27th Parliament · 2nd Session
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) took the chair at 10 a.m., and read prayers.
– I ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry. Is it a fact that the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement expressly provides that, where a threat to an Australian industry arises or where an Australian industry is being damaged as a consequence of the implementation of the Agreement’s provisions, the protective clause of the Agreement will be invoked to protect the Australian industry? Is the Minister yet aware of the abundant evidence that the Australian canning pea industry has now and will continue to be further gravely damaged by practices encouraged by the provisions of the Agreement relating to imports? What is the reason for the Government’s continued refusal to recognise the serious position of the Australian canning pea industry and the consequential further weakening of the primary industry sector of the Australian economy as a result of this? Is not the true position that the interests of primary industry are being sacrificed in the cause of secondary industry because of a fundamental Government approach to industrial development in Australia at present?
– ‘The New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement contains clauses which, in the case of a particular industry, either in New Zealand or in Australia, which is suffering from the reciprocal trade from the other country, allow the country suffering to seek some kind of compensation for or alleviation of the problem. I am well aware of the situation existing in Tasmania in relation to peas. In recent months I have answered a number of questions on this. I shall take up the honourable senator’s question with the Minister for Primary Industry and obtain for the honourable senator a detailed answer.
– Yesterday I asked the Acting Minister for Immigration a question about an agreement signed by our Minister for Immigration, and by Dr Tabone on behalf of the Maltese Government. I believe the Minister has some further information concerning the matter. I ask her would she make the information available.
– Yesterday Senator Fitzgerald asked me a question concerning an agreement with Malta. In my answer to the honourable senator’s question I may have given the impression that the new migration agreement with Malta had been actually signed. In fact, the Minister for Immigration did not sign an agreement but initialled the text for a new agreement which he discussed with Maltese authorities during his visit. Actually, signing of the agreement will be subject to the approval of the GovernorGeneral in Council to whom the agreed text will be submitted at an early date. The honourable senator also inquired whether a reciprocal social services agreement with Malta similar to that which operates with Great Britain and New Zealand had been signed. The text initialled in Malta on 1st June was for a migration and settlement agreement only. The question of entering into a social security agreement with Malta is still under consideration. I am unable to say what the outcome of this will be.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health whether she is in a position to advise what action has been taken by the Government and the Commonwealth Department of Health to further Professor J. Bronstein’s treatment for diabetics, which has been acclaimed in medical circles as a breakthrough and a better and safer treatment than insulin. As there are an estimated 250,000 diabetics in Australia will the Minister regard this investigation as being of great urgency?
– I am aware of the problem of people suffering from diabetes. I do not know whether the Minister for Health has considered the matter which has been raised by the honourable senator but I will inquire and obtain an answer to his question as soon as possible.
– Following on the question asked by Senator Devitt I ask the Minister representing the AttorneyGeneral a question. Part of the trouble with New Zealand pea imports is due to the Unilever company failing to operate its patent within Australia and apparently preferring to manufacture overseas and export to Australia. Will the Minister take up with the Attorney-General’s Department the legal position of this company in apparently refusing to make its patent available to Australian producers?
– I shall certainly act upon the honourable senator’s request. Recognising the concern which he has expressed repeatedly about this subject, which I know is an important one in northern Tasmania, I shall see whether his request can be dealt with expeditiously.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral. Is the Minister aware that the first rugby league test between Australia and Great Britain will not be televised? Can the Minister inform the Parliament as a matter of urgency whether .the Australian Broadcasting Commission is in a position to cover this test, particularly for country areas of Queensland?
– I will take this matter up with the PostmasterGeneral and obtain what information I can for the honourable senator.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. Does the Minister recall that recently I drew attention to a thermonuclear weapon of such magnitude that it could cause tidal waves or earthquakes? In view of the after effects of 2 separate nuclear testings by the French Government in the Pacific, resulting in the massive tragedy of earthquakes in South America, will the Australian Government launch a strong protest to the United Nations Security Council against further testing of nuclear weapons and press for the initiation of an inquiry in depth into the relationship between nuclear testing and earthquakes?
– It is true that the Australian Government made representations and expressed its views on nuclear testing by the French Government in the Pacific. I would not like to comment on any suggestion in the Senate of Australia about the association between nuclear testing in the Pacific and the earthquakes which have happened in Peru. I remember that when man first went to the moon and there was a big storm afterwards someone suggested it was probably because of man’s activities in outer space. The honourable senator has put his question forward seriously and I will certainly have it referred to the appropriate department. I would just like to repeat what I said the other day: The world at large is shocked and aggrieved by the stark tragedy of what has happened in Peru. However, I will put the question to the appropriate department.
– Is the Minister representing the Minister for Primary Industry aware that there will be intense disappointment in the potato industry at the determination of the Tariff Board which we received yesterday and which rejects tariff assistance for the industry? As the industry is now in a very serious situation, has the Government plans to assist it in any other way, particularly on the question of marketing which is one of its most serious problems?
– No doubt the industry will be disappointed with the findings of the Tariff Board on this matter - particularly in Tasmania, which is having difficulty in getting rid of its surplus potatoes.
– And in Victoria around Ballarat.
– I well recall assisting the Potato Marketing Board in Western Australia to obtain overseas orders for potatoes, and also in regard to shipping. I recall that some years ago Victoria and Tasmania had quite considerable export markets for potatoes, whereas Western Australia had only a small export market. The situation has changed drastically. Tasmanian and Victorian potato exports have slipped back, but Western Australia has increased its potato exports considerably and is still doing so. This is a situation in which the people concerned have to go out and try to obtain markets. But that is easier said than done. Because of the competition on the world market from producers trying to obtain what available markets there are, it is very difficult for all of us to sell our export surpluses. I think we will have to wait for a further decision to be made by the Minister for Primary Industry on what further action the Government will take to assist this industry.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Industry. Will the Minister investigate a report that Carlton and United Breweries Ltd was paid a sum of $31,000 because of a breakthrough in the manufacture of hop extract. Is it also correct that this new method drastically reduces the use of hops in the product put out by this company? If it does so, by how much does it do so? Would it not have been more equitable to use the $31,000 in the direction of helping the already economically depressed hop growers to embark on some other kind of primary production?
– It is true that last year Carlton and United Breweries Ltd received a grant of $31,440 from the Australian Industrial Research and Development Grants Board. It is not true that the company received the grant because of a breakthrough in the manufacture of hop extract. It received the grant because it had increased the level of its total industrial research and development expenditures and was eligible for a grant from the Board which is vested with the authority to implement the provisions of the Industrial Research and Development Grants Act. The Grants Board is an independent body whose decisions are not subject to the concurrence of the Minister. I understand that to date a total of 43S Australian manufacturing and mining companies have qualified for such grants.
The objective of this policy is to provide an incentive to Australian manufacturing and mining companies to spend more of their own funds on increased industrial research and development leading to more efficient and less costly methods of production and, in particular, the more efficient se of Australian raw materials and resources. I understand that the Chairman of the company has said that the research involved the development of an improved process of extracting resins from natural hops. A question has been asked in another place of the Minister for Trade and Industry about the effect this technological development is likely to have on the hop growers of Tasmania. I understand that the Minister has not yet completed his inquiries. As soon as I am in a position to do so I will give the honourable senator a further reply to his question.
– My question is directed to you, Mr Deputy President. Are you aware that the brochure concerning the activities and the general role of the Senate is now out of print? When will copies of this leaflet be available for the many thousands of tourists and school children who visit the Parliament?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - I am advised that, as the honourable senator has pointed out, the pamphlet is out of print. I understand that the Government Printer is about to provide further supplies.
– My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I ask: Has he discussed with the Prime Minister the question I asked of him on 14th May as to whether the Prime Minister would make a nationwide television statement explaining the object of recent measures increasing the interest rate, the progress which such measures have made and the likelihood of the Government’s economic objectives being attained. Does the Government regard its measures so far as succeeding in those objectives? Will a statement be made to allay in some measure the existing disquiet concerning the state of the economy?
– I ask the honourable senator to put the question he has just asked on notice because this is the normal procedure in relation to questions put to me for transmission to the Prime Minister and, indeed, other Ministers.
(Question No. 357)
asked the Minister for Air, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
(Question No. 254)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice:
In view of the allegations, made by the Chairman of the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council, that the Department of Health deliberately misinterpreted Cabinet decisions and that this has finally resulted in the abandonment of plans for the Calvary Hospital in the Australian Capital Territory, will the Minister make a full statement on the matter to the Senate.
– The Minister for Health has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question.
The allegations made by the Chairman of the A.C.T. Advisory Council concerning alleged deliberate misinterpretation of Cabinet decisions about the Calvary Hospital project are not based on fact. The Department of Health cannot and does not vary the substance of Government commitments. When the Government first made a commitment on the Calvary Hospital in October 1966 it was on the basis of a hospital up to 200 beds in size with the capital cost subsidised by the Commonwealth on a S3 for SI basis up to a ceiling contribution of S3 million by the Commonwealth with the Little Company of Mary to provide up to $1 million. The Commonwealth was to provide a maintenance subsidy with debt service charges accepted as part of maintenance costs. At least 60 beds were to be available by 1970.
After a year of planning and negotiation the hospital architects advised that the estimate for a 200-bed hospital of appropriate standard was $5.5 million. Various alternatives within the Government’s agreed level of commitments were discussed between the Department of Health and the Little Company of Mary. The Department of Health could not, of course, vary the level of Government commitment. In December of 1967 the Church authorities approached the then Prime Minister about the Government’s level of. commitment to the Calvary Hospital project and in January of 1968 the then Prime Minister replied to the effect that the Government was prepared to provide assistance for the construction of a 200 bed hospital at a capital cost comparable to that which would be incurred by the Government if it were itself directly providing the facilities. This undertaking by the Government was a variation of the original offer to provide assistance on $3 for SI basis up to a ceiling contribution by the Government of $3 million for a hospital of up to 200 beds. The ceiling figure under which the early planning of the hospital was carried out was, in effect, removed and a new comparative basis was introduced in regard to cost. Planning by the Church authorities was recommenced on this new basis.
After planning had proceeded for another year, two factors were reported by the Department of Health to be causing concern. These were that, because of delays in architectural matters the possible timetable for construction of Calvary Hospital was apparently falling behind, and that the estimated costs of Calvary Hospital had again increased. In November of 1968 the hospital architects had advised that the estimated cost stood at $7,287 million. Negotiations ensued revolving around time and cost estimates. The cost estimates for Calvary Hospital were higher than the estimates of the costs which would be incurred if the Government were to build the hospital itself. The design of the hospital was judged by both the Department of Works and the Department of Health to be uneconomic, largely because the services designed into it were apparently sufficient for close to a 300-bed rather than a 200-bed hospital. After discussions and explorations of means of maintaining the project, it became apparent that further Government decisions were needed to resolve the matter.
The facts of the situation were placed before the Government in December 1969. A decision was subsequently made by the Government that stage two of the Woden Hospital should be expedited as the most practical early means of obtaining additional hospital beds for the A.C.T. and that the construction of Calvary Hospital should be deferred. Further discussions have now taken place with the Little Company of Mary with a view to the construction in Canberra of a 300-bed hospital to be built to the Order’s plans. The Government is willing to provide, as previously, substantial financial assistance, and to have the project under construction in 1974. The Government has not abandoned the project.
(Question No. 256)
asked the Minister for
Air, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable senator’s questions are as follows:
(Question No. 278)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
– The Minister for the Interior has provided the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
Mr G. T. Monck was granted a miscellaneous licence under the Crown Lands Ordinance for the period of three months ending 31st March 1970 to remove sand from an area on the beach in the Buffalo Creek locality. The licensed area covered a length of 1000 feet between low water mark and a line 300 feet seaward of the low sand dune. The conditions of the licence were -
(Question No. 333)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport has provided the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
(Question No. 367)
asked the Minister for Air, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable senator’s question is as follows:
(Question No. 387)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice:
– The Minister for the Navy has provided the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
(Question No. 396)
asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice:
– The Minister for the Navy has provided the following answer to the honourable senator’s question:
– On 16th April, Senator Greenwood asked me the following question without notice:
The Attorney-General has supplied the following answers to the honourable senator’s questions:
Tariff Board Report
– I present the report of the Tariff Board on potatoes. This report does not call for any legislative action. I ask leave of the Senate to make a statement on this report.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Following representations from potato growers and processors towards the end of 1968 the Tariff Board was asked to conduct an inquiry into the frozen potato products industry. At that time growers were experiencing glut conditions and low prices, and were concerned that imports of frozen potato products could damage the Australian industry.
The Tariff Board has recommended that the present duties on frozen potato products be not changed. The Board found that the local industry is expanding and considred that economic and efficient growers and processors, such as those operating in north west Tasmania, need have no fears that competition from imports at current duty levels will seriously affect their ability to compete on the Australian market. In its report the Board stated that most recent imports have been at dumped prices and that such competition has contributed to the marketing problems of Australian processors. The Board added that dumping by overseas exporters constitutes a threat of injury to the Australian frozen potato industry.
As honourable senators will know, the Government has a policy protecting Australian industries against damage from overseas competition at dumped prices. Accordingly, the Government has accepted the Board finding on dumping and has published a dumping notice in the Commonwealth Gazette of 4th June 1970. This action will empower the Government to apply antidumping duties on further shipments of potato products at dumped prices.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - I have received the following letter from Senator Bishop:
In accordance with Standing Order No. 64 I intend to move today for the purpose of discussing a matter of urgency:
That the Senate at its rising adjourn until Tuesday next at 1.45 p.m.’
The failure of the Government to promote design and construction of Australian Aircraft and Helicopters for defence and commercial purposes.
Is the motion supported? (More than the number of senators required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places)
– I move:
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday next at 1.45 p.m.
I do so for the purpose of debating a matter of urgency, namely:
The failure of the Government to promote design and construction of Australian aircraft and helicopters for defence and commercial purposes.
One of the purposes of my moving this motion is to bring before the Senate and the Australian people the crisis which is developing in the Australian aircraft industry. As honourable senators will remember, this has been the subject of discussion in the Senate. The Leader of the Government (Senator Anderson) will be aware that this matter is being debated in another place at present. This is not a new subject. It is a matter to which the Leader of the Government has given a great deal of attention in the Senate. He has supplied honourable senators with a great number of answers to questions that have come from this side of the chamber. Most of the questions have dealt with the matter that I am now putting forward. There is a crisis in the Australian aircraft manufacturing industry which applies not only to the private sector but also to the Government Aircraft Factories. Most of the problem arises from the inability of the Government to give a positive lead to the industry, to plan ahead to ensure that the various skills which have been built up in the industry will not be lost, that the industry will be stabilised and the work force maintained in its specialised task.- All that we have from the Government at present is simply a statement that it intends to recommend the rationalisation of the industry.
Although not many people will dispute the competence of the Australian aircraft industry, there are some who believe that it is not competent. If anybody reads the reports of the Department of Supply he will find records of the long standing ability of the Government Aircraft Factories and the private factory to produce the Mirage aircraft and a number of associated parts which go to make up a first class aircraft.
– It goes back to before the last World War.
– As Senator Toohey has just reminded me, this ability to produce aircraft goes back to before the last World War. During the middle of the Second World War we were mass producing our own aircraft. Annexes were built onto various railway workshops to allow skilled workers to apply themselves to the task of producing aircraft. The experience which was gained then was used as a foundation for the establishment of an Australian aircraft industry. There is no question that we have the competence to manufacture our own aircraft. This is not surprising, because Australian manufacturing industry was largely the base upon which the modern aircraft industry developed. The competence in the light and heavy engineering and manufacturing industries is as good as that in similar industries throughout the world, and these industries could be used as a base to co-ordinate the work of the aircraft industry. While it may be true that many of the skilled and key persons who are now being displaced in the aircraft industry find their way back into profitable employment in the light and heavy manufacturing industries, the work in the aircraft industry is so specialised that positive action ought to be taken by the Government to ensure that the aircraft industry is maintained at the level which it reached when we were manufacturing the Mirage fighter.
What aircraft have we produced in Australia? Through a combination of work as between the Government Aircraft Factories and the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation, as was illustrated in a reply to a question asked by Senator Keeffe this morning, we have produced under licence in Australia Mirage aircraft of various types. We have produced 48 Mirage fighter aircraft, 52 HOA Mirage attack aircraft and 10 HD dual trainer aircraft. We have built, under licence, Macchi trainer aircraft. Of course, the Department of Supply has manufactured Jindivik aircraft. We have produced a number of anti-submarine systems and devices, including the Ikara missile. All of this indicates that the Department of Supply is most expert in this field.
