26th Parliament · 2nd Session
The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon. Sir Alister McMullin) took the chair at 3 p.m. and read prayers.
– by leave - The following tribute to the late President Eisenhower was made in the House of Representatives today by the Prime Minister. Honourable senators will understand that where the pronoun’I’ appears it refers to the Prime Minister.
I am sure that all honourable members would not wish this occasion to pass without reference by us to the death of the former President of the United States of America. General Dwight D. Eisenhower.
We had long watched with admiration and sympathy the courageous fight he waged against the ravages of recurring heart attacks, and he faced the closing hours of his life with the courage and fortitude that lived with him all his days and which carried him to the greatest heights his country had to offer in war and in peace.
It is scarcely necessary to rehearse the facts of his greatness, because his distinguished service as the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces for the invasion of Western Europe and the conquest of Nazi Germany are not so far behind us in the span of years. Indeed, Australian servicemen, particularly those in the Royal Australian Air Force, served under his command in the liberation of Europe. And to most of us in this House, his service as President of the United States is part of recent history. But in the 20 years or more since his name became a household word amongst those of us who lived through the sombre days of World War II a new generation has grown up in Australia and it is fitting that we in this House pay tribute to his long and brilliant career.
General Eisenhower was born on 14th October 1890 and was educated at the United States Military Academy, West Point, where he graduated in 1915. He served in the First World War with the infantry of the United States Army and from then on held a succession of Army appointments, increasing in rank, experience and professional skill with the passing years.
In World War II General Eisenhower became known to the world when he was given command of the European theatre of operations in 1942. His qualities of leadership, his military judgment and his flair for getting on with people led to his appointment as Commander-in-Chief of the allied forces in North Africa from 1942 to 1944, and finally his greatest test and his greatest triumph - his appointment as Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in Western Europe from 1944 to 1945. No soldier could have faced a more difficult task in welding the forces of several nations into one united, powerful, and triumphant command for the invasion of Europe. He succeeded brilliantly and achieved the liberation of the countries of Western Europe that had been occupied by enemy forces.
After an interlude of 2 years as the President of Columbia University, General Eisenhower returned to uniform once more to serve his country, first as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and then as Supreme Commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Forces in Europe from 1950 to 1952. In 1952 he made his final committal to the service of his country by accepting the nomination as Republican candidate for President and being elected to that office.
General Eisenhower accepted the challenge of foreign affairs as perhaps the most important of his tasks and although his health had already been undermined, he laboured unceasingly to lead new offensives for peace when the climate with the Soviet Union was dark and foreboding.
He sought endlessly for a new understanding between East and West, and the Geneva Summit Conference of July 1955 brought his prestige to a new level. From the time he assumed the Presidency until his second term was over he never ceased to fight for peace. He was a great soldierstatesman, perhaps the greatest of our time. We mourn his passing and I am sure that the House will join with me when 1 say that the sympathy of this Parliament and the sympathy of the Australian nation go out to the American people and to General Eisenhower’s own family. For myself I felt privileged to attend the services, representing Australia, at the Washington Cathedral and at the Capitol, and to lay a wreath on behalf of the nation and on behalf of the Returned Services League.
– by leave: - We on the Opposition side wish to be associated with this tribute to the late General Eisenhower. His was an outstanding career, characterised by duty and service. He served as a great soldier, the Supreme Commander on behalf of the Allies. He served in an academic sphere as President of Columbia University. He served his nation as the chief executive for 8 years. During all that time bis attitudes were ones of stability, of common sense and of welding the people around him together so that they could co-operate, whether in war or in peace, to carry out the joint aims in a spirit of efficiency and harmony. In the political field, his time as President was not noted for innovation; it was a period of great stability but not of any great advances in the social field or constitutional field. But it was marked by one very great speech which was noted all around the world and which I think will be quoted for many decades to come. That was his great speech on retiring from office, his farewell speech to the nation in January 1961, when he warned his own nation, and perhaps through that other nations, against the pervasive influence of the great militaryindustrial complex which had arisen in the United States. Although, as he remarked, it might have been necessary, it had the very greatest of dangers for the people of his own country and, one would draw the lesson, for others. He was a great man and we share with the Government the tribute which has been paid to him.
– by leave - Members of the Australian Democratic Labor Party desire to be associated with the remarks made by the Leader of the Government in this chamber (Senator Anderson) and supported by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy). There is very little that I can add to what has already been said of the qualifications and qualities of the late General Eisenhower. I fancy, from what I have read of his life, that the most appealing of General Eisenhower’s qualities was bis power of understanding and his great humanitarianism. It is said of him that he had the virtue and quality of being able to get more from men than probably any other outstanding leader of the armed forces. It portrays a great quality and a great sense of humanity when a man can attract the support, devotion and affection of those he leads. That in itself is a great tribute. Men can be virile, strong and even efficient but often they lose their sense of balance. They forget that those who serve under them are humans and sometimes regard them merely as units and cogs. .
It is unquestionably true- that General Eisenhower proved himself to be a great leader in the armed forces. Some have said that he was not as outstanding a general as he sometimes is depicted but 1 am not in a position to support or dispute that. However, he proved himself to be a great leader of men. As a parliamentarian and as leader of the great United States of America he was not - a spectacular President but he was sound and always had regard for the preservation of peace, not only for his own country but for all countries of the world. That was a great mission, a mission in which he was sincerely engaged.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of strong indications of a vast withdrawal of United Slates troops from Vietnam and that this might occur even without a reduction of troops by North Vietnam and irrespective of the wishes of the Government in Saigon, will the Leader of the Government tell us why Australia is giving the appearance of being so reluctant to effect any similar withdrawal and is putting up all sorts of excuses in advance against the possibility of such a withdrawal?
– I do not deny that there has been Press comment about the possibility of some cut back in American forces committed in Vietnam but it is my clear understanding that there has been no statement of United States Government policy in relation to the matter. Therefore, for the Australian Government to respond at government level to a proposition which is merely hypothetical and is merely the subject of Press comments in the United States would be, 1 suggest, completely unreal. In any event, the force that Australia has committed in Vietnam is very small. Anyone who has had even a smattering of military training will understand that a force has to operate as a force. I well remember my own situation when I went overseas in 1940. We had a brigade group. It is necessary to have a balanced force. A country cannot just send front line infantry overseas. Regard has to be had to associated units. The force must be balanced. I point out that the only thing that has been said by Australia is that any variation of its forces would have lo be looked at in that context. Anybody who has had any experience of or has read about military manoeuvres and activities understands that a force sent overseas has to be balanced arid regard has to be had to all roles of the Services. This applies to all forces regardless of whether they consist of a few thousand troops or hundreds of thousands of troops.
– My question is directed lo the Leader of the Governtment in the Senate, i ask: Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to the employment situation in Australia as at the end of March 1969? Is he aware that the published figures show that only 1.18% of the work force in Australia was unemployed at that stage? ls the Minister aware of the great compliment that is due to, and is being paid by, all sectors of the Australian community to the employers in industry and commerce, and in particular to the present Federal Government, for the economic climate they have helped to create in this most fortunate country? Can the Minister advise the Senate of any nations in the world which have a higher employment rate than Australia has?
– I thank the honourable senator for asking that question. The facts are as he slates. Figures just released indicate that unemployment in Australia is at a level which is probably more favourable than that of any other country. The position is that ever since this Government has been in office it has done everything possible lo ensure that there is full employment in Australia. The current figures are even more favourable when one realises that Australia is a primary producing country which has seasonal employment. Even Senator Cant will accept that seasonal work is involved in every field of primary production. So, for a primary producing country of Australia’s magnitude to be able to attain full employment speaks wonders for the administration which has the responsibility of government. The honourable senator asked whether the Government was conscious of the economic problems which may emerge from full employment. All 1 want to say to him is that the Government, the Treasurer, the Prime Minister and all other members of the Cabinet are constantly looking at the impact of employment in Australia, lt has to be understood that we have a magnificent migration policy, lt is true that (he Government has to keep a constant watch on the job opportunities lor the migrants coming here.
– And inflation.
– Yes. The Government is always endeavouring lo bc right on top of the problems which may emerge as a consequence of full employment.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer, ls section 79a of the Income Tax Assessment Act so rigid that a taxpayer may live in either zone A or zone B from early January to late December and not quality for the zone allowance for either of the taxation years in which those months fall because he has not completed’ a full 6 months’ residence in the area? If the answer to the question is in the affirmative, will the Minister give favourable consideration to amending section 79a of the Income Tax Assessment Act to enable a taxpayer who is so penalised by the existing provisions of the Act to qualify for portions of the concession enumerated in the Act?
– 1 will direct the honourable senator’s question to the Treasurer and I hope to gel a prompt and detailed answer for him.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior whether he is aware that there is a strong movement in South Australia to adopt eastern standard time and thus advance central standard time by half an hour. Will the Minister discuss with the Minister for the Interior, who is responsible for the administration of the Northern Territory, the possibility of the Northern Territory also adopting eastern standard time if South Australia elects to change?
– I was in South Australia recently and have read many articles relating to the subject matter raised by the honourable senator. The question now is whether South Australia can get the Northern Territory people to agree to a request that central standard time be advanced and brought into line with eastern standard time. I ask the honourable senator to place his question on notice so that we can get a considered opinion from the Department of the Interior as to whether it is prepared to co-operate in this approach.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. By way of explanation, I had the privilege last week to visit some of the dried fruit growers of the Robinvale, Mildura and Swan Hill areas with a view to finding out whether it was possible to give any help to those growers whose finances have been affected seriously by the recent heavy rains in that area. Apart from rain damage there is another problem. As the Minister is no doubt aware, insurance companies will not lake insurance risks against rain, flood, frost or hail. Therefore the growers in these areas have set up a non-profit fund of their, own to deal with hail damage. Will the Treasurer use his influence to see that the Commonwealth Government ceases taking income tax from this fund which, as T said before, is non-profit making?
– The honourable senator’s question deals with two aspects, the first of which relates to crops which have been damaged by rain. The normal procedure - and we have discussed it in this chamber quite frequently - is that in cases of this type of damage representations are made through the State government concerned to the Commonwealth Government for assistance. I would commend this to the honourable senator in answer to the first part of his question. He then referred more directly to the question of a taxation concession. I will refer the matter to the Treasurer and get an answer from him.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Will the Minister request his colleague to take up with the United States authorities the recent demand by them that veterinary surgeons must supervise all meat treatment plants which export meat to the United States? This demand will compel some small meat works to close because there are not enough qualified veterinary surgeons available to perform this work.
– The. position as I understand it is that officers of the Department of. Primary Industry are already in the United States endeavouring to iron out the. problems mentioned by the honourable senator.
– ls the Minister representing the Minister for Health aware that since the decision of the Government to increase Commonwealth daily assistance for chronic cases a number of private hospital’s have increased their, charges, thus depriving chronically ill. patients of the increased benefit? Does :th is not defeat the Government’s effort to. assist the chronically ill? Can the Government take any further action to prevent these patients from being deprived of this assistance?
– L appreciate the point raised by the honourable senator arid his concern for these particular patients. 1 cannot give him a detailed reply to the point he has raised, but 1 shall get the information for him.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Owing’’ to the great importance of the Australian’ wheat industry and the problems associated with it. I ask the Minister whether, following discussions that were held with the Australian Agricultural Council last week, the Minister for Primary Industry intends to hold further discussions with the Council and the leaders of the industry - the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation - in an endeavour to reach a firm policy decision for the restriction of wheat production for this coming year. I ask this as the matter is of great importance and urgency as the time for planting next season’s crop is drawing very close.
– I am not in a position to say what the intentions of the Minister for Primary Industry are in connection with the matter raised by the honourable senator, but I think the position is fairly well known. The growers’ organisations themselves look the first step towards seeing whether something could be done, either by way of limitation of acreage or limitation of wheat being brought forward for sale from next season’s crop. I think we tend to overlook one very important aspect: lt is the weather, not only in the Australian sphere, but world wide. This can have a very important bearing on the future sales of Austraiian wheat. I agree with the honourable senator that it is very important indeed that some decision should be made fairly quickly. So far as the Commonwealth Government is concerned, I have said more than once that it is not within the power of the Commonwealth Government to limit acreages at all. If limitation of acreages is to be brought about, that is a matter for the States themselves. The conference that has been held with the State authorities has not arrived at unanimity in connection with the scheme that has been suggested. I would imagine that there will be a further conference, but I am not in a position to say definitely that there will be.
– I have a question which I proposed asking the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science. Perhaps in his absence I might address it to the Leader of the Government or the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. I refer to the report on the Australian television and film industries prepared for the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organi sation by the distinguished British writer, Lord Willis of Chislehurst, which was made public on April 2nd. 1 refer especially to Lord Willis’s recommendation that a national film and television school be set up, organised on an all-Australian basis, independent of existing institutions and backed by the full authority and prestige of the Federal Government. I ask the Minister whether the Government has considered the report wilh a view to acting on its proposals or whether the report is likely to find its way into the same capacious pigeonhole as that of the Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television, of which the late Senator Vincent was Chairman and a number of present day senators were public spirited and far-sighted members.
– I believe that the question asked by Senator Cohen comes within the portfolio of the Minister for Education and Science, and I think I should direct it to that Minister. He referred to a Senate select committee. 1 think that matter would come within the portfolio of the Postmaster-General, but I shall direct the question in the first instance to the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science.
– BROCKMAN- My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Is it a fact that Western Australia has been granted an extra $2.7m and a loan of seventy-five technicians for a crash programme to improve the telephone service in that State? Can the Minister say in what way this extra money is to be spent and whether any of it is to be spent on improving country telephone services?
– This question requires a very detailed reply on the points the honourable senator has raised. I ask that it be placed on the notice paper.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Acting Minister for External Affairs. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to a report published in the newspapers last weekend in which it was stated that a senior member of Japan’s government party returned from Peking last week after 2 months of trade negotiations, having conceded through a joint communique issued with his Chinese counterparts that, firstly, The Government of the People’s Republic of China represents the people of China and Taiwan is an inescapable part of China’; secondly, The Japanese Government was responsible for bad relations existing between China and Japan and should mend its ways’; and thirdly, ‘The existence of the Japan-United States security treaty, involved Japan as an accomplice in the American policy of containment of China and the treaty was a threat not only, to China but various Asian countries’? Is the Government prepared to declare that it will never make unwarranted political concessions to the Communist Chinese, such as those made in the Japanese case, in return for wheat or trade orders? Will the Government also declare that it repudiates the recommendation made by Mr Cyril Wyndham, the Federal Secretary of the Australian Labor Party; in February of this year that Australia recognise Communist China as a way to boost wheat sales to that country?
– The Leader of the Democratic Labor Party. Senator Gair, asks a very comprehensive series of questions. I think it would be proper to place them on the notice paper and to put them to the Acting Minister for External Affairs for a considered reply. 1. feel bound to say. however, that Australia’s position in relation to the sale of wheat is known and has been debated here on a number of occasions. The fact is that the honourable senator asks me to give judgments on policy at question time. He has been in politics for many years. I am sure that he understands the procedures as well as I do and knows that I just cannot do that. However, I will refer the question to the Acting Minister for External Affairs.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs. Has the Minister taken any action or does he intend to take any action to preserve the Weebo stones which apparently are sacred to certain Aboriginals in Western Australia?
If no action is open directly to the Minister, has he approached or will he approach the Western Australian Government wilh a view to saving from destruction something of great significance to many Aboriginal people?
– 1 know L speak for my ‘colleague the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs when I say how very concerned he is about matters of very real importance concerning various tribes and their tribal rights. I imagine that the honourable senator has referred to’ such a matter’ !in’ respect of the stones he has named. I do hot know whether the Minister has seen the report’ to which the honourable’ senator referred and I do not know whether he has taken particular action in connection with the stones, either directly or through the Western Australian Government. I will place the honourable senator’s comments before the Minister and obtain a reply for him.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy explain why it was considered desirable to approach the Royal Navy last year for officers to join the Royal Australian Navy?’ In par’ticular, why was it considered desirable to seek ten commanders in v. the Seaman Branch? Would the entry of’ ex-Royal Navy officers have an adverse effect on the careers or promotion prospects of Australian Navy officers?
– The answer to the honourable senator’s first question is as follows: Because of expansion, the Royal Australian Navy is short of some officers in certain categories. The Royal Navy had forecast possible redundancies of some officers in these and other categories but had made it clear that the estimated numbers would be subject to review in the light of further studies of .future requirements. The opportunity was therefore taken to let the Royal Navy know that on a forecast of future numbers required in the Royal Australian Navy there could possibly be a requirement for some of. the officers who might be made redundant, in the Royal Navy. Brief details of the possible vacancies were published by the Royal Navy in December 1968 giving approximate figures in various ranks and categories. .
In answer to the honourable senator’s second question, I advise him that the Royal Navy redundancy programme is likely to cover a number of years. The forecast possible requirement over this period was a total of approximately ten seamen commanders for 4 years full time service on the Royal Australian Navy Emergency List. As the release of any Royal Navy officers who may be made redundant is also likely to be spread over a relatively long period, any engagement of ex-Royal Navy officers for Royal Australian Navy Emergency List service would be made only on account of any vacancies unfilled by Australian officers existing at the time that Royal Navy officers were made redundant. I also advise the honourable senator, in reply to his third question, that ex-Royal Navy officers would be entered only to fill vacancies in the Royal Australian Navy-
– I rise to order. I understand that we are dealing with questions without notice. I ask you, Mr President whether we have already started to deal with questions on notice, because 1 am certain that no honourable senator believes that the question to which the Minister is now replying was addressed without notice.
– No, we are not dealing with questions on notice. We are still dealing with questions without notice. Naturally, I am concerned about questions such as this to which obviously the Minister has had an answer prepared. I do not know why the question could not have been put on the notice paper and an answer provided in the usual way. I have no control over the statements of a Minister in reply to questions. However, I think that on this occasion the question could have been put on the notice paper.
– I have no control over questions that are put to me. If they are placed on the notice paper I will obtain answers to them. If they are addressed to me without notice I do my best to provide an answer. The answer to the honourable senator’s third question is that ex-Royal Navy officers would be entered only to fill vacancies in the Royal Australian Navy which could not be filled by Royal Australian Navy officers of appropriate rank and experience. No eligible and suitably qualified Australian Navy officer would be prejudiced in his normal career or promotion prospects by the entry of officers from the Royal Navy or from any other sources.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Social Services seen a recent report of a statement attributed to the New South Wales Minister for Justice that it costs $28 a week to keep a man in gaol? Does this not indicate an urgent need to raise the standards of another section of the community, namely, the aged and the infirm who comprise the ranks of age and invalid pensioners whose cost to the community is substantially below that of a lawbreaker, but whose only crime seems to be that they have grown old or infirm or that they have been unable to gather sufficient estate to make them independent of social services?
– I had a little difficulty in understanding the honourable senator’s question because I could not hear part of it. I gather that one part of it concerned people who had gone to gaol and that the other part dealt with the benefits payable to aged and invalid persons. At all times during its period of office this Government has given consideration to the problems of aged persons and those in need. The Prime Minister appointed a welfare committee of Cabinet to study matters of concern to aged persons and persons in need. That Committee is even now studying these matters.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. In view of the importance of the tourist industry to the Australian economy and also in view of the serious results which could ensue from statements made by several United States of America tourist agents concerning discourteous and irritating treatment by customs officials at Mascot airport, Sydney, will the Minister give his opinion on the reports of the said customs officials’ discourtesy?
– I have seen the statement referred to by the honourable senator. I received a letter from the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate advising me that he intended to ask a question on this subject, and I prepared an answer for the Senate. Because of the publicity given in the Press at the time 1 anticipated the question. I would like to inform honourable senators that when I read the Press accountI gave immediate instructions that a full investigation be made. In fact a senior officer of the Department of Customs and Excise interviewed the travel agents on the day the comment appeared in the Press. I understand that the circumstances were as follows: These twenty agents arrived in Sydney by flight QF585 on 20th March 1969. Although the Press report suggests that all complained about the customs treatment, in point of fact there were four complainants. The first of these stated that the customs officer stared him straight in the eye while asking him questions, which made him uncomfortable. The officer also queried whether a book in his possession was prohibited. The passenger’s main objection appeared to be that the officer then had to refer the book to a superior officer. The second agent complained that, after asking him whether he understood the information sheet, the officer then went through the sheet asking him questions about specific items. Similarly the third passenger was asked questions about the contents of the sheet. He complained that this was irritating. The fourth passenger, who was reported as stating that the customs officer was insulting and abusive, in fact did not have any baggage opened but was asked specifically whether she was smuggling any wooden articles or fire arms. 1 do not consider that, except for the asking of one question, the customs officers exceeded their authority or asked any objectionable questions. The one exception 1 could accept is that it is objectionable to be asked if you are smuggling. It was objectionable even though it may have been an attempt to be humorous. I have taken steps to see that it is not repeated. In a department as large as the Customs Department I do not deny that on occasions an officer can be guilty of discourtesy. This has happened, but whenever it is detected appropriate action is taken. However, 1 am satisfied that these cases are rare exceptions and I am bolstered in this belief by the unsolicited reports I have had both before and since this incident from people who have come through the customs barrier. Also I have had favourable comments from people who frequently meet passengers and who have assured me that, not only have they been treated with courtesy, but also, in their experience, Australian customs officers do their job more courteously than officers in most other countries.
It is significant that the day after this report appeared in the paper another report was published by a group of American travellers who stated unanimously: ‘We have found your officials to be courteous and efficient. All they do is to ask the questions and do the work they are required to do’. 1 have personally inspected the Customs activities at Mascot airport on three occasions.I am satisfied that passengers arc cleared at the fastest rates possible while ensuring that the laws passed by this Parliament are obeyed. The officers 1 saw in action were courteous but firm where necessary, with an uncompromising approach to the possibility of smuggling prohibited imports. On this occasion 1 think it best to be charitable and repeat that, whilst it is possible that an individual officer on an occasion could be discourteous, in this present case these travel agents probably were tired after a long overnight flight and felt that, as travel agents, they should be given treatment different from normal travellers. In fact, I understand that this comment was made by members of the group. Travel agents and all other tourists are most welcome in this country and the customs examination has been streamlined to assist them. However, nobody is excepted from an appropriate customs inspection on the grounds of profession, salary or race.
