have referred. Not only does refusal aggravate the problems of the families in Australia, but it also has an adverse effect upon the work of the Department of Immigration in other parts of the world. I; appreciate that the Minister has a .great many problems to deal with and that the Committee is anxious to proceed with .the estimates debate. I therefore complete my. submission on the matters 1 have raised.
[4.36] - I have a number of questions to reply to and I think it might be advisable to do so now. Senator Fitzgerald has stated that he will furnish more particulars concerning the individual cases to which he has referred and I would be pleased if he would do so. I can assure him that the cases will be fully reviewed. I can also assure the honourable senator that when a family reunion is involved only the most serious objections would prevent the issue of visas.
Yesterday Senator Fitzgerald .asked some questions to which I did not have an opportunity to reply. He inquired about conditions at Bunnerong migrant hostel and Bonegilla migrant centre. I wish to inform him that as part of an overall programme for the progressive improvement of transitory accommodation for migrants, a new hostel to accommodate 1,000 persons is now under construction at Randwick. This new hostel is expected to cost about $4,000,000. When it is ready for occupation, the Bunnerong hostel will be closed and the site on which it stands wall be returned to the New South Wales Government.
It has been decided to close Bonegilla centre when satisfactory alternative migrant reception arrangements can be made. Some progress has already been made in this direction by the use of Commonwealth hostels and although these arrangements are being further developed, in view of the large migration programme it seems likely that it will be necessary to continue to use Bonegilla centre to a reducing extent at least until the end of the financial year 1968-69.
Senator Fitzgerald referred to the number of migrants who have been in Australia long enough to apply for naturalisation but have not done so. He cited the figures for 2 years ago and asked to be informed of the position. Since January 1945 more than 575,000 migrants who came to Australia as aliens have applied for and have been granted citizenship. The number of migrants, including children, who have been in Australia for 5 years or more and who have not yet sought citizenship is estimated to be 276,000. The annual totals of persons naturalised in recent years are as follows: 1963-64, 35,353; 1964-65, 32,601; 1965-66, 31,324; 1966-67, 38,793; and 1967-68, 38,946. It will be seen from those figures that increased numbers of migrants have been granted citizenship in the past 2 years.
I will now endeavour to answer some of the questions asked last night by Senator Mulvihill. I apologise for not replying then to his query about the staff in the migration office of the Australian Embassy in Belgrade. He inquired as to the number. of Australians and the number of locally engaged people.
– -I also inquired whether they are operating in other cities in Yugoslavia.
– I will give the figures I have. If they do not cover the points raised by the honourable senator I will do what I can to obtain further information for him. The figures are:
The difference between the twenty-three locally engaged staff and the eighteen I mentioned on 24th October 1968 is due to five additional positions that have been created since the estimates were prepared. That is the latest information that I have for the honourable senator.
He also referred yesterday afternoon to suggestions in connection with the Australian Citizenship Convention. His suggestions interested me. I have some information concerning them. Invitations to citizenship conventions are confined usually to nationally constituted organisations that are interested in migrant integration. The Australian Council of Trade Unions is one of the bodies that are represented. Because of the need to achieve a wide cross-sectional representation of the community and at the same time to keep the attendance within manageable limits, it has not been practicable to widen the invitation list to include individuals in specific walks of life. However, the organisations invited are requested to nominate as their representatives, where possible, people who are in day to day contact with migrant problems. Also the Good Neighbour Councils, whose delegations to the conventions are relatively large, provide opportunities for individuals to participate in the conventions.
Senator Mulvihill also asked about what happens to the decisions made by Good Neighbour Council conferences. In the normal course of events they are brought to the notice of the Minister, who considers them and furnishes replies to them. The honourable senator also asked for the latest position regarding the imbalance between the sexes among migrants. The figures for the financial year 1967-68 were: Males 74,560 and females 62,965. T think the honourable senator will be interested to know that the Minister for Immigration has asked the Immigration Advisory Council to study problems associated with the balance between the sexes and to suggest measures designed to remedy those problems. I assure the honourable senator that the Minister and his Department are not losing sight of the importance of this aspect of the immigration programme. They are very conscious of its importance.
Senator Mulvihill drew my attention to a statement made by Mr Grassby MLA, in an address to the Good Neighbour Council of New South Wales, to the effect that Italian migrants are paying exorbitant rates of interest on loans to bring their families to Australia. From time to time statements of a general nature have been made to the effect that some migrants are paying high interest rates on travel loans, but no specific cases have been brought to notice to give the Department the opportunity to investigate them. On the other hand there are voluntary agencies that make travel loans available without interest, lt is the practice of the Department of Immigration to advise migrants to seek the help of these voluntary agencies.
Senator Cant quoted from the Immigration Planning Council’s report on programmes for the period 1968 to 1973. He referred to the possibility of a shortfall of about 9,000 migrants in this year’s programme. When I replied to his question on the first occasion we did not seem to be meeting each other’s line of thinking. So I have had a further investigation made of the matter, and I hope that I will now be able to answer him as he wishes me to. The Immigration Planning Council’s report, although not tabled in the Parliament until 10th September 1968, in fact was transmitted to the Minister for Immigration by its chairman on 5th June 1968. The honour- able senator’s reference was to page 29 of the report, which states:
The 1966-67 figures had shown a shortfall of just over 9,000 settler arrivals from the target figure and on present indications there was a possibility of another shortfall in settler arrivals in 1967-68.
On the question of the possibility of a shortfall in 1968-69 - I think this is the point on which Senator Cant and I were not on the same line of thinking yesterday - I can only say that figures released by the Commonwealth Statistician on 5th November and covering the first 3 months of the present financial year show that settler arrivals were 10,652 above those for the corresponding period of 1967-68. Therefore there can be no basis, for the assumption that this year’s increased total target of 160,000 settlers will not be met.
asked me questions about the steps that are taken by officers of the Department of Immigration to advise potential migrants with professional qualifications about the difficulties of acceptance into their professions in Australia. He referred particularly to the migrants who have come from Czechoslovakia quite recently. I think not only Senator Ormonde but other honourable senators will be interested to know that for some years now a professional migration service has been operating in London and has been supported by a supplementary service in the Department of Immigration in Canberra and the higher appointments offices of the Department of Labour and National Service.
Applicants with professional qualifications are invited to submit details of their qualifications and experience on a specially designed form, which is sent to Australia for assessment as to eligibility and submitted to prospective employers. The result is conveyed to the applicant to assist him in reaching a decision on whether he should come to Australia. The provision of this service to highly qualified people involves a great deal of personal counselling. In addition there is a considerable volume of correspondence between overseas migration offices and Australia and individual applicants.
In the case of people from Czechoslovakia, a member of the professional migration service was sent to Vienna especially to give advice to applicants with professional qualifications and to communicate the details of each case to Canberra. The Minister for Immigration made a special appeal to State authorities for help in placing these people. The qualifications of individuals were widely circulated not only to the State governments but also to universities and Commonwealth authorities. In response to the Minister’s appeal, the New South Wales Medical Registration Board agreed that the chairman of its evaluation committee, Dr Maynard Rennie, should proceed to Vienna to interview doctors among the applicants with a view to assessing their qualifications and advising them on employment prospects. I believe that that covers the points that were raised with me before the debate was adjourned yesterday and this afternoon.
– I wish to refer again to this matter of the acceptance of professional and trade qualifications, with which the Minister has just dealt. She dealt with the efforts being made by the Commonwealth to place persons- from overseas in Australia under the existing laws. The problem seems to be that the qualifications - the high qualifications - that many of these people have are not acceptable under State laws and to the various professional bodies, lt has been said, I believe with some justification, that the restrictions laid down under State laws are unjust to many immigrants and that, while maintaining proper adherence to the standards that must be required in the professions and trades for the sake of the public and the society, there should be some alterations in the laws in order to enable these people to pursue their professions and highly skilled trades in this country.
I suggest that the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) give consideration to the possibility of the Government using its external affairs power to cope with this problem, so that by entering into arrangements with other countries for the placing of their nationals in Australia, as part of this vast immigration scheme, we might come to agreement on the acceptance of qualifications. Provided that this were done on a satisfactory basis, the Commonwealth might be able to work out some scheme, set up standards and set up its own tribunals for the determination of questions of when and in what circumstances persons would be able to practise. This Parliament could make laws for the carrying out of such an agreement in the same way it has made laws, for instance, for the carrying out of the narcotic drugs agreement and certain aviation agreements. Then this Parliament would have the power which it otherwise seems to lack to provide for the fitting of those persons into the community notwithstanding the restrictions which might exist under State law. I do not suggest this in any way dogmatically but I suggest it as a possibility for the consideration of the Minister as a way to break through an obstacle which has persisted for far too long in this community.
We have immigration agreements with other countries and I would suggest that this might be made part of them. If the Minister finds that it is feasible then this is a way in which this Parliament might be able really to eliminate that problem which occurs as a result of not having control over areas where persons are to practise their professions. So far we have proceeded on the basis that the State laws control the position. Because of the various differences between the laws from State to State, because of all sorts of restrictions and sometimes because of the tendency to keep professions a closed shop, our immigration programme has suffered severely.
– There is some difficulty with the unions, too, regarding this.
– 1 suppose in some areas - not only the professions but also in other spheres - there is resistance to people coming into an area where it would cause some unemployment. That is understandable, and no doubt the solution to the problem ought to be worked out in the light of the whole immigration programme. One would not want to bring in migrants if they caused unemployment.
– I was referring not to that but to their trade qualifications.
– We have the Tradesmen’s Rights Regulation Act which operates reasonably satisfactorily. I do not think anyone in the community would want a lowering of standards. That is not inherent in anything I am suggesting and 1 do not think the Government would want it - I do not think anyone would want it.
But there seem to be far too many cases, especially in the professions, of people who have obviously very high qualifications and yet because of what seem to be unreasonable restrictions they are prevented from carrying on their professions or their highly skilled trades. It. is time that this Parliament took more responsibility than it has so far done to cope with this problem. We are responsible for the initiation and the carrying on of the immigration programme. Here is a great snag which has arisen and yet we have not done everything that can be done. That is why I suggest this is a possibility for the consideration of the Minister.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [5.54] -i have noted the points raised by Senator Murphy. I think he is aware of what the Minister has already done concerning this but I shall certainly bring to the Minister’s notice the points he has raised in this afternoon’s discussion.
Proposed expenditure and proposed provision noted.
Department of Health
Proposed expenditure, $24,939,000.
Proposed provision, $3,751,000.
I refer to Division 290. I can put all of the illnesses to which I wish to refer under this division as it relates to the salaries of the people who are paid to look after health. I feel that these should be examined to make sure that they earn their keep. Firstly, let me get back to my pill safety container. I showed this pill container to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. It is a safety device and can only be opened if one presses it upside down in the palm of the hand and turns it. In other words, children cannot open it. A fortnight later 1 asked what the Minister had done about it and Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin kindly said she would ask again. Another week has passed and not one word has been spoken in regard to this. I take this as arrogance on the part of the Department.
Why must public servants adopt this attitude that they are the only people who know anything? If this is a good container, 3 weeks have been wasted. At least three deaths have occurred in those 3 weeks apart from numerous other cases of poisoning of children. It does not worry the Department. Departmental officers are paid their salaries which go up in due course, so what does it matter? The whole point is that if anyone apart from a departmental officer suggests an idea then it cannot be any good, so they scrap it. The Department’s attitude seems to be: Let us forget about it because, after all, departmental officers are paid to think of these things. Unfortunately, they rarely bring up a new idea. There is rarely any initiative in the Department at all. The container costs, I believe,1c extra. I do not care who pays that extra lc, whether it is the Department or the chemist. As the Commonwealth Department of Health pays $15,000 per annum to each chemist, I think he could carry the extra lc it may cost to use this pill dispenser. I know of the criticism that old people may not be able to open it, but if they are so old and fragile that they cannot open it they certainly would not know what pill they were taking.
– One does not need a jemmy to open it.
– No. One has to press on. it on the palm of the hand. Since I mentioned the matter in the Senate - apparently there are three types of dispensers in use - the owner of one patent has sent me a whole box of containers. I think that next week I shall bring them up and distribute them to honourable senators, when they will be able to see for themselves. Not a thing has been done. Apparently, in the view of the Department, we are all stupid. Unless we are in the Department of Health we do not know a thing. Apparently, the Minister cannot even send an officer out to see what has happened about this. Nobody seems to know. I shall come back to this later.
Let me come now to the pathetic, weak and absolutely criminal attitude of the Department to smoking. The Department tries to disregard it, of course. We are told that the matter has been sent on to the National Health and Medical Research Council, and it has come back with the weak idea that we must do something about this through education.. There are other ways of stopping this scourge of cancer of the lung. If honourable senators do not believe me, let me read some facts and figures. In 1900 the number of cases of lung cancer amongst males in Australia was only 19; 2 years ago it was 2,250. The number of cases amongst females rose from 9 to 316 in the same period. That is a pretty serious rise. One can say: ‘Oh well, this is the result of better diagnosis and so on. We have found more cancer.’ But we are not doing anything about the prevention of cancer of the lung. We are just disregarding it, forgetting it, wiping it away. After all, who pays the newspapers and who keeps television going? The cigarette advertisers. We cannot do anything against them because we will affect all of those people who are making a profit out of smoking. Do not do anything about it. Let us forget about it. Let us pretend that education of the young will stop them smoking, lt has not stopped smoking. We all know that. lt is time the Department of Health accepted its responsibilities. The National Health and Medical Research Council accepts the fact that smoking is a direct cause of lung cancer. If people wish to argue about whether it is a direct cause, then. I say that most certainly it is the major cause of lung cancer. I want to read from an article which refers to a paper published on the results of a survey of about 3,000 lung cancer patients. The survey was conducted by the Memorial Centre for Cancer and Allied Diseases in New York. The survey was made of patients who had been diagnosed as having lung cancer. The people who made the survey went through the case histories to find out what they could about earlier diagnosis. They came out with a pathetic and rather sad finding. The report states:
This is what has happened after some people have spent years trying to get through to the public the fact that smoking causes lung cancer.
– Has the honourable senator given up smoking?
– Yes. I gave it up long ago. The report also states: the overwhelming thrust against lung cancer morbidity and mortality will surely come from primary preventive measures such as stopping smoking rather than refinements in diagnosis and therapy.
Every article on the subject that one reads in the medical journals comes to the same conclusion. Yet the Government, with ils very highly paid officers - some of them receive $15,000 a year - cannot come up with any suggestion as to how to prevent this illness. In the past it has come up with schemes for the prevention of diphtheria, whooping cough and other diseases but apparently there have been no fresh brains admitted to the Department of Health for the past 20 years. The Department cannot think of something to combat lung cancer. There are people who are prepared to tell the Government what to do. The Government could help by using its power in relation to excise duties. It could increase the price of tobacco so much that it would be prohibitive. If people wanted to smoke, the Government could make them pay a packet to do so.
The Government cannot just wash its hands and not accept this responsibility. Yet members of the Government sit here and do nothing. If the Government does not care to worry about people dying of cancer of the lung, then what of the effect of those deaths on the gross national product in Australia? There are 4 million lost working days in Australia each year which can be associated with cigarette smoking. Cigarette smoking does not merely cause lung cancer alone, lt affects peoples’ hearts, and causes duodenal ulcers and other things. I have dealt with all these matters on a previous occasion. Chronic bronchitis sufferers are always off work because of cigarette smoking. We find that workers who smoke spend one-third more time away from their jobs than those people who do not smoke. Yet apparently we must not offend the newspaper and television barons. The Government takes the view that we should educate the public.
