27th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. Sir William Aston) took the chair at 2 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr KIRWAN presented from certain citizens of Western Australia a petition showing that the recent increase in the interest rate on Government bonds has caused hardship to the thousands of home buyers throughout this State due to the subsequent increase in interest rates on mortgage contracts by home lending institutions.
The petitioners pray that the House of Representatives will give earnest consideration to this most vital matter.
Petition received and read.
Mr COLLARD presented from certain citizens of Western Australia a petition showing that the recent increase in the interest rate on Government bonds has caused hardship to the thousands of home buyers throughout this State due to the subsequent increase in interest rates on mortgage contracts by home lending institutions.
The petitioners pray that the House of Representatives will give earnest consideration to this most vital matter.
Dr KLUGMAN presented from certain citizens of New South Wales a petition showing that due to higher living cost, persons on social service pensions are finding it extremely difficult to live in even the most frugal way; the petitioners therefore call upon the Commonwealth Government to increase the base pension rate to 30% of average weekly male earnings, plus supplementary assistance in accordance with Australian Council of Trade Union’s policy and by so doing give a reasonably moderate pension; the average weekly earnings for adult male unit wage and salary earner means the figures issued from time to time by the Commonwealth Statistician and published quarterly.
The petitioners pray that the House of Representatives will take immediate steps to bring about the wishes expressed in their petition so that citizens receiving the social service pensions may live their lives in dignity.
Petition received and read.
Mr LUCHETTI presented from certain citizens of New South Wales a petition showing that due to higher living costs persons on social service pensions are finding it extremely difficult to live in even the most frugal way. The petitioners therefore call upon the Commonwealth Government to increase the base pension rate to 30% of average weekly male earnings, plus supplementary assistance in accordance with Australian Council of Trade Union’s policy and by so doing give a reasonably moderate pension.
The average weekly earnings for adult male unit wage and salary earner means the figures issued from time to time by the Commonwealth Statistician and published quarterly.
The petitioners pray that the House of Representatives will take immediate steps to bring about the wishes expressed in their petition so that citizens receiving the soc’ al service pensions may live their lives in dignity.
Mr REYNOLDS presented from certain citizens of New South Wales a petition showing that due to higher living cost, persons on social service pensions are finding it extremely difficult to live in even the most frugal way; the petitioners therefore call upon the Commonwealth Government to increase the base pension rate to 30% of average weekly male earnings, plus supplementary assistance in accordance with Australian Council of Trade Union’s policy and by so doing give a reasonably moderate pension; the average weekly earnings for adult male unit wage and salary earner means the figures issued from time to time by the Commonwealth Statistician and published quarterly.
The petitioners pray that the Mouse of Representatives will take immediate steps to bring about the wishes expressed in their petition so that citizens receiving the social service pensions may live their lives in dignity.
Mr CREAN presented from certain residents of the State of Victoria a petition showing thai because of uncontrolled shooting for commercial purposes, the population of kangaroos, particularly the big red species is now so low that they may become extinct; there are insufficient wardens in any State of the Commonwealth to detect or apprehend those who break the inadequate laws which exist; and as a tourist attraction, the kangaroo is a permanent source of revenue to this country. It is an indisputable fact that no species can withstand hunting on such a scale, when there is no provision being made for its future.
The petitioners pray that the’ export of kangaroo products be banned immediaately, and the Commonwealth Government take the necessary steps to have all wildlife brought under its control; and only a complete cessation of killing for commercial purposes can save surviving kangaroos. And your petitioners, therefore, as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read. ‘
Mr BENNETT presented from certain citizens of Australia a petition showing that due to higher living costs, including increasing charges for health services, most aged persons living on fixed incomes are suffering acute distress; that Australia is the only English-speaking country in the world to retain a means test for age. pensioners and that a number of European countries also have no means test; that today’s aged persons have paid at least 7<r% of their taxable incomes towards social services since the absorption of special social services taxation in income tax and continue to make such payments. (7£% of all taxable incomes for 1966-67 amounted to $783,082,150 and this year will produce more than $800,000,000, more than sufficient to abolish the means test immediately.); that the middle income group, the most heavily-taxed sector of the community, subsidises the tax commitment of the upper income bracket through the amount of social services contributions collected by the government and not spent on the purposes for which they were imposed; that the abolition of the means test will give a boost to the economy by - (1) additional tax revenue from pensions, (2) swelling of the work force, and, (3) increased spending by pensioners; and that it is considered just and right to allow people who have been frugal, have lived their lives with dignity and have been anything but an encumbrance on the nation, to maintain that dignity to the end of their lives free from fear of penury.
The petitioners pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to abolish the means test for ali people who have reached retiring age or who otherwise qualify for social service benefits or pensions..
Petition received and read.
Mr MARTIN presented from certain citizens of Australia a petition showing that due to higher living costs, including increasing charges for health services, most aged persons living. on fixed incomes are suffering acute distress; that Australia is the only English-speaking country in the world to retain a means test for age pensioners and that a number of European countries also have no means test; that today’s aged persons have paid at least H% of their taxable incomes towards social services since the absorption of special social services taxation in income tax and continue to make such payments. (7i% of all taxable incomes for 1966-67 amounted to $783,082,150 and this year will produce more than $800,000,000, more than sufficient to abolish the means test immediately.); that the middle income group, the most heavily-taxed sector of the community,’ subsidises the tax commitment of the upper income bracket through the amount of social services contributions collected by the government and not spent on the purposes for which they were imposed; that the abolition of the means test will give a boost to the economy by - (1) additional tax revenue from pensions, (2) swelling of the work force, and (3) increased spending by pensioners; and that it is considered just and right to allow people who have been frugal, have lived their lives with dignity and have been anything but an encumbrance on the nation, to maintain that dignity to the end of their lives free from fear of penury.
The petitioners pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to abolish the means test for all people who have reached retiring age or who otherwise qualify for social service benefits or pensions.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. Is he aware of the negative and rather dictatorial attitude of the Australian Rugby League Board of Control in refusing to allow the Australian Broadcasting Commission to televise directly to the hundreds of thousands of sport loving Australians, including children, living in provincial cities and country towns an event which is ranked in Australia with the Davis Cup and the cricket ashes as one of the sporting classics? As organised sport is one of the best investments we have for promoting good will and assisting our youth to overcome the many temptations which exist in modern society-
– Ha, ha.
– I know that Mr Speaker will agree with me - will the Prime Minister, in association with the PostmasterGeneral, use his best endeavours to arrange for the direct televising of the second and third tests, particularly to those areas which in no way can influence the gate? I stress that this is a sporting classic.
– I am not completely aware of the attitude adopted by the sporting body to which the honourable member refers. I do not think even he could believe that 1 or a government should dictate to private sporting bodies what they must or must not do and the prices at which they must or must not do it. Surely even he would not go that far.
– Has the Prime Minister seen reports that Comalco, a mainly foreign owned company, has made shares available to Queensland Cabinet Ministers? Will he investigate to ascertain whether this action could reasonably be seen to be an exercise of undue influence and an improper practice by a key export industry which is largely dependent on favourable State government decisions and State requests for Federal financial assistance?
– The question has nothing whatever to do with me or my Administration.
– Has the Minister for Education and Science had a recent opportunity to inspect the University of Queensland and to observe the very difficult conditions under which many of the staff and students are working? If not, is he, by arrangement with the appropriate authorities, willing to go to Brisbane in the near future to make such an inspection and to ascertain at first hand the inadequacy of present accommodation and facilities, particularly in certain faculties?
– Earlier this year I visited the University of Queensland and a number of other universities to familiarise myself with their situations. At the time Professor Teakle was acting as ViceChancellor of the University of Queensland - it was before the appointment of Professor Zelman Cowen. I had a long discussion, with the aid of maps, about the building programme of the university. 1 was given further information by another officer about projected financial requirements. I was then taken on a tour of the university to inspect the existing buildings and work in progress. I am willing to keep myself up to date by making a further inspection, particularly as a new vicechancellor has been appointed to the University of Queensland. When I shall be able to do this will depend on the totality of commitments.
– I ask the Prime Minister: In view of the recommendation by the Liberal Party Federal Council yesterday that the Federal Government should reduce the voting age and the age for marrying without parental consent from 21 years to 18 years, will the right honourable gentleman’s Government allow my Adulthood Bill which was partly debated last Thursday to come to a vote in this House?
– The answer to the last part of the question is no. The answer to the first part of the question is that the recommendation will be considered by the Government but, unlike the Leader of the Opposition, we are not directed as to what we must do by people outside.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service a question: As the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission has been somewhat under fire recently, what would be the alternative to this authority if it ceased to function? Would the Commonwealth Government of the day fix the hours of work, pay and conditions of employment’ which, I am told, is the policy of one party, or would the strength of the appropriate trade union be the deciding factor? Tn any case, would chaos prevail and the law of the jungle rule?
– The answer to almost all the question is yes, but I could not leave the answer in that form. It is the belief of the Government that it is imperative to maintain the conciliation and arbitration system. Through this institution there is a spreading of the benefits of a productive society throughout all portions of the work force. It is very important that it should exercise a role in conciliation to prevent disputes and if the conciliation is unsuccessful then to arbitrate the disputes. As the honourable gentleman will know, I introduced legislation into the House last week which will give the Commission a new role in terms of the application of sanctions under the legislation. If there were no arbitration commission I fear that the community would descend into a state of outright collective bargaining. In such a condition 1 have no doubt whatever that there would be stratification of incomes not dependent on skill or social desirability but dependent only upon the possession of naked industrial power and I think that would be against the interests of our society and our economy.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry whether he informed the Grain Growers Association of Queensland some time back that when wheat stocks have been reduced to a manageable and acceptable level there will be good reason to match production to market outlets. If so, is the Minister now able to give the House an approximate figure of what a manageable and acceptable level of end- of-season wheat stocks would be on an Australia-wide basis? Can he say when that level is likely to be reached? Can he give an estimate of the required annual production to meet demand after the acceptable level of stocks has been reached?
– Different people might have different interpretations of what a manageable level is, but one would have to take great notice of what the potential market outlet was, what stores were on hand and what storage facilities were available for the forthcoming season. This would be a matter on which the wheat industry would have very strong opinions. It would be stupid to be determining a quota level which would increase stocks further than they are at the present moment and which would be completely unmanageable.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. In view of the rapidly increasing applications for financial assistance from farmers to the Rural Reconstruction Board in New South Wales, it is my understanding that the Board has no further funds available. Has the Prime Minister received an application from the Premier of New South Wales for further loan funds? Would the Commonwealth favourably consider such an application from the New South Wales Government to help those farmers in necessitous circumstances to carry on?
- Mr Speaker, I have no recollection of receiving such an application.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Industry whether he has noticed the extensive published criticisms made by the Textile Council of Australia of the Tariff Board report on man-made fibres and in particular the submissions that the rales of duty decided in that report are unrealistic, that the report is out of date, and that there are many apparent errors of judgment in it. Has his attention been directed to the opinion of one company within the industry that the report will bring to an end the growth of the man-made fibre industry in Australia? Is the Minister concerned about these criticisms from the industry? Will he take any notice of a request for an immediate review of the position before the report is put into effect legislatively?
– I am familiar with the grave doubts expressed by the Australian textile industry as to the outcome of the adoption of the Tariff Board report on certain man-made fibres. It has been my practice never to see interested parties in matters such as this between the time when a report comes to me and when I make my recommendation to the Government. I have, however, seen the members of this Council although I forget whether I saw them as members of the Council or otherwise. They put to me personally, at an early opportunity that I provided after the Government’s decision, their very grave disquiet about the outcome for the manmade fibre industry of the adoption of the Tariff Board report. My reaction was to say that the Government could not consider taking any action merely on the expressed disquiet of parties. There would be no precedent and there would be no basis for so acting at all. What both the Government and the industry would need to do would be to watch the eventualities, and if it transpired that on this decision the man-made fibre industry found itself in considerable economic peril, then it could make an application for a hearing by the Special Advisory Authority. This is the kind of application which has been granted on more- than one occasion when the outcome of the adoption of a Tariff Board report has proved to leave an industry with inadequate protection. I could not anticipate the outcome of that but I pointed out that that was the course open to the industry. That is a situation which can be considered only when an industry can come along and in quite substantial and practical terms convince the Authority that it is in peril.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Since I asked a simple question of the Minister last Friday have there been any further developments or has he any further information that he can now give mc regarding the merino ram embargo? Is the Minister aware that many undeveloped countries such as India and Iran which want our merino rams are rightly critical of the attitude of the Australian Labor Party in giving in to dictation by the Australian Council of Trade Unions - or is it that advice is being given by the Labor Party to the ACTU?
– I do not know what new developments have taken place over the weekend. I do not know whether the Labor Party has been putting into effect some of the words uttered the other day by the Leader of the Opposition when he said that he had not said anything to get the unions or the Australian Council of Trade Unions to take the action they have taken. It was not that T said that he had said anything. I accused the Leader of the Opposition in this House of having incited the ACTU to take action against any rams leaving this country. I still stand behind those remarks because I know that he met this disgruntled group which was opposing the lifting of the embargo and a group that requested that the unions take this sort of action. I know that he met the executive of the New South Wales Branch of the Australian Labor Party to talk about this matter. I can hardly imagine that the weight and influence of the Leader of the Opposition would not mean a great deal in relation to the action of the ACTU. However, if the Leader of the Opposition does have another point of view on this subject I wish he would tell the ACTU and let us get over this silly business that is happening at the present time.
I learnt over the weekend that the ambassadress from Brazil and the ambassador from Argentine have been to see the Leader of the Opposition about this matter. This certainly was not at my instigation, although the Leader of the Opposition tried to accuse me of it the other day. I knew nothing of it. The ambassadress and ambassador are concerned and worried that people came here and bought rams in good faith, thinking they could get them out of the country. Once the sale was made the Opposition had the audacity to see that the union ban was imposed. If this is its idea of creating goodwill with other countries then the Labor Party will be pretty hopeless in foreign affairs, should it ever become the government. The fact is that people from central American countries bought rams in Australia. So too did people from mainland China. South Africa, Italy and India. Those people bought rams and have not been able to get them out of the country. They came here thinking they would be able to do so. Yet the Australian Labor Party, through the mass strength of the unions, is defying the law.
– I ask the Minister for Trade and Industry whether he has studied - and if not will he study - the action by New Zealand authorities in negotiating successfully for reduced shipping freights for apple and pear exports from that country. Would the Minister take the initiative to secure a reduction of shipping charges covering similar Australian export industries, taking the New Zealand action as a model and aiming at up to a 25% reduction on a range of exports in order to secure markets presently threatened by artificially high freights and to provide opportunities to open new markets, particularly in Asia?
– 1 have learnt of the lower freight rates reported to have been negotiated for certain fruits exported from New Zealand. These freights are reported to be lower than rates which prevail for Australian exports. I have not yet had time to study fully the facts of the situation but I have learnt this: The freight rate applying in the case of New Zealand relates to unmarked cartons sold in bulk. I am advised that they come from 1 seller and are for delivery to 1 buyer. That is the information I have at the present time. This involves a situation different from that of the trade from Australia. Every carton from Ausis marked. Australian sales are from a multiplicity of sellers to a multiplicity of buyers and all cartons are directly marked. lt is obvious that a bulk, non-discriminatory trade can be conducted at a lower cost than one which involves a measure of identification and discrimination and great diversity of buyers and sellers, such as apply, I am told, in the case of the Australian trade. Whether or not that lower freight would justify the disparity that apparently is to exist, I do not know. I will study the matter.
I repeat to the honourable member and to the House, as I repeated on a different matter last week, that until 1956 it had been the practice of Australian shippers - that- is the term applied to exporters - to conduct their negotiations with the shipowning companies on the best arguments that they could marshal. If they were dissatisfied with the outcome they would then turn to the Government and invoke the aid of the Government. Indeed, in 1956, I think it was. my own Department succeeded in negotiating a freight rate 7£% less than the rate which the industries had been able to negotiate. But in 1956, without consultation with the Government, all the shipper interests in Australia sent their representatives to London and negotiated a basis of freight determination there with the organised shipowners. It was a basis of freight determination which had relationship to the costs of the service to the shipowners and a measure of profit which the shippers agreed the shipowners were entitled to. This concluded an arrangement which retained within it no place whatever for the Government to step in to aid.
What we are talking about now is the private property of a multiplicity of people and the private property of some statutory boards. It is not within the philosophy of this Government to seek to intervene and tell people who have produced property at their own cost, who are selling it and shipping it, that they do not know how to run their own- business and that the Government will step in and take charge over their heads. That might be the philosophy of some people but it is not the philosophy of this Government. Until we are asked to take a part we will leave it to those who are acting with confidence in their own skills and capacity, to argue. As I told the House last week, when the point came that Australian shipper interests decided in their own judgment - I do not quarrel with it; I merely state the facts - that they would without Government aid pit themselves against the shipowners in negotiations I took the stand that in this situation they must be equipped with research services, or whatever the people were to be called, with people skilled and experienced in assembling information and furnishing the shipper interests with the capacity to argue their case. To that end I went along to the Cabinet of the day and asked my Cabinet colleagues to make available a substantial sum of money to help the Australian shippers to establish their own research services, and that they did.
– I ask the
Minister for External Affairs: Has his attention been drawn to the claims in Adelaide by a Dr Robertson that there seems to be a correlation between earthquakes and atomic explosions? Has the Minister’s attention been drawn to the report that traces of radioactive fallout from the French Government’s recent nuclear tests have now appeared in New Zealand? Will the Minister restate to the French Government our protest and our complete opposition to the continuance of nuclear tests in our part of the world?
– The Commonwealth Government officially protested to the French Government and asked it not to continue the nuclear tests or even, to commence the nuclear tests in the Pacific of recent weeks. As to the first part of the honourable gentleman’s question, I have. not seen the comment made by the professor about the relationship between nuciear explosions and earthquakes, nor have I seen any report at all about nuclear fallout in New Zealand. I will obtain the information for the honourable gentleman and let him know later this afternoon.
– My question is directed to the Minister for External Affairs. Now that the full magnitude of the disaster in Peru is apparent will the Minister increase the Commonwealth’s rather meagre relief grant of $15,000? Further, will he see that contributions to private relief funds for Peru are made a taxation deduction?
– I will take up with my colleague, the Treasurer, the question of relief from taxation of private contributions made to the relief of problems in Peru. I did make it clear in the House the other day, and f did not hear one honourable member from the Opposition side support the Government, that we were tremendously sorry and unhappy at the unfortunate events that have occurred there.
– Give them a few quid.
– That is about all that the honourable member would give them. As to the first part of the honourable gentleman’s question, I will again have a look at this problem and see whether anything further can be done.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Has his attention been drawn to a statement by Sir Walter Merriman, the doyen of the wool industry, that the proposed wool authority would be a calamity if carried out? When a conundrum is not a conundrum, would it apply to a single wool marketing authority?
– I have not seen any statement by Sir Walter Merriman. I hope to be seeing him tomorrow, so I will ask him personally.
– I address my question to the Prime Minister. In view of the acknowledged burden of taxation suffered by low and middle income earners throughout this country and in view of the Prime Minister’s policy speech last year in which he said that his Government would ease considerably this tax burden, can he indicate to this House whether his Government will ease this crushing burden in this year’s Budget?
– The honourable member will be able to have his questioned answered when this year’s Budget is introduced.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. I refer to the dairy industry reconstruction legislation which was recently passed by this House. Has the New South Wales State Government indicated yet whether it will accept the offer of the Commonwealth to provide finance for this important form of assistance for the dairy industry?
– 1 have not had any further contact with the New South Wales Government since we were negotiating some weeks ago. At that stage there were certain conditions unacceptable to it and certain conditions unacceptable to us. However, I am pleased to hear some noises being made by the Minister for Lands in New South Wales which make it appear that his Government is a little more enthusiastic about the proposal. So 1 hope that it will not be long before the New South Wales Government is able to accept the proposal.
– My question, is supplementary to that asked by the honourable member for Wakefield. I ask “the Minister for Primary Industry: Is it a fact that Primary producers demonstrating recently in Perth in support of the embargo on the export of rams displayed a huge banner bearing the slogan ‘Export Anthony; keep the rams’? If so, does he intend to adopt this rather quaint, but practical solution to what is a worrying problem for him?
– Unfortunately I was not present to see the incident mentioned by the honourable member. However, I did see in the ‘Australian’ about a week ago an article in which a fellow gave 10 points to solve all our agricultural problems. The first one was to get rid of Anthony. At times 1 think he might do me a good service if he did that. But I am here until the Opposition can convince the primary producers that I should nol be. The facts of the matter are that at the last election, when there were many worrying agricultural problems, the vole in the country areas was to support the Government because the people had no confidence whatsoever in the policies of the Australian Labor Party, which added up to nothing for country people.
– Has the Minister for Labour and National Service received notice of a meeting today at which non.compliers wilh the National Service Act propose to draft a declaration opposing any civil labour alternative to the present provisions, namely, military service or gaol? Does the Minister know on what basis of belief or philosophy these people reject a mooted nonpenal provision which would enable them to avoid the commitment accepted by 99.8% of those drafted? Has the Minister considered widening the scope of national service to include matters of civil defence such as natural disaster relief and a coastguard service which would at once constitute a constructive contribution to the national welfare and obviate the protests of those who oppose national service as a means by which they can be involved in a particular war?
– I did see a notice convening such a meeting. Among those who persistently and consistently refuse to render military service, which they are obliged to do by law, are different categories of people. One of these categories consists of people whose sole objective is to use the vehicle of demonstration and protest for the purposes of denigrating the national service scheme and achieving its repeal. Whatever is done, these people will persist with that attitude. So far as. I can understand their attitude they would oppose national service in any circumstances and at any time, and whatever was done they would continue to use the vehicle of protest and demonstration for the purpose of having the legislation repealed.
– I ask the Minister for Education and Science a question. I should not like the House to adjourn without asking him whether he is yet able to give an answer to a question I asked him 8 weeks ago, namely: How soon will he be able to state the number and proportion of qualified students who unsuccessfully sought enrolment this year in universities and colleges of advanced education?
– This is a question that has been placed on the notice paper.
– I also asked it without notice.
– Notwithstanding the fact that it was placed on notice my attention was also drawn to it by way of a question without notice in the House. Work has been proceeding on it. The answer is not yet ready, although a great number of the honourable gentleman’s questions have been answered over recent weeks, some of them involving statistics from every State government and, at times, from every university in the country, and classified into male and female statistics by numbers of years. It takes a good deal of the time of officers to get material of this type together. The problem with the present question is that there is a practice among students, because of the difficulty in getting into particular faculties in particular universities, of applying for enrolment in a multiplicity of universities. The figures for people who are not enrolled but who applied are, therefore, false figures. It is necessary to make a close analysis in relation to each university to see what the true figures are. When this analysis has been completed it will be possible to answer the honourable gentleman’s question, but the task that he has given to the officers is substantial.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Health, ls it a fact that at present there is no Commonwealth Government financial support for research into the disease of multiple sclerosis which is a chronic disease of the central nervous system? Does the Minister consider that it is psychologically important and most desirable for research to be performed in our own country into the causes of this disease, which is aptly named creeping paralysis? Will the Minister take action to provide Commonwealth finance for the necessary research into the cause of multiple sclerosis with the object of finding a cure for the disease?
– No. it is not a fact that no Commonwealth funds are made available for research into multiple sclerosis. Practically all the money that the Commonwealth makes available for medical research is made available through the National Health and Medical Research Council. The sum of money that is made available has increased substantially in recent years. In the past, and currently, grants have been and are being made for the broad field which covers the disease which the honourable member mentioned. J share with him a great deal of sympathy for the sufferers from this disease, and I am very glad to be able to inform him that the
Commonwealth is making a contribution towards what I hope will be the ultimate solution.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral convey my congratulations to the Australian Broadcasting Commission for the quality of its programme entitled ‘A Big Country’? ls he aware that this programme tells an interesting and factual story without political bias? Can we have more similar programmes?
– Yes, 1 will convey the honourable member’s sentiment to the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Defence. I refer to a statement made by his predecessor, the then Mr, now Sir Allen Fairhall, on 7th February 1969. Under the heading Contract for Manufacture of Aircraft Wings in Australia’ the then Minister was reported as having said:
A major contract, which would amount to $13m, has been signed wilh the General Aviation Corporation of California, United States, for the Australian manufacture of 100 wing sets and engine nacelles for a 36 seat feeder route airliner (known as the GAC100).
Has this contract been signed? If so, on what date? As 16 months have elapsed since Sir Allen Fairhall made this statement, can the Minister say when production of these 100 wing sets and nacelles commenced? If production has not yet commenced, can he give any indication to the House when it will commence?
-The proposal that was put to the Government at an earlier point was one which was in large measure in response to the efforts of the Government and my colleague the Minister for Supply to do what could be done to help diversify the work load of the various aircraft factories in Australia. This was one matter that was being explored to try to achieve an additional work load. In the result it has been shown that there is no demonstrable market for the aircraft of the kind being put forward by this company, or certainly not a market that would give the Australian Government any confidence that it is a project that should proceed, especially as, since the project first caine to us, the indications have been that if anything were to proceed or if any contract were to be signed much larger sums of Government money would be involved than was first envisaged. In view of the capital investment that would be required from the Australian Government if anything were to be done, under the present circumstances I do not think there is a proposal that can be put forward that has any viability.
– It is a dead horse, in other words.
– From our point of view it appears to be something that cannot be proceeded with. If by some chance the company were able to achieve larger backing for the projector if it had in sight orders for the aircraft - which are not now in sight - circumstances might change. But at the moment we do not see any eventuality of either of these circumstances arising.
– Is the Minister for Primary Industry aware of the statement made by the Japanese Foreign Minister that Australia and New Zealand are both free and liberal countries and that, for that reason, the wool problem should be sorted out on a business basis?
– I did see the statement in the Press this morning by Mr Aichi, the Minister for Foreign Affairs in Japan. I think his comments were more related to the forthcoming visit to Japan, in a couple of weeks time, by the Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr McEwen. So, I think that it would be quite improper for me to make any comment on it.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Health. Is it intended to give early but belated effect to the recommendations of the Senate Select Committee on Medical and Hospital Costs and the Committee of Inquiry into Health Insurance, known as the Nimmo Committee, regarding the reduction of the massive reserves held by hospital and medical benefit funds? Will the Minister give an assurance that, if the reserves are to be reduced, the funds involved will be utilised for the expansion of benefits or the improvement of services?
– Sir, as I have announced already - in fact, as long ago as 3rd March - the Government -accepted the recommendations of the Nimmo Committee in relation to the desirable level of the reserves of the funds. It was stated at that time that the Government intended to achieve this objective, which is that the desirable level of the reserves of the funds should be 3 months free reserves, over a period by passing on . the benefits, where appropriate, to contributors. Therefore, I am able to give the honourable gentleman the assurance which he seeks-
– And which you have already given him.
– I have given it already.’ Indeed, in the process of making decisions with the assistance of the Registration Committee as to what the contribution rates will be for each medical fund when and if our new scheme comes into being - that is, when the Parliament sees fit finally to decide upon it - and in the process of assessing what the contribution rates of each fund will be, the question of these reserves has been taken into account. The honourable gentleman will see then that the rate of contribution will vary quite considerably between one fund and another, as a result of the process of running down the reserves.
However, there is one thing I will say. The reserves of the funds are in 2 separate categories - the medical funds on the one hand and the hospital funds on the other. What we are doing at the present time in relation to contribution rates for the medical funds refers only to the reserves’ of the medical funds. It is in the hospital funds that the reserves are most substantial and the process of achieving our objectives of 3 months free reserves in relation to them will need to await the outcome of the Government’s decision on the hospital recommendations of the Nimmo report.
– Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Order! Does the honourable gentleman claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. In answering a question on the inadequate relief for the victims of the earthquakes in Peru, the Minister for External Affairs (Mr Mc Mahon) volunteered the view that he did not hear anybody on this side of the House express any sympathy with him for those victims. I point out that on page 2996 of Hansard of last Thursday, 4th June, it is recorded that I made the appropriate expression of support.
– by leave - On 2nd June I. undertook to make a statement about the activities .of a group known as the Warmaram group which is trying to bring about reconciliation among the Tolai community in the Gazelle Peninsula. On .1 1 thi May the Warmaram group itself stated its objectives. The statement reads:
Following a meeting held in Lae in the Morobe District last week, a group of Tolais decided . to form a group called Warmaram. Warmaram is a Tolai word which literally means ‘to mediate’.
Warmaram is made up of the Chairman, Sam Piniau; Vice-President, Robin Kumaina; Secretary, Paulias Matane; Assistant Secretary, John Vue; and a committee of six - Dr Himson Mulas, Dr Alan Tarutia. Stanley Vuai, Rev. I. Puipui and Father Paivu.
The Warmaram term of reference is firstly that the Tolai people for a long time have been divided. ‘We want to find a way in which we can unite’.
And, secondly, the Warmaram and the Tolai shall try to solve misunderstandings amongst themselves by discussion and answering questions on general and specific problems.
The Warmaram is not a Government move. It is a move made by the group themselves who arc deeply concerned about and for the welfare of the Tolai people as a whole.
The group is interested in attending discussions and meetings organised by interested groups in the Gazelle Peninsula. The group realises that this would be a difficult task it is embarking on and urges everyone to co-operate. Because of the difficulties involved in the work the Warmaram requested assistance from the Government in money and kind. Some of the members of Warmaram are public servants. The various Government Departments have agreed to allow these men to participate in this mission. These members are not representatives of the Government - they are just a group amongst the whole Tolai people.
The group consists of prominent Tolais and includes two doctors, two clergymen, a bank officer and public servants, lt has been made clear that the Government looks to a solution of the problems in the Gazelle by negotiation among the people themselves, a further test for local opinion to be held by genuinely democratic procedures at an appropriate time, lt was with this background that the group sought some Administration assistance in achieving their objectives. They sought the release of public servants from their normal duties. They pointed out that public servants with no other source of income would still have to provide for their families. If the project was to take 3 months or so. they would therefore need their pay over this period. They sought the co-operation of the Administration in publicising the group’s aims through Radio Rabaul.
These, requests were put to the Administrator in April. The Administrator undertook to consult the Territory Public Service Board about the availability of the Public Service members of the group, but stressed that responsibility for planning the initiative and carrying it out must be a matter for the group and not for the Administration. The Public ‘Service Board approved the detachment of the officers of the Public Service concerned to special duties. These duties were to find facts and offer mediation and as might seem appropriate to make recommendations. These are functions that are frequently carried out by public servants in Papua and New Guinea and are part of the regular duties of many public servants there. Two weeks ago, for instance, public servants and police officers in Port Moresby were called on to negotiate and mediate between hostile groups from the Highlands and the Central District after 3 people had been killed. The Warmaram proposals were discussed with me, and 1 endorsed the concept that Tolais, including some public servants, should try to bring together the divided Tolai people. I considered that judgments on the proper functions of public servants in Papua and New Guinea should be made in the light of Territory conditions and Territory practice.
