Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 17 May 1972
Page: 2690


Mr BARNES (McPherson) - The purpose of the Supply Bill (No. I) 1972-73 is to appropriate moneys to cover Government expenditure during the first 5 months of the 1972-73 financial year. It covers a large area of departmental expenditure, including expenditure by the defence Services. An amount of $30m is sought for advances by way of a loan to the Australian Wool Commission. There is also a provision for SI Om for capital expenditure by Qantas Airways Ltd. 1 wish to stress the importance of the provision of an advance to the Australian Wool Commission and comment on the adverse attitude of large sections of the Australian Press to any assistance given to the wool industry.

The attitude of a large section of the Press in the cities is quite difficult to understand. I think the usual phrase used by this section of the Press is that the Australian taxpayer is supporting the wool grower. This is plain nonsense. I admit that it looked as though some funds would have to be provided to tide the wool growers over an extremely difficult situation, but what has happened? The policy of the Commonwealth Government in giving support to the proposal for a guaranteed price of 36c a lb for wool has brought confidence back to the industry in Australia and an appreciation overseas of what a very fine fibre wool is. There is no substitute for it. The world has at last seen that wool is a valuable product. That has not cost the taxpayer lc. Average wool prices have provided good returns recently. I think the average price of the wool sold at the Goulburn sales today was 41.8c a lb. The setting up of the Australian Wool Commission was a magnificent gesture on the part of the Government to restore confidence to this great industry. Nevertheless the metropolitan Press seems determined to misrepresent the situation. For some strange reason, I think it would like to see the wool industry collapse.


Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - Oh, no!


Mr BARNES - The honourable member for Griffith should use his influence in some of the city areas to change that situation. One of the consequences of a collapse of the wool industry would be the collapse of our country towns. A total of 85 per cent of the people of Australia today are living within 25 miles of the sea. If an industry such as the woo) industry were to collapse it would be the end of our country towns and we would have nearly the whole of our population living on the Australian seaboard. Australia has lived off the wool industry right from its beginning. The wool industry has supported Australia's secondary industry. Up to the end of the First World War the Australian wool grower received the top world price for his product and he was then able to buy his station requirements at the cheapest prices in the world. But Australia's population was growing. In a statesman-like attitude the government of the day decided that secondary industry had to bc fostered in Australia in order to provide a wide range of jobs for the increasing population. Australia's first big companies were Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd and H. V. Mackay, which manufactured farm machinery. Obviously those infant industries had to be given some sort of protection from overseas competition. So the Tariff Board system of protecting Australian industry was developed.

It should not be forgotten that secondary industry has been a great advantage to primary industry also. There are some sections of primary industry that are misguided enough to say that it has cost them dearly, but that is not so. The wool growers may have a point in this respect, but most of the other primary industries have benefited from the large increase in our population that has been made possible only because of the growth of secondary industry in Australia. An increase of 5 million or 6 million in our population has been due to the development of secondary industry in Australia and for this we can bc thankful. When one takes into consideration that Australia's annual per capita consumption of beef is 90 lb, of butter 22 lb, of mutton 40 lb and of cheese 6 lb one can see that every increase of 1 million in the population of Australia makes a tremendous difference to the income of the primary producers. After all our local markets are the best. We do not have to take what the rest of the world has to offer. It does not matter at what price we endeavour to sell our primary products in such places as the European Economic Community because we have little prospect of doing so.

I wish to deal now with the subject of Qantas Airways Ltd, which is another great Australian enterprise. It was started in far western Queensland. Qantas was originally a mail service between Longreach and Charleville. It expanded to the stage where at one time it was one of the world's greatest overseas airways. Unfortunately, as the result of some irresponsible industrial action by its pilots a few years ago-

Opposition members - Oh!


Mr BARNES - Opposition members may laugh at what 1 say but Qantas has never recovered from the irresponsible action of its pilots a few years ago. Those people are now screaming because, due to a recession in civil aviation. Qantas cannot take on any new pilots. The pilots brought that on themselves by their irresponsible action. Unfortunately the whole community will have to pay for their actions.

A lot is said by honourable members on the other side of the House about unemployment. Look at what is happening in Queensland. A new coal industry is being established in that State. It involves a vast open cut mine. There have been all sorts of strikes and demarcation issues in that industry. The development of such an industry would bring with it a new town and the service industries that go wilh it. Unfortunately its development has been stagnated because of industrial action. Despite that one hears cries from the other side of the chamber abo.it unemployment. Of course, if people are not prepared to do a decent day's work there will be unemployment. One does not advance a country with industrial irresponsibility and lawlessness. One has only to look at what has happened in other countries. Germany and Japan have recovered from the war by hard work. They are the leading countries in the world today. We have to make up our minds whether we are going to do a decent day's work.

Another matter I would like to discuss is defence. I do not think many Australians realise the importance of the security of the Indian Ocean to us. The Indian Ocean has been free of any hostile or prospective enemy action. At the present moment 46 per cent or nearly one-half of Australia's total global trade goes into or through the Indian Ocean and that trade is growing. I have the figures in this respect for the 1969-70 financial year. The statistics which are available so far for 1970-71 already show an increase of 22 million tons in

Australia's exports to South Africa alone. This is not generally known. South Africa is a country that the Opposition likes to forget. Of Australia's total global trade, 39 per cent is carried across the Indian Ocean. This is our trade with the Middle East, South Africa, the rest of Africa and Europe, It is even more important to remember that 55 per cent of our total global trade is with either South Africa or Europe and is carried across the Indian Ocean. In other words, 35 per cent of our global trade either goes to or has to pass the Cape of Good Hope. I think Australians must realise that this is an important area to Australia. We want to keep this area free so that we can carry on our trade. We hope for peace in our time, but we have to be prepared for war. We have to prepare so that we will be able to protect this trade which goes across the Indian Ocean.

There is only one naval base in the Indian Ocean available to the countries of the Western world and that is the base at Simonstown in South Africa. Until we build the base at Cockburn Sound, for which I have no doubt provision is being made in the Bill we are considering, Simonstown will be the only base open to the fleets of the Western world. We know that the Soviet Union has an arrangement and is using the island of Socotra at the southern end of the Red Sea to carry out naval repair work and so on. Undoubtedly, some of the countries in northern Africa will make naval bases available to the Soviet Union which is interested in the area. China is building a railway from Tanzania across to Zambia. We have to take notice of these things. As I have said, Simonstown is the only naval base in that area.

We hear a lot of propaganda from die Opposition and from the Press denigrating South Africa which is governed by a white race. The white race did not overrun the indigenous race in South Africa. The Bantu came from the north about 200 years ago, just about the same time as the Dutch came up from the Cape of Good Hope, and they met at the Fish River 125 years ago. So there were 2 groups coming to South Africa, and both of the groups were in the same situation. It was not a case of the white robbing the black of his area or the black taking away an area from the white. The black Africans have a sense of nationalism. Why should not white South Africans have a sense of nationalism and want to keep their identity too? The present problem in South Africa is a South African problem, and I do not think that we should enter into the matter and criticise South Africa for what it is doing. We should thank our ancestors for their wisdom in preserving our identity here in Australia. We do not have the frightful problem which confronts South Africa. But I think that we have to remember that the only country of some substance of Western civilisation in the Southern Hemisphere is South Africa. We need friends in the Southern Hemisphere, and we have to take a kinder view in relation to the problems confronting South Africa than we are taking at the present time. With those few remarks I conclude my speech.







Suggest corrections