26th Parliament · 2nd Session
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) took the chair at 2 p.m., and read prayers.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister for the Army give the Senate a full and frank statement concerning the allegations of happenings at the Duntroon Royal Military College with regard to the treatment of certain cadets by other cadets?
– I inform the honourable senator that towards the end of the week before last the Minister for the Army received from a private source some advice that excessive bullying was occurring at Duntroon. He immediately asked the Secretary of the Department to investigate the matter. At that stage a letter dated 25th August had been addressed to the Commandant by Mr Walsh, a lecturer in history, on the College staff. This letter was delivered to the Commandant on the night of 29th August, when he returned from a selection board in South Australia to take part in a committee meeting on Monday, 1st September. Immediately prior to that meeting the Commandant spoke to the Dean, Sir Leslie Martin, and subsequently to Mr Walsh. It was decided that the first available date on which action in relation to Mr Walsh’s letter could be taken was Friday, 5th September, as the Commandant had to interview further candidates in South Australia between Tuesday, 2nd September, and Thursday, 4th September. This also permitted copies of Mr Walsh’s letter to be distributed to senior academic staff and other College officers for the purpose of discussion at the meeting to be arranged.
The meeting was held on Friday, 5th September, at which heads of the academic departments, the senior military officers of the College, the Dean and the Commandant considered the contents of Mr Walsh’s letter. As a result of this meeting a board of inquiry was convened immediately. The terms of reference were agreed to on Saturday, 6th September, and the board held its first meeting on Monday, 8th September. There was a meeting of the academic staff on 10th September. The board consists of Lieutenant Colonel Hosking, the Officer-in-Charge of Administration, Major Wills, a member of the administration staff, and Mr Hill, Senior Lecturer in History. The terms of reference have been published already. I assume that they are known to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and to the Senate, but it will not take a minute to read them. The terms of reference are:
– Last week I asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate about the arrest of a foreign fishing vessel off the Queensland coast and he thought he would be able to get information for the Senate. This morning there was a report of the arrest of another foreign fishing vessel just off Cooktown. That vessel is being escorted to port at the moment. Could the Leader of the Government give the Senate any information about these two arrests?
– The Minister for Primary Industry will be making a statement on the matter during the course of the afternoon. In fact, just as Senator Lawrie finished his question, a copy of that statement was put into my hand. I would like to have it looked at. Perhaps the Minister who represents the Minister for Primary Industry in this place will seek leave at the conclusion of question time to read that statement which will bring out facts that ought to be made known in relation to this matter. If there were any risk that leave would not be given to do that, I would answer the question now, but I think it would be far better for the statement to be looked at before it is presented to the Senate.
– I address a question 10 the Minister representing the Minister for the Army. Were forty of the academic staff of the Royal Military College who attended a meeting over the system known as ‘bastardisation’ horrified at the brutal treatment of cadets? Did Sir Leslie Martin, Professor of Physics and Dean of the Faculty of Military Studies, say that because of what he had heard he was not sure whether to continue to allow his name to be associated with the college? Did the meeting record its disgust at the reports of humiliation and ill-treatment of new cadets? Will the Minister initiate a public inquiry to be attended by units of the Press so that the public will be given all the facts associated with this rather alarming situation in the Royal Military College at Duntroon?
– I regret that 1 have not detailed information with regard to what was said or resolved at the meeting of the academic staff on 10th September to which the honourable senator refers. Nor have I been informed as to any comments attributed to Sir Leslie Martin. Needless to say, I shall ask the Minister for such information as is available on that subject and will communicate it to the Senate. As to whether we would establish a public inquiry, f should think that that question is premature. I am able to say that the board of inquiry established up to date has already obtained evidence from three members of the academic staff, two chaplains, three members of the military staff and 35 of the 101 cadets of the junior class. The statements of the remaining members of the junior class will be taken as quickly as possible. After that file of evidence is compiled would be the appropriate time to make a responsible decision as to whether the situation calls for a public inquiry.
– I address a question to you, Mr Deputy President. When a senator is stood down from this chamber for a day, a week or 2 weeks, whatever the case may be, is there any accompanying deprivation of privilege, or salary, or allowances of that senator?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - To the best of my know ledge, when a senator is stood down or suspended from the Senate, he is not allowed to enter the Senate during the period of the suspension. On the other hand, he does not lose any of his parliamentary allowances during the period of suspension.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Army. Why has the Government tried to keep secret the Army inquiry now taking place at the Royal Military College, Duntroon, into allegations of brutality by senior cadets towards some junior cadets? Is it a fact that the Minister, Mr Lynch, knew that the inquiry had begun when he tabled the annual report on Duntroon last Friday? If so why did he not tell Parliament about it? In order to satisfy the extreme public disquiet about these allegations, will the Minister take action to open the present inquiry to the Press so that the truth can be determined under the closest public scrutiny?
– I refute completely any implication that there has been an endeavour on the part of the Minister for the Army to keep the inquiry secret. I read a detailed statement as to the way this matter developed. That showed that, as soon as the matter came to official knowledge, with great promptness an inquiry was established in the normal way.
– Of military personnel.
– Yes, of military personnel.
– To judge upon themselves.
– Not at all. There is i member of the academic staff on the inquiry; the Mr Walsh who reported the matter is a member of the academic staff; and we have heard from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Senator Cohen, today the implication that the academic staff joined Mr Walsh in the matter. I say to Senator Poke, as I said to Senator O’Byrne, that after the present inquiry - the normal board of inquiry involving departmental or College discipline - has assessed evidence and made a report to the Minister, that will be the appropriate time to make a decision as to whether a public inquiry is warranted.
– Does the Minister representing the Minister for the Army consider that the board of inquiry which has been constituted to hear complaints in respect of Duntroon that have now been made public, and which comprises two officers of the Army and an academic, is sufficient to allay the public disquiet at the system known as bastardisation as it exists in the Army?
– I consider the board of inquiry which has been set up and which consists of members of the staff and officers of the College to be the appropriate tribunal to make this inquiry. If the inquiry reveals matters that should be tested and inquired into in public, a decision will then be made upon the evidence collected by the present tribunal. I remind Senator Cavanagh that the tribunal that recently inquired into naval discipline on the ‘Melbourne’ was, according to the Service tradition, composed of officers of the Service.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Is the new Eastern Searoad Service between Australia and Japan in jeopardy because the Australian National Line is in operation without a viable partner? If that is so, is it correct that the reason for that is that the Japanese K Line has not been awarded a sufficient share of the trade to make it a profitable venture? If the K Line fails to put a new ship into the service, will the operations of the ANL’s container ship Australian Endeavour’ be seriously financially affected?
– I think I mentioned in the Senate recently, in reply to another question on this subject, that the K Line is having difficulty at present in obtaining an increase in its tonnage quota to enable it to participate as a full partner in the Eastern Searoad Service. However, I am pleased to be able to inform the honour able senator that negotiations by the K Line with the Conference concerned are proceeding, and I am hopeful that a satisfactory solution will be reached.
– I desire to direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. I ask him whether he remembers that on 14th August 1968, exactly one year to the day before the recent disastrous announcement by the Minister for External Affairs of the Government’s change in policy in regard to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, I asked him the following question:
As approximately 45% of Australia’s total trade and at least 80% of our total oil imports pass through the Indian Ocean and as British naval power, which has maintained the security of the Indian Ocean since the middle of the last century, will be withdrawn completely within 2 years, what steps does the Government propose to take to meet this situation?
In reply the Minister assured me of the Government’s ‘continuing interest in the security of the Indian Ocean area’ and stated that:
If I asked exactly the same question today would the Government place the same emphasis on United Kingdom defence commitments or would it now point to the interest of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as evidence of why we should not be unduly worried?
– The Leader of the Democratic Labor Party is asking me to reflect upon an answer that I supplied, as I understand it, on 14th August 1968. In broad terms I think that the answer I gave then would be consistent with what I would give now. But let us face the fact that we have to recognise that there are at times in the world in which we live differences in the degrees of emphasis on the various national commitments in the field of defence. I think in fairness to the honourable senator it would be proper to ask him to place his question on notice and I will get a reply for him. I would not suggest that the point he raises about the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is at all germane to the basic question that he asked.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. [ preface my question by referring to reports in yesterday’s newspapers of a statement by an eminent American nuclear physicist and Presidential adviser, Professor Hans Bertie. Did he say that Australia must ‘show the way’ to other countries and sign the Treaty on the NonProliferation of Nuclear Weapons? Did he also say that Australia, as a ‘most reasonable country’, should sign the Treaty as an example to other countries? If so, when will the Government get on side with America. Russia, Britain and the 92 smaller countries which have signed this most important Treaty?
– The Professor also said some other things which tended to argue in the opposite direction. I regret that I do not have the article here because I had my staff cut it out of the newspaper. As T recall, in addition to what the honourable senator quoted, Professor Bethe also pointed out that other countries in this area had neither signed nor ratified the Treaty. He also pointed to the problems associated with the non-signing of the Treaty as well as advocating the signing of it. Whilst it is fair enough for the honourable senator to take the side of the argument which supports his cause, nevertheless I think it was a more reasoned and rounded argument which the Professor made. Having said that, I now propose to re-read the article in the paper to see whether my general reaction to his comments was accurate. I felt that he made a rather ‘both ways’ comment when he spoke on the matter.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to reports in the Queensland Press at the weekend of oil slicks near the Barrier Reef resorts north of Mackay? Will a full investigation be made of these reports and will oil samples be tested to decide the origin of the oil? Will action be taken against any ship concerned if it is proved that ships tanks are being cleaned out in prohibited waters?
– I have seen the reports to which the honourable senator has referred. The Minister for Shipping and Transport has quite closely studied the reports regarding the oil slick seen near the Barrier Reef tourist resorts. However, the matter raised by the honourable senator comes within the jurisdiction of the Queensland Government as the oil pollution is entirely within Queensland’s territorial waters. The State Act provides for punitive action to be taken in such cases.
– My interest has been aroused by questions relating to the Royal Military College asked by Senator Cohen, Senator O’Byrne, Senator Poke and Senator Cavanagh. Can the Minister representing the Minister for the Army inform me how a letter written by Mr Walsh to the Commandant of the Royal Military College on 25th August 1969, relating to bullying in the College, came into the hands of a pamphleteer who has published the letter in full? Did the staff of the Commandant of the College give Mr Walsh’s letter to a Maxwell Newton publication?
– It is getting under your skin.
– No, it is not. Does Service procedure require that evidence of ill doing must be subjected to a court of inquiry to establish the facts and truth of the allegations? Does the Minister agree that evidence of truth must be established before disciplinary action is taken? I would like to add, from my personal experience as a member of many courts of inquiry in the armed forces, that Service officers seek without any limitation to establish the facts. Can the Minister inform me how a routine order of the Royal Military College came into the hands of Mr Maxwell Newton and has been published in facsimile?
– I have no information as to how Mr Walsh’s letter came into the hands of the pamphleteer referred to by Senator Cormack. That is not to say that we will not obtain information. T have no information as to whether or not the staff of the Commandant of the College gave the letter to Maxwell Newton. Senator Cormack asked whether Service procedure requires evidence of ill-doing to be established by a court of inquiry before disciplinary action is taken. The answer to that question is yes. The honourable senator also asked whether it is the tradition of Service officers in the conduct of courts of inquiry to be motivated by the purpose of establishing the truth. I was pleased to hear that Senator Cormack, from his Service experience, agrees with that view. It is in line with my own experience, and I am sure that it is in line with the experience of all other Service officers that there is an unquestionable tradition of integrity on the part of Service officers in the conduct of courts of inquiry to ascertain and reveal the facts.
– Has the Minister representing the Minister for Immigration noticed a report in the London Press relating to certain Australians acquiring Irish citizenship to circumvent the British Migration Act and to permit them to remain in the United Kingdom for an indefinite period? How can such action be recomciled with the Australian Citizenship Act of 1969? If Australians acquire Irish citizenship on this basis for career motives, what is their citizenship status if and when they ultimately return to Australia?
– I did see the comment in the Press to which the honourable senator has directed my attention and I have obtained some information to answer the points he has raised. Section 17 of the Citizenship Act has remained unchanged since the Act was passed in 1948. It provides that an Australian citizen of full age and of full capacity who, whilst outside Australia and New Guinea, by some voluntary and formal act other than marriage, acquires the nationality or citizenship of a country other than Australia shall thereupon cease to be an Australian citizen. As to the last point raised by the honourable senator, adult Australians in the United Kingdom who apply for and acquire Irish citizenship automatically cease to be Australian citizens. Upon return to Australia such persons may apply for registration as Australian citizens. The
Minister has discretionary power under section 12 (2) (c) of the Act to grant a certificate of citizenship to a former Australian citizen without necessarily requiring any fixed period of residence prior to application. Any such application would be considered on its individual merits, and it is not possible to foresee or to foreshadow the decision that would be reached.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Has she seen a report in today’s Canberra Times’ headed ‘Problems with Containers’ in which it is stated that the arrival of goods in containers poses a problem in the application and administration of the plant and animal quarantine regulations? Will the Minister assure the Senate that no containers from overseas will be allowed to be removed from the wharf area until after opening and inspection of the contents and, if necessary, fumigation to protect Australian plant and animal life from the risk of imported diseases and pests?
– Having seen the report referred to by the honourable senator I obtained some information from the Minister for Health in another place. He informed me that the Department of Health has been planning ahead for some years to ensure that while no unnecessary impediment is placed on the speedy movement of container cargoes, at the same time the quarantine precautions necessary will be observed fully. The Department of Health, after close conference with the Department of Customs and Excise and with industry, has produced a twenty-six page booklet entitled ‘Cargo Containers and Unit Loads - Quarantine Aspects and Procedures’. With these procedures there is no need to hold or open all containers in the wharf area. This publication, which sets out in detail the precautions which must be taken with cargoes moved by this new method, does protect Australia’s quarantine interests and is designed to ensure the continued relative disease free status of our livestock and plant industry. I think that information from the Minister answers the concern which the honourable senator feels and which I felt when I read the newspaper report.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Army. Is it true that a staff cadet at the Royal Military College, Duntroon, slashed his wrists in a suicide attempt on 1st September because of what is known as the bastardisation system in operation there? Is the cadet still in hospital in a severely depressed condition?
– As to any detailed incident referred to, I have not sufficient knowledge to give a responsible answer. I shall take the earliest opportunity to get such facts as should be made available at this stage and pass them to the honourable senator.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Army. Is it not a fact that conditions for entry by young men to the Royal Military College, Duntroon, are most exacting? Is it not a fact that the interviewing panel consists of senior officers and a psychologist and that the interview takes a whole day to properly assess the qualifications of the applicant? How is it, then, that a young cadet so chosen is reduced to attempting suicide because of conditions at Duntroon? Does not the Minister appreciate that this calls for an immediate public inquiry away from the control of officers who are themselves directly involved?
– I shall ascertain the facts as to the conditions of entry for cadets seeking admission to Duntroon and as to the composition of the interviewing panel and the time that it usually takes in the interviewing of applicants for admission. I wish to enter an emphatic protest against the implication of the next question of the honourable senator in which he imputes attempted suicide to any particular cadet. 1 mentioned in answer to a previous question that I refrain from giving answers in relation to that incident until 1 get a completely responsible statement as to any individual. Otherwise quite unwarranted reflections might be thrown upon an individual. I say in reply to the last question which refers, as five previous questions have referred, to the need for a public inquiry, that it would be quite irresponsible and premature for any high authority at this stage to decide on making this inquiry public. The reflection upon the integrity of the inquiring officers is entirely unwarranted and Senator Georges should withdraw any imputation against the members of that tribunal. They are officers holding responsible positions in a college that has a most worthy record and it is quite unwarranted that Senator Georges should impute that they will depart from traditions of integrity in holding this inquiry. I reassert that when the facts are fully investigated as they will be by this tribunal, and placed on record, then the Minister and the Government will make a decision which they will be prepared to debate in the Parliament as to whether or not the inquiry should be extended into a public inquiry.
– Has the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service been directed to the reported statement of the newly elected President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Mr Hawke, made in an address yesterday in which he said that the ACTU Congress had given the Executive a mandate to take a strong line in the penal clauses of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act and, further, that the ACTU policy is that no union is to pay any fines imposed under the Act? Does the Government regard this as a new approach by the ACTU after its Congress and an indication that the ACTU will be satisfied with nothing less than the repeal of the so-called penal clauses? If so, will the Government reiterate to the Senate, to the public and to the ACTU that while it is prepared to carry on discussions with a view to considering amendments to the penal clauses the Government is not prepared to repeal ali penal sanctions in the Act and is not prepared to bow to statements implying strike action if the penal clauses are enforced?
– I inform the honourable senator that I have given attention to the statement made by Mr Hawke to the effect that the Australian Council of Trade Unions would not be satisfied with anything less than the complete removal of the penal clauses. I think we can expect from Mr Hawke a responsible discharge of his very important duties as President of the ACTU. I would attribute to him a comprehensive understanding of the responsibility that is implied in that office for the welfare of industry and particularly of the employee sections of industry.
My colleague Senator Greenwood will be aware that the Minister for Labour and National Service and the Attorney-General published a statement about a week ago relating to a communication to the ACTU suggesting certain variations of the penal clauses but, of course, not in the slightest degree accepting any suggestion that there could be an arbitration system without some legal enforcement provisions. The expression ‘penal clauses’ is only a synonym for legal enforcement provisions’. As to a statement of Government policy, I shall refer the question to the Minister for a definition on an occasion of his choosing. We would all recognise that an answer to an impromptu question is not the occasion for me, as only the Minister’s representative in this place, to define policy.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, ls it a fact that LieutenantColonel Hosking of the Royal Military College, Duntroon, has invited members of the military and academic staff of the College to give evidence before the board of inquiry and has stated that the board will try to accommodate each member as far as possible in relation to submissions to the board of inquiry? Is the Minister personally satisfied that this sort of call accords with the rights of serving servicemen under military law to settle grievances between a serviceman and the Department of the Army? Will he ensure that everybody concerned is advised that every serviceman who wants to give evidence before the board of inquiry will be fully protected in whatever submissions he makes to the board?
– I know that the board of inquiry has invited evidence from present cadets and past cadets. It has actually stated that any 4th class cadet who has left the Service during 1968 and 1969 and wishes to give evidence in Canberra will be afforded facilities to come to Canberra and his expenses will be paid. I should think that the board would be very willing also to accept any evidence from members of the general public who have knowledge of the matters that are being inquired into. I would be completely satisfied that any person who submits himself to give evidence before the tribunal will have nothing to fear, that there will be no fear, favour, affection or ill-will, and that he will not be prejudiced in the slightest degree by giving, as I hope he will do, fearlessly and straightforwardly, evidence of truth.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Army. Bearing in mind that the board of inquiry into allegations of bastardisation began taking evidence at the Royal Military College, Duntroon, over a week ago, can the Minister say when it is expected that the report will be received in order to determine whether a public inquiry will be held? Will the Minister indicate to the board of inquiry that he wants the report to be in his possession in sufficient time to enable him to study it and make a statement to the Parliament before it is prorogued?
– From some 40 years of court experience I would say that a most important consideration in any ascertainment of evidence and adjudication upon evidence is to ensure that the job is done carefully. Witnesses must be given sufficient time to prepare their evidence prior to coming before a tribunal. I would say that the second thing that should be borne in mind as a cardinal consideration in an inquiry of this sort is that the members of the tribunal should not be unduly hastened or influenced in their consideration of the report. Having regard to these two precautions as the uppermost considerations to ensure an impartial and complete collection of evidence, I shall inform the Senate-
– The Minister is frightened of what will come out of it.
– Despite the fact that the honourable senator who asked the question is now barking an interjection at me in the hope that he will override my voice, I will give him an assurance that, consistent with the requirements I have mentioned, the Minister will ensure that the report of the tribunal will come before the Parliament at the earliest possible opportunity.
– d direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, ls it not customary for Army officers to conduct military boards of inquiry? Does the suggestion of the Australian Labor Parly today that there should be a public inquiry not indicate a lack of confidence on its part in the ability and the fair conduct of the Army officers concerned?
– The honourable senator’s question certainly conveys a correct impression. When a question affecting the discipline or conduct of any of the Services arises, before any public jugment is made or punishment imposed an inquiry is conducted by officers of the Services upon whom rests the responsibility for upholding the traditions of the Services. I remind the Senate-I hope not without advantage - that when a public inquiry was held into the ‘Voyager’ collision it was not satisfactory in the final result and a second public inquiry had to be conducted. On the other hand, to my knowledge there has not been one word of criticism or any dissatisfaction expressed in relation to the inquiry that was conducted in the traditional manner by Service officers into the recent ‘Melbourne’ collision.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for the Army. In view of the CSC policy directive that was referred to by the Minister-
– Prom what is the honourable senator quoting?
– From a publication of the public benefactor, Maxwell Newton, who seeks to rectify injustices. 1 ask: In view of the fact that the CSC policy di recti ve-
– What does ‘CSC mean?
– The Minister referred to it. I suppose it has something to do with staff colleges. I repeat that the CSC policy directive states that the training of fourth class cadets is to be carried out only to the extent that it achieves the means outlined in the directive and is to be within the limitation that there is to be no bodily harm or physical violence to a junior cadet. There is no mention of mental harm.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! Let the honourable senator ask his question.
– One of the terms of reference of the board of inquiry, as read out by the Minister, is to ascertain whether any task contravenes the CSC policy directive. Would this term of reference cover the question whether or not any action that has been publicised has resulted in mental, injury?
– The answer to the question whether or not the occasioning of mental injury would be within the terms of reference of the board of inquiry is undoubtedly yes. 1 ask (hat the rest of the question be put on notice.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Army. Within the past 2 years have any reports been received of bullying of apprentices or of other instances of unsatisfactory conduct at the Balcombe Army Apprentices School in Victoria? What action was taken following these reports? Are there any figures available showing how many apprentices have resigned because of the intolerable bullying alleged to have been carried out by older members of that establishment during their apprentice training?
– At present I have no knowledge of any such allegations, but it would be fair to remind myself and the honourable senator that I have seen no reference to a suggestion of complaints with regard to conduct of the Victorian Army Apprentices School. Therefore I would not expect that I would have knowledge of routine matters that may have come to the notice of the Department within the last 2 years. I shall take the earliest opportunity to refer the inquiry to the Minister who no doubt will give early information on the matter.
– Has the Leader of the Government in the Senate noticed that during the whole three quarters of an hour of today’s question time the Opposition has asked questions about the affairs of the Duntroon Royal Military College? Is the Minister aware that this is the first occasion this year on which a question relating to the College has been raised by the Opposition? At this time does the Minister, on behalf of the Government, feel confident that no other matters in Australia’s economic affairs worry the Opposition so much as do the affairs of the Duntroon Royal Military College?
– That fact has not gone unnoticed. I have noted that most of the questions have been directed to the Minister representing the Minister for the Army. Since we are on the air I am sure the great listening public will draw the same conclusion that I have drawn: This has become a question not so much in relation to Duntroon but in relation to what political mileage the Opposition can gel from it.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. Apart, from censorship standards, does the Minister exercise any control over imported paperback books? In particular, will he investigate the recent practice of the New English Library paperback publication group which charges $1.1 5 for a book of 224 pages? Is he aware that virtually all other paperbacks exceed 300 pages before they are defined as giant paperbacks and cost more than 80c? I have in my hand a sample of the type of publication about which I spoke.
– The Department of Customs and Excise and myself, as Minister, administer Acts in relation to the censorship of imported books. Imported books that are obscene and indecent are prohibited imports. I ask the honourable senator to put on notice that part of his question about the price of various types of paperbacks and I will obtain an answer for him.
– La addressing a question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Army, I also refer to the disgraceful allegations now being investigated by a board of inquiry at the Royal Military College. Is this the first inquiry into brutal and sadistic treatment of cadets at the College? Or have there been previous incidents and allegations hushed up by the Army and the Government? Further, have any boards of inquiry been set up to inquire into similar allegations in relation to any other Army establishment?
– I am not sure that I correctly heard one expression that emanated from the honourable senator. I thought I heard him ask whether or not there had been previous inquiries and whether they had been hushed up by the Government. I noticed in the honourable senator’s tone of voice an imputation that was offensive. On behalf of the Government I completely refute that any inquiry has been hushed up by the Government. I have no information as to any previous inquiries, but I shall take the earliest opportunity of getting whatever information I can and giving it to the honourable senator.
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General whether she has seen a statement in the Australian’ of today’s date attributed to Mr Hulme, Postmaster-General, that there should be a telephone in every room of every house in Australia. Will the Minister ask the Postmaster-General to give top priority to giving the 45,000-odd telephone users in Australia who cannot use their phones at night time or at week-ends just one telephone in one room of their houses which they can use for 24 hours of the day on 7 days a week at the earliest possible date?
– I did see the newspaper item to which the honourable senator referred. 1 believe it related to a speech that was made by the Postmaster-General when opening the Post Office Research Laboratories. However, 1 would draw the honourable senator’s attention to a statement further on in the speech in which the Postmaster-General said that in the next 5 years it was expected that almost S2,000m would be expended on expanding the telecommunications services. I also recall later in his speech that the Post Office proposed to spend $352m on capital equipment during this financial year. I am quite certain that there will be a continuation of that expansion of this service which is so necessary in the community that we have seen during the period during which Mr Hulme has been Postmaster-General, and that the areas about which Senator Lawrie expresses concern will be given consideration.
