26th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 11 a.m., and read prayers.
– 1 direct a question to the Minister representing the Attorney-General, ls the Commonwealth making legal aid available to destitute litigants charged or making claims under federal law? If not, is the Attorney-General still looking into the matter, as he advised me on 19th October 1965 in reply to a question?
– Without further specification of the claims to which the honourable senator refers, 1 cannot give the question a meaningful interpretation. If the honourable senator will expand upon the question by letter I shall refer it to the Attorney-General.
– I direct a question to the Acting Minister for Education and Science. In reply to a question on Tuesday last regarding a process which produces Surprise peas, the Minister said that the system stemmed from a process initiated by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. If this Organisation initiated this process, what are the circumstances under which Unilever was able to secure the patent rights of the system and enter into damaging competition with producers in this country? Could it be that these patent rights are open to challenge? Would the Minister in his capacity as Minister representing the Attorney-General see that a thorough investigation is made of the claim that no one in Australia can by law make use of this system with its consequent mighty reduction in freight charges?
– The interest of the CSIRO in this matter was generated by the fact that frozen peas were showing some tendency to lose the outer shell, and this method of piercing and dehydrating them was explored with a view to preventing that. 1 was asked a question this week as to whether or not that reduces the nutritional value and I said, on my information, no. It is unknown to me that Unilever claims patent rights in connection with this process. I shall be pleased to ascertain and give information as to the circumstances in which it derived them. I shall also refer to the Attorney-General the suggestion that by reason of the facts to which the honourable senator refers the patent may be open to challenge and I shall ascertain whether it is appropriate that the Attorney-General should express an opinion upon that matter for the information of the Senate.
– My question is addressed to you, Mr President. On 26th September f asked you if it would be possible to have included in answers to questions on notice the date on which the question was asked and the date on which the reply was given. You said you would investigate the matter and added that you saw no reason why this should not bc done. As this practice has not yet commenced, I ask: What progress has been made?
– 1 must admit I have not made very much progress in the matter. 1 see no real’ reason why this practice should not be followed. I will look into the matter much more carefully. J thought the suggestion had been adopted.
– 1 address my question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. ls the Minister aware that at some post offices in New South Wales yesterday postal employees refused to accept telegrams, addressed to parliamentarians, protesting against the disruption of postal services by a section of the postal union? If this is so, does the Minister consider their action to be a violation of the employees’ terms of employment?
– I do not know of the incidents to which the honourable senator has referred. I shall take the matter up with my colleague, the Postmaster-General, and endeavour to get an answer.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Works been drawn to a report that a certain type of insulating material which is widely used throughout Australia in multi-storey buildings and which has been tested at the Commonwealth Experimental Building Station at Ryde, burns like gunpowder, throws off lethal fumes with a cyanide base and is now recognised as a great fire hazard? The report recommends that this matter should be brought to the attention of all government building authorities, including those of the Commonwealth Government. Has this matter been brought to the attention of the Minister’s Department and has he made, or will he make, any investigation of it?
– I have no knowledge of this report but I shall ascertain whether it has been communicated to my Department. 1 am grateful to the honourable senator for mentioning the matter. I have no doubt that a technical report of this sort would have reached the Department, but the honourable senator’s question will assist in ensuring that it comes under departmental notice.
– My question, which is addressed to the Acting Minister for Civil Aviation, is a follow-up to a question I asked yesterday regarding the operating standards required by the Department of Civil Aviation for F28 or similar type aircraft. In view of the Minister’s reply yesterday to the effect that the requirements of this aircraft are not yet known, and as MacRobertson Miller Airlines Ltd has indicated its intention to operate a pure jet aircraft on the Perth-Darwin route by the end of 1969 or early 1970, can the Minister give an assurance that the introduction of this service will not be delayed on account of inadequate facilities?
– Knowing full well the importance of having pure jet aircraft operating on the service between Perth and Darwin, I believe that it will be absolutely essential for the Department of Civil Aviation to make an assessment of the exact conditions required for landing strips. I undertake to get the detailed information that the honourable senator requires.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Did the Australian Broadcasting Commission refuse to renew the contract of Mr Bob Sanders because of pressure applied by Mr B. A. Santamaria?
– I have no knowledge of this matter and therefore I cannot reply to the honourable senator’s question.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, ls it a fact that the Government grants to the Australian Council for Rehabilitation of the Disabled a subsidy on the basis of Si for each $1 raised, up to a maximum of $10,000 a year, to assist towards the cost of maintaining the national secretariat and related activities? Is one of the aims of the Council to see that there is at all times equality of rights between able-bodied and disabled persons in the community? If this is so, does the Commonwealth Government believe that it is assisting in the equation of these rights by its long standing policy of granting financial assistance to sporting fixtures only in respect of the Olympic Games and the Commonwealth Games while refusing like assistance to the Australian paraplegic team presently attending the Stoke Mandeville Games in Tel Aviv?
– The Commonwealth makes an annual grant of $15,000 to the Council. Of this grant $10,000 is provided on the basis of $1 for each $1 raised to assist the National Secretariat. The balance of $5,000 is not subject to matching funds and is intended to assist with Australian representation in the rehabilitation field internationally. The aims of the Council are in general to act as a co-ordinating and advisory body for the purpose of furthering the rehabilitation of physically and mentally retarded people. The Government has looked sympathetically at the question of contributing to the cost of sending a team to Tel Aviv to take part in the Paraplegic Games, but as in previous years, has decided against this course. The Prime Minister explained this in June this year in a letter in reply to representations made on behalf of the Australian Paraplegic Council. The Government provides financial grants towards the cost of Australian teams attending the Olympic and Commonwealth Games, lt would be impracticable, however, to assist all of the many other sporting bodies which seek financial aid. and an attempt to choose between them could have an inequitable result.
– 1 address a question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. In view of the great work performed by the Australian surf life saving movement on all major surfing beaches throughout the Commonwealth, and the great advertisement that the life saving movement is to Australia throughout the world, will the Government give urgent consideration to increasing the Commonwealth grant to this organisation because of the increase in the cost of all surf life saving equipment?
– The Senate will know, and 1 am sure the honourable senator who poses the question will understand, that these matters are dealt with at Budget time. Appropriations for them appear on the estimates for the Prime Minister’s Department. These are annual contributions which the Commonwealth Government makes to the various organisations and this organisation unquestionably does a magnificent job of work.
– It should be subsidised by the insurance companies.
– The honourable senator raises a very interesting point. I gather that Senator Fitzgerald is suggesting that some special grant be made because of some special circumstances. If he is not, then I remind him that the normal practice is to consider these matters during discussions prior to the preparation of the Budget.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry, lt results from comments made in some quarters that the first advance on wheat may be reduced next year. Willthe Minister take every possible step to notify the wheat industry as early as possible if this does appear necessary, so that farmers and financial institutions will have the opportunity to make the necessary financial adjustments and will not be placed in a position of uncertainty any longer than is necessary?
– 1 am quite sure that the honourable senator would be aware that much could happen in the next 12 months to alter very materially the whole wheat position. One factor would be the availability of crops and a second would be the vol’ume of sales of Australian wheat that could be made overseas. I do not think that at this stage anyone could be in a postlion to forecast that it will be necessary to make a reduction of the first payment of SI. 10 which has been paid over the last 12 years. I agree with the honourable senator that if such a cutback of the first payment were found to be necessary it would be essential that early notice be given to all wheat growers concerned.
– I direct my question to the Acting Minister for Education and Science, who is administering the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. Does considerable discontent exist amongst members of the association of officers of the Organisation following the announcement of the terms of a new award? Do the provisions of the award radically change the avenues of promotion from those which existed previously and operated satisfactorily? Does the Minister contemplate calling a special conference to restore industrial harmony in the Organisation?
– Neither I not the CSIRO, to which I referred this morning, has any knowledge of any discontent with regard to a recent award. The only award to which the honourable senator’s reference may possibly apply is a recent consent determination made in respect of drafting and technical staff. As the honourable senator knows, my attitude in this chamber with regard to industrial matters is to abstain from reference to them unless they assume a high political content. death sentence
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Attorney-General, ls it a fact, as reported in the Press, that the Government has decided to commute the death sentence imposed on the man da Costa in the Darwin Supreme Court last May? Is the Minister aware that a very large body of opinion in the community believes that the Government has acted quite inhumanely in keeping this man waiting so long to know his fate when all along it would have been proper, I suggest, for the Government, in accordance with ample precedent, to have indicated that whether he won or lost his appeal in the courts the death sentence would not be carried out?
– I inform the Senate that the Government has decided that the sentence of death passed on this man should be commuted to a term of imprisonment for 30 years but that remissions shall not reduce the term to be served below 20 years, in any event, the Government has decided that he be not released from custody except upon the certificate of an appropriate panel of medical practitioners of not less than three members, of whom two shall be persons who regularly advise the Commonwealth Government or a State government, that it would not be dangerous for the prisoner to be released. Upon receipt of such a report the AttorneyGeneral is to consult with his Cabinet colleagues before talcing any action.
With regard to the second part of the question, one is always conscious of the highly emotional feelings held by sections of the public on this matter. It is good that public opinion should be developed upon such a subject. However I would say to the honourable senator that it is highly important in judicial matters that the executive refrain from intervention until judicial processes have been exhausted. That was the very proper course taken by the Attorney-General in this instance. john Mcewen house
– I direct my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of the facts, firstly, that the building known as John McEwen House was built by the Australian Country Party to be the administrative headquarters of that party; secondly, that a major part of the building has been leased by contract for occupancy by the Department of External Affairs: thirdly, that the leasing arrangement is handled by the Department of the Interior, of which Mr Nixon of the Country Party is the ministerial head, at a rental which would amortise the capital cost of the building quite rapidly; and fourthly, that in the absence of a full and comprehensive statement on the whole matter there would be occasion for concern as to the propriety of the arrangement, will the Minister arrange for a comprehensive statement of the lease arrangements to be made available to the Parliament?
- Mr President, when a question was directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior on this subject several days ago 1 interposed to answer that question because I had certain information on it. 1 gave the particulars of the leasing arrangement with the Department of External Affairs, the period of the lease and the conditions of the lease. I also demonstrated that the rent to be paid was, on a footage basis, comparable with the rent for other buildings in Canberra and in some cases it was less. I thought that I supplied all the relevant information, but if the honourable senator feels that further information should be supplied 1 will direct the question to the Minister for the Interior for that purpose.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. If any member of Parliament, or for that matter any person, hears or learns about a television or radio broadcast by an Australian Broadcasting Commission station and desires to obtain a tape of the programme, is a tape made available to the person concerned on request? If it is not the general practice to make such tapes available, are they ever officially provided? If so, to what category of persons and under what conditions are they made available?
– 1 understand that tapes are not made available primarily because of the cost involved. However, transcripts of programmes are made available to responsible persons, depending on the availability of tapes, which may be circulating amongst stations.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Is the Minister aware that a delegation from the Canning Pea Growers Association proposes to visit New Zealand shortly to endeavour to persuade New Zealand growers and marketing interests to limit the export of peas to Australia? Does he realise that this action has become necessary because of the apparent refusal of the responsible Minister to recognise that a serious threat exists to the Australian industry and because of his neglect to implement the protective provisions of the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement, which details the action that can be taken in such situations to protect local industry? Finally, in the event of the delegation failing to reach an understanding with the New Zealand interests, will the Minister then proceed to invoke the relevant provisions of the Agreement?
– I have seen references to the visit by the delegation to which the honourable senator referred. In regard to the remainder of his question I wish to say that several times during the course of this session I have answered questions regarding the procedure available to those who feel that their industries are affected by the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement.
– But the Minister for Trade and Industry will not act on it.
– The Minister will act if he is approached by these bodies. If the importation of peas from New Zealand is detrimental to Australian interests all that is required is for associations or persons who believe that their industry is being affected to present their case to the Minister with a view to having the provisions of the Agreement invoked.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Has the Minister seen a report that a Cabinet Minister, supported by a group of Government back bench members, had approached senior officers of the Australian Broadcasting Commission expressing disapproval of Mr Bob Sanders’
People’ television show? Is this report correct? Is it a fact also that a number of deletions have been made from Mr Sanders’ programme in recent times by & supervising officer of the ABC? Were these deletions made as a result of pressure brought on the ABC by an influential section of the Government?
– I know nothing of the points that have been raised by the honourable senator. I have no reply to make concerning them other than that I have no knowledge of them.
– I preface a question to the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral by admitting that I was startled by his reply to my question on secular marriages yesterday. Is the Minister aware that approximately 10% of all marriages are performed in registry offices? Is he aware that some registrars consider that people who marry in this way are deadbeats and worthy of little consideration? Is he also aware that the Attorney-General aids them in this attitude by nol arranging for reasonable facilities and hours so that they can marry with dignity and in the company of their friends? If the registrars are not prepared to assist, will the AttorneyGeneral authorise suitable persons in each Stale lo officiate at secular marriages at times similar lo those provided by the churches?
– Following the honourable senators further reference yesterday to section 43 of the Marriage Act f perused that section in iti; context. It confirmed ad hoc my interpretation in the chamber thai the section was directed to the validity of a marriage.
– I question that. I have the Act also.
– Out of courtesy I am giving the honourable senator my opinion. My perusal of the Act confirmed my interpretation that the section was concerned only with the validity of the marriage and had nothing to do with a requirement that administrative arrangements be made to celebrate a marriage at any time in any place. With regard to the question that is asked today, I was not aware that 10% of marriages celebrated in Australia were celebrated at registries. I do not think anybody entertains the opinion that disparagement attaches to a person who prefers a registry marriage to a church marriage. Certainly I would not join with anybody who used the offensive expression that came from the honourable senator in relation to such people. The Attorney-General has no purpose of depriving registry marriages of the dignity that it is proper to accord to them by their being celebrated at a convenient place and in the company of friends.
– Why does he do it then?
– He does not deny them that dignity. So far as I know general administrative arrangements for these ceremonies are adequate and convenient to the public. If the honourable senator has in mind any particular instance where a deficiency is complained of he would do well to draw attention to it by correspondence so that it can be examined in particularity and on a factual basis. If there is any deficiency, I have no doubt that the Commonwealth Attorney-General or the Attorney-General of the State concerned would make suitable arrangements.
– Is the Minister representing the Postmaster-General aware that on the Australian Broadcasting Commission programme ‘This Day Tonight’ on Tuesday 5th November, 5 minutes before the Prime Minister was scheduled to make a statement to the Parliament explaining the reasons for the cessation of the defensive bombing of North Vietnam, Mr Salmon, a Communist journalist who was described as an expert who had spent some time in Hanoi, was interviewed and allowed to expound propaganda which branded our South Vietnamese allies as aggressors in the Vietnam struggle? Can the Minister inform the Senate whether a representative of the Prime Minister, or an independent journalist who may have been expected to put an unbiassed point of view, were invited to join the programme? Is the Government prepared to take steps to stop the ABC television network being used as the voice of Hanoi?
– I will place the matters raised by the honourable senator before my colleague the Postmaster-General and endeavour to get a reply for him.
– In directing a question to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral, I refer to a matter that has been raised by a number of honourable senators. I ask the Minister whether she will ascertain from the Postmaster-General for the information of honourable senators whether in fact pressure has been brought to bear on the Australian Broadcasting Commission in regard to its programme This Day Tonight’ by the Liberal Party and by members of the Australian Democratic Labor Party. Is the ABC bowing to that pressure and is it likely to discontinue the programme at the end of this year? Why is it that in view of repeated complaints about the Commission’s being subjected to pressure by the Liberal Party and the DLP, and the widely publicised reports that state specifically that pressure has been brought to bear on the ABC -
– Order! Would the honourable senator please ask his question?
– Why, in view of those widely publicised reports, is the Government so careless of its reputation that the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral in the Senate enters the Senate without being able to give any information at all to the public when the reputations of the Government and the ABC are being seriously challenged by the Press of this country?
– If I may say so, the honourable senator’s question is rather long to be properly called a question. The statement made by the honourable senator contained inquiries about a number of matters. I shall be quite happy to place those matters before the PostmasterGeneral and obtain a reply for the honourable senator.
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General: Is it a fact that one or more Post Office employees in the Australian Capital Territory who had a conscientious objection to taking part in a strike which originated in New South
Wales, are being sent to Coventry and may be further punished by trade unions? Does this imply that conscientious objection to military service should be acknowledged but that unions affiliated with the Australian Labor Party need not accept as bona fide a conscientious objection to going on strike at the command of a union official?
– The question asked by the honourable senator raises some interesting points which 1 know my colleague, the PostmasterGeneral, will be pleased to answer.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. 1 refer to the priority given to light aircraft at the Canberra aerodrome. J am sure that the Minister is aware that light aircraft and commercial aircraft have equal rights, but that because of the high cost of holding commercial aircraft preference is usually given to them at all airports other than Canberra. I ask the Minister whether he will put the following questions to the Minister for Civil Aviation and obtain replies to them: ls the Minister aware that only at the Canberra aerodrome are commercial aircraft held up unnecessarily by light aircraft practising touch and go landings? Is he also aware that commercial aircraft, again unnecessarily, are held up while Royal Australian Air Force aircraft practice instrument approaches?
– Is this why the honourable senator was late yesterday?
– I was not late yesterday at all. It was several days ago that I was late. At least, when I am in the chamber I am effective. Will the Minister take steps- to have these procedures altered?
– I am aware that the Canberra Airport caters for both commercial aircraft and private aircraft whereas at other centres such as at Guildford and Jandakot in Western Australia commercial aircraft and private aircraft have separate airports. I will refer the other matters that the honourable senator has raised to the Minister for Civil Aviation and ask him to give the honourable member a detailed reply.
– My question is directed to the .Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. Has the consultative committee provided for in the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement been set up to investigate and to discuss the breakdown alleged to exist in relation to timber being exported from New Zealand to Australia in quantities in excess of the agreed quantities? If not, will it be so set up?
- Senator Devitt asked me a question in which he adverted to the same matter several days aso. In giving answers to questions on notice I propose to give an answer which I believe will incorporate the information that Senator Rae is seeking.
- Senator Keeffe asked me a question about showing the dates on which questions on notice were asked. His question was whether the dates could be shown on the roneoed sheet. The honourable senator will see that the notice paper sets out very clearly when the questions were asked. It would be completely repetitive to put the dates on the roneoed sheet, because when an honourable senator refers to the notice paper in order to ask his question he can see the date on which it was asked.
– Senator Keeffe wanted the date of the reply shown.
– I do not see how the date of the reply can be shown. When a question is put on the notice paper, the date on which it was asked is shown. I cannot see that it would make any difference if that date were put on the roneoed sheet when the reply was given.
– This matter is quite important. Obviously, the date on which a question is answered can be ascertained from Hansard. That is quite clear and there is no argument about that. Sometimes a question is answered fairly quickly; other times several months may pass before a reply is received. We have had to complain about that in the past. Quite frequently we ask questions on behalf of interested persons or organisations. That is a normal procedure in both Houses of the Parliament. When we supply the information to the person or organisation concerned, unless we laboriously write or type in the date on which the question was asked it is not shown on the renewed answer. That probably reflects on the member or senator concerned because it may appear that he has not bothered to ask the question until after a lengthy period of time has elapsed. I would imagine that it would be a very simple matter to incorporate the date on which the question was asked, as well as the number of it, when the answer is being typed. That is the only request that I am making.
– I cannot see that inclusion of the particulars on the renewed sheets would lead to their going into Hansard. It may do.I shall look into it.
(Question Nos 400, 401and 402)
asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice: (Question No. 400)
How many former national servicemen have applied for full time post-discharge vocational training under the Defence (Re-establishment) Act 1965-1968, in each of the years since the commencement of the Act, at
How many such applications were for courses of more than 12 months duration?
How many former national servicemen have applied for part time post-discharge vocational training under the Defence (Re-establishment) Act 1965-1968. in each of the years since the commencement of the Act at
How many former national servicemen have applied for post-discharge vocational training by correspondence under the Defence (Reestablishment) Act 1965-1968 in each of the years since the commencement of the Act at
– I now provide the following answers:
Because the inquiries in Questions 400 401 and 402 all relate to the National Service Vocational Training Scheme established under the Defence (Re-establishment) Act 1965-68I have for the convenience of the honourable senator, provided the information he desires in a combined answer to his questions.
The numbers of applications for vocational training by former national servicemen are as follows. The figures for 1968 are as at 30th June, 1968.
The numbers of applications granted are as follows:
Details of the courses approved and the numbers of applications granted for each are set out in the table at the end of the reply. Some applications recorded in the tables in paragraph 1, are in the course of being investigated and determined.
The numbers of applications received for training courses of more than 12 months’ duration are:
Financial assistance available to trainees undertakinga course of more than 12 months’ duration is as follows:
For both part time and correspondence courses assistance is limited to a period of two years.
OTHER INSITUTIONS AT WHICH TRAINING H AS BEEN SOUGHT
(additional to those specified in 1, above).
American College of Sales Merchandising; American College Pty Ltd; Australian Institute of Management; Australian Radio and T.V. College; Australian Insurance Institute; Aviation Education Service;
Bankers Institute; British Institute of Engineering Technology; Bryson Taylor;
Capital Engineering Institute: Civil Flying Services; College of Civil Aviation: Commercial Flying School: Conservatories of Music; Customs Agents Institute;
Darryl Welch; Department of Civil Aviation; Australian Driver Education School;
George Taylor and Staff;
Hemingway Robertson: Hubbard Academy;
Institute of Business Studies; Institute of Chartered Accountants: Institute of Fire Engineers; Insurance Institute; International Correspondence School;
John P. Young and Associates:
Kathleen Gorham-Reid Academy of Ballet;
Marconi School of Wireless: Meat Inspector (Private Tutor); Metropolitan Accountancy College;
Narromine Flying College; National Joint Council of Flour Milling Industry (London); New South Wales Government Railways; New South Wales Postal Institute;
Power Coaching College; Professional Golf Association of Western Australia;
Royal Newcastle Aero Club; Royal Aero Club of South Australia; Royal Aero Club of New South Wales; Royal Victorian Aero Club:
Samav Flying School; School of Accountancy; Stotts Business College;
(Question No. 539)
asked the MinisterinCharge of Tourist Activities, upon notice:
-I now provide the following answer:
(Question No. 571)
asked the Minister rep resenting the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: 1 and 2. The ad hoc Labelling of Cigarettes Committee of the National Health and Medical Research Council was formed at the 65th Session of Council in October 1967. It held only one formal meeting and produced a report to Council at the 66thSessionin April 1968. Since its work was then completed the Committee ceased to function.
MrK. W. Starr, C.M.G., O.B.E., E.D., M.B., M.S., F.R.A.C.S., F.A.C.S., Member of Council, representing the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (Chairman);
Dr H. W. Garlick, M.D., B.S., M.R.C.P., F.R.A.C.P., Dean, Prince Henry’s Hospital Clinical School, Melbourne;
Dr T. H. Hurley, M.D., B.S., F.R.A.C.P., Member of Council representing the Federal Council of the Australian Medical Association:
Dr M. R. Joseph, B.Sc, M.B., B.S., F.R.A.C.P, F.R.C.P., Royal Prince Alfred Medical Centre, Sydney; the US Federal Trades Commission.’ 1764 Questions [SENATE] Questions
Mr R. C. McCarthy. A.U.A. (Pharm.), Secretary, Food and Drug Advisory Committee, South Australia;
Dr H. S. A. Meyers, M.B., B.S., D.P.H., F.R.S.H., Director of State Health Services, New South Wales;
Sir Norman Nock, Member of Council, an eminent layman appointed by the Commonwealth Government.
Council received the report of a special ad hoc Labelling of Cigarettes Committee established at the Sixtyfifth Session. The Committee consulted a large number of references relating to the effects of smoking on health and considered documents submitted by Australian tobacco manufacturers. The Committee also discussed the industry point of view with representatives of four cigarette manufacturing companies. After the views of both the Medicine Advisory Committee and the Public Health Advisory Committee had been obtained, Council endorsed the following views and recommendations of the Commute:
The recommendations were considered at the June 1968 Conference of Commonwealth and State Health Ministers who agreed to give the labelling proposals detailed consideration with a view to proposing a uniform approach at their next meeting. The Ministers also considered preliminary results of the National Health and Medical Research Council survey on smoking attitudes, and agreed to await a detailed final report to indicate what would be the most valuable means of dissuading people from smoking and convincing young people that they should not commence.
(Question No. 649)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following answers:
These figures relate to the whole of the Warrnambool employment district which covers, in addition to the city of Warrnambool. the boroughs of Koroit and Port Fairy and the shires of Belfast, Hampden, Heytesbury, Minhamite, Mortlake and Warrnambool.
Although the September 1968 figure was higher than that in the two preceding years, the numbers registered in recent months have declined sharply. For example, in the 3 months ended September 1968 the total numbers registered at the Warrnambool District Employment Office have fallen by 224 or 38%. This compares with falls of 23 or 10% and 46 or 27% in the corresponding months of 1967 and 1966 respectively.
It is difficult to make any precise assessment at this stage. The figure could be in the vicinity of150, which was the number that registered last year.
(Question No. 659)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
Senator WRIGHT: The Minister for Labour and National Service has supplied the following answers: 1 and 2. It will be apparent to responsible people on reading the judgment that the $1.35 wage increase was arrived al after duc consideration of all the relevant factors put to the Bench during the National Wage Case. In a free country the press are entitled to make such comment as they think tit on matters of current interest.
(Question No. 678)
asked the Minister representing lbc Minister for External Territories, upon notice:
How many graduates are there of the twoyear course for native magistrates, which commenced in 1965 in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea?
Senator WRIGHT: Mr Barnes has now supplied the following answers:
– On 5th November. Senator Devitt asked me a question in relation to the entry to Australia of New Zealand softwood timbers under the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement. Today, Senator Rae followed that up with a further question. 1 am now able to reply to the question asked by Senator Devitt and 1 think the information 1 can give will also answer the question asked by Senator
Rae. The Australian Government is not aware of any formal undertaking as to a specific ceiling which imports must not exceed. It is understood, however, that the New Zealand timber industry in discussions with the Australian industry did indicate that 6 million super feet was the likely level of imports. In 1967-68 imports increased but they still constitute only a relatively small proportion of the total1 market. The Australian industry through the Australian Timber Producers’ Panel from time to time has held discussions with departmental officials concerning the operation of the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement and the effect of imports from New Zealand. The industry is aware of the remedial measures available under the Agreement in the event of imports reaching a damaging level. The Government would be prepared to give prompt consideration to any case presented to show that damage is being caused by increased imports from New Zealand.
– On 27th August Senator Buttfield asked a question relating to the trend of enrolments of students in science. I wish to inform the honourable senator that her figures are substantially correct. New enrolments in the various scientific courses represented 46.5% of all1 enrolments in 1962 and 37.5% in 1967. Actual numbers in 1962 were 6,731 and in 1967 they were 7,621. Both male and female students partake in the trend in almost equal degree. The Minister and the Australian Universities Commission are carefully watching the position without forming any definite conclusion at the moment.
– On 17th October Senator Fitzgerald directed to me. as Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science, a question without notice concerning the use of language laboratories in the teaching of English to migrant children in schools. The Minister for Education and Science has advised mc that the installation of language laboratories is now occurring quite frequently. In April 1968, when the Department of Education and Science surveyed this position, there were over 100 language laboratories installed in Commonwealth, State and independent educational institutions, including the universities. Since 1963 the Department of Education and Science has operated, on behalf of the Department of External Affairs, a language laboratory at the English Teaching Centre, North Sydney, for the teaching of English to students from overseas studying under the Colombo Plan and similar schemes.
Any decisions concerning the installation of language laboratories in governmental schools in the States would be the responsibility of State governments. However, 1 understand that despite an increase in the number in use, they still can be regarded as experimental in the school situation and their value is still subject to assessment. The Department of Education and Science, I understand, is keeping in touch with developments in this area.
– Order! Once again I direct the attention of honourable senators to question time. I take it that practically all the questions and answers that have been read this morning will be broadcast, and once again I expect to receive complaints from members of the listening public about the length of the replies and the time taken in reading them. Of course the manner of answering a question is the responsibility of the Minister concerned. I suggest that the Senate should consider how to make question time a little more interesting to the people who listen to the broadcast, but that is not the final consideration. This matter has been raised over the years and I think we should apply ourselves earnestly to straightening up question time.
– On behalf of the Public Accounts Committee I present the One-hundredth Report which relates to expenditure from the Advance to the Treasurer for 1967-68 and the One-hundred-and-first Report which relates to Treasury Minutes arising from the Eighteenth, Seventy-seven and Ninetyfourth Reports of your Committee. I seek leave to make a short statement.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– In recent years your Committee has conducted a series of combined inquiries relating to expenditure from the Advance to the Treasurer and expenditure from the Consolidated Revenue Fund but has reported separately on both aspects of these inquiries. The Onehundredth Report relates specifically to that portion of the evidence taken in the combined inquiry in respect of the financial year 1967-68 that concerned expenditure from the Advance to the Treasurer.
Following its inquiry into expenditure from the Advance to the Treasurer for the financial year 1963-64 your Committee evolved a pro forma statement for the guidance of departments in tendering evidence in this field of inquiry. Arising from this there has been a marked improvement in the nature and quality of the departmental submissions tendered. This fact, coupled with an apparent increasing awareness by departments of the principles of sound estimating, has enabled your Committee to reduce the number of items requiring oral examination to 16 in respect of the financial year 1967-68 compared with 26 in the previous year.
Notwithstanding these improvements, the evidence taken in the present inquiry has revealed instances where insufficient care has been taken in the formulation of original and additional estimates; cases where clerical errors have occurred but have not been detected readily; a continuing need for adequate liaison to be achieved between the central offices of departments and their overseas posts and a need for the Department of the Treasury, the sub-treasuries and departments generally to act promptly in regard to urgent requests made late in the financial year for funds from the Advance to the Treasurer.
Your Committee has also had cause to consider the situation that arises where deduction lines involving Commonwealth departments, other than those engaged in trading operations, have been deleted but the charges imposed on those departments have been retained and the proceeds credited to revenue. Having regard to your Committee’s views on inter-departmental payments contained in its fifty-fifth report and bearing in mind that the recovery of charges and their payment to revenue inflate the expenditure and revenue of the
Commonwealth, your Committee considers that this practice should be reviewed by the Department of the Treasury and the other departments concerned. I commend the reports to honourable senators.
Ordered that the reports be printed.
Reports on Items
– Mr President, I present the reports of the Tariff Board on the following subjects:
Medical and surgical dressings.
Penicillins and streptomycin.
Straight tubular fluorescent lamps (Dumping and Subsidies Act).
I also present the report of the Tariff Board on singleengined aeroplanes.
– by leave - In its report on single-engined aeroplanes, the Tariff Board recommended against assistance to local production. It calculated that a bounty of $8,000 to $9,000 per aeroplane would be needed for profitable manufacture. This level of assistance would be equivalent to a duty in excess of 50% ad valorem on comparable imports. At the Board’s inquiry, the local industry had requested assistance only on agricultural aeroplanes of the type used for aerial spreading and spraying. In recommending against assistance, the Board said that when the high protective requirement is considered, in conjunction with the small share of the market the local aircraft can expect to supply, it was forced to conclude that, despite the undoubted quality of the aeroplane and the efficiency and ingenuity demonstrated in its manufacture, the cost of assisting local production would be considerably more than could be justified by its potential contribution to the economy.
Honourable senators will recall that an earlier Tariff Board report, which was tabled in the Senate in February 1967, also recommended against assisting local produc tion of light aircraft. The earlier report, however, was based largely on various estimates and projections of future costs and sales levels. In order to ensure that the local company’s case for assistance was thoroughly examined, the matter was referred again to the Tariff Board in May 1967.
The present report, therefore, is based on actual performance of production and sales. It contains clear and unequivocal statements by the Board that local production would not have reasonable prospects of success and a firm recommendation that assistance be not accorded. After a most careful examination of the report, the Government concluded that it should accept the Tariff Board’s recommendation. In both the present and earlier reports, the Board commented that certain types of light aircraft were no longer available from Britain and suggested that consideration might be given to removal of the General rate of duty of 71/2% ad valorem. Australia, however, has an obligation under the United Kingdom-Australia Trade Agreement to consult Britain before making a tariff change of this nature. Australia is consulting Britain on this matter. I present the following paper:
– I move:
That the Senate lake note of the paper.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Does the honourable senator seek leave to continue his remarks at a later stage?
– I wish to make my remarks now.
– I intercede to suggest that Senator Devitt withhold his remarks until the Estimates debate has been concluded. I do not want to see a debate commenced at this stage on a subject which may involve considerable discussion. I give Senator Devitt an assurance that I will facilitate time for him to speak on this matter at a later stage.
– That being the case, I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to appropriate the amounts required for expenditure in 1968-69 from the Consolidated Revenue Fund other than those amounts provided by special appropriations and the Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1968-69. The amounts sought for each department are shown in detail in the second schedule to the Bill, the sum of these amounts being $2,332,511,000. This Bill seeks an appropriation of $1,213,401,000, the balance of $1,1 19,110,000 having already been granted under the Supply Act (No.1) 1968-69.
The expenditure proposals of the Government were outlined in the Budget Speech and the details included in the schedule to this Bill have already been examined under the procedure whereby the Senate in committee has taken note of the amounts included in the document ‘Particulars of Proposed Expenditure for the Service of the Year Ending 30th June 1969’. I commend the bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Anderson) read a first time.
That the Bill be now read a second lime.
The purpose of this bill is to provide for expenditure from the Consolidated Revenue Fund in 1968-69 on:
Details of the amounts sought by each department are shown in the second schedule to the Bill, the sum of these amounts being $597,186,000. An appropriation of $346,918,000 is sought in this Bill, the balance of $250,268,000 having already been granted under the Supply Act (No. 2) 1968-69. The main points regarding the proposed expenditure were dealt with in the Budget Speech. The schedule to the bill is the same as that contained in the document Particulars of Proposed Provision for Certain Expenditure in Respect of the Year Ending 30th June 1969’ which has already been examined in detail by the Senate in committee. 1 commend the bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) read a first time.
[12.11] - I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The main purpose of the Bill is to widen the national health scheme to provide extra financial assistance in three areas of special need. Firstly, the Bill removes the financial burden which up to now has fallen on those who, although adequately insured, have had their hospital benefits reduced under the rules of the hospital benefit organisations relating to pre-existing or chronic ailments or long-term illnesses; secondly, the Bill provides for a supplementary benefit of S3 a day to be paid in respect of patients in nursing homes who require and receive intensive nursing home care. The supplementary benefit will be in addition to the existing nursing home benefit of $2 a day; and thirdly, the Bill provides for a benefit of Si. 50 a day to be paid in respect of handicapped children residing in handicapped persons homes conducted by religious or charitable bodies. These new provisions will operate from 1st January 1969.
The Bill also contains two other measures. One authorises the Minister for Health to make arrangements for the supply of measles vaccine. As is now the case with poliomyelitis vaccine, measles vaccine will be issued free of charge to State governments that undertake campaigns for vaccinating children against this illness which, whilst normally not of itself dangerous or unduly distressing, nevertheless can have a number of serious complications and aftereffects. The remaining measure will provide that persons who have lost pensioner medical service entitlement may join a benefit organisation without being subjected to the rules relating to the initial waiting period of 2 months. The proposals contained in the Bill are part of the Government’s social welfare programme which aims at identifying, and providing for, those in the community who are in greatest need of assistance. 1 would now like to outline in more detail each of the measures. Firstly, hospital benefit organisations can provide cover only to an extent that is actuarially sound and therefore it has not always been possible for them, at the level of premiums charged, to provide fund benefits at the full injured rate in cases where an illness was known lo exist when a person joined a fund, ni cases of protracted illness for more than, in general, 3 months in a year, or in cases of chronic illness. To assist cases such as these the Government in 1959 introduced a scheme whereby such contributors could receive an insured fund benefit usually at the standard rate of benefit. These benefits were underwritten by the Commonwealth through the medium of special accounts in organisations. The standard rate is, of course, additional to the Commonwealth benefit. Currently standard rate is $3 a day and Commonwealth benefit $2 a day.
The Bill now provides that where necessary the Commonwealth will underwrite, through the special account system, the full insured benefit entitlements of a patient for the whole period of hospitalisation. The level of payment in these cases will, however, be limited so that benefits payable do not exceed the amount charged by the hospital, including the normal additional charges such as for theatre fees and drugs. Until now, many special account contributors have been eligible for benefits only at the standard rate of S3 a day. Such people would normally only contribute for an amount of benefit at that level. There is, under the measure before the Senate, an incentive to contribute for a considerably higher table. However, there is normally a 2 months waiting period to be served on transfer to a higher benefit table before the contributor is eligible for benefits at the higher rate. To give special account contributors an opportunity to be eligible for increased benefits immediately these new arrangements come into force on 1st January 1969, clause 27 of the Bill provides for the normal waiting period on transfer to be waived for special account contributors who transfer to higher tables in the period ending 31st March 1969.
This extension of the hospital benefits insurance scheme ensures that all persons who are insured to an appropriate level need have no fear of the burden of the cost of hospitalisation should serious illness ever occur. The scheme is expected to cost $6m in a full year. This estimate is, however, based on the current situation. The transfer of large numbers of contributors to higher tables could, of course, increase the cost.
The second measure concerns nursing homes and recognises that some nursing home patients need considerably more nursing and other paramedical treatment than others and that this more intensive care adds greatly to the cost of treatment. Patients in nursing homes who are classified as in need of ‘intensive’ nursing home care and who receive such care will attract a supplementary benefit of S3 a day in addition to the existing benefit of $2 a day payable in respect of all patients in approved nursing homes.
The definition of ‘intensive nursing home care’ is in sub-clause 6 of clause 15 of the Bill. The term ‘intensive’ is related to the degree of nursing care or other ‘treatment that the patients in the nursing homes need and receive. Patients who will receive the supplementary benefit will include those whose disabilities make them virtually bedfast, who are wholly or substantially dependent upon nursing care or who are undergoing comprehensive nursing aimed at improving their health or their independence and thereby are dependent on nursing care. Patients who receive such treatment away from their beds will not be debarred from receiving the supplementary benefit, as it is not intended that the measure have the effect of confining to bed a patient requiring comprehensive nursing care when it is in the best interests of the patient to receive medical or paramedical treatment away from the bed.
The scheme requires payment of the supplementary benefit, like the existing nursing home benefit, to the proprietor of the home, who is required to offset it against the amount of the nursing home charge. In planning the administration of this new benefit, the opportunity was taken to review the legal requirements as to certification by medical practitioners for the purposes of paying the present nursing home benefit. Currently the Act requires that applications by proprietors of nursing homes for payment should be accompanied by a monthly medical certificate for each patient. It is now proposed that for payment of the ordinary benefit a medical certificate shall be required only on admission and then each 6 months thereafter. So far as the supplementary benefit is concerned it is proposed only to require a medical certificate for the purpose of approving the patient for the benefit. The additional benefit is expected to cost about $15m, in a full year.
The third scheme, in providing a benefit of $1.50 a day in respect of handicapped children, breaks new ground in the Commonwealth social welfare programme. In making this benefit available the Government has had regard to the fact that the extra financial assistance will materially assist religious and charitable organisations in their efforts to care for children who are unfortunate enough to need special care in a sheltered environment. The benefit recognises that handicapped children in their formative years need constant medical or nursing supervision as well as specialised education and training.
The benefit is payable to the proprietor of an approved handicapped persons home in respect of each handicapped child under the age of 16 years who is accommodated in the home and it must be offset against any charges made by the home. Approvals are to be restricted to homes conducted on a non-profit basis by religious or charitable bodies. The new benefit will apply both to physically and mentally handicapped children up to 16 years of age, being the age at which persons in handicapped persons homes are usually entitled to an invalid pension. The scheme is expected to cost $600,000 in a full year. I commend the Bill to the Senate.
Debate (on motion by Senator Ormonde) 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 Bill will give effect to the Government’s decision to increase the bounty on phosphoric fertiliser manufactured and sold in Australia for use as fertiliser. Over much of Australia the soils have a low phosphorus status and a low nitrogen status. In the better rainfall parts of southern Australia the most efficient way of overcoming these problems has been to apply superphosphate to pastures containing legumes, notably subterranean clover. Application of superphosphate is also a payable and virtually essential proposition in stimulating yield in most cereal growing areas. In addition progress in pasture establishment and grain cropping has opened up the possibility of greatly increased demand for superphosphate throughout the north.
The Phosphate Fertilisers Bounty Act 1963 provided for payment, during the 3 year period from 14th August 1963 of a bounty of $6 per ton of standard superphosphate with a soluble phosphorus pentoxide content falling between 191/2% and 201/2%. Bounty was payable on other specified phosphoric fertilisers, for instance double and triple superphosphate and ammonium phosphate, at the rate of $30 per ton by weight of the phosphorus pentoxide content. In July 1966 the period of the bounty was extended to 31st October 1969. Total bounty payments from 1963 to 30th June 1968 amounted to $1 16.5m.