– If people drank Bundaberg rum it would be all right.
– Bundaberg rum certainly would be safer for them. There is another way of handling this problem. We have had a magnificent scheme in Australia whereby mass X-rays were undertaken to detect tuberculosis. 1 suggested to the Tasmanian Director of Tuberculosis that it was time we forgot the word ‘tuberculosis’ in association with these mass X-rays and entitled the programme ‘Mass X-rays for preventive medicine of the chest’. He replied that, after all, the Commonwealth pays for the X-ray because it is part of the anti-tuberculosis campaign and that we could not spend money on the earlier detection of cancer. This would not do because the money has been allocated for the prevention of tuberculosis and therefore the X-rays must be taken to prevent the spread of tuberculosis. lt is a fact that the only real hope of detecting lung cancer early enough in the age group from 50 to 60 years is by having an X-ray twice a year. If officers of the Department of Health have time to read the medical1 journals they will find it has been proved that if X-rays are taken twice a year of elderly people - those between 50 and 65 years of age - we can pick up lung cancers.
– Are these cases that can be cured by surgery?
– This is the only chance you have. There is no chance under the present system. Let us face it: The mortality rale for lung cancer is extremely high. The only way to combat it is by prevention and early diagnosis.
– Do not non-smokers gel hing cancer?
– Of course they do. The honourable senator has not been listening. I have not mentioned this point on this occasion but it has been proved that the disease is found from four times to ten times more often in people who smoke cigarettes than in those who do not smoke. This is a fact. Every medical authority agrees. But there is an emotional aspect of the association of lung cancer with smoking, as there is an emotional aspect of fluoridation. Everyone has this emotional attitude and people decry suggestions made about smoking and its link with cancer.
– Is there a point of no return?
– No. There is only one paper on this point. It is said that there is a regression if one gives up smoking. I have read only one article on this point. I am not an expert. I will refer the honourable senator to Dr Cotter Harvey for information on that point. Australia began a mass X-ray campaign to deal with tuberculosis. I ask officers of the Department of Health to listen to me and try to raise some suggestion, rather than objection, about the plan and to say why it cannot be put into effect. We have had preventive medicine in the form of mass X-rays to deal with tuberculosis and I suggest that we should extend that scheme and say that it is preventive medicine to deal with chest diseases. Why can we not do this? It would save money; it would save fives; it would prevent morbidity; and it would improve the gross national product. Why can we not do this?
When I took this matter up with the Director in Tasmania I asked him: ‘Did you read the article about the fact that you can pick up lung cancers in elderly people if they are X-rayed twice a year?’ He said he had read the article and thought it was a good idea but that it could not be done in Tasmania because this would not be aimed at the prevention of tuberculosis.
– It is a State matter.
– But the money comes from the Commonwealth. Why cannot the Government amend the Tuberculosis Act so that it becomes an Act dealing with chest diseases? This would be a simple thing to do. Having practically wiped out tuberculosis the Government now has reduced the number of times people are X-rayed from once a year to once every 2 years. I think this is a fallacy; nevertheless the medical advisers believe that an X-ray now is needed only every second year. The point is that we are missing out on detecting lung cancers, particularly in the elderly. I am not advocating that everyone must be X-rayed every year but that elderly people should be X-rayed twice a year in order to detect lung cancer. People forget that for every case of tuberculosis detected in a mass X-ray campaign, we find I lung cancer, 1 hydatid and about 13 other diseases. In the previous campaigns we have been detecting not only tuberculosis but chest diseases generally. The detection of chest diseases should be included in the name of the campaign. However, it appears that it is too difficult to change, too difficult to do anything fresh, and that it suits us to have more deaths - and an increasing number of deaths every year - from lung cancer.
I have said my piece. I am not asking everyone to give up smoking. The point is that people should take the advice of their doctor. Unless the particular doctor concerned is a heavy smoker, tries to rationalise his own conduct and says that it will not cause harm and thai it is now too late to give up smoking, he will advise against smoking, lt is not too late to stop smoking. In answer to Senator Byrne’s interjection, 1 believe there is a regressive action. To all you sinners in this place I say there is hope, so you should give up smoking.
– In dealing with the estimates for the Department of Health I want to refer to correspondence I have had with the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) relating to the treatment in South Australia of psychiatric patients and those who have recovered from mental illness. South Australia seems to have led the way in regard to rehabilitation of the mentally ill. Admittedly this is a State matter but there is a limit to which the States can go without additional finance. The Government should consider whether it would be a profitable investment if it assisted, where necessary, in rehabilitating the mentally ill at certain psychiatric centres. It has been found that rehabilitation has been quicker in these semi-private homes in South Australia than in the great nursing homes. Because of this, the South Australian Government has set up a group of semiprivate nursing homes which have to comply with certain conditions. At the moment twenty such centres are registered. In them mental patients receive treatment until they can be returned to their families. One disadvantage is that these places have to be self-supporting. Those who conduct them seem to manage by taking from the patient most of his invalid pension, but this income Ls not sufficient to enable the homes to provide all that is desirable for the treatment of mentally ill persons.
Recently, together with Mrs Martin, a State health officer attached to the Glenside Hospital, who, I might say, speaks in terms of highest praise of the system now in operation, I visited one of these establishments at Semaphore. This particular establishment was conducted by Mr and Mrs Brookes, with the aid of their family.
They were caring for 20 patients and their sole source of income was a fairly big portion of the pension received by the patients. This income barely covers the cost of accommodation. If more money was available to them, these people could install such necessary things as therapy equipment and amusement facilities for the patients. All this would expedite the rehabilitation of the mentally ill.
I wrote to Dr Forbes on 8th July of this year suggesting that the Commonwealth provide some financial assistance. I pointed out that the Church of Christ at Semaphore renders assistance in the way of teaching patients how to make little things - by occupational therapy - but it can make an officer available only for a limited time. I suggested that if more money were available the establishment itself could employ someone to help the patients in this way.
To support my request, I pointed out that without these establishments lo treat the mentally ill, these patients would in all probability have to be treated by nursing homes to which the Commonwealth Government pays a subsidy of $2 a day which helps cover the cost of treatment. Dr Forbes replied that he regretted that the Commonwealth was not in a position to assist in the direction I had suggested, although he did praise the scheme which has been introduced.
I appreciate that this is not the appropriate time for correcting the position, but I raise the matter now with a view to requesting the Department to make a full study of the results achieved under the scheme now in operation in South Australia. This scheme has been highly commended by the health authorities of South Australia and 1 suggest that the Commonwealth officers would do well to investigate whether rehabilitation can be effected more expeditiously under this scheme than under the old procedure under which people are kept in mental homes. If it is found that the scheme has merit - and I think it could be improved greatly if it had some financial aid - then I submit that the Department should recommend to the Government that financial assistance be given.
– The first matter to which I wish to refer relates to the results of a survey undertaken by a group of scientists at the
Monash University. These scientists established to their own satisfaction the tar content of the various brands of cigarettes smoked in Australia. I do not think it would be fair of me to mention the names of brands or manufacturers at this stage, but the survey conducted by the scientists established that the tar content of some imported cigarettes and some Australian made cigarettes ranged from 33% down to 7i%.
I know that the manufacturers argue that the tar content of a cigarette has no relation to lung cancer, but I do not think they will ever convince the people of Australia or the people of any other country that that is so. Honourable senators will know that as far back as 30 years ago people blew cigarette smoke through cloth, paper and other substances to see which cigarette produced smoke that made the darkest stain on the material. This indicates to me that even in those days people instinctively thought that tar was a contributing cause of lung cancer.
I propose to offer one suggestion, and we have a precedent for it. Senator Turnbull, who is still in the chamber, and Senator Dittmer, are both experts and have had a good deal to do with this matter. Senator McClelland and other honourable senators including myself have supported them. I refer to our agitation that a warning be printed on the packets of APC powders with relation to the phenacetin content of this product. The Health Department eventually agreed to our request. Whether phenacetine could cause ill health, we did not know, but the Department of Health agreed that it might, and therefore took the action which we requested. That was done during the time when Senator Wade was Minister for Health.
Why cannot similar action be taken in connection with cigarettes? Why cannot we compel the manufacturers of cigarettes to declare on the packets of their products the tar content of the cigarettes? The results would very soon be reflected in the sales of the cigarettes because no person would consciously buy a cigarette with a 30% tar content if he could obtain one with a tar content of only Whether rightly or wrongly, the average smoker really believes that tar is a contributing cause of lung cancer. If branding could be done with APC powders then I think it could be done also with cigarettes.
If the manufacturers were required to declare the tar content of their products this would force them either to withdraw their product from the market or see that the tar content of the cigarettes was reduced. Even though tar may not be a contributing cause of lung cancer, as the manufacturers claim, at least this requirement could lead to an improvement in the quality of the cigarettes marketed. I am sure people would prefer cigarettes with very little or no tar content to cigarettes with a heavy tar content.
I suggest that the Minister should have an investigation made with a view to deciding whether cigarette manufacturers should be required to declare on the cigarette packet the tar content of their products. I suggest also that the cost of meeting this requirement could well be borne by the cigarette manufacturers themselves because the cigarette industry is a very wealthy one.
The next matter to which I wish to refer relates to the revolution which has taken place in relation to psychiatric medicine. All over Australia, and probably all over the world, it is in that field of medicine that the greatest advances have been made. The institutions providing psychiatric treatment have improved vastly. They are no longer dungeons or asylums; they are now efficient well organised homes for the treatment of the mentally ill. I want to refer particularly to the great turnover in persons who receive psychiatric treatment or who have a mental illness. These people represent about 50% of hospital patients. They enter a hospital, are cured and then leave, but continue a course of medicines or tablets for psychiatric disorders.
Many representations have been made to me to the effect that these drugs generally are not on the free list. I hope the Minister can disabuse my mind on this. These tablets are either sleep producers or tension reducers, and probably 30 or 40 drugs could do the same job. Can the Minister state the number of drugs that generally are accepted as being capable of doing the same job? There is a proliferation of them but as far as I can see they are not on the free list. The great mass of the patients involved in the turnover to which I have referred are mostly ordinary working people and cannot afford to purchase and continue taking these drugs. The fact that the drugs are not on the free list does not hurt the wealthy because they can buy what is available, and it is all right for the specialists who write the prescriptions. But these drugs cost big money. I should like to know whether the relevant drugs are on the free list.
– Only for pensioners.
– 1 know that pensioners receive them free of charge but what about the people who are not pensioners? There are thousands of them. They do not go into hospital because they need not do so. As Senator Cavanagh mentioned, many stay at home. Of course, many specialists probably would get over the difficulty by making the patients pensioners, and that means added cost to the Government. Was Senator Turnbull referring to invalid pensioners?
– Any pensioner.
– I know that, but a doctor might put these patients on an invalid pension to get them the drug free of charge. That is my point. He might be charitable enough to do that, but what would that cost the Government? I have in mind particularly the people who, left without treatment, would finish up in an institution, lt appears to me that the drugs that 1 have in mind are not on the free list. I should like to know whether a representative number of them is on the free list. Are lists available to the public showing the drugs that are free and the drugs which attract the ful’l charge? If so, I should like to have one. 1 shall now refer briefly to the Health Insurance Committee of Inquiry. This Committee is under the chairmanship of Mr Justice Nimmo and is referred to as the Nimmo Committee. From time to time the Government has established committees to deal with health. One such committee at present operating is the Senate Select Committee on Medical and Hospital Costs. Senator Dame Ivy Wedgwood is the chairman and my colleague. Senator McClelland, is one of the members. The Government appears to be very anxious for the public to know the inside story of public health in Australia, but the Nimmo Committee meets privately and you cannot get near it. I should like to know the subject into which that Committee is inquiring. Why are its meetings secret? Why is the public not made fully aware of the aspects of health into which that Committee is inquiring? Why cannot we attend a meeting of the Committee?
– It is a farce because people give evidence to the Nimmo Committee, which is in secret, and then come to the Senate Committee and give the same evidence which becomes public.
– I am a suspicious type of bloke and I would say that the matters that the Government does not want the public to know anything about go before the Nimmo Committee and the matters that are not very important go before the other Committee. I get that impression as a layman. The Nimmo Committee probably is the really important Committee, if I guess correctly, and that is secret. The Nimmo Committee is going overseas. What will it examine overseas? Why is it going overseas? Who will be going overseas?
– Whore is it going?
– I do not know. The Minister may be able to tell me why, where and when. Three committees dealing with public health are meeting at the same time. I am euchred. J do not know which is the important committee but I would rather know what the Nimmo Committee is doing than what the other two committees which are public are doing. If the Minister can answer those questions she will be doing a national service because a lot of people want to know the answers - particularly why the Committee is meeting in secret.
I summarise by repeating my three points. Firstly, cigarette manufacturers should be forced to declare the tar content of cigarettes. Secondly, I should like some information on the Nimmo Committee. Thirdly, can the Minister give me information relating to drugs prescribed for people who are receiving psychiatric treatment?
[5.27] - I am not able yet to reply to all the questions which have been asked of me but I can clear up a few of them. Senator Turnbull referred to a tablet container. As promised, I have discussed this matter with the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) but I regret to say that 1 have not yet received his reply. I hope to have it very shortly.
The second matter relates to cigarettes. Senator Turnbull has spoken about that matter in this chamber on more than one occasion and we have been indebted to him for his comments and very real concern. I only say to him that the Commonwealth Government considers it desirable that the health problem associated with smoking be approached in a positive way by the development of educational measures to inform the public properly of the hazards associated with smoking. The task of formulating and applying health education programmes is primarily the responsibility of the State governments. As I think both Senator Turnbull and Senator Ormonde have commented, at the 66th session of the National Health and Medical Research Council a number of recommendations were made relating to health education, warning labels on cigarette packets and so on. AH I can say to the honourable senators is that those recommendations were discussed generally at the Health Ministers conference in June 1968 and the Ministers agreed to give them detailed consideration with a view to proposing a uniform approach at their next conference. As honourable senators know, that was a conference of Federal and State Ministers for Health.
Senator Cavanagh referred to the great work being done to rehabilitate psychiatric cases. 1 appreciate very much the points he made. 1 know well the excellent work being done in South Australia and indeed in other States. 1 will bring the honourable senator’s comments to the Minister’s notice. Senator Ormonde also referred to cigarettes and I give to him the same reply as I gave to Senator Turnbull. Senator Ormonde also asked a question about the supply of drugs to persons who had been in mental hospitals. A range of drugs is available to such persons for the usual 50c prescription fee for:
– Is that well known to the public?
– I think it is known by medical practitioners and others treating patients. Senator Ormonde also asked whether a list of the drugs available for the 50c prescription fee could be made available. I have asked the Department whether such a list can be supplied and have been informed that it can. I will endeavour to obtain such a list for Senator Ormonde.
– Although 1 wish to raise other subjects, I will refer firstly to two matters that were replied to by the Minister. Firstly, the Minister read a reference to positive ways of preventing cancer of the lung. It was typical departmental gobbledygook. There are at least ten positive ways of preventing cancer and the Government has been informed of this by a committee that inquired into the cause and prevention of cancer. I have spoken on this matter before in this chamber and the Government has been informed of the positive ways by other sources, but it does not implement these recommendations. Would it not be positive action if the Government stopped cigarette advertising on television? Would it not be positive action if the Government labelled cigarettes as dangerous? But the Government does not take these positive steps because its Ministers have decided not to say anything. At the last conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers for Health that 1 attended - many years ago now - the Commonwealth refused to allow smoking to be discussed because it did nol want any adverse comments on smoking. This was a direction from the Commonwealth Minister for Health to his officers at that conference.
