27th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. Sir William Aston) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Law and Order Mr GARRICK- I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth:
That they are gravely concerned at the apparent appalling increase in crime in Australia, particularly in densely populated areas;
That they fear the police forces of the various States and Territories are undermanned and underequipped to handle the increase in crime:
That their concern is aggravated by the apparent number of unsolved crimes particularly those involving violence to the individual including murder.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Honourable Members of the House of Representatives will seek to ensure that the Commonwealth Government will seek the co-operation of the States and supply extra finance ki the States to enable:
proper town planning and development to halt the increase in densely populated areas which leads’ to increased crime,
the proper staffing, and equipping of police forces to enable adequate crime prevention and detection measures to reduce the frightening increase of both solved and unsolved crime,
the proper detention of and rehabilitation of criminals, and
compensation to victims of crimes of violence, and your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Victoria respectfully sheweth:
That due to the higher living cost, persons on social service pensions are finding it extremely difficult to live in even the most frugal way.
We therefore call upon the Commonwealth Government to increase the base pension rate to 30 per cent of the average weekly male earnings for all States, as ascertained by the Commonwealth Statistician, plus supplementary assistance and allowances in accordance with Australian Council of Trade Unions policy and adopted as the policy of the Australian Commonwealth Pensioners Federation, and by doing so give a reasonably moderate pension.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the Senate and the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to bring about the wishes expressed in our petition; so that our citizens receiving the social service pensions may live their lives in dignity.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth:
That they are gravely concerned at the apparent appalling increase in crime in Australia, particularly in densely populated areas.
That they fear the police forces of the various States and Territories are undermanned and underequipped to handle the increase in crime.
That their concern is aggravated by the apparent number of unsolved crimes, particularly those involving violence to the individual including murder.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the honourable members of the House of Representatives will seek to ensure that the Commonwealth Government will seek the co-operation of the States and supply extra finance to the States to enable:
proper town planning and development to halt the increase in densely populated areas which leads to increased crime,
the proper starring and equipping of police forces to enable adequate crime prevention and detection measures to reduce the frightening increase of both solved and unsolved crime,
the proper detention of and rehabilitation of criminals, and
compensation to victims of crimes of violence.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled:
The humble petition of the electors of the electorates of Kooyong and Chisholm respectfully sheweth that Australian troops are engaged in senseless and wasteful aggression in Vietnam which is destroying the economy, culture, social structure, and population of that country.
That Vietnam has never been, nor will be in the foreseeable future, any threat to Australian security, or to the Australian way of life.
That Australia, together with the United States of America and other allies, is preventing the Vietnamese people from choosing their form of government, and is upholding by force a government which the majority of Vietnamese don’t want.
That continued allied aggression in Vietnam would be of no benefit to Vietnam or Australia, but that immediate withdrawal would save many Australian and Vietnamese lives, would bring peace closer to Vietnam, and would restore international respect for Australia’s foreign policy.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that all Australian troops be immediately withdrawn from Vietnam.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
This is the only way . . .
– Order! Hansard will strike out the honourable member’s comment.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled: The humble petition of citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully sheweth :
the Commonwealth Parliament has acted to remove some inadequacies in the Australian Education system.
a major inadequacy at present in Australian education is the lack of equal education opportunity for all.
200,000 students from Universities, Colleges of Advanced Education and other Tertiary Institutions, and their parents suffer severe penalty from inadequacies in the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936-1968.
Australia cannot afford to hinder the education of these 200,000 Australians.
Your petitioners request that your honorable House make legal provision for -
The allowance of personal education expenses as a deduction from income for tax purposes.
Removal of the present age limit in respect of the deduction for education expenses and the maintenance allowance for students.
Increase in the amount of deduction allowable for tertiary education expenses.
Increase in the maintenance allowance for students.
Exemption for non-bonded scholarships, for part-time students from income tax.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
-I present the following petition:
To the Honourable the Speaker and members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled: The humble petition of the residents of the State of New South Wales respectfully sheweth:
The Red Kangaroo and many other marsupials, through shooting for commercial purposes, have been reduced to a numerical level where their survival is in jeopardy.
None of the Australian States have sufficient wardens to detect and apprehend people breaking the laws in existence in each State, and in such a vast country only uniform laws and a complete cessation of commercialisation can ensure the survival of our National Emblem.
It is an indisputable fact that no natural resource can withstand hunting on such a concentrated scale, unless some provision is made for its future.
We, your petitioners, therefore humbly pray that:
The export of all Kangaroo products be banned immediately, and the Commonwealth Government makea serious appraisal of its responsibility in the matter to ensure the survival of the kangaroo. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.
Petition received and read.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. Is it a fact that the Government is withdrawing from pensioners long held concessions such as pensioner medical services, telephone rental concessions and transport concessions as property assets increase? In view of the fact that pensioners cannot eat their homes and have no control over inflationary increases in home valuations, why has the Government permitted this to happen? Is it the Government’s desire that pensioners living in large homes should allow portion of their home to remain unused in a time of great need for more housing, or is the Government afraid that some pensioner couples may receive a little too much income from rent to supplement the meagre pension being paid to them? Finally, when did the Government decide to alter its previous policy that allowed a pensioner to retain his pensioner medical entitlement once received irrespective of the amount of his pension?
– I think that the Minister for Social Services would have a closer acquaintance with the matters raised by the honourable member than I would have, but
I believe that the matters to which he is referring have arisen as a result of the introduction of the tapered means test, the tapered means test having been introduced by this Government in order to allow pensioners to earn more money or have more income without losing $1 of pension for every $1 of Income or $1 of earnings that they get. This of course has been of great advantage to very many pensioners who previously were not pensioners at all and who have become part pensioners, and has been generally accepted as being a very great advance in the field of social services. I do not think the honourable member is correct - I just say I do not think the honourable member is correct - when he talks about the value of a home being something which is taken into account, because to the best of my knowledge the value of a home, as distinct from an income received by a pensioner, is not taken into account.
– You are wrong.
– I am just telling the honourable member what I believe. I think that is so. Having said that, the Government, far from being afraid that pensioners of this kind might receive too much income, has taken the positive steps that I have enumerated in order to enable people to get higher income and still draw a pension or part pension. This in fact is what the Government has done.
– I desire to ask the Minister for External Affairs a question. There have been reports that the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Razak, has made certain statements regarding Malaysia’s relations with mainland China. IS the Minister in a position to give the House any information relating to this matter?
– The Malaysian Prime Minister, Tun Razak, has stated that he wants Malaysia to be free and neutral and that consequently he feels that China, the United States of America and Russia should join together in an attempt to achieve neutrality and freedom in that area. The first point relating to the freedom and neutrality of Malaysia is consistent with Australian Government policy. Secondly, the Malaysian Prime Minister wants the whole of South East Asia to be free and neutral; this also is consistent with Australian Government policy. However, some doubt has arisen because it is thought that this might in some way affect the relationships that exist between Australia and Malaysia and particularly any relationship that might grow in the future as a result of any post AngloMalaysia Defence Agreement arrangements. I can assure the honourable gentleman and the House that the attitude of the Malaysian Government to Australia has not changed in any respect. Malaysia welcomes the type of arrangements that are being discussed between the 5 countries, that is, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Malaysia and Singapore, and this recent statement will make no difference to the attitude he has taken to those arrangements.
– 1 ask the Minister for Health a question. In a ministerial statement made at the beginning of the year the honourable gentleman told the House that the Government had decided to adopt the proposal which the Nimmo Committee had made in March last year for the establishment of a national health insurance commission and that the Government was considering the composition and functions of the Commission. I ask him whether the Government has now abandoned this proposal, and, if not, why a further year has been lost in implementing the proposal.
– No, the Government has not abandoned the idea. It still has under consideration the proposed functions and composition of the commission and in due course it will take its final decisions on this. I might add that the fact that the commission has not yet been set up has not made any difference to the implementation of the Government’s proposals in respect the new health benefits plan which has been undertaken expeditiously and efficiently in the normal way by my Department.
– My question is directed to the Acting Minister for Primary Industry. I am sure that the Minister is well aware of the great nutritional value of the milk biscuit recently developed by Dr Alex Buchanan of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation from the newly discovered high protein milk powder co-precipitate. Will the Minister initiate talks wilh the Minister for the Army in an effort to introduce this aid to greater alertness and efficiency by its inclusion in the rations of our fighting troops? Will he also arrange for supplies to be made available in the parliamentary dining room where it would promote mental activity in many members who need it by providing an ideal luncheon with a chunk of good Australian cheese?
– The honourable member for McMillan has referred to a whole milk biscuit that was developed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. There is no doubt that the development of this biscuit is a real break through in the diversification of the use of milk products. Insofar as the Army is concerned, I would be delighted to take up with the Minister for the Army, the possibility of having this very nutritious biscuit included in Army rations. I believe it is a very worthwhile suggestion that the honourable member put forward. Insofar as the parliamentary dining room is concerned, I agree with the honourable member that it would do a lot of good for some of the members of this Parliament to have this biscuit, particularly at morning or afternoon tea time. I will raise this matter with Mr Speaker at a later hour this day to see if it is at all possible to have this very nutritious biscuit added to the list of things that are provided for us in the dining room. I trust that Mr Speaker will give favourable consideration to that very worthwhile suggestion.
– First, I think, I ought to have a sample.
– I desire to address a question to the Minister for Immigration. Does the Minister recall my inquiry earlier this year seeking information as to when the new migration agreement between Italy and Australia would be ratified? Is the Minister aware that the non-ratification of the agreement has caused speculation that the Government has changed its mind and intends to revise or abandon the agreement, perhaps in conformity with the request by some Government members for a general cut-back and the suggestion by one for a 10-year moratorium on migration?
Does the agreement give concrete assistance for (he first time in 20 years to re-uniting divided families among die 750,000 Italian settlers and their descendants in Australia today? Will the agreement be continued and if so, when will it be ratified?
– The honourable gentleman has asked a quite detailed question. I cannot guarantee to remember all aspects of it. It is true that the present Migration and Settlement Agreement between Australia and Italy, which was signed, as I recall it, late in 1967, has not yet been ratified by the Italian Government. That this is the case is certainly not due to any procrastination on the part of the Commonwealth Government. The Italian authorities are well aware of our concern that the Agreement should be ratified at the earliest opportunity. According to the latest information I have it is expected that a Bill to ratify the Agreement will be tabled in the Italian Parliament during the course of ils current session. I can assure the honourable gentleman that the absence of the formality of ratification has certainly not prevented a large number of Italian people from enjoying the benefits of the assisted passage programme, particularly the greatly expanded travel arrangements provided by the Australian Government.
As 1 recall, approximately 4,600 Italian settlers travelled to Australia by way of assisted passage in 1969. This figure increased during the course of last year to about 5,200. Prospects for an increase in the intake of Italian settlers under the scheme appear to be good for the current year. I might add that the Italian community is now the second largest national group in Australia. It is exceeded only by the British community. The Italian community has made a great contribution to the development of Australia in an economic sense, quite apart from its contribution to the social and cultural diversification of the Australian community. I am confident that with our encouragement and support this contribution will continue.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Has the New South Wales Government decided to extend coal loading facilities at the port of Newcastle to cope with the increased quantities of coking coal coming from the Hunter Valley for export? Will the Commonwealth Government be assisting financially in this important project? Will the Minister inform the House as to the exact position?
– From newspaper reports I have read I believe that the New South Wales Government has plans for the extension of port facilities at Newcastle and other ports in New South Wales. As far as coal is concerned. I know that my colleague the Minister for National Development has a particular interest in what appear to bc very good prospects for a considerable increase in the volume of coal exports. As I know something about the coal resources of the Hunter Valley I believe that much of this coal would be best dispatched through the port of Newcastle.
At this stage no approach has been made by the New South Wales Government requesting the Commonwealth Government to participate. It is in teres’ ing to remember that the Commonwealth Government has helped the State Government in days gone by in the provision of coal loading facilities that are installed at Newcastle. I might add that in the last 12 months 2 meetings have been arranged with respective State Ministers concerned with port developments. In these meetings we have endeavoured to review the general plans and programmes for port development in Australia. I hope that as a result of those meetings the Commonwealth might have a better understanding of the forward programming of the States because after all this field is their responsibility. With a belter knowledge of their plans for future development the Commonwealth might be in a better position to assist in propositions put to it.
– 1 desire to ask the Prime Minister a question. Has he been advised of the brutal and unprovoked assault upon him in the Legislative Council of Victoria last night by a member of his own Party called Nicol who accused him of wishing to become first President of an Australian public? Did he notice that the same Mr Nicol said that the Prime Minister is power drunk? Also, did he notice that the resolution which Mr Nicol supported was carried unanimously by all members of all parties, including members of the Labor Party, all of whom are pledged to unification and greater centralisation? Finally, will he tell the House and the nation - confidentially, of course - where the Liberal Party discovered this particular type of Nicol’?
– In answer to the last part of the question, I presume it was by mining in the community in the usual way. I did notice the report in the newspaper to which the honourable member refers, and noted that there was this personal suggestion of wishing to become a president of a republic which, for someone who has, I think, upheld the bonds of royalty, is a rather strange approach. But what I did notice was, if I might call it, the ecumenical nature of the attack in the Legislative Council because, if I remember correctly and have read the report correctly, a leading member of the Labor Party in the Legislative Council, Mr Galbally, who, up until he spoke the other night, had been, I gather, adhering to Labor policy regarding State aid, seemed on this occasion to be diverting greatly from Labor policy which no doubt may lead to another inquiry into the Labor Party Executive in Victoria, because he did indicate that the Federal Government was overriding, was subjecting the States to control of a financial oligarchy and was in many other ways, according to his lights, misbehaving itself. As one who could not possibly be considered to be nearly as centralist as is the Leader of the Opposition, I can only repeat that it appeared to be an ecumenical attack and, I would have thought, rather more embarrassing to the Leader of the Opposition than to me.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for Labour and National Service, concerns a constituent of mine who holds a certificate under section 47 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act saying that he has satisfied the Industrial Registrar that his conscientious beliefs do not allow him to be a member of the Printing and Kindred Industries Union, ls the Minister aware that this man has recently been sacked - obviously for not belonging to a union? Will he investigate the circumstances of this dismissal? Is it not incongruous that certain people appear to deny the right of a worker to have conscientious beliefs against joining a union but believe that he has every right to hold conscientious beliefs against serving in the military forces of his nation?
– This case was raised by the honourable member for Deakin last night, and I therefore had some inquiries made this morning. The inquiries that I have made disclose that a solicitor in Sydney, who customarily acts for people of the particular religious sect to which this man belongs, had contacted my Department in early October because the young man concerned had been told by his employer that he would be dismissed. The employer has what is called a closed shop; that is, he will not employ anybody who is not a member of a union. I have no doubt that the employer has adopted this policy believing that by doing so he will avoid industrial disputes.
However, this plant is covered by the Country Printing Industry Award, and in that award there is a preference clause under section 47 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. When there is a preference clause in an award under that section of the Act it is possible for people to go to the IndustrialRegistrar to obtain a certificate certifying to their conscientious objection. In fact, the young man did that and did obtain acertificate. In the meantime an officer of my Department had contacted the firm and asked it not to dismiss him, and was able to say to the firm that the Department felt perfectly confident that there would be no industrial dispute because it had had discussions with the Printing and Kindred Industries Union. It was recognised that the man did have conscientious objection. The employers were asked not to dismiss the young man. Unfortunately, although he did have his certificate which was granted on 6th October and notwithstanding the requests from my Department, and. I think, the union and the employers association - that is, the Printing and Allied Trades Employers Association - the company did decide that it would dismiss him. He was dismissed on 7th October; that is, actually after the certificate had been granted.
– My question is directed to the Minister for External Affairs. The right honourable gentleman will recall that Mr Dzu, the runner up in the 1967 presidential elections in South Vietnam, was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment in July 1968 for alleged treasonable offences. He will recall also that the charges against Mr Dzu were based on his advocacy of an end to the bombing of North Vietnam and negotiations with the National Liberation Front. I ask the right honourable gentleman: Does he agree that Mr Dzu’s proposals have been vindicated by the course of the war in the past 2 years? Is there any reason why Mr Dzu should still be in prison for advocating courses of action which have been accepted by the United States Government? I further ask the Minister: Will he make representations to the Government of South Vietnam for Mr Dzu’s immediate release?
– I do not so recall the 2 statements made by the honourable gentleman. Consequently, I cannot make a definitive statement about them. Nonetheless if the man is in prison and it appears to be for an unjust reason I would make inquiries to see whether there was any action that the Government can take. But that is on the basis that we did think that the imprisonment was unjust and contrary to what we could regard as natural justice.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport in his capacity as Minister assisting the Minister for Trade and Industry. The Minister will recall that, when he introduced the Industrial Research and Development Grants Bill in 1967. he said that the Government recognised the need for the incentive provided by payment under that legislation to have a reasonable and certain continuity and that the scheme would operate initially for 5 years. With that background. I ask the Minister: First, why has the Government altered the scheme after 3 years to reduce the general grants paid under the Act to 33 per cent of eligible expenditure instead of 50 per cent as previously; secondly, is this reduction not a break in the continuity of the scheme; and, thirdly, will the Government consider reverting to the 50 per cent grants especially as expenditure under the scheme last year was apparently $2m less than had been appropriated?
– The industrial research and development grants scheme has been one of the most beneficial pieces of legislation that this Government has produced in the industrial climate. The fact that, over the 4 years since it has been introduced, there has been a doubling of industrial research and development expenditure is, I think, reflective of the efficacy of the scheme in industry itself. The reduction to which the honourable member refers in the quantum of money payable on research and development accepted within the scheme results from the very considerable increase in allocations made by the Commonwealth under the research and developments grants scheme. Indeed, this year, as honourable members will know, some $17m has been allocated for the purpose of grants received under the scheme.
It is true that last year there was some short fall in the actual expenditure, but the amount of course is necessarily projected in anticipation of those applications which will bc lodged in respect of research and development incurred in the ensuing year. So. the actual amount spent depends entirely upon a forecast of the expected number of applications and the quantum of each application. However, it is not true that there has been any change in the continuing policy of the Government in accordance with that part of my introductory second reading speech to which the honourable member’s question alluded. The purport of the legislation and the framework of the grant continue in identical form. It is only in the quantum of assistance provided that there has been any change.
I might add that i he actual amounts allocated are always based on the next year so that any company interested in the scheme has always an ability to determine its budgetary allocations in accordance with the programme that is laid down by this Government in advance of the expenditure being incurred. At the moment a review is being undertaken by the Department of Trade and Industry as to the terms and conditions under which this scheme should be applied in the future. I hope that the review will be completed fairly shortly. I have no doubt that as soon as it is, my colleague the Minister for Trade and Industry will make the results known to those interested so that they can similarly programme their research and development expenditure for the future.
– I ask the Minister for Immigration: Does his Department render financial assistance to the States to provide low cost housing for migrants brought to this country by the Department of Immigration? If not, will the Minister agree that there is a need for such housing and that Commonwealth financial aid would enable the States to provide more adequately for this and so benefit the community generally? Will the Minister agree to confer wilh the State Housing Ministers on this matter?
– Housing is of vital concern not only to migrants but to all Australians. The honourable gentleman questions the role of the Department of Immigration and my own Ministry in relation to the provision of permanent housing in the community is not a matter which falls within my responsibility or indeed the responsibility of the Commonwealth. The Stales are the principal suppliers of low cost housing for the general community, and the honourable gentleman would know the substantial sums which the Commonwealth provides for the States under the Commonwealth-State Housing Agreement. T think that the funds provided this year - I will need to check the figures - are approximately $142m.
The second comment I make is that whilst the Commonwealth has a responsibility to do all in its power to offset the difficult transition that is involved in the migration of people from one country to another, we should never reach the point where migrants in this community are placed in any position of preferment or privilege vis-a-vis Australians who are born here. If that were the case it would be counterproductive to the whole concept of effective integration.
In conclusion I say briefly that our responsibility as a Commonwealth lies in the provision of transitory accommodation for Commonwealth nominated migrants. We do this in 2 forms. The first is in relation to the hostel programme. There are approximately 30 hostels throughout the country on which, since 1965, there has been an expenditure of approximately $30m. The second is in relation to the new flat programme which was ininitiated some 18 months ago and which has proved to be an outstanding success. Today some 250 flats are available for migrants throughout the community. This number will be increased by approximately 200 new flats this year. This is an indication of what the Commonwealth is doing. The fact that it is discharging its responsibility will, I believe, be clear from the answer I have given.
– I wish to direct a question to the Acting Minister for Primary Industry. I refer to the announcement by the Minister for Primary Industry on the Government’s intention to establish a wool marketing authority. I ask the Minister: Is it a fact that all major wool growing organisations throughout Australia are accepting the Government’s offers? Is it also true that, as reported, the Parliamentary Draftsman may have difficulty in preparing a Bill to cover these proposals in time for it to be introduced and passed in this House before the Parliament rises for the Senate elections? I Anally ask whether, in view of the importance of this legislation, the Acting Minister will do all possible to see that everything is done to allow this legislation to be dealt with in this session and to be implemented on 1st July 1971.
- Mr Speaker, 1 have received a telegram from the Chairman of the Australian Wool Industry Conference saying that the Conference welcomed and accepted the Government’s offer concerning the establishment of a statutory wool marketing authority. At a dinner in Sydney last night I learned - and I am sure the honourable member will be pleased to know this - that members of the constituent bodies of the Australian Wool Industry Conference spoke in high praise of the efforts of our colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry, in obtaining both Government and industry acceptance of the proposal. Indeed, the praise was very lavish and all the more deserving because it was the Minister who brought the matter to a conclusion. Insofar as the legislation is concerned there may well be some difficulties in preparation, but the honourable member can be assured that my colleague is making every endeavour to have the legislation expedited so that it can be introduced in this session of the Parliament.
– I ask the Minister for Education and Science what action he is currently taking in regard to the requests and recommendations of the nation-wide survey of educational needs carried out by the Australian Educational Council with the encouragement and support of the Commonwealth. Did the report refer to projects of an extremely urgent nature and others of an urgent nature? Has the Government noted the frank confessions of the States that the recently increased Commonwealth grants still leave them quite incapable of meeting many of the most urgent needs in pre-school, primary, secondary and teacher education and teacher retention? Finally, just how soon can we expect an announcement of the Government’s intentions in respect of this report which so vitally affects the hopes, aspirations and opportunities of hundreds of thousands of young Australians?
– The honourable member will be aware that this survey was presented to the Australian Educational Council on 25th May. This, of course, was before the Premiers Conference. I was invited to the meeting on 25th May and it was agreed that I and the State Ministers would take the matter back to our colleagues for them to consider. This was done and the Prime Minister and the Premiers had the results of the survey well in mind before the Premiers Conference. It is undoubted that the figures which were revealed would have had an influence on the attitude of the Commonwealth in granting as much as it did in the financial re-arrangements that the States secured at the Premiers Conference. This raised a situation in which we had a survey giving projections, or anticipations of State Ministers for Education, over 5 years. These were based on projected contributions by States before the financial rearrangement.
After the financial re-arrangement it was evident that the States would be able to do very much better. The Budgets of the various State Governments which have been presented since then make it quite clear that this is so. Whereas the State Ministers for Education had worked on an annual increase of 10 per cent, budgets presented since the Premiers Conference, such as those of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, have provided increases for education ranging between 13 per cent and 15 per cent. It therefore became necessary to see what the States actually proposed to do, as distinct from the projections to State Ministers for Education. The Prime Minister has written to the Premiers seeking their reactions to the survey. In this correspondence he has also indicated to them his view that the needs of independent schools should also be considered. I think the last part of the honourable member’s question referred to a report which the State Ministers for Education issued early in September in which they mentioned that some of the needs for capital were extremely urgent, some were urgent and then there were others. I may add that I have written to the State Ministers for Education asking them to indicate which capital works fall within these various categories. I have had a reply from only one of the Ministers.
– I direct my question to the Minister for External Affairs. Is it true that the Government’s forward defence policy has traditionally relied upon Malaysia’s alignment with the West against Communism? Is it true that the objective of the-
-Order! If the honourable member continues to use the word true’ the question will be out of order. I suggest that he cease using that word.
– Is it a fact that the objective of the Government’s traditional forward defence policy has been the containment of Communism and the containment of the influence of Communist powers in our region? In view of the fact that the new Malaysian Prime Minister has announced a policy of non-alignment for Malaysia, has called for the neutralisation of South East Asia and has called upon 2 Communist powers to use their influence in guaranteeing this neutrality, how does the Minister reconcile the new situation with previous justifications of Australia’s forward defence policy.
– First, our policy is based upon and has always been based upon the rights of the countries of the whole of South East Asia to determine their own future and to ensure that they have the right of electing their own governments. In other words these governments should not be imposed upon the various countries by outside force and violence. That is our policy and that is one of the reasons why our troops are now stationed in South Vietnam. We have troops stationed in Malaysia and Singapore because we believe that this will give to these countries the confidence to continue with the policies not only of development but of steady improvement in their own defence capabilities.
– What, with 1,200 troops?
– Yes, with 1,200 troops. You might not like this but the simple fact is that the countries concerned have to take the responsibility and not you people - particularly the fellow who interjected - who want to scuttle-
– 1 remind the Minister that he should use the terms ‘honourable gentleman’.
– 1 find it difficult to use that phrase but in deference to your ruling, Mr Speaker, I will do so. If the honourable gentleman had listened to what I said in answer to the second question asked this morning he would have realised that there has been no change whatsoever in the relationship between Malaysia and Australia since the announcement by the Prime Minister of Malaysia that he wants a neutral, free and independent Malaysia. Equally too does the Malaysian Prime Minister want an independent, free and neutral Cambodia and Vietnam. What the honourable gentleman has to recognise is that it is one thing to want something to happen; it is another to prevail upon Communists, particularly the North Vietnamese and their associates, to agree to exactly the same principles. If we find that the North Vietnamese Army and its associates respond in a sensible way to the initiatives of the President of the United States of America - that is, that there should be a stand still cease fire - there should be a political- adjustment based upon the aspirations of the whole of the peoples of South Vietnam. If that happens it will be the reason for us to have another look and see whether we can change in any way our policy with regard to helping the defence of these countries and stationing troops there.
– Can the Minister for Defence indicate to the House the cor*rect position concerning reports of a decision by the United States of America to alter the draft as it applies to its armed forces? Can he indicate also the likely implications, both social and in the defence sense, for Australia were we to follow suit?
– In blunt terms one of the implications of the United States objective to bring its draft down to what is called a zero draft call could be that ultimately a greater defence effort might be required of this country.
Although press reports of the decisions that have been announced by the Secretary of Defence in the United States generally have referred to abolition of the draft by 1973 the reports do give a false impression because the decision has been made to keep the framework and structure of the draft - the legal right to re-establish the draft - if an emergency made it necessary but to try to get to the situation where there is a zero draft call. This is quite different from abolition of the draft and abolition of the right to call up people compulsorily for national service if that should be required. If we compare the situations in the United States and Australia, the circumstances between our 2 countries are very different in a number of respects. We have no unemployment; unemployment in the United States is by our standards high. Pockets of unemployment in the United States are much higher and this affects the capacity to recruit for the armed forces. In spite of a totally different economic structure, recruits into the Australian Army are paid some hundreds of dollars more on induction into our Army than are the recruits into the United States Army. Our recruits receive, in absolute terms, some hundreds of dollars more, so there is a great difference in this area.
Defence is a prime responsibility of government and this Government will never settle for anything less than it believes necessary for Australia’s defence merely because there may be some political difficulties that some people perhaps associate with the establishment of a proper level of defence. But even if we could establish by voluntary means alone forces of the size that Australia believes to be necessary, this is not the only consideration that should be borne in mind, because a government or a country that depended only on volunteers for its defence is appealing to those with a particularly developed sense of patriotism. If we were a country that sought to buy defence, which is what the Labor Party would do if it wanted any defence, we would have to pay higher salary and wage rates in an attempt to attract people into the armed forces to get the numbers we needed. This is a view that the Government rejects.
We believe it is not possible and not practical to get all the numbers we need by this means. If you could do this it would mean that we would then be insulating the privileged, the better educated and the wealthy from the obligations of defence and from the obligations of doing something to protect their own country. There are many rights for all citizens of Australia. The Opposition would seek to establish a situation in which there are no obligations and if it ever had the opportunity to do this Australia would be very much in danger. In particular, supporters of the Leader of the Opposition should ask themselves how much they believe it is equitable to establish a situation in which Australia is trying to attract some members to the armed forces by higher rates of pay when this will not appeal to the privileged, the wealthy or to the Monash graduates. It is likely to appeal to the underprivileged and to the worker who is in a less fortunate situation. A system that insulates the wealthy, privileged, better off and higher educated from the implications of obligations for defence is an unjust system.
– Pursuant to section 31 of the Atomic Energy Act 1953-1966 I present the Eighteenth Annual Report of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission for the year ended 30th June 1970 together with financial statements and the Auditor-General’s report of those statements. An interim report of the Commission was presented to the House on 30th September 1970.
– I have received a letter from the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:
The failure of the Federal Government to take positive action to halt the seriously deteriorating condition of Australia’s export meat trade with the United States.
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)
– Australia’s $250m annual export trade with the United Stales is threatened by incredible bungling, incompetence and intrigue. Either the United States is bowing to organised political pressure and deliberately adopting practices to inhibit and frustrate Australian meat exports or else the Australian Government is guilty of gross neglect in being incapable of understanding, interpreting and implementing United States meat inspection standards. The problem can be stated as bluntly as that. An intolerable situation has arisen in which an increasing number of important Australian meat works are being removed from the American export list on the flimsiest of excuses without any known protest by the Federal Government. The Government steadfastly refuses to confront the United States to obtain justifiable reasons for the high-handed United States action in removing an unwarranted number of Australian meat works from the United States trade. One-quarter of Australian meat works licensed to export meat to the United States have now been deregistered by United States inspectors. lt is absurd to believe that suddenly there has been a widespread breakdown of hygiene and inspection standards throughout Australia. Similarly, it is equally absurd to believe that the United States Government has suddenly reached the profound decision that the health of the American people is in danger because of imports of Australian meat. It is known that powerful United States pressure groups, backed by influential members of Congress, are hell bent to limit or even eradicate imports of
Australian meat into the United States. Although there is no evidence of the United States inspectors in Australia vindictively abolishing export licences, many reasons for delisting must be classified as trivial. There is no doubt also that the upsurge of zealousness of United States meat inspectors in Australia is receiving the full support of the American meat lobby and those in the United States Congress who have vested interests in the cattle and meat industry. In addition to the powerful meat lobby, relentless pressure is being exerted against Australian imports by rival central and South American export interests.
United States authorities, in defence of their actions - this in fact could be true - state that they are not banning any Australian meat works because of political pressure. They stale that the present situation is due entirely to misinterpretation of United States inspection standards by Australian authorities. Reports from Washington show that United States inspectors in Australia do not always accept the credibility of Australian meat inspectors. If the United States claim is correct - and I say if it is correct - the blame for the present fiasco must be borne by the Federal Government. There is no excuse for continuous technical misinterpretations by Australia, which have now cost 27 meat works throughout Australia their export licences.
If Australia is unable to understand and implement US standards, it is a shocking indictment of Australian administrative authorities responsible for the interpretation and implementation of uniform US technical meat inspection standards. Because of the possibility of US escalation of the delisting of Australian meat works, the present complacent attitude of the Federal Government must be ended. Whether it be US political pressures or inefficient administration of standards in Australia, the Commonwealth has a responsibility to confront the United States wilh a demand for clear and unambiguous directions.
Livestock and meat interests in Australia are fully entitled to know the truth about this most delicately balanced meat export market which is of great economic importance to Australia. America takes almost 60 per cent of our total meal exports valued at over $250ra annually. The United States Wholesome Meat Act which was passed 2 years ago is the key to hygiene standards demanded by the US in Australia. The Federal Government has no alternative but to insist that these standards are implemented and rigorously applied. If in fact US inspectors are guilty of mischieviously delisting Australian works for no just cause then direct confrontation with the US should occur without hesitation. The pussyfooting by the Federal Government is costing Australian meat works millions of dollars annually and is leading to chaos in Australia’s export trade with the US.
The US has an unfortunate habit of believing it can do anything better than anyone else and is inclined to look upon itself as ‘the saviour of the world’. Official US reports on the standards of US meat works, however, suggest that a significant proportion of these are operating under shocking hygienic conditions inferior to most, if not all, of the meat exporting establishments in Australia that have been delisted by US inspectors. Apparently US authorities find it more convenient to wield the big stick and impose more rigorous hygiene standards in Australian meat works than they are prepared to impose in many of their own works in the US. Official Congressional reports reveal the frequent findings of rats and vermin infesting filthy US plants processing meat for human consumption.
There also needs to be a clear policy laid down for Australian meat works on meat held in storage or on the high seas after works have been delisted. If the US authories are going to condemn all meat emanating from a delisted meat works, even though some of this meat may have been slaughtered and inspected by Australian inspectors weeks before the delisting date, this type of action will certainly lead to the bankruptcy of the smaller meat exporters. To illustrate this point I refer to the case of Wyndham. Here is an extraordinary situation, in which part of a very large consignment was off-loaded without any trouble on the west coast of America. More of this Wyndham meat was off-loaded at Tampa in Florida, but when the considerable balance left in the ship reached Philadelphia the official axe fell, on various pretexts. The meat was given the axe and dumped immediately. What sort of a policy is this?
Meat works in Australia are in confusion. I use the term ‘meat works’ liberally because of the 27 which have been delisted 18 are slaughter houses and 9 are not. But the principle remains. What has to happen is that clear unambiguous directions have to be given by the Australian Government through its meat inspection services to Australian meat works. I am quite certain that almost every member of this Parliament who has a meat works in his electorate has had approaches or delegations from the authorities of meat works imploring them to try, for goodness sake, to get the Government to lay down some criteria which they can follow. At the present time United States meat inspectors and Australian veterinary surgeons have their own individual understanding of how these regulations apply, and these interpretations vary from meat works to meat works. We have seen in Victoria a meat works, which was considered to be of world standard, delisted with respect to the American trade. What we ask today is that at least the facts should be made known, the facts regarding the standards required by the US Government. These should be in clear unambiguous language so that meat works authorities in Australia can interpret and implement them, and at the same time our meat inspection standards should be enforced through our veterinary officers and meat inspectors, to comply with these rigorous provisions. Surely in this way there can then be no misunderstanding. If this escalation of delisting continues we will be faced with one unholy mess in our export trade with the US.
– The honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) has proposed the discussion of a matter of public importance, namely:
The failure of the Federal Government to take positive action to halt the seriously deteriorating condition of Australia’s export meat trade.
It is important that we understand and know properly the history of our meat trade with the United States. We need to know the role of the Government in this history in order to make a judgment on whether the honourable member for Dawson has made his point. We need also to know whether there is any discrimination against Australian meat in comparison with other countries and also in comparison with United States domestic meat. We also need to know where the responsibility lies for the implementation of the regulations on health in these abattoirs. The first thing that needs to be made perfectly clear is simply that the Australian Government does not control the health regulations covering the entry of meat into the United States. This is within the purview of the Wholesome Meat Act which is part of the Meat Inspection Act which was brought down by the United States Congress and lays down the regulations and conditions covering the entry of meat into America.
I think the first thing we have to understand is that there has been a great change in consumer demand in respect of health regulations covering pure foods not only in America, to which country this discussion is directed, but throughout the world and certainly in Australia. I think it fair to say that as an Australian I certainly would not ask the people of Australia to accept a lesser standard than I would expect to apply to meat sold in the United States. The people of Australia have every right and justification to expect that the health regulations that govern the supply of meat to the Australian people set as high a standard as the health regulations in any other country. The facts are, of course, that we are selling meat on the United States market and the people of the United States would expect the Australian Government therefore to meet the health regulations designed by the United States Government covering the sale of meat in that market, and we have to be sure that when we are selling meat in that market we do in fact meet those regulations. I do not think any of us has the right to challenge the proper protection of consumers in this regard. The question arises of whether there is any discrimination against Australian abattoirs. Are we being picked on politically? The simple answer to that question is: ‘No, we are not’. The truth is that the United States is not making any demand on Australian abattoirs that is not making on other exporters to the United States market, such as New Zealand, or indeed on United States domestic abattoirs. lt is interesting to note that the honourable member for Dawson referred to reports made to the United States Congress. A report, which was made to Congress for the year beginning on 1st January 1969, showed that of a total of 51 plants in New Zealand 7 have been deregistered and that of a total of 193 Australian plants there was a net loss of only 8. So one cannot say that Australia is being picked on for some vague political reason. The fact is that New Zealand is undergoing the same difficulties as Australia in meeting the continually improving requirements of the American meat authorities, it is also a fact that the United States authorities are cracking down on United States abattoirs. During the past 1.2 months 79 American plants have been withdrawn through Federal inspection. I think this proves the point that the American authorities are equally determined to bring their abattoirs up to a proper standard to meet the health requirements that are demanded by Congress as they are to make sure that Australian, New Zealand or any other export abattoirs that supply the American market maintain proper standards.
The honourable member for Dawson has alleged that the Government is not playing its part. What is the Government’s role? 1 think we need to understand perfectly clearly what the Government’s role is in this matter. The Government’s role is to provide an inspection service covering the meat that is exported to the United States and other markets. This service gives a certification that the meat is prepared and packed in accordance with the requirements of United States legislation. The honourable member for Dawson drew to the attention of the House the fact that meat can be loaded and be half way across the water before it is declared as not suitable for entry into the United States. Of course, in changing circumstances where health regulations could be altered it is a simple fact that because of the distance between the point of export and the market this can happen. It is unfortunate but it is a fact. However, this does not give us the right not properly to inspect and certify meat under new regulations that might come in. We have to meet the demands that the United States sets down. We are exporting to that market and its consumers want this protection. The least we can do is to make sure that we give them that protection.
The Australian Government assists abattoirs in obtaining a proper understanding of what the Americans want. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, for example, is running schools on such subjects as sanitation services so that employees of abattoirs may gain a proper understanding of what is required by the United States inspection service. They are learning and sturying proper practices of abattoir efficiency and health standards. The CSIRO is giving this assistance for one reason - so that people in our abattoirs might know what is required of them. The Australian Meat Board is running a quality control service advising abattoirs about the method* that ought to be followed. This service is being offered in an endeavour to overcome any problems, misunderstandings or misrepresentations about the regulations. So I think it can be seen that we are playing a proper role.
The United States market is a very valuable one. Last year 245,000 tons of beef and mutton valued at more than $240rn was sent to the United States market. This represented 70 per cent of our total beef exports. The one thing we cannot afford to do is to jeopardise that market, lt is true that difficulties are created by changing demands of the consuming public which wants to be assured that it is being protected. We have to give the consuming public that assurance; we have to meet these requirements. The difficulties that have arisen are of concern to us. Nevertheless, if we want this market we have to comp ‘ with the requirements laid down by Congress for Australian abattoirs, United States abattoirs and any other abattoir exporting to America. Therefore, I do not think the charge that the honourable member for Dawson made that the Australian Government is falling down on the job is justified. We are handling abattoirs with a great deal of sympathy and understanding. We are trying to get proper communication between the meat inspection service, the abattoir controls and the United States authorities so that there will no: be any misunderstandings and so that meat can h killed under proper regulations and sent to the American market.
– The Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) has sketchily described the condition of the meat industry in Australia. He said nothing about the Government’s intentions to bring back some form of organisation to the meat industry of Australia. The meat industry of Australia is in a state of disruption from Darwin to Devonport. It is in disruption across the breadth of the north west of Western Australia. The Minister talked about co-operation between the Government and the meat inspection authorities. He talked about co-operation between the meat industry and this Government. Such is the disorganisation that standards of hygiene, inspection and processing achieved at a considerable cost to the meat industry have become obsolete overnight. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) has admitted that this is the case. In fact, the greatest problem facing the meat industry today in relation to export requirements is the lack of standardisation.
There is a great difference of interpretation placed on the regulations by individual American personnel. There is variation from shed to shed. These Americans wield great power and they have deliberately caused chaos in the industry. Such is the situation in the meat export trade that after spending about $200m to achieve a set of standards, demands are still being made on abattoirs for even higher standards. This being the case, one cannot Marne the meat industry for taking the view that it is being held to ransom by political lobbyists of the United States. In fact, there are instances in which the Department of Primary Industry has refused to issue an instruction supporting an American demand. Yet, failure to meet this demand will lose the licence for the shed that does not comply. In this regard, in deference to what the Minister has said, this Government has shown little regard for the industry by refusing to demand uniformity. In fact, protection of the industry by this Government is noticeable by its absence.