The bounty was designed to serve a twofold purpose, namely, to encourage greater use of superphosphate as a means of increasing production for export and to reduce costs, particularly in the sheep and wheat industry. There is little doubt that both purposes were achieved. Sales of superphosphate rose rapidly following the introduction of the bounty, from 2.8 million tons in 1962-63 to 4.3 million tons in 1966- 67. Some indication of the impact of the bounty can be gained from the rise in volume of rural production in this period. The Bureau of Agricultural Economics Index of Rural Production rose from 166 in 1962-63 to 198 in 1966-67. Some of the increased rural output can be attributed to other factors but the steady upward trend could not have been maintained without the expansion in the use of superphosphate promoted by the bounty. One of the most significant effects of the bounty was on the area of improved pastures which rose from 41 million acres in 1962-63 to 51 million acres in 1966-67, accounting for approximately 66% of total superphosphate usage.
Expenditure on superphosphate still represents a significant proportion of the cash outlay by primary producers. Surveys by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics show that the average expenditure on fertiliser comprises from 14% to 16% of cash costs in the sheep and wheat industries. The surveys also show that primary producers in general have not reduced their cash outlays on fertilisers. Instead, the lower cost resulting from the bounty enabled them to use greater quantities of fertiliser without additional drain on their working capital.
Although the bounty has been most effective in achieving its purposes, its ability to continue to do so has been affected by unavoidable increases in the prise of phosphate fertilisers since the bounty was introduced. The cost to superphosphate manufacturers of the two major raw materials, rock phosphate and sulphur, increased markedly between 1963-64 and 1967- 68. The average landed cost of rock phosphate was $12.80 per ton in 1963-64; in 1967-68 it was $18.00 per ton. The price of sulphur also rose sharply from $26.50 per ton in 1963-64 to S45.00 per ton in 1967-68. In addition wage levels have risen since 1963-64.
Recently there have been improvements in the rate and cost of extracting Christmas Island rock phosphate together with an easing of world prices for rock phosphate and lower shipping freight charges. These more favourable supply factors led to some reduction in the pooled price of rock phosphate to Australian manufacturers from 1st July 1968. This has been offset in part by a further rise in the price of sulphur. Even so, most manufacturers were able to reduce bulk superphosphate prices by 20c per ton. While helpful, this reduction in price is not sufficient to offset other factors weakening the demand for superphosphate such as the decline in wool prices and the financial difficulties faced by many farmers and graziers as an aftermath of the droughts that have affected major producing areas of five States. As a result of the cost/ price squeeze on rural incomes, the quantity of superphosphate, including the superphosphate equivalent of other phosphatic fertilisers, bought by farmers and graziers in 1967-68 fell to about 4 million tons.
The Government has decided that in the circumstances prevailing some additional incentive is needed to encourage primary producers to continue to expand usage of phosphate fertilisers. The Bill before the Senate provides for an increase to $8 per ton of standard superphosphate; for an increase to S40 per ton of phosphorus pentoxide content in superphosphate other than standard superphosphate; and for a similar increase to the phosphorus pentoxide content of other phosphatic fertilisers. The increased rate of bounty applies to all bountiable fertilisers sold by manufacturers on or after 14l:h August 1968. lt is felt that the increase in bounty provided by this Bill will encourage expanded superphosphate usage since graziers are now more conversant with the management practices entailed by the higher stocking rates needed to utilise fully the fodder available from improved pastures. Furthermore, the breaking of the drought has created conditions favourable to a rapid response by pastures to increased use of superphosphate encouraged by way of a higher rate of bounty.
The Bill further provides that the bounty will continue to 31st October 1971. Extension of the period of bounty to 1971 will enable primary producers to undertake longer range planning of property development. It is anticipated that with the incentive provided by the increase in bounty, sales of phosphate fertiliser will increase to the order of 4.6m tons in 1968-69. Bounty payments on this basis are estimated at $37m or $13m more than in 1967-68.
The benefits expected to result from the continuation of bounty at the increased rate can be put this way. Farmers and graziers will benefit through lower costs of production. The nation will benefit through a continuation in the upward trend in volume of rural output. On the export markets there will be an improvement in the competitive position of our primary products. In Australia there will also be an enhanced incentive to further development of new lands.
The Bill also provides that the weight of approved compounds or other substances containing trace elements when added to superphosphate shall be deemed to be superphosphate for the purposes of the bounty. The trace elements involved are copper, zinc, cobalt, molybdenum, manganese and boron. Over wide areas of Australia these trace elements, either singly or in combination, are essential for successful pastoral or crop production. They are highly effective in specific areas where deficiencies occur and in some instances the treatment does not need to be repeated for several years. The way that the work of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and State Departments of Agriculture has overcome the problem of trace element deficiencies is one of the real success stories in agricultural research in this country. Australian scientists have led the world in these fields of investigation. Senators on both sides of the chamber are aware of the spectacular responses obtained from the use of trace elements in many areas previously thought to be so infertile as to be incapable of economic development.
The almost invariable practice is for trace elements to be incorporated with superphosphate in small quantities per ton of fertiliser. Under the current legislation the farmer receives a lower amount of bounty per ton of superphosphate containing trace elements. By the amendment now proposed, farmers who purchase superphosphate containing approved trace element additives will no longer be disadvantaged by the loss of bounty on that portion of a ton of superphosphate which is replaced by the trace element additive. This amendment is in line with a recommendation of the Export Development Council, which recently examined the role of fertiliser bounties in the development of our rural exports.
The measure to increase bounty assistance to users of phosphoric fertilisers is further evidence of the Government’s determination to foster by all appropriate means the primary industries on which Australia relies for a large part of our export income. The increased bounty will encourage rural output and continued land development in this country.I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wilkinson) adjourned.
Consideration resumed from 6 November (vide page 1751).
Department of National Development
Proposed expenditure, $33,944,000.
Proposed provision, $33,805,000.
– Prior to the adjournment of this debate last night Senator Keeffe asked two questions regarding the disposal of Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority property in the Cooma area. They were: Has a firm offer been made by the New South Wales Government, or has any offer been made by it? What is the attitude of the Commonwealth Government to such an offer? The answer to the first question is that no offer of any sort has been made by the New South Wales Government. In regard to the second question, the Minister for National Development, Mr Fairbairn, expressed the Commonwealth’s attitude quite clearly in the following statement, which he issued on 15th October:
The Government is well aware of the importance to Cooma of alternative employment opportunities when the Authority’s work on the hydro-electric scheme is finished.
T have advised the New South Wales Government and the Cooma Municipal Council that any prospective purchaser of homes and/or industrial land in Cooma should open discussions with the Authority.
The Authority does not have a rigid price foi houses and land it presently owns in Cooma and is authorised to negotiate with a bona fide buyer.
However, it must be clearly understood that the financial provisions of the agreement between the Commonwealth and New SOuth Wales and Victoria preclude the Authority from selling off surplus assets ai ‘giveaway’ prices.
To do so would invite the strongest criticism - quite justifiably - that electricity consumers in Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory were paying for the establishment of industry in New South Wales.
This qualification on price does nol, in my view, mean that the utilisation by industry of the Authority’s surplus facilities in Cooma would be an unattractive proposition.
The Minister emphasised that the belief that 250 to 300 houses would become vacant in Cooma next year was incorrect.
The Authority estimates that houses could become surplus from 1.969 onwards at the rate of about 50 a year.
It would appear that up to 300 houses ultimately could be made available for disposal, some 210 of them in Cooma East.
In addition, it is expected that the Authority’s workshop she at Polo Flat could be made available at the end of 1969 if there were a suitable prospective purchaser.
There is room for negotiation for a ‘package deal’ sale of surplus Snowy Mountains Authority homes and/or industrial land in Cooma.
The next step is for prospective buyers to begin negotiations with the Authority.
– I draw the attention of honourable senators to the fact I hai the purpose of this debate is to make an investigation of the estimates that are before the Committee and that this is not the occasion for the making of a series of second reading speeches. L ask honourable senators to remember that.
– I wish to discuss briefly the question of coal supplies and reserves. I know that yesterday the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar), in answering my colleague Senator Georges, expressed a point of view on the availability of reserves and the safe level of them. I am more interested in the reserves of coking coal than in the general reserves position. Coking coal could be the danger point in the matter of Australian coal reserves, parti cularly when we bear in mind that a good proportion of the best of our coking coal is going to Japan and that the quantities supplied to that country are continually being increased. The general trend in the coal industry is towards export. i ask the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott), who represents the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn), whether he believes thai we are being careful enough in respect of our reserves of coking coal, as a specialised aspect of the coal supplies position, ls a continuous assessment made of what we are selling overseas in relation to what wc have and the requirements of our steel industry? I ask the Minister to take his mind back 10 the period, which he knows so well because he was in the Senate at the time, when we were closing down mines that supplied first class coking coal. Generally they were being closed down because they were uneconomic and old. The colliery owners would not work mines that were uneconomic. But the mines were uneconomic only because of the circumstances and conditions under which they were being operated. It did not mean that all the coal had been removed from them. On the Newcastle and Maitland fields there must still be millions of tons of coking coal under the ground. Generally when a mine was closed down about 50% of the coal was left in it.
Bearing in mind the developments in mining techniques, the improved techniques that are available and the fact that very often coal is more accessible to machines than to men, is the Joint Coal Board examining continually the question of remining in areas in which there are remaining reserves? Although these areas were uneconomic 20 years ago, they are not necessarily uneconomic today. We may come to the time when we will need to work those old mines instead of establishing new mines, as is being done today. The coal owner, characteristically, wants to get the coal out at the lowest price and he does that by using the latest methods possible. 1 should like to know whether the Joint Coal Board has done much about this matter and whether these areas are being considered for re-mining. Over less than 20 years, employment in the industry has dropped lo less than 50% of what il used to be, and 50% of the men employed in mining today are producing three times as much as they produced 15 years ago. It is true that alternative work has been found for the men in the district; this has been done by the development of steel production and that sort of thing, and this is very good. I should like to know whether there has been an upturn in employment.
– I refer to the provision in Division 390 for a contribution towards the expenses of the River Murray Commission, I listened with very great interest to the submissions by Senator Bishop and Senator Laucke with regard to the Chowilla Dam because I understand that the River Murray Commission is at present actively engaged in investigations relating to the provision of a dam at Chowilla or on the Mitta Mitta River in Victoria for the supply of water to South Australia. I compliment those senators upon their vigorous approach to the matter of the provision of water for South Australia but I desire to offer some views. Especially do I want to refer to what Senator Bishop said, as reported at page 1727 of Hansard:
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?
I think that Senator Bishop is not assistting the Commonwealth and the State of South Australia by suggesting lifting the matter from the technical level. In my estimation the provision of the best water for South Australia at the lowest cost is a question of engineering economics; it is not a political question. The matter is, 1 understand, being studied in the following way: There are two problems. The first is whether Chowilla will provide the most water at the lowest cost. The second is whether it will provide water free of salinity. The first question is being studied, 1 believe at a cost of about $500,000, by the Snowy Mountains Authority, which is doing an extensive exploratory job on the Mitta Mitta River near Dartmouth in Victoria. It was my privilege recently to go to that site and see what was being done. Apart altogether from what the final result will be, I must say that the Snowy Mountains Authority’s employees and officers are doing a very thorough job. I understand that their physical work, their boring work and their calculations will be completed towards the end of the year and the results will then be placed before the River Murray Commission.
I understand also that a committee of overseas people is thoroughly investigating the salinity problem as regards both the Dartmouth site and the Chowilla site. If its report is not completely ready by the end of the year it will be at such a state of readiness that an accurate forecast could be made as to what the final report would be. Consequently, I think the Senate must be patient while the results of these two important reports - one on the engineering exploratory work and the other on salinity are being sorted out. I therefore do not think that the matter should be taken from the technical level at all. Both Senator Bishop and Senator Laucke have made an important plea to the Senate but it is not a matter upon which we in the Senate at this point of time can finally agree or give a direction to the Government. The technical reports are all-important. In a month or so (hey will be in hand. I therefore think, with the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott) who represents in the Senate the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn), that this is the important thing to consider.
Sitting suspended from 12.47 to 2.15 p.m.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting 1 was saying that we should study the report relating to the engineering economics of both the Chowilla dam site and the Dartmouth dam site before deliberating further on this matter. When this report is delivered to the River Murray Commission, which sought it, it will then no doubt be available for public debate. The Chowilla project should then, in my opinion, be considered against four fundamental points. Firstly, it was the will of the Parliament, as expressed in 1963, that a dam be built at Chowilla. This means that there is a prima facie case for constructing a dam at Chowilla. In addition, that was also the will of three other parliaments. Admittedly, the estimated cost of the project discussed at that time was $28m. The estimated cost now under discussion is in the region of S70m. Of course, a number of important things have occurred since the estimate of $28m was put forward. A far more exacting survey has been made since that estimate was prepared. In addition, it is considered that a number of remedial factors have to be introduced into the planning and these were not considered in the first place. Another point is that there has been a general rise in cost. However, the first point is that it was the will of four parliaments in Australia that a dam be built at Chowilla.
Secondly, the matter should be considered from the point of view that a dam at Chowilla would contain about 5 million acre feet of water whereas a dam at Dartmouth would contain only 2 million acre feet. A dam at Chowilla would be 500 miles nearer the people using the water than a dam at Dartmouth. In point of time, the water would be 6 weeks nearer. A dam at Chowilla would mean that the water impounded was in the physical control of the customer - the State of South Australia.
Thirdly, as Senator Laucke pointed out, a dam at Chowilla would impound the water from all rivers that form part of the Murray system. Chowilla would impound water from the Darling, the Murray, the Mumimbidgee, the Lachlan, the Loddon, the Goulburn and the Mitta Mitta, whereas a dam at Dartmouth would impound only the waters of the Mitta Mitta. The fourth point is that should a dam be constructed at Dartmouth to impound 2 million acre feet of water, about 20 minutes after being released that same water would be impounded by the Hume Weir. The water would be dammed again within a matter of a few minutes after being released. The Dartmouth site is only 20 or 30 miles from the Hume Weir. I believe we should consider this project when the engineering reports are to hand. I have indicated the points on which I will base such a consideration.
– Does not the honourable senator agree with the Premier of his State of South Australia that we should proceed now?
– I am not discussing the Premier of South Australia. I am referring to what I believe is the correct approach to be adopted to this matter. We are considering an engineering project aimed at obtaining the best and purest water for South Australia in the quantity that that State is entitled to have. These are the points which 1 consider we should deal with when discussing this project.
– 1 also wish to refer to the Chowilla dam project, because it is an important matter and is an important item in the Estimates. I disagree entirely with Senator Laught and I believe that this is the place to say so. This matter was debated in March 1967 when I, on behalf of the Opposition, introduced it as a matter of urgency. The then Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Henty, said that he expected the technical reports on the Chowilla project to be available before the end of 1967. He said then that the question was not solely one of cost; it was a matter of cost plus technical problems that arose because of the cost. The strange thing about the Chowilla project is that the present Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn), who has criticised the project, had this to say about it in another place on 23rd October 1963: lt was arranged by these four governments that the commission should carry out a full investigation of a proposal advanced by the South Australian Government that a major storage should be provided on a site known as Chowilla on the lower Murray. . . .
Further on he said:
The commission carried out a comprehensive and complex investigation which I do not propose to describe here, lt confirmed-
And these are the words of the Minister for National Development who now says that there are great doubts about the project - that in the event of past seasonal conditions recurring the restrictions on the requirements of the States could be such as to bring about serious capital losses. The River Murray Commission investigated the possibility of other storages and a number of ways in which water might be stored. It came to the conclusion that a major storage at Chowilla, constructed and operated as a Commission project, was the best solution. The Commonwealth, after considering the Commission’s report, convened a meeting of the four governments involved.
In 1961, Senator Spooner, who was then the Minister for National Development, reported that the Commonwealth Government had approved of the project. He referred to the fact that it had been carefully investigated. He said that the River Murray Commission was a unique organisation composed of leading irrigation engineers from South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales with a Commonwealth Minister as chairman. Senator Spooner served for a record term as chairman, having served in that capacity since 1950. This is what Senator Spooner said on 17th October 1961 about the Chowilla project:
After careful consideration of reports and surveys which had been made by the River Murray Commission and the experts from the United States Army Corps of Engineers - they are now said to be specialists in this field - Senator Spooner, the then Minister for National Development, said that the scheme was a valid one. The examinations were made and the project was approved. He commended the scheme to the Parliament, as did a former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies. On 23rd March of this year. Mr Fairbairn went into reverse gear. On that date, this statement appeared in the Press in Adelaide:
The Chowilla Dam project was overdesigned and uneconomical
That statement is credited to the present Minister for National Development who, amongst other things, is also reported as having said:
Although the Chowilla Dam was the specific subject of an agreement between the Commonwealth and the States, the Minister said the Commission had unanimously decided to defer the work because of the escalation of costs from about J28m in 1963 10 $70ra in 1967.
Not only those Opposition senators who took part in the debate, but also Senator Mattner staled emphatically that in their opinion the project was being stalled because of cost. If it had been started earlier when the cost was estimated at $28m, the ultimate cost now probably would not have been as high as $70m. I remind the Senate that when the Commission reported on the increase in costs, it stated that probably the project could be scaled down to save approximately $l0m. It should be remembered that at that time when a debate took place the Commonwealth Government proposed special grants to Western Australia, the home State of Senator Scott, who rep resents the Minister for National Development in the Senate, and to Queensland, for water conservation works. Only last night Senator Scott spoke about the great work this Government had done in assisting water conservation projects. Earlier this year, on 26th March, the Minister for National Development is reported in the Adelaide Advertiser’ as follows:
The Minister for National Development. (Mr Fairbairn) told the House of Representatives today that he expected a decision on the Chowilla Dam to be made on 24th April.
So the matter dragged on to December 1967.
– But negotiations have been taking place.
– I am glad the honourable senator raised that. Senator Laught criticised me when I argued that this was a matter for negotiation. The Commonwealth Minister has said that the project was technically possible and that the project was stalled only because of cost. The Commonwealth Government had already given New South Wales the sum of $5m to carry out certain preparatory work on the Chowilla scheme but. it would seem that it now wanted to back pedal out of its agreement with the Stales in view of the increase in costs. This is obviously a matter in which there must be some agreement between the States and the Commonwealth as to financial accommodation. This was a great national project. The Commonwealth Minister for National Development had applauded the scheme. In those circumstances, 1 would have expected the Minister to have said: This is a scheme which we applaud. Our Government applauds it. The Prime Minister has said it was good and Senator Spooner applauded it when he was Minister. Therefore, let us see if we can find a solution to this problem.’ As 1 pointed out yesterday, Mr Dunstan, then Premier of South Australia, proposed the holding of a conference between the State Ministers and the Federal Minister. He came to Canberra from South Australia to consult the Minister on his own initiative. No facilities were offered to him to arrange a round table conference to discuss this complex issue.
While further evaluation of the project was taking place, the Minister for National Development took it upon himself to say that the scheme in fact was no good. He made it quite clear that in his opinion it looked as though the Chowilla Dam site was not the best under the circumstances. To support that statement I read the following report published in the Adelaide Advertiser’ on 18th September of this year:
Chowilla did not appear to be the best site for the Murray River Dam to supply water for South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales, the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) said in the House of Representatives today.
He is reported as having said this in answer to a question by Mr Wilson, the Liberal member from South Australia. On three occasions this Minister had said in the Parliament that the project was a sound one, then, while the proposal was being further considered, he decided to put the project on the stocks. We know that the reason why he condemned it was the increased cost. In view of all this, I cannot understand why Senator Laught, who knows of the pressure being exerted in South Australia, should speak in the way he did today. He knows that the South Australian Government, even though it is now a Liberal Government, is anxious to have the scheme started. It was certainly the clear intention of the Dunstan Labor Government, when it sought to arrive at some financial arrangement with the Commonwealth Government, not to stall the scheme but to get it going. I do not criticise Senator Cavanagh for having adopted the attitude that be has adopted on this subject because this is probably a matter that should be determined by the Parliament. I understand that the Parliament of South Australia is likely to pass a unanimous vote affirming that the Chowilla Dam ought to be built.
Yesterday, I mentioned that I could not understand why the State Government had not taken a more militant attitude on this matter. If it did so, the Opposition in this Senate would then be obliged to test the feelings of Government supporters. I know that Senator Mattner supported the project. I know that Senator Davidson will not mind my saying that in the debate of March 1967 he had the same sort of reservations on this subject as Senator Laught expressed today.
Senator Laucke has made it clear since entering his chamber that he supports the project. I remind the Senate that the promotion committee which has been set up is not a partisan committee. It has been set up by a group of people including representatives of the Commonwealth Government, Mr Hudson, Labor member for Glenelg in the South Australian Parliament, Sir Thomas Playford who took an active part in the negotiations leading up to the agreement, and myself.
This is a very important matter. Although the Minister for Customs and Excise has answered many questions about it, I do suggest that he should take back to the Minister for National Development, whom he represents here, the representations we are making now in a reasonable way. 1 hope that when the matter is again discussed in the Senate, we will move in this Parliament a motion similar to that which we moved in March 1967 when we raised the Chowilla issue as a matter of urgency.
Senator scott (Western AustraliaMinister for Customs and Excise) [2.37] - Senator Ormonde referred to the large amounts of coking coal being exported from Australia at the present time and asked whether we had sufficient reserves to keep up this trade. He asked whether we were looking at the question of reserves. The present measured reserves of coking coal in New South Wales amount to about 1,000 million tons. In Queensland more than 250 million tons have been blocked out as confirmed reserves, but we must realise that in addition to that there are huge reserves, particularly in Queensland, running in a continuous line for 200, 300 and up to 500 miles and new operations are being developed for the exploitation of those reserves. Their full extent has not as yet been calculated. I would therefore say to the honourable senator that there is no need to worry in the immediate future about the reserves of coking coal in Australia.
The other question which the honourable senator asked related to the possibility of opening up old mines that were discarded prior to the advent of modern machinery, and the sale overseas of coal from them. There has been a tendency already for mines in the Cessnock field to be reopened when modern methods make that practicable. That is the present position.
The honourable senator asked a question in relation to the employment of workers in coal mines in New South Wales. I have certain figures which 1 am sure will1 be of interest to him. Employment in New South Wales coal mines reached a peak of about 21,000 in 1954. Between 1954 and 1965, as a result of mechanisation, employment was reduced to just over 11,000. It was almost halved in 10 years. At the same time production increased considerably. Since 1965 employment has been increasing steadily and the rate of increase is accelerating. At the end of June 1968 the number employed was 12,749 and this increased to 12,841 by 7th September 1968, an increase of almost 100 in just over 10 weeks. For the 12 months from September 1967 to September 1968 the increase was 611. The market is such that it is expected that this trend will continue.
Both Senator Laught and Senator Bishop referred to the Chowilla Dam. I commend Senator Laught because he commenced his remarks by saying that honourable senators were likely to take this subject from the technical arena and place it in the political arena. I should hope that would never happen because it is vital in the interests of South Australia, and in fact of Australia as a whole, that the River Murray Commission, which as we all know consists of representatives of four governments who have an equal say and interest, should be allowed, without the intervention of politics, to make a firm determination on what quantity of the purest and best water can be made available to South Australia and from where that water can be obtained.
Senator Laught mentioned that the Dartmouth Dam would have a capacity of only 2 million acre feet whereas the Chowilla Dam had a capacity of some 5 million acre feet. With respect I say to him that it is not the quantity of water in a dam that counts; it is the amount of water that can be distributed from it that is important, in other words, the important point is not the amount of water that a dam can hold at any one particular period; it is the amount of water which can be obtained from that dam over 1 2 months. In those circumstances it is thought that the Chowill’a Dam and the Dartmouth Dam would give the same yield.
Senator Bishop went back to 1961 and traced the position through to the present time. I do not propose to enter that area. The Snowy Mountains Authority will give good technical advice to the River Murray
Commission and the Commission, in its wisdom, will make the necessary recommendations to the various governments concerned on where the dam should be built.
Senator georges (Queensland) [2.40] - I refer again to Division 400 - Joint Coal Board. Yesterday in my questions I expressed concern about the conservation of our mineral resources, including coal. The answer I received from the Minister - it was not Senator Scott who is at present at the table - was to the effect that he could not understand my concern about whether Australia was depleting its coal resources and he assured me that there was no immediate danger, or any danger as far as could be foreseen, of that occurring. He went on to tell me that a survey of our resources is being carried out continuously by the Bureau of Mineral Resources. Today Senator Scott, replying to a similar question from Senator Ormonde, indicated that there was no danger of depleting our coal resources and that the matter should hot cause concern.
There is a conflict between what the Ministers have said and’ the reports on this subject that are available from time to time. I have before me volume 21, No. 4, of Canberra Survey’ of 18th April 1968 in which it is stated:
The Joint Coal Board (an instrument of the Commonwealth and New South Wales governments) has said that if export policy on coking coal is not based on a better knowledge of reserves, the future growth of local manufacturing industry may well be restricted.
If the Minister has not read this publication I suggest that he undertake to read at least the four pages which deal with the future of coal in Australia. Under the heading ‘Limited Reserves’ the article goes on:
By world standards, Australia’s coal reserves (including those not yet measured) are almost infinitesimal. They are thought, to total only about 12,000 million tons or about 0.17% of the estimated world reserves.
Even more recently the publication ‘Inside Canberra’ of 1 0th October 1968 had this to say:
Two world authorities on fuel resources have strongly advised the Commonwealth to restrict exports of high grade coal. They have just completed a survey of Australian fuel resources for a major United States company. Their conclusions have been made available privately to the Australian Government.
That is the aspect about which we are seeking information. The article goes on:
They are in line with the views of the Joint Coal Board which the Government so far has ignored.
Is there truth in that statement? The article continues:
The American experts stressed that Australia, by exporting top grade coal to Japan at keenly competitive prices, was wasting a key natural resource. They claimed that within 25 years first grade coal would be at an immense premium internationally, mainly for non-fuel uses . . . The coal experts’ advice is in line with the thinking of some senior Ministers and Government advisers who have repeatedly warned that Australia was selling its resources too cheaply in order to boost export income.
Those statements are in direct conflict with the answers the two Ministers have given to questions asked in this chamber. This kind of article causes concern to members of the Opposition. Are we properly supervising our national resources? Have we given thought to the future? I am not thinking of next year or the year after; I am thinking of 50 years or maybe 100 years ahead, which is only a short span in the industrial development of a nation. I ask the Minister: Is the Joint Coal Board concerned about this problem? What steps are being taken to see that our coal resources are not being depleted?
Senator scott (Western Australia - Minister for Customs and Excise) [2.45] - I am obliged to Senator Georges for the information he has supplied. I did not quite catch the name of the references from which he quoted.
– One is the ‘Canberra Survey’ and the other is ‘Inside Canberra’. I obtained them from the Parliamentary Library.
– Information is supplied to the Department by the Joint Coal Board and the Bureau of Mineral Resources. Those are the official sources of this information. In answer to a question last night, Senator McKellar said that New South Wales has about 3,000 million tons of recoverable reserves of coal. If Senator Georges looks at the twentieth annual report of the Joint Coal Board, and particularly the last column in the table on page 170, he will see that it describes three deposits in New South Wales as being very large deposits, which means they each exceed 10,000 million tons.
– I wish to refer again to a number of questions I asked last night and also to ask some further questions. I would like to know why the Minister has not supplied answers to the questions I asked in relation to Division 392. 1 refer particularly to subdivision 1, items 01 and 02, and subdivision 2, items 01, 02, 03 and 05. I would also like to know why the Minister gave such skimpy information in relation to item 04. I have also not received a reply to the questions 1 asked in relation to subdivision 3, items 01 and 06. In relation to Division 396 I also asked the Minister for details of the oil subsidy of 811,711,120 that was paid last year out of a total allocation of $11,800,000 and how the allocation of $llm for this year will be disposed of. I asked some of these questions twice last night but have not yet received a reply. I would like to know why I have not received a reply to item 09 under Division 394. I also asked a question about how many areas of sirex wasp infestation nave been found and in which States. I requested information on the damage caused by the sirex wasp and received information on the amount made available by the Government on the elimination or control of the sirex wasp. 1 seek additional information in relation to the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. Why is the proposed expenditure set out under the one bulk heading and not in detail? For instance, if one reads the annual report of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission one will see that quite a number of headings are set out. Page 9 of that report under ‘Introduction and Summary’ refers to the world wide revival of activity in the search for uranium and so on. 1 ask: What amount of Commonwealth money has been expended on surveys and on a search for markets? The other day a Minister inferred that there would be neither stockpiling nor manufacture of nuclear weapons in Austrafia. What has the Government spent on nuclear power? Has it spent any money at all on stockpiling nuclear weapons anywhere in Australia? If so, where are these weapons stockpiled? Honourable senators opposite may laugh at my question, but the hawks amongst them are most anxious for Australia to manufacture its own nuclear deterrent and are doing everything possible to ensure that it is done.
Page 11 of the Commission’s annual report under the heading ‘International’ states:
The Commission was involved in an examination of the implications for Australia of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
It is unfortunate, of course, that Australia is not a member of the Eighteen Nations Disarmament Committee. I would like to know how much money has been spent on nuclear weapons. I assume that because the Commission’s annual report refers to this aspect any money spent is included under Division 402.
A fellow senator from Queensland, Senator Lawrie, who is a member of the Australian Country Party, complained that I was not at the official opening of the Maraboon Dam. My inquiries have revealed that no senator from Queensland who is a member of the Australian Labor Party received an invitation to attend this very select function. The Minister flew in with his wife and children and landed in the area to open the Maraboon Dam. Perhaps the Minister could explain why this congenial gathering was so restricted. In this morning’s ‘Daily Telegraph’ - and I believe in other newspapers - the Minister for National Development is reported to have directed attention to certain errors and misapprehensions in relation to a survey that is to be carried out on the Great Barrier Reef.
– To what appropriation is the honourable senator referring?
– I imagine my remarks would come under Division 392. This survey is to be carried out by a Japanese-owned vessel. I was under the impression that the Japanese would receive the greatest benefit from this survey but the Minister, if he has been correctly reported, has denied this because the article in this morning’s ‘Daily Telegraph’ states:
The joint Australian-Japanese study programme indicates that the main Japanese interest is in photography, and this will be conducted on only a limited area of the reef, Mr Fairbairn said.
On the other hand, the biological and geological programmes to be conducted are sponsored by, and will be done by, Australian scientists.’
The Japanese scientists will, on request, collaborate with Australian scientists on particular aspects of the Australian research programme.
Will the Minister advise me of the total amount of money allocated for this survey?
Will he also advise me whether it is allocated under Division 392? Those are the questions I pose. I hope that replies will be forthcoming and that the questions will not be glossed over by the Minister in the same manner as they were last night. The only question answered of those I have placed before him was the one for which he supplied an answer prior to the suspension of the sitting for lunch.
– Senator Keeffe has asked a lot of questions - more than twenty I suppose- and I have taken a note of some of them- My advisers inform me that some of his questions were answered very fully last night.
– Which ones?
– As I was not in the chamber, I cannot say. I will now reply to some of the questions that l have taken a note of. Firstly, I refer to the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. The proposed expenditure under the Atomic Energy Act for running expenses is $9.934m. A comparison of the estimates for 1968-69 and the appropriation and .expenditure for 1967- 68 is as foi lows:,. The .estimate for 1968- 69 is $9.934m, the .appropriation for 1 967-68 was $9.488m and. the expenditure for 1967-68 was $9.488m. The estimate of expenditure for 1968-6? under general headings of expenditure is made up as follows: Salaries and payments in the nature of salary, $337,000, compared with an expenditure of $322,000 in 1967-68; general expenses, $125,000, compared with $133,000 for last year; external research and training, $286,000, compared with $285,000 for last year; information services, $40,000, compared with $30,000 for last year; exploration, $370,000, and it was $370,000 last year; research establishments, $4.620m, compared with $4.768m last year; general expenses, $412,000, compared with $416,000 last year; power, water and heating, $205,000, as against $201,000; reactor supplies, $551,000,’ as against $200,000; stores, $810,000, as against $859,000; engineering services, $581,000, as against $524,000; and. the Rum Jungle project, $1,450,000, compared with $1,524,000 last year. In addition, $1,680,000 has been provided for buildings, works, plant and equipment under Division 865, subdivision 3.
Details of the estimates and explanatory notes have been prepared by the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. The honourable senator can rest assured that we are not stockpiling nuclear weapons in Australia.
– Red China has them all.
– That is right. The honourable senator referred to Maraboon Dam and asked why invitations were not extended by the Commonwealth to members of Parliament and particularly, I presume, to honourable senators. I advise him that invitations in this instance were extended by the Queensland Irrigation Commission and therefore the Commonwealth did not come into the picture. As to the other questions, in view of the fact that some of them were asked last night and I have not the details of all of them, may I take it that the honourable senator would be satisfied if I were to take notice of the questions as they appear in Hansard and answer them in detail when the consideration of the estimates for this Department is completed?
– Frankly, I am net satisfied with the Minister’s attitude. Questions were asked last night and to one of them particularly, information should be readily available from the Bureau of Mineral Resources. This was a matter related to the subsidy for the search for oil which comes under Division 396. Why can we not have the names of the firms and the individuals to whom the subsidy has been paid and why can we not know how much has been paid? Are these state secrets? Is there such a tie-up with the oil cartels that the Government is afraid to give this information? This was a simple question and the answer to it should be available after almost 15 hours. When I asked the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) for certain details last night he went to some trouble and was able to provide the information, but these were the only questions which were properly replied to last night. I regret that the Minister at the table has not been able to provide answers in the same detail.
May I through you, Mr Temporary Chairman, have an assurance from the Minister that he will do as he says and provide the details as soon as possible, that it will not be scrubbed off as it was last year and the year before when the information was never given? I disagree with the Minister when he says that information has been supplied in relation to the points which I have raised again today. The information has not been given. If the Minister looks at the appropriate section of Hansard he will see no reference to these matters. It is true that the Minister for Repatriation replied to most of the questions that were asked, but I have received replies to only two of the matters that I raised last night. If I receive an assurance from the Minister that these matters will not be dodged and will be replied to I will accept that assurance.
– The first part of the question asked by the honourable senator sought information on amounts made available as a subsidy for the search for oil. First I should inform the honourable senator that we are quite happy to answer any question on which we have information available, but I remind him that it is very difficult to answer a series of questions which are rattled off one after the other. That gives us no opportunity to get the information promptly. In this event it is necessary to pick the questions out of Hansard and then seek information. If the honourable senator were to pose his questions two or three at a time we would be able to answer them as we went along, but I am not able to answer twenty questions in the time that it takes to snap one’s fingers, nor is it possible for the officers advising me to provide information as quickly as that. But reverting to the question about the subsidy payable on the search for oil, the Minister for National Development makes monthly statements as to the subsidies approved and the subsidies paid and these statements are publicised. An annual report is tabled in the House giving particulars of subsidies approved and subsidies paid during the year. The report for 1967-68 has been prepared but has not yet been tabled.
– I refer to the proposed expenditure for the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, but before I proceed perhaps the Minister could inform me whether the matters that I propose to raise have been dealt with earlier in the debate. My question relates to studentships and scholarships in the Atomic Energy Commission.
– This has not been dealt with.
– I thank the Minister for that information. I have before me the interim statement of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission which shows that for the year ended 30th June 1968 an appropriation was made for studentships and scholarships, but that in 1966-67 and 1967-68 no expenditure was made for this purpose. I should like the Minister to inform me whether there is any provision for this year and I should like him to explain why there has been no expenditure under this head in the past several years. I remind him that section 17 of the Atomic Energy Act sets out the functions of the Commission and states that one function is to arrange for the training of scientific research workers, the establishment and award of scientific research studentships and fellowships, and matters associated with uranium or atomic energy. So it seems to be a function of the Commission to award studentships and scholarships and yet we see that for several years, apparently, there has been no expenditure for that purpose. I should like to know whether any provision has been made for the current year and why it is that that function of the Commission has not been carried out in the past several years.
– Since 1966-67 no figures have been available relating to studentships and scholarships. It is now the practice of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission to give grants in aid for research. Last year the grants amounted to $285,347 and in the previous year they amounted to $286,068.
Senator murphy (New South WalesLeader of the Opposition) [3.5] - Perhaps I could intervene to say that I am aware of that. I have noted the figures provided for individual studentships. The provision is set out in the Act as one of the functions of the Commission, to make grants in aid of research into matters associated with uranium or atomic energy. I think that it is provided in section 17 (i). But there is a separate and specific function of the Com mission in relation to the studentships, which is quite a different matter from giving a grant in aid of research to someone else. There seems to be a specific function for the training of scientific research workers and the establishment and award of scientific research studentships as well as fellowships. It seems that there has been no carrying out of that function by the Commission. I appreciate what the Minister has said about grants in aid of research but that is not something which is a substitute for the specific function of awarding studentships for the training of scientific research workers. Is any provision being made for this year, or is the Commission again to fail to carry out that function?
– So far as I am aware no provision is made for studentships and scholarships this year. As I mentioned before, we give grants in aid of research. We have iri fact at the establishment facilities for -providing this type of education for the people who are interested, not only in the government field of employment, but also’ for private enterprise.
– I wish to refer to Division .396 - Bureau of Mineral Resources. Yesterday, I asked a series of questions to which I have not received replies. I asked: How much research is being carried out by the Bureau on leases controlled by private firms? How much is the Bureau 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? I am serious in asking these questions. I think it is grossly unfair for the experts of the Department to carry out searches throughout Australia, to be : responsible for finding great areas of mineral resources but to receive no credit in return. It is difficult enough for a man like Mr Dunn who, I think, was responsible for disclosing the wealth of Groote Eylandt. It must be terribly disheartening to the Bureau to see information of this type passed over to a private company to exploit the whole of the area while the Government receives only 5% in royalties and the Aboriginals receive another 5%. i believe that the men in the field should receive some return. If they were private prospectors and discovered a rich field of uranium possibly they would be able to sell their find for a very large sum; but a man who does research as an employee of the Bureau receives no benefit. Possibly he could be awarded a bonus for the work he carries out. For instance, if an investigator employed in the Sales Tax Section of the Taxation Branch recovers money in respect of evaded taxes, he receives a commission. Surely as the Bureau is carrying out all this research at great expense and using its experts, it should receive some return from the companies that exploit the finds. Surely the men responsible for the finds should receive some return.
– Senator Georges has raised a question of policy. The Government has established the Bureau of Mineral Resources which helps private enterprise throughout Australia to find minerals, and carries out research for private companies. That is the way the Bureau functions. The honourable senator has asked today a number of questions about finds that have been made and the associated costs. Those figures are not readily available. The honourable senator’s questions are more suitable to be directed as questions on notice and answered by the Department at a later date. I cannot give the answers off the cuff. If the honourable senator wishes to write out his questions and place them on the notice paper, I shall get detailed and specific answers for him.
– When I spoke a few minutes ago, I tried as nicely as possible to obtain from the Minister a promise that he would supply information on certain points I had raised. I appreciate that the Minister referred to Division 396 and told me where I could get certain information. But after giving a lengthy explanation he said that the report is not yet printed. This is utterly stupid. This is what happens in respect of a great many matters because the Estimates are debated when the latest reports are not available. We have no chance to examine them. In these circumstances the only way we can get the information is to raise queries during the course of the debate on the Estimates and to ask the Minister to get the information for us. I do not want to drive the Minister’s advisers up the wall. They are having enough trouble with the Minister, anyway, but I expect when asking reasonable questions to be able to receive sensible answers.
When I earlier referred to certain divisions I asked the Minister whether he would obtain information for me. I asked him whether he would give me an assurance that he would and in that event I would not pursue the matter any further. The Minister evaded giving a direct answer. Can I please have a direct answer - yes or no? Will the Minister get the information for me?
– I previously told the honourable senator that the figures in respect of the subsidies paid for oil exploration and the names of the parties to whom the payments are made are given every month by the Minister. i cannot go any further than to tell the honourable senator that the full report for this year has not as yet been tabled. The honourable senator has said that he is having great difficulty in getting information from me. I said earlier that if he wished to ask questions in batches of two or three we would endeavour to obtain answers for him. I said that if he did not want to adopt that course I would give an assurance that we would answer at a later date every question he has asked, because we cannot do that now. If the honourable senator will ask his questions in batches of two or three we will endeavour to give answers to them straight off the cuff. If we cannot do that, we will obtain the information. If the honourable senator does not wish to follow that course, we will supply all the answers at a later date.
