House of Assembly: Vol2 - WEDNESDAY 27 FEBRUARY 1985
Mr Chairman, the hon member for Port Elizabeth Central suggested yesterday that there should be a separation of the Railways and the Airways, as concerns run by the SA Transport Services. Of course, I do not agree with him. I agree with the hon member for De Kuilen when he says that the SA Transport Services, with their present arrangement work very well at the moment. I think therefore that we should simply allow things to continue as they are.
Furthermore, it is clear to me that the hon the Minister is in the process of choking the passenger services of the SA Transport Services to death. On the one hand he has thrown open the facilities on trains, and in going so chased away all the supporters of the passenger services. On the other hand he certainly has not utilized the increased fares in order to promote the popularity of the passenger services. In my opinion just the opposite is true, viz that fewer and fewer people are making use of the mainline passenger services. We have statistics available for the period April to November of last year, which indicate that the number of mainline passengers decreased by 10% as against the number during the corresponding period of the previous year. I believe that that percentage will now be much higher, even, than that because travellers do not want to have put up with a situation of enforced integration.
Hear, hear! [Interjections.]
Furthermore, travellers can no longer afford to travel long distances by train. When the fuel price was raised earlier this year we expected the hon the Minister to seize the opportunity to try to attract passengers to travel by train. But what happened then? Only a few days later he came up with an average increase in fares of 22%. First class fares were raised by as much as 30%. In that way he is again driving away potential passengers. People are once more resorting to going by car because after the last increase in passenger fares, it is once again cheaper for two or more people to travel by car than by train, especially over long distances.
I should like to know from the hon the Minister what passenger resistance was caused by the increase in tariffs of 6 February this year. What resistance of this did kind he expect beforehand? What is the actual passenger resistance at present? Furthermore, I should be obliged if the hon the Minister could give us an indication of the percentage utilization with reference to the major mainline passenger services. I should also like to enquire of him what has been done to improve this utilization over the past 2 years, and what the result of that utilization was.
The fact is that the losses on passenger services are increasing at an alarming rate. That increase, for this year alone, amounted to R890 million. However, the hon the Minister proceeds to expand this service, and I am now referring to the fact that he said the railway to Khayelitsha must be built. I should now like to ask the hon the Minister whether building of this railway line has already been commenced. Can the hon the Minister reply to me on that score? [Interjections.] The building of the railway line has obviously not yet been begun. Does the hon the Minister have available yet a figure with reference to the cost of this project?
The railway line will cost R62 million.
I do not want to blame the hon the Minister for this situation, which means the creation of another service that runs at a loss, but the Government of the day is the issue here. In my opinion the settlement of Black people in the Peninsula was not necessary. Nor is it in the interests of the White and Coloured people in the Peninsula. Nevertheless, the creation of another service that will run at a loss is going ahead because the State is now going to make a contribution. However, we know that it will be the taxpayer who will have to cough up for this. The taxpayers, as productive people, are slowly becoming fed up with being forced to carry unproductive people. There are too many disorderly, unproductive people in our country who want to share in the convenience of prosperity but are not prepared to work for it. The hon members here in the back benches of the NP are in favour of the taxpayer in South Africa’s having to contribute constantly to the support of these stone-throwers, these unproductive people. They approve of this because after all, it is those people’s viewpoint these days. One would sooner expect such a view from the members on the side of the PFP.
My contention is that the railway line to Khayelitsha would not have been necessary had we had a Government that adhered to its previous principles and policy of separate development. But what do we find now? We find that today’s Government no longer wants to govern—it has become weak at the knees. It is a Government that has performed a somersault, a Government whose Cape leader went to the NP Congress in 1978, after discussion of a motion in the Head Council and said, with reference to the motion that had been introduced here …
In what year was this?
It was in 1978. Was the hon member not there? I was there.
In 1978 the Leader of the NP in the Cape said that the Western Cape was the traditional home of the Whites and the Coloureds. He went on to say that historically, it is the area where they lived originally. This is why he approached the congress with certain motions. Among these motions, which were unanimously accepted by the Congress, was the following:
The motion went on: “Die kongres versoek die Regering dat die huurpagwetgewing nie in Wes-Kaapland toegepas sou word nie.”
The huge influx of Black people was also discussed at the Congress. Certain other resolutions were adopted by the Congress. Among other things it was resolved that repatriation should follow conviction in the case of Blacks who were here illegally. But what is happening today? The Congress further resolved that where the Government granted concessions and quotas, it was undesirable that Black labour be used. The Congress also said that the recruitment of contract labour in Black states …
Order! I think the hon member should get a little closer to the topic of transport services and perhaps link his argument to that.
Yes, Mr Chairman, I am just referring here to the somersault the Government has performed. If the Government did not turn a somersault with regard to its policy, the railway line under discussion would not have been necessary.
Furthermore, I want to point out that it has been said that recruitment of contract labour in the Black states may not take place while there is unemployment among the Coloureds. I want to know whether there is not unemployment among the Coloureds in the Western Cape. Is there no unemployment among Whites in the Peninsula? Is there no unemployment among Whites in Port Elizabeth? This same leader, six years later, was reported in Die Burger of 27 September 1984 because he then moved exactly the opposite motion to that of six years previously, and I now quote from that newspaper report:
By this time we already know what the other identified areas are and, as we heard yesterday, Crossroads is one of them.
Of course, along with this the system of White and Coloured labour preference is being abolished in the area. It is a total somersault and I want to know where we will stand with this Government in a year’s time.
I want to exchange a few ideas on the South West Africa railway line. It is not clear why the railway assets necessary to provide rail and road services in South West are already to be transferred to the Government of South West Africa on 1 April 1985. The hon the Minister said in his speech that this was in accordance with policy, but there is no motivation for that step. I believe this matter should rather be left at that until the future of South West has been finally decided. Perhaps the hon the Minister will then find that it was premature to have made such arrangements at this early stage. One thinks especially of the SATS staff in South West Africa. Here, where the SATS is going to be the contractor from now on, the staff will probably be obliged to stay on, whereas I am aware that they would be offered the option of returning to the Republic once the takeover was arranged.
It seems to me also that this is a case of putting the cart before the horse, since one would expect the financial arrangements to be finalized first. I am now speaking of the compensation for losses suffered by the contractor—ie the SATS. According to the indication given by the hon the Minister, these arrangements will still have to be settled by the Administrator General on the one side and the Department of Finance and the SATS on the other. Once again I want to know who will be paying in this case.
I want to exchange a few thoughts on the working deficit. It is as well that the hon the Minister has decided to budget for a deficit of R192 million on the working account. In this way a further rates adjustment was avoided. In recent years the SATS has really worked wonders in conjuring away deficits by way of economy measures, of which the reduction of staff is of course the most important. For this reason I accept that there are probably already sufficient reasons for the deficit to be eradicated because I do not believe that the authorities are going to carry over this deficit into a new trading period.
In connection with the improvement in productivity I want to say that this is an aspect one should look at, but unfortunately time does not allow me to elaborate on this at any length. I do, though, want to mention one minor point in this connection. The number of staff has decreased, but of course this is not always necessarily a saving, nor does it always lead to an increase in productivity. If work previously done departmentally—for example, the maintenance of vehicles—is given out under contract to private bodies, it can hardly be regarded as an increase in productivity. In the same way, if labour-intensive locomotives are replaced by fuel-intensive diesel locomotives, surely we cannot talk of a saving in staff? I therefore want to ask the hon the Minister to see to it that the reduction of temporary personnel be approached judiciously. We must remember that in 1933, at the time of the Depression, there was a time when people with degrees worked with pick and shovel on the Railways. At that time the Railways provided for the poor people—and everyone was poor at that time—the whole country.
That was another sort of government.
The hon member said it was another sort of government, but there was also a depression.
The SATS must be careful not to become the instrument that leaves people in the lurch in future. I am not against raising the earnings of staff systematically; on the contrary, I trust that relief for the employees of the SATS will come quickly. Nor am I against people of various races receiving the same remuneration for the same work, but then there must be a condition: They must be on the same level of productivity. White workers are being discriminated against in this respect. The neglect of this principle will have disastrous consequences for the SATS and the country as a whole.
It has become the fashion in South Africa to increase wages without expecting an equivalent increase in productivity. The taxpayers of South Africa can no longer afford to maintain unproductive, work-shy people, people who throw stones and run amok.
Mr Chairman, unfortunately I do not have the unlimited time of the hon member who has just resumed his seat. As a result I do not have time to go into all the points he mentioned. I want to begin, however, by telling him that we believe, as he does, in equal pay for equal work. That is our policy too, and it is not a new statement that he is propounding at all.
We also believe that productivity, purposeful management and efficiency should form the basis. It is true, however, that the SATS has no alternative—if all these things are done—other than to raise tariffs when necessary, as has been the case this year. I do not think the hon the Minister enjoys raising the tariffs. When, however, tariffs are much too low and the provision of a service is not a paying proposition, the hon the Minister has no choice but to do so.
The staff of the SATS are loyal supporters of the Government and its policy, and have always been. The CP’s gossiping and scare-mongering will not make our people lose faith. The CP carried on quite recklessly in Primrose with its gossip-mongering about integration on the trains. They suppressed the fact, however, that the Act was passed in 1975 on the grounds of a report of a select committee of which a certain Mr Fanie Herman—I wonder if the hon members do not know that person very well—was the chairman. Mr Thomas Langley, the hon member for Soutpansberg, and Mr Frank le Roux, the hon member for Brakpan, were members of this select committee. This Act made provision for the sharing of facilities where own facilities did not exist. The need for dining facilities for people of colour does not, after all, exist only in hotels, having also spread to our mainline trains.
One does not need to say “shame” to that. On 2 December 1977 the then Minister of Transport, Mr Lourens Muller—in which party is he today?—decided to open the lounge and dining facilities of the Blue Train to all passengers, regardless of race or colour. Later this was extended to the Drakensberg. Still later former Minister Muller also took certain decisions, on an ad hoc basis, about the lounge and dining facilities for people of colour on other trains. After all, people who pay the same fares should be treated in the same way, and dining facilities on trains cannot be duplicated. A proper re-arrangement of the dining cars completely solved the problem of the so-called integration, about which the hon members are carrying on about. It is a problem which no longer exists at all. The NP and this Government will protect the interests of the Whites and people of colour and will try to eliminate friction and maintain good relations as far as it is able. The party has made this its goal and the hon member need have no fear that this party will follow the integration policy about which there is so much hedging in his amendment.
Last year we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the SA Airways. It was a fine year of wonderful achievement. This year we have the privilege of organizing the 75th anniversary of the SATS. I should like to add my congratulations to those already expressed. My hearty congratulations and thanks for everything they have done go to our hon Minister, to Dr Grové and his team and to all the members of the SATS.
I have also been charged by my group to extend a special word of thanks to the Board of the SATS for the work it is doing. Mr Erasmus, Mr Aucamp and Mr Albertyn have an exceptional responsibility and did not obtain their positions simply because they were good and capable NP MP’s. They were very good MP’s—we all know that and we all agree—but they obtained these positions because they were competent and knowledgeable advisers to the Minister. Their interest in transport services can in no way be regarded as suspect. The way in which they manage the interests of the Republic and its development is significant. The way in which they identify with the weal and the woe of the staff of the SATS is beyond reproach and we thank them for that and for everything else they do.
†They are regularly called upon to deal with policy matters and matters relating to the administration and the working of all the branches of the SATS. Any proposal relating to the construction of harbours, new harbour works, railway lines, etc, must be considered by them. We regularly receive reports on these matters in Parliament. They are consulted on legislation pertaining to the SATS. They have a large and very heavy workload. During 1984 they adopted 647 resolutions at 40 special and regular meetings. On no fewer than 65 occasions they were called together to discuss policy matters prior to proposals and recommendations being made to the Minister.
*That is why I say these men have a special and unique, but also essential function of ensuring the smooth operation, efficiency and the profitability of the SATS. Without them there cannot be any progress, and we thank them for their sacrifices and service to South Africa and to the SATS. The annual report of the SATS Board and the Annual Report of the SATS contain valuable information, are tasteful publications and ought to be on everyone’s shelf.
If we look at the history of the SATS, we can see that in reality we are dealing here with a success story, a success story of growth, development and progress, and also of service over a period of 75 years. South Africa’s development in the spheres of agriculture, mining, and industry would be unthinkable without the role played by the SATS. I do not want to elaborate on the historic background any further; others will do so, and it has been done by others before me. I shall content myself with what I have said. I want to say, however, that when I think of the SATS, I think of it as the team that is right on target. In saying this, I am thinking of the exceptional training program which the SATS provides and in terms of which it trains our people as does no other body I can think of. Nor do I want to elaborate any further on training; there will be others amongst us who will do so. I simply wanted to mention it.
If I say that the SATS is right on target, I am also thinking of housing. I know of no other body that has a better housing scheme than the SATS. I know of no other company that does more to give its people housing than the SATS—hostel facilities for Whites, hostel facilities for Blacks and people of colour; no other body comes near them. I say that the SATS is right on target and it remains on target.
I am thinking, for example, of the Metroblitz. Where on earth is there a train that can use such a narrow gauge line and can travel on it at the speed of the Metroblitz? It is an exceptional feat of engineering for which we are grateful to our engineers. I am also thinking of the new commuter services, and the new buses. Then there is the fact that our railway lines are already electrified to a great extent, and the way in which our rails have been welded together. All these factors encourage me to say that the SATS is right on target. In addition I think of the high-stability bogie, and how did we handle containerization?
Recently I had the privilege of paying a visit to Sentrarand’s marshalling yard. If there is one place I can recommend hon members to visit, if they want to see what can be done and what is being done by the SATS, it is Sentrarand. I think we can recommend to our hon the Minister that he arrange such an excursion.
Suffice it to say that it is a great comfort that the SATS, with so few people is successfully helping us to resolve the problems of South Africa’s vast distances, and yet is achieving a high measure of productivity. There is another matter I should dearly like to mention. I should like to dwell on a matter which is very dear to me. I have a tour brochure here which is being distributed in the USA at the moment and which is part of a very intensive campaign to attract tourists to South Africa. The name of the brochure is “South Africa: Gateway to a Continent”, and in the short time at my disposal I want to quote a short piece from the introduction, which reads as follows:
The point I want to make is that the introduction was written and signed by Steve Donnelly, the Manager: North America, of SA Airways. The introduction was co-signed by the Manager of Satour in the USA, who incidentally is my son. My reason for mentioning this brochure is that it is proof of what can be done if there is co-operation. I am extremely grateful that Satour and SA Airways could get together to do this work. Southern Suns and other hotel groups are also joining forces in an effort to achieve any measure of success at all in that powerful country. We cannot do it individually. Neither Satour nor the SA Airways can do it on their own, but if we act in concert, as in this case, we can achieve a great deal.
Mr Chairman, I should like to associate the NRP with the congratulations expressed to the SATS on its 75th anniversary. I also want to convey the thanks of this party to the management and staff who have contributed over the years to the good service the organization has given South Africa. I include the present management and staff, as well as those who have retired in the interim after making their contribution.
As far as the hon member for Kempton Park is concerned, I just want to tell him that I am beginning to wonder which one of the Railway Board’s members is going to retire, because the hon member’s eulogy to the Board obviously suggests that there will be a vacancy one of these days. [Interjections.]
†It is probably going to take me a few months to catch up on the eight-year gap during which I have not spoken in this debate, but I am glad to see that many of the ideas which I advocated when I did speak for this party, have been adopted, although some of them only very recently. It takes about five years after one puts over a good idea before the Government carries it out. Let me give some examples. There is the question of concession fares for national servicemen. The hon the Minister will remember how I pleaded for that over the years, both in writing and in this House. Then there is the introduction of the equivalent of Eurororail and various other attractions to attract passengers to mainline passenger services. We welcome those changes. We shall go on making constructive suggestions, and the hon the Minister and his management will, no doubt, listen to them and in due course introduce them as their own.
I noticed a change immediately when I came to study these documents, that is both in the form and the detail of the information which is available to members. I do not suggest that there is any deliberate attempt to camouflage or hide facts. I realize that it is simply a matter of easier administration and less trouble. However, a great deal of the detail which we used to get in regard to the administration of the SATS, is no longer available. This does weight the scales against Parliamentary scrutiny and criticism. One has now to fish for information or ask questions in order to glean information, whereas it used to be available in various reports. I am talking about criticism and study by a layman who is not involved in the administration itself. By the time one got the documents and had them in one’s hands, it was too late to get the information that one needed to form a full picture.
Let me give an example. Nowhere in any of the accounts or documents that we have before us, can one relate the details of expenditure to the details of revenue for any particular aspect of a service. It can be done generally for Railways, for Airways or for Pipelines, but expenditure cannot be related to, for instance, passenger services, as opposed to revenue which is detailed. One cannot relate detailed expenditure to goods services or to any aspect of goods services. A globular amount is given.
Let us take Harbours. I have studied all these documents. I have gone through every one of these, and nowhere can I find the individual profit or loss on specific harbours. Only another globular figure is given. I should like to ask the hon the Minister whether it is correct that Richards Bay has shown a loss every year since it was opened. Or is it not true? One cannot find that information in any of the documents. If I missed it, I shall be glad to be shown where the specific accounts for specific harbours are recorded.
The same applies to South West Africa. We have heard in this debate that SWA is going to take over the administration of the services there. We have heard what it costs the SATS to run those services in SWA. We had a commission appointed to advise the Administrator-General. Yet the administration has no account at all for SWA. There is no separate account which records the details of revenue and expenditure specifically for the South West sector. They claim to do it from their general accounts. The same applies to passenger services. They produce figures from their accounts. However, there is no access to them by Parliament which has to scrutinize them. One has to fish around for information because there are no specific accounts for these services.
I do not pretend and I will never pretend to be a financial wizard or whizzkid or anything like that. My approach will possibly be slightly different because I do know people and I am concerned about people and their problems. I believe that one of the tasks of this Parliament is to consider the effects of a vast undertaking like the Railways on people and their problems, its customers as well as on its staff and their problems. There must also be fair play for the people in their employ. Equally so, there must be fair play in respect of the customer. This must be related to the fulfilment of the national responsibility of the SATS towards South Africa and its economy. It is in measuring the fulfilment of this responsibility that I move the following further amendment:
- (1) heavy tariff increases place a severe strain on the already stretched resources of passenger train users and on certain categories of goods;
- (2) it will further fuel inflation; and
- (3) it fails to provide adequate relief for pre-1973 Railway pensioners.”.
I believe that these three claims can be made, and I want to deal with some of them.
I find it difficult to relate the SATS policy to some of these factors. They are not a supermarket or a hypermarket which, because it has a slow seller, simply takes that item off the shelf and stops selling it. Neither can it drop a product because it is only showing marginal profit. The SATS is the national carrier of South Africa and, as such, it has a national responsibility. It is a vast industry.
I have always fought and will continue to do so with the Administration and the hon the Minister for the underwriting of uneconomic services by the Central Revenue Fund. I believe it is only fair and equitable that if the national interest requires an uneconomic or semi-economic service to be rendered, the taxpayers as a whole should pay for it. However, that does not seem to be the policy of the Government. If it loses money in some sector, it does not try to increase its turnover. It simply discontinues the service. Take for example the question of branch lines and the number taken out of use. I am trying to obtain some information in this regard. I hope I shall be able to get it in time, although I do admit that my question in this regard was late. Passenger services, except where essential, are reduced. There is now talk of discontinuing the Orange Express. I want to appeal to the hon the Minister in the interests of Natal that if he has to confine the service to one train per week let him do so but he must not discontinue the only direct service between Natal and the Cape. I do not think that this would be fair. I also think that there are other ways of dealing with this problem.
I say that the SATS is an industry, and every industrialist knows that there are fixed and variable costs, and that there is also a break-even point below which one loses money and above which one cover one’s overheads and gets a bread and butter return. However, once one passes that breakeven point, one starts making a contribution to overheads as well, and eventually one reaches the point where one can put some jam on one’s bread and butter. The philosophy of the SATS is that if something does not pay, one simply raises tariffs to try to bring about a balance. The end result of it all is that one kills the goose that lays the golden egg. The SATS has priced itself out of livestock transport, it is pricing out the Blue Train at the moment and it will price itself out of other traffic markets as well.
Let us look at the demands on passenger traffic. We have been told that in 1983-84 the SATS suffered a loss of R305 million on main line passenger services and R472 million on suburban passenger services. We have also been told that the breakdown is 65% variable cost on main line traffic and 55% on suburban. I do not question these figures because I must assume that they are correct. That means that on mainline traffic there is a loss of R359 million. At 65% of the cost the SATS show an overall profit of R54 million on “variable” costs; on “suburban” costs there is a loss of R109 million. As regards the total passenger services, therefore, the variable costs show a loss of R109 million less R54 million—ie R55m. There is a state contribution in compensation of R580 million. Therefore, a major contribution is made to overheads. The overheads are going to carry on, whether the trains run or not, whether there is one passenger or a thousand. Those overheads are basically financial charges, capital costs, etc—I do not have enough time to quote them. Those costs are still there. The result is that the fixed costs go on. Surely basic commonsense tells one that if one is even making a contribution to overheads, if one is covering one’s variables and making some contribution, then it is worthwhile carrying on. Instead one is always hearing that the passenger services of the SATS are a dead loss because they lose R900 million, so they simply push up the tariffs and increase the cost of first class tickets by 30%. That is not the correct approach. The approach should be a business approach. Let us make a contribution to overheads, provided we can cover our variables. That does not seem to me to be the approach that is being followed.
Passenger traffic makes up only 14% of all revenue-earning traffic. It earns R428 million out of the R2 900 million in revenue from Railways. I cannot understand why this should always be held up as a bogey, instead of paying more attention to action which will draw people into making use of the trains because they are more attractive.
As far as the transport of livestock is concerned, we are now going to have nearly 6 000 livestock wagons or cattle wagons standing around all over South Africa because the Railways have now practically priced themselves out of that market. That does not make sense to me.
I make no apology for the third leg of my amendment which deals with the pre-1973 pensioners. I thank the management for giving me the details. They did a brilliant calculation and I congratulate them on it. They have taken an equivalent grade in the month before the 1973 scheme changed to the old one—the last day of November 1973 and the first day of December 1973. Their figures show that, taking a base of 100, the ratio is 309 points, as against 337 after 1 December 1973; in other words, there is a difference of only 28 points between those two groups on the same salary at the same time. If one does not take the improvement formula into consideration, then in fact the pre-1973 group have a slight edge of 47 points. However, that is not a true picture of the situation. Who do they think they are bluffing? I challenge them to produce a schedule of a man in a particular grade who retired in 1960 and another who retired in 1970, and what his pension actually is in rands now. We do not want to hear about percentages; we want to know what his pension is in rands now, and compare it with exactly the same grade for a person who retired in January, 1984. Then we can see what the difference is. One cannot explain it to these people when there is R1 890,8 million in the Superannuation Fund. The Administration pays R422 million into that fund every year. There is a profit on income over expenditure of just on R200 million, and then one has to tell the people who retired 10 or 15 years ago that the Administration cannot afford to give them a pension that they can live on.
