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metric Conversion Act - Meteric Conversion Board - Report, together with report by Minister on operation of Act - Year - 1970-71 (1st)

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1971-Parliamentary Paper No. 260



Presented pursuant to Statute 2 December 1971 Ordered to be printed 9 December 1971



Printed by Authority by the G overnment Printer of the Commonwealth of Australia


Pursuant to sub-section ( 4.) of Section 24 of the Metric Conversion Act 1970-1971, I present the first report of the Metric Conversion Board for the period from the appointment of the Board in June 1970 to 30 June 1971 and I wish to make the following report.

The Metric Conversion Act 1970 was given the Royal Assent on 12 June 1970. In accordance with the Act a Chairman and Board were appointed by the Governor-General on 1 July 1970. The Board was first convened on 4 July 1970 and has met regularly since that time .

The Board has been furnished with offices and facilities to enable it to undertake the tasks which have been placed upon it and suitable staff are being recruited. In accordance with the powers given to the Minister under Section 7 of the Act, my predecessor instructed the Board to plan, guide and facilitate the conversion to the sole use of the metric system of weights and measures with the aim that this should be substantially com­ plete by the end of 1979. He also instructed the Board to seek full and detailed consultation with all interested parties to prepare an overall co­ ordinated programme for conversion, to review any attempt to take unfair advantage of the public in the course of conversion and to advise on the

need for any legislation necessary to give effect to conversion. · Excellent progress has been made in the initial planning for the con­ version. An extensive structure of advisory committees and sector com­ mittees has been established to ex amine all aspects of the conversion which are of interest to the community. By this means a wide cross section of

people, representing the many and diverse interests of the community, has been brought actively into the conversion programme and wide support is now being given to the programme.

Tentative programmes for conversion have been prepared by the par­ ticular industry groups. Planning is well advanced in such fields as engineer­ ing, building and construction, sporting, and governmental fields such as weights and measures, freight rates, meteorological data and public utilities.

As a result conversion programmes may be expected to commence in the near future though in many areas they will take several years to complete. Broadly, 1971 has been the period of planning and co-ordination for all the main areas in both public and private activity ; 1972 is seen as a year of increasing public awareness and involvement, 1973-74-75 as the years of major implementation ; while by 1976 it is expected that 70 per cent to 80 per cent of the nation's activity will have been converted to the

metric system. The Act provides for the making of Regulations necessary to give effect to the Act. At this early stage in the overall programme there has been no necessity to make any such Regulations.

8 3



Mr J . D. Norgard, B.E., F .S.A.S.M. (Met.)


Mr A. F. A. Harper, M.Sc., F.Inst.P., F.A.I.P.


Mr C. R. Bunning, C.B.E., B.C.E. Mr J . 0. G. Glastonbury, B.A ., M.Sc., B.Ed., M.A.C.E. Mr G. M. Hastie, O.B.E., F.L.C.M. Sir Albert Jennings, F.A.I.B., F.A.I.M.

Mr F. J . McAvoy, C.B.E. Mr D. L. McBride Dame Mabel Miller, D.B.E., LL.B. Mr N. N. Robertson, C.B.E., F.A.I.M. Mr W. I. Stewart, B.Sc. , B.Sc.Econ. Mr J. H. Watson, LL.B. Mr A. J . Woods, B.Ec. , Barrister-at-Law, A.A.S.A., A.C.I.S.


The Honourable Malcolm Fraser, Minister for Education and Science, Parliament House, Canberra. A.C.T.


Metdc Conversion Board

In accordance with the provisions of sub-sections ( 2) and ( 3) of Section 24 of the Metric Conversion Act 1970 I have the honour to furnish to you for presentation to the Parliament the First Report of the Metric Conversion Board.

This Report covers the operations of the Board during the year ended 30 June 1971.


Yours faithfully,

J.D. NORGARD Chairman





2. THE BACKGROUND TO METRIC CONVERSION 2.1 Weights and Measures in Australia. 5

2.2 The Senate Select Committee on the Metric System of Weights and Measures 6


4. THE METRIC CONVERSION BOARD 4.1 Formation of Board 7

4. 2 Functions and Activities 8

4. 3 Secretariat . 9

4.4 Meetings and Attendances 10



6. 2 Education . 11

6.3 Primary Industry. 14

6. 4 Consumer Goods . 1 6

6. 5 E ngineering Industry 20

6 . 6 Building and Construction 23

6. 7 Industrial Materials 25

6. 8 Science and Technology 27

6 . 9 Transport and Communications 31

6.10 Fuel and Power . 34

6 . 11 Land and Surveying 35

6 . 12 Health 36

6.13 Recreation . 36

6. 14 Public Services 37

6 . I 5 Service Industries . 38

6 . 16 Public Education . 38

7. METRIC UNITS OF MEASUREMENT 7 . 1 The International System of Units . 40

7. 2 Commonwealth Legal Units . 41

7. 3 Units Recommended for Use. 41

ANNEXURE- Organisation of Metric Conversion Board and its Committees



This being the first annual report of the Metric Conversion Board, the background to the decision taken by the Government that Australia should convert to the metric system has been explained at some length. In succeeding chapters an outline of the Commonwealth's legislation

on weights and measures has been given and the recommendations of the Senate Select Committee on the Metric system of Weights and Measures have been summarised. These recommendations form the basis of the Metric Conversion

Board's planning the change and the action taken to implement them through the establishment of Advisory and Sector Committees and the formulation of conversion programmes in all relevant spheres of activity within the Australian community have been described.

An endeavour has been made to portray the extent of the impact which conversion to the metric system will have on key aspects of industrial technology, education, science, public utilities and goods and services.

2. THE BACKGROUND TO METRIC CONVERSION 2.1 Weights and Measures in Australia The history and development of legislation covering weights and measures in Australia largely reflects the demands of technology for the provision of legal units of measurement for an ever-widening range of physical quantities and for the corresponding standards of measurement

to be maintained to greater and greater accuracy. Before Federation, the States controlled the units of measurement used in trade. Compared with the present-day situation they were relatively simple and involved only mass, length, volume and area. The units and

standards specified were the so-called 'imperial units' and in most cases metric units could not be used . Matching the conditions at that time, there were no legally defined units for many other quantities such as density, pressure, electrical voltage and temperature.

Although the Federal Constitution provided for the Commonwealth Parliament to make laws in respect of weights and measures, that power was not exercised until 1948. In that year, the new Weights and Measures (National Standards) Act provided '. for the establishment and use throughout Australia of uniform units of measurements, and uniform standards of measurement, of physical quantities '

One effect of the Act was to prevail over the power of the States to specify particular units for particular purposes. In 1960, because the Commonwealth felt that the States should be able to exercise certain of these powers, the 1948 Act was repealed and replaced by an Act which

allowed the States to legislate in certain areas without conflicting with the Commonwealth legislation.



The need for a more extensive and accurate system of weights and measures had been seen as far back as 1940 when the Commonwealth established the National Standards Laboratory under the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. In the demands of wartime

and the increasing technological complexity of the postwar era this Laboratory has played a vital role in the development and control of measurement standards. The weights and measures legislation later introduced by the Common­ wealth validated many of the diverse standards maintained by the Laboratory.

Units prescribed in the Commonwealth's Weights and Measures (National Standards) Regulations have a much wider application than those covered by previous State legislation. Significantly, the Commonwealth legislation includes a full range of

metric units as well as the imperial units in common use. The legislation defines the imperial units used in Australia directly in terms of metric units which are identical with the internationally defined metric units. Thus, Australian weights and measures are already closely related to the metric system by definition.

Earlier State legislation did not allow the use of metric units in trade, but the Commonwealth legislation made this possible. The States legislated for permissible use of metric units in pharmaceuticals in 1963 and by 1967 they were permissible for general trading activities in most States.

Against this background-the provision of more accurate and diverse standards of weights and measurement, the trend towards uniformity throughout the Commonwealth, and the fact that our weights and measures legislation includes units which are in accord with the accepted units in

the vast majority of other countries-Australia is in a favourable position to change to the use of metric units, as has already been done in many cases.

2.2 The Senate Select Committee on the Metric System of Weights and Measures In April 1967 a Senate Select Committee was appointed to inquire into the metric system of weights and measures. Between then and May 1968 the Committee, under the chairmanship of Senator K. A. Laught, heard evidence in all capital cities from 141 witnesses and written submissions from 54 persons or organisations. -

The Committee reported unanimous agreement that is was practicable and desirable for Australia to adopt the metric system of weights and measures at an early date. The Committee found that:

Evidence from a wide segment of the community overwhelmingly supported an early change to the sole use of the metric system and indicated that there would be no insuperable difficulties.


About 90 per cent of the world's population already use metric measurements and this use is increasing. About 75 per cent of world trade is carried out in metric terms. Some 70 per cent of Australia's export trade is to countries using or

converting to metric weights and measures. This proportion will increase as Australia's trade with Japan and South East Asian countries grows. A metric system would improve the teaching of mathematics and

science, reduce errors and save time. It would provide an opportunity to improve industrial and manufac­ turing efficiency by rationalising existing practices and reducing un­ necessary varieties in sizes and components.

Introduction of a metric system was widely regarded as a natural con­ sequence of Australia's earlier conversion to decimal currency. The full advantages of decimal currency would not be experienced until decimal weights and measures were also used. The Senate Select Committee recommended establishment of a Board to plan, guide and facilitate the change and that the system to be adopted should be predominantly the International System of Units ((SI), the system

recommended by the International Bureau of Weights and Measures .. The Committee stressed that adequate opportunity should be given to all sections of the community that would be affected to plan for the change.

3. THE METRIC CONVERSION ACT 1970 The Metric Conversion Act 1970 was assented to on 12 June 1970 and states as its object-Section 5-to bring about progressively the use of the metric system of measurement in Australia as the sole system of measurement of

physical quantities. -

The Act provides the Minister with powers on behalf of the Common­ wealth, to do such things, make such arrangements and enter into such agreements as he thinks conducive to the attainment of this objective and the Metric Conversion Board.

The Act extends to all the Territories of the Commonwealth except the Territory of Papua New Guinea.

