27th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. Sir William Aston) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of New South Wales respectfully showeth.
That due to 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 average weekly male earnings, plus supplementary assistance in accordance with Australian Council of Trade Unions policy and by so doing give a reasonably moderate pension.
The average weekly earnings for adult male unit wage and salary earner means the figures issued from time to time by the Commonwealth Statistician and published quarterly.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that 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 ot the House of Representatives in Parliament assem-bled. The humble petition of citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully sheweth: Whereas
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 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 honourable 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 of 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 arid Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth:
That there is a crisis in Aboriginal welfare in the South West Land Division of Western Australia resulting from a population explosion, poor housing and hygiene and unemployment and unemployability.
That there is a need to phase out native reserves in the South West Land Division of Western Australia over the next 3 years.
That town housing must be provided for all Aboriginal families where the bread winner has permanent employment or an age or invalid pension entitlement.
That such housing must be supported by the appointment of permanent ‘home-maker’ assistance in the ratio of one home-maker to every 8 houses or part thereof.
That incentives of housing, ‘home-maker’ services and training facilities must be created in centres of potential employment for those who are currently unemployed or unemployable.
That insufficient State or Federal assistance has been made available to meet these requirements.
That adequate finance to meet these requirements can only be provided by the Commonwealth Government.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will give earnest consideration to this most important and vital matter.
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 Australia respectfully showeth:
That there is a crisis in Aboriginal Welfare in the South West Land Division of Western Australia resulting from a population explosion, poor housing and hygiene and unemployment and unemployability.
That there is a need to phase out Native Reserves in the South West Land Division of Western Australia over the next 3 years.
That town housing must be provided for all Aboriginal families where the bread winner has permanent employment or an age or invalid pension entitlement.
That such housing must be supported by the appointment of permanent ‘Home-maker’ assistance in the ratio of one home-maker to every 8 houses or part thereof.
That incentives of housing, ‘home-maker’ services and training facilities must be created in centres of potential employment tor those who are currently unemployed or unemployable.
That insufficient State or Federal assistance has been made available to meet these requirements.
That adequate finance to meet these requirements can only be provided by the Commonwealth government.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will give earnest consideration to this most vital matter.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will every pray.
– I ask the Prime Minister: Has Mr Dunshea, the Chairman of Dunlops, yet contacted you or do you expect him to do so, concerning the rigging of prices for the man in the street, which is known as retail price maintenance? What are your Government’s views concerning retail price maintenance which you have passed on or will pass on to your Government’s big business masters? In view of the fact that every comparable government elsewhere in the world has legislation preventing this ‘form of price rigging, why has not the Government with which you have been associated for 20 years done anything about the problem, thus forcing others to do so?
– Mr Dunshea has been in touch with me and has informed me of the problem. I have asked the Minister for Labour and National Service to ensure that discussions take place between his officials and Mr Dunshea.
I want to point out to the honourable gentleman that Dunlops Ltd is operating within the law and consequently is entitled to the protection of the law if that can be achieved. I also want to point out and emphasise that, as my colleague the Minister for Labour and National Service mentioned yesterday, what is happening in this case is that the trade union movement is being exploited for commercial purposes by Mr Hawke.
It happens to be an extraordinary and deplorable fact that the great trade union movement of this country, which should have the ideal of protecting the wages structure, particularly that of the lower income earner, should be blatantly used by Mr Hawke for his own purpose, that is, to aggrandise the company he has taken over to compete with others in retail trade.
– I address a question to the Minister for Customs and Excise as the Minister responsible for administering the crude oil arrangements in Australia. I ask him to what extent world prices of oil will be increased in 1971. How is Australia affected by the international oil agreement signed in Teheran recently and the pressures by Indonesia to have prices of crude oil from its sources of production increased? Will motor fuel prices in Australia be increased as a result of these operations?
– 1 think it was on 15th February that the Persian Gulf countries imposed rather massive increases on the prices of overseas crude oil. There was an immediate lift of 33 Australian cents a barrel, plus 2i per cent, plus 5c as from 1st June next; and then there is to be an increase of 2i per cent, plus 5c from 1st January each year from 1973 to 1975. This will result in an immediate increase of 3c a barrel , plus, but if it is based on the parity price which this Government negotiated for indigenous crude oil in October 1968, which was $1.89 a barrel, it will mean that by 1975 there will have been an increase of 76c a barrel in the price of overseas crude oil compared with the price that was set for Bass Strait Australian crudes in October 1968 by this Government. I think that vindicates the Government’s decision that it was a fair price, taken against the advice of the Opposition at the time.
The matter is even more interesting when one looks at the import savings for Australia from the supply of crude oil from Australian sources. At present, when we are about 50 per cent sufficient in oil, based on overseas crude oil prices we are saving about $225m a year in our overseas balances. Within a month or two, when it is hoped that the Kingfish well will come on-stream, the savings for Australia in our overseas balances will rise to about S325m a year. I cannot resist making the comment that this is a direct result of the Government’s oil exploration policies in which the honourable member who directed the question to me has been interested for 10 years or more. Those policies were bitterly opposed by the Opposition at the time the Government pursued them.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question supplementary to that asked of him by the honourable member for Adelaide. Since the pending High Court decision on the Trade Practices Act and the resale price maintenance legislation which the Attorney-General forecast yesterday are likely to be too late to affect the current dispute between Bourke’s, the Australian Council of Trade Unions store, and the Dunlop companies, 1 ask the right honourable gentleman whether the services of the Commissioner of Trade Practices can be made available as an arbitrator to determine whether in this case managed prices sustained by the withholding of supplies are contrary to the public interest. I also ask whether he has ever conferred with any of the present Premiers on the restrictive practices legislation which the Menzies Government promised in March I960, and in particular on the steps to eliminate resale price maintenance which Sir Garfield Barwick detailed several times when Attorney-General and which Sir Robert Menzies promised to introduce during the 1961 and 1963 election campaigns.
– As to the last part of the honourable gentleman’s question it should be obvious to him that as T have been Prime Minister for only a few days of course I could- not have consulted the Premiers. 1 know that he has never been in office or in the position of a Minister of State.
-Order! There are far too many interjections coming from both sides of the chamber. Honourable members complain that we do not fit a - sufficient number of questions into question time. They also complain about the length of questions and answers. At the same time they are not enabling the House to be conducted in a correct and proper manner. I ask honourable members to refrain from interjecting while questions are being asked and answered.
– The second point I want to make relates to the first part of the honourable gentleman’s question. As he suggests that legislation relating to retail price maintenance should be introduced it is illogical for him to ask that the Commissioner of Trade Practices and I should discuss this problem because, as the law exists, the Commissioner would not be able to take any action whatsoever. The third point I make is that the honourable gentleman completely misrepresented my colleague, the Attorney-General. The Attorney-General did not say that we would be introducing any such legislation. He did say that a submission was before the Government. That submission will be considered within the course of the next few weeks.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise who yesterday told the House that by-law treatment of components for commercial motor vehicles is to be altered next October. Will the proposed change tend to benefit the component manufacturers at the expense’ of the transport industry generally? Does the Minister think that so important a decision should at least go to Cabinet or to the Tariff Board so that we can be sure that mature consideration has been given to such a serious subject. In saying that I am not in any way reflecting on the ability of the Minister.
– My answer to both questions asked by the honourable member is Yes’. The cancellation of by-law will be to the advantage of the component manufacturers, vis-a-vis the costs of commercial vehicles, but only to the extent of the tariffs applicable to component parts of commercial motor vehicles, as laid down by this Parliament. As I stated yesterday in answer to a question asked by the Leader of the Opposition, I am compelled by the law of this Parliament to cancel by-laws when suitable equivalent goods are reasonably available in Australia.
The second prong of the honourable members question was whether this matter should go to Cabinet. I firmly believe it should. As I said yesterday, the proposal will not be implemented until 1st October 1971. A submission is presently before Cabinet. I believe it is quite proper for all these matters to go before Cabinet. It is not a matter involving only a pure administration of the law. The implications of this proposal which might have a fundamental effect on other industries should be considered by the Cabinet. In this particular case I believe that the action we have taken is justified notwithstanding that the tariffs applicable are only 5 years old, having, been fixed in 1965. As the honourable gentleman would know, there are many items in the tariff schedule which have been there perhaps since federation. In those cases there is an even more unanswerable case for matters like this to go to Cabinet.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether negotiations with the United States Government on the provision of an Omega navigation facility in Australia have been concluded. If so, will the Prime Minister confirm that a site for the facility has been selected on the Forth River in the north-west of Tasmania? When will details of the agreement with the United States Government be announced and will the agreement be tabled in this House? When will construction work on the Omega site begin?
– Negotiations have taken place between the United States and Australian governments on an Omega installation to guide international shipping and other kinds of transport. We have agreed with the United States that a station should be established somewhere in the vicinity of Bass Strait but as yet the precise location has not been decided. I believe it will make a very valuable contribution to navigation and represent a very valuable example of co-operation between the United States and Australia. As soon as I have precise information which I can give the House I will do so.
– Will the Minister for Primary Industry confer with his colleague, the Minister for Education and Science, with the object of having the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research
Organisation investigate the pest control method of genetic self-destruction, recently perfected by Professor Hannes Laven at the Genetics Institute, of Mainz University in West Germany and examine the possibility of applying the same method of control towards the eventual elimination of the beef industry’s greatest scourge, the cattle tick?
– I understand that quite a deal of work on genetic manipulation has been done in Australia by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and individual research departments of the various veterinary schools in universities. The honourable member will be aware that the parasite to which he referred has a slightly different life cycle from, for example, that of a blowfly. The position with sheep is such that if it is possible to release sterile male blowflies one can prevent the maggots themselves hatching and consequently prevent the damage which would be done whereas, 1 understand, if one were to release sterile male ticks the parasite would still attach itself to the carcass of the beast and consequently the parasitic influence would still be as great. The problem of genetic manipulation is therefore not one which can be easily resolved. Nonetheless a great deal of work is being undertaken in this field. I am not aware of the particular research to which the honourable member referred, but I believe that there is an avenue - certainly as far as blowfly damage to sheep is concerned, if not cattle tick damage - for very considerable advances in this field.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. I accept the brevity of his tenure of office and hope that it stays that way.
-Order! The honourable member is out of order in making comments.
– I am sorry, Sir. Will the Prime Minister admit that the support of that well-known Melbourne retailer, Mr Bob Hawke, gives him a very powerful ally indeed in his fight against inflation? Will he admit that the Dunlop group of companies is in favour of increased prices and that Mr Hawke is in favour of lower prices in the fight against rising prices? How can the Prime Minister justify not supporting the work of Mr Hawke on this issue, no matter what other difficulties he may have with that very estimable gentleman?
– I do not think that my hopes will be as short-lived as the hopes of the honourable member were when he came back from Cambodia and said that the operations there were equivalent to the operations of the Germans in Belgium. I welcome the honourable member’s question. I wish to put 4 propositions to him in reply to his question about Mr Hawke. First, it should be remembered that if strikes, which are largely due to the operations of the left wing trade union movement supported by Mr Hawke, cause a loss of well over 2 million man days a year, this must affect productivity and it must therefore affect the capacity to pay wages and the standard of living of all but the very strong sections of the Australian community. In other words, it must affect the pensioners, it must affect the export industries and it must affect all those people who do not have a very strong base from which to operate. The second proposition is that the Australian Labor Party has to ask itself and answer this question: Does it believe in the system of arbitration? My colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service, pointed out yesterday what was at stake in this issue.
- Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The point of my question was about Mr Hawke as a retailer and not as a trade union leader.
– There is no substance in the point of order.
– Whichever way one looks at Mr Hawke one sees that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
-r-I rise on a point of order, Mr Speaker. Last week or the week before I raised a point of order in relation to the standing order which requires an answer to be relevant to the question asked. I submit that in this case the Prime Minister has clearly broken that standing order in referring to Cambodia, which has nothing whatever to do with the question asked by the ‘ honourable member for
Wills. I suggest, Mr Speaker, that if Ministers were required to make their answers relevant to the questions asked there would be much more order in this House.
-Order! There is no point of order. Might I say that the same thing would apply to the question asked by the honourable member for Wills. If the House wants the Standing Orders to be interpreted to the letter I am afraid that question time will be almost unworkable.
– It is getting that way now.