– Or was it the influence of the tobacco companies?
– 1 do not know, but they must influence somebody. I refer now to psychiatric drugs. These drugs are expensive. The Commonwealth Government has suddenly decided that general practitioners should not be permitted to prescribe psychiatric drugs. Apparently the Government believes that general practitioners have little knowledge of prescribing psychiatric drugs; that general practitioners do not know as much about psychiatric drugs as the Department of Health. The Government says: ‘The general practitioner has no brains and misuses drugs. Therefore we will stop him’. So, the Government stops him. General practitioners are allowed to prescribe penicillin and many other expensive drugs on the SOc list but not psychiatric drugs.
A two-class system is in operation in Australia. General practitioners can prescribe psychiatric drugs for pensioners and they are free. General practitioners can spend money like that day after day and it is in order. But if a private patient wants to get a psychiatric drug on the SOc list the general practitioners cannot prescribe it unless the patient has the original prescription from a mental institution. If the patient has been an inmate of, say, the Lindsay Millar Clinic or any other institution - they all have different names now so that we do not use the words ‘mental institution’ - the position is different. But the patient must have come from an institution where the psychiatrists rule the roost. If a psychiatrist in such an institution puts a patient on a psychiatric drug and then writes to the general practitioner and tells him what he has done, the general practitioner can, for a period of 3 months, prescribe this drug. But the patient is not considered at all.
Why should a general practitioner be able to prescribe psychiatric drugs for a pensioner but not for any other person? I suppose the view of the Department of Health is that the pensioner is getting old and will probably die anyway. What is the reason for the Department’s attitude? The Minister cannot answer this question. Why can she not give an answer? Every answer that she gives in regard to psychiatric drugs for the general public applies also to pensioners. Those who are not pensioners are naturally in a younger age group and need these drugs more. The Psychiatric Teachers Association has also given evidence that it is opposed to the Department’s restriction. I presume that the Government believes it is saving money by having a two-class system.
The only other matter I wish to discuss today is the dictatorial attitude of the Department of Health in regard to hospital and medical benefit funds. Time and again in the last few weeks we have read in the Press that health insurance organisations cannot do anything without the permission of the Department of Health, but when the Department is asked the reason why, it tries to squirm out of answering. These organisations are autonomous bodies and should be able to do what they like. But everyone knows that they cannot do what they like. The Commonwealth intervenes at the slightest indication that one of these organisations intends to provide better services or to give better benefits. The Department has some idea that it has to bolster the weak and to keep them all going. So, we must have 120 health insurance organisations and not let one go to the wall.
When an organisation tike the Hospital Contributions Fund of Australia wants to give better benefits it is not allowed to do so. Is the Government a free enterprise government or is it becoming completely Socialist? Does it not believe that there should be free enterprise? Does it not believe that these organisations can run their own business? If they cannot the Government should put them out of existence. But it does not. The Government says: ‘We want voluntary health insurance and we want the voluntary health bodies to run it’ and then clamps down on them so hard that they cannot lift a finger without first referring even the minutest detail to the Government for approval. Recently when an organisation wanted to give increased benefits - I am not sure whether they were medical or hospital benefits - it was refused permission. Why was this? Because the Department of Health wants to investigate everything. So, for another year or so the matter is delayed. It does not matter that the people of Australia will1 not be able to get the benefits to which they are entitled.
Money is being poured into reserves that are not necessary. The health insurance organisations do not want these large reserves and they are embarrassed by them. Why are they embarrassed? Because of the positive action of the Department of Health in ensuring that they have large reserves. What are honourable senators opposite doing about this situation? Why do they not do something? Why accept the opinion of the Department? Is the Department always right? Are there not people outside the Department who have more intelligence? Of course there are.
– A doctor is in charge, is he not?
– A doctor may be in charge. I do not want to go into personalities. The point is that there are people outside the Department who are at least as good as, if not better than, those in the Department and who have fresher, more intelligent ideas. The Department clamps down on everything. The Government says that it believes in free enterprise, but it is Socialist to the core when it comes to health insurance. The Government is depriving the people of Australia of their rights. The public is paying money into hospital benefit organisations but the Government will not allow the public to get that money back. An amount of $22m is held in reserve for hospital benefits and $50m for both hospital and medical1 benefits. Why are such large amounts held in reserve? We are told that there may be a catastrophe.
– An epidemic.
– An epidemic, yes. There will never be an epidemic to that extent even if an atomic bomb goes off and if one did 1 do not think anyone would be here to worry anyway. If there were an epidemic which required the use of $56m straight away, surely it would be a national disaster and would be treated as such. Surely the Federal Government would come to the aid of these organisations if they had to use all their funds? Surely the Federal Government would replenish these funds? The Government came to the aid of the funds in regard to the chronically ill and it could do so again in the event of an epidemic. I ask the Government not to continue to wait for positive action from the Department of Health because this wilt delay everything. I do not know when we can expect a decision from the Government, but I ask the Minister for Housing to raise this matter with other Ministers so that something can be done for the people who have put their money into insurance funds and are entitled to benefit.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [5.40] - Senator Ormonde referred to the Health Insurance Committee of Inquiry. Perhaps my reply to him will cover also some points raised by Senator Turnbull. This Committee, which is known as the Nimmo
Committee, was set up by the Federal Government. The honourable senator wanted to know where Mr Justice Nimmo is and what the Committee is doing. 1 inform him that Mr Justice Nimmo, Mr Mcintosh and the Secretary of the Committee, Mr Daniels, are currently in Canada examining the operation of the health scheme in that country. I believe that their visit to Canada will be valuable lo the inquiry which they are conducting.
– Why is it secret?
– I am telling the honourable senator where they are. There is no secret about them being there.
– But the evidence is secret.
– Perhaps I misunderstood Senator Ormonde; I thought he was suggesting that the whereabouts of the Committee was secret. The honourable senator will be aware that the Health Insurance Committee of Inquiry which was set up by the Government has extensive terms of reference. As they take up li pages of typescript I do not propose to read them to the Committee. They have been tabled in this place in the Director-General’s report and a Press statement on them has been made by the Minister. 1 believe that the Nimmo Committee is very important and shows clearly that the Government appreciates the need for an inquiry to be made into health insurance with a view to reviewing the health insurance scheme in Australia after its 16 years of operation.
Reference was made to the use of psychiatric drugs. 1 should like to make it clear, because I feel that there has been some misunderstanding, that pensioners can obtain psychiatric drugs without a certificate from the hospital. Non-pensioners require a certificate. I have read to the Committee the details of the conditions of eligibility for the drugs which appear in the book ‘Pharmaceutical Benefits’ published by the Department of Health. These conditions were determined as a result of a recommendation by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee. I think it important that in discussing this subject notice should be taken of that point. Senator Ormonde raised a point similar to that made by Senator Cavanagh in relation to the care of people who have been in psychiatric hospitals with mental illness. He referred to the excellent rehabilitation work that can be done. I say to him much as I said to Senator Cavanagh, that I shall ensure that the points raised by him are brought to the notice of the Minister.
– I refer to the matter last mentioned by the Minister. Reference has been made to the great work which has been done by the Department of Health in psychiatric cases. I should like to pose a particular question about the policy of Government departments in relation to people who have suffered breakdowns of this kind. Although it is true that much research and modern treatment is applied to persons suffering from mental conditions, the medical standards laid down by the Public Service Board to be applied in Government departments have not been altered. I have known of a number of cases in which people who have suffered from psychiatric conditions, diabetes or epilepsy have applied for positions in the Public Service but have been told that the jobs are not available to them because of the medical standards laid down in the Government’s regulations. 1 presume that these regulations are made in consultation with the Department of Health.
We have heard Senator Turnbull speaking about the new approach to mental sickness. I believe that the modern community has a different approach to illnesses of the kind that I have mentioned, but 1 am wondering what action the Government has taken, particularly through the Department of Health, to revise its standards which were established many years ago. Has any attempt been made to bring medical standards required of officers of the Public Service into line with modern acceptable standards? Can the Minister tell me whether consideration has been given to that subject? Will she tell me also what consultations are under way now between the Department of Health, the Department of Social Services and the Public Service Board with regard to an alteration of the standards for people who have suffered from these illnesses but have been rehabilitated?
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [8.0] - Before the suspension of the sitting Senator Bishop asked me a question concerning medical standards in the Public Service and the association, as I understood him, between sections of the Public Service Board and the Department of Health. Medical standards applicable to candidates seeking permanent employment in the Commonwealth Public Service are subject to continuous review by the authorities concerned. Amendments to standards are made from time to time as circumstances change. The Department of Health acts as adviser to the Public Service Board and the Superannuation Board. Specialist opinion is available both from within and from outside the Department on any matter where the need for such opinion is indicated. As recently as this morning officers of the Public Service Board, the Superannuation Board and the Department of Health met to discuss these standards.
– I wonder whether the Minister could find out - not necessarily tonight - the date of the last review of the medical standards. I understand from cases brought to my attention that the standards have been rather rigid, particularly in relation to the disabilities I have mentioned - psychiatric conditions, diabetes and epilepsy. The case of a particular applicant has been brought to my notice and the notice of a South Australian member of another place. It is the subject of representations. I wish to know whether the standards have been reviewed recently or whether the old standards that have been in existence for some years are still applicable.
Senator Dame ANNABELLE RANKIN (Queensland - Minister for Housing) [8.2] - I understand that the last amendment was made in November 1967. I do not have at hand the other information requested by the honourable senator. I will endeavour to get it for him.
Proposed expenditure and proposed provision noted.
Department of Social Services
Proposed expenditure $28,819,000.
Proposed provision $863,000.
– I will be very brief. My remarks relate to the appropriation for administration of the Department. I simply wish to have incorporated in Hansard a letter received by me from Mr N. J. Reams, honourable member for Bankstown in the New South Wales Parliament. It deals with an apparent anomaly in the treatment of superannuated railway employees. I will not elaborate on it. It is a matter that could have some relevance to the Department of Social Services and to the Treasury. During the debate on the estimates for the Treasury I obtained permission to have this letter incorporated in Hansard. With the concurrence of honourable senators I will again incorporate this letter in Hansard and the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) and the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) can unravel its complications at a later date: 1st October 1968
Senator J. A. Mulvihill, Federal Members Rooms, Commonwealth Bank Chambers, Martin Place, SYDNEY, N.S.W. 2000
Dear Senator Mulvihill,
I am writing on behalf of Mr Bertie W. Oprey of 13 Myrtle Road, Bankstown. 2200, who has drawn attention to an anomaly applying to Railway Superannuated employees.
As you know, for the purposes of taxation payments all railway superannuation is included as income and is taxable. This has an adverse effect on the eligibility of the superannuated railway employee to pay taxation. Railway Superannuation is considered to be exclusively the income of the retired employee and he must also show his wife as a dependant for taxation purposes. Conversely, when assessing the eligibility of the superannuated employee’s wife for a Social Services Pension the Railway Superannuation payments are considered to be equally shared by the husband and wife. This then has the effect of reducing t he amount of pension payable to the wife.
Mr Oprey points out that two departments are in conflict with each other whereas the Taxation Department regards the superannuation payments as income belonging to the husband, the Social Services Department regards superannuation as being shared equally by the wife. In each case this reacts to the advantage of the department and to the disadvantage of the citizen concerned.
I would appreciate it if you would make some representations to the appropriate Minister with a view to the same interpretation being given on this matter by both departments.
Proposed expenditure and proposed provision noted.
Department of National Development
Proposed expenditure $33,944,000.
Proposed provision $33,805,000.
– Again my remarks will be brief, and again they relate to the appropriation for administration. I wish to raise a matter for review. Earlier this year I referred to the personnel who comprise the National Materials Handling Advisory Committee. As the Minister is aware, new handling techniques have been evolved which affect waterside workers, storemen and packers, members of the Australian Railways Union, road transport workers and people engaged in similar occupations. A transition period is occurring. During the year I raised with the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) the question of trade union representation on the Committee and at that time the Minister was rather cool in his attitude.I wrote to the Australian Council of Trade Unions about the matter. On reflection I now submit that rivalry may be involved as to which trade union should have a representative appointed to the Committee. I have had informal discussions with several officers of the ACTU and I now believe that it is time to appoint a representative of the executive of the ACTU to the National Materials Handling Advisory Committee.
I think Senator Bishop will agree that if it is good enough for top ACTU officers to sit on the Immigration Planning Council and on a host of other government bodies, they should also be able to sit on such an important body as this Committee which deals with all types of handling techniques in industries which help to form the life blood of the nation. I ask the Minister to consider allowing a representative of the ACTU to represent trade unions on the Committee. I appreciate that the present members of the Committee are experts in their fields. Many of them are from prominent transport companies, but whatever way it is looked at, they represent the employers. From the angle of an even break the trade unions should be represented. No trade secrets are involved and the trade union movement, through the ACTU, should have representation.
Still dealing with the appropriation for administration, I refer now to the Bureau of Mineral Resources. This Minister will be aware that previously I have questioned the authenticity of certain bulletins. I refer particularly to Bulletin 72 which deals with limestone deposits in New South Wales. In the Minister’s last letter to me on this subject he hedged a little about the fact that a number of bodies had begun to quote the Bureau as an authoritative source. In the middle of the year he said that a survey had been made in the 1920s, not by officers of his Department. It could, in general, be regarded as a reliable private survey. After we exchanged several more letters the Minister adopted a stronger attitude which was more to my satisfaction. He more or less implied that the Bureau of Mineral Resources gave its blessing to the suitability of alternative limestone deposits in New South Wales.
The issue is far from settled. In fact, next weekend there will be a mass inspection of the Colong Caves region. Members of the inspection party will visit the Colong Caves in New South Wales. They will include representatives of scientific bodies, conservation groups, trade unions and other organisations interested to ensure that the water catchment there should remain free of mining activities. The reason I am ventilating this matter now is that I am again seeking an assurance that when the Bureau of Mineral Resources issues a publication - I particularly have in mind Bulletin 72 - any member of Parliament or any member of the community should be able to wave it in the faces of representatives of greedy mining interests and to say: ‘These are alternative sites that have the imprimatur of the appropriate Commonwealth Department.’
– I will not detain the Committee long with my remarks. The establishment of this Department was suggested by, I think, our present Governor-General when he was a Minister in the Government.
-(Senator Drake-Brockman).- Order! Is the honourable senator referring to a particular appropriation?
– I am referring to the appropriation for the administration of the Department. In my brief remarks I will deal with the estimates for this Department. When the idea of forming this Department was put forward by Lord Casey, who is the present Governor-General but who was then a Minister in the Government, all the people of Australia were thrilled with it. They were thrilled to think that the Commonwealth Government was taking an active interest in the development of our natural and national resources. I believe that the Department has done a great job. But I wonder whether it has slowed down. I know that the expenditure of money does not always indicate whether a department is being progressive, is relapsing or perhaps is being more efficient and is saving money. I have a feeling that this Department, which began with the great thought of national development and a Commonwealth department viewing the whole of the Australian scene and putting forward ideas for developing our natural resources, may have become tired. Perhaps it needs an infusion of new blood or a lead from the Parliament.
When we look at all of the items in these estimates we find that there is hardly any variation between the money asked for in respect of this financial year and that asked for in respect of last financial year. After studying the figures, one cannot help expressing the view that the Department may be growing tired. Perhaps it feels that it has run out of work. Perhaps it is content to carry on a day to day existence. However, I believe- I think all honourable senators will agree with me - that we are still in an era in which this Department should be doing amazingly important work for Australia. The Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott), who represents the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn), might be able to express his opinion on whether the money made available to this Department by the Parliament is sufficient to enable it to do its work. He may have every confidence that there is still life and enthusiasm in this Department, which was born as a result of a decision of this Government and which has done so much great work in years gone by. I hope he has.