-I address a question to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. Is a tariff imposed on overseas television programmes imported into Australia? Is it a fact that the cost of importing these programmes is but a fraction of their original cost? Does the importation of these programmes at such a low cost make it difficult for local programme production companies to compete against them?
– The honourable senator has inquired about the cost of imported programmes for television and has referred to the tariffs on imported programmes, asking whether these programmes make it impossible for local programmes to compete with imported ones. In order to give a proper reply to such a question I feel that I should have detailed figures which I shall get from the Minister.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Supply. As example is better than precept, and in order to indicate to the Senate whether the Government is setting an example in respect of seat belts and car safety, will the Minister in due course inform the Senate what percentage of the 42,000 motor vehicles operated by Commonwealth departments is fitted with seat belts?
– I shall get the information and make it available to the honourable senator and the Senate.
– My question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health relates to Australia-wide complaints and confusion about the distribution of influenza vaccine and family doctors being unable to secure supplies for risk cases although large industrial organisations had supplies before the announced date of delivery. What is being done to correct this situation, to prevent such confusion in the future and to ensure that adequate supplies are available to family doctors?
– The Minister for Health issued a Press statement on 3rd April in which he spoke of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories having already distributed 900,000 doses in single-dose ampoules and nearly a million doses in multi-dose containers. He said that this represented approximately four times the average total annual issue of influenza vaccine by the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories over the last 10 years and that the Laboratories were continuing to manufacture the vaccine at the rate of 250,000 doses per week. He said also that he had requested the Laboratories to pack sufficient amounts of the vaccine in singledose ampoules in order to continue to supply pensioners as a pharmaceutical benefit. He said that he had also requested the Laboratories to give priority in supplying the vaccine in multi-dose containers to hospitals and medical practitioners so that those people most likely to benefit from vaccination could get it. The Minister recognised that this could delay the supply of vaccine to employer organisations which had ordered large quantities of vaccine from the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories through their industrial medical officers.
He said also that it should be recognised that influenza was rarely a serious risk in fit people, and that many of the orders received by CSL for influenza vaccine from business and other organisations were intended to reduce absenteeism from work due to influenza. The employees of these organisations would normally be fit people. To ensure adequate supplies of vaccine as pharmaceutical benefits for pensioners, the Minister for Health strongly urged medical practitioners to write prescriptions for single-dose ampoules only for their pensioner patients and said that all other patients should be supplied from multidose containers. 1 am also informed that because of the unusual demand for this serum the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories already has issued 2i million doses of the vaccine and the present production programme is designed to produce and release 250,000 doses a week as long as the demand continues. In addition, approval is being given for the importation and distribution of vaccine by another company. I think that will overcome the problem the honourable senator has raised.
– I ad- ress my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. I refer to the Minister’s reply to Senator Lawrie’s question on 26th February regarding the plan for the amalgamation of marginal dairy farms and the Commonwealth’s offer to discuss this matter with the States. In view of the fact that all States have not accepted the Commonwealth’s offer, will the Government consider making assistance available to those States which are willing to go ahead with the scheme?
– The Minister has said. I understand, that if complete agreement cannot be reached with all States he is prepared to negotiate separately with them.
– By way of preface to my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health I refer to question No. 839 which I submitted on 25th February and in which I sought details of the possible release of North Head Quarantine Station for the purpose of its utilisation as a Sydney harbourside park. In the light of the statements made during the weekend by the New South Wales Minister for Lands, may I assume that since the Quarantine Station has no defence significance it shortly will be released for park purposes and a new site selected for a quarantine station?,
– As the honourable senator has mentioned, there is a question on the notice paper. The information supplied to me by the Minister for Health is that the matters raised have been the subject of correspondence between the Commonwealth and the New South Wales Government.
– I address my question to the Minister for Customs and Excise, ls it true that an Australian rum distilling company which under bond bottles various spirits in Sydney was investigated by officers of his Department in August last and that as a result spirits were seized and duty of over $2,500 was called up? Can the Minister advise what action is being, or is to be, taken by his Department to find out whether this fraudulent practice had been carried on over a number of years prior to the raid on this bond? Is the Department satisfied with the $200 penalty that was imposed on the company? Is this the policy always adopted by his Department? Is it true that the largest shareholder and managing director of the firm in question is the man who has announced his intention to contest the Federal seat of Warringah and, if elected, to give his parliamentary salary to the poor?
– Officers of my Department are continually investigating distilleries and wineries throughout Australia. All I can say is that a company in Sydney was fined. I ask the honourable senator to place his question on the notice paper so that I can obtain precise details for him.
– Is the Minister representing the Postmaster-General aware of the many complaints being aired generally with respect to poor mail deliveries with two, three or more days frequently elapsing between posting and delivery of mail in both metropolitan and country areas? If so, what is the reason for the increasing instances of delay in the delivery of postal articles?
– I do not know the reasons for the delays. I suggest to the honourable senator that if he is in receipt of mail which has obviously been delayed for a long time he keep a record of the posting time stamped on it. This will be of assistance to the PostmasterGeneral when he inquires into the reasons for the delay. I will place the honourable senator’s question before the PostmasterGeneral and will advise him of any information that the Minister has for him.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Is the Minister aware that an attempt to set up a football pools organisation on the island of Nauru has caused the Premier of Victoria to have a report compiled on the commercial activities of Mr H. G. Pearce? Is he also aware that the report has been completed and will be or has been made available to the Prime Minister? Can the Minister inform the Senate whether the report will be made available for the information of members of the Parliament?
– I am not aware of any investigation of this nature being made at the instigation of the Victorian Government or the Victorian Premier. If the honourable senator requires any further information he should put his question on notice.
– My question i3 directed to the Minister representing the Postmaster-General. I ask: Has the Minister’s attention been directed to the progressive increase in the number of television advertisements shown by commercial stations, particularly during the most popular programmes? Can the Minister inform the Senate what limits are placed on commercial television stations in this regard?
– I. regret that I cannot inform the honourable senator of the limits on the number of advertisements which may be shown during a specified period, but I will get this information for him. I know that there are limits.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Who is responsible for the shortage of wheat storage facilities that is causing a crisis in Australia?
– Different people would give different answers to this question. I think the honourable senator realises that there was a record harvest in New South Wales last year. In spite of the huge increase of storage made by the Grain Elevators . Board, which is responsible for storage iri New South Wales, there is still a shortage. New South Wales is in a different position from some of the other States in which the storage is provided by the growers. It could happen that if there is another good crop this year there will be insufficient storage. If that happens it looks as though the growers will have to provide storage.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. It is prompted by a somewhat long reply he gave to a question asked earlier by Senator Webster and an extremely brief reply to a question asked by a former senator, Senator Dorothy Tangney,, last year in regard to whether Australia was engaged in war. 1 ask, firstly: Is Australia at war? Secondly, what percentage of Australia’s work force is engaged directly or indirectly with Australia’s involvement in Vietnam?
– Obviously, Mr Deputy President, I would not be able to give the figures which the honourable senator seeks and I ask him to put his question on the notice paper.
– Mr Deputy President, I regret that the Minister for Works is not in the Senate at the moment. Nevertheless, I direct this question. Is the Government aware that the requirement of the Department of Works in relation to security deposits required to be lodged by successful tenderers for large Commonwealth building projects have been varied : to a marked degree from those which have, existed for the last year or so? Do the Minister and the Government approve ‘ the provisions which are contained in the application for registration as a tenderer for -multi-million dollar government works? Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to the fact that there is general agreement among major Australian contractors that the provisions have the convenient’ effect of excluding from quoting quite capable and demonstrably’ competent Australian building contractors whilst being v no barrier to interested overseas contractors? Will the Minister bring to the Senate for public information an acceptable, explanation of this matter?
– Quite clearly there would be, and is, an acceptable explanation. I do not propose to embark upon that explanation because the Minister for Works will deal with it himself. I should have thought it was axiomatic that vast, projects require security deposits. I should think that it is an elementary facet of business that these deposits would have some relationship to the cost of the projects concerned. I hope the honourable senator is not suggesting by his question that the Department of Works or a government instrumentality does not wish to encourage the best possible tenderers to tender for a job. That would be an absurd proposition. Any suggestion, by implication, that there is an attempt to block out Australian potential contractors in favour’ of overseas tenderers I dismiss out of hand because such a suggestion is unreal. It must be obvious that with costs varying and tending to increase over the years the figures relating to security deposits equally would have to be increased, having regard to the purpose of the deposits. However^ I am- quite certain that the Minister for Works will give an answer in depth to the. honourable. senator’s question. I rose. only to deny the proposition that an attempt is being made to influence tendering in the way which the question implied.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Customs and Excise been drawn to a recent case involving a delay of over 3 hours in the handling of Royal Australian Navy seamen who were being discharged on leave at Adelaide? No customs facilities were available and the seamen had to wait for many hours while their families were on the wharf. Who was responsible for this situation and what has been done to prevent such situations from arising on future occasions?
– I regret to say that the matter referred to by the honourable senator has not been brought to my notice, but I do know that quite frequently when delays occur they occur through no fault of the customs officers. I can assure the honourable senator that people arriving in Australia are processed by the customs officers as quickly as humanly possible. As I have not the information that the honourable senator desires, I shall obtain it and pass it on to him.
– I address a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise. Does section 4 (1) of the Customs Act define an officer or officer of customs as a person employed in the service of the customs or a person authorised in writing by the Minister to perform the functions of an officer of customs? Has the Minister ever issued an authority in writing to any person other than to customs officers or police officers to perform the functions of an officer of customs on raids conducted by the Department? If so, on how many occasions has this been done since he has occupied his present ministerial portfolio?
– The honourable senator asks about details of the Customs Act. I presume he is refering to the authority to grant search warrants. These are usually issued by the Comptroller of Customs. I may give authority in writing to him. I am not sure of the exact procedure, but I shall find out and give the honourable senator a detailed reply.
– On 28th November last I asked the Minister representing the Treasurer what other Federal Acts of Parliament would require amendment if the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances Act were amended to provide equality in relation to the benefits provided under that Act to all members of the Senate and the House of Representatives, whether they be male or female. 1 have not received a reply as yet. Can the Minister advise me when a reply will be available?
– I cannot do that with precision but 1 most certainly will follow the matter up this afternoon and find out whether it is possible to obtain an answer quickly for the honourable senator.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Does an inconsistency exist in regard to tax concessions whereby donations to the Australian Conservation Foundation are deemed a legitimate tax deduction whereas similar donations to the New South Wales National Park and Wildlife Service are not?
– The decision that is taken to allow tax concessions is arrived at on an individual basis. I think it is perhaps unwise to say that if it is given to one group it should be given to another. I would suggest that this question needs to be referred to the Treasurer in order to get a considered reply from him.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government. Is it a fact that one, H. G. Pearce, is no longer allowed to carry on the business of company promotion on Norfolk Island? ls the Minister aware that an agent of the said H. G. Pearce is still operating on the island and allegedly using an assumed name? Will the Minister inform the Parliament whether a person is or persons are still carrying out company promotion from tax-free Norfolk Island? What is the name of the person or persons, and what action is being taken by the Government to prevent the future registration of new companies based on tax-free Norfolk Island?
– I am not aware of any of the statements that the honourable senator says are facts. I think that part of the question relating to future taxation arrangements on the island should be, very properly, directed to the Minister for External Territories in order to obtain a considered reply. I will see that the question is so directed.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry tell the Senate what Mr Anthony meant when he spoke of selective expansion as regards primary industries generally? Does this mean that the Government intends to introduce direction of farm labour?
– I am quite sure that Senator Ormonde is as well aware as i am that there is no intention of the Government to direct farm labour in any shape or form.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry tell the Senate whether the Government is adhering to its stand that it will not inform the Senate of the price and terms of sales of wheat to Communist China?
– This question has been answered on several occasions. The reason given for the Australian Wheat Board not announcing the price received for wheat sales to China is commercial practice. That is the answer, pure and simple, to the best of my knowledge. It is the only answer I can give the honourable senator.
– Will the Minister representing the Postmaster-General inform the Senate whether it will be necessary for radio and television stations in Queensland to cease broadcasting political matter in that Slate not only 3 days before the Queensland elections but also, in the previous week, 3 days before the Tasmanian elections?
– I will obtain a considered reply from the Minister concerned.
(Question No: 830)
asked the Minister representing the Prime . Minister, upon notice:
Did any Commonwealth department figure in the organised fauna butchery which was perpetrated recently in Queensland for the alleged purpose of enabling thirty-eight sailors from three American destroyers to indulge ina kangaroo shoot?
– The Prime Minister has provided the following in answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Minister for the Navy has advised that the Naval Officer-in-charge, Queensland, received a request from the United States Embassy in Canberra to arrange a hunting trip for American sailors of United States warships. Such hunting trips are readily available through various organisations and can be arrangedby anyone who wants to do so. In this instance, the Naval Officerincharge made a booking witha coachline on behalf of the visitors in response to the United Suites Embassy request.
(Question No. 836)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Has the Government received any positive reports from nations interested in contesting a windjammer race scheduled to be held next year in conjunction with the Captain Cook bi-centenary celebrations?
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
AsI indicated in my answer to the honourable senator’s question without notice on 1 0th September last, the Australian ‘Tourist Commission’s suggestion in 1 967 that sail - training ships of the world be invited to Australia to take part inthe celebrations has been approved.
Informal inquiries by the Department of External Affairs have indicated that a numberof countries would be interested in sending sailing ships.
An announcement about the. matter will be made when formalities with the overseas governments concerned have been completed.
(Question No. 837)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
– The Minister for Trade and Industry has provided the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
(Question No. 844)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following information in reply to the honourable senator’s questions:
Before answering the honourable senator’s questions. I must inform him that Bellanca aircraft have been manufactured since the 1920s and my Department’s records contain reference to twenty basic models and variants holding or having held American Federal Aviation Administration type approval. Many of these types would not be eligible for importation into Australia because of their unsatisfactory sen-ice records and 1 proposed to answer the honourable senator’s questions wilh reference lo the two current production types only - that is, the Model 260C and Model 300 Viking - unless otherwise indicated. These latest models feature a type of wing construction in which the wooden shell structures are put through a plastic impregnation process, a treatment intended to overcome the glue and wood deterioration problems experienced with earlier types of conventional glued wooden structures. My Department has no knowledge of any structural glue-wood’ defects having been encountered on these later types and they are expected to give satisfactory service in Australia.
There are no longer any restrictions on the importation of these aircraft, excepting that they are not permuted to be used on aerial agricultural operations or operations in Papua and New Guinea.
Yes. The aircraft may be licensed to operate in the private, aerial work and charter categories.
Because of the number of in-flight structural failures and the high incidence of defects associated with glue and wood deterioration the Department has prohibited the importation of aeroplanes using certain types of glued-wood construction. The earlier Bellanca types were in this category.
The total number of Bellanca aircraft featuring plastic-impregnated wooden wings would be approximately 200, with the majority of these operating in the United States of America. Manufacture of Bellanca aircraft ceased during World War 11 and recommenced in 1946 with a model having generally similar basic characteristics to the current types, but with conventional wood-wing structure.
There are no recorded failures of Bellanca aircraft with the plastic-impregnated wooden wings. In the case of the earlier models, the specific information is not available from Australian records and would have to be obtained from United States and other overseas sources.
According to advertising material, these aircraft have a guarantee of 500 hours or 24 months. However, no official manufacturer’s publications held by my Department substantiate these figures or give any details of precisely what equipment and components are covered by this guarantee.
Typical guarantees by the major American light aircraft manufacturers are 6 months or 150 hours on the aircraft, equipment, accessories and service parts and 12 months on electronic equipment (communication and navigation) bearing the aircraft manufacturer’s name.
Yes. These aircraft as basic types are approved under Federal Aviation Administration Type Certificate No. 1a3 first issued on 26th September 1949. The plastic-impregnated versions were added in September 1966.
The following performance details have been extracted from the best data available. They are unofficial and have not been verified in any approved publications.
Bellanca 260C (260 HP Continental 10-470-F) Rate of climb at sea level - Approximately 1,500 feet per minute
Service ceiling- 22,500 feet
Maximum’ cruise speed (75% power) - 203 mph/176 knots at 8,000 feet.
Bellanca 300 Viking (300 HP Continental 10-520-D)
Rate of climb at sea level - 1,940 feet per minute
Service ceiling- 24,500 feet
Maximum cruise speed (75% power) - 206 mph/179 knots at 8,000 feet.
After allowance is made for small weight and power differences, the performance of the Bellanca aircraft is very similar to other comparable aircraft types.
On the earlier model Bellanca the incidence of structural failures and defects in the United States of America was such as to cause the Federal Aviation Administration to issue very stringent inspection requirements in addition to the normal periodic checks.
As insurance rates are governed by many factors one of which is the type of construction used it could well be that the rates for Bellanca aircraft in this country might in fact be slightly higher than those of comparable types.
While it is obvious that a wooden wing would not be subject to metal fatigue, wooden construction in turn has its own set of special problems, including glue deterioration, moisture and temperature effects, and various forms of biological attack. The new plastic impregnation treatment used by Bellanca appears to have overcome these problems although the aircraft concerned have not been in service for sufficient time to completely establish the long term durability of this type of construction.
(Question No. 850) .
asked the Minister for Supply, upon notice:
In connection with Australia’s future defence buying in the United States, is it the Government’s intention to insist on United States procurement orders being placed in Australia in the interests of our balance of trade situation?
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The Government’s concern in this area is with minimising the foreign exchange cost of overseas defence purchases and the upgrading of Australia’s technological competence through participation in projects within our capability.I am sure that overseas governments and manufacturers will understand that these considerations will be prominently in mind whenever we contemplate major procurements.
(Question No. 854)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
– The Minister for National Development has provided the following ans’wer to the honourable senator’s question:
The two projects for which funds were made available to the Slate of Victoria by the Commonwealth Government tinder the National Water Resources Development Programme are as follows:
Both projects became operational in September 1968, and by mid-February of this year had removed some 17,500 tons of salt which would have otherwise been passed into the River Murray. The Barr Creek project is designed to operate intermittently, with the objective of reducing peaks in salinity, so that the actual reduction achieved varies from time to time, being greatest when salinity is highest. The reduction in salinity brought about by these projects has a direct effect on water passing downstream and entering South Australia.
(Question No. 860)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
As a means of diminishing the salt content of River Murray waters, will, consideration be given to installing sluices at the base of each lock, to enable the saline waters, which are of heavier density than fresh water, to flow along the bottom of the river with consequent overall improvement of water quality?
– The Minister for National Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question: lt is true that unless the flow is turbulent as when freshes and floods occur in the river, saline water tends to concentrate near the bottom of the stream, in which case it would theoretically be possible to allow it to pass beneath structures and maintain a somewhat better quality at the higher levels from which much of the pumping takes place. Studies that have been made of variations in salinity al selected stations on the river suggest that this layering effect is significant mainly in deep waterholes rather than in the more normal reaches of the river.
In the case of the weirs on the Murray, the design itself, and the present condition of the structures, are such that the provision of sluices across a significant width of the river, as would be necessary to make such a scheme effective, would undoubtedly involve a tremendous cost. Furthermore, as indicated above, even a minor fresh in the river could cause considerable mixing of the saline and fresher water whether there were sluices in the weir or not. I think it is unlikely that such a scheme could prove feasible, but I will arrange for it to bc referred to the consultants appointed by the River Murray Commission to look into this whole problem.
(Question No. 906)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
Wilh reference to the Minister’s recent endorsement of a ‘fight fire with fire’ policy, will he elaborate further his concept of such a policy?
– The Minister for National Development has provided the following answer ‘ to the honourable senator’s question:
If it were possible to abolish bushfires, the bush would change in character as would the fauna for which it provides the environment. Eucalypt forest might bc expected to give way to closed thicket or rain forest, depending on the local climate, which both the existing native fauna and the human population might: find much less to their liking. However, bushfires cannot be abolished. Action must therefore be taken to avoid enormous and disastrous conflagrations and the only factor affecting the size, speed of travel and intensity of the bushfires which it is within human power to change is the fuel on the forest floor. If this is not done fuel will continue to build up until, sooner or later, there is almost certain to be a disastrous fire. This is why I advocate controlled burning! as the only practicable means of fuel reduction.
(Question No. 980)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice:
Will the Treasurer give sympathetic consideration to granting income tax rebates to those sporting and/or cultural associations which operate in remote areas of Queensland, and thus promote recreational facilities for people in those areas?
– The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
It is the practice of the Government to consider the many requests it receives for new and increased taxation concessions during the preparation of its annual Budget, when the scope for concessions can be properly assessed. Accordingly, the proposal referred to by the honourable senator will be listed for consideration during the preparation of the 1969-70 Budget.
(Question No. 981)
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer! upon notice:
Will the Treasurer give favourable consideration, at the appropriate time, to reviewing zone income tax allowances for workers who work in zone allowance areas in Queensland?
– The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
It is the practice of the Government to consider the many requests it receives each year for new and increased taxation concessions during the preparation of the annual Budget when the scope for concessions can be properly assessed. Accordingly, the proposal referred to by the honourable senator will be listed for consideration during the preparation of the 1969-70 Budget.
(Question No. 1033)
asked the Minis ter representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following information in answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 1038)
asked the Minis ter for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Mr Hoffmann added that Mr King had ‘copies of all documents relating to my case, given to him, as a public servant and a representative of the Public Service Union, in the strictest confidence to be used only in helping my case’.
