26th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
1 Mr WHITLAM - I ask the Prime Minister a question without notice. My question arises from the right honourable gentleman’s statement yesterday afternoon that he would seek an opportunity to discuss with the Minister for Air how the matter of the missing manifests developed. He said:
As a result of that discussion I hope to make such further information as arises available to the public and to members of both Houses of this Parliament.
I ask: When did he decide that he would seek an opportunity to discuss the matter with the Minister? In view of the fact that there are scheduled air services leaving Johannesburg at 11. IS a.m. on both Monday and Wednesday of each week and arriving in Sydney at 11.10 a.m. on Tuesday and Thursday of each week, what steps has the Prime Minister taken to bring the Minister home from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference in Uganda so that the Minister can discuss the matter with the Prime Minister and give an explanation to the Parliament?
– I did give thought to this matter when it first became clear that this issue would be raised. It was not clear in just what form the issue would be raised by honourable gentlemen opposite. I had already, I thought, indicated sufficiently that I would be seeking an opportunity to make a statement to the House on this matter yesterday. That statement subsequently took the form of a reply to the motion moved by the honourable gentleman. I would like the House, though, to bear these facts in mind: My colleague is not at that conference merely as leader of the Australian delegation or in some normal capacity which applies in the ordinary way. It may not be generally known to the House, but some time ago it was felt inside the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association - not just our branch, but the general body - that the procedures had become rather unwieldy and there was set up what was in effect a sort of inner Cabinet of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, a working party on policy and finance. That body met in Malta and my colleague was elected its chairman by the other members of the Association. That is my understanding of the matter. I am not certain just by how large a body of countries he was elected, but he was elected chairman of this very significant body of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. The working party produced a number of recommendations which involve quite substantial modifications and improvements, I believe, in the structure of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
I am sure that all honourable members who have been members of the Association and have followed its progress will agree with me that this is one of the Commonwealth links that we should be at pains to preserve. It is one of the few really effective interCommonwealth organisations which are currently in existence. My colleague is in this quite critical and important position in relation to the future of the Association. It was pressed on us that his presence was desired at Uganda where the recommendations were to be discussed. I had all this knowledge in my mind. I had to weigh whether in the circumstances - and with what I believe to be the judgment of honourable members - there could be some damage to Australia’s status and authority by a sudden recall of its representative who was a central party to these discussions. I felt that the matter could be appropriately handled by myself and my colleagues dealing with what was put to us in this place and if, arising from that, it was necessary for some further statement by my colleague, then appropriate action could be taken in relation to that.
It is unfortunate in a sense that the Parliament is expected to conclude this week. Neither my colleague nor I would wish to avoid public discussion on these matters. I have it in mind to see him as soon as is reasonable after his return. The honourable gentleman mentioned the flight schedules from Johannesburg. I have been in that area of the world and I can assure him that Johannesburg is a long way from Uganda. The journey from Uganda to Australia is not only a lengthy one but an exhausting one, as I found myself on an earlier occasion.
– Not in a VIP aircraft.
– The aircraft on that trip are rather more comfortable and sumptuous than the VIP aircraft if one can get on to them.
– Does the Minister need a week to get here?
– He has not had a week to get here and also to do the job for Australia in Uganda. He has done his work on the Association with great credit to Australia. When I was abroad earlier this year, both in Canada and the United Kingdom, without any prompting from me, tributes were paid to the manner in which he had chaired the meetings of the working party in Malta. Great appreciation was expressed for the Australian contribution. 1 would hope to see the Minister at the first reasonable opportunity after his return. I read in the Press that he had said that he would be wishing to see me on Saturday. If this is so I would not think that he would have had by that time a reasonable opportunity to read in Hansard what has been said about these matters. I would hope to see him on Monday in Melbourne.
– When does the Prime Minister expect him to land in Australia?
– Either on Friday or Saturday morning. I cannot say offhand. I have just received a note from a member of my staff who has just spoken to Mr Howson. Mr Howson has just been elected Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. There is serving on this Committee every leading Commonwealth spokesman including the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations and the Speaker of the Parliament of India. This merely confirms the view that I put to the House when I had no knowledge of this latest development that the Minister for Air is highly regarded for his contributions at this Association meeting. I think he has been serving Australia well at that meeting. Apparently members of the Opposition are out for his scalp but I do not think they need concern themselves that he and I will not deal appropriately with this matter when I discuss it with him. I accept the responsibility for dealing appropriately with it.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I refer to the answer given by the Prime Minister to a question asked in the House by the honourable member for Brisbane on 18th October in which the Prime Minister stated that the 200th anniversary of the sighting of the Australian coast by Captain Cook, then Lieutenant Cook, which occurs on the 20th April 1970, is a notable historical event which should be suitably commemorated by the Government and the people of Australia, and that officers in the Prime Minister’s Department had been considering ideas which had been submitted. The Prime Minister will be aware of the petitions presented to the House from time to time praying for the preservation of the Sydney Customs House and the establishment in that building of a national maritime museum, immediately opposite the location of the landing of the First Fleet. Will the right honourable gentleman be good enough to consider the establishment of such a museum in the Sydney Customs House building as an eminently suitable method of commemorating the 200th anniversary of Captain Cook’s sighting of the Australian coast?
– I confirm that I said earlier that this was a notable historic occasion for Australia and that it should be suitably commemorated. We have already given an earnest of our desire in this respect in the contribution we were prepared to make should it have been found practicable to sail a replica of the ‘Endeavour’ to Australia. That, apparently, is not likely to eventuate, but I am informed that inside my own Department consideration is being given to various suggestions. The suggestion now put forward by the honourable gentleman is certainly full of interest and I shall see that it is carefully studied.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. Is it a fact that discussions have taken, place between the United States of America and her allies in Vietnam concerning the use of nuclear weapons by the United States against North Vietnam and that the Australian Government has agreed to the use of nuclear weapons and an invasion of North Vietnam? If this is not correct, will the right honourable gentleman make a definite and clear statement that Australia will not support or sanction the use of nuclear weapons in Vietnam?
– It is not customary, as the honourable gentleman well realises, to make statements on policy at question time, but because of the inevitable speculation which would be aroused, in view of his statement, if I were to adopt that course, I say that the answer to the first part of his question is no, and I make no comment on the second part.
– I address a question to the Minister for National Development. According to an Australian Broadcasting Commission news item this morning the Western Australian Premier has submitted to the Commonwealth Government another case for financial assistance for the Ord River irrigation project. Can the Minister say whether this is true and when it is likely that the request will be looked at by Cabinet?
– It is correct that the Western Australian Premier has made a request to the Commonwealth Government. This has been looked at by Cabinet and I will be seeking leave to make a statement on it after question time this afternoon.
– Does the Treasurer know that Julie Rogers, the 24-year-old English recording star, has money problems - bow to spend the $4,500 a week she will earn in Australia for a 7-week season at clubs in Sydney and Melbourne? Is he aware that Julie said: ‘I just don’t know what to de with my money, but the tax man will take most of it’? Is it correct that Julie, who is being paid at the rate of $234,000 a year, will be liable for no tax at all to the Australian Government but that an Australian artist receiving $30,000 for a year’s work would pay over $15,000 in taxation? Will the Treasurer make it clear that the tax man referred to is not an Australian but an Englishman? Will he also state whether he considers that the Australian tax man is over-generous to Julie and to other artists like her?
– I will not have the pleasure of listening to Julie singing or, for that matter, of watching her acting. I am sorry that I cannot give an answer to the honourable member’s question, because I do not know the answer. What I will do is treat it as a question on notice and let the honourable member have an answer later.
– My question to the Minister for Health refers to the problem of poison contained in numerous products sold to the public in the form of weed killers, pest exterminators and many other like products. In view of the tragic occurrences of accidental swallowing of products of this kind by children, resulting in unfortunate fatalities, will the Minister examine the present methods of evaluation of poisons, the controls imposed by State authorities on the sale of poisons to the public, the precautions required to be taken by persons in possession of poisons and the provision of up to date registration of poisons and poison antidotes?
– I share the honourable member’s concern about this matter. 1 would like to point out that a great deal of attention is given almost continuously to this question by the National Health and Medical Research Council, particularly by its Poison Schedules Sub-committee and its Agricultural Chemicals Sub-committee. Based on the recommendations of the National Health and Medical Research Council there is legislation in all States and Territories which covers in considerable detail the sort of matters which the honourable member has raised. For instance, the legislation covers the sale, storage and labelling of products. It also provides for registration. This means that products thai are not registered cannot be sold in the States. The legislation also covers the subject of precautions which are to be taken, including such warnings as ‘Poison - Keep Out of the Way of Children’ and so on.
Provision is also made in regard to poison antidotes. Where appropriate, the legislation lays down that the first aid precautions must be printed on the label of the product. In addition, there is a large section on insecticides and weedicides in the National Poisons Register which is compiled by my Department and which is widely available throughout Australia. I conclude by saying that I am deeply conscious of the tragic frequency of poisoning in Australia. As recently as 1st October last I issued a fairly long Press statement drawing attention to a number of aspects of this problem and the things that must be done and the essential precautions that must be taken if prevention is to ensue.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Trade and Industry, ls the Minister aware that overseas shipowners are intending to seek yet another freight rise on our fruit exports from Australia in spite of the recent rise of nearly 4% to cover the journey via the Cape following the closure of the Suez Canal and in spite of the fact that freight absorbs at present 60% of the value of every case of fruit? Do the Minister and the Government appreciate the grim fact that any further rise in freights will price our fruit growers out of overseas markets, erode drastically our export earnings and drive many Australian fruit growers either into bankruptcy or out of the industry? Will the Government fight this new freight rise move?
– 1 have not been informed that the shipowners are seeking a further freight rise. It is a fact that when the Suez Canal was closed the shipowners announced an impost of an additional 5% to cover their higher costs. It is also a fact that the Department of Trade and Industry, acting on my instructions, intervened and made representations, and, as a result, the impost was reduced to 3i%. To the extent that there was any valid scope for making representations to the shipowners against any higher freight, I would interest myself in this matter. However, the shippers - that is, the owners of the fruit and other products - have really cut across my opportunity to do this, an opportunity that existed in the earlier years of my administration. The shippers entered into an arrangement with the shipowners that freight costs would be determined as the outcome of what Fs really a cost-plus formula negotiated between the parties. Lt has operated during the last 10 years. I am afraid that the owners of the fruit and other products have largely surrendered their right to complain on this. I do not think that anyone could really expect a favourable reaction to a plea that, because an Australian industry is in trouble, the shipowners ought to carry its product at a loss.
However, within the contracts and the general arrangements, the shipowners have conceded the right of particular industries that can demonstrate they have real current problems to ask for some relief, and this has on occasions been given. I will look into the matter.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. In view of the statement by the Rt Hon. Arthur Augustus Calwell, published in ‘Fact’ on 25th August last, that ‘Decisions on Vietnam at the ALP Federal Conference in Adelaide show that there has been no weakening of Labor opposition to the continuation of the war and to Australia’s part in it’ and as the Opposition rightly insists that the House and the people should be told the truth, does the Prime Minister not consider it strange that the Leader of the Australian Labor Party should try to persuade the electors that the policy of the Australian Labor Party has been changed to a more moderate line?
– I did see the report mentioned by the honourable member and indeed that statement or a statement in substantially the same form appeared elsewhere. 1 think the former Leader of the Opposition wrote an article for the Melbourne ‘Herald’ which incorporated the substance of this statement, lt is consistent with statements made by the honourable member for Yarra and other leading members of the Australian Labor Party. I do not think that the Leader of the Opposition would claim that there is any significant difference between the policy put forward by his predecessor and that which he has put forward arising from the Adelaide Conference of his Party, except that the Adelaide Conference decisions produced certain conditions that we on this side of the House have described as a form of ultimatum to the United States that unless it complies with these conditions there will be a withdrawal of Australian forces. One senior Labor member was reported in the Press as having said: ‘Formerly ours was a policy of troops out; now it is a policy of troops out unless’. The Leader of the Opposition has not been quite so specific on these matters as his colleagues have been. I hope that he will take the opportunity presented to him later this week to make his own position and that of his Party perfectly plain.
– The Attorney-General will recall that a newspaper adviser has refused to tell the ‘Voyager* Royal Commission the source of his information relating to the late Captain Duncan Stevens. Does the Attorney-General consider that the newspaperman should be allowed to display such contempt? Is there any means of obtaining this vital information? Does the Attorney-General consider that’ a fine of $100 is sufficient and that the newspaper adviser has been justly treated?
– Mr Speaker, I take a point of order so that we can have some consistency in dealing with questions that relate to the judiciary or judicial bodies. The rule in the past has always been that it is not proper for an honourable member to ask a question relating to a matter that is sub judice. This matter is sub judice and I ask you to rule now that the question is out of order.
– During the honourable member’s absence overseas I made a comment and gave a ruling on this point as a result of a question asked by the Leader of the Opposition. On that occasion I ruled that this matter is not sub judice. I see no reason to change ray ruling on this occasion.
– This person has been punished for contempt. He cannot be punished again for the same contempt. As to the severity of the penalty, the maximum fine would have been $1,000. The penalty was entirely a matter for the magistrate before whom the journalist appeared. As to what the extent of the penalty should have been I think I should not express any view, although I may suggest that in imposing a fine of $100 no doubt the magistrate took into account the fact that an apology was presented and also that a plea of guilty had been entered. Of course it is entirely a matter for the Commission and for counsel assisting the Commission as to whether this person should be again called before the Commission and pressed to answer the question. If he were so called and continued with a refusal he would be guilty of another contempt. If in those circumstances he were prosecuted again the question of penalty would perhaps be viewed in a different light, but again I think I should not express any personal view on that matter.
– I direct a question to the Minister for the Army. What is the situation with regard to Army assistance in coping with the relatively disastrous bush fires in Gippsland, some of which have broken out, regrettably, in my electorate?
– Earlier this week the Prime Minister indicated to the Premier of Victoria that Army assistance would be available if required and if a request for it were made. Also earlier this week Southern Command was instructed to be in a state of readiness to meet a request for assistance, if it were forthcoming, at as short notice as possible. A review has been undertaken of the sort of equipment that might be needed, such as water carts and bulldozers, that Southern Command has available to it. We believe this equipment to be adequate, but if it is not, additional equipment of this kind can be moved in from New South Wales. The Army will meet any requests that are made for necessary assistance, and it will be in close touch with the State authorities.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Civil Aviation. To put the records of ministerial travel by VIP aircraft in perspective, will the Minister tell the House how many times he has made use of his Department’s fleet of seventeen aircraft in the past year?
– I presume when the honourable member asks how many times I have made use of these aircraft he means how many times I have made use of them personally.
– Or with anybody else.
– I will certainly be happy to get that information for the honourable member and the House. I can assure him that the records maintained by the Department of Civil Aviation are an example for the commercial operators because we set the standards by which they are to operate. We will have no difficulty in producing the information that the honourable member requires.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Trade and Industry been directed to reports in the Sydney ‘Daily Telegraph’ and the Melbourne ‘Herald’ criticising some aspects of the publicity arrangements for the Australian trade display at Los Angeles? Is there any validity in these criticisms?
– My attention has been directed to the report in the newspapers to which the honourable member has referred. The facts are as follows: Australian newspapers, I am advised, received material from a public relations agent in Los Angeles, not from the Trade Commissioner service. The public relations agent was commissioned by the Department of Trade and Industry to do certain publicity work in relation to the trade display. It has . been our experience that it is more effective to engage a local established public relations agent than to use someone from our own service who has no intimate personal knowledge of the local situation. The public relations agent was hired to do two jobs. The first was to arrange publicity for the display in the United States before the display commenced. The second was, while the display was proceeding, to send back - [ think the jargon term is to feed back - to the Australian Press what was regarded as being of news value in relation to the display in process.
The display has not been turned on yet. It will commence next week. So, the public relations agent has been acting outside his instructions in sending back material to the Australian Press. He did this on his own initiative. He sent back to the Australian Press what was news in America but really not news in Australia. The material that he was sending out to the United States Press gave details of the exhibits of about 150 Australian firms which at their own expense are exhibitors in this exhibition. The Department, learning that the public relations officer has been doing this, immediately asked him to cease sending material to Australia until the point of time when he was requested to send it. That is, when the exhibition is proceeding. We have notified the public relations firm already that the cost of what he has been sending without authority to Australia - I am advised it is about $400 - will not be accepted as a charge on the Australian account. It will be on his account.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. In view of the fact that several Australian newspapers had telephone conversations with the Minister for Air in Uganda concerning the serious charges levelled against him over his replies to the Parliament on VIP aircraft, will the Prime Minister inform the House whether any member of the Government has bothered to contact the Minister on the question to which I have referred? If so, what was the result; when did the conversation take place; and, if it took place before yesterday’s debate, why was it withheld from the Parliament?
- Mr Speaker, I understand that the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Air was in touch with the Minister for Air by telephone before yesterday. Today a member of my own staff has been in touch with him indicating that I will be wishing to see him on his return. I have read that several newspapers have tried to contact him and have not found the exchange altogether satisfactory. They have experienced some difficulty in making contact in a satisfactory way with him. It would not be my idea to discuss a matter of this sort in the kind of detail which would be required of it by way of a long distance telephone call to Uganda. I think that the matter can be more satisfactorily dealt with here in Australia.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Trade and Industry. Has the attention of the Minister been drawn to a recent Press report which quoted him as stating in an address to the annual conference of the National Farmers Union that tariffs had added - I speak from memory - 8.5% to growers’ costs but that the Government was returning to the industry a large proportion of this in the way of grants for research, etc.? Is this Press report correct? Will the Minister give a detailed explanation of the subject mentioned to the House?
– Yes, I made a speech in opening the annual conference of the National Farmers Union. This speech was reported in various newspapers. Unfortunately, the ‘Canberra Times’ got its decimal point wrong. The 8.5 which the honourable member has mentioned is not a percentage. The ‘Canberra Times’ reported me as saying that the additional cost to wool growers of the tariff on the items which wool growers buy in New South Wales was 85c per lb - not 8.5% as the honourable member said - which is a little heavy. The figure that I quoted was 0.85c per lb. Might I put the position-
– That would not worry the Australian’.
– lt was the ‘Canberra Times’. I want to deal with the question and the misconception that exists about the cost to wool growers of the tariff on the items which they themselves are required to buy. To this purpose I turned to a report which the Bureau of Agricultural Economics had made on the costs of wool growing in New South Wales, which is the biggest wool selling State, and found that there existed a report which set out in a table the quantities of items purchased by the average wool grower in New South Wales. It set out separately both the percentage of his income which was derived from the sale of wool and the weight in pounds of the wool produced and sold by the average woolgrower. So having these facts which came from the Bureau, which is the Government’s principal adviser in this respect, 1 then asked the Department of Trade and Industry to set out in simple terms the extra cost due to the tariff levied on each item; and to get the thing in the correct perspective, where there was no tariff but a bounty paid to reduce costs, to set out also the benefit to the wool grower by way of bounty.
The Department of Trade and Industry simply turned up whatever the item was, took the weight used by the average wool grower and said: ‘His cost was this’. It looked at the amount of superphosphate used and said: ‘His benefit from the bounty is this’. Upon relating the costs and the benefits to the proportion of income derived from wool, 52.7%, it was found that the burden on the average New South Wales wool grower arising from tariff on the items which he himself bought in the course of his production, amounted to 0.85c per lb. The benefits which he received from Treasury by the payment of superphosphate bounty or other bounties, were equivalent to 0.75c per lb. Therefore the difference is 0.1c per lb. That is the net burden on the production of wool resulting from the tariff imposed on items bought by the producer and the benefits he receives from the payment of bounties. I observed that 0.1c per lb was a microscopic cost and that no important relief could be afforded to wool growers by removing all the tariff from the items which they bought. I said that if a reduction in tariff were to be the means of giving relief to the wool growers then we would have to turn, not merely to the items which they buy, but to the protective tariff which applies over the whole spectrum of protected Australian industry which is the basis of most Australian employment.
I finally observed, as I do now, that it is a pity that wool growers are led to believe that their problems arise from tariff burdens, which are capable of being altered. This prevents them from seeing in the true perspective where their problems lie. This is the position: Ten years ago when all wages and costs were lower than they are today, the average price of wool which was running at about the normal level was 66.4c per lb. Recently the average price of wool has been 43c per lb. This puts the wool growers in the intolerable position which they occupy at the present time but it is due demonstrably to the fall in the price of wool.
– Has the Treasurer read the article published in the ‘Australian Medical Journal’ of 21st October 1967 by Dr Oscar Schmalzbach, psychiatric consultant to the New South Wales AttorneyGeneral’s Department, stating that political leaders in Australia may not be in a fit condition to make important decisions immediately after air flights because it frequently takes a time for a passenger to normalise and readjust his mental equilibrium, disturbed by the flight? In the light of this statement and the Treasurer’s statement during question time-
-Order! The honourable member will ask his question.
– In view of the Treasurer’s statement during question time last Thursday that he studies classified documents - and presumably also makes decisions - while up in the air, will he say whether his Budget proposals refusing increased repatriation benefits to exservicemen were decided while in flight or before he may have normalised and readjusted his mental equilibrium after a flight?
– 1 understand that the honourable gentleman travels by aircraft from Rockhampton in just the same way as I do. He will be a clinical exhibit in a far better way that I can ever be. We shall watch his performances in the House after his trips by aircraft in the future and study the clinical results.
– The Attorney-General will realise that members of the Parliament are taking a close interest in transcripts of the proceedings before the current royal commission on the ‘Voyager’ disaster, which are very kindly placed in the Parliamentary Library. I ask: When will it be possible for members of the Parliament to look at the ‘exhibits’ and the ‘Assumption’ which are referred to but are not there with the transcript and which perhaps are necessary if one is to understand the assumed points that have been put to some witnesses who have been called? Will this material ultimately be made available to members so that they can follow the proceedings?
– 1 shall have inquiries made concerning the practicability of having exhibits made available in the Parliamentary Library. This will present a problem owing to the extensive character of the exhibits. If it is not practicable to have this done, perhaps the honourable member will indicate some particular exhibit or exhibits in which he has a special interest so that efforts can be made to ensure that he has access to the material that he requires.
– -I believe that for some months now the Treasurer has been in possession of the Commonwealth Actuary’s report on the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund for the quinquennium ended 30th June 1964 I ask him when he expects to table the report of the Actuary and how much time he expects will elapse before he can announce the arrangements for the distribution of the surplus in the Fund among eligible pensioners and contributors.
– I have seen the Commonwealth Actuary’s report, but before I can table it a detailed analysis of it has to be made, particularly with respect to the consequences that are likely to flow from it. Only this morning, 1 inquired when I would be able to have the commentary so that I would be able to table the report. I was informed that the commentary would be available in about 2 or 3 months.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Army. Are the facts correctly represented in reports that suggest that the 3rd Battalion will have a higher ratio of national servicemen than there has been in other units serving in Vietnam? Can the Minister assure the House that national servicemen in units serving in Vietnam are adequately trained for the tasks that they will be called on to perform?
– Answering the second part of the honourable member’s question first, I can give him a complete assurance that the training of national servicemen and regular volunteer members of the Australian Army is identical for the same positions. The Australian Army has always had a very high standard of training. This has been demonstrated by the performance of the present Task Force and by units that served in Vietnam earlier. These standards will be maintained. I did see a report that indicated that there would be about 600 national servicemen in the 3rd Battalion. If this had been correct, the percentage would have been much higher than in the battalions at present in Vietnam. But the report is not correct. In general terms, when the 3rd Battalion goes overseas the percentage of national servicemen in it will be about the same as for the battalions at present in Vietnam - about 50%. At present, the numbers in the third battalion are about 450 members of the permanent army and 422 national servicemen. On the assumption that the Regular Army manpower element continues to grow at the present rate and on the further assumption that the operational commitment remains about as it now is, this percentage in the battalions will be maintained. But a recent review has indicated that it will be possible to place more national servicemen in logistic and support units in Vietnam where in fact the percentage at the moment is well below what it is in the battalions. So there will be an increase in the percentage of national servicemen in these units, and in some cases perhaps significant increases. This will release further regulars for battalion duty and it will also make it possible, I hope, to maintain the rule, under present circumstances and under the type of commitment prevailing in Vietnam, that regulars will go to Vietnam only for 1 year in 3. I think honourable members will recognise that this is a reasonable proposition to apply to members of the Regular Army.
– For the information of honourable members I present the following report:
Fiftieth Session of the International Labour Conference held in Geneva in June, 1966 - Report of Australian Delegation.
For the information of honourable members I also present a statement in relation to the functions and recommendations adopted by the International Labour Conference at the Forty-third (1959) Session.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) proposed:
Thai the House lake note of the paper. Debate (on motion by Mr Whitlam) adjourned.
Ministerial Statement Mr HAROLD HOLT (Higgins- Prime Minister) - by leave - Several members of the Parliament have shown an interest in the Government’s policy in relation to cultural activities and have put questions to me in that regard. Indeed, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has a series of questions currently on the notice paper on particular aspects of these matters. I now wish to inform the House of two decisions by the Government and a number of other developments in the field of cultural activities.
The Government, for some time, has been actively considering ways to increase, at national level, Commonwealth patronage of the arts without creating a monolithic structure which could inhibit the free play of our cultural interests and enthusiasms at all levels. For some years now Government encouragement for the arts in general has been increasing and we feel that financial aid properly directed on the best advice is one significant area where the Commonwealth Government can provide material assistance. We need to ensure that we have a system for giving financial assistance which takes full account of the important role played, not only by State governments, but by municipal governments and a host of professional and amateur organisations throughout the country.
With this in mind the Government, in its first decision on cultural activities, has decided to establish an Australian Council for the Arts to be its financial agent and adviser on the performing arts and other activities connected with the arts in general.
The Council will co-operate closely with the Elizabethan Theatre Trust and with existing Commonwealth Government agencies responsible for music, painting and literature. At this stage the Council will be concerned primarily with the performing arts but it should not be assumed that the concept of an all-embracing Council, which I know has some advocates in this country, has been rejected. The Council we propose to set up could conveniently be enlarged to perform such a function if experience showed the need.
This decision means that Government financial assistance for the arts in general will in future be given through two main channels: Firstly, the new Council, which will be concerned with the theatre arts - drama, opera and ballet, and film making for television with an educational and cultural emphasis. Secondly, existing agencies, i.e. the Australian Broadcasting Commission, the recently formed Music Board, tha
Commonwealth Art Advisory Board and the Commonwealth Literary Fund.
The Council will also advise the Government on special requests for aid in cultural activities not already covered by Government agencies and which, in the past, have been dealt with on an ad hoc basis.
I should add here that the inclusion of film making for television in the activities to be covered by the new Council is not a substitute for full consideration by the Government of submissions it has received for the establishment of a film corporation to assist the film industry at large. The intention to give further aid to film making for television is part of the Government’s continuing effort to help in increasing the Australian content of television programmes in this country. The question of a film corporation, or some similar organisation, is a separate proposition which needs more study.
The new Council will not, as a normal practice, finance capital works for the arts in the States because this is not considered to be within the sphere of Commonwealth responsibility. The Elizabethan Theatre Trust will remain as a servicing organisation and entrepreneur and will continue its fund raising activities in the States. The Council will distribute financial aid for the performing arts primarily, but not exclusively, through the Trust. Both the Council and the Trust will be supported by advisory committees in all States.
Before deciding to establish this twochannel system of aid for the arts a close study was made of the foundations and councils for the arts in the United States of America, the United Kingdom and Canada. The names of the Chairman, members of the Council and the Director will be announced in due course. The Council will be associated with the Prime Minister’s Department.
The Commonwealth Government has also studied the work of its existing agencies and as I have already indicated they will continue to function broadly in the same way as they have in the past, and the level of any increase in financial assistance will be considered in the Budget context, as will the grant to be made available to the new Council. There will be, of course, a close liaison between the new Council and the existing agencies. I might mention here that the Government already has under consideration increased assistance to writers in Australia as a result of recent discussions between the Advisory Board of the Commonwealth Literary Fund and the Fund’s Parliamentary Committee.
The House will also recall that we recently set up a Music Board specifically for the purpose of advising the Commonwealth Government on assistance to Australian composers. This Board has been active since its inception and has just had approval for a new project designed to promote the work of Australian composers, nationally and internationally and attempt to remedy the lack of knowledge of our own music. The details of this project will be the subject of a separate statement by me publicly later.
I turn now to the second important decision the Government has taken to encourage the arts in Australia. The House will recall that my predecessor Sir Robert Menzies, and his Administration decided that a national art gallery should be established in Canberra and in 1965 appointed a committee of inquiry to consider what form it should take, what its function should be and how it should be controlled. This committee, under the distinguished chairmanship of Sir Daryl Lindsay, completed its work last year and I would like to acknowledge here how comprehensive the report is and how valuable it has been to the Government. It has contributed significantly to the Government’s latest decision on the art gallery and is tabled in this Parliament for the information of honourable members.
The Government has decided that work on the establishment of this national gallery will begin immediately. The National Capital Development Commission expects the planning, design and costing stage to take about 2 years. A site for the gallery is being considered. The gallery will house the national collection which at present consists of nearly 2,000 works of art. Future acquisitions will include Australian art past and present, art of the Asian and Pacific areas and art on a world-wide basis, beginning with the 20th century.
The Government believes the new gallery will add significantly to the cultural life of Australia and the national capital. It is hoped that this will be an added incentive to owners of art collections to consider bequeathing their collections to the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth has been active in recent years in acquiring new works for the national collection. It is also developing an exchange of art exhibitions with other countries. The existence of an art gallery in Canberra will add materially to the display opportunities for visiting exhibitions and also for exhibitions from the galleries in the various States.
The gallery will be named ‘The Australian National Gallery’ and will be controlled by a council, with a full-time director. The council itself will be associated with the Prime Minister’s Department. The council members and the director will be appointed in due course. These decisions will, I am sure, give encouragement to those who have for so long given their time and energy to advancing our own distinctive cultural activities. I also hope that the growing public recognition of what our actors, our artists, our writers, our musicians and others in a varied field of cultural interest are seeking to do will add much to what the Government is doing.
In the leaner years of the past, in the face of hardship and little encouragement young Australians have risen to fame and brought distinction to their country over a wide range of cultural activity. Given the support of governments, Federal and State, and the backing of the people, I am sure the talent is there for us to rise to new heights and give our people a growing pleasure and satisfaction. I present the following paper:
Cultural Activities - Ministerial Statement, 1 November 1967 - and move:
That the House take note of the paper.
– A much more substantial fund than that was set up in Canada. The body there receives the income from that fund. I have mentioned that this matter will be considered in the Budget context. At this stage there is no decision that I can report to the House.
Debate (oh motion by Mr Whitlam) adjourned.
– by leave - On 15th August 1967, in the Budget Speech, I informed the House that the Government proposed to seek an amendment of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act to give common entitlements to all members of the Services on full time continuous duty for periods of 12 months or more by admitting to the benefits of the scheme those now excluded because they are enlisted for periods of less than 6 years. Because of the projected early finish of the present parliamentary session and the complexity of the task I regret that it has not been possible to complete the drafting of the necessary legislation in the time that has been available. However, there has been a great deal of interest in the Government’s proposals and it is therefore appropriate that I should inform the House in some detail of the contents of the legislation that the Government expects to submit to the House early next year.
The defence forces retirement benefits scheme was inaugurated in 1948 to provide a common superannuation scheme for the three permanent arms of the Services. In essence, the scheme was limited to regular officers of the three Services and to other ranks engaged for 6 years or more. However, with the implementation of the national service scheme and the successful integration of national service and regular army elements there are now over 21,000 servicemen and women who, although serving for 12 months or more on the same basis and alongside longer serving members of the forces, do not enjoy comparable benefits.
The Government’s proposals will remedy this. These members henceforth will enjoy the retirement benefits now available to permanent members of the forces under a scheme which is akin to an insurance scheme providing benefits of an annuity type. However, the combination of benefits which will be available to members will cover a wider range of possible events than would have been possible under the life assurance scheme which the Govern’ ment considered earlier this year. Thus, for example, a married private soldier totally and permanently incapacitated as a result of war service will receive a pension of $31.50 per week under the defence forces retirement benefits legislation, together with a basic tax free pension of $34.55 per week under the repatriation legislation. In addition, of course, further repatriation benefits are provided in respect of children and by way of medical and hospital treatment.
The proposed Bill will make provision for admission to the fund of those members of the forces enlisted or appointed for fulltime continuous service for 12 months or more. Members who already have entitlement to pension from the fund, having reached the appropriate age for retirement for their rank, will be exempted from contributing again. However, provision will be made for additional benefits to these persons in the event of death or substantial incapacity, during their further period of service. The age pension previously payable will be replaced by the. generally higher rate of pension that would have been payable had death or invalidity discharge occurred at the time of age retirement. Included in the new members will be 15,800 national servicemen, 3,400 members of the Regular Army Supplement, 700 members of the Citizen Military and Air Forces and Naval Reserves and 1,300 female members of the various Services.
The new members will contribute to the fund from the first pay following the date of commencement of the Act. However, the Government will propose that eligibility for pension benefits be extended retrospectively in respect of former members of the forces whose service was terminated by death or substantial incapacity on or after the date of the first national service intake, 30th June 1965. While eligibility for pensions benefits under the Bill will accrue to members of the forces, or their widows and children, where death or invalidity occurred subsequent to 30th June 1965, provision will be made for payment of pension to those eligible to commence on and from 3rd November 1967.
It had been intended that pension payments should commence from the date of commencement of the amending legislation with one fortnight’s contribution at the rate appropriate to the former member’s rank being deducted from the initial pension payment to give contributor status in accordance with the provisions of the principal Act. Because the early end to the session will delay the introduction of this measure, 1 emphasise again that it is the intention of the Government to include in the Bill provision for pension payments to commence on and from 3rd November 1967. Members who would otherwise have been admitted to the fund and who might die or be discharged in circumstances which would establish pension entitlement under the proposed Act, between 3rd November 1967 and the commencement of the Act will thus be adequately protected. The effect of the Government’s proposal will be to regard these former members of the forces as becoming members of the fund on the day immediately preceding the date of commencement of the provision and to deem that death or discharge occurred on that day. The cost of these pensions will be met by the Commonwealth and not the fund.