As 1 said before, it is a lack of uniformity and that insidious power in the hands of American personnel that is causing disruption in the industry. It is costing employer and employee alike thousands of dollars in loss of trade and wages. Many of the regulations intrude into the working conditions of the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union. However, in the implementation of these regulations there is no consultation with this union. There have been strikes and stoppages that could have been avoided by a little discussion and forethought. So far as the Union is concerned, lost licences mean lost time and lost wages. Men have lost patience with the industry and have sought work elsewhere. I would like to refer to an advertisement which appeared in the Melbourne ‘Sun* on 3rd October 1970 which offered employment to mutton chain slaughtermen and butchers. This advertisement specified the wage these men would receive and offered a 7-hour day. Advertisements such as this one can be seen day after day. Do Commonwealth meat inspectors work a 7-hour day? Certainly not.
I shall reveal some of the conditions endured by Commonwealth meat inspectors as 1 go along. Resignations in the industry do not apply only to meat inspectors. They apply also to meat and mutton slaughtermen. This is a wastage that the industry cannot afford but the Government has done nothing about it. As there are most probably 42,000 people employed in the meal industry throughout Australia, some 10.000 of whom are employed in my electorate of Gellibrand, I can claim to have some knowledge of the situation and the frustration and unrest which is being experienced at all levels in the industry, from the top management to those who perform the most menial task.
I refer to the Commonwealth meat inspectors. It is common knowledge that in Victoria alone there are about 300 inspectors who have from 3 to 9 weeks leave owing to them, yet the Minister for Primary Industry says that there is no cause for alarm. In the same breath he admits that meat inspectors were resigning faster than they were being recruited. Indeed, about 60 have resigned so far this year. If this set of conditions is not alarming, what extent of deterioration and wastage must occur to alarm the Government?
In spite of these conditions, demands for wage justice for meat inspectors over a long period went ignored. Recently an increase in salaries was granted. This increase was accepted without prejudice by the meat inspectors, but still their demands for their case to be heard by the Public Service Arbitrator go unheeded. Wage justice has not been given to these Commonwealth Government employees, yet the Government can afford to bring 50 inspectors from New Zealand at a cost, most probably, of $65,000. This move, whilst carried out with good intention, was made with little thought being given to the end result. Surely with Commonwealth meat inspectors in a state of great turmoil and unrest over wages and conditions, more thought should have go,ne into the application of this plan. Yet in the face of this turmoil and unrest, and in the face of the exodus of meat inspectors from the industry, the Government brings men from New Zealand and employs them at a salary which is much lower than that paid to their Australian counterparts. The effect of all this was to cause deeper resentment in the already resentful ranks of the meat inspectors.
Firstly, the action of employing New Zealand personnel at lower wages is regarded with great suspicion and concern and as being a snide move to stop the Australian meat inspector from making further demands for increased salary. Secondly, the action of bringing 50 inspectors from New Zealand for the purpose of allowing Australian meat inspectors to take some of the recreation leave which is owing to them is only scratching the surface. It was al the best a pleasant paid holiday for the men from New Zealand. There is further concern in the ranks of the Commonwealth meat inspectors, lt has arisen from a rumour which is circulating that the Government is considering a dilute plan for the industry, using the farmers and farm workers who have lost their farms or employment due to the crisis in the wheat and wool industries.
Another rumour which is circulating is that the Government intends to embark on an intensive advertising programme, at a considerable cost, throughout the United Kingdom and Europe in order to obtain meat inspectors, yet the Government cannot afford to pay higher wages to its employees. The Minister can confirm or deny these rumours. He should make some comment upon them. It is no wonder that the conditions to which I have referred compelled the Minister for Agriculture in New South Wales to say:
United States sets absurd conditions on meat and these conditions are politically based.
The same circumstances caused the honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn) to refer to those Americans implementing these conditions as ‘half trained spies’.
Perhaps the most absurd situation in this conglomeration of political interference and Government muddling is the fact that people who are managing what are most probably the biggest meat interests in the world are afraid to engage themselves in any discussions with the representatives of the American political lobbyists, although they are prepared to say to me that the so-called American meat inspectors know little about ante-mortem inspection and nothing about post-mortem inspection. In making these statements they hasten to seek an assurance that their names will not be mentioned. When asked the reason for this attitude they quickly told me that disclosure would lose them their licence and that they would never regain it. In other words, they carry out their production under constant fear of and subjection to the loss of their licence. Could any industry operate under more absurd conditions?
If the Government is prepared to work men for years without allowing them to take recreation leave and to pay wages which are far below those paid to municipal meat inspectors and to workers on the beef and mutton chain and which are even below the wages paid to women in the packing shed who, with a little overtime, can earn more than the meat inspector, and in addition to those anomalies, to work men for 8 hours without a meal break, then I say that chaos, resignations and disruption must continue to be the lot of the employer and employee in the meat industry in Australia. It is a well know fact that many qualified meat inspectors are working on the beef and mutton chains, in the boning rooms and in other subsidiary branches of the trade. It is also a fact that the Government has no chance of getting these men to return to their former occupation unless it has the courage and foresight to pay the wages and provide the conditions which will make the industry attractive enough for these men to return to it.
– The honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Mclvor) made the very sweeping statement that the Australian meat industry is in chaos from Darwin to Devonport. That is not altogether correct. I refer to an article in the Northern Territory ‘News’ of 13th October 1970, which was given to me by the honourable member for the Northern Terriory (Mr Calder). The article quotes the General Manager of the Katherine abattoirs as having said on 13th October:
Luckily there are only 4 to 5 weeks to .go before the end of the season, so there is no panic until next February.
We have m> reason to want our licence back before then.– though that doesn’t mean we won’t be applying for it before then.
I do not deny that there are great difficulties and problems in the meat industry, but I know that the Government and the industry are using every endeavour to try to meet the standards which are being imposed upon the industry by our customers.
In typical fashion the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) has come into this House and raised a matter of public importance in order to try to capitalise politically upon a delicate situation in the vital meat industry, which is one of the profitable primary industries in Australia. But I think it is even more reprehensible that he has chosen to do this in the absence of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony). I think he has done this because on every occasion on which he has had an encounter with the Minister for Primary Industry he has come off second best in a field of two.
What is the purpose of raising this matter of public importance? ls it to try to sabotage one of the few profitable primary industries in Australia at the present time? The whole record of the Opposition has been to try to sabotage our national service training programme and our involvement in the war in Vietnam. Honourable members opposite are calamity howlers; they are prophets of doom. I brand the Opposition a sabotage Party, so far as the people in my electorate are concerned. The truth of the situation in the meat industry is that the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen) negotiated in the United States for our meat industry in October 1958. He negotiated Australia out of the United
Kingdom meat agreement and in doing so made a great gain for the Australian meat industry, especially the beef industry. Today about 70 per cent of our beef and veal is exported to the United States. Indeed, 45 per cent of our total meat exports go to the United States.
Exports of beef, veal, lamb and mutton to the United States have increased from only 105,000 tons in 1959-60 to 264,000 tons in 1969-70 - an increase of 168 per cent. That is what this Government has done for the Australian meat industry, so far as the United States meat market is concerned. The value of these exports has increased front $66m to an estimated $248m in 1969-70- an increase of 275 per cent. These figures represent a steady increase in recent years, and we expect that there will be a further increase in meat exports to the United States next year. This important market to Australia accounts for the prosperity of our beef and meat industry; Australia having about 50 per cent of the United States import market. Positive action has been taken to secure this market and full credit must go to the Minister for Trade and Industry and the Australian Government.
– Tell us about the ones that they have closed.
– What is the truth of the situation? Let us look at the facts. Let the calamity howler - I am sorry, the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly), that fellow who was born at Currabubula - be a calamity howler but let him not depress the beef industry and the beef industry in my electorate. I am sure that his relations and friends must be ashamed of him. The Minister for Trade and Industry negotiated Australia’s way into the United States market and negotiated freedom from the earlier British agreement to sell as much as we could to the United States. There has been a dramatic increase in the volume of meat exported and an increase in the price that has been paid for beef and meat generally in Australia. In spite of the quotas which the United States has imposed as a result of the Amercian cattle lobby. Australia, as I said earlier, still has 50 per cent of the market.
Let us look at the total meat production situation in this country. The total meat production for 1969-70 reached a record, a gross value of 5985m, exceeded 2 million tons of production earning export returns of more than S3 80m. Beef and veal in 1969-70 will exceed 1 million tons. Exports of beef and veal are up by 20 per cent on the figure for last year. Beef export earnings are estimated to be $294m, 39 per cent higher than earnings in 1969. The story in respect of mutton and lamb is good also.
What is the positive action that the Opposition is wishing the Australian Government to take against the United States, the market which has given the prosperity that I mentioned, to the Australian meat industry? The Opposition wishes the Government to direct a vindictive campaign against, the Americans. If our customers require certain export standards, do we ignore them? Do we tell them where to go and to get their meat elsewhere? The farmers ought to tell the Australian Labor Party where to go. Indeed, Australian farmers told the Australian Labor Party where to go on Tuesday of this week in front of Parliament House where only 50 or 60 farmers turned up to be addressed. I am proud to say that not 1 representative of my electorate attended that meeting. The farmers told the Australian Labor Party last Tuesday where to go.
– I met a dozen of your electors out there.
– I am sure that they would not say hello to you. I am certain that they told you where to go and that they will tell you where to go in the future. Australia has to consider its customers and endeavour to supply products to meet its customers requirements. One might argue that the hygiene standards appear to be stringent. Some people have; some countries have. Some countries are banned completely from the United States meat market because their abattoirs have not met the required standards. The thought of this Government not taking the measures that are necessary to try to reach these standards is a pretty horrible one. Does the Australian Labor Party want to see Australia lose this big market?
The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) is acting, I believe, in a most responsible manner in the interests of meat producers ensuring that our abattoirs are brought up to the required standards. In the United States of America, people are very conscious of food standards. So are the people of other countries. It will not be long before people of all countries will say that if these food standards are good enough for the United States of America then they will be good enough for them. To ignore this consumer trend would result in great damage being done to our meat industry. The Minister quite rightly has announced that the Government will do everything possible to ensure that Australian meat works comply with the requirements of the consumer in our biggest market. Any other policy of retaliation would be complete folly, absolutely crazy and irresponsible to say the least. Honourable members opposite can play politics if they like, but do not gamble with the future and the prosperity of the meat producers whom I represent.
– The honourable member for Gwydir (Mr Hunt) who has just resumed his seat, denied the claims by the honourable member for Gellibrand (Mr Mclvor) that there was chaos from Darwin to Devonport. All I say to the honourable gentleman is that I am sorry that he cannot catch a plane and get to Devonport today where 20 more people have been paid off by S. P. Holman and Sons Pty Ltd, bringing the total paid off to three-quarters of those employed at that meat exporters’ works. I am sorry that the honourable member cannot stand out there in front of the meatworks and tell the workers that there is no chaos, that the Government is doing everything possible and that it knows exactly what standards are laid down by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony). There are no set standards. I am very concerned at the varying and ambiguous standards imposed and the huge outlay of money that has to be met by meat processing companies to bring their works up to the required standard. 1 wish to lodge a protest in respect of the time allowed for this debate. Normally 2 hours is provided for the discussion of a matter of public importance. But in this debate we are limited to 50 minutes. 1 think that it is scandalous that the Government is allowing us only 50 minutes in which to debate this important subject. Speaking on behalf of my constituents, I am limited to 5 minutes. I think that this is a scandal in the Parliament. Because of the time limit, I must hurry on.
I will speak about 1 meatworks to verify this point about the ambiguous reports about which the honourable member for Gwydir so smugly smiled. I have 3 reports here. The first is of an inspection carried out on 16th January. The report was made on 20th January. All the defects had been effectively remedied subsequently by the meatworks. I have another one. It relates to the same meatworks. It relates to an inspection by different officers with different standards. The inspections were carried on 12th and 13th March. The report was made to the meatworks on 27th April. Everything required to be remedied by the report was carried out with the exception of 1 thing. Reference was made to ‘“insufficient pavement’. With the wet winter, the laying of the bitumen was held up. That is natural enough. I turn now to the third report. This was an inspection early in August by a Dr Meisner. I have not time to tell the House more about his attitude to meatworks in Tasmania when he went there to inspect them. His report came on 28th August.
The result was that the company lost its United States of America meat licence. Here it is. The meat was inspected by the meat inspectors. Certificates were given by this Government and the meat paid for. Those certificates are recognised by this Government. The inspectors were carrying out the policy of this Government with regard to meat inspection. The consignment of 112 tons of beef to the United States was cancelled. It was out of the cold store on the wharf. Everything was ready to go onto the ship and then so the United States. The result of the cancellation was a loss of $80,000. The premises were inspected by officers of this Government. This is the usual practise. Premises are inspected first thing in the morning before people are allowed te start work by a veterinarian and 3 meat inspectors. As they go around the works, if they see anything wrong - for instance, if the cleaning from the day before is not up to their standard - a tab is put on the works and it cannot start work until all defects have been cleaned up. Until this is done, the works is not allowed to start processing. When this is done, the meat inspectors and the veterinarian stay with the meat right through the whole of the operation. They watch it and they inspect it all along the line. Following that, the stamp of approval from this Government is put on the meat. The meat goes into the cold store ready for export. The Government has an obligation to accept a responsibility in this field. It lays down the standards, lt pays the people who carry out inspections. The Government must accept its responsibility to see that this meat is able to be disposed of on other export markets.
Let me point out what has happened. When this company lost its licence from 1st September, Senator Lillico and myself, together with the Federal Council of the Australian Meat Exporters Association, asked the Minister for Primary Industry whether he would send down a team for re-inspection. He sent a team down. He arranged to send them down for the reinspection on Friday, 2nd October. The Press reported on 1st October that the reinspection was to be made. The Minister said: ‘Veterinarians of the Department of Primary Industry from Hobart and Canberra will make a further inspection of the plant tomorrow’.
Let me illustrate how the sympathy of the Department comes into this matter! Just look at what happened. These people arrived in Tasmania. I am paraphrasing a report from the Hobart ‘Mercury*. These inspectors arrived at the request of the Minister for Primary Industry to make a re-inspection. They arrived at about half past 6. They were making their inspection. Some officer sent a telegram putting a blanket ban on the works for meat for all destinations. This was a ban on meat for export to not only the United Kingdom or the United States of America but also all destinations. While the departmental reinspection was taking place at the request of the Minister, an officer of the Department in Canberra sent down a telegram putting a blanket ban on the whole of the works. I want to know what should the Minister do. If I were the Minister I would sack this man, because he acted before he even had the chance to get the report back from the investigating officers who were in the plant. When the man realised he had made a mistake, to cover up he sent a telegram of more than 400 words down to the plant listing more and more defects. This was the fourth time in 12 months that this had happened. The people who operate the plant had no idea of these defects and, as yet, have not received a letter. They have received only a tlegram of 400 words to cover up for the fact that an officer beat the Minister to the punch as far as the reinspection was concerned.
It is important to note that the telegram implies that the British were likely to impose a ban on the meat, too. Senator Lillico, Federal exporters and I were very alarmed and concerned at this, because it meant the dismissal of 75 employees and the effect on the economy of Devonport and the surrounding districts was serious. It meant the loss of $150,000 worth of meat in cold stores ready for shipment and it meant a fall in return to our primary producers because the bottom dropped out of the market. Press reports will indicate just what the effect on the stock producers in my area was. The Minister was in Fiji. We realised the matter was urgent, so yesterday we telephoned Mr Potts who was at a meeting of the Australian Meat Board in Sydney. We asked him, as we asked the Minister, whether there was any chance of interceding with the British Authorities to try to get the British blanket ban taken off, too. Mr Potts said: ‘Nothing in the foreseeable future.’
This company is facing financial ruin, with $150,000 worth of meat on the wharves, and fellows are losing their jobs. So we went across to the British High Commission yesterday, and what did we find? Something altogether different. We were told that the British authorities will take our meat if it is passed by our inspectors. I want to know why this Mr Potts did not tell us that; I want to know why the Minister did not tell me this when he sent a telegram down to my Burnie office yesterday; I also want to know why Senator Lillico and I were hoodwinked in the Minister’s office some months ago when we were told that the British had the same standards as the Americans, when the British High Commission told us yesterday that they will take this meat if it is passed by our inspectors. I want to know why the Minister does not stand by these people in Devonport and other parts of Tasmania where there are qualified veterinarians and 3 meat inspectors who, as I said, have gone around hours before the works begin to operate to make sure that they are passed for operations during Hie day. Once that is done they turn around and go into the works. They watch the killing right through and set the seal on it. This is the seal of approval of the Government. These people have been trained by the Government; they are okayed and passed by it.
I maintain that the Government has an obligation to those 74 or so men who lost their jobs. It has an obligation to this company which is facing financial ruin with $150,000 worth of meat on the wharves. It has a financial obligation to compensate this company for the charges involved in the cool stores. It has an obligation now to say to the British authorities: ‘AH right. We will lift any bans that we imposed on it and let it go’. I have never seen, a greater scandal in my 12 years in this House. 1 think it is absolutely scandalous. I think it calls for a complete inquiry right through. The Minister must clean out the lines of communication. There is something wrong in his Department. He had the hide to stand up and say that he was sympathetic and all this type of nonsense. What tommyrot. The Minister ought to read through the reports and the matters of conflict mentioned by my friend the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson).
Just to complete the matter to show how stupid they are: One lot of inspectors will come in and say: ‘Oh, this is a condemned room. It has to be locked up.’ The next lot will come in 2 months later and demand to know why it is not unlocked. There is this conflict all the time which goes on between inspection and inspection. What is wanted, as my friend the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Duthie) said, are the varying circumstances-
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– Evidently there are some localised problems that affect some of the speakers we have heard debate this matter today. However, I want to confine my remarks to the proposal for discussion which is:
The failure of the Federal Government to take positive action to halt the seriously deteriorating condition of Australia’s export meat trade with the United States.
In my State all meat works can export iamb anywhere, can export beef anywhere and can export mutton anywhere except to the United States of America. So I must refute the terms of the Opposition’s contention in its entirety from my point of view and from the point of view of my State. I have had the chance during the last hour of ringing a representative of the growers’ organisations in my State, a stock firm and 3 meat works representatives. In every case they were horrified to hear the terms of the proposal by the shadow Minister for Primary Industry, the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) today. They were unanimous in saying that the problem was one of management, of union attitudes and of seasonal and structural problems.
Let me deal with them in order. In many southern States today they are in the middle of a spring rush of lamb, beef and mutton coming through their abattoirs. Frankly, many abattoirs are not interested in an American licence for the time being. The reason for this is the hands-off provision in the American regulations in terms of the killing line. At the Adelaide abattoirs, the principal meat works in my State, today they are putting through 78 sheep per run. I am not certain of the time per run, so let us say 78 per unit of time. At Cannon Hill under the ‘hands-off’ technique they are putting through 64. It is for this reason, in the middle of a spring rush, that they are not all that concerned at the present about the immediate granting of an American export licence, particularly if one remembers where they can export to and what they can export from that State at present.
I mention briefly the main problem apart from structural alterations. This problem concerns the manual handling in the killing line of animals in terms of the passing on of the disease cheesy gland. The reasons why the Americans want a knife-on’ and hands-off method of killing is to stop the transfer of cheesy gland, lt is as simple as that. In Australia if you want export licences you put through fewer sheep per run. We apply, and if the structural situation is readily acceptable, as I gather it is in my State, there is no difficulty. I refer briefly to the unions. The unions in South Australia are unique. We have a situation where slaughtermen are prepared to work 7 days a week during the glut. I commend them for this responsible attitude to the farmers’ problem of getting stock through the abattoirs in spring. I hope that producers generally recognise this form of co-operation. I would like to go on record as saying that.
The next problem that one must remember, if one agrees with the Opposition’s proposal whose terms I have read out, is that there are new negotiations for increased rates for a hands-off killing technique and there is one, at any rate, meat works in my State that does anticipate a small degree of a problem in negotiation on rates of killing on a changeover from a hands-on to a hands-off method of killing to meet the American specifications. I quote from 1 State, New South Wales. At 7.30 this morning the Gosford meat works started killing for American export. It took them 6 weeks from the time management wished to start killing for export until a start was actually made at 7.30 this morning. I do not suppose the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen) knows any more about the Gosford killing works than he does about the citrus industry in his electorate. However, that is another aspect that one must keep in mind. It seems to me that in many areas of Australia when the management of a killing works wants some action in relation to an American licence it can get that action, all other things being equal. I feel sorry for my friend from Braddon (Mr Davies) because evidently there is a local problem in his electorate and I am not at all competent to make any comment on that. But I am competent to say - and I have checked my information pretty fully - that the Government’s role in this field of meat export is that of an inspection service and of undertaking international negotiations. Basically, Australia is a ready seller and America, subject to the conditions it lays down, is a willing buyer. I do not believe that extravagant remarks such as accusations about rats in killing works in America, which were expressed by 1 Opposition speaker, and other highly exaggerated statements will help in our relations with America, to which country it is essential that our primary producers continue to sell their meat.
Motion (by Mr Nixon) agreed to:
That the business of the day be called on.
Bill presented by Mr N. H. Bowen, and read a first time.
– I move:
The purpose of this Bill is to make certain amendments to the Canberra College of Advanced Education Act 1967. These changes are in accordance with proposals submitted to the Government by the College Council. Most of the amendments concern the membership of the Council but there is also an important amendment to enable the College to award degrees. I shall deal in more detail with the latter at a later stage. The first alteration of Council membership under the Bill is to make provision for student representation. There is at present no such provision but it was envisaged that a decision on this question would be made when the College had come through its early developmental stages. This point has now been reached. The Bill therefore provides for two students to be elected to the Council by the student body and for the Council, should it wish, to arrange for separate representation of part-time or full time students.
Related to the amendment to have student representation on the Council is an amendment to reduce the minimum age of Council membership from 21 years to 18. The Bill provides for teaching staff representation on the Council to be increased from 2 to 3 members. The last of the proposed alterations to Council membership arrangements is one to make the Vice-Chancellor and the Deputy ViceChancellor of the Australian National University alternative members of the College Council. The duties of the Vice-Chancellor make it difficult for him to attend ali Council meetings and the Act now makes provisions which enable the Deputy Vice-Chancellor to be appointed to the Council in his stead. A more flexible arrangement is desirable, which would allow either the Vice-Chancellor or the Deputy Vice-Chancellor to attend Council meetings as circumstances permit.
The Act at present provides for a Council of 16 persons, with the possible addition of another person as Chairman. I beiieve the strengthening of Council membership by the addition of student representation and further staff representation is fully justified at this stage of the College’s development. The other important matter contained in the Bill is provision for the award of College degrees. The functions of the College are to be enlarged to permit it to award degrees, in addition to the award of diplomas and certificates. Honourable members will be aware that when the Canberra College of Advanced Education was established in 1967 it was not given the power to award degrees for the satisfactory completion of courses. This arrangement was consistent with the Government’s policy at that time of not providing financial assistance for degree courses in colleges of advanced education in the Stales.In the meantime the Government sponsored an inquiry into the nature and classification of awards in colleges of advanced education by a committee under the chairmanship of Mr F. M. Wiltshire. The recommendations of the Wiltshire Committee have been under discussion between State and Commonwealth Ministers of Education for some considerable time now. Although details of appropriate administrative arrangements have not yet been agreed upon, the Ministers have agreed on the desirability of consistency in awards throughout Australia. For its part the Commonwealth has said that it will be prepared to provide financial assistance for degree courses in colleges where the standards of those courses have been endorsed through appropriate national accreditation machinery.
The proposed amendment to the functions of the Canberra College of Advanced Education will enable the College to make statutes for the award of degrees in appropriate circumstances. Those statutes will be subject to aproval by the GovernorGeneral. I will be prepared to recommend such approval where the academic standards of courses in the College have been established through effective national accreditation machinery. Pending agreement with the States on the form that machinery will take. I propose to invite a small independent group of knowledgeable persons to make recommendations to me in respect of awards at degree level submitted by the Council of the Canberra College of Advanced Education. The Bill deletes certain parts of the existing Act which refer to the Interim Council and the First Council Report and are therefore no longer operative. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Beazley) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Nixon, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time. This is a short Bill, the principal effect of which will be to permit the States to enact legislation requiring the licensing of premises used for processing fish for either domestic consumption or export.It also omits Nauru from the scope of the Fisheries Act following the granting of independence to that country. The Government believes that the effects of this Bill have significant importance for the Australian fishing industry. In particular, it will provide a path not at present available for the Commonwealth and States to cooperate in the rationalisation of the secondary sector of the industry in so far as it will clear the way for any State to enact legislation requiring the licensing of premises used for the processing of fish. This process of licensing would not be possible without the enactment of this Bill for reasons to which I shall refer later in this speech.
The need for rationalisation of fish processing facilities is particularly indicated in the more lucrative fisheries, such as prawns, rock lobsters and scallops etc. where the creation of a total processing capacity in a particular area in excess of the ability of the fishery resources to supply would lead to overcapitalisation. Indeed, two prawn processing companies in northern Australia have already failed because of their inability to secure a share of the total catch sufficient to make their operation economically viable. An important consequence of rationalisation of processing capacity will be to reduce the risk of excessive pressures being placed on the resources in situations where processors are urging fishermen to increase their catches at any cost in order to keep the processing facilities in operation. In many of our fisheries, the sustainable yield from the resources is not yet fully known and the Government is taking all possible steps to carry out research with the objective of providing this information. Under these circumstances some pragmatic management decisions have had to be made and the Commonwealth has taken action in the Northern Territory to limit the number of prawn processing opportunities and has held regular consultations with the Queensland fisheries authorities on the desirability of extending this kind of control to the Queensland sector of the fishery. 1 believe it is appropriate to emphasise to honourable members and the fishing industry, that the Commonwealth is not by this Bill proposing itself to enter the field of licensing fish processing plants for reasons of fishery management. Whether or not processing plants are to be licenced will depend entirely on decisions by the several State governments to enact suitable legislation for this purpose. I should also make it clear that the operations of the Exports (Fish) Regulations which provide for standards of hygiene, sanitation and product quality in respect of plants processing fish for export and for registration of plants meeting those standards, will not be affected in any way either by this Bill or by any State legislation that may subsequently be enacted. The Bill has a secondary purpose connected with the Government’s decision to establish under the Fishing Industry Research Act 1969, a matching fund for research education, extension and development for the benefit of the fishing industry.
At the time that negotiations were proceeding with the States on the establishment of this fund it was agreed that each State would collect the contribution from the fishing industry in which ever manner was considered most suitable to the structure and organisation of the fishing industry in the State concerned. Queensland authorities took the view that in that State the most suitable form of levying the contribution would be by way of fees collected from the licensing of fish processing plants. However, the Queensland Government felt some concern for the validity of legislation to give effect to this proposal in view of the judgment in O’Sullivan versus Noarlunga Meat Pty Ltd, where the High Court held that State legislation requiring the licensing of premises used for processing meat for export was invalid. Accordingly, in1969 fisheries and legal officers of the Commonwealth and Queensland conferred with a view to devising a legal course of action which would offset the effect of this judgment. The result of this conference is embodied in the Bill now before the House. It has the concurrence of the Queensland Government and of the Australian Fisheries Council.
Accordingly, the Bill has a secondary importance for the development and conduct of research into our fisheries by making the way clear for any State, which desires to employ the device of licensing premises used for the processing of fish as a means of collecting money from the fishing industry to be matched by the Commonwealth under the Fishing Industry Research Act, to do so without fear of the legislation concerned being ruled invalid in the light of judgment in the Noarlunga case. The provisions of the Bill are brief and to the point. I believe that I have adequately outlined them in my opening sentences. This Bill is part of an overall review of Commonwealth fishery legislation which has been undertaken in the Department of Primary Industry and which will form the basis of more extensive amendments of the Fisheries Act and Continental Shelf (Living Natural Resources) Act during a subsequent session of the Parliament. I commend the present Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Stewart) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Chipp, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time. The Bill now before the House introduces legislation to amend the Phosphate Fertilisers Bounty Act 1969. As members of the House will recall, this Act increased the rate of bounty on phosphate fertilisers as from 13th August 1969. In the case of standard superphosphate the bounty rose from $8 per ton to $12 per ton. In accordance with section 5 of the principal Act, the new rates were only payable in respect of unsold stocks held by fertiliser manufacturers immediately prior to that date and production on and from that date. Following announcement of the Government’s decision, representations were received requesting that stocks of phosphate fertilisers held by resellers on 13th August 1969 be eligible for payment at the higher rate of bounty. Resellers holding stocks had been compelled in this case by competitive pressures to drop the price to the farmer by the full extent of the bounty increase. As a result they suffered some financial loss.
The phosphate bounty was specifically intended to reduce the price paid by the user. The Government considers that it is unreasonable for resellers to carry the burden of the increase in the bouty on stocks held at the time the rate was changed. Accordingly, the Phosphate Fertilisers Bounty Act 1969 is being amended to provide for retrospective payment of bounty on unsold stocks held by resellers, who absorbed the increase, at midnight on 12th August 1969. As a result of the changing structure of the industry, it appears that higher levels of stocks are being held by resellers. The Government intends to apply this principle to any future changes in the phosphate fertiliser bounty rates. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Dr Patterson) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Wentworth, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Honourable members will observe that the form of this Bill follows very closely the form of its predecessors for expenditure through the States on Aboriginal advancement. They will, however, note that the amount of the grants is now substantially increased, and that the housing component of the grant has been separately expressed. The practice of making these grants to the States started in 1968-69, the first year in which I become Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs, and it has been continued at an increasing amount in each succeeding year. The total for 1968-69 was $4m; for 1969-70 it was $5,410,000, and the proposal for this year 1970-71 is $7m. I have prepared a table showing the annual distribution between the States. With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate the table in Hansard.
In regard to Aboriginal advancement the Commonwealth Government does not have exclusive powers or responsibilities but, as in other matters provided under section 51 of the Constitution, it shares these with the States, subject, of course, to the proviso that in case of conflict of Federal and State laws, it is the Federal law which prevails. For many years now each State has had its own machinery for assistance to its own Aboriginals, and it seemed reasonable when the Commonwealth came into the field that we should utilise this machinery and assist its operation rather than ourselves endeavour to set up suddenly a whole new apparatus on our own account.
Last year, as I have said, Commonwealth grants to the States under this head totalled some $5,410,000. I thought it might be of interest to honourable members to have details of how this sum was spent and I have therefore had prepared a detailed account and with the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate the table in Hansard after the text of my speech. For this year, as I have said, the allocation is to be increased by almost 50 per cent, that is, from$5,410,000 to $7m. Once again with the concurrence of hon ourable members I incorporate in Hansard details of this allocation without reading them.
The Government has ear-marked $4,800,000 of the proposed expenditure for this year for housing. Because we believe that this is of special importance to Aboriginal people couldImakesome special reference to this housing programme? Firstly, the housing programme for Aboriginals must be different in different circumstances. Many Aboriginals are already prepared to go into conventional type houses like other Australians, and we would hope that as soon as practicable all Aboriginals would be so prepared. But in saying this we must have some sense of reality and acknowledge that as at the present moment many of our Aboriginal people, particularly in the northern and central parts of Australia, would not want this kind of accommodation. Second, no housing programme can stand by itself. To be successful it requires paralleled employment and training programmes. Third, it must frankly be recognised that a very high proportion of Aboriginals do not yet have the employment capacity or motivation which would enable them to earn enough income to pay normal rents or to make normal capital repayments. To a very large extent, therefore, investment in Aboriginal housing will fail to give any adequate return in terms of money; the profit to be gained from it must be regarded as a social profit rather than a financial one.
It would, I think, be fundamentally wrong to endeavour to force all Aboriginals into conventional-type- houses. Those who live in cities or towns in the south will, of course, tend to prefer these conventionaltypehouses and their preferences should be met. Other Aboriginals may, however, make quite a different choice. In north and central Australia 3 special problems arise:
There is one other matter whose significance is often overlooked. In areas where there are large concentrations of Aboriginals it is of vital importance to involve them to the maximum extent in building for themselves. In the cities, of course, where there are conditions with which most Australians are familiar, Aboriginal housing will tend to be built in the normal way and under normal contract, but in the north and central areas of which I have spoken very different conditions should apply. In these areas there is an endemic shortage of worthwhile employment for Aboriginals, and every effort must be made to involve them in provision of their own housing needs. This will not merely make it possible to satisfy those needs more quickly, but it will also provide them for at least a generation with gainful employment and, at the same time, will have the immense psychological advantage of re-assuring them that they can improve their own conditions of life by their own efforts.
When i became Minister in Charge of Aboriginal Affairs one of the first things J did was to emphasise the desirability of using Aboriginals in their own building programmes, and some progress has been made towards this objective both in the Northern Territory and elsewhere. In the Northern Territory, for example, a mobile works force based on the employment of Aboriginals has been established and is in operation, and, in the various missions, building programmes using Aboriginal labour have been approved on an increasing scale. Nevertheless, I am somewhat disappointed at the pace of our advance in our efforts to involve Aboriginals in providing their own housing, and I am asking my officers to continue to confer with the officers of the Department of the Interior, to see whether any improved plans towards this objective can be devised. I realise, of course, that all aboriginals do not have all the necessary skills, and am well aware that complete success cannot be expected overnight. I am, nevertheless, disappointed at the amount of work which is still being done on Aboriginal housing and associated work on settlements and missions and, indeed, elsewhere by labour which is being brought up from the south, while Aboriginals too often are allowed to sit around at a loose end. It does seem to me that the Queensland authorities, for example, sometimes achieve better results than we do in the Northern Territory in this particular field.
Honourable members can be assured, however, that both the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) and myself are fully alive to the over-riding importance of involving Northern Territory Aboriginals in their own building programmes, and we will continue to work towards this end. Perhaps more can be achieved by studies of house design and by finding ways of adapting our designs to local skills and the available local materials.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.13 p.m.
– Mr Speaker, you will recall that just before the suspension of the sitting for lunch 1 was speaking on Aboriginal housing and drawing particular attention to the need to involve Aboriginals to the maximum possible extent in providing for their own housing needs. T was suggesting also that more might be done perhaps by the careful choice of design and materials and fitting the one against the other so that Aboriginals could use their skills to the maximum extent. I pointed out that to some extent I had been disappointed hitherto in the progress made along these lines.
Before 1 leave this subject of bousing, may I refer to another matter which has been a source of some disappointment to me? Some time ago, I announced in this House the formation of an Aboriginal Aged Persons Homes Trust to which I hoped those people throughout Australia who profess goodwill towards Aboriginals would make donations. Not only would these donations be deductible for income tax purposes but, in addition, the Government would contribute $2 for every $1 subscribed. Three very distinguished gentlemen, namely, Archbishop Sir Philip Strong, the former Primate of Australia; His Eminence Cardinal Gilroy; and Mr B. B. Callaghan, C.B.E., the Managing Director of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation - agreed to act as trustees, and a board of advice consisting entirely of Aboriginals was constituted in order to determine the expenditure of the money for the housing of aged Aboriginals. I am bound to confess that so far the response of the public to this appeal has been quite minimal. I repeat that the donations should be sent to the Aboriginal Aged Persons Trust Account, Commonwealth Savings Bank, Civic Square, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory.
One would have thought that among the many who profess a desire to do something for Aboriginals, more might have been found to co-operate with the Government to provide homes for the aged among them, especially when the effective management of the scheme was in Aboriginal hands. I hope that it will not be long before this lack of support will be a thing of the past. I am anxious for quick subscriptions totalling not less than $250,000, and I repeat that such subscriptions qualify as deductions for income tax purposes. The
Government will then add a further $500,000, and we will be able to make a worthwhile impact towards our very worthwhile objective.
If I could leave the question of Aboriginal housing, I could say that apart from housing the main expenditure through the States are in education, health and employment. In the health field, while we have made some contribution to the provision of more bricks and mortar in the States, my office and the Commonwealth Department of Health have been primarily interested in helping the States to improve health services in the areas where Aboriginals are located, and to this end we are financing for a limited period the salaries and costs of community health nurses, public health officers and others in Aboriginal areas. The Department of Health and the Council for Aboriginal Affairs last December organised a workshop of Commonwealth and State health officers and persons engaged in Aboriginal health research in an attempt to pool knowledge about Aboriginal infant health and nutrition and much previously unpublished and uncorrelated information was brought together in this workshop. It is encouraging to be able to report that already some States are seeking financial support within our grants for health projects based on the recommendations of this workshop.
So far as education is concerned, in addition to the amount of $912,000 spent through the States, major amounts are being spent by the Commonwealth directly. I might mention that, in addition to the amounts spent on Aboriginal education through the States, direct Commonwealth expenditure in this field will this year reach $2.3m. Honourable members will recall that in December 1968 the then Minister for Education and Science and I inaugurated a scheme of study grants for post-secondary and tertiary studies for Aboriginals. The scheme is now into its second year of operation and the results to date are encouraging. During the 1969 academic year,114 Aboriginal scholars were assisted under the scheme, of whom 14 were at the tertiary level. Of these, 33 completed their courses in1969 and 39 made sufficient progress to proceed to later years or stages of their courses in 1970. During 1970, 240 students are being assisted. I have no doubt that the numbers assisted under the scheme will continue to rise year by year.
The introduction of the complementary secondary grants scheme by the Minister for Education and Science and myself in January this year has had the most encouraging results. Under this scheme, the Commonwealth assumes financial responsibility for all Aboriginal secondary students from the beginning of the year in which they turn 15 upon certification by their headmasters that they would benefit from further study. So far in 1970 2,300 Aboriginal students have been granted these secondary grants. This is far more than we had expected, and we have clear evidence that numbers of the scholars have stayed on at secondary schools, because of the introduction of the scheme, rather than ending their studies at the statutory school leaving age as they would otherwise have done.
Progress has been made during the year under the employment training scheme inaugurated in 1969 by my colleague, the then Minister for Labour and National Service. So far about 500 Aboriginals have been assisted under the scheme, and although this is a small beginning I would expect that increasingly the scheme will help Aboriginals, particularly those emerging from the education system, to become permanently employed. Modifications in the rates payable under the scheme are at present being examined, and I hope that their inauguration will increase the impact of the scheme. I again emphasise that the major aim of all of our efforts in so many varied fields is to assist Aboriginal Australians to qualify for meaningful employment or for self-employment at the highest level which their individual potential makes possible.
During the year the Commonwealth has directly interested itself in numerous other fields, with the aims of assisting Aboriginal organisations to provide needed services for Aboriginal citizens and encouraging Aboriginals to retain features of their own culture where they so choose. Thus, during 1969-70 I made grants totalling $203,000 to Aboriginal organisations and other bodies to enable them to make their welfare and other activities more effective. I made further grants totalling $296,000 to other voluntary organisations for the construction of urban hostels for Aboriginal students and young workers, this being in addition to the hostels financed in some States through our grants. As I announced on 21st October 1969, my officers assisted the establishment of the National Aboriginal Sports Foundation composed entirely of eminent Aboriginal sportsmen; and, in making grants of $35,000 to Aboriginal sporting bodies during the year, I was entirely guided by the advice of this Foundation after its formation. I would like to express my thanks to the Aboriginals who assisted in this work. We have similarly tried to encourage Aboriginal arts, crafts, and cultural activities, and during the year I authorised grants of $53,000 for these purposes. These grants are helping to stimulate Aboriginal interest, not only in their traditional arts, but also in using their skills in new media. Amongst the more important projects financed under this head have been an Aboriginal Publications Foundation and, in association with the Commonwealth Council for the Arts, the Aboriginal Theatre Foundation.
– What has happened to that trust arrangement for small businesses and that kind of thing?
– That is the capital fund, is it?
– That is proceeding. I think I laid details of it on the table of the House recently.
– Has it been used to any great advantage?
– Yes, indeed. I have had the report in front of me. I am not quite certain whether it has been laid on the table of the House yet, but if it has not it will be shortly. The House will recall that the Prime Minister has promised that all legislation discriminating against Aboriginals, whether on a State or Federal basis, would be eliminated in the lifetime of this Parliament. This promise will, of course, be kept but I know that the House will share my desire that in keeping it we should to the greatest possible extent co-operate with the States rather than use the over-riding powers of Commonwealth legislation. Discussions are at present proceeding, and I feel confident that, within the time limit stated by the Prime Minister in his policy speech, I shall be able to make a satisfactory report to the House.
Finally, I would wish to record my appreciation of the spirit of co-operation shown by the States - and, indeed, by mission and other authorities in the States and in the Northern Territory. In particular, I would wish to record the fact that, honouring the undertakings which they gave me in 1968, the States are maintaining their levels of expenditure on Aboriginal advancement in general and housing in particular, from their own funds.
– If they would do something for the schoolboy in my electorate it would he a lot better.
– If the honourable member will give me-
– I have written to you about it.
