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Tuesday, 7 March 1961


Mr SPEAKER - I have to report that the House this day attended His Excellency the Administrator in the Senate chamber, when His Excellency was pleased to make a Speech to both Houses of the Parliament. The Speech will be included in " Hansard " for record purposes.

The Speech read as follows: -

The Parliament has assembled to proceed with the nation's business and to work to promote the best interests of the Australian people. My address to honorable senators and members to-day follows closely upon the death of the Viscount Dunrossil I am sure we all recall the genuine and universal sorrow expressed by Australians from all walks of life at the loss to the Crown and to this Commonwealth of a man who brought to his great office a notable dignity, a personal charm and a quality of mind which won our loyalty, our love and our deep respect.

We have just entered the tenth year of the reign of Her Majesty the Queen, a year in which we and all freedom-loving people hope that the great nations will make progress towards establishing more peaceful conditions throughout the world and towards the settlement of now unresolved differences. My Government will continue to try to promote steps towards universal disarmament under proper safeguards and in appropriate stages.

The Prime Ministers of the Commonwealth will meet in London this week. The dramatic movement towards independence for many people in the Commonwealth makes this meeting of the highest importance.

The policies of the new administration in the United States of America will have a profound influence throughout the democratic world, and ray advisers are in close touch with the United States Government. Our Prime Minister has already had the benefit of discussions with the President, Mr. Kennedy, and with the Secretary of State, Mr. Dean Rusk.

The problems of the people of Asia continue to be of great concern to my advisers, and they will maintain their efforts through the Colombo Plan and in other ways to promote friendship and understanding with them. My Government will continue to play its part in the South East Asia Treaty Organization and will support all efforts that promise to bring peace and stability to Laos.

My advisers will maintain the close relations now existing with several African states and in particular with the members of the Commonwealth of Nations, and will readily make a contribution towards the United Nations effort in Africa. They hope that during this year the United Nations will be able to take steps which eventually will lead to the building of a modern state in the Congo. The Government will co-operate with other members of the Commonwealth in a special plan to assist the economic development of Commonwealth countries in Africa. Our contribution will take t he form of bilateral technical assistance, the value of which will rise to £200,000 a year.

My Government will continue to work with the South Pacific Commission in promoting the social and economic advancement of the peoples of that area.

Under the current three-year defence programme, the re-organization and re-equipping of our forces continues in accordance with my Government's long-standing objective of having highly trained and well-equipped forces available in an emergency. Units of the Australian Navy, Army and Air Force continue to serve in the British Commonwealth Strategic Reserve - an arrangement in which the Government of the Federation of Malaya concurs.

This year we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Royal Australian Navy. During the year two anti-submarine frigates will be completed under the naval construction programme. My Government has approved the acquisition of six coastal minesweepers and the construction of a new specialized survey ship in Australia. It has also decided that H.M.A.S. "Melbourne" will be equipped as a helicopter carrier when fixed wing Naval aviation ceases in mid-1963. Other aspects of the Naval programme are under consideration.

The Minister for Defence has announced the selection of the Mirage III aircraft as the future replacement of the Avon Sabre fighter aircraft of the Royal Australian Air Force. My advisers propose that the airframe and engines will be manufactured to a substantial extent in Australia. la the development of equipment to meet requirements of the Australian services we are receiving valuable co-operation from the United Kingdom and the United States. In spite of abandonment of the development of Blue Streak as a military weapon, the Long Range Weapons Establishment continues to have a heavy programme of weapon trials, and with United States aid is developing facilities for the observation of satellites and space vehicles.

In the economic sphere, it remains the firm aim of the Government to maintain soundly based national expansion, immigration and full employment.

Honorable senators and members will recall thai last year the Government adopted a series of measures designed to restore a better balance between supply and demand in the economy and to give greater stability to costs and prices. My advisers believe that those measures are having their intended effect. There is evidence that the pressures of excessive demand are beginning to abate and my advisers are confident that the action i hey have taken will be successful in setting the economy on a course of steady growth and progress.

My advisers have the state of the economy continuously under review and will take prompt steps to correct any untoward tendencies that might become manifest.

As has already been announced, the Government examined the impact of its economic measures on the motor and allied industries and decided that the sales tax on motor vehicles should be reduced to the rates payable on 15th November, 1960. Parliament will be asked to approve amending legislation with effect from 22nd February, 1961. in pursuance of the policy objectives announced last year, my advisers will introduce legislation to incorporate in the income tax law continuing provisions relating to the deductibility of interest as a business expense. This legislation will replace the interim measure enacted last year which applies only to the present year of income. My advisers will also inform the Parliament of the action they propose in relation to investment by life insurance companies and superannuation and provident funds in public authority securities.