– I refer to the appropriation for the River Murray Commission under Division 390. I wish to say a few words about the Chowilla Dam. This is not unexpected. I have the same impression as Senator Marriott has, namely, that the Department of National Development is treating great projects as matters of routine and not wilh the expedition that is expected in relation to great projects. In this chamber for many months members of the Opposition, including myself, and some honourable senators on the Government side have been trying to obtain positive answers about the construction of the Chowilla Dam. South Australian senators in particular have been doing this because they know that unless South Australia can be assured of sufficient water from the River Murray the whole of the industrial complex of the State will be in peril. The conventional way in which our inquiries have been considered by the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) and the Government leads me to believe that no proper or urgent consideration has been given to the project. In South Australia a special non-party committee has been set up to publicise the aims of the State in respect of the Chowilla Dam.
Let me state the specific questions that we have asked, so that the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott), who represents the Minister for National Development, may be able to answer them. In the first place, when the Labor Government was in office in South Australia the then Premier, Mr Dunstan, requested the holding of an urgent discussion between the State Premiers concerned and the Federal Minister to consider the whole question of the Chowilla Dam and the assurance of water supplies for South Australia. Since the defeat of the Labor Government, the present Liberal Premier, Mr Hall, has made the same request. In this chamber other senators and I have said: ‘What is wrong with holding a meeting of Ministers of the three States concerned and the Federal Minister in order to lift the question of the Chowilla Dam from the technical level?’ All that we have been told is that because it was discovered that the project would cost more than the first forecast it was decided to have new evaluations made. The South Australian representative on the River Murray Commission objected to that procedure. The technical evaluations are still proceeding. They have been going on for many months. I would like the Minister to tell me when the results of them will be made known to the Parliament.
In the meantime, in answer to questions the Minister referred other senators and me to a report that summarised the position regarding the Chowilla Dam up to the present time. The report was a statement of the investigations that had been made. As honourable senators may remember, it included a map which was many years old and which did not truly represent the reliance of South Australia on River Murray water. In fact, it misrepresented the position. lt is now many weeks since I asked the Minister whether he would have a new map printed and issued as an addendum to the report. We were referred to the report as being one of substance in relation to this issue. 1 would like to know from the Minister what has happened to the two propositions that were advanced by the Labor Government and the Liberal Government and supported by the committee that was set up in South Australia, with the object of lifting the question of the Chowilla Dam from the level of a purely routine matter of investigation. 1 could not agree more with Senator Marriott’s remarks about routine investigations.
South Australia is a newly developing State that is showing great potential in light and heavy engineering and the manufacture of light machinery. In fact it has become one of the most important producers of motor vehicles, lt is absolutely dependent on the Chowilla Dam. The suggestion is that if a dam is built on the Mitta Mitta River the project may be cheaper. I hope that Government senators will support me in this respect: We resent very much the fact that, over a period of 18 months or so. on three occasions the Minister for National Development has declared in public statements, without the results of the investigation being revealed, his opinion that the new site for the dam would be cheaper than and just as efficient as the Chowilla site. Yet the results of the investigation are not yet known, lt may seem to other senators that this is rather a parochial matter, but I ask them to realise the overall dependence of South Australia on River Murray water. For the overall developing complexes that we have not only in the metropolitan area but also in the country areas, such as Whyalla and other northern places, we have to have a guarantee that the Chowilla Dam will be built. As far as we are aware, the technical reports that were made many years ago by various specialists were good enough to warrant the construction of the dam, and the only factor that impeded its construction was the escalation of the price. 1 would like to know whether at this stage the Government will do what has been requested on many occasions, namely, call the Ministers of the States concerned into discussion with the Federal Minister without waiting until the technical report is released. I can see developing a situation in which the report may be released and, unless the people and Government of South Australia play a very active role, nothing will be done next year and the Commonwealth Government will still be saying: ‘We will find a cheaper substitute’, while South Australia and South Australian industries will go down the drain. I wonder why the Government and industries of South Australia have not been more militant on this matter. 1 would like the Minister, if he can, to answer the specific points that I have raised. In particular, I would like to know when the report will be made available and when the Government will do the very easy job that it promised to do at short notice, namely, to have a new map drawn and presented to the Senate to represent South Australia’s dependence on River Murray water.
– I relate my remarks to the same line as that to which Senator Bishop has just spoken. 1 commend him for his questions and the manner in which he has approached the matter of water conservation in South Australia. The name of the Department of National Development itself underlines the benefits to a whole nation which would flow from active development of the nation’s resources, and surely in Australia there is no resource - no mineral - more important than water. Wc have the ability and facility to store 5 million acre feet of water below the confluence of the Murray-Darling system at a site known as Chowilla at ,t time when water is being lost to the sea because of the lack of provision of a major storage of water at Chowilla. This most important resource that we have in Australia cannot be wasted. At the present time the annual allotment of water under the River Murray Waters Agreement in time of no restriction in South Australia is 1,250,000 acre feet. In the 6-year period from 1961-62 to 1966-67 the surplus of water over our allotment which has flowed out to sea has been as high as 8,500,000 acre feet in 1964-65 and 601,000 acre feet in the year of lowest flow, which was 1965-66.
– ls this all salt water?
– It is perfectly good water, the very life blood of South Australia not only in irrigation areas but also in industrial areas whether they be at Whyalla, Adelaide, Woomera or anywhere else in South Australia. This is a resource to be conserved to provide the basis for all development in the State, lt is not water of questionable quality as Senator Prowse suggests. We will be content with that which we will receive when we have that which we so urgently need - the Chowilla Dam. There is no site on the Murray system which would impound the volume of water which this particular site could impound.
– What percentage of the River Murray flow is South Australia entitled to?
– Three-thirteenths at the present time. Flow figures for last year are not yet available, I understand, but good water was flowing over the Goolwa barrages as late as early November of last year and the flow resumed in Tune of this year. It is estimated that this flow would have been sufficient to provide all of South Australia’s annual water entitlement. Instead, this had to be provided chiefly from up-river storages and will have to be so provided again this year. The lack of Chowilla has directly led to this position. I would emphasise that it is the only site along the River Murray system which can impound 5 million acre feet of water below the confluence of the two major rivers. Much has been said about an alternative site for a major dam along the River Murray, but the inescapable fact is that Chowilla, as no other’ site can, will hold surplus water coming down when the Murray and Darling systems are in flood. I would emphasise again that we cannot afford to lose water out to sea as we are now losing it.
– Do not the experts say that the salinity of the water cannot be coped with?
– The whole matter of the salt content of the water to be held in Chowilla was gone into most extensively and intensively by world authorities on the subject. Nothing was left to chance in respect of the quality of water which would be impounded in Chowilla. Lake Victoria has been in existence for 40 years and has been a source of very good water through those years. It has the same type of soil and (he same bottom for a dam as is found at Chowilla.
– But were the experts not afraid of the salinity of the water after the dam was constructed?
– The Chowilla project was accepted by four governments - those of Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia and the Commonwealth - after a full review of the reports in respect of salinity of the water. 1 wish to refer now to the catchment area of the Hume Reservoir, the area which is now being looked at very closely as an alternative site to Chowilla. I notice that in the last 9 years the monthly holding of water in the Hume Reservoir has exceeded or nearly exceeded the capacity of the dam only in 2 years. It is now at its full capacity of 2,480,000 acre feet. In 1964-65 the dam overflowed to the extent of 7,500 acre feet. The other year was 1966-67, when - to be generous - 2.466.000 acre feet of water was impounded. That is almost its capacity.
There on one occasion we have a complete filling of the dam and on another a bare filling, but in only those 2 years has the catchment which feeds the Hume Reservoir been sufficient to achieve this. How could another dam on the same catchment area be of any real benefit on the averages of flow and impounding indicated by the authentic figures I have before me? The Chowilla site will impound, as I say, no less than 5 million acre feet of water which will come down to it in the main from the Murray and Darling systems when those rivers are in flood. This water would otherwise flow out to sea and be lost. This is the important aspect of the scheme to the whole of South Australia, for rural industry, secondary industry, domestic requirements or general town use. We depend on a supply of water which at the present time is not with us. We have now reached the stage where future development of our rural in dustries is impossible because of water requirements. Similarly, our secondary industries are at the mercy of water supply at the present time.
In 1960 when Sir Thomas Playford originally sought consideration of the construction of this dam, he was advised by the Engineer-in-Chief of the Engineering and Water Supply Department, Mr Dridan, that by 1970 South Australia would be in such a situation so far as water supply was concerned that its future development would be at a critical stage. This is the situation which is about to face South Australia. That is why senators representing South Australia are so intent on ensuring that it will have this natural resource, water, conserved at the site agreed to in 1963 by the governments concerned. We regard the construction of Chowilla Dam as essential to South Australia, whether viewed from the angle of cost, the angle of water quality or the angle of need. My question is based on the appropriation this year for the contribution towards the expenses of the River Murray Commission. Last year expenditure under this heading totalled $8,000 and this year $11,000 has been allocated. I would like to know what the increase is to be used for.
– Before the Committee proceeds further I want to reply to some of the questions that have been asked. Firstly, in reply to Senator Mulvihill, the composition of the Federal Advisory Committee on Materials Handling is given at page 143 of the ‘Commonwealth Directory 1968’. I will bring to the attention of the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) the request made by the honourable senator for the inclusion on that Committee of a member representing the Australian Council of Trade Unions. Senator Marriott referred at some length to the administration of the Department of National Development. He said that the amount made available to the Department this year was about the same as that allocated last year and that it had remained more or less constant for many years. He asked why the Department did not need more money. The Department of National Development was established under Mr Casey, as he then was, in 1950. lt has done a marvellous job in developing Australia.
– It did nothing about the Burdekin Dam.
– We need not mention the Burdekin Dam at the present time. The Department takes in the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority and, naturally, it comes under the jurisdiction of the Minister for National Development. As all honourable senators know, the Authority has carried out the Snowy Mountains electricity and water conservation scheme which has become known as one of the greatest development projects in the Southern Hemisphere. The success of the Authority can be credited to the Minister for National Development and his Department.
Let us look at the various functions of the Department in relation to mineral development and oil exploration. The Bureau of Mineral Resources, Geology and Geophysics has done work in this field. Back in 1950 or 1951, the Bureau carried out oil exploration surveys and recommended to the Government through the Secretary of the Department and the Minister, that the Rough Range area should be drilled. As a result, in 1953 oil was found in that area. The Bureau has a proud record in oil exploration. Regarding minerals, it can readily be said that the Bureau and the Department have assisted large mining companies in their search for minerals in Australia. It is because of the assistance provided by the Department that Australia has been able to develop its mineral resources to the great extent that they have now been developed.
Referring now to water resources, the Government promised during the last election campaign that it would provide $50m over a 5-year period for the development of our water resources.
– Just because there was a Senate election.
– As the honourable senator would well know, the Government has already spent more than $20m. This is the kind of work being carried out by the Department. The Ord River scheme is another project and the Government has provided about $50m for it. There is the Nogoa River scheme in Queensland. If honourable senators want to examine more closely the work being done by the Department, they should consider what is being done to develop the north of Australia.
One project is the beef roads scheme. Millions of dollars have been spent on this work and thousands of miles of beef roads - many of them surfaced with bitumen - have been constructed. This is part of the work of the Department of National Development. We should thank the Government for setting up this Department and we should thank the departmental officers for the work they have carried out in the development of Australia.
Senator Bishop and Senator Laucke referred to the Chowilla Dam project which has been mentioned frequently in this place. Both honourable senators come from South Australia and they are anxious about litis project. They, and all Australians, for that matter, are anxious to see that South Australia gets an adequate supply of the best water that can be made available. The South Australians are adamant in stating that that water should be provided by means of the construction of the Chowilla Dam. 1 think all honourable senators should examine this proposition very closely. The original project put forward by the South Australian Government was for a dam to be constructed at Chowilla at a total cost of $28m. This was agreed to by the governments concerned. They were the Commonwealth Government and the governments of South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales. Each government was to provide one-quarter of the cost. Under the original scheme the Commonwealth was to lend the necessary finance to New South Wales to enable it to participate. However, before the scheme got under way, tenders were called and the River Murray Commission discovered that the project would cost $68m - an increase of $40m. The Commission then decided that a further examination should be made to determine whether any other site was available which would provide, at less cost, an equal amount of water for South Australia as the Chowilla project.
I think the River Murray Commission made a responsible decision. It must be remembered that South Australia is represented on the Commission. With the Commission’s consent, and at its direction, the construction of the Chowilla Dam was postponed until a further survey was made of other areas. The River Murray Commission has now asked the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority to carry out a survey on the Mitta Mitta River at Dartmouth, and the Snowy Mountains Authority has agreed to do this. It has been stated frequently in the Senate and in another place that the result of that survey will bc available to the Commission about the end of this year. No doubt the Commission will then decide on the best place to erect a dam to supply water to South Australia.
For the benefit of honourable senators, I now read the following paragraph from the Statement on Proposals for Further Storage on the River Murray’, which sets out the present position:
The recent decision of the Commission to suspend construction of the Chowilla Dam was in no sense an indication of any change in attitude on the need and the urgency with regard to improvement of the water supply situation in the River Murray. Rather it indicated that the Commission was determined lo plan the required works using the best available information, so that the adopted programme would be in the best interests of all concerned, and at least maintain the benefits expected to be derived by each of the Slates from the Chowilla proposal.
I have covered the points raised so far by honourable senators. No doubt we shall be having further discourses on this subject later.
– I wish to refer to a number of matters. I shall not be referring to the Chowilla Dam, but I shall be seeking information relating to the Burdekin and other dams in Queensland. I shall be referring to all items in Division 392. In Division 394 I propose asking some questions with relation to items 04, 06, 09 and 10 of subdivision 2. I shall require information also with relation to items 07 and 09 of subdivision 2 of Division 396 and I shall be seeking information on one minor matter covered by Division 398.
My first question relates to Division 392. I should like some details of how the money sought under items 01, 02 and 03 of subdivision 2 are to be expended. I come now to item 04 which relates to contract investigations. Last year, no appropriation was sought for this item. Nor was there any expenditure under this head. The appropriation sought for this year is $150,000. It is to be noted that this is one of the smallest, if not the smallest division within the Department and it is significant that, despite what the Minister representing the Minister for National Development (Senator Scott), said a moment ago about the tremendous sum being expended in northern development, very little is being sought for expenditure under this head this year.
Before proceeding with my next inquiry, I want to state publicly on behalf of the people in the Emerald area that they are not fascinated, overawed, thrilled, or excited at the change of the name of the Maraboon Dam to the Fairbairn Dam. This change has caused a tremendous amount of resentment amongst the people in the Division of Kennedy. It may be that the change is being made because the Government is endeavouring to get rid of the Country Party member for the area. Whatever the reason, the change represents very shabby treatment of the local people.
One argument used in favour of renaming the dam is that the Fairbairn family were pioneers of the area. I do not wish to be derogatory in a personal sense about this matter. It is true that the great grandfather or the grandfather of the present Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) did settle in that area, but when things got tough because of drought conditions, he went to greener fields. The Fairbairn family have not been seen there for many years. As against that, ‘Maraboon’ is an honoured Aboriginal name. It is a pretty name. It is the name that I shall always use when speaking of this dam and I know it is the name that will be used by many of the local people. They will never refer to the dam by the new name of Fairbairn.
