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Thursday, 30 June 1949


Mr DUTHIE (Wilmot) .- It is amazing that the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Hamilton), who represents part of a State upon the shores of which it is proposed to establish the whaling industry, should oppose this bill. I should not be surprised if his opposition costs him many votes. I do not care who organizes or runs an Australian whaling industry, provided it is begun as soon as possible. Private enterprise has had an opportunity for many years to get into the industry, but has done nothing. If the Government does not make a start now, it will be too late. The industry will be captured by other countries, which will send their ships down into the waters south of Australia. Therefore, the matter is urgent. The Government has not acted hastily. Captain Melsom, a Norwegian, has been in Australia investigating the matter for the last eighteen months, and it was largely on his advice that the Government decided to engage in the whaling industry. I congratulate the honorable member for Franklin (Mr.

Falkinder) upon his speech. He and I and other representatives of Tasmania have been pressing the Government for a decision on this matter for eighteen months or more, and we have frequently raised the subject on the floor of the House. We had hoped that it would have been possible to engage in pelagic whaling based on Hobart, but the cost of a factory ship would be so great that the idea had to be dropped. It was first hoped to get a ship from Norway, but this could not he done. Inquiries were also made in Japan for the outright purchase of a ship, but no suitable vessel was available. Whaling can be carried on in two ways. We could send a factory ship down into the Antarctic, together with chasers which would capture the whales. The blubber could then be treated on the factory ship. The second method is to operate from a shore base, the chasers bringing their catches back to the base for treatment. It appears that we shall have to be content with the second method. It is proposed to establish one base at Twofold Bay, in New South Wales, and another in Western Australia at a point not yet decided upon. The Government is justified in embarking on this enterprise for four reasons which I shall outline. The first is that no serious attempt has been made by private enterprise to exploit the industry. The second is that the economic advantages which may be expected to flow from the industry are very important. The honorable member for Franklin outlined some of them, and pointed out that, in addition to oil, fertilizers and other commodities could be produced. It is important that the industry should be established in Australia while the present high price of oil, more than £100 a ton, is maintained. The third reason why we should embark on the industry without delay is that otherwise the trade will be captured by other countries. The fourth reason is that this enterprise is in keeping with the Government's programme of decentralization, and its plans to spread population and industry as widely as possible. The honorable member for Swan has criticized this proposal as another example of the Government's attempt to socialize an industry. Such, criticism was only to be expected from the honorable member. I challenge the statement made by the honorable member that any member of this House has ever said - I think that he attributed the words to the Prime Minister (Mr. Chifley) - that the Labour Government intends to socialize everything in this country except ragshops and ice-cream carts. I invite the honorable gentleman to produce evidence that such a statement has ever been made by an honorable member on this side of the House. We have had so many of the Opposition's half-truths in recent months that we shall not allow such a statement to go unchallenged. Other honorable members have said that the Prime Minister has referred to communism in a certain way when they know that the words attributed to the right honorable gentleman were never used by him. It is not now, and it never will be, the policy of this Government to socialize all kinds of activities in the Commonwealth. The Constitution itself prevents the inauguration of a wholesale socialization programme. Government control of the postal, telegraph and telephone services and of other enterprises which have been under socialist control since 1901 has been subjected to attack by honorable members opposite. Now because private companies have failed to develop the whaling industry and the Government has been compelled to undertake its development, honorable members opposite would have the people believe that the Government is doing a dreadful thing. They may call it what they like. The fact remains that the industry must be developed and the sooner it is developed the sooner shall we be able to share in the world's market for whale oil. Details of arrangements to be made for processing the product of the industry have yet to be worked out. This Government and past governments have, within the limits of the Constitution, developed industries which private enterprise has neglected. This industry provides another example of the fact that progress is not possible without government aid. The honorable member for Franklin has given us some interesting facts relating to the whaling industry in Australia. Hore are a few additional sidelights which may be of interest to honorable members. For over a century Australia has been a centre of the whaling industry. The first whalersto operate off the Western Australian coast were French and American pirates.. They commenced operations early in 1800,. before the first white colony was founded on the west coast. In 1829 a group of enterprising settlers registered two companies, the Fremantle Whaling Company and the Perth Whaling Company, and commenced whaling operations off Bathers Bay and Carnac Island. After eight years of chasing whales all over the southern Indian Ocean, they made their first catch on the 9th June, 1837. In later years whaling stations were established at various points along the west coast, some being successful and others failing. It was ascertained that the best hunting grounds were at Point Cloates on the continental shelf. For the last fifteen years, however, the station established at Point Cloates has been idle and neglected. The ruins of the station are now all that remain. That station was used for only eleven seasons, between 1913 and 1934. The station was originally established by the Norwegian Bay Whaling Company. In order to show how profitable this industry has been in the past, I point out that in the first four seasons of operation hunters of the Norwegian Bay Whaling Company killed about 4,000 whales, valued at £650,000. The catch yielded about 130,000 casks of oil and 1,500 tons of fertilizer, the latter being a very important by-product of the industry. From 1925 to 1928 hunters in that area killed 3,445 whales valued at £562,296. At that time whale oil was valued at only £15 a ton. These figures show the large profits that may be derived from this industry. Professor W. J. Dakin. Professor of Zoology at the University of Sydney, writing in the magazine Walkabout of the 1st September, 1946, had this to say about the possibilities of whaling -