– Has the Minister representing the Prime Minister seen Press reports indicating that the recent meeting between the Russian and Chinese Prime Ministers was due to strong pressures within both countries to seek a reconciliation between the two powers? If these initial moves should prove successful, will this alter the Australian Government’s readiness to enter into negotiations for security arrangements in South East Asia with the Soviet Union? Will it also mean that the Government will indicate its readiness to discuss similar arrangements with Communist China?
– The honourable senator’s question starts off by referring to a reported meeting between the heads of State of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and China. His subsequent questions are consequential upon the first one. Quite obviously I cannot reflect upon a Press report of what took place or what would be the implications of a meeting between Russia and China and I do not think the honourable senator would expect me to.
– I address a question to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Could the Minister indicate the approximate date on which the Government will determine its attitude to the proposal of the Queensland Government to assist in establishing a power house in Central Queensland? Will the Parliament be afforded the opportunity of determining its attitude to any arrangements made to ac commodate the Queensland Government in this regard prior to any public announcement by either the Commonwealth or State governments?
– This question touches on relationships between the Commonwealth and the State of Queensland. I do not have the information that the honourable senator seeks. I suggest that he put the question on the notice paper, and then I will take it up and see what information I can obtain for him in relation to the matter. However, I am sure that the Senate will appreciate that where there is a matter as between the Commonwealth and a State it is not the practice - nor would we want it to be the practice - for statements to be made other than those made simultaneously by the Commonwealth and the State.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Has the Australian Government yet received confirmation of the reports, said to emanate from VicePresident Ky and confirmed by the United States Senate Majority Leader, Senator Mike Mansfield, that the United States will withdraw a further 40,000 of its troops from Vietnam by the end of November? Are Australian troops to remain in Vietnam indefinitely and without any statement of Government policy, whilst United States troops are being progressively withdrawn, or will the Australian people have to wait until after 25th October for the new Labor government to announce Australia’s intention to withdraw all our armed forces from that country?
– If I may respond in kind, as it were, let me say that if any decision has to wait until the arrival of the next Labor government, that is a rather Kathleen Mavourneen sort of approach. As to the substance of the question that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has asked me, I can say that the United States Government has not yet made an announcement; the Australian Government is keeping itself informed of the developments; and the Australian Government will make its position clear in the light of developments as soon as it is practicable so to do.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry explain why New Zealand grown potatoes are now selling in the city of Canberra at 2c per lb while Crookwell potato growers are digging in their potato crops?
– I have no knowledge of the price at which New Zealand potatoes are selling in Canberra or of Crookwell potato growers digging in their potato crops. If the honourable senator places his question on the notice paper, I will obtain an answer to it from the Minister for Primary Industry.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral. As the first public reports of the Duntroon scandal, as it is now being called, were made by the Maxwell Newton Publications organisation, does the Government plan to have more raids carried out on Mr Newton’s offices and home, or has it become wary of this type of move following the severe setback it received in the courts? ls the Government planning a witchhunt among the staff at Duntroon or in the Department of the Army so that the person who leaked out this damning information can be pilloried in the same way as Mr Graeme Pratt was before the judiciary finally stepped in to save him from Government vengeance?
– The honourable senator’s question is completely irresponsible and borders on the disreputable when it suggests that the Government would engage in a witchhunt against the staff of Duntroon. I refute any such unworthy imputation as strongly as I can. The relationship between the Government and Mr Maxwell Newton is better known to the honourable senator than it is to me.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, concerns the Fill aircraft. Is it likely that the report of the committee which went to the United States to determine questions related to the suit ability, amongst other things, of the Fill aircraft will be received in the Senate prior to the consideration in Committee of the estimates of the Department of Air?
– All I can say is what 1 have said here in the last few days; that a committee did go to the United States, that it did carry out an investigation into a series of matters and that it is reporting to the Government. Until that report has been considered by the Government I am not in a position to make any further comment in relation to the matter.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Army. Returning, without apologies, to Duntroon I ask: Was Cadet Richard Wolf discharged from the Royal Military College, Duntroon, in January 1968? Did this cadet spend the last 5 weeks of his service in hospital after 2 days of treatment by his sectional corporal? Is the statement in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ today, that the cadet was a bundle of nerves for 3 months after discharge, correct?
– This question again refers to a particular individual. 1 am not in possession of complete facts about the matter. In order to act responsibly towards the honourable senator and in the public interest I ask him to place the question on notice.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation. In order to give practical application to the phrase ‘social welfare has an honoured place in the 1969 Budget proposals’, will the Minister consider recommending to the Government that the maximum loan for war service homes be increased from the present inadequate amount of $8,000 to an amount in the vicinity of $12,000?
– Firstly, may I direct the honourable senator’s attention to the point that he is directing his question to the wrong Minister. 1 happen to be in the Senate the Minister representing the Acting Minister for
Repatriation but the Minister for Repatriation does not administer the war service homes scheme. The honourable senator should have addressed his question to me as Minister for Housing. I will reply to him in that capacity. The honourable senator will recall that the maximum amount of loan was increased by legislation which went through this House last November. The honourable senator now inquires about a further increase. This, of course, is a matter of Government policy and will always be considered in that light.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Will the Minister inform Senator Webster, so that he in turn can inform his good friend Sir Henry Bolte, the Premier of Victoria, of what the Government proposes to do to solve the latest crisis in Commonwealth-State relations arising from the High Court judgment delivered last Friday which invalidates some sections of the States’ stamp duties Acts? Has this not seriously embarrassed the Liberal Premier of Tasmania whose deception to achieve power is further revealed? Did the Premier of New South Wales, Mr Askin, say that the receipts tax had been forced on the States by the Federal Government’s refusal to give back enough of the tax revenue which was raised in the States? Is this just one more crisis which has befallen the Government less than 6 weeks before the general election? Will the Government give urgent consideration to the problem faced by the States in this important area of revenue collection?
– I am asked by the honourable senator to refer to Senator Webster who is in turn to refer to the Premier of Victoria, and many other people would also be involved. The honourable senator’s question is built around a decision of the High Court given in the last few days. All I can say is that the Commonwealth is considering the judgment. Until the Commonwealth has had a proper opportunity for such consideration it would be inappropriate to make any further comment.
– My question, which I direct to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, concerns the Fill aircraft. Will the Minister agree that in the absence of a clear understanding of the future position of the Fill aircraft, honourable senators will not be able to do justice to a proper consideration of the estimates of the Department of Air? If the Minister agrees, in anticipation of a report being made to the Senate - as I believe was promised - will he defer consideration of the estimates of the Department of Air until that report is received in the Senate?
– I have made it perfectly clear that the Government must accept the responsibility for consideration of any report that is made by senior officers in respect of the Fill aircraft. Under the form of government which operates in this country, it cannot be any other way. It is true that the Senate is currently dealing with the Estimates. It is equally true that another place, in which sit the Minister for Defence and Minister for Air, has already disposed of the estimates for the Department of Air. No doubt the question of Australia’s purchase of the Fill aircraft was raised in the other place and I have no doubt that it will be raised in the Senate during the Estimates debate. However, in this instance and in any other instance I do not think you can properly pre-empt a decision that the Government must take and for which it must accept responsibility.
– While the Minister representing the Minister for the Army is having inquiries made into the discharge of Richard Wolf from the Royal Military College - the matter referred to in the question I have placed on the notice paper - will he also have inquiries made into the allegations contained on page 12 of the valuable publication of my informer, Mr Maxwell Newton, about other examples of brutality? For instance, I refer to an instance earlier this year of a staff cadet being admitted to the Royal Military College hospital suffering from asthma.
– Is the honourable senator vouching for the correctness of this?
– 1 am asking the Minister whether he will make inquiries. If I were making accusations 1 would need to vouch for them. The condition of the staff cadet is said to have been induced by alternate hot and cold showers resulting from bastardisation. The cadet remained in the College hospital until he recovered and was then discharged from the Army. A second allegation is that in 1968 a fourth class cadet was admitted to the RMC hospital and remained there for about 4 months. It is said that he suffered a nervous collapse induced by 3 hours of continuous hazing inflicted on him by a senior cadet. I also ask the Minister-
– 1 rise to a point of order. What is the question?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - The honourable senator is asking it now.
– 1 also ask the Minister to inquire whether it was not an offence if the senior officer responsible for the treatment was not intelligent enough to know that hazing could cause physical damage, and in that case would not be liable to punishment for giving the instruction?
– The answer to the honourable senators question is yes. But I am bound to add that I regret the reflection that the honourable senator made with regard to the intelligence of an officer. I add further, in relation to his reference to informers, that public informers have not enjoyed a high reputation in history.
– My question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate, which is supplementary to that asked by Senator Devitt, concerns the way in which the Senate is to deal with the estimates for the Department of Air. Will the Minister not agree that it is an extremely unsatisfactory position for the Senate to have to deal with the estimates for that Department without having some firm indication from the Government about future financial commitments on the F1 1 1 aircraft?
– J raise a point of order, Mr Deputy President. According to the forms of the Senate which relate to the arranging of business Senator Cohen, the acting Leader of the Opposition, may direct attention to the matter he has raised when the arrangement of business is under consideration. He should not occupy question time by asking questions of this nature. I suggest that his question is out of order and should not be allowed.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- I uphold Senator Cormack’s point of order.
– Will you hear me on it, Sir?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Yes.
– With respect. I suggest that the first question was allowed. It related to the Government’s intentions for disposing of this item of business in the absence of some firm report on the FI 1 1 following the mission to the United States. Surely I am entitled to press the Minister to ensure that we are not left in an unsatisfactory position as a result of his answer. Whilst I concede that Senator Cormack may be entitled to his point of view on whether this question will elicit the information that I hope it will, nevertheless T suggest that it is plainly in order.
– I have not any inhibitions about responding to the question. I accept the point made by Senator Cormack that it may well have been a more appropriate time to raise this matter when we were dealing with the estimates.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - A re you speaking to the point of order now?
– I am just giving the preamble to a response. I am not reflecting upon your ruling or anything else. 1 have nothing to add to what has been said already to Senator Devitt. What may well relate to the estimates for the Department of Air, and indeed the FI 1 1 aircraft, could relate to a whole host of other things which arc currently under examination.
– Not as important as this one.
– That is a personal judgment. Now we are moving away from the classic question to a personal judgment by Senator Devitt and Senator Cohen. For instance, there could be a situation in relation to the estimates for the Department of Shipping and Transport in which an inquiry was going on into the loss of a ship and it was suggested, hypothetically at any rate, that the debate on those estimates should be deferred until we had the finding of the inquiry. ( could give a thousand examples in the twenty-six ministerial portfolios. The point at issue is that if the information is not available when the estimates are being dealt with the Committee then has to make a decision on what it will do.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! I point out to the Senate that I think that question time is getting a little out of order in that questions contain too much information. T upheld the point of order taken by Senator Cormack because I think that question time is a time to seek information or to press for action. Those are the criteria that T look for in a question. Far too many senators give too much information in the preamble to a question instead of getting on with it.
(Question No. 1360)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
What responsibility has the Commonwealth Government for ensuring that the domestic airlines have sufficient aircraft to meet the demands of the business offering.
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
The Government takes a close interest in the equipment programmes of the domestic airlines under the two airline policy. The airlines are expected lo arrive at their own commercial assessments of the market before they submit their proposals to the Minister for Civil Aviation. Nevertheless the considerable stake of the Commonwealth in civil aviation in this country demands that any proposals are most carefully examined to take account of their effect on the stability of the industry and their implications with regard to expenditure on aerodromes and facilities.
Where the Government has been satisfied that the aircraft equipment programmes of TransAustralia Airways and Ansett Airlines of Australia are soundly based it has facilitated the raising of loans in view of the substantial costs of modern aircraft, lt has guaranteed loans raised by the Ansett group of airlines and raised loans for similar purposes on behalf of TAA. Such action will be required in respect of the jet re-equipment programme announced by the Minister for Civil Aviation in May 1969. This programme will add extensive capacity to each operator’s fleet between 1970 and 1972 and represents the second stage of the domestic airlines jet re-equipment programme. The Government approved an accelerated delivery programme which the airlines had submitted as being necessary lo cope wilh rapidly expanding traffic on the major competitive routes.
(Question No. 1423)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
In view of the Minister’s concern for the financial position of the Australian National Line will he, before increasing freight charges, take steps to establish passenger and freight booking offices and such other administrative arrangements as are a normal function of such a business undertaking and thereby save substantial sums now paid as commission to the Line’s business competitors for these services.
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question: lt is not possible for the Australian National Line to carry out these functions at the present time. The Australian Coastal Shipping Agreement wilh major operators of shipping services on the Australian coast requires the Line to refrain from engaging in stevedoring operations in connection with coastal and territorial shipping services, or undertaking the booking or handling of cargo carried in its vessels in coastal and territorial shipping services. These functions are to be conducted by one or more of the Companies which are a parly to the Agreement.
The Agreement, which is embodied in the Australian Coastal Shipping Agreement Act, does not expire until 1976.
(Question No. 1210)
asked the Minister representing the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
– The Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs has provided the following answer:
(Question No. 1378)
asked the Minister representing the Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
During the last financial year, what proportion of the Commonwealth grant for Aboriginals was actually spent in establishing such people in their own business or in rural industries, and how many Aboriginals were so assisted.
-The Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs has furnished the following reply to the honourable senator’s question:
In the 1968-69 Budget, $10m was allocated for an Aboriginal Advancement Trust Account, and of this amount, $5m was set aside in a Commonwealth Capital Fund for Aboriginal Enterprises. In the last financial year, ending 30th June 1969, eighteen loan applications from Aboriginals were approved involving a total of $328,096.
(Question No. 1381)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
What action, if any, has been taken by the Federal Government on a proposition put forward by representatives of the Charters Towers City Council and the Dalrymple Shire Council, during the visit of the Federal Government Members Mining and National Development Committees to Charters Towers, in September 1968, to divert the waters of the Herbert River into the Burdekin River.
– The Minister for National Development has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
A submission suggesting treatment of the Greenvale nickel deposits and diversion of the waters of the Herbert River into the Burdekin River which was prepared by the Councils of the City of Charters Towers and the Shire of Dalrymple was presented to the Federal Government Members Mining and National Development Committees during their visit to Charters Towers in July 1968.
No action has been taken by the Commonwealth Government. Cases of this nature need to be presented by a State Government before they can receive formal consideration by the Commonwealth.
(Question No. 1407)
asked the Minister representing the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The Prime Minister has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
(Question No. 1433)
asked the Minister for
Customs and Excise, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
(Question No. 1456)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
– The Minister for Labour and National Service has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
– On 28th May 1969 Senator McClelland asked a number of questions relating to the recommendations by the Australian Council for the Arts for assistance to the film and television industry in Australia. The Australian Council for the Arts has advised the Prime Minister that the Council and its Film Committee had examined the recommendations put forward by the Vincent Committee, the Weeden Committee and by Lord Willis and that these were taken into consideration along with many other reports, recommendations and expressions of opinion from interested organisations and individuals.
The Prime Minister announced on 13 th August 1969 that the Government had accepted the recommendation of the Australian Council for the Arts that an interim council be established to investigate and report on the form and location of a National Film and Television Training School and had provided $100,000 for this purpose in 1969-70. The Prime Minister also referred to the Council’s plans to encourage the making and exhibiting of short experimental films and the provision of S200,000 for assistance in this direction in 1969-70. The Government is giving further consideration to other aspects of the Council’s report.
– On 28th August Senator Poyser asked the following question:
Can the Minister representing the Treasurer inform the Senate if or when the drought bonds legislation which was announced in last year’s Budget will be implemented? Is it the Government’s intention to proceed with this proposal or is the issuing of drought bonds to be quietly dropped.
I told Senator Poyser that I would seek the information from the Treasurer, but said that the suggestion of dropping the drought bonds scheme was inconsistent with the Government’s intention. The Treasurer has informed me that the legislation required to introduce drought bonds and to provide for the income tax concessions attaching to them is complex and has presented a number of difficulties. However, it is the Government’s intention to introduce the relevant Bills into the Parliament during the present sittings.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Pyrites Bounty Bill 1969
Sulphuric Acid Bounty Bill 1969
Cellulose Acetate Flake Bounty Bill 1969
Sulphate of Ammonia Bounty Bill 1969
Phosphate Fertilisers Bounty Bill 1969
Urea Bounty Bill 1969
Aged Persons Homes Bill 1969.
Report of Public Works Committee Senator PROWSE (Western Australia)I present the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works relating to the following proposed work:
Central Laundry and Sterilising Services at Canberra Hospital, Australian Capital Territory
I ask for leave to make a short statement.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The recommendations of the Committee are:
The Government should reconsider the proposed arrangements for providing laundry and central sterilising services to Australian Capital Territory hospitals with a view to:
– by leave - The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) said today that a fishing vessel flying the Nationalist Chinese flag had been apprehended this morning off Cape Melville, north of Cooktown. He said that Commonwealth Crown Law officials and officers of the Department of Primary Industry were considering the question of legal action.
Mr Anthony said he had been advised by the Navy and the Royal Australian Air Force that, after a 3-day search by HMAS Bayonet’, ‘Barbette’ and ‘Barricade’ and the RAAF, ‘Bayonet’ had apprehended the vessel this morning. ‘Bayonet’ had kept radar watch on the vessel, the ‘Fu Chi No. 1’, last night and had moved in at first light this morning. On sighting ‘Bayonet’, commanded by Lieutenant A. D. Vodick, the vessel had weighed anchor and headed outtosea.’Bayonet’ fired one round from its 40/60 mm Bofors gun across the vessel’s bow when it refused to stop. The vessel then dropped anchor. Mr Anthony said that Bayonet’ was escorting the vessel to Cairns and was due there tomorrow at. midday,
Motions (by Senator Anderson) - by leave - agreed to:
That Senator Laucke be granted leave of absence for one month on account of absence overseas.
That Senator Withers be granted leave of absence for one month on account of absence overseas.
Motion (by Senator Cohen) - by leave - agreed to:
That Senator Fitzgerald be granted leave of absence for one month on account of absence overseas.
Debate resumed from 12 September (vide page 804), on motion by Senator Anderson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- There being no objection I shall allow that course to be followed.
– These two Bills are similar. They are purely machinery in character and the Opposition does not oppose their passage. They become necessary because the two Acts in their original form would not have permitted the loans to be reopened on maturity; they would have had to be closed off. In the case of the Loan (Swiss Francs) Bill, a quite small amount - 60 million Swiss francs - is involved. The Loan (Canadian Dollars) Bill also relates to a small amount, in this instance$Can8.5m. The amendments proposed by these Bills will enable the conversion and re-enactment of the provisions relating to the loans as they are at the moment. We would have preferred that these loans be wound up. Of course, this would mean using overseas credit in order to do it. At the present time it is perhaps better to permit conversion, so the Opposition supports these two Bills for this purpose.
– in replyI thank the Opposition for enabling a speedy passage of these two Bills. I suggest that the question on the second reading be now put.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 12 September (vide page 804), on motion by Senator Anderson:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Debate resumed from 12 September (vide page 805), on motion by Senator Scott:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– In speaking to this Bill to grant financial assistance to Tasmania for the construction of irrigation works in the Cressy-Longford area I would say that we on this side of the chamber are pleased to know that, at long last, funds are being made available to enable this scheme to be put into operation. This is part of an overall plan to enable the fullest use of our water resources in Tasmania. As most people will know, in Tasmania we have been particularly fortunate in having the Great Lake water complex which gave birth to our first hydroelectric scheme, which in turn made it possible for us to encourage industries to come to our State. The Electrolytic Zinc Co. of Australasia Ltd was a consumer of the power which came from the original Great Lake scheme at Waddamana, and it was the proud boast of Tasmania that we could supply the cheapest electric power in the southern hemisphere. But as time has gone by the capacity of the Great Lake to supply the ever-growing needs of Tasmania has diminished to the extent where, after building the original dam to raise the level, it has been found necessary to construct another dam to raise the level further. This dam is in the course of construction. In addition, other projects have been embarked upon to feed water into and to divert water from adjoining lakes into the Great Lake.
Also it has been found to be economically feasible to harness the waters of the Derwent River and of Lake St Clair at the headwaters of the Derwent River. Through the King William Dam and various other dams along the Derwent, the waters of that river have been utilised by the HydroElectric Commission to supply the growing demand for power in Tasmania. But the interesting feature of this scheme is that previously the waters of the Great Lake flowed in a southerly direction down the Shannon River, which was the scene of the famous fishing area, the Shannon Rise.
– The honourable senator sounds like a fisherman.
– If I threw out a bait I would probably catch a cod. This diversion of the waters of the Great Lake in a northerly direction as against the traditional flow to the south and eventually into the Derwent River has brought about the basis for the present scheme which has been under consideration. This has been a magnificent engineering project in which the Great Lake has been tapped. It is almost as though a plug has been placed in the northern end of the lake to enable water to be released to the south through a pipeline into the turbines at the foot of the western tiers and into the Poatina power station.
– And spoilt the Shannon Rise.
– Virtually it has because the water no longer flows regularly. Somehow or other the Caddis moth has realised that man has changed the natural environment and it is not known whether the moth has gone elsewhere to carry on its annual activities of procreation and multiplication or whether it has died out as a species. It was a most uncommon species of moth, but not enough research has been done to enable us to know what has happened to it. The whole project we are discussing had a bearing on an important fishing festival to which people came from all over the Commonwealth to fish at the Shannon Rise, at the rise of the Caddis moth. As time has gone on and water has been diverted in a northerly direction it has eventually been taken from the tail race into the South Esk River and it has been re-harnessed at the Trevallyn dam, taken through another pipeline and put over the turbines at the riverside channelling station of the Hydro-Electric Commission which has a run of the river generating plant supplying into the grid approximately the amount of power that is needed for the Comalco Aluminium (Bell Bay) Ltd activities at Bell Bay. So we have this hydro-electric project in a perspective where the waters from the Great Lake which have been diverted are used twice after they are released from the lake through Poatina and through the Trevallyn scheme.
The background of this scheme goes right back lo 1900 when there was the small concept of bringing the waters from Blackwood Creek. The district we are referring to now as the Cressy-Longford district was called the Blackwood Creek area. The original concept envisaged the construction of a race which would take in the waters of Back Creek and Blackwood Creek and so give an assurance of a water supply to some of the very fertile land in this valley in the Cressy district. I should point out that because of its location underneath a plateau which rises to over 4,000 feet above sea level it is a rain shadow area. This is despite the fact that 70 miles away as the crow flies the annual rainfall is approximately 120 inches a year. At Lake Margaret, which is out of Queenstown, and places like Zeehan and Waratah the rainfall is approximately 100 inches a year, but a short distance across the plateau to Poatina and Cressy is this rain shadow area. Evidently the precipitation bypasses it.
– What is the rainfall?
– The average rainfall in this area is 25 inches a year, which is perhaps an ideal rainfall for growing fine wool sheep and crops as well as for general farming. I would say that it would bc an ideal farming area because the rainfall is just right for clean farming. The parasites and other hazards that a farmer meets in high rainfall areas, such as foot rot, the various types of intestinal worms, blow fly strike and so on, are less prevalent in this area. I think it may be due to the fact that the area comes within the rainfall bracket of 25 inches. The rainfall is sufficient to provide natural pastures. The area lends itself very readily to pasture improvement. In some of the pockets of this area growers can lamb five ewes to the acre. It has also been noted for its production over the years of beautiful sappy beef and for dairying and crop growing. As a matter of fact, the area is really a farmer’s paradise. It has most of the advantages and a minimum of disadvantages. But even farmers on this wonderful land have their headaches. It is a matter of the size of the headache that one gets when engaged in farming anywhere.
The project has a history which dates right back to the beginning of this century. It will be an important development in this area of Tasmania. Those who have been responsible for bringing it to the stage of construction outlined in the Schedule to the Bill should be congratulated. The project will involve the construction of a channel system to carry water from the tailrace and such diversion control and gauging works as are necessary to divert, control and measure the water from the tailrace. Financial assistance will also be granted for the construction of such earthworks, cuttings, channel structures, culverts, siphons, check structures, cross structures, metering systems, drainage systems and other works as are necessary for regulating the supply of water throughout the system. Finance will also be provided for the construction of recording and measuring weirs and associated works to measure and record the quantity of water discharged from the system. lt will also be provided for the relocation of roads and services affected by the works, the carrying out of works incidental to any of the works referred to in the Schedule to the Bill and for the acquisition of land that is required for the carrying out of any of the works referred to in the Schedule to the Bill. The project will be comprehensive, although it will not be very extensive. The whole concept will comprise an area of 20,000 acres of which 7,000 acres will be irrigated. The Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott) pointed out in his second reading speech that about 70% of the area is already under some form of permanent improved pasture.
I suppose this project could be regarded as the beginning of a new era for Tasmania insofar as its relatively plentiful supply of water is concerned. However, 1 should point out that last year Tasmania experienced one of the worst droughts in its history. This was mentioned frequently in the Senate. But it is marvellous how quickly Mother Nature is able to cover up her aberrations. The rains come, the scars are covered up, the new grass comes through, the country becomes green again and people who were only shortly before in the grip of drought have the great hope that in the future things will always be right.
– They worry about bushfires then.