The attainment of our national objective of expansion must go hand in hand with an expansion of our export trade. Positive steps are being taken to improve Australia's external trading position.

In particular, it will be the aim of the Government during these coming months to obtain the co-operation of the States and of industry in a major effort to develop export capacity. My advisers wish to ensure that, subject to the need to continue the measures now being taken to combat inflation and to arrest the drain on our overseas reserves, important new facilities will be available to assist production for export. It is the intention that the whole programme of national development should be given a marked orientation towards the expansion of export production.

Further measures will also be taken abroad to increase export income, both from our traditional exports of primary commodities and from the sale of manufactured goods. The Government will continue to assist in trade promotion and in the negotiation of trade and commodity arrangements. It will devote attention to both new and existing markets and will strengthen the Trade Commissioner Service, not only in established overseas markets, but also in new areas, such as the Middle East and South America, where trade prospects exist. My advisers will give further encouragement and support to the tourist industry from which important exchange earnings are expected.

My advisers have also been considering taxation measures as a means of increasing exports. Legislation is to be introduced to amend the Export Payments Insurance Corporation Act to empower the Corporation to give cover to certain transactions which are at present outside the scope of its authority, but which the Government may consider should be covered in the national interest.

The Government continues to follow closely the movement towards closer economic integration in Western Europe, including in particular the implications of such a move for Commonwealth trading relations. The attitude of my advisers has been, and will continue to be, based upon Australia's trade and other interests.

My advisers have taken an early opportunity to arrange with the new New Zealand administration for close and frequent consultation in trade matters. In conformity with its policy of developing close and friendly ties with countries in South East Asia, the Government has, over the past twelve months, renewed its trade understanding with Ceylon, and its trade agreement with Indonesia. The trade agreement with the Federation of Malaya is due for review later this year.

My advisers will continue their efforts to encourage industry to promote greater efficiency, and are pleased at the degree to which productivity groups are being formed in particular areas and branches of industry. Australia continues to have few industrial disputes and the record during 1960, although less satisfactory than during the three preceding years, was nevertheless better than in any other year since the critical early war years.

The development of Australia's mineral resources is of high importance, both as an earner of foreign exchange and as a stimulus to the development of isolated areas. My advisers are continuing to encourage mineral development, including in particular the search for oil. My Government believes that the modification of the control over the export of iron ore should promote exploration and discovery of new sources and lead to increased reserves of iron ore for future use in the domestic steel industry. It will produce a useful addition to export income.

There is a continuing expansion in the petroleum refining industry and in associated plantsfor the production of petro-chemicals. More than one hundred million pounds is being invested in work in progress or planned for completion in the next few years. f understand that total rural production in 1960-61 is expected to be a record, although wool production at sixteen hundred million pounds will be a little below the record of the previous year. In response to a request from all Australian wool growing organizations, the Government has appointed an independent committee to enquire into our wool marketing methods. A record wheat crop of two hundred and thirty-six million bushels has been delivered and sales of wheat overseas are highly satisfactory. However, adverse seasonal conditions abroad are partly responsible for this and the long-term problem of wheat marketing overseas remains.

There is an attractive market overseas for meat, and for beef in particular, and efforts are being made to stimulate production to take advantage of the marketing opportunities. My advisers have appointed a committee of inquiry which is investigating the sugar and fruit industries and their relationship to each other.

In the Territory of Papua and New Guinea elections will take place shortly to the reconstituted and enlarged Legislative Council. Native Papuans will then for the first time choose representatives on the Council, from their own people. New Departments of Labour, and Trade and Industry have been established in the Papua and New Guinea Administration demonstrating the increasing emphasis being given by my Government to training for employment and to the encouragement of industrial development, marketing and trade promotion.

In the Northern Territory my Government will introduce a scheme to assist pastoralists and agriculturists in the development and improvement of water supplies on their properties. Also within the Northern Territory, research into cattle disease and the most suitable fodders is continuing. In Nauru, particular attention is being paid to the vocational training of Nauruans.

Work on the Snowy Mountains scheme continues to be ahead of schedule and the Upper Tumut development is close to completion. Future activities will be directed primarily to the southern sector in the Snowy-Murray development.

