House of Representatives
25 September 1969

26th Parliament · 2nd Session

Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. 3. Aston) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.

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Mr WHITTORN presented from certain citizens of the Commonwealth a petition showing that Edith May Jewell has been endeavouring to prove that worthy exservicemen are being denied justice by the Repatriation Appeal Tribunals.

The petitioners pray that your honourable House will prevail upon the Government (a) to introduce legislation to amend the Repatriation Act to enable exservicemen to have legal representation before Appeal Tribunals, and (b) to make it compulsory for the Repatriation Department to supply ex-servicemen with copies of their medical and Service history on receipt of the initial claim.

Petition received and read.

Aircraft Industry

Mr UREN presented from employees of Hawker De Havilland Australia Pty Ltd a petition showing that dismissals are taking place in the aircraft industry.

The petitioners pray that the Federal Government will take urgent measures to plan a light aircraft industry based on the requirements of general aviation and the commuter airlines; that off-set payments be negotiated with the aircraft manufacturers; and that the requirements of the services be co-ordinated and standardised.

Petition received and read.


Mr BRYANT presented from certain citizens of the Commonwealth a petition showing that -

  1. the Commonwealth Parliament has acted to remove some inadequacies in the Australian education system.
  2. a major inadequacy at present in Australian education is the lack of equal education opportunity for all
  3. more than 500,000 children suffer from serious lack of equal opportunity.
  4. Australia cannot afford to waste the talents of one sixth of its school children.
  5. only the Commonwealth has the financial resources for special programmes to remove inequalities.
  6. nations such as the United Kingdom and the United States have shown that the chief impetus for change and the finance for improvement come from the National Government.

The petitioners pray that the House will make legal provision for -

  1. a joint Commonwealth-State inquiry into inequalities in Australian education to obtain evidence on which to base long-term national programmes for the elimination of inequalities.
  2. the immediate financing of special pro grammes for low income earners, migrants, Aborigines, rural and inner suburban dwellers and handicapped children.
  3. the provision of pre school opportunities for all children from culturally different or socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

Petition received and read.

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– I ask the Treasurer: Does he recall that with the introduction of legislation for the imposition of stamp duties in the Australian Capital Territory he said that one of the major reasons for this legislation was to prevent the Australian Capital Territory from being used as atax haven for financial institutions and companies seeking to evade payment of these taxes in the States? Does he recall saying that it was necessary to have the legislation to close the loopholes by which these firms were evading the payment of stamp duties in the States? Has he now refused to vary the decision of the Commissioner of Taxation which denies exemption from payment of stamp duty on cheques to pre-school centre committees which work for the equipment and maintenance of Government controlled pre-school centres? Does this decision mean that pre-school centre committees, mothers’ clubs, school auxiliaries and parents and citizens associations must continue to pay stamp duty on cheques they draw in the Australian Capital Territory? Does the Minister know that under New South Wales legislation these bodies are entitled to exemption from stamp duty on cheques? Finally, I ask: How petty can the mightyCommonwealthbecome?


– I will have a look at the question. The honourable gentleman must realise that this question involves not only the interpretation of the law but also the powers and authorities of the Commissioner of Taxation.

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– My question is directed to the Acting Minister for Labour and National Service. What action does the Government propose to take in connection with the Cockatoo Dock strike?


– I have had a very good look at the problem that has been raised at the Cockatoo Dockyard, mainly because the claim there is based, in certain circumstances, on a similarity of working conditions at Garden Island. When the position is looked at it can be seen that the conditions of work and the payment scales at Garden Island are quite different from those at Cockatoo. In some cases the advantage lies with Cockatoo and in other cases it lies with Garden Island. But so far this is a dispute between the unions concerned and the management. Secondly, it has to be pointed out that as yet the New South Wales Trades and Labour Council and the Australian Council of Trade Unions have not become involved in the dispute.

I believe that the procedure that was announced in the metal trades case is a wise one. In other words, there should be a cooling off period to permit conciliation to take place. That conciliation was attempted by Mr Commissioner Winter, but his efforts failed. In my view, the wise course to follow here would be to handle this dispute with a great degree of care and to let the management itself take the responsibility, because this is a dispute in which the Commonwealth cannot interfere. The wise course would be for the management to play it with a great degree of calmness in the hope that wiser counsels will prevail. What I can assure the honourable gentleman is that I am in close contact with the Department of Labour and National Service. If there is anything further that I can say at a later stage on the advice that it tenders to me, I will attempt to give the information.

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– I ask the Minister for the Interior: Has any member of the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory resigned to contest the forthcoming elections for this House as such a member would have to do under the provisions of the Bill which this House passed 4 weeks ago? Can the Minister explain the slow progress of this Bill in another place where at least a dozen Bills introduced after it had been passed before it? If the Minister is having difficulty in securing the passage of this Bill concerning the Northern Territory, will he at least endeavour to secure before this House rises a vote on my Bill of 7 November last to give that Territory and his other ministerial responsibility, the Australian Capital Territory, the opportunity to vote for representation in the other place at next month’s elections?

Minister for the Interior · GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA · CP

– I do not think I could guarantee the Leader of the Opposition that [ could arrange what he seeks in the last part of his question. I think that the stage which the business of this House has reached at this point in time is such that it would not be practicable for me even to suggest it to the Leader of the House. In relation to the first part of the question on the situation of the member of the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory, on Friday last I sent him a telegram telling him that the Senate, if I can call it that - I am not sure - had not had time to pass the legislation by the date that it needed to be gazetted. The legislation needed to be gazetted by Monday, 22nd September. That was the date on which any Legislative Councillor wishing to stand at the forthcoming elections had to resign his seat statutorily under the legislation.

The Senate did not pass the legislation last week. If the Bill were to be passed this week and the Legislative Councillor had not resigned voluntarily by the 22nd of this month, he would be prevented completely from being a candidate for the House of Representatives elections. As we do not wish to prevent the Legislative Councillor, if he so desires, being a candidate at all, I then suggested to the Leader of the Government in the Senate that the legislation should not be proceeded with in this week because this is the effect that it would have. This leaves the Legislative Councillor in exactly the same position in which he was in 1961 when he resigned voluntarily to meet this position after receiving legal advice.

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– The Treasurer will know of my interest in the state of the economy. Will the right honourable gentleman advise the House and the nation of the overall economic position and the prospects for continuing economic progress?


– Like the honourable gentleman, I too am very interested in the state of the economy and its future prospects, but I can assure him that he has reasons for confidence and reasons for optimism in the same way as I have. I think that all the constituents of Bendigo equally have a good reason for confidence in the operations of this Government. Sir, as I see the position today and as I analyse the various signs that are coming forward, I believe that these do indicate in clear and unmistakable terms that the economy is moving forward in a progressive way.

In other words if we look at the employment figures we see that the number of registrants is continuing to fall. The number of job vacancies is continuing to rise. Housing commencements and building construction on a quarterly basis are continuing to rise and so too is the registration of motor vehicles. No matter where we happen to turn, including our trade figures, we will find that developments are proceeding in a way that was anticipated by the Government. I can assure the honourable gentleman that the prospects for the immediate future look equally good. In conclusion, I may say that I hope that this message will get home not only to the whole of the Australian community but also to the constituents of the honourable gentleman in Bendigo as well.

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Mr Speaker, I direct a question to you. If you manage to escape the wrath of the democrats of Phillip on 25th October and if the Gorton Government is equally fortunate, and if, as a result of these happenings, you are again elected

Speaker of the House of Representatives, will you call an early meeting of the Standing Orders Committee of the 27th Parliament to consider amendments that will give the Speaker power to intervene at question time if he considers that a Minister is taking up too much time in his reply, or if a Minister reads a prepared reply to an obviously pre-arranged question, or if the Minister makes provocative and insulting remarks such as: ‘The honourable gentleman who asked this question merely displayed his complete ignorance of the subject’?


-Order! The question is far too long.


– I had to get my crack in against the Treasurer, Mr Speaker. Finally, will you, Mr Speaker, modernise the Standing Orders to bring them more into line with those of the British House of Commons?


-I would say that the British House of Commons has of late adopted some of our procedures. The suggestions that the right honourable member has made will be considered. I want to remove any doubts that he may have about my tenure of the seat of Phillip. I will bc pleased to bring this matter to the notice of the Standing Orders Committee for its consideration.

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– I direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. Can the Minister say how long it will be before he may expect a decision from the wool industry on the announced wool marketing proposals?

Minister for Primary Industry · RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– I announced last Sunday the Government’s offer to the wool industry. It was in reply to a recommendation from the wool industry for the upgrading of the Australian clip and for better presentation of it on world markets. It involved the relinquishment of control by the owners of 1-, 2-, and 3-bale lots. The members of the Australian Wool Industry Conference are now reporting back to their individual organisations. I presume that each of those organisations will look at the Government’s offer and decide whether it is acceptable or not. The Australian Wool

Board has been doing a cost benefit analysis of the proposal that was put to the Government. This was examined by the Government. Apart from our assessment of the cost benefit analysis we decided that there were also some features of the proposal that were not acceptable to the Government and we felt that certain improvements or refinements of the proposal would result in greater efficiency and effectiveness. In the light of the Government’s reviewed offer to the wool industry the Wool Board is now doing a new appraisal of the cost benefits. When this is done the Board will present it to the Australian Wool Industry Conference which in turn will distribute it to its constituted organisations. I should think that if everything went like clockwork, if there were no snags at all and everybody agreed - and I think that is asking a lot - the arrangement could come into operation at the beginning of next year. But T think a more realistic forecast would be that after full examination and discussion of the matter, and acceptance by the industry, it would be more likely to commence about the middle of next year.

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– I address my question to the Prime Minister. In view of the Russian naval presence in the Indian Ocean, does the right honourable gentleman still consider it to be sound strategy to station small Australian forces in Malaysia and Singapore, thousands of miles from Australian support? Has it not been one of the lessons of military history that isolated forces cannot be maintained without guaranteed lines of communication to their home bases? Or is he considering an agreement with the Russians to help keep our sea lanes open?

Prime Minister · HIGGINS, VICTORIA · LP

– The answer to the second part of the honourable member’s question is no, as I am quite sure he realises and realised before he asked it. The answer to the first part of the question is yes, I believe that it is in Australia’s interest and in the interests of the region in which we live that there should be stationed in the area to our north in Singapore and the Peninsula of Malaya Australian forces - ground, air and naval - and that there should also be given to those countries assistance in the defence field to build up their own forces of the kind, for example, that this Government gave when it gave the Sabre aircraft to help build up the air force there. I think we need to demonstrate that we do have an interest in this region, that we do have an interest in seeing that it is not overrun by an external attack, and that being so we need to have our troops stationed in accordance with what we say and believe is in the interests of Australia’s defence.

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– I desire to ask the Treasurer a question regarding taxation. Has he seen or heard of a questionnaire that has been sent by the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation in Victoria to taxpayers who have engaged in trading transactions on the stock exchange, particularly in the shares of oil and mining companies? Does he realise that questions in this most comprehensive questionnaire call for a considerable amount of detail which the small investor just does not have available? Is the questionnaire drafted to discourage trading on the stock exchange in this type of mining exploration?


– I have recently seen the questionnaire to which the honourable gentleman refers. It was sent by the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation in Victoria to those taxpayers who had disclosed a profit or a return in excess of $500 for the year. The second point I wish to bring to the attention of the honourable member is that the intention of sections 77a, 77aa and 82 of the existing law is to give an incentive to investors in oil and mineral exploration companies. No action that the Commissioner or the Deputy Commissioners take can be in contravention of the law. The third point I would like to make is that the Commissioner himself has instructed the Deputy Commissioners throughout the Commonwealth to cease the practice of making these inquiries. Until he has had a good look at the procedures and until he can get a uniform procedure throughout the Commonwealth, this practice will be discontinued.

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– I ask the Prime Minister a question about delays in dealing with salary claims by Commonwealth public servants in the Fourth Division. I remind the right honourable gentleman that when a claim was lodged on behalf of officers in this Division in 1963 increases were not made until 1967. Was an application lodged with the Arbitrator in early July? Have requests by the Federal Secretary of the Commonwealth Officers Association, Mr B. McMullen, for a conference been refused by the Public Service Board? As senior publice servants in the Second Division and Third Division have recently been granted pay increases, will similar consideration be extended to the 29,000 officers in the Fourth Division, which includes clerical assistants, typists, investigation officers, chainmen and machinists?


– I am not aware of the situation which has been reached regarding the claim before the Public Service Board or the request for arbitration to take place or what steps along that road have been made. This is a matter of normal Public Service Board procedure - at least the normal Public Service Board procedures are being used. I will seek to discover for the honourable member just when the claim was lodged and what position it has now reached.

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– Has the attention of the Minister for Education and Science been drawn to reports that Australian research has been closed down as a result of takeovers of Australian companies by overseas companies? Will he advise whether this is so and also the extent of the growth of support for non-governmental research in Australia?

Mr Malcolm Fraser:

– Governmental research has increased very greatly through the Government’s official organisations, such as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. Support for non-governmental research has also been greatly increased in recent times through the Australian Research Grants Committee and through funds made available under the control of the Minister for Trade and Industry. In a sense there have been disturbing statements in recent times by the Leader of the Opposition. There was a statement made first on 22nd February and published in the Press. That was repeated in the Press on 1 2th September and in Hansard on 16th September. These statements allege that in four instances there have been takeovers of one kind or another and as a result Australian research activities have been closed down. The suggestion is that overseas interests take advantage of the results of research in this country and then wilfully or irresponsibly close down Australian establishments.

Mr Uren:

– I rise to order. This is time for questions without notice. Obviously the Minister is giving an answer with notice. This is an abuse of question time.


-Order! On many occasions I have informed the honourable member for Reid that the Chair has no jurisdiction in this matter. I think I even reminded him of this fact yesterday. If he continues to raise this point I may have to seek some way to deal with him.

Mr Uren:

Mr Speaker-


-The honourable member will resume his seat.

Mr Uren:

– I object to the remarks you made. This is an abuse of question time-


-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.

Mr Uren:

– And I will continue in this way while question time is abused.

Mr Malcolm Fraser:

– In every case there were aspects of the situation which were not mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition and which would lead to a completely different interpretation if one were impartially examining the matter. 1 want to read to the House a letter dated 12th September which was sent to the ‘Australian’. I am told that a copy of it was sent to the Leader of the Opposition. This letter is almost identical with a letter sent to the ‘Australian’ on 25th February, but not published, a copy of which, I am advised, was also sent to the Leader of the Opposition. It reads:

The article, based on a speech by the Federal Leader of the Opposition, Mr Whitlam, listed a number of companies whose research departments have been closed down during the past 2 years. Although not specifically stated that the Varian Techtron’s research activities were curtailed, mentioning our name in the same context gave the impression that this was so. We believe that, after that piece of misleading information, your readers are entitled to know the truth about our research activities. At the time of our merger with Varian Associates 2 years ago our expenditure for research and development was 6% of total sales volume and since then it has increased to a current rate of 11% on an increased sales volume. This represents a 240% increase in actual research and development expenditure during this period. It should also be realised that all of this research and development is performed in Australia by Australians. The increased research and development growth will lead to both increased employment of Australians and increased export sales earnings. After only 2 years of association our export earnings have already doubled to $2m and our total employment has increased from 160 to 250.

This was the second time that a copy of the letter was sent to the Leader of the Opposition as a result of repeating these incorrect allegations. As a result of the repetition by the Leader of the Opposition the company wrote to me, and sent me a copy of these letters from the managing director.

Mr Uren:

– I move an extension of time for the Minister.


-Order! It is not necessary. The Minister has the right to continue.

Mr Malcolm Fraser:

– I want to repeat two reasonably brief paragraphs of the letter written to me by the company. The letter states:

As both articles contain false implications against our company we have written to the Editor of the ‘Australian’ on both occasions with a copy to Mr Whitlam. Copies are now enclosed for your information. Our first letter was delayed and the Editor did not use it But we understand the second letter will be used on September 15th. It is rather annoying that although Mr Whitlam had the true facts about our company after receiving a copy of our first letter the only use he apparently made of it in his second speech was to use the correct name of TECHTRON.

” /I

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– My question is addressed to the Minister for the Army. I ask: Is it a fact that cadets who are broken down during the early part of their training by the bastardisation process at Duntroon are required to pay several hundred dollars in order to obtain discharge? If this is a fact and if as has been reported he will make a statement that this process will be ended will he give consideration to refunding to parents who have had to pay for the discharge of former cadets the moneys which they have been forced to pay because of a process which quite obviously lent nothing to their training?

Minister for the Army · FLINDERS, VICTORIA · LP

– The question to which the honourable gentleman refers in the first instance - that is to say the allegations relating to certain incidents which are alleged to have taken place at the Royal Military College, Duntroon - will in fact be subject to quite a detailed, frank and forthright statement by myself immediately after question time in this House. Therefore, I make no comment on that aspect of the question.

However in regard to the other question that the honourable member posed, it is true that in certain cases students who resign from the Royal Military College may be required to refund moneys to the College as a consequence of the amount of money which the Australian Army has expended in their education. These details, of course, are variable according to the circumstances and according to the period in which the students had been at the college. I will certainly make inquiries along the lines suggested. I will check the facts and I will let the honourable member know.

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– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Services. By how much have age, invalid and widows pensions and unemployment benefits been increased since the last time the Labor Party was in office? Making allowance for price changes, what has been the real increase in the real values? I might point out to honourable members that this question is al) my own work.

Minister for Social Services · MACKELLAR, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– The question that the honourable member raises is one of great interest. I was expecting that one of the members on the opposite side might have put it to me. I have made, however, -

Mr Clyde Cameron:

– I will move that the reply be incorporated in Hansard.


-Order! The Chair will not accept the motion.


– Once again the Opposition has anticipated me. I have a reply here. In view of your desire that replies be kept short and as these documents are completely factual I ask that they be incorporated in Hansard.


– I thank the Minister. Is leave granted?

Mr Daly:

– Yes.


– Leave is granted.


– The first document deals with the assessment of pensions between 1949 and 1969. The second deals with the effect of the means test between those years.