4. THE METRIC CONVERSION BOARD 4.1 Formation of Board In most other countries that are presently converting to the metric system a Board has been appointed to give guidance regarding the change. Thus in the United Kingdom the Metrication Board was appointed in 1969, in South Africa a Metrication Advisory Board (1967) and in New Zealand

a Metric Advisory Board (1970). The Senate Select Committee on the Metric System of Weights and Measures recommended the appointment of


1049 0!72- 2


a Metric Conversion Board to be responsible to the Minister for the conduct of the conversion. Provision for this was made in the Metric Conversion Act and on 1 July 1970 a Board of thirteen members was appointed. The Board held its first meeting on 4 July 1970.

The Board comprises members who are experienced in many of the sectors for which conversion will be important. They are drawn from all States of the Commonwealth.

4 . 2 Functions and Activities The tone for the Board's operations was set at the first meeting of the Board when the Minister for Education and Science said that members should regard themselves not as representing sectional interests but as part of a national body concerned with the single concept of metric conversion. The

Board and Advisory and Sector Committees have operated with this attitude foremost in their deliberations. The Board's functions and powers have been delegated to it by the Minister for Education and Science. Its prime function is to help plan, gui de anc facilitate the nation's progressive conversion to metric weights and measures. Its powers include tendering advice on the need for leg islation

relating to metric conversion, making information available, and reporting to appropriate authorities any attempts to take unfair advantage of the public in the course of conversion. In indicating to the Board how it should approach its responsibilities the

Minister stated that he thought it not unreasonable to expect conversion to he at least 50 per cent completed by 1975 and he hoped the Board would agree with his view that there was an urgency about the change. The Government has made it clear that the metric change will be prodominantly a voluntary one, planned and implemented by those who will themselves be affected by it. Accordingly the Board's first major task has been to establish a committee structure to assist in the development and implementation of conversion programmes. To do this all the major activities

within the community likely to be affected by metric conversion have been identified and grouped so that each such activity will have a committee res­ ponsible for its metrication. Sector Committees, comprising nominees from appropriate organisations, national associations and institutes and Government departments, have been established to cover relatively coherent groups of activities. Where a specific

aspect of conversion requires detailed consideration a Panel may be appointed to report to one or more Sector Committees. Sector Committees, in their turn, report (usually through their chairmen) to Advisory Committees, of which there are eleven, each concerned with a broad area of activity, such as primary industry, education or engineering.

The Advisory Committees are each chaired by a Board Member and have the task of co-ordinating programmes and proposals for conversion before submitting these to the Board for consideration for inclusion in overall conversion plans.


By June 1971 all eleven Advisory Committees had been active for some time and some 80 Sector Committees had been established. In all more than 500 individual members, drawn from virtually all relevant business, profes­ sional, technical and government fields, had been appointed to Advisory and

Sector Committees, filling some 800 committee positions. The level of activity is such that by the end of June about 15 committee meetings were being held each week.

The Board has been most gratified at the enthusiastic and manner in which all its committees have been working and at the progress most of them have made. It wishes to record its appreciation and grateful thanks to the many individuals who have given so freely of their valuable time and knowledge. This surely well for the success of the whole


Apart from its major task of developing the committee network and assessing the wealth of information that began increasingly to flow fro m it during the year, the Board has set up offices in Sydney and Melbourne; pre­ pared a list of recommended metric units for use in Australia; assisted the

Standards Association of Australia prepare technical standards in metric terms; maintained and extended liaison with authorities in other countries where metric conversion is either under way or contemplated and prepared and issued a brochure in which is described the background to the change

and the proposed basis for its implementation.

4 . 3 Secretariat

The nucleus of a secretariat to provide technical and administrative assistance to the Board and its committees has been established. Recruitment has been limited by a staff ceiling imposed during the year.

Having regard to the extensive and often highly technical nature of the matters involved in metric conversion and the need for the Board to be able to provide information and advice to all those sectors of the community con­ cerned with the development and implementation of conversion programmes,

the Board has sought to staff its secretariat with senior and supporting officers who are technically or scientifically trained and of high calibre. The very rapid development of the Board's activities and their diverse and unusual nature have made heavy demands on all those so far appointed to the secretariat including the administrative group responsible for financial and

general services.

At 30 June 1971, the number of persons on the Board's staff, including personnel on loan from other Departments, was sixteen, of which six are engineers and scientists. It is expected that these numbers will increase sub­ stantially during 1971-72 as plans for conversion formulated during the first

year of operation are translated into programmes of action in various sectors.



4. 4 Meetings and Attendances

During the year the Board held ten meetings. The average attendance of the 13 members was 11.7. Six members were present at all meetings and the smallest attendance (due to the member's absence overseas) was 7 meetings. All the meetings were held in Sydney although it is proposed in the future to

hold meetings, from time to time, in other capital cities.

The Board's Advisory Committees held forty-eight meetings and the Sector Committees of the Advisory Committees held ninety-two meetings. These meetings were supplemented by a number of Panels meeting on an ad hoc basis to examine specific aspects of metrication. Individual Board

members attepded a great many committee meetings as Chairmen of Advisory Committees or participants in particular fields of inquiry.


The total expenditure by or on behalf of the Board up to 30 June 1971 was $266,860 made up as follows:

Salaries and payments in the nature of salaries Sitting and consultation fees and travelling allowances: Sitting Fees, Advisory Committee Members Consultation Fees, Board Members

Travelling Allowances

Administrative Expenditure: Office Services (rental of office premises, etc.) Office Requisites, Postage, Telephone, etc. . Incidental Expenses (alterations and additions to

rented premises, provision of furniture and fittings and expenses associated with Board and Committee meetings)


12,180 19,500 59,154

44,675 15,565





--- 110,633



Conversion is expected to proceed simultaneously throughout many different sectors of the community. Unlike the decim al currency change there will be no single starting or finishing date for the change, in fact for som e activities, such as for ph armaceuticals , the change has already been made .


Each sector is expected to develop the programme appropriate to its activities and circumstances, but in doing so account must be taken of related activities in other sectors. The structure of Sector and Advisory Committees established by the Board is intended to facilitate the develop­ ment of such programmes and their integration into an overall conversion


Australia is fortunate that to some extent the ground has been broken by the planning and implementation which has already occurred in coun­ tries such as the United Kingdom and South Africa in which planned metric conversion has already been proceeding for several years. In order to take advantage of experience in these countries and to gather other relevant information the Chairman and Executive Member of the Board made an overseas tour of investigation in August and September 1970.

The visit confirmed that the general plan for organisation and control of conversion envisaged by the Commonwealth Government was admirably suited for Australia and put the Board directly in touch with the latest thinking and experiences in countries which have recently converted (such

as Japan), are converting (such as United Kingdom, South Africa, South East African Community and New Zealand), have announced an inten­ tion to convert (Canada) or are examining the question (United States of America) .

The visits revealed that in countries or sectors where conversion was completed or well advanced benefits had quickly become apparent and problems had proved to be much less than had been anticipated.

In what follows those elements relevant to metric conversion are dis­ cussed under a number of headings which parallel the responsibilities of the Board's Advisory Committees. The constituent sectors within these areas are listed and the basis on which planning is proceeding is described.

6.2 Education

Conversion to the metric system implies that teaching in primary, secondary and tertiary educational establishments and in all other centres of education throughout the community will no longer be in terms of imperial units. New curricula, changed equipment and revised examinations

must be introduced so that the pupils emerging from these institutions are fully competent to work in a metric environment.

In making these changes it is expected that the inherent simplicity of the metric system will lead to considerable saving in teaching time and will help to unify the teaching of mathematics, science and the technical disciplines such as the various branches of engineering.

During the conversion period there will also be a need to provide adequate vocational training in the rise of metric units and to educate the public at large in their everyday use.



While experience in other countries has demonstrated that extensive training is not usually needed and can best be restricted to the aspects of conversion of immediate relevance to those involved, there will be few sectors of the community in which some assistance in this regard will not be

required. The Education and Industrial Training Advisory Committee is respon­ sible for facilitating and co-ordinating appropriate action in all areas of education and also for developing recommendations for efficient methods

of informal education for those not attending educational institutions, by way of adult educational activities and industrial training programmes. Because education instruction is a prerequisite to so much other activity in industry and commerce it is important that it be in the vanguard of the change having regard to the time delay of several years before most of those now undergoing formal education will be able to contribute their

training to professional and technical activities in the community. Early changes to curricula are needed and normal obsolescence (e.g. of text books) cannot be utilised. Optimum benefits will be achieved only if necessary changes in education are made prior to conversion in industry, which presupposes knowledge or assumptions regarding the conversion

programmes for industry; so a close liaison has been established between the Education and Industrial Training Advisory Committee and the Board's other Advisory Committees. To assist the Education and Industrial Training Advisory Committee in its investigations, seven Sector Committees, each covering a specific

area of education, have been established. The training of teachers to become familiar with metric units was one of the topics first investigated by these committees. Many teachers wilJ require little retraining, many will be able to retrain themselves, and for

those requiring a larger amount of training, intensive retraining programmes lasting no more than a few days are considered adequate.

Primary and Secondary Education

The use of the metric system is at present largely limited to science subjects in secondary schools. A non-scientifically oriented pupil can at present leave school with little knowledge of metric units.

The Metric Conversion Board has supported recommendations of the Primary and Secondary Education Sector Committees that the curricula in Australian primary schools become fully metric as soon as possible in 1973 and that a start in metric conversion be made in secondary schools as soon as possible and not later than 1973 with the aim that secondary

schools be solely metric by the commencement of the 1974 school year.

These Sector Committees (whose members include nominees of every State Education Department, the Department of Education and Science, the Conference of Headmasters of Independent Schools, the Catholic Education Office and the Australian Council for Educational Research)


have inquired jointly into the availability of textbooks and the production of metric educational aids. Detailed investigations have been made of the implications of · metric conversion in all curriculum areas.

Tertiary (University) and Tertiary (Non-University) Education Members of the Tertiary (University) Education Sector Committees. nominees of the Vice-Chancellor's Committee, have established a degree of contact with all Australian universities.