– Let us get this sorted out. I have explained to the Minister that most of my queries were asked last night. I am not going to ask them again in detail now. If I follow that course we will still be debating the Estimates on Christmas Day. When I asked my questions last night in respect of Division 392 I pointed out that an amount of less than $600,000 is appropriated for the current year for the Northern Division. I said at the time that I wanted complete information about each of the items appearing in Division 392. That was many hours ago. With all due respect, I suggest that if I start to ask questions now in detail in batches of two or three it will be unfair to the advisers to the Minister and will unduly delay the debate on the estimates of this Department. I take it that the Minister has given me an assurance now that the information will be supplied in writing within the next few days. If I have that assurance, I am prepared to stop.
– I also want the information in the unpublished report on subsidies.
– Will the Minister give that assurance?
Proposed expenditure and proposed provision noted.
Department of Shipping and Transport
Proposed expenditure, $74,141,000.
Proposed provision, $45,790,000.
– I refer firstly to the appropriation of $123,000 for professional services under Division 480. What constitutes ‘professional services’? What is that money for? The subsidy for the shipping service to Papua and New Guinea has been reduced from $400,000 to $68,000. I thought it had been discontinued. I would like to know what is the policy in relation to it. The appropriation for the promotion of road safety practices is $234,000. I would like to know what special arrangements exist between the Department of Shipping and Transport and the National Association of Australian State Road Authorities in this field. I know that in the past a certain amount of money has been allocated, to the States for their work. I would like to know how much money has been so allocated and whether there is a requirement that the States do certain work in the field of road safety. My overall question is: What moves are being made to achieve uniform licence and road laws in the States? What is the latest report on this matter?
I propose to refer in greater detail to the appropriation for the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads under Division 482, which has been reduced from $650,000 last year to $550,000 this year; the appropriation for ship construction under Division 486, in respect of which I wish to refer to the request for financial accommodation in respect of the Whyalla shipyard and the amount of subsidy being paid to the Port Adelaide shipyard for the construction of vessels registered in Panama; and the appropriations for railways under Divisions 490 and 891.
Because of the time that has been taken in this Estimates debate, I do not intend to repeat the arguments that have been advanced at length in the other place in respect of the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads. Some very good contributions have been made in regard to it. I refer particularly to the outstanding item which has been mentioned in the other place not only by Opposition speakers but also by members of the Government parties. When does the Government intend to allow reports by the Bureau to come before the Parliament so that the expenditure of the money appropriated by the Parliament can be watched and can be seen to be made correctly instead of being subject only to decisions by the Minister for Shipping and Transport? When the Government introduced the legislation to set up the Bureau it refused to accept an Opposition proposal that the reports should be presented to the Parliament. Quite a deal has been said about this point in the other place. I do not intend to elaborate on it. No doubt the Minister and his Department are well aware of the arguments.
Some of the recommendations made by the Senate Select Committee on the Container Method of Handling Cargoes impinged on the activities of the Bureau of Roads. The Committee suggested a number of projects that the Bureau might undertake. For example, recommendation No. 10 reads:
The Commonwealth Bureau of Roads should conduct a survey of roads which could be altered to permit the carriage of loads, and the operation of vehicles, in excess of existing permissible limits, and the possible cost of such alteration.
The Committee also stated in its report: a co-ordinating body such as the Commonwealth Department of Shipping and Transport, combining with the transport section of the Department of Trade and Industry and the National Materials Handling Bureau, should attempt as far as possible to cull out the areas of legislative provision most concerned in the total concept of container transport and handling and recommend what amendments they believe will be necessary.
Part of that work could be done by the Bureau of Roads. I would like to know what consideration the Department of Shipping and Transport has given to the recommendations made by the Select Committee since they were reported to the Senate. What has happened to the recommendations of the Select Committee insofar as they affect the Department of Shipping and Transport and the Bureau of Roads? They were particularised and specific recommendations. Have they been considered? If they have been considered, is any action proposed?
In regard to the appropriation for ship construction under Division 486, 1 refer to a problem which is being met in the shipping industry at the present time and which has been the subject of representations to the Government by the maritime unions separately and through the Australian Council of Trade Unions. The problem relates to the large number of foreign vessels which are plying around the Australian coast at the present time and which the Government is permitting, carrying foreign crews whose conditions are much less favourable than those of Australian seamen. At the same time as this is happening, some Australian seamen are finding it difficult to obtain permanent employment. This matter has been the subject of representations to the Department and the Minister. I do not intend to argue it at any great length, because of time and the fact it was canvassed elsewhere. I understand from the Minister’s replies that I have seen that the argument is that this situation has to exist because no Australian ships are available. I want to know whether a solution of this problem has been found which will ensure that the existing foreign vessels will be released from the coastal trade and that provision will be made for specially chartered vessels or a programme of ship construction.
While I am speaking on this matter I want to mention two points quickly. At the present time, when Australian shipyard workers are finding it fairly difficult to obtain continuity of work in ship construction, we are allowing some ship construction work to go outside Australia. I refer to the arrangements made for the construction of a vessel for the Australian National Line and repairs in foreign dockyards. I want to know why in these circumstances the Government refused financial accommodation for BHP’s Whyalla shipyard. BHP requested fairly reasonable financial arrangements, which were not inconsistent with those made overseas and which would allow it to extend its slipway, thus allowing it to construct vessels larger than 48,000 tons. There is an obvious need in Australia today for one or more of our shipyards to be able to construct vessels of up to 200,000 tons. The Whyalla shipyard did not ask for a grant; it asked only for accommodation based on the sort of financial arrangements that have been made with ship construction firms in every other country. But the request has been refused. The result is that our Australian shipyards are being forced to compete, on a disabled basis, with overseas shipyards. I ask whether there has been any fresh consideration by the Government of this request. It has been refused up until now. 1 would like to know whether the Minister has reviewed the matter.
Senator lillico (Tasmania) [3.25]- i direct my remarks to the provision in Division 480 for financial assistance in relation to the shipping service between Melbourne and King Island. I should like to know what form that assistance takes. I believe that it is in the form of a freight subsidy. I notice that this year it is proposed to reduce the amount by $20,000. Does this mean that the assistance is provided in reducing amounts? Is the assistance to be provided for a limited period? What interests me concerning this project is the idea of building a harbour at King Island capable of taking a much bigger ship. I believe that an undertaking has been given by Captain Houfe that if that is done he will institute a service from Melbourne to King Island to Stanley, in Tasmania. It seems to me that if that were done it would be an ideal service for the people on King Isl’and in that it would provide the much needed link between Tasmania and King Island. I believe an investigation was to have been made of a proposition to build such a port on King Island. I should like to know whether that investigation is under way and whether it is nearing completion. Will the Minister indicate just what the attitude of the Commonwealth would be towards the establishment of a new harbour at King Island, because this is very, very badly needed.
– I intend to follow Senator Lillico’s line and confine my remarks to one item. I refer to the provision in Division 480 for the promotion of road safety practices. First, I commend those people who publish the federal bulletin dealing with road safety, which prompts me to ask the Minister whether senators may nominate persons to receive that publication. Just what is the extent of its present distribution? The main point that I want to raise relates to car thefts. The ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of 13th July 1968 reported on a conference of the Australian Transport Advisory Council, consisting of Commonwealth and State Ministers, which was held in Melbourne and which brought down a number of recommendations on road safety. The Ministers expressed concern at the increase in car thefts, agreed that automatic thief-proof locks should be standard equipment and enumerated the features that were necessary. I want to link this report with a submission that I received from Statter Projects Pty Ltd, of St Leonards. With, strong justification that company made the point to me that, laudable as is the objective to get people to support the ideas of the Transport Ministers, if people purchase these various types of automatic thief-proofing devices they are faced with a 15% sales tax. It points out that the price of one such unit - the Centurion automatic ignition lock - is $13.30, but with sales tax removed, this would decrease to $12. I know that it is not the prime responsibility of the Minister for Shipping and Transport to determine the policy of the Treasury but we realise that if we are after any objectives we must more or less offer a carrot to the people as a whole. I therefore make a very strong submission that if we are to see the implementation of the recommendations of the Australian Transport Advisory Council on combating car thefts, this is one of the ways in which we can do it. On the economic side, we know how often somebody steals a car, goes on a mad race, and in the process collides with innocent pedestrians or other motorists.
– They do not steal cars nowadays; they illegally use them.
– Senator Little is a little more polite in his terminology, but 1 think the Committee gets my message in relation to the carnage that can follow the unauthorised use of cars. I leave in the hands of the Minister whether or not we can expect some co-operation from the Treasury as a result of very strong representations by him for the provision of an incentive in the form of removal of sales tax on safety devices such as 1 have mentioned.
– I refer to the provision for the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads under Division 482. Recently I asked a question with regard to the standardisation of traffic laws, and particularly traffic signs. One can go from State to State, and even within one’s own State, and be very confused by the great number of traffic signs. Instead of understanding what a sign is, one has to read what it says. It is high time that people throughout the Commonwealth, irrespective of the State in which they are travelling, were able to look at a sign and know what it means instead of having to read small print when they get close enough, which is often too late. I do emphasise the fact that the Commonwealth should give a lead and directions to the States to see whether some kind of uniformity cannot be arrived at with regard not only to the rules of the road but also to the signs.
The other point I make, to which Senator Bishop referred a while ago, is in regard to containerisation. At the present time there are great variations in the State laws regarding the size of trucks, the tyre loads, the axle loadings, the space between axles and the length of vehicles which are allowed to travel interstate. With the introduction of containerisation, road transport will play its part in the hauling and movement of containers. At the present time it is practically impossible to take a container at maximum capacity from one State to another, although this does not apply in all the areas served. To give an example, there are variations in the tyre load requirements in all States. The front axle loadings vary from a maximum of 4i tons to 6i tons. Some of the States have no limitations. We find that the rear dual axle loadings vary from 13 tons to 16 tons. We also have variations in length from 45 feet to 66 feet. Then again, there are variations between the States in regard to the distance which one axle must be placed from another, so actually we have a confused mess when it comes to haulage laws of the States and the Commonwealth. But if containerisation is to work, this is an area in which it is essential for the Commonwealth and the States to get together and frame a uniform set of road laws for haulage vehicles, because road transport certainly has to play its part in regard to the movement of containers.
The other point to which I wish to refer is the provision for Commonwealth Railways under Division 890. Senator Bishop gave notice that he would be dealing with the Commonwealth Railways. No doubt as a senator representing South Australia he will speak on the same subject I do, but it is interesting to see that the revenue from the Trans-Australian Railway between Port Pirie and Kalgoorlie has risen from $11,941,000 in 1965-66 to $12,800,000 in 1966-67 and $14,400,000 in 1967-68. So there has been a great increase in revenue arising from increased use of the TransAustralian Railway.
We know that the final section of the line between Kalgoorlie and Perth was completed in August. There is now a standard line from Port Pirie to Perth. Arising from the standardisation no doubt we will see greater use made of the TransAustralian Railway. No longer will the journey have to be broken at Kalgoorlie and goods and passengers trans-shipped. We know also that the standard gauge line from Port Pirie tq Broken Hill will soon be finished and that there will then be an unbroken standard gauge line between Perth and Sydney as there now is between Melbourne and Sydney. This will leave Adelaide, and South Australia, out on a limb although it is in the middle of the continent. South Australia is, perhaps, more dependent on local goods production that any other State and freights play an extremely vital part in the economies of its secondary industries. It is essential that the Commonwealth Government give not only consideration but priority to the standardisation of the railway between Port Pirie and Adelaide. I appreciate that the Commonwealth already has provided a grant of $30,000 in order that a survey may be made for a standard gauge line. At the same time I want to stress the point that it is essential that priority be given to building the standard line between those two centres so that South Australia will be connected by the standard gauge railway to the eastern and western parts of the continent. It will then have the same rail haulage opportunities as the other States.
– Senator Young has raised three matters. One of them relates to uniform traffic signs throughout the Commonwealth. This matter is being discussed by the Uniform Traffic Code Committee. I agree with him that as far as possible the same signs should be used throughout the Commonwealth. The honourable senator asked a question yesterday about a uniform traffic code. Following the reply I gave to him then I obtained additional information to the effect that about 95% of the traffic laws in Australia are now uniform. Both ‘ traffic laws and traffic signs are handled by the Uniform Traffic Code Committee, h is dealing with traffic signs at the present time.
Senator Young also ‘ referred to the standard gauge railway line between Sydney and Perth which will be finished, we hope, by the end of 1969 or early 1970. He said it was vital for South Australia that there be a standard gauge line between Adelaide and Port Pirie. Representations on rail standardisation have been made many times to the Commonwealth by State Premiers. The Commonwealth is busily engaged at the moment with the standard gauge line to connect Fremantle and Perth with Brisbane. No doubt this Government, or some future government, will give consideration to what the honourable senator has said: I can make no promises at this stage. ‘
asked a question relating to the manufacture’ of motor vehicles and the sales tax payable on safety features. Road safety is a very important subject and the Commonwealth takes an active part in promoting road safety practices. Since 1947-48 ‘ the Commonwealth each year has provided amounts specifically for public education programmes in the promotion of road safety practices. The annual provision of $200,000 was increased in 1965-66 to’ $300,000 and in 1966-67 to $350,000. Of that latter amount, $116,000 a year is distributed among the States for assistance for local programmes, and the balance of $234,000 is used for the provision of programmes having general application on a national basis and for assistance towards local programmes in the mainland territories. The Commonwealth is taking an active part in the promotion of road safety. I will examine the point the honourable senator raised about sales tax on safety features built into motor vehicles. I cannot answer the question now.
– What about the Federal road safety journal?
– Consideration will be given to what the honourable senator said in order to see what can be done. Senator Bishop raised a series of matters. In one of his questions he asked what notice was being taken by the Department of Shipping and Transport, particularly by the Bureau of Roads, of the report of the Senate Select Committee on the Container Method of Handling Cargoes. Since the report was tabled the Bureau has had several meetings at which the recommendations of the Senate Select Committee were discussed. The recommendations are being carefully studied by the Bureau to see what action it can take. I have no doubt that the Department of Shipping and Transport is also looking into the report.
Turning now to ship construction, I know that Senator Bishop has taken a very keen interest in this activity. He devoted considerable time to the subject in his speech. He suggested that Australian shipyards should be extended so that they will be capable of building ships up to 200,000 tons gross weight. Australian shipyards are building ships up to about 50,000 tons, which is a fair way below the size the honourable senator referred to. However, if such ships were built in Australia I wonder bow many Australian ports would be capable of handling them? The capacity of ports to take large ships is a problem confronting other countries. There are few international ports which can take ships in excess of 100,000 tons, let alone 20.0,000 tons. All honourable senators realise that the larger the ship, the cheaper the freight. Work is under way - and no doubt will be continued - in some of our major iron ore ports to accommodate larger ships. It is expected that Port Hedland in Western Australia soon will be able to take ships in excess of 100,000 tons. Authorities in some of the other ports handling iron ore are talking in terms of being able to handle ships with a capacity in excess of 150,000 tons.
Other questions raised were in relation to the provision this year for capital works and services. I think a question was asked by Senator Lillico. Senator Lillico spoke about the Melbourne to King Island shipping service and asked for reasons for the decrease to $130,000 in the appropriation sought this year against the actual expenditure of $150,000 last year - a decrease of $20,000. I should like to advise the honourable senator that under an agreement with R. H. Houfe and Co. Pty Ltd, the Commonwealth has provided financial assistance towards the maintenance of the shipping service between Melbourne and King Island, the Commonwealth paying half. The aim is to reduce the burden of freight costs on the island’s economy. The financial assistance is paid to the operator with an equivalent reduction in the rates of freight charged to the users of the service. The intention in granting the financial assistance is to enable the service and the island’s economy to develop to a point where assistance will no longer be required.
The estimate for 1968-69 is based on a reduced rate of assistance now applicable following agreement between the Department and the shipping company concerned. The reduced amount in this estimate has been due to an alteration of the level of assistance based on the improved profitability of the service provided by the shipowner. The Commonwealth and Tasmanian Governments have agreed to a port feasibility study and the matter is now in abeyance until this study has been carried out and the recommendations resulting from it considered.
asked a number of questions. I do not know whether I have all the information he requires but I shall endeavour to answer his questions although not necessarily in the order in which he asked them. He asked about professional services, fees and expenses. The main elements here are survey of radio installations by Postmaster-General’s technical staff, $47,000; moneys expended by the Commonwealth Railways staff on standardisation work, $62,000; Marine Council and crew accommodation - fees and expenses, $5,000. The honourable senator also asked about the shipping services to Papua and New Guinea. Termination of the subsidy is by agreement with the company, and the reduced amount sought represents the phased withdrawal of the vessels providing the service. I answered the honourable senator’s question with relation to shipbuilding and extensions at Whyalla shipyards, but the officers of the Department advise me that the Commonwealth has been approached and to date no decision has been made as there are difficult technical as well as financial considerations involved. As to containerisation, this matter is still under review by both the Commonwealth Bureau of Roads and the Department of Shipping and Transport. I have already given an answer on that matter.
Senator bishop (South Australia) [3.48] - The Minister has answered the questions I raised, but I should like to ask 1 or 2 more with relation to Division 486. They relate to shipbuilding at Whyalla. I remind the Minister that I asked a question about this matter on 12th September and he undertook to supply a detailed answer. I point out that this is the first time that any information has been given to me. I am not complaining about not getting information at this stage because I know that to offer information immediately is sometimes difficult. Perhaps the Minister would be good enough to inform me by letter as to the position.
The question 1 now ask relates to Division 486, with particular reference to item 01 of subdivision 3. Does the Government pay subsidy on small vessels which are built in Port Adelaide shipyards and which are registered in Panama? I ask this because there are many problems arising from this question of foreign flag ships. There was a recent experience in South Australia when the ‘Lisanda’, a vessel registered in Panama, came into port there and, although it was condemned by the surveyors, was commissioned by the Department of Shipping and Transport. This is a glaring case of the peril arising from this practice of registering under flags of convenience. It also posed great problems for the union and others in assisting the crew, and in repatriating them.
Why do we pay Commonwealth money by way of subsidy on the building of vessels which are registered in Panama or any other foreign place where the usual codes do not apply? There should be a prohibition against the payment of subsidy in those cases.
I come now to the railways. We have been told about the obligation of the Commonwealth Government to consult with the South Australian Government in fulfilling the agreement on standardisation which was arrived at in 1949. Under that agreement, the Commonwealth undertook an obligation, jointly with the State, to complete the standardisation of the whole’ of the South Australian railways system, with the exception of that part in Eyre Peninsula. There are two main considerations here. One relates to the need to fulfill the agreement utilising the services of specialists from the Commonwealth Railways to complete the link between Port Pirie and Adelaide. The recommendation submitted by the Government Members Rail Standardisation Committee in 1956 is simlar to that recommended by the Labor Party’s committee. It was that upon completion of the standardisation of the east-west : link the next work undertaken should be the standardisation of’ the South Australian’ system and that top priority should be given to the line to Adelaide. The Labor administration in South Australia and more recently the Liberal administration stated that the line between Adelaide and Port Pirie should not be the only project because to do this would cause many complications in that almost the whole of the South Australian mainline system would be isolated because it had not as yet been converted to standard gauge.
The latest information I now have is that the State Premier stated on 5th November that the Commonwealth Government had agreed to provide a team pf consultants to investigate the State Government’s submission with relation to the standardisation, of the South Australian railway system. 1 am informed that Mr Hall states that the Commonwealth did not in its reply agree to the State’s submission’ but merely agreed to the consultants investigating the standardisation proposals. 1 suggest that what will happen will be that the consultants will point out the financial difficulties connected with the conversion and we shall finish up with the same sort of debate on the South Australian railways conversion as we are having in connection with the Chowilla Dam. Over the years, little has been done for South Australia. What ‘ the Labor Government did and the Liberal Government has accepted is that the whole question should be studied. I hope the Minister will examine the position and that some attempt will be made to start the work. 1 should like from the Minister advice as to whether the information I have is correct. 1 come now to Division 490 which relates also to the Commonwealth Railways. The Minister will know that I have already drawn attention to the damage caused to railways and roads by washaways in central Australia as the result of floods. Recently 1 directed the attention of the Minister in Charge of Tourist Activities to this matter and he told me that further investigations were being made. What is now contemplated to overcome the problems created by floods and washaways on the northern Australia railway system? The Minister referred to tourist roads. Has any consideration been given to improving the ordinary main thoroughfares to the Northern Territory?
– 1 refer to the expenditure last year of $42m covered by Division 486 - Australian Shipbuilding Board. Does that amount include the subsidy that was paid during the year? If so, can the Minister tell me the amount involved for each shipyard and the tonnage basis on which the payment was made? I should like to make a few brief observations on the shipbuilding industry generally and to endorse the comments made by Senator Bishop. We do not seem to know precisely where the shipbuilding industry stands at the present time. Tasmanian senators, in particular, will remember that 2 years ago an application was made by a Dutch shipbuilding firm to establish a shipyard at Margate in southern Tasmania, and that the Commonwealth Government refused to grant that firm the subsidy. I will not start the argument all over again but I should like to bring to the attention of honourable senators what appears to me to be the inconsistency of the Commonwealth Government’s policy on shipbuilding.
The main reason advanced by the Commonwealth for refusing the application was that an additional shipyard would create an over-capacity of shipbuilding in Australia. At 30th June 1967, only 18 months later, not less than 250.000 tons of shipping was under construction or on order in Australian shipyards. As recently as September this year the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport replied as follows to a question asked by Senator Bishop:
The Government is very conscious of the need to have the maximum number of ships built in Australia. I think most of our shipyards are overcommitted at the moment.
That would seem to be the situation. We do not appear to have any national plan in relation to the shipbuilding industry. It seems to be the Cinderella of secondary industries. The Government should give it more attention because it is so closely related to defence.
I make another quick observation concerning the use of foreign flag vessels on the Australian coast. In March 1965 the Commonwealth Government was party to an agreement which provided that applications for licences for foreign vessels on the Australian coast had to be submitted to the Department of Shipping and Transport, and that it was for the applicant to prove that there was not sufficient Australian tonnage available to handle the cargoes offering. As recently as May and June of this year Chinese and Japanese vessels with foreign crews were trading on the Australian coast apparently without any prior overtures being made to Australian operators to ascertain whether they were competent or available to handle the cargoes. Does that set the pattern for the future or does the Commonwealth intend to abide by the agreement it made in March 1965?
– Senator Wriedt asked two questions. One related to the Australian shipbuilding industry. The matter he raised was covered partly by Senator Bishop. Last year’s expenditure was $42 m and the allocation this year is $48m, an increase of $6m in round figures. It has been the practice for many years for the Government to provide financial assistance to the shipbuilding industry in Australia on a basis that will allow it to build ships in Australia at prices that are competitive with those of the United Kingdom. The subsidy is not a direct payment. It represents the difference between the cost paid to the shipbuilder and the agreed price received from the shipowner. For a number of years up to May 1964 the subsidy was limited to an amount not exceeding one-third of the construction cost of the vessel and was not applicable to vessels of less than 500 tons.
Since May 1964 this tonnage limit has been reduced to 200 tons. The 1968-69 estimate provides $41,383,000 for 27 vessels under construction, and $6,617,000 for 20 projected vessels, that is, vessels under discussion with prospective owners.
The honourable senator also mentioned that in reply to a question by Senator Bishop I said that our shipyards were operating at full capacity and that there was full employment, and he asked why, in those circumstances, we refused a licence for the construction of a shipyard at Margate in southern Tasmania. The Government will not subsidise the construction of ships built at that port because, although our ports are running at practically full capacity at present, if another large shipyard were established in Tasmania we could ruin some of our existing shipbuilding yards. As time goes on and as demand for shipping increases, no doubt further consideration will be given to this matter.
Senator Bishop referred to the standardisation of the rail gauge, between Port Augusta and Whyalla. The Commonwealth Railways has provided a limited amount of money to carry out some preliminary survey work on the Port Augusta-Whyalla line, but the Government has made no firm decision either on the standardisation of the gauge between Port Pirie and Adelaide or the Commonwealth’s involvement in the projected Port Augusta-Whyalla line.
I will have to obtain the information sought by Senator Wriedt relating to the amount of subsidy involved in respect of each shipyard, but I point out that the allocation of $48m is the amount to be spent on the purchase of ships and that $3 8m is to be recovered from the owners of the ships. Therefore the subsidy for this year is estimated to be $10m. As to his comments about foreign flag vessels, I inform him that we can interfere only in relation to matters of safety when those vessels are in our ports. Senator Bishop also mentioned that aspect as well as asking what action the Commonwealth was taking to help South Australia to upgrade the railway line to central Australia. I inform him that at present a survey is being made west of the existing railway line to see whether a line can be constructed which will not be subject to the floods and washaways that so frequently occur along the existing line.
– I would like the Minister to answer the question I asked regarding the great variations that exist in the carrying capacity of road vehicles in the different States. Senator Bishop was a member of the Senate Select Committee on the Container Method of Handling Cargoes, which was also concerned with the carrying capacity of roads and vehicles. The Committee’s report dealt with this aspect very fully. The shipper side of the Australian community is very concerned with the fact that at this stage it appears as though road transport cannot be used in the overall containerisation concept.
– I apologise to Senator Young for overlooking his question. The honourable-senator pointed out that the carrying capacity of vehicles and the spacing of wheels varied from State to State. This is entirely a matter for the State Governments. The Commmonwealth Government is using its best endeavours to achieve a uniform system of wheel spacing and a uniform carrying capacity for vehicles.
– If the Minister’s reply to my question regarding standardising the South Australian railway system is to be final, I ask him to reconsider what he has said because as far as I understand the position his answer is misleading. When asking my question I said that information had been given to the South Australian Parliament yesterday that the Commonwealth Government had agreed to supply the South Australian Government with a team of consultants to consider what could be done for the South Australian system after the present South Australian Government had urged - as had the previous government - that arrangements should now be made to standardise the system based on the 1949 agreement. It is probably a difficult question to answer off the cuff, but if the Minister’s reply is to be accepted as final it could be misleading. The Minister gave a very brief reply to the two questions I asked regarding the survey that is being conducted in regard to the railway line to central Australia. I want to know whether the Government has made up its mind about .the survey and whether it has any intention of strengthening the line or converting it. I also asked a question regarding improving the main road to the Northern Territory.
The Commonwealth Railways workshop has been expanded in recent times, but for many years I and others have been asking why the Commonwealth Railways should have to purchase most of its rolling stock and passenger cars from overseas, although some have been manufactured in Australia by private industry. Extensions and improvements have been .carried out to the workshop. Now that the Commonwealth Railways system has become a very important link in Australia’s transport system it seems to me that the Commonwealth Railways should give urgent consideration to establishing a new coach making shop to do this work. I understand that some of the administrators of the Commonwealth Railways want such a coach making shop established. At the present time it has no coach making shop and repairs to vehicles or remodelling have to be carried out in other sections of the workshop. I would like to know what is being done in this connection. If necessary, the Minister could supply an answer in writing.
– Senator Bishop’s last question was in relation to the construction of a workshop at Port Augusta for the construction of coaches, diesel engines and wagons. At the present time it is not an economical proposition to build rolling stock as a very large capital outlay is required and continuity of demand is necessary. The Commonwealth Railways has barely sufficient staff for maintenance work and it is not possible to enter into the manufacturing field at Port Augusta. Senator Bishop also said that he was not satisfied with my answer in relation to the Central Australia railway line. The upgrading of the present line or alternatively the building of a new standard gauge line on a route further west is at present under consideration by a committee. Senator Bishop also asked whether I was aware that a statement had been made in the South Australian Parliament yesterday regarding the construction of a standard gauge railway between Adelaide and Port Pirie.
– No, conversion of the whole system, including the Adelaide-Port Pirie track.
– I am afraid that 1 will have to ask for notice of that question. I will supply the honourable member with a detailed answer in writing.
– I hope that my first question is relatively simple to answer. It relates to financial assistance for the Melbourne-King Island shipping service. I ask: Why has the financial assistance been reduced from $150,000 to S J 30,000? What factors caused the Department to anticipate that the amount required would be $20,000 less this year?’
The other matter to which I wish to refer is the promotion of road safety practices. Without wishing to criticise the sincerity or devotion of the members of the Road Safety Council of Australia, . I wonder whether value is obtained for the money expended in this direction. I ‘ believe that a lot of others share my concern. I am also in doubt as to whether the results achieved are sufficient, whether the powers of that body are too restricted, whether being an advisory body it is restricted in what it can do and whether the money would be better spent if a statutory body with proper powers were set up. Such a body should be able to undertake research, which is badly needed to offset the unco-ordinated, spasmodic research programmes . undertaken at the moment, many on a private basis. It may be possible to co-ordinate this work and, having obtained the results of the research, to apply them in a positive programme. At the moment this cannot.be done because of the way the Australian Road Safety Council is set up.
I believe that the thoughts I am expressing are the thoughts of the Automobile Association of Australia, the Australian Road Transport Federation, the Federated Chamber of Automotive Industries and the Transport Workers Union of Australia. I am led to believe that these bodies have made representations for the reconstitution of the Road Safety Council. Bearing in mind the size of the problem and the mammoth loss to the country in lives and expense, I believe that the reconstitution of the Road Safety Council to give it some teeth deserves urgent consideration. At the moment it is rather like a body with one hand tied behind its back and the other groping in the dark. I would like to know whether some plans are under way to give it some teeth.
– The reduced amount in the Estimates relating to. the Melbourne to King Island shipping service has been due to the alteration in the level of assistance based on the improved profitability of the service provided by the shipowner. The Commonwealth Government has agreed with the State Government of Tasmania to a port feasibility study, and matters are in abeyance until the study has been completed and the recommendations have been considered. The actual rate of assistance is being reduced from $5 per ton to $3.35 per ton. Because of the increased traffic the same rate of assistance is not needed and hence the reduced amount in the Estimates.
asked about the Road Safety Council. He asked whether it was possible to give that body some teeth so that a greater amount of co-operation could be obtained between the States and the Commonwealth. I advise him that uniformity has been achieved in almost 95% of the traffic codes of the States. As to the other 5%, it is not thought at the moment that it is causing or will cause any grave danger to the travelling public.
Proposed expenditure and proposed provision noted.
Department of Civil Aviation
Proposed expenditure, $52,782,000.
Proposed provision, $7,900,000.
– I refer to the development grant for aerodromes and relate my remarks to the situation that exists in the north western and Kintberley area of Western Australia on the main trunk route between Perth and Darwin. I have every sympathy with the Treasury in having to find the large amounts of money necessary for airport development in Australia, but one cannot help but feel that the area to which I have referred has for too long been the Cinderella area so far as the airport development of Australia has been concerned. It is amazing that in this year, 1968, the operations of Mac Robertson Miller Airlines Ltd are in many respects restricted because of the poor condition of runways. If we look at the Estimates for this year we see that very little is being spent in this area on airport development. I believe that $50,000 is to be spent at Port Hedland, but this will be mainly for the benefit of light aircraft. At that airport there will still be only one taxi-way for aircraft coming into and leaving
Port Hedland. This often causes delays to commercial flights. 1 think it is about time that a very hard look was taken at the situation in this area. At the moment a 700 series Viscount aircraft is operating, but it is very limited in its operations. At the moment I do not think there is any restriction at Port Hedland, but certainly in the early days of its operation restrictions were imposed. The aircraft is restricted in its landings at either Broome or Derby and has very limited operations into these airports. For an airline that for years has been trying to improve its services this situation is discouraging. But having drawn attention to this fact I now turn to the objective of the airline company to introduce pure jet aircraft. Over the past 2 days I have asked several questions on this subject. The plain fact is that the airline company can get no information as to the operating standards required for the operation of pure jet aircraft on this main Perth to Darwin route. At the moment there seem to be three aircraft which are under consideration. One is the BAC111 of the 475 series, another is the DC9 of the 20 series and the other is the F28, all of which will operate with low pressure tyres to enable them to use the runways in the north west of the State.
Although the airline company has for some time been trying to get the Department of Civil Aviation to lay down the standards which it will require, it can get little or no information. This is very discouraging to an airline which is trying to plan forward. Indeed, the company is unable to plan forward until it knows the standards that will be required both as regards runway strength and other runway conditions, and also as regards navigational aids. Very few of these airports are equipped with the most modern navigational aids. The airline company naturally wants to know Whether DCA is going to insist on certain’ navigational aids, such as VOR visual omnirange radio navigational aid for jet operations and whether it will insist on a glide path for jet operations. If these aids are required, it would like to know what airports DCA intends to equip with those aids. But to this stage, to my knowledge, the company can get no information, despite its efforts over many months. I should like the Department to take heed of an airline company which is trying to plan forward and which is hoping to introduce pure jet services in either late 1969 or early 1970. I do not believe that we can justify delaying the introduction of pure jet services on this main trunk route any later than that because it is the only main trunk route around Australia on which jet aircraft are not now operating. The area to which I am referring is growing considerably.
My plea to the Department is to make up its mind on these matters and to give the airline company all the information it can so that the company can plan ahead and so that it will know what type of aircraft it can operate. 1 notice from a reply to a question that I asked yesterday regarding the F28, which is one of the aircraft under consideration, that the Department does not expect to know until May next year what standards it will require for the aircraft; whether it will be able to operate on gravel strips and what lengths of runway will be necessary. This aircraft has been test flying since February. Yesterday I saw a film of a flight of this aircraft in Holland or Spain, or wherever it was that the testing was taking place. I have been told that the aircraft will require a runway 4,000 feet long. After some months of test flying one would think that some information would be available as to what the Department’s requirements will be. It seems to me to be a very long time to wait - from February this year until May next year before some reasonable assessment can be made of the Department’s requirements. I do not want to spend a great deal of time on this, but I make this point because I think it is important. My colleague, the honourable member for Perth (Mr Chaney), spoke on this subject in another place in fairly strong terms which I support and I believe are justified.
I wish to raise one other matter with regard to meteorological forecasting for this area. For a number of years I have received complaints from pilots concerning forecasting in the north west and Kimberley area of Western Australia. Admittedly that is an area which at times is subject to monsoons and rapid weather changes, but because of the times when officers of the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology are on duty forecasts are often 6 or 7 hours old. This causes delays because of uncertainties as to fog conditions. An airport may be closed at 6 o’clock at night because of fog, and at 1 a.m. aircraft are still unable to leave for that airport because they cannot contact officers of the Bureau to find out whether the fog has cleared. When finally they do get through they may find that there is no fog or little sign of fog. This causes inconvenience and loss, both to the airlines and to the travellers. Recently I wrote to the Minister for the Interior and the Minister for Civil Aviation about this matter. There is one point in the letter from the Minister for Civil Aviation that I should like to have cleared up. I must in fairness admit that both Ministers realise this problem and are making efforts to overcome it. In the letter from the Minister dated 5th November, he said:
The standard hours provide service for all MacRobertson Miller scheduled services except for one later operation, up to 7 p.m., on each of the days Monday to Friday, and an arrival at 8.35 p.m. on Tuesday.
I do not know whetherI have interpreted this correctly, but I understand it to mean that no service is available on Saturdays or Sundays at times when normal commercial operations take place. I feel that I am entitled to reach that conclusion, although it may not be the correct interpretation. I should like’ some advice on whether a full meteorological service for the hours for whichit is available on weekdays is available also on Saturdays and Sundays. Recently on a Sunday I experienced some very unfortunate weather forecasts when flying into that area. To say the least, conditions caused much inconvenience and delay to passengers. The pilots complained bitterly at that time that the forecasts that they were shown at Port Hedland on a Sunday were 6 hours old. A storm which they were told was well north of Broome was in fact well south of Broome and we found ourselves right in the middle of it. It was a very unpleasant experience. This is the type of forecasting about which the pilots quite rightly complain, especially when the information is 6 hours old.
I should like an answer to that question from the Minister. The remainder of my comments are a plea to the Department to do something about providing the airline company with up to date information concerning jet operations and to give greater priority to whatever airport development is necessary to bring the airports up to standard for F28 operations and to maintain those airports which will be required for turbo jet operations in 18 months time.
– Senator Sim has taken a very keen interest in MacRobertson Miller Airlines Ltd which operates between Perth and Darwin. This is a very old company which has been in operation for a quarter of a century in Western Australia, lt started with small aircraft and now has reached the stage where it is thinking of purchasing an F28 aircraft, which is a pure jet aircraft, to operate between Perth and Darwin. I think it would be a wonderful thing for the passengers who are used to DC3 and F27 aircraft. This plane is twice as fast. The honourable senator has said that the company is having great difficulty in getting any information from the Department of Civil Aviation on the types of landing strips that are necessary and the supervision of them. My advice is that the manufacturer’s specification has not yet been finalised and the company has not yet chosen a particular short range jet. In that case, it is impossible for the Department to make a survey of the requirements until it knows the specification of the plane that will be purchased.
Senator Sim also referred to the problems of meteorological forecasts in the northern areas of Australia, and particularly Western Australia. I can assure him that we are aware of those problems but it would be necessary to obtain answers to his questions from the Bureau of Meteorology, which comes under the administration of another department.
– I wish to raise a number of queries in relation to the Department of Civil Aviation. I will refer to two relatively small matters and subsequently I will refer to the operations of our domestic airlines in greater detail. I refer first to Division 170 - Administrative and Operational. During the winter months weather conditions delay flights from parts of Tasmania. I refer particularly to Wynyard and Devonport, and to a lesser degree to Launceston. Because of fog and other weather conditions air services are disrupted and the normally scheduled flights cannot operate in those areas. These airports are relatively close to each other. The distance from Wynyard to Devonport is about 42 miles by road, and the distance from Devonport to Launceston by road is about 62 miles. When adverse weather conditions prevail aircraft are usually landed at one or other of the airports I have named and passengers are transported by road to that airport. This means that the aircraft involved must remain on the ground until the passengers from Wynyard or Launceston, or even perhaps Devonport, are brought to the airport.
To avoid a drain on the electrical system of the aircraft during waiting periods when the motors are not running and the generating equipment on the aircraft is not in use, the meals prepared for the passengers are not kept heated. It seems to me that the solution is simple. Most airports have battery charging equipment. An elaborate apparatus would not be necessary. I think this problem should be studied. Perhaps the Minister could find out the possibilities of providing a battery charger to operate during waiting periods so that meals to be served to passengers may be kept heated. Meals originally prepared hot do not make very pleasant eating when served lukewarm. When aircraft are delayed in the winter months, the passengers are obliged to sit in the aircraft in darkness. This does not happen frequently, but it does happen because if the aircraft were to use its lighting equipment it would cause a great drain on the batteries.
I refer now to Division 172 - Development of Civil Aviation, in which is an appropriation of $1,900,000 for subsidies for air services. Can the Minister indicate whether a definite decision has been made as to the retention of the intrastate air service in Tasmania that is operated now with Beechcraft aircraft? A short time ago there was some apprehension about the continuation of the service. It does not receive the level of support that perhaps it might receive, but I think in renders a very valuable service around Tasmania. At one stage it was mooted that a Twin Otter aircraft was to replace the Beechcraft because of service difficulties. It was strongly rumoured that an Otter aircraft was to be put into service. I believe that now there is some doubt about that. I would like the
Minister to give an assurance, if he can, that the service will not be discontinued because of economic factors. 1 am quite certain that, with the development of air services and the increased use of this air- craft, ultimately the necessity for a subsidy or some other supporting financial arrangement will not exist. I wish to deal with the broad subject of aerodromes, but I will leave it at that for the moment in order to give other senators an opportunity to raise their questions.
– I refer to the appropriation for airways facilities under Division 170. Perhaps I should comment on the extensions that are being made to the Adelaide Airport terminal, lt is pleasing to see that they are being made. The air conditioning is a matter that has been mentioned by most South Australian senators. I have not seen the plans. I do riot know whether we can be told about this matter at this stage. I only hope that when air conditioning is put into this building it will be a real air conditioning system and not an evaporation cooling system, which makes conditions on a humid day nigh on intolerable. People cannot stay in the building; they have to go outside to breathe fresh clean air. It is a shocking system.
That leads me on to the capacity of the terminal building and the ridiculous situation that exists in relation to air services through Adelaide. One can go to the terminal during many periods of the day and hardly see a soul other than the people who are working for the airlines. But one can go there during other periods of the day and be lucky to walk along without being jostled by the people who cram into the building. I believe that it is high time the airlines gave consideration to staggering their services. In Adelaide we have a duplication of arrivals and departures throughout the day. At times 4 to 6 jet aircraft are standing around the Adelaide terminal. At other times the place is completely deserted. Let us look at the services that are provided for South Australian travellers or travellers coming to South Australia. On the Adelaide to Melbourne run, for 3 days of the week there is a flight at 1 1 a.m. and the next one is at 5.50 p.m. That gives a break of almost 7 hours. For the other 4 days of the week there is an extra service at 3.20 p.m. That still gives a 44-hour break and then a 24-hour break. The aircraft of both of the airlines arrive arid depart at the same time. There are’ great vacuums in which there is a lack o’f service. If the airlines were to stagger their services we could have a much better’ service’ from Adelaide to other places in the Commonwealth.