(Question No. 1050)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
Is there in existence an agreement between the Commonwealth and the States which allows ships operating in conjunction with the off-shore oil industry, in the adjacent areas of the States and Territories,to be granted exemption from the provisions of the Commonwealth Navigation Act and/or regulations? If so, where can a copy of the agreement be procured or viewed by senators?
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
There is no such agreement in existence.
(Question No. 1057)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
– The Minister for Trade and Industry has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question: 1, 2 and 3. I have not seen the Press report referred to in the question. The Secretary, Department of Trade and Industry, has informed me that on 23rd December 1968 an administrative circular was distributed within the Department advising officers that as a result of faults in the telephone equipment in the Administrative Building some conversations between officers were being overheard by others. Officers were advised therefore to exercise care in the use of telephones. There was no suggestion that departmental telephones were being tapped. Post Office technicians have since discovered and corrected certain faults in the switchboard equipment.
(Question No. 1059)
asked the Minis ter for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
(Question No. 1061)
asked the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
Investigation at Campsie - One officer of Investigation Section and two officers of Prevention and Detection Section.
Inquiries of T.A.A., Kingsford-Smith Airport - One officer of Investigation Section one officer of Prevention and Detection Section.
Inquiries of F. H. Stephens Pty Ltd. KingsfordSmith Airport - One officer of Investigation Section and one officer of Prevention and Detection Section.
(Question No. 1066)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Air upon notice:
– The Minister for Air has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 1075)
asked the Mini ster for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
The substantialovertime worked during the months of February and March was necessary to overcome a backlog of work.
(Question No. 1086)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
– The Minister for External Affairs has provided the following reply to the honourable senator’s question:
The Department does not have a Diplomatic Radio Service and as necessary it makes use of the facilities provided by the Overseas Telecommunications Commission. It does, however, have positions in a Communications Section which are filled in accordance with normal Public Service procedures.
(Question No. 1095)
asked the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
– On 25th February in response to a question concerning the Joint Defence Space Research Facility at Pine Gap asked by Senator McClelland I undertook to obtain further information from the Minister for Defence. The Minister has provided the following information: 1 refer the honourable senator to my reply on 26th February 1969 to a question without notice by Dr J. F. Cairns in which I. reiterated that the station is a space research facility operated jointly by the United States of America and Australia. 1 draw his attention also to Article 3 of the Government to Government Agreement for the project (Treaty Series, 1966, No. 17) which states that the facility shall be established, maintained and operated by the co-operating agencies of the two governments.
My reply also indicated that if the Government were to disclose any more than that the station is to carry out space research, this could be of assistance to this country’s potential enemies. For that reason the project is covered by security, and no further information will be given.
– On 27th February 1.969 Senator Fitzgerald asked me a question without notice concerning the Tariff Board inquiry into chemical costs. In particular, he asked when it could be expected that the inquiry would be finalised and a report made to the Parliament. The Minister for Trade and Industry has provided the following reply:
The question of whether protection should be afforded the production in Australia of certain industrial chemicals and synthetic resins, which at present are accorded assistance in excess of 40% ad valorem general rate and/or by means of special duties related to support values, was referred to the Tariff Board on 31st December 1968. The Tariff Board has not yet published a schedule of the dates on which public hearings on this reference are to be held. I have, however, arranged for the honourable senator to be given details of the hearing dates when they have been determined by the Tariff Board. lt is not possible, at this stage, to indicate when the Board’s report is likely to be finalised and presented to Parliament. However, it is unlikely in view of the Tariff Board’s present programme that the report will be completed within 12 months.
– On 25th February. Senator Ormonde asked be the following question without notice: ls it true that diplomatic immunity is enjoyed by diplomats and their car drivers who ignore and offend against traffic rules? If this is so, will the Leader of the Government ask the Prime Minister to consider withdrawing this immunity?
I said that having regard to the circumstances, the honourable senator’s question rated a considered reply from the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister referred the matter to the Minister for External Affairs who has provided the following answer: lt has been a long-established custom under international law for the receiving country to grant immunity from the civil and criminal jurisdiction of its courts to the diplomatic representatives of a foreign state. These practices of international law were clarified by the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961, which was enacted into Australian law by the Diplomatic Privileges and Immunities Act 1967. Articles 31 to 40 of the Convention deal with the question of immunity. However, Article 41 states that it is the duty of diplomatic personnel to respect the laws and regulations of the receiving state. Cases of traffic breaches, like the infringement of any laws by diplomatic and other members of the staffs of foreign Missions, are brought to the attention of the Mission concerned, with a view to preventing a recurrence of the infringement. Should the matter be sufficiently serious, consideration would be given to asking the Mission concerned to have the officer transferred from Australia, lt is considered that these procedures are an adequate form of control.
The Government does not propose any alteration of the Diplomatic Privileges and Immunities Act to restrict the degree of immunity at present accorded to members of Diplomatic Missions in
Australia. The Vienna Convention has gained widespread acceptance throughout the world as providing a balanced and proper standard to bc applied, and it would not be to Australia’s overall advantage to depart from the terms of the Convention.
– I present the seventh report of the Printing Committee.
Report - by leave - adopted.
– by leave - I wish to inform the Senate that the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Freeth) left Australia last Sunday to attend the twenty-fifth annual session of the Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East in Singapore. Mr Freeth will also pay short visits to Kuala Lumpur and Djakarta, to establish personal contact with Malaysian and Indonesian Ministers and to discuss with them various matters of mutual interest and concern. He plans to be in Kuala Lumpur from 19th to 22nd April and in Djakarta from 24th to 27th April. During his absence the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) will act as Minister for External Affairs.
– by leave - The statement I am about to make was made by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) in another place. The personal pronoun T, therefore, relates to him.
In the course of my statement to this House on 25th February I said: . . we shall continue our efforts to help with the training of local Malaysians and Singaporean forces which we expect will be increased in size and capacity, and to provide financial assistance for defence aid aimed at assisting Malaysia and Singapore to build up their own defence capacity.
We have been actively pursuing these purposes. 1 am now happy to say that following discussions with the Malaysian Government we will make a gift to Malaysia of ten of our Sabre aircraft together with spares, ground support equipment and a simulator for training purposes. When the Sabres are delivered they will bc in Al condition with an operational life before them of at least 6 years. To train Malaysian pilots and ground staff to fly and maintain the Sabres we will send to Butterworth nearly ninety Royal Australian Air Force instructors and personnel. The aircraft with their spares and so on will be by way of addition to our current defence aid programme. The costs involved in operating the aircraft will naturally be borne by the Malaysian Government and the other costs involved will be met from the present uncommitted portion of our defence aid programme for Malaysia. As pilots and ground staff are trained the Royal Malaysian Air Force will be able to convert the squadron of Sabres from a training to an operational fighter unit.
We believe that this contribution on our part will be of help to the Malaysian Government in that it will provide an essential transitional step towards the eventual acquisition of supersonic aircraft which we understand the Malaysian Government has as its long term aim. Further, it will enable this, step to bc taken without the necessity for the Malaysian Government to divert very considerable resources away from the programme of social and economic development which it rightly regards as essential to the stability of the region.
Malaysia is also seeking our help in training operators and technicians for the radars it is acquiring - themselves- costly enough - and in basic training for its pilots. These requests are under study, and I merely say at this stage that we will do what we can to help.
We have also bad certain discussions with the Singapore Government about directions in which we might aid Singapore defence plans. I mention here only one particular aspect. It is that we have notified our willingness to help the Singapore Government with the training of certain operators and technicians required for the Bloodhound defensive missiles which the Singapore Government is proposing to acquire from the United Kingdom Government. These actions on our part should be seen in the context of our continuing association with our four partners in the five power arrangement - New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, and the United Kingdom - and also of our and their common concern with the security of the South East Asia region. As I made clear in my statement to the
House on 25th February 19.69, our activities are in no way directed against the interests of any other country in the region but are intended to strengthen the stability of the. whole; this we believe is well understood and accepted. What we are doing is in fact one more contribution to- our long standing, defence aid programme, the purpose of which is to strengthen the defence capacity of Malaysia and Singapore within the framework of a broad concept of regional security, and regional co-operation. .
– I move:
That the Senate take note of the statement.
I ask for leave to make my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
– by leave - The statement 1 am about to make was made by the Prims Minister (Mr Gorton) in theother place. The personal pronoun T, therefore, relates to him.
As honourable members are aware, news of the death of the late President Eisenhower on 28th March reached Canberra on Saturday, 29th March, a few hours before 1 was to have left, on a visit to Washington for discussions with the President of the United States of America.’ Necessarily, these discussions were postponed but I continued with my journey to represent Australia at the funeral ceremonies for the late President and to make the official visit to Canada which had been arranged in response to the invitation of the Prime Minister of Canada.
However, on 1st April, when I was received by President Nixon, we were able to reschedule our postponed discussions for 6th and 7th May. This call provided the opportunity for us to review the topics which we are later to discuss arid the President has arranged for further preparatory work relating to a number of topics to be undertaken in Washington prior to my return.
Subsequently I had separate and preliminary discussions with the Secretary of State, the Honourable William P. Rogers, the Secretary of Defence, the Honourable
Melvin R. Laird, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Honourable David M. Kennedy, and President Nixon’s special adviser, Dr Henry A. Kissinger on matters of mutual interest in defence and foreign affairs including the conflict in Vietnam and future stability and progress in the region of which we are a part.
Even in this introductory stage of our discussions I found a continuance of the deep interest and the warmth of friendship that characterises the Australian-American relationship and I look forward to resuming the talks with the President of the United States and his Administration on my return to Washington in 3 weeks time. Since the discussions so far held are of a preliminary character and since they are not yet concluded, I think the House will agree that it would be more appropriate for a full statement to be made after my return from the concluding talks.
There was, however, value in the opportunity to open up discussions on matters which will be the subject of further studyin the United States before our second series of talks is held.
On the afternoon of 2nd April 1 flew to Ottawa and was welcomed to Canada at a dinner given by the Prime Minister of Canada, the Right Honourable Pierre Trudeau. On the following day I had a series of discussions with the Prime Minister and attended a meeting of the Canadian Cabinet. 1 also had separate discussions with the Minister of Industry and the Minister of Trade and Commerce, the Honourable Jean-Luc Pepin, the Minister of Finance and Receiver General of Canada, the Honourable Edgar J. Benson, and the Secretary of State for External Affairs, the Honourable Mitchell Sharpe.
The Canadian Cabinet also expressed their interest in the various forms which their own participation in the region could take. We emphasised our joint and mutual interest in making the International Grains Agreement work and we had already arranged discussions about these matters between experts, which were taking place on that very day in Washington DC. The Minister of Finance discussed with - me Canadian experience with overseas investment in Canada. - -
The principal purpose of my visit was to foster closer relations between our two countries. In addition to Mr Pepin’s presence here this month I hope that a visit to Australia by Mr Trudeau will not be long delayed and both our Governments were delighted that a representative party from the Australian Parliament will be visiting Canada in June.
– by leave - I wish to make a statement on behalf of the Treasurer (Mr McMahon). The statement was delivered earlier in another place. The personal pronoun T, therefore, relates to him. It reads: 1 wish to inform the Senate of certain action which the Government has taken in regard to Australia’s participation in the second exercise to replenish the resources of the International Development Association, or IDA as it is commonly called. Honourable senators will recall that in June of last year Parliament approved legislation authorising Australia to contribute a further sum to IDA not exceeding the equivalent of $US24m payable over 3 years. The first instalment of $US8m, which was originally expected to be paid in November 1968, and for which suitable provision was made in the 1968-69 Budget, has not yet been paid. The reason for this is that, as I mentioned when introducing the relevant legislation in this House last year, the agreement covering the second replenishment exercise is subject to the condition that it will not enter into effect unless and until at least twelve countries with contributions totalling not less than $US950m have notified the management of IDA that they have taken all the necessary legislative steps to authorise payment of their respective contributions.
For a variety of reasons, the United States has not yet been able to do this, and as that country is expected to contribute $US480m of the agreed total of $US1 ,200m for this replenishment exercise, the agreement cannot become effective until it does. Rapid depletion of the resources available to IDA in the absence of the second replenishment exercise coming into effect threatened to bring its operations to an end. Accordingly, towards the end of last year the President of IDA, Mr McNamara, requested all of the Part I or donor member countries, including Australia, to make voluntary contributions to IDA in advance of the second replenishment formally entering into effect. Several member countries - The United Kingdom. Canada, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland - have already complied with this request.
As has been previously stated in the Senate, there are good reasons why Australia should do all it can to see that IDA’s resources arc replenished at the earliest possible date. We in Australia have always held IDA in very high regard as an efficient and effective aid institution with long experience in helping the poorer countries cope with the complex problems of economic growth and development. In the past, more than two-thirds of total IDA lending has gone to countries of interest to Australia in the Asian region. India and Pakistan, for example, have both received substantial assistance from IDA in recent years. Development credits for two projects have recently been extended to Indonesia and, as soon as its resources are replenished, IDA should be in a position to provide more substantial assistance to help that country to rehabilitate and develop its economy.
Moreover, the World Bank has accepted that Papua and New Guinea is an ‘IDA type country’ eligible to borrow on soft terms from the Association. Indeed, a small development credit of $US1.3m for an agricultural project in the Territory was approved earlier this year. We would hope that more assistance of this type will be forthcoming for the Territory after IDA’s resources are augmented.
With all these considerations in mind, the Government decided that Australia should join the other countries I have mentioned in making a voluntary contribution to IDA in advance of the second replenishment formally entering into effect, thereby reaffirming our support, for IDA and confirming that when we said that Australia would contribute an additional $US24m to IDA, we meant it; that we did not regard the difficulties other countries for the time being might be facing in obtaining legislative approval for their contributions as a reason for our not going ahead to do our part in helping maintain IDA in existence to assist poorer countries.
Accordingly, the Treasurer has notified Mr McNamara that Australia is prepared to make a voluntary contribution to IDA equal to the full amount of its commitment under the second replenishment exercise, payable over 3 years as originally agreed and subject to the explicit understanding that this voluntary contribution would be deemed to discharge Australia’s obligations under the second replenishment agreement if and when it becomes effective. Steps are in fact now being taken in Washington to give effect to our offer and the executive directors of IDA are expected to adopt an appropriate resolution on this matter in the near future.
The International Development Association (Additional Contribution) Act 1968 which was passed last year is deemed to provide sufficient legislative authority for Australia to make such a voluntary contribution to IDA without further recourse to Parliament, but the Government thought it only right and proper to inform Parliament of its decision and give some account of the considerations which lay behind it.
In view of the widespread interest which I know many of my colleagues have in the subject of economic assistance to developing countries, T am pleased to state further that the House of Representatives in the United States has recently passed an Act authorising participation by that country in the second replenishment exercise on the same terms and conditions as originally proposed. The United States Senate is expected to consider this matter shortly after Easter. It therefore seems that the Agreement to replenish IDA’s resources a second time will be made effective without much more delay.
– by leave - I move:
That the Senate lake note of Hie statement, lt is disturbing to me to see that statements of this important nature are made to the Senate and then to observe that so much business is already on the notice paper - and no doubt other important business will come forward - that it seems hardly likely that statements such as this will be given due consideration. The Minister for Supply (Senator Anderson) mentioned that the matter would be considered by the United States Senate, i should think that our Senate would have to give the most serious consideration to establishing some appropriate vehicle for dealing with the multitude of important matters which come before it. 1 should think that we would have to give urgent consideration to having standing committees of such a nature thai statements of this kind could be referred to a committee and quickly looked at in efficient manner, ft seems obvious to me that wilh the best will in the world, and even with the utmost co-operation, because of the way the Parliament works - I do not suggest that the situation in the Senate is any worse, it probably is better - we will not get around to considering these statements and so we are not serving the interests of the nation properly, lt is for that reason that I have spoken. I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Motion (by Senator Murphy) agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Senator Murphy moving a motion relating to the order of General Business after 8 p.m.
– f move:
That notice of motion No. 1, General Business, be postponed until after the consideration of notice of motion No. 2.
The effect of the motion, if carried, is that of the two proposals dealing with the setting up of committees, the second motion relating to the establishment of a standing committee on overseas control of Australian resources, commerce and industry, would come on for debate rather than the motion relating to housing.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Wine Grapes Charges Bill 1969.
Loan (Supplementary Borrowing) Bill 1969.
Currency Bill 19.69.
Excise Tariff Bill 1969.
Spirits Bill 1969.
Universities (Financial Assistance) Bill 1969.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Scott) read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to extend the payment of a Commonwealth bounty on raw cotton production in Australia for a further 3-year period commencing with the 1969 cotton crop. The bounty is to be phased out during this period with annual financial ceilings of $4m for the 1969 crop, $3m in 1970 and S2m in 1971. The bounty will then cease.
The present bounty scheme, which operated from 1964 to 1968 inclusive, was amended in 1968 to change the basis of eligibility for bounty from a point of sale for domestic use to one of production. This was done because in 1968 local cotton production for the first time exceeded spinners’ requirements in the short and medium stapled cottons. As a result an equitable distribution of bounty payments based on sales was no longer feasible. The proportions exported and sold domestically differ from area to area.
The present Bill proposes to continue the payment of bounty on the basis of production. lt also maintains the requirement that cotton, to attract bounty, must be above certain specified minimum quality standards and continues the system of premiums and discounts for differing cotton grades to encourage the production of quality cotton.
As a basis for considering the future of assistance to the cotton industry, the Government commissioned the Bureau of Agricultural Economics to conduct an economic survey of the industry. This survey covered the years 1964-65 to 1966-67. It can be seen from the survey that the objectives of Government policy on cotton have been substantially achieved. An ind,.Ist n capable of meeting most of Australia’s requirements of raw cotton has been established. Over 5 years annual production has risen from only 12,000 bales in 1964 to 150,000 bales achieved in 1968.
Although the 1968 production exceeded, for the first time, local spinners’ requirements of approximately 115,000 bates, there is still a need to import the long stapled combing cottons which have not yet been grown in any quantity in Australia. The imports represent about 15% of spinners’ needs. Experiments are continuing, however, towards the development of production of these longer stapled cottons in Australia.
The growing industry has undergone some dramatic changes in the last 5 years. From being essentially a rain grown crop in Queensland, cotton growing has become a highly mechanised industry, predominantly in concentrated areas under irrigation in three States.
The objective of the Government in what could be described as the first phase of new bounty arrangements was to encourage the development of a self contained and economic industry by providing assistance al such levels and for such time as it considered necessary to induce the high level of capital investment required in farms, specialised machinery and ginneries. The second phase of assistance covering the period 1969-71 is designed to consolidate the development that has been achieved. A high level of capital1 investment continues to be required for the establishment of new ginneries and, with increasing production, the provision of more adequate storage facilities.
With the additional assistance to be provided the industry will be in a more favourable position to achieve its goal of becoming an economically viable industry able to produce Australia’s, spinning cotton needs without Government assistance.
Production in 1969, harvesting of which will1 commence in Queensland in late March and early April in New South Wales, is expected to be between 160,000 and 170,000 bales. Had the bounty remained on the basis of domestic sales this expected production would have brought about intense competition for the local market.
It is inevitable that a cotton industry geared to meet local spinners’ requirements will produce certain grades and staples that are not readily absorbed by the local spinners and therefore must be exported. In an effort to ensure that no particular region is disadvantaged by having to sell a disproportionate amount on export markets the industry is currently endeavouring to reach agreement on an orderly marketing plan acceptable to both growers and local spinners.
The high degree of co-operation that has marked relations between growers and spinners over the previous 5 years of bounty arrangements should ensure the establishment of a successful marketing pattern in the near future. I commend the Bill to honourable senators.
Debate (on motion by Senator O’Byrne) adjourned.
Consideration resumed from 27 March (vide page 744).
Clause 5 (Amendments having effect from 1st January 1969).
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 6 and 7 agreed to.
Schedules agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported without requests; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Senator Scott) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 26 March (vide page 654), on motion by Senator Anderson: That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Whilst the Opposition is not opposing this Bill I want io take the opportunity to make a number of observations on it. One can say that at least it represents a better proposition than was given to Queensland some years ago when the then Premier travelled overseas for the purpose, as he said before his departure, of negotiating a new international sugar agreement. On his return he said that the problems of the sugar industry had been resolved. He suggested to the farmers and the millers that they store their sugar. The impracticability of that suggestion was readily brought home to all concerned in the sugar industry because at that time the storage capacity was less than sufficient to cover one-half of the expected crop.
To Queensland, particularly the Maryborough-Childers area and the area north of Rockhampton, the sugar industry is most important. The economy in those parts of the State is built around the industry. 1 want to quote some figures which I think it is appropriate to place on record. They relate to the sugar crop for last year and to the composition of Australian exports for 1967-68. They are contained in the official report of the Queensland Cane Growers Association. These figures’ are not readily available to the average member of the community and probably are not readily available to members of this chamber unless they take the trouble to carry out the necessary research to Obtain them. Cane harvested for milling in Queensland in 1968 totalled 17,414,710 tons. This exceeded by 1,696,413 tons or 10.79% the previous record, that of the 1967 season. Honourable senators no doubt are aware that, as a result of an inquiry in the industry, over the past few-years additional tonnages were made available. In other words, additional assignments were made available to certain existing growers and to a fairly large number of new growers. The crop yielded a record 2,604,491 tons of sugar, which was an increase of 390,681 tons or 17.65% on the 1967 crop. In Queensland 546,260 acres were harvested for milling. This was 2.11% or 11,262 acres more than the previous record area of 534,998 acres in 1966. lt’ represented a rotation of 73.03% oil the gross assigned area of 748,009 acres. So the area covered by sugar cane which is harvested for production is still many acres below the assigned area.
In terms of composition of Australian exports, sugar comes fourth or fifth, proving that it .is fairly important in the national context and certainly very important to Queensland, particularly the northern area.