I refer now to the Burdekin Dam. In the late 1940s an agreement was reached between the Commonwealth Government and the Queensland Government with relation to the development of the Burdekin area. But that is as far as the matter has gone. The Queensland Government will not get off its political bottom and do anything about it. Recently, in this chamber I asked what approaches the Queensland Government had made to the Commonwealth Government and was told that no particular representations had been made in relation to the construction of a dam in the Burdekin area. The building of a dam in this area is the only way of providing a long term water conservation scheme for the development of the industrial city of
Townsville and the rural activities of the surrounding area. Since that agreement was arrived at, a great number of very brilliant men associated with the development and completion of the Snowy Mountains scheme have been lost to us. Because of the shortsighted attitude of this Government, many of these men have gone outside Australia and it will be almost impossible to get them back. I should like from the Minister details of the proposed expenditure under all of the heads contained in Division 392. I am not the only one who is interested in where the little bit of money that is being sought under this Division is to be expended.
Coming to Division 394. I should like some information as lo how much of the money proposed to be expended under item 04. of subdivision 2 is returned to the Government by way of proceeds from sales. This item relates to map printing. The allocation last year was SI 00.000. The amount sought for this year is $100,000. ls any of this money recouped? Or does this sum represent an expenditure for which there is no return? Item 06 relates to the hire of aircraft for aerial surveys. There is a slight decrease in the amount sought for this year. I would have thought that in this area of development there would have been room for an increase in the allocation. Instead, 1 note that there is to be a slight decrease.
I come now to item 09 which relates lo contract mapping. The appropriation sought for this year represents an increase of $40,000 over the amount appropriated last year. The expenditure on this item last year was §536,180. The appropriation sought for this year is $640,000, which represents an increase of more than $100,000 over the amount expended last year. By whom ate these contracts carried out and what type of maps come under this head?
I come now to item 10 which relates to hydrographic surveys. Here again there has been a reduction in the amount sought. The actual expenditure on this item last year was $90,234. The appropriation sought for this year is $32,400. This is another field in which one would have thought an increase rather than a decrease would have been the order of the day. The Minister may be able to give some details on that.
I notice that in Division 396, which relates to the Bureau of Mineral Resources, an amount of S 1 1 m has been allocated for subsidy associated with the search for oil.
Will the Minister tell us to which companies and individuals the subsidy of $11,711,120 was paid last year? At the same time will he give some indication of how the allocation of $11m for this vear will bc disposed of? 1 turn now to that portion of Division 398 which relates to forestry scholarships - university fees and sustenance payments. Expenditure last year was $62,701 and the allocation for this year is $55,000. Why on earth the allocation for scholarships has not been increased is difficult to understand. Perhaps it is not difficult to understand in view of this Government’s lack of interest in education. The Minister may be able to tell us the reason for this reduction. The allocation of $12,000 for the purchase of seeds for sale represents a reduction of $3,000 on last year’s appropriation. Perhaps the amount has been reduced because only $10,0.16 was expended last year. Are these the seeds of eucalypts, pines or other softwoods? Where are they purchased? Where are they ultimately grown?
I note that $200,000 has been allocated for payment to the National Sirex Fund Trust Account for sirex wasp research and containment. What has been the total expenditure of Commonwealth funds on the eliminaton or control of the sirex wasp since the wasp was first located? How many areas of sirex wasp infestation have been found, and in which States? No doubt the expenditure on research associated with this matter would have some relation also to the approximate cost to the Australian timber industry. The Minister may be able to tell us what measures currently are being taken to prevent further infestation of the sirex wasp. I know from practical observation that the sirex wasp has caused a tremendous amount of damage to the Australian timber industry. I hope the Minister will be able to provide answers to the questions I have raised and detailed explanations of my queries in relation to Division 392.
– I direct my remarks to the Minister in a general sense, not by way of interrogation, and relate them to the summary of the activities of the Department of National Development which appears on page 62 of Appropriation Bill (No. 1). 1 do so mainly to direct attention to the fact that the activities of the Department are necessarily circumscribed by the fact that it is purely a Commonwealth department and that they fall, according to the description in the estimates of expenditure, within the fields of national mapping, mineral resources, forestry and timber, coal and atomic energy. Those delineations of function point rather to the limitations of this Department than to the area within which it might be expected to operate and within which it would be profitable for it to operate.
In Australia national development assumes particularly great significance because of the immense area that we have to develop, because of our small population and because of the vast natural resources which are now being disclosed for the information and wealth of this nation and of the world. But irrespective of whether we are approaching the exploitation of these resources, the question as to whether we are utilising in the best way and to the best advantage the economic, financial, physical and human resources at our disposal is another matter. Unless we can discover some alternative for a Commonwealth department such as the Department of National Development we never will be in the position of undertaking the development of this continent in the way and at the speed at which it should be developed.
We are faced with particularly difficult problems in Australia. First of all, there are the natural problems which I have delineated - the vast area of the continent, the wealth of natural deposits, the limitation of human resources and the limitation of capital resources to finance the economic contribution that must be made. In addition, of course, we have the limitations and difficulties associated with the fact that we are a federation. A further limitation is that under the Constitution the prime responsibility for the development of the nation rests with the States. There has been a divorce of financial power from the States, which have the responsibility, and a concentration in the hands of the Commonwealth that does not particularly have the responsibility. That creates a situation in which only by some system of patrimony or patronage is the central government able to enter into the general development of the nation. That is why we discover, in the list of activities of the Department, something which because of its sheer brevity is quite disappointing. It indicates the limit.ations imposed by circumstances, by law and by history on the ability of the Commonwealth to undertake national development in the general sense.
For some time the Australian Democratic Labor Party has been concerned about this situation. In the absence of some form of co-ordinated national development - not merely co-ordination when it has been undertaken to some degree but during the prior investigation and planning - we have come to the conclusion as a result of our investigations that very often there is no central plan of national development but rather that such development lies within the disposition of so many authorities - public, Commonwealth, State, semi-governmental - and private resources. In the absence of some system of planning and co-ordination we believe that it is impossible to get any proper approach to the question.
Governments are not immune from this attack or criticism, whether it be the Commonwealth Government or the State governments. Very often they grasp at the immediate and apparent opportunities which may be totally unrelated to the significance of some other proposition against the background of necessary national development. Very often, therefore, we have seen projects undertaken perhaps by States, perhaps under the patronage or patrimony of the Commonwealth, which in the overall picture, arc not projects which may have required or deserved the first order of priority. This is inseparable from the situation. In addition there is the intrusion of private investment which again may well come in and pluck at the current apparent opportunity and pour in sums of money and absorb Australian resources - again not to the best advantage of co-ordinated national development.
In these situations what are we to do? We have a Commonwealth department which is Iimited by law. We have State authorities which are circumscribed by financial developments under which they suffer, and are suffering increasingly, in the distribution of Commonwealth and State financial powers. We have also the casual and sporadic intrusion of private capital where and when it chooses with no coordinating body to advise us. What proposition can we put up in these circumstances?
Obviously the overall attention of the Commonwealth Government or of this Parliament has never been given to trying to bring into this maelstrom of competing authorities and interests some system of order or to determining some authority which may be able to establish some system of priorities. I feel that, above all, that is the responsibility of the Parliament at this stage of the development of the nation when the eyes of the world are on us from an investment point of view. We are now striking new problems in which national development must be co-ordinated with national defence.
The events of the Iast few days and the changing world situation that is pressing so heavily and urgently around us leads me to the conclusion that this nation can no longer be permitted to develop casually and unorganised. To defend it adequately and properly to the best of our ability will mean the mobilisation, deployment and utilisation of all resources at our disposal - human, physical and fiscal. No authority in Australia has the constitutional power to do that. The DLP suggests that there should be at least some co-ordinating national development authority which will draw into consideration - not casually or ad hoc - the best that the States and the municipalities have to offer, together with the great segment of private enterprise, with all the initiative and skill that it constantly brings to any questions involving the investigation, development and utilisation of resources.
The Democratic Labor Party, regarding this as a matter of very great import and trying to determine some substantial and positive approach to the question, arrived at certain conclusions during its recent federal conference. 1 trespass upon the time of the Senate to put some of these conclusions and suggestions before it. I will summarise them rather briefly. The DLP decided that the major factors which must be considered in a total programme of national development are the decentralisation of the population, the utilisation and exploitation of national resources, a programme of water conservation, power and transport, the re-employment of the displaced rural work force and adjustment of Australia’s production to changed patterns of marketing. Of course, inseparable from any properly co-ordinated national development plan is the need for a rapid and con tinuous population growth and the integration of all aspects of national development with defence planning. The DLP is of the opinion that there has been no attempt on a national scale to survey the problems of national development in the light of these components, which it believes must be taken into account. Therefore, the DLP proposes that as a matter of urgency a suitable authority be established to undertake this task.
The exact nature of this authority is a matter that will have to be determined. Its powers and mode of operation can only be established after close and intensive consideration and examination of the duties it will be called upon to perform. But in the investigation of these matters evidence must be taken and evalued. The body entrusted with this task must also be entrusted with the power necessary to enable it to discharge the responsibility of assembling the facts from which conclusions may be drawn. Therefore, the Democratic Labor Party believes that an Australian continent development authority should be created with the object of achieving a co-ordinated national development plan and with a view to undertaking a survey of the problem of development as a national question in all its aspects and with all its implications. Secondly, the DLP believes that a joint parliamentary committee or a Senate select committee should bc created immediately to consider the establishment of such an authority, its composition and powers, its relation to and functions in co-operation with State and regional authorities; to determine the extent to which national development and decentralisation are complementary subjects and the method by which national development can be orientated to encourage decentralisation.
The DLP submits that there must be- a positive and co-ordinated national approach to development. No authority is now entrusted with the necessary legal powers to do this, and those who have the powers do not have the means. The only way worthwhile results can be achieved is by the co-ordination of all authorities. As a result of the goodwill of the States and the Commonwealth we continuously see complementary or parallel legislation being put into operation to handle some situation. Examples of this are the off-shore oil legislation and the uniform company law. But those are adjustments which are made only when a certain situation has arisen. The permanent body I advocate would be able to anticipate and plan in the light of conflicting interests and attempt to coordinate the conflicting interests and resolve their differences. It would be a body to which the nation could look, not as an executive authority determining in an administrative way by means or regulations where development should take place, but as a co-ordinating authority examining and exploring all possibilities from State to State, from authority to authority and from private investment to private investment, to lay before the nation plans for the development of this continent consonant with our defence requirements. Then we would ultimately know that the nation was moving forward in a methodical and organised way and not in some casual and sporadic fashion in which we always would take the second best course. I wish to take the opportunity of thanking the Senate for its indulgence with me because 1 appreciate that this is normally an occasion when senators are asked to inquire about particular aspects of departmental administration. I do wish to indicate that in the overall approach to national development a bigger and broader view is needed. I think the moment has now arrived in Australia’s history when this must be looked at
– Firstly, I wish to explain the absence of the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott), who normally handles matters concerning the National Development portfolio in this chamber. He has been called away to a Cabinet meeting. I am standing in for him. A number of questions were asked by Senator Keeffe. One of Senator Keeffe’s attributes is that he has the ability to ask questions far quicker than the answers can be supplied. However, J have some answers for him. The answers may not be sufficient, but are the best we can do in the time available. If Senator Keeffe requires further information regarding the matters he has drawn to my attention I am quite sure that I will be able to supply him with that information in due course, although I may not be able to do so tonight. Senator Keeffe asked a question regarding hydrographic surveys. Provision is made for only those surveys that the Department is aware of. Extra funds are called up in supplementary estimates. The sale of maps and publications amounted to $103,000 last year.
Senator Keeffe also referred to the proposed expenditure of $150,000 on contract investigations. The Department will spend $150,000 on an investigation into Darwin port. The contract is held by Maunsell Partners. The result of the investigation is expected at the end of the year. Senator Keeffe also asked a question regarding university fees and sustenance payments for forestry scholarships. The proposed expenditure, which varies from year to year, generally supports about 40 to 45 scholarships. Variations arc caused in the expenditure by failures and allowances for the number of students living away from home.
The honourable senator asked about the sirex wasp. The expenditure under this head has been running at about $200,000 a year for 6 years and the total spent so far is $1,200,000. The States have contributed an equivalent amount. 1 have some additional information on this subject which might be of assistance. In 1968-69 the payment to the credit of the National Sirex Fund Trust Account for research into and containment of the sirex wasp was estimated to be $200,000. The appropriation was $200,000 and the expenditure was $199,980. This item provides for the Commonwealth contribution to match State contributions on a $1 for $1 basis up to $200,000 a year for work on the control of the sirex wasp. Contributions by industry are not matched by the Commonwealth. All contributions from the Commonwealth, the States and industry when received are paid to the credit of the National Sirex Fund Trust Account from which they are allocated by the National Sirex Committee for research and containment.
Research has been carried out by the Forest Research Institute, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and the Waite Agricultural Research Institute. Almost all the expenditure on containment is incurred by the Forestry Commission of Victoria which is endeavouring to prevent the spread of the sirex wasp towards the New South Wales and South Australian borders. The contributions expected to be received in 1968-69 from the State governments are as follows: New South Wales, $46,860; Victoria, $41,700; Queensland, $25,980; South Australia, $57,820; Western Australia, $18,840; and Tasmania, $8,960. This gives a total of $199,980. The Commonwealth matching contribution will be $199,980. It is estimated that $12,000 will come from industry, so the total amount available will be $411,960.
– Does this mean that the sirex wasp has been located in Queensland also?
– I have been told that the wasp has not been found in Queensland.
– This was part of my question.
– I have been told that the sirex wasp has not been found in Queensland so far. Let us hope that it does not get to Queensland. Senator Byrne made a fairly long statement-
– On DLP policy.
– The honourable senator is entitled to state the policy of his Party. The honourable senator suggested that the Commonwealth should do certain things. I believe that those things would be done if there were a complete mobilisation. Failing a complete mobilisation I do not think that some of the things that he suggested would be done. His suggestions covered a rather wide field. Some of the matters he mentioned have been attended to already. He referred to piecemeal national development. I suggest that this is not a correct description of what is being done in the way of national development. To some people it may appear that progress has been piecemeal, but I suggest that when one considers national development in its entirety one will feel that it was not a fair description. I am not suggesting that Senator Byrne was being caustic in his remarks about the Commonwealth. He wanted to see that more was done.
– More overall planning.
– Yes, overall planning is a good expression. As the honourable senator did not ask specific questions, all that I can do is refer his comments to the Minister for National Development who no doubt will provide an answer.
– I propose to refer to a few matters which come under this important heading of national development.
– Do not forget the Burdekin Dam.
– Perhaps I should say first that unlike my fellow senator from Queensland 1 will not need a computer to get the answers that I require. I propose to refer to some remarks made by Senator Keeffe who spoke about the Emerald scheme and to relate my remarks particularly to water resources research. For the benefit of honourable senators I mention first that the name Maraboon has been retained for the Emerald dam.
– I rise to order. I addressed questions to the Minister and I understand that it is his responsibility, rather than that of the honourable senator, to reply to the points that I raised.
– There is no substance in the point of order.
– Last Saturday week the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) inaugurated the Emerald irrigation scheme and although the dam is called the Fairbairn Dam the name Lake Maraboon has been retained. I was very surprised that an honourable senator from my State, one who claims to take so much interest in water conservation, was not present at the inauguration of the biggest dam ever constructed in Queensland.
– I did not get an invitation. 1 was told that I was not wanted.
– I did not get one either.
– Only Country Party and Liberal Party members were there.
Order! Honourable senators will address the Chair.