I believe that some direction should be given or that some discussion should be had with the two airlines to see whether they would be prepared to stagger, their services on a 3-monthly basis. I know that there are the peak travelling hours, and that one airline is afraid that it will, lose passengers to the other airline. Perhaps this system could be worked on a rotation system on a 3- monthly basis. That would mean that both airlines would share the peak travelling hours. This is a matter to which consideration must be given in order to supply a better service to people coming to and going from Adelaide and South Australia as a whole. At present conditions in the terminal are nigh on intolerable. We are now living in hope, seeing that the extensions are under way at present, that the terminal will not be congested and jammed with crowds of people as a result of aircraft arriving and departing at the same time. I believe that this duplication is completely unnecessary and is not giving the best service to people.
– One of the questions asked by Senator Devitt was in relation to the smaller airports in Tasmania, where aircraft frequently land and are unable to take off and passengers have to be transported by bus. He wanted facilities provided in the aircraft so that meals could be kept warm while passengers were waiting.
– While members of ground crews were waiting.
– That is right. The answer is that this is a matter entirely for the airlines; but we have taken note of the honourable senator’s complaint and we hope that the airlines may do so, too. He then mentioned the withdrawal of TransAustralia Airlines from the intrastate service in Tasmania. TAA has incurred substantial losses in the operation -of its intrastate service in Tasmania. In the light of this and declining patronage, the Australian National Airlines Commission is reviewing the service. It will take the needs of the travelling public into full account in that review. The airline would need to purchase a Twin Otter to service the Tasmanian operations. This investment would need to be undertaken in the face of losses of the order of $300,000 since 1964.
Senator Young referred to the Adelaide Airport and asked whether, in the extension of the terminal, provision was being made for air conditioning. I understand that the terminal will be air conditioned.
– lt will be refrigerated air conditioning, I hope.
– It is just air conditioning, as far as my information goes.
– There is a difference.
– It is nice to know that the terminal will be air conditioned, anyhow. Senator Young also referred to the problems associated with the terminal being full of passengers at certain periods of the day. He suggested that, instead of the aircraft of both airlines arriving and departing at the same time and causing overcapacity at some times and undercapacity at other times, there should be some form of rationalisation. 1 can tell him that there is a rationalisation committee, lt consists of an officer of the Department of Civil Aviation and a representative from Trans-Australia Airlines and a representative from Ansett-ANA. Despite the fact that quite a few Ministers for Civil Aviation have been appointed to this portfolio and have said: ‘We will do away with the present system and we will have rationalisation so that the aircraft of both airlines do not arrive at the same time’, the system is still operating. I am pleased to see that Senator Young is taking an interest in this matter in the hope that something may be done about it eventually.
– I listened with great interest to the Minister’s comments concerning the intrastate air service in Tasmania. The loss of $300,000 in a period of about 4 years is rather staggering. Notwithstanding that, the airline does not lose money; in fact it makes a fairly substantial profit. On page 5 of the report of the Australian National Airlines Commission some emphasis is placed, quite rightly, on the necessity of providing a ser vice to the public. This is the whole point. If we were to knock out the non-paying airlines in Australia, we might just as well forget completely about the idea of decentralisation. An air service is one of the factors that offset the disabilities of living in the more remote and less populated areas. One of our functions here should be to ensure, to the utmost of our ability, that, unless there is very good reason for acting otherwise, we retain the service that exists at the moment. In fact, every encouragement and inducement that we can offer by this means or any other means ought to be offered to persuade people to go into the remoter areas to live a reasonable sort of existence which is somewhat commensurate with the type of existence available to people in the more populated centres of Australia, bearing in mind that 66% - I believe it is - of the population of this country live in the cities. It should also be borne in mind that considerable sums of money are being spent on the main terminals in Sydney and Melbourne. I am not against this because I know that it is most necessary for us to keep abreast of the modern developments in aeronautical design. In fact, I often wonder whether we are doing enough to meet the growing challenges of the airways systems of the world.
I referred recently to these tremendous problems which are worrying people in the airline industry all round the world, whether they be at New York, Washington or Chicago in the United States or at Heathrow in London. They have tremendous problems which will not lessen but grow, because apparently in the past somebody did not realise - and this is reasonable enough - just what developments were to take place in the field of aeronautics. This is one of the paramount systems of transportation in our time. In a vast country like Australia, rather sparsely populated, it meets a greater need than perhaps exists anywhere else in the world.
I wonder, for instance, how we are to cater for the sort of aircraft which are being planned at the present time and weigh up to 410 tons, and for all the strains and stresses that will be placed on the runway systems, terminal facilities and this sort of thing. I also wonder whether we are in fact as conscious and aware of this as we might be. However, this is in passing on the subject of the retention of that service in Tasmania and I ask the Minister to exercise whatever influence he may have in this field to ensure that the service will never be removed. I would hope that whatever happens this service will be retained. It is a tremendously important one. I do not think this is a question of whether the aircraft ought to be filled all the time or even whether the service ought to pay, because the whole system of civil aviation indicates that air routes are subsidised throughout Australia. I do not know whether we can just pick one out of the bat, say that it seems to be worse than the others and cut it out. I do not want this to happen. In line with this matter, the Minister will recall that I recently raised with him the question of the upgrading of the airports at Wynyard and Devonport in Tasmania. I regret the necessity to be parochial about this but it is something with which I am in pretty close touch. I hope the Minister will understand this.
– To what provision are you referring now?
– The same as the one to which Senator Young referred - Division 170 - which provides for aerodromes and buildings and airways facilities. I am concerned to know what stage has been reached in the compilation of the report and in fact what the report will provide concerning these aerodromes and the upgrading of them to take the service which the future will demand. While I am dealing with this, I am concerned to read in the report of Trans-Australia Airlines that there is to be a standardisation of certain aircraft types. This is good. I am not against this at all, but it indicates to me pretty clearly that unless some new type of aircraft - and it is not mentioned here - is to be brought into service there is to be a retrogression in the type of service that is to be provided in that part of Tasmania.
At the moment the aerodromes, runways and so on, I understand, are not adequate to take DC9 jet airlines or Electras which will be in service until 1970. In fact, they are barely adequate, I believe, for the 800 series Viscount aircraft. Since the Viscounts are being phased out quite quickly the only alternative that I can see that would be available to us there is the F27 - the Fokker
Friendship as we know it. Quite frequently one travels in these aircraft, and while they provide a reasonable service they do not provide the sort of service and in-flight comfort that one gets in the Viscount aircraft. In fact, the other evening I was trying to have a meal in1 a Fokker Friendship with the table pressed into my stomach and it was very difficult indeed to have a meal in the cramped position I was in. These aircraft are certainly not as good as the Viscount. They are twin engined aircraft and their performance’ in terms of speed is not as good as the Viscount’s. I can see sticking out a mile here that there is to be a drop back in the type of service available to that part of the country notwithstanding the quite substantial population development there. I think the two things are dependent .one upon the other.
I would like to know whether in fact these aerodromes are to be brought fairly quickly up to a standard to take jet airliners or whether in fact we are to go backwards from the standard of service we are getting there. In terms of flight service the F27 does not come up to the Viscount aircraft, no matter what might be said about it.. Another thing that, concerns me is the fact that .in the report of TransAustralia Airlines reference is made to the inadequacies in many .directions of the Lockheed Electra. One would have thought that in the circumstances, because of the tremendous service costs and al] the other things that are mentioned in this report, the airline would rapidly proceed to replace the Electra with the DC9, .which is much more efficient and much faster and has a much better economic performance. But I notice from the report of the Australian National Airlines Commission that the Electras are to be retained until 1970.
– You are travelling a bit away from airway facilities at the moment.
– I am trying to relate my remarks to aerodromes and buildings, but in any case this would come under the provision of Division 170 in relation to administration and the overriding determination of the affairs of the airlines.
– The report reads:
The Commission’s original programme has now been revised so as lo set back to 1970 the Electra retirements and replacement of their capacity by DC9 jets.
I wonder why. Can the Minister tell me, in view of the fact that the two aircraft do not under any rules of measurement compare in terms of performance and so on, why TAA must still be saddled with the out-of-date Electra when it ought to be possible in fact to re-equip fairly speedily with the DC9s? Throughout the report I am concerned to note indications that there does not seem to be the flexibility in operations, so far as TAA is concerned, that would enable this airline to equip itself with aircraft to meet the demands of its business.
There are many instances, particularly in recent times and more especially during school holidays and periods of that kind, where TAA just does not have sufficient aircraft to meet the demands of its business. One wonders why this is, and on examination we find that it is because of this thing called rationalisation. It is interesting to note that in the leading article of the Australian’ of 2nd September 1968 there is an article headed ‘Giving the Airlines their Head’. It deals with major structural reform in the airlines. The article suggests that the standard of service to the public has fallen. It refers to the aircraft which TAA wants to order to re-equip its fleet and to bring it up to date with modern standards of airline performance and to enable it to meet the demands on its business, which it cannot meet at present because it is tied to the requirements of the two airline system. The article refers to the need to allow each airline to back its own judgment. The capacity of the airlines is mentioned also. It is said that the capacity is low by world standards. It is mentioned that TAA has a 4% or 5% better performance in terms of passenger bookings than its competitor birt is not permitted to do its best, lt cannot increase its seating capacity to handle more bookings because it is tied to the performance of the other airline.
The whole system is completely whacky in a country such as Australia where we want to extend the services available to the public.
It is ridiculous to have a system under which an airline is tied to the lower performance.
I have referred to the performance of the airlines on previous occasions. We should look seriously at the airline system if it is not to fall far behind the performance of airlines in other countries.
I refer now to another article written by the ‘Australian’ aviation correspondent, Stanley Brogden, which appeared on 31st October. It was headed ‘The mutual misery of our damnable airline system’. Again, that article referred to the inadequacies and inefficiencies of the Australian airline system. I do not want to condemn the system and run it down purely for the exercise of condemning something. As I said when I mentioned this matter on a previous occasion, I am referring to it in an endeavour to highlight the inherent weaknesses in the present system. I am aware of the inadequacies and inefficiencies of it. I hope that by airing these things some attention will be paid to the areas of inefficiency and inadequacy so that they can be remedied.
I will leave the subject at this stage in order to give other honourable senators an opportunity to speak. I hope the Minister can give me some information about the improvements which are to be made, particularly in regard to the Wynyard and Devonport aerodromes. Perhaps he could indicate to me that the standard of service to the parts of Tasmania I have mentioned is not to fall, since it has been pretty clearly stated that the airlines are to be re-equipped with about four major types of aircraft.
– Senator Devitt asked three or four questions. He said he was amazed to learn that Trans-Australia Airlines had lost about $300,000 in the last 4 years on a certain service that it operated. He sought information about this. He said he hopes that the Government will not allow civil aviation conditions to deteriorate and mentioned the need for better and faster aircraft. Firstly, I would like to inform the honourable senator that total expenditure this year by the Department of Civil Aviation for the development of airports and ancillary facilities throughout Australia will be increased by at least $9m on that of last year. This year total expenditure in this field will be over $90m. Most of this money is provided from the Commonwealth Treasury. Returns received from that expenditure are in the vicinity of $ J 8.5m or $19m. There is a differential of over $60m which has to come from the Treasury. This happens because Australia is a very large but thinly populated country. We are required to provide services throughout the length and breadth of the mainland and Tasmania. To provide the facilities that should be provided it is costing the taxpayers about $60m this financial year.
Senator Devitt referred also to intrastate services. The main part of his question has been answered. TAA’s record of service to the Tasmanian public has been impressive. The other matters he mentioned will be taken into consideration by the Department of Civil Aviation. It should be noted that TAA has not yet withdrawn the service that has lost $300,000 over the last 4 years. I do not think there is any intention of doing so until a replacement commuter service is provided. I do not know when that will happen. The honourable senator also said that TAA had postponed selling its Lockheed Electras from 1969 to 1970. He obtained this information from the annual report of TAA. This is a domestic matter for TAA. For the information of the honourable senator I should like to say that another two DC9 aircraft are on order. One will be delivered this month and the other will be delivered in August 1969. It is planned to obtain approximately six additional aircraft in the next 5 years.
– I wish to speak in this debate on the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation in order to raise several matters connected with its administration. Frankly, I want to criticise the Department for the cavalier manner in which it is treating the residents of the St George and Illawarra areas of Sydney. Really, the Department and the Government should be censured. Indeed, they are being censured. The people in those areas have attended a large number of protest meetings, held by private citizens and by local government organisations, because the Department has failed to face up to its responsibilities to them. My criticism relates firstly to the Department’s failure to cope satisfactorily with the noise abatement problem. Secondly, it relates to the prevailing uncertainty about planning for a second airport for Sydney. Thirdly, I wish to protest against St George Hospital not being recognised as the emergency hospital in the event of untoward happenings at the Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport.
Under the heading ‘Administrative’ let me first deal with the question of noise. The noise nuisance is becoming increasingly intolerable day by day as more flights are operated into and out of Sydney. It is certainly affecting the daily lives of people living and working in close proximity to the airport. Only last Sunday evening I was at the home of a friend of mine in the Bexley district. This home is just off the direct flight path going into the airport. At least every 5 minutes the conversation had to be stopped because of the noise coming from the jets going in to land. The windows of the home shook and rattled each time a plane went overhead, and the picture on the television set jumped and jumped and jumped. People in the area tell me that the flights are disrupting church services, that they keep residents awake at night, that children cannot do their lessons at school and that the situation generally is intolerable. The ever increasing use and increasing size of jet aeroplanes have accentuated this problem and it must increase in intensity and volume with the use of jumbo jet aircraft in the future. Is it any wonder, with this situation occurring, that the St George Rugby league football team did not win the competition this year?
The Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) has said that Australia is a party to some international inquiry into the noise problem. But this is just not good enough for the people in the area about which I am concerned. I believe that something more specific in Sydney has to come from the Department. Already there are rumours that the interstate airline operators - TransAustralia Airlines and Ansett-ANA - want permission to operate night cargo flights from Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport. At the moment, these flights are not permitted between 11 o’clock at night and 6 a.m. I would like the Minister and the Department, firstly, to give an assurance to the people of the area that under no circumstances whatever will these flights be allowed to operate between the times that I have mentioned.
Frankly, the local residents, particularly those who live on the direct flight path, are becoming nervous wrecks because of the Department’s attitude. Government members and the Minister talk a lot about the problem of noise, but they are only adding to the noise and not providing any general solution.
I come now to the second problem, lt relates to the same area. Does the Government intend establishing a second airport for Sydney at Towra Point on the southern side of Botany Bay? I think it was in this morning’s Press that I read that, prior to his leaving for Djakarta, the Minister said that four sites in and around Sydney were being considered by the Department. At one stage earlier this year a protest meeting was held in the Sutherland Shire. I think the present Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation in the Senate was Acting Minister at that time. He sent a telegram to the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Dobie) in another place saying that it was not the Government’s intention at this stage to develop an airport in that area. But today the Minister said that four sites are being considered, one of them Towra Point.
The local newspaper says that the Government does intend establishing a second airport at Towra Point. The president of the Sutherland Shire Council has said that the Government does intend establishing another airport. Indeed, in the Sydney Morning Herald’ of 4th September last, the President of the Sutherland Shire Council is reported as having said that he had documents in his possession which would prove that the Federal Government had asked the State Government to make available an area of land at Towra Point to be used as an airport. This would seem to suggest that the Commonwealth Government had this area in mind as a second airport for Sydney. Only last week I read that the New South Wales State planning authority was suggesting that the area will be used as a second airport. Again, the new tower at Mascot is so sited that it can peruse and survey not only any point at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport but any point in any area in Towra that might be used as a second airport. I plead with the Minister and the Department now to come out into the open and let us know one way or the other. Is this area of land to be used as a second airport for Sydney? If it is, then the noise factor is going to be very greatly accentuated. There is no doubt that a second airport will be required for Sydney in the near future.
– Where would you have it?
– I am just about to suggest what I think should be done. 1 note that the Minister as suggested Towra Point, two sites in the Wyong area and one in the outer metropolitan area in Sydney. I am informed - the Minister might correct me if this is wrong - that the passenger loading that it was anticipated would be handled at Sydney (KingsfordSmith) airport in 1971 has in fact already been reached. If this trend continues a second airport for Sydney will be needed much earlier than either the Department or the travelling community would seem to appreciate.
As the Minister has asked me where I would place a second airport for Sydney, let me offer one or two suggestions. There is a very open accessible area at Bringelly in the Camden district near Sydney which would certainly serve as a second airport. If that were not satisfactory to the Department I think the Government could well give consideration to transferring the Royal Australian Air Force base from Richmond to some other site and using the Richmond R.A.A.F. base as a second airport for Sydney. But I certainly believe that it would be foolhardy on the part of the Department to congest the whole of the southern area of Sydney by having two airports there. That is why I frankly believe that the proposed site at Towra just will not be suitable. It will accentuate the problem of traffic congestion already being felt in the city, and it will aggravate the noise nuisance.
I come now to the use of St George Hospital as the emergency hospital for the Department of Civil Aviation. I suggest that the Department should review this very efficient teaching hospital and should use it as the base for any emergency that might exist at the aerodrome in the future. St George Hospital is a 430-bed hospital. It is now a teaching hospital attached to the University of New South Wales. It has some eight senior resident doctors, and fourteen junior residents on its permanent staff. In addition, it has a very large registrar medical staff. It is certainly much closer to the Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport than any other large public hospital in the metropolitan area. With the completion of the projected new access road coming out at the southern end of the aerodrome, it will be even more convenient to the airport. The Medical Superintendent of the Hospital, Dr Frank Broderick, is one of the most efficient medical administrators you could find anywhere in the world, and for the life of me I just cannot understand why this hospital is overlooked and is not regarded as the emergency hospital for the Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport.
The Minister told me on 24th October that the emergency procedures require notification of the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and that the hospital was chosen some years ago in conjunction with the Hospitals Commission of New South Wales. But let us face the facts. The roads in the inner metropolitan area of Sydney are very congested and the congestion is becoming more acute day by day. In the event of an untoward happening at the Airport the traffic problem would be nowhere near as great in the case of St George Hospital, if that were used as the emergency hospital, as it would be in the case of the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. Therefore I ask the Minister and the Department to seriously consider recognising St George Hospital as the emergency hospital for any untoward happening at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport, or at least to conduct negotiations if necessary with the Hospitals Commission of New South Wales to that end.
The questions that I have posed are questions that the people on the southern side of Sydney are asking and are discussing daily, not only amongst themselves but at public protest meetings as well. I know what the electors will say at the next Federal election if the Government does not deal with these matters, particularly those relating to noise and the Towra airport controversy.
Senator scott (Western AustraliaMinister for Customs and Excise) [5.17] - Senator McClelland posed three questions. The first related to noise, the second to the location of a second airport for Sydney and the third to St George Hospital. I shall deal with the noise problem first. I suppose it is probably realistic to accept that the aviation industry always will cause irritating noise and that the real problem is to reduce this noise insofar as safety and reasonable economy will permit. Noise nuisance near airports varies with the type of noise emitted by an aircraft, the direction of the wind, the degree of humidity and so on.
On the aspect of noise reduction procedures, generally speaking jet operators are precluded from using noise critical airports during the hours II p.m. to 6 a.m. Engine noise suppression has very severe limitations within known techniques and without compromising engine power. Not a great deal can be achieved in adjusting final approach or climb out paths in the immediate vicinity of an airport. However a procedure is in general use whereby international and domestic jet departures gain height - 1,200 feet for international and 800 feet for domestic jets - as soon as possible after departure before reduction and turning on to course, and this appears to have reduced the noise level to a significant degree at a distance of about 2 miles out. In addition, every effort is made, particularly during sleeping hours and as best as possible during evening leisure hours, to devise terminal areas of flight paths which cause the aircraft to spend as little time as possible over the closely settled suburbs. Further, those arrangements are under continual review as we provide more facilities in the form of navigational aids or ATC radars, to ensure that maximum use is made of those facilities and new techniques to limit aircraft time over noise critical areas.
Turning to future trends in the noise problem, I advise honourable senators that with new airports we are acquiring land over and above runway needs, primarily to provide a buffer zone between the movement area of the airport and the nearest residential area. We are seeking also ways and means by which areas with a potential noise problem may be zoned for industrial rather than residential development. Honourable senators will remember that when we acquired the site for Tullamarine large areas were provided so that at the end of the runway there would be unoccupied land or, if the land were occupied, it would be occupied by industrial buildings. That action was taken in an endeavour to overcome the noise problem. As 1 think Senator McClelland knows, the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works now has decided to make some of this land available for building pursuits. No doubt complaints about the noise will arise later when people have built there and we are confronted with the problem.
The next point the honourable senator raised related to a second airport for Sydney. This is a very complex question. The honourable senator would have the airport at Camden or Richmond. I point out that the construction of a second airport for Sydney is being studied by the Commonwealth in consultation with the New South Wales Government, in particular the State Planning Authority.
– The Commonwealth has been studying it for 5 years. What about making a decision on it?
– I have said all that I intend to say on that. I should like to add a little in regard to noise. We as a Government arc not unaware of the problems associated with the noise of aircraft. Recently the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) attended a meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organisation in Buenos Aires. He issued the following Press statement under the heading ‘Australia to spearhead ICAO noise drive’:
Australia will spearhead a drive on aircraft noise by the 116 member states of the International Civil Aviation Organisation. This was foreshadowed today in an address to the opening plenary session of the (6th assembly of ICAO by the Australian Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz). Mr Swartz is leading a nine man Australian delegation which includes the DirectorGeneral (Sir Donald Anderson).
There is more to it but that indicates that we are not unaware of the problems associated with the noise of aircraft. I will take due notice of what the honourable senator had to say about St George Hospital, because it is a very important item.
– I direct my remarks to that section of Division 170 which relates to aerodromes and buildings - maintenance materials and services, and will refer later to Bankstown Aerodrome. I should like to supplement the very lucid submission that Senator McClelland made. I detected in the Minister’s quotation of what Mr Swartz had said a grain of fatalism - that is, that aircraft noise is inherent and must be accepted. I spent most of my working life in a boiler shop where there is noise but in a much milder form. As the years went on industry found that by providing certain appliances to combat noise it was able to reduce the cost of industrial deafness. The money has not actually been saved yet but there will be a saving in the future as there was following the introduction in the 1950s of certain types of ear defenders.
The Minister referred to the International Civil Aviation Organisation. If some of the millions of dollars that have been spent on the exploits of astronauts had been devoted to making the night quieter we would be a healthier race medically. While in a sense it is pleasing to receive the Minister’s statement, I think Senator McClelland hammered out his point very effectively. Even with the long range plans in relation to Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport and the various accessories that go with a modern airport, the trend, seems to be to make , the people in the western and southern suburbs of Sydney, and for that matter the suburbs of any capital city, accept the noise. The problem. will have to be grappled with eventually. There will be mounting pressures from various commercial interests in relation to limiting night flights. The Minister referred to that. I do not know what the Government is aiming to do to our society by allowing airline companies to send goods from one place to another during a time of night. that will affect the sleep of millions of people. Perhaps if Senator Turnbull were present he could debate this aspect more eloquently than I. I have been affected personally. Once upon a time I could sleep out on the back verandah in the summertime and nothing would worry me, but I cannot do that any more beyond 5 a.m. because of the noise from aircraft. If this is the price of progress then 1 do not know what the country is coming to. The residents of Sydney are very concerned about- this.
On Wednesday, 29th May, I received an answer to a question I asked concerning sewage disposal at Bankstown Airport. I was informed that it was the intention of the Department to arrange for the connection of the airport sewage system to the new main as soon as it was constructed. I relayed that answer to the Bankstown Municipal Council and to the various progress associations and citizens groups and they were far from happy with the position. 1 ask the Minister whether there has been any further improvement in the position since that answer was given. I know it may be said that it is partly the responsibility of the Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board, but I believe that the Department of Civil Aviation has certain responsibilities. A survey was carried out by the Bankstown Municipal Council on the sullage in the Georges River and the results were typical of urban problems. Frankly, I believe that if the Department had planned a little better and had given a lead to some of the organisations the sewage problem would be not so great. But I do seek a reply from the Minister to my question regarding further developments in relation to the disposal of sewage at Bankstown Airport.
Senator cant (Western Australia) [5.27] - I wish to deal with the problem of aircraft noise. It was not my intention to enter into this debate today, but having listened to Senator McClelland I felt obliged to do so. I am aware that an embargo is placed upon the operation of jet aircraft over certain Australian cities between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. But I wish to relate my remarks to the Perth Airport. I have told TransAustralia Airlines and Ansett-ANA that they should be prosecuted for sending aircraft out of Perth at approximately 1 o’clock in the morning and thereby landing the passengers b Melbourne at 6 o’clock in the morning. These people cannot do any business before at least 9.30 a.m. and if they wish to go on to Sydney they have to wait until 8 o’clock for an aircraft, so they have a 2-hour wait in Melbourne. Aircraft are not allowed to fly into Melbourne before 6 a.m.
The situation is even worse in winter when the strong westerly winds are blowing. Recently I was coming to Canberra on a Monday night flight that was due to leave Perth at 12.40 a.m. I was advised that because of likely tail winds the aircraft could not leave before 1.15 a.m., otherwise it would be over Melbourne before 6 a.m. So, all the passengers on that aircraft had to wait for 1 hour because the sleep of Melbourne people must not be disturbed. But the people of Western Australia are allowed to be disturbed for the whole of the night. I think that the noise problem has to be looked at from more than one angle. If it is good enough to fly jet aircraft over Perth at all hours of the night - and they do fly over it at all hours of the night - it is good enough for the people of eastern Australia to be wakened in the middle of the night, too.
– They are improving the conditions of the workers.
– The conditions of the workers in Western Australia are not being improved nor are the conditions of the travelling public, but it is economical for both airlines because they are operating out of Perth with approximately a 100% load. Because the airline companies do not have sufficient aircraft to provide a service to and from Perth during the day only, they fly their aircraft from Perth while the embargo is on in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. This gives the airline companies an opportunity to get more use out of their aircraft. This is good economics for these companies but it is not a good service for those who have to travel.
I wish to protest at the rationalisation arrangement that has been determined. It is time the flight schedules were considered from the point of view of the Western Australian public. Recently when the Parliament was resuming after a recess of one week, I and other parliamentarians from Western Australia were unable to get a connection between Sydney and Canberra because it was the Labour Day holiday in New South Wales and some of the residents of Canberra who had attended the races in Sydney or some other function had decided that they would return on the only flight available to us, which was the 8.15 p.m. flight. There were six other flights that these people could have returned to Canberra on but they picked out the 8.15 p.m. flight, which meant that those travelling from Western Australia and South Australia had either to stay in Sydney overnight or sit in the airport for 3 or 4 hours waiting for a special flight.
The whole arrangement of flights from Western Australia should be reviewed. Perth is the end of the line. If something causes an aircraft to go out of service at Perth there is no other aircraft to put in its place whereas in eastern Australia another aircraft can be pulled into service within an hour. But I do impress upon the Minister the need to investigate the noise problem. I also believe that people travelling from Western Australia to the eastern States should not be told that they have to sit at Perth Airport for an hour simply because aircraft are not allowed to fly into Melbourne before 6 a.m.
– I regret that I do not have any information for Senator Mulvihill regarding the connection of sewerage to the Bankstown Airport. I will certainly refer his question to the Department and will inform him in writing. Senator Mulvihill also asked a question regarding research into noise suppression. The honourable senator can rest assured that there is a considerable amount of research into aircraft noise suppression. He may be interested to know that the British Aircraft Corporation has a team of experts in Australia at present. One of the subjects that team is discussing with the Government is new technology in the development of low noise engines.
Senator Cant referred to aircraft taking off from Perth Airport at night. Apparently in other capital cities the Department does not allow late night flights because of the noise factor. I do not have an answer to give to the honourable senator at present, but I will obtain some information from the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) when he returns from overseas and will inform the honourable senator accordingly.
– While all the criticisms are being made I should like to change the style a little and pay a compliment to the Department of Civil Aviation. I believe that this Department is one which, administratively speaking, is a model to many others. In my contact with the Department as a pilot, through aero club activities and in my political capacity, I have never received other than the utmost co-operation, efficiency, and impression of efficiency from departmental officers. Although there may be things which could quite validly be raised in commenting on the Department, I do not want it to be thought that the only comments made in this place are critical. For that reason I compliment the Department on the report which it has produced and which I think is very readable. It is a very clear report and one which does the people who prepared it much credit. It is typical of all the projects of this Department which I have seen.
The Air Navigation Regulations do the Department credit also. They are published in a way which I believe should be adopted universally in documents to which the public generally needs to have access. One good feature of the regulations is that they are published in a loose leaf form. When amendments are made a complete page can be taken out and a new page inserted. How wonderful it would be if the States would adopt this principle in relation to their traffic regulations. This is the sort of thing that is being done by the Department. I compliment it so that not all comments made about the Department in this place will be critical.
– Getting back to an examination of the items of the estimates, I refer to the subject that I have raised already with the Minister. But before doing so let me say that I agree with the comments made by Senator Rae. My only reason for speaking now. is to make sure that the trend referred- to by the honourable senator continues. I refer again to the question of the two aerodromes, one at Devonport and the other at Wynyard, and draw to the Minister’s attention a reply to question No. 272 which was. asked on 28th May 1968. For the Minister’s information, I asked what was happening with these two aerodromes and whether .Wynyard and Devonport were included in a- list of aerodromes which were then shortly to bc the subject of a survey to determine their suitability to meet the demands of the developing airways system. The Minister’s answer was:
Yes. Investigations are proceeding on possible developments at both Devonport and Wynyard. This involves both the expected traffic growth at the airports and the types of aircraft which may be operated to them. Decisions made in respect of these airports will be related to these factors.
Although 1 checked my files today 1 could not lay my hands on the answer to a subsequent question which I believe gave some sort of order of priority for the surveys of the aerodromes which were being carried out. I can remember that among the names were Longreach and Townsville-, which at that stage were being surveyed and on which reports were being prepared. I should have thought that by now the Minister could have given me more information on the progress which has been made on the surveys which have been carried out on these aerodromes. Is it not possible for him to give me more information than merely to indicate that in due course some advice will be given to me on this question? I hope that I can get more information on the progress being made as there has been a lapse of 6 months since I first raised this matter.
I refer next to assistance for flying training. The Minister may recall that about 3 years ago this was quite a hot question. There were predictions of a shortfall of available pilots to man the airline systems of Australia. I regret that I cannot refer the Minister to the date when this question was asked because the question was not dated, but at that time a prediction was given that there would be a need to recruit 1,500 pilots to meet the requirements of civil aviation in Australia over a period of 5 years. Can the Minister indicate how the pilot training programme is proceeding and whether there have been enough recruits through the scheme to enable the operations of the airlines to proceed without being hampered by the possibility of a shortage of pilots?
Senator McClelland referred to the noise factor, a subject which was taken up also by other honourable senators. The matter that I propose to raise has some relationship to noise; it is the question of un-burnt fuel fallout over the cities adjacent to the aerodromes.
– The honourable senator will notice that the amount of the appropriation has been reduced for that item by $50,000.
– I had not noticed, but that is a factor on which the Minister may care to comment. The fallout of un-burnt fuel has become quite a serious problem. Notwithstanding that a Select Committee of the Senate is engaged on a thorough examination of the subject of air pollution, I thought nevertheless that this would have been of interest and concern to the Department of Civil Aviation. Can the Minister tell me what sort of research is being undertaken in this regard and whether any remedial measures are in operation or are in sight?
I propose now to hark back, if I may, to the broad subject of the re-equipment of the airlines. Consistent with the comment that I made immediately following Senator Rae’s observations, it is my understanding that the Department of Civil Aviation would be concerned with the viability of the air lines system of Australia not only the economic viability but also that sort of viability which relates, surely, to the important question of the level of service to the public. Notwithstanding the rather brief reference which the Minister made following my earlier submission on this, 1 think we should all take cognisance of the fact that people with some authority and knowledge of the airlines industry of Australia have concerned themselves with making public, as much as they are able, the shortcomings of the system.
Let us face it; this is a mighty big system and there are bound to be shortcomings. As 1 have emphasised in the previous comments that I have made on this subject, where these shortcomings become apparent it is necessary for us to seek out the reasons why the system is not serving the best interests of the country and to attempt to do something to resolve these problems. 1 note in various writings about our airlines system such comments as those which were made by Stanley Brogden in the ‘Australian’ of 31st October 1968.
– Will the honourable senator please tell us what he is talking about? To which item is he referring?
– I am relating my remarks to ‘Administrative*. I am quite serious in what I say. I know that we have had our little bit of fun in the past, but I regard this as a serious matter, and I hope that the Minister will regard it seriously.
– I do.
– Very well. Stanley Brogden wrote in an article in the ‘Australian’:
This situation will not be cured, I fear. The growth factor in the industry is getting away from the capacity provided in the fleets now operated or on order. The Australian domestic airline industry operates on a 70% to 75% load factor, which means that at peak times-
This is the important thing to note: the system cannot cope with the traffic.
There is an abundance of evidence in this respect. One has only to visit airports around Australia at certain times of the year to experience extreme difficulty in booking a flight on the airline that one wants to use. We are told: ‘Unfortunately we are booked absolutely to the limit of our capacity. We cannot accommodate you. The other airline may be able to help you.’ This may be all right, but it kills the free enterprise system about which Government supporters so frequently speak.
Sitting suspended from 5.45 to 8 p.m.
– At the suspension of the sitting I was directing my criticisms at the two airline system as it now operates in Australia. I think it must be conceded that there are areas of the system that ought to be cleaned up. I put the point of view that the Department of Civil Aviation has in fact done quite an outstanding job and 1 would not seek to take credit for that away from the Department. But I believe that its primary purpose it to watch the interests of the people of Australia and to implement the policy of the Government. I would like an assurance that that is in fact what the Department is doing; that it is examining these areas of criticism and suggestions for improvement as they are made and will be proposing the implementation of improvements, if it has not already done so. It is hoped that the Department is taking action to effect improvements to cure the areas of complaint.
The airline system in Australia has grown up. The junior of the two airlines recently celebrated its twenty-first year of operation. I think it is reasonable to suppose that as it has had 21 years of operation - and the other airline has had substantially longer experience - each airline ought to be able to stand on its own feet. If one airline is doing more business than another and this proves embarrassing through lack of aircraft from time to time, as undoubtedly it does, something ought to be done about it. I would like to hear the Minister’s comments on that.
I will go further and raise two other points. My first query is whether any local government authorities or similar bodies have taken over the responsibility for local aerodrome control, which is part of the Government’s policy. My other query relates to an article which appeared in the Melbourne ‘Herald’ of 24th September concerning off-peak air fares. The article stated that a proposal had been put up by TransAustralia Airlines and that the Department of Civil Aviation had said that the plan had been referred to the Arlines Rationalisation Committee. The Committee had not at that time made a decision. An announce ment may have been made since that date. If so, I am not aware of it. I think this is a good opportunity for the point to be cleared up.
– 1 wish to make an appeal to honourable senators. I think the point has been made clear but I would like to emphasise again that it is necessary to finish the debate on the Estimates this evening and to pass the Appropriation Bills. Otherwise the coffers of the Treasury will be empty. I am quite sure that honourable senators will co-operate. I, and I am quite sure other Ministers, will give as much co-operation as we can in answering the questions of honourable senators to the best of our ability. Senator Devitt has asked quite a number of questions which have not yet been answered. Some of the answers are quite lengthy. I will give a summary of them and will send across to the honourable senator fuller details on the points he has raised.
Senator Devitt referred to the shortage of pilots and the assistance provided by the Department for flying training. The funds available under the flying training and gliding scheme for 1968-69 are as follows: Flying training scholarships $175,000; secretariat grant $18,000 plos $3,000, making $21,000 in all; and assistance to gliding $15,000, making a grand total of $21 1,000. The Government is examining a proposal that it guarantee overdrafts to enable small country aero clubs to purchase training aircraft. The honourable senator is probably aware that Qantas Airways Ltd and TransAustralia Airlines have pilot cadet training schemes. Honourable senators may refer to the annual reports of those organisations for more details of the schemes.
The honourable senator asked about the high load factors applicable to the Australian domestic airlines, in particular during the school holidays in September. Under the provisions of the Airlines Equipment Act the two major domestic airlines are required to purchase aircraft of comparable capacity. Agreement within the working of the Airlines Rationalisation Committee has to be reached. As to the future aircraft needs of the industry the high cost of aircraft today means that in many instances to provide sufficient aircraft for all the services that are called upon at a moment’s notice would have the result that both airlines would be over-capitalised. This brings about a certain amount of delay and also means that the airlines do not have the capacity to meet all the requirements of the travelling public. Planning could not be projected on the basis of providing for periods of abnormally high demand. In these circumstances it is conceivable that load factors are high at periods of abnormal demand and that some travellers are unable to book on a particular flight of their choosing. I think that principle applies to most transport systems.
asked what the Department is doing about airport improvements at Devonport and Wynyard. The development of those two airports is included in the Department’s planned programme of works for the next few years. However, no firm proposals have been made as the Department is awaiting knowledge of the definite requirements of the airlines. The honourable senator asked for details of the appropriation for aviation research. The appropriation covers research into problems associated with sealed pavements, airport bird problems, fatigue of aircraft structures, flight loads, research into navigational aids, human engineering research, dynamic test studies, research into jet aircraft, wake turbulence, testing of defective aircraft components to establish the causes of their failure, and other miscellaneous research and test studies.
asked about the reference to the Airlines Rationalisation Committee of a proposal by TAA about off-peak fares. Questions of this nature are always hard to resolve unless it is clear that a net increase in revenue will result in this relatively marginal industry. The Committee met twice but the issue is still unresolved. The honourable senator asked questions about the two airline system. This has been Government policy for quite a number of years now. An agreement has been entered into on the basis of that policy. I am sure all honourable senators recognise the disabilities that go with the system in many respects, but the agreement has still some time to run.
asked whether the Department is examining complaints that have been made. The answer is yes. A committee of inquiry has been operating over quite a long period, taking evidence from a large number of people. I think it was last year that a very searching inquiry was made, particularly into suggestions for rationalisation of flights. At present two planes leave an airport at the same time and arrive at their destination at about the same time. For short periods the airports are jammed and then for many hours they are empty. This aspect was examined. A slight improvement was made, but in spite- of all efforts to obtain a better system I think most of us still feel that there is room for further improvement. However, this is part and parcel of the rationalisation system and the two airline policy. . .
A question was asked by Senator Devitt about the ownership of aerodromes by local government authorities. The answer is that some airports have been taken over by local government authorities. If the honourable senator studies page S3 of the .Department’s annual report he will find further details.
Senator wriedt (Tasmania) [8.10]- I wish to ask two very brief, questions. Have any of the 700-series Viscounts, which have been flying in Australia for 12 or 13 years now, reached 30,000 hours of flying time? Who decides when such aircraft will be withdrawn from passenger carrying service - the operator or the Department of Civil Aviation? The other point is that more often than not services to Tasmania which are scheduled as jet services by both airlines turn out to be propeller driven aircraft services. Has the Department any control over this matter?
Senator mckellar (New South Wales - Minister for Repatriation) [8.11] - Pending further advice from my advisers, I believe that the intention is to phase out the Viscount aircraft that the honourable senator mentioned as quickly as they can be replaced by more modern aircraft. That is the position in a nutshell. That also applies to the honourable senator’s comment on propeller driven aircraft being used instead of jet aircraft. As he will know, both airline operators are continually receiving more modern aircraft such as the Boeing 727 and the DC9. Those aircraft are replacing the older aircraft where they can be used.
– The Minister apparently misunderstood the intention of my question in regard to the appropriation of aviation research under Division 172. I asked specifically whether anything was being done about air contamination caused by the fallout of un-burnt fuel around aerodromes. 1 was concerned not with the items of research as such, but with that particular matter.
– I am sorry if I misunderstood the honourable senator’s question. The only answer that I can give at the moment is that nothing is being done in connection with the matter he mentioned, but it is one of the matters into which, I imagine, the Senate Select Committee on Air Pollution will be looking. He will know that research is going on to see what can be done to eliminate the nuisance to which he referred.
Proposed expenditure and proposed provision noted.
Department of the Interior
Proposed expenditure, $72,649,000.
Proposed provision, $71,194,400.
Proposed expenditure, $756,200.
– I noted the Minister’s comment that he is anxious to complete the consideration of the Estimates this evening. I am prepared to co-operate, but I have a series of questions on the Northern Territory. I am not demanding answers to them this evening. If the Minister is prepared to give me an assurance that I will be able to receive the answers in the next few days, I will be quite happy not to make a long speech.
– I am quite happy to give that assurance, provided that the answers can be given in the time envisaged by the honourable senator. I am quite sure that if the answers to his questions can be made available to him that will be done.