There are presently in the forces a considerable number of Commonwealth officers on leave from their employment who are contributing to the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund. The Government considers it appropriate that these members, like their Service colleagues, should contribute to the DFRB Fund. The Government will propose that the superannuation contributions of these members should be deferred while they remain on leave from their civil employment to serve in the forces. On returning to Commonwealth employment on the completion of defence service the officer will be expected to pay his deferred superannuation contributions. The refund of contributions and gratuity which the officer will receive from the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund should be more than sufficient to permit this.
Although these members will not be contributing under both funds at the same time it is the Government’s intention that, should a situation arise in which the benefit under the Superannuation Fund would be greater than the benefit payable from the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund, benefits at the higher level should be paid. Speaking in general terms, the Defence
Forces Retirement Benefits Act now provides for gratuities for members of the fund, and the financial regulations of the various Services provide gratuities for nonmembers. It is proposed to continue this arrangement. The gratuity provisions will, however,beextendedtocoverthenew types of members to be admitted to the fund.
The Government’s review of the scheme consequent upon the decision to extend its benefits to short service members drew attention to two aspects of the present scheme that require amendment in order to fully protect existing and future members of the fund. The first concerns active service risks. Although the Superannuation Act protects the Superannuation Fund against abnormal liabilities arising from death and incapacity due to active service the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund is not similarly protected. The Government considers that the fund should not continue to carry this risk for which specific provision cannot reasonably be made in the contribution rates of members. Accordingly, the Government proposes to amend the Act to provide for the Commonwealth to meet, in respect of all contributors to the fund, the cost of active service risks in excess of the normal risks provided for in the rates of contributions paid. The second matter concerns the protection of the fund and the Commonwealth against the payment of benefits in respect of a medical condition which clearly existed before a member entered the defence force. The Government will propose that persons discharged within 3 months of entry because of a medical condition which existed prior to enlistment or appointment and which has not been materially aggravated by service should not be entitled to benefits under the Act.
There are three other matters about whichI should comment. Because many of the new members will serve for comparatively short periods and then leave the service, receiving a refund of their contributions to the fund on discharge, the question arose as to whether the earnings on these contributions while held by the fund would be adequate to meet the cost of death and invalidity risk cover provided to the member during his service. These arrangements now apply to existing mem bers of the fund. However, the statistical information presently available has not been sufficient to determine whether the experience of new members will be similar to that of existing members. Accordingly, it is the Government’s intention to have the Commonwealth Actuary reviewthe position as at 30th June 1969 by which time reasonable statistical information should be available. Should the Actuary’s review show that the death and invalidity risk amongst these new categories of members is significantly higher than that of the longer term members of the fund, and this is by no means certain, the Government will propose that the fund be reimbursed for the added risk.
A similar approach will be adopted in respect of those persons who the Government proposes should now be admitted to the fund although of a somewhat lower medical standard than present fund members. Here again, there is insufficient statistical information available to assess whether the invalidity and death risk in respect of these persons is higher than for other members of the fund. In view of the relatively small numbers involved, the Government decided that these members should be subject to the same conditions as other members of the fund. However, it would be the Government’s intention to review the position as at 30th June 1969 and to propose that the fund be reimbursed should a significantly higher risk be disclosed.
The third matter concerns juvenile members of the forces. The Government Members’ Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Committee, ably led by the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Mr Stokes), has expressed concern about the existing provisions of the Act referring to members of the Services under the age of 20. Members aged 18 and 19 years at present contribute at the normal rate of 5% of pay but are covered only for death and invalidity benefits until age 20 years when service commences to count towards an age pension. Accordingly, these members may pay up to 2 years’ more contributions for the same age pension as a person entering the forces at the age of 20. As well, there are now over 3,000 juvenile members of the forces under the age of 18 years who are not permitted to join the Fund although many are in receipt of adult rates of pay. For such non-contributory members a small invalidity pension only is payable, even though the disability might be such as to impair the member’s earning capacity for life. There are a number of possible solutions which are being considered and the Government hopes to be in a position to determine the most appropriate solutions, and to incorporate these in legislation early in the autumn session.
I again emphasise that the Government’s proposals will extend the benefits of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act to over 21,000 additional servicemen and women, who have hitherto been prevented by the terms of their service from becoming members of the Fund. The proposals will ensure that all members of forces on fulltime continuous duty for periods of 12 months or more will enjoy similar benefits for comparable service. I present the following paper:
Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund - Ministerial Statement, 1 November 1967 - and move:
That the House take note of the paper.
– by leave- The Treasurer (Mr McMahon) has just made a very important statement. It affects a very large section of the people who are now serving in the Australian forces. The Opposition cannot understand why the Treasurer has not been able to introduce, as he foreshadowed in his Budget speech, the legislation that would give effect to the decisions he has now announced. When he delivered his Budget speech he foreshadowed that those members who are now serving in the armed forces as national servicemen would in future be eligible for the benefits of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund. I pointed out then that the Government had adopted a principle that would provide two rates in the future for totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen. Those national servicemen who are serving overseas in special areas prescribed by the Government will, under the terms of this legislation, be entitled on their discharge to receive the total and permanent incapacity rate of pension in addition to the amount that would normally be paid to them from the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund.
The Opposition has already stated its attitude. It will not oppose the legislation when it is introduced. We applaud the Government for its attitude. But we have made our position quite clear on the Government’s determination to have two rates applicable to those who are discharged as totally and permanently incapacitated. The Treasurer referred in his Budget speech to the amounts that will be payable to an exserviceman, a national serviceman or a member of the permanent forces who had been discharged as totally and permanently incapacitated. The Treasurer in his statement today said that an ex-serviceman in this category will receive from the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund $31.50 a week and in addition will receive a basic tax-free pension of $34.55 a week under the repatriation legislation. The Treasurer has repeated the statement he made in his Budget speech. He ought to be more specific, because he must know that the rate of $34.55 a week would be paid only to a totally and permanently incapacitated exserviceman who has a dependent wife. A single totally and permanently incapacitated ex-serviceman would receive only $30.50. The rate of $34.55 is made up of the amount that is paid to the ex-serviceman as a pension and the amount of $4.05 that is paid to his wife. The Treasurer has tried to convey in his statement the impression that every totally and permanently incapacitated ex-serviceman will receive a pension of $34.55 a week. This is incorrect. If the Treasurer wants to use this figure, he should point out that it will be paid only to a totally and permanently incapacitated exserviceman who has a dependent wife.
I do not want to deal with the statement at length this afternoon. The Opposition will have the opportunity to deal with the matter when the appropriate legislation is before the House. However, the Treasurer has had ample opportunity to present the amending legislation to the House. This afternoon he has anticipated the legislation with a statement explaining the Government’s attitude and what it proposes to do. But he should have had the Bill available before this; the House adjourns at the end of the week. He has failed to do so. He promised in his Budget speech that the legislation would be available during this sessional period. It is not available and I think he should have given a better reason than be has, that is that it has not been possible for the Government to overcome drafting difficulties. A good deal of legislation has been presented to the Parliament during this sessional period. Very few of the amending Bills that have been presented would merit the same consideration as the Bill to provide these benefits to exservicemen. However, despite the importance of the subject, the Treasurer now informs us that it will not be possible to introduce the amending Bill before the first sessional period in 1968.
Having made those points, let me again express the attitude of the Opposition on this subject. We do not oppose the Government’s decision to provide additional benefits to national servicemen who are now serving overseas in prescribed areas and who will be classified as a result of a war caused disability as totally and permanently incapacitated. But there are matters that the Opposition will have to consider very carefully when the legislation is before the Parliament. There is, for example, the question of the rights of a national serviceman who, having completed his period of service overseas in a prescribed area, is discharged and subsequently becomes totally and permanently incapacitated. Perhaps the Treasurer will be good enough to tell the House what will happen in such a case. I suggest that, if a national serviceman is discharged, his contributions to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund should be repaid to him. If be subsequently becomes totally and permanently incapacitated as a result of a war caused disability flowing from his service in Vietnam or in a special area he will not be entitled to the additional pension. Of course the Treasurer made no reference to this In his statement.
These are the questions that the Opposition puts to the Treasurer. We believe we are entitled to a full and frank explanation. Will the Treasurer tell the House what happens in the case of a national serviceman who is discharged and who subsequently becomes totally and permanently incapacitated? He will not have any benefits from the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund. His contribution will have been re- funded to him at the time of his discharge. The Opposition will take the opportunity when the amending legislation comes before the House in 1968 to deal more fully with some of the questions I have asked this afternoon and which the Treasurer has not answered.
I say finally that the Treasurer ought not to mislead the people of this country by having them believe that the rate of pension that will be paid to a TPI exserviceman is higher than that actually provided under the Act. He knows that the amount he mentioned in his statement this afternoon will be paid only if the TPI exserviceman has a dependent wife. The Treasurer used this figure in his Budget speech and he has repeated it this afternoon. It is quite incorrect. I believe the Treasurer should be more accurate in quoting the amounts that will be paid to TPI exservicemen.
Mr McMAHON (Lowe- Treasurer) - by leave - The honourable member has asked three questions that I believe deserve to be answered immediately. He asked, first, what were the reasons for the delay. He probably knows that there is an interlocking relationship between the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act and the Superannuation Act, and this results in a most complicated and difficult task. We have had several Cabinet or Cabinet sub-committee meetings to sift through the mass of detail that has been thrown up and to try to get the legislation ready for presentation to this Parliament. The simple fact is that it has just not been practicable to do so, although I did have some hope towards the end of last week that we might be able to draft a skeleton Bill - not a full one - for introduction to the Parliament, and that we could later withdraw it and bring forward the comprehensive defence forces retirement benefits legislation.
As to the honourable member’s question about inaccuracy, we have heard a good deal in this House in the last few days about inaccuracy, but I must say that the honourable member himself is guilty of inaccuracy in this case. I have just been informed by the responsible officials that in the example given of a married private soldier totally and permanently incapacitated, the figure of $31.50 a week mentioned as the pension that he will receive is accurate. That was the figure given by me and it has now been confirmed by my Department.
– But the Treasurer said he would receive $34.55 under the repatriation legislation.
– I said that a married private soldier totally and permanently incapacitated as a result of war service will receive a pension of $31.50 per week under the defence forces retirement benefits legislation, together with a basic tax-free pension of $34.55 per week under the repatriation legislation.
– That is not right. I think the Minister’s officials had better inform him further.
– I have again checked with my officials and am assured that this is in fact the married rate. So the honourable member is making a mistake.
– That includes a wife? The TPI rate is not $34.55.
– I used the word ‘married’ at the beginning of that passage, and the honourable member knows I used it. If he would like to look at my statement again he may do so. I have underlined the word in the copy I have before me so that it will be easier for him to see. The honourable member obviously is either blind or he is attempting to create a diversion.
The third question raised by the honourable member concerned a person who was discharged and who subsequently became totally and permanently incapacitated. The question was whether he could subsequently become entitled to defence forces retirement benefits on a TPI basis. The answer is that he can if he is discharged with invalidity benefits unless the basis of discharge is changed. If he is not he cannot get the benefits.
Debate (on motion by Mr Chancy) adjourned.
– by leave - The Government has now received advice from all States in response to the Prime Minister’s invitation to participate in the national water resources development programme of $50m over 5 years as announced in our policy speech of November 1966. Further details are still awaited in relation to some State proposals for consideration under this programme. There are, however, two projects which have been under consideration by the Commonwealth for some time, namely the Ord and Emerald irrigation projects.
The Ord is a large project in an isolated northern region, the first stage of which was completed in 1963. Over the past 3 years, the Commonwealth has been giving consideration to the question of financial assistance for the second stage of the project. In the circumstances, we have decided to consider it outside the national water resources development programme and to regard it rather as a special northern development project. The Western Australian Government has recently resubmitted its proposals in regard to stage 2 of the project incorporating the latest information available, including information on the matters which we felt required further clarification when we decided to defer a decision on the project in October 1966.
There have been favourable developments in regard to cotton growing. Firstly, satisfactory results have been achieved in the current season with a greatly increased area of stub cotton - this is the practice of allowing the cotton plant to bear for two seasons; secondly, trials on the Kimberley Research Station and on private farms with a new cotton variety, Stoneville 7a, look promising and should enable farmers to obtain significantly greater yields in future seasons.
Apart from cotton, the prospects for commercial production of grain sorghum appear much more promising than they did 12 months ago. There is a large and growing market for this product in Japan, and the long term prospects appear good. Promising results with sorghum production have been obtained in experiments in the area. These developments should provide more flexibility in farm programmes and it is no longer necessary to regard the scheme exclusively on the basis of a cotton monoculture.
In the light of this further information, the Government considers that the economic prospects for the project have been greatly improved. The Government has therefore decided to make available financial assistance of approximately $48m to the State of Western Australia to proceed with stage 2 of the Ord irrigation project. The financial assistance offered is on the basis of a non-repayable grant for the construction of the dam and an interest-bearing loan in respect of the other irrigation works. The details of the financial arrangements will have to be discussed with the State.
I turn now to the Emerald irrigation project, which has been submitted by the Queensland Government as its first priority for consideration under the National Water Resources Development Programme. The State had in fact submitted this project prior to the announcement of the National Water Resources Development Programme and Commonwealth authorities have had greater opportunity to evaluate it than is the case with other projects submitted more recently by other States. A range of crops including cotton, sorghum, wheat and lucerne has been grown successfully under irrigation in the project area. On the basis of the studies made, subject to further checks on certain aspects, the economic prospects for this project appear sufficiently encouraging to warrant its inclusion in the Programme. The Commonwealth has, therefore, decided, subject to further checks in relation to the cost estimates and the suitability of certain soils in the area confirming the State’s proposals, to make available financial assistance up to a maximum of $20m for this project under the National Water Resources Development Programme. This assistance will be in the form of a non-repayable grant for construction of the dam. The State would be expected to finance the irrigation, drainage and associated works. I think that it might be of interest for honourable members to know that present in the House today is one of the original five cotton growers at the Ord River project. Mr Deputy Speaker, I present the following paper:
National Water Resources Development Programme - Ministerial Statement, 1 November 1967- and move:
That the House take note of the paper.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, the statement just made by the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) will come as no surprise to most people in Queensland and Western Aus tralia and to honourable members in this House, because the Government is in such a desperate political position with respect to the people of Western Australia and Queensland that it has been forced to make a decision regarding water conservation in both States.
– How stupid does the honourable member think people are in my electorate?
- Mr Deputy Speaker, 1 ask the honourable member for Kennedy to withdraw that statement.
– I asked the honourable member how stupid does he think the people in my electorate are.
– I did not hear the statement made by the honourable member for Kennedy.
– One would expect the honourable member for Kennedy to make that snide statement about me. He has had rather a varied political career. The statement-
-Order! The honourable member for Dawson will resume his seat. I suggest that the House come to order. I call the honourable member for Dawson.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, as I was saying, it is no surprise to the Opposition and it is certainly no surprise to the Premiers of Western Australia and Queensland that the Government has been forced to make this statement and take action on water conservation at this point in time. It is rather remarkable that in the dying days of the Parliament and coin.cidentally on the eve of the Senate election the Government should make this important statement affecting Western Australia and Queensland where every poll taken since the last election has shown the tremendous rate at which the Government has lost popularity in those two States because of the blatant discrimination shown by this Government against those States regarding water.
– Tell us what happened in Capricornia.
– Fancy the Country Party talking about the Capricornia byelection which represents the worst defeat that it has ever had in Queensland. Regarding Queensland, it is well known that the former Treasurer, Sir Arthur Fadden, who is a member of the Country Party, made a momentous statement in 1949 about what his Party would do regarding water conservation when it came into power. But what has this Government done and what has the Country Party done with respect to water conservation in Queensland? We find that $900m has been allocated by this Government in the States for power, water conservation and flood mitigation and not one cent has gone to Queensland. The people of Queensland are well aware of this fact. At the last Federal election, the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) was forced to make a promise. He promised $50m in the next 5 years for water conservation projects. It is only today that we have before us any positive decision taken on that statement. The excuse, whenever questions have been asked in this House time and time again by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), by myself and by one member of the Country Party, the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Ian Allan), has been that the Government has written to the Premiers and that the information concerning the questions has been confidential. The Government always says that it is trying to get this information from the States and that when the information is available and has been analysed it will make a decision.
Anyone would think that the Premier of Queensland and the Premier of Western Australia had never approached the Commonwealth with respect to water conservation. The truth is, of course, that so far as stage 2 of the Ord River project is concerned the Government of Western Australia has made so many approaches to the Commonwealth that the people of Western Australia, the Government of Western Australia, the Parliament of Western Australia and the people on the Ord River project have become sick and tired of the hypocrisy of this Government regarding water. Because of this, the Government has made a decision on the eve of a Senate election with regard to water conservation. Exactly the same can be said about the position in Queensland. Queensland has already given this Government one shock, lt did this in 1961. What happened after the results of the 1961 election? We saw brigalow development. We saw beef roads.
– Does the honourable member not want that?
– We saw an unprecedented level of-
– Does the honourable member not want this?
-Order! The honourable member for Cowper will cease interjecting.
– We saw an unprecedented level of Commonwealth funds flow into Queensland. This was because the Queensland people had almost kicked this Government out of office because of its discrimination against Queensland. Then, we have the promise made by the Prime Minister on the eve of the election for the House of Representatives in 1963. This was the next great development promise. It has turned out to be one of the most blatant hypocritical tricks in the history of this Federal Parliament. This was the move to develop Northern Australia. This was the establishment of the Northern Division of the Department of National Development, of which the second Director has now resigned or is in the process of resigning. The most important point is that these promises were made for political reasons. They were forced on the Government. The Government was returned to office with a big majority. What happened then? In 1964 nothing was provided in the Budget for the matters to which I have referred. No funds were provided for beef roads and water. The funds for beef roads started to taper off. In 1965 nothing was provided in the Budget again with the exception of $3. 5m for the Queensland Government to assist a foreign owned company at Weipa. Again there was nothing for water. Nothing was provided for beef roads.
– Did not the honourable member recommend Weipa to me when he was Head of the Division?
– I would be most grateful if the Minister would give me leave to divulge to the House what I did recommend to him. Since I have been a member of this Parliament, I have never divulged any confidence or any Cabinet submission that 1 have written to any person. If the
Minister wants me to give this House details of my recommendations 1 will be delighted, Sir, to do so. 1 will be delighted to let him know what I recommended in connection with the Budget in 1965. The next step by the Government was taken on the eve of the Dawson by-election. Suddenly for beef roads in area 3, the Government found the money that it could not find in the 1965 Budget, 5 months earlier. The Minister for National Development thought that this beef road was in Dawson until he was reminded in the town of Sarina that thai area was in Kennedy. The next move by the Government was the development of area 3, again on the eve of the Dawson byelection. Again money was found, which could not be found in the previous budget.
But the most important asset of all in the permanent developmental field in Queensland and Western Australia is water. After the initial promise by the Prime Minister in November it was 8 months before the Government wrote to the Premier of Queensland seeking details of water conservation projects. This procedure, of course, has been given, chapter and verse in answer to many questions asked by the Opposition. The Government has always tried to make out that Queensland in the past has not submitted a proposal regarding water. I commenced by saying what the Country Party intended to do when the Government came into office in 1949. We know the deplorable record of the Country Party in the field of water development in Queensland. In 1960 the Queensland Premier submitted to the Commonwealth Government proposals for the Nathan Gorge and the development of the Dawson River. It was turned down flat by the Commonwealth. Again in 1960 proposals were submitted for the extension of Mareeba-Dimbulah project. It was turned down flat. In the same year proposals were submitted for the development of irrigation projects on the Mclntyre Brook and the border rivers between New South Wales and Queensland. That was turned down flat. In 1963 the Queensland Premier asked for technical assistance with respect to an evaluation of the Nogoa Dam project. This assistance was granted. The Bureau of Agricultural Economics carried out an investigation. Its first report was unfavourable. The assumptions on which the first report was based were not sound, with respect to yields of cotton, sorghum and maize. Since that time more investigations have been carried out. But during all of this time, despite the fact that the technical experts in Queensland were perfectly satisfied with the viability of the Nogoa Dam project, the Government made the Queensland Premier and the people of Queensland sweat it out until the time was opportune to make a decision.
The past situation regarding the Ord River project is so tragic that it need not be repeated again in this House. I do not know how the Western Australian Premier and the people concerned with the Ord River project have been able to put up with the stalling tactics of this Government for so many years. It was only at the beginning of this year that the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) went to the Ord. In fact, from reports which I was given when I was at the Orel in the middle of this year, the Treasurer was critical about it. It is strange to recall all the reasons advanced by the Government this year as to why it could not do anything regarding the Ord River project. It said it wanted more time to obtain technological advice. It said it wanted more time to be able to see that the problems concerning parasites were solved. It also said it wanted more time in which to study the production and economics of sorghum. But by a very strange coincidence, suddenly all of these questions have crystallised quickly and the Government is satisfied about them. It must be satisfied. It would not spend $48m on the Ord if it were not satisfied. Suddenly, in a matter of weeks, all the arguments that had been advanced against the Ord have been tossed overboard by the Government.
The Government is fooling no-one. It certainly will not fool the people of Western Australia or of Queensland as regards its behaviour in the past concerning water conservation. The Government’s record with respect to water conservation in Queensland is deplorable. It has not given that State lc despite the fact that it is the richest State in the Commonwealth so far as water is concerned. Approximately 44% of the surface water on the mainland area of Australia is in Queensland. Of our mainland water supplies, 75% is north of the Tropic of Capricorn. Not only is Queensland the richest State in the Commonwealth as regards water resources; but contiguous to water resources in the Fitzroy and Burdekin River basins are some of the richest soils in Australia. In Queensland we have the ability and capacity to grow tremendous quantities of rice, cotton, sorghum and other grains, centred around the beef cattle industry. Queensland can grow those products which we can sell overseas. A similar position applies to the Ord. It is a great Australian project. Several years ago I stated that the Ord would be one of Australia’s greatest assets. As each day goes by 1 am more and more certain that I was right. Nowhere else in Australia is there the possibility - now the distinct probability - of impounding so much water in relation to such a large area of uniform and commandable soils. There are at least 200,000 acres of commandable good quality soils. Nowhere else in Australia, within known technology, have we a combination of those two features. The Ord could be one of the cheapest water conservation projects in terms of the cost of acre feet impounded in Australia.
The most tragic aspect of ali is that the decision of the Minister and of the Government to provide water to Western Australia and Queensland has to be held until the dying days of the sessional period of Parliament. It is simply grandstanding in the worst sense of the word for the Senate election, lt is, however, consistent with every decision that this Government has made in respect to northern development. Each decision has been announced either as a matter of political necessity or as a result of an election promise. This applies to every decision that has been made from the original Ord River grant to the decisions on this current Nogoa and Ord dams projects. It applies to the brigalow scheme, coal ports, the Mount lsa railway, beef roads and northern ports. I would not be surprised to see in the next few days or the next few weeks a decision taken on the mysterious, mythical $50m beef roads scheme. What has happened to this scheme that was announced by the Minister for National Development some months ago? Where is it now?
-Order! I suggest to the honourable member for Dawson that it does not really matter where it is. lt is not the subject of this debate.
– 1 was going to conclude by saying that there is an analogy between the present decision on the water and the $50m that was promised for beef roads some months ago. The $50m beef road scheme is in the same position as the $50m water conservation scheme. If the Government is consistent with its decisions in the past on northern development it will make a decision regarding the beef road scheme within the next few days or within the next few weeks - certainly before the Senate election.
– 1 do not want to castigate the Government on this decision. I had the feeling that because Western Australia was to get $48m for which I am deeply grateful and Queensland is to get $20m, the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) somehow would be able to control himself. It seems to me that we cannot win. According to the Opposition, no time is the right time to say anything in this House. Whenever the Government announces something that is of great national importance it is said that it is committing a grave sin or error. Let us have a look at what has happened. The honourable member for Dawson says that this is purely a political gimmick which has been introduced because of the Senate election. What he means, in effect, is that it has taken some of the wind out of the sails of honourable members opposite in their election campaign. They will not be able to go around the country saying: ‘What about the Ord? What about the dams in Queensland?’ This is fair political play. Honourable members opposite are saying, in effect: ‘You chaps are quite unfair because you have stopped us saying these things about you’. We are all in politics. If the Federal Government had wanted to make real political capital out of the Ord it would not have picked the Senate election as the time at which to make the announcement; it would have made the announcement 12 months ago. This was a pretty hot political question at that time, and the Commonwealth Government showed great political courage in deciding then to seek further information. It has now obtained further information and has announced to the nation that the project will go ahead. Rather than berate the Government and whinge about what has happened, I congratulate it. I congratulate the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) particularly on what he has achieved in respect of both the Western Australian proposal and the Queensland proposal.
The honourable member for Dawson seems to think that whenever Prime Ministers and Premiers correspond with one another every member of this House should receive copies of the correspondence in order to learn what is going on. Where would the nation’s affairs be if this happened? There must be hundreds of occasions when a Premier gets in touch with the Prime Minister in complete and utter confidence and I congratulate those who maintain this confidence. I for one do not want to be informed of every approach by a State to the Prime Minister. The States realise that the Commonwealth is in a position in which it cannot accede to every request. Priorities have to be observed and funds have to be apportioned according to the nation’s best interests.
The honourable member for Dawson suggests that it is a wonder that the people of Western Australia have tolerated this Government for so long. Let us look at what has happened in that State. Where did the finance for the Comprehensive Water Supply Scheme come from? It came from the Commonwealth Government. What about the standard gauge railway in thai State? I know that there are many people throughout Australia who claim that they were the originators of this idea, but my colleague, the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth), in a report that was presented to this House by the Government Members Rail Standardisation Committee, of which the present Minister for National Development was then Secretary, emphasised how important it was to have a standard gauge railway for the transport of iron ore from Koolyanobbing to the coast at Fremantle. This railway is now an accomplished fact. The honourable member for Mackellar, the Minister and other members of that Committee were laughed at by many Australians and by many members of this House at that time. Let us consider also the port development that has been undertaken in Western Australia. Where did the money for this come from? It came from the Commonwealth Government. I suggest that one would find it difficult to convince the people of Western Australia that the National Government in Canberra had completely ignored their needs. Proof of this is to be seen in the results of every election since 1949. On every occasion, somebody has asserted on the hustings that there is in Canberra wicked government that is not treating Western Australia properly. But, strangely enough, the people of that State seem always to return a fairly high proportion of members who support the present Government.
I now turn to what I set out to say, Mr Deputy Speaker. The Government is to be congratulated for its moves in relation to the Ord and the Emerald projects in two States where water supplies and development are extremely important. The honourable member for Dawson said that when he went to Kununurra he heard that the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) was critical of the Ord River project. I went there in April or May of this year at a time that coincided with a visit by the Minister for National Development, other Ministers and various experts. A number of Ministers in this Government went there to see for themselves what was going on and to talk to the farmers on the irrigated areas, with the object of sitting round the Cabinet table on their return and making a decision. Decisions of this kind cannot be made overnight. lt is sheer political chicanery for the honourable member for Dawson to say that this announcement is made the day before the House rises for a Senate election purely to help the Government in that election. I repeat that if the Government sought to gain real political advantage from an announcement such as this, it would not choose to make it just before a Senate election, for most of the time Senate elections are fairly well cut and dried affairs. If that were the Government’s purpose, the announcement would be made before a general election for this House. The Government, to its credit, did not choose last year, under pressure by some Opposition members, to make this announcement about the Ord scheme. I am sure that all representatives of Western Australia in this House and the Senate, as well as the great majority of citizens of Western Australia, congratulate the Minister and the Government on the decision that has been taken with respect to the Ord River project.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I welcome the Government’s announcement about the Ord and the Emerald projects. I note that the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn), in his statement, said:
The Government has therefore decided to make available financial assistance of approximately $48m to the State of Western Australia to proceed with stage 2 of the Ord irrigation project. The financial assistance offered is on the basis of a non-repayable grant for the construction of the dam and an interest bearing loan in respect of the other irrigation works.
We do not know just how this allocation is to be apportioned. Only the other day, in this House, 1 cited some figures based on loans that had been advanced by this Government to Western Australia, and, if I remember correctly, Queensland also. Those figures showed that the Commonwealth Government was at least getting its pound of flesh out of those loans. I have not the figures with me now, but, if I recall them correctly, the Government is charging interest at the rate of 5i% and, on some projects, the States concerned are paying in interest more than they received in capital. It would be interesting to know what the apportionment of the funds will be, so that we can relate the figures to the actual situation. It is interesting to note also that, referring to the Ord project, the Minister said:
A range of crops including cotton, sorghum, wheat and lucerne has been grown successfully under irrigation in the project area.
According to the Minister, this is the reason for the Government’s change of attitude. We have been telling the Government for years that work at the Kimberley Research Station had revealed that all these crops could be grown in the Ord River region. As everybody knows, that research station on the Ord River was established by the Labor Government in 1949.
– By Labor Governments in both the State and the Commonwealth.
– Yes, by State and Federal Labor Governments. It was quite reasonable for the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) to point out that the Government’s announcement has been made on the eve of the Senate election. Has not this sort of thing been the Government’s practice throughout the years? In 1963, Sir Robert Menzies, the former Prime Minister, said that the diversion dam on the Ord River was needed desperately for the future of that region. That was just before the 1963 general election, at a time when the Government had a majority of only one in this House and was looking for an opportunity to increase that majority. Immediately the election was over, its majority having been enlarged, the completion of the Ord River project was pushed to one side and forgotten.
Record crops of cotton have been grown in the Ord River area, and we hope that the financial assistance now to be given by this Government will help further in the development of cotton growing. Certain interests were preventing the provision of this finance earlier, of course. This is a marvellous project, lt has an assured water supply. All that is needed is the harnessing of that supply. The second diversion dam will enable a large volume of water to be stored for use in the future and will allow another 160,000 acres to be irrigated. The total irrigation area will be 170,000 acres; - 30,000 acres in stage 1 and 95,000 acres in stage 2, both of which are in Western Australia, with another 45,000 acres in stage 3, which will be in the Northern Territory. So it can be seen that this is not entirely a Western Australian project. It is also a Northern Territory project. When this matter was discussed on an earlier occasion, $18,760,000 was needed for the dam, $34m for the irrigation scheme and $8,460,000 for power generation - a total of $61,220,000. I do not know whether the figures have altered since, although they may have. Of this sum, about $20m was to be spent in the Northern Territory. The cost was to be spread over 15 years, if I remember correctly, and about $800,000 was to be spent in the first year. The Minister has said that $48m will be allocated to Western Australia for stage 2 of the project. Is that supposed to complete the Western Australian section of the project, or is it just a first step towards its completion? This is an important question, and I hope that the Minister will give us the answer to it.
Over the years, the Government’s attitude has been rightly condemned by the honourable member for Dawson. It is pleasing, however, to learn that even at this late stage something is to be done. This is a matter of national responsibility, as is any aspect of northern development, whether in the north of Western Australia, the north of Queensland or the Northern Territory. We believe that all the north should be developed. The possibilities in the north are tremendous. This Ord River scheme, as I emphasised during a debate only last week, could be repeated on other rivers where thousands of millions of gallons of water are flowing into the sea and being wasted. I instance the Fitzroy River. But there are other rivers as well.
As the Minister said, almost any crop can be grown in the Emerald area and it would carry many thousands more cattle. A combination of cattle, sorghum and other products would help to develop this area. We could take a lesson from California where 480,000 tons of cotton seed is treated each year and from the by-products thousands of cattle are topped off. This might be a means of developing the cattle industry to a greater extent. Ail this will add to our export income and aid our balance of payments.
Dr Alex Kerr, a reader in economics at the University of Western Australia, believes that this area could support a population of over 100,000 people by 1980. He points out that cities with a similar climate in the United States of America have a population of over 1 million people. At present the population of the area is 3i people to every 100 square miles of the 577,000 square miles above the 26th parallel. The honourable member for Perth (Mr Chaney) congratulated the Government for what it is doing on this occasion, but I did not hear him being critical of the Government formerly, although some members on the other side of the House have been critical of the Government in regard to this particular scheme.
Only last week I said that the Ord River project should be treated as a national project similar to the Snowy Mountains scheme and should no more be considered a debit against the State of Western Australia than the Snowy Mountains scheme is being considered as a debit against the States of Victoria and New South Wales. Projects such as the Ord River scheme will make Western Australia a much stronger economic unit of the Commonwealth and it will result in bigger markets for goods from the eastern States because more people will be able to purchase goods from the eastern States. This scheme will also aid foreign exchange by supplying more exports. I sincerely hope that this project, now that this finance has been made available, will be continued until it is finished. I feel certain that it will be of great benefit not only to Western Australia but to Australia as a whole.
– The- announcement that the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) has made is a direct outcome of the result of the Capricornia by-election.
– I rise to order. I realise that the Leader of the Opposition will speak on this subject, but according to the rules a member of the Australian Country Party is entitled to be called, since the last speaker is a member of the Labor Party.
-In regard to the point of order raised by the honourable member for Perth, I confess that if anybody else except the Leader of the Opposition answered the call I did not notice them. Did the honourable member for Kennedy rise?
– I have been waiting to speak.
-I apologise to the honourable member for Kennedy. I call the honourable member for Kennedy.
– Firstly, may I extend to the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) not only my congratulations but the congratulations of the people I represent in the capital highlands, or more precisely the Emerald area. We express to him our great appreciation for the manner in which he approached this matter. In so doing I would also like to express my gratitude to the Treasurer (Mr McMahon), who took the trouble to visit this area and spend 2 days there. I would also like to express gratitude to the Joint Government National Development Com.mitte which carried out a very thorough survey. I was absolutely thrilled by the fact that this Committee accepted my invitation to visit this area. But this story goes back a long time before the theorists and the academics came into the picture and before those who sat in their offices and worked out their theories of how we should develop the outback even knew that we existed. It goes back to 1948 when I was secretary of the Western Local Government Association we began this agitation for irrigation project in the Emerald area. The story continued on from there. 1 was most surprised to see the reaction of the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) today, because it was only a few weeks ago that he leant across the table and congratulated the Minister for National Development on certain research work that was being done to assess the water capacity of this area. I can almost see the expression of sheer delight on the face of the Minister for National Development. But now when it comes to spending $20m and S48m - not a mere pittance - on development, for some unknown reason the honourable member for Dawson is absolutely staggered. One could see the reaction on his face. I am deeply disappointed, because I thought that if there was one man in this House who would thrill to this announcement it was the honourable member for Dawson. He was absolutely full of chagrin. So over the years we agitated.