-Order! If (he honourable member wants to insist upon this course and if it is the wish of the House, I will follow it. But 1 suggest that some of the questions that have been asked have been permitted because of the interpretation that it is the will of the House to per* mit certain questions.
– My next point is that the Opposition should be asking itself a third question - whether it is right that, when men are called out on strike, no regard should be paid to the welfare of their families, who have to do without the take-home pay and consequently must live in a state of distress while the strike continues. These are all questions that the Australian Labor Party has not faced up to and has not answered, but this Government is looking carefully at each one of them. I have asked Mr Hawke to come to see me, and by this morning he should have at least received the invitation. I hope that when the discussions with him have been completed a more sensible attitude will be taken by the trade union movement.
– Has the Minister for Education and Science seen claims made in the ‘Education Newsletter of the Australian Union of Students’ that Aboriginals suffered from glaring educational inequalities and, in particular, that whereas one person in every 150 non-Aboriginals attended university, only one person in every 14,000 Aboriginals did so? What steps is the Government taking to encourage higher education for Aboriginals and to provide educational opportunities for them?
-I have seen the report referred to by the honourable member. The Government is taking a number of initiatives to assist in providing education and employment opportunities for Aboriginals. In the education field I would mention two in particular, both of them designed to help Aboriginals with further and higher education. The first is the Aboriginal secondary grants scheme under which Aboriginals are encouraged to stay on at secondary school beyond the compulsory school leaving age. Their fees, books and school uniforms are paid for and an allowance is given to their families. ] have an officer in every branch in every State capital administering this scheme on a personal basis. In the first year of its operation almost 2,400 Aboriginals took advantage of the scholarship scheme. My Department estimates that in the current year over 3,500 Aboriginals will take advantage of the scheme to stay on in secondary school beyond the compulsory age.
The second initiative is the Aboriginal study grants scheme which was instituted in 1969, a little earlier than the secondary grants scheme and which originally was designed to assist Aboriginals who wished to go to university, to colleges of advanced education or to other tertiary institutions. It has been used to a considerable degree for that purpose but we found that a wider spread of its benefits was desirable. The scheme provides for a living allowance, payment of tuition fees, books and so on. We have extended it. I will not go through individual, cases except to give two examples.
One Aboriginal girl desired to take up a modelling career. We are giving her a study - grant which has enabled her to attend a modelling agency. She will become a trained model. Another one wished to become a professional ballet dancer. We supported her for a year at the Kathleen Gorham ballet school so that she could take part in the competition of students for admission to the Austraiian Ballet School. She succeeded in the competition and was admitted to the Australian Ballet School. We have extended her study grant and she is now on her way to becoming . a professional bullet dancer. I am merely indicating the kinds of opportunities that are available in education for Aboriginals. I would hope that Aboriginal leaders and others would make the availability of these opportunities perhaps better known than they are amongst the Aboriginal people so that they can take full advantage of what the Commonwealth Government is providing for them.
– 1 direct my question to the Minister for Trade and Industry. Is the Minister aware that the prices received for Australian coals exported to Japan are extremely low by comparison with those paid to other suppliers of coals? Is he aware, for example, that high rank low volatile coking coal from the United States is sold to the Japanese steel industry for SUS20 per ton whereas Australian high volatile coking coal is sold for about half of that price? Is he aware that the Joint Coal Board has described this difference as being greater than can be justified? Will he tell the House the reasons why we appear to be selling our coal to the Japanese steel industry at give-away prices?
-I call the Minister for National Development, this being a matter within his portfolio.
– I have not details of the exact prices obtained by the companies which negotiate contracts with Japan and other countries. The matter before us concerns principally the industry in New South Wales and Queensland where some substantial contracts have been signed over recent years. There are no export controls over coal at the present time and any arrangements that are made are the result of negotiations between the companies in Australia and those overseas and by agreement with the State government concerned. We do, of course, receive advice from time to time in relation to these matters and we do keep a careful check on the situation. However, to the best of my knowledge the prices in a general sense are as high as the world standards, but I will check on the details that the honourable member has mentioned and let him have some additional information.
I should like to point out also the tremendous value of this industry to Australia at the present time and the increasing value of it for the future. There is a world shortage of high grade coking coal and more interest is being shown by Europe in Australia now than at any time in the past.
Certainly there will be contracts in the future with Japan and these will be of tremendous value to our export earnings. Having said that, I now point out that we are fully aware of the necessity to preserve sufficient coal for our own requirements in the future and also to maintain at the same time a balance in exports between high grade coking coal, the lower grade coking coal and the steaming coals. This matter is being watched very carefully and I can assure the honourable member that the aspect of price will be kept under consideration.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. In his discussions with Cabinet about withholding of by-law entry in the motor vehicle industry, as he has just indicated, on the grounds that suitable and equivalent goods are available in Australia, will the Minister also include a requirement that the substitute Australian component will actually work on the motor vehicle otherwise by-law entry will still be allowed?
– I did not completely understand the question. I would have thought that that position is covered by the words ‘suitable equivalent’. I would have thought that the term explains itself. In answer, to the honourable member 1 therefore say yes.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that in January last I presented to his predecessor a petition from some 9,000 residents of the Western Australian goldfields asking for an increase in the gold subsidy? Has the Prime Minister’s’ attention been directed to a recent newspaper article wherein it is estimated that an early closure of the gold mines will mean that at least 1,000 of those presently employed will remain unemployed even after the labour requirements of other mining projects have been satisfied? Has he seen a subsequent article in which the manager of one of the larger mines gave notice of early closure in the event of failure to obtain an increase in the gold subsidy? Finally, as the situation obviously has serious implications and as the Treasury has failed to appreciate the seriousness of the position, will the Prime Minister give the matter urgent and serious personal attention?
– I am not aware of the various statements and the petition mentioned by the honourable gentleman but I know that this matter was considered either by the former Prime Minister or by Cabinet and that a reply was given to the gold mining industry in Western Australia. Nonetheless, in deference to his wishes, I will have the papers re-examined and I will let him know the result.
– I wish to ask a question of the Minister for Primary Industry. Did the Minister see a report in the Melbourne Press to the effect that the Premier of Victoria, Sir Henry Bolte, had now agreed to accept the Commonwealth debt and reconstruction scheme proposals? Can he substantiate this reported statement? Has there been any alteration to the proposals as agreed to by ali the other States? When will the legislation be introduced into the Parliament and how soon can primary producers except to see some of the. Commonwealth proposals in operation?
– 1 advised the : House the other day that I had had some discussions with Mr Borthwick who is the responsible Minister in the Victorian Government and 1 understand that that Government is now substantially ‘ in agreement with the terms and conditions- of the S 100m rural reconstruction scheme as propounded by my predecessor to the States at a meeting with the Treasurer early in February. I am not aware of the Prime Minister having yet received a specific communication from the Premier of Victoria but 1 believe that the Victorian Government generally concurs with the terms and conditions of the rural reconstruction scheme.
The second part of the honourable member’s question referred to Variations included in the scheme as a result of the discussions with the Victorian Government. It is my understanding that there was a certain misunderstanding as to the extent to which the intended division of the $100m into 2 parts might affect allocations made by State governments. I think that the misunderstanding pf the impact that this might have on State budgets has now been resolved. In fact the only product of the discussions with the Victorians has been an agreement to ensure that at the annual review which was previously agreed to all aspects of the administration of the scheme would be considered. I hope that the legislation can be introduced into this House fairly shortly as I expect that we will receive advice soon from the Victorian Government. Of course, no legislation will be introduced until we receive that advice. I appreciate the concern of the honourable member and that of other honourable members that the funds should be available to primary producers as soon as possible and I assure him that every effort will be made to achieve that objective.
– Has the PostmasterGeneral any information concerning the delayed construction of the television station in the Bellenden Ker area? If there is a delay in this project, what is the length of the delay and what is claimed as the cause of it? If it is climatic conditions can figures be given to substantiate this claim?
– The honourable member and many other honourable members would know that the weather conditions in Queensland during the last few months have not been very suited to -
– Not up north.
– Mount Bellenden Ker is covered by fog and mist on the average for considerable periods of every day. The weather conditions that could apply there would not necessarily apply in Cairns or along the adjacent coastal belt. In fact, weather conditions have caused delay in this project. I explained when this project was commenced that weather would be a hazard. There are also other problems associated with engineering and these are within the province of my colleague the Minister for Works in another place. I will contact him to ascertain the details and results of tenders which have been called and contracts which have been let. I will advise the honourable member of this information and the expected date of completion of the project.
– I address my question to the Prime Minister. Has his attention been drawn to the activities of so-called demonstrators who yesterday painted slogans on the private homes of employees of both the British and South African Embassies? What action does the Government propose to take to control this form of irresponsible vandalism? Does the legislation currently before the House give the Commonwealth adequate powers to protect the lives and property of such persons?
– It is deplorable that these daubings should be placed on any home, and that includes the homes of diplomatic personnel. The jurisdiction with regard to offences of this type in the Australian Capital Territory remains with the police of the Australian Capital Territory. We hope that the police will be able to find those who are responsible and that they will be prosecuted in the courts in the normal course of legal procedure and practice. The legislation now before the House does not cover the case of the daubing of slogans or signs of that nature upon homes or upon the walls of homes of diplomatic personnel. Such an act is covered by normal common law procedure and consequently will be covered by normal police court proceedings if the people who committed the offences can be found and can be prosecuted.
– I direct my question to the Minister for National Development. It refers to the flood waters flowing from the western rivers of New South Wales to the Darling River and later the Murray River. Can the Minister state to what extent these flood waters can be impounded by the Menindee Lakes and the Lake Victoria storage schemes? Is it a fact that flood waters not impounded by these schemes will flow practically unimpeded to the sea? Does this not indicate the need for a major water storage dam below the junction of the Murray and Darling Rivers and justify the case of the South Australian Government for agreement by the Commonwealth together with the States of New South Wales and Victoria to proceed with the construction of the Chowilla Dam at a later date?
– I appreciate the problems that emerge when floods occur in the Darling River and the other river systems throughout Australia. I might say that these unfortunate floods occur only infrequently. The two river systems mentioned by the honourable member - the Darling system and the Murray system - are the largest river systems in Australia. They are subject perhaps to greater control by means of dams which have been constructed and also because of the work of the various authorities in the States over the years. However, at the present time a further study is being undertaken in relation to the whole Darling system as distinct from the Murray system. I hope that emerging from this study and also from further consultation with the States, we will have a better idea of flood control in the future. I would like to point out quite definitely that whilst we can mitigate floods to some degree, under circumstances that exist we can never entirely avoid them, but it is the duty of governments, both Commonwealth and State, to do everything possible to mitigate the effects of floods.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. In view of the Australian Wool Industry Conference’s clear recommendation to the Australian Government that the Government continue to allow the export of 300 merino rams this year, can the Minister inform me whether or not exporters of merino rams are still being prevented from honouring their sales undertakings by actions of certain unions? Will he assure the House that in the future the Government will ensure that Australian sheep breeders will not be unlawfully prevented from honouring their overseas sales by the actions of union dictators not answerable to the Australian public through the ballot box?
– I completely support the principle underlying this question, which is that when an industry makes a recommendation to the government for a particular policy and the Government accepts that recommendation, it is quite irresponsible for any section of the community to take it into its own hands to act in opposition to that recommendation and, as in the instance of the export of merino rams, to prevent that taking place. The very strong support given by this Government to ensure that the export of rams previously sold could be facilitated demonstrates the attitude of the Government and the action it will take to give effect to decisions made by it in response to recommendations by industry organisations. I have not yet been officially notified, of the decision taken by the Australian Wool Industry Conference, but I understand that the vote was very substantially in favour of the maintenance of a lifting of 4he partial ban on the export of merino rams. 1 assure the honourable gentleman that when I receive that recommendation the Government will act promptly in considering it.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) - by leaveproposed:
That Mr Gorton be discharged from attendance on the Standing Orders Committee and that in his place Mr McMahon be appointed a member of the Committee.