– That is true. It is either one thing or the other for people engaged in farming. Improving the carrying capacity of land has been one of man’s continuing responsibilities and one of the great challenges that agriculturalists have had to face. In the first place one has to decide whether one should allow the coarse grasses, scrub and even large trees to take the nutriment away from the soil. One has to decide whether to cut down trees, ringbark them or bulldoze them out and burn them in order to put in something that is more economically attractive. It comes down to a matter of choice. The regular supply of water for irrigation, which will be made possible under the scheme, will considerably affect the value of the production per acre. It has been assumed that the type of production which will be carried on in this area will be fat lamb raising and wool growing. This type of production is going on at present. Problems will arise that will have to be resolved. The AustraliaNew Zealand Free Trade Agreement will have to be watched. Just as we are finding it very important at present to watch the over-production of wheat, we will have to also keep an eye on the over-production of fat Iambs. Unfortunately, the United States and European markets are not as readily accessible as they should be.
The agreement that we have with New Zealand has disadvantaged the fat lamb growers. On the one hand we are supporting a scheme which will increase the production of certain commodities and on the other we are moving close to the plimsoll line insofar as intrusion into the field of over-production is concerned. The same thing applies to wool growing. Wool growing is quite a hazardous business today. Recently 1 saw figures which indicate that much more wool is being produced for a much lower income. This must be a great disappointment for the people who spend their lives in the wool industry. Mention has been made also of the growing of beef. Perhaps it could be argued that under the conditions and the climate which exist in the Cressy-Longford area premium beef could be grown. I should say that there would be a great demand for baby beef grown there. On the other hand, Tasmania has a population of only about 350,000 or 400,000 and therefore there would not be a demand in that State for increased beef production. Any increase in Tasmania’s beef production will have to be equated to the exports that can be made at a payable price.
Then we come to the alternative agricultural activities such as the production of peas for canning purposes or for dehydration or for freezing. In this chamber we have often heard fellow Tasmanians talk about the problems facing the bean and pea growers in our State. Whether or not the farmers in the proposed irrigation areas will engage in this type of activity we do not yet know. It has been said that Tasmania could become the vegetable garden of Australia. There is a lot of merit in this suggestion, particularly if one has in mind the north-west coast where the people interested in the deep freezing and other treatment of vegetables are expanding their activities. I think it is possible that in this area tremendous quantities of vegetables of all varieties, from the salad types such as asparagus and tomatoes, through the more solid types such as cabbages and cauliflowers, to the heavier types such as pumpkins and the like, could be grown in great profusion.
These matters will be worked out by the advisers of the Department of Agriculture in Tasmania. At this juncture 1 pay tribute to them because of the very close liaison they keep with the farming community. Over the last 30 years or so the extension services of the Department have revolutionised practically every section of farming in Tasmania. The introduction of the bull subsidy was very effective in improving the standard of our dairy and beef herds. Then the campaign to eradicate brucellosis and the introduction of different strains in the swine industry were of great assistance. Great improvements were effected in the poultry industry and in practically every other field of farming and agriculture generally. The matter of liaison between the Department and the farmers themselves has been looked on by the Department as one of great importance. It has provided officers to give personal advice and scientific advice to farmers. Following their traditional ways the farmers were not always keen to listen to the long hairs, but after these people proved their value they found that their services were availed of very regularly. The results are shown in the very high standard of most Tasmanian farms.
The overall picture of the scheme now under discussion is a most favourable one. This is a well designed and well conceived irrigation scheme. It is not big by international standards or even Australian standards, but perhaps it is a pilot scheme which will prove that this kind of irrigation can be carried on successfully even in places with a fairly good rainfall, such as Tasmania. We have already spent millions of dollars on the conservation of water for purposes of hydro-electric power generation and we have now entered the second phase, in which we will take the water before it reaches the sea and divert it on to the soil. There it will do its part in producing farm products and it will then percolate through the soil and back to the streams and be available for further use. Overall I view the scheme with great pleasure. I expect that it will make a valuable contribution to the future of Tasmania and will freely justify the confidence that has been reposed in our State. It will enable us to improve further our agricultural land that has been very well protected by good farmers in the past. We do not oppose the measure.
– I, too, rise to support the Bill. On this pleasurable occasion I find myself in complete accord with Senator O’Byrne. As he said, the history of this scheme, which comes to its legislative fulfilment in the Bill which we are debating, goes back to the early 1900s. However, it has been pursued more vigorously since the Poatina power station came into operation in the circumstances described by the honourable senator. It is interesting to note that Senator Henty, now Sir Denham Henty, was one of the first people in Federal Parliament to take an active interest in this scheme. He and the then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, inspected the area and, as I understand it, it was he who induced Sir Robert Menzies to take an interest in the area. Later the Tasmanian State Government put forward a proposal to the Federal Government. On reading the history of the matter, it would appear that the scheme failed to attract Commonwealth attention for two reasons. Firstly, it appears there was a lack of cooperation between the Hydro-electric Commission, which at that time was not prepared to go very far in guaranteeing a supply of water for the irrigation scheme, and secondly the State Government. The Commonwealth Government thought that without some reasonable guarantee of continuity of supply of water it was not worth while proceeding with the scheme. Secondly, as mentioned it appears that the project was rather inadequately investigated at that time and certainly the presentation of the submission by the Government of the day left a lot to be desired if the scheme were to be received and accepted.
Subsequently, in 1966, as a result of the Commonwealth Government’s offer of $50m for water conservation throughout Australia, the necessary impetus was given for those interested in water conservation in Tasmania to press again for their own pet schemes to be put forward for submission to the Commonwealth Government. In fact, four schemes were put forward. The Cressy-Longford irrigation scheme was one of these. At that time, in order to put forward a comprehensive proposal, it was decided to engage the services of consulting engineers, Messrs Gutteridge, Haskins and Davey. They produced a most thorough and commendable report. I think it is of some interest for honourable senators to hear the summary of the report they prepared. It is a very full report. It contains recommendations from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation in relation to soils, and from J. McColl and
Associates, a firm of management consultants, in relation to the economics of the scheme. The Bureau of Agricultural Economics also did an investigation. The consulting engineers put together a very thorough and very complete report. Their summary reads:
This Report reviews the proposed CressyLongford Irrigation Scheme, with particular emphasis on the agricultural aspects.
The possibility of this scheme came into being with the completion of the Poatina power station in 1964, bringing a plentiful flow of clean water from the Great Lake to the Cressy area. It is proposed to bring some of this water by channels and siphons to the relatively densely farmed and waterless Cressy-Longford valley. From an agricultural investigation it is concluded that the agricultural pattern over the District of 20,000 acres will change with irrigation from predominantly wool with some dairying to process peas, barley, sheep meats, and increased dairying.
If the capital cost of the scheme, estimated to be $842,000, is met from governmental sources, it is estimated that water will cost the farmer of a 250 acre farm from $5 to $6 per acre foot, and he will benefit by a net increase due to irrigation of almost $1,000 per annum on a mixed farm and $900 per annum on a dairy farm.
An assessment is made of the economics of this scheme over a life of 50 years by a benefit-cost study, which results in a ratio of 1.38 on a 5% discount and 1.185 on a 6% discount basis. This irrigation scheme is recommended as a sound, practicable and economic addition to the State’s agriculture.
That summary is fully borne out by the evidence contained in the report. Just to acid to those which have already been given in this matter a few facts which may be of interest, I refer to the fact that the area concerned is between 15 and 25 miles south and south west of Launceston and, as has been stated, consists almost entirely of relatively small farms and intensive agriculture. The rainfall and climate of the area are interesting. They might surprise some honourable senators because, although there is an average rainfall of 25.6 inches a year, only 5 inches falls in the November to March period. Therefore the need for irrigation to supplement that very meagre summer rain is quite obvious.
It is an area of good soil. It has been described by Senator O’Byrne as one of the very fortunate fanning areas of Australia. It is such, but, over the years, it has had one drawback. That drawback has been lack of summer rain and, because of it, it has experienced lack of ability to irrigate to make up for the lack of summer rain, with consequential drying off at an early time. This restricts carrying capacity and retards the growth which would otherwise be available. It is interesting to note that the average hours of sunshine per day in this area for the months of November, December and January is 9.4. This compares with Sydney, where the average is 7.4 hours per day and Melbourne where the average is 7.2 hours a day. Although the area is further south, it enjoys almost one-third more hours of sunshine than areas further north. This, of course, is one of the reasons why the addition of the necessary moisture to the soil in the area will, with the aid of that extra sunshine, stimulate growth in a way which it is anticipated will make a vast change in the productivity of the area.
In past years, as was also mentioned by Senator O’Byrne, we have seen the effect of drought in Tasmania. Many people tend to think of Tasmania as being a place where it rains a great deal, a place which has such a high rainfall as places such as Lake Margaret, but there are other areas, particularly in some of the farming districts, where they do experience drought to a greater or lesser extent. Of course, the severity of a drought has to be gauged in relationship to the normal situation because what might constitute a drought in one area constitutes good rainfall in another. The farmers who engage in agriculture in this area are accustomed to carrying stock in numbers which are capable of being carried in times of normally good rain, but when they suddenly get a severe falling off in the rainfall, they are caught heavily overstocked and the results of this are very severe indeed. The shortage of grass hay to supplement the feed available becomes acute, and the failure of crops which supplement the incomes of these types of farmers produces an acute situation. The net result is one of severe economic disturbance to the economy of the area. This has been experienced on a considerable number of occasions in the past 15 years in this particular area of the Cressy-Longford irrigation scheme. So one hopes that the very great losses which have been suffered in various parts of Tasmania will be partially overcome as the result of this irrigation scheme.
Speaking of irrigation schemes, there is one other which I would like to mention because, although it was not put forward for consideration at the time when the four proposals came from Tasmania for consideration for participation in the Commonwealth Government’s S50m water conservation programme, I have little doubt that the last has not been heard of such programmes. I have little doubt that they will be continued and that therefore there will be opportunity for further representations to be made on behalf of other schemes. One which appeals to me very greatly because of the very low capital investment in relation to the return available is that for the Deloraine-Westbury area involving the damming of a marsh known as ‘Jackeys Marsh’ about 16 miles south-west of Deloraine. The estimated cost of this dam is $800,000. It would store sufficient rain in wintertime to enable some 36,000 acres to be irrigated. When one bears in mind the possibility of irrigating 36,000 acres for an expenditure of $800,000, the return per dollar spent is very great indeed.
It has adequate winter rainfall. The runoff would flow into the Meander River which is already used for irrigating some 16,000 acres, but the present irrigation scheme is at times made hazardous by the uncertainty of the flow in the Meander River due to the fact that there is no controlled storage in the headwaters of the Meander. The control of the headwaters there would mean that the irrigation programme for the 16,000 acres already irrigated could be made stable and a further 20,000 acres could be opened up for irrigation. The Meander River flows through a rich agricultural area, one used for fat lamb and beef cattle production as well as for cereal crops, vegetable cropping and a wide variety of other types of intensive agricultural activity.
– Where is the Meander River?
– The Meander River flows from the Western Tiers south and southwest from Deloraine, through the towns of Deloraine and Westbury and past the area of Carrick, Hadspen towards Launceston. It joins up with the river which flows from the Longford area - the South Esk River - and they together flow down into the Trevallyn Dam and subsequently out into the Tamar River. The scheme is being supported by a committee comprised of repre sentatives of the Deloraine Council and the Westbury Council. Quite an amount of investigation work has been carried out in relation to it. I hope that this scheme will receive consideration for participation in a Commonwealth Government scheme for water conservation in Australia. On the face of it, it is a scheme from which the return in relation to the amount needed to be spent would be very high indeed.
As previously mentioned, I applaud the introduction of this Bill. I applaud the Commonwealth Government’s general water conservation programme. Since, I think, 1963, the Commonwealth Government, with the co-operation of the States, has undertaken an intensive survey of the water resources in Australia, a survey which is being shown to have been well worthwhile and most necessary. This Bill forms part of the overall scheme for improving the water resources of Australia, something which I believe honourable senators on both sides of the chamber will support wholeheartedly as being necessary for our development and even for our survival.
– As a resident of Tasmania, and as a representative in this Parliament of Tasmania, I too am pleased to see the Government introduce a measure of this nature. This scheme is a long felt want in this part of Tasmania. The $750,000 appropriated by the Bill for an irrigation scheme in the Cressy-Longford area is most welcome. It is the first grant that the Commonwealth Government has proposed making to Tasmania for irrigation. The only type of irrigation that we have had in Tasmania prior to the proposal that is now before this chamber has been that engaged in by private enterprise. Those of us who have travelled the highways and byways of Tasmania realise the value of the local irrigation schemes that have been installed by the various farmers. I know that Senator Rae has observed them in his travelling around the countryside. Particularly in the area in respect of which this grant is being made, where the farmers have irrigated, the countryside has responded magnificently. I think we all agree that the local irrigation schemes have been very worthwhile undertakings.
I think it is fair to say that Tasmania’s climate is partial to good growth, provided we can get the water into the areas. The area with which we are now dealing really needs the water for the growth that is necessary to improve the pastures. One of the reasons why Tasmania’s climate is partial to good growth following irrigation is the cool nights. We do not have that drying period during the night that some of the other Stales unfortunately have. According to information 1 have received on this point, most of the authorities on the growth of feed, vegetables and what-have-you say that a lot of the growth takes place at night following heavy watering during the day. I mention that for what it may be worth. I do not profess to have any great knowledge of this aspect because 1 am not and never have been accustomed to farming.
I refer now to the temperatures that are enjoyed in Tasmania. I have the good fortune of having with me a copy of the Pocket Year Book of Tasmania 1969’. It shows that the highest temperature ever recorded in Tasmania is 105.2 degrees, but the highest temperature recorded in Tasmania in 1.968 was only 96.2 degrees. So, we do not have to suffer the disability of sustained temperatures over the century mark, as do the people in certain parts of the mainland. I think it would be true to say that, if we did have a recording over the century mark, it would not occur more than once or twice in a summer.
Despite the ragging that we Tasmanians get about how cold Tasmania can be, surprisingly enough our minimum temperature is not as low as that in many other parts of the Commonwealth. The lowest temperature ever recorded in Hobart was 27.7 degrees, and that was in 1895. In 1968 the lowest temperature recorded was 32.3 degrees. So Tasmania is not as cold as many people say it is. These statistics fortify the point that I made a few moments ago, namely, that the climate in Tasmania is conducive to good growth during most of the year. I was very pleased to hear Senator Rae mention the drier period from November to March in the area with which we are dealing. Tasmania’s greatest problem is the drought conditions that sometimes exist during that period. 1 was also interested in .Senator Rae’s remarks about Jackeys Marsh, which has been known to me for many years. I agree with him that that area could well do with irrigation, which would bring a lot of country into production whereas it is now unable to produce because of the lack of water. Whilst realising that Jackeys Marsh is an area which could produce quite an amount crf crops, fat cattle, sheep and whathaveyou, I point out to the Senate that many other areas in Tasmania could well do with an allocation of money for irrigation. I realise that many districts in other States could also do with money for irrigation. The conservation of water is one of the problems to which we in Australia have to face up today. 1 have always expressed concern on this subject. While we let the amount of water that flows down the rivers of this Commonwealth run into the sea and do not make use of it, wc are only penalising the production of this country.
The “Pocket Year Book of Tasmania 1969’ also contains figures on the cattle and sheep population of Tasmania over a period of years. The number of sheep and cattle has increased considerably, lt is reasonable to suppose that as a result of schemes such as the Cressy-Longford irrigation scheme the number will increase much more over the next few years than it has over the past few years. I do not want to weary the Senate with a lot of figures; [ merely point out that at 31st March 1966 the cattle population of Tasmania was about 492,000 and by 31st March 1968 it had increased to about 564,000. That is quite a considerable increase over a period of 2 years. I believe that as a result of the allocation of this money for this project our cattle population will increase. At 3 1st March 1966 the number of sheep in Tasmania was about 4) million and at 3 1st March 1968 it was nearly 4i million. Those figures indicate that there has been a considerable increase in the cattle and sheep population of Tasmania.
The same booklet also shows that the value of wool produced in Tasmania has increased considerably. In 1958-59 the average price of wool in Tasmania was 44c per lb, and in 1967-68 it was also 44c per lb. But in 1963-64 the average price of wool was 67c per lb. It is interesting to note that the total value of wool and sheep meat to Tasmania in the year 1967-68 was $15,609,000. This is a considerable amount of money which comes to Tasmania as a result of the sale of wool, sheep and cattle meats which, in many cases, as honourable senators know, are sold not only within Australia but also are sent overseas. We on this side of the House support this Bill. We hope that it has a speedy passage. I ask the Government, when allocations are being made for additional irrigation schemes in Tasmania, to have a look at the possibility of making some money available to southern Tasmania. This amount is being made available for the northern part of Tasmania. 1 wholeheartedly agree with it and 1 do not want any north and south feeling to creep in here, but when the Government does make more money available - we will probably be able to do that after 25th October - 1 would like to see it going towards the north west, coast, as was mentioned by Senator Rae when he referred to Jackeys Marsh. I also hope that money will be made available for areas on the north west coast such as Burnie. I. think I have said enough to indicate that we on this side of the chamber, especially my Whip Senator O’Byrne and 1, support the measure.
– in reply - 1 thank honourable senators for their co-operation and for the speeches that they have delivered on the subject of the Cressy-Longford irrigation scheme. There were a few points raised by honourable senators to which I will endeavour to reply in as short a time as possible. Senator O’Byrne said that at long last the Government had made money available for the CressyLongford scheme and he implied by this that there had been considerable delay by the Government in making this money available. As a result of the Commonwealth Government’s desire to ascertain whether all the people in the area were anxious to have this scheme it received authority from the Tasmanian Government to allow the Hydro-electric Commission, which controls the supply of water in Tasmania, to conduct a plebiscite of the people concerned. There was some doubt as to whether the people were prepared to pay the amount per acre foot that was required for the use of the water, and that is why the plebiscite was held, lt was very interesting to note that of the total of 63 landholders, including 5 whose holdings did not appear capable of being supplied by gravity from the proposed channel system, when the ballots were returned on 1 9th August and the votes were counted 52 were in favour of the scheme and 1 1 were against it, which meant that 82.5% were in favour of the scheme. If we take out 3 of the 5 whose holdings would not be supplied by gravity from the proposed scheme and who voted against it, the percentage in favour was 86.7.
This scheme is a part of the national water resources development programme which was a pre-election promise in 1966. The Government stated that $50m would be made available over a short period - I think it was 5 years - by way of grants to the States for approved projects of water conservation, lt is interesting to note that of the promised $50m this is the last amount that has been allocated. With the other amounts allocated the total will be in excess of the promised $50ni. Senator Rae gave us a very interesting summary of the situation as it exists in this area, stating that it was between 15 and 25 miles from Launceston and that it received an annual rainfall of 25.6 inches of which only 5 inches fell in the dry periods of the year from November to March. The area has very good soil and is one of the very fortunate farming areas of Australia. The only drawback is the matter of summer rain. The honourable senator instanced the number of hours of sunshine compared with Sydney and Melbourne and stated that the area concerned had about a third more hours of sunshine than the capital cities of Sydney and Melbourne.
He also mentioned the Jackeys Marsh scheme. The water from Jackeys Marsh flows into the Meander River, then joins the Esk River which flows into the Tamar and eventually reaches Launceston. Such a scheme would service Deloraine and Carrick and would supply sufficient water to irrigate approximately 36,000 acres at a cost of about $800,000. He asked whether this scheme could be considered in the future when the Government is considering schemes for Tasmania. Since it has been in office the Commonwealth Government has provided large sums of money, I think in excess of $975m, for water conservation projects including the Snowy Mountains scheme, about 90% of which it has made by way of grants to various States or by financing on its own account Only a few million dollars, or a little more than 10% has been advanced by way of loans to the various States concerned.
This scheme will take water from the Poatina tail race and it will be diverted to the Cressy-Longford irrigation area. Some will return to the Lake River and will then go on to the Trevallyn power station on the Esk River. The water that is used will be paid for by the Rivers and Water Supply Commission to the electricity authority, I understand at the rate of$1. 60 an acre foot. The irrigationists will pay up to about $5.50 an acre foot for the water they use. I understand that this is the first government irrigation scheme to be started in Tasmania. It will be more or less an experiment. If it proves successful I have no doubt that further approaches by the Tasmanian Government and honourable senators to the Commonwealth will cause the Commonwealth Government to look with interest at possible future developments. I thank honourable senators for their co-operation.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 12 September (vide page 832).
Department of Customs and Excise
Proposed provision, $116,700.
– When the Senate adjourned last Friday afternoon I was relating my remarks to the appropriation for administration of the Department of Customs and Excise. Honourable senators will recall that I submitted to the Senate the view of the Australian Labor Party on the subject of censorship and was about to highlight one or two anomalies that had arisen because of the rigidity and inflexibility of censorship laws as administered by the present Government. I had referred to the ban that existed for a considerable time in Australia on the publication, ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’, a novel written by D. H. Lawrence. It was banned in England, but following a trial it was allowed to be published in that country. During the course of the trial, naturally, the book was introduced as an exhibit and became part of the court record.
A book styled ‘The Trial of Lady Chatterley’s Lover’, a record of the proceedings, was then published. Under the administration of Australia’s censorship laws the record of the trial was allowed into Australia and could be purchased legally by Australian citizens, but the book ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ could not. This situation continued for some time.
The novel ‘The Group’ by Mary McCarthy was banned by the Australian censorship authorities. However, a shrewd person decided to print it within some States. The result was that although ‘The Group’ was banned in Australia it could be purchased in Western Australia or New South Wales. However, it could not be bought in or brought into the Australian Capital Territory because it was banned under Commonwealth law. They are only two of the anomalies that have arisen under the administration of our censorship laws by the present Government.
Despite the assertion last Friday by the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott) that my Party’s policy on censorship is naive and Utopian, we on this side of the chamber believe it to be practical and more enlightened and up to date than the Government’s policy of rigidity and inflexibility. I stated my Party’s censorship policy last Friday and I will not repeat it now. In addition to having that policy as enunciated last Friday, the Labor Party is pledged on achieving office to take the administration of censorship out of the hands of the Department of Customs and Excise and to place it under the control of a Ministry for Cultural Affairs. I believe that the result of such a move would be censorship laws for the Australian people that are practical, modern and more flexible than is the case under the administration of the present Government.
– When the Senate adjourned last Friday afternoon I had not had an opportunity to reply to queries raised by several honourable senators. I would like to answer those queries now to bring matters up to date. Senator McClelland referred to the noisy conditions under which customs officers are forced to work at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport. He suggested that the position be investigated with a view to easing conditions pending the opening of the new passenger terminal. The rapid growth in passenger traffic at the airport necessitated the establishment of temporary facilities there. These facilities are by no means perfect and do involve a noise problem. However, there have been already consultations with officers of the Department of Civil Aviation and it is expected that temporary structures will be erected before the end of October. These structures should significantly reduce aircraft noise in the customs hall.
Senator Mulvihill raised the question of apparent inconsistency in the censorship treatment of the film ‘Sampan’ and a trade film advertising Packard shoes. My inquiries have revealed that the imported film Sampan’ was passed, subject to cuts, by the Commonwealth Film Censorship Board. The trade film on Packard shoes, an 8 millimetre 3-minute advertising film, was locally produced and is not subject to Commonwealth censorship.
– Could Mr Willis deal with it if he wanted to do so? Would it be subject to State censorship, if thought desirable?
– Yes. It does not come under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth. It comes under the jurisdiction of the State. Senator Webster asked a question about the methods currently being adopted in the Department with a view to promoting greater efficiency. I would like to inform him that in addition to the introduction of commodity control the Department has streamlined procedures in the invoice room which have substantially reduced overtime and have enabled the quicker release of goods from customs control. In addition, wharf procedures have been reviewed resulting in savings of about eighty staff and provision of better service and quicker delivery. These improved procedures will enable the Department to handle increased work without the necessity to increase staff. The Department recently has completed a feasibility study into the use of a computer, and it is anticipated that when this computer is operating an even quicker release of goods can be achieved. Intensive study into the use of microfilming has been completed. This will give greater economy of storage, quicker reference and better control over imports. Also the use of closed circuit television is being investigated to economise in areas where customs surveillance is necessary. 1 have already mentioned in the Senate the positive action taken to expedite the clearance of passengers arriving by air and sea.
Estimates for salaries are compiled in accordance with Treasury directions which provide that they will be based on the approved establishment and the current salaries applicable at the start of the financial year. The main reason for the estimated increase in salaries in this financial year is the recent margins increase which raised the salaries of Third Division officers by approximately 10%. The staff increase for last year was only 53 which is about 1.25% and more than favourably compares with the overall service increase of 3.4%. The staff savings so far, as a result of the introduction of commodity control, is 215 positions and it is estimated that a further 179 positions will be saved.
Concerning the honourable senator’s request for details of the highest and lowest single payments made to producers under the Raw Cotton Bounty Act, I regret that I am not able to provide this information as payments under the Act are made to processors who in turn pass on the bounty to individual farmers. However, I am able to tell the honourable senator that for the year ended 1969 the highest total payment was $1,959,660 to Namoi Cotton Cooperative Ltd and the lowest total payment was $20,305 to Ricegrowers Co-operative Mills Ltd.
Following on two questions he had asked me earlier in the session, Senator Martin Cameron raised the matter of duty on imported harvesting machinery. Specifically, he asked whether the report of the Tariff Board had yet been received by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen), whether consideration would be given to assisting local manufacturers of harvesting machinery by means of a bounty rather than by duties and, if so, what would be the cost to the Government of such a bounty. Finally, he wanted to know the amount of duty collected on imported harvesting machinery.