The 6 public servants in the group will continue to receive their normal pay whilst working in the Gazelle with the group. The Administration is reimbursing the Reserve Bank for the salary of one of the Bank’s officers who is a member of the group. The Administration also met the cost of travel and accommodation for all members of the group in connection with its initial meeting at Lae and the fares for their subsequent journey to Rabaul. Accommodation at Rabaul was not provided, even for the Public Service members of the group, because it was part of the group’s plan that its members should work in their home areas. However, the Administration has undertaken to pay the expenses of all of the members of the group at the rate of $1 per day. In addition limited transport and office services and a modest entertainment provision have been made available to the group. Time has been made available on Radio’ Rabaul to the extent of one interview in which all ‘members of the War.maram group participated. The purpose of this interview was to make it clear that the Warmaram group was not established to destroy the Mataungan Association, the multi-racial council or any other organisation but te find a way by which all Tolai people could unite and live together in harmony.
It had been claimed in some quarters that the group was conducting ‘a secret Government-oriented political operation. This was wrong. The group is not secret. Its public statement on 11th May demonstrates that. It is not Government-oriented. The group was formed entirely on the initiative of the Tolais who composed it and, as they have said themselves, its only concern is the unity and welfare of the Tolai people. Again, the group is not conducting a political operation. Its purpose is one of fact finding and reconciliation. In this connection the Opposition has raised certain points, apparently based on a report in the Press of some words said to form part of a letter written solely for confidential circulation within the Administration, a purported copy of which was published in a newsletter in Port Moresby. I propose neither to affirm nor to deny the existence of any such letter or of any such reference. Nevertheless if we are prepared to look at facts rather than news sheet allegations the facts of what the Warmaram group has been doing show that it has been concerned not with political activity directed agains’ individuals or against particular groups but with fact finding, exploration, mediation and conciliation.
The objective of the Administrator is to promote action especially by Tolais themselves directed towards the re-establishment of harmony in the Gazelle Peninsula, and that is the concept I have approved. The facts since the group’s establishment show that neither the Administration nor the Warmaram group has sought to engage in political attack on any individual or group. The situation in the Gazelle Peninsula which the Warmaram group is trying to resolve is unlike any situation which has ever been encountered in Australia. It has been debated in the House of Assembly al length and 20 elected members spoke. This was the motion that they adopted:
That the House take note of the Paper and appreciates the action of the Administration in giving what support lies within its power to a group who have offered to attempt to find the solution to the problems of the Tolai people, particularly since that group has proposed to use mediation as its method and expresses its recognition of and appreciation to Mr Robin Kumaina and his colleagues who have shown a high sense of duty as citizens in coming forward and offering their services to mediate a solution to this grave division of their peoples, whose solution is or great importance to this country*.
The Government welcomes the examination of this whole matter by the House of Assembly with its knowledge of local conditions. The House of Assembly has reached its own conclusions on the merits of the matter. The Government accepts this resolution as the judgment of the House of Assembly on the matters to which it refers and as the conclusions of the Territory’s own legislature on this issue. I present the following paper:
Papua and New Guinea - the Warmaram Group - Ministerial Statement, 9th June 1970.
Motion (by Mr Bury) proposed:
That the House take note of the paper.
– The Minister neither affirms nor denies the authenticity of what was declared to be an Administration circular which in effect says that the Warmaram group, while an instrument of reconciliation, has an ulterior motive to reduce and destroy the influence of a Mataungan leader, John Kaputin. The Minister knows the Opposition did not come down with the last shower. He knows that we must conclude that if he could deny it he would and that the document is authentic. So far the Opposition has done nothing on this matter but to ask questions and patiently await his reply. The Minister has not been attacked. He has been asked for the facts and the truth. He will neither affirm nor deny the truth of certain revelations of the attitude of the Administration to the Mataungans, and specifically to a Mataungan leader, John Kaputin. The Minister’s statement is a depressing abdication of his obligation to face how Australia’s relationship with the Tolai people is being conducted. The Minister is satisfied because the House of Assembly, loyal to the Administration even in its blunders, has voted to exculpate the Administrator from his own statements, at any rate from his own statements as inadvertently revealed by Mr Newby, Director of Information and Extension services. The Minister has avoided altogether the devastating passage in the memorandum of Mr Newby to the Manager of Rabaul radio station on 11th May. The passage read: lt was mentioned (hat Warmaram could be regarded as a scheme devised by Robin Kumaina to improve h:s position if he should wish to stand for the next House of Assembly elections in 1972. Thi’ Administrator said this was a risk to be taken. He said a major concern of the Warmaram group was to reduce ami destroy Kaputin’s standing.
If the Warmaram group is a group of intelligent conscientious people trying to bring back unity to the Tolai people - and 1 believe that to have been the intention of ils founders- ils work has been grievously undermined by the publication of thai passage in the document. If the work is a work of reconciliation the Administrator should never have formed the intention of using it for the purpose of reducing and destroying Kaputin’s standing. The Administrator’s intention should have been to let reconciliation find its own path. That is the real tragedy. In default of straight motives of reconciliation it can be argued that the Administrator should never have said openly that his aim was to destroy Kaputin’s influence: that having said it it should never have been put to paper; that having been put to paper part of it should never have been given in the way it was to the Manager of Radio Rabaul; that having been given around it should not have been leaked to a news service: that having been leaked to a news service it should not have been published.
I do not make those secondary criticisms. If the administration of Papua and New Guinea is a democratic administration its intentions should be known. It is a government, not a structure of clever deceit. If the intention of the Administrator is to destroy and reduce John Kaputin’s influence as a Mataungan leader then let that fact be published to the world. My criticism is the primary one. If the Administration was conveying to the people of Papua and New Guinea that the Warmaram group was engaged in a vital mission of reconciliation then let its task of reconciliation proceed without being made to serve as camouflage for any other intention. There is a tendency to suggest that what was afoot was Warmaram versus the Mataungans. Oscar Tammur. MHA and representative of the Tolai people in the House of Assembly, has pointed out that 2 of the members of the Warmaram group were Mataungans. A mortal blow has been struck at their standing if it appears that they were not engaged in reconciliation but in an intrigue against another Mataungan leader, lt is pretty plain that thai was not their intention.
It is also inescapable that if the Administrator knew that the major concern of the Warmaram group was to reduce and destroy Kaputin’s standing, the Warmaram group was being manipulated for purposes other than those some of its members thought it had. The Warmaram group could have such an intention if it chose, but it should not then have had administrative backing. The material revealing the motive to reduce and destroy Kaputin’s standing was put in the hands of somebody, and apparently it was also conveyed to Radio Rabaul, to explain that the Warmaram group was to bc given full radio publicity while radio publicity would be denied to the Mataungans. If the Mataungans objected it was to be explained that the Mataungans were political and not entitled to radio time, whereas the Warmaram group was not political and was entitled to radio time. lt appears to me that the comment upon this of Mr Percy Chatterton, MHA, during the House of Assembly debate is valid. He said, inter alia:
But the really damning part of this paragraph as I see it is the statement that a major concern of the Warmaram Group was to reduce and destroy Kaputin’s standing. Now there might be some people who think that this -was a worthy objective. This is a matter of opinion. But there can be no doubt at alt that it is a political objective.
The indigenous civil servants condemned the use of the civil servants in the Warmaram group for a political objective. A special meeting of the executive of the indigenous officers of the Public Service Association held on 1st June issued a statement saying that participation by public servants in Warmaram contradicted the proper role for public servants. The statement said that relaxation of restrictions in the Warmaram case was ‘inappropriate, ineptly performed and will be detrimental to the interests of public servants’. It went on to say that the Administration, by actively encouraging the group, was now likely further to widen the gap between the Administration and the Mataungans. They also criticised the use of public money in support of the Warmaram group. I want it to be quite clear that their criticism was not of the use of public money in an authentic work of reconciliation: their criticism was of the use of public money if the purpose of the group was to destroy the standing pf the Mataungan leader, which is a political objective.
Let us be clear on what the Opposition is saying. If the Warmaram group, which included the Mataungans, were a bona fide effort to bring peace and reconciliation to the Gazelle, the Administration may not have been well advised to back it but morally no criticism could be made. If, on the other hand, the Administration used public funds to destroy and reduce the influence of a Mataungan leader, to give the attack on his influence the privilege of radio time while denying any reply, and if it gave leave for public servants to carry out these activities while purporting to be engaged in a work. of reconciliation, then the Administration misused the civil service, the radio and the information service, and engaged in deceit. There has not been the slightest attempt to deny that the Administrator let it be privately known that a major concern of the Warmaram group was to reduce and destroy Kaputin’s standing. Today’s Melbourne ‘Age’ justifiably heads its sub-leader on this matter ‘White Man’s Bluff’, and its comment 1 quote in part: . . there is a wide gap between legitimate encouragement of a native movement and undercover attempts to interfere in New Guinean politics by deliberately loading the ‘dice. The confidential letter issued by the Administration and published in the Press, contains instructions for spending public money to support the Warmaram for providing a biased service on the local radio, and - worse of all - for reducing, the standing of Mr Albert Kaputin, a leading stirrer of the Mataungans.
His name, by the way, is ‘John*. The article continues:
Release of the letter may cause great damage, but the damage was caused when the instructions were devised and committed to paper. As the Territories Public Service Association has stated, the Administration’s action was ‘inappropriate, ineptly performed . . . and detrimental to the interests of public servants’.
Worse than that, it has probably widened the rift in the Rabaul area and reinforced the suspicions of the angry Mataungans. The Administration’s radio service was created to spread education and teach the elements of politics, agriculture and a broad range of social services to the indigenous people. The programme was necessary and it was honourable. To use this Governmentcontrolled medium for political purposes is unjustifiable.
The’ article goes on to say, inter alia:
The Minister . . . has failed to answer one argument. If the Mataungan Association is a political body - which it obviously is - any group formed to counteract its influence is a political body too. In the next few years we may expect more splinter groups to form in New Guinea. Unless we set an example of honest dealing, what hope have we that an independent New Guinean Government will have learned the basis rules of free speech and fair play? The example of Africa should give us the answer.
I ask the Minister, the Department of External Territories and the Administration of Papua-New Guinea to look where they are going. They would be well advised to let Mataungans alone for a year and then to have another try at sanity. There has been a disastrous series of blunders which only incredible blindness can shrug off. Some time ago a Rabaul magistrate, Mr Paul Quinlivan, did not convict 3 Mataungan leaders. It has never been denied that an Administration instruction went forth that he was not to hear future Mataungan cases. Mr Whitlam and I learnt of this instruction from Mataungans. We visited
Mataungan leaders on a prison farm. Subsequently Mr Justice Minogue in the Supreme Court of the Territory held that there had been ‘denial of natural justice’ and ‘gross miscarriage of justice’ in cases in connection with the affair which led to their imprisonment. Subsequently on that same prison farm the Administrator has had to deplore and regret the use of leg irons. Then there have been suspensions of European police in Rabaul for alleged cell bashings of indigenes. The Administration reversed itself over a referendum on the multi-racial council. Now finally we have an effort at conciliation regarded as camouflage for an attack on a Mataungan leader, and virtually so characterised by the Administrator in his reference to destroying and reducing Kaputin’s influence.
One does not have to be in any way a supporter of the Mataungan to see that blow after blow at the credibility of Australia in the Gazelle Paninsula area has been struck by the Administration itself. This is a vital and inflammable area. Its people are advanced. They have lost 40% of the arable land to expatriates. There has been an Administration policy of harassment. The Tolai. who in 1939 had all the taxi licences of Rabaul, now have none. Some Tolai, opposed to the Mataungan philosophy but desiring a new spirit, set out on a. work of reconciliation. They have been undermined.
The Administration needs a holiday from the affairs of the Gazelle Peninsula, lt looks as if its policy is forgetting that independence is coming, lt can mobilise the House of Assembly to vote that its actions, patently wrong, are right, just as it could mobilise the, House of Assembly to vote for tear gas and batons to enforce a policy in Bougainville which was later repudiated. What happens with every vote is that it makes the future unity of Papua-New Guinea more difficult. It has already produced a secession movement in Bougainville. It will produce one in New Britain if it puts concealed purposes to reduce and destroy influence behind what is ostensibly reconciliation.
Debate (on motion by Mr Giles) adjourned.
– 1 have received a letter from the honourable member for Werriwa (Mr Whitiam) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:
The need for the Commonwealth io assist the finances and functions of semi-government and local government authorities.
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places. (More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places)
– Yesterday the Federal Council of the Liberal Party met to decide what that Parry’s policy should be towards what Liberals call the crisis in CommonwealthState financial relations. It is significant that these relations reached crisis’ proportions at a time when the coalition parties had a monopoly of every government, Stale and Federal, in this country, a monopoly broken only last Saturday week. For over 2 years all 7 Treasurers were Liberals. In this same week the Commonwealth Parliament will be asked to impose an unjust, unnecessary and unpopular tax on behalf of State governments which allege that they were first obliged to raise this tax - illegally as it turns out - by Commonwealth meanness and on Commonwealth urging. At the end of this month, without any discussion in this Parliament or any of the State parliaments, a new financial formula will be devised to govern the financial relations between the Commonwealth and the States for the next 5 years. In all these matters, in all these discussions, nothing will be heard and nothing will be said on behalf of the area of government facing the severest test and carrying the heaviest burdens - the third, the silent partner, the local and semi-government authorities in this nation.
The plight of local and semi-government authorities illustrates the characteristic of Commonwealth-State-municipal finances and functions after 20 years of Liberal rule: The real characteristic is federal affluence and civic squalor. In all the squabbles of the past 2 years, not 1 of the five Liberal Premiers nor the Country Party Premier has raised his voice about the needs of local government or semi-government authorities - yet they are State creations. No national government in any comparable country accepts so little responsibility for civic problems as ours. State Liberals do not and will not speak up for local government. Liberal Treasurers, State and Federal, place more and more responsibility on local government yet deny local government adequate access to finance.
This is not by accident or mere oversight; it is inherent in that Liberal philosophy which is supposedly being hammered out in that ersatz Georgian building over the way. It suits Federal Liberals to assert that urban facilities and urban services are matters for the States: it suits State Liberals to assert that these are matters for civic authorities, because it is the Liberal way not just of passing the buck but of restricting public expenditure and conscripting public’ authorities. The whole meaning of the present phoney war about State rights is the protection of private affluence and the perpetuation of public squalor. In their treatment of local government and semigovernment - their clients - the States parallel the parable of the unjust steward; they beg justice from the rich lord, but deny it to their own servants.
One of the applications of the Liberal philosophy has been to hide the real extent of the burdens of taxes and charges carried by the people. This has been achieved by obliging the States and still more the semigovernment and local government authorities to raise more and more finance by the inherently unfair means available to them, while Commonwealth affluence has been guaranteed by the simple expedient of leaving the tax schedules unchanged and letting wage rises and inflation do the rest. Consequently in the past 20 years Commonwealth revenues have .increased 7-fold; but State revenues have increased more than 9-fold while local government revenues have multiplied by more than 8 and semigovernment by more than 18. The true picture of public financing becomes clearer when we examine the debt situation of the various authorities. Since 1947 the Commonwealth debts have fallen: the debts of the States have increased more than 4-fold; local government debts have increased more than 9-fold; semi-government debts more than 1 2- fold. In 1947 the debts of local and semi-government -authorities combined were just over one-quarter of those of the States. By 1968, the last year for which all comparable figures are available, they were more than three-quarters of those of the States; in less than 5 years will exceed those of the States.
In 1947 the loan repayments of semi and local government authorities were about seven-tenths of those of the States. Today they are nearly double those of the States. Their interest rates now will be the highest in our history because they must be half of 1% above the rate on Commonwealth bonds.
Between 1954-55 and 1965-66 the number of cents taken in debt charges out of every dollar received in local government rates rose in New South Wales from 17.6 to 22.2. Between 1954-55 and 1967-68 - because the other States give figures 2 years later than those that the New South Wales Government provides - the number of cents taken rose as follows:
From 9.9 to 15.8 in Victoria: 29.8 to 33.2 in Queensland; 7:8 to 12.7 in South Australia; 10.2 to 16.7 in Western Australia. 21.5 to 33.8 in Tasmania.
The Liberal Party Council in its new manifesto calls upon the Commonwealth to share with the States the opportunity to use revenue monies where necessary for works of a capital nature’. If this is proper for the States, it is proper for local and semi-government. Under the existing set-up; the States create authorities to provide the services basic to every modern civilised community, and then leave them to fend for themselves.
The statistics alone would indicate how much local and semi-government finances have become a national problem. Figures of this magnitude obviously cannot be ignored in the nation’s overall economic management. It is unreal to distinguish’ Australian taxpayers from Australian ratepayers. There are not some people who pay rates and some who pay taxes and some who pay transport, electricity and water charges. They are, by and large, the same people, and they arc ail Australians. The national responsibility is clearer still when we realise how financial and legal realities reinforce this simple human reality. Local and semi-government authorities have been created by the States; the Commonwealth accepts responsibility for providing most of the income of each of the States. Further, the States exact statutory contributions from local government for road, street lighting, fire, planning and similar authorities. The Commonwealth has refused to seek statistics on such burdens although, together with debt charges, they pre-empt not less than one-third of local government revenues. In New South Wales I have been able to ascertain that last year councils had to contribute $7.8m odd to the Department of Main Roads, $1.876m to the State Planning Authority and SI. 4 18m odd to the Board of Fire Commissioners.
Most important of all, the Commonwealth determines the loan raisings of local and semi-government authorities by virtue of its practical domination of the Loan Council, lt is just flying in the face of financial, legal and human fact to deny that the Commonwealth has any responsibility for local and semi-government finances and functions.
The squeeze on their finances is creating squalor in the functions they must fulfil and the services they must provide. It seems to be thought that only mayors and shire presidents should concern themselves with the problem of local government. We are thought to be demeaning this Parliament by mentioning such mundane topics as, say, sewerage. I suppose I am the only leader of a national party in the English speaking world to concern myself with these problems since Disraeli successfully campaigned in the 1874 elections on the slogan Sanitas sanitatum, omnia sanitas’ which, freely translated, means ‘Sanitation is everything’. He introduced the first of the modern public health acts which revolutionised sanitation in England. Disraeli did more for the English people by building sewers than by buying Suez.
The truth is, of course, that the sanitation standards in Australia are worse than those in any comparable country. The Statistician furnished the former Treasurer with an answer to me on 25th February last year which showed that in 1966 the estimated percentage of population served by sewer age services in the State capitals was. as follows:
The Statistician has not yet completed an investigation required to obtain later information, lt will be noted that the position is only tolerable in the two cities, Adelaide and Hobart, where a State government department has the responsibility of supplying the service. In each of the other capitals the State government has given the responsibility to a large semi-government or local government authority which the State government is most reluctant to assist or champion. The Loan Council can approve borrowing allocations for sewerage services but has done so only once - for Brisbane in the period 1962-65. The unsewered areas are the developing areas of our cities where most migrants and most children live.
The role of local government goes far beyond the provision of such basic services as sanitation. In modern societies the ro’e of local government is increasing. There are few aspects of our environment, our culture or our welfare which can be adequately tackled without involving local government. Ours will not be a modern society until we permit local government to widen its role; it will be unable to do so as long as the financial squeeze on local government persists. In particular, modern societies require that a great deal of work hi the social welfare field be carried out by local authorities. Our inadequate and antiquated system means in essence that the Commonwealth will provide cash benefits and the States will provide some direct assistance in forms which were devised during, and have changed little since, the depression. Increasingly the need is for advice, counselling, retraining and- direct assistance. This can be provided best, and probably can only be provided, on a regional basis, which means local government must be increasingly involved. Yet the Commonwealth has no information on the number of qualified social workers employed by local government. My colleagues produced very little reaction from Government members when they advocated the role of local government in’ debates this year on Bills dealing with assistance for handicapped children, aged persons’- homes and Meals on Wheels.
Inequality in Australia is more public than private. A family’s standard of living will be determined much more by where they live than by what they earn. The inequalities between regions are now far greater than any between States and are indeed greater than they ever were between States. In developing regions the inequalities and the burdens are growing. The areas with the greatest needs are precisely those with the least resources. The Commonwealth Grants Commission was set up to advise the Commonwealth on the fairest way to help the smaller States to provide services’ equal to those of the larger States. The Commission should now be asked to recommend the amount of Commonwealth assistance required to remove the inequalities in servicing our developing suburbs and regions.
There are two reasons why local government needs have been so badly neglected in Australia. The first I have already mentioned: It is a direct consequence, an inherent feature, of the Liberal philosophy and the Liberal approach. The other lies in the present federal system. We have 6 State governments to speak stridently if ineffectually for their interests; even 6 Liberals can be brought together in the same room. But there is no-one who will speak for our 900 local and semi-government authorities. They themselves have failed to speak either collectively or regionally. It is unrealistic to expect that regionalisation of functions can be achieved without a rationalisation of finances. What is required is a new Financial Agreement which will take into account the needs not of 900 local authorities but of the few score regions into which this nation is clearly divided. Those regions have very little to do with the artificial boundaries arranged by the clerks at Whitehall in the middle of last century but have everything to do with the natural growth of this country over the past century.
The outer suburbs, the developing regions of this country, have far too great a burden to be met by those who pay rates and charges to local government authorities and semi-governmental authorities. Why is it that so much more of the rates for the developing areas on the outskirts of our capital cities is now pre-empted not only for the statutory contributions but for debt charges? Why is it that the developing areas of our country such as Wollongong, Whyalla, Mount lsa and Gladstone, have to pay so much more for these features? Why is it that the cost of electricity is so much greater in all the coastal cities of Queensland than in other cities of Australia which are nowhere near their size? I fear a great opportunity has been lost for the rationalisation and regionalisation of CommonwealthSta’temunicipal finances and functions in the. new Financial Agreement. My colleagues who lead the Parliamentary Labor Parties in all the States and my officer bearers in the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party have discussed all the features of finance and functions at Commonwealth, State and’ civic levels. We cannot wait 5. years for yet another agreement; happily we need only await a new government which will take those initiatives required to begin the task of modernisation of the ramshackle structure of finances and functions which bear so heavily on the people for so inadequate a return.
– The speech which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has just made is a further example of his general economic enunciations: That certain things need to be done and it would be nice to do them; the provision of resources is easy - one just extends the amount of money available, presumably blowing up the currency further. This is a continuing chapter. His enunciation on expenditure indicates that it would be 10 times as lush as that of the most profligate Treasurer we have ever had. Let us look firstly at what has been the experience of local government authorities. The Leader of the Opposition assumes that local government bodies are starved, that they can do nothing, and that their financial basis is hopeless. Taking the total expenditures of local government authorities on a national accounting basis for 1959-60, the figure was S3 19m. For the year 1968-69 it was $68 Im. The annual increase enjoyed by local government authorities between 1959-60 and 1968- 69 was 8.8%. Correspondingly, the annual increase in the gross national product was 7.7%.
Taking the period from 1964-65 onwards total local government authority expenditure has increased at an average rate of 8% per annum and so has the gross national product. Therefore, whatever may be said about the present position of local government authorities, the resources at their disposal have been rising steadily, Let us take the Australian Loan Council borrowing programmes for State governments and semi-governmental and local authorities. In the case of the larger authorities their expenditure has risen from $173.4m for 1959-60 to an estimated $372 for 1969- 70. The average annual rate Df increase for the 5 years from 1964-65 to 1.969-70 is 8.3%. If one looks at the smaller authorities one will see that their average expenditure has risen at a faster rate than that of the larger authorities. The smaller authorities which, under the Loan Council procedures are not subject to an overall limit in their borrowing, were able to borrow S33.9m in 1959-60. Last financial year this figure had risen to $103m. an annual rate of increase of 13.5%. These semi-governmental and local authorities of all natures and sizes have enjoyed a total annual rate of increase of 9.3%. Ii one looked at the economy and suggested that all authorities and people who spend money or who have any public responsibilities should increase their outlay per annum at a rate greater than those I have mentioned, one would find that public finance difficulties would very shortly be extreme.
The Leader of the Opposition seemed to be very concerned about the policy of the Commonwealth Government and the Liberal Party. No doubt he is highly envious of the degree of unity which is established there us compared with his own Party. It has been our established policy, as federalists, to entrust the wider affairs of State governments and local and semigovernmental authorities to the State governments. This is the proper business of the State governments, lt is a natural argument for someone who wants to centralise everything in Canberra that local authorities should be financed and no doubt closely directed by the Government in Canberra. This is quite contrary to our policy. What we have done is to extend both loans and financial grants to the State governments who in turn arc responsible for allocating resources to local governments. It is relevant to say that the Commonwealth has made available to State governments large and increasing sums by way of annual revenue grants.
– What did the Premiers say?
– lt is undeniable; it is statistically true. No doubt anyone can argue the toss and try to get a bil more. This is human nature. This is natural. This is the perennial and insistent demand of the honourable member for Barton. This is the way the State Premiers would naturally react. No matter how much money they had they would like more. There are plenty of things they would like to do, but it is impossible to reach saturation point with large numbers of independent governmental authorities. These grants have been in the recent past paid on the basis of a formula which virtually ensures that year by year they will increase at a faster rate than the economy as a whole increases. Similarly, on the capital side, it has always been the policy, economic and budgetary conditions permitting, that capital expenditure by State governments and their authorities, including local authorities under them, be increased year by year. This in fact has been the experience. Whenever the States have not been able to raise sufficient money directly from the loan market for public works, the Commonwealth has supplemented their resources by way of loans and various direct grants rather than reduce the total programmes. The States in turn are free to allocate any part of these moneys to local authorities. In fact, the figures which T have just read out indicate that an increasing percentage year by year has gone to local authorities.
In 1961, before the Australian Loan Council, the Commonwealth took the initiative to bring in a policy whereby smaller local authorities borrowing sums not greater than $200,000 in the course of a year could borrow without limit. In June 1967 this limit on local authority borrowing was increased to $300,000. Any borrowings up to this point can be made freely and without restriction under the Loan Council borrowing programmes. Of course,” it so happens that there are a good many forms of direct Commonwealth assistance to the States for specific purposes to bring considerable benefits to local authorities. Probably the most notable case is that of roads. We have also taken other steps to assist local authorities. For instance, in terms of the Constitution the Commonwealth is exempt from the payment of rates to local authorities, but both the Commonwealth Government itself and its authorities have as a matter of practice made ex gratia payments on a very wide scale. I am well aware of the situation in Newcastle, ‘ of which an honourable member reminds me. It is true that many public authorities everywhere would like to receive larger rates or raise a number of specific issues, but the fact is that the Commonwealth, although it is not obliged to do so under the Constitution, makes large ex gratia payments to local authorities in lieu of rates. 1 Commonwealth legislation, incidentally, has also exempted local authorities from sales tax. Quite naturally local authorites are constituted and function under State laws. Any change in this basis - -that is, the local authorites not functioning under State laws or within the compass ‘ of State responsibility - would be a matter of very direct and great concern to the States themselves. Any change would affect the existing patterns of Commonwealth-State relations, which depend upon the Commonwealth dealing directly with the States and in turn the States with the local authorities. A great part of financial assistance grants paid to the State governments by the Commonwealth take this into account and are strictly for the general purpose of meeting the charges on the State governments accruing from State local authorities. It is true that we levy payroll tax on local authorities. But, as with so many other arrangements, over the years this has become part of the generally agreed complex of Common wealth-State financial relationships. Most of these are embodied in specific agreements and in fact do not flow directly from the Constitution. It is a very easy task - in fact, it is the political bread and butter of the Leader of the Opposition - to go around every group and almost invite questions suggesting that more money be provided. He can ask: ‘Would you not like some more money to do A, B and C? 1 am the man to provide it.’ It may be a new health scheme. He has a vast number of rabbits which he is apt to pull out of his hat at any time, but they are all costly. He seems to ignore this. He is singularly silent on the ways and means of raising revenue, but as far as spending public money is concerned he is one of the most extravagant figures in Australian public life today.
– I rise to support the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) who has raised as a matter of public importance the need for the Commonwealth to assist the finances and functions of semi-government and local government authorties. We have just heard the reply by the Treasurer (Mr Bury) on behalf of the Government. When one listens to the comments made by the Treasurer one realises how completely out of touch he is with the people. Anyone who works closely with local or semi-government bodies knows that they are in a state of stagnation. The States are in revolt. At the recent Liberal Party convention they defeated the Prime Minister and he had to make a backward step. But we are dealing not only with the Gorton Administration, we are dealing also with a government that has been in office for 2 decades. We are complaining about the stagnation and the chaos that has been created by the Commonwealth starving the States, the local government and semi-government authorities.
The Leader of the Opposition has dealt with the chaotic condition of Commonwealth and State financial relations. He gave as an example the growth of the internal debt of the States and the reduction of the Commonwealth’s debt during the same period. Since 1947 the State debt has been increased fourfold, the debt of local authorities tenfold and the debt of semigovernment authorities by 12i times. These are the figures that concern the States, local government and semi-government authorities. The cost of interest repayment during the last 12 years- from 1954-55 to 1966-67 - is worth noting. In 1954-55 the Commonwealth paid in interest SI 17m. This has increased to Si 29m a year. During that period Commonwealth revenue increased from $2,1 14m to $5,7 15m. The increase in internal interest repayments was only SI 2m whilst Commonwealth revenue increased by $3600m. During this period, the interest burden of the States increased from SI 34m to $379m, the interest burden of semi-government authorities increased from $67m to $243m and the interest burden of local government authorities increased from SI 4m to $67 m.
During the 2 decades that the conservative administrations have governed - or misgoverned - this country, chaos has grown. The Commonwealth continuously has starved the States and semi-governmental and local government authorities of finance, lt has at no time been prepared to cooperate and co-ordinate, on a planned basis, all levels of government. 1 stress that the Commonwealth has not co-operated and coordinated to plan all levels of government. As the Leader of the Opposition pointed out, there is no difference between ratepayers of local government bodies and taxpayers of the Commonwealth. We arc the same citizens at all levels of government and until such time as the Commonwealth provides leadership there can be no positive policy. During these 2 decades chaos has continued to grow in specific sectors of our community - in education, housing, roads, health and hospitalisation. But nothing has been so chaotic as the situation in our capital and provincial cities where 80% of our population resides. It is possibe to give only a rough estimate of the cost of cleaning up the urban environment because it is difficult to find proper statistics. It is estimated that the cost of installing sewerage to areas of Sydney and Melbourne that lack it would be about S600m. This is without any kind of treatment of sewage. The introduction of primary treatment of sewage in Sydney and Melbourne alone would cost another $lOOm.