- Mr Speaker, in welcoming the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) to the august body of which you are the chairman, I express the hope that he will continue the practice of the former Prime Minister, the present Minister for Defence (Mr Gorton), in permitting and encouraging free votes by members of the House on questions relating to the Standing Orders. This was a substantial contribution to the good working and fellowship of this Parliament. I hope that there is no interference with that practice and that this will be brought to the present temporary Prime Minister’s notice.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– As Chairman I present the One Hundred and Twenty-fifth and One Hundred and Twenty-sixth Reports of the Public Accounts Committee. I seek leave to make a short statement.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Report relates, to an index of the First to the One Hundred and Fourteenth Reports of the Committee and encompasses the work of your first Committees up to September 1969. By 1958, the numerous inquiries directed to your Committee from time to time by members of the Parliament, by departments and by other organisations and persons both in Australia and overseas, as well as the requirements of the office of the Committee and the members themselves, had demonstrated the need for ready means of reference to the reports of your Committee and the topics discussed. To meet that situation your Third Committee decided in 1957 to have an index prepared and to present it to the Parliament in a form similar to that in which our ordinary reports have been published. The first such report, being the Thirty-eighth Report, was tabled in the Parliament in May 1958. The need for this type of report has continued over the years both in response to growing inquiries regarding our work and as a consequence of the expansion of our work. This need has been recognised by successive Committees and index reports have been presented to the Parliament in 1959. 1962, 1965 and 1967.
In the case of the One Hundred and Twenty-Fifth Report, your Eighth Committee has included for the first time a list of those reports presented since April 1970 but some of which, due to normal printing delays, are not yet available for inclusion in the report in complete indexed form.
The One Hundred and Twenty-Sixth Report relates to the Treasury minute on the Committee’s One Hundred and Seventh Report concerning subscriber trunk dialling facilities. In - examining the Treasury minute, your Committee has given particular attention to the report of an interdepartmental committee established to examine the problems associated with the control of STD telephone facilities within the Commonwealth Public Service. A copy of the report of that committee was tendered to us as an annexure to the Treasury minute. From our examination of the report wc are disappointed to find that departments were generally unable to provide adequate reasons for increased expenditure on metered calls. We were further disappointed that the interdepartmental committee has concluded that it is impossible for it to reach any firm opinion on the extent to which the increased expenditure represented wasteful or unauthorised use of the facility. However, we note in connection with multi-occupancy buildings the interdepartmental committee’s view that a policy of separate metering should be adopted to enable departments to exercise proper financial control, and that the additional cost of separate meters and additional exchange lines would be fully justified. Your Committee agrees with this recommendation and hopes that separate metering facilities will be installed in those buildings with minimum delay. Your Committee also trusts that the added financial control accorded departments following the introduction of such facilities will assist them in the preparation of estimates of expenditure and will also assist in the provision of adequate reasons for future variations in their telephone costs.
We note that at the request of the interdepartmental committee the Public Service Board conducted an investigation in 1969 of the relative cost of obtaining information by means of memoranda, telex facilities and STD. Because of the lapse of time since that examination and with consequent rises in costs, a re-examination of the original investigation was made by the Public Service Board in July 1970 for the interdepartmental committee. In view of the evident need to reassess the relative costs of these forms of communication within such a short period of time, your Committee believes that, for the guidance of departments, the Public Service Board should make regular assessments to take account of future variations in costs. In examining (he model instructions on the uses of telephones prepared by the interdepartmental committee and circulated with its report to all permanent heads, we have noted that the circular provides for private telephone calls to be made only with the prior approval of the supervisor. This we support. We are disturbed, however, by the statement included in these model instructions that disciplinary action may be taken against any staff member found making private calls without approval. Your Committee believes that where a staff member is found to be making private calls without approval, disciplinary action should be taken and the model instructions be amended accordingly.
We would also observe that from its nature, the report of the interdepartmental committee suggests that the Committee has issued a final report and that no further work on its part is contemplated. In view of the proposals for greater control of telephone facilities put forward by that comimittee and the fact that the installation of separate metering facilities in multioccupancy buildings is expected to enable the departments concerned to exercise proper financial control, your Committee believes that the interdepartmental committee should continue in existence and should undertake periodic follow-up surveys of the matters within its terms of reference. Your Public Accounts Committee intends to maintain a close and continuing interest in this important area of financial administration within the Commonwealth Public Service. I commend the reports to honourable members.
Ordered that the reports be printed.
[Honey - Cherries: Tariff Board Report - Northern Territory - Rural Industry in Queensland - Television - Political Parties - Motor Vehicle Industry - Australian Industry Development Corporation - Shipping Freight
That grievances be noted.
– I desire to refer to the film ‘Honey-Nature’s Liquid Gold’ which has been produced for the Australian Honey Board. The 16mm colour film of 20 minutes duration was produced for the Board by Peter Scott of John Bushelle Production Pty Ltd. I understand that the cameramen travelled 15,000 miles to capture scenes of the real environment of Australia’s 5,900 bee keepers, excluding those in Tasmania. Copies of the film are being sent to government department libraries tor viewing and ordering, and it has been sent also to Australian trade commissioners in Britain, Germany and Japan. The film has been accepted for showing at the 23rd International Apicultural Congress which will be held in Moscow during August of this year.
I have been asked by the bee keepers in Tasmania to lodge the strongest possible protest about the fact that the film covers activities in the 5 mainland States and completely ignores any reference to bee keeping activities in the State of
Tasmania. We protest that we were not invited to participate, financially or otherwise, in the making of the film. It should be remembered that the levy scheme would not have come into existence but for the consent and co-operation given by bee keepers in Tasmania. We realised that the mainland States were having trouble disposing of their low quality honey on export markets, and Tasmania agreed to participate in the stabilisation plan, even though it was of no benefit to that State, Tasmania agreed simply to assist the mainland bee keepers. Admittedly the levy paid on Tasmanian honey comes back to us for promotion of Tasmanian honey, including our world famousleatherwood honey. But I point out that levy collections in Tasmania are on roughly 50 per cent of the honey sold in Tasmania. All the specials appearing in supermarkets in Tasmania are honey packs from the mainland.
If we take the latest figures available which cover the period from 1st July 1969 to 30th April 1970 it will be seen that levy collections in Tasmania amounted to $1,301. So it is safe to assume that the Honey Board benefited to the extent of more than $1,000 from the levy collected in Tasmania on honey packed on the mainland. It is wrong for the Board to assume that we are keeping all the money collected in Tasmania from the levy. The Honey Board financed half the cost of the film to which I have referred. Despite our assistance to overcome a constitutional problem associated with getting the levy operative and despite the undoubted levy collected by the Board for mainland honey sold in Tasmania, the Board, for some strange reason, did not include in the film any reference to Tasmanian bee keepers. Surely the situation warranted at least a few spoken words and a shot or two of the beautifulleatherwood tree which is unique to Tasmania and from which we derive the famousleatherwood honey.
The latest market report from the United Kingdom gives prices for Australian honey ranging from£Stgl25 to £Stgl45 per ton, but at the sametime leatherwood honey was fetching over £Stg200 per ton. What right has the Honey Board to omit any reference to this unique product? Either the Department of Primary Industry or the Department of Trade and Industry is equally to blame because the Government financed the other half of the cost of the film on a §1 for $1 basis, lt is bad enough that the Honey Board discriminates against Tasmania, but it is being aided and abetted by the Commonwealth Government. Tasmania is one of the States in the Commonwealth. Its people pay their taxes and it produces the best honey in the world. When I took this matter up with the former Minister for Primary Industry he replied in a letter in these terms:
When arranging the sequences of the film, the Board was mindful of the decision of the Tasmanian Beekeepers’ Association before the Board was established, that it would not contribute to or participate in overseas promotion conducted by the Board. Up to date the Tasmanian Beekeepers’ Association has not indicated to the Board that it wishes to change its policy and use the Board’s facilities to promote Tasmanian honey overseas, and consequently the Board has no choice but to leave Tasmanian honey out of promotional considerations.
What rot. Who misled him? If 1 were the Minister I would want to know who was responsible for writing that letter for him to sign. The Minister has been misled on other occasions. One instance of this is when he was misled by some of his officers in connection with the meat works at Burnie. The Chief Executive Secretary of the Australian Honey Board, Mr K. A. H. Read, wrote to the Secretary of the Tasmanian Beekeepers’ Association on 25th March 1968. In that letter Mr Read gratefully acknowledged the receipt of that Association’s cheque which was to be used for the promotion of honey in the United Kingdom. He congratulated the Association and pointed out in that letter that the grant to the Australian Honey Board would attract a $1 for $1 Government subsidy and would assist in the promotion of honey overseas.
It is clear that the Minister v/as completely misled in regard to the information he gave me in reply to my representations seeking details of why Tasmania was not included in the promotional programme or even consulted with a view to participation. I think it is obvious that Tasmania would have been willing to contribute to the promotion programme, but its honey representatives were never consulted about the film. To add insult to injury, Tasmania was not included in a map of Australia on a promotional tea towel which was put out by the Australian Honey Board. Honourable members can see that this tea towel which I have in my hands depicts a map of Australia but there is a drawing of a bee in the position where a map of Tasmania should have been placed. 1 hope that it will sting the Honey Board into taking some sort of action in the near future, lt is of no use for the Board to attempt to fob off Tasmanian honey producers and say that it did not have anything to do with this promotional scheme. The latest report of the Board for the year 1969-70, which was tabled in this House the other day, states at page 12 that 216 tea towels were distributed from the office of the Board. If the Board is prepared to take the credit for the distribution of promotional material it must accept the responsibility for leaving a map of Tasmania off that tea towel.
Apparently the officers on the Board have short memories. They mislead the Minister in his reply to me. They conveniently forgot that but for Tasmania the plan for orderly export marketing and levy collection in 1962 would never have got off the ground. A levy is a type of tax and the consent of all States is required before a levy can be imposed. At the time serious difficulties were being experienced by the beekeepers in the mainland States. Their export prices had progressively fallen from £Stg136 per ton in 1956 to £Stg89 in 1959. On the other hand Tasmanian producers were getting almost double the export price. They were getting about £St&150 per ton for leatherwood honey, but in order to help out the mainland producers in their export difficulties the Tasmanians agreed to come into the scheme. Without the Tasmanian producers there would have been no orderly marketing scheme for exports and there would have been no authorisation for levy collections anywhere in Australia. Tasmania’s complaint is that it was not invited to participate financially or otherwise in the promotional film.
The producers of Tasmania have had a raw deal from the Honey Board and on behalf of the Tasmanian Beekeepers Association I lodge the strongest protest possible at this unfair discrimination by both the Commonwealth Government and the Australian Honey Board against that Association. I ask the Minister to find out who was responsible for dictating the letter of 17th December 1970, because the information he gave me in relation to the meatworks is not true.
– As a great admirer of the Tasmanian honey industry, and with a preference for leatherwood honey, I highly commend the remarks made by the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Davies). I hope that the responsible Minister will give consideration to the honourable member’s remarks. In this debate I want to speak about a Tariff Board report on cherries. I want to draw the attention of honourable members to a grave error the Tariff Board has fallen into in its attempt to determine the structure of the cherry industry over the last few years, as is evidenced by the tenor of the reports of the Tariff Board, particularly the annual reports. A grave injustice has been done to a long-standing primary industry by a lack of capacity of the Tariff Board to undertake a review of tariffs on cherries. A review of the tariff has been discussed at great length in this House and it has the support of all honourable members. Before a review is undertaken there should be a review of the capacity of the Tariff Board to undertake this sort of inquiry.
I have not sufficient time in this debate to present a full case for the cherry industry. It is a very complicated one. Cherries are sold as fresh cherries, brine cherries and preserved cherries. In July 1969 the cherry industry as a whole requested some assistance because of the competition it was receiving from imported preserved cherries. The Special Advisory Authority gave the cherry industry a temporary protection of a 6c per lb tariff in addition to the protection it already had. The matter then had to go to the Board. Last February the Board took evidence and eventually came up with a report dated 13th November 1970 which was tabled in this House only a couple of weeks ago. The Tariff Board made an incredible decision in that it wiped off all the tariff associated with this industry. The fresh cherry fruit is the valuable commodity to the orchardist. Goodness knows, every orchardist has more than enough troubles without marketing a perishable and difficult crop. The best quality cherry goes on to the fresh fruit market and a proportion goes into cans. It is a tremendous help to the orchardist to have a certain proportion of his crop processed by the briners who can take in about 50 tons a day in the glut time which is about 2i weeks in the middle of the season. These cherries are placed in brine and are sold as a useful product to the processers who turn them into preserved cherries or what is commonly known as glazed cherries.