The Tertiary (Non-University) Education Sector Committee is concerned with all other tertiary institutions and accordingly members are drawn from Colleges of Advanced Education, Institutes of Technology and Teachers Training and Agricultural Colleges, each State having at

least one representative. Paramedical colleges which are also within ahe ambit of this committee are already largely metric. The results of surveys carried out by these committees have led to the conclusion that the greatest problems are expected in conversion of teaching of chemical, civil and mechanical engineering. However, no insurmountable problems have been identified and the committees are investigating the possibility of conversion programmes in which 1973 would be the year of greatest change.

Technical Education The responsibilities of the Technical Education Sector Committee (composed of nominees of each State's Director of Technical Education) extend beyond technical schools, which train apprentices, technicians and

technologists, to commercial correspondence and business schools. The desirability of immediately providing at least some basic knowledge of metric units in all these oourses is being stressed, in the hope that no pupils will complete their training from now on without some awareness of the metric units they will be using for most of their working lives .

Adult Education Metric education will be available to the public through the services of adult education centres. The Adult Education Sector Committee co ns ists of a number of adult educators, one or more from each State, and is

developing courses and teaching aids and methods, and testing the effective­ ness and suitability of these on sample populations. It is planned that specific adult education campaigns will be mounted as the need arises.

Industrial Training The magnitude and variety of the task of industrial training is such that each company will have its own unique training problems. Large companies may be expected to have the facilities and knowledge at hand

to conduct their own training schemes but smaller companies will probably need outside assistance. The Industrial Training Sector Committee, the members of which have a wide experience of in-service training procedures is planning the production of a general booklet to give gui dance to firms,



both small and large, on industrial trammg problems likely to be met during metric conversion. The committee hopes to work in close liaison with the training committees of the Department of Labour and National Service.

Future Plans Plans for metric conversion in education are well advanced, as they would need to be if the requirements of industry and commerce for both general and specialised knowledge of the metric system are to be met.

Implementation of these plans in the areas of formal education will be largely the responsibility of the bodies governing the relevant schools, universities, etc. The Board will have a greater part to play in the

implementation of plans for industrial training and public education.

6. 3 Primary Industry

The conversion of primary industry to the use of metric measurements is not expected to involve such extensive changes as for instance will be required in most sectors of secondary industry. The industry does however have many ramifications and these are reflected in the large number of sector committees which have been established to assist the Primary Industry

Advisory Committee in its task, which is concerned with primary pro­ ductions of vegetable and animal origin, including sea foods but not including forestry. This covers the interests of most persons living on the land and of many in the country towns .

Conversion will have impact in three broad areas : crop and animal husbandry within the farm or station property; primary preparation of produce for the market, e.g. classifying and baling wool, grading and packing horticultural produce for whole­ sale or delivery to a processing plant; and se condary processing for retail sale, e.g. fruit canning, bacon curing, frozen vegetable packing. The broad timing of the change will be largely dependent on:

the metrication of goods and supplies brough t onto the farm, e.g fertilisers, chemicals, machinery and hardware ; the metrication of marketing systems and processing plants so as to receive and pay for produce in metric measure ; and - the :res tatement of relev ant legislative. requirements and codes m

metric terms. In general, conversion 1s expected to be accomplished m most sectors by 1973.

Sectors Sector Committees already established include: Gra!ns and Seeds ; Wool ; Beef, Mutton and Lamb; three horticultural committees; Tobacco; Pigs; Poultry and Eggs; Cotton; Dairy Products; Su gar; Fishing; and Agricultural Machinery.


Membership of these committees is, in the main, drawn from representa­ tive producer and marketing associations, relevant boards and Government departments. Where appropriate, committees have also been made repre­ sentative on a geographical basis.

Responsibilities of the Sector Committees ge nerall y cover practices inside the farm through to the first change of ownership of the produce, i.e. at sale yard or the receiving dock of a processi ng plant but for a few s.ectors such as poultry and eggs produce is followed through to the retail pack.

Many sectors have direc t interfaces with other sectors within and outside the primary group. Thus pig production is concerned with grains and seeds (stock fe eds) and also with the meat products sector of the Consumer Goods and Service Industries Advisory Committee. The Dairy Products Sector Committee serves both the Primary Industry and Consumer Goods and Service Industries Advisory Committees.

Liaison between th e Sector Committees and bodies responsible for the control of so me aspect of the utilisation of their products will be import­ ant in many cases. Thus liaison with the Standing Committee on Packaging is relevant to the marketing and standardisation of packaged goods, e.g. for

milk, butter, sugar and dried fr uits. Most sectors are concerned in th e main wi th rationalising the wide and overlapping variety of packs and cases in use and with establishing time­ tables for conversion.

The requirements for farmer education and training will be similar in many of the sectors. It is hoped this can be effe cted mainly through the existing agricultural and horticultural extension services. The establishment of a Sector Committee to facilitate the co-ordination of commercial, pro­ fessional and government organised advisory services on metric conversion for farmers is under consideration.

Metrication in Primary Industry

The key aspects of metric ation appear to be: to rationalise grades and packages and marketing practices to get the greatest value from metric conversion; the timing of conversion in industries servicing primary industry; the metrication of legislation and codes relating to primary production; and the education and training of the farmer to use metric measurements in his operations.

Timing for Conversion

The woo l industry has announced its intention to commence the auctioning of wool in cents per kilogram on 23 August 1971. This is proving a useful pilot exerci e in conversion. Some 800 scales require modification by scale makers and reverification by State Weights and Measures authorities. Through the co-operation of all concerned there is every reason to expect the change will proceed smoothly.



Several other sectors are considering partial conversion in 1972 and its completion in 1973 . Metric usage already exists in the export sale of primary products, in veterinary medicines and in imported farm machinery.

Units of Measurement Units of particular relevance in primary industry will be the hectare to replace the acre, the millimetre in lieu of the point of rain and the cubic metre for the acre-foot or gallon of irrigation water. The present ambiguous position of the bushel as both a measure of mass and volume will be resolved,

e.g. by the use of the kilogram for a mass of grain and grams per litre (in place of pounds per bushel) for grain density.

Planning During the remainder of 1 971 a broad timing for conversion in the area as a whole is expected to be determined. Attention will then be focused on rationalising containers and packages, on any problems with minor exotic crops such as tea, coffee or ginger and on the co-ordination and im ple­

mentation of farmer training.

6.4 Consumer Goods

The consumer goods area is seen to be the one having major influence and impact on the housewife and the man in the street and hence is the area which will require greatest attention and co-ordination with respect to publicity and public education.

Included in the description 'consumer goods' are basically all the indus­ tries which produce the articles and commodities purchased in departmental stores or shops, e.g. wholesaling, retailing, packaging, food processing, dairy products, meat and meat products, beverages , textiles and manchester, clothing and footwear and household utensils and equipment.

The planning of conversion in these sectors is being undertaken through the Consumer Goods and Service Industries Advisory Committee and eleven Sector Committees specialising in one or more of the above industries. The production of an article for sale to the consumer is usually the result of

activities performed by a number of industries so li aison with other appro­ priate indus tries, sectors and Advisory Committees is important. Additionally liaison with organisations and authorities external to the Board, such as the Standing Committee on Packaging, Chambers of Manufactures and Com­ merce, and national associations have been established where appropriate.

Metric conversion provides many opportunities for rationalisation and economies in the consumer industry and where appropriate those concerned are being encouraged to take advantage of these. At the same time the Board is particularly mindful of its responsibility to keep under review any attempts to take unfair advantage of the public under metric conversion

and to bring such instances to the attention of the relevant authorities. Fore­ most in consumer protection activity has been the development by the


Board of a simple cost comparator to enable consumers to make ready com­ parisons between the costs of packages marked in imperial and metric units. The device is intended to be widely distributed and freely available to the consumer.

Initial planning has been directed to developing the preferred sizes of consumer articles under conversion, e.g. textiles, clothing, tinned, bottled and packaged foods, within the confines of such legislative requirements as the Uniform Packaging Code and excise regulations, the preservation

of export markets and the requirements of the consumer.

Packaged Goods The major considerations of the Packaged Goods Sector Committee have been directed towards formulating, in conjunction with the Standing Committee on Packaging, appropriate metric quantities for packaged goods.

Tentative proposals supported by the industries involved are expected to be available for detailed consideration by industry early in 1971-72. They will cover labelling and marking, preferred sizes for non-standardised commodities and prescribed sizes for standardised commodities as well as relevant timing. It is hoped this will result in a viable basis for the metric conversion of packaged goods.

Membership of the Packaged Goods Sector Committee has been drawn from nominations provided by the Standing Committee on Packaging, Grocery Manufacturers of Australia, National Packaging Association,' The Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Cosmetic and Toiletry Manufacturers' Asso­

ciation of Australia, National Council of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Industries, National Standards Commission, Confectionery Manufacturers of Australia, Adhesive Manufacturers' Association of Australia, Australian Canners' Association, Federal Council of Flour Millowners of Australia,

Chambers of Manufacturers and State Consumer Affairs Bureaux. Included in the proposals are recommendations on the timing of the conversion of packaged goods as follows: (a) Sole metric marking should be permitted from 1 January 1972;

(b) Non-standardised commodities should undergo conversion by a three stage approach beginning 1 January 1972 to reach, if possible, an ideal packaging pattern by 1 January 1976; (c) Sole imperial marking should not be permitted after 1 January

1974; and (d) Standardised commodities should undergo conversion from 1 July 1972 progressively for completion no later than 1 January 1976. Individual completion dates for each commodity in this period

should be recommended after full consultation with the industry involved. It is foreseen that some 40 per cent of packaged goods in supermarkets could well be marked solely in the metric system by the end of 1972. Dual marking is already extensively practiced but is not seen as a significant help in developing a public appreciation of metric measures.


o a v

Dairy Products Resolution of preferred container sizes for milk has received lengthy and detailed consideration by the Dairy Products Sector Committee drawn from national dairy product associations, primary industry and governmental bodies but final recommendations have not as yet been formulated.

Other sectors of the industries involved in processing dairy products are formulating recommendations on preferred sizes for consideration by the Sector Committee. A number of these products, viz. milk, cream, ice cream, are controlled by legislation as to the quantities in which they may be packed.