This sort of playing with statistics shows that the Government has moved away from contact with people. It has lost its feeling for people. In the search for a quick buck—the same as they do on the Airways—they give statistics but they forget the problems of the people. This is something that the pensioners do not deserve. We owe more to the people who built up our Railways over the years than to treat them as statistics, and to play with figures to show that the pensioners are better off than they should be.
I do not have time to deal with the interest that is being paid on SATS funds, but must point out that only 9,2% is being earned on the Superannuation Fund. The pensioners want to know why this figure cannot be bettered. Why is their money and the Administration’s money earning so little interest? They would like to know why they cannot have some of that new cake instead of being fed on the crumbs of the old cake, or the non-existent crumbs, as a hand-out from revenue. They look at this cake of nearly R2 billion and ask whether they cannot have just a little slice of it. I therefore appeal to the hon the Minister to reconsider this.
I do not have time to deal in detail with my last point, but I had a great flash of inspiration to solve the smoking problem on the South African Airways. I have just realized that we do not only have smoke pollution but that we also have fuel pollution, body odour pollution and germs in the air. I want to offer the SA Airways a world first. [Interjections.] I suggest that a plastic capsule filled with purified air be fitted into the aircraft. Anyone who does not want to breathe polluted air can sit in the purity of this capsule. Of course, they will have to pay a little extra because, after all, pollution costs money. If one sits in the business class, one may smoke because one pays R52 extra. Then it is not pollution and one is allowed to smoke. If one sits in the economy class it is a different matter.
I have all the figures. There are 23 seats on a 737 allocated to smokers while 90 seats are allocated to non-smokers where the ratio of smoking passengers to non-smoking passengers is 40:60. [Interjections.] However, instead of 40:60, 80% of the seats are allocated to non-smokers and 20% to smokers.
Now I am offering the non-smokers the ride of their lives. They can just pay R52 extra to sit in a plastic cocoon, breathing pure air, while the smokers can pollute their lungs as much as they like. [Interjections.] Think what this would do for South Africa: “A world first! Travel SA Airways and breathe pure air!” It will be a wonderful advertisement. All the hon member here, particularly the hon member for Hillbrow and all his noisy friends who treat this as a joke, could make use of this facility. The hon the Minister will, however, find out that this is not a joke, because I am hearing more and more from regular international travellers, from people who go overseas weekly or fortnightly, that if this is how the SA Airways is going to treat them on the inland flights where they are captive passengers, they are going to instruct their travel agents to send them overseas on other national airlines. I have heard this more than once during the past couple of weeks, and I have heard it from different people. [Interjections.]
The hon member is spoiling a good speech.
The hon the Minister must therefore be careful lest, in pandering to pressure groups, he drives away a section of his clientele who are loyal South Africans.
In conclusion I want to say that the staff have done a good job but, unfortunately, not good enough for us to support this appropriation.
Mr Chairman, I am sure many hon members know that it was the hon member for Durban Point who first got me interested in politics 15 or more years ago. In fact, when I first came to this House in 1974, he was the chairman of the Official Opposition’s Transport Group and I was his secretary. When he became leader of the NRP he appointed me as his chief spokesman on transport. So it was with a certain degree of trepidation that I learnt that I would be following him today. One thing I have learnt over the years, however, is that the hon member has quite a sense of humour and I think he ended his speech today on a somewhat humorous note.
However, he did move an amendment dealing with tariff increases and said that this placed a burden on the passenger and also that it fueled inflation. He also said that not enough was being done for the pensioners. He devoted the major part of his speech to that amendment but right at the end he did pay a compliment to the General Manager and the staff of the SATS for doing a good job over the past year.
Will you please read the amendment that you moved last year? [Interjections.]
There is no doubt that the hon the Minister and his staff have done a good job, so much so that the chief spokesman on Transport Affairs of the Official Opposition sung their praises yesterday when he spoke of the excellent endeavours of the staff over the past two or three years. I believe this is evident from the fact that while the national productivity increase of South Africa was shockingly enough, below 1% per annum—as it was last year—the SATS notched up a productivity increase of over 12%. I believe this is really an indication of the efforts that have been made by the staff of the SATS and should be an example to the other parastatal corporations which they should follow. This, I believe, does not only apply to Government corporations. The private sector should also sit up and take note of what has been achieved by the SATS over the past year.
When one examines why this has happened, one sees that it is as a result of those people in responsible positions from the General Manager in the top seat through his management levels right down to the men on the bench examining every cost centre over the past two or three years with a view to cutting costs so as to reduce costs and meet the challenges facing the South African economy at the present time. To achieve this at times took bold decision-making on the part of management, such as the scrapping of old and less economic rolling stock and withdrawing others from service so as to cut down maintenance costs at this crucial time when cost saving is all-important. Cost-saving committees looked at the scheduling of trains and at reducing the length and loads of certain trains so as to reduce the maximum power requirement of those trains thereby reducing the maximum demand tariff for electricity.
They also looked at the routing of aircraft in order to make use of the shortest possible routes. This, combined with other studies that examined even every item of equipment that is used on aircraft with a view to reducing the mass of the aircraft, and also sought the most economic cruising speed of that aircraft according to its prevailing mass and the flight conditions, resulted in a substantial fuel saving. We have also heard that the greater use of electric motive power by the Railways reduced costs, and we know that the tremendous reduction in staff must have resulted in an enormous reduction in the cost of operating the SATS as a whole. Therefore I do believe the General Manager and his staff are to be complimented.
I want particularly to talk about capital. I want to tell the hon member for Durban Point that I am going to come back to some of the things he said. I will do that in the latter part of my speech. He has, I think, raised some very interesting and important points.
The capital costs of SA Transport Services, however, have always been of great concern to me, and I was pleased to note that there had been a cutback in capital expenditure over the past three or four years. Hon members know how much I have always stressed this point regarding capital. I have always been afraid and I have always warned of the dangers of overcapitalizing transport services. It has also been my view for many years that the parastatal organizations of South Africa, which include the SATS, Escom, Iscor and others, were consuming far more than their fair share of the available development and investment capital of South Africa. Moreover, I believe this has been recognized by the Government. The fact that Escom has been investigated in this regard, and that we now also have an investigation pending in respect of the SA Transport Services, is proof of that recognition on the part of the Government. The facts show, however, that during the past four years capital expenditure in real terms has decreased by about 40% as far as the SA Transport Services are concerned. We must certainly give credit to those in the SATS who have been responsible for this achievement.
Be that as it may, however, it does raise the very complex question of the SA Transport Services’ real role in the South African economy, because one cannot cut expenditure in this way without ultimately expecting the services to suffer. Therefore I believe that we should have this investigation in order to establish how the SATS should be structured and financed, as well as to establish how it fits into the economy as a whole.
I too, like the hon member for Port Elizabeth Central, welcome the fact that the hon the Minister has seen fit to appoint Dr De Villiers to head this investigation into the financing and the organization of the SATS.
When I say to the hon member for Port Elizabeth Central that I am not entirely in agreement with what he said when he called for the maximum decentralization and privatization of the SATS, I mean that I obviously do not believe that he can be serious when he suggests that the profitable branches of the SATS, such as Pipelines, Airways and Harbours, should be decentralized from Railways and sold to the private sector, while leaving the real problem child of the SATS, viz the Railways, in the lap of the central Government. I am sure that a large, privately owned company in the private sector would do exactly the opposite if it found itself in this position. It would retain the profitmaking operations while trying to offload the lossmaking operations on some unsuspecting sucker that it might find in the market. [Interjections.] I do think the hon member will agree with me, Sir. However, I certainly do believe that there is still scope for privatizing certain sections of the SATS. The hon member knows this has been done with the airline and airport catering services. I am sure that there are many other areas to which this could be extended, and I still believe that this privatization of certain aspects of the SATS can be followed up in some way or other. Rather than the total dismantling of the SATS, however, I believe—and I sincerely believe that this will come out of the investigation—that there must firstly be a continuing, in-depth examination of the operational and capital cost structure of the SATS so as to streamline it and to trim it down into a truly effective and economic transportation service.
Secondly, on the operational side, I believe it is a good thing—as has already been suggested here—to reduce operating costs by selling off or disposing of those uneconomic units to the private sector if and whenever possible. I also believe that the capital assets of the SATS should be exploited economically to the full. I also do know that the SATS are doing this. In my own constituency they have for many, many years leased a piece of land to a private caravan-park operator. Recently they have realized that there has never been a rental increase. As a result, the rental has now been increased. This is one example of the efforts on the part of the SATS to utilize their capital resources to the best possible advantage. I want to submit, however, that if capital resources cannot be utilized by the SATS in the most efficient manner then they should be either scrapped or sold. As I say, the SATS should be trimmed down into an economical, fighting-fit shape.
There is a third aspect that I think has to be followed up and that is that we who sit in this House, who set the rules which govern the SATS in the form of the South African Transport Services Act, are the first—as the hon member for Durban Point has done today—to hammer the hon the Minister should he propose any increases or any action to try to make the books appear better but which may offend our constituents. These are the sort of things which I believe need to be looked at. I believe we should examine our consciences as to whether we are really acting in the best overall economic interests of South Africa as a whole.
As I have already said, neither Pipelines, Airways nor Harbours is the problem child of SATS—Railways is the problem child. If one examines the hon the Minister’s memorandum one will find on page 10 that Railways has consistently ended up with huge losses over the past few years. In 1979-80 there was a loss of R30 million. Due to the boom years of 1980-81, and perhaps because of a massive increase in tariffs, the amount was reduced to R1,4 million in that financial year. However, in 1981-82 the loss was R150 million and in the next year it was R683 million. We know that in 1983-84 there was a big subsidy from the Government, the tariffs went up again and the loss was R333 million. This year the loss on Railways will probably be of the order of R500 million or R600 million.
When one examines the cost centres of Railways’ expenditure one finds that the cost of depreciation and the cost of financing capital projects not only consumes considerable sums of revenue but is assuming an ever-increasing proportion of total expenditure figures. In the financial year of 1980-81, for example, depreciation and financing costs totalled R850 million. This represented 25,7% of total expenditure. By 1983-84 this amount had risen to R1 463 million, which represented 29,9% of expenditure. Last year the amount rose to R1 706 million which represented 30,6% of total expenditure.
I repeat that the SATS makes its huge losses on Railways. I believe that we as Parliamentarians must examine the basic cause of this. Probably the first cause results from the fact that the Act clearly specifies that the SATS must transport all traffic presented to it. All too often, those requiring the transport expect it to be at tariffs which are way below actual costs. Here I refer to many agricultural products as well as mining and industrial commodities. While I will concede that there certainly were many valid reasons why Railways should have subsidized certain traffic in the past, especially in the early years of South Africa’s development, I question whether this is valid today. Indeed, in practice many sectors requiring transport today find it more convenient to transport their commodities by road.
The hon member for Durban Point may complain about the low production figures of passenger transport, but the fact is that the potential first and second class passenger does not want to travel by rail. He would rather spend more money travelling in his own motor-car. This is a problem we have to wrestle with because people cannot be forced onto rail.
In recent years we have seen the almost complete fall-off of the rail transport of sugar cane, even over distances in excess of 120 km. The flexibility provided by road transport—at extremely competitive rates— has taken this traffic away from Railways almost entirely. In his introductory speech the hon the Minister himself clearly intimated that the Railways would be better off financially if all livestock was transported by road. It is not a case, as the hon member for Durban Point says, of the SATS having priced itself out of the market. It is the flexibility of road transport which makes it more convenient and more rapid from point of loading to point of offloading for livestock to be transported by road rather than by rail. The same with sugar cane. To transport it by rail means multiple transshipment. In the case of sugar cane, when it is conveyed by means of road transport, it is taken almost from the field straight into the factory.
You are making a good speech.
Yes, I should think so. As my first Nat speech it is not too bad.
At the tariffs which are presently charged for these services there is no profit for the SATS. I think we should look at this.
We also know, looking at the table on page 10 of the hon the Minister’s memorandum to which the hon member for Durban Point referred, that the long distance passenger transport in its present form is also losing out. There is the high-speed passenger Metroblitz operation between Pretoria and Johannesburg. I want to ask whether this service has received the full support of the travelling public of that area. I doubt it very much. If one travels between Johannesburg and Pretoria by road one sees for oneself the reason why. I believe this is a very sad state of affairs, but the average South African prefers to travel by road.
We know that first and second class urban commuter traffic continues to fall off. In my constituency there is a very good commuter service, and I have done studies on this which shows that it is still cheaper to travel by rail, but the majority of people prefer to travel in their own vehicles.
As a result of this, huge subsidies have to be paid by the taxpayer or through cross-subsidization by means of subsidies paid by the other users of services of the SATS. I believe this really needs looking into.
The second cause of these huge losses could I believe be laid at the feet of the Parliamentarians who sit here, including the hon member for Durban Point. We are the first to raise our voices in horror when tariff increases are suggested in an effort on the part of the hon the Minister to reduce the overall losses incurred by operating Railways. There are also the voices of our constituents with whom we have to contend and the voices we hear from commerce and industry, consumer organizations and the Press. A very good example of this occurred last year—I think the hon member for Durban Point referred to it—when the hon the Minister in the interests of overall economy and efficiency suggested the closure of a narrow-gauge railway line in Natal. What was the result? Tremendous political pressure. I was sitting in the Opposition benches at that time and tremendous pressure was applied on me to try to keep that line open despite the continuing loss.
The purpose of this part of my contribution today is to endeavour to promote an objective approach to the root causes of the financial problems of the SATS and particularly those of the Railways. It is my sincere hope that we as politicians of all political parties will make a constructive contribution to resolve this problem. I hope that Dr De Villiers will assist us in this to face the practical and economic realities of our time and to be honest in our efforts to put this information across to our constituents.
South Africa is not alone in this particular problem. The United Kingdom has also had to go through it. Canada has had to go through it with one state-owned railway and one privately owned railway. The United States had to rationalize its railways. I believe the time has come for us to look at this clearly and objectively and try to correct what is wrong.
Finally, on the matter of pensions I want to say to the hon member for Durban Point that he must not think that the hon the Minister is not aware of what is happening to pension schemes. He may say that there is a large amount of money in the fund, R1,89 billion. I think that he said the profit on that was R200 million per year.
No, I said that the revenue per year exceeded the total amounts paid out by R200 million per year.
Yes, I think the hon member said R2 million.
The point I want to make to the hon member is that a pension fund can only afford to pay out pensions to its members from the money which is available in the fund. If one exceeds those amounts, the fund goes bankrupt, and if we do not know this, we need just look at what is happening in the United States. President Reagan’s greatest problem today is social welfare or the social security system. The State Pension Fund out of which every retired American is paid is virtually on the point of bankrupting the American budget. Pres Reagan is wrestling with this problem, and he and the people of the USA have to ask themselves whether their politicians have the guts and are able to face the economic realities of their problem. This means one cannot index a pension fund to inflation without receiving revenue from another source.
The hon member says: “You can”. Is he prepared to pay the additional taxes? My time has expired. I only want to say to the hon member that the hon the Minister will do whatever he can within the economic constraints which are placed upon him by the pension fund itself.
Mr Chairman, it is very interesting to follow the speech of the hon member for Amanzimtoti, particularly if one reads the amendment that he moved last year. I would like to refer to the last paragraph of that amendment, which reads:
All I can say is that the hon member for Amanzimtoti keeps on changing his points so much that his political capitalization has resulted in the total derailment of his political credibility. More than that, perhaps the real reason for his switching is because he wants to be made a politically appointed Railway Commissioner in due time.
When one first heard the Budget Speech of the hon the Minister of Transport Affairs it seemed as if the SA Transport Services had under the most trying conditions succeeded in keeping their passenger and goods tariffs within the inflation rate and had thus performed a most admirable task. It is said that everyone likes flattery, and in this House hon members of the Government, including the hon member for Amanzimtoti, lay it on with a trowel when thanking the hon the Minister. Nevertheless one must congratulate the General Manager, Dr Bart Grové, and his staff who, despite the tremendous obstacles that are put in their way by Government policy, endeavour to run an efficient organization within difficult parameters.
The hon the Minister in praising the staff of the SATS quoted Disraeli by saying: “There can be no economy where there is no efficiency.” I intend to use the same Prime Minister of Britain to help me in my analysis of this Budget Speech. At least I know that that Prime Minister had a “Yiddisher kop.” The hon the Minister in drawing up his Budget should remember the words of Mr Micawber in Dickens’s David Copperfield:
This is one of the problems of this particular Budget.
I would be misquoting Disraeli who, if he had been sitting on these benches, would have said: “The Nationalist Government is an organized hypocrisy.” My reason for saying this is that they have not fulfilled the purpose for which the SATS was actually established; that is to say, to operate on business principles and at least to come out on some sort of profit side.
Section 7 of the SA Transport Services Act of 1981 reads as follows:
It would seem as if these principles were completely neglected by the Nationalist Government when they introduced their policy of apartheid on coming into power in 1948 and sought through the Group Areas Act and similar Acts to remove non-White people from the city centres where their workplaces in industry and commerce were, and when the Government built homes for them so far away that commuting became a new lifestyle.
However, yesterday in this House the hon the Minister of Co-operation, Development and Education, in answer to the pleas of this party, for the first time changed the course of Government thinking. His speech recognized the implications of rapid urbanization of all the people of South Africa and the need to compensate the SATS for carrying low-earning Black commuters. Black commuting is a major problem and it will be a major problem in the future. I want to deal with that in particular.
The passenger services of the SATS have as their major market the Black commuters. During the recess I decided to investigate this sector of the market by actually looking at the Black commuter system on the Reef.
Sir, I wish to express my sincere thanks to the General Manager for providing me with the opportunity to travel on Black suburban trains on the Reef to see and hear for myself at first hand the problems confronting the SATS.
Before I took these trips, I visited the National Institute for Transport and Road Research at the CSIR in Pretoria and I obtained a large number of research publications, which I studied before I toured, and in particular Black Commuting in Pretoria, the first research project they undertook. My short tour of the Reef confirmed that the same problems were being experienced there.
As regards Black commuting in Pretoria, the goal of the Pretoria Black Commuting Study was to identify and describe the travel patterns and transport problems of Black commuters and to find out commuters’ attitudes towards particular levels of service on their journey to work. The principal reason why Pretoria was taken first was its close proximity to the CSIR where the study was monitored and administered. The study is rather comprehensive in that it includes the CBD, some decentralized commercial and industrial centres in Pretoria and Rosslyn, nearby Black townships and also Black residential areas both on the borders and in the hinterland of Bophuthatswana—actually a dream situation of the homeland fantasies of Dr Verwoerd.
The socio-economic characteristics of the sample were as follows …
Order! Before the hon member moves on to another point, there is something I should like clarified. Did he mention that the Government consists of or has policies which are organized hypocrisy?
I quoted Disraeli, Sir.
Be that as it may …
I said that, if he had been sitting on this side of the House, Disraeli would have said that the NP was an organized hypocrisy…
The member must withdraw that. [Interjections.]
Mr Chairman, on a point of order …
Order! The hon member for Port Elizabeth Central may sit down. The hon member for Bezuidenhout will have to withdraw that remark. [Interjections.] I am not prepared to be addressed on that.
Mr Chairman, on a point of order: The hon member for Bezuidenhout said the NP is an organized hypocrisy. He was not referring to any member of the House. With due respect to you, Sir, I do not think that that is unparliamentary.
I accept that, but I heard the hon member mention the Government, not the NP.
Sir, what happened in this: In the House of Commons, Disraeli, when he was a member of the Opposition, said the Conservative Party was an organized hypocrisy. All I have done is to take the same phrase and say the NP is an organized hypocrisy. I did nothing other than to quote Disraeli.
If the hon member can assure me that he did not use the word “Government”, he may continue.
I did not; I said “the NP”. [Interjections.]
In the socio-economic study to which I was referring, it was found that the average level of education of the Black commuter was Std 5; his age was 34 years; his income in 1982 was about R227 per month—it is probably higher today—and 85% of the commuters were males. This report highlights the very important point that the rail service is far more extensive and intensive for Blacks than it is for Whites in Pretoria. Most trains terminate their journeys at Pretoria B which is situated next to the main railway station at Pretoria. There is, however, no connection between these two stations, even though many passengers are obliged to interchange if they are continuing their trips to destinations on the Johannesburg line, since many trains start from the main station. Surely even this could be rectified by the hon the Minister.
During the daily high-peak period from 05h30 to 07h15, 27 trains arrive at Pretoria B Station from their various points of departure.
The typical composition of a suburban train set in Pretoria is 12 coaches—two first-class motor coaches, one third-class motor coach and nine third-class trailer coaches. This gives a maximum capacity of 758 seated and 1 403 standee passengers, ie standee passengers constitute 65% of the total passengers.
Inside or outside?
They are mostly inside, but there are a lot outside.
During the high-peak period, however, the service operates at only 75% capacity.
Commuters hold certain attitudes towards certain aspects of the service. One such aspect is total travel time. Many commuters travel long distances to work, and travel times are often too long. The great majority of the commuters—85%—travel for more than 60 minutes, and 55% travel for more than 90 minutes. Most of the commuters— 62%—were dissatisfied with their total travel time, and were generally agreed that travel time for a commuter should not exceed 60 minutes.
The attitudes they held towards costs were as follows: The majority were clearly dissatisfied if they had to spend more than 5% of their income on transport. Frustration and a sense of grievance over low incomes probably increase dissatisfaction.
One of the commuters’ greatest objections was against crowding. The study has revealed that crowding is a major source of dissatisfaction among Pretoria Black commuters and that it needs urgent attention if the negative aspects of crowding such as crime, aggression and frequent unpunctuality of arrival at work, are to be avoided. It was appreciated that the Railways could not provide more trains but commuters nevertheless wanted to avoid overcrowding.
The attitudes towards crime levels show that crime is a serious problem in respect of some lines, particularly in parts of Pretoria and surrounding areas, especially on Friday afternoons and Saturdays. Ways of combating this problem must be considered, especially if commuters are to be encouraged to use public transport, particularly the trains.
Some of the commuters held certain attitudes towards drivers and inspectors: They were generally satisfied with most of them. However, there were a few drivers, inspectors and queue marshalls whom a fair number of commuters found unacceptable because of certain behavioural aspects associated with these workers.
What were their attitudes towards transfer between trains and between trains and buses? Thirty-two percent of the commuters had to make at least one transfer, and some 19% made two or more transfers. When one makes transfers one sometimes has to wait 10 to 15 minutes for the next train or the next bus.
The conclusion that I should like to make is that, while the SATS did not create this problem, they are nevertheless faced with the problem of alleviating this sad position of their major customer section. They must do something about it.