The Tariff Board heard evidence that the cost of raw materials to the French producers was much lower than it is for the Australian producers of glazed cherries. This is a very debatable point. I do not have sufficient time to go into an examination of the actual cost structure of this, but it is obvious that the Tariff Board has been misled on this particular point. The Board was also told by a gentleman who represented the Shepparton Preserving Co. that in the event of the temporary tariff of 6c per lb being wiped off the industry would not have any difficulty in disposing of its products because his company - the Monbulk company also said this - would take up any surplus. Everybody seemed to think that the normal tariff protection would remain. We all know that SPC got into a rather difficult financial position but the fact remains that the Tariff Board took the company’s evidence as gospel, without any proof. SPC had not played ball before. This was only something that it had promised to do. Neither SPC nor Monbulk had taken up any cherries from the 1969-70 crop.
The Tariff Board report also stated that the industry required too great a degree of protection. Tariff Board reports have been stating that the Board intends to classify industries into certain categories such as for 50 per cent or more protection and 25 per cent to 50 per cent protection. The Board is trying to divert finance into what it calls the low protection areas. That is a dream that is impossible of fulfilment. The Board’s report in relation to the Australian preserved cherries industry states that the disability factor is 65 per cent. If one takes the Board’s extraordinary system of applying an equivalent rate of protection, one sees that the Board says the rate should be over 300 per cent. I have done some very quick calculations; they will not be accurate to the half cent. The price received by the grower for raw cherries is about 15 cents per lb. After they are put into the brining process the price rises to about 25 cents per lb. This includes the 6 cents per lb rate of duty on brine cherries, converted into its correct terms. The cherries then go to the processors. There are virtually only 3 processors in Australia. I have had to make a fairly wild guess at their costs, but I arrived at a total cost of 45c per lb. That includes the 47* per cent duty, which I estimate at about 12c or 13c per lb, plus last year the 6c per lb that was given by the Special Advisory Authority.
My total of 45c is a little high because the processors have made statements that their selling price was 54c per lb. I do not imagine that they would be able to make much profit at that price. The protection is 25c per lb. I defy anybody to find 300 per cent equivalent rate of protection in the figures that I have given. I could find no other ingredients that had to be added, except sugar. The Australian processor has to pay $200 a ton for sugar. The French processor has to pay about $100 or $120 a ton; I believe $100 is closer to the mark. That makes a tremendous difference to the final cost. That is why tariffs are imposed. If an Australian manufacturer has certain disabilities such as these, which we impose ourselves, surely we have to protect him. It would not matter if the processor went out of business. There are only 3 in Australia and preserved cherries are a very small portion of their business. But this flows right back to the grower. The Tariff Board having completely misunderstood the position in relation to cherries and not being competent to undertake a full and thorough investigation of the facts, has thrown the industry into confusion. I wish I had another 10 minutes in which to develop further this point. The report of the Board has been tabled. Immediately a report is tabled it is irrevocable. I ask the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) at this late stage to reject the Tariff Board report so that the original tariff rates can be applied.
– Is that the 300 per cent protection?
– No, it is nothing like 300 per cent. I would like to see a return to the tariff rates that applied before the matter went to the Special Advisory Authority. At least that would give the industry the opportunity to get out of trouble. At Silvan $70,000 was spent on new plant. The industry has been thrown into absolute confusion.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– What the honourable member for McMillan (Mr Buchanan) said about the cherry industry made a lot of sense. It is quite obvious that the Tariff Board has made some basic mistakes in its assessment of the industry. However, I am not here to deal with that matter. It is a pity that the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) was not here to listen to the honourable member.
– I told him that I would be speaking on the subject.
– One has to do more than tell Ministers. I told the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt) that I would be speaking about a matter which comes within his portfolio. He is not here. I expected him to be here to answer questions about the Northern Territory. On behalf of a large number of people - perhaps the great majority of people - in the Northern Territory I voice my opinion and disapproval of continued Government neglect of many aspects of the Northern Territory. Like many other people, I was shocked and dismayed at the appointment of the present Minister for the Interior to handle this most difficult area of administration. It is one more instance of the Cinderella treatment of this Government of the people of the Territory. The administration of the Territory demands and justifies the appointment of a senior Minister to the portfolio concerned with the Northern Territory. It is a most important portfolio. It deals with people who have pioneered and developed the Territory. It deals with problems which are extremely important to Australia and to the Commonwealth. The administration of the Territory covers complex matters such as the welfare of Aboriginals, development and the administration functions of the Legislative Council. All these matters are complex and important matters.
In the past Mr Hasluck, as he then was, was the Minister for Territories. The present Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) succeeded Mr Hasluck in that portfolio. Then the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Nixon) took over the administration of the Territory when he was the Minister for the Interior. These men had a grasp of the problems of the Northern Territory. But as each moved to a different portfolio or as the Northern
Territory came under the administration of another portfolio, the Territory went back in terms of administration. It went back until the new Minister had time to grasp the difficult problems. I simply echo the sentiments which are being expressed in the Northern Territory about the contempt and arrogance that this Government is displaying towards the people of the Territory. The present Minister has been in the Parliament for no more than about 2 years. I would say that his knowledge of the Territory is zero. This does not necessarily mean that he will not do a good job, but a person who has some knowledge of the Territory and of its problems would have been more acceptable and certainly would have been able to do a better job for the Territory more quickly.
I am pleased to see that the Minister has now arrived in the chamber. I shall not repeat all of what I said. I am concerned that the people of the Territory should get the best chance and the best possible deal from the Government. Now that the Minister is here I shall ask him some pertinent questions about the Territory. It is being said - I do not necessarily agree - that he will simply be another puppet of the Government, a person who will sign letters whenever the senior departmental people say that they should be signed and a person who does not understand how the Legislative Council and the Administrator’s Council work. These are the allegations that are flying around the Territory.
– Who is saying these things?
– The Minister may reply after I have finished, but I will bet that he does not reply. If he does, I will be very glad to hear his reply and I will listen in silence. I and the people of the Northern Territory hope that the Minister will not simply be a rubber stamp of his Department. This has happened so often in the past until Ministers have got a grasp of the subject. This is what is being said. Before the Minister entered the chamber I said that I did not know how much knowledge he had of the Territory. I repeat that I think his knowledge is zero. I suppose he has been there. How could he possibly have any knowledge, parliamentary or otherwise, of the complex administrative problems of the Territory? I have looked at the speeches he has made since he has been a member of this House. He has made not one speech about the Northern Territory. Yet the Government appointed him to administer one of the most difficult portfolios, the Department of the Interior, which is responsible for the administration of the Northern Territory.
The Northern Territory has been the backwash for too long. Broken down politicians are sent up there to be Administrators. One was Roger Dean, a kindly, benevolent gentleman certainly, but a man with as much drive and initiative as a stuffed dodo. Now there is Mr Chaney who was defeated at the last election. Fearless Fred’ they call him in the Northern Territory because of all the mistakes he makes, speaking off the cuff. These are the people responsible for the Northern Territory. It is about time that the Northern Territory had an Administrator or a Minister who understands the problems of the Northern Territory. What does the Minister for the Interior know about constitutional reform? I would like to hear his views on it and on the objective of allowing the Legislative Council to speak on behalf of the people of the Northern Territory and to truly represent the people of the Northern Territory. What does the Minister know? He is not even listening. He is too busy talking to his honourable friend, the Minister for External Territories.
– I am sorry to disappoint the honourable member. There are not many other people in the House. At least I am in here.
– Well, I would like the Minister to listen and pay some respect. I think the people of the Northern Territory would like him to listen and not sit on the seat like a galah.
Order! I would suggest to the honourable member for Dawson that perhaps he appreciates the fact that he is taking part in a debate in this House. He might give some consideration to some of the references he has been making in the last couple of minutes.
– I respect your judgment, Mr Deputy Speaker.
– You would not know where a galah sits.
– Yes, I do. I know a bit about birds. What I would like the Minister to give us are his views on the restrictions deliberately imposed on the Legislative Council by the Government in order to nobble it and to stop it making decisions in relation to budgets and the disbursement of funds for the Northern Territory, for the development of the Northern Territory and for the people of the Northern Territory. What does the Minister think of the Administrator’s Council? Does he believe that it is functioning all right, as it was set up to do? I assume that he has heard of the Administrator’s Council by now.
– I have met every member.
– What do they think of it? Did they say?
– We have a joint study group meeting at present.
– I am sure that the people of the Northern Territory will be pleased to hear that there is a joint study group at last. The Northern Territory is being subjected to the worst type of treatment by the worst type of government that we have seen. It is a pseudo-colonialist type of government, controlled by a bureaucracy in Canberra. The honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) who is trying to interject, should keep out of it. We take no notice of him. I do not even include him in the audience. Struggling Administrators in Darwin -
– Keep off the insults. I am sick of you.
– The honourable member need not listen. He should move out, because he is not often here. I was dealing with the type of Government in the Northern Territory and the inefficiencies that are being perpetrated in the area because of the restrictions placed on the Legislative Council. The Legislative Council must advance. Has the Minister any views on the composition of the Legislative Council? Can he say that, in his opinion, it should be fully elected, that it should have the right to govern and that it at least should have the right to the same ministerial responsibility as is given to some of the members of the New Guinea House of Assembly who have ministerial responsi bility? Has the Minister any views on that, because this is most important? We know full well that the Government will always appoint a junior Minister to the Northern Territory so that he can act as some type of puppet for the Government so that the veto to withhold assent can be used. 1 would like to know what the Minister is going to do about the motions outstanding in the Legislative Council which are still waiting for assent to be given. I would also like to know what he is going to do about the unconscionable delays that have been part and parcel of the Northern Territory’s development and the restrictions on the statutory boards of the Northern Territory that have been part and parcel of this Government.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– The Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt) is in the House and I am sure that in time he will answer the remarks just made by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). In the dying phases of his grievance speech the honourable member suggested that junior Ministers are appointed to this particular portfolio. It is a junior Ministry. But let us just look at the Ministers who have held this portfolio in the last 4 or 5 years. We had the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony). Would anyone suggest for a moment that he is a man lacking in ability, intensity or dedication? Then we had the present Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Nixon) who was acclaimed even by members of the Opposition. They told me that they considered “him a very astute, sincere and able Minister. I am sure that the present Minister will prove that he is equally capable, if he is given the time.
I am going to speak on a subject on which I have spoken again and again in this House. I do not propose to cease speaking on it until we see some solution to the drastic and dreadful situation which exists in the outback areas of the electorate of Kennedy. I refer to the present situation which has resulted from drought and the declining and shrinking wool prices. The present intention of my few words is to draw attention to the appeal made by the Queensland Premier to the previous Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) when he rang him, not as a dramatic gesture but with complete sincerity, to point out that the situation, in those areas in one of disaster. It is not the fault of the grazier as I have said so often. Honourable members should travel through those areas, mix with the people, talk with them and see the situation in which they find themselves. Businessmen and tank sinkers are wondering what they are going to do with the men who have stood four square with them year after year. The local authorities are wondering how they are going to maintain employment in these areas.
Unless an extremely realistic and urgent solution is offered we will see the present way of life crumbling out in that part of the country. I for one, and most of the people involved, will not stand by and see that happen. Admittedly, a tremendous contribution has been made by the $100m for rural reconstruction. I was asked for a Press comment when that grant was announced and when the announcement was made that SI 6m would be made available for Queensland. The first question I was asked was: Do you consider the amount enough to meet the situation? No amount will be enough unless it can offer a realistic solution to each and every person involved who will meet the guidelines laid down by the Rural Reconstruction Board. I consider that the formula is this: Firstly, there must be enough money available if it is going to be realistic and if it is going to produce a solution. Secondly, when incomes are restored there must be a close study of the problem by the Commissioner of Taxation and the Treasurer to see that the burden placed on these people will not keep them down forever. Thirdly, perhaps the most important aspect is that the aid must be applied with great urgency. It is encouraging to see that there has been a greatly accelerated interest in decentralisation. We have heard a lot about this quite recently. I would like to think about decentralisation and de-urbanisation. If I have the opportunity I will talk on this subject again in this House.
What is happening is the reverse process. To be realistic we must put the brakes on this drift to the cities which, as we know, is happening all over the world. The greatest contribution that can be made at present is to prevent the crumbling of the wool industry and all that is associated with it, particularly in the inland areas of Queensland. This will be the most realistic and most urgent contribution that can be made to decentralisation. We will have to start miles behind scratch unless the present situation is brought to a halt.