– I should like to mention that this scheme was obtained for Queensland partly through the foresight of the Queensland Government which had information and plans ready.
– What about telling me why I did not get an invitation.
– I did not get one either.
Order! No doubt the Minister will answer any of these interjections which call for an answer.
– 1 hope that when the next conservation scheme advanced by the Queensland Government is given priority the honourable senators from Queensland will get right behind the State Government and support it to the hilt. The vote for the current year for water resources research is $130,000 and there was no vote for previous years. I should like the Minister to tell me what the money will be spent on in view of the fact that there was no vote previously.
I refer also to the Division of National Mapping. A couple of weeks ago we saw a very comprehensive display in King’s Hall of the maps of various parts of the Commonwealth. The maps which were prepared by our Division of National Mapping were a credit to the Division, lt claimed that it had completed the preliminary mapping of the whole of Australia, but when I drew the attention of officers of the Division to the fact that two maps of Torres Strait were missing they acknowledged that that was so. Torres Strait is part of Australia and part of Queensland. I have been assured that that omission will be rectified. I believe that national mapping is bound up with the development of Australia, lt is only when, through mapping, we have a full understanding of all our resources that we are able to carry out full investigations, learn what is required and plan ahead. I commend the Division for the work it has done and hope to see further progress in the Division of National Mapping all over Australia.
– I propose to refer to the Bureau of Mineral Resources, the Joint Coa! Board, and the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. Before dealing with each of these organisations I should like to express my concern at the amount of money that has been allocated for this important Department of National Development, lt seems ironic to me that we are to spend this year about $34m on national development and about $ 1, 200m on the defence of what we are developing. I think we should try to reach a reasonable balance.
The Minister has just indicated that quite a deal has been done by the Government to develop Australia, but the facts do not measure up to that statement. He said that in the northern part of this continent a tremendous amount of development is taking place. He referred to the beef roads that are being built in the north, but it is tragic that the roads are being built in new areas which are controlled by foreign based companies - by absentee landlords who have no real interest in the land in the northern part of our continent. While we are pushing beef roads into the north we are leaving behind large areas that are only partially developed and in some cases are returning to desert through lack of water. Visitors to the middle western areas of Queensland during the warmer months of the year appreciate the necessity for development. We are moving like locusts across the land. We are wasting the land by axe and fire and we are not providing essential water.
I think it is the task of the Department of National Development to initiate plans for the development of those areas. As other honourable senators have indicated, the need for development is urgent in South Australia and Western Australia. I emphasise that the need is also very great in Queensland. I believe that the Department of National Development should have carried out feasibility studies for the harvesting of water in the north where the flow of tremendous rivers runs wastefully into the sea. Yet an amount of only about $34m is to be spent on all the activities of the Department.
The planning is necessary now of schemes which may not come to fruition for another half a century. The planning of water catchment areas ought to be done now by the Department of National Development, lt is tragic that the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Authority has been virtually disbanded and is to act now only on a consultative basis. It seems to me that it is being used for consultative purposes by overseas countries whereas its efforts should be concentrated in Australia.
I turn now to Division 400 - Joint Coal Board. 1 think it is necessary for the Department of National Development to gauge our mineral resources, particularly coal. I ask the Minister whether anything is being done to protect our resources.
– To protect them from what?
– From faulty exploitation - from too rapid export to other countries. The point J wish to make is that Japan is closing down its coal mines to conserve its coal resources. Japanese interests can pick up in Australia for practically nothing the coal they need. We will need that coal in the future. Overseas experts have indicated that we must protect our mineral resources and I suggest that the Department of National Development is the appropriate body to gauge our resources and to devise methods of protecting them. It is of no use giving our minerals away, especially the minerals necessary for the production of atomic energy. In this respect my remarks are related to the appropriation for the Australian Atomic Energy Commission in Division 402. Those vital minerals ought not to be exported overseas. Japan can see the wisdom of conserving its mineral resources and I suggest that we should do likewise.
In Division 402 an amount of almost Si Om is provided for the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. A study of the report for 1967-68 of the Commission shows that in its activities the emphasis is on investigating overseas experiments. Reference is made to the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and to research carried out for various private companies. The report states that exploration is being carried out for uranium at Rum Jungle in the Northern Territory by Territory Enterprises Pty Ltd. The names of several other companies are mentioned in the report. I wish to know how much research is being carried out by the Bureau of Mineral Resources on leases controlled by private firms and how much the Bureau is receiving in return for supplying expert advice. How often do our surveyors and explorers find mineral deposits? How often is that information passed on to private enterprise for exploitation? What does the Bureau receive in return? While T am speaking on the subject of surveys of mineral resources-
Order! ls the honourable senator still relating his remarks to Division 402 or has he moved on to another division?
– My remarks are related to Division 402 - Australian Atomic Energy Commission. I have asked what surveys are carried out by the Bureau of Mineral Resources and I have connected other remarks to that point. I want to find out just how much the Bureau does for private enterprise; how much it spends; what services it gives to private companies; and how much it receives in return. While I am speaking on this subject I think I. should emphasise that the Bureau of Mineral Resources is carrying out a vital programme in Australia, but it seems that it is handicapped by a shortage of geologists. This was pointed out by Mr Ivan Newnham, head of the Division of Mineral Chemistry of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. He has said that there is a drastic shortage of geologists.
– I do not wish to inhibit the honourable senator, but initially he said that he was addressing himself to Division 402. Now he has moved on to another area. I ask him to indicate exactly to which appropriation he is addressing his remarks.
– I am addressing my remarks to Division 396 - Bureau of Mineral Resources. The matter to which I refer relates both to Division 396 and Division 402, but Division 396 covers my remarks at the moment. A shortage of geologists in Australia is steadily handicapping the efforts of the Bureau to carry out research. Even if the Bureau had the money, it could not obtain the geologists. Mr Newnham said that the Commonwealth Statistician reported 2 years ago that about 2,200 men were looking for minerals in this vast continent. He indicated that a nation of an area about equivalent to that of mainland Australia - the United States of America - employs about 20,000 geologists. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, with an area about three times that of Australia, employs about 90,000 geologists.
He went on to say that in 1966-67 only 91 geologists graduated from Australian colleges and universities while vacancies in industry and in government departments totalled 293. Is the Minister prepared to assist the Bureau of Mineral Resources by the allocation of special grants and scholarships to universities so that the desperate lack of geologists can be corrected? I wish to speak on other matters but at this stage I will allow other honourable senators to speak.
– Senator Keeffe reminded me that he asked a question regarding the Burdekin River scheme which I had not answered. The information that I have is that the Commonwealth has agreed to a request by Queensland to undertake a joint investigation of the Burdekin River scheme on the basis that the nature and timing of the investigation will be decided after the present joint Commonwealth-State investigation of the Bowen-Broken River area is completed. Senator Lawrie asked a question about water resources research. He wanted to know why there was no appropriation for this item under division 867 last year. The answer is that this is a new policy item and that there was no appropriation or expenditure on it in 1967-68.
asked a number of questions. First of all he mentioned beef roads. I disagree very emphatically with him when he questions the value of the beef roads that have been put into operation in the last 7 years. The cost of them amounts to about $42m. do not agree with him when he says that they have been built only to provide facilities for overseas companies. That is not so. They have been a very great factor in opening up large areas of Australia. T am very pleased to be able to tell him that the programme is for an expenditure of $7m over the next 7 years. He asked a question about coal resources. I can understand his concern about whether Australia may be depleting its coal resources. 1 assure him that this is not considered to be an immediate danger, or a danger at all as far as can be foreseen. A survey of our coal resources is being carried out all the time by the Bureau of Mineral Resources and the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. One has only to read the newspapers to see that almost monthly, if not more frequently than that, we are finding that we have more and more of these resources. I am informed that New South Wales has about 3,000 million tons of recoverable reserves and that Queensland has about 1,200 million tons. T have not the figures for the other Slates. Senator Georges wanted to know whether I would give an undertaking that the Government would do something to have more trained scientific personnel coming from our universities. I am not in a position to do that, but 1 am quite sure that this matter is being considered and that whatever can be done in this connection is being done.
– I refer to the appropriation for the hire of aircraft for aerial surveys under Division 394. I ask the Minister for a breakup of the appropriation of Si 70,000. I note that the appropriation has remained fairly constant as between last year and this year. There is also an appropriation for survey and mapping work carried out by States. 1 presume that that is either a subsidy or a repayment of costs incurred by States.
I refer now to the subsidy for the search for oil under Division 396. I have looked through the pages of the Estimates and the various details and references, but I cannot find any reference to any Commonwealth subsidy for the search for minerals. South Australia has not resources as great as those of some of the other States. At least, they have not been found; we hope that they are there somewhere. A lol of work has been done by the Mines Department over the years both in the search for minerals and in the search for oil and gas. A colossal amount of money has been spent out of Stale funds. All of us must agree that, irrespective of the State in which minerals are found, they are a national gain and a national benefit. 1 notice that Slim is being appropriated for subsidies for the search for oil. I ask, firstly, whether South Australia is alone in working through its Mines Department in the search for minerals as well as for oil and gas, or whether other States follow the same pattern. Secondly, do any of the Slates receive from the Commonwealth Government any assistance at all for exploration, be it for oil, gas or minerals?
– I refer to the contribution towards the expenses of the River Murray Commission under Division 390. I refer particularly to the matter to which Senators Bishop and Laucke referred, namely, the Chowilla Dam. lt has now become apparent that South Australia needs two great things: Firstly it needs water and secondly it needs the Chowilla Dam. There may be some misunderstanding on this question. Everyone must agree that South Australia is the driest State in the Commonwealth. Therefore water is the commodity that it needs if it is to develop further. At present it relies on the River Murray whenever there is a lack of water. In times when water is plentiful, it must be stored in sufficient quantities to make provision for a flow down the river when water is scarce. Therefore the River Murray must be damned at some location in order to store water that will be allowed to flow down the river, when necessary, for the irrigation of existing and future plantations along the river. It has been submitted that the construction of the Chowilla Dam is the solution of this whole problem. The Commonwealth is now inquiring into whether a dam could be constructed at a more suitable site at a cheaper cost.
During the campaign for the construction of the Chowilla Dam I received two letters from two different branches of the United Farmers and Graziers of South Australia. They were signed by Mr T. C. Stott, who happens to be the independent Speaker of the House of Assembly of South Australia. He has the casting vote that keeps the Steele Hall Government in power, although it received a minority vote in the last election.
– I thought the honourable senator was dealing with water.
– The honourable senator may go to water before this matter is finished. I received from the United Farmers and Graziers two letters which were signed by Mr Stott, the General Secretary of the Association, and which asked whether I would do something to get the Commonwealth to honour its agreement to build the Chowilla Dam. I immediately replied that I was prepared to do something about it, that under the 1963 legislation of this Parliament the Commonwealth was compelled to contribute to the cost of building the Chowilla Dam, and that upon his invitation I was prepared to move at the next session of the Senate that the Commonwealth honour its obligation to proceed with its part in the building of Chowilla. I then received from the Premier’s Department of South Australia a pamphlet headed The Fourteen Facts about Chowilla’, which shows the value of the project and refers to the agreement of the Commonwealth in 1963, in conjunction with the other States, to proceed with it. The pam phlet gives only a very brief summary of the facts and ends on this note:
Should you wish to know more details, please write to the Premier of South Australia, Box 1008J, G.P.O. Adelaide, S.A. 5001.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMANLet me interrupt for a moment. You have moved from the provision for a contribution towards the expenses of the River Murray Commission, as provided in Division 390, to a provision under Division 865 for expenditure under the River Murray Waters Act, which comes under the control of the Department of National Development.
– I appreciate your correcting me, Mr Temporary Chairman. I have moved from Division 390. If you follow me on the divisions to which I am speaking, you can name them and 1 shall carry on.
On the contrary, you will follow my directions, not I follow yours.
– With the greatest respect, I am doing that. I acknowledge your knowledge of this matter, and I have moved from a particular division to another. The Premier of the State, who must have some interest in this question, has given fourteen facts in this quite attractive brochure. Some of these statements are said by the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) to be inaccurate. In May 1 wrote to the Premier’s Department and said that I wanted more facts because 1 was under an obligation to the United Farmers and Graziers Association of South Australia to bring this matter up in the Senate during the next session, that I did not know the value of the Chowilla site in comparison with that of any other site, but that if he armed me with the facts that he could supply we would simply slaughter this Government in the Senate, that subject to the Liberal senators from South Australia honouring their undertaking to support the Premier in relation to Chowilla we could defeat the Government and ensure that the agreement was carried out.
– That was a good point.
– I think it is a good point. I waited for 6 weeks but received no acknowledgment of the letter. I went to the member for Glenelg in the
State Parliament, Mr Hugh Hudson. 1 said that 1 was anxious to do something for South Australia, that 1 did not want to engage in propaganda as to whether we needed Chowilla, but if we needed it I was anxious to do something. 1 pointed out that the Premier, who appeared from his brochure to be anxious to do something, was not prepared to supply me with the facts because it might embarrass the Liberal senators from South Australia. If I asked the Government to honour its obligation and moved accordingly, they would have to support the motion if they supported the Premier of South Australia. Hugh Hudson asked in the South Australian House of Assembly why I had not been supplied with the facts for which I had asked and for which I had been invited to ask in this pamphlet. The Premier was very apologetic. He said that he had been overseas and had not prepared the further information, but that he was preparing further information to supply to me and to others who had asked for it. The question was asked on 6th June. It referred to the fact that I was seeking further information to propose a motion in this chamber that the Government honour its obligation to South Australia in accordance with the law.
– You have not given notice of any such motion.
– 1 am still’ waiting for the further information. The Premier has not as yet seen fit to give me this further information that would permit me as a representative of South Australia to endeavour to do something for that State. In the meantime Mr Stott, who asked me to take action, has formed a committee in South Australia to carry on propaganda in favour of Chowilla. We now have in force in the three States concerned and in the Commonwealth legislation not on the cost of construction of Chowilla but on the manner in which the cost would be distributed. If a motion were carried we cont’d compel the implementation of this legislation. 1 wrote to my Leader, who replied that he thought it would be a good idea to do this in the Senate and, subject to support by the South Australian Liberal senators, we would have it carried. Here is someone who is anxious, on the invitation of the United Farmers and Graziers Association, to do something for South Australia. Senator Laucke and the other Liberal senators from South Australia like to have a foreign enemy that will not help this persecuted State, but they do not want justice enforced in relation to Chowilla. Having invited a request for more information, the Premier of South Australia denies me the information to proceed on the basis that there is a case. Whether or not there is a case, I do not know. He says that he has information and that there is a case. I say that if there is a case, as representative of the State 1 am prepared to do something about it, and I ask him to give me the information. In the meantime a committee has been organised in South Australia to propagate the case for the construction of Chowilla Dam.
– Are you on the committee?
– If there is a case for Chowilla, I want Chowilla to be constructed. I do not want to engage in propaganda, saying that we want a dam constructed there but there is a foreign enemy in Canberra that will not give us the dam. This is the hottest political question that has ever arisen. Mr Hall and his Liberal Government in South Australia are not concerned with Chowilla. They are concerned with having a grievance for the sole purpose of directing the limelight away from their own inability. They say: ‘Here is something that is for the benefit of the State but we cannot do anything about it because of the attitude of the other States and the Commonwealth’. We are now prepared to try to do something.