Meat The Meat Products Sector Committee, drawn principally from nomina­ tions pr-ovided by the Meat and Allied Trades Federation, has preparation of a conversion programme well in hand. Attention is being given to aspects of ineat export affected by conversion activities and to preparing for weighing instrument conversions in all retail butcher shops.

Meat is likely to be priced per kilogram and will, therefore, require par­ ticular publicity and consumer assistance which is expected to be accom­ modated by the joint ac tivities of the Metric Conversion Board and the Australian Meat Board. Deliberations of the committee to date indicate con­ version of the wholesale area in the first instance, followed by conversion of retail outlets as instrument conversion takes place.

Bread The Bread and Pastry Sector Committee membership has been drawn from nominations provided by the St an ding Committee on Packaging, the Associated Bread Manufacturers of Australia and New Zealand, the Master Pastrycooks' Association, the National Council of Women and th e Bread Research Institute of Australia.

The committee, in its deliberations to date, has adopted an which envisages utilis ation of existing baking tins and bakery equipment and is encouraging, if at all possible, a uniform industry view being put forward before final recommendations are formulated.

State legislation and regulations will require significant revision once final recommended sizes are formulated and, for this reason alone, it appears unlikely that conversion of bread will take place before early 1973.

Beverages The Beverages and Licensed Premises Sector Committee, drawn from national associations of brewers, winemakers, spirit merchants, soft drink manufacturers, hoteliers and licensed clubs and the bottle manufacturers, is giving particular attention to the difficulties presented by returnable bottles and the determination of preferred bottle volumes. The complex implications of excise requirements are receiving attention by the brewing industry in

preparing its recommendations. Attention is also bein g g]ven to sizes of beer glasses and spirit dispensers in hotels.


Textiles and Clothing

Attention has been given by the Textile and Clothing Sector Committees to the revision of relevant standards and to the selection of preferred units of measurement for adoption in these areas. These committees have been drawn from nominations provided by national associations in the textile and

garment indusfries, together with nominees to present the consumers' view­ point.

The opportunity is being taken to seek uniformity where divergence of practice and sizing is evident, e.g. in men's wear, and to encourage rationalisa­ tion where appropriate and beneficial to the consumer, e.g. for bedsheet sizes. In consideration of manchester and blankets cognisance is being taken of

likely developments in the furniture industry with respect to the proposed sizes of beds.

In women's clothing sizes it has been noted that the new Australi

and only the specific body measurements pertaining to that numeric size will be converted to metric terms.

Existing shoe fittin gs are by numeric sizes rather than foot measurements and it is unlikely that these will alter during current conversion activities. Indications are that the 'Mondopoint' system might be adopted in Australia at some future date beyond the immediate period of metric implementation.

Wholesaling and Retailing

The two Wholesaling and Retailing Sector Committees, drawn principally from nomination provided by the Australian Council of Retailers and th e National Association of Retail Grocers of Australia, are to a significant degree dependent on the rate of conversion of the manufacturing industries which

provide the products and commodities available for sale through retail outlets.

Accordingly, close liaison with the relevant supply sectors has been estab­ lished to obtain early advice of impending conversions and programme con­ siderations aim at maximum flexibility so as to be able to absorb these manu­ facturing conversions in an orderly manner and at an early date.

The other major consideration under review is th e conversion of weighing and measuring instruments in use in retail establishments but it is expected that the detailed attention being given to the planning of instrument conver­ sion by the Science and Technology Advisory Committee will overcome the

majority of difficulties foreseen.

Significant participation in consumer education is anticipated in this area and is receiving consideration along with the attendant requirements of staff education.



Packaging Although essentially a service industry, the influence and importance of packaging and packaging materials cannot be divorced from prognunming conversion in the consumer goods area. The Packaging Materials Sector Committee, established through the National Packaging Association, repre­

sentative of all forms of packaging materials, has given consideration to revision of standards and the preparation of a programme to meet the require­ ments of client industries is well in hand. It may be some time before the industry is fully metricated but no major difficulties are foreseen in the production of packages t0 contain new metric contents required by client industries.

Domestic Utensils and Equipment The major item under this heading is furniture and through the Furniture Guild of Australia a number of industry sub-committees are now giving consideration to the implications of conversion in this area.

The Household Utensils and Equipment Sector Committee is also actively engaged in communicating with trade associations and individual companies engaged in the production of a wide range of domestic utensils and equipment, such as brooms, strollers and umbrellas, to seek advice

of any difficulties foreseen, to offer assistance if required and to seek views on timing for conversion.

Future Plans Overall, it is becoming apparent that the consumer is likely to be signi­ ficantly exposed to a wide range of fully metric products by the end of 1972. It is the intention that this consumer involvement should build up gradually withi_p a well prepared and well defined programme and be accompanied by adequate and appropriate publicity and public educational activities.

6.5 Engineering Industry

The impact of metrication on engineering is perhaps the most per­ vasive and far-reaching of that on any sector of activity in an industrialised society in which almost all activities are based on engineering technology which provides the machines for producing, processing and packaging

foodstuffs, the equipment, vessels and vehicles of transport, the machines to manufacture fabrics , consumer goods and appliances, the appliances themselves and so on. Conversion to the metric system means that the whole language of engineering will be replaced by the metric language of measure­ ment and calculation.

The Board's planning is through the Engineering Industry Advisory Committee and eleven sector committees specialising in broadly defined areas of engineering activities, viz. mining and metallurgy ; iron and steel production; non-ferrous metals; fabricated metal products; machines and


machine tools; electrical and electronic engineering; automotive engineer­ ing; chemical engineering; locomotive and rolling stock; shipbuilding and aeronautical engineering. Close co-ordination is maintained with the Build­ ing and Construction and the Industrial Materials Advisory Committees

and with the Standards Association of Australia (SAA) to establish priori­ ties for the conversion of engineering standards. Each of these sectors covers a very wide sp an and careful planning is proceeding to ensure that metric materials will be available when required and conversely that when commencement of production of metric materials

is planned the necessary demand exists, to minimise the burden of dual stocking during the periods of change. It is proposed to take th e oppor­ tunity wherever practicable to rationalise product sizes so as to eliminate uneconomic diversity in production.

Membership of the Sector Committees is drawn from the major federa­ tions and associations of the extractive, manufacturing and processing organisations of the relevant industry and from Chambers of Manufacture, government departments and instrumentalities, the SA A and professional institutions. Throughout the broad field of engineering, industry is generally

keen to undertake the complex and detailed investigation and planning needed to produce conversion timetables fo r the earliest implementation consistent with the requirements of other sectors of community activity. In some engineering industries, however, e.g. where major plant and equip­

ment are involved, conversion will occur over quite a lengthy period to allow maximum advantage to be taken of obsolescence. The Sector Committees already formed have undertaken th e task of identifying areas requiring initial investigation and of establishing priorities.

A high degree of co-operation is being evidenced by all the interests con­ cerned. A number of the elements being examined as a prerequisite for the production of draft programmes are outlined below. Tn many areas, oppor­ tunities for rationalising codes and regulations between States have been disclosed and the conversion of technical data, handbooks, etc. has been discussed in all sectors.

Electronics and Electrical Engineering Attention has been given to wire and cable sizes, metric dimensions for electric motors and generators, Australian metal standards and the conversion of electrical equipment. It is expected that this sector will achieve 70 per cent conversion by 1976.

Locomotive and Rolling Stock An initial draft timetable, envisaging conversion of the manufacture of locomotives and rolling stock by 1978 has been prepared. Products and components initially will require to retain interchangeability with existing

installations so that their conversion will tend to be limited to expressing the existing dimensions in the new units. The desirability of a unifo rm co de of practices between manufacturers and Commonweal th and State railway systems has been stressed.



Fabricated Metal Products This Committee covers a very wide range of products and is working through the range to determine where separate programmes are necessary. Areas under investigation include can and canister sizes, sheet metal pro­ ducts, spring and wire products, water and gas fittings, toolmaking. There is a wide diversity of products in this sector and it is expected that pro-grammes will proceed at different rates. -

Non-ferrous Metals Draft programmes for conversion of aluminium fabrications, copper fabrications and for lead and zinc products are being developed. Attention is being given to developing lists of preferred sizes for metal thicknesses

and sheet dimensions and it appears likely that an acceptable programme will be resolved for conversion in the field of non-ferrous metals as a whole.

The draft programme for the aluminium fabricating industry has been discussed with and accepted by the Building Materials Sector Com­ mittee; in developing the programmes to acceptability close attention will need to be paid to the direct conversion of existing components to metric

dimensions so that existing toolage may continue in use. Communication with small enterprises, which form a large part of the manufacturing industry in this sector, will be essential for orderly conversion. On the other hand, little difficulty is foreseen in the conversion of non-ferrous metal foundries.

Consideration is also being given to the timing of conversion for exotic metals and alloys.

Iron and Steel A draft programme for the steel industry has been circulated for comment. Preferred metric sizes have been proposed. Conversion of steel fabrication is considered to be a relatively straightforward operation and one which will require only simple training within the industry. Similarly foundry operations will admit an uncomplicated conversion. Some 10 per cent of foundry pattern making is already in metric dimensions, although some problems may arise in closed die forgings if metric equivalents to existing inch bar sizes are not available. Conversion of tube making involves mainly education within th e industry. ISO preferred metric tube sizes have been published and are already in production.

Automotive Engineering A draft programme for conversion prepared in consultation with a com­ mittee of the Society of Automotive Engineers of Australia is being discussed and it has been tentatively proposed that after 197 4 no further design in

imperial dimensio ns should be released. A list of special terminology used in the automotive industry has been collated and metric standards for wheel rims and tyres have been discussed.


Shipbuilding A draft timing for conversion is being studied and a draft programme is being prepared by the Department of the Navy. A list of preferred units based on the United Kingdom shipbuilding practice is being prepared.

Machines and Machine Tools This committee covers a wide and diversified field and has devoted its early attention to defining its areas of responsibilities. Preparatory studies indicate that conversion programmes in this sector will be closely dependent on the timetables established in many other sectors and will depend largely on the rate at which demands for products and components emerge.