page 1949


Pension was reduced by full amount of earnings or income (including income from property) above $3 per week. In addition pension was reduced by $2 per year for every $20 of property above $200 up to $900, and by $4 per year for every $20 of property above $900. No pension payable if property exceeded $1,500. {: .page-start } page 1949 {:#debate-14} ### LIBERAL-COUNTRY PARTY 1969 Actual income from property is excluded, but 1/520 of property above $400 counts as weekly income. No pension payable if property exceeds $21,200 ($37,200 married couple). Aged Persons Homes Scheme introduced 1954. Since then 33,000 beds provided. Sheltered Workshops Scheme introduced 1967. Employees now number 3,350. {: .page-start } page 1950 {:#debate-15} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-15-0} #### WOOL VILLAGE {: #subdebate-15-0-s0 .speaker-KDV} ##### Mr Charles Jones:
NEWCASTLE, VICTORIA · ALP -- I direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. By way of preface 1 refer the Minister to the fact that on Tuesday of this week I asked him a question about the wool village at Yennora in Sydney and whether the Commonwealth Government had agreed to make some $12m available for the construction of that village. In his reply the Minister said: >There has been no consultation with or recommendation to the Commonwealth. 1 would assume that when these discussions have concluded and some recommendations are made we will hear about the proposal, if it involves the Commonwealth. I ask the Minister: Has he seen or heard of the editorial in today's 'Australian Financial Review' which claims that **Sir William** Gunn, together with Board members **Mr D.** Campbell and **Mr C.** Renshaw and the Board's manager of wool handling, **Mr G.** Pemberton, on 9th September in Sydney, at a meeting of wool interests, said that the Australian Wool Board had discussed with **Mr Anthony** a proposal that the Wool Board borrow funds to build the wool selling complex in Sydney and lease the facilities back to wool selling brokers; that the Minister, like the Graziers Association of New South Wales, wants a statement of costs and benefits before he makes a statement to the Cabinet; and that if the statement of costs and benefits shows clear financial advantages to wool growers, brokers and wool buyers the Minister anticipates he will have no difficulty in obtaining Cabinet approval to guarantee a loan to the Australian Wool Board? **Mr Speaker,** I vouch for the authenticity of this report and I will, if necessary, produce a copy of the minutes of this meeting. I ask: Why did the Minister lie to me and the Parliament- {: #subdebate-15-0-s1 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -Order! The honourable member will withdraw that remark. {: .speaker-KDV} ##### Mr Charles Jones:
NEWCASTLE, VICTORIA · ALP -- I withdraw the word 'lie'. I ask: Why did the Minister mislead me and the Parliament in his reply on Tuesday? If he did not mislead me and the Parliament why did **Sir William** Gunn lie to the meeting of wool interests in Sydney? {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: {: .speaker-KDV} ##### Mr Charles Jones:
NEWCASTLE, VICTORIA · ALP -- AH right, I will withdraw the word 'lie' as far as **Sir William** Gunn is concerned. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -Order! I think the Chair has been fairly lenient to the honourable member because his question is one of importance and involves a matter of public interest. However, the question is far too long. I remind the honourable member that any question which contains the names of persons outside the Parliament and which by implication is derogatory of them should be placed on the notice paper. {: .speaker-KDV} ##### Mr Charles Jones:
NEWCASTLE, VICTORIA · ALP -- I shall complete' my question. Why did the Minister for Primary Industry mislead me and the Parliament in his reply on Tuesday? If he did not mislead me and the Parliament on Tuesday why did **Sir William** Gunn mislead the meeting of wool interests in Sydney on 9th September by saying that the Board had conferred with the Minister for Primary Industry about finance for the wool village at Yennora? {: #subdebate-15-0-s2 .speaker-BU4} ##### Mr ANTHONY:
CP -- I can give the honourable member my assurance that 1 have not misled him or this Parliament. This morning I read the leader in the 'Australian Financial Review*. From my reading of it the authors are trying to get themselves off the hook for a statement they made earlier in the week to the effect that the Government had offered $10m or $12m, whatever it might be, for the establishment of a wool selling complex at Yennora. Let us look at the facts. Apparently, to justify their case, they have got hold of some minutes of a confidential meeting held between the Australian Wool Board and certain interests in Sydney and they are basing their editorial on those minutes. Whether these minutes are right or wrong, I will not enter into that dispute. The facts of the matter are that no recommendation has been made to the Commonwealth. Government and there has been no consultation between the Australian Wool Board and the Commonwealth Government. Let me make that a little clearer. {: .speaker-KDV} ##### Mr Charles Jones:
NEWCASTLE, VICTORIA · ALP -- Did **Sir William** mislead them in that case? {: .speaker-BU4} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- About 1 month ago - if this is what **Sir William** was referring to - I was passing through Brisbane on my way home to my electorate and I spent 1 hour having a meal with him during which we talked about all manner of interests ranging from Tipperary through to wool. It was a completely informal meeting and naturally I asked him how the wool village was proceeding and he said that they were having consultations. That is as far as that discussion went. But last week, or a fortnight ago, after making inquiries from my Department **Sir William** Gunn came to Canberra to see me. He could not see me because I was attending Cabinet meetings. He saw officers of my Department and told them that he had been up interviewing the Commonwealth Superannuation Board to see whether it would be interested in making money available to the Australian Wool Board for the establishment of a wool selling village at Yennora. In his discussions with officers of my Department he asked what my reaction would be to this. A few days later, when I got around to seeing the file on this matter that the officers referred to me, I said: 'Look, if they can do a cost benefit analysis to show that it will be a going concern then I will be quite happy to put it up to the Government.' If it were simply a case of being able to borrow money for a sound proposition then I thought there would be a likelihood of the Government accepting it. {: .page-start } page 1951 {:#debate-16} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-16-0} #### DROUGHT RELIEF {: #subdebate-16-0-s0 .speaker-KGA} ##### Mr HALLETT:
CANNING, WESTERN AUSTRALIA -- Has the Prime Minister received requests from the Western Australian Government for financial assistance to Western Australia to relieve the effects of drought conditions? If he has not yet received an application, would the Government be prepared to give such application full consideration? {: #subdebate-16-0-s1 .speaker-KH5} ##### Mr GORTON:
LP -- I could not quite hear the last part of the question but the first part, as I understood it, was whether I had received a request from the Government of Western Australia for assistance for drought relief in that State. No such request has come to me or come to my notice as yet. {: .page-start } page 1951 {:#debate-17} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-17-0} #### POVERTY: CIVILIAN WIDOWS {: #subdebate-17-0-s0 .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr WHITLAM: -- I ask a question of the Minister for Social Services. During the debate on the Social Services Bill the honourable gentleman spoke of the poverty line, which had been devised by Professor Henderson and his colleagues at the University of Melbourne, as $33 per week in 1966 and he purported to give the datum as at present. This was on 9th September. I ask him whether he had, when he spoke, discussed the poverty line as at today with the professor or his colleagues since he last met them, I believe, at the Australian Institute of Political Science summer school last January. In particular, has his attention been drawn to an article by one of them which appeared on 1st September in the 'Legacy Weekly Bulletin' stating that at present the comparable poverty line is $40. In particular, did he observe that the author said that the only persons who are above the poverty line today amongst civilian widows are those who have a child under 6 years of age, and that all others are still below the poverty line? {: #subdebate-17-0-s1 .speaker-DB6} ##### Mr WENTWORTH:
LP -- I have not had an opportunity recently of conferring with the gentleman that the Leader of the Opposition named but I am familiar with what the authors themselves have stated. 1 was at pains in the speech that I made - as he will see if he does me the honour of reading what I said - to point out that it was not legitimate to change the poverty line in this way. What was said was that at a certain date - I think from memory that it was in June 1966 - an arbitrary poverty line could be established by taking the then basic wage, adding to it family endowment and also an arbitrary loading of 60c or 80c. I forget the exact figure, but it was an arbitrary loading of that order. That poverty line can be changed by adjusting it to the price level. To change it in any other way would incorporate something which the Leader of the Opposition perhaps would not like to have incorporated, that is, that during that time average wages have risen faster than prices. That is to say, people outside the pensioner range have been doing much better under this Government. As I understand it, the Leader of the Opposition contends that wage earners have not been doing so well under this Government. To confute him on his own figures, I point out that what is said is that the position of the average wage earner in the last 2 or 3 years has improved. If we look at the position of the pensioner we find that, in terms of purchasing power, it also has improved. If the houourable gentleman will do me the honour of again looking at the paper I incorporated in Hansard a few moments ago he will see how much the real value of the pensions available to widows have been improved since Labor was last in office. In point of fact, the real value of the pension for a widow with children is now nearly three times, in terms of purchasing power, what it was when Labor was last in office. The Leader of the Opposition should be ashamed of asking such a question. {: .page-start } page 1952 {:#debate-18} ### PERSONAL EXPLANATIONS {: #debate-18-s0 .speaker-KEC} ##### Mr KENNEDY:
BENDIGO, VICTORIA · ALP -- I wish to make a personal explanation. {: #debate-18-s1 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented? {: .speaker-KEC} ##### Mr KENNEDY:
BENDIGO, VICTORIA · ALP -- I claim to have been misrepresented. The Treasurer, either through some error or perhaps reflecting the general uncertainty in Liberal ranks about the present status and future of the honourable member for Lalor - {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -Order! Before the honourable member continues, I point out that he may not debate the matter or bring in any new subject matter. The only thing he may do is explain to the House how he has been misrepresented. {: .speaker-KEC} ##### Mr KENNEDY:
BENDIGO, VICTORIA · ALP -- The Treasurer referred to the people of Bendigo as being the constituents of the honourable member for Lalor. I am the honourable member for Bendigo. The honourable member for Lalor represents a far distant electorate, and I believe that he lives some 50 or 60 miles from the nerve centre of my electorate. {: #debate-18-s2 .speaker-KVG} ##### Mr STOKES:
Maribyrnong -- I claim to have been misrepresented. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -Does the honourable member wish to make a personal explanation? {: .speaker-KVG} ##### Mr STOKES: -- Yes. The misrepresentation occurs in an article issued by the Australian Labor Party and published in the Melbourne 'Sun' of yesterday's date under the heading '24-Hour Jets'. The paragraphs which I claim to be a misrepresentation read: The reason given for a 24-hour operation at Tullamarine is that it is more economical for the airlines if they are permitted to operate around the clock. This statement, reported to have been made by **Mr Stokes,** the Liberal Member for Maribyrnong, indicates quite clearly that the Liberal Government is more interested in profits than people. Now, the statement referred to as coming from me arises from an article in the Melbourne 'Herald' of more than a week ago in which I gave an affirmative answer to a question as to whether Tullamarine as a round-the-clock airport would tend to become busier than Mascot if operations into Sydney were still restricted. Of course it is more economical for airlines to have their aircraft fully employed. But at no time have I ever subscribed to the sacrifice of the rights of the people in the interests of the economical operation of any airline. On the contrary, as a member of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Aircraft Noise, I can assure the House that my colleagues and I are directing our efforts towards the introduction of noise abatement procedures to protect the people from undue exposure to unwarranted noise levels. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -Order! I think the honourable member now is introducing something which is beyond the bounds of his personal explanation. {: .speaker-KVG} ##### Mr STOKES: -- That is all I wish to say. {: .page-start } page 1952 {:#debate-19} ### SOCIAL SERVICES {: #debate-19-s0 .speaker-DB6} ##### Mr WENTWORTH:
Minister for Social Services · Mackellar · LP **- Mr Speaker,** in accordance with an undertaking that I gave to the House some time ago I present a folder of information on Commonwealth social services. This information has been brought up to date and includes the new rates which have been passed by this House. A copy of this folder has been sent to all honourable members. I express the hope that honourable members on both sides of the House will find it useful especially in telling their constituents what they are entitled to in the way of social services under the legislation recently introduced and passed. {: .page-start } page 1953 {:#debate-20} ### PERSONAL EXPLANATIONS {: #debate-20-s0 .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr WHITLAM:
Leader of the Opposition · Werriwa -- **Mr Speaker,** I wish to make a personal explanation. {: #debate-20-s1 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -Does the Leader of the Opposition claim to have been misrepresented? {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr WHITLAM: -- Yes, I have been misrepresented. I would have preferred to make this speech on a statement which I expected would be made by the Minister for Trade and Industry **(Mr McEwen).** The Opposition had been asked to give the Minister leave to make a statement upon the presentation of the report under the Industrial Research and Development Act. However, I cannot speak on that, nor, of course, can the Minister for Education and Science **(Mr Malcolm Fraser),** because he never will speak in a debate. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -Order! The Leader of the Opposition sought leave to make a personal explanation. {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr WHITLAM: -- I am therefore limited to speaking- {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- The honourable gentleman could ask leave to make a statement. {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr WHITLAM: -- Thank you, **Mr Speaker.** I ask for leave to make a statement. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -Is leave granted? **Mr McEwen** - No. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Leave is not granted. {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr WHITLAM: -- Then I must limit myself to the matter upon which I was misrepresented. During question time, apparently with warning, the Minister for Education and Science read out a letter which he said I had received. Members of my staff assure me that they cannot find such a letter. I may add that following a report of the same speech another company did write to me. If there was an opportunity for a debate I would read that company's letter into the record. It confirms my assertion that the Australian research activities of this company had been discontinued. But I must limit myself to the particular matter upon which I was misrepresented. Therefore I will read what I said. I do not know how it was reported in all the newspapers and I have not the letter from the company, but what I said when opening the symposium of the New South Wales division of the Australia and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, on 11th September was this: >Varian Associates, an American electronics enterprise, took over in 1967 Techtron Pty Ltd, the Melbourne firm which pioneered commercial development of atomic absorption spectrophotometry techniques developed in die laboratories of the CSIRO and by 1966 had annual earnings of some S2m of which half was drawn from export markets. . . . > >Australian scientists are rightly concerned at the ease with which small Australian companies profiting from the results of indigenous research are allowed to fall a prey to foreign takeovers, . . . {: #debate-20-s2 .speaker-QS4} ##### Mr Malcolm Fraser:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP -- **Mr Speaker,** I wish to make a personal explanation. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -Does the Minister claim to have been misrepresented? {: .speaker-QS4} ##### Mr Malcolm Fraser:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP -- Yes, I do. The information I read to the House was contained in two letters that were sent to the Australian'. It appeared from the letter I read out from Techtron Pty Ltd that at the same time these letters had also been sent to the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr Whitlam).** The honourable gentleman has read out in relation to this matter a part of some of the remarks that he made. I would like to read out those remarks in full. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order! I am afraid the honourable gentleman- {: .speaker-QS4} ##### Mr Malcolm Fraser:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP -- Well, may I make the point- {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr Whitlam: -- **Mr Speaker-** {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -Order! The honourable gentlemen will resume their seats. As I pointed out just a few moments ago to the honourable member for Bendigo, when making a personal explanation a member may explain to the House just where he has been misrepresented but he may not introduce any new matter. {: .speaker-QS4} ##### Mr Malcolm Fraser:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP -- **Mr Speaker,** I will restrict myself quite specifically to what I said this morning. I indicated that four companies had been mentioned and I then confined my remarks to one company. I indicated that research would show- {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr Whitlam: -- I take a point of order. It is true that I mentioned four companies. I do not mind having a debate- {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -Order! The honourable gentleman will resume his seat. I think both the Leader of the Opposition and the Minister for Education and Science are out of order. {: #debate-20-s3 .speaker-BU4} ##### Mr ANTHONY:
CP -- I ask for the leave of the House to present some documents. In the course of a television discussion last night, during which there was a little bit of cross-fire, I offered to present documents showing how the Australian Labor Party had assessed the cost-benefits of its proposals and I am very happy to do so. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Leave is not required. {: .speaker-BU4} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- Then I am not allowed to table them? {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Yes, you may do so. {: .speaker-BU4} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- I present the documents. {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr Whitlam: -- May we have a debate on them? {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- That is a matter between the Leader of the Opposition and the Government. It is not a matter for the Chair. {: #debate-20-s4 .speaker-KXV} ##### Dr PATTERSON:
Dawson -- I have been misrepresented. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -Does the honourable member wish to make a personal explanation? {: .speaker-KXV} ##### Dr PATTERSON: -- Yes. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Before the honourable member does so, I remind him that I have already given a ruling about personal explanations. I would appreciate the honourable member keeping his personal explanation within the ambit that I have stated. {: .speaker-KXV} ##### Dr PATTERSON: -- Yes, **Sir. It** deals with the Minister for Primary Industry **(Mr Anthony)** who made the statement that there was a bit of cross-fire between him and me last night. I do not know what papers he has tabled, but the papers he promised to table were the cost-benefit analysis that the Australian Wool Board had made. I assume they are the papers. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -Order! The honourable member is not making a personal explanation. **Mr ANTHONY** (Richmond- Minister for Primary Industry) - I wish to make a personal explanation. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -Does the Minister claim to have been misrepresented? {: .speaker-BU4} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- Yes. I offered to present a cost-benefit analysis, as was discussed in the course of our debate on television. {: .speaker-K8B} ##### Mr Curtin: -- I take a point of order. I am in the dark. I would like the Minister to explain what he means by cost-benefit. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. {: .speaker-BU4} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- I am doing exactly as I undertook to do. {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr Whitlam: -- 1 rise to order, **Mr Speaker.** My point of order is that the Minister is attempting to revive a debate that he has suppressed since last April- {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -Order! There is no substance in the point of order. {: .speaker-BU4} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- I again present what I promised- {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- It is not necessary to do so. The papers are before the House and there is no need to re-table them. {: .page-start } page 1954 {:#debate-21} ### ACCIDENT TO VISCOUNT AIRCRAFT NEAR PORT HEDLAND, WESTERN AUSTRALIA {:#subdebate-21-0} #### Ministerial Statement {: #subdebate-21-0-s0 .speaker-KVR} ##### Mr SWARTZ:
Minister for Civil Aviation · Darling Downs · LP -- **Mr Speaker,** for the information of honourable members I present the following paper: >Accident Investigation Report - Viscount 720C Aircraft VH-RMQ, Near Port Hedland, Western Australia, 31st December, 1968 - Ministerial Statement 25 September 1969. I ask for the leave of the House to make a short statement in connection with this report. {: #subdebate-21-0-s1 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- There being no objection, leave is granted. {: .speaker-KVR} ##### Mr SWARTZ: -- Honourable members will recall that, on 18th March of this year, I provided some information to this House as to the progress of the investigation of this accident. I said that, when this investigation was completed and the accident report was prepared, 1 would table the document and this I have just done. I realise that this report is being tabled in the last days of the current Parliament but, as I recently indicated in answer to a question by the honourable member for East Sydney **(Mr Devine),** a very essential part of this investigation has been fatigue testing which was carried out in the United Kingdom and the report on this work has only recently been received. I said at that time that I expected to be able to submit the accident report about the end of September and officers of the Air Safety Investigation Branch have worked very strenuously to avoid delays beyond that time in the preparation of the report which came to me from the printer, only yesterday. In fact, it was late yesterday afternoon. The results of the fatigue tests carried out. at our request by the British Aircraft Corporation have now been considered in conjunction with the considerable evidence gathered by the investigation team as well as the very valuable work done by the Aeronautical Research Laboratories and the Defence Standards Laboratories which are under the control of my colleague, the Minister for Supply **(Senator Anderson).** The tabled report sets out the reasons why it is now abundantly clear that this flared bush substantially reduced the fatigue endurance of the main spar lower boom in the starboard wing and the best estimate of the amount of this reduction is that it was of the order of 50% . Whilst these tests were in progress approximately twenty other spar booms, which had been retired from service since the accident, were inspected by the British Aircraft Corporation and a number of small fatigue cracks was found in them. None of these cracks was in itself dangerous to the aircraft from which the boom was removed but it is apparent that there would have been significant reductions in the strength of these booms if they had been allowed to complete the whole of the life previously specified for them. It is also apparent that the presence of any defect similar to the flared bush which was found in VH-RMO could have induced a premature failure, as it did in the Australian aircraft. Prior to this accident, the fact that over 440 Viscount aircraft had been built and operated for some 16 years without there being any accident resulting from a fatigue failure or any signs of fatigue cracking found in booms inspected after retirement supported the view that the Air Registration Board, which is the primary certificating authority for this aircraft type, had set the retirement life at an appropriately conservative figure. The experience of this accident, however, and the knowledge gained from the post-accident inspection of other booms indicates that the degree of conservatism believed to apply in the prescription of 11,400 flights, as the retirement life, did not exist. Tt should be appreciated, however, that the prescribed retirement life is not intended to accommodate the effects of a gross defect such as a flared bush. In the appendices to this report honourable members may see for themselves the evidence of fatigue cracking which occurred in the boom as well as graphical presentations of the effect of flared bushes on its fatigue endurance. I commend this report for all honourable members to read since it unfolds, step by step, the factors which led to this tragic accident. At each point the evidence has been clearly corroborated and documented and the argument proceeds in logical steps to the cause conclusion. This states that the cause of this accident was that the fatigue endurance of the starboard inner main spar lower boom was substantially reduced by the insertion of a flared bush at station 143 when the margin of safety associated with the retirement life specified for such booms did not ensure that this boom would achieve its retirement life in the presence of such a defect. Prior to this accident my Department, of course, had no greater knowledge than any of the other certificating authorities around the world as to the existence of fatigue cracking in Viscount aircraft. There was no reason to believe that the retirement life prescribed by the primary certificating authority, the Air Registration Board, was any less conservative than was claimed. As soon as it became known, however, that this accident was the result of a fatigue failure in the spar boom, the Director-General immediately decided that all 700 series Viscounts should be withdrawn from service. He later allowed Viscount 756 aircraft to return to service when it became apparent that this type of failure was not likely to occur in either the 756 or 810 series aircraft. The reasons for this are set out in a little more detail on page 30 of the Civil Aviation report 1968-1969 which I presented to Parliament only last week, and honourable members may be assured that no fatigue failure is likely to occur in the booms of these aircraft even in the very unlikely event that one of them also contains a gross defect of the type disclosed by this investigation. The present situation is that the earlier 700 series Viscount aircraft are still not permitted to fly in this country and it is of interest that Australia was the only country to take this action. The general action taken overseas was to reduce the retirement life of these booms to 7,000 flights as was recommended by the Air Registration Board. Although sufficient information is now available to make, with some confidence, an assessment of the causes of the accident to VH-RMQ, the Director-General is still of the view that more factual data would have to become available to resolve all doubts as to the position of these aircraft before their return to service could be considered. The two airline companies involved hold similar views and these aircraft will not fly in Australia again. Finally, **Mr Speaker,** I would like to remind the House that, as early as March in this year, I stated that the investigations had revealed a great deal of evidence as to the underlying causes of this accident; so much so thatI was able to decide at that time that our knowledge of this accident would not be assisted in any significant degree by the appointment of a board of inquiry. The legislation provides that the appointment of a board of accident inquiry is at the discretion of the Minister and, such boards have, in fact, been appointed on three occasions in recent years. The Chairman of these Boards, and the various expert assessors, have carried out their tasks with great care and diligence and, in each instance, there was complete consistency between the findings of the Chairman and the conclusions as reached in the investigation conducted by the Air Safety Investigation Branch of my Department. I make this comment only for the purpose of illustrating the confidence which can be attached to the investigations carried out by the Air Safety Investigation Branch and to demonstrate why, in this instance, having regard to the very early and precise pinpointing of the causal area, I did not feel that appointment of a board of accident inquiry was warranted. I stress that, in other circumstances, I would have had no hesitation in appointing a board of accident inquiry. **Mr Speaker,** I am in agreement with the conclusions set out in this report and I am confident that the immediate and continuing action taken by the Department, as a result of this accident will prevent the recurrence of such a tragic event arising from similar causes. Motion (by **Mr Erwin)** proposed: That the House take note of the paper. {: .speaker-KDV} ##### Mr Charles Jones:
NEWCASTLE, VICTORIA · ALP -- Have I an assurance from the Leader of the House that the debate will be resumed this day? {: .speaker-KDO} ##### Mr Erwin: -- The debate will be resumed either this day or tomorrow. It will be resumed this week. Motion (by **Mr Charles** Jones) agreed to: That the debate be adjourned to a later hour this day. {: .page-start } page 1956 {:#debate-22} ### ROYAL MILITARY COLLEGE, DUNTROON {:#subdebate-22-0} #### Ministerial Statement {: #subdebate-22-0-s0 .speaker-KIM} ##### Mr LYNCH:
Minister for the Army · Flinders · LP -- by leave - As the House will be aware, there have been allegations of illtreatment of the fourth class - the junior class - at the Royal Military College, Duntroon. These allegations have been fully probed by a board of inquiry whose report and findings were submitted to me yesterday. I am taking this first opportunity to provide the House with a summary of the conclusions reached by the Board of Inquiry and an outline of the action which I propose should now be taken. Let me at the outset traverse the history of this matter. On 25th August last **Mr Gerald** Walsh, a lecturer in history at the College, addressed a letter to the Commandant drawing attention to what he considered to be ill-treatment of members of the fourth class by the senior cadets. Following discussion between the Commandant, **Mr Walsh** and the Dean, **Sir Leslie** Martin, it was decided that the first available date on which action in relation to the letter could be taken was Friday, 5th September. Concurrently, I received from private sources information that incidents amounting to bullying might be occurring at Duntroon. I immediately directed that inquiries be made. On Friday 5th September the Commandant met his senior academic military staff to consider the allegations. Consequential upon this meeting and my own direction, a Board of Inquiry was immediately convened. The terms of reference were agreed on Saturday 6th September and the Board held its first meeting on Monday 8th September. The Board consisted of three - Lieutenant-Colonel Hosking, LieutenantColonel in Charge of Administration at Duntroon; **Major Wells, Deputy** Assistant Quartermaster-General; and **Mr Hill,** Senior Lecturer in History. I should point out that Lieutenant-Colonel Hosking and **Major Wells** were selected because, although on the staff at Duntroon, their duties were purely administrative and they had no direct relationship with the Corps of Staff Cadets, which is a self-contained group within the College. The terms of reference and the policy directive referred to therein are by now well known. However, for completeness I will, with the concurrence of the House, have their terms incorporated in Hansard. They are as follows: {: .page-start } page 1957 {:#debate-23} ### TERMS OF REFERENCE RMC Board of Inquiry The Terms of Reference of the Board of Inquiry, which were drawn up after discussions between the Commandant and the Members of the Academic Staff are - These are considered wide and general terms which will enable this matter to be thoroughly probed. {: .page-start } page 1957 {:#debate-24} ### CSC POLICY DIRECTIVE The Assimilation and Regimental Training of the Fourth Class 14 February 1969 Reference: CSC Standing Orders 239 and 240 {:#subdebate-24-0} #### Conclusion {: type="1" start="8"} 0. The training of the Fourth Class is designed to assist the development of the personal characteristics of each cadet within the framework of the demands of military service, to produce a military leader of a calibre comparable to his contemporaries outside the service. 1. In this early stage of his development, nothing is to be done which will adversely effect a cadet's right to adequate rest, nourishment, recreation, and study. At this point I wish to divert from Duntroon for a moment and inform the House that consequent upon these allegations of illtreatment I instituted inquiries in respect of other Army training establishments. I have now received from the AdjutantGeneral reports covering the Officer Cadet School at Portsea, the Officer Training Unit at Scheyville, the Apprentices' School at Balcombe and the Recruit Training Battalions at Puckapunyal, Kapooka and Singleton. I have been assured that the General Officers Commanding Southern and Eastern Commands, in which these training establishments are located, have carried out thorough investigations into the practices currently extant. Honourable members will no doubt be aware that within the last week or so there have been allegations in the Press that ill-treatment, similar to that which has been the subject of investigation at Duntroon, had occurred or was still occurring at Scheyville and the Apprentices' School, Balcombe. Dealing with Scheyville, I am advised that bullying of the type alleged in the Press does not occur at the establishment there. However, when a large group of young men live together it is almost inevitable that there will be isolated instances of ragging of juniors as they join the group. {: #subdebate-24-0-s0 .speaker-KIM} ##### Mr LYNCH:
LP -- The honourable gentleman will listen to the statement. There have been and no doubt will be occasional departures from permissible practices, but a very thorough inquiry has confirmed that such departures are rare and random in nature. Illegal punishments and bullying of any description are expressly prohibited by Standing Orders at Scheyville and the Commandant and staff are alert to the need for continuous vigilance to ensure that they do not occur. With regard to the allegations of standing naked, screaming obscenities and other forms of humiliation, I have been assured by the AdjutantGeneral that no evidence of these practices has been found. It will be appreciated that the allegations appearing in the Press were general in nature and not specific as to time, names or the source of the information. However, if the ex-national service officer who made the allegations is prepared to give names and dates his allegations will be further investigated and any necessary action will most certainly be taken. With regard to the Apprentices' School, honourable members may have noted that the allegations quoted by the Melbourne Truth' were stated to have been made by an ex-apprentice who, on his own statement, left the School in 1967. Honourable members may also recall that in 1966 a court of inquiry was convened to examine certain allegations covering the behaviour of apprentices. The findings of that inquiry indicated that insufficient staff had been available for proper supervision of apprentices. As a result the staff was increased to the extent that one Regular NonCommissioned Officer is now in charge of each platoon of 36 apprentices, company duty officers sleep in the company lines and one is always present throughout 24 hours per day. Further, the junior class is segregated into a company of its own and is not in close contact with the intermediate and senior classes. In addition to the Regular Non-Commissioned Officer, a senior apprentice Non-Commissioned Officer is placed in charge of each building containing 12 apprentices. There have been isolated instances of bullying since 1967 which have resulted in the reduction in rank of one apprentice and the discharge of four apprentices who were found guilty. I have also been assured that no evidence can be found of ill-treatment presently arising at the Officer Cadet School or at the Recruit Training Battalions at Puckapunyal, Kapooka or Singleton. That there have been or will be isolated cases where instructions are violated could not be denied, but honourable members can be satisfied that whenever such instances are detected appropriate action is taken and I instance the one of RMC Duntroon which I will deal with in a moment. I turn therefore to the proceedings of the Board of Inquiry at Duntroon. Members of the military and academic staff were invited to give evidence before the Board, and statements were taken from all fourth class cadets. It will be noted that the terms of reference specified fourth class 1969. However, after the Board had commenced sitting, specific allegations were made that some, at least, of those 1968 fourth class cadets who had left the College during that year had done so because of the ill-treatment they had suffered. In these circumstances, the President of the Board decided to interview these cadets if they were prepared to give evidence. The five ex-fourth class cadets of 1969 and the twelve of the 1968 year were invited to appear before the Board. Of these, 4 of 1969 and 8 of 1968 accepted and duly appeared before the Board. To ensure that all available facts were brought before the Board, members of the public who felt they could give information were invited to submit statements on any matter relevant to the investigation, but no such statements have been received by the Board. Between 8th September and 22nd September, the Board took evidence from 143 witnesses comprising 11 members of the academic staff, 14 of the military staff, 101 current fourth class cadets, 5 cadets of the senior class and 12 ex-cadets. The report of the Board, based on the very comprehensive evidence which it had obtained, was submitted to the Commandant on 23rd September 1969. The Board, after consideration of the evidence taken has reported its findings in relation to the contravention or otherwise of the Directive on fourth class training and I will now summarise these findings. Honourable members may be assured the summary I am about to give does not omit any significant aspect. I informed the House last week that nothing relevant to this matter would in fact be swept under the carpet and I trust the House will appreciate that it is my intention to provide a complete and frank statement. The Board found that there was evidence to show that the Directive had been contravened particularly in regard to paragraphs 6 and 9. Amongst other things, paragraph 6 provides that no cadet is to be bullied in any way; or threatened or coerced in any manner or subjected to personal indignities, humiliation or ridicule. The Board made it clear that it viewed the term 'bullying' in its widest context and not merely as implying physical threat or violence. The Board reports that evidence existed that the instruction contained in paragraph 6 had been contravened in instances of the following type: Two senior cadets simultaneously giving conflicting orders to a junior, sometimes standing on either side of him; junior class cadets being required to stand at attention for excessive periods whilst being questioned by seniors. One cadet reported two cases of a light being directed into a cadet's eyes whilst being questioned; awarding of unauthorised punishments such as 'press ups', amounting in extreme cases to 200 in one day and impositions for failure to answer questions when it was unreasonable to expect the cadet to be able to do so. One cadet fell and hit his head as a result of excessive 'press ups'; placing a junior class cadet in such a position that some free periods were taken up in obtaining information for seniors, lest failure to do so led to additional imposts; junior cadets had been required to take additional cold showers, to shower in parts of their equipment and occasionally to do 'press ups' in the bath; cadets, in some cases, have been refused a place at several tables in the mess or been abused in front of others or required to stand on a table and sing. In two extreme cases cadets were required to kneel before a senior cadet; isolated cases of cadets being required to eat sitting on the floor; although not a common practice, cadets had been required to consume a concoction of various condiments; cadets taking breakfast to cadets of the two senior classes. I make it clear to the House that I would regard these instances in varying degrees as humiliating, stupid or simply a waste of time. Only one case of physical violence was included in the evidence before the Board. A member of the junior class stated that he had been physically forced into a bathroom by an unnamed senior classman and had six buckets of cold water thrown over him. Although one cadet expressed his resentment at some comments made about his religion by a senior cadet, the Board found no evidence of any improper reference, either stated or implied, to a cadet's background, family, religious beliefs or personal life. The Board also found that assimilation training did not cease at the end of first term as intended by the Directive. In addition, although the instruction that training should cease on week nights at 7 p.m. had generally been observed, some cadets had found it necessary to complete, during study periods, impositions which had been set by senior cadets. With regard to para graph 9 of the Directive, whilst no evidence was available that any junior cadet's rest, nourishment or recreation had been adversely affected, there was considerable evidence that no allowance was made by senior cadets for the time involved in completing impositions set by them. The Board states that, as a result, many junior cadets used private study periods and class time to the detriment of their work. Most junior class cadets found that training left them tense and flustered especially after the evening meal and, as a result, it took some time to settle down to study. What I have said covers in detail the essential areas of the Board's report. I turn now to two specific cases to which reference has been made in the Parliament and the Press. It is a fact that early in 1968 a fourth class cadet collapsed and was admitted to hospital where he remained for some 25 days before discharge from the Army. It is also a fact that, prior to admission to hospital he had been subjected to a period of some 3 hours 'hazing' by a senior NCO cadet. The 'hazing* consisted primarily of a heavy pressure of questioning and tidying his room. The senior cadet's behaviour was in every way reprehensible and he was at the time punished by reduction in rank. The ex-cadet concerned gave evidence before the Board last week. The other matter relates to the alleged attempted suicide at the RMC on 1st September. The facts are that a junior cadet was discovered in his room at the RMC on the evening of 1st September with cuts on his left wrist. He was admitted to the RMC hospital. The investigating officer, the medical officer on duty, and the consulting psychiatrist who was called in, confirmed that what bad happened was in the nature of a gesture to draw attention to his personal problems rather than an attempt to commit suicide. I am informed that the cadet himself attributed his action to his unhappiness with his academic progress and, when questioned, specifically denied that it had anything to do with ill-treatment of the junior class. Nothing has arisen as a result of the Board of Inquiry's investigations which would vary this conclusion. It *is cleat* from the Board's report that there have been breaches of the Policy Directive governing the permissible scope and limits of fourth class training, that these breaches should have occurred is clearly indicative of unsatisfactory administration both within the Corps of Staff Cadets and amongst those who are directly responsible for its day-to-day functioning, that these breaches cannot be condoned, and that disciplinary action against those responsible for these departures is called for as well as remedial action for the future. I can assure the House that these matters have been given the most careful consideration by the Chief of the General Staff in the light of the Board's report and the Commandant's views thereon. The Chief of the General Staff has informed me that the following action will be taken: The Commandant will prefer charges against one and possibly a second Regular Army officer; Two and possibly more officers who are considered by the Command on the evidence before him to be unfitted for their present appointments are to be reposted from RMC; One officer will be transferred to other duties within RMC; Charges will be preferred against some senior cadets. I further emphasise that positive steps have been taken to prevent a recurrence of these unfortunate breaches and to ensure that the forms of training which have given rise to, or have been exposed by, the Inquiry must cease. In saying this I make two points. In the first place, it is clear from the Board's very thorough and detailed report that, no matter what mistakes have been made in the application and interpretation of the directive regarding fourth class training, members of the senior classes with the one exception I have mentioned have adhered strictly to the rule forbidding any physical contact between junior and senior cadets. I am aware that the term 'bullying' embraces more than physical means, but I think in view of the Press publicity in this matter the House should know that there is ample evidence for the Board to conclude that physical contact is one form of bullying rejected by the senior classes. In the second place, one question which must receive further consideration is whether or not the type of training which is specified in the RMC directive for fourth class train ing has a necessary part in achieving the purposes of the College and should, therefore, be continued. Whilst outwardly it would appear easy and attractive to reject outright the whole concept and issue instructions prohibiting any training of this kind, this is a complex question and there are many factors which need to be taken into consideration. With the affiliation of RMC with the University of New South Wales and with changes in both the methodology of and approach to education in civil as well as military establishments, it seems necessary and desirable that the need for this type of training and the aims it seeks to achieve should be subjected to a critical scrutiny. To an extent perhaps not so much in evidence at universities, the Royal Military College is necessarily concerned with the development of character, personality and loyalty, and it relies upon the total environment to achieve the ends it is seeking, namely, a well trained, well educated officer capable of meeting the exacting professional demands which may be made upon him, often under conditions involving great personal hardship and danger. What has to be determined is whether the present aims of first year cadet training are important to achieve. If so, can those aims be met in some other way, or by the present system so re-organised as to ensure that there can be no departure from the instructions laid down? I have an entirely open mind on the matter at present and, after discussion with the Military Board, I have decided to establish a Committee of Inquiry with terms of reference which have been deliberately couched as widely as possible to ensure that the Committee will not be inhibited in any way in examining the whole philosophy underlying the training of the junior class at Duntroon. The Committee will be headed by **Mr Justice** Fox, a Judge of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory. Members will be: **Dr A.** M. Sinclair, consulting psychiatrist; Professor L. C. F. Turner, Chairman of the Faculty of Military Studies, University of New South Wales; Brigadier G. D. Solomon, Director of Military Training; and Brigadier C. M. I. Pearson, who has had recent operational experience commanding the Australian Task Force in Vietnam. The terms of reference will be to consider the question of new cadets entering the Royal Military College. Within the framework of the present charter, and having regard to the prime purpose of the College! - the production of professional military officers of the highest quality - and paying due regard to existing prescribed courses, the Committee will be invited to consider the principles on which the training of first year cadets should be based and the methods by which these principles should be implemented. The Committee will also be asked to make such other recommendations on matters relevant to the particular terms of inquiry as seem appropriate to it. It will be obvious to the House that both 1 and the Army have taken the allegations most seriously and every effort has been made to ascertain the facts, to deal with those responsible for the situation which developed at the College, and, equally as important, to take remedial action for the future. Whilst there have been excesses which it is not my purpose to defend - I have not done so in any way - these should not be allowed to obscure the successful part that Duntroon has played in the development of the Australian Army. The Army and the Government are proud of the Royal Military College, of what it has done and will continue to do in the production of officers who will bring distinction to themselves and their country as their predecessors have done over more than half a century. I present the following paper: {:#subdebate-24-1} #### Royal Military College- Ministerial Statement, 25 September, 1969 {: #subdebate-24-1-s0 .speaker-JO8} ##### Mr BARNARD:
Bass -- by leave- The Minister for the Army **(Mr Lynch)** has made a comprehensive statement on allegations that have been made about abuses at the Royal Military College, Duntroon. Further, he has denied allegations made in Press reports that sadistic practices had occurred in military establishments at Scheyville in New South Wales and the Apprentices School at Balcombe in Victoria. The investigation has uncovered examples of humiliating, stupid and time wasting practices at Duntroon. This has been readily admitted by the Minister. In effect, the allegations of harmful practices lumped together under the general term bastardisation* have been substantially confirmed. There have been serious breaches of a policy directive on the assimilation and regimental training of fourth class cadets. The investigation has shown, further, that these breaches have had a harmful effect on the studies of junior cadets. The Minister has pointed quite frankly to glaring examples of unsatisfactory administration at the College. He has indicated the disciplinary measures that are to be taken and remedial action intended. Wisely, the Minister has appointed a Committee of Inquiry under **Mr Justice** Fox to investigate the whole philosophy of training the junior class at Duntroon. In general the Opposition supports the actions of the Minister for the Army. The Board of Inquiry was appointed after these allegations, made principally by members of the academic staff at Duntroon, had come to the Minister's attention. This was some days before the allegations subsequently were made public in a newsletter published by the Maxwell Newton organisation. These allegations were first raised in this Parliament at question time on Thursday, 16th September when the Minister promised the statement he has just made. The Minister acted promptly and correctly in appointing the Board of Inquiry. He has wasted no time in getting the inquiry finished and taking appropriate action. If the Minister had made an immediate announcement that the inquiry had been set up, the Opposition would have had no criticism of his response to the allegations. It is regrettable the Minister did not do this. Perhaps the honourable gentleman felt these allegations and the setting up of an inquiry might embarrass the Government before the election. Quite frankly, I believe there is little political capital in a matter of this nature. The Opposition has consistently aired similar abuses affecting basic civil liberties in this House. Examples are the treatment of conscientious objectors and the Vietnam water torture allegations. This is why the Opposition drew the attention of the House to these allegations. When the Minister tabled the report of the Duntroon College on Friday 12th September he did not refer to the quite extensive inquiry that was being made into the conduct at the College. He said that such an announcement would have been premature and would have led to prejudging of the issues. The Minister should have recognised the extreme difficulty in keeping secret an investigation involving over 100 witnesses. These difficulties are reinforced when the complainants are university academics who are not bound by any tradition of military discipline. I believe that the Minister is sincere in this matter and also that he genuinely respected the feelings of parents with boys at the College, but by trying to hide the inquiry he defeated his own intentions because the inevitable disclosure has provoked a much greater volume of publicity about the allegations than would have occurred if he had announced straight away that the inquiry had been set up. There is one matter that I wish to refer to briefly before going on to the allegations of ill-treatment. This is the widely publicised claim that a cadet had attempted suicide because of such treatment. The Minister has denied this allegation and I accept his denial. The broader allegations refer to a process known as bastardisation inflicted on junior cadets by their seniors. Initiation ceremonies of some form or another have always been part of the life at most colleges, universities and academies of various sorts. The trend has been for the elimination of these practices or the diversion of them into harmless channels. Occasionally practices of this sort are exposed to public attention by spectacular examples of injury or degradation. The most recent case that I can recall was a series of complaints about initiation procedures at a New South Wales agricultural1 college. Initiation rites are probably a harmless enough part of the socialisation process if they are properly controlled. By contrast bastardisation, as I understand its application at Duntroon, is a continuous and continuing process spread over the entire training year and applied to successive classes of juniors. It must be appreciated that what has happened in the junior class in respect of the bastardisation to which I have just referred has been an accepted practice at the College over a lengthy period. This is evident from the inquiries that the Minister has had instituted and from the statements that we now have before us. Therefore there is some relevance in an interjection by the honourable member for Reid **(Mr Uren)** regarding the position of the Commandant in this. There is some relevance in his implied criticism that the investigation could well have included some of the more senior members of the college at Duntroon, and I am referring now to those who comprise the permanent military staff there. This aspect of the inquiry seems to have been completely ignored. Military colleges have traditionally been associated with severity. However, there is no justification for the maintenance of outmoded disciplinary concepts in contemporary institutions of military learning. The practices which comprise bastardisation have been applied fairly generally at comparable military academies. At the famous West Point Academy there have been repeated controversies over the practice of hazing which has been described as the bullying of the junior class by the seniors. The objective of hazing was to reduce newly arrived recruits to a common level. On occasions the practice has become an issue of national concern in the United States with Congressional committees investigating allegations. It was abolished by General MacArthur when he was Superintendent of West Point, but apparently it persists in a much modified form without official sanction. A process very similar to bastardisation seems to have been enforced at Canada's Royal Military College at Kingston in the period between the wars. Apparently it vanished when the College closed during World War II and has not been revived. There is an account of the procedures adopted at Kingston in a book called 'Fight the Good Fight' which gives a harrowing description crf the week in the life of a junior at Kingston. It has been claimed that this account is freely available in the Duntroon library and has been used as a blueprint by the senior cadets for bastardisation. There are two basic objections to the process of bastardisation. The obvious one is the physical danger of many of the practices employed. It is not unknown for initiation rites to end in severe injury and even in death. The less obvious danger is nervous and psychological damage caused by the accumulation of both physical and mental bullying. This can result in severe nervous disorders and even in the complete disintegration of the personality. This may require a considerable period of treatment and in any case the young man will carry it with him as part of his personal memory and public record throughout his life. Not only the cadet but his family feels the consequences in an acute way. A common justification for this sort of treatment is that it steels the individual for military life. However, it should be possible to inculcate the military virtues without recourse to this sort of treatment. The psychological aspects of bastardisation are disturbing because it strips young men of their self-respect and cows them into denying their personal dignity at a time when their personality is still forming. It is probable that traditional bastardisation has been intensified this year because of the academic situation at the College. With a sharp distinction between the upper classes and the juniors on an academic basis, it is possible that resentment has built up; it is possible to feel some sympathy with senior cadets in a transitional period. However, through its association with the University of New South Wales, which has an excellent tradition of academic freedom it becomes even more important that bastardisation be stamped out. Traditional forms of military hazing have no part on the university campus or any institution associated with a university. In general the Minister has acted wisely and there has been no headhunting or searching for scapegoats. The disciplinary actions taken are warranted. In particular the investigation by **Mr Justice** Fox should do much to solve the problems associated with absorbing a traditional military institution into an academic framework. The Opposition supports the firm action taken by the Minister and urges him to tse the full weight of his office in vigorously following this inquiry through so bastardisation' can be completely elimi nated from Duntroon. I would further suggest to the Minister, since an inquiry has been authorised, that a question that was raised with him this morning and which is of great relevance should be considered. What is the position in relation to a student whose parents had to pay for his release from the College? If the Minister wants further information on a number of these cases I will be prepared to supply it to him. The fact remains that the students appear to be the victims of the policy which the Minister himself has objected to this morning. The Minister has assured this House that it is not likely to continue in the future. This is an extremely important issue. If a student was forced to leave the college in these circumstances and if bis parents were involved in unnecessary expenditure even at this late stage, in view of the evidence of the Committee, the Minister should authorise this matter to be investigated to ensure that the parents are compensated. Finally, I come back to the point that I referred to only a few moments ago, that is, the position of the Commandant, which was raised by way of interjection by the honourable member for Reid **(Mr Uren).** It appears that the inquiry will bring to an end the situation that has existed over a long period at the Royal Military College at Duntroon. I think that probably some of the more senior officers at the college have in the past condoned the bastardisation which has been carried out at the College. This is a matter that should be further considered by the Committee of Inquiry which the Minister has authorised. The perversion of military discipline in this way is completely counter-productive to the efficient and harmonious functioning of the armed Services. The principle of higher education for Army officers to equip them for modern military situations has been accepted, but academics will not accept military education if the practices substantiated by the investigation are continued. *Bv* Macleay - I seek leave to make a short statement Mir DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mon. **Sir William** Ilaworth) - Is leave granted? {: .speaker-KDO} ##### Mr Erwin: -- No. {: #subdebate-24-1-s1 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Leave is not granted. DrJ. F. Cairns - I ask for leave to make a short statement. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Is leave granted? {: .speaker-KDO} ##### Mr Erwin: -- No. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Leave is not granted. {: .speaker-JO8} ##### Mr Barnard: -- This is a serious matter that has been raised. I am sure that the Leader of the House will allow me to make a suggestion which I believe will help to meet the situation from the point of view of the Government and the Opposition. I have acknowledged that the Minister has presented to this House a statement of very great importance. I am sure that if the debate were adjourned at this stage the Leader of the House would be prepared to allow it to resume later this day or tomorrow. I put it to the Minister that this ought to be done. Not only members on this side of the House but members on his own side want to speak. {: .speaker-KDO} ##### Mr Erwin: -- The fact of the matter is that there is just not sufficient time. The Opposition wishes to propose a matter of public importance; we will have to bring this on. Surely it is the desire of the Opposition to bring on this matter of public importance. There is not time to debate this statement further. We have a Bill which must get across to the Senate today. I cannot give leave. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Leave has not been granted. {: #subdebate-24-1-s2 .speaker-6V4} ##### Mr DALY:
Grayndler -- I move: >That the honourable member for Yarra be now heard. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- The motion is out of order. Motion (by **Mr Daly)** proposed: >That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the honourable member for Yarra being allowed to speak. Question put. The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker - Hon. Sir William Haworth) AYES: 27 NOES: 62 Majority .. ..35 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the negative. Motion (by **Mr Erwin)** proposed: That the House take note of the paper. Debate (on motion by **Dr Mackay)** adjourned. {: .page-start } page 1966 {:#debate-25} ### BILLS RETURNED FROM THE SENATE The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment: >States Grants (Dwellings for Aged Pensioners) Bill 1969. > >Airline Equipment (Loan Guarantee) Bill 1969. > >Loans (Australian National Airlines Commission) Bill 1969. > >Northern Territory (Administration) Bill 1969. {: .page-start } page 1966 {:#debate-26} ### REPORTS OF PUBLIC ACCOUNTS COMMITTEE {: #debate-26-s0 .speaker-JYO} ##### Mr CLEAVER:
Swan -- -As Chairman, I present the One Hundred and Thirteenth and One Hundred and Fourteenth Reports of the Public Accounts Committee. I seek leave to make a short statement. {: #debate-26-s1 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: --Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. {: .speaker-JYO} ##### Mr CLEAVER: **- Mr Deputy Speaker,** the One Hundred and Thirteenth Report relates to the report of the Auditor-General for the financial year 1968-69. Your Committee would again pay tribute to the Auditor-General and his staff for the sustained effort they have made over many years to present the report to the Parliament during August. This practice has facilitated greatly the work of your Committee in this important area of its work. Due to the pending election, your Committee's inquiry this year covered only four matters involving three departments and constitutes one of the smallest of the inquiries conducted in thisfield in recent years. The matters examined in this inquiry covered the purchase of vehicles and amplifiers by the Department of the Army; the acquisition of interim search and rescue craft by the Department of the Navy and deficiencies that had occurred in drawing accounts administered by the Department of Social Services. The evidence taken in respect of the purchase of vehicles and amplifiers by the Department of the Army has, in each case, disclosed circumstances which your Committee finds most disturbing. The evidence reflects, among other things, a compelling need for the Department's acquisition requirements and procedures relating to the payment for equipment to be reviewed as matters of urgency. The records maintained in the Department's stores depots, systems relating to the initial ordering of equipment, audit review arrangements and the adequacy of its communications also require close examination. Your Committee regards the circumstances surrounding the acquisition of the interim search and rescue craft by the Department of the Navy as most unsatisfactory and believes that the Department has a clear responsibility to ensure that they are not repeated in other areas of its administration. While it appears that the deficiencies that occurred in the drawing accounts operated by the Department of Social Services have been virtually overcome, some of the evidence reflects inadequate standards of past performance in the Department's accounting operations. Your Committee's decision to limit the area of its inquiry this year has inhibited inquiry into a range of matters which, in other circumstances would have led to public examination. Your Committee would therefore, refer its successor Committee to other matters mentioned in that report, for evaluation in the context of further public scrutiny. Honourable members will recall that in its Eighty-Ninth Report your Sixth Committee established the helpful practice of a Committee, at the close of its term, reporting to the Parliament upon its overall programme, the situation regarding work in progress and any problems which could affect the Committee appointed in the succeeding Parliament. The One Hundred and Fourteenth Report follows the procedure adopted in 1966. In particular it relates to changes in Committee personnel, Committee policy, the programme for the 3 years 1967 to 1969, Treasury minute procedures, annual estimates of expenditure, Committee facilities, assistance provided by the Auditor-General, the Public Service Board and the Department of the Treasury, Committee staffing and the state of the present work programme. In recent years there has been a significant increase in the level of activity achieved by your Committee. As one measure of this increase, it might be noted that in the 11 years from 1953 to 1963 inclusive, 63 Public Accounts Committee reports were submitted to the Parliament. By comparison, no fewer than 51 reports were submitted during the 6 years from 1964-1969. The increased activity, however, has brought problems associated with the staffing establishment of your Committee and, more recently, the existing committee rooms have proved inadequate for the purposes of public inquiries. Your Committee reports that the early rising of the Parliament, coupled with the staffing problems referred to has precluded reports from being presented in connection with our inquiry into the Advance to the Treasurer and the Consolidated Revenue Fund and our inquiry into the Department of Shipping and Transport. These reports, your Committee must refer, reluctantly, to its successor Committee in the Twenty-Seventh Parliament. I commend the Reports to honourable members. Ordered that the reports be printed. Sitting suspended from 12.49 to 2.15 p.m. {: .page-start } page 1967 {:#debate-27} ### SLEEPING QUARTERS FOR OFFICERS AND JUNIOR SAILORS AT HMAS ALBATROSS', NOWRA {:#subdebate-27-0} #### Public Works Committee - Report and Approval of Work {: #subdebate-27-0-s0 .speaker-JWV} ##### Mr CHANEY:
Perth -- In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-66, I present a report relating to the following proposed work: >Construction of sleeping quarters for officers and junior sailors at HMAS 'Albatross', Nowra, New South Wales. {: .speaker-JWV} ##### Mr CHANEY: -- by leave- This report is presented in the dying stages of this Parliament and of necessity the Committee had to use some speed in hearing the evidence on the proposed work so that it could present the report to Parliament this session, and this has been remarked upon in the report itself. This report is the last of fifty that have been presented by the Committee to this Parliament. It is interesting to note that in the last16 years the Public Works Committee has had referred to it 140 submissions, of which fifty have come in the last 3 years. This has thrown a tremendous strain on the permanent staff of the Committee which is led by **Mr Adamson,** the Secretary, his assistant, **Mr Murdoch** and one stenographer-typist, **Mrs Thompson.** I want to place on record the Committee's appreciation of the work they have done. They faced mammoth tasks in preparing reports for presentation to Parliament. In this report the Committee has drawn attention to the apparent high cost of providing accommodation for servicemen. I want to make it quite clear that not one member of the Committee criticised the standards laid down as being too high; rather I venture to say that we could well criticise some of the existing standards. The main concern of the Committee is the cost per person of supplying accommodation which appears to be too high, and in the report a suggestion is made on what might be done about this by the next Public Works Committee. I move: >That the report be printed. {: #subdebate-27-0-s1 .speaker-KJO} ##### Mr JAMES:
Hunter -- I endorse the remarks of the honourable member for Perth **(Mr Chaney),** particularly those concerningthe staff of the Public Works Committee. As honourable members are aware this Committee functions in the interests of the Parliament and the nation generally. {: .speaker-6V4} ##### Mr Daly: -- Are you a member of the Committee? {: .speaker-KJO} ##### Mr JAMES: -- I am a member of the Committee and proud of it. {: .speaker-K8B} ##### Mr Curtin: -- And a good member too. {: .speaker-KJO} ##### Mr JAMES: -- Yes. In dealing with matters referred to it the Committee puts aside Party politics. It is true, as the honourable member for Perth said, that fifty reports have been submitted to Parliament in the last 3 years and that in the last 15 years there have been 140 references to the Committee. This gives the Parliament an indication of the pressure of work under which the Committee has operated, particularly in the last Parliamentary session. On behalf of the Labor Party members of that Committee I support the remarks of the honourable member for Perth, the Chairman of the Committee, and I pay a special tribute to the Committee staff consisting of **Mr Adamson, Mr Murdoch** and **Mrs Thompson,** who have maintained the high traditions of the Public Service and who were at all times extremely courteous and helpful to members of the Committee irrespective of the pressure of work which they encounter from time to time. Question resolved in the affirmative. {: #subdebate-27-0-s2 .speaker-009MM} ##### Mr KELLY:
Minister for the Navy · Wakefield · LP -- by leave - I move: >That in accordance with the provisions of the public Works Committee Act 1913-66, 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 Bouse: > >Construction of Sleeping Quarters for Officers and Junior Sailors at HMAS 'Albatross', Nowra, New South Wales. The proposal involves construction of two sleeping blocks for nine senior officers and seventy-eight junior officers and one junior sailors' sleeping block for 144 men. The estimated cost is $900,000. 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. I would like to thank the Public Works Committee for the expedition with which it handled this matter. There was a good deal of urgency about it and I appreciate very much the co-operation of the Committee in finalising this matter. Following on from the remarks, made by the honourable member for Perth **(Mr Chaney),** who is Chairman of the Committee, and the honourable member for Hunter **(Mr James),** a member of that Committee, I want to say how much I, as the Minister who represents the Minister for Works, have valued the standard of responsibility and competence that the Committee has shown during the life of this Parliament. I am sure that all honourable members would wish me to draw particular attention to the standards of guidance that I have received from the Chairman of that Committee. I would like to pay a tribute to the honourable member for Dalley **(Mr O'Connor),** a former Deputy Chairman of that Committee, who for many years brought to that Committee an absence of partisan politics and a good deal of responsibility. I would not like to let this opportunity pass without paying tribute to the Committee which has worked so well, particularly during the last Parliamentary session. Question resolved in the affirmative. {: .page-start } page 1968 {:#debate-28} ### SOCIAL SERVICES {:#subdebate-28-0} #### Ministerial Statement {: #subdebate-28-0-s0 .speaker-DB6} ##### Mr WENTWORTH:
Minister for Social Services · Mackellar · LP -- by leave - I have two pieces of good news to convey to honourable members. The first is that the Premier of Victoria has indicated to the Prime Minister **(Mr Gorton)** that Victoria will become a participating State in the deserted wives legislation which was passed by this Parliament last year. This means that all States in Australia will now participate in this scheme, and I think that honourable members will regard this as a piece of good news. The second piece of good news is that New South Wales has decided to participate in the Government's home care programme, and this decision gives the Government great gratification. Queensland has already decided to participate in this programme and this means that already more than half of the population of Australia will receive the benefits provided under the relevant Act. I know that this is something which cannot be achieved overnight, but I am hoping that when the other States have had time to consider the Government's programme and make the necessary arrangements they will also be participating States in this scheme. When the Government receives their assent to participate I will make an appropriate statement to the House. I am sorry that time will not permit this announcement to be made in this session. I am not foolish enough to think that what has been done by this Government in the field of social services is perfect. I know that there are still gaps to be plugged, but I think that the House will agree with me that the two matters that I have been able to announce to it today have filled two of the gaps. {: .page-start } page 1968 {:#debate-29} ### PENSIONS {:#subdebate-29-0} #### Discussion of Matter of Public Importance {: #subdebate-29-0-s0 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -I have received a letter from the honourable member for Grayndler **(Mr Daly)** proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely: >The failure of the Government to provide fringe benefits' to all pensioners under the tapered means test proposals. I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to stand in their places. (More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places) {: #subdebate-29-0-s1 .speaker-6V4} ##### Mr DALY:
Grayndler -- At the outset let me express my regret that Government members are so disinterested in this problem that only a few of them are in the House. I feel that I should make that comment at this stage. However, my time is limited and I want to mention the remarks made by the Minister for Social' Services **(Mr Wentworth)** in his second reading speech on the Social Services Bill. He said that under the tapered means test there will be 100,000 new age pensioners, 2,500 invalid pensioners, 27,500 widow pensioners, and 14,000 Service pensioners under the Repatriation Act, making a total of 144,000 people who will come within the scope of the Act for the first time. But these pensioners, who are deemed to be entitled to a part pension of some amount, will be denied all fringe benefits. I will list the fringe benefits that will be denied to these 144,000, who make up roughly 13% or 14% of the pensioner population now. The fringe benefits to which they are not entitled include the pensioner medical service and hospital and medical benefits. They will not be entitled to rebates on radio and television licences and telephone rentals. They will not be entitled to hearing aids. This benefit was introduced in April 1968 and applied to eligible pensioners on the basis of a hiring charge of $10 on aids supplied by the Commonwealth Acoustic Laboratories. In addition they will not receive the travel concessions given by State governments, concessions on municipal rates and matters of a like nature, because, apart from their not having the money, the States may well take as a guide the basis laid down by the Commonwealth. I mention this so that the situation will be clear. It is aggravated by the fact that throughout his speech the Minister indicated that the pensioners getting the benefit at this time were a very deserving section. In his second reading speech he said: >It has been decided that the new pensioners who come in by reason of the extended taper limits will not be entitled to the Commonwealth fringe benefits which are available to existing pensioners. Accordingly, those with means as assessed in excess of the free area plus the full rate of pension will not qualify for these extra concessions - pensioner medical service, funeral benefit and rebates on telephones, radio and television. In effect, those single pensioners who at present have means as assessed of $25 per week or over - married couples 843.50 per week- will not be eligible for these Commonwealth concessions. He then made a few other remarks and added: . . it is fell that pensioners in these upper ranges should be able to afford normal hospital and medical insurance and to pay for their telephones, radio and television at the normal rate. At a later stage he stressed how needy were these people who were coming into the scheme. He also said: >Among the main beneficiaries from the new arrangement will be recipients of superannuation pensions and recipients of war pensions, including those totally and permanently incapacited pensioners and war widows who have little private resources outside their repatriation entitlements. In other words, he stressed the needs of those who were coming into the scheme, in the opening paragraphs of his speech he said that pensioners were better off under this Government than they ever have been. He then said: so that, in terms of real purchasing power, counting in the fringe benefits, these people, who are the ones most in need, will today have nearly twice what they had in the old days when Labor was in office. The point I make is that, without the fringe benefits, the Minister reduces these people to the poverty line again. Why have they not been given these fringe benefits? Today we have two categories of pensioners, one with and one without. The Government is again categorising those people who are in need. I will not go over all the categories again, but they include the sick and the nearly sick, the frail and the frail aged, the walking sick and the lying sick. Now we have pensioners with benefits and pensioners without benefits. The Minister may well say that the Government has to negotiate with the Australian Medical Association before more groups of pensioners can be included in the pensioner medical service. I accept that and concede that the Government may not have had time to do this. But I make the point that the Government did not prepare this matter adequately only because an election is pending and it wanted to get the Bill on the statute book for electoral purposes. However, this argument does not apply to rebates on radio and television licences and telephone rentals. The Government can give those benefits immediately because they are within its jurisdiction. It has no excuse for not granting them. Hearing aids are in the same position; they come from the Commonwealth Acoustic Laboratories and should not be denied to this needy section of the community. This benefit could be given now by the action of the Minister for Health **(Dr Forbes).** Why cannot the funeral benefit and similar benefits be given now? They come within the Government's jurisdiction. The Government is not prepared at this stage to give to this needy section of the community benefits that would at the most cost$10m, although it has a Budget of $7,000m and has spent the best part of $400m on the F111 aircraft. But this is not the first time that the Government has failed to give the pensioners justice. I will quote the Minister on this matter. From 1955 until 1st January 1966, there was a special means test for eligibility for the pensioner medical service. This was $4 for single pensioners and $8 for married pensioners. It was separate from the means as assessed test applied to applicants for pensions. From 1st January 1966, this special means test was eliminated and 120,000 pensioners, together with 17,000 dependants, became eligible for the pensioner medical service. When the permissible income was increased in 1955, the rigorous means test of $2 for single people and $4 for married people applying at that time was continued for the next11 years until 1 966. By some miraculous chance, this was an election year and with an election pending the Government negotiated with the doctors, paid them more and at the instigation of the Australian Medical Association, and only then, it gave this deserving section of the community what it was entitled to receive. But for11 years 105,000 pensioners did without medical benefits. They were put in a corner and were separated from another section that happened to get the pension earlier. The Government is now perpetrating the kind of action that it took at that time. Labor continually moved in this Parliament to have the pensioner medical service granted to these people, but the Government consistently opposed it. However, when an election was pending, it took this policy as its own, said it was good and after 11 years of suffering these pensioners received what was their due. Now we find that, if this Government is returned to office, for another 10 years perhaps pensioners needing medical care, this most deserving section of the community, will be denied it and they will also be denied other fringe benefits. There is no doubt that the Minister for Health has gone full circle. He has done a real trapeze act. I do not doubt his own attitude, but he cannot influence the Cabinet. The rest of the Government will not grant these benefits. In a speech on 23rd September, which is reported in Hansard of that date at page 1246, the Minister for Social Services, who was then a back bench member, said: >The second feature which I find should be especially commended is the removal of the obsolete means test on the pensioner medical service. That sounds good, does it not? {: .speaker-K8B} ##### Mr Curtin: -- Who said that? {: .speaker-6V4} ##### Mr DALY: -- The Minister for Social Services. He continued: >This is a very great step forward and one on which the Government deserves full congratulations. We know that this has involved some difficulties, not entirely of a fiscal character. > >One of the effects of the removal of this means test is to improve the social services means test situation as a whole. I am voicing, perhaps, a little disappointment that more has not been done in this regard. . . . The point I come back to is that the Minister at the time commended this change but now, in a second reading speech that he delivered in this Parliament in which he referred to these people as the most deserving section of the community, he has refused to give effect to this policy. He is the Minister responsible. He could have negotiated with the Australian Medical Association. After all, why should that Association be able to stand over the Government? Why does the Minister in his self-respecting way not ensure that he introduces measures that are beneficial to pensioners, no matter what pressure groups may be opposed to them? The Government has adopted word for word, with the exception of the cost estimate, Labor's 1966 policy on the tapered means test. While it was on the job why did the Government not accept the second part of our policy which provided for the issue of a medical entitlement card to all persons of pensionable age, irrespective of income? The cost of providing this benefit would be not more than Si 4m in a full year. It is no good saying that the country cannot afford these things. The Government has unlimited funds to spend on all kinds of activities but when it comes to the provision of fringe benefits for pensioners, which mean so much to these people, the Government in its contemptible and niggardly fashion turns its back on them and refuses to go all the way with benefits. What is a pensioner? I wonder. Is it a person who gets the pension together with all the fringe benefits or is it one of the 13% who do not get the fringe benefits. If it is good enough to give a person a pension and to boast of what the tapered means test means, it is good enough to give the fringe benefits. Everybody knows that the persons to whom the tapered means test will apply are needy people. There are thousands or superannuated people in the country who seek under the Budget only some measure of assistance in time crf sickness which, having regard to our haphazard health scheme, can be a very costly time for such people. I say to the countless thousands of superannuated people that they will not qualify for fringe benefits. While the Government may dismiss lightly the cost of television and radio licences, there is one thing that elderly people want above all else - free medical and hospital attention. The very things that they want most are denied to them by this Government. No explanation has been given for the Government's attitude. I do not know whether the Minister for Social Services will participate in this debate but he should because he is responsible for the overall administration of social services, notwithstanding that the provision of medical and hospital care for pensioners is handled by the Minister for Health. I hope that a reasonable explanation will be given for the Government's attitude. Let us not forget that in his annual report for 1965-66 the Director-General of Health stated that the most needy section of the community was denied these benefits. The report reads: >It is estimated that a further 120,000 age, invalid, widow and service pensioners and 17,000 of their dependants became eligible for enrolment as a result of this relaxation of the Pensioner Medical Service means test. The Government stands condemned out of its own mouth. It has said that 120,000 pensioners and 17,000 of their dependants were kept waiting for 11 years before they became eligible for pensioner medical benefits. In introducing the Social Services Bill recently the Minister for Social Services stressed that the most needy section of the population was that section of people in receipt of pensions. He said that the legislation embraced repatriation and service pensioners who wanted some element of support in the way of fringe benefits, but the legislation denies them this support. If the Ministers who speak in this debate cannot say why medical and hospital attention is denied to these people surely they will tell us why the Government is not prepared to exempt these people from the payment of television and radio licences and telephone charges, and why it will not increase the funeral benefit and provide free hearing aids for them. It is idle for the Government to say that it does not have the money to do these things. All Ministers have said that money is no object. The Minister for Social Services told us that the Government has decided to introduce the tapered means test at virtually no cost to the country. The Treasurer **(Mr McMahon)** has often told us that we have never had it better. The Government has spent millions on the FI 1 1. It has spent thousands of millions on all sorts of things, but nothing can be done to provide fringe benefits for all pensioners. The Government deserves the condemnation of every fair minded person in the community for its inability to face up to the problem of looking after pensioners. It has been guilty of categorising pensioners - of giving a benefit to one section while refusing it to another. When Labor takes over on 25th October the people will get what they are entitled to. Pensioners will get their fringe benefits. We will do away with discrimination against the sick, the aged and the elderly. We will abandon the piecemeal approach that has been adopted by this Government. We will attend to the needs of pensioners. The Government's approach is not a new policy. It is the same old policy - the same old wicked way that brings only more suffering to a most deserving section of the community. {: #subdebate-29-0-s2 .speaker-KFH} ##### Dr FORBES:
Minister for Health · .Barker · LP -- The suggestion the Opposition is putting forward in this debate is that by granting a pension to people who did not previously receive such assistance, the Government is actually discriminating against them. The claim is that this alleged discrimination comes about because while these people will receive extra income they will not at the same time receive free medical service and other fringe benefits. It is a specious claim but it does at least provide another opportunity, which I welcome, to explain the differences between the way the Opposition looks at the question of providing health and welfare services and the realistic way in which the Government approaches the matter. The crux of the matter is that the Opposition, having no responsibilities, is attempting to fool people into believing that a government can and should provide health and welfare benefits at the same level for everybody. It appeals to the egalitarian impulse of the Australian people with the promises of more benefits of every kind for everybody. Then, of course, it neglects to explain in any precise way how this could be done. As soon as it is challenged on the workability of its propositions it immediately qualifies its promises or endeavours to evade the question by offering some new promise. This is what is happening in this case. The Leader of the Opposition **(Mr Whitlam)** has proposed a health scheme which does not stand up to questions on its costing. So now, by suggesting that the Government is discriminating against tapered means test pensioners by not providing ' free medical services, he is implying that the Opposition, if it had the chance, would include every category of pensioner in the Pensioner Medical Service. Or is he? As at this morning the Whitlam plan provided for married couples of pensionable age earning between $43.50 and $70 a week - that is, the tapered pensioner group - to be obliged to meet their li% of income contributions towards health insurance coverage; or to be more specific that the tax obligations of these people would be increased by at least 8%. Apparently before today the Leader of the Opposition was of the view that persons on these income levels ought fairly to be obliged to make contributions towards the cost of their health care. It is, of course, the Government's view. I make no pretence that it is anything else. But now that the Government is being attacked for not agreeing to provide free general practitioner medical services for the new tapered means test pensioner I suggest that rational consideration of the matter requires a statement from the Leader of the Opposition as to where he stands today on the question of health contributions by these people. Is he proposing to make yet another change to his plan? If so what is the cost of this change? It is obvious that it would be very substantial! - on a quick calculation at least two and a half times the amount mentioned by the honourable member for Grayndler **(Mr Daly).** And if yet another change has been made to the Whitlam health plan, when can we expect that the alterations will stop and we can start to consider the plan which Labor is really putting forward? This is just another example of how the honourable gentleman has built his whole ambiguous edifice of promises and of why it collapses at the first hard look. Just supposing, and leaving aside the contribution aspects for a moment, that the Leader of the Opposition tried to introduce a scheme whereby he would provide free medical, pharmaceutical and hospital services to a substantial number of people with income above any realistic poverty line. Could he really do so? At present the Commonwealth Government has an arrangement under which State hospitals provide public ward accommodation free to pensioners and for which they are recompensed by the Commonwealth Government at the rate of $5 per pensioner per day. The State governments and the hospitals already claim that the provision by them of free hospital treatment for pensioners is a particular burden on their finances. They certainly would not agree to honour any wild promises by the Leader of the Opposition to extend free hospital services to a very substantial number of people having incomes above the basic pension. The only way the States could reasonably be expected to extend free hospital accommodation to a large new group of beneficiaries would be for the Leader of the Opposition to negotiate new rates of payment by the Commonwealth. And what this would cost the Commonwealth is, of course, impossible to predict with any precision. While he was engaged in this exercise the Leader of the Opposition would also have to be negotiating with the Austraiian Medical Association to work out the price to be paid to doctors for treating the new group of free medical service beneficiaries. So, quite apart from the larger question of whether a government should seek simply to spread the resources available for health and welfare over the whole population or whether it should endeavour to direct the most care where it is most needed, the implied suggestion by the Leader of the Opposition that his health scheme would somehow provide completely free treatment for a group of people above the old pension limits is plainly one which indicates the fallacy of his claim to have a validly costed alternative health scheme. But now to get on to my main argument against the Leader of the Opposition's propositions for socialised medicine. The Australian people have legitimate expectations of ready access to high quality health services and the role of a responsible government is to allocate the available money and resources in the way which provides that access in the most equitable way for all concerned. There are three approaches open. The first approach - that of pegging usage of health services at the present level - is one we do not for a moment need to consider. We must progress. The second approach of promising to meet all health demands whatever they are may be attractive in the abstract. Certainly it has attracted the Leader of the Opposition. But, for a government with a responsible attitude, this approach also has to be rejected in favour of a third approach - that is a policy of providing selectively for the needs of the people according to the degree of their needs. In particular, we should ensure thai the people whose needs are greatest will receive first priority. So, our policy is to provide a general level of assistance and incentive to all people in the community and, at the same time, to direct special help to people in the greatest need. Within this framework we also aim to encourage thrift, self-help and self-reliance. Indeed, the tapered pension proposal is designed to do just that. The tapered means test represents a great social advancement in that it will improve the quality of the life lived by many of our retired citizens and will assist the productivity of the nation by encouraging people to supplement their pensions by earnings. In taking the decision to introduce this very significant improvement to our social welfare system, the Government considered the question of whether all the people who would qualify for income assistance by way of the taper should receive, in addition, fringe benefits such as free medical, pharmaceutical and hospital services. Under the taper arrangements, income assistance is available up to the level of $40 a week for a single person and $70 a week for married couples. The Government in introducing the taper arrangements did not wish to disturb the eligibility of any existing pensioners for free health services. The eligibility ceiling for the pensioner medical service is therefore set at $43.50 for a married couple and S25 for a single person. And so. since the introduction of the tapered means test will cost some $49m a year, it seemed that the fair thing to do was to retain the current eligibility levels for fringe benefits such as the pensioner medical service. It seemed to us that by granting pensioners the benefit of the taper we were helping to provide them with increased income to meet their day to day commitments, including health insurance, and thereby to continue their right to obtain medical and hospital treatment at a level of their own choice. I believe that only the impoverished group in the community who has a real claim for, and should receive, special help by way of free health services. People who can afford to do so should be expected to accept normal responsibility for a fair contribution towards the upkeep of our society. Wc are applying the principle of assisting those who are comparatively impoverished in the Government's current plans for assistance to low income families. This proposal will be debated later this afternoon. Any government can assist particular groups in need adequately without cutting across the broad principles of individual responsibility applying to the community as a whole. Should free services be made available to a much higher proportion of the community, such as is apparently suggested by the Opposition, the cost to the majority of taxpayers could be unacccptably high. In any suggestion that free medical services should be made available to this new group of pensioners created by the taper arrangements, we must remember that, as my colleague the Minister for Social Services **(Mr Wentworth)** said in his second reading speech on the Social Services Bill on 9th September, if the response to the taper measures is good then they can be followed by more in the same direction. So, in time, we may be thinking in terms of not some 140,000 people but many more. Do the members of the Opposition suggest that instead of helping low income families - those receiving less than $39 a week - we should have directed our efforts towards providing free health cover for couples with incomes above $43.50, because that, in fact, is the kind of decision which has to be made in this area? Since the Leader of the Opposition's methods of costing just do not seem to work when it is real money you are handling, we had to make our assessment of what we should do on the basis of actual money and real people and real needs. We reasoned that people on taper pensions were in financial circumstances markedly beyond the poverty level, especially as family obligations would have disappeared virtually in all cases. Such people, we considered, were not in a class warranting health benefits beyond those available to the general run of people in the community. The Government opposes the matter of public importance proposed by the honourable member for Grayndler. {: #subdebate-29-0-s3 .speaker-JO8} ##### Mr BARNARD:
Bass -- The Opposition has just listened to an apology by the Minister for Health **(Dr Forbes)** for his own failures. The Minister has now been told - at least he was told during the course of this debate - that the Nimmo Committee, which he set up, made 42 recommendations of which this Government has accepted one. What we are concerned about this afternoon is the fact that the pensioner medical service provisions and the other fringe benefits, to which the honourable member for Grayndler **(Mr Daly)** referred earlier, have not been extended to those people who will qualify under the Government's tapered means test. Very few people in Australia who will benefit as a result of the tapered means test realised at the time that they would not be entitled to the fringe benefits, to the concessions now normally available to pensioners such as a reduction in television licence fees, cheaper telephone facilities and the normal rate concessions that apply to many pensioners. The Minister for Health mentioned none of these things this afternoon. He attempted to get in a little propaganda to cover his own failures. I think I should bring this debate back to the matter of public importance raised by the honourable member for Grayndler. Therefore I read the subject again: >The failure of the Government to provide fringe benefits to all pensioners under the tapered means test proposals. The Minister for Health had little to say about the fact that these people will not be entitled to the benefit of the pensioner medical service or of a medical entitlement card which is now issued to certain pensioners. The honourable member for Grayndler dealt with those people who are in receipt of age, invalid and other classes of pensions. I want to refer to the Service pensioners who will qualify under the provisions of the legislation relating to the tapered means test introduced in this House by the Minister for Civil Aviation **(Mr Swartz).** As all honourable members understand, a Service pensioner is entitled to the same concessions as those which apply to an age pensioner except for this difference: A Service pension is granted at the age of 60 years whereas, under the social services legislation, an age pension is granted at 65 years. No-one in this Parliament was more vocal than the Minister for Social Services **(Mr Wentworth),** who now sleeps on the front bench, in persistently advocating, when he was sitting on the back bench, reforms after the Government earlier had applied a means test to the issue of medical entitlement cards. The Minister for Social Services will be fully aware of the number of amendments moved to social service and repatriation Bills when they came before this House in an endeavour to extend the benefit of the pensioner medical service to all pensioners who qualified under the legislation. The Minister for Social Services will remember the means test that was applied at that time; from memory I think that a married couple with income in excess of $8 a week above the pension rate were not entitled to the provisions of the pensioner medical service. In the case of a single person the means test came into operation at $4 a week. Again I say that no-one was more vocal at that time than the present Minister for Social Services. Yet only a few weeks ago he introduced in this Parliament legislation applying the same kind of restrictions which he vehemently opposed when he sat on the back bench. At that time he wanted the benefit of the pensioner medical service to be extended to all pensioners in Australia and the complete abolition of the means test. Now, as Minister for Social Services, he accepts the proposition that the Minister for Health supportted this afternoon. What nonsense it is to say that the country cannot afford it. The honourable member for Grayndler presented figures to the House this afternoon to indicate the number of people who will benefit as a result of the Government's decision to introduce the tapered means test. The cost would be far less than the cost of one Fill aircraft. Yet we have been told by the Minister for Health that it cannot be done. I ask: Has the Minister attempted to negotiate with the Australian Medical Association? I do not accept the proposition of the Minister that these benefits should not apply to those who will qualify under the new tapered means test. We ought to consider the whole context of the proposition covered in the subject raised by the honourable member for Grayndler. Two classes of pensioners will be affected - those who qualify under the social services legislation and those who qualify as Service pensioners. No-one has been more critical of the Government's attitude than the Returned Services League. A statement was issued only a few days ago by the National President of the RSL in which he said: >RSL members were deeply concerned at the fact that those ex-servicemen and women who would now receive a part service pension under the new tapered means test would not qualify for repatriation hospital and medical benefits. All honourable members will recall the resolution moved by the Opposition to ensure that all returned servicemen from World War I and the Boer War receive free hospital and medical treatment whether or not their disabilities were war caused. The Government opposed the proposal in this House although it was passed in the other place. Then another Bill was introduced in this House which meant that in future the Repatriation Bill would be a money Bill. The Opposition has never been able to achieve success with its proposal. I understand from figures supplied to me by the returned servicemen's organisation that about 14,000 ex-service men and women would be eligible for Service pensions under the tapered means test. They mainly comprise people who served in World War I. Probably they have disabilities which they have not been able to prove are due to war service. I ask: Are they not entitled to receive the benefits of the pensioner medical service? The Minister for Health says no. The Minister for Social Services, with equal generosity, also says no, despite the fact that he was one of the most consistent in advocating extension of the pensioner medical service to all pensioners in Australia. That was his attitude when he was among those sitting on the back bench on the Government side during the last Parliament. Today it will be interesting to see what happens and to listen to what the Minister for Social Services has to say about this proposition. In many cases pensioners who will come within the scope of the tapered means test probably will benefit to the extent of $1 or $2 a week. They are not concerned about the additional $2 a week. They are concerned about the fringe benefits that they may receive; such as the pensioner medical service, the medical entitlement card, reduced television licence fees and certain other things. The additional $1 or $2 a week does not matter so much to them. They are concerned about the fringe benefits and that is the purpose of this debate instigated by the honourable member for Grayndler. This Government claims to be generous in its attitude to the pensioners of Australia, particularly the section I have been referring to - the ex-servicemen from World War I who have not been able to prove that their disabilities are war caused. The Opposition believes that this Government should give those people the benefit of free medical and hospital treatment. The Government could help them by extending to them the benefit of the pensioner medical service. Only 14,000 will benefit. 1 conclude by pointing out that the RSL was completely justified, as are all sections of the community, in being critical of the Government's attitude in this respect. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -Order! The honourable member's time has expired. {: #subdebate-29-0-s4 .speaker-KIH} ##### Mr LUCOCK:
Lyne -- First 1 should like to refer to one or two of the comments of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition **(Mr Barnard)** and of the honourable member for Grayndler **(Mr Daly).** The Deputy Leader of the Opposition claimed that the Minister for Social Services **(Mr Wentworth)** was asleep on the front bench. This is not correct. However, it would not really matter if the Minister were asleep, because he knew what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was going to say, since we have heard his speech three times in the House in the last few weeks. So it would not make much difference to the Minister's understanding of the speech ot the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. The honourable member for Grayndler claimed that Ministers had said that money is no object. That, of course, was an exaggerated statement. Money must always be an object, and full consideration must be given to all budgetary proposals and to finance that is available through the Treasury. Any responsible government and any responsible Minister must consider these facts. I will refer to this matter later. Of course, what was really meant was that if it is practicable to increase social service benefits within the economic framework of the nation then money should not be regarded as the only factor. Proper consideration has been given to all factors in the preparation of this legislation. 1 congratulate the Opposition for introducing this matter of public importance. I should imagine that what has happened is that during the last couple of weeks some member of the Opposition has said: 'Look, we have not done very well in the last 2 or 3 weeks. The Government has had the advantage all the time. It has beaten us on everything and we have lost ground. What is the best thing we can do in the closing days of this Parliament to get the maximum political advantage?' I imagine that the reply would have been: 'How about doing something about fringe benefits for pensioners in relation to the tapered means test proposal ?' Honourable members opposite apparently thought that this was a good suggestion and so they have raised this subject as a matter of public importance, even though we have recently concluded debates in this House on social service and welfare benefits. The public is not quite as gullible as the Opposition apparently thinks it is. If the Opposition maintains that fringe benefits should be provided, then two things must happen: Firstly, a greater amount of money must be made available and, secondly, there may have to be a reduction of benefits that are already being given to other people. I ask the Opposition: What steps will it take? Will it reduce benefits that are being given to some people or will it try to find additional finance from somewhere or other to meet the additional costs involved? Had honourable members opposite listened to or read the speech of the Minister for Social Services when he moved the second reading of the Social Services Bill 1 969 they would appreciate that that legislation is part only of the Government's overall planning for social services. For their advantage let me quote what the Minister said. He said: >This Bill gives effect to the two fundamental principles of the Government's social services policy, first, to raise the general standard of pensioners, directing special relief to the areas of greatest need, and second to encourage thrift, selfhelp and self-reliance. > >These are not new principles, because they have been the guidelines of our policy ever since 1949, when the present series of Liberal-Country Party governments took over the reins of government. In these 20 years, the real value of the pension paid to a single aged person or on invalid who has nothing else and who pays rent will have been increased by about 75%, and in addition the pensioner medical service and other fringe benefits have been made available to him, so that, in terms of real purchasing power, counting in the fringe benefits, these people, who are the ones most in need, will today have nearly twice what they had in the old days when Labor was in office. Widows wilh children will have had increases significantly greater than this. That statement gives the background to the Government's policy of social welfare. When one looks at this particular question one can always say that never is enough given, that more could be given and that a greater number of people could be covered. We can always say that this person, that person, this group or that group should be given a benefit, but within the framework of the Government's total planning the Government, at this particular time, has said: This is the greatest area that we can cover, and this is the area of greatest need'. One might disagree with whether the Government's choice is the correct area or the correct grouping but one could not say that we should give one group an increased benefit which necessitates a reduction of the benefit that is being paid to others. The fallacy of the Opposition's argument is proved by the number of people who are to receive the increase and the number who will be receiving the benefit of social welfare because of the Government's legislation. Under the new provisions 110,000 existing part social service pensioners will receive increases and 130,000 new pensioners will become eligible for the first time. In total, about 240,000 pensioners - age, invalid and widow - will benefit in addition to the 32,000 service pensioners who will come within some of the taper provisions under the Repatriation Act. I sincerely hope that this extension of social welfare will continue. In fact, I know it will, and that greater benefits will be given by way of social service benefits and repatriation benefits. As I said earlier, one must look at the total picture of social welfare and have regard to economic planning in determining expenditure. No-one would benefit if we so inflated our economy that benefits to pensioners had to be greatly reduced. There are factors that contribute to inflation. All honourable members realise this. It is within this framework that the Government gives careful and due consideration to such matters as social service benefits. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition referred to the expenditure on the Fill aircraft and suggested that the benefits that the Opposition proposed would not involve more than the cost of one such aircraft. If the Opposition is suggesting that we should cut our defence expenditure to give better benefits in our social welfare field, let me say that the defence of Australia is even more important than social welfare, because if we do not provide for our defence then the social welfare benefits that we provide will not be needed at all. This matter of public importance has been introduced purely and simply because of the current political situation and because the Opposition hopes that there may be something to gain from it. Let me assure the honourable member for Grayndler that when the Government is returned after the election of 25th October we, with the Minister for Social Services, will continue to put forward our policy of improving benefits in the social welfare field. I remind honourable members that the Minister for Social Services, in introducing the Social Services Bill, said: >I think that the House will agree wilh me that this Bill represents one of the most significant forward steps yet made in our Australian social service system, lt should not, of course, be considered in isolation: lt is part of the advance made over some 20 years by the present Liberal-Country Party Government, and it is the second instalment of the advance made under the Gorton Government. Nor should it be considered as something final and complete. We have done much but there is still much that we hope to do. I say to the honourable member for Grayndler that we will do much more in the next 3 years when this Liberal-Country Party Government will still occupy the Treasury bench. Benefits will continue to be given in this field as they have been given in the past. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- This discussion is now concluded. {: .page-start } page 1977 {:#debate-30} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-30-0} #### RIVER MURRAY WATERS AGREEMENT Ministerial Statement {: #subdebate-30-0-s0 .speaker-KDT} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN:
Minister for National Development · Farrer · LP -- by leave - In view of the many statements and questions in relation to the further development of the River Murray system, it seems desirable that I should clarify the position as it now stands. Honourable members will be familiar with the pattern of events which led, on 6th February this year, to a decision on the next major storage on the Murray. Technical representatives of the four governments concerned agreed that the best site for this storage is near Dartmouth, on the Mitta Mitta River, instead of at Chowilla on the Murray River. In Sydney, on 7th March, I met the Ministers responsible for water supply in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. That meeting agreed on conditions of water sharing, and other technical matters, under which the four governments would proceed wilh the construction of Dartmouth. At that meeting in Sydney, the three States specified that their agreement was conditional upon the Commonwealth providing finance to help them pay their share of the cost of the new storage. In Canberra, at the meeting with Premiers in June, this condition was met. The Commonwealth agreed to provide a loan to the States of half their share of the cost of the storage, in addition to the Commonwealth meeting its own quarter share. This committed the Commonwealth to an outlay of nearly $36m out of. a total estimated cost of $57.5m. The Commonwealth financial proposal was accepted at the time by South Australia and Victoria. In a public statement on 1 1th August the Premier of New South Wales announced that his State also would accept the financing arrangements proposed by the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth, quite reasonably, then felt that there was agreement to get Dartmouth moving, in the interests of all three States, who have a pressing need for additional water. Only one machinery procedure remained. The four parties to Thi River Murray Waters Agreement - the Commonwealth, Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia - had formally to adopt suitable amendments to the Agreement providing for the construction of Dartmouth. On the face of it, this would appear to be a relatively simple exercise. Discussions on the necessary amendments had been proceeding at officer level for some time. However, proposals have been put forward to tidy up some aspects of the Agreement, which was drawn up under quite different circumstances over 50 years ago. This has resulted in the proposal of a number of additional amendments beyond those strictly necessary to provide for the Dartmouth storage. Since the draft schedule of amendments was forwarded to the States earlier this month, further proposals and counter proposals have been raised. Some of the amendments which have been proposed are minor. Thus, agreement on the amendments is held up. In spite of our endeavours, there is no amended River Murray Waters Agreement to put before the Parliament at this time for ratification. The Dartmouth project will bring immense benefits to the River Murray system. It will, for about the same cost as Chowilla, make available much more water to Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia. It will provide nearly five times the annual yield of water that would have come from Chowilla. It will act as a stabilising influence on the Hume catchment, which at present is under-regulated. The Government is disappointed that it is not possible to bring in legislation to amend the Agreement during the life of this Parliament. This has been our wish, and our intention. Every effort will continue to reach agreement on the necessary amendments, in order to get legislation moving as soon as possible. We are hopeful of reaching an early agreement. {: #subdebate-30-0-s1 .speaker-KID} ##### Mr LUCHETTI:
Macquarie -- by leave - The statement that was read to the House by the Minister for National Development **(Mr Fairbairn)** is not only disappointing to this Parliament and the people of Australia, but particularly it is a bitter pill1 to the people of South Australia, who feel that they have been deserted in the provision of adequate water for that State. I believe that the Minister should have been more frank. In a statement on 2nd August 1967 the Minister referred to the proposed water projects in which the Commonwealth of Australia was then interested, and he proudly proclaimed the Chowilla reservoir in South Australia. This scheme, which had been investigated by the River Murray Commission, which had been approved and on which work had been commenced, seemed to offer to South Australia a very positive supply of water for many years to come. It was attractive to South Australia because it would make water available to South Australia, that water would be delivered speedily to South Australia, and there would be less opportunity for the water to be used by ether people. However, despite all the rosy expectations of the development of the Chowilla project, eventually we received the melancholy news from the Minister for National Development that work on the scheme was suspended, and more recently we were advised that the scheme was abandoned. The Minister has now told the Parliament that there are some differences and disagreements on amendments dealing with the scheme. That information should have been provided to honourable members in this place. Surely we, the Commonwealth, are entitled to know what is the cause of the hold-up and what is the cost of this delay and denial of adequate water for South Australia. The people of Australia are entitled to know, and the members of the national Parliament are entitled to know. Yet the Minister in his statement merely re-stated the advantages of the Dartmouth project. I believe that the Dartmouth project is quite an excellent one. It could render great service to the nation when constructed, and it could help to do the things set out in the Minister's statement, but whilst that may be true this Government has a moral responsibility to proceed with the Chowilla project and thus assure the South Australian people and that State of the water required for industrial development and urban development. We owe it to South Australia and to the nation to go ahead with the Chowilla project. There should be no equivocation. It is a most disappointing situation to think that in the dying hours of this twenty-sixth Parliament the Minister for National Development should have brought forward a statement that leaves little hope for the people of South Australia or for anyone else. New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia consented to the Dartmouth scheme, yet this scheme has not been commenced. There has been no development. This is to be deplored. The Australian Labor Party, when in office, will go ahead with a national waters conservation programme. We will set out to put the record straight in these matters. These matters will be taken into consideration speedily by an incoming Labor Administration, and the needs of all States wilt be provided for by the adoption of such a programme. I regret very much that the Minister has not been able to give the House more encouraging news. {: #subdebate-30-0-s2 .speaker-KWP} ##### Mr TURNBULL:
Mallee -- by leave- I represent the great Sunraysia and Robinvale fruit growing areas and other such areas along the River. I have listened very carefully to what the Minister for National Development **(Mr Fairbairn)** has said about the Chowilla Dam project and the proposed dam at Dartmouth, I listened to the honourable member for Macquarie **(Mr Luchetti)** say that South Australia will not get a fair deal. The Minister in his statement made it very clear that Dartmouth will provide nearly five times the annual yield of water that would come from Chowilla and that there will be abundant water for South Australia. Let me point out my grave concern about this matter. I have had this concern since the matter of Chowilla was first brought forward. I said that I would abide by what the experts decided. After all, I do not think that there is one man sitting in this Parliament - the honourable member for Macquarie, myself or any other honourable member - who is in the position of a technical expert to say which is the best place to have this reservoir. Certain investigations were carried out. Certainly, some start was made on the Chowilla project, but it was decided by the experts after their investigations that the best place for the dam was Dartmouth. I have supported this project right up to the hilt ever since that decision. 1 believe that, even if some money had been spent already even on Chowilla, it was no good spending more money on that project if the decision was that the dam should be built at Dartmouth. My vital interest in this matter is concerned with the great Sunraysia dried fruits area. Citrus fruit and vegetables are grown in this area also. It produces about 70% of the whole pack of Australian dried fruits. The salinity of the River Murray has caused grave concern in this area. The honourable member for Macquarie has said that the waters from Chowilla would wash the salt away from the waters used from the River Murray in the Sunraysia area. This is not what the experts believe. I point out also that Chowilla is below this fruit growing area. I cannot see how water from that project could wash the salt away because water does not run upstream. That shows how much the Opposition knows about this project. Yet, honourable members opposite appear to talk with authority on this matter. There is a great soldier settlement in the Sunraysia area which continues over the river into New South Wales. These primary producers average only 16 acres to 20 acres. The Labor Opposition is always saying how it would assist the small producer if it was in office. If the Chowilla project was proceeded with, these primary producers would be faced with the problem of increased salinity which already has caused them grave concern. This would make their operations unprofitable if they continued production in those circumstances. Therefore, 1 commend the Minister for National Development for what he has said and I commend the experts who have looked into the projects. I do hope that before very long we will see a start made on the Dartmouth project and that it will overcome the salinity in this area and which of course will give South Australia abundant water and at least more water on a better basis and of a better quality than Chowilla ever could supply. {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr Whitlam: -- **Mr Deputy Speaker,** I ask leave to speak on the same subject. {: #subdebate-30-0-s3 .speaker-KGA} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Hallett:
CANNING, WESTERN AUSTRALIA -- ls leave granted? {: .speaker-KDT} ##### Mr Fairbairn: -- No. {: #subdebate-30-0-s4 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Leave is not granted. {: .page-start } page 1980 {:#debate-31} ### AUSTRALIAN MILITARY FORCES RELIEF TRUST FUND {: #debate-31-s0 .speaker-KVR} ##### Mr SWARTZ:
Minister for Civil Aviation and Minister assisting the Treasurer · Darling Downs · LP -- Pursuant to the provisions of the Services Trust Fund Act 1947-50, 1 present the twenty-second annual report of the Australian Military Forces Relief Trust Fund for the year ended 30th June 1969 together with the report of the AuditorGeneral on the books and accounts of the Fund. Ordered that the report be printed. {: .page-start } page 1980 {:#debate-32} ### AUSTRALIAN WAR MEMORIAL {: #debate-32-s0 .speaker-009OD} ##### Mr NIXON:
Minister for the Interior · Gippsland · CP -- Pursuant to Section 23 of the Australian War Memorial Act 1962-1966, I present the annual report of the Board of Trustees of the Australian War Memorial Building for the year ended 30th June 1969 together with the financial statements and the report of the Auditor-General on those statements. Ordered that the report be printed. {: .page-start } page 1980 {:#debate-33} ### REHABILITATION OF BUILDING, GENERAL POST OFFICE, SYDNEY Approval of Work - Public Works Committee Act **Mr KELLY** (Wakefield- Minister for the Navy) [3.28] - I move: The proposal involves the rehabilitation of. the ground floor, mezzanine, first and second floors as stage 1 of a self-contained operations building housing mail handling equipment and telecommunications. The estimated cost is $1,100,000. 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. **Mr MINOGUE** (West Sydney) [3.3 lj- **Mr Speaker,** 1 am pleased that, on my last day in this House, the Minister for the Navy **(Mr Kelly),** on behal'f of the Minister for Works **(Senator Wright)** in another place, has submitted this motion in resect of work that is long overdue. Over the last 9 years, the going has been very bad for the GPO in Sydney. First, I tried to have the famous clock restored. The then Postmaster-General said that the cost of this restoration would be between f 100,000 and £250,000. I had other ideas. People had told me that the cost would be nothing like that. Tenders were called for the job. The tender that was accepted was a little less than £100,000. It was not a small job. lt involved 600 tons of stone, 10 tons of bell and 10 tons of chimes. These items were all ready to be put back into the position that they had occupied before they were removed early in the Second World War. I do not think that the then Postmaster-General worried much about the price of putting these parts of the clock back into position. Anyway, back they went. I was very upset about the appearance of this building which is situated, as honourable members all know, in Martin Place, Sydney. It is the only building in Martin Place that has not been pulled down or renovated in one form or another. {: #debate-33-s0 .speaker-JUX} ##### Mr MINOGUE:
WEST SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES -- That is a good job too. It should never have been there because ft gave a wrong indication of the time. We could never rely on it as a guide. The present Postmaster-General **(Mr Hulme)** fold me in this House that the building now under discussion had been renovated about 5 years ago. I get off the bus outside that building in Sydney nearly every morning when I am not here in Canberra. I acquainted some men who worked in the GPO and who knew all about the building with what the Postmaster-General had said. One man told me: 'You go back to the Postmaster-General and tell him that this building has not been touched for 20 years'. I came back to Canberra. I posed my question to the Minister again. He said the work had been carried out about 5 or 6 years previously. Later, 1 put another question to him. I asked him what the contract price was, who painted the place and a few other awkward questions. The next time we approached him he said we were doing so only because it was an election year. Well, I hope that the renovations now proposed are not going to be carried out simply because this is an election year. It appears that everything is being done at once. The fact is that the GPO is not only the worst looking but actually the worst building in Martin Place, Sydney. While insurance companies, banks and other organisations can pull down buildings and erect others to heights of 10, 15 or 20 storeys it seems that the GPO clock will at least be in good company when the place is rebuilt or renovated. The Liberal Government, of course, has a habit of not doing anything at the time it is asked to do it. We hope that next Saturday the Liberal Party will learn a lesson in the City of Sydney local government elections. The Liberal Government of New South Wales has cut up the greatest city in the British Commonwealth. It had 120,000 people but it now has only 42,000 people. The Liberal Party saw that it was not getting votes, and complained that with the old boundaries there was never a Liberal lord mayor. I can tell the members of the Liberal Party that they will still never have a Liberal lord mayor even with the benefit of the new boundaries, because next Saturday the Liberal Party will be beaten in the election and all its officers who send out cards and tell people how to vote will be sadly disappointed. I congratulate the Minister for the Navy. I do not know whether he has any connection with the other **Mr Kelly** who was a noted identity in Australia at one time. I refer to Ned Kelly. However, it is significant that it is a Kelly who has come to life and is going to do this job that others failed to do. {: #debate-33-s1 .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr WHITLAM:
Leader of the Opposition · Werriwa -- I rise only to refer to the exquisite irony that the last time a Liberal Government was defeated in the House of Representatives it was partly as a result of a royal commission into the construction of the very building which the Gorton Government is now, as one of its last administrative acts, asking Parliament to rehabilitate. The only other comment I would make is that it is also exquisitely ironical that the nineteenth century building whose embellishments the honourable member for West Sydney **(Mr Minogue)** has done so much to safeguard and restore has proven so much more durable and beautiful than the mid-twentieth century building whose rehabilitation we are now approving. Question resolved in the affirmative. {: .page-start } page 1981 {:#debate-34} ### PUBLIC WORKS COMMITTEE BILL 1969 Bill returned from the Senate with amendments. In Committee Consideration of Senate's amendments. Clause 17. (1.) The Committee shall, as expeditiously as is practicable - >consider each public work that is referred to it in accordance with this Act; and > >make a report to the House of Representatives concerning the expedience of carrying out the . work and concerning any other matters related to the work in respect of which the Committee thinks it desirable that the views of the Committee should be reported to the House, and, for those purposes, shall do such things and make such inquiries as it thinks necessary. > >* Senate's amendment No. 1 - in sub-clause (1.) (b), leave out " the House of Representatives", insert "both Houses of tho Parliament ". Senate's amendment No. 2 - >In sub-clause (1.) (b), leave out " the House ", insert " those Houses ". Clause 18. (I.) A Minister who is a member of the House of Representatives, or any other member of tha House, may move a motion that a public work be referred by that House to the Committee for consideration and report. (2.) A motion under the last preceding subsection may relate to a public work that has been referred to the Committee as constituted during a previous Parliament. (3.) Upon the moving of the motion, a Minister shall furnish to the House of Representatives- >a statement in relation to the public work (including the purpose of the work); and > >such plans, specifications and other particulars as the Minister thinks necessary. (4.) The Governor-General may, at any time when the Parliament is not in session or the House of Representatives is adjourned for a period exceeding one month or for an indefinite period, being a time when the Committee is in existence, refer a public work to the Committee for consideration and report to that House. (5.) After the receipt of the report of the Committee concerning a public work, the House of Representatives may pass a resolution that - > >it is expedient to carry out the work; > >it is not expedient to carry out the work; or > >for reasons or purposes stated in the resolution, the work be again referred to the Committee for consideration and report. (6.) A public work the estimated cost of which exceeds Seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars shall not be commenced unless - > >the work has been referred to the Committee in accordance with this section; > >the House of Representatives has resolved that by reason of the urgent nature of the work, it is expedient that it be carried out without having been referred to the Committee; or > >the Governor-General has, by order, declared that the work is for defence purposes and that the reference of the work to the Committee would be contrary to the public interest. (7.) A public work that has been referred to ,be Committee shall not be commenced unless the Mouse of Representatives has passed a resolution (not being a resolution that has been rescinded) that it is expedient to cany out the work. Senate's amendment No. 3 - >Leave out clause 18, insert the following clause: - " 18. - (I.) A motion may be moved in either House of the Parliament that a public work be referred to the Committee for consideration and report. " (2.) A motion under the last preceding subsection may relate to a public work that has been referred to the Committee as constituted during a previous Parliament. " (3.) Upon the moving of the motion, a Minister shall furnish to the House in which the motion is moved - > >a statement in relation to the public work (including the purpose of the work); and > >such plans, specifications and other particulars as the Minister thinks necessary. " (4.) The Governor-General may, at any time when the Parliament is not in session or the House of Representatives is adjourned for a period exceeding one month or for an indefinite period, being a time when the Committee is in existence, refer a public work to the Committee for consideration and report. " (5.) A public work that has been referred to the Committee in accordance with this section shall not be commenced before a report of the Committee concerning the work has been presented to both Houses of the Parliament. " (6.) If, after a report of the Committee concerning a public work has been presented to both Houses of the Parliament and before the work has been commenced, each House resolves that, for reasons or purposes stated in the resolution, the work, be again referred to the Committee for consideration and report, the Committee shall further consider the work and the work shall not be. commenced before a further report of the Committee concerning the work has been presented to both Houses. " (7.) A public work that has been referred to the Committee shall not be commenced unless, after the report of the Committee (or, if there has been a further reference of the work under the last preceding sub-section, the report of the Committee on the further reference) has been presented to both Houses of the Parliament, the House of Representatives has resolved that it is expedient to carry out the work. " (8.) A public work the estimated cost of which exceeds Seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars shall not be commenced unless - > >the work has been referred to the Committee in accordance with this section; > >the House of Representatives has resolved that, by reason of the urgent nature of the work, it is expedient that it be carried out without having been referred to the Committee; or > >the Governor-General has, by order, declared that (he work is for defence purposes and that the reference of the work to the Committee would be contrary to the public interest". Clause 19. (1.) Where the Committee lias *made* a report concerning a public work, the Committee (including the Committee as constituted at any subsequent time, whether during the same or another Parliament) may, if it resolves, before the work is commenced, that the report be reviewed, review the report and make a further report in accordance with section 17 of this Act to the House of -Representatives concerning the work. **»<, (3.) After the receipt of a further report by the Committee concerning a public work, the House of Representatives may, if the work has not been commenced - >rescind any previous resolution passed in accordance with sub-section (5.) of the last preceding section concerning the work; and > >pass another resolution in accordance with that sub-section concerning the work. Senate's amendment No. 4 - >In sub-clause (1.). leave out "the House of Representatives", insert "both Houses of the Parliament". Senate's amendment No. 5 - >Leave out sub-clause (3.). Clause 39. (2.) Where, immediately beforethe commencement of this Act, a proposed public work was under consideration bythe former Committee in accordance with the repealed Act, the Committee shall consider and report on the work in accordance with this Act as if the work had been referred to it under this Act. (3.) This Act applies in relation to a report made by the former Committee as if it were a report made bythe Committee under this Act. (4.) Where, immediately before the commencement of this Act, a report made under the repealed Act concerning a proposed public work was under review bythe former Committee in accordance with the repealed Act, the Committee shall review the report in accordance withthis Actas if the report had been made by it under this Act. Senate's amendment No. 6 - >Leave out sub-clauses (2.), (3.) and (4.). insert: - "(2.) Where, in relation to a public work that was referred to the former Committee before the commencement ofthis Act, the former Committee had not, beforethat commencement, made a report to the House of Representatives concerningthe work,the Committee shall give such further consideration, if any as is necessary to the work and shall report on the work, in accordance with this Act as ifthe work had been referred to it under this Act, and this Act applies in relation to the work as if it had been so referred. "(3.) Where, before the commencement of this Act, the former Committee had made a report to the House of Representatives in accordance with sub-section (5.) or (6a.) of section 15 ofthe repealed Act in relation to a public work (whether or not the House of Representatives had, before the commencement of (his Act, passed a resolution under sub-section (6.) of that section in relation tothe work) the provisions of sections 15 and 15a of the repealed Act continue to apply in relation to the work and the provisions of sections 18 and 19 of this Act do not apply in relation to the work.". **Mr KELLY** (Wakefield- Minister for the Thatthe amendments be agreed to. As the Public Works Committee Act now stands only the House of Representatives has the power to refer a public work to the Public Works Committee for examination and only the House of Representatives can decide on receipt of a report from the Public Works Committee whether or not it is expedient for a particular work to be carried out. The Public Works Committee Bill as passed by the House of Representatives retained the provisions that a public work could be referred to the Committee only from the House of Representatives, that reports from the Committee were required to be made to the House of Representatives only and that only the House of Representatives could rule that it was expedient or inexpedient to carry out the work. The amendments which have been passed by the Senate provide the Senate with concurrent rights of referral to the Committee and report by the Committee. This means that a motion may be moved in either House that a public work be referred to the Committee for consideration and report. A public work that has been referred to the Committee in accordance with this provision shall not be commenced before it report of the Committee concerning the work has been presented to both Houses. The power to resolve that it is expedient to carry out a work remains with the House of Representatives alone. The amendments give recognition to the Senate in respect of reference to the Committee and a right to have the Committee's report but do not derogate from the power of the House of Representatives alone to pass a resolution that it is expedient or not expedient to carry out the work. The Government is willing to accept the amendments. Question resolved in the affirmative. Resolution reported. Motion (by **Mr Kelly)** proposed: >That the report be adopted. {: #debate-34-s0 .speaker-JAG} ##### Mr CREAN:
Melbourne Ports -- On behalf of members of the House of Representatives I wish to say thatI am pleased to see the proper rights of this House asserted. I have waited to say this until the Committee stage was completed and we had again formed the House. I hope that at least it will be acknowledged that we have rights just as the other place has. Question resolved in the affirmative. {: .page-start } page 1984 {:#debate-35} ### NATIONAL HEALTH BILL 1969 {:#subdebate-35-0} #### Second Reading Debate resumed from 24 September (vide page 1904), on motion by **Dr Forbes:** >That the Bill be now read a second time. {: #subdebate-35-0-s0 .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr WHITLAM:
Leader of the Opposition · Werriwa -- This Bill embodies the Liberal determination to persist for yet another year with a system of multiple health insurance which its own committee of inquiry has established to be inequitable, uneconomic and ineffectual. It embodies the Liberal determination to defer for dogmatic, doctrinaire and ideological reasons the Labor alternative national health programme, which now enjoys the support of more than half the Australian electorate including 51% of normally Liberal voters. It embodies the prolongation of a system of 114 private health insurance funds which squander or retain $1 in every $4 which they receive in contributions and which cost Australians between 1959-60 and 1966- 67 about $33m in excessive operating costs and about SI 00m in idle, inaccessible reserve funds. Although in this Budget session, this preelection session, the Parliament has already twice debated matters of health, firstly in the Budget debate and secondly in the debate on the estimates for the Department of Health, the Minister for Health **(Dr Forbes)** had not himself before this week spoken on health or made a speech on any subject since he tabled the report of the Nimmo Committee on 25th March. His previous speech was in the debate on the estimates for his Department a year ago. I must concede that he has spoken three times during this week. We have had a spate of speeches. On Tuesday a matter of definite public importance was raised by one of his colleagues. It related to hospitals in Queensland and the Minister performed the remarkable feat of speaking in that debate without once mentioning the position of hospitals in Queensland as reported to him by the committee he had set up a year and a half before and whose report he had had in his hands for 6 months. Last night at 10.30 he made a second reading speech on this Bill to amend the National Health Act. About an hour ago he made his third speech on the omission from the present health scheme of those persons who will now receive social service benefits. Fringe benefits have been denied to them. Until this week the Minister has avoided debate and evaded criticism by expressing his views at question time. He has abused the forms of the House by delivering prepared mini-speeches in reply to the questions he distributes beforehand to members of his back bench claque. So too has the Prime Minister **(Mr Gorton),** who spoke after me in the Budget debate but made no reference whatsoever in his speech to my criticism of the Budget proposals on health embodied in this Bill and forecast in the Budget. The Minister for Health and the Prime Minister have between them delivered premeditated but ill-informed attacks upon Labor's health proposals in response to two questions from the honourable member for Sturt **(Mr Wilson)** and to one each from the honourable members for Grey **(Mr Jessop)** and Angas **(Mr Giles)** - three South Australian Liberal members - and the honourable members for Evans **(Dr Mackay)** and Bowman **(Dr Gibbs).** Neither Minister has displayed the same zeal or dispatch in answering questions on notice. I will concede, however, that there is one Minister who has shown himself as slow to answer questions on notice, as poorly informed on questions asked without notice by Labor members and as pathetically prone to inspire questions without notice by Liberal members, and that is the Minister for Education and Science **(Mr Malcolm Fraser).** Today's notice paper shows that I have had two questions on notice addressed to him for 4 months, five for more than 6 weeks and thirteen still outstanding all told. I give now a summary of the existing Liberal health scheme and the alternative Labor scheme. This is a Bill to amend further the National Health Act introduced in 1953 by **Sir Robert** Menzies and **Sir Earle** Page and now as irrelevant as each of them, lt is a Bill to patch up and plaster over the defects of the system of private health insurance for which the principal Act makes provision. Few families or patients could pay their doctors' and hospital accounts without Commonwealth assistance; few doctors and hospitals could have their accounts paid without Commonwealth assistance. Liberals insist that in order to secure such assistance the head of a family must pay periodic contributions to one or more of 1 14 private insurance funds which the Commonwealth Department of Health has registered. To secure maximum benefits he must pay $90 a year to the funds. If the contributor pays taxes, he can deduct the amount of his contributions from his taxable income; thus the more tax he pays the less he pays in contributions. This is the most glaring and most widespread example of Liberal taxation policies. The greater the income the less a person pays in contributions for health insurance. The smaller his income the greater is the amount he pays in contributions for health insurance. The benefit the contributor receives from his fund averages 67% of his doctors' accounts. One out of every four contributors is insured for less than the cost of a public bed and one out of every two for less than the cost of an intermediate bed. A Labor government will set up a single health insurance fund. Taxpayers will contribute 1&% of their taxable income to it with a ceiling of $100 for a family. All residents - taxpayers, pensioners, migrants, children - will receive from the fund complete payment of hospital care, including medical care in whatever ward their doctors advise. They will receive back 85% of their doctors' fees from the fund if they pay those fees themselves. Alternatively, they will not have to pay anything to their doctors if the doctors choose to send their accounts direct to the fund. Canadian doctors who operate under these arrangements send fewer than 5% of their accounts to patients, thus avoiding paper work, delay and bad debts. Now I give a detailed analysis of this Bill. The solitary novel feature of the Bill is that it embodies as a cut down caricature the only one of the Nimmo Committee's forty-two recommendations upon which, after having the Nimmo report in its hands for 6 months, the present Government, the retiring Government, has been able to make up its mind. In my speech on the Budget I described how it fell short of the Nimmo recommendation. In my speech upon the Estimates, I drew a comparison between the half-baked, half-cocked approach that the Government has taken to the Nimmo proposal for free health insur ance for impoverished families and the way in which a Labor government will implement that proposal within the framework of the alternative national health programme. Let me reiterate that analysis. The Government's proposals for free health insurance for low income families are so narrowly based as to have only the most nominal connection with the original Nimmo recommendation. Under the original Nimmo recommendation, families with three children and incomes not exceeding $42.80 a week were to receive their health insurance free. Those with incomes from $42.80 to $44.80 were to have it subsidised by two-thirds and those from $44.80 to $46.80 by one-third. Larger families were to have their allowable income increased for each additional child by $4. This was a reasonable, equitable gradation within the framework of the multiple funds, to the consideration of which the Nimmo Committee was confined by its terms of reference, lt is quite clear that the Nimmo Committee, if it had been free to do so, would have recommended the Labor scheme, lt was not free to do so. Its terms of reference restricted it to making recommendations concerning the present multiple fund system. lt was clearly implicit in the Nimmo Committee's recommendation that any family with an income below the poverty line established by the Institute of Applied Economic Research at the University of Melbourne should receive its health insurance free. I invite honourable gentlemen to look at what the Institute has described as and proved to be the poverty line, first of all in 1966 and again this very month. It is very desirable that persons listening to the Minister for Social Services **(Mr Wentwortb)** should realise that the economists in this Institute have described the present poverty line as being considerably higher than the poverty line which the Minister for Social Services has made up for himself. The Government proposes instead to provide free health insurance for couples with no children who have incomes up to $9 above the poverty line, while denying it to larger families whose incomes are $3 below that line. A Labor government will provide free health insurance for all families with incomes below the poverty line. It will do so by exempting from contributions married couples or persons claiming at least one dependant if their taxable incomes do not exceed $1,600 or their actual incomes $2,000. The effect of these exemptions will be to make free hospital care and at least 85% of medical costs available for families with one child and an income of up to $40 a week; for families with two children and an income of up to $42.50 a week; and for larger families with an additional $2.50 of allowable income for each additional child. Similar benefits are provided automatically under Labor's scheme for social service beneficiaries and newly arrived migrants. No section of the community is more critical of the Liberal health scheme than migrants who have enjoyed in their home countries - both in Britain and Europe - the benefits of universal health insurance. Labor's proposals will provide a complete insurance cover for some 300,000 needy families at an annual cost of $3. 5m, whereas this Liberal Bill will provide an incomplete, ineffectual cover for 100,000 families at an annual cost of $8.1m. I went through the details of these calculations in my speech on the estimates for the Department of Health. Under the Nimmo recommendation low income families would be exempt from all medical fees, including so-called deterrent fees, and under Labor's alternative health programme they would pay at the most 15%. This Liberal Bill offers no relief whatsoever in this respect. Instead it leaves needy families a prey to existing medical benefit schedules which return to contributors in New South Wales as little as 55% of the cost of a surgery consultation, 43% of the cost of a home visit and 68% of the cost of a confinement. This Liberal Bill involves costly and cumbersome means testing and form filling on a massive scale. Under Labor's scheme the head of a family who claims exemption from contributions would merely make an entry on his annual return of income in the same way as is now done by persons who claim the age allowance. This Liberal Bill will provide cover for social service beneficiaries who are not fund members only after a waiting period of 2 weeks. Many apathetic, under-educated and disturbed persons may therefore find themselves disqualified at their time of greatest need. Labor's scheme provides cover automatically for all residents of Australia without a single application or an additional form. Under this Liberal Bill contributors who just miss out on free insurance will pay the largest contributions to the existing funds. They will pay about $60 in contributions to the funds, while families with incomes three times as large will pay only $40. Under Labor's scheme contributors who just miss out on free insurance will still pay the smallest amount for insurance. The Nimmo Committee reported: >Contributions have increased to such an extent that they are beyond the capacity of some members of the community and involve considerable hardship for others. The Treasurer **(Mr McMahon)** confirmed, in response to my question of 28th August, that the cost of family cover on an income of $2,000 is $67.36 a year; on an income of $3,000 it is $60.66; and on an income of $10,000 it is $40.57. What I have just said by way of detailed analysis of the Bill 1 have already given in my speeches on the Budget on 19th August and on the estimates of the Department of Health on 10th September. No questions have been asked of the Minister for Health or even the Prime Minister on what I have said since those speeches. Neither of them has issued a statement outside the House on those speeches. We can therefore assume that it is impossible to fault what I said on these matters in my speech on the Budget and my speech on the estimates, because my remarks have not been challenged in the intervening sitting days. Can even the Minister for Health justify a situation in which the price of so basic a commodity as health care is twice as great for families on $2,000 a year as for families with incomes five times as large? Can he justify imposing upon families which narrowly miss out on free insurance the highest costs of all? Compare and contrast the bare faced and blatant unfairness of these arrangements with Labor's alternative programme. I now ask for leave to incorporate in Hansard a table showing the contributions which would be required under the alternative health insurance scheme. {: #subdebate-35-0-s1 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -Is leave granted? {: .speaker-KFH} ##### Dr Forbes: -- The Leader of the Opposition was good enough to show me this table earlier. We would be quite happy to grant this courtesy provided the honourable gentleman can demonstrate the relevance of the table to the Bill. Unless those conditions are fulfilled- {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr WHITLAM: -- I submit that if one is to debate this Bill one is entitled to give the basis of one's criticisms of it. if any. I am making criticisms of the Bill. Therefore ] believe that it will help not only members in the House but also persons outside if they have the full basis of my criticisms. If leave is not granted it will be a simple matter for one of my colleagues to read the table into the record later. I do not recollect when leave has been refused by our side in similar circumstances, nor do 1 remember when a Minister has refused leave in such a case as this. {: .speaker-KFH} ##### Dr Forbes: -- A lot of this has been going on lately and we have been very liberal in our approach. 1 cannot discern the relevance of this table to the Bill. I have told the honourable gentleman that if he can show how it is related to the Bill- {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Leave is not granted. {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr WHITLAM: -- Perhaps I can give these facts which appear from the table which the Minister is anxious to suppress. A family receiving $60 a week and at present paying $63.27 each year for health insurance would contribute under the alternative programme $26.70. A family receiving $80 a week and at present paying $56.58 a year would contribute under the alternative programme $38.40. A family receiving $100 a week and at present paying $51.44 a year would contribute $50. I believe that these illustrations will bear out the criticisms I make that the proposals in this Bill are inequitable. I have given three instances which I believe show the relevance of this table to the criticisms I am making of the proposals in the Bill. The lesson is obvious: The Minister is suppressing the very table which will show the fault of his scheme. The table will be available to the Press. I would expect that the Press will be interested to see of what the Minister is afraid. The table was prepared by Messrs Deeble and Scotton. In respect of those gentlemen, I quote the testimonial by the Senate Select Committee on Medical and Hospital Costs whose report was tabled today. The report states: >The most thoroughly prepared submissions in favour of a completely new scheme were made by Messrs R. B. Scotton and J. S. Deeble, postgraduate scholars in the Institute of Applied Economic Research, University of Melbourne, whose industry and motivation in health research impressed the Committee, and whose suggestions were made in the context of a tax-based scheme. This was a unanimous testimonial to those gentlemen by members of the Liberal Party, the Australian Country Party and the Labor Party and by the Leader of the Australia Party, **Senator Dr Turnbull.** As to the evidence of Messrs Deeble and Scotton before the Senate Select Committee, I would recall that the Director of the Research Section of the Minister's Department told the Committee also in sworn evidence, that as far as he had been able to check the financial estimates that had been submitted for a health scheme based on a surcharge on taxable income were soundly based and he thought they were based on solid assumptions. I will proceed with an analysis based on a table which is available to any member of the public but due to the Minister's ill grace will not appear in Hansard. Contributions under the alternative programme are the same irrespective of whether the family income is earned by one parent or by both. They exceed present contributions only in the case of families with 2 children and an income in excess of $103 a week or with 4 children and an income in excess of $120 a week - that is, for no more than 1 family in every 5. They require no family to pay more than $100. The Minister told my Deputy on 9th September that: >The main problem in providing a valuable and reasonable health system is not the means by which people pay their contribution. Let him tell that to the Australian people. Let him tell it in particular to our lower and middle income earners. The Bill offers no response whatsoever to the Nimmo Committee's assertion that the element of certainty as to the costs to be met by insurance (is) vital to any system of health insurance'. The Committee proposed in recommendation 13 that: 'As an initial step there be established what are in fact the most common fees currently being charged in each State for all the medical services aid procedures provided by medical practitioners'; in Recommendation IS that doctors should follow a practice of inform ing 'their insured patients at the time of a first consultation of the amount of their own fees for any further medical treatment recommended and the amount of the established common fees'; and in Recommendation 18 that: 'An arrangement be developed whereby the established common fees for medical services may be adjusted at appropriate times on the basis of the relevant economic factors'. The Minister takes every opportunity by his pathetic little Dorothy Dix questions to misrepresent and denigrate Labor's determination to uphold the essential approach of the Nimmo Committee. He told me on 12th August that: >It is the policy of the Australian Labor Party to impose a schedule of fees on the medical profession. The truth is that a Labor government will accept a common fee schedule as the basis for fee-for-service reimbursement ot doctors under the alternative health programme. It will encourage doctors to advise patients both of the common fee and ot their own fee at the outset of treatment. It will consult with the AMA which covers, 1 think, some 57% of practising doctors in Australia, on annual adjustment of the common fee schedule in accordance and with agreed economic indicators. A Labor government will not, however, make adherence to the common fee a condition of participation in the alternative programme. It will not penalise patients for the excessive enterprise of a minority of doctors by withholding benefits. Like the Nimmo Committee, Labor has noted 'For many years "fee schedules" have been provided by the medical profession in Canada and have been adhered to by almost all doctors in their charges to patients'. Like the Committee: 'We know of no valid reason why the medical profession here shoul'd refuse to follow the example of their opposite numbers in Canada, with the same beneficial results'. Moreover, we are encouraged by Canada's experience to believe that Australian doctors will readily accept the practice of rendering accounts directly to a health insurance commission, and accepting 85% of the common fee as settlement in full. Doctors in Canada operating under these arrangements now render fewer than 5% of their accounts directly to patients, thus minimising administrative expenses, eliminating bad debts and assuring themselves regular monthly incomes. Despite recent assertions of the Acting Secretary-General of the AMA, **Dr E.** S. Stuckey, Canadian doctors have not 'become to a large extent public servants', nor has there been any attempt to replace their fees with salaries. Here again honourable members will be interested to note the comments and the recommendation of the Senate Select Committee in its report which was tabled today. The Committee states: >Stability in a voluntary health insurance scheme, with a satisfactory percentage of cost return to contributors, can best be achieved if there is an inbuilt stability in medical charges. Governments, and health insurance organisations cannot be expected to continue a system which ties their separate, or combined payments to an uncertain and uncontrolled base unit in the scheme - medical charges. The establishment of most common fee tables of charges in relation to all types of medical service (both general practitioner and specialist services) is necessary. The combined percentage returns from the Commonwealth and the health insurance organisations could then be calculated at a stable and satisfactory percentage of those fees. This would largely overcome the present situation in which the percentage return is very often much too low. A 90% return on the most common fee rate would provide the majority of contributors with a reasonable return, whilst not preventing either the provision of service or the seeking of service at a higher fee than the basic common fee. The Committee recommended: >That urgent action should be taken to reach agreement, by those concerned, on the establishment of acceptable tables of most common fees for all types of medical service; that such tables should be reviewed periodically; and that any variations in the tables should be related to an index acceptable to the medical profession, the Commonwealth Government and the health insurance organisations. This was a unanimous recommendation by the Senate Committee. There were two doctors on the Committee - **Dr Turnbull,** the Leader of the Australia Party, and **Dr Dittmer** of the Australian Labor Party. When I speak of the attitudes of doctors to the proposals of the Nimmo Committee and of the Senate Select Committee, both of which the Labor Party supports, I am reinforced in my views by the fact that half a dozen members of the AMA are standing as Labor candidates at the House of Representatives election of 25th of next month. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -Order! I would remind the Leader of the Opposition that the Bill before the House is rather narrow in scope. It deals with hospital insurance benefits. It deals with two specific groups of people - those on low incomes and migrants for a limited period. I would ask the Leader of the Opposition to keep bis remarks to the Bill. {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr WHITLAM: -- The Bill does nothing to remedy a situation in which, as the Nimmo Committee has pointed out, There is a very substantial proportion of contributors who have not taken out effective coverage against the cost of hospital treatment', and in which at the end of 1967-68, 39.5% of the contributors in South Australia, the Minister's State, were insured for less than the cost of public ward treatment as were 38.4% in Victoria, 17.4% in New South Wales, 12.2% in Western Australia and 9.8% in Tasmania. It does nothing to remedy a situation in which contributors in New South Wales may recover only 55% of the cost of a surgery consultation, 43% of the cost of a home visit and 68% of the cost of a confinement. It does nothing to remedy a situation in which the Nimmo Committee was obliged to point out: The Committee was provided with many instances where contributors who were insured in the highest medical tables had received accounts for .medical services running into several hundreds of dollars and whose benefit entitlements were as low as 25% of the doctor's accounts. {: .speaker-KIW} ##### Dr Mackay: -- I raise a point of order. **Mr Deputy Speaker,** you have drawn attention to the confines of the Bill. I respectfully submit that it is necessary to stick to those confines. Certainly the Bill makes no provision for atomic energy. It is not proper for the honourable gentleman to get around your ruling simply by saying that the Bill does nothing about a thing and then proceeding to deal with that subject. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Order! There is no substance to the point of order. T ask the Leader of the Opposition to confine himself to the Bill. {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr WHITLAM: -- I shall proceed with the recommendations of the Nimmo Committee, on one of which this Bill is based: It was evident that serious financial hardship was involved in many of these cases. They reflected in an extreme way what is the fundamental deficiency in the medical benefits scheme, namely, the absence of a proper relationship between doctors' fees and medical benefits available. Having finished that quotation, **Mr Deputy Speaker,** I point out that these faults revealed by the Nimmo Committee still apply under this Bill. All that this Bill does is to give persons covered by it as much benefit as they can get from the existing funds. I am pointing out that these existing funds provide quite inadequate benefits, as the Nimmo Committee revealed. What I have quoted is completely relevant to what will be the situation after passage of this Bill. Let us compare and contrast the inadequacy of arrangements repeatedly described by the Minister for Health as the best national health scheme in the world with Labor's alternative national health programme. Under the alternative programme, patients will receive without charge those medical services for which their doctors send accounts to the insurance commission, or will recover 85% of charges they pay themselves. They will receive without charge and without means test standard hospital accommodation in single bed wards or multi-bed wards according to medical need and not financial capacity, or a pro-rata contribution towards the cost of preferred hospital accommodation. They will still be able, as at present, to claim taxation deductions for private hospital fees and any other health care costs not covered by benefits. Moreover, all benefits under Labor's scheme will be financed at no greater cost to the Commonwealth Budget than the present Liberal scheme and at a lower cost to 4 out of every 5 families. The disadvantages which doctors suffer under the present Liberal scheme were listed by the Nimmo Committee. Those disadvantages are particularly relevant to the disadvantages which still will be incurred by doctors who treat persons in reduced circumstances. The Nimmo Committee listed them as follows: {: type="i" start="i"} 0. Honorary services to insured patients in public wards - provided without charge; 1. honorary services to pensioners in public wards of public hospitals - provided without charge; 2. general practitioners' services to pensioners in patients' homes or doctors' surgeries - provided at concessional fees paid by the Commonwealth; 3. specialists' services to pensioners in patients' homes or doctors' surgeries - provided without charge or for fees (often concessional) met by pensioners themselves; 4. honorary specialists' services to pensioners at out-patients' departments of public hospitals - provided without charge. Labor agrees with the following extract from the Nimmo report: >The total volume of services provided without charge or at concessional rates is substantial and is one of the factors responsible for the continued wide gap between doctors' charges to insured patients and benefit entitlements. The medical profession is pursuing the Robin Hood principle which applied before governments became involved. Its application is much less justified now and we consider that future policy should be directed to its gradual elimination by the payment to the profession of fair and reasonable remuneration for these services. Under Labor's scheme, doctors will be freed from worry over the source of their fees, and can afford to treat patients according to their medical status rather than their financial status. They will continue to be paid on a fee for service basis and not as under the British national health scheme on a per capita list basis. They will retain the choice of rendering their accounts directly to patients or sending them instead to the health insurance commission, as they send them at present to government departments in the case of pensioner medical service and repatriation patients and to insurance companies in the case of workers' compensation and third party patients. The delicate personal relationships between doctors and patients will be preserved without interference. Indeed, they will be enhanced by the fact that the doctor may prescribe additional necessary tests and consultations without worry about the cost to the patient. Nor have doctors any good reason to fear that under Labor's scheme their services would be over-utilised. Americans who pay substantial fees for doctors' services and Britons who receive them free are alike heavy consumers of medical care. Swedes, who also receive services free, and Australians, who recoup a proportion of the fees through private insurance funds, are less heavy consumers. The view that point of service fees are a deterrent to over-utilisation of medical services is rejected even by the principal spokesman for the private health funds, **Mr R.** I. Turner. I turn now to the advantages to hospitals. Amounts written off by public hospitals as bad debts soared to $5,260,000 in 1965-66 and $6,430,000 in 1966-67. My colleagues in another place and I myself have been unable to secure later figures from the Minister. The Labor scheme will eliminate any delay in the payment of hospital fees. There has been specific reference to the position of Queensland hospitals and therefore I take the opportunity to reiterate the situation there. On Tuesday an attempt was made to create confusion about Labor's scheme and to obscure its undoubted attractions for patients and doctors by alleging that Labor's aim was to destroy the free hospital system in Queensland. This was a remarkable assertion from members of a Party - they were all Liberals who spoke - which destroyed free hospitalisation in New South Wales in January 1952, in Western Australia in May 1952, in Victoria in August 1952, in Tasmania in December 1952 and in South Australia in March 1956. I was unfair to my learned friend the honourable member for Moreton **(Mr Killen)** the other day in saying that in his 14 years in this Parliament he had never made a speech on health. I was incorrect. It is 1H years since he spoke on it. In his speech in 1958 on the National Health Bill he described the present health scheme as being the most magnificent in the world. As a result of that Bill the Commonwealth benefit for hospital beds was increased in all States apart from Queensland to $2 but was left in Queensland at 80c. He did speak once more - last Tuesday - and now proposes to follow me. Those two speeches will be his second and third speeches on health in 14 years representation. I was referring to the assertion of honourable members on the Government side that it was Labor's aim to destroy the hospital system in Queensland. This is a remarkable assertion from men who have never before referred to the fact that while the Commonwealth pays hospital benefits of $2 a day to most of the patients in five States it pays only 80c a day on behalf of patients in Queensland. These discriminatory arrangements have been in force now for 17 years. The accumulated loss to Queensland's taxpayers and Queensland's hospitals over that period is not less than $14m, and it is increasing each year by a further $2.2m. The Minister for Health made no reference in bis speech on Tuesday to the Nimmo Committee or to this recommendation: >The Queensland Government's policy gives full effect to the Commonwealth objective of affording the community adequate financial protection against the cost of hospital treatment. While the policy continues it is our view that the Commonwealth should pay its full benefit (at present $2 a day) to Queensland hospitals in respect of all public ward patients. It is also interesting to note that the amount which the Commonwealth pays by way of hospital benefits through hospital benefit funds has remained unchanged since 1958. The Minister could not have made any reference to the Nimmo recommendation on Queensland hospitals without exposing the falsities of his own case. He could not have done so without reminding honourable members that his 6 months of vacillation over the Nimmo report has cost Queenslanders $l.lm and that it is costing them more every day. Honourable members may ask themselves whether in this matter the Government is attempting to project upon the Labor Party its own intentions. When the Liberals came to power in Canberra in 1949 free hospitalisation was the rule in six States. Since 1952 it has been the rule in only one State. The Liberals put no proposal to abolish free hospitalisation during that 1949 election nor did they do so during the 1951 election. The Queensland Minister for Health, like the Federal Minister, is a layman. On 19th September he agreed that Queensland hospitals could absorb a further S32m a year, as suggested by **Dr Crawford,** a new Liberal MLA. The Queensland Minister agreed with **Dr Crawford** on this occasion for the first time. He agreed, he said, with relish, but he doubted whether his Federal colleagues would provide even the S2.2m envisaged by Nimmo. The fact is that Liberals constantly seek a pretext for doing away with Australia's last free hospital scheme. Labor's scheme will provide each year an additional $22m for Queensland's hospitals. This will mean not only free hospitals but better hospitals. At present Queenslanders who cannot afford to join the Liberal insurance scheme are obliged to apply to hospitals for treatment which would be better provided by doctors in their surgeries or at the patient's home, as happens in every other State. Labor's scheme will enable such persons to obtain treatment from the doctor of their choice, at the time of their choice and at the time of their greatest need. It will improve all Queensland's State services by reducing the disproportionate demands at present imposed upon the Budget by health and remove the excuse of the Queensland Government for its poor educational and other . State services. The Minister has referred to Canada, and so have other honourable members in questions which, without surprise, the Minister has received from them. The Minister for Defence **(Mr Fairhall)** told his Press conference on 19th August: 'Now and again you have to make a liar of yourself to save a situation'. The Minister for Health seems to have been following that maxim on 9th September when he told my Deputy, in reply to a question concerning hospital insurance in Canada: >The Canadian medicare scheme has only just been accepted by the last of the Provinces, yet costs are getting so much out of hand that the Federal Government of Canada has announced that it will be abandoning the scheme in 5 years time. Almost immediately after the introduction of the scheme the Federal Government proposes to hand responsibility back to the Provinces because it sees this as the only way of containing costs under this system. The Minister clearly hoped that honourable members would gather from his answer that the Canadian Government was abandoning its outstandingly successful system of universal hospital insurance. The Canadian Government is not doing so, nor has any responsible person ever suggested that it should do so. Indeed, the Minister will recall that my Deputy drew his attention to comments made in Melbourne by an outstanding Canadian authority on this very subject. Nor was the Minister correct in stating that the Canadian Government was preparing to abandon medicare because of rising costs or for any other reason. While the administration of medicare is to be turned over to the Provinces once the scheme has had a chance to find its feet, the Federal Government will continue its financial support with increases in grants to the Provinces equal to its share of their medicare bill. I cannot, within the terms of this Bill, speak on drugs - the overseas companies which are forcing up the price to Australian governments which pay 80% of the bills - or on dental care. T must conclude, however, by saying that this has been a century of massive medical achievement. Life expectancy has been increased from 51 to 68 years in the case of men and from 65 to 74 years in the case of women. Infant mortality has been reduced from 116.33 to 18.47 per thousand and the incidence of many killers has been eliminated. Without health, as Thomas Jefferson said, there is no happiness, and attention to health should take the place of every other object. I invite members of the medical profession and citizens in general to join me in bringing health that pre-eminence in our national affairs which Jefferson said it should enjoy. {: #subdebate-35-0-s2 .speaker-KGP} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon Sir William Haworth:
ISAACS, VICTORIA -- Order! The honourable member's time has expired. {: #subdebate-35-0-s3 .speaker-KAR} ##### Dr GIBBS:
Bowman -- There is an old saying: Figures do not lie but liars can figure. I just give that to the House for its consideration. I support this Government Bill wholeheartedly. As a matter of fact I must say that in giving evidence before the Nimmo Committee of Inquiry I myself recommended a similar approach to the problem of the low income group in the Australian community which is experiencing real difficulty in paying for its medical benefits insurance. The Bill does, in fact, give coverage to three groups of people who badly need it. Firstly, the migrants newly arriving in Australia, settling down in the country unaware of our customs and integrating themselves in the community, who might very well overlook health insurance until sickness strikes them and then they are sorely tried financially. The second group comprises the unemployed and people in receipt of sickness benefits. These people, too, will have the worry of their health insurance payments relieved. In fact, if they have not already insured, after 2 weeks they may do so, the cost being borne by the Government. The third group, of course, comprises people who are on a low income not exceeding $39 a week. There is no doubt that this group of people certainly heeds this assistance. The Bill, when it becomes law, will relieve a tremendous amount of hardship. However, I think that we would have listened in vain for these facts from the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr Whitlam). His** was a most extraordinary speech. {: .speaker-4U4} ##### Mr Killen: -- It was incredible. {: .speaker-KAR} ##### Dr GIBBS: -- Yes, it was incredible. After one extracts the usual personal arguments that he seems to specialise in, the invective, highly refined though it might be, and the general dissertation on Labor's health scheme, which is totally irrelevant to this Bill, one finds practically nothing. Tn fact, he has barely addressed himself to the Bill at all. It seems to be a habit of his. Whether he was unable to find any really deep criticism of the Bill, or what the reason was, I do not know, but I can safely state that this House, in listening to the Leader of the Opposition, would not know what the Bill was that we were discussing. Unfortunately, since the Leader of the Opposition has canvassed his own health scheme it is necessary that we should reply to some of his arguments. But before doing so I should say that this Bill is invaluable. It will bc a tremendous help to the people of Australia. It will not be of quite so much help to the people of Queensland because already they have a comprehensive free hospital scheme. Consequently the fear of sudden illness, the burden of illness and the burden of health insurance are not a problem in Queensland because a person in a low income group may receive comprehensive treatment at a Queensland hospital. The Leader of the Opposition, ably aided by other honourable members, has made totally misleading statements about Queensland's health scheme. The honourable member for Capricornia **(Dr Everingham),** for example, has said some totally untrue things about the attitudes of the Liberal Party in Queensland to this scheme. In fact, he even said that previous Liberal Ministers for Health have tried to put an end to Queensland's free hospital scheme. This is totally untrue. Before the present Minister for Health there was only one Liberal Minister for Health in Queensland, **Dr Winston** Noble, a fine man. I knew him personally very well indeed, and I knew a great deal of his attitudes. I have said this before, and I say it again, in an endeavour to improve the free hospital scheme, when he was in Opposition he offered his expert services to the then Labor government. This shows how much he was against the scheme - the fact that he was willing to co-operate and give of his expert knowledge, both political and medical, to further the operation of the free hospital scheme. Yet we have these honourable members opposite utterly misrepresenting the situation and endeavouring to convey the impression that the present Country Party-Liberal Party Government in Queensland is simply the reluctant inheritor of a scheme whereas, in fact, it embraced it enthusiastically and has gone on to improve it. If one thinks that Queensland's hospitals are not operating satisfactorily, I would like to call attention to a very recent report of a gentleman who travelled all the way from Perth to Brisbane for open heart surgery. The report said that this gentleman was looking healthy and fit in his motel room. This was after an extremely extensive open heart operation in which one valve of his heart was totally replaced by a graft, another was repaired and a third valve of a three-valve defect was able to operate satisfactorily once the other valves had been replaced or repaired. This gentleman, after receiving his treatment, was looking fit and well again. He said that he had come to Brisbane from Perth after hearing high praise for Chermside Hospital's open heart team. He said: Everything I heard was right. The treatment at Chermside is incredible.' This man is the father of four sons. He said he could see no reason why he could not go back to a fully active life controlling his Australiawide group of construction companies. This gives a pretty accurate idea of the standard of treatment under Queensland's free scheme. It speaks for itself. {: .speaker-JSU} ##### Mr Bryant: -- I thought the honourable member was against free hospitals. {: .speaker-KAR} ##### Dr GIBBS: -- I am not against free hospitals. Surely the honourable gentleman must be completely deaf if he makes an absurd statement like that. As I was saying, this Bill is not quite as important for Queensland as it is for the rest of Australia. The Leader of the Opposition canvassed his own health scheme. Naturally he gave us a very smooth and glittering representation of the 'wonderful scheme' he is purveying. He criticised the honourable member for Moreton **(Mr Killen)** for not speaking very often on health matters. But no-one could say that the Leader of the Opposition was a very frequent speaker on health matters either. However, he came along with a health scheme of his own contriving and he gave us his interpretation of the scheme. He mentioned a *H%* surcharge, but he did not state that there would be a compulsory charge on third party insurance for all people who own motor cars. {: .speaker-4U4} ##### Mr Killen: -- I did not know that. {: .speaker-KAR} ##### Dr GIBBS: -- That is right. Indeed, there is an additional surcharge. The *H%* is only the little tip of the iceberg. Owners of motor cars, who have to take out compulsory third party insurance, and also employers of labour will have to contribute an amount calculated to cover the cost of treatment of injuries received in car accidents and industrial accidents. I ask the House to ponder whether this means that some action is intended against the State Government Insurance Office in Queensland, and the system of workers' compensation there. It would seem to me that the present system of workers' compensation as well as the free hospital system in Queensland is under threat. The honourable gentleman has stated that this scheme of his can be financed from these moneys I mention, plus an equal contribution from Consolidated Revenue - another indirect contribution by the taxpayer. Yet it is utterly impossible that this should be so. The Leader of the Opposition read some testimonials about the originators of his scheme, Messrs Scotton and Deeble. Perhaps I will be permitted to read some not quite so glowing testimonials of the Scotton and Deeble plan. For example, a leading Sydney consulting actuary stated after studying this scheme: >The financing system proposed is open to great doubt. The authors do not give the basis of their calculation in any detail and it is very difficult to follow it. It would require a great deal more work than the authors have shown before it could be accepted. We doubt its validity Some very eminent Sydney management consultants said: >In general, it is our opinion that the authors have given too little consideration to the practical difficulties which arise when the requirements of individual hospitals, doctors and patients are considered. As a result, both the hospital and medical schemes have seriously impractical features when analysed in detail. They say not that they are possibly impractical features but that they are seriously impractical features. They also state: >Furthermore, the financial justification of the plan includes reductions in cost which cannot be regarded as realistic, while a major omission is the failure to consider the highly significant cost of establishing the proposed Commonwealth Health Insurance Commission. This is a very real cost. Let no-one be under any misapprehension. If the Whitlam scheme were ever introduced, all the health insurance funds would be swept away and in their place highly expensive government instrumentalities would have to be instituted. They would have to be housed in new buildings in each capital of the Commonwealth, in large provincial cities and in Canberra itself. It would be a highly expensive matter apart from the expenses and difficulties of instituting a Commonwealth commission to control the health scheme. Another important point is that the Leader of the Opposition has taken away certain essential props within the Scotton and Deeble plan. By doing this he has obviously increased the cost by at least 25% and, in my view, by about 50%. In other words, if this scheme were to operate it would not be possible to finance it by a simple li% surcharge on taxable income, which in itself represents an 8% increase in income tax. The honourable gentleman mentioned Canada as though it were some homogeneous country with some simple, well identifiable system operating within. Canada consists of a group of sovereign states just as Australia does, and each sovereign state has its own separate and distinct scheme. This so-called medicare that is talked about is simply a reimburse ment. A levy is contributed by the taxpayer to the Federal government and the Federal government reimburses the State governments. Manitoba recently implemented a government controlled scheme possibly like the one the honourable gentleman proposes. The taxpayers and the electors thought that it sounded a pretty good sort of scheme and so they voted the government to office, but immediately after the election income tax was lifted by 15% lo finance it. I am sure it will not finish there, because if we look at Britain's experience we sec that in that country the Government has increasing difficulty financing its inefficient scheme and is adopting all sorts of measures to effect economies. One of its more recent moves in doing this has been, firstly, to eliminate the health ministry so that health does not receive any priority. It is merged into a general social welfare ministry, and the health aspect of it is being increasingly starved of funds while the electorally more attractive items of social welfare and other legislation which might create more interest receive more funds. What is happening? Still the record of hospital construction is woeful. Health centres are being constructed - another attempt at economy. These health centres are marvellous perhaps from the point of view of the Government. Depending on its size, a town may have one, two or three health centres, and the patient is required to find his own way to these health centres no matter how many miles away from them he may be living. If the patient is taken seriously ill, does the doctor come to visit the patient in his own home under these Utopian circumstances? Of course not. The patient is bunged into an ambulance and taken to a health centre, irrespective of whether he has pneumonia or any other condition. This is what happens, and this will happen in any socialised health scheme because the pressures from other departments will increasingly starve the health ministry - the social welfare ministry, as it will be eventually because the health ministry will vanish - of funds. Moreover, once a doctor is enmeshed within this nationalised health scheme he cannot expect to operate within a schedule of fees indefinitely. More than likely, a capitation fee system will be introduced to the great detriment of the patient, the country and the doctor. What British doctors think of the national health scheme in Britain is quite obvious. They emigrate from Britain in tremendous droves. In fact, at one stage - I have not been able to check the figure recently, so the figure that I give may not be up to date - the emigration rate was 10% per annum. That is an extraordinary rate for the medical profession. The British hospital system is operating now only by virtue of postgraduate students from overseas who are entering Britain to improve their knowledge of actual hospital practice. The Leader of the Opposition also has made some play of the fact that this Government up to the present time has not implemented the recommendations of the Nimmo Committee on medical costs. Of course, this is typical of his unfair arguments. {: .speaker-4U4} ##### Mr Killen: -- Slick. Or GIBBS - Yes, it is a slick argument. Perhaps he would have leapt in with this statement as he leapt in with his own original health scheme which the Prime Minister **(Mr Gorton)** showed was poorly thought out and was full of faulty computations. No doubt this is what would happen. The point is that this is an extremely complex field. This Government is considering each step very carefully. The implementation of a schedule of benefits which would correspond with doctors fees is one of the outstanding problems. The problems that existed in relation to those in the low income group, the chronically ill and some of the other categories with respect to which the scheme did not operate satisfactorily have been progressively overcome. It is false to say they have not. The biggest problem now is in the discrepancy between the amount a patient pays a doctor in fees and the reimbursement that the patient receives from his medical fund. I know that the Government is actively working on this problem. Obviously the first thing to do is to obtain knowledge as to the frequency of various charges. It takes some very considerable time to obtain this information. In fact I know that this has now been done. It has been done by taking records of fees over several months, putting them into a computer and seeing where the most common levels of the fees exist. This work had to be done. It takes considerable time to do it. Yet the Leader of the Opposition says that the Government has done nothing. Obviously, all of these matters raised in the report of the Nimmo Committee are receiving active consideration all of the time. The Government is not bowing to the pressures of the election or any other influence. It will not implement a scheme based on that report just because it is expedient to do so. The Government is ensuring that what it implements is sound, workable and to the advantage of the people before it puts forward improvements to the existing scheme. The Leader of the Opposition made other references to the Canadian scheme, as he called it. I think that I have explained already that this is a misnomer and that there is no such thing as a Canadian scheme. Each State in Canada has its own system. The Leader of the Opposition spoke of what happened to Canadian doctors under the Canadian scheme. Well, each State, as I said before, has a completely different scheme. Some of them have schemes which are not dissimilar from the one actually operating today in Australia. The Leader of the Opposition spoke also of the cost to people on certain incomes of his scheme as compared with the existing scheme. As usual, he conveniently forgot some important factors. One of these factors is the tax rebate that a contributor receives. The Leader of the Opposition chose the case of a man earning $80 per week. Let me outline the real situation of a family in which only the husband works and which receives $80 per week. Let us suppose, for ease of computation, that the annual income of this family is $4,063. This is approximately $80 per week. The annual fund contribution for a family of this type would be $63. But a tax rebate is paid. The tax rebate to a family in this group is $22.85. Consequently, the cost to this family of its contribution to the fund is only $40.15 as compared with the contribution under the Whitlam scheme of $50.80 which is more than $10 a year more. That is the case if we assume that the figure is *M%* quoted by the Leader of the Opposition is correct. I have demonstrated that that is not the case. 1 refer now to a single person who earns $80 a week. Taking the tax rebate into consideration, and sparing the House too many statistics, I point out that a single person would contribute $20.30 net annually under the present system whereas his contribution under the Whitlam scheme would be $50.40. {: .speaker-KIW} ##### Dr Mackay: -- That much? {: .speaker-KAR} ##### Dr GIBBS: -- Yes. Following the present system, we see there is a saving of over $30 per annum for that single person. {: .speaker-KIW} ##### Dr Mackay: -- He pays more than 100% more under the Opposition's proposals? {: .speaker-KAR} ##### Dr GIBBS: -- That is correct, yes. In the case of a family in which both husband and wife are working, a similar situation applies. The saving under the present system is enormous. We can see that it is very difficult to get down to the truth of a matter when we hear the Leader of the Opposition presenting his case. Admittedly, difficulties have Arisen in the present scheme. But, of course, these are only growing pains. Our nation is evolving rapidly. It is becoming more prosperous. Doctors fees have changed. Hospital fees have varied. Operating costs have increased enormously. That is the main factor. At the same time, some State governments - do not forget that each State is still a sovereign State in this country - have chosen not to support the scheme as much as they might. These are the reasons for the problems which have cropped up in our hospital services. This Government is going ahead and is correcting these problems as fast as it can consistent with a workable and responsible scheme. Despite these problems, Queensland still has been able to provide a comprehensive free hospitalisation scheme. I must refer to this matter again because the Leader of the Opposition spoke about how this system is starved for funds. He would indicate that the Queensland hospital scheme is very badly off as compared with the schemes in other States. As I remarked recently, the remarkable fact of the matter is that Commonwealth contributors to the Queensland free hospital scheme per capita are the second highest in Australia. This is an undeniable fact. If honourable members opposite do not believe me, they may refer to a book on Australian hospitals which is a critical survey by Lawson. This book makes it quite clear that the funds received in Queensland from Federal sources are, per capita, the second highest in Australia. The Leader of the Opposition made the other statement - it sounded attractive; it sounded as if it might be true - that the free hospitalisation scheme is starving other areas of Government activity in Queensland of funds. Again, this is just not right. For the Queensland Government to maintain its comprehensive free hospital scheme, obviously it must make some additional contribution in this direction. Yet, because of its efficiency in administering this scheme, this contribution is only very marginal. It is a matter of being a contribution per capita of a few cents more than is the payment in any other State. These facts refute the argument put forward by the Leader of the Opposition. I think that I have refuted any imputation that the standard of hospitals in Queensland is not high by my quotation from a recent report of the case of the person who travelled from Perth to Brisbane to undergo some very complicated surgery. {: .speaker-KIW} ##### Dr Mackay: -- Queensland has some very good surgeons. {: .speaker-KAR} ##### Dr GIBBS: -- Yes, the State has some very good surgeons. It enjoys a very high standard. There is one last problem which I must point out. Reference was made to the remarks of the Queensland Minister for Health, **Mr Tooth,** who said that he could absorb more funds. It is puerile and infantile for the Opposition to try to make something out of that statement. Any Minister in charge of any department, if he were offered additional money, obviously would say: 'Yes, I will take k. I will use it.' This is obviously so because the efficiency or otherwise of administration by a government depends very largely on the skill with which the limited amounts of moneys available are disbursed to different portfolios or different ministries so that the most efficient use can be made of that money. So, of course that remark of the Leader of the Opposition was meaningless. He went on to say that if the Opposition's scheme were introduced the people of Queensland would not have to go to hospital, that they could go to a private medical practitioner to receive treatment. He omitted to mention that if they went to a private medical practitioner they would have to pay 15% of the doctor's fees, and certain operations and the more expensive consultations would cost the patient much more than they would under the existing scheme, and infinitely more than under the Queensland scheme because a patient in that State does not pay anything if he goes to a hospital, whether for a consultation with a specialist or to have an open heart operation. In conclusion I congratulate the Government on taking another step towards eliminating an area of real need in our community. No doubt when the Government has carefully examined other areas of real need it will introduce other progressive measures. I trust that the people of Queensland will not overlook the fact that if the Government scheme is not allowed to evolve then their free hospital scheme will be lost to them. Debate (on motion by **Mr Stewart)** adjourned. {: .page-start } page 1997 {:#debate-36} ### PERSONAL EXPLANATION {: #debate-36-s0 .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr WHITLAM:
Leader of the Opposition · Werriwa -- **Mr Deputy Speaker,** I claim to have been misrepresented. {: #debate-36-s1 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -Does the Leader of the Opposition wish to make a personal explanation? {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr WHITLAM: -- Yes. The honourable member for Bowman **(Dr Gibbs)** said that when I was giving the present net costs under the present health scheme I had not allowed for tax concessions. In fact, as he could have seen from the table which I vainly sought leave to have incorporated in Hansard, the tax concessions are expressly listed as being allowed in the calculations of present net costs. {: .page-start } page 1997 {:#debate-37} ### PRESERVATION OF SUPERANNUATION RIGHTS {:#subdebate-37-0} #### Ministerial Statement {: #subdebate-37-0-s0 .speaker-KH5} ##### Mr GORTON:
Prime Minister · Higgins · LP -- by leave - The benefits provided by most superannuation schemes in Australia are payable on the employee's retirement, for example at age 60 or 65, or prior to retirement, only in the event of his invalidity or death. Employees leaving in any other circumstances, for example to take up employment elsewhere, usually receive only a refund of their own contributions, often without interest, that is, they do not receive any benefits from their employer for the years they have spent in his service. The prospective value of an employee's interest in a superannuation scheme increases with his length of service; the longer he serves his employer the more valuable his benefits will become. Thus, a superannuation scheme can operate as a very real barrier to the willingness of employees to move from one employer to another. The Government has been increasingly concerned with this obvious deterrent which superannuation arrangements can provide to changes in employment, and in 1967 we asked **Sir Leslie** Melville to investigate ways of making superannuation schemes continuous so that scientists, in particular, could benefit from the added experience that accrues from greater flexibility of employment. The Government's objective was to seek means of preserving the accumulated superannuation rights of employees moving from a position with one employer to a position with another employer; that is to say, to preserve for them the total interest or stake which they had built up in the superannuation scheme of the employer they were leaving including, of course, the interest or stake in the contributions which their employer had made, or undertaken to make, to their ultimate superannuation pension. The Government has now decided upon certain changes in the superannuation arrangements relating to its own employees, and those of Commonwealth instrumentalities, and to remove for those employees the existing barriers to mobility which are created by the loss of superannuation entitlements. What we propose to do is to ensure complete interchangeability between the different spheres of Commonwealth employment at any stage of an employee's service without loss of his accrued superannuation rights. His service, if it is continuous, will be regarded as continuous for superannuation purposes and he will suffer no loss of these rights as a result of moving from one form of Commonwealth employment to another. Where provision does not already exist, we shall offer similar arrangements for those employed by the Commonwealth who choose to move to public employment with the States, including a State university. But beyond the field of public employment we also intend to reduce the restrictions on other movements from Commonwealth employment, be it to private industry or even to self-employment. We intend to provide that employees who leave after completing 20 years service with the Commonwealth will retain their accumulated interest or stake in our superannuation schemes including the commitment towards their retirement benefit which the Commonwealth has incurred in respect of their service up to that date. Normally the benefit will be payable to them at the retirement age they have selected, which can range, for example, between 60 and 65, or in the event of their death or invalidity occurring prior to that age. The benefit will be calculated actuarially and will be notified to the employee as soon as possible after his decision to leave Commonwealth employment. However, employees will still be able lo choose to receive a refund of their own contributions if they wish to receive an immediate lump sum but in this event there will be no supplement for the Commonwealth's accrued share of the ultimate benefit that would have been payable. In the reciprocal circumstances of persons entering Commonwealth employment, we shall place no barriers in the way of preservation for people with preserved superannuation rights of one kind or another in respect of their previous employment, including private employment. The Commonwealth hopes that other employers will follow its lead and allow their employees to retain their accumulated interest or stake in their superannuation schemes, lt will be necessary to ensure, however, that when superannuation benefits are not calculated according to length of service there is no duplication of benefits. In other words, whilst in the circumstances I have outlined we will provide our share of the benefit in respect of years of service with the Commonwealth, we would wish to guard against a doubling-up of benefit from another employer in respect of the same years of service. The Commonwealth's superannuation legislation will require amendment to implement these decisions and we intend to seek legislative authority to give them effect at the earliest practicable date. The Govern ment believes that these arrangements mark an important step forward in the development of Australia. We believe that there are great advantages for our community from an interchange of employees between the Commonwealth, the States, the universities, and industry, and we have now acted to ensure that the Commonwealth's superannuation arrangements will not impede them, ft is a step which the Government very much hopes that other employers will emulate, and that they, too, will accept a share of the final retirement benefit payable to an employee according to the length of service he has given to each of them. We do not believe that those employees who have spent a considerable part of their working life in one field of endeavour and who could contribute much more to the community and to their own lives in other forms of employment should be compelled, by the fear of the loss of their accumulated superannuation rights, to remain in their employment waiting only for the effluxion of time and the arrival of their dale of retirement. I present the following paper: >Preservation of Superannuation Rights - Ministerial Statement, 25 September 1969. Motion (by **Mr Erwin)** proposed: >That the House take note of the paper {: #subdebate-37-0-s1 .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr WHITLAM:
Leader of the Opposition · Werriwa -- The Prime Minister **(Mr Gorton)** has announced a very limited proposal conferring a limited benefit on a limited number in a limited section of the Australian work force. This is scarcely the proposal which we have been led to expect. It is not portability or transferability that has been granted. Honourable gentlemen opposite seem to forget what the genesis of this proposal was. When, on 12th March of last year, the GovernorGeneral gave the Gorton Government's programme he said: >Last year my Government decided to have the question of transferability of superannuation benefits within the public sector investigated. The services of **Sir Leslie** Melville, KBE, were retained for this purpose. > >His report has been received and is being examined by my advisers, so that decisions as to the course to be followed may be quickly made and published. lt is true that there is no express undertaking to publish **Sir Leslie** Melville's report. One would have thought that it should be published. It is scarcely a secret document. It was announced long before this that he had been appointed and then in the Governor-General's Speech the fact that he was asked to make a report was reiterated. Where is the report? Even if honourable gentlemen opposite are still happy to have these reports, upon which legislation is proposed, suppressed or withheld, let me ask them: Are they satisfied with the time that it has taken to get this proposal before us? There have been constant suggestions that we would have these proposals put before Us in this sessional period. They are coming in on the last day of the sessional period. The Prime Minister **(Mr Gorton)** has waited for more than 19 months to produce these proposals. He has had the report of **Sir Lesl'ie** Melville since 14th February last year. He had had it for 4 weeks before the Governor-General gave his Government's legislative programme. **Sir Leslie** was asked to report on pension portability by **Mr Holt** in October 1967. It took **Sir Leslie** 4 months to produce his report - that is, if we assume that he was working over Christmas 1967 and New Year 1968 when members of the Liberal Party were rather distracted by other business. The right honourable gentleman not only has had the report all this time, but he has also suppressed it, and does so even now. The principal reason why 1 rose was to take the opportunity to advocate that Australia at last should not only have superannuation for the limited number of people who are in public employment in universities or in the Public Service or career employees with certain large companies or employees in certain specialist occupations. Superannuation should be available for employees, often quite skilled ones, who naturally have to go from one job to another during their working life and for people who are self employed. I. am disposed to put this proposition to the vote by an amendment which I shall move. The Prime Minister, in speaking on the Budget after I had spoken on it, took me very much to task for having suggested that there should be the same sort of inquiry into national superannuation overall as had been undertaken into superannuation in the very restricted field that he has now announced. We support the proposal that has been announced. 1 endorse the undertaking to amend the Superannuation Act on the lines now suggested. Under Labor there will be much better proposals coming forward and the time to prepare for them is now. Accordingly I move: The Prime Minister, in speaking on the Budget, took me to task for my Party's proposal that at last in Australia we should have national superannuation as every comparable country on each side of the North Atlantic has long had and as so many distinguished Australians have suggested. He was followed by the Treasurer **(Mr Mc Mahon),** who in this instance seemed to be of one mind with the Prime Minister. My proposal for an inquiry into national superannuation, similar to the inquiry into public superannuation, was said to be nebulous and improper. Where is the right honourable gentleman's own dedication to that new and extraordinary principle he enunciated in his Budget speech, the impropriety of governments seeking or acting upon the advice of experts? Where was his dedication to it in 1967, when **Sir Leslie** Melville was appointed? If we believe the right honourable gentleman, his present and past improprieties are equally great, for his recollection is that he instigated this outside inquiry by **Sir Leslie** Melville. Honourable members will recall that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition **(Mr Barnard)** asked him on 11th September of last year - that is, 7 months after the right honourable gentleman received **Sir Leslie's** report- {: .speaker-KH5} ##### Mr Gorton: -- Asked whom? {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr WHITLAM: -- Asked you. {: .speaker-KH5} ##### Mr Gorton: -- You were talking about the Treasurer a moment ago. {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr WHITLAM: -- I am coming to the Treasurer. {: .speaker-KH5} ##### Mr Gorton: -- You have passed him. {: .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr WHITLAM: -- No, I am coming to him. He interjected on you as you are now interjecting on me. In September of last year my Deputy asked the Prime Minister when this report would be tabled. The Prime Minister replied: >I believe it was the late Prime Minister, **Mr Holt,** who asked **Sir Leslie** Melville to embark on this course of study. The Treasurer interjected: >It was the Prime Minister and I who asked him. The Prime Minister then said: >I thought it originated with myself. But it was the late Prime Minister who conveyed the request to **Sir Leslie** Melville. Possibly it was the Treasurer and myself, when I was the Minister for Education and Science, who instigated the matter, but it does not matter who did. The fact is that it was perfectly proper and prudent for the Prime Minister, whether as Minister for Education and Science or later as Prime Minister, to be party to having an outside expert look into superannuation within the Public Service and the universities. When my Party proposes a wider inquiry, it is nebulous and improper. The honourable member for Hughes **(Mr Dobie),** who is seeking to interject, might as well enjoy himself for the last occasion. I am in a very benign mood today and I do not want to tear strips off departing members on their last sad appearance. National superannuation would revolutionise our whole approach to social welfare. It would benefit every employee and every self employed person. It would not just be a limited matter of administrative arrangements involving only employees for whom the Commonwealth is wholly or partly responsible. In his speech on the Budget, the Prime Minister joined my Party's proposal for national superannuation and its proposal on health under the general anathema of outside inquiries. His own announcement this afternoon is merely an implementation of one aspect of one such inquiry. On health he himself will go into the campaign with some vague promise to implement aspects of another such outside inquiry, that of the Nimmo Committee. He dare not do otherwise. He would not dare to go to the electors on the basis of the existing wasteful and inadequate health scheme. The substance of the Nimmo report has gone down the drain, as far as the Liberals are concerned, but the Prime Minister and the Minister for Health **(Dr Forbes)** will talk generalities under the Nimmo label for the duration of the cam paign. Nimmo made recommendations not just for people in the universities or the Public Service. This is not described as a nebulous and improper inquiry. It will be constantly on the lips of the Prime Minister, the Treasurer and the lesser fry. Why are they so much against a similar inquiry into superannuation in general - not just for the universities or the Public Service but for employees and self employed persons as well? The right honourable gentleman's own rise in public life was due largely to an outside inquiry - the Martin Committee which inquired into tertiary education. How can he disparage outside inquiries by experts? The fact is that this Government or any Australian government has two and only two sources of expert advice available to it - advice from outside experts and advice from its own experts in the Commonwealth Service. The Government selects and appoints outside experts and employs its own. The Opposition is in substantially the same position, except that it has no powers to command or to pay. It can only request. My Party has been singularly fortunate in the amount of expert advice which it has been able to secure on such matters as health. The other source of expert advice available to a government is the Public Service. An opposition cannot get advice from that source but we can seek it by way of questions on the notice paper. Yet what happens under this Government - the Gorton Government - when information is sought in this way to provide the basis for framing and costing policies? Let me quote some of the answers which have been given to questions asked by members of the Opposition. On 15th April this year the Deputy Leader of the Opposition **(Mr Barnard)** received from the Minister for Social Services **(Mr Wentworth)** an answer to a question which he had placed on the notice paper on 20th March. The Deputy Leader asked: >In each of the past 10 years how many applicants for an age pension have been rejected because they receive a superannuation payment? The Minister replied: >The information requested cannot be obtained from records now available in my Department. On 22nd May this year the right honourable member for Melbourne **(Mr Calwell)** received from the Minister for Social Services an answer to a question which he had placed on the notice paper on 30th April. The right honourable member asked: >How many pensioners who are receiving the whole or a portion of the age pension also receive income from superannuation, rent, interest or dividends? The Minister replied: >The number of age pensioners in Australia who are in receipt of *a* superannuation pension is not currently available. On 27th August 1 placed on the notice paper the following question directed to the Treasurer **(Mr McMahon):** >To what extent and in what respects does the Statistician or the Treasury have figures on the number and coverage of superannuation funds and the number and occupation of contributors to them? I have not yet received an answer. But on 19th September the honourable member for Sturt **(Mr Wilson),** having presumably read my question on the notice paper, asked the Treasurer: >Will the Treasurer ask the Commonwealth Statistician to seek and publish comprehensive statistical information concerning these schemes? He was referring to national superannuation and retirement benefits schemes. The question continued: >Will he ask the Commissioner of Taxation to gather and publish statistics of those claiming total and partial exemption from tax at the normal rates under the age tax allowance? The Treasurer replied: >I shall draw the attention of the Insurance Commissioner, the Commissioner of Taxation and the Secretary to the Treasury to the content of the question asked by the honourable member. As soon as 1 can find out from them whether it is practicable or wise to produce the information requested or part of it, I shall inform the honourable member. So on the whole basic question of superannuation how are members of the Parliament to get information when the Treasurer has not got it and doubts whether it is wise to get it and when the Minister for Social Services has not got it either? lt constantly staggers me why it should take 3 or 5 weeks for a Minister to give a prepared reply that information is either confidential or not available. If it is not available one would think that it would take no more than one week to give that answer. I have given chapter and verse on this subject. On a whole range of matters crucial to responsible costing, Ministers cannot themselves obtain or refuse to obtain adequate answers, yet outside the Parliament where they do not have to go on authoritative record Ministers are very free with estimates of the cost of any new proposal. During the winter recess the Prime Minister plucked out of the air the figure of $450m as the cost of abolition of the means test. When honourable members have asked what it would cost to abolish the means test they have been told again and again by the Minister for Social Services that it is impossible to say what it would cost to abolish the means test for civilian widows or invalid pensioners. I repeat that out of the air the Prime Minister said that abolition of the means test would cost $450m. Two days ago in a prepared reply to a question which I placed on the notice paper the Minister for Social Services said that the cost of abolishing the means test for age pensioners would be $28 1 m. This is irrespective of savings flowing from the tapered means test or other offsets. Irrespective of offsets and irrespective of the people who would get some benefit from the tapered means test, abolition of the means test would, according to the Minister for Social Services, cost $28 1m, not $450m as the Prime Minister so glibly plucked out of the air last July or August. The effect of the offsets and of the tapered means test may be ascertained from an answer which the Minister for Social Services has been invited to give publicly to a question which I have placed on the notice paper. National superannuation is such a complex matter that there should be an inquiry into it. The important thing is that there should be a firm and fixed commitment to the principle and to its implementation. In his speech on the Budget the Prime Minister denounced the principle. He did not just denounce me for the method by which I proposed to implement the principle. He denounced the principle of national superannuation itself. No Party - not the Labor Party - is committed to the proposal of Professor Downing or anybody else, but I do endorse the basic objectives of national superannuation. A Labor government will want to know not only the cost of various proposals put forward in Australia by Professor Gates, Professor Downing and others but also the relevance of other schemes abroad. In particular we will want to know, and the Australian public should want to know, as presumably the honourable member for Sturt, who is seeking to interject, wanted to know when he asked his question of the Treasurer a week ago, why nearly every comparable modern country has a national superannuation scheme and why very few comparable countries retain the means test while this country - an undoubtedly prosperous one and a supposedly advanced one - lacks superannuation and retains the means test. As I have said, the proposal announced by the Prime Minister is extremely limited. It removes an anomaly in existing superannuation schemes for persons employed by the Commonwealth and in universities, which increasingly depend on the Commonwealth for their income. It has been needlessly delayed for well over a year. In the meantime persons have been needlessly penalised or prejudiced. However, existing superannuation schemes in an area of Commonwealth responsibility are to be improved, and properly so, by this proposal. This is the real significance of the proposal. It points a way ahead although the retiring Prime Minister is personally determined to block any such way. Every improvement to existing schemes highlights the unfairness to those who cannot belong to any scheme. Equally, every improvement in benefits under existing schemes highlights the unfairness of the means test to those who are in those schemes, most of whom are obliged to be in them in order to pursue the career of their choice. Under existing arrangements there is certainly compulsion but it is compulsory denial of opportunity. Three-quarters of employees are compelled to do without superannuation benefits by the circumstances of their employment. The other quarter are compelled to be in such schemes by the circumstances of their employment and they are compelled to be penalised by the means test. The Prime Minister speaks a great deal about compulsion. He is against compulsion. He is like Calvin Coolidge; he is against sin. What irks Commonwealth or State public servants and teachers who all are compelled to join and pay into superannuation schemes is not that form of compulsion but their compulsory loss through operation of the means test. The majority who cannot get superannuation do not revel in their freedom; they resent their lack of opportunity. It is a matter of providing opportunity, not limiting freedom. Only the Commonwealth Government can provide the opportunity for the overwhelming majority of Australians. Whether he realises it or not, every argument which the Prime Minister used against superannuation in his speech on the Budget was used in 1903 against age pensions, even down to the argument that it was Socialism to have age pensions. Proud as I am to be a Socialist, I find myself slightly embarrassed to be in the company of such celebrated Socialists as Joseph Aloysius Lyons, Robert Gordon Menzies, Harold Holt and even the raging red radical William Charles Wentworth IV, who had all advocated national superannuation. {: #subdebate-37-0-s2 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Order! The honourable member's time has expired. {: #subdebate-37-0-s3 .speaker-KH5} ##### Mr GORTON:
Prime Minister · Higgins · LP -- In reply to the tirade we have just listened to from the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr Whitlam)** I just wish to make some points. He quoted - and I think quoted in a way which was misleading - what I said about his proposals regarding the means test in the Budget Speech. I would like to repeat what in fact was said by me as Prime Minister regarding these proposals, if one can call them proposals. The House will remember that with great fanfare it was announced that it was to be a part of Labor policy to abolish the means test and to inquire about superannuation in all fields. But the thing that was significant was that it was announced as part of Labor's policy to abolish the means test, as it was announced as part of its policy to do all kinds of things in the health field which it has now said is not really its policy but merely a long range objective. What I had to say in regard to that matter I think is apposite. I said: >All he has told us- And I am speaking about his alleged plan for abolishing the means test - is that if his Party is elected it will then appoint a committee to tell them what they ought to do, because apparently they do not themselves yet know what to do or have not yet worked out a scheme which they could put before this Parliament. Yet, I interpolate, Labor has announced a policy of doing something and does not know how to do it. I went on to say: >This is a completely nebulous approach, and it is also an improper approach, because it means that the Opposition is either afraid or unable to make firm proposals as to how they would carry out whatever proposals are - afraid or unable to present these before the people so that the proposals and the cost of those proposals may be judged by the people themselves. 1 believe, **Sir, that** those words remain true now as they were true then, lt is not at all to the point to say that committees are appointed or people are appointed to make reports to a government and the government having received them then acts upon them, then has a policy as a result of them and presents that policy to the Parliament and to the people. That is quite a different proposition from pretending to present a policy before he knows anything at all about how he is going to implement it. because he does not know what it is. 1 think it is merely necessary to state those facts and to reiterate because 1 believe that this is significant, that yes, this Government is opposed to the abolition throughout Australia of the means test. We do not believe, even if we take the figure quoted by the Leader of the Opposition as an accurate one, that $28 lm a year for the purpose of paying pensions to people in high income brackets, for the purpose of paying pensions at full rate to individuals or families earning $100, $200 or $300 a week is a proper use of the community's resources unless and until the people in real need are first taken care of with such resources as are available. lt is necessary for the House to know that this proposition - if it is one, because we still do not know and he does not know what it is - but if it is one and if it takes $281m a year, will take that amount of money without adding one single cent to the income of those in need or those living simply on a pension. For our part we do look as a first priority to the alleviation of that section of the community, as the unprecedented actions taken in the last year have shown, and if it is in fact the view of the Leader of the Opposition, as it appears to be, that resources should be diverted away from those in need to people with high incomes, to graziers, to parliamentarians who have retired, or to whoever it may be, then that is not our order of. priorities and that is something on which the Australian people will be able to form a judgment. Question put: >That the amendment **(Mr Whitlam**)** be agreed to. The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker - Hon. Sir William Haworth) AYES: 27 NOES: 62 Majority 35 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the negative. Original question resolved in the affirmative. {: .page-start } page 2004 {:#debate-38} ### COMMONWEALTH AND QUEENSLAND SUGAR AGREEMENT {:#subdebate-38-0} #### Ministerial Statement {: #subdebate-38-0-s0 .speaker-KH5} ##### Mr GORTON:
Prime Minister · Higgins · LP -- by leave - The negotiations between the Commonwealth and Queensland governments for a new sugar agreement have been satisfactorily concluded and the basis on which that formal agreement can now be drafted has been arranged. The agreement between the two governments will be the most recent in a very long line of agreements which go back to the 1920s. They assumed their present form in 1934. The basic objectives which the sugar agreements were designed to serve had been endorsed by every Commonwealth government, and no less by the present Government. These were to regulate the marketing of sugar in the interests of both sugar producers and consumers. The agreement which has now been negotiated will be substantially the same as the one it replaces, lt will run for 5 years, during which the Commonwealth has agreed that it will continue the present embargo on the import of sugar and sugar products, and the Queensland Government will control raw sugar production and meet Australian needs for refined sugar and sugar products at agreed maximum prices as a first priority. The assurance of supplies for relatively long periods at fixed prices for a stable commodity is of inestimable benefit to both sugar producers and domestic consumers. Australian domestic prices have remained constant from 1960 to 1967 despite very wide fluctuations in world prices The domestic sugar rebate scheme, which has been a feature of sugar agreements for a very long period, will be continued in the new agreement but the rate of rebate will be increased from $10 to $15 per ton from 1st July 1969 to bring it back towards the position it held before the 1967 sugar price increase of $25 per ton. This will be the only change of any substance in the new agreement. To finance the increased rate it has been agreed that the funds made available by the State, on behalf of the raw sugar industry, to pay the domestic rebate will be increased to $924,000 a year. Although on the face of things it might appear that this imposes an additional burden on the raw sugar industry, this is far from the case. The sugar industry's interests are best served when consumption in the domestic market - its best market - is maximised. The increase in the domestic rebate is designed to serve the interests of both the fruit processing industry and the raw sugar industry. In the case of the former industry, this assistance takes the form of the provision of an additional incentive to processors to purchase fruit for processing at reasonable prices. In the case of the sugar industry, the advantage of maximising domestic consumption is patently clear when it is realised that the alternative to domestic usage is exports at the vagaries of the world market price. The maximum wholesale domestic prices for sugar and sugar products, which are prescribed in the existing agreement, will remain unaltered in the new agreement. The export sugar rebate arrangements, which had also been a conspicuous feature of past agreements, will continue to apply. This rebate ensures that exporters of products in which sugar has been used will obtain their requirements at prices related broadly to the Australian import parity price or, in other words, what they would have paid had there been no embargo on the importation of sugar. This will continue to ensure that the unique position granted to the local sugar industry did not react to the detriment of exporters and is in keeping with the Government's policy to do everything possible to encourage the maximum exports of both the products using sugar and, as a consequence, the sugar contained in those exports. Since the export of sugar in manufactured products is not a charge against Australia's quota under the International Sugar Agreement, the maximum utilisation of sugar in exported manufactured products is of vital interest and great benefit to sugar producers. Experience in operating the provisions of the existing agreement, since the last major review in 1962, has indicated that some changes can make it more effective in its operation and clearer in its expression. During the drafting of the new agreement the opportunity will be taken to effect these adjustments, which are largely of a technical or drafting nature and will have no bearing on the principles on which the agreement is based. This, as previously indicated, will follow the traditional lines of previous agreements. Action is in hand to prepare a formal new agreement and the two governments have agreed to extend the operation of the present agreement to give time for this work to be completed. They have also agreed that the new agreement will have retrospective effect from 1st July 1969. Since it is not possible to bring the new sugar agreement before the Parliament in its present session, and since it was agreed by both the Commonwealth and the State of Queensland that it is in the interests of both producers and consumers that it should be brought into operation as soon as possible, it has been agreed that it will come into full force and effect upon its signing in order that the benefits could commence to flow without delay. The new agreement would need to be brought before the new Parliament early in its life. I am confident that Australian sugar producers and domestic consumers will find the terms of the new agreement acceptable and in their long term interests. In the case of sugar producers, it gives them the assurance of sole access, at remunerative prices, to their largest single market for a reasonable period. Domestic consumers are assured of constant supplies at stable prices. In conclusion, it has been agreed between the parties that, since Commonwealth parliamentary debate on this agreement is not possible this session, printed copies of the formal agreement, when signed, would be prepared by the Commonwealth for distribution to interested parties. {: #subdebate-38-0-s1 .speaker-KXV} ##### Dr PATTERSON:
Dawson -- by leaveThe Opposition supports the principles of this new agreement that has been negotiated between the Commonwealth Government and the Queensland Government. It is pleasing that the Commonwealth has finally come around to making the new agreement. The old agreement expired in 1967, so it has taken 2 years to negotiate a new agreement. There may be some valid explanation for this time factor, because during that period there has been a marked fluctuation in the prices of export sugar. However, now that we have achieved the successful signing of the International Sugar Agreement it can be argued that this is perhaps the most opportune time for a new 5-year domestic agreement. The important deficiency, as the Opposition sees it, in the new agreement emerges from the statement of the Prime Minister **(Mr Gorton)** that, in accordance with other sugar agreements, there will be a constant sugar price for the next 5 years. But, of course, it will not be a constant price for 5 years; it will be for 7 years. There will have been a constant sugar price since 1967. The Prime Minister said that having a constant price would be of benefit, but does he believe that costs are going to remain constant over the next 5 years? Has this constant sugar price been framed for the 7-year period? From the best available evidence it can be expected that costs will rise by about 14% in the next 5 to 7 years if past trends are any indication. Because of the embargo on the importation of sugar or sugar products this agreement will naturally be of great benefit to the industry, but is it fair to fix an agreement which, in effect, for 7 years will not allow the price of sugar on the domestic market to increase without a renegotiation of the agreement? This is the principal question that I asked the Prime Minister. Although other agreements have been negotiated on a constant price, the structure of the sugar industry now is different. Before the expansion of the industry about 20% of the total production was exported on the free market, but today 50% of total production is so exported. In fact, the entire structure of the sugar industry has changed. Whereas previously the export markets, in relation to the domestic market, were reasonably good there is now a major question mark, even though there is the International Sugar Agreement, because in the last 8 weeks we witnessed a significant drop on the export market. Certainly the situation has improved again, but the structure of the sugar industry has changed. In the event of a Labor government coming into office there will be negotiations with the Queensland Government to give the sugar industry the same benefit as the Commonwealth Government gives to the wheat industry - that is, if the sugar industry wants it. I stress that point, because there are inherent dangers in having too high a domestic price. Cyclamatic acids - substitutes for sugar - have made a remarkable gain in Australia and there is an objection to having a high price for domestic sugar when there are these substitutes. On the other hand, I believe that the agreement should not be rigid, but should be sufficiently flexible so that if there are serious inflationary pressures or some event on the overseas market that results in a decline in prices, which, in turn, causes a decline in the overall income of the sugar producer, there may be some escape clause in the domestic agreement to allow the producer to get higher prices, if they are warranted. What is the propriety of fixing, for 7 years, a price for a commodity and not fixing the costs involved in producing that commodity? This is a basic point. If it is good enough for the wheat industry and other industries, it is good enough for the sugar industry to have some escape clause. I do not want that to be interpreted as meaning that I am arguing for a higher price for sugar if costs go up because, as I have said here and outside, there are inherent dangers in having too high a price for sugar because we have to maximise consumption or maximise total returns to the domestic industry. The domestic market is our most important single market. That it is a big market can be realised when one multiplies approximately 600.000 tons of sugar by the fixed wholesale price. I pay a compliment - and it is not often that I compliment a member of the Country Party - to **Mr Row,** the Queensland Minister who, with the Minister for Primary Industry **(Mr Anthony),** has had much to do with these negotiations. I know that **Mr Row** has the sugar industry at heart and that he is keeping a very close watch on events, such as those that I have mentioned today with respect to rising costs. The legal position of the new agreement is interesting. In effect, what the Prime Minister has said is that time does not permit legislation to be introduced into this Parliament but legislation will be introduced into the new Parliament, and the agreement will be retrospective to 1st July 1969. What this agreement will do is allow the Queensland Government to regulate production and also to supply other States with sugar at wholesale prices determined by the Commonwealth and Queensland governments. In effect, the Commonwealth and Queensland together will fix the price of sugar in Western Australia and South Australia. This raises an interesting legal problem. I have not had time to prepare for this debate, but I did raise some time ago with the Attorney-General **(Mr Bowen)** the legalities of the position. I have no reason or wish to rock the boat on this matter, but it is interesting. We are not able to consider the legislation now. In theory the Parliament could reject it. I am wondering whether, in practice, such rejection would make any difference to the agreement entered into by the Commonwealth government of the day and the Queensland government of the day. I know that there is considerable indecision among legal experts on this point. However, it is not really of relevance and I am not going to make any particular point of it. My main argument is that there should be an escape clause in the domestic agreement to allow for inflationary pressures, increasing costs or an overall reduction in the income of the sugar producer. Naturally, if the industry did not want an escape clause one would not be implemented. My other point is that in these days of sugar substitutes it is dangerous to have too high a domestic price for sugar. {: #subdebate-38-0-s2 .speaker-BU4} ##### Mr ANTHONY:
Minister for Primary Industry · Richmond · CP -- by leave - There are one or two points that I want to make to clarify the position. The honourable member for Dawson **(Dr Patterson)** gave the impression that this agreement is for 7 years. It is for 5 years. The reason that the last agreement ran for 7 years is that although it was a 5-year agreement there were two annual extensions because we did not know how we were going to tackle the problem of a continuation of orderly marketing arrangements for sugar, with the very low world depressed price and with the difficulties in achieving an international sugar agreement. Once an agreement was reached to bring about some form of orderly world marketing the industry was able confidently to go to the Queensland Government and ask for a continuation of the sort of sugar agreements that we have had in the past. So that is what we have in this proposal that has been put before the House by the Prime Minister **(Mr Gorton).** I would like to say to the honourable member for Dawson that during the period for which the previous scheme was in operation the price of sugar did go up on the domestic market by $28 a ton. That price was negotiated between the Queensland Government and the Commonwealth during the period of the 5-year scheme, and that provision still prevails in this agreement. Should there be a reason to adjust the domestic price, it is open for the Queensland Government to negotiate with the Commonwealth for any alteration which might be necessary. If circumstances are such that the industry feels that it is wise to adjust prices either up or down there is provision to do this. I would not feel very happy if the agreement were to be altered in such a way as to fix the price firmly for the next 5 years. {: .page-start } page 2007 {:#debate-39} ### BILLS RETURNED FROM THE SENATE The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment: Social Services Bill 1969 Repatriation Bill 1969 Seamen's War Pensions and Allowances Bill 1969 State Grants (Petroleum Products) Bill 1969 {: .page-start } page 2007 {:#debate-40} ### COMMONWEALTH SERUM LABORATORIES {: #debate-40-s0 .speaker-KFH} ##### Dr FORBES:
Minister for Health · Barker · LP -- Pursuant to section 44 of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Act 1961-66 I present the Eighth Annual1 Report of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Commission for the year ended 30th June 1969 together with financial statements and the Auditor-General's report on those statements. Ordered that the report be printed. {: .page-start } page 2007 {:#debate-41} ### NATIONAL FITNESS {: #debate-41-s0 .speaker-KFH} ##### Dr FORBES:
Minister for Health · Barker · LP -- Pursuant to section 6 of the National Fitness Act 1941 I present the annual report of National Fitness Activities for the year 1968. Ordered that the report be printed. {: .page-start } page 2007 {:#debate-42} ### PERSONAL EXPLANATION {: #debate-42-s0 .speaker-4U4} ##### Mr KILLEN:
Moreton -- I wish to make a very brief personal explanation. {: #debate-42-s1 .speaker-KGP} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon Sir William Haworth: -- Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented? {: .speaker-4U4} ##### Mr KILLEN: -- Yes. During the course of his speech a while ago the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr Whitlam)** sought to correct the impression that he had created earlier when he said that I had never on any occasion made a speech on health. He modified that statement and went on to say that I had made one such speech. I have selected at random a volume of Hansard for the year 1960. It contains a speech of mine which drew high praise from the Australian Labor Party. I commend it to the honourable gentleman and in so doing make the observation that it seems to me that he is dying from too much health. Sitting suspended from 5.58 to 8 p.m. {: .page-start } page 2007 {:#debate-43} ### NATIONAL HEALTH BILL 1969 Second Reading Debate resumed (vide page 1997). {: #debate-43-s0 .speaker-KUX} ##### Mr STEWART:
Lang **- Mr Deputy Speaker,** before this debate was adjourned in order to allow the Prime Minister **(Mr Gorton)** to make a couple of special statements, the honourable member for Bowman **(Dr Gibbs)** had been speaking. During the course of his address, he said that he was entirely opposed to socialised medicine. But, on Tuesday of this week, the honourable member for Moreton **(Mr Killen)** proposed for discussion a matter of public importance, namely: >The proposals by the Opposition relating to a health scheme which, if implemented, would destroy the free health system in Queensland. The honourable member for Bowman was the second speaker in that debate. So, on Tuesday he was all in favour of the socialised hospital system in Queensland. This afternoon, the honourable member was all against socialised medicine. 1 know that I cannot describe the honourable member by the words that come most easily to me. So, may I say, speaking in racing terms, that I think the honourable member for Bowman is having a dollar each way. What is good in medicine and in health in Queensland, whether it is socialised or otherwise, is what the honourable member supports. But, in order to score political points, in a speech that he made this afternoon he changed his opinion entirely. The National Health Bill that we are discussing grants special health and medical benefits for low income earners and migrants. The Bill provides very slight improvements to the national health scheme which is in operation in Australia at the present time. This scheme has been in operation for 17 years. In the last 18 months, two different committees have been appointed to investigate the Australian health insurance scheme. The first committee was the Nimmo Committee. It was appointed in April 1968. Let me mention the members of that Committee. The Chairman of the Committee was **Mr Justice** Nimmo. The second member of the Committee was **Sir Leslie** Melville. Apparently, he is very highly regarded by the Government. He was asked to report also on the portable superannuation. Prior to the suspension of the sitting this evening, the Prime Minister made a statement on the report that had been submitted by **Sir Leslie** Melville on that subject. The third member of that Committee was **Mr Norman** Mcintosh. The Nimmo Committee into health insurance is an independent and impartial Committee'. Those are the words that were used by the Government in setting up this committee. It was a private inquiry. None of its hearings were held in public. Its terms of reference were restricted. With the concurrence of the Minister **(Dr Forbes),** I would like to incorporate in Hansard the terms of reference of the Nimmo Committee. {: #debate-43-s1 .speaker-KIH} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock:
LYNE, NEW SOUTH WALES -- Is leave granted? {: .speaker-KFH} ##### Dr Forbes: -- Yes. {: #debate-43-s2 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Leave is granted. {: .speaker-KUX} ##### Mr STEWART: -- I thank the Minister and the House for that privilege. The terms of reference read: {: type="A" start="A"} 0. To inquire into: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. The types of and the amounts of benefit provided by benefit tables offered by organisations registered under Part VI of the National Health Act 1953-1967, and the numbers of such tables. 1. The extent to which the fund benefits available provide coverage against the cost of contributors of medical and hospital treatment. 2. The rates of contributions payable by contributors to registered organisations, having regard to the financial needs of the organisations and the effect of these contribution rates on the willingness of individuals to insure. 3. The limitations imposed by the rules (including the Special Account rules) of registered organisations in respect of benefit payments. 4. The limitations imposed on individuals by the rules of registered organisations on becoming a contributor to an organisation or transferring to a different benefit table in the same organisation. 5. The policies pursued by registered organisations in the application of their rules relating to the transfer of contributors to Special Accounts. 6. The methods used by registered organisations in paying benefits. 7. The methods used and costs incurred by registered organisations in collecting contributions including the rates of commissions and fees paid to collection agencies. 8. The expenses incurred in administration and management, including the payment of benefits. 9. The level of reserves maintained by registered organisations for hospital and medical insurance purposes. 10. The policies followed in the investment of such reserves and of other moneys arising from contributions to hospital and medical benefit funds. 11. The overall management, administration and financial operations of the registered organisations. 12. The extent to which there is effective contributor representation in the administration and policy making of registered organisations. 13. The effects of activities pursued by registered organisations in competing for members. 14. The extent and form of competition that is desirable between registered organisations. 15. Whether the interests of contributors would be better served if there were a greater or a lesser number of registered organisations. 1. To make such recommendations to the Minister in relation to the above matters as the Committee deems necessary. 2. To make such other recommendations to the Minister as the Committee deems necessary in relation to the provision of adequate financial protection against the cost of illness in the context of both a voluntary health insurance scheme, and the obligations at present accepted by the State Governments. The Nimmo Committee had restricted terms of reference. It was restricted to reporting on the voluntary health scheme in Australia, the scheme that is in operation now and that has been in operation for 17 years. The report of the Nimmo Committee was presented to this Parliament in March 1969. The Committee made 42 recommendations and 7 findings. All of its findings and recommendations had to do with the Australian health insurance scheme. The findings of the Committee were: Terms of Reference (A) and (B) {: type="1" start="1"} 0. The operation of the health insurance scheme is unnecessarily complex and beyond the comprehension of many. 1. The benefits received by contributors are frequently much less than the cost of hospital and medical treatment. 2. The contributions have increased to such an extent that they are beyond the capacity of some members of the community and involve considerable hardship for others. 3. The rules of many registered organisations including the so-called 'special account' rules permit disallowance or reduction of claims for particular conditions. The application of these rules has caused serious and widespread hardship. {: type="1" start="5"} 0. An unduly high proportion of the contributions received by some organisations is absorbed in operating expenses. 1. The level of reserves held by some organisations is unnecessarily high. Term of Reference (C) {: type="1" start="7"} 0. The cost of illness may include, in addition to hospital accommodation and treatment and medical services a wide range of other services which have never been covered by the health insurance scheme. These 'other' services include nursing home accommodation and treatment, physiotherapy, home nursing, chiropractors' services, chiropodists' services, optometry and dentistry. Whilst future increases will be necessary from time to time as costs rise, health insurance contributions are in present circumstances as high as most people are prepared to pay and as many people can afford to pay. We have therefore concluded that, save for the exceptions referred to in Recommendations 38 and 39, it is not feasible to bring these other' services within the operation of the health insurance scheme. They were the findings of an independent and impartial Committee appointed by the Government. That Committee was critical of many aspects of the present health scheme. Its report, as I have said, was submitted to Parliament in March of this year. So, it is near enough to 6 months ago that the Government received this report. The National Health Bill 1969, the first amending Bill to the National Health Act that has been introduced for some time, makes three minor alterations to the National Health Act. When this Parliament resumed on 13th August after the winter recess, I put a question on notice. I asked the Minister for Health: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. What recommendations of the Commonwealth Committee of Inquiry into Health Insurance has the Government decided to be worthy of implementation? 1. When will the necessary legislation to implement these recommendations be introduced? That question was put on notice on 13 th August. We are now near enough to the end of September and I have received no reply to it at all. This morning, in the Senate, a report on medical and hospital costs in Australia was presented to the Senate by the Senate Select Committee appointed in May of last year to inquire into those problems. That committee consisted of three Government senators, two Opposition senators and one independent senator. The Chairman of the Committee was **Senator Dame** Ivy Wedgwood, a Government senator from Victoria. The other members of the Committee were: **Senator T.** L. Bull, a Government senator from New South Wales; **Senator Felix** Dittmer, a Queensland Opposition senator; **Senator Doug** McClelland, an Opposition senator from New South Wales; **Senator D.** P. Sim, a Government senator from Western Australia; and **Senator R.** J. D. Turnbull, then an independent senator from Tasmania. Two members of that Committee were medical practitioners. The terms of reference of that Committee were much wider than the terms of reference of the Nimmo Committee. Its terms of reference were: to inquire into medical and hospital costs in Australia and, in particular, to examine the operation and administration of the medical and hospital benefit schemes, and to recommend such legislative and administrative measures by the Commonwealth as will, having regard to the constitutional division of legislative power in Australia, enable the provision of the optimum standards of medical and hospital care for all. They were wide terms of reference, and they also allowed for public hearings by the Committee. The report of that Committee presented to the Senate this morning is an abbreviated report because of the early election that has been called on by the Government. {: .speaker-KFH} ##### Dr Forbes: -- What has that got to do with it? {: #debate-43-s3 .speaker-KUX} ##### Mr STEWART: -- The Minister asks: What has that got to do with it?' The Committee itself has said that it was unable to give a lot of the examples and a lot of evidence that was submitted to the Committee to substantiate the recommendations that it made. Two members of the Committee, **Senator Dittmer** and **Senator McClelland,** submitted a minority report. Paragraph 16 of the report which was produced in the Senate this morning states: >The Committee closely considered all the suggestions placed before it and finally decided, by a majority vole, that its Report should be framed with the intention of recommending ways of extending and improving the existing voluntary health insurance scheme, and of providing the maximum levels of health care generally throughout the Ausrtalian community. Two members of the Committee, Senators Dittmer and McClelland, dissented from this basis, and their dissent is attached to this Report. The Committee records the fact, however, that the two dissenting members, having recorded their basic dissent, then joined the other members of the Committee in the task of framing recommendations which, while falling short of their own desired objectives, would effect improvement of the present scheme. The following recommendations, therefore, have, except in the case specifically referred to in the minority report, been considered and agreed upon by the Committee, on the basis of all the material submitted to it. That Committee made 34 recommendations and it was unable to complete consideration of three other important aspects of health insurance in Australia. It made no recommendations on medical and hospital services for pensioners, on non-insurance and under-insurance of contributors, of existing and possible future representative bodies. The Parliament and the Government now has two reports on its present health scheme to consider. One is from an independent and impartial committee appointed by the Government, and the other from the Senate Select Committee which had a Government majority and wide terms of reference and public hearings. In the last 18 months or so the Labour Party has been enunciating plans for a national and comprehensive health scheme in Australia. It has suggested that the present scheme is costly, inefficient and unsatisfactory. It has placed an alternate scheme before the people of Australia in order that they may decide whether the present health scheme or the proposed health scheme is worthy of implementation. No-one on the Labour Party side suggests that the scheme that we propose is not without its faults and deficiencies, but it certainly is an alternative scheme to the one that is operated by the Government. Our scheme is not perfect. It has its faults and it has its flaws, but it has a lot more to recommend it than the present scheme which has been operating for the past 17 years. It is interesting to note that until the time that our Leader suggested an alternate health scheme in Australia, Government members, the Australian Medical Association and representatives of medical and hospital funds uttered hardly a word of criticism of our present health scheme. But since we have suggested an alternative scheme, which I believe the public of Australia will be prepared to accept because the public is hit by the deficiency in our present health scheme, Government members, the Minister for Health - in reply to Dorothy Dix questions - medical and hospital fund representatives and the AM A have all shown a much deeper and more serious interest in our health scheme than they had shown previously. All of them are now trying to convince the Australian public that there is no need to improve the present health scheme in Australia. I want to point out, in the time that is left to me to speak in this debate, some of the recommendations made in both the reports and to the similarity in recommendations made by an independent and impartial committee set up by the Government and by a Senate Select Committee with a Governmental majority. The Bill before us deals with amendments to the National Health Act. {: .speaker-KFH} ##### Dr Forbes: -- What about getting back to the Bill? {: .speaker-KUX} ##### Mr STEWART: -- There is no need for me me to tie myself to the provisions of the Bill or to the remarks of the Minister made in his second reading speech. This is a subterfuge that has been used by the Government on numerous occasions to try to tie down Opposition members to speak only about the points that the Government wants us to speak on. The title of this Bill is an open title. The Government appointed two committees to investigate the health insurance scheme in Australia. It has not allowed a debate on the report of the Nimmo Committee. The amendments in this Bill were announced in the Budget introduced on 13th August and it has taken the Minister and his Department until now, perhaps the last day of this Parliament, to introduce this Bill. The Minister sits at the table in his complacency and his arrogance and says, 'Why do not you come back to the Bill? You would like me to speak about the Bill because you know the faults in the present national health scheme and you have been the Minister for Health long enough to have done something about amending the Act. You have had available the report of the Nimmo Committee long enough to have followed some of the recommendations which it made. It would have meant only the signature of the Minister in order to implement the recommendations. As I said, there are two reports before the Parliament and the Government at the present time. {: .speaker-KFH} ##### Dr Forbes: -- What 'about this Bill? {: .speaker-KUX} ##### Mr STEWART: -- Why did not you include some of those things in the Bill? **Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Failes)Order!** The honourable member should address his remarks to the Chair. {: .speaker-KUX} ##### Mr STEWART: -- The Nimmo Committee and the Senate Select Committee have made numerous coinciding or similar recommendations. Under the heading Administration* in the Nimmo Committee report it is suggested that a national health insurance committee of five members should be established. The report of the Senate Select Committee suggests in paragraph 157 that a standing committee of permanent heads of the health departments of the Commonwealth and State governments should be set up. Both committees want an overriding authority that can make recommendations and co-ordinate and make more efficient our present health system. The Nimmo Committee report under the heading 'Hospitals' recommends three levels of hospital benefit tables to apply throughout Australia. The Senate Committee in paragraph 33 recommends three levels of hospital benefit tables. The Nimmo Committee in recommendation 5 (vi) suggests that comprehensive benefits covering all hospital charges should be introduced. The Senate Committee in paragraph 33 suggests that benefits should be directly related to all the charges made in hospitals. The Nimmo Committee in recommendation 12 suggests that no payments of excess benefits should be made by hospital benefit funds. The Senate Committee in paragraph 36 recommends that the benefits be limited to the charges made by the hospital. The Nimmo Committee in recommendation 11 suggests that the Commonwealth benefit of 80c a day for uninsured people in hospitals should be terminated. The Senate Committee suggests that the Commonwealth benefit of 80c a day should be discontinued. The Nimmo Committee in recommendation 9 suggests that the $2 Commonwealth benefit be paid to all patients in Queensland hospitals. The Senate Committee in paragraph 51 makes the same recommendation. The honourable member for Bowman this afternoon suggested that the Queensland Government was losing no money by operating a socialised, free hospital system in that State. {: .speaker-KAR} ##### Dr Gibbs: -- I did not say 'no money'. {: .speaker-KUX} ##### Mr STEWART: -- I can tell the honourable member exactly what he said. He quoted from a reference book and said that Queensland is receiving from the Commonwealth the second highest grants of all the States. {: .speaker-KAR} ##### Dr Gibbs: -- That is right. {: .speaker-KUX} ##### Mr STEWART: -- Two independent committees have suggested that the $2 subsidy from the Commonwealth should be paid to Queensland hospitals. {: .speaker-KAR} ##### Dr Gibbs: -- They would be getting far and away the most then. {: .speaker-KUX} ##### Mr STEWART: -- And you are a Queenslander. On Tuesday the honourable member favoured a socialised, free hospital scheme but today he is completely against socialised medicine. I am likely to get the honorary surgeon to come in on another point. The Nimmo Committee in recommendation 17 recommended the gradual elimination of the honorary system in hospitals. The Senate Committee in paragraph 28 recommended the payment of honoraries for services in hospitals. The Nimmo Committee in recom.dation 5 (i) suggested no means test for standard wards in hospitals throughout the Commonwealth. The Senate Committee in paragraph 48 recommended no means test for public wards. Under the heading 'Health Insurance Organisations' a number of similar recommendations are made. Both committees recommended that rules relating to preexisting conditions should be discontinued. Both recommended that there should be uniform rules for waiting periods, student dependants, workers compensation cases and self-inflicted wounds. They recommended that the special account system be discontinued, that there should be cooperation from employers to operate group systems of collecting the fees of subscribers to the organisations and that there should be a prohibition or a limitation on commissions paid to agents for the collection of the contributions of members of the funds. Above all both committees recommended that the reserves of the hospital and medical benefit funds, particularly the open funds, should be kept within specified limits, that the present reserves should be gradually reduced and that the management expenses should be limited. In addition they recommended that the Minister should use his authority to penalise any of the funds that broke the provisions of the National Health Act. They recommended that the Minister should have the power of suspension and cancellation of registration of hospital and medical benefit funds. Under the heading 'Medical Benefits', both committees recommended common fees for doctors. The Nimmo Committee recommended that, the common fee having been set, the funds should provide a benefit that was $1 below the common fee. The Senate Committee recommended, as the late **Sir Earle** Page said would happen when the scheme was introduced in 1952, that 90% of the common fee should be returned in Commonwealth and fund benefits. The Nimmo Committee and the Senate Committee also agreed that there should be one medical benefit table in each State. Two independent committees met, considered the position and made similar recommendations. Until' the report of the Nimmo Committee was released, very few people thought there was anything wrong with our health insurance scheme. The Leader of the Opposition **(Mr Whitlam)** also had had the audacity to suggest that there were flaws in our existing health scheme. The Minister for Health mutters something under his breath, but he stands condemned because he has done nothing to improve the national health scheme since he became the Minister, except for the three minor alterations that are made in the Bill that is now before us. {: .speaker-KFH} ##### Dr Forbes: -- What about long term hospitalisation, intensive nursing and the care of handicapped children? {: .speaker-KUX} ##### Mr STEWART: -- They are infinitesimal alterations. Earlier when this debate was adjourned, the Prime Minister made two vote-catching statements, one on a new sugar agreement and one on the portability of superannuation. This Government does not do anything until it feels compelled to act. Every time the Opposition makes a suggestion that meets with public accord, the Government starts to act. It is time that the people of Australia realised that this Government does not act until public opinion forces it to act. On health in particular the Leader of the Opposition has shown the way. He started the Government thinking. Whether the Government or the Opposition wins on 25th October, the Australian community will get a better health insurance scheme than it has previously had, and the Opposition will be entitled to take all the credit. The Government has not moved. It is now a tired, inefficient, debilitated Government. It is not prepared to do anything. The present health scheme needs major and urgent improvements and it needs a lot more improvements than the Minister has made in this Bill. Yesterday the Minister was not sure whether this Bill would be debated today or tomorrow. The Government has lost contact with the people. The scheme announced by' the Leader of the Opposition and supported by the entire Labor Party would be more economical, more efficient and more comprehensive than the scheme which this Government has allowed to operate for 17 years. It took the Government 16 years to decide to do anything about the scheme. Because of statements contained in the annual reports of the Director-General of Health the Minister knew that instead of getting from medical benefits funds a return of 90%- **Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Failes)Order!** The honourable member's time has expired. {: #debate-43-s4 .speaker-KAR} ##### Dr GIBBS:
Bowman **- Mr Deputy Speaker,** I wish to make a personal explanation. {: #debate-43-s5 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented? {: .speaker-KAR} ##### Dr GIBBS: -- Yes, on two counts. In the first place the honourable member for Lang **(Mr Stewart)** asserted that I stated that although the per capita contribution by the Commonwealth to Queensland hospitals was the second highest in the Commonwealth, Queensland paid no more for the free scheme. Let me quote from the proof copy of my speech. {: .speaker-6V4} ##### Mr Daly: -- Can't you read your own writing? {: .speaker-KAR} ##### Dr GIBBS: -- Yes. I can even read the type. I said: >The Leader of the Opposition made the statement . . . that the free hospitalisation scheme is starving other areas of Government activity in Queensland of funds. Again, this is just not right. For the Queensland Government to maintain its comprehensive free hospital scheme obviously it must make some additional contribution in this direction. Yet, because of its efficiency in administering this scheme, this contribution is only very marginal. I was also misrepresented when the honourable member for Lang asserted that I was an honorary surgeon. I was not. I was a salaried surgeon. If he knew his facts he would know that a salaried consultant service has existed in Queensland for many years, not an honorary service. {: #debate-43-s6 .speaker-KIW} ##### Dr MACKAY:
Evans -- We have just listened to the sonorous and doleful tones of the honourable member for Lang **(Mr Stewart).** Listening to the honourable member one would have thought that everything that had now been proposed in Labor's scheme was something for which honourable members opposite were completely responsible and that prior to the emergence of the scheme there was nothing but the direst tale of inefficiency and darkness in the whole field of national health. On the contrary, if there is one thing above all else that a person would pick out and which, I believe, the people of my region would assert to be true about the record of the Gorton Government, it is that since John Gorton became Prime Minister he has implemented in a remarkable way - in a way which is not weighted for the advantage that might be obtained at the ballot box - stage by stage and piece by piece, a composite pattern of development, of improvement, of new horizons in the whole field of treating the areas of need and poverty; those who are sick and unwell. This was his promise when he obtained office. I was with him when he made this statement at the great rally in the Sydney Town Hall soon after his appointment and stage by stage we have seen this come about. Looking back over the past year we have seen, as the Minister for Health **(Dr Forbes)** reminded the honourable member for Lang a few minutes ago, great humanitarium measures introduced which have changed the health and the outlook of so many people, particularly the elderly, the frail, the infirm and the invalid. Now, with an election in the offing, it is not the Government which is seeking to put forward a vote catching scheme. It is the Opposition which has brought forward a scheme which is on all fours with the type of thing exposed in Four Corners' recently. In that programme the public was warned against retailers who offered all manner of allegedly free goods to people who paid for a package deal. This is precisely what the Labor Party is offering the nation in its free national health scheme. Of course, Labor does not call the scheme free, because it tells us that it will cost an impost of only 1£% on taxable income - a surcharge on income tax. Indeed, the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr** Whitlam) this afternoon made an astonishing statement. He said that in most cases contributions to the Commission would be lower than people are currently paying and that people who earn average incomes would in fact be obliged to pay the Commission about half as much as they now pay the funds. In Parliament on 19th August he said: >Australians have a clear choice between a comprehensive system costing less to the great majority. . . . I would claim that this assertion that Labor's scheme will cost less is something like the tactic adopted by the slick salesman who offers a customer all sorts of allegedly free goods if the customer buys something at three times its value. For example, the customer may be buying a refrigerator and may be offered a so-called free television set and a free washing machine. You look behind the scenes. You take aside the curtains of Labor's scheme - I trust that it will be curtains for Labor in more ways than one. You examine the scheme to see how costs will be accelerated. The Leader of the Opposition **(Mr Whitlam)** has told us that his scheme is costed according to the Scotton and Deeble plan. We remember how at question time the Prime Minister asked the Leader of the Opposition whether a taxpayer's costs under Labor's scheme would be deductible. When pressed the Leader of the Opposition admitted that there had been a departure from the Scotton and Deeble plan and that there would be an allowance in terms of income tax. So the cost of the scheme must be looked at from a different angle. When we look behind the scenes we see that there is to be an impost on third party insurance to take care of motor accident victims. Similarly, there is to be an additional impost applied to employers to take care of the victims of industrial accidents. So a Labor government would come to the party and would augment the amount received from the 14-% surcharge on income tax. So the cost, of Labor's scheme would be nothing like the figure that has been mentioned. The honourable member for Bowman **(Dr Gibbs)** who is an expert in this field has examined the costing of the Scotton and Deeble plan and he has estimated that it will cost up to 25% and probably 50% more than has been stated. Labor has come into the lists with a scheme which it is attempting to sell to the nation as superior to the existing scheme. Labor would have us believe that this Government is doing nothing to rectify the anomalies and admitted inequalities that have arisen over the years under the present scheme. The honourable member for Lang claimed that until Labor's scheme was announced hardly a word of criticism from this side was to be heard about the present scheme. {: .speaker-6V4} ##### Mr Daly: -- That is right. {: .speaker-KIW} ##### Dr MACKAY: -- The honourable member for Grayndler says: That is right*. How is it then that almost 6 months have passed since the Government's own committee of inquiry announced its findings. In other words, for more than 6 months the Government must have been dissatisfied with the present situation. Over the last few years there has been this sense that a comprehensive review has been needed - and a re-examination of the existing health scheme - so that new proposals could be brought forward. This, of course, was not the only inquiry. We know of the work that has been done in the Government departments themselves - the Department of Health, Department of Social Services and the rest. We know that, during the year, without waiting for the Nimmo Committee to make its reports, tremendously far reaching steps have been taken and advances have been made in terms of meeting the criticisms which date back to last March - not today in September but last March - which pre-dated the Bills which have already been brought down in this place without any kind of eye to an election. Those Bills provided for intensive care and nursing care, for the needs of handicapped children and for domiciliary care for the aged. These and many other things which could be mentioned have been the subject matter of Bills introduced by the Government as soon as the way was clear to do so, that is, as soon as the Government's inquiries revealed that such were areas of need that could be met. So, my whole thesis, if you like, is that the Government has not waited till the eve of an election to put out as has the Opposition what I believe is a thoroughly misleading lot of propaganda-making statements such as that people who earn average incomes would be obliged to pay a health commission about half as much as they now pay to hospital and medical benefits funds. Instead of that we have at this late hour in the life of the Twenty-sixth Parliament a particular Bill - the National Health Bill - which relates to specific categories that as yet need to be attended to. I take up directly the challenge of the honourable member for Lang who stated that this was a vote catching medium. Can he explain now how it is that migrants who have been here for 2 months or less and who are one of the great areas of benefit under this plan, are going to be induced to vote for the Government because of the introduction of this Bill? {: .speaker-6V4} ##### Mr Daly: -- They might have relatives here to influence them. {: .speaker-KIW} ##### Dr MACKAY: -- If you press the thing far enough the whole nation will appreciate what we are doing without doubt, **Mr Daly.** {: #debate-43-s7 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order! The honourable member will be referred to as the honourable member for Grayndler. {: .speaker-KIW} ##### Dr MACKAY: -- The honourable member for Grayndler has interjected to say that no doubt these migrants have relatives who will appreciate what the Government is doing. My thesis is that the honourable member is a little astray because I believe the whole nation will appreciate what the Government is doing for this group. Migrants who come here will be covered for medical and hospital expenses for 2 months after they arrive. In addition to this, of course, there is another category to which the Nimmo Committee has drawn attention. I refer to persons who are in some position of particular need; firstly, those who are unemployed or receiving sickness or special benefits under the Social Services Act and secondly those families whose means are within the prescribed limits. This is an area which Labor admittedly in its plan has attempted to meet, and at the moment the Government also has fulfilled the requirements - the major requirements indeed- of the Nimmo Committee. So, we do have the possibilities of the vast change on the horizon for the whole medical system. But if there was one other area that I myself would pick out as being an area of criticism in the eyes of the ordinary Australian today, it would be this: The hospital part of the scheme works fairly enough. A person gets virtually the whole of the costs of hospitalisation back according to whether he contributes to public, intermediate or private ward accommodation. But when it comes lo the medical side it is a different story. Naturally, fees vary. Labor wants to centralise, organise and systematise the fees that will be charged by the medical profession, much to the profession's annoyance. I completely agree that there is a difference in quality and a difference in the attention that one receives. One can pay for this difference. The medical profession has refused to accept this regimentation. Nevertheless it is true that as one looks at the average bills that are charged for medical care and the existing scales, although they have been raised over the years they meet an inadequate percentage of the cost of medical care. The Government has taken this into account. The Minister for Health has already foreshadowed measures which will not go quite as far as the recommendations of the Nimmo Committee I will not go quite to the point of saying: 'Well, we will guarantee that under this scheme we will provide all medical costs to within a Si of what you are charged'. Nor, on the other hand, is it quite as dismal in outlook as the Labor plan which only undertakes to come within 15% of the average or standardised charge. The Labor scheme would come within 15% of a charge for a major operation, for instance, an open chest operation, an open heart operation, brain surgery or some other major surgical procedures. The cost of such operations would bring a very heavy and respectable bill indeed and 15% of that amount to be met by the patient in addition to his contributions to the Labor scheme would be a very sizeable amount to pay. The Minister for Health has assured the House that a table will be brought down that will bring contributors much closer to the Nimmo Committee ideal of something within a dollar of medical costs. However I want to conclude by pointing out the way in which the scheme has been held up to us tonight by successive speakers opposite - the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr Whitlam)** and then the shadow Minister for Health, I take it, the honourable member for Lang - and state how untrue it is to say that people who earn an average income would be obliged to pay the commission to be set up by Labor only about half as much as they now pay to the funds. Let us remember that the Labor Party's compulsory scheme provides for public ward beds only. Persons who desired to have intermediate shared rooms or private rooms would have to pay the difference out of their own pocket or insure for the difference with a voluntary fund. So, we can see why it is that the Leader of the Opposition in his speech this afternoon used some words to indicate that the Labor Party would require no family to pay more than $100. Let us take the Labor Party's scheme with regard to private room hospital care. The husband is the sole wage earner, and he has a taxable income, after deducting annual voluntary health insurance contributions, of $5,000. He would be required to contribute $91.50- this is under the Labor Party's scheme - plus his contributions to a voluntary fund. Let us take now the case where husband and wife work, and have the same hospitalisation cover. Under Labor's scheme the amount- they would be required to contribute would rise to $97.55. May I compare that with, the net cost of contributions under (he present voluntary scheme? Under the present scheme a husband who is the sole wage earner would not have to pay $91.50. The present net cost of his contribution after tax rebate is taken into account is approximately $50 a difference of $47.55 or 95% less. In the case of the wage earning couple the cost would be not $97,55 but $57.35, again a difference of $40 or more than 80% less. Honourable members may say that these are persons outside of the average range. But the average range has been statistically computed and the Minister has already answered a question of mine with regard to this particular charge. He has shown that it is actually true that rather than the contribution being half as much single persons will pay up to twice as much as they are now paying for their cover under the proposed Australian Labor Party compulsory scheme. This costing, of course, is simply based on the H% which the honourable member for Bowman **(Dr Gibbs)** has already pointed out to us must be further inflated because of changes to the Scotton and Deeble scheme; because of the hidden and unseen charges - unseen but not unfelt - and also because of the import on third party insurance and employers costs which will, of course, be passed on in the cost of products to the community, and the additional contributions of government which again will be taken in regular taxation from the community. To conclude and sum up, I maintain that this Government has not waited, as the honourable member for Lang tried to indicate, until the last minute to present a scheme that was only a shadow of the great over-arching scheme of the Australian Labor Party. On the contrary, the Government has not waited for electioneering to begin to institute, months ago, far-reaching moves indicated by the inquiries of such committees as the Nimmo Committee and as a result of its own researches. The Bill before us tonight, which I commend to the House, is aimed at two relatively small groups of people. The first is that relatively small group of persons who are on or below the poverty line - people who are in special need because of sickness or who are in receipt of special benefits for various reasons such as unemployment which result in their being within the prescribed limits of $39 pep week for a family. Persons in that category will get free medical treatment as well as free hospital treatment. In addition the Government has had an eye to the special needs of new migrants in our community in order to give them a breathing space of security in this tremendously important field of health while they are establishing themselves in this country. I believe this is a humanitarian field. These improvements are typical of the over-arching charter which this Government has taken to itself in the whole field of national health and I have pleasure in commending the Bill to the House. {: #debate-43-s8 .speaker-KDP} ##### Dr EVERINGHAM:
Capricornia -- This National Health Bill provides, in clause 82z, that the Commonwealth will pay any administrative costs to the hospital or medical funds which take on the membership covered by the Bill. This is rather interesting, because it states that these costs are to be the reasonable costs of administration. The Minister for Health **(Dr Forbes)** has taken no action to enforce statutory limits on the administrative costs of these funds. I do not know that he has, even to this day, taken action against funds which go beyond the administrative limits. He did announce that he would take such action the day after I asked him a question without notice on this subject not very long ago. The Government, in other words, is using an anti-competitive policy in stark contrast to the free enterprise and free competition advocated by the Office of Health Care Finance. It will not allow the more efficient funds to give extra benefits. The result is that some funds are able to have unwarranted and unwanted reserves and are spending unwarranted amounts in counter-productive types of competition for bureaucratic empire building purposes by paying high commissions and using lavish advertising methods. This Bill does nothing to prevent this monopolistic and restrictive situation. The honourable member for Bowman **(Dr Gibbs)** said that the Bill is not very important for Queensland. Indeed, under this Bill it is proposed to spend a lot of money without helping a single public patient in Queensland. The honourable member stated that the Australian Labor Party health scheme would make extra charges against Consolidated Revenue. Of course he did not say why there would be extra charges. I want now to give some of the facts relating to national health. The Commonwealth Government, in the year ended 30th June 1969, spent through its Department of Health some $330m. State and local governments spent some $375m on public health and welfare. As well, about $77m was spent by all public authorities on capital expenditure for health, $74m of this being spent by State and local governments. Private individuals, members of hospital and welfare benefit organisations, contributed about $160m to these funds. From figures contained in the report of the Commissioner of Taxation, it appears that individuals also paid some further $300m in hospital and medical fees out of their own pockets. Thus, allowing for some transfers between the Commonwealth and States and between States and individuals, about $800m or 3% of our gross national product, is spent annually on health schemes. More than half of this total annual bill comes directly from public revenue. By reason of taxation concessions granted for subscription to benefit organisations and for bills paid by the taxpayer, the Commonwealth also underwrites a considerable part of private expenditure. As the total figures show, the so called voluntary contribution element provides only about one-fifth of total medical costs; yet honourable members on the Government side of the chamber are quibbling about whether the Australian Labor Party's scheme would cost H% or *H%* of taxable income. We know that health costs are going up. They will go up under any scheme. But this Bill gives coverage for only about 50% of medical1 bills. It gives no coverage for the great bulk of the extras charged by hospitals. There is no attempt to meet these problems. The Nimmo Committee suggested they should be met and the Labor Party scheme will meet them. There is no attempt to deal with costs as suggested in the interim report of the Senate Select Committee on Medical and Hospital Costs. The voluntary scheme, as well as being inadequate, is inequitable as it is based on flat contributions. Everybody pays the same irrespective of their income; but the higher one's income is the higher is the tax rebate. And one-fifth of the community is not in the scheme at all. For these reasons the Labor Party proposes a substitute for this ramshackle scheme - this hotchpotch and incomplete scheme with deficiencies very often where they least should be - where health needs are greatest. We propose a scheme under which people with lower incomes will pay considerably less. These people are by far in the majority. Many people will pay the same; a few will pay more; but everybody will be covered and covered more comprehensively. We will move to improve the co-operation between private practitioners and Commonwealth and State authorities without which there can be no satisfactory service. The honourable member for Evans **(Dr Mackay)** joined the fray in this debate and tried hard to turn the Labor Party's scheme into a thimble and pea trick by throwing doubt on the costing of the scheme. But the costing of our scheme has been brought up to date by Scotton and Deeble and they have far more eminent support than have honourable members on the Government side and the actuaries that they have quoted. If honourable members look at today's edition of the 'Daily Mirror' they will see that the Deputy Director-General of Health, in sworn evidence before a committee, approved and commended Scotton and Deeble's costing. They will see that **Mr Roff,** Director of the Research Section of the Department of Health, said that as far as he is able to check, the financial estimates of such a health scheme are soundly based. Yet we hear these so-called experts on the Government side telling us that our scheme is no good and that it has not been properly costed. As the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr Whitlam)** clearly stated, the additions we have made to the Scotton and Deeble scheme will cost far less than the cost of the proposals in the Bill now before the House and yet provide better cover for those most in need. It is the Government that is involved in hotchpotch handouts aimed at patching up a hotchpotch scheme. It is not the Labor Party that is guilty of this change daily policy. We have made sounder changes in response to the changes that the Minister has introduced although he has a battery of paid experts to help him work out his schemes. Despite this he has come up with one partial fulfilment of the forty-two recommendations of the Nimmo Committee. The Scotton and Deeble proposals have been worked out. They have been costed. They have been approved by the most eminent independent authorities. I am not talking about the actuarial high priests quoted by the honourable member for Bowman, the people who have been paid to prepare a report for officers of the Office of Health Care Finance. Motion (by **Mr Erwin)** put: That the question be now put. Question put. The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. W. J. Aston) AYES: 62 NOES: 26 Majority .. ..36 Original question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time. Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced. AYES NOES {:#subdebate-43-0} #### Third Reading Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith. Bill (on motion by **Dr Forbes)** read a third time. {: .page-start } page 2019 {:#debate-44} ### BORROWING IN AUSTRALIA BY OVERSEAS INTERESTS {:#subdebate-44-0} #### Ministerial Statement {: #subdebate-44-0-s0 .speaker-009MA} ##### Mr McMAHON:
Treasurer · Lowe · LP -- by leave - In the course of his statement on 16th September on overseas investment in Australia, the Prime Minister **(Mr Gorton)** announced new guidelines in respect of borrowings in Australia by overseas interests. I now wish to provide more detailed information on the borrowing guidelines for the information of honourable members and for the guidance of companies and financial institutions concerned. The borrowing guidelines have been in operation since May 1965 when, following measures taken by the United States Administration to limit capital outflow from that country, the then Treasurer, the late **Mr Harold** Holt, requested overseas interests operating in Australia to consult with the Reserve Bank concerning any proposals they might have for financing their activities here by means of local borrowings. A year later, the British Government took action to limit the movement of funds from the United Kingdom to Australia. In circumstances in which United States companies and later British companies were being urged by their respective governments to finance investment overseas to the maximum extent possible by borrowing overseas, and in which Australian interest rates were lower than in many other countries, the initial objective of the guidelines was to avoid excessive calls being made by overseas interests on Australian sources of loan capital and substitution of local borrowings for funds that, if previous practice had been followed, would have been remitted from overseas. If borrowings in Australia by overseas interests had increased substantially, this would have led to a largely commensurate reduction in the amount of overseas funds brought into this country and therefore to a slower rate of growth of the Australian economy. It would also have made it more difficult for Australian enterprises to borrow. Since their inception, approvals under the guidelines to borrow in Australia have been related to the amount of overseas funds invested here and to the extent of Australian equity participation in the borrowing company. In the case of wholly or substantially overseas owned enterprises established in Australia prior to the introduction of the guidelines, approvals to date have also taken account of the financing practices that were previously followed by the companies concerned. The broad principle has been to allow such companies to continue to have access to Australian borrowings consistent with their past financing practices, but this has been subject to certain maximum and minimum limits and to adjustment according to the extent of Australian equity participation. In the case of enterprises established subsequent to the introduction of the guidelines by or in association with overseas interests not previously operating in this country, the general principle followed to date has been that the proportion of local borrowings to total borrowings should not exceed the proportion of Australian equity to total equity. Additionally, approvals have readily been given for local borrowings for certain short term purposes such as the financing of export transactions and fluctuating seasonal requirements. The guidelines as they have operated to date have therefore provided a protection against undue reliance by overseas interests on borrowings in Australia and have consequently provided support for the Australian balance of payments. At the same time they have provided an inducement for overseas controlled companies to admit or to increase Australian equity participation. Experience in their operation and changing circumstances since their introduction showed that they were in need of review. The Government's review of the guidelines has had as a prime objective an increased inducement to overseas controlled enterprises to admit or to increase local equity participation. A further objective has been to remove certain unsatisfactory features in regard to the equitable application of the guidelines. Under the new guidelines announced by the Prime Minister, all enterprises in which overseas interests directly or indirectly own more than 25% of the equity are requested to consult the Reserve Bank in respect of proposals to borrow in Australia. For the purpose 'borrowings* include borrowings of all kinds - bank overdrafts, term loans, mortgage loans, debentures, most types of preference share *issues,* convertible notes, unsecured notes, deposits, inter-company loans, loans from the short-term market, and so on. Such financing arrangements as leasing finance of the type provided by finance companies and banks, vendor's credit on property sales, and large hire purchase transactions may also need to be taken into account in particular cases. The new guidelines take as their starting point the situation of each company as at 30th June 1969. Borrowings approved as acceptable as at that date under the old guidelines may, without further approval, be continued and re-financed as they fall due for repayment. In relation to increases in funds requirements after 30th June 1969, the new guidelines provide, first, for reasonable access to Australian borrowings for financing normal requirements of funds for working capital. For the purpose, working capital includes fluctuating seasonal funds requirements and bridging finance as well as continuing carry-on requirements. The individual circumstances of each case will be taken into consideration in determining the amount of borrowings for working capital considered reasonable. Cases in which working capital requirements represent a large proportion of total funds employed - a situation that commonly obtains for such enterprises as finance companies, import trading firms and construction companies - will require special consideration. As was the position under the old guidelines, in all cases approval will readily be given in full for borrowings for that part of working capital requirements that is for the specific purpose of financing export transactions in circumstances where full payment for the goods is not received at the time of shipment of the goods. In respect of borrowings to finance capital investment, wholly overseas owned enterprises that are regarded as having been established in Australia for a period of 4 years or longer will in addition be allowed to borrow in Australia up to 10% of the increase in funds employed subsequent to 30th June 1969. For this purpose 'funds employed' means total of shareholders' funds, including retained earnings, and other funds financed from overseas sources, plus local borrowings including bank overdraft limits but excluding borrowings to finance export transactions and other increases in working capital. Companies wholly owned by overseas interests established in Australia for periods of less than 4 years will be allowed access to local borrowings on a basis of up to 2i% of the increase in funds employed in the foregoing sense, for each year the overseas interests have been established in Australia. Such companies will for the purpose have a moving base until the overseas interests concerned are regarded as having been established here for 4 years. For enterprises with Australian equity participation, additional borrowings will be allowed according to the proportion of total equity held directly or indirectly by Australians. In respect of an enterprise's requirement of funds additional to any new share issues, retained earnings, and local borrowings allowed under the provisions I have already explained, local borrowings will be allowed on a proportionate basis to overseas borrowings, the proportionate basis being related to the proportion of equity held by Australians. Australian equity will be weighted on a 4 for 3 basis, so that the proportion for an enterprise with 30% Australian equity, for example, will be 40%. Enterprises with 75% or more Australian equity will have unrestricted access to Australian borrowings regardless of whether Australian borrowings are accompanied by overseas borrowings. There may be cases in which the overseas participants cannot for special reasons arrange overseas borrowings to match local borrowings on the foregoing basis. These cases will be considered in the light of all the particular circumstances. The guiding principle will be that Australian equity will increase access to local borrowings. For the purpose of calculating the extent of Australian equity, account will be taken of outright offers to Australians of new or increased equity which are not taken up but which the Reserve Bank considers to have been genuine and reasonable offers of local equity participation in the enterprise. Convertible note issues by overseas controlled companies to Australians represent a form of local borrowing of a special kind in that, provided the terms of the conversion option are genuine and reasonable, they confer on the Australian lenders the opportunity, which depending on circumstances might or might not be exercised, to take up equity at a future date. If and when the notes are converted, they cease of course to be a borrowing and become actual equity. Under the guidelines, convertible note issues while remaining unconverted will be treated as borrowings, but in calculating the extent of Australian equity one-half the future increase in Australian equity that would result if the notes were converted will be taken into account. If there are proposals for making convertible note issues for amounts in excess of the amounts of local borrowings qualifying for approval under the provisions I have outlined, such proposals will receive special consideration under the guidelines. As was the case under the old guidelines, approval will not normally be given for borrowings that would facilitate the remittance of funds abroad for such purposes as the repayment of overseas borrowings and the diversion of the financing of imports from overseas to local sources. In support of long-standing exchange control policy under which overseas interests taking over or acquiring participation in Australian enterprises are required to bring in cash to the full extent of the purchase price, approval will also not normally be given to local borrowings for these purposes. In the event of an overseas takeover of an Australian company with outstanding local borrowings, the overseas interests concerned will be asked to consult the Reserve Bank concerning the local borrowings involved. It is not intended that overseas interests should necessarily consult the Reserve Bank on each individual proposed borrowing operation. The consultation will rather relate to total borrowing programmes; after approval has been given under the guidelines to a borrowing programme the detailed manner of implementing the programme, within the limits approved, will be a matter for the company concerned. Local borrowings of up to $100,000 in total in any one year by any one overseas group will not be subject to the guidelines. Such borrowings do not in the aggregate represent significant amounts for guidelines purposes, and this exemption will operate to simplify administration. For the information of companies concerned, I point out that it would be helpful if overseas interests, when submitting borrowing proposals to tie Reserve Bank, were to furnish details of funds employed at 30th June 1969, supplemented by forward estimates of funds proposed to be employed over the period concerned. This should include separate information on projected changes in working capital requirements and consolidated group or individual company balance sheets. Normally borrowing proposals will be considered on the basis of funds requirements during an individual financial year. In respect of proposals for the financing of projects extending over longer periods, consideration will be given in appropriate cases to the funds requirements over such longer periods. Tn the case of undertakings which are members of a group of overseas-controlled subsidiaries, the usual procedure is to consider borrowing proposals by any one subsidiary on the basis of consolidated balance sheets for all members of the group. This is usually more convenient for the companies concerned and it reduces the number of occasions on which referral under the guidelines is necessary. However, this may not always be appropriate and consideration will be given to dealing with submissions on an individual company basis instead of a group basis if desired by the companies concerned. I emphasise that the guidelines arc concerned with the sources of finance for investment in Australia by overseas interests. It is not part of the purpose of the guidelines to attempt to influence the kinds of investment undertaken by overseas interests or to make administrative judgments on the relative merits of investment projects. Nor are the guidelines used in any way to attempt to regulate the distribution of local borrowings by overseas interests or the interest rates to be paid on such borrowings. These are matters for each company concerned to decide in the light of its own circumstances and what can be negotiated with lenders. I also emphasise that although the guidelines had their origins in measures taken in the United States and later in the United Kingdom, the same rules are applied to all overseas interests, whatever their country of origin. The Government appreciates the cooperation that has been forthcoming fi om both borrowers and lending institutions in the administration of the guidelines to date. We have no doubt that this co-operation Wil continue, if anything in a strengthened way in the light of the full explanation that has been given of the purposes and objectives of the guidelines and of the manner in which they will operate in the future. The new guidelines are. we believe, eminently fair and reasonable and we hope they will be accepted as such. They will remove certain unsatisfactory features of the old guidelines and will at the same time give added emphasis to the Government's wish to encourage greater Australian equity participation in the activities of overseas enterprises in this country that are making such a major contribution to the quite spectacular rate of growth and development of our economy. Under the new guidelines some companies will in future obtain greater access to local borrowings, and others less, in comparison with the borrowings that would have been approved on the basis of the old guidelines. The effect, in the aggregate, will depend on a great many factors and cannot be estimated with precision, but it is considered that total borrowings qualifying for approval under the new guidelines will not be significantly different from that total that would have resulted from continuance of the old guidelines. {: #subdebate-44-0-s1 .speaker-JAG} ##### Mr CREAN:
Melbourne Ports -- by leave - I submit that this statement and the one that is to be introduced into the House in a few minutes time are not carefully argued statements at all, but are, if I may be excused for saying so, election propaganda. We have been here for a long time in the last few weeks. It seems rather appalling that in the last hours of the 26th Parliament we are confronted with two significant statements; - this one and the one to be introduced shortly - with regard to a very technical matter, convertible notes. If the Treasurer is doing it that way, I will enter into the game the same way. I would say on behalf of the Australian Labor Party that we recognise the great growth and development that have taken place in Australia in recent years. I know that it is a very easy political gimmick to claim that the growth has been due to you, **Mr Treasurer.** {: .speaker-JSE} ##### Mr Bridges-Maxwell: -- Certainly. {: .speaker-JAG} ##### Mr CREAN: -- I am sure that is what he would hope. In my view, it is astonishing that we have achieved the growth that we have despite the Government that we have had. The Treasurer can claim credit for a lot of things. Let me say this to start with: We acknowledge that this country would have been in Queer Street because of the way it has been going in recent years if it had not been for the foreign investment that has been coming into Australia. I do not have the figure at my disposal offhand. I know that the Treasurer will acknowledge that I did not have this statement very long before he made it this evening. {: .speaker-KJO} ##### Mr James: -- That was discourtesy on his part. {: .speaker-JAG} ##### Mr CREAN: -- No. The honourable gentleman is very courteous, as far as I am concerned. I hope that, in similar circumstances, I will be courteous to him. {: .speaker-009MA} ##### Mr McMahon: -- The honourable member received it before I had read it. {: .speaker-JAG} ##### Mr CREAN: -- My friend says that I received it before he read it. All I acknowledge is that I did not have much time to read it before he delivered it. This is the situation in which we are arguing. After all, the House could sit tomorrow. In that case, we could have debated this matter at some length. All I am saying is that if Australia had not had foreign investment at approximately $ 1,000m over the last 10 years we would have been in a pretty difficult situation as far as our international payments are concerned. It is easy enough for the Government to say that reserves have been accumulated. I think that those reserves were also approximately $ 1,000m plus what are called the first and second line reserves. But they would have been a negative quantity if we offset what are called technical resources against the accumulations by foreigners, if we like, or people from outside Australia engaged in industry in Australia. I do not think that any argument arises about this point of view. The Australian Labor Party is not against foreign investment in any circumstances. One of the difficulties in this Parliament is that one can get into a great argument because one is said to be talking about black versus white when in fact one is talking about various shades of grey. We say that the view of the Australian Labor Party is not - and I emphasise the negative character of that view - that in no circumstances is there a place for foreign investment. We acknowledge that foreign investment has been of considerable assistance to Australian development in circumstances of overall capital shortage. I think the honourable gentleman might suggest that in certain circumstances there is still capital shortage, and in the foreseeable future - and I am saying this having in mind a likely change that I hope will occur in politics in the next few weeks - we could have serious balance of payments difficulties if suddenly the flow of foreign investment dried up. I take it that my friend and I are in agreement about this. But when we come to a question of somebody outside Australia wanting to invest in Australia we must realise that this is a two-way process. They want us and we want them, if one likes to put it that way. This allows a certain amount of bargaining on both sides. We can set some terms and they on their side can set some terms. As I see it this basically is what the great question of the guidelines is about. I am at one with my friend again; I do not think one can be so rigid as to say: 'We will lay it down that you cannot come in unless you do this', because they would say: 'If you set these conditions we will not come in at all.' On the other hand, as we argued the other evening, there are some great advantages in the Australian situation. We are still a reasonably peaceful community politically and I am sure that nobody on either side would argue at the moment that there is going to be devastation as a result of the decision made on 25th October. At least, if one believes in democracy one should not assert that kind of thing. If there were a change things would go on in much the same way as they would if you on that side of the House were in government instead of us on this side. Surely when we argue about foreign investment we are arguing about a pretty marginal factor. The honourable gentleman has, when it has suited him, submitted that most of the capital investment that has taken place in Australia has been local investment. It has been running at about 85% of total investment which is something like 6 parts out of 7. In some years it has got close to 90% of 9 parts out of 10. Literally we have been lifting ourselves up by our own boot straps. The proportion of total investment represented by local investment varies from year to year but it has been 85% and 90%. Of course in this House one can sometimes point to a drop in reserves in July or a rise in August and so score a pretty cheap political point. But it is the long-term trend that is significant. The proportion of foreign investment or, if you like, outside-Australia investment, has sometimes been as high as 15%. It has certainly averaged something more than 10%. But mostly investment in Australia has come from local sources. As the honourable gentleman knows, if we consider the total field of investment it covers such things as buying our own motor vehicles, providing our own buildings, both dwellings and factories, and the like. In this context it is the significance of the 10% or 15% that is important. After all, if a foreign firm invests in Australia it is not buying dwelling places in country areas, it is buying factories or equipment in some section of our own Australian industry. It is for this reason that I think we should closely examine the situation and I think this is where the question of the guidelines comes into the picture. What we are arguing about, surely, in Australia is: What is to be developed? How can we best develop it? How is the development to take place? Will we do it with internal or with external assistance? Who should do the development? This raises the question whether it is to be public enterprise, in the sense of government enterprise, and here we need a great deal more cooperation than has been forthcoming in the past between the States and the Commonwealth. Then there is the question whether it is to be done by a partnership of government and private enterprise or a partnership of private enterprise in Australia with so-called private enterprise outside Australia. It seems to me that this is what the argument about guidelines really is. This is why I think the famous statement of the Prime Minister **(Mr Gorton)** about our not being puppy dogs lying with our stomachs in the air waiting to be tickled is a silly statement as an evaluation of the future of Australia's development. 1 think it is a statement that he realises was silly and which still haunts him. After all, the ghosts of past comments haunt us all if we are not careful about the words we use. We on this side suggest that there should be a set of national priorities. It seems to me that the Prime Minister is sometimes acknowledged as a nationalist in the field of local development. I think we are all nationalists when it comes to the crunch, if I may use that term. It is just a question whether we are silly nationalists or wise nationalists. It is here that the awful word nationalism' comes into account. Of course nationalism has some relation to internal circumstances combined with external circumstances, and surely nowhere do these two considerations meet and become more pertinent than in the matter of foreign investment. On our side we have made a considerable study of the matter. I and my colleague who was here this evening, and my missing colleague who has been here in other years, have been nationalists about this kind of thing, but we have at least acknowledged that we could not have got where we are today without some foreign investment. Surely the whole basis of international trade in the long run is that the world is a better place because we have external relations as well as internal relations, and the matter of foreign investment basically arises out of the circumstance that there are relative differences in the stages of economic development At the moment the two places with which Australia is most associated - and in some respects it is a pity that we were not associated with some other parts of the world - are the United States of America and the United Kingdom, both of which have in some ways fostered our economic development. I suppose historically the UK has done so more than the US, but nevertheless they are both still giants by comparison with Australia. If we make an analysis of the total field of foreign investment in Australia at the present time we would probably still find an even balance as between the UK and US. The US share has been rising a little bit faster in recent years than that of the UK. In any case the preponderance of foreign investment in Australia is of either US origin or UK origin. In fact, of course, by reason of what is sometimes called the US invasion, what we think are UK companies turn out to be really US companies because of the takeovers that have occurred. It would be nice if we could develop our own resources to the maximum without foreign investment. All I say is that in Australia at the present time it is very doubtful that it would be realistic to assume that we can do this. I think we all would agree that Australia has great capacities for expansion and it is doubtful whether they can be fully utilised unless we have some outside assistance. Again this is where we get down to the guidelines. Are we not talking about how the outside assistance should come in? In some circumstances, as the honourable gentleman has laid down here, participation should be on the basis of a 50T50 partnership or a 51-49 partnership. I am not too sure that 51-49 is essentially different from 50-50. These are marginal terms. But there may be some circumstances in which it ought to be 70-30 in Australia's favour and other circumstances in which it ought to be 30-70 against Australia, if we thought that it was better done that way. On the other hand there may be circumstances in which some development of Australia's resources could be undertaken only if we had almost 100% foreign participation. It is a matter of how we mobilise the total resources of capital that are available. I think we in Australia have been deficient in the way we have mobilised the total resources of capital that are available. Honourable members may have read that rather interesting book written by ServanSchreiber about the American invasion of Europe. I have quoted from it before, but I do not have it with me at the moment. He said that the Americans had shown in Europe what the Europeans could have done with their own capital but did not do. Australia should learn the same lesson. We have great potentials for development, but we have not used them and it took somebody outside to show us how to use them. In the future we ought to be able to mobilise our internal capital resources better than we have in the past. The Treasurer had an argument with a colleague as to whether we should have one bank or another. I should like to intrude a little categorical imperative, if I may, and 1 think he will agree with me. It is the view of the Australian Labor Party that no foreign banks should be given full banking rights in Australia. I think this is a view that he takes himself. If the Chase Manhattan Bank of New York or the First National City Bank want to establish an agency in Australia in conjunction with the National Bank of Australasia Ltd, the Bank of New South Wales or the Commonwealth Banking Corporation, that would be all right, but they should not be allowed to open in Australia as new banks. In some respects Australia is already an over-banked community. It is time our bankers realised that 1969 is a little different from 1869, which some of them think about when they write their centenary histories. What is called private enterprise has displayed very little acumen as far as enterprise is concerned, whatever the view may be about privacy. I submit that the Treasurer and I are on the same side here. We suggest that Australia has entered the era of great development. We can be one of the great countries of the world. We are fortunate that we started with certain European traditions. We were colonised some 200 years ago and we had the advantages of coming from a very intelligent people. I will not dwell tonight on what we did to the indigenous people. We seem to be having some pangs of conscience now about the remnants of them. Nevertheless we in this part of the world are fortunate as compared with our neighbours. We have some moral obligations as well as social obligations to them. What we should be arguing about is this: How far can the Commonwealth itself directly determine the pace and the direction of national development? It should be more purposeful than it has in the past, because most of Australia's great potential lies in exploiting its mineral resources. They are not only on the shores of Australia; they are on this vague area that is called the continental shelf, which is about onethird of the size of the land area of Australia. The mineral's are either under the land or under the water, but wherever they are they belong to the people as a whole. They are natural resources and they ought not to be exploited except for the advantage of the public. This is another area in which we have been a little bit free and easy in allowing foreigners to participate in our development. Australia should be more nationalistic than it has in the past. It should say to certain countries, such as the United States: 'We know you have great technical1 know-how. We would like the use of that know-how. But we do not think you have the right to control the resources entirely.' Again we get down to the basis of the guidelines. On what terms does foreign investment come in? On what terms do we exploit? It is to the advantage of both of us to do this. This is why I am at one with the Treasurer. We have to be reasonably flexible about what we try to enunciate. But at this stage the Government is trying to camouflage the big mistake made by the Prime Minister 12 or 18 months ago. With great respect, what the Treasurer calls the new guidelines are not very much different from the old guidelines. I still think there are many areas of confusion about the guidelines. After all, if a guideline is to have any meaning it ought to guide. I submit with all respect that many of these guidelines do not guide. What the business community, whether it is internal or external, was looking for was the removal of the confusion. To some extent the Treasurer has removed the confusion, but I think he has removed only the confusion that was intruded by the Prime Minister. {: .speaker-KCQ} ##### Mr Graham: -- Nonsense. {: .speaker-JAG} ##### Mr CREAN: -- The honourable gentleman shall have his say in a few minutes. All I am saying is that there has been no great fundamental revolution and the guidelines enunciated tonight in 1969 are no different from what has been practised in Australia for a good many years. I move on to the things that need to be done. There must be better co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States in the future than there has been in the past. Most of the resources that have to be developed are within the boundaries of States, although there is a big constitutional argument as to who owns the continental shelf. We in this Parliament thought we were being very clever when we passed an Act that we thought would divide the field. In fact it does not. Nevertheless the Commonwealth is in a better position to mobilise the necessary financial resources and to supply them, if need be, at government level than the States are. I mentioned earlier that there should be better utilisation of available capital resources. The big sources of capital availability in Australia are the banks and the insurance companies. It seems that the banks are losing to what are called the fringe institutions, and this Government has done very little to control the boundaries on which the fringe institutions operate. Yesterday we had a number of useful examples of the way that the taxing powers were being used to encourage national development. We must have a good deal more rationalisation than we have had in the past in the use of the taxing powers to encourage certain kinds of investment, if desired, and to discourage other kinds, if you wish to do so. Sometimes if you are not careful mushroom industries will develop while basic industries stagnate. As for foreign companies wishing to establish themselves in this country, we must tell them firmly that in some fields we welcome them while in others we are not enthusiastic. I still cannot see any reason, other than that you make a transfer from one part of the total to another, for a foreign company to build flats, houses, public buildings or hotels in Australia. The gentleman who recently described the hideousness of Australian architecture may have had a point. A lot of our hideousness has been inherited from the country from which he came. If we went to London most of us would have similar criticism about many of the new buildings there as against the old. {: .speaker-KCQ} ##### Mr Graham: -- Who built the Union Pacific railway? {: .speaker-JAG} ##### Mr CREAN: -- I am not interested in the Union Pacific railway but I would ask the honourable gentleman who built the railway from Adelaide to Perth. It was built by the skills of Australian workmen. Australian workmen have the skill to erect any building that we need. It seems that sometimes it is easier in a town or city in Aus tralia to build a bank or an insurance company or oil company office than it is to build a school or a university. {: .speaker-KCQ} ##### Mr Graham: -- What nonsense. {: .speaker-JAG} ##### Mr CREAN: -- If the honourable member for North Sydney thinks that it is better for children to suffer from inferior education while travelling in magnificent motor cars on pretty inadequate roads, fair enough. It is a matter of balance. As for foreign companies, we should tell them to go into the Northern Territory and develop the deposits of uranium, copper, lead or zinc but not to go into the heart of Sydney or Melbourne and build hotels. That is the only point I am trying to make. If we are to improve our balance of payments position without relying on an inflow of capital from overseas we must increase exports. I would expect the honourable member for North Sydney **(Mr Graham)** to agree with me. You cannot make very substantial or spectacular increases in this field. It is not easy to ascertain details of our exports of minerals. I was disturbed to discover the other day when reading the annual report of the Reserve Bank that separate statistics of increases in exports of minerals are not kept. When I raised the matter in the debate on the Estimates I was told that if separate statistics were kept the affairs of individual companies would be divulged. If a company is big enough to be the major exporter of, say, aluminium or copper, why should it hide its activities under a cloak of anonymity? This attitude is a rather curious survival of the old idea that Jones, who had a shop alongside Smith and Brown, did not want his neighbours to know how well or how badly he was doing. But if a firm is the sole exporter of copper, zinc or lead why should it hide under a cloak of anonymity and refuse to divulge details of its exports? To do so is sheer humbug and I would hope that the laws of the country relating to statistics would be altered to rectify the situation. We must increase domestic savings in this country. Because of this the Government should be much more concerned than it seems to be about Labor's proposal for a national superannuation scheme. Such a scheme would be a great source of capital accumulation in the years ahead. The majority of the funds would probably go into government sources or certainly governmentcontrolled sources and they could be directed towards development projects. We call ourselves an affluent society. I do not think there is any argument about our having one of the highest standards of living in the world. But the situation could be improved. There is still a problem to be solved of distributing the prosperity that we enjoy. Australians who have enjoyed at least a generation of full employment will not be satisfied in the future suddenly to find their income fall from about $70 a week to the combined pension pittance of $26.50. The Government must adopt a more fundamental approach to these matters. In the years that I have been in this Parliament I have been astonished to see things which you would have cherished now criticised and rubbished for reasons of political expediency. After all, the first national superannuation legislation introduced into the Parliament bears the name Casey - the man you made GovernorGeneral. When we in 1969 argue that national superannuation may be the way to overcome the social dislocations brought about by the means test and to provide adequately for everybody in retirement, you throw up your hands in horror because the proposal is Labor inspired. You are living in the past. The tragedy of Australia over the last 20 years is that it has had to live with you. If Australia is to go forward in the future progressive ideas must be adopted. I do not want to criticise what is called private investment but, as I said earlier to my beloved colleague the right honourable member for Melbourne **(Mr Calwell),** it has never been as enterprising as it has claimed to be. It has existed in Australia and has been allowed to develop in many cases almost to the level of semi-monopoly because the Government has never seen fit to tread sufficiently delicately on its toes so as to stir it to greater activity. I am sorry that the right honourable gentleman has not allowed us more time to contemplate his statement. I think the Government has attempted to resolve a dilemma that confronted it. It had to overcome a statement of policy that would have been better not made. Now we find that what are called the new guidelines are not very different from the old. If I might say so, if there were a change of government there would not be a great deal of difference either. There would be difference in emphasis and I hope that I have outlined what those differences might be. I hope that honourable members opposite will not be so carping as to pick this point and that point because there are plenty of points to pick in their own Treasurer's statement. I would like honourable members to look at the concluding statement of the Treasurer's oration. He said: it is considered that total borrowings qualifying for approval under the new guidelines will not be significantly different from the total that would have resulted from continuance of the old guidelines. In this respect, all I would like to do is to recall the words of Milton: >New Presbyter is but old Pope writ large. I think this is pretty true of the new guidelines as against the old. They do not change much. But at least they acknowledge, as we ought to have acknowledged, that we should scrutinise carefully anything that comes into Australia whether it be in the form of millions of dollars of capital or, what some people are more concerned with, dirty books. {: .speaker-EE4} ##### Mr Uren: -- I seek leave to make a statement. {: .speaker-009MA} ##### Mr McMahon: -- How long will this take? {: .speaker-EE4} ##### Mr Uren: -- I wish to make a brief statement. But the fact is that I am seeking leave to make a statement. I have made a contribution on this matter and I feel I have the right to make a statement. {: .speaker-009MA} ##### Mr McMahon: -- I will grant the honourable member leave. {: #subdebate-44-0-s2 .speaker-EE4} ##### Mr UREN:
Reid -- by leave- I thank the Treasurer **(Mr McMahon).** I have tried to make a contribution in this place on the subject of foreign investment in Australia. I was elected to this Parliament in November 1958 and I made my maiden speech in February 1959 which included comments on the problems of foreign investment in Australia and the sell-out of Australian natural resources and industries. On that occasion I also expressed concern about the double taxation agreement. Over the years I have tried to study this question which is a difficult one. We are faced with an extremely difficult problem when one realises that the Australian deficit on current account is now reaching about $ 1,000m a year. Over the past 20 years there has been a deficit in current account of over $8,000m. One is concerned because, after all, we have to maintain a rate of development and a condition of full employment and maintain a substantial rate of growth. One could say to the people of Australia: 'Well, the Labor Party has arrived. We will save Australia. We are asking you now to accept a policy of an austerity budget so that we can protect this country from foreign takeovers.' We realise that there are problems associated with that idea because this country has had 20 years of maladministration under a conservative government. The Government has allowed this country to run into a debt of some $8,000m. In some cases the investment that was made by foreign investors is now earning 600% on the original investment. When we take into consideration what these great monopolies or oligopolies are paying for their own future development - because of their control of distribution within Australia - we can see that they are assessing their future development in the prices of the goods they sell to the Australian people. The Australian people, in purchasing goods from these foreign companies, are in fact paying for the development of these monopolistic concerns. Therefore, this is a matter of great and serious concern for all citizens within Australia. We must guide and we must plan our future. The Prime Minister's statement a few nights ago does not do this. I would like to quote to the House a speech that was made by the Prime Minister **(Mr Gorton)** at the Dorchester Hotel in London on 17th January 1969. The right honourable gentleman said: >Up until very recently it has seemed to me that the posture of Australia in seeking overseas capital has been the posture of a puppy lying on its back with all legs in the air and its stomach exposed, and saying, 'Please, please, please, give us capital. Tickle my tummy - on any conditions.' These words were spoken by the Prime Minister when he talked to British business men. In the past we have accepted foreign investment under any conditions. But the right honourable gentleman said that there was to be a new deal. He returned to this House and the Labor Party on 25th February 1969 raised a matter of urgency in which we sought a new deal. We sought to have a new policy on foreign investment. But we only heard the old policy - foreign investment at any price. There was no change of policy. It was policy as usual. Of course, we know that there was a struggle inside the Government parties. We know that there was the Treasury line. We know that this line was that we need foreign investment - at any price. The Prime Minister stood by his statement in London of 17th January. But what really happened? The Prime Minister made his statement in such a way that the financial writer of the Sydney Morning Herald' writing in the 'Sun Herald' last Sunday - I might say that he is a very informative writer - said that there was a victory by the Treasurer over the Prime Minister. In fact, the Treasurer has been saying around the lobbies: T had a victory over Gorton'. {: .speaker-009MA} ##### Mr McMahon: -- That is a lie. {: .speaker-EE4} ##### Mr UREN: -- He said: *I have a victory over Gorton'. He said that there has been a victory for McMahon over Gorton. {: .speaker-009MA} ##### Mr McMahon: -- I ask that those words be withdrawn because they are a positive lie and those phrases have never been instanced. {: #subdebate-44-0-s3 .speaker-JR9} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Bosman:
ST GEORGE, NEW SOUTH WALES -- Order! The honourable member for Reid is in order. {: .speaker-EE4} ##### Mr UREN: -I ask that the Treasurer withdraw that word. It is offensive to me. The word is unparliamentary. {: #subdebate-44-0-s4 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -I ask the right honourable gentleman to withdraw the word to which exception has been taken. {: .speaker-009MA} ##### Mr McMahon: -- I withdraw the remark that it is a lie. But I ask the honourable gentleman who parades in this House as a person who comports himself with some degree of dignity and claims to speak with some degree of accuracy that he give me one single shred of evidence on which he can base that comment. I say that the statement is completely inaccurate. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -Order! The right honourable gentleman will resume his seat. {: .speaker-EE4} ##### Mr UREN: -- In fairness to the Treasurer I will accept, with respect, the sentiments expressed by him. In fact he has denied these remarks but may I state what the newspapers have been stating. {: .speaker-009MA} ##### Mr McMahon: -- Quote one newspaper. {: .speaker-EE4} ##### Mr UREN: -- I will state what was said by the financial editor, a very respectable man, a man of some substance. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -Order! The honourable member for Reid would do better to concentrate his remarks on the substance of the matter before the House. {: .speaker-EE4} ##### Mr UREN: -- The substance of the matter is whether there should be controls on foreign investment in Australia. I am referring to the statement made by the financial editor of the 'Sydney Morning Herald', as stated in the 'Sun-Herald' of last Sunday, that this is a victory for McMahon over Gorton. I am saying also that this is what was stated by the financial editor of the 'Sydney Morning Herald'. I still stress that this matter has been a victory for the Treasury and for the present Treasurer over the Prime Minister. I shall quote again for all honourable members just what the Prime Minister said: >Up until very recently it has seemed to me- And after all he is the Prime Minister of Australia - that the posture of Australia in seeking overseas capital has been the posture of a puppy lying on its back with all legs In the air and its stomach exposed, and saying, 716356, please, please, give us capital. Tickle my tummy - on any conditions.' I am not quoting what was said by the honourable member for Reid; this was said by the Prime Minister, John Gorton, when speaking at the Dorchester Hotel in London on 17th January 1969. If honourable members so desire, I shall quote another statement to the House. It was a statement made many years ago by the Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the Country Party. **(Mr McEwen).** Motion (by **Mr Erwin)** put: >That the honourable member for Reid be not further heard. The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker - Mr L. L. Bosman) AYES: 58 NOES: 23 Majority 35 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the affirmative. {: .page-start } page 2030 {:#debate-45} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-45-0} #### PRINTING CCOMITTEE {: #subdebate-45-0-s0 .speaker-KCQ} ##### Mr GRAHAM:
North Sydney -! present the tenth report of the Printing Committee. Report - by leave - adopted. {: .page-start } page 2030 {:#debate-46} ### INTEREST ON CONVERTIBLE NOTES {:#subdebate-46-0} #### Ministerial Statement {: #subdebate-46-0-s0 .speaker-009MA} ##### Mr McMAHON:
Treasurer · Lowe · LP -- by leave - In my Budget Speech 1 announced that the Government intended, subject to conditions, to restore income tax deductions for interest on convertible note issues. In his statement to the House on Tuesday evening last week the Prime Minister **(Mr Gorton)** gave a broad outline of the conditions that are proposed. {: #subdebate-46-0-s1 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -Order! The level of noise in the chamber . is far too high. The right honourable the Treasurer cannot be heard. I ask honourable members to come to order. {: .speaker-009MA} ##### Mr McMAHON: -- It will not be practicable for the amending legislation - which, because of the intricate nature of the subject, will require some time in the drafting - to be introduced before the House rises. In these circumstances, the purpose of my statement today is to give honourable members a fuller picture of our proposals before the amending legislation is brought down. In proposing to restore tax deductions for interest on convertible notes the Government recognises that this type of security can play a useful and legitimate role in company financing. For a new and developing company that is unable to compete for equity capital in terms of the dividends it can offer, convertible notes can provide a means of keeping down the cost of capital until such time as the company is performing well enough to offer attractive dividends. On the other side of the coin, they can give the investor in a developing company with good, but by no means certain, prospects for future growth the advantages - in terms of income and security - of a fixed interest issue combined with the opportunity to convert his loan into shares if the company eventually fulfils its early promise. Convertible notes have worthwhile advantages apart from considerations such as those I have mentioned. They have been widely used as a means of raising capital on international markets and could, therefore, place Australian companies in a better position to raise funds overseas. Quite importantly, too, they offer a convenient means by which Australians might be given the opportunity to acquire equity holdings in overseas-owned ventures in Australia. As the Prime Minister **(Mr Gorton)** has said, the Government has in mind particularly ventures of this kind in the extractive industries. On the other hand, the Government has no wish to re-open the opportunities for tax avoidance that unconditional restoration of deductibility of interest on convertible notes would provide. As 1 mentioned when I announced this proposal, the income tax law was amended in 1960 to disallow the deduction of interest payable by companies on convertible notes, to prevent the use of these securities lo avoid tax. In many cases there was little to distinguish the convertible notes being issued in 1960 from deferred shares. By one means or another the companies issuing the convertible notes virtually ensured that the notes, on maturity, would automatically be converted into shares. In effect, companies were issuing notes that really amounted to shares and were obtaining tax deductions for interest payments that really amounted to dividends. They were thus able to breach a fundamental rule of our tax system that, while interest is tax deductible, dividends are not. It is proposed, therefore, to restore the tax deduction for interest on convertible notes, largely to assist Australians to acquire a stake in major ventures undertaken here. This will, however, be on conditions which, white not stripping convertible notes of their advantages for legitimate business purposes, will minimise their use for tax avoidance purposes. The first condition that is proposed is that it must be the noteholder and not the issuing company who has the option to convert or take repayment in cash. The option will, broadly, be one to have shares in that company or another company allotted to the noteholder. In a fixedinterest borrowing the lender must have the right to repayment in cash of the full amount he has lent. Clearly, if the borrowing company had the right to make the notes convertible it would be able to give a deferred issue of shares the form of a borrowing and thus obtain tax deductions for interest payments that were essentially disguised distributions of income. The second condition is that the noteholder's right to exercise the option to convert is not to be deferred longer than 2 years after the date on which, broadly speaking, subscriptions to the particular convertible issue can first be made. In the absence of such a condition, noteholders could be put in a position where they would have to go on holding the notes and not convert them for an unduly long time after the issue of the notes, simply because the issuing company had drawn the terms of issue in such a way that the option was to be deferred until the company was ready to redeem its debt by an issue of shares. This second condition will not require the option to be deferred for 2 years. It will be open to the issuing company to make the option exercisable immediately if it wishes. Nor will there be any obligation on the noteholder to exercise his option at the end of the 2-year period. If he chooses to do so he will be able to continue holding the notes and determine for himself the time to convert or, alternatively, wait and take repayment in cash when the notes mature. Another condition concerning the noteholder's option will be that it must remain open up to a date not more than 12 months earlier than the maturity date of the note. The option could, of course, remain open right up to the maturity date - but not later - if the issuing company wished. In other words, the condition allows the option to be terminated as much as 12 months before maturity so as to allow the issuing company, if it wishes to have it, reasonable notice of the funds it will require on the maturity date to repay in cash notes that are not converted. It is also proposed that the convertible note must have a currency of not less than 7 years or more than 10 years. The minimum borrowing period of 7 years is designed to give noteholders a reasonable period in which to judge the performance of the issuing company and decide whether or not to exercise their options. The maximum period of 10 years is considered to be long enough to permit the investment to become sufficiently revenue-producing to justify a share issue. Once that stage has been reached there would seem to be no justification for exclusion of noteholders from the company's equity or for the continued distribution of income in the form of tax deductible interest instead of as non-deductible dividends. Another condition will be that the terms and conditions applying to the convertible notes are to be fixed and not subject to any variation throughout the period of their currency. That is, the rate of interest on the notes must not vary and the terms of the issue, such as those governing conversion of the notes into shares, are not to be shaded' in such a way that a noteholder is induced to convert at one time rather than another. This condition is, therefore, essentially a backstop to other conditions. Finally, it will be a condition for deductibility of interest that the conversion price for shares is not to be less than 90% of their market value when the convertible notes are offered for issue, or par, whichever is greater. As background to this condition, I mention that in convertible issues on the international market it is usual for the conversion price to be fixed at a premium on the current market price. In the pre-1960 situation in Australia, however, it was not usual for conversion prices to be fixed in this way. As often as not the conversion price was par. Looking to the present situation, and even with convertibility being at the option of the noteholder, the absence of a conversion price test such as the one the Government proposes would mean that companies could make conversion in due course a more or less practical certainty. In this way the convertible notes could, to all intents and purposes, be a deferred equity issue. The proposed minimum conversion price is intended to discourage this substitution of convertible notes for equity issues. As I have indicated, the price which a noteholder must pay to have shares allotted to him when he exercises his option will need to be at least 90% of the market value of an equivalent share in the company when the note issue is made. For shares that are listed on a stock exchange, the market value will be based on the market prices of the particular class of share in a period shortly before the note issue is floated. The market value of other shares will be determined by a valuation of a company auditor. It is proposed that the conditions I have outlined will apply to convertible note issues made after the necessary amendments become law. These amendments will be introduced as soon as possible. Restoration of deductibility on the basis of the proposed conditions will, the Government feels, make available a useful and suitable means of financing companies through periods of establishment or expansion without opening the way to large-scale tax avoidance. It will also pave the way for wider participation by Australians in the ownership of the great ventures that are doing so much to promote our development and prosperity. {: #subdebate-46-0-s2 .speaker-JAG} ##### Mr CREAN:
Melbourne Ports -- by leave - As the Treasurer **(Mr McMahon)** said, the matter is an intricate one that requires a long time for drafting. I do not want to intrude into the technicalities of the matter. As the Treasurer said, what we are trying to do is to avoid reopening the opportunities for tax avoidance that unconditional restoration of deductibility of interest on convertible notes would provide. As he has indicated, a convertible note is a sort of half way house between a debenture and a share. It is an option, if you like, which a person has to convert from the certainty of a low interest rate to the uncertainty of something a bit better. It is regarded as a device which aids the accumulation of capital, and to some extent that is the case. - But as the Treasurer said in his statement, the real question at issue is the fundamental rule of our tax system that while interest is tax deductible dividends are not. This seems to me to be the core of the matter. Whether the Treasurer thinks that he is allaying any uncertainties in the investing field by doing this now rather than later I do not know, but I regret that these complicated statements are brought into the House when there is no opportunity for members to digest them properly. I submit that when the new Parliament assembles this will be one of the matters that will have to be looked at. {: .page-start } page 2032 {:#debate-47} ### ATOMIC ENERGY COMMISSION {: #debate-47-s0 .speaker-KDT} ##### Mr FAIRBAIRN:
Minister for National Development · Farrer · LP -- Pursuant to section 31 of the Atomic Energy Act 1953-1966 I present the Seventeenth Annual Report of the Atomic Energy Commission for the year ended 30th June 1969 together with financial statements and the Auditor-General's report on those statements. Ordered that the report be printed. {: .page-start } page 2032 {:#debate-48} ### COMMONWEALTH POLICE INVESTIGATION {: #debate-48-s0 .speaker-JRN} ##### Mr BOWEN:
AttorneyGeneral · Parramatta · LP -- by leave - Last night during the debate on the adjournment the right honourable member for Melbourne **(Mr Calwell)** made some allegations against the Commonwealth Police and certain derogatory remarks about me and my Department for alleged failure to deal with some representations of his. I think I should set the record straight. The right honourable member at the beginning of his speech said: >Let me say that I have written about eight letters to the Attorney-General **(Mr Bowen)** but I have never received an answer to one of them. I have not even received an acknowledgment. According to my file I have received one letter from the right honourable member, not eight. This letter was dated 15th October 1968 and it referred to an earlier letter dated 5th September 1968 which I had not received. I subsequently got a copy of the earlier one. These letters concerned allegations made by **Mr Robert** A. Patterson against the Commonwealth Police regarding their treatment of his wife when interrogating her about some missing drugs. It appears that I wrote three letters to the right honourable member. One was dated 24th February 1969 and might be described as a holding letter. Another was dated 13th May 1969 and it pointed out that I had been awaiting consideration of any facts that might be disclosed by a coronial inquiry into the circumstances of **Mrs Patterson's** death. This inquiry was held on 12th May 1969. I wrote again to the right honourable member in a letter dated 2nd July 1969. This last letter was written after I had made inquiries into the allegations made against the Police and it set out the results of those inquiries. Without troubling the House with the details I seek leave to have a copy of my letter of 2nd July 1969incorporated in Hansard. {: #debate-48-s1 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. {: .speaker-JRN} ##### Mr BOWEN: -- The letter is as follows: 2nd July 1969. Dear **Mr Calwell,** I refer to my letter of 13 May 1969 concerning representations you made on behalf of the late **Mrs J.** P. Patterson of 17 Holmwood Avenue, Brighton, Victoria. **Mr R.** A. Patterson, the husband of the late **Mrs Patterson,** in his letter to you made many allegations against members of the Commonwealth Police Force. I have examined each of these allegations in detail and my enquiries into this matter lead me firmly to the conclusion that there was no harsh treatment of **Mrs Patterson** by any member of the Commonwealth Police Force. I will deal now with some of the allegations contained in **Mr Patterson's** letter. **Mr Patterson** claims that his wife was questioned by the Commonwealth Police for approximately four and a half hours. He states that during this period 'she was not allowed to see a lawyer, nor was she permitted to speak to her father, who works in the same building, nor was she allowed to make a 'phone call. When she attempted to leave, Officer Fox. who is approximately 6' 6" and weighs 14 stone, pushed her into a chair.' He also states that during the period of questioning she was not allowed to have lunch, drink a cup of tea, nor allowed to go to the toilet'. I am informed that the interview with **Mrs Patterson** was estimated to have taken from one to one and a half hours. Immediately after **Mrs Patterson** was advised of the reason for the interview, she was formally cautioned and it was then suggested to her that she could have her father present at the interview. However, she declined stating in effect that it was none of his business At no stage did she request to see a lawyer or request to make a 'phone call or request to have lunch or request a drink of any kind or request to go to the toilet. There was no physical contact between **Mrs Patterson** and the Police officers nor was she threatened physically or verbally.I would mention here that the door of the room where the interview was conducted was not closed at any time and the medical staff of the casualty section of the Government Aircraft Factory attended to their normal work in the adjoining rooms. **Mr Patterson** states that an officer of the Commonwealth Police Force drew **Mrs Patterson's** attention to an entry in the Drug Register. From information before me it was **Mrs Patterson** who, during the course of the interview, admitted that she had made false entries and indicated the particular entries to the Commonwealth Police Officers. She stated that the reason for the false entries was to cover up for some other person. **Mr Patterson** claims that Sergeant Fox of the Commonwealth Police when leaving after having taken **Mrs Patterson** to her home promised that no further action would be taken. This is not so. From reports I have obtained, Sergeant Fox in the presence of **Mrs Patterson's** mother said that the matter would be reported to higher authorities who would decide on what further action should be taken. **Mr Patterson** maintains that his wife was never allowed to see evidence against her. I am informed that **Mrs Patterson's** solicitors were afforded an opportunity to inspect all the relevant documents and in fact took copies of various documents. **Mr Patterson** states that 'it was intimated that the police had had my wife and myself followed and that we were suspected of attempting to leave the country'. Neither **Mr Patterson** nor his wife were followed at any time by any members of the Commonwealth Police Force. In the light of the matters to which I have referred above, I must refute **Mr Patterson's** suggestion that his wife had been the subject of police persecution'. I should perhaps add that, apart from specific matters raised, **Mr Patterson** offers some general criticism of the administration of justice in this country. Owing to the untimely death of his wife, before the case could come to trial, **Mr Patterson** may not himself have observed the manner in which a criminal trial is conducted in Australia. However, at the committal proceedings, Sergeant Fox gave evidence and was subject to crossexamination and matters of the kind raised in **Mr Patterson's** letter could have been brought to the attention of the Court, had **Mrs Patterson's** counsel thought it appropriate to do so. As mentioned in my earlier letter, an inquest was held by the coroner on 12 May 1969 and an open finding has been returned which does not of itself throw light upon the matters raised in the letter, except that, I understand that **Mr Patterson** did say at the inquest that his wife was not depressed by her impending trial. I do not think that there is any other useful comment or inquiry I can make concerning this matter. Yours sincerely, (Sgd) NIGEL BOWEN (NIGEL BOWEN) The Right Honourable A. A. Calwell, M.P., Commonwealth Parliament Offices, Box1692P, P.O., MELBOURNE, VIC. 3001. As appears from that letter my inquiries led me to the conclusion that the allegations against the Police were unfounded. It is surprising to find the right honourable gentleman in the face of what I wrote to him answering the allegations, repeating them in this House in the terms in which he did last night. It is unfortunate that **Mrs Patterson** died and one cannot but feel sympathy for **Mr Patterson.** I can understand the concern of the right honourable member, but at the same time I must reject his attack upon the Police and upon my Department as being completely unwarranted. {: #debate-48-s2 .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr CALWELL:
Melbourne -- by leave - I first took this matter up with the Attorney-General **(Mr Bowen)** when I wrote to him on 5th September 1968. He acknowledged that I have written to him about this matter, but he said that he did not receive my letter of 5th September. What I said to him on 5th September is as follows: >On the 8th August last I wrote to the Minister for Health and forwarded him a document concerning an alleged miscarriage of justice committed by members of the Commonwealth Police Force against **Mrs Jacqueline** Patricia Patterson, of 17 Holmwood Avenue, Brighton, Victoria, who was employed by the Department of Health. It was suggested that I write to the Attorney-General about this matter because it was a matter for him and not for the Department of Health. My letter continues: >I would like to state that **Mrs Patterson** died on August 9, but **Mr Patterson** has asked me to proceed with my inquiries. > >Details of the matter are set out in the attached letter. I should be glad if you would have the complaints investigated and advise me of the outcome in due course. Would you please return the enclosure with your reply. The Attorney-General said that he did not receive that letter. I wrote him three more letters. On 12th December, to bring the story up to this point, I said: >On September 5 last I wrote you concerning allegations against certain members of the Commonwealth Police Force in the case of **Mrs Jacqueline** Patricia Patterson of 17 Holmwood Avenue, Brighton, Victoria. Not having received even an acknowledgment of the receipt of that letter, I wrote to him again on 15th October, and receipt of this letter has not been acknowledged either. My letter of 12th December goes on: >On November 12, I wrote you again and, for the third time, asked for an investigation into the treatment of this unfortunate woman. Once again, I was ignored. > >I have never before been ignored in such a fashion in any of my dealings with a Minister in any government, and I can only conclude, knowing you as I do, that it is not your fault, but that of somebody in the Attorney-General's Department, who is determined to prevent me getting any answer to my inquiries. > >I now ask for your intervention so that your officers will supply you with the information I wish to have about this unusual case and, in particular, for the reasons, if any, why there was a delay of 2 years or more before it was decided to prosecute the late **Mrs Patterson.** {: .speaker-JRN} ##### Mr Bowen: -- Was that letter written to me? {: .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr CALWELL: -- Yes. {: .speaker-JRN} ##### Mr Bowen: -- What is the date of it? {: .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr CALWELL: -- 12th December 1968. Something has gone wrong with the Post Office. {: .speaker-4U4} ##### Mr Killen: -- That may well be. {: .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr CALWELL: -- The honourable member who has interjected should be in his place. I wrote these letters. The letter continues: >Answers to the following questions are requested, because it is now 18 weeks since **Mrs Patterson** died: > >Why was the family not allowed to see the evidence that was to have been adduced against **Mrs Patterson;** the family solicitor was allowed to see only part of the evidence. > >The evidence sought after was the day book - it has never yet been produced. > >Five days after **Mrs Patterson** died the Commonwealth Police visited Melbourne Morgue; Why? > >Did they discuss the case with the coronial authorities? > >The drug book was signed by a doctor and he was never questioned; why? > >I understand that, under the law, a doctor who signs the drug book accepts responsibility for the distribution of drugs. > >I am also advised that the Commonwealth Policeman and the guard on duty are the only two persons who have the key to the casualty ward at the Government Aircraft Factory at Fishermen's Bend. I did not get any reply to any of my letters until I spoke to the Attorney-General's private secretary, who was helpful, and who told me in a note dated 24th February of this year - 6 months after I first made an inquiry and to which I had received no answer: >A reply has been drafted for the AttorneyGeneral's signature in this matter. As soon as it has been signed, it will be hand-delivered to your office in Parliament House. I have no objection to handing over my file of correspondence to the AttorneyGeneral so that he may view it. He will see that, according to my file, I did write four letters to him. He replied to my second letter. Tonight the Attorney-General said that he did receive a letter from me dated 15th October 1968 and referred to an earlier letter dated 5th September 1968 which he had not received. But in my letter of 15th October, 1 mentioned the letter of 5th September. When the Attorney-General received my second letter, I think that he could have asked me for a copy of my earlier letter. {: .speaker-JRN} ##### Mr Bowen: -- 1 did. The right honourable gentleman gave me one. 1 mentioned it in my statement. {: .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr CALWELL: -- The Minister did. But he made no reference to the fact that I wrote a letter on 5th September and that he had not received that letter. I did not see that in any of his replies. {: .speaker-JRN} ##### Mr Bowen: -- lt is in my statement. {: .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr CALWELL: -- Yes, it is in the statement made tonight, but not in any letter that the Attorney-General gave to me when he commenced to acknowledge receipt of my letter. The first acknowledgment that 1 received of my letters was dated 24th February 1969. I said that 1 had not received an acknowledgment. I was wrong. I received the letter of 24th February which the Attorney-General tonight has properly described as being merely a delaying or a holding letter. The Attorney-General said in that letter: 1 am sorry that my inquiries have not yet been completed. However, I expect to be in a position to let you have a reply in the near future. Matters proceeded for some time. As the Attorney-General has said, the next letter that I received was written on 13th May. There was a delay of 3 months or 4 months there. He told me about the coronial inquiry which had been ordered. He admitted that the coronial inquiry should have been held a long time before the date on which he wrote. He said that he would let me have his comments on the matter as soon as possible. Well, 'as soon as possible' did not arrive until 2nd July. Then, I did receive a long letter from him. It was because of the contents of that letter that I decided to seek an opportunity last night to make my comments on the AttorneyGeneral's view in regard to the conduct of the Commonwealth Police. The Attorney-General says that he is satisfied that the Commonwealth Police acted cor rectly. The husband and the mother and father of this unfortunate woman are satisfied that they did not act correctly or properly. The poor woman died. She died 2 days before she was to appear before the court. She was a very sick woman when she was in my office, the day before she died. What her family feels about it is that they were denied natural justice. They were not given access to files or documents. The family had to pay for barristers. One barrister charged $400 for a half-day appearance at Williamstown court. Another barrister charged $200 for an appearance before the coroner. There is no compensation for the family at all. It just must submit to all this. It has not yet had the satisfaction of knowing just why the Commonwealth Police, who instituted their inquiries in 1966, decided to postpone any further action until some time in 1968. The case was investigated in 1966 yet this prosecution apparatus was set in motion 2 years later. In the meantime, a number of people had moved from their positions. It was not easy for this woman who was a very sick woman to obtain evidence to prepare for her defence. I think that the Commonwealth Police committed a grave act of injustice in delaying prosecution for 2 years. Justice delayed is justice denied, and the Attorney-General did not deal wilh that aspect of the case. I suppose that the Commonwealth Police did not give any explanation at any stage either to the Attorney-General or to his officers concerning the matter. I am satisfied in my own heart that, if the Department of Health had handled this case which revolved around the stealing of some phials of morphine worth about 30c, it would not have persecuted and prosecuted this unfortunate woman. It wanted her to admit that she was taking the drug for somebody else. As I said in the letter that I wrote to the Attorney-General, only two people had keys to the casualty ward. They were Commonwealth policemen. The only person who could si.en the drug book was a qualified medical officer. All signatures in the books were in order. I think that the Commonwealth Police acted in a flatfooted way, as I said last night. This husband has been bereaved of his wife. These parents have been bereaved of a daughter. The coroner returned an open verdict. On the table where this poor woman died was found a thermometer which showed a reading of 108 degrees. Of course, she collapsed and died. I have done my duty by these people. I have never said at any stage anything harsh about the Attorney-General himself except that I did not get answers to letters that I wrote to him - letters to which I think I was entitled to replies. **Mr** BOWEN (Parramatta- AttorneyGeneral) - by leave - Briefly, **Mr Deputy Speaker,** I wish to assure the right honourable member for Melbourne **(Mr Calwell)** that there would never be any conscious discourtesy on my part in reply to his correspondence. {: .speaker-BV8} ##### Mr Calwell: -- I said that. {: .speaker-JRN} ##### Mr BOWEN: -- If the right honourable member cares to let me have copies of the letters which appear not to have been received by me, particularly the one dated 12th December, I will see whether I can track down what happened and communicate with him. As far as the actual merits of the case are concerned, the fact is that on 2nd July 1969 the right honourable gentleman did have a detailed reply dealing with the various allegations. This letter was written only after I had given careful consideration not only to police evidence but also to other evidence and had arrived at my conclusions. Those were that the allegations, which I know the right honourable gentleman has had put before him and no doubt believes in, in fact were not warranted. {: .page-start } page 2036 {:#debate-49} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-49-0} #### ALLEGATIONS REGARDING YUENDUMU, NORTHERN TERRITORY Ministerial Statement {: #subdebate-49-0-s0 .speaker-JR9} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Bosman: -- Is leave granted? {: .speaker-KUX} ##### Mr Stewart: -- **Mr Deputy Speaker,** I seek an assurance from the Minister for the Interior before leave is granted. The Minister has been good enough to give me a copy of his statement. It concerns allegations made in the Senate. I feel that the senator who made those allegations should have the opportunity to answer the Minis ter's statement. May I have an assurance that this statement will be made in the Senate as well? {: .speaker-009OD} ##### Mr Nixon: -- Yes. The Minister for Customs and Excise **(Senator Scott),** who represents me in the other place, has copies of this statement. He may have delivered it in the other place already. {: .speaker-KUX} ##### Mr Stewart: -- Very well. {: #subdebate-49-0-s1 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER: -- There being no objection, leave is granted. {: #subdebate-49-0-s2 .speaker-009OD} ##### Mr NIXON:
Minister for the Interior · Gippsland · CP -- Last Tuesday, in another place, **Senator Cavanagh** called for an inquiry into allegations made by a **Mr Nichols** about an incident claimed to have occurred at Yuendumu Welfare Settlement in the Northern Territory. **Senator Cavanagh** stated that **Mr Nichols** had alleged to him that six Aboriginal males living at the settlement were directed, with the approval of the superintendent of the settlement, to round up three girls, and, as punishment for an offence, take them out to the bush to be continually raped. The Administrator of the Northern Territory has now reported to me the result of inquiries made at my request. The Administrator states: >Inquiries amongst officers of the Administration in Darwin and Alice Springs and at Yuendumu who could be expected to have heard of such an incident disclosed that none has ever before heard any mention of the alleged occurrences. > >The Aboriginal Council at Yuendumu, including two women councillors, was interviewed this morning by a senior Administration officer. The Council denied the allegations. They commented that the practice of rape as a punishment for offences against rituals had been known in other tribes; such a practice would be offensive to the Wailbri people at Yuendumu. The Council recalls that about 2 years ago three girls were removed from Yuendumu settlement to Mount Hardy for a month by a near relative following repeated promiscuity with youths, but this of course has nothing to do with the present allegations. > >Regarding the allegation that girls had been rounded up with a landrover and one was driven up from the camp like an animal, the Council said that this had not taken place. They were reported to be amused at the suggestion of a round-up of people in the way cattle are mustered. > >The Reverend **Mr Fleming,** a Minister of the Baptist Church who has lived at Yuendumu for about 20 years, said that he had no knowledge of the alleged raping. **Mr Fleming** is a person whom the Aborigines respect and if an incident of this nature had taken place he certainly would have heard of it. > >The officer who was superintendent of the settlement at the time **Mr Nichols** was employed there as a mechanic says that in ali cases where young people *were* causing trouble he encouraged the parents to exercise discipline and on occasions when the parents were disinterested he had put the problem to the Council. > >In some instances, it had been necessary for him to promote action but this was always done in consultation with the Council. In the light of the Administrator's report, I consider that a public inquiry is not warranted. In reaching this conclusion, 1 have carefully considered what **Senator Cavanagh** had to say and especially his statement that **Mr Nichols** who made the allegations had established some bona fides. **Mr Nichols** left Yuendumu settlement on 3rd February 1969, after having been dismissed from the Commonwealth Public Service because he had refused a transfer from Yuendumu to Darwin. On 19th May 1968 I myself had seen **Mr Nichols** at his request at Orbost. At that time he was protesting against the transfer. He made allegations of some irregularities at the settlement which were inquired into. In August 1968 he visited **Mr Orr,** MLC, at that time a member of the Northern Territory Legislative Council for Alice Springs. As well as raising the issue of his transfer, he made further allegations of irregularities at the settlement which were also investigated. On 29th April 1969 **Senator Cavanagh** asked questions on notice in the Senate based on allegations by **Mr Nichols** that ten young Aboriginal girls at Yuendumu were forced as punishment to pick up stones and pluck a lawn. **Senator Cavanagh** now reports **Mr Nichols** as having written that most of the staff at the settlement were, like **Mr and Mrs Nichols,** appalled by the alleged raping incident but had refrained from complaining because they would jeopardise their positions. I personally do not believe that this would be the attitude of the staff at Yuendumu settlement or any other welfare settlement if such an incident had occurred. But aside from this, it seems inconceivable that **Mr Nichols** was prepared to report other less serious allegations but made no mention of this most serious charge until now. Even if he had felt some restraint while still a member of the Commonwealth Public Service; - though this did not restrain him from bringing forward the other less serious allegations - there can have been no possible restraint on him since he left Yuendumu over seven months ago after his dismissal. I also place reliance on the statement the Reverend **Mr Fleming** has made. If any incident as alleged had occurred **Mr Fleming** would have known of it. He would certainly not have condoned such conduct and would, I am sure, have reported it immediately. {: .page-start } page 2037 {:#debate-50} ### STATES GRANTS (INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS) BELL 1969 Bill returned from the Senate without amendment. {: .page-start } page 2037 {:#debate-51} ### ADJOURNMENT Election Campaign Advertising - Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority - Television - Aboriginals - Ho rues for the Aged - Dartmouth Dam Motion (by **Mr Erwin)** proposed: >That the House do now adjourn. {: #debate-51-s0 .speaker-K5L} ##### Mr COPE:
Watson -- I should like to refer to an article which appears in today's issue of the Sydney 'Sun' under the heading 'ALP Poster "A Trick"' written by journalist Vince Kelly. The article states: >The two leaders of the opposing forces in the City Council elections clashed sharply today on campaigning practices. > >Civic Reform Leader **Dr L.** E. McDermott said ALP posters, 'rushed up' in Fitzroy Ward, were blatantly misleading. > >He said, The posters are an appeal to the residents to vote Labor and remind them that voting is compulsory in the Sydney electorate. > >This is a trick to confuse them with the Federal elections. > >Voting is compulsory in those elections next month, but is not compulsory in the city elections.' > >ALP leader **Mr John** Armstrong said, **'Dr McDermott** didn't read the posters properly. > >They clearly refer to the Federal election campaign for the new Sydney electorate, where Labor's candidate, **Mr Jim** Cope, is organising That statement by the ALP leader, a former Minister of the Crown, **Senator and** Lord Mayor of Sydney, John Armstrong, is correct. Who is this **Dr McDermott?** Does he think that City Council election propaganda or advertising takes precedence over the Federal election? The Council election is to be held next Saturday 25th September. Am I supposed to wait until after that election before I commence my own campaign as the endorsed candidate for the Sydney electorate in the election 4 weeks later. Am I supposed to sit idly by and let the electors of Sydney be confused with the voting systems of local government and Commonwealth elections? 1 put it to you, **Mr Deputy Speaker,** and to all honourable members that most members of this House have already begun advertising in their respective campaigns, yet this **Dr McDermott,** a complete stranger and nonentity to me, expects me to wait until after next Saturday despite the fact that my Liberal opponent in Sydney has been advertising for several weeks. It must be obvious that **Dr McDermott's** moans and groans are a blatant attempt to confuse the electors of Sydney to the detriment of my campaign and for the benefit of my Liberal opponent. I believe this **Dr McDermott** is a very - I was about to say something unparliamentary, but I have changed my mind. I think he has a dashed hide, if I may put it that way. I venture to suggest that you, **Mr Deputy Speaker,** have been advertising in your campaign now for several weeks, as have other honourable members in this place. Yet this gentleman wants me to restrict my advertising campaign until after next Saturday despite the fact that my Liberal opponent in Sydney has been advertising for several weeks. Who in his wildest imagining could think that a City Council election in Sydney could take precedence over a Federal election. This **Dr McDermott** is a complete stranger to me and I should like it made known to him that under no circumstances will he by his moans and groans restrict my advertising campaign in that electorate. {: #debate-51-s1 .speaker-JVO} ##### Mr MUNRO:
Monaro · Eden -- I would like to have noted in Hansard that in a speech I made on the motion for the adjournment of the House of 28th and 29th August 1969 - the speech began at midnight on the 28th - relating to the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority I gave some staff figures for the year ended 30th June 1969. There was a mistake in the table which was incorporated in Hansard at page 909. I think it is apparent from the text of my speech that the figure should have been 123 and not, as set out in that table, 23. With the concurrence of honourable members *I* incorporate in Hansard a corrected table giving the staff numbers at the beginning and end of the year ended June 1969. I would like to take this opportunity to correct briefly a mistaken idea that has grown up when comparisons are made of the staff of the Snowy Mountains Council, the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority and the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation which will be established in Cooma following a decision made by the Government. It has been common knowledge for quite a long time that the number of people to be employed by the Snowy Mountains Council will be about 400. The latest figure given by the Minister for National Development **(Mr Fairbairn)** is 430. About 100 of these will be in Cooma and about 300 will be on the mountain running the scheme. They cannot run it by remote control; they operate it from various places on the mountain where the scheme is. The minimum figure set by the Government for the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation is 250. Some people have tried, for various reasons, to interpret this as the maximum figure. I stress that is the minimum figure. Judging by the amount of work that is in the pipeline - this is shown on the list I incorporated in Hansard on 28th August - it is very unlikely that the figure will be as low as 250 when the Corporation starts to take over as an entity from the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. With the work that is already on the books, the work that is in the pipeline and the work that can reasonably be expected to come in, I do not think it is going too far to say in general terms that the Corporation will be involved in the equivalent of another Snowy Mountains scheme. Another very important aspect from the point of view of Cooma has been misunderstood. Some people have implied, without being game enough to say so directly, that the difference between Labor's proposal for a gigantic construction organisation taking over from the existing construction organisations and from State Departments of Works and Conservation and the Liberal proposal for a corporation that will design, prepare contracts and supervise the work would mean some hundreds of employees, who would be stationed at Cooma. The position should be clearly understood. Although it sounds obvious, it has not been clearly understood that construction workers, from the people who operate shovels or bulldozers to the engineers, the administrative staff and foremen, are on the job. They are where the dam is being built. Dams are not prefabricated and then trucked to northern Australia or other parts. They are built on the site and the people building them will be on the construction site. Let us look at the number of people who would be employed at the headquarters in Cooma under Labor's proposed day labour force, if this proposal called for the employment of the same number of people as the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority has been employing on construction work throughout Australia or anywhere else - this has varied between 1,400 and 2,000 men and the turnover has been about 200% per annum - an additional 10 or 15 people would be employed in an administrative section at Cooma. The difference in the number of people at the headquarters in Cooma would be 10 to 15 and not the hundreds or the mythical thousands that have been hinted at by Opposition members, I suppose for political reasons. The Government's decision is a very good one. The Corporation will be able to carry out all the tasks that were performed by the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority in the past. With the help of the State Departments of Public Works and local government authorities, it will be able to do the minor ancillary works, the road- works and so on that are associated with major civil engineering tasks. So the people involved will still be employed on the job. The amounts allocated for water conservation and allied civil engineering works in State budgets are not decreasing. The Commonwealth's allocation for this purpose is not decreasing. Indeed, the contrary is true. The State budgets are remaining constant or are increasing and, as we saw in the Budget that was introduced recently, the Commonwealth's allocation for this work is increasing. There is no doubt that people will be employed on these works. The Corporation will be able to retain the brilliant skills that have been developed within the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. This augurs well for the future of the team and for the future of works of this nature throughout Australia. Opposition propagandists have confused another matter. The Corporation has been identified with the body that will be advising the Minister. This is sheer nonsense. I point out that as an advisory body it would bc in no way unique or unusual. Many government departments have boards on which industries are represented and they advise the Government. This provides a two-way dialogue from which both sides can profit. This activity will in no way place the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation at the beck and call of the advisory body. It will simply advise the Minister. I think I have said everything that I wanted to say to clarify the situation. However, I should point out to those who have not studied this matter carefully that the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority may, but not necessarily will, continue for many years after the completion of the scheme simply as a legal entity to handle receipts, unless some, other way can be found to do this through the Council. However, there may be a legal necessity for the Authority to carry on for some time. This may involve only one or two people. The Authority may continue in that sense, but the real future lies with the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation. I believe that that future will be as brilliant as the past under the Authority has been. {: #debate-51-s2 .speaker-KID} ##### Mr LUCHETTI:
Macquarie -- For some years past I have made representations to the Postmaster-General **(Mr Hulme)** asking that action be taken to provide satisfactory television reception for constituents of mine who live in the Portland and Wallerawang districts. People in this area would be about 120 miles from Sydney. Yet they have probably the worst television viewing of any community in the whole of the Commonwealth. In recent times the Postmaster-General has made statements indicating that people in remote parts of our continent will be provided with television reception. This, of course, has the approval of the Opposition and, I believe, df the Parliament generally. Surely the people who live in the distant parts of Australia are entitled to facilities and amenities in keeping with modern trends. Over the years I have pleaded the cause of the people of Portland and Wallerawang. The Minister writes courteous letters. I have spoken to him on this subject. I mentioned to him that I intended to raise it tonight. I am gravely concerned with the failure of his Department to act. After representations have been made I have been assured that the Department appreciates the problem and will do something about it. But days have passed into months and even years and still my constituents are denied a service which is rightly theirs. They pay their taxes to the Commonwealth of Australia. They pay their licence fees. Still they are not able to enjoy satisfactory viewing. They are entitled to acceptable reception. No great technical problems are involved. If the Department were to accept its responsibility and erect a translator station in a suitable position on one of the hills overlooking the region the people would be able to receive satisfactory television. My representations to the Minister have not come from obscure people. They have come from the local government authority in the area - the Blaxland Shire Council - from the Returned Services League and from numerous citizens. The letters which I have forwarded to the Minister have emphasized the problem confronting the community and have pleaded for action. Notwithstanding these pleas, the Minister has not taken positive action to provide my constituents with the type of reception to which they are entitled. I will read a letter from one of my constituents which in many ways feelingly, tellingly and concisely sums up the position. It reads: > **Mr Luchetti,** 1 am once more inquiring for any results to the request for an improvement to TV reception in the Portland-Wallerawang areas. This area would have a population of about 5.000 people. The letter continues: >The only reply seems to be the same as that of the Postmaster-General, **Mr Hulme,** on 24th July 1967, slating that Portland has an unsatisfactory TV service, but that other areas arc in the same state. This I do not doubt, but that fact docs not make TV viewing any better for us. > >Two years have passed since an admission tha our service is inadequate, and the only movement as far as 1 can ascertain is that three technicians from the ABC Board took tests at Portland some eight months ago. Surely some information is available after that time in this age of computers. > >There has been much talk of colour TV being introduced in the near future. Would it not be a good idea to give everyone good black and white TV first? We in Portland have no desire lo watch snow in technicolour. > > **Mr Hulme** states that areas with greater population than Portland are receiving bad reception. One area of the same or lesser population than Portland-Wallerawang has had .a translator operating for some time and this same place - Kandos - enjoyed far better reception prior to the translator installation than Portland ever had. > >We pay our TV licences at the same rate as all others in the State or Commonwealth so is it too much to ask for reasonable service? If the Postmaster-General will not or cannot give an answer through the usual channels will you raise the matter in Parliament and so draw attention to the plight of the populations in the areas badly served - not only our own area? > >Look at country residents and see the reason for population crowding into a handful of cities - fi) Lack of amenities - TV is one. > >High telephone charges - Portland to Sydney 40c for three minutes. > >C3") Transport costs, rail and road. > >Boarding school fees for better education, etc. 1 hope you can do some good in this matter but 1 fear there are not enough voters to influence those whose only interest is to hold their seats in Parliament instead of doing the job for which they were elected - that is, do the right thing for everyone. Once again thanking you for all you have tried to do. > >Yours faithfully, {: .page-start } page 2040 {:#debate-52} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-52-0} #### JOHN LYONS That letter clearly demonstrates the anguish, annoyance and disgust of people who have been treated shamefully over the years. Although the Postmaster-General is not in the chamber tonight I hope that my remarks will be brought to his attention and that he will act to rectify the situation and provide the type of reception required by the people in this important area of New South Wales. These people are engaged in important work for the nation. They produce cement. They are engaged in rural industries, in mining and in other occupations, tertiary and otherwise. The plea I have read tonight is a telling one. All I can do is trust that the Minister will call upon his departmental officers to take immediate action to correct without further delay the injustice which has been perpetrated on my constituents. {: #subdebate-52-0-s0 .speaker-KKD} ##### Mr JESSOP:
Grey -- In July this year I invited the Minister for Social Services and Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs **(Mr Wentworth)** to accompany me through my electorate to visit the Aboriginal reserves and missions. We visited the Davenport Reserve at Port Augusta and inspected the homes for the aged in that place. They were equal to any that 1 have seen in other parts of my electorate or even in other parts of Australia. We also examined five sophisticated dwellings that have been provided with Commonwealth finance for Aboriginal families. We discussed plans that have been made for the building of a hostel for Aboriginal people of the area requiring medical treatment. From Port Augusta we proceeded to the Ernabella mission where we were interested in the work being carried out by mission personnel in encouraging Aboriginal people in handicraft work which is of a standard that anybody in Australia would be proud of. During our stay in the area the Minister and I were impressed with the work of Miss Hillyard in encouraging the Aboriginal people to further their interest in art work. We were very impressed with their efforts in Aboriginal design and suggested that this could be further encouraged by the implementation of a silk screening process which would entail the construction of a building to house the facility. I am anxious to know whether the Minister has given further thought to this suggestion. I would like to know whether he intends to make Commonwealth finance available to enable such a building to be constructed in the area for the benefit of the Aboriginal people. From Ernabella we proceeded to Amata reserve where problems were discussed with the Aboriginal people in the area. In fact, we sat around the camp fire and discussed the mining of chrysoprase in the area. There was some concern expressed that the work being done might be unproductive. The Minister and I were concerned to see that the Aboriginal people obtained advice as to the extent of the deposits of chrysoprase in the area. I would like to know whether the Minister has made any arrangements to assist these people further to exploit the deposits of chrysoprase. We discussed with the Minister the provision of a handicraft building to assist the Aboriginal people in their work. The provision of adequate supplies of bore water was also discussed. A cattle industry is being developed in the area. This will be of great economic value to the Aboriginal people. One of the main concerns, of course, is the lack of water. They have done a lot of work in boring for water in that area. However we did discuss the question of Commonwealth assistance or government assistance in this regard. I would like to know whether the Minister has given further consideration to this matter. The Aboriginal people have something like 1,000 cattle grazing in that particular area of South Australia. This also applies to the area of Ernabella where I think they have something like 1,500 cattle. So, this represents an area of development in which the Commonwealth should take an aggressive interest. The Aboriginal people also asked that we assist them in the provision of further amenities to attract Aboriginal people to that area from surrounding districts. I think the Minister displayed a particular interest in these matters. I would like to know whether he can tell me of any other suggestions that he has that could further the interests of Aboriginal people in the Ernabella and Amata areas in particular. We then proceeded to the southern part of my electorate which is in the vicinity of Streaky Bay. In that area there is an Aboriginal reserve which is famous for the production of artefacts. In this area the people have developed an industry which has become rather famous in South Australia. They produce boomerangs and so on and I think the products compare with any other in Australia. The people are selling these products rather cheaply. In fact, I think they are being sold too cheaply. Whilst we were in this area we discussed ways and means by which the sale of the artefacts could be increased. One proposition we discussed was the establishment of a kiosk and garage on the east-west highway by which tourists could be attracted to stop and view the products and increase the sales in that area. I think the price of the products could be increased. This would be to the benefit of the Aboriginal people in that area. The Minister had some very constructive thoughts when he conferred with the Aboriginal people there and I want to know whether he has given further consideration to these matters. Another thing which impressed me was the fact that the Minister was interested in encouraging the sale of these products overseas. One thing that impressed me greatly was the Minister's suggestion that he was prepared to give thought to the encouragement of an outlet in America for the sale of the products. Americans are very keen on buying Aboriginal artefacts. They like the genuine article. I believe that the articles from the Yalata Mission would be the ideal product to sell to Americans in that country. The Minister suggested that perhaps we could establish a kiosk or some such avenue for the sale of these products in America. I would like to know whether he has any plans in that respect. I was very impressed with the way he approached the problems of the people in my area, but I am anxious to know whether he has any further information to give me on this question. {: #subdebate-52-0-s1 .speaker-KEC} ##### Mr KENNEDY:
BENDIGO, VICTORIA · ALP -- I would like to make some reference to the needs of the aged ill in my electorate of Bendigo and in passing make some comments on relationships between the State and the Commonwealth. The first thing I would like to stress is the great need there is in my electorate for extra facilities and extra accommodation in homes and hospital for the aged. Victoria is facing a tremendous problem in catering for the needs of the aged ill. I would like to show some figures to point this out. In June 1967 there were 3,000 aged ill persons on the waiting lists of these institutions in Victoria. In June 1968 the number had risen to 4,649. This year there are 5,200 on the waiting lists for positions in these homes and hospitals. By 1971 there could be 7.000 people on the waiting lists. We cannot be certain what the figures will be. However, they certainly will increase because the pattern overall in Victoria has been an increase of 300% since 1960 in the waiting lists and an increase in the number of beds available of only 5%. It is obvious that if we are to cater for this increasing demand and provide the hospital and home facilities that our aged must get, there will have to be a massive boosting of expenditure. Unless the Commonwealth is willing to involve itself on a far larger scale this demand will be impossible to meet. I would like to deal briefly with Seymour. Seymour docs not have a home and hospital for the aged, yet it is one of the major centres in my electorate. It does not have a geriatric wing at -the hospital itself. There is little provision for the aged ill in Seymour. The Karingal hostel does a good job but does not provide for the aged ill. Their alternative - to occupy beds in a hospital which, by its nature, provides a different kind of care. Another alternative is for people to go long distances to Bendigo or Melbourne. They could also stay at home, where they may be helpless or dependent on relatives. If they are wealthy enough they can pay the high costs of care in a private nursing home. This situation is not good enough. I would like to refer briefly to Castlemaine. Castlemaine is a good deal better off than Seymour in facilities for the aged infirm and semi-infirm. The Castlemaine Home and Hospital for the Aged is well loved in Castlemaine. In fact it is personified in the words of most Castlemaine people as 'Alexander'. 'Alexander' along with the Bendigo Home and Hospital is among the best in Victoria. Indeed, there is a friendly rivalry between the two. Alexander' is the very pride of the people of Castlemaine. It is also one of Castle.maine's greatest industries. There is a spirit of good feeling in the hospital and home, which must contrast strongly with the sense of despair among old people who are left to their own devices in the last years of sickness and infirmity. I had the good fortune to be shown over 'Alexander' in May and on Monday to visit it with the Minister for Social Services. But Castlemaine has its problems. The population of 'Alexander' is some 324, yet its waiting list is now near the 200 mark. This will increase in the coming years. It must not only improve the accommodation available, because there is some overcrowding; it needs buildings for extra accommodation. Currently, it has admirable plans for a farm project nearby to provide for 50 people. This is an exciting project. But it also has plans, which are now about 4 years old, to build a new north wing possibly costing between $800,000 and Sim. This new wing would accommodate about 100 patients. The State Government refuses, or is unable, to stand by its obligations to Alexander* to provide the finances necessary for this new wing. 'Alexander' is the victim of the tight State Treasury that results from the stinginess of the Commonwealth towards Victoria and other States. Even if the Commonwealth gave assistance under the Aged Persons Homes Act for building this new wing this assistance would only provide for two-thirds of the cost. I believe that Alexander' would not be allowed to raise the extra one-third from the Victorian Hospitals and Charities Commission. 'Alexander' itself must raise the amount outstanding. This is an impossible task. Finally, I would like to refer to the position of the Bendigo Home and Hospital for the Aged. In many ways Bendigo faces the same problems as 'Alexander'. Here again we have a large home and hospital for the aged. Its facilities are very good. Again it shares with 'Alexander' the distinction of being among the best in Victoria. The people who administer the Bendigo Home and Hospital want it to provide all that is necessary for the aged ill of the Bendigo area. It is a large home and hospital. At present its population is about 360. It does a magnificent job for these people. I would just like to mention, for one thing, its delightful rehabilitation and occupational therapy facilities for day patients. The accommodation facilities are modern, airy and bright. It also has a resident psychiatrist, which is of great advantage. However, it also has a large waiting list. At 30th June this year there were approximately 278 people on the waiting list. For men the waiting time is IS months and for women it is 2 years. The aged ill of the Bendigo area have become the victims of the conflict between Liberal governments in Melbourne and Canberra. Despite the great demand in the Bendigo area for hospital beds I believe that the Bendigo Home and Hospital for the Aged will not be able to provide the additional accommodation it has planned until this conflict is resolved. Truly this is a tragic situation. The fault lies directly with the Victorian Government and the Commonwealth Government. Those governments have acted with incredible irresponsibility in making the aged ill the pawns in their conflict. I will give the House an example of what is happening. As far back as 1967 the people of the Bendigo area raised over §100,000 for the addition of six storeys to the day hospital. These plans have not been fulfilled and I believe they must wait upon the resolution of the breakdown between **Sir Henry** Bolte and the Commonwealth. This is an example of this breakdown: Early this year the Commonwealth offered certain assistance to the States provided that they matched the Commonwealth grants. The Victorian Government rejected the assistance on the ground that it did not have the resources to match grants made by the Commonwealth for services which, in the opinion of **Sir Henry** Bolte, were really the responsibility of the Commonwealth. For this reason - that is, the deadlock holding up plans for the additional accommodation I mentioned - I raised the question in this House. I can say with pleasure that it was the first question I raised in this House. I asked the Minister for Health **(Dr Forbes)** what the Commonwealth intended to do to break this deadlock. The Minister virtually said that there was nothing he could do. He passed the buck back to Victoria which, at present at least, also looks like doing nothing. The victims, I repeat, are the aged ill in my electorate. These are the people who have made the cities and towns of the Bendigo area yet this is the way in which they are being treated. They are not getting a fair go. Victoria cannot provide the moneys to cope with its massive burdens in this field. The Commonwealth should be doing more to help Victoria and should share its burdens. It should help to provide accommodation and other facilities for the aged ill. The grant offered by the Commonwealth should have been an unmatched grant. Nevertheless **Sir Henry** Bolte also has acted irresponsibly by rejecting the Commonwealth offer. 1 note that two States have now accepted some contentious offers by the Commonwealth and I am glad that this has happened. I only hope that **Sir Henry** will do the same with respect to facilities for the aged ill who are being made to suffer unnecessarily because of the intransigence of both sides in the dispute. People are being turned away from these homes and hospitals in my electorate of Bendigo. It is time that this Liberal-Country Party coalition woke up to itself and started to do something positive. {: #subdebate-52-0-s2 .speaker-KAB} ##### Mr Andrew Jones:
ADELAIDE, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP -- Tonight, the last night on which the Parliament will sit, I want to raise two matters. One of them concerns a gentleman in Victoria whom I will not name but who has a responsible position, and the other concerns the State of South Australia, which I regard as being most important. I view with some concern recent statements in the Press which would indicate that the Victorian Government is anxious to receive, and is likely to obtain, funds from the Commonwealth to build an underground railway in Melbourne. The Prime Minister **(Mr Gorton)** yesterday hit the nail on the head as far as this underground railway project is concerned and 1 think the nation should know it. I turn now to my own State of South Australia. I would like to place on record the disgust of many people in that State at the fact that politics have been brought into one of the most important issues which concern not only us as a national Government but the people as a whole, including the people of South Australia. The people in my State are very confused at the moment as to the position regarding Dartmouth Dam. I have spoken at length at times with the Minister for National Development **(Mr Fairbairn).** I know the New South Wales position in relation to this project and I know the Victorian position. I hope that in the next session of the Parliament I may know the position of the South Australian Government. The hard working Minister of Works in South Australia, John Combe, and the Premier of South Australia, the Honourable Steele Hall, have done all in their power to keep politics out of a major multi-million dollar issue which is aimed at providing water for a State which desperately needs it, in accord of course with the requirements of other States. However there is a gentleman in South Australia who finds himself on a barbed wire fence. The more he sits on it the worse off he is. {: .speaker-K8B} ##### Mr Curtin: -- I hope he does not tear his trousers. {: .speaker-KAB} ##### Mr Andrew Jones:
ADELAIDE, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP -- He already has done so. That is why he is feeling the barb in. connection with the Dartmouth project. That gentleman has been placed in a position where he has influence as to the final decision about building the Dartmouth Dam. I would like to say categorically that the people of South Australia do not regard this matter parochially. They regard themselves first and foremost as being Australians. They want water and water they must get. They are not impressed with the politics that are being played by those who, for their own political ends, are using a situation which involves many millions of dollars in order to tie up a few rural votes. On the other hand, the other gentleman - again, I do not name him but I think it is quite obvious who 1 am talking about - is trying to tie up the metropolitan voting area of Adelaide. Before leaving this Parliament tomorrow afternoon I would like to think that there are enough people here who have enough guts to go back to their own State and think about national priorities and not so much about parochial State concerns which have been whipped up by political emotionalism and jingoism. I mentioned the Leader of the Opposition in the South Australian Parliament and I mentioned, with respect, the Speaker of the House of Assembly in South Australia as being two people who have placed on record their differing views concerning this most important issue which involves three States and over 8 million people. The entire project, whether it costs S68m or Si 24m, could be scrapped on the vote of one man. This project is vital to South Australia. At the same time I compliment the Minister for National Development upon the work he has done to try to bring reason, sane argument and commonsense to bear on an issue which could have been resolved a long time ago. I am disgusted when I think of the emotionalism of party politics before the forthcoming Federal election and the jingoistic swinging of political votes because some candidates think that they can ride on the band wagon for their own political purposes. I would like to think, **Mr Speaker,** whatever be the assembly in this Parliament in the next session - I hope to see you here again next year - that representatives will be honest enough in themselves to remember that one man cannot be allowed to control the destiny of 8.5 million people. I hope they remember that those people have a right to decide their own future in their own time, in their own way, in co-operation with all the parties involved in this project. I hope that the shambles that exist in the State of South Australia do not continue although probably they will for some time to come. If party politics are carried on by the Australian Labor Party and if the Speaker of the South Australian House of Assembly intends to confuse the issue still further, 1 put it to you, **Mr Speaker,** and to this national Parliament - if for a moment we can consider ourselves as such - that a lot of people will suffer over one man's future, one man's reasoning, because he finds himself like arat in a trap. We need a dam - whether it be in South Australia, in Victoria, in New South Wales or in the Himalayas - not for what it can do but for what it will give, and it will give the States of South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales an abundance of water. All the arguments have been canvassed, the reasons have been discussed and the issues have been widely known for a long period but it is a sorry day indeed that we should sit pontificating in the national Parliament while one man who has his own interests at heart refuses to give way to common sense and sound reasoning and a leader of a political party is using the issue and ignoring the good advice of the Commonwealth Government for his own political ends. {: .speaker-KWP} ##### Mr Turnbull: -- You should name him. {: .speaker-KAB} ##### Mr Andrew Jones:
ADELAIDE, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP **- His** name is **Mr Don** Dunstan, the Leader of the Opposition in the South Australian Parlia ment. If we can come back to the Twenty-seventh Parliament, having rid ourselves of the reptilian type activities of the two men, one of whom I have named and the other I have not named, this place will be a lot better off. South Australia will have water and the national Parliament will be able to go about its business without having to worry about this issue. The nation as a whole will benefit accordingly. {: #subdebate-52-0-s3 .speaker-DB6} ##### Mr WENTWORTH:
Minister for Social Services and MinisterinCharge of Aboriginal Affairs · Mackellar · LP -- I think I should reply to some of the specific matters that were raised by the honourable member for Grey **(Mr Jessop).** It is perfectly true that some weeks ago I was able to go around part of his electorate with him - it is a very large electorate - to see something of the Aboriginal situation there. We were looking at a constructive plan of what could be done to help the Aboriginals. Any plan must command the consent of the Aboriginals themselves. I was most grateful to have the honourable member for Grey with me, for two reasons: First, I thought that his local knowledge would help me very much in my estimation of the position and, secondly, because I knew that he would be some continuing liaison officer as it were with the Aboriginals themselves and with the mission authorities. I thought that this would be most helpful. {: .speaker-KSB} ##### Mr McLeay: -- He is highly regarded. {: .speaker-DB6} ##### Mr WENTWORTH: -- He is, of course, most highly regarded. We were in South Australia and whatever is done there must be done not in any sense of opposition to the State Government but in co-operation with the State Government. We now have a concrete plan that will be worked out. It has been discussed with the South Australian authorities and it will be worked out with them as the administrating authorities. We will, of course, be providing most of the finance but no part of the plan will be implemented without the consent of the Aboriginals concerned and, indeed, without their active support. Let me first put something that I think the Aboriginals might regard as of great consequence. As the honourable member for Grey knows, when we were at Amata the Aboriginals there asked us with great concern about the protection of some of their sacred places. I undertook to do what I could and I have been in touch with the Ministers in Western Australia and South Australia because the Pitjantara people at Amata have their sacred places extending right across the border. I am happy to inform the House that I have had co-operation from both of those Ministers and it seems that within the next few weeks we will be able to announce the appointment of three people who will be acceptable to the local Aboriginals and who will go into that area to define and to find some way of protecting these sacred places. I am encouraged in this by the decision recently made by the Western Australian Government which, as honourable members will know, has decided to reserve 2 square miles around the Weebo site to give that sacred place the protection that it deserves and merits. 1 turn now to matters of more mundane material consideration. First, I refer to Davenport, the reserve near Port Augusta. Here we have a housing scheme that 1 hope to incorporate in a housing plan which 1 will be able to put before the Parliament before it rises tomorrow. At Ernabella we have decided, in co-operation with the mission authorities and on the advice of the Aboriginals, to make available a grant for the building of a handicraft workshop, particularly as a pilot project for the silk screen process for which I have great hopes. At Amata, also at the request of the local society of Aboriginals, we are going to put up a handicraft workshop. These provisions 1 am prepared to find funds for immediately. As the honourable member for Grey said, one of the problems here is a shortage of water. We have decided that we will endeavour to put a rotary drilling plant in that area to make some experimental bores but with the proviso that it will also be a training plant for the Aboriginals. If they can be successfully trained to work it, we will purchase from our capital fund a boring plant which, under Aboriginal ownership, will operate permanently in the area of the central reserves in Australia. {: .speaker-KSB} ##### Mr McLeay: -- Whose idea was that? {: .speaker-DB6} ##### Mr WENTWORTH: -- This was discussed at that time with the honourable member for Grey. He was one who suggested acting in this manner. {: .speaker-K8B} ##### Mr Curtin: -- You are giving him a good build-up. {: #subdebate-52-0-s4 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -Order! I do not think that the Minister needs the assistance of interjectors. {: .speaker-DB6} ##### Mr WENTWORTH: -- Thank you, **Mr Speaker.** I am grateful for your protection. I believe that Professor Haines is at present in the Amata area assessing the chrysoprase possibilities. He will be making a feasibility study and on the results of that study we will decide whether or not it is economic to proceed. 1 believe that the Aboriginals want this project. At both Ernabella and Amata the South Australian authorities have said that they will be glad to co-operate in the promotion of pastoral possibilities - by fencing, stocking and things of that character - especially if the underground water supplies appear to be satisfactory, as I believe they will. At Yalata we have undertaken to find $27,000 for the finance of the canteen which is being built there and which I think is nearly completed and will be opened in a few weeks time. This canteen has been financed from the local mission funds up to date. We will take over $27,000 of that finance which will free that money for use in developments in the area for the benefit of Aboriginals. I would have liked to have been able to help immediately at Yalata with the provision of a roadside motel or something of that character, but on inquiries from the South Australian authorities I found that there is a possibility that the road will be diverted. Therefore, it would be imprudent to go in for major capital expenditure at the present moment. But I am prepared to help with a temporary garage or a temporary tea room perhaps, and particularly with a handicrafts shop for the display and sale of the products of the Aboriginals at Yalata. The honourable member for Grey and I discussed this on the spot, and as he said these products are excellent and are being sold at a very cheap rate. I am also saying in principle that if a suitable proposal should be put up for an Aboriginal centre at Ceduna, which is a neighbouring town, we will give it sympathetic consideration. I understand that the Aboriginals there have got together and are planning this at the present moment but that it has not reached the stage of finality where a concrete proposal can be brought up to us. These are parts of an economic programme to make this area selfsupporting. My time is nearly up. I would have liked to have dealt with other matters. I do emphasise that we are endeavouring to do what the Aboriginals want, to involve them in this programme and to make them self supporting and able to look after themselves. I am grateful to the honourable member for Grey, who arranged my visit to this area and who was able to give me such constructive help. I am quite certain that with the continuance of that help from him we will be able to develop in this area a most satisfactory arrangement to help the Aboriginals to attain a better way of life and a better concept of looking after their own affairs. Question resolved in the affirmative. House adjourned at 11.52 p.m. {: .page-start } page 2048 {:#debate-53} ### ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS UPON NOTICE The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated: {:#subdebate-53-0} #### Snowy Mountains Authority (Question No. 1832) {: #subdebate-53-0-s0 .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr Whitlam: asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. In what States, Territories and overseas countries has the Snowy Mountains Authority carried out investigations in the last 5 years. 1. What projects has it investigated. 2. On what dates have the investigations been (a) authorised (b) commenced and (c) completed. {: #subdebate-53-0-s1 .speaker-KDT} ##### Mr Fairbairn:
LP -- The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. In the last 5 years the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority has carried out work in all States of the Commonwealth and the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. In addition work has been undertaken in Burma, Cambodia, the States of Kelantan and Sabah in Malaysia, Nepal, New Zealand, Samoa and Thailand. 1. and (3) The answers to these questions are incorporated in the following table.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 25 September 1969, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.