In 1967-6S wool exports were valued at S783.242m. They represented 25.7% of Australia’s exports. Wheat and flour came next with exports valued at 54 19.890m, representing 13.8% of our exports. Dairy products came below sugar and sugar preparations. Whereas exports of sugar and sugar preparations were valued at $ 104.972m or 3.4% of our total exports, dairy products were valued at $92.944m or 3.1% of our total exports. The only other big export was meats which were valued at S3 19.290m, representing 10.5% of the composition of Australian exports. I have been mentioning only primary industries. Exports of fruits showed a very small increase of 2% over sugar. I think those figures illustrate fairly accurately the value of the sugar industry to my State, in particular, and to the national economy generally.’
In his second reading speech the Minister said that over forty countries are engaged in the export of sugar, lt is significant that there was a great reluctance in previous years oil the part of many countries to enter into any kind of international sugar agreement. That i’ evident from the negotiations which took place last year. Though the date for the signing of the Agreement was extended to 24th December 1968, until a week or two before the end of the last session the Minister was unable to give me the names of those countries which had signed. However, the Premier of Queensland, rather dilatorily, announced just after Christmas that sufficient countries had signed the Agreement. It is significant that the United Stales of America and the countries which comprise the European Economic Community have so far failed to sign it. I wish to quote a statement which was made by Dr Mansholt, who was in Australia recently, but first I will refer to the Minister’s second reading speech. The Minister said:
There are some difficulties yet to be overcome. Regrettably the European Economic Community and its member States, which as a unit could be significant exporters in the future, have yet to accede to the Agreement. Provision has been made for a basic export tonnage for the EEC totalling 300,000 tons. On the basis of recent performance this is reasonable and it is hoped that the Community will shortly join or at least observe the disciplines, accepted by all other exporters.
The Minister’s speech was an extremely enthusiastic one. I think he was carried away with his own enthusiasm. Dr
Mansholt, who is the Dutch VicePresident of the Council of the European Economic Community, made a statement in Bundaberg on the subject on 8th April of this year. He said that the EEC might sign the Agreement in 2 or 3 years time. He pointed out that the Common Market countries had a surplus of 1.2 million tons, or 20% of their total crop. The Minister has said that the Common Market’s basic export tonnage should be in the vicinity of 300,000 tons. Dr Mansholt, speaking on behalf of the EEC, said that it required 600,000 tons, or double the figure quoted by the Minister. I do not know whom we are to believe, but I should imagine that Dr Mansholt, who was speaking on behalf of the EEC, would be an authoritative person. I hope the Minister is not pulling the wool over our eyes when he refers to a quantity which is in fact only one-half of what the EEC says it will want if it enters into the Agreement. This is just not good enough. I hope that the Minister will, when he is winding up the debate, give some explanation of the great disparity in the figures i have quoted.
Foreign exchange is another important factor which should be taken into consideration. The figures I quoted a short time ago indicate that the gain to Australia in foreign exchange as a result of the export of sugar is in excess of $100m. When addressing the Queensland Cane Growers Conference the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr John McEwen, said:
It is useful to recall that the sugar industry stretches over 1,300 miles of Australia’s north-east coastline and that the industry is the major source of income and employment in northern Australia.
Much of Australia’s northern development and prosperity depends on the prosperity of the sugar industry which sustains, in one way or another, more than half the population north of the Tropic of Capricorn, counted right across from the Pacific to the Indian oceans.
Basically, that is correct, but I do not think that there is much use making pretty speeches if the Agreement is to fall down somewhere along the line. I refer to the reluctance of some countries to sign it. We have had a shaky sort of an agreement with Japan up until now. There has always been great secrecy about how much is paid by Japan for sugar. I have made reference to this on previous occasions when the Senate has been discussing Bills concerning the sugar industry, but I never seem to get a proper explanation. The Minister said in his second reading speech:
During the 1960s, and following the negotiation of our Trade Treaty with that country, the Japanese market has been opened up for Australian sugar. In 1967-68 the industry sold over 540,000 long tons to Japan compared with sporadic shipments of around 50,000 tons a year before the Trade Treaty was signed.
The first International Sugar Agreement was negotiated in 1937. The Agreement was subsequently renewed in 1953 and 1958. It is again being renewed. I would like to hear the Minister say what price we have obtained for the sugar we have sold to Japan over the years. I would also like to know whether any dumping is occurring and whether there is any mutual arrangement between Japan and Australia in relation to the international sugar market. I feel that those points should be answered by the Minister. I sincerely hope that the marginal matters that I have referred to will be taken into consideration by the Government and that any loopholes in the Agreement will be closed. It docs not seem as though the United States intends to sign the Agreement. The Minister may have inside information on whether the United States intends ultimately to be a participant in the Agreement. If this is so the Minister may give consideration as to whether the Senate should be informed. The matters I have raised are important issues. In the interests of the Australians in the industry I hope that the Agreement works out. I hope that the Agreeement places the industry on a more stable footing, although I have my misgivings about this. I also hope that the Agreement stands up to the pressure that any country, including Australia, puts on it.
– I support this Bill, which seeks tha approval of the Parliament for the ratification by Australia of the International Sugar Agreement 1968. The Bill is a short one in that it contains only four clauses. The Agreement is to be for a 5-year period, but it is subject to a review of prices after 3 years. Australia signed the Agreement In December 1968 and notified its intention to apply it provisionally from 1st January 1 969 pending ratification. This is the fourth International Sugar Agreement in which importing as well as exporting countries have participated. The first one was signed In 1937, the second in 1953 and the third in 1958. The economic provisions of the 1958 Agreement were suspended in 1961 when the trouble with Cuba started. So, for several years there has been no arrangements on matters such as export quotas, import undertakings or price objectives in respect of the world, sugar market. The European Economic Community is the only major importer which has so far not signed the Agreement. It is hoped that that organisation of states will sign the Agreement in the not too distant future.
The Agreement means much to Australia and particularly to the State of Queensland. As a result of the expansion of farms and of milling capacities in the early 1960s Australia moved from its position of fifth largest sugar exporter to the position of second largest. Australia was second only to Cuba. Australia’s sugar production increased from 1,380,000 long tons in 1961 to 2,330,000 long tons in 1966-67. With favourable conditions in nearly every cane growing area in 1968, Australia had a record production of 2,725,000 long tons, which was almost double the 1961 production.
Annex A to the Agreement refers to the undertakings which have been obtained by negotiation with developed importing members in accordance with Article 51. Japan is one country that is mentioned. Japan aims to import each year not less than 1,500,000 tons and, in addition, a quantity of sugar equivalent to 35% of the future growth in its domestic consumption over and above 2,100,000 tons. Several other countries are mentioned. They have undertaken that they will not increase their beet sugar production and will keep on importing sugar.
The International Sugar Agreement does not cover what are known as special arrangements. These special arrangements include our own Commonwealth Sugar Agreement and the British Commonwealth Sugar Agreement. They also include such things as the long term bilateral arrangements between Cuba and other Socialist countries, which involve something like half the world’s sugar trade. The balance of the sugar traded internationally, about 8.5 million tons, is sold on the so-called free market. The major free markets are Japan, Canada. Morocco, Malaysia, Singapore, Switzerland, New Zealand. Norway and
Sweden. It is this free market sugar that the International Sugar Agreement is concerned with.
The Agreement is a quota type agreement which aims to regulate supplies of sugar to the world free market, better termed the world residual market for sugar. The regulation of supply is aimed at achieving a price response. It follows that there are no fixed minimum and maximum prices as, for example, under the International Grains Arrangement, but rather there is a series of price objectives which it is hoped will be achieved through the regulation of supplies of sugar to the world residual market. It is hoped in time that this Agreement will function around a pivot price of 4c per lb which is about £Stg4l per long ton. I checked today in the Press on the London price of sugar and it is quoted as being £Stg37 5s. A price of £Stg41 per ton would be double’ the average price that has prevailed for the calendar years 1965-68 inclusive. This is the first time that developed importing countries have undertaken access commitments to ensure that exporters have a continued or growing access to their markets for the duration of the Agreement. This is a most important development. The Agreement, which has many clauses, prohibits member importing countries from importing sugar from non-member exporters when the price is below 3.25c per lb - about £Stg34 a ton. Also, when the price is above this level, importing member countries agree to import a total no greater than the average quantities imported over the 3 years 1966-68.
Another point is that the Australian industry has benefited in the past’ and no doubt will benefit again in the future because of shortfalls in sugar that is contracted to go to various markets other than the free markets where the other countries have not been able to supply their full quota. Australia, through having excess sugar available, has been able to take up these shortfalls and benefit thereby. Australia will be obliged under this Agreement to hold as uncommitted stocks for International Sugar Agreement purposes minimum stocks equal to 15% of our’ basic export tonnage, which is equal to about 150,000 long tons. These stocks, together with those held by other member countries, will be released when the world price rises in order to dampen the degree of the price rise. The Australian sugar industry has to make some sacrifice in order to hold these stocks. We will have to meet the cost of storage. We have not been able to ascertain what this is likely to be. However, if we have to hold 150,000 long tons of sugar for any length of time the growers will want to be paid for it. There is interest to be paid on the money that the growers have been paid and no doubt it will cost’ the industry something to carry out this undertaking. I would like to quote from a report by Mr McAvoy and Mr Bruce Henderson, the General Secretary of the Queensland Cane Growers Association, which was presented at the annual conference of the’ Association. They said:
The event of greatest .significance for the Australian sugar industry in 1968 was undoubtedly the negotiation of a new International Sugar Agreement The Agreement, which entered, into force provisionally on 1st January 1969, contains a much more’ sensitive mechanism for regulation of price, through quotas and stocks, than its predecessor. It should be stronger also because of the greater number of member countries which took part in the negotiations, leaving less uncommitted sugar free to damage the world sugar market. Wc believe that results which can be achieved from a strong and effective agreement will be substantial and a major influence in bringing security and stability to our industry.
The Queensland Cane Growers Association represents all the cane growers in Queensland. The annual report of the Australian Sugar Producers Association also contained very favourable comments on the Agreement. The report concluded by stating:
The stability which is expected to result from the International Sugar Agreement will assist the industry to overcome financial hardships experienced in recent years, to repay borrowed money and to effect the replacement of farm machinery that has been deferred through lack of finance.
I would like to mention that the annual reports from both sugar associations pay high tribute to the leadership of the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) at last year’s negotiations in Geneva. High praise was also given to the leadership, at official level, of Mr D. H. McKay, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry. Both sugar Associations had advisers in the Australian negotiating team and one of those advisers told me that the Minister for Trade and
Industry was brilliant as a negotiator and technician particularly in the closing stages of the negotiations in October last year.
This Agreement includes a sugar quota for Australia. Although the quota is not as large as we would have liked it was appreciated that we had to make some sacrifices and our negotiators did a very good job. Australia’s quota of 1,100,000 metric tons compares more than favourably with the quotas obtained by some of the other big cane sugar producers. Under the previous 1958 Agreement Australia had a quota of only 650,000 tons, which included our sales of negotiated price sugar to the United Kingdom under the British Commonwealth Sugar Agreement. This quota of 650,000 tons remained operative until 1961 when, mainly because of the trouble with Cuba, quotas could not be negotiated. Under the 1968 Agreement Australia has a basic export tonnage of 1,100,000 metric tons, as I mentioned, which is equal to about 1,082,000 long tons. To obtain our total permitted export tonnage wc must add to this figure 335,000 tons of negotiated price sugar exported to the United Kingdom, which is outside the International Sugar Agreement, and also 170,000 tons approximately which we ship to the United States of America. Therefore we have, under the new Agreement, a total export quota of nearly 1,600,000 tons. In effect we have a total export entitlement of about 1,600,000 tons under this Agreement compared with about 650,000 tons under the old Agreement. By any standards this is quite a negotiating achievement. By comparison, the figure for Cuba under the 1958 Agreement for world export was 2,415,000 tons. Under this new Agreement, excluding sales to Socialist countries and mainland China, Cuba has a basic quota of 2.150,000 tons. Over the last 4 years the Australian sugar industry has suffered severely due to the disastrously low world market price at which over 50% of its total production is sold. In 1966 the world price situation had deteriorated so badly that the industry had to approach the Commonwealth Government for a loan of $19m. This assistance was readily given by our Government, but I should like to stress that the industry did not come to the Government seeking a grant or a handout; it sought and was given a loan which the industry will begin to repay to the Commonwealth in 1970. In the next year - 1967 - there was no improvement in world prices and again the industry was in financial difficulty. With reluctance, the industry sought and was granted an increase in the domestic price for sugar. Notwithstanding this, the industry had again to borrow from the Commonwealth to the extent, of $4m. The industry did not seek to borrow to give itself cost-of-production price; it sought to borrow just sufficient to give the industry a bare survival price.
Under prices such as these, the industry saw that its only salvation was in the negotiation of an effective international sugar agreement and, thanks to the excellent work down by our negotiators, both public servants and industry advisers, under the leadership of the Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr McEwen, we now have an agreement. The industry is looking forward with optimism to the future. When the Geneva conference opened on 23 rd September last year, the world sugar price was £stgl7.10 a ton. On 23rd October when the conference concluded, it had gone up to £stg23 a ton. By 30th December last, it had reached £stg31 and, as I said before, is now around £stg37 or £stg38 a ton.
Sufficient importing and exporting countries joined the agreement to enable it to be brought into force provisionally with effect from 1st January 1969. As at 18th March 1.969, there were 32 countries which were exporting members of the agreement and 8 countries which were importing members of the agreement, lt is hoped that more importing countries will become members during 1969. The most significant importing countries - Japan, the. United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand - are all members. The United States of America is not a member but - and this is important - the United States does import all its sugar under special quota arrangements and does not purchase from the world residual market. lt is interesting also to note - and this probably has not been pointed out before - that Australians participated most actively in the negotiation of the Agreement. They have also taken an active part in the effective administration of the new Agreement. Australia has been elected as one of the eight exporting member countries which comprise the Executive Committee, together with eight importing countries. This is the most important committee of the new Sugar Council. Australia is a member of the important Statistical Committee, and Mr J. C. Campbell, Assistant Manager of the Raw Sugar Marketing Division, Colonial Sugar Refining Co. Ltd, has been elected . chairman of that Committee. Australia’s senior trade councillor in London, Mr P. Donovan, is chairman of the Credentials Committee. Australia is also a member of the Finance Committee, the Sugar Consumption Committee and the committee set up to promote increased membership. Naturally an organisation such as this has to have finance to keep :it going. Australia’s contribution to all these committees and to the International Sugar Organisation is related to its voting entitlement and her contribution is only $21,000 a year. I think that for that $21,000 a year we are getting very good value indeed. The achievement of Ibis Agreement is the result of a wonderful piece of work over a long period and under difficult conditions by our team of negotiators and their advisers, under the leadership of Mr McEwen. Other Ministers have been- over there doing their part. They include Mr Anthony, Minister for Primary Industry, the late Mr Pizzey, the former Premier of Queensland, and J. Bjelke-Peterson, the present premier of Queensland. Many leaders of the sugar industry and other prominent officials also look part in negotiations. This Agreement is a major achievement for >’ big Australian industry. I hope that it will be the means of putting the industry back on the path to prosperity, but it will be a long road back. The mere signing of an agreement does not pay all your accumulated debts - debts which have been built up during the years of adversity. But this agreement has put the industry on a sound basis. . 1 believe that the industry is in a position now to go ahead and prosper and J commend to the Senate the ratification of this agreement which is a great achievement.
Senator MILLINER (Queensland) 15.21] - I suppose honourable senators would be appreciative of the importance of the International Sugar Agreement to the sugar cane grower: of Queensland. 1 am very sorry indeed that Senator Lawrie, who has just resumed his seat, did not give due praise to one of the originators of the
Agreement. Great praise has been conferred upon Mr McEwen this evening. If he has negotiated a favourable agreement then I, too, shall praise him for his work because of the importance of the sugar industry to Queensland. But I would remind honourable senators that it was the late Forgan Smith, a former Premier of Queensland and a former leader of the Australian Labor Party who was one of the pioneers in this field of international sugar agreements.
– How long ago was that?
– It was many years ago. His great work has been carried on by successive Premiers of Queensland who did not have to rely- on a Federal Minister to the substantial extent that reliance apparently has had to be placed upon Mr M.c-Ewen in this day and age. I submit with respect that it was the early leaders of the Australian Labor Party who played a most prominent part in obtaining a sugar agreement for Australia. That is understandable because sugar growing is a most important industry to Queensland.
In the Minister’s second reading speech he said that the new assignments granted in the mid-1960s were granted as the result of a recommendation from the industry. One has only to talk to any sugar grower in Queensland to be told that the industry warned the Government that it should not hasten to give new assignments.
– The Queensland Pact.
– 1 thank Senator Cormack. But, in its wisdom - it proved to be fatal to the industry - the Government carried on and granted new assignments in Queensland. The price of sugar on the international market fell and the new assignees were in severe financial difficulties. In fact, so desperate was their plight that when the time came for the next planting of cane they were unable to fertilise their ground. Indeed, it is questionable whether they have yet overcome the difficulties with which they were confronted as a result of that tragic mistake which the Government made in granting new assignments notwithstanding that the industry had strongly recommended that the Government should proceed cautiously in allocating new assignments.
Those are but some of the difficulties that have presented themselves to the sugar growers of Queensland.
Like other honourable senators, irrespective of political persuasion, I trust that this International Sugar Agreement will be to the advantage of Australia, and of Queensland in particular. But 1 do not think it will give to the industry the stability that has been suggested in this chamber tonight. To support that assertion, I refer to certain parts of the Agreement. 1 refer first to Article 70 which quite, clearly sets out the duration of the Agreement and that the terms of the Agreement may be reviewed. I appreciate that a document of this nature needs to have some elasticity. But, with due respect, I suggest that the elasticity in Article 70 could destroy the whole basis of the Agreement inside 3 years, or probably earlier if some countries move in terms of Article 71. So it is useless for us to say that this Agreement will provide stability for the industry where it is required, because the Agreement itself provides for instability.
Attention can be drawn to many other articles of the Agreement. For instance, I submit that Article 27 can only be a pious hope. It refers to fair labour standards. In Latin American countries labour standards generally are anything but fair. What will happen to Australia if those countries do not endeavour to improve their living standards? There is no provision as to what the penalty would be should a country not endeavour to carry out the terms of this article. Are the quotas of such countries to be reduced? I submit with respect that the document is silent in that direction.
In Australia we have an entirely different set of circumstances. Most sugar and cane produced in Australia is produced by large estates. Consequently, the main value of an international sugar agreement as to price will go in profits to these large concerns. Very few countries, if any, have the same system as Australia has. Our sugar moneys are divided arbitrarily between miller and growers, and wages are fixed by arbitration. I have no quarrel whatsoever with that. But I submit with respect that there will be plenty of difficulties for small sugar growers if the Australian arbitration system determines that the wages of their workers should be increased. What I am pointing out is the unfairness that can operate in Australia if wages and social conditions here are to improve but conditions in Latin American countries do not improve. I submit that that is another aspect that has not been taken into consideration.
I suggest that the Agreement can at best provide a price that can only be hoped for. J do not think we should be carried away with the idea that this Agreement will bring absolute stability to the industry. If we agree that the price can only be that which we hope for. how can we. in conscience, say that the Agreement will bring stability to the industry? Whilst at the present time we have the right to export to the United States of America approximately 200,000 short tons which is riot charged against our free market quota, a review of the United States sugar legislation in 1971 could leave us with a lesser or greater tonnage on that market. Should Cuba and the United States patch up their differences, we would suffer a drastic reduction. That proposition is covered by Article 38. lt appears to me that that article is a very loose arrangement. I impress upon honourable senators the fact thai while we have articles such as this one we cannot say thai the Agreement will provide stability for the industry.
Wc should look very closely at Article 52, because on past experience and bearing in mind the influence of weather on crops the Australian Government could provide finance to enable maximum stocks to be held. 1 believe that paragraph (a) is preferable to paragraph (b) in clause (1) of Article 52. Perhaps Senator Scott could explain how Japan, for instance, will measure up lo clause (I) of article 55. Japan’s customs and other duties on imported sugar amount to approximately $120 a ton. So I say that there could be some difficulties in respect of that article.
Notwithstanding anything I have said, 1 wish to make it perfectly clear that we agree that there should be an international sugar agreement: but we believe that we should not be carried away with something which, on the surface, may appear to provide some stability but which, on examination, does not do so. We agree that there should be an international sugar agreement, but we are not as sanguine as members of the Government parties that il will provide the stability for the sugar industry that they believe it 13860769- 5- Hi] will. If we are wrong, we will be very happy to admit it. 1 have pointed out what 1 believe to be deficiencies in the Agreement. At the same time, I emphasise that I sincerely hope that they do not prove to be deficiencies and that the Agreement will be to the advantage of the sugar growers of Australia.
– in reply - 1 thank the Opposition for agreeing with the Bill. There are a few points which have been raised by honourable senators and to which 1 will reply. First of all, 1 advise Senator Keeffe that the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) stated that on the basis of recent performance the provision of 300,000 tons for the European Economic Community was reasonable. The Community has not produced a surplus of more than 200,000 tons in any recent year. Dr Mansholt. in referring to a surplus of 1,200,000 tons, was talking about the quantity of sugar the EEC would have for export in future years if it did not take action to restrain production. A quota of thai order for the EEC under the International Sugar Agreement was judged by the Geneva Sugar Conference as being far in excess of a reasonable level, considering that other exporters’ quotas are based largely on recent performance.
Sugar sold to Japan in recent years has been sold on the basis of contracts negotiated between the Australian sugar industry and Japanese importers. Prices have been based on the prevailing free market price. Average prices have been very depressed in recent years, and this is the reason for negotiating the Agreement. The annual average London price per ton in 1965 was £stg22; in 1966. £slg 1 8: in 1967, £stg19: and in 1968. £st»22.
– Did Japan pay that price, or less?