Chemical Engineering This Sector Committee has conducted a preliminary study of its area of responsibility and is confident that, as it is working in a rather specific field in which the enterprises are limited in number, a draft programme will have been formulated by 1972.

6.6 Building and Construction The building and construction industry is seen to be one of the major areas in which considerable benefits can be gained by adopting standardised sizes and uniform codes and practices in conjunction with metric conversion.

The Board's planning is through the Building and Construction Advisory Committee and its four Sector Committees which cover the broad area'S of civil engineering and architecture, building supplies, building generally and govern­ ment construction.

This industry makes use of many materials the conversion of which has been made the concern of other bodies. For example, reinforcing mesh, fasteners and sheet metal are an engineering function; timber, glass and plas­ tics are general industrial materials and electrical wiring and plumbing have wider applications. Close co-ordination is therefore being maintained with the Engineering Industry and the Industrial Materials Advisory Committees and

there is general liaison with many other committees such as education, elec­ tricity generation and water and sewerage.

In an endeavour to achieve maximum uniformity in building regulations, close contact has been established with the Interstate Standing Committee on Uniform Building Regulations. A metric version of regulations based on the Australian Model Uniform Building Code is proposed and it is hoped that these regulations will receive wide acceptance by controlling authorities.

Since various sectors of the industry are closely refated, it is essential that the change should be co-ordinated and implemented in a systematic way. To this end a draft programme has been produced and distributed for com­ ment to a very wide range of institutions, federations and associations with



interests throughout the industry and also to public corporations, local govern­ ment authorities and government departments. The programme has been amended in the light of comment received and it is expected that a firm pro­ gramme will be promulgated for the guidance of industry during 1971-72.

Civil Engineering and Architecture A committee comprising nominees of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects, the Institution of Engineers, Australia, the Institution of Surveyors, the Federation of Civil Engineering Contractors and other appropriate organisations is studying the basic design aspects of conversion.

In close liaison with the Standards Association of Australia units for use in construction have been selected and a basis for determining preferred sizes for building components and for co-ordinating dimensions has been proposed. The units recommended for length measurement in this industry are the millimetre ( mm) and metre ( m) (not the centimetre). The basic planning

module suggested is 100 mm with preferred sub-multiples of 25, 50 and 75 mm and multi modules of 200 mm, 300 mm and multiples of 300 mm, i.e. 300 mm; 600 mm; 900 mm; etc.

Building Supplies Nominees of manufacturers of bricks, concrete, tiles, reinforcing steel, building cladding, steel and aluminium, together with nominees of building supply and building sub-contractors' organisations form a committee which is

considering sizes of building products, co-ordination of activities and dissemination of information. Because of the wide variety of materials and components used in building, the manufacturers of each type of which usually have their own industrial association, an important function of the Sector Committee is to liaise with these bodies. Advice and co-operation has already

been sought from about 200 such associations.

A metric brick with dimensions 290 x 90 x 90 mm has been proposed and a metric replacement for the present common brick is being considered. The determination of preferred sizes for the present brick is being con­ sidered . The determination of preferred sizes for many other products is

awaiting the specification of controlling dimensions, stud spacings. etc. and many industries are actively engaged in preparing proposals for consideration.

Building A committee to study conversion implications generally in the building industry has been established and includes nominees of the Master Builders Association, the Institute of Quantity Surveyors and other interested organi­ sations. The committee has made, and will continue to make, significant

contributions on preferred sizes of materials and will play a leading role in publicising action required and providing advice on education and industrial training requirements.


Government Construction Having regard to the importance of government construction activities, a separate committee consisting of nominees of State and Commonwealth departments has been established. The government sector controls the major research effort on building in Australia and, through the National Com­

mittee on Rationalised Building, will play a key role in the adoption of standardisation in building practices.

As the largest single group in the industry, government construction authorities will exercise considerable influence on building regulations, design, contracts, supplies and training. They are expected to lead the way in metric conversion, as they have done in the United Kingdom.

The production of a metric construction handbook is under considera­ tion and the first two sections, which will be of general interest, are expected to be published during 1972.

Future Plans Continued attention will be given to the determination of controlling dimensions and of preferred sizes of products. Information as it becomes available will be provided for inclusion in the proposed metric uniform

building code.

The draft programme proposes commencement of intensive activity from 1 January 197 4, and envisages that the industry will be 80 per cent con­ verted by 1976. Publicity and information releases will be planned to co-ordinate with the confirmed dates when they are known.

6. 7 Industrial Materials Materials which have application in a wide variety of industries and are not covered by other committees have been grouped under the Board's Industrial Materials Advisory Committee. Items include paper, timber,

rubber, glass, clay products, plastics and chemicals. By their very nature, metrication of these materials will be strongly related to the industries in which they are most used and co-ordination with the programmes of other committees, particularly the Engineering Industry and the Building and

Construction Advisory Committees, is essential.

Paper and Printing A committee to advise on conversion in relation to paper, pulp products and printing includes members associated with pulp and paper production and marketing, the printing trade, publishers and stationers. Matters under consideration include the basis and timing for conversion, units of measure­

ment for particular use in the industry, preferred paper thicknesses, type­ setting and advertising sizes. A proposal embodied in a special report for a new (metric) system to replace the present point systems for print sizes has been referred for international consideration.



It has been assumed in many quarters that the adoption of the metric system carries with it the corollary that the standard paper sizes recom­ mended by the International Standardisation Organisation (ISO) will also be adopted. Such sizes are already used in all Commonwealth Government publications. However the adoption of standard paper sizes is beset with many difficulties and while the desirability of attaining standardisation is generally accepted, how this might be done has yet to be determined. There is no Australian standard for paper sizes at present. A draft specification was circulated for comment by SAA Committee MS 17 in March 1970. The draft was in the form of two sections detailing traditional sizes in Part A and ISO sizes in Part B. Comment was divided and SAA are endeavouring to obtain further information so that the matter may be progressed.

Timber A committee consisting of nominees of timber producers and timber merchants' organisations together with representatives of Government departments is considering metric conversion of timber.

The CSIRO Division of Building Research is undertaking research on preferred metric dimensions for timber with particular reference to framing timber.

Active consideration is being given to preferred sizes for hardboard, ply­ wood and particle board, units for sale of timber and the specification of green and dry measurement. Ply is already manufactured in millimetre thicknesses. Panels have been established in each State to assist in these deliberations.

Forestry Forestry decisions will be based largely on methods of specifying dimen­ sions as determined by the timber committee and hence little action has been taken to date.

Metric conversion will provide the opportunity for the adoption of a single unit for the measurement of the quantity of timber (presumably the cubic metre) in place of the wide diversity of units used in the different States at present.

Clay Products Building bricks are being catered for by the Building Supply Sector Committee, but a separate committee is being established to consider metrication of refractory bricks and other clay products, e.g. vitrified pipes

and ceramics. Specification of units, sizes, timing and publicity needs to be determined. Roofing tiles are already predominantly in rounded metric dimensions because of their European origin.

Glass Glass products requrrmg attention can be broadly grouped into the categories of bottles and jars, glassware (e.g. tumblers) and flat glass. The


manufacture of new moulds could be a major problem affecting the rate of conversion unless the change to new designs and sizes can be predominantly co-ordinated with normal mould replacements. In many cases, preferred sizes will depend on the activities of other committees, e.g. bottle sizes will be determined by those manufacturing the

contents, in conjunction with the Standing Committee on Packaging. This is an area in which overseas experience has shown metric conversion can be made the opportunity to reduce greatly unnecessary diversification in bottle sizes.

Rubber Metrication of rubber products has already been given detailed con­ sideration within the industry and a draft program has been circulated for comment by the Advisory Committee.

Attention is being given to preferred sizes. In the case of tyre sizes, the Tyre and Rim Association is also involved through the Board's Automotive Engineering Sector Committee.

Plastics and Chemicals A committee has been formed consisting of nominees from the Plastics Institute of Australia, the Australian Chemical Industry Council, the Aus­ tralian Paint Manufacturers Federation, the Australian Veterinary Chemicals

Association, the Australian Rubber Manufacturers Association and the industrial gases industry. Items being considered by the committee include plastic materials, industrial gases, industrial chemicals, paints, soaps, pest control and agricultural chemical products.

A draft programme has been prepared for consideration. Units, par­ ticularly those related to pressure, are being examined. Preferred sizes for packaging are being considered and, in particular, SAA have been requested to produce a standard for metal containers.

Future Plans Draft programmes (with tentative conversion dates in brackets) have been prepared for timber (1974-75), paper (July 1973), printing (July 1974), rubber ( 1973) and plastics and chemicals (March 1973). It will be necessary

to seek comment on the programmes and to amend them in the light of information received. Heed will need to be paid also to the co-ordination of programmes and ancillary activities, e.g. weights and measures conversion and education.

Further attention will be directed towards choice of units for particular industries and publications will be prepared as appropriate.

6. 8 Science and Technology Important factors in the efficient functioning of industry and commerce are the systems of measurement in use and the accuracy and speed with which measurements can be made, recorded, analysed and retrieved.



Any change in a society's system of measurement, such as is occurring in Australia during metric conversion, must be soundly planned. After the structure and terminology of the new system of units is delineated, the incor­ poration of the units into legislation is followed by the introduction of measuring devices calibrated in these units and measurements must then be

able to be reported and stored in the new units. Metric conversion will entail the conversion or replacement of a large number and wide variety of measuring instruments. If the operation is not to be unduly wasteful of existing equipment, careful consideration must be given to the conversion of these instruments and, where relevant, conversion of legislation governing their design and use.

These basic matters are the concern of the Science and Technology Advisory Committee. Because units and measurements are relevant to every aspect of metric conversion one of the prime functions of this Advisory Committee and its Sector Committees is to act in a consultative capacity for other committees. ·

Units While all the units which may legally be used in the Commonwealth are prescribed in the Weights and Measures (National Standards) legislation, the Metric Conversion Act defines the units which, for the purposes of the Act, are to be taken to be metric units.