The next matter I should like to discuss concerns television installations in my electorate of Kennedy. What I say will no doubt apply to other remote areas of Australia. Of course, my particular concern is my own electorate. I am very pleased to say that 14 of the 38 new stations over the whole of the nation will be in the area that I represent. I have written time and again, I have spoken in this House and I have conferred personally with the PostmasterGeneral (Sir Alan Hulme) in an attempt to obtain some precise information on when the people might expect these installations. I am deeply grateful to the PostmasterGeneral for the actual provision of these stations. I know that he is dependent on advice received from the Broadcasting Control Board and his technicians. Of course, I arn told, as most of us are told, that these matters are being looked into, certain’ tests have to be made in the areas, technical requirements have to be met and so on.
Let me say this - and I ask the Postmaster-General to take it to heart - I believe that be should issue an instruction, clear and concise and without any qualifications, that absolute priority in this field should be given to the provision of television installations in these remote areas. I think particularly of the central western part of Queensland. What wonderful people they are there. They never offer a word of complaint. For years and years they have been without this amenity and have seen 3 and 4 stations installed in the city areas. They hear talk of colour television; but, although they do not have any sort of reception at all, they do not offer a word of complaint. Then I think of the central highlands. It is little wonder that the people there are disturbed. They receive some sort of television, which is probably more irritating than not having it at all. They see at Blackwater the Utah Construction Company put in a translator in a flash to give improved television services to its area. I say that what a private company can do this Government most certainly should do.
So, I ask the Postmaster-General to issue a concise and clear instruction to his technicians and to those to whom he has to look for advice, telling them that they are to give absolute priority to these installations. This is the substance of decentralisation: Facing up fairly and squarely to the fact that these people lack any sort of amenity and they are entitled at least to what is now regarded as part of our daily lives. Whether we call it the idiot box or anything else, it is available, with 4 channels in most city areas and 2 channels in most provincial areas. My people are entitled to one channel, and they are entitled to it without delay.
– In the brief time at my disposal today I want to say a few words on the unseemly and sordid display of Government disunity that has been exposed publicly in the last few weeks in the Liberal Party and the Country Party. Even at this stage we have a Ministry that is half a Ministry. The Prime Minister (Mr McMahon), for reasons that I will explain, is afraid to announce the Ministry. I believe that the members of the public are entitled to know what is going on in the Liberal Party and the machinations that are occurring at a time when this nation needs stability and leadership.
The Prime Minister has delayed, evidently deliberately, announcing his new Ministry until such time as this Parliament is in recess. There are reasons why he has done that. He knows that immediately it is announced there undoubtedly will be another rebellion in the ranks of the Liberal Party. As you know, Mr Deputy Speaker, last week and all this week Ministers have been staggering around this place in a trance, uninterested, not caring what is -going on and with half of them not knowing how long they will be in the Ministry. The Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth), who is at the table, has hardly looked up in the last week, because he is one of the threatened personnel.
What I am speaking about is not a joke. I noticed the following headline in the Daily Mirror’ of 11th March: ‘PM Wields Axe’. These Ministers are threatened men. They are walking around, not knowing whether to please, to smile, to work or what to do. There is a long list of them. They may well joint the long list of ex-Ministers “in this Parliament who almost outnumber -the people who are on the front bench. Let me tell the House who those in the Ministry who are threatened at this time are. In fact I was told last night by a Government supporter that only 6 people are certain to be in the Ministry when it is announced, and they are the 5 Country Party Ministers and the Prime Minister. So, one can understand how startled the others are. Consequently, government has gone by the Board. So uninterested and disturbed have members of the Liberal Party been this week that they could not bring forward much legislation or put forward any speakers.
Let us have a look at the threatened men in the Government. I am told that the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) may be departing from the Ministry shortly, as may be the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme), the Minister for Works and Minister in Charge of Tourist Activities (Senator Wright), the Minister for the Army (Mr Peacock), the Minister for the Navy (Mr Killen), the Minister for Social Services, the Treasurer (Mr Bury), the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) and the Attorney-General (Mr Hughes). I cannot say that I will be sorry to see them go, because those would be very desirable changes. That brings me back to the point I mentioned before, namely, that no member of the Liberal Party, except the Prime Minister, is certain to remain in the Ministry. It is interesting to look at some of the prospects for replacements. For instance, there is the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns), who said that he would not serve under the previous Prime Minister ‘even in the lowly position of Deputy Government Whip’. He has gone around all the week with a smile on his face like a deep sea mullet because he is nearly in the Ministry - or so he thinks.
Consequently, this week government has gone by the board. Is it not dreadful that with men dying in Vietnam, pensioners in this country practically starving and the economy gone to ruin, so we are told, Ministers are not interested in any of those matters; they are only interested in whether they will survive? Of course, everybody in the Government ought to be worried at this time. One has only to look at who is the new Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party to be worried. Last week, in a shuttle service of musical chairs and a comedy that would have done credit to Laurel and Hardy in other circumstances, the then Prime Minister went out one political door and in came another one. They changed places. Imagine what would have been said on the other side of the Parliament if that had happened on this side. What would the ‘paper you can trust’ have said if that had occurred in the Labor Party? When it happens on the other side it is said to be unity.
When the former Prime Minister took the position of Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, I paused to wonder why he would do that. I said: ‘Has not he any pride?’ Then I said: ‘He is almost arrogantly proud, so it is not a question of his not having any pride in this case’. I thought that financial considerations might have come into it. Then I said ‘He is a man who, no doubt, could earn a good income in any walk of life’. When we put those 2 things aside, there is only one reason why the former Prime Minister now sits at the elbow of the present Prime Minister. He is there for destruction. And why should not he be? He sits where the knife was held by the present Prime Minister. Under his very seat is the stiletto that put the present Prime Minister where he is.
If the former Prime Minister goes into the office of the former Minister for Defence he will find that in the top right hand drawer there are 33 knives, all of different lengths. He can take any one he wants and any old time it can go right into the back of the man who has replaced him. I would not blame him for doing that, because that is how the present Prime Minister got the job. He sat there; the knives were produced; then under the cloak of a secret ballot and in the dead of night, as it were, the 33 knives were produced and stabbed the then Prime Minister. So I say good luck to the former Prime Minister on his voyage of destruction of this Government and good luck to him in carrying out the task which no doubt the present Prime Minister carried out very surreptitiously.
I thought it was one of the jokes of the age when I heard that the present Prime Minister was so detached from what was going on. We all know that he is a retiring man, is never in any intrigue and did not ever want the job. It was thrust upon him. That is what we are told, again by the ‘paper you can trust’. Is it any wonder, therefore, that the present Prime Minister is worried about what will happen in his Ministry, when the former Prime Minister has taken his place there for the reasons I have mentioned? The members of the public are entitled to be told these things. They are entitled to know the setup of the present Administration.
Let us have a look at the members of the Country Party. They sit over there. What they said about the present Prime Minister a few months ago could not be printed, unless they said it in Parliament, because it would be libellous. As you know, Mr Deputy Speaker - I do not say this in any derogatory sense because you are a member of that Party - members of the Country Party consigned him to the abattoirs at one stage and said that they did not want him around at all. Do not let them say that it was only the former Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Country Party who said that. The present Leader of the Country Party was one who said that he would walk out of the Ministry with the then Deputy Prime Minister if the Liberal Party was to support the man who now leads this nation in the position of Prime Minister. This is an amazing about face. I wonder what has happened to the great spirit of the fighters in the Country Party, if they were ever there. What would their forebears think of this reversal of form. As one looks across to the other side of the House and sees what the Liberal Party has to offer in respect of these matters one can see how these machinations must be exposed.
To get back to my original theme, nobody knows what the Ministry of this country is and nobody knows what is going on in the mind of the Prime Minister regarding who will govern the country; but everybody understands that under the present set-up of the Liberal Party there is destruction and ruin for the present Prime Minister because he cannot trust the men about him. Everybody knows Ministers come and go according to the whims of the Prime Minister, like trains at Central Station on a Sunday night. The Government almost needs a special back bench for ex-Ministers. Scattered all over the world in all kinds of jobs are ex-Ministers who disappeared, and ‘the man who must smile the most at this is His Excellency the Governor-General who does not know who is going to turn up from day to day as Leader of the Liberal Party, but he knows he should have had the job himself. This is the situation among the members of the Government and that is why I rose today to expose it. I think we have a high society government now and a low political one. All the women’s magazines tell us what has happened in the Liberal Party. The Prime Minister has been exposed in many ways in the Press about the contribution he will make to the high society columns and things of that nature. But this does not run a country, this does not save soldiers in Vietnam and it will not save the Prime Minister from the destruction that will come from within. Today I place on record my condemnation of a Prime Minister who will not announce his Ministry, of Ministers who are uninterested, of those who are seeking only personal power irrespective of its effect on the nation. I also express my sadness - I say it more in sorrow than in anger - at the public display of sordid intrigue, bitterness and hatred in this once great Party, if I may coin a phrase.
– I had intended to speak on a different subject but I think I had better make some comments regarding the speech made by the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly), after which, before he leaves the House, I will make some remarks regarding the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). First of all, regarding the honourable member for Grayndler, let us test what he said. He said that the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) is afraid to announce his Ministry and will not do so until the House rises for recess. Is this true? Later this year the House will rise for the winter recess and this means that if in the meantime the Prime Minister announces his Ministry the honourable member for Grayndler is wrong and if he does not announce it until after we rise for the winter recess then the honourable member is right. There is a way of finding out these things. The honourable member for Grayndler also said that the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns) would not continue to serve as Deputy Whip under the former Prime Minister. What a ridiculous thing to say. The honourable member for Lilley has never been Deputy Government Whip in this House. How can he continue to serve if he has never been Deputy Whip? When the honourable member for Grayndler puts things forward they are completely wrong.
I am the Deputy Whip in this Parliament and I should know. But the honourable member for Grayndler gets up and makes a speech and says ‘I am told’. Who is telling him these things? That is a very easy thing to say. He also said that Ministers are walking about the House in a trance. I have not noticed that. During question time the answers which Ministers have given have been right up to date. Everything has been going on normally, therefore how could one work out the things that are being said by the honourable member for Grayndler? They have not one iota of truth in them.
– I rise to order. Do I have to put up with this bitter personal attack, Mr Deputy Speaker?
- (Mr Lucock) - Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– Of course, when the honourable member for Grayndler gets an opportunity of having what we might call in the House the drop on a member because a member has spoken before him he is ruthless in what he says. A lot of honourable members do not know that the honourable member for Grayndler and I took part in debates for week after week. This was reported as one of the main items in the Melbourne ‘Herald’ column Overnight in Canberra.’ Look at the honourable member blushing now. In those debates I soundly thrashed him on every occasion. When I say ‘soundly thrashed him’ I want to put emphasis on that because if honourable members go back and look at the statements on these subjects in the Herald’ they will be able to read them in cold print and not have to say that somebody told them. There is one other thing I want to say about the honourable member and I want to be as kind as possible to him. As honourable members know, and if they do not know they should watch and learn, that I never tackle personalities, only policies. But when a man makes statements like this they must be answered or people throughout the nation would think they were true.
The crowning thing said by the honourable member for Grayndler - this was reported in Hansard - was that the former leader of the Country Party would not have a bar of the present Prime Minister. The honourable member generally likes to tie me in with his statements and he said: The honourable member for Mallee supports this right up to the hilt’. Honourable members should read what I said, as reported in Hansard. The only way 1 could speak was to take a point of order, as I did the other day on much the same sort of occasion. I said: ‘Mr Speaker, have I to sit here and listen to the honourable member for Grayndler making statements in which there is not one iota of truth?’ How could he say that I was in it? The honourable member will say anything at all if he can get away with it. We know that. We in the Country Party treat him more or less as a joke because now and again he is amusing. I believe that an amusing speaker sometimes eases the stress of a debate. We had a very good illustration of this during a debate last week in which there was a lot of tension. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) was making a startling speech about one thing and another and the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) - the former leader of the Labor Party- said: ‘Rubbish’. That broke the whole thing up. Everybody laughed and the tension was dissolved. So I give the honourable member for Grayndler credit for reducing the tension. But why he always tries to tackle me I do not know. 1 want to say something quickly about the honourable member for Dawson because I promised I would and he is waiting for it. As far as he is concerned by interjection I said that I had had enough of him and could not stand him any more. If I did not explain that statement people reading Hansard would say: The honourable member for Mallee should not be saying these things’. I cannot understand some things-
– We all know that.