I should like now to deal with the accessibility and spatial structure of, and the transport in South African cities. This also relates to a survey done by the CSIR. The study states:
We are now about to construct a new railway link with Khayelitsha. Yesterday in his speech the Minister stated that the provision of a new railway link between Khayelitsha and Cape Town has become a matter of high priority and that the building of such a line will take place as soon as the necessary Parliamentary approval has been obtained. He said that the major problem is that the SATS is under no circumstances prepared to accept any losses on such a line. I would like to warn the hon the Minister that the location of a new town at Khayelitsha is likely to result, according to a CSIR study, in a deterioration of the accessibility of Blacks to employment opportunity, unless a very careful study is made of the time it takes them to travel to work. Where are the future work cores going to be? Only Cape Town, or will it also be Parow, Goodwood, Bellville, Kraaifontein, Stellenbosch, Paarl, Somerset West and Strand? Have studies been done on this? Langa, Nyanga, Guguletu and Crossroads are within the reasonable travel time period for Cape Town. Will Khayelitsha be too far? Where should the route of the new line be located? The implications of such location could mean increased travel times for relocated Blacks, increased travel costs or, alternatively, additional pressures for transport compensation to ameliorate the increased cost of travel. The decision about the location of the new rail link is even more important than Parliamentary approval.
I would now like to deal with the automatic fare collection and barrier system for passenger services. During my own personal tour of the Reef, I was shown the pilot scheme for the Simpan—Kutalo—Kwesine railway section near Germiston. In theory, electronic ticket-issuing and automatic gates are certainly the answer to the problem. However, there are serious practical problems about which I must warn the hon the Minister. Both the French and the Japanese systems were built for countries where railway stations are comparatively dust free. This does not apply to the Reef in particular. Both systems are continuously out of action, because the dust penetrates these sensitive machines and clogs up the delicate electronic equipment. Unless the machines are adapted to the severe atmospheric conditions pertaining in South Africa, particularly on the Reef, the SATS will not have enough technicians to keep these automatic barriers in operation. However, the electronic ticket issuing machines should prove a great boon in the expedition of ticket sales, but the automatic gate system is even more essential to ensure a rapid flow of passengers. Hon members can see a very good photograph of this system on page 21 of the latest annual report, the one for 1983-84. On consideration of addendums 3 and 4 of the annual report, I calculate that on suburban lines in South Africa over 100 million season and single fare tickets for a revenue of R370 million are issued annually by the SATS. If the estimate of the General Manager is correct that 15% of passengers escape paying, this means a loss of more than R50 million per year. It would seem without doubt that if the automatic barrier system were adapted to South African weather conditions, the result would be a diminution of the staff collecting tickets at stations as well as putting a stop to would-be non-paying commuters, which could result in additional revenue of about R100 million per annum.
Finally, I would like to deal with the question of socio-economic services. It appears to me as if the hon the Minister of Finance believes that he is heavily subsidizing the SATS from his revenue on the other hand, the SATS has to be run on business principles and should not have to carry the burden of losses due to Government policy. The deficit for 1985-86 is expected to be R192 million. The Treasury only undertakes to provide R100 million, now reduced to R90 million, as compensation for uneconomic and socioeconomic services. In this respect I want to misquote Disraeli again, as follows:
When the voters of South Africa elect a Government to carry out the policy of separate development and apartheid, then the voters and the voters alone must pay the actual price for this privilege. It is not subsidization, but compensation to the SATS for acting as the agent of the Government to carry out is policy. The group areas policy creates undue spatial separation between home and workplace. The SATS carries an unnecessary burden of several hundreds of million rand annually because it has to carry disadvantaged users. The SATS should not ask for charity but demand compensation, for that is what it is.
It is the voters, through the Minister of Finance, who must pay for being privileged and not the people who have been denied by privilege. That is why I say again: the National Party is an organized hypocrisy.
Order! I think I owe the House and the hon member for Port Elizabeth Central an explanation for my ruling. I would point out that I heard the hon member for Bezuidenhout using words to the effect that the Government is “an organized hypocrisy”. That is clearly not admissible and I was not even prepared to be addressed on that point, because my mind was absolutely clear about this and I needed nobody to convince me one way or the other. The hon member has now stated that he did not use that word, but that he referred to the NP. In that case it is still a borderline case. It has been stated that it is not in order to use offensive or unbecoming words against a political party with the intention of reflecting upon members of the House. I have, however, given the hon member the benefit of the doubt.
Mr Chairman, on a point of order: The hon member for Bezuidenhout said that Disraeli coined the word “apartheid”, but it was Dr Malan. [Interjections.]
Mr Chairman, on a further point of order: May I inquire, in those circumstances, why you instructed me to take my seat when I wished to raise a point of order? You then allowed the hon member for Berea to raise a point of order.
The hon member raised the point of order on a different basis, and he raised it before I could even tell him to sit down. However, in the circumstances I am very pleased that the hon member did raise that particular point.
Mr Chairman, this debate on the SATS is being described by the media as a hard and dry road to walk. I hope that we shall all be in transports of delight when we all, the Minister included, finish here tonight. It is a pleasure for me to speak after the hon member for Bezuidenhout. I shall leave him to the hon the Minister. He quoted so many things that are already known facts that I think the hon the Minister will reply to him. We, too, are already looking for solutions to this.
I should like to say something about the Standing Committee for Transport Affairs. I consider the standing committees to be a meaningful creation, since they are an extension of democracy. It means that we are able to talk about problems very calmly. The Opposition members who sit on these committees deserve all praise, eg the hon member for Port Elizabeth Central. He is so difficult in the House, but he is not so difficult there. I should like to have tea with him one day and ask him why he is so ill-mannered in the House while he is a more pleasant person on the committee.
I now want to refer to the proposed amendments to the budget. I think it is the duty of an opposition to move amendments. I do not want to quarrel with them about this. However, I want to ask them why they moved political amendments. The second leg of the hon member for De Aar’s amendment is a clear example of this. I shall read it:
The hon the Minister of Transport Affairs very clearly stated the following in his budget speech—I am quoting this to show how pointless these amendments are to a good budget:
I ask you, how is it possible for him, after reading this, to move an amendment like that? Where is the logic in it? I think we shall settle this tonight with the final vote, and show what we think of it.
I associate myself with all the words of praise conveyed by the speakers on both sides of this House to the staff of the SATS, from the hon the Minister right down to the man who does the simplest work—perhaps the one who sweeps Johannesburg station. I want to associate myself with the praise expressed for the productivity, and everyone involved in it.
I want to point out that it is a good thing the hon the Minister appointed Dr Wim de Villiers. I just want to ask the hon the Minister what he had in mind when he said—and I am quoting the following from his second reading speech:
What exactly is Dr De Villiers going to do, and what is he going to look at? One wants to have some idea of the most important aspects of his inquiry.
I should also like to ask whether Dr De Villiers, when he has finished his inquiry, could not also lay it upon the table, as happened that time with the Escom report. We should like to find out what is going on in the Railways with the help of this man, who was appointed by the hon the Minister.
I want to refer to the role of the SATS in South Africa. I believe that the SATS will continue to play a part in South Africa in future, but that it will play its part in a different system from the one we have known up till now. I am expecting a lot from the National Transport Policy Study. I think the National Transport Policy Study is going to usher in a new era. However, I am not so sure that it will be able to solve all the problems. One of the basic problems with which we have to contend, and for which they have no answer either, is the one with which the SATS is being burdened and which I shall deal with further here, namely the problem concerning passenger transport and its consequences.
I want to make it clear that the transport study now being undertaken will solve a whole lot of problems. Nevertheless, I want to reiterate: It will not solve all the problems. There are some problems that only the hon the Minister and the Cabinet will be able to solve. We shall leave these to the hon the Minister and his colleagues in the Cabinet.
The SATS has a few “shareholders” who are very interested in its activities. I should like to mention a couple of examples of these people. The first example is that of the inhabitants of South Africa, who are interested in this enterprise for two reasons: They are the owners of the SATS and they are also its users.
Furthermore, there is the work force, the business community, and the railway pensioners. I came across a very interesting figure, namely that the SATS has at present no fewer than 78 343 pensioners. I mention them specifically because a lot will be said in the debates about the position of these people under the present circumstances. It is not for me to discuss this; some of my colleagues will see to it. Nevertheless, I just want to mention to you how important they are with reference to one important factor. However, I have a very serious problem. There is a serious crisis in the SATS; we may as well admit that. This crisis was summed up very well in the following report which appeared in Sake-Rapport of 11 November 1984:
I agree with Dr Bart Grové. The single important point of a market share is a feature that has occurred throughout the world.
Here is a book Quest for Crises that was written in the sixties and is about the railways of the world. The two most important problems are discussed in this book. The European and American transport systems especially are analysed and we now find ourselves, twenty years later, in the same position as those countries were in at that time. The two most important problems singled out in this book are passenger transport and a decline in the market share.
The Railways has a problem in regard to its market share. It is clearly indicated by the figures. A figure which appeared in the SATS report, and is therefore known to all of us, shows very clearly that the contribution of the high-rated rail freight towards revenue increased from 47% in 1974-75 to almost 67% in the financial year 1983-84. This is an increase of approximately 20%. In contrast the freight—also measured on a percentage basis because that is all that is represented in the report—increased by only 9%. As a result of the internal subsidization more and more high-rated freight is being conveyed. Unfortunately this is a fact and we must admit it. The result of this is that the Railways is becoming less and less competitive, and a considerable number of the Opposition speakers, as well as the hon member for Amanzimtoti, also referred to this. It is therefore a fact that we have to face. The most important question arising from this is: Where are we going?
There is also a further problem. The Railways supplied me with a rough figure in connection with an amount they had invested in passenger transport services. However, I am not holding them to that figure and I trust that no one else will, but it does give an idea of the magnitude of the amount. About R3 billion has been invested in passenger transport services. That includes rolling stock, the laying of railway lines, and so on. Furthermore, the SATS does not pay a cent in interest or finance charges on this money. I also want to thank the Government for not charging interest on this money because in this way the undertaking is made more economical.
Thus the question arises: Where does the problem lie? Perhaps we should go further into this analysis but in my opinion we have to mention two reasons in particular. In the first place we use the equipment at our disposal, which is very capital intensive, for only four to six hours per day and for five days per week. That is one of the major reasons for the present situation of the SATS. In addition we must remember that the more railway lines we are going to build to convey passengers, especially commuters, the greater our problem is going to be.
Secondly, it is a world-wide tendency for the passenger to bear about 66% of his total transport costs, which are usually equal to variable costs. The ratio is approximately one third to two thirds. But what is the case in South Africa? It does not matter whether it is a blue, a green or any other kind of passenger; what is important is the fact that suburban passengers in South Africa cover 22% of their transport costs, and that is the root of our problem. Thus, if we want to progress to international standards in this connection, we shall have to increase the tariff structure for all passengers by approximately 200% tonight. However, this is impossible. I am being perfectly honest when I say that such a thing is impossible.
It does not matter what colour the passenger is transport in South Africa is a sensitive activity and transport fares are politically exploitable; I saw this in Primrose. Let us admit it because it is a fact. That is why I am in favour of gradually allowing the passenger to bear his fair share because we cannot raise fares by 200% overnight. Such a thing is impossible and no one in his right mind would try to do it.
The crucial question arises once again: What must we do? I do not have a solution because we cannot solve this problem overnight.
Mr Chairman, the hon member who now has such a lot to say could not even solve the problems of Corlett Drive. How is he going to be able to solve ours? After all, we are not bankrupt, but Corlett Drive is. [Interjections.] I do not want to quarrel with the hon member. This is our transport men’s debate and outsiders must keep out of it. The most important, however, is that all passenger tariffs will have to be increased. We concede that. I want to go further and say that the dilemma in which the SATS finds itself is being very well illustrated on the basis of statistics which show that between 1970 and 1985, on an index where 1970 is one hundred, the figure for third class commuters in 1985 is 400 and the consumer price index is almost 500. Therefore the tariff structure has lagged far behind. As a matter of interest, between 1970 and 1985, taking into account the chaos in 1973, the fuel price rose to roughly 850. Thus hon members can see what problems the SATS, one of the greatest consumers of fuel, is experiencing.
I want to go further and say that internal subsidization will not solve the problem for us internal subsidization is the death blow to the market share with which the SATS, as has been said previously, is experiencing a great problem. The passenger deficit which is being estimated for the financial year 1985-86 is R1 040 million. The SATS has to make good more than a billion rand. It is a huge amount, it causes great problems, and it cannot be solved overnight. The effect this has is negative, namely that we shall have to push up the prices of other things to compensate, and the result is that the SATS will once more lose freight and more of its market share because of this.
I want to come back to a question I asked the hon the Minister last year, namely whether he did not want to amend section 8 of Act 65 of 1981 so that all freight above a certain tonnage could be conveyed to a greater extent on a contract basis in Order to try to increase the share of the SATS.
The last aspect I want to mention is the regional services. Regional services are apparently going to be established at some time or another and they must decide which transport service is the most economical, and subsidize it. They must prepare themselves for transport costs of approximately one billion rands. I just want to bring this to the attention of the hon members in good time.
A great deal has been said about the privatization of the SATS and I do not think I want to make a contribution to this. Last year the hon the Minister dealt with the hon member for Port Elizabeth Central—in column 2407 of the Hansard on last year’s debate—when the hon the Minister said that he had no interest at all in privatization. I shall therefore choose my words very carefully when I address the hon the Minister so I do not let myself in for the kind of thrashing that came the way of my friend and colleague on the opposite side. I am choosing my words carefully but I still want to ask Dr De Villiers to make enquiries in his study— and I do not want to climb in from the top because one only does that with graves; with everything else you begin at the bottom— about whether an attempt could not be made to give a larger proportion of the specialized maintenance of the SATS out on contract to the private sector, in phases. I believe that the SATS has already set a very good example by giving a very large part of their specialized maintenance work out on contract. I just want to ask that this be taken further. I am asking this especially with regard to the small business undertaking which could be helped to get on its feet in this way, but also so that the specialized people who build the equipment can be kept operative in their original place when they do the repair work that has been given out on contract. However, it must be done only on condition that it is more economical than if the SATS were to do the work itself. I should like to see this done to an even greater extent, but I nevertheless praise the SATS for having already done so to a very great extent.
I am happy to support the Second Reading of the hon the Minister’s Budget.
Mr Chairman, I am informed that a commission has been appointed under the chairmanship of Dr de Villiers to carry out certain investigations relating to the affairs of the SATS. Having just listened to the hon member for Primrose, who chaired a similar commission at an earlier stage, I can understand why another commission has been appointed now. Apparently the new commission will also have to review the report of the previous one.
Then, too, it is also very clear, particularly in view of the recent sharp increase in passenger tariffs, why the cry is being heard nowadays: “Stem Nasionaal en betaal!” (“Vote National and pay up!”). [Interjections.]
I want to say in all honesty—no one must misunderstand me—that I am very sympathetic towards the hon the Minister as far as this specific budget of his is concerned.
He must resign! [Interjections.]
I fully realize that it is the shockwaves of the budget that we are experiencing here once again. In fact, this is the result of things which do not fall under the management of the SATS at all but which make their influence felt from outside. The greatest outside influence derives from the mismanagement by the Government. This is true, after all, and that is why it is also true that everything that happens nowadays, except of course the drought, is the result of outside mismanagement. In my opinion, each of these instances of mismanagement is another nail in the coffin of South Africa. [Interjections.]
Although the SATS has its own separate budget it is necessarily the doings of other ministries, and of autonomous outside bodies falling under the jurisdiction of those other ministries, that also exert a considerable influence on the budget of the SATS.
Let me mention a few examples in this regard. One good example is, of course, the fuel price. The price of fuel has simply skyrocketed. Moreover, this particular ministry is very dependent on the price of fuel. I am quite unable to understand for what reasons the price of fuel has shot up to the extent it has. No one can understand it. [Interjections.] Yes, then there is also the price of electricity. We all know that the price of electricity has also sky-rocketed. The Department of Transport Affairs does in fact use a tremendous amount of electrical power. Therefore we can understand that it must have an effect…
Man, you are “simpel” (stupid)!
… and therefore it is imperative that passenger services, due to …
You are a “simpel” fellow!
Order! The hon member for Brakpan …
I withdraw it, Mr Chairman. However, I do not know whether you heard that remark. It is a remark which ought not to be uttered in this House. The remark was uttered by an hon backbencher opposite. I should prefer to convey it to you privately. I shall not repeat it here because it was not a seemly remark appropriate to this House. However, I withdraw my remark.
The hon member for Nigel may proceed.
In any event, Mr Chairman, I deplore the regrettable remark made by that hon member. I am really ashamed to have to refer to myself as a colleague of his. However, I shall leave it at that.
The other day the hon the Minister of Finance pointed out briefly in this House, with reference to transport subsidies, that it would be increasingly difficult in future to subsidize certain services which have been subsidized in the past. One wonders whether people above the age of 60 years will in fact still receive the out-of-season discount. I hope that this will still be the case. I hope that the hon the Minister will retain that system. Commuter services, too, are affected by this budget. The farmers are also affected by it. Of course, we all know what the present position of farmers in South Africa is. When prices are increased—it does not matter in what sphere; it can be the SATS too— it is something that has a profound effect on the farmers in particular, and when the farmers are affected by anything, the consumer, too, is affected by it. We know that due to these constant price increases the consumer is slowly but very surely being pushed over the edge of the abyss. We are face to face with poverty; poverty as we have not seen it for many years. I shall come back to this a little later.
This hon Minister is a very senior Minister in the Cabinet. Therefore the SATS has a very senior Minister in the Cabinet. What is more, he is also the Leader of this House. I therefore believe that he is able to exert a considerable influence in the Cabinet and in the central Government in general. In the interests of the SATS I want to ask him whether it is not possible for him, in the interests of this division, to use his influence to bring certain matters to the attention of the Government. After all, it would not be inappropriate for the hon the Minister to discuss certain matters with his colleagues in the Cabinet. He ought inter alia to request them please to give attention to the prices of fuel and electricity. He ought also to insist in the Cabinet on an assurance that that subsidy will be retained. He can also caution them not to be so spendthrift. [Interjections.] As an example of this extravagance I need only refer to the R11 million, much of which has been approved without tenders being called for, for work that is being done on the Union Building. I quote:
We could refer to Tuynhuys, too, as a further example of extravagance. If this kind of extravagance is largely to be stopped then we believe that this subsidy could be retained instead of the present possibility. A waste of money, as in these instances, will mean that the man who is having a hard time of it today will approach this Government, as the poor once approached the French Government for help. When these people explained that they could get no bread to eat, they were told that they should eat cake. We hope that nothing of the kind will ever happen again. Therefore there must be a stop to this extravagance in South Africa.
This budget reflects a comfortless situation. I understand the hon the Minister’s problem, and I do not blame him in the least because he is part of a team; he does not act as an individual. However, the fact remains that we are in a comfortless situation, and who is to pay for this? I think that it is once again going to be the poor consumer, the ordinary man.
I have referred to the poor White question. It is the poor White who will be most affected by this. I quote from an article entitled “Armblankes 1985”, which appeared in Rapport on 24 February 1985:
The report goes on in another paragraph:
Once again it is the Department of Transport Affairs that employs some of those people who struggle to be helped. I regard this as praiseworthy, and I am pleased that the officials of the Railways are also helping in that regard to do much for those people, because those people are facing hunger. It must indeed be dreadful to struggle even to obtain bread and to look after one’s family. Therefore we have the utmost praise and appreciation for the staff of the SATS, from the most senior to the most junior. We also wish to thank the officials in the Public Service for continuing to try to do their duty in every respect in this difficult situation.
We were told the other day that the number of officials had been reduced by 16% from 279 000 in June 1982 to 235 000 at present. Those people are making tremendous sacrifices. We also know that those people will probably have to do a great deal more work now—they may have to work long hours of overtime; I do not know—but in the past the Railway officials have always done their duty. I call to mind the difficult times long ago when the junior officials in that department were exclusively Afrikaans-speaking and when there was no place for them to stand or drink water in South Africa. It was then that the ATKV was founded in 1930. Wonderful work was done by the ATKV. Those railwaymen will always be remembered by us as praiseworthy people to whom a monument ought to be erected. It is not every day that one encounters such people. We know that the retired railway workers five in homes that they themselves helped to found. These are autonomous bodies which do not fall under the hon the Minister’s department. However, one thing is very important, and I should like to know whether it would not be possible for the SAS/SAR to be granted a bigger subsidy. I do not know whether a subsidy is being allocated at present, but something in the form of a subsidy would be welcome, to facilitate matters for those people who live in the homes. We know that some of those people are having a hard time of it. I have just said that the Minister has a great deal of influence and perhaps he will have to approach the hon the Minister of Health and Welfare in this regard to ask him to do something for those old people, those people who gave their lives for the SATS. Those people must be accommodated in one way or another.
As far as day trains are concerned, the hon members who took part in the debate before me have already discussed them, and I do not wish to repeat what they said. I do, however, want to ask the hon the Minister whether it would not be possible for him to tell us what specifically is being done to make journeys on those trains safe. I ask this with regard to the mixing that is now taking place in our transport services under this Government.
I wish to state very clearly that I know that the hon the Minister is part of a team. I know that he will certainly receive instructions from above to do certain things, but this liberal establishment that is governing South Africa at the moment is going to succeed in having the NP Government referred to in future as the Spinolas of South Africa.
Mr Chairman, the more I listen to the hon members of the various Opposition parties, the more I am reminded of the story of the couple who missed the train. They decided instead to have a good party. Much later that night, after the party was over, they started off, but travelled in the opposite direction to that in which the train was travelling. Later on, another train came past, all brightly lit up and drawn by a steam locomotive. It was travelling at about 120 km/h. After the train had passed, one man said to his friend: You know, we really travelled through that town fast. Did you see that every house was lit up? His friend replied: Man, that struck me too, but what worried me the most was that the first house was on fire. [Interjections.] They never caught that train, of course, because it was the locomotive steaming past which they thought was the house on fire.
One could say that I myself come from the Railways. What is more, I came up through the Railways the hard way. In those times we had a harder life. The value of money was of course greater, but I spent many years of my life on the Railways at nine pounds ten a month. I may say that in general the people in the SATS are better off than used to be the case at that time. I know what I am talking about, particularly because I, too, was a victim under the old United Party.
When I look at the newspapers I always enjoy the cartoons. There was one in The Argus recently which made use of the railways cap. The fellow is running with the teeth on one side and his eyes wide open. The people are running away from inflation. I think that that was a reasonably good cartoon. There was also one in the Cape Times. The caption was: “As a matter of fact, I am feeling utterly choked.” Inflation is depicted and in front of it is sitting a repressed, little, dishevelled old man—the hon the Minister of Transport Affairs. [Interjections.] I think that that was also a good cartoon.
I do also look at what the newspapers say about this budget. I find it interesting that the people say they are having a very hard time of it. I am not one who always reads the Rand Daily Mail, but now and again I glance at it to see what is going on among the English. [Interjections.] I then read in that newspaper the comments of certain people, together with their photos. Apparently not one of them is Afrikaans-speaking …
I see there are photographs of pretty girls.
No, those are the comments of a young man. He is Mr Charles Cornelissen and he says: “The train is still cheaper than using my car.” That is after the hon the Minister had announced all his rates, and in the newspapers there are various illustrations by way of pretty pictures. The next comment comes from an extremely pretty girl. She is Miss Helen Thompson and she says: “Travel by train still cheaper than by car.” Then there is another girl, Miss Janet Thompson, and she says: “A 30% increase is not too drastic.” That is what people are saying.