The Tariff Board has not yet submitted its report to the Minister. However, I should point out to the honourable senator that, when the Minister referred this matter to the Board he did so in the usual terms which ask the Board to inquire into and report on whether assistance should be accorded the local industry and, if so found, the nature and extent of such assistance. Thus, it is competent for the Board to recommend assistance by whatever means, if any, it considers appropriate in the circumstances, and any consideration of the matter by the Government before the Board’s report is received would be premature. No estimate could be given at this stage of the likely cost of a bounty scheme. Preliminary figures supplied by the Commonwealth Statistician indicate that the duty collected in 1968-69 on harvesting and threshing machinery for seeds, grain and leguminous vegetables was $474,506.
I have attempted to provide answers to all questions raised during the debate. However, should any honourable senator desire to know more about the Department, I will be pleased to write giving him all available information.
– I wish to direct my remarks to the total activity of the Department of Customs and Excise as covered by Division 210 - Administrative. From time to time we hear in the Senate criticism of customs procedures and customs officers. These spring fairly largely, I think, from the experiences of honourable senators themselves. I do not want to indulge in a lengthy speech of approval but I should like to place on record, in reply to the criticism we have heard, my own experiences and the appreciation I feel of the way in which customs officers carry out their duties. If I am entering a country or returning to my own country I have no great objection to my luggage being inspected. After all, if we are bringing in articles which we have been warned attract duty, it is fair enough that we should be prepared to be responsible for the privilege of bringing in those articles. The work of customs officers is very difficult and I place on record my tribute to them.
I have been interested in recent times to note the streamlined procedures which the Minister and the Department are introducing. I should like to have from the Minister an assurance that continual care is being taken in relation to these procedures and the various new methods of obtaining declarations of passengers luggage so that material which could be dangerous to the Australian community can be removed. This is very important in the light of the growing rate of air transportation which is now at international level. Having regard to the greater number of people travelling and the greater opportunities for movement of all manner of goods, the Department of Customs and Excise would have to carry the blame if we ran into a serious situation regarding some disease which was infectious to humans or to livestock or to our environment generally.
The other matter I want to mention relates to censorship. It arises from certain observations which have been made on behalf of the Labor Party in the course of its examination of the estimates for the Department. The Government has been accused of adopting what has been described as a rigid line. Censorship is a very difficult subject to discuss because of the many variables within its structure. One does not assume for a moment that one is an authority on it. I have had great difficulty in finding a firm line along which it should be administered, but in my view there must be some continuing form of censorship.
The National Literature Board of Review was established in 1968 to implement the provisions of the Commonwealth and State agreement on uniform censorship. Will the Minister give some details of the terms of service for which its members are appointed, what provisions are made or envisaged for renewing the membership of the Board and the terms of activity of and references to the Board? After all, that which may be the line of censorship today certainly may not be the line of censorship 5 years from now and certainly not 10 years from now. Indeed the lines of censorship today are different from those which existed even 5 years ago. When it is admitted and understood that there are not so much changing values as changing groups within the community, I think that any board of review needs to be in a position where, instead of changing its standards and values, it becomes aware of changes in the media with which it happens to be involved. Then it becomes not so much a battle between the permissives and the conservatives as an approach so that things of a cultural, intellectual and similar value are maintained and available for the people.
On the other hand, however, a community of any kind, especially a Western community, needs to have instrumentalities within its setup to protect the people from themselves. This may be a strange way of saying it but in our material and commercial life we have all manner of inbuilt administrative authorities simply to protect people from themselves. This must surely apply in the area of literature, films and associated matters. There must be an authority within the community to do just this. In earlier centuries the church was the instrument which in one way or another laid down certain guidelines for the moral tone - a phrase which 1 do not like but at least it is descriptive - of the community. That authority of those centuries having disappeared, there must be some other authority, lt must lie within the Parliament or the Government, which after all is the voice of the people, reflects the will of the people and has been appointed by the people. It is the instrumentality which must accept the responsibility. Having accepted the responsibility it must make its decisions very (irmly, very clearly and very decisively.
Perhaps festivals and certain limited groups should have different opportunities from those of the general public but it must be borne in mind that censorship is not devised just to protect what are called young and immature minds’, lt is rather difficult for me. as I imagine it is for most senators, to lay down what is an immature mind. I read over the weekend that the audiences at the performance of some controversial plays and the showing of some controversial films are not so much young people as middle aged people, which seems to suggest that the younger person has a degree of sophistication and is the beneficiary of a system of education which gives him a different outlook, a different approach and, if I may say so, a different kind of resilience. But at the same time the area of censorship needs to be not only under the firm control of a Minister but also geared with sufficient flexibility to make it adequate to meet the many demands and the many pressures that are put upon it by authors, entrepreneurs and others with a special kind of creative ability who are in business to sell, sometimes to shock or to satirise and even sometimes to have their works banned and so attract attention and have greater sales. I commend the Minister upon his stand. 1 merely ask him that question in relation to the board that deals with these matters so that we may be sure that it is flexible enough to meet the demands of the future.
– Recently 1 had a discussion with a group of people from the Sydney Scientific Film Society. They are interested in scientific films, many of which relate to health. They produce films that are really both educational and scientific. Like me, they were shocked last week to learn that before Channel 10 had shown a beautifully produced picture on childbirth, which gave full importance to that great event, the censors had apparently cut the film about so much as almost to destroy it.
– Was it produced in Australia?
– Yes- -for showing to all sorts of university graduate groups and other grown-up people. Even if it were possible to take offence at the presentation of the extreme moment of childbirth, these are people who would not be present for any purpose of excitement nor with any other than the highest possible intellectual motives. According to my understanding, the censors approved of the showing of everything but the final event which is the supreme moment, on any real assessment. The Society was shocked because the cuts destroyed the film. Were these censors just being narrow minded? How old arc they? What makes them react in this way to a film like this? I have seen right through a childbirth film, it is a beautiful experience. 1 do not know what went wrong apart from the explanation given that they did not think that the delicate situation - whatever that was - was fit to be seen. Protest meetings are to be held about this. The Government ought to get ils answer ready because many people would think that this is a pretty outdated approach to a problem such as childbirth. The management of Channel 10 must have been in the clear. The Society is in the clear. It consists of educated mcn inlcuding professional men, amongst them many doctors. The film was supported by the Commonwealth Department of Health.
I cannot understand the attitude. I do not know what went wrong. The effect was to destroy the film by making a couple of cuts of scenes which the censors considered should not bc seen in public.
I should like to refer to a matter that I have previously raised, certainly since the last Estimates debate. The Minister can be charming but devastating in giving an answer passing a matter off when he cannot ask that the question be put on the notice paper, but he really has run away from this question a few times. I can take him to a shop in Sydney where the soles, nails, sewing material and uppers of shoes are wrapped, to be sent to China which produces a pair of shoes for, 1 think, an average price of about S4 by the use of cheap labour. Not one minute of Australian labour is involved. This activity has destroyed the shoe industry in this country.
– It costs something to wrap it up.
– This is pretty serious for the fellows who have lost their jobs as a result of the elimination of the boot and shoe making industry. There are only a quarter as many as there used to be. I do not think it is good business to export our jobs to China or any other part of Asia. I do not think it involves any balance of trade troubles. It should not be done at the expense of Australian workers and Australian industry. The Minister’s answer to me on one occasion was that this was a matter for the Department of Trade and Industry. Surely to goodness the Department of Trade and Industry is not so far away from the Department of Customs and Excise that the Minister in this place cannot have a yarn with the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) and say: ‘We have a demarcation dispute between us here’.
– He is in the Australian Country Party, though.
– I do not know about that, but whatever he is I think the two Departments should get together on it. It is really bad business for the Government to allow this trade to go out of Australia when it could be kept here and there are men available here to do the work. What I have said is factual. I shall not mention the firms involved because it is done by many.
– The same applies to printing in Hong Kong.
– I know, and that is what I am coming to. Senator Milliner has talked about this. Every month material for a paper, including the art work, goes to Hong Kong. It is beautiful work, but it is put together in Hong Kong. Not one Australian printer touches it. The publications then come back to Australia and get through customs. Some of this material could be classed as rather hot. I have seen publications much cleaner than these, or not so ‘blue’ as these, denied admission by customs. I do not see how we could allow this work to be done in Hong Kong and then brought back into Australia if the Government were really interested in preserving Australian industry. I should like the Minister to investigate that matter. I am sure that he and his Department already know about it. I know that it has been suggested that our printing techniques here will not permit the job to be done in Australia, but I should like the Minister to consider the points that I have raised. In particular I should like something to be done about the censorship of the film story of childbirth. Surely to goodness a Christian government should not see anything wrong in the story of life being delicately presented. If we have the techniques in Australia to present these matters with delicacy I suggest that the Government should do something about the censorship which stops films of this kind from being shown.
– 1 propose to talk about censorship and customs procedure as it relates to admission into Australia. I do not think this is a question of party policy. It is a fact that in Australia we now have a form of censorship which makes us appear to be ludicrous in the eyes of the world. This is not a question of party politics, whether one is a member of the Australian Labor Party, the Liberal Party of Australia or the Australia Party; it is a question of public opinion. We have people in this country who can see pornography where others cannot see it. I believe that there is something in the truism that pornography exists in the eye of the impotent elderly. Why should we have these laws in regard to pornography when really it is all a matter of decency? If one thinks that something is indecent one should not read it or go to see it, but it is one’s own business. Publishers owe something to their customers in regard to decency.
– What about our daily prayer: ‘Lead us not into temptation’?
– Every day we say Lead us not into temptation’, but how many of us are led? It has been suggested that there should be censorship for the young only and I would go along with that.
– How young?
– If a person can be killed at the age of 18 years I think he is mature enough at that age to read what is called pornography. In Denmark they have abolished censorship and the sexual assault cases have been reduced by 13% already.
– What, since last week?
– Not since last week - it is over a month ago, at least.
– It is 3 weeks more.
– Yes, but prior to that they had hardly any censorship. Already the people who publish these books are feeling the effect of the abolition of censorship. How can the censor be so stupid as not to allow into Australia a book like Portnoy’s Complaint’ when one can go into the library and see books like - I shall say them slowly so that honourable senators can read them - ‘Myra Breckenridge’. To me that is pornography, but that is allowed in. Although we may read ‘Couples’ by John Updike we cannot read ‘Portnoy’s Complaint’. Where is the sense in this? The two books to which I have referred were banned by the Department of Customs and Excise until suddenly it was decided to unban them. Who decides whether they shall be banned or unbanned? But then the Department allows in other books such as The Practitioner’ which was never banned although I think it is even worse than Couples’ but not as bad as ‘Myra Breckenridge’.
– Is the honourable senator an authority on this?
– No, but I am at least liberal enough to read all sorts of things, including autobiographies and what might be termed pornography. It might be pornography to the honourable senator but it is not pornography to others.
– The honourable senator enjoys it.
– If I want to enjoy it that is my privilege, but if the honourable senator does not want to enjoy it he should not read it. But why prevent others from reading it if they want to do so? There is all this talk about censorship in the theatre. If a person goes to the theatre to see Hair’ what does he hear - a four letter word yelled out four times. He sees a few pubic hairs in the semi-gloom. But does anyone rush out and rape somebody because he has seen this? Yet there is this talk about censorship. Where are we going? My own personal view is that sexual acts should not be seen on stage. But what happens in the ballet? We do not censor ballet. Robert Helpmann’s two ballets ‘The Display’ and Sun God’ are not censored but they have simulated sex. That is all right because it is ballet, but if they want to do it in some other theatrical production it is censored. Surely it is up to the individual. The young are not interested in this; it is the elderly who are interested in this subject matter. I come then to the various films. How does one demarcate one film from another? I do not know. How the censor can say that one film is in and the other is out I do not know. It is just too ludicrous for words. But worse, of course, is book censorship. I believe that all censorship should be abolished.
I propose now to talk about customs entry. 1 raise this matter merely to continue my theme that I keep on with in this chamber, that no-one can make any suggestion to a Department because the suggestion is regarded as being plain and utter idiocy, but if it is something thought of by the Department it is regarded as good. I do not know whether the Minister for Customs and Excise (Senator Scott) can recall - he was not Minister at the time but he can look up the reference in Hansard - that some years ago I ridiculed the customs procedure of entry into this country. I had in my hand at the time a form and I described each item to honourable senators. Senator Anderson, who was then the Minister for Customs and Excise, ridiculed me and said that I was talking a lot of nonsense, that it was essential that Australia should have this customs form which took up li pages. He asked how Australia could do without it and said that all sorts of things would be coming into Australia unless we had this check. But 9 months later the form was almost abolished.
When I first raised the matter I suggested that we should adopt the British system under which a person is given a little card which asks whether he has in his possession such and such a thing. If you do not have it you are allowed through. There is none of this need to sign a form. Now the Department intends to adopt the suggestion and is making a big thing of it because it is a suggestion from the Department. It is forgotten that I made the suggestion 2 or 3 years ago and that I was told that what I suggested was impossible. But this goes on not only in the Department of Customs and Excise but also in other departments. If we make suggestions in this chamber we are told that it is impossible, but later it somehow becomes possible.
– That is conservatism.
– It is not; it is a feeling within the Department that no-one fit aside the Department is right and no-one i.l se has brains or any capability. If someone within the Department thinks of it, it is good; if we think of it, it must be terrible. But now the Department is adopting the suggestion that Senator Anderson ridiculed when he was Minister. But even then the form was changed and now it is being changed again. I am all for it being changed, although I am not so sure that even within the Department they know what they are doing.
Anybody coming into Australia still has to sign a form which asks whether he has in his possession any drugs. I hope that this will be done away with. On the last four occasions I have said to my wife that I intended to put ‘morphia’ on the form because, as a doctor, I always carry morphia. I wrote ‘morphia’ on the form and twice I was picked up on it but on the other two occasions no-one even looked at it. I do not know why people are called upon to fill in these forms. It may have been due to the carelessness of the customs officer, but he did not say anything on the first occasion although he saw the reference to morphia. The other customs officer was startled when he saw the reference to morphia and rushed off to get a supervisor. The supervisor came back and asked me why I had morphia. I replied that I was a doctor. I was allowed to pass through. The Government is abolishing the present system. I mention this only because the Government insists that a certain course should be followed because of the customs legislation. Just the other day one of the Government’s sacred cows - a period in quarantine if a person is not vaccinated - was disregarded. AH the Department’s sacred cows would have been removed long ago if we had a Minister who was prepared to override bureaucracy. Unfortunately, that does not happen very often.
Senator SCOTT (Western AustraliaMinister for Customs and Excise) (5.6] - Senator McClelland raised certain matters in relation to the books ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’, ‘The Trial of Lady Chatterley’ and The Group’. ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ was banned at one time and subsequently released. ‘The Group’ by Mary McCarthy was released by the Commonwealth on the advice of the National Literature Board of Review. It was not banned by the Commonwealth. However, certain action was taken by a State government in relation to this book.
Senator Davidson spoke at some length on the treatment that he received from customs officers on at least two occasions when returning to Australia. I assure the honourable senator that no undue risks will be taken in order to speed up the release of passengers. The Department of Customs and Excise is confident that it can maintain satisfactory safeguards. In reply to Senator Turnbull, I wish to say that I read the book Portnoy’s Complaint’ and I agree completely with the Board’s decision to prohibit the importation of it. It is one of the worst books I have read. I hope that we will always have a censorship board which will look at these matters and ban books and films whenever necessary. I will continue to adopt this policy. I do not agree with Senator Turnbull’s statement that we should do away completely with censorship. Senator Turnbull said that he did not believe in censorship for adults and he concluded his reference to censorship by saying that he would do away with it completely. I hope the day will not come when a government will decide to do away with censorship. 1 do not believe that we are ready for this yet.
asked some questions about the National Literature Board of Review. The Board is constituted by the Minister for Customs and Excise and has a life of 3 years. The last Board to be appointed took office from 1st January 1968. Its term of office will expire on 31st December 1970. A new board will then be constituted. Its charter is the realisation of provisions of the Commonwealth-States agreement on uniform censorship of books of literary, artistic or scientific merit. The Board’s role is an advisory one. Responsibility for decisions following its recommendations rests with the Government. The Board is comprised of a Chairman, two Deputy Chairmen and six members who are appointed for a 3-year period by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the Minister. As I pointed out earlier, the present appointments expire on 31st December 1970. Mr J. A. McCall of Western Australia, acting on medical advice, resigned from the Board in February of this year and Mr J. A. Dunning, O.B.E., of South Australia, was appointed to fill the vacancy. He was recommended by the South Australian Government. 1 have the names and qualifications of the members of the Board. I think I should read them to the Senate. The Chairman of the Board is Professor E. R. Bryan, O.B.E., who is from the Australian Capital Territory. His qualifications are M.A. and Dip. Ed. and he is a Professor of English at the Royal Military College. Duntroon. The Deputy Chairmen are Mrs A. H. Hewitt, M.A., B.Comm.. a senior lecturer in English at the Australian National University and Mr L. O’Neil, who is a publisher from Victoria. Mr K. Slessor, O.B.E., from New South Wales, is a member of the Board. Mr Slessor is a poet and journalist. He is a member of the Commonwealth Literary Fund Advisory Committee. Dr Marie Neale from New South Wales, whose qualifications are B.A., M.A., Dip. Ed., Ph.D. and Dip. Psych., is also a member. She is a senior lecturer in education at the University of Sydney. Another member is Mrs U. Mulholland, a housewife from Queensland, who is a member of the Queensland Literature Board of Review. Mr H. C. Chipman, I.S.O., from Victoria is another member. His qualifications are Ll.B. and J. P. Professor J. P. McAuley from Tasmania, whose qualifications are M.A. and Dip. Ed. and who is a Professor of English at the University of Tasmania and a member of the Tasmanian Publications Board of Review, is also a member. Another member is Mr J. A. Dunning. O.B.E. from South Australia. His qualifications are M.A. and M.Sc. He is headmaster of the Prince Alfred College, Adelaide.
I shall outline the Board’s activities during the 1968-69 financial year. It examined 28 titles, releasing 20 and prohibiting 8. For the information of honourable senators, I have a list of those titles. Five board meetings were convened. There were two in Canberra, two in Brisbane and one in Melbourne. The Commonwealth-States agreement provides for periodical reviews of the prohibited titles on the gazetted list with a view to the release of those which are considered suitable by current standards. During the year the following titles were released: ‘The Deathmakers’ by Glen Sire; The Perfumed Garden’, which was translated from the Arabic of the Shaykh Nafzawi; ‘The Divided Path’ by Nial Kent; and ‘City of Women’ by Nancy Morgan. I have details of salaries of Board members if honourable senators require them.
The Board is guided by the standards laid down by the Australian community. Prohibited books come up for review about every 5 years. A lot of them are released upon review because they come within changing community standards. Books may be released in 5 years’ time that are prohibited at present. I do not think that the Government should release books just because Sweden, Denmark or other countries release them. I think we are entitled to make up our own minds. As Minister for Customs and Excise, I am responsible for censorship. The Government believes the present system is the best one. I do not think we should rush in and alter it. I think the Labor Party would become very conscious of that fact if ever it assumed the mantle of government.
asked a question about the levels of protection afforded to certain shoe manufacturers. In this Senate the honourable senator has asked me various questions about that matter and I have always replied to him along these lines: If he wants information about the manufacture of shoes or about the leather soles, uppers and sprigs which are sent to China for shoe manufacture, he should seek that information from the Department of Trade and Industry, which is responsible for such matters. These matters come within the administration of my colleague, the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) and .1 cannot alter that position. Senator Ormonde also asked a question about the printing industry. He will remember that the Budget makes provision for protection to the publishing industry to the extent of about 25% of the invoice price charged by the manufacturer to the publisher. This is the way in which that industry is protected while the Tariff Board is looking into the problems of the industry.
– 1 want to refer very briefly to a matter concerning Statutory Rule No. 69 of 1969 which deals with the licensing of warehouses. I understand that in the past the system of determining licence fees has been on the basis of the size of the licensed premises, but under this Rule a standard fee of $1,000 has been struck and all licensees are obliged to pay this fee. In some cases this represents a tenfold increase in the fee and in other cases only a twofold increase. This would appear to be an imposition on some of the smaller licensees, particularly in Tasmania. My attention was drawn to this matter by a gentleman who runs a licensed warehouse. I wish to refer to some points which he made in a letter he wrote to me. He said: lt is most essential for the Wine and Spirit merchants in Tasmania to retain the small Bom) Warehouse Licence they respectively hold for the economics of the Trade in this State.
Being an Island entirely dependent on Seu transport for under bond supplies, which because of our isolation, need to be ordered in greater quantities to preserve a stock for supply and demand.
He also mentioned the introduction of the new method of carriage of cargoes in containers. He said:
With carriage of goods in sea containers it is necessary for merchants to order so that containers are full of their goods in order to take advantage of freight concessions. 1 want to emphasise the point that it appears to me that an imposition has been made not only on the smaller licensees in Tasmania but probably on the smaller licensees in other States as well. When any common fee or common charge is struck caution must be exercised because of the risk of imposition of an unduly heavy burden on the smaller operator. I would ask for an explanation why this fee of $1,000 has been struck.
– 1 was interested to find that the Estimates debate this afternoon and last Friday has been used as a vehicle for a general statement of the Labor Party’s election policy. I would like to say something about the Government’s performance because if we are going to have election speeches we might as well have a discussion of general policy. I am very gratified, as an Australian firstly and not as a member of a political party specifically, with the uniform approach adopted by the Department of Customs and Excise throughout Australia to the problems of drug handling, drug importation and drug control and equally to the problems of censorship. I think the Department has adopted the right approach. These activities are conducted in a spirit of co-operative federalism which, if extended, has a lot to offer Australia. We operate under a federal system. There are responsibilities in the central Government and equally in the State governments. To see the Department adopting this approach of getting everybody involved to join together to handle the problem is, I think, a very fine thing and we should commend the Department for this approach.
I am also impelled to say something about the Department by the speeches made by Senator O’Byrne and Senator McManus about the evils that could overtake Australia by inadequate control of drugs and, equally, by being too permissive in censorship. I do not want to speak for very long on this. I do not believe there is any virtue in Australia building a permissive society. T think this country has a great destiny. It needs to have its own disciplines on its own behaviours. Equally it needs to be protected from the intrusions of the evil ways of other peoples. For my part, I am very happy with the work of the Department, with its approach and with the policies it adopts to try to keep this country safe and, if I may say so, pure, as far as is possible.
– I want to raise one or two points in relation to the administrative expenses of the Department of Customs and Excise. 1 do so because of the speeches made by Senator Turnbull and Senator Davidson about their experiences on their re-entry to Australia through Customs. 1 preface my remarks by expressing appreciation to the Department for the manner in which I was treated by Customs on my return from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association meeting in the United Kingdom. As we know, the autumn session of Parliament was taken up mostly with the Hoffmann affair. Although the Minister displayed false smiles each time a question was asked, I was in some doubt as to whether or not there would bc reprisals for the disclosures in the Hoffmann affair. As one involved in it, I thought that if there were an opportunity for possible reprisal 1 might be the victim because I had to come through Customs. I approached the Minister who assured me that he would do everything to facilitate my passage through Customs on my return to Australia. I notified him of the flight on which I was returning. I do not know whether or not he advised the Department, but the treatment I received was most courteous. The head official of the Department was wailing for me when I arrived in Sydney. After going through the normal formalities speedily I was permitted, in the most courteous manner, to go through Customs. I could have had some pornographic literature in my pockets, but the officials did not worry about that. Possibly they thought I was too old. I pay tribute to the Department for the treatment I received. 1 want to raise several matters. I hope the Minister will forgive me if they have been raised before, but I was not here all day Friday. The first matter deals with the purchase of launches and asssociated equipment. Last year the provision was 555,400 and $53,400 was spent. That suggests that some purchases were made last year. Obviously, on this year’s appropriation, there is to be a big increase in the purchase ot launches this year. I would like to know, in relation to the appropriation this year how many launches the Department intends to purchase, their type and whether they are to be built in Australia or whether they will be bought overseas. I refer to Document A, Division 210 - Administrative. Under item 07 of subdivision 2. provision is made for the hire, maintenance and operation of launches and the supply o equipment. The appropriation for this item last year was S45.000. The amount expended was $44,749. 1 note that the appropriation for this year is $73,000. This represents a considerable increase over the appropriation for last year. Has that increase any association with the new launches that will be purchased?
My next question relates to item 03 of subdivision 3 where it is proposed to appropriate $1,900,400 for, ‘Sale of petroleum products (Northern Territory) - Financial Assistance’. What financial assistance is given to the Northern Territory through the Department of Customs and Excise for the sale of petroleum products?
My last inquiry relates to the entry through customs of containerised cargoes. On page 6 of its annual report, the Department of Customs and Excise refers to centralised wharfing procedures which do not require the employment of a customs officer at each wharf. The Department also mentions the praise of the Senate Select Committee on Container Method of Handling Cargoes, of which I was a member. As a member of that Committee, T was a party to its report which mentioned the keenness of the Department and its awareness of the necessity for some changes in relation to containerised cargoes. On page 7 of its report, the Department states that the working hours of customs officers which for many years were from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. have been extended to between 7.30 a.m. and 11 p.m. - the same working hours as those for stevedoring operations. The report goes on to state that this action resulted in substantial savings to shipping companies by reducing overtime claims. I can only assume that under the old working hours, if it were necessary fot a customs officer to be on duty either before 8 a.m. or after 5 p.m. that officer was paid overtime which was charged against the shipping company concerned, and that the result of spreading the shift between 7.30 a.m. and 1 1 p.m. was that the shipping companies are no longer required to meet this overtime payment. As the Department of Customs and Excise claims to have done much to reduce costs to shipping companies by the introduction of centralised wharfage facilities and centralised documentation, and by reducing the burden of overtime 1 am wondering whether the shipping companies take these facts into consideration when increasing freight charges from time to time.