– Japan paid a price based on the figures I have cited. Senator Milliner raised a query regarding the free market price. The free market price of sugar has more than doubled since the beginning of the last session of the conference. This shows that the Agreement is working effectively. The honourable senator also raised the point that the first mover in support of the sugar industry in Queensland - a very important industry in that State - was Mr Forgan Smith. Senator Lawrie referred to the work done by the Minister for Trade and Industry in negotiating this important Agreement. I am sure all honourable senators will agree with those remarks. I thank honourable senators for the speedy passage of this Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Sitting suspended from 5.38 to 8 p.m. (General Business Taking Precedence of Government Business)
– I move:
We often speak of Australia’s great economic future and of the great natural wealth which will place us high among the economic titans of the world, but this shining vision of the future is dimmed by a rapidly spreading shadow. That shadow is the threat of uncontrolled foreign investment in key areas of our industry and natural resources. More and more our country is becoming an economic colony. Our resources and our industries are passing into foreign hands. We talk of our industries. Who owns the oil industry, the motor vehicle industry, the chemical industry, the pharmaceutical industry and the great extractive industries? Foreign companies own them. The Government is doing nothing to reverse or even to halt this dangerous trend. It is content to let the situation drift and to leave our resources and our industries in foreign hands forever.
Any rational government should have a policy of sensible control of foreign investment. At the moment there is no control at all and the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton), while espousing economic nationalism, admits that the giant foreign corporations, moving to control the economic destiny of the country, will merely be asked to allow Australian equity. Do we want a future in which our children, however talented and however educated, can never rise to the very top positions in our major industries because these positions will always be held by foreigners? At the moment public money is used for national development, but the profits pass substantially to foreign corporations. Absurd royalties are paid to Australia while immense wealth goes overseas. The Government is encouraging more takeovers of Australian industries. No wonder there is no capital available for national development. How can Australians acquire capital if our resources and our industries are in the hands of foreign corporations? If the great profits from our mineral wealth and from our industries go to foreign investors, naturally it is they who acquire capital. We have to turn to them for finance. They provide this by acquiring more of our resources and more of our industries.
The position must get worse and it is getting worse. The Government plainly serves the interests of the great corporations which control this country. Each successive Budget is designed to serve those great corporations and foreign investors. The subservience of the Government to the great corporations is shown by its neglect to bring into effective operation the restrictive trade practice laws. What plans has the Government made to regain substantial Australian control of our resources, including large tracts of land? What plans and programmes are being drawn up to restore Australian equity where it is now subservient to foreign control? No-one in the Government has said how we will get back the control of our wealth which is now being handed over with such alacrity. The Government should find ways of raising our own capital instead of merely conferring control and ownership upon foreign investors.
This is now a crucial question for all Australians. The keys to the treasure chest are being handed over to others. The Government has shown itself incapable of producing definite guidelines which are fair to overseas investors yet will ensure that Australian resources, commerce and industry will remain in Australian hands. As senators, we are guardians of the future. Because of the Government’s default it is necessary for the Senate to establish a committee to protect the country’s future. We must determine what legislative and administrative action is urgently necessary to move against the threat which could well over whelm us.
Many statements have been made about the extent of overseas control. The Vernon Committee of Economic Inquiry studied the matter. We know what the Government did about the Vernon Committee’s report. We know that the Vernon Committee suggested that the extent of overseas investment in Australia and the extent of overseas control of Australian industries needed study, close attention and close consideration. The Committee also suggested that various dangers were inherent in permitting a high rate of overseas investment. Yet the Vernon Committee’s report was ignored. On the Opposition side, many Labor Parliamentarians have spoken and written on the dangers of permitting a high level of overseas ownership. I shall mention some of those parliamentarians, but by no means all of them. They include Mr Peters. Mr Crean and Mr Uren in the House of Representatives. Men such as
Professor Wheelwright have written learnedly on the subject. From what they have said and from what they have written we know that a high level of overseas investment in Australia exists. Their figures reveal that from 90% to 100% of the following industries are overseas owned: petroleum and chemicals, paint, agricultural equipment, motor vehicles and tobacco; between 50% and 80% overseas control exists in the non-ferrous metals industry, the excavating equipment industry, other heavy engineering industries, electric wires and cables industry, communications equipment industry, rubber tyres industry, textiles industry, pharmaceutical industry and so on. I have a large list of such industries. In this chamber on 27th March Senator Cohen received a reply which showed that of 1,801 substantial firms 1,159 were 100% owned overseas, 154 were at least 75% owned overseas and another 200 were at least 50% owned overseas. These companies are subsidiaries of great foreign companies.
The proposal is to set up not a simple select committee but a permanent standing committee which we hope would not require the intensive effort over a limited period of time that is required of Senate select committees. A great deal of the work involved could be done by the staff which is available to the Senate now. We are now in a position to follow the pattern which has been set in the United States’ Senate and to operate in a far more efficient and far more intelligent way through committees where work can be done by staff, where the committee can supervise the work which has been clone and can find out the facts to recommend the measures which ought to be. taken to assist this nation in what is undoubtedly a matter of vital importance to its future. For Australia to maintain her economic strength and independence there must be continual vigilance over her economic development. Economic independence and strength from the basis of political sovereignty. Australia is a developing industrial nation. We need capital for continuing growth and prosperity. The living standards of every Australian can benefit from capital invested in the tremendous resources of this country.
– From wherever it comes?
– Foreign capital can benefit us from wherever it comes. No-one here would suggest that this country does not need capital. The question is the terms on which that capital is received and whether this country needs to abandon the ownership and control of its resources, its industries, its land and its commerce in order to receive capital which is necessary for its development. Other countries have faced up to this problem and solved it successfully to their great benefit. Japan is an example of that. Other countries have not faced up to it and have not solved it. They have found to their great disquiet and great economic concern that they should have faced up to it and are now doing so.
The benefit of the proposal that we are putting up is that a committee of this Senate, comprised of senators of various political persuasions, can look at the matter. As is well known, there is a tendency for intelligent people to agree on many matters, once the facts are elicited. If the facts are elicited we would hope, as has been the experience in other spheres, that there would be a great concordance in the opinion of what is necessary to be done in the interests of the nation. Australia already spends 27% of her gross national product on capital investment. Tn this she is second only to Japan which spends 32%. The United States of America and the United Kingdom spend about 16% or 17%. About 85% of all capital which has been invested in Australia is Australian money; the other 15% has come from overseas. I arn not speaking of annual figures but of the totals to date. In relation to the whole capital expenditure that 15% does not seem to be very much. However, it is invested in key areas, those of the greatest growth potential, innovatory capacity, earning power and importance in future policy planning. Local capital, on the other hand, is dispersed over a vast area of basic and non-basic investment. Most of it is of a relatively limited growth potential. Some of it is of dubious value on a cost benefit judgment. As a result there is a sharp disparity between the earning rates of Australian and foreign capital invested here.
– So the operative word is ‘innovation’? Would the honourable senator mind explaining ‘innovatory’?
– That is something that the honourable senator would be able to explain as well as I can. It is not a term of abuse. I referred to innovatory capacity - innovation. The entrepreneurial capacities are most important. Despite the Government’s obvious efforts to attract overseas capital, there is still a shortage. The Government sees continued and increased foreign investment as the answer to Australia’s need for growth capital. The Australian Labor Party is not completely against foreign investment but is against the abuse of foreign investment. The committee would investigate means of ensuring that foreign investment worked for the benefit of Australia and that abuses did not occur. The attitude of the Australian Labor Party is something that would be considered, as would be the attitude of other parties. On such a committee there would be a melding and a clash of viewpoints, and one would hope that there would be an evolution of something that would be to the benefit of all. We see the emphasis as being one of government investment in areas where we need investment, lt seems an extraordinary attitude that when local capitalists, if one may call them thatinvestors, if that term is preferred - are unwilling or unable to invest in areas in Australia which require investment and which are capable of development the Government does not intervene.
– In the area of innovation?
– In the area of innovation, if the honourable senator likes to call it that. I am referring to the area where development will be to the advantage of Australia. This has been done on an increasing scale in countries such as Italy where, instead of throwing over the natural gas and petroleum development to private interests, largely overseas owned, as we did here in Australia, the Italian Government was able, to the great advantage of the Italian people, to develop their resources of natural gas and petroleum. The great ENI company not only piped the natural gas all over Italy and not only was able to break the fertiliser monopoly through the byproducts industry but also was able to bring employment to the depressed areas of Italy, to employ tens of thousands of people. Then it participated in the development of the natural gas and oil industries of countries in northern Africa and even has come over here to Australia and been the successful tenderer for the contruction of a pipeline to pipe our natural gas. This is one way which may be considered to be of advantage to Australia. if this method is of great benefit to Italy, it may be considered by the committee to be the way for us. This is certainly the kind of approach which the Australian Labor Party would like to be considered, where the Government, semi-government and statutory bodies would play a great part in national development. We envisage also that where our country lacks the capital, perhaps we should invite other countries to participate wilh us on a government to government basis. 1 am surprised, if I may put it that way, that the Government of the United Kingdom, for example, has failed to offer to enter into partnership with Australia in undertaking some of the great development which may be beyond our capacity and where we could use the knowhow and capital which has been invested here- sometimes on a private basis, but sometimes has not been invested here at all. This might well be dealt with on a government to government basis. Sometimes we have seen not only that but also the co-operation of governments with private enterprise. One example is Bell Bay, but there are many other examples, not only in Australia but also in other places, where government participation could take over the gaps and neglect of private enterprise.
The committee could report on the most effective method of employing foreign investment and the feasibility of such governmental and semi-governmental participation. We want to be certain that Australia and Australians benefit from foreign investment. This can be done only by ensuring that Australian resources are developed and not exploited by foreign investors. When I say that I mean that we must understand that foreign investors who come here have a duty and a responsibility to their own shareholders. They have no duty to attend to our welfare. They must look after the profits and dividends for their shareholders. I am not saying that by way of criticism of them. You take them as they are but you must understand that they have a responsibility and they are not to be criticised for it. They have no moral obligation towards us. Let us not fall into the error, as I think the Prime Minister has done, of speaking of what responsible overseas companies would do. They are responsible to their shareholders. They are not responsible to us. We must not criticise them for that. But we have a responsibility also, and that is to see that this investment is regulated, controlled, directed and guided into the areas which are to the benefit of Australia. That is the attitude that other nations take and no less an approach is a fair discharge of our responsibilities to Australia.
There must be clear guidelines and ascertainable figures so that the costs of foreign investment to the future of this country can be determined. The committee could investigate methods of ensuring that the benefits of foreign investment outweigh the costs. This Government does not consider that legislation or strict rules are necessary to safeguard Australia from control or takeover by foreign investment. The Prime Minister has outlined several ways of curbing the excesses of foreign investment. In relation to his earlier statements on restricting foreign investment, these measures are limited and imprecise. They do demonstrate, however, that the Government, which has allowed foreign investment a free hand for 20 years, realises at last that there are definite dangers in uncontrolled and unrestricted foreign investment. Mr Gorton appears to see the main dangers as being takeovers of efficient Australian firms, insufficient Australian equity in overseas companies and insufficient overseas investment in undeveloped areas of the economy. The Prime Minister apparently is not worried about the takeover of an inefficient Australian company but, on his statements, he does not think that the takeover of an efficient Australian industry would be in the interests of Australia.
This may be fair enough, but what is the definition of an efficient company? Who will determine whether a proposed takeover is good or bad? Does the Government intend to protect any board of directors which goes running to it complaining that some foreign firm is about to take it over? There must be guidelines on the efficiency of companies, Australian or otherwise, so that any takeover or any defence of a company by the Government is in the interests of, and can be seen to be in the interests of, Australia. At the Australian Finance Conference on 10th March 1969 the Prime Minister said that the attitude of the Government towards an approach by foreign companies to raise fixed interest capital inside Australia would be influenced by the amount of equity such a company was prepared to offer Australian shareholders. In his speech on 2nd February he said:
We wish and would welcome - but we go no further than that - Australian equity participation be offered Australian shareholders in new companies. If Australians will not, or cannot, lake up the offer, that is no reason why the foreign company cannot go ahead.
What sort of safeguard is that? In what way could that vague standard which is being suggested possibly ensure Australian control or reasonable Australian participation in the control of her own resources?
– Was that a statement made in Parliament?
– No. The Government is frightened to say to these powerful overseas investors that we insist on full and equal participation in the development of this country. The Government has not the initiative to take up the offer itself when private Australian investors think it too risky or too expensive.
– Mr Deputy President, I rise to order. The Leader of the Opposition is quoting from an undisclosed source. By interjection I asked him whether he was quoting from a statement made by the Prime Minister in the Parliament. He did not disclose the area of his quotation. I make the point in my objection that he is quoting from an undisclosed source which must be divulged to the Parliament.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman - The point of order is not upheld.
– In the same way the Government hopes to influence foreign investors to develop poorer areas of the economy. It offers no plan, no guidelines, yet it expects these investors to take a chance that the Australian Government will not take to invest and develop sectors of the economy that are untried and at present offer little return, lt is about time that the Government realised that the motive of these investors is profit, not the welfare of Australia. The Government’s job is to attend to these areas where the welfare of Australia demands that there shall be development, and it is time it took the matter more seriously. The Prime Minister hopes that by 1980 Australia will be, to use his own words, to a greater or lesser degree partners with foreign investors. Well, if we are to stale the condition in which the control of our own resources should be by 1980. we hope that by that lime Australia will be in control of her own resources and able to offer those who want it participation in our development. We will be able to offer partnership and cooperation if they are willing to work with the Government in other areas for the definite benefit of Australia. The Committee will be able to investigate the ways by which Australia can continue to grow and develop her own resources while at the same time ensuring Australian control of her growth and her future.
Foreign control of Australian resources is the most decisive question for our political future. The way in which foreign capital takes over key sections of our economy is one of the greatest dangers we face, lt is more immediate than any possible military threat. It threatens the very fabric of the way of life, our culture, our values, our political freedom itself. Yet the Government sees fit to treat it by way of vague and imprecise ad hoc decisions. We need the Committee to investigate this, to outline what we must do to harness and control it. The Government of the day cannot see the difference between development and exploitation of our resources, lt can see only as far as the next budget or the next election year. It is blind to the danger that this country is in. The Gorton Government is hung up on foreign investment like an addict on drugs. Interestingly enough, this suggestion about drugs - it is a very good one indeed - came from the Deputy Prime Minister of this country who said that it is like an addict taking cocaine. I think his expression was that it is all right to take a bit of it but if you have too much you will become addicted to it. That is the notion he introduced. And is not that the situation in Australia?
One has only to look at the prospectus which is issued by this country year after year, lt is shameful. We have to rush to the United States practically every year to borrow money. Whenever we want a few million dollars for Qantas Airways Ltd or Trans-Australia Airlines this country, like any private operator, has to file a prospectus with the Securities and Exchange Committee giving our history and indicating exactly how we stand with our balance of payments with all countries of the world. A very grim picture is presented. I have a document in front of me which shows Australia’s balance of payments from 1961-62 onwards. It indicates that in 1961-62 our account was minus $2m; in 1962-63 it was minus $469m; in 1963-64 it was minus $53m; in 1964-65 H was minus $777m; and in 1965-66 it was minus $877m. For the first 9 months of the 1966-67 financial year it was minus $493 m. I think I am correct in saying that in the year after that it was over $ 1,000m.
– The Government keeps Australians employed, does it not?
– Senator Greenwood says that the Government keeps Australians employed. I was at the Australian finance conference and I heard the President of the Bank of America say that he was disturbed because the Federal Reserve Bank was determined to correct America’s adverse balance of payments. Do honourable senators know what America was worried about? Do they know why curbs on capital investment are being threatened and applied all over the world? The Americans were disturbed - in fact they were terrified - at their seeming inability to overcome a $3,000m adverse balance of payments. This is a country that has twenty times our population! Why, the figures that I have been quoting show that our problem is ten times as bad as theirs. The Americans said that they were determined to bring their balance of payments into a proper perspective. They said that they were no longer prepared to have this adverse balance and that they would do whatever was necessary to remedy the position. That is why these problems are occurring in America. But here we have the situation where year after year we have an adverse balance and we are being forced to import tremendous amounts of capital in order to correct the position. These tre mendous amounts of capital are acquiring at an accelerating rate the resources of the industries and commerce of this country. The Deputy Prime Minister says that something must be done about this. He talks about selling the farms, becoming addicted to cocaine and so on. And why not? If any man in Australia ought to have a guilty conscience it is the Deputy Prime Minister, who is also Minister for Trade and Industry. One has only to look at the figures I have quoted to see that the main problem has been his inability, despite all the subsidies and incentives, to correct the adverse balance of trade that we have with the United Kingdom and the United States. He runs all over the world big-noting himself, yet year after year we have this tremendous adverse balance of trade with those two countries. It is because of this that we have required such a large capital inflow. Our assets, resources, industries and commerce have fallen into the hands of persons from those countries because of his abject failure. At least he has the decency to warn the country against the consequences of his failure. Far too little is known about the extent of foreign investment. Even in recent times the Government has known little about it. On 16th August 1967, Senator Henty, in reply to a question I asked, said that the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd was 100% locally owned. A footnote to his answer said:
It is possible for these companies’ shares which are quoted on the Australian stock exchanges to be held by foreign investors, but it is considered that such foreign holdings would not be unduly large.
But about a year later - on 18th September 1968 - we find the Melbourne ‘Age’ stating that the BHP is 15% overseas owned. A little later we find the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) in the other place quoting the Australian ‘Financial Review’ and saying that the company is 24% overseas owned. I do not suppose that the extent of overseas ownership jumped up to those figures in the course of 12 months. It seems far more likely that Senator Henty was doing his best to answer my question in August 1967 but did not really know the extent of overseas ownership of this great Australian company.. That shows that we know far too little about the amount of foreign investment in Australia. We certainly know far too little about the role of foreign investment in Australia. We need to know about the status of our economy in regard to control and ownership.
If this seems a strange thing to be suggesting to the Senate, then let us consider what has been happening in Canada. Foreign control of Canada’s economy is greater than it is of Australia’s, but Australia is second only to Canada. The Canadians recently instituted an inquiry into foreign control of their economy and concluded that the most serious problem arising from foreign ownership was the intrusion of American law and policy into Canada.
– How is the conclusion that Australia stands second to Canada arrived at? Apparently the extent, of control in Australia is known. If that is so, what is the necessity for further inquiry?
– lt is known in broad terms.
– The Leader of the Opposition is making a very dogmatic statement. Canada is particularised. It looks as if the information is already available.
– That is the estimation which has been made in broad terms. Canada, of course, has been subjected to foreign penetration for a long time and perhaps to a more intensive degree, particularly by the United States. The inquiry found that multi-national corporations have substantial economic power and political influence and their operations are far too important to many people for nation-States to ignore them, lt also found that if Canada’s sovereignty is not to be eroded and ils national independence diminished it is necessary for positive steps to be taken to block the intrusion into Canada of United States law and policy applicable to American owned .subsidiaries with respect to freedom of export, anti-trust law policy and balance of payments policy.
– ls that what the Canadian inquiry reported?
– This is what the committee appointed by the Canadian Government reported. Of course, these are most serious conclusions for any country to reach on the state of ite economy and the way its economy, law and politics are affected by the ownership and control of its industries by outsiders.
– Was that the report of the banking royal commission?
– No; it is known as the Watkins Report. I could get a copy of it for the honourable senator if he would like to read it.
– I would be grateful.
– Despite the enormous problem of the American financial invasion, the Canadians are far ahead of Australia in legislating to control foreign investment. Australia has double taxation agreements with our major investors, but those agreements - without going into the details of them - are far more advantageous to the foreign investors than are the Canadian ones. Canada uses a withholding lax and depreciation allowances against companies having less than 25% Canadian equity. Again, we have the experience of Japan. The fantastic growth of the Japanese economy should lead us to study Japan’s treatment of foreign investment. Its programme for screening foreign investors provides for a special agency, the Foreign Investment Council, to make the final decision on whether an inward How of investment for technology should be allowed on the basis of a recommendation of a sub-committee on which various ministries are represented. The greater part of the work of examining and deciding upon applications is conducted by the responsible ministry, nearly always the Ministry of International Trade and Industry. The Japanese approach has been a very strict one. lt has largely excluded foreign capital and has controlled the inward flow of foreign control technology. The Government has exercised strong pressures to encourage licensing rather than direct investment. When foreigners are allowed equity participation - unlike Australia where they allow us - a majority interest is seldom permitted. If it is permitted, additional steps are taken to ensure that the Japanese partner has control.
I think honourable senators will remember the Japanese mission that came to Australia. I recall speaking to one of the high officers who was advising the Japanese Government on finance. He told me that the Japanese Government considered that this great growth of the economy in Japan and its strength was largely due to their insistence upon maintaining control of their own industries and their own resources. VII .. – - of course, has taken the attitude that apart from the various vague things said by the Prime Minister - and they have been pretty vague - there should be an open slather by foreign investors. When we speak of foreign investors, Sir, you should sense from that that it is not a case of the borrowers and lenders, as the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) said. He said that borrowers have responsibilities and lenders have responsibilities. No-one is really concerned about the amounts of money which we borrow; what we are concerned about is the sale of our assets, the passing of the ownership and control of those assets into foreign hands. If you borrow money it can be paid off at some time. The serious matter is this issue of the ownership and control and this is what this committee is aimed at investigating.
An estimated $7.000m has been invested in Australia from overseas sources in the past 20 years. In 1966-67 the annual overseas investment total was $534m and in the following year - and this is, apparently, subject to various estimates - it was somewhere between $857m on some accounts and $1,1 59m on others. We cannot maintain an effective rate of growth without some form of capital. But the question is whether the way in which capital is being obtained, particularly overseas capital, is the best way of doing this. The returns to those investing are becoming increasingly more significant. Taking the figure for the annual income payable overseas in 1967-68 of $457m, and estimating it as a percentage of the total foreign investment in Australia as $7,000m. we have a return of 7% per annum.