– Indeed, they are increasing these each year in parallel with their normal budgetary increase. The Bill before the House deals, of course, with advances to the States, but I have taken the opportunity of touching on other matters dealing with Aboriginal advancement. I thank the House for its indulgence and I commend the Bill to the House.
22702/70- JJ- (77J
Bill presented by Mr Sinclair, and read a first time.
– 1 move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to re-introduce the provisions inserted in the Navigation Act during the autumn session giving the Minister for Shipping and Transport powers to deal with ships and their cargoes in cases where there is pollution, or threat of pollution, of the Australian coast or coastal waters by oil. Honourable members will recall that in March this year an amendment was made to the Navigation Act as a matter of considerable urgency at a time when the tanker ‘Oceanic Grandeur’ had grounded in the Torres Strait and was menacing our northern coastline. The Bill was amended during its passage through Parliament to provide that its provisions ceased to have effect after a period of 6 months. That period expired on 18th September.
The Bill now before the House is in accordance with my undertaking at the time to review the provisions of the Act and to bring in legislation to ensure that to the maximum extent possible the powers which already existed in State legislation in relation to oil spillages would be permanently supplemented by such powers as could be vested in the Commonwealth. The debate on the previous Bill showed that honourable members fully endorse the need to provide the Minister with powers to take urgent and effective action to ensure there is no delay in the removal of a potential oil pollution hazard. They also agreed that the Commonwealth should be provided with authority to recover under its own right costs which it incurred in taking action to prevent the discharge of oil, or to reduce the effects of a spillage. I. would assure the House that in preparing this Bill very careful consideration has been given to all points of view put forward in the debate on the previous Bill, and to all subsequent representations. Where that consideration showed that a point had merit and could be adopted, appropriate provision has been made for its inclusion in the Bill.
The earlier Act had five main provisions. Firstly, it provided for the Minister to take action when he was satisfied that oil was escaping, or likely to escape, from a ship and cause pollution. Secondly, it empowered the Minister to require the owner, master or agent of a ship vo take whatever action appeared appropriate sa relation to the ship, or its cargo and failing action by such person the Minister could himself cause action to be taken. Furthermore any costs incurred by the Minister in taking action could be recovered from the person on whom the notice was served, and the Commonwealth’s cost of cleaning up any oil that escaped from the ship by reason of the notice not having been complied with could also be recovered from the person on whom the notice was served. Penalties of up to $2,000 were applied in respect of each day on which a notice was not complied with and the oil continued to escape. The legislation applied to all vessels to which the Navigation Act applied, but it was specifically provided that the Act did not apply in relation to a foreign registered ship unless the ship was in Australian coastal waters.
As the present Bill, in the main, follows the pattern of the previous legislation, the principal provisions of which I have just outlined, I shall confine my further remarks to those aspects in which it varies from the earlier legislation. Perhaps the most significant change is that a general liability is now imposed on the owner of a loaded tanker to meet the Commonwealth’s cost of cleaning up any spill that his vessel causes. This liability attaches whether or not a notice has been served on the shipowner and whether the oil escapes prior to or after any such notice has been issued. At the same time the tanker owner is given the same general defences, relating largely to acts of war, natural phenomenon and wrongful acts of a third party, as are . provided for in the 1969 Brussels Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage.
Under the earlier legislation no limitation was placed on the strict liability of a shipowner to meet the Commonwealth’s costs of cleaning up after an oil spill. It has been put to me by shipowners that such a provision would load them with a risk against which they could not insure. In. the circumstances it has been decided to permit the owner of a loaded tanker, but not the owner of any other ship, to limit his liability to the same extent as is provided for in the Brussels Convention to which I have just referred. This is $120 a ton of the ship’s tonnage with an overall limit of §12.6m. This overall limit would of course apply only in relation to the very largest tankers likely to visit Australian ports. As was the case in the earlier legislation strict liability is imposed on owners of vessels other than loaded tankers, for the consequences of them failing to comply with a notice and oil escaping as a result. However, in a prosecution or a Commonwealth claim for clean up costs, it will be a defence that their failure to comply with the notice was in order to save life at sea, or because it was not possible to comply with the notice.
The earlier legislation applied only to the so-called persistent oils. The laws of the various States dealing with pollution aspects, which this legislation supplements, all define oil to include the non-persistent oils. The Bill has been drawn so as to apply its provisions to all oils, including refined petroleum products. It was thought necessary to do this so that a notice could be issued on the owner of a vessel carrying non-persistent oils requiring him to take action in relation to the vessel or its cargo to prevent or reduce spillage, if the circumstances were such that the State legislation did not apply. It will be most unlikely that the Commonwealth would have to claim clean up costs in relation to non-persistent oils, as, by their very nature, they evaporate before cleaning up would be necessary.
Another area in which the Bill departs from the earlier legislation is in relation to the responsibilities of the master and agent of a ship. Formerly, both the master and agent could be issued with a notice and were faced with the possibility of prosecution for failing to comply with that notice. They could also be held liable in certain circumstances to meet the Commonwealth’s cost of cleaning up after a spill. As the financial resources of both the master and agent would be soon exhausted in a case of serious pollution these provisions served little purpose and it has been decided to place full responsibility on the owner of the ship for these things. It will be possible, however, to serve a notice on the shipowner by serving it through the master or the agent of the ship. Having done this it is then possible to increase considerably the penalties for noncompliance with a notice, and to provide for penalties of a recurring nature to apply daily whether or not oil escapes from the ship on that particular day.
Other amendments made to the earlier legislation have been introduced mainly in the interests of precision and clarity and do not fundamentally affect the scheme of the legislation. The amendments have been found necessary in the light of practical application of the legislation. They serve to make the law a more effective and appropriate measure, and they take account of the various comments and representations that have been made to me, in relation to the subject matter of the Bill.
As I mentioned earlier, the legislation which this Bill replaces lapsed on 18th September and it is most desirable that this replacement legislation be enacted as early as possible. I might add that in fact no real deficiencies have been found in the legislation as it was initially drafted, but in its modified form I am sure that the additional measures included in it will be of substantial advantage in regard to the removal of risk of oil pollution. Australia could be faced with a serious pollution problem in the event of an accident to any of the numerous tankers which operate on our coasts. We were forcibly reminded of this possibility at the weekend when the tanker ‘Edgewater’ carrying 18,000 tons of heavy fuel oil grounded in the Tamar River in northern Tasmania. There was a distinct possibility of the vessel breaking up and causing serious pollution over the whole of the Tamar estuary. At the same time there seemed to be some reluctance on the part of interested parties to assume responsibility and to take positive and early action to prevent a discharge of oil. Fortunately the vessel was refloated without any loss of oil but the potential hazard existed for more than 24 hours. I commend the Bill to the House and trust that it will be given a speedy passage.
Debate (on motion by Mr Charles Jones) adjourned.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time. It is not very often that Parliament is called upon to deal with lighthouse matters. This is so despite the fact that the first Commonwealth Act relating to lighthouses was passed in 1911. That Act, amongst other things, provided powers covering the establishment of new lights and the maintenance and improvement of coastal lighthouses and other marine marks that were being taken over from the States. Since that time we have made considerable strides in the provision of lighthouses, or marine navigational aids’ as they are now more generally known. The term ‘marine navigational aids’ in itself is symptomatic of the changes that have occurred. In the early days most lightstations were manned by a lightkeeper who physically tended his light, which was then operated by kerosene. Over the years, however, many lightstations have been converted to automatic operation, using either gas, electricity or both, and, despite a significant increase in the number of coastal lights, we now employ considerably fewerlightkeepers than was the case a couple of decades ago. Probably more importantly, however, a number of new developments have occurred which allow other ‘aids’ to take the place of the ‘lighthouse’ as such. Over the years radio beacons have been installed at a number of points on the coast. These allow ships to continue to navigate in fog and other weather conditions in which a lighthouse is only of limited use. The most recent development, of which honourable members will generally be aware, is the electronic position-fixing system installed at Port Hedland on the north west coast of Western Australia to cater for the navigational needs of the large bulk ore carriers calling at that port.
The principal purpose of the present Bill is to ensure that the Act will apply to this wider and more sophisticated range of marine navigational aids now in use and likely to be installed in the future. One particular navigational aid which needs to be covered by the Act is the automatic tide gauge recently installed at Booby Island in
Torres Strait for the benefit of the many ships navigating Gannet Passage. This gauge would probably not be considered a marine mark for the purposes of the Act as now worded. It is, however, providing very important information to ships in relation to the depth of water in Gannet Passage. It is a matter of particular concern to the Government that, if through some mischance this gauge contributed in some way to a marine casualty, the Commonwealth could be held liable. At the present time the Lighthouses Act provides that an action shall not be maintainable against the Commonwealth by reason of any act, default, error or omission, whether negligent or otherwise, in relation to any lighthouse or marine mark. It is most important that the phrase lighthouse or marine mark’ used in the Act be amended to include all types of marine navigational aids now installed, and that this be done as soon as possible. At the same time the opportunity is being taken to extend the provisions of the Act to cover a lighthouse and 2 beacons established in the new Coral Sea Islands Territory, and to enable the Act to be extended by proclamation to cover aids to navigation established elsewhere in any other Australian territory.
Existing section 7 confers on the Minister power to erect lighthouses and other marine marks and allows faint to add to, alter, remove or vary the character of a lighthouse. In the Bill now before the House the responsibility for these matters is being vested in the Commonwealth rather than the Minister. This arrangement overcomes problems of both a legal and practical nature concerning questions of exercise and delegation of the power by the Minister. It is impossible with the great expansion of Commonwealth activities in this field for the Minister to be personally involved in the exercise of all the powers under the section. It is thus proposed that the powers set out in this section should be exercised in the ordinary way by Commonwealth officers, with the Minister having the overriding responsibility, as roust always be the case. When the Lighthouses Act was first enacted, it relied in the main on the Commonwealth’s constitutional power in relation to’lighthouses, lightships, beacons and buoys’. As the various new types of marine navigational aids to which
I have referred may not all be covered by those words, the new section 7 will include a reference to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, under which Australia has an obligation in respect of marine navigational aids. It thus draws on the external affairs power under the Constitution to cover any apparent deficiency of a power that might otherwise have existed.
Collectors of Customs and other officers of the Department of Customs and Excise perform duties under the Lighthouses Act, particularly in relation to collection of light dues, on behalf of the Department of Shipping and Transport. As the existing definition of ‘Collector’ is unsatisfactory, a more appropriate definition, which follows the definition in the Customs Act itself, is being substituted. The Bill is both desirable and of an urgent nature, and I commend it to the House for passage.
Debate (on motion by Mr Charles Jones) adjourned.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Urea Bounty Bill 1970.
Sulphate of Ammonia Bounty Bill 1970.
Sulphuric Acid Bounty Bill 1970.
Pyrites Bounty Bill 1970.
Cellulose Acetate Flake Bounty Bill 1970.
Consideration resumed from 14 October (vide page 2163).
– Is the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) aware that there is one great group, in relation to capital subsidy for workshops, that is not covered by the provisions of the 1967 Act or the new Bill? It is evident that the Department of Social Services in its Rehabilitation Service lays great emphasis on and makes provision for social and recreational facilities within Commonwealth rehabilitation centres. However, there is no provision for the establishment of social and recreational facilities in sheltered workshops. The Bill should provide for a capital subsidy to assist the establishment of social and recreational facilities in workshops, either on the site of the workshop, the site of the hostel - not just for the residents of the hostel but for the whole workshop - or on a separate site.
I wish to address my remarks to proposed new section 16b (1.) in the proposed Part IVA. I want to deal with the question of apprentices. I suggest to the Minister that there is one further item of great significance which the provisions of the proposed legislation do not cover. Here I refer to disabled or handicapped workers who are apprenticed within a workshop. The Minister must be aware that Bedford Industries in South Australia has given a lead, both in Australia and in the world, for the acceptance into sheltered workshops of disabled apprentices. The proposed provisions of the Act will clearly not encourage workshops to employ disabled apprentices because there would be no payment of the $500 to the workshop for any apprentices who are successfully placed.
As 1 understand it, the first disabled apprentice iri a sheltered workshop in Australia - and I believe in any sheltered workshop in the world - is a case in point. This is an epileptic boy who is employed at Bedford Industries as an apprentice cabinet joiner. He was indentured some 4 years ago. This boy has been paid award rates since his date of acceptance at Bedford Industries. Last year he was awarded the prize for the best all round apprentice in cabinet joinery at the trades school. Bedford Industries was approached initially by the State Secretary of the furniture trade union in South Australia to accept this boy as an apprentice as both the boy’s parents and the trade union had not succeeded in getting him accepted into the furniture trade because of his epilepsy.
Obviously there should be encouragement, not discouragement, given to workshops to accept handicapped apprentices, as through apprenticeship there can be better planned career development and better payment for the handicapped worker. Of course, there is also for the Department of Social Services relief from payment of pensions, and for the community there is greater productivity. However, because this worker has never been on a pension, the provisions of the proposed legislation would prevent Bedford Industries from receiving the $500 training grant. In the whole of this young man’s career, because of his effort and because of the facilities of Bedford Industries, he has never been a pensioner.
I think this is a rare case. Apprentices in sheltered workshops are obviously in the minority. Quite frankly, I think it has been an oversight on the Minister’s part that provision was not included in the Bill to cover this type of contingency. I ask the Minister to ensure that the $500 subsidy is paid to workshops that accept disabled apprentices. Further in this context, will the Minister give an assurance that, where a disabled apprentice completes at least 6 months continuous employment in such a workshop, the workshop shall immediately become eligible for the $500 subsidy?
Turning to section 5 (a) of the Act I should like briefly to refer to another anomaly which concerns people who are not recipients of social service benefits but who are in recept of workers compensation, repatriation benefits or superannuation. As I understand it, the proposed legislation requires that those people who are not in receipt of an invalid pension or sheltered workshop allowance are obliged within the provisions of the Sheltered Employment (Assistance) Act or alternatively the Social Services Act to be assessed as being 85 per cent incapacitated, and that such assessment must be carried out by medical officers of the Minister’s Department or of the Department of Health - 1 am not sure which.
As the Minister is aware, Bedford Industries is one of the largest sheltered workshops of its type in Australia. The Minister is further aware that some 13 honorary medical consultants are attached to this workshop. On this consultative panel are Professor Cramond, Professor of Mental Health at the Adelaide University, Dr Cornish, a specialist in orthopaedics, Dr Pjumfer, Medical Director of the Heart Foundation of South Australia and Dr Norma Kent, Assistant Director of Mental Health in South Australia. The question I pose - and I seek the Minister’s reply - is: Where such sheltered workshops, as in the case of Bedford Industries, have a panel of medical and specialist medical advisers, will the Minister concede that the medical staff attached to such workshops are equally competent to make an assessment as to whether a person has been disabled to the extent of 85 per cent incapacity? This would overcome the problem of these people having to attend an examination by doctors of the Minister’s Department or of the Department of Health. To obligate people who are mentally or physically handicapped to be subjected to medical examination by officers of the Minister’s Departmen, when such examination can be carried out at the workshop itself, is, to say the least, ludicrous, illogical and totally uneconomic. I ask the Minister to give a simple administrative instruction in order to overcome what 1 believe is an -obvious anomaly. 1 wish to draw the Minister’s attention to sections 8 and 9 of the principal Act which refer to the provision of social and recreational facilities. 1 referred to this matter when f commenced my speech in the Committee stage. The Minister has stated that this is the ‘decade of rehabilitation’. Surely he must concede that this field is of equal importance to that of the occupational area. I venture to state that it is basic to the whole therapeutic concept. The current capital subsidy of $2 for $1 tragically does not extend to include this field. Surely this must be treated with equal priority. I quote one example. Bedford Industries took in a boy aged 16 years who could neither read nor write. After considerable time and patience on the part of both the boy and Bedford Industries, he in fact was awarded the Handicapped Worker of the Year award. This boy, now a man, is a spray painter working successfully in outside industry. The point I make is that this boy would never have made the grade had it not been for both the social and recreational facilities provided by Bedford Industries. Therefore, I frankly ask the Minister: Will he agree that the provision for the payment of the capital subsidy as set out in the Bill be interpreted - and I emphasise that - to include both social and recreational facilities?
I draw the Minister’s attention to section 16D in proposed new section Part 1VB, which refers to professional and extra supervisory staff. As I understand the current position, the subsidy provided for in this section is on the basis of $1 for $1. Surely the Minister is conscious of the crying need for the skills of professional and extra supervisory staff throughout all workshops. Surely the Minister is aware of - I know he is - and would readily acknowledge the fact the the need for both professional and more importantly, extra supervisory staff is more necessary in a sheltered workshop than in outside industry. Therefore I ask: Will the Minister agree to increase the subsidy applying to this much needed area from the current $1 for $1 to that of a capital subsidy of $2 for $1. In conclusion, I should just like to place on record the fact that when we were dealing with a Bill earlier this year the workshops in my area were grateful for the replies which we received from the Minister on that occasion. I trust that he will adopt a similar course on this occasion.
– The Minister might recall that last night during the second reading debate I raised the question of what were approved as against non-approved sheltered workshops. I mentioned what I understood to be the criteria which are applied. The Minister indicated that what I had said was not quite correct. Could he tell me what is the difference? I would be glad to know. I suggest that in legislation of this kind it is very nearly impossible to avoid the situation in which a lot of the interpretation is left to the administration.
I refer to sub-section (c) of proposed new section 16b which leaves it to the Director-General to be satisfied that the training given to the disabled person during the period of sheltered employment contributed significantly to the ability of that person to engage in normal employment. It seems to me that this is a matter which could lead to a good deal of subjective judgment. I know that we already have some difficulties in determining who is and who is not an invalid pensioner. In addition, sub-section (2.) of proposed new section 16b states:
The Director-General may, by reason of special circumstances, direct that two or more periods of normal employment of a person and the intervals that separate them shall, together, be treated, for the purposes of paragraph (a) of the last preceding sub-section, as one continuous period of normal employment.
This provision refers to the position where a person graduates from sheltered workshop employment to normal employment. If they remain in normal employment for a period of 12 months, the organisation or the workshop becomes eligible for a grant of $500. Here again, it is left to the administration to determine whether a number of smaller periods will be equivalent to a straight period of 12 months.
I turn now to clause 7 and proposed new Part IVB, proposed new clause 16d, sub-clause (b) which reads: the Director-General is satisfied that some or all of the services provided, or to be provided, by the person would not be required if the employment in connection with which those services are provided, or to be provided, were not sheltered employment.
This provision refers to the situation where a subsidy is paid to a sheltered workshop for specialist officers who are employed to an extent over and above what would be required in a normal place of employment. I am thinking here - they are itemised somewhere - of supervisory, medical, counselling or other kinds of specialist services connected with the employment of disabled persons. I am wondering how this will be done. I raised this matter last night. How are we to evaluate that part of a supervisory service which would be over and above what would be required in a normal employment position? I did suggest last night that it may have been easier administratively and less subjective in judgment if an overall subsidy was provided for workshop staff rather than by this provision putting ourselves in this rather difficult position of trying to make judgments about the relative part of a person’s employment that is attributable to normal employment and another part that is attributable to the special circumstances of his employment. I am concerned particularly though about the definition which I raised in the first instance.
– In concluding this debate, may I thank both honourable members who have taken part in the Committee stage and raised these points which I would regard as being raised constructively. It is quite true that some kind of subjective test has to be applied. The reason for this is that we are entering into rather unchartered waters. If we are to be generous in this respect, it is not possible to lay down, at the present moment at any rate, strict limits because strict limits thus laid down inevitably would react against the interests sometimes of very worthy organisations in ways which at the present moment cannot be foreseen. When this provision has been in operation for some years, it may be possible to consider some kind of closer definition. But I think that the Committee will realise that to some extent we are pioneering. We want to see how this develops and to develop it in the most effective way possible. Therefore, some kind of flexibility is desirable.
In saying this, may I add 2 things: First, I think that this is to the advantage of the organisation itself. My Department does take a realistic point of view. In general it will be found that complaints against my Department are remarkably few. My officers have been instructed to approach every one of these problems in the most constructive and helpful manner, and I believe that they are doing so. The second point that I would make is that, although no legal court of appeal is provided, in point of fact a most practical court of appeal is available. It resides in this Committee. Any honourable member may - and I am glad to say that honourable members on both sides of the Committee have - approached me on numerous occasions in regard to any particular problem about which they feel the decision of the Department has been wrong. Honourable members, from whichever side of the Committee they come, can be assured that any problem that they bring after consideration to my attention will be looked at in the most sympathetic way by me. It does not follow that I will go with the honourable member concerned every time and all the way. But I will look at anything that an honourable member brings forward - I am sure that any other Minister for Social Services would do so - in the most constructive and sympathetic way.
If an honourable member is dissatisfied finally, another court of appeal exists. It is in this Parliament. It is on the motion for the adjournment or, indeed, in debate or by question. Although it does not happen often that an honourable member feels so grieved about a particular instance that he feels it should be ventilated on the floor of this Parliament, it is the ultimate right of every member - and I know that this right will not be abused - to bring a case to this Parliament. This in a way is a more effective sanction that any court of appeal in the legal sense could be.
The honourable member for Barton (Mr Reynolds) spoke also of the question of who was approved and who was not approved in a sheltered workshop. I do remind him of something that I said last night. The Government did not start in this field. This field was started by people outside the Government The initiative came from them. But the Government, having seen how good some of these things were, was able to take advantage of the work that voluntary and charitable organisations had done outside our Commonwealth system and to come in, as we are coming now, in order to assist them. We are pioneering in the manner of assistance but we are not pioneering with the system. The system of sheltered workshops was devised by people, perhaps to some extent outside Australia, but certainly not devised originally in my own Department. It is a system which we want to take up to assist but we do not want to take over. !
Some of these organisations were in existence before our capital subsidy came into operation. Our capital subsidy is, I think, only some 3 years old at the present moment. These organisations would not have been eligible for capital assistance because they were in existence before any plan of capital assistance was obtainable. We have asked in general that they subscribe to the principle of a $4 per week minimum. We do not ask that they should all reach this $4 per week - which, by the way, is an average - immediately in every case. We do give some latitude. We have perhaps - I would not like to say overgenerously - accepted in general estimates -by organisations of their own future capacity. This is one of the flexibilities in the introduction of that scheme. I think honourable members will find that although some of these organisations may have been down in the $2 to $3 per week average in the past, they are coming up now. Where they are not up, my officers do endeavour to get alongside them and to help them to come up.
There is 1 thing that has to be borne in mind. That is this: There are some people in the community who are so handicapped physically or mentally that, whatever we do for them, they cannot themselves come up to this average. It may be that the sheltered workshop is more of an activity centre than a sheltered workshop. If it has in its employees a very large number of these very severely handicapped people, with the best will in the world and whatever we do it may not be possible to bring it up.
– They are worthwhile organisations.
– They are very worthwhile. This perhaps is a field which will repay further examination. But remember that in thinking of these people we must consider the interests of people in sheltered workshops who are capable of some kind of improvement. It is probably not to their advantage to mix them in too much with people whose handicap is so severe that they can never hope to do very much for themselves. It is a practical matter. I know that we talk about these multi diagnostic workshops. We do wish to have some kind of spread of ability. But there is something to be said from a medical and psychological point of view for keeping some distinction between those people whose handicap is slight, minimal or not so severe, on the one hand, and the people whose handicap is unfortunately so severe that nothing effective can be done for them - and there are some such people. it may well be that the Commonwealth should be taking more note of what I would call activity centres rather than sheltered workshops. This is one of the things that is under study at the moment. I am not going to give any commitment to the House. Indeed, it would be quite wrong and improper for me to give any commitment as to the result of that study. Whether this should be a responsibility of the States in this field I leave as an open question at the present moment. But I agree with the honourable member that these activity centres, which are not really sheltered workshops, do have a great value and they do have a proper place in any full scheme of social services.
It is sometimes forgotten that the Commonwealth’s power over social services comes under section 51 of the Constitution. As such, it is a concurrent and not an exclusive power. The States have responsibilities in the social services field for their own citizens to some extent. They share that field with the Commonwealth. So, as I say, it is a concurrent power.
– They would welcome more support from us, though.
– This may well be, and I am not trying to rubbish this argument. I am trying to look at it as an argument which is put forward sensibly and which may be sustainable. I am saying that it is sometimes forgotten that in this social services field there are State powers and responsibilities as well as Commonwealth powers and responsibilities. We would not want to have a position where, in the running of these things, there was an inordinate kind of confusion between the States and the Commonwealth. It may be better to have a fairly clear cut-off line of distinction between them. This does not matter when the Commonwealth is coming in with capital and the State is doing the running, because then there is no confusion. 1 am not saying it is so, but I am saying it should be considered whether the activity centre, as distinct from the sheltered workshop, should not be a State responsibility rather than the Commonwealth’s responsibility, but I agree that it should be somebody’s responsibility.
I have tried to deal with the matters raised by the honourable member for Barton. The honourable member for Hawker (Mr Jacobi) raised 4 main matters with me. I will try to answer them. First of all he spoke about apprentices, I am glad to be able to inform him that he need have no fears on this, because the legislation does all the things that I think he was wanting it to do. There is no bar against an apprenticeship, either in an organisation or outside the organisation. If normal rates are being paid and if the person concerned is carrying out his normal duties as an apprentice then the proper performance of those duties over 12 months will qualify for the $500 bonus. Of course, I am familiar with the excellent work being done by Bedford Industries. I have been there on a number of occasions. Indeed, I am familiar with one or two cases mentioned by the honourable member. I agree with him about the excellence of the work done. I am glad to inform him that under the legislation as it stands he need have no apprehension on the matter of apprentices that he raised.
The honourable member raised the matter of medical inspections and the 85 per cent disability. The general practice is that where a person is not an invalid pensioner evidence as to his being 85 per cent disabled for the purposes of this Act will be accepted from an organisation’s doctor. It is only in cases where there is doubt as to the degree of incapacity that it is necessary for the person to be examined by the departmental doctor. Any such examination would be carried out by the rehabilitation doctor. I am bound to tell the honourable member that this general departmental practice has hitherto not obtained in South Australia. In South Australia there has been some departure from the practice which has obtained in other parts of the Commonwealth. I am going to suggest that South Australia be brought into line in this regard with other parts of the Commonwealth. I think that answers the second question that he raised.
The third question that the honourable member raised concerned the $1 for $1 subsidy. I think he was suggesting that it should be brought up to a $2 for $1 subsidy. The honourable member will remember that the general principle that has been established in regard to the home care programme which was before this House some time ago is that in capital matters the Government pays a $2 for $1 subsidy, but in maintenance and running matters which require a much more continuous supervision the Government is inclined to confine its aid to $1 for $1. This is, as I said, a general principle. I have spoken about the sheltered workshops and I am inclined to think that the subvention we are offering now - it will be interpreted again in a flexible and general way - will be sufficient to carry them out of their present difficulties in this regard. It may be that later on - I think the honourable member for Barton suggested this - we may be able to put in some kind of overall subsidy rather than on a $1 for $1 basis. I am not quite convinced that this will ever happen, but it may happen in the future. I would not rule out that possibility.
I would, however, say that at the present moment when we do not quite know where we are going in all its detail - we know the direction we are moving in and we know it is the right direction but we do not quite know all the twists and turns of the path and we cannot find out except by going along the path - I think it would be out of place to adopt the suggestion, certainly at the moment. I give no commitment that it will be adopted in the future. Let us see how the thing works out. I am afraid that I could not go beyond the $1 for$1 subsidy in regard to maintenance and running, but the Government will continue to provide the $2 for $1 subsidy on the capital advance. This seems to me to be a general principle.
Finally, the honourable member raised the question of amenities and recreation areas. The general rule is that reasonable amenities - things like tea rooms, meeting rooms and locker rooms - qualify for the $2 for $1 subsidy. Hitherto we have not given this subsidy for such things as sporting ovals and swimming pools. I suppose this is something which can be considered in the future. I do not rule it out, but at the present moment I give no commitment in regard to it. But I can give a commitment that in deciding what amenity is reasonable my officers will be looking at the matter in a generous way and will be interpreting the Act in a flexible manner. I do not think it will extend to sporting facilities which are sporting facilities only but it will extend to what we would call a reasonable amenity, such as play areas, recreation rooms and things of this character. Let us see how it works out.
Again may I thank the House for the constructive way in which the second reading debate was conducted and for the way in which honourable members have approached the details in the Committee stages this afternoon.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr Wentworth) - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from 2 September (vide page 838), on motion by Dr Forbes:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill proposes to continue a practice established by the Federal Government in 1955 of paying Si in every $3 used by the States by way of capital expenditure on mental hospital development. One feels some disappointment that at this stage, 15 years since that practice was instituted, the Government has decided only to continue that practice and that there will be no adaptations and no development of it. This is regrettable because many new practices have been developed. There has been much theorising and certainly many exciting projects have been undertaken in the field of community psychiatric health services. In spite of these developments the Government perseveres with this long established and fairly restricted practice of providing money only for capita) expenditure on mental hospitals.
It is clear that the attitudes of those in the professional field associated with the provision of psychiatric health services indicate that the objective of these health services ought to be. as much as possible, to get patients back into the community, to get them involved in the totality of their society and, as much as possible, to get them away from mental hospitals. Even in the case of many chronic patients this is possible with the development of suitable hostel services and community-supported services. All of this has been ignored except for a fairly vague and fleeting reference in the concluding paragraph of the statement of the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) to the effect that the Government would maintain a watch on the development of community psychiatric health services by the States over the next 3 years.
We do not accept that this delay can be justified. We believe that the community psychiatric health services ought to be developed on a regional concept and that adequate finance for this purpose ought to be provided by the Federal Government. Accordingly I move:
Basically this is our philosophy. It indicates what our approach will be when a Labor government is returned at the next election. I will develop to some further extent later in my speech the aspect of how we will apply this approach, but firstly I would like to mention some of the historical facts and some of the background to mental health services in the community. The current practice which is being continued by this Bill was instituted 15 years ago as a result of the Stoller report of the previous year. The Stoller inquiry was conducted because of the somewhat scandalous conditions existing in mental health services in many parts of Australia. It was clear at that stage that this was an extremely neglected area of health services in the community. Not only was it extremely neglected; standards had to be improved to bring it to the required level in a modern civilised society which accepts human values and a responsibility to mainlain human dignity for all people, including the psychiatrically ill. However, uplifting rhe.se standards was financially pretty much beyond the resources of the State governments. This is true today with respect to an adequate expansion in the community integrated mental health services.
In any event, the Stoller report was introduced, I repeat, 16 years ago. The setting up of the inquiry was an invitation to the committee to make findings and recommendations to the Government which presumably were to be the guide lines for the Government’s future actions. As far as T can discover, the only recommendation accepted by the Federal Government has been this practice, which is to he continued by the Bill now before us, of providing a subsidy grant for capital expenditure by the States. So many of the important aspects recommended in the Stoller report have been neglected continuously for the past 16 years. For instance, the provision of a federal mental health division within the Department was recommended. This division has never been created and one wonders why. There is clearly a need for national planning, research, evaluation and development of facilities and methods at the national level but in co-operation with the State governments, if for no other reason than to provide the financial resources which are required to develop satisfactory mental health services in the community which are pretty much beyond the capacity of the States. In his report Dr
Stoller said of the suggested federal mental health division:
It would act as a catalyst in fostering new mental health developments according to the needs of each State.
By now, 16 years since that report, Australia could have had one of the best developed mental health systems in the world. We have many advantages. This was driven home to me after I had the good fortune recently to investigate mental health and social welfare services overseas. We have avoided through good luck and as a result of special advantages a lot of the problems which plague other countries. For instance, we do not have the problem that America has with its enormous population, its huge concentrations of people in small centres in the metropolitan areas, and the great divergence between the wealthy and the poor, the poor representing such a large proportion of the population. We do not have that kind of problem to contend with. Australia has the highest standard of health and welfare policies in the world. It could be a leader as it was 50 years ago instead of being, as it apparently is, 15th or 20th on the world scale of expenditure gauged as a percentage of gross national product.
The Stoller report also contains a recommendation for a programme of applied and basic research. That seems to have been neglected. I have no doubt that some aid in the form of research grants at federal level filters out for applied and basic research in mental health and mental health services. It is extremely difficult to catalogue the way in which this kind of research is fostered at the federal level. It would be a much more rational and coherent way to define this according to the manner in which it is done each year and to separate it as a special category because it has tremendous importance within our community. The Stoller report recommendation for an increase in community services has been neglected at the federal level. There has been no financial support from the Federal Government in the 16 years since that report was presented to permit the development of community services.
– That is not true.
– -It is true. The only provision the Government is making at the federal level for mental health services is on the basis of a capital grant of $1 for every $3 that is spent.
– It is just the same as the others.
– I will clarify the kind of thing I have in mind. I mention the provision for recurrent expenditure for these kinds of services. It is pretty pointless to provide a small amount of capital expenditure for the development of decentralised community services because this is only a minor proportion of the expenditure involved. The major portion, without which not much can be done, is in recurrent expenditures. This is what I am referring to. To be precise on the point I want to make, we have no detailed information on the Government’s long term programme, a programme having been worked out in conjunction with the States. Each 3 years all we have is the introduction of this legislation in a general way. It is significant, in spite of the way in which the Minister quickly reacted and in spite of his apparent assumption that the Government has been particularly generous in this field, that some States have only in the past 3 years taken up their allocation which was provided in the 1955 Act. Queensland was one such State.
The Stoller report also urged the training of large numbers of suitably qualified specialist stuff. The system of mental health services in the community seems to have broken down here. So, I give further accentuation to the point I was making to the Minister, namely, that this is one of the important areas and that until the Federal Government is prepared to provide more finance in this field the provision of mental health services in the community will be defective in a very important area and, as a result, overall we will suffer an inefficiency in the services provided in the community.
Let me give some details based on information I have extracted from personal communications with several State governments. In New South Wales at February 1970 the number of registered psychiatric nurses represented 40.5 per cent of the total number of nurses working in mental health institutions and the number of psychiatrists represented 32.8 per cent of the total number of medical officers working in such institutions. In Victoria at April 1970 the number of psychiatric nurses represented 85 per cent of the number of nurses working in mental institutions and the number of psychiatrists represented 43.7 per cent of the number of medical officers working in such institutions.
In Queensland at May 1970, 48 per cent of the nurses working in such institutions were qualified psychiatric nurses and 34 per cent of the medical officers working in such institutions were psychiatrists. There were 7 vacancies. In Western Australia at March 1970, 64 per cent of the nurses employed in such institutions were qualified psychiatric nurses and 43.7 per cent of the medical officers working in such institutions were psychiatrists. In Tasmania at March 1970, 31.8 per cent of the nurses employed in such institutions were qualified psychiatric nurses and 50 per cent of the medical officers working in such institutions were psychiatrists.
So, one sees a clear picture of a very uneven distribution of qualified people in the mental health services field in each of the States. From my discussions with people involved in the operation of these health services, it is quite clear that too often psychiatrists feel restricted in the sort of work they can do. There is not enough opportunity for flexibility and for innovatory policies to be developed within the mental health services. As a result, because of distress, frustration and disappointment there is a fair turnover of psychiatrists within the service.
Not only is there a fair turnover on the basis of the figures I have quoted, but there is a fairly grave deficiency in the proportion of psychiatrists to the total number of medical officers working within the service and there is a fairly grave deficiency, especially in some States, in the proportion of nurses employed within the service who are qualified psychiatric nurses. For instance, in Tasmania the proportion is as low as 31.8 per cent; in Queensland it is 48 per cent; and in New South Wales it is only 40.5 per cent. It is quite obvious that what Dr Stoller recommended 16 years ago is as appropriate today as it was then.
I move on now to the performance of the various States in the field of capital development programmes. Again one gains an impression of a patchy performance. I draw the Minister’s attention to this. He seems quite satisfied with the amount of capital development taking place in the States. Between I960 and 1968. on the basis of $1 in every $3 of capital investment being provided by the Commonwealth, New South Wales attracted $1 1. 8m of Commonwealth money, Victoria $6m. Queensland $1.5m, South Australia $1.4m. Western Australia SI. 9m and Tasmania $2.1m. That means that New South Wales, with 36 per cent of the population of Australia attracted nearly 48 per cent of the Commonwealth allocation; whereas Queensland, with 14 per cent of the population of Australia, attracted only 6 per cent of the Commonwealth allocation.
I am well aware that it is argued that because of new trends in the treatment of the psychiatrically ill there is not such a great demand as there once was for the development of new buildings at what are generally regarded as the conventional mental hospitals; that psychiatric wings in the genera] hospitals have reduced the demand for that sort of development. That may be. My knowledge does not extend very far in the practical sense of being in contact with many mental hospitals; but the 2 largest mental hospitals in Queensland are, in fact, in my electorate. The Wolston Park mental hospital, to my knowledge, has not had a new building for adult patients provided since 1946. The Challinor centre in the inner area of Ipswich is in a similar condition. In fact, there are several areas in which I would bulldoze buildings because of their total unsuitability for the service they are supposed to be providing.
In fact, the Hospital Employees Union has warned on more than one occasion that several buildings at Wolston Park, in fact, are fire traps and could cause a serious tragedy if a fire were to start. That is because they are old buildings, because they are unsuitable buildings and because they are much in need of replacement. This is the evidence that I produce to show that the present approach at the Commonwealth level is totally inadequate to meet the needs of the States. The number of inpatients in Queensland represents nearly 33 per cent of the number in New South Wales, but in 1966-67 Queensland spent on capital works less than 13 per cent of the amount New South Wales spent on capital works.
I repeat that from my own contact with these institutions in Queensland I know that there is a pressing need for many new buildings at the mental hospitals, even if we are to have a contraction of services at the mental hospitals commensurate with an expansion of services at the community level. For too long mental health has been the neglected and relatively impoverished relation in our health and hospital services. Dr Barclay, the Director of State Psychiatric Services in New South Wales, has used a quote in a recent work he has had published. Let me repeat that quote:
The States are the poor relations and, compared with the Commonwealth, are chronically short of money, to develop significant new programmes. The Commonwealth policy consistently discriminates against the mentally ill compared with the physically ill.
Quite clearly, Dr Barclay is making a plea for greater Federal financial assistance for the States. It is obvious to anyone who has taken an interest in psychiatric services in Australia that Dr Barclay has many advanced ideas on what ought to be done in this field. He is a dynamic personality. Although I have never met him, that clearly comes through in his writings. Hs is a man who, if given the opportunity through adequate financial support, will develop an extremely valuable community psychiatric health service. But he needs the money, as does Dr Urquhart in Queensland and every other director of psychiatric services in each of the States of the Commonwealth. They cannot possibly obtain the money from State resources, which are already overstrained.
It always amazes me to think that in this country our responsible representatives - especially the people at the Federal level but excluding members on this side of the House because we are not responsible for the restrained way in which the Federal Government supports mental health service programmes - can be so casual about the need of mental health services in the community. It has been estimated that mental illness accounts for 40 per cent of the total number of years lost through invalidity in Australia. Dr Stoller’s study some years ago of Heyfield, which is supposed to be a typical town in Australia, showed that 18.8 per cent of the population of that town was regarded as having some psychiatric disturbance. So, this is not a field of minor illness in the community; it is a field of fairly major demand for health services.
In 1963 President Kennedy, in his special message to Congress on mental illness and mental retardation, said:
Most of the major diseases of the body are beginning to give ground in man’s increasing struggle to find their cause and cure. But the public understanding, treatment and prevention of mental disabilities have not made comparable progress since the earliest days of modern history.
Very little progress is being made in this country because of the totally inadequate approach of the Federal Government to this problem and its failure to provide adequate support to the States to allow a satisfactory programme to be established, maintained, expanded and qualitatively improved. President Kennedy proposed a national mental health programme in which the States would be aided by grants to set up mental health centres. The essential requirements of those centres were that they provide in-patient and out-patient care, diagnostic and evaluative services, emergency psychiatric units, day and night care, foster home care, rehabilitation, consultative services to other community agencies, and mental health information and education. In addition, the legislation sought to set up a State mental health advisory council and area boards of citizens representing mental health associations, mentally retarded persons and representatives of the areas concerned. The boards were to be a liaison between the centre and the tocal community. I do not pretend that the system introduced in the United States has been without any defects, but certainly, from what I saw there recently, it is quite an exciting programme. Many benefits are being derived by the community.
However, as with all such programmes, it has run into problems in areas. This must be accepted. The problems are being ironed out and the system is being refined. The main problem is arising probably because of a failure to mesh in the mental health services concept with the concept of social welfare services, also on a community basis. As our proposed amendment indicates, in Australia we need the development of community integrated mental health services on a regional basis. The hospital re-admission rates show that merely adhering to the mental hospital or psychiatric wing of a general hospital concept, as is much the case in Australia, although representing some improvement is not good enough. The re-admission rates show that there is an alarming need for community services to be conveniently and quickly available in an emergency for people with psychiatric illness.