The Minister for Education and Science is responsible for the administra­ tion of both the Metric Conversion Act and the Weights and Measures (National Standards) legislation. His advisors on these matters are respectively the Metric Conversion Board and the National Standards Commission. These two bodies work in close collaboration. The Board's prime responsi­ bilities are in respect of the selection of the units to be used under metric conversion and the timing for consequential changes for legislation.

It is the responsibility of the Units Sector Committee, on which three members of the National Standards Commission sit, to consider submissions and to initiate recommendations to the Advisory Committee on such matters. In addition the Committee is concerned with the spelling, pronunciation and method of presentation of names and symbols of units and acts in an advisory capacity for other Sector Committees.

The Committee has emphasised the advantages to be gained by adherence to SI units and their decimal multiples and submultiples (generally those related by a factor of 1 Q3), but is keeping aware of developments in other countries.

A more detailed section on units is to be found elsewhere in this report.

Instrum ents The Instruments Sector Committee is concerned with the conversion of instruments used 'in plant' (e.g. pressure gauges, thermometers and thermo­ stats), in laboratories and testing centres (e.g. viscometers and hardness


testers) and in other applications (e.g. tachographs). The Committee draws its necessary expertise from members nominated by the Australian Institute of Instrumentation and Control, the National Association of Testing Authorities, the Standards Association of Australia, the Department of

Supply and several companies associated with different industries.

While a close watch is kept on developments in instrumentation in other countries undergoing metric conversion or converting from an old metric system to SI, the Committee hopes it may be able to achieve, by li aison wi th the Standards Association of Australia, some rationalisation of the variety

of operating ranges of some types of instruments. An as sessment of the availability and supply of new metric instruments and conversion kits is also receiving attention.

Weighing and M easuring Instruments in Use fo r Trade Instruments used in trade for the measurement of length, mass, volume or area are, in general, subject to control under State weights and measures legislation. They must be of a pattern approved by th e States or the National Standards Commission (NSC) and must be verified and stamped

by the State authority. The specifications with which patterns of instruments must comply, issued by the Commission as 'General Specifications for Weighing and Measuring Instruments to be Used for Trade', have been developed through close collaboration between the Commission and State

authorities principally at an annual Formal Conference on Weights and Measures.

The Board is particularly concerned with the timing and manner of implementing the changes which will be necessary to instruments in use for trade, because of the vital part these will play in alm ost all conversion programmes. To advise on these matters Liquid Measurement and Weights

and Measures Sector Committees have been set up . Each includes members of the NSC and the State we ights and measures authorities, together with nominees from the relevant industries.

In April 1971 the Board sponsored a meeting of the Formal Conference on Weights and Measures at which bas ic principles for the metric conversion of weighing and measuring in struments were formulated. Instruments to which particular attention was given are weighing devices, petrol pumps and farm

milk tanks. For many of these instruments the change to the pattern necessary to modify them for use in metric uni ts is relatively minor and ways are being sought by the NSC and weights and measures au thorities to facilitate the changes while maintaining adequ ate standards of precision. Weigh ts and

measures authorities have accepted th e principle that during conversior, there wi ll be a time when conversion tables will need to be used in conjunction with either imperial or metric machines to convert to th e units appropriate to the particular industry at the particul ar time. Some conversion tables have been prepared and provision is bei ng made for the preparation of others as required.


1 1 1

The main concern of the Weights and Meas ures Sector Committee is to assess the magnitude of the task of converting scales and other weighing devices in relation to the facilities and manpower available to effect the change. Preliminary estimates suggest about 800,000 instruments will require conversion and that three to four years would be required to convert them .

In order to examine more fully these and other matters related to the provision of facilities for metric weighing a panel of leading scale manu­ facturers throughout the Commonwealth together with weights and measures and National Standards Commission personnel has been established.

A panel of the Liquid Measurement Sector Committee is considering the measurement of volume in bulk containers with particular reference to farm milk tanks, wine and spirit vats and road and rail tankers.

Research and Technology The results of many measurements determined by instruments are stored in or processed by computers. Computers are more and more commonly used to handle the accounting and purchasing calculations of many companies. During metric conversion, computers may well have to be capable of handling data presented in either imperial or metric units.

Metric conversion will require no change in computer hardware, but a considerable amount of reprogramming will be needed, and it is important that computer users make allowances for the time required for develop­ ment of new programmes. To this end the Research and Technology Sector Committee, whose members include nominees of the Australian Computer Society and the Australian Computer Users Association, has alerted members of the Society and the Association and all major suppliers of com­ puting services and software to the implication of metric conversion for computer installations.

The committee is presently involved with planning the conversion of essential reference data and the production of conversion aids and tables.

Meteorological Services The Bureau of Meteorology is the sole meteorological authority in Aus­ tralia, and most of the decisions on the technical aspects of conversion will be made by the Bureau, guided by th e dec isions of the relevant committees of the Metric Conversion Board. The main interface of activity between the Bureau and the public occ urs in the mass medi a and the Meteorological Services Sector Committee is primarily concerned with th e details of the presentation of meteorological advice and the education of the public to a sufficient understanding of the new meteorological units.

Experience in the United Kingdom that quoting meteorological advices in dual units served no significant purpose in 'educating' the public to the new units has led to the decision that the change to each of the units in which reports are given will be made overnight, giving rise to a number of M days-each of which will be preceded by a period of public education through the mass media and adult education activities.


Future Plans After the Science and Technology Advisory Committee has completed planning in the technical areas with which it is concerned, particularly in the conversion of measuring instruments, it is expected that it will have

an important function to perform in conjunction with virtually all other committees in helping to facilitate and co-ordinate the implementation of their conversion programmes.

6.9 Transport and Communications An area which will have impact on a wide cross-section of the community is that of transport. Almost every citizen will be affected by conversion of speed signs, direction signs and tyre pressures. However, there is more implied in transport than simply motor vehicles. Attention must be given to

passenger and freight cartage by road, rail, sea and air and also to storage. Communications by telephone, letter or telegram are contro1led by the Postmaster-General's Department, and conversion will be determined largely by that Department but because the metric conversion of communications

has much in common with conversion of transport they have been included in the same general fi eld. The Board is studying the implications of con­ version through the Transport and Communications Advisory Committee and its Sector Committees.

Some considerations of the transport committees are closely related to the engineering industry activities such as shipbuilding, automotive engineer­ ing, aeronautical engineering and manufacture of locomotive and stock. Close liaison is maintained through common membership of

committees. Matters requiring early attention are: the development of a co-ordinated timetable for conversion. - the choice of appropriate units for use in the industry ; and

- attempts to take advantage of metric conversion to ob tain greater uniformity in the regulations which control transpo rt ac tivities . In this latter regard, both the Australian Transport Advisory Council ( ATAC) and the National Association of Australian State Road Authorities

(NAASRA) have approved nominees to the Advisory Committee.

Road Transport The Australian Road Transport Federation is organisationally arranged into a Forwarders Division, a Goods Division, a Hauliers Division and a Passenger Division. Nominees from each of these Divisions together with

members from ATAC and NAASRA have been included in a committee which is studying the implications of metric conversion on road transport activities. ATAC has been alerted to the need for metric codes. Codes related to

design rules applying to new vehicles are uniformly accepted by the States and no problem is foreseen. Speed s1gns form part of the National Road



Traffic Code it is expected that recommendations on these, including suggested timing for implementation, will be prepared by the A TAC Advisory Committee for consideration at the February 1972 meeting. Matters relating to vehicle dimensions and loading are expected to

require lengthy consideration but it is hoped that recommendations will be available in time for related conversion activities, e.g. the fixing of freight rates. The committee is considering use of the kilogram, tonne and cubic

metre as appropriate units of measurement and industry comment is being sought.

Rail Transport A committee cons1stmg of nominees from the Commissioners of Rail­ ways for the Commonwealth and th e States has been formed. Action is in hand to have freight rates converted at the same time as rates for other modes of transport are changed.

The detailed working of the railways is also receiving attention from within the Departments and it is expected that internal conversions will be coincident with the general industry programmes.

Air Transport A small panel consisting of nominees from the three major airlines has been considering cargo and freight aspects. Airline scales are either in dual units or action is in hand to have them converted. Rate charts for international transactions are already printed in pounds and kilograms. Export/ import freight transactions in metric units have been carried out for many years on behalf of certain overseas operators.

The implications of change from the current Australian usage of units relating to air navigation are being examined by the Department of Civil Aviation. Changes will require thorough consideration as international as well as domestic operators will be involved.

It is intended to form a committee to consider conversion of rates for air navigation charges, operational statistical data and some aspects of Air Navigation Orders. Matters concerning airworthiness will be considered by the Aeronautical Engineering Sector Committee.

Water Transport A committee has been formed of nominees from stevedoring, local and overseas shipping and steamship owners' associations together with repre­ sentatives of the Australian Port and Marine Authorities Association and

the Department of Shipping and Transport. A combined States/ Commonwealth committee has been formed to produce uniform marine legislation and metric conversion matters should receive early attention. Dual marking of draught marks on ships is accept­ able now and it is possible th at solely metric marking may be permitted early next year.


Specification of some quantities, e.g. register ton, are dependent on international conventions and can only be changed when a new convention . is adopted. In this regard the international nautical mile (1852 metres) and knot (nautical mile per hour) which are already Commonwealth legal units

of measurement, will need to be retained for navigational purposes while they remain in international agreements.

A proposal that the cubic metre replace the measurement ton (40 cubic feet) is receiving consideration.

The navigational charts for most Australian ports now give depths in metres instead of fathoms and from 1 January 1972 tide tables will be giwn in the same units (to 0.1 metre).

Storage The committee responsible for assessing means of facilitating metric conversion of storage and warehousing has nominees of the National Furniture Removers Association, the Cold Storage Asociation of Australia, the Sydney Bonded and Free Stores Associati on, the Victori an Road

Transport Association and the Commonwealth Department of Supply. Basic units of measuring for rates of charging have been proposed as the tonne and the cubic metre. Preferred length increments are being considered. Furniture removal aspects have yet to be oonsidered.

Freight Forwarding A special panel of nominees from all the Transport Sector Committees has been formed to determine a common approach to metric conversion. Since freight may be transferred from one form of transport to another

during its passage, it is desirable that freight rates be converted simultane­ ously in all areas. A tentative date of July 1973 is being considered.