Order! I do not think it is good for the hon member to speak about the ladies such a lot. I think he had better confine himself to the Appropriation Bill.
I now turn to the men, exclusively the men. [Interjections.] Let us look at what Mr Leon Bartlett, President of the AHI, has to say. He says that he is aware of the extent of the increase of passenger rates, and he goes on:
He went on to say:
Dr J C van Zyl, chief executive officer of the Gefedereerde Kamer van Nywerhede, also states that tariff increases have been kept as low as possible and productivity has been increased. Mr Michael Bann, chairman of Assocom, says:
In general, therefore, the comments are favourable.
We are living in a time of specialization and modernization. Changed circumstances set new demands. I note, too, that the publications of the SATS have undergone changes. Sassar, which was a very attractive journal, has become a staff periodical. Then, too, there is the specific and select periodical Momentum. I am very happy with the journal Esprit de corps and I hope that it will retain its present character in the future.
There is one thing that troubles me and today I wish to speak very frankly about this to the hon the Minister and the relevant staff management. Will the unique character of the SATS not be forfeited as a result of outside organizations that regard material interests as being of greater importance than the educational value of the magazines?
I do not think it does the SAA credit to continue to have the periodical Die Vlieënde Springbok on its aircraft. I analysed this periodical and found that on average there are only six pages of reading matter, whereas 80% consisted of advertisements. Former copies of this magazine had interesting articles such as “Jan Smuts Airport: South Africa’s Major International Gateway”. I am now referring to periodicals such as In die Wolke. It was only half as thick as Die Vlieënde Springbok but it had twice as much reading matter. I hope that the hon the Minister will go into this matter. I wonder whether the hon the Minister should not consider the A5 format. It is cheaper, and the periodicals will be small enough to put into one’s pocket.
This year we celebrate the 75th year of the SATS. Next year Johannesburg will be 100 years old. I do not know how far the construction of the railway line to Crown Mines will have progressed by that time, but I hope that it will have been completed. At this point I wish to ask the hon the Minister to give serious consideration, with a view to depicting the character of our rail transport over the past 75 years, to have a steam train running from Johannesburg station to Crown Mines next year, particularly with a view to overseas visitors. The old Park Station which is now in Esselen Park must be built at Crown Mines to remind people of the great achievement of the old Railways.
Next I wish to refer to the speech by the hon member for Port Elizabeth Central. He appears to be upset about the fact that things are not going so well. Referring to the SAA he says: “The most important of these is the high cost of travel externally.” On the basis of his speech I carried out some research and, among other things, liaised a great deal with Johannesburg. Just to give an indication—this is also of importance for the hon member for Nigel—I want to say that before the oil crisis in 1972, R17,3 million was spent on fuel out of a total working expenditure of R153,8 million. That applies to aircraft alone. That comprised 11,2% of the total operating costs. In 1974, after the oil crisis, the cost of fuel rose from R17,3 million to R53,5 million. This was 23,5% of the total working expenditure of R227,4 million. In 1981 the cost of fuel rose to R345 million or 38% of the total working expenditure. From 11,2% in 1972 it rose to 38% of the total working expenditure of R940 million.
In due course—not today, because I was unable to obtain the most recent figures— the cost of fuel for aircraft alone amounted to R1 million per day. On a single return flight between Johannesburg and London with a B747 the cost of fuel rose from R15 500 to R112 000. That was the increase within a matter of one year. That is still based on the old figures. What the figures are today, I do not know; I have not been able to obtain them. I want the hon members to take cognizance of that.
That member for Port Elizabeth Central now wants …
Order! I must point out to the hon member that when he refers to a member, the correct form of address is “the hon member”.
Very well, Sir. The hon member for Port Elizabeth Central wants the services to be split, but it is clear that he has not considered the consequences. For example, he said that the railways, the airways and the harbours should be separate. However, he said nothing about the road transport service. The operating results of that service amounted to approximately R191 million last year. That does not carry any weight with him.
However, what the hon member is objecting to at the moment is that we in the NP only make political appointments. I find that nothing unusual. When I was in the Senate, it was already said that they were political appointments. Under the old United Party, 75 years ago, the Commissioners were all politicians, without exception. What about Louis Esselen? He was Gen Smuts’s chief adviser. He was chief secretary of that former party to which the hon member once belonged. He comes from that party. [Interjections.] Is he himself now seeking an appointment to that board, or does he want the hon member for Hillbrow or the hon member for Constantia to be appointed to it?
Yes, the hon member is not in favour of the Blue Train. However, he is now seeking an appointment. The hon member for Constantia wants an appointment at the Constantia Estate. All those people just want appointments all of a sudden. And then the hon member still says he wants the private sector represented there. Surely most of us in this House come from the private sector. Why does he wish to disqualify MPs—himself included—by way of his proposal? After all, the chairman of the council is the Minister, and where would we find a man with more business interests and farming interests? Ultimately, therefore, various sectors are represented here. The Commissioners and the Minister are also advised from day to day. In the case of Escom it is different. They see to the generation of power. Iscor, in turn, is responsible for the manufacture of steel. Ultimately, how can we wish to discuss policies with the hon the Minister every day? Ultimately the hon member does not want the hon the Minister there, and he wishes to differ with him. That is what is at issue. Now the hon member wants separate boards, as is the case in other bodies. How can he apply that to bodies that do not comply with Parliamentary requirements? It is in this particular respect that that hon member is quite wrong.
It is interesting that the hon member for Yeoville specifically wants Escom and all those other bodies to be subjected to Parliamentary control. However this hon member does not want that; he want it to be taken away from Parliament entirely. Thus we can see how the two hon members differ from one another, and therefore we can see how divided the PFP is.
The hon member for Port Elizabeth Central, on the other hand, wants to get out of that, but his argument is not an original one. He says the same thing as Dr De Villiers. He read the De Villiers Report on Escom and now he wants to apply it, as it stands, to the Railways.
I want to tell him that the board of the SATS is a fulltime integral part of the ministry. It cannot be separated. The hon member wants to eliminate the hon the Minister, of course. He does not like Parliamentary and ministerial control. The proposal that the SATS be fragmented into ridiculous units, is a stupid one. [Interjections.] May our Transport Affairs be spared anything of the kind.
I just wish to say that this Board is also the highest body of appeal in the case of disciplinary steps against employees, or in the event of alleged injustices. The staff greatly appreciate what is done by these Commissioners. It is also a slap in the face for our Transport workers that certain hon members do not wish to recognize these persons as Commissioners.
Over the years it has been proved that where appointments have been made from the ranks of the House of Assembly, they have been members whose practical experience of the problems of voters, employers and employees have benefited Transport Affairs as well as the private sector and the economy. Therefore their practical experience has always been to the advantage of the SATS and the economy of South Africa. Accordingly we have full confidence in the hon the Minister, who is Chairman. [Interjections.] We have full confidence in those three Commissioners; and we have full confidence in the people serving on the Standing Committee. [Interjections.] Hon members, whatever their party, also have the opportunity to make contributions. Hon members of the other two Houses also have this opportunity. They can all contribute towards ultimately subjecting this matter to Parliamentary control.
In addition to everything I have said I now also wish the hon the Minister and his strong staff everything of the best in what they are doing for the SATS and South Africa. The SATS has become part of South Africa. [Interjections.]
Mr Chairman, I should like to convey my sincere congratulations to the hon member for Rosettenville on the calm, dignified and factual speech he made. He has a very good influence on this House, and on me as well. Accordingly, in the first instance, I want to speak very nicely to the Opposition, but on the other hand I also wish to haul them over the coals.
It probably sounds strange that I could have sympathy with the Opposition. However, having read the annual report of the SATS and listened to the budget speech of the hon the Minister, and after having listened to the speeches of the hon members of the Opposition, I have good reason to have sympathy with them. Time and again they come up against a wall of facts—the wall of the SATS, that is built on a solid rock. I am grateful that I am not in the shoes of the Opposition. How can one criticize such an outstanding service?
Taking into account the unsatisfactory conditions prevailing at present, the SATS has done outstandingly well. Indeed, it sets an example to every organization in South Africa. Notwithstanding the negative factors, the SATS has maintained a proud record.
On the other hand I want to attack the Opposition. If one is in the Opposition benches one need not only criticize. One can also react positively. If they want to make a constructive contribution they need not rely on artificial or unreal amendments or motions, but should face the facts and draw objective conclusions. I wish to mention two examples. Last year, in Hansard of 5 March, col 2286, the hon member for Cape Town Gardens said the following in a similar debate:
Surely it is general knowledge that over the past number of years the SATS has been detrimentally affected by factors beyond its control. There was and is the world recession, the drop in the gold price and the drought. The Opposition is now suggesting that the SATS and the Government must not hide behind the world recession, the drop in the gold price and the drought, but that is really a very clever way of trying to evade the true facts. One cannot ignore the world recession. Nor can we gloss over the drought, because it has taken its toll. We cannot ignore the drop in the gold price either; its influence must be taken into account.
The Opposition suffers from yet another ailment, which by now we are used to. They contend that our political policy, our so-called ideology, our so-called discriminatory practices constitute the cause of the problems of the SATS. However, that is a superficial and unscientific argument to advance. Is our political policy, for example, the cause of the drop in the value of the rand? What about the position of the traditionally strong pound sterling? What about the German Mark and the monetary units of the major industrial countries? Do our politics play a role there, too? Is our political policy the cause of the rise in the fuel price since 1973 which has had such a destructive effect on the transport services of all countries? Is our ideology pursued there, too?
In this regard I should like to put a counter-question to all the Opposition parties. If they were to come to power, as a result of their radical policies South Africa would go the way of chaos, destruction and decay in all spheres. What would their policies cost the SATS? In terms of their policies there would be no losses for the SATS, but rather general destruction and decay. There would be no transport services; merely total stagnation, death and disorder. The cost of that is incalculable and in any event there would be no one to work out the cost, except for the people in Moscow, who would be smiling.
Against this background I decided to take an objective look at a few problem areas relating to different sections to determine how and where they arose and what solutions have been or could be applied in the short and long term in order to counter these problems. In the first place, let us consider the passenger services division. The problems being experienced as regards train passenger services are many and of a complex nature. I traced six problems in this regard. The first is the compulsory provision of uneconomic socio-economic commuter services and uneconomic local and inter-urban train services in the interests of the country. This means that passenger train services are operated at enormous and steadily increasing losses every year. The second problem is increasing operating costs. The third problem is that passenger traffic is linked to peak periods and high seasons, with the resultant poor utilization during off-peak and out-of-season periods. The fourth problem is the drop in the number of passengers due to the present poor economic situation. The fifth problem is the drop in the number of passengers, in that potential passengers are making use of other modes of transport. The sixth problem is evasion of fares.
There are short-term as well as long-term solutions to these problems, of which I want to mention only a few. The first solution is periodical adjustment of fares. The second is partial subsidization of commuter services by the central Government. Solution number three is undesirable, but inevitable, cross-subsidization by the remunerative services of the SATS. The fourth solution is a drastic reduction in the number of interurban trains. The fifth solution is intensive marketing, off-peak period fares and other incentive fares, and the sixth, a pilot scheme for automatic fare and gate control systems.
There have been outstanding achievements as well. The travelling times of various interurban trains have been drastically reduced, there is client-oriented service and new concepts of train travel such as the transit and daylight-sitter service and the taking into service of the Metroblitz high-speed trains. I found no detrimental, ideologically-determined factors here.
One of the biggest single problems as far as manpower is concerned is to obtain and retain suitable manpower. When such employees are obtained they gain such wide experience that their value as workers is such that they are recruited by other organizations. In fact, therefore, the SATS performs a training function for the country as a whole.
A major point of criticism is that the SATS does not carry out sufficient selection, training and development to satisfy the demand for manpower. However, the SATS has not allowed the grass to grow under its feet in this regard either. There was the development of the management evaluation centre by the SATS and the refinement of the technique to such an extent that various bodies country-wide have approached the SATS for assistance and guidance in this connection. Once again I could find no ideological restriction.
As far as the commercial division is concerned, the major source of criticism is the too high railage rates, particularly in regard to manufactured products and the relatively inflexible structures. However this situation has a history; please note, not an ideological history. The then SA Railways was obliged by statute to be run on business principles, to begin with, and to ask the same rates for the same services, and therefore was unable to refuse traffic in exceptional circumstances, and yet had to balance its own books, whereas on the other hand it had to promote the development and establishment of agriculture and industries in the republic by way of cheap transport. Please note, it did not have to promote an ideology, nor sectional interest, but the national interest. However the SATS cannot change its rates policy in one fell swoop, since such a step would have a detrimental effect on the economy of the country, particularly in certain sensitive sectors.
The biggest single achievement over the past decade as far as the goods services is concerned is undoubtedly the introduction of the concept of containerization and the introduction of rapid freight services and overnight services whereby the transit time of goods between consignor and consignee has been drastically reduced.
As far as harbours are concerned an important point of criticism is that of cross-subsidization. Harbour users object to this and agree that cross-subsidization must be limited to harbour services. Because it is expected of the SATS to provide socio-economic services at considerable losses, it is impossible to change the existing situation. In passing, does the Opposition know that the modern equipment and facilities at terminals, together with well-trained staff, ensure that results of world quality are achieved? Statistics comparing operating results place the South African harbours in the top position as far as the handling tempo of ships is concerned. A tempo of 1 000 containers per day is regarded as outstanding world-wide, whereas tempo’s of 1 200 holders per day are not exceptional in South African harbours. Therefore, going by the argument of the Opposition, our ideology is better than the world’s.
The final aspect to which I want to refer and to which the hon member for Rosettenville also referred is the present unfavourable economic climate. Do hon members of the Opposition fail to realize that the biggest single problem of the SAA is the present unfavourable economic climate. Did it arise as a result of the ideology of the Government? The single aspect which most influences the activities of the SAA is the rand-dollar exchange rate. All fuel is purchased in dollars. The present exchange rate, which has swung 51,8% in favour of the dollar within two years, has increased the fuel account of the SAA by 60%. The SAA has once again developed a new marketing strategy for the domestic market which has resulted in an increase of 16% in domestic traffic. Why has our ideology not played a negative role in this regard as well? What ideology plays a role in the airways of the world?
We have considerable appreciation for the client-oriented approach of the SATS, its economy campaigns, the loyalty and competence of its employees and its managerial techniques aimed at meeting the transport needs of all sectors of the economy, both now and in the future. The reason for this is that the common good is put first, and not sectional interests. Indeed, there is no crack in the wall of the SATS; it stands on a firm foundation.
Mr Chairman, it would seem that if one keeps on saying the same thing for a few years in succession, eventually it does elicit a response. In last year’s debate, I pointed out to the hon the Minister—on the basis of figures which I had discovered in his books—that in fact, the third-class passengers were the SATS’s best customers. At the stage he said:
I am glad that the hon the Minister himself has finally arrived at an understanding of the book and has realized that the Black third-class passengers are actually his best passengers. I am also very pleased that the hon the Minister has admitted that in this debate and has therefore increased the tariffs of first-and second-class passengers by more than those of third-class passengers.
I am going to show you tonight where you lied, my friend. I am going to show you.
The Minister can try…
On a point of order, Mr Chairman….
I withdraw the word, Mr Chairman.
The hon member for Greytown may proceed.
The hon the Minister is welcome to try, and then I shall have to come back to him next year.
†I think that in this era of change and rumours of change, the blatant discrimination in the personnel structure and in the service conditions of the SATS are totally out of step and can no longer be tolerated, either morally or economically. As was pointed out by my colleague, the hon member for Port Elizabeth Central, as regards service conditions, only Whites can be on the permanent staff, which obviously also gives them the best benefits in terms of housing, pensions, medical aid and so forth. Some Coloured and Indian persons have been allowed to fill on a permanent basis graded posts reserved for Whites, while some others are also allowed to fill such posts on a temporary basis. However, I am afraid that the motivation for this was not on the basis of a positive, determined policy of reform aimed at the elimination of discrimination. No, Sir, like most other reform measures, it had to be forced onto this Minister. This time it was not the result of violence, but merely of economic forces. In the annual report for 1983-84 of the SATS, on page 50, it is said that Blacks, Coloured and Indian persons will only be allowed to be appointed to permanent posts provided that they have held those very posts for four years on a temporary basis. This in itself is discriminatory because Whites can go on the permanent staff after only two years, and then not in a specific post.
However, what is more disturbing is the way in which those Coloured, Indian and Black people are even allowed to fill the posts on a temporary basis. This is as opposed to being in so-called “regular” or “contract” categories, as they normally are. On page 50 of the report of the SATS it is also said and I quote:
Only when no White applicants are available, will these people become temporary employees, and if they fill those posts for four years, they can be permanent employees.
Apart from the blatant discrimination, this raises some very pertinent questions. Firstly, now that Coloureds and Indians are represented in this Parliament, can it be tolerated that their constituents be excluded any longer from permanent employment on an equitable basis in the largest single employing organization in this country, one run by the Government?
Secondly, now that Blacks are considered a permanent feature of South African society, even in Crossroads, does the hon the Minister have the courage also to recognize them as permanent features in the workplace? Thirdly, does he really think that enough White workers will ever apply again in the next four years before those Blacks, Coloureds and Indians who are now temporary, can become permanent? I challenge the hon the Minister to strike another blow for reform. He can take a look at his colleague, the great Press-releaser from Crossroads. The steps for a perfect somersault take only five Press releases, and this can be achieved within one week.
The fourth question that it raises is not discrimination itself but the effect of this job reservation on the economy, not only on the economy of the SATS but on the economy in general. If we look at the personnel structure of the SATS, we see that 45% of that workforce is White, while in the total economy of South Africa the figure is 17%. Therefore, for every White worker in the SATS there are only 1,2 non-White workers. This very fact makes it dear that the private sector cannot compete with the SATS for lower and senior management and clerical positions as well as the more highly skilled class of worker, because these workers represent the bulk of the hon the Minister’s White workforce.
No employer in the private sector can afford the luxury to fish only in the pool of those who have received the best education and also those with the highest demands and expectations. From this sheltered position the hon the Minister’s White work force—I think they also used to be his voters—were able to bargain themselves into a wage structure which, I believe, is way above that which would have prevailed in an open supply and demand situation.
If the hon the Minister would have the courage to do away with job reservation and discrimination immediately, the SATS and the economy as a whole could only benefit. Firstly, the SATS would not t e held to ransom by its White workers who, as I have said, happen to be the best educated and the best trained people in the country. Pegging of salaries in an open supply and demand situation will set many well-educated and highly trained people free to be employed in the private sector where they are desperately needed to improve productivity so that South Africa can compete on open markets once again.
Higher salaries and high educational demands are not the only criteria when efforts are made to improve the efficiency of an organization. It is the total wage bill for a given output that matters. A reduction in the total wage bill can be achieved by other means as well; for instance, an increase in personnel at lower levels of skills and at lower salaries. The break-even point is very easy to determine.
With job reservation one does not know what the situation is, and this is even more disturbing. However, without artificial scarcity created by job reservation, the total wage bill can be reduced, quite simply because supply and demand will dictate the replacement of those people who can hold one to ransom by people with somewhat lower levels of demands and expectations.
Do you want lower salaries?
Lower salaries in an open supply and demand situation I am sure will reduce the total wage bill.
A good example of these demands, for instance, is the whole question of assisted housing. Last year R61 million was made available from capital funds to house 890 odd families, and the average loan was R68 626, while R157 million was made available from the pension fund and the average loan was R61 125. Let us look at the effects of these demands, which I maintain are unreasonably high if not downright dangerous. On a loan of R65 000 the Railway employee has to pay approximately R4 200 per annum. He is sponsored to the tune of more or less R8 500. If that person was in the private sector or if the total assistance he received was added to his remuneration for tax purposes, then his average wage should be R48 000 for him to be able to repay his housing loan. That is if one takes the normal dictum of one quarter of one’s salary being spent on housing.
When we look at the personnel complement, we discover that only 200-odd people in this organization earn more than R42 000. The media wage or salary for the White group is approximately only R17 500. So this hon Minister will really have to take a very hard look at this housing policy, for the sake of his own employees as well. I suggest that he immediately pegs the level of the loans as granted. This will prevent him from facing huge hikes or wage demands as the effect of the perks tax becomes more severe over the next five years. I believe, too, that this will contribute to moderating housing standards, or demands for housing standards for Whites in general, because that hon Minister employs more than 100 000 Whites. The potential for violence because of the increasing gap between White and Black housing will then in my opinion also diminish.
This year, as I said, the SATS spent R61 million to house about 900 families. At the same time about R80 million was spent to build at Khayelitsha 5 000 houses, schools and other amenities. The comparative factor is thus about 6:1 in terms of standards of housing. However, the children from Khayelitsha will enter the job market in a few years’ time, many of them with the same qualifications as their young White counterparts. In this competition for jobs, I suggest, the White child will not be able to afford the suburban palace built by his father. I suggest also that the young Black person will not be satisfied with the self-help site at Crossroads for which his father had to fight. The answer obviously lies somewhere in between. I believe that, by pegging the housing loans now, this hon Minister can help to moderate the shock to young Whites in the future, and some capital will also be set free to meet some of the legitimate claims of young Black people.
I started by pointing out that the personnel mix in the SATS did not reflect the population figures in South Africa—not that that should be the final determining factor, but it does not resemble any other part of the workforce of South Africa. As the biggest employer in the country, this hon Minister should embark immediately on a positive and determined programme to correct the situation. The SATS and the economy can only benefit from it, but more important, I think that in this day and age such blatant discrimination can no longer be tolerated.
Mr Chairman, the hon member for Greytown put various questions. He devoted his entire speech to questions which he put to the hon the Minister. Inter alia, he challenged the hon the Minister to reply to some of his questions. I assume that the hon the Minister will deal with him properly.
There is only one matter raised by the hon member to which I would also like to refer. It concerns the questions of salaries. If I understood him correctly, the hon member argued in favour of lower salaries for employees of the SATS.
Yes, that is what he said.
I therefore want to ask whether, under those circumstances, the hon member also wants more staff to be dismissed.
Yes, that is what he wants.
Does he want more staff dismissed in order to maintain the present level of productivity?
The hon the Minister must also be dismissed.
Jan, I will deal with you later, too. Does the hon member for Greytown want even more people to be dismissed so that the present degree of productivity can be maintained? I would very much like an answer to this question.
Since this debate commenced, we have had to listen to criticism, very little of which I think was constructive. All these matters are being politicized. Some hon members opposite try to score political points in almost every matter; even the smallest and most insignificant matters are politicized.
I want to raise a completely different matter. I want to indicate that there is co-operation in many spheres. I wish to discuss the excellent service the SATS renders. Before coming to that, however, I first want to convey my congratulations on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the SATS. I want to place it on record that the SATS has gone from strength to strength during these 75 years. We therefore hope and trust that many years of prosperity and large profits await the SATS.
I also want to congratulate the hon the Minister on this fine Budget of his. An hon member of the Official Opposition—unfortunately he is not here now—said of this Budget that it would not show a debit balance at the end of the financial year, but a surplus.