When this matter was last before the River Murray Commission under the Dunstan Government, as the Minister said, the South Australian representative agreed to its adjournment because he would have been defeated. He received final instructions from the Dunstan Government not to agree to any further adjournments on this question because the Government thought there was a case for Chowilla. If there could not be agreement - as there would not be - under the terms of the River Murray Waters Agreement the matter would be submitted to arbitration, in which a judge of the Supreme Court of Tasmania would be arbitrator of whether or not the construction of Chowilla Dam should proceed. With the replacement - not defeat - of the
Dunstan Government by the Hall Government there was an alteration in the instructions to the South Australian delegation, which agreed to the further investigation of some other site for the purpose of avoiding the arbitration to which the Dunstan Government was prepared to submit the scheme.
If there is a case for Chowilla then the question has to be decided not by me or by anyone other than the experts. The Dunstan Government considered there was a case for Chowilla and was prepared to submit that case to arbitration. Senator Young is interjecting but I submit he has not been in this place long enough to get deeply involved in this ‘filthy’ thing called the Chowilla project. He has kept himself occupied with containerisation or something else. Senators Davidson, Laucke and Laught think that the Chowilla project is something we should champion in South Australia and not accept the responsibility of ensuring that the agitation is felt in Canberra. We on this side are doing our best. Look at the questions we have asked about this project and the answers we have received from the Minister. I have made every effort to line up opposition. The Commonwealth should honour its obligation to the Chowilla project We can get approval for the project in this chamber. Honourable senators representing South Australia have an obligation to represent their State rather than the political party to which they belong.
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– I think at this stage I should answer a few of the questions that have been asked. I will deal first with the matter raised by Senator Cavanagh. I hope he is listening to me. I am sure he has heard of Mary Queen of Scots. It was said of her that when she died the people would find that ‘Calais’ was written on her heart. In the long term - and I hope it will be a long term - when the honourable senator expires I think we will find the word ‘Chowilla’ written on his heart.
– I do not have a heart.
– I think you do. I think the word also will be found written on the hearts of other honourable senators representing South Australia. If I have heard one question asked in this place in the last 2 years about Chowilla Dam I think I must have heard 200.
– We have not heard the answers.
– The honourable senator is not from South Australia and should be quiet for a moment. I recognise that honourable senators representing South Australia are setting out to do what they believe should be done in the best interests of their State. I am not going to enter into this argument because Senator Scott, representing the Minister for National Development, has answered scores of questions about the Chowilla project. He has given the reasons, time and time again, why action has not been taken along the lines that South Australian senators would like. 1 must say that I am solidly behind what the Minister said.
Senator Keeffe mentioned that he had not received answers to his questions about survey and mapping work carried out by the States for the Division of National Mapping. I pointed out to him that it was not possible to provide quickly answers to some of the questions he asked. I sent some answers to him. However, I have additional information for him. He asked about the provision for the hire of aircraft for aerial surveys. Senator Young also asked questions about this appropriation. The information I have is that provision is made under this item for the cost of the charter of aircraft, both fixed wing aircraft and helicopters, for photography for the production and revision of maps, for survey reconnaissance for the location of, and for checking, the intervisibility of sites for trigonometrical stations, for radio altimeter heightening, for barometric heightening by helicopter, and for taking measurements with airborne electronic equipment. This item is treated on a programme basis and estimated expenditure in 1968-69 has been calculated as follows: Liabilities brought forward from 1st July 1968, $120,095; new contracts to be awarded in 1968-69, $398,150. The total sum for the 1968-69 programme is $518,245. The amount of liabilities carried forward to 30th June 1969 totals $348,245 and the total expenditure for this financial year is to be $170,000.
The provision this year for survey and mapping work carried out by the States is $100,000. This item provides for payments to the States for survey and mapping work, carried out as part of their normal functions, which is of value to the Commonwealth and conforms to required standards. The contribution amounts to about 15% of the cost of the work and reduces the Commonwealth’s ultimate expenditure in the same field. Based on the States’ programme for 1968-69 it is estimated that the Commonwealth payments will total about $100,000. A special levelling co-ordination project which was being carried out at the request of the Commonwealth by the Queensland Government was concluded in 1967-68. This accounts for the reduction in estimated expenditure in 1968-69. Senator Young asked whether help is being given to the States by the Bureau of Mineral Resources. The position is that the Bureau has extensive co-operative programmes with Queensland and Western Australia as well as smaller programmes with other States.
– My colleague Senator Georges from Queensland has turned the searchlight on the Bureau of Mineral Resources. 1 want to raise a number of questions relating to the appropriation for the administrative expenses of the Bureau. For a number of years the high rate of staff turnover in the Bureau has been a matter of considerable concern. It was the subject of an urgency debate in another place early in 1967. There has been a considerable number of resignations of professional scientific personnel - that is to say, geologists, geophysicists, geochemists and petroleum technologists - during the last 8 financial years to the end of March 1968. 1 have the yearly figures but I do not propose to go into them in detail except to say that the high water mark was reached in 1964-65 when there were 34 resignations. Since July 1960 no fewer than 167 scientists have resigned from the Bureau. There now is a total of 210 scientists in the Bureau, according to my information, and currently there are 46 vacancies. The number of vacancies has remained substantially constant for a number of years. In the 8-year period the staff turnover represents approximately 80% of the total scientific staff.
Recruiting has taken place during this period but has never caught up and, in terms of aggregate experience, has fallen far behind. On 19th October 1965, the Minister stated in answer to a question that there were 41 professional vacancies for scientists of the type already mentioned. On 19th May 1967- about 18 months laterhe stated that as at 1st January there were 44 such vacancies. As at 10th September 1968 - a couple of months ago - there were 46 such vacancies. As I understand it, there is a staff ceiling which in 1965. was 20 below the approved establishment. This has the effect of making the number of vacancies appear smaller than it is in fact. The Minister avoided - if that is the correct expression - answering a question from the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) on 10th September 1968 about the present size of the staff ceiling and the reasons for its existence. It seems likely therefore, that the present figure of 46 vacancies has been artificially reduced by the application of the staff ceiling.
Over the 8-year period I have mentioned, scientists who have resigned from the Bureau had, in aggregate at the time of their resignation, 1,618 man years experience since graduation. That is a lot of experience. During that same period recruitment of scientists to the Bureau brought in persons who, in aggregate at the time of appointment, had only about half that number of years of experience. They had 869 man years of experience. In other words, 54% or roughly half of that body of experience was lost. The Bureau is onefifth below its approved strength of scientists. Eighty per cent of its scientists have been replaced at some stage during the last 8 years, and in the process of replacement of this 80%, the fund of experience available to the Bureau has fallen by 50%. It does not need any more than that indication of the statistical basis of the staff problem to establish a very damning indictment of the Government’s mis-management of this body which is so essential to Australia’s future development. Whether it stems from bureaucratic problems or from organisational structure or inadequate salary scales, the point is that there is a serious problem to bc given attention here. My purpose in rising is to remind honourable senators of the statistical basis of the position so far as it affects the Bureau and to inquire whether we can look forward to some remedial action in the not too distant future.
One is pressed to make this point because of the apparently serious shortage of geologists in Australia, to which attention has been drawn within the last few days by Mr Newnham, head of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s Division of Mineral Chemistry, who was mentioned by my colleague, Senator Georges. Mr Newnham drew attention to some very critical questions of shortage. He said that the census committee of the Geological Society of Australia reports a total strength of about 1,300, that the United States, with an area equivalent in size to that of mainland Australia, employs 20,000 geologists and that the Soviet Union, whose territories occupy less than three times the area of Australia, has 90,000. He went on to say that faced with its immensity and the crippling shortage of vital geological staff, Australia had to produce more prospectors and geologists. He also said that the first step obviously was to place much greater emphasis on geology in both the secondary and tertiary educational systems.
One could go on and deal at length with the thesis that Mr Newnham advanced, but 1 am concerned only to see that in the light of the apparently critical shortage of geologists which Australia faces we have a policy which is going to result in some straightening out of the recruitment position in the Bureau of Mineral Resources. I think we all appreciate the tremendous importance of the contribution made by the Bureau, a publicly subsidised facility. I think we realise the tremendous potential that there is in this Bureau to operate in the interests of Australia in the widest possible sense, but I think there is room for substantial concern as to whether the Bureau is able to retain the services of men of talent and experience.
The Australian Labor Party has long had a policy which involves the utilisation of the resources of this Bureau in the national interests. We believe in geological research and survey, whether it be carried out by the Bureau or any such organisation as the CSIRO or other similar statutory institution. We believe in the establishment within the Department of National Development of divisions dealing with the scientific assessment and utilisation of natural resources. We believe in a natural resources council to assist the Minister for
National Development in formulating a policy for the scientific development of natural resources. We believe in cooperation with the States for the comprehensive development, under government control, of Australia’s mineral resources, with emphasis on the need for the discovery of new deposits. Those are part of the established pattern of the Australian Labor Party’s thinking on these matters. I venture to say that there is no doubt that, had there been a Labor Government in power in recent years-
– God forbid
– I thought I heard an interjection, but I must have heard a ghost because the Minister has been so silent and attentive. I was saying that, had there been, with great benefit to this country, a Labor Government in office in recent years, the Bureau of Mineral Resources would have become world renowned as the most effective State operated agency in the western world concerned with the discovery of new mineral resources. I do not think that is an exaggeration.
– But it is wishful thinking.
– I think it is proper Australian thinking. I can see no difficulty in envisaging that this country could have an instrumentality under public control which would make the type of contribution we make to the discovery and development of mineral and other resources in Australia the envy of the civilised world. We have the potential; we have the raw resources. All we need is a little initiative and a little bit of Government policy which would set us on the way to realising these great objectives. 1 am indebted to Senator Prowse for offering me the opportunity to say a little bit more than I intended to say. He is a very inadequate forward who does not seize the opportunity when he finds himself in front of goal with a free kick. I appreciate what has been offered to me by Senator Prowse and I want to say that we on the Opposition side of this Parliament believe that nothing is more important than the development of our natural resources.
When you have created such an instrumentality to carry out the Government’s responsibilities in this great problem, it should not be held back. It should not be constantly labouring under a recruitment problem. It should not be constantly feeling that it is losing men who want to stay with the service but who, somehow or other, are tempted into other work because the opportunities are not there for them.
J raise this point to support generally what has been said by my colleague Senator Georges. This Bureau of Mineral Resources is something that can be developed into an instrumentality of great potential to this country, but 1 feel, somehow, that we are lacking in policy direction and the sooner we get that the sooner we will have an instrumentality which can play a most useful part in the development of our great natural resources.
– I refer again to item 01 of subdivision 3 of Division 396. When the Minister answered my earlier query he stated that the Bureau of Mineral Resources was helping both Queensland and Western Australia. I ask again why a State like South Australia, which is spending thousands of dollars a year in the search for minerals, oil and gas - national resources and national assets when they are found - is not receiving Commonwealth assistance. The South Australian Department of Mines is doing a great amount of work, including drilling. Two States of the Commonwealth are being subsidised but South Australia, which is spending a lot of its own money in the development not only of the State but of Australia as a whole, receives nothing. Why is South Australia not receiving a subsidy?
– I direct my remarks to Division 390- Administrative - and refer particularly to the proposed phasing out of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority and the attempt by the Cooma Municipal Council to establish an industry to cater for the needs, the wants and the requirements of the municipality and the residents thereof and to replace that great national asset - the Snowy Mountains Authority - which the Government has decided to disband upon completion of its existing works. Frankly, 1 am amazed at the attitude that has been adopted by the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) and his Department; it is against the interests of the people of the municipality of Cooma and those who reside within the southern portion of New South Wales.
As Senator Scott, who is at the table, well knows, the Government decided that when the Snowy Mountains Authority completes its current works - I think in 1972 - it will be declared redundant. Between now and then the Authority will be phased out of existence. The local government authorities in the municipality of Cooma have been at their wits end to find some way of replacing the existing Authority with other services which will cater for the needs, the wants and the requirements of this great section of New South Wales. To their credit, the local government authorities, the local newspaper proprietors, officials of the Australian Labor Party in the town and other residents have attempted to make up the difference between what exists now and what will exist in 1972 as a result of the Government’s decision to disband the Authority.
The Cooma Municipal Council, in an attempt to fill the vacuum, approached the New South Wales Government and the Commonwealth Government. In addition the Mayor of Cooma approached the Fiat company to establish an industry within the municipality. The New South Wales Government gave its imprimatur to the establishment of a motor industry in the southern area of New South Wales to fill the vacuum that is being created by the Commonwealth Government’s policy, but the fact remains that the people of Cooma are being completely neglected and overlooked by the Minister For National Development.
Let me recite some of the facts. As I have said, the Mayor of Cooma approached the Fiat organisation in an attempt to interest it in the production of Fiat cars in the southern area of New South Wales. The Mayor then approached the New South Wales Government which in turn approached the Minister for National Development in this Parliament. The Mayor also approached me and on 30th August last, as a result of those representations, 1 approached the Minister for National Development by way of correspondence. I said in part:
The Mayor of Cooma - advises me that the State Government-
That is the New South Wales Government - has assured him that it will support the venture-
That is the movement of the Fiat organisation into the Cooma area - by undertaking to purchase the Polo Flat area-
An area under the control of the Snowy Mountains Authority - which will nol be required by the Snowy Mountains Authority and then make the land and buildings thereon available lo a large industrial undertaking.
I also understand that the New South Wales Government has indicated that it is prepared to purchase surplus Authority housing and make such homes available on a low rental basis to employees of industrial undertakings.
Having regard to that letter of 30th August forwarded to the Minister for National Development, in which an undertaking was given on behalf of the New South Wales Government that it was prepared to purchase land and housing under the control of the Authority for the use of a proposed local industrial establishment in the Cooma area, I was amazed to find in the ‘CoomaMonaro Express’ of Friday, 1st November, that the Minister for National Development was reported as saying:
Until there is a formal approach from a prospective buyer with firm proposals as to price and conditions, we cannot even begin to negotiate. If there is a firm proposal 1 would bc delighted to hear of it, as would the Authority.
As I have said, that statement appeared in the ‘Cooma-Monaro Express’ of 1st November yet I, as a senator representing the State of New South Wales, had written to the Minister on 30th August stating the position. On behalf of the people in the EdenMonaro electorate 1 want to know why this Government is not facing up to its responsibilities in meeting the industrial needs of the workers and the people of the Cooma area. After seeing the Minister’s statement in the Cooma-Monaro Express’ of Friday, 1st November, I was surprised to see in the Monday, 4th November, issue of the same newspaper an article under the heading ‘State Offered to Buy Surplus SMA Property’. The article was in these terms:
The New South Wales State Government had advised the Commonwealth it was interested in buying Snowy Mountains Authority properly in Cooma which would become redundant, the Mayor, Alderman A. H. Johnson, said today.
Alderman Johnson said the State planned to buy the property and to make it available at an attractive price, with favourable conditions, to a company interested in establishing in Cooma.
I can’t understand a statement by the Minister for National Development, Mr Fairbairn, that no approach has been made to buy the property’, he said.
Mr Fairbairn told the ‘Express’ on Friday the Commonwealth, within the bounds of the Authority’s legal obligations in selling surplus assets, would do his best to arrange a satisfactory deal if and when a buyer made a formal approach.
On behalf of the people of this area and on behalf of the workers who are being retrenched from the Snowy Mountains Authority as a result of the decision of the Commonwealth Government, I raise my objection. I want to know what action the Government intends to take to encourage industrial undertakings in the Cooma area which will enable the area lo continue as an important centre of operations within the State of New South Wales. The municipal authorities in Cooma have pleaded with the New South Wales Government for help in the establishment of an industry in that area to replace the Snowy Mountains Authority, which will become redundant in 1971 or 1972. The New South Wales Minister for Decentralisation, who is a member of the Country Party, has also approached the Commonwealth Government to give consideration to the sale of the surplus housing and equipment of the Authority on a reasonable basis to enable another industry to be established at Cooma.