I shall again cite figures provided through communications I have had privately with various State governments.In New South Wales in1968 55.8 per cent of admissions were re-admissions. In Victoria 62.9 per cent of admissions were readmissions in 1968. In Western Australia in 1968 and 1969 the re-admissions were 46.67 per cent and 43.77 per cent respectively. In Queensland in 1968 45 per cent of admissions were re-admissions, and in 1969 44 per cent. I appreciate that the figures are distorted in that some people are re-admitted several times. No doubt relapsed alcoholics would account for a fair degree of re-admissions. But even allowing for that built-in distortion, there is clear evidence that community support is required to help these people in times of need. The services should not merely sit out in the community but should reach out into the home to include home visitors, social workers and psychiatric nurses in fairly frequent contact with discharged patients to ensure that they are looking after themselves and, where required, receiving the regular drug intake. Their behaviour should be watched to see whether there is any indication of a relapse in their condition. These things are crucial in the treatment of psychiatric illness.
Earlier I referred to the Heyfield survey which indicated that about 18 per cent of the community are suffering from some sort of psychiatric disturbance. The 1964 analysis of the Office of Health Economics in Great Britain estimated that for every patient suffering from mental illness in a hospital, there are 2 in the community. That is the magnitude of the problem that must be faced within the community. The re-admission rates I have cited are alarmingly high. They clearly indicate that the open doors of the mental hospitals have become revolving doors because of the breakdown between the services provided in mental hospitals and the need for services in the community.
The Commonwealth is aware of this need. The Hennessy submission on 3-phase development for the Australian Capital Territory clearly establishes that recognition. If it is good enough to establish in the ACT the sorts of services that are proposed in the submission, it ought to be good enough to provide them for the rest of the taxpayers in Australia. We do not want pockets of privilege in any part of Australia at the expense of the rest of the taxpayers. Our approach would be to develop further the provision of psychiatric services within the general hospital concept; in conjunction with the States to establish the pattern of mental health in the community; to provide the sorts of services required for treatment of that ill health; to base this approach on the regionalised community concept; and to aim to reduce the size of mental hospitals as we develop the community health services. Wolston Park mental hospital in Queensland has a patient population of between 12,000 and 15,000. It is altogether too large and impersonal to give satisfactory treatment to the in-patients. The variations and complexities of mental illness are too wide for a huge hospital like that to give adequate treatment. The level of patient population ought to be at least halved.
We would accept a responsibility in conjunction with the States to support the setting up of hospitals as half-way houses, not only for the acutely ill but also for the manageable long term cases; to set up conveniently placed psychiatric health services staffed not only by psychiatrists, psychologists and psychiatric nurses, but also by people employed in domiciliary services such as social workers, home visitors, home help and home nurses, occupational therapists and counsellors. We must set about making these services available on a 24-hour basis so that when the alarm bell rings for a patient in an emergency he can get the services quickly. He must know where he can get them. The location of these services should be well known.
As much as possible it is desirable to have these services conveniently available to patients on a 24-hour basis. As an adjunct to their development there is a clear need for the provision of adequate geriatric services in hospitals. There are too many cases of people committed to mental hospitals for social reasons rather than for clinical reasons. A submission entitled ‘The Geriatric Population of a Mental Hospital’ by G. Vernon Davies appeared in the February 1965 edition of the ‘Medical Journal of Australia’. It stated:
About 4 years ago in Melbourne it was found that of SO consecutive women admitted to a general geriatric unit, 23 were mentally ill enough to be in a psychiatric hospital; whilst 28 of SO consecutively admitted to a mental hospital were seriously physically disabled. Working at Belfast, Kidd in 1962 found that 34 per cent of the patients in a geriatric unit were more mentally than physically ill, and conversely, 24 per cent in a mental hospital were misplaced owing to being more physically than mentally incapacitated. Further, he ascertained that the mortality of such misplaced persons was significantly higher and the discharge rate much lower.
On this basis there is need for much finer discrimination in decisions on where people will be treated - on whether their problems are social or psychiatric, demanding psychiatric clinical services. In the final result it must be appreciated that if we do not spend more public money in the provision of adequate health services and if we do not evolve in the community the psychiatric health services concept on a regional basis, as I have mentioned, we must bear tremendous indirect costs. Because they are indirect costs, all too often we ignore them.
-Is the amendment seconded?
– Yes, I second the amendment. Mr Speaker, I wish to support the amendment moved by the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) for numerous reasons. The principal one is that having some experience of Victoria’s mental health services over the last few years it has been borne upon me more and more that the Commonwealth subsidy system of $1 for the State’s $2 places too great a strain on the State’s financial structure for adequate provision to be made in the mental health institution field. Another reason is that in my electorate are situated the mental health institutions of Mont Park, Larundel. Plenty, Bundoora repatriation mental institution and not so very far away the lanefield centre for the mentally retarded. Having contact with people concerned with these institutions and with others who have relatives within the institutions one comes to realise that there is so much to be done.
Probably in the last 25 years the most significant facets of mental health services in Australia have been, firstly, the report of the late Professor Kennedy to the Victorian Government in 1948 which led to the setting up of the Mental Health Authority in that State. That is a system which, despite many criticisms I may have about its operation, has set guidelines for other Australian States and even developing overseas countries. The second facet was the Stoller report which arose from investigations carried out in 1954 and to which the honourable member for Oxley referred. That report led to the third facet: The Commonwealth Government committed itself from 1955 onwards to direct financial grants to the States. The fourth facet was the role of Dr Cunningham Dax, Chairman of the Mental Health Authority in Victoria from 1952-69, whose book ‘Asylum to
Community’, published in 1961, summarised the development of mental health services in the past and offered a blueprint for the development of such services in the future in the light of changed community attitude, changed methods of treatment, and so on.
The fifth factor which should be mentioned is. of course, a world wide one, and that is the introduction of new drugs particularly those of the chlorpromazine and phenothiazine group. These have led to a greater reduction in hospital admissions, length of hospital stay and have returned many people to early community participation. However, this earlier return to the community has required an increase in support of services in the community. This is a need which is not even fulfilled in the most rudimentary form. It is also the subject of the amendment in the suggestion for the development of community and integrated mental health services on a regional basis. I have identified these factors on the Australian scene because I think it is on this background that we must examine what has and what has not been done. It was indicated for the first time by a Commonwealth Minister for Health in the second reading speech of the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) that the Commonwealth would, over the 3-year period in which this legislation will apply, take an interest in what the States were doing. He said:
The development by the States of community and integrated mental health services will be kept under observation by the Commonwealth so that, at the end of the 3-year period, the Government will be in a position to consider what future role the Commonwealth should phty in the mental health field.
Does this mean that the Minister is satisfied that services other than these are near to a satisfactory situation? I can assure him that they are not. The Stoller report, from which arose the decision of the Commonwealth Government to initiate a capital grants programme to assist States in constructing mental health institutions, also contained a number of other important recommendations by which the Commonwealth could have played a positive initiating role in the mental health services instead of being purely purveyors of pelf. The honourable member for Oxley outlined in his speech a number of these recommendations which were made in a positive way. Where, if any, has there been a stimulus to the States to provide proper mental health services?
In the period 1955 to 1964 when the legislation specified entitlements for each State the only States which took up their full entitlements were Victoria and Tasmania. New South Wales had taken up most of its entitlement. South Australia had taken up more than 80 per cent. Queensland and Western Australia had taken up about half of their entitlements. Of course, in the present legislation any semblance of targets is absent. This is even more important when one considers the absence of targets and the financial difficulties that such a subsidy places on the States. Even if the Commonwealth suggested targets in certain areas it would be a worthwhile exercise. I know that it has been an article of faith for successive Conservative Ministers of Health to say that mental health services in all their aspects, except financial assistance, are matters for the States. I suppose there is some fear amongst honourable members on the Government side of the kind expressed yesterday in the Victorian Parliament but despite this criticism the Commonwealth in making this expenditure must show some responsibility for the expenditure.
It is not good enough just to supply money without inquiring whether it is adequate and whether it is given in the proper form. No attempt is made by the Commonwealth even to suggest that part of these moneys should be apportioned to give a reasonably balanced overall effect. I will illustrate this point in a simple way by referring to the State of Victoria. The amounts received by Victoria under States grants legislation in recent years for mental health services were as follows: In 1966-67, $1,192,374; in 1967-68, $1,381,403; in 1968-69, $1,200,065. We get some idea of the imbalance when we break these figures down. If we break them down to the amounts spent on residential training centres for the mentally retarded and on other mental health institutions and the amount recovered from the Commonwealth during the 3-year period, a rather interesting picture emerges. With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate in Hansard a table which outlines this breakdown of the expenditure and the recovery.
The source of this table is Victorian Hansard. The table shows that in 1968-69, for example, some $66,170 in Commonwealth grants was expended on centres for the mentally retarded whereas Si, 133,895 was spent on other institutions. The amount spent on centres for the retarded had dropped to one-third of what it was 3 years previously. This is a considerable disproportion. If we examine the waiting list for such centres for the mentally retarded we find that as at December 1969 there were 193 cases On the waiting list classified as most urgent, 308 cases considered urgent, 903 cases pending admission and 215 other cases. In other words there was a total of 1,619 cases on the waiting list, of which 501 were urgent or worse. The waiting list is growing ali the time and each one of those cases on the waiting list represents a disadvantaged family. Surely this situation requires a sorting out of priorities.
I ask the Minister for Health what this payment of Commonwealth grants has meant in each State in each of the last 10 years in supplying, for example, firstly, new residential institutions for the treatment of acute mental cases, and how many beds in them; secondly, new residential institutions for the treatment tff chronic mental cases, and how many beds; and, thirdly, new residential institutions for the treatment of the mentally retarded, and how many beds in those. What was the extent of renovations to existing institutions to preserve their capacity to hold patients? What outpatient and day centres for the mentally ill did these grants provide? How many beds in mental institutions are occupied by what are essentially geriatric cases? The honourable member for Oxley has mentioned this. It is a common occurrence, unfortunately, that because of a lack of geriatric beds many patients go into these institutions for social reasons. The honourable member for Oxley mentioned the work overseas of Dr Kidd Who showed that this is the poorest sort of treatment for such cases. Finally, what sort of waiting lists are in existence for the various categories that I have mentioned? Without this sort of information how can the Government evaluate whether the State grants are worthwhile? How can the Government ensure that the State is able to utilise these grants in a worthwhile manner? I cannot find such information and I do not know whether the Goverment itself knows the answers.
The trouble is that in the past - 15 lc 20 years ago - the conditions in these institutions were so incredibly bad that the Government has become smug about the improvements that have been made. I instance the conditions in the Kew Cottages in 1952:
There were open drains and children caught worms by drinking the water; there was little storage accommodation; the paint was drab and peeling;, the children’s clothing was awful: small boys had unlaced boots, long moleskin trousers turned up at the bottom, adult football jerseys which had been given to the Cottages by a football club, old army jackets above the jerseys and whatever hats they could collect. The children were dirty and had very little washing accommodation. Many played in a shed during the day in a half nude state. There was a battery of lavatories with 8 or 10 adjoining seats, but there was no way of swilling the excreta out of the trough except by walking 30 yards for water. They passed urine into the open drains. The patients ate from tins with their fingers and slept on straw mattresses. The place smelt of stale food, excreta and unsatisfactory drainage.. Many of the patients were dependent and incontinent and had to be helped by other patients because the staff was so short. Some of the sewage emptied on to adjacent fields where cattle were feeding. A number of tin sheds contained the stores.
This was only 18 years ago. Is it any wonder that there is a sense of satisfaction when some improvement is made on these incredible conditions? But, of course, what is needed is a lot of improvement.
While these grants are essentially for capital works, is the Commonwealth concerned to see that these institutions can be adequately staffed? There are shortages of staff of all kinds and there has been a lack of recruits offering for psychriatric nursing courses. Many courses are offered for psychiatric nurses and some do not attract even one recruit. Is the Government interested in seeing that these institutions are staffed? There is persistent and continuing staff unrest because of poor conditions. Consequently there are more and more vacancies in the trained psychiatric establishments of the institutions. The physical and financial conditions are so poor that psychiatrists increasingly are seeking practice elsewhere. These problems cannot be divorced from any system of capital grants for our mental institutions. I believe that the mental hospital system in Victoria is considered to be probably the best in Australia. I only wish that the Minister for Health would visit some of the institutions in that State. Despite staff efforts to make them as clean, bright and cheerful as possible, nothing can hide the immense amount of expenditure that is needed at places like Beechworth, Sunbury, Ararat and elsewhere to bring them up to anything resembling acceptable standards. Let the Minister look, see and wonder on the effectiveness of these grants and on the ability of the States to meet their share of these grants in providing proper facilities. I do not deny the need for such grants to the financially disadvantaged States but the Commonwealth must interest itself in how the amounts are spent and must initiate and promote programmes of mental services.
Only 3 years ago a prominent psychiatrist in Melbourne was able to say that some attempted suicide cases were thrown out of hospital with a handful of drugs and no out-patient appointment. The psychiatrist was Dr Bartholomew and he said that of a group he studied, 52 per cent took drugs home on discharge and had to wait too long for their next out-patien’s’ appointment. In other words, the out-patient facilities were so poor that some out-patient appointments were for as far ahead as 7 weeks after discharge. This information was quoted at a seminar where another psychiatrist mentioned that general hospitals in Victoria would need to provide services for more than 2,500 attempted suicide cases in one year. Each of these attempted suicide cases would require follow-up services in the community for effective treatment to enable them to return quickly to a reasonable role in society. Since that date 3 years ago the State government has had thrust on it - on paper anyway - a new set-up for alcoholic and drug dependent persons. When it will have a much more material structure is anybody’s guess. Is it any wonder that Dr Cunningham Dax fled Victoria to a quieter existence dealing with family medical problems in Tasmania.
I am disappointed to see both Commonwealth and State governments artificially separate mental health services so widely from general health services, but time does not permit me to develop this theme. It is a field for Commonwealth initiative, which has not been taken, to integrate more and more the mental health services with the general health services. There should be a common use of facilities with mental institutions in close proximity to general health institutions. Instead, mental health institutions generally are in isolated areas far removed from general hospital facilities. Finally, while I am pleased that grants are made available for the States I do not believe that they have been used in an enlightened way. They have been used to preserve the old system instead of looking at new approaches in psycho-therapy. No real vision has been shown in using the new psycho-therapeutic methods to bring new concepts to institutions and systems of treatment. Therefore, the significance of the Commonwealth grants has not been as great as it should be in offering new hope, new ideas and greatly enlarged methods of treatment. The grants should be used to combat those things that delay the patient’s return to the community. I refer to the need for the removal of social isolation, the dulling of family and public fears, the improvement of home conditions and day treatment, and the provision of employment for these persons. The lack of Commonwealth initiative must be condemned as much as the States’ lack of vision. The type of amendment that has been moved by the Opposition is warranted.
– I rise to support the amendment. I make it quite clear that, as the amendment states, I do not stand in opposition to the proposition that is before the House. One could not reasonably oppose this Bill when it deals with such an important subject as mental health. I am grateful to be able to join in the debate, but I am disappointed that the debate has not been more wide ranging and that only members of the Opposition have spoken on the matter, although I appreciate that the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) will close the debate. As the 2 previous speakers have said, we are dealing with an area of hygiene and health that affects the whole community.
In my opinion it is an anachronism that society today in the last third of the 20th century should still look upon mental health as people did in the days of the notorious Bedlam.
The Bill provides that the Commonwealth will pay to the States $1 for every $2 spent by the States on mental health institutions. Ostensibly, it does not limit the amount of the subsidy. An answer given to a question in the Victorian Legislative Assembly on Wednesday, 23rd September, reveals that approximately $7m has been provided by the Commonwealth Government to Victoria to supplement the $22m that has been spent by that State on mental health institutions. Whilst the Bill might not set any specific limit on the amount that the Commonwealth will provide, the subsidy system itself is iniquitous. It limits the amount of assistance that the States will get. I think that almost every citizen of Australia has heard the statements of the rebellious Liberal Treasurer of Victoria, Sir Henry Bolte. I might point out that Sir Henry Bolte is a member of the Liberal Party; he is not a liberal Treasurer. He complains about the parlous state of finances in Victoria. Consequently if he cannot raise the finance to do the work that is required, of course he receives Commonwealth subsidy only for the money he has raised.
In June of last year, in company with Senator Poyser, I visited the mental hospital at Sunbury, which is in my electorate. This hospital has a history of almost 100 years. It was built in the first place as a detention place for wayward boys and was designed accordingly. It was built from blue stone blocks from the local quarry. The timber was hewn locally and the slate was quarried locally. All these materials were put together in a building that contained cells with heavy wooden doors and iron bars on the windows. This is where the boys were to be kept away from the society which they would have destroyed or which would have destroyed them.
For a number of years the building performed that function, but it eventually fell into disuse for that purpose. In the 1920s or 1930s it was taken over as a tuberculosis sanatorium. It was modernised and new buildings were constructed. They were very good and comfortable buildings and, even by today’s standards, are probably satisfactory. With the success of the campaign for the prevention and cure of tuberculosis, the establishment was no longer required as a tuberculosis sanatorium. It was taken over gradually for the purpose of treating people who were mentally ill and mentally deficient. The building that was erected 100 years ago to house wayward boys was used, and is still used, to house people who are mentally ill or mentally deficient.
The day that Senator Poyser and I visited this hospital we stepped back approximately 100 years in time. The situation that my colleague, the honourable member for Scullin (Dr Jenkins), described just recently as having existed at Kew 18 years ago existed at Sunbury in 1969. The old buildings do not have cavity walls and it is very difficult to fit them out with electrical wiring. The fire places that used to exist have been sealed up because the people who occupy the building are not able to cope with such dangerous things as fire places. The heating of the building is very limited. The men who occupy it sleep without clothing because they lack control of the organs of their body during the night. In the morning they are taken out and placed on a verandah that has a concrete floor and one or two strip heaters. It also has a sort of partition which offers some protection from the weather. Because of the shortage of staff they have to stand there for up to an hour until a male nurse can take them in, shower them and help them dress for the day.
The timber used in the construction of the roof of the buildings is now in excess of 100 years old. The blue stone, of course, presents no fire hazard, but the floors are timber. When we were there the fire precaution and prevention measures that were available were very limited. In some instances they consisted of only buckets of water. The provision of hydrants and things of that nature was not very evident. The Secretary of the No. 2 Branch of the Hospitals Employees Union in Victoria was very concerned primarily, I suppose, for the safety of bis own members and also because of the deplorable conditions under which they had to work. But being a former qualified nurse in a psychiatric hospital, he was concerned more for the safety of the unfortunate people who inhabited the building. When I spoke to him early in 1969 he showed me photographs that were, tendered as evidence in a coroner’s inquiry into a shocking fire at Kew in which a number of elderly people were burnt to death because of the lack of safety measures in the very old buildings.
One of the most incredible things was that the doors on the building were locked from the outside. The same thing that existed in the building where the tragedy occurred at Kew existed at Sunbury in 1969. The inmates were placed in the dormitory at night time and the doors were locked from the outside. This in itself was a fire hazard. It is perhaps only through the grace of God that there has not been another tragedy of the type that occurred at Kew. The sewerage system at the Sunbury hospital was inadequate. We were shown the primitive and antique toilet facilities that were available. The building was designed with the old type pan. People whose social habits were different from those of other people were endeavouring to use facilities that were not designed to cope with their incapabilities. Nothing had been done to provide special equipment for them. The flushing system generally did not work so the toilets generally were flushed with a garden hose. Some of the toilets had reached such a state that they had been nailed up altogether. When we made inquiries we were told that the reason for this was that the sewerage system just could not cope with any more connections to it. We asked why the system was not renewed and we were told the old story that there was a shortage of funds.
The new sections at the hospital arc being used. The old nurses home is now used as accommodation for children. A sheltered workshop was built in recent times and both these sections are performing a very fine function. But there are still areas that have not shown any improvement and I have been informed by very reliable sources that the situation there has not changed very much since I was there. There was a great furore in Victoria at the time that we visited Sunbury and the allegations that were made were given some credibility because representatives of the mass media were forbidden to go into certain sections of the hospital. I think the concern shown by the secretary of the union is to be commended. Normally, as the secretary of a trade union he ought to be concerned only with the wages and working conditions of his members, but he and the members of his union have shown, great compassion for people who are quite incapable of coping with the problems of the world around them, people who are incapable of putting a case to this Parliament except through people who are elected to sit here. They do not have the capacity to do any of these things for themselves, and by and large they become a very neglected section of the populous.
As I mentioned earlier, even in this enlightened age some sort of stigma still attaches to somebody who is mentally retarded, mentally deficient, intellectually handicapped or mentally ill. In some cases even the families of those who have been afflicted, but certainly society in general, would like to push this problem under the carpet and pretend it is not there. As the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) pointed out, there is a very high incidence of mental illness in the community. I have been told that at this time at least one family in 6 would have a member who would require psychiatric treatment of one sort or another during his lifetime. I know we are starting to enter a very broad field when we speak of psychiatric treatment. But there is a problem facing places, like Sunbury, Beechworth and Kew. There is no doubt that with the changing methods of treatment these places will probably not be required to the same extent in the future as they are required now. Here we must draw a clear distinction between people of this type, that is, those who are mentally ill and geriatrics, who spend their last days in these places because there are few other places to put them. It does seem that there will in the future not be as great a need as at present for the conventional type of mental hospital. There will be a greater need for other facilities that are being developed.
Every psychiatrist to whom I have spoken on this subject believes that the only way a mentally ill person can be treated is not to isolate him from the community but rather to try to integrate him back into it. This can be done only on the regional basis that is mentioned in the amendment. However, the hospitals will probably never become redundant, because whilst we might have a population explosion at this time, when half the population is probably under the age of 25 years, in 60 years time we will probably have half of our population as geriatrics. So there will be a continuing need for the buildings themselves, to whichever use they may be put. I support the amendment because it says that more Commonwealth finance ought to be made available. I know that this is a common cry which has been heard many times since the recent Budget was introduced into the House. However, it is almost hypocritical to stand up and treat all of these things on the basis of how magnanimous the Government is in giving $2 for $1. That surely is not the problem. The lie has already been given, I believe, in this place and outside this place and by recent actions, to the claim that there is no money available.
In one of the first speeches I made in this House I said that this is not a question of the availability of money but a question of priorities. Surely to goodness, after all of the things that have been said on the whole question in this very short debate, this must attain a greater priority than that which it has reached. We must also remember that if the States were relieved of this part of the burden they would have more money to spend on education or something else in the community. So it is a circular argument and holds no water whatsoever. There ought to be a greater application of the resources of the Commonwealth to this area. I would not know just how much capital works would be required for the regional and day hospitals and all the other types of treatment places that are required. It seems to me that it would not be very much, and if that is the case the Commonwealth will spend even less on mental health in the future than it is spending now. Therefore it ought to expand into another area besides providing assistance for capital works. Kew, Beechworth and Sunbury are only 3 of the places I could mention in Victoria where there is an urgent need for large sums of money to be applied to abate the fears of tragedy held by the staff. Apart from anything else there is an absolute crying human need to correct facilities that are below standard and provide facilities where they do not exist. This must be done now, so there is an urgent need at this time for a greater allocation of Commonwealth resources to correct, to some measure, the existing buildings.
There is a great need for the Commonwealth to have second thoughts about whether it will apply its resources only to capital areas or will accept its share of the responsibility - as the conscience of the community in the area of mental health - in areas other than capital works. Inquiries have been held into this subject and it would be very easy, I suppose, to move another amendment that there be another inquiry held and the whole question reinvestigated, but it is not one whit of good holding inquiries, investigating the question, considering evidence and coming down with a considered decision if that decision is to be brought into this place or some other place, debated up hill and down dale and then have no notice taken of it, and it being allowed to lie in a pigeon-hole for 15 years or more. 1 do not believe that this country can continue in this way. It cannot continue this laissezfaire, ad hoc approach to this, that and the other with the Commonwealth boasting of its magnanimity, saying ‘In 6 years we have provided $22m to the States for mental health’, without ever saying a word about what has been achieved with that money - especially when we know that the appalling conditions that existed years ago still exist and will continue to exist until there is an injection of Commonwealth funds into the States to correct the conditions.
The Commonwealth must look to the future and engage itself in a much wider sphere than just the limited one of providing money for capital works. I commend the amendment to the House. It takes nothing away from the Bill at all, but it makes a very important distinction, ft mentions adequate financial assistance and the Bil), of course, does not do this. The Bill does not extend the provisions of the Act. It does not improve them and it does not worsen them. All that the proposal before the House is designed to do is lengthen the time of operation of the grant. I am disappointed in the Government for not taking this excellent opportunity when the Bill is being reviewed to extend its provisions - the Government, of course, is to be commended for what it is doing - and to consider the whole question of mental health. I believe that the amendment should be carried. If it is carried the Commonwealth will be in a much better position that it is now.
– 1 have no doubt that the honourable member for Burke (Mr Keith Johnson) will vote for the amendment moved by the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden). But the objective sought in the amendment would not provide1c towards the deficiencies about which the honourable member for Burke spoke. Throughout most of his speech the honourable member expressed a desire to remedy those deficiencies. The amendment moved by the honourable member for Oxley states: whilst not opposing the provisions of the Bill, this House is of opinion that provision should be made by the Commonwealth for adequate financial assistance to allow the development of community and integrated mental health services on a regional basis’.
As I understand the position, if this amendment were carried it would provide no extra money for upgrading institutions of the type the honourable member has seen in Victoria and other places. The honourable member is right when in a general and philosophical sense he talks about the necessity for government to have priorities, not only priorities as between different categories of government expenditure but also priorities within each category of Government expenditure. This is particularly applicable to the Bill we are discussing and to the amendment moved by the Opposition. The fact is - I believe this to be the main reason why the amendment should be opposed - that the State governments which under the Constitution are responsible for mental health, have not asked for what the Opposition has proposed. Whatever honourable members opposite may say, they cannot get away from that fact. The reason the State governments have not asked for what the Opposition has proposed is that in their wisdom the State governments do not have the same system of priorities as has the Opposition. I know who I would rather take notice of.
All of the Stales have competent mental health authorities in accordance with their responsibilities under the Constitution. All of the States have able, dedicated and knowledgeable people who can assess these matters. They do not need to read articles, as the honourable member for Oxley has done, or pay a fleeting visit to Sweden or some other country to form an impression. The views, attitudes and priorities of the State mental health authorities do not come from that source; they come from actual experience of running the services in a practical way and conducting mental health services on the spot. The fact is that the only people in Australia who are in that position and who have this knowledge and responsibility are the people who in their wisdom do not have the same system of priorities as those suggested in the Opposition’s amendment.
Admittedly, and to be fair, I must say that the State governments have asked the Commonwealth for more in fact than we have given in this field.
– One minute you say that the States do not want it and the next minute you say that they do.
– Let me finish. You have had a good say. The States, at this stage anyway, have not asked the Commonwealth to provide money for the provision of community health services.I shall suggest to the honourable member in a moment why they have not done so. Rather the States have asked that the Commonwealth should provide hospital benefits for mental patients on the grounds that it is undesirable to discriminate - I think this was mentioned by the honourable member for Oxley either on his own account or when he quoted someone else - between the mentally and physically ill. I would like to say something about that in a moment. However, I am making the point that what the States have asked for is integral to their charter on mental health. I have heard much about this subject. I have attended 4 or 5 Health Ministers Conferences and they have brought this point forward every time. In 1970 the State Health Ministers had this to say:
The Suite Ministers for Health reaffirm their insistence that the charter for the mentally ill and intellectually handicapped adopted at the Health Ministers’ Conference of 1967 be the basis for the future of mental health services in Australia.
Basic to this charter is the removal of discrimination between the physically ill and the mentally ill and the physically handicapped and the intellectually handicapped.
I regard the Opposition amendment as another attempt by honourable members opposite, sitting in their ivory tower in Canberra, to tell the States what is good for them, how to run their mental health services, to intrude their judgment gained at second hand or through reading material written by someone else, into matters which are clearly the responsibility of the States. We know that if the Australian Labor Party were to gain office it would intrude into every field, not just the field of mental health but also the field of health services generally. The Labor Party would ruthlessly use the financial power of the Commonwealth to impose its views on what it considered was the most desirable way in which to run health services in Australia. This would not be the way that the authorities in Queensland or in remote Western Australia think that mental health services should be run. The Labor Party would adopt some concept that theorists have about what is good for them.
This is another thing that puts us on our guard and makes us realise that in this field, as in so many others, the Labor Party will ruthlessly use the financial power of the Commonwealth to impose control from Canberra. The honourable member for Scullin (Dr Jenkins) demonstrated this when he said, as if it were just a little thing, that the Commonwealth should be at least setting targets for development in the mental health field. The honourable member said that we who do not have the responsibility, who do not have the control, who do not have to carry on the day to day business of managing the services, should nevertheless sit here in Canberra where our only direct responsibilities are in respect to the little city of Canberra and the Northern Territory, and set targets for the States. We on this side of the house reject that sort of proposition absolutely and completely. The suggestion in the amendment is that something would have been done in a different way if the Commonwealth had provided more money. It is suggested that community health services would have been developed to a greater extent than they are now if the Commonwealth had provided more money.
I believe that this argument does not bear examination.
First of all, I will tell honourable members what the States have actually said, not what honourable gentlemen opposite think they should have said or what they should have done. The States have said that they have significant programmes of work still to be carried out, and the State Health Ministers recommend a continuation of the States Grants (Mental Health Institutions) Act. What that means is that apart from the provision of hospital benefits, this was their main priority. The Health Ministers then went on to say:
The Ministers consider that the future of mental health services involves a much greater emphasis on the development and maintenance of community mental health services and propose to examine and present a comprehensive programme for assistance in this area.
That is fair enough. We have already undertaken that when the States have developed their programme for assistance and put it in the context of what will be done at the end of the 3-year period envisaged in this legislation, we will give very careful consideration to the matter. But the point I am making is that the responsible authorities-
– The State governments.
– Yes, the responsible authorities, the State governments have not yet developed a programme so that they can put a proposition to the Commonwealth. The Opposition, in its wisdom, has moved an amendment which condemns the Commonwealth for not rushing into the field, although the States make it perfectly clear that their priorities lie elsewhere. The people who bear the responsibility and who have the capacity and knowledge to determine the priorities have placed a higher priority on other things. To me this is overriding.
The next point I make is, as I pointed out by way of interjection when the honourable member for Oxley was speaking, that there is no barrier in this legislation to prevent the States from using the money which will be made available under this legislation for the capital requirements of the development of community mental health services. Indeed, I have here a long list of projects in this field in every State in Australia, showing that the States have indicated to us what they will be using the money on during the next 3 years. In other words, the States themselves are using their resources and the assistance provided under this Act to do precisely what is contained in this proposed amendment.
Perhaps 1 should mention some of the projects. They include, I think, one of the projects mentioned by the honourable member for Oxley in his own electorate.I might be wrong, but I think that the Wilson Park hospital is in his electorate. In Victoria there are 35 day centres for mentally retarded children. There is also the Glenhuntley Rehabilitation Centre and the Malvern Clinic. These are all projects for the development of community mental health services. In South Australia there is the community mental health centre at Woodville and the day centre for mentally retarded children at Toorak Gardens. I will not go through the whole list. The point I am making is that in no way is the provision of assistance in this form preventing the development by the States of these - and I agree with the Opposition on this point - most desirable projects in the development of community mental health services.
The last pointI wish to make is to remind the House that the implication in the Opposition’s amendment is that there is some financial barrier. It is implied that if only the Commonwealth recognised the desirability of these things and provided more money, more would be done. But the fact is that this is generally recognised, and it was recognised by us when, as the honourable member for Oxley mentioned, we decided to go flat out to institute a community mental health service in Canberra. We did this not only because, in the light of modern thinking, it was the right development, but also because it is probably the most economical type of development in the mental health field. It is very much cheaper than maintaining mental health patients in institutions. If there were a financial barrier, as implied by the Opposition, what we did in the case of Canberra just would not make sense.
If the development of community mental health services is cheaper than the provision of the traditional mental health services, then obviously there can be no financial barrier to their development. The incentive is there. At the appropriate time and when the States, which are the responsible authorities, are prepared to give the appropriate priority to these things, they will be done. So for all these reasons the Government completely and absolutely rejects this further attempt by the Opposition to ride roughshod over the rights and responsibilities of the States by imposing on them priorities which they themselves do not share. The Government opposes the amendment.
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr Hayden’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker- Mr J. M. Hallett)
Majority . . . . 3
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.
- Mr Chairman, I wish to delay the House but a short time. I wish to put the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) correct on his interpretation of the policy of the Australian Labor Party. He has a proclivity to misunderstand it. People less kind than I would say that he misrepresents it. But I will leave that to those less kind people. What I am worried about is his welfare. I am frightened that he will have a cerebral explosion before long because of the way in which he fulminated on this point. Insofar as our relations with the States would be concerned, he set about putting up a straw man, fulminating against it with fury and futility. He has exercised his energy. His unquestioned passion on this point unfortunately was wasted.
What we have suggested from this side of the Committee in the past is not that we would take over from the States their powers in this field and in other associated fields. Indeed, we can safely leave this to the Government. After all, it was only last night in the Legislative Council of Victoria that a unanimous vote of censure was carried against the Commonwealth Government for autocratically taking over the authority of the States. We leave this to the Government.
All we have said is that there are clear areas of public need in Australia in health, hospital and welfare services. Because the cost of these services is pretty much beyond the resources of the States to respond to adequately, we would be prepared to sit down with the States and to co-operate with them to set about planning the development of adequate services in the community on a balanced sort of basis. Again in conjunction with the States, we would indicate what the goals would be in terms of the services provided and the achievements which we hope to obtain from providing these services. We would hope even to establish criteria for evaluating the success of those services. This takes nothing away from the States.
In respect of hospital services and public health services, our policy has been to state that we would co-operate with the States through a national public hospitals and a public health services commission so that a similar sort of planning could take place. So, once we have established the criteria of need and how we are to set about meeting these needs, a Federal Labor government would accept the responsibility to provide adequate funds for the progressive development of services in the community. Our mental or psychiatric health services would be part and parcel of this plan.
It is utter nonsense for the Minister for Health to suggest, as he did during the course of his tirade, that States have no problem with finances as the present legislation operates. It is quite clear in the case of Queensland alone that, because of financial stringencies at the State level, that State has been unable to take up the capital finance which is available to it. Indeed, one has only to look at the buildings housing many of the mental institutions in that State to realise how true my statement is. We do not accept the CommonwealthStates do nothing syndrome which afflicts the Government. We reject this. We accept that there is a public responsibility at the Federal level to help the States. Accordingly, we would react in this way.
I hope that in this fairly short explanation I have set the Minister’s appreciation of where we stand and what we propose to do in a more clear context.
Finally he was suggesting that the States would resist Commonwealth involvement with them in this field. This, too, is nonsense. I have spoken with representatives of the State public services and with representatives of the State governments. They have clearly indicated that their claims on the Commonwealth are modest because they know that the greatest degree of support they can expect from the Government is a modest support. If a Labor government were in power here - it is quite thrilling to bear this said by Liberals from time to time - which they knew would respond adequately to their needs, their claims would cease to be unnecessarily moderate. They would seek to describe the policies which would be of greatest benefit to the community, according to the needs which are established in that community.
It is no good suggesting that the psychiatric health services in the community are of a satisfactory standard. The State psychiatric health services have difficulty in retaining professional people such as psychiatrists because of their dissatisfaction with the restrictions in the service and with the drought within the service which prevents a fertile development of thought, of policy and of services in the community. There is constantly a movement out of the service by these people. The figures I quoted in my speech on. the second reading indicate, especially for some States, the low proportion in those services of medical officers who are qualified psychiatrists. I hope that the Minister feels more relaxed and better informed now.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment: report adopted.
Bil! (on motion by Dr Forbes) - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from 20 August (vide page 300). on motion by Mr Lynch:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Bill which we are now debating bears the title of the Gold-Mining Industry Assistance Bill 1970. I am afraid that on this occasion it could more appropriately be referred to as the Gold-Mining Industry Death Knell Bill. I say that because it is certain that the Government s failure - or, to put it more correctly, its refusal - to increase the subsidy provided under the Act will mean that the gold mining industry will cease operations at a much earlier date than it would otherwise have done. I am extremely disappointed, very much dismayed and in fact disgusted that the Government has decided to resume the debate on this Bill before the deputation from Western Australia, consisting of the Minister for Mines from that State, the Leader of the Opposition from that State and the President of the Chamber of Mines from Western Australia, has had the opportunity of presenting its case to the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton.) for an increase in the subsidy. 1 find it impossible to understand why the Prime Minister would allow this Bill to be cleared before he hears the views of those people, who are very knowledgeable in the mining field, when the Prime Minister himself set the date for the meeting, which is to be held next week. To my mind, the Prime Minister’s action and that of his Minister in proceeding with this debate at this stage is not only discourteous but is an insult to the Government of Western Australia, to Her Majesty’s Opposition in Western Australia, to the people of Western Australia, and particularly to those people who are associated wilh the gold mining industry over the whole of Australia. The Act expired at the end of June last year. Therefore, a few more days delay in clearing the Bill would have had no adverse effect upon either the industry or the Treasury. “This is a very sad day for the gold mining industry. It is a very sad day, perhaps even a disastrous day, for the people on the gold fields. It is certainly a very sad day for me to find that the Government of this country is not prepared to grant the smalt increase in subsidy required to keep the gold mining industry in operation for just a few more years. lt is very sad to see this great industry, which has meant so much to Australia, and particularly to Western Australia, when times were bad now cast aside with such contemptuous disregard. I say to members of the Australian Country Party in this place that they would do well to recall what the industry meant to so many people in the farming areas during the depression years and to bear in mind what it can mean in the future - in the not loo distant future - if we have regard for the state of the rural industry at the moment. If members of the Country Party wish to ensure the avenues of employment for the people they pretend to represent, they should be joining me in my attempts to have this subsidy increased. But it would seem that all I can hope for now is that the Prime Minister and any of his Ministers who meet the deputation from Western Australia will do so with open minds and be prepared to be convinced that additional assistance is warranted and is necessary. I for one am quite certain that the case that will be presented to them will prove this tobe so.
The cost to the Treasury of increasing the subsidy by $4 per oz, the amount which the industry asked for, would have been negligible with regard to the total Budget, particularly when account is taken of the returns to the Treasury by way of direct and indirect taxation from the people employed in and dependent upon the industry either wholly or partially in one form or another. An increase of $4 per oz would have ensured the continuation of the industry’s activities at its present level of production for at least a further 5 or 6 years, by which time we could expect the nickel industry to be substantially established and in a position to absorb the retrenched labour from the gold mining industry. On the 1969-70 gold return for Australia of approximately 600,000 oz the increase of $4 would mean only an additional $2.4m per annum.
At the moment the average number directly employed in the industry in Western Australia alone is 3,500. If we take $2,500 as an average taxable income for these people, which I suggest could be on the low rather than the high side, we find that purely from within the industry and from income tax alone the Treasury would recover a little more than Sim. On top of that, of course, is the income tax of people indirectly dependent upon the industry and also the quite considerable amounts gathered by the Treasury from indirect taxes such as excise and sales tax. Therefore, much of the cost of the additional subsidy would be recovered by the Treasury. Someone may suggest that the Treasury will still collect those amounts of tax irrespective of whether the gold subsidy is increased or not. But this is not necessarily so, for the very simple reason that if the industry ceases its operation in the near rather than distant future a very substantial number of those indirectly and directly engaged in the industry will neither earn nor spend to the same extent as they otherwise would, mainly because they cannot and will not be absorbed into any local industries. On 14th April this year I asked the Prime Minister a question relating to a further gold subsidy. In his reply he told me I should not expect the gold mines to run at a loss and I should not expect the public to finance the running of the gold mines at a loss. That reply not only discloses his lack of knowledge of the industry but also shows a complete lack of consistency. In the first place, I did not suggest that mines should run at a loss. In fact, it was the opposite which I was endeavouring to achieve. Actually it is the Prime Minister and his Government who expect the mines to keep running at a loss because they have said that the assistance now being provided is sufficient for the gold mining activity to phase out gradually without disruption of the population or the economy of the area. In other words, these mines are expected to carry on substantially for some 5 or 6 years when obviously over the major part of that time they could only run at a loss.
Secondly, in asking the Government to provide mote assistance I was not asking for something that is not already being given to a number of other industries in Australia, industries and companies which do not require any assistance at all and which are running at a considerable profit. If the Prime Minister in his reply to me was trying to create the impression that the only objection to further assistance for gold mining was that it would in effect be a public contribution then, of course, he cannot expect this argument to stand up to examination when we remember hand-outs given to wealthy companies on some pretext or other by way of relief from or rebates of taxation. There are quite a number of companies in that position and very wealthy companies at that. We have not heard any expression of dismay or disapproval from the Prime Minister that the public are being touched to make contributions to those companies.