My advisers inform me that the construction programme at the Atomic Energy Commission's Research Establishment will soon be completed and we look forward to fruitful and beneficial results for the concentration on research work which will then be possible.

As foreshadowed in the Governor-General's Speech to Parliament in March, 1960, my Attorney-General has been examining the possibility of Commonwealth legislation to protect free enterprise against the development of tendencies to monopolies and restrictive practices in commerce and industry. The AttorneyGeneral has so far progressed in his investigation of this matter, and the Government has developed its thinking to the stage that consultation with the States will now be advantageous. Accordingly, the Government has commenced discussions with the governments of the States, and will continue these discussions in an endeavour to evolve suitable legislation to operate over the whole area of trade and commerce in Australia.

My Attorney-General will re-introduce a bill to replace the law relating to marriage and associated questions on a uniform basis throughout Australia. Considerable progress has been made, in co-operation with the State governments, towards drafting a model uniform companies bill. The Commonwealth and the States are discussing a possible uniform law of adoption. The report of the committee appointed by my Government to consider the law of copyright will be presented to the Parliament and will be made available for public discussion before decisions are taken about legislation. Also, after opportunity has been given for public discussion, my Government will bring down a bill to amend the Patents Act so as to make long-range provision as to the time for publication of complete specifications lodged in support of applications.

A bill to establish the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory by statute rather than by ordinance will be introduced at an early date, and the Parliament will be asked to consider a bill to amend the Electoral Act.

My Government has decided to seek an amendment to the Customs Tariff (Industries Preservation) Act to provide better safeguards against dumping of goods on the Australian market at unfair prices.

My advisers keep the whole structure of social services under review. The revised means test for age, invalid and widows' pensions is now in operation.

The importance of immigration in Australia's development is recognized by my Government and it will proceed with its vigorous programme.

My Government has initiated discussions with the States about arrangements to be made when the current housing agreement with the States expires in June next. I am advised that more than 90,000 dwellings were completed in Australia during 1959-60.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization continues to make important contributions to the solution of many national problems and a considerable part of the organization's resources is devoted to problems associated with the development of Northern Australia. The recruitment of scientific man-power presents difficulties.

Acting on the advice of the Australian Universities Commission, my Government is proceeding with a three-year programme of Commonwealth and State aid to universities from 1961 to 1963 involving expenditure of the order of £100,000,000. The Universities Commission is now examining the most desirable pattern of development for tertiary education. My advisers have increased the number of new Commonwealth university scholarships offered each year from 3,000 to 4,000.

My advisers are co-operating in a review of the present state of knowledge of the life, culture and history of the Australian aborigine. A conference sponsored by the Social Sciences Research Council will meet shortly to take the first steps in this direction.

Further recognition of Australia's standing in international aviation is given by the decision of the International Air Transport Association to hold its annual general meeting in Sydney in October next. Australia's own international airline, Qantas, has carried an increasing share of the record air traffic to and from Australia.

The building programme in Australian shipbuilding yards is being supported by my Government's subsidy on the construction of ships and my Government has itself contracted to purchase three lighthouse supply vessels. Within the next twelve months, the conversion to standard gauge on the Melbourne-Albury railway and the erection of a special explosives pier in Corio Bay should be completed.

Australia is co-operating with the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand in the construction of a submarine telephone cable to link Canada with Australia and New Zealand. Arrangements are in hand for the extension of national and commercial television services to thirteen provincial and country areas in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania.

The Post Office is faced with a heavy and continuing demand for its services and is proceeding with a number of major projects designed to increase the efficiency of our postal, telephone and telegraph communications. The telegraph service has now been mechanized to a large extent in all States.

My Government has considered the recommendations of the committee appointed to examine the basis on which the commercial accounts of the Post Office should be prepared. A revised form of Post Office commercial accounts for the year 1959-60 will be presented to the Parliament shortly.

I spoke earlier of the need to develop quickly this country's capacity to export. National development has always been a major objective, and indeed an achievement of my advisers. As a further contribution to national growth and the development of exports, the Government is considering some important specific development proposals, and will co-operate with the States concerned in detailed planning so that, as circumstances allow, actual construction may proceed without delay. The projects under particular and sympathetic consideration are road development in the north; improved port and loading facilities to assist the coal export trade; standardization of important railways in South Australia and Western Australia; and proposals to stimulate the search for oil and minerals generally.

I now leave you to discharge your high and important duties, in the hope that your deliberations and determinations will enjoy the guidance of Divine Providence.







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