The honourable member for Dawson made some very interesting remarks at a conference held recently in Ayr. He said that it must be realised that the Federal Government cannot deal with these water conservation schemes for the States unless plans were submitted by the States. It would be very interesting indeed to examine the sterile record of the Queensland Government prior to 1957. The Nogoa Gap and similar schemes were not examined then and plans were not submitted to the Federal Government. These schemes were not even contemplated. I was a member of the Australian Labor Party in those days and 1 make no apology for that. It used the policy of national development during my own campaign and it was futile, because an electorate that had been held by the ALP since Federation swung with possibly a swing that created political history. This was because the ALP regard people in my area as galahs. Its members do not visit this area. Do not make any mistake about that. If ALP members visit it they come through like a brumby with his tail on fire. They sweep through the area. This is exactly how Labor regards the people in my area, and the people know it and are not now falling for the Labor Party’s antiquated political cliches.
Nothing was done by the Federal Government in those days because it had very little, if anything, submitted to it. But to see a man congratulate the Minister for National Development with great fervour on one day because of a small contribution in this field - mere research work - and then see him get up today and in a fever denounce the grant of $20m to the people of Queensland is absolutely staggering, and I for one am genuinely and sincerely disappointed in his reactions.
If the Minister intended to make this announcement for political purposes surely he would have done it prior to the Capricornia by-election, because Frank Rudd was closely associated with this development scheme. I owe a great deat of gratitude to Frank Rudd for his assistance to me to secure the Minister’s decision. I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the Emerald Shire Council, the Chamber of Commerce, and the great team of people in that area, and perhaps above all to the Queensland Government which took the trouble to examine this scheme closely. The Queensland Government did not want to have another Peak Downs scheme which would crash around its ears. When it was satisfied that it had a scheme to submit to the Minister for approval it came forward with the scheme and received a result which will be applauded from one end of Queensland to another as a splendid example of pure decentralisation. I do not think that I have to impress on the Minister that we are going to sit back and say that nothing more is required for development in the north. We are not. But we do appreciate this tremendous contribution.
If I may deal very briefly with what this contribution will mean to this area. First of all, the morale of the people in the area will be boosted sky high. The pattern of development in northern Australia indicates very clearly, even to people not conversant with such matters, that not only will cattle production increase dramatically but the quality of beef will show tremendous improvement. I remember the opinion expressed by the late director of Northern Development, Don Sutherland, who said that the general pattern would be to bring cattle across northern Australia to the central highlands of Queensland. The central highlands area would be used for fattening as well as for general intensive feeding and so on. My electorate has been favoured and today is a day which could almost be described as one of historical importance to this area.
One of the great benefits to come from this announcement by the Minister for National Development will be that this area will provide a tremendous source of fodder. In the near future action will be taken to conserve fodder to mitigate the effects of droughts in Queensland. The central highlands area has been regarded always as having a tremendous potential. The one thing it lacks is water. The people of the area believe that if they have sufficient water the area could become a second Darling Downs. As people from Queensland know, the Darling Downs is one of the most prolific producing areas in Queensland. But the people did not know that in the course of time, following the general trend in the United States of America and other countries interested in increasing cattle production and improving the quality of beef, the central highlands would become a great cattle feeding area. This land can be used for intensive feeding and, possibly, lot feeding. This is not beyond the realm of possibility. Fantastic prices have been paid for limited acreages in that area. Obviously the trend is to intensive feeding. Is it not perfectly obvious that the construction of the Nogoa Gap Dam will provide the key to the whole situation? This announcement by the Minister will mean a tremendous contribution to the development of my electorate, particularly to the central highlands area.
I was thrilled indeed with the announcement. I again express, as sincerely as I can. my appreciation to the Minister first, and to the Queensland Government and the great team of people who, for the past 15 or 20 years, have been hoping that this scheme would develop. I again express my disappointment and utter amazement at the reaction of the honourable member for Dawson. He should applaud this announcement but he denounced the scheme. It is probably the most significant announcement in recent times for the State of Queensland, and for Western Australia with respect to the Ord River scheme.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise to a point of order. I would like to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member for Dawson claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. The honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) stated twice that 1 had denounced the scheme. This was a deliberate untruth.
-Order! There is no substance to the point of order.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I ask for a withdrawal by the honourable member for Dawson of the phrase that the statement was a ‘deliberate untruth’.
-I suggest that the honourable member for Dawson withdraw that statement.
– I withdraw that statement. The statement made by the honourable member for Kennedy was quite inaccurate.
– I rise to order. The honourable member for Dawson is now debating the matter.
-Order! I call the Leader of the Opposition.
– The honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) will now be able to cease criticising the Government for its inaction on this matter while he is in his electorate and will be able to cease condoning that inaction while in this Parliament. I had said earlier that this statement by the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) flowed directly as a result of the Capricornia by-election. In my Budget speech I pointed out that the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) had recently made his first visits to the Ord River and the Nogoa areas. He made those visits in May and June this year. Nothing was said in the Budget about either scheme. As far as the Government’s fiscal arrangements for this financial year were concerned, nothing was going to be done about the Ord River scheme or the Nogoa scheme. Apparently the same situation was to continue as had continued in the previous 4 financial years.
The first stage of the Ord River scheme was completed 4i years ago. The former Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, opened the first stage of the Ord 4i years ago. The honourable member for Stirling (Mr
Webb) quoted from the statement made by Sir Robert Menzies which indicated his dedication to a continuance of the Ord River scheme. But for 4i years no more action was taken by the Commonwealth. The present Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) visited the Ord this year. Presumably this was a follow-up to the investigations which the Government had asked the Western Australian Government to make. As recently as October last year the Holt Government had asked the Brand Government in Western Australia to investigate afresh the Ord River scheme. Imagine therefore our surprise, when, on 23rd August, the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard) asked the Prime Minister about the prospects for growing sorghum in Western Australia. The honourable member for Kalgoorlie had asked whether the Government was as enthusiastic about growing sorghum in Western Australia as it was about growing this crop in the Northern Territory. The Prime Minister said in his reply: 1 am not aware of any similar proposal - That is a proposal for growing sorghum, in contemplation for the Ord River project. Yet 12 months ago the Government had asked the Brand Government in Western Australia to have a fresh look at the prospects of growing cotton, sorghum and other things in the Ord area. These matters have been investigated for 20 years by the Kimberley Research Station. The Prime Minister visited the Ord earlier this year but apparently was not aware, as recently as 23rd August, that there was any proposal to grow sorghum in the Ord area. Increased prospects for growing sorghum in that area are now made the reasons for making a decision which has been deferred for 4i years.
– What about cotton?
– The operative crop in this case now is sorghum. The prospects of growing cotton in the Ord area have been known for years. The Minister for Primary Industry, who interjected, tells a different version about prospects for growing cotton in the Ord according to whether he is in that area or in the Namoi district. He said different things when he visited the Ord from what he said when he was in north western New South Wales. If the Minister for Primary Industry had been in the House at the time he would have noticed that appeals had been made to improve prospects for sorghum. The growth of this crop was one of the things at which the Holt Government, 12 months ago, asked the Brand Government to look afresh. The Prime Minister visited the Ord but in August he did not know that there was a proposal to grow sorghum in that area.
I now turn to the Nogoa Dam scheme. This too, Mr Deputy Speaker, has been before the Commonwealth Government for 41 years. Members of the Country Party, such as the honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Ian Allan), the honourable member for Moore (Mr Maisey), and members of the Opposition - the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti), the honourable member for Dawson, myself and others - consistently have asked questions about national development projects, and one project in particular. We have been fobbed off. We have been told either that no letter had gone to the Premiers of the States concerned or that the letters from the Premiers were confidential. We could never get any information in this Parliament about any developmental project requiring the cooperation of a State government.
Let me give the history of this Nogoa scheme in greater detail. On 8th November last year the Prime Minister proposed a national water conservation development programme involving an additional $50m over the next 5 years. He said in his speech:
One aspect of national development is vivid in our minds from the recent drought.. This is the conservation of that precious commodity - water.
We believe a programme of water conservation related to national needs should be drawn up by us with State governments.
Now’ is underlined in the official version of the Prime Minister’s policy speech. The policy speech had a note of urgency in it. The Prime Minister had in mind what were then quite recent floods. Since then there have been floods in northern Queensland - in one part of Queensland side by side with a continuing drought in another part - caused by lack of water control which would also alleviate drought.
What has happened until this day with the Prime Minister’s promise? We have certainly consistently raised the matter in the Parliament. Let me refer to some of the debates on matters of public urgency and the questions that have been asked by members of the Labor Party and, in some instances, by members of the Country Party. On 2nd March the honourable member for Dawson asked the Minister for National Development when the Government intended to start spending the promised $50m. The Minister replied:
A submission is being prepared at the present time and we hope to have some discussion in Cabinet on this matter in the near future.
On 4th April, a mere 5 months after the elections, the honourable member for Dawson asked a question, this time of the Leader of the Country Party (Mr McEwen), who was acting as Prime Minister in the absence of the Prime Minister overseas, and he replied:
The initiative rests with the State governments to make proposals to the Commonwealth.
– Is that wrong?
– 1 will show that it was an inaccurate statement. It happened that on the same day the honourable member for Gwydir received a written reply to a question he had put on the notice paper about the same programme. The Prime Minister’s written answer was:
The Government has not yet completed its consideration of the details of the proposed scheme. However, we expect to do so shortly and will then be in touch with the State governments about it.
The Leader of the Country Party said the States had to raise the matter; the Prime Minister said that the Commonwealth had not yet been in touch with the States about it. On 18th April I asked the Prime Minister to clarify the position in the light of the contradictory definition of responsibility which on the one hand he had given to the honourable member for Gwydir and which the Acting Prime Minister on the other hand had given to the honourable member for Dawson. The Prime Minister made the following reply: lt is my recollection that there has been correspondence between some of the Premiers and the Government on this matter. I shall try to get an authoritative statement for the honourable gentleman as promptly as I can. lt is not customary to make public any communications between the beads of State governments and the Commonwealth Government.
As I said earlier, the honourable member for Moore, the honourable member for Gwydir, the honourable member for Mac quarie, the honourable member for Dawson and myself regularly got this reply to fob us from inquiring into any proposal for national development. There is scarcely any such proposal which does not require collaboration between the Commonwealth and the States. Before the Commonwealth discusses a proposal with a State the Government claims that it cannot say anything about the matter until it has communicated with the State. After the State has been consulted the Government says it is unable to reveal the nature of the communication. So it is impossible to know or to debate proposals before they are made or after they have been made. Proposals can never be discussed because the Government says they are either premature or confidential.
On the same day that I asked the Prime Minister the question his reply to which I have quoted, the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) asked the Prime Minister whether the Commonwealth Government had received any applications from the States for water conservation assistance, and the Prime Minister replied:
I cannot say just what stage has been reached with each of the State governments, but it is our intention to make this arrangement effective as soon as possible.
When the Prime Minister gave these replies on 18th April to mc and to the honourable member for Mallee he had not yet written to any Premier about this matter. The honourable member for Mallee and I got written replies in July, and these are recorded in Hansard of Budget day. It appeared from those replies that the Prime Minister had only just written to the Premiers. In fact it turned out later, from a comment that the Minister for National Development made in a debate on a matter of public urgency raised by the. honourable member for Dawson, that the Prime Minister had not taken 8 months, as it appeared from his replies to the honourable member for Mallee and me, to write to the Premiers; he had taken only 6) months to write to the Premiers pursuant to a policy which he said the Government was going to act on ‘now’ - underlining the word ‘now’.
On’ 4th May the honourable member for Dawson raised as a matter of public urgency the need for a national water conservation and constructing authority. He urged a start on the Nogoa Dam project and criticised the Government for its failure to do anything to honour its election promise. The Minister for National Development said during that debate: 1 repeat that the Commonwealth will shortly make a decision in the light of every known factor.
It was not at this stage that the Minister said that the Prime Minister had not even written to the Premiers. On 4th May the Minister in debating a matter directly related to this national water resources development programme allowed honourable members to believe that the matter was already being discussed. The Prime Minister at that stage had not yet written to any Premier. Such is the veracity and capacity of the Prime Minister and those who follow him - those he favours as members of Cabinet.
The Nogoa scheme has been before the Commonwealth for over 4 years. It is easier to gain information on these matters in the Queensland Parliament than it is in this Parliament. Let me quote two replies that the Premier of Queensland gave to Mr O’Donnell, M.L.A. On 22nd February Mr O’Donnell asked:
The Premier gave this written reply:
The State’s detailed submission has been with the Commonwealth for some time. Inquiries made in Canberra last week revealed that Commonwealth investigation of the submission is proceeding but no indication can be given at this juncture as to when a decision will be made or the nature of it. I am in the course of writing to the Prime Minister asking that the matter be expedited as much as possible.
Mr O’Donnell put another question on the notice paper for the Premier in these terms:
On 22nd March Premier Nicklin gave the following written reply:
These written replies by the Premier of Queensland were made on 22nd February and 22nd March. They related to a policy announcement’ by the Prime Minister on 8th November last. The Prime Minister did not get round to writing to Premier Nicklin or any of the other Premiers till 6i months after his policy speech. He told me, in answer to a question that I had asked him this session and to which he gave me an answer on 19th September, that in fact he had received replies from all the Premiers by that time and clearly the Premiers had acted with despatch in this matter.
The Commonwealth did not intend to do anything at all about the policy promise of $50m for a water resources development programme in this financial year. The Treasurer who has visited both the Ord and the Nogoa did not mention these proposals or his reasons for leaving them out of his Budget for the whole of this financial year. The Prime Minister, who had visited the Ord, did not know that there were any proposals concerning the aspect of the scheme which has made a difference to this decision.
Before I sit down I want to refer to one modification that the Prime Minister has made in the national water resources development programme which he announced on 8th November. He mentioned in the letter he sent to the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) and to me that this programme would not cover water for electricity generation. There was no such exclusion in his policy speech. This was an afterthought and an unexpected restriction. It comes as a particular blow to Queensland which already has the most expensive electricity in Australia. Water is obviously required in Queensland if it is to have either thermal or hydro-electricity. This is an exclusion from the Prime Minister’s policy speech which he made on 8th November last. Queenslanders may well ask how long they must continue to be denied any assistance from the Commonwealth for the generation of electricity. The Commonwealth has assisted with the generation of electricity in Sydney and Melbourne through the Snowy Mountains scheme. It has given assistance in Tasmania through the Gordon River road. In South Australia it has given assistance through the Leigh Creek-Port Augusta standard gauge railway which is the heaviest rail track in Australia. The Commonwealth has assisted all of these States. Queensland had a reasonable expectation that it would receive some of this $50m for a water resources scheme which would be used for the generation of thermal or hydro-electricity. However, it has not. This is an exclusion subsequent to the election.
I repeat that if it had not been for the result of the Capricornia by-election and other public polls, the 4i-year application by WA for the Ord and the 44-year application by Queensland for the Nogoa would not have been dealt with at any time in this financial year. Provision for these projects was not included in the Budget. Right up until the eve of the Capricornia by-election in September the Prime Minister and his Ministers were still persisting in their attitude towards the Ord and the Nogoa. This by-election has shown that only when Queenslanders and Western Australians support the Labour Party will they get any assistance for the Commonwealth for water or any other development project.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I do not propose to occupy the time of the House to any great extent. I happened to hear what the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) said as I was working at my desk. I felt that I should make one or two comments on the statements that he has made. The honourable gentleman tends to judge everyone else by his own standards and believes that this is the course of conduct they pursue. If we were out to take some quick political trick as a result of the decision concerning the Nogoa Dam we would have done so before the Capricornia by-election and not at a time when this was just one of a host of matters which have been occupying the attention of the Government.
In regard to the Ord project, my colleague the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) will recall the discussions that he and I had with the Government of Western Australia when we were over there some time ago. We discussed the Ord situation on the spot with members of the Western Australian Government.
– That was a couple of months ago.
– Yes, it was a considerable time ago. My colleague will recall that at the time he referred to the fact that he would be getting a report into his Department in late October as to the experience of this particular season. We undertook to the Premier of Western Australia and his colleagues at that time that when we had that information before us we would be looking at this matter again. As a Commonwealth Government we have a great deal of business to consider. My colleague has been active in his own work as Minister for National Development. This matter came before us in the ordinary course of business and it was dealt with in the ordinary course of business. If the honourable gentleman feels that the government he would lead should conduct itself on the basis of where it was heading at the next election, he is welcome to try out that course. We have said, at every election in which I have been involved: This is not our complete programme. This is what we undertake to do, but you will find us doing more than we have undertaken to do.’ That is what this Government has done since the last election and it is what the Government will continue to do. We do not see policy making as just an electioneering device. We try to run this country in the most effective way we can. Judging by the situation the country is in, we have not been making too bad a job of it.
I came into the chamber only to make it quite clear that these matters have been dealt with in the ordinary course of business. At the time the Capricornia byelection was before us, consideration was being given to the Nogoa scheme. Of course it would have been opportune had we been able to conclude our consideration and make a public announcement then. That would undoubtedly have been to our electoral advantage. However, we try to behave a little more responsibly than that. We delayed our decision until we had before us the facts that would justify this considerable amount of public money.
– You waited 6i months to write to the Premiers.
– The Premiers knew what our policy was. They knew how the money was to be allocated. As my colleague can tell the honourable member, these matters are not just a question of formal communication from Prime Minister to Premier. Discussions have to take place at the departmental level or between the Minister and his opposite number, and then a formal exchange of correspondence can subsequently take place. The honourable member should not be naive, and he should not imagine that the rest of the community are as naive as he :s apparently projecting them to be on this occasion. If he is trying to make the allegation that we do not get on with the job, I say to him that this country is the admiration of almost every critical observer who comes here to study what is going on. We have one of the strongest economies and one of the highest growth rates in the world. Our credit standing internationally is as high as that of any other country. This state of affairs has not been achieved simply by sitting down and waiting for something to happen. It is the product of a brisk, energetic and capable Government. Australia is the beneficiary, and the standards of living of our people are proof of what we have been able to achieve.
But I have not come here to make an electioneering speech - I leave that to the honourable gentleman. I have spoken in this debate to point out that the two projects mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition have been under appropriate consideration at the departmental and ministerial level.
When we were in a position to make our decisions we made them. I know how disappointing it must be for honour., bic gentlemen opposite to find us once again making decisions that will promote the development of this nation and perhaps incidentally bring some acknowledgment favourable to this Government from those beneficially affected.
– Like the honourable member for Stirling (Mr Webb), I welcome this decision of the Government. I realise what it will mean to the nation, to the Ord River project itself and to the people in the north. I know what can be produced on the Ord. Though I welcome the decision, I certainly cannot agree with the honourable member for Perth (Mr Chaney) that we should congratulate the Government. In fact, I say we should condemn the Government for its delay in making the decision. We should also condemn it for another reason. We know that it never intended to proceed with the project unless it was forced to do so. That has happened now. The Government can .see that it can no. longer avoid providing finance for the project. The statement that has been made comes as no surprise. We have known all along that when the Government saw itself in election difficulties it would provide money for the Ord River project and the projects in Queensland. This has happened in the past and it is happening again now. It happened in 1961. In 1963, the Prime Minister at that time, Sir Robert Menzies, during a visit to the Ord River project proclaimed that it was such a great project that it must be pushed ahead with all speed. When the Government knew the result of the election that followed his announcement, it saw that there was no need to continue to hold this attitude towards the Ord.
I suggest to the honourable member for Perth that instead of congratulating the Government we should congratulate the people for making their attitude to the Ord River project and northern development generally known to the Government. The honourable member for Perth has suddenly become vocal on this subject and has put himself forward as a supporter of the scheme. The honourable member for Stirling expressed his surprise at this claim by the honourable member for Perth. Apparently the honourable member for Stirling had forgotten for the moment that just prior to the last election the Liberal Party in Western Australia instructed its candidates in that State to support the scheme. This instruction was given not because the Liberal Party wanted the project to go ahead but because it realised the political significance of the Ord and thought that it could win votes by supporting the project. That is why the honourable member for Perth now rises to his feet and says that he fully supports the scheme.
The honourable member for Perth claimed that this Government should be given credit for the standard gauge railway. All honourable members know that in 1949 the Labor Government had all the plans ready to proceed with the standard gauge line and to complete it at a much lower cost than this Government did. If honourable members are honest they will admit that the line was completed only because Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd came to the party and said that if there was no line there would be no steel industry in Western Australia. It put pressure on the Government to complete the line. The standard gauge line was provided not because the Government believed it was necessary but because pressure was placed on it.
What has been the position of the Ord River project? As I said earlier, Sir Robert Menzies said that it must be pushed ahead with all speed. Then suddenly we found that the Government was not satisfied, that it wanted further proof of the efficiency of the scheme and further knowledge of the area. It first claimed that it needed further knowledge of the weight of the cotton crop. Then it wanted to know whether the pests in the area could be controlled. After that it wanted to know whether the so3 would stand up to continuous cropping. What have we heard about these issues? Nothing in the statement suggests that the Government is satisfied with the control of pests. We know that farmers in the area have proved conclusively that they can control the pests, but there is nothing in the statement to show that the Government is satisfied on this point. There is nothing in the statement-
Motion (by Mir Snedden) put:
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
– by leave - I have the honour to table a report on the departure of migrants from Australia submitted to me by the Immigration Advisory Council. In the early part of last year, my predecessor charged the Advisory Council:
the rate of departure,
The Committee on Social Patterns, which undertook this inquiry in detail on behalf of the Advisory Council, furnished a progress report in October 1966. lt has now presented its final report. In doing so, it has stated that its further inquiries have not required any change in its assessment, made in its progress report, that the incidence of departures was of the order of from 9% to 16% of arrivals. Nor has it found any reason to change the opinion stated earlier that, in quantitative terms, this incidence should not be seen as a serious dissipation of the resources expended on immigration by the Australian Government. An immigration programme of the magnitude of that adopted by the Australian Government can clearly be regarded as successful, at least L, numerical terms, if 84% of the migrants it produces stay permanently in the adopted country.
The report shows that only rarely do migrant departures derive from single identifiable causes; while a single cause might precipitate the decision to depart and be seen by the individual as the reason for his going, the Committee concluded from the evidence it had received that departures generally result from a complex of causes. These causes often derive from the individual’s own personality as much as from the material circumstances that he has encountered in Australia.
The Committee has formulated and presented its conclusions and recommendations in a forthright and unequivocal way. I will study these carefully with a view to giving effect to them wherever this is possible and seems desirable. Not all the Committee’s recommendations however, refer to action that can be taken by the Department of Immigration; some of them relate to the need for action from other areas of government, by non-governmental organisations and by the community generally. The report, for example, draws special attention to the particularly difficult period experienced by many migrants about 5 or 6 months after arrival, when the excitement of a new environment has subsided and discouragement is most’ likely to be felt. I therefore commend this report to all those members of the community who have the welfare of migrants at heart, in the hope that they too will study it and give effect to its recommendations.
An interesting feature of the inquiry was a series of community consultations undertaken by the Committee in ali States. Those who took part in the consultations - many of them migrants themselves - were people who, because of first-hand experience, were in a position to offer informed opinions about the reasons why migrants depart from Australia. In the course of these consultations, discussion inevitably covered not only the difficulties of migrants who depart from Australia but also the difficulties of many migrants who do not do so. The views expressed by those who took part in those consultations will also be studied and weighed most carefully.
The Government is greatly indebted to the members of the Advisory Council, who themselves represent a cross-section of interests, from industrial, cultural and humanitarian viewpoints. The Committee in its report, acknowledges the help given to it by its consultants, and I should like to add also the thanks of the Government to these experts, whose knowledge and advice played such an important part in the Committee’s deliberations, and to the many members of the community who contributed to the value of this report through the consultations conducted by the Committee.
The presentation of this report is timely because the numbers of settlers departing from Australia have been increasing in the last two or three years and I know that this matter has been a matter of concern to my colleagues in this Parliament and to the public generally. I believe that the report makes an important contribution to our knowledge of what might be called the chemistry of migration, that it will lead to worthwhile improvements in our methods and thus to improvements in the experience of migrants coming to this country and that we will find its objective and constructive criticism of great benefit to the immigration programme. I present the following paper:
Immigration Advisory Council - Ministerial Statement, 1 November 1967- and move:
That the House take note of the paper.
I remind honourable members opposite that 1 have tabled this report of the Immigration Advisory Council. I shall certainly make copies available to members of the Opposition, and particularly the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron).
Debate (on motion by Mr Clyde Cameron) adjourned.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1967-68. Customs Tariff Bill (No. 3) 1967. Customs Tariff Bill (No. 4) 1967. Customs Tariff Bill (No. 5) 1967.
– I present the report of the Public Works Committee on the following proposed work:
Site preparation for future domestic terminal and additional road works in the north-west building area at Sydney airport.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– I present the report of the Public Works Committee on the following proposed work:
Development of airfield pavements and extensions to terminal building at Adelaide airport.
Ordered that the report be printed.
– I move:
Thai, in accordance with the provisions of lnc Public Works Committee Act 1913-1966, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the committee has duly reported to this House: Stokes Hill Power Station, Darwin - Stage 4 extension.
The proposal involves the provision of an additional 16 megawatt turbo-alternator, boiler plant, electrical equipment and fuel storage, together with other basic provisions for future development of the station. The estimated cost is $4,600,000. The Committee has reported favourably on the proposal and upon the concurrence of this House in this resolution detailed planning can proceed in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1966, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report: Proposed new Avionics Workshop at the Naval Air Station, H.M.A.S. ‘Albatross’, Nowra, N.S.W.
The proposal is to construct a single storey steel framed brick building to house facilities for servicing of electronic, electrical and instrument equipment for Royal Australian Navy aircraft. The estimated cost is $530,000. I table plans of the proposed work.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 26 October (vide page 2364), on motion by Mr Barnes:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, today is the twentieth anniversary of the
United Nations General Assembly giving its approval to the trusteeship agreement by Britain, New Zealand and Australia in respect of Nauru. Today represents the culmination of 20 years association between Australia, more than the other partners, and Nauru under the auspices of the United Nations. The subject of Nauru has been debated every year in the United Nations. It has been debated very rarely in the Australian Parliament. This Bill repeals the 1965 Act.
– lt is prospective.
– It provides for the repeal of the 1965 Act. Only two other Bills relating to Nauru have <been passed by this Parliament. The first was introduced in 1919 and the second in 1932. On the last occasion when this matter was before the House considerable debate extending over almost 4 hours took place. Those who took part in that debate, apart from the Minister for Territories (Mr Barnes) who has introduced this Bill, included the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley), the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay), myself, the honourable member for Bowman (Dr Gibbs), the honourable member for Batman (Mr Benson), the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) and the former member for Hughes, Mr L. R. Johnson, It will be seen that honourable members devoted quite considerable attention to the problems of Nauru and in particular to the explosive issues of national independence and natural resources.
I must confess that over the years I have taken a different view of the urgency or propriety of granting independence to our island territories from that expressed and taken by the Minister for Territories or, I apprehend, some of his advisers. I want to say on this occasion that I think that the result of the activities in the United Nations between the Nauruans and the trust partners over the intervening 2 years has been fruitful and beneficial. The Nauruans had asked for independence. They insisted on independence. They will receive independence. There are some hopeful signs indeed to their independence. While Nauru will be the smallest nation in the world its people enjoy the highest educational and health services in Oceania. Nauru has had a considerable history of effective local government. The Opposition supports the Bill and supports the arrangements that the Minister has announced. The Opposition hopes that the further arrangements where suggested come about.
It will be satisfying indeed if Australia’s 50 years of association with Nauru - the last 20 years being under the terms of United Nations trusteeship - come formally to an end on 30th January 1968, the day which Nauruans remember and celebrate as that upon which their people were reunited after their dispersion and occupation by the Japanese. The Opposition supports the Bill. Reading what I said on the second last day of the 1965 session, on 8th December 1965, I take some satisfaction from the attitude which my colleagues and I expressed on that occasion. We wish the people of Nauru every social, political and educational advantage in the future. We will be happy to reciprocate any arrangements which they seek with this country.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I think all members pf this House will join in wishing the Nauruan people good fortune and the best of luck in the path to nationhood that they have chosen. I do not think that any member of this House would disagree with this sentiment. If Australia can help, I am sure that Australian help will be given to Nauru in every way practicable. The Nauruan people have said that they wish to be completely independent of us in making their decisions about their own future. That is their attitude, and, as such, it must be respected. This House must endorse it. However I wish to say, very briefly to the House, something which I think is of greater importance. That is the position of Nauru for the future particularly with reference to the United Nations.
The United Nations, potentially at any rate, is the most important organisation in the world. If the world is to survive, either the United Nations or some organisation in its place must transcend in importance all national parliaments whether they be Australian, Nauruan, American, British or Indian. We need now some effective international organisation. I wonder whether the United Nations can be that when it is fragmented into the small parts and where the constituent members are so grossly disparate and unequal in size and resources as they are under our present arrangement. Nauru will be a country with a population, I think, of between 3,000 and 4,000. Nauru is to be independent. It is to become a member of the United Nations? I do not know whether that will happen. But the United Nations is being reduced to absurdity by the fact that nations, small in size, have the same kind of nominal voice at all events as the large nations. How can a country like India with a population of 470 million be held to be co-ordinate with a country like Nauru with a population under 4,000? The position is absurd. If we are to endorse this kind of absurd proposition, then we are rendering the United Nations impotent and useless because it will not gain respect.
The problem of the Nauruan people is important to them. But it is not so important to the rest of the world. What is important for the rest of the world is that the United Nations should be allowed to work. Let me ask the House - I leave aside Nauru as an example - how the United Nations can work when Africa, which now has a population of a little under 300 million, has 39 seats in the United Nations while India, which has a population of 470 million, has 1 seat in the United Nations? An African will have fifty times the voting weight of an Indian. Is there any reason for this? Is this the basis of a workable world system? I put it to the House that it is not.
It may be said that the small States in the United Nations become client States of the big nations, and that such a position becomes workable because the big nations are able to exercise their influence on the votes of the small nations. But I put it to the House that this is a very fallacious argument because if these equal votes are to be put up, as it were, to the highest auction bidder in the field of economic or other assistance, then you get the most illogical kind of division into blocks. You get in the United Nations all the undesirable, underground intrigues which will destroy that body. I put it to the House that this question is brought into focus now by the Nauruan situation.
Here is a country of under 4,000 people. Here is a country which will be independent. Since it is going to be independent, is it going to be a member of the United Nations or not? If it is to be a member of the United Nations, there is no provision in the charter except for it to come in with one vote and have the same weight in the United Nations as India. This kind of absurdity means that the United Nations is an unworkable body. Many people will say that this does not matter. What does it matter that the United Nations is unworkable? If it were not for the necessity of world wide disarmament, that would be a tenable hypothesis. But in our present position where we must have some kind of workable international organisation with authority, it is a tragedy, if the statute of the one organisation - the United Nations - which occupies this ground is such as to lead to this kind of absurdity with all the things that flow from it. Having said that, let me repeat that everybody in this House will wish the Nauruans all good fortune in the path that they have chosen for themselves.
– I wish to join with those who have spoken before me in this debate in wishing the Nauruan people well as they assume the responsibility df independence. This is, of course, Australia’s first experience in seeing a Territory which is under Australian authority carried through to independence. The occasion is historic for Nauru. It is also historic for Australia. As honourable members will know, I have been associated with the Minister for Territories (Mr Barnes) recently in the negotiations that have taken place between the partner Governments - the United Kingdom Government, the New Zealand Government and the Australian Government - and a delegation from Nauru. These negotiations have been the climax to a series of discussions which have extended over several years.
In the course of these discussions a variety of proposals has been put forward in an effort to meet the problems of these particular people. They are in a small country with a very specialised economy in a disturbed world. In the view of the Australian Government, as of the other partner Governments, the proposals which were put forward - one of which was that Australia should retain some control over the questions of external affairs and defence - were worthy of consideration. They were put forward as much in the interests of the people of Nauru as of the people of Australia and other people in the Pacific area. They were, in fact, given consideration in a spirit of utmost cordiality. But for one reason or another they did not meet the aspirations of the Nauruan people, and now that complete independence is to be the solution, with the full agreement of the partner Governments I welcome it and extend best wishes to those who will have the responsibilities of government in the new republic.
The honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) has made a point based upon some conjecture that the people of Nauru, once they have achieved independence, may seek membership of the United Nations. Of course, if they did and if they were admitted, they would have one vote, as Australia has in the United’ Nations or as India has, as was mentioned by the honourable member. However, I think I might mention that in the course of the discussions and negotiations the representatives of the Nauruan people did say to us that they did not intend to apply for membership of the United Nations. This is not to say that they would not wish to belong to the various organisations of the United Nations. This is not to say that they would not apply for membership of the British Commonwealth of Nations. Of course, whether they are admitted to that body depends upon not only Australia but the other members of the British Commonwealth.
The Bill before the House is a short measure to provide for the convoking of a constitutional convention in Nauru and to terminate Australia’s administration of the island of Nauru. From the date to be proclaimed the convention will terminate the application of Australian law on the island. This will take place on what will be called Nauru’s Independence Day. The Australian Government has offered to provide assistance to the Nauruans in the preparation of a draft constitution for submission to the constitutional convention. The Nauruan delegation has accepted this offer. Officers of the Department of Territories and of my own Department have been working on these constitutional proposals.
The preparation of the constitution is only one aspect of the establishment of an ordinary system of government in the new republic, as they wish it to be. It provides merely a framework of government. A legislature will have to be elected, a public service will have to be established and a judicial system will have to be instituted. These are just three matters I mention. I know that everybody, particularly the officials who are concerned in this project with the Nauruans, is working hard to ensure that these essential matters are attended to. The Government will be happy if Nauru’s close and friendly relations with Australia continue in the future after its independence. For its part, it will consider sympathetically any requests that the future government of Nauru may make to it for advice or for future co-operation.