We are now in the 1970s and people are demanding an answer to the chaos of urban living. No longer will they accept growing pollution, including noise and smell, and the destruction of our environment. In every capital city the expense of continually upgrading network services such as roads, water supplies, sewerage, telecommunications and public transport is enormous. I speak personally of Sydney, the city where I reside. Her industries have polluted her air and stagnated her beautiful waterways. Some of the most magnificent beaches in the world will not, by the turn of the century, be fit for our growing population to enjoy. This will be caused, to a great extent, by man’s stupidity and by the starving of the Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board, the authority responsible, by the Commonwealth Government of finance that is necessary to solve this urgent problem.
I want to deal with the pollution problem that is confronting Sydney’s waterways and beaches. This is pollution caused by sewage from domestic and industrial outflows. I say at the outset that Sydney’s problems can be repeated in every capital and provincial city in Australia. The problems cannot be solved by loan moneys. It is my view, and 1 believe my Party’s attitude, that it will be necessary to solve this problem financially by grants under section 96 of the Constitution. I believe also that it will be necessary to draw on the best scientific knowledge that is available. The Commonwealth should be a partner of the States in solving the pollution problems of our cities. It should not pass the buck to the States. Together, in co-operation, we should work at all levels of government to conquer the problems. We cannot, in the 1970s, continue to place the burden on the State governments and local authorities, During the next 5 years the Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board proposes to expend $65m on waste water treatment works. Mr Deputy Speaker, with the concurrence of the House I incorporate in Hansard a table showing the 5-year programme of expenditure by the Board. I have the consent of the Treasurer to this inclusion in Hansard.
An examination of. the table shows that of the 6 treatment works proposed the 2-major undertakings will be at Malabar, at a cost of $32m. and North Head, at a cost of $20m. Both projects will not be completed by 1973-74. lt should be noted, too, that the Board will be faced with a deficit of $ 1 6.59m by 1975-76. Extra loan moneys will have to be allocated to the Board. I point out that these estimates do not include provision for a proposed submarine outlet to be extended some 7 miles out to sea. This would cost a further $25m to $30m. These estimates of the Water Board give the cost of only discharging sewage into the ocean off Sydney.
There has been much argument by experts about the rights and wrongs of discharging sewage into the ocean and I believe that there should be a complete examination of Sydney’s unique position where there are magnificent beaches stretching for 20 miles south and north of the harbour entrance. These beaches should be protected no matter what the cost. They can be saved only with the Commonwealth’s co-operation and with its provision of finance and technical skills. Other alternatives could be examined. For example, Dr
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I. suppose there is no-one who is associated with any form of government who would not agree that local government should receive greatly increased funds for its normal operations. I do not intend to wake a statistical comparison between what the present Government would claim should -be done and the record of governments that have preceded it in gradually and continuously increasing the funds that are made available to local government. What 1 should like to do is to give one or two examples from my own practical experience as a shire chairman, deputy chairman and member of a harbour board under a Labor government in Queensland. 1 would issue this in the form of a challenge, lt would be interesting for some honourable member to produce a record of the funds made available for the development of areas, other than the metropolitan area, in Queensland during that long and unworthy term of government by the Australian Labor Party. It is all very well for an honourable member to get up and read a speech and give statistics. I find that members of the Opposition have a manoeuvrability and can get up .and claim they can do this or do that. I suppose I am one of those unfortunate people who will never get this manoeuvrability because 1 w 11 never have an opportunity of sitting on the Opposition benches.
Let me get back to the value of practical experience in local government. I - do not know what experience the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren), who gets up and says that the States have starved local government authorities, has had in local government or semi-government bodies. I do not know what experience the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has had in this very hard school. One may ask: What have I done in local government bodies? My whole adult lifetime has been spent as a member of local government or semi-government bodies. I have had a pretty tough road to hoe. I was at one time chairman of the shire which controlled Mount Isa. Let me tell the House about this practical experience of which 1 have been talking. When 1 was chairman of that shire the restrictions on the use of water, which is a pretty important commodity, in Mount lsa were such that the water was turned off at 6 o’clock each night. The people of Mount Isa just could not get any water at all after that time. 1 went down’ to Brisbane and pleaded with the Labor Government that then controlled Queensland to do something about this situation. I do not think there was a branch of the Australian Labor Party in that town which did not plead with that Government, which was based in Brisbane and whose thoughts never got beyond the Great Dividing Range. These are the sorts of people who today have been saying that this Commonwealth Government should give increased funds and increased consideration to local government authorities.
Another exercise would be to examine the record of achievements by local government authorities under the jurisdiction of the Labor Government in the State of Queensland in relation to the bituminising of streets and the provision of kerbing and channelling and all those things that normally come with the development of areas controlled by local authorities. I suppose we must admit that local authorities are dependent on State governments for finance but above all for consideration. The honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross), who will follow me in this debate, lives in a city that has developed dramatically under its present Lord Mayor. It would be political humbug for anyone to take credit away from the Lord Mayor for his achievements in that city. However, I think he himself would readily admit that his achievements would not have been possible if it were not for a considerate government, a government with which he has worked very closely. He has had the best of relations with the various Ministers for Local Government and Electricity in Queensland. So here is an example of cooperation by a State government with local government authorities, not an example of a State government starving the Brisbane City Council of funds to develop this great city. These ideas for development were initiated by the present Lord Mayor of Brisbane. 1 do not take this credit away from him for one moment.
But it is futile and political humbug to get up here and claim that this Federal Government is falling down on the job. I would say that there is a great need for local government authorities generally to have a new deal in their relationship with the Federal Government. I say this without for a moment suggesting that the responsibilities, the authority or the sovereignty of the State governments should in any way be interferred with. But 1 have always maintained that if we want effective and telling decentralisation the most effective way of producing it is to give greater responsibilities to’ local government authorities and to give them the finance that will permit them to meet these added responsibilities. I have always expressed this thought - 1 expressed it at the Australian Council of Local Government annual conference held in Melbourne earlier this year, so it is not something new - there should be representation of local government authorities at the Australian Loan Council discussions. I do not mean by that their representatives should be there to interfere with the discussions that should take place and the representations that should be made by the Ministers for Local Government and the various other people who may be present at those discussions. But 1 do feel that if they are not permitted to make representations at the Loan Council meetings they should most certainly be able to approach the Treasurer annually to place their own case before him, not with the object of securing funds directly from the Commonwealth but of bringing home directly from local government authorities to the Federal Treasurer the burdens which local government bodies carry at this time.
I come a little nearer to home. .In the outback areas of this nation - and this would apply to almost every State - we see a problem which is an international one. There is a trend for people to move away from rural areas to the city. Therefore the rating capacity of the rural areas becomes less and less. I believe that this situation should be very closely examined al all government levels. I think it is becoming serious enough to warrant an inquiry, noi by a select committee, but something of greater consequence, to look into the problems of local authorities and their finances. I can well understand the Leader of the Opposition getting up and reading what was prepared for him. I must assume that his remarks must almost exclusively be applied to netropolitan municipalities. 1 know this is quoted again and again, but we never have «ny reason to believe that the Leader of the Opposition has ever altered a point of view which he expressed in very explicit and strong terms when he addressed the Australian Planning Institute in 196S in Sydney. On that occasion he said: ‘Cities and civilisation go hand in hand. By derivation civilised men are those who live in cities; pagans are those who live in the country’. As long as 1 am in this House I have a role to play together with my colleagues in this section of the House, and that is to fight vigorously for those alleged pagans. If the Leader of the Opposition likes to refer to us as Thor, Woden or Mars, we will accept it. But let it never be forgotten. There are 2 things about the- Leader’ of the Opposition that will linger forever in my memory. The first is the comment by him to which I have referred and the second is the fact that he stood in front of this House and addressed 1,200 people under 2 Vietcong flags.
– The honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) said that there were several things that would forever remain within his mind. In the speech which he has made J found that he spoke in a confused way on a number of matters and that he was evasive and divisive. First he put forward a number of his own experiences in local government matters in Queensland. None of us would deny any of these experiences, but he put them in such a way as to attack a previous Labor Government of Queensland. At the time when he went to Brisbane seeking an increased water supply for the shire of which he was a member, he was a member of the Australian Labor Party. At. a later time when unhappy events occurred in the Australian Labor Party in that State he was one of the gentlemen who sided with every Cabinet Minister bar one when the split in the Labor Party took place.
I think it ill behoves him to be political about his approaches at that time. The Labor Government, it is true, made its mistakes like anyone else. But the Labor Government in Queensland after the Second World War made a survey of Queensland’s natural resources and set under way development programmes some of which continue to the present time. The largest irrigation work carried out by any government in Queensland was the Tinaroo scheme, which was carried out for a long period of time by a Labor government. It may be that the honourable member for Kennedy is confused by the fact that the foundation stone bears the name of a Country Party Premier. But may I assure him that the scheme originated from and was planned by a Labor Government. The very city which is the centre of his electorate - Mount lsa - owes its prosperity to Mt lsa Mines Ltd. 1 would like the honourable member for Kennedy to read a book by Blainey entitled ‘Mines in the Spin if ex’ which points out that, without the assistance of the State Labor government over many years, thai enterprise would not exist now. In addition to this, I would like the honourable member to read about the way in which the Country Party-Nationalist pArty government of the depression days declined assistance to Mt Isa Mines Lid and nearly put it out of business. So much for the north of Queensland and the matters raised by the honourable member for Kennedy.
The Australian Labor Party has raised for discussion today this matter of public importance because local government is important. The functions of government are to ensure the well being, comfort, health, education and betterment of people wherever they may live. We have the misfortune to live under a federal system. We all know the background to that system and the compromise that took place. We all know the differing background of local government in this country as compared with overseas. The facts of the matter are that this federal system is used by people at all levels of government to pass the buck. There is no level of government to which this more aptly or more readily applies than local government. In Great Britain and in Western (Europe, national government arose out of local government Local government therefore is stronger and. in most cas?s, much better financed than it is in this country.
Local government in Australia, as a level of State government and State administration, by and large arose out of the convict settlements and the old authoritarian governments as set up before Australia had representative government in 1S52. Australian local government has never recovered from its origins or from the fact that it is a level of delegated responsibility from the State governments. The Brisbane City Council, whose case and some of whose special disabilities I intend to p’ace before the House very briefly, is 3 months older than the State of Queensland, lt has a budget larger than that of Tasmania, lt has many budgetary problems. These are obvious in the Brisbane City Council because they all can be put together in the one document.
Greater Brisbane amalgamated 20 !o;al authorities and several boards at the time it was formed. In the other State capitals, these responsibilities are carried out still by a multitude of small local authorities and many boards. They are not carried out .as economically, soundly or efficiently as they are administered by the centralised administration of the city of Brisbane. I thank the honourable member for Kennedy for the kind remarks that he made about the present Lord Mayor and administration for their very substantial achievements in Brisbane. But there are a number or ways in which this centralised scheme in Brisbane is disadvantaged financially and 1 feci that in some of these fields avenues exist for Commonwealth assistance. Allow me to give the House some examples.
Firstly, the Brisbane City Council carries a substantial transport deficit. This is brought about by the fact that transport in the city, with the exception of railways, is the function of the local government. In Sydney and Melbourne, for example, these transport deficits are carried by the State government concerned. This means that the Commonwealth Government through its taxation reimbursements assists to pay the transport deficits in Sydney, Melbourne and other southern capitals whereas this charge is carried by the ratepayers in the city of Brisbane.
Again, certain Commonwealth activities cast an increased burden on local government. I will give some examples of this. The city of Brisbane makes concessions to pensioners, both repatriation and social services, by way of transport passes and other concessions, lt grants very substantial rates concessions to pensioners. In the southern capitals, these transport concessions would be made by State government authorities and, to some extent, the cost of those concessions would be met by taxation reimbursements from the Commonweailth.
Further, Brisbane has a major airport at Eagle Farm where a new terminal will be built - we hope rather sooner than later - and the very complex installation that will rise there with Commonwealth expenditure will impose needs on the city of Brisbane for roads or for rapid transport access by railway or the like to that airport. Again, a substantial measure of this cost accrues to the local government authority. I believe that the Commonwealth Government could make grants to local authorities to assist them in matters such as airports where the Commonwealth has the responsibility to provide the facility but where the provision of that facility imposes a great burden on the relevant local authority.
Other Commonwealth activities cause concern to local authorities. I have had some complaints from individual electors living downstream from the Enoggera Army camp in Brisbane. Recently, the developments undertaken there - the cutting down of trees and the erection of further buildings - have meant that when a decent downpour of rain or a period of heavy rainfall occurs in Brisbane people are being flooded in this area because of drainage problems. So, the development of this defence installation has meant an increase in cost by the provision of additional drainage facilities to the Brisbane City Council. 1 believe, and the Australian Labor Party believes, that more pan be done by the Commonwealth to assist local authorities directly. I know than an improvement was made as far as the cities are concerned by the provisions of the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act which grant financial aid to local authorities. But, in relation to that scheme, the Queensland Government has channeled most of the money to the Main Roads Department. Only $670,000 came in the last financial year to the Brisbane City Council. The Main Roads Department, which is required to spend a certain amount of its money in urban areas, spent millions of dollars on work but nothing really went back to the local authority.
I believe that the Commonwealth could look at the question of paying rates to local authorities in respect of Commonwealth property. In the last financial year the provisions which enabled the Commonwealth not to pay rates on Commonwealth owned land cost the Brisbane City Council $212,000. 1 believe that in many other ways the Commonwealth Government could assist local authorities. We, on the Labor side of this Parliament, do not believe that the Commonwealth Government should do what the State governments do with regard to local government. The State governments shrug their shoulders and regard local government as a level of government which is no concern of theirs. Local government is the form of government closest to the people, ft is tremendously important to the people. It is time that the Commonwealth Government was involved directly in the problems of local government.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, there were 2 intriguing features of the contribution by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and I wish to spend just a few. moments referring to the 2 features. The Leader of the Opposition has raised for discussion as a matter of public importance the relation of the Commonwealth Government to local government and semi-government authorities in this country. We had an attitude of decentralisation of power as a background to his speech. The intriguing feature about this is that the Leader of the most centralist Party in its own power distribution in the Anglo-Saxon world - except the Communist Party - would find the occasion appropriate to raise for discussion as a matter of public importance a subject concerning the fate, the existence and the welfare of] local government and semigovernment authorities. That is the first paradox.
The second one is a little more intriguing. The Leader of the Opposition demonstrated his own version of history. He said that he would go back to the time of Disraeli. I always find it intriguing that a leader of a Labor Party would find it appropriate to go back to Disraeli, more specifically, to the days of the 1870s. We can only opine and hope that as a Leader of the Labor Party has has not adopted some of the social predelictions of Disraeli and perhaps he will adopt similar imperialist policies. It was said that in the election of 1874
Disraeli adopted the slogan - this was rendered in Latin; 1 am unable to do so - that ‘sanitation is everything’. It was a slogan that, appealed to the .Leader of the Opposition. I ask: When did the Leader first adopt this slogan? 1 come back to 1968. lt would be my hope that the Leader of the Opposition would not leave the House so readily. As I said, 1 take the position in 1968. One knows the political difficulties that the Leader of the Opposition underwent in 1968. It was in his speech during the Budget debate of that year that the Leader of the Opposition discovered that great mileage was to be made out of a concern with sewerage. We can go only a little bit further and say that perhaps like Disraeli, who was interested in his own Honours List, he had hopes of becoming a Privy Councillor.
One or two other matters concerning the Opposition’s attitude are worth comment. Clearly the Opposition shows an interest in local government and semi-government affairs in Australia - matters which are most distant from its concern. It shows least interest in those matters which are directly within its concern, its power and its authority. I intend to examine for a few moments the way in which the Opposition administers itself when it has authority in local affairs - when, for example, it has authority in terms of local councils in the great cities of Australia. Let me show how the Opposition manages its affairs in these circumstances. I will show that when the Labor Party has substantial power and authority in local affairs it raises rates and regressive charges more than any other body having authority in such affairs.
Let me give an illustration of what 1 mean by referring to the situation on the east coast. The Brisbane City Council is responsible for the largest local authority area in Australia and it is run substantially by the Labor Party. In the last 5 years land rates in the Brisbane local authority area have been increased by 59%. The increase has been exceeded by only one local authority area on the east coast of Australia. We might well ask ourselves who has raised rates more. Who has applied such regressive charges in a more vicious manner? Who has applied regressive charges that fall upon families, whether rich or poor, in a more indiscriminate manner? The honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) is very interested in these matters I can almost see him nodding his head in approval.
The only local authorities which have increased these rates more indiscriminately and to a greater extent are Labor dominated councils in Sydney and Melbourne. Let us look at the situation in the local government areas of Liverpool. Blacktown and Sutherland. I will then turn to the situation in Melbourne. I know that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Snedden) is most tenderly interested in these matters. I know that he is awaiting this information with a great deal of interest. The Sunshine Council in Victoria is under very strong Labor influence. In the last 5 years it has increased rates by more than 60%. These are the principles which the Party opposite implements in its administration of local authority affairs, lt increases those taxes and charges which are most regressive. It increases them in such a vicious manner as no other local authority in Australia would dare to copy. These are facts which it is impossible to refute.
The Leader of the Opposition has expressed a great deal of admiration for State and local authority administration in some other countries. Honourable members will remember his reference recently to the situation in Canada. He said that we should copy Canada’s administration of central government and provincial government affairs. He said that in these matters Canada is the exemplar’. We find ki Can-ida a degree of inequality between Provinces in the federal system, which the Leader of the Opposition finds as his exemplar, which would not be tolerated for a “moment in Australia. We find degrees of distress and unemployment in the Provinces of Canada which no government in Australia would tolerate for a moment. Yet the Leader of the Opposition has claimed that the administration of central government and provincial government affairs in Canada is the exemplar upon which this Government should pattern its activities. As in some other matters, the most charitable explanation to make is that the Leader of the Opposition has made these comparisons more out of ignorance and good will than out of knowledge, but one cannot be the substitute for the other.
I make a final point to the shadow treasurer. The Labor Party shows very little interest in local authority affairs at its own Federal Conference. Last year the Labor Party’s Federal Conference could not find time to include in its platform any reference to local authorities. It has a very muted and distant reference to local authorities under a section described as economic planning, but it was not inactive all the time. It passed a resolution about local authorities in these terms:
That the economic committee of the Australian Labor Party would investigate the possibility and report on the practicability of including in Labor’s fiscal policy certain matters concerning local authority affairs.
That report has not been made. The Party has done no work on this matter until today when, for reasons which have nothing to do with the welfare of the people, it has been able to dredge up this matter for discussion. Again I would think that the most charitable comment one could make about this debate is that it was initiated more in ignorance than with a fund of knowledge. The people who have the misfortune to exist under Labor controlled councils are well aware that theirs are the areas subject to the most regressive and highest rates in Australia. It is our intention to see that such principles of taxation and charges are not brought into the national government.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired. The discussion is now concluded.
Consideration resumed from 4 June (vide page 3023).
– The Government is opposed to the amendment for the reasons explained by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) in his speech in the second reading debate. I recall the attention of the Committee to those comments.
That the words proposed to be omitted (Dr Patterson’s amendment) stand part of the Bill.
The Committee divided. (The Deputy Chairman - Mr J. Corbett)
Majority . . 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr Holten) - by leave - read a thirdtime.
Debate resumed from 15 April (vide page 1 1 38), on motion by Mr Hughes:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Bill before the House is the Civil Aviation (Offenders on International Aircraft) Bill 1970, the principal objective of which is to ratify an agreement that was entered into under the Tokyo Convention of 1963. This Bill deals with offences on aircraft and very briefly I will set out its provisions. It requires contracting States to provide for their criminal law to apply aboard their aircraft - that is, a flag law - on international flights, and it specifies that contracting states may exercise jurisdiction over offences committed on board aircraft. It defines the powers and responsibilities of the aircraft commander who finds that a person has committed or is about to commit a serious offence against the flag law of the aircraft or an act likely to endanger the safety of other persons on the aircraft. It also defines the powers and duties of contracting states in relation to offenders on board aircraft, including taking them into custody, making preliminary inquiries and deportation. Contracting states are required in cases of illegal seizure of aircraft to take all appropriate steps to restore control of the aircraft to its lawful commander. It is important to bear in mind that the Tokyo Convention does not apply to aircraft used in military, customs or police service or to aircraft that are on the ground. The Tokyo Convention definition of an aircraft on the ground relates to the period after the aircraft has landed and prior to when the motors are started for the aircraft to leave the terminal area.
The object of the Convention is to restore aircraft and cargo to the rightful owners and to facilitate the resumption oft heir interrupted flight. Any offence committed on the aircraft is not necessarily a crime against international law but it is determined by the internal law of the contracting states. Honourable members are entitled to ask just how the Tokyo Convention of 1963 came about. It was organised by the International Civil Aviation Organisation, better known as ICAO, which is a part of the United Nations Organisation. It has 116 member nations. That will give honourable members some idea of what ICAO is and the import of this Convention. It is obvious that nations today are greatly concerned with the amount of hijacking that is taking place. I will deal with this aspect later on.
One thing which concerns me very greatly is the fact that the recommendations of the Convention become operative as from 4th December 1969, although the conference was held in 1963. It has taken this Government all this time to make up its mind whether to ratify the agreement and whether there is any advantage in being a party to it. All honourable members are entitled to have some explanation for this delay. I am greatly concerned that the various nations have taken so long to ratify this agreement. WhenI sought information about this matter the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Hughes) supplied me with a table setting out the names of the countries which have ratified the agreement and certain other information. With the concurrence of honourable members I will incorporate that table in Hansard.
This table discloses that as at this date only 43 countries have signed the agreement and only 22 have ratified it. To me this is a disappointing state of affairs when one realises that there are some 116 member countries of ICAO who were represented at the conference. Yet with all the hijacking that is taking place in the world today only 22 countries have seen fit to ratify the agreement. This Government is one which until this time has not seen fit to make any recommendation on this matter or to bring down legislation in this Parliament. We have heard at different times the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) state very proudly that Australia ranks third in the world in the use of domestic aviation facilities, ninth in the world in international air traffic and sixth in total aircraft movements. In Australia, where civil aviation is so important, it has taken this Government some 7 years to make up its mind whether to ratify the agreement. Australia should have been one of the first countries to indicate where it stood and legislation should have been brought before this Parliament a long time ago.
Many countries have been lax in their efforts to sign the agreement. In fact the country most affected by hijacking, the United States of America, has been more lax than any other country. From the information which I have at my disposal it was not until 5th September 1969 that the United States saw fit to ratify the agreement. Since that conference was held in Tokyo a number of attempts have been made to gel other countries to sign and ratify the agreement. In fact at the International Civil Aviation Organisation Convention in Buenos Aires in September 1968 the USA raised the matter of unlawful hijacking of civil aircraft and as a result the Legal Committee of ICAO at its February meeting in 1969 asked all nations affiliated with ICAO first to ratify the Tokyo Convention and, if necessary, implement any additional legislation which the sub-committee of ICAO subsequently recommended. The recommendation which that Committee put forward was:
Any person who on board an aircraft in flight
unlawfully, by force or threat thereof, interferes with, seizes or otherwise wrongfully exercises control of that aircraft in order to change its itinerary, or
attempts to perform such an act, or
is an accomplice to a person who performs or attempts to perform such an act, shall be guilty of a penal offence.
The conference also made the following recommendation dealing with the extradition of hijackers:
This committee, which met in May 1969, set up from among its members a special committee of 1 1 members including, as I understand it, a representative of Australia, to deal with future acts of unlawful interference with civil aviation. The committee deals only with the aeronautical aspects of cases of hijacking and it has met frequently to consider the format of a questionnaire to be sent to the states concerned with aircraft incidents. The Committee is also examining the general problem of hijacking with a view to recommending action to discourage and prevent unlawful interference with aircraft, based on discussions the committee has had with other interested international bodies. I might at this stage ask the Attorney-General to indicate in his reply what progress has been made by this Committee. I personally have not been able to obtain positive information as to what actual results the committee has had and what countries have elected to bring in additional legislation, if necessary, to discourage and prevent, whenever possible, the hijacking of aircraft. As I said earlier I would like later to deal with this matter further.
As recently as last Friday a report appeared in the Press of an incident which occurred in the US in which some fellow who had a hate on with the Taxation Department in that country had felt that he had been badly treated over some paltry sum of about $430 went to the extent of hijacking an aircraft. If he had been successful he could have brought about the destruction of that aircraft and the loss of the lives of the people on board. It is obvious that that individual was mentally deranged in some way or another and was suffering from an intense persecution complex. This is the kind of problem which faces those countries which are trying to do something about the problem of hijacking. As I said, I would appreciate n if the Minister could give to honourable members some indication of what has happened about the recommendations made by the Legal Committee of ICAO.
In December 1969 Australia joined with 27 other sponsors in the United Nations in proposing draft legislation for adoption by the Sixth Committee which is the Legal Committee of the UN. We also joined with other states in publicly deploring violent interference with international civil aviation which endangers the lives of persons in no way involved with political conflicts in some areas of the world. At the TwentyFourth General Assembly of the United Nations the question of hijacking was again taken up in the Sixth Committee, and it might be of interest to honourable members if I were to read the resolution ultimately adopted by that Committee on 1 2th December 1969. The item is General Assembly Resolution 2551 and it states:
The General Assembly,
Deeply concerned over acts of unlawful interference wilh international civil aviation, Considering it necessary to recommend effective measures against hijacking in all its forms or any other unlawful seizure or exercise of control of aircraft,
Mindful thai such acts may endanger the life and health of passengers and crew in disregard of commonly accepted humanitarian considerations,
Aware that international civil aviation can only function properly in conditions guaranteeing the safety of its operations and the due exercise of the freedom of air travel,
Calls upon States to take every appropriate measure to ensure that the respective national legislations provide an adequate framework for effective legal measures against all kinds of acts of unlawful interference with, seizure of, or other wrongful exercise of control by force of treat thereof over, civil aircraft in flight;
Urges States in particular to ensure that persons on board who perpetrate such acts are prosecuted;
Urges full support for the efforts of the International Civil Aviation Organisation directed towards the speedy preparation and implementation of a convention for appropriate measures, inter alia, with respect to making the unlawful seizure of civil aircraft a punishable offence and to the prosecution of persons who commit that offence:
Invites States to ratify or accede to the Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft, signed in Tokyo on September 14. 1963, in conformity with the Convention.
The Tokyo Convention had been ratified only a matter of 8 days prior to that. It was ratified or became law on 4th December 1969 and this resolution was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations only some 8 days later, lt is clear that members of the General
Assembly were fairly unanimous in adopting the Convention. Once again that indicates the concern of people throughout the world about the extent of hijacking.
The United States further disclosed its concern because on 16th December it convened a conference in Washington. Thirteen countries were invited to attend that conference to discuss what could be done about hijacking. Once again Australia was one of the countries to be invited. The conference unanimously agreed that hijacking seriously threatened the safely of international civil aviation; that solutions should be sought by all available means; and that a comprehensive and co-ordinated approach with maximum international cooperation was essential. It was also agreed that all states which had not already ratified the Tokyo Convention should be urged to do so as soon as possible. In the meantime, pending the enactment of national legislation it was decided that other countries should implement the provisions of Article 11 of the Tokyo Convention dealing with hijacking as though they had ratified the Convention. So that honourable members will know what is contained in Article 11 of the Convention I will read it. It states:
Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft
It is obvious to honourable members from all of these resolutions which have been carried - at the Tokyo Convention in 1963, then in subsequent meetings in Buenos Aires of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, the reference to ICAO’s legal committee, the resolution of the United Nations, then the United States convening a conference of countries interested in this matter - that hijacking is causing great concern today in civil aviation circles.
Fortunately we in Australia have been lucky. 1 think we have only had 1 offence that could be classified as hijacking. On 14th May this year some fellow boarded one of Ansett’s aircraft and demanded to be taken to Brisbane. I would say that that was possibly the nearest offence to hijacking that has taken place in Australia.
– He must have been insane.
– Let us put it this way: Probably he was under great stress. I have some figures with me which make interesting reading. They disclose that a lot of the people who have hijacked aircraft throughout the world likewise have been under great mental stress at the time. So far as Australia is concerned, internally we have an Act called the Crimes (Aircraft) Act which was introduced by this Government in 1963. Information I have discloses that there have been only 5 convictions under this legislation. They were as follows: In May 1965, impersonating a Commonwealth officer on board an aircraft, fined $20 plus costs; in December 1964, making a false statement inferring intention to endanger safety of an aircraft - a bomb hoax - a bond of $20 against good behaviour for 12 months. He got out of that charge pretty lightly. He also must have been a little bit upset. The next case was in August 1965 when a person was charged with being in possession of a firearm on an aircraft. This resulted in the imposition of a $200 good behaviour bond for 2 years and $200 surety. The next case was in August 1967 when the charge was one of making a false statement inferring intention to endanger safely of an aircraft - a bomb hoax - for which the fine imposed was $75. In April 1968, a person was charged with carrying explosives and other dangerous goods while a passenger on an international flight. This resulted in a fine of $300 plus costs. That was the first time we got fair dinkum. Then, under the New South Wales Crimes Act, in November. 1964 a person was charged with larceny involving an aircraft. That person received a bond and surety of $200 plus compensation for damages. In March 1968 a person was imprisoned for 18 months for the illegal use of an aircraft.
Of all those charges there are probably only 2 cases in which we were fair dinkum; first, under the Commonwealth legislation, when a person was fined $300 for carrying explosives and other dangerous goods on an international flight, and secondly, in March 1968 when a person was imprisoned for 18 months for illegally using an aircraft. At this stage I do not know what has happened to the fellow who tried to hire an aircraft, or borrow it, to take him from Sydney to Brisbane.
Taken all round the situation is quite satisfactory. The Crimes (Aircraft) Act imposes severe penalties because a person who takes control of an aircraft by force or violence or by the threat of either can suffer a penalty of up to 20 years imprisonment. The death sentence is applied if there is destruction of an aircraft with intent to kill or with reckless indifference for life. The Crimes (Aircraft) Act applies to any Australian or foreign aircraft, either in flight between 2 Australian States or Territories, or between Australia and overseas countries, or any aircraft wholly outside of Australia. There are also air navigation regulations which prohibit the carrying of firearms on an aircaft, even by the crew. These regulations preventing people from carrying firearms on board an aircraft are excellent ones. There is an exception in that approval can be obtained from the Director-General of Civil Aviation.I think it is as well to make sure that air crews are not allowed to take firearms on board because many things can happen. If a pistol or gun is fired on board an aircraft many things could happen which could bring about the destruction of that aircraft. The cabin of a pressurised airliner could be depressurised; the oxygen lines could be hit and this in turn could cause a fire or explosion; some electrical gear could be broken which could cause a short circuit resulting in the aircraft catching fire.