That is not the only factor that makes a budget a good one.
Man, you keep quiet for a change!
I only wanted to correct you.
You don’t say! [Interjections.] Of course, the reason for this is because we have an excellent hon Minister who has introduced a first-class Budget. To achieve this, however, numerous negotiations and talks had to be conducted beforehand. I should now like to pay tribute to Dr Bart Grové, his able management team, as well as every member of staff of the SATS for the efficient way in which they acquitted themselves of a very difficult task.
I should really like to confine myself to the reason for the success that is being achieved, and the labour peace in the ranks of the SATS. I want to emphasize this aspect. I want to place it on record that there is labour peace. No one can deny that. Immediately we ask how that labour peace is brought about. I want to answer that myself. This is achieved by the healthy labour relations and staff representation of the SATS. We are aware of this. For a very long time, experts have discussed, argued and speculated about a proper definition of the term labour relations. Whether they have reached consensus is still being questioned at this stage. Let us look at practice, however. In this respect I come back to the SATS. I maintain that the SATS places a high premium on the maintenance of sound labour relations and also accepts, in striving for this, that within the legal framework the employee is entitled to unhindered participation in the process of collective negotiation and bargaining concerning matters affecting his own conditions of service and existence. I want to emphasize most strongly what I have just said. In fact, one could never overemphasize it. I am doing so because it is so extremely important to me. Within the legal framework the employee is permitted to participate unhindered in collective negotiation and bargaining concerning matters affecting his own conditions of service and existence. For many decades the SATS has experienced an exceptional degree of labour peace, and one immediately wants to know what this could be ascribed to. Firstly, there is an efficient negotiation structure which affords employees the opportunity to make representations and to take problems up to the highest level. We are accused of the fact that if people come with representations, those representations progress as far as the first official, and that they then land up in the wastepaper basket. I deny that. I categorically deny that, because we are aware that those problems are taken to the highest level. Secondly, the sound relations that are maintained with trade unions and the influence this has on labour peace cannot be discounted. Once again a finger is pointed at our trade unions in this respect, and it is said that those people are dissatisfied with the treatment they are given, that they are unable to achieve what they stand for and for which they make representations on behalf of their members. However, it should be mentioned that negotiations with trade unions take place on a continuous basis in a spirit of open-heartedness and mutual understanding. Once again I want to thank our General Manager and his staff for seeing to it that this does in fact happen, since this is precisely what brings about mutual trust and respect. It can therefore be said without fear of contradiction that relations between the SATS and the recognized—and I emphasize “recognized”—trade unions are extremely sound. We were criticized in this regard in certain opposition circles, but until now not one of them has brought it up. Once again I want to focus their attention on what I have said, and I want to quote what Dr Loubser, the former General Manager of the SATS, had to say:
There is criticism because every employee cannot belong to the staff association of his choice. We again had problems in this regard a week or so ago.
However, I wonder whether hon members in this House are familiar with the facts. Are we familiar with the facts? I should like to point to some of the problems. There were already problems in the earliest years. In one such case, many of the “vakunies”, as they were called then … I am interrupting myself, because I can see that the hon member of the CP is not listening properly and that he will start asking questions in a moment. Some of the trade unions to which I referred had members outside the SATS, which meant that employees of the SATS were involved in actions …
What are you going to do about it?
The hon member must listen, then he will know. The hon member must not be so impatient. He will hear in a moment what we are going to do about it. Members were involved in actions that had nothing to do with the organizations.
Do not be so angry.
No, I am not angry.
In turn, external members influenced matters which affected only the SATS. We could continue singling out problems in this vein.
Do you speak to the Black trade unions as well?
I am coming to that, but to satisfy that hon member, I could point out that at this stage there are 235 000 employees of the SATS who are represented in 11 trade unions. The hon member ought to be aware of this.
And almost all the Whites favour the CP.
No. There are four trade unions for Whites; three for multiracial membership; two are exclusively for Coloureds; one for Indians; and one represents Black employees. Everyone is given representation, and the problem of the hon member for Langlaagte is therefore solved. These 11 trade unions are registered in terms of the Labour Relations Act, 1965 (Act No 28 of 1965) as amended, and talks between the executive committees of these trade unions and the Minister are usually held once a year. Consequently, they also have talks with the Minister and the executive committee of the SATS.
Out of the total labour force—I find this significant—72,5% of the employees belong to the recognized trade unions. The position in respect of the individual population groups is as follows: Whites 83,3%; Indians, 82,6%; Coloureds, 76,6% and Blacks, 62,5%. These trade unions are also represented on the various boards and committees.
Liaison officers have also been appointed. Provision has also been made for White liaison officers in each region whose primary task it is to see to the personal complaints of Coloured, Indian and Black employees and to give them advice. The sense of responsibility which the staff of the SATS has displayed during the past few years deserves the greatest praise. When criticism had to be endured due to various factors, they overcame it and continued to render good service.
We must continue to build on the basis of co-operation in order to face the issues of the future. The economic position of our country means that we are dealing with delicate factors, and this demands that everyone—this includes the management, middle management, supervisors and organized labour—work together very closely in order to move forward and make a success of the task each one has for the welfare and prosperity of this beautiful country of ours.
Mr Chairman, there is one railway matter I should like to dwell on briefly on this occasion, particularly since it is of current importance to my constituency as well. It concerns the present policy of the SATS to close uneconomic branch lines.
Before coming to that, I just want to say a few words about our relations with neighbouring states. In this regard we must take cognizance that the Republic of South Africa develops and maintains relations with its Southern African neighbouring states on the basis and principle that each one is politically independent, but they are all economically interdependent.
The SATS plays an important role in the maintenance and development of that policy. It is also pre-eminently suited to, and capable of playing this role due to the fact—as the hon the Minister put it on occasion—that the main artery of any country’s economic activities is its system of transport. In this regard, a former General Manager of the SATS, Dr J G H Loubser, had this to say on occasion:
As far as the transport infrastructure of the SATS is concerned, everything that is necessary is placed at the disposal of this country’s neighbouring states. We do not do so in a spirit of charity or with a patronizing attitude, but we do so because it makes economic sense and it is regarded as being in our own economic interests. In this regard, just as in many other spheres, for example, trade, the Republic plays the role of the strong, benevolent, kindly neighbour of Southern Africa. Trade and transport are probably the two spheres in which the greatest impact and contribution are made to normalizing relations with our neighbouring states. This leads to the strengthening of the RSA’s position as the primus inter pares in respect of our neighbouring states on the subcontinent.
The SATS has always been, and still is, prepared to accept transport supplied to and from neighbouring states as normal business transactions. No problems are experienced with admission and conveyance on the railway lines of the SATS.
Meetings of general managers of railways in Southern Africa are held annually. At the most recent meeting held in Johannesburg on 17 September 1984, there were 16 delegates from six of our neighbouring states, viz Zaire, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique and Swaziland. They met around a table with the SATS to discuss common problems.
I would have liked to have said more about the fruits of these talks because it is important. However, there is not sufficient time at my disposal. I just want to mention that in the case of Mozambique, the flow of rail traffic to and from that country is covered by a business agreement. Regular bimonthly liaison takes place alternately in Johannesburg and Maputo. The SAA and the Mozambican airline, LAM, each undertook one return flight a week between the two countries in 1983-84.
I also just want to refer to Botswana. At the request of the Government of Botswana the SATS undertook an extensive study on the transport of that country’s coal across South African territory to export harbours. A rail link from Botswana to Ellisras seems to be the obvious solution. There is also regular flights between Gaberone and Johannesburg, which have been undertaken solely by Air Botswana since June 1983. The SAA also undertook these flights previously. I shall let these remarks with regard to relations with the neighbouring states suffice.
I should now like to turn to the discussion of the other matter I brought up, viz the closure of uneconomic branch lines. The reason and justification for the declared policy of the SATS that the closure of such branch lines is being considered, is reasonably obvious, in my opinion. Particularly in the present economic circumstances it would be irresponsible to continue to run branch lines that cannot be run at a profit.
At the same time, of course, it is understandable that there is usually strong resistance from the communities concerned to terminating a service to which they have long been accustomed, and which is greatly appreciated because it means a great deal to them.
It so happens that my constituency, Sundays River, is also affected by the department’s policy. I should like to attest to our experience in this regard, more specifically concerning the way in which, in our experience, the administration goes about such a matter in practice.
Firstly, we must ask whether this policy is justified. We are aware that cross-subsidization is an accepted principle in public services such as Railways, Harbours and Airways, since it is simply impossible, practically speaking, to run each separate section in such a service profitably. However, then we must also accept that although cross-subsidization is recognized as a principle, it should be restricted to an absolute minimum in practice. The explanation for the phenomenon of uneconomic branch lines can be traced back to the initial development instruction by the SATS in the Constitution, an instruction which was later incorporated in the SATS Consolidation Act. That is to stimulate the development of agriculture by building railway lines, this led to the building of a number of lines branching off from the main lines to remote areas, without the viability of such a branch line being checked at regular intervals. Over the years, some of the branch lines were run uneconomically due mainly to a low traffic volume, low tariffs, particularly on agricultural and forestry products, and, of course, increasing running expenses. The development of better roads and faster road transport also contributed to rail traffic being converted into road traffic. Of course, this further impaired the viability of the branch lines.
It sometimes happens that community or political influence against the closure of an underutilized station, or the curtailment of train services on branch lines leads to services on branch lines not being reduced in accordance with the decline in traffic. We are all aware what influence resistance from a community can have in such cases, and that is why it sometimes happens that action in this regard is delayed for longer than is really desirable, economically speaking. One must look at the practical position as far as these branch fines are concerned. Losses on the running of uneconomic branch lines were estimated at R170 million in 1983-84. That is a considerable amount. The traffic volume on 98 branch lines covering 3 315 kilometres throughout the country was used as a criterion to draw up a priority list in terms of which the branch lines are systematically evaluated more closely. The evaluation of uneconomic branch fines primarily entails an active marketing campaign to increase the market share of rail traffic in the regions concerned, and in so doing, ensuring the right of the branch line to exist. It has also been said before that when it is found that there is prima facie justification for the closure of a line, the community concerned is given the opportunity to prove the viability of that branch line, or to restore it if it no longer exists at that stage. If and when the market share of rail traffic has declined to such an extent that the running of the branch line concerned can no longer be justified economically, it is essential that a proper analysis be made of the situation. Every individual branch line is then evaluated thoroughly to determine whether the service concerned cannot be rendered cheaper by a road transport service.
Let me indicate what the position is with regard to branch lines that have been closed or the closure of which is being considered. The following branch lines have already been closed: Estcourt-Weenen on 1 September 1983; Fort Beaufort-Seymour on 1 April 1984; and Molteno-Jamestown also on 1 April 1984. I understand that the Mid Illovo-Umlaas Road line is to close this week on 1 March. Those still under consideration are the following: Assegaaibos-Avontuur; Barkly Bridge-Alexandria, which includes my own constituency; Schoombee-Hofmeyr; Bowker’s Park-Tarkastad; and Oudtshoorn-Calitzdorp as well.
I want to state that when it comes to considering the closure of a railway line, the SATS goes about it very fairly. I should very much like to avail myself of this opportunity to attest to the way in which they go about it, to the fairness, patience, and particularly the courtesy with which that particular community is being treated and negotiated with.
I can only say that the branch line in my constituency to which I referred is being run so uneconomically at present that any right-thinking person would accept that there is justification for considering—I emphasize considering—its closure. I concede that this is the prima facie situation and that consequently it is correct that the SATS has not yet closed it, but is in fact considering its closure. Of course, a branch line is not simply closed. The service is replaced by an equally efficient road transport service.
Business suspended at 18h45 and resumed at 20h00.
Mr Chairman, I have already given recognition to, and expressed appreciation for, the way in which the SATS has gone about considering decisions for the closure of uneconomic branch lines. With regard to the case to which I referred, I also want to attest to the fact that the negotiations were a very fine demonstration of dialogue between the administration and the community concerned. In my opinion, it was also a fine demonstration of respecting the golden rule of hearing the other side, and I want to thank the hon the Minister and his department most sincerely for that.
The sword of the possible closure of that line is still hanging over us. We believe that it would be justified if the closure is not proceeded with—at least not under the present circumstances and not summarily. I do not want to try to provoke the hon the Minister into announcing decisions if the time for doing so is not ripe, but if he could remove that sword hanging over us—even in his reply to this debate—I would of course welcome it.
I want to make special mention of the people who have treated us very well. Firstly, I want to mention the members of the board of the SATS. I must also mention Dr Coetzee, the Assistant General Manager (Commercial), who was the chief negotiator. I want to bear witness that he is a diplomat par excellence, and we thank him for the way in which he conducted the negotiations. We must also mention the regional manager of Port Elizabeth, Mr Engelbrecht, and the officials who assisted him, and in particular, Mr Buitendag, who led the investigation. We found the entire exercise to be a pleasant experience.
If time allows, I just want to tell the hon the Minister that we have identified one problem with this investigation: The question arose—since closure is not simply going to take place, but the introduction of a road transport service is also being investigated— as to whether the public transport contractors are making a rightful contribution to the building and maintenance of roads, which would have to carry a great deal more traffic in such a case. The one important consideration for closure is not only that it is uneconomical, but also whether an effective and equally efficient road transport service can be introduced.
We then come to the question: Who is co-responsible for the building and maintenance of roads that have to be used in the place of the railway line? Who is jointly responsible for this? From these negotiations, it was considered that the private sector, and more specifically the transport contractors, could also well make a greater contribution. Perhaps this is also a matter to which the hon the Minister, as Minister of Transport Affairs, could give his attention.
Mr Chairman, I want to request the hon the Minister to give serious attention to the pensions of the 44 000 employees who have left the services of the SATS since 1982, as well as the cases of the 6 000 employees who also left the service of the SATS after that date. These are circumstances which arose as a result of the fact that we are mechanizing. In other words, it is not that these people delivered poor work, but merely that it was possible to get on without them.
I therefore call for the suspension of adverse work practices whereby people do not get the ordinary interest on their payments. I also request the hon the Minister to see to it that the annuities that these people are entitled to are also paid to them.
We can go back to the time before 1981, when the hon the Minister made the adjustment. At that time there were still people of the age of 65 years whose annuities had not yet been paid to them because the hon the Minister could refuse by regulation to pay them. Nor was the interest on those annuities paid to those people. I request that a minor amendment to the Act be effected, as was done in 1981, so that those people may be paid. Some of the people who left the service are people who have already reached an advanced age and cannot obtain work in the open market. At present the unemployment rate in this country is so high that even young people are unable to obtain work. This is a very major problem in the case of the ordinary railway official who, in many instances, is not qualified to the extent that he possesses an exceptional technical knowledge, but who has nevertheless rendered good service over the course of many years. In this connection I call to mind, for example, officials who, between 1965 and 1980, could claim payment of 50% of their annuities. I know that the hon the Minister may refuse this, but I want to ask whether, in the present time, this is the practical thing to do. Would it not be possible to re-consider this situation? The hon the Minister has surely put it to the Cabinet that mechanization would mean that at least 40 000 people would have to leave the service.
Who told you that they have mechanized?
The great problem with that hon member is that he is still angry because years ago I blackballed him so that he was unable to become a member of the Broederbond. [Interjections.] He still holds that against me. Forget that now, man, I do not want to discuss it again. Your brothers have now got us into difficulties.
Order! The two brothers must now come back to the legislation.
I request that attention be given to the pensioners and to those of them who retired before 1973. One cannot get away from the fact that as one becomes older it does not mean that one needs less. One still eats the same, one moves with greater difficulty, one needs transport more urgently and one needs more supervision. That is why I say that more attention must be given to the pensioners.
And medical expenses.
Yes, and their medical expenses. I agree.
Another important aspect, as far as I am concerned, is to see whether the Budget is more or less balanced. I now wish to speak seriously to the hon the Minister. He is a cunning fellow, and I mean it in the good sense of the word. Something he did in this Budget which I really take amiss of him is that he increased railage rates and tried to avert criticism by saying that it was the “fat cats” that made use of the Blue Train. However, freight rates were also increased by 7,6%. This is an unnatural situation. There must be someone else who subsidizes the freight. The hon the Minister is using the salary of his staff to subsidize this. An increase of 10% would have meant that R287 million would have been paid out to the staff. All that is happening now is that the hon the Minister is making Assocom, the SA Handelsinstituut and the Chamber of Commerce happy, and the staff are having a hard time of it in the difficult economic climate prevailing at present. The 13% rate of inflation hits the worker who has to look after his family, very hard. Do hon members know what 13% of the salary packet of these workers means? It is R331 million less that workers will have in their pockets due to the high rate of inflation. He has R331 less than last year, and there is no sign of an increase. The hon the Minister appeared on television to tell the world that rates had only been increased by 7,6% when he knew, after all, that he would be prejudicing the worker, the salary man and the labourer to the tune of 10%, and in the mean time these people have to cope with a 13% inflation rate. [Interjections.] We cannot get away from the fact that nowadays the railway worker is being treated like a stepchild. The percentages worked out in this Budget are very clever. Most people will not be able to calculate the percentage of the weight of a cow as against the percentage of the weight of cheese transported in trains, etc. That is not how it works. The man in the street does not perform such calculations. However, if one tells him that it costs 42c or 58c per sheep transported by train, he will say: My goodness, but that is quite a weight just to get it into the wagon. The rates are now determined according to weight, viz so many kilos of cattle, so many kilos of sheep and even so many kilos of cheese. I do not say that the hon the Minister has not done good work for the SATS, but he is cutting the throats of the workers. Those people have to pull the plough, tomorrow and the day after. They cannot make a living in an economy in which increases of 22% are deemed necessary by the Government without any salary increase. Moreover, there is at present a rate of inflation running between 13% and 18%.
How do they weigh you? In sheep or in pigs?
No, they usually weigh me in troy, that is to say, the unit of weight for gold.
The problem today is that the Government is concentrating its attention on mixing. I am gravely concerned at the Government’s pursuing this policy, and I want to tell the hon the Minister what happened to me. I went along to Port Elizabeth and attended a very good meeting there and participated in a very good investigation. For the entire two days an effort was made to direct the camera—and those who were there, know it—so as to take a picture of me and a Coloured or something else. This was probably done with the aim of placing it in some journal or other.
Are you opposed to that?
I am certainly opposed to that. I choose with whom I wish to be photographed. I want to say this because the people who know that this was done, are present. I want to warn them not to do it. I shall mention them in this House by name. It is not the work of a railway official to try to take such photographs. It has been done in the past. However, I want to issue a warning that my photograph must not be placed in any SATS publication if I have refused to be photographed. Such efforts to propagate so-called mixing must not be proceeded with. [Interjections.] Over the years I have had a special feeling for the SATS. However, there was a person who, during the meeting at Port Elizabeth, was constantly instructing the photographer to take a picture of me together with a Coloured or an Indian. I choose to be photographed with whom I like. Under no circumstances will I be used to promote this Government’s political escapades.
Mr Chairman, the hon member who has just resumed his seat spoke so incoherently that I still do not know what his argument was really about. The hon member made no contribution to this evening’s debate. All he complained about was that he is not photogenic enough to be photographed. In addition, he indulged in a lot of racism. It does not befit us to speak about things of that nature when we are dealing with serious matters like the Budget of the SATS. However, I do not want to waste any more time on that hon member.
I should like to raise a matter that has been given little attention thus far in this debate, viz that fine service, the SAA. When one looks at the working results of the SAA over the past year, it is very encouraging to see that the picture is a great deal better than last year. There has been a considerable improvement in the number of passengers conveyed by the SAA, as well as in the mass of air freight that has been conveyed during the past year. This occurred despite a seriously weakened economy and higher fuel prices, as well as many other factors. It is indeed an exceptional achievement on which I should like to congratulate the management. The hon the Minister mentioned this in his Budget speech as well, and said that amongst other things, it could be ascribed to improved efficiency and a more dynamic marketing plan. Certain concessions that were granted also contributed to bringing air transport within the reach of the man in the street. I believe that this also gave the tourist industry in South Africa a considerable boost. I am referring to this because I should like to indicate during the course of my speech that the development and running of an effective and comprehensive air transport industry in South Africa is essential to the economic welfare of our country and all its people. This trend of an increase in air passengers and cargo traffic to which I referred, emphasizes the fact that air traffic is becoming an increasingly important factor in the public interest. You will therefore allow me briefly to record my concern about the position and development of the aviation industry in South Africa.
When we look at the overall aviation industry in South Africa, everyone who is involved in that industry would concede that for specific reasons it has not yet really been able to develop to its full potential. When I say this, I am excluding the SAA. As a result of this backlog, the aviation industry has been prevented from ensuring its rightful place in the creation of infrastructure in our country, in which transport plays such an extremely important role.
Why has this happened?
If only the hon member would listen, he would find out. I am still coming to that.
In the broad context, transport makes a very important contribution to the gross domestic product of our country. The various forms of transport, ie our sea, land and air transport, and more specifically, its quality, availability and frequency, affect the lifestyle of every South African in general, and economic development in particular.
The development strategy of a country must therefore be of such a nature that specific goals can be achieved. The available economic resources, for example, its transport network, must be utilized in such a way, that the best results can be obtained in terms of its economic goals. [Interjections.] Mr Chairman, if that hon member who is making such a noise in between, wants to ask me a question, he may do so.
When one examines the aviation industry in South Africa—with the exception of the SAA—one cannot help being concerned about the particular role the private carrier is permitted to play. For obvious reasons, which I do not think it is necessary to spell out here this evening, it is extremely important for a developing country like South Africa to have a strong civil aviation industry. Statistics show that during the 1983-84 financial year, 90% of all scheduled air passengers in South Africa were conveyed across the main routes in South Africa by the SA Airways, which was assisted by feeder services from the smaller to the larger centres.
The question which now arises, is whether this state of affairs fits in with the framework of a system in which entrepreneurial and consumer freedom and private ownership ought to play a fundamental role. What I am saying, therefore, is altogether in accordance with the guidelines for economic policy which the State President, in his capacity as Prime Minister, set out at the Carlton Conference on 22 November 1979. Of course, this principle is also contained in the preamble to our Constitution. Apart from that, the Margo Commission of Inquiry into Civil Aviation also strongly emphasized this principle in its report, and it was supported by the Government.
One of the most important factors that has always had a negative influence on the Budget of the SATS is the tremendous social commitments it has to meet. The SATS is expected to run a rail and road network by rendering a service to the entire population of South Africa, which, in many cases, causes tremendous losses due to the low density of that traffic. However, these services have to be rendered despite the losses they cause, and there is not a single private entrepreneur who is prepared to render these uneconomic services. Instead, the SATS finds itself in the position that it has to compete very strongly with the private sector on the open market for less than 50% of the total economic market share.
The point I want to make, however, is that the position is completely different in respect of the air transport industry in South Africa. Just the opposite is true. Tonight I want to say without fear of contradiction that it is by no means necessary for the SATS to run a single uneconomic service, as is the case with the rail and road services. There are sufficient private entrepeneurs in this industry who, from the nature of the equipment they use, can in fact render such services on an economic basis.