– Did all the money making up that sum of $457m go out of the country or was part of it retained here?
– 1 can tell the honourable senator that $857m in private investment came into Australia in that year and S457m went out in servicing costs. Over the 20-year period such servicing has cost about $4,600m of which about $ 1. 600m has been re-invested. Therefore, while the net capital inflow over that time was about $7, 000m, $3,000m went out in the form of profits. About $ 1,600m has been re-invested in Australia.
This proposed committee ought to investigate the possibility of more Government and semi-governmental participation in this development. For instance, when Australian companies are unable to accept the offered equity, the Government, or a specially set up development corporation - the Australian Resources Development Bank could be extended for this purpose - should accept the equity, if it is considered appropriate in those circumstances. Such a corporation was proposed by the Canadian Watkins report on the structure of Canadian industry to plan future growth rate and the application of industrial priorities. That Canadian experience is extremely relevant in Australia. It may be thought that the establishment of the Australian Resources Development Bank is a step in the right direction but its aim is much more limited than that envisaged for the Canadian Development Corporation. The Australian Resources Development Bank was instituted out of the existing eight trading banks to provide loans for Australian financed enterprises engaged in large scale development of our natural resources. It has no initiative: it does not participate. It exerts no control over foreign investment.
One of the complaints of overseas people who want to invest in Australia is that there are no definite, guide lines. Curiously enough they are resentful of the fact that there arc no definite guide lines laid down because they know just what can happen. Despite the negligence of the Australian Government it is apparent to people overseas that there will have to be some kind of reaction; that guide lines of some kind will have to be laid down. They would rather know now than have something occur later on. Certainly, for Australia’s benefit, we want to know where we are heading. Why can we not have a programme which will ensure that Australians will, as far as possible, own and control their own resources; that so far as we need lo have overseas capital it be arranged upon fair terms for those overseas but on the basis that ultimately the ownership and control is going to come back into Australian hands? ls not this something that we want? How can we go on leaving a great share of our industries, our commerce and our resources in the hands of foreigners with no plan, no programme whatever, to have those things returned to Australian hands? This is not good enough for anyone.
Mr Acting Deputy President, I would suggest to the Senate with great respect that we set up a committee. It is suggested that seven senators comprise the committee. As everybody knows there is no great point in this. In the past each one of the committees that has been set up has been in the control of the Government. Why should the Government fear a committee before which the facts can be put; a committee over which it has a substantial control in the sense that it can select its own members? Whatever participation of others may be desired, there is no dogmatic attitude on our part. The main thing is to have some body which will examine this question in the interests of Australia, which will examine it in the interests not only of private persons overseas but also of other nations which may want to participate and who may be willing to participate if the invitation comes from Australia requesting their co-operation and partnership as has happened elsewhere m the world. I therefore commend this resolution to the Senate and ask honourable senators to consider it as something which transcends the ordinary everyday affairs of Australia because this is something which affects our heritage. It is one of the most crucial questions affecting Australia’s destiny. What we decide about these matters will affect the quality of the lives of our children and their children. What we are deciding is really whether we are going to be a great and independent resourceful nation with the initiative to control our own destinies or whether we are content to continue on and become more and more an economic colony.
– When the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) formally moved his motion, he read most of it, but not all of it. While it is true that what he did not read is the operative clause which appears in every proposal for a select committee. I want to read it because at a later stage I want to refer to that particular clause. It is clause 3 of the motion, which reads:
That the Committee shall have power to send for persons, papers and records, to move from place to place, to sit during recess, and have leave to report from time to time its proceedings and the evidence taken and such recommendations as it may deem fit.
I would say that at the best, this motion has all the hallmarks of a piece of political window dressing. The Leader of the Opposition, in a set speech which was packed with some emotional overtones, I felt, took us back to the Socialist doctrine because, from time to time throughout his speech, he put forward proposals for government to government and government to semigovernment solutions for his arguments. It was my understanding that the Opposition was gently burying the Socialist platform, but we noticed tonight that it is beginning to be brought out again as a solution. I just wonder how caucus will react to this proposition.
I want to say to the Leader of the Opposition in reply to his speech, which was made with some emotion and some oratory with relation to the old cry of selling the nation’s assets, that it is well to remember that this motion has been on the notice paper for 13 months now. Of course we have to accept that it is considered appropriate that it should have a political run. and it is having that political run in this place tonight. 1 want to make a point which is the basis of ray contribution which is not going to be of any great length. The Leader of the Opposition devoted almost the whole of his argument to this question of overseas investment. But this motion must stand oi fall and must be first analysed and treated on the basis of what it is. It is a proposal to set up a standing committee. This is *he test that we have to apply to it, not the test that he wants to apply with relation to overseas investment. This is a motion containing a basic proposal which is to set up a standing committee on overseas control of Australian resources, commerce and industry. That is the basis on which it should be tested. I want to say that the Government rejects the proposal and will oppose it. The Government rejects thus proposal to set up a standing committee of seven senators on overseas control of Australian resources, commerce and industry. If it had wished, the Opposition could have initiated a debate on overseas investment, as was done in another place, and nothing could have been introduced to inhibit that debate.
– It would have become merely a mechanical exercise.
– No. lt would have been a debate of substance on what Senator Murphy spoke about for something like 43 of his 45 minutes. But that is not the motion before the Senate. I repeat that I think this matter has to be looked at in this light. What I want to say in simple language is that the Government has a responsibility to govern, to determine its policies and then subject them lo the scrutiny of the Parliament for acceptance, amendment or rejection. This proposal is no more than a device to put the responsibility of executive government in relation to the control of Australian resources, commerce and industry in the hands of seven senators. It is a device to take the responsibility of government away from the elected Government and put it in the hands of seven senators. I want to make the point that those seven senators, using the powers incorporated in clause 3 of the motion which I have just read, could rape the fundamental principles of executive government.
– Of course they could. What I have to say in this regard is not to be interpreted to mean that the Government is opposed to the committee system as it functions in the Parliament at the present time. But 1 do say that this proposal is calculated to take away the responsibility of the executive government for the control of commerce and industry and put it in the hands of a standing committee of seven senators. As a government, we do not oppose the committee system as is borne out by the history of this Parliament. For example, in the Senate in 1968 we received reports from the Select Committee on the Container Method of Handling Cargoes and from the Select Committee on the Metric System of Weights and Measures. They were very fine reports. Currently, in 1969, we have operating select committees on air pollution, on water pollution, on off-shore petroleum resources and on hospital and medical benefits. In the House of Representatives we have a select committee currently inquiring into noise levels at airports. There is a joint committee inquiring into the site for the new and permanent Parlia ment House and we have the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory inquiring into the introduction of breathalysers. There is also the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs which reports to the Minister for External Affairs. The only standing ing committees are the Regulations and Ordinances Committee, the Broadcasting of Parliamentary Proceedings Committee, the House Committee and the Library Committee, all of which are parliamentary committees which deal with matters after the event. Senator Murphy does not make any bones about his proposal. He says we have the example of what the American senators are doing. Inferentially, 1 think, he says: “We are attempting to shape the procedures of the Australian Senate in the image of the American Senate’. But of course, that proposition is not viable because the basis of the American Senate is, to a degree, which we do not have to canvass here, different from that on which we operate. In addition, the principle of executive and cabinet government is different in Australia from what it is in America. In Australia the responsibility remains in the executive government - the Cabinet and Ministry of the Parliament. So, any attempt to make a comparison between the American scene and the Australian scene in that regard falls short of substance.
I believe that I have made my point quite clear. The existing standing committees deal with policy decisions already taken. This standing committee would be at a vastly different level from that of the existing standing committees. To my knowledge, there has never been a standing committee of the Parliament that had lo report to the Parliament on a matter of government policy. Quite frequently in this chamber Ministers are invited to make statements on policy; but they do not do so. The fact is that it is quite competent for us to have a debate on foreign investment. That would be alt right. 1 would be quite willing to co-operate in using the forms of the Senate to have such a debate. But this is something different. This is a device to set up a standing committee to sit in judgment on the executive government. I am sure that if the Labor Party were in power it would not accept this proposition for a moment. No government would agree to have this cuckoo on the shoulder, as it were, in the form of a standing committee which could alter, pre-empt or destroy government policy.
Let me bring me argument back to clause (1.) of the proposal. The government of the Commonwealth of Australia is charged, by its electoral responsibility and mandate, with the planning and operation of policies concerned with the development of national resources, including mineral resources and manufacturing resources. This government responsibility is directed into a number of departments, such as the Departments of the Treasury, Trade and Industry. National Development, Primary Industry and Customs and Excise. Each has its own area of responsibility. But the whole province is a government responsibility, ro which is tied the fundamental practice of executive government. To allow this responsibility to be subverted by a group of seven senators would be to take a big step towards destroying our democratic system of government. lt has been said very often in this place that risk capita] is a shy bird. I think we all agree with that. But risk capital has been a tremendous thing for the development of this country. Will anybody suggest that our great development in Australia, our programme of full employment and our programme of a tremendously large intake of migrants would have been possible without risk capital? f would like to hear such an argument propounded. Let us apply the argument contained in the proposal, particularly in clause (3.) which I read out earlier. Normally firms discuss some or all aspects of a venture with government departments and occasionally with Ministers. Matters discussed include borrowing guidelines, taxation matters, plans for raw material processing, taxation concessions and by-law entry.
At any time there is semi-government and government investigation of the possible investment of capital in Australia. These proposals involve complex and highly confidential business matters and detailed and often prolonged discussions with many government instrumentalities - Commonwealth. State and local. Financial and legal questions are involved. Is it to be suggested seriously that a Senate committee of seven can be set up as a watch dog on these activities, which are within the responsi bility not only of the Commonwealth Government but also of the six sovereign States of Australia. Let us remember that the proposal says:
The Committee shall have power to send for persons, papers and records, to move from place to place, to sit during recess, and have leave to report from time to time its proceedings and the evidence taken. . . .
What is more, people would give evidence on oath. If they did not conform with our rules they could be put in the calaboose. This committee of seven could decide to call for an inquiry into a prospective capital investment in Australia and put those who wanted to invest in Australia under interrogation. It would ask those people questions on their capital structure and all the intimate matters which belong to their company and which are in negotiation with the Government. It would be in a position to table the evidence, which would become a document of the Parliament.
Will anybody earnestly suggest to me that this proposition is calculated to encourage capital investment in Australia, be it Australian capital or overseas capital? I put it to the Senate that, in fact, this would help to destroy a prospective project which in the ultimate might mean employment in a certain area in which we need employment. It might prejudice decentralisation activities, which we hope to foster. It might prejudice the prospects of our migration programme. I suggest that the proposed committee, if it operated as a standing committee, would have those things within its capacity. 1 invite the Leader of the Opposition to abandon this motion, which suggests the setting up of a select committee. Let us have a debate on overseas investment, if he wants one, by using the forms of the Senate. Why should not we do that? If we had a debate on overseas investment we might find some common levels of agreement on certain aspects of the matter. Who knows? Anyway, we would have a good debate. But to set up a standing committee with all the powers referred to in the motion is, in fact, to take away from the executive government its responsibility and to put it into the hands of a committee of seven. 1 say to the Leader of the Opposition: Abandon this motion; come again. We could use the forms of the Senate, if he likes, and next Tuesday night have a debate on foreign investment, as was done in another place. But he spoils or even destroys his case when he purports to argue that the Senate can in isolation in Parliament - as the second chamber - put into the hands of seven senators tremendous power to investigate the whole of the financial, industrial and commercial structure of the Commonwealth. I invite honourable senators opposite who are attempting to interject to study the wording of the motion. I suggest to the Leader of the Opposition that it would be well to abandon it as a motion. Lel us have a debate in a different atmosphere altogether from that surrounding the proposition he has put to us.
I think 1 have made the point that the overwhelming burden of the speech of the Leader of the Opposition was directed to a matter that can be dealt with only after settlement of the question of the setting up of a standing committee. However, he made substantial references to the question of overseas investment. In doing so he paid close attention to his notes. 1 do not blame him for that. In fact, I want to do much the same thing in concluding my remarks. The Government for years has kept overseas investment in Australia and overseas control of companies in this country under continuous review. From time to time the Goverment has stated its policy on various aspects of overseas investment. It has published White Papers on the subject and regularly publishes statistics relating to capital inflow and overseas investment in companies in Australia. At present the Government is engaged in a comprehensive and systematic re-examination of the whole question of overseas investment and overseas control of companies in Australia. A statement will be made to Parliament when the reexamination has been completed. Such a study would not in any way be involved in the activities of a standing committee.
The Government, in the close watch it has been keeping on the situation, has found no evidence of injury or threat to the national interest in the overseas investment that has been proceeding in Australia for a great many years. On the contrary, it is only too evident that the development of this country and its resources would have been greatly retarded without the assistance of overseas investment. Overseas investors in Australia are subject to the laws of this country in respect of their investments here. If they make profits, they must earn them by the efficient use of resources. Those profits are taxed here. As a genet al rule, overseas companies plough back a considerable proportion of their profits and in this way help further to speed the nation’s development.
Can it possibly make sense for us to leave natural resources idle for lack of capital to develop them? 1 do not think even Senator Murphy would suggest that. I think he said that there was a case for certain overseas investment to come into Australia under certain conditions and he did - I thought in a somewhat forceful way - come back to the proposition of a government to government basis. This Government does not believe that the situation should be handled on that basis at all. The history of Australia’s success reflects the relationship of the Government with the private sector of the economy, our own Australian investment capital, and investment capital coming to Australia.
The Government does not extend an uncritical welcome to any and every kind of overseas investment and never has done so. It has made it clear (hat it will not countenance takeovers by overseas interests that are, in the Government’s view, contrary to the national interest. It does not permit overseas companies to enter the field of banking and it restricts entry by overseas interests in the fields of radio, television and civil aviation, lt limits access by overseas companies to the Australian capital market and both generally and through the administration of the borrowing guidelines encourages overseas companies to give Australians opportunities to participate in the equity capital of their Australian subsidiaries.
The Government has also helped Australian companies to participate in the large scale development of our natural resources. In particular, it introduced legislation to give the Australian Resources Development Bank the status of a bank that could mobilise the large blocks of capita] required to enable Australian companies to finance large scale developmental projects. In the short time since it began operations, this Bank has been conspicuously successful in raising capital to extend Australian ownership and control in the field of resources development. At least 85% of the capital being invested in Australia comes from domestic sources. Ownership and control of Australia’s capital assets is predominantly in Australian hands and will continue to be so, despite the arguments put forward by the Leader of the Opposition.
– What percentage did the Minister say?
– At least 85% of the capital being invested in Australia comes from domestic sources. If we are to keep up the pace of development, however, we shall continue to need the 10% to 15% of investment that is financed by capital from abroad. I recognise that this is a subject for debate, but the Government will not accept now and could never accept - no government could accept, in keeping with the democratic principles by which it operates - the proposition that a Senate standing committee should be able, by a device implicit in the motion, to have such an influence upon the capital investment in this country. In certain circumstances which I have demonstrated, such a step would be ruinous to the continued flow of capital investment from Australian and overseas sources. I repeat that risk capital is a shy bird. The Government is doing all that is necessary to protect Australia’s interests. I have made it perfectly clear that the question of overseas investment in Australia is currently under examination. It could never be under examination if we were to accept the proposition that a Senate standing committee of seven senators could assume the responsibilities that the electors give to the Government and Parliament of Australia.
– Most of the concluding remarks of the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) were directed towards justification of the Government’s present policy on overseas investment in Australia. The greater part of the Minister’s speech appeared to consist of the suggestion that in some way what is proposed in the motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy) for the establishment of a standing committee is for some reason or other improper. Senator Anderson suggested that were the committee to be appointed it would take from the Government the powers of government - that it would be assuming the authority of government. Not only would it be doing that, the Minister appeared to suggest, but it would also in some way or other discourage overseas investors from investing in Australia. As to the first of those points, from a reading of the proposed terms of reference of the standing committee it is difficult to see how Senator Anderson could possibly have justified that point. In fact, the motion does not propose, and could not propose, that the standing committee should exercise any executive function, but merely that it should report on an existing situation as it develops from time to time. It would not in any way assume the responsibilities of government, but would merely report to Parliament on the position of overseas investment in Australia and the ownership by foreign capital of Australian enterprises and resources. The honourable senator also said that the establishment of committees such as these would weaken the executive government. Committees such as these function constantly in the United States of America - committees both of the Senate and of the House of Representatives. Yet I do not think anybody would suggest that the United States of America docs not have the strongest executive government of any Western country with a parliamentary or quasiparliamentary form of government. The very wide powers of investigation which are possessed by the standing committees of the Senate and of the House of Representatives in the United States - including committees on matters such as foreign policy, which hold their hearings in public and which are able to subpoena people to give evidence and to produce documents - in no way have weakened the power of executive government in the United States of America.
The Leader of the Government also suggested that in some way the committee would not only discourage overseas investors but would also completely discourage prospective immigrants. I could not follow precisely how this would come about. If one deals with that part of the speech which states that the committee would discourage overseas investors one is at a loss to ascertain how this could be the case because the committee will report only on the operations of overseas investors in
Australia. Surely any overseas investor who does not want to have known to the Parliament of Australia the extent and the nature of his operations in Australia is not the kind of overseas investor we want to come into Australia. Anybody who would be discouraged by having the particulars of his operations in this country made available to Parliament would, I should think, be a very unsatisfactory person and one to whom Australia should not be handing over its resources.
The only difference between the proposed committee and certain other committees is that it will be a standing committee. Of necessity it would be a standing committee. Anybody would expect overseas investment in Australia, of one form or another, to continue. I certainly do not say - and 1 do not think anybody on the Opposition would say - that there should be no overseas investment. Everybody recognises that in order to develop a country which is short of capital, but which has quite considerable resources, capital has to be brought in from somewhere. What is criticised - by implication perhaps, if nothing more - is the way in which the capital is imported. All we ask is that the Parliament be apprised fully of how much capital is coming into the country, into what fields it is being directed and to what extent it holds an interest in the Australian economy. The committee, under the proposed terms of reference mentioned in the motion, would not make recommendations.
– Does the motion confine itself to the capital coming in? Does it not also include the capita] already in?
– That would be the case. Senator Byrne has referred to the fact that the committee would concern itself with the capital not only coming in but already in. The point I make is that the committee will not make recommendations as to what should be done about the capital coming in or already in, but it will merely report to the Senate on the amount and extent of the capital which has come in and which is coming in. Of necessity this should be a standing committee. In 1967 the Government established a select committee of the Senate to inquire into another matter of some importance - by no means of such great importance as this, but certainly a matter of some considerable importance to the economy. It was the Senate Select Committee on the Container Method of Handling Cargoes, of which J was one of the Opposition representatives. That Committee had not only the power to report on the nature of the changes which were envisaged by the introduction of the container method of handling cargoes and the extent to which such changes were taking place, but also the power to make recommendations as to the best method of introducing legislation on the container method of handling cargoes which would be needed in industrial law and maritime law, and also on very wide questions relating to trade.
Surely if it could be argued that merely by a committee bringing down a report as to the extent of overseas investment in Australia overseas investors would be discouraged, it could have been argued much more strongly that giving a committee power to bring down recommendations as to what ought to be done about container shipping would be even more discouraging to shipping companies wishing to introduce containerisation into the Australian trade. But so far, despite the best efforts of some of us, those companies do not seem to have been discouraged at all. In fact if it could be argued that to make the recommendations envisaged in the motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition is to take over the powers of government, surely it could be more strongly argued that the Select Committee on the Container Method of Handling Cargoes was taking over the responsibility of government insofar as it made recommendations as to legislation. If I recollect correctly - and I do not think I am disclosing anything which is a secret - the Committee carried a resolution censuring the private trading banks - or the trading banks, the majority of which are private - for the steps which they had taken with regard to preparations for the introduction of the container method of handling cargoes.
– The steps which they had not taken.
– That is Senator Branson’s view. Just to show how impartial I am on this subject, if Senator Branson would cast his mind back to the proceedings of that Committee he would recollect that Senator B»M and I were the only two members of the Committee who were opposed to censuring the trading banks. Senator Bull and I were of the opinion that they had done all that they could do. Senator Branson adopted the extreme left wing position of censuring the banks for what they had not done. Senator Bull and I were the only defenders of the trading banks.
– The honourable senator is always on the side of the strength.
– There were only Senator Bull and I, so we hardly had the numbers, although I admit that in other respects we had the strength. If the Leader of the Government is correct in arguing that a committee such as this, in bringing down the kind of report envisaged by the motion of the Leader of the Opposition, will discourage overseas investors, surely the actions of the Committee on the Container Method of Handling Cargoes in censuring the private trading banks would have driven those banks to close down by now. The Opposition is asking for a standing committee on the overseas control of Australian resources, commerce and industry. The motion does not call for the public ownership of Australian resources or commerce. lt does not call for the prohibition of foreign investment in Australian industry or resources, lt does noi ask for the limitation, of foreign investment in Australian industry or resources. All it asks is that the Senate set tip a standing committee which will report to the Senate on the precise nature of the overseas control and investment in Australian resources, industry and commerce. We believe that the matter, is a very serious one. which has occasioned very considerable concern. The very least it demands is that the Parliament should be given precise information. Other people have gone much further than the motion suggests we go. Earlier Senator Greenwood asked the Leader of the Opposition when Mr McEwen. the Deputy Prime Minister, made certain statements about selling a little of the farm each year. I would bc readily able 10 tell the honourable senator, but unfortunately I cannot find the reference amongst my notes.
– ASIO has taken it.
– Senator Turnbull suggests that ASIO has taken the reference, but 1 do not think that is the case. I think it is a matter of overconcentration on my part. As 1 cannot find the reference, all I shall say about the subject is that at a conference of the Country Party on 2nd April 1963 Mr McEwen made the very statement that Australia was behaving like the farmer who was selling a little of the farm each year. I have now discovered the reference by Mr McEwen which was hiding under one by Mr Peters. He said on 2nd April 1963 at a conference of the Victorian Country Party:
We in this room are mostly established farmers. If we earn enough annual income we live comfortably. If we do not we could still live comfortably by selling a bit of the farm every year, and that is pretty much the Australian situation - we arc not earning enough and we are selling a bit of our heritage every year.