– The Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott), when he was in charge of the estimates for another department this afternoon, suggested that I should ask two or three questions at a time and not ask a whole series of questions. But in the present circumstances I propose to list all of my questions. I believe that that is the most satisfactory way of dealing with them. I will supplement my questions with remarks on the notes for the 1968-69 Budget debate in respect of the Northern Territory. I think that will probably assist the Minister’s advisers to obtain the appropriate information. 1 refer to the appropriation for rent under Division 368. This year’s appropriation of $154,000 represents a considerable increase over the expenditure last year of less than $139,000. Then there is another of these very vexing petty cash accounts. The appropriation for incidental and other expenditure this year represents a decrease of about $7,000 on the expenditure last year. In respect of those two items I would like to know, firstly, on what type of premises the allocation for rent is paid and, secondly, what is the breakdown of the incidental and other expenditure.
Subdivision 3 of Division 368 relates to the welfare of Aboriginals. At the outset I wish to ask what allocations will be made by the new department dealing with Aboriginal Affairs towards the welfare of Aboriginals in the Northern Territory. 1 am advised that the Department will make allocations to Queensland. So I assume that it will make an allocation for the Northern Territory, which will be administered by the Department of the Interior. I would like to be corrected on that point or to have that view confirmed. This year’s appropriation for the maintenance of Aboriginals at government settlements is $1,800,000. 1 would like the Minister to obtain for me the details of the number of people to whom that sum of money will be applied and whether it includes provision for the building, if possible, of a better class of accommodation for the Aboriginals on the government settlements.
This year’s appropriation for the maintenance of Aboriginals on pastoral properties represents a decrease on the expenditure last year. Could I have the complete details of how that money is allocated and, if possible, the number of pastoral properties and the names of the pastoral property owners who are receiving these handouts from Commonwealth funds? I ask a similar question in relation to this year’s appropriation for assistance to missions, which shows a decrease of $36,000 on the appropriation for last year but an increase of about $20,000 over the expenditure last year. Could I have a breakdown of that. appropriation? The appropriation for educational services always confuses me. Either last year or the year before I asked for some details of this item, but I did not ever receive a reply. Perhaps this year the Minister will be able to find out what it represents and to which people or organisations this money is paid.
I refer now to the subsidy for the transport of stud stock to the Northern Territory. I was always under the impression that the pastoral people in the Territory were doing very well. I am sure that this would not be a subsidy paid on the transport of stud stock taken to the Territory in time of drought. Perhaps the Minister could obtain some information concerning that subsidy. The amount is only $50,000. Last year the appropriation was overspent by $19,688. Could we have an explanation of that overexpenditure? Last year’s appropriation for assistance to and development of the mining industry was $31,000, but it was over-spent to a very large degree. In fact, although only $31,000 was appropriated the expenditure was $187,133. This year the appropriation is $15,000. That is a scandalous over-expenditure on such a small appropriation. I hope that if there is to be an overexpenditure again this year we will receive an explanation in advance. Could we be given an explanation of how the appropriation for town services outside Darwin is spent and in what areas it is spent? Is it fairly widely spread or is it spread over only a couple of the major centres?
Also under Division 368, provision is made for the upkeep of official residences. I should like to know how many residences come within this category, where they are situated, and how many of them are occupied by Aboriginals. The provision last year was $38,000, which was underspent by some $2,000. This year a similar appropriation is proposed. Within the same subdivision provision is made for mosquito control in Darwin. Last year the appropriation was $34,000, of which about $23,000 was expended. The proposed appropriation this year is $25,000. May we have some information as to the area of the Northern Territory in which this money is expended? Perhaps it would be very enlightening to Australia generally, to people in the Northern Territory in particular, certainly to myself and, no doubt, to other honourable senators, to learn how many cases of malaria and other mosquito carried diseases were reported last year. One hears some terrible tales about these things from time to time in the Northern Territory. Perhaps the Minister might take this opportunity to examine this subject and give us these details. Item 22 in the same subdivision relates to the maintenance of prisons. An increase of $10,000 is proposed in the appropriation, which was slightly underspent last year. I assume that the Minister is aware that some of the prisons and lockups in the Northern Territory are not fit for locking dogs up, but it seems quite common to lock people up in them. As long as their skins are black, this accommodation is quite satisfactory - or considered to be so by the Administration. If there are to be some improvements we might have details of them. Provision is made in item 27 for railway freight subsidies. There is a slight decrease in the proposed appropriation in comparison with what was actually expended of the allocation last year. May we have details of the type of goods on which subsidy is paid? The next item relates to the subsidy for the coastal shipping service. The appropriation last year was $44,000 - a very substantial sum - of which $38,650 was expended. This year the proposed appropriation is $24,000.
The provision for bushfire control is somewhat confusing. Last year there was an expenditure of $1,700 for special assistance in relation to flood damage, and an appropriation of $50,000 for drought relief by way of a freight subsidy. The year before last I complained very bitterly in this chamber about the drought relief that was given by way of supply of grain and hay, which I think worked out at about two feeds per head of the cattle population for the year, taking into consideration only the drought afflicted area. The final item under this heading to which I wish to refer is the contribution to the operational expenses of Commonwealth Hostels Ltd. Last year the appropriation was underspent by almost 50% . No appropriation is proposed for this year. What happened? Did the Administration get rid of the hostel or is it now a paying proposition?
Points which may help the Minister’s advisers are made in the notes on the Budget distributed by the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon). It is a pity that more departments could not provide explanatory material of this nature, which would be helpful during both the Budget debate and the Estimates debate. For the Minister’s information, let me refer to paragraph 18 on page 3, which relates to fisheries. Reference is made to joint ventures in fishing activities. The document reads:
Three of the companies are joint ventures involving the use of foreign ships and foreign crews for periods not exceeding 5 years.
The following paragraph states that three companies have been given opportunities to select sites for shore processing plants on specified parts of the Northern Territory coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria. I was always under the impression that this area, or a great proportion of it, was an Aboriginal reserve. Does this mean that only those companies which incorporate Japanese in their structure will be allowed to carry out business in normal tribal reserves? If this is so, it is a shocking state of affairs. This matter is appropriately covered in the last portion of the estimates to which I spoke. Paragraph 25 of the explanatory notes reads:
Facilities to mine and ship 200,000 tons of ore per annum were commissioned in 1966.
This item refers to Groote Eylandt. Some considerable time ago I asked what was the possibility of establishing some sort of medical facilities in this very isolated area, to provide for a doctor within reasonable call if not established on the island. In the last few days a man died because medical treatment could not be provided in the area. Is the Department to take a humane outlook in relation to these isolated areas where it is not physically possible to bring in a doctor in an emergency? The Government is prepared to spend tens of thousands of dollars in assisting mining ventures by way of subsidy, cheap land and cheap services, lt ought to be able to spend a few thousand dollars in providing medical treatment in these isolated areas for the benefit of the unfortunate people who are compelled to work remote from medical services and civilised services generally. The explanatory notes state in paragraph 44:
To date the Northern Territory has been a net importer of timber products with local production meeting less than 25% of the Territory’s requirements.
This is a shocking state of affairs, because we are exporting wood chips and other material to Japan at bargain basement prices. The Government talks about providing training and employment for Aboriginals on reserves. I should like to know how many Aboriginals are employed on forestry reserves in the Northern Territory. What is their rate of wages and with what type of accommodation are they provided? How does the Administration propose to spend the appropriation for forestry in the current financial year? In what way is it intended to develop forestry services? I notice that there is a tremendous suggestion that the Administration is to develop cypress pine plantations to a level of 1,000 acres per annum during the current financial year. This is the equivalent of a backyard in the Northern Territory. My information is that this area will not reach 500 acres. If I am wrong, I should like this to be corrected.
The explanatory notes go on to state:
The expected role of forestry in the development of the Northern Territory is likely to undergo a major change during the next 4 years.
May we have some information from the Department as to how this change is to take place?
Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– As Senator Keeffe has indicated that he will be satisfied with answers to be provided at a later date, I hope - and I expect - that the departmental officers will take note of the matters that he has raised and that answers will be available at a date no later than next Tuesday.
– I want to raise matters relating to the appropriations for the Department of the Interior for real estate management, parks and gardens and recreation reserves, and the Commonwealth Electoral Office. I will deal firstly with real estate management. Unlike Senator Keeffe, I alerted the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott) this morning about this matter. I originally raised it on 1 1th September. It relates to ‘an agreement between the Commonwealth and the New South Wales Government over 175 acres of Commonwealth land on the Sydney Harbour foreshores. The land was handed back to the State on the payment of $500,000. On the night of 11th September I raised this matter with Senator Scott. I questioned the decision taken on the basis that I considered that if the land was acquired by the Commonwealth in 1900 under the Commonwealth’s defence powers it should have been released to the State of New South Wales gratis. He made a point in his reply to which i took umbrage. He said I was wrong. He said that a meeting of State Ministers and Commonwealth representatives was held in 1905 to decide the amount to be paid to New South Wales and other States and an amount was fixed. I asked how much was paid at that time and the Minister replied that he did not intend to mention the amount.
I am not seeking a confrontation tonight with anybody. However, this morning I discussed this matter with the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) and I took the opportunity to alert the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott) about it. I hope it is not a matter involving top security. It is a matter, I submit, that is the crux of Federal-State financial arrangements. If New South Wales recently paid $500,000 for this land I would like it to be stated clearly, once and for all, how much the Commonwealth paid New South Wales for it in 1905. I have reasons for asking this question. I made inquiries about the matter through the Leader of the Opposition in the New South Wales Parliament and I was told that State documents for that period had been examined and that no sum of money was mentioned. I have been remarkably patient about this matter. I did not come in cold on the matter in this Estimates debate and I would like a clear cut answer. Senator Scott may have been misled. All I want to know is whether or not any money was paid.
– Is this land at Georges Heights or is it at some other place?
– It is on the Harbour foreshores. The negotiations took place between Mr Lewis and the Commonwealth representative. The other real estate matter I want to raise concerns Club Chambers in Phillip Street, Sydney. I know that the Commonwealth intends to reclaim this property but some of the tenants are complaining that the Commonwealth, because of its intention, has been delaying the effecting of repairs. Later on I will give the Minister the name of the tenant concerned so that he can have the matter dealt with.
I now wish to refer to parks and gardens and recreation reserves. I have been helped in my research by Dr J. G. Moseley who has written a very fine publication entitled National Parks and Equivalent Reserves in Australia - Guides to Legislation and Administration’. 1 think all honourable senators are happy about the creation of the Tidbinbilla Fauna Reserve. I discovered that under the Public Parks Ordinance 1928-42 the Minister for the Interior may. by notice in the ‘Gazette’, declare any unleased land belonging to the Commonwealth to be a public park, reserve or recreational area. So far as Tidbinbilla is concerned, there has been no such declaration under this Ordinance. I am curious to know why that procedure was not followed. Is there an iron clad assurance that if in the future somebody finds mineral deposits in that area the concept of a fauna reserve will not be destroyed?
I will take this matter a stage further. I have a report from the Canberra Bushwalking Club. With the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate in Hansard a brief outline of what the Club proposes for a national park in the southern part of the Australian Capital Territory.
The area which the Canberra Bushwalking Club feels should be reserved as a national park (see sketch) is mountainous country in the southern part of the Australian Capital Territory. It includes some freehold land in the valleys but the greater part of the area is owned by the Commonwealth. Large parts of the latter consist of short term leases for grazing purposes. The Cotter valley is used as a domestic water catchment area. Recently, space tracking installations have been established in the north-east section and roads have been upgraded.
Although most of the lower-lying valley areas have been cleared the hill grazing associated with short term leases has not seriously affected the natural character of the area, and because of its ruggedness and primitiveness it has for long been a popular bushwalking area. The Canberra Bushwalking Club has been visiting all parts of the park proposal area for many years and as a result its members have considerable knowledge of its topography. The high country which forms the divides on either side of the Upper Cotter valley is sufficiently mountainous and remote to have a strong wilderness appeal and the Club is particularly concerned that this land should be given the highest degree of protection possible.
The most important changes which have been foreshadowed in the southern part of the A.C.T. are as follows:
Objects of the Proposed Park
The future use of the Naas-Gudgenby drainage system for domestic water catchment may lead to the provision of additional measures to protect the area against fire and erosion. These measures are in the interests of nature conservation. However, with expected future advances in water treatment and liberalisation of catchment area management policies the range of land use possibilities is likely to be increased. Developments such as productive forestry, including the planting of pines, provision of facilities for intensive recreation and construction of a close road network, are all possibilities which, if permitted, would reduce the natural appeal of the area. The Club believes that it is desirable to maintain the natural character of the area so that it can serve the community’s growing needs for a natural recreation area. We believe that the best guarantee for the preservation of this kind of resource is the establishment of a national park.
Whilst the primary reason for establishing a national park is nature preservation we recognise that water catchment will also become one of the main objectives of land use management. In our view preservation of the natural character of the area involves preservation of the area in such a way that it will evolve naturally with the minimum of human influence. Preservation of the catchment area involves maintenance of water yield at or above the present mean level. We believe that the effect of the national park status should be that any measures to achieve this latter aim should be compatible with the national park objective of maintaining the land in a state of nature. This would allow for restoration of natural conditions but would preclude the increase of water yield by any manipulation of environment involving a change of natural vegetation. It would also mean that fire protection would have to be carried out in a manner causing least damage to natural environment, including wilderness conditions in declared wilderness areas. We do not believe that a deliberate attempt should be made to preserve the man-made valley bottom vegetation (i.e. the open grasslands) unless it is demonstrated that this is essential for fire-protection.
If the natural character of the area proposed by the Club is maintained it will be of great value for recreation and scientific study. The Club feels that an additional objective behind the establish ment of the park should be to encourage appropriate uses. In catering for visitors we believe the emphasis should be on providing the facilities and conditions required by two main types of visitors:
It is felt that there should be no use of the park for intensive recreation. There is ample scope for the development of this kind of recreation area close to Canberra, both inside and outside the A.C.T., e.g. the Mumimbidgee, the Brindabella Range (especially the northern parts), the Queanbeyan River Valley, and the Lower Cotter catchment. Management for these different objectives should be applied by means of an access plan, and a management plan with provision for zoning.
I speak with some feeling on this matter. On 5th August I received a letter from the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) about the future of the Mount Kelly national park - or whatever name it ultimately will have. With the aid of his officers I had the pleasure of an inspection of the area. I went down to Nursery Creek in the Gudgenby area. The Canberra Bushwalking Club, and people interested in fauna conservation, want the Government to make an early decision about this area. They want the Government to make a clear cut decision about limiting the number of roads there. They want a large section to be set aside as a wilderness area. However, there is a problem in that while the Government has complete control over part of this area, some land is occupied by private land owners. I know this represents a problem but I would like the Government to establish a clear cut policy about this freehold land. What is the Government’s attitude towards reclaiming this land as people want to dispose of it? I have no desire to attempt to force the Department to evict the people concerned. However, I am concerned that some people might wish to pass it on to somebody else who wants to create a sort of Gold Coast atmosphere in a bushland setting. I think this would lead to overcommercialisation of the area and I strongly urge the Government to make an early decision about an Australian Capital Territory national park.
In the last correspondence I had with the Minister he said that finance for this purpose this year had been allocated for the Tidbinbilla area. However, people concerned with national parks would like a minimum of 5% of Australia’s acreage to be used for national parks. So far as the Australian Capital Territory is concerned, the area I mentioned represents about 2% of the Australian Capital Territory, or about 11,500 acres of the 939 square miles covered by the Territory. I strongly urge the Government to consider making the upper reaches of the Cotter Dam area a fauna reserve. So far as a national park is concerned - the area desired by the Canberra Bushwalking Club - I know that a growing number of people prefer to hike through bushland areas rather than see them scarred with unnecessary roads.
I now want to refer to three matters which come under the Commonwealth Electoral Office. After every Commonwealth election there are many complaints about the apparent lack of planning at the Tweed Heads polling booths. As most honourable senators know - and I think Senator Gair particularly would be aware of what happens in Queensland - a high number of absentee votes are recorded. At the last Federal election there were from 1,200 to 1,400 absentee votes at Tweed Heads. The complaint is that supplies of the absentee voting blanks run out early in the day. People become very sensitive about having to wait in a queue for a long time in order to vote. I suggest that the Divisional Returning Officer for Richmond look into this matter.
I now want to refer to the electorates of Cowper and Richmond and the overall procedure applied for absentee voting for interstate travellers on the New South Wales north coast. I am referring to the Cowper and Richmond electorates in particular. I know the procedure laid down and I know that people can vote at the Divisional Returning Office. But I doubt that there are unlimited facilities in these two electorates as there are elsewhere. Technology has reached a stage at which various devices are available to streamline clerical work and take a lot of the drudgery from it. In this year of 1968 we could provide better facilities to enable people in holiday resorts to cast absentee votes. What I am advocating for New South Wales would apply to every holiday resort in each of the other States.
Generally, in most of my dealings, I have found that the permanent staff members in Commonwealth electoral offices are very easy to get on with. I think they are dedicated men. But, with respect, as for recruiting casual people to man polling booths on Saturdays I think it is time the Department looked at them to determine whether the people know what they are doing. I am not saying that there are any malpractices associated with voting. I am referring to the ridiculous advice that these casual employees give to people who discover that they are in a different electorate, for example. I can quote the case of a girl who married and therefore changed her name. She was told: “That will be all right. Leave it to me’. But it is not all right. As we all know, the onus is on the individual to make sure of his enrolment before the next election takes place, and I have one suggestion to offer which would overcome this problem to some extent. I do not mind spending a lot of money on good electoral services and I would suggest that consideration be given to the appointment of an additional officer at every major polling booth to act as enrolment officer. I think the Minister will admit that if one of these officers had to change addresses for or enrol 200 or 300 people they would go away satisfied. A special officer appointed to do this work would be able to do it in a much more businesslike way than the way in which it is being done now.
The other point with which I wish to deal relates to electoral procedure generally. I have had on notice for some time now a question seeking information as to whether the Commonwealth Electoral Officer proposes to embark upon an educational programme before the holding of the next election, whenever that may be, with a view to reducing the number of informal absentee votes. Here I take the opportunity of congratulating the Commonwealth Electoral Officer and his staff upon the steps they took to educate the people before the holding of the last general election. A similar campaign before the next election would reduce greatly the number of informal absentee votes. For example, if people visiting the Sydney Town Hall were armed with a white card similar to the cards issued before the last election, they would be assured of being able to cast an absentee vote that would not be informal. I am not speaking here about the ordinary informal vote which may be the case in the person’s own electorate; I am referring to absentee votes and the adoption of my suggestion would go a long way towards reducing the present high percentage of informal absentee vote due to a limited knowledge of the electorate. I leave the matter there.
– I refer to Division 352 which relates to real estate management and commence by saying that my remarks, too, will be brief. I wish to raise with the Minister, and, through him, with his departmental officers, the question of the proposed resumption of land in the Mosman district, near Sydney, for industrial use by the Postmaster-General’s Department. On 23rd July of this year, I wrote to the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) pointing out that there had been a proposal that his Department resume certain land1-
– Order! I have been looking at this division and I think the honourable senator is on the wrong tram when referring to this matter under Division 352. He should speak to it under Division 354 which relates to rent, Postmaster-General’s Department.
– The point I am raising does not relate to rent. It has to do with the resumption of land by the Department of the Interior. This land is not yet under the control of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. It is land owned by private citizens. I therefore assume that it is the function of the real estate section of the Department of the Interior to take steps to acquire this land so that eventually it can be handed over to the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. But whether I refer to it under Division 352 or Division 354 matters not; I intend to put my case.
– The honourable senator is entitled to do that. I am not trying to inhibit him in any way.
– If the Minister cannot answer me now, then he can do so at some other time. I am trying to be as brief as I possibly can. I was pointing out that on 23rd July I wrote to the Minister for the Interior pointing out that I had been approached by residents in the Ourimbah Road area of Mosman complaining that a proposal was being mooted that their homes be resumed by the Department of the Interior for industrial usage by the
Postmaster-General’s Department. As the Minister for Repatriation will know, the Sydney suburb of Mosman is a high-class and quite salubrious area. The grounds of the complaint that I made to the Minister were that the residences are situated in a very well recognised and quite salubrious area; that the advent of industrial1 or commercial buildings in the area will cause depreciation in the value of homes that will remain in the district and that this depreciation will become more acute as other industrial or commercial buildings develop; and that it is claimed that other land equally as suitable for a PMG depot is available to the Commonwealth within the adjacent area.
After the Minister had considered the matter he wrote back to me on 23rd August 1968 and said that as well1 as the residents who had asked me to make representations to him on their behalf the Mosman Municipal Council had expressed concern at the possible establishment of the PostmasterGeneral’s depot in this particular area. He said that the whole position was being reviewed by the Postmaster-General’s Department. The final sentence of his letter was: My Department is taking no further action at this stage’. This means that at the present time there is a black cloud hanging over the future of the people who are living in the area. What I want to know is: Does the sentence: ‘My Department is taking no further action at this stage’ mean exactly what it says, but imply that the Department might take action subsequently to resume the homes for industrial purposes; or does it in fact mean that the Department is going to have a look at the other land adjacent to this particular area which is readily and freely accessible and available to it with a view to using it for the extension of the Postmaster-General’s line depot?
– I am now in a position to give Senator Mulvihill certain information that I did not have earlier when he asked about the prices of certain land. The agreed price for the Steel Point land was $6,000. For the land adjoining Christison Park it was $15,500. The agreed price for the land at Bondi Fort was $65,000 and for the land at Marks Park it was $37,500. The agreed price for the Barrenjoey Headland land was $78,000 while that for the land at Henry Head was 5253,650. The agreed price for the land at Georges Heights was $134,150.
In 1908, the transfer value of the land at Henry Head was $1,800. For that at Steel Point, which is part of Neilson Park, the transfer value was $500. The transfer value for the whole of the land adjoining Christison Park, Vaucluse, was $4,052. For the land at Military Road, Bondi, which includes the whole of the public golf links and 4i acres subject to licences for sewer works for the Metropolitan Water Sewerage and Drainage Board at a nominal value, it was $1,600. The transfer value of the Bondi land off Fletcher Street which comprises the whole of the area known as Marks Park was $2,000. The transfer value of the land at Georges Heights, Mosman, of which part only is involved, was $17,000 and the transfer value of part of the area at Point Barrenjoey Headland, Palm Beach, was $250. I have also some information about the land at Georges Heights. Would the honourable senator like to have that?
– I would.
– I am - informed that this land, comprising about 31 “acres, was property transferred from the State to the Commonwealth at the time of Federation for defence purposes and its value was then set at $17,000. This was the figure agreed upon between the Commonwealth and the State of New South Wales. If the land is returned to the State, it would be for a consideration of $134,150. This is far below the current value. It is a concessional figure having regard to the proposed use of the land. It should be stressed - and we all know this - that land values have risen since 1901. I understand that the State has signified its willingness to pay this amount.
The honourable senator asked about the Tidbinbilla Fauna Reserve. This area has not been formally dedicated as a nature reserve but I am informed that it should be remembered that such dedication does not make such land absolutely inviolate. However, I can assure the honourable senator that the Government has at present no intention of using the land for any other purpose. The proposal of the National Parks Association of the Australian Capital Territory that an area to the south of Canberra be developed as a national park is now being investigated closely. The views of community organisations interested in the area are being canvassed now by the Department.
I have a note relating to land at Mosman. This will not appear in the Estimates. Funds for the acquisition of land for Postal Department purposes come from the Post Office Trust Account. The matter is still being reviewed by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department and we would have to get further information to answer the honourable senator’s question in full. I have not any information on the points raised by Senator McClelland. He has indicated that he is prepared to wait for it until a later stage; so if I cannot get it for him tonight I will have it next week.
– I refer to that section of Division 368 which relates to Lands - Administration and survey, for which the appropriation this year is $375,000. Expenditure last year was just under $218,000. I refer the Minister to items 56 and 57 on page 8 of the explanatory notes to the estimates for the Department. One of the big problems in the Northern Territory is the availability of cheap home building blocks around the town areas. Can the Minister tell us what the ruling prices are and what the Department is doing to reduce them so that working people will be able to make reasonable bids and so that premiums on the blocks will not be too high?
Item 57 in the notes refers to leaseholds such as pastoral, occupation development, pastoral homestead, and mission leases. I know there will be some difficulty in obtaining the information I seek because the headings cover a number of pages, but if possible I should like the Minister to give some idea of how many holdings are incorporated in the pastoral and other leases. This all comes within the administration of the Department of the Interior. This is very valuable information if it can be obtained reasonably easily. I am not trying to be too easy but I am anxious to get the information. If I cannot get it this way I will have to adopt other methods. That is the total of my submissions on the estimates for the Department of the Interior.
– Like Senator Keeffe, I will be very brief in my second entry into the debate. I refer to Division 362 Australian Capital Territory services and relate my remarks to parks and gardens and recreation reserves. I direct the Minister’s attention to page 32 of the annual report of the National Capital Development Commission for 1967-68 and point out that the Commission dealt with the effect of drought on the trees in the Australian Capital Territory, particularly in gardens, and stated that Belconnen, for instance, had been planted with a predominance of native trees. Perhaps at some stage the Minister can indicate the kind of trees that were planted.
In my first submission I referred to an Australian Capital Territory national park and I would be remiss if I did not publicly in this chamber pay tribute to the officers of the Department of the Interior who provided me with the opportunity to be, I understand, the first parliamentarian to go on safari in the Nursery Creek region. There is a lot of controversy about this matter but I hope that before a final decision is made I will be given the opportunity to take another group of senators into the area. I am sure that after a visit there they would agree that it should remain in its present virgin state and not be commercialised; that is, as a wilderness area without roads. 1 leave it at that. Again I thank the officers of the Department of the Interior for the opportunity they gave me. I hope that in the near future other honourable senators will have an opportunity to trek over the area.
– When we were dealing with the estimates for the Parliament I endeavoured to obtain some advice about the programme of extensions to meet the office accommodation problem confronting us and I was told that this matter would appear in the estimates for the Department of the Interior. I am in something of a dilemma because I have looked through those estimates and cannot find any reference to it. Can the Minister give me some guidance and tell me whether any plans are in hand or in contemplation to provide additional office accommodation, particularly on the Senate side, to meet the requirements of Ministers and senators and to provide us with some place to which we can take guests and visitors?
– The honourable senator puts me in a dilemma, too, because we are dealing with the estimates for the Department of the Interior.
– Senator Mulvihill’s remarks have been noted. I am advised that the Department of the Interior will be happy to conduct other honourable senators through the area. I think it is a good idea. I have some other information for Senator Mulvihill which I will send him by messenger. I am informed that it is possible to get information on the matters that Senator Keeffe raised but not before next week. I do not think I can give Senator Devitt much information on the subject he has raised.
– I raised this matter when we were discussing the estimates for the Parliament and was advised that I should raise it during discussion of the estimates for the Department of the Interior. That is why I have done so. I am concerned about this. I have no wish to delay passage of the estimates but I thought this was my opportunity to raise what I regard as a pretty important matter.
– I will ask the departmental advisers to note the honourable senator’s remarks and see what can be done.
Proposed expenditures and proposed provision noted.
Department of Labour and National Service
Proposed expenditure, $10,561,000.
Proposed provision, $395,000.
Administration of National Service Act
Proposed expenditure, $1,035,000.
Post Discharge Re-Settlement Training
Proposed expenditure, $2,000.
National Service - Vocational Training Scheme - Technical Training
Proposed expenditure, $220,000.
– For the benefit of the Minister’s advisers I indicate that I will be referring to Division 370, subdivision 2, item 05, which relates to official publications; Division 370, subdivision 3, item 01, which relates to apprenticeship training; and Division 370, subdivision 3, item 02, which relates to technical training for ex-servicemen. I will also be referring to fees and expenses for the Flight Crews Industrial Tribunal, to the grant to the National Safety Council and to facilities for the physically and mentally handicapped. The first matter I wish to raise is in regard to the very strong criticism of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury). I have debated this matter on other occasions. Therefore, I will not pursue it beyond saying that during the debate on the estimates for the Department of Labour and National Service in another place the Minister con.ceeded that he had criticised the Commission. I simply wish to protest at the comments of the Minister for Labour and National Service and the Treasurer (Mr McMahon). At page 1662 of Hansard of 8th October 1968 the Minister for Labour and National Service is reported as having said: . . I must say something about my own part in this matter because two honourable members opposite have criticised me for castigating or bringing pressure to bear on the Commission. It is true that in one case I did that. That was on 11th December last year in response to the decision made concerning margins and work value in the metal trades industry case. I wish what I said then had not come to pass because that decision was to lead to an enormous number of disputes, bad blood and industrial restiveness. To some degree there is still a hangover remaining.
Much more could be said about the actions of the Minister for Labour and National Service, but I only wish to raise a protest at this stage. I think it would be wise for the senior Ministers of the Government to refrain from making comments about the Arbitration Commission. I do not think that there is any analogy between what a Minister may say and what a shop delegate or trade union may say during a campaign for extra wages. Because of the time factor, I will not make any more comments on that aspect.
I notice that an amount of $70,000 is to be appropriated for official publications. This is a fairly steady item as the previous appropriation was $66,000. What advances are being made in departmental publications? I believe that there is a need for wider publicity by the Department of Labour and National Service. Its officers are, generally, becoming experts in very diversified fields. Although the Department does issue a number of official publications for the benefit of parliamentarians, industry and trade unions, I think that more could be done. I would like to know why there has not been an increase in the number of publications on employment and career opportunities, automation training and so on. The small increase in the proposed expenditure this year would appear to be the result of increased costs. I believe that there should have been a substantial increase in expenditure on official publications this year.
The next point I wish to discuss is apprenticeship training. The proposed expenditure on this item has been reduced from $360,000 to $345,000. I ask the Minister to explain why there should be a reduced expenditure on apprenticeship training at a time when the Department, the Government and employers are trying to recruit greater numbers of skilled workers. Although it may have been partly due to Government activity, it is also certainly due to the advocacy of the trade unions in most of the States that apprenticeship training has advanced to quite a considerable degree. When I say that the Commonwealth-State Apprenticeship Inquiry in 1954 laid the foundation for a very advanced form of apprenticeship training I am simply stating a cold fact. But what I wish to point out to the Government is that no real attempt has been made by the Commonwealth to build on the principles that have been laid down; it has been left largely to the initiative of the States to apply the recommendations of that very important apprenticeship inquiry. I notice that Senator Milliner is at present in the chamber. I know that he is more familiar with this matter than I am. But I know that there is a great need for the Commonwealth Government to do more.
I would like the Minister to inform me - and I am not asking for this information tonight because I believe that a lot of things have to be examined - of what the Commonwealth is doing in conjunction with the States to develop higher standards of apprenticeship training in accordance with the recommendations of the 1954 apprenticeship inquiry. The Commonwealth should not leave the States to act of their own accord; it should be acting in concert with them to achieve these high levels of apprenticeship training, to improve the technical capacity of the apprentices to improve wage rates and also to provide colleges for country apprentices. That is my general submission in relation to apprenticeship^ training. It seems to me to be a matter between the Commonwealth and the States. I believe that the Department should be charged with the responsibility of initiating discussions with the States.
I come now to the question of automation. I do not know under which item of the estimates automation comes. In May 1966, the Department decided to set up what it called an automation research section in the Department. This was as a result of requests from the trade union movement and the Australian Council of Trade Unions that a separate section of the Department be set up to study automation and to make recommendations to industry, to governments and to employers on the need to meet the technological changes taking place in our society and to have regard to. for example, the great impact upon employment of computers and highly mechanised electronic devices. I want to know what item covers the appropriation for this particular section? Is it merged with the general allocations for the Department? Can the Minister tell me the amount of expenditure for this section? What was the initial appropriation to it? Is it intended to expand this section to the type of organisation the trade unions requested?
My next comments relate to a similar section of the Department, the Women’s Bureau. Again similar representations to those made in relation to the automation research section were made for the setting up of this Bureau. The trade union movement and various people concerned with the employment of females argued that a women’s bureau similar to the one set up in the United States of America should be set up in the Department to study the problems of female employees in Australia and also to provide for equal pay. The Department would agree only to set up a section to study the problems of female employees in Australia. Under what item is the appropriation for this section? What staff does the section employ? Are they specialist officers? Can the Minister explain the scope of its work?
I notice that the appropriation for the technical training of ex-servicemen has been reduced from $20,000 to $15,000. I ask the Minister to explain why this is so. It seems to me that there should be quite an increase in the number of ex-servicemen requesting this training as a result of the war in Vietnam. The Flight Crews Industrial Tribunal was, I think, set up as a result of the pilots dispute last year but the Parliament has not had an opportunity to examine its effectiveness. The Opposition opposed the setting up of this Tribunal!. I would like to know whether it is still functioning and whether formal reports have been made about its decisions? Has it become abortive? For example, do the pilots and operators use it?
My next query concerns the grant of $7,500 to the National Safety Council, which is $2,500 less than the grant last year. What is the reason for the reduced grant? Is it because of the work the Council has been unable to do? It seems to me that it would be appropriate to make an appropriation of an amount for this purpose, perhaps to a trade union which has a good record in safety. I should point out that I am making only brief comments in order to save time.
The last matter that I raise relates to the facilities of the employment section of the Department relating to physically and mentally handicapped people. In the debate on the estimates for the Department of Health I referred to people who had been disqualified for permanent appointment in the Public Service because of standards which have been set by either the Public Service Board or the Department of Health, A number of cases have been referred to me in which people have been disqualified for diabetes, epilepsy, mental conditions and for various other reasons. I know that if I telephone the Department of Labour and National Service in my State and ask for special treatment for an individual he will be given special treatment. The Director will instruct one of his officers to examine the case. It might take 2 months to place the person in a job, but usually, because of special attention, the individual’s case is dealt with satisfactorily.
But I am concerned about the large number of people in this situation who go to a local or country branch of the Department looking for employment They are not exactly brushed off, but their application is treated lightly. Two issues arise here. The first concerns the standards which the
Department ought to apply to Government departments. It should recommend certain standards and the relaxation of existing standards. Perhaps I should refer at this point to the efforts which have been made by the Government in this regard. On 23rd August 1967 the then Prime Minister, Mr Harold Holt, made a statement about the employment of epileptics. He said, and I refer to two points only to make stronger the argument that I am submitting:
The Government also recognises that some epileptics do find some difficulty in obtaining private employment, and has for many years assisted them in two ways.
I go to the second point in which the Prime Minister said:
Secondly, the Department of Labour and National Service seeks to overcome the reluctance of those employers, who, for any reason, are not anxious to employ people suffering from this affliction.
Representatives of the Department have told me, and I know it to be an established fact, that although the Department endeavours to place in employment people who in many cases have minor disabilities or who have been rejected by their own department, it cannot force employers to take them. Each Government department has to rely on its own judgment in deciding which people it will employ. Within our community there is a trend towards recognising the advance of treatment and the ability of physically handicapped people to work. Yet we are unable to place them in employment. This is for two reasons: First, because employers have a reluctance to employ them; and second, because the Department of Labour and National Service has not sufficient specialised sections to cater for them.
I should like the Minister to tell me what consideration has been given to the establishment of a specialised section of the type I refer to. Perhaps its establishment may depend upon the budget of the Department, but in my view there should be a special section in the same way as there is a section to deal with automation and there is the women’s bureau. There should be a section of the Department of Labour and National Service with a special budget and adequate staff to enable it to place in employment physically and mentally handicapped people. I know that the Minister’s advisers will say that they have been talking about this problem for a long time to union representatives and employers. Officers of the Department spoke to me as a Labor Council secretary about the problem in 1956, but what has happened since then? Each of us can cite cases of people who have not found it easy to obtain employment. If a member of Parliament is sympathetic he goes out of his way to help them find employment. In the Department there should be specialised officers who receive a special appropriation from the Government for this special purpose, especially when the Government says that it believes in helping the handicapped people. At this stage I shall leave the other questions that I had intended to raise with the Minister.
Senator cavanagh (South Australia) [9.14] - I propose to refer to the administration by the Department of the National Service Act which we amended last year in such a way as to impose a greater burden on the Department to ensure that those who are required to undergo national service training in fact do so. In my opinion the Act is now administered too thoroughly and the question arises whether the Department is acting in the best interests of the country. But the question I raise now is one that I mentioned some weeks ago during question time. I refer to Robert Charles Mowbray who has been prosecuted because he refused to register for national service. He claimed to have a conscientious belief against national service. Possibly because he knew that under the Act he would be required to pay a penalty for not registering, he sought a means of avoiding his obligation to serve toy taking a position in a territory outside Australia.
He wrote to the Minister asking to be exempted from service to enable him to go to New Guinea as a teacher. He has quite good educational qualifications. He states that because of his conscientious belief he initiated correspondence with the Minister for Labour and National Service and the Department in August 1967. He says that at that time he registered his deep objection to the Act and the fact that he could not conscientiously register for military service. He states:
I have graduated in science from, and am at present studying part time social studies at, Sydney University. I am working with the Research Section of the Department of Child Welfare and Social Welfare.
In March of this year an opportunity became available for me to serve, in a voluntary capacity, as a science teacher at the Martyr School, Agene.hambo, Papua, with the Australian Board of Missions which requires urgently such a teacher. On 2’4th March I approached Mr Bury for permission to leave Australia and undertake this position. He refused permission for me to enter Papua. The Bishop of New Guinea since has inquired regarding the matter and I wrote to Mr Bury again on 29th July. I have been accepted for the post and had received from the Department of External Territories advice that my application to enter the Territory had been approved, subject to me obtaining permission from the Registrar, National Service Office, Sydney. In a letter received in August the Minister refused again to give the necessary permission. In September I received a letter from the Chairman of the Australian Board of Missions, advising that the position was still open and that the headmaster would like me to commence duty as soon as possible.
This is a young man who has the necessary qualifications and who is prepared to serve in Papua and New Guinea where we are unable to get teachers and where we have an obligation. The United Nations Visiting Mission to the Trust Territory of New Guinea in 1968 states at page 89 of its report which has just been made available to honourable senators:
According to official estimates, 39% of the children aged from 6 to 15 are at school. From discussions in Port Moresby, the Mission understands that about 50% of children now reaching school age will attend school.
It is only a hope that 50% will attend. The report continues:
One of the principal reasons why the percentage is not higher is said to be the shortage of teachers. An encouraging development is the lively interest displayed by local government councils in the building of schools.
The paragraph concludes: lt is to be hoped that the opening of the Goroka Teachers Training College will help to build up the number of teachers and enable more new schools to be established.
Therefore the only hope for the near future is to get 50% of those of school age to attend school, but nothing further can be done because of a lack of teachers. An effort is needed to train teachers to meet the requirements of the population. The Department of External Affairs issued a paper in respect of the recommendations and conclusions of the Thirty-Fifth Session of the Trusteeship Council on the Trust Territory of New Guinea concerning the report of the United Nations Visiting Mission to the Trust Territory of New Guinea. That paper states at page 11, under the heading Educational advancement’:
The Council notes the views of the Visiting Mission on the use of overseas volunteers and agrees with the recommendation that a more affirmative approach be taken to recruit and train persons in greater numbers for a minimum of 2 years service and that these efforts be supplemented by a greater use of volunteers from such other countries as are willing to make them available and as the Administration sees fit to ask.
People concerned with the advancement of Papua and New Guinea are making an effort to introduce educational improvements there but they are somewhat hampered by an inability to obtain teachers. A young man in Australia has reached the age at which he qualifies for registration as a national serviceman and is prepared to go to New Guinea to fill a need there. He feels that he cannot undertake national service because of his conscientious beliefs. The question to be decided by the Minister and his administrative officers is whether the young man is of greater value in filling a need as a teacher in Papua and New Guinea than in occupying an Australian gaol because of his failure to undertake national service.
This is an important matter because he is willing to undertake service where it is needed. Accordingly I asked the Minister a question on this subject. I think that was 2 or 3 weeks ago. I am uncertain because the date on which I asked the question is not shown on the answer provided. Senator Keeffe has requested that the dates on which questions on notice are asked be shown on the answers provided. I hope that the President will heed that request. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) supplied the following answer:
The National Service Act provides that a person who has registered or is liable to register for national service shall not leave Australia before commencing to render service under the Act unless he has obtained the permission of the Secretary of my Department in writing.
Mr Robert Mowbray applied for permission to leave Australia to take up a teaching position with the Australian Board of Missions in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea for 21 years.
Mr Mowbray is liable to register but has refused to do so, in breach of the National Service Act. He is, moreover, liable to render service and has not discharged that liability. In the circumstances there was no alternative but to refuse his application.
My complaint is that the last sentence in the answer is not correct. I believe that the Minister is totally incorrect in that statement. There is an alternative. There is nothing in the National Service Act that was amended by Parliament last year that denies the Minister or the Secretary of the Department the right to grant anyone permission to go anywhere. An offence is committed by an individual who is liable for national service and who leaves Australia without obtaining the necessary permission, but the Minister can as well give permission as withhold it. From time to time the Minister must make decisions on whether a young man would be of greater service to Australia in an occupation he seeks to undertake than he would be even if he were prepared to undertake national service. Section 56 of the National Service Act states:
A person who is liable to render service under this Act shall not leave Australia before commencing the service which he is required to render in accordance with this Act unless he has obtained the permission in writing of the Secretary. Penalty: One hundred pounds.