However, I want to make it very clear to the hon the Minister that I am not pleading for anything which would be to the detriment of the SA Airways, nor am I in any way pleading for direct competition with this service. What I am pleading for is not a new principle. I am speaking of those things about which debates have been conducted for a long time and which have also been brought to the fore by the Margo Commission.
The hon member for Port Elizabeth Central referred to privatization and deregulation. I would not go that far, however. The hon member, however, is so naïve as to believe that one can simply press a button and all these things will simply just happen. It is not that easy. I think the SA Airways needs certain protection, but today I plead that from the protected position in which it finds itself, the SA Airways will extend the hand of friendship to the private air carriers of South Africa to a much greater extent. I am of the opinion that there is much room for greater rationalization and co-operation, not only to the advantage of the SAA and the private air carriers, but in the interests of the whole of South Africa. It is in the interests of the whole of South Africa, since civil aviation in South Africa is really facing a crisis, and we cannot get away from that. No one would benefit if this were to happen. That industry has an extremely important role to fulfil, and I should like to address this House on that score on another occasion. I do not think there is one hon member who would disagree with me in this regard, not even the hon member for Port Elizabeth Central. I said that there was a great deal of room for greater co-operation between the SAA and the private air carriers. I should like to refer to a few examples in the short time at my disposal.
When we study the passenger density on the various routes served by the SAA with a jet service, we see that on certain routes there is simply not the traffic density to justify a jet service. Could private air carriers that can in fact provide such a service to the public on an economic basis not be used on these routes? Such private air carriers could then gather more passengers at the larger centres for the SAA, which could convey them on the main routes from there. If, for example, a private company were to be allowed to fly from Johannesburg to say, my town, Kroonstad, and then to Welkom and Kimberley and to land at Bloemfontein, the SAA would already be eliminating one uneconomic landing in Kimberley. [Interjections.] The SAA could then be assured of many more passengers in Bloemfontein.
You are talking nonsense now. [Interjections.]
The hon member for Kimberley North disagrees with me, but then the hon member see to it that there are more passengers in Kimberley who can board the Boeing.
There are various routes which, if the passenger density were to be analysed, would lend themselves to such a co-operative agreement. I am also referring, for example, to our single 737 flight to Maputo. We should like to encourage the tourist industry there, and at present one can only fly there. Could the private air carrier not be permitted to introduce a service on that route in the interim? I am simply asking— the hon the Minister could perhaps reply to this.
Then there is a very important matter. I want to refer to the regional services across our borders, to our neighbouring states and the national states. At present there is a bilateral agreement in terms of which these states run a service on behalf of the SAA. Today private carriers can quite rightly ask why they were not taken into consideration during the negotiations with those neighbouring states and why they, as South African companies and airlines, were not afforded the opportunity to run those routes. I ask the hon the Minister to give his attention to this. I find it a great pity that this had to happen, since I was very closely connected to this industry for 27 years and I know those people who have come a very long way and worked very hard to build the private air services up from scratch to where they are today. Due to the inhibiting factors to which I have referred, however, they can never really be expanded to their full potential. I think that the Government should create better opportunities for them. I want to ask the hon the Minister not to regard what I have said as excessively critical. We have to look at these matters, since it is in the interests of the aviation industry in South Africa, which we dare not weaken. We should rather try to strengthen it with a view to the future, when things will once again go will in South Africa.
I take pleasure in supporting the proposals of the hon the Minister at second reading.
Mr Chairman, it is a pleasure to listen to a constructive speech such as the one just delivered by the hon member for Kroonstad. He has indeed made a positive contribution to this debate. His speech has been really worthwhile. If he will excuse me, however, I should like to come back to the speech made by the hon member for Primrose.
In his speech the hon member said something I could not quite catch. I tried to find out from Hansard what he had said but I was not successful. Did the hon member for Primrose perhaps say that the regional services would have to be prepared to make a contribution towards commuter transport of approximately R1 billion a year? If it is indeed so it is the most significant thing that has been said in this House during the course of this debate. It highlights completely the fact that these three new taxes on regional services are not taxes that replace other taxes; that they are essentially new taxes. It is all very well of course. One can say that they are new taxes aimed at meeting a new purpose. One can then, however, not look at our overall tax system and at our tax levels and say that this is a reasonably taxed, or even a highly taxed, organization. One has to take those new taxes into consideration. Then one will find that in our taxation system we are completely out of phase with almost every other country we can think of. This is going to have very, very serious effects on our economy.
This particular department with which we are dealing now is much stronger than it appears. It has shown a robust ability to look after itself, which, if it were a private-enterprise organization, one might admire. It does, however, fit very easily into the category of protected bully. This is a very unhealthy situation. It could also cause a situation to develop among senior staff in which they begin to look at what is good for the SATS as being good for the whole country, instead of the other way around. That would not be fair. If it were a private organization it would be profitable. It would make significant profits, and this is to a large extent owing to the difference in depreciation of fixed assets.
A private-enterprise company has to produce audited accounts. It depreciates those fixed assets on the basis of their historic value. The SATS, on the other hand, is allowed to give consideration to an additional depreciation, which is equivalent to a depreciation of the difference between the historic value of its assets and the replacement value of those same assets. When, in addition to that, one thinks that a private-enterprise company pays as tax more or less 50% of its profits, one stands back in awe that a private-sector enterprise can compete with the SATS despite problems it has with permits, despite the fact that the SATS to a large extent controls those permits, despite biased transportation boards, despite draconian and arbitrary fines which it has to meet, and despite harassment by the Department’s own police force, which inhibit its ability to use in the lawful course of its business, the public highways. In addition the SATS has an advantage of fuel price, although I have not been able to ascertain exactly what that advantage is. Can the hon the Minister tell us whether the SATS pay customs and excise duty of 3,987c a litre? Do they pay the price equalization subsidy of 2c, and the further equalization sum of 4,7c, a contribution to the National Road Fund of 5c, and also GST? We should like to know which of those things the SATS also pay.
Must I answer now?
It will be in order if the hon the Minister answers these questions when he replies to the debate.
Then there is also the question of duties. The SATS do not pay duties on significant capital purchases, neither do they pay licence fees to any extent. They pay very much reduced licence fees. To talk about there being unfair competition from the private sector is ridiculous—it is like Russia saying she is threatened by Afghanistan. It is utter nonsense.
Two identical operations can be used as an example to prove that I am not exaggerating. Let us suppose that there is an operation of the hon the Minister involving a capital employment of R1 million, and that there is a private sector operation involving the same capital employment. Both have book value assets of R700 000 and the replacement value of both those sets of assets is R1,1 million. Both make the same return of 20% on capital employed before depreciation but after tax. This is how these two operations would compare by the end of one year. Both would make a gross profit of R200 000; both would depreciate this by R140 000 on a basis of 20% depreciation and both would make a net profit of R60 000. The private company would then have to pay tax of R30 000 and the remaining R30 000 would be totally insufficient to service its own equity. The SATS would then take the further depreciation, which it would be entitled to, of another R56 000 and announce in Parliament that it had had to increase its rates. Therefore, at the end of that period the SATS would have put 40% more than the private company back into its reserves in order to buy new plant and new equipment at escalating prices. It is an absolute indictment of the SATS that in the face of all these enormous advantages, it needs all these additional protective measures to compete with the private sector.
I should like now to raise a particular issue with the hon the Minister which concerns the transport of all goods—manufactured goods and raw material—to Port Elizabeth. The Government comes rushing to the aid of the maize farmer in times of drought or, when a city or a town has been hit by floods, it is prepared to dip into its coffers to help those people. However, in Port Elizabeth where there are hundreds of thousands of people who, at the moment, depend completely on the health and progress of industry, the Government turns a blind eye to their plight.
The motor industry in Port Elizabeth is at a disadvantage of between R150 and R200 per vehicle because the motor vehicle is manufactured there. This is so because much of the raw material comes from the PWV area, since the centre of gravity of the market is there. That has now been reduced by approximately half the amount by this new package of incentives but a deficit of R15 million per annum still has to be overcome.
The Government owes Port Elizabeth something. There is no doubt whatsoever about this. The Government subsidizes commuter transport in the four major metropolitan areas. The loss on Black commuter transport in the four metropolitan areas is estimated to be approximately R300 million. Based on the number of journeys registered, 55% of commuters are in the PWV area, 23% in Durban, 21% in Cape Town and 1% in Port Elizabeth. However, Port Elizabeth has 11,4% of the workers. As a result of cross-subsidization—call it what you will; the loss that is borne by the whole transport organization—Port Elizabeth gets R3 million instead of R30 million. This is something that definitely deserves consideration.
Finally, I should like to talk about the railage of steel. I believe that a new system should be established whereby the producer pays the railage on steel. That railage should then be collated and distributed evenly on a per ton basis right across the field of steel usage, so that there will be a uniform steel price throughout the country. It is not difficult. It is done in the case of tyres and even in the case of motor-cars today. That way one will get a sensible “aansporingsmaatreël” for decentralization in industry. It would create a flat, level situation so that any industrialist can look at it to decide where best he can establish his plant, and he can do so without the Government having to make a decision to tell him where he must go and perhaps influencing him wrongly.
Mr Chairman, the hon member for Walmer seemed to continue with the debate which we had here the other day on a private member’s motion moved by himself. May I point out right at the beginning that private enterprise, as far as commuter services are concerned, is also protected. It is not the case that only the SATS is protected. One finds that commuter services, where the service element is an essential element of the business, cannot be run as profitably as any other normal private enterprise business but must be subsidized because otherwise it cannot be operated successfully.
Mr Chairman, may I ask the hon member whether I have ever talked about protection of transport? I did not talk about protection, and therefore I think the hon member is on the wrong track.
Mr Chairman, I thought that the hon member for Walmer wanted to ask me a question, but now he seems to be making a statement. [Interjections.]
Order! The hon member for Port Elizabeth North may proceed.
I should like to take this somewhat further. The hon member for Walmer said that the private sector would pay income tax, but if such a private company does not make a profit, just as the SATS is not making a profit, it does not pay income tax. [Interjections.] One of the reasons why the SATS does not make a profit, is naturally the nature of the services which it renders. The SATS has to cope with the service aspect of its business.
The hon member also pleaded for a uniform steel price. I wonder whether the hon member is really serious about that because it is obvious that, should the principle of a uniform steel price be applied throughout the country, it might just as well happen that a uniform petrol price be applied throughout the country too. I think the hon member must realize that there are certain advantages which are attached to the situation of Port Elizabeth but which are not available to the cities in the centre of our country.
Mr Chairman, may I ask the hon member whether he is or is not in favour of a uniform steel price?
Sir, I was merely pointing out to the hon member the dangers inherent in advocating a uniform steel price. I was not giving my own opinion on that issue. Seeing that the hon member seems to be interested in my personal opinion, let me inform him that I think a uniform steel price should not be imposed throughout the country.
Well, we have just won the Newton Park by-election!
If I were the Minister, I should be feeling reasonably happy about the criticism voiced here earlier today and this evening. In the first place we listened to the hon member for Langlaagte— he is not present at the moment—pleading for greater expenditure by the hon the Minister. As opposed to that we heard the hon member for Greytown say officials were being paid too much. I shall leave the hon the Minister to reply on the validity of that statement. The criticism against the hon the Minister is not consistent; it is conflicting criticism aimed at the Government.
That also applies to the amendment moved by the hon member for De Aar. His amendment is not based on criticism of the Government. It is a political motion—he did not criticize the Appropriation but tried to make political capital of this.
I should like to associate myself with hon members who have already congratulated the hon the Minister and the SATS personnel on their 75th anniversary. Previous speakers pointed out, inter alia, what a vital—and I want to repeat this for the hon member for Walmer’s edification—what a vital and creative role the SATS has played in the development of South Africa. The SATS deserves the praise of every right-minded person in South Africa for the part it has played. I wish to emphasize that that role is sometimes focused on service, not always merely on profit.
For the very reason that the SATS has played such a vital part in the development of South Africa, it has been necessary for it to keep pace with the development which it helped to create. As the hon member for Sundays River said here, the SATS had not only been of assistance to South Africa in developing the country, but it had also brought development to our neighbouring countries where this had not existed.
Tonight I wish to talk about how the SATS has had to adapt. As the SATS is only as good as its personnel, I wish to confine myself to the activities of the latter as well as to attempts being made to increase personnel efficiency. I wish to confine myself especially to the training of personnel in the SATS.
On looking at the annual report for 1983-84, I note there were approximately 250 000 people in service with the SATS on 31 March 1983 as against 240 800 on 31 March 1984. We know the personnel complement has been reduced without adversely affecting the efficiency of the SATS. The question is obviously how the SATS accomplished this. I think part of the answer is to be found in the tale told by the annual SATS report.
One of the basic principles of our labour philosophy is the right of the worker to be trained and retrained. In talking of the “worker” here, I have the white-collar worker as well as the artisan in mind.
In the annual report it is stated that management development centres were introduced as early as 1975. Altogether 1 567 senior officers have already attended these centres. A further refinement of management development also took place at this level. A new management assessment centre for senior management was developed during the year and so far 177 senior officers have attended this centre.
Without scientifically funded management, performance by a large, widespread labour corps such as the SATS is just not possible. We find the scientific selection of employees takes place over a wide range.
An important aspect of training is that it takes place within the work situation and that assessment of needs is a continuous process. I have been informed, for example, that ten new courses have been developed for managers over the past year. The new courses include, inter alia, the instruction of managers in techniques of effecting the efficient development of subordinates within the work situation. The range of these courses is illustrated by the fact that the goal for the period June 1984 to June of this year is 330 courses involving over 4 000 participants.
Apart from training in the work situation, various scholarship schemes were made available to meet the need for academically trained administrative engineering and other professional personnel. I note from the report that approximately 2 000 scholarships were awarded to engineers and other professional personnel; also that since the beginning of 1979 the bursary scheme for part-time study has been extended to include certain diploma courses at technikons or correspondence colleges. Naturally there is also a large number of apprentices in service with the SATS. At the close of 1983 39 different trades were represented and approximately 8 400 apprentices in training.
This provision for the selection, training and retraining of SATS personnel should result in higher productivity. In a recent speech a colleague of the hon the Minister’s namely the hon the Minister of Manpower, pointed out the necessity for closer correlation between wage demands and productivity if the country wished to keep the high inflation figure under control. As transport plays such an important part in our enormous country, I think that statement is especially true of the SATS. In the same speech the hon the Minister of Manpower said South Africa’s productivity had risen by 0,06% per annum over the period 1972 to 1982 while the increase in Japan had been 3% and in Taiwan almost 7%. Even highly developed countries of the Western World such as the USA, Germany and France had an increase in productivity of between 1% and 2%.
I believe the tale told here about training and retraining has given rise to higher productivity. The question, however, is: To what degree? In the report it is indicated that for basically the same period as that referred to by the hon the Minister of Manpower, productivity increased by 1,9% per annum. The increase for the year 1983-84 was 5% while it was 13% for 1984-85. That is simply brilliant. I am sure the private sector, so highly praised by the hon member for Port Elizabeth Central, will be envious of this achievement. The hon the Minister’s personnel deserves praise and not criticism for this.
Mr Chairman, I should like to pay tribute to the catering service of the SATS in Parliament. I want to tell Oom Essie and the staff that that oxtail tonight was delicious.
When I made my maiden speech in this House of Assembly 15 years ago, I asked that when the Sishen-Saldanha railway line was completed, there should be an extension from Sishen via Kuruman to Pudimoe which would create an alternative railway line, a vital artery, from the Rand to Saldanha Bay, which could be developed as a new harbour. If the then hon Minister of Transport had complied with this request at that time we should have been able to build that railway line for less than half of the amount which, as the hon Minister indicates today, it will cost to provide transport services to the city of Khayelitsha on the Cape Flats. I want to thank the hon the Minister because it was under his regime that it was announced that this railway line would be built and that a start would be made with it in 1985. I am aware that due to economic circumstances a delay has occurred in the construction of this railway line. This evening I wish to appeal to the hon the Minister to see to it that the construction of this railway line be proceeded with the least possible delay. This could create employment opportunities in the northern Cape, where considerable unemployment prevails at present due to the slump in the mining industries. I want to appeal to the hon the Minister to proceed with this project with the least possible delay. If the SATS wish to make a start with it now the railway line will be complete when the CP come to power, and when that happens South Africa will enjoy such prosperity that it will be possible to utilize this railway line to the full.
The hon member for Kempton Park said here today that the NP does not stand for integration. He says that the policy of his party is geared at eliminating friction. [Interjections.]
Now I want to ask the hon member: Why have lounge cars been removed, after eating saloons and lounge cars had been introduced on all trains for all races? Was it not because there was friction in those lounge cars? The hon the Minister of Transport Affairs was carrying out instructions from the hon Minister of Constitutional Development and Planning when he opened the lounge cars and eating saloons. I can just hear the hon the Minister of Constitutional Development and Planning asking the hon the Minister of Transport Affairs: Hendrik, how can you defend the fact that you and your colleague, Alan Hendrickse, sit in the same Cabinet whereas you may not sit in the same lounge car on the train and use the same eating saloon? How can you justify this when it is said that you and the Rev Hendrickse and Mr Rajbansi sit in the same Cabinet, that Whites, Coloureds and Indians sit in the same Standing Committee on Transport Affairs, and you refuse to permit them to use the same eating saloons or lounge cars together? [Interjections.] As a result the hon the Minister threw open eating saloons and sitting rooms on the trains. The fact that all races were able to use those lounge cars caused such friction that the hon the Minister had to act. [Interjections.]
Order! The hon member for Kuruman is getting too much assistance.
What did the hon the Minister do then? He did not reserve the lounge cars for Whites as had been the case previously. He did not provide the people of colour with equal but separate facilities to eliminate friction. No, he took away a facility which the White train passenger has enjoyed over the years. What is more he increased the fare paid by that passenger by approximately 22%. To give effect to the integration policy of the Government, he deprived the White passenger of the convenience and at the same time told him he had to pay on average 22% more if he wanted to travel by train. [Interjections.]
The hon member for Kempton Park says that the NP does not follow a policy of integration. I almost laughed when the hon member said that.
Why, then, are you not laughing?
The hon member, Mr Kritzinger, has made such a stupid interjection. He should stand up for once and make a speech in this place. He sits here without saying a word.
Rev Hendrickse and Mr Rajbansi are present at Cabinet level for every decision affecting the SATS, and they are jointly responsible for each of those decisions. That is integration at the highest level. A Coloured or an Indian can even become Minister of the SATS. Consensus must be achieved in respect of every piece of legislation relating to the SATS in the multiracial Standing Committee comprising 11 Whites, 7 Coloureds and 5 Indians. A Coloured or an Indian may become general manager of the SATS and may qualify to occupy any post in the SATS. Now I ask the hon the Minister: Does that not constitute integration? Does the hon member for Kempton Park want to tell me that that is not integration? [Interjections.]
The hon member for Port Elizabeth Central is satisfied with these things; the PFP is satisfied with this because the hon the Minister of Transport Affairs is slowly but surely carrying out that party’s policy. [Interjections.]
Last year I asked the hon Minister (Hansard, 6 March 1984, col 2381); “What about mixed travelling?” The hon the Minister replied:
I then asked him: “And travelling facilities?” He then asked me:
I am still waiting. When I asked him whether that did not constitute integration, he went on to say:
When I asked him whether integration constituted progress, he replied that there were two forms of integration. The hon Minister must explain to us this evening which two forms of integration there are and which of the two forms he applies in the SATS, or does he apply both forms? What is he going to do if the Coloured and Indian Houses decide that they will not support any SATS Bills before all measures enforcing separation in the SATS are abolished? What is he going to do if he is requested in the other two Houses to do away with all measures enforcing separation that still exist in the SATS? What is he going to do if these two Houses say to him that they must also acquire a say in the Board of the SATS? I should like to pay tribute this evening to that Board, which has done outstanding work. The hon the Minister once said that he regarded the members of the Board as his Deputy Ministers whose task it was to assist him. Earlier this evening the hon member for Rosettenville said that it was appropriate that political appointments to the Board be made, and I agree. The present three members are appointed from the ranks of the House of Assembly, and I want to ask the hon Minister what he is going to do if the other two Houses tell him that there are three members serving on the Board of the SATS who were appointed from the ranks of the House of Assembly, and that they now also wish to have representation on the Board. What will he do in such a case? Will he give them representation, or will he refuse? [Interjections.] The hon member for Swellendam is a very nervous man because in the Swellendam constituency members of the NP are leaving the party on a large scale. I want to ask the hon the Minister whether he has any moral right to refuse such a request. Within the framework of his party’s policy does the Minister have the moral right to maintain any separation or discriminatory measures in the SATS? The NP states that a Coloured or Indian can become Minister of Transport Affairs. The NP says that a Coloured or an Indian can occupy any post in the administration of the SATS. Coloureds and Indians are jointly responsible for every law affecting the SATS. According to the policy of the NP the hon the Minister does not have the moral right to retain any measures enforcing separation in the SATS. That is why the CP states that the time has come for South Africa to get rid of that party and that Minister. Unfortunately I have not settled the matter with my leader, but the hon member for Lichtenburg challenged him to resign in Delmas; he would then resign in Lichtenburg and they could then hold by-elections there. The hon the Minister did not want to accept that challenge and I now challenge him again to resign in Delmas. I shall then resign in Kuruman and we can hold by-elections there. The railway line I have asked for would be built without delay in that event, because the Government would then have to do something in the Northern Cape to obtain votes in such an election.
May I ask the hon member a question?
No, my time has almost expired. I have considerable respect for the hon Minister but he is the captive of the “liberal Cape Nats” who are sitting behind him laughing over there, like the hon member, Mr Kritzinger. He is their captive and he is following the path of political integration. He will not be able to turn around halfway, but will have to go the whole way. That is why I say that the time has come for the Government to resign so that we can hold an election and put in power in South Africa a Government which, as the hon member for Langlaagte said, will see to it that the White workers are looked after and that measures enforcing separation are applied in the SATS that will eliminate friction and conflict.
Mr Chairman, I am the last speaker on this side of the House in this debate. It has been my privilege to listen to all the Opposition speeches. Having listened to their criticism, as well as the occasional note of appreciation, I was reminded of a decrepit suitor who paid a call on his girlfriend; he was partly crippled on one side and was, furthermore, a somewhat melancholy fellow. When the girl said that he had called on her with a crippled foot, instead of countering: “But, good heavens, you have not yet seen my healthy limbs, let me take them out and show you”, he too, stared at his defective knee-cap. The Opposition, too, is constantly referring to the so-called deficient knee-cap of the SATS, viz the trains, the eating saloons etc. The hon member for Kuruman has a tiger in his tank, after all, and surely he ought to do better. [Interjections.]
In this debate the Opposition parties have failed to penetrate to the essence of the industry. They were unable to make any impact with their criticism or, in fact, to call the Minister to account for the industry as a whole. It is quite true that there are shortcomings. The success of this enterprise, however, is to a very large extent based on a single aspect, viz productivity. The public media perceived this, singled it out and published it with appreciation.