That was the statement of the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, the M inister for Trade and Industry, the Leader of the Australian Country Party. Concern about the extent of overseas investment in Australian resources and overseas control of Australian enterprises was expressed also by the Committee of Economic Inquiry established by the Australian Government under the chairmanship of Sir James Vernon. Recommendations brought down by the Vernon Committee were perhaps rather vague and general, but I do not think that anybody who, amongst their other reading has read the two volumes of the Vernon Committee’s report would be in any doubt that this Committee was seriously concerned about the direction in which overseas investment in Australia was going, lt should be borne in mind that this Committee was composed of people who largely could be regarded as representing the business world. They were not people who could be regarded as being ideologically committed to Socialist doctrines. Many of them were in fact associated with overseas investment.
The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has expressed considerable concern about certain things which have been done inside Australia. When he was speaking on I 10th March this year at the Australian Finance Conference seminar al the Wentworth Hotel, Sydney, he said:
But if there were an efficient Australian company, if there were a company which was operating with good management, good technilogical application, and there sought to be a raid on thai company by people with a long spoon who could afford to buy it out at high prices and wait for growth lo repay in 5, 10 or 12 years” time without dividends in the meantime, then I would not think it was in Australia’s interests that, in such cases, that should happen.
In our resolution we are not calling for action along the lines suggested by the Prime Minister in March of this year; all that we are saying is that, as no less a person than the Prime Minister has directed attention to the seriousness of this matter, the Parliament should be informed as to what extent the sort of problems envisaged by the Prime Minister are being created in Australia so that, if necessary, some appropriate action can be taken. At the moment the Parliament cannot be fully informed on all the financial operations which are taking place with regard to overseas investment. One cannot say whether the type of takeover which was mentioned by the Prime Minister is taking place, lt is only with some watchdog committee, such as the one envisaged in Senator Murphy’s resolution, that such information can be put before the Parliament, lt is only by the operation of such a committee that the Prime Minister can be assisted in ascertaining whether some action ought to be taken along the lines which he suggested in Sydney last March.
I think all of us in the Parliament agree [hat some overseas investment is necessary, but the Government showed in the action which was taken in regard to the takeover the Mutual Life and Citizens’ Assurance Co. Ltd that it was concerned about one particular takeover of an established enterprise which in fact would have been taken over hud it not been for the action of the Treasurer (Mr McMahon). In almost the same week, if nol the same week, as the proposed takeover of the MLC was averted, there was a takeover of Sydney Mutual Fire Insurance Ltd, another established Australian enterprise. At the time I questioned the Government as to why. if it were important to prevent the takeover of the MLC insurance company, the same considerations did not apply to the Sydney Mutual Fire Insurance Ltd. The answer I was given was that one was a life insurance company ami the other a fire insurance company. That is perfectly true, but what difference that makes is completely beyond my comprehension. When the statement was made by the Prime Minister at the time that action was taken to prevent the takeover of the MLC, so far as 1 recollect no particular reference was made to some specific quality of life insurance. There were general strictures cast against the takeover of Australian enterprises, but what distinguishes an established Australian life insurance company from an established Australian fire insurance company remains a complete mystery to me and so tar has not been explained by anybody on the Government side.
We believe, as I have said already, that some capital is necessary. The United States would not have been where it is now if it had not been for the influx of overseas capital, lt would not have developed as quickly as it was developed if it had not been for the influx of overseas capital. A great deal of British capital went into the United States, particularly in the latter part of the 19th century, in the 20 years or so after the American Civil War. But the United States has always taken strong measures lo protect its own enterprises. Almost since the independence of the United States of America has been noted for the legislative action which it has taken to ensure that it will always have an American owned shipping fleet. The provisions which are made under the United States Merchant Shipping Act to see that whatever wages and conditions may have to be accorded to American seamen, however unfavourably American ships on an ordinary commercial basis may be placed if they have to compete on a free market with overseas ships, have always ensured that by Government action there would be protection of the American merchant fleet. In addition, some steps were taken by various States and the Federal authorities to protect American resources from overseas investors.
But even apart from the steps which the United Stales took, there was one great difference, that is, that even following the depredations of the Civil War, despite the relative lack of industrial development in America at that time compared with western Europe, the United States was a mighty country and could compete on near enough to equal terms with those countries. But Australia is not in that position; it is a much smaller and weaker country relative to those countries which are investing in
Australia than the United States was in relation to the countries which were investing in it. Therefore, whatever precautions had to be taken by the United States, much stronger precautions would have to be taken by a smaller, weaker and less developed country.
– That is the reverse of logic.
-I do not think it is. I shall not become involved in that sort of argument now. I shall discuss logic with Senator Byrne later. I know that his training was largely Thomistic. Possibly we would agree on some occasions, but I do not think we should go into these matters at the moment, interesting though they may be. The whole problem of overseas investment and overseas finance has always been important. It is no use Senator Byrne accusing me of being an Aristotelian.
– No, an Augustinian.
– I am sorry.
– The honourable senator looks as though he has been taking atebrin.
– I do not think Senator Gair should take over the role of Senator Byrne as the Thomist of his party. He should leave those matters to the honourable senator who sits behind him. The position of overseas investment in Australia and in other countries has always been an important point of dispute between people representing different interests. There were long disputes in Great Britain in the 19th century between those people who advocated free trade and those who advocated protection, and between those people who wanted to have importations of overseas agricultural products and those who wished to maintain agricultural production inside England. There were the same problems in Australia with disputes between the parties led by Deakin and Reid over tariffs and as to the protection of Australian industries. It is only to be expected that there always should be such disputes but it is quite futile for the Government to argue that overseas investment, even though in the short run it may develop some industries, even though in the short run it may create employment which otherwise would not have been found, is necessarily in the interests of the people of the country in which the investment takes place.
The oil industry in Mexico was established in the early part of this century by the United States. It was found necessary by the Mexican Government of General Lazaro Cardenas in the 1930s to nationalise the American oil industry in Mexico because the people of Mexico were living in poverty while certain people in the United States were living in luxury as a result of the oil being taken out of Mexico. The Americans objected very strongly at the time but fortunately that enlightened President of the United States, President Roosevelt, seeing that relations between Mexico and the United States could be destroyed, recognised that the Mexican people were entitled to develop their own oil industry for the benefit of their own people and not solely for the benefit of foreign American investors.
Guatemala is another country which was developed by American investment - that of the United Fruit Co. One knows very well that the reason why the United States has taken such a keen interest in the politics of Guatemala, leading to the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Guatemala in 1954, was the need to preserve American enterprises in that country. In Bolivia the tin mines, the only substantial industry in the country, are owned very largely by American companies, certainly not by Bolivian companies. That, you might say, is a wonderful thing. Here is an industry which would not have been developed if left to the Bolivian Government or the Bolivian people and which would not have been developed if it had not been for the Americans. What is the consequence of this great development of tin mines in Bolivia? The consequence is that Bolivia has one of the lowest standards of living in the world; the standard of living of the people has not improved. I believe that our purpose is to look after the interests of the Australian people. Although there may be some aesthetic delight in seeing a lump of lead or a lump of copper taken out of the ground, our object should be to preserve the interests of the Australian people. The interests of the Bolivian people were not served by the discovery and development of the tin industry in that country.
The same remarks apply to Chile, despite the Anaconda Copper Co. I can imagine the predecessors of Senator Anderson in Chile back in the 1880s saying what a wonderful thing it was for Chile that the Anaconda Copper Co. had opened mines. I can imagine their saying: ‘Let us not investigate them or say a word about them because we may frighten them away’. What is the position in Chile? lt is one of desperate poverty surrounded by huge wealthy enterprises. Despite the fact that Eduardo Prei, the candidate of the Christian Democrats in Chile at the last presidential election, was supported by the United States and was elected, he was elected on a policy of taking 50% of the copper industry from the Americans and handing it to the Chilean people, or at least to Chilean companies. That was found necessary by even the principal right wing candidate in Chile.
Despite all the wonders which are supposed to follow overseas investment - investment by the Anaconda Copper Co. so far as Chile is concerned - we recently have seen the same thing in Peru where the right wing regime of generals and admirals has taken over. What is it doing? The country is now on the verge of a complete break in diplomatic relations with the United States because even these conservative individuals have found it necessary to nationalise American enterprises in their country. We know very well that the United States became concerned about the tendencies of Fidel Castro in Cuba, not because of any allegation of association with Soviet Russia, Red China or anyone else, but because Castro threatened the privately owned sugar fields and sugar mills in Cuba and the United Fruit Company’s enterprise. That was when the Americans became interested in Castro and that is when there was a breakdown in the support that the United States Government was giving Castro. Previously it had supported him against Batista.
I refer to this in order to show the unwanted interest of countries, which have heavy investments in other countries, in those other countries, and also to show that by no means, according to the historical experience of other countries, does this investment necessarily bring prosperity in any way. There are many countries in which there is much greater overseas investment than there is in Australia and yet the people are still living in despair, wretchedness and poverty. Some of these matters have been referred to very recently by Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber, a most eminent French writer.
– Never heard of him.
– -If Senator Byrne has never heard of him I suggest that he look up ‘International Who’s Who’ where he will find out all about this Frenchman rather than waste the time of the Senate while I explain things to him. Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber’s most recent book ‘The American Challenge’ deals with the effect of American investment, of the type which is being lauded by the Australian Government, in Western Europe and in France in particular. 1 should like to quote a few extracts from the book. He says:
Most striking of all is the strategic character of American industrial penetration. One by one, US corporations capture those sectors of the economy most technologically advanced, most adaptable to change, and with the highest growth rates.
Not those which need development but those which already are the most developed. He refers to the present heavy American investment in Europe in this way:
American corporations in Europe control:
IS per cent of the production of consumer goods - radio and TV, recording devices, etc.; 50 per cent of semi-conductors - replacements for old electronic tubes; 80 per cent of computers - electronic calculating machines, which, among other things, transform the management of corporations; 95 per cent of the new market for integrated circuits - miniature units crucial to guided missiles and the new generation of computers.
This is a most serious matter for France. Despite the kind of nationalism that De Gaulle has been pursuing in France we find that some of the most important strategic elements in the French economy have fallen out of the control of France and into the control of another country. I do not believe that any country should look on a situation like this with equanimity. Servan-Schreiber goes on to say:
Nine-tenths of American investment in Europe is financed from European sources. In other words, we pay them to buy us. ls not that precisely the situation in Australia? Are the Americans suddenly to become good natured when Australia is concerned? Why should the situation be different here from the situation in France to which the distinguished French writer has directed attention, the situation being that we pay them to buy us? He quotes - I think this is most important - Hans Dichgans, a member of the West German Parliament, who said in March 1965:
History leaches us that in the long run a healthy economy must free itself from dependence on foreign capital and rely on its own resources. The United States itself furnishes the best example of this.
Those are words that the Government should remember, and if the Government cannot remember them the Australian people should remember them. How can we ever free ourselves from overseas control? How can we ever rely on our own resources if we do nol know the extent of the overseas control, if we do not know bow much of our own resources remain in our own hands? These are matters which have not been discussed seriously by the Government. The Government has been in the happy position in past years of not having to fight elections on any serious discussion of the economic future of Australia. For the last 20 years the Government has been able to fight elections on emotive issues; issues such as fear of the Socialist tiger at home, the Red menace abroad and the downward thrust of Communism. With the support of the Democratic Labor Party it has been elected not on policies of standing for something but on policies of opposition, policies based on fear, policies of terror and policies of accusations of people being disloyal.
The Government has not been placed in the position of governments in other countries with a far more informed Press and a more informed public of having to discuss the merits of its economic and social policies. The Government has not relied on discussion on any of these matters. Every time an election comes around the Red arrow is shown pointed at Australia and indicating the downward thrust of the Chinese. But the only Reds who have thrust downwards are the Chinese wheat buyers who come down to see the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr McEwen). This has been the Government’s fortune. It is in the fortunate situation that Australia is relatively prosperous compared to past years and relatively prosperous compared with other countries, especially those in the immediate vicinity. We have - not through any virtue of the Government - discovered considerable resources. Australia does not have a very large population to deal with the production and development of its resources. Consequently, there has been full employment. There would have been full employment no matter what policy any government followed. This would have been only concomitant with the existing economic situation.
The Government once relied on the cry that anybody who opposed its policies was disloyal to the British Empire. The Union lack was always prominently featured. The Government has now conveniently discarded this flag and we do not hear too much about the British Empire. What we now hear about is the American alliance. Anybody who now criticises any aspect of the Government’s policy is disloyal to the American alliance. Of course, Curtin was disloyal to the British Empire about 20 years ago because he wanted closer relations with the United States. The Government no longer worries about loyalty to the British Empire. In fact, you would be rather disloyal if you expressed much admiration for the British Prime Minister. This would probably be a sign of lack of patriotism because one now shows one’s loyalty by one’s dedication to the American alliance.
The Government has always had a colonial mentality. The whole history of Australian conservatism has been one of governments and parties which have not been prepared - in the words of the German member of Parliament whom I quoted earlier - to stand on their own feet. They have depended in the past on the policies of the British Empire and in more recent times on the policies of what they have referred to as the American alliance. They have now passed from a stage of direct colonialism to a stage of economic colonialism or what the Mexicans call Coca-colonialism. The ALP’s position on these matters is quite clear. It believes that when posterity comes to judge us, as it will at some time in the future, it will find that Australia has become an empty quarry surrounded by sump - words to this effect were used recently; that the wealth of the country has gone out of the hands of ils people and is not even in the hands of its capitalists and investors; and that the people are completely dependent upon the whims and motives of overseas investors. For all this, the people sitting opposite, unless they are able to completely falsify history, will be the ones found to be responsible.
The Opposition believes that these are serious matters, but tonight it is not saying that any particular action should be taken. lt is merely saying that the Senate should exercise its proper responsibility and establish a select committee along the lines of the committees which function in the United Stales. Although the Government talks so much about the American alliance, it imitates only the most negative aspects of American life. It never imitates the positive aspects - America’s guarantees of civil liberties and civil rights, the free criticism which takes place in its Congress, the freedom of inquiry of its Senate committees on foreign relations, its anti-trust laws or any of these matters. Only the most hysterical. anti-Communist, anti-working class aspects of American life are thought fit to bc emulated by this Government. The Opposition believes that in advocating a Senate select committee of this type it is suggesting a proper course for the Senate to follow. AH that the Opposition wants is to know what the position is with regard to overseas control of our wealth and to ensure that the Parliament and the people of Australia are made aware of the position. I believe that if the Government opposes the Leader of the Opposition’s motion the question we are all entitled to ask is: What is the Government afraid of?
– The sentiments behind Senator Murphy’s proposal seem worthy ones. I believe that they express concern al Australia’s participation in the development and growth of our industries and resources. I arn sure that these sentiments command very worthy support amongst all Australians. I believe that honourable senators on this side of the chamber as well as those opposite are fully in support of and have sympathy for the general objectives that Senator Murphy has stated. Indeed, the Government has left no doubt in the minds of the people of Australia and in the minds of any investor coming to Australia that it wishes and requires participation by Australians in Australian projects. I am sure that the Government is at present studying whether more can be done in the many spheres of development whilst achieving that which the Opposition has expressed as being so important to this country - greater Australian participation in the various ventures. Indeed, the Eggleston Committee k at present inquiring into takeovers of Australian companies.
The Commonwealth and the States are at the moment studying the take-over code and the disclosure of ownership of substantial shareholdings by nominee companies which may noi be readily recognisable. Wc know that the borrowing guidelines are made known to any country or any overseas concern which may seek to invest in Australia. The Government agrees with the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) and Senator Wheeldon that overseas development is vital for Australia as it assists to boost our growth rale, lt also assists lo achieve those things that the Opposition seeks. I refer to higher living standards and greater economic and social security. Overseas investment results in a growing rate of development and an increased population. Overseas development has undoubtedly played a large role in Australia’s post-war achievements.
I wish to quote one or two comments from an address given by Sir Maurice Mawby, who is the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive of Conzinc Riotinto of Australia. Perhaps one could not lake a belter example of what happens when a large overseas company invests in Australia. He refers lo the possibility of greater Australian participation in such companies and in the general development that they bring to Australia. Sir Maurice, in one of his comments, had this lo say:
Before World War II. Australians did not seem to worry much about this distinction between foreign’ and ‘local’ companies. We were grateful to certain British companies, which I suppose you could say were technically ‘foreign’, for ‘.he employment they provided and their expanding horizons in production and working conditions. And I think the governments valued . the contributions they made to our earnings from export. None of the main political parties revealed any particular bias against foreign companies. In fact it was Ben Chifley who soon after World War If had the vision and initiative to invite General Motors to produce an all-Australian car. In thos* days the advantages that accrued to Australia from the operations of overseas companies were appreciated by most thoughtful Australians.
I believe that the Opposition has attempted to build a screen before the eyes of the Australian public. Certainly 1 would suggest that the honourable senator who last spoke should reread his speech to see the attempts he made to screen the main points regarding the benefit of Australian ownership.
I oppose the establishment of the committee proposed by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy). If 1 might shortly give reasons for my opposition .1 want to refer to the words he used in requesting that a committee of the Senate report upon the ownership and control of the natural resources, commerce and industries of Australia. I believe that Senator Murphy is sufficiently intelligent to understand the situation. If he finds that he is in difficulty then perhaps he could refer to members of his own Party who now sit on the committee which is investigating the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act. He might even ask Senator Keeffe, who is attempting to interject. Senator Keeffe is the President of the Australian Labor Party. He might tell Senator Murphy of the difficulties he had in trying to evaluate what was meant by the term ‘ownership and control’. If Senator Murphy is honest he may come to the same conclusion that we on that committee reached. I am sure that Senator Gair also would give his advice. It is most difficult to understand what is meant by that particular phrase.
The words of the proposal put forward by the Leader of the Opposition are vague. They are intended to be vague in order to build a screen before the eyes of members of this Parliament and of the people as to what the Opposition really requires. I suggest that neither Senator Murphy nor Senator Wheeldon once stated what he envisaged by way of control in Australian industry. They may say that this is the Government’s job. They may say that it is not for them to make suggestions. They are very vocal about what they want done but they do not suggest criteria; they do not say what should happen, what should be the limit of control or the limit of ownership, or how these things should be brought about, f challenge Opposition senators to clearly state their policy - if one of their number can do so - in respect of this matter, should the Opposition decide what it really wants. The Opposition has staled that it does not oppose foreign investment in Australia. I ask: What is the limit that it wishes to see imposed on foreign investment?
– Would it not be better to ascertain the facts and see what the experience is?
– The honourable senator has seen published a directory of overseas investment in Australian manufacturing industry. I do not know what the honourable senator wishes to do. 1 show to the Senate what the Department of Trade and Industry, I think, produced in pretty quick time - a directory containing a survey of that particular area of Australian industry to determine the extent of overseas investment. Indeed, it is a most useful document. The directory was produced to show that there is great concern in Australia about the limit of the ownership and control of our industry by overseas organisations. 1 ask the Opposition whether it gives no credit to this type of capital investment. Will the Opposition not say that there is a benefit reflected in the employment figures in Austalia? We heard Senator Wheeldon say that we would have full employment in Australia without this overseas investment. I suggest to you, Sir, that that is utter rubbish. This has been demonstrated by the fact that the Socialist government running Britain for the last 5 years has a most terrible record so far as employment is concerned. I want to see full employment maintained in Australia. I want to see an expansion of our resources and 1 want to see those resources used for the benefit of the working people and of every other class of person in Australia. I want to see overseas investment used in order to help strengthen the defence of Australia. I want to see overseas investment here used to increase materially the standard of living of our people.
T believe that a permanent watch dog on overseas investment in Australia, as suggested by Senator Murphy, probably would prove to be a serious deterrent to overseas investors. Rightly or wrongly they would see such a body as being capable of making arbitrary investigations, with legal backing, into the private sector and of reaching arbitrary conclusions. It would be very difficult to devise a clear and satisfactory set of rules to meet all eventualities that could occur in the business world. Those honourable senators who have had experience in the business or primary producing world -would know that what you plan today may not meet the situation you will face in 12 months time.
The argument by the Opposition has been based on emotion. That is very clear. The Opposition uses such terms as ‘control of and ‘equity participation of Australian ownership’, and these phrases certainly must raise some doubt in the mind of the average person as to the image of overseas investment in this country. I believe that the test to be applied should be whether the development of our resources is for the benefit of the Australian people. There is not one member of Parliament on the Government side who does not wish to see the greatest growth of Australian content in investment in this country. Undoubtedly the panacea in this regard would be total ownership. This would be most desirable but whilst on the one hand it is desirable, undoubtedly it would bring stagnation to our industries. It would bring with it a cut-back in the usefulness of techniques in management which wc obtain today. Techniques in production, in the latest methods of financial administration and in business competition would not be brought to this community. This Government has demonstrated that a level of overseas interest is much to be desired.
I noted that in the document which is undoubtedly presented on inquiry to every overseas investor in Australia - a document put out by the Commonwealth of Australia - there is an indication of the general policy pursued by this Government. Could anybody argue against the view that the general policy pursued has brought Australia to a most successful position at the present time? I will quote this general policy, lt is:
The Australian Government welcomes overseas investment in Australia, particularly where it is of a kind likely to help in the balanced development of our resources and brings with it the skills and ‘know-how’ needed for the success of the project in which the investment is made.
It goes on:
While there are no legislative provisions requiring local participation in the capital or management of companies set up in Australia by overseas interests wc want some local participation both in ownership and management.