A transport company which transported the lad to New Guinea would be liable to a penalty if he left Australia without permission. If he left Australia he would receive less punishment than the punishment he would receive if he stayed in Australia. In order to enter New Guinea it is necessary for him to obtain the permission of the Minister for External Territories as the young man stated in his correspondence. The Minister for Externa] Territories has said that it is all right with him, subject to permission being granted by the Department of Labour and National1 Service. The Minister for Labour and National Service has refused permission, as is his right. However, in his reply to me he stated that he has no alternative. I submit that he does have an alternative. There is nothing in the Act to say that the Minister cannot give permission if he so desires.
– Is not that the situation once he has registered? This fellow has refused to register and therefore has broken the law.
– It is the case of a person who is liable to register. Whether he has refused or not, he has been fined for breaking the law. But the position is that he cannot take up the occupation of teacher in New Guinea where he could give valuable service. The United Nations Visiting Mission to the Territory reported on the need to progress in the area of education and the need for qualified teachers. Australia has an opportunity to Supply a qualified teacher to educate the children in New Guinea. We have a responsibility to educate those children but we are not prepared to take the opportunity to send a young man there for that purpose.
– Will the honourable senator admit that he is a law breaker?
– I wish Senator Marriott would keep quiet. He is not so interested in the advancement of Papua and New Guinea as he is in getting someone into Long Bay gaol because he will not follow the military dictates of faulty Australian legislation. The point I am making is that there is power for the Minister to give the necessary authorisation for the young man to go to New Guinea. It is not true for the Minister to say that he has no alternative. In his wisdom he has refused to give permission. Is it proper administration to deprive of an opportunity for education a section of a Territory for which we hold the responsibility? Failure to take the opportunity cannot be compensated for in future years. At a time when we are unable to educate more than about 50% of children of school age in Papua and New Guinea the Minister is depriving those children of the services of a teacher. Alternative teachers are not available. The Minister is determined that this particular individual will comply with requirements under the National Service Act.
There is no shortage of servicemen under the National Service Act. This young man has conscientious beliefs which he feels prevent him from undertaking national service. Whether he can prove that to a court is another matter. Eventually he will spend 2 years in an Australian gaol because of his conscientious beliefs, irrespective of whether they are conscientious beliefs in accordance with the Act. He will be branded for life as a criminal although he wishes to take an opportunity to assist a most deserving section of humanity. The only thing that is stopping him from giving service to the children of New Guinea is the action of the Minister.
I respectfully submit that the Minister should review this case. The Minister for
Works (Senator Wright), who represents the Minister for Labour and National Service in the Senate, has the capacity to make a legal analysis of the Act and to point out to me where in the Act it is stated that the Minister has no alternative. I submit that he has an alternative. There is no doubt that this fellow could be more effectively used in Papua and New Guinea.
-(Senator Drake-Brockman).- Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– I direct the Minister’s attention to the appropriation of $10,000 for the fees and expenses of the Flight Crews Industrial Tribunal under Division 370. We remember the airlines strike, of course; but what intrigues me is that if a normal strike took place we would never see an advance towards the expenses of one side or the other in these estimates. I would like to know why $10,000 is to be made available for the fees and expenses of the Flight Crews Industrial Tribunal. There is a similar situation in respect of the dispute involving Qantas Airways Ltd. There is an appropriation for the fees and expenses of the chairman of the negotiations between Qantas and the Federation of Airline Pilots. It appears to me that in those two instances, in which flight crews of Qantas and the internal airlines were involved, the Government has come to the aid of somebody. It may be that this is something new; that flight crews do not normally go on strike and therefore there was no machinery to deal with the strikes when they occurred. The Government probably attempted to provide the machinery. Anyway, I would like an explanation of those appropriations.
Also I would like an explanation of the appropriation of $4,500 for the fees and expenses of the National Labour Advisory Council. I know of an organisation with a title similar to that, but I could not imagine it receiving any money from the Government. I would like to know where that money is really going. Three weeks or a month ago I put a question on the notice paper. Senator Wright, who represents the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury), answered it this morning. The question was:
The Minister’s reply was: 1 and 2. It will be apparent to responsible people-
I do not know whether that means that I am irresponsible - on reading the judgment that the $1.35 wage increase was arrived at after due consideration of all the relevant factors put to the bench during the national wage case. In a free country the Press is entitled to make such comment as it thinks fit on matters of current interest.
I believe that it is important to the Government if almost the whole of the Press of the nation - the quoted words came from the ‘Australian Financial Review’ - seriously makes these charges against the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, including the one that the figure was plucked out of the air. The employers have said the same thing. The unions, of course, have said the same thing, although they have said that the figure was plucked out of the air from too low a level and that it should have been higher. What I am getting at is that there is a great deal of dissatisfaction with arbitration throughout the trade union movement, on the employers’ side and in the public mind. Behind the scenes a big struggle is going on as to who is robbing whom under the arbitration system and as to whether the trade unions, organised labour and employees generally are not getting the rough end of the stick under arbitration.
What concerns me most - I would like the Minister to comment on this - is that the reply given by the Minister for Labour and National Service seems to suggest that the decision of the Commission just amounts to three judges coming together as a bench without having any prior formulae or ideas on the basis of the case, and waiting to hear the evidence that both sides present. It seems like the hearing of a charge of murder, in which the court has to wait to hear all the evidence before it gives its decision. I believe that in this instance there should be some standards or guide lines, because the economy of the country and the Commonwealth Budget are related to the wage rates that are paid. That is why the Government was waiting to hear the wage rates before framing the Budget. Because wage rates are so important, they should be the subject of more than just a cursory examination by the Commission of the evidence given by both sides; principles also should play a part in wage discussions. These wage rates have a wider effect than they used to have. Now the economy of the country is related to the wage rates that are declared by the Commission. I would like the Minister to consider this question sympathetically, if he can. I have asked it before. Frankly, I do not understand why the formulae and methods used in arriving at wage rates are not better known to the public. Wage rates and salaries are really the basis of the national economy.
– I will not detain the Committee for long as quite an amount has been said on this issue already. However, I desire to make one or two observations. It appears to me that Federal awards are extending. I know that they are extending in Queensland. In some other States there is a vast number of Federal awards. In fact, I would say that the vast majority of workers are covered by Federal awards. Although that is not the case in Queensland, the trend there is towards the extension of Federal awards. Whether that is for good or evil is beside the point. The point that I make is that additional inspectors are not being appointed to police the awards that come under the jurisdiction of the Department of Labour and National Service. Let me say that I know of no union in Queensland which is severely critical of the officers of the Department. Nor are the unions critical of the State Department of Labour and Industry. I believe that we can say unanimously that we receive complete cooperation from the Department of Labour and National Service. Nevertheless there are some aspects of it which we believe could be strengthened.
I refer now to the grant for the National Safety Council. Although it is only a comparatively small amount, it permits me to say that the Department fails in this direction. This is no criticism of any individual. Perhaps it results from the difficulties of federalism. If any employer wilfully defaults, he should be prosecuted. I know that the Department goes out of its way in endeavouring to get employers to see reason. But unfortunately some employers deliberately defy awards. When a union puts a matter in the hands of the Department, it investigates the matter and ascertains that the complaint is justified. Then the record is sent to Melbourne. By the time it goes back to the branch office of the Department quite an amount of time has elapsed and the Department is quite likely to say: ‘We will not prosecute because we do not like prosecutions’. I believe that attitude is wrong.
If a matter is put in the hands of the Department of Labour and National Service and it finds the complaint of the union is justified and the employer has defaulted then I believe the Department should take the responsibility for the carriage of the prosecution. A classic illustration was that of an employer in Queensland who deliberately evaded the award. The union did everything possible to get him to see sweet reason about it and then it was put in the hands of the Department. A conciliator was sent from Sydney to handle the matter but the employer refused point blank to discuss the matter in front of him, saying that the conciliator had no rights in the matter whatsoever. Eventually the Department launched a prosecution about 7 months after we initiated proceedings through it. The employer pleaded guilty and the employees who were deprived of all this money got practically nothing because the magistrate would not order that the employer make retrospective payments.
– What was the offence?
– He had females working on machines for which a male rate of pay was prescribed but he was paying the female rate. Another difficulty that is experienced from time to time is that there are State and Federal awards operating within an industry in the same State. I do not know how this can be overcome, but perhaps the Department may be able to assist. Unless an employer .is cited as a respondent under the award or is a member of the employers’ association he is covered by the State award. Immediately upon joining the employers’ association he becomes covered by the federal award and consequently employees lose a considerable amount of money each week because as a result of the determination to keep the Queensland State basic wage flowing - and assuming that there is a federal basic wage - the State basic wage is about $3 a week higher than the federal basic wage so we have an added difficulty.
I am not suggesting that that is the fault of the Department, but nevertheless I believe it is something that could be looked at in the interests of industrial peace because it does cause some difficulty. 1 have referred previously in this place to employers seeking coverage under a federal award when employees are under a State award. This has caused innumerable industrial disputes in Queensland. This is understandable when, as I related previously, a worker’s wages could be reduced by up to $3 a week. Workers cannot afford to have their wages reduced overnight by up to $3 a week. I suggest that the Minister may be able to discuss this with the respective Departments of Labour and Industry to see whether this problem can be overcome so that an employer cannot force his employees to work under a federal award unless the union and the employees elect to accept that award. I am most disppointed with the proposed appropriation for apprenticeship training. All the way along the line workers are asked to accept new methods of production in industry. Unions go out and encourage their members to accept the new techniques. I know of several people who have travelled overseas for further training. A classic illustration of this is an instructor at the Brisbane Central Technical College who won a Churchill Memorial Fellowship. He travelled overseas and came back with a particularly good story in relation to this own industry. He has addressed many workers on the job and at branch meetings and has travelled into the country to tell people of these changes in production.
Workers accept the fact that they will have to change their methods of production because of the new technology that applies, particularly in America. But the workers then say: ‘How are we to learn this?’ There is no answer because the elementary machinery that is necessary to train apprentices and to retrain tradesmen is not at central technical colleges at the present time. I asked a question on that very subject in this place the other day and the Minister appeared to be quite sympathetic. I hope he will pursue it to see that a further allocation of money is made available to the State governments so that they can introduce some of this elementary training machinery that is necessary because of the changed methods of production. If that is not done we will have redundancy on a high level. We will have industrial disputes because we will have a situation where employers say: ‘This is not the work of the tradesmen’, and we will have head-on clashes in the establishment. It will be agreed that that must be avoided where it is at all possible. I suggest that if we start training the apprentices in the new method of production then we are starting in the right direction. Then in turn we can re-train the tradesmen. 1 wish to return now to Division 370, which I assume covers salaries to be paid to the employees in the Women’s Bureau. I do not think that the Women’s Bureau is sufficiently active in industry. In 1964 there was a convention decision at the International Labour Organisation on the changed conditions of women in employment. That was quite a strong decision and it should have been accepted by the Australian Government. At this stage I do not think Australia is a signatory to it, but if it is all the provisions are not being carried out. I would suggest that there are many avenues today by which females can be assisted in their employment. For instance, has there been any attempt to provide for part time employment? The Minister may say that that is the responsibility of the unions and the employers. I agree that it is their responsibility, but nevertheless they can be assisted in this direction by some positive leadership from the Department of Labour and National Service.
Senator Bishop referred to the rehabilitation of the disabled and the difficulty in finding jobs for these people when they are re-trained. In 1954 the ILO spent almost a month hammering out details for the rehabilitation of the disabled. One of the principles accepted was to the effect that when disabled people are re-trained employers are required by virtue of that convention to employ them to the extent of 3% of their work force. That does not happen here. I have indicated previously in this place that I am interested in the establishment of a sheltered workshop in Brisbane. It is the responsibility of several people to try to raise $275,000 for that purpose and I know that the Government will subsidise that amount $1 for SI. The point I make is that nowhere in the estimates do we find anything of that nature. I commend to the Minister and to his departmental officers the proposition that perhaps it would be an advantage, if they know that a project of this nature is being sponsored in any of the States, to provide some appropriation for it in the estimates. Perhaps the Minister may say that that appropriation comes under another department altogether such as the Treasury or the Prime Minister’s Department.
I would also like the Minister to advise the Senate as to what happened to the proposal when - I think it was in October 1966 - the State Ministers for Labour and Industry and the Minister for Labour and National Service conferred on industrial matters. One of the most important things to come out of that conference was the decision that conditions of employment for apprentices were to be uniform for the States. At present there is an anomalous situation in Queensland in that apprentices under State awards work under different conditions from those under Federal awards.
This is not good for the apprentices. It is bad enough for tradesmen. I believe there should be uniformity of conditions of employment in the same industry. The trade union movement is in favour of uniformity. The Minister may be able to advise me of what happened as a result of that decision. There are other matters to which I would like to refer but I will not seek further licence because they are matters relating to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act and I shall refer to them in a subsequent debate.
– Senator Bishop referred to the appropriation for official publications of the Department of Labour and National Service. I think it will be sufficient for his purposes if I say that last year expenditure under this heading totalled $50,627 and that this year the appropriation is $70,000. I do not propose to read the whole list of publications but the chief publications and the appropriations for them are as follows: Industrial Information Bulletin’, $17,000; Personnel Practices Bulletin’, $10,450; and Career Pamphlets’, $26,000. There are several other detailed publications.
The honourable senator next referred to the reduction in the vote which provides financial assistance for apprenticeship training. Last year the appropriation was $360,000 and this year it is $345,000. If I understand correctly, the position is that together with the employers allowance the financial assistance for apprenticeship training is dependent upon an average taken over a group of, I think, 5 years. The annual up-dating of the base years against which the employers allowances are calculated will again have the effect of reducing the estimated expenditure at the level of $14,857. This accounts for the general intake of apprentices is estimated to require additional expenditure of $10,500 for living away from home allowances. Putting the minus against the plus, one gets a minus of $14,857. This accounts for the general reduction in the estimate of about $20,000.
Senator Bishop next referred to automation and suggested that the Department of Labour and National Service should be giving it attention. I wish to inform the Senate that the Department has a special section to study automation and technological changes. It has established a programme of studies and reports on these studies are being prepared and published. The appropriation for this work is included in that for official publications. The reports of this section are to be found in the various publications.
– I knew about this. I said the section was formed in 1966. 1 asked the cost of maintaining the section and whether the staff was adequate. I referred also to the Women’s Bureau.
– I will take a note of the honourable senator’s question and if we do not have the information I will supply it later. With regard to the women’s bureau, it is staffed by qualified research officers who work to a research programme and from time to time produce publications. One of the recent important studies dealt with was the very important subject of equal pay. I think Senator Milliner also referred to that matter.
Senator Bishop next referred to the appropriation for technical training for exservicemen which covers tuition, textbooks, equipment and living allowances. The appropriation this year has decreased by S4.000 on the appropriation for last year. According to the information I have, the expenditure charged under this heading is incurred in connection with training under the Korea-Malaya training scheme and the disabled members and widows training scheme. The expenditure includes fees for tuition, full time, part time and correspondence trainees; books, requisites, equipment and other expenditure incidental to the training; reimbursement of examination fees; subsidies paid to employers at whose establishments trainees complete training to 100% proficiency; costs of issues of tools of trade to full time vocational trainees; and living allowances paid to full time trainees. The downward trend in the appropriation takes into account that training under the Korea-Malaya training scheme has been completed and that the expenditure under training for disabled members and the widows training scheme is showing a slight easing as the numbers available for training decrease. I understand that the rehabilitation of repatriation people comes under the appropriation for the Repatriation Department.
The next item to which Senator Bishop addressed attention was the appropriation for the Flight Crews Industrial Tribunal. I think Senator Ormonde also referred to this subject. The estimate this year for the Tribunal is $ 10,000. Expenditure last year under this heading was $754. As honourable senators know, the money is used to provide the services of Professor Isaacs, who was appointed as Tribunal. I am informed that the Tribunal was involved in something like forty-six sessions this year. The appropriation of $10,000 is a general estimate of what will be absorbed in that service. Reference was made to the grant for the National Safety Council. The payments under this grant are being reduced as a matter of gradual policy after consideration of the item by the Treasury.
Senator Bishop also referred to facilities for the employment of physically and mentally handicapped persons. The only information I can give to the honourable senator is that so far as employment within the Commonwealth Public Service is concerned, the standard in respect of these disabilities is prescribed by the Public Service. So far as the Department of Labour and National Service is concerned, it has a special section to deal with the placement of handicapped people in employment in industry. I am instructed that there are special representatives of that section in all
States in which the Department has officers. Senator Cavanagh referred to a refusal to grant permission to a Mr Mowbray to leave Australia after he had refused to register, I think, under the National Service Act. The honourable senator was good enough to read the answer which I gave in recent days, and which I had received from the Minister himself. In that answer the Minister said that Mowbray had been refused permission to go to take up a teaching situation in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. If I may be permitted to say so, I can see the point that Senator Cavanagh makes in relation to the last sentence of that answer. That sentence was: In the circumstances, there was no alternative but to refuse his application.
– You do not agree with that statement, do you?
– If the honourable senator will please let me develop my point of view I say, out of consideration to his argument, that I see his point of view. If you construe that sentence as meaning that the Minister or the Department said that in those circumstances the law precluded the Minister from giving permission, then the sentence is not accurate. But if you read it in the light of its context, having regard to the antecedent behaviour of the person, then all that it is saying is that, having regard to that situation, it would never be considered that a person who was deliberately disregarding the law would be given permission to go out of the country for the purpose of escaping the law. I understand the difference between Senator Cavanagh’s viewpoint and the Government’s on the justice of the law. But that is an issue that he would not expect me to debate here tonight.
Senator Ormonde referred to the fee that is not being provided this year for the Chairman of Qantas Airways Ltd to attend a conference. Last year $5,000 was appropriated for this purpose, and the expenditure was $2,248. I have not the name of the chairman. I hope the honourable senator will not think it is relevant. But it will be remembered that the conference in question related to a most important industrial dispute which, I remind the honourable senator, involved Qantas in a loss of $12m. I am now informed that the Chairman was Sir Leslie Melville. I would think, therefore, that nobody would consider the sum in question incommensurate with the value of Sir Leslie’s services.
Senator Ormonde also referred to criticism that he found in some publication of the basic wage increase of $1.35 granted by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in which it was suggested that the figure arrived at was just something plucked out of the air. I hope the honourable senator will agree that in this chamber I adopt as conciliatory an attitude as possible with regard to industrial matters. I believe that it is essential. All I wish to say is that in my opinion the Minister would be very ill-advised indeed if he directed himself to individual criticism that was expressed in the public Press in that way. I have no reference to the 1966 conference to which Senator Milliner referred. I do not clearly understand its application, but if the honourable senator will give me particulars I shall certainly obtain for him any information that he feels he requires.
Senator cohen (Victoria) [10.5]- I wish to refer to one matter. It relates to Division 757 - National Service - Vocational Training Scheme - Technical1 Training. It would appear that the appropriation sought for this year is approximately four times as much as was appropriated last year. I suppose the need for that is obvious enough with considerable numbers of national servicemen being discharged and becoming eligible to apply for some assistance under this scheme.
But I want to draw attention briefly to one or two features which indicate to me that the provision being made under this scheme is hopelessly inadequate. Section 44 of the Defence (Re-establishment) Act authoritises the Minister to establish this scheme for the vocational training of honourably discharged national servicemen. This is a scheme which operates administratively. Apart from the authorising statute, the terms and conditions on which assistance may be given is determined by the Minister. I am not going to use this occasion to discuss the problem of ministerial discretion that has arisen in the Senate before, but a perusal of sections 44 to 46 of the Act will indicate that many things may be prescribed by the Minister. These things include conditions of payment of fees, the provision of equipment, books and so on.
What I am concerned about is that under this scheme full time training benefits are limited to 12 months, in general. The only exceptions are those cases where there is some sickness or some emergency beyond the trainee’s control. From an answer that the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar) gave me today, it appears that there have been some 236 applications from discharged national servicemen for training courses of more than 12 months duration. That means that there are going to be 236 disappointed applicants because full time assistance is limited to 12 months. Assistance for part time or correspondence courses is available for 2 years.
If it is thought that a discharged national serviceman is worthy of assistance - and this is limited to those who are in need of training for effective re-settlement in civil life because that is the term of the administrative order setting up the scheme - what on earth is the point in limiting the amount of assistance these men can get to 1 year? Even though an applicant may be going to start a 4 or 5 year university course or a 3 year diploma course, he is eligible for only 1 year’s’ assistance as a full time student. Most of these courses, especially the university courses, are obviously more suitable for full time study than for part time study. Again, we are here dealing not with youngsters of school age but with men who have completed, in the normal course, 2 years national service and who are likely to be somewhere in their twenties before they start under the scheme. Many of them are married. For the life of me I cannot see why it is not possible to construct a different scheme under which, in appropriate cases, where a trainee wishes to commence a 3-year, 4-year or even 5 or 6-year course, the assistance would be given for the whole of the course. Under the reconstruction training scheme introduced by a Labor Party Government at the end of the 1939-45 war, all men and women with more than 6 months service were entitled to the benefit of a full time course of training, if they were eligible. Once chosen, they were eligible for education right to the end of their chosen course.
I could elaborate on this question at length. I see many defects in the scheme but, basically, it seems to me to be miserable and inadequate, once you accept the premise that it is proper for certain persons to be re-educated. I emphasise, too, that, because of the nature of the ministerial directive, they will be eligible only if in the opinion of the Regional Committee they are in need of the training for effective resettlement in civil life. That still may be unnecessarily limited; but if you accept that and the decision is formed that they are in need of such training for effective resettlement, I cannot see why a more generous scheme should not be implemented and why, in due course, it should not be the subject of prescription by regulation so that we can test it and have it amended from time to- time.
– I say at once that the honourable senator has said sufficient to interest me in the time limit. I am grateful to him for his observations on that subject. The appropriation represents the increase which is anticipated on the basis that the honourable senator mentioned. The limiting of training to 12 months is a matter which I will pursue with interest.
– I refer again to the grant to the National Safety Council which is covered by Division 370 and to which Senator Bishop referred earlier. I ask my question in the hope that further information may be made available and also in the hope that the line of policy, which it has been indicated is to come up for consideration again, may be altered radically. I understand from the Minister’s reply to Senator Bishop that this grant was reduced from the fairly small sum of $10,000 last year to $7,500 this year as a matter of gradual policy, after consideration by” the Treasury. The impression left with me is that this matter -is being determined on financial considerations only and ‘ that the views of the Department of Labour and National Service, if it has any views with regard to the Council, are’ not in any w.ay relevant to the decision to reduce the amount.
I believe that the National Safety Council, the work that’ it does and the potential that it would have if it were financed correctly should command the attention of the Department in a vital way. I understand from estimates and inquiries which have been made, by the Council that the cost of industrial accidents to. the Australian economy is in the range of $ 1,000m a year. I say quite deliberately ‘in the range of $ 1 ,000m a year’. I understand that members of the Council have undertaken estimates and have come up with sums ranging from $500m and $750m up to $2,000m a year. Those are striking sums and we should be concerned whether that kind of cost to the nation can be reduced.
The cost of industrial accidents has both its direct and indirect side. The direct cost is obvious and can be seen in hospital expenses’ and workers compensation payments, but the indirect side is to be found in the loss of man hours and productive capacity. Of course it must be a’ somewhat difficult matter to assess the indirect costs and that is where variations will occur according to the estimates you take; but I also understand, relying on the same source of authority, that if the effort is made there can be phenomenal reductions in the accident frequency rate and therefore a tremendous saving.
In those circumstances is there anybody in this country which is interested to promote the activities which will bring home to those concerned the need for remedial action? I think that the only body which exists in this country - it is charged specifically with this kind of work - is the National Safety Council. The work which the National Safety Council can do is essentially of a voluntary character. Primarily it will be concerned to interest management - and top management - in the need for industrial safety, because that is where the real obligation lies. If management is concerned and makes safety an important aspect of overall policy, that will permeate throughout the organisation. - ,
In addition there is the normal education which is part of any process of reform. There are innumerable ways in which industrial safety measures can be introduced, but this is essentially a voluntary ‘activity in which the job of the Council is to bring home in a direct way the work that can be done. For that it needs money. It needs money to promote lectures, to produce publications and . to . train those persons who would provide a service and facility and who would move around giving others the advantage of what they have learned. I cannot understand - I would be grateful if the Minister- would elaborate on it- what is meant by the reduction in the allocation to $7,500 as a matter of gradual policy after consideration by the Treasury.
One final point on this indicates that there should be some rethinking. In the estimates for the Department of Shipping and Transport it will be seen that the sum of $234,000 is allocated each year for the promotion of road safety practices. Undoubtedly work done by road safety councils, nationally and in the States, is of tremendous importance; but why is the National Safety Council and the work that it does put on such a different level with an allocation this year of $7,500 compared with the allocation of almost a quarter of a million dollars to the road safety councils? I appreciate that industry supplements the sum which is received by the National Safety Council, but the whole approach appears to me to be inadequate. The tendency to reduce the amount - I understand this has been the subject of protestations by the Council - is a matter which I would suggest should be reconsidered.
– I am grateful to Senator Greenwood for the argument that he has directed to us. However he is not entirely clear on the matter. The National Safety Council was set up by employers in industry and the initial grant was to enable it to set up a federal secretariat, nothing else. The item was first included in the estimates in 1963-64 and the grant has been made annually by special approval of the Treasurer at the rate of $10,000 for each year up to and including last year. From the current year for which we are making an appropriation it is to be reduced progressively. This is on the basis that there are special officers in the Department whose explicit duty it is to consider the provision of safety mechanisms and the innovation of safety procedures. They of course work in co-operation with their opposite numbers in the State departments. As the honourable senator will know, the State departments have special sections dealing with safety.
Whether this inter-relationship of government departments is sufficient is a matter on which I would not be satisfied and I would urge no conclusion at the moment. That is why I say that I am extremely grateful to my colleague for directing attention to this. When he emphasises, from his special experience of industrial accidents in the practice of law, the extreme cost of those accidents to the community, then I think the matter is especially valuable and I shall be interested in probing it further and examining the facts and the conclusions that should be arrived at.
– Despite the urgency to conclude the Estimates debate, I think it is important that I should again raise the case of Robert Charles Mowbray. I was very interested in and rather pleased with the Minister’s reply to the points I had raised previously because he seemed to confirm my opinion. I believe that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) has the power legally to grant permission to this person to leave the country, but the Minister does not believe that he has a right to permit him to evade the laws of this country. Robert Mowbray refused to register for national service. He has since been fined by a court for this failure.
I do not wish to condemn the National Service Act. I know that one has to accept the provisions of the Act however unjust one may believe if to be. But this individual was prosecuted in a court for refusing to register for national service and was fined. He will eventually pay the fine or serve a term of imprisonment. Under the provisions of the Act he is now deemed to have registered for national service. Although this person has not filled in any application for registration under the Act, the Secretary of the Department can deem him to be registered. He has been notified that he is deemed to be registered. Therefore, he is in complete compliance with the Act. Although he fell foul of the Act by refusing to register, he has been prosecuted, a penalty has been imposed and he is now in compliance with the Act. A person who is liable to render service under the Act may not leave Australia before commencing the service which he is required to render in. accordance with this Act. But a person is not required to render service under the Act until such time as he is called upon to do so. Therefore, Mowbray is not in breach of any law at this time. It is very doubtful that he comes under the provisions of section 56 of the Act. He wants to go to an area, entry to which requires permission from another Minister.
– Has that not been given? 1 thought the honourable senator said earlier that the Minister for External Territories had given permission.
– The Minister for External Territories has agreed to give permission subject to permission being granted by the Minister for Labour and National Service. I query whether this permission is necessary at this stage. It is a condition that the Minister for External Territories has laid down before he will permit this person to enter the area. This may be an involved legal question of whether the Minister for External Territories can impose such a condition when a person is not in breach of the National Service Act. This person is not required at this stage to render service and he will not be until he is called up. He may miss out in the lottery. But the whole point is: Where can this lad best serve Australia in the interests of humanity under the present circumstances? If he is forced to do national service he will at all times be a reluctant soldier. He has the opportunity of helping to advance the development of a backward country by way of educating its children. Australia is committed to assist in the development of this country. A United Nations Mission has reported that the Administration of the Territory is handicapped through a lack of manpower with the same qualifications as this person. He is prepared to go to that country to help. He is not a Communist or a demonstrator. He has stated:
As a young man who believes that only through fearless giving of ourselves in constructive programmes can world society be changed and social justice and world peace be achieved, I hold a conscientious objection to the National Service Act. I believe that conscription for military service is immoral.
That is his belief. For that reason he will not do national service. It is not a question of his objection to fighting; it is a question of his objection to the National Service Act.
– He has applied to a court to be adjudged a conscientious objector?
– No, he has not; and his particular objection will not permit him to do so. His objection is that the National Service Act is immoral and to seek any benefit under an immoral Act would be a breach of his conscientious belief. This is a well-founded belief. He has an appointment with a religious educational authority in New Guinea. His conscientious belief is such that it deprives him of the right to seek benefits under the Act and permission to leave the country is refused to him until such time as he is asked to give military service. I wish to ask two questions of the Minister. Firstly, is he not entitled to obtain permission to go to New Guinea until such time as it has been established that he has to do military service? If so, where could a person with the high moral principles of this lad and with the academic qualifications he has, best serve the interests of humanity? It is a matter of whether the Government believes that the protection of Australia can best be achieved by guns and not by the education of children. Here is a lad who could be usefully employed carrying out a valuable service to humanity for which everyone would praise him but because of a Minister’s interpretation of an Act he is debarred from carrying out that service.
– I thought I had made it clear to Senator Cavanagh that although he had interested me in the administrative side of this matter prima facie I am not at all persuaded that his legal argument is correct. I would like to indicate that of those who have applied for exemption from national service on the grounds of conscientious belief less than 20% have been refused. I have listened to the honourable senator’s submission attentively and will ensure that it is given consideration.
Proposed expenditures and proposed provision noted.
Department of Education and Science
Proposed expenditure, $96,529,000.
Proposed provision, $12,960,000.
National Service - Vocational Training Scheme - University Courses
Proposed expenditure, $135,000.
– There are many mattersto which attention could be drawn in dealing with these estimates, but so far as the education aspects are concerned I expect that there will be an opportunity next week or the week after for a substantial debate on Bills to provide for State grants.
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Chairman do now leave the Chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the negative.
– I was saying that we will be afforded an opportunity during the debate on the States Grants (Secondary Schools Libraries) Bill and the States Grants (Pre-school Teachers Colleges) Bill to discuss some of the broad matters of policy that are at issue between the Opposition and the Government in the sphere of education. 1 do not propose in the circumstances tonight to spend a great deal of time on pointing to areas in which we feel that the Government either is not doing ils job correctly, is not doing enough or is not moving into areas of activity that we would hope to see as part of the Commonwealth’s responsibility. But I would not want to let the debate on the estimates for this Department go without saying briefly one or two things, particularly in relation to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. I think it is always proper to acknowledge in a discussion of these estimates that in the CSIRO we have a research institution of very great importance to Australia.
– To which division does the honourable senator relate his remarks?
– Division 246 - Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. 1 am confident that you could not ask me to be more precise than that, Mr Temporary Chairman, because the whole of the appropriation is contained in one line. It is for the purposes of expenditure by the CSIRO under the Science and Industry Research Act, and the estimate of proposed expenditure is S33.5O0,00O. I repeat my acknowledgement that we have in the CSIRO a research organisation of very great importance to Australia and one which is doing outstanding work, When there was a Bill before the Senate in the last sessional period to streamline the administration and financial processes of the CSIRO we discussed in this place some of the principles that were to be applied.
I propose to refer briefly to only one or two matters in relation to the CSIRO. I mention first the CSIRO estimate of expenditure for 1968-69 and some brief explanatory notes which were circulated with the estimates. Page 21 of the booklet refers to the Division of Fisheries and Oceanography. It will be seen there that the expenditure for 1967-68 was $696,000 and that for 1968-69 the estimate is about $710,000. The point that 1 want to make is that although the area of fisheries and oceanography is one of principal Government activity, there has been no significant growth in recent years in the amount of expenditure on the type of investigations that are involved in this branch of science. The expenditure on investigations for 1964-65 was $712,000. Now, 4 years later, the estimate is $710,000. It is common ground that whatever the reasons - the cost of living, the cost of carrying on work - because of the many components that go into costing one could expect that an increased concentration on an area of scientific research such as oceanography and marine science would require a rising expenditure. However, we seem to have reached a static stage. Perhaps the lack of growth of the Division is due partly to organisational circumstances domestic to the CSIRO. But I wanted to draw attention to the apparent lack of disquiet in the Government about this matter.
We are faced wilh challenges in this field of oceanography. There is competition from Russian and Japanese marine scientists working in our continental shelf waters, and indeed this situation was pointed out to the former Minister for Education and Science, who is now the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), in this chamber by Senator Murphy in May 1965. This is something which I suggest may need a full dress debate, because oE the importance of marine science generally, than can be attempted in a discussion of these estimates. I suggest that there would be a need for a plan of co-ordinated development of research in marine science, including provision for the -training of undergraduates and postgraduates in oceanography. marine biologists and geologists, the establishment of appropriate research institutes with adequate financial support and so on. A pattern has been shown in places such as Canada where marine science and oceanography are well established and where there is solid government support” for their development.
At this formative stage we perhaps need to be thinking about the future organisation because the spotlight is coming closer on to some aspects of this. There is the problem of the whole of the Barrier Reef, not only as to scientific aspects but also as to other aspects such as mining and oil operations in that part of the world. There are the repercussions and implications involved in the development of the Reef. I acknowledge that the interest of scientists in marine science is very considerable and that this is very welcome, but in the absence of a more coherent and established national policy we are perhaps likely to spread our efforts a little too thinly over a few institutions and organisations and that would hamper the effective development of the work. At this stage 1 do no more than draw attention to this as an important field and say in relation to the estimates that one would have expected at least some evidence of accelerated growth of research on the subject and greater expenditure. This is a field in which one must test what is happening not solely in terms of what is spent, but that is some indication of an expanded interest.
Another matter that I propose to mention briefly is the importance of travel grants. As I understand the position, in the CSIRO opportunities for overseas travel by scientists are much more limited than in the universities. In the universities there is the notion of the sabbatical leave of one year in seven to enable a scientist to take a year away for research, travel and study to bring him up to date with all that is important in his field outside his own country. My information on this subject is that CSIRO scientists are rather lucky to get 1 year in 10. Even then, if they take a short trip to an international conference lasting perhaps only a few weeks, they may find that they have had it and it will be a long time before they get another trip.
We cannot give too much attention to the development of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. It is an important national institution.
We do not begrudge the money spent on CSIRO. We want to see its work expanded in a significant number of directions. Next, at some stage - the Minister may not be able to do this tonight - I would like to have a more elaborate definition of what is comprehended by the ‘and Science’ part of the function of the Department of Education and Science. We are more or less aware of the things being done in education and the way in which investigations are proceeding. We are even able to assume something of the trend of future development, although that may be debatable and not always a matter on which we are in agreement. I have felt for a long time the absence of a definition of what is being done under the heading of ‘and Science’. What are the targets in terms of science policy, the elaboration of scientific objectives and their pursuit in an orderly way in a department which presumably should in due course develop to play the sort of role played by departments of education and science in other advanced countries? I am hoping for something more explicit than we have had until now.
I am pursuing this in an inquisitorial manner at this stage, rather than in an attempt to point to inadequacies. Frankly, one is pampered in debating these activities without accurate information as to what is going on. I would appreciate a specific indication from the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) or the Minister for Works (Senator Wright), who represents him in the Senate, as to what we are to look forward to in these areas. I do not expect that to be given necessarily tonight.
– I desire to direct the attention of the Committee to Division 230 - Administrative, and Division 246 - Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. I was very interested in the remarks of Senator Cohen and particularly in his plea for study in the field of marine biology. I believe there is tremendous scope for study of the sea. I am very encouraged to know that in South Australia, in the Lamb Laboratory at Flinders University, there is now a very strong department of marine physical science. This department consists of a number of devoted scientists and students, particularly post-graduate students who are doctors of philosophy. They are working in connection with the measurement of tides and measurement of the southern ocean in respect of temperatures, salinity and the direction of currents. It is believed that they will be able to make a most useful contribution lo weather forecasting in Australia providing the measurements can be taken over a sufficiently great area. The Royal Australian Navy is assisting by providing a vessel occasionally but 1 imagine that further assistance will be needed in the more regular provision of vessels., not necessarily by the Navy. I commend to the Senate the importance of marine sciences, both biological and physical. 1 particularly invite the attention of the Minister to an article which appeared in today’s Adelaide ‘Advertiser’ headed ‘$2m Plan for SA Ores Institute’, lt refers to a plan put forward by Professor E. A. Rudd, Professor of Economic Geology at the University of Adelaide, for an institution which he recommends to be established in South Australia as a centre of training and research in mineral exploration. The plan is for such a centre to carry out research and (raining and to provide refresher courses for professional earth scientists. Adelaide is to be made the centre for these studies. Professor Rudd estimates the cost of establishment at about $2m and an annual budget at less than $200,000. He gives as his reason for the proposed establishment of the centre that at the present time the Australian Mineral Development Laboratories are situated in Adelaide; the University of Adelaide has Australia’s only chair in economic geology; the appointment of Australia’s first professor of geophysics is now to take place; South Australia is developing as a centre for studies in microelectronics through work at Texas Instruments and the Weapons Research Establishment at Salisbury; and the University has recently approved the establishment of a centre for pre-Cambrian research to develop studies of the ancient rocks in which most of Australia’s mineral deposits are found.
I stress that at this time such an intense post-graduate study and research in the earth sciences is of tremendous importance to the mineral development of Australia. To date very little co-ordinated research has been done in mineral development. I com mend to the Government the aims of Professor Rudd as reported in the article lo which 1 have referred. I understand that the South Australian Government, through its Minister for Mines, is greatly interested in the project but has indicated that a decision on the location of the centre rests with the Commonwealth Government. I put to the Government that it is high time thai in Adelaide the Commonwealth directed its attentions to the establishment of such a centre. Professor Rudd did not mention Flinders University. 1 believe that the Minister is well aware of the existence of that University, lt is specialising in the marine physical sciences. Work in that field has been proceeding in Adelaide for over 70 years. Work that was conducted in what was known as the ‘School of Mines’ may well be brought to fruition and a very noble conclusion with the establishment of an ores institute in South Australia.
I remind the Minister that much of the development of the Broken Hill mines and of smelting in Port Pirie is due to the efforts of men trained in the South Australian School of Mines in North Terrace, Adelaide, which commenced operations about 70 years ago. 1 hope that the Commonwealth will foster this line of educational and scientific development. 1 would like lo know whether the Commonwealth Governmen t has heard anything about this project from Professor Rudd or the South Australian Government. Can the Minister lel me know what is the Commonwealth Government’s reaction to the proposal of such a project?
In respect of Flinders University it is interesting that it won an award of merit by the Royal Australian Institute of Architects for 1968. It is acknowledged by architects as one of Australia’s finest universities. The point 1 wish to stress is thai it was built to a rigid budget. It was built from a disciplined conception on a dominating site. I commend the Government on its interest in the building of universities, and particularly one that has been built, most economically and has won this important award.
– I wish to make a few remarks on the appropriation for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in Division 246. I have always been an admirer of the work of the Organisation. I receive quite a lot of its reports. For many years I received them in the work that I was doing before I came here. I believe that the work done by the CSIRO is of such value that we should always see that it receives adequate funds to carry out the work that it can do for the benefit of Australia and that it is not restricted. But that is not really what I want to mention. I want to do something that is perhaps quite unusual for me. I have been criticising at every opportunity during the Estimates debate. Now I want to draw attention to what the CSIRO has done in comparison with what the PostmasterGeneral’s Department has not done. I refer to the very fine report of the CSIRO for 1967-68. It covers many facets of the work of the Organisation throughout the year.
I also draw attention to the booklet on the estimates of expenditure for 1968-69. It is the sort of thing for which I have been asking in respect of every department. We should be able to refer to a brochure such as this one and tick any items in which we are particularly interested, see the amount of money that is proposed to be spent on them, criticise them constructively and reach a conclusion on the questions that we want to place before the appropriate Minister at the appropriate time. I have gone through this booklet. I find that it meets all the points that I had in mind when I discussed this matter previously. It is not my practice to throw bouquets unless I believe that they are warranted. This booklet is the sort of document that should be available in respect of the estimates for each department, so that we will know exactly where we are. If one department can do it, other departments can do it. I hope that this practice will be introduced by all departments. I do not want to raise any questions. I just want to put forward my point of view on the way in which the CSIRO has dealt with its estimates.