If we were to analyse productivity, and consider the overall picture from this point of view, we would see that it entails managerial skills, the development of technology, the training and development of manpower etc. That is quite true. However, we want to look at the typically human aspects. We thus turn to the labourer, the worker. In this regard the most fundamental and strongest components are motivation and enthusiasm. Enthusiasm and motivation are the driving force in any person, whether it be the athlete running a marathon, or anyone else.
Northern Transvaal! These two components in the make-up of a person, which psychologists have not yet been able to evaluate properly, are to be found in the staff of our Railways. The hon member for De Aar, who represents a constituency with such a fine complex at De Aar where all our country’s railway lines meet, did not have a single word of appreciation today for the task performed by his people. [Interjections.] I have his speech before me. The hon member for De Aar is like one of those big steam locomotives, strong and solid, but slow.
The last point of his amendment concerned failure by the SATS to look properly after the interests of the White worker in their service. I can talk about the staff of the SATS in my constituency. I can talk about those people who do night service in the Highveld winter nights at Standerton, in temperatures of minus six to minus eight degrees Celsius. They are people who do night service with a song in their hearts, with enthusiasm, dedication and zeal. These are people who make a contribution to productivity in that industry. [Interjections.] They are the human factor in it. Here our hon Minister sets us an example. Surely that is a fact. After all, we know our Minister. Our Minister—and I need not flatter him; it is unnecessary to do so—does not go about saying bitter things about shortcomings.
An important factor contributing to the attitude of these people is the service of the Railway Board. The hon member for Port Elizabeth Central criticized the appointment to this board of certain people. He did not criticize the people as such. However we have experience of the kind of service rendered by these people, and what is more, the report makes specific mention of the service of those board members. When a labourer in the employ of the Railways is penalized in terms of disciplinary measures he has the right to appeal, via the prescribed channels, to that highest body. I am acquainted with a person who utilized the opportunity to appeal to that board against his discharge. That board heard his case with sympathy, understanding and appreciation, and reconsidered his case. They restored him to his post without harming the image of sound discipline in the industry. I can assure you that that person is still in the employ of the SATS today, and his wife and children are looked after. That man does not care what hour of the day or night he has to serve in that organization; he is a dedicated person because he had a fair and just hearing and had the opportunity to state his case. What is more, he was accorded the opportunity to have a competent representative from his trade union appear together with him before that board and support him in stating his case. And then the hon member comes along and moves an amendment stating that the White workers are not looked after! He does not seem to know what is being done for the White workers.
From this side of the House we wish to thank the hon the Minister and the top management of the SATS for the opportunity to debate this matter. We wish to congratulate the hon the Minister on an undertaking based on sound principles. We are aware of his problems. Nevertheless we want to give him the assurance that we look forward with pride to an economic boom year so that this organization may render a still better service to our country. We support this legislation.
Mr Chairman, the hon member for Standerton has praised the enthusiasm and the motivation of the staff of the SATS. I do not think there is any member in this House who will disagree with him when he gives praise in that respect. We in these benches have given credit to those aspects relating to enthusiasm and motivation which this Budget has reflected. I think that that is what one would expect of a vast business undertaking such as the SATS. After all, it should be based on sound business principles, and should therefore be able to motivate its staff accordingly.
However, I wish to return to the main thrust of the amendment moved by the hon member for Port Elizabeth Central. I believe that our amendment highlights our objection to the practising of discrimination on grounds of race and colour by the SATS, which is, after all, an organization which serves the interests of all South Africans. At this stage, when we are entering a so-called new era of reform politics, I believe that this is an important principle. I believe the hon the Minister should indicate very clearly in principle that he commits himself and the SATS’ management to take all practical steps to get away from discrimination as far as the SATS is concerned. In my view this is absolutely vital. The hon the Minister may, however, find himself in difficulty trying to reply to the sort of speech that we heard tonight from the hon member for Kuruman and the speeches from these benches. However, I do believe that he has to give an answer on that issue. Is he going to encourage a continuation of discriminatory practice in the SATS or is he not? I believe that, in the spirit of the State President’s Address at the beginning of this session of Parliament, the hon the Minister must inevitably take steps to move away from discrimination as far as his organization is concerned.
I want to read to the House one aspect of the State President’s Address which, I believe, requires an answer from the hon the Minister this evening. In the State President’s Address we read (Hansard, 1985, col 12):
He then went on to say the following:
I want to ask the hon the Minister specifically what programme the SATS is going to submit in response to the injunction mentioned by the State President in his Address. We want to hear about an improvement of attitudes. Is the SATS involved in an inquiry as to the extent to which attitudes towards other races can be improved?
When the hon member for Port Elizabeth Central responded to the hon the Minister’s Budget Speech he dealt at some length with the fact that apartheid is still being practised on trains and on railway platforms in South Africa. I think the hon the Minister must deal with this. Is this going to be a continuing policy of the SATS?
The hon member for Kuruman correctly pointed out some of the anomalies which exist at the present time. As far as the members of this Parliament are concerned, we now have parliamentary colleagues of different colours. We meet with them as equals, as members of Parliament. We sit with them on standing committees. We are told that they can share the same sports club as we can and participate in the same sports teams representing Parliament. We are also told that these equal members of Parliament can now share the same dining room with us as our guests. These are all factors that are part of the new dispensation. Just relating to that group of people sitting in the two Houses around us, I want to ask the hon the Minister whether, if they can do all those things, he will tell us categorically that they can also share the same railway coaches with us. Will he answer that question? Is that going to be allowed? Will a member of the House of Delegates or the House of Representatives be allowed to travel in the same railway coach as a member of the House of Assembly? That is what we want to know. Or is the hon the Minister going to involve himself in some sort of side-stepping operation as he has done so often in the past? Is he going to get himself into some very unusual contortions in an effort to indicate that he is providing separate but equal facilities but is in fact still practising race discrimination?
The hon member for Kuruman this evening talked about the lounge cars on the Trans-Karoo Express, and he gave his particular point of view of what was happening there. However, I think it is appropriate that I should read a letter that was written to us by a lady who travelled on the Trans-Karoo Express. She says this:
She then went on to say—
- (1) I have frequently witnessed incidents in the lounge car involving Whites and particularly Citizen Force men. It was then not considered necessary to remove the lounge car.
The point is that when Whites misbehave in the lounge car, it is not removed from the train. She then says:
- (2) Whereas previously when certain elements became drunk and obnoxious in the lounge car, one could go and sit in the air-conditioned dining saloon, now with no lounge car these drunken elements have now nowhere to go but to the dining saloon and other passengers have to retreat to their hot compartments.
Then she tells of her own experience—
So she went on. This is the sort of situation that arises. It is not a question of colour, but a question of the Minister taking all kinds of strange contorted steps such as moving the dining saloon to the front of the train to the inconvenience of passengers in order to try to avoid a situation like this.
I believe the hon the Minister will have to face up to the facts of the situation. If the SATS is going to operate on a non-discriminatory basis, then he must say so, put it into practice and see to it that proper control is exercised in order to control the behaviour of people.
Therefore the hon the Minister must react specifically and indicate what his response is going to be to the indication that was given by the State President that we are going to look for improved attitudes throughout all Government departments. He must also deal specifically with the aspects of staff discrimination which have also been referred to by speakers on this side. We know that in terms of the existing situation only Whites are regarded as permanent, which means that, apart from the salary and pension benefits referred to by this side of the House, there are other benefits which only Whites enjoy. In the first place there is the benefit that no permanent worker can be dismissed or demoted for an alleged disciplinary infringement without an inquiry being held. That is a benefit enjoyed by the White workers of the SATS. It is not enjoyed by the workers of other racial groups. Secondly, only “permanents” can appeal against punishment for disciplinary infringements. Thirdly, only “permanents” can be represented by a union representative at inquiries or appeals; so again, these are attitudes which discriminate in favour of White employees of the SATS. These rights are not available to others.
This brings me to the question I want to ask the hon the Minister again, viz. Whether he is satisfied that the machinery created in the Act of 1983 in regard to the settlement of labour disputes is going to be adequate in the possibly difficult years which lie ahead, because here again I must draw the attention to the fact that that machinery is totally inadequate as far as Coloured, Indian and Black employees of the SATS are concerned if compared to the Labour Relations Act. I believe that for the settlement of disputes this machinery which was set up by the South African Transport Services Act of 1983 is going to be found wanting when it comes to the test because it gives powers to the Government, to the Minister, to prohibit, and the Act itself prohibits, any form of strike action as far as the SATS is concerned.
There is another point which I should like to raise very briefly and which I shall not have the chance of raising in the Committee Stage. I want the hon the Minister to listen to this. There was a great deal of talk uneconomic services being dispensed with. I want to ask the hon the Minister in this House this evening whether he will give or is giving consideration to the whole question of the SATS doing the catering in Parliament, because that is an uneconomic service. We have seen in the Auditor-General’s report the tremendous losses as far as Parliamentary catering is concerned. I know that Parliament pays for those losses to the SATS. I just wonder why it is necessary—traditionally it may have been so, but is it still necessary?—for this hon Minister’s department, which is under pressure in so many other ways, to be involved in Parliamentary catering. Surely, the hon the Minister can make some contact with Parliament. He is the hon the Leader of the House. He can suggest to Parliament that it should hand over our catering to private contractors. That is what, I suggest, should be done in respect of our catering facilities here in Parliament. [Interjections.] Yes, Sir, I believe this is a factor that should be considered very seriously. It may be traditional that the SATS have provided this service in the past. I do not believe, however, it is necessary. I believe the time has come for the hon the Minister to give consideration to talking to his other self in Parliament and trying to separate that function so that Parliament can look after its own catering by way of contracts with other organizations.
Unfortunately my time has all but expired. There are still other matters I wanted to deal with. Nevertheless I want to reiterate that as far as we on this side of the House are concerned the SATS belong to all the people of South Africa. We believe therefore that it is absolutely vital that all aspects of discrimination on the grounds of race should be removed.
Mr Chairman, in reply to the hon member for Port Elizabeth Central and the hon member for Berea I should like to say in the first instance that the Indian and Coloured members of Parliament are very upset about the fact that the PFP regards them as not capable of handling their own affairs. [Interjections.] They told me straight that they were here to look after their own affairs. I have to sit through two whole debates on this Bill in the other two Houses as well. Why then should hon members of the PFP speak in this House on behalf of the Indians and the Coloureds? [Interjections.]
The Indian and Coloured members of the other two Houses believe hon members of the PFP think they are not capable of handling their own affairs. [Interjections.] I think it is an absolute disgrace. [Interjections.]
What about the Blacks? [Interjections.]
Those hon members can talk about the Black people. The Indians and Coloureds, however, are quite capable of speaking for themselves.
Mr Chairman, does the hon the Minister not realize that we are ashamed of what we as White people are doing to those people? That is exactly why we are raising this matter here. [Interjections.]
Mr Chairman, I repeat what I have said.
Mr Chairman … [Interjections.]
Sit down, you “pampoen” (nitwit)! [Interjections.]
Order! Which hon member made that remark?
I did, Mr Chairman.
The hon member must withdraw it.
I withdraw it, Mr Chairman.
Mr Chairman …
Order! What is the problem of the hon member for Greytown?
I should like to put a question to the hon the Minister, Mr Chairman.
Is the hon the Minister prepared to answer another question?
Yes, Mr Chairman.
Could the hon the Minister tell us whether he is aware that Transport Affairs is not an own affair, but a general affair? [Interjections.]
Mr Chairman, I wonder whether the hon member for Greytown is aware that the same debate taking place here, is also being conducted in the other two Houses of Parliament. It is possible for the Coloureds and the Indians to confront me in their own separate Houses with the questions they want to ask. There they can call me to account concerning those matters that affect them.
I hope they will do that! [Interjections.]
However, Mr Chairman, hon members of the PFP are paternalistic towards the Coloureds and the Indians. On top of that, they insult them. [Interjections.] I go there to their own Houses to tell them what goes on here. They themselves ask me to stop the PFP speaking on their behalf because they are capable of speaking on their own behalf. They now have the opportunity to discuss these matters themselves, and what is more, they believe that they can do it better than the PFP could do it on their behalf. Far better! They can do it far better than this stupid old bunch! [Interjections.]
Order! The hon the Minister must withdraw those words.
I withdraw them, Sir. [Interjections.]
Order! The hon the Minister may proceed.
There is one matter I should like the hon member for Berea to clarify. Could I see the letter from which the hon member quoted, Mr Chairman?
In connection with the Trans Karoo Express?
Yes. Could I have it right now?
If it could help you.
Could I have it now? [Interjections.] Why could I not have it now? Send it over to me right now, please. [Interjections.]
*Mr Chairman, I receive innumerable letters every day. I have before me now the celebrated letter of the hon member for Berea. This is a letter typed on a sheet of paper bearing the letterhead of the PFP. [Interjections.]
Ray, did you not perhaps type that letter yourself? [Interjections.]
This is a real disgrace, Sir. [Interjections.] This letter is typed on a letterhead of the PFP.
It was written by a member of our staff, who travelled on that train. [Interjections.]
Oh, a member of your staff? [Interjections.] With this letter, Mr Chairman, the hon member for Berea tries to create the impression that what he tells this House is a reflection of public opinion, [Interjections.]
*Mr Chairman, a member of the staff of the PFP who is weary of that party wrote a letter to the hon member for Berea. [Interjections.] This is the climax! This really the cherry on the top, Sir! [Interjections.]
Sir, may I carry on with my speech? [Interjections.]
The hon member for Berea … [Interjections.]
Order! No, I cannot allow hon members to carry on a shouting and slanging match across the floor of the House. Each and every hon member shall now contain himself. The hon the Minister may continue.
Mr Chairman, can the hon the Minister tell us whether members of the staff of the National Party are permitted to lodge written complaints with him in connection with unsatisfactory conditions pertaining to the SATS? [Interjections.]
When I requested the letter, the hon member suddenly went blood-red. [Interjections.] No, I have not yet done anything wrong.
That trap failed to work.
If hon members wish to attack me, they must be prepared for me to attack them in turn. Indeed, I remained silent the whole evening, and the whole day yesterday as well.
No, not the whole day yesterday; only for an hour.
I could show hon members several letters—not typed on NP letterheads; not on party letterheads, not letters finished by a woman … no, I had rather say nothing; perhaps it is personal. [Interjections.]
I have several examples of letters. I speak about my customers. The people who travel by train are my clientele.
Is that woman also part of your clientele?
Yes, she is also among my clientele but I shall bring many more letters to this House written on private letterheads.
Oh no, Hendrik, you do not have such letters. [Interjections.]
I am told in such letters, for example, that crowding out takes place. The hon member asks me whether we are going to abolish separate platforms. My reply is that as long as there is crowding out, as long as there are people who are overrun by masses …
Oh Lord, are we back to crowding out now?
After all, I said that I must protect my clientele, because I know what they ask of me. [Interjections.]
Order! An hon member has just used the name of the Lord in vain across the floor of this House. This must not happen and ought not to happen. I am not naming any names, but hon members must please keep the prestige of this House in mind. The hon the Minister may proceed.
Mr Chairman, I shall deal with the other aspects later.
†The hon member for Berea asked me certain questions about uneconomic services. He inquired into the Parliamentary catering. I can reply that the losses are paid for by Parliament. However, we have a catering committee, on which his party is also represented. Only last week we had a meeting where we discussed this matter. At that meeting it was unanimously decided that the SATS should do the catering here because of security reasons. Is the hon member for Berea dissatisfied with the meals he gets here?
*Is the hon member dissatisfied if he can eat his fill for R2,20? We can have a full meal here for R2,20, and then the hon member is not grateful! No, really, let us forget about those things now! [Interjections.]
†However, let me deal with some of the questions put to me by the hon member for Port Elizabeth Central. He spoke about the replacements. After something has lasted for 20 years we replace it and we allow it to depreciate by 5% per year. That is also how ordinary businesses handles replacements on their books. The hon member also referred to the old story of cross-subsidization. I am also sick and tired of cross-subsidization but I cannot expect the hon the Minister of Finance to pay in full for the losses on passenger services this year. However, he is already contributing R500 million of the R980 million. The remaining amount—nearly R480 million—must be cross-subsidized.
Both the hon member for Port Elizabeth Central and the hon member for Durban Point have asked me a number of questions, which I should like to answer. The losses we suffered on Richards Bay were big from the outset because of the capital investment. Those losses, however, have been gradually worked down.
What about Sishen-Saldanha?
I have referred to Richards Bay, but will still refer to all of them. Last year Richards Bay showed a loss of R10 million because it is a very expensive undertaking. We believe that from next year on it will show a profit. Our best harbour, which is Durban, showed a profit of R224 million. Port Elizabeth showed a profit of R14 million, East London a profit of R6 million, Cape Town a profit of R19 million, and Walvis Bay last year showed a loss of R300 000. For the coming financial year, however, we foresee that it can show a profit of over R100 000.
What about Saldanha?
I can give the hon member Saldanha’s figures. I do have them here.
Let me say that time does not permit my answering all the questions of the hon member. [Interjections.] The hon member does not even listen to me now. I want to assure him, however, that I shall reply in writing to some of the question which he has asked because they are detailed questions. I do not want to ignore any questions. In fact, I shall answer every question put to me.
The hon member referred to Dr Wim de Villiers. We appointed Dr Wim de Villiers to investigate various aspects. Some of them were mentioned here tonight, but let me mention one: Privatization.
*I say that if the development of South Africa is such that in due course it is justified to privatize certain things because that will be to the benefit of the conduct of affairs, then that should be seriously considered. If we were to find that we could obtain considerable amounts of money on the Stock Exchange in the case of the Airways, to mention one example, if we were to privatize it, then of course it will be necessary to determine how it ought to be privatized. If this would be to the benefit of the running of the Airways then I say that these are all aspects which are being investigated now. However, there would really be no point in doing certain things willy-nilly at this stage.
I want to say to the hon member for Primrose that there is one point on which I differ with him, and that is the privatization of the workshops. The workshops form such an integral part of the railways that when …
But you helped him to come here.
These are questions he asked.
He is stupid.
The hon member for Brakpan says that I am stupid, but I do not complain about that.
No, I said that he was stupid.
I should prefer to deal with the facts.
I say that there is some aspects that are being investigated. For example, there are financing, overseas loans and passenger losses. If as a result of his investigation—I am eventually going to table all this—if Dr Wim de Villiers comes up with the solution to all these problems then we will benefit greatly.
Mr Chairman, may I ask the hon the Minister a question?
I am coming to the hon member’s question.
Sir, I realize that, but I want to ask the hon the Minister the following question at this stage: Dr Franzsen was appointed to investigate certain aspects but his report is not yet available. Did he not deal with the same things with which Dr de Villiers is going to deal?
Dr Franzsen only referred to passenger losses and he came with the idea of a contribution by the employer, the employee and the Government. This aspect is involved with the concept of regional services boards, and it will also be investigated.
The hon member for Port Elizabeth Central also posed certain questions about the free market system and the road blocks conducted by the SA Railways Police. As I have said before, we are only doing 35% of South Africa’s business, but what do we find at these road blocks? A person in possession of a transport permit to convey paper was found to be conveying a lorry load of toilet paper in his one lorry while his other lorry was full of ceiling boards notwithstanding the fact that he had a permit to convey nothing else but paper. When one refers to spare parts, one finds all sorts of problems. There is an overall permit for spare parts, but one is amazed at the dishonesty perpetrated in South Africa.
*Let us make the SATS a free enterprise. Would the hon members agree if we were to change the legislation so that we are no longer a public carrier and can refuse to convey certain goods? As the position stands at present we may not refuse to convey anything.
Mention is being made of equal competition. The hon member for Walmer wanted to know from me what we pay for diesel. Because we do not pay the excise duty, we pay 6 cents per litre less for our diesel.
†What happens in private enterprise? Tenders are asked for. There are even big farmers who, in view of the vast quantities of diesel they require annually, go to BP, Shell or Total to invite tenders from those oil companies. In this way those farmers manage to obtain their diesel at reduced prices and so it happens that they pay up to 3,5 cents less per litre. Private hauliers are also getting a special discount, and I think that hon member is a director of a company which obtains its diesel at a special discount. [Interjections.]
But does the SATS not get a special discount on diesel?
No, there is no special discount for the SATS, but we get a discount of 6 cents per litre because we do not pay excise duty.
*If we could have equal competition, we should refuse to convey uneconomic goods such as dung from Beaufort West to the wine farmers of Paarl. Then we should refuse, because it is not a paying proposition. No private haulier is prepared to convey it. No farmer could pay the price, because it is a mass of goods that weighs nothing.
Then I should say: Very well, we are now on an equal footing. Now we, too, can compete. People talk about discrimination, but there is constant discrimination against the SATS. However, I do not wish to go into this, because people will take fright if I were to mention everything we could do if we were to go all out to do business in South Africa. Many of the private hauliers would have to close down shop. [Interjections.]
Mr Chairman, may I ask the hon the Minister a question? I received an answer this evening to the objections made by the SATS to applications for road transportation permits. Out of 8 000 odd applications, some 7 000 objections were upheld. Is this not the cause for people trying to get around the monopoly that the Government has with the SATS?
If one has certain regulations, one has to protect the SATS. One cannot expect to force them to do certain work, to pay for the losses of transporting commuters and then say that everybody can transport anything they want. In a time of depression everybody without a job buys a lorry, but they do not pay for the road. The SATS have to pay for their own roads; in fact, they build their own roads.
So you admit that there is protection?
Of course there is protection. One cannot allow everybody to start transporting. What will the city councils say? What will happen on the roads of South Africa? Five years ago we transported 55% of the total load in South Africa. Today it is 35%, so it is going down. It is clear that there is already enough competition.
The hon member for Port Elizabeth Central referred to the question of air hostesses. I want to give him the assurance that there is no discrimination. I asked the management to investigate the reason why, when we ask for air hostesses, we do not manage to find any Blacks, and only a few Coloureds and Indians. They told me that they did not discriminate. The reason is a language problem.
*The girls’ pronunciation is the problem. They have to be able to speak on a microphone, and eventually they will have to fly overseas. I repeat what I said before: There are innumerable aspects to be considered in the selection of air hostesses. Now the hon member for Port Elizabeth Central keeps saying that it is discrimination.
One of the aspects considered is the physique of air hostesses. They must be able to move in the narrow isles. This is a very complex matter, but no discrimination is involved. [Interjections.]
†The hon members for Berea and Port Elizabeth Central asked when we are going to stop discrimination on the staff matter. There are staff unions. Blacks, Coloureds and Indians sit in on those staff unions. I often meet with the federal council. They fully agree that if we want immediate parity it will cost us R400 million. We are introducing parity over a five year phase, of which there are four phases left. Then we will have complete parity in the SATS.
That is only salaries. What about other conditions for employment?
I will deal with that later.
*The hon member for De Kuilen is chairman of the select committee and of the transport group. The assistant chairman is the hon member for Bloemfontein East. The hon member for Primrose is the secretary and oom Gerrie, the hon member for Kempton Park, is deputy chairman. I wish to thank them, the committee members and the hon members of other parties serving on the standing committee, for the good work they do.