What is happening in the aircraft industry today is happening also at the weapons research establishments. Only recently - the Minister knows this as well as I do - there has been a down-turn at the Weapons Research Establishment at Woomera and at Salisbury. Now there has been a down-turn in the aircraft industry. These matters have been well known to the Government for a long time. Not only have they been raised in this Parliament, but the managers of the various factories about which I have spoken have also referred to them. For a long time now the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation has been putting to the Government the need to produce some sort of alternative aircraft within Australia. But the Government says: ‘We have to make sure that we can market the aircraft.’ But while this down-turn in the aircraft industry has been taking place - figures show that employment in the various aircraft factories has dropped - our imports of aircraft and war stores and supplies have been substantial. The Government needs to consider to what extent these imports should be curbed. There is a need to consider to what extent the Government should take action to ensure that our policies concerning offsetting arrangements and coproduction ought to be enforced by the Government.
If we look at the employment figures for the Government Aircraft Factories, we find that in June 1965, 2,750 skilled workers were employed on the Mirage project, the Jindivik project and the anti-submarine weapons system project. In June 1968 the figure had fallen to 2,300. In June 1969 it had fallen to 2,000 workers. Last year - and the Minister noted this because we brought it to his attention in the Parliament - Ill skilled workers were retrenched. In the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation in 1965, which was then manufacturing the Atar engine for the Mirage aircraft, there were 3,100 workers. Now in 1970 there are 2,750. In the last 12 months the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation has lost 270 skilled workers, they may be lost to the industry for all time. They will be lost to the industry for all time unless the Government adopts a firm policy of encouraging within private and government factories a- positive plan for aircraft and other related parts which could give stability to the industry. In South Australia last year the Parafield airframe repair workshops were closed down. In the estimates which followed the Budget last year for the Minister’s own Department in regard to the Weapons Research Establishment at Woomera and Salisbury the appropriation for technical and developmental services was reduced by $1.25m. A number of other points have been made by representatives of the aircraft industry. Recently, Mr Jones, the factory manager of the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation, said:
The industry is again running down and experienced men are being lost to the industry. A positive policy decision is urgently required.
The new manager of the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation has said that in the next 18 months, unless there is such a policy and unless there is such a programme of works his own enterprise will be in a state of crisis. Even if that does not happen, what we are losing in the industry are those follow-up techniques and new developments which arise from developments in America, the results of the space age and the use of new materials. Unless we can maintain an interest and an activity in this production Australia will fall behind. It has been mentioned, of course, that the Government did attempt to do a feasibility study in respect of a BAC-CAC aircraft, the AA107. Recently in this place the Minister brought down a report which stated:
In the event, we have not been able to obtain sufficient assurances of overseas sales. Furthermore, there has been a rethinking of the Australian requirements for close air support and defence training and as a result it has been decided that continuation of work on the project cannot be justified.
Now, the people in the industry do not agree with this because Mr Rice, who is the chief engineer of the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation, said that he thought that the Government authorities tended to suffer from an Fill phobia when contemplating a project like the AA107. He criticised Mr Malcolm Fraser’s statement that there was virtually no prospect of sales of the 107 to the Royal Air Force. He said his information was that the Royal Air Force was very interested in the aircraft. Briefly, he said that there was a positive need for some sort of marketing endeavour so that in projects such as this the Government should not quickly terminate the research or activities but attempt to market this sort of aircraft. That, of course, has been followed by criticism by the general manager of the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation who stated in round terms the same thing. The Minister recently made a statement on the defence aircraft industry in which he referred to the problems which I am talking about and I accept that the statements were fairly accurate. He mentioned the need to do the sort of thing I am talking about. He said there was a need to maintain basic defence capability and a need to continue with developing technologies. He talked about the need to have local design and this has already failed, as honourable senators can see. He talked about the need to manufacture aircraft engines and guided missiles under licence and I have explained to honourable senators how in fact mis activity is dropping. He spoke about the need for the manufacture of spare parts, for coproduction and offset work and commercial work, but we still are in such a situation in relation to our orders from overseas - as 1 have said, we are still importing massive quantities - that I must ask: Is there a strong intention by the Government to insist upon co-production when we place our orders overseas? The same thing applies to commercial aircraft. Mr Waghorne production director of Hawker De Havilland, is reported in a recent publication as follows:
The industry in the US was surprised at the lack of interest shown in what the military called offset orders.
In the civil field, he said, these were known as quid pro quo’ or QpQ orders.
One instance where they were not sought, he said was in the selection of the Douglas DC9 for the Australian domestic airlines over the competing Boeing 737 and BACIII. Douglas engineers, he said, clearly expected Australian insistence on some degree of local manufacture as a condition of the order and were surprised there was no QPQ factor.
We want to know what the Government is really doing about this. Let me point out that in criticising the policies which have been announced by the Minister I am not criticising him because I know that he takes an interest in his Department. He has a very good department. I say only that the Government’s policies are not strong enough to ensure that our factories will continue to do the work which they have proved themselves able to do.
Early this year the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) announced that permission had been given by the Federal Government for a $80m aircraft reequipment order for Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett Airlines of Australia. Following closely on that announcement the Minister for Supply, Senator Anderson, said mat he had been gratified to learn that we had obtained subcontract and offset orders to the value of $500,000. We want to know why the Government is not taking a stronger stand.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - Order! I have pleasure in directing the attention of honourable senators to the presence in the Senate gallery of the Rt Hon. K. J. Holyoake, Prime Minister of New Zealand. On behalf of honourable senators I extend to him a warm welcome. With the concurrence of honourable senators I propose to ask Mr Holyoake to take a seat on the floor of the Senate.
Honourable senators - Hear, hear! (Mr Holyoake thereupon entered the chamber, and was seated accordingly).
– I suggest that this is not only the attitude of the Opposition but also the view of the Australian industry. The aircraft manufacturing capacity in Australia is good. The services which back up the industry are specialised and fairly sophisticated. The activities of the Minister’s own Department are evidence that we are keeping up with the times and with the best technological developments overseas. But because of the lack of a Government plan the whole of the aircraft industry and the industries associated with the other more sophisticated developments in weapons research are running down. The explanations given by the Minister in this place, and by the Minister for Defence in the other place, indicate that the Government has no positive policy to ensure that a sufficient work load will be given to these enterprises so that Australia will not lose its ability to produce aircraft, to produce equipment for all of the Services and to produce parts for aircraft and other items which we are importing from overseas. Instead we have become snowed under by a very expensive project - the purchase of the Fill aircraft. As I have mentioned, an important representative of the industry claims that the Government is suffering from an Fill phobia. It is said that we cannot afford to do this work because of a lack of continuity of orders for the industry. It is said that if we make these aircraft we will not be able to sell them overseas. Yet the Government persists with its elaborate scheme to import into Australia machines which will not fly. The history of those aircraft dates back to 1963. Agitation by the Australian aircraft industry goes back to long before that.
The Minister puts the Government’s point of view. He has said that there is a need to rationalise. He has pointed out in his report, which refers to rationalisation, some of the things to which I have referred. He refers to fluctuation of the workload and the need to maintain low costs of production through continuity of orders in the industry. The industry has said the same thing. The industry has claimed: ‘Unless you can stabilise and maintain orders for the industry it will be more costly. It will go broke. In addition, the skilled key personnel you are training will move elsewhere.’ These people will come back into the industry if there is work for them. The managers of the factories say that while they have lost people because of lack of orders and stability, if the Government produces a constructive policy there is no doubt that the key people will return to the industry.
The Minister in his statement referred to a buildup of new projects, accompanied by major recruitment problems and inefficiency during learning periods. The only area in which we have picked up, it seems, is in the production of spares. A series of stops and starts has developed in the aircraft industry. We have the ability to produce these important aircraft. Not only do we have the basic ability which has been developed since World War II but also we have a large number of specialists in the industry and in the Minister’s own Department. Nevertheless, we are importing large quantities of war stores and munitions into Australia. In 1967-68 we imported such material to the value of $158.5m; 1968-69 $174m and from July 1969 to March 1970 $84.5m. Much of this equipment includes bits and pieces for aircraft which the Government should insist upon producing in Australia.
I have the figures relating to the importation of aircraft, including jet aircraft and gliders, non-powered aircraft and parts of flying machines. In 1967-68 we imported such material to a value of $136m.
– That includes commercial aircraft.
– Yes. I am submitting that commercial requirements and defence requirements are obviously related and the industries ought to be dovetailed, particularly in respect of the manufacture of parts within Australia. It seems that the Government has started to recognise the problem but there is no strong Government policy which would insist upon production of this material in Australia. We are importing this equipment and failing to insist that Australia share in its production. I have said that in 1967-68 we imported $136m worth of this equipment. Although the Government has said that we are now doing more in this field, in 1968-69 we imported Si 31m worth of this equipment. For the period of 6 months from July to December 1969 importations totalled nearly $83m. Importations of parts for aircraft for the period July to December 1969 amounted to $54m, while the value of imported heavier than air, nonpowered aircraft was $66,000. These aircraft are coming from Canada, France, the Netherlands, United Kingdom and the United States of America. If honourable senators saw the figures from which I have quoted, they would be amazed to find that while our own technical capacity is running down we are still importing.
Men who know the industry - not just skilled workers but management and men with production and specialist techniques - say that the Government does not seem to be insisting upon our industry getting its share of the production necessary to meet our requirements. To summarise our position, we suggest that the Government should take a positive stand. That is what is lacking in Australia today.
– There should be a sense of purpose.
– As Senator Toohey said, there should be a sense of purpose and not just a recognition of the problems as we have stated them. Whereas ‘the Government is making contracts with overseas suppliers, it should ensure that the maximum amount of work is done in our factories. Nobody can say that Australia has not the competence to manufacture aircraft components. Our progress has been related to the competence which has been built up in the light and heavy engineering manufacturing industries since the war years. There is no reason why contracts should not be let to Australian manufacturers. There is every reason why we should try to do the things that the industry wants.
I suggest that the Government should not rely too much on getting from overseas suppliers, including the United States of America, large machines, parts for those machines, smaller machines and various types of aircraft which we could manufacture in Australia. It should be making a positive plan to let the Australian industry do this kind of work. As the Minister well knows, unless our manufacturers do this, the specialist techniques which we have produced and built up in our factories will be lost forever. There is no reason why the Government should not try to find markets in our surrounding areas. The Government talks about the aircraft that we will manufacture and sell to Great Britain. What is wrong with a strong policy of selling war needs, aircraft and other manufactured equipment to our near neighbours in SouthEast Asia?
– How does the honourable senator know that the Government is not trying to do that?
– Its efforts are puny efforts. I refer the honourable senator to the figures I cited. The Government announced earlier this year that orders had been approved to import aircraft worth $80m, for which we will manufacture parts worth $500,000. Can anybody tell me that that is a reasonable proposition? What is the Government doing about that? I mentioned the war stores that we are importing. We are importing parts for tractors, things we make in Australia, pieces of machinery and metals that are produced overseas. Why are we importing them? Does the Government insist, when making con tracts with the overseas suppliers, that the Australian manufacturers should get a turn at the wheel? The Government is talking about taking steps, but it is not doing enough positively. That is not only my point of view but it is also the point of view of leaders of the industry. I suggest that the Government should follow up what we say and should explain more fully what it proposes to do.
To me, this talk of rationalisation is frightening. When the men working in the industry heard the statement made by the Leader of the Government, they were frightened because they thought it sounded like a depression technique. Rationalisation is good only if the component parts of the Australian capacity - the Government aircraft factories and the private manufacturers - get together and work to a studied plan. In my opinion, the Government does not have a plan. I have asked questions. The answers have not been satisfactory. The Government does not insist upon an Australian share in this manufacturing. It should insist upon that. Industry says that it should. We say that it should. We would be interested to find out from the Government what it proposes to do in future to maintain the skilled sections of the work force in constant work, to the benefit of the country and certainly to help the defence industries.
(10.49]- On behalf of the Opposition, Senator Bishop moved an urgency motion which referred to the failure of the Government to promote the design and construction of Australian aircraft and helicopters for defence and commercial purposes. In his speech he confused the situation even more by devoting quite a period of time to procurement outside the aircraft industry itself. I think his perimeters are too wide for a purposeful debate. The production of defence aircraft is one thing, and in a sense Australia’s capacity in relation to commercial aircraft is another. They may be related but when one starts talking about procurement in fields outside the aircraft industry and links it to the aircraft industry the situation becomes rather confused.
It is true that I made a statement in this place on the defence aircraft industry some time ago, perhaps a month ago. Senator Bishop and several other honourable senators on the Opposition side, as well as on the Government side, have from time to time sought information at question time in relation to the problems of the industry. I think it is fair to say that never at any stage have I walked away from the problem - and there is a problem in the aircraft industry. The problem is not peculiar to Australia but exists all over the world. JJ honourable senators went to Seattle in North America they would see the position in the Boeing group, probably the biggest aircraft group in the world. If they went to the British Aircraft Corporation in England they would find that it has a problem. The Avions Marcel Dassault company in France has its problems on the order book, as has the Italian manufacturer of the Macchi aircraft.
– ‘What is the problem, Mr Minister?
– The problem is that the world desire to place orders is such that all the aircraft industries are finding difficulty in the maintenance of their structure. Representatives have visited Australia. As late as this week representatives from the Dassault company were here. In reply to a question recently I pointed out that that company is seeking more orders for its aircraft. A month would not go by without people coming to Australia seeking information as to the possibility of entering into arrangements with Australia for the production of aircraft.
– Should that not mean that we should be getting aircraft?
– This is a little difficult. I have only a half an hour and I have to concentrate my thoughts on the case. It is certain that world-wide problems exist in the aircraft industry. The Australian Government, as I have stated, has a policy to preserve a viable aircraft industry, and the problems associated with it are obvious to us all. Australia has government aircraft factories. In addition to that there are commercial aircraft industrial groups, but these groups depend overwhelmingly on government orders and government capability. It is not just a case of preserving the Government Aircraft Factories. If we are going to preserve a viable aircraft industry in Australia we have to try to provide a work load for the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Pty Limited, Hawker de Havilland Aust. Pty Ltd and other associated industries. This has been the objective for as long as I can remember, and certainly during the period that we have had this industry. We are providing the highest possible level of work and activity for these various groups.
I want to come back to the question of our capability. I would not want to be thought to be one who would stand up and say that we have not a capability. We have a capability. We have proved that. Our capability has been demonstrated by what we have been able to do. The fact that we build, under licence, the Mirage aircraft, which has a very high Australian content, is evidence of our capability. The fact that we built the Macchi aircraft under licence from the Macchi company in Italy - that aircraft also has a high Australian content - is proof of our capability. The fact that we have done so well with the Ikara, the Jindivik and other projects which have become income earners for Australia is proof of our capability. I want to make it clear that I have never at any stage suggested an Australian incapacity in any way.
But we must come back to the economics of the situation. It is all right to suggest by implication that we could build Boeings. DC9s and aircraft such as those. If we could - I have no doubt that we could, at a cost - because of our requirement the sheer economics of it would be completely absurd.
– Nobody is saying that.
– That was almost the implication in what the honourable senator said in his opening remarks. Putting our capability aside for one moment, it would be sheer economic lunacy for us to attempt to do that. Therefore, we have to fill our order book with something within our capacity in terms of the economics of the situation having regard to our own requirement, and also try to obtain outside orders.
Some reference has been made to the question of an advanced trainer. My Department has been doing a study of this. As a matter of fact I made a statement in this chamber on an advanced trainer recently. We did quite a lot of work in relation to a possible local design study on it. We were doing that in conjunction with not only our own Government Aircraft Factories but also other companies - notably the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation and the British Aircraft Corporation in the United Kingdom. Not only were we seeking to obtain a requirement for it overseas; the British Aircraft Corporation had been doing that, too. It is probably the top organisation in the world in this field. The initial cost of getting the production of an advanced trainer aircraft to an established point could be of the order of $80m or $90m. Before we could begin such a project, under the concept on which we have been working and on which we have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars of the Australian taxpayers’ money in design and advance studies, we would have to be sure of outside orders because, as I said the other day, Australia has only a limited requirement.
Because of the sheer economics of the matter, we could not spend that sort of money to build that sort of aircraft if we ourselves required only 30 or 40 of them. When one talks of building an aircraft one needs to think in terms of having assured orders for about ISO aircraft initially and a follow-on prospect for the future. So it is not as easy as one might imagine. We cannot just press a button and say: ‘We will keep our aircraft industry gainfully employed and viable simply by proceeding to design and build an aircraft in Australia, no doubt under licence from another country, without having at the time we start any prospect that we will be able to dispose of aircraft in addition to meeting our own requirement’. That is perhaps the depressing side of the situation.