From Australia’s point of view we may have covered the internal position fairly well. Australia is fortunate not to be faced with the turmoil that exists elsewhere in the world today. The United States has huge racial problems and is faced with the proximity of Cuba. There is general turmoil today in the United States and South America. The same can be said about Europe and the Middle East where wars and hatred exist. We have our political differences in Australia but we are not faced with the problems that exist in other countries. It is interesting to look briefly at the facts and figures. This legislation does cover the eventuality of crimes aboard aircraft but the main thing to remember is that in these instances we are dealing with people. The whole problem is that when dealing with people one has to contend with all sorts of things. I have some interesting figures contained in an extract from the ‘American Journal of International Law’, volume 63 of October 1969. It gives a list of the successful aircraft hijackings between 1st January 1968 and 8th September 1969 and also the States of registration of the successfully hijacked aircraft and the United States air carriers which have had aircraft hijacked between 17th February 1968 and 8th September 1969. The document is available in the Parliamentary Library. I understand that the American Journal of International Law’ is a reputable journal that is published in the United States of America. With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate it in Hansard.
These tables disclose that from 1st January 1948 until the end of 1960 there were 135 hijackings. In the period from 1st January 1969 to 8th September 1969 there were 46 hijackings and in 1968 there was a total of 30. For the whole of 1969 there were approximately 60 hijackings. So one can see that out of a total of 135 hijackings 90 occurred in the years 1968 and 1969. It is obvious that in those 2 years there was a substantial increase. I do not want to make a speech about Communism versus the West but 1 want to draw attention to the fact that none of the Communist countries has signed the Tokyo Convention. Yet if one examines the table that has been incorporated in Hansard one will find that Communist countries are subjected to hijacking as are other countries. Bulgaria has had 1 hijacking, Cuba has had 7, Czechoslovakia has had 7, Hungary has had 2 and Poland has had 1 . I am referring to the period from 1948 to 1969. I have not taken into consideration the case that was reported at the weekend in which a young fellow held a bomb at the pilot’s head and said: ‘Right. Take me off to Denmark or else we will all go.’ Poland had had 1 hijacking prior to that. Rumania has had 2 hijackings, the Soviet Union has had 1 and Yugoslavia has had 2.
It is interesting to note that the United Kingdom has had only 1 hijacking. I understand that that occurred in 1967 when a charter aircraft carrying Mr Tshombe was forced to land in Algiers. After that took place those concerned with the hijacking removed Mr Tshombe from the aircraft and the aircraft was permitted to leave. These figures give some indication of the extent of hijacking in the world today. It may be of interest to honourable members to take a cross-section of the events that have taken place. In 1961 a United States aircraft was detained for 3 weeks in an effort to recover certain Cuban aircraft which had been attached by a court order in the United States. The Cubans tried to blackmail the Americans into releasing some of their aircraft in return for the aircraft that had been hijacked to Cuba and which they, were holding. Finally a settlement was made on the basis that the American company received back its airliner and the Cubans obtained some patrol boats which had been detained by the American authorities. A Venezuelan aircraft was detained in Cuba for 4 days while the Cubans demanded 531,466. On another occasion an American aircraft was hijacked to Cuba and on the way over the hijacker demanded the personal belongings of the passengers. When the aircraft arrived in Cuba the Cubans returned the money to the passengers. I give these few examples because I want to convey to honourable members that while most of the hijackings take place while aircraft are flying from America to Cuba, Cuba is not altogether a mecca for hijackers. On many occasions the Cubans have detained hijackers and many of them are still in prison in that country today.
As I said earlier, countries are greatly concerned about hijacking today. When one realises that between January 1968 and October 1969 on American , aircraft alone 2,916 passengers and crew have been hijacked one gets some idea of the number of people involved. Therefore the Bill that is before the House is worthy of consideration. In the Middle East we have seen some fairly vicious actions. Aircraft have been blown up and attempts have been made to destroy aircraft. We have read in the news the stories* - I do not know whether they are distorted but it is claimed that they are factual - of gun fights having taken place between Arab guerillas and security guards on Israeli aircraft. There was a case in August 1969 of a Trans World Airline Boeing 707 aircraft being held by the Syrians. When the passengers, with the exception of some of the Israelis, were released Trans World Airlines got their 707 back. These are some of the things which have occurred and which 1 think are worthy of mention.
I have in my possession some information released by the United States Department of Justice during 1969 which discloses the types of people who are hijacking aircraft in the United States. The summary which has been made available covers the period to which I have referred. Of the people known to have hijacked aircraft 14 had criminal records, 4 were wanted for offences ranging from passing bad cheques to the attempted murder of a policeman, 3 were military deserters, 2 had domestic relations difficulties and 6 were discontented with living in the United States of America. Cuban refugees and American citizens were dissatisfied with life in the United States and the refugees decided to go back home. They hijacked some aircraft. There were 3 cases of kidnapping for political reasons. One of them involved a Cuban who had become an American citizen. The aircraft was hijacked in order to kidnap the captain. In addition to the cases I have mentioned, 10 mentally disturbed people were involved in hijackings. Honourable members can see from these facts that very few of the people involved in hijacking in the United States of America are people who want to get out of the country for political reasons. The cases that concern me most are those involving the 10 mentally disturbed people. Such people do not think clearly. They have an obsession of some type or other. There was a case last week of a fellow in an aircraft in America who had a persecution complex against the United States Supreme Court and the taxation department. He felt that he had been wrongly treated by them. Such people are liable to do anything.
Every effort should be made to stop hijacking. As to how that is to be done, Mr Deputy Speaker, your guess is as good as mine. Between 196 1 and 1969 in the United States of America 24 people were arrested on charges ranging from piracy to concealing weapons. Of these 13 cases have been disposed of and the remainder are still awaiting court action.
It is interesting to see just who were involved. There were 8 adults convicted and sentenced to terms of imprisonment ranging from 1 to 21 years. Four servicemen were court martialled, 4 juveniles were sent to reformatories, and one person was acquitted on the grounds of insanity. Records of hijackings have been kept from 1961 until 1969. Four of the people who had successfully hijacked aircraft to Cuba had returned to America. One came back via Mexico. Three of them who came back via Mexico finished up in Canada, and the Canadian Immigration Department caught up with these people and deported them to the United States of America. Of all those people who have been responsible for hijacking aircraft to Cuba, some have gone back to America and found themselves in trouble. No doubt they were the people who were given sentences ranging from 1 to 21 years.
One could give numerous examples of the hijacking which has taken place. I do not propose to do that. I feel that I have fairly extensively described the types of people who are hijacking aircraft today. I feel this gives the impression of what is taking place. Whilst the Bill sets out to ratify the Tokyo Convention, I do not know whether it will do any good. When you decide to have hare pie, you first of all have to catch the hare. The same principle applies here. Before we can deal with the hijacker we have to catch him. The main thing is to stop the hijacking. As I have said, there were 135 cases of hijacking up to the end of last year. Judging by the figures, very few of these people have been apprehended. I do not know what the real solution to the problem is. I do not know whether this legislation will be of any great value internationally, because up to date, as I said earlier, we have not had the strain of a hijacking. None of our aircraft have been involved in it as Australian carriers. We are very fortunate in this, and let us hope that it continues in this way.
However, I feel that there are probably a number of things that could help to overcome this problem. For example, a young fellow who hijacked an aircraft to get out of Poland late last week held a hand grenade at the head of the pilot and said: “You either take me to Copenhagen or you will go to other places.’ Greater freedom of movement between countries may have the effect of minimising hijacking. Those people who are dissatisfied with living conditions in the United States at least should be allowed to leave the country and . return to Cuba. This could also be said about the Pole, and about people living in East Germany or Czechoslovakia. Al] of these people wanted to get out of the country. I know that it is difficult to get out of some countries. It is much more difficult to get out than it is to get in. But I feel that the freer movement of people between countries is one of the methods that should be looked at on an international level. If a person does not want to live in a country, why should he be compelled to stay there? If he wants to get out, the Government of the day should release him. I know it is easy to say that when we live in this country where movement is quite free. In other countries this does not apply and the authorities have pretty hard ideas on it. I make this plea and express the opinion that it would eliminate at least some of the hijackings. It would not have eliminated the hijackings that took place in the Middle East in recent years when the hijackers have set out to get people. It would not have eliminated the hijacking of the British aircraft on which Tshombe was a passenger. The hijackers were out to get that person and they got him. But at least where people want to move from one country to another they should be allowed to do so. Barriers or prohibitions should not be placed on their movement.
As far as dealing with hijackers is concerned, I think that the Communist and Fascist countries have the same problems. If honourable members read the paper that I tabled earlier they will find that Portugal and Spain, which are Fascist countries in my opinion, have had the problem of aircraft being hijacked. The Fascist countries, the Communist countries, and the Western powers all have the problem of hijacking. They have to get together. I know the Convention makes provision for it. I know that the International Civil Aviation Organisation at the Buenos Aires Conference in 1968 made recommendations in relation to the deportation of people. I think the authorities have to get together on this and make sure that when a hijacker takes an aircraft into a country the same situation does not- apply as applied to aircraft taken to Sweden or the aircraft which was hijacked last week and taken to Copenhagen. In those cases the persons concerned were dealt with by the court in that country. There is only one way to settle it and that is to send the hijackers back to the country from which they came. Then they will know that when they hijack an aircraft they will not get away. When they land the aircraft in some place they will be deported back to the country from which they came. T think this will eliminate some of the hijacking that occurs when people do not want to live in a country. If they want to leave they should be allowed to leave. I know that has problems too. That is airy-fairy and it sounds good, but we know in international affairs today it is not a practical proposition. But at least it is a practical proposition for the various countries to get together and say: Any hijacker who lands in our country will immediately be deported to the country from which he came.’ They should be able to get some agreement on that.
The International Federation of Airline pilots and its various branches - the American Airlines Pilots Association, the British Airline Pilots Association and our own people here in Australia - have been talking about imposing an embargo on flying aircraft to any country which does not penalise a hijacker. To my way of thinking this is certainly outside international law. They “are taking the law into their own hands. But to me it is common sense. If ah aircraft is being flown from one country to another that is not prepared to observe the terms and principles of the Tokyo Convention and to penalise those people who hijack aircraft, I agree that the International Federation of Airline Pilots should say: That country is out. We will not fly any aircraft into that country until such times as it adopts the principles of the Tokyo Convention and is prepared to penalise hijackers.’ I know that is taking the law into your own hands, but I think it is possibly one of the most effective ways of dealing with those people who want to hijack aircraft just for the sake of getting away from a particular place.
There is a lot of talk in airline circles today of X-raying passengers, their luggage and the cargo. I think we have to realise what is involved because of the numbers of people who are travelling today. Just imagine the number of airports throughout the world today which deal wilh internal services. Australia is an island continent and all of our aircraft operating internally are controlled completely here. When we consider that flying from .one country to another in Europe is just like Hying from Sydney to Melbourne or Sydney to Brisbane, we have to try to appreciate the difficulties of these countries. It would be a mammoth task to introduce equipment that will X- ray the passengers, their luggage and the cargo which is going on board an aircraft to try to find whether they are carrying any bombs or whether they have any firearms in their possession. All that could be done is to try to get a line on the people who have troubles and investigate them. This in itself is a mammoth task. 1 think the Australian Post Office has made a practical approach to this problem in relation to mail sent to Israel, i understand that if a person wants to send a parcel to Israel he has to deliver it to the Post Office in an unwrapped or an open condition. The officer accepting the parcel examines it and says: ‘Yes, that is all right. There are no bombs in this. There are no firearms. There is no risk of you blowing up an aircraft.’ Possibly that is one way of countering the destruction of aircraft. I would not like to estimate the cost, first of all, of installing X-ray equipment at every international airport and, secondly, of operating it. To me it is a mammoth task, lt all comes back to the countries themselves getting together. I think there should be greater co-operation between the various countries. Countries may have different political ideologies but they should come together and work together to try to solve this problem which is not confined to any one country. Whilst America has the greatest number of aircraft hijackings a number of other countires experience the same problem.
The Opposition supports this measure. 1 personally question whether it will achieve anything of any great moment but at least it is an attempt by countries that are troubled by and have a major problem with the hijacking of aircraft to meet the situation. We are prepared to have Australia sign the Convention, even though it is a belated signature, it having taken the Government almost 7 years to decide to ratify the Convention. We support it because we think it is a step in the right direction.
– Despite the fact that my voice will not last very long because of an infection from which I am suffering, I feel so concerned about this matter, as a onetime commercial pilot, that I will speak until either my voice runs out or I am lucky enough to get through all I want to say. This Bill is designed to give effect under Australian law to the Tokyo Convention, which refers only to registered aircraft while they are engaged in flights outside the State of registration - that is, on international flights. The honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) gave sufficient detail on this aspect so I will not take up the time of the House or use my voice in speaking about it. The International Civil Aviation Organisation convention defines the powers and duties of States in relation to persons who have committed serious offences on board aircraft, such as taking them into custody, making preliminary inquiries and deporting them. The primary purpose of this Bill is to approve of Australia’s accession to the Convention and to give the provisions of the Convention the force of law in Australia.
It is time something was done urgently about this problem. I know that the honourable member for Newcastle expressed opinions of disgust and fear from persons all over the world about what can happen to an aircraft in flight and the passengers in it when people take the law into their own hands. Most of them know nothing about aeroplanes. It is not as though they have any skill. They may have a knife and grab a passenger or member of the crew, or they may threaten with a bomb, and there is no question of their having the knowledge to handle the aircraft. They would not know the effect of half the things they set out to do, and that is why their actions are so very dangerous.
The Crimes (Aircraft) Act of 1963 does give us some control in this matter. The offences outlined in that Act need some stressing. We do have a considerable amount of power under this Act in respect of persons who take or exercise control of an aircraft without lawful excuse, whether by force or violence or bv threat of force or violence to wilfully destroy an aircraft; persons who wilfully destroy an aircraft; persons who do anything capable of prejudicing the safe operation of an aircraft with intent to prejudice safe operation; who assault, intimidate or threaten with violence a member of the crew; and who threaten, or state an intention either truly or falsely to destroy, damage or endanger the safety of an aircraft. We do have some problems of this sort in Australia. We have had only 1 case, and the honourable member for Newcastle mentioned this, where recently a nut tried to get an Ansett aircraft to fly to Perth. However there have been several bomb hoaxes and other incidents. A bomb hoax is very bad because one does not know whether there is a bomb in an aircraft that is going to go off. Under the Government’s 1963 Crimes (Aircraft) Act penalities are provided in respect of Australian aircraft engaged in interstate, territorial and international flights. That Act deals with a much wider sphere than the Tokyo Convention.
The Act also makes provision with regard lo foreign aircraft in Australia or engaged in flights over Australia. The commander of an aircraft is authorised to arrest, without warrant, any person committing an offence on board the aircraft. We have a certain amount of strength in this regard in our legislation.
The relationship between the Tokyo Convention and our Act shows up the comparison that our Act does not provide for restoration of control of the hijacked aircraft to its lawful commander or owner. The legislation adopting the Tokyo Convention will give effect to this provision. The duties and powers of the Australian authorities in relation to offenders disembarked from foreign aircraft will be expanded by accession to the Tokyo Convention. Application of the provisions of the Tokyo Convention will be a valuable supplement to the Commonwealth Crimes (Aircraft) Act. In order to meet the - case of foreign states which are parties to the Convention and in which there are no extradition arrangements the new legislation will empower the Commonwealth to return, pursuant to Article 14 of the Convention, persons who have been disembarked, delivered or taken into custody as a result of involvement in the hijacking of an aeroplane.
In his concluding remarks the honourable member for Newcastle said that there should be some provision for returning hijackers to the country from which they come. If this were done consistently throughout the world we would have some influence on them. We could move in a concerted way against hijackers. As it is now it seems that once they get away from their country of origin they can do almost what they like. In December 1969 Australia joined with 27 other sponsors in proposing a draft resolution for adoption by the Sixth Committee of the Uniter Nations. The resolution adopted on 12th December 1969 said that the General Assembly of the United Nations was deeply concerned over acts of unlawful intereference with international civil aviation, considering it necessary to recommend effective measures against hijacking in all its forms. This was a resolution at the 24th General Assembly of the United Nations and related to the question of hijacking of aircraft. The resolution called upon states to take every appropriate measure. It urged the states in particular to ensure that persons on board who perpetrated such acts were prosecuted, lt urged full support for the efforts of the International Civil Aviation Organisation directed towards the speedy preparation and implementation of a convention for appropriate measures. It invited states to ratify or accede to the Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft signed in Tokyo.
There is tremendous concern all over the world with this problem and it is something that we really must do something about. In the interests of my own voice 1 do not think 1 should continue much longer. But before resuming my seat I would like to say a few more words. We have not suffered to any great extent from hijacking in this country but, as is often said, it can always happen here. In fact, 1 think I can claim to be one of the early would-be hijack victims. While I was flying a commercial aircraft somewhere southeast of Wyndham on one occasion a passenger became somewhat intoxicated and wished to hijack the aeroplane and land immediately because he was not feeling well. The honourable member for Newcastle mentioned the tremendous number of hijackings that have taken place. He said that well over 100 have taken place since 195.1 and that 55 aircraft bearing United States registration alone have been hijacked and in 54 cases Cuba was the destination. He made a suggestion, which I support, that not only the aircraft but the hijacker when apprehended should be returned home.
Under the regulations that apply in Australia the crew are not permitted to carry firearms on board an aircraft. They can carry a baton and a set of handcuffs. That seems a little old fashioned. 1 suppose that if one could get hold of a hijacker one could clap him in irons. Ratification of the Tokyo Convention would certainly be a step towards unifying the approach of all countries to the whole question of hijacking. 1 commend the Bill and say that the quicker that action - and more severe action - is taken the better.
Mr JAMES (Hunter) (5.33]- My contribution to this debate will be very brief, at the request of the Government, which is anxious to see that this legislation passes through this chamber within the next quarter of an hour. My colleague the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) did rather extensive homework on the Bill. 1 have not. 1 was inspired to speak to it after listening to contributions by honourable members. The Bill before the House is the Civil Aviation (Offenders on International Aircraft) Bill. I want to say definitely and positively that whilst we of the Australian Labor Party applaud this legislation I agree with the honourable mem.ber for Newcastle, who is in charge of the Bill from the Labor Party point of view, that it will do very little to achieve the goal it seeks to achieve.
I have said before in this Parliament, and I repeat, that what is wanted between the nations of the world are international extradition treaties. The world, because of international air travel, is becoming smaller and smaller each day. But this Government has really put the sliprails up against the introduction of international extradition treaties because of its attitude towards an eastern European country some years ago. When the present Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia was Attorney-General he made a statement in this House that he refused to hand over a war criminal who was responsible for some 3,000 or 4,000 deaths in a Balkan country - a crime of which there was overwhelming evidence. A request was made for this person to be handed over to the Soviet Union to be taken back to that country to be tried. There would be no need for this legislation if international extradition treaties existed between all countries.
The honourable member for Newcastle said he thought there would be Jess hijacking if people were allowed to move more freely from country to country. I agree with that submission, although I can sec some difficulties in it as far as it would apply to some of the eastern European countries. Why there have been so many hijackings of aircraft which have been directed to certain places by the hijackers is probably that people have been treated as I was treated by the American authorities when I was on my way to Brazil in 1962. Like any curious Australian, 1 was anxious to go into Cuba because it was in the world headlines. 1 was to travel through Las Vegas and Florida into Havana. But when I found that it was a little cheaper and more convenient to go through San Francisco, Los Angeles and Mexico, I got a visa for Cuba and Mexico and went into Havana through Merida. When I got to
Cuba I went to the office of the KLM airlines, where a man said to me: ‘Are you Mr James from the Parliament of Australia?’ I said: ‘Yes, sir’. He said: ‘You are not supposed to be here’. I said: ‘Why? What have I done?’ He said: ‘We have a visa waiver from Florida and we have been told that you should not be allowed in’.
If the American authorities are treating Cuban nationalists who are desirous of getting back to their own country because of unsatisfactory living conditions in America the same as they treated me, those people probably meet the same obstacles as I did. They are not allowed to go back and they are forced to hijack aeroplanes. A person would not have to be insensible to do this when the type of treatment I have described is meted out to him. I believe that it is probably still being meted out. It was meted out to me when I was travelling on an official Australian Government passport.
– Will the honourable member explain the Cuban part of that story again?
– I do not think that is necessary. I think the honourable member is trying to fool me. He is intelligent enough to know what I have said, and I think I speak clearly enough for all honourable members to hear. I am a little surprised at the honourable member for Lilley. He usually makes a wiser interjection than that. He may be suffering from the great strains of office because he is hanging on to a borderline seat up in Queensland and he will not be here much longer. I could have made other contributions to this debate which I think would have been beneficial to the Parliament, but having promised the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp), who is at the table, that I would be very brief, T conclude with the remarks and submission I have made.
– All I want to do is ask the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) who is at the table, what steps the Government has taken over recent years to get universal adherence to this international agreement. Since the 1 880s we have bad universal agreements covering various matters. The universal agreement covering the Post Office is one to which everyone has agreed and adhered. I recall writing in 1966 to a man in Hanoi. He got the letter and I eventually got my answer.
It was the British Consul-General I was writing to, I explain for the benefit of the -honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr Brown), who may not know where Hanoi is, being interested, as all young Liberals are, in keeping as far away from Vietnam as possible.
The international air travel system is one of the world’s greatest areas of co-operation. If a person buys a through ticket from Qantas Airways Ltd, the Australian international airline, he can use it on any airline in any country. Yet when we come to something which I believe is vital to the safety of the international air system we allow it to drift on, with only a handful of adherents to the treaty governing it. The treaty has been honoured more in the breach than in the observance. It would seem to me that until we have universal acceptance of that treaty and an absolute guarantee that the person who hijacks an aeroplane will be immediately arrested on land and returned to the country from which he came, we will get nowhere. ] think that would be the only way in which to deal with the hijacker. 1 want to know what this country, which is one of the world’s leading international airline operators, has done to bring about universal adherence to the treaty - or should I have given you notice of the question, Mr Minister?
– Mr Deputy Speaker, as the House knows, the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Hughes) is attending an important conference in Adelaide. He has asked me to carry this Bill for him. On the question without notice which the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) posed in his 2 minute speech, all I can say, at this short notice, is that Australia is a member of the International Civil Aviation Organisation and, as such, is playing its part, I believe, in bringing about precisely what the honourable gentleman advocates. At this stage, J cannot say any more to him in answer to the specific point that he raised. The honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) in leading for the Opposition, asked me a question concerning the progress of the Legal Committee of ICAO. which was established some lime ago.
– In L968.
– I am informed that it was established in 1968. My brief says that the Legal Committee has prepared a draft convention which will be considered by a diplomatic conference to be held at the Hague on 1st December next. The main provisions of this draft convention are, firstly, each contracting state undertakes to legislate to make it an offence punishable by severe penalties for a person aboard an aircraft to take control of it by force, threats or intimidation, or to attempt to do so; secondly, the jurisdiction of the state applies where an aircraft lands in that state with the offender still on board or when the offence is committed on an aircraft registered in that state; thirdly, any state in which an alleged offender is found shall take him into custody to enable criminal or extradition proceedings to bc commenced; and fourthly the state shall either extradite the offender or deal with him under its own laws.
The Assembly of this Organisation consists of representatives of all 118 member states. A special extraordinary meeting will be held from 16th to 30th June at the request of Switzerland, Austria and other European states. The agenda is: To develop adequate standards and procedures (a) to prevent criminal action which may endager the safety of air transport and (b) as to means by which offenders can be brought to justice. Under the first heading a number of proposals have been submitted for consideration at the meeting in relation to such matters as methods of detecting the presence of explosives in passengers’ luggage, searching passengers’ cargo and mail, preventing persons suspected of being saboteurs from travelling, and other measures directed towards greater security at airports. Under the second heading, proposals have been made for adopting an international convention in relation to acts of violence and sabotage against aircraft on the ground, the authority of the aircraft commander and uniform penalties for offences against persons on board aircraft.
A question was raised also - I think by the honourable member for Newcastle - about the delay in ratifying the convention. I think he mentioned 7 years which, indeed, is the period of the delay. 1 will not debate the point with him. I accept it. But I put to him that there was not the strongest argument for Australia itself to ratify the
Tokyo Convention before 1969 because, as the honourable gentleman would know, 12 ratifications from other member states to that convention need to be notified before it can come into force. It is my understanding that it was not until 4th December 1969 that the requisite number of countries had ratified the convention. In the meantime, as the honourable gentleman mentioned, Australia had its own Crimes Aircraft Act of 1963 which provided adequate penalties for offences relating to aircraft and over which the Commonwealth Parliament had legislative powers. That is not quite a complete answer to the question asked by the honourable gentleman but I think that it covers his point.
Before I sit down, without wanting to be controversial at this late hour of this session of the Parliament and during this week, I cannot allow the speech by the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James) to go without one comment coming from the Government. He rightly referred to some difficulties that certain people have at the hands of United States authorities in getting visas to visit Cuba or in getting visas to leave the United States of America and to visit other countries. I would have been happier - I am sure that all honourable members in this House would have been happier - had not the remarks of the honourable gentleman been restricted as usual to a criticism of the United States and had he referred to the difficulties which exist in fact within all Communist countries which apply to their citizens the most extraordinary restrictions on travel inside and outside their countries.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Chipp) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 7 May (vide page 1787), on motion by Mr Bury:
That the Bill be now read a second lime.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, this Bill is a machinery measure derived from changes made in the Superannuation Act. It is designed to remove differences between the Superannuation Act and the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act in the formulas determining entitlements for senior members. The Bill will provide higher entitlements for some senior members of the Services; it will lift their benefits from 50% of salary to 60% of salary. The tapering effect of benefits paid will be from 70% of salary for lower paid members of the Services to 60% of salary for the senior echelons. Previously, the level of benefits tapered from 70% to 50%. The Treasurer (Mr Bury) did not state in his second reading speech how many officers would get extra benefits from the scheme. According to the Treasurer, there will be no increase at the moment in contributions for post- 1959 members of the scheme who pay a percentage of salary. He hinted quite plainly that these contributions could be raised by the quinquennial investigation of the fund as at 30th June 1969. lt is far from clear how pre-1959 contributors will fare under the amendment. These contributors take up units of pension entitlement in the same way as contributors to the Commonwealth superannuation scheme. The Treasurer says that since 1965 these members have had the right to limit their contributions when faced with increased contributions. Presumably those who have this limitation will get these extra category entitlements without extra contributions, lt is nol clear whether pre-1959 members who have not limited contributions and who now elect to do so will have to pay more. This should be clarified by the Treasurer.
This piece of legislation is not in itself of particular significance. It does reveal in miniature the extremely complex nature of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund legislation. The Bill adds to an immense volume of legislation which 1 am sure is beyond the comprehension of most members of the Services and most members of this Parliament. The consolidation of the DFRB Bills from 1948 to 1963 is a massive document of 220 pages; it has been augmented in subsequent years by a number of minor amendments and major amendments of 1968. Without the specialist skills of a lawyer or a parliamentary draftsman it is difficult to navigate through the maze of the DFRB legislation. The simplest possible explanation of the complexity of the scheme is that an integrated system of pension benefits was imposed on a Service structure which was far from integrated or even rationalised to any extent. When the scheme was begun in 1948 the individual schemes of the three Services were absorbed into the DFRB scheme. The vastly different conditions applying to each of the services caused many difficulties in the subsequent 10 years; attempts were made to overcome these difficulties by frequent amendments of the Act.
The first substantial reorganisation of the scheme was made in 1959 when a new basis of contribution was laid down for future ex-servicemen. Under the changes each entrant after 14th December 1959 was provided with a system of pension insurance against retirement, invalidity and death. This cover was intended to . be maintained in broad alignment with service salaries. It was financed by means of a percentage rate of contribution with the members’ share initially 221%. It has since been cut back to 20% . These rates were based on a pooling principle under which broad groupings of members having certain similar characteristics paid a common percentage rate of contribution into a common fund from which benefits were eventually to be drawn in accordance with each member’s circumstances. This change effectively split the scheme into 2 with pre-1959 members taking up conventional entitlements for superannuation and post-1959 members contributing a percentage of pay ranging from 4.75% to a ceiling of 12.5%. This split in the scheme is reflected in the piece of legislation at present before the House.
Undoubtedly, the post-1959 scheme has many attractive features. The Commonwealth Actuary has described it as a generally first class system of pension insurance embodying cover against retirement invalidity and death. The main disadvantage of the whole scheme is that it does not apply equitably to pre-1959 contributors and post-1959 contributors. In addition, the scheme is shot through with anomalies resulting from the different ways in which contributors entered it. The distinction between pre-1959 members and post-1959 members is the most obvious distinction. Within the pre-1959 membership there are broad differences between members of the individual Services; between pre-war and post-war servicemen. Among post-1959 members there are differences between Services in salaries, length of service and comparative retiring ages. The net result has been that there is no consistent application of benefits; a benefit under the scheme can vary considerably because of the individual circumstances of the member - his age, when he joined the scheme, his rank and how long he has served. This has meant that servicemen do not understand the scheme and they do not trust it.
Any honourable member who has frequent contact with servicemen knows that by far the most common gripe is the application of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund. Whatever its merits, a scheme which lacks the confidence of those it is designed to benefit must be accounted a failure. There is no doubt that the great majority of servicemen feel they are unjustly treated under the fund and that their contributions are too high. The report of the third quinquennial investigation into the fund got to the hub of the problem. In its submission to the Treasurer on the Commonwealth Actuary’s report, the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Board said the complexity of the legislation and the general lack of understanding of the scheme were very well known. It said further:
Having regard to the detailed information now available as a consequence of this quinquennial investigation, it would be reasonable to suggest there is scope for examining the possibility of evolving a simplified scheme, based on the adoption of a uniform scale of salary contributions, for all contributors.
The Board said it had discussed with the Commonwealth Actuary the development of a scale of percentage rates of contribution for pre-1959 entrants. This would be based on individual calculations with a view to merging them with the contribution scales for post-1959 entrants. The Board has succinctly stated what the objective of re-organisation of the fund should bc It has confirmed that the information on which a re-organisation could be based is available. It has suggested ways of merging pre- 1959 membership with post- 1959 membership. This report has been available for 2 years now, but the Government has not sought to follow up the initiative it contained.
It is an interesting commentary on the state of the fund that this quinquennial investigation was on the state of the fund at 30th June J 964. The report was submitted to the Treasurer on 1 6th May 1967 and the necesary legislation was passed by this House on 6th June 1968. Honourable members will recall that the investigation revealed a substantial surplus in the contributions of pre-1959 members. It recommended a disbursement of this surplus among contributors. This disbursement was delayed because of inadequate statistical data about contributors and the nature of the fund. I understand this disbursement of the surplus to pre-1959 members is under way at the moment but is still far from complete. In other words, 6 years after this surplus was accumulated, it is being paid back to members who overcontributed.