The hon member for De Kuilen wants to know how an enterprise which, as he says, is so well managed, should be fragmented.
†The hon member for Port Elizabeth Central said the Minister is stupid—all right, that may be—but the management is excellent and did a good job of work; in the prevailing conditions Dr Grové and his people really did well. Why does the hon member then want to fragment the organization? Why does he want to cut off sections that are showing a profit, the sections that are helping us to pay for commuter losses?
*The hon member for De Kuilen put this question to the hon member. I agree with the hon member for De Kuilen. He and other hon members spoke about the three quarters of a century of sustained good service rendered by the SATS. He gave an excellent overview. He also discussed our employees. I thank him.
The hon member for De Aar also discussed the 75 years of development. He then came along and said that I was a “boerehater”.
Who said that?
The hon member for Brakpan next to him said it.
But you were talking to me.
Very well, then, it was the hon member for Brakpan. [Interjections.] In any event, I have told the hon member this before—and I said it in my budget speech as well: We are now conveying less than 17% of South Africa’s livestock, and less than 7% of its potatoes. I told the agricultural union: “Help us; and do not expect of us to continue conveying livestock and sheep as was done 50 years ago.” What are we doing nowadays? The man who has three cattle, reserves an entire wagon because no one with a truck wants to convey his three head of cattle. The tendency nowadays, however, is to convey them by truck. It was felt that we should increase the rate by 17,5%. I spoke to representatives of the agricultural union and we agreed on 15%. When they left, I said to the management: “Let us make it 12,5%.” The contribution of livestock is only 30% of the cost of that freight. Anyone can purchase a truck in South Africa nowadays, whether he is a farmer or not, and drive around left, right and centre, conveying cattle and sheep. Moreover, he can load potatoes wherever he likes.
And fresh fruit.
The same applies to fresh fruit. The quantity of fresh fruit that we convey, apart from that conveyed under contract, is minimal. We convey citrus under contract for the Citrus Exchange which wants large quantities of citrus conveyed to Maputo or Durban. We also convey large quantities of apples for the Deciduous Fruit Board. They do not convey it by road.
Any other vegetables or fruit can, however, be conveyed in any way.
The hon member went on to say that I increased passenger fares a month before the budget.
Only 14 days.
Very well, that is even worse; It is only 14 days before the time. I tried to do it in September, but at that time there were problems, and no businessman would increase a rate before Christmas. That would surely be stupid. After all, one has to take timing into account.
Not before a by-election either.
No, it had nothing to do with the by-election. [Interjections.]
The hon member also asked me why South West Africa’s railways were being transferred. The world does not understand what South West Africa is costing South Africa. When the State President asked Margaret Thatcher whether they would carry the cost of South West Africa, amounting to R700 million, she said: “You are an optimist.” The whole world has something to say about South West Africa, but they are not prepared to pay this account. We said: “Why should we suffer a loss of R90 million on the South West African railways account? We shall make it over to the territory and agree on the price; we shall also come to an agreement with the staff.” All these things have been spelt out.
The hon member for Kempton Park replied very effectively in regard to certain matters. I thank him for doing so. He replied very effectively as regards the opening of facilities. He indicated that a committee was involved, among whose members were Fanie Herman—I looked this up—Frank le Roux and Thomas Langley. The Minister who dealt with it was Mr Lourens Muller.
You are taking a chance.
I am not taking a chance. These are the hard facts.
That is not a fact.
The hon member knows it is so.
You are making a big mistake.
Some of our people were also present. Certain facilities had to be thrown open and that committee decided on this.
But that is not the committee you are referring to now.
Of course it is. Moreover this was implemented in the time of Mr Lourens Muller. [Interjections.]
The hon member for Kempton referred to the work done by the Commissioners. I shall come back to this later. [Interjections.]
The hon member for Durban Point asked about the closing of certain branch lines, as did the hon member for Sundays River. I just want to say to them that branch lines were those lines built just after the Anglo-Boer War. At that time there were no trucks. At that time there were horse carts and ox-wagons, and people travelled by train. As things developed, in due course some of these lines were closed. The hon member referred to certain lines: The branch lines to Seymour and Jamestown have already been closed and the lines to Hofmeyr and Tarkastad are being considered. However, I know that the hon member will feel bad if I mention Hofmeyr, because he is very sensitive about that.
What did we do then? We told Dr Coetzee and his team, people who act in a psychologically correct way when they speak to the public, to go and tell those people that this thing does not pay. There is one branch line on which the train runs only on Fridays. On that Friday it carries five sacks of sugar, a post-bag and two Coloureds. [Interjections.] If one asks one of the farmers there how they convey their goods he replies: “Man, I transport my wool by truck. I have my own truck; I do not use the train.”
These branch lines cost us R120 million per annum. Moreover, in the case of some of these branch lines we found that the reaction was the same as that farmer’s. But I can say to the hon member that we went to talk matters over with the people of Sundays River and there is an increase in traffic on the Barclay’s Bridge line at the moment. Accordingly Dr Grové said that we might not close it because the public is beginning to support the train. However, if there is no support we shall agree and say to the people: “We can give you a road motor service at the same rate as that at which the train conveys, say, the sack of sugar. Just use the road motor service.” This is not being done to hurt the rural areas. [Interjections.]
The hon member for Durban Point spoke about the pensioners before 1973. This is a matter which touches all of our hearts. I have repeatedly asked the Pensions Committee, on which the trade union has representation, and the Management about this, and they say that the percentage increase in pre-1973 pensioners is more than the percentage of post-1973 pensioners. [Interjections.] No, wait, the hon member for Durban Point must please permit me to finish. If a person retired before 1973 and received R100 and he gets an increase of 20%, he gets R120. However, the person who retired on R300 after 1973 who gets a 10% increase gets R30 more. This is evidence of the disparity that occurs. We going into this matter; we are considering it sympathetically and I shall send every party a full explanation of the operation of the pension scheme in this regard. I shall circulate it among the members so that they have the information. As far as this is concerned I want to say by way of conclusion that we are going to consider this problem very sympathetically, but there are people who served for only 10 years and who retired on a pension of R140 per month. They cannot live like that.
The hon member for Durban Point need not take out his papers; I have more papers. [Interjections.]
I received it today. It is camouflage.
No, it is not camouflage; I can give the hon member the details. I shall also discuss it again with the members of the Pension Fund Committee.
There is the question of smoking on aeroplanes.
*After that announcement of mine I received 84 letters, in only four of which was the request made that people be permitted to smoke on aircraft. The ration of 60:40 between non-smokers and smokers that I provided in regard to South Africa differs from surveys carried out overseas which indicate that only 27% of passengers smoke. It is time for this matter to be attended to. If, on a business basis, it is better to ask smokers like the hon member for Durban Point—it will do him and me good for health reasons—to refrain from smoking for two hours, this must be seriously considered. [Interjections.]
You know that it is always the cranks who write the letters. [Interjections.]
Order! The hon member for Durban Point cannot make two speeches. The Minister may continue.
Most of the letters came from medical associations and doctors, and I do not regard all of them as cranks.
Yes, people with a cause to fight.
The hon member for Amanzimtoti referred to a lot of things, even to the Metroblitz. We introduced the Metroblitz train running at 160 km/h, but even this service cannot show a profit because people do not travel by train. I thought that this service would be the answer for people wanting to travel between Pretoria and Johannesburg …
It is too fast.
Now they complain that it is too fast.
†The hon member referred to narrow-gauge lines. I do not want to go into this whole question now, but want to thank him for his contribution.
The hon member for Bezuidenhout said that the Group Areas Act took people away from the city centres and made them permanent commuters. If the hon member’s party were to come to power in South Africa, would they allow the 1,75 million people of Soweto and the Black townships around Johannesburg to stay wherever they please, to squat in the centre of Johannesburg … [Interjections.] Could they reside wherever they want to?
Then one would have the biggest tragedy ever in South Africa.
*We cannot afford creating chaos in this country.
There is not going to be chaos.
I say what I always say, viz I want to live with my own people. If I say to a Black person that he has the opportunity to build himself as fine a house as the hon member for Houghton has in Houghton, but in his own area … [Interjections.]
†I stay in Sea Point and it is always interesting to talk to the Progs there. On one occasion I was talking to a few ladies in front of Bordeaux flats where we are all residents. I told them that I had good news for them, because the Cabinet had decided that Sea Point will be an open area and that anybody could stay in that block of flats. Their reaction was: “You cannot be serious.” But they vote Prog!
*I simply cannot understand it.
Mr Chairman, the hon the Minister says that he does not begrudge the Black man the opportunity to build a house for himself, similar to that of the hon member for Houghton, in his own place. Does he not wish to extend the same principle to the dining rooms and sitting rooms on the trains and in Parliament?
The hon member for Bezuidenhout took the trouble to take a train and to conduct his own investigation. He made a very good speech, and I must compliment him. He is the only one who did that. Have any of the hon members sitting in front of me ever travelled with the servant working for him or for her by train in a third class carriage? I include the hon member for Houghton.
They chuck you off.
Who will chuck her off? The hon member does not have the courage to go. These hon members want to be protected. I travelled on various trains and some of the Blacks came to me and asked: Please protect us, we are overcrowded. [Interjections.]
*They do not even know what form of transport their servants use. They do not travel in those trains. I invited them, but they had to board at a quarter past five in the morning, and not one of them turned up. [Interjections.]
When was the last time the hon the Minister visited Soweto by car, never mind by train? When did you last visit it at all?
I was there four years ago with the Prime Minister. [Interjections.] We went by car, but how many times after that did I not go by train?
How many times?
At least four times.
*However, I say that that party consists of a lot of lounge lizards and she is just a powder puff. [Interjections.]
I have already more or less replied to the speech by the hon member for Primrose. I shall now have to move somewhat faster. The hon member for Primrose said that passengers covered only 22% of the cost and that if we wanted to make the passengers pay for what the ticket really cost the price would rise by 200%. We should have to make those tickets 215% more expensive. The hon member is right, they must be gradually increased. This year we are increasing the tariffs by 22% but if one looks at the increases over a period one sees that we have already fallen behind. We can never catch up with the losses. In one year we had to pay R290 million extra for diesel and electricity alone. One cannot make that up.
†I say that commuter losses will be R1 040 million by next year.
*I want to give the hon member for Nigel the assurance that the “40 off” scheme for people over 60 will not be withdrawn. He asked me about that. This is a very popular discount for the senior citizens of our country. The hon member asked for a higher subsidy for the Sassar home for the elderly. We are already giving this organization a loan from the aid fund at 3%. We are very sympathetic as regards homes for the elderly. I thank the hon member for Nigel for at least not having said anything bad about me.
It is always encouraging to listen to the hon member for Rosettenville. Yesterday he quoted from the Rand Daily Mail. I could scarcely believe that anyone could quote a critical newspaper here to the effect that this was a “smart” budget. I thank the hon member for the trouble he took. He spoke about the steam train to Crown Mines. We are looking into that and we shall see to it that that steam train and the memorabilia at Crown Mines will be preserved as the hon member said. He said that the hon member for Port Elizabeth Central moved silly motions, and that is indeed so. The hon member also spoke about the Vlieënde Springbok in the aircraft. The Vlieënde Springbok always appears on the first of the month and I, too, was very disappointed when I received it. People associate it with us because we have a share in it. However, it is profitable because one can only read six pages of text in that periodical. However the management have said that they will go into this. I agree with the hon member. One should rather read one of the Prog journals. Then one would have far better reading matter.
We shall make it available free of charge.
The hon member for Bloemfontein East understands our problems. He has made a thorough study of affairs and I want to thank the hon member for Bloemfontein East for his contribution.
I now turn to the hon member for Greytown. You said this evening, Sir, that I must withdraw what I said I was going to tell him, and I do not wish to repeat it, but I do just want to say that the hon member gets up here and says—it is in Hansard—that a ticket for a journey from Mitchells Plain to Cape Town will now cost R1,40 per day more and that a monthly ticket will cost R13,50 more. The fact is, however, that a monthly ticket will increase by R2. With what purpose in mind does the hon member make statements of this kind? What does he wish to achieve thereby? [Interjections.]
It was in a Press statement.
Surely the hon member knows that the monthly ticket now costs R13,50. However the hon member states that the ticket now costs R13,50 more. In fact it costs R2 more. [Interjections.] Here is the Hansard.
†The hon member asked for lower salaries. Those were his words. In this House he asked for lower salaries for the workers of the SATS. [Interjections.] I want to repeat it. The hon member for Greytown asked for a reduction in the salaries of the workers of the SATS. [Interjections.]
Of the Minister!
He also asked: What about the Coloureds and the Indians? They will speak for themselves; it is unnecessary for him to intercede on their behalf. [Interjections.] He then went on to say: “The Whites are overpaid.” What I say, however, that it is a good thing if one intercedes on behalf of other people, but do not hate the White people. That is unnecessary. Why does he say that the Whites in this business are overpaid? [Interjections.]
The hon member for Umhlatuzana said that the Transport Services place a high premium on sound labour relations and human relations. I sincerely thank to the hon member for having placed such emphasis on that important aspect of sound human relations.
I have replied to the hon member for Sundays River.
The hon member for Langlaagte spoke about annuities and pensions. People who resign an interest on their investments. It is only people discharged before 1981 who did not get that. I think I have said to the hon member before that the only exceptions were people paid off as a result of offences such as theft and drunkenness. During the past two and a half years, resignations have largely been due to people resigning of their own accord, changing their employment or reaching retirement age. [Interjections.] The hon member went on to say that I had come up with a rates increase of 7,6% but that we were not giving the workers a salary increase. He said that we were cutting the workers’ throats and bluffing them but at the same time announced a tariff increase of 7,6%. He asked why there were no salary increases.
However, what does his amendment provide for? Let us read his amendment. He has an amendment, and …
His party has an amendment.
Yes, of course.
His party has an amendment, and what does the amendment say? The CP is not going to agree to this budget because the SATS—and I quote:
He complains because the tariff increases were 7,6% and he says that we are bluffing them with 7,6%. Because we do not wish to give the workers a salary increase, we increase the tariffs. Surely that is outrageous. It simply does not hold water. [Interjections.] I can say to the hon member that I know nothing about photographs being taken. If that happened, I do not agree with it. [Interjections.] But, Sir, why must he persist in speaking while I am speaking? Do you not wish to listen?
I just wish to point out that I am not prepared to have a photograph taken of anyone if it will be an embarrassment to him. I know nothing about it and I shall go into the matter. [Interjections.]
I am very pleased about the standpoint of the hon member for Kroonstad with regard to the SAA. However, I like the idea of a competition. Those feeder lines or private lines are among our best friends because they bring the passengers closer. The hon member for Welkom has asked for a landing strip in Welkom before. However we say that lines such as Comair and Magnum bring the passengers to Bloemfontein and to Kimberley for us. There are even such lines in Nelspruit and at other places, and we shall have to take their hands and co-operate with them. I appreciate the hon member’s contribution.
I have replied to the hon member for Walmer about the price of diesel. The hon member for Port Elizabeth North put Port Elizabeth’s case well. The hon member is right, too, and he made a thorough study of the entire matter.
The hon member for Kuruman put several questions to me. He said that if the CP came to power they would build the Sishen/Pudimoe railway line. However that is a line that will take three to four years; therefore they will have to wait three to four years before they can take over.
The hon member, as well as the hon member for Berea, spoke about the lounge cars on the trains. We opened the eating saloon on trains for first class passengers as well as the lounge cars. The passengers, and our inspectors, found that due to liquor abuse which has been referred to here it was better to remove the lounge car so that people could still go and eat, but if they wanted to drink they could do so in their compartments. [Interjections.] We are constantly monitoring these things to see what should be done. The hon member asked what I was going to do if one of the other Houses did not support me. The hon member knows that if one or both of the other Houses does not support me I refer the matter to the President’s Council and the State President can take the final decision.
What are you worrying about then?
The hon member put questions to me to which I am now replying.
The hon member also said that I had allowed integration. I saw the hon member travelling in Kuruman in his own light van— not a railway van—his own van with a Black man next to him. [Interjections.]
Mr Chairman, on a point of order: Can the hon the Minister please reveal his source to me?
Sir, not one of us who is connected with agriculture has never had a Black person sitting next to us in a light van, and this has not affected our future. Surely the hon member has picked up a Black man in his light van in the past. [Interjections.]
Mr Chairman, on a point of order: I just want to ask the hon the Minister whether he is quite sure that it was a Black man? [Interjections.]
That is not a point of order. The hon the Minister may proceed.
Mr Chairman, on a point of order: That hon “smerige” (filthy) member has made a very clear insinuation. I request you to call upon that hon member to withdraw that insinuation.
As regards the remark made by the hon member for East London North the hon the Minister may proceed with his speech. However, the hon member for Brakpan must withdraw the word “smerige”, which he used.
Mr Chairman, I withdraw it, but I just want to say that that is not a clean hon member.
Why are you so sensitive, man?
Order! The hon member for Brakpan knows that he must withdraw the words unconditionally. I request him please to do so.
I withdraw them, Mr Chairman.
There are hon members on both sides of the House who are making it very difficult for the hon the Minister to proceed, and I now call for their co-operation as well. The hon the Minister may proceed.
Yes, but he stands here telling untruths.
After all, you travel with a Black man in your light van, Jan! [Interjections.]
I do not want a confrontation with the hon member, but I, as well as CP members that I know of, travel with Blacks in our light vans—I mean Black men. [Interjections.]
Mr Chairman, is it all the same to the hon the Minister to travel by train in the same compartment as a Black person?
At present we do not travel in the same train compartment. However, I do not want us to insult and challenge one another about this kind of thing. When it comes to certain basic things I adopt a certain standpoint, but the person who attacks me most about this kind of thing leaves his most precious possession—his baby—in the care of a Black woman when he goes out at night.
That is nonsense.
I am not saying that the hon member does it, but I know of such cases. [Interjections.]
That has nothing to do with it.
Hon members should not be so sensitive. I merely wanted to furnish the hon member with a polite reply. I just wish to say that we must think about these things realistically.
Yes, and honestly too. However, I say that I, and a member of the CP in my part of the world, as well as CP members who work for me, travel in my light vehicle, or in their own, often together with a Black man who sits in front on the seat next to him.
We do not want to be in the same Parliament and sit together with them, as you want to do.
Order! I should prefer not to prohibit interjections, but to repeat the same interjections ad nauseam contributes nothing to the debate. The hon the Minister may proceed.
Mr Chairman, I should prefer to pursue this discussion of mine in the other Houses. And then I want to say— as I say in all three Houses—that I do not begrudge the other man what I want for myself, but I just say that when I find that I shall crowd him out, or that he will crowd me out, I do what I did on the Durban station when I said that the nice big lounge and restaurant be given to the Blacks, while the small one should be given to the Whites because the Blacks were more numerous. This was done because those people who travel by train, whom I call my clientele—and these are the poor people—have told me that they are being crowded out. I am going to say to the Coloureds and the Indians: I wish you to have a nice school; I wish you to have a nice residential area and nice houses.
And a nice parliament. [Interjections.]
I wish these people to have these things. However, I live separately, and they live separately, but when we come to this matter about which we argued 15 years ago already, viz whether a Black woman can give one a tin of jam over a counter—when Albert Hertzog and his group left, and cast this in our faces—I still say that there is nothing wrong with that. It does not affect my survival. [Interjections.] Surely I am being courteous, Sir. Why is that hon member for Koedoespoort so incensed? It seems to me he is …
Yes, I am very angry with you, man.
I had thought that I would discuss matters this evening, but I see that this whole discussion has now developed into something completely wrong.
I want to conclude by thanking the staff— from Dr Grové and his management down to the humblest worker in the SATS. This is an achievement. I also wish to thank the commissioners for their loyal assistance as my advisers, but they do, after all, have a feeling for politics. I thank all three of the commissioners. I want to convey my sincere thanks to Mr Johnny Muller and the ministerial staff. Finally, I also wish to thank hon members who have made a contribution in this debate. I want to tell the PFP that they should not be so sensitive. The hon members are prepared to attack me, but when I react they are stand-offish about it. That applies to the PFP too. Give me a chance to state my case. This evening it was virtually impossible, however, because I was constantly being interrupted. In any event, the hon members are not such a stupid lot as they look.
Question put: That all the words after “That” stand part of the Question,
Upon which the House divided:
Ayes—86: Alant, T G; Ballot, G C; Bartlett, G S; Botha, C J v R; Botma, M C; Breytenbach, W N; Clase, P J; Coetzer, H S; Conradie, F D; Cunningham, J H; De Beer, S J; De Jager, A M v A; Du Plessis, G C; Fick, L H; Fouché, A F; Fourie, A; Geldenhuys, B L; Grobler, J P; Hayward, S A S; Hefer, W J; Heine, W J; Hugo, P B B; Kleynhans, J W; Kriel, H J; Landman, W J; Lemmer, W A; Le Roux, D E T; Ligthelm, N W; Louw, M H; Malan, W C; Malherbe, G J; Marais, G; Marais, P G; Maré, P L; Maree, M D; Mentz, J H W; Meyer, W D; Miller, R B; Nothnagel, A E; Odendaal, W A; Olivier, P J S; Poggenpoel, D J; Pretorius, N J; Pretorius, P H; Rabie, J; Rencken, C R E; Schoeman, H; Schoeman, S J; Schoeman, W J; Schutte, D P A; Scott, D B; Smit, H A; Streicher, D M; Swanepoel, K D; Tempel, H J; Terblanche, G P D; Thompson, A G; Van den Berg, J C; Van der Linde, G J; Van der Merwe, C J; Van der Merwe, G J; Van der Walt, A T; Van Eeden, D S; Van Niekerk, A I; Van Rensburg, H M J (Mossel Bay); Van Rensburg, H M J (Rosettenville); Van Vuuren, L M J; Van Wyk, J A; Van Zyl, J G; Veldman, M H; Venter, E H; Vermeulen, J A J; Viljoen, G v N; Vilonel, J J; Volker, V A; Weeber, A; Welgemoed, P J; Wessels, L; Wilkens, B H; Wright, A P.
Tellers: W J Cuyler, A Geldenhuys, W T Kritzinger, C J Ligthelm, J J Niemann and L van der Watt.
Noes—35: Andrew, K M; Bamford, B R; Barnard, S P; Burrows, R; Cronjé, P C; Goodall, B B; Hardingham, R W; Hoon, J H; Le Roux, F J; Malcomess, D J N; Moorcroft, E K; Myburgh, P A; Page, B W B; Raw, W V; Rogers, P R C; Savage, A; Schoeman, J C B; Schwarz, H H; Sive, R; Snyman, W J; Soal, P G; Suzman, H; Swart, R A F; Tarr, M A; Treurnicht, A P; Uys, C; Van der Merwe, S S; Van der Merwe, W L; Van Heerden, R F; Van Rensburg, H E J; Van Staden, F A H; Van Zyl, J J B; Visagie, J H.
Tellers: G B D McIntosh and A B Widman.
Question affirmed and amendments dropped.
Bill read a second time.
Mr Chairman, I move:
The House adjourned at