On the other hand, we can look at what we have been able to do. But before doing so, perhaps I should refer to the orders which we receive from other countries. We had a very distinguished visitor in the Prime Minister of New Zealand sitting in the Senate a short time ago. I was hoping that I would be called to speak before he left because I wanted to make it known that Australia has been negotiating with New Zealand for some time in regard to the possibility of selling Macchi aircraft to that country. Australia has also been negotiating with other countries. We have not been negotiating with the larger countries because they have their own aircraft capability, but some of the smaller countries do not. We have been in negotiation with some of these countries during the period that I have been Minister for Supply in the hope of selling Macchi aircraft to them.
I should point out that the aircraft industry is one of the most competitive in the world at the moment. Every country which has its own aircraft industry is seeking orders. It should be remembered that the larger countries have greater financial backing than Australia. The aircraft industries in countries such as the United Kingdom, France and the United States of America are much better geared to volume production than we could ever hope to be at this stage of our history. The result is that we had to chase offset orders. In relation to the purchase of Boeing 747s by our airline operators, Senator Bishop said that Australia was successful in obtaining offset orders for only $500,000, which is true. But at least we did a lot of work in an endeavour to obtain orders. As I said when I made a statement in relation to the placing of certain offset orders in Australia, this is not the end; it is only the beginning. Officers of various Commonwealth departments are in the United States of America seeking further offset orders.
I wish to point out some of the positive things which we have been able to do and are continuing to do in relation to the aircraft industry in Australia. Honourable senators will be aware that in more recent times we entered into an agreement with the General Aircraft Corporation in the United States to build certain parts in Australia. The contractual arrangement with this company depends upon certain things being done in the United States of America before we begin to build the airframes and parts that are to be made in Australia. I made an overseas visit in relation to this matter. Mr Fairhall, as he then was, also took it in train when he was overseas to negotiate an agreement on behalf of the Government. I am one of the signatories to the agreement. The fact is that we did a tremendous amount of work in relation to this matter. We were able to demonstrate that our time, rates and capacity were such that we could fulfil our obligations. But it is quite obvious that we could not ask the General Aircraft Corporation to commence its operations in Australia because we could not risk the taxpayers’ money in pre-empting for the requirements which would be imposed in relation to this order. Nevertheless, negotiations are still proceeding.
The Government has entered into what is known as Project N, which involves a study. The Government has budgeted to spend $3.5m on a design study and the building of a prototype in relation to Project N. This is another example of the fact that prototypes can be built in Australia. The design study and the building of prototypes will involve considerable expenditure, but the Government is hopeful that Australia will benefit from the training and experience that will be derived from Project N. However, it will be then necessary to find a market. We will find a market in Australia for Project N, but this will not make Project N a viable proposition. We will still need to get a market overseas for it. We are quite confident that we can get a market for it. Such is our confidence that the Government has taken a decision to spend more than $3m on the construction of a prototype. But we still come back to the basic problem of the type of work that we are doing in relation to Project N.
Honourable senators are probably aware that we have designed and are carrying out work at the Government Aircraft Factories on a drone known as ‘Turana’. We believe that this project will be a success. We have no reason to believe that it will not be as much a success as our projects involving the Jindivik, the Ikara and others. Although this project involves the construction of a drone, it does provide valuable experience for our people engaged in research and development work. There seems to be little doubt that production orders will follow. I come back to the point that we are doing the work and are keeping our technical people at work in study and design on these projects. We come to a point where the vital question is whether we can get orders for any projects that we undertake. We have been trying to get orders for the Macchi aircraft. We have tried to get orders in New Zealand where the matter is still under consideration and, as I recall it, we have tried to get orders in Singapore.
I come now to the question of helicopters. Here, again, I suggest that there is a very real story to be told. Honourable senators will recall that the Minister for Defence (Mr Malcolm Fraser) made a statement in which he pointed out that Australia would have a requirement for helicopters.
I believe that the requirement ran to about 100 helicopters of various categories. There is, of course, a small demand for some types of helicopter, but it would not be economical or wise to set about the design and manufacture of them. Of the 100 helicopters to which I have referred about 84 will be for light observation work. We believe that these helicopters must have an Australian content. We have invited 2 companies, which we believe have the capacity, to tender for the construction of the helicopters, but in inviting tenders we have laid down a time within which they must lender and have said that we will make our decision on the tenders according to merit and having regard to the Australian component of the product. This is putting it right on the line.
– A period of 6 months was allowed for tenders and I gather that we are about half way through that period. I shall check on that for the honourable senator. It is quite clear that the whole approach to this project has taken into account the Australian content. Our capacity to provide a significant Australian content has not been challenged at any time.
I do not know that I want to deal much further with this matter of urgency. Senator Bishop referred in his motion to the commercial aspect of aircraft construction. I would reply to him that the aircraft industry in Australia is made up of the Government Aircraft Factories and 2 commercial companies which depend very significantly for their existence on orders from the Government. There are some restrictions on the Government Aircraft Factories entering into commercial activities, but we have been able to supply them with a work load on projects of a commercial nature.
– This is being done now, is it not?
– Yes, but this is a sensitive area. We must face up to that. The commercial companies are joint stock companies and they also have a responsibility to get out into the commercial field. They are achieving a certain degree of diversification, and that is helping them. But frankly, I suspect that many of the figures quoted by Senator Bishop involve the importation of large aircraft for Qantas Airways
Ltd, Ansett Airlines of Australia and TransAustralia Airlines. I think that the best for which we can hope in this area is to negotiate feed-back orders. We have been applying ourselves with some force to this question recently. I do not think, and I do not imagine that Senator Bishop would suggest with any realism that we could produce these large aircraft for the commercial operators. So it is a little difficult to link up the commercial side with the problem we are discussing.
– Except that we could share in the production of certain components.
– Yes, but I think the question is: How big a share can we receive? If Qantas and the other airline companies say that they want these large aircraft, we can negotiate and try very hard to obtain feed-back orders, but we are a bit restricted as to how far we can go. These companies are going to have these large aircraft, and we do our best to try to negotiate feed-back orders. Tenders for the production of helicopters are to close at the end of August. We are calling for a minimum of 200 helicopters to be built by the established Australian industry. The defence Services will take 84 of .them. The remainder will have to be sold on the commercial or overseas military market. That indicates the type of problem which we are facing.
I want to make one quick reference to rationalisation. There are some fears about rationalisation which perhaps are understandable. But I should like to indicate what the approach to the rationalisation of the aircraft industry should be. We are a small nation so far as population is concerned. We have a colossal area, but we have only a limited capacity to produce articles to meet our own requirements. There are 3 major aircraft industry organisations; so we are automatically at a disadvantage when we enter the selling field. Each of those 3 organisations depends upon Government orders to maintain its basic ability to carry on production. We have the situation where the work of those 3 organisations overlaps. So it is a matter of simple economics. We believe that we could achieve a better position if we could introduce rationalisation which would more intelligently direct the roles which the various organisations should play. But that does not mean that we could isolate the functions of the various organisations so that all work of one type could be done by one establishment, all work of a second type could be done by another establishment, and all work of a third type could be done by the other establishment. But if we could introduce this type of rationalisation we could organise the workload and the workforce in order to obtain maximum capacity and produce aircraft at the right price in a very difficult industry. We believe that this could be done. We recognise that the companies other than the Government Aircraft Factories are far better geared to undertake work on the commercial side. It might well be that under a rationalisation plan the companies could be given some priority of orders, with aid from the Government. It may be that because of certain types of research and development we have been able to do in our own establishments associated with the aircraft industry the Government Aircraft Factories would be better equipped in some fields. There has to be constant research and technological development and in a rationalised scheme, we believe, there would have to be some assurance that the operatives in the industry would have their rights protected. I think that would be logical. Nevertheless, we believe that rationalisation would put us in a stronger position to do some of the things that Senator Bishop has been talking about. Support orders for requirements that we have on our own would make more certain the security of our industry and the maintenance of it in a viable state. Let us not ignore the fact that it is a continuing task to keep the aircraft industry in Australia in a viable state. Let us not forget that Australia’s needs defence wise and commercial wise will not in their own right preserve what we have. Let us not forget that if we are to preserve our viable aircraft industry we need to get into it and have a capacity in the order book, which will be supplementary to Australia’s own requirements. The Australian industry is not without courage in this field. The fact that we have put it on the line to spend the taxpayer’s money to the order of some millions of dollars on project N, which will need when completed something in the order book, is evidence of that. The fact that we have gone overseas and signed a contract for certain manufacture in Australia in relation to the General Aircraft Corporation, and the fact that we have gone into such things as the Ikara, the Jindivik and the Turana - which, to be economic, need a capacity to be sold overseas - are evidence of our approach. I do not believe there is justification for the urgency motion. I do not mind using a form of the Senate to have a discussion. I am all in favour of that, and if this urgency motion had, for instance, taken out the preamble about the failure of the Government I would have said that it was an area worth while debating.
– At the appropriate time.
– Yes. It is a worthwhile debate except that we are all in the throes of trying to bring this sessional period to an end. The fact of the matter is that I never shrink from a debate on our effort in relation to the aircraft industry. I think in the circumstances the Opposition’s charge of failure has not been sustained. I hope that we would not necessarily take the full 3 hours for this debate. There is some idea that we might be able to shorten that period.
– It is very depressing to sit in this chamber and hear the pessimism that exudes from the Government ranks concerning the Australian aircraft industry. This is one of the reasons why it has been necessary for an urgency motion to be moved on this matter. Recent statements by both the Minister for Defence (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and the Minister for Supply (Senator Anderson) have indicated quite clearly that they are opting out of a project which could well have established this industry on some basis of continuity. The vital point that arises from these statements and subsequent statements by the industry itself is that the pessimism of the Government is not shared by the private enterprise sections of the industry. Indeed, they have severely criticised the Minister for Defence for some of the statements he has made in relation to the reasons for opting out of the project that was contemplated.
It is becoming clearer than ever that we are now getting to the stage where development of this industry is further away than it has been in the last 20 years, and we are in a situation now that we were in in the late 1930s and early 1940s when the same conservative attitudes were expressed by the people who now sit on the opposite side of the Senate in relation to the development of the motor car industry. We heard all these arguments then that we could never establish a viable motor car industry. Indeed, the Chifley Government came in for great criticism for having the temerity to establish the motor car industry because the population was too small and we would never be able to sell the cars on the open market in competition with British and American cars. The whole story is being told again here.
– You should have safeguarded against the export of profits.
– We certainly should have. That is quite correct. The whole story is being repeated in relation to the aircraft industry. But the situation is that the people in the industry today have made it quite clear that they disagree entirely with what Mr Malcolm Fraser has said in relation to the future of the proposals that were undertaken with a British company. Mr Ring, who was quoted earlier by Senator Bishop, has stated quite clearly that he thinks that Government authorities tended to suffer from an Fill phobia. He also criticised Mr Fraser’s statement that there was virtually no prospect of sales of the AA107 to the Royal Air Force. Mr Ring said his information was that the RAF was very interested in the aircraft and was still studying a version of it even though the Australian Government had pulled out. Here is a man in the industry who is very close to it and who denies a statement by the the Minister for Defence that the RAF is uninterested in the project at all. Of course, if the RAF is interested it is quite obvious that the Royal Australian Air Force would also be interested and we would have a situation where this could be a viable project.
We have had the Minister for Supply apologising for 30 minutes for the fact that the Government has no positive plans for the continuity of this industry. We have been in this silly situation over decades of having these hills and valleys in the industry that have been highly detrimental to its whole future. When we get a project such as the Mirage project we hotfoot it off to England and go through the whole country recruiting skilled labour that already exists in this country but has left the industry because of lack of continuity from previous projects. We had exactly the same thing occur some 12 months ago in relation to the Government Aircraft Factories when men who were recruited in England for the purpose of entering this industry in Australia were dismissed from the Government Aircraft Factory at Avalon after being given verbal undertakings on their recruitment of continuity of service in the industry. They were conned into coming to this country on the basis of information given to them verbally at the recruitment centres in the United Kingdom and they found themselves in the intolerable position of purchasing homes close to the factory at Lara and then having to sell them on a depressed market if they desired to continue in the industry by finding work in the metropolitan area or at Hawker de Havilland in Sydney. So much for these promises. These people, in deputations to the honourable member for Cocrio (Mr Scholes) and me have indicated that they will never go back to the aircraft industry, that they will not be put in the situation where they are recruited for one project, sacked for the next and then expected by the Government to go back as soon as it gets another small project to go on with.
If we get another project by this hit and miss method that the Government is using now we will have to hotfoot it off to the United Kingdom again seeking recruits from the industry in that country and no doubt will tell them the same story that there is continuity of work in this country. When they find that this is not so they, too, will be lost to the industry. I am not the only person who holds this opinion. In March this year a great pioneer of the aircraft industry in Australia went on record as saying:
Without any shadow of doubt, there is a brain drain in the aircraft industry. You teach a man aeronautical engineering and you invest in him, because most of our education is Government subsidised, and he finds he has no outlet so he goes abroad. To hand him a couple of blueprints to make a few smalt things is not the way to treat him.
Of course it is not the way to treat him. That is the kind of treatment which in the past has lost for us many skilled trades men whom we should have retained in the industry by providing continuity of employment for them.
The pessimistic attitude that we will not be able to sell these planes if we develop them is unreal in view of the requirements which I believe will exist for smaller type aircraft throughout the South East Asian area and generally in Asia itself. We have a vast field for development and research in small aircraft within Australia. Because of the broad open spaces of our nation we find that smaller aircraft are being used increasingly, not only in relation to commuter services at a commercial level but also by private people who desire to move over this country speedily. I believe that the attitude of the Government and of people who are pessimistic about this industry has been summed up by Graeme Kennedy, the aviation writer for the Melbourne ‘Herald’. In the issue of the newspaper of 16th March 1970 he wrote:
Australia’s aircraft manufacturing industry is not unlike a highly qualified engineer taking on post-hold digging as a career. Australia has tremendous capabilities in design and manufacture of military and commercial aircraft, yet it is forced to scramble after small industrial contracts to keep some profit coming in.
That is the situation we face at the present time. We hear statements from the Minister in this place, as well as from a Minister in the other place, that the only answer is rationalisation. That is the term with which they fiddle. But people in the industry are now asking: ‘What does rationalisation mean?’ They have talked to me in the city of Geelong. Does rationalisation mean that the Government Aircraft Factory at Avalon will close? Does it mean that there is no future whatever for the Government Aircraft Factory as an identity? Those are questions which should be answered because very strong rumours are spreading to the effect that under the rationalisation plan the Government Aircraft Factory will virtually go out of existence and that Government interest in the aircraft industry will disappear. The pessimistic note in the Minister’s remarks today clearly indicates to me that that is the kind of planning in the Government’s mind at present.
We have only to look at the record of this nation in .the industry to realise the skills that we have been able to acquire and use in the development and construction of the Canberra and the tremendous job that we did with the Mirage. I was very proud of the workers at Avalon for the job they were able to do with the Mirage. People from France came to Australia, looked at the project and said that we were doing a far better job on the plane than perhaps they were doing in France. That gives a clear indication that we have the ability and the skills. We should be using them instead of saying: ‘We cannot fill the order book. We know we will not be able to fill the order book so we will pull out of these projects before the investigation is even half completed and before the Royal Australian Air Force has made a final Decision.’ We are even pulling out of a recent agreement with the British aircraft industry to try to establish something on a joint basis despite the fact that we took part in the initiation of the project, particularly in the field of design. This must induce the people in the industry to say: ‘What the hell. Let us go to a country which will appreciate our skills. Let us go to a place where we are not digging post holes but are doing something positive.’
This is an industry which Australia needs urgently and most certainly will need for many centuries to come. Let us not be like a country which says: ‘We cannot have the motor car because there are not enough people to drive it.’ Consider Sweden which looks forward and says: ‘We will establish a viable industry.’ Sweden is a much smaller country than is Australia with less affluence than we have but she has been able to establish a viable industry. Let us get on with the job of developing this industry in the interests of our nation. Let us drop our pessimistic attitude in relation to it.
– The matter raised by Senator Bishop this morning is unquestionably important and I commend him for his interest in it although I cannot commend him for the timing of a debate on such an important matter. The Party which 1 am privileged to lead has given this matter a good deal of attention, examination and thought. Indeed we have seen fit to include in our policy the promise of a completely independent capacity to manufacture our own military and civil aircraft. It is possible for Australia to do that. We must gear ourselves to be able to export aircraft to South East Asian countries by the late 1970’s. I am all in accord with the proposal urging action by the Government and by private enterprise to do something positive and early in this regard.