For instance, grants are made to companies under the heading of Industrial
Research and Development Grants. Some of the companies which participated last year were Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd which benefited to the extent of $180,500, British Motor Corporation $174,500, Australian Iron and Steel $134,000, General Motors Holden’s Pty Ltd $482,000- and so it goes on. More recently we saw a Press statement of the Treasurer (Mr Bury) in which he said that almost $150m had been allowed to various firms over the past 10 years as rebates of payroll tax by way of an export incentive. In the 1969-70 financial year alone an amount of just on $54m was rebated. Those grants and rebates are just as much a contribution by the general public as would be some further assistance to the gold mining industry. As the gold mining industry has received assistance totalling only $28m spread over 16 years we can see by the figures I have just quoted that it is less than the amount granted to other enterprises by way of payroll tax rebates during last year alone. So it is quite idle and contradictory for the Prime Minister to try to create the impression, if that is his idea, that he is concerned about delving into the pockets of the general public.
Many people look at gold simply in relation to its value as currency and overlook the very important fact that it is also in very strong demand for industrial purposes, and that this demand is growing stronger. The amount of gold used for industrial purposes runs into tons. 1 noticed in an article a couple of months ago that total fabrications of gold on a world basis amounted to 1,296 tons up to 1968 compared with an output of 1.280 tons. Those figures were obtained as a result of a very comprehensive survey of the gold markets of the world carried out by Consolidated Goldfields. The survey showed that the bulk of gold fabricated - about 905 tons - is made into jewellery, but other industries such as electronics and dentistry also absorb a very considerable amount - something like 84.5 tons for electronics and 93 tons for dentistry. About 75 tons was made into coins and at least 41 tons was used for miscellaneous purposes. The article also points out that gold used for industrial purposes is very largely absorbed into the advanced countries of the world and that it will naturally follow that as the underdeveloped countries advance the demand for gold in those countries will substantially increase.
Whilst we could - not say definitely that the gold used for industrial purposes was lost, we can fairly confidently say that it is unlikely to come back on to the market. For instance, jewellery is likely to be returned to the market only if its owner falls on bad times and has to sell it to survive. Otherwise it is held and eventually passed down through the generations. Therefore, as populations increase and countries advance and go from old ways to new methods, such as into electronics, the demand for gold for industrial purposes will surely increase, and as production in gold producing countries falls off so will demand exceed supply. This in turn will cause an increase in price on the free market, if not in the official price.
Of course, I am not alone in my belief that the price of gold must rise. Neither am I an economist. So it could be that my ideas may not be completely acceptable to some economists. But let me point out that several economists do hold the same views as I do and it is rather important to remember that most of them are of the opinion that the price will rise in the early 70s. In a speech T made in this House in November 1968 I quoted certain economists and world banking officials who had quite definite ideas on the future gold price and who said quite deliberately that an. increase would shortly occur. They were of the opinion that the increase would take place during the early 1970s. Amongst those I referred to was M.. Pierre Chamorel, a leading Swiss banker and a partner in the Geneva banking concern Lombard Odier et C1E. I also referred to Mr M. Brooke, merchant banker of Guinness Mahon and Company of London, Mr D. Ashinger, an economic advisor to the Swiss banking corporation and a previous adviser to the International Monetary Fund, Mr R. F. Harrod, one of Britain’s leading economists and others. They all forecast a rise in the price of gold in the early 70s. More recently Mr D. O. Lloyd-Jacob of Consolidated Goldfields, following a world survey of gold markets, said:
If we don’t see prices in real terms of around $45 in 1973 and around $50 by 1975 I personally will be very much surprised.
Surely honourable members would not suggest that the people I have just mentioned are not properly qualified or capable of arriving at a well balanced and considered opinion on this matter. Certainly I would think they are very much more qualified and have had more time and greater opportunity to study this question than any member of this Parliament. I would think they have had a greater opportunity and have been better positioned to make a decision in this respect than either the Treasurer or the Prime Minister. So I would at least hope that their views will be treated by this Government with the respect that they deserve.
The point I make is that if their reasoning or forecast of a rise in the gold price during the early 1970s is correct, we can expect the rise to occur no later than 1975, that is, some time during the next 4 years. But if it happens nearer to 1975 than to 1970 we can be faced with a situation - this would be the tragedy of the Government’s failure to increase the subsidy now - in which in Western Australia anyway we will not have one gold mine in operation when the price increases. Each of the gold mines now in production will be closed down simply because of insufficient assistance being provided during the early part of this decade. We will have a gold price increase, but no industry. We will be in the ridiculous situation that, by refusing an increase in subsidy at this time when a price rise could, according to the authorities I have quoted, be just around the corner, we will allow the industry to fall into a state of collapse and to reach that stage or situation which the GoldMining Industry Assistance Act was first framed to avoid. For 16 years the assistance provided under the Act has been just sufficient to prevent a collapse. Now, when a price increase in the near future has become more probable, and in fact has become almost certain, that little bit of extra assistance which is so vitally necessary is denied.
One argument that has been raised over a number of years as a reason why the official price of gold should not be increased is that Russia would be quick to take advantage of any such increase by unloading a substantial quantity of her gold holdings on the world market
Another argument has been that the market would become saturated as the result of gold hoardings of other countries being dumped on the market. I know that this was a worry, but I do not think it need be of the same concern today. It has now become known that Russia has increased the internal price of gold to something like $US68 per oz to eliminate at least part of the subsidies previously paid within the Soviet mining industry. It is also estimated that, whereas previously gold jewellery was in negligible quantities in Russia, it has now reached such large proportions that the total potential demand for gold for jewellery is about 160 tons a year, with a further 30 tons required for other non-monetary purposes. The total of 190 tons is estimated to be very close to the current gold output of the Soviet Union. Therefore, it would seem unlikely that she would be interested in selling gold bullion outside, unless the price was to at least double.
The unloading of hoarded gold is most unlikely to occur because the reason for hoarding is the knowledge that its value will not fall off, and if the price increases it is more likely that hoarders will purchase even more gold, as it is a security against a devaluation of the local currency. That being so, and as it is an opinion expressed after a very comprehensive survey, I suggest that the old bogy of Russian exploitation and market saturation has been largely destroyed. As the Government is prepared to allow the gold mining industry to cease its production in the rather near future, and in the knowledge that once mines are closed down it is next to impossible to reopen them - of course, I am speaking of the larger mines and not of the little prospecting shows - I suggest that it is now pertinent to ask: How long will it be before Australia will be obliged to import gold; how much will it need to import each year and what will be the cost each year?
In reply to a question that I asked the Treasurer earlier this vear on this situation, he told me:
The net industrial consumption of gold in Australia in 1969, including gold sold for fabrication in Australia before subsequent export was 435,482 fine oz.
He then went on to say:
Figures are not available of the amount used in Australia.
Surely that must mean that the amount could be quite substantial and that it could cost a very substantial amount to import. It seems rather strange and irresponsible for a government to fail to find out what its import commitments are likely to be, when that same government’s attitude is to close down the gold mines in Australia.
However, the free market price of gold in London is approximately SUS35 per oz. Therefore, it would appear from the information I am able to gain in relation to our industrial needs that thi amount we will require will cost more - and much more - than what is being provided by way of assistance to the gold mining industry. This cost of imported gold for industrial needs, of course, will increase with any increase in the price of gold. In those circumstances it seems very peculiar, as I have just stated, that the Government is not even interested in finding out what its requirement will be. The Government has not even seen fit to allow the industry to retain the whole of any gold premium, whatever it happens to be - it is small at the moment, but it will certainly improve - without any offsetting reduction of the subsidy. A couple of years ago the Government amended the Act to allow 25 per cent of the premium to be disregarded. On this occasion it is not even prepared to extend that provision.
I also point out that in some informed financial circles it is claimed - it would appear, with some authority - that by the Government keeping the gold subsidy at such a low level over the past 15 years gold production in this country has been Jost to the tune of some $70m; that by limiting the subsidy to $27m over that period of time, the Government has caused a loss of $70m which otherwise could have been recovered. To me, as a practical miner and one who had 17 years experience in mining, it would appear that that could bc quite correct. Keeping the subsidy at such a low level has meant that the gold mining companies have been obliged to mine only their higher grade ore because by doing so they are able to keep their cost of production per fine oz down to the lowest possible level. As a result of this, of course, they have not been able to produce as many ounces of gold as they otherwise would have produced.
The suggestion - it is no more than a suggestion - that the nickel industry will absorb the work force of the gold mines as quickly as need be will not stand up to investigation either. Reading the Ministers speech, one might be led to conclude th:it nickel mines are operating at full blast. But, of course, unfortunately, that is nol the case. There is also the suggestion that business people have no cause for concern for the very same reason. But that is not in accordance with the fact either. If we care to examine what occurs in a mining field, we will find that from the time a company actually decides to start mining in earnest it is some 5 years before any work force of a substantial number is established or required. If we look at the prospects of some of these mine leases - J am talking about the nickel leases which are spoken of as potential producers - we will find that many of them may never get off the ground at all and, if they do, they will not be large employers of labour, except in some instances.
If it is the genuine wish of the Government to ensure, as the Minister said in his speech, that there will be no disruption of the population or the economy of the area - I hope that in speaking of the economy of the area he is speaking of the financial circumstances of the people <n general and not those of the companies alone - the Government should take another look at the Gold-Mining Industry Assistance Act with a view to amending it along the lines for which the industry has asked. We can be quite certain that unless the continuation of the gold mining industry at its present level is ensured for at least 5 years there will be disruption - and serious disruption.
In conclusion I point out - again I ask members of the Country Party to take notice - that the gold mining industry has produced gold worth more than $6,000m. If given a helping hand to enable it to continue over the next 5 years, its future production could well exceed what it has already produced. Also, the population of Australia today would have been, so it is estimated, some 2 million less than it is if the gold rush of the early years had not occurred. Much of the capital that was necessary for the development of Australia as a very young country came from gold and the effects of the discovery and exploitation of gold. Railways that were built to serve the gold fields were the means by which millions of acres of good arable land was developed and settled, lt is only because of the gold mining industry and the activities flowing from it that we now have iron ore fields. Also, it is from the activities within the gold mining industry that we have the nickel industry coming into operation. As 1 said earlier, the gold mining industry was a saviour, at least in Western Australia, during the depression years, it is an industry that has played a very important and valuable part for Australia in the past. It will do so again in the future if given the opportunity. Therefore I once again ask the Government to review its decision as reflected in this Bill with regard to the industry and the people concerned, and arrange for an immediate increase to the industry in the assistance, which is both necessary and warranted. I support the Bill because it does extend the present subsidy for a further 3 years, but I deplore the attitude of the Government in not increasing the subsidy.
– I would like to support my colleague, the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard), in his plea on behalf of the gold mining industry of Australia. As he indicated, this Bill renews for a further 3 years what is known as the gold mining industry assistance scheme. Since it came into operation in 1954 according to the Treasurer (Mr Bury) about $28m has been paid by way of subsidy. This Bill will continue at least until 1973 the assistance currently being given. As my colleague and the Treasurer have stated, representatives of the gold mining industry requested continuation of assistance at increased rates of subsidy.
Whilst the Government carefully considered the proposals, finally it decided to continue the subsidy but not to increase it. The honourable member for Kalgoorlie is primarily concerned for his constituents in this matter. The sixteenth annual statement on the Gold-Mining Industry Assistance Act shows that for the year ended June 1970 subsidy totalling $1,859,000 was paid in Australia, and over 90 per cent of that amount was in respect of gold mines in the Kalgoorlie area. It is clear that the bulk of the gold mining industry remaining in Australia is in that area.
The honourable member for Kalgoorlie indicated that last year production had fallen to about 600,000 ounces. Apparently production had declined considerably even between 1969 and 1970. The figures published in the Fortieth Annual Report of the Bank for International Settlements for the year ended 31st March 1970 show world gold production for 1969. This is the latest complete information available. Australia’s production was 700,000 fine ounces. A table set out by the Bank shows that in 1940 Australia’s gold production had been 1,644,000 fine ounces, so that production has been more than halved in that period of 30 years.
The gold mining industry is of significance to Australia for 2 reasons, the first of which was stated by the honourable member for Kalgoorlie, namely, that it is a supporter of employment, particularly in the Kalgoorlie area. Kalgoorlie would not be what it is had there been no gold mining industry. Some people have indicated the prospects of nickel to be more golden than they have turned out to be, at least if the Tasminex story is significant. I think my friend from Kalgoorlie was probably wise in suggesting that it is better to put your trust in gold than to be too certain about the likely impact of nickel in the Kalgoorlie area, whatever the glittering prospects of Poseidon might be.
The industry’s second contribution is as an earner of foreign exchange. By producing 700,000 fine ounces to be sold at S35 an ounce, the industry either earns or saves Australia between $24m and $25m annually on foreign exchange account. The great problem that faces the gold mining industry is that the price of its product is fixed but the costs of production are rising. The gold mining industry is not the only Australian industry so affected at present. That is basically the situation in the wool industry. Costs of production are rising but the people in the industry do not have much say in determining the price of their product when it is sold on an external market. In the case of gold, we can be fairly certain about its price. It has been fixed at S35 an ounce for over 30 years. It was fixed originally by the United States of America as the principal buyer of gold, and was subsequently written into International Monetary Fund agreements at that figure. Of course, a price of $35 an ounce in 1932 or 1933 was a very much different proposition from $35 an ounce in 1970, bearing in mind the cost of production in that period.
My colleague is a little more optimistic than I about a likely alteration in the price of gold. I turn again to the annual report of the Bank for International Settlements, which covers the period from 1st April 1969 to 31st March 1970. This very sober document describes the situation in this way:
As regards the development of prices in the free gold market, 1969 came in like a lion and went out like a lamb. The year opened with the London fixing price at about $42 an ounce of gold and the upward trend continued until the end of April, when the price stood at $43.6.
The report goes on to refer to fluctuations, and then states:
The free market price subsequently recovered from its $40.6 low in early June to nearly $42 around the middle of July. Then, towards the end of that month, the announcement of the Croup of Ten’s agreement on the creation of SO Rs-
They are special drawing rights - led to a renewed easing of quotations. By early August the price was at $41 an ounce and it stayed close to this level until the middle of October, when it began to fall sharply, reaching a low point of $34.75 around the middle of January 1970.
The report goes on to note the factors that in essence have helped to determine the price of gold.
– it changed again last month.
– The price goes up and down. The report continues:
The pronounced fourth-quarter weakening of the gold market was not a consequence of current South African sales.
According to the figures I have cited, South Africa is responsible for more than three-quarters of the annual production of gold in the world. Of an annual production of 40 million oz, South Africa produces over 30 million oz. The report goes on to say:
On the contrary, the total amount of new gold marketed in the last 3 months of 1969 was less than 60 per cent of what it had been in either the second or third quarter.
This is the significant part:
It was rather that a number of factors - the ratification and prospective activation of the SDR scheme, the parity changes in France and Germany, the improvement in the situation of sterling and the continuing high level of Euro-dollar interest rates - combined to produce a marked reduction in net demand.
I quote that only to show the variety of factors involved and these factors can, of course, operate in an upward or downward direction as far as the price of gold is concerned except that there is still the very large buyer, usually the United States, on the one hand, and the very large seller, South Africa, on the other. South Africa is, I suppose, the preponderant determinant of the market according to whether it chooses to sell gold for monetary purposes or industrial purposes according to whatever suits it best. The likelihood is that the SDR scheme will expand. 7 for one hope it does. To my mind it is a curious circumstance that in 1970 this scheme is very significantly dependent upon the mining of gold; however, that is a curious relationship which still exists. The SDR scheme appears to have begun reasonably successfully in this field and it can be automatically extended. Last year the expansion was about 3 per cent of the existing liquidity totals. If that trend is allowed to continue year by year the scheme will place less reliance on gold as part of the backing for monetary reserves. Other factors such as the parity of other currencies including the mark, the franc, sterling and the dollar all have significance in terms of the future price of gold.
I am not as optimistic as my colleague the honourable member for Kalgoorlie is that the price of gold will rise. That forecast only brings to light the difficulties which face the industry in his electorate. I think that this is a problem about which he is rightly concerned. Surely to goodness an extra $lm, say, would be a very small price to pay to assist the industry. There are some difficulties as to the level at which this additional assistance could be given and they arise out of Australia’s membership of the International Monetary Fund. The degree of assistance that can be given to a local industry is related to the nation’s contractual obligations to the IMF. It is not possible, for instance, to pay a subsidy equal to the price of gold. There are certain barriers or limits within which a country can operate. It seems that this Government holds the view that it is now at the top of those barriers.
I think that the honourable member for Kalgoorlie and I on a previous occasion suggested other methods of costing. Sometimes these sorts of arrangements can be got around. I think that we made a suggestion about sales tax and payroll tax and some other things. One of the conditions of assistance is that the mine applying for assistance must have at least 50 per cent of its total activity in gold mining. Whether that condition is rigid or not I do nol know. 1 join with the honourable member in asking the Government to re-examine this matter. The Opposition is grateful for the continuation of the subsidy but the suggestion that it ought to be increased is worthy of further consideration by the Government. I do not think the Government has given us sufficient information as to why it turned down the pleas which have been made in regard to gold mining. I would have been interested to have seen the submission of the gold mining interests on the one hand and on the other hand the official explanations given by the Government for refusing to grant extra assistance. It may be that the Minister is in a position to supply that information. But surely one should stop and ponder this sort of thing. Even accepting the pleas of the honourable member for Kalgoorlie and the difficulties which face the Government in terms of its arrangement with the IMF perhaps another kind of subsidy altogether could be paid for Kalgoorlie whether it be to the gold mining industry, the municipality or in some other way. To my mind this is the sort of thinking which has to be advanced in future particularly in a State such as Western Australia.
I have had the good fortune, in company with the honourable member for Kalgoorlie, to travel to those areas in the north west of Western Australia where iron ore mining is taking place. There is no doubt that the existing financial arrangements that apply in the 3 levels of government - Commonwealth, State and local - are no longer adequate for the booming State of Western Australia because the additional responsibilities placed on the local governing authorities are really those of national development and not merely local development. I hope that some consideration will be given in the future to this sort of problem. I suppose that nobody would have thought 20 years ago that Port Hedland, Mount Tom Price and Mount Newman - which were only odd names in the geography books to most of us at that time - would have been boom areas and would bring thousands of people into the districts. Development is a good thing in itself, but the local governing arrangements are not adequate to meet the demand in terms of town construction, water supply and so on. I ask the Minister to give these matters his consideration and that in doing so he should not look at Kalgoorlie in the narrow confines of the industry. I am aware of the difficulties which face him, but 1 ask him to look at the matter in the broader national perspective and do something to save this very significant industry in that part of Australia.
– .1 appreciate that the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard) has a special interest in the GoldMining Industry Assistance Bill 1970 which is now before the House. One can well understand his emotional attachment to this industry in view of the 17 years experience he had in the industry as a miner. But I do want to say to the House that the compulsions which caused the honourable member to speak in this debate with a plea on behalf of the industry are divorced from economic realities, if one were to read very carefully the speech of the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) it could reasonably be said that be conceded that a number of the comments of the honourable member for Kalgoorlie are in fact out of touch with the circumstances of the gold mining industry today, however much as a consequence of his own background in the industry the honourable member for Kalgoorlie might feel that to be an unpalatable fact.
I would have hoped that the honourable member would have given more credit to the Government for the assistance which has been provided to the industry since the inception of the Act. Approximately 5528m has been paid to gold producers by way of subsidy since the inception of the Act. The assistance granted has been supplemented by complete exemption from income tax on profits from gold mining. This year, 1970-71, the payments of subsidy are expected to total $3.4m. Surely it can be said that this reflects the concern that the Commonwealth Government has had since the inception of the Act for the gold mining industry. It is a creditable story of Commonwealth support to the industry in Kalgoorlie.
The honourable member for Kalgoorlie mentioned the possibility of a rise in the official price of gold, a point which was also discussed by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports. I believe it is clear that there is little prospect in the foreseeable future of any increase in the official price of gold because, of course, this is a matter that is largely determined by United States policy. In fact, since the conclusion of an arrangement between South Africa and the International Monetary Fund the free market price of gold has fallen, and in recent months the premium over the official price has not exceeded $1 an ounce.
This is an industry in Australia which has been declining for decades. Even if there were to be an increase in the official price of gold, which frankly I do not foresee - but if one accepts that as a conceptual possibility - with the present high cost of operations I doubt whether the industry could exploit any such increase. The present world gold price is $31.25 an ounce.
– Is that Australian?
– Yes. I understand that the 3 Kalgoorlie gold producers all have costs of production which exceed this price. This therefore shows the complete unreality of the submission which the honourable member for Kalgoorlie has put to the House. He also mentioned taxation revenue accruing to the Treasury from gold mining. I hope that 1 have not misinterpreted his point but it should be borne in mind that gold mining profits are completely exempt from taxation as a measure of assistance to the industry, so I do not see that the point he raised has any validity.
– The Labor Government exempted the gold mining industry from taxation when it was in power.
– If the honourable gentleman says that, I accept it, but I want to keep in context the comments that have been made. The Commonwealth decision to assist the industry by continuing subsidy legislation for a further 3 years was announced in June 1970. I stress that this decision was taken after the most careful and comprehensive consideration of a submission from the industry and of advice from Commonwealth officers familiar with employment and the mining situation in the Kalgoorlie area. Treasury officers visited Kalgoorlie, as the honourable gentleman no doubt would be aware, for discussions with representatives of the industry on their submission. As a consequence of these most careful and comprehensive investigations and consultations, legislation for the extension of assistance to the industry was introduced into the House on 20th August.
The honourable gentleman also raised the question of correspondence and consultations that have taken place between the Premier of Western Australia and the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton). It is true that on 22nd September the Prime Minister replied to a letter from the Premier of Western Australia who had requested that the Commonwealth reconsider its decision to continue the subsidy legislation at the existing rates of subsidy. In his reply the Prime Minister indicated that legislation to renew the subsidy was already before the Parliament and that he could hold out little hope that the Government would be prepared to amend it at this stage. In that correspondence the Prime Minister mentioned that the subsidy legislation would expire in less than 3 years and the situation would be reviewed by the Commonwealth before that time. The Treasurer (Mr Bury) previously had informed the Chamber of Mines of Western Australia that he had no objection to its request to make a further submission before the expiry of the 3-year period should any change of circumstances make this necessary.
The honourable member for Kalgoorlie can regret, as he has done, the fact that the legislation has not been suspended pending the deputation which will be received by the Prime Minister on 21st October but the Government has decided, having regard to all the facts available, that this legislation should be pursued and a vote will be taken tonight in advance of the submission which will be put to the Prime Minister on 21st October. Frankly, we believe that all of the circumstances have been carefully researched. The Bill has been in the House for a reasonable period to allow all of the normal representations to be made and, as a consequence of the most careful and comprehensive investigation to which I have referred already, we believe that the Government must press forward with the legislation despite what the honourable member has suggested.
Of course there has been a complaint relating to the fact that the rates of subsidy for both large and small producers have not been increased. The Government sees it in this way: Continuation of the subsidy scheme was necessary to allow the gold mining industry in Kalgoorlie to phase out gradually without disruption to the population and economy of the area. The essential reason for the existing arrangements has been the social one, which we well recognise, of supporting communities in the Kalgoorlie area which have been dependent on gold mining but in present circumstances there is, in our own judgment, no lack of alternative employment opportunities for Kalgoorlie miners. Western Australia is enjoying a boom based on other kinds of mining, and despite strenuous recruiting efforts locally and overseas there is a shortage of gold mining labour in Kalgoorlie. This factor should be borne in mind in assessing the difficulties with which the industry is faced.
Kalgoorlie is booming, as the honourable member would be better aware than I am, and there is an acute shortage of accommodation in the town. Economic activity in the area does not, in the view of the Government, appear to require any stimulus at this stage. As to the foreseeable future, while employment in the Kalgoorlie area on purely gold mining activities will undoubtedly continue to decline, as it has been declining for many years, labour demands in the area should remain strong. The gold mines have unfilled vacancies and there are plentiful opportunities offering in connection with nickel mining and exploration. In the view of the Government these seem likely to absorb any labour which may be displaced from the gold mines, and probably will need even more than this. In these circumstances increases in the maximum rates of subsidy for large producers and increased payments to small producers would not, in the Government’s view, be justified. Because of the hour I would, at this stage, simply commend the Bill to the House.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Lynch) read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 5.55 to 8 p.m.
Bill presented by Mr Bury, and read a first time.
– I. move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
In a statement to the House on 25th September 1969 the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) outlined the Government’s proposals for the preservation of superannuation rights. As the Prime Minister then explained, the benefits provided by most superannuation schemes in Australia are payable on the employee’s retirement, for example, at age 60 or 65 or prior to retirement only in the event of his invalidity or death. Employees leaving in any other circumstances, for example to take up employment elsewhere, usually receive only a refund of their own contributions, often without interest. That is, they do not receive any superannuation benefits from their employer for the years they have spent in his service.
Because the value of an employee’s interest in a superannuation scheme increases with his length of service, superannuation schemes that do not provide for preservation can operate as a very real barrier to the willingness of employees to move from one employer to another. This barrier to mobility has been a feature of most Commonwealth superannuation schemes since their inception. The Government’s intention is to remove that barrier from Commonwealth schemes so that Commonwealth employees who have spent a considerable part of their working lives in one field of endeavour and who could contribute much more to the community and to their own lives in some other area of Commonwealth, State, university or private employment will no longer feel compelled, by the fear of the loss of thenaccumulated superannuation rights, to remain in their employment waiting only for the effluxion of time and the arrival of their date of retirement.
This Bill amends the Superannuation Act 1922-1969 to extend preservation to the two retirement benefits schemes established under that Act - the superannuation fund and the provident account. I intend also to introduce later this day a companion Bill to amend the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act 1948-1970 to extend the preservation arrangements to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund. A Bill to amend the Parliamentry Retiring Allowances Act 1948-68 is in course of preparation and will be introduced as soon as possible. Because the schemes covered by the three Acts are each quite different it follows that there should be differences between the provisions of each Bill. However, in terms of general principle, the approach being adopted is the same. The rules of other Commonwealth schemes will also be amended to provide for the preservation of superannuation rights in general accord with the provisions of this Bill. When these schemes have been amended preservation of superannuation will be available to some 300,000 contributors to Commonwealth superannuation schemes. 1 shall deal first wilh outwards preservation for employees leaving the Superannuation Fund or the Provident Account under the Superannuation Act. Under the provisions of the bill such an employee will be able to move to an area of Commonwealth employment to which the Superannuation Act does not apply without loss of his accumulated superannuation interest or stake in it - including the employer share of that interest or stake - provided the period between employment is not longer than 3 months. In addition, an employee who moves to public employment with the States, including State universities, within 3 months of ceasing his Commonwealth employment, will be able to preserve his superannuation rights. As well, an employee who resigns after completing 20 years service and moves to private employment or self employment, or does not engage in any other employment, will be able to take advantage of the preservation arrangements.
Generally, preservation of superannuation rights under the Superannuation Act will be effected by means of transfer values or deferred benefits. Subject to the conditions 1 have outlined a transfer value will be payable to a Commonwealth or State superannuation scheme to which an employee moves, if that scheme has acceptable preservation arrangements; in other cases a deferred benefit will be available to the employee. To retain his right to this deferred benefit an employee who has not already completed 20 years service will need to remain in public employment until he does, or he attains the age of 60 years, so that he will not gain an advantage over an employee who continues as a contributor to the Superannuation Fund or the Provident Account. A deferred benefit will be payable in accordance with the normal provisions of the Superannuation Act, that is, at any age between 60 and 65 depending on the wish of the former employee. Earlier payment will be made subject to the fulfilment of the prescribed conditions in the event of invalidity before normal retirement or, in the event of the death of the employee, to an eligible widow or chihldren
The preserved benefit, whether in the form of a transfer value or deferred benefit, will be determined by the Superannuation Board after receiving advice from an actuary and will include the appropriate Commonwealth supplement. The Commonwealth supplement will not be confined to service after the date of commencement of the new arrangements but will cover the full period of membership of the superannuation fund. The right to elect for preservation benefits on leaving the two schehmes has not been extended to a person who has attained the age of 60. This is because such a person is already eligible to receive the employer contribution in his pension entitlement if he is a contributor to the
Superannuation Fund, or in the lump sum payment if he is a contributor to the Provident Account. It will of course not be obligatory for an eligible employee to avail himself of the preserved benefit. He will continue to have the right to an immediate cash refund of his own contributions but, as a general rule, it will not be in his interest to take this refund and thereby forgo the right to receive an employer contribution. This, I am sure, will be clear from the following hypothetical examples of the deferred benefits that will be available to contributors to the Superannuation Fund. In providing these examples I should emphasise that each preservation benefit will require an individual assessment and will need to take into account such variable factors as age on entry to the Superannuation Fund, age at exit, whether the person is an age 60 or age 65 contributor, and his unit and contribution history. The examples assume that the person has contributed to his full unit entitlement throughout his membership and is now leaving the Fund.
An age 60 contributor who entered the Fund in 1950 at age 20 contributing to 7 units, who is now receiving a salary of $4,500 a year and contributing to 34 units, would be eligible for a deferred pension commencing at age 60 of $1,326 a year. His contributions to the Fund to date would amount to $1,648. In the case of an age 65 contributor of the same age with similar service and unit history the deferred pension payable from age 65 would be $1,321 a year, and his contributions to date, $1,249. An age 60 contributor who entered the Fund in 1.940 at age 20 contributing to 4 units, who is now receiving a salary of $5,500 a year and contributing to 42 units, would be eligible for a deferred pension commencing at age 60 of $2,21.2 a year. His contributions to the Fund to date would amount to $3,780. In the case of an age 65 contributor of the same age with similar service and unit history the deferred pension payable from age 65 would be $2,105 a year and his contributions to date, $2,698.
Turning now to inwards preservation, on becoming a contributor a person will have the right to choose to pay to the Superannuation Board any preserved superannuation rights received from his previous employment, including private sector employment, and to obtain credit in the Superannuation Fund or the Provident Account for the amount paid. In the Superannuation Fund the credit will be applied in the form of units and the new employee will then contribute only for the balance of his unit entitlement under that scheme. It follows from this that a person, who has available to him a preserved benefit in the form of a transfer value from his former scheme but does not choose to pay it to the Superannuation Fund, or has available to him a pension or a deferred benefit entitlement, will be restricted in the benefits available to him. The reason for this is to avoid his gaining an advantage over a person who brings a preserved right with him into the Fund or one whose whole membership has been with the Fund. In the case of the Provident Account the transfer value will form part of the benefit from that account.
A person who enters the Superannuation Fund less than 20 years before he will reach his selected age for retirement contributes to a lower level of unit entitlement than otherwise. The Bill modifies this limiting provision by allowing a period during which a person was a member of another superannuation scheme that provided preservation benefits to be taken into account, in certain circumstances, in determining years of prospective service.
The Bill provides that the valuation of preservation benefits on entry is ip be in accordance with acturial principles and practice and requires certain matters to be taken into account. In this way the rights of the employee himself, as well as those of continuing contributors to each scheme, will be protected. There will be no change in existing medical standards for entry into the Supperannuation Fund or Provident Account. But if it was necessary for an employee to pass a medical examination to become a contributor to his previous scheme the requirement to pass a further medical examination to eater the Superannuation Fund or the provident account may be waived subject to certain conditions being met regarding preservation benefits, the nature of the previous scheme and its medical standards for entry. This relaxation of the normal requirement will be available only if the period between leaving the employment to which the previous superannuation scheme applied and becoming an employee for the purposes of the Superannuation Act does not exceed 3 months and the termination of the previous employment was not on the grounds of invalidity. Existing transfer arrangements with the schemes of the 6 States will continue on the present ‘knock for knock’ basis.
The Bill includes provisions to facilitate movements between the Commonwealth and universities. A person entering the Superannuation Fund or the Provident Account, who. as an alternative to other courses open to him, wishes to keep alive, and up to date, policies under the scheme known as the Federated Superannuation System for Universities - FSSU - or similar schemes will be able to transfer the policies to the Superannuation Board. He will pay contributions at least at the level at which he would have been required to contribute had his former scheme continued to apply to him and the Commonwealth will pay the premiums on the policies at the levels appropriate to his Commonwealth salary. If. before attaining age 60, he moves to employment to which FSSU or similar type policy arrangements apply, he will be able to take his policies with him as his preservation benefit, if he does not elect to do so and in all other circumstances the benefit will be that available from the Superannuation Fund or Provident Account.
In accordance with the announcement already made the Bill provides for the benefits of preservation to be available to or in respect of persons who have entered or left the superannuation Fund or the Provident Account since 1st January 1970. J should mention that, the opportunity has been taken to remedy defects that have been found in sections 52 and 88 of the principal Act that relate to the rights of an employee who resigns to contest a parliamentary election. When these sections were inserted in (he Act in 1942 it was intended. as stated by the then treasurer, that they should provide cover for such a person in the event of invalidity or death between the times of his resignation and reinstatement in the Commonwealth Service. The replacement provisions in the Bill will achieve this.
The main provisions of the Bill are explained in more detail in the explanatory memorandum that I have arranged to have distributed to honourable members. As the Prime Minister said in his statement last year, the Government believes that the arrangements now being made for preservation of superannuation rights in Commonwealth schemes mark an important step forward in the development of Australia. We believe that there are great advantages for our community from an interchange of employees between the Commonwealth, the States, the universities and industry and this Bill and related measures will do much to ensure that the Commonwealth’s superannuation arrangements will not impede this. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
– Before i move the adjournment of the debate could 1 ask for some assurance from the Treasurer that this Bill will not be debated until at least Tuesday week? 1. would like an assurance that the Bill will not come on next week because a number of. interests need to be consulted. I would like an assurance from the Treasurer that the debate will be adjourned until at least Tuesday week.
– I agree to this. In fact, I think it is most desirable. Many people will not be fully acquainted wilh this Bill, which is a very difficult and complex one, until they can study it. lt is certainly not the desire of the Government or myself to rush this matter without giving honourable members an opportunity to consider the Bill properly.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Bury, and read a first time.
– 1 move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill is a companion measure to the Superannuation Bill 1970 that I have just introduced and amends the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act 1948-1970 lo give effect to the Government’s proposals for the preservation of superannuation rights. Because the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Scheme is different from the superannuation scheme, there are 2 important differences between the provisions of this Bill and the Superannuation Bill that 1 should explain. But, in terms of general principle, the approach adopted in the 2 Bills is the same.
The first important difference is in the way credit is given for a transfer value paid to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund. Under the Superannuation Bill credit for a transfer value paid into the superannuation fund will be granted in the form of units. The DFRB Scheme, however, pays more regard to length of service and, accordingly, the payment of a transfer value to the fund will be recognised by a credit of past service, which will be taken into account when determining the rate of contribution and establishing the period of service for pension purposes. Because, having met the minimum qualifying period of service for pension purposes, the pension of an officer is determined by the age at which he retires, the entitlement and contributions of an officer, who declines to pay into the DFRB Fund a transfer value from a previous scheme or who holds a pension or a deferred benefit, will be appropriately adjusted in the same way as the entitlement and contributions of a member of the superannuation fund, who declines to pay in a transfer value, will be adjusted.
The second important difference is the time at which a deferred benefit will become payable in normal retirement circumstances. Under the Superannuation Act a deferred pension will be available from age 60 when an age retirement pension under that Act first becomes payable. Under the DFRB Scheme other rank members become entitled to pension on completing 20 years service for pension. For officers, pension is normally payable at the appropriate retiring ages, which range from 45 to 60 years, providing at least 15 years service for pension has been completed. Deferred benefits will be payable in accordance with these principles. For example, another rank member, who is entitled to receive a deferred benefit in the form of a pension and has completed 20 years eligible employment, will commence receiving that pension as from the date he would have completed 20 years service for pension had he remained in the defence force. In the case of an officer, his deferred pension will generally become payable when he reaches the retiring age for the rank that he held on leaving the defence force or, if he would not have completed 15 years service for pension at that time had he remained in the defence force, then from the time that he would have completed 15 years service for pension.
A deferred pension will in any event be payable as from the time the former member attains the age of 60 years or earlier on invalidity or death. The contents of the Bill are explained in more detail in the explanatory memorandum that I have arranged to have distributed to honourable members. In common with the Superannuation Bill, the Bill provides for the benefits of preservation to be available to or in respect of persons who have entered or left the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Fund since 1st January 1970. The undertaking I gave to the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) in respect of the Superannuation Bill will apply to this Bill. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
– I am glad of the assurance that the Minister has given because as he knows a special committee of which the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess) and myself are members will have to consider this matter. 1 hope that time will be given. Subject to that 1 am agreeable to the debate being adjourned.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Consideration resumed from I October (vide page 1981).
Department of National Development
Proposed expenditure, $38,457,200.
Upon which Mr Stewart had moved by way of amendment:
That the proposed expenditure be reduced by SIO.
– In the very near future we will be having a Senate election campaign. Undoubtedly one of the major campaign announcements will be that the Government has let a contract for the construction of a nuclear reactor at Jervis Bay. Of course, there will be loud hosannas on the part of the Government that we are entering an atomic age. The Government will soft pedal on the fact that we are being skull dragged into it as a nation by skulduggery, lt is expected, of course, that the people of Australia will be suitably goggle eyed. . We are dealing with a Government of gimmicks. We have already had the gimmick of the Fill aircraft and all that that means. It is traditional with Senate elections to lash out in terms of electoral largess. There was a little matter of $50m for a dam in the 1967 Senate campaign. Already, as a douceur for the various States, there is to be a little matter of $50m which will go out by way of compensation for the unconstitutional position as regards receipts tax. The next one, of course - the real winner and stunner - is to be the glad tidings of great joy with regard to the Jervis Bay nuclear reactor. It can be conveniently overlooked at this stage, the Government hopes, that in the long term the Government’s undoubted choice of reactor could commit it for as much as 15 times the cost of the swing wing bomber by the year 2000. The sky is the limit when it comes to electoral gimmickry.
The project for the construction of this nuclear reactor was hawked around Australia well and truly by the nuclear hawks in the Government, lt was found of course that the smaller States of Australia could not accept any commitment to participate in the construction of a nuclear reactor with a 500 megawatt capacity. That fined down the choice to New South Wales and Victoria, neither of whom wanted it at any price. Then the Government was forced to make a choice as between Jervis Bay, which is in Federal territory, and the Australian Capital Territory. Of course, everything which the Government has touched in the field of technology has the Midas touch of failure.
With the limited time that is allowed to me in this debate, I believe that I should categorise our objections to this Jervis Bay reactor. Firstly, it is of the wrong type. The type chosen will be either the CANDU or the SGHWR- the stand generating heavy water reactor. The CANDU is being abandoned by all the advanced countries. We object to the reactor also on the grounds that the Government, because of its failure to ratify the Treaty on the NonProliferation of Nuclear Weapons, will be committed to the use of either natural uranium or slightly enriched uranium - in either case, Australia’s resources of what in the future will be the world’s most valuable element. We will be prodigal in dissipating what are still relatively limited supplies of it, despite the Nabarlek discoveries.
A further objection, of course, is based on the advice of Professor Oliphant. His advice was that we should wait for the fast breeder reactor which will be perfected in the United Kingdom before the end of the 1970s. This advice by a man who would be supreme in his knowledge of atomic fission would be well followed. He was associated with Rutherford from the earliest days of atomic technology. Of course, a further objection is that the choice of a reactor is limited by our refusal to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. That limits us to a choice from these obsolete or obsolescent reactors. In the case of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and this Government, it is a matter of stupid Australian chauvinism. They are going to show the world that they can do without the advanced atomic technology which is available to any country which is participating fully, by ratification, in the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty.
The electricity that is to be produced will be uneconomical and will need to be subsidised. The thermal power stations in New South Wales, where the reactor is to be located, are well known to be amongst the most efficient and cheapest producers of electricity in the world today. The Government’s real objective is access to nuclear weapons. I need not remind the people of Australia that the former Senator Gorton and the Chairman of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission are both repeatedly on record in their advocacy of these damnable weapons. Weapons grade plutonium is readily accessible by the use of either of the two reactors from which the Government will choose, and of course that plutonium will provide the dirtiest of the dirty bombs with a primitive nuclear technology.