– I meant that I cannot understand some of the things that the honourable member for Dawson does. I extend the best of good will to him as I do to every honourable member, but every chance he gets he makes some sort of a hit at me. The other day he said that I read my speech like a parrot.
– That is true, is it not?
– Never true.
– There, the honourable member’s own relation says that it is never true. But the whole point is that honourable members know that I do not read my speeches. The other night I read extensively from the second reading speech made by the Treasurer (Mr Bury) on a wheat Bill in order to explain what was happening because the debate had been going on for so long that no-one seemed to understand what the Bill was about. Then the honourable member for Dawson spoke. I do not really want to go into what he said, but let me say to him: You would be much more appreciated not only by me but by the whole House if you kept away from these ridiculous statements you make about people reading like parrots, and so on. I will admit that I am a lot better speaker than I am a reader. That is because I do not read speeches, I make them. If the honourable member finds any fault in that he should get up and say so.
The subject on which I had intended to speak I will have to leave altogether. I want to comment on the attack on the new Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt). Dear me, I do not know why a new Minister should be attacked and damned before he starts on the job. He is a man of high intellect and good education, a man dedicated to the proposition of representing the people. Having been placed in this position he will, of course, do his best. So I cannot see why this attack should be made upon him. There are only about 3 members in the House who would do this. All the others would not make unqualified attacks on him or me because I will not do that to them. I realise that there is only one member who does things such as walking up and looking a member right in the eye when he is speaking, as the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster) does. This is not appreciated. Now he has done it again. When I asked the Deputy Speaker to do something the honourable member said:
I do not know of anything in the Standing Orders which would allow an honourable member to be charged with dumb insolence.
That is what he said. It is certainly dumb insolence which he puts across to me on occasions but most times it is the very opposite to dumb. He sounds like a fog horn in my ear. I do not challenge very much - I am generally challenged - but I have challenged the Australian Labor Party to take from this corner near me the honourable member for Sturt who has just walked in and again shown dumb insollence, as he calls it, put htm in the centre of the Labor Party benches and put up with him. I make this request for the simple reason that I sit near the honourable member for Sturt and when I start protesting I am called to order by the Speaker. But the point is that the honourable member for Sturt is cunning and the remarks which he makes about different people - myself included - are in an undertone and the Speaker does not hear. If the Speaker heard these things he would immediately order that the honourable member withdraw or he would name him.
Let me issue the challenge to the Labor Party again: Do not leave me in the hot seat here. Put this member over on the other side of the House in the midst of its members and let them put up with him. I do not think that Labor Party members would put up with him at all. Those on the other side of him have to put up with him but I have to put up with him on this side. If the honourable member were moved the Labor Party members on both sides would have to put up with him. I hope that things will be straightened out. I even have a hope that the honourable member will mend his ways and not interject and call out continually in the House.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I want to raise a matter which ought to be of concern to the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Snedden). I advised him that I was going to raise a matter of concern to him. I rather regret that he has not come into the House but I hope he will do so shortly. The matter I want to raise is of the utmost importance concerning the vehicle building industry and especially the Chrysler Aust. Ltd plant at Lonsdale in my electorate. It is apparent that the motor companies have taken a decision to use strong arm tactics against their own employees, regardless of the consequences, not only to the employees and their families but also to the motoring public. No doubt the House is aware of the reports which appeared in yesterday’s Press that the 2 major car companies in South Australia - General Motors-Holden’s Pty Ltd and the Chrysler company - have adopted a get tough policy with trade unions ki recent disputes. The immediate problem began with the reduction of a bonus payment to an inspector employed at the engine plant at Chryslers,. Lonsdale. Apparently the company stated that the reason for the dismissal was that it was dissatisfied with the attitude and performance of that particular employee over the last year. The employee was apparently taken by surprise as were the other inspectors as this man had not been given any warning or reprimand over the last year.
In support of their fellow worker 11 inspectors notified the company the next morning that they were not prepared to fill out the company inspection sheets although they did say that they would continue to inspect. Within 3 hours all 11 inspectors were individually dismissed. Subsequently the company announced that it was not prepared to reinstate the men as inspectors as in future the work was to be carried out by people on a different classification. The company said that the men could apply for work in a month’s time when they could be re-employed but, if so, it would be in a different classification. Furthermore the Chrysler company warned the executive of the Vehicle Builders Employees Federation of Australia - one of the two unions involved - that if it endorsed a ban on their work it would stand down sections of the Lonsdale plant and other lay offs would take place at the plant at Tonsley Park. One could be pardoned for being highly suspicious of this action on the part of the company. A man is dismissed for spurious reasons, clearly an act of provocation. Eleven men are then dismissed and by a curious coincidence the company announced that the inspectors’ work is to be discontinued anyway. The company, to enforce its claims, has intimidated the workers by a threat of what amounts to a lock-out.
Now that these men are out of work and the company is applying its stand over tactics an extremely serious situation has arisen. I have been informed that on Tuesday of this week a fault in some steering knuckles was missed. In the morning shift SOO cracked steering knuckles escaped detection because they were not inspected. They were not discovered until the afternoon shift on which some inspectors are still working. It may be argued that this does not matter because the defects were eventually detected. But the important point is that in the normal course of events the faults would have been detected earlier. If the steering knuckles had been inspected earlier they would have been discovered. In fact, if any inspector had been there and actually missed the defects no doubt he would have been dismissed. This situation came about after the company made public statements last week that the vehicles were being adequately inspected.
It is all very well for the Minister for Labour and National Service to complain about the activities of militant unions as he has done in recent months but the unions concerned are extremely worried about the future of the industry. The manufacturers plan to reduce the. frequency of altering their vehicle designs from 2- yearly to 5-yearly. This has already resulted in the retrenchment of 65 pattern makers by General Motors-Holden’s. All the employees feel that the writing is on the wall and that the companies are seizing the opportunity to show their muscle.
The unions served a log of claims on the companies last December which included the matter of severance pay. With the lay offs at General Motors-Holden’s the Vehicle Builders Employees Federation and the Amalgamated Engineering Union have sought to have the matter brought on as a matter of urgency. But the companies are stalling for time. A conciliator has been appointed but the company has refused to submit any proposals for consideration. The matter has now been set down for arbitration but there appears to be no sense of urgency - on the part of the Government. The Vehicle Builders Employees Federation Federal Council met in Adelaide this week. The Minister should know that a resolution was passed condemning the Federal Government for the lack of sufficient people on the Commonwealth Arbitration Commission to deal with urgent cases such as these as quickly as it should. Lately all the Minister has done is to bleat about what he regards as excessive wage rises. I would have thought that the principal role of the Minister of Labour and National Service and the Government would be to safeguard the security of every wage and salary earner. I ask the Minister to do everything he can to expedite the discussions on severance pay. I think he should also consider as a matter of the utmost urgency the propriety and legality of the stand over tactics employed by these predatory companies. The matter of the safety of motor vehicles corning off the assembly line should be enough to shake the Government from its torpor. But if that is not enough, men are out of work and job security is under threat. That ought to be enough to goad the Minister into action.
– This morning we have been entertained by the honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly). It is good to have these little entertainments from time to time but when one looks at the opposite side one cannot help but feel sorry for the wonderful grass roots of the Australian Labor Party which are now about to be weeded out. We have seen my personal friend the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) and the honourable member for Stirling (Mr Webb), who are both grass root members of the Labor Party, weeded out. There will be some difficulty in rooting out the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones) and the honourable member for Grayndler. The people who would love to dispose of those honourable members are not likely to come back here after the 1972 election. So I think that my honourable friend from Grayndler and the honourable member for Newcastle will still be in their positions on the Opposition front bench. I trust that my honourable friend from Macquarie will be reinstated to the position he held before the semiintellectuals came here last year.
Last night during the adjournment debate I spoke on the Australian Wool Commission. I stated how wrong it was to give false hope and false promises to wool growers who are thinking of relinquishing wool growing when there is no immediate hope for the future. The minimum time that will elapse before the problems of the wool industry can be sorted out is 2 years, and many people in the industry will go through difficult times that they would not endure if it were not for these false hopes that are raised from time to time.
Today I want to speak more particularly about the Australian Industry Development Corporation. Of course, my attitude and that of 4 other members of the Liberal Party in relation to this Corporation was made known when the Bill relating to its establishment was before the House. I do not doubt the sincerity of those people who initiated this scheme. They had grandiose ideas of what it could accomplish but they did not make the intense inquiries and do the research that was necessary before such an instrumentality was set up. It is alarming to see that the Director of this Corporation has such amazing powers. In his endeavour to recruit personnel to the Corporation he is offering huge salaries a,t a time when other people are being requested to accept lower salaries. He is offering all types of inducements to people to join the Corporation. I suggest that the Government think again before we become involved in heavy expenditure assisting the establishment of a corporation that I doubt will be very successful in achieving the purpose for which it has been formed. My business training and tuition tell me that it will be right against it from the start and that it will have only a remote chance of succeeding.
I am positive that anything the Australian Industry Development Corporation can do the Australian Resources Development Bank can do much better and at much less cost. This bank has the necessary framework and its personnel have had long years of training in doing exactly as this Government would like it to do. Its charter may have to be altered. But why have 2 instrumentalities in almost the same field operating at the cost of Australia? I plead with the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) and the Cabinet to give this matter very serious thought. Of course we require more Australian equity in Australian companies, but we must admit that until a few years ago it was very difficult to get Australian capital invested in Australian enterprises, especially if there was an element of risk. But Australian investors have .gained confidence because of the inflow of capital from overseas and now there is an increased disposition towards Australian equity investment in Australian companies. We need this foreign capital inflow, but no organisation, by paying great salaries and offering very wonderful terms and conditions of employment, can attract capital from over seas at the desired interest rate unless that capital is available and is readily able to be employed in the companies of Australia.
This Corporation will be approached for financial assistance only by companies that are in dire straits, and therefore the risk that is attendant in assisting such companies is great. Another influence on the activities of the AIDC will be the interest rate abroad. At the time of the establishment of this Corporation the interest rates abroad were between 10 per cent and 12 per cent. It would not be reasonable, right or just to borrow money at that rate of interest. So I plead with the Government to heed what I have said before this enormous Corporation begins its operations. I particularly emphasise the power it will have to make agreements in regard to salaries and terms of employment. I trust that the charter of the Australian Resources Development Bank will be altered to allow it to take over the functions for which the AIDC has been set up because I know that it will be almost virtually impossible for the AIDC to function successfully under the terms of the Act which established it.
– On Saturday people in the electorate of Murray will be casting a vote in a federal by-election. I want to say something about that area and to draw the attention of its people to the fact that this Government, which is running 2 candidates - one in the name of the Country Party and one in the name of the Liberal Party - has shown gross, utter and irresponsible neglect of that area in the matter of shipping freights and in other fields. A measure of the Government’s incredible apathy in the past to the problems of the local industries is the loss of $2m worth of pears because the Government, through the Reserve Bank of Australia, denied the canneries financial means to maintain a reasonable throughput. The Government, by this action, has saddled the canneries with high unit operating costs and 20,000 tons of good fruit have been turned into the ground. This has taken $2m out of the growers’ pockets, thus vastly reducing their standard of living. Events have gone to such an extent that one poor unfortunate grower was forced to the point of desperation. On one occasion when he was on the weighbridge in Shepparton he was told that the canneries could not take his fruit and he resorted to violence. It is the Government which was responsible for the violence into which that unfortunate person was forced on that afternoon.
The Government’s attitude towards this industry and the people in the town and district concerned is completely in line with its incredible apathy in Parliament itself. The nation is faced with more complex economic problems than ever before, but the Senate abandoned its sittings yesterday because of lack of business. The Government does not have enough business to keep the Senate in session. This afternoon the House of Representatives will disperse for 10 days. The Opposition has carried the Parliament this week. We carried the Parliament last week. The Opposition has kept Parliament in session because the Government did not have legislation or other business to deal with or even the energy to report to the nation on the great range of vital matters which now concern us. The Opposition forced the Government to pay attention to the crises in education and the wool industry. We provided speakers in the debates on the matters, few as they were, which came before the House. Yesterday the Government Parties saw lit not to provide speakers on a Bill before the House and left it to Opposition members to carry the debate. The tiredness and apathy of the Government are reflected in the fact that it prefers to gag Parliament and to send us away so that it can continue to govern through Press leaks and what have you.