I mention one suggestion that has been put forward and that concerns my own field of ministerial responsibility. I refer to the suggestion that has been made in the course of negotiations that the High Court of Australia might continue to hear appeals from, the supreme court of an independent Nauru. The Nauruan delegation has been told that if this is the wish of the people of Nauru the Government will be pleased to give consideration to it. Australia will shortly be handing over the responsibilities for the administration of Nauru which is has exercised on behalf of the three partner Governments over a period of nearly 50 years. It is the Government’s firm hope that the future will show that a sound basis has been provided, during the periods of mandate and trusteeship, for the building up of a democratic institution in the new republic, and that the constitution, on which at their request we are lending them assistance, will be a sound constitution. In a sense, the Nauruan republic will be the product of not only their own efforts but of our efforts too. I join with other speakers in wishing Nauru and its people well.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Barnes) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 19th October (vide page 2069), on motion by Mr Freeth:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
- Mr Speaker, the purpose of this Bill is to increase the pensions payable under the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Act to correspond with increases in benefits granted under the terms of the recent Repatriation Bill. The Opposition does not oppose this measure. The weekly pension for the first child of a deceased mariner will rise by 50c to $4.40. The rate for the second and subsequent children will rise by 50c to $3.25 a week. These are the rates where one of the parents is dead. Where both parents are dead, the weekly pension will rise by $1 to $8.15 for each child. The Bill provides also for several other useful and important amendments of the principal Act, and the Opposition agrees that they are desirable. Under the terms of this measure, the dependants of a totally and permanently incapacitated ex-mariner who dies from a cause other than his war caused disabilities will be entitled to receive a rate equivalent to that paid under the repatriation legislation. This will correct an obvious anomaly and the Opposition gives this proposal its full support. 1 believe that the Government and the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Freeth) have adopted the correct attitude. This measure will bring the provisions in the principal Act into line with provisions that have been in the Repatriation Act since its inception. Another useful provision in this measure will allow the payment of travelling expenses in respect of the dependants of deceased ex-mariner pensioners when required to attend hospital for medical treatment provided under the Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Regulations. This is in line with the Repatriation Act.
There is not much else that I want to say about this Bill. On another occasion, when the Repatriation Bill was before us, I discussed the general rates of benefits paid to ex-servicemen. What I said then applies equally to ex-mariners. Subsequent to the consideration of that measure, I raised for discussion as a matter of urgency the inadequacy of repatriation benefits being paid and expressed the dissatisfaction of honourable members on this side of the House at those rates. As the Minister for Works (Mr Kelly), who is now at the table, will be aware, the National Congress of the Returned Services League of Australia also has expressed its dissatisfaction at the existing rates. Having made those observations, Sir, let me say that the Opposition welcomes this Bill and supports the increases in pensions and benefits for which it provides.
Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Kelly) read a third time.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) - by leave - agreed to:
That Government business shall take precedence over general business tomorrow.
Debate resumed from 19 October (vide page 2070), on motion by Dr Forbes:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
- Mr Speaker, it should not take the House long to pass this Bill. When the Government stated its general policy on the establishment of colleges of advanced education, it declared that it would provide financial assistance for residential accommodation at those colleges in a manner similar to that in which financial assistance has been provided for accommodation at universities. It said that the Commonwealth would match funds provided by sources other than the States - that is, funds provided by private donations - on a $1 for $1 basis. However, when this provision was made in the principal Act, no machinery was established for the purpose of making this assistance possible. Apparently. this was because no proposals had come forward for the raising of funds from private sources for residential accommodation. However, the provision was there and ft now seems that in Queensland two proposals have been advanced for new colleges at Rockhampton and Toowoomba. It is the Government’s policy to encourage the establishment of these colleges, and therefore it proposes now to make these grants available for them. The Bill requires the States to match privately raised funds. So, for every $1 raised privately, the State will contribute $1 and the Commonwealth $2.
I do not intend to say a great deal about this measure. So far, the Opposition has supported the principle involved in the establishment of these tertiary colleges, though we on this side of the Parliament have expressed substantial reservations about them. It is believed - and confirmed by. experts - that it is desirable to have some kind of tertiary education institution geared to vocational training, but different from the universities. This may very well be valid, but so far we have not been able to see what form this development will take. We in the Opposition have considerable reservations about it. At the very most, we say that we have an open mind on the question and will observe developments to see what happens. But we have stressed on a number of occasions in this House - and I do not intend to do more than simply refer to it again in the case of this amending Bill - that these colleges can very well become a substitute for universities for students who, because of the inadequacy of funds provided for universities, and therefore because of the inadequate number of vacancies, are unable to get places in universities. They can be diverted away to a form of tertiary education which is inferior to university education although they are qualified for a university education if it were available to them. There is a danger of this. At the same time, the Opposition has no wish to deprive the financially betteroff students who are able to attend the colleges of the advantages of a better education. We cannot allow this action to pass any more than we have allowed any other similar action to pass, without pointing out that governments in Australia, Commonwealth and State, have not lived up to their responsibilities to provide assistance for poorer people, particularly in primary, and to some extent in secondary, schools. The Commonwealth Government cannot say that the answer to this is that it is not responsible for primary education. It has responsibility for anything to achieve which it can make a grant to the States. With these reservations, the Opposition supports the first part of this Bill.
The second purpose of the Bill is to make adjustments in the building programmes for the School of Mines and Industries at Ballarat, the Bendigo Institute of Technology and the Queensland Institute of Technology in Brisbane. These adjustments are being made as a result of the requests of the States concerned. It appears that the adjustments are a necessary provision to meet new circumstances. It appears that the acquisition of a new site in Ballarat has brought about the need for a different kind of development programme. A new site is also being developed in Bendigo. This change is in order to allow this development to proceed. The Minister representing the Miinster for Education and Science (Dr Forbes) informed us that in the case of Brisbane the revised programme is for the purpose of providing for the completion of the two buildings that were started under the interim grant arrangements and takes into account these revised principles. That is the substance of the Bill and the Opposition supports it.
I want to say one further thing only on the Bill, and that as a passing reference. I refer to section 5 of the State Grants (Advanced Education) Act 1967, of which this Bill is an amendment. When this Act was passed the Opposition had little to say about section 5. I regret that that happened, because the Opposition should have noticed the provisions of section 5. I do so how. Section 5 is in a sense the foundation for ministerial power in relation to these colleges. On the one hand the colleges are regarded as autonomous and on the other the Minister has very extensive powers in relation to their operation. Section 5 (1 .) says:
For the purposes of this Act, the Minister may -
approve courses of study and proposed courses of study in respect of a college of advanced education;
approve, in respect of a college of advanced education specified in the Second Schedule, particulars of a project specified in the second column of that Schedule;
approve, in respect of a college of advanced education specified in the Second Schedule, projects additional to those specified in that Schedule, being projects consisting of the purchase of land with or without buildings, and approve particulars, including the estimated cost, of each project so approved; and
approve, in respect of a college of advanced education, proposed library material, and may revoke or vary any such approval.
Section 5, sub-section (1.), provides very extensive powers for the Minister. One of the things that those concerned with education over the centuries have been careful about is the maintenance of as much independence as possible. What the Government has been writing into Acts - it is being written into this one and it is to be written into one that we will be dealing with later - is very extensive powers for the Minister concerned. I would like all those involved outside the House to know that we in the Opposition are concerned about the way in which this is working. Has the matter gone far enough for those who are concerned with this conjunction of powers to know how it is working out7 Are they happy about the role the Minister may be playing in respect to this? Do they feel any restrictions or any inhibitions because the Minister’s powers, as I mentioned, are very detailed and very considerable? He can approve the course of study, the particulars of a project, the plans for building and proposed library material. If a college wants to buy a book it would appear that the Minister can exercise his power in respect of that. For a Liberal Government this seems to be a very extensive range of ministerial power.
As I said, the Opposition did not have much to say about the previous measure before it became an Act, but we want to know if we can be told at this stage - it will not be long, I should think, before we can find out for ourselves - how this is working. We do stress at this stage the significance of the ministerial powers in relation to these colleges which the Government has chosen to write into the legislation. With those various reservations, the Opposition supports the Bill. I have nothing further to say at this stage.
– I support this Bill which, as the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) has said, is really only an honouring of the
Government’s obligations concerning the grants made prior to the last triennium, which ended on 31st December 1966. As the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science (Dr Forbes) mentioned in his second reading speech, this Bill has two main purposes. The first purpose is to enable the Commonwealth Government to match privately raised subscriptions for the provision of residential accommodation at colleges of advanced education. I do not agree with the point put forward by the honourable member for Yarra when he said that he had reservations about studying part time in this sort of accommodation. However, this is only a matter of opinion.
The second purpose of the Bill is to enable adjustments to be made to the building programmes at various schools of mines and technology at the request of the States concerned. These adjustments are part of a necessary revision programme to meet new and changed circumstances. You may recall, Mr Deputy Speaker, that the Government announced that it was prepared to provide finance for residential accommodation at colleges of advanced education in much the same way as it does in the case of universities. Subject to certain conditions, the Commonwealth matches on a $1 for $1 basis the funds raised for this purpose at these private institutions.
Because of the position at the time, no machinery was written into the principal Act last year to make this form of assistance possible for these colleges. At that time the Government had not received any proposals in that triennium for privately raised subscriptions for the construction of residential accommodation. This Bill will enable the Government to match on a SI for $1 basis the funds raised privately for residential accommodation. Because of this provision, the Bill is more in the nature of a machinery measure than anything else. It is not the result of a major announcement of government policy. However it is encouraging to note that private individuals or organisations can be assured that funds raised for the provision of residential accommodation at colleges of advanced education - which should not be confused with the university colleges I mentioned before - will be matched equally by the Government. This is a further step forward in the provision of better educational facilities for’ the benefit of the Australian public. I support the Bill without qualification.
Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time. Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Dr Forbes) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 19 October (vide page 2071), on motion by Dr Forbes:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Government has adopted a method of financing Australian universities on a 3-year basis called a triennium. The universities (Financial Assistance) Act 1963-66 provided grants to the States for universities for the triennium 1964-66. Provision was made in that Act for building programmes at the universities. Funds were to be provided up to 31st December 1966. However, it appears that plans or arrangements for a number of building projects to provide student residences were protracted. This was unexpected. It was not possible, it appears, to commence these buildings during the triennium which ended on 31st December 1966. Therefore this Bill has been introduced to give authority for the payment of the amounts decided upon in the Act for that triennium. It will provide authority for these amounts to be paid after 31st December 1966.
The amounts for the various residential colleges at universities are set out in the Schedule to the Bill. The funds will be paid to the following residences: The Saint John’s College at the University of Sydney; International House and the Anglican Men’s College at the University of New South Wales; Ormond College at the University of Melbourne; the Saint Thomas More College at the University of Western Australia; Hytten Hall at the University of Tasmania; and the Mary White College at the University of New England.
As I said about the previous Bill, the Opposition has had reservations about these developments in education. The students who are able to attend these colleges are, on the whole, in a better financial position than a good many other students seeking education in this country. The Opposition is concerned at the extent to which public funds are being diverted up the scale of educational opportunity. Whilst we would like to see students get the advantage of the best possible education, no matter what their income or how high up the educational scale they might be, we believe that the Government is proving somewhat more liberal in the higher ranges of education. It has accepted the kind of Commonwealth responsibility appropriate for this section of education; but if it so desires it can easily accept also the responsibility to provide assistance to students whose income is not nearly so good. With these reservations the Opposition approves the passage of this Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Dr Forbes) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 31 October (vide page 2471), on motion by Dr Forbes:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill does something which, for 10 or 12 years in my life, I would have been very happy to see done. It provides funds to increase the salaries of members of university staffs.
– What about the salaries of members of Parliament?
– I would like to include what the Minister for Health just said in my remarks about university salaries. These salaries, from about the minimum range of a lecturer, will now be in excess of the salaries paid to members of the
National Parliament. I was at the top of the senior lecturer range 15 years ago.
– Does the honourable member want a salary rise before the pensioners get one?
– No, not before the pensioners get a rise; but 1 say objectively that members of the National Parliament, as I know them, are underpaid. The purpose of this Bill is to provide additional grants to meet the Commonwealth contribution required as the result of higher salary levels as from 1st July. I should like to know, because the information is not contained in the Minister’s speech, how these salary ranges were determined. Were they determined by the Universities Commission? Was there an inquiry? Who decided on these rates? The Bill proposes to increase the salary of a professor from $10,400 to $12,000; for an associate professor or reader from $8,600 to $9,900; and for a senior lecturer, from $7,600 to $8,750. In the recent past a lecturer has had a single salary rate of $4,800. The Bill provides for a minimum salary of $5,400 and a maximum of $7,300. These increases are pleasing and justified, and the Opposition supports them.
The only other change made by the Bill follows a request by Macquarie University and the Government of New South Wales for an additional $81,000 of Commonwealth assistance in 1967. This, of course, is subject to the availability of additional funds from fees and from State contributions. However, neither the Bill nor the Minister’s speech indicates the purpose for which the $81,000 is required but it is intended that there will be a consequential reduction in the total sum available in 1968-69, so apparently this will be in effect a payment in advance to Macquarie University. The adjustment has been recommended by the Universities Commission following a review by Macquarie University of its spread of expenditure over the whole triennium. When a university is being established it is reasonable to expect such an adjustment, although the specific reason for it is not indicated. The Opposition supports the Bill and is pleased to see it get a speedy passage through the House.
– I will not delay the House long. I rose only to reply to the specific point on which the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) sought information. He asked how the level of salaries was determined. As I understand it, the Australian Universities Commission was the principal party and it consulted with all other interested bodies, including universities, university staffs associations and State governments.
Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time. Message from Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Dr Forbes) read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 6.26 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 31st October (vide page 2470), on motion by Mr Snedden:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Stevedoring Industry (Temporary Provisions) Bill, the Stevedoring Industry Charge Bill (No. 2) and the Stevedoring Industry Charge Assessment Bill were introduced into this House late last night. We are expected to debate the measure now before us with a few hours’ notice. On behalf of the Opposition I raise my voice in protest against the shortness of the period that we have been allowed to consider this measure. The National Stevedoring Industry Conference report was available in April 1967. It has taken the Government 7 months to introduce this legislation and it gives us about 22 hours to examine it, discuss it with the responsible unions and the Australian Council of Trade Unions and then come into this chamber to debate it. This is legislation by exhaustion and the Government stands condemned for using such methods.
I want to protest also about the regulation making power contained in the Bill. The subjects upon which regulations can be made are set out in clause 8 of the
Bill. It is a very extensive power. In his second reading speech the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) admits that this is an unusual provision. As a matter of fact the Minister had to go back to 1945 - a war year - to find a similar provision included in the Re-establishment and Employment Act. Surely there is no comparison between present day conditions and the emergency of war which of course justified the provision at that time. It is not justified in the period through which we are passing at present. I ask the Minister to advise the House whether these regulations will be tabled in the usual way and whether this Parliament will have the right to disallow them. As honourable members know, the Parliament is given a certain period in which to examine a regulation. If there is some feature of a regulation that is doubtful, a motion of disallowance can be moved and debated in this Parliament. We discussed such a motion only last week. There are two more such motions on the notice paper to be discussed, possibly within the next few days. As far as we can see, the regulations to be made under this Act will not be tabled and we will not have the opportunity of debating them. I know that the regulations will be only in operation until 1970 while this machinery is working. However, this seems to me to be an extraordinary power to give to the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority.
In clause 8 (2.) the Bill confers power on the Authority to do certain things. Whatever power is conferred on the Authority, I suggest that it should at least be limited to the terms decided upon by the National Stevedoring Industry Conference. It has always been recognised that the waterfront industry is a turbulent industry. This applies not only in Australia but also in the United Kingdom, the United States of America and other countries. Committees of inquiry have been set up in some of these countries to investigate the causes of the grave discontent that exists on the waterfront. For instance, in August 1965 the Devlin Committee brought down an extensive report dealing with the waterfront industry in the United Kingdom. That committee realised it was useless to adopt harsh measures. It also found it was useless to attack the Dockers Union on what was happening on the waterfront. It found that dockers were more strike prone than ordinary workers because of the casual nature of their work and the conditions under which they work. The British Government appointed the Devlin Committee; it did not use the big stick. It did not make a vicious attack on the Dockers Union and its leaders. It did not introduce legislation at the whim of the employers providing for harsh and vicious penalties such as were provided by this Government in the Stevedoring Industry Bill 1965. That was the most vicious piece of legislation ever to be placed on the statute books of this country. It went even further in its attack on the watersiders than the penal provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
When introducing this Bill, the Minister claimed that since the legislation was enacted in 1965 there had been peace on the waterfront. This is true enough but the reason for peace on the waterfront was the action of the Government in setting up the National Stevedoring Industry Conference under the chairmanship of Mr A. E. Woodward, Q.C. This Conference, like the Devlin Committee, got down to solving the real causes of the discontent on the waterfront. The National Stevedoring Industry Conference has shown that the turbulence in the stevedoring industry can be prevented if the Government and the parties concerned are prepared to confer and to get to the root of the problems that face the industry. Some of the problems facing the waterfront were clearly discernible years before the Government acted. I refer to problems such as mechanisation, the impact of automation and the question of a pensions scheme. These problems have now been faced up to.
A few years ago a Minister referred to the waterfront as ‘the weeping ulcer of the Australian economy’. Let us hope that the ulcer has now healed and that the scar will gradually fade away. In a Press release on 13th April 1967, the Minister said:
The Conference had made industrial history. Never before had it proved possible for all the parties directly concerned in the stevedoring industry to find agreement on such broad ranging issues of such great importance. What was more, during the course of the Conference, the stevedoring industry had experienced unparalled freedom from industrial stoppages. This whole episode has surely disposed once and for all and in the clearest possible way of the old notion that used to be so freely canvassed that industrial trouble was inseparable from the stevedoring industry.
We can wholeheartedly agree with this. However, it took the ACTU and the Australian Labor Party a long time to convince the Government that this could be achieved. The ACTU was persistent in its call for an all-in conference. Finally the Government agreed and as a result the National Stevedoring Industry Conference was set up in October 1965. There is much more to be done. Australia’s ports and the equipment at those ports are very much out of date. The Government does not seem to be doing much about this. In 1965 we proposed that arrangements should be made with the States for joint Commonwealth-State provision and operation of wharf facilities and equipment. We also asked for public enterprise to be established and extended in the stevedoring industry. We believe that this would be a step in the direction of the nationalisation of the stevedoring industry. The view on this side of the House is that nationalisation of the waterfront industry is the only ultimate solution of its total problems. Nationalisation would produce a better organisation of the total work force. Stevedoring operations would be organised on the basis of all ports being regarded as an interlocking pattern.
The Commonwealth Government’s participation in this field would also naturally lead to a more basic consideration of the need for the ports to modernise where required and to be kept abreast of technological developments necessary to maintain them at completely modern standards. In announcing the establishment of the National Stevedoring Industry Conference in October 1965, the then Prime Minister said:
This morning I informed Mr Monk, President of the ACTU that the Government agreed with his proposal for a Conference whose objectives would be the long-term improvement of conditions in the stevedoring industry. Participants in the Conference should be the ACTU, WWF, employers, ASIA and the Department of Labour and National Service.
The Conference will decide its own agenda and the procedures to be followed. However, the general charter for the Conference will be to deal with those matters relating to the WWF which were raised by the employers and the WWF during the conferences between them which broke down in May and also the matters raised by the Federation on 30th’ Jury. The matters dealt with by the recent legislation, political problems such as the nationalisation of the industry, and the modernisation of ports will be excluded from the Conference consideration.
It will be noted that, leaving aside the question of the nationalisation of the industry the modernisation of ports was excluded from the conference consideration. It is a great Pity that this was excluded. Sir Alan Westerman directed attention to the deficiencies of Australian ports. The ‘Australian’ of 16th July 1965, under the heading ‘Trade Head Appeals for Port Shake Up’, reported: The permanent secretary of the Department of Trade, Sir Alan Westerman, yesterday criticised facilities for cargo-handling in Australian ports. He suggested a co-ordinating body to improve port facilities to a symposium of the Australian National Committee of the International Cargo Handling Co-ordination Association in Sydney.
Sir Alan said there had been no effort ‘in existence or even contemplated’ to overcome the difficulties in Australian ports.
A co-ordinated approach by people involved in overseas trade was a practical starting point for overcoming high transport and freight costs.
It is as ludicrous to think that the complete . solution rests with the waterside workers or the port authorities as it is to think that the ship owners or the shippers can go it alone’, he said.
As Secretary to the Department of Trade and Industry, he is acutely aware of the deficiencies of our ports and the serious effect this has on our national economy. He laid special emphasis on the outdated facilities, the antique wharves and sheds and the lack of co-ordination, all of which contribute to Australia’s enormous freight bill of more than $600m a year. Mr. S. V. Jones, President of the Australian Chamber of Shipping said that 40% of the time of cargo vessels spent in Australia was wasted. The cost of the wastage alone was estimated at more than Si 6m a year. They are very important statements; the Government should be thinking about them and taking action on the lines suggested. Mr Henry Basten reported on wharf and port facilities as far back as January 1952. In November 1965, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) asked:
What department, authority, board, commission or trust controls each port in Australia?
The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Freeth) gave a list of the controlling bodies in the principal ports of Australia. The list showed that there were thirty-eight controlling bodies in the principal ports. That seems to’ be an excessive number of controlling bodies if we are to have an efficient waterfront.
The National Stevedoring Industry Conference will continue in existence for some time yet. This is shown by the report that has already been submitted. Its terms of reference, in my view and in the view of honourable members on this side of the House, should be extended to include the modernisation of our ports. Everyone appreciates the excellent job that Mr Woodward has done as Chairman of the Conference. He has made a thorough study of stevedoring operations. I have no doubt that, given the opportunity, he could make far-reaching recommendations which would revolutionise the equipment and facilities on our wharves. 1 repeat that stevedoring operations should be organised on the basis that all ports interlock in a pattern. Public enterprise should be established and extended to the stevedoring industry and there should be joint Commonwealth and State provision and operation of wharves and equipment.
The report of the National Stevedoring Industry Conference was made available in April 1967. It is a very valuable document. Paragraphs 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 contain some very important expressions of opinion. The report shows that there was a lot of give and take and that all parties were determined to deal with the problems of the waterfront in a spirit of co-operation. It shows what can be done by conciliation and justifies the request of the Australian Council of Trade Unions for an all in conference to review the factors causing conflict on the waterfront. The report emphasises in paragraph 10 that this is a package deal. It states:
It is not open to any party to reject one subject of agreement and expect to hold other parties to the balance of the agreement.
In paragraph 13 the report recognised that many of the troubles that have dogged the industry in the past have arisen from the casual nature of waterfront employment. Paragraph 15 states:
The need for both better industrial relations and for the efficient introduction of new handling techniques gave incentive to the search for a practical scheme of permanent employment.
Paragraphs 19 and 20 outline the scheme that was agreed upon by the Conference. Paragraph 19 states:
The scheme for permanent employment which the Conference has agreed to involves weekly hire for all regular waterside workers in major ports. This will be extended to as many ports as possible.
Later in the same paragraph the following statement appears:
The Conference anticipated when appropriate ports are determined they will represent approximately 90% of the total man hours worked by registered waterside workers. Hie figure could well be higher.
From the Minister’s second reading speech I understand that it is to extend to the six principal ports at present. Paragraph 20 deals with the weekly hire of operational stevedores at the outset of the scheme. It states that the proportion will later increase, t goes on:
The remainder wilt have weekly hire with a representative employer-operated Holding Company which will then make them available for particular jobs with operational stevedores. There will be built-in safeguards to ensure generally comparable earnings between Holding Company employees on the one hand and operational employees on the other. The Conference believes it is more important to avoid any suggestion of different classes of labour on the waterfront.
In his report on the stevedoring industry, Judge Foster stated that the stevedoring industry singles itself out for special consideration in many ways. He outlined these ways and then said this about the casual nature of the work:
Employment is subject to grave fluctuation, periodical, seasonal and intermittent. Yet it demands the continuous existence of a reservoir of labour, withdrawals from which vary according to these fluctuations.
The casual nature of the work calls for special consideration by the Government at whose hands alone perhaps some of the organising problems are soluble.
That report was made over 22 years ago and only now are we getting action to decasualise the waterfront industry. At long last, 22 years after Judge Foster’s report, the Government has come to grips with the problem of casual employment on the waterfront. All parties to the National Stevedoring Industry Conference deserve the greatest praise for their achievements.
But as usually happens, in solving one problem others have been created. We must be concerned with the other workers who could be adversely affected by this legislation, which implements the recommendations of the Conference. I refer to employees of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, about which I will say something a little later. Paragraph 22 of the report of the Conference deals with holding company employment, lt points out that all workers will not have all the benefits of operational employees but all will still have advantages over the present system of casual employment. Their labour will be hired out to operational stevedores on a short-term basis. However, they will get a weekly wage, and built-in safeguards are suggested to ensure that earnings of employees of the holding company and of operational companies will be generally comparable. Paragraph 67, which I shall quote in detail, sets out the functions of the holding company. There will still be some ports at which casual employees will be engaged. This report deals with the problem in paragraphs 63, 64 and 65. It was stated that the Conference found it impossible to make any decisions as to the situation that would apply in some casual employment ports. Paragraph 64 reads:
Matters to be considered will include the practicability of introducing a greater element of security than exists at present into work at such ports, complementary redundancy arrangements, and the correct relationship between the weekly wage at permanent ports and the hourly rate at casual ports.
Then paragraph 65 says:
In the meantime there will be no change from the present position at such ports, except for the introduction of the Pensions Scheme at ‘A’ Class ports.
It can be seen that many problems still remain to be solved by the National Stevedoring Industry Conference, and it is heartening to know that the Conference will carry on and try to deal with these problems. The Conference agreed upon a pension scheme for regular workers in ‘A* class ports. There will be a sliding scale of contributions based on a 60/40 ratio of contributions by employer and employee respectively.
The second part of the scheme will provide benefits for past service, and this will be paid for by the employers. These benefits will be paid on death, total disablement, redundancy or retirement, at the rate of $50 for each year of service between 1942 and the commencement of the scheme. Paragraph 103 of the report states:
The lump sum benefit in the case of the average worker who spends most of his life in the industry will ultimately be of the order of $8,000. This will be capable of conversion at the option of the retiring member to provide a weekly pension of about $14 per week or a lesser amount wilh provision for a reversionary widow’s pension.
The amount of $14 apparently was based on the allowable income of a pensioner couple, which has now been increased to $17. The pension scheme was a big step forward. Since 1941 the Federation has been trying to institute an industry pension scheme, and pressure for it mounted when such a scheme was introduced in the coal mining industry in 1942. The scheme is welcomed for the following reasons: Firstly, because of the inroads that have been made into the industry by mechanisation; secondly, because the average age of waterside workers has been increasing from year to year; thirdly, because the Government’s 1961 legislation provided, for the first time, for compulsory retirement of waterside workers, and at the same time introduced a more rigid system of medical examination, particularly in the older age groups, which had the effect of forcing men to leave the industry.
The report points out that redundancy was a most difficult problem to deal with. In paragraph 112 it has this to say:
The Conference believes that much of the problem will be met by natural wastage and a lowering of the retirement age from 70 to 65. However it seems likely that some compulsory retrenchment will become necessary in some permanent employment ports and the Conference planning has been on the basis that these retrenchments could involve significant numbers of workers.
Then the following paragraph, 113, says:
Certainly retrenchments would be necessary in some ports before they could become permanent employment ports. It is agreed that the arrangements set out in Appendix O, with necessary adjustments, will apply in such cases.
Appendix G outlines a scheme to deal with the problem of redundancy. It is contained in this document, and I do not propose to say more than that in ‘A’ class ports the retirement age will be reduced to 69 years upon the introduction of permanency and pension schemes. The retiring age will be reduced to 67 one year later, and to 65 after a further year. Provision is made for a redundancy situation in which a man transfers to another port; in such a case he is allowed fares, travelling allowance and removal costs. There are other important provisions on which time does not allow a thorough debate. The importance of the redundancy provisions stems from the way in which technological changes have been taking place in this industry. Automation has had a most’ marked effect. These redundancy provisions provide a good example, 1 think, of what should be done in respect of other industries in which automation is rearing its head.
Appendix H deals with an agreement to establish Industrial Relations Committees. Paragraph 1 of this appendix says:
The parties shall establish and maintain during the life of this agreement, Industrial Relations Committees in each port of Australia in which there is a Branch of the Waterside Workers’ Federation of Australia.
This is an excellent provision which should assist in preserving good industrial relations. There is also a recognition of the right to strike because of unreasonable instructions. Sub-paragraph (i) says:
Insofar as the Award recognises the right of workers to refuse to obey an unreasonable instruction, work should stop only if reasonable men could not be expected to obey the instruction that has been given. Work should not stop just because workers disagree with the instruction. If it would be reasonable for them to continue work even though they disagree with the instruction they should-
Then it sets out certain courses of action that should be followed before a stoppage takes place. But the important point is that the document recognises the right to stop work. Under the able and sympathetic chairmanship of Mr Woodward the parties to the National Stevedoring Industry Conference have achieved a great measure of agreement. The matters contained in the report of the Conference affect mainly the Waterside Workers’ Federation, but there are other groups of workers who are likely to be affected by the proposals of the Conference. Employees of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority will be affected. The employment and rights of these employees must be protected. lt is suggested that the permanency scheme will be given a trial for a period of 2 years. If this is so some endeavour should be made to conserve trained specialist staff. The ultimate role of the Authority is to be examined after 2 or 3 years, and the Bill itself provides for the legislation not to remain in operation beyond 1970. It has been suggested that 130 employees of the Stevedoring Industry Authority will become redundant as a result of the legislation we are discussing. About thirty of these are in Sydney and I am advised that work will be available for them, but of course they will have to change their occupations, and this involves certain disadvantages. But we must also be concerned about all the other ports where the redundancy problem will arise as the scheme gets underway. What is going to happen to employees of the Authority itself who become redundant in those ports?
The Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority has been responsible for recruitment, employment and dismissal of workers, administration of sick leave, long service leave and annual leave. Under the proposals of the National Stevedoring Industry Conference these responsibilities will be reduced and this, of course, will cause redundancy. Questions of superannuation, provident fund and long service leave for those employees who have not qualified under the Act are particularly important ones and I ask the Minister to study them closely. We should be told what the Government’s intentions are with regard to the protection of the interests of these workers. Quite a considerable number of employees have reached an age where the possibility of outside employment becomes more and more remote. Over the years, since the initial stages of the reorganisation of the waterfront, through the medium initially of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Commission, then the Australian Stevedoring Industry Board and finally the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, the staff have given the utmost loyalty to the administration during the most difficult periods in the industry. Their experience and ability have contributed in no uncertain manner to the highly efficient organisation that now exists in the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority. It is rather disconcerting to them at this stage of their careers that their future is threatened. It is particularly important that they be given some assurance about their future in the industry as far as continuity of employment is concerned. This applies also to the preservation of superannuation and provident fund benefits, long service leave entitlements about which I wish to say something a little later, the continuation of their existing wages and conditions and continuation of sick leave entitlements.
The transitional period covering the transfer of control from the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority to the shipowners will be a difficult one. It is noted that in the report of the National Stevedoring Industry Conference a plea has been made for the moderation, co-operation and tolerance of everyone concerned. We on this side of the House support that plea. But this means very little if the staff of the Authority is expected to show all these attributes to help this scheme to be successfully launched unless their future is assured. There is no doubt that the tremendous experience of this trained staff will be required to get this scheme off the ground. It has to be a success in the initial stages - that is, in the first ports in which it is introduced - because that will be the pattern for the introduction subsequently at the various ports involved. The operational companies which will be directly employing waterside workers in the future will have their teething troubles - problems of rostering and staff management - under their individual permanency schemes.
It is fairly obvious that offers will be made by these companies to the more experienced members of the Australian Stevedoring Authority. No doubt, some will go over to the companies and this will help to relieve some of the problems of redundancy. But if this happens on a large scale and, as it were, the eyes are picked out of the more experienced staff it could quite easily happen that not enough fully experienced staff will be left for the continuation of the present system of the allocation of labour. This would lead to difficulties in the present pick-up system and may have an adverse effect upon the launching of the new scheme. It is only reasonable to expect that if highly trained and experienced staff are going to remain with the Authority, this staff must be given some assurance as to the security of employment in the future. The Minister should inform the House what action is being taken to protect the interests of the staff of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority.
I have already mentioned some points that need answering. There are others. I refer, for instance, to severance pay. The staff affected by redundancy, particularly those who have to make a complete change in occupation half way through their working lives, would be greatly assisted in their rehabilitation if some system of severance pay were made available to them. I have already pointed out that there is a redundancy clause in the report of the National Stevedoring Industry Conference for waterside workers. Surely the Government can do no less for its own workers than for these workers who are private employees. I propose to move an amendment dealing with severence pay and superannuation when the Bill is in Committee. Quite a few points are raised that I would like to mention. These points are very important.
In relation to the superannuation and provident fund for employees of the ASIA, it has been pointed out to me, for instance, that no officer or employee of the ASIA was entitled to join the superannuation fund until 1957. There are several employees who were delayed in their admission to the fund on medical grounds, so that they will not have completed 10 years membership of the fund until next year, although some of them have substantially longer periods of service. Because they have less than 10 years membership, they do not receive the Commonwealth contribution made to the fund on their behalf. The Authority has been making regular fortnightly contributions to the fund over the years. This money has been collected from stevedoring companies through the stevedoring industry charge. Five years is now regarded as a satisfactory period for long service leave purposes in New South Wales for waterside workers under this legislation. The same principle should be applied for superannuation and provident fund purposes. The union has asked the Government to amend the Superannuation Act but this is still under consideration. Those who do not qualify for membership of the Superannuation Fund and therefore are accepted into the provident account receive benefit after 10 years service as distinct from 10 years membership. This aspect causes real anomalies to arise. I have some cases of these anomalies which I would like to quote during the Committee stages of the Bill.