– I was glad to hear Senator Cohen reaffirm the Parliament’s faith in the efficacy of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. It is an organisation of which Australia has been very proud for many years and which we have come to regard as one to which we are much indebted in respect of our development. Senator Cohen mentioned specifically oceanography and fisheries. He referred to the publication on the estimates of expenditure for 1968-69 and invited me to say why the figure for the Division of Fisheries and Oceanography had remained relatively static, providing for an increase of only Si 2,000 this year.
The fact is that the work of the Division is changing in the sense that research on some species, such as salmon and tuna, is being concluded and those programmes are currently requiring less expenditure. The Division is now turning towards more intensive research on prawns in northern Australia. While the work is still at an early stage, the Executive of the CSIRO is currently examining the situation to see what further work might be done. I think that leaves us all with the imporession that there is some force in Senator Cohen’s suggestion that the Organisation might even consider strengthening its work in this area of research. I believe that recent events indicate to us that the importance of our fisheries and the other economic aspects of oceanography to which Senator Cohen referred - namely the discover)’ of oil and the exploitation of our precious Great Barrier Reef - may require that somebody give early attention to the matter.
With regard to the travel grants to which Senator Cohen referred, my information is that we have about 1 ,000 scientists and that each year about 100 of them receive travel grants. That corresponds with the viewpoint put by Senator Cohen. I would be very hesitant to interfere by putting any suggestion to the Organisation as to the adequacy of travel grants. I believe that it is in the best position to comprehend the requirement for travel grants for its scientific staff.
– But it may not be receiving all that it wants. It may even be pleased to hear somebody suggest that it receive more.
– That is quite so. It may deserve the encouragement that the honourable senator gave it. If he does not mind, I wilt abstain from making any attempt properly to define the aspect of science in the Department of Education and Science. I suggest that one day we should debate that in this chamber and try to develop a forward line of thinking.
Senator Laught was good enough to refer to the Flinders University. I am pleased to say, even at this late hour, that, being in Adelaide last Saturday afternoon after discharging other duties, through the courtesy of Senator Laught I had the opportunity to visit the University. Being informed today through the Press that the University had secured an architectural award was a matter of no mean satisfaction to me. We saw there a complex of buildings costing only about $8m but wonderfully set up and landscaped and looking back over Adelaide from a prominence. I was led around by the ViceChancellor, Professor Karmel, who displayed extreme courtesy and a willingness to give of his time on a Saturday afternoon. I appreciated that immensely. I convey my congratulations to all associated with the construction of the Flinders University. Honourable senators may be interested to know that the Commonwealth share of the capital grant for that University in the current triennium is $2.lm and that our recurrent contribution during the current triennium is $2. 6m. So a total of $4. 7m has been made available by the Commonwealth to that University.
Senator Laught was good enough to refer to another very interesting matter, namely, the news that came forward today on Professor Rudd’s announcement. I wish lo inform Senator Laught in particular and honourable senators in general that Professor Rudd’s proposal has come to the knowledge of the Commonwealth Government, but that as yet neither Professor Rudd nor the South Australian Government nor any university has put any specific formal proposition to the Commonwealth Government. However, the professor has outlined his views in an address to the Australian Petroleum Exploration Association, which has undertaken to pui a paper before the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser). The attitude of the Commonwealth Government is one of very great interest. It will need to consider whether some special contribution should bc made for this purpose and, if so, what is the best method of making it. The views of a number of Commonwealth agencies will be important for the Government in its consideration of the matter. 1 have in mind the Australian Universities Commission, the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Advanced Education, the CSIRO and the Bureau of Mineral Resources. The attitude of the mining industry itself will be a consideration. These agencies will be consulted in connection with this project and we look forward to quite a purposeful decision in that connection. May i acknowledge gratefully the references that Senator Wilkinson made to the booklet on the estimates produced by the CSIRO? This is all the more significant to the Senate because this is the first year in which the detailed estimates have not been put in the published printed document. As this has been made an autonomous organisation, there is a one line entry. 1 think that that discharges my duty so far as the examination of the Committee has gone.
Sitting suspended from 11.1 to 11.30 p.m.
– I seek elaboration on two matters. It appears that this year the Commonwealth will provide a total of $217,000 for school transport services. Actual expenditure last year under this heading was $179,000. I would be interested to know the general reasons for the increase but, more importantly, what change has taken place in the transport services provided. In particular, does that change involve a more’ expensive service than the service which it appears was provided in other years by the City Omnibus Service?
The next point on which 1 seek information relates to the reference in the Estimates to the student allowance for independent schools. I note that last year there was an expenditure under this heading of $104,000 whereas the proposed expenditure this year is $240,000. I would be grateful for anything the Minister could tell me about the nature of the student allowance paid in relation to independent schools and as to why there has been an increase in the amount provided.
– I wish to refer briefly to a matter which comes under the appropriation for the administration of the Department of Education and Science. The matter relates to university students who reach the age of 21 years. The Minister for Works (Senator Wright) may perhaps clarify the situation for me. I refer to the particular case of a young man who, upon winning a bursary, went from Hobart to a university in Melbourne to study architecture. While he was below the age of 21 years, his parents, naturally, had the advantage of the allowances permissible under the taxation laws for the education of their son. It now appears that all benefits accruing, other than the payment of the bursary, have been cut off since the student concerned attained the age of 21 years. Let us face it; a student cannot qualify in the field of architecture before turning 21. Therefore I suggest that the Minister should look into this matter to determine the possibility of extending more benefits to students, or to the parents of students, over the age of 21 years. Perhaps the Minister may be able to give me some information about concessions that can be granted to assist parents involved in such cases as I have mentioned. In many instances both parents work very hard to keep their children at universities.
– I will answer first the submission made by Senator Greenwood about transport services. The items he referred to in the Estimates provide for the operating loss incurred in transporting children to and from school by government buses. The cost of these services has risen due to increased mileages travelled, particularly in the Woden Valley and Belconnen areas. Concessional rates applicable to school children travelling on buses outside normal school times also have contributed to the need for the increased provision this year. The provision for contract services for school transport covers the transport of school children by contract bus services in the Canberra and Jervis Bay districts. It includes payments to the New South Wales Government and subsidies to parents in Jervis Bay and Wreck Bay. The honourable senator also referred to incidental and other expenditure. This involves the City Omnibus Service. I do not have the information but I will provide it later.
Referring now to the student allowance for independent schools, since the beginning of 1968 the Commonwealth has provided student allowances in respect of independent schools in the Australian Capital Territory. Payments are made at the beginning of each term so that payment for two terms was made in 1967-68. The rates are to be substantially increased from the beginning of the third term in 1968 as a further con tribution to the running costs of independent schools. The rates are as follows:
I will look into the matter that Senator Poke raised and let him have the information in the form of a letter, if this is convenient to him. I feel it would be more accurate.
Proposed expenditures and proposed provision noted.
Department of External Territories
Proposed expenditure, $90,510,000.
Proposed provision, $283,800.
– i want to mention a fairly large number of matters. Perhaps I can reach the same arrangement with the Minister as I did in relation to the previous matters we discussed in this Estimates debate and incorporate the answers in Hansard at a later date. I wish to refer firstly to the appropriation for the Cocos Islands. The appropriation sought for this year has jumped to $217,000 from an expenditure last year of $93,703. I think this is deserving of some explanation. There has also been an increase of approximately $10,000 over the expenditure for last year in the amount sought for messing subsidy. This item, too, merits some explanation. I come now to Division 278 which relates to Norfolk Island. 1 am rather critical of the Government here. We know that there are some strange company registrations going on at Norfolk Island. Under this division, the sum of $66,000 is sought as a grant to the administration towards expenses, and $10,000 is being appropriated for the restoration and maintenance of historical structures.
I understand that some sort of investigation is going on in this area with a view to ascertaining where the people who are registering companies on Norfolk Island stand with relation to the Australian law. I do not see any provision made for legal expenses connected with this investigation. The Minister might explain how the investigation is being financed. Is the money to be provided from mainland funds, through the AttorneyGeneral’s Department or some other department for this investigation into what I believe are fake companies?
I turn now to Division 280 Papua and New Guinea where we find the bald statement that $87m is to be provided as a grant to the administration towards expenses. Various heads of expenditure under this item are set out in attachment B to the explanatory notes which have been circulated but in my opinion not enough detailed information is provided. ‘ I am critical also of the fact that this section of the Estimates has been gradually pushed down the list until it has become the second last to be debated. The Territory of Papua and New Guinea is of tremendous importance, especially with regard to its relationship with Australia, and much more time should be spent on discussing the estimates under this division. I hope that next year these estimates will be brought on for debate much earlier so that more honourable senators may participate in the debate and more opportunity will be accorded us to obtain full details.
I now request that the expenditure proposed under item 01 be set out in more detail, and in a way different to that in which it is set out in the explanatory notes. For example, in the explanatory notes we have merely a bald reference to proposed expenditure on education. Is the amount mentioned to be expended on the payment of the salaries of teachers, or does it cover the building of new schools? There are a great number of headings under which 1 find shortcomings with relation to finance. This could be the position also in connection with Administration. In the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, things are happening that are not good for this country. In the long term, they are not going to be good for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, either.
One of my whinges whichI think is a legitimate one I do not know whether this applies to any other honourable senator is that I am not allowed to go to the Department in search of information. I did this on one occasion some time ago and was rapped over the knuckles because I did not first seek the permission of the Minister. I want to know why this sort of restriction is placed on members of Parliament. I have not encountered the same difficulty with any other Government department. If I want information from any other department, I am able to approach it and obtain the information I seek. This is good policy. Before this Department became the Department of External Territories, I sought certain information from it and was told that I was doing the wrong thing that in future I was not to approach the Department without first seeking permission from the Minister. That is a very shabby way in which to treat anyone who is trying legitimately to obtain information for legitimate purposes.
Apparently the Minister is attempting to overcome this grey area in relation to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea by publishing what 1 call ‘twaddle’ every so often. I shall quite some of the headings under which it is published. They are:
Administrator’s Executive Council in Papua and New Guinea.
Engineers and Architects wanted for Papua and New Guinea.
Economic Growth in Papua and New Guinea.
Osaka Display Boosts Papua and New Guinea.
All thearticles contain the very minimum of information and they are published merely as a sop to those people who take little or no interest in the Territory. I have a whole host of them. They are not worth the paper they are written on and do not help in any way to build up any sort of permanent relationship with the Territory.
Some time ago, I asked in this place whether in fact what amounted to an avowal of loyalty to the permanent head of the Department was required of the Administrator of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. The Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) furnished this reply:
There is absolutely no truth to the allegations made in this question. As the question is framed, it appears to be an unwarranted reflection on a public servant whose vigour, enterprise and ability have contributed very materially to the advancement and well being of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.
– What was the question?
– If the honourable senator attended here during question time he would know that. 1 refer him to question No. 623 on the notice paper. It is now reported in Hansard and was answered by the Minister on 17th October 1968. It will only prolong proceedings if I read the whole of it now, and I do not want to do that. The honourable senator can look it up for himself, or, if he prefers it, I shall let him have a copy later. I have a communication from the Territory which suggests to me that in fact what the Minister told me and the Parliament was quite untrue. I do not propose to allow the matter to rest there, but I shall not enlarge on it tonight. 1 should like to see the appropriation for item 01 dissected so that we may know what amount is payable by way of salaries to expatriates and to indigenous people. This is not set out in attachment B or any of the subsequent papers in any detail, although here I point out that I am grateful for the attachment. Through it we have had more help than we have had from some other departments. But there should be more details as to how the appropriation is made up.
One of the problems we continually hear about concerns the quality of the junior members of the staff. I am referring here to the expatriates who go to New Guinea for a year or two - I understand that 2 years is the minimum period - and eventually become tourists. Some of them think they are experts. They are only a handicap to those people who have been rendering genuine service for many years and who do a tremendous job because they have the interests of the Territory and of Australia at heart. One can understand it is not the top expatriates who can be attracted to the Territory when one reads elaborate advertisements such as those carried in most daily newspapers in Australia as recently as 21st September of this year offering such salaries as $4,000 to $7,268 a year for a single man and $4,473 to $7,628 a year to a married man if appointed to the position of land utilisation officer. The position of plant nutrition officer was advertised at a salary of $4,113 rising to $7,268 a year for a single man or $4,473 rising to $7,628 for a married man. This man is required to have at least a diploma or a degree. The salary advertised for a livestock officer ranged from $3,938 for a single man to a maximum of $6,596 for a married man. The salary offered to an experimentalist ranged from a minimum of $3,938 for a single man to $6,596 for a married man. For an animal ecologist the salary offered ranged from a minimum of $3,694 for a single man to a maximum of $5,917 for a married man.
That offered to a field suupervisor ranged from $3,418 for a single man to a maximum of $5,078 for a married man.
In the same issue of the particular paper from which I am quoting, the salary offered to a mining products salesman, with all the comforts of mainland Australia ranged from $4,000 a year upwards. That offered to a constable of the Commonwealth Police Force ranged from S2.770 to $3,030. That offered to a commercial manager was $10,000 a year plus all sorts of fringe benefits, including a car. All he had to have - and I do not say this in any derogatory manner - in order to qualify for appointment was not a university degree but an accountant’s diploma. The salary offered for a sales representative with an air conditioning organisation ranged from $5,000 to $8,000. That offered to an engineering salesman ranged from $6,000 to $7,000 and that offered to a management accountant ranged from $7,000 to $8,000. In all cases, the salaries offered in Papua and New Guinea, except in one case, could be obtained by people who were not required to hold any university degree whatsoever. lt is even worse for the indigenous people, because the number in the higher education group is limited. Very few of them are qualified. Earlier in the session I asked for some details concerning the cut down in the allocation of funds for the university at Port Moresby. The Minister supplied a reply which got around the question very nicely. The indication was that no one was unhappy about the allocation. The sum received was not the sum that the university required and 1 hope that next year this aspect will be given closer consideration and the appropriate sum of money made available.
Those are the things that I feel should be mentioned at this time. I regret very much that the Government has seen fit to bring on these estimates for debate second last on the list. I regret that we are not getting the truth from the Minister and 1 suggest-
-(Senator Drake-Brockman).- Order!
– 1 rise to a point of order. I refer to standing order 418, which provides that no senator shall use offensive words against a member of Parliament. I take exception to the words used by Senator Keeffe.
– For Senator Sim’s information, I noted the occasion on which Senator Keeffe used the word ‘untrue’. 1 did not object to it because of the sense in which he used it, but I objected to his suggestion that we were not getting the truth from the Minister and I called him to order.
– 1 was completely unaware, Mr Chairman, that I had offended in any way. I summarise by stating that the things I have mentioned are uppermost in importance. I regret that we have not more time to discuss this section of the Estimates in greater detail. 1 repeat that the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) is not doing an effective job and I hope that when a reallocation of portfolios takes place the Minister’s occupancy of this one will be reviewed seriously with a view to his removal.
– As requested by Senator Keeffe, I have had a note taken of the matters in relation to which he requires information. That information will be provided. For the purposes of the record I state that the suggestion that there is any inaccuracy in any answer given by the Minister is refuted. That claim is made on the proved fact that over the years the administration of this portfolio by Mr Barnes has been outstanding.
Senator georges (Queensland) [11.53] I refer to the proposed expenditure of $90,510,000 covered by Division 280, and particularly that section which relates to the grant to the Administration towards expenses. We are accepting increasing responsibility and expenditure in this area. I believe that it is necessary to visit the area to see developments and to find out what is going on not only in Papua and New Guinea but also in Bougainville, but I learn that I am limited to one trip to the Territory .of Papua and New Guinea in the life of a Parliament. Because of the increasing importance and development of the area, I suggest that the Minister consider whether additional travel facilities should be provided to enable members of Parliament to make more than one visit there.
I have referred previously to incidents in the Territory which I have learned of through reports and by hearsay. Some of us may be interested enough to want to visit the area and see at first hand what is happening. Since only one trip is available it means that we have to wait until we have sufficient time to do all that we want to do and to see all that we want to see in the Territory. I trust that the Minister will consider that point.
– I will give due consideration to that matter and refer it to the Minister. Hitherto the present arragements have been found to be adequate but the position is developing and I am sure the Minister will take into consideration what the honourable senator has said.
Proposed expenditure and proposed provision noted.
Proposed expenditure $14,217,000.
– 1 have a simple question which relates to Division 130 - Administrative. On 29th August Senator Poyser and I sought stricter control on the importation of the Armalite rifle. At that time Senator Scott, on behalf of the Attorney-General in another place, said amongst other things that certain problems had been encountered due to a lack of uniformity between the various State authorities on the control of firearms. He went on:
I understand that the matter is receiving attention following its recent consideration by the Standing Committee of Commonwealth and State Attorneys-General.
That was in August. Has anything been done yet to tighten up the importation of the Armalite rifle?
– Quite a number of matters in Division 137 - Conciliation and Arbitration - could be discussed but the most important one as far as I am concerned relates to the work of the Deputy Industrial Registrar in Queensland. It is strange that neither a conciliator nor a commissioner has ever been appointed in Queensland. I am sure many people would agree that Queensland is an industrial State. I suggest to the Minister quite seriously that this matter should be rectified.
For the information of the Minister and the departmental officers I point out that a person at present is doing the work of a conciliator or a commissioner but is not receiving the rate of remuneration attached to either of those positions.
I have no desire to have the list that 1 have in my hand incorporated in Hansard but the Minister may have it if he wishes. He will see on it the list of hearings by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in Queensland between September 1967 and August 1968, and note that the Deputy Industrial Registrar handled 23 of them. In addition, he is appointed as chairman of innumerable boards of reference. Consequently in the majority of cases his work is that of a conciliator or a commissioner.
For the life of me I cannot understand why the Department has allowed this position to continue. I speak with authority when I say that the Registrar is well respected in all sections of the community in Queensland - by employers, by the Government and by trade unions. We all know that he exceeds his duties as Deputy Industrial Registrar, but the fact is that when a dispute has to be settled as quickly as possible all parties agree that he should accept the case, and in the vast majority of instances his decision is accepted by the parties. I think this is a tribute to him. But if the Department does not consider that this man has the requirements for appointment as a conciliator or commissioner, there are other people in Queensland who could be appointed to a position of this nature.
I have no intention of embarking on issues such as penal provisions and so forth. I will content myself with saying that I believe they are utterly futile and do nothing to promote industrial peace. Perhaps I will have the opportunity of addressing myself to that question on another occasion. However, I do ask the Minister to consider the success that the Deputy Industrial Registrar has had in the majority of cases in settling disputes. I repeat that everyone knows that he is exceeding his duties, but what can one do if one does not allow him to exceed his duties? I believe it is wrong that he should do these jobs and not receive his due remunerative entitlement. For the Minister’s information, I have the document which details the cases heard in the period to which I have referrred.
Friday, 8 November 1968
– I wish to deal with a subject on which I have asked questions over the past 2 or 3 weeks. I refer to the matter of secular marriages. I have persisted in asking questions on this subject because of the approaches that have been made to me. 1 wish to ensure that facilities are provided by the registrars in the various Slates so that those who wish to be married according to law, but not in a religious place, can do so in a dignified way. I inquired of the Registrar-General in Queensland as to the hours during which these marriages can be solemnised and I was told between 10 a.m. and 3.30 p.m. I asked a similar question of a registrar in another State and the answer I received was that according to his instructions the Attorney-General preferred these marriages to take place during office hours but that if a registrar wished to officiate outside the ordinary office hours he could do so without receiving any payment by way of overtime: any money collected for the ceremony performed was to be paid into consolidated revenue.
– I thought the honourable senator was a 5-day a week man.
– 1 do not expect any person to work more than normal hours. All I ask is that facilities be provided and persons appointed to officiate at weddings for those who do not wish to be married in a church. The Humanist Society of Queensland made application to the Attorney-General’s Department in Canberra to have a person authorised to solemnise marriages on its behalf. The following reply, which was signed by the Secretary, Mr E. J. Hook, was received by Mrs Baxendell on behalf of the Society:
I refer to your letter of 10th July 1968 in which, on behalf of the Humanist Society of Queensland, you applied to have Mr H. W. Trudgett authorised to solemnise marriages on behalf of the Society.
The next paragraph is important. It states:
The Attorney-General recently considered a proposal that secular persons be authorised to solemnise marriages. He concluded that such appointments should be confined to appropriate Government officials and to specially recommended persons in remote areas.
As Mr Trudgett is not within either of these classes i have to inform you that I, as the delegate of the Attorney-General, am not prepared to authorise him to solemnise marriages.
That letter bears the file number 66/2446. I have referred to the Marriage Act on a number of occasions previously. Section 43 of that Act provides that marriages may be solemnised at any place and at any time. 1 pointed this out to the Registrar-General in Brisbane. He said: ‘Surely you would not expect me to solemnise a marriage at 1 o’clock in the morning on the top of One Tree Hill?’ I replied that that was going a little too far. Honourable senators opposite may not treat this matter seriously but it is of considerable concern to over 1,000 people a year. 1 said to the Registrar-General in Brisbane that although it was unreasonable to expect him to go to extremes, the present hours were most unsatisfactory as far as a large number of people are concerned. The normal time to marry in this day and age is on Friday evening, on Saturday morning, on Saturday afternoon or even on Sunday.
– Never on Sunday.
– Yes, people are married on Sunday. The facility is provided to be married in a church by a minister of religion at such times but not in a registry office. The Registrar-General in Brisbane insists that the hours shall be between 10 a.m. and 3.30 p.m. on a week day and nothing else. Anybody who wants to be married at any other time cannot do so in Queensland. I am referring particularly to Brisbane. But I have found that in other States marriages are sometimes solemnised outside the normal hours. Apparently the registrars are reasonable men and are prepared to make the necessary arrangements. Overtime is not paid and the money received for performing the ceremony goes into consolidated revenue. A case occurred in Tasmania where a person was too ill to attend the registry office and the registrar, out of the goodness of his heart - they are good people in Tasmania - solemnised the marriage. The Minister asked me today whether 1 could state an actual case. I searched out an application to the Registrar-General, Treasury Building, Queen Street, Brisbane, by a Dr Petroff in the following terms:
I wish to make an application to be married at the Registry Office at 6 p.m. on 22nd November 1968.
That is a reasonable time. If one goes to the Methodist Church in Albert Street,
Brisbane, one will see many people married at that time. Some people pay a considerable fee for the privilege of being married in a fashionable church. However, quite a number of people want to be married at 6 o’clock without incurring the penalty of paying a triple fee. The letter from Dr Petroff continues:
I already have an appointment for 3.30 p.m. on the same date as I was told that this is the latest time that can be arranged at the Registry Office.
However, I find that this lime is quite inconvenient for me and my friends who would like to attend, owing to the nature of our work as medical officers at the Princess Alexandra Hospital.
Hoping that this will receive favourable consideration . . .
But the consideration he received is shown in the letter dated 5th November which states:
In reply to your letter 1 would advise that marriages arc not solemnised in this office later than 3.30 p.m.
I appreciate that the Registrar is entitled to fix the hours at which he will solemnise marriages. He indicated that the majority of these marriages were rather rapid affairs between young couples who wanted to get the matter over as quickly as possible, but he indicated also that a considerable number of people could not be married in a church because they were divorced persons or because there was some other impediment. He mentioned also that a considerable number of people did not wish to be married in a church, but he said that these were the hours.
Although the Registrar has the right to fix the hours, the Marriage Act 1961-1966 states specifically that facilities shall be provided for people who want to be married outside these hours. So now 1 start to place the blame exactly where it belongs, that is, in the lap of the Attorney-General. He has the power under section 39 of the Act to determine these matters. I concede the point made earlier by the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) in reference to section 43. I have looked at that section again and i am not prepared to do battle with the Minister on his interpretation. The Minister has had a difficult time in dealing with Senator Cavanagh who placed a very good interpretation on the word ‘deemed’ earlier in the debate, so 1 do not think it is fair for him to have to battle with section 43 of the Act. Section 39 (2.) states:
The Attorney-General may, by instrument in writing, authorise other officers of a State or Territory or other suitable persons to solemnise marriages.
Here is the weakness of the situation. All that the Attorney-General has to do is to authorise some person of standing - a justice of the peace or a magistrate - to officiate at a wedding, whether it is on a Friday evening, a Saturday morning or a Saturday afternoon. That provision is reasonable. But let us look at the churches and organisations to which the AttorneyGeneral has already given power in the State of Queensland to solemnise marriages. These are the figures for 1967. I shall deal only with the minor churches. In the Apostolic Church of Queensland, 6 persons were authorised to marry and 4 marriages were actually performed. In the Assemblies of God Church 42 persons were authorised to marry anc” 61 marriages were actually performed. In the Church of the Christian Revival Crusade, one person was authorised to marry but no marriages were actually performed.
– What about the scientologists?
– I have thought of them also. In the Liberal Catholic Church 2 persons were authorised to marry and 2 marriages were performed. In the Society of Friends denomination, 2 persons were authorised to marry and 1 marriage was performed. But the next one that I mention is even more surprising; in the Bahai of Australia denomination no persons were authorised to marry but one marriage was performed.
Last year in Queensland 10% of all marriages were performed in registry offices. I would like to read from a Press article what is to be said about the registry office, but J shall not do so at this stage; perhaps it can be incorporated in my remarks later. It describes the conditions under which weddings are solemnised in the city of Brisbane.
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– I rise for the purpose of allowing Senator Georges to continue his remarks.
– i appreciate the lateness of the hour so 1 shall be brief, although the subject is important. J know that the problem to which I have referred can easily be solved if the Attorney-General will appreciate the importance of extending to people who take a non-religious attitude the same facilities as are available to those people who are religious. I think it is reasonable for an organisation such as the Humanist Society to have suitable people authorised to officiate at marriages of members of the Society. If the Unitarians are entitled to this privilege, surely the entitlement should be extended also to the Humanist Society, provided thai the person officiating at the marriage is of some standing and the wedding does not involve a public servant in working beyond normal hours.
The Society, in considering the clear injustice of the present situation, submits that there are three alternatives available to the Government as a remedy. One is to require the persons authorised to solemnise marriages at present to solemnise both secular marriages or church marriages as the applicants desire. That would be subject to an application being made and the wedding being held at a reasonable time. The second alternative is to provide increased government facilities and government officials at reasonable hours during the week and on Saturdays. That suggestion is reasonable enough. The third alternative is to appoint non-religious citizens in various districts who are willing to solemnise weddings at private homes or at reception premises. These could be solicitors, justices of the peace, or private citizens of acceptable standard. Surely this also is reasonable enough. If we are going to authorise people to solemnise marriages for a variety of organisations, surely one or two people could be authorised to officiate at weddings of members of the Humanist Society. [ suggest to the Minister that he must have a copy of this letter which was sent on 1 1th October 1968 and was addressed to the Honourable N. H. Bowen, AttorneyGeneral, Canberra. I suggest that the matters I have mentioned be given !he Minister’s favourable consideration.
– I think it is appropriate that we should leave the debate on the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department as the last of the appropriations to be discussed so that any honourable senator who wishes to turn the searchlight on to this Department will have plenty of time to do so between now and daylight. Senator Georges has presented a case tonight on behalf of a section of the community. He has told us that 10% of the community do not conform to traditions of long standing but have an equal status in our society. But I am very worried by some of the activities of the Attorney-General’s Department, particularly in the light of the experience I had of the Gestapo in Germany. I believe that within the Attorney-General’s Department we are building up an organisation in this country which does not have to account to Parliament. I cannot find any reference in the appropriations to the vast amounts of money that are spent by a special organisation within the Attorney-General’s Department, so the situation is not as good as it should be.
Recently amongst literature from the United States I read of an attack on Cuba by a vast military organisation with a minor air force. People were killed during the operation but no account was given to their wives of what had happened. The pilots just disappeared. Speaking as a pilot 1 feel that if I were engaged in such an operation the organisation would be obliged to report on my fate to my wife or mother. That sort of organisation is being built up in this Western democracy. It is not accountable to Parliament.
– I rise to a point of order, having failed to attract the honourable senator’s attention. He is referring to an item which is appropriate for consideration only in a debate on the estimates of the Prime Minister’s Department. It does not come within the vote we are now discussing.
– I am drawing attention to the fact that the administration of the Attorney-General is involved. 1 want to draw attention to the point made by Senator Georges about the difficulties of cutting through the red tape of the Public Service regulation which states, in effect: ‘At 3 p.m. on Friday we finish dealing with this most important human question of getting married.’ The statistics show that many migrants to this country are not church going people. That is their democratic right. At one time religious people felt that they had control of the minds of everyone. Tortures were perpetrated on people who did not think in the required religious way. Now our society is a little more enlightened and more tolerance is displayed towards people who do not conform. Now 10.8% of marriages take place in registry offices because the people involved prefer not to have a church service. This matter should be taken quite seriously.
I have come to the support of Senator Georges because he has put up a good case. I do not like to see departmental officers sneering at this case. I think they should have gone about finding a way to deal with this problem. They should be advising the Minister when a case is being put to him. This is a genuine case. I think the preparation that Senator Georges has put into this case shows that it is not a joke. I believe that he is quite sincere.
– In fairness to the departmental officers, I do not think they were sneering.
– I hope they were not. Perhaps I am being a little too sensitive. On the border of Scotland the great old custom is obesrved of marriage by the village blacksmith. Poetry has been written about that custom. People visit there on a weekend and are married over the anvil beneath the spreading chestnut tree. A marriage involves two people in love and with faith in one another sufficient to plight their troth.
– Does the honourable senator wish to drag society back to the anvil?
– Our society is not far removed from the anvil. The greatest and strongest bonds are formed on the anvil. I do not want to see the time when such links are broken. Old customs such as that involving the village blacksmith should not be interfered with through red tape. People have an obligation under the law to marry and conform. The facilities for them to make wedding arrangements during a weekend should be available to them, just as other facilities are available at the weekend.
– What is all the hurry about?
– There is often a hurry. I suppose that once the honourable senator was in a hurry himself. Other forms of marriage are performed on Saturdays, and in some religions on Sundays. People who do not choose to have a church ceremony should have the right to be able to marry on a Saturday. If public servants are not to be available for the purpose, a justice of the peace should be made available. The legal side of marriage involves an affirmation in front of witnesses that the couple agree to become man and wife. It is as simple as that. I understand that provision for weekend marriages other than church ceremonies is made in some remote districts. Senator Georges has pointed out that people who live in the cities can arrange for church weddings to be performed on weekends. But some people prefer to be married in a registry office. A departmental officer will say: ‘Right. You can be married here but not after 3 o’clock on Friday’.
– Does the honourable senator believe in shopping hours and office hours?
– This is a very serious matter. Does Senator Marriott believe in having policemen on duty on Friday, Saturday and Sunday? Does he believe in having the electricity supply people working on Sundays? This is a different matter. 1 believe that new ground is being broken. The Minister or his departmental officers - whoever takes the initiative - should make provision for the section of the community who prefer to marry in registry offices; that is the minority of 10.8% of the community.
– Just as the DLP is a minority.
– If presidential candidate Wallace had been a Country Party man he would have led the Government in the United States even with the number of votes that he received. Tonight Senator Georges has spoken for the minority of people who are asking to be heard. I believe they have a genuine case for a reassessment of previous decisions. I suppose that about half of the honourable senators present are justices of the peace who are entitled to witness signatures at any time, as we are all1 pleased to do.
– Are you sure that people cannot take a day off to be married?
– The honourable senator was married only last week so he has the most recent experience of marriage of any honourable senator. I ask him whether all his friends were at his wedding and on what day of the week he married.
– On Friday.
– Before 3 p.m.?
– In congratulating the honourable senator from the bottom of my heart all I can say is that he is a great conformist. I support the case put forward by Senator Georges that provision should be made for persons in the community to be married at weekends other than in church ceremonies. The man appointed to conduct such ceremonies could be given a title: for instance, Commissioner for Celebrants. He should be available to people who wish to marry on a Saturday in the presence of their friends. Some people may have religious beliefs that favour marriage on a Sunday but do not wish to be married in a church. They may be agnostics, nol atheists. In any event, provision should be made for that section of the community. I believe that Senator Georges put up a good case and 1 support it.
– I agree with the case that has been put forward by Senator Georges. This seems to have been the main matter dealt with in the debate on these estimates. In this community the custom is that most people are married at the weekend. People are married outside of office hours because they ‘.want to have their friends present to witness the ceremony and to take part in the celebrations afterwards. If we are to deal fairly with every section of the community, proper arrangements should be made so that people may follow the custom. From what Senator Georges has put before the the Committee, it appears that the RegistrarGeneral in Queensland has said that ceremonies will be conducted only between 10 a.m. and 3.30 p.m. from Monday to Friday.
– By him.
– That may well be. He says that his office will be available only during those hours. That may be satisfactory enough. But surely, as the power exists and has been provided by this Parliament, steps should have been taken to authorise enough people to celebrate marriages to satisfy the need and to fit in with the requirement of the community for marriages to be conducted by other people and away from the registry office during the weekend.
I am not at all satisfied that any reasonable provision has been made. I believe that Senator Georges has made out a conclusive case. 1 believe that there is a denial of the rights of certain people. I am sure that, now that the position has been brought to the attention of the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Bowen), because he is a man who is concerned for human rights and concerned to see that the Constitution of this community is observed he will see to it that this wrong which has existed in the community will be corrected.
– This applies only to Brisbane. What about the rest of the State?
– I understand that in the rest of the community marriages are sometimes conducted on Saturdays in registry offices. But that is not the point. These people are public servants. They may want to work their 5-day or 51-day week. A simple solution to the problem is provided in the Marriage Act. It is to authorise other responsible persons to celebrate marriages. Apparently a breakdown has occurred here. The Attorney-General may authorise - apparently he has seen fit to do so - persons who belong to any religious denomination, whether it is one that is accepted by a large proportion of the population, one that is accepted by a tiny proportion of the population or even one at which other people look askance. But apparently he has failed to authorise persons who. though responsible, do noi belong to any religious denomination.
The simple solution would be to authorise responsible people, whether justices of the peace, solicitors, or the other types of people suggested by Senator Georges. One would hope that responsible persons such as Senator Georges would be invested with this power. People who are authorised to carry out other responsible tasks such as witnessing passport applications and who are regarded as being responsible enough to certify as to various other matters should be regarded as being at least equally as responsible as those who happen to belong to all sorts of religious denominations. 1 must say on this whole subject that, while we want to deal with it shortly, I am not impressed by the performance of the Attorney-General’s Department. If anyone wants to, we may deal with the matter in more detail. I would think that if any department of state has performed very badly it is the Attorney-General’s Department. I share the view that was expressed by Senator O’Byrne. 1 was not impressed by the decorum of the officers of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department - not all of them - while they were waiting in the precincts of this chamber. I believe that this chamber should require from the Attorney-General’s Department a report on its activities along the lines of the reports that are made by the Attorney-General in the United States. 1 believe that we should require better progress than has been made in the consolidation of the Acts. This matter was raised in this chamber long ago. The indications were that some progress was being made. But little progress appears to be being made.
I believe that far more attention should be paid to achievements in law reform in the Australian Capital Territory. In many of the other activities of this Department the country is entitled to more progress than has been made. In one field at least I would think that the Attorney-General himself would probably be concerned. More attention should be paid to statistics on which the Parliament could determine what action should be taken. All in all, I believe that the Parliament and the people of this nation are entitled to a much better performance than they have had from this Department.
– I wish to speak briefly on the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department. I propose to discuss the Patent, Trade Marks, Designs and Copyright Offices. I refer to the great backlog of patent applications that has developed over the years in the Patent Office of the Attorney-General’s Department and to its obvious difficulty in attracting sufficient staff to enable it to overtake the great backlog.
Recently the Inventors Association of Australia, in a publication that it distributes among its members, had this to say in relation to the Patent Office:
The Australian Patent Office has received only one-third of the applications it is seeking in a recruitment drive designed to clear a backlog of 45,800 patent applications. The office has a staff of 140 patent examiners and needs another 70.
That means that if the figures quoted by the Inventors Association are correct the staff of the Patent Office is down by 50%. The publication went on to say:
The Deputy Patent Commissioner, Mr G. Henshilwood, said yesterday: ‘So far, the number of professional applicants who look good on paper is 25. We need about twice as many again. The response was quite good, but no better than the response to previous recruitment drives.’
One wonders for how long this situation will continue if nothing effective is to be done to overtake the great backlog that has developed in the Patent Office. The Inventors Association makes the very significant, if not ironic, comment that the Commonwealth Public Service is offering qualified scientists and engineers a salary range of about $3,000 to $5,000 a year as class 1 examiners. If this Government is interested in developing an inventive industry in Australia and encouraging people to make application - in their interest and in the interests of this nation - for patents, it is about time the Government gave consideration to setting a salary standard commensurate with the responsibilities of patent examiners to enable additional staff to be attracted to the Patents Office so that the establishment will bc complete and this great backlog of some 45,000 patent applications will be overtaken.
The second matter to which I wish to address some remarks is the appropriation for the Commonwealth Reporting Branch under Division 132 in relation to which the
Minister and his departmental officers well know that I have had some personal experience. There again, I see that the situation so far as recruitment of staff is concerned is a very serious one when one compares the conditions that exist in the office of the Reporting Branch of the Attorney-General’s Department with those in comparable reporting branch offices in either the States or the various parliaments, such as our own Parliamentary Reporting Staff. For instance, is it a fact that in the Sydney office during the last financial year two officers of some standing and experience with the Department left to go to the New South Wales Parliamentary Reporting Staff? Is it a fact that one man who joined the Commonwealth Reporting Branch from the New South Wales Court Reporting Branch resigned from the Commonwealth Reporting Branch after a short period of service in order to go back to the New South Wales Court Reporting Branch because he was dissatisfied with the existing conditions in the Commonwealth? ls it also a fact that because of the amount of travelling that is involved, and, I suppose, because of the comparable lack of remuneration the Department is finding it difficult to attract additional staff? I suggest that these are very important matters and that the Commonwealth must face up to its responsibilities. This Department must face up to its responsibilities if it is to attract to its ranks staff who will be able satisfactorily to carry out the duties required of them by the Australian public.
– I just want to direct one or two short queries to the Minister in relation to Division 134 - High Court. Is the Minister in a position to inform the Committee approximately when the High Court may cease to be a peripatetic court and be accommodated permanently in Canberra with the provision of a High Court building? Will the Minister inform the Committee of the proposals for the commencement of the construction of the High Court Building? In modern times it is most appropriate that the supreme court of appeal in Australia should be located in the national capital as so many other similar institutions Are now being located here. Now that the National Library - the complementary architectural building to the proposed High Court building - has been built, it is time this matter was given serious and immediate consideration. I should also like the Minister to inform the Committee what has become of the proposal for a federal court intermediate between the High Court and the Supreme Courts of the States. This has been canvassed for some time. 1 thought it had received specific attention and that we might have beard an announcement, possibly in the last 18 months. 1 may have lost touch with the situation. Will the Minister be good enough to inform me how far the situation has gone?
– We started this debate with a reference to shotguns and then went on to weddings. I want to say to Senator Mulvihill that the Committee of Attorneys-General met only last week and considered this matter but the importation or control of firearms is not specifically w:thin their responsibility and they have referred this matter to the responsible Ministers. No doubt from that reference will come some effort to bring about some uniformity of the law with regard to the control of firearms. Senator Milliner referred to some industrial situation in Queensland. The only comment 1 wish to make there is that lay commissioners of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission are appointed not on any residential basis but solely on experience and merit. So far as the Industrial Registrar there entering upon another field of activity is concerned, the situation is that his primary activity in this respect is as chairman of a board of reference, but it appears that he has earned such confidence that he is accepted by the parties as extending his authority and that is, of course, a grand indication of his capacity as a conciliator.
Senator Georges again referred to the question of marriages and he was supported by Senator O’Byrne and Senator Murphy. All that one can observe with regard to this is that the subject of marriage interests individuals in different ways. So far as I am concerned, I would sooner go to bed than be here now, but there you are. I was pleased to have some concession from Senator Georges that the section of the Marriage Act to which he has been referring did not apply to the hours that should be available. The fact is that the AttorneyGeneral of the Commonwealth can appoint persons who are entitled to celebrate marriages and he usually appoints ministers of the recognised religions, government officials and other persons in remote areas. The suggestion of Senator Georges that a humanist be appointed could be considered, but up to date it has not been the accepted view. The working hours of officials is a matter within the authority of the States. The Registrar-General’s office is open from 10 a.m. to 12.30 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 3.30 p.m. on week days. In the other 35 district registry offices in Queensland marriages are performed during the normal hours on week days and any extension of those times would, of course, involve an alteration of working hours for the officers concerned. Similar conditions would apply to the clerks of the sixteen Magistrates’ Courts in Queensland who have authority to solemnise marriages. The Commonwealth has not given any directions or made any suggestions to State authorities concerning the hours during which marriages should be solemnised.