– First I should like to thank Senator Cavanagh for his remarks about the courtesy he received from (he customs officers upon his return to Australia from his interesting trip overseas. We endeavour to extend lo all members of the public the same courtesy as he enjoyed. We do gel letters of complaint from some people from time to time, but we hear very little about the many who are satisfied with the treatment they receive at the hands of our customs officers whose duty it is to process passengers. I think I mentioned the other day that of the many thousands of passengers processed in a year, we receive only live or six letters of complaint.
The honourable senator referred lo the purchase of launches. The expenditure in 1968- 69 on the purchase of launches and associated equipment was $53,444. The estimated expenditure this year is $ 1 1 6,700, an increase of $63,256. Provision is made under this item for the purchase of major items of equipment for the Department. In 1969- 70, it is proposed to purchase two 25-foot fast fibre glass launches to cost $30,000, one 20-foot river patrol craft and trailer to cost $7,000, one 17-foot river patrol craft and trailer to cost 83,000, one 23-foot river patrol craft and trailer to cost $12,000, one 35-foot open water patrol craft to cost $35,000, one launch trailer to cost $2,000 and high frequency radio sets for the launches to cost $2,000, making a total of $91,700. In addition, extensive conversion to the launch / .’…In’ is expected to cost $25,000. As to the hire, maintenance and operation of launches and the supply of equipment, the expenditure on this item in 1968-69 was 544,749. The estimate for this year is $73,000, which represents an increase of $28,251. This item provides for the purchase of petrols, oils and lubricants and for the repairs and maintenance of launches as well as for general stores and the hire of launches. The estimated expenditure for 1969-70 is $28,251 higher than the expenditure for 1968-69 due to the fact that four petrol-engined launches purchased during 1968-69 will be fully operational, and four additional launches arc duc for delivery in 1968-69 or early in 1969-70.
The petrol products subsidy scheme for the Northern Territory is designed to maintain wholesale prices of consumed products such as petrol, diesel fuel, kerosene at no greater than 3.3c a gallon above those of capital cities. Where similar schemes operate in the States, a grant is made to the State government concerned but in Commonwealth territories the Commonwealth pays the subsidy direct.
– But why through the Department of Customs and Excise unci not through the Department of the Interior?
– We administer the scheme. As the honourable senator knows, a few years ago the Government announced that it would make petrol products available to country users at wholesale prices no greater than 3.3c a gallon above those applicable in the capital cities.
– I rise to revert to the discussion last Friday when we dealt with some aspects of drug detection. On that occasion we spent quite a lot of time dealing with the detection of drugs internally. During the course of that dialogue, the Minister spoke of our emulating the system of drug detection adopted by the narcotics squad of the United States of America. As distinct from the internal apparatus, do any of the operators in our narcotics squad actually engage in any operations outside Australia - for instance, in South East Asia? As the Minister knows, the United States narcotics squad in South Vietnam, although it is a civilian organisation, seems to be allied at times with military groups in detecting and smashing drug racketeers. 1 have in mind that rather famous defence term ‘forward defence’. In addition to all that is being done within the Commonwealth, are any of the officers seconded to drug detection operations on the Asian mainland where they might smash these rings where they start instead of dealing with the second echelon - drug peddling in Australia? This is something that intrigues me, and I wonder whether the Minister can give me some information on it.
– I raise a point in connection with the appropriation for financial assistance in respect of the sale of petroleum products in the Northern Territory. I accept what the Minister has said. I remember the legislation dealing with the sale of petrol al a price no higher than a certain amount in excess of capital city prices. The point that I raise for consideration is that it seems unusual to have this money paid through the Department of Customs and Excise. If one wanted to know the cost of the administration of the Northern Territory and all the ancillaries for which we are paying, one would tend to look in the estimates for the Northern Territory. I would have thought that the subsidy from the Commonwealth Government in respect of petroleum products would have been included in those estimates. Although it is paid by the Department of Customs and Excise, I suppose it all comes out of the one pocket. However, this seems to me to be an unusual method of providing for such a subsidy. I believe that some consideration should be given to whether it is being appropriated through the appropriate department.
– In answer to Senator Cavanagh’s question, I point out that the Commonwealth provides the finance for the payment of these subsidies in outback areas for the purpose of offsetting part of the transport cost. Under the Constitution the Commonwealth is not able to pay the subsidy direct to the consumer.It is paid to the State governments and to the Northern Territory Administration for distribution as if that Administration were a State government. The honourable senator will be interested to know that the total amount involved this year for all the States and the mainland Territories is in the vicinity of $ 19.2m, and that next year the cost of the subsidy in respect to the places I have mentioned will be in excess of $21m.
– Has the Minister an answer to my question?
- Senator Mulvihill asked whether we have drug squad people overseas and whether we co-operate with other countries in drug detection. The Customs Narcotics Bureau officers are in close liaison with South East Asian narcotics agencies. At the moment we have two officers being trained by the United States Narcotics Bureau and we have another officer in Japan attending a seminar with a number of representatives from South East Asian countries. Regular visits to South East Asia are made by our officers. In addition, the Comptroller-General recently made a visit to the United States and England in order, among other things, to find out what were the problems relating to drug control in those countries. He received the utmost co-operation from those countries. We are working in complete harmony with them and also with the South East Asian countries.
Proposed expenditure and proposed provision noted.
Department of Works
Proposed provision. $80,380,000.
Civil Defence - Repairs and Maintenance
Proposed expenditure, $8,800.
Civil Defence - Buildings, Works, Fittings and Furniture
Proposed expenditure, $14,500.
– When introducing the 1968-69 estimates for the Department of Works, I made a short statement explaining the purpose of the estimates and some details of the functions and operations of the Department of Works. I intend to take a similar course in regard to the 1969-70 estimates, and also to inform the Senate of details of a few of the special projects in which the skills of the Department have been significant.
During the financial year 1968-69, the expenditure on capital and maintenance works by the Department of Works, on behalf of all departments, the National Capital Development Commission, the Papua and New Guinea Administration and others, totalled $246,095,000. It is anticipated that during the financial year 1969-70, the comparable expenditure will reach §266,650,000- an increase of 8.3%. Details of the actual project expenditure during 1968- 69 and the estimated expenditure for 1969- 70 are:
The achievement of the estimates expenditure of 1969-70 will constitute a record for the Department of Works. The previous highest annual expenditure totalled $249,042,000 in 1966-67. The dissection of expenditure as between the branches of the Department is:
It is of interest to note that the highest increase in expenditure, compared with 12 months ago, is in the Northern Territory where it is estimated that approximately $9m extra cash will be expended in 1969- 70. This increase is due mainly to the fact that at 1st July 1969 the works under construction for the Department of the Interior (General) were $6m in excess of the total amount of works in the field as at 1st July 1968, and also to the inclusion in the works programme of a number of major projects which are referred to later in this statement and which are due for committal during 1969-70.
Programmes for the execution of repairs and maintenance works have also been increased for the current financial year. Details are:
The target of $53,819,000 is an increase of $6,278,000 or 13.2% on expenditure in 1968-69.
I refer now to day labour employment. Construction of works by the Department is carried out mainly by contract, arising from the invitation of public tenders, but it is also necessary for the Department to maintain an artisan work force to provide for general maintenance and operational services, as well as such constructional activities as are not suitable for execution by contract and which can be more advantageously carried out by departmental personnel. At 30th June 1969 the Department employed a work force of 8,379 (8,450 at 1st July 1968), plus an indigenous labour force in Papua and New Guinea of 2,576.
The number of direct employees includes labour employed in ancillary services such as departmental workshops, stores, industrial undertakings, camps, hostels and so on. The total number of apprentices currently employed by the Department is 669. The total wages paid to departmental day labour employees during the financial year 1968- 69 was approximately $3 1.887m. I am sure my colleagues will agree that this amount is a considerable wages commitment. It has to be accounted for in accordance with the Commonwealth Audit
Act, and the Treasury -instructions and directives. It covers the execution of thousands of projects from minor amounts to works of a major nature such as beef roads in the Northern Territory, or the reconstruction of a runway in a capital city of the Commonwealth.
Fifty major trust stores are established in all States and Territories, whilst minor stores and project stores are maintained wherever necessary. Stores stocks of constructional1 materials as at 30th June 1969 totalled $4.676m. In regard to staff, the actual professional, sub-professional and administrative staffs employed throughout all branches of the Department and/ or Head Office, as at 30th June 1969, totalled 5,879. Included in this total were 680 engineers, 421 architects and 279 cadets.
The Commonwealth Experimental Building Station, within my Department, acts as secretariat and technical adviser to the Interstate Standing Committee on Uniform Building Regulations. This committee is engaged on the preparation of an Australian model uniform building code, which is to form the basis for new building regulations to be issued by the States, the Australian Capital Territory, and the Northern Territory. So that the new regulations can bc promulgated at the earliest possible time, the code is being issued as each major section of its contents is completed. The first of these sections has been issued to the several State and Commonwealth administrations concerned, and it is now being processed by them as a prelude to promulgation in due course. The Committee’s work on the second section is well advanced, and the Committee is working also on portions of the third section. AH told, the work of preparing the code is near the halfway mark.
In relation to major works committals during 1969-70, the Civil Works Programme 1969-70, which I circulated at Budget time, contains details of all individual works over 840,000 for civil departments which are to be committed to construction during the particular financial year. Although this data is readily available, I consider that the commencement during 1969-70 of the undermentioned major works including defence works should be mentioned in this statement:
In addition the new Commonwealth-State Law Court complex in Sydney for which the Department is the management authority on behalf of both the Commonwealth and New South Wales Governments, is expected to be committed this financial year. The estimated cost of this work is in excess of $17m.
– Does the civil aviation work for Kingsford-Smith Airport also refer to the erosion work along the foreshores of Botany Bay?
– Those works are included in that, yes. I make reference to several special projects being undertaken by the Department. The construction of the Australian pavilion for the next World Exposition in 1970 at Osaka, Japan, is proceeding to schedule. The pavilion which was designed by the Department, and which will house the Australian exposition exhibits, is planned to be completed in November next. The giant 128 foot high cantilever and sky hook has now been constructed, and the roof or dome, 160 feet in diameter and weighing 200 tons has been fully suspended from its temporary supporting trestle work - designed for a cyclonic area.
Off-site manufacture of the 230 foot long space tube is nearing completion, and by mid-September it will be transported to the pavilion site and located in the sunken garden which will1 represent the Australian landscape. In June of this year when I was privileged to lead an Australian parliamentary delegation to Asia I visited the Osaka ‘Expo’ site, and viewed at first hand the progress of. the pavilion project, lt was an exhilarating experience to see the work of the Department being carried out with such zeal and vigour by a contractor of one of our Asian neighbours. I am sure that our Australian pavilion will be a high class building, and will by its uniqueness attract a large number of visitors.
For the past 20 years, the Victorian branch of the Department has been responsible for the design and prefabrication of buildings for our stations in Antarctica. Conditions at the sub-Antarctic stations are widely different from those on the continent of Antarctica. The Department, working in close association with the Antarctic Division of the Department of Supply has evolved satisfactory systems of prefabricated onstruction to suit the conditions in each environment.
The Department was commissioned to design and build the Casey Station in Antarctica. The design made use of an aerodynamic form to reduce the problem of accumulation of drift snow from a blizzard. The building is 670 feet in length, stands 8 feet clear of the around on thin pipe columns and has a streamlined front to windward. This allows the blizzard to pass smoothly over and under it, so that drifts form clear of it where they can melt in the summer sun. Effectiveness of the design was tested in model form in the wind funnel at the Commonwealth Aeronautical Research Laboratories. This project attracted international interest at the Antarctic Treaty Meeting of Experts on Logistics at Tokyo in June of last year.
I now refer to the construction of the Mount Bellenden Ker television station and cableway. Tenders have been called, some on a world-wide basis for the first stages of construction, and for the supply of equipment, for the longest passenger carrying cableway ever built in Australia. This cableway which will be 3.3 miles long and will rise some 5,000 feet to the top of Mount Bellenden Ker - one of the highest mountains in Queensland - will enable the construction and maintenance of a television transmitter to serve the Cairns region and areas west of the Great Dividing Range.
As the area is a national park, the clearing necessary for the erection of the cable towers will be kept to a minimum, and will be done by hand under close control by officers of the Department of Works and of the Queensland Forestry Department. Apart from increasing the design problems involved, the rugged terrain, high rainfall and dense jungle will render construction difficult. The estimated cost of the work is $844,000.
In the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, the construction of Sirinumu Dam, stage 2, is the final part of a two-stage programme to provide regulating storage for the Ltd ok i River hydro-electric scheme. This scheme at present is the only source of electric power generation available to the Papua and New Guinea Electricity Commission for the supply of electricity to the town of Port Moresby and surrounding areas. The second stage of the construction of Sirinumu Dam consists of raising the existing rock fill steel faced dam by 24 feet; the provision of a permanent spillway and stilling basin adjacent to the main dam: ;ind the construction of eight earth saddle dams of varying sizes located along the northern perimeter of the main dam water line.
The contract, valued at approximately $2m, was let by the Department for and on behalf of the Papua and New Guinea Electricity Commission to the Dillingham Corporation of New Guinea on 31st July 1969, for the construction of Sirinumu Dam stage 2 and associated works. Upon completion of the works programmed for February 1971, the capacity of the dam will be increased from 70,000 acre feel to 275,000 acre feet, with the dam then covering 5.500 acres. This will permit the regulated discharge of 345 cubic feet per second down the Laloki River for the Rouna Power Station. The recently completed Rouna No. 2 Power Station will then be able to operate as planned.
I now refer to the erection of a light beacon and weather station on the Imperieuse Reef, off the coast of Western Australia. The Rowley Shoals, located some 200 miles west of Broome, represent a navigation hazard to the giant ore carriers plying between Japan and the newly developed iron ore ports in the north-west. The Department of Shipping and Transport has given the Department the task of erecting a light beacon on Imperieuse Reef which forms part of the shoals.
– Order! The honourable Minister’s time has expired.
– In the few minutes that remain before the suspension of the sitting I wish to address my remarks to Division 580 - Administrative. I want to say how much 1 appreciate having heard from the Minister a comprehensive statement of the activities and expenditures and the employment of people in the programme laid down. I hope that it. will be possible for the Minister in due course to complete the balance of what he planned to say. I had not appreciated until I read this document the size and scope of the Department of Works, lt is planning a total outlay for 1969-70 of about $320m, and has a labour employment, including staff and people in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, of about 1 6,800. I would like the Minister to let me know later whether he agrees that the number of apprentices employed, at 669, represents as high a percentage of the total number of people employed by the Department as he would want finally to achieve. This great Commonwealth Department embraces a very wide range of employment opportunities and the Commonwealth should be doing its utmost to encourage training at all levels. The Department of Works is engaged over the whole Australian continent in many areas that are difficult of access, and also in Antarctica.
In the short time available to me I would like briefly to reinforce the Minister’s remarks about the excellent work being done at Expo 70. I visited Japan privately to see my daughter and spent a day on the construction site of Expo 70, looking at the progress of our pavilion. I was highly impressed with its design. I also saw our pavilion at Expo 67 in Montreal. Both pavilions reflect great credit on the Department and the architect responsible, who is a departmental man. The construction schedule for our pavilion seemed to be well ahead of that of most other countries and it appears as though it will be finished on time. The director and other people responsible for the project express great enthusiasm for it. I gained the impression that Australia will receive great credit for its pavilion and exhibition at Expo 70. lt is located in a good position to attract visitors. The only reservations I have are not about our contribution but about possible transport problems in the crowded country of Japan. I have reservations that they will be overcome to the fullest possible extent, lt was planned that about thirty million people would visit the exhibition. About forty-five million to fifty million people may visit Expo 70 in the area serviced by the bullet train, the journey taking about 3 hours. About fifty million people live in that area and when the local travellers are combined with the number of visitors to the exposition there will bc a need to substantially extend transport facilities and to increase accommodation.
I would like to address some queries to the Minister about uniform building regulations. I want to ask him whether the Department feels at present that there is anything more it could do at the Commonwealth Experimental Building Station to increase investigations into building regulations, specifications and standards. I believe that Australia requires a substantial attack to be made on construction costs.
Sirring suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– When the sitting was suspended my colleague, Senator Cotton, had interpolated a few remarks in my statement introducing the estimates. I am offering this statement to the Senate in the hope of assisting honourable senators to understand the activities of the Department of Works and what it is doing with the money that it is expending. I was referring to the
Imperieuse Reef off the coast’ of Western Australia where we are erecting a light beacon and a weather station. A cylindrical, self supporting stainless steel tower, rising 120 feet and weighing 26 tons, is to be erected on a low island approximately 1,000 feet long, 50 feet wide and only 3 feet above high tide. Because the region is subject to serious cyclones, the opportunity has been taken to incorporate an unmanned weather station in the light tower. The project poses severe problems in logistics and construction. The Reef can be negotiated only above mid tide and in calm conditions. Some 350 tons of material and equipment must be ferried ashore from the lighthouse vessel ‘Cape Pilar’ in 4-ton loads by an amphibious vehicle.
The site construction work will be undertaken by day labour personnel of the Western Australian branch of the Department supported by personnel of the Department of Shipping and Transport and the Bureau of Meteorology. The work is expected to be completed in 6 weeks during which time all personnel will live aboard the ‘Cape Pilar’. The estimated cost of the project is $123,500.
Now a mention for South Australia and the provision of micro-wave repeater sites and access roads. The decision by the Postmaster-General’s Department to create a micro-wave link between Whyalla in South Australia and Northam in Western Australia involved the South Australian branch of the Department of Works in the design and construction of the site works and access roads for 42 stations. Six airstrips were also involved. Owing to the tight target dates there was insufficient time for extensive survey of the routes and for detailed design so approval was given for the Department of Works day labour organisation to undertake the work. Design parameters therefore were set covering pavement design for the access roads with typical cross sections and ruling grades, and the work was passed to the field on this basis. A major consideration governing the execution by day labour was the knowledge that the Department’s construction organisation, because of its experience in this field, would be able to carry out the task without the necessity continually to refer to the design organisation.
Much of the work was in very difficult terrain, and with suitable materials not always readily available and an extreme lack of water for construction purposes, the construction teams were required to develop special techniques and skills. As one example of this, one the Ceduna-Eucla section the limestone rubble available on site had a maximum nominal size of 18 inches! To obtain suitable aggregate a technique using a 15-ton Crush-Roll roller was employed to break up the limestone boulders. This proved completely successful. Owing to the extremely rough nature of the country and to the heavy work involved, field maintenance of plant was very high. Jobs which arc normally tackled in workshops had to be done in the field, and improvised techniques had to be developed to overcome many problems.
All of these construction difficulties were aggravated in the summer months by temperatures as high as 120 degrees Fahrenheit, and the large amount of very fine dust, sometimes 2 feet to 3 feet deep. As a contrast to this, as the winter approached and the work progressed into relatively high rainfall areas in Western Australia, the dust was replaced by deep mud. Major problems involving communications and supplies were overcome, with valuable assistance contributed from Flying Doctor bases and the Bush Church Aid Society at Ceduna. It is of interest to record that reliable water supplies were available at only four locations, at one site in Western Australia construction water had to be transported more than 800 miles from its source. The cost of the work amounted to $550,000.
I turn now to the Northern Territory and refer to the construction of beef roads and associated bridges. Beef road construction in the Northern Territory commenced in 1961, and reached its highest level in 1968-69 with an expenditure of $4.3m. The total expenditure since 1961 on over 1,100 miles of completed roads amounts to SI 8.7m. At present the Department’s day labour forces are constructing 98 miles of sealed beef road from Willeroo to Timber Creek. Contractors are constructing ten bridges on this road, the most notable one being the 440 feet concrete and steel bridge over the Victoria River. This bridge, providing two traffic lanes, is 30 feet above the river bed. Its completed cost is expected to be $250,000. When this road and the bridges are completed in 1970, the communication link from Queensland to Western Australia via the north will become, for the first time, practically all-weather. It will be possible to travel throughout the year by conventional vehicle across the Northern Territory from east to west except for occasional delays of a few days in times of heavy rainfall and high flooding.
While beef road construction has been in progress since 1961, these projects are highlighted because of the vast improvements that have taken place in remote areas in respect of the accommodation, messing and amenities for the day labour personnel of the Department and those of the contractors who are required to work in most arduous conditions. Permanent fly-wired camps with electricity, water supply, septic tanks, fans, cool rooms and, in some cases, window air conditioners are normal features of major construction units. But perhaps the most significant feature in recent years has been the mobility of construction camps. In the caravan context the Department has kitchens, refrigeration, mess rooms, ablutions facilities and showers, accommodation units, diesel sets, workshops and amenities areas all on wheels.
Referring to Alice Springs and the special housing programme, late last year the Department was asked by the Government whether it could complete within 12 months the erection of 120 houses and related engineering services for occupancy by United States personnel at Alice Springs. The Department accepted the challenge. Within 5 weeks of the Government’s approval on 26th November 1968 to proceed, four major contracts for the erection of the houses and the associated engineering works had been awarded. The site was completely under-developed, and in addition to the houses themselves, access roads have had to be built, and water, power, street lighting, sewerage and recreation facilities are being provided. Within 6 months, the first three houses were completed and at the end of August 1969, fifty-five houses had been handed over. This project illustrates, firstly, the close liaison and cooperation between the Department of Works and its contractors and, secondly, the achievement of a difficult task through drive and vigour by contractors in the field.
– I rise to a point of order, ls the Minister entitled to keep on reading, reading, reading?
– Yes. he is providing information for the Committee.
– All that I hear is reading. He is talking about housing in Alice Springs. Is the Minister in order in reading a speech?
– I have ruled that the Minister is in order.
– I want to know whether 1 may be told under what standing order you, Madam Chair, say the Minister is entitled to keep on reading a speech.
– I do not wish to read. The honourable senator who has presumed to interject has just come in and has not had the advantage of the thoughtful collection of information that out of consideration for honourable senators who are disposed to listen I have put before the Committee so that it will be more fully and accurately informed as to the activities of this Department. All that J wish to say in conclusion is that I have done that in deference to the Committee and those honourable senators who are minded to take an interest in this major Department’s contribution to Australia’s constructive development. I have also done it with the motive that presiding over, as I do at the present time with modest authority, a department of no mean dimensions I wish to recognise the great contribution of skill, energy and risk-taking that the members of my Department undertake out in the country away from the comforts of this Senate in which Senator Kennelly and others are nurtured. There the members of my Department work for this country and justify the expenditure that I am asking this Committee now to appropriate for the Department.
– I endorse instantly what the Minister has said in terms of initiative and enterprise, and the hard work which his Department has undertaken. I join with those who have already earlier in this debate paid tribute to the Minister for placing before the Committee this 8-page document which sets out in detail something of the work which his Department has done and which justifies the expenditure for which an appropriation is sought. There are very few departments within our federal establishment which have such a wide diversity of activity and which carry out such a wide range of works, as the Minister said a moment ago, away from the comforts of the metropolitan area in all manner of climatic and other conditions. I respond warmly to this opportunity to thank the Minister for this detailed account of what his Department is doing. In short, he has answered in advance so many questions of the sort that we ask during Estimates debates.
Having said that and paid my tribute of appreciation for the work which he, as Minister of State for the Commonwealth has carried out, let me say that there are one or two matters to which I should like to refer under Division 580. In the document which the Minister has placed before us the expenditure of the Department is dissected as between branches and the various States and Territories. As a South Australian senator, I note that the actual expenditure in that State in 1968-69 was §10,967,000, whereas the proposed appropriation for 1969-70 is $10,354,000. A decline in expenditure in that State is envisaged in the current year. But more importantly to a South Australian I note that the figure is the lowest of all of the figures relating to States and Territories. I think my fellow South Australian senators on all sides of the Chamber would share my concern that the Department of Works has expended only this comparatively low amount in South Australia, and it concerns me personally that the amount proposed for expenditure in that State is lower in the current year. South Australia has in broad terms about 10% of the population of Australia and if my arithmetic is nearly correct the proposed expenditure represents about 4% of the total for which an appropriation is sought for the Department. I should like the Minister to give in due course at his convenience some indication of the breakdown of this amount so far as South Australia is concerned. It is a matter of disappointment that the figure was so low last year and it is a matter of greater disappointment that it is even lower in the current year.
As I recall, the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) has made an announcement concerning a building to be erected in Currie Street, Adelaide, for some $6m or $7m - I am not sure of the amount - for which tenders are to be called at some time in the early part of next year. Whether the figure that has been put before us tonight includes that amount or whether when tenders are called the amount will be expended from the appropriation for next year I am not able to determine. Also, the Australian Broadcasting Commission has made arrangements for a very much needed building at Collingwood in the inner suburban area of Adelaide. The building will be of major construction and will cost a considerable amount of money. I should like the Minister to say whether, because of the passage of time in relation to tendering and the letting of contracts, the amount involved in that construction is related to the figure that is before the Senate tonight. However, having established that there is a measure of disappointment as far as expenditure in South Australia is concerned and having launched an inquiry about the Currie Street building for the Postmaster-General’s Department and the establishment for the Australian Broadcasting Commission, I think it is pertinent to observe that South Australia has a connection with the Northern Territory which other States in the normal way do not have. Honourable senators will note from the document which the Minister has given us tonight that there was an expenditure of S37,584,000 in the Northern Territory last year. The figure jumps forward to $46,447,000 for the ensuing year 1 969-70.