That is very clear indeed to investor* in overseas countries who read it. It indicates exactly what we wish. Would Senator Mulvihill, who is seeking to interject, suggest that the expansion of the development of mineral resources in the last 5 years mainly by the use of overseas investment has not been in the category which I have mentioned? Will he deny that it has contributed to the balanced development of our resources? Surely no-one would deny that. Would honourable senators opposite who claim that Australians should be enjoying greater participation in our development make any comment as to the percentage of shares taken out by Australians in Conzinc Riotinto of Australia when they were first placed on the market at 28s? Will they tell me how many Australians flocked in to buy shares when they had the opportunity for local participation in this development? They cannot point to any great rush by Australians to buy shares at that time. The demand for shares by Australians arises only today after the company has proved to be successful. It is only after a company proves to be a glowing success that Australians want to invest in it. Indeed, that is my own attitude. 1 am not anxious to risk my money, and I should imagine that most Australians are in the same boat. A great number of investing companies are wishing to enter into the exploitation of minerals at present. Let us wait and see just what a great flow of Australian capital there is into these companies which have yet to look for and discover minerals. The demand for shares in them will not come from Australians until after they have proved to be successful.
– Australians arc investing on a risk basis.
– They are being encouraged to do so, but I think the honourable senator will agree that some element of overseas investment is very necessary. I refer honourable senators to this very interesting comment in the document from which I have already quoted:
The annual inflow of overseas capital invested in companies in Australia, which was SA77 million in 1947-48-
That was just about when the Labor Party went out of office. Apparently overseas capital was still being encouraged then. The comment continues: totalled 5A4R9 million in 1966-67. Over the twenty year period the total inflow of capital invested in companies in Australia amounted to $A5,673 million, of which United Kingdom investors contributed $A2,794 million or forty-nine per cent and “investors in the United States of America and Canada $A2,152 million or thirty-eight per cent. These figures include net income retained in Australia by subsidiaries and branches of overseas firms.
– What is that book?
– It is ‘Overseas Investment in Australia’ and is published by the Commonwealth Government. The Opposition has made a great point about investment of total dividends. The total of dividends remitted, and profits and undistributed profits payable overseas in 1967-68 was equivalent to 2.1% of the net national product; and the net amount payable overseas on account of property income in all forms, including interest and royalties, was equivalent to 2.4% of the net national product. Both of these figures are slightly below the corresponding percentages reached in 1958- 59 and 1959-60, but slightly higher than those of recent years, ls there any great problem connected with this percentage of overseas capital, coming into Australia? Let me quote to the Senate the words of the Treasurer (Mr McMahon).
– We do not lake much notice of him.
– 1 lake a great deal of notice of him. The Treasurer said:
In this country we save more than twenty-five per cent of our national product and plough it back into all kinds of development. Only one other country exceeds this performance, and (hat is Japan.
J know that Senator Keeffe would deny that Australia ranks second in the world in what it has achieved in its own investment and development. What does he want? Does he want us to slip further down the wheel? 1 do not doubt that if ever he got into power that is what would happen because of the controls his Party would introduce. The Treasurer went on to say:
These internal savings of ours meet some 90% of our investment for growth.
Are we crying at the fact thai we ourselves are looking after 90% of our growth 1 investment? That achievement is of tremendous credit to this country and to the Australian people. The Treasurer went on to say:
The. other 10% odd comes from abroad. While this 10% is a marginal part of our capital formation, it is critically important for our development. If this marginal 10% were to be significantly contracted, then our rate of development would slow down and the impact on internal living conditions would be quickly felt. f support most strongly the point that the Treasurer makes so keenly in that particular statement. I think even Senator Keeffe will agree that it is good to see the great contribution Australians are making to their own development.
I know that other honourable senators are anxious to speak on this subject, but 1 do want to make the point that 1 believe that there are definitely some unpalatable moves being taken by some Australian companies in connection with takeovers of other Australian concerns. While we are cognisant of the benefits to be derived from some overseas investment, whilst we appreciate the importance of some overseas investment and the benefits thai can flow from it, I believe that the Government must be careful to look very closely at and lake some action with regard to the taking over of totally owned Australian companies. Indeed, the problem is just as great in connection with the takeover of Australian companies by other Australian companies. I speak with some knowledge of this matter and I am sure that honourable senators would be very distressed to know how many sound Australian based companies which were previously 100% Australian owned have now gone to overseas ownership. Let us examine the difficulty that confronts us. Honourable members on the opposite side of the chamber certainly have shares in some companies.
– Name them.
– I do not name them. I do not know whether the honourable senator wants me to name the senators or whether he wants me to name the companies. But I certainly, as an Australian reasonably interested in development, have an interest in Australian companies. If honourable senators on the Opposition side find that with their salaries they are unable to have an interest in anything other than their own affairs, then I suggest they have not any financial competence. I know, however, from what I have heard from honourable senators opposite that they have interests in certain companies. Whatever their investment may be, whether it be in a farm, a mine or a manufacturing concern, do they want to be subject to direction as to who shall bid for their property? If an overseas investor is willing to offer them double the amount they have invested for their interest, do they want the Government to say: ‘You must not take that offer’? We on the Government side do not want to live in a Socialist atmosphere. We want to live in a private enterprise atmosphere. But takeovers do present a problem, and I say to the Government that it should study carefully the comments made by the Eggleston Committee with relation to takeovers. Whether it be an Australian company taking over another Australian company, or whether it be an overseas company taking over a major interest in an Australian company, we shall need to do something if we are to maintain an even economic position with relation to this matter.
– Senator Wheeldon gave a wonderful exposition of Labor’s point of view.
– He gave wonderful emphasis to what the Labor Party would do under socialisation. If he can achieve anything, that is what will be achieved. Let me quote some words with reference to a statement Senator Murphy made, when he was endeavouring to influence the community in favour of his propositions, about the embarrassment of Australians when all these big overseas companies take over Australian companies. He asked where we would stand and said that the quality of the lives of our children and their children would be affected detrimentally and that they would never obtain positions in these big companies. What a lot of rubbish that is. I refer to some words of S’r Maurice Ma why.
– Who is he?
– He is the Chairman of Conzinc Riotinto, which is a very large overseas company with an investment in Australia. He has said:
We happen to be a company managed by Australians. Not a single overseas executive is employed in the top responsible jobs at the large operating centres at Broken Mill, Weipa, Newcastle, Bell Bay, Mount Tom Price and Dampier.
Those are the words of the Chairman of one of the largest investors in Australia. 1 do not doubt that that is what overseas inves tors want to do when they come here. I was chatting with officers of the Esso company when the Senate Select Committee on Offshore Petroleum Resources went and saw that wonderful investment, in partnership between an Australian company and an American company, in Bass Strait. They said to me: ‘The quicker we can get Australian administrators to take over the whole of our organisation, the better, because we have other work to do’.
In the very near future the Government will have to take action to see that the lakeover and consolidation of sound companies, which are 100% owned, managed and run by Australians, into larger organisations is watched very closely. Otherwise, in the ensuing years we will see some damage to the Australian economy as a result of the progressive promotion of very large industrial concerns in whatever area of business may be involved. But our purpose will not be achieved by having an inquisitorial committee of the Senate trying to poke irs nose into every area of a private company’s business. Anyway, the facts in respect of any of the areas Senator Murphy mentioned are probably contained in the document issued by the Department of Trade and Industry. I have great pleasure in opposing the establishment of such a committee.
– In the few minutes that I have in which to participate in this debate, I want to remind Senator Webster that tomorrow morning he will get under the shower and clutch a cake of soap in his hand, and it will be soap manufactured by ColgatePalmolive Pty Ltd, which is 100% overseas owned. Then he will proceed to shave and will use a stick of shaving soap made by Yardley of London Pty Ltd, another company that is 100% overseas owned. While he is waiting for his breakfast to be served, he will pick up a copy of the ‘Reader’s Digest’ and thumb through it. He will discover that the ‘Reader’s Digest’ company again is 1.00% overseas owned. Then he will sit at his little table, reflecting on the dividends that he will receive next week, and he will have his cereal. Undoubtedly, it will be Kellogg’s cornflakes, which are made by a company that is 100% overseas owned.
A little later he will call for his piece of steak. No doubt it will have been killed by the Riverstone Meat Company Pty Ltd. lt is interesting to note that almost 100% of the Australian beef killing industry is overseas owned and overseas controlled. Then he will have a piece of toast. The toast will have been made by George Weston Foods Pty Ltd, which is 100% controlled by an overseas firm and incorporated in the Australian Capital Territory under Loves Bakeries Pty Ltd, owned 100% by George Weston Foods Pty Ltd. No doubt, Senator Webster will have a biscuit and a piece of cheese following his toast. The biscuit will have been made by Nabisco Pty Ltd, that great take-over firm that really made inroads into the Australian biscuit manufacturing industry and which is owned 100% by overseas capital. He will spread his biscuit with a little cheese made by Kraft Foods Pty Ltd, which also is owned 100% by overseas capital. Then, for tea no doubt Senator Webster will have a cup of that very nice brew made by Robur Tea Co. Ltd, 82% of which is owned by overseas capital. Having considered Senator Webster at breakfast, it makes one weep to know that all the profits from the food he has eaten will go out of this country.
– What will Senator Webster have after breakfast?
– In the time that is available to me, I could not go through that in detail. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy), who moved for the appointment of this Senate select committee, led for the Opposition. I was almost reduced to tears when, in his reply, the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) came to the last paragraph of the motion which reads:
The Committee shall have power to send for persons, papers and records, to move from place to place, to sit during recess, and to have leave to report from time to time its proceedings and the evidence taken and such recommendations as it may deem fit. 1 was really disturbed by the pathetic outlook that he took on the whole of this matter. Quite frankly, Government senators are quite afraid of what might be turned up by the proposed Senate select commit tee. We have seen several Senate select committees operating in past months. All of them have done a pretty effective job. Government members say they are not afraid of what this Committee might turn up, ‘but perhaps they are afraid of some of their shareholdings being disclosed. I can confidently say lo Government senators that if they elect to give evidence before a committee of this nature their evidence would be heard in camera so that their shareholdings were not exposed outside the Committee.
Senator Webster went to a lot of trouble in waving his book around. He did not bother to tell us anything that was in it. I know that some members of the Government, when the book was first published, endeavoured to have it banned by the Board that deals with obscene literature. In fact, the Department of Trade and Industry, in the statistics provided in this publication, showed precisely what was the overseas ownership of Australian manufacturing industry in 1966.
I have not a great deal of time, Mr President. 1 propose to quote only a few examples from each of the sections of this publication. In the section dealing with Iron and Steel, Metal Shapes, Scrap’ we find reference to Armco (Australia) Pty Ltd which manufacturers prefabricated steel. It is owned 100% by an American company. Atlas Steels (Australia) Pty Ltd is 100% owned by an overseas company. John Lysaght (Australia) Ltd is 80% owned by a British company. So this publication goes on in the various sections. I turn to the heavy engineering industries. A considerable amount of overseas capital is invested in these industries. We find that Edgar Allen & Co. (Australia) Pty Ltd is owned 100% by a British company. We find that Babcock & Wilcox of Australia Pty Limited, which used to be a well known Australian firm-
– Is not the publication from which the honourable senator is reading a directory of overseas investment?
– If the honourable senator would like me to give him the title of it, I inform him that it is the publication that was put out by the Department of Trade and Industry.
– It is a directory of overseas investment. The honourable senator would not expect to find Australian companies listed in a directory of overseas investment, would he?
– Thai is not the point. 1 have heard Senator Prowse make some stupid statements in the Senate, but that takes the cake - and not Nabisco ones either. It is typical of the altitude of the Government and the mentality of the Country Party.
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put i he question:
Thai the Senate do now adjourn.
– I feel impelled tonight to refer to what I regard as a very disturbing trend in television in this country. I believe we are experiencing at present what can be fairly regarded as an exercise in brinkmanship. Certain people in television in Australia are seeing how far they can go. If they get away with their present efforts, it is obvious that they will go a whole lot further. Some time ago complaints were made by private television companies that the Australian Broadcasting Commission - the government agency - was showing on television programmes things which they had always understood were not permitted. I believe that those complaints were justified then and are justified now.
A programme which I saw last, week filled me with disgust. The programme ‘This Day Tonight’ began with the holding of a rooster at a table. The rooster’s head was then cut off. Following that viewers were told that they were to witness the removal with a knife of the sexual organs of the rooster. The sexual organs of the rooster were then displayed on the screen. At a later stage viewers were informed that this was associated with the ‘evil eye’, as practised among Italian people. One suggestion made on the programme was that when an Italian man found that his advances were rejected by an Italian girl, he could obtain his will by obtaining some of her menstrual fluid and smearing it on his shoes. The programme This Day Tonight’ follows the news telecast. lt is regarded as a family programme. I want 10 register my disgust and protest at that kind of subject being brought into the sitting rooms of the people of this country.
I understand that the people of the ABC had been aware for some lime of public criticism of their television activities. The other night they referred to that fact. They said: ‘We knew there is some criticism of us. but look at what you can get in toy shops in this country’. They claimed that they had visited a toy shop and had bought a number of pictures of the suggestive kind of nudes sold in certain countries in the world. They proceeded to screen the pictures and said, ‘Well, that goes on in toy shops’. Having screened about a dozen such pictures, they then proceeded to screen another dozen. On the same evening, or perhaps the next evening, the Commission showed a programme by a Mr Frost. Some of his programmes that I have seen were very witty, but in a new type of programme he is now producing - perhaps he is finding it harder to get good script writers - he is introducing the kinds of sex and sensationalism that some people think will improve their ratings. A joke was told about a dancer. I suppose if it had been told in a bar amongst men, people would have said: That is the sort of thing that happens’. But it was certainly not the kind of humour that ought to be portrayed upon the television screens of this country.
My complaint is that this kind of thing is screened on television. Honourable senators know that journals are sold in this country catering for all kinds of tastes, but at least the people who buy them know what they are taking into their homes. In the case of these programmes, viewers are not aware of what is to come until a programme is screened in front of the family. To show that I am not alone in making this complaint, and lest it be thought that I am biased or too conservative, let me read the opinion of Mr Croskell, the television critic of the Melbourne ‘Age’. Writing on 9th April, the day following the programme in question, be said:
This Day Tonight last night brought the beheading of a rooster and his gory castration into Australia’s sitting rooms during family viewing time.
The sex organs were removed from the just-dead bird by a black-clad witch, who then impaled them with pins.
This is the sort of shock treatment which has already earned TDT some unfavourable publicity this year.
Not a word of warning was given.
This sort of stunt has caused more than one parent to protest that his children can be let in for the sensational shock of their little lives by watching the unclassified TDT.
I cannot see Bill Peach and (he boys defending television censorship, but they are digging their own graves with this attitude. Their attitude seems irresponsible. Just a hint like ‘send the kids out for a glass of milk’ could save a lot of muck raking.
Some hip parents would not care but surely television, the mass medium, can make allowances for the more (lour parents.
Is This Day Tonight a higher authority than a parent?
The segment was good.
I differ with that opinion. The article continued:
It was the sort of thing on which TDT has built its ratings.
If that is the only way in which the programme can build its ratings we would be better off without it. The article continued:
The evil eye cult was shown up as an integral part of the life of Sydney’s Southern Italian community.
The second front of the attack without warning was the explanation by TDT reporter Peter Luck that a man who has made advances to an Italian girl and been rejected can win her with one of the spells of theevil eye cult.
All he has to do is to wipe some of her menstrual blood on the sole of his foot.
This Day Tonight is in its third year. This was not a mistake. It is an adult programme - that is understood. But families watch television.
The programme is not listed as AO. Perhaps that is the classification the producers are after.
The ‘Age’ apparently thought so strongly about the matter that two days later in its television supplement it said that the programme was the antonym of fair play; that it was unfair to the Italian community as a whole. I agree with those comments. In my opinion the programme could be regarded only as an attack on the Italian community. The ‘Age’ went on to say that the programme was a blow-up of the unsavoury and that those concerned had lost their sense of balance.
We all know that these are days when sex and sensationalism are appearing on every front. In the literary field, as far as books are concerned, I have no doubt that the current trend indicates a decay in the ability to write. People who feel that what they write will not get a market if it is decent stuff have come to the conclusion that there is a market for sex, sensationalism and degeneracy. This is regrettable, but when we get an opportunity to protest we should do so. We should pot be deterred by the so-called intellectuals who assure us that any form of censorship is unjustified.
About 20 years agoI knew the late Senator Donald Cameron, who was Postmaster-General. Me had been all round the world and he always believed that dirt should be treated as dirt. When people offended on radio he put them off the air. Today we have the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. One of its duties is to see that an excessive amount of advertising does not appear on television screens. 1 sometimes wonder whether the Board is carrying out that duty. But it has a far more important duty - the duty to see that ordinary decencies are preserved on our television screens. J hope that the Board will take drastic action in this case.
– 1 am reluctant to intrude at this stage, but I waited to see whether the matter was concluded when Senator McManus sat down becauseI had hoped that Senator McClelland, of the Opposition, would rise to rebut the claims made by Senator McManus. Over the last few years we have learned to expect from Senator McClelland a fierce defence of the integrity of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, that the intellectual licence of its members should be preserved, that the instinct of drama should have free expression and that this is the sole area of dramatic integrity available to the Australian electorate. Senator McClelland has remained silent. I would have expected him to rebut the matters to which Senator McManus drew the Senate’s attention tonight. I did not see the programme that Senator McManus mentioned. At least it was a dramatic exposition of some of the areas of uncontrollability into which the so-called intellectual Australian drama has intruded. 1 thought that the description of the programme, asgiven by Senator McManus, was quite disgusting.
The answer lies with members of the Opposition who have been espousing the cause of the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
The Senate must be concerned with the extent to which a permissive society allows the Australian Broadcasting Commission to go. What is the path for those people who present and use the resources of society, sponsored and economically and financially sustained by government? What is the road of the so-called permissive society that the Australian Broadcasting Commission has allowed to be extended? At what point does the management of the Australian Broadcasting Commission stop and say tha: this is far enough? In the final analysis, to what extent does Parliament intrude? lt is good enough to say that the Australian Broadcasting Commission is not under the control of Parliament - and it is true- -because Parliament, as far as I am aware, has never exerted control over the Commission. But does there exist in the Parliament itself an area in which to take a stand? What is the extent of permissive licence by the so-called artistic expressions? These are questions thai I ask and to which I direct the attention of honourable senators on the other side who espouse the freedom of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. For several years we have remained silent on this matter. The question of whether we should remain silent or not only now comes into perspective as a result of the case quoted by Senator McManus.
– The honourable senator is not implying that the Opposition supports disgusting programmes, is he?
– Time and time again I have heard the Opposition demand a freedom and a licence for the Australian Broadcasting Commission because the dramatic instincts of the artists must have free expression. Tonight Senator McManus gave an illustration of the dramatic expression of the artistic capabilities.
– There comes a time when silence is no longer silence but weakness.
– I agree that there comes such a time. Tonight Senator McManus at least made out a prima facie case that silence must no longer be regarded as a measure of dispassion but as cowardice I think Senator McManus has done a service to the community and to Parliament by raising the matter in a dramatic way tonight. 1 hope ii is not len at this stage. 1 had hoped that some member of the Opposition would attempt to rebut the c.-ise, but honourable senators opposite have remained silent.
– Senator Cormack has challenged me to come into a rebuttal of the programme which apparently appeared recently on ‘This Day Tonight’ as has been stated by Senator McManus. During the course of Senator McManus’ remarks he challenged me to make a statement as to what I or the members of the Opposition thought about the programme.
– I rise to order. I made no challenge to Senator McClelland.
– I did not say that you made it.
– You did.
– 1 am sorry. While Senator McManus was speaking Senator Cormack, by way of interjection, challenged me to state on my own behalf and on behalf of the Opposition what we thought of the programme. Frankly, I have not said anything about the programme nor do I intend to say anything about the programme because I have not seen it. nor have I heard any particular complaints from any constituents about it. Unlike Senator Cormack, therefore, 1 am not going to talk about things 1 have not seen or about which I have had no complaints. But if the programme was as bad as Senator McManus has painted it, then certainly I would agree that it must be looked at from the point of view of how it affects the family life of the community. Obviously Senator Cormack has not been in the Senate on occasions when matters affecting the Australian Broadcasting Commission have been dealt with. I refer Senator Cormack to the ‘Hansard’ report of my speech on the last Budget and my speech on the estimates of the Australian Broadcasting Commission because I have been one of its most constant critics of the type of programme that it has been present ‘ng so far as dramatic features are concerned. But if this type of programme to which Senator McManus has adverted this evening is going to be investigated by the Government then I would also hope thai the Government would decide to have a look at some of the horrid, sordid, trashy, sadistic, sexy and cheap imported programmes of a so-called dramatic nature that are being peddled in this country cheaply by overseas interests. These are depriving Australian actors, writers, producers and technicians of a decent livelihood and depriving them of opportunities to develop their talents and capacities. If, as Senator McManus has said, there are writers in Australia who have had to engage in oversensationalism in order to get their product on to the Australian market then I suggest it is because they have had to compete with this sordid, horrid, trashy, cheap imported material. I would suggest that the time is long overdue - and I have suggested in this Parliament for some considerable time - that the Australian Broadcasting Control Board should be exerting a greater influence on and a greater control over the affairs of the private televison stations than they have been exerting since television was introduced in this country in 1956.
[10.49] - I think tonight we are indebted to Senator McManus for bringing this particular programme before us. I did not see it and this is the first occasion on which I have heard any comment concerning such programme. But I listened with horror as the honourable senator described it, particularly as it was shown, as he said, in a period of viewing time when there were families and children watching. I believe that we are all concerned at this description of the programme which the honourable senator has given us tonight. I will take this matter up personally with the PostmasterGeneral (Mr Hulme) and inform him of the feeling expressed by honourable senators concerning this programme.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 10.50 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 15 April 1969, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1969/19690415_senate_26_s40/>.