Dealing with persons who are retrenched, I have been informed that persons retrenched will obtain alternative employment, but on less advantageous conditions. After negotiations with the shipowners, the following features have clearly emerged: Employers will only accept long service leave on the basis of 3 months service after 15 years service whereas these members presently receive 4i months after 15 years service. This is the provision under the existing Commonwealth Employees’ Furlough Act. Superannuation benefits available will be vastly inferior. The new scheme will be on the basis of a life assurance scheme based on 5% of salary with equal contributions by the employer. The older the member the less will be the ultimate benefit. Hence the justification for severance payment compensation being based on years of service. 1 point out that many officers and employees have substantial accrued sick leave credits which they forfeit on retrenchment. There will be less opportunity for promotion with the stevedoring companies than was available with the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority. Private employers have agreed with the union to pay similar compensation to employees made redundant because of the introduction of computers. Loyal service should be rewarded rather than ignored. It has been pointed out to me that waterside workers who are retrenched in the future will receive severance payments. Reference is made to the situation in the industry. The suggestion has been put to me that the Act ought to be amended so that superannuation would be paid after 5 years instead of after 10 years service as it is at present. It is suggested also that any officer or employee of the Authority who is retrenched shall be paid by the Authority in addition to any other payment an amount equivalent to 2 weeks salary for each completed year of service. These matters are contained in the amendments that I. shall move in Committee, so I will not go into them in any more detail now.
I mentioned a while ago that I would like to refer to the long service leave provisions again. I point out that the report of the National Stevedoring Industry Conference at paragraphs 119 and 120 draws attention to the fact that improvement has been achieved in the long service leave provisions of the Stevedoring Industry Act. The necessary legislation to give effect to this change was introduced in October 1966, the amendments being made retroactive to 1st January 1966. The principal aim of the legislation was to provide benefits not less generous than those applying generally under the awards of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and State legislation.
The Minister for Labour and National Service will remember that when we debated the Commonwealth Employees’ Furlough Bill 1967 last week I drew attention to clause 8 and pointed out that there was some worsening of existing conditions. Of course, this applies to those officers who can be retrenched and who now belong to the Authority. I drew attention to the amendment to section 8 of the principal Act. I do not want to go into this matter now and quote that section again. I ask the Minister to have a look at what I said on that occasion. The side heading of clause 8 of the Commonwealth Employees’ Furlough Bill reads: ‘Grant of extended leave or pay in lieu to Commonwealth employees not entitled to furlough.’ I drew the attention of the Minister then to clause 8 (1 .) (b) of the Commonwealth Employee’s Furlough Bill, as it was being amended, and pointed out that workers who belong to this Authority and who would be retiring after 12 years or 13 years service under the amending legislation would be receiving less in actual payments than what they would under the existing Act. I also drew attention to the fact that these workers had to wait 8 years before they could get pro rata long service leave, whereas in the case of invalidity the Bill provided for pro rata long service leave after 4 years. Most of the Acts provide a 5 year qualifying period for pro rata long service leave. I ask the Minister to take note of some of these matters. He was not at the table when I spoke on the Commonwealth Employees’ Furlough Bill. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz) was at the table at that time. I asked the Minister, by way of interjection:
Will the Minister have the anomalies in relation to clause 8 of the Commonwealth Employees Furlough Bill looked at?
The Minister replied:
Yes. The points that have been mentioned will be looked into.
I do not know whether the Minister has had time to look at them. I hope that he will look at them because when this measure is debated in another place these questions will be raised again. I hope that the Minister can see his way clear to do something about these matters so that these employees, if they become redundant, will receive at least the same entitlements which are provided for waterside workers in the present measure.
I do not want to say anything more on the Bill, except to advise the Minister that we propose to move two amendments relating to the questions to which 1 have already referred. We will not vote against the legislation. We will not vote against the second reading of it. We support it wholeheartedly. But as I said, we will move two amendments and we hope that they will be carried. However, if they are defeated we will vote for the Bill as it is. I ask that whatever happens in the course of this debate, consideration be given to the important matters that I have raised in the interest of the workers of the Authority who have given very loyal service to the Government. When they become redundant as a result of this scheme they should receive no less benefits than those extended to waterside workers.
Mr BIRRELL (Port Adelaide) [8.421- I do not want to take up a great deal of the time of the House because, to be honest, I have not had time in which to have a proper look at the legislation. The Bills were introduced into the House only yesterday. They contain a new proposition and I understand that it took some time to draft them. Yet we are expected to discuss them now, after having had about an hour in which to consider them. Be that as it may, I want to take a few minutes to make a couple of points. The Stevedoring Industry (Temporary Provisions) Bill covering the waterfront or more correctly the stevedoring industry is designed in the main to introduce a scheme of permanent employment with weekly hiring for waterside workers and at the same time to provide a pension scheme for waterside workers in permanent and continuous ports. It also provides for arrangements to cover those waterside workers who in the next few years will become surplus to requirements because of the introduction of containerisation and other new methods of handling cargoes.
These new arrangements which have been agreed to between the major parties concerned are subject to a trial over a period of 2 years or until it is clear that the new arrangements are working satisfactorily. The Opposition supports the Bills but we sincerely trust that the hopes and expectations of the major parties and of the Government prove to be realised. I pause now to pose a question to the Minister which is designed to ensure that any teething problems in these new arrangements will be promptly investigated by the parties - that is the Woodward Committee - and that any new regulation which is required will not be proclaimed until the Committee has agreed that it is desirable and in the best interests of all parties concerned and of good industrial relations. In the brief time that I have had in which to look at the second reading speech of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) it appears to me that the Minister expressed only a hope for the achievement of the good things which the legislation is designed to provide. 1 am concerned for those members of the Stevedoring Authority who will be retrenched without adequate reimbursement. The honourable member for Banks (Mr Costa), on 29th October 1967, asked the Minister for Labour and National Service the following question on this matter:
I address a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is it a fact that the employment system on the Sydney and Melbourne waterfront will be changed as from 1st July this year to provide for permanent employment? Does this mean that 360 persons now employed by the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority will no longer be required? Is the Minister aware that at least 60% of these employees have lengths of service with the Authority averaging 12 years and that they are contributors to the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund or Provident Fund but have not yet fully qualified for long service leave entitlements? Has the Government any plan to safeguard the superannuation, provident fund and long service leave entitlements of these people and their continued employment in the Commonwealth Public Service on their present salary classifications? Finally, is the Minister aware that the majority of these people are permanent employees of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority and are not necessarily permanent public servants?
The Minister replied:
I did make an announcement some little while ago that the Government proposed to introduce the necessary legislation to give effect to the recommendations contained in the Woodward report. This legislation is now in course of preparation and, provided the Parliament passes it, will enable the parties concerned to get under way with the new scheme. It is too early to say what precisely will be the effect of the new provisions on the staff of the Stevedoring Industry Authority, but a good many will probably be needed to man the new arrangements to be set up under the stevedoring companies. There could be some redundancy in the Authority, but its employees are our own servants and we shall certainly do our utmost to look after their interests. I shall not be able to give any more precise details until the exact shape of the new arrangement is seen. 1 hope that in his reply to this debate the Minister for Labour and National Service will be able to say that the Government has looked into this matter and is doing something for the employees of the Authority who are to be retrenched. As outlined by the honourable member for Stirling (Mr Webb), the Opposition will submit two amendments which are designed to provide for employees who are retrenched.
The haste with which the Government expects the Opposition to discuss these important measures is scandalous. In fact, for people who are every ready to use the words ‘democratic* or ‘democracy’ they have here tonight, by their action in rushing these Bills through when they could have been discussed tomorrow, prostituted the very essence of the word ‘democracy’. This agreement must prove for all time that the Waterside Workers Federation and its members are ever ready to sit down and negotiate industrial problems - whether they are big or small - in a real and gentlemanly manner.
– The honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Birrell) and the honourable member for Stirling (Mr Webb) referred to the lack of time in which to consider the Bills. I am sure that both of them are broadly familiar with the scheme. Fundamentally, this is a bill to enable the results of the Woodward Inquiry and the agreement between the two parties to be put into’ practical effect. The Opposition has referred to legislation by exhaustion. The basic reason for this and for the jam in the parliamentary time table is the amount of parliamentary time that the Opposition uses On trivia. Hour after hour, we listen to a great deal of nonsense and generalities. Eventually this cuts back the time and opportunity available to discuss the serious business of the nation.
The honourable member for Stirling referred to the regulation making power. Of course, the reason why we have had to do so many things by regulation - it is cer tainly not the Government’s desire to do things in this way - is that this kind of human activity cannot usually be closely enshrined in a statute regulating every detail. This is the institutional pattern that has developed in Australia. What we are doing is introducing a new scheme which will be experimental and which will be discussed continually by the two parties to the original agreement, probably even from month to month, in order to allow us to adjust when we see how it works out in practice.
If this meant that every time something trivial had to be done we would need to bring in a Bill, the new developments that we hope to see on the waterfront would be held up. What we are doing would not be satisfactory if it were possible and feasible to draft legislation that was tailor made and highly flexible. But this is not possible, so we have had to adopt the present method. The regulation making power will be fairly closely confined in respect of the matters that may be dealt with, even though the whole range of activity in this industry inevitably is quite broad. Apart from this, the legislation will expire in the middle of 1970. As I have already explained, the reason for this is that it will probably be about 6 months before the last of the first batch of ports becomes permanent, and 2 years after that time some new legislation will have to be prepared. The new legislation would no doubt be based largely on the regulations that would be made to give effect to the scheme initially.
The honourable member for Stirling, whose remarks oh this, I thought, were somewhat wide of the Bill, referred to the modernisation of ports and to a number of other aspects in which we all are very interested. These are not, however, subjects with which this measure deals directly. Mr Woodward has a wider function than the particular exercise with which his report is concerned. In fact, he has done a great deal already by inquiring into modernisation and other aspects of waterfront problems. But these are matters for another occasion. I realise, of course, that it is Labor’s policy to nationalise the waterfront, though this is not the only undertaking that Labor would want to nationalise. It wants to nationalise a great many other things, including the banking system, though in modern times this is old hat. Nationalisation is Labor’s solution to many problems. Some of the ports that were mentioned by the honourable member for Stirling might well be modernised and he suggested this as a step to nationalisation. Whether that would be of any benefit to the industry, I do not know. In any event, it is outside the matters with which this Bill is concerned. I think it is fair, without taking too much time on the point, to say that the Government attaches great importance to the modernisation of ports. Though this is not one of its direct functions, my Department has a close interest in the subject. Primarily it concerns the Department of Trade and Industry. The Government expects and hopes for a good deal of port modernisation. Indeed, we must have it if we are to cope with the revolution brought about by new methods of cargo handling.
The honourable member for Stirling spoke at some length about the staff of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority. As I have pointed out in answer to questions in this House over a considerable period, this matter has been of concern to us. Those who belong to the staff of the Authority are our employees. Over the years, members of the staff have performed very fine work in loyal fashion, sometimes in conditions of considerable difficulty. Certainly, the last thing that the Government wants to do is to ignore their needs or to fail to look after their interests. We have been at great pains to consider the interests of the staff and we have done a great deal of work on this matter. The amendments which the honourable member foreshadowed and which he discussed in general terms are not acceptable to the Government in the form proposed. We shall go into that at a later stage. They relate to a number of matters with which this measure of necessity cannot deal.
Throughout all the discussions and consideration that have preceded the presentation of this measure, and particularly the discussions of the last few months, we have had the staff of ASIA closely in mind. It has not been possible to foresee precisely how we would deal with each problem that came along, but, as a result of the consideration of the arrangements that are now very close to finality, a fairly clear picture emerges. It is of no use to consider the staff of ASIA in the same way as one might consider arrangements to deal with redundancy among waterside workers or to suppose that those arrangements would have any relevance to the situation of the Authority’s staff. Mr Woodward’s general report on the National Stevedoring industry Conference, at paragraph 110, referring to the attitude of the parties, stated:
There was also a recognition on all sides of the peculiar circumstances of this industry, and the ACTU has agreed, on behalf of the trade union movement, that the settlement of the problem in this industry will not be used as a bargaining point or a lever in other fields where redundancy may occur
The background to this statement is to be found in the introductory paragraph of Appendix G of the report. The position of Crown employees is quite different from that of waterside workers. The waterside industry was acknowledged on all sides to be sui generis - something quite separate from any other industry or occupation. The members of the staff of ASIA are Crown employees, and Crown employees have a code of conditions of many years standing that is applied in all cases. Among other things, it provide!: for retrenchment. The Bill before the Parliament dealing with the Commonwealth Employees’ Furlough Act, to which the honourable member for Stirling referred, provides for long service leave entitlement on retrenchment, after service for 8 years but less than 10 years, of 3 months, but after service for 10 years but less than 15 years, at the rate of threetenths of a month for each completed year of service. The Commonwealth Superannuation Act also provides for retrenchment. A person who has contributed to the Superannuation Fund for more than 10 years receives better treatment than one who has contributed for a lesser period. Members of the staff of ASIA have been told that those who are eligible, if they leave the Authority’s service to join the holding company or operational employers, will be entitled to these long standing benefits.
Retrenchment of Crown employees is no new thing. For instance, Commonwealth employees were retrenched in the early 1950s and Commonwealth agencies have reduced staffs on a number of occasions. At such times, the benefits that 1 have just mentioned have been generally applied. The
Opposition’s proposal in this instance is that long service leave should be granted after 5 years service and that special benefits under the Superannuation Act should be paid after 5 years service. New South Wales legislation is freely stated as providing the justification for the leave proposal. It is true that the legislation of that State gives greater benefits than are given by the Commonwealth Employees’ Furlough Act, but when one looks over the whole range of State legislation and Commonwealth Acts and awards, one sees that our Act compares quite favourably with State Acts.
– That is not so, compared with State legislation.
– The New South Wales Act may be more favourable in some respects.
– The legislation of other States also is more generous, in some instances providing for pro rata long service leave after 5 years service on retrenchment.
– The proposals put forward by the Opposition raise quite serious issues. The assumption seems to be that everyone in Crown employment has a right to be kept in that employment. Not even the Public Service Act squares with this. It allows for the retirement of surplus permanent officers. As an alternative, it allows for their employment elsewhere in the Public Service, even at a lower rate of pay, and this is the normal course. Temporary employees subject to the Public Service Act have none of the protection that the Opposition seeks in this instance. Members of the staff of the Stevedoring Industry Authority are not employed under the Public Service Act. The staff rules of the Authority provide for the possibility of retrenchment and allow for no more than the normal benefits.
Pursuant to the agreement reached at the Woodward Conference, which is set out in paragraph 70 of the report, the holding company and operational employers have offered jobs to many of the surplus Authority staff and in most cases the offers have been accepted. The holding company has said that for long service leave purposes it will count service with the
Authority as service with the company. Discussions we have had point to the likelihood that staff going to the operational employers will be treated in the same way. Discussions with the holding company point to its preparedness to consider, on an individual case basis, arrangements for applying refunds of Commonwealth superannuation contributions to the company’s pension scheme. All told, considering males for present purposes, 32 men will be surplus in Sydney and 31 in Melbourne. The Authority will place in its own organisation 8 men in Sydney and 6 in Melbourne. So far, 20 men in Sydney and 10 in Melbourne have accepted jobs with the employers. On present indications, it seems likely that the employers will offer jobs to the balance of 4 men in Sydney and 15 in Melbourne.
To give the Authority’s staff the further opportunity of preserving their furlough and superannuation rights, the Authority’s letter to its staff invited them to say whether they wished to be considered for employment in areas of Crown employment other than with the Authority. The replies received suggest that of those who have not accepted offers of employment from the employers, and excluding those who will be staying on with the Authority, only four men in Sydney show an interest in taking other Crown employment. In the case of Melbourne, at the moment the figure is nine. Judging by the replies, if these thirteen men received an offer from private employers, most would accept it.
In summary, the position is this: No-one is likely to be without a job; no-one will lose a day’s pay; we have no reason for thinking that anyone will be any worse off as far as salary is concerned; for those who stay with the Authority there are, of course, no problems; for those who are placed elsewhere in Crown employment without loss of present substantive salary there would be no problems; for those who go to the employers it appears that there will be no problems regarding long service leave; for those who go to the employers it seems that the only problem raised so far by the Opposition relates to those who have been contributing to the Commonwealth superannuation scheme for less than 10 years.
All of this does not suggest that the interests of the Authority’s staff have not been very properly taken into account. At most, what we are left with is the question whether any alteration should be made to the Superannuation Act. This is something that has wider implications and we cannot decide it here and now. I do say, however, that wherever benefits turn on periods of service and the like, someone inevitably misses out. The man with 9 years and 11 months service misses out now on the Commonwealth conditions and the man with 4 years and 11 months service would miss out if 5 years were substituted for 10. There is also the question whether, as a matter of policy, 5 years should be substituted for 8 years in the Furlough Act in the retrenchment situation. For reasons that have already been given, this does not appear to have any immediacy in relation to the ASIA staff. This is not to say that the question should not be looked at for the future.
These questions as to what should be done with the Superannuation Act and the Furlough Act to meet redundancy situations will be examined. The honourable member for Stirling referred to the fact that he had mentioned this matter before. We have been considering this problem for quite a little while, although we have not yet finished our deliberation. In the course of the examination the question of applying to the ASIA staff any decision that is reached will certainly not be overlooked. I would not like any impression to remain that we have not done everything possible and reasonable to protect our staff. I do thank the honourable member for Stirling for the interest he has shown in this matter and for his support for the generality of the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time.
– I propose to move two amendments to insert new clauses in the Bill. They will become clauses 7a and 7b. I seek leave to move the two amendments together.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Hon. W. C. Haworth) - There being no objection, leave is granted.
– I move:
That the following new clauses be inserted in the Bill. 7a. Any officer ot employee of the Authority who is retrenched and who has completed more than five years’ service and less than ten years’ service and who is a member of the Superannuation Fund or Provident Fund shall receive, an amount which equals three times his contribution to the appropriate fund: Provided that any amount received by the officer concerned from either the Superannuation Fund or Provident Fund will be counted as part of the benefit of this provision.’. 7b. Any officer or employee of the Authority who is retrenched shall be paid by the Authority, in addition to any other payments, an amount equivalent to two weeks’ salary for each completed year of service.*. 1 do not want to repeat what 1 said during the course of my second reading speech when I outlined the reasons why we were moving these amendments, but honourable members will see that in clause 7a the amount of service is reduced from 10 years to 5 years. During the course of my second reading speech I pointed out that until 1957 no officer or employee of the Authority was entitled to join the superannuation fund. There were three cases drawn to my attention by a trade union secretary. 1 will cite these cases so that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Bury) can examine them. These examples give an idea of the anomalies that exist.
One man named Poole joined the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority in 1952. He was admitted to superannuation in 1957. He will get back roughly three times the amount of his contributions, which will be about $1,400. Another man named Hyson was not admitted to the superannuation fund but was admitted to the provident fund. He has been employed by the Authority since 1955. He will get back three times his contribution. The third case is the one which shows the anomaly. A man named Robinson joined the Authority in 1947. He could not get into the superannuation scheme for some time because of medical reasons. He will not qualify for membership of the fund until about April 1968. He has contributed about $1,600 and if he is retrenched he will get back the amount he has contributed plus interest. I draw the attention of the Minister to the fact that in the three examples that I have given the person with the longest service will receive the smallest return.
The reason for the reduction in the period of service from 10 years to 5 years has been made clear. Clause 7a states:
Provided that any amount received by the officer concerned from either the Superannuation Fund or Provident Fund will be counted as part of the benefit of this provision.
This man would get an amount equal to three times his contribution to the appropriate fund. That would mean that if he contributed $200 he would get back $600. The Minister for Labour and Industry indicated that he would look at the matter of superannuation. I hope he gives close attention to it because it is very important so far as the clerks in the Authority are concerned.
I now refer to the second amendment I have moved. I do not think the Minister mentioned the matter of severance pay. I do not think we are asking for anything unreasonable for these people by seeking to have proposed clause 7b inserted. It states:
Any officer or employee of the Authority who is retrenched shall be paid by the Authority, in addition to any other payments, an amount equivalent to two weeks’ salary for each completed year of service.
Surely severance pay must come into existence with the introduction of automation, or, as the Minister prefers to call it, technology. Whatever term is used makes no difference; the result is exactly the same for the workers who become redundant because of these new methods or principles being introduced. Surely it is not too much to ask that in this case severance pay be given to Government employees. Provision for redundancy is referred to in the report of the Stevedoring Industry Conference. I ask the Minister to give careful consideration to the two amendments. He has already indicated that the Government cannot accept them but I ask him to give close consideration to them in the interests of the Commonwealth employees working for the Authority.
– Dealing now with the two amendments, I indicated previously that the superannuation fund, the furlough provisions and other matters relate to general Commonwealth provisions and the Government could not deal with them in the narrow field covered in this Bill. The second amendment deals with retrenchments and I again ask the Committee to note that if everything goes as we expect, we believe that no-one is likely to be put out of a job. We expect that no-one will lose a day’s pay. We expect that there will be continuous employment for all concerned and we do not expect anyone to be worse off so far as salary is concerned. This Bill deals with matters unconnected with other cases in industry where severance pay may be paid. There will be complete continuity in this case and the employees will pass from one job to the other.
I did indicate before to the Australian Council of Trade Unions and others concerned that redundancy of waterside workers was an entirely different matter. Those people acknowledged in court that this case was sui generis and did not spill over into other areas. For this reason we cannot accept these amendments.
That the amendments (Mr Webb’s) be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Deputy Chairman - Hon. W. C. Haworth)
Question so resolved in the negative. Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr Bury) - by leave - read a third time.
– by leave - Talks were held between representatives of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory and Minister last May. One of the proposals discussed was that the member representing the Northern Territory in the House of Representatives should be granted the same voting rights as other members of this House. Oh 4th May I informed the House that the Ministers present at the discussions bad agreed to recommend that full voting rights should be accorded to the member for the Northern Territory after the next general election for members of this House.
The Government has agreed to this recommendation. Amending legislation for the purpose of implementing the decision will be introduced at an appropriate time. I take the opportunity of congratulating the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) who has fought hard for this right for the people of the Northern Territory.
– by leaveI thank the House for permitting me to make a statement.
– What would you know about the Northern Territory?
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston)Order!
– 1 was under the impression that the honourable member who interjected was a responsible Minister.
– The interjection was dead right.
-Order! 1 would remind honourable members that all interjections are out of order. It will facilitate the business of the House if honourable members refrain from interjecting.
– It is quite from the way that the Minister- abvious
– He is out of his seat.
-Order! The honourable member for Scullin will cease interjecting.
– The member for Dawson should not offer provocation.
-Order! The honourable member for McMillan will cease interjecting. He is out of his seat.
– He is out of his mind.
-Order! The honourable member for Kingsford-Smith will cease interjecting. He has been interjecting all day.
– There seems to be an air of frivolity in the House tonight, but in all seriousness I take the opportunity of congratulating the Government for giving the honourable member representing the Northern Territory full yoting rights in this Parliament. It is not necessary for me to say that the Opposition has fought for this provision for many years. It is a sound move and it will certainly be appreciated by the people of the Northern- Territory and by the next Labor member for the Northern Territory.
– by leave - I welcome the announcement that the Government has finally recognised the growing importance of the Northern Territory by granting its member - currently myself - full voting rights after the next election. 1 have continuously pressed for this provision ever since my entry into this House. 1 have spoken about it on numerous occasions. I have made personal representations to Ministers. These have been editorials printed in newspapers. I have lead protest marches. I have presented a petition in this House. The Northern Territory citizens have been right with me in my efforts. The United Church in Central Australia asked me to press for this provision. Members of the Northern Territory Legislative Council have, for years, sought this provision and when they were in Canberra some months ago I joined them in their personal representations. The Country Party in the Northern Territory has continually backed my endeavours. I stressed the importance of this matter very strongly in my maiden speech which I made on 28th February this year. The next day the Leader of the Opposition, as a political gimmick, put a question on the notice paper. That was fair enough. But after 17 years of representations, the Government has given the member for the Northern Territory full voting rights. The members who are screaming on my Tight did not succeed in getting this right in the 17 or 20 years that a Labor Party member for the Northern Territory was here. This is something which the Government has achieved. Although full voting rights will not operate until after the next election, and while my constituents and I consider that full voting rights should have been granted long ago, by the same token the announcement indicates the growing knowledge of and confidence in the Northern Territory. It is certainly going ahead at a great rate. I am very thankful that this right to vote will be granted at the earliest opportunity.
– I ask for leave to make a short statement on this momentous occasion.
-Order! Is leave granted? Government Supporters - No.
– Leave is not granted. The honourable member will resume his seat.
Consideration resumed from 3 1st October (vide page 2470), on motion by Mr Snedden: That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time.
Leave granted to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Bury) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 31st October (vide page 2471), on motion by Mr Snedden: That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time.
Leave granted to be moved forthwith. Bill (on motion by Mr Bury) read a third time.
-Order! The honourable member either gives leave or does not give it. He may not debate the matter.
– I do not give leave.
– I ask for leave to make a short statement.
-Order! There being no objection, leave is granted.
– Discussions have taken place over a period of time between myself and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard). The purpose of those discussions has been to make the proceedings of this House work smoothly. I am glad to be able to say that the arrangements have worked very well during this session. I had arranged with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that we would be given leave to present this Bill. Indeed, last night a precis of this Bill was given to the Labor Party Caucus and Executive for their consideration. This was done so that the Executive could take its recommendations to the Caucus meeting this morning. ( would be amazed if Caucus had not discussed this matter. In point of fact, the informal business sheet which everyone in this House knows about discloses that these two second reading speeches would be made today when stocks of the Bills were available. 1 find it extraordinary that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is so bereft of authority in his Party that a front bench member of the Opposition can get up and refuse leave in direct contradiction of the arrangement that was made. Because of this I formally move:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the presentation and passage through all stages of a Loan (Qantas Airways Limited) Bin 1967 and a Loan (Airlines Equipment) Bill 1967.
– I admit that there are sometimes misunderstandings in this House. They can be either deliberate or accidental. All I suggest is that at this morning’s Executive meeting and Caucus meeting I had notes of the Loan (Airlines Equipment) Bill 1967 which I understand relates to a loan of about $3m to allow six aircraft to be purchased for TAA. However, the only knowledge I have of the Loan (Qantas Airways Limited) Bill 1967 has been gained from the columns of this morning’s Financial Review’.
– Did the honourable member read the informal business sheet?
– I am not arguing about the business sheet. I am speaking of what happened in the Executive meeting and the Caucus meeting this morning which took place before the informal business sheet appeared. The honourable gentleman’s Party was good enough to circulate information on the Loan (Airlines Equipment) Bill and I would have hoped to have infor- mation regarding the Loan (Qantas Airways Limited) Bill. I am not refusing leave in respect of the Loan (Airways Equipment) Bill, but I am refusing leave in respect of the Loan (Qantas Airways Limited) Bill which has not been contemplated by either my Caucus or Executive. The Minister can say what he likes about arrangements that have been made for reasons which I cannot explain here in the absence of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. The Leader of the House knows that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is not here tonight because he is attending an important international meeting as, I believe, is the Prime Minister. However, no sanction has been given by my Caucus or by my Executive to the Loan (Qantas Airways Limited) Bill which is listed first.
– Your Deputy Leader gave leave for both Bills to be introduced at the same time.
– All I suggest is that if there is an understanding with you about this Bill, there is misunderstanding about it so far as my colleague the Deputy Leader and I are concerned.
– It happens so frequently that you have a misunderstanding.
– The honourable gentleman can make innuendo if he likes. I am not one in this House who makes innuendo.
– You are capable of your share of that too.
– I ask for a withdrawal of that remark. The Minister said I am capable of my share of innuendo. I would like a withdrawal of that.
– You introduced the word innuendo’; the Minister did not.
– The Minister on the front bench said I am capable of my share of innuendo. It is offensive to me. lt has been addressed to me.
– You introduced the word innuendo’.
– I do not care how the word was introduced. The Minister on the front bench said that I am capable of my share of innuendo. I resent the remark and I ask that he withdraw it.
– Mr Speaker, do you ask me to withdraw it?
– Well, I am asking for a withdrawal and I am entitled to a withdrawal. The Minister has made a remark that is offensive to me.
– If the remark is offensive to the honourable gentleman I will withdraw it. I remind him, thought that he introduced the subject of innuendos. The point I made was that his Deputy Leader had given leave for the introduction of these two Bills.
– I still want a withdrawal of the remark; it is offensive to me.
– Order! The Minister has withdrawn it.
– If I may, I will get back to the matter that is in dispute and I will be careful since apparently I must be careful about the terms I use. The Labor Executive and Caucus have considered the Loan (Airlines Equipment) Bill. We have not considered the Loan (Qantas Airways Ltd) Bill. If it assists the Minister who was making the assertions about the business of the House, we have had circulated to us details in advance of the Bills. We are making a serious departure from the usual procedure. We do not believe in giving our sanction to Bills until they have been presented in the House. I ask the Minister at least to accept my word - I hope he can - that we had a digest of perhaps 200 words on the Loan (Airlines Equipment) Bill. We have had no digest whatever on the Loan (Qantas Airways Limited) Bill. I am not speaking about whether a document was issued yesterday or early today and whether it should have been brought before the Executive and Caucus and who should have been responsible; all I say is that it was not brought before either the Executive or Caucus and I am refusing leave for the first Bill. I am willing to give leave for the second Bill. We have agreed upon our stand in relation to it.
With all respect to the Leader of the House, my only knowledge of the first Bill comes from reading the ‘Financial Review’ this morning. It suggested that this Bill provided for a loan of the magnitude of some $70m, which is about half the total capital expenditure of Qantas in the whole of its existence. We are expected to contemplate it here this evening without its having been considered by either the Executive or Caucus. I am refusing, leave on those grounds. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has left me in charge of the House for the Opposition this evening because he is somewhere else. I had no knowledge until now of the Bill entitled Loan (Qantas Airways Limited) Bill and I un refusing leave to proceed with it at this stage.
– Mr Speaker-
-The Minister is closing the debate.
– I appreciate that I am closing the debate. I do not think that this is a matter which should be debated an any length.
– My Speaker, am I not entitled to speak?
-Order! The honourable member for Wills now has the call.
- Mr Speaker, are you calling him?
-I call the honourable member for Wills.
– Thank you, Mr Speaker. I rise to assert my right in this matter as an ordinary member of this place. I know that honourable members opposite have scant respect for the rights of any of us. But this is a simple matter of courtesy between all of us. A good deal of the procedure of the Parliament depends upon courtesy, trust and implied traditions. This evening the Minister for Territories (Mr Barnes) made a statement. The honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) made a statement. But the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly), who asked for leave to make a statement on the subject, was refused leave. The Minister for Territories and the honourable member for the Northern Territory spoke by the leave of every member of this House. I understand that one voice is sufficient for leave to be refused in these circumstances. On almost every occasion our policy invariably is to grant leave. One voice can be raised to refuse leave but we do not do that. On almost every occasion that we have asked for a similar courtesy, it has almost invariably been refused.
The application of the Standing Orders is a simple matter of courtesies, as far as I am concerned. If the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) had not refused leave for the Bill to be introduced, I would have done so because of the discourtesy shown to this side of the House. I believe that there is no charter at all for the suspension of the Standing Orders in this instance. They have been designed over centuries to protect the procedures of the Parliament and to give every honourable member an equal chance to consider legislation. Legislation should not go through hastily. I think the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden), who is the Leader of the House, is forgetting his station. He is a member of the Parliament. He has no better rights than the rest of us have. His behaviour when he is refused leave is extremely petulent; it is schoolboyish. The House should note carefully our approach to the Standing Orders in a matter such as this. The honourable member for Melbourne Ports has made the point quite well. This is not legislation that was originally before us or of which we have any cognisance. But I am more concerned with the courtesies between us. If one member on this side of the House asks for leave to make a statement, I think that honourable members on the Government side are in courtesy bound to give that leave because we on this side of the House almost invariably give leave on every occasion it is sought.
– I support the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean). He has given a true account of what took place this morning at the meeting of the Labor Executive. All we received and discussed was this piece of paper that I now have in my hand. It is entitled ‘Loan (Airlines Equipment) Bill 1967’. We have not at any stage seen a precis in this form or in any other form of a Bill called the Loan (Qantas Airways Limited) Bill. In all fairness I fail to see how we can be expected to consider sensibly a Bill which we have never seen and of which we have never been given a precis. What the honourable member for Melbourne Ports has said is quite true and frankly I do not see why the Bill should be introduced now. We have not been given any information about it. We have had no notification and there is no Bill. How can we be expected to consider it? The blue paper that I have here was apparently printed after the Caucus meeting was held this morning.
– in reply - It is an interesting situation that has developed. As the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) has made an issue of refusing leave, I think the position ought to be made clear. The practice in this House is that the Leader of the House on the Government side and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition on the other side meet in informal fashion, in the corridors, or in the room of one or the other of them, or by medium of the telephone, and make arrangements which contribute to the running of this House.
– A lousy practice.
– That may be, but without it the honourable member would find that this House could not work. In pursuance of that practice there was a meeting yesterday between the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) and myself. At that meeting it was arranged that we should get leave to present these Bills today. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition agreed to give us leave to present the Bills today. Subsequently a young man of great competence, I may say, who assists me in these duties, a Mr Grigg, consulted me and we confirmed the format of this informal business paper, which we all known as the blue sheet’, and upon which we work. It is true that today we have departed to some small extent from the blue sheet, but there is one thing on the blue sheet from which we have not departed. The second page of that sheet contains the notation: “When stocks of bills available - Loan (Qantas Airways) Bill, Loan (Airlines Equipment) Bill’. A copy of that blue sheet has been on the desk of every honourable member of this House since today’s sitting began.
– At 2.30 this afternoon.
– At 2.30 this afternoon. Mr Crean - We finished our Caucus meeting at 12 noon.
– For the moment, if the honourable member will excuse me, the time at which the Caucus meeting ended is irrelevant to the point I am making. My point is that at 2.30 p.m. this was available to every honourable member. I had no less than half a dozen conversations with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition behind the Speaker’s Chair during question time and later, and on no occasion did the Deputy Leader of the Opposition indicate that he had any hesitation about giving leave for both these Bills. There has been no suggestion at any stage that leave would not be given for both these Bills, until now, some Ti hours later, when the honourable member for Melbourne Ports, the shadow Treasurer, who would normally lead for the Opposition in debates on these Bills, suddenly decides, in the absence of the Deputy Leader Opposition, that the leave previously arranged in pursuance of a long-standing practice will be refused.