Australia’s capacity to produce aircraft is unquestioned. We have proved in the past that Australia is competent to establish a completely independent capacity to manufacture our own military and civil aircraft. Nevertheless we cannot disregard entirely the statements made this morning by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson). It is not good enough to throw off the Minister’s entire statement merely to satisfy our own particular views. After all, he is a man who has had some experience in the administration of a department which has a close connection with this subject. This matter merits full discussion but I do not agree that the Standing Orders of (he Senate should have been employed to make possible an urgency debate on a matter which at this time could not be classified as urgent. All honourable senators must be conscious of the fact that there is a great accumulation of Bills requiring our attention, and unless we dispose of them we will be here until August when the Budget session is set down to commence. At all times we should take first things first. We should not waste the time of the Senate in dealing with matters that cannot really be regarded as serious and urgent. If this were a serious and urgent matter which had cropped up within the past week or so I would have bren in accord with having a full discussion on it. Unquestionably this is an important matter, but nobody could properly say that it should be regarded as urgent. I do not wish to contribute to the delay of the business of the Senate any further. The Democratic Labor Party has supported and stated publicly in policy speeches that it supports the development of the Australian aircraft industry. If we are really concerned about the employees of our aircraft factories we wm see that this matter is dealt with in a more positive way than by conducting a debate on a matter of urgency, the time for which is limited to 3 hours.
– How do you get the debate on?
– You have been here lon ger than J have. You should be able to tell me, instead of asking me.
– 1 want 10 know. You are making the observation.
– Yes. I am making the observation. There are plenty of opportunities, ample opportunities, to discuss matters of this kind.
– 1 am asking you what they are.
– 1 will tell you. 1 will see you privately and give you a blackboard lecture. 1 want to register my disapproval of the holding of this debate at this stage. It does not do justice to the subject, and is inappropriate and inopportune in view of the business we have on the notice paper. I seriously recommend to the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) that we make up any lime devoted to this debute by the extension of today’s sitting even into this evening.
Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (Western
Australia - Minister for Air) 111.37] - I strongly oppose the part of the motion moved by the Opposition which claims that the Government has failed to promote the Australian aircraft industry. 1 believe that over the years the Government has endeavoured to promote a viable aircraft industry in this country. Perhaps we have not gone us far as we would like to go, but 1 feel sure that we all realise the necessity for a strong Australian aircraft industry. After listening to Senator Poyser 1 wonder whether he recollects that a few years ago Great Britain, a country with probably 5 times our population and a strong manufacturing industry, was looking for a strike bomber aircraft. The TSX2 aircraft was designed and cost the Government of Great Britain a great deal of money. But when looking around for orders and for further development of that aircraft the United Kingdom Government came to the conclusion that it could not go on with it.
– Do you know the reasons?
-BROCKMAN- You tell me the reasons.
– I would not know.
-BROCKM AN- Surely a country like Great Britain with its manufacturing potential for an aircraft of the type which was wanted throughout the world would consider the matter very carefully before action was taken. A Labour Government was in office in Great Britain at the time of cancellation of the TSR2 project, lt then placed orders in the United States for Fill aircraft. Later those orders were cancelled and finally Phantom aircraft were bought. I remind honourable senators that in trying to promote an aircraft industry in this country the Royal Australian Air Force has always had a firm policy in mind, and I do not mind placing it on the record, lt is now :.nd has been in the past the firm policy of the RAAF that whenever possible orders for Air Force hardware will be placed with the domestic industry. In fact, specific instructions are issued to the departments responsible for the procurement of Air Force equipment to place orders wilh Australian industry, even 1 hough that might cause some delay and possibly an increase in costs.
– That is only a recent direction.
-BROCKM AN- Tha t has been a direction for a considerable time in my Department.
– What about the small aircraft you bought overseas?
– I am talking about the aircraft required in my Department. The Government and the Air Force have supported the Australian industry because it is recognised thai our industrial capacity is of direct defence significance. In other words, industry might be said to be the fourth arm of defence after the Army, Navy and Air Force. Development of our natural resources and the strengthening of our industrial complex adds to our overall defence capabilities. Without an efficient domestic industry there would be no capacity to develop the sophisticated weapons and equipment of the highly skilled experts necessary to assist in the maintenance of that equipment. For over 30 years the Air Force has helped our aircraft industry. 1 can recall that in 1937 the newly formed Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation was given an order for 40 Wirraways.
The Government and the RAAF have supported the industry because we recognise that aircraft production and all Australian industries must in times of emergency provide many weapons, ammunition - about which I answered a question this morning - equipment and supplies needed to sustain our defence. Since Work War II the Air Force has bought 1,000 aircraft, of which 800 were made in Australia. They include Winjeels, Vampires, Mustangs, Sabres, Wirraways, Lincolns, Canberras, Mirages and Macchis. Canberra, Mirage and Macchi aircraft are in operation at present. Macchis are used for allthrough jet training, Mirages are attached to our fighter wing and the Canberras are in the strike aircraft category. All of those aircraft have been made in Australia. Other aircraft purchased for the RAAF in this period have been bought in small lots and I am sure that honourable senators appreciate that it would be grossly wasteful to attempt to manufacture aircraft in very small lots. I have in mind particularly aircraft like the Neptune, Caribou and Hercules. These are used only in very small numbers.
Approximately 90% of RAAF engines are overhauled outside the Air Force by private industry. About 70% of RAAF maintenance work, which includes overhauls, major services, major repairs and the incorporation of modifications to aircraft and associated equipment is done outside the Air Force. About 95% of the servicing of ground telecommunication equipment is done by local industry, as is about 60% of the maintenance of ground support equipment. In the current financial year it is anticipated that about §10. 8m will be spent by the Air Force on the repair and overhaul of its equipment and spares. On the servicing side, private industry is receiving the greatest amount of work that we can possibly give it, while at the same time retaining sufficient work for our own men.
Last March the Minister for Defence (Mr Malcolm Fraser) in his statement on defence indicated quite clearly that the Government recognises industry as the fourth arm of defence. I have just stated the policy carried out by the RAAF. The Service’s future requirements for helicopters have already been indicated. Undoubtedly in meeting these needs, particularly with light helicopters, every consideration will be given to local manufacture by Australian industry. Undoubtedly the same facts will apply when the Government is giving consideration to the replacement of the Mirage aircraft. The Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson) said something on this matter a while ago. As I indicated when I commenced my speech, the RAAF fully recognises that in the past the industry has played - and in the future it will continue to play - an important role.
– I enter this debate to give some point, I hope, to the urgency of the matter we have raised. Before I proceed to spell out the element of urgency that 1 think surrounds this debate, I make one or two observations. Firstly I refer to the statement of the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman) about the cancellation of the project in relation to the British aircraft called the ‘TSR2’. I remind the Minister, if in fact he needs any reminder of this - since we have talked about reconnaisance strike bombers and aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force - that one of the reasons which compelled the British Government to cancel production of the TSR2 was the failure of this Government to give any kind of encouragement to the British aircraft industry.
– That is quite wrong.
– I ask the honourable senator to be quiet. One of the reasons why the project was abandoned was that the RAAF failed to place any definite orders with the British aircraft industry for the TSR2. The unit cost of the TSR2 became so great, as a consequence, that the British were not able to manufacture it. It was one of the finest aircraft ever designed. We should have no nonsense about this. In a moment of panic preceding an election, the Australian Government placed an order overseas for a concept in somebody’s mind.
– All the rubbish is coming from the honourable senator. On the eve of a general election the Australian Government decided to place an order overseas for a concept in somebody’s mind. We know the dismal failure that it has turned out to be. So far it has cost $257m. All we have is aircraft silting in wrappers in the United States. We are not likely to get them until 1974. We should have no further nonsense about the TSR2 and the FI 1 1 . I deal now with the observation made by Senator Gair that the Senate ought to sit late into the night because we have wasted the time of the Senate on this matter, ls not a viable aircraft manufacturing industry in Australia one of the most important considerations to which a chamber of this kind should be turning ils mind at present? Has not the Government said on numerous occasions that a rounded defence system for any country encompasses a viable aircraft industry? A country must have the right type of aircraft to round out a defence system. We do not have such aircraft at the moment, and we do not look like getting them for a long while. While this outmoded and lack lustre thinking by the Government persists we are not likely to have a rounded out defence system, ls it not proper for an Opposition - and it is the role of an Opposition to raise matters of this kind - whenever the occasion permits, to .raise matters of urgency when the consequences of not doing so are as drastic as they are in this instance?
Over the years - back as far as 1936 - attempts have been made to get a proper aircraft industry established in this country. In quite recent times much has been written about our aircraft industry. As a matter of fact, a most interesting and illuminating report is contained in an issue of the journal of the Australian Industries Development Association - bulletin No. 206 of March 1970. It is by one of the greatest authorities in this country on the aircraft industry. Sir Laurence Hartnett. C.B.E. He was a pilot in the First World War and he played a significant role in 1936 and subsequently during those difficult years of the Second World War in the promotion of an aircraft industry in Australia. What did the industry do? It was able to make several vital parts for the Beaufort bomber. I believe that 1.085 or perhaps more training aircraft - the old DH82 Tiger Moth - were manufactured in Australia. The industry was able to design the Wackett trainer which played such a significant role in the training of Australian pilous in the Second World War. I saw - and there certainly were not many of these about - the Wackett bomber. We called it the ‘Wackett wonder”. The Minister may well recall it. lt was a twin engined bomber of a similar type to the Beaufort.
– 1 will never forget it.
- Senator Cotton recalls it. lt was designed and manufactured in this country. It gave to Australia a capability which it had not had prior to that time. During the years attempts have been made by people with a tremendous interest in the welfare of this country, in the defence of this country and in the promotion of a viable aircraft industry in this country, to make sure that the country had proper protection and could be serviced in times of defence and in meeting the needs of plain commercial economics.
– What about the Jindivik?
– I did noi intend to mention the Jindivik because it is a more recent innovation. The Minister for Air said that there is no question of urgency. We are told that we should sit late tonight. Let us sit. We tried to sit last night to deal with a matter of extreme importance to the Senate. The Government would not agree.
– We did not want to detain the Senate. Honourable senators would have been too tired.
- .Senator McManus supported the Government last night. Now he says that we should sit into the night because a matter or urgency has been raised by the Australian Labor Party, which is concerned with the defence of this country and the development of industry. Very well. I am prepared to sit tonight. We have sat here till 3 a.m. debating issues not as important as this. We sat here till 12.45 a.m. the other morning debating matters of importance to the Senate. Let us sit on. I do noi mind. That is why wo ure here. Until we can re-organise the business of the Senate to get a better and wider use of the talents and abilities of members we will have to sit late into the night. We should have no doubts about the question of urgency. This is an urgent matter.
As recently as 2 or 3 months ago observations have teen made in the Press. The Australian1 of 28th February 1970 carried the headline “Macchi was not justified’.
This is the aircraft that was ordered from Italy and is being manufactured under licence in Australia. This is the kind of thing that is being said. The article reads:
The executive, Mr E. Jones, who is the aircraft factory manager of the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation, said the lack of a planned programme for the Australian aircraft industry had made it necessary for the Government to go overseas for military aircraft in the past few years.
He said: ‘The requirement for a jet trainer for the RAAF was known in sufficient time to allow the lead time for design and development to meet the production programme dictated by the RAAF delivery schedule.’
His final comment was:
On its performance to date Australia had shown it had the capacity to manufacture aircraft and engines with a quality equal to the world’s best.
I can recall that about 6 years ago a person doing aeronautical research in Australia, in a fit of disillusionment, left the industry and went overseas. That is the kind of thing which has caused Sir Laurence Hartnett to refer to the brain drain. In his article in the ‘AIDA’ journal of March 1970, He said:
There is one further point; if we do not provide opportunities for men who in themselves have a burning zeal and conviction that they wish to be engaged in aircraft design and manufacturing, we will lose these men with their considerable education and qualifications. They will leave Australia and we will have a very important ‘brain drain’.
This is actually happening. An aircraft which would have filled the role of the Macchi was designed in Australia. It was on the drawing board. It was prefectly feasible, as was reported in the Press at the time, for this aircraft to be manufactured in Australia. I believe that the employment opportunities which would have been provided ran about 5 to 1 in favour of Australia. The Italian company employed 1,100 personnel. I have the figures here. On page 7 of the article in ‘AIDA’, Sir Laurence Hartnett said:
That our Government deemed it necessary to take a licence to manufacture the Macchi Jet Trainer from an Italian company, which 1 believe employs about 1,100 people compared to some 5,000 employed in CAC, is an instance of where we are giving away our birthright and even opportunity. There should have been no need to go overseas for this design of aircraft.
Does the Government question a person of the competence and experience of Sir Laurence Hartnett? Does not this indicate that the Labor Party has not approached this subject lightly and that the matter is one of grave seriousness? I see no hope for any alleviation of the present situation while the Government has this lack lustre and uninterested approach to matters of such importance. It is one of the depressing facts of life in Australia that it is almost impossible to get this Government to believe in and accept the fact that it is tremendously important to have an aircraft industry in Australia. I will read a further article which appeared in the ‘Australian’ of 28th February. It states:
The production director of Hawker de Havilland Australia Pty Ltd, Mr M. M. Waghorn said the Government did not have a policy on the manufacture of military aircraft. He suggested Australia should have a military aircraft manufacturing industry and, on a five-year rolling budget basis, an agreed amount of money should bc spent each year on the manufacture here of military aircraft. The industry’s location, organisation and development should take into account strategic and political factors.
Is the Government suggesting that a compretent and experienced person like Mr Waghorn would make a completely irresponsible statement? Certainly not. This gentleman is concerned to have an aircraft industry. He can see with his knowledge, appreciation and understanding that such an industry is feasible. Without saying: ‘Get off your seats and do something about this’, he has pointed the way for the Government. He has pointed out it can be done and ought to be done.
Let us look at the history of the industry since 1966 when the Tariff Board presented a report to the Parliament advising against any assistance to Victa Limited for the manufacture of what is still being acclaimed as one of the finest small aircraft in the world. It has tremendous capabilities; it is fully aerobatic and it is one of the best aircraft that could be put into a training squadron. It has low maintenance costs and a high safety factor; it is an ideal aircraft. That industry was based upon the manufacture of lawnmowers, of all things. Plans were afoot for the construction of an aircraft based upon the most advanced and modern technological knowledge. It would have been a tremendous asset to the aero clubs of this country. People in civilian employment could have been trained to fly them and in times of emergency these aircraft could have been put into the air for $70,000 each. These aircraft have a lift capacity of about a ton of armament. They could have been dispersed around this country and have been a tremendous deterrent to an invading force. What happened? The Tariff Board reported against assistance to Victa Limited, and it went out of existence.
On a more recent occasion application was made for assistance to the Transavia Corporation which was a branch of Transfield Pty Ltd. a magnificent steel fabrication organisation at Blacktown in Sydney. The company sought a subsidy of about $300,000 which would have faded out on the completion of the eighty-fifth aircraft that that company manufactured. I believe the economics of that company were so good that it could have got out of its costs, incidentally, the $300,000 for which it was asking was not the full cost. The company was prepared to accept a substantial proportion of the initial cost of putting the aircraft into the air. I had the pleasure of flying in that aircraft and I saw something of its capabilities. To a degree I am able to judge the merits of that aircraft, lt was a radical design. 1 suppose it would never win a prize for appearance but we are not concerned about appearance; we are concerned about performance. Above ali we are concerned to ensure that Australia has at least the nucleus of an aircraft industry. What happened? The Tariff Board reported against any assistance lo that industry. lt is an interesting fact that the Tariff Board based its judgment and its recommendation to the Government on the fact that there would not be sufficient aircraft manufactured to make this a viable concern. At that time the industry was going through an extremely difficult period as a consequence of the drought and the downturn in orders which, in other circumstances, could have been expected to flow to it. The aircraft company has gone to New Zealand and has done a tremendous amount to build an aircraft industry. 1 am delighted to hear that it is now receiving orders from South East Asia and around the Pacific area for its aircraft. In this day and age when private undertakings like this are laying out substantial sums of their own money to try to meet the particular requirements of the aircraft industry one would expect that the Government, which has so little regard for the millions of dollars it spends on the purchase of aircraft, would be able to fmd from its coffers the sum of $300,000. I support the urgency motion. I am completely in favour of it.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - Order! The honourable senator’s time has expired.
– The subject proposed as a matter of urgency is as follows:
The failure of the Government to promote design and construction of Australian aircraft ami helicopters for defence and commercial purposes.