As a senator representing the State of New South Wales, I have made representations to the Minister for National Development urging him to consider the wants, needs and requirements of this area, but as late as 1st November last the Minister had the audacity to say that until there was a formal approach from a prospective buyer with firm proposals regarding price and conditions, the Commonwealth Government could not even begin to negotiate. That answer is just not good enough. The Commonwealth Government should say whether or not it will dispose of certain of the equipment of the Snowy Mountains Authority to enable a prospective industry to come into that area and so ensure continuity of employment. I plead with the Minister to realise that unless reasonable action is taken by the Government a great number of people will leave the Cooma municipality and a ghost town will be created. Tn case the Minister requires further confirmation of this, I refer him to the ‘Cooma Monaro Express’ of 11th October 1968, which stated:
A prominent member of the Cooma Branch of the Liberal Party, Mr Peter Doyle, yesterday strongly attacked National Development Minister Fairbairn.
Mr Doyle said value of houses owned by the Snowy Mountains Authority at Cooma apparently had risen considerably in value because a possible client had been found.
Mr Doyle was speaking at a meeting of the Monaro-South Coast Regional Development Committee at Bega.
I know that the wants, needs and requirements of the people of this area of New South Wales have been completely overlooked in the policy decision of the Government and, frankly, those wants, needs and requirements have not even been considered by way of representations by the Federal member for Eden-Monaro. My colleagues and I have been approached to ensure that the vacuum is filled. It is natural that the Government should have a look at the very serious condition that will be created on the south coast of New South Wales when the Snowy Mountains Authority becomes redundant. Already the people in this area are facing very servere drought conditions and unemployment. If the Commonwealth Government does not help the New South Wales Government to fill the breach by making available the surplus property of the Authority to enable the decentralisation of industry and the establishment of a motor industry in the Cooma district, the Commonwealth Government will face the consequences at the next Federal elections. Mr Chairman, on behalf of the people of this area I appeal to the Government to give early consideration to selling the surplus housing and equipment of the Snowy Mountains Authority at a reasonable price not to private enterprise but to the New South Wales Government so that, by adopting a policy of decentralisation, it can meet the wants, needs and requirements of the people of this area. -The CHAIRMAN (Senator DrakeBrock,nan’ - The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– Senator Cohen asked a question regarding the loss of geologists by the Bureau of Mineral Resources. Apart from those who leave on promotion to other areas of the Commonwealth Public Service, to universities or to the Commonwealth Scientific and
Industrial Research Organisation, the greater majority go to mineral exploring companies operating in Australia. In the interests of national development generally this cannot be considered a loss to the nation. The Bureau recruits far more officers from other countries than leave it to go overseas, although some do resign to join companies in Australia after gaining experience in Australian earth science conditions. In these ways the Commonwealth Government is making a positive contribution to mineral development in Australia.
Senator Young referred to the great work that is carried out by the South Australian Mines Department and asked what assistance the Bureau of Mineral Resources gave to that authority. He also asked why the Bureau concentrated its efforts more in States other than South Australia. The Bureau takes notice of the applications it receives from the States for assistance. At present it is receiving more applications from other States than from South Australia. The Bureau is at present carrying out an aeromagnetic survey in co-operation with the South Australian Government.
Senator McClelland said that the Government was abandoning the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority; that it was not looking to the future and that the people in the Snowy Mountains area would show their resentment at the next Federal election. The original Snowy Mountains scheme was promoted by the Australian Labor Party - the great Socialist party. In 1948 or 1949 the Labor Government let a contract to the New South Wales Government for the construction of the Eucumbene dam. I recall that in the early 1950s the then Minister for National Development was facing great problems because as Minister in charge of the scheme he found that the dam, which was being built by day labour in accordance with the policy of the State Labor Government, was 2 years behind schedule. Eventually we were able as a government to persuade the New South Wales Government to let a contract for its construction. The Snowy Mountains Authority has done a magnificent job in the construction of this scheme and everybody is aware of this.
We said not so long ago that the Snowy Mountains Authority is at present being kept very busy as a consultant. Tha
Authority has on its books now a total of 550 man hours of work for outside organisations. At present we envisage that a minimum of 250 specialists will be required in investigations, design and scientific services to fulfil the Authority’s new role as a consultant body when its job on the Snowy Mountains scheme is completed. The Authority already has 210 men directly engaged on outside projects. This is a tremendous achievement. This build-up of work is ensuring the establishment of a sound basis of operation and a continuing flow of applications for assistance from outside organisations well in advance of the planned transition to a purely consultant body. Experts of the Authority are now working on projects for Cambodia. Thailand, Malaya, Sabah, Samoa, all Australian States, the Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory and Papua and New Guinea.
In addition to assignments for overseas governments which have been arranged through the Department of External Affairs, the United Nations, by Commonwealth and State departments and organisations, the Authority’s consultant services are being employed by five private firms in the mining field. The variety of outside projects in hand emphasises the valuable role that the Authority can play in the development of our nation and in helping our neighbours in the Pacific and in Asia. Outside projects currently being undertaken by experts from the Snowy Mountains Authority include the design of dams, hydro-electric schemes, part of an underground railway, road building, hydrological surveys, the economics of power transmission, hydraulic research, pipeline and pump design, and studies of the durability of different types of concrete. Clearly there is a future for the Authority in providing consultant services based on its special skills.
The Authority is pre-eminent in Australia in the investigation and design of large dams, rock tunnels and other underground rock work, major hydro-electric works, major pumping plants incorporating heavy mechanical’ and electrical equipment, and major water pipelines. Australia will not lose these skills when the Snowy scheme is completed. The Authority in its consultant role will charge normal’ consultant fees and will in no way replace existing consultants. Rather, its very special experience and skills will add a new dimension to the consultant services in Australia and will ensure the continued sound development and planning of major projects of many types in Australia. Senator McClelland rather decries the attitude of this Government. 1 should have thought that he, being a representative of the State of New South Wales, would have been the first person to congratulate the Government on achieving, with the help of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority, the construction of the greatest scheme ever undertaken in the Southern Hemisphere. 1 would have expected the honourable senator to congratulate the Government on this achievement, but he is crying about the Snowy Mountains Authority.
Let us consider the town of Cooma. When the Authority started its work in the area Cooma was a very small town, lt has more than trebled in population since the scheme was started and it is now a very large town. When the Snowy Mountains Authority has completed its work it and the town of Cooma will still be employing more than 300 people on the scheme. All this has been brought about by a government that can carry out a project, not with day labour but by contract, and achieve the maximum result for the minimum amount of money. Senator McClelland mentioned houses in the Snowy Mountains area. 1 have been informed by my advising officers that at this moment there are no concrete proposals with regard to these houses.
– What about my letter.
– I am doing the talking at. the moment. The Authority is not responsible-
– I shall read my letters.
– The honourable senator can read what he likes. If houses in the area become redundant the Authority will sell them on the best possible terms on behalf of the Commonwealth and acting under the jurisdiction of the Department of National Development, lt will be seen that as a government we are interested in the development of Australia as a whole. The honourable senator mentioned the Snowy Mountains Authority and then went on to talk about the devastation that was taking place in southern New South Wales because of the drought. If any government has done anything in relation to drought it has been this Government. We have given millions of dollars to New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia for this purpose. When the bush fires were ravaging Tasmania we came to the assistance of that State.
Everybody is terribly sorry to know that the southern part of New South Wales is at present afflicted by a drought, but the Commonwealth Government is coming to the assistance of people in the area and enabling them to carry on. I do not want to gain political kudos from this, but 1 should not have thought that the honourable senator opposite would have raised this matter in the way that he did. Ever since we have been in government we have been anxious to maintain a situation of full employment. At the time that we came into office about 20 years ago 5.6% of the people of Australia were unemployed. That was the figure for the June quarter of 1949. We have never returned to that figure in the whole time that we have been in government. 1 think that that is a record of which we can be proud.
– I rise wilh a painful sense of inadequacy because 1 have not a handkerchief large enough to stem the torrent of crocodile tears which was shed by the Minister on a large variety of subjects with which he has all but confessed his inability to cope. I relate my remarks to the Bureau of Mineral Resources and also to water resources. I would have thought that any Minister of this Government would have blushed to talk about the Government’s achievements in respect of the Snowy Mountains Authority. I remind the Minister that back in the days when a Labor government established the Snowy Mountains scheme, the opening ceremony was boycotted by the then Leader, of the Opposition, who was later to become Prime Minister, and by all those people who later comprised his front bench. I really think that we are at a stage when we must have a little more than plain propaganda blurb from the Minister.
I return to the Bureau of Mineral Resources. I do not want to be brushed aside by being told that what you lose on the swings you gain on the roundabouts, and that if the Bureau is losing geologists, they are being picked up somewhere else. We have to he concerned about the
Government’s policy on these questions. I am informed on good authority that the total number of earth scientists in Australia - engaged in geology, geophysics and geochemistry - is about 1,700, about 1,500 of whom are employed in industry and government departments. In this field about 170 new positions were created last year. I am informed that there were also 300 unfilled vacancies. It is estimated that next year there will be about 250 new vacancies, of which about 40% will be for experienced personnel. The number of vacancies is likely to reach about 300 in 3 years time.
The point of my remarks about the Bureau and the shortage of geologists is that last year about 90 graduates entered the profession from Australian universities. That must be measured against the need. The balance of 80 or so who were recruited by the Government and industry presumably came from overseas. It is quite clear that the universities in Australia cannot hope to fill the existing and projected needs for geologists that this country will experience. The test is that of the four newest universities established in Australia - they are Monash, Macquarie, Flinders and La Trobe universities - only Macquarie University has a school of earth scientists. It seems that the Government has made no effort to provide for Australia’s needs in this field, although the resignation figures which I cited earlier showed quite clearly as early as 1964-65 what was likely to happen.
At this point I would like to say that this is not surprising, given the Government’s lack of a science policy and the Government’s failure to co-ordinate its activities in this area. I appreciate that science and universities are in fact part of the responsibility of the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser), but geology is a responsibility of the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn). It is possible to point to a significant lack of Government cohesion and initiative in this area. It is important that we act to fill the gap with a sense of urgency. I think there is justification for the establishment of a department of earth science in Australian universities, because of a need for geologists, geophysicists and geochemists, as well as for professional scientists, and because of the contributions that can be made to the life of the nation in other capacities by persons employed in those fields. 1 suggest that it is not good enough for the Minister to brush questions aside and to say: ‘We have had an interesting discussion and some interesting points have been raised, but what you lose on the swings you gain on the roundabouts.’ I am not interested in that kind of superficial remark. The Minister must face up to the Government’s lack of policy on these questions. If he thinks that we will be content to listen to a soft sell on these issues, he is plainly mistaken. We are concerned with an area that has not really been probed in Australian history, in which responsible Ministers have never really been subjected to searching examination as to what they stand for.
Does the Minister believe that there must be a positive Government policy? ls he prepared to creep along lazily in a laissez faire fashion explaining that after the worst has happened, it is really not part of the Government’s responsibility: that it is just the way that things happen, and if one looks al it squarely, the Government is not doing too badly? The Government should measure its performance against the country’s needs and against what experience shows is required. By that criterion it has not much to be proud of.
– Senator Cohen has accused the Government of not having a policy for the training of geologists. 1 wish to tell him that because of the policies of this Government there has been an ever increasing need for the employment of scientists and geologists, particularly geologists. At present the force of geologists employed by the Bureau of Mineral Resources has grown from an insignificant number to between 700 and 800. At present we are encouraging more and more people to become geologists. A study is being made of the situation by the Australian Universities Commission. A great upsurge in mining has occurred in Australia. Why has that happened? It has happened largely because of the policies of this Government that has geared the nation to national development. Because of that achievement we have been subjected to some of the remarks made in this debate tonight.
This Government believes in national development and to that end has altered many Acts of Parliament to encourage investment in mining in Australia. The result is that today we are rapidly becoming one of the greatest mining countries in the world. Many people are coming here from overseas to take on jobs as geologists with the major mining companies. The Government does have a policy for the encouragement of national development and the employment of geologists. This is evidenced by the fact that the number of geologists employed in the Bureau of Mineral Resources has increased to between 700 and 800.
– I am completely dissatisfied with a number of aspects of the debate tonight on the estimates of the Department of National Development. I relate my remarks to Division 390 - Administrative, Division 392 - Northern Division, Division 394 - Division of National Mapping, and Division 396 bureau of Mineral Resources. Tonight I asked a series of questions, some of which were dealt with by the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar), who was at that time relieving the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott). According to the information supplied to me at the beginning of the debate on the Estimates, Senator Scott is listed to answer questions on the estimates of the Department of National Development, Department of Shipping and Transport, Department of Civil Aviation, Department of the Interior and one or two other departments. During most of the debate tonight he has been absent from the chamber. Tn the brief time, that he has been present he has shown little or no inclination to answer the questions properly. Instead, he has indulged in a tirade about what he alleges the Government has done over the period of almost 20 years that it has been in office. This is not good enough for members of the Opposition: it is not good enough for the Australian public and it is unfair to his advisers.
I have before me a document which was sent across to me by the Minister who relieved the Minister for Customs and Excise and which deals with item 06 of subdivision 2 of Division 394, in respect of which both Senator Young on the Government side and I sought information. I hope that the document will be incorporated in Hansard. One of the unfortunate points is that, when we are supplied with information after the estimates to which it refers have been dealt with, that information is not incorporated in Hansard. It should be. We are not trying to be disruptive or obstructive when we seek information. One would think that a responsible Minister would confer with his advisers and make sure that each question was answered and that he was able to answer each question sensibly - not stupidly, as the Minister for Customs and Excise has been doing for the last half an hour. Because of the inability of the Minister to handle the estimates of this Department, I move:
That further consideration of the divisions relating to the Department of National Development be postponed.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Senator T. C. Drake-Brockman)
Majority . . 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I regret that the Minister has not been given the opportunity to have the necessary information prepared for us. I now wish to endorse the remarks that were made by Senator McClelland earlier this evening in relation to the Snowy Mountains scheme and the disintegration of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. I refer again to the point that he raised in regard to the disposalof property in the Cooma area. Let me read the following few paragraphs from a document for the information of honourable senators opposite:
The Snowy Mountains Authority erected 671 cottages at Cooma North and East and, in addition, a substantial amount of single staff accommodation when it set up its headquarters at Cooma.
Negotiations between the Cooma Municipal Council and the Commissioner of the Snowy Mountains Authority have revealed that the Authority will begin to have a surplus of cottages from the end of 1969 and probably will be in a position to progressively release 200-300 houses in Cooma East. The Cooma East cottages are located adjacent to the access road to Polo Flat and are within easy flat walking distance and they are ideally suited for employees of any large undertaking at Polo Flat.
Due to the policy of the Snowy Mountains Authority, every endeavour was made to develop civic pride in the occupiers of the Authority cottages and assistance was given to the householders towards this end by providing shrubs, trees and soils, etc., to beautify the gardens and footpaths. This now presents very good living conditions and is indicated by the attached photograph which is typical of a minimum standard house becoming available.
The photograph is incorporated in the document. I request answers from the Minister to these questions: Has a firm offer been made by the New South Wales Government, or has any sort of offer been made by it? What is the attitude of the Commonwealth Government to any such offer? I submit very respectfully that the Commonwealth Government is not interested in what happens in the Cooma area.It is an ideal location for the development of a major industry.
– 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 DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - 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, 6 November 1968, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1968/19681106_senate_26_s39/>.