It is quite intolerable to me that I am unable to make an arrangement with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition because the people who sit behind him will not honour it, either in his presence or in his absence - especially in his absence. If they will not let the Deputy Leader honour bis agreements he can deal with them himself, if he is capable of doing so. But the fact that in his absence this leave is refused can only be regarded as an indication of a lack of confidence in the Deputy Leader. It could not be otherwise. If I could not honour an arrangement which I had made then I would not feel pleased with myself at all. The fact that an agreement made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is thrown aside in his absence reflects no credit whatever on the honourable member for Melbourne Ports or on the other people who sit on the Opposition side of the House. So far as the precis are concerned -
– Have you the second precis?
– I have sent for it. The fact is that the two precis were given to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition by Mr Grigg, or they were handed in to the office of the Deputy Leader. There were two of these precis. Both of them were approved by the Legislation Committee of Cabinet at the same time as the Bills were approved by that Committee. As I said a moment ago, I have sent for those precis, and the reply which I have now received is that the bulk of the precis were given to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and a search is being made at the moment for the other copies. I do not know how many were left, but the bulk of them were given to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. We did not need the precis; we had the Bills.
– We should have had the Bills.
– You should have had the Bills and you were to get them when stocks were available. Stocks are now ready but you are refusing to have the Bill. You just cannot have it both ways. In the last Budget session a number of Bills were dealt with in this way. Many Bills have been similarly dealt with in the past. On this occasion only two Bills were involved. At a convenient time, when a copy of the precis is available, I will produce it for the benefit of honourable members. By then, of course, it will have lost its significance as containing a description of the contents of the Bill. But the fact is that the precis existed and were handed over, and it is interesting that in the absence of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, who made the arrangement of which I have spoken, the honourable member is prepared to say that he did not receive the precis.
This has overtones of another current situation in which there has been a tendency to make condemnations in the absence of involved persons. I remind the honourable member that he ought not to be so ready to make this condemnation because it is a condemnation of his own Deputy Leader. It is also a condemnation - and I say this thinkingly - of the honourable member’s own performance as leader of his Party in this debate that he is not prepared to grant leave for this Bill to be introduced. If he wished to raise the point of not having had the precis or the Bill at the Caucus meeting, then he should have received the Bill and the second reading speech and then raised the issue. He should have raised it at 2.30. He should have raised it with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. He should have raised it before my colleague rose to ask for leave to present the Bill.
– by leave - I wish to make a statement in response to the astonishing statement of the Leader of the House (Mr Snedden). I do not doubt statements that are assertively made, and I hope that there are at least some facts behind the assertions on this occasion. I can say for a fact that I have at the moment the short notes, if you like to call them such, on the Loan (Airlines Equipment) Bill 1967. I have not the notes, short or long, on the Loan (Qantas Airways Limited) Bill. 1 am not attempting in any way to detract from the admirable qualities of the gentleman who has been named, Mr Grigg. Perhaps the Minister would point out Mr Grigg to me now.
– He is not here at the moment.
– Well, 1 do not think there is any member of my Party, including all the members of the Executive and ali those present at the caucus meeting - the Minister is not even listening to my reply. At least I listened courteously to every word that he rather truculently uttered. Every member of my Parliamentary executive and every member of our Camms relied on me this morning to give a report on the first Bill. As I say, I have no objection to the passage through the various stages of the Loan (Airlines Equipment) Bill. But nobody in my Party has given consideration to the Loan (Qantas Airways Limited) Bill.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition is absent. It is easy enough for the Leader of the House, sitting on the front bench, to try to score a point by endeavouring to separate me from my Deputy Leader. The Leader of the House knows as well as anybody else that both the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition are attending a dinner which I presume is being attended also by the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) and the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen). In the absence of the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, I was left to handle the business this evening in respect of any points of procedure that arose.
The Leader of the House, who has not gone to the dinner, has said that this matter has been on the blue sheet since 2.30 o’clock this afternoon. I am not denying that these Bills have been on the blue sheet since 2.30. Even if they had been on the blue sheet since noon it would not alter the fact that the Loan (Qantas Airways Limited) Bill has not been considered by my Caucus. We simply demand as a Party - and I think that we are entitled to it as a matter of courtesy - that we do not contemplate any Bill unless the Caucus meets and considers it. At least the Opposition has waived its usual rights in regard to the Loan (Airlines Equipment) Bill. I made this point to our Caucus this morning. I said: T do not have the Loan (Airlines Equipment) Bill, but I have the short notes on it. I am prepared to accept them.’ I had no notes, short or long on the Loan (Qantas Airways Limited) Bill. As I say, we waived our rights in regard to one Bill. I think that we are entitled to certain rights as far the the second Bill is concerned because the precis of it was presented to us. I am not trying to explain here - and I hope that T do not have to explain here - why the precis of the first Bill, the Loan (Qantas Airways Limited) Bill has not been made available. It may well be that the precis is in the office of my colleague, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. 1 am not suggesting that it is for any ulterior motive. I hope the Minister does not suggest that, either.
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition may not have received the precis.
– That is so. This matter could be similar to the one on which we have had a great debate in the last day or so, that is, whether certain information which apparently had been in existence for months was divulged or was not divulged to certain people. At least we have something here that has been divulged only in the last 24 hours and that somehow has become lost between the office of the Minister in charge of the House and the office of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I hope that statement puts the matter in the correct perspective. I am not casting any aspersions. I am not doubting the integrity of anybody.
– The honourable member was before. He did it by innuendo.
– Surely innuendo is a legitimate enough word. Sometimes the tone in which a word is spoken makes a lot of difference. If the Minister for the Navy does not like the word ‘innuendo’, let me say I suppose that on this occasion there are some doubts as to what happened between the time a transcript was prepared
– Not in our minds.
– I do not have to answer for the Minister’s mind, fortunately. I sometimes wonder how much of it there is. The interjector is a Minister of the Crown. He and his colleagues have been under attack as a ministry in the last few days as to whether certain things said carelessly were in fact the whole truth or anything but the truth. I think that the same thing applies in the present situation. I hope that there is no doubt as far as our Caucus is concerned. I am not arguing about the passage of the communication between the Minister responsible for the business of the House and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition who is our channel of communication at the other end. I am not casting any reflection on him. But I think that it is pretty cheap of the Leader of the Government to suggest that I am putting on a performance here tonight to denigrate the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in his absence. I do not know whether that is innuendo or not. But innuendo can be interpreted any way honourable members like.
All I suggest - and this surely is the point at issue - is that I have refused at the moment, as the member in charge of the business of the House on my side tonight, to give leave for the introduction of the Loan (Qantas Airways Limited) Bill because that Bill, in abstract if honourable members like, has not been brought before either my Executive or my caucus. I do not offer any objection to the passage of the second Bill, which is the Loan (Airlines Equipment) Bill. I suggest that it would be a matter of common sense at this stage to postpone the presentation of the Loan (Qantas Airways Limited) Bill. Provided a clearance is given by my Deputy Leader in the morning I am prepared to go ahead with the Bill tomorrow. But I am not prepared to go ahead with the introduction of it this evening. I offer no objection whatsoever regarding the Loan (Airlines Equipment) Bill.
It is all right for the Leader of the House to take cheap points about the blue sheet. If ever there was an example of the tenacity or the veracity, whichever way honourable members may like to look at it, of the blue sheet, surely the events of yesterday are a prime example. The programme on the blue sheet was cut to pieces because of action which was taken by the Opposition early in the day to submit a motion of want of confidence in the Government. As everybody knows, it is easy enough at any stage in the day to rearrange business. The blue sheet is purely a convenience chosen by the Government, and agreed to by the Opposition if honourable members like, to facilitate business. But the blue sheet is in no way a binding document. We have plenty of examples of this. I would not be surprised if there was another example of this fact later this evening when a Minister will ask for leave to move that item No. 12 on the blue sheet be considered before item No. 10, or something of that nature. What I am suggesting to the House is that I have refused leave - and I am trying to clarify the point - as far as the Loan (Qantas Airways Limited) Bill is concerned. Everybody knows that it is anticipated that this Parliament will rise in the early hours of Thursday morning. There will be no opportunity
– The honourable member means Friday morning.
– Well, the late hours of Thursday, continuing into Friday. We will still be in what is referred to as the Thursday sitting, if we want to be precise about things. If we are going to quibble about the day, fair enough. I know as well as anybody else that from 12 o’clock to 12 o’clock the next night is 24 hours: But a parliamentary day may continue from one day even to the next night. We will have no opportunity to discuss the Loan (Qantas Airways Limited) Bill unless we have a special meeting-
– We are agreeable to that.
– Fair enough. If the Minister is agreeable to that, I trust that I have made my point.
Mr SNEDDEN (Bruce - Minister for Immigration) - by leave - Mr Speaker, I wish to make a short statement on what the honourable member for Melbourne
Ports has said. The fact is that we are now in a situation where I am informed, and I rely upon the fact, that a precis of the Loan (Qantas Airways Limited) Bill was given to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
– No. It was of the Loan (Airlines Equipment) Bill, the one that I have in my hand and that I now show to the Minister.
– That is the one that the Opposition has received?
– Yes, but not the one relating to the Loan (Qantas Airways Limited) Bill.
– Please listen to me for a second. I am told, and I rely upon the fact, that thirty copies of a precis of the Loan (Qantas Airways Limited) Bill were given to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
– Both Bills.
– In other words, both Bills were given to him. The honourable member for Melbourne Ports says that he received only one and he says it is because he received only one that he will not give leave to introduce the second. What is perfectly plain is that if the honourable gentleman says he did not get it, he did not get it. Equally h is true that if Grigg says he gave it to somebody, he did give it to somebody and there has been a breakdown in the transmission. I suggest to the honourable gentleman - and I do this in the spirit of finding a solution to the contretemps that has already taken far too long - that what he ought to do is to agree to leave being given to introduce the Bill because until the Bill is introduced he will not have an opportunity to see it. When the Bill is introduced, not only will he see it but he will have the benefit of a full second speech. What the honourable member complains about is that he should not debate it until after he has been to Caucus. But by refusing leave to introduce the Bill he is not serving that purpose because if he refuses to give leave today I shall give notice and introduce k without leave tomorrow.
I would hope that the House may be able to finish its business tomorrow. Therefore, instead of suspending the Standing Orders. as I have given notice to do, I should like the honourable gentleman to agree to give leave to introduce the Bill. Then so far as the debate on it is concerned, he will have an opportunity to hear the second reading speech, to see the Bill and to ascertain whether he can get a meeting of caucus or of his Executive some time tomorrow so that we can go on with the Bill, which was my intention at the time it was listed on the blue sheet. Would the honourable gentleman be agreeable to giving leave for both Bills to be introduced so that he will have an opportunity to see them? I think that is the sensible solution.
Mr CREAN (Melbourne Ports)- by leave - I still think that this is the wrong way for the Parliament to do business. I will not go into the arguments again about how the channels of communication broke down. Obviously they did break down. I am sorry that the Minister for Immigration (Mr Snedden) has intruded into the matter. I suggest that he, not I, intruded although the intrusion might have been because of what he thought was the crudity of my approach. I did not mean it in that way. I suggest that the only reason why we were going to agree to proceeding with the second Bill, which is the only one about which I or my colleagues have knowledge, was that at least we had been given a precis of it. We made the reservation, with all respect, that we did not like the matter handled in that way. I think that we are entitled to have the Bill, not the notes of the Bill, because as everybody knows there is no substitute for the Bill. I think that the Minister for Immigration would be the first one to agree with that statement. What somebody describes as the substance of a Bill is very much different from the Bill itself. At least I am persuaded, if you like by the eloquence of the Minister-
– And logic.
– Not logic altogether. I think he finally came round to logic, but he took a long time to lodge on his logic, if I may say so. But I am persuaded by the argument that we would be better able to talk about the Bill if we had it before us. Therefore, with all respect - and I hope with the agreement of my colleagues behind me - I will agree to leave being given for the introduction of the Bills. We will decide tomorrow how we will look at the Bill which we have not had time to consider.
– Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. I ask whether you would clarify the position for the House. Is not the position that we have had a motion moved for the suspension of Standing Orders to permit of the passage of a Bill without delay; that debate has proceeded on that motion, and that the Minister as the mover has spoken in reply? Since then we have had two statements by leave-
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order. The statements were made by leave, not to the motion. The Minister is just about to move a motion to ask for leave of the House to withdraw his original motion.
– Having regard to what has been said by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports, I now ask for leave to withdraw the motion.
Motion - by leave - withdrawn.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr Swartz, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill seeks the approval of Parliament to the borrowing by the Commonwealth of $US68.7m or $A61.4m from the United States Export-Import Bank and the Boeing Company to assist in the financing of jet aircraft and related equipment being purchased by Qantas Airways Ltd.
The money to be made available under the proposed loan agreement, the form of which is annexed to the Bill, will be used by Qantas for the purchase of ten Boeing 707-338C Aircraft and related equipment, spares and services. After the delivery of these aircraft Qantas will be operating a fleet of twenty-one Boeing 707-338C’s. Five of these aircraft which are now in service were purchased with the assistance of a loan from certain United States commercial banks approved by the Loan (Airlines Equipment) Act 1966.
The general arrangements for the borrowing are similar to those approved by Parliament for other loans for Qantas and TransAustralia Airlines in recent years. The Commonwealth will be the borrower in the first place, and the full proceeds of the loan will be made available to Qantas on terms and conditions to be determined by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) pursuant to clause 7 of the Bill. These terms and conditions will be the same as those under which the Commonwealth itself borrows the money. As the airline will be required to meet all charges under the loan agreement, the Commonwealth will, as usual, merely assume the function of an intermediary in these arrangements.
The main lender on this occasion is the Export-Import Bank, an institution whose primary function is the financing of United States exports. The Commonwealth has previously borrowed from the ExportImport Bank on two occasions for the purchase of commercial aircraft. The first time was in 1960, when $US30m or $A27m was borrowed to help Qantas finance the purchase of three new Boeing 707 aircraft, and extensive modifications to other Boeing 707 aircraft. The second occasion was earlier this year, when $US13m or $A12m was borrowed to finance the purchase of three DC9’s for the Australian National Airlines Commission.
Australia has traditionally been a net importer of capital. It has been the Government’s continuing policy to arrange overseas finance for a large proportion of the cost of new aircraft purchased by its two airlines. In a growing economy such as ours it is inevitable that there will be a continuously increasing demand for imports of materials, capital equipment and other items which must be obtained from abroad. To assist in financing such imports, the Government believes that it should take advantage of opportunities, as they arise, to borrow overseas on reasonable terms and at acceptable rates of interest.
The proposed agreement with the ExportImport Bank and Boeing follows the current pattern of agreements with the Bank. The
Bank usually requires the borrower to find 20% of the total cost of the programme for which finance is provided. The Bank then provides up to 90% of the loan and looks to the supplier to provide the other 10%. In this case, Qantas will be expected to provide $US17m, or $A15m, from its own resources out of the total programme which is estimated to cost $US86m, while the Bank will lend $US62m, or $A55, and Boeing $US7m, or $A6m.
The loan agreement provides three methods by which Qantas can make drawings on the loan. The first of these is to obtain reimbursement in respect of amounts already paid by Qantas for items of equipment. Secondly, drawings may be made by letters of credit established with a United States commercial bank in favour of the suppliers of equipment, which would then be met by the Bank and Boeing. Thirdly, the Export-Import Bank may be asked to pay part of its share of the loan direct to Boeing when pre-delivery payments are due on items being financed under the loan. As the second and third procedures will not involve payments to the Commonwealth, which the Commonwealth as the borrower would pass on to Qantas, clause 12 has been included in the Bill so that such disbursements by the lenders will in the first place constitute borrowings by the Commonwealth, and then loans by the Commonwealth to Qantas.
The agreement will be signed as soon as convenient after this Bill becomes law, and drawings are planned to commence when the necessary arrangements can be made. The final date for drawing is 30th June 1969 unless the parties agree to an extension. In accordance with normal banking practice in the United States, a commitment fee is to be paid on the undrawn amount of the Export-Import Bank’s portion of the loan, and this fee accrues from April 1967, when the Bank formally approved the loan. The loan is to be repaid by fourteen semi-annual instalments, the first of which is payable on 31st December 1968. The interest rate provision, which appears in clause B of Article II of the Schedule to the Bill, is different from any which has appeared in previous loan agreements entered into by the Commonwealth. Under this provision the Commonwealth is required to pay interest on the amount of the loan outstanding from time to time at the minimum rate of 6% per annum. However, the Export-Import Bank has the right to sell the Commonwealth’s obligations in respect of the amounts advanced by the Bank. If the Bank finds it necessary to offer a higher yield than 6% in order to sell any part of its share of the loan, the Commonwealth is required to meet the additional interest cost involved up to a maximum rate of 7% per annum, and could also lose its right to prepay before maturity that part of the loan which has been sold. The higher rate may include a fee of 0.5% per annum payable to the Bank for issuing its guarantee at the time it sells the obligations. A provision of this nature is now customary in Export-Import Bank agreements for aircraft loans. The Bank has found its funds depleted by the heavy demand for aircraft loans, and sees the sale of borrowers’ obligations as a means of building up its resources for future lending.
I might mention, at this stage, Mr Deputy Speaker, that Qantas will be requiring large sums in the years ahead to help it to maintain a fleet that will keep the company in the forefront of international airline operators. It is therefore in the interests of Qantas and the Commonwealth for the Export-Import Bank to replenish its funds, if necessary, through sales of borrowers’ obligations, and thus be in a position to assist airline operators in financing purchases of aircraft in the coming years. The terms outlined in the agreement are the most favourable available to the Commonwealth at the present time for the financing required by Qantas. However, the Bank is required, under the provisions of Article XI of the agreement, to consult with the Commonwealth before any sale of our obligations which would alter the rate of interest or limit our right to prepay the loan. We would therefore have the opportunity at that time to seek alternative forms of financing. The borrowing will be authorised under the 1967-68 programme approved for the Commonwealth at the Australian Loan Council meeting in June 1967 and will be additional to the Commonwealth’s approved programme of $123m for State housing purposes. The terms and conditions of the loan have been approved by the
Loan Council. This is the ninth occasion on which parliamentary approval has been sought for a borrowing by the Commonwealth in the United States on behalf of Qantas. The earlier loans provided $US168m, or $A150m, for the modernisation of the Qantas fleet, of which $US83m, or $A74m, has already been repaid. The present loan will make a further $US69m available to help in financing an important step in the modernisation of the Qantas fleet. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate* (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr Swartz, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill seeks the approval of Parliament for the borrowing by the Commonwealth of $Can3m, or $A2.5m, from the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce to assist in financing the purchase of up to six Twin Otter aircraft and related equipment by the Australian National Airlines Commission. The aircraft will be used in rural and development and other feeder services in Queensland, New Guinea and Tasmania. Two of the aircraft are already in service. As this borrowing is for a relatively small amount, I do not propose to take up the time of honourable members with a detailed explanation of the agreement. It is quite straightforward and the general arrangements for the borrowing are similar to those approved by Parliament for other loans for Qantas Airways Ltd and Trans-Australia Airlines in recent years. The Commonwealth will be the borrower in the first place, and the full proceeds of the loan will be made available to TAA on terms and conditions to be determined by myself pursuant to clause 7 of the Bill. These terms and conditions will be the same as those under which the Commonwealth itself borrows the money. As the airline will be required to meet all charges under the loan agreement, the Commonwealth will, as usual, merely assume the function of an intermediary in these arrangements.
The terms outlined in the agreement are the most favourable available to the Commonwealth at the present time for the financing required by TAA. The average interest cost of the borrowing is 6.5% per annum. In addition a commitment fee of 0.5% per annum is payable on the undrawn amount of the loan from 1st December 1967 to 31st December 1968. As in all previous overseas loans, the Commonwealth has undertaken that payments under the agreement will be exempt from Australian tax. This covers the commitment fee as well as repayment of principal and interest. The Loans Securities Act provides for the exemption from Australian tax of payments of principal and interest on overseas loans, where the Commonwealth gives an under taking to this effect. Clause 14 has been included in the Bill to ensure that the tax exemption clause in the agreement - clause 4 - will be effective so far as the commitment fee is concerned.
The agreement will be signed as soon as convenient after this Bill becomes law, and drawings will be made in the period 1st December 1967 to 31st December 1968. The borrowing will be authorised under the 1967-68 programme approved for the Commonwealth at the Australian Loan Council meeting in June 1967 and will be additional to the Commonwealth’s approved programme of $123m for State housing purposes. The terms and conditions of the loan have been approved by the Loan Council. This is the seventh occasion on which parliamentary approval has been sought for a borrowing by the Commonwealth on behalf of TAA. The earlier loans, all arranged in the United States, provided the equivalent of $A47.7m for the expansion and modernisation of TAA’s fleet, of which the equivalent of $A20m has already been repaid. The present loan, which is equivalent to $A2.5m, will make a further valuable contribution in financing an important step in the modernisation of TAA’s fleet. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Clauses 1 to 14 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Clause 15. (1.) The Governor-General may make an arrangement with the Governor of a State with respect to one or more of the following matters: -
the exercise of the powers and the performance of the functions of the Designated Authority under this Act (including the Acts with which this Act is incorporated) and the regulations in respect of the adjacent area by the person for the time being holding a specified office of the State;
the exercise of those powers and the performance of those functions by a person for the time being performing the duties, or acting for or on behalf of the holder, of that specified office;
the delegation to a person holding office in the State of all or any of those powers or functions (except the power of delegation), either generally or otherwise as provided in the arrangement -
by the person for the time being holding that specified office; and
by a person for the time being performing the duties, or acting for or on behalf of the holder, of that specified office; and
the exercise of powers and the performance of functions by a delegate in accordance with the instrument of delegation. (4.) While an arrangement under sub-section (1.) of this section, or an arrangement under that sub-section as varied under the last preceding sub-section, is in force, the person for the time being holding, or, if the arrangement so provides, a person for the time being performing the duties of, or acting for or on behalf of the holder of, the office specified in the arrangement -
is the Designated Authority in respect of the adjacent area specified in the arrangement; and
may, in accordance with the arrangement -
delegate all or any of the powers or functions of the Designated Authority under this Act (including the Acts with which this Act is incorporated) or the regulations (except the power of delegation); and
vary or revoke a delegation given by him. (5.) While an arrangement under sub-section (1.) of this section, or an arrangement under that sub-section as varied under sub-section (3.) of this section, is in force, a power or function delegated in accordance with the arrangement may be exercised or performed by the delegate -
in accordance with the instrument of delegation; and
if the exercise of the power or the performance of the function is dependent upon the opinion, belief or state of mind of the Designated Authority in relation to a matter - upon the opinion, belief or state of mind of the delegate in relation to that matter. (6.) A delegation under this section does not prevent the exercise of a power or the performance of a, function by the person who gave the delegation. (7.) A copy of:
each instrument by which an arrangement under this section is made, varied or revoked; and
each instrument making, varying or revoking a delegation under this section, shall be published in the Gazette.
– I move:
Omit paragraphs (b), (c) and (d) of sub-clause (1).
The purpose of this amendment is to limit the power of the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) to delegate all or any of his powers and responsibilities under this Bill to certain persons, the Minister being the designated authority within the terms of the measure. I might illustrate my point best by referring to the Minister’s second reading speech. Incidentally, this was portion of his speech which was incorporated by consent in Hansard and it was not read out in the House. It reads:
Although the Bills now presented are long they do not do more than cover the general outline of administrative practices which we wish to follow, consistent with laying down in sufficient detail the ground rules within which the offshore industry will have to work. The industry not unreasonably wished to have these ground rules set out clearly.
He went on to say: . . the draft regulations are by no means complete and in any case the governments wish to give industry, as the operating parties, the opportunity to discuss the proposed regulations in detail. Many of the companies have had considerable experience in off-shore work in other countries, if not already in Australia.
Might I add, they have apparently had considerable experience in off-shore work in contact with Government departments, particularly under this Government. The speech continues:
As I said just now, the record of responsibility by off-shore operators to date has been impeccable and the governments have therefore felt it preferable to bring down the legislation, dealing with the administration and policy side of off-shore work in advance of the promulgation of detailed
Operating regulations. In the meantime provision is made for the designated authority to give directions to title holders on any matters with respect to which regulations may be made.
Here I should draw attention to clause 18 of the Commonwealth-State Agreement which provides that directions inconsistent with regulations shall not be given and an exemption from compliance with the conditions of a permit, licence, pipeline licence, access authority or special prospecting authority shall not be granted by a designated authority unless there has been consultation between the Commonwealth Minister and the appropriate State Minister. That is very nice. But the point is: Are these rights to be delegated to some officer of the Department? We say that they should not be. We say that this legislation deals with a greater national asset, both in value and extent, than any other legislation that this House has dealt with, yet this Government is literally scutting away from responsibility.
We say that this Government has been notorious for delegating its powers, and at this very hour, when a shadow is over this Government in respect to the question of Ministerial responsibility, it is doing that again. Might I ask whether it will ever learn its lesson, whether it will ever realise that there are responsibilities which must be accepted by the Government and should not be delegated. In view of the imbroglio in connection with VIP planes, now, if never before, this Government should be learning its lesson and taking it to heart. It should be laying down a policy that will keep it out of trouble in the future and which will restore the prestige of parliamentary government, and its own in particular.
We say that this is legislation by exhaustion. We say that the Government has been contemptuous of Parliament in its tactics. This Bill has been brought in during the dying hours of this parliamentary session. The insertion of delegation provisions is almost a reflex action on the part of parliamentary draftsmen. They know in advance what the Government wants, and delegation is always the order of the day. If we dug back into mediaeval history we would have to go back to the point where the kings of ancient France, the Merovingian monarchs, the relics of the Holy Roman empire of that day, turned over their powers to the major-domos of the palace and finally lost it. Ministers come and Ministers go, but the civil service goes on forever.
Whilst I have no doubt as to the sense of responsibility and the high standards, ethical and otherwise, of the civil service, these powers in this Bill should definitely not be delegated. The Minister, and the Minister alone, whether Commonwealth or State, and no-one else but the Minister, should be responsible at a stage when this experimental legislation - and that is the best term that I can use for it - is being implemented, and when policy and guidelines are being worked out. The whole approach of the Government to this measure is empirical and piecemeal. The legislation depends on a ramshackle, rickety agreement. It is not justiciable. It is a legal hermaphrodite, a legal epicene, a political martingale. It is an agreement which is literally a sink or receptacle for unsolved and insoluble problems and rivalries between the States.
The Government has taken the position of agreeing to these powers being delegated and to cosy conferences taking place so that its good friends from the oil companies - its very good friends indeed, as this legislation shows - can come in and have a chat as to what might well be done in the future. We do not accept that and we will fight it to the limit. We say that the legislation is slovenly in principle, and we say that the Government is slovenly. The whole concept of this legislation is compromise, ft is a thing of shreds and patches. As a matter of fact, it will create more constitutional litigation than it was designed to avoid, lt will be a hotbed of litigation and a breeding ground for litigation. In those circumstances we say that at all costs in this measure the responsible Minister, who is responsible direct to this House, should be in charge of these negotiations. He should be in charge of all these comings and goings and of all the compromise that obviously it is realised will have to be made.
Let us take, for instance, clause 18 of the celebrated Commonwealth-State Agreement which is relevant to the clause that we are discussing. Clause 18 is an escape hatch. It has more alleys and byways in it than a rat’s nest. Under the terms of this clause, anything that exists in this legislation can be literally wiped out if it suits. To begin with, the Agreement itself is not justiciable for the best of reasons. Sovereign governments are claiming to exercise sovereign powers but it is elementary constitutional law that no constitutional government can agree to abrogate or not to exercise its constitutional powers. This is the type of patchwork that is put before us and this is the attitude of this Government. The Government is slovenly, inefficient and not prepared to face up to its responsibilities. Ministers of the Crown are quite prepared to strut and preen in this House but when it comes to discharging their duties what happens? They are not prepared to accept responsibility in a matter involving sums of money beyond ordinary conception. The honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) pointed out in his second reading speech that according to his calculations - and I accept them - one square mile of these oil bearing sands could contain 100 million barrels of crude oil worth $300m. Yet this clause demonstrates the sort of thing that this Government asks us to accept. It wants to put the responsibility on the civil servants. Well, this is not fair to the civil servants. It- is not fair to the Opposition. It is certainly not fair to the people of Australia. The Opposition rejects these provisions. We will fight this clause and fight it bitterly. We will divide the Committee on it.
– I would like to reply to the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) because I believe he has not fairly stated the situation concerning this legislation. He quite rightly indicated that there was an Agreement. As he said, in the strict sense the Agreement is not justiciable and is not a legal document in that it can be treated as an Act of Parliament. Nevertheless, it is an agreement and it was signed by the Prime Minister of Australia (Mr Harold Holt) and by the Premier of each State of Australia - Labor and Liberal Premiers alike. It is an Agreement arrived at after a tremendous amount of discussion between the industry and the Governments concerned. It is brought into this Parliament as a vehicle whereby an honoured and honourable agreement can be presented to enable a very great advance to be made in the petroleum industry in Australia. The
Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) pointed out the importance of the Agreement in his second reading speech:
The crux of the inter-relationship between the States and the Commonwealth is contained in Clause 11 of the Agreement. In brief this clause provides that in the administration of the Common Mining Code the States will consult the Commonwealth on all aspects which may affect the Commonwealth’s own special responsibilities under the Constitution.
That is precisely the way in which Clause 11 of the Agreement spells this out.
Clause 11 of the Agreement states: (1.) Except in so far as the Commonwealth Government has informed the State Government that it is necessary to do so, a State Government will consult the Commonwealth Government -
A State Government will accept, and will ensure that effect is given to, a decision of the Commonwealth Government with respect to a responsibility of the Commonwealth taken into account as aforesaid.
This, of course, is something which is not spelt out in detail in strict legal jargon. But I have sufficient faith in the way this Agreement has come about and the benefits which will flow from it for all parties concerned, Commonwealth and State alike, and the enormous advantage that will come to the nation, to believe that there would need to be a very grave reason indeed for a breakdown of the basic Agreement.
If there were to be a breakdown of the basic Agreement then there are provisions whereby the whole business becomes null and void. The Commonwealth has reserved all along its sovereign rights under the Constitution to turn round immediately and implement new legislation to cover the whole national interest in terms of the petroleum industry. I maintain that while, in the strict legal sense, what the honourable member for Cunningham has just said is true enough, nevertheless the argument on which the Government is basing its preparation and presentation of this Bill - and the several State governments are doing likewise at this time - is that it is bringing it forward as a vehicle to get over the necessity for clash and litigation and the kind of breakdown in relations which could only harm Australia.
After looking through this legislation, I say that the Commonwealth will play a formative and consultative role at every point. The very things which the Commonwealth can contribute, in terms of its strength; the great issues that have been given to it as its responsibility under the Constitution, are all covered in full without any kind of abnegation in this legislation. I believe that given a fair go by all concerned - given the willingness to see that it is not the kind of thing to be used to go into a court of law and to win a smart point, but rather that it is a matter .of principle and understanding and of agreement - this Agreement is something which the Government has been proud to bring into the House.
Stemming from the Agreement will be a tremendous upsurge in the search for petroleum. There will be a revolution in the whole understanding of this enterprise in Australia particularly when one considers - to mention just one or two things - that as a result of this legislation, 6 years after it comes into effect literally half of the enormously prospective offshore areas in Australia will become vacant. Those areas must be surrendered and reapplied for. This, in itself, will provide a tremendous opportunity for Australian companies - for companies which perhaps have not been formed yet - to prepare themselves for this time of opportunity when, perhaps, in terms of the opinions of the designated authorities of the States, some kind of preference will be given to Australian companies or those with which they are m partnership to apply for and receive some of the surrendered areas at the end of the 6 year period. The period then shortens to a 5 year period. From then on the areas covered by the exploration permit are continually surrendered.
There are other ways in which this legislation brings new and highly desirable things into the petroleum exploration industry, so far as the Governments and people of Australia are concerned. I believe that the industry has had a chance to look at these things. I have had very fair and friendly conversations, by no means easy in the sense that the oil industry was taking this lying down. There were very trenchant criticisms at times. But out of this legislation there have come, I believe, an understanding and goodwill about the business which, if we perpetuate this, will be only for the national good. I do not believe for one ment that the Commonwealth has weakly or supinely handed over its traditional powers of leadership in this Bill.
– This is the most amazing legislation to be presented to the Parliament in the history of the Parliament. It deals with one of the greatest assets that this nation has. The clause that we are considering deals with something fundamental to the economy of Australia - a pattern of development for the future of Australia. It deals with StateCommonwealth relationships. It deals with international relationships. It deals with conventions. Finally, it affects the field of defence - for Australia ultimately will be obliged to defend offshore petroleum deposits by using the Royal Australian Navy. Yet we have heard the amazing statements this evening from the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay) that while, strictly, the Agreement is meaningless jargon, has no validity in law and cannot stand on its feet, it is the best that can be worked out. He did not use those exact words, but that was the general tenor of his remarks. This is legislation born of 4 years of horse trading between the Commonwealth and the States and it now comes before us as allegedly valid legislation which, however, will have no validity in the courts of Australia. What astonishing legislation. What amazing legislation. It is fantastic and incredible that the Parliament should be dealing with such an important matter in this fashion.
I pay a tribute to our draftsmen. I can appreciate the problems that they have had because of the horse trading, bargaining, disputation, giving, surrendering and taking despite which they have prepared this legislation. I hurry to support the contention of my colleague, the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) that the Agreement is weak in every respect. It is wrong to leave the business of this nation to a public servant. In a democratic government ministerial responsibility expresses the highest thought, and the Executive is answerable to the Parliament, yet in this legislation the designated authority will be able to determine matters.
– The designated authority will be a State Minister for Mines.