Apart from the question of technology, we object to the reactor on the grounds that site studies began after the issue of tenders - a typical example of this Government’s record of putting the cart before the horse. The Government does not care a rap. It has the numbers and through this Parliament it will thrust its will upon the people of Australia. Preliminary construe- tion at Jervis Bay has been commenced before the acceptance of the winning tender. The winning tender will be accepted before environmental studies in relation to the sea, land and air surrounding the locality will be complete. The environmental studies, such as they are, are sketchy. They are rudimentary and, most obnoxious of all, they are secret. There is - this is a further objection - a Manhattan project syndrome on the part of this Government. The Government is back 20 years in its thinking and its attitude is enshrined in the archaic Atomic Energy Act which goes back to the early 1950s - an entirely different era when the United States and Russia were hugging to themselves the secrets of the construction of atomic weapons and also the secrets of nuclear power generation.
Another feature that is most obnoxious to the Opposition is that the Australian Atomic Energy Commission is the sole buyer, builder, borrower and operator, and the Parliament is being denied access to vital information and the right to ascertain the facts associated with the final choice of a reactor. There is an obsessive secrecy on the part of the Government, and there is downright arrogance on the part of the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission and of the Commission as a whole. There is - this again is a serious indictment - no machinery by which this Parliament or the Australian people can assess by public and expert inquiry the real merits of the Government’s proposal. I propose to refer later to the safeguards, the very closely interlocked safeguards, which are available in the United States for a similar project.
The chosen site is highly vulnerable to submarine attack and to attack by other off-shore craft with suitable rockets or missiles. An atomic reactor at Murray’s Beach, Jervis Bay, is a sitting nuclear bomb ready to be exploded by enemy craft, not to mention the mishaps that can occur even in peaceful power generation. The Nowra air base - I propose to adduce proof of this later, but I make no reflection on the capacity or gallantry of those who are on the staff there - is incapable of protecting the reactor because of the limitations imposed by the number of Skyhawk aircraft that are available for that purpose.
In terms of defence technology, it is a matter of notoriety that in the United
Nations both the United States and the Soviet Union have examined this matter very closely and have suggested a treaty, which has not yet been approved, to control off-shore submarine aggression. This is one of the major fears of all leading nations in the world today.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired. Honourable members seek to query my statement. I point out that the time limit of 10 minutes for each member was approved as from 1 5th October.
- Mr Chairman-
– Is the time not 15 minutes? I feel that I must raise a point of order. I understand that the alterations which were made recently in this place-
– You are wasting the time of the honourable member for Dawson.
– That is all right. I think that we are entitled to speak for 15 minutes. Previous speakers have been allowed 15 minutes. I make that point.
– Order! There is no substance to the point of order. I made my statement to assist the Committee. That time limit is now contained in the Standing Orders.
– It is impossible in 10 minutes to debate fully the estimates for the Department of National Development. One can select only a particular subject and concentrate on that. Most honourable members agree that the time allowed for debating the Estimates leaves a lot to be desired. Tonight I want to direct to the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) a question regarding the operation of the national water resources development programme. In the last policy speech of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) much was made of this programme. Money has been allocated for the next few years, to be spent on achieving a most admirable objective - the development of Australia’s water resources. This year we have seen some money allocated for the Burnett-Kolan project. The Bill passed through both Houses of this Parliament. Water measurement has now been included in the aspirations of the national water resources programme. I assume that the Government is working on this problem and has allocated its priorities. If so, we can expect some action in the future as to further allocations.
I want to raise a problem tonight which is causing great concern in northern Queensland. I want to know what the Government is doing about the Burdekin project. Two years ago the Premier of Queensland made a very solemn promise to the people of the Burdekin area that the Federal Government would commence its reappraisal in a matter of months. That was 2 years ago. In this Parliament the previous Minister for National Development, Mr Fairbairn, gave certain commitments to this Parliament regarding the reappraisal. Everybody’s concept of a reappraisal, and certainly mine - I do know something about this subject - is that a reappraisal, in the usual sense of the word, as carried out previously in respect of beef roads, brigalow, and the Ord and Nogoa projects, is a concerted attack by various Commonwealth instrumentalities, including field work and co-operation with the local authorities in the area.
There has been nothing but silence from this Government as regards the Burdekin. I intend to raise this matter quite consistently in the future at more appropriate times than this occasion today. What I am concerned about is the broader question with respect to the Burdekin, but the principles are the same no matter what area they apply to. I want to know how the Government goes about allocating its priorities. I have written to the Minister for National Development on this matter 1 must say that the letters he has written to me have been sound ones and contain the recognition for a need to have a look at alternatives. Up to the present time the method of determining priorities for water in Australia has usually been to leave the States to determine their No. I priority, which is not based on any economic criteria. A State simply allocates the particular project which it thinks is the most important at that point of time.
The Burdekin has an immense water catchment area. When full, one dam alone on the Burdekin River would impound 16 times as much water as is in Sydney Harbour. These are not my figures. They are the official figures of the Kemp report. A series of ad hoc, unco-ordinated investi gations is being carried out here. A small dam. the Eungella Dam, has already been constructed. Investigations have gone on in the Broken River with respect to the Urannah project. Then there is the major Burdekin Dam project itself. There is the possibility of diverting the waters of the Herbert River into the Burdekin for the purposes of flood mitigation. There is the possibility of the supply of power.
As 1 stressed to the Minister, the important thing is that here is the perfect way. or the best example we have had so far, for evaluation of development projects, in which to use the benefit cost analysis as it should be used, and as it is rarely used in Australia, to measure alternatives of like projects. I think everyone would be satisfied if this evaluation were made on a comprehensive basis, but nol if aci hoc, piecemeal approaches were made, based on some mythical priority a State Government might drag out of the hat and not backed by any economic evaluation. I think, on reflection, that the State governments also would accept these criteria. There are. of course, other influences such as political influences, lt is alleged in the north that the Urannah Dam is highly political. 1 sincerely hope that the Commonwealth Government takes no notice of local politics by attempting to please local politicians. National resources and the taxpayers” money are involved here. The criteria to be adopted must be such that that money will be spent in the most profitable way to benefit the nation.
In summary, I am really saying that I hope that when the Government does carry out an evaluation or reappraisal of the Burdekin scheme it takes into account the whole of the catchment area, including all the various projects and alternatives, and then comes up with what it believes in terms of priorities is the best project, based on economics and other criteria, on which to spend the money. This means the measurement not only of the Burdekin area but the other propositions in Queensland, which is the correct way in which the benefit cost analysis should be used. There have been some mischievous attempts by responsible authorities in Queensland to rubbish the Burdekin project. One of the favourite ones is to take the cost of the dam, the cost of reticulation, the cost of farm development and every conceivable cost, total the lot and say that this is the cost of the project. That will be a pretty solid figure in anybody’s language, but it is completely unfair. No-one has ever expected a major project such as the Snowy Mountains scheme or the Burdekin scheme, which is comparable, to be built in a matter of 12 months or 5 years. It is a stage development.
If one looks at the best estimates for acre feet, the cost per acre feet of the safe draw or the water impounded, taking into account allowances for siltation one finds that the cost of construction of the Burdekin Dam at the site which was selected up from the Burdekin Falls makes it one of the cheapest dams in Australia. Those who have seen this site agree that it is an excellent one.
I wanted to talk more about some of the projects of national development that the Commonwealth has agreed to but which we have heard very little about. I think that this Parliament is entitled to a few reports occasionally on the behaviour of the brigalow. Commonwealth money is involved in this project, in the Ord River project and on beef roads. I intended to speak about beef roads tonight. I think it is time the Government made a reappraisal of the beef roads project. It is not a question of waiting until the last year, lt is a question of making a decision so that continuous work can be carried on in this field. Similarly with other projects in which in post war years, and particularly in the last 5 years, the Commonwealth has become interested, in terms of money, I believe, that this Parliament is entitled to know how efficiently that money is being used so that we can debate the question from time to time in this House. The brigalow scheme, for example, is an excellent project. Everybody knows that you will learn from experience-
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I desire to support the amendment moved by the Opposition on this occasion. For the benefit of the House I shall read it out. It states:
That the proposed expenditure be reduced by SIO as an instruction to the Government that a select committee of this House should be appointed to inquire into and report on the uses of nuclear power in relation to-
the projected power needs of the Commonwealth;
the comparative advantage derived from generating power in this way as against all other sources now being employed;
the effects of the establishment of a nuclear power station upon the environment;
administrative procedures and regulations adopted elsewhere to lessen any undesirable effects of the operation of such a station to ensure the utmost protection of members of the public and the national interest; and
the desirability of establishing a nuclear power station at this time pending the outcome of further technological developments taking place elsewhere.
There is a very good reason why such an amendment has been moved by the Opposition. It has been moved because of the fact that although the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz), who incidentally is still in the Committee, has indicated from time to time by way of answers to questions that there are some tons of documents which ought to be sifted and looked at, this Parliament has been denied the opportunity to look at any one, any portion or any sector of those documents whatsoever. In addition to this, questions that have been asked of the Minister in this Parliament have not been answered to the benefit of honourable members who have put those questions to the Minister. Rather has the Minister left the answering of questions until some date when he can inform a State government on some of the matters in some way or form by which an answer of a restrictive nature appears in the Press media.
In addition, one of the questions that I posed to the Minister in this place some time ago was as to whether or not his Department or in fact the Government had concerned themselves in any way in the matter of what ought to be done in the national interest insofar as constitutional reform was concerned in the setting up of a nuclear power station. In 1959, such a committee met at some considerable cost to the Commonwealth. I must confess that at this point in time that meeting could be represented only as wasted expenditure. The committee laid down certain recommendations. The committee said:
Accordingly, the committee has recommended that the Commonwealth Parliament should be empowered by constitutional amendments to make laws with respect to:
The manufacture of nuclear fuels and the generation of nuclear energy; and
The fact is that the Minister according to the manner in which he answered my question on the day when I raised the question was not even aware of this document. lt appears to me that during the time when questions on this matter were asked of the Minister, he showed considerable favouritism towards Government members inasmuch as some days, almost weeks, after those questions were posed, the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) placed a question on the notice paper and received an answer in an extremely short time.
However, in the limited time at my disposal, [ wish to deal with some of the facts in relation to what happens in other countries relative to the matter of whether or not the public should be informed properly on what is happening regarding these plants. Ideally in a democracy information concerning the activities of Government and policy decisions should be open to all so that the people can know the changing nature of their rights and privileges as decided by their elected representatives, so that an informed and adequate public debate can take place on policy issues and so that checks and balances are available on the activities of governments. In a totalitarian system this of course is not the case. Decisions are made in secrecy by a small unrepresentative elite and freedom is curtailed or destroyed. This Government then is adopting the role of a totalitarian State in regard to what it has told the public on this issue.
Only in the case of national security, important cases of the national interest, or where freedom of an individual’s privacy are involved, should actions be taken in secrecy in a democratic society.
As the Speaker of the House said at the International Parliamentary Union Symposium on Parliament and the Mass Media: In a democracy, governments should have no fear of the truth’. It is true that information has been revealed concerning nuclear power in Australia. So far however the Minister has not made a comprehensive statement or published a White Paper outlining in detail the plans and policies for Australia. Much of the early information was revealed in ‘leaks’ to the Press. For instance, Leonard Bickel wrote an article on ‘Future without Atoms’ in the ‘Australian’ of 19th April 1968. More recently Sir Phillip Baxter and others in public speeches have revealed some aspects of Australia’s nuclear development. In addition the Minister for National Development in brief Press statements and speeches has revealed other aspects.
Unfortunately the most detailed material to come forward has been in the form of technical papers which are both difficult for the layman to understand and difficult to obtain. Such papers of their nature cannot form the basis of public debate. An example here is the paper by K. F. Adler, Commissioner and Director of Research Establishment of the United States Atomic Energy Commission and W. J. Wright of the Nuclear Development Division of the United States AEC, which was presented to the Annual Conference of the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy earlier this year. It was entitled ‘The requirements for manufacture of nuclear fuel in Australia’. It is instructive to compare the availability of information for public debate in other countries. In the United States for instance the Congressional Joint Committee on Atomic Energy has overview of all aspects of nuclear power. A few examples of ils Hearings are: ‘Prelicensing Antitrust Review of Nuclear Power Plants’- 696 pages 1969 and 1970; Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program’ - 312 pages 1970; and ‘Environmental Effects of Producing Electric Power’, two volumes the first containing 1108 pages in 1969. With any major policy problem in the United States there will be comprehensive detailed reports from at least one government agency, a study by a ‘think tank’ organisation such as the Rand Corporation, as well as reports from advisory committees, Presidential Commissions and task forces. The relative merits and demerits can be argued in the media, in academic circles and in the forum of Congressional committees which enable the full talent of the nation to be publicly applied to the problems at band.
The system regarding licencing of nuclear reactors in the United States is particularly interesting. It goes through a number of stages including: (1) A public evaluation study by the United States AEC known as the Safety Report; (2) a report from the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards - again in public; (3) public hearings before the grant of a construction permit: and (4) the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy of the Congress is available for an overall review. Also in the United States there is a Freedom of Information Act. This Act specifies that all information held in Government files will be open to public inspection with the exception of information relating to national security or the privacy of the individual.
In Canada the scope for public debate is almost as wide. The Parliament has a comprehensive and wide ranging system of standing committees able to investigate all aspects of government. Numerous advisory bodies exist which publish regular reports on the advice they give. In addition the Government has used the mechanism of the royal commission to air major policy problems. Examples are the numerous reports of the Science Council of Canada. In addition, the Government does not always announce policy but attempts to allow for participation in policy making. For instance, the Senate Standing Committee on Banking and Commerce has recently been investigating a white paper entitled ‘Proposals for Tax Reform’. Over the last 2 years the Canadian Senate Science Policy Committee as part of its terms of reference has looked into the question of nuclear power.
In Great Britain the Government periodically publishes white papers outlining the background and logic of its policy proposals. For instance in 1967 it published a paper on Fuel Policy. Periodically, and prior to the start of its nuclear power programme, the British Government published white papers setting out its programme, the first being in 1955 - Command paper No. 9389. A recent innovation is the institution of ‘Green Papers’ which set out tentative policy lines by the Government inviting criticism and comment before the policy is firmed. When British power stations are proposed there is an option for public hearings prior to construction. In 1967 the House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology published a report on the nuclear power industry. The German Bundestag has an Atomic Energy Committee. The Japanese Diet has a Special Committee on Development of
Science and Technology. This committee has a sub-committee on nuclear power policy and another on exploitation of power reactors. The Netherlands Parliament has a Committee for Atomic Energy. Most parliaments have a comprehensive standing committee system within which one committee will have the authority to examine nuclear power legislation, or policy problems or administration. But not Australia! A person can pick up even some items concerning uranium enrichment in South Africa in a recent magazine. But one gets little information in one’s own-country.
I turn now to policy formulation. The United States AEC is in the position where it initiates proposals, gives advice on their acceptance, runs a nuclear power programme, sets radiation standards, monitors its own operations-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Luchetti) - Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– MiDeputy Chairman, I rise tonight to speak in this debate on the estimates of the Department of National Development to support the amendment moved by the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart) and also to ask the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) to consider a specific request to provide matching grants for a series of self-help irrigation industry groups that are today scattered across Australia. These self-help irrigation industry groups are a unique example of grass roots action and grass roots decision making in our country. We have a centralisation of power in Australia which is quite remarkable. In fact, it is quite unique across the world. Decision making tends to be performed either in Canberra, the Federal capital, or in the State capital of whichever State may be concerned in the matter to be decided. Some 20 years ago in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area there was a great experiment launched with the establishment of a body titled the Irrigation Research and Extension Committee. This body was unique. Among other things it brought together the Federal and State governments, industry and grower organisations at a regional level. This was the organisation which was used to launch an experiment in regional agricultural administration. It was a 7 year experiment which proved to be such a success that the entire State of New South Wales today is divided into these regions based on the experience of the Irrigation Research and Extension Committee.
The Commonwealth has a $1009 national resources development programme. My request tonight, directly and personally, to the Minister is to consider direct aid and encouragement to irrigation research and extension bodies. Let me mention some of them apart from the Irrigation Research and Extension Committee which was the original body, the mother body if you like, and one on which I had the privilege of serving as Secretary and Executive Officer for something like 10 years. Since the establishment of that Committee we have had a brood of offspring of these grass roots organisations. The second one established was the Yass Valley organisation which operates not many miles from here. Then there was the Murray Valley Irrigation Research and Extension Committee and, more latterly, the Victorian Irrigation Research Promotion Organisation. These organisations brought together all the knowhow and financial contributions of the appropriate Federal agencies, State agencies, processing industries and the farmer organisations in the region. They have been able over the years to arrange a series of trials and experiments which have transformed in many instances extension services to agriculture. I referred earlier to the 7 year trial period of decentralised agricultural administration which has now been adopted as a pattern for the whole of New South Wales.
The Irrigation Research and Extension Committee also appointed the very first agricultural machinery officer in the Commonwealth. lt was a trial and when the trial proved itself these officers were incorporated in other areas of New South Wales. I might say that the Irrigation Research and Extension Committee of the Mumimbidgee Irrigation Area has pioneered in many other directions. Another instance which comes to mind was the appointment, as a trial, of the very first bilingual liaison officer. He was appointed because half the farmers in a given location happened to have arrived from Italy. There was a language difficulty, not in saying ‘good morning’, ‘good night’, or ‘how are you’, but in understanding technical information. This regional body said:
Let us appoint an officer who is technically qualified, bilingual and a specialist in agriculture in the old world and the new’. We did this and it has now been proved to be sound practice and has been adopted by the State authorities concerned.
Generally speaking these agencies fulfil this form of activity. They fill a gap. Perhaps the Commonwealth Government or the State Government is not convinced that something is worthwhile either in the research or extension sphere. While the Commonwealth or State governments are considering and deliberating upon whether they will undertake this form of service in agriculture these organisations act as the centre for experimentation. They have trials. They raise money from the Federal and State governments, from industry and from the farmers. They all get together and try out new items. If it is demonstrably the correct and good thing to do the appropriate government agency is asked to undertake or take over that particular responsibility which has been developed in the region. I suggest to the Minister that it is his job and responsibility to see to it that the $100m that has been allocated by this Parliament for irrigation development is properly and soundly used and applied. I am suggesting to the Minister tonight that these regional bodies, the regional partnerships of Federal and Stale agencies, farmers and industry have provided a means whereby the best possible techniques can be applied to the use of irrigation water.
Irrigation, of course, has been under attack. We have critics who have supporters in this Parliament. We have critics of irrigation development who have very lively apostles in this Parliament. Sometimes 1 wonder who gave birth to them, the representatives here or the apostles of antiirrigation outside the Parliament. But there is an important lesson to be learned from the opposition. Most of it is founded on an imprecise understanding of the facts of the development concerned. Again it is important to use these regional bodies to disseminate information and improved knowhow to the irrigation industries themselves. It is not suggested that the irrigation industries have reached the ultimate in production or the ultimate in efficiency but certainly they are the most efficient sector in Australian agriculture. Irrigated areas provide one-quarter of all the agricultural production of the nation. So this is no mean sector of primary industry. It is important that these regional bodies be looked to, firstly, to disseminate information generally and, secondly, to give the technical support to irrigation industries which will make those industries even more efficient. As I have said, this has been demonstrated by the Irrigation Research and Extension Committee in the Mumimbidgee Valley. The principle has also been demonstrated in the Yass Valley. I know the Yass Valley has been concerned with dry farming mostly and it has been the great area of superfine wools. The problems there are mostly economic rather than technical but there is a need to support them and to support the work that has been done.
I would like the Minister to examine the idea that wherever the Commonwealth applies funds for irrigation development it should at the same time ensure that there is an adequate information centre for the dissemination of information as to the cost and benefits of the particular scheme. In other words, it is important to ensure that everybody is completely informed of the basis of the decisions which led to the project, how it has been implemented, how it is being carried out and what the ultimate benefit to the whole of the nation will be. not just to the rural sector. The precedent for assistance to these regional bodies has already been created. Federal Government agencies are already participating. For example, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the Bureau of Census and Statistics, and the Bureau of Agricultural Economics are already participating. I am suggesting that the Minister examine ways and means of utilising these extremely useful regional bodies to promote sound development. I ask that he also consider making grants to them so that they can work better and more effectively at the grass roots level of agriculture and irrigation development in our nation.
– The honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) raised a question relating to regional studies in irrigation, water supply and agriculture. He quite correctly said that a number of these studies have been undertaken throughout Australia over recent years. He listed a number of authorities which had been associated with these studies. I might add to them, of course, the Northern Division of my Department which is at present engaged in similar studies in the northern part of Australia in conjunction with State authorities and other Commonwealth departments. I will certainly examine the points that he has raised to see whether this system can be extended. I am not quite sure about the exact field he mentioned but I will look at the situation to see whether the system can be extended because I realise the importance of these regional studies to the future of agriculture.
The honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) referred to the National Water Resources Development Fund and queried the programme, indicating that he was aware that certain works had already been approved under the programme, and asked about the position regarding future works. We have already received the first list from all States of the projects that they recommend on a priority basis and also, as the honourable member suggested, on a priority basis with alternatives. We have a standard procedure for examining these proposals on a cost benefit analysis as they come in. As 1 indicated earlier when one project was being approved by legislation, we will submit to the Parliament as much as possible in the way of information associated with the cost benefit analysis.
He referred also to the question of reports on beef roads, brigalow proposals and other matters of that nature which come within the functions of the Department of National Development. It is right, and I agree with him, that matters of this nature should be analysed by the Parliament from time to time. This can be done during consideration of the estimates of the Department, during the Budget debate or by other forms of the House which are available. Up to the present a report by my Department has not been submitted to the Parliament for a number of reasons. Because of the construction of the Department this has not been done in the past, but I have been examining the matter and it is my intention in future, commencing next year, to see that a report is submitted to the
Parliament in the same way as reports are presented from a number of departments. This will provide much information on a running report basis and will allow an analysis to be made at the time of the Estimates debate or during some other debate.
The honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) in rather an unkind way referred to the Government’s intention to establish the first nuclear power plant at Jervis Bay. He mentioned the cost of the reactor associated with the plant as being 15 times the cost of a particular type of aircraft.
– I did not say that at all. I said that the whole project to the year 2000 would cost that.
– I stand corrected. But, of course, there is no project to the year 2000. So far only one project is being considered. I do not doubt, and I accept what the honourable member has in mind, that there will be other projects and I am pleased to see that he is sufficiently progressive to understand that there will be further developments in the nuclear field. He said also that it is the wrong time to go ahead with this particular programme. Of course, we have said that it is the right time and the statement T made in the House indicated the various reasons why. He indicated also that the Government had refused to sign the non-proliferation treaty.
– To ratify it.
– The honourable member used the word signed. We have signed the treaty but we have indicated that we have certain qualifications regarding ratification, as have most other countries. When our particualr reservations are met there is no doubt that it will come back for consideration for ratification. The honourable member stated in relation to the development of the fast breeder type of reactor in the United Kingdom that it would become available commercially in the late 1970s. I do not know where he obtained this information but the best technical information that we have is that the fast breeder type of reactor will not become available commercially in the United Kingdom or elsewhere until the 1990s so, of course, that must affect the approach to this question. It was interesting to note that most of the honourable member’s speech was devoted to objections to this nuclear development, yet at the outset the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart), although he did oppose certain aspects of the proposal which we have under consideration, indicated that the Opposition agreed with this programme of nuclear development in Australia. Again, there is a division within the Opposition.
In his speech the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) referred to matters which concerned his State of Tasmania. I must compliment him. I do not do it grudgingly but wholeheartedly because I know of the work he has done in connection with the development of the wood chip industry in the northern part of Tasmania. Recently we indicated that there is a new development in this field that will be of great importance to Tasmania and all other States interested in this industry. It is pleasing to know that while I have been in touch with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition over many months discussing matters of confidence he has observed the discussions as confidential and this has been of assistance in enabling us to achieve the successful conclusion of the first major contract notwithstanding problems that arose some months ago.
The honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) referred to the question of long term planning for the River Murray basin. I can assure him on behalf of the River Murray Commission that a lot of planning has been done already in this field and has been announced in the House. Long term planning concerns the States of New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia as well as the Commonwealth, and they know full well the programme for future development and utilisation of the waters of the Murray. As I indicated yesterday there is a matter in relation to this which has to be discussed next week and we hope that we can have the situation regarding the Dartmouth Dam concluded as quickly as possible because the State that will gain most from it is South Australia.
In adverting to the commencement of the debate on the estimates of my Department a week or so ago, I must refer to the old saying about the dead hand of Labor. We have seen, by the amendment moved by the honourable member for Lang, another example of this resistance to progress. 1 was surprised at the honourable member’s approach because I know he has a deep interest in this particular subject and his proposal to refer this matter at this stage to a select committee of the Parliament for consideration could have been done with only one thought in mind, namely, to defer the matter, knowing the time it takes for these matters to be considered, for another 2 to 3 years. The Government rejects the proposal. I am sure that the majority of people in Australia are proud of the vigorous and rapid growth that has been fostered by the policies of this Government over recent years. By comparison the policy of the Opposition appears to be one of stagnation and its action in relation to these estimates, when we are moving for the first time into the field of nuclear power, indicates again its particular approach. The whole of the Opposition approach to nuclear power seems to be on the basis that it is something entirely new in the world. lt is interesting to note the real situation. If we look at the position we find that to the end of 1969, outside of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics respecting which we have no complete records, there were 91 reactors with an overall installed capacity of 13,833 megawatts of electric power. During 1970 there are committed 15 new reactors in the United States of America, 1 in Taiwan and 1 in Italy, making a total of 17. In addition, before the end of 1970 it is expected that there wm be announced another 4 reactors in Germany and another 4 in the United Kingdom. I have mentioned previously that there are other projects in Japan. Consideration is being given to the installation of reactors in Switzerland, Spain and France at the same time.
– On a point of order. In discussing the estimates for the Department we were told that it has no record of what is in the USSR. The Minister’s own Department issued a report today in which it was stated-
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– It is estimated that by 1975 there will be 283 reactors developing 128,000 megawatts in 21 countries. I think that is sufficient answer to indicate that this is an industry that is well established throughout the world. One of the main reasons why Australia is coming into this field a little later than some of the other developed countries is that we have had a sufficient supply of fossil fuels available for the generation of electric power.
The honourable member for Lang did pose a number of questions relating to the amendment which he moved and he said, in explaining one reason why he wished to delay the project, that an examination should be made of the projected power demands in Australia. The answer is that these have been examined continuously by competent authorities in each State and are well known and the figures in relation to it have already been published as projections for the future. He said also that a study should be made of the effects of nuclear power on the environment. lt has been stated in the House many times that there will be no harmful effects on the environment arising out of the building of the reactor at Jervis Bay. Discharges of radio-active material from the reactor will be rigidly policed and will be kept at a level less than one-tenth of that acceptable to world authorities. The world authority to which we subscribe is the International Committee for Radiological Protection. The coolant water from the condensers is likely to be discharged into the ocean and the thermal effects in this particular region will be negligible.
The honourable member for Lang also queried the outcome of the work that is being done elsewhere but he did not explain exactly the work to which he was referring. Was it in reference to fast breeder reactors?
– The position is, as I mentioned before, that fast breeder reactors will not be available commercially until about the 1990s or from that time on, and the reactor types from which a selection will be made for the Jervis Bay station are those which are being installed at the present in all the leading industrial countries in the world. This, of course, is in keeping with our approach to this matter, that we have the latest possible information and the latest type of reactors to consider for installation in the Jervis Bay plant. The honourable member for Lang also queried whether a number of other sites had been examined before the decision had been made in relation to Jervis Bay, I did give him the answer in relation to this indicating that a number of sites in New South Wales and in Commonwealth Territory had been considered.
– After 3 months.
– Well, the answer was provided and the information is now in the hands of the honourable member. I have promised to leave a few minutes of the time allowed for this debate to enable the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) to speak. I conclude my remarks by saying that despite the frustrating efforts of the Opposition to retard development in this new field this Government is determined to see that Australia will maintain a high rate of growth in all fields of national development. We have been fortunate in the various aspects of development that wc have seen over recent years and the policies and philosophies that have been adopted in the past will be continued in the future.
– What about the Burdekin?
– The honourable member for Dawson did ask a question in relation to an examination of the Burdekin scheme. I mentioned some time ago that some work had been undertaken by the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority at that time in conjunction with the Queensland Government as far as the Broken River area was concerned as part of the Burdekin scheme. At present further discussions are continuing on the initiative of the responsible department in Queensland. As soon as there is anything to report in relation to any further activity I will advise the honourable member.
The last point I want to mention is the query which has been raised by several honourable members during this debate in relation to informing the public on nuclear developments. We heard several times during this debate a query as to the public relations programme on this new development. We have been in the field of nuclear research but this is the first move towards the production of electricity by the use of a nuclear reactor. An enormous public relations campaign has been undertaken and it will be expanded during the next few months and continued in the future. Typical of the activities was a public meeting called at Nowra on 19th August where a full and free discussion was held between the various local authority bodies, other representative bodies and the Atomic Energy Commission. Commissioners and members of the Commission give frequent talks and lectures to professional bodies, university groups, Rotary clubs and other service clubs and other similar public bodies. During last month alone 11 of these talks were given and scheduled for this month alone are about another half a dozen. The Commission has also set up a display caravan to try to convey information to the public. The caravan has toured a number of areas already and will continue to do so in the future. A large exhibition was held in the Sydney Town Hall in June and in Canberra in September 1969. Also, nearly 20 Press statements have been made. The Commission makes statements almost daily in relation to this matter. Special booklets have been prepared and a large number of questions have been put on the notice paper in both Houses of Parliament, many of which have been answered. As I have said, this public relations campaign will be continued and expanded in the future. A full statement in relation to the successful tenderer will be made, I hope, within a matter of the next month or so. The information will be made public as quickly as possible and an opportunity will be given to this House for honourable members to debate the matter.
– In answer to the Minister who challenged my statement about when a fast breeder reactor would be available I want to quote from the text of a ‘Four Corners’ interview on 4th September this year when Professor Sir Marcus Oliphant said - and I would accept his say-so against that of any authority who may be available to the Minister:
I believe that it would be better to wait til the first neutron breeder reactor came into ils own. The British, for instance, are saying that by the end of the 1970s they will be installing only fast breeder reactors and so they are right on the door step. It seems just a pity to hasten into it to build what could be an obsolete piece of equipment.
That is a complete answer to the Minister. On the question of public information it is very interesting to consider the treatment in the United States of America of any application to build an atomic reactor. The procedure in that country is very complex. The first step is to apply to the United States Atomic Energy Commission. It is divided into 2 parts. There is a special division quite distinct from the Commission itself and it is called the Division of Reactor Licensing which was severed by an Act of Parliament in the early 1950s. Then the Director-General of Regulation submits a safety report to the Commission itself. The application is also submitted to the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards, known as ACRS, which has 15 independent members. Its report is a part of the public record. The proceedings are informal. It has no voting power. Following that there is a public hearing. That is what we want. We want a public hearing before the granting of the construction permit. This was provided for 16 years ago by United States Congress legislation. That public hearing is conducted by a safety licensing board which is selected from a pool of 25 qualified technologists and administrators. The hearing is held whether there is any contest or objection to it or not. The board’s decision is the decision of the United States Atomic Energy Commission unless it is reviewed. The Atomic Energy Commission may review it on the appeal of any party or on its own motion. In addition to that there is a further safeguard. The decision of the safety licensing board can be taken on appeal to the American High Court also. Finally, after all this has been done, to ensure that justice is administered fully, there is the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy of the United States Congress.
Let the Minister tell the Committee what he proposes to do by way of providing public information. All that he gave us was guff. It was nothing more than propaganda. We want the facts. We are entitled to them. This is the Parliament of the nation and we want the facts. I speak for a quarter of a million people who are menaced by this reactor. We want a proper inquiry into conditions of public safety. We do not want to be fobbed off by ministerial guff. We do not want to be fobbed off by the propaganda that is put forward by the Minister. It might be the voice of the Government, but the hand is the hand of the Atomic Energy
Commission, which is the dictator to the Government in this matter. It is pushing the project. The voice might be the voice of Jacob, but the hand is the hand of Esau. The prime target of aggression in Australia today would be the steelworks at Port Kembla and the Jervis Bay reactor. We will fight the Government all the way on this.
– Order! The time allotted for consideration of the proposed expenditure has expired.
That the amendment (Mr Stewart’s) be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved inthe negative.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Proposed expenditure, $64,988,000.
– In speaking to the estimates for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, 1 shall confine my remarks to the television industry, in which actors, actresses, writers and technicians are seeking a better deal for Australian television shows, and quite rightly so, because at present overseas programmes are swamping the local screens. We have reached a stage when a showdown is necessary to protect this important industry from extinction. Australian television stations spend huge sums purchasing American and British programmes, while the local industry is not encouraged to expand. Conversely it is being slowly strangled by the failure of the Government to take positive steps to nurture this Australian industry. The existing quota system which is supposed to give Australian shows sufficient time on television, is a complete farce. The Australian Broadcasting Control Board, the guardian of our television screens, has done nothing adequate to enforce a policy designed to encourage and protect our local industry. When a United States or a British television film or entertainment show is produced, there is a ready market available. As a consequence production costs are soon cleared and the show can then be sold in Australia very cheaply. This practice can be truly labelled as unfair competition to the Australian industry.
The distribution of Australian productions is very limited because the United States and the United Kingdom both rigidly enforce a policy to protect their own television industries. For example, 86 per cent of television shows in the United Kingdom and nearly 100 per cent in the United States must be locally produced. Naturally it is extremely difficult for Australiato break into either of these 2 markets; yet unlimited imports are allowed into Australia because tariff protection is minimal and riddled with loopholes. For instance, a tariff of 5c a foot is charged on imported American film and 1c a foot on British film. As a result some American material is processed in Britain and enters Australia as a product of that country at lc a foot. This is only a fraction of the tariff protection afforded to other Australian industries against overseas competition. Some Australian producers have new shows planned but are unable to commence production because of financial circumstances. One producer has been asked for 26 additional episodes of a well known and popular children’s series of films which he had mads last year. This request came from an American television network. However, the Australian producer is compelled to wait until he receives back money from the previous series before commencing production. By then it could be too late.
Like other honourable members and honourable senators my commitments in attending social functions, Party and other organisation meetings are very extensive but despite this I do on occasions have a night at home and relax by watching television. I enjoy watching such films as ‘Homicide’, ‘Division 4’ and ‘Bellbird’ and good entertainment in the Barry Crocker, Rex Mossop, Joe Martin, Bob Rogers and, until recently, the Bobby Limb shows. In addition, I believe that ‘Showcase’ and New Faces’ are excellent entertainment. There is also the Bob Dyer BP show and the Roland Strong Coles show, both of which are quiz shows and which are far superior to any imported ones in their various categories of entertainment. However, we desperately need far greater encouragement and incentive to produce more drama to retain our artists and writers in Australia. We have the talent;let us use it. Let me mention some Australians who made good overseas. The late Errol Flynn, until his death, was one of the world’s most popular actors. Rod Taylor is in big demand by all film producers. Then there are John McCallum, Merle Oberon, Peter Finch, Michael Pate, Victoria Shaw, Diane Cilento, Cecil Kellaway, Zoe Caldwell, Dame Judith Anderson, Patsy Ann Noble, Chips Rafferty, and, in other fields of entertainment, Joan Sutherland, June
Bronhill, Frank Ifield, Rolf Harris, Frank Thring, John Serge, Lana Cantrell, The Seekers, the Bee Gees, Cathie Goreham, who is a world leading ballet dancer; and writers such as Morris West, famous for the book ‘Shoes of the Fisherman’, Ralph Smart of the ‘Danger Man* series, John Cleary, John O’Grady, Eric Taylor, Chris Beard, Patrick White and Ray Lawler.
Now let us examine the quota system which is controlled by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. It requires a paltry half an bour a week per channel between the hours of 7 p.m. and 9.30 p.m., which is about 3 per cent of this peak viewing time for local productions. The Board does nothing about the glut of American dramas that saturate our screens. Some of them are up to 30 years old and some are showing for the third and fourth time. Some of the American films shown after 10.30 p.m.. particularly horror and space films, are junk, and I submit this is a most fitting description. I was incensed when Mick Jagger was brought out to Australia to play the role of Ned Kelly. This was ridiculous when the Treasurer (Mr Bury) would have fitted the part admirably.
In concluding my remarks I should like to point out that Australian actors and actresses proved themselves during World War II and the post war period when American radio dramas were unprocurable and the local radio industry had to expand or die. For many years, and until television became more popular than radio, the Australian actor proved his technical and artistic ability, and against telling odds he has proved his worth on television. I believe the Australian people are being Americanised by television. What we need is more drama and entertainment depicting the Australian way of life. The Australian Broadcasting Control Board requires an overall 50 per cent Australian content. This figure is false in practice. This 50 per cent is mainly composed of cheap day time programmes, football games, news broadcasts, boxing and wrestling matches, game and quiz shows, amateur talent quests, and so on. Worse still, Australian drama and children’s programmes are counted as twice their length in calculating the 50 per cent content. English programmes are also quoted as Australian content. Repeated Australian programmes are also counted.
These are often hidden late at night but arc still used in eking out the local television content. Some of these shows are 10 years old and are repeated without any additional payment to actors, writers or production houses. Naturally they keep out new local productions.
Another important factor in encouraging and expanding our local industry is the drain on our overseas credit balance by the huge annual bill for the purchase of American and British films and shows. Finally, I should like to emphasise that this is a young nation possessing excellent television talent. Let us encourage it in the future and let us enforce a true figure of 50 per cent of local content.
– 1 apologise to the House for entering the debate at this stage, ft is normally my practice to seek to speak at the end of the debate when I can answer some of the queries which are raised by honourable members.
– How long are you going to take?
– The clock has not moved so that ought to be an indication that I will do my best to finish within a quarter of an hour. I. would have taken longer if I had waited to answer queries, so I hope I will take less time than I normally would. Honourable members will remember that just before Cabinet considered the Budget for this year there were some reports in the newspapers about an attitude I had adopted in regard to the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I have indicated in the House on a couple of occasions that I believe the appropriate time to comment about these matters and to give my reasons is in the Estimates debate. This is one reason why I rise at this stage. I rise so that those who follow me in the debate may offer comment on what I have said.
If we look at Division 405 we find that the operating cost of services under the control of the Australian Broadcasting Commission is estimated at $51m. When the estimates of the ABC were presented to me, after they had been reviewed by the Treasury with officers of the ABC. the amount was S52.3m. A litle later a new award was determined for some officers of the ABC which meant an increase of $lm.
Therefore the total was increased to $53. 3m. I said to the ABC that I felt there should be a reduction and Cabinet finally made a further reduction to give the figure of $51m which I have mentioned. It was suggested in some newspapers at the time that the result of the cut which I was suggesting meant that the ‘Four Corners’ programme would be shown once a month instead of 4 times a month: that we would see the programme ‘This Day Tonight* twice a week instead of 4 or 5 times a week; that in fact what I had done represented virtually a disaster in relation to current affairs programmes. Of course, these newspapers did not have the information and were making their usual uninformed speculation regarding the situation. However, on receiving draft estimates from the ABC I discovered that there were new figures relating to the programme content. 1 found expenditure on new current affairs programmes presented on radio totalled $61,200. These programmes were to start early in 1971 and in a full year the cost would have been $44,453. This programme provided for 9 additional members of the Australian Broadcasting Commission staff for production purposes. The estimated expenditure on new programmes for television, which included the cost of one additional reporter, was $109,000. Therefore, in these 2 items was a cost of Si 70.000 on new material and new programmes within the curent affairs area. When T had regard to travelling costs, the possibility of economies that could be effected and the quite substantial increase in the amount require’ by the ABC in this area - I will give figures to the House in a minute - I came to the conclusion that the sum required was unnecessarily large. So, I endorsed thestimates with these words:
There appears to be an unnecessary expansionist approach. 1 think this is unnecessary and I approve the estimates subject to a reduction of $500,000 of which at least half, i.e., $250,000, is to be applied in the area of public affairs programmes and these particularly in the area of television.
When one looks at the totals which are included in the Budget Estimates one finds that the operating expenditure of the ABC this year is $62. 1 m and that capital expenditure is $ 1 0.4m. This makes a total of $72. 5m for the conduct of the ABC operation in this year. There are those people in the community who suggest that the ABC should have complete autonomy and that there should be no interference by the Government or anyone else. It is therefore interesting to note that the revenue which will Mow from broadcasting and television licence fees will be $49.7m. So from the normal revenues of the Budget approximately $23m will be allocated to the ABC over and above the revenue received from licence fees. In 1968-69 the operating and capital expenditure was S59.6m and the following year it was S63.2m. This represents an increase of S3. 6m or 6 per cent. The amount provided this year is an increase over last year of $9. 3m or 14.7 per cent. I believe that I was completely justified, as 1 believe Cabinet was justified, in making an adjustment in (he amount available to the ABC.