Another quinquennial investigation of the Fund was due at 30th June last year under the terms of the original Act. Presumably this investigation is under way at the moment, although I do not recollect the Parliament being informed of it. lt is reasonable to assume that this investigation will show another surplus for pre-1959 members, although it may not be as much as the 1964 surplus. In 2 or even 3 years time it is probable that refunds of contributions will still be being made to pre-1959 members of the fund. This is because of mismanagement in the early years of the Fund and because of repeated delays in making the five-yearly investigations and implementing the recommendations.
No blame can be attached to the Commonwealth Actuary or his staff for this situation. When this subject was last debated in the House the former honourable member for Maribyrnong, Mr Stokes, said that the Actuary had a staff of only 7. In addition to the DFRB fund, this staff had to handle the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund and the parliamentary retiring allowances scheme. I do not know to what extent this critical shortage of qualified actuarial staff has improved; the Commonwealth will always have problems in ‘getting actuaries when the going commercial rate is around $15 an hour. But the over-subscription from pre-1959 members of the fund should have been detected much earlier. If the requirements of the 1948 Act had been fully carried out and proper actuarial investigations made in 1954 and 1959. this oversubscription would have been detected and remedied much earlier.
It has never been explained in a satisfactory manner why the first full-scale investigation of the fund was nol made until the 1959-1964 quinquennium. Even more remarkably, the recommendations of this investigation are now being implemented 22 years after the scheme was introduced. The result has been that contributors who joined before 1959 have been unjustly treated and they have been denied the use of considerable economic resources. Many contributors and pensioners will have died before this disbursement is complete; it has never been made clear whether payment will be made to their estates. The 1964 investigation also disclosed a deficiency of S3. 26m in respect of the group of contributors and pensioners who entered the fund after 1959. This was met by increasing rates of contribution and by increasing the Commonwealth contribution to 80%. The main objective here was to restore solvency to the fund as quickly as possible. This seems ironical for a fund which has grown into one of the most significant superannuation and investment forces in the country - a fund which has a value of $108m.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension I was referring to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund and was pointing out that it could now bc classified actuarially as one of the most successful superannuation schemes in existence with assets valued at about $108m. Even on the most pessimistic projection of liabilities the Fund seems to be more than sufficiently solvent. This raises the question of how far the profit motive is being applied and whether excess reserves are being accumulated. These are some of the aspects of the management of the Fund over the past 20 years and the nature of its investment policies that are raised by the report of the third investigation. Undoubtedly improvements in the recording of data and the day to day administration of the Fund have been made in recent years. But these improvements have been accompanied by a rapid expansion of membership following the amendments of 1968 which extended benefits and made many more members of the forces eligible for cover. It can be said with certainty that the investigation of the Fund for the 5 years from 1964 to 1969 will reveal new problem areas.
Because of the complexity of the legislation the Opposition believes it should be scrutinised by a joint select committee of this Parliament. Examination by such a Committee should be directed towards the following areas:
This is a scheme which has not worked in a satisfactory way; it is one of the principal sources of discontent among serving members of the forces. It is riddled with anomalies and inequities although some improvements have been made in recent years. I believe that members of the Government Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund Committee which has done much valuable work on the scheme will agree with me on the need for reform. For this reason honourable members on this side of the House believe that the solution of this problem, to ensure that there is not only an equitable contribution to the scheme but also an equitable return to those who served in the Services upon retirement invalidity or death, and to ensure that the scheme is placed on an equitable basis lies in the establishment of a joint committee of this Parliament to investigate fully the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund.
I point out that there has been no investigation of the scheme. The anomalies that have crept into the scheme have been perpetuated each time the Act has been amended despite the fact that honourable members on both sides of the House have indicated from time to time the need to investigate the scheme, to provide the basis to which I have just referred and upon which serving members of the forces will be able to contribute to a scheme that not only will guarantee them a return equitably assessed upon their retirement, invalidity or death, but also will ensure that the contributions they make to the scheme while they are serving members of the forces will not be beyond their means. There are very few honourable members who have had the opportunity to discuss the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund with serving members of the Services who have not been convinced that in far too many cases their contributions are beyond their resources. For these and other reasons which I have already put to the House we believe that the Government should seriously consider the establishment of a joint select committee of this Parliament to investigate the areas of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund to which I have referred. Because of the urgency of this matter and the grave problems it raises for the future for the armed Services, I move on behalf of the Opposition:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: whilst not opposing the provisions of the Bill, the House is of opinion that a Joint Committee of senators and members of the House of Representatives should be appointed to investigate and report on the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund’.
– Is the amendment seconded?
– 1 second the amendment and reserve my right to speak.
– I support the Bill and welcome it as a further move along a rather slow and tortuous track that the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act has taken through this House over the period of years that I have been here. I could not speak on the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund without giving considerable credit, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) gave credit, to the former member for Maribyrnong who was most assuredly the main spokesman on the Fund from this side of the House. I had the honour, as did many other honourable members, of working on the Government committee with him and I know that he was the only one who seemed to have most of the sections and technicalities of the Act at his fingertips. He worked most vigorously with the Defence Forces Retirement Welfare Association on all matters and became its consultant on amendments and suggestions to the Government on how the Act should best be altered for the welfare of the Services. 1 say without hesitation - and 1 am sure this view is shared by all honourable members on this side of the House and I would think by some on the other side - that the former member for Maribyrnong will be missed. He has left his mark here in the gains and advances that were made in the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act in his time.
As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said, it is one of the most involved and confused Acts ever introduced into this Parliament and on many occasions over the years I, like other honourable members, have had to go to Treasurers to ask their advice, to ask for an explanation, to ask them in some way to help me go through the mire of sections and counter sections which are in the Act, in order to arrive at a clear understanding as to the entitlement of a soldier or an ex-soldier, but to no avail. I am not referring to the present Treasurer (Mr Bury) because 1 have not yet tested him, but previous Treasurers when confronted, have almost said - I do not attribute this as a direct statement to them - that they did not understand the Act and for goodness sake get in touch with the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Board which would endeavour to sort it out for me. I give credit to the Board and all those who work in association with it. But 1. must say that in co-operation wilh most other members of this House they work with a most confused Bill and it is very difficult for the layman to understand exactly what it is all about. 1 believe that this complexity is one of the major reasons why recruiting has not been as successful as we would like it to have been, particularly recruiting for the regular Services. I think also that this has been one of the reasons why many regular servicemen have decided to get out earlier than they might otherwise have done. They have been greatly frustrated by being unable to understand exactly what their entitlements are under the Act and exactly what their rights are in the event of some malady or disability overtaking them. This applies particularly to the class C area in which men have just not known whether they were coming or going and just what their entitlements were. Many a father, completely disgusted with the treatment he received under the scheme, has discouraged sons who perhaps may have wished to enter the regular Services. I -think that in the overall picture we have suffered very considerably from the adverse publicity that this legislation has received.
I have never understood why it was possible to provide a small handbook for a Commonwealth public servant setting out clearly his every entitlement while it has not been possible to provide this information for a serviceman. The public servant knows that if he retires at, say, point A in his career he will receive so much, or that in the event that sickness overtakes him at a certain time of his life he will receive so much. One can always find public servants who know their rights and entitlements and who have no confusion about them whatsoever. But in the case of a soldier who has served his country we find confusion upon confusion. I have here a circular from the Regular Defence Forces Welfare Association. lt refers to the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act and its application to ex-servicemen. When the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act was originally introduced it was modelled on the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act. That is one of the reasons we are experiencing our present difficulties. This circular states:
The CMC Act is an act designed to meet the requirements of civilian employees in a civil environment. As an afterthought, perhaps with little thought, the application of the Act was widened to include servicemen not serving in a declared ‘special area’ under the Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Act 1963. Add to this the fact that the Commonwealth Compensation Commissioner invariably interprets the Act in accordance wilh civilian practice and appears to be entirely unaware, or uncaring, as to the special conditions and circumstances applicable to members of the armed Services, and one has the basis of what can only be termed an unjust, uncertain, and unsatisfactory compensation cover for servicemen.
This is a feeling that I share to some extent. Take the case of a man who enlists as a regular soldier. He may not be sent to Vietnor or to some other overseas posting but he may still be injured on the firing range at Puckapunyal. He is injured in connection with his military duties which are entirely different in type and in every other way from the duties of the average public servant. However, he is not treated as a serviceman when it comes to the assessment of his disability and his future. He is given treatment very similar to that received by a public servant working in an office. The circular goes on to say:
Further, the entire philosophy adopted by both the Government, and by its administration, _ in relation to the compensation of servicemen, requires urgent revision. The traditional policy has been to draw a marked distinction between volunteers for service overseas and other soldiers. The result has been Repatriation legislation on the basis that nothing is too good for the volunteer for the AIF and that for all other servicemen compensation for peace time disability was to be on a civilian basis. At the time this was acceptable as the permanent serviceman had no commitment to serve overseas and was virtually a uniformed civilian. However, the whole situation has been changed by the introduction of a Regular Army. The philosophy, and the legislation based upon it, has failed to reflect this change. Today, every regular serviceman is a volunteer for overseas service. It is a condition of his enlistment. The national service soldier has no choice. However, should a regular, or a national serviceman fail to be posted to a so-called ‘special area’ (for example South Vietnam) as a result of an accident of age, trade or employment, he is not subject to the Repatriation Act. These servicemen enlisted under exactly the same terms as the AIF man, fall under the provisions of a civil act, i.e. the Commonwealth Compensation Act. despite the fact that the volunteer for the AIF, and the compulsorily enlisted militia man, were covered by the Repatriation Act whilst serving in Australia up to 30th June 1951. The result of the circumstances outlined above is glaring anomalies in compensation cases, a marked and adverse effect on the morale of the regular servicemen, injustice to individuals, and considerable adverse judicial criticism.
Those words contain a lot of truth. It is too often forgotten that the regular serviceman today enlists for overseas service. It is not his choice whether he goes or not. He goes where he is sent. He is available to be sent at a moment’s notice and if he happens to be injured somewhere within Australia he should not be treated differently from any other soldier. He takes his risks. If he had not incurred his injury he might have received an overseas posting half an hour later and might have been injured overseas.
There are other anomalies in the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act. There is one provision to which I still object. Even after a man has given many years of distinguished service he is not allowed to resign except in the most exceptional - and I repeat the word exceptional - circumstances. He may not retire except with the approval of the Military Board or the Naval Board. Should he decide to resign he is not entitled to any pension whatsoever. This is an inequity. Men who have given 30 or more years service and who wish to resign, whether their reasons are personal or otherwise, should he entitled to do so and to receive a reasonable pension. 1 support the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in everything that he has said. I would like to think that the House was unanimous in agreeing that something needs to be done to investigate the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act with a view to drawing up clearer and more precise legislation so that every soldier will know exactly where he stands and what his future is. I will have great pleasure in supporting the amendment of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that a joint committee of both Houses of the Parliament be set up to investigate the Act and all its ramifications, and I am quite sure that there are others who feel as I do.
– It is obvious that on both sides of the House we are basically in agreement about the proposal for the need, firstly, to overhaul the whole situation, and secondly, to remove the unnecessary complications in the legislation. My colleague the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) put this question on the notice paper some 3 weeks ago:
Why, may I ask, as a parliamentarian and on behalf of the people who are contributors to this Fund, has the Treasurer (Mr Bury) not been able to answer that question in 18 days? The Treasurer has a tremendous staff at his disposal. I see that he has some 40 or 50 second division officers and thousands of other officers scattered throughout his Department. Yet he cannot answer that question or even care enough about the matter to listen to the question in this House. The question on the notice paper continues:
How long should it take to answer that question? The question continues:
This question appears on the notice paper at page 2229. lt has been on the notice paper for 18 days. 1 believe it is time the Treasurer got around to answering it. Therefore I ask that question as a member of this Parliament on behalf of the contributors. lt is time we investigated the whole system and examined it, by use of a committee of this Parliament, in the light of the experience gained in the last 20 years. The Parliament has plenty of experienced people in it - folk who know a good deal about the system in the Services; people with access to information about, all sorts of funds. The history of this legislation is what one might term ‘hopes dismayed’. When one looks at the table in front of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act one finds that there have been 22 attempts to amend it in recent years. There have been 22 amendments since it was brought in in 1948. Continual tinkering with an Act produces no satisfactory result. The vintage year was 1968 when there were 3 amendments. Parliament must give up tinkering in this way and get down to some steady principles. I hope enough honourable members on the Government side of the House will support the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) so that we can carry it and get on with our job as parliamentarians and take a good look at the situation.
We of the Opposition believe that the Act is unduly complex. We believe it has failed to keep up with salaries and wages. We believe that the soldier is in a different position from the rest of the community. In many ways the analogy of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund and the Public Service Superannuation Fund is irrelevant. We say that this legislation does more for the people on the high salaries than for those on the lower salaries. There are large amounts in this Fund. Are they adequately invested? Are the people who invest in the Fund receiving a satisfactory return? We believe it is vital for a successful Service that people should have the security that flows from a successfully operating fund. 1 shall remind honourable members of the complications of the Act. I am not the only person who believes this is so. There was an article in the journal ‘Army’, published on 27th February last year, which was written by the Adjutant-General, Major-General Long. He had this to say:
Probably no condition of service has been more heartily condemned from time to time than the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Scheme.
That is what a Major-General of the Australian Army said in this journal. He continued:
I believe this has occurred mainly because the major provisions regarding benefits have nol been publicised adequately in the past;
That would be true enough: the Acts arc hard to read and understand; and the arrangements for those who entered the Scheme prior to December 1959 can be complicated in individual cases.
I suggest that honourable members read that article. Major-General Long discussed how the scheme works and the basic principles of it. He claimed it was a good scheme. I think it is like many things in the Repatriation Act and so on - it is good for those who get completely under the umbrella. But the people on the fringe always are going to suffer. As for the undue complexity of the Act, consider this beautiful contribution to Australian political thought. I refer to section 30 of the Act which sets out the formula for working out contributions to the scheme. It is as follows: i [+«(»-) + *n
Then it goes on to describe what A, B, C and D are. It is there for anyone to read. How can the average Australian soldier, who I believe is entitled to know both his commitment and his entitlement, work that out? Of course, if he is good enough he can turn to section 41 (3.) and he can find out. It is clear enough there if he has a slide rule and his lexicon of the English language. It states:
Subject to this Act, the rate at which pension is payable to a member under this section is an amount per annum ascertained by multiplying the amount of Ninety-one dollars by the number that is his category number on the date of his retirement and, except where he has completed forty years’ service for pension, multiplying the result by the factor set out in the third column of the Second Schedule opposite to the number of years set out in the second column of that Schedule that is the number of years of service for pension completed by him.
It is simple enough. I have no doubt it was simple enough to the actuarial people who worked it out. lt is probably simple enough to the Treasurer although he has never shown any interest at all in the Fund. 1 believe it is time that the Fund and its operations were transferred-
– You are just being unnecessarily rude.
– Oh, the Treasurer has awakened. I was pointing out to him a few moments ago that there has been a simple question about the Fund on the notice paper for 18 days and he has not answered it.
– Everything is simple to you. The Leader of the Opposition, your leader, has crowded out the notice paper. That is the trouble.
– The Treasurer really does not need to answer the question. If the complications of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act are beyond him I gather from the report of the Public Service Board that the Department of the Treasury has adequate staff to handle such a matter. The Department has 1 First Division officer. 28 Second Division “officers, 947 Third Division officers and 1,169 Fourth Division officers. All those officers are in the departmental section. In the Statistician’s Branch he has 16 in the Second Division and so on. If the Treasurer cannot handle the Fund - and I do not blame him - at least he ought to be able to answer a parliamentary question on the facts of a matter such as this after 18 days. But that is by the way.
We have to look at this Act in a completely different way. The serviceman when he enlists accepts a duty to the community which is in no way comparable to the kind of duty accepted by anyone else in the community, even excluding the police forces and such other services. The serviceman lays his life, his future, his health and welfare on the line. It may well be that in 999 cases out of 1,000 he will never be called upon - one hopes he will never be called upon - to make any sacrifice of that nature. Of course the fact is that particularly in the Army these days there are chances which can be worked out statistically as to whether he will be killed maimed or injured. But his is a total, absolute and unqualified commitment to the community. I believe that we have to apply a different set of values to that kind of commitment - it is our duty and our obligation - from that which we apply to people who work inside the standard Public Service. If a citizen accepts a total and absolute commitment to the community then the community has to accept a total and absolute commitment in return. Therefore in many respects actuarial considerations are invalid. But even on the actuarial considerations I do not believe we give the serviceman the same deal that we give to the rest of the community so far as superannuation funds are concerned.
Other matters arise from time to time. For instance a person can lose all entitlement because of a serious breach in regard to his service. He may desert or be absent without leave. Honourable members may say that that is fair enough but of course he may well have a wife and family who are entitled to some kind of protection. The honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess) pointed out the difficulties of people who retire from the Service even after great, lengthy and distinguished service and fail to get any pension unless they get special dispensation. Then there was a case, one of which came to my notice - I understand the system still prevails - of the person invalided out of the Service and placed on a pension. The person of whom I speak went out of the Air Force and received a pension. After 7 or 8 years, or a little less, he was declared fit. His pension immediately ceased. One Monday he received a notice saying that as from such and such a day his pension ceased. So, being fit and being of the age group he reported back to the Service but the authorities would not take him. What kind of a commitment is that on the part of the armed Services or anybody else? I do not believe that that kind of anomaly ought to be tolerated.
The Fund has not kept up with the demands for increases in salaries and wages. There has been a decrease in money values for people in receipt of pensions if they have been out for a few years. Of course this Fund is much like other superannuation and pension funds - it takes 5 or 6 years for things to catch up.
The other point 1 would like to make is that Service rates of pay are inadequate. Recently the average wage or income of the community was stated to be $60 or $70 a week. 1 find it difficult to believe, but the Statistician can produce figures to prove this. Let us look at pay scales for the defence forces and see how many servicemen are on that kind of salary scale. There are not many receiving such a wage. In a modem world we cannot run armies in this way. One of the reasons that the Government has had to inflict the national service system on us is its failure to make service in the armed forces attractive and secure, and profitable at the conclusion of that service. I hope honourable members will note that.
There is one other point I would like to make, and that is that in fact the serviceman has perhaps a little less opportunity than have people in the Public Service at the same level to reach the top. The Australian Services are pretty meagre in the way they hand out top ranks. I understand that in Britain the Director of Military Training is a lieutenant-general; in Australia he is a brigadier. The Director of Staff Duties is a major-general; ours is probably a brigadier. I am subject to some correction on these. The Director of the Royal Artillery is a lieutenant-general; ours is a brigadier. The Engineer in Chief is a major-general or lieutenant-general; ours again is a brigadier. So on the whole servicemen in Australia do not have the opportunities to reach the topmost ranks that apply in other Services around the world. This of course affects the pension available to them at the conclusion of their service.
The other point I would like to make is that in the Army, for instance, there are 38 people of general rank - lieutenantgeneral, major-general and brigadier - for a Service of 48,000 men. The question may be asked: What is the difference between soldiers and other people in the service? The Department of Works, for instance, has 47 people in the Second Division with a staff of some 6,000. Honourable members can see that this comparison is very relevant. So the serviceman is receiving a lower rate of pay having regard to the general standards in the community. Top servicemen on an average do not quite reach the same status and pay as the top people in the Commonwealth Public Service do. Their Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund does not operate with the same security as the Superannuation Fund. I can think of no reason at all why we should not have a simple schedule of contributions and payments out such as one finds in the appendices to the Superannuation Act. [ remind honourable members that this Fund has been afflicted not only with a search after amendments but also an administrative complacency which has dogged it down the years. The second report produced in 1950 stated:
The requirements of the legislation have continued to be met and, by the end of the period under review, the problems associated with the introduction of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Scheme, including those associated with the transfer of contributors from the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund, had been largely overcome.
That is a monumental contribution to administrative complacency. For 20 years there has been no evidence that the problems have been overcome. Therefore I call upon the honourable members of this House to support the proposal for the appointment of a select committee to examine it. A week or so back when we were discussing this subject, the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) thought that select committees were preferable to standing committees. He will have his chance to vote on the subject later this evening.
– The Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act has caused much confusion over the years, and at this stage I want to pay tribute to the former honourable member for Maribyrnong, Colonel Stokes, for the great work and research that he put into this Act. I served on a committee with him for many years and I would say that he would be the one person who had a complete knowledge of the Act and the anomalies contained in it. That committee produced many foolscap pages listing the anomalies contained in the Act. I will go so far as to say that no private superannuation scheme would be allowed to exist if it contained such conditions. It is time that we had a full investigation of this matter. Although I cannot, support the amendment, because that would negate the Bill before the House and it gives some benefits to members of the Ser- vices, 1 will support an effort to have a ; select committee of this House - I do not include the other House because I main- tain this is the House of management and initiation - appointed to go very ; thoroughly into all the ramifications of this Act.
Since I asked the Treasurer (Mr Bury) a question in regard to retired Service personnel who had expected to receive their refund by the end of last year, 1 have had a few letters from people all over Australia stating that they had not as yet received ; their entitlement to the disbursement. We all j know that the servicemen have not a great amount of money, and those . who have < retired would be looking forward to receiving this little extra to help them along, lt was expected, according to the. letters 1 have received, that retired personnel would have received their refund by 3 1st December of last year. Up to about a week ago they had not received this entitlement. But the serving officer is also entitled to a refund, atd it is a great pity that the administration cannot expedite matters so that these people will have the benefit of their entitlement.
I said previously that many of the clauses contained in the original Act were anomalous. We as members of the Government Members Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Committee have been responsible for having many of the anomalies rectified, but many anomalies are still under consideration by the Treasury and the DFRB Board. 1 implore the Treasurer to get on with the business of eliminating these anomalies. I know of one serviceman who served for 19 years and 10 months and was boarded out of the Service. Had he served another 2 months he would have been entitled to his pension, but he was retired at 19 years and 10 months. Of. course, under this Act he did not become eligible for a pension. Some serving officers have not married during their Service life because of the upheaval of shifting home and the like. But if that man retired and then married, in the event of his death his widow would not become eligible for a pension. Fortunately that is one of the matters that we have had adjusted. ‘
I did not know that this Bill was coming before the House today. It is my own fault.
I have spent the whole of the day after question time in committee. If I had had time I would have been able to refresh my memory and with the aid of what 1 learnt from Colonel Stokes, 1 could have given the House the benefit of that experience and knowledge. Had the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) been able to let me know that he would speak for some time I would have gone to my office for some material. I would then have been able to enlighten honourable members on many aspects of this Act. I have not studied it for 6 or 7 months, but I have papers which were left by Colonel Stokes, and they would make very enlightening reading, for honourable members. 1 must vote for the Bill, but I would like later to see a select committee of this House set up - not a joint committee because this is the House of management and the House of initiative, and I want to keep it here. I should be pleased to serve on any select committee set up to investigate this matter.
– It is pleasing to see the relatively impartial manner in which the honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Irwin) is approaching this legislation and the proposal made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) that a joint committee of senators and members of the House of Representatives should be appointed to investigate and report on the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund. The honourable member for Mitchell has had a long and enduring interest in the welfare of ex-servicemen. He has referred tonight to Colonel Stokes, the former honourable member for Maribyrnong, who it is readily conceded also took an interest in these matters. Colonel Stokes, like the honourable member for Mitchell himself, frequently has drawn attention to the anomalies in the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act. I think it is fair to say that every honourable member who has spoken tonight has also taken the opportunity to do precisely that.
Great concern has been expressed about the inadequacy of the responsible department to deal with the very complicated ramifications of this pension scheme. Concepts are changing and we realise that it is time the whole thing received a complete overhaul rather than yet another patch-up. The honourable member for Wills (Mr
Bryant) referred to the number of patchups that have been made. The Bill confers benefits on the more senior members - the officer members - of the defence forces who contribute to the Fund under the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act. Regrettably, the Government has failed to take advantage of this opportunity to update all benefits. After all, in the face of the inflationary state of the economy it is just as much the expectation and the right of the serving members of the forces, including the junior members of the forces, to receive increased benefits as it is of such people as airline pilots, university academics and others.
The effect of this Bill is to provide increases in benefits to senior personnel. The benefits will increase from 50% of the salary of serving members to 60% of the salary. In other words, it is not a very significant benefit. A development of this kind is comparable to changes effected in the Commonwealth Superannuation Act which became operative on 4th January 1969. Likewise, the benefits of the Bill will have retrospectivity to the same date. We wonder why the Government has been so intent over the period I have mentioned on providing a comparable relationship between the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund and the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund. They were running parallel in most of their provisions in the period from 1963 to 1969. Much of this legislation is designed to bring the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund back to parity with the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund. When all is said and done, as pointed out by the honourable member for Wills, we are catering for entirely different types of people so far as careers are concerned. Servicemen and servicewomen often are required to retire when they have many years of working life ahead of them, many years in which they could go off to serve in some other capacity. How often do we see serving members forced out of the Army, maybe at the rank of captain or major, because they have not reached a certain rank by a certain age? The Army is getting younger. It is necessary for people to be fit in certain circumstances. It is necessary for them to be academically accomplished in other circumstances in order to occupy a senior rank in the Service. They are forced out if the required rank is not attained.
This does not happen in the Public Service. Conversely, the situation is that people stay on until their retirement. One sees it often in departments like the Postmaster-General’s Department. The Director-General attains the DirectorGeneralship for the 6 months or so left of his retirement age. He continues right up to retirement age. It is not an unreasonable thing to have comparable benefits for retirement in situations of this kind. We see the retirees of the Services - lieutenantcommanders, colonels or squadron leaders - in the suburbs taking up such occupations as real estate agents, public relations officers or fund raisers. This is further evidence of the fact that so many of them are forced to retire. But how often does one see a public servant forced to retire because he has failed to achieve a certain classification by a certain age? I understand, and I am indebted to my colleague, the honourable member for Wills, for this information, that 1 in 300 public servants reaches the Second Division, which is a high classification and a generously remunerated classification. One in 300 is the ratio in the Public Service. In the defence Services - the Navy, the Army, and the Air Force - only 1 in 1 100 reaches a comparable classification measured in terms of salary, which is up to a senior officer’s classification. Surely this indicates that there is a need for differential treatment. Regrettably, the Government has as yet failed to see the need for discriminatory benefits. This glaringly anomalous position has been referred to by honourable members on both sides of the House year in, year out. lt is referred to constantly by members of the Services and their representatives. The fact that it has not been heeded is probably sufficient justification to support the amendment proposed by my colleague, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
The significance of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Scheme is demonstrated by the fact that the number of contributors is in excess of 84,000. It includes all male and female personnel who serve on a full time and continuous basis for over 1 year. At 30th June 1969 there were 8,122 persons receiving a pension from the Fund. This number is increasing at the rate of approximately 1,000 a year. I mention these figures to show that we are dealing with a very significant number of people both in regard to the coverage of the scheme and the number of beneficiaries. For the last financial year, 1968-69, the benefits amounted to $10. 5m. As I have mentioned, that amount has been extended to 8,122 persons. It is interesting to note that, regardless of the number of benefits paid, the balance of the Fund at 30th June 1969 reached the figure of $1 10m. It is certainly not a fund which is heading for insolvency. This is the first time that the balance of the Fund had been in excess of SI 00m. It is able to render very valuable service through its investments by making funds available to the securities of the Commonwealth, by lending money to local government, by Joans prescribed under trustee legislation, by mortgages on land and by short term money market lending. It earns, for the Fund, an interest rate of just over 5.9%.
If the Parliament decides to set up the committee proposed by the honourable member for Bass on behalf of the Opposition so that we can go into all the ramifications of this scheme, we will probably have the opportunity to look al some of the provisions that prevail in other parts of the world. In Australia our serving members of the forces, as I understand it, contribute 20% to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund and the Commonwealth meets the balance. In Britain, the United States of America, Malaysia and West Germany the ex-servicemen, or veterans as they are called in some countries, are covered for retirement benefits and gratuities without any contribution at all. 1 suppose it ought to be necessary and useful for us to take these overseas situations into account. In the United States the .veterans receive retirement benefits equalling, after 20 years, half the current pay being received by a member in the forces and, after 30 years, a much higher proportion Still. The details escape me but after 30 years a proportion considerably in excess of half the pay is received by American veterans without a requirement to contribute at all. Surely this should cause our Government to recognise the prima facie evidence that we are dragging the chain in our treatment of ex-servicemen.
Perhaps a realistic approach to this matter could have the effect of obviating the need for conscription. Perhaps it could assist to make the forces so attractive that we would never be short of suitable volunteers. The United States automatically adjusts retirement pensions during the period of retirement and updates the pension rate as the salaries of serving members are increased. There is only one other matter to which I want to refer. It is another one of the present anomalies, but it is an anomaly so inhuman in my view and so unprecedented in pension schemes that it justifies some special mention. It concerns section 53a of the principal Act which states:
If a person to whom a pension, being invalidity benefit, is being paid engages in employment at a remuneration the rate of which is not less than two-thirds of such rate as is determined by the Board to be the rate of pay that corresponds with the rate of pay, as determined in accordance wilh the regulations, that was payable to [he person immediately before his retirement and the pension is not cancelled by force of sub-section (3.) of section 69 of this Act, the Board may suspend the pension and, upon the Board so doing, the pension ceases lo be payable so long as he continues in employment at such a remuneration. .
That sounds highly complicated and, in fact, it is, but it becomes a very realistic matter when it affects an ex-serviceman. I have a particular case in mind, though I have had several cases of this kind brought to my attention. A young man enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force in November 1 955 when he was aged 22 years. He served for 3i years when he lost his right leg above the knee in a road accident at Amberley base in Queensland. He received no compensation at all for the loss of his leg but he was paid an A class pension under the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act at the rate of £13 a fortnight. In 1958 Che pension paid to him dropped to £6 4s 8d a fortnight. In 1963- he thinks it was then because he told me on the phone about an hour ago that he believes it was just before an election - the pension was increased to $28 a fortnight to 2nd May 1969. So he was receiving a pension at the rate of $700 per annum. But under the provisions of section 53a immediately his income reached $2,329 per annum his pension was cut out entirely. He is a young man with 3 children who has decided not to throw in the towel but to continue to make the best of his situation and the best of the circumstances that descended upon him. He went to work under difficult circumstances and he continues to do so, but because his salary has now reached the level of $2,329 he is deprived of any benefit whatsoever under the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act.
He pointed out to me the unfairness of the decision to take away his pension. He has to use a car, essentially for the reason that he is troubled by the loss of his leg and this costs him $641 per annum. Last year the treatment of his stump cost him $219. The artificial leg and appliances cost him $250 in that year and sundry costs, including special shoes and special treatment of his clothing, amounted to $78. So he is spending $1,200 in order to go to his employment. He has lost his leg, but having made an effort to earn something for himself he has been affected in this way. It is amazing how these people are plagued. The letter to which I am about to refer does not relate to the gentleman I have mentioned; it refers to a gentleman in similar circumstances. He has not had his pension taken away but he is threatened with having it taken away. This letter reads:
The report of your review medical examination on 7th January J 970 has now been considered and it has been determined that, for the present, you shall remain classified Class B with pension entitlement of $956 per annum.