A Standards Association of Australia committee has accepted 1170 x 1170 mm ( 46" x 46" within tolerances) as th e stand ard pallet size within Australia. It is proposed to give consideration to further additional standard sizes for use in overseas shipping containers.

Communications The Postal Section of the P.M.G.'s Department is exammmg the implications of the adoption of the Universal Postal Union standard metric weight series. Planning for the conversion of postal weighing devices has

also been commeneed.

The Telecommunications Section of the P.M.G. 's Department is studyin g the effect of metric conversion on its tariff structure which is related to radial distances.

The P.M.G.'s Department is consulting with the Overseas Telecommuni­ cations Commission on matters of common interest.



6.10 Fuel and Power The ramifications of the fuel and power industries range from the mining of fuel and the engineering of power stations through to the reticulation of fuel and power to the household and industrial consumer. The industries are concerned with the production and utilisation of energy in many different forms-mechanical, chemical, thermal and electrical energy-and one of the benefits of the adoption of the metric system will be that for the first time it will be simple to compare qu antities of energy in its different manifestations.

The considerable investment of the industries in capital equipment of long life will necessitate a continuation of the use of inch based tools and spares for many years. However, already a significant proportion of ge nerat­ ing equipment is metrically dimensioned and is provided with instruments

which read in metric units. As in other industries, one of the main aspects of conversion will be the amendment of relevant legislation, codes and standards. The Advisory and Sector Committees responsible for the fuel and power industries have established close liaison with the association responsible for such codes and standards and with the relevant government and semi-government instru­ mentalities with a view to facilitating co-ordination of effort in their conversion.

Gas The Gas Production Sector Committee has the responsibility of pl::uming the conversion of the town gas and liquid petroleum gas (LPG) industries. Members have been nominated from the Australian Gas Association (AGA), the Australian Liquified Petroleum Gas Association (ALPGA) and State Government departments.

The committee is giving consideration to the units to be used within the industry and has identified codes and standards requiring amendment. Dis­ cussions with manufacturers of meters and appliances have been initiated. A draft conversion timetable for the industry is in preparation.

With the extensive introduction of natural gas , the maintenance of long­ life manufacturing plant will become less of a problem. However, for many years, gas authorities will have to distinguish between old imperial meters graduated in cubic feet and new or converted meters measuring in cubic metres. The problem of long-life imperial equipment is especially evident in the LPG industry, where gas cylinders have a life of twenty years or more.

Reticulated gas is currently sold by the therm, the cubic foot and by the Gas Unit (the thermal equivalent of the kilowatt hour) , depending on the Act under which a particular company or authority operates. These Acts are expected to be amended to define the unit of sale as the megajoule.

LPG is currently sold on a mass basis and will probably remain so, prices being quoted in terms of kilograms and tonnes rather than pounds and tons.


Power ratings of appliances are expected to be expressed in watts, bring­ ing these into line with electrical appliances, and other machinery which will be similarly · rated.

Electricity In the electricity supply industry, sale of energy by the kilowatt hour is current international practice. In the absence of any overseas move to adopt the megajoule (MJ) as the unit of electrical energy, the optional use of the kilowatt hour (= 3.6 MJ) is likely to be continued for this pur­ pose. In this case the problem of meter conversion will not arise and no

consumer education will be necessary in this field. The Electricity Generation and Distribution Sector Committee which draws its membership from the Electricity Supply Association of Australia has produced a draft programme for conversion. It envisages some major design work commencing in metric terms early in 1972, with construction work being mainly metric by 1976.

Petroleum The Petroleum Products Sector Committee has produced a draft pro­ gramme, broadly based on that for the British petroleum industry. Dates have been set somewhat later than those in Britain so that Australia may

take advantage of work done in Britain, and obtain spare parts, conversion kits, etc. after Britain's conversion is complete. The programme envisages conversion taking place in the years 1974-1976. From the refinery to the consumer, petroleum products are expected to be sold by the cubic metre and litre (volume) and by the kilogram and

tonne (mass). At the retail end, fuel pumps will have to be converted to enable petrol and oil sales by the litre.

Solid Fuel A conversion programme for the coal industry is being developed by relevant industry committees. Other solid fuels such as coke and wood are of diminishing importance for household heating and conversion will be simple as sales will continue to be mainly on a mass basis , in terms of tonnes and kilograms rather than tons and hundredweights.

6.11 Land and Surveying Current indications are that land surveying, survey plan drafting, map­ ping and allied activities will be among the first to convert to metric measurements. Conversion in these areas will have a resultant impact on agriculture, construction and property development. Conversion will, of course, depend on prior conversion of relevant legislation. Some areas, such

as geodetic surveying and national mapping, have been converted now for some time. The Land and Surveying Sector Committee has members nominated by the Surveyors Boards of Australia, the National Mapping Council, the



Institute of Surveyors Australia, Land Titles Offices, the Commonwealth Institute of Valuers, the Real Estate and Stock Institute of Australia and the Law Council of Australia. It reports, through its chairman, to the Land, Fuel, Power and Public Services Advisory Committee.

A draft conversion programme has been prepared and submitted to the surveying profession, titles officers and Local Government organisations for comment. Indications are that all surveying and plan lodgment could be in metric units by the end of 1972. For this to be feasible metric survey­ ing equipment (tapes, staves, etc.) must be available early in 1972. No change from the existing system of angular measurement of degrees, minutes and, if desired, seconds is contemplated.

Liaison is being maintained between the Land and Surveying and the Mining and Metallurgy Sector Committees in regard to surveying for min­ ing purposes.

6.12 Health Dental, medical, pharmaceutical and veterinary services are already largely operating in the metric system. This has followed the adoption of these units in the national formulary for Commonwealth Pharmaceutical Benefits in 1965. The British Pharmacopoeia is in metric units. Not only is all extemporaneous dispensing and the packaging of drugs now in these units, but most hospitals measure body weight in kilograms, height in centi­ metres and temperature in Celsius degrees. Australians take their medicine by the millilitre instead of the fluid ounce and buy pharmaceuticals by the gram. The drug manufacturing companies use the metric system almost exclusively.

Members of the medical, pharmaceutical and veterinary professions have been appointed to the Health and Recreation Advisory Committee to advise on residual aspects of metrication in these areas, e.g. the conversion of anthropometric data, education of the public to the measurement of clinical temperatures in Celsius degrees and the conversion of baby health centres, health studios and some medical equipment. These matters are receiving attention.

6.13 Recreation Metric conversion in the field of recreation will be a highly significant factor in the metric education of the nation since most Australians have a keen interest in some form of sport.

The Health and Recreation Advisory Committee is currently contacting relevant organisations to encourage them to give consi deration to how and when conversion should be effected in the sport or recreation they represent. Where desired assistance is being provided in planning the change, e.g. by suggesting appropriate conversions of imperial to metric measurements.


Professional Sport All sporting organisations have pledged their support to the Board and have indicated that no major obstacles stand in the way of a smooth con­ version to the metric system. Many professional or semi-professional sports have international affiliations, such as water skiing and pistol shooting, and

are already using metric measurements. The Inter-Dominion Trotting Confer­ ence has adopted 1 August 1973 as the date for conversion to the use of metric measurements for all trotting events. This date is expected to be used by horse racing and greyhound racing authorities as the target date for the conversion

of their respective sports. The football codes are expected to convert before the 1973 season. Cricket authorities are having incorporated in the next printing of the international laws of cricket the metric equivalents of weights and measurements.

Amateur Sport As the majority of amateur sports are directly linked with the Inter­ national Olympic Federation, these present no problems and conversion should be effected before the end of 1972. Many of the sports, such as

athletics , swimming and cycling are already usi ng the standard Olympic metric measurements.

Youth Activities Many major youth groups such as the Scouting Movement have hand­ books and tests which involve various units of measurement. The Board is currently advising such groups of the implications of conversion and is pro­

viding assistance as appropriate.

6.14 Public Services The term 'public services' embraces the relevant activities of State and Commonwealth departments, Statutory Authorities and Local Governments.

To help plan and co-ordinate conversion within Government departments and instrumentalities the Commonwealth and each State Government has established an Interdepartmental Committee for Metric Conversion. Liaison between the States is furthered through a States' Committee for Metric Con­

version, on which each of the State committees has a nominee. The Chairman of the States' Committee is a member of the Board, as is also the Chaim1an of the Commonwealth Interdepartmental Co-ordinating Committee .

Water and Sewerage The programme for conversion of the water supply, sewerage and irri ga­ tion industries is being prepared by the Water and Sewerage Sector Com­ mittee, whose members have been drawn from the Water Commissions and similar authorities in Australia. Draft timetables have been prepared for water supply, irrigation and sewerage and are being circulated to the industries for comment.



As in other industries, the preparation of metric standards is a key item in the timetable. The committee has advised the SAA of those standards which require amendment and has indicated priorities for such amendment. Simi­ larly, a schedule of relevant legislation is being compiled and will, on com­ pletion, be forwarded to the States' Committee for attention. The units to be used for particular classes of measurement have been given detailed considera­ tion. Domestic consumers will, after conversion, be billed in terms of kilolitres. Conversion of consumer billing is likely to occur in mid-1973 .

Other Services The majority of public services (e.g. police forces) are within the aegis of the respective interdepartmental committees. Local Government services such as garbage services and the control of parks and reserves are within the scope of the Public Administration Sector Committee, which draws its mem­ bership from State Public Services, the Local Government Association and the Institute of Municipal Administration .

There appear to be few significant problems for the committee, although liaison with other committees in such fields as building and engineering will be of vital concern to local government. The major activities of the committee are expected to be associated with the amendment of regulations, ordinances and by-laws.

6.15 Service Industries The nature of a number of commercial and other activities which are of major significance to the community is such that they will not be greatly involved in metric conversion. However, by virtue of the services they provide to the community in general and to the consumer in particular, the co­ operation and assistance of those concerned with these activities will be essen­ tial to the smooth implementation of metric conversion. Accordingly, two Sector Committees have been established under the Consumer Goods and Service Industries Advisory Committee to assis t the integration of these ser­ vices into the overall program of conversion.