– But he can delegate his power. This is clearly expressed in the legislation. Let us consider recent experience. What happened to the Chowilla Dam project? The River Murray Commission decided to stop the project. This was not announced by the Minister as a political or government decision. The Commission determined the matter and the project was stopped. When the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) wants to hide behind some authority he has a pharmaceutical advisory committee and he can claim that a decision is not his responsibility. Such a proposal in respect to a matter affecting the economic life of this nation is inadequate. The Minister has a duty to answer to this Parliament. The Commonwealth has supreme power, but in respect of this legislation we are retreating from that situation. As for the honourable member for Evans, who expressed the highest hopes that this legislation would not be challenged, I have in my possession a telegram from a responsible person - a man of integrity and of keen business standing, which states:
Consider this agreement inconsistent freedom of interstate trade.
There is no doubt that the legislation will be challenged. Clause 18(1.) of the Agreement reads:
A direction under the Common Mining Code that is inconsistent with the regulations made in relation thereto shall not be given and an exemp-tion from compliance with the conditions of a permit, licence, pipeline licence, access authority or special prospecting authority shall not be granted by a Designated Authority unless there has been consultation between the Commonwealth Minister and the appropriate State Minister or their delegates concerning the proposed direction or exemption.
What does ‘consultation’ mean? We can all have a consultation. We had an experience earlier this evening where the Leader of the House (Mr Snedden) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) had a consultation. What sort of fiasco did that result in? Consultation is not conclusive; it does not mean agreement. Unless there is agreement, consultation in itself is not enough, Clause 18 (2.) of the Agreement reads:
Consultation as provided for by sub-clause (1.) of this clause is not required -
in cases concerning which the Commonwealth has informed the appropriate State Minister that he does not consider consultation to be necessary; or
in a case of such urgency that consultation is not reasonably practicable.
Sub-clause (3.) reads:
The Designated Authority shall, as soon as reasonably practicable after a direction or an exemption referred to in sub-clause (1.) of this clause has been given or granted, whether or not following consultation in accordance with the subclause, give a notice in writing accordingly to the Commonwealth Minister together with particulars of the direction or exemption.
The designated authority has the responsibility. Surely there is a lesson to be learned in this. That the Agreement is weak is unquestionable, but Parliament ought to be supreme and ought to express itself. The Agreement reeks of inconsistency. There is a retreat from authority. The Agreement states that Commonwealth has rights but in clause 26 the following appears:
The Governments acknowledge that this Agreement is not intended to create legal relationships.
A Minister of the Crown in Victoria has announced to the whole of Australia: ‘We will not provide natural gas to New South Wales until we are satisfied concerning our situation.’ This has been said despite the fact that it has been declared that there is a sufficient supply of natural gas to last 300 years. Australia is a nation and we ought to be dealing with natural, gas found on the continental shelf as a national matter, but this legislation fails to do so.
Clause 7 highlights the weakness of the legislation. I believe that even at this stage the Minister for. National Development should have another look at the legislation. He should withdraw the Bill and give the matter further consideration. Legislation like this is far too vital for the nation, its future and its economy. New South Wales is just as much part of Australia as is Victoria and the whole of Australia ought to be considered. I shall not deal now with other aspects that may arise in subsequent discussions, but I believe this legislation represents a gross betrayal of the national concept.
– I am not unsympathetic to the amendment moved by the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor), but 1 am not quite certain it does what he says it does. I am waiting to hear from the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) about the effect it would have on administration. My feelings are deeper and are more radical than those expressed by the honourable member for Cunningham. 1 am afraid that 1 cannot go along with what I can only describe as the Pollyanna attitude of the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay) who can see no harm in anything. The whole concept of this designated authority and the way in which it will operate should engage the attention of the Committee. The designated authority, in the terms of this legislation, will have absolute authority. The authority can be qualified only by the Agreement, which will have no legal standing but which has been introduced in parallel with this Bill. 1 want the Committee to look carefully at the Agreement, because 1 think there are some catches in it. Perhaps the honourable member for Evans, because of his background, does not always see catches, but the Committee should have its attention drawn to them. Firstly, it is true that this is a moral agreement and not an actionable one. 1 want the Committee first of all to look particularly at clause 1 1 of the Agreement. This clause is vital to the nature of the designated authority. It states that the Commonwealth Government will, in giving directions, take into account certain named responsibilities, lt is a wide spectrum but not a complete one. The drafting of this clause is, 1 think, in itself a catch. If it had been honestly done it would have stated: It will take into account all Commonwealth responsibilities under the Constitution including . . .’ But it does not say that. It says that it will take into consideration only certain Commonwealth responsibilities. The phrasing of this Agreement is tricky and should be brought to the attention of the Committee. However, let me point out that the big omission from this list is development and mining. Since the Commonwealth has almost undoubted jurisdic tion in the offshore areas beyond the 3-mile limit, it has in these areas the responsibilities for mining and development as it has in Commonwealth Territories. However, under this Agreement as it is drawn, the Commnowealth abrogates all those responsibilities and it cannot give a direction to the designated authority under sub-clause 5 of clause 11 of the Agreement in respect of these vital matters. This is a point of very great consequence. If a difference of opinion arises between a State designated authority - a designated authority is a Minister of a State - and the Commonwealth, then the Commonwealth will have moral recourse to this Agreement. But it will be argued, perhaps in certain circumstances with some force, that the Commonwealth’s rights under clause 1 1 (5.) of the Agreement are very limited. Since this is in the area of argument it will be very difficult for the Commonwealth to bring moral - it will have no legal force - suasion upon the State concerned. All that the Commonwealth can do then is to alter the Act or the regulations.
Let us look at clauses 6 and 7. The Commonwealth has pledged itself not to alter the Act or the regulations without the concurrence of all States. This is not a matter which is in the area of argument. This is not something we can argue about. We either alter the Act by overt action in this Parliament or we do not. To take an overt action of that character is clear and definite and not subject to argument. So, under this Agreement, what can happen is that the designated authority, being the authority of a State, has a colourable argument on moral grounds and the only recourse that the Commonwealth can have is a clear course which is a violation of the moral agreement, lt can only be justified if it can be established that there has been a prior violation by one of the designated authorities. Thi*- is just what we will not be able to establish clearly because under the trick of drafting of clause M of the Agreement the designated authority of a State will always have a colourable argument. So in this moral and political sphere where legal action is not possible, the Commonwealth will be caught. The Commonwealth’s only action is to take a course which is in clear violation of the Agreement and which can only be justified if there is a prior clear violation of the Agreement by some other authority. But, that clear violation may not occur because, as 1 have said, of the peculiar drawing of clause 11 of the Agreement. The clause should never have been drafted in this form. The great omission from st is the Commonwealth’s rights over development and mining in what are Commonwealth Territories in the offshore areas outside the 3-mile limit. This vitiates the whole basis of the designated authority. I find it very difficult in this rather peculiar situation where we have something which has no legal effect but is said to have a moral effect and where the drawing of the clauses on which the moral effect depends is so sloppily done or perhaps so trickily done, lt has perhaps been put over the Commonwealth by the States. Perhaps the Commonwealth did not realise what it was signing. Because of the omission of those words and because of the way in which sub-clause 2 has been drawn - it has to be read in conjunction with sub-clause 3 of clause 1 1 - we have reached a position where the Commonwealth can be very much prejudiced. I think this goes far beyond the matters raised by the honourable member for Cunningham. I do not feel unsympathetic to what he has said, i am waiting for the Minister’s reply, lt may be that administration justifies this kind of delegation. However, delegation is not of prime importance. What is of prime importance is the nature of the designated authority itself. Even if we had no delegation, the powers of this Parliament would still be given away and given away virtually forever if this clause is passed in this fashion. Instead of doing this, which is not terribly effective, 1 would prefer to look at the substance of the Agreement later on, particularly in relation to the vital matter of exploration permits which is far more important than the matter of production licences.
– 1 want to bring before the House one point in connection with offshore oil and its control by overseas organisations. The result of agreements such as this inevitably leads to the ultimate total control of the offshore resources.
– Order! 1 remind the honourable member for Scullin that at this given moment we are discussing clause 15 which is concerned with arrangements with the States in regard to designated authorities. It has nothing to do with offshore drilling and matters such as that.
– On a point of order regarding your ruling, Mr Chairman. This clause deals with the whole sweep of the Bill, lt says that every power that the Minister has under the Bill can be delegated to a designated person. That being so, any matter to which this Bill relates can be debated under the terms of this clause.
– In regard to the point of order raised by the honourable member for Cunningham, 1 point out that the clause 15 which we have before us does not deal specifically with the overall matter of oil research. It is particularly related to the authorities within the Stales themselves. The honourable member for Scullin started to speak to this clause in general terms. He referred to offshore drilling and overseas control. He was in effect making a second reading speech. It had no relationship to the terms of clause 15, which is now before the Committee.
– [ want to make a small point that is relevant to clause 15. It relates to the designation of authority and is of importance. I hope the Minister will be able to explain coherently how this operates, especially as it affects the Commonwealth administration and the State administration of the agreement. Tt seems to me that once we delegate authority either by a State Minister or by a Commonwealth equivalent, we enter into the realms of Commonwealth and State responsibility. The Agreement has been said to have no legal standing; it cannot be made law. We therefore have the operation of a designation of authority with respect to some of the most important decisions that must be made in this country. One of the problems of this designation of authority will arise between the Commonwealth and the States when decisions must be made regarding the issue of exploration licences. The right to delegate authority in this way does not seem to be satisfactory, especially when the Agreement is not binding in law and when the rights of the States to grant leases for areas on the continental shelf are in question. 1 urge the Minister to explain in his reply how this provision will work in practice, especially with respect to the operation of designation of authority as between the Commonwealth and State responsibilities. This is important. It is particularly important when we have in mind that the decisions taken by the Commonwealth and the States could sometimes be different in intent.
– I find it a little difficult to follow some honourable members through the avenues into which they have diverged. It may not be a bad idea if we were to settle now some of the issues that may bedevil us throughout the debate if we continue as we have started. As I understand it, we are discussing an amendment moved by the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) to clause 15. I assume that if his amendment is adopted, the GovernorGeneral and the State Governors between them will come to an arrangement about the designated authority who, poor fellow, will be required to perform every act in the administration of this legislation. He will be unable to have anybody carry out the functions for the time being or to delegate any of his powers. Surely this is completely opposed to the orderly running of any government department and I think the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) should realise this.
However, that is beside the point. While we have been speaking in general terms - I presume that later, Mr Chairman, you will bring us all back to the subject very smartly - there has been some discussion about State and Federal relations as they arise under this Bill. Whilst the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) may find that the natural background of his good friend, the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay), prevents him from seeing harm in anything - they are the exact opposites in this debate - the very unnatural background of the honourable member for Mackellar sees harm in everything. So we arrive at a balanced approach to the problem.
– Whose side are you on?
– I am trying to stand right in the middle, because I cannot understand the attitude of either of them. At the moment we are going through the process of moving a number of amendments. The Opposition has given notice of some, the honourable member for Mackellar has given notice of some and I have given notice of some. I believe that quite a few of the provisions of the Bill require amendment. However, this legislation has been described as mirror legislation. It has been introduced into the six Houses of the States and into this House at the same time. To all intents and purposes it is physically impossible to have an amendment made. Suppose only one amendment was suggested in this House and one in each of the State Houses, all on a different subject. The telephone lines around the continent would run hot, but still there would be no possibility of reaching a sensible conclusion. So we are faced with a proposition that, despite the brave words of the honourable member for Cunningham about putting everything to the vote, fighting to the last ditch and so on, all we can do is to bow to the inevitable and face the realities of life.
All I want to say at this time is that we have approached this legislation, which records the remarkable achievement of agreement being reached between all the States and the Commonwealth, from the wrong point of view. I thoroughly applaud the fact that agreement has been reached between the States and the Commonwealth. Much of our legislation is developing in this way. We have had complementary legislation in the States and the Commonwealth on such matters as marriage, divorce and trade practices. We have many examples of the complete co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States on various forms of legislation. But in all cases the Commonwealth has brought in the legislation first and then provided an opportunity for the people who are vitally concerned to suggest amendments. In those circumstances the Minister might consider it reasonable to accept some amendments. In this flurry of amendments that we are proposing tonight there may be some that could be considered reasonable. I believe we should register a protest at the procedure that has been adopted. Although it has been a remarkable achievement to obtain agreement between the States and the Commonwealth on this complicated subject, I believe it would have been much better had we introduced legislation in this chamber first, settled the matter according to what we thought should be done, and then arranged for complementary legislation to be passed by the States.
[11.211 - I rise to refer to a constitutional matter raised by the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth). He referred to clause 11 of the Agreement, and particularly to sub-clause 2. He placed an interpretation on this which, he said, resulted in the conclusion that the Commonwealth had failed to exercise, or had parted with, its power in respect of development and mining in the offshore area covered by the Bill, which he described as ‘territory of the Commonwealth’. I leave on one side any claim that the States might make to the offshore area outside the 3-mile limit, but let us be quite clear that the chief basis on which the Commonwealth would make a claim to exercise sovereign rights over the sea bed in that area would be the external affairs power.
Neither the Commonwealth nor any one of the States claims the sea bed as territory. It is not territory. Indeed the territory of the States and the Commonwealth finishes at low water mark. What happens beyond that is that we have certain sovereign rights in respect of the sea bed and certain rights in respect of the area covered by territorial waters. Beyond the territorial limit, 3 miles from low water mark, we have what are called ‘sovereign rights’ for exploration and exploitation of the sea bed, extending out to the edge of the continental shelf. This power that the Commonwealth has in relation to exploration and exploitation of that sea bed is based on the external affairs power. If we look through clause 11, sub-clause 2, of the Agreement we see that external affairs is listed as one of the Commonwealth responsibilities that must be taken into account. In fact, it is perhaps the most relevant matter of them all. The greater includes the lesser, and included, therefore, is the Commonwealth power in regard to development and mining of that particular area. I wish to add that the Government does not accept the amendment.
– I think the time has arrived for the Government to consider holding this legislation over. My information is that it will be some weeks, and perhaps some time early in the New
Year, before certain of the States will agree to legislation on this subject. If that be so I cannot see that any good purpose will be served by rushing this legislation through. The Government has done everything it can to negotiate this Agreement and prepare this Bill in an endeavour to reduce the possibility of litigation, but it appears to me that the Bill now before us will increase the possibility of long and tedious litigation. It is very difficult for a layman to assimilate all that is contained in this Bill, but let me say that a similar position arose in regard to the legislation dealing with the proposed reserve price system for the marketing of wool.
– Order! I suggest to the honourable member that the subject he is now dealing with has no relevance to this clause of the Bill.
– I am simply reminding the Committee that we were ridiculed because we applied business principles and knowledge to the reserve price plan legislation and we were laughed at, but the woolgrowers took our advice. Now we have the spectacle of New Zealand-
– Order! I repeat that this has no relevance to the Bill. I say also that the suggestion regarding the Government delaying the presentation of the legislation has also no relevance to the clause that is now before us.
– I am sorry, Sir. I say again that this clause offers every possibility of producing litigation in the future. If other clauses offer similar possibilities the Government would be well advised to do nothing at this stage about the Bill, or about this clause in particular, and should allow it to stand over until every State has passed legislation. From the information available to me there are two or three States that will not pass the legislation until early in the new year.
– The Government has only itself to blame for the position in which it finds itself. Had it done what any normal government would have done it would have exercised its undoubted sovereign rights over the continental shelf. On that matter I agree with the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen). There is not the slightest doubt in my mind that it is under the external affairs power that the Commonwealth could claim jurisdiction - plus, of course, the international convention. But irrespective of the powers listed in clause 1 1 of the Agreement, a declaration of abject dependence is contained in clause 5 of the Agreement which says:
Except in accordance with an agreement between the Commonwealth Government and the State Governments, a Government will not submit to its Parliament a Bill for an Act that would either -
amend or repeal an Act that is contemplated by the preceding provisions of this Part; or
in any material respect affect the scheme of the legislation that is contemplated by this Agreement.
This would be all very well if everything were for the best in the most perfect of all worlds. But on the question of good faith, which was referred to by the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay), we have had the Premier of Victoria already bucking his brand off, even before the legislation went through in his own State, much less here. If this mirror legislation were to be acceptable it should have been determined and passed here, in this sovereign Parliament of the nation, before it was farmed out to the various States, despite their signatures to this shandygaff Agreement. Had that been done these points could have been considered. But now we are asked to accept a package deal.
To return to the Premier of Victoria I quote from the ‘Financial Review’ of Thursday, 19th October:
Victorian Premier Sir Henry Bolte said yesterday that New South Wales would not be able to get cheaper gas than Victoria as a result of the Commonwealth-States agreement.
Delightful evidence of good faith!
He said the annexe to the agreement, under which the States agreed to encourage interstate sales of gas, declared the common intention of the parties not to discriminate against interstate trade.
He said this made the annexe a ‘two-edged sword.’
Sitting suspended from 11.30 p.m. to 12 midnight.
Thursday, 2 November 1967
– Before the suspension of the sitting I was reading from the Financial Review’ of 19tb October. I was referring to a comment by Sir Henry Bolte. I feel that I should read it again for the benefit of honourable members in the House. The article stated:
Victorian Premier Sir Henry Bolte said yesterday that New South Wales would not be able to get cheaper gas than Victoria as a result of the Commonwealth-States agreement. He said that the annexe to the agreement, under which the States agree to encourage interstate sales of gas declared the common intention of the parties not to discriminate against interstate trade.
He said this made the annexe a ‘two-edged sword’ and it would be discrimination if New South Wales were to get gas cheaper than Victoria. He said that letters of intent exchanged between himself and the Prime Minister also ruled out the possibility of such sales through the pipelining authority given to the State Governments.
At this stage I do not want to discuss the correctness or otherwise of the Victorian Premier’s statement, but merely to point out that if this is evidence of good faith I would hate to see evidence of bad faith. There could not be a more deliberate attempt completely to distort and to destroy this Agreement before it has even gone through his own House or through any other House of Parliament in any of the States. This is the man who is supposed to be a party to a gentleman’s agreement. I am only sorry that the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) is not present in the chamber to comment on this particular point because as the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) said there is some very cunning drafting in this legislation. There is also some very cunning drafting in the Agreement between the States. I am glad that the AttorneyGeneral has come into the chamber. I would like to hear his comment on Mr Bolte’s attitude. As I have said, some very cunning drafting and some very peculiar wording appears in the legislation and in the Agreement between the States. Of course, the seed of that peculiar wording was laid in the letter-
– In the Agreement or in the Bill?
– No. I am referring to Sir Henry Bolte’s statement that any attempt to sell gas in New South Wales at a lower price than that at which it was being sold in Victoria would be a breach of the Agreement.
– Why should not Victoria get it cheaper?
– The honourable member for McMillan can have his say later. He is not worth answering. The letter of 16th February from the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) to the Premier of Victoria was the key to the situation. The second paragraph of the letter states:
We are agreed that Victoria should not be required to approve any transaction for the sale of natural gas interstate which would have the effect of putting Victoria at a disadvantage in relation to that interstate purchaser, having regard to the following:
Adequate reserves are available to meet contractual obligations already entered into;
The conditions of such sale and their relation to sales already effected in Victoria:
This is the gentleman that the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) and the Government would have us believe will act in good faith and honour this Agreement to the letter. It is absurd. It is ridiculous. The Government is too hardened in the error of its ways to show any shame or embarrassment in the process.
Turning to the question of the powers of delegation, for the information of the Committee I shall read clause 16. Of course, the designated authority in the case of the Commonwealth is the Minister of State for Territories. This is the point at which we cavil. Clause 16 (2.) states:
The Minister of State for Territories, as the Designated Authority . . . may, by instrument in writing, delegate to a person all or any of his powers or functions under this Act (including the Acts with which this Act is incorporated) or the regulations either generally or otherwise as provided in the instrument.
Sub-clause (3.) states:
A power or function so delegated-
– Order! I remind the honourable member for Cunningham that at the moment we are dealing only with clause 15.
– Yes, but the full description of the powers of the Minister as the designated authority or his counterpart in any State is shown in clause 16. The point is that any power whatever that the Minister possesses under the Bill can be delegated to some other person. It is true that he could be quite a reputable person, but he would have power to make all sorts of compromises and deals, to give licences for production, to give permits to enter and explore, to vary terms of contract and to negotiate on the question of royalties. Further than that, in the light of the Minister’s speech and with the imperfect state of the legislation because of its stated limitations, because it is empirical, tentative and immature, because guidelines have to be established and principles have to be worked out, this delegatee, whoever he may be, would have the right to exercise this power. No civil servant was ever before vested with such power as it is proposed to give under the terms of delegation in the proposed Act.
– Could the honourable member name one mining Act which does not have this power of delegation?
– It does not matter. This is the most important legislation that has ever come before the Parliament. There is more at stake in the way of the value of national assets in this legislation than in any other legislation that has been dealt with in this Parliament. The Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) knows it and the Attorney-General knows it. We object most strongly to it. There has not been one word said up to date on behalf of the Government which could convince me or the public of this nation as to the right of the Government to delegate this power.
– I wish to say a few words about the delegation of power. It seems to me that there is a complete misunderstanding or misrepresentation on this matter. The honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) would seem to indicate that what is implied here is that the Minister of State for Mines in one of the various States of Australia would hand over, hoi us bolus, every kind of function and responsibility that is placed on his shoulders under this legislation to a public servant - he uses that word in the lesser sense - or in some other way dispose of his personal responsibility. As the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) has just indicated by way of interjection, any mining legislation necessarily indicates that the Minister for Mines must have a large retinue of highly responsible technical people who will carry through multifarious duties of inspection for the fulfilment of the vast number of things that are necessary to give effect to this particular Bill.
What is meant by ‘delegation’ here or, in the case of the Minister for Territories, no doubt, in the Northern Territory, is that the Administrator of the Northern Territory would be made the designated authority if this were the Minister’s will. That would simply perpetuate what the Administrator does now through his own mining department and through his own expert officers in the department in fulfilling all these very same functions with regard to the highly successful working of the mining legislation in the Northern Territory. Therefore I do not see that there is anything sinister in the delegation of power. I see it as a necessary and obvious part of the carrying out of the authorities and responsibilities that are necessary to a designated authority under this legislation.
– I had hoped that the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Bowen) was going to say something about the administrative necessity - not the law - of this power of delegation. I think that there is some substance in what the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay) has just said in regard to it. But on the other hand, there is some substance in what the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) has said in regard to it. I think that I would prefer to deal with this matter in another way - admitting that there is something to be dealt with. Let me put it this way: For administration it is necessary to have some power of delegation. What is objectionable, I think, is that the things done under the terms of this measure, whether they are done by the designated authority or by the delegate, will not be subject to full publication. This, I think, goes to the root of the matter. If honourable members look at clauses 76 and 94, they will see that there is provision for registration and publication of certain extracted particulars in regard to permits and licences and the variation of them. I do not want to anticipate debate on these clauses. I merely say that to my way of thinking, they are grossly defective. It is at this point rather than at the power of delegation that we should try to amend the provisions of the Bill.
The honourable member for Cunningham is quite right: We are dealing with matters of great substance and tremendous pecuniary value. When the Commonwealth Government or any other government is entering into contracts of this character the full particulars - not merely extracts of the particulars - of those contracts and any variation of them or any exemption under them should be published in the ‘Gazette’ and should be available for inspection.
This, I think, is where we should try to meet the valid point that has been raised by the honourable member for Cunningham.
– ‘What has this to do with delegation?
– The point made by the honourable member for Cunningham was that matters of great substance would perhaps be dealt with by civil servants who are accountable to nobody. The proper remedy for this, Sir, is to see that particulars of these matters of great substance are made available for public inspection and for criticism in this chamber if necessary.
May I now turn to another point that seems to me to be of even greater importance. To put it mildly, I was surprised at the remarks made by my honourable and learned friend, the Attorney-General. They indicated to me that I had not explained my point clearly. If the Minister had taken it correctly, he would not have spoken as he did, I think. This Agreement which is the subject of his comment is not a legal document; or shall I say that it is not a document enforceable by law. The only sanction for its enforcement is the sanction of political and moral action.
– It is like a treaty.
– That is correct. In these circumstances, it is not a case of what is the legal interpretation; it is a case of what is the colourable interpretation. If the Attorney-General will turn his mind back to the genesis of this Bill, he will see that its whole fabric is dependent on a certain doubt about where the external affairs power lay in relation to these territories of the continental shelf. The States, whether rightly or wrongly, make a claim that has never been determined in law, though I believe that they are wrong. They claim that the exercise of the external affairs power by the Commonwealth does not apply to the issue of licences for offshore areas even outside the 3-mile limit. The proof that they have interpreted the situation in this way is seen in the very simple fact that they have purported to issue licences. The Commonwealth proposes to recognise them under the terms of this measure. This is the substance of the whole matter. If this doubt were not raised by the States, the Bill would never have been in its present form. For the Attorney-General to say now that the exploration and development of these offshore areas is covered by the external affairs power of the Commonwealth is to beg the whole question. If he is right, there is no reason for the legislation to be in this form.
Let me now come back to the point that all that is needed to make this clause operable against the Commonwealth in a way in which we do not want it to be operable is for there to be a colourable argument. There is a colourable argument. The States have claimed it, and the Commonwealth has admitted it, as is shown by the casting of the Bill in this form. In my view, it is at least surprising for the Attorney-General to forget these points and to try to bring forward this idea that the external affairs power covers the whole matter. The fact that he does this indicates to me that, unfortunately, I did not make my previous argument clear. I thought that I had made it clear to honourable members. Apparently I had not done so, for there is nobody in this chamber who is more acute at picking up these things than the Minister is.
The drafting of clause 11 (2.) of the Agreement is very peculiar, to say the least. Why was it not drafted so as to provide that the Commonwealth Government should take into account ‘all Commonwealth responsibilities under the Constitution, including’ the matters set out in paragraphs (a) to (g)? It was not drafted in that form at all. It was drafted to provide that the Commonwealth Government should take into account ‘the following Commonwealth responsibilities under the Constitution’, and they are then set out in paragraphs (a) to (g). It virtually states that no other Commonwealth responsibilities under the Constitution shall be taken into account. If there are any Commonwealth responsibilities that are not included in paragraphs (a) to (g), the Commonwealth has given them away. If there are no Commonwealth responsibilities other than those, why was the clause drawn in this peculiar form? It seems to me that this requires a good deal of explanation. In this matter, we are concerned not with strict legalities but with colourable arguments. We have to think again when we find the Attorney-General ignoring the substance of the whole matter - the fact that the ambit of the external affairs power in regard to offshore mining for oil has been called into question by the States and that the Commonwealth has at least admitted so much doubt about the matter as to lead to the Agreement and this measure being drawn in this peculiar form. When we look at the fact that the States, whether rightly or wrongly, would have a colourable argument and that the whole of the Commonwealth’s only remedy under clause 6 of the Agreement would rest on a basis in relation to which there was no colourable argument, we see how this legislation leaves the Commonwealth caught in the grinders.
Mr Chairman, this whole matter of the delegation of authority is very important. The letters exchanged between the Prime Minister (Mr Harold Holt) and the Premier of Victoria, the Agreement that we have before us and the second reading speech made by the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) indicate that what we are discussing is not in fact delegation of authority but retention by the Commonwealth of some minor powers over territory that is within its own sovereignty. In this Bill and especially in this clause, this Government proposes to pass out of Commonwealth control the whole of the continental shelf of Australia and all the resources of oil and gas that have been or may be found in the area of the continental shelf.
The amendment before the Committee is to delete paragraphs (b), (c) and (d) of subclause (1.), clause 15. This sub-clause allows for the delegation of power not only to the Ministers for Mines but also to other persons. I submit that the responsibilities of this Parliament to the people of Australia are such that it should not allow the delegation of any powers of this Parliament or allow any of the sovereignties of this Parliament to pass beyond the control of the Parliament. As the honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) and the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) have pointed out, there would appear to be extreme doubt as to whether the Commonwealth or any parliament in the Commonwealth will at all times have persons exercising this delegated power who are responsible to a parliament in the Commonwealth. I do not claim to have the legal knowledge of the other speakers, but from events in the last week we have already seen what can happen when a Minister does not accept the responsibility for the administration of his Department. Clause 15 (1.) reads:
The Governor-General may make an arrangement with the Governor of a State with respect to one or more of the following matters:
the exercise of those powers and the performance of those functions by a person for the time being performing the duties, or acting for or on behalf of the holder, of that specified office;
the delegation to a person holding office in the State of all or any of those powers or functions (except the power of delegation), either generally or otherwise as provided in the arrangement -
by the person for the time being holding that specified office; and
by a person for the time being performing the duties, or acting for or on behalf of the holder, of that specified office; and
I submit that there is already evidence that this Parliament is passing from its control sovereignty over the natural assets of Australia, and the Agreement makes it impossible morally, not legally, for this Parliament to act to correct those mistakes in the future unless it repudiates the Agreement it has made. The Agreement clearly sets out that the Parliament is not entitled to alter any of the terms of the Agreement unless all of the States agree to those alterations. This is the way in which the Agreement is set out. We are proposing to legalise this Agreement by allowing this delegation of power.
I submit that the States will not all be affected in a like manner by the final passing of this legislation. I also submit that the passage of time may well provide evidence that some States have been dealt with poorly by the Agreement and that their Premiers may not have been as far-sighted as they may think. Should the necessity arise at a later stage to alter the Agreement because some States which should be advantaged by the Agreement may be disadvantaged, there is no way the Agreement can be altered other than by breaching it. I hope that this Parliament will not enter into legislation on this basis. I believe that we should eliminate these clauses that I have referred to. I also believe, as I have already said, that prior to passing this Bill there should be a far more detailed study of it. Honourable members have only to look at the number of amendments which are now proposed by members of the Government Parties to realise this. One honourable member opposite has already said that he believes he is wasting the time of the House by bringing amendments forward because he believes that by passing this legislation we will be doing something wrong with relation to the States. Another member has said that we should defer consideration of this Bill.
I believe that the proper course would be to defer consideration of this Bill until it can be studied in a far more leisurely manner. In that way, those studying the Bill will have time to go through it thoroughly and understand its full import to Australia and the full implications as to our sovereignty. These clauses do appear to make it possible for the delegation of power to persons other than State Ministers and to persons other than those responsible to this Parliament. I do not believe that this is proper. I believe that the sovereignty, with which this Parliament is charged, should remain with this Parliament.
Motion (by Mr Fairbairn) put:
That the question be now put.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman-Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority . . . . 26
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Question put:
That the paragraphs proposed to be omitted (Mr Connor’s amendment) stand part of the subclause.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr P. E. Lucock) Ayes .. .. ..59
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Amendment negatived.
– I move:
Omit sub-clauses (4.), (5.), (6.) and (7.).
My comments on this amendment would be the same as I made on my previous amendment.
That the sub-clauses proposed to be omitted (Mr Connor’s amendment) stand part of the clause.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority . . . . 30
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Clause agreed to.
Clause 16 (Designated Authorities - Territories).
– The Opposition is opposed to this clause also, and for good reason. We find - and we have yet to hear the Government’s explanation - that there has been a switch in the administration of this measure. If any Minister is to administer the Act it should be the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn). He is the gentleman who has claimed for this Government credit for the tremendous mineral development that has taken place in Australia. According to his story, tremendous wealth is pouring into Australia, and we should praise the Government from whom all blessings flow. The Minister claims that the Government has been responsible for the remarkable discoveries that have been made in the field of minerals during its term of office. Does the Minister for National Development suggest that the Minister for Territories (Mr Barnes) is more capable of administering this legislation than he is or is there another and very different reason for this arrangement? The Minister for National Development has been in all the negotiations for this measure. He has been in all the dealings that have taken place and alt the conferences of State Attorneys-General and State Ministers for Mines who are his counterparts. Now, the
Minister for Territories who, in terms of knowledge of this legislation is a tyro, is to come into the field and take over from him to administer this legislation. This is a Bill in respect which the Minister for National Development in his second reading speech said that the Government was moving along experimentally and that it had not finalised the regulations. In fact, the Government had to confer at some length and in great detail with its good friends the mineral companies as to the final form in which the regulations would be crystallised and the guidelines under which this Bill would be finally administered. All of these matters are to be turned over to the Minister for Territories. Mr Chairman, could we have a little silence from the magpies opposite?
– Order! I suggest that the House come to order, lt is the early hours of the morning and 1 think it might assist the Committee if the course of conversation might be restrained.
– Can the Minister for National Development tell me of a single instance in which the Minister for Territories participated in any of the discussions or negotiations with the States in relation to this measure? Now, in his pristine innocence on this matter, he is to be put in charge of it. Could there be anything more sinister than that? Is complacency expected? Is it that the Minister will be more than amenable to the control of his senior departmental officers? What is going on behind the scenes in the whole of this matter? Why the indecent haste to put this measure through? Why the limited time that is given to us to discuss this matter?
I do not want to reflect on the capacity of the Minister for Territories. He has his functions to perform and he does his best. But we want to hear from the Government its explanation - and it needs to be given - as to why this switch is to be made in administration. No man in this Committee is more familiar than the Minister for National Development with the ramifications of this Bill. No man has made clearer than the Minister for National Development the limitations of this measure. No man in this chamber knows better than the Minister for National Development the perils and the pitfalls associated with this legislation. No man in this House knows better than the Minister for National Development the nature of the bargaining that has gone on. He knows the cantankerousness and capriciousness of the different States and the dangers associated with them. The Minister knows well and he has competent legal advisers to tell him what will happen when the constitutional wrangle starts on this matter.
In respect of mining generally, let us look at coal mining regulations. This is very relevant to the clause before the Committee. The Minister for National Development deals with coal mining. His counterparts - and he well knows it - are the Ministers for Mines in the various States. In respect’ of each of the States under the terms of clause 15, the designated authority undoubtedly would be the Minister for Mines and no-one else. In some of the States the portfolio of Mines is a lesser one and is associated with other matters. The portfolio of Mines does exist in every State in Australia. The Government, for its own good reasons - and I do not believe that its reasons are very good - insists upon the Minister for Territories being the Minister in this case. Not one word was mentioned on the subject by the Minister for National Development in his second reading speech. The clause was to be slipped through quietly at this late hour of the night. It was hoped that the Opposition would allow the clause to pass unchallenged. The Opposition challenges it and wants to hear the Minister’s explanation of it. Unless the explanation is a good one the Opposition is not prepared to accept the clause.