However, your attention is invited to section 53a of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act (please see copy attached) in which provision is made for the suspension of pension when the rate of remuneration exceeds two-thirds of the current equivalent of Service pay at retirement; that is, Service pay at retirement as increased by subsequent variations in the Services Pay Code.
The letter goes on to indicate what will happen to him if he does not disclose changes in his salary and so on. I assume from this letter that all the people who are receiving the invalid pension under the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act are similarly plagued and similarly threatened that if they succeed in overcoming the disadvantage to which they are put, their pension will be taken away. Many of these people, as I indicated by the earlier case I mentioned, spend a great deal of money in an endeavour to overcome their disabilities. 1 know that we have a lot of business to get through in the remainder of this session and that other honourable members want to speak, but there are many other anomalies in the Act that I could mention. The one to which I have referred represents, I think, a most inhuman set of circumstances, the like of which could not be found in any comparable legislation enacted under the laws of the Commonwealth or any State in Australia or, I should think, in any other country. Since there are such a large number - 1,701 to be precise - of persons who, according to the report of the Department for the year ended 1969, receive invalid pensions under the provision of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act, it is likely that that number of people are being threatened with the loss of their pension if they succeed in earning incomes. I hope that the Minister will have serious regard for what I have said and will take away from these people the worry which has plagued them for such a long time in respect of a pension which ought to be their entitlement considering the disabilities they have suffered in the service of this country.
– 1 can speak with some personal authority and sadness of the defects of the present Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act. Before I resigned from the Navy 2 years ago to stand for Parliament I had served in the Navy for 3 1 years. Yet my benefit from the Government after 31 years service was nothing, although I was given back my contributions less depreciation. This was entirely correct under the DFRB Fund rules because I resigned more than 11 years before the retiring age laid down. Although it was correct under the rules, they are bad rules. In fact, this unfairness was recognised when there were 2 spectacular resignations by officers of my rank. They were given substantial payments to which they were entitled in justice but to which they were not entitled under the DFRB Act.
The present Act is well intentioned, but good intentions are not enough. The DFRB Act does not fit the special needs of our fighting Services and is a major cause of dissatisfaction with conditions of service. It is pointless to tinker with the present Act. We need a special review of what we are trying to achieve with our defence forces retirement benefits and how best we can achieve it. We must not leave such a review to the Treasury. A select Committee is the only way I can see of achieving a radical review of the whole of the system, and I therefore support the purpose of the amendment.
– Mr Speaker-
– Here is the spirit of progress.
– The honourable member, although rudely interjecting, is substantially right. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) asked me a number of specific questions, as did other honourable members. 1 w 11 endeavour to answer those. He asked whether any increase in contribution will be required in the case of the pre- 1959 members in order to take advantage of the increase in entitlements provided under this Bill. The pre-1959 entrants affected are in the main those who now hold the rank of lieutenant-colonel or higher. If they have not already elected to limit their future contributions under the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act 1963-68 they may now contribute for the full increase in pensioner entitlement now provided or, alternatively, elect to limit their contributions to what they are already pay ng. Those who make this election will become entitled to the full Commonwealth share of the increase in benefits now being provided.
The honourable member also referred to the complexity of the existing scheme and quoted recommendations contained in the report of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Board to the Treasury transmitting the Actuary’s report in respect of the quinquennium ended 30th June 1964. He asked why the recommendations in the report on the review of the 1959 entrants had not yet been enacted. Paragraph 32 of the Board’s report indicates that a further 6 months may be required for the distribution of surplus assets to complete the type of review of contributions for the pre-1959 entrants envisaged in that report. As honourable members know, the distribution of the surplus assets is now approaching completion and leaves the way open to complete the pre-1959 scheme review. He also inquired why Parliament had not been informed of the commencement of the fourth quinquennial investigation into the Fund. The requirement for this investigation is contained in section 22 of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act 1949-69. These investigations are automatically commenced every 5 years as required by the legislation.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition complained - and his complaint has been echoed by other members - that the Act is full of anomalies. He instanced the differences- in retiring ages prescribed for officers of equivalent rank in the different Services. These ages are related to manning requirements in the different Services, which in fact are not identical, and hence the difference arises. He also inquired why the third quinquennial investigation into the Act formed the first full investigation into the DFRB Fund. The first . and second quinquennial investigations under the Act were conducted, in terms of the then legislation, not into the state and sufficiency of the Fund but solely into the state and sufficiency of the pensions account of the Fund. The procedure is explained in sections 32 to 35 of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act 1948-58, which is included in the repr, nt to which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition referred. These sections remain in essence unchanged from the scheme’s introduction in 1948 until the scheme was amended in 1959.
He also asked for clarification of the situation where a person eligible to participate in the distribution of surplus assets of the Fund now being made had died. In this connection I would like to draw his attention to paragraph (b) of- sub-section (1.) of section 17 of the Act authorising the distribution, namely, the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act (No. 3) 1968, in which it is provided that such payments will be made to such persons as the DFRB Board considers proper having regard to the circumstances of the case. He also said that lack of knowledge about the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund was a complaint common throughout the defence Services. An explanatory booklet has been completed and is at the moment awaiting the passage of this legislation before printing . can be completed and up to date booklets issued throughout the defence forces, an action of which i am sure the Deputy Leader of the Opposition would approve.
– That does not help.
– So far as it goes, I am sure he would approve of it. He did remark in passing that there has never been any investigation of the DFRB scheme. The original scheme, as a point of history, resulted from an investigation of the Dedman Committee, in 1948. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition probably knows Mr Dedman. This gentleman, who had a distinguished parliamentary career in his Party, conducted this investigation. There was also an exhaustive investigation of the scheme by the Allison Committee in the late 1950s, and this resulted in the introduction of what is known as the post-1959 scheme. The post 1959 scheme now applies to over 80% of members of the Fund. Major reviews of the scheme have been undertaken by the Government since then, the last being in 1967 and 1968, which resulted in further significant improvements in the scheme.
A number of honourable members, including the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant), raised some queries. The honourable member for Wills is an eminently ebullient character of unlimited verbosity. When he with his grey hair speaks with youthful experience I am reminded of the days when in my youth I was a new boy at school and I went up to that sector of the school which was recruiting new members for the cadet corps. The notice read: ‘Those new boys seeking a field-marshal’s baton, please apply to the sergeant-major’s office between the hours of so and so and so and so’. Under this, someone had written: Knapsack to carry baton, price 2s 6d’. I thank an honourable member who has interjected for reminding me of the rank of sergeant-major which I eventually attained slowly, rung by rung over some years.
– What about the air raid wardens? Give us a go.
– The presence of the honourable member for Sydney in the haunts of Kings Cross has continued unabated ever since. I am sure that, as he continues around them, in his own mind he feels that the place has declined ever since. The hon ourable member for Wills referred to questions on notice by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean). Those questions were put on notice on 22nd May. Replies are being obtained to those questions. Those answers will be supplied to the honourable member. I am sure that if honourable members opposite could induce the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and one or two other notable examples on the Opposition side to reduce their demands on the notice paper it would be possible to answer a great many more serious questions much more readily. I just say that to honourable members and I do suggest that the remedy lies in their own hands.
The honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess) who is in spirit at least a worthy successor in carrying out the work once performed by the former honourable member for Maribyrnong raised certain matters. They are men of different character. I say that the honourable member for La Trobe follows on in the spirit of the work of the former honourable member for Maribyrnong, but the former honourable member for Maribyrnong did have an assiduity for detail and so on to understand and to master all the details of this legislation which, apparently, is very confusing to most other honourable members.
The honourable member for La Trobe raised the question of compensation. This Bill does not amend the legislation relating to repatriation or to compensation the benefits of which may be paid to servicemen in appropriate cases in addition to the benefits under the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act. He also asked about the resignation of officers with over 30 years service, in other words, service stretching back further than that of the honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Hamer). He asked for an answer to this question. These benefits will be available under legislation being prepared to implement the preservation of pension rights.
I turn now to the amendment that was moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. The Government does see a great deal of virtue in having a thorough inquiry into the DFRB legislation. However, we do find it difficult to accept - indeed, we find it impossible to accept - the amendment in its present form which, if carried. would have the direct practical effect of postponing the benefits provided by this legislation.I am sure that, once he realised this fact, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, if satisfied on other points, would not press his point. In any case, the questions raised - most of them by Opposition members - initially will be reported on by the Commonwealth Actuary when he completes the quinquennial investigation. In the course of the inquiry, I feel sure that these points which members on both sides of the House have pressed will be brought to light and will be ventilated.
I can sympathise with the honourable member for Isaacs, who spoke last, because I once went through a process similar to the one which the honourable member described. In my case, I retired from the Public Service to enter this chamber. I also received nearly my contributions in full but with no interest.I think that the Government in the course of the years by practical application of justice has rectified the situation in respect of so many of the cases to which attention has been directed.
The thinking of the Government on the amendment is along these lines: Our feeling is that this would be an appropriate subject for study by a joint select committee. Before the Government could bring forward a motion, this idea will need to be explored by our colleagues in another place. But in due course, after these necessary preliminary discussions have taken place, the Leader of the House (Mr Snedden) will introduce a motion guided by the conversations. I am sorry but, at the moment, we feel that this is essential.I am suggesting that a joint select committee would represent the thinking of the Government on this matter.
– If the Senate is not interested, we will settle for a select committee of this House.
– We would not be unduly restricted in this approach. We would need to have conversations with parliamentary leaders on both sides in the Senate and in this House. But we would be prepared to bring forward to this House an appropriate motion as coming out of this discussion.
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr Barnard’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. Sir William Aston)
Majority . . 4
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
– Sub-clause (3.) of clause 3 reads: (3.) The amendment made by paragraph (c) of the last preceding sub-section shall bc deemed to have had effect on and from the first day of November, One thousand nine hundred and sixty -three.
This is purely a routine drafting amendment and has no other significance.
– During the course of the second reading debate the Treasurer (Mr Bury) said that he could not answer our questions because there were too many of them on the notice paper. Only 32 questions appear on tha notice paper and the Treasurer has had 34 days in which to answer them.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report - by leave - adopted.
Motion (by Mr Bury) - by leave - proposed:
That the Bill be now read a third time.
– J rise to express my disappointment at the failure of the Treasurer (Mr Bury) to reply to queries about the highly anomalous situation-
-Order! I remind the honourable member that debate on the third reading is limited to the schedules of the Bill and the Bill. He should not seek to make a second reading speech.
– I do not want to repeat what was said in the debate on the second reading. I simply take the opportunity to impress upon the Treasurer that this is a matter of great significance. I hope that some means will be found to furnish replies to the queries I have raised. I referred to ex-servicemen who, under the provisions of this legislation, are deprived of their pensions if they earn more than one-third of the amount they earned at the time of their retirement. I urge the Treasurer to treat this matter with the importance which most honourable members consider it deserves.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
The following bills were returned from the Senate with amendments:
Australian Film Development Corporation Bill 1970
Metric Conversion Bill 1970
Debate resumed from 4 March (vide page 84), on motion by Mr Swartz:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The introduction of the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation Bill 1970 marks the beginning of the end of the greatest engineering authority that Australia has ever known, lt turns the giant Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority into a shadow of its former self. This Bill is an insult to the staff of the Authority. No satisfactory explanation has geen given for the drastic changes which are to be made in the responsibility of the Authority or its potential for construction, design and consulting work. The Authority is to be emasculated beyond recognition. Its staff will slowly dwindle away into other avenues in the engineering field which will give them greater opportunity for achievement. 1 cannot understand how any government which has witnessed the magnificent achievements of the Snowy scheme can make a decision which will fragment the vast store of knowledge and experience gained during the years in which the Snowy Mountains Authority has been operating. One cannot help but feel that there are political motives behind the decision. lt is well to remember that a Labor government formed the Authority and approved of the Snowy River scheme. The Authority went from success to success, from one major engineering project to another, from the solution of major problems in tunnelling and construction to inventions and methods in engineering which are now used in many parts of the world. The Authority is recognised in many fields of engineering. It is a monument to the initiative and enterprise of Australian engineers and administrators and a monument to the foresight, imagination and planning of a Labor government. For the last reason it had to be destroyed and this Bill is the instrument of its destruction. However, the Government has overlooked the fact that whilst the Snowy Mountains Authority might be destroyed the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Scheme will stand forever. Honourable members may well ask Why the Opposition has taken such an antagonistic attitude to the Bill. The main reasons are:
With all these restrictions placed on the new Corporation by the Government, the Corporation is still expected under Part IV, Section 24 of the Bill to:
Pursue a policy directed towards securing in each financial year revenue sufficient -
to meet the expenditure of the Corporation properly chargeable to revenue of that year;
to enable the Corporation to make provision for income tax; and
to permit the payment to the Commonwealth of a reasonable return on the capital of the Corporation.
The Government has imposed an almost impossible task on the staff of the new Corporation. It is expected to operate as a commercial undertaking, expected to pay income tax and expected to return a profit to the Government but it is still hedged with the 7 restrictions that I have enumerated. The first objection of the Opposition is to the establishment of a consultative committee which may be used to advise the Minister whether a function of the Corporation should be exercised in respect of a particular engineering work and, if so, how that function shall be exercised by the Corporation. The committee is to consist of 6 members, 4 of the members appointed in relation to engineering works in Australia and 2 extra for engineering works outside Australia. The Minister is to have sole power of appointment. Two of the 4 members appointed for works in Australia are to be representatives of the engineering profession. But no mention is made of the qualifications or representation of the other members of the committee and no indication is given of how the committee will operate.
This Corporation is expected to operate as a business undertaking yet is to have a consultative committee, if requested by the Minister, overlooking any or all of the work which the Corporation has been asked to perform. How long will it take to make a decision? Will the representatives on that committee deliberately hold up a decision? Will the Minister deliberately hold up a decision so that the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation will not be able to perform that function because of loss of time. If this consultative committee is loaded in favour of private engineering and consulting, firms, as well it may be, the Corporation could find itself refused permission to undertake job after job. There seems to be no need, except for the purposes of frustration, for this Committee and an amendment for the deletion of this provision will be moved at the Committee stage when further arguments will be advanced.
In his second reading speech the Minister said:
The principal engineering fields in which it-
The Corporation - will operate may be broadly described as those relating to the development of water and power resources and for underground works.
Part ITI of the Bill sets out the functions and powers of the Corporation. Its main functions in Australia will be in a consultative design and supervisory capacity. It will not be allowed to act as a constructing authority as the Snowy Mountains Authority has been. Why it has been found necessary to restrict its construction work in Australia bas not been explained in the Minister’s second reading speech. There is just a blunt statement that it will not be permitted to act as a constructing authority in its own right as it has in the Snowy area. One can only conclude that it is to protect private engineering firms from the competition that could be offered by the Snowy Mountains Authority. Yet the Minister has told us that since 1966 annual expenditure of the Authority has been between $30m and $56. 5m per year. All the work performed in the Snowy area has received Australian and world acclaim. The works have been completed within the estimates and time limits imposed. The honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn), the previous Minister for National Development, in a speech at the opening of the Murray 2 project on 1 1th October 1969 said:
In the same speech the former Minister for National Development said:
So from April 1972 these units in Tumut 3 will start to come on line and it will be completed I know I can say this definitely because I have never had any concern about any dates given to me by the Snowy. They always meet those dates. It will be completed by March 1974.
Even with this recognised and acknowledged record in design, costing and construction, the Snowy Mountains Authority is not to be allowed to continue in construction work in Australia.
The poor excuse for the breaking up of the Snowy Mountains Authority which is given by the Minister is that ‘no other project in Australia has been or is likely to be big enough to support the cost of the specialist staffs which the Snowy scheme needed’. I am certain that no-one who wants to retain the Authority at near its present size and with its present know-how has ever suggested that only one scheme or engineering project should engage the attention of the Authority at any one time. This Authority has the knowledge and personnel to’ diversify its activities as any major private engineering company would do. In the policy speech for the Labor Party at the 1.969 Federal elections, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) said:
At a time when the River Murray Commission has been discredited, when South Australia faces the real threat of strangulation of its industrial and population growth because of salination of the Murray, its sole source of water, and when Queensland is suffering the worst drought this century, the Liberals have decided to cripple and I believe ultimately destroy the Snowy Mountains Authority.
This greatest investigation, design and construction team ever assembled in the southern hemisphere is to be down-graded to the level of a consultative body. All its works in progress on the Snowy and elsewhere in Australia will have come to an end in 4 years time. If the Liberals are to be allowed to proceed with their plans to destroy an authority they have always resented since the Chifley Labor Government established it, it is inevitable that the experience and expertise of its team will be disbanded and lost. Most of them will go abroad.
Labor will establish a national water conservation and construction authority with the Snowy Mountains Authority as its nucleus. There is room in Australia for such an authority. The State governments are letting out major contracts for the construction of dams and other engineering works to overseas companies. The New South Wales Government has recently announced that the construction of major sections of the Copeton Dam had been entrusted to an American consortium for a contract price of over $2l£m. Many hidden features in this contract will make the final price much higher and will greatly enhance the profit-making prospects of the consortium. The Snowy Authority in cooperation with the New South Wales Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission could easily have handled this construction, and probably at a far lower cost. I cannot understand why the members of this Government are so afraid of allowing a government instrumentality to compete openly and fairly with private enterprise in this and other fields. The Bill demands that the Snowy Corporation shall make sufficient profit each year to meet its running costs, pay income tax and return a dividend to the Commonwealth. The Corporation’s activities will, therefore, need to be as efficient and economical as any private enterprise undertaking. It is a completely unfair and harsh restriction not to allow the Corporation to undertake construction work in Australia on any and all types of engineering work which it is capable of performing. An amendment to delete this restriction will be moved by the Opposition in the Committee stage.
A further restriction which will prevent the proposed Corporation from operating to full efficiency is the restriction on the type of engineering work which can be performed. The Minister has said in his second reading speech that these may be broadly described as those relating to the development of water and power resources and for underground work. Clause 17, subsection (4.) of the Bill spells this restriction out. I cannot envisage the Snowy Corporation branching out into ali fields of engineering work. It will and must restrict itself to the type of work in which it has experience and know-how. But there could be major engineering works desired by a State government, local authority or private company which is just outside the present restrictions and which the Corporation could not perform if it were requested to do so. I mention the construction of the natural gas pipe lines in Victoria and New South Wales as a work which I believe the Corporation could perform but which appears to be beyond its present charter. An amendment to broaden the scope of the type of engineering work which the Corporation can undertake will be moved in the Committee stage.
Not only does the Bill envisage a consultative committee to advise the Minister on works which may be undertaken by the Corporation; it also shackles the Corporation with obtaining ministerial approval before it can undertake any work. No business undertaking should be expected to try to operate efficiently, economically and profitably with clamps like these around its neck. To make the matter worse, it is admitted by the Minister that the Snowy Authority has been doing consultative work and construction work for outside authorities and for overseas countries for several years. Fees for this work received by the Authority last year amounted to about $3m. The annual report of the Snowy Authority for 1968-69 gives the major work which has been undertaken - and all of this work undertaken in opposition to private enterprise. For the Department of External Affairs under the Colombo Plan, work has been performed in Thailand-Malaysia, Cambodia-Burma and Western Samoa. The Authority has performed work for the United Nations in Nepal and for the Departments of External Territories and Works in Papua and New Guinea. Within Australia it has assisted in planning, design and construction of the Blowering Dam, Shoalhaven development, Liddell Power Station and the Eastern Suburbs Railway in New South Wales. In Victoria it carried out a detailed site investigation of the Dartmouth Dam as well as a cost and energy study of various power installations. The Cardinia Creek Dam in Victoria, the Ord River Dam in Western Australia, the Canberra water supply are other projects which have received the attention of the Snowy Authority. Details of other works can be found in the annual report of the Snowy Authority.
The Snowy Authority has already proved itself as a consultative body for other organisations and the fees received give an idea of the potential in this area. Under this Bill it will not be allowed to do this without ministerial approval. It is estimated that approximately $40m a year is paid to overseas engineering consulting firms practising in Australia. But a further provision of the Bill restricts the Corporation from undertaking this work for private companies unless it has been requested to do so by a private consultant. It is another case of the middle man’ being given a bite of the cherry without earning it, and another example of this Government bowing to the pressure of private and sectional interests. The proposed Corporation, acting as a commercial undertaking, should be encouraged to obtain its work from whoever and wherever it can be found. Private enterprise should not need protection from a governmental body competing in the open market. An amendment to remove the need for a private consultant to engage the Corporation will be moved in the Committee stage.
I come now to a further curtailment of the freedom of the Corporation to act as it deems fit. This is the power of the Minister to control the number of staff which can be employed by the Corporation. The present Minister in his second reading speech passed over this point by saying no more than: ‘I shall have power to determine the total number of staff’. He gave no indication of what was in his mind or in the mind of the Government on the total number of staff. Does he intend to shackle the proposed Corporation even further by fixing the maximum number of staff so low that only a very few projects could be handled each year? lt is completely unfair to the present professional officers, administrative and manual staff of the Snowy Authority for them not to be advised of the estimated number and classifications of posit ons which may eventuate. To fail to do so could mean the departure of many of them to other employment in which continuity of service is more definite. The previous Minister for National Development in the speech from which 1 quoted earlier did say that the proposed Corporation would have an intial maximum staff of 400. Is this figure the same as the present Minister has in mind or will his maximum staff be closer to the 100 mark? The staff of the Snowy Authority at 30th .lune 1969 was 1,173. 1 understand that the proposed Snowy Mountains Council will require a staff of approximately 430. So even if the Corporation’s initial maximum staff is set at 400 it will still leave approximately 350 of the Authority’s present staff without posit:ons. The Opposition believes that the Director of the Corporation would be the most suitable person to judge the number of staff required and an amendment to give h’m this authority wilt be moved in the Committee stage of the Bill.
My final complaint about the Bill is that the terms and conditions of employment of the Corporation’s officers will be subject to the approval of the Public Service Board. All of us in this House have been inundated with submissions and resolutions from organisations representing engineering officers and from individual officers in the Commonwealth Public Service. The complaints have ranged over inadequate and depressed salaries, poor promotion prospects, an outmoded and unsympathetic
Public Service Board and a lack of appreciation of the work of the engineer in the development of the nation. In an article in the May issue of ‘The Commonwealth Professional’ Mr F. C. Keith, B.E., wrote:
Those charged with recruiting engineers for the CPS today must have an uneasy conscience, lt is their duty to convince graduates that they should join the CPS when they know that the graduate would have a much more rewarding career elsewhere. lt is the responsibility of all of us to make the community aware of the true situation so lh:tt young people are not misled. This will at least ensure the Commonwealth does not receive services for which it is not prepared to pay.
A meeting of Public Service and Commonwealth instrumentality engineers in Sydney passed a strong resolution attacking the Public Service Board and its attitude to the salary claims of engineers. The resolution read in part:
That this meeting calls for a public inquiry into the workings of the Commonwealth Public Service Hoard in view of the treatment which the Board has meted out to engineers.
Similar meetings in other parts of the Commonwealth also carried strong resolutions of condemnation of the Public Service Board. The meeting in Victoria resolved that:
This meeting condemns the action of the Public Service Board in failing to enter into meaningful negotiations with the Associations in 1967. i%8 and 1969, thus forcing the Associations into expensive arbitration (costing $230,000) and. resulting in considerable delays and salary losses.
Only today, Mr Deputy Speaker, the CSIRO Officers Association wrote, and I quote its letter which states:
The CSIRO Officers’ Association strongly supports moves to have Parliament debate and take action on the alarming and depressing salary situation of scientists, engineers, experimental officers and scientific service officers in CSIRO and the Public Service generally, which has been allowed to develop by the Public Service Board.
The dissatisfaction of professional engineers with the Commonwealth Public Service Board is very widespread. Yet the Government intends to force this new Corporation, which is to be a commercial undertaking, to obtain the approval of the Board for the terms and conditions of employment of its officers and employees.
I come back to the point that the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation is expected to operate as a commercial undertaking, to meet its own expenditure, pay income tax and return a profit to the
Government. But its senior officers will have to seek approval for salaries and working conditions from an outside body which cannot be expected to appreciate the special needs which might arise. Certain specialist officers from private industry, urgently required by the Corporation, would expect a salary equal to if not higher salary than that which they were receiving in private industry. But this salary could not be granted by the Director until it had been approved by the Public Service Board. There would be every chance that the officer would be lost to the Corporation as a result of the delay in fixing his salary or by offering too small an amount. If the new Corporation is to operate as a commercial undertaking the Director must have the right to make his own decisions. No private company seeks approval, from outside for the salaries and working conditions of its staff.
The Opposition intends to move an appropriate amendment during the Committee stage of the debate. The Opposition deplores the action of the Government in setting up this new Corporation on such restrictive lines. No other conclusion can be drawn than that the Government does not wish the new Corporation to succeed. If there is any desire on the part of the Government to retain the expertise of the employees of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority, some, if not all, of our amendments will be accepted in the Committee stage.
The Opposition does not intend to oppose the second reading of this Bill. We want to see a continuation of at least part of the Authority. We Will make an earnest and sincere attempt in the Committee stage to remove some of the shackles and restrictions which are to be imposed on the new Corporation. The Opposition does not claim that our amendments will perfect the Bill or that they are the only ones needed. We do claim, however, that they will give the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation a much better opportunity to continue the magnificent investigation, design and construction work of its forebear, the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. [Quorum formed.]
– Unfortunately I found myself in agreement wilh only a very little of what was said by the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart). Some people may wonder that I found myself in agreement with anything he said. However, I agree with some of his earlier remarks about the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. I believe that the Snowy Mountains scheme has been magnificent. It has been carried out exceedingly well and is one of the man made wonders of the world. We should pay a tribute to the initial Commissioner, Sir William Hudson, and the present Commissioner, Mr Dann, for the excellent way in which the work has been carried out.
The scheme has taught us new skills. For example, it introduced tendering which was most unusual as most of the work previously done was carried out by day labour forces. Today, tendering for major construction works, particularly dams, is almost commonplace. In fact it is now unusual not to have tenders. I should say that great care must be exercised, and has been exercised by the Authority, in accepting tenders. No firm should be asked to tender unless it has the capability to undertake the work. The Snowy Mountains Authority has been very effective in this respect. Also, while one does not want to see great profits made by the contracting firms, neither does one want to see them operate at a loss. Again the Snowy Authority has been competent in assessing the likely cost of works and as a result there have been no major tragedies of companies underestimating the cost of work in the Snowy scheme. The Authority has made tender ng much more common in Australia. It has helped to develop Australia’s earth moving firms. We now have a number of major firms which can tender for work whereas earlier, in postwar years, most of the work had to be tendered for by overseas organisations, using Australian labour as well as they could. This has built up the expertise that we now possess.
The Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority helped to develop in engineering firms skills such as, for example, that of producing and welding the high tensile steel which went into the Murray 1 pipeline. Again, that project was one of the great examples in the world. It is true that there are larger pipelines than the Murray i pipeline and that there would be some operating at a higher pressure. But if one combines the size and pressure of the pipeline, at the time it was constructed there was nothing comparable elsewhere in the world. These are the sorts of things that it has built up. lt has developed an area both in power and in water. It has enormously improved Australia and developed us as a nation. Something like 2 million acre feet of water per annum which previously flowed out to sea is diverted inland and it is provided at no cost to the farmer. During the recent drought we know that about three-quarters of the water flowing down the Murrumbidgee River was water which otherwise would have flowed out to sea. We know that from the power point of view it has played an enormous part in developing the power resources in Australia. Of course, the great advantage of hydro power is that there is a spinning reserve which can be brought on line in a matter of seconds instead of having to wait for hours for the older type of plant to get up steam.
We know thai the Snowy Mountains Authority is working on the first pump storage in Australia. Water is used for a very short period - perhaps for only an hour a day - to generate an enormous amount of peak load power and then offpeak cheap power is used to pump the water back again after it has been caught in a dam below the turbines. We have an inter-connection with New South Wales and Victoria. These are the sorts of advantages that we have obtained. No words of praise >are too high for what has been done by the Authority, and especially by the original Commissioner, Sir William Hudson, who I regard as a great Australian. Even though he Was born in New Zealand I think he probably regards himself more as an Australian now. Unfortunately, the Labor Party seems to ignore the problems and it does not really seem to understand what it is talking about. It does not realise - or. does it? - that the States have the constitutional responsibility in this field.
– A Labor Government started the project.
– I am sorry that it was necessary to bring politics into this. I would have hoped that it would have been possible to keep politics completely out of it. Of course, the honourable member for Lang in order to get into the act said that the implementing of the Snowy Mountains scheme was a monument to the foresight and the planning of the Labor Government. One admires the late Mr Chifley for being the person who finally took the step to develop the Snowy Mountains Authority But, of course, this was the result of work, built up over a very long period. Even in the last century surveys were carried out. The New South Wales Government in the 1930s commissioned a consultant from London to come and carry out investigations. This was the Stevens-Bruxner Government. Of course, this information built up. Finally just before the 1949 election the charge was exploded to signify the commencement of this great work. Of course, the honourable member for Lang did not say that it was exploded 4 miles from where the dam was eventually built. lt is now under water. The Labor Party was in a’ hurry to get into this production, but the honourable member for Lang said this was a monument to the foresight and planning of the Labor Government. Another monument to the so-called foresight and planning of the Labor Government was the construction of the township of Eucumbene. This was to be undertaken by the New South Wales Labor Government with a day labour work force. After it had been there a long time it had not even succeeded in building the township, let alone a dam. Eventually Sir William Hudson was able to persuade the Government to relinquish this project. He called tenders and this was finally completed ahead of schedule. Had it been left with the New South Wales Labor-controlled Department, goodness knows if the townsite would have been completed by now.
I am afraid that the Labor Party cannot face up to the fact that it does not have a good record when it comes to water conservation. Let us look at its record in the States. It had an appalling record in New South Wales. We are told that Labor was in office for 23 years. During that time it commenced and completed only one major dam. lt is true that it finished some which were already being built by the previous Government and it initiated others which it did not complete. The Glenbawn Dam was started in 1946 at an estimated cost of £.1.5m. It was completed in 1958 at a cost of £13m. The Burrendong Dam was started in 1946 at an estimated cost of £2m, and it was not completed until late 1966 at a cost of £20m. The Labor Party’s record was exactly the same in Queensland. We find there that after virtually 30 years of Labor Government the total capacity of all major irrigation storages in Queensland was 330,000 acre feet. What a tragic result! By 1972 the storage capacity will be 2.2 million acre feet. We find that South Australia, which is the state from which the rather vocal member for Sturt (Mr Foster) who has been trying to interject comes, was so cynical that it was the only State in Australia that was prepared to do without the Dartmouth Dam just to defeat the good Government that was there. It knows it has to build that dam. It must be built. But it is so cynical about water conservation that that is what, it was prepared to do.