Four items are involved. Firstly, there is a consideration of aircraft for their own sake: secondly, a consideration of helicopters; thirdly, consideration of the defence needs for bo:h aircraft and helicopters: and fourthly, the possible commercial needs for both aircraft andhelicopters. I do not consider myself to be in a strong position to talk at length about the defence needs for either aircraft or helicopters, although I understand some of the problems and complexities involved. I have read with interest and listened to the statements which had been made on this matter by the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Anderson), who is also the Minister for Supply. He has had some of these problems to deal with in the practical sense. I think it is a natural aspiration for any country to want to do these things. 1 am not quarrelling with people who wish to do these things, but I do question our ability to do them. There, is a need for these things to be examined, in depth, because considerable problems and investment are involved. 1 do not want to be thought to be a knocker ofanything my own country might be able to do well and effectively. Please understand that in no sense does one approach this matter in that light.
Let us look at the establishment of a’ local manufacturing industry to serve Australia’s commercial needs for both fixed wing aircraft and helicopters. A lot of. problems are involved. The Australian scene is a particularly complex one. To begin with, it has to be freely admitted that Australia is a large country. Probably, wilh” our population, we are out of rank as an aircraft usage country. We use aircraft both within and outside Australia over a very wide range of conditions, climates and needs. This in itself poses some problems when we talk about manufacturing an aircraft for commercial use by Australians.
I have some figures which may be interesting and which relate to normal airline operations, which account for about 30% of the Australian overall usage of air transport. The light aircraft, charter flights, commuter flights, agricultural aircraft and crop dusting aircraft account for about 70% of the total number of hours flown. Qantas Airways Ltd, an international carrier which is an Australian entity, requires aircraft. Ought we have an aircraft manufacturing business that could supply Qantas? I am sure the proposal before us does not envisage that, but this has to be thought about in the commercial sense. Qantas flies approximately 64,000 hours a year. This year it will carry about 500,000 passengers. Within Australia the airlines will carry about 5 million passengers, and within . the Papua-New Guinea area the figure is about 260,000. So we are a big user of aviation facilities. One might say that that being so we should be able to manufacture the aircraft we need.
The problem with which we are confronted covers a great number of areas. Firstly, there is the size of this country and the distances covered in serving our external Territories and our international routes. Australian aircraft fly, to some extent, in Arctic type temperatures, in tropical areas, in areas of heavy rainfall, and in areas of great distance and dust. Aircraft are called upon to land on remote strips, in some cases in complete isolation. In other cases they are called upon to provide a facility equal to the best in the world in time, type and that sort of thing. That itself puts some complexities into the picture.
When people talk about wanting to establish an aircraft manufacturing industry, we have to examine the matter fairly and ask: ‘Whilst it is a worthy aspiration for countries to want to do everything they can to maximise their opportunities, is it sensible for a country such, as Australia to try to do everything?’ One question that does need examination is this: To what extent is it sensible to engage in an aircraft manufacturing industry in Australia? There are a number of things that a country can do with its resources, people and talents. Some of those things Australia is qualified to do extremely well for a variety of reasons. Other things it is not as highly qualified to do well.
I believe that a question which must continually be under examination in relation to the investment programme is: How far should we go in having an aircraft manufacturing industry in Australia to use resources, to employ people and to develop opportunities, and is this a better way of doing those things than some alternative way? I suggest that at the present time the industry has been carried to the realistic position in which it ought to be. I do not quarrel with those who want the opportunity to take it further; but it must be on the basis that we do so realising what we might be involving ourselves in.
One of tfe huge problems that we have in this situation is that of market scale. I am sure that Senator Bishop and Senator Devitt will understand that when a country considers involving .itself in the manufacture of aircraft or helicopters for commercial or defence purposes it has to say to itself, first of all: ‘It is unlikely that one aircraft manufacturing plant will be capable of manufacturing efficiently civil aircraft, defence aircraft, civil helicopters and defence helicopters. We will be involved in far more than 1 branch of manufacturing. This will be complex. The size of the market on which that manufacturing plant will be able to call in respect of any particular product it manufactures will decide whether it has any capacity to be really viable. Therefore should it be taken further and should it. use resources, time and energy, as against something else that might offer an opportunity more attractive and with greater potential for stability and growth?’
When we talk about the size of the market we have to look at the Australian scene and ask ourselves: ‘Where will the orders for aircraft come from to enable us to run a really decent and efficient industry manufacturing aircraft or helicopters for civil or defence purposes?’ The Australian aircraft register is an interesting document. I have a copy of it here. With the concurrence of honourable senators, I incorporate it in Hansard.
That lists the aircraft on the Australian civil register at 30th June 1969. It has no relation to the aircraft that are employed by the Services. On the civil register at 30th June 1969 there were about 3,600 aircraft. The list covers 2 pages. When honourable senators see it and see the diversity of types of aircraft, they will realise that this diversity is not happening just by chance, lt is because of the complexity of the Australian needs and the Australian situation that we have this huge diversity of aircraft types on the Australian scene. The question that this suggests to us is: Is it likely, despite the diversity of the need and the complexity of the problem, that on the Australian scene there will be a big enough demand for any one particular aircraft type which would justify manufacture for .Australian needs only beyond a certain number? I do not think it is. That list of aircraft may help honourable senators who are interested in this problem.
Secondly, the Royal Australian Air Force has 463 aircraft on its register and the Royal Australian Navy has 92 aircraft on its register. With the concurrence of honourable senators, I incorporate details of those registers in Hansard.
Those documents give honourable senators the approximate number of aircraft in Australia at a recent date. My study of this matter - I must say that it has not been as detailed as I would like it to be, but I have done some work on this matter - has brought me to this conclusion: I do not believe that within Australia there is a market for a fixed type of aircraft that is big enough in its continuous demand to justify any industry of any magnitude. That would mean that we would probably have to be looking for an overseas market.
– What is the authority for that statement?
– I am just telling the Senate my view. I have the greatest wish to oblige the honourable senator, but I said earlier that I did not set myself up as the last word on this matter. What 1 do say is that we have available figures on aircraft on the Australian civil register and Australian defence aircraft, and those have now been incorporated in Hansard. Together they add up to a picture which leads me to say, speaking for myself, that 1 cannot see that it is possible to design one aircraft or a couple of aircraft to do everything for everybody in Australia or that there would be a big enough market to support a viable aircraft manufacturing industry and to justify going beyond what we have at this point of time.
We have a proposition from Senator Devitt, in the full flush of enthusiasm and in the full flower of the morning, for an aircraft manufacturing industry in Australia. What is the history of other countries in the manufacture of aircraft even on huge scales? Senator Devitt and f have been involved in a certain amount of flying in our lives. We are both very familiar with one of the great aircraft of all time, the Douglas DC3. If ever an aircraft had a tremendous market that developed over a long period of time, had a great record of usage and stability of usage and represented a safe floor market for manufacture, it was the Douglas DC3. We all knew that. That aircraft should have provided a basis for a business that would be profitable and viable through time.
But what did we find? We found that even the huge Douglas company, with all its experience and technical know-how and with that wonderful aircraft as a tremendous production item in its business, was unable to survive in its own right in America in view of the capital demands and the changing needs for types of aircraft.
– Birt it served a great national need, did it not?
– No-one quarrels with that. We are talking about the use of resources in Australia, in a situation of heavily employed resources of money and people, in order to build an industry. It is suggested to us that this ought to be done because the industry would have a market and it would be profitable. These are the doubts that I raise.
Not only Senator Devitt and I but also other people will be well aware of the pioneering work done in the United Kingdom in aircraft design and thought and the development of new types of aircraft. 1 refer to the development of the Whittle jet engine and new aircraft type and the tremendous work done by Barnes Wallis. That country probably had as much ingenuity, skill in design and ability to develop new types and new thoughts in the aircraft industry as any other country. But it was unable to sustain that ability in the form of a viable and profitable aircraft manufacturing industry. These things are hard to say, but they are true.
Let me turn to another illustration, Metropolitan France has an aircraft industry that can be examined involving a country much larger than Australia. H has a population about 4 times the size of Aus,tralia’s. Obviously it is a country of skill and competence.
– We have an aircraft industry. You do not seem to know that.
– I do know that. What the honourable senator does not appear to know is that France has taken its industry to the stage at which it is competent-
– You are saying that we should not have an aircraft industry at all?
– 1 am not. I am saying that we should be realistic in relation to our expansion plans for our industry at the present time. In France there is a company known as Sud Aviation which builds the Caravelle aircraft and the Alouette helicopter. One of those is a commercial aircraft and the other is a helicopter and both are available in various conversions. Sud Aviation’ has an investment, in capital alone, of $51 m, in addition to the assets in its business. But it has to depend upon foreign orders for more than 70% of its business.
I think this proposition can now be brought back to reality. I acknowledge the fact that we have an aircraft manufacturing industry in Australia. I am proud of it and of what it has achieved. I had a little bit to do with the industry in its early days, which is more than many honourable senators opposite can say. The industry has done a good job. It has been taken along sensibly and well to its present stage. In moving a motion of this kind the Opposition is being completely unreal about what the industry can do.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
– in reply- I shall be brief. All I want to say is that I think the Opposition has proved the case it has put forward. The Government has allowed the aircraft industry to run down. No doubt, as a result of the opportunity to debate this issue in the Senate, the problem will be better understood in the future. I suggest that the question be now put to a vote.
That the Senate, at its rising, adjourn till Tuesday next at 1.45 p.m.
The Senate divided. (The Deputy President - Senator Bull)
Majority . . . . 7
Question soresolved in the affirmative.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator DrakeBrockman) read a first time.
Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (Western
Australia - Minister for Air) [12.21] - I move:
With the concurrence of honourable senators, 1 incorporate my second reading speech in Hansard.
The purpose of this Bill and the related Bills is to give effect to proposals submitted to the Government by the Australian Dairy Industry Council to provide statutory support to the present dairying industry equalisation scheme. The equalisation scheme, which has operated since 1934, is based on a system of voluntary agreements between participating manufacturers and the Commonwealth Dairy Produce Equalisation Committee Ltd, hereafter referred to as the Equalisation Committee. Broadly the scheme is an annual pooling of local and export sales so that all factories receive the same return for their butter, cheese or casein irrespective of the market on which the product is sold. The stability which has resulted from the equalisation scheme has proved of great value to dairy farmers. An inherent weakness in the scheme is its dependence on the voluntary co-operation of manufacturers who may give notice of withdrawal at any time. Any appreciable withdrawal could result in the breakdown of the arrangements with disastrous consequences for the industry as it would inevitably result in price cutting on the local market and lead to a complete loss of price stability as the domestic price would inevitably be forced down to the level of export parity.
The Commonwealth Government as a practical measure of support has since 1943 made eligibility for bounty payments on butter and cheese under the stabilisation arrangements conditional on factory participation in equalisation. The strength of this provision however has diminished over the years with the reduction in the average unit rate of bounty payable arising from increased lota) production and a gradual widening in the gap between equalisation values and the return from the local market. While there is no immediate threat to the scheme these factors have created some uncertainty as to its continued operation on a voluntary basis. At the present time there are a number of small cheese companies that are not in equalisation but their production is not sufficient to make their nonparticipation a threat to the existing scheme. However, dairy industry leaders have been aware that the scheme could be quickly undermined by the withdrawal of even one significant manufacturer and for some years have been investigating with the Commonwealth and the States ways and means of buttressing the scheme.
The Government agrees wim the Australian Dairy Industry Council that the continuation of the equalisation scheme is necessary for the orderly marketing of butter, cheese and casein and that the voluntary scheme requires statutory support in order to secure a firmer foundation for the industry’s organisation, lt has accepted the Council’s proposals for federal legislation to provide a Commonwealth levy on production to finance equalisation payments as the most practical means of achieving this. This Bill and the accompanying Bills give effect to the basic provisions of the industry’s proposals which are designed to permit the continuation of the existing equalisation arrangements. The proposals have been unanimously endorsed by the Australian Dairy Industry Council and have also received the approval of the Australian Agricultural Council. The basic element of the industry proposals is the establishment of a fund by way of a levy on the production of dairy produce to provide the necessary finance for equalisation payments.
The purpose of this Bill is to provide for a separate levy to be imposed on the production of butler, butter oil, cheese, casein and such other dairy produce as may be prescribed. The Bill provides that where production at a factory is on average less than 5 cwt per month over a production period the product is exempt from the levy. This provision will exclude the smaller fancy cheese manufacturers and there is flexibility in the proposed legislation to make any concessional payments to larger manufacturers that may be negotiated with the Equalisation
Committee. Condensery products have been specifically excluded as there is no support from the manufacturers of those products for an equalisation scheme. The levy will be payable by the proprietor of the factory at which the dairy produce is produced. It will apply from a date to be prescribed for each type of dairy produce and the operative rate will be prescribed after recommendation to the Minister by the Australian Dairy Industry Council. The maximum rates of levy specified in the Bill are the rates recommended to the Government by the Australian Dairy Industry Council.
The legislation has been designed to permit the imposition of the levy on one product or a number of products as circumstances warrant. The levy for equalisation purposes will be related to a production period which will normally cover the 12 months period ending 30th June but there is provision to reduce a production period should the need arise. As the rate of levy will be determined essentially by the amount of equalisation payments made in respect of sales from the relevant production period it cannot be determined for some months after the end of the production period. Consequently provision has been made for the rate of levy applicable to the specified kind of dairy produce to be prescribed between 6 months and 2 years after the end of the production period. For the purpose of securing the collection of the. levy during the interim period there will be imposed a provisional levy which will enable funds to be collected for equalisation purposes as the season progresses. I would emphasise that all the proceeds of the levy will be repaid to the dairy industry and that the scheme does not involve the Commonwealth in any financial commitment.
I propose now to outline the other main features of the scheme such as the arrangements for the collection of the levy and the distribution of equalisation payments which are embodied in the accompanying legislation. The proceeds of the levy will be used essentially lo make equalisation payments on the export of dairy produce subject to the levy at the rate required to increase the export return to the level of the domestic return. Equalisation payments will also be made on the export of other products made from dairy produce which have been subject to the levy, such as processed cheese. In addition, the levy proceeds may be used to make equalisation payments on the production of products made from dairy produce subject to the levy. This will permit the industry to continue its long-standing practice of making concessional sales to manufacturers of certain products - notably ice cream manufacturers..
In addition to the equalisation payments mentioned above the levy proceeds may also be used to meet cold storage and other marketing and administration costs incurred by the Equalisation Committee. In effect the Equalisation Committee will be able to continue its present important function of ensuring the maintenance of supplies of butter and cheese to meet requirements throughout Australia all the year round without additional costs to the consumer. The levy proceeds may also be used to meet costs incurred in the withholding of export surpluses and subsequent planned shipments to the United Kingdom to ensure continuity of supply on that market. These are important functions currently being performed by the Equalisation Committee.
Provision has been made for the Commonwealth Government to make arrangements with the Equalisation Committee to collect levies and disburse equalisation payments on its behalf. This will enable factories already in equalisation to continue their existing arrangements with the Equalisation Committee if they so wish. In effect they will continue to make payments to the Equalisation Committee when market realisations exceed the average equalisation value out of which the Committee will pay the levy on behalf of member factories. In turn the equalisation payments will be offset against levy commitments. Other factories may opt to pay the levy direct to the Commonwealth or the Equalisation Committee, and receive equalisation payments where eligible.
I mentioned earlier that the payment of bounty on butter and cheese under the dairying industry stabilisation arrangements is restricted to factories participating in the present equalisation scheme. As the levy under the proposed legislation will be payable by all factories, provision has been made to amend the Dairying Industry Act to enable the payment of the stabilisation bounty to be made on the production of all butter and cheese on which levy has been imposed.
For the purpose of administering legislation involving the collection of levies and their disbursement provision is required for persons authorised by the Minister to enter premises and examine documents and papers that are relevant to the operation of the legislation. Some concern has been expressed by the Parliament on the need to ensure that such provisions do not infringe on the civil liberties of the community and a new provision has been included which takes account of the main objections raised. The provision which has been included in two of the accompanying Bills provides for reference to a justice of the peace for a warrant to enter premises in which dairy produce is produced if the consent of the occupier is not forthcoming. This provision should ensure that the civil liberties of the community are not infringed and, at the same time, permit the legislation to be enforced.
The equalisation scheme embodied in this Bill and the accompanying legislation is an industry scheme financed completely by industry money and accordingly it has been deemed appropriate to make provision for the Australian Dairy Industry Council to make recommendations to the Minister for Primary Industry on the main aspects to be covered by regulation, such as the date of imposition of the levy, the rates of levy, provisional levy and equalisation payments.
