Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 4 October 1983
Page: 1270


Mr CAMPBELL(5.08) —The right honourable member for Richmond (Mr Anthony) mentioned Australia's world credit rating. I had noticed that it had slipped from sixth to ninth position. Of course, that was a judgment made by the world banking authorities on the performance of the previous Government. Enough time simply has not elapsed to change that situation. Australia's credit rating has been affected internationally by the deeds of the previous Government. Let there be no mistake about that. One way in which Australia must look to increase trade is through an improvement in our industrial sales overseas. This is one area in which it is sad to say the Department of Trade has performed lamentably. The reason it has performed lamentably is that for many years it has been a fiefdom of the National Party. It has been looking to sell agricultural products , which Australia does very well, but it has totally ignored the efforts of other Australian industries. There are areas of industry in which Australia is not only competitive but also a world leader. I cite hard rock drilling equipment. Australia is today the leading country in hard rock drilling equipment technology. We make the best and most versatile equipment. That should have been promoted overseas much more by the Department of Trade. The Department 's performance in that regard has been lamentable and I certainly hope that it will improve.

Let us look at some of the other efforts of our manufacturing industry which the National Party is so quick to deride. I refer to National Springs Pty Ltd, which developed of its own accord, without help from the Department of Trade, industry and business in the Sudan. It supplied replacement springs to the Sudan , which was a very hard place with which to deal. Europe, because of its large number of ports and small ships had a very large advantage with regard to trading with the Sudan. But Australia went into that country and was able to carve out a section of that market. That market collapsed not through the inefficiency or the non-competitiveness of Australian industry, but simply because the Government of the Sudan ran into all sorts of foreign exchange problems.

Certainly the previous Government could have addressed itself to that problem. It could have given some form of aid to the Sudan as it has given aid to many other countries. It did not do so. That market has been lost and it may not be there when the economy of the Sudan improves. We must realise when talking about the Sudan, that it is a country which has the economic potential to produce more food than Canada and Australia combined. When the waters of the Nile are properly harnessed in the Sudan there will be an increase in productivity in that area. Australia should certainly be looking at that area in terms of future trading.

I turn to the situation which existed with regard to completely knocked-down vehicles under the previous Government. It allowed Mercedes-Benz vehicles to come into Australia without any attempt to out-source equipment. Many Australian suppliers can supply equipment for Mercedes-Benz trucks which are every bit as good as the equipment supplied by Mercedes-Benz and just as cheap. For instance, Volvo Australia Pty Ltd adopted a policy of out-sourcing in Australia. The Mercedes-Benz company, for its own reasons, has not done so. This issue was never taken up by the previous Government. I am hopeful that this issue will be looked at very closely by our Government.

I will also make a few comments with regard to the Department of Resources and Energy. I noticed in the Budget that there is an allocation of $1.4m for synroc. Last year there was an allocation for $1m, of which a mere $300,000 was spent. One could ask how the former Government, which purported to be the great proponent of uranium, could have allowed such a state of affairs to exist. I believe synroc is one of the greatest developments of this century. It is a development that offers the potential to lock up safely for posterity the harmful high level waste that is engendered by the atomic process. It is an Australian invention, one on which the performance of the previous Government has been lamentable. In fact, it has been laughable, as can be seen by the fact that a mere $300,000 of the allocated of $1m had been spent. The allocation this year has been substantially increased. I am sure we will see some rapid development of the synroc technology.

Synroc technology has ramifications for the entire world. It is absolutely essential-I do not think anyone would disagree that it is important-that toxic wastes be excluded from the biosphere. This Australian invention will do just that.

I think it was Karl Marx who remarked that religion was the opium of the people . Whilst I would not disagree, in Australia it is more likely to be sport. The sporting achievements of Australian people have been applauded and given massive recognition. But we often do not see the results of our scientists and researchers receiving the same sort of acclaim.

I want to put on record something about synroc, which is a process developed at the Australian National University by a team led by Professor Ringwood. Professor Ringwood was born in Melbourne in 1930 and attended Melbourne University, where he took his doctorate in philosophy in geochemistry. After a period as research fellow at Harvard he joined the Australian National University in 1958 and is now Director of the Research School of Earth Sciences at that university. This man is an earth scientist. Unlike many of the other so- called scientific people who speak on this subject, he is a man who is dealing intimately with it. He was elected to the Australian Academy of Science in 1966 and was Vice-President in 1971-72. He has also been elected Fellow of the Royal Society; Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences; a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union; Commonwealth and Foreign Member of the Geological Society of London; and Honorary Member of the All-Union Mineralogical Society of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

Among his many honours are the Matthew Flinders Lecture, Australian Academy of Science; the Bowie Medal, American Geophysical Union; the Britannica Australia Award for Science; the Arthur L. Day Medal, Geological Society of America; the Rosenstiel Award, American Association of Advanced Science; the William Smith Lecture, Geological Society of London; the Werner Medaille, German Mineralogical Society; the Vernadsky Lecture, USSR Academy of Sciences; Centenary Lecturer and Medallist, Chemical Society of London. He has received many other awards. I am talking about a man who has had published over 250 scientific papers dealing with his findings. He has dealt mainly with the composition and structure of the earth's interior, phase transformations at high pressures and temperatures, geochemistry and petrology. He is the author of a couple of books, Composition and Petrology of the Earth's Mantle and Origin of the Earth and Moon. This man who has chosen during the last few years to devote his immense talent to the problem of immobilising high level wastes has performed a function which is very valuable not only to Australia but to all nations of the world. I hope that this great Australian invention and the fruits of our scientists will not, as has happened to so many other great developments under the previous Government, be allowed to go to foreign countries.

In the few remaining minutes left to me I will elaborate on a few of the great inventions from this country which the previous Government allowed to go overseas. In 1963 we were offered a joint venture to manufacture the TSR2 aircraft. We were offered that on the basis that Australia would make a great contribution to the techniques and development of that aircraft. It was rejected by the previous Government for the shoddiest of political reasons. It opted to buy the F111 and everyone knows the sorry history of that aircraft. We have seen time and again in this country great Australian developments being commercialised overseas simple because the mentality of members of the previous Government was very much the mentality of a colony. They were colonists for their term in government and they have the mentality of the colonist even today.