In relation to the question that was raised by Senator McClelland with regard to patents, we are well aware of the arrears that have been developing in the Patents Office. The honourable senator will be interested to know that there is an amending bill before the House of Representatives at the present time; we hope to get it to the Senate during this session. The general substance of that Bill is to provide that the application for a patent will not be examined as heretofore, simply on its submission. The examination of the patent is the thing that takes so much time and it is intended to provide a provisional period of 5 years during which the applicant can consider whether or not he still thinks there is value in having the examination made. However he will be protected as from the date of application.
The second provision of the bill is to apply to United States and British applicants who have had patents accepted in their own countries an automatic adoption here, subject to certain safeguards. I hope the honourable senator will be reassured from what I have said that action is being taken to overcome the arrears. With regard to what the honourable senator said about the Commonwealth Court Reporting Branch. I have taken a note of his remarks but 1 cannot offer any useful comment without an examination of the detail1 of the instances.
With regard to what Senator Byrne said about the High Court of Australia no plans are being entertained to commence a High Court structure in Canberra at the present time. It is not to be expected that in the foreseeable future we will see the establishment of the High Court in a position in Canberra and the time when the High Court will cease to function as a visiting court around the States. Regarding the intermediate federal court, I can tell Senator Byrne that the situation is that the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Bowen) has been building up the Bill to deal with this matter. It is only pressure from a very heavy programme so far as he personally is concerned that has prevented that proposal from reaching the stage of a Bill being presented to the Parliament during this session.
– I do not wish to delay the Committee but I want to support the remarks made earlier by Senator Georges. I am afraid we treated the matter a little too lightly. I suggest that the Minister might confer with his advisers about investigating whether or not, under the circumstances and in view of the arguments presented by Senator Georges, the matter ought to be considered at a Commonwealth level. I think all honourable senators agree that there is a section of the community which prefers to be married outside the church and without a religious ceremony. Whether we like it or not we are no longer a Christian community, although nominally we may be called such. Not all of us practise the Christian religion or, for that matter, any other religion. Probably this is a growing trend. I do not think Australia should reach the stage that has been reached in the United States of America where every second person can be a justice of the peace and be authorised to solemnise a marriage. However, I believe we should make provision for that section of the community which prefers a civil form of marriage service.
A little earlier the Minister mentioned the people who are qualified to perform marriages and referred to certain other persons in remote areas. Magistrates could extend their activities and, after all, penalty rates could be paid for the solemnisation of marriages on Saturdays. Many of the people who come into the category I am referring to are young people and both parties need to keep at their jobs. Perhaps they can only afford time at weekends for a marriage ceremony and a honeymoon. Whether or not they believe in a particular religion or subscribe to a particular church they are just as entitled to be married on a Saturday morning, or for that matter, on a Sunday. I suggest that the Minister might investigate this aspect. Whilst I subscribe to a Christian religion, and make no apologies for my adherence to it, 1 believe every other person in the community has the right to practise or not to practise a religion if he so desires. As this is a democracy, we ought to make provision for these people. If we do not do so then those of us who adhere to particular faiths are adopting an un-Christian attitude.
– Naturally, the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Bowen) will give consideration to all submissions made on this subject, including those of Senator Keeffe. I rise at this stage only because I omitted earlier to refer to one matter and that was the unfortunate remark made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) in relation to two officers who are assisting me. If there was any jocularity on their part, it was engendered by my jocularity. I hope it was not disrespectful to Senator Georges or Senator O’Byrne but I think every honourable senator was in a mood of some mirth at that time. I did hope that except in extreme cases officers within the Parliament would be spared criticism and that the criticism would be directed to the Minister involved. In this case the Minister takes complete responsibility.
– I agree with what the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) has said. Anything which happened while officers were in this chamber and while the debate was being conducted on this aspect of the Estimates was not in any way the object of my remarks. I was speaking of the decorum of those officers when waiting in the precincts in other words, in this chamber. The Minister was not in a position to observe. A number of other honourable senators were in a position to observe and I stand by what I said. I think that if the Minister were in the position that I was in he would completely share the remarks I expressed.
Proposed expenditure noted.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Consideration resumed (vide page 1768).
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without requests or debate.
Consideration resumed (vide page 1768).
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Motion (by Senator Anderson) proposed:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– I rise with apologies because of the lateness of the hour to raise a matter which I regard as one of vital public importance. I refer to the discussions which have been going on over the past week in an endeavour to resolve certain claims which have been made by the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union. 1 appreciate as the result of a Press statement made by the PostmasterGeneral (Mr Hulme) tonight, that the present position is that the status quo which was arrived at on Wednesday, I think, will continue until the meeting of the Executive of the Australian Council of Trade Unions on Monday or Tuesday next. Because a decision may be made before the Senate resumes, I think it is appropriate at this time to express what ought to be the concern of every member of this Parliament.
I raise this matter for two major reasons. The first is that there are certain obligations of government in respect of a community public service which are of vital importance. Those obligations have been challenged. An attack it quite clearly is an attack has been made upon the fundamental right of the Government as an employer to recruit labour and to continue employing labour which is satisfactory and an attack has been made on the right of those who have been employed to continue in employment so long as the employer wants them. The second reason why I raise this matter is that there is involved in the very core of the claims which are made by the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union certain fundamental rights of citizens. One individual is a very lone figure when stood against the requirements of a mass conformity. When, as in this case, an individual is intimidated by union pressure, then I say it ought to arouse the concern and interest of everyone who places some value upon individual liberty, individual rights and freedom of expression.
We have had over the past 12 or 18 months a certain pattern of industrial dispute within the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. 1 say nothing of those particular issues. I do say that this activity reveals the power, the influence and the agitate ability of the secretary of that Union. What is happening now is that the Union is ascertaining the power which by its numbers and by its position it senses it has. What it seeks to impose upon the Department are the whims and the policies of its Secretary. These particular policies will operate for the most part to the detriment of the service which the Postmaster General has to provide. What the Union is doing is to threaten to strike; to withdraw its labour. What is the reason for this threat? The express reason given by its officials is that unionists will not work with people who are described as scabs and who they say are strike breakers.
– Do the men say that too?
-I do not know. All one can read in the newspapers that is the only material that one has is what is said by the Secretary of the Union, Mr Slater. He said, andI quote from the ‘Age’ newspaper of 2nd November-
– Why does the honourable senator not get the statement and not bother about quoting Press statements? He does not know whether they are accurate or otherwise.
– One must say that there is a general practice amongst unionists when they hold meetings to exclude the Press and to say what they have to say in private.
– Why does not the honourable senator wake up?
– I say in this case that all that we have is what appears in the newspapers.I am quoting a newspaper, giving the reference and honourable senators may look to it if they feel that it is not correct.
– What about the Liberal Party Council? The Liberal Party does not let the Press into its meetings.
– This may be a matter that members of the Opposition do not want to hear. If they do not want to hear it they certainly are making a very good effort to prevent me being heard. I refer to what is reported in the ‘Age’ of 2nd November when Mr Slater, the General Secretary of the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union said that the New South Wales Branch had asked the Federal Executive to call a nationwide strike to last until the employment of scab labour had ended. The report also stated that the Branch had asked for a black ban to be imposed on all other postal services, telephones and telegrams.
There may be - 1 understand that there is - a general trade union principle which has its origin in the commencement of the union movement that unionists will not work with strike breakers. Whether or not that principle has validity, I recognise its historical existence. Whether or not it ought to have application in this day and age is another matter. I notice that Senator O’ Byrne is not present. He said earlier tonight that this was a community in which great tolerance was being given to people who did not conform. Even Senator Keeffe in the same debate was saying that people can practise what they like. But apparently there is one place in which this tolerance is not present and where a person cannot practise what he likes and that is the trade union movement.
I am nol concerned to argue the merits of this general principle because it is not in issue in the strike that is mooted. It is raised as a smokescreen or a red herring, lt is raised for the purpose of bringing in the body of unionists. 1 say that it is raised as a smokescreen or a red herring because an agreement was made in January of this year by the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union with the Postmaster-General and the Minister for Labour and National Service under which, in respect of all that happened in the past, the slate was wiped clean.
I have, as all honourable senators have, a copy of the terms of settlement of the dispute, lt was published at the time of the settlement and it has been recirculated recently. I asked a question about it yesterday. The first paragraph reads:
All officers or employees who have been dismissed or suspended be reinstated immediately upon resumption of full normal work without loss of any entitlements, including continuity of employment for all purposes.
That term of settlement was carried out. The second term was this:
The services of the special casual staff recruited by the Postmaster-General since Friday, 12th January 1968, for the work areas in dispute will be withdrawn on the resumption of normal work in each area concerned.
That was done. The third term of settlement read:
The Postmaster-General will cease the specal casual labour at the end of the last shift immediately before the shift on which the first resuming shift to the APWU start work on a full staffing basis and from then on the special casual labour will be fully withdrawn.
That was explanatory, of course, of the second term of settlement and it was carried out.
– ls it still being carried out or is it being broken?
– Of course it is being carried out, as the honourable senator well knows unless he is prepared to prostitute his legal training. The third term of settlement continued:
To overcome the present backlog of mail resort will be had as need be to the employment of Christmas casual staff. Normal replacement and addition recruitment will proceed on the same basis as before the stoppage.
If that has any meaning in common sense or common language it is that the procedures which the Postmaster-General employed to recruit labour before the stoppage would be the procedures to be followed afterwards. The fourth term of settlement was in these terms:
That there be no victimisation whatever either by the Department or the Union.
One can understand why the Union would be concerned to avoid and to prevent possible victimisation by the Department. Therefore, it is understandable why that term was inserted. But what was the reason for the term which provided that there should be no victimisation by the Union unless it was to prevent that very thing which is now happening? I chai lange anyone who wants to give any other meaning to that to give me a possible example of what victimisation would be occurring except that victimisation which 1 say is now occurring and in which the Union said in January of this year it would not engage. That is the agreement which was made. There were other terms of settlement but they related specifically to the issues then in dispute.
The fair and obvious rendering of that agreement is that it was a wiping clean of the slate. It is, therefore, wrong to say that what is involved at the present time is a traditional trade union principle. What should be involved - it is involved, because it is what is at stake - is whether the Union is going back on what it agreed. If it is going back on what it agreed then clearly it is raising this other issue as a smokescreen.
– Have you ever known a union to go back on an agreement.
– There is always a first time if a union has not gone back on an agreement previously. The Union has adopted the attitude that these people are scabs. The Government has recruited labour for employment in the PostmasterGeneral’s Department at a time when it normally would take labour. Obviously some of them worked in January of this year but I believe - I think every member of Parliament should believe too - that the Government has an obligation to them because in January this year it called for volunteers. The honourable senator may disagree with the fact that the Government did so, but it did and people responded. They worked and when the settlement took place they, as was expected, retired when the regular employees came in. Apparently, some of these people have been engaged again and are working for the Post Office at the present time. If, because of their response to a request by the Government in January of this year, they are to be penalised and denied any further employment in the Post Office and the Government has the power to prevent that, the Government would be derelict in its duty if it did not take steps to prevent that from occurring. I think that it has an obligation because of the character of the call which was made in January of this year.
There is a second aspect of this matter to which I have referred, and that is the fact that certain fundamental human rights are involved. We have heard from members of the Opposition in this chamber on numerous occasions references to the validity of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I am not here to assert that that Declaration is a document which must in every case on every occasion and in every country have immediate validity, but it presents admirable objectives to be worked towards.
– The right to scab!
– All I will say is that it is useful to refer to the terms of this Universal Declaration, Article 1 of which states:
All human beings are bom free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Article 23 states:
Many other articles of the Declaration could be applicable, but I turn only to the significant ones. Article 29 provides:
Article 30 states:
Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any state, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.
A Press report of remarks made by Mr Slater to a mass metting of postal workers at Wentworth Park, in Sydney, on Wednesday last, was in these terms:
Mr Slater summed up the union attitude when he told the mass meeting at Wentworth Park, Sydney: ‘We will not work with scabs at any time, in any place, in any circumstances. No person has the right to be a scab as long as there is a pool of water deep enough to drown him.’
Opposition members - Hear, hear!
– If members of the Opposition find satisfaction in that sort of statement, I find it difficult to understand how they can consistently maintain, with any sincerity or any sense of genuineness, that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights really means anything to them. I have also a copy of the ‘Daily Mirror’ of 6th November in which there is a report of a statement by a Miss Elizabeth O’Keefe. She is a lady who worked in the Post Office in January of this year and who again sought employment recently with the Post Office, along with others against whom no action has been taken. She has been in training. Earlier this week she was told that she should give up and get out or hundreds of people would be out of work. She declined to do so. I think it is proper to put on the record the statement she made to the Press, which reads:
I’m scared - just plain scared’ . . .
I’ve heard how they get others like me and batter them up in the lockers.
Going to work at nights, even getting up in the morning knowing how some of them feel about me, is an ordeal.
But I just swallow the fear and keep on saying to myself: You have a principle. Stick to it.’
She said postal union officials knew that she had been an original strike-breaker.
They have picked on me simply because it suits their purpose’ . . .
But they won’t force me to give up a principle. 1 don’t believe in unionism. 1 have never been a unionist and never will’.
No doubt she believes in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which does not mention compulsory unionism. The statement continues:
Miss O’Keefe said she believed there were four or five other women strike-breakers at the Redfern Exchange.
But what’s happened to them, 1 don’t know’ . . .
All ] know is that three union officials came up to me on Monday night and said if I didn’t resign hundreds would be put out of work’.
– The others had the decency to find a pool to drown themselves in.
– I am sorry that Senator Cavanagh said that. I think that on reflection he woud not have said it. But 1 think that when things like that are said they add up to intimidation. Individuals have certain rights which we should be concerned to recognise and, if they are challenged, be prepared to regard as worthy of protection. I think fundamental issues are involved in what has been raised by the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union. There is imposed upon the Government an obligation to recognise that here is an attempt - for an invalid, unjustifiable reason that is contrary to a settlement arrived at - to take over certain functions of government; to hold the community to ransom for no valid reason at all; to suggest a strike which, if it takes place, will not give to those who are in the union, even if it succeeds in all respects, anything more, but which at this time of the year could place many unionists in jeopardy. There is also what 1 regard as the very valid problem of what should be the government reaction where people are intimidated and frightened in the way Miss O’Keefe and others have been intimidated and frightened.
We live in a country in which we recognise the ability of people to engage in the calling which they choose and in respect of which their employment will be secured by the employer. Unless the law imposes some restraints, 1 do not think that a union has a right to withhold labour - with all the sanctions it thinks it can use - in order to make another person leave a job and possibly be denied the opportunity of getting a job in which unionists are engaged. I apoligise for having raised the matter at this hour, but it may be resolved on Monday or Tuesday. I hope - with all due regard to the fact that in industrial relations there must be compromise, give and take and a willingness to settle - that the Government will recognise that there are principles here. One can only hope that the union and the Australian Council of Trade Unions will recognise that there are vital principles which ought not to be clouded over in an attempt to make a strike out of something which is but a red herring.
Senator murphy (New South WalesLeader of the Opposition) [1.25 a.m.] - We have just heard the voice of the nineteenth century.
– On our universal human rights.
– Yes. We have heard the voice of reaction; the voice which, though it gives a sort of knee bend to the recognition of trade unionism, says really that what trade unions stand for is not to be tolerated in society. Everyone knows that these matters are often difficult. They are abrasive. You get the rights of some people, as they conceive them, up against the rights of others. But fundamentally we have trade unions because the individuals who are working in industry, if left without organisation, are left powerless and at the mercy of those who employ them, especially where the employer is a great organisation. One of the difficulties in our modern society, unfortunately, is that those who are employed by governments are often in a worse position than those who are employed in private industry. Much worse.
– Where does that argument lead you?
– The honourable senator at least concedes that the problem exists. This is one of the great problems, and needs to be recognised. Indeed, it has been recognised by those who have studied closely the industrial society and the economic changes which are taking place that there are very great problems so far as society is concerned when the government is the employer, because there it is no longer really possible to have some third party as an independent arbitrator between the employee and the employer. The Government tends to be all-powerful and sometimes to overreach itself, as perhaps it has in this instance.
But the honourable senator has quoted from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As 1 understand it, the emphasis in that document is upon free association.
– I read chapter and verse.
– Perhaps if the honourable senator would like to pass over the chapter and verse we will refer him again to .it. But fundamentally the document concerns human rights which include the right of free association. There are people who band together and decide that they will achieve their economic rights only by a certain course, and there are others who choose to undermine that course of action. The woman mentioned by Senator Greenwood says she does not believe in unionism; she does not want any part of it. Do honourable senators then say that it is a terrible thing that the trade unions are doing when their members decline to associate with that person?
Free association means free association on either side. There is no question here of anyone demanding that any particular person join a trade union. The issue seems to be that the members decline to associate in their work with a person who has acted in. a way that they contend was undermining their economic rights.
– It was more than that. They are asking that she be dismissed.
– The substance of the matter is that they say: ‘We decline to work with her; if the Department wishes to employ someone, it can, but if they wish to employ us we decline to work with her’. No-one would suggest that the resolution of these great rights is easy, but for the honourable senator to come here and contend, as he seems to be doing, that the trade unions are completely wrong and that the other person is right is hardly a logical or a reasonable approach to the matter. One would think on the face of it that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was in favour of those who have no weapon other than to decline to work because they are at the bottom of the economic scale, who have banded together, and who are faced with a government which is against them. The only weapon that they have in order to ensure better economic conditions is to decline to work. Then they say that those who choose to undermine this course of action will be regarded in future as unacceptable, and they say: “We will not work with them.’ For the honourable senator to suggest that in any way this is an infringement of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights seems to me to be absolute nonsense. I have never heard such a proposition advanced by anyone.
If the honourable senator looks through the documents which have been issued by the United Nations he will see that there is an emphasis upon the rights of the trade unionists not only to organise but also to carry out their activities. Part of their activities is to insist upon the observance of certain conditions. If those persons who comprise these great trade unions determine upon a course of action, as they have in this case, to suggest that for the future their refusal to associate with a person is a breach of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in just nonsense. The honourable senator has suggested that individuals who take this stance are conscientious objectors and so on. I would suggest that the only sensible thing that the honourable senator has said is that in some way this episode ought to be the subject of a great debate. 1 believe that is about the only worthwhile contribution that he has made to the debate tonight. To suggest in any way that there is a breach of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or that in any way the agreement was breached by the trade unions is nonsense.
– Why does the honourable senator nol read the Declaration?
– 1 have read it.
– Only some sections of it. apparently.
– I have read the agreement which the honourable senator has read out. Even he must have the greatest misgivings as to what is being done by his Government in carrying out the bargain it made with the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union of Australia. Honourable senators have heard the document read out. A fair rending of the document would be that special casual labour would be withdrawn from all the work areas.
– No-one can be dogmatic on this matter. The agreement was that special casual labour would be fully withdrawn, ls the Government action consistent with those words when some part of that special casual labour is now being reintroduced? ls that a carrying out of the bargain? The Government said that the labour would be fully withdrawn.
– lt did not say permanently and forever.
– I notice that Senator Greenwood is silent. He knows full well that a fair reading would indicate that those persons would be withdrawn and that their reintroduction could fairly be regarded as a breach of the agreement by the Government. 1 do not want to be dogmatic; I do not think anybody should be dogmatic on this issue. This is not a matter for us to decide. But the honourable senator has come into this chamber after I o’clock in the morning to traduce the trade union movement and to attempt at this late hour of the morning to make his attack on the trade union movement. This is not the place to decide this issue. We all know that it is being discussed between the Government and the Australian Council of Trade Unions. We know that other people will consider the matter and that it may come before the arbitral authorities. What is the purpose of attacking the trade union movement at this stage? If Senator Greenwood wants a general discussion of the rights of the people involved in this dispute that is understandable. 1 agree that that would be a sensible contribution, but what is the purpose of his attack tonight other than to stir up trouble in relation to a matter which we think will be satisfactorily settled? In this nation we have adopted a system of conciliation and arbitration. The honourable senator’s contribution tonight is calculated only to obstruct the processes of conciliation and arbitration.
Senator BISHOP (South Australia) 1 1 .36 a.m.] - I agree with the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) that Senator Greenwood’s action tonight has been completely irresponsible. The dispute might be solved. It is already partly solved. Senator Greenwood’s actions can only lead to a disruption of the discussions between the parties to the dispute. He attacked the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union on the basis of something that he read in a newspaper. What he read may or may not be true. Even if it was true he did nothing tonight to help to settle a very important dispute that is to a great extent holding up the affairs of the community and even disrupting the affairs of the Government. It seems to me that Senator Greenwood was criticising the Government.
This dispute involves a person who does not want to join the union. The volunteer employees are, by the circumstances of their employment, considered by the union to be scabs. Any government or any employer which recruits volunteers in an industrial dispute is asking for considerable trouble. lt takes a lot longer to settle a dispute when volunteer labour has been recruited. There is always controversy as to whether the volunteers should become members of the union when the dispute is settled. Disputes are always settled eventually. 1 have been associated with industrial disputes since 1 was quite young in the capacities of shop delegate, union secretary and as secretary of a Labor council. 1 know, as I am sure the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme), the Government and any employer knows, that great difficulty is always experienced in settling a dispute when volunteer labour has been recruited. But such a dispute can be settled.
The most difficult problem surrounding the current dispute is the action of the Department in employing volunteers or scabs as they are called in the trade union movement. One would have thought that if the Department had wanted to recruit casual labour for the Christmas rush it would have gone to the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union and said: ‘We want to recruit a certain number of casual employees. They will be the following persons. What is the union’s position?’ I do not think we should be canvassing this matter because it is a matter that can be solved between the people concerned sitting around the conference table. As Senator Greenwood said, there has to be a compromise.
The strange thing about Senator Greenwood is that with all his legal ability he has no experience at all of the industrial movement. I do not think he has ever seen the determination of an industrial dispute. He may have experience in courts, but he is not familiar with the things that go on behind the scenes between employers and workers organisations. No government or employers organisation would want to deal with a number of factions in industry. I am quite sure that this Government does not want to be placed in that position. So far as f am aware every Liberal Minister has wanted to deal with nobody but the Australian Council of Trade Unions, because they knew that the ACTU was and is the central body of the trade union movement, lt was not because they preferred to deal with the ACTU but because they knew they were talking to a body which controls and organises the whole of the labour force. In much the same way, an employer wants to talk to a representative of a union which has control and is responsible for the membership of employees. Employers do not want to talk to a section of scabs or a group of volunteers. They prefer not to deal with two or three unions.
All that Senator Greenwood has done in criticising the Amalgamated Postal Wor kers Union has been to express his own inexperience. He has not advanced to any extent the sorts of propositions which might bring about a settlement. I agree with Senator Murphy that there might be a case to argue as to whether a person should be forced by the pressure of groups of workers to join a union. I have been associated with many disputes. It has been my experience that most settlements are negotiated. If a number of people do not want to join a union discussions are held between those people, the union and the employers. Almost always a settlement is reached.
When this dispute is settled, if it is shown that a particular person has been denied employment or access to a union because of conscientious objection, or has been forced to join a union, the issue could then be canvassed. All Senator Greenwood has done tonight has been unnecessarily to keep the Senate to a very late hour by addressing remarks which could very easily have impeded progress which may have taken place in discussions between the Government and the APWU.
– Perhaps it can be said that we are both guilty on that score.
– The postal workers have already gone back in New South Wales. The great trade union movement has been able to persuade those postal workers to return to work.
– Only until Monday.
– That does not matter. They have been persuaded through negotiation to take reasonable action. The remarks of the honourable senator tonight could well influence them to go out again on strike. It would be a good thing if honourable senators opposite who feel so strongly about these matters - inexperienced as they are in dealing with them - were to contain themselves until such disputes are settled so that they may then examine them in the cold light of the facts.
– In view of the attack that has been made upon the trade union movement, as Senator Bishop said, right on the eve of the possibility of a settlement of the postal workers’ dispute, I make no apology for delaying the Senate. Senator
Greenwood’s remarks could well serve to make the trade unionists involved hostile. We have heard a lot tonight about the rights of individuals, and so on. As Senator Greenwood suggested, there may be a tradition in the trade union movement as to the attitude adopted to people who scab in industrial disputes. A study of the trade union movement throughout history shows that the association of workers has done more in civilised countries to write benefits for the workers into history than has been done by any other section of the community. In that respect Australia is no exception. 1 remind honourable senators of the early shearers’ strikes during which scabs were employed with the protection of military forces. In the 19th century the maritime strike occurred. We have had experience of the Eureka Stockade and the great Broken Hill lockout. That is all part of the traditional history of the Australian labour movement which has improved conditions for the less privileged members of our community. When a worker has no method of improving his conditions except by joining an association for that purpose, those who claim to belong to the same class and who seek to undermine the efforts of that worker to improve conditions for himself, his wife and children, are beneath contempt. This is the opinion of the trade union movement. It has taken the word scab’ into its glossary because this sort of action may be compared with a festering sore. It is the most repulsive thing one could imagine.
– It is a repulsive word.
– We hope it is just as repulsive as those to whom it is applied. That is the value of using it. The trade union movement has accepted Jack London’s definition of a scab. Working men and their families are struggling and making economic sacrifices to improve their conditions, but people in that category seek to undermine them. Jack London points out that God first made man and that, after him, he made humans and animals and then the reptiles and the slimy things on the earth. What was left over he made into a scab. A scab was the lowest thing imaginable in the eyes of Jack London. To him a person who was a scab was lower than Judas Iscariot and something more slimy than a snake. To him, such a person was like a festering sore. Slater said that no one had a right to scab if he could find a pool deep enough to drown himself or a rope long enough to hang himself. A man who engages in activities designed to defeat the desires of an association of men seeking to improve their conditions does not fit into Australian society. A government that seeks to utilise such an individual for the purpose of stopping, whether rightly or wrongly, the activity of an association of employees is inviting trouble and is not likely to solve any problem. In January the Government was looking for trouble in the Postal Department. Senator Greenwood said that a person’s human rights are subject to his obligations to the community. The trade union movement is one of the institutions of our community, with a code of conduct and ethics. Does anyone have a right to breach the principles of an established social organisation?
– As individuals, people have rights.
– Senator Sim would not understand. It has taken him long to wake up to anything that has happened in the trade union movement, 1 suggest that he has never soiled his hands in his life and that he would soil them only if he had an opportunity to scab on the established trade union movement. Miss O’Keefe has sunk to the lowest level to which any individual involved in an industrial dispute can sink. There is nothing to stop her from going into an industry that is not covered by an industrial organisation. She has gone into an industry to gain every benefit that has been achieved by the industrial movement that she seeks to sabotage at the present time. She gains the benefit of existing rates of wages and conditions. The Amalgamated Postal Workers Union is not objecting to her right to go out to an unorganised industry, such as the dairying industry or the farming industry, which is not covered by unions, but that does not suit Miss O’Keefe. She wants to go into the Postal Department where the conditions have been won by the industrial movement of Australia. She wants to undermine the rights of men who have been able to improve conditions for themselves and their families. lt was ridiculous to try to defeat the Postal Workers Union in January by employing scab labour in the postal industry. The introduction of scab labour creates more problems than it solves. The solution of the problem was that those who were engaged would go off the floor. Now it is suggested that the no victimisation clause protects those whom it was agreed should be got rid of. The no victimisation clause does not protect someone who was not engaged in the particular dispute. Those people first had to be got rid of. They had to be got out of the postal industry. Everyone knows that there would have been no resumption of work in January without a provision that the scabs had to go.
In recent years, 1 have completed reading a book that I borrowed from the Parliamentary library. It is called ‘Counsel for the Damned’ and is the story of the life of Clarence Darrow of the United States of America. As I read of how he defended the organisation of the trade union movement and the condemnation of the scab, I thought what a wonderful thing it must be to belong to this profession which provides an education and an ability to fight for rights, as Clarence Darrow did. When I came into this chamber tonight and heard the counsel for the scabs trying to put up a defence for this most contemptible section of our community. I thought what a great thing it is that we have trade unionists, not counsel such as we have heard tonight. I think the trade unions can well be left to look after themselves. In the 1890s the State organisations protected the strike breakers in the shearing and maritime strikes. That happened because no political considerations entered into the question. If we are to see a resurrection of the use of State machinery for the purposes of the protection of the strike breakers and the ruination of our established industrial unions, I believe that it is time we put a stop to the whole thing.
– I am sorry that this issue has been raised in the Senate. I believe that all that the raising of it can do is prevent the settlement of the dispute. Surely each and every one of us here desires to see this dispute settled. It will be settled. But if we have attacks of this nature, most assuredly it will extend. That will be the ultimate result of the decision taken by Senator Greenwood to raise this matter tonight.
Senator Greenwood shows his industrial immaturity when he endeavours to place his interpretation on an industrial1 document. Let us examine the word ‘withdraw’. Why was the word ‘withdraw’ put in the document? It was put there in the first place because the workers would never have gone back to the job if the industrial renegade labour had not been withdrawn. Does it not follow as a consequence that the workers would never work on the job again if that industrial renegade labour were reemployed. Surely that is elementary. It is certainly elementary to the trade union movement.
Senator Greenwood should come down from his ivory tower. I put it to him straight: If someone came into the legal profession and then was banished from it by his association, would he work with that person in the future? Of course he would not. So he should not expect workers to work with people who have tried to undermine their efforts and, as has been indicated tonight, to come in and take all the sweets and good things that have been won by the unionists and not endeavour to observe the union decisions. Senator Greenwood applauds Miss O’Keefe for her principles. Why then cannot he applaud the workers for having their principles, including the principle of not working with scabs? That is a fundamental principle. It is a principle which has been laid down in the Australian trade union movement over many years and which will continue while Australia is Australia.
– I rise because New South Wales is concerned in this matter. I think it was significant this evening that Senator Greenwood, in his opening salvo, and Senator Sim and other honourable senators who gave him moral support by way of interjection, for once in their lives did not raise the question of this dispute having any treasonable background. That is the first point I make. Normally in a situation like this they regard the New South Wales Management Committee of the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union in a different light and they start looking for such a background. The Fundamental reason why the Government finds itself virtually in a straitjacket in this large industry - and this has been mentioned consistently in the Press - is because of the dead hand of the Public Service Board. There is no question about that. The Government did not learn its lesson earlier this year when it had a similar situation. On that occasion the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) had to call on his senior colleagues for help in getting him out of his difficulty. Unfortunately members of the Government are like the Bourbons of old - they have not learned anything and they have not forgotten anything. The attitude of the Public Service Board is the fundamental cause of the dispute.
As Senators Bishop and Murphy have said, it is not helping the situation by having provocative utterances emanating from the back benchers on the Government side. One point that cannot be emphasised too much is that it is all very well to talk about a person coming into an industry and what happened to that person but it is obvious, from Miss O’Keefe’s statements, that she took an extremely provocative and truculent attitude saying in effect that members of the union were a lot. of sheep. Anyone who thinks they are better than their associates at work can move out of the industry. She acted quite deliberately. Senator Little, by interjection, implied if we relied too much on Press reports we would be in difficulty, but a Sydney paper this morning rather remarkably reported that an administrative officer of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department said that the Department could not get a telegram to Miss O’Keefe. She had said: ‘1 am sticking to a principle, but I know what is going to happen to me.’ If that girl has not enough common sense to see that she is expendable 1 do not know what her future will be. lt is not a question of loyalty to the employer or to an employee. I do not. know whether she wants some cheap notoriety from this situation.
Let us look at the position this way: The rank and file members of the Postal Workers Union should not feel that there is some stigma attaching to them because she thinks that she is better than they are. They render service 24 hours a day all over the Commonwealth. Of course there has been a disruption of mail services. People talk about this disruption but do they think of the rest of the time when thousands of trade unionists are performing a job that is repetitious and boring but which someone must do? Not everybody can sit in an executive board room and be a sort of Bonaparte of industry, giving orders and seeing people jump to it. Thousands of people for the whole of their working lives are going to be in boring and tiresome jobs. A person has entered their ranks and she considers that she is better than they are. They have battled year after year to get better conditions, but even when they have got improved conditions it has not put them in the top echelon in respect of conditions and wages.
The situation boils down to this: There has been a continuation of a series of sores. People like Tom McLachlan, the State President of the Amalgamated Postal Workers Union, and Des Rochford are balanced people who endeavour to keep the industry working smoothly. They know too well that they have a difficult enough job as it is. Genuine issues do arise, and 1 know what Senator Milliner has at the back of his mind. Sometimes there are unfortunate issues concerning demarcation disputes. These are not always happy situations. However, in respect of this dispute, a section of the trade union movement has been carrying on under difficulties. It is not a case of their getting all they want. In relation to new techniques the Department got its way and brought in females to do work that was formerly done by males. The unions accepted the situation, but the Department was not satisfied with that. All sorts of irritations are occurring. 1 say unhesitatingly what has been said by my colleagues: This situation was not helped by Senator Greenwood, and if it is a question of human rights, the mass of the rank and file postal workers have their rights. They are not the lepers that Miss O’Keefe has implied they are.
– Having had some considerable experience with the processes of conciliation and arbitration I can say quite categorically that in my opinion and in the opinion of a great body of the trade union movement one of the problems facing that movement today is the lack of understanding, appreciation and tolerance of those persons within some government departments who handle, on behalf of those government departments, matters relating to conditions of employment, and their complete lack of understanding and appreciation of the principles of the trade union movement. Very regrettably, this lack of understanding and appreciation on the part of a number of Government industrial officers has been mirrored and reflected by Senator Greenwood in this chamber this evening. I am pleased at least to note that no other Government supporters - especially none of the Ministers - has risen to join in Senator Greenwood’s attack on the trade union movement.
Senator Greenwood said that he understood that there was a general trade movement principle which had its origin in the commencement of the trade union movement. That principle is that members will not work with strike breakers. Then he said that whilst he understood that there was this principle he wondered whether there was any reason for its existence today. I am as certain as I am that night follows day that it is as vital a principle to the trade union movement today as it was yesterday, especially after one has heard Senator Greenwood. But at least the honourable senator acknowledges that in it is a trade union principle. Indeed, I go further and say that it is a cardinal trade union principle. Surely if Senator Greenwood knew that that principle existed it is axiomatic that the industrial officers of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, who are supposed to know something about industrial relations, must surely also have known about its existence. One wonders why, if they knew of the existence of this principle, they as industrial officers attempting to practise conciliation in the first instance - even assuming they wanted to employ Miss O’Keefe and people of her ilk-did not in the first instance approach the trade union movemnt to see what would be the attitude of that movement towards the employment of such people.
Therefore one is entitled to ask why these industrial officers of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department acted so precipitately to cause industrial trouble. The honourable senator then went on to say that the trade union leaders had raised this issue as a smokescreen and a red herring, but I will tell the Senate why it was raised. It was raised because, as 1 have said, it is a cardinal principle that strike breakers will not be tolerated by any section of the trade union movement, and certainly in these days of hire purchase payments, high prices and low wages, men and women do not like striking unnecessarily. But as my colleague Senator Mulvihill said, the leaders of this trade union in New South Wales - Mr McLachlan, the State President, and Mr Richardson, the State Secretary - are very fine men. They are men of great practical understanding and sound industrial training. They have the complete backing of the rank and file of the union and indeed of the rest of the trade union movement in New South Wales.
Senator Greenwood said ; I think I heard him correctly - that the third clause in the terms of settlement provided that the PostmasterGeneral would withdraw the special casual labour at the end of the last shift immediately before the shift on which the members of the union would resume work, and that from then on - note the words from then on’ - the special casual labour would be fully withdrawn. I suggest it is quite simple that the union clearly understood that under no circumstances whatever would people who had engaged in strike breaking be employed by the PostmasterGeneral’s. Department again. Therefore, I agree with my colleagues who have said that Senator Greenwood was only fanning the industrial fires which have been rekindled as a result of the PostmasterGeneral’s action on this issue.
Senator little (Victoria) [2.7 a.m.] - I would not have risen to speak had the debate concluded after Senator Bishop had spoken because I though that he put the relevant points. But I believe it is incumbent now on some honourable senator to make several points that are important in this debate. The dispute may take on a different complexion early next week. Many people are committing themselves - and they could be provoking the principals in the dispute to commit themselves - to an untenable situation which might, in itself, prevent the solution of a very serious industrial dispute - one that will result in many working people losing a lot of money and will cost the country itself very dearly.
I cannot agree with the interpretation that has been placed on the Declaration of Human Rights by Senator Greenwood. I would always concede to him the right to say that he did not wish to be associated with me in this Senate and to withdraw his labour from the Senate if he so desired. He has the right to do that, just as 1 have the right to sit here and give of my labour in this place. We cannot take away from one man the right that we wish to concede to somebody else. I deprecate the use of the word ‘scab’ that has been flung backwards and forwards across the chamber, and particularly the naming of an individual who will be concerned in the solution of this dispute.
– Who named him?
– I do not want to say anything provocative. The only thing I will say is that at least Senator Bishop did not place this appendage on anybody. It is ridiculous for any of my colleagues in this chamber, who has enjoyed the experience of being a trade union official, to say that no union members will ever work with a scab, because that is not true. There have been many instances in the history of the Australian trade union movement when, with the effluxion of time, people who have been called scabs have again worked in their industry. I remind my trade union colleagues of the formation of the Permanent and Casual Wharflabourers Union, which was created during one of the most inflammable industrial disputes in the history of this country. Indeed, lives were lost on the Melbourne waterfront. Ultimately the members of that union were absorbed into the Waterside Workers Federation, and in not so recent industrial history either.
Perhaps we do not have to go back to London and to his definition of a scab, and to the industrial circumstances of the time and the extreme poverty that was associated with some of those tremendous industrial disputes when trade unionism was fighting for its recognition. Those disputes went on for months and years, and the starvation suffered by the women and children who were associated with the men who withdrew their labour for a sound principle was so extreme that this definition was devised. But I wonder what would be the definition in thost days of a person who, as a member of a striking organisation, went and sold his labour somewhere else and did not share with his striking workmates the proceeds from that labour.
He, too. would have been described as a scab. That kind of thing happens in nearly every industrial dispute that takes place today. When the postal workers’ dispute occurred I advertised for temporary labour and I was contacted by a member of the postal workers union. Honourable senators know that many of them obtain casual employment, as people do in modern industrial disputes, and I do not wish to argue the rights or wrongs of that. If honourable members say that this does not happen then all I can say is that their experience has not been as wide as mine.
If people decide to use this harsh word scab’, at least let them recognise thai it does not have quite the same implications that it had at one time in the trade union movement. And for the purposes of this discussion tonight, for heaven’s sake let everybody accept the proposition advanced so clearly by Senator Murphy and Senator Bishop that this dispute now has to be settled. Nobody here knows what the terms of settlement will be. Nobody knows whether persons who have been named here tonight will not be vitally concerned in whatever decision is made by the people who are now charged with the grave responsibility of solving the problem in the best interests of everybody concerned. The matter is clearly sub judice at the moment, from the point of view of people who may try to give their own definitions of persons involved or who might try to give the solutions that may be reached. If anybody wishes, after the solution has been arrived at, to express his own personal criticism of the people who have negotiated the settlement, or his own personal view as to whether that settlement is sensible or not, then he will be free to do so. But at the moment we have only newspaper reports and these, of course, must be sensational. It is purpose of newspapers to report the sensational and the extreme, to report the statements of one person where dozens may be concerned.
I deprecate the fact that the matter has been brought here, but the fact is that it has been brought here and I think it has been fairly well canvassed. I regret that at this stage I could not have risen and at least added one to the number of Senator Greenwood’s side. But the fact is that I do not agree with him, and the numbers seem to have been disproportionately against him in the argument. I plead with everyone in this chamber to give this argument away now before other things are said which may be inflammatory, so that there will be no impediment in the way of what we all want a settlement of the dispute in the near future.
– I will not keep the Senate overlong. I just wish to place on record my personal thanks to my colleague Senator Greenwood for raising this matter tonight. Should any honourable senators feel that there has been a lack of vocal support from this side of the chamber, it is fair to say that this is because Senator Greenwood presented our views so ably, so concisely and so clearly that we felt there was no point in merely turning over dead fish in the market. We are really indebted to him, and his remarks aroused in the Opposition certain expressions of view. I have had some experience with trade unionism because my father was one of the early trade unionists in Australia.If I may say so, he was a fairly distinguished trade unionist.
– He was one of the best.
– Yes, and if I may say so, he was a fairly distinguished member of the Australian Labor Party for more than 60 years. As I understand my fathers lifetime, what drove him into the trade union movement and into the Australian Labor Party-
– Drove him?
– Yes, drove him. He was driven into it by his great love of humanity. All 1 have heard tonight from the successors of my father’s generation in the Labor movement have been expressions of great hatred of humanity. I am deeply indebted to Senator Greenwood, who has exposed so clearly the degree to which some members of the Australian Labor Party and the trade union movement, which my father spent a lifetime in building, have become corrupted by their hatred of their fellow men and of those who have the temerity to disagree with them. I thank Senator Greenwood for raising this matter tonight.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 2.17 a.m. (Friday).
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 7 November 1968, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1968/19681107_senate_26_s39/>.