T would like to refer to another matter which relates in particular to my Department. It seemed to me that this is an opportunity that 1 should take to inform honourable members and also the Australian public of the contribution which the Austraiian Post Office is making to other countries. Within Australia there is some criticism of the Post Office. Some of it may be justified but a good deal is not. The Post Office through its staff makes a substantial contribution to the development of postal services and telecommunciation services in quite a number of countries. I was overseas some 3 years ago and I met the Postmaster-General of the United States of America. Soon after T returned home I received a request from him for information on postal services in Australia. The Postmaster-General of the United States asked for information which he thought would assist his organisation to improve its postal services. It was no mean task that he asked us to perform. In fact, our reply occupied 16 pages of typed material.
Subsequent to that, on 1st January 1968 a member of a United States committee which was investigating Post Office matters visited Australia at the request of that committee to discuss with senior officers of the Australian Post Office several topics concerning the services about which the committee was particularly interested. The member of the committee was interested in industrial relations, our policy for determining tariff on mail equivalent to the second class category in the United States and finally methods of improving productivity in mail handling areas of the larger centres.
In the telecommunications area we had a request for an officer of the Bell Telephone Company to be permitted to study the techniques which were used by the Australian Post Office to forecast the demand for telecommunications services. Honourable members who have read of the problems in New York in recent months will appreciate why this was one of the problems on which the Americans sought our assistance. Therefore, in 3 instances - and particularly in the case of the United States Post Office and the Bell Telephone Company - organisations from the United States have asked the Australian Post Office for advice and assistance to help them to improve services in that country. The Australian Post Office has also provided technical assistance in many other areas. This assistance has been provided to Papua and New Guinea, Indonesia, Africa, South East Asia and South America in response to requests by a number of United Nations agencies or at the direct request of the country concerned. I believe that such requests reflect the high opinion in which the Post Office in Australia is held overseas.
During 1969-70, 28 members of the Austraiian Post Office were overseas on technical assistance missions to 13 developing countries. One officer was stationed at Nicaragua in Central America to provide transmission assistance. One member of the staff went to Fiji to provide telecommunication maintenance training. Three visits were made to Indonesia. The first comprised a party of 8 people. There is a long term project in Indonesia, under the Colombo Plan, extending from 1968 to 1973 and involving various tasks such as cable switching and work in the microwave fields to upgrade the Indonesian network. The second visit involved 3 people who were engaged in assisting to provide a telecommunication network for aeronautical purposes. The third visit involved one person as an instructor in carrier and line transmission at the International Telecommunication Union training school.
Three people were sent to Malaysia as instructors at its training school in switching and transmission work. One officer was sent to the Philippines to plan a microwave network. One officer was sent to Saudi Arabia as a telecommunication workshop instructor and to plan a cable and radio project. This project has recently been completed. One officer went to Singapore as a switching instructor at the Singapore Telephone Board. One officer was sent to South Vietnam to assist in the installation and maintenance of radio links. There were 3 projects in Thailand, each involving one person. One officer was sent there to direct the postal training school, one to work on an exchange and local plant operation and one as a project leader of a pre-investment regional telecommunication survey. One officer went to Tonga for telephone network planning, one went to Venezuela as head of a telecommunication mission, one went to Hong Kong to assist in the mechanisation of the mail exchange and one went to the New Hebrides to work on a telephone line network.
Two of the principle long term projects which Australia is undertaking are being carried out in Indonesia and Venezuela. The Indonesian Government is engaged on a programme to extend very substantially its facilities for domestic and international telecommunications. A programme was initiated in Venezuela in 196S to reconstruct and reorganise the telecommunication facilities and services. Through arrangements paid for by the International Telecommunication Union Australia has sent technical advisers to Venezuela to implement the programme and to provide back-up information from Australia. Two senior communication officers from Venezuela are at present visiting Australia in connection with these projects.
In relation to marketing, I think that honourable members should appreciate the fact that some of the newer things which are being done in the Post Office are things in which other countries are showing a great deal of interest. These include such matters as priority paid mail services, bulk pre-sorted mail, the use of marketing techniques and management consultation. I am sure that every honourable member knows that the staff of the Australian Post Office meets business people. In fact, people engaged in the overseas communication area have shown great interest in the way in which this is organised and the results which are achieved.
I have one other matter to add, and I place special emphasis on it because when we debated the Bill which provided for increased postal charges the Opposition -moved an amendment in which it sought an inquiry into the establishment of the Post Office as a statutory corporation. The argument was based principally on the fact that the British Post Office is now a statutory corporation. Recently we received a request from Mr Fennessy, who is a member of the Post Office Board. He was a leading British industrialist who, when the British Post Office was converted into a statutory corporation, was brought onto the Board to bring from outside some knowledge and experience to help in the running of the organisation. Recently he wrote to the Australian Post Office and asked whether we would agree to a visit by 4 senior members of the staff of the British Post Office to study the organisation and some aspects of the Australian Post Office, particularly in regard to exchange switching and exchange equipment programming and procurement. 1 mention these matters to the Committee in the hope that they might give to honourable members the opportunity to take a slightly broader view than is usually taken in a debate on the estimates for the Postmaster-General’s Department. Such a debate tends to embrace some of the more minor matters. I think that the contribution which is being made by the Australian Post Office to other countries at their request or at the request of United Nations agencies should be known to honourable members and to the Australian community. I believe that if it is known people inside and outside the Parliament will have a better appreciation of the type of person who is employed in the Post Office, the type of person who serves the Australian community in a technical or administrative capacity. I hope that what I have said indicates that I, as Postmaster-General, have a tremendously high regard for the efficiency of the people who are carrying on this $ 1,000m business in Australia.
– I condemn the Postmaster-General’s Department for its cunning technique in separating the accounts for the postal section from the accounts for the telecommunication section. The postal and telecommunication sections belong to the same Department and they are controlled by the same departmental heads and the PostmasterGeneral, who is in overall charge of both sections. Yet in the annual report of the Postmaster-General’s Department each year the accounts of these 2 sections are separated. The report for 1969-70 shows that the postal section incured a loss of $19m, but the telecommunication section made a profit of S23m - a net profit of $4m, which is not a bad profit, taking everything into consideration. If a private business undertaking were to make a profit of $4m it would be very happy.
The Department is not satisfied with a net profit of $4m. It is now budgeting for a combined profit of $30m. This is being done at the expense of thousands and thousands of Australian citizens who use the services of the Post Office, as I will point out in a moment. Now, with the increased charges proposed under this Budget for 1970-71, the postal services will show a loss of $9m. The loss incurred in providing postal services will be reduced from $19m to $9m. But the telecommunication section is expected to show a profit of $39m. That profit is in the class of the profits made by General-Motors Holdens Pty Ltd and the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd. That is sheer unadultered capitalism. Here is a public department which has the nerve to budget for a profit of $39m in one section. I condemn this subterfuge in bringing this type of document before this Parliament.
The device of separating these 2 sections of the Department is the excuse which the Department uses to justify a savage increase in postal rates, the cost of telephone calls, telephone rentals, installation charges, and the cost of telegrams, etc. Installation charges are to be increased from $30 to $40 and telephone rentals are to be increased by $7 per annum. We must remember that at the lower end of the Australian economy are the pensioners who are being hit very hard by these increases. I am sure that most pensioners have a telephone for one reason - as a virtual lifeline to their doctors. They will be hit by these vicious, savage increased charges. I would also like to mention a few other criticisms. In Tasmania we have a new brain child. Three separate telephone directories will be printed for 1971.
Tasmania will be divided into 3 areas, and each area is to have a separate telephone directory. For the life of me I cannot see the economy of this or the sense of it. The local councils are very upset about the proposal. Business houses will have to have 3 directors. I am not blaming the director in Tasmania for this brainstorm. He is a splendid chap who has done a wonderful job down there. He suggests that the 3 directories should be linked.
This scheme will cause extra expense and make the whole system more inconvenient. Fancy the business houses having to have 3 directories, although admittedly each will be smaller than the present one. With Tasmania divided into 3 areas with 3 separate editions of directories, the cost will increase. A better idea would have been to have had 3 separate colour schemes in the one directory. Divide Tasmania into 3 areas if you wish, but let us have one book with a different colour scheme for each of the 3 divisions to be identified.
I want to mention also the meanness of the Post Office in respect of the provision of public telephone cabinets in isolated country areas. My electorate covers half of Tasmania - 13,000 square miles. Thirty-four post offices have been closed in my electorate alone in the last 24- years. Often, when a post office is closed, the public telephone cabinet is taken away. Let me give 2 instances of what has gone on. Between Deloraine and Bothwell along the Lake Highway over the top of Tasmania there is a distance of SO miles between 2 public telephone cabinets. This area is used by fishermen and weekend visitors who have shacks there and the highway is a tourist road. I have made 2 representations to Mr Gilson to try to get a public telephone cabinet at a place called Miena right at the top of the island, in a most isolated area. This is a very important road for tourists, yet this facility will not be provided. One has to go into a privately owned service station to ring up-
The only reason we ask that these isolated areas be covered is in case of accident, fire, flood, disaster or sickness. They are miles and miles from anywhere and there is nowhere to ring up. In Launceston in the suburb where I live,
Kings Meadows, there are 4 telephone cabinets in a distance of three quarters of a mile. Where is the fairness in this, when the city people get everything and the country people lose post offices and telephone cabinets by the hundreds throughout Australia? I condemn this system. In another area between Woodsdale and Parattah in my electorate, a distance of about 15 miles, 2 telephone cabinets have been taken away. 1 suppose this is part of the scheme of trying to cut costs. I condemn the PMG Department for cutting costs in country districts. This is where people need the facilities. Communication is their life blood and their lifeline. 1 cannot condemn too heartily tonight what is going on in these areas. There are 4 telephone cabinets within a distance of three quarters of a mile in a suburb of Launceston and for 50 miles along an isolated country road, which is a very important highway of the island, there is not a telephone cabinet. Another thing that I would like to mention is the extra cost to post various periodicals around Australia. This has been increased to 175 per cent in one go. I have here a whole list of important publications throughout Australia that have been hit by this vicious increase in postal rates. The Hobart ‘Mercury’ is one of the biggest newspapers in the island. It is going to cost the country farmer on the country road $17 a year to have his paper delivered to him. This is a huge increase. Other companies which are producing some very interesting publications in Australia will be forced to have them printed in other countries and posted back to Australia. They believe this will be cheaper.
Finally, I suggest that the Postal Department institute a 12 minute trunk call system on Sundays between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. so that friends can ring each other when it is not a busy time. This is done in England. There they advertise along these lines: ‘Ring your friends after 6 p.m. each night at cheaper rates.’ That is each night. Let us make it on Sundays. Let us have a 12-minute call for the same price as the present 3-minute unit, to encourage people to use the telephone, and to provide a service. When the Labor Party becomes the Government we will set up a Post Office corporation and make some very big changes in the whole set-up of the Australian Post Office.
– -I wish to refer to 2 aspects of the functions of the Australian Broadcasting Commission in relation to current affairs programmes, principally on television but also on radio where relevant. Firstly, I submit a plea to the ABC and its management to allocate adequate funds to train and increase television teams reporting current political, economic and social events in other countries, principally countries in South East Asia - I mean all of them - and the United States of America, the United Kingdom and, if possible, other countries of importance to us such as the Communist countries. I am pleased to be advised that the ABC has 11 journalists stationed in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Djakarta, Tokyo, Saigon and New Delhi. In the last financial year one cameraman has been added to that complement and in the past year he has submitted more than 150 film reports.
I believe that Australia needs reporting of events and opinions by Australians for Australians. We need a great increase in this. We need an Australian point of view of the events which happen in those countries which are of great national interest to us. The. films that we use from the American networks, the Columbia Broadcasting System and others, are not entirely adequate for our purposes although they are of high quality, ft is essential that Australian national television carry films produced by ABC teams who are permanent residents or on a long term residency basis in each of the countries concerned. I think that in time we ought to be able to have fair reporting, which T will refer to later, to enable Australians to see and hear events and to observe the reasons and ideas behind the events so that we as a people can understand the culture, politics and economics in these important regions whose policies and relations closely affect Australia.
I am aware that this would involve a very considerable expense, but I believe that that expense would be justified. Its value would be enormous in displaying the truth and the facts to us. Such information on which we as a people can make judgments, and the resulting informed debate, would be a great step forward. 1 believe that, as the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) has said this evening, this Parliament has a direct interest in the activities of the ABC and in its impartiality. That needs to be said because of the debate which has been current in this country for some while. There are 3 reasons for this.
The first reason is that the Commonwealth makes substantial revenue contributions to the ABC. Secondly, the public interest is deeply involved in what is represented to us by the ABC as factual and educational material because it is a dramatic part of forming Austraiian public opinion. In the great majority of cases, open and fair reporting leads to a more informed public opinion from which our representative democratic government system can function better, lt is an important element of democracy that a continuing striving for improvement in communication exists.
The third reason is that, unlike other media which do not depend on the Government for a franchise to communicate with the public, there is a limited number of television channels available. One channel in each of the areas where television operates in Australia is an Australian Broadcasting Commission channel. The ABC has the right of the use of a scarce public asset. I believe that the last 2 reasons apply equally to commercial television for there too is a substantial public interest involved and Parliament must, with others, ever concern itself with the public interest. lt must be granted that there are great technical difficulties in reporting politics - the actions of men and the issues and ideas - to the Australian community. There are international issues, social and economic issues of complexity all interwoven. Yet we know that it must be done - and with detachment, objectivity and fairness which alone brings out the truth, and alone gives the reputation of integrity essential to that trust on which people anxiously rely from national television. It is a deep need of our community.
Striving for objectivity is a fundamental part of the production art in a television current affairs programme. It is not easy to keep interest in, for example, a discussion of complex ideas. The medium relies on pictures more than sound. Its dramatic impact is felt most readily by pictures of. action which affect emotions far more than intellect. The temptation to show violent incidents to obtain powerful communication is strong. One violent incident out of a large event can give a quite false impression; and the accompanying words have little or no effect. Colour television will accentuate this. Without balance, for example, wars and riot can be seen exclusively in terms of the casualties and combat rather than the issues which bring them about. We can be reminded in a vivid way of unfavourable aspects of our society where the cameras are free to roam and yet they cannot intrude into, for instance, closed Communist societies and that fact leads to an overall distorted representation of the world.
It is the responsibility of the production to examine also why these events took place, who is responsible, what the alternative is, the scope and relevance of the action filmed and to be fair to all the parties in giving an overall impression. The public is entitled to have balanced impartial reporting - whether it is newscasting, verbal on-camera reporting, descriptive comments on events as they are shown, studio programmes on topical issues, interviewing, or, importantly, writing commentary for film reporting or documentaries.
In this television journalistic inquiry we all have a direct interest. But what high standards this demands of those involved, in reporting and analysing facts and in presenting and examining the opinions of others. As I said, there are great difficulties including the physical transport of cameras and teams to the right spot, being in the right place at the right time, getting the right people to interview, representing all the views - and often there are more than 2 views - for the exchange of ideas because the implications of an international agreement are so difficult to treat adequately and yet may be of far greater importance than a riot which can be portrayed vividly. Sometimes only one side of the question can be shown readily. But it is challenging to make important matters visually interesting to achieve balance as part of the art of television production.
The most vivid pictures can distort the reality they appear to show unless they are combined with inquiry or explanation. Pictures, too, can be taken fairly and the words falsify the position. Words, though secondary, are important and need to be improved. So much effort and research is needed to achieve impartiality; it is much harder than adopting a prejudice. The right to inquire arises only from the duty of impartiality. The way television is used depends on the integrity and the motives of those involved.
So, I plea for a growth of more facilities, research and increasing process of awareness by the ABC of its responsibilities in these fields to reach heights demanded, indeed craved for, but only yet commenced. There is strength in reasoned argument, not mere exhortation, and so all the known facts and practical influences in a situation are exposed impartially for the judgment of a free people with common sense. To have national television dedicated to such an objective gives not only education; it is a step in the civilising process.
– The Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) in his explanation of why some of the estimates submitted by the Australian Broadcasting Commission in fact were reduced has given us certain reasons. I accept his explanation as it was given to us. At the same time, the Minister chided us, in quite a very pleasant way of course, to take a broader view of his Department and its activities and responsibilities. But he would realise that lime will not allow us to concur with that invitation. In the brief time that I do have available, I wish to talk about 2 points in this debate on the estimates of the Postmaster-General’s Department. 1 refer first to the Twenty-second Annual Report for the year ended 30th June 1970 of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. This report, was presented quite recently. I wish to make one or two comments relevant, I think, to what the honourable member for Curtin (Mr Garland) has said about the ABC and its responsibilities of objectivity, integrity and impartiality.
Firstly, the report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board is interesting at this time in the context of the cry for increased Australian content in television.. I do not think that anybody in this Committee would willingly deny the validity of the argument being presented. As the honourable member for Curtin has said, although in a somewhat different context, it is time for us in this country to create our own cultural image both here and abroad. The time has come, I think, when we have to accept the responsibility of transmitting abroad our own culture, our own point of view and, in fact, our own nationalism.
The cry against increased content basically is expense. It is interesting to look at the figures in the Twenty-second Annual Report of the ABCB and to see that in 1968-69 of the 45 television stations in operation 37 made a profit. Only 8 television stations failed to do so. The reason why the great proportion of these television stations failed to make a profit, T suggest, is purely and simply a political reason, not an economic reason - that is, the granting of licences in areas where no such licences should ever be granted. The total net profit for the financial year 1968-69 of Australian commercial television stations is shown at page .10 of the Report as being $15,387,145. So, the profitability of these television stations is not really in doubt.
An interesting development has occurred. T refer to page 25 of the Report. A commercial television station in Hobart, TVT Channel 6, and commercial television channel TNT9 in the north of the State have joined now with the Tasmanian Department of Education in transmitting educational programmes and teacher training telecasts. This move I applaud. I suggest with the greatest deftness in the world to the Postmaster-General that he may like to encourage an expansion of this idea. On page 104 of the same report it will be noticed that the Board is again engaged in a review of the Australian content requirement. The report says:
It is apparent that this review will take longer than the Board had earlier expected but it is being carried out as quickly as possible having regard to the Board’s very heavy programme of inquiries in various fields.
I think due regard to and a general close scrutiny of all the cases put forward is in itself a very valuable move but I suggest that the Board be not overlong in reaching a decision on this very important matter. Let us go back to the historic document, the Vincent Committee report, which was produced some years ago. At page 1 it refers to television programmes and Australian content. In Part I of the report under the heading: ‘Public Concern Over
Television Programmes. Evidence of Public Concern’, it said:
There is much public concern over television programmes. This concern, as might be expected, comes mainly from the more informed or responsibly minded section of the community, and it is widespread.
The disquiet is with programmes from both the Australian Broadcasting Commission and commercial television, although the greater weight of criticism is levied against commercial television.
These points made many years ago in the Vincent Committee report are still valid today. There has been a great deal of procrastination and delay in truly implementing the conditions laid down when these gentlemen Originally applied for their licences. This is how it has been skirted in so many ways. I do not have time to go into all the facts that make the Australian quota system at the moment an unfair reflection of the volume of Australian television productions shown on television. If one looks at the survey conducted by the Australian Broadcasting Commission and reprinted in the ‘Canberra Times’ on Wednesday, 23rd September under the heading: ‘Rating Objectively’ it can be seen what is meant. The answer from the commercial stations is that people are not prepared to watch Australian television programmes. I do not accept this. Of course, this is completely negated by this survey because if one looks at it - I have not time to quote it all - it will be found that 60 per cent of the top rating programmes in this country are written, produced and acted by people here. The argument will not wash that people are not prepared to watch Australian television productions because 60 per cent of the top rating programmes are in fact indigenous.
Let us turn to the ABC. The broad spectrum of the Commission’s activities makes it a massive undertaking at any level. Let us take a brief glance at the diversity of its activities. They range from news, music, drama; documentaries; training for Asians, a worthwhile project; opera; school broadcasts; publishing; and, as an entrepreneur, visits by overseas artists, sustaining symphony orchestras, help for migrants, and the Washington Bureau link - the sorts of things the honourable member for Curtin (Mr Garland) has been talking about. I suggest honourable members in this House take a glance at the Commission’s report. This is a very interesting document and highlights and exemplifies what I have said about the massive complex technological operation that is the Australian Broadcasting Commission.
In conclusion might I sum up the 2 points I have made. It is simply not a question of whether we can afford an increased Australian television content. It is rather a question of whether we cannot afford it. The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has indicated quite properly some interest in indigenous productions. He has displayed both vocally and visually an interest in this country’s nationalism. Surely the time has come for us to be energetically and actively concerned with our image and our culture because we are now a nation. Let us project that nationhood with pride in our creative and artistic talents. I have outlined, albeit economically, the complexity and immense responsibility of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. That this responsibility is accepted and discharged with integrity, professionalism and purpose is the complete answer to those lofty critics on the Government side who constantly criticise the activities of the ABC. I am very thankful to the Minister that he has not succumbed to the temptation to place any sort of political gag on it. This immense duty of the Commission is discharged. It has a duty to discharge; it has a duty to entertain, inform, educate and to transmit at home and abroad an account of the contemporary Australian scene.
– I want to raise 2 matters in the 10 minutes allowed me by our ardent parliamentary reformers. Firstly, I refer to the inquiry to be conducted by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board into the desirability of instituting a frequency modulation system which would make possible more stations and, therefore, a more varied radio diet and would give better and clearer reception. Here I should like to quote the report of an interview on this subject between a representative of the ‘Advertising, Marketing and Media Weekly’ and the Chairman of the Board, Mr Wright. It appears on page 12 of the issue dated 3rd September 1970. The article says:
And on frequency modulation - FM - Wright pointed to an inquiry coming up.
A pretty small number of people accepted our invitation to give evidence.’’
Small interest: The manufacturers, of course, are quite interested, but apart from a group of enthusiasts in addition there has been very little interest exhibited. ‘I’m not pre-judging the public interest in this, but when you consider that most people today are listening to 21 inch speakers, the most magnificent broadcast .system in the world isn’t likely to be improved through speakers of such a size.’
Anyway, why should people be very interested in FM since they don’t know what it’s like? That might be the perfect answer.’
Indeed it could be so. This to my mind clearly suggests that in the opinion of the Chairman few members of the public are really interested in FM radio and, therefore, the clear implication is that the system should not be instituted. Briefly, I believe that this statement, if he is accurately reported, indicates that he has pre-judged the issue and, particularly in view of the fact that the Board is at present immersed in the problem of Australian content in television programmes, I suggest that it would be both desirable and convenient if some other fit and proper person were appointed to preside over the FM inquiry. It is clearly the duty of the Board to provide the best system possible irrespective of the fact that few Australians may be aware of the merits of FM broadcasting.
The second matter that I wish to raise relates to the amount of Australian content in television programmes. Obviously in 5 minutes one cannot deal with this in depth or seek to persuade wilh eloquence. Indeed, one has not time even to make a speech. Let mc make some quick points. Firstly, television for good or evil makes an immense impact on people’s minds - adults, young people, children, ignorant or educated. Secondly, the Australian content in television programmes is far less than it should be in the national interest for 2 reasons. Negatively, American films in particular, featuring violence and the aberrations of the affluent society, do little to improve the minds and morals of the Australian people. Positively, they inhibit the development of a distinctively Australian image and identity.
An entirely derivative culture has no appeal to the best minds. Without deeply felt pride in its values and achievements such a society must be a nonentity among the nations and, indeed, may have little chance of survival. By way of contrast, the Parliamentary Library has given me this information regarding the position in Britain. The Library says in its information:
We are advised by the BBC representative in Sydney that there are no fixed quotas setting limits on the amount of foreign programming on either BBC or independent (commercial, i.e.) channels. The representative stated that BBC programmes in 1969 were approximately - 84 per cent British, 9 per cent USA, 7 per cent other.
The Independent Television Authority has wide supervisory powers over the quality and appropriateness of programmes and advertisements.
The ITA has issued strong reprimands and warnings to offending channels, and has even rescinded licences and reissued them to other companies. The proportion of British programmes shown on ITV is not as high as that of the BBC, but still considerably more than 50 per cent.
With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate in Hansard a copy of a letter, dated 13th October 1970, addressed to me from the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) in which he sets out the position in detail regarding Australian content in television.
Dear Mr Turner,
I refer again to your letter of 17th August 1970, concerning representations for increased Australian content in television programmes.
Your letter is among a wide range of representations which I have received in connection with a review which the Australian Broadcasting Control Board is making of its Australian television programme requirements. The Board has been consulting in the course of its review with a wide range of interests, including station licensees and representatives of Australian creative talent and outer sections of the industry. Many different aspects are involved.
As I mentioned in reply to a question from you in the House on 18th September, the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and myself received on 22nd September 1970, a deputation of SiX people in the field of Australian television production at which they put their case on the matters in question.
You request information on the existing legislative and administrative provisions on this matter. Under section 16 of the Act, it is a function of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to ensure that adequate and comprehensive programmes are provided over commercial television stations. Section 114(1) of the Act provides that the Commission and licensees shall, as far as possible, use the services of Australians in the production and presentation of broadcasting and television programmes’. To give practical effect to this principle the Australian Broadcasting Control Board has specified requirements for the Australian content of commercial television programmes to be observed by each licensee.
Briefly stated, these requirements provide that stations which have completed 3 years of operation shall present for at least 50 per cent of transmission time, programmes which are credited as being Australian in origin; and that during the popular viewing time between 7.00 p.m. and 9.30 p.m. they should present at least 18 hours of Australian programmes each month, including 2 hours of Australian drama. Of the 18 hours of Australian programmes, at least 8 must be televised between 7.00 p.m. and 9.00 p.m. at the rate of 2 hours per week. These general requirements came into effect in July 1967 and are subject to regular review. Arising out of the last review for instance, the requirement to programme 18 hours of Australian programmes between 7.00 p.m. and 9.30 p.m. each month came into effect as from July 1969; previously 12 hours was the stipulated minimum.
The Board’s Australian content requirements provide for special credits for Australian drama in respect of the calculation of stations compliance with the overall obligation to televise Australian programmes for 50 per cent of transmission time. The intention is to encourage this aspect of Australian production. Drama written in Australia or by Australians receives credit for twice its actual duration; other Australian drama productions receive credit for one and one half times their actual duration.
It is the Board’s regular practice to review its requirements for Australian content in commercial television programmes and as I have said, such a review is now being made.
The Board’s requirements relate only to commercial television stations; the Australian Broadcasting Commission is responsible for ensuring that the principles underlying Section 114 of the Act are fulfilled adequately in the programming of national stations. The creditable record of the Commission in this field is well-known.
You suggest that the proper approach to this matter is ‘a full and open inquiry’. I would not wish to prejudge the Board’s considerations. The Board is vested with ample authority to deal with matters relating to Australian television programmes in the way it thinks fit, even to the extent of itself holding a public inquiry. I am sure that the Board would not hesitate to adopt this procedure if it were considered to be the best way of proceeding: As it is, the Board has met with all sections of the industry including Actors’ and Announcers’ Equity Association of Australia, the Australian Writers’ Guild, the Producers’ and Directors’ Guild of Australia, the Australian Film Council, programme producers, the Federation of Australian Commercial Television Stations and representatives of individual stations.
I am, therefore, satisfied that its conclusions in what has developed into a complex and emotional area, will be reached against the background of all available information and views. At this stage at least, I am not disposed to think that the problems could be examined and solved in any better way than that being followed by the Board. I should add, in this connection, that all concerned are aware that the Board is available at any itme to receive the presentation of any views which they may have either verbally or in writing and this facility has been freely availed of, as will be evident from the list of organisations, which I have indicated, have discussed the matter with the Board. In addition the Board has received many letters from individual members of the public and due account will be paid to these. 1 would add only this, that the 50 per cent oi Australian content is cut down by the credits mentioned in the fourth and fifth paragraphs of the Minister’s letter. I will not enter into the controversy whether commercial stations are or are not at this time in a financial position to pay more for Australian material than for cheaper imported programmes. Nor do I base my case on the employment needs of Australian actors. What is of crucial importance is, first, whether the talent exists in Australia - the script writers, producers, technicians and the rest - and, second, whether we have a sufficient depth of indigenous culture to found a distinctively Australian film industry. 1 can only give 2 pragmatic answers. Having seen the preview of 3 half-hour films produced by the Commonwealth Film Unit, ‘Michael’ Judy’ and .T….1 -, presenting the dilemmas of Australian youth in 3 different contexts, I have no doubt whatever that the necessary talents exist, and anyone in doubt should watch for these particular items when they appear shortly on the television screen.
As to the depth of indigenous culture, I can only say that Australia has, for almost two centuries, had a different kind of background and development from all other countries; that the Australian people have faced their own peculiar problems, struggles and dilemmas; that our story is not without colour and emotional highlights and that Australians are recognisably different from all other people inhabiting the earth. What we need is a mirror not only in art, literature and music but in the most popular and pervasive of media, the film, to engender a sense of national identity and pride and to illuminate our own national ethos. I applaud the decision of the Government to establish the Australian Film Development Corporation and commend to the Postmaster-General the necessity of ensuring that the fruits of this venture reach the television screen in Aus tralia. I believe that the public, properly approached, will be tolerant of initial shortcomings while our script writers, producers, actors and others learn in the on, way it is possible to learn, and that is by doing. Commercially such an enterprise might become viable by exploiting Asian markets, despite language difficulties - I have seen a Russian version of ‘Hamlet’ with an English sound track substituted for the Russian. This would give some idea to our neighbours of what manner of people we are and what sort of country we inhabit.
– Before I commence I want to commend the honourable “member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) on his excellent speech, embarrassing though this may be to him. On 9th May 1961, during the Presidency of the late John F. Kennedy, in an historic address to the National Association df Broadcasters the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission of the United States of America, Mr Newton N. Minow, had the following to say:
I have confidence in your health, hut not in your product. When television is good, nothing - not the theatre, not the magazines or newspaper - nothing is better. But when television is bad, nothing is worse. I invite you to sit down in front of your television set when your station goes on the air and stay there without a book, magazine, newspaper, profit and loss sheet or rating book to distract you and keep your .eyes glued to that set until the station goes off. I can assure you that you will observe a vast wasteland.
You will see a procession of game shows, violence, audience participation shows, formula comedies about totally unbelievable families, blood and thunder, mayhem, private eyes, gangsters; more violence and cartoons. And, endlessly, commercials - many screaming, cajoling and offending. And most of all, boredom. True, you will see a few things you will enjoy. But they will be very, very few. And if you think I exaggerate, try it.
Why is so much of television so bacl* I have heard many answers: Demands of your advertisers; competition for ever higher ratings; the need always to attract a mass audience; the high cost of television programmes; the insatiable appetite for programming materials- these are some of them. Unquestionably these are tough problems not susceptible to easy answers. But I am not convinced that yon have tried hurd enough to solve them.
He went on:
We all know that people would more often prefer to be entertained than stimulated or informed. But your obligations arc not satisfied if you look only to popularity as a te«t of what to broadcast. You are not only in show business; you are free to communicate ideas us well as relaxation. You must provide a wider range of choices, more diversity, more alternatives, lt is not enough to cater to the nation’s whims - you must also serve the nation’s needs.
That speech was made in the United States almost a decade ago. It could well be made in Australia by an Australian, if we had an Australian such as Mr Newton N. Minow in a position of power and with the intestinal fortitude and intellectual insight to make such a speech. Allowing for the passage of time and minor changes in trends and tastes it could equally apply to the mediocre and often appallingly low grade fare being dished up to Australia’s millions of television viewers.
However, this speech will be about not only the quality but the content of Australian television. At least the Americans were receiving American fare. Mr Minow could appeal to the producers to amend their ways. In Australia, the same appeal for a lifting of quality would have to be made across many thousands of miles of ocean, to the places where the great bulk of the drama, music and variety programmes shown on Australian television are produced. During the next few weeks I hope that an important decision, which will vitally affect the lives of present day Australians and future generations of Australians, will emanate from the office of the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme). Ii will determine the outlook, characters and personalities of many millions of young Australians. It will have a profound effect on whether Australia is to retain a cultural identity and heritage that are distinctly Australian, or be swallowed completely in a morass of imported cultures. That decision is one that will determine the Australian content in local television programming on a commercial television.
The long term effect of this momentous decision may not be realised for many years, lt may well be that it will not be realised until it is too late. However, one group of Australians, the most creative and talented section of our community, is going to feel the immediate effect of this decision. These are the television writers, technicians, artists and musicians who, in past years, have helped to produce Australian drama, Australian music, Australian variety shows and Australian comment on current affairs. These are the people who, due to a change in policy by the major Australian commercial television stations, are now either out of work or have bad their opportunities drastically reduced. In a country where there have been complaints about over-employment these are the new unemployed. - In recent months we have seen a mounting attack by television’s work force spokesmen such as Bobby Limb, Barry Crocker, Bo Bo Faulkner and Lance Peters, President .of the Australian Writers Guild, and a counter attack by the television industry’s powerful propaganda machines. Briefly, what has happened is this: In an effort to increase profits the major television stations have gradually replaced what little Australian drama, music, variety and current affairs programmes, which by overseas standards are reasonably cheap, with football, fights, panel shows, quiz shows and amateur hours which are considerably cheaper to produce. While they have kept to the letter of the law relating to 50 per cent Australian content they have treated with contempt the spirit of the law. For example, in the past 12 months the number of drama series in production has dropped from 11 to 5, and 3 of these are Australian Broadcasting Commission productions.
Regular current affairs programmes have all but disappeared and Australian music and variety shows have been cut to a bare minimum. Despite the fact that, as my colleague the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Sherry) said, 33 out of 42 commercial television stations are showing a profit and there has been a jump in total net profits from $9.5m in 1966-67 to $15.5m in 1968-69, there is an increasing tendency by the major networks to wriggle out of their national responsibilities by cutting back on Australian productions and buying more and more imported programmes. The reasons are fairly obvious. A top hour programme from the United States costing $150,000 to produce is dumped on the Australian market for $8,000 per hour. The commercial stations buy as a pool and the overseas networks throw in cheap daytime programmes and repeats of old shows as filler programmes as a bonus for buying the expensive modern new ones. It is impossible for Australian shows to be produced for $8,000. The minimum cost to produce a quality one-hour drama programme is $20,000. I might add while talking of repeat programmes that Australian writers are not paid for repeats as are their United States, United Kingdom and Canadian counterparts.
Since 1963 commercial television has spent over $100m on the Channel 7 revolution. As Lance Peters said, this makes it more expensive than the Russian revolution and probably less desirable. In return for this Australia earned approximately $2m from the sale of Australian produced television programmes, and most of this was from ‘Skippy’. The television stations have argued that they will give the public what they want and will not offer inferior productions just because they are Australian. Yet, of the top 10 programmes - I quote from the recently released publication of the Federation of Australian Commercial Television Stations titled ‘Facts of Australian Content in TV Schedules’ - 6 of the top 10 programmes are Australian. The top 10 are:
What better proof could there be that Australians, given the choice, prefer Australian programmes? This is an incredible performance given that so little money is expended on Australian productions.I hope that everyone notes that the top 2 are Australian drama series. Frankly, most of these are not my particular taste nor, I imagine, will many of us be overly impressed by the American alternatives. What is obvious, however, is that given the choice between mediocre Australian shows and mediocre American shows, Australians prefer Australian shows.
I am disappointed that honourable members have only 10 minutes in which to speak in this debate. I thought we had15 minutes. It has been stated often that the introduction of a third commercial station in the major capital cities has placed undue strain on the existing channels and that the third channel is unable to operate at a profit. It may well be that it was an error to introduce a third channel so early. ThereforeI suggest that the Government purchase this channel and convert it to an educational channel to be run by the Australian Broadcasting Commission. In perhaps 10 or 15 years when our population has increased by some millions we could then give further consideration to reallocating an extra commerical station.
– After having listened to the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen) perhaps I should not be urging the Minister to hasten the introduction of television in the Northern Territory. I am sure that what he said about a lot of programmes that are being broadcast in the southern parts of Australia is true. I hope that by the time the novelty of television lessens in the Northern Territory and by the time television gets there the quality of the programmes will have improved.
In discussing the appropriation of $64.9m for the Postmaster-General’s Department I point out that included in that amount is the cost of running Radio Australia. I cannot see the running costs stated separately but the cost does not really concern me. It would be very hard to determine the value of maintaining the service provided by Radio Australia and the image which it presents to the countries to our near north by way of fair reporting and down the line news and other programmes. We hear reports from Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and even from Japan about the very high reputation of Radio Australia programmes. The Government recently spent many millions of dollars - I think it was $8m - strengthening the signals emitted from Radio Australia by building an installation on Cox’s Peninsula across the bay from Darwin. I gather - and I am somewhat disappointed - that the three 250 kilowatt transmitters which were installed are not yet working at full strength. I think one of them is operating at the moment. I urge the Government to strain every effort to get the Cox’s Peninsula transmitters on the air and operating at full strength, because other stations in the area are also broadcasting to the countries to which we are trying to give our message. These stations are coming in 5 by 5 and leaving Australia for dead, as it were.
The estimates before the House tonight reflect the fact that television is finally coming to the Northern Territory. Despite my earlier remarks, I welcome it. I notice from the civil works programme for the Postmaster-General’s Department that art amount of about $159,000 will be spent on the television transmission building in Darwin. This is an indication that we in the
Northern Territory are finally to get television. I also see on the same works programme that an amount of $530,000 is set aside for the establishment of 42 radio telephone sites between Darwin and the Queensland border. I imagine this is planning for the microwave link that we are to have with the east coast. I am assuming that this microwave system will pass through Tennant Creek. Obviously it will go through Katherine. It is due to reach Darwin by 1973. As it will be completed progressively, I imagine it will pass through Tennant Creek about half way between now and 1973.
I once again urge the Government to give consideration to using a fine line system or some similar system for both Tennant Creek and Katherine, since the microwave link will pass through those towns. By the time it is completed they will have developed - and they are developing - into thriving and busy communities. It is most important that they have some sort of amenity such as television. I suppose that Alice Springs, which is in stage 7 of the developmental programme, will receive a repeater station similar to the one to be opened n ext month on Groote Eylandte. I ask the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) to look sympathetically at some of the propositions put to him by other isolated mining communities, such as Frances Creek, which may be looking towards having this type of repeater station. I know that the Minister and his Department will give them every assistance.
I shall continue mv remarks about other outback places which do not have television. The radio reception in these areas is also very poor. We hear people down here complaining about television programmes. We do not have television programmes. The people in these areas very often do not have broad band radio reception either. They have to rely on Radio Australia, to which most of us have listened for many years.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - It being 11 p.m., in accordance with the order of the House of 26th August, I shall report progress.
– It being 11 p.m., and in accordance with the order of the House of 26th August, I propose the question:
That the House do now adjourn.
– I require that the question be put forthwith.
Question resolved in the negative.
– I was discussing radio reception in the outback areas of Tennant Creek, the Barkly Tableland, Alice Springs and the country towards the South Australian border. I was asking honourable members to realise that there is no television in those areas and that in a lot of places there is no daily newspaper. It is on this that I base my plea to the Minister and his Department. I know that they have had representations on this previously, but I urge them to bear in mind that the radio reception is very poor. It is notoriously bad across the Barkly Tableland and especially in the Tennant Creek area. Tennant Creek, of course, is a mining town. The Tennant Creek area has a diameter about 50 miles. Peko is 9 miles on one side of the township, the $14m development area of Warrego is about 40 miles on the other side, and there are various gold and copper mines in between those points. Even the outlying parts of what is considered to be the town do not receive a first class radio reception because radio station 8TC at Tennant Creek transmits on only 50 watts. It can only just be heard in various closein areas around the township itself.
Finally, I commend the Department’s efforts in continually upgrading the radio telephone system which operates out of Alice Springs and Katherine. I know that there are a lot of complaints about this system. Many people are at the very end of the range of the radio telephone. I think the Department is doing everything it possibly can to upgrade this service. I ask the Minister to continue this upgrading. The radio telephone service is most essential. To the person who lives 200 or 300 miles out of town and who has no other means of communication, the service that the Government is providing is first class.
– Yesterday 1 put a matter to the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) at question time. I now raise it again because 1 believe that his reply indicated that either the question was misunderstood or that he was misinformed. The question I asked was: ls it a fact that al) telephone accounts normally distributed in September were held back until October in anticipation of an increase in rental charges? If so, will the Postmaster-General say why this was done? Is it the Government’s view that the procedure adopted was in accord with proper commercial practice?
The reply of the Postmaster-General, in part, was:
If the honourable member’s question applied to rental charges, I can assure him that the problems, if any, which the Post Officer has relate to the installation of new equipment. I have had some complaints that there has been delay in meeting the new demand because of the increased rental applying from 1st October, f can assure the honourable member that increased charges were not the reason for the delay.