– The last matter raised by the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) was in relation to the application of clause 16. The scheme is that the designated authority appointed under arrangement with the GovernorGeneral, or the Governors of the States in the case of the States, has vested in him the authority that belongs to the Commonwealth and the authority that belongs to the States. But the day-to-day administration - the daytoday grant of permits and production licences, consideration of conditions, etc. - is committed to the various States in relation to the area adjacent to each State’s coast. In the main it might be expected that the designated authority would be the Minister for Mines in each State.
The Northern Territory is a Commonwealth Territory which has a continental shelf adjacent to it. The corresponding administration is the Administration of the Northern Territory, with its Department of Mines. Therefore one might expect, by analogy, that the Minister for Territories would be the designated authority with the power of delegation to the Administrator and he would act on the advice of the Director of Mines or his assistants in the Department of Mines. What other position could be nominated to correspond with the position that is now accepted in relation to the States? I would have thought it was plain from the legislation that this was the logical thing to do. The Minister for National Development is not to be concerned with day-to-day administration in relation to either State or Territory areas. The Minister is not the head of any State Department of Mines or the Northern Territory Department of Mines. It would be quite illogical that the Minister for National Development should undertake this function in relation to the Department of Mines in the Northern Territory.
– The explanation tendered by the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) is not accepted by the Opposition. The Minister has made confusion worse confounded. He suggests that there will be dual control. There will be the Minister for Territories and the Minister for National Development. This will occur with the delegated authority referred to in clause 16. The clause is certainly alarming. It reads:
The Designated Authority in respect of an adjacent area that is an area specified in the Second Schedule to this Act as being adjacent to a Territory is the Minister of State for Territories.
I pause there and take up the fight left by the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor). Quite apart from the relative merits of the capacity of the Minister for National Development or the Minister for Territories, surely the Parliament accepts that the Minister for Territories has more than enough to deal with at the present time, without accepting a responsibility of the magnitude involved in this legislation. Let us look over the task. Or is the Minister merely to allow the designated authority to act without reference to himself as the Minister? Is the Minister for National Development to concern himself with petroleum products within the Commonwealth and the Minister for Territories with petroleum products externally? Surely this comes back to another argument submitted by the Opposition and that is that Australia should have a national fuel policy and a minister for fuel. We have submitted this proposition over and over again.
The clause states: (2.) The Minister of State for Territories, as the Designated Authority in respect of such an area, may, by instrument in writing, delegate to a person all or any of his powers or functions under this Act (including the Acts with which this Act is incorporated) or the regulations either generally or otherwise as provided in the instrument. (3.) A power or function so delegated may be exercised or performed by the delegate -
It would appear that this will be left exclusively to the delegate. The Minister for Territories, as we know, has a full time job administering the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. But there is a principle in this that is perhaps more grave than all the other matters of time and distance and all the other problems. It is that the delegate will be determining questions of supreme importance behind closed doors and will not be responsible directly to the Parliament. If this were a small contract or if it dealt with some minor department, we would expect a Minister to be responsible, but a matter dealing with the petroleum industry and its operations on the continental shelf is to be referred by the Minister of State for Territories to a delegate. This is not good enough. The public interest is not being served. It is the responsibility of this Parliament to protect the public interest in this matter and for that reason, unless further information is supplied, the Opposition will be obliged to vote against the clause.
– We are spending a long time tonight and unhappily will spend much more time getting this legislation through the Committee. One would expect that there would be some coherence, logic and elementary information used by the Opposition when it criticises the legislation. Opposition members say they have not had time to study it; yet what is being presented now in the form of serious argument discloses either humbug or complete ignorance of the functioning of Australia. Let me take the second of the alternatives. There is no doubt whatever that the counterpart of the Minister for Mines in the several States is not the Minister for National Development but the Minister for Territories. The Minister for Territories is directly responsible for the mines activities in the Northern Territory. He is the Minister responsible for undertakings, contracts and agreements between mining companies and the Northern Territory and therefore the Commonwealth. The Minister for Territories in every instance is the counterpart of the designated authorities of the several States. This should be known for it has been for so many long years.
So far as delegation of authority is concerned, the Minister’s authority is delegated to the Administrator in many matters and the Administrator delegates many authorities to the Director of Mines. Under him, of course, every document that is presented in such matters as this is dealt with by an official at some level. His word and his action in some ways is a delegated authority. This provision says nothing new. It says nothing that is to found in other legislation. It adds nothing to the functions of the Minister for Territories nor does it detract one jot from the functions of the Minister for National Development. In my opinion the presentation of this argument is a deliberate attempt to delay the legislative process. It will bring about the legislation by exhaustion that the Opposition, on the face of it, is decrying.
That the clause be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority . . . . 30
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause 17 agreed to.
Clause 18 - Reservation of blocks.
_ There is, according to naturalists, a wellknown phenomenon in the insect world. When a spider stings a fly it does not do so for the purpose of killing it, but merely to paralyse it so that it will remain immobile and available for consumption at a later date. With this clause we sense precisely the same technique in operation in relation to what might be called plum areas. Once oil exploration really starts, once cores are made available, once information gets around among scouts for rival companies, once it is known that there is a particularly desirable area that might hold a lot of oil - and it might be an area that a company operating in a particular sector cannot acquire under the Government’s policy as outlined in subsequent clauses of the Bill - nothing could be better than the cosy arrangement that can be made under this clause. The designated authority - the Minister for Territories foresooth - can, in the words of the clause: by instrument published in the Gazette, declare that a block specified in the instrument (not being a block in respect of which a permit or licence is in force or over or in which there is a pipeline) shall not be the subject of a permit, licence, special prospecting authority or access authority and that a pipeline licence shall not be granted in respect of a pipeline over or in that block. (2.) While a declaration under the last preceding sub-section remains in force in respect of a block, a permit, licence, special prospecting authority or access authority shall not be granted in respect of that block and a pipeline licence shall not be granted in respect of a pipeline over or in that block.
In other words it can be frozen; it can be immobilised, at the whim, at the will, at the caprice, at the discretion of the designated authority or, under the clause which has just been rammed through, his delegate. That is what the Government proposes and that is what it expects the Opposition to accept. That is the form in which it frames this legislation. In the vernacular it smells. This could be the genesis of a Teapot Dome scandal. It is the kind of thing we object to most strongly. It smacks of hole and corner methods.
I refer again to the second reading speech of the Minister for National Development (Mr Fairbairn) in which he said:
However, tire draft regulations are by no means complete and in any case the governments wish to give industry, as the operating parties, the opportunity to discuss the proposed regulations in detail. Many of the companies have had considerable experience in offshore work in other countries, if not already in Australia.
By the same token their footwork inshore, particularly in lobbying, could allow them to buy up a very valuable sector of land. The honourable member for Mackellar cited accurate figures when he said that in oil bearing strata with 80 feet of sand there could be in 1 square mile 100 million barrels of crude oil. The pegged and accepted price of that crude oil in Australia is $3 a barrel, so that the deposits could be worth $300m.
– I will sell the honourable member some shares if he wishes.
– The honourable member is a rather good share salesman, and a very good speculator. In a situation such as I have outlined, the limits are fantastic. The Government has already dissipated and squandered the national heritage pf the people of Australia. An area of 750,000 square miles of the continental shelf has already been allocated in one form or another - by exploration permits or production licences. The Government is capable of giving away anything. We do not trust it, nor do the people of Australia. The Government has given us no reason to trust it. This legislation is being introduced by hole in corner methods and the manner of its drafting does not inspire trust. It is a rotten agreement which has been brought into this chamber. It is a piece of impertinence that is not justifiable. It would not stand up if subjected to challenge, and the Attorney-General knows that is true. So does any other lawyer who is worth his salt. But on that basis the Parliament is asked to give the Government approval to freeze land in the fashion set out in the Bill. No! Land of this nature, the value of which is known, should be put up for tender. Let tenders be called in the proper way. Let the people who are capable, willing and anxious to develop the land do so. We do not want land frozen in this fashion, just as a spider stings its prey and leaves ft for future consumption. This legislation is rotten and it stinks. It is a disgrace to the Government. We do not accept it. Can any member of the Government justify it? Let him speak now if he can. If not, we will brand honourable members opposite for what they are.
Apparently it gets worse as we go on. The honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) bas not paid the Bill even elementary attention, or the Government or the Parliament the attention they deserve. Had the honourable member studied section 15 of the Agreement he would have seen spelt out there the reasons behind the clause we are discussing. The extravagant language that the honourable member has just used left me aghast He spoke of a responsible, elected Australian government exercising its authority with regard to these very important issues as a matter of whim, will or caprice. He used other adjectives as well. He suggested that the Government would act in an irresponsible way. The concept he expressed is ridiculous because on the one hand he and his fellows have been castigating the Government for giving away willy nilly huge areas of Australia. Now we are discussing a clause that gives the Commonwealth the right to reserve a block for defence purposes - for constitutional reasons and by acting within the powers and responsibilities of the Commonwealth - but we are subjected to a tirade such as the honourable member has just delivered. It seems to me to be absolutely farcical. There cannot be any kind of meaning or sense hanging to the honourable member’s words.
He described the Agreement as being rotten and one that no lawyer worth his salt would contemplate. Let me remind the honourable member for Cunningham of a lawyer in South Australia by the name of Dunstan. He is the Premier of South Australia and one of the signatories to the Agreement. He is urgently and eagerly looking forward to the implementation of the measure as a worthwhile piece of legislation. What are we talking about?
– In reply to the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay) I quote the following:
The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.
– That is the third time that I have heard the honourable member say that in this place.
– It is time that the honourable member for Evans took it to heart because he has been rather ambivalent in (he whole of his interest in this matter. He has a perfect right to be so. The honourable member for Evans is attempting to mislead the Committee. There was never the slightest intention of this reservation being made for defence matters. It is one of the clauses and this Bill is studded with such clauses which have been put in at the behest of the oil companies as a result of their lobbying. This has been going on. Who would know better about this than the honourable member for Evans? The lobbying has been going on. The clause has been put in the Bill for their specific purpose.
There is not the slightest doubt as to what it is intended to do - to freeze and to paralyse. Let the honourable member for Evans get up and deny it if he can. He cannot do so.
The clause is there for one purpose. This Government has already pushed through the Committee a clause which allows a dele.gatee to deal in thousands of millions of dollars - in fantastic sum of money. This Bill is nothing more than a conspiracy to give away Australia’s assets. Ninety per cent of the capital of the oil companies that are busy around the Australian coast is foreign owned already. The honourable member for Mackellar (Mr Wentworth) raised this point in his speech on the second reading of the Bill and we give him credit for it. The technique in many cases is not to develop certain areas but to lock them up. The honourable member for Mackellar mentioned that in the world today there is a serious overproduction of oil. If one looks through the list of the companies that have been given permits and production licences one finds that there is not a major oil company in the world that is not represented either directly or indirectly. There is not an oil company in the world that is not represented and that is not interested in manipulating the degree of the production of oil and natural gas in this country. They are locking it up and they intend to keep it that way. Tn particular cases it might suit them to develop a particularly rich area. But in the main at the present time there is an over-production of oil in other parts of the world. These international companies are in Australia and they have this Government in the hollow of their hands.
Clause agreed to. Progress reported
The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment:
Sugar Agreement Bill 1967. National Health Bill (No. 2) 1967.
Newspaper Report - Political PartiesVietnam
Motion (by Mr Snedden) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn. Mr LEE (Lawler) [1.21 a.m.]- I am sorry to delay the House at this late hour, but I think it would be remiss of me if I did not correct the impression created by an article which appeared in a Melbourne newspaper last week and which stated that the St Albans area would receive the wooden spoon. No doubt those honourable members who come from Victoria are aware of a report on social status of Melbourne suburbs which appeared in the daily newspapers recently. I wish to correct a false impression which has been created in the western suburbs.
The people in that area are of the opinion that this report was brought out at the instigation of the Government. I should like to deny that. The research scholar who made the report is named Dr Lancaster Jones, who is on the staff of the Australian National University. In his report he placed such suburbs as Toorak, Balwyn and Brighton at the top of the social scale and suburbs such as Fawkner, Braybrook, Campbellfield, Deer Park and St Albans very close to the bottom. It is not surprising that people in these last mentioned areas are hostile. I have studied the report. It indicates that a good deal of research was carried out, and although I do not doubt the motives of Dr Jones, I do question whether a person with such obvious ability could not have applied his talents to some more useful activity. I have spoken to Dr Jones concerning this newspaper report and he assures me that the report was not intended for general publication. But, the report having leaked out, he has to take some share of the responsibility for this matter. Without wishing to delay the House, I emphasise that the Government was not responsible for having this report prepared.
I should like now to quote what the Reverend Father Reis of the Sacred Heart Presbytery in St Albans had to say about this report. He is reported in the ‘Observer* of Thursday, 19th October as having said: all this talk of high-grade and lowgrade suburbs seems to me to be based on material considerations only, and, therefore, not to be taken too seriously by real people but to be left snugly in the small minds of the snobs and social climbers.
I have lived in St Albans for IS years and have no desire or ambition to live anywhere else.
I think even the people of St Albans will agree that they have not the facilities that Toorak or Balwyn has, but, like other outer suburbs, the St Albans area is now in the process of change.
– They certainly have. AH these areas have to go ahead. There has to be a start at some stage. No doubt Toorak and some of the other city areas were in the same position themselves at one time. The people of the area about which I speak have a great deal of civic pride and I am sorry that this report has reacted so much against the area.
In conclusion, I re-emphasise that the Government had nothing at all to do with the production of the report, lt was prepared by a scholar from the Australian National University who had no authorisation whatever from the Government.
– Mr Speaker, I realise that it is late, but I do not apologise to the House for keeping honourable members awake at this late bour. However, I shall get what I have to say over as quickly as possible. As we shall have a Senate election in 3 weeks, I would like to mention some of the techniques that were used by the Australian Labor Party in the Federal general election campaign of 1966. In particular, I refer to a pamphlet that was distributed under the title ‘Special Federal Election Supplement’. It dealt with Vietnam, and in it the ALP claimed that the late President Kennedy bad said: ( am frankly of the belief that no amount of American military assistance in Vietnam can conquer an enemy which is everywhere, and has the sympathy and support of the people.
The publication of this claim caused quite a lot of concern throughout the country, and many people wondered how on earth President Kennedy could ever have said anything like this. However, the chief reporter of a Sydney newspaper, I understand, investigated the matter and discovered that the Australian Labor Party had played about with the words of a statement that bad in fact been made by President Kennedy on 6th April 1954, before he became President of the United States of America. He was referring to the war in Indo-China, and the correct version of his words was:
I am frankly of the belief that no amount of American military assistance in Indo-China-
Honourable members will notice the substitution of ‘Vietnam’ for ‘Indo-China’ - can conquer an enemy which is everywhere and at the same time nowhere, ‘an enemy of tha people’ which has the sympathy and covert support of the people.
This was a case of the Austraiian Labor Party, merely to suit its own ends, twisting the words of a man who had been a popular President.
– It was vicious.
– As the honourable member says, it was a vicious twisting of President Kennedy’s words, and something that we on this side of the House can only deplore. The Labor Party, in the same election campaign, twisted the words of the Pope also in an attempt to present a case showing that the Pope was on side with it. I also direct the attention of the House to Hansard of 6th May 1965, which records that the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), who was then Deputy Leader, stated that John F. Kennedy had said:
I am frankly of the belief that no amount of American military assistance in Indo-China can conquer an enemy which is everywhere and . . has .the sympathy and . . . support of the people.
It is obvious to me, Mr Speaker, that the Leader of the Opposition, more than anyone else in Australia, was aware that the Labor Party was presenting a false case during the last election campaign. I do not know whether, as Deputy Leader, he considered that because of the control exercised by the left wing of the Party he was not in a position to say anything about the situation or whether he was prepared to go along with the misrepresentation in the hope that the Australian people would be deceived. I hope that this matter will be brought to his attention and that now that he is Leader of the Labor Party he will assure this House that these tactics will not be used in the 1967 Senate election campaign and that the statements of men such as the Pope and the late President Kennedy will not be twisted and misquoted to suit the ends of the Australian Labor Party and to accord with its policy on Vietnam. We all know that its policy is still the same as it was in 1966. I hope that members of the Labor Party will see fit to lift themselves from the gutter - I really mean that, because I feel very strongly about this - in the presentation of their election campaign on this occasion.
– I am enthused to make some observations in reply to the comments from the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron). It is quite obvious that facts will not bc sacred in his hands, and at no time will he allow his progress in this Parliament to be impeded by any want of accuracy. do not want to waste any time on the way in which he has propagandised certain statements. All that I do want to observe is that the honourable member for Griffith, who is so keenly concerned about the war in Vietnam and who heartily and enthusiastically endorses the use of conscript Australian lads in this war, is himself of military age. He is a young, vigorous man. We have seen him moving about the precincts of this Parliament and obviously he is vigorous.
– He is married. One does not expect a married man to go away.
– No, he is not married.
– I thought he was.
– No, the honourable member has misunderstood the position. Now he will agree with me that the honourable member for Griffith ought to be a volunteer to establish a sort of standard, to give encouragement to other young people in the community. Indeed, it is this sort of encouragement that other young people would need, such as those young people in the Young Liberal movement. I never cease to be amazed that there are so many people in the Young Liberals, so many of these active, healthy young Australians who hold mass rallies which are indoctrinated by the extreme, somewhat deficient factually, statements by people like the honourable member for Griffith. Surely the honourable member for Griffith ought to use his persuasive powers as an orator to encourage these people in the Young Liberal movement to join the Army and go to Vietnam so that young Australian lads will not have to be conscripted to be sent there. If he did this sort of thing we would be much more impressed with his sincerity and the complete integrity with which he puts forward his concern about this horrible war in Vietnam and about the urgently pressing need for it to be brought to an end speedily.
There does seem to be something ironic about the honourable member standing up in this House after he has been well fed and enjoyed the convenience and the benefits of the comfortable precincts of this House, and talking about the war in Vietnam, the need to get on with the job, and the need for sacrifice from young Australians. Although he may not have said these things directly, they were implicit in what he was saying. He will go home and sleep between a couple of clean sheets in a comfortable bed and snore heartily throughout the night while young Australian conscript lads are sleeping in dirty, probably water-filled, foxholes in the jungles of Vietnam. They are suffering discomfort; he is enjoying comfort. They want to get out of the war in Vietnam. They want to bring it to an end. He wants it to continue. He endorses the policy - if one can discover what that policy is - of the Government, and he endorses the sending of conscripts to Vietnam just as long as he is not one of them.
– What does the honourable member think is keeping tura here?
– 1 think he is reluctant at heart.
– Does the honourable member think he is scared?
– How old are you?
– I am old enough to have enough sense to realise the stupidity of the policy of the Government and to know that the honourable member who interjected is suitably fit to join an infantry unit and go to Vietnam. There, too, is another member of this brigade of the valiant from the back benches of the Liberal Party, the young vigorous ones who make sure that they will not have to go to the front line in Vietnam.
– The man from Adelaide - what is his name?
– There is another man who could very well be seen in Vietnam, not as a visiting entertainer but as a front line trooper. He has discovered that more money is to be made in this country by staying at home and talking about the glories of a war which other people are fighting. The Australian public and the honourable members on the Government back bench ought to reflect for a while on the hypocrisy, on this lack of sincerity. If they really believe all of these things that they say there is nothing in the Constitution and the laws of this country to prevent them from volunteering while they are members of this Parliament to serve in the Army and go to Vietnam. If they did this sort of thing we would be much more impressed. There are so many of them in the back benches of the Liberal Party who could fulfil this function without any trouble at all.
At the present time the young conscripts represent about 40% of the Australian troops in Vietnam. This is a significant climb above the 30% which we were told would be the composition of conscripts. There would not be any need for the number of conscripts to be as high if honourable members in the back benches opposite - the young, vigorous ones who make a fortune by talking about the glory of fighting and dying in this war and about the need for further troops in Vietnam - went to Vietnam and took with them the enthusiastic members of the Young Liberal organisation throughout Australia, the young members of the Democratic Labor Party and the young members of the Australian. Country Party. If that happened we would be impressed with their sincerity when they stand in this House and talk in the way that they do.
Question resolved in the affirmative. House adjourned at 1.36 a.m. (Thursday)
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
Why was Frank Vernon Read (Militia No. S29734 and A.I.F. No. SX27861) passed medically fit All by Dr Hussey in July 1940, compulsorily inducted into the Army and later accepted as a volunteer into the A.I.F. and allowed to serve for 1,705 days continuous full-time war service, including 1,181 days active service in Australia, when he is now refused a T.P.I, pension for epilepsy on the ground that his present condition is hereditary and existed at the time of his enlistment?
– The answer to die honourable member’s question is as follows:
When medically examined in March 1940, Mr Read recorded a history of one epileptic fit. He was appropriately medically classified and employed in a suitable position during his compulsory and A.I.F. service. Mr Read suffered no attacks of epilepsy during service. When discharged in July 1945, he indicated that his only illnesses during service were respiratory and that he had no disability resulting from his service.
The question of a repatriation pension is a matter for the appropriate Tribunal set up under the Repatriation Act and it is understood that Mr Read has exercised his rights in this regard.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
What procedure has been adopted concerning equal pay for Arboriginal employees of the Commonwealth, pursuant to my question of 9th March 1966 (Hansard, page 57) and his answer of 10th May 1966 (page 1663)?
– The answer to the honourable members question is as follows:
On 10th May 1966, 1 indicated that the question of rates of pay for Aboriginals in Commonwealth employment was under consideration and in June 1967, the Administrator of the Northern Territory made a public announcement in Darwin outlining the decisions reached in giving effect to the Commonwealth’s intention of implementing its policy of non-discrimination and equality in the field of employment opportunities and conditions.
The position is that Aboriginals employed by the Commonwealth in the Northern Territory are, with certain exceptions where conditions are under active consideration, paid full award rates and receive full award conditions.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows:
No record is kept of the racial origin or racial admixture of persons employed by the Commonwealth. However, inquiries indicate that four full-blooded Aboriginals are employed by Commonwealth Departments in Western Australia, two of whom are linesmen in the Postmaster-General’s’ Department and two are groundsmen in the Department of Civil Aviation.
asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
An officer or soldier of the Permanent Forces, other than the Regular Army Reserve, shall not take any active part in the affairs of any political or municipal organisation or party, either by speaking in public or publishing or distributing literature in furtherance of the purposes of any such organisation or party or in any other manner.’
A person called up for national service, upon presenting himself for service is deemed to be enlisted in the Regular Army Supplement and to be engaged to serve in that force for 2 years. The Regular Army Supplement is part of the Permanent Military Forces. During his period of service in the Regular Army Supplement a national serviceman is subject to Australian Military Regulation 210a.
The extent to which a national serviceman, who is a member of the Regular Army Supplement, may legally participate in the activities of a peace movement depends on the exact nature and objects of the movement. If the particular peace movement is a political organisation within the meaning of Australian Military Regulation 210a, then the provisions of this regulation apply to him. This does not debar him, however, from membership of the organisation, but merely restricts him from taking a prominent and active part in its affairs. This rule is common to all those involved in the service of the Commonwealth, including members of the Commonwealth Public Service and the Armed Services.
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– Before answering the honourable member’s specific questions . it may be useful to comment generally on the matter of aerodrome suitability for Fokker Friendship aircraft.
The ports served by MacRobertson-Miller Airlines can be divided into three broad categories:
Experience has shown that some natural surfaced aerodromes, although they may become unserviceable in wet conditions, can be maintained in a generally satisfactory condition for dry weather operation, provided that the number of Friendship services .is limited to one per week. On the other hand some natural surfaced aerodromes, even with this frequency, deteriorate from time to time to an unsatisfactory condition for Friendship operations, due to rough surfaces or similar factors.
Experience has also shown that where more than one Friendship service per week operates, it is normally necessary to provide a gravel runway, preferably with sealed ends, to ensure that the aerodrome can be maintained in a satisfactory condition for this increased traffic.
Against this background, the answers to the specific questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
What amount was spent on:
How many: (a) males and
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Males 2,911; Females 362 4. (a) Failure to meet medical standards.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
– The Minister for Education and Science has supplied the following answers to the honourable member’s questions:
The information asked for is not available from the published reports of the State Education Departments. The Australian Education Council, which comprises the Ministers of Education of all the States, did however provide some details in the ‘Statement of Some Needs of Australian Education’ and these may be of interest to the honourable member. They are as follows:
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice:
Will the changes proposed by the Copyright Bill 1967 enable Australia to become a party to:
– - The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows: 1. (a) Yes. (b) Yes.
The Copyright Bill would have to be amended in the following respects to enable Australia to become a party to the Stockholm revision of the Berne Convention:
No consultations have been held with the States. I have under consideration the question of the additional legislation required to enable Australia to become a party to the Convention and whether the Commonwealth should legislate by itself for that purpose.
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Any reports of the Bureau are intended primarily for the information and advice of the Government and as I have previously stated in this House, Parliament will be informed concerning the work of the Bureau when it is deemed appropriate. Certain reports and studies of a technical nature have been prepared by the Bureau and 1 have deemed it appropriate to approve their release. These are available in the Parliamentary Library.
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows: 1 and 2. Members of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission and directorships of companies held by them are: Sir John Williams, C.M.G., O.B.E.:
City Ice & Cold Storage Pty Ltd Australian Dredging & General Works Pty Ltd John Propert Pty Ltd S. & P. Holdings Pty Ltd Stothert & Pitt (Aust) Pty Ltd
United Salvage Pty Ltd Auto Transport Pty Ltd Fleetways (Holdings) Limited
Mr H. P. Weymouth, C.B.E.: English Electric Co. of Aust Pty Ltd H. P. Gregory & Co. Ltd McDonald Hamilton & Co. Pty Ltd Australian Computers Pty Ltd
G. C. Singleton & Co. Pty Ltd Mr D. Bell, O.B.E.:
H. L. Brisbane & Wunderlich Ltd Swan Television Limited
Bell Bros Holdings Ltd
Mr A. G. Thomson, O.B.E.:
No directorships held.
Mr D. C. L. Williams, CB.E.:
No directorships held.
Each Commissioner has disclosed his interests as required by Section 13 (2) of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission Act, and has withdrawn from any deliberations with respect to contracts in which they are directly or indirectly interested as required by Section 13 (3) of the Act
Australian Capital Territory: Licensed Clubs (Question No. 674) Mr Devine asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
How many registered licensed clubs are operating in the Australian Capital Territory?
How many are (a) sporting and (b) recreation clubs.
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows:
The production of a separate telephone directory for Canberra subscribers is being considered in conjunction with a general review of telephone directory presentation.
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows:
The question proceeds on a misunderstanding of the nature of copyright. The Commonwealth does not claim copyright in the evidence as such. The Commonwealth owns the copyright in the transcripts of proceedings which are reported by the Court Reporting Branch of the Attorney-General’s Department. These transcripts may not be copied without consent if the. copying would infringe the copyright in them. This copyright continues for SO years from the date of first publication of the transcript concerned.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
What are the numbers of personnel according to rank and Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act category numbers in respect of each of the armed services of all those members who were enlisted prior to 14th December 1959?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The numbers of service personnel who enlisted prior to 14th December 1959 and who are contributing to the DFRB Fund on the basis applicable to entrants to the Fund prior to that date, are listed below according to rank and DFRB category number.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
In view of the referendum on 27th May 1967, and despite his answer to me on 28th October 1966 (Hansard, page 2424), will he now obtain statistics for each State on the number of Aboriginal children (a) of school age and (b) in primary, secondary and technical schools?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Tables showing the Aboriginal population in each State according to age and the number in each age group who were engaged in full-time education at the time of the Census will be compiled as a special part of the - 1966 Census publication programme which is currently in progress.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice:
What was the average cost in 1966-67 of prescriptions dispensed by:
private chemists for eligible Repatriation Department patients under the agreement with the Federated Pharmaceutical Service Guild of Australia, and
The Department’s own chemists?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Housing, upon notice:
– The Minister for Housing has supplied the following- answers to the honourable member’s questions: 1 and 2. The maximum loan and the minimum deposit required by each of the State housing authorities for the purchase of a home erected under the 1956-1966 Housing Agreement are as follows:
In addition, the housing authorities of some States Housing Agreement. The maximum loan and the administer home purchase schemes which are minimum deposit applicable in these cases are as financed from sources other than the 1956-1966 follows: Yes, there have been a number of variations to the amounts of maximum loan and minimum deposit over the last 10 years. The following is a comparison of the present position with that of 10 years ago where these variations have occurred: For homes erected under the Housing Agreements: In 1957 the Housing Commission, Victoria, required a minimum deposit of 5% of the first $4,000 plus 10% of the balance of the purchase price, whereas the minimum deposit is now $200, and nil in some cases. The South Australian Housing Trust's 1957 maximum loan of $5,500 and minimum deposit of $600 have been eased to 'no prescribed amount' for the advance and a minimum deposit of $100. The State Housing Commission of Western Australia in 1957 offered a maximum loan of $5,500 with a minimum deposit of $100. As indicated in the answer to 1 and 2 above, the maximum loans are now $6,000 and $5,800, and the minimum deposits 10% of valuation and $200, for the mortgage and contract of sale schemes respectively. For homes financed from sources other than the Housing Agreements: The Queensland Housing Commission has raised its maximum loan for a house built on the applicant's land from a range of between $4,800 and $5,500 (depending on construction material) in 1957 to $8,000 at the present time. For a house built on Commission land the minimum deposit has been varied from 5% of the capital cost in 1957 to $500 in 1967. In 1957 the South Australian Housing Trust was not providing first mortgage finance for its own sales scheme as it is doing at present, although it was making advances on security of a second mortgage in some circumstances. The State Housing Commission of Western Australia has increased its maximum advance on mortgage under its freehold scheme from $5,000 in 1957 to the current $6,000. The contract of sale scheme listed in 1 and 2 above was not in operation in 1957. For the Leasehold Scheme the minimum deposit was usually $50 in 1957 compared with $200 at present but there has been no change in the amount advanced. There has been no change in the second mortgage scheme.
– On 9th March 1967, the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) asked me a question about Northern Territory land laws.
I have been informed, and the honourable member is also no doubt aware, that a Bill to amend the Crown Lands Ordinance was introduced into the Northern Territory Legislative Council in May 1967. The proposed changes in the law resulted largely from an inquiry into pastoral and agricultural leases in the Northern Territory which had been begun some two years earlier. The changes proposed which had the support of the Government were incorporated with minor amendments in the Crown Lands Ordinance which was passed in August and assented to in September 1967.
I am also advised that as a consequence of these changes pastoral lessees may now carry out agriculture on pastoral land. A pastoral lessee may apply to the Administrator for an agricultural lease (or leases) over land held by him under pastoral lease but used by him for agricultural development. If the Land Board is satisfied that the pastoral lessee is complying with the terms and conditions of his lease and there is a reasonable prospect of agricultural development of that land being carried on successfully, the Administrator may offer an agricultural lease (or leases) to the pastoral lessee. As regards maximum size, while the legislation provides for a maximum size of 100,000 acres the actual size of a lease will be determined by the economic area required on the particular land for commercial farming. The maximum aggregate area that can be held by one person or interest under agricultural leasehold is 200,000 acres and such agricultural leases may be disposed of with the consent of the Administrator.
The land specifically referred to by the honourable member is Tipperary Station which is held under pastoral lease granted in I 960. Whilst this land may be developed by the lessees for agricultural purposes, the proscriptions of the Crown Lands Ordinance apply, namely that an agricultural lease in perpetuity over , any of the land so developed will not be granted to the lessees beyond an aggregate holding of 200,000 acres at any one time, and the disposal of agricultural leases so held is subject to the consent of the Administrator.
As to the suggestions made about, the water resources of the Daly River, I am informed that Territory legislation prevents any person from impeding the flow of natural waters without a permit. Similarly a permit is required, other than under riparian rights, to draw water from the Daly River. I am also informed that the Tipperary Land Corporation have not applied for a permit under the legislation.
– On 29th August the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) asked me a question without notice about the obtaining of separate health and mortality statistics for Australian Aboriginals.
The development of separate health and mortality statistics for Aboriginals may well give rise to difficulties of identification and definition. However, as I said in my statement to the House on 7th September 1967, the new Office of Aboriginal Affairs will be concerned with policy co-ordination between the Commonwealth and the States. Any statistics which may be required to make this work complete and effective will, as far as possible, be assembled. When I announced the formation of this Office I also said that the Commonwealth would continue to co-operate with the States in special campaigns to improve the health of Aboriginals. The collection of statistics to assist in any such campaigns will be considered as the need arises-.
– On 19th September, the honourable member for Corio (Mr
Scholes) asked a question concerning educational difficulties experienced by migrant children because of their lack of knowledge of English. I said I would see whether I could supplement the answer I gave on that occasion.
I am advised that this is a matter with which both the Department of Immigration and the Department of Education and Science are concerned, and about which discussions have been had with State Education authorities.
There is no doubt that a child who comes to Australia from a country where English is not spoken does meet with difficulties, particularly where his parents do not speak English. However, I am informed that all States have introduced some special provisions to cope with the language problems of migrant children and the relevant Commonwealth Departments will, of course, continue to maintain their interest in the question.
Newcastle Sports Arena
– On 28th September, the honourable member for Shortland (Mr Griffiths) asked me a question relating to the possibility of allowing donations of $2 or more for the Newcastle sports arena project as deductible for income tax purposes.
I have discussed the question with my colleague the Treasurer who has advised me that representations for the allowance of gifts to the project have been considered on a number of occasions, the most recent being when the 1967-68 Budget was in course of preparation. It has not, however, been among the concessions the Government has decided to grant.
I might add that it is not practicable to extend the gift provisions of the income tax law in each instance in which it can be shown that an appeal is being conducted for a worthwhile cause. Thus, while there is no doubt as to the worthwhile nature of the Newcastle project, its circumstances are not considered to warrant the application of the gift provisions. There is the further very practical consideration that if gifts to the Newcastle project were to be allowed, it would be difficult to refuse to extend similar treatment to other projects of this type. This could lead to a significant loss of Commonwealth taxation revenue which would need to be made good, other things being equal, by increasing the rates of taxation.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 1 November 1967, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1967/19671101_reps_26_hor57/>.