A referendum of dairy producers held before the introduction of the existing equalisation scheme in 1934 indicated overwhelming support for the scheme. While it is apparent that there is general producer acceptance for the proposed legislation in view of the lapse of time since the last referendum the Government considers it desirable to hold a further poll of producers. The Dairying Industry Equalisation Legislation Referendum Bill provides that the implementation of this Bill, the Dairying Industry Levy Collection Bill and the Dairying Industry EqualisationBill is conditional on a simple majority vote of dairy producers cast at a poll being ,in favour of this course. It is the intention of the Government after consultation with the industry to conduct the poll as soon as practicable after the legislation has been passed by Parliament. The legislation has been designed so that a compulsory equalisation scheme for a particular product or products will not be implemented unless there isa specific need created such as by the withdrawal of an important manufacturer from the present voluntary equalisation scheme.
The Australian dairy industry is faced with a serious situation because of increasing butter production which has resulted not only in a reduction in producer returns because of the higher proportion which has to be sold on the unprofitable export market, but it is also heading the industry into a serious surplus problem.
The industry will need to take some positive steps to meet the situation which could well impose some strain on its present marketing structure, the core of which is the existing equalisation scheme. The Government believes that this Bill and the accompanying Bills will provide a firmer foundation for the industry’.; organisation and improve the prospectof securing the co-operation of State governments and the industry in taking some positive action to meet the problems of the industry. I commend the Bill.
Debute (on motion by Senator Wilkinson) adjourned.
DAIRYING INDUSTRY LEVY COLLECTION BILL 1970
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Drake-Brockman) read a first time.
– I move:
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to provide for the establishment of a dairy produce equalisation trust account and for the payment into this account of amounts equal to the amounts collected as levy and provisional levy under the Dairying Industry Levy Bill. The moneys in the trust account will be used to make the type of equalisation payments and other payments described in my second reading speech on the Dairying Industry Levy Bill.
There will be provision for interim rates of equalisation payments to be fixed by the Minister for Primary Industry from time to time after taking into account any recommendations by the Australian Dairy Industry Council. The final rates of equalisation payments will be fixed by regulation. There is also provision for the Commonwealth to enter into an arrangement with the Commonwealth Dairy Produce Equalisation Committee Ltd to make equalisation payments to proprietors of factories on behalf of the Commonwealth Government. This provision complements the arrangements for the collection of levy which are designed to permit the existing arrangements for factories already in equalisation to be continued. Other factories can opt to receive the equalisation payments direct from the Commonwealth or from the equalisation committee.
There is provision for an annual report to be submitted to Parliament on the operation of the Act. This is the third of the Complementary Bills required to implement the industry’s proposals for statutory support to the present dairying equalisation arrangements. It lays down the procedures for returning to the industry the money provided by the Dairying Industry Levy Bill and so allows for the completion of the equalisation process without any financial commitment to the Commonwealth. I commend the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wilkinson) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator DrakeBrockman) read a first time.
– I move:
With the concurrence of honourable senators 1 incorporate my second reading speech in Hansard:
The purpose of this Bill is to make legislative arrangements for a referendum to be conducted on the question of whether the Dairying Industry Levy Act, the Dairying Industry Levy Collection Act and the Dairying Industry Equalisation Act should be brought into operation. The Bill provides that the Acts cannot be implemented unless a simple majority of the votes cast at a poll of producers is in favour of this course, In order that the views of the industry should be properly reflected, voting in the referendum will be compulsory.
Under the terms of the Bill a producer will be entitled to a vote if during the year preceding the polling day he supplied milk or cream to a butter or cheese factory and at the time of voting owned cows for this purpose. Where milk or cream is supplied to a factory by a partnership each partner will be entitled to a vote. In the case of companies, each company will receive a vote. To avoid the possibility of minors voting in the referendum only persons who have attained the age of 21 years will be allowed to vote.
Voters will have the opportunity to study the legislation and consider its implications as the Bill provides that the Minister for Primary Industry shall prepare a pamphlet containing authorised arguments in favour of an affirmative or a negative answer to the question to be decided by the poll. The pamphlet will be distributed to all eligible voters with their ballot papers. I commend the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wilkinson) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator DrakeBrockman) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time. With the concurrence of honourable senators 1 incorporate my second reading speech in Hansard:
In my second reading speech on the Dairying Industry Levy Bill I mentioned that the payment of the stabilisation bounty on butter and cheese under the Dairying Industry Act 1962-1967 was restricted to factories participating in equalisation. As the levy under the proposed Dairying Industry Levy Bill will be payable by all factories provision has been made to amend the Dairying Industry Act 1962-1967 to enable the payment of the stabilisation bounty to be made on the production of all butter and cheese on which levy has been imposed. The Bill has been designed to enable the amendment to be implemented separately in respect of butter or cheese in the event that levy is imposed on only one of these products. The opportunity has been taken to make some additional amendments to the principal Act.
The first amendment relates to a recommendation made to the Minister for Primary Industry in 1967 by the Australian Dairy Industry Council that for the year 1968-69 and subsequent years bounty should be paid under the Dairying Industry Act on the basis that would yield a uniform rate on a butterfat basis for both butter and cheese. There are administrative difficulties in achieving a uniform rate of bounty under the present provisions of the Act which require separate appropriations to be made for butter and cheese. At the time of appropriation it is impossible to forecast what amounts should be appropriated to yield a uniform bounty rate as the production year is then only beginning. The alternative formula proposed provides for the appropriation of a single amount for butter and cheese which will automatically determine one rate for butterfat for both butter and cheese. This amendment will require a consequential amendment to the Processed Milk Products Bounty Act 1962-1968 and a separate Bill has been drafted for this purpose.
A second amendment will provide for the withholding of bounty payments on butter and cheese on the recommendation of the Australian Dairy Industry Council where provisional levy and levy is owed by the proprietor of a factory for more than 3 months. I commend the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wilkinson) adjourned.
Bill received from the House of Representatives.
Standing Orders suspended.
Bill (on motion by Senator Drake-Brockman) read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time. With the concurrence of honourable senators I incorporate my second reading speech in Hansard.
The purpose of this Bill is to make a minor amendment to the Processed Milk Products Bounty Act 1962-1968 which is the Act relating to the distribution of bounty payments on the export of processed milk products. The amendment will enable the alternative formula in the proposed Dairying Industry Bill to be used in the determination of the rate of bounty payable in respect of any processed milk product exports consistent with the present legislative requirement that the rate of bounty payable shall not be greater than the rule applicable to butterfat used in the production of butter in the same year. I commend the Bill.
Debate (on motion by Senator Wilkinson) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 12.30 to 2.55 p.m.
Debate resumed from 14 May (vide page 1507), on motion by Senator Anderson: That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The measure before us is a Bill to establish the Australian Film Development Corporation. I support the measure. I do so because I believe that k has been introduced mainly at the instigation of our present Prime Minister (Mr Gorton). Indeed, I believe that no previous Prime Minister has acted with such goodwill towards the development of this particularly important industry. I support the legislative action that is now being taken. This measure requires considerable debate, but I realise at the present time that there is an urgent need for the Senate to deal with matters as quickly as possible. There are some 20 Bills on our notice paper to be discussed, and I believe that there are al least 30 more measures in the House of Representatives which have to come to the Senate prior to its rising for the winter recess. Therefore it is necessary that I should curtail my remarks on this matter.
The Prime Minister and his Government are seeking the approval of the Senate for the formation of the Australian Film Development Corporation. It is to be hoped that by this means encouragement will be given to the production and distribution of Australian films of high quality. ] congratulate the Government for taking this action to achieve such an objective. It is interesting to note that the Australian Film Development Corporation is one of the substantially capitalised corporations which this Government has sought permission to establish in this session. Yesterday we dealt with legislation under which the Australian Industry Development Corporation will be established. We have yet to deal with legislation under which another substantially capitalised corporation, the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation, will be established. The- Australian Film Development Corporation is designed to develop the film industry. 1 believe that this legislation implements aspects of the report of the Senate Select Committee on the Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television - commonly referred to as the Vincent Committee. That report advocated the establishment of an Australian television council.
– A very fine job was done by the late Senator Vincent.
– Yes, I acknowledge that point. It appears to me that the
Australian Film Development Corporation is to take the place of the Australian television council which was advocated in the Vincent report. Although it is some 7 years since the Senate received the Vincent Committee’s report, some move is now being taken to attempt to establish a sound Australian television film production industry.. The encouragement to the television industry which was advocated in the Vincent Committee’s report is in spirit to be given by the establishment of the Australian Film Development Corporation.
Whilst commending those objectives - and also the Prime Minister, because I believe he has taken it in his own hands to promote these objectives - I wish to pinpoint once again in the Senate some of the very important questions which have been facing the Australian television industry. I congratulate Senator McClelland for the comments which he has made in this debate. Indeed, if I may say so, Senator McClelland has taken to his heart very much, over a period of time, the problems facing the Australian television industry. I believe that Senator McClelland has been outstanding in raising questions concerning the importation of film, the establishment of a real indigenous Australian television industry and the employment of Australian citizens within the industry. But it appears to me that nowhere in the legislation we are discussing is there any sign of action being taken on some of the very important aspects of the Vincent Committee’s report.
The most important matter that I have drawn to the attention of the Senate over a period of years - I hope that the Minister for Works (Senator Wright) will attempt to reply to my comments - concerns the provision of tax concessions to programme producers and investors supporting the film industry. I believe that assistance should be provided to film producers at the State level, by way of the provision of land, buildings for studios, etc., and that there should bc a constant review of quotas, which were in vogue some years ago, on the import of overseas film, having regard to the extent of increases in the supply of programmes and the comparative cost of local and overseas programmes. If one studies the Vincent Committee’s report - it has been stated in the Senate that it is a very excellent report and one from which you could quote at great length - one finds that the details of the recommendations are perhaps less significant than the affirmation of the principle that the Federal Government must concern itself with the protection of the Australian programme industry. Conversely, stricter control should be exercised on the importation of overseas television programmes.
It is interesting to note that a glance at the Broadcasting and Television Act and at the comments of the then PostmasterGeneral show that the professed intentions of the Government in these respects have not been carried through. I have noted, in preparing some notes on this Bill, that section 114(1.) of the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942 stated:
The Commission and licencees shall, as far as possible, use the services of Australians in the production and presentation of broadcasting and television programmes.
I pose this question to the Senate: How much has been achieved by 1970? There was wide criticism of the phrase ‘as soon as possible’ which was included in the 1942 Act. The then Postmaster-General stated:
I point out very definitely that no-one on this side of the chamber will bow to anyone else in this realisation of the potentialities of television and in his determination to use those potentialities to the utmost extent for the development of Australian art and culture. Let that point be understood immediately.
Again I ask of the Senate: How much has that been achieved in 1970? The then Postmaster-General has already said - and indeed, this would be the core of the remarks that I make in the Senate today - that:
The importation of American productions cannot be allowed to continue to the detriment of Australian production. At the start therefore we are endeavouring to restrict such importation by the imposition of import quotas.
It is interesting to note that initially television licensees were given import quotas to the value of some £60,000 per annum of which not more than two-thirds could come from dollar imports. I put it to the Senate that we have a situation today where the effect of the overseas market in relation to the import of television programmes has reduced the Autralian television film industry to the state in which we find it today. Undoubtedly this Bill is levelled at trying to raise the local industry to a higher standard. I noted that on 28th January this year an issue of the magazine Variety’ gave an estimate in these terms:
Late ‘69 saw the exit of a product pact between the majors-
That is the major television stations - resulting in go-it-alone buying, estimated to exceed S40m over the current span.
This is particularly important. If we were dealing with any industry which had an import Bill of some $40m when in fact this whole amount could be saved by production within Australia this Senate would be giving very close attention to the matter, but against this barrage of overseas programmes Australian television programmes have been given no significant protection or assistance. I refer again to the remark of Senator McManus that 1 primary industry was in very much the same position and needed protection from the influence of overseas selling. The point that I make and have made in this chamber on a number of occasions is that currently Australian networks cannot afford - and this is a matter of business within our community - to pay more than from $14,000 to §20,000 per episode for an Australian drama series, even with generous terms including, in some instances, the Australian playing rights in perpetuity which are granted with the sale of such a programme. This is something which should not occur. But television series produced with higher budgets must depend on substantial overseas sales and these sales can be won only by programmes tailored to meet overseas markets. Consequently the value of their contribution to the Australian audience is lessened and there is great difficulty in selling Australian made programmes.
Currently the situation persists in which a local series of programmes produced on budgets of between $14,000 and $20,000 must compete unaided with the United States series produced at from $150,000 to $200,000 per episode but sold in Australia for as little as $5,000 per episode. Where is the industry in Australia that has had to compete with such a proposition as we find in the television industry? As I have said in this chamber previously, there is no protection for the Australian television production industry from the effects of overseas sales on this market. I cited a number of series and their cost. These are television series that honourable senators know, such as “Rawhide’ which costs approximately $134,000 per programme to produce, The Rogues’, another feature which costs $132,000 to produce, and the ‘Ed Sullivan Show’ which is expected to cost somewhere in the vicinity of $150,000 per programme to produce. The Virginian’, another feature which we sometimes look at, costs $ 1 80,000 per programme to produce.
These i-hour shows cost on an average about $145,000 in the United States and arc sold in Australia for approximately $2,000. Of course, the television stations buy only so that they can sell time on their advertising medium. But surely it must be appreciated by the Government that programmes of very high rating - high quality productions - costing $150,000 an hour to produce are available to the Australian market at $2,000 an hour. How does our Australian industry ever compete with this? Are we taking this into account when we arc proposing the measure that we have before us today? 1 hope that the Minister may be able to state the effect that he hopes the legislation will have on this problem.
There ought to be some protection for the Australian industry when facts like that are taken into account. How would I as a Country Party member ever speak for the dairy industry, if these were the facts about lack of protection for the dairy industry? What would be the position of manufacturing industries in general in these circumstances? How could one ever argue against tariffs if that were to be the position? These programmes are produced in America for $150,000 and sold in Australia for $2,000. This is an undeniable fact, and nowhere can we sustain an industry if we are going to have these programmes opposed to our industry.
The other important aspect is the Australian programme content which is required of television stations. We have a situation where everybody agrees that they wish to see a television programme industry built up in Australia. How do we aim at this? We say to the television stations that progressively they should build up an Australian programme content. Following from that there should be greater employment of Australian artists and a build-up of actors, producers and expertise in television filming. The honourable senator opposite who is trying to interject fully agrees with me on this matter. The Australian Broadcasting
Control Board imposes a requirement that each channel at the present time shall show programmes of Australian origin for not less than 50% of total transmission time. That is a particularly admirable recommendation. But there has been some breakdown in that requirement. I drew this information recently by a question to the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme). In actual fact credits are allowed for a greater percentage of television time for the showing of Australian programmes. In order to reduce my remarks to the bare minimum, with the concurrence ot honourable senators I incorporate in Hansard that part of the reply by the Postmaster-General which is headed: ‘Metropolitan commercial television stations - average base and total credits for Australian programmes - period April to December 1969”. lt reads:
This is an important matter which all honourable senators, when they have a few hours available to themselves at the weekend to look at television, will appreciate. Inevitably there is a tendency to dispose of quotas in off-peak slots, that is, by the showing of women’s shows, sporting telecasts and what are known as magazine programmes in which one or to people discuss a matter in front of a fixed television camera. That is included as Australian content. The Minister is listening closely.
Whether the Government has listened sufficiently closely for the past 7 or 8 years I do not know, but something needs to be done.
– He has not only listened, he has also taken action consistently for more than 8 years.
– I acknowledge at the outset the great interest that the Commonwealth Government has shown in its attempts to build a greater Australian television industry.
– You have to get yourself as No. 2 on the Liberal ticket.
– And I am going fairly well, too. In the peak time from 7 p.m. to 9.30 p.m. it is required that programmes of Australian origin shall be televised for not less than 18 hours in each 28-day period. Of those 18 hours, 2 hours must be of Australian drama. I agree with the Minister that we have made an attempt but the effect of that requirement is that less than 25% of programmes televised in peak viewing time must be of Australian origin. Let us compare that with the situation in Canada. There was a recent announcement of Canada’s insistence that 60% of prime viewing time must show programmes of Canadian origin. Formerly it was 40% but Canada is attempting to build up more rapidly than we are. I ask the Minister to look at that aspect to see what can be done. Let me repeat that the Canadian Government is demanding that stations devote 60% of their prime viewing time to showing programmes of Canadian origin. I advocate that the Australian Government do likewise.
– The hours in Canada are from 6.30 p.m. to 11.30 p.m., not from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. as in Australia.
– And Canadian viewers can pick up United States stations.
– There are many aspects of this matter that I should like to discuss. I turn now to the proposed establishment of a film school. One may think that that is an excellent objective but let me remind honourable senators that science laboratories were set up in private school before sufficient science teachers were available to staff adequately the laboratories. The same situation-
– But the Government has already provided for the Arts Council to begin to establish the training school.