The Financial and Commercial Activities Sector Committee, representa­ tive of banking, insurance, accountancy, stock exchanges, trustee and finance activities, stands ready to provide necessary expertise and assistance in fa cili ­ tating metric conversion.

The Personal Services Sector Committee is actively communicating with direct consumer service areas such as hairdressers , dry cleaners, launderers and funeral directors as well as important women's organisations, to keep them informed of conversion developments and to offer the Board's assistance with any conversion problems that arise.

6.16 Public Education As was the case in the decimal currency change the proper preparation of the general public and of particular sectors of the community for metric


changes is crucial to the successful implementation of conversion programmes. However, although the change is more complex than was that for currency it will have a less intense impact on the public because it will occur over a much longer period with no single M day. Correspondingly the public education

programme will need to be spread over several years with peaks of activity as particular M days approach but at no time will public education need to approach the intensity associated with 'C' day.

Although conversion will ultimately affect everyone to some extent the transitional period is still principally in the planning stage; extensive imple­ mentation is not expected before 1973. In the first phase the targets for th e dissemination of information are the key personnel in business, industry and government departments and in related activities such as education and

research, on whom the main executive role of conversion will fall.

A 26 page booklet entitled 'Metric Conversion for Australia' was issued in June 1971. This sets out the basis of Australia's decision to convert and is intended to give preliminary guidance to those who will prepare and supervise conversion in their particular sectors. Over 100,000 copies have been dis­ tributed, principally through Chambers of Manufactures and Commerce, trade and professional associations, banks and the like. A copy has been sent to

every school in the Commonwealth.

The second phase of public education will be to build up a general public awareness of conversion as it will affect the man in the street, through articles in the daily press, public addresses, posters, brochures for public distribution and so on. However, because of the diverse nature of conversion it has been concluded that public information programmes will be most effective when

directed to specific targets.

As the details of conversion programmes in different sectors are worked out information campaigns will be directed to specific areas in accordance with the programme timetable. Metric conversion is expected to begin to make significant impact on the public from the early months of 1972 and this will

be paralleled by appropriate public educational activities.

The proposals include the issue of a monthly newsletter to Australian newspapers, periodicals and other media. Brochures related to conversion plans in particular sectors of the community will also be issued.

In planning its public in formation policy the Board has the assistance of a Public Relations Advisory Committee which includes senior nominees of the major news media and the Director of the Australian News and Informa­ tion Bureau.

Media representatives, au thorities on industrial training and many other groups have indicated a willingness to assist with the Board's overall informa­ tion programmes. The Board is co-operating fully with these groups.



7. METRIC UNITS OF MEASUREMENT 7.1 The International System of Units Section 3 of the Metric Conversion Act 1970 provides that for the purpose of the Act, namely the progressive adoption of the metric system of measure­ ment throughout Australia as the sole system of measurement of physical quantities, 'metric system of measurement' means measurement in terms of-

( a) the units comprised in the International System of Units for the time being approved by the General Conference on Weights and Measures; (b) units decimally related to those units and for the time being so

approved; and (c) such other units as the Minister declares, from time to time by notice published in the Gazette, to be within the metric system . The General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM) referred to in the Act is the governing body of the International Bureau of Weights and Measures, established in 1875 under the Metric Convention to maintain and improve the units on which the metric system is based. The United Kingdom became an adherent to this convention in 1885 and Australia in 1947; there are in all 43 adherent nations.

Having regard to certain weaknesses in the metric system as it had developed over the years the CGPM in 1948 resolved to refine th e exi sting system to obtain a practical system of units suitable for international use. This led to the adoption by the CGPM in 1960 of the International System of Un its,

with the abbreviation 'SI'. This system is still being refined but its advantages are such that many countries which have been using the older units have changed or are changing to the new system. This is also th e system bein g adopted by the countries currently changing to metric units such as the United Kingdom , South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.

The International System of Units comprises a set of six base units, so me supplementary units for angular measurement and derived units. A striking advantage of SI over the older system is that there is only one SI unit for each physical quantity and there are no odd multiplying factors to be remembered. Some of the units have special names (e.g the joule, the watt) for others the names are derived from the units comprising them (e. g. the metre per second) .

In addition to the SI unit for any physical quantity there is a range of other units available which are decimal multiples or submultiples of the SI unit. The names of each of these is obtained by combining a prefix with the name of the unit, the same prefix being always used for a particular decimal multiple. It is to these decimal multiples that (b) in Section 3 of the Metri c Conve rsio n Act refers.

The provision (c ) of Section 3 of the Act takes cognisa nce of th e fac t th at some units which are not decimally related to basic ST units are of such significance that their continued use is necessary. Notable examples are the minute and hour of time interval and the degree, minute and second of angul ar measurement. Other non-SI units such as th e nautical mile ( 1852 metres) are


the subject of international agreements so their use must be continued for particular applications. There are other non-SI units for which it would seem to be in the public interest to make provision, such as the kilometre per hour for car speeds, where the SI unit would be the metre per second.

The Board and its committees are carefully examining all submissions made recommending the acceptance, by Ministerial notification in the Gazette, o f non-SI units.

Special names of SI units which are being recommended by the Board for general use include the litre, the tonne ( 1000 kilograms) and the hectare ( 10,000 square metres). The millibar has been recommended for the measure­ ment of pressure for meteorological purposes only, because of international

meteorological practice. Non-SI units recommended for restricted use include the nautical mile and knot for marine and aerial navigation and the kilowatt hour for the measurement of electrical energy.

7 .2 Commonwealth Legal Units The metric units of measurement as defined under the Metric Conversion Act must, in general, also be Commonwealth legal units of measurement under the Weights and Measures (National Standards) Act 1960-1966 if contracts and other transactions expressed in terms of them are to be valid.

The Weights and Measures (National Standards) Regulations define a great m any imperial and metric units. The Board is collaborating with the National Standards Commission which has the responsibility of advising the Minister with regard to weights and measures on all matters affecting units. In particu­

lar, attention is being given to metric units not presently prescribed as Com­ monwealth legal units of measurement which the Board consid ers are needed and to metric units presently prescribed which the Board does not consider should be continued as Commonwealth legal units.

It is not proposed that any imperial units should be discontinued as Com­ monwealth legal units at this stage unless they have already fallen into disuse.

7.3 Units Recommended for Use The Board and its committees have given particular attention to the metric units which should be recommended both for general use and for specific pur­ poses. The policy of the Board is to retain the benefits of the inherent sim­ plicity of the SI units to the greatest possible extent, while recognis in g th 2t

some additional units will be required for convenience in trade, technology and everyday use. A non-SI unit or a special name for a unit will only be recommended where there is a clear need for such a unit or name and prefer­ ence will be given to the use of decimal multiples and submultiples related to

the basic unit by powers of 1000. Thus for measurement of volumes of liquids the litre will be the commonly used unit with its decimal submultiple the millilitre (1 / 1000) for smaller volumes. No need is seen for the use of th e centilitre (1 / 1 00) or the decilitre (1/ 10) .



By avoiding the unnecessary proliferation of special unit names it is believed that the range of units needed for everyday use will only involve com­ binations of about 10 unit names with five prefixes. More than half of these 15 words are already in common use.

In most sectors of activity there are types of measurement which are of particular concern to the sector. Thus the builder will be concerned with measurements of length, area and volume, the surveyor with length, area and angle and the pharmacist with mass and volume. As appropriate each Sector Committee is being asked to select from the units available those recom­ mended for general or particular use in that sector. Thus the building and construction industry have recommended their length measurements be made and expressed only in millimetres and metres (not in centimetres) whereas the clothing industry favours the use of the centimetre. It is proposed to publish documents to give guidance on the usage proposed in regard to units for sectors of activity as appropriate. In important cases these may be formalised

as SAA standards.


Education and


Chairman; 1.0. G. Glastonbury

I Sector Committees . I Pnmary Education Secondary Education Tertiary Education (University) Tertiary Education (Non­ University) Technical Education Industrial Training Adult Education Primary


Chairman; F.1. McAvoy

Sector Committees I

Grains and Seeds


Beef, Mutton and Lamb


Poultry and Eggs

Tropical Fruits



Pome, Stone, Berry Fruits




Game Furskin and Miscellaneous

Agricultural Machinery

Dairy Product.! (With Consumer Goods and Service


10490/72-(R71/ 1809)

Consumer Goods and Service Industries

Chairman; G . M. Hastie

Sector Committees I

Packaging Materi als

Packaged Goods

Bread and Pastry

Beverages and Licensed Premises



Meat Products

Household Utensils and Equipment

Financial and Commercial Activit y

Personal Services

Wholesaling and Retailing (Large)

Wholesaling and Reta iling (Other)

Dairy Products (With Primary


Engineering Industry

Chairman; 1. D . Norgard

Sector Committees I

Mining and Metallurgy

Iron and Steel

Non Ferrous Meta ls

Fabricated Metal Products

Automotive Engineering

Ship Building

Locomotive and Rolling Stock

Aeronautical Enginee ring

Electronics and Electrical Engineering

Machine and Machine Tools

Chemical Engineering





Building and Construction

Chairman; Sir Albert Jennings

I Sector Committees I Government Construction Civil Engineering and Architecture Building Building Supply Industrial


Chairman; C. R . Bunning

Sector Committees I



Paper, Pulp and Printing

Non Metallic Industrial Materials

Plastic, Chemicals and Petroleum Derivatives

Rubber and Allied Products

Science and Technology

Chairman; A . F . A.


I Sector Committees I Research and Technology Meteorological Services Instruments Flowmeters Weights and Measures Units Transport and Land, Fuel,

Communications Power and Public Services

Chairman; Chairman;

N.N. J . H . Watson


I Sector Sector Committees Committees I I Road Petroleum Transport Products Railway Electricity Transport Generation and Distribution Water Transport Gas Production Air Transport Water and Sewerage Storage Land and Communica· Surveying tions Public Automotive Administration Services Health and


Chairman; Dame Mabel Miller

Sector Committee, I




Professional Sport

Amateur Sport


Youth Activities

Public Relations

Chairman; J.D. Norgard


N (51