Yesterday afternoon in the course of a debate 1 was gagged when I wanted to repeat in this chamber some of the statements made by a former Minister for Shipping and Transport who now holds another portfolio, the administration of which should be conducted in the interests of electors in the Murray division. But of course, since his appointment as Minister for Primary Industry he has had nothing to say that would in any way encourage the electors of the Murray division to support a candidate from the Government Parties. I have pointed out to honourable members before that the last member for Murray packed a bag with $40m and trotted off overseas. He said: ‘I will get the growers, the real people of this country, a better deal in shipping’. Sir John McEwen may know where that $40m is now. I wish to quote from a speech made in this House by Sir John McEwen on 19th October 1970, in which he said:
The Government in its support for, and participation in, the introduction of the container system between Australia and the United Kingdom and Europe believed that the new system seemed likely to reduce costs and enable either freight reduction or greater stability in freights than in the past, where there has been a history of constant freight increases.
He did nothing to bring about that result. He admitted his absolute and utter defeat to further the interests of the people of his electorate and the rural industries generally when he made that statement in the House before his retirement. He boasted that the expenditure of $40m to participate in the Conference Line shipping arrangements would give us a voice to protect the shippers of this country and thus to protect the community generally. Of course, his boast was not made good.
During the last parliamentary recess many Ministers beat their bongo drums. Mr Sinclair, who was then Minister for Shipping and Transport, attended a conference of the Australian Country Party held in Griffith, located in a rural electorate. He said in addressing the conference that there was no justification for the increases in shipping freights. He made that statement in June of last year. In July he made another very strong and positive statement that the provisions of the Trade Practices Act would be invoked against the shipowners. Has he done that? Has he told the House that he has had that action in mind? Has any member of the Cabinet told us here that he would take a stand against these commercial and business pirates? Not at all. Mr Sinclair made those bold statements to a Country Party conference and then came in here like a hypocrite. Of course he is hypocritical by his silence. In fact, they all are hypocritical.
– Order! I suggest that the honourable member withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw the remark because I want to tell the House of some further statements he made. The legislation has been found to be useless as far as shipping freights are concerned. It is time the Government did something positive about freights and about the managerial policies necessary to bring this industry up to the desired level. He said at the Country Party conference that action was being taken for the benefit of country people.
– Who said that?
- Mr Sinclair said it, the present Minister for Primary Industry. It is on record that he said it. Press cuttings available in the Library will confirm it. The Minister has done nothing for the people he is supposed to represent here. If he as a Country Party Minister is not prepared to recognise the needs of the people he represents, how the hell can he expect his lesser numbers in this place properly to represent the people they purport to represent. Members of the Country Party stand condemned because of their inaction and failure properly to represent the fruit growers and people in country areas generally.
– Order! It is now 15 minutes to 1 o’clock and in accordance with standing order 106 the debate is interrupted. I put the question:
That grievances be noted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
Debate resumed from 24th February (vide page 591), on motion by Mr Chipp:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– This Bill, which is supported by the Opposition, amends the Customs Act to bring in certain new terms and certain new provisions in relation to the payment of customs duties and the granting of refunds of duty so that the Act will be more up to date and more in line with present day practices. As far as I can ascertain there is nothing in this Bill that is in any way objectionable and the Opposition supports it. The kinds of changes that the Bill introduces are those mentioned by the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp). Section 137 of the Customs Act which was made law in 1901 presently provides for the payment of duty in British currency. It is now being changed after 70 years to Australian currency. One might have expected the change would have occurred somewhat earlier.
– It was changed to Australian currency in 1947 and it is amended to include cheques and other currency.
– I see. The Act was amended in 1947 to provide for payment of duty in Australian currency. The practice, we are told, is to accept bank cheques and other forms of guaranteed cheques in payment of duties and this is contrary to section 137. Therefore, section 137 has to be repealed. Also to be repealed is section 163. It appears there is some inflexibility in its provisions in relation to the operation of commodity control, and in order to get rid of this it is proposed that the provisions be amended. The provisions seem to me to be technical ones that are necessary and I do not think there is any point in trying to go beyond the provisions of the Bill to introduce matter which one might argue is relevant to customs but not relevant to the Bill. I have no intention of doing that. The Opposition supports the Bill and I will not take up any more time on it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Chipp) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 24 February (vide page 597), on motion by Mr Killen:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition supports this Bill. In his second reading speech the Minister for the Navy (Mr Killen) gave an admirable historical survey of the background to this piece of legislation. Unfortunately he gave the House very little else. He did make the excuse that he had no prepared speechbut that it all came out of, as he termed it, the hollow of his head. His speech lacked the detail which should have been made available to the House in order that it can properly consider this Bill. I do not offer this as criticism of the Minister because, although he spoke out of the hollow of his head on that occasion, he spoke with his usual fluency and indicated that he had an extremely good background knowledge of the history of sea cadets in the Royal Australian Navy. May I take the opportunity at this stage to say quite frankly that, even though he has not had the opportunity to introduce : great number of Bills on behalf of the Department of the Navy, the Minister is competently administering the Department. What I said earlier was not offered in any sense as criticism of the Minister. 1 have known him to be at all times most courteous, reliable and certainly quite generous in replying to queries of honourable members. The honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross) has placed a question on the notice paper seeking the information which the Minister should have given to the House in his second reading speech.
Briefly the position is that an organisation known as the Australian Sea Cadet Corps has existed for more than 40 years under what could be described as the leadership of the Navy League, which is a voluntary body. The Corps was formed to create and foster interest in naval and maritime life. Although it was sponsored by an organisation which is dedicated to the Navy, its activities were not confined exclusively to the Navy. For this reason a liaison was established with the Australian National Line in the functioning of the Sea Cadet Corps. The intention was to stimulate the interest of youth in the whole range of maritime activity. This was a worthy objective in a country such as Australia, which has a traditional reliance on maritime commerce.
The sea cadet organisation which was sponsored by the Navy League was given recognition in principle, as the Minister pointed out, by the Naval Board in 1949. In 1952 the Naval Defence Act was amended so that the Board could give direct assistance to the Sea Cadet Corps. Regulations were made in 1954 to enable the Board to give this assistance. This meant that the Navy could give a certain measure of practical assistance to the Sea Cadet Corps. This assistance comprised the appointment of officers and instructors, training and administrative assistance, the provision of uniforms, stores and equipment and the payment of a capitation fee. The Navy League remained responsible for accommodation and facilities not provided by the Navy, such as recreational equipment. lt also remained responsible for the day to day administration of the Corps.
I have on a number of occasions in the past offered criticisms in this House of this aspect of the administration of the Sea Cadet Corps. This Bill will give expression to my belief that the Sea Cadet Corps should be placed on the same basis as the Army and Air Force cadet corps. I have expressed this opinion in the House on a number of occasions. These changes took some of the burden off the Navy League, but they did not provide the central administration for the Corps. The administration was left to the State divisions of the Navy League, which made national coordination difficult. There were also difficulties for the League in providing suitable accommodation and facilities for the units which comprise the Corps. Capital spending on accommodation was a heavy burden on the League’s resources. Without simple direction the Sea Cadet Corps was not a corps in the sense of being an organised body, lt was organised on State lines, which tended to restrict the outlook of individual units to State borders. The Navy League and the Navy recognised that the basic weakness of the structure was the division of responsibility between them. The amendments before the House are designed to remove this division of responsibility and to transfer sole authority for administration of the Sea Cadet Corps to the Naval Board. The Navy also takes over responsibility for accommodation. This also means that the taxpayer assumes the full responsibility for maintaining the existence of sea cadets. The Minister did not give an estimate of the extra charge on the Budget of this transfer of authority. There is no information in the appropriations on the annual cost of the Sea Cadet Corps to the Navy. The only figures I have been able to find are sadly out of date. According to these figures the Navy spent about $100,000 in 1964-65 on approximately 2,500 sea cadets - about $40 a head. The Navy League contribution amounted to $28 a head, giving total spending of $68 a head- about $170,000 a year in ali. The Minister said that the present strength of the Cadet Corps was about 2,000. Allowing for increased costs I doubt that the annual cost to the Treasury would be more than $170,000 a year; it may be even less. Perhaps the Minister could outline financial details when he winds up the debate. Whatever the total cost, it seems to me to be reasonable and acceptable.
The Minister pointed out that the sea cadet structure in Australia is mainly comprised of open units, that is, units which are open to all volunteers and are not confined to members of a school or other institution. There has been some criticism of the Army cadet system in recent years because too much of the assistance provided by the Commonwealth flows to wealthier schools which can maintain big units. The traditional system where even a small secondary school could sustain a modest cadet unit seems to have disappeared, perhaps because of basic changes in the education structure of the States in recent years.
I should like to make one or two observations on the Army Cadet system relative to the larger schools and the smaller schools. I am one of those members in this House - I have no doubt that the opinions I express are shared by most honourable members - who believe that the Army Cadet Corps and the Air Force Cadet Corps in Australia have provided a useful, indeed an important, nucleus of young men for the permanent Army, the Air Force or the Navy. I think it is from this source that the country has always been able to attract those who accept the leadership responsibilities so necessary in the various Services. This certainly applies to the Royal Military College, Duntroon. It would be interesting to analyse the figures available to ascertain bow many of those who have successfully undertaken courses at Duntroon or at one of the other training colleges for either of the other Services initially came from the Army Cadet Corps, the Air Force Cadet Corps or the Navy Cadet Corps. I think the number would be considerable.
The Opposition believes that ultimately we must attract in this country a completely voluntary system of defence forces. It believes also that this can be attained. For this reason, the cadet corps, whether of the Navy, the Army or the Air Force, is of great importance. The numbers in these corps should not be allowed to diminish; indeed, they should be encouraged. Therefore, if there is some difficulty in providing cadet corps in the smaller schools of the State school system which lack the facilities that are automatically available in some of the larger private schools, I think that the situation should be remedied. I put this forward as a reasonable suggestion to both the Minister for the Navy (Mr Killen) and the Minister for the Army (Mr Peacock).
I return to the matter before the House. The criticism of the Army cadet system to which I have referred cannot be levelled at the Sea Cadet Corps. The Minister said there were 3 schools with Royal Australian Naval Reserve cadet units. These units numbered 116 or 120 cadets, compared with the 1,900 or so cadets in the Australian Sea Cadet Corps. There are more than 30 open units, and 3 closed units. The information I have is not up to date but I understand the 3 school units are at the Macquarie High School in Sydney, the Geelong Grammar School, and the Brisbane Church of England Grammar School. If this information is not up to date, I hope the Minister will correct it. If correct, it would not indicate to me an excessive allocation of resources to wealthier schools at the expense of open units which all young men with an interest in maritime life can join.
One aspect of this legislation which should be clarified is the future role of the Navy League in the work of the Sea Cadet Corps. I understand this is the subject of discussion between the Minister and the League at the moment. It is appropriate that a voluntary body which has put such a huge effort in both cash and labour into forming and administering sea cadet units should be assured of a significant role in the continued operation of the Corps, even though the primary burden has been transferred to the Naval Board. It has been suggested that the League could still be able to provide amenities additional to those supplied by the Navy. I hope that the Minister looks at this side of the shift of responsibility and writes into the regulations a significant and clearly defined role for the Navy League which has made a remarkable contribution to naval and maritime education in this country.
I have learned from discussions that I have had with people who are associated with the Navy League that the Minister himself has had discussions with them. He therefore, as he said in his second reading speech, is in a position to know and appreciate the magnificent contribution that this organisation has made - I have mentioned this already to the House - on a completely voluntary basis over a very long period. Indeed one can say without fear of contradiction that had it not been for the Navy League and its activities, and the voluntary work that it has done over a lengthy period, it is very doubtful whether the Navy Sea Cadet Corps would still be in existence. Certainly the Government has moved from time to time, as I have indicated to the House, to make some improvements in the structure of the organisation, but I think even since 1954 when the last major amendments were made to the Act the greater responsibility has fallen upon the Navy League. I appeal to the Minister to give every consideration to the points that I have made in respect to the future of the Navy League to ensure that its activities are not only accepted as a responsibility at Government level but indeed are encouraged by the Government.
