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Thursday, 20 April 1961

Mr JONES (Newcastle) .- It is very interesting to listen this morning to the squeals of honorable members opposite. We have heard squeal after squeal from Government supporters, from those in the top ranks to those in the bottom. I challenge honorable members opposite who have yet to take part in this debate to deny the truth of the statements appearing in the advertisements in yesterday's Melbourne " Herald ". I challenge every one of the members of the Government to deny those statements. I will put the question to them specifically: Is the statement contained in this full-page advertisement inserted by the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures a lie? I hear not one interjection from the Government benches, and I challenge honorable members opposite to interject and say that this statement is a lie. Of course it is a fact, and they know it as well as I do. The advertisement commences -

If your job, your business or your income has been affected by the credit squeeze and the lifting of import controls, read this open letter to the Federal Government.

Do Government supporters deny the truth of the statements contained in the section of the advertisement headed, " Here are the up-to-date employment facts "? It reads -

Compared with 30th November, 1960, No. of persons employed in factories in Victoria has fallen by the following percentages in the last few weeks--

Are these statements lies?

Mr SPEAKER -Order! I think the honorable member should restrain himself a little and avoid the use of unparliamentary language.

Mr JONES - I ask whether these statements are untrue, as they appear in the advertisement -

Week ended 17th March, '61-5.1%

Week ended 24th March, '61-5.9%

Week ended 31st March, '61-6.8%

Week ended 7th April, '61-7.7%.

Mr Reynolds - These are unemployment figures?

Mr JONES - Yes. These are the uptodate figures with regard to unemployment in Victoria. Certainly honorable members opposite are squealing, but I remind the House that they thought it was great fun some years ago when the bank nationalization issue was being discussed and all the chambers of manufactures in the Commonwealth, and the various other reactionary bodies, criticized and attacked the Labour Government. When the bank officers campaigned against the Labour Government's move, and when the banks themselves financed the Liberal Party's campaign against the nationalization of banking, honorable members who now sit opposite thought it was great fun. When they are now on the receiving end of the criticism by the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures, what is their cry? The chamber is telling untruths! It is distorting the facts! It is divided!

The real facts are these: Members of the Government, from the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) down, object to the truth being told by this organization. The members of the Chamber of Manufactures are the people who should know just what is taking place as a result of the Government's economic policies. They are the people who know, from practical experience, that their turnover has been reduced, that they are not selling as great a volume of goods as they previously did. They know what effect the credit squeeze is having on them, and this advertisement is obviously an expression of lack of confidence in this Government and its policies by those who are in a position to know what the situation is.

If the Government is so confident that what it is doing is right, why does it not go to the people as early as possible and find out what the people think of it, by holding an election? It has a right to do so. It can go to the people to-morrow if it wants to. It can take the necessary action to-day to dissolve this Parliament, and then it can go to the people and find out what the people have to say about its policies. But the Government is not prepared to do this, and its members will sit here and ride out the storm as long as they can.

The matter I particularly wished to deal with this morning is one that affects my electorate. I must express my opinion once again that the Government has railed to do anything about a problem that is causing a considerable amount of inconvenience and damage to persons and property on the east coast of Australia. I refer to the pollution of our beaches and our ports by crude oil which is deliberately dumped at sea by vessels using the shipping lanes along our coasts. The Government is still making no effort to bring those responsible into line. I am pleased to see the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman) at the table while I am making these statements. In 1954 an international agreement was arrived at, and certain proposals were submitted to the various countries with a view to preventing the pollution of the sea by oil. It was not until 13th May, 1960, that we saw fit to enact legislation for the ultimate ratification of that agreement. I believe that even now two States, Tasmania and South Australia, have not passed the necessary legislation to enable the Commonwealth Government to ratify the agreement.

Mr Opperman - Do not blame us for that.

Mr JONES - I am not blaming you. All I say is that you, as Minister, after the bill had been passed through this House on 13th May last year, should have made some definite proposals to the two States I have mentioned, to induce them to enact the necessary legislation as early as possible. The pollution is still taking place on quite an extensive scale. I have before me some cuttings from newspapers published in my electorate. I shall read a portion of one of them, which contains statements by a spokesman for the Maritime Services Board. This article appeared in the Newcastle " Morning Herald " on 24th January, 1961, and it reads in part -

The oil, in emulsified form like chunks of black putty, has become embedded in the sand, principally at Newcastle and Bar Beach.

An officer of the board said yesterday that specimens had been collected and examined. Their condition seemed to indicate that the oil had been in the water for some time . . .

The spokesman said that the board was seriously concerned about oil pollution over the past few months, which was the worst experienced on the beaches.

Unfortunately, there might be a tendency for the situation to occur more often because of the increase in the number of oil-burning ships. " Previously, only a proportion of ships used oil, but there has been a general conversion to the fuel ", he said. "There are also great difficulties in finding the source of oil pollution out to sea. A southerly current sweeps along the east coast at a rate of 36 to 96 miles a day. " The oil found on Newcastle beaches may have originally been discharged 500 miles away, off Queensland. Nor does it follow that the oil found on the beaches was discharged recently "

The article goes on further to speak of damage to bathing costumes, towels and clothing, and says that oil is getting into people's hair. All the promenades adjacent to the beaches are being stained with the oil and the tarry substance which has collected. The Government should do something more definite about this matter than it has done to date. Some concrete proposals should be advanced and some definite action should be taken against the people responsible for this pollution.

The spokesman for the Maritime Services Board was quite mild in his comments. I believe that the pollution is being caused by the bulk carriers of crude oil because most of the damage is being caused by crude oil that has been brought to the refineries that have been established on the east coast. The oil tankers carrying this crude oil discbarge their cargoes in Sydney or Melbourne and on the return journey clean out their tanks without having any regard to the damage that they cause to sea life, beaches and so on. They dump the oil residue and waste substances over the side and that is what is causing the damage along the coast. As the spokesman for the Maritime Services Board pointed out, the oil could have been dumped 500 miles away from where it finally hits the beach. I ask the Minister whether there should not be some observation by aircraft.

Mr Opperman - Do you mean to tell me that you would have aircraft 500 miles out to sea?

Mr JONES - I did not say anything about having aircraft 500 miles out to sea. If you would only open your ears instead of having them clogged up-

Mr SPEAKER - Order!

Mr JONES - I did not say anything about ships dumping waste matter 500 miles out to sea. I said it could have been dumped 500 miles up the coast. If the Minister had been listening he would have heard what I said. It could have been dumped 500 miles up the Queensland coast and the southerly rip has brought it southward and deposited it on the beaches. Aircraft fly over the sea lanes. They could detect the oil and see whether any tanker is in the vicinity. It would then only be a matter of laying the blame on the ship concerned. I have discussed this matter with people outside and they have all assured me that the Martime Services Board and shipping authorities would be aware of the locality of the vessels.

Some definite action has to be taken. If the countries which have not ratified the convention do not do so in the immediate future, we must consider the possibility of refusing them permission to use Australian ports.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The honorable member's time has expired.

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