A great deal of this work could be going on in the top end of the Northern Territory and quite an amount of it is going on in what we call the lower end of the Northern Territory for which South Australia is the entry point. A number of contractors, transport people and others involved in construction and maintenance from the South Australian end are involved in this. Perhaps the Minister will comment on this in due course, but it may well be that the $46m for the Northern Territory includes some amount to be spent in South Australia. Perhaps the Minister will be good enough to state whether there is any relation between the Northern Territory and the State of South Australia in this regard. I want to make a plea in respect of expenditure on defence works in my concluding observations at this point of comment on the estimates for the Department of Works in relation to South Australia. I do so because of a figure which in my view is disappointingly low. Other honourable senators have raised this matter also. There could very well be a considerable and satisfactory increase in defence expenditure within South Australia which, with its installations at Salisbury, Woomera and elsewhere, is well geared to undertake certain defence work. The Department of Works might well take this matter up through the channels that are available to it to see that there is a greater distribution not only of money but also of work and of maintenance at the defence level.
Finally 1 renew a plea which has been made by my colleagues on all sides of the chamber over a period in this very connection when discussing the estimates for the Department of Works for the establishment ultimately - I hope before not too long - of a multi-storey building for the Commonwealth Government in Adelaide. For too long Commonwealth Government departments have been scattered about the city of Adelaide in a variety of buildings, lt is true that most Federal members and Commonwealth departments are happy in the present accommodation in one building or another, but even in the short time that I have been in this place I have been moved two or three times.
– I am not happy with my accommodation.
– I am happy where I am but it is not a very convenient arrangement when 1 have to go to the Department of Social Services, the Department of the Interior and all the other Commonwealth departments which are scattered throughout the city of Adelaide. Ours would be one of the few cities, if not the only one, that has not a building devoted to the services of the Commonwealth Government. 1 remind honourable senators that the services of the Common wealth Government are not inconsiderable in terms of people and in terms of their relationship with the community. For ali that, I again applaud the Minister for the way in which he has presented this document. I invite him to take into account these representations relating to the spending of a greater amount of money so far as the South Australian community is concerned. He knows very well, but I remind him again, that allocations of funds of this kind provide not only for labour but also for an impetus to industry and for ali the ramifications that make up a total Commonwealth activity. I would be grateful if in due course he could give some information on these points.
– I am prompted by the paper submitted by the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) to speak in this discussion. I am indebted to him for it. I disagree with what was said by Senator Kennelly. I think it always has been a feature of discussions on the estimates in this chamber that we give a different and much more detailed investigation than is the case in another place, lt has always been the feeling that Ministers cao contribute to a better exposition of the details of their departments by the making of some statement such as this which was made by Senator Wright. Therefore I think the contribution by the Minister is extremely valuable and 1 am sure that in this debate honourable senators will rely on it for the discussion that they will bring to the estimates for the Department of Works.
I am prompted to refer to the construction of the Australian pavilion at Expo 70. 1 am sure from what I have seen of the plans, that this is going to be a most forward looking and most artistic concept. What I am concerned about is that the artistry of the actual physical construction will not be marred by the vulgarity that unfortunately in the past has crept into our exhibition of Australian traditions and way of life, particularly to the Japanese. I cannot help recalling the occasion when there was a direct television communication with Japan and our contribution was a very well displayed but rather vulgar exhibition of belly dancing with a decorated abdomen. I cannot help feeling when 1 see what is going to happen at Expo 70, when apparently we are intending to attempt to present, an abdominal exhibition to the Japanese-
– No, I said abdominal On the last occasion it was the external decoration of the abdomen. I understand that on this occasion we are going to feature hot pies, so it will be an internal decoration of the abdomen, [n any case, whatever it is, I think, it does not accurately reflect the Australian way of life. I hope that the artistic concept of the Australian building for Expo 70 will not be marred by some display of vulgarity such as we have seen in the past.
I refer now to the construction of a television transmitter at Mount Bellenden Ker in Queensland. As a result of reading of this project I became interested in its tourist potential, quite apart from the value it will have as a television transmitting post for the far north of Queensland. It is in a beautiful rain forest area. I congratulate the Minister and his Department for the solicitude that they intend to display and are displaying in the preservation of flora of the area. Senator Mulvihill also will take great pleasure in seeing that this is in the forefront of the mind of the Department. If we have to intrude scientific devices we should ensure that they mar the natural environment to the least possible extent. In the document circulated by the Minister the chairlift is described as the longest passenger carrying cable ever built in Australia. 1 ask the Minister, who is also Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities, whether this chairlift will be used for tourist purposes and as a permanent tourist cableway, with facilities at the peak quite apart from the services of the television transmission unit, in the same way as chairlifts are available in the Alps of Europe for the public and for the pleasure of tourists visiting the area. If this is not the present intention of the Department, will it be integrated with the technical demands of the television station so that a most valuable dual purpose can be served? I should be delighted if the Minister would indicate that it is the intention of the Department to do so. If at the moment that is not the purpose or the ancillary purpose I certainly would commend it to him.
– I was interested in the remarks by the Minister concerning the wide ranging activities of members of the Department of Works. As a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works I have been privileged to see a great deal of the work that is being done by officers of the Department and the mcn employed by it, as well as the people concerned with the designing of works in many far flung parts of Australia. 1 visited the site of the Mount Bellenden Ker station which has been mentioned by Senator Byrne and was struck by the immense difficulties of the project. I was interested also in Senator Byrne’s suggestion regarding the use of the chairlift as a tourist potential. Members of the Public Works Committee considered this suggestion and examined its feasibility. The nature of the region is such that one could never be sure that people who are taken to the top of Mount Bellenden Ker would see anything but fog and mist. On the first occasion members of the Committee inspected the region we flew around in an aeroplane belonging to the Department of Civil Aviation and the mist closed in. We had to get out very smartly. On another occasion we had great difficulty finding a time at which it was possible to see the top of the mountain.
– During what time of the year was this?
– I forget. I think it was November. However, the Committee did inspect the Mount Bellenden Ker project. It was decided by whoever put forward the proposal that the proposed chairlift would not be economical or worth while because of the difficulties that would have to be overcome.
I refer to Division 594 - Repairs and Maintenance. There are several items of interest under this heading. An amount of S2.25m was appropriated for the Stuart and Barkly highways in 1968-69. The amount expended was very close to the amount appropriated. Expenditure on the next item - water supplies, roads and stock routes for pastoral purposes - in 1968-69 was also close to the amount appropriated. There was a similar situation with regard to roads for the transport of beef cattle. I feel that it is a tribute to the officers of the Department of Works that they have been able to estimate so accurately in an area where in the past there has been great difficulty achieving accuracy because of the many problems associated with such distant regions. I congratulate the officers of the Department for their accuracy in regard to this section of the estimates of the Department of Works.
I have a query in relation to the proposed expenditure outlined in the notes provided by the Minister. On the first page of those notes is a dissection of the expenditure by the various branches of the Department throughout Australia. The actual expenditure in the Australian Capital Territory in 1968-69 is quoted as S34.817m. This expenditure compares more than favourably with expenditure in other parts of the Commonwealth. It seems to me that the amount of expenditure in the ACT is disproportionate to the actual expenditure in 1968-69 of $56m in New South Wales, $45m in Victoria and Tasmania, $3 7m in the Northern Territory, $22m in Queensland, $13m in Western Australia and almost $llm in South Australia. I would like the Minister to comment on this aspect. These figures are given greater emphasis when one looks at the general summary which appears at page 7 of the document entitled Civil Works Programme 1969-70’. The total programme of the Department is given as $ 186.46m. The proposed expenditure of the Postmaster-General’s Department throughout the whole of Australia is given as $57.048m. But the programme under the control of the National Capital Development Commission is given as $ 100.4m. It seems to me that the expenditure in Canberra is disproportionate to the expenditure in the rest of Australia. It is true that an examination of the details of the Commission’s expenditure in the Australian Capital Territory indicates a wide range of activities that are normally carried out by State governments and municipal authorities. But if one examines the proposed expenditure on, for instance, Commonwealth offices one finds an authorised amount of $33m under this heading.
– To what page is the honourable senator referring?
– I am referring to page 99 of the document entitled ‘Civil Works Programme 1969-70’. An examination of the items listed reveals that $1,438-996 is authorised for the erection of Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation offices at Barton, $4,852,093 for the erection of the Anzac Park West offices at Parkes and $6,380,550 for the erection of the Commonwealth Avenue offices at Parkes. I notice that $71,207 has been authorised for alterations to a breezeway at the Russell offices, lt must be some breezeway.
I would like to draw the attention of the Senate to the operations of the Public Works Committee. The whole of this Australian Capital Territory expenditure is divorced from the scrutiny of the Committee. The only opportunity that the Senate has of questioning expenditure by the NCDC is in the Parliament, particularly during the debate on the estimates of the Department of Works. I feel that the Parliament makes available a tremendous amount of Commonwealth money to the NCDC without requiring it to justify the expenditure on economic grounds or on any other basis. I appreciate that it is unanimously agreed by visitors to Canberra that the NCDC is doing a magnificent job in the development of this city, but when one looks at the expenditure involved one is tempted to say: ‘And well it might’.
– I take advantage of the debate on the estimates of the Department of Works to raise a matter which is of considerable importance to the people of Sydney and to the commercial life of that city. I refer to the estimated expenditure of $29.5m on capital works and services for the Department of Civil Aviation. 1 take advantage of the debate on this section of the Estimates to criticise strongly, on behalf of the people of Sydney, the Department of Works for the cavalier attitude that it appears to have adopted towards the construction of the extension of the KingsfordSmith Airport and for the long time that it is taking to carry out the restoration workalong the foreshores of Botany Bay. particularly in the Brighton and Ramsgate areas, as a result of the erosion that occurred there following the original extension of the runway into Botany Bay.
Frankly, I think the attitude of the Department towards the people of Sydney and towards the future of the commercial life of Australia’s largest city is a national disgrace and has been a bungle from start to finish. By its delaying attitude the Department is seriously affecting and is causing concern about the future commercial development of Sydney. I believe the Government should be castigated by the electors at the forthcoming Federal election. As far back as May 1967 a former New South Wales Advisory Minister for Transport, the late Mr A. D. Bridges, who until the time of his death was a very prominent member of the Liberal Party, accused the Commonwealth Department of Works of rank inefficiency over the delay in building Sydney’s new $22m international air terminal and extensions of the northsouth runway.
– Was that delay because of the work being done at Tullamarine and at another place?
– Whatever be the reason, I want to know. That is the purpose of my speaking at this stage. A former New South Wales Advisory Minister for Transport made the statement that there was rank inefficiency in the Commonwealth Department of Works as far back as May 1967. Since then there have been other delays. What appeared to start off as a canter has now developed into a slow walk. On this occasion the Department of Works, the Minister and the Government cannot blame the industrial unions or the workers on the job for the delays that are occurring and that have occurred. The Department of Works alone must accept the responsibility.
For the purposes of the record, let me briefly retrace the history of the extension of the runway. In August 1963, over 6 years ago, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works recommended a 3,000-ft extension of the north-south runway to a total length of 8,500 feet, extending it 600 feet further into Botany Bay than the Federal Government originally proposed. After the report of the Public Works Committee was tendered in August 1963, a former Minister for Civil Aviation, the late Senator Paltridge, said that the dredging of Botany Bay at that time - May 1964 - would mark the beginning of a major works programme to improve operational and passenger facilities at the Kingsford-Smith Airport. In making the announcement he said that a contract had been let to have the runway extended to 8,000 feet. The work got under way.
In 1965 a number of members of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party led by the present Leader of the Parliamentary Party, Mr Whitlam, inspected the work being undertaken and, after the inspection, said that the runway should have been extended from 8,000 feet to 10,500 feet. We pointed out that the Federal Government was wasting $1.5m at that time by not extending the runway to the distance suggested by the Australian Labor Party. That was on 24th June 1965, when Mr Whitlam led fourteen Federal ALP members on the inspection. We pointed out that the Dutch dredge then working on the 8,500-ft extension should be retained to lengthen the runway to 10,000 feet. I think it was some 8 or 9 months later - some time in 1966 - that the Government decided to extend the runway from 8,000 feet to 9,100 feet. This work was carried out. The total cost of the work was about SI 2.5m.
– Not for 600 feet.
– According to records that I have checked, I understand that in 1966 the Government decided to extend the runway from 8,000 feet to 9,100 feet. That is a further 1,100 feet if my arithmetic is correct.
– I agree with the honourable senator’s arithmetic, but I dispute his figure of cost.
– I checked it from some documents that I had with me. Whatever be the cost, I am quite happy to hear what the Minister has to say. 1 am setting out the history to show the inordinate delay that has taken place. This work was carried out. The dredge that was brought out from Holland for the purpose of doing the dredging work has since gone back. In June last year the Government decided to extend the runway to 13,000 feet.
– That is what I want to know. The construction has been just one higgledy-piggledy arrangement - one thing after another. What I suggest is that this delay has been going on for 6 years.
– Only those who do not know the position ‘ do not understand it.
– 1 do not understand it and the people of Sydney certainly do not understand it. The reason why I am on my feet at present is to try to get some elucidation from the Minister. In June last year the Government decided to extend the runway to 13,000 feet. The proposal was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works. The extension to 9,100 feet was completed, I think, about last December. On 9th October last year the Committee presented its report to the Parliament. Among other things it reported that construction estimated to cost $23m should proceed without delay. It added that the runway extension project was behind schedule even before it was out of the planning stage. It also recommended that if the Government wanted to provide facilities commensurate with the needs of modern civil aviation it was the responsibility of the Department to plan with more energy and imagination than had been shown in this instance. That was the report of the Parliamentary Committee on Public Works. It also stated that, because the extension would not be finished in time for their introduction, the Boeing 747s would have to operate with weight and range restrictions. As I have said, that report was tendered to the Parliament in October last year. On 28th October in another place the Parliament agreed that the work should proceed. Apparently it then took another 5 months for the Minister to announce that tenders had been invited for the extension. On 12th April 1969, in the Australian’ newspaper, under the heading Tenders For Runway Extensions to 13,000 feet’, this article appeared:
The Federal Minister for Works, Senator Wright, said yesterday tenders had been invited by his Department for the extension of the northsouth runway at Sydney Airport to 13,000 feet. Among other things the work would require dredging 9 million cubic yards of sand filling from Botany Bay. The work is expected to cost S23m and the whole project is expected to be finished by 1972.
I know that from time to time the Government has said that Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport will remain Australia’s No. 1 airport, but what I want to know is whether it is going to take 120 weeks to pump the sand from Botany Bay to extend the runway to 13,000 feet. If it is not going to take 120 weeks to dredge the sand from Botany Bay, how long is it envisaged that it will take in dredging operations to pump the sand? If this is going to be the situation, might I ask the Minister: How can Mascot be opened at the same time as Tullamarine in the middle of next year? Surely it is sheer business principles that international airlines will want to load at Melbourne direct in preference to having passengers inconvenienced by having to change aircraft after being flown to Sydney by domestic airlines. I say that for the people of Sydney the record of the Government is not good enough; that the delay and hesitancy have to be tightened and improved considerably.
Under the same heading, I also want to say that I believe, as do many citizens in the southern suburbs of Sydney, that the Department is taking far too long properly and effectively to reclaim the beach erosion along the Brighton-le-Sands and Ramsgate foreshores. I say that the erosion that took place there as a result of the original extension was a national tragedy and I plead with the Department to get on with the job properly and give back to the people of the southern suburbs the natural beauty of the area that they were able to enjoy until the erosion took place.
Having said that, I want to touch briefly on the subject of the administration of the Department. The Minister will recall that on 21st May of this year I asked him a question relating to identical tenders that had been submitted to the Sydney Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board. The Minister, in replying, told me that he did not know whether identical tenders had been received by the Sydney Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board, and he went on to say, as recorded on page 1409 of Hansard:
Unfortunately I am unaware of the incident to which the honourable senator refers, but in the course of the administration of my own Department within the past fortnight an instance came to my notice of an identical tender for some contract on the part of two or three companies. This alerted me to pursue an inquiry into the matter immediately.
Might I ask of the Minister what the situation is with regard to the identical tenders that were submitted to the Department at that time and what were the results of the inquiries that were being pursued at that time? Finally, I wish also briefly to say something on the question of the Expo ‘67 exhibition at Osaka. Recently I was in Japan.
Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– 1 refer first to what Senator McClelland has said because it is obviously directed to attracting Sydney Press propaganda to a matter that concerns Sydney peculiarly. If that is so. I wish to give the mass media the opportunity of considering the reply. I therefore defer any reference to identical tenders and proceed immediately to the challenge that is offered me with regard to Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport.
The first thing that 1 notice is that the honourable senator who purports to represent Sydney is not game to refer to the most illuminating report that 1 presented to the Senate under the authorship of Mr B. A. Kerr, Project Engineer of the Department in October 1968. if any honourable senator cares to go to the effort of comprehending this tremendously complex engineering project he will see that this report explains that the project involved no less than six major components. Firstly, there is the extension of the strip into Botany Bay; secondly, there are the operation and control tower buildings; thirdly, there is the ground preparation for the instrument landing system; fourthly there is site preparation for the proposed international terminal building; fifthly there are the international terminal building and associated services and facilities; and sixthly there is the preparation for future domestic terminals in the north-west area. To this the advent of the jumbo jet added the problem of extending the airstrip and moulding the fingers and aprons to accommodate such aircraft.
Sydney will itself acknowledge, even though Senator McClelland purports to be ignorant of the fact, that the airport at Mascot has been operating on the 9,100 feet airstrip and accommodating the whole of the extraordinarily complex and concentrated airways services that have been going into and out of that area. We should remind ourselves that the area is a very midget one. My memory is that it is about 500 acres in comparison with Tullamarine’s 5,500 acres, and, of course, the construction of airstrips in the modern idiom requires us to go out into Botany Bay to get even sufficient length of runway to enable the aircraft to land and take off. The decision to maintain this area as n central focal area of Sydney was a decision made by the Labor Government that preceded us as long as 20 years ago. We have decided within the last 12 months to establish a committee to determine whether a second airport in the Sydney area can be established to form an auxiliary service to the airport at Mascot.
Now we hear the contemptible criticism that the foreshore of Lady Robinson’s Beach is late in recovery. Six months ago the same honourable senator deigned to offer the criticism that we were spending too much on the project and he imputed that it was out of a desire on my part to make safe the seats of our colleagues, Mr Bosman, Mr Arthur and Mr Dobie. I will visit the area in his company at any time before the 25th October which 1 can possibly arrange within my programme of duties, and I shall demonstrate to him and to the people whom he does not properly represent the degree to which the Commonwealth has recovered that beach. We should remind ourselves that when extending this airstrip into Botany Bay to the extent of 9,100 feet we took the advice of the main hydraulics laboratory in the world, the Wallingford Laboratory in England and relied upon its advice as to the effect of syphoning the sand from the seafloor into this pier. We continued, at the instance of the New South Wales Maritime Services Board, to rely upon that advice. Our process of reconstituting the beach and our further works have been in accordance with that advice.
When the Jumbo jet came into the field of aviation and we required a runway that would accommodate the Boeing 747, it was recognised that with a full load in taking off and landing it would require a runway of 13,500 feet. That project was put before the Public Works Committee, which approved of it, with some criticism, in October 1968. I have not time to go into a full refutation of that criticism. Then the New South Wales Government, which owns the bed of the sea in Botany Bay, put down a firm requirement that we should obtain the extra 8 million or 9 million cubic yards of sand that would be required for the extra 4,500 feet of runway not from the bay, but from the mouth of the port. That involved the construction of the hydraulics associated with the matter and the possible impact creating further risk to Lady Robinson’s Beach. The interplay of scientific advice between England and here and negotiations with the New South Wales Government occupied us until February 1969.
Then on 11th June we called tenders on a worldwide basis. I hope that Senator McClelland will extend his horizons out of Sydney and realise that our Department looks to the world for experience in such a unique project as this. The tenders that were put in lacked sufficient information on the proposed plan of work and the source and quality of rock to be supplied. If Senator McClelland would only consult Mr Keir s most stimulating report of October 1968. he would see that we had to go a distance of 70 miles from Sydney to get the rock for the previous pier and grade it with meticulous engineering skill. The rocks were from ones weighing 2 tons on the outer perimeter to ones of smaller dimensions and were laid in a properly graded way so as to construct the pier.
The tenders that we received did not give sufficient information on that aspect. My Director-General docs not ever take a tender as a pig in a poke. Nor did the tenders give sufficient information as to whether the dredges would be available which were proposed to be used to finalise the contract. Then it was necessary to consider interventions by Australian contractors who proposed that we have Australian dredges or Australian capital to provide our dredges. These investigations have been continuing. I say as Minister that I fully support the Director-General, who uses the utmost caution to ensure that all circumstances that will ensure the completion of the contract are guaranteed before we accept the tender, because that is our contractual obligation.
We expect to announce the acceptance of a tender for this extension of the pier within the next week or so. The situation is that on the programme that the DirectorGeneral is managing the runway extension is now expected to be completed in the early months of 1972, as scheduled. So much for this miserable criticism, which I have been asked to answer, from the honourable senator who purports to obtain political propaganda from a miserable and misconceived disparagement of a huge and complex engineering project.
Having said that, I would be content to resume my seat because, although there are other matters to which I wish to refer, it will take me longer than the remainder of my allotted 15 minutes. But I shall advert to what Senator Cotton said before dinner about the number of personnel. I inform him that the Department has 5,879 employees including temporary staff; 8,379 day labour employees; and 2,576 indigenes in Papua and New Guinea. So the total number of personnel upon whom we are dependent and to whom I pay tribute is 16,834. This huge organisation is responsible, without one syllable of criticism from the Auditor-General this year, for an expenditure exceeding Sim every working day.
My colleague Senator Cotton also asked about apprentices. The Department employed 669 apprentices in a day labour force of 8,379 as at 30th June. It is a policy of the Department to maximise the intake of apprentices, consistent with the nature of our work performed by day labour and our ability to train in relation to the limited scope of work. One difficulty in this area is that the bulk of our work is done by contract and generally is short term. We encourage apprentices wherever possible; for example, by prizes awarded in Papua and New Guinea for apprentices, contributions made to annual apprenticeship functions in the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory and active participation in Apprenticeship Week in New South Wales.
With regard to Expo 70, as I said I had the privilege of seeing the progress on the pavilion project. I pay tribute to the team of architects headed by Mr MacCormack. He was chiefly responsible for the design. He also designed the Montreal pavilion. He has recently left us for a better position. I pay tribute to the design of the pavilion. The Japanese contractors who inspected it with me in June were very zealous with regard to its attraction. As I said in my opening speech, we expect the underground tube to be in place in a month or so.
We expect the whole pavilion to be ready for the reception of the public in plenty of time and not, I can assure those honourable senators who made inquiries, on any basis of inferior exposition but on a basis on which the sophisticated development of the hanging dish will show revolving films so that the people waiting at the entrance will be entertained and then will go through the tube which has been designed by the celebrated architect Mr Robin Boyd and which will display many features of Australian performance and achievement. Our total expenditure on the project to date is $1,258,000, and the total expenditure is $4m. As I said in my speech, I pay tribute to the contractors who are developing the project.
Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
Senator MCCLELLAND (New South Wales) - I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honourable senator claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. During the course of his remarks the Minister used descriptive adjectives such as contemptible, miserable and misconceived, and made other disparaging remarks about the statement that I had made. The Minister also said that 6 months ago I had stated that the Commonwealth was spending too much on the reclamation of the foreshores of Botany Bay. 1 have never said that the Commonwealth was spending too much on that project and I challenge the Minister to produce a record of such a statement. .1 have always said that the work was behind schedule and should be stepped up. I therefore state that the Minister’s assertion that I said the Commonwealth was spending too much on the reclamation of the foreshores of Botany Bay is false and without foundation.
– The first reference 1 wish to make is to the comment that was made earlier this evening by Senator Kennelly. I must say that I was quite surprised to hear his criticism of this 8-page paper that has been put out by the Minister. I recall that the Minister did a similar thing last year and he was commended for going to the trouble of setting out in detail for the Senate the various areas in which he took a very active interest. Again tonight, with the exception-
– Mr Temporary Chairman, .1 call your attention to the state of the House. [Quorum formed.]
– Before I was interrupted by the numbers game 1 was commending our Minister for Works on the 8-page document which he has presented for the benefit of the Senate tonight and commenting on the criticism that surprisingly has been passed by Senator Kennelly. I noticed with interest that all the speakers so far, with the exception of Senator McClelland, had made reference to this document put out by the Minister. Without being at ali partisan I would like to commend the Minister for going to the trouble of setting out in some detail an explanation of the various areas in which he as Minister for Works is taking a very active interest. So, in. commendation and in praise, irrespective of the criticism that has been passed by one honourable senator, i ask that again next year the Minister go to the trouble of setting out for the benefit of the Senate a similar document. It will be of great help to us.