Let me return to the Bill. The whole trouble seems to be that the Labor Party does not understand, first of all, that the States have the constitutional responsibility. The only way that the Snowy Mountains scheme could be initiated was under a defence power. It is perfectly obvious that th;s defence power would not hold water now. Excuse me for making such a pun. Such a defence’ power would not be accepted by the courts now. Of course, the defence power was used first of all, and then the New South Wales and Victorian Governments passed special Acts Which gave constitutional authority for the construction of the Snowy Mountains scheme. But the Snowy scheme could not be set up as some great vast national water conservation authority to which $500m could be given and then told: ‘Go out and build dams’. It does not have the power to do it. The Commonwealth has power to do this only in the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory. This is something that the Labor Party just does not realise. It does not realise that the Snowy Mountains Authority is not a construction authority.
The Labor Party has made a lot of the fact that it wants the Snowy Mountains Authority maintained as a construction authority. But the Snowy Authority has never been a construction authority. It has never built a major dam in its life. It has built some township sites and roads; it has done some of the race lines; but it has never built dams. What has happened, of course, is that it prepares the design of the dam, it investigates the dam site, and it then calls tenders. Contractors get the tender. These contractors who are now completing tenders in the Snowy are available for work in other parts of Australia. They will be available to carry out work for State water conservation and irrigation authorities. The States have these authorities. They are very competent and they have been in existence for a very long time - a lot longer than the Snowy Mountains Authority.
One of the problems is that the Snowy Mountains Authority sold itself very well. Its public relations were magnificent. It has some people in Australia - perhaps some of the members of the Labor Party - almost believing that if we do not have a Snowy Mountains Authority we will never build a dam in Australia. This is just ludicrous, because if we look at the total capacity of major irrigation storages in Australia - I am not in any way deriding the magnificent work that has been done by the Authority - we will find that something like 15% has been created by the Snowy Mountains Authority. The rest are being built now by contractors. In earl:er days some of the work was done by day labour employed by the Public Works Departments or the water conservation authorities of the States. I cannot say too often that the Snowy Mountains Authority has never physically built dams. It has designed and investigated the sites, carried out all the investigation work necessary on the hydrology and the yields of the dams, but it has only constructed roads, aqueducts and townships. It has not even constructed any major tunnels.
When the Government was looking at the future of this organisation we had to decide whether there was a continuing use for it. We looked at it very closely. The Government came up with the view, with which I wholeheartedly agreed, that in certain aspects the Snowy Mountains Authority was quite outstanding in Australia and that these elements needed to be retained. There was a need for them in the development particularly of water conservation in Australia - the authority had an excellent laboratory for hydrological works at Cooma - in the letting of tenders for contracts, in the investigation of dam sites and in the design of dams. What had happened was that in earlier days, because it had these facilities, when the Snowy Mountains
Authority had some spare time and was requested to do a job it took on the job, it was paid for it and everyone was happy. Eventually, when I came into office, I found that this had built up into quite a large organisation. No one had said that there was any reason why it should not proceed, so I agreed, as the Minister had to, to various requests for the Snowy Mountains Authority to undertake such work. But then suddenly a warning shot was fired by the AuditorGeneral who said that he doubted that the Authority had the legal power to undertake this work. It is because of that warning that the present Bill has now been introduced.
Even though the Government brings in a Bill it has no power at all unless the States bring in complementary legislation. One of the jobs that I had to do, and that my successor has had to do, was to go to the States, tell them the sort of legislation we were proposing and ask them whether they would be prepared to enact similar legislation so that when the Authority did undertake works for the States it would be legally valid. That is the reason why the Bill has come in and why we have said quite definitely that the Authority must not itself construct. It must be only an organisation for investigation and design in this country. Overseas we have full power and therefore the Authority will be entitled, if necessary, to construct, although it is almost certain that it will not be doing construction; it will be supervising tenders as it is doing in Sabah. The Authority actually constructs some of the roadwork although it is more concerned with training local people than with itself constructing.
The Government is concerned to see that the organisation should not become a sort of vast Socialist enterprise which would take over from people who are working in fields in which they are perfectly competent and able to undertake the work. Both the Commissioner and I have had on occasions to knock back work which the Authority was asked to undertake because we said that it was not a field in which the Authority ought to intrude; it was a field in which there were competent consultants and engineers to undertake the work and they were the ones who should undertake it. In order to ensure that the Authority, perhaps in the hands of another government, does not become a vast Socialist enterprise taking over the construction side of dams in Australia we have had to put these brakes on expansion. We have had to say that there should be a limit to the size of the Corporation. We have had to stipulate categories of -dams and other works for the storage and conveyance of water. We have had to state the functions of the organisation as work of an investigatory, design and advisory nature including the supervision of contracts in the engineering field but not construction in Australia. We have had to say that the Authority can work in Australia for governments but when it is working for private individuals it must be commissioned by private consultants. We have had to set up an advisory committee.
The Labor Party seems to find all these things anathema. Honourable members should not forget that there is a vast and growing field of very able consultants in Australia. We do not want a Socialist enterprise, one which might be given an unfair advantage, to be able to go in and knock these people out. They have every right to continue and there are far more of them-
– Why not?
– Of course the Labor Party only wants a Socialist organisation. It does not believe in private enterprise. We realise that that is what the Opposition wants and why it is moving these amendments. We believe that ministerial approval is needed. The honourable member for Lang said that getting ministerial approval involves a lengthy delay. Does the honourable member not realise that at the moment the Minister approves every work undertaken by the Authority? I am sure that none of the Commissioners would say there had been undue delay. On the other hand I do believe that the setting up of this organisation will enable consultants to get into fields which they are not in at the present moment. A vast amount of work is being undertaken overseas, particularly in South East Asia. Most of that work is going to the big organisations from the United States of America or the United Kingdom. If a small consultant from Australia applied for some work he would be asked immediately: ‘What sort of expertise have you got? What have you got behind you?’ If he could go in and say: ‘I have not got any expertise in a particular field but the Snowy
Mountains Authority has told me that it will assist me in that field and we are putting in a joint tender, he would get the work which either of them separately would not have got.
The Snowy Mountains Authority has a well known name, lt has been able to win contracts overseas and has been able to let out portions of those contracts such as that for the Sabah road. In that respect it has let out the consultant work on the bridges to a well known Australian firm. 1 believe that the combination of the consultant and the Corporation as it is being set up will help Australia to get into this, vast field. Not only overseas but in Australia there is an enormous amount of work. Much of this work is being undertaken by overseas firms. We know very well that had some of the work on the Eastern Suburbs Railway not been undertaken by the Snowy Mountains Authority it would have gone to an overseas firm. We want to see the Corporation and the consultants working closely together. In order to see that there is no unfair and undue competition to the detriment of private enterprise we naturally have had to stipulate that the organisation would be under the Public Service Board for wages and conditions and that it would pay income tax. What is wrong with that? Do not honourable, members opposite expect other organisations to pay income tax? We stipulated that the organisation would charge the normal, standard fees and so it would compete for work on just terms with consultants and assist them to get additional work.
The extraordinary thing is that the Labor Party seems to think that all you have got to do is create a huge organisation, give it millions of dollars and vast authority and tell it to go off and . spend money, and when it has spent it to come back and ask for more. That is a ludicrous attitude. The greatest shortage in Australia is not of water; it is of money. We would be able to construct any dams if we had the money. I suppose we could print the money, but that would lead to inflation and would not get us very far. We have stepped up enormously, through the proper channels and through the States, the amount of construction and water conservation that is. being undertaken. 1 do not want to go through all this again because 1 have told the House of the enormous increase that there has been in water conservation in the last 20 years. When we came into power the total capacity of water storages for irrigation was 7 million acre feet throughout Australia. lt will be over 50 million acre feet when everything being constructed is completed. We have the national water resources development programme. We have the Australian Water Resources Council with its accelerated programme of measurement of surface and underground water. We have started all these, works with Commonwealth funds. I instance also the Snowy, Blowering and Ord schemes, the Western Australian comprehensive scheme, flood mitigation, and hydro-electric works in Tasmania. We will retain the Snowy organisation to assist in this particular aspect of the development of our water resources. We have set up a hydrology research programme. 1 recommend strongly to the House that this measure be accepted.. 1 am afraid, as I have said, that members of the Labor Party have completely failed, either intentionally or unintentionally, to understand that they do not have the power to set up an organisation which can go out and build dams wherever it wants to go. They do not understand that they lack the legal power to enable this, authority to work in the States. For these reasons I support the Bill strongly.
– This legislation inevitably marks the end of the one organisation which could have undertaken further great water conservation tasks throughout Australia. The honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart) has most convincingly shown that the new Corporation now to be established will, firstly, have a role given to it far too narrow to enable it to perform a useful task in this field and, secondly, it will be hedged around with such severe restrictions that, in fact, it will be strangled at birth, and this will be the end of the whole dream except for that part of it which exists today in the Snowy Mountains, in the irrigation areas and in the electricity which is flowing from that great project. I have heard nothing more pitiful in my many years in this
House than the speech just made by the honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn).
– It was a good speech.
– I agree that the honourable member would find it a very good speech because it was founded entirely upon his narrow distaste for anything initiated or achieved by a Labor government and characterised by his utter distaste for anything which has any aspect of Socialism attached to it. The Snowy Mountains project was, of course, and still is a great Socialist project. It is a public work.
– Private enterprise built it.
– It is a public work carried out in the public interest without the private profit motive involved. Even the honourable member for Farrer would not say, as the honourable member for Hume so naively does, that the Snowy Mountains project could have been carried out as a profit-making private free enterprise project. Of course he does not. But he has devoted much of his speech to criticising the achievements of Labor governments in the field of water conservation. He has criticised delays; he has criticised costs. He knows that his own party is completely safe from such criticisms because it has never done anything worth while at all in this field. The most extraordinary statement made by the honourable member for Farrer who, after all, was the Minister for National Development in charge of this project, was that the project could not be carried out under the defence powers of the .Commonwealth.
– Could not be today.
– That is right; could not today be carried out under the defence powers of the Commonwealth. That is exactly what was said by the then members of the Liberal and Country Parties when the legislation to establish this project was brought before the Parliament. Their Leader, then Mr Menzies, now Sir Robert Menzies, declared in this House that it could not be carried out because the defence powers would never permit it - that it could not be founded upon the defence powers. He used exactly the same words as the honourable member for Farrer is using, except that the honourable member is using them 20 years later and after the project has been almost completed, and partly completed under his ministerial control. It would be only in the most narrow and, if the honourable member for Farrer will permit the expression, politically idiotic sense that it could be said that the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority had not been, in actual fact, a construction authority. If he will look at the speech of his successor in introducing this Bill he will see that the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) paid tribute to the work of the Snowy Mountains Authority as a construction authority and he gave it credit for the great construction carried out in the Snowy Mountains area. He was equally at pains to point out that the new Corporation would not have the construction tasks carried out by the Snowy Mountains authority.
The work which exists in the Snowy Mountains area today is the result of the establishment of an authority which had not only consulting and design but full construction powers and exercised them. This legislation is a betrayal of pledges made to this Parliament and to the people of Australia by successive Liberal Prime Ministers and by many other Ministers in the present coalition Government and its predecessors the Holt Government and the Menzies Government. Sir Robert Menzies, when Prime Minister, said:
It is inconceivable that when the present Snowy Mountains task is completed this great team will not be used to carry out further such great conservation tasks in the interests of the whole of the people of Australia.
The honourable member for Farrer, when Minister for National Development, while he did not use terms so clear, concise and emphatic as did the then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, very frequently, when questioned and challenged by motions from this side of the House, gave every kind of assurance that the people of the Snowy Mountains area and the staff of the Snowy Mountains Authority had no cause whatever to fear: They would be guaranteed continued work in their chosen field throughout the whole of their working lifetimes.
– Did he say that?
– Yes, and yet today in this place we see the complete betrayal, the-complete falsification, of those statements made by honourable members -and Ministers opposite.
– What page of Hansard is that on?
– Does the honourable member have to be reminded? Does he deny-
– What is your authority?
– I am asking the honourable member for Farrer whether he cares to deny that he gave assurances of that kind- that he gave the people of the Snowy Mountains area and the staff of the Authority reason to believe that there would be a future for them in enterprises of this kind.
– Quote your authority.
– 1 am asking him whether he denies it.. If he denies it and denies it and denies- it, it will still remain true. The words have been stated and they cannot be recalled, but he does not deny having said them.
– Of course I do.
– Where is your authority? Where is it in Hansard?
– L have it in a hundred places. 1 only want to be assured that the honourable member for Farrer denies that when . Minister for National Development he. held out to the people of the Snowy Mountains area and the staff oft the Snowy Mountains Authority an assurance that they need have no cause to feal that when the project was completed they would continue to be employed in similar projects as long as they lived. Does he deny it?
– 1 never said that all of them were given that assurance. 1 said that there would be a future for some.
Order! I suggest that the honourable member address his remarks to the Chair.
– Yes, Mr Deputy Speaker. You are right to remind me to address you. It is little use addressing this challenge to honourable members on the Government side of the House. The evidence is available, and if I were challenged to produce it in direct terms it would be produced. The honourable member for Farrer followed the Minister for National Development in praising the tremendous achievement of the Snowy Mountains Authority. It is worth recalling, when we see this Government now intent on- destroying the last vestiges of the Authority, that the great project which members of the Government tonight have praised in such tremendous and extravagant terms is a project which in this Parliament they opposed at its inception and which they, all except 2 of them, boycotted when its opening ceremony took place. They were against it then; they have been against it in their hearts ever since, and they make plain tonight their opposition to it because there is no private profit in ti or dividends to achieve from it. It is simply a public work to be carried out in the interests of the Australian people.
– A monument to Democratic Socialism.
– That is exactly what it is. Mr Deputy Speaker, I want to direct your attention to one extraordinary aspect of this new legislation. While the new Corporation is to be prevented from carrying out any construction tasks inside Australia at a time when this continent is crying out for the conservation of water, it is to be permitted, authorised and encouraged to carry out such construction tasks in foreign countries out of funds provided by the Australian taxpayer. What kind of sense does it make that when we have an urgent need for water conservation in Australia we deny to an authority the right to engage in these tasks inside Australia while at the same time wc specifically authorise it, and provide for their financing from Australian taxpayers’ funds, to carry out such projects in foreign countries? Yet that is exactly what the Bill provides and what the Minister himself declared in his second reading speech. The purpose of it, of course, is exceedingly clear. The Minister himself left no doubt why this was not to be allowed to be done in Australia. He said: . we arc conscious of the growing importance of the services of local private engineering consulting organisation*. It is not the Government’s intention to set up an organisation which will compete directly in all fields with Austraiian engineering consultants. We consider that most of the jobs the Snowy will undertake will be those which up to now have been done by foreign consultants or will be in fields not adequately served at present by Australian consultants.
He then went on:
So far as overseas work is concerned, the Snowy will be authorised to work in a somewhat wider field. It will be able to act as a constructing authority and supervise construction of projects in the fullest sense of this term.
In other words, it will be able to do this except inside Australia itself. These works, of course, as I have said, will be paid for out of funds made available by the Australian Government.
– Tt is exporting Socialism.
– Yes. This is a carrying out of a public service by a public utility and opposed to all those outmoded concepts to which honourable members opposite show that they still adhere once the pressure is put on them. I would like to give some examples of the way in which the Corporation will be restricted, completely tied, even in the very narrow field of consultation which it has been permitted to enter. The honourable member for Lang has pointed out that in most of these fields it will be unable to undertake any task unless it is invited to do so by a private organisation. It will then not be able to proceed until, it has the approval of a body, upon which the private consultants will have 2 out of the 4 representatives, on works to be carried out in Australia. Finally, even if it has managed to get past both these hurdles it will still have to obtain the personal approval of the Minister.
The Minister said that he expects much of the work for the Corporation to come from mining companies. Much of the work that it could handle could come from mining companies, but the work required by mining companies is the kind of work which requires an immediate decision. The Corporation will be utterly unable to make an immediate decision. In addition there is a requirement that the Corporation will have to charge cost plus 100% and that it will have to go through an outside consulting firm as well, which will add 10% to the cost. So in the mining field it is quite clear that the Corporation will be effectively priced out altogether. The statement made by the Minister that he expects a great deal of this work to come from the mining companies is either naive or hypocritical politically. Why should this Corporation be required to charge cost plus 100% and in addition engage private consultants who will charge additional fees?
The honourable member for Farrer well knows, as he was once Minister for National Development, that there is a Division of Rock Mechanics in the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. No obligation is placed upon it to become involved in paying consulting engineers’ fees, although its work is mainly the investigation of rock stresses, etc., in tunnels for mining companies. The Division does not have to call into action all the private consultants that this new Corporation will have to; nor does it have to charge 100% of costs or even 50% of costs. It is allowed to make its own judgment as to the fees it charges for this very similar type of work. Why is this crippling obligation placed upon the new corporation except for the purpose of ensuring that it will never function effectively?
Let us look at the part which can be played actually by these consulting firms. The honourable member for Farrer will be interested in this because he was the Minister for National Development at the time. The River Murray Commission called in the firm of Gutteridge, Haskins and Davey to do the salinity test on the Chowilla Dam site. The Snowy Mountains Authority was approached also to do a feasibility study on the dam. Gutteridge, Haskins and Davey asked the SMA to do the salinity test which that firm had been approached by the River Murray Commission to do. The Authority actually did that work. That is not a secret. It could not be a secret. Dozens of Snowy Mountains Authority staff worked on the salinity test for the Chowilla Dam and the fact is exceedingly well known. The then Minister for National Development, the present member for Farrer, passed the results on to the South Australian Government. He said in effect: Look, the consultants have reported that the tests are adverse*. But the work was done by the Snowy Mountains Authority.
Let us suppose that, after the Snowy Mountains Authority is phased out, the Snowy Mountains Council takes over and has control of all work in the Snowy Mountains, something serious occurs inside the Snowy Mountains project. Let us say that a rock fall occurs in a tunnel - for instance, the Snowy-Eucumbene tunnel - or that indications develop of a pipeline breaking. The Snowy Mountains Council, let us suppose, seeks the immediate aid of the new Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation whose staff will be established in the very same building. Under this legislation, the Corporation would have to reply: ‘We realise the gravity and the urgency of the matter on which you wish us to report; but, before we can do this or any job, we must obtain the approval of the Minister for National Development’. But I make the point that before the Minister can give his approval to that body he will have to obtain the approval of the consultative council, some of whose members might be thousands of miles away. Such a procedure for an urgent task is as tragic as it is farcical. Disaster could and would very easily strike while the formalities were pursued not only for days but for weeks.
The honourable member for Lang has dealt with the deficiencies of this legislation in respect of the staff who will be employed by the Corporation. Scarcely any mention is made of superannuation- in this legislation. Is it not realised that, so -far as the Snowy Mountains Authority itself was concerned, the superannuation scheme of that Authority closed in 1962 or 1963? No-one has been able to get on to a superannuation scheme in Snowy staff employment since that time. What happens to those who are transferred from the Snowy Mountains Authority to this new Corporation? What security of employment will there be for them? If they have 10 years employment with the Snowy Mountains Authority, then have 10 years employment with the new Corporation and are told then that they are not required further, what provision is there to be for them?
May I make this further point: There will .be no inducement for anyone to stay with this new Corporation either from the point of view of security or from the point of view of possessing a challenging job. Many men joined the Snowy Mountains Authority and took far less money than they could earn in private enterprises because they were seized with the magnificent concept of this great water conservation and electricity scheme. Nothing challenging or inspiring to the enthusiasm of men is to be found in the very minor task which has been allotted to the new Corporation.
– A song was even written about it.
– Indeed, that is right. I think that the attitude of the Government when this debate was resumed tonight is significant. When the honourable member for Lang put the official viewpoint of the Opposition not one Min’ster even indirectly connected with this project was in the chamber throughout the whole of his speech. The Minister put on duty at the table is the Minister still at the table, the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth), who is the most reactionary, I suppose, of all of the anti-socialists on the Government side.
– Where was the Leader of the Opposition? Where was the Deputy Leader of the Opposition?
-Order! I understand that the honourable member for Cowper is to speak in this debate and that in fact he will follow the honourable member for Eden-Monaro. He will have the opportunity to say something then.
– When the honourable member for Farrer rose to speak - not 1 Minister having been sufficiently interested either to listen to or to rise in reply to the case made by the honourable member for Lang - on the Government side, apart from the honouable member for Farrer himself and the Minister for Social Services at the table, only 1 other member of all the 66 members of the Government Parties was present. A quorum had to be called from the Opposition side at that time to get any of those members into the chamber to listen to their own member, their own former Minister. I realise that, in recent days, he has suffered some humiliation. He has gone through some bitter and difficult experiences-
-Order! I would suggest that the honourable member for EdenMonaro comes back to the Bill.
– I am speaking directly to the Bill when I say-
-Order! I would suggest also to the honourable member for EdenMonaro that all personal imputations against any honourable member-
– I am making no personal imputation when I say that this man has been through a bitter experience. I sympathise with him in it. But I imagine that no man has been placed in a more humiliating and bitter position than the position in’ which the honourable member for Farrer was placed tonight when even the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock), who is now interjecting, and all the rest of his colleagues, except one, were absent from their places in the chamber when he spoke. I will not say any more on that.
– You do not need to. You have shut your own case, as you usually do.
-Order! The House will come to order.
– I have only a few moments left. I want to say this: The day must and will come, despite what those people on the other side of the House are doing at present, when a national conservation authority win be established to tackle the great tasks which must be undertaken in this country. Obviously, despite all the false promises and despite all the betrayals, it is now clear that that action will not come from a government constituted by members of the Liberal Party and the Country Party. It has been made abundantly clear by the speech of the honourable member for Farrer - first, by his damning of projects of this kind as being socialist, which they are; and, secondly, by his easy assumption that the High Court w l! never authorise again what was carried through successfully ever since 1947 and which was never challenged in the courts by anyone - that this action will come from a succeeding Labor government.
Those people in the employ of the Snowy Mountains Authority who today are so full with resentment, doubt, distress and uncertainty about the r future, while they themselves may not return to participate in such an establishment - that is, such a conservation authority - will be given the opportunity to do so. I am certain that many of them will respond to that opportunity, that we will see the great conservation tasks for which Australia is crying urgently carried out by a Labor government, that it will be in power to do this within the next 12 months or so, and that it will make the carrying out of this task, immediately it is elected, a No. 1 priority.
- Mr Speaker, I rise to support the legislation for the setting up of the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation which, I believe, will play a very significant part in the future development of this nation. Despite the criticism that we have heard this evening from the Opposition there is no doubt at all that a future exists for such a corporation.
We have listened to some quite unfounded criticisms this evening. The honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Allan Fraser) who, I believe, represents that part of Australia which covers at least the main section of the Snowy Mountains area in which this project has been developed and is being brought to completion, has been quite destructive, quite unfair and lacking completely in judgment in what he has said tonight. Of course, the evidence of his lack of understanding is no surprise to honourable members on this side of the House. He became quite personal in an attack on the former Minister for National Development, the honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn). I deprecate his attitude. He claimed that no Minister had been present in the chamber during the debate. He failed to recognise that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) and no responsible member of Labor’s shadow Ministry had appeared in the chamber to support his cause. So his arguments fall to the ground.
I do not want to take up the time of the House in what might be described as spurious approaches to this very important matter. I believe that the accomplishments of the Snowy Mountains Authority have been recognised. The Authority was the means of developing and constructing to a stage of near completion a very great project. The Labor Party fails to recognise that this work is nearing completion. It fails to recognise that there is no project work which can be continued under the Snowy Mountains scheme. So when we ask ourselves what the old Authority can do under its charter we find that there is no project in contemplation which is applicable to the Authority. This is patently clear. The Government has taken into consideration every facet of logical development in this nation in coming to the decision which has resulted in the proposals, embodied in the legislation now before us- a decision that henceforth the Authority should change. The States were approached by the Commonwealth and asked for their views. There were many discussions about the future utilisation of the Authority as it was constituted. The States wanted to guard very jealously their rights to maintain their approach to the construction of water con? servation projects and other major public works projects in the States. 1 had some misgivings about this situation but I am a States righter and 1 believe that there is justification for the States to maintain their sovereignly in this field. This evening the Opposition has demonstrated that if it occupied the treasury bench it would be a centralist political power. These days the allegation is consistently made that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) is a centralist. Well, that allegation is not borne out in this matter.
The Opposition -has claimed this evening that the Snowy. Mountains scheme is a monument to democratic Socialism. This is undoubtedly true but not in terms of the hard cold facts of reality. We recall that the Snowy Mountains Authority did an excellent job in the face of what might be termed the demands of people who did not like this kind of approach to a great public works in this nation. Under the leadership of Sir William Hudson and others there developed a relationship between management and labour which set a pattern for low costs, efficiency, completion on time and getting the job done in a way that could not be compared with the old fashioned approach in the States. The Authority is not a monument to democratic Socialism; it is a monument to the drive and initiative of people who went out not to follow the old methods but to introduce new ones, to get new thinking and new concepts and to get the job done. It is a tragedy for Australia that people like the honourable member for Eden-Monaro and so many others have stirred up dissatisfaction amongst the staff of the Snowy Mountains Authority; have caused dis sension; have created misunderstandings; have maligned the former Minister for National Development; have criticised this Government and in so doing have lost sight of what might have been a somewhat better approach to this difficult and complex problem of finding a new role for the Snowy Mountains Authority and the dedicated people who work not only at the executive level but in the field to create in Australia a great organisation.
The Government has adopted the only course open to it in establishing the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation. Any alternative approach would have meant the continuation of an organisation capable of carrying out construction work or calling for tenders for work to be carried out. This would have meant having .in Australia virtually a centralist body which could turn its attention to a project only in cases of difficulty, because after all the Commonwealth’s control does not extend beyond the Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory or one or two Territories beyond the mainland. When it comes to dealing with work within a State it is a totally different matter. Someone has asked: ‘What about Cooma?’ He forgets the origin of the Snowy Mountains scheme - the fact that the Constitution provided a certain basis for the establishment of the scheme. This was the interest of the respective States in the waters of the River Murray. This was a clear and precise base which could be used at the Commonwealth level. There has been reference to defence powers and constitutional approaches but fundamentally there was a starting point which made the scheme possible.
The founders of the Constitution recognised that the River Murray had a particular significance in this continent. This is not the case with other river systems. It is patently clear, therefore, why the Snowy Mountains Authority was not asked to carry -out construction work on, for example, the Ord River scheme; to cany out construction of the Fairbairn Dam in Queensland: to carry out construction of the King River Dam in Victoria; to build the Keith to Tailem Bend pipeline in South Australia; to carry out work on the greater water supply of Western Australia. These are projects being assisted financially by the Commonwealth but their construction is a matter for the respective States. There are many more important works in the national water resources programme. There are many more works coming under the National Water Resources programme, and they are very important works. These include the Copeton Dam and the projected border rivers scheme in New South Wales, a considerable development along the east coast of Australia within my own electorate and those of my colleagues, the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock), the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) and others-
-Order! It being 11 p.m., in accordance with the order of the House of 16th April I propose the question:
Thai the House do now adjourn.
– ask that the question be put forthwith.
Question put -
That the House do now adjourn.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker—Hon. Sir William Aston)
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the negative.
– I was referring to extensive work on the east coast of Australia in the field of flood mitigation. This work is being carried out by local authorities. Again, this work is somewhat inappropriate for the old Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. I had an interest in the possible future use of some-
– I rise to a point of order. I want a ruling on the lime available to the honourable member for Cowper. As I saw it the clock stopped, went hack to zero, and came back again. It should have continued while the division was proceeding. I would like to know what the position is. Why was the clock moved back to zero and then set back to the normal time again?
– The debate was interrupted.
– Why did the clock not continue. It was moved back to zero. I noted it.
– It was not moved back to zero.
-Order! That is quite in order. The clock went back to zero because the motion was that the House do now adjourn. The House then decided that it would not adjourn and, therefore, the time was put back to account for the time that the honourable member for Cowper had used in the course of his speech.
– Within my own electorate perhaps one of the greatest potentials for a major scheme is one not dissimilar to the Snowy Mountains scheme. The Clarence River, with its catchment, has an annual run-off of some 4 million acre feet and there is a possibility that in the future a considerable amount of work could be done in that area of a nature which could involve hydro-electric generation with diversions to inland areas as well as storage facilities and irrigation works within the valley itself. In th s regard the New South Wales Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission has begun only in the last few weeks an investigation of what would be known as the Jackadgery Dam. This could be as large as any construction carried out under the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric scheme. But again this is a matter of, first of all, the State’s own rights to look at the project, to see what it .can do and what it believes should be done, and to make recommendations.
If we were to ask the Snowy Mountains Authority, as it was, to come in to survey, to assess and so on, we would immediately put the Commonwealth imprimatur on a State project. We would immediately see a situation in which there would be a call for vast sums of money. Of course, I would be delighted to see this happen in my own electorate. I am here to advocate that this should happen but I do recognise that there are procedures and ways and means of getting projects of this kind recognised and eventually put into effect. It certainly would not, in my view, be in the interests of this or any other scheme to try to lump them all under the one authority for the whole of the Commonwealth. In effect this is what it would mean if we were to try to carry on with the old Authority and give it the province of overseeing, investigating projects and making recommendations, and then proceed to be the authority for the construction of every major dam and water conservation project, irrigation scheme, flood mitigation works and the like throughout the Commonwealth.
The inquiries that have come to the Snowy Mountains Authority, and which will subsequently be a matter of concern for the new Corporation, include such propositions as the further work on the Eastern Suburbs railway in Sydney and a proposal by the Bolte Government in Victoria that there should be an underground railway system in Melbourne. The Snowy Mountains Authority has been referred to as a possible source of engineering advice for these works. It would be a fine thing if there were unlimited financial resources available so that this Authority could go and carry out all these projects, but if this were so what would happen to the interests of the States? [Quorum formed.]
There is a tremendous national responsibility for great projects to proceed. I believe that the new Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation will play a very big part in this important developmental work. I believe that the Commonwealth, which has to assist the States and which has to play the particular role of supplementing finance to provide State works, will be able to do its job in an effective manner by drawing upon the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation for advice and guidance - by seeking from it specific reports on particular projects and the like.
I am sorry that there is a lot of discontent and a lot of unhappiness on the part of those fine engineers and others who worked at Cooma and who were so much a key factor in bringing the great Snowy Mountains Scheme to fruition. I only wish there was some way to enable them to carry on as they have in the past, but I think that the transitional period will give them new hope and new heart and that there will be an approach which will be quite different to that which we heard expressed by the honourable member for Eden Monaro and others who want to. destroy confidence and who want to destroy the soul, so to speak, of those who are dedicated. The honourable member and the others to whom I refer paint a gloomy picture for the future.