Some indication of the whale hunt will be gleaned from the following figures for 1037-38. In that short summer 44,152 whales were killed in the Antarctic. In addition, during 1937 (chiefly \n the winter) 3,242 humpbacks were killed off the coast of Western Australia (the biggest catch ever made there), 2!)8 humpbacks were taken off the Congo, 3,381 whales were taken off the South African coasts, 4.12(1 were caught: off Chile and Peru, and 1,887 were taken off South Georgia.

These figures show the devastating attacks made by the whale hunters. Dealing with the future of Antarctic whaling, Professor Dakin stated -

It is very questionable whether Antarctic whaling can be considered a probable goldmine, in the future, whatever it has been in the past. The cost of preparation is high even for countries where ships ure less costly *nd expenses more reasonable - any delay in starting off an expedition when the short dimmer season arrives would be disastrous. Furthermore, the number of Whales of reasonable size in the Antarctic have been so steadily reduced .that the future conditions remain somewhat problematical at the moment. On the other hand, a starving world has put up new demand for fats, and even for whale meat.

Although existing world conditions may provide a stimulus for the development of whaling in the Antarctic region, as Professor Dakin has pointed out, the future of Antarctic whaling is problematical because of the tremendous onslaught made on whales in that region, ft is obvious that two excellent whaling grounds in New South Wales and Western Australia are awaiting exploitation. Only very minor whaling operations have been carried out from either of those States during the last ten or twelve years, in the later years mainly because of the exigencies of the war. Robin Hutcheon, in an article on Australian whaling which was published in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 7th May last, had this to say in regard to whaling in Western Australia -

The whales start on their long trek from Antarctica as the Australian summer draws to an end, and make their first appearance off King George's Sound in May. During June and July the whales pass Point Cloates in an almost unending procession.

The whaling grounds off the coasts of New South Wales and Western Australia offer great opportunities for the development of the industry. I have been advised that not many facilities exist around the Tasmanian coast for the development of shore-based whaling. The greatest number of whales seems to appear off the coast of New South Wales and along the Western Australian coast during their trek from the south. I do not know whether or not the technical advice that I have obtained on that point is sound. As the honorable member for Franklin has said, Tasmania has had a remarkably long whaling history. Evidently deepsea whaling off the Tasmanian coast offers greater possibilities than do shorebased operations. We in Australia will have to be content with the industry in Western Australia and at Twofold Bay.

I congratulate the Minister and the Government upon having the enterprise, which is often regarded as being the monopoly of private individuals, to engage in this industry. The honorable member for Franklin has referred to some administrative features of the .proposals that he does not like. This undertaking will be of the same pattern as the Australian National Airlines Commission which has done a magnificent job despite tremendous opposition. If the Government's whaling enterprise operates as efficiently as its airlines enterprise it will be a great success. It is up to all members of the House to support this bill, because it will be a means of bringing great wealth to Australia.

Mr. ARCHIECAMERON (Barker) T3.371. - This is a bill that deserves s lot of consideration by the House. Like other honorable members, I compliment the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture (Mr. Pollard) upon bringing it down. However, neither the Minister nor honorable members opposite have told us exactly why it has been brought down, so my wicked imagination will have to be brought into play again. I admit freely that the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) is quite correct in his assertion that the bill has many features that are common to other measures. I refer, for instance, to the Aluminium Industry Act, which was passed by the Parliament several years ago. I would say that we are just as likely to get oil from this industry in the next five years as we are likely to get aluminium from the aluminium works in Tasman a, which are supposed to have been in operation now for about five years.


Mr Duthie - It is on the way.







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