I wish to refer to Division 582 and in particular to the Department of Civil Aviation. I do this because last year I asked quite a few questions regarding the Adelaide airport terminal, with particular reference to air conditioning and the dimensions of the new terminal. I wanted to know whether it would be big enough to cater for the increased volume of air traffic. In referring to this matter may I say that it is very pleasing to see that at last the Adelaide airport appears to have a terminal that will for some time to come provide satisfactory facilities for tourists as well as for the residents of South Australia. 1 look forward to the time when this terminal is completed. Whilst I am in the area of civil aviation I would like to refer to a comment which has been made by Senator McClelland. For some time I have listened, to questions in this place criticising the Department with regard to air noise. We have heard criticism tonight of the Minister for Works with regard to the erosion of beaches and slowness in getting on with the job of getting the airport finished. There seem to be so many problems associated with the airport extension, particularly as represented by two representatives of a certain State, that I am surprised that they have not suggested that Tullamarine should be the alternative airport and that there be a transit service back to Sydney. That is only a thought that crossed my mind.
I want to refer to the Expo pavilion that is being built this year at Osaka in Japan. Here again I would like to commend the Minister for setting out, on more than half a page, some of the detail associated with this pavilion. I feel that Senator Byrne tonight made two very pertinent comments. I must say that I fully support him in his comments which were partly critical, but justifiably so. I refer again to the television show which he mentioned. As an Australian I was very, very surprised and disappointed that we saw fit to put on such a show as this for the first programme that was transmitted via satellite. But having seen the design of this building and at the same time having read the Minister’s remarks with regard to the construction of it, I regard it as a magnificent building and one that gives a great opportunity to this country to present itself in a very true and a very encouraging light to all those people who will visit Expo 70 in Japan. Australia today is, of course, developing greatly in its trade and in its relationships with the countries of this area, and here we have a great opportunity to exhibit our potential as a manufacturing nation and as a country for investment and for tourism.
I am certain that with the enthusiasm of the Minister for Works, who is also Minister-in-Charge of Tourist Activities, we are going to take full advantage of what is an excellent building in design - it is unique in its design - with a character of its own. Here the true Australian character will be brought to the fore and we as a nation will get a great return for the $4m that the Minister mentioned tonight as the capital outlay for the building. I am certain that as time goes on we will find that this will possibly be one of the best investments we have ever made. I commend the Minister for his efficiency and his enthusiasm in going there this year to have a look at this building and for what is being done in this area. I would now like to refer to Division 582 with particular reference to the Northern Territory. I will deal, if I may, with the beef road construction that is going on in the Territory. I know that this division also takes in the proposed expenditure on education, development, and other building in that area.
On page 7 of the document that the Minister placed before the Senate he referred to the construction of beef roads and associated bridges. Much is said here and in the other place and much is written of the lack of incentive provided by the Government for decentralisation and the development of this country. The Minister has provided a classic example of the way roads are being pushed out and communications established through very difficult country. Support for my remarks is found in the fact that one bridge will cost about $250,000 to build, as stated by the Minister. The Minister also pointed out that eventually an all-weather road will be constructed to connect Queensland with Western Australia. It will be used not only by beef cattle transports but also by tourists and traffic that may result from mining or another type of development.
Roads are one of the most important features in developing a rural area. One of the first requirements is communication, and the best means of communication with outback areas is by road. It is all very well to beam messages by wireless, but for physical communication roads are necessary. The fact that beef roads are being pushed out into these areas for distances of up to 1,100 miles at a cost of about SI 8.7m is an illustration of an excellent philosophy of progress. Perhaps some people living in metropolitan areas might question the necessity for that expenditure in view of the density of the traffic to be expected there when compared with that on the highways or main roads in metropolitan and urban areas. But this is one of the prices that of necessity must be paid in a developing country.
I turn now to the appropriation for the Department of External Territories in Division 584 - Repairs and Maintenance. In the paper presented by the Minister he referred to activities in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. I wish to refer to the amount of money, estimated to be $24,300, to be spent by the Department this year in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. That figure is cited by the
Minister on page 1 of his document. Last year expenditure under this item was about $21m.
– The item to which you referred shows an appropriation of $35,500.
– Am I in order in referring at the same time to the paper presented by the Minister?
– I cannot take cognisance of the Minister’s paper. I have in front of me the appropriation to which you have referred.
– I will leave that for the time being and I will refer to it again later. While I am dealing with this area, and following a recent visit there, I would like to comment on what is being done by Australia and by the Administration of the Territory. I appreciate the great amount of work that has to be done and the heavy responsibility that falls upon us as a nation to ensure that that work is carried out. I was accompanied on my visit a few weeks ago by my colleagues Senator Greenwood and Senator Laucke. We saw at first hand many of the problems associated with developmental projects for roads and water conservation.
– In the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. These projects are essential for the development of the country for the people there. I commend the Government on what it is doing in Papua and New Guinea. Perhaps when we are dealing with the estimates of another department I could expand my remarks on this subject. I turn now to the appropriation for broadcasting transmitter buildings in item 01 of paragraph 4 of Division 584 - Repairs and Maintenance. Perhaps honourable senators will allow me to be a little parochial for a moment. Earlier tonight Senator Davidson referred to the accommodation of the Australian Broadcasting Commission in Adelaide. For a long time the Commission has worked under difficulties because its sections have been spread throughout many buildings. At last the ABC is to be given a central administrative building from which, I hope, all its activities will be conducted.
Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– J wish to refer to Division 584 - Repairs and Maintenance. As previous speakers in this debate have done, 1 wish to comment on the statement presented by the Minister in opening his remarks. Last, year the Minister presented a similar document. These documents have been very helpful in providing information in anticipation of questions. I have found the document presented by the Minister to be very helpful, although it is not related to a particular division or furnished in reply to a particular question. The Minister has presented the document without leave and possibly in doing so has been highly out of order. Nevertheless, the document has been helpful to honourable senators.
– At least the tables in the document were presented by leave.
– I would have granted the Minister leave to present such an important document. It is only when the matter involved is unimportant that I refuse to grant leave. I think Senator McClelland was justified in his condemnation when he posed such a pertinent and hot question that he embarrassed the Minister into departing from the practice of other Ministers. The Minister engaged in political abuse for the purpose of ridiculing the questioner, rather than supplying the information requested. Senator McClelland was seeking information just as other honourable senators do and I think the Minister’s attitude in reply is deserving of some condemnation by the Senate.
In the statement which the Minister read to the Senate he referred to the number of day labour employees and the good treatment they had received from the Department in the form of mobile accommodation and facilities while engaged on beef roads construction. Perhaps the Minister can be forgiven if he glamourised the situation of employees receiving good treatment from the Department and left it to senators like myself to bring to the notice of the Senate the fact that all employees are not treated in that way. I refer to activities of the Department in the Northern Territory and in particular the case of four of its employees. On 29th October 1968 they were employed to proceed from Port Darwin for some weeks work at Cape Don, about 90 miles from Darwin. The vessel ./1…1.. , was engaged to convey these four employees to Cape Don. lt was later established that the ‘Vesla’ is not registered as a seagoing vessel. It has no registration to proceed outside Darwin Harbour. It is only 19 feet long, it does not carry navigational equipment and on the trip in question it was not in the charge of a person holding a master’s ticket. Those are the conditions under which some men are sent 90 miles across the trackless seas to carry out maintenance work for this Department which we are told treats its employees so well.
As a result of weather conditions and shortcomings of the craft itself, the ‘Vesla’ was lost for 2 days and a night and did not return to Port Darwin until it was brought in under tow at 3 a.m. on 1st November. The men were on the open sea with no navigational equipment to tell them where they were. This caused great concern and anxiety to the men, their families and the community generally. At great cost a big sea and air search was mounted to find the missing men. One of the men concerned was a member of the Building Workers Industrial Union. I seek leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
There being no objection, leave is granted.
– by leave - The statement I am about to make has just been made in the other place by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton). It is as follows:
The importance to Australia of a strong and continuing inflow of overseas capital has never been questioned by my Government. During the years after the end of World War II, the accumulated total of private overseas investment in Australia has been about S7,000m. Without it, it would have been impossible for us to develop as quickly as history demands we must. Our immigration programme would have been restricted. Import replacement and a growing independence of many overseas commodities would have been curtailed. And we would not have grown the industrial muscles we need.
This overseas flow of investment has developed resources which were previously unutilised, contributed to the sustained growth in our export income, and raised the general level of efficiency and real incomes in many sectors of the economy. It confers great benefits on us and it is essential that it should continue. It is, however, also true that overseas capital does not come to Australia merely because of a wish to confer these advantages on us. Basically it comes here because we are a politically stable country, because there are great opportunities for new development here, and because there are good opportunities for profit, and for growth as this nation grows.
Naturally, at a time when great new possibilities are opening up in this country we wish to see Australians get as good an opportunity as possible, within the limits of their resources and capacities, for participation in these developments and growth and profits. This is not an attitude that can or should be carried to the point of discouraging people from abroad who are willing to bring here their money and their energies and their know-how. But it is an attitude on the part of the Australian community which overseas interests have to recognise. To a very large extent they already recognise and are prepared to accept it. Many of them indeed, and an increasing number, have seen that it is an attitude which is basically helpful to them and can be turned, in a co-operative spirit, to their and our good account.
As we see it, the central aim of policy must be to provide, on terms which are fair as between overseas investors and the Australian people, the conditions under which investment will be attracted here. Those conditions should be such that overseas enterprises can operate securely and effectively, making the greatest contribution they can to our development at a fair return to themselves. And above all, there should be conditions under which they can work in harmony, on even terms, and so far as practicable on a joint basis and in close collaboration with Australian enterprises.
We do not believe that we can or should seek to legislate, in such a complex field. But we reiterate our wishes and have little doubt that overseas companies of repute will note and respond to those wishes.
The Government has, as its general objective, the encouragement of Australian participation in and partnership with, overseas enterprises. And in speaking of partnership I place emphasis upon the offer of equity participation to Australians by overseas venturers. As encouragement towards this end we have recently completed a review of the restraints imposed on overseas companies seeking to raise fixed interest borrowings in Australia - or the borrowing guidelines as they have come to be known. These guidelines apply only to proposed fixed interest borrowings, not to the raising of share capital in Australia for the purpose of financing operations by enterprises incorporated here.
At present overseas interests proposing any form of borrowing within Australia are requested to consult the Reserve Bank and Australian lending institutions are requested to satisfy themselves that overseas interests - or companies in which more than 25% of the shares are held by overseas interests - have received approvals from the Reserve Bank covering any proposed borrowings. This will continue. Generally speaking companies will be allowed reasonable access to Australian borrowings for financing normal requirements of working capital, bridging finance, and continuing carry-on requirements. Further, in accordance with the Government’s general policy of ensuring that every effort is made to increase exports of Australian goods, ready approval will be given to borrowings for the specific purpose of financing export transactions.
In calculating the new local borrowings that will be approved to finance fixed assets in future, the base will be the local borrowings approved as acceptable as at 30th June 1969 under the existing guidelines. Companies that are now regarded as having been established in Australia for a period of 4 years or longer will be allowed to borrow up to 10% of any increase subsequent to June 1969 in the total of shareholders’ funds, other funds from overseas sources, and local borrowings excluding those to finance increases in working capital or to finance exports. For the sake of brevity I will refer to this amount as the increase in funds employed.
Companies wholly overseas owned and established in Australia for periods of less than 4 years will be allowed local borrowings of up to 2i% of the increase in funds employed for each year that they have been established. Such companies will henceforth have a new base and a new percentage applied each year until they have been established here 4 years. From that time onwards they will be allowed local borrowings of up to 10% of subsequent increases in funds employed. For companies in which Australians have a share of the equity, additional borrowings to those set out above will be allowed. The extent of the additional borrowings will be determined by the share of the total equity in the company held by Australians.
To meet requirements of funds additional to the proceeds of new share issues and the local borrowings in accordance with the preceding paragraphs, a company will be allowed to raise in Australia a proportion of its total new borrowings which will accord with the proportion of shares in the company held by Australians. Australian equity will be weighted on a 4 for 3 basis so that the proportion for a company with 30% Australian equity will be 40%. If for special reasons overseas loan funds to match local borrowings cannot be arranged, access to local borrowings will nevertheless bc increased to take account of the extent of the Australian equity.
In the application of this aspect of the guidelines, the Reserve Bank will take into account, for purposes of calculating the extent of Australian equity, offers to Australians of new or increased equity, other than through convertible notes, which have not been taken up but which are considered to have been genuine and reasonable offers of local equity participation in the company. If new or increased Australian equity is offered bona fide through the issue of convertible notes, the Reserve Bank will take into account in calculating the extent of Australian equity one-half the future increase in Australian equity that would result if the notes were converted.
It should be mentioned here that approval will not normally be granted for borrowings that would facilitate the remittance of funds abroad. Consistently, moreover, with the long-standing exchange control policy of requiring overseas interests taking over enterprises in Australia to bring in cash to the full extent of the purchase price, approval will not normally be given to borrowings intended to finance a take-over. Overseas interests seeking exchange control for a take-over are reminded that, on completion, the changed ownership of the enterprise taken over will necessitate discussions with the Reserve Bank of the extent of local borrowings by the enterprise as a whole. In due course, the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) will be providing further details on convertible notes and on the borrowing guidelines.
During the developmental stages of many major projects there are either no earnings, or no surplus earnings available for distribution to shareholders. This, of course, discourages would-be investors who need a return on their capital at once and limits the amount of share capital which those promoting the venture can raise. Therefore the alternative of fixed interest borrowings, with a guarantee of income, has had more attraction to many lenders as well as to those seeking to borrow, for the borrower believes that by offering immediate return on the investment as income he will increase the likelihood of borrowing successfully. He also knows that the interest he must pay on fixed interest borrowings is cumulatively deductible for income tax purposes, thus substantially reducing the effective cost of his borrowings.
As a step towards attaining our goal of increasing Australian equity participation in Australian development, we sought means of diverting these fixed interest borrowings into borrowings with a chance of equity participation, lt was for this reason that the Treasurer announced in his Budget Speech our proposal to amend the income tax law in order to restore deductibility of interest for income tax purposes on convertible company securities. Before 1960 interest on all convertible securities was deductible; but it became evident that convertible notes were being widely substituted for equity issues and that, in the majority of cases, the plain purpose of this substitution was tax avoidance. So to protect the revenue, deduction of interest on all convertible securities was disallowed.
We do not intend to go back to a pre- 1960 situation. We shall minimise the scope for tax avoidance and will lay down conditions to which convertible securities must conform if they are to qualify for deductibility of interest. These conditions arc:
We believe that these conditions will have a twofold advantage. They will give companies adequate scope for using convertible securities to their best advantage in business financing and they will offer to Australian investors a new opportunity to participate in the equities of overseas initiated ventures in Australia, especially those in the extractive industries. If such ventures issue convertible notes to finance development or expansion, Australians who take up these securities will have an assured rate of income during the developmental period of the project with the option to acquire equity, and thus share in the growth of the business in subsequent years. The opportunity that convertible notes opens up for wider participation by Australians in the ownership of such overseas initiated ventures has been a major consideration in the decision we have taken to restore tax deductibility of interest on such convertible notes.
In so seeking to widen opportunities for Australian participation in ownership we have sought to ensure that the opportunities would be real and not merely nominal and that they will not be too long delayed. We think that the option to convert to shares should remain open long enough for the company to have established itself and for its shares to have value enough for noteholders to take them rather than opt for repayment in cash, ft is in order to provide adequate time for development and profitability that we propose that convertible notes should have a currency of at least 7 years and that the option to convert should not terminate earlier than 12 months before the maturity date of the note. We also believe that 10 years will for all practical purposes be long enough for convertible notes to remain outstanding. Certainly, if the development or expansion of an overseas initiated venture is to lead to an issue of equity to Australians, it is reasonable to expect this to be resolved within a period not longer than 10 years. Convertible issues proposed to be issued by companies in which more than 25% of the shares are held by overseas interests will be subject to examination by the Reserve Bank to determine that the terms of issue are reasonable and genuine.
The question of Australian participation in Australian development is not confined to expressing a strong Government desire for joint ventures, or to encouraging the offer of equity to Australian shareholders through borrowing guidelines. The question of protection of Australian companies against overseas takeovers also arises. The Government has given special consideration to this question of takeovers in general, whether such takeovers are by overseas or by other Australian companies.
We have been especially concerned to prevent the use of takeover methods which are unfair to a company’s shareholders as a body. I refer to such practices as the large-scale purchase of shares through nominees, to first-come first-served offers and similar manoeuvres. These problems were reported on by the Company Law Advisory Committee and in March this year the Standing Committee of AttorneysGeneral agreed to adopt the report in principle.
As the Attorney-General informed the House on 20th May the Commonwealth Government has considered that report and has decided to amend the Companies Ordinances of the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory to give effect to the Advisory Committees’ recommendations, namely,
A person having a beneficial interest of 10% or more in the voting capital of a company listed on an Australian stock exchange will be required to give notice of that interest to the company. The company will be required to enter this information in a special register which will be available for public inspection. The new provisions are to apply - but without discrimination against - persons resident, or companies incorporated, outside the jurisdiction, as well as to persons or corporations within the jurisdiction. The proposed provisions are generally in line with the existing law in the United Kingdom and the United States but, in view of enforcement difficulties, are to be accompanied by certain sanctions not provided in those countries. A registered holder who is aware that he holds on behalf of a non-resident will be required to furnish to that person information as to the requirements of the legislation.
It will be noted that the report does not recommend the prohibition of first-come first-served offers as such but the Eggleston Committee reported that these changes will ensure that this kind of offer will not escape the control applicable to other kinds of takeover offers.
There were additional proposals from the Associated Stock Exchanges and although these were not covered by the Committee because it considered they were outside its terms of reference, they will be incorporated in the Companies Ordinances of the Australian Capital Territories and the Northern Territory.
The proposed provision will be in the nature of an additional requirement, which will recognise the significance of a restriction on voting rights. Shareholders who do not vote affirmatively for a restriction - including those who do not vote at all - will, in effect, be treated as opposed to the restriction.
I turn now to takeovers which, irrespective of the method used, may be judged contrary to the national interest. In the past the Government has acted to preserve Australian ownership and control of enterprises which for special reasons of national interest or importance could not be permitted to pass into foreign hands.
For many years we have opposed the entry of overseas banks into the local industry. And in the areas of television and radio broadcasting the acquisition of control by foreign interests has been excluded by statute. Further statutory control is not at present contemplated and we do not believe that it is possible now to define further classes, or fields of enterprise which we believe should not, in the national interest, pass to overseas ownership.
However whilst our general experience over the years has shown that almost all overseas investment in Australia accords with our country’s interests it has also shown that there remains a need for the Government to be ready to guard against the transfer from Australian control of established companies in particular areas of activity. For example some few years ago there were thought to be attempts by overseas investors to take over an important and long-established Australian mining company, while more recently it was believed that there was an attempt to take over one of the principal Australian life assurance organisations, which would have carried with it the right to determine the investment policy of assets totalling some $700m of Australians’ savings.
Although we expect the need to arise only on rare occasions as a Government we reserve the right to do all in our power to prevent particular takeovers when, in the circumstances of the case, we would consider it to be bad in the national interest. The strengthening of the takeover code through amendment of the Uniform Companies Act should ensure not only that takeover proposals proceed in a fair and open manner, but also that the Government will have more time to intervene, or express a Government view, if it considers the national interest calls for it.
To sum up, we seek to encourage the flow of overseas capital into this country. We seek to make it crystal clear that we look with favour on joint enterprise and on the offer of Australian equity in new ventures - and that we will be disturbed where the opportunity for Australian participation is not given. We seek to encourage the growth of Australian equity by offering more access to the fixed interest borrowing as Australian equity in a company increases. We seek to protect companies against unfair methods of takeover and to reserve to ourselves the right to intervene in such takeovers when we consider it is in the national interest and we seek the acceptance of the basic principles of a code of good corporate behaviour.
Such a code was adopted by the Canadian Government 3 years ago. Speaking of overseas companies, and paraphrasing the language to our own environment, I think there are three essentials for which we look as a nation:
– I indicate that the Opposition desires an opportunity to debate this important statement which has been made by the Leader of the Government (Senator Anderson) and we would hope and do all in our power to insist that such an opportunity be provided before the Parliament rises. I do not know whether the Leader of the Government is in a position to say that he will do that, but if he agrees I would not want to do more at this stage than ask for leave to continue my remarks.
– by leave - Since the Senate has carried a resolution that Government business shall take precedence and, therefore, has postulated that there shall be Government business only from now until the Parliament rises for the election, I should point out that my moving that the Senate take note of the paper makes this item of business a Government matter. As to what arrangements I can make for the purpose of bringing the matter on for debate, that is something that we will have to look at and discuss. I am quite prepared to discuss this with the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy).
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT - Is the
Minister saying that the motion before the Chair is that the Senate take note of the paper?
– Yes, and Senator Cohen has the adjournment of the debate on that motion. I point out that a debate is currently continuing in another place. When the statement was made in the other place the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) went straight on to debate it. I realise that Senator Cohen may not wish to do that here.
– I have just seen the statement and it is not even properly typed.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Does Senator Cohen seek leave to continue his remarks?
– Yes, Mr Deputy President. I seek leave to continue my remarks at a later date.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Consideration resumed (vide page S87).
Proposed expenditure.$62,6 14,000.
Proposed provision. $80,380,000.
Proposed expenditure. $8,800.
Proposed expenditure. $14,500.
Senator CAVANAGH (South Australia) (10.00] - Prior to the interr uption of the debate I was referring to the fact that employees of the Department of Works had been sent by the Department to the Cape Don lighthouse, which is 90 miles from Darwin, on the vessel ‘Vesla’, which was not registered as a sea gong vessel. Although the ‘Vesla’ was 19 feet long it did not carry any navigational equipment. On the trip in question it was not under the charge of a person holding a master’s ticket. The vessel was lost for 2 days and a night. It was found at 3 a.m. on 1st November and was towed into Darwin harbour. The Building Workers Industrial Union of Australia had staled that the chartering of the Vesla’ for such a purpose shows the callous disregard of the Department of Works for its employees and its contempt for navigation and other laws. As a government body the Department should be keen to uphold and observe theselaws. Different treatment has been afforded these employees from the treatment afforded the employees mentioned by the Minister in his introductory remarks. A dispute has arisen over the overtime worked. The Department intended to pay for 40! hours. In relation to its members, the Union asked the Department to give an assurance that in the future men would not be sent outside Darwin harbour on an unregistered vessel which had no navigational aids and was not in charge of a person who has a navigational certificate. It also asked the Minister to make a public statement that in the future the Department would consider the safety of its employees.
In view of the fact that the families of the employees concerned were 2 days and a night without any knowledge of the whereabouts of their close relatives the Union considered that there should be some form of ex gratia payment. The suggested sum was$500. In a letter dated 3rd January 1969 the Minister refused the request of the BWIU. He said:
Following the calling of quotes it was determined that the’Vesla’ was the most suitable available vessel and that, from the papers produced by the operator, both the vessel and the operator met the necessary licensing requirements. Subsequently, after the ‘Vesla’ had returned to port, the Department was advised that the vessel was not licensed to operate outside the Darwin harbour. This matter is now in dispute and it is understood that the operator has sought legal advice to establish his position.
My complaint is that men were sent 90 miles in a vessel that the Department has since been advised was not registered to operate outside of the Darwin harbour. In a subsequent letter the Minister said that the ‘Vesla’ was used as it was considered to be the most suitable vessel available at the time. So although the vessel did not comply with navigation laws it was apparently safer than the other vessels which were offering at the time.It has been claimed that the men were considered not to be in any danger. The vessel was only drifting out at sea somewhere! lt did not have any navigational aids and there was no signpost to direct them back to Australia. Regardless of whether they were heading towards or away from Australia they were lost for 2 days and a night. One can imagine the anxiety caused to the relatives of those who were missing. A search was organised and the mcn were finally returned to Darwin harbour. In his letter of 10th January the Minister said:
The’Vesla’ was used since it was considered to be the most suitable craft available for the purpose, at the time.
Apparently there was no thought of complying wilh (he navigation laws. This was considered to be the most suitable craft available and so it was used. I suppose the only others available were canoes and that sort of thing. This is an indication of the concern of the Department. It is not looking after the welfare of its employees. The Minister went on to say in his letter of 10th January 1969:
From the experience on this occasion, however, such a craft would not be used again even if it became necessary to postpone a visit of inspection.
So, because the vessel waslost for 2 days and a night, the Department would not take that risk again even if it meant postponing a visit of inspection. The Department is making a big sacrifice! lt would rather postpone a visit of inspection than risk the lives of its employees. The Minister went on to say:
Although concern was felt by others, the mcn themselves did nol suffer any monetary loss and payments have been made to them in accordance with award provisions covering the conditions of their employment. I am therefore unable to agree to the making of any ex gratia payments to the employees concerned.
– No, they did not get overtime rates. They were paid for the time involved.
– Does the honourable senator suggest that they were not paid overtime rates? He should exercise a little care.