It is a very practical factor that, from the engineering point of view, those who were engaged on the great Snowy Scheme had to work ahead of the project. They had to carry out design work well ahead of the particular segment of the scheme. It was only natural that there had to be a tapering off in this Held. In trying to cushion this tapering off, the Government has done all in its power to give these people other tasks to perform. I think it is to the credit of the Government that it has found not only in Australia but also overseas opportunities for these men to engage their skills and to have some opportunity of carrying forward into the future their great capacity in this important field of conservation and construction, lt is naturally disappointing to them that they do not have something comparable with the Snowy Mountains scheme to which to turn.
If that had been the case, tonight we would not be debating this measure. We. would not have heard many of the complaints that were expressed in this House in the last 18 months, lt would be merely a matter of changing over from one scheme to another, but unfortunately there is not a similar scheme to which the Authority can turn its attention. There are other works, and these have been referred to and explained in considerable detail in this debate. I express the hope that the new Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation will be engaged by State governments and will be brought into use to a far greater extent than has thus far been envisaged. I believe that this is a proper approach, and the more so if there is recognition of the skill that this new Corporation possesses and can develop. There are further fields of endeavour for men of the capacity of these men who have been engaged on the scheme in the past. There are specialist tasks to be engaged in but which are the province of the States. If the States will see the value of the service that can be rendered by the Corporation, it will be a useful thing for Australia and for the governments jointly. Working in co-operation, they will see the value of some teamwork but they will not interfere one with the other in their particular approach to the requirements of the respective parts of the Commonwealth.
Tonight we are dealing not with what has been described by the Opposition as the end of the Snowy Authority but with a new phase of what has been a great demonstration of Australian capacity in the construction field. We are setting the stage for a new era which could well be significant for Australia’s future development. I hope the Opposition will recognise this and that we will not see a continuation of destructive comment and destructive debate, that we will not see further fomenting of dissatisfaction than we have thus far witnessed in relation to this matter. 1 believe there is a great need for optimism so far as the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation is concerned. I am certain that if this optimistic attitude is adopted there will be greater recognition of the capacity which can be developed from the very efficient, sound and proven base that exists, within this organisation which is now completing the great task of constructing the Snowy Mountains project. I support this legislation to the full. I believe it is in the best interests of this nation and, having regard to all the factors which must be taken into consideration, in the best interests of all concerned.
– I join with my colleagues on this side of the House to categorically affirm our belief that the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority should be retained in its entirety in the national interest. The attitude and policy of the Australian Labor Party in regard to this Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation Bill has been made clear by the amendments foreshadowed by the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart). If one studies the implications of the Bill it is obvious what is to happen to the current structure and operations of the Snowy Mountains Authority. This Government, with deliberate intent, has set out to scuttle and emasculate the Authority. Having crucified the Authority the Government then proceeds to resurrect it in the guise of this proposed Corporation which is to operate on a commercial basis. As the honourable member for Lang has shown clearly by referring to the restrictive provisions of the Bill, such a concept is a farce. This Government purports to believe in private enterprise and freedom of competition but is attempting to strangle the Corporation by means of this legislation.
One has to admit that the Government is consistent at least in one direction. Whenever or wherever a public or semi-public organisation or instrumentality is shown to be economically viable and making a profit the Government either hands it over to private enterprise for exploitation or, as in this particular instance, in order to protect the private consultants, it ensures bv way of legislation that freedom of competition will not be one of its attributes or a condition of its operation.
The Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme is the largest developmental project ever undertaken in Australia’s history. The speed and efficiency of its construction and the expertise of the men attached to the Snowy Mountains Authority have received world wide acclaim. Nobody disputes that fact. The former Minister for National Development, the honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn), has been extremely vocal in both the achievements of the Authority and, more particularly, its destiny. He made a Press statement on this issue on 1st June 1967. He made ministerial statements in this House on 28th November 1968 and 28th August 1969. He made his last statement on 11th October 1969. I would like honourable members to note particularly the former Minister’s statement on 11th October. After heaping plaudits onto the Authority he went on to say:
Now originally the Snowy Mountains Scheme had many detractors. There were those who said that it should not have been started; it was very expensive. They have said that power is going to be too costly, but I think you would hardly find a person in Australia today who did not realise what a great project this is and what an enormous benefit it will be to the nation.
I want briefly to analyse this statement. The people of Australia would do well to be reminded of who the detractors were. They would do well to remember that the detractors, the opponents of the Snowy Scheme, were members of this same Government who, when in opposition, so bogged the scheme down on the question of constitutionality and legal provisions that undoubtedly their whole concept of the scheme was to oppose it. They were the people who vented their spleen to the extent of boycotting the official opening. I hasten to point out, however, that they ‘ were not at all reticent in reaping the kudos, as explained in the book ‘Struggle for the Snowy’ by Lionel Wigmore, commissioned by Sir Robert Menzies. A reader of the book would imagine that it was a Liberal Government which had the vision, courage and foresight needed to start the project, the benefits of which this nation has yet fully to measure. Nothing could be further from the truth. I remind honourable members and the people of Australia that the scheme was introduced by a Labor Government. It was implemented by the Chifley Labor Government and it is to the Labour Party that the nation owes a debt of gratitude, not to the Party which bogged the proposal down with legalism and has a complete and utter aversion to a national development policy.
– That is hardly fair.
– After listening to the speeches made by Government supporters tonight I think it is accurate. The honourable member for Farrer, who was the former Minister for National Development, went on to say:
So we have now spent, as Mr Munro said, $696m on this project and will spend close to $800m before the scheme is completed, lt is of great interest to note that this figure was set some IS years ago.
He was referring to the figure of $800m. He went on:
I only wish we could say in government that every other department and form of government is as accurate in its costing as the Snowy Mountains Authority has been. I can assure you that there would be far less worry for the Treasurer if this were so.
That is a remarkably accurate and telling statement. Let us go a little further. What are the other financial facts which are important if we are fairly to judge this legislation? Apart from the total outlay the Snowy Mountains scheme cost about $800m. Firstly, the Authority has been geared to the supervision annually of work valued at about $40m. This approx mates the amount spent collectively by all the States on rural water development projects each year. Secondly, the Authority has done considerable work in South East Asia in recent years, to a value of about Sim a year. Thirdly, it is admitted that the Authority has been carrying out consultative activity on a relatively restricted scale for years, as reflected in the provisions of this Bill. Its consulting fees now exceed S2m a year. Fourthly, it is understood that the fees paid to foreign consultants run into millions of dollars a year. It is admitted that in the case of a major project in New South Wales the contract would have been let to overseas consultants had the Authority not been permitted to undertake it. Fifthly, and above all, the Snowy scheme when operating W 11 earn between $40m and $S0m a year, and the capital was all provided from revenue.
The sheer weight of the former Minister’s assessment of the competence of the Authority and the sheer weight in terms of capital return - that is, the profitability - and the assets which this nation has reaped and will continue to reap, cut right across this Government’s assessment of the situation made in complete defiance of a vast body of public opinion throughout the country. However, these facts are unpalatable to the Government. What possible justification does it have for refusing to have the Corporation operate the scheme in a free, open and competitive market? lt is admitted by the Minister that the fees charged by the Authority for consulting work are well below the fees charged by foreign consultants. Does the Government challenge the fact that there is no body of consultants, either public or private, in this country which has collectively either the scope or expertise in the field in which the Authority has won world acclaim? This country must retain that asset. I ask the Minister: Is there a glut of consultants? ls there insufficient work or are there’ insufficient prospective projects? Has the Government the audacity to claim that there are no further major national projects for which the Authority could be usefully commissioned? If these are the factors on which this- Government has based its assessment, then we say they clearly do not exist. As such they give no justification for the restrictive provisions imposed on the Corporation in this Bill. The only logical conclusion to be drawn from the policy is that what is being done is being done firstly to protect the vested interests of foreign consultants and contractors, as is instanced by the letting of a contract worth $20,342,000 to an American consortium for the construction of the Copeton Dam in New -South Wales and secondly to protect the vested interest of private consultants and contractors in Australia.
Let me sum up this aspect briefly, if ever an authority - and there are many which have been set up by this Parliament - has justified its continued existence, it is this authority. It has done so if for no other reason - and there are more tangible reasons - than its competence to handle what might be stated in Liberal philosophy as being the central factor in judgment, that is, its competence and efficiency to become an economic and viable unit. This competence is directly attributable to the expertise in the Authority, which makes it second to none in the world. 1 turn to the last part of the Minister’s statement. He concludes with this hypocritical peroration - and this is where I take issue on the point that he raised with the . honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Allan Fraser). The Minister stated:
Sci, I repeat what I’ have said, but which unfortunately docs not sink in, and that is we arc not disbanding the SMA. -Can 1 repeat that? We are nol demolishing or disbanding the SMA
– Who said that?
– The former Minister for National Development on- 11th October 1969. I would like to quote the words of perhaps the one noted authority in this country who can speak with balanced judgment on this particular problem. I refer to the former head of the Snowy Mountains Authority, Sir William Hudson. I am quoting from the ‘Australian’ of 3rd May 1968. The article states:
Sir William, a former head of the authority, told a Monash University Liberal Club group in Melbourne thai many water development projects in Australia could be started if the Snowy organisation were used. He said: ‘The Snowy group will be used just for design when the project is finished soon. I can’t get an explanation from the Federal Government why the SMA will be just investigating and designing. The Snowy scheme, when finished will earn $40 to $50 million a year and the capital was nearly all provided from revenue. Why can’t that $.40 million be used to keep constructions going? We are told thai water development is a Stale function under the Constitution. This was overcome in the United Slates and we can overcome it here - it was overcome for the Snowy scheme. I don’t agree with any of these constitutional reasons because they are all hooey talk from those who don’t want national development.’ Sir William said some academic economists had said that irrigation was uneconomical. He asked: ‘Where would Israel, California and Arizona be today without it?: The studies he had seen by some academic economists did nol pay due regard to the wider indirect benefits. The economists manipulated figures - which they might believe to be’ right - but which conflicted with the whole history of irrigation. Sir William left the SMA in April last year and is now in business as an engineering consultant.
There is no doubt that he anticipated the Government’s policy. What I ask is this: Does any reasonable person in this House believe, if the Authority is not being disbanded or demolished, other than that this Bill without doubt has literally torn this Authority so far apart that the only vestige which remains is its name? It is small comfort to the people who have put Australia in the forefront in major development projects throughout the world. Above all, it is a pitiful comfort to future development of our nation and its people. In short, this great Authority has been reduced to but a shadow of its former self. This Government in reaching its decision on the fate of this Authority is -guilty of sheer national incompetence and mismanagement. We as a Parliament have not only a responsibility to legislate for the present; we also have a national responsibility to budget for the future needs, commitments and development of this country. It is in the latter area that this Government has failed the nation on this matter.
We as a people live. in what is the driest continent on the earth. Whilst the people of South Australia are fully conscious of that fact, obviously this Government is not. This nation is facing a national crisis. That crisis, beyond doubt and despite what honourable members opposite say, is in the conservation of water. It must be tackled immediately. If ever in this nation’s history there was a time for the retention of this Authority, it is now. If ever there was a time for a national water conservation authority, it is now.
What should astonish honourable members opposite and the public in general is that in 1901 - that was at federation - Australia’s population stood at 3.75 million. By 31st December last year it had increased to 12.5 million. The projection is that in the year 2001 Australia’s population will be 22.7 million. For the information of honourable members opposite, particularly members of the Government, I point out that the present capacity of all major storages existing or under construction in Australia is about 43 million acre feet. That is a significant proportion of the total runoff of 280 million acre feet. If we assume the present projection of population growth which indicates that by the end of the century our population will be about 22 million, we will need about 81 million acre feet at that time. The increase is 38 million acre feet, which is the equivalent of seventeen times the amount made available for irrigation by the Snowy Mountains scheme. It means that we will have to construct an additional 8 Eucumbene dams in that period of time.
– They will have pipelines.
– Never mind about pipelines. The honourable member may have his say later. We have to accept the responsibility that has been accepted by the governments of France, Israel, Great Britain, Canada and the United States. We should now have enough leadership and courage to set up a national water conservation authority. No greater challenge faces this Government or the people. The challenge is perfectly simple. Either this nation is to continue its steady progress and development or it is to stand still. It is not possible, feasible or practicable for this nation to continue to develop without water, be it conventional or desalinated. If this Government lacks the courage, the vision and, above all, the leadership, this path must ultimately and inevitably lead to this nation’s stagnation.
We cannot ignore this problem as though it does not exist. Three obvious factors inhibit a solution. One, which is obvious to anybody who has sat here tonight and listened to the debate and the points of view expressed by members of the Government parties, is that this Government, ever since 1949 when the Snowy Mountains project commenced, has had a complete and utter aversion to any form of policy based on positive, constructive or futuristic planning and development for this country. The second, which is also perfectly obvious, is the petty, artificial State barriers which are set up, which are nothing more than a harvest for politicians, either State or Federal, and which must be submerged in the overall national interest. The third flows from the constitutional section 51 problem. 1, like Sir William Hudson, consider it a load of hooey. If we could overcome the problem in 1949, we can overcome it now.
We must follow the progressive lead of other countries. As a constructive step,I suggest that we set up inter-governmental commissions, boards or agencies - call them what you like - in an attempt to resolve this deadlock. If need be, let us go to the people with a view to an alteration of the Constitution, even if only on this issue. It was done in the field of social services, in connection with the Joint Coal Board and many other issues. It is a problem that is far too crucial to be side-stepped. Let me conclude by stating that this legislation is consistent with Liberal policy. It lacks any vestige of regard for the future of the country. It typifies the Government’s lack of leadership, vision and courage. If that attitude is not rectified in the very near future it will, in my view, ultimately and inevitably mean that this nation’s capacity to progress and develop will be severely inhibited and retarded through all levels whether they be agricultural, industrial or commercial. The price of ineptitude is too high for this country to pay.
- Mr Speaker, it has been very interesting indeed–
Motion (by Mr Giles) put:
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. Sir William Aston)
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and committed pro forma.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
– I rise to express my indignation and utter disgust at the attitude of those who are responsible for controlling the affairs of this House - the Leader of the House (Mr Snedden) and the Government Whip - for the manner in which they have repudiated obligations made to the House and members of the Opposition. A few moments ago the gag was applied when one of the supporters of the Government stood to speak in the debate which has just concluded on the second reading of the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation Bill. I had been promised earlier that other honourable members would be permitted to speak on the second reading of the Bill and take the debate to the Committee stage.
This promise has been repudiated. It has been dishonoured. If the Government acts in this fashion how can it expect members on this side of the House or its own members to respond to promises made by those responsible for those controlling the Parliament? This is one of the most disgraceful happenings in the history of Parliament. Rarely do I speak on an adjournment debate but I do so this evening because I feel that the House has been reduced as a result of the conduct of the Leader of the House and of the Deputy Whip who moved the motion that the question be pui.
The matter being debated concerned the establishment of a Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation. It was a matter of great importance to all Australians and it should have been debated at length. The views of members from both sides of the House should have been heard on this matter for it transcends party considerations. It affects every person in the Parliament just as it affects every man, woman and child in Australia and as it will affect future generations of Australians. 1 deplore the conduct of the Government. I condemn it and I say to those responsible that they can expect a return of kind in relation to actions of this nature. I resent it, I condemn it and 1 deplore it. It is one of the most shameful things that has occurred in the history of the Parliament.
- Mr Speaker, I seek leave to make a personal explanation.
– Order! Does the honourable member claim to be misrepresented?
– Yes. The honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) accused certain people of giving-
– He did not mention the honourable member’s name. He should sit down.
-Order! - Mr TURNBULL- He mentioned certain people.
– I rise to order. 1 did not refer to the honourable member. He did not speak so he could not have been misrepresented.
-Order! The honourable member for Macquarie will resume his se.a. Does the honourable member for Mallee claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I do.
-I ask the honourable member to explain how he has been misrepresented.
– When I explain, the honourable member who misrepresented me will realise that he has done so. He referred to the Deputy Government Whip as saying certain things. I am the Deputy Government Whip and I did not make any promises and he should withdraw that statement.
– I referred to the honourable member for Angas.
– I want to speak on this motion to adjourn the House. It was my understanding from u conversation with the Leader of the House ‘Mr Snedden) that the debate on the second reading stage of the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation Bill would continue into the morning. This procedure has now been denied. The fact of the matter is that while we have had one Government member getting up on an extremely petty point of misrepresentation the Government tonight has misrepresented entirely the concepts of parliamentary debate. Members opposite sit with supercilious grins on their faces because they realise that at this stage they can play the numbers game, but they will not always be able to play the numbers game in this chamber. They are most certainly belittling themselves in the eyes of the public.
When the Snowy Mountains public relations authority was not curtailed by a previous Minister over 250,000 people annually went over the Snowy Mountains scheme and examined it, but this year the figure has dropped to a mere 900. Obviously, the Government has restricted visits to the scheme because it is fearful that the public, in viewing the scheme, will be prompted to support the retention of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Authority. However it is not on that point that I want to speak tonight. I again make the point that has been made in this chamber before and I refer to a situation that has unfortunately prevailed in this House in earlier sittings. It did seem that sanity had returned to the Government for a short time in respect of its treatment of the Opposition, but members opposite have extremely short memories because we are back again to the system of the gag. No doubt they want to get out of this place this week, as do members of the Opposition, but we cannot bc held responsible for the stupid procrastination and time wasting that has obtained in this place since March, when we first mct, as a result of the waste of time engaged in by Government members in a number of debates. Apparently they will continue to waste time and ride roughshod over the processes of this House, or they will use the processes of this House in a manner which can be described only as an abuse of those privileges which should be available to parliamentarians to enable them to voice their opinions on the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation Bill and Bills of a like nature which from time to time are presented in this chamber.
Was it not only last week that the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) stood up during a debate on what ought to be done by Committees, and deplored a number of things? The thought went through my mind at that time that he was merely paying lip service. This thought has certainly been confirmed tonight. For the whole time that I have been speaking in this debate Government supporters have kept up a continual chatter, almost to the extent that it has been necessary for me to shout to be heard. Usually I sit here quietly and when occasionally I interject I am always called to order by Mr Speaker, the Deputy Speaker, the Chairman of Committees or whoever occupies the Chair. But apparently Government supporters can do as they like. I reiterate my condemnation of and utter disgust for the action of those people who so frequently pretend that they are the protectors of democracy when in fact they do not even know the meaning of the word, let alone know what principles of democracy should be applied in a place like this.
– A few moments ago there were some comments to the effect that it was an act when 1 stood up to speak, that it was a prearranged deal and that I was not intended to make a speech at all. That is completely untrue. I have the notes of my speech and if honourable members opposite really want to hear it I shall deliver it now in the debate on the adjournment. However, let me say that I believe that there has been an act tonight and that it has been put on in the last few minutes. When the debate began on the second reading of the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation Bill the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart), who led for the Opposition, made the point that the Opposition was not opposing the Bill but was going to move certain amendments on the second reading motion. I had discussed this matter before with the Whip and had said that if the Opposition was not going to oppose the Bill I would want to make a few comments, that I would speak for a short time so that we could speed up the proceedings on a Bill such as this so that we could get to the amendments that the Opposition wanted to move. This would enable us to get through during this week such vital issues as a Bill relating to penal clauses of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, or civilian alternatives for national service, things which I imagine we all want to talk about but which we cannot all talk about if we are going to get through this week, next week, sometime or never.
– That is your fault, not ours.
– It is the Government’s business to bring down the legislation and to see that it gets through in the time available. In those circumstances I accepted the movement of the gag and voted with the Government, whose job it is to steer the legislation through - particularly as the honourable member who led for the Opposition had made the point that the Opposition did not see any reason to oppose the Bill. I believe, therefore, that what we have been listening to in the last few minutes has been utter humbug.
– It might be a good idea to get a few facts straight as to what has happened in the last few minutes. I remind the House that the Whips are working all day long on the order of speakers in a debate, the length of debate, who should speak in a debate and what shall happen next. I say without hesitation that the gagging of the debate on the Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation Bill not only surprised me but also surprised the Government Whip. We had arranged our programme for the day. I have the list of speakers which shows that there were to have been, 3 more speakers, namely, the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti), the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster) and possibly the honourable member for. Riverina (Mr Grassby). Right from the beginning of the afternoon we knew that this was to be the order of speaking in the debate. However, the Government showed on its list only 4 Opposition speakers and 3 Government speakers, including the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay).
Even though we opposed the extension of the sitting past 11 o’clock tonight, we were prepared to go on to the end of the second reading, even if it took till half past 1 this morning to reach this stage. This is how the 2 Whips planned the night. They were under instructions that this debate was to go to the end of the second reading stage, into the Committee stage and then be adjourned. This is what we were told. How can the Whips run a Parliament if the agreement between the 2 sides is destroyed as suddenly as it was tonight at 11.40. What has the Government gained tonight by cutting this debate off?
– It has gained nothing. In the process it has set up a wall of retaliation from this side of the House. The Government wants to try to finish the session this week. It is not the Opposition’s job to facilitate the Government finishing in any particular time. I have been the Opposition Whip for 15 years, and the Opposition in that time has never tried deliberately to facilitate the end of a session. I would not remove members from the speaking list just to try to finish the session this week. I would ask members to try to cut their speeches short. I would be prepared to do that, but it is the Government’s job to finish a session when it wants to finish it. If it wants to finish this session on Friday it has the gag and the guillotine at its disposal. They are its 2 weapons. If it wants to finish by then, it can, but it cannot expect the Opposition to co-operate by deliberately pulling out speakers so that the
House can rise this week. I do not intend to fall for that or be a party to it. Fair is fair.
We have a tremendous programme here. We have been told nothing. I as Opposition Whip have been trying to find out what items on the notice paper are to be stood over to the Budget session, and for the life of me I can not find out. I do not think the Leader of the House (Mr Snedden) knows himself which of these items are to be put off. How can he possibly say we will finish this week if he does not know now what items are to be debated? If we are to debate the programme on the notice paper we will be debating until the end of next week. We could not possibly physically finish the programme that is set out in the notice paper. The Government has to make up its mind what it will give us to debate and what it will not give us to debate. We will debate what it gives to us. lt has a right to control this Parliament. It is the Government. It can say what is coming down at any time, and we will co-operate to that extent. We cannot put items on the business sheet of our own accord except for notices of motion and matters of public importance. lt is up to the Government to decide what business we do, and I want this Government to tell us what it intends to do this week so that we will know where we stand. Tonight it broke a definite agreement between the 2 Whips, as far as I am concerned. Honourable members who are on my list to speak were denied an opportunity to speak. They were prepared to sit on and shorten their speeches. We were prepared to go on till 1.30 to finish this debate, to go into the Committee stage, adjourn and then go home. What has the Government achieved tonight? It has upset an Opposition that has been trying to co-operate up to the limit without repudiating its position as a fighting Opposition - and that is what we are.
– The Snowy Mountains Engineering Corporation Bill was introduced on about 4th March and since that time I have had discussions with the Parliamentary Liaison Officer and with the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz). I told them that there would be at least 6 honourable members from this side of the House wanting to speak on the second reading and that something like 6 amendments would be moved by the Opposition. Last week I gave the Minister for National Development and the Parliamentary Liaison Officer a summary of the amendments that we proposed to move. Tonight I think I indicated to a lot of people around this House that there were two or three other people from our side still to make their speeches. The Deputy Speaker spoke to me only a few minutes before the gag was moved and I told him that the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) was our next speaker, that the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster) was the other speaker and that the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) would perhaps rise. While we were debating the motion for the adjournment I went to our Caucus room and took this list off the board. Honourable members can see by the missing pieces in the corners that I have pulled it off the board. This list has been on our Caucus notice board all day. It reads: ‘Stewart, Fraser, Patterson’ - he withdrew from speaking - ‘Jacobi, Luchetti, Foster, Armitage, Keating’. The honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) also decided to withdraw. A similar notice has been on the Whip’s desk all day. When I spoke to the Leader of the House a few moments ago about cutting out our 2 speakers he handed me a list that reads: ‘Stewart, Fraser, Patterson, Jacobi’ for the Opposition and ‘Fairbairn, Robinson Mackay’ for the Government side. I do not know where the mistake occurred but I am shocked to think that after playing the game’ as I have tried to play it that this sort of mistake can happen. I cannot say who is to blame but I am grossly disappointed that in debating this Bill not one of our members went his full time. I took only something like 28 minutes of my 45 minutes, the honourable member for EdenMonaro (Mr Allan Fraser) took something like 28 minutes and the honourable member for Hawker (Mr Jacobi) took something like 20 minutes. We were not playing around. We were not trying to interfere with the proceedings of the House and we were not trying to delay things.
– Some of us withdrew too.
– Yes, 3 or 4 honourable members withdrew. I do not think that the Government can expect us to put up with these things. There was a mistake. Where the mistake was 1 do not know, but I do not think it should happen, otherwise the Government will find that the Opposition will again get angry and, as I said on the last occasion, when we lose our tempers we have nothing else to lose, and the turmoil that is created in the House is then sheeted home to the Opposition when the Opposition is not to blame for it. I hope that when the Snowy Mountains Corporation Bill comes back into the chamber at the Committee stage that we will be given ample opportunity to argue the amendments that we intend to move, because we will move them at the request of the professional employees associations of the Snowy Mountains Authority and because of our own desire to see the Snowy Mountains Authority preserved in something like its original form. We are not mucking about oh this Bill. It is part of our policy to have a Snowy Mountains water conservation and construction authority. We are genuine in our attempt to try to preserve this mighty authority that has been in existence for over 20 years. I ask now that when our amendments come up at the Committee stage there will be no misunderstandings like those that have occurred this evening.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. On 22nd May-
-Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– No. I .can speak on the adjournment motion. It will take only a minute.
-If the honourable member has not been misrepresented he may not make a personal explanation.
– I have been misquoted.
– That is a different matter. I call the honourable member for Wills.
– I want to make my peace with the honourable member for Deakin (Mr Jarman). On 22nd May he had a few words to say about me which, of course, were in serious error. But I am reported on page 2687 of Hansard as having said:
I do not like the honourable member for Deakin.
That would not be the way I would have put it. I would have said: T do not, like the honourable member for Deakin, care if the newspaper prints half a million copies each day.’ We were talking about the Melbourne ‘Herald’. I want to make it quite clear that the statement ‘1 do not like the honourable member for Deakin’ is quite wrong. As a Socialist I love everybody. It just happens that there are a lot of people who need correction. As far as the honourable member for Deakin is concerned, I like him all right but I do not like him being the member for Deakin.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12.10 a.m. (Wednesday)
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:
Willhe bring up to date the information on comparative electricity costs which he gave me on 16 April 1969 (Hansard, page 1208).
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The information sought by the honourable member is set out in the table below. Returns are influenced by such factors as climate, average consumption and the proportions of different consumer classes (e.g. commercial/industrial, domestic). Without detailed knowledge about these factors it would be difficult to make valid comparisons between the returns received by the electricity undertakings in the cities listed.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
Turner, in return for the nomination by Huxley of Mr Turner to the Art Gallery Society of New South Wales.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
There are no specific and uniformly applied qualifications for the recognition of specialist medical practitioners in Australia. However, the following factors are generally considered within the profession to be relevant:
In Queensland and South Australia. State legislation provides for the registration of medical practitioners as specialists. Western Australian legislation also provides for the registration of specialists for the purposes of workers’ compensation law in that State.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
While I have no specific figures in relation to these questions,I am informed that: (1)(a) Thereare approximately 14,000 members of the Australian Medical Association.
The Society of General Practitioners claims to have a membership of approximately 1000.
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
What was the percentage increase in public hospital maintenance expenditure provided from (a) Commonwealth (b) State (c) local authority (d) patient and (e) other sources over the last 10 year period for which figures are available.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The information requested is only available in my Department for the five year period from 1963-64 to 1967-68.
The percentage increases over this period were:
The increases in State and local authority expenditure cannot be provided separately
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Health dispensing fees. As soon as possible I will be writing to the Federal President of the Pharmacy Guild on the matter.
Repatriation Hospitals (Question No. 843)
asked the Minister for
Repatriation, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
There is no waiting time at auxiliary hospitals, which are primarily for convalescent, rehabilitation and geriatric patients.
Eligible patients requiring hospitalisation for chronic conditions, where an acute stage is not involved, are treated in their home or a nursing home until a bed is available. There is no delay in admission for an acute phase where domiciliary treatment, including home nursing, is not adequate.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Postal Department (QuestionNo. 1128)
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The new Division was formally established from 8th October 1969. It consists of 42positions comprising 24 positions transferredwitht heir occupants from the Management Serv ices Division, which was formerly responsible for industrial work, together with 18 new positions.
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
F111 Aircraft (Question No. 1028)
asked the Minister for
Defence, upon notice: (1)Is it a fact that a substantial number of changes have been made in the structure and performance of the F111 aircraft since it was ordered by Australia 6 years ago.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Recommendations made by the Australian Capital Territory Hospital Planning Committee which were -
constitution of hospital boards comprised of three nominated and five elected members.
(a) (i) 25th March 1965.
asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minster for External Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable members question is as follows:
A large number of questions are voted upon each year in the principal organs and committees of the United Nations and its thirteen Specialised Agencies. It would not be practicable to ascertain how often Australia and New Zealand have voted differently.
The honourable member is referred to the reports of the Australian delegation to the General Assembly which are tabled in this House each year and printed. These reports give an account of the debate and voting in the General Assembly on the specific questions listed, although they would not always show how New Zealand voted. This would be ascertainable in cases where there was a recorded vote by reference to official documents of the General Assembly. Copies of these are available in the Parliamentary Library.
asked the Minister for Education and Science upon notice: - What progress has his Department made with the survey of research and development activities in Australia.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
My Department is conducting a survey (Project SCORE) designed to provide accurate information on Australia’s expenditure on research and development in the natural and social sciences, on the sources of supporting funds and on the manpower engaged in research and development activities. The survey will embrace all parts of the economy, and will be divided into four principal sectors: government (Commonwealth and the States), business, higher education and private non-profit organisations.
The various sectors are being surveyed separately, commencing with the Commonwealth Government departments and instrumentalities. The full scale survey of this sector commenced on 9 January this year. I am now in the process of writing to appropriate Ministers in the States to make arrangements for the survey of State Government organisations.
In the higher education sector, a pilot study is currently in progress in selected universities as a preliminary to a full scale survey of the universities to take place later in the year. My Department also intends within the next few months to make arrangements with State Government authorities for the survey of the Colleges of Advanced Education.
In the business sector, a joint survey of the manufacturing and mining industries will be conducted by my Department and the Department of Trade and Industry in view of thelatter’s responsibilities under the Industrial Research and Development Grants Act. This joint survey will be commenced within the next few months.
Surveys will be made later of the relevant activities of business organisations outside the manufacturing and mining industries, and of private non-profit organisations. Planning of these surveys is still at a preliminary stage.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 9 June 1970, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1970/19700609_reps_27_hor68/>.