– That is quite right. The sum of SI 00,000 has been allocated. I hope that the Minister will be able to tell us how that $100,000 is being spent. I hope he is able to demonstrate that it is being spent to better purpose than by being used to finance trips overseas to study some aspects of the industry. It will be very interesting to hear the Minister’s reply.
I support the legislation. It is legislation which the industry and Australians generally will embrace wholeheartedly. Many aspects of it are difficult to follow. I am sure the Minister would agree that in the ensuing years the corporation must appear not to be a superficially expensive fob-off for what is really required. I again put the point that there is nothing within the legislation which protects the Australian television industry from the core of the problem. America and certain other overseas countries are able to engage in the production of very highly specialised and most attractive productions. But they are also very costly productions. They can be sold on the American market for a very high price. After having recovered the cost of production and made a high profit on the American scene, the producers then turn to the Australian market and sell those productions at a price which undercuts the cost of Australian productions. I hope that the $lm will not be used to purchase programmes of that kind. That is one of the problems which confront the industry. We on the Government side have fought for the protection of Australian industries by way of subsidy and by way of tariffs.
– Is not that a form of dumping?
– The honourable senator is completely on my side. The Minister must agree that it is a form of dumping. We have not stopped it, for what reason I do not know. He may tell us. This is a most admirable measure. I believe that by its introduction the Prime Minister has demonstrated himself to be a Prime Minister who has no peer in seeing that Australian industries are established. I hope that the Opposition will agree with me on that. The core of this matter is the protection of an Australian industry. There are other ; matters in the Bill to which one could direct attention but time is short.I say only that I, as a Government senator, congratulate the Government for this first step. I hope that it will look into the protection of the. industry against dumping as mentioned by Senator Greenwood, and do its utmost to encourage the showing of local content in. peak viewing time.
– My remarks will be extremely brief.In the 1920s and 1930s Australia had quite a significant film industry, but because of pressures caused by the depression and then World War II the industry almost disappeared. We have been in the situation of recent years that except for a film industry directed largely to supplying the needs of television we have not had the kind of film industry that a country like ours should possess.It is not necessary, as some people have suggested, to be a big and powerful country to develop a fine film industry. Italy is an example of a country not needing to have powerful resources to occupy a prominent position in the film industry of the world. The situation in regard to our film industry caused members of the Senate serious concern and some years ago a committee of the Senate was formed to inquire into the film industry and related matters. The Chairman of that Committee deserves to be remembered. I refer to the late Senator Seddon Vincent. As Chairman of the Committee he did a tremendous job. He and his colleagues produced a report which is, I believe, everything that one could have expected from a committee inquiring into this important matter. 1 can only express my regret that so little has been done by the Government to implement the recommendations of that Committee for the work of which, as I have said, Senator Vincent will always be remembered.
-It is now running at a loss of $600 an episode.
– I think we all realise that Senator McClelland has taken a particularly strong interest in Australia’s film industry and the development of entertainment of an Australian character. Mr Crawford has been prepared to be a pioneer in this industry and to take the risk of financial loss in order to develop it. I think wc have all to pay tribute to him for the fact that he has shown that it is possible for film development to take place successfully in Australia. I think it is most important to encourage our film industry, whether it is directed to general entertainment or to television. I do not think any honourable senator is unaware that the Australian television companies have in a sense been blackmailed by overseas interests in the last few years to force them to pay astronomical sums to be provided with films and television programmes made overseas. Those people have attempted to take advantage of the fact that there is only a very small film industry in this country. I therefore pay tribute once again to the pioneering work of people such as Mr Crawford. I am glad that our Government has at last taken action in a definite way for the encouragement of an Australian film industry.
An amendment has been moved. The effect of the proposal, as I understand it, is to eliminate the provision made by the Government to the effect that persons on the board which will determine whether assistance should be given should have association with entrepreneurs or financial bodies interested in the industry. There may be good reasons for that. At the same time, however,I was a little disturbed least such a provision prevent the board concerned from having available to it the experience and knowledge that would be an advantage in these matters. However, a member of the Council which is administering these matters has interviewed me and has pointed out that the decisions of the Council will be made on the basis of an examination by assessors of proposals made to the Council for the purpose of obtaining assistance.
– Is it a council or a. board?
– I think it is the Council. I am referring to the body which will approve the availability of finance for objectives put before it. As I have been assured that the Council will have available to it expert opinion through assistants who will be appointed to examine these matters, I feel that in these circumstances the Council will be guided by expert knowledge. For that reason the DLP will not support the proposed amendment.
A number of Australian television companies have established the practice of meeting the demands for an Australian content in programmes by filming certain sporting events. I think that is an excellent practice because Australians are interested in sport and this is a form of entertainment which appeals to a great number of people But I was interested in a question asked by Senator Keeffe about the filming of the rugby test match between England and Australia. Senator Keeffe took strong exception to the fact that it was not to be filmed. He said that the people concerned were to be condemned. It shows great political impartiality on the part of Senator Keeffe because the chairman of the rugby organisation responsible is a Mr McAuliffe who will be a Labor Senate candidate in the coming Senate election. It shows great political impartiality on the part of Senator Keeffe that he is prepared to raise this matter. I therefore strongly approve the action of Senator Keeffe. Even if it damages the chances of a Labor candidate he is prepared to put up a fight for ordinary individuals to see a film of the test match.
I believe that this legislation is a good move to promote the Australian film industry. I hope it will be carried further. I congratulate Senator McClelland because over the years he has definitely put up a fight for the Australian industry. I commend him and I hope that his efforts will be successful.
– The Bill we are discussing is a little different from the measures which have been before the Senate in recent days. It may be thought not to have the same degree of involvement with our national growth and development as other matters which have occupied the Senate in the last few days. Nevertheless, I want to submit to the Senate for its thinking that in addition to the matters of programme content and entertainment, and indeed of control and representation which have been raised by speech and interjection this afternoon, the measures which this Bill intends to implement are related very much to our development and community life. For that reason, I submit that the Bill has a degree of importance which the average Australian citizen may not at first reading properly appreciate.
The title of the Bill refers to the proposal to establish a corporation for the purpose of encouraging the making of Australian cinematograph and television films, and encouraging the distribution of such films within and outside Australia. Clause 4 refers to what is described as significant Australian content. Having those two factors side by side, I suggest that this measure is a little different from those we have been discussing recently, lt is a measure which is involved within our community life and national development. It therefore assumes a particular value and in this context I introduce my remarks this afternoon by referring to the interim report of the Film Committee of the Australian Council for the Arts. I draw attention to the significance of the fact that within the Australian Council for the Arts, which is a particularly significant council in the Australian community, there is a Film Committee.
The Film Committee, in its interim report, has drawn attention to the fact that, in its view, it is in the interests of this nation to encourage its local film and television industry so as to increase the quantity and improve the quality of local material in our cinemas and on our television screens. Our cinemas and our television screens are involved in our community and in our national development. They also have an intimate relationship in the development of family life, community life and personal life in a period of Australian history which is changing and which is particularly significant both at home and in our relations abroad. The interim report of the Film Committee also pointed out that cinema and television are, in its view, amongst the most powerful forces in influencing our national character. I suggest that, in the context of this debate, our national character is one of the most important facets in Australia’s current development economically, socially, culturally and internationally. It has to be underlined in this afternoon’s discussions that cinema and television are ingredients of very great importance in this national character. The report goes on to say that relatively little of our dramatic television and virtually none of our feature films screened in our cinemas are of local origin. The report continues:
Our audiences are subjected to the ever increasing sociological influence of imported material and our writers, actors and film makers are unable to fulfil their creative potential.
I am bound to acknowledge that no words are wasted in this segment of the Committee’s report. 1 draw attention to the fact that our audiences are subjected to the ever increasing sociological influence of imported material and our writers, actors and film makers are unable to fulfil their creative potential. It is worthwhile to observe, in passing, that the writers, actors and film makers who are referred to specifically in this report are not the only people concerned for from these groups of people flow a large number of industries, a large number of groups and a large number of personalities who, in a variety of ways, are involved in and contribute to our economy and to our community life.
The matter of a film industry is not just a vehicle, as I. inferred a moment ago, for actors, actresses, directors, camera technicians, writers, producers, artists or others from a wide variety of accomplished people. The matter of a film industry involves the complete life and environment of our community and of our people. The word ‘environment’ is one that is very much overworked these days. Nevertheless, it is one in which we, as people involved in public life, are involved to a very intimate degree. The film industry is at once involved with the people whom I have mentioned as well as with the world of entertainment, the world of education and more particularly - and this is a facet which interests me especially - the world of communications. I should like to take this matter a little further. The film industry is also involved in the world of information. It is intimately concerned with the world of conversation. It contributes ingredients to the social habits of our people and gives a reflection of ourselves as we see ourselves at present as well as a reflection of ourselves as we might well be. In considering the provisions of the Bill we should appreciate that there is a relationship between the pattern of population growth in our community and the trend in housing and other accommodation, the proximity to each other in which people live, the areas in which they live, the areas in which they work and the occupations which they follow. In Australia today we have a population somewhere in the vicinity of 12.5 million people. The general assumption is that by the end of the century this figure will more than double. About 100,000 immigrants per annum will have an effect not only on the numbers but also on the content of population. When I talk about the numbers and the content, i also refer to an increasing diversity in tastes, needs, requirements, occupations, leisure pursuits and any of the measures of discipline and appreciation which a population of the kind that is developing in Australia can have.
The Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics has predicted that in the next decade our population will be 15 million. We talk more frequently about what the population will be by the end of the century. We should look at an area of time in which we, as people who live here and who are likely to be involved, will live. We should look at the next decade. It is expected that Australia will have a population of 15 million people. With the developments in immigration, with the developments in diversity of occupation and with the developments in the educational sphere, there will be a widening sphere of requirements, a widening diversity of appreciation and a widening diversity of needs as far as the total film world is concerned. When I talk about the total film world, I talk about the world of entertainment, the world of communication and the world of leisure. lt has to be recognised in practical terms that a continually increasing audience has to be taken into account. A ticket-buying audience has to be taken into account. This is essential if the clauses of the Bill are to be taken adequately, profitably, suitably and practically into account. There is more in the development of the film industry than talking about mere numbers of people, lt is important to be concerned with the kind of things in which the people are interested. It is important to know, at least at some level, where these people live and what these people do. In spite of our reputation as a community of the great outdoors, we are one of the most highly urbanised countries in the world. About three-fifths of our population live in the capital cities. As most people know, the geographical areas of the capital cities represent less than one-thousandth of the land area of Australia. Over two-thirds of our population live in cities and provincial towns.
It is important to note, as we concern ourselves with the leisure and cultural activities of our people, that during the decade of the 1960s - through which we have all lived and with which we have all been intimately concerned - the cities have absorbed most of Australia’s growth. Especially in the concentrated areas of population, the influence of industrial development and the influence of employment have an effect on such a thing as a film industry and the uses to which such an industry may be put. More than twice as many people are employed in manufacturing as are employed in primary industry. I submit to the Senate that all this plus the factors to which 1 have referred in the last few minutes has an influence on taste, activity, leisure and on attitude not only to entertainment but to a sphere which we sometimes describe as ‘adult education’. lt is against that kind of background which I have spelt out in very general detail that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and the Minister for Supply (Senator Anderson) have spoken abour the establishment of an Australian Film Development Corporation. I lake the liberty of referring to one or two passages of the Minister’s second reading speech. Reference is made to the establishment of an Australian Film Development Corporation with an initial capital of Sim. The Corporation will make loans to film and television producers. The Minister said:
The Corporation will seek to encourage he production of films which are box office successes and which have those excellencies of production, camera work, and technical presentation which justify the description ‘high quality’. lt is interesting to note and pertinent to observe the degree of perfection which is stressed in the second reading speech. Indeed, any facet of Australian life which deals with perfection is not only to be encouraged but is to be required. The Minister continued:
The fund is intended for investment in films, lt is nol intended as a giveaway project.
I think it is important to make the observation, and to do so with emphasis, that the fund is not intended as a giveaway project. After all. public money is involved in an area in which the general community has every reason and every right to expect that the returns will not only reflect perfection in production but also efficiency in results. The Minister further observed: lt indicates our optimism that such investment will be successful in all ways, but it is nol intended as a vehicle for underwriting the full cost of a film or films.
The Minister, speaking in this place, said:
We believe that after a period nf time, properlymade investments will be returning profits (o Hie Corporation and there will be no need for the Government to replenish the fund each year. That is our objective, and the measure of the scheme’s success will be judged partly on (his.
In another context reference is made to people who are involved in a project of this kind. Attention is drawn to the fact that many Australian people who have had this kind of involvement and experience all too often have had to leave Australia and pursue their chosen careers abroad. 1 make no apology for this. Any one of us, whatever our chosen career or ambition or involvement may move from Australia to take advantage of experience or opportunity which ex isis in the rest of the world. We return lo our own homes and, as far as we possibly can. apply that experience. The Prime Minister, and the Minister for Supply speaking here, drew attention to (his fact and expressed the hope that these people will return home and employ the talents which they have acquired as a result of their experience abroad. 1 return to the interim report of the film committee of the Australian Council for the Arts which I mentioned earlier in my speech, lt refers to the situation as it exists today and states: . . this situation hampers Australia’s efforts to interpret itself to the rest of the world- 1 emphasise this -
While we actively encourage exports in other fields, we leave the economic and public relations potential of an indigenous film and TV programme industry untapped. It is left to British and American companies to visit us and make features and series revolving around such exotica as Cobb & Co. and Ned Kelly, a situation made all the more incongruous when one considers that Australia is acknowledged by film historians to have produced he, world’s first feature film.
Maybe somebody during the course of this debate will draw out the details - with which I imagine a good many senators are familiar - that Australia has the credit of having produced the world’s first feature film. As the report says, it is incongruous with the situation in which we find ourselves existing today. This means that the measure which is before us is all the more to be applauded. I suggest that Australia needs today to have a higher output of films of all kinds and this involves both experience on the one hand and continuity of employment on the other. As we survey this matter of output on films and the benefits that are likely to flow from a measure of this kind, we need to remember that a balance is required of feature films, art films - films, perhaps, not of box office potential - and experimental films. We need to see the value of film production as it is related to every segment of Australian development and Australian life, not only in the sphere of entertainment but also in the sphere of production, exports, overseas relations - our total life. We need to see the value of film production in relation of all of these and the various benefits that flow from them.
Throughout the world today there is a widely accepted philosophy of treating the film industry - the cinema, as I prefer to call it - as a form of art; not only an entertainment, not only an ingredient in our social round in the community for a week, a fortnight or a year, but more specifically as an art form. When I talk about an art form I am moving into an area with which I am not particularly familiar but which, because of my involvement, like all other honourable senators I come to appreciate as a direct ingredient in the total development of a people’s life and a community’s outreach and a community’s relations within itself. So the cinema or the film industry is to be looked upon in my view more and more as a form of art; and as a form of art, I suggest with respect, probably it is comparatively new to Australia.
I refer to a publication which has been distributed by the British Information Services. It contains quite a substantial segment under the heading ‘Promotion of the arts in Britain’. This chapter deals with a wide range of subjects. I think it is important, and I note with great deal of interest, that a significant sector is devoted to films. It is interesting to note the figures but, more particularly, it is interesting to note the activities of the film industry, not only in terms of numbers of films, not only in terms of attendances, not only in terms of income and not only in terms of economics, but also in terms of its contribution to the general activity of the British community. The article refers to the British Film Institute, the National Film Archives and the National Film Theatre. This may not say very much about the artistic segment of a film industry but the significance lies in an extended reference to films in a publication entitled ‘Promotion of the arts in Britain’. Therefore the film industry takes its place very realistically in the development of the artistic world. Consequently this Bill and all it entails has an involvement in the world of the arts as far as Australia is concerned. The world of the arts cannot be studied here because it involves so much that reflects creative disciplines but any film industry established in the Australian community and involving governmental interests, governmental endorsement and public money must have ingredients in it that take people beyond themselves to stimulate the senses that are critical and to stimulate the senses that are appreciative and that provide enjoyment.
Having made those few points, I suggest that there are other factors related to this Bill which are important to Australia as a nation. Firstly, 1 refer to the use of the film as a means of projecting overseas the Australian image, Australian life and Australian development. The observation that we in this country are surrounded by a tremendous host of people is not without significance. For example, Indonesia has in the vicinity of 110 million people, the Philippines has about 34 million people and Malaysia has about 30 million people, ‘so we have around us something that can be described as an audience.