– 1 would hope that the Minister is not preparing to evade making a complete reply to my allegations by using abusive tactics and ridiculing my argument because of my lack of study of the matter. On a later occasion I could advise the Minister of the actual payments that the men received. I know that it was not the amount requested by the BWIU. It would appear from the Minister’s letter that the amount they received was the amount to which they were entitled in accordance with the appropriate award. Of course, the award would apply only to carpentry duties performed by the carpenters and there would not be any provision for penalty rates for being lost at sea. As this matter has never been argued before an arbitration tribunal the BWIU has sought an ex gratia payment to cover the suffering and anxiety of the relatives of the men concerned. The Minister could not see that such a payment was justified. Subsequently, I may set out the actual payments made. In the first instance the Department intended to pay the men concerned for 40* hours, of which 24 hours was to be paid for at the ordinary rate and the remainder at the overtime rate, making a total of 54 hours at the ordinary rate. I am concerned about the complete disregard for the safety of these employees who were sent to Cape Don. They may have been sent to Cape Don on a number of occasions, but the fact that they were lost at sea when they were considered to be in no danger-
– Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– Senator Cavanagh has chosen to excuse himself for ignorance of a particular incident that he raises tonight without giving me any notice. A million incidents might occur during the course of the Department’s activities. This incident was the subject of correspondence between myself and the Leader of the Opposition as long ago as January of this year. It concluded with a letter from myself to the Leader of the Opposition on about 10th January of this year. I would have thought that if the Opposition had any real interest in any of the remaining alleged injustices in this matter 1. would have heard from it by way of correspondence to enable me to give consideration to the matter.
The fact is that on 29th October 1968 the need arose for a branch of the Department in the Northern Territory to conduct a cyclical maintenance inspection and to prepare estimates for work to be carried out for the Department of Shipping and Transport on the lighthouse at Cape Don, which is situated about 120 sea miles out of Darwin. The vessel ‘Vesla’ was commissioned after an inquiry by the Department as to whether it was licensed under the navigation laws. The proprietor asserted that it was. The vessel subsequently failed, due to haze and engine trouble, to reach its destination and was afloat out of Darwin harbour for something like 70 hours. It was almost precisely 70 hours from its time of departure to its time of return. The proprietor then took up with his legal advisers the claim that the vessel was licensed.
The Department regretted very much that it had been misled into commissioning the ship, the licence of which was in doubt. In that respect we were sympathetic to those who had been caused some anxiety. We said that on any subsequent occasion we would try to ensure that there was no doubt as to the seaworthiness of the ship.
We refused an anxiety neurosis compensation of $500. or whatever amount was claimed, but in respect of the 70 hours of physical time from departure to return we paid the equivalent of 112 hours. I can give the day-to-day and hour-to-hour figures if they are needed. On the first day there were 9 hours of double time, on the second day 14 hours of double time, on the third day 14 hours of double time and on the fourth day 1 hour of double tmie Therefore I close my reference to Senator Cavanagh’s carping complaint by stating that the incident, the correspondence on which has been closed for 9 months, revealed, I would have thought, a proper concern by the Department for the interests of its employees and a proper compensation for their absence.
Reference was made by my colleague, Senator Young, to the Department of Civil Aviation projects in the Department of Works programme. He acknowledged that the Adelaide terminal had been extended. Both he and Senator Byrne referred to Expo. Senator Byrne asked that 1 assure the Senate that Australia would be represented properly by its display there. Those who have confidence in the designer of the tunnel, Mr Boyd, would be assured that the exhibits would represent Australia properly. Those who have seen the design of the dish which will incorporate a revolving movie picture theatre and other artistry will know that Australia will be properly exposed by the exhibit. Senator Young referred also to the beef roads projects. I think we should begin to understand that since 1961 the Department of Works in the Northern Territory has completed the construction of 1 100 miles of internal beef roads at the cost of $ 1 8.7m. We have to add to that figure the mileage of beef roads that extend into Western Australia and to Queensland. In 1961 road droving of cattle in the Northern Territory represented the method by which 80% of cattle were taken to market. Today about 85% of cattle coming to market are transported by motor transport over these beef roads. That should make us begin to realise that this programme represents a dynamic development project which has contributed greatly to the economy and efficiency of primary producers who wish to avail themselves of the opportunity to export meat to overseas markets.
Now 1 refer to what was said by my colleague, Senator Prowse, who noted the reference to the Barkly Highway, for instance, and the close correspondence between the estimate and the actual cost of projects. J am very glad that he brought this to the Senate’s attention because I believe it would be true to say that in the last 21 years in the case of not one major project, has the estimate upon which the project was commenced been more than 5% or 7% out of correspondence with the achieved cost. Senator Prowse then, I think significantly, drew attention to what he described as the disproportion between the amount of the capital works programme in the Australian Capital Territory and that in other areas of Australia. He referred to the speech I made and remarked that $35 in was to be appropriated through the Department of Works for ACT development this year. He referred to page 7 of the Civil Works Programme to show that the programme provided for about $40m through the Department of Works and for about $60m through the National Capital Development Commission, a total programme of something like $100m. Senator Prowse will correct me if my statement of his figures in approximate terms is not in conformity with the record. I remind Senator Prowse and the Senate that that figure is the total cost of projects over a number of years. The actual expenditure this year in the ACT through our Department is $35,987,000. As I said in my statement, that represents about one-half of the total expenditure to be incurred in the ACT through the joint efforts of the NCDC and of the Department of Works this year. I was pleased that Senator Prowse paid tribute to the magnificent job being done by those who are developing the country. I think we would all join in that tribute. Nevertheless 1 do not repel for one moment his suggestion that we should keep constantly in mind a proper proportion between capital expenditure in this city and the expenditure that benefits other areas.
That brings me to my reply to Senator Byrne’s reference to Mount Bellenden Ker and his suggestion that I, as Ministerin.Charge of Tourist Activities, should have directed my mind to the possibility of using for the development of a tourist resort the cableway leading to the television facility on the mountain. The Government has given consideration to this, but for the reasons that Senator Prowse referred to, based on his inspection of the site as a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, no great enthusiasm is entertained by the Government that at present this site should be developed as a tourist resort for the people who are likely to visit the area, which is some 40 miles south of Cairns.
Senator Davidson drew attention to the fact that this year South Australia has a vote of only $10,354,000 for capital expenditure. He said that that represented 4% of the whole programme as against the fact that South Australia’s population represented 10% of the nation’s population. That may be true, but we have always insisted that developmental work that the Department undertakes must arise from the proposal of the client department, having regard to its needs. The Department takes into account several things; it takes into account the various other areas where it has to develop facilities. In the national interest we have to develop the facility where it is needed most. Those South Australians for whom I share a real regard and who have claimed that proper development should take place in their States will be reminded, by my introductory statement, that this year we will commence a project for the Australian Broadcasting Commission in Adelaide which will cost S3. 7m and one for the Postmaster-General’s Department which will cost $6m. South Australian senators will know that we have under consideration there a project with regard to the law offices of the Commonwealth. We also have under active consideration a project for the collective housing of Commonwealth departments in proper Commonwealth offices. No decision as to this has yet been made, but one will be made at the appropriate time and after full consideration.
– I refer to Divisions 764 and 765. They relate to Civil Defence - repairs and maintenance, and Civil Defence - buildings, works, fittings and furniture. Can the Minister inform me as to the nature of these buildings, their purpose and where they are located?
– My comments relate to Division 925 and refer to the same subject as that upon which Senator Davidson has spoken - the provision for capital works and services. I, too, draw attention to the reduction in the appropriation for works and services in South Australia. I also point out that in recent years we have complained that the percentage of work accorded to South Australia has dropped considerably. For example, in the year 1956-57 the amount per capita expended in that Slate was $6.25. It rose to $8.09 in 1960-61 then declined in successive years to S7 and $4. It was $4 in 1966-67. In 1967-68, the amount spent per capita was $9.59. lt is estimated that for the year 1969-70 it will be $8.91. Although the amount spent per capita has increased, the percentage spent in South Australia compared with other States is no more than it was 4 years ago, when it was 4%.
The Minister has stated that consideration is being given to carrying out extra works over and above what is to be done for the Postmaster-General’s Department and the Australian Broadcasting Commission. We can see good reason for his making the announcement he did in South Australia last year. When he visited South Australia in March 1968, he said that with the important exception of the Reserve Bank, the relative proportion of Commonwealth works built in Adelaide had not been encouraging. The Minister has also mentioned tonight that it is possible that consideration will be given to building a new Commonwealth centre. He will recall that on frequent occasions in this chamber we have urged the Government to build a Commonwealth centre to accommodate the twenty-seven different departments in that State which are housed now mainly in private buildings. I remind the Minister that although the Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices, the Department of Social Services and the Department of Health are now accommodated in a much improved building, this new accommodation still has defects which have been brought to his notice. I mention for example the anxiety expressed as to whether the new accommodation constituted a fire trap. I appreciate what the Minister has done about this. When the matter was brought to his notice he did quickly ask an officer of the fire brigade to make an inspection. He is now awaiting that officer’s report. But this does not remove the urgency for building the new Commonwealth centre that the Minister mentioned last year. I trust that a positive decision to carry out this work will be made.
In addition to the lack of continuing Commonwealth works in South Australia, a number of employees of the Department of Works have been retrenched from Woomera. I would be interested to know from the Minister how many have been put off because of the decrease in the role played by Woomera in space and rocket activities. I am told that some of these employees who include carpenters and other tradesmen were getting very close to the years when they would be entitled to long service leave but, because work was not available for them at Woomera, they have been either dismissed or, if they were specially qualified men transferred to semiskilled work with a view to retaining their services in the hope that more suitable employment will be available to them in the future. 1 would be interested to know whether there is any chance of those employees who were found to be redundant becoming entitled to long service leave and whether those tradesmen who are now occupied on semi-skilled work have any possibility of being transferred back to tradesmen’s work in the near future. 1 come now to Adelaide airport. 1 should like to know from the Minister whether due consideration has been given to air conditioning that airport. The Minister will remember that South Australian senators on both sides of the chamber have expressed their doubts as to whether the present cooling system at the Adelaide airport would be effective under fairly warm weather conditions. Has the Department taken any new decision with relation to air conditioning at the airport?
I refer to another matter relating to the Adelaide airport which applies equally to other airports, especially to Tullamarine. The Minister will probably recall that at many airports overseas there are now available covered vestibules for the protection of passengers while embarking on or disembarking from aircraft in wet weather. These vestibules are portable. They can be easily moved from one aircraft to another. In Australia, however, at places such as Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport where passengers change planes, as the Minister and I do, it frequently happens that passengers are required to walk a long way to and from the aircraft without protection in wet weather. As I have said, at overseas airports there are mechanical walkways. These are mobile units by means of which passengers go to and from aircraft. I am wondering whether it is proposed to provide at Australian airports, particularly at Tullamarine, which is a new and up-to-date airport, up-to-date methods such as have been adopted for the convenience of passengers at European airports.
– I should like to express my appreciation of the statement on the estimates for his Department which the Minister presented this evening. I do not think we can ever have too much information about the way in which the money we appropriate in this place is to be spent. In the ordinary course of events, I would have objected to the statement being read. It was similar to what we get in connection with the estimates for every department, but I understand that on this occasion the Minister read the statement because he was asked a question by Senator Ormonde. I was not here right at the beginning.
– Senator Ormonde is not responsible for it. I read the statement in the interests of accuracy and conciseness for the information and assistance of honourable senators.
– I thank the Minister. I should like some elucidation on what appears to me to be a duplication.
-(Senator Bum) - Order! To which division is the honourable senator referring?
– I am relating my remarks to the document which the Minister read. There appears to me to be a duplication. I have no doubt the Minister can sort it out for me. On the first page of his statement the amount spent on works for the Postmaster-General’s Department is shown as $37,350,000. I was under the impression that when the PostmasterGeneral’s Department started to function under a trust account it would carry out all its own work. When I look at the document headed ‘Post Office Prospects and
Capital Programme 1969-70’ 1 see that the amount for which the Postmaster-General’s Department is asking is $229m, which includes $35m for buildings in the year 1969-70. That is very close to the amount that is included in the estimates of the Department of Works.
When I look at Division 925, under which all buildings and works of the Department of Works are set out, as far as I can see there is no reference to work being carried out on behalf of the Postmaster-General’s Department. When we look at the Civil Works Programme, which is under the control of the Minister, we find that from about page 75 to page 87 are set out the works in progress and the proposed new works which are to be carried out on behalf of the Postmaster-General’s Department by the Department of Works. They come to the same amount of about $30m. So, it looks to me as though the Department of Works is asking for an allocation of $37,350,000 for work that will be carried out on behalf of the Postmaster-General’s Department, and the latter Department is asking for S229m which includes $30m for buildings. This seems to me to be a duplication. T am sure that there is an explanation of it. I merely say that the way I am looking at it it seems that it is put in twice.
– I refer to the Public Works Committee. I will be as brief as 1 can. I have always thought that the Committee is not a totally efficient organisation - not because of its personnel but because it has not the tools with which to work and to do the job it is set up to do. For example, it is inexpert and when it seeks expert opinion it receives government opinion, which I do not think is necessarily the most independent opinion one can be given.
I would like Senator Wright to know that I appreciate the document that he has circulated because it displays the state of accounts for us clearly and publicly. On the first day of the Estimates debate I asked that all Ministers supply information in more detailed form than is available to senators in the Budget papers. I recall that at the time of last year’s Estimates debate 3 or 4 very important reports had not been presented and could not be discussed. That cannot be said in respect of the estimates of this Department.
That leads me to explain more fully what 1 am getting at in relation to the Public Works Committee. The Minister’s document lists a series of amounts which add up to $266,650,00. The represents a lot of work. But, if I know my business here, the Public Works Committee will report on only a very minute part of that work, lt is limited as to the value of buildings which are about to be erected and upon which it has to report. Actually, it will not report on the majority of the buildings represented in that amount of $266,650,000. It reports on a very minute portion of the public works expenditure of this country.
I often wonder why it was set up at all. Obviously in the first place it was proposed, I dare say, to take an overall view of public works. But either then or later somebody came along and limited the value of the projects on which it has to report. I was a member of the Committee for about 6 years. 1 think the limitation then was about £250,000. Of course, it is more than that today. The projects being investigated today involve much more money than that. 1 would like the Minister to explain to me, if he can, what portion of this total amount of money is unexamined by the Public Works Committee as compared with the portion that is examined, if that portion is included in (he total amount.
On the matter of expert opinion, 1 believe that the Committee should be supplied with independent expert opinion or government expert opinion associated directly with it. Very often I have seen Department of Works experts come before the Committee. That looks to me like the Department of Works examining itself. There is a great possibility of that happening. I am not saying that the Department of Works experts are not honest men; but naturally they would not be as honest as other people are or as diligent as other people are in examining projects. I do not think it is a good procedure. 1 direct this question to the Minister: Why is it necessary for the Department, which is not actually a building organisation - it does not contract as such - to employ 8,379 men? In what work are those men engaged? What are their activities? Is it necessary to have so many men in a department which is not physically engaged in the building industry? 1 repeat that the Minister’s document is very good in that it stirs up in senators opinions or questions on aspects of problems that might not otherwise arise. For that reason, I am thankful for it.
It states that the building work is carried out mainly by contractors. Of course, that it the Department’s problem. Private contractors do most of the work that is represented in the huge amount of money to which I have referred. I would like to know from the Minister what sort of control there is over contractors. I know that generally speaking they employ union labour. But are union conditions being observed? In the building industry all sorts of things are going on. The unions themselves have great difficulty in policing their awards and trying to keep the industry balanced. The men have good conditions. The unions endeavour to keep the men working under good conditions.
Within a few hundred yards of where I live in the city of Sydney, two buildings are going up. One will be eighteen storeys high and is about half finished; the other will be twenty storeys high. About 3 weeks ago the men there worked 7 days and 7 nights and they were concreting on a Sunday night. The people around there did not get much sleep that night.
– On what job was that?
– The buildings are being put up by private contractors. The workers were concreting on Sunday night, and they worked on the Saturday, too.
– Is it a Department of Works job?
– No, it is a private industry job. But this is what I am saying: If these private contractors will do that sort of thing while they are working for private industry - namely, break union rules and do it at night in order to get away with it because the unions are unable to catch them - why cannot the same thing happen in regard to government contracts? These are the contractors with whom the Department is associated in general building contracts. I want to know whether the Government has a plan to police it. Does it look after this aspect?
– That is a very good question if you can understand it.
– The honourable senator will in time. There are a lot of things I have had to teach him. My point ought to be clear, and I know it is to the Minister. The Department is employing contractors and it could easily say that it cannot control them. There might be a bit of truth in that, but I am not asking the Minister about that aspect. I am asking: Does the Government make any attempt to control contractors? For example, does it ask the contractors whether they employ union labour? I know that the Department is not without its problems in relation to this matter, but I imagine that it could cost the Government a lot of money, whereas proper control and examination of the matters I am speaking of could save a lot of money.
I wish to refer now to armoured car payroll services. Do I understand that the Government has not had any losses in this regard? If it has not then it should give the recipe to the police of New South Wales because we have four a week. I thought that there might be a method of control in relation to this aspect of the Department’s activities which could well be passed on to the State Government or to private industry because it is a big problem in the city of Sydney today. I now pass to the proposed expenditure for private architects, engineers, quanity surveyors and other consultants. The Department has separated these professional people, and their employment involves an amount of $3,900,000, which is a lot of money.
– That is the proposed expenditure for this year. Last year the expenditure was $3,550,000.
– I see. I am asking why that is necessary. Why does the Department have to go outside the Public Service for architects? I imagine that the conditions in the Service would have enticed architects to join it. Is there any reason why these people are brought in from outside? Are these private firms? I will leave those matters with the Minister and hope that he will supply me with answers, particularly in relation to the Public Works Committee. I have been wondering why it is not given more expert opinion because it has to do some expert jobs and I am certain that the members are not qualified in those fields.
They could not possibly have full knowledge of the things they are required to examine. Is the expert opinion available to the Committee sufficient to achieve the purpose of the Committee’s inquiries? I would like the Minister’s view on that.
– I am grateful to honourable senators for their sweeping surveys of the various items under review. 1 shall deal with the points raised in the reverse order of mention. First of all, with regard to the expenditure of S3. 9m this year on fees of architects and other professional people, one of the reasons 1 referred to the highly technical and diverse type of job that the Department has to do was to illustrate to the Senate the calls upon the multifarious skills of our staff. There are nearly 1,000 architects and engineers employed in all, but we would not profess to be the zenith in experience on some jobs. Where a feasibility study has to be made of a big project it is very prudent to go to a private consultant who has specialised in that field. The tendency in Australia, in Japan and in America is, as construction works become more complex, to require a conjunction of professional skills to contribute to advice on the one project in order to ensure the reliability of the final design before one is committed to the contract obligation. If one looks through the expenditure of the Department over the last 4 years, it will be seen that the expenditure under this item was less than $2m. This year we are proposing an expenditure of $3.9m, of which, as I told Senator Webster the other day, not more than SI 00,000 was paid to overseas consultants.
Because we drew on overseas consultants 5 or 6 years ago one of their members has established himself here, joining in association with Australian skills, establishing an Australian consortium and building up with, f think, great skill and strength an expertise within our own country that will give great strength to the industry in which the Department participates. Senator Ormonde then referred to the item for armoured car payroll services. We have had no loss this year. We had one last year and it was doubtful whether the loss was incurred by the carrier, lt may have occurred within the office. But it was recouped and, as 1 pointed out before, the Auditor-General reports no loss of plant or money in the whole of the Department in the year under review. With regard to the reference made by Senator Ormonde to the scope of the scrutiny of the Public Works Committee, it will be helpful to the Senate if I state that the works programme, both civil and defence, that is being committed this year - that is, commenced this year - aggregates $177m which is made up of S 101 m for civil works, $30m for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department and $45m for defence works. I have slated the amounts possibly not to the nearest decimal point.
When one realises that under the Public Works Committee Act there are some defence works that never go to the Committee because they involve public security, that there are other not very frequent works of a civil nature that do not go to the Committee because of urgency, and that only works in excess of $500,000 are referred to the Committee - and the great proportion of our works still do not exceed that amount - one finds that the Committee’s scrutiny extends to not 40% of the total programme. I speak subject to correction later. But it is a reasonable and substantial sample of the programme that is covered. lt. is a very reasonable safeguard for the Parliament and I pay tribute to the capacity with which the Committee investigates a proposal, as instanced by the fact that here today the Committee has recommended that a project that was put before it by the Department at the instance of the Department of Health in relation to hospital services in Canberra be not proceeded with. As the Minister to whom that advice is tendered I express the utmost appreciation of an independent viewpoint. The report is being examined and it may be necessary to make some more detailed reference to it tomorrow. I say this so that honourable senators will not weaken in the confidence that we repose in the work of the Public Works Committee, working in scrutiny of the jobs we put forward involving the expenditure of public money.
Senator Wilkinson referred to the civil works programme in relation to the Postmaster-General’s Department, saying that only about $30m was related to the Department of Works. That is so because it relates to expenditure upon Postal Department buildings that we will incur this year.
The further moneys of a capital nature that the Postal Department requires are absorbed in technical equipment, automatic exchanges, furniture and furnishings, motor vehicles and that type of thing. Our proportion of the Postal Department’s capital works is therefore not great.
Senator Bishop referred to various matters, the first of which was the fire hazard in the offices presently occupied by members of Parliament in Adelaide. I would have been obliged to the honourable senator had he told the Senate that in the last week or two I informed him by letter that that matter would be reported upon by the South Australian Fire Brigade Board within the next 2 or 3 weeks. Upon receipt of that report I shall give the honourable senator and other interested honourable senators full information on the matter. Senator Bishop also referred to a Commonwealth centre in Adelaide. I indicated in reply to Senator Davidson that that matter is actively under review. When referring to this subject I cannot but recall the great interest in it that was taken by our late colleague, Senator Laught. I take a little pleasure in having carried on his purpose by bringing to the matter what I think is a fairly sustained interest in the idea that Adelaide should have a central point for Commonwealth offices. I repeat that the matter is under active consideration at present.
Senator Bishop also referred to retrenchments at Woomera. It is true that the works programme at Woomera has been withering greatly. However, my personal understanding is that there are no significant retrenchments. As personnel become due for retirement or can be transferred, those processes are invoked to prevent retrenchments. As to air conditioning at the Adelaide Airport, Senator Bishop will bc reminded that last year I produced figures obtained from meteorological records, showing that on not more than 4 or 5 days in that year the temperature in Adelaide reached an abnormally high point. The Government has laid down a scheme for Commonwealth works defining the areas within which air conditioning should be installed for office space. Exceptions to the scheme are made for equipment that can work efficiently only when air conditioned, and where air conditioning is necessary as in hospitals for patients and operating theatres. With regard to public buildings such as at airports we have zoned Australia. It was thought in respect of the Adelaide Airport that on an economic basis and in accordance with the defined programme the public rooms there would be reasonably provided for by evaporative cooling. That is an illustration of the way in which other airports are dealt with.
Senator Bishop then referred to the protection of passengers going to and from aircraft in inclement weather and instanced the facilities at Tullamarine. On the fingers of the new airports for the jet age concourses are installed with passenger holding lounges built into them. Aircraft are to be connected by an aerobridge that projects to make a complete connection. One can visualise that the next step will be a bath chair and a moving footpath so that we will not even have to walk between an aircraft and a terminal building. Senator Toohey referred to civil defence and asked about the nature of the item and the area concerned. It is an item in respect of repairs and maintenance for the Civil Defence Directorate in Victoria.
– I relate my remarks to Division 580 - Administrative. The Minister may recall that in dealing with the estimates of other departments I have indicated my interest in their efficient conduct. I have referred to the report of the Public Service Board. I have noted that the functional summary shows that the Department intends to increase the numbers employed by about 400 in the ensuing year. As we have a private enterprise Government and there is great pressure on the economy at present because of the costs of housing and national development, will the Minister indicate whether such growth is necessary? Such an increase in the staff will cause a corresponding increase of about $2,700,000 in the salaries bill of the Department in the coming year, or an increase of over 10% in the expenditure on salaries last year.
Another subject to which I wish to refer is the cont.inuing matter of the construction of the Customs House, Melbourne, reference to which appears in the AuditorGeneral’s Report. Although the estimated cost of construction was $3,600,000, the final authorisation was for $5,111,000. Certain matters associated with the project were the subject of negotiations with a contractor. 1 have some knowledge of this matter through investigations by the Public Accounts Committee.
-Is the honourable senator referring to the old or the new building?
-I am referring to the new Customs House. I hope that the old Customs House does not involve such expenditure. I am concerned that at this stage we should still be troubling the contractor or that problems should be held over after all this time.I ask the Minister to enlighten the Senate as to what matters are delaying the project at present. I am also interested in the acquisition by the Department of capital goods such as usable tools, and their disposal. Perhaps the Minister would comment on that item.
– I am afraid that I cannot assist the honourable senator with regard to the last item he mentioned, but I will provide that information in due course. I know of no dispute or outstanding issues with regard to the new Customs House, Melbourne. I receive a monthly report on matters within the Department that are subject to arbitration or litigation and that project has not been mentioned. There must be a misunderstanding that there is trouble there. As to the increase in the expenditure on salaries by the Department, I keep a watchful eye on and adopt a most resisting attitude towards such increases; but as the work of our Department extends to a record programme this year I cannot resist requests for increases in the number of personnel.
– Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Temporary Chairman do now leave the Chair and report to the Senate.
Question resolved in the affirmative. (The Temporary Chairman having reported accordingly) -
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Drake-Brockman) - Order! In conformity with the sessional order relating to the adjournment of the Senate, I formally put the question:
That the Senate do now adjourn.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 11.1 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 16 September 1969, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1969/19690916_senate_26_s42/>.