The Postmaster-General went on to say: 1 can assure the House that nothing was done within the Post Office in an attempt to take any advantage whatever of the new charges. Work went on as usual, other than for some industrial difficulty which did cause a postponement in certain cases.
In other words, if I correctly understand his reply, the Postmaster-General was saying that technical arrangements and not policy would account for any delays. This cannot be right because I have in front of me an account which indicates what actually happened. On it is printed ‘Payable within 14 days of 24.9.70.’ It was received in early October by a telephone subscriber who always receives his account in September. In fact, the date ‘24th September’ has been overstamped by the date ‘2nd October’. This account is by no means an isolated example. Before coming to Canberra on Monday I took the opportunity of checking the position with the accounts section of the Perth General Post Office. I was informed that the Postmaster-General’s Department had deliberately withheld for delivery until early in October all accounts normally posted in September. It was put to me that the reason for this was that had the accounts gone out at the normal time when, as it was put to me, they were ready and available the Department could have charged only $20 instead of $23.50 because the amending legislation was not assented to until 1st October.
– But it would have been adjusted in the next account if the account was forwarded prior to the date on which the new rental applied.
– This may be so. This is a point to which I will now come. This is what 1 was suggesting by way of implication in. my question yesterday. I am not suggesting that it was an illegal practice, but I think it was a bad practice. 1 believe that the Post Office would have objected if any of its own suppliers were to attempt to adopt the same procedure. I believe that if this sort of procedure were adopted in the commercial field it would be resisted by many people in the community. I am unable to believe that the Western Australian section of the Post Office adopted this procedure of its own accord, alone and without authority. I therefore ask the Postmaster-General to clarify the position again by answering the following questions: Was the deliberate delay in the delivery of Western Australian telephone accounts authorised? If so, will the Postmaster-General give the Department’s justification for adopting this procedure? Will he also indicate whether the procedure was adopted in all States?
– I join with other honourable members tonight in raising a matter concerning section 1 14 of the Broadcasting and Television Act, which states that the licensees of commercial television stations are required, as far as possible, to use the services of Australians in the production and presentation of their programmes. Honourable members would be aware that since 1960 there have been requirements in the legislation designed to give meaning to the provision I have just mentioned. One requirement is that a specified percentage of programmes will be of Australian origin - this is, of course, now 50 per cent - and that during popular viewing times not less than a specified minimum of Australian programmes will be televised. This later requirement has progressively increased from 4 hours a 4-week period in 1960 to 18 hours a 4- week period in 1969. In addition, requirements which were introduced
In 1967 specified that television stations should televise an aggregate of at least 2 hours of drama as part of the 18 hours a 4-week period. I note that the report of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board for the year ended 30th June 1970 states, when discussing these matters:
The Board regards the production and presentation of Australian drama as particularly important. It has been strongly represented that steady development of this part of Australian programming is essential to the proper training of the country’s resources of writers, producers, directors, actors and technical staff in the Television Industry.
The report goes on to say that there is concern over the stability of the drama section of the entertainment industry, a stability necessary to ensure a steady improvement in both quality and quantity of production and also that the Board is currently reviewing its Australian content requirement. On the face of it, the Australian content requirements appear to be sound and reasonable.
Whilst one would hesitate to interfere with the rights of commercial television channels to decide what types of programmes they wish to present, how much they should spend on the programmes and where they should acquire the programmes, I believe that there is a good case to be made for the proposition that Australian television stations should present a balanced total programme which not only presents material portraying the life, customs and cultural mores of other countries, but which also presents material which reflects similar aspects of Australia’s national ethos. Only by so doing can the viewing public be exposed to a representative sample of life styles and cultural influences.
I believe the Broadcasting Control Board and the management of television stations agree with this proposition that Australian television stations have almost a moral obligation to foster local talent which after all should contribute significantly to the total cultural influences operating within this country. Should this talent not be sufficiently fostered, then culturally we are forced towards becoming totally imitative and I believe this to be undesirable. Having said this, we should look to see whether the policy of the Board is producing a desirable result.
I believe that whilst they are certainly a step in the right direction, the requirements I have already outlined do contain some aspects which lend themselves to close scrutiny to see how they are actually assisting and encouraging local talent. The requirement is for 50 per cent of total programmes to be of Australian origin - and before dealing with this I noted in the report that 4 of the 15 metropolitan commercial television stations did not reach that percentage. But to make up that 50 per cent requirement, various loadings are used which, through their provision, mean that the actual percentage of programmes of Australian . origin is much less. For example, programmes designated as being indigenous Australian drama are rated at 200. per cent - in other words, for every hour of viewing time, the station is credited with 2 hours of Australian content. Not only this, but if an indigenous drama programme . is re-run - in other words has done nothing to contribute further to the well-being and future of the Australian entertainment industry - it is again credited with a 200 per cent contribution, and there are at least 3 Australian productions being re-run and recredited at the moment.
We therefore have 2 questions which need careful attention. The first is: Should indigenous drama productions be credited with twice their running time in the first place? I doubt the wisdom of this. Secondly, should they be re-credited with twice their running time every time they are re-run?
With respect to this latter question I think this proposition is unwise and difficult to defend, simply because in rerunning the programmes the intention of the requirement - that is. to stimulate and foster local talent - is not being met.
Other Australian drama productions are credited with one and a half times their actual duration - and children’s programmes which are designed and produced in Australia in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 15 of the Television Programme Standards again receive credit for twice the actual duration. Obviously the questions directed to the crediting of indigenous drama productions apply to these programmes also. There is another provision which further works against the
Australian industry, and this is the provision that if programmes are produced in British Commonwealth countries they will receive credit as if they were Australian programmes for half their actual duration with a maximum credit of 5 per cent in any 28 day period.
Although I have not seen any actual figures, the number of British shows alone being shown on commercial television leads me to believe that the full 5 per cent must be taken up. This then means that, apart from anything else, Australian produced programmes would occupy only 45 per cent of programme time. I wonder how many Commonwealth countries - particularly Britain - encourage Australian television shows on their stations in a similar way. The type of programme also is of great significance. At present the legislation requires that at least 2 hours of Australian drama must be included in the 18 hours of Australian content during the peak viewing times of the 4-week periods. .1 believe that this requirement also should be questioned with a view to an increase in the requirement. It is accepted that dramatic productions utilise many more people, in the form of writers, directors, producers, actors, etc., than do activities such as sports telecasts. Whilst not wishing to denigrate for one moment the role and popularity of programmes featuring sporting events, I think it can be fairly argued that such programmes do not provide a full measure of cultural influence for the viewing public. These are aspects which the Board in its review is no doubt giving full consideration. There are many others also requiring investigation, such as the proposition to introduce some form of tariff protection for local television production, or the proposal that a certain percentage of the total financial outlay of Australian commercial television stations should be spent in Australia.
The essential thing is that there appear to be good grounds for the complaints by the local television entertainment industry that an insufficient slice of the large financial cake which keeps our television stations’ programmes going, is being retained in Australia. If one agrees that a strong, economic local entertainment industry - I use ‘entertainment industry’ in its broadest sense - should be our aim, then the complaints should be examined as quickly as possible and adjustments in the requirements, if found to be necessary, put into effect. I would hope also that once the examination at present being conducted into these matters is concluded, a complete account of the examination and the reasons supporting the various recommendations will be made available so that everyone will have the benefit of a meaningful assessment of the recommendations.
– Of course the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) is right in asserting the obligation of the Parliament and the Government to control the amount of public funds to be provided to the Australian Broadcasting Commission or, for that matter, to any other public authority. Where be was wrong was in directing not only a reduction in the total allocation of funds but also the programmes which should be cut. Once that was established - 1 am glad it has not been - then any independence which the ABC possessed would be at an end. I congratulate and commend the Postmaster-General for the decision to provide rural subscribers with an additional 15 miles of telephone line to be constructed and maintained by his Department. This is very important in rural areas, it is action which has been long deferral, but at last a decision has been taken. I take hope that other proposals which I advanced for the improvement of postal and telephone services in rural areas will be adopted by this Government, and 1 hope sooner rather than later.
The cogency of the arguments presented by the Postmaster-General in defending the increased rates of postage on magazines and other periodicals was very impressive. Taken from a strictly accountancy point of view 1 should say that it would be impossible to fault it. But the farther one goes into this matter the more one realises that there are anomalies and difficulties which can react adversely to the interests of Australia as a whole and to the interests of the Postal Department. Already we have the most unfortunate situation where more and more Australian books are being sent abroad to be printed. I am told on good business authority that if an Australian magazine is printed in New Zealand, not only can it be printed more cheaply but also it can be posted from New Zealand for 3c a copy whereas, with the new rates of postage on periodicals and magazines, it would cost 17c or 18c a copy to post in Australia. If we force Australian publishers into that position it will be very injurious to the Australian nation as a whole, but will it not be injurious also to the Australian Post Office which, in fact, will be carrying these magazines and periodicals throughout Australia for no revenue?
– We get revenue.
– But not nearly as much.
– We do not do all the work.
– If this material can be posted in New Zealand for 3c and if the Post Office charges1 8c for it to be posted in Australia obviously the Post Office must lose a great deal of revenue if the magazines are sent in bulk or printed in New Zealand and then posted from that country. I hope that the Government will have another look at this matter. Now that the postage rate on letters has been increased by 20 per cent - this is the second increase in so brief a period - will the Postmaster-General please restore the twice a day delivery, the absence of which is causing such inconvenience and, in fact, loss to very many people? If this service cannot be restored all over Australia, surely it can now be restored in the larger centres of population both in the metropolitan areas and in the country districts.
I turn now to a matter on which I have been corresponding with the PostmasterGeneral but chiefly with the Australian Broadcasting Control Board in increasingly bitter terms since June. I refer to the failure of television reception in the Araluen Valley which is not very far from Canberra. Because of alterations made to the television transmitter on the Wandera Mountain improved service has been given to a considerable part of the south coast, but the effect has been to destroy practically the entire television reception in the Araluen Valley. This is recognised by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. I have been in touch with that body by letter, by telephone and by many telegrams and eventually I received from the Board an assurance that temporary measures to restore the service in the Araluen Valley would be completed by the end of September. We are now half way through October and up till 2 days ago the reception In the Araluen Valley was worse than ever, if that is possible.
If the television service to which the people of Canberra or any other large centre of population had been accustomed over a number of years was suddenly cut off, why would it not be possible for the resources of the Postmaster-Generals Department to restore the service in less than 4 months? Why, just because a community is small, rural and isolated, should a less urgent view be taken of its needs? The people of the Araluen Valley, many of whom are elderly, have become accustomed to television. They rely on television very largely for their entertainment and leisure. That it has now been 4 months since the service broke down and that it has not yet been restored.I think, is a great reproach and I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether he will intervene in this matter and see what can be done quickly towards restoring that service. I appeal to him with great confidence because I acknowledge that he has acted swiftly on many matters I have taken to him and the result has been favourable to my constituents.
Finally, I refer to the transmission of Radio Australia’ programmes to Asia. This matter was mentioned by the honourable member for the Northern Territory (Mr Calder). According to my information the 2 transmitters built near Darwin should have been in operation many months ago. I do not know why they are not yet in operation. I do know that the result is that both America and China are gaining a very large share of the Asian listening audience. The transmitter at Shepparton is too weak these days to compete in the short wave broadcasting field. Radio Australia used to have a very large share of that listening audience. It is very important, lest we lose it altogether, that the 2 transmitters at Darwin, for whatever reason their operation has been held up, should be placed in operation as soon as possible.
Wheat - Education in the Australian Capital Territory- Urban Development
Motion (by Mr Hulme) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
– On 2nd October, in the course of a public meeting at Corowa, the Minister for Repatriation (Mr Holten) launched a personal attack on , my integrity. It was not the first time that he had done so. He also issued a challenge to me to spell out the policy of the Australian Labor Party on wheat. In a scurrilous personal attack he said:
This is not the first time I have challenged his accuracy and I repeat that many of his statements cannot be relied upon to be factual..
Last night, during the debate on the adjournment of the House, I accepted the challenge by the Minister and invited him to debate the matter with me in the chamber tonight. I am delighted to see that the Minister is now entering the chamber. The main point at issue with the Minister is, apparently, the Opposition’s policy on wheat. I will spell it out carefully for him. I am delighted that he is here to listen attentively. I will explain it very carefully for his benefit. I do so with the unanimous support not only of my colleagues present in the chamber but with the endorsement of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), the chairman and members of our parliamentary rural and resources committee and, indeed, the entire parliamentary Labor Party.
It is our policy to take in, and to pay the $1.10 first advance for all wheat within the national quota set by the Minister’s own Government for the 1969-70 season. I point out that in relation to the 1969-70 crop the Federal Treasurer (Mr Bury) assured me - I have his letter to this effect - that the money would be available. He said that he would make available the full sum of $440m earmarked to take in the national quota set by the Government itself. We did not reach the national quota. The Treasurer had money left over. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) and his colleagues refused to use the money earmarked for the national quota. Wheat growers and share farmers faced ruin as a result of the Government’s decision to impose wheat rationing in the middle of a season. But even when the national ration was not reached and although the’ money already was available from the Treasurer, the Government refused - and still refuses - to take in that wheat and to pay the first advance of $1.10 on the whole crop.
The Australian Labor Party has said that its policy is to take, in and to pay for all wheat within the national quota. This is a clear commitment and we stand by it. The same goes for this season. We would take in and pay for all wheat produced within the quota. The Minister and the Government know full well that Australia will not reach the national quota this year, for the second year in succession, yet they persist in heaping misery and restriction on wheat growers. They are the guilty men who have caused the crises in the countryside and they are trying to hide their guilt by hurling abuse at the Opposition.
Having clearly spelt out our policy for the Minister for Repatriation in this Parliament I invite him to withdraw and apologise for the scurrilous statements he made in a deliberate and personal way. This is not the first time that the Minister has been guilty of unparliamentary practice and personal attacks. He has soiled his office as a Minister of State by using that office to attack my personal integrity. The Parliament itself, through you, Mr Speaker, took him to task on 12th June and he was forced to withdraw his statements. They could easily have landed him in court if I had taken the action that many members felt was justified in view of the breach. But the Minister withdrew under orders the reflection on my credibility. I had hoped that he had learned his lesson. I had hoped that perhaps my .consideration in not proceeding against him might have led him to see the error of his ways. If the Minister is fully recovered from his earlier phobic reaction, then I invite him to do the right thing - accept that he was wrong, return to the days of his sporting youth and withdraw and apologise. If he is not recovered, then I commend him to the Department of Repatriation which he administers and perhaps he might seek some friendly advice for the phobic reaction which is marked in some people, by the way, by being thrown into a panic by anything from a toy balloon to perhaps the honourable member for Riverina.
My medical colleagues advise that it is possible the trouble is what is called in their parlance a reaction formation. In such cases the patient pretends to himself to possess motives that are the opposite of the real motives that are causing him anxiety. This could mean that be really likes the member for Riverina or his policies but that he has an anxiety reaction to accepting them. I only hope that any appeal tribunal consulted by the Minister does not dismiss the whole thing as being due to degenerative processes, as so often happens in such appeals. But if the Minister is well, then let him do the right thing and admit that he was wrong and apologise. If he is unwell then he should remain quiet and be guided by the good specialists in his Department. I might say that he will have our combined good wishes for his speedy recovery.
– The reason why the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) raises this matter is that I challenged him to produce an official document which showed that the Labor Party’s official policy on the 1969-70 wheat crop, was to take all wheat produced into storage and pay the $1.10 first advance on it, no matter how much was produced. I say that he has failed to meet this challenge because he has not produced an official document. Only last night in the House the honourable member for Dawson, his own colleague, rejected this take-it-all-in and payforit proposal by bis own statements.
– He did not.
– He did. He said that he supported paying a £1.10 first advance to wheat growers for wheat produced within the quota.
– Within the national quota.
– The honourable member has said repeatedly that the Labor Party’s policy was to take in all wheat produced - whether it be quota or non-quota wheat. He has said that the- wheat would be taken into storage and a first advance payment of $1.10 would be made. The honourable member for Dawson went on to say - and it is well for the farming community to hear this repeated and to remember it.It was in a speech he made in March this year:
It was obvious to everybody, to the industry and to the Government, that last year there would be large sums of. money not repaid in respect of the 1968-69 harvest. The Government then made another advance of $440m.
That was for the 1969-70 harvest, but only for quota wheat. Actually, the honourable member for Dawson is inaccurate in that the Government does not make an advance at all. What is involved is the limit imposed by the Treasury on the Reserve Bank on the advance to the Australian Wheat Board. Then the honourable member for Dawson went on to say: in March 1970, we see a total of $440m as the first advance for last year’s crop . . .
This is not correct. The actual figure involved is $400m, which is $40m less than that mentioned by the honourable member for Dawson. This is worth remembering because be is the official spokesman on these matters for the Opposition. He said that to arrive at the outstanding debt of the wheatgrowers we must add the $250m not repaid on the 1 968-69 crop. He went on to say:
This amounts to a loan-
That is, to the Wheat Board - of from $650m to $700m. .
That takes in the $400m. So, the honourable member for Dawson was referring to the $650m or the $700m. Now comes the significant point for the primary producers.
The disturbing thing-
This is the Labor Party’s official spokesman on primary industry who said this -
– When did he say this?
– He said this in March this year. He said:
The disturbing thing of which Parliament must take note is the very serious economic problem . . of making large advances to anyone when that money has been spent and the product for which it has been advanced hag not been sold.
– Mr Speaker, I am wondering whether the Standing Orders have been altered to allow an honourable member, in the adjournment debate tonight, to debate an earlier debate, because that is what the Minister is doing.
– Order! No point of order is involved because the honourable member for Hindmarsh only said that he was wondering about something.
– Then I raise a point of order. I submit that the Standing Orders prevent an honourable member from debating now a debate that has already concluded.
-Order! It has been the custom in this House for many years now that if any honourable member refers to a debate that has been concluded in the House previously without introducing new matter he is out of order. But the Minister is now emphasising his point in relation to the previous debate and has introduced new matter into the adjournment debate. Let me say that if honourable members want the Standing Orders to be interpreted precisely and correctly from time to time in relation to adjournment debates, they will have very restricted adjournment debates.
– Thank you, Mr Speaker. The honourable member for Dawson went on to say:
The Opposition gives warning that if this state of affairs arises next year-
That is in March 1971 - very serious consideration must be given to it. The Government has now been warned about what can happen by being a guarantor for large proportions of wheat that cannot be sold at this point of time.
The honourable member for Riverina has constantly misled the people by giving the impression and making statements that the Labor Party would take in all wheat, whether quota or over-quota. Let me list some of the points against payment for over-quota wheat. It is contrary to the concept and philosophy of quotas. It has been specifically rejected by the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation. It would take away the restraint of overquota production. It would be a breach of faith with growers who deliberately curtailed production because of quotas. It would put an extra burden on storage. It would mean a further indebtedness of the Wheat Board, whose indebtedness is already extremely high. It would mean a further debt of about $50m, which in turn would mean an interest charge of $2.5m. The oft repeated statement of the honourable member for Riverina, namely, that the Labor Party would take in all wheat no matter whether it was within the quota or outside the quota and pay $1.10 first advance, was certainly rejected by the honourable member for Dawson in his comments last night, and also by the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation right across Australia.
Let me pass on to the Labor Party’s suitability to represent the rural community. How could the farmers place any confidence in that Party to continue or in the ability of that Party to continue or to add to the large amount of money allocated quite justifiably in order to assist the farming community? About 3 weeks ago the Labor Party had a Party meeting at which it was deadlocked in a vote on whether there should even be a debate on rural matters. If the Party is deadlocked in a vote on whether there should be a debate on rural matters, how would it be if it was asked for millions of dollars for primary industry? Let us take the statement regarding wheat and the $1.10 payment, which was made by Mr Young, the Federal Secretary of the Australian Labor Party and the man running the Victorian Branch of the Labor Party. He said this year:
While the Government continued to pay the $1.10 advance payment to wheat growers which was more than the wheat could be sold for, it means that workers as taxpayers were subsidising farmers to an average of $10,000 per year income.
The farmers cannot expect a lot of support from the Federal Secretary of the Australian Labor Party. Mr Hawke had this to say:
The cost-price squeeze argument amounted to little more than a plea for maintenance of a rural production structure which includes a substantial number of inefficient marginal producers without whom we would all be better off.
A lot of help they can expect from Mr Hawke. These statements should be known and remembered by every farmer and country businessman throughout Australia.
Facts have been distorted to suit people’s purposes. Let the country people remember that when they are in trouble the Country Party-Liberal Party coalition Government is more important than ever to the farmers. Let them remember, as I have pointed out tonight, that there are some very powerful Labor Party figures ranged against the country people in many ways. When the country people are in trouble the Country Party-Liberal Party coalition Government is more important than ever.
– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– As one of the Labor Party, yes.
– As one of the Labor Party, yes, I do.
-The honourable member must claim to be personally misrepresented.
– Yes. certainly. It is quite untrue to say that the Labor Party was deadlocked on rural matters a few weeks ago, because I happen to know that this is a complete untruth.
– Order! The honourable member was not personally misrepresented.
– I raise a point of order.
-Does the honourable member for Dawson claim to have been personally misrepresented?
– No, 1 do not.
– What is your point of order?
– The point of order is that the Minister made a statement which is completely untrue.
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. The question shall not be debated.
– I wish to say a few words about the recent announcement by the Minister for Education and Science (Mr N. H. Bowen) that the Government will not be holding an inquiry into education in the Australian Capital Territory at this stage. I emphasise the words ‘at this stage’, because it does seem to me that those words were added to the statement only to enable the Government to try to avoid the criticism that it knew or must have known would follow from its decision. It is well known that for many years there have been persistent demands for an inquiry to be held into education in the Australian Capita] Territory. In 1967 a working party led by Sir George Currie, a former vice-chancellor of the Universities of Queensland and Western Australia, investigated the problem and recommended that such an inquiry be set up.
The Department of the Interior thought enough of the work of the Currie Committee that it took up the report and arranged for its publication and distribution. The report subsequently became known as the Currie Report and was favourably commented upon by everyone who read and studied it. Since then every responsible body associated with education in the Australian Capital Territory - there are many of them here, because education is a very live issue in the Territory - has demanded that an inquiry be held. Now the Government has said that we shall not have an inquiry. At first the Minister gave no reasons for the Government’s decision. When he was forced to give an explanation by the outcry that resulted in the local Press and the correspondents’ columns of the ‘Canberra Times’ he then proceeded to make it clear that he had completely misunderstood the whole nature of the demand for an inquiry. He seems to have thought that it was limited to the form, the structure and the timing of having a separate education authority set up in the Australian Capital Territory that would set us apart from the system of New South Wales with which we have been allowed to linger for so long. This was not so. lt was only a small part of what it was hoped the inquiry would investigate. The real subject crf the inquiry was hoped to be the pursuit of no less an ambitious and imaginative project than what could be an ideal system of education.
We hear a lot about a crisis in Australian education. We hear a lot from Government supporters about State rights. They say that education is essentially a State matter and not a matter for the Commonwealth. These answers to criticisms allow the Government partially to escape its responsibility for what is happening to education in the States, but they do not allow the Government to escape from its responsibilities for education in the Territories. Of all types of human undertaking education has been the slowest to respond to change in this century of change. The complexity of the learning process itself is a process very vaguely understood by comparison with relatively simple matters like sending a man to the moon or building aircraft like the Fill. There is much confusion in our thinking and no real thought is being given to what goes on in our schools. Time and time again we fall back on the most convenient solution, which is simply to rely on the old ways of doing things, occasionally adding a gimmick, a mechanical aid or a slightly revised curriculum as a gesture that we are up to date with the times.
The ACT offers a unique opportunity to any Australian government to break new ground; to be a pioneer in education and research; to lead the way instead of merely drifting along and occasionally being forced to do something to meet a sudden and seemingly unforeseen contingency. Such a contingency is the recent refusal of the South Australian Government to continue to staff Commonwealth schools in the Northern Territory. That forced the Commonwealth Government suddenly to set up a Commonwealth teaching service, but without any carefully thought out plan to further the Commonwealth educational services. The Commonwealth Government has thrown away a wonderful opportunity. It probably did not even know that the opportunity was there. Letters to the Press and the editorials of the ‘Canberra Times’ showed that the people of the ACT knew it was there and know that they have lost an opportunity to lead the way in education for the whole of Australia, and to set a standard which the States would follow. lt was partly because the Government knew that it would be embarrassed by the States if it did make any progress in education that it decided to do nothing. Of course, at a lower level, and away from the search for an ideal system of education, is the factual and shocking situation in our secondary schools today. It is as bad in the ACT as anywhere. I will describe a few of the symptoms of this situation. In Deakin High School so far this year 23 forms have had 4 or more teachers a subject for a form. Many of these forms have to prepare for the School Certificate and Higher School Certificate examinations. It is in the Sth and 6th forms that the problem is particularly acute. Students who are really young men and women are required to attend a school as a kind of child minding centre, with no teachers to instruct them. The school is just to keep them away from home.
There is more discontent in our schools than ever before. The morale amongst students is worse than it has ever been. Why? An inquiry might have helped us to find out. Many questions have to be answered. Should we break our high schools in two? Are they too big and impersonal? Should there be a junior high school up to 4th form, and a senior high school for the 5th and 6th forms? The work done by students in 5th and 6th forms is very similar to first year university work of a few years ago. How do we make our schools more relevant to modern day living? How do we ensure that they provide a stimulating and progressive type of activity so that the curriculum is exciting and meaningful to the young? How do we overcome the boredom and the alienation that are such features of school life today? How do we free our teachers from the over-centralised and rigid bureaucracy that has characterised all Australian educational systems since the 1880s? Why is the resignation rate for teachers running at about 13 per cent?
I know of one group of 229 teachers who were appointed in 1967. In 1970 only 121 of them are still teaching. The turnover of teachers is about 30 per cent. What good is it to recruit teachers by offering them scholarships for teacher training if you are to lose them to industry within a few years? That does not help education. All it does is subsidise industry or commerce.
I believe that the search for the solution must be done in the open. It should be done with the full participation of all interested parties. We should all know what is happening and what can be done about it. It should not be done behind closed departmental doors. It should not be done for us by people who think that they know what is best for us. That is the Liberal Party way. It has been its way for some 20-odd years. Of course, I do not suggest that the problems are easy of solution. They are not. But it is for that very reason that a full scale public inquiry should be held and should be held soon. It would be a light and a beacon for the whole of Australian education.
Why has an inquiry been refused? I believe that it is because of a combination of many factors. Firstly, I think that the Government did not understand the problem. It did not even recognise that it was there. Secondly, it would not be sympathetic even if it did understand the problem. Thirdly, the Government is so bound up with the failings in the State educational systems that it would be terribly embarrassed if it tried to improve the Commonwealth system of education because the States would cry out: “What about us?’ In his attempt to explain the dilemma, the Minister for Education and Science tied himself in a knot. If I can paraphrase his statement, the Minister said: ‘The ACT should not have an inquiry into how its present system of education should be changed until after the Government has changed it*. The people of the ACT are very disappointed. Many of them - I repeat, many of them - are quite angry. I believe that, when the full story on education slowly comes out, the people of Australia also will be angry.
- Mr Speaker, I wish to speak tonight broadly on town planning and the urban sprawl, particularly as it affects New South Wales. The inherent disability not only in planning but also in almost every section and segment of our way of life is not only influenced but also dictated by overseas trends and personages. For most projects to have the seal of efficiency, to be modern and to be abreast of the times, it is necessary - yea. demanded - that the projects have the imprimatur of the imported stamped thereon. The Snowy Mountains scheme is one of the few exceptions. Imported ideas, imported personages and imported systems are the order of the day. Surely it is about time that we established our own identity as Australia and Australians.
Our own planning is dictated and governed by what is done overseas. What a glorious opportunity we had of setting an example to the world by establishing beautiful cities instead of propping up old cities and wasting millions of dollars in expanding them into concrete jungles of ugliness-
– Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. Why is it that all the Country Party members have walked out on the honourable member?
-Order! The point of order is without substance. I would remind the House that frivolous points of order are an abuse of the Standing Orders.
– We have propped up old cities and wasted millions of dollars in expanding them into concrete jungles of ugliness as habitats for our people, forcing them to travel hundreds of miles weekly to their places of employment. Bribery and corruption have played a part in this wretched mess. Secrecy and star chamber methods have aided and abetted the situation.
The position has deteriorated to such an extent in the Sydney area that our fellow Australians - unfortunately, the low wage earner and the married couple with 4 or 5 children - are not able to purchase a lot of land under $10,000. This situation came about by the establishment of the Cumberland County Council which, when it became bogged down with inefficiency and wrong doing - not by the executive officers thereof but by the higher up and the lesser people who were in a position to get advance information - was superseded by the State Planning Authority. Sad to relate, the Liberal and Country Parties did not abolish it immediately after they were elected to office in New South Wales. Because huge grotesque conglomerations called cities are being created overseas, we follow suit. I will expand this further next week.
Tonight I want to deal with the operations of the Sydney Water Board, an autonomous authority which has failed to do what it was created to do, that is to supply water, sewerage and drainage services in the Sydney metropolitan area. Instead it has hoarded $132m and today has gone on the market for an unspecified amount. It will take all it can get and still refuse to extend the services that it should supply. Developers have been called on to provide the water reticulation services, which means that the purchasers of building lots have to pay for those services as well as being required to pay the some rates as those who had the services made available to them free of charge. The Sydney Water Board dictates the whole of the development of the Sydney metropolitan area. Tt would probably state that all of its staff and resources are utilised fully and therefore it cannot extend its services further.
That may be so, but it could call in outside contractors. With $132m now in reserve and in investments it could service large non-sewered areas within the next 12 months. Larger areas could be serviced at less cost. Possibly that is one of the reasons why it does not wish to use the $132m.
It has been suggested that the $160m Shoalhaven dam project should be financed in part from this reserve of $132m. If this dam is necessary - it would not have been necessary if new cities had been created - it should be built by the use of loan funds and not from revenue or from the reserves that the Board now holds. The Melbourne Board of Works builds roads and is responsible for planning. The Sydney Water Board is not responsible for planning, but it is a self appointed dictator of planning, and not a benevolent dictator at that. I have explained to the House tonight that the Sydney Water Board is going on the market and offering interest rates of 7 per cent, 7.2 per cent and 7.25 per cent when it has in reserve $132m and when many areas in Sydney, especially in the western suburbs, do not have sewerage available. The Melbourne Board of Works has a reserve of $5m and an investment of $3m. It builds roads and also is responsible for planning. The Sydney Water Board does nothing but prevent the advancement of the metropolitan area. Local government is being hampered by the Board’s scheme because, without its approval, the State Planning Authority and local government in the Sydney area cannot proceed with the progressive works that they would like to do for the development of the outer areas because of the embargo by the Sydney Water Board. It is about time that the matter was brought clearly to public notice because many people-
-Order! It being 12 o’clock midnight, the House stands adjourned until 10.30 a.m. this day.
House adjourned at 12 midnight.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Minister for Health, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The information below was obtained from the relevant Stale and Territory Hospital authorities. Due to the difficulty in applying in each State a uniform definition of the term ‘senior public hospital administrator’, the information was requested only in respect of those persons engaged in the administration of public hospitals having 400 beds or over, or where, due to cither its geographical location or other special status, a smaller hospital is regarded as a ‘major’ hospital.
and (2) It is mentioned that ‘senior public hospital administrators’ has been taken as referring to General Superintendents, Chief Executive Officers and Secretaries supervising the general administration of a public hospital, as distinct from say, a clinical superintendent or medical registrar. The number of these administrators, together with the percentage of them who hold tertiary non-medical qualifications in hospital administration, is as follows:
New South Wales, 10 (percentage not available)
Victoria, 1 (100 per cent)
Queensland, 5 (80 per cent)
South Australia, Nil
Western Australia. Nil
Tasmania, 5 (80 per cent)
Australian Capital Territory, 1 (0 per cent)
Northern Territory, 2 (0 per cent).
New South Wales, 61 (percentage not available)
Victoria, 29 (20.6 per cent)
Queensland, S3 (0 per cent)
South Australia, 65 (3 per cent)
Western Australia, 5 (0 per cent)
Tasmania, 7 (0 per cent)
Australian Capital Territory, 1 (0 per cent)
Northern Territory, 1 (0 per cent).
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
On what occasions had Australian forces joined in exercises with (a) Malaysian and (b) Singaporean forces between his predecessor’s answer to me on 28th November 1968 and Bersatu Padu in July 1970.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Air, upon notice:
– The Minister for Air has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Air, upon notice: (!) Did recommendation No. 9 of the Interim Report from the House of Representatives Select Committee on Aircraft Noise presented in June 1970 recommend that the Department of Air and the Department of Civil Aviation introduce a standard method of recording complaint information as outlined in the text.
– The Minister for Air has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
Civil Aviation: Aircraft Noise (Question No. 1504)
Mr Morrison to ask the Minister representing the Minister for Air, upon notice:
Did recommendation No. 14 of the Interim Report from the House of Representatives Select Committee on Aircraft Noise presented in June 1970 recommend that the Air Co-ordinating Committee examine the feasibility of reallocating air space to facilitate the re-routing of flight paths to minimise noise over residential areas.
If so, what steps (a) have been taken and (b) are intended to be taken by the Department of Air to implement this recommendation.
– The Minister for Air has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:
– The answer lo the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Concurrently with the reassessment of the ASB, studies undertaken by the RAAF have indicated that it is possible to carry out advanced supersonic training of RAAF pilots with specially equipped dual control Mirage HID aircraft. This aircraft, of which the RAAF possess 10, has proved to be most efficient and economic for training and direct conversion from the Macchi to the Mirage. A small additional requirement for Mirage HID trainers is under consideration.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Housing, upon notice:
– The Minister for Housing has provided the following answers to the honourable member’s question:
In each State in each financial year since the inception of the Home Savings Grant Scheme on 20th July 1964 up to 30th June 1970 are shown in the table below.
Many of the grants less than the maximum of $500 are the result of wholly successful applications, the grant paid representing $1 for each $3 of savings claimed.
asked the’ Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
I am informed that at least 12 countries are contributing aid to Indonesia within the context of the Inter-Governmental Group for Indonesia.
Details are listed below of estimated aid commitments by these donor countries. Comparable figures are not available for commitments by other countries including the Soviet Union. It should be noted that commitments for a particular year are frequentlynot the same as aid actually spent in that year.
asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
It will be the mutual responsibility of individual unions and employers to give effect to the guidelines in one of the following ways:
asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
Mr Snedden: The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Darwin: Population (Question No. 1804)
asked the Minister for the
Interior, upon notice:
What were the results of the recent population count of Darwin including information relating to caravans (Hansard, 16 September 1970, page 1252).
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Bureau of Census and Statistics has released the following preliminary results of the population count of the Greater Darwin Area at 30 June 1970:
The figures show an increase of 11,151 persons over the census total of 30 June 1966, i.e. an annual average rate of increase of 10.94 per cent.
Details relating to caravans are not yet available. I shall see that the information is provided to the honourable member when it is available.
asked the Minister represent ing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has provided the following answer to the honourable member’s question:
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
What barriers exist to the employment in Commonwealth departments and statutory bodies of (a) the physically impaired who are not occupationally handicapped when assigned to the right jobs, (b) the mentally restored whose only handicap is that they once suffered an emotional illness, (c) the mentally retarded who can demonstrate the ability to perforin the simple and routine tasks that need doing in all organisations.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Section 34 of the Public Service Act 1922-1968 provides that - “A person is not eligible for appointment to the Commonwealth Service unless -
The existing medical standards for permanent appointment to the Commonwealth Service will, in certain circumstances, admit people in the categories referred to in the honourable member’s question.
These standards reflect -
The standards are being reviewed continually to take account of developments in the diagnosis and control of medical conditions. The Provident Account established under the Superannuation Act 1922-1969 facilitates the appointment of those who cannot meet the higher standards required for admission to the full pension scheme of the Superannuation Fund. Persons accepted for the Provident Account may subsequently apply for transfer to the Superannuation Fund as provided for in the Superannuation Act1922- 1969. Applicants for temporary employment are not normally required to undergo a medical examination. Medical examination may be required for employment in certain occupations which demand a particular standard of medical fitness or where particular types of medical unfitness could expose an employee or others to risk.”
The only statutory body falling within my ministerial responsibility not covered by the Public Service Board’s adviceis the Institute of Aboriginal Affaire. Section 21 of the Australian Aboriginal Institute of Studies Act1964- 1966 prescribes that terms and conditions of employment are to be determined by the
Council. These terms and conditions do not contain barriers to the employment of those physically handicapped those who have recovered from mental illness or who are mentally retarded.
With respect to the Australian Institute for Aboriginal Affairs no persons in the categories referred to in part (1) of the question are employed by the Institute.
My Government believes that it is in the interests of the nation as well as the handicapped that people suffering such disabilities be part of the work force. The Government expressed this concern in three specific measures in the recent Budget:
These measures are, of course, additional to the existing and extensive efforts (through the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service in close liaison with the Commonwealth Employment Service) to place handicapped persons in appropriate employment. I am sure that, for the most part, all employers recognise that ability to do a job is the important factor when considering the handicapped for employment.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The Public Service Board has informed me that the answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The Public Service Board has informed me that the answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
OFFICERS OF THE FIRST DIVISION
A rate of $28 per day is paid to First Division Officers
(2) (c) Daily rates of travelling allowance paid to officers of the First Division of the Commonwealth Public Service travelling overseas on official business on short term missions are as follows:
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The Public Service Board has informed me that the answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The Public Service Board has informed me that the answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Daily rates of travelling allowances for public servants stationed in the following countries were last varied as shown -
The rate existing prior to the date of variation and the amount of increase are as follows -
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: (1), (2) and (3) Preliminary investigations have been made- regarding the possibilities of improving the grade of television service which is available in the Mullewa area. I am not in a position at this stage to indicate the likely outcome of the investigations. Mullewa is one of a considerable number of areas throughout the Commonwealth which has to be investigated. In view of the heavy commitment of both the Australian Broadcasting Control Board and my Department in extending the television services it would be some time before a decision is reached, but I will bring the honourable member’s interest to the notice of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board.
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Does any Commonwealth organisation exist to foster (a) decentralisation by close co-operation with State organisations set up for this purpose and (b) the balanced development of suitable regional areas to ensure that gainful employment opportunities are available, not only to adult males, but also to adult females and the young people of both sexes.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Decentralisation and regional development is primarily a State responsibility under the Constitution. However, the Commonwealth and the States are co-operating in the work of an
Officials Committee which is undertaking a joint pooling of knowledge about and study of the many issues involved in decentralisation. Moreover, the Commonwealth has itself implemented a number of measures which promote decentralisation, though these are not administered by any single Commonwealth organisation.
Examples of Commonwealth measures include: a broad range of assistance to the ‘naturally decentralised’ rural industries (bounty/subsidy payments, tax concessions, marketing arrangements, special rural credit); the financing (in whole or in part) of a large number of development projects, such as the Snowy Mountains Scheme, Rail Standardisation, the Townsville-MountIsa railway, Beef Roads, the Brigalow Scheme and the Ord River Scheme; provision of financial assistance by way of loans to help finance the construction of a thermal power station at Gladstone; the establishment of Commonwealth defence installations at Salisbury and Edinburgh leading to growth of Elizabeth and Commonwealth investment at Woomera; provision of finance for rural roads under the Commonwealth Aid Roads arrangements; a petroleum price equalisation scheme which reduces price differentials between metropolitan and rural areas; provision of mining and mineral exploration incentives; and financial assistance for travel by rural workers under certain circumstances.
Public Service Board (Question No.1897)
asked the Prime
Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Public Service: Pay Claims (Question No. 1898)
asked the Prime
Minister, upon notice:
What are the occasions during the past five years on which a permanent bead of a department has taken the initiative in recommending to the Public Service Board a change in the salary levels for a particular staff group within his department.
– The Public Service Board has informed me that the answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Some53 pay claims have been lodged by Permanent Heads since July 1965. A pay claim is defined for this purpose as a claim seeking specific variation in the rates of pay of a designation or a designation group.
A pay claim does not therefore includethe very large number of reports by Permanent Heads under section 29 of the Public Service Act 1922-1968 seeking reclassification of individual positions or groups of positions to higher levels within the appropriate classification structure. Aslo, it does not include oral representations by Permanent Heads or written representations of a general nature in relation to levels of salaries.
Public Service Board (Question No. 1900)
asked the Prime
Minister, upon notice:
-I am informed by the Pub lic Service Board that the answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
I have recently received from the Australian Broadcasting Control Board a report which covers a range of very important matters associated with the introduction of colour television and closely examines all of the issues involved. The Government will be considering the matter in the near future and I will at the appropriate time make a statement to the House.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 October 1970, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1970/19701015_reps_27_hor70/>.