I believe that it is in our interests that those people should be given not only an accurate account of Australian life but also a continuously maintained view of Australia, the Australian people and, most importantly, Australia’s intentions. In the world of mass media the film of the cinema and the film of television can and will be a most useful and most powerful force in building up what I will call an Asian awareness of Australia. The advent of television in Asia on a scale equal to that in Australia and elsewhere provides not only a ready market but also a more than ready audience. This involves the promotion of the features of Australian life with which we are familiar, but also I would like to think that this measure will extend the promotion to the business world as well as to the world of marketing.
Having observed that one of the important features of this Bill is the use of the film industry in improving Australia’s relations with ils neighbours. I believe that it is also important to observe that we need to interpret Australia to ils own people. We are a strange community in many ways. At times we are fiercely nationalistic. On the other hand, we seem to have a national habit of denigrating ourselves on occasions either in a deliberate way or in a satirical or humorous way. But. be that as it may, because of our strong patriotic love of Australian life and its features we need to have an image of ourselves projected to ourselves. I do not suppose thai we have any greater need than other people in this respect. But, human nature being what it is. we need to be constantly interpreted to ourselves, and a film industry such as the Bill envisages will do that for us.
Sir James Darling, a former Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Commission, when speaking to the Vincent Committee on the Encouragement of Australian productions for Television, to which many references have been made and will continue to be made, said that the development of her Asian neighbours gave Australia an important opportunity to present an adequate and comprehensive image not only of herself to her Asian neighbours but also of herself to herself. Having referred to that in general terms, I think it is fair enough that I should lake a moment to refer to the fact that we should present the Australian way of life to ourselves in specific detail. This involves revealing not. only our social programme but also the use of our leisure time as well as creating the kind of social and political awareness that has been created through television programmes and moulding public opinion and interest. Whether or not the opinions concerning Australia, as put out by a film industry, are correct is of lesser importance. What is of major importance is that we recognise that cinema and television have a very significant impact.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - 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.
– I will only be about a minute, but I feel what I have to say should bc said. I would say, as one who has not participated in the luncheon today, that we have seen the Senate reduced to a farce and brought into ridicule. T say this because we agreed sometime ago to extend the sitting hours of the Senate to avoid late night sittings, which we all deplore, and to stop the accumulation of Bills towards the end of a session. 1 think that was a laudable thing that we did as a Senate. But what do we see? We see the Opposition manoeuvring motions lo frustrate the business of the Senate.
– That is not right.
– All right. I have great respect for you personally. J consider your motion, Senator Bishop, is an important motion but I do not consider it is an urgent motion. I put it to Senator Bishop in all temperance: Why did it not take precedence over other motions, which I consider innocuous, of urgency and importance that you have moved over the last 10 weeks?
– O, save us!
– Just wait a minute, Senator, because I think you may be surprised by what I am about to say. We agreed to sit on Friday to try to get through the business of the Parliament before the end of the session. It was an honest endeavour on your part and our part to try to get this done. But what happened? We take the whole of the morning of a Friday to deal with a matter of importance but not a matter of urgency.
– That is not correct.
– I believe it is not a matter of urgency, and I am prepared to test this. I hope I have provoked you sufficiently so that you will answer me when I sit down.
– I think you ought to sit down now.
– I put it to you that if the Opposition is quite serious-
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! The honourable senator will direct his remarks to the Chair.
– I beg your pardon, Sir. I will now do so. I put it to you, Sir, that if the Opposition is serious, why is it not prepared to debate the Bills that are before the Senate? Is it running away by using the forms of the Senate to curtail the debates of these important measures that are before us? If honourable senators provoke me I will quote the titles of the 34 Bills that are on the notice paper.
– Why do you not do so?
– I have no wish to do so but I will if you provoke me. I wonder whether the Opposition is using delaying tactics so that it can say at the end of the session - and I will guarantee it will do this - that it did not have sufficient time to debate these matters, when in fact it was its calculated action to delay the debate on these issues. Having said that-
– Go back and check on the endorsement in your own State.
– All right. I am not worrying about endorsement.
– That is right, and I know why you are not.
– It is no concern of mine because I am not even a candidate for endorsement. Would honourable senators please bear with me because I think what I have to say might be of interest to them. The Opposition and the Government - does that please you? - are entirely wrong if they vote to adjourn the Senate now.
– You speak for yourself.
– I am. Who do you think I am speaking for?
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! The honourable senator should direct his remarks to the Chair; otherwise he will be in a lot of trouble.
- Mr Deputy President, I think the Opposition and the Government are entirely wrong if they vote to adjourn the Senate now. If we condone the actions of the Opposition- when I say we’ I mean the Government- we do so at our own risk. Surely the Opposition’s job is to put the Government on the defensive. That is its sole function. I put it to the Senate that the Opposition acted quite correctly. But if we play into the Opposition’s hands and adjourn now we will have allowed the Opposition to achieve the objective which it set this morning. I appeal to honourable senators on the Government side of the chamber to show their sincerity by opposing the motion for the adjournment of the Senate. I believe that the Senate should sit tonight in order to deal with some of the business which is before it.
If honourable senators opposite do not agree with the proposal to sit tonight they can go home because I assure them that as long as there are 20 senators present - there are 20 on this side - the Senate can deal with the legislation which is before it. If honourable senators on this side of the chamber are serious about the responsibility they have of governing the country they should vote against the motion for the adjournment of the Senate and get on with the business of governing, which is the purpose for which we are here. Through you, Mr Deputy President, I say to Senator Devitt in a temperate way that today’s sitting has been a waste of time and an exercise in political expediency. I shall oppose the motion for the adjournment of the Senate. Would any honourable senator on either side of the chamber who disagrees with me please stand up now and say so. All honourable senators who are serious - - I stress the word ‘serious’ - about the business of the Senate should either stand up and say that they are not in favour of what I have said or vote in support of me.
– I shall be brief in my remarks, Mr Deputy President. I intend to speak only about the urgency motion to which Senator Branson referred. He said that the Opposition had delayed the business of the Senate in raising the matter of urgency which was debated earlier today. In addition, he said that he did not consider that the issue which was raised was important.
– 1 said that it was important but that it was not urgent.
– Senator Branson is entitled to his own view and we are entitled to our own. The Opposition believes, and the 8,000 employees of the aircraft industry in Australia believe, that this matter is of great importance. If the Opposition considers an issue is of great importance it is entitled to discuss it. An opportunity for such a discussion arose early today. The workers in the industry want better working conditions. This is an important matter which is deserving of consideration too. but the real issue is the future of the aircraft industry in Australia. The Opposition offers no apologies for having taken time today to discuss this issue. If Senator Branson had been in the chamber-
– I was.
– As Senator Branson was present, I am sure that he will agree wilh me that a lot of good will come out of the discussion of this matter of great importance. I believe that the other mailer raided by Senator Branson might be better handled by Senator Willesee. However, I believe that the Opposition had every right to initiate the debate on the aircraft industry this morning. My colleagues and I have seen men in the industry out of work. We know that lots of skilled men are doing work which they should not bc doing. The jobs they are doing are fiddling jobs.
– Do not start debating it again.
– I will not. All I am saying is that these men are doing little jobs to keep the place going when they should be doing skilled work.
Senator BRANSON (Western Australia) - I wish to make a personal explanation, Mr Deputy President.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - Does the honourable senator claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. 1 did not say that the urgency motion which was moved on behalf of the Opposition was in relation to a matter which was not important. 1 said that the issue was important but not urgent.
Senator POYSER (Victoria) 14.9] - I rise in this debate to refute what was said by Senator Branson in relation to the urgency motion which was moved on behalf of the Opposition. The Senate will recall that some weeks ago the Minister for Supply (Senator Anderson), who is the Leader of the Government in the Senate, made a statement in relation to the aircraft industry. In consultation with Senator Bishop, I approached the Leader of the Government and asked him to allow the statement to be debated. He gave an undertaking to me personally that he would allow at least 30 minutes in the next week of the sitting for this statement to be debated.
– Thirty minutes!
– At least 30 minutes. I looked with great interest to the notice paper of the Senate to see where the statement appeared in order of priority. 1 fo:md that it was so far down the list that it would not be possible for a debate to proceed on this very important issue. We of the Opposition found ourselves in this situation: An undertaking had been given to me by the Leader of the Government that thin statement would be debated. Senator Bishop secured the adjournment of that debate and we accepted that situation. We did not go on with the debate on that day simply because I. had this arrangement with the Leader of the Government. I admit that I am not Leader of the Opposition but I accepted with sincerity that at least 30 minutes would be allowed for this very important discussion. This matter has since become urgent and was urgent today because of subsequent statements relating to the aircraft, industry which indicated that Australia was opting out of an agreement. We had hoped that the agreement with the United Kingdom would help to put the industry in this country back on its feet. Statements were made not only by the Minister for Defence (Mr Malcolm Fraser) but also by the Minister for Supply (Senator Anderson) making it quite apparent that this industry is to be sold down the drain, despite the fact that people associated with the industry believe that the Royal Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force may be interested iti. this project.
I want to make this point very firmly: An undertaking was given to me at the table that this matter would be debated in the week following the statement by the Minister.
– That matter is not the matter before the Senate at the moment. We are discussing the motion relating to the adjournment of the Senate.
– Senator Branson said that we raised a matter that was not urgent. We thought it was urgent when that statement originally was made. However, in order to permit the business of the Senate to proceed I made an arrangement which would have allowed the matter to be debated.
– What a lot of rot.
– Of course this is a lot of rot in the eyes of Senator Gair simply because he agrees with the Government in relation to these matters. I want to make a further point. We have been accused by Senator Branson of delaying the procedures of this chamber.
I want him to check the Hansard record of recent days to see how many times the Opposition has permitted the incorporation of second reading speeches on a number of Bills. It would have taken a great deal of time to read those speeches. We facilitated the procedures of the chamber. We did this in relation to 7 Bills that were presented today. It would have taken at least an hour to read one second reading speech. We have done these things so that important matters may be debated in this chamber. In the first 5 weeks of the sittings the Government could find us no business at all. The Government brought 3 pot-boilers before the Senate. It took the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin) 7 weeks to bring her own Bill before us after it had been passed by the House of Representatives. This afternoon Senator Branson stood up and adopted a holier than thou attitude about an important matter which we put before the Senate earlier today. We were supported by the Democratic Labor Party and had the numbers to have that motion resolved. Senator Branson did this only because there is to be a Senate election at the end of this year. Let us cut out this nonsense.
– We helped you and now you turn on us.
– I am not turning on anybody. I stand on my own feet. The man I accuse of delaying the Senate is Senator Branson who stood up and adopted this pious attitude because he thinks he might get some headlines in the Press about holding up the business of the Senate. I am prepared to stay here. Are you? Of course Senator Branson is prepared to stay because he lives here.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! The Senate will come to order. I urge the honourable senator to use temperate language and to address his remarks to the Chair.
– I regret that you consider my remarks to be intemperate. In the trade union movement they would have thought that I was very temperate. The remarks made by Senator Branson are the greatest rubbish that I have heard since I have been in this place. I remind the Senate that Senator Branson has not entered into many debates in this place. What he has said is a lot of pious nonsense. We of the Opposition have facilitated the business of the Senate as best we could, but the Opposition will not at any time withdraw from a debate in this place if it believes that a matter of urgency should be raised.
– I support the motion for the adjournment. We came here to deal with a programme for this week and the Australian Labor Party decided to take up the time that we had expected to spend on regular and orderly business by moving a motion to enable a discussion of a matter of urgency. I know that a matter of urgency can always be found. What is urgent becomes a matter of definition. I cannot help thinking that of the various matters of urgency that we have debated - I was going to say endured - during this session, the main urgency has been to secure political points. This might have been a great misjudgment in many cases, but while the Standing Orders permit this sort of evaluation of a matter of urgency we will have to endure them. I have commitments in Western Australia - I do not know whether Senator Branson has - but I am prepared to come back next week, the following week and the week after that if necessary. 1 believe that the business of the Senate should be conducted in an orderly fashion and in a manner which will enable honourable senators to arrange their business in a proper way. I support the motion for the adjournment.
– 1 shall be very brief. If we take Senator Branson’s argument to its logical conclusion it would mean that the Opposition would be inhibited, to say the least, in using what has been a clear part of the Standing Orders for many years. The honourable senator does not think that the matter debuted this morning was urgent but we thought that it was urgent. Because of the political state that we are going through we on the executive of the Australian Labor Party are becoming inundated with various sections of the community wanting to have their matters put before the Parliament. We saw an instance of this last week while debating a Bill and we saw it again this week in the debate on another Bill. I refer to the National Health Bill and the Homes Savings Grant Bill, both of which were handled by the Minister for Housing (Senator Dame Annabelle Rankin). In those debates we had the experience of various sections coming up very late in the piece and putting different matters before the Opposition as to the way in which the matters should be handled by the Parliament. The fact is that the Australian Labor Party has rejected many of these. We have culled them very carefully and have raised only those we considered to be urgent. We considered this matter as urgent. By an arrangement with the Leader of the Government (Senator Anderson) at our suggestion we did nol debate this matter for the full 3 hours but cut the debate off under 2 hours. We believed that a short sharp discussion would contribute to making our point.
I do not think anybody can be serious in saying that the Opposition has been trying to hold up the business of the Senate. The very fact that we are sitting here on a Friday at this hour is evidence of that. As a matter of fact, while I was sitting here listening to the Bills being discussed this afternoon it seemed to me that members of the Government were unnecessarily raising matters. But I concede that if they want to deal with legislation at length that is their right. 1 understand that at this stage of a session people can get frustrated. But after all, what is a parliament for? Is it not to enable us to talk?
If we accede to what Senator Branson says today we shall, as an Opposition, be giving a lot to the Government and giving away our right to initiate business. I do not think any responsible person wants a parliamentary opposition to do that. If we did that, Australia would fall into the category of those other countries of the world, which people like Senator Branson frequently criticise, in which there are no oppositions. We cull these matters out, and if we think they are urgent we raise them. We think the matter we raised this morning was urgent. As Senator Prowse said, it is a matter of opinion. I do not think that anybody can say that we have not co-operated with the Government to get legislation through and to consider Government business. But the Opposition should be allowed to initiate what business we consider urgent.
– I wish to say only that this is a place in which differences of opinion are most appropriate. The Senate has agreed to extended hours of sitting to accommodate the heavy load of legislation. lt it most desirable that we proceed in an orderly fashion according to arrangements. The Government supports the motion for the adjournment and I would ask the Senate to consider it in that sense.
– I seek leave to give notice of a motion concerning the new and permanent parliament house.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bull) - There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I give notice that on the next day of sitting I shall move:
Believing thai he decision as to the site of the new and permanent Parliament House is and remains the responsibility of those members of the Senate and the House of Representatives who constitute the Parliament of the Commonwealth.
Recommends that a joint sitting of the two Houses or other form of general conference be convened lo express, by resolution, the point of view of the assembled members of the Parliament as between Capital Hill and the Camp Hill area;
Recommends further for the consideration of the House of Representatives -
Invites members of the House of Representatives to join with senators in the Senate chamber or such other place as may be determined by Mr President and Mr Speaker for the purpose of the joint meeting;
And further invites the House of Representatives to suggest any alternative to or modification ofthe Senate’s proposal, with a view to the convening of a joint meeting of members of the Senate and the House of Representatives to determine finally the question where the new and permanent parliament house be situated.
Mr Deputy President, may I add;
– On a point of order, I indicate that leave was given to give notice of a motion. No leave was given to speak.
– I have given notice of a motion. If we are dealing with the motion for the adjournment of the Senate and if Senator Wright is finished, may I speak to that motion?
– Not to the motion of which notice has been given. Please do not abuse your leave.
– I will not abuse the leave. But I want to speak on the matter, not on its merits. I will not speak on the motion in respect of which leave was granted, if someone else wants to speak. But I will rise to speak on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate, if no-one else wants to speak.
– You will never again be given leave by me.
– I am not concerned about that. ‘ will not speak to the merits of the motion. All I shall do is indicate this much: What I did a moment ago was to put a matter as an individual, not on behalf of the Opposition. Honourable senators will recall that this chamber–
– That is all we want to hear.
– If you will restrain yourself–
– We gave you leave.
– Will you restrain yourself?
– You are abusing it.
– You restrain yourself. I want to indicate to honourable senators that this is something which is done by us as individuals, and what I have done was done in an individual capacity, not as Leader of the Opposition. Action has been taken in the other House. I do not want to enter into the merits of the matter, but I indicate to honourable senators that this is a matter with which any senator can deal and, so far as I understand, it would be dealt with on the same basis as it was dealt with previously, that is, on the basis that we all act in our individual capacities as senators.
That the Senate do now adjourn.
The Senate divided. (The Deputy President - Senator Bull)
Majority . . . . 30
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 4.33 p.m. till Tuesday, 9 June, at 1.45 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 5 June 1970, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1970/19700605_senate_27_s44/>.