– The amendment to the Naval Defence Act which is now before the House is designed to change 39 Navy League Sea Cadet Units into Naval Reserve Cadet Unite and to transfer responsibility for them from the Civilian, voluntary Navy League to the Naval Board in Canberra. This places these cadets in the same relationship to the Navy as the Army Cadet Corps and the Air Training Corps are (o their parent Services. I am sure that this step is necessary. The running of the Sea Cadet Corps is becoming increasingly beyond the financial and administrative resources of the Navy League, and unless something radical is done the Sea Cadet Corps will inevitably decline in numbers or standards, and more probably in both.
Nevertheless, we first have to determine what the purposes of these cadets should be. I believe there are 2. The first is to give young men who are interested in the sea, and the Navy, in particular, some knowledge of the subject. The second is to provide recruits for the regular and reserve naval forces. For both of these purposes it is important that training should be realistic and instructors well informed and up to date. If service at” sea is not truly repre sented - and the sea is a harsh task mistress - we may achieve many dissatisfied recruits and this in the long run will be harmful to both the individuals and the Service departments. At the moment I understand that 15 per cent to 20 per cent of sea cadets apply to join the regular Navy and about half that number are accepted. Others join the merchant service for the Navy League encourages life at sea, not merely service in the Navy.
As a by-product these cadet units provide a community youth service. Although this is beneficial it is not a prime purpose of their existence. If the Navy League Sea Cadet units are to survive their transfer to naval control we must continue to interest the local community in their activities through supervising committees of local citizens. This is absolutely vital if these cadet units are to thrive. The case of the closed units is different. Closed units are those normally based in schools to which membership is limited to students of the particular school. Some years ago there were quite a number of these closed Sea Cadet units but gradually they have disappeared until today there is only one. This seems lo have been caused solely by the shortage of suitable masters with naval experience. World War II veterans are fast fading away or perhaps ex-sailors do not become schoolmasters. I think the same problem which has nearly destroyed the Sea Cadet units in schools will overtake the much larger Army cadet units in the not too distant future. In a few years there, will not be many masters with Army experience and if these Army cadet units survive, the cadets will be taught by officers with little or no practical military experience. I believe this is happening already and many of the school cadet units are becoming counterproductive - that is if the aim is to interest boys in the Army and attract some of them into Army careers.
If these school cadet units are to continue, and I believe they should, I think the Services will have to provide much more training support than they have in the past.. But if this radical step is taken, I think at the same time the school cadet units should be changed from Army cadet units to combined cadet units in which, after a common basic training, cadets will be assigned to the Service in which they are most interested for further training.
This is the system for school cadet units in Britain and I think it is a good system. It is surely in line with our future military requirements.
But whatever decision is taken about the school cadet units, if the Navy is to run the Navy League cadet units effectively some change of policy is essential - a firm coherent policy, not a drift during a series of interregnums. The responsibility for the policy and administration of these new cadet units will be with the naval Director of Reserves in Canberra. There have been 11 Directors of Reserves in the last 10 years, including 3 in the last year. This may be acceptable to the Reserves, although I doubt it, but it certainly would not be acceptable if the Navy were to take on this large new commitment of more than 2.000 sea cadets.
It is not only in policy directions that the Navy will be accepting an additional load. These cadet units will be receiving large quantities of Navy stores, bookkeeping for which will certainly be beyond their unaided capacity. If we are to avoid administrative chaos the Navy will have to be prepared to provide substantial assistance with storekeeping. The same applies to training. If training is to be realistic and efficient, as it must be if we are to achieve our aims, the regular Navy will have to be prepared to provide substantial equipment and instructors. I am told that the Air Force has about 70 regular personnel dealing full time with the Air Training Corps which has a strength of about 6,000. I am sure that a comparable commitment will be required from the Navy for these new reserve cadets. I should like an assurance from the Minister for the Navy (Mr Killen) that the Navy has accepted this full commitment as well as the titular responsibility.
Although the Navy League is not mentioned in the amendment we are considering, the future of the Navy League must be of great importance to this House. I think its future lies in 2 fields. Firstly I think that the League can assist in the expansion of cadet units. At present there are 39 sea cadet units with 300 officers and instructors and 2,000 cadets, In a country such as Australia we should have many more units to cater for young men who could be interested in this Service. In the great city of Melbourne, for instance, there are only 2 units. The establishment of new units is not easy. It requires the dedicated efforts of a committee ,of volunteers, the attraction of suitable instructors and the enlistment of local youths. I think the Navy League could perform in all these roles more effectively than the Naval Board or the local naval authority. Once a unit was formed it would, ‘ of course, be handed over to naval administration under the provisions of this Act. But the Navy League would have performed an invaluable service in creating these units - and such a rule is clearly in: accordance with the spirit of the memorandum of association of the Navy League. ,.
The second field of future activity of the Navy League should be to foster understanding in the community of the role of maritime power and the. importance of the Navy. This purpose is clearly set out in the Memorandum of Association of the Navy League. But it is a purpose from which the League has been deflected by the strain of running its Sea Cadet Corps. When the League is relieved of this administrative and financial load it should he able to devote more attention to expounding the role of sea power. This is a vital task. The only possible threat to the [territorial integrity of this country comes from across the sea. The greatest threat to our economic life is the cutting of ‘ our sea communications. We are an island people and for us, no less than for seventeenth century England, it is true to say: ‘It is upon the Navy which, under the, : good providence of God, the wealth, safety and strength of this country do chiefly depend’.
– in .reply - I would like to assure my honourable friend the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Barnard) that I did not take the slightest objection to what he described as being a criticism. Indeed, if it is to represent an impeachment 1 would regard it as the most gentle and certainly the most generous impeachment every made of any member on this House. I would like to thank my honourable and gallant friend very much indeed for his kind words. I did not weary the House in my second reading speech with minutiae. I hope that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition will not think it awry when I say that I believe that the disposition of this House is that a host of figures and details in second reading speechs can make the speeches somewhat wearying. 1 do not want to anaesthetise the House in any way. But I would like to assure the honourable gentleman that the question asked by the honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross) can and will be answered speedily. I think this would be an indication of the fact that the information is readily available.
The honourable gentleman particularly asked me whether I could give an indication of what the amalgamation will represent in terms of change. 1 am informed that the cost of the amalgamation for the next financial year will be of the order of $46,000 in terms of allowances and pay. It is not known what will be involved in terms of expenditure for buildings and so forth. I am further informed in regard to recruiting that in the period for which statistics have been kept 6 to 8 per cent of the total number of cadets who have been through the Naval Reserve Cadets and the Australian Sea Cadets Corps have become eligible to join the Royal Australian Navy. 1 suppose one may be at liberty to hold some disquiet that the figures are not greater. However, I suppose it is intelligible that many young boys find an interest in the sea and join the Sea Cadets at an early age, and that their interest is not sustained in later life for a variety of reasons.
The other point raised by the honourable gentleman and also by the honourable and gallant member for Isaacs (Mr Hamer) involves the future role of the Navy League. I should like both honourable gentlemen to understand that the Naval Board will be seeking anxiously to try to find a real and vital role for the Navy League. I believe that I indicated in my second reading speech that the Australian community, in its corporate sense, is superbly served by voluntary organisations. I dip my lid to the likes of the Navy League and the superb work that these people have done. It is not going to be easy to decide the relationship between the League and the Navy and I would excuse myself from trying to hammer out some clinic style formula ‘ as to what the relationship will be. I suppose this will provide an ample opportunity for the pragmatism of politics to assert itself and that pragmatism will be asserted. There is a tremendous amount of goodwill in the Navy League towards the work of the Royal Australian
Navy and there is a tremendous amount of admiration held by the RAN for those who have served in the Navy League. 1 listened with interest to what the honourable member for Isaacs said in arguing that there should be a single cadet unit, as I understood his argument, within the schools. Plainly that is a matter of Government policy to which, so far as 1 am aware, no concentrated attention has been given. Nevertheless, it is a suggestion of a constructive nature. I do not know what difficulties would be posed by adopting that suggestion, but I should like the honourable gentleman to know that his suggestion has not gone unheeded by me.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Killen) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 16 March (vide page 925), on motion by Mr Snedden:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Opposition does not oppose this Bill which is necessary in order to pass on to certain statutory office holders the increase granted in the national wage case. It is a short measure which will give the benefit of the much maligned 6 per cent national wage increase to a relatively small number of office holders who are not included in the normal framework of the Public Service. In dealing with this Bill I should like to refer briefly to the manner in which the measure has arisen, lt is true to say that the recent national wage case has been one of the most maligned pieces of conciliation and arbitration to have taken place in Australia since probably the 40-hour week case in 1947. The clear implication is that the Government has set itself out to destroy or weaken the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to such an extent that it cannot continue to function as an independent arbitral body. There is talk in the Parliament by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Snedden) and others of productivity indexes being used to govern national wage cases. There has been considerable talk about restraint, economic and otherwise, being placed on the Commission in the performance of its duties. I suggest that in addition to the constitutional limitations which exist in this field there is a real possibility that the entire arbitration structure would fail completely if limitations such as those which have been suggested publicly in this House were imposed on that body.
It is impossible to have an independent arbitration system. Within the limitations of our Constitution the present type of arbitration system has served Australia over a great number of years, as well as any system that could be devised. It is impossible for such a system to continue to operate effectively if we are to place on the Arbitration Commission limitations of a type which would prevent it from making judgments based on the arguments presented to it. After all, it is a body which is constituted to arbitrate. It is not a body to determine economic policy. It is not a wage fixing authority in the sense that it decides what national wages will be.
The job of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission is to arbitrate in interstate industrial disputes. The fact that the role of fixing minimum standards of wages throughout Australia has fallen upon the Commission is an accident of economic history thrust upon it by the lack of force of the Australian Constitution, most likely by a lack of foresight on the part of those who designed the Constitution, and by a lack of courage on the part of those who are responsible for giving effect to the provisions of the Constitution. These people do not have the courage necessary to go to the Australian people and to ask for the powers which are required to give governments the economic powers needed to control the Australian economy in the manner which they may think fit. These people do not do this because they are frightened of what another government might do with those powers once they are acquired. I think this is a just fear when, only in the last day or so, we have seen the type of approach the Government takes on important issues. It is prepared to defend a situation where retailers are compelled to maintain excessive profit margins because manufacturers demand that that be done.
The Minister for Labour and National Service has said consistently that he wants the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission to ignore totally price movements when it is fixing wages in this country.
-Order! I warn the honourable member that the scope of this Bill is fairly limited.
– Yes, Sir. I was relating my remarks to the fact that this Bill is designed to pass on the 6 per cent increase granted by the Commission’s judgment. The Bill seeks to restore to those statutory office holders who are mentioned in the First Schedule to the Bill an amount which is equivalent to slightly less than the purchasing power of the salaries such officers received prior to the national wage case judgment. In fact, the 6 per cent increase they are being granted does not give them a full measure of relief from the increased costs which have occurred in the community since the previous national wage case judgment.
Despite the record level of the increase which is being granted under this Bill, these officers are, in fact, in the position where their salaries would not be able to purchase as much as they would have been able to purchase had prices not increased by the amounts they have increased. They are in a similar position to other wage and salary earners in the community. They are in a situation where the Commission has reduced their actual salaries. Yet we find that extreme criticism has been levelled at the action of the Commission in restoring some part of the purchasing power of wages and salaries formerly received by persons mentioned in the First Schedule to this Bill, lt appears to me that the Government feels that it is irresponsible for people such as the office holders covered by this Bill to expect to. receive wages or salaries which will have a constant purchasing power. It seems that, according to the Government, the economic capacity of the country is healthy only if those people who work for wages and salaries, such as those mentioned in the Bill, are prepared to accept a declining proportion of the goods and services which they produce, which they assist to produce or which, because of their very important positions, they play an important administrative role in maintaining.
As the Minister for Labour and National Service has said, this is a very short measure. However, it is a measure which indicates that the Government itself is not prepared to take notice of the things which it says should be noted by the employers. The Opposition does not oppose the increase of 6 per cent in the salaries of these officers. However, the Government is on record for a long period as criticising industries, employers and unions for seeking to pass on national wage judgments to the over award salaries and the higher ranges of salaries, In this Bill the Government does exactly what it has criticised others for doing in the past. I hope that at some lime in the very near future we will have a better opportunity to debate much more fully the report of the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, Sir Richard Kirby, as well as productivity and other such matters as the Minister has raised.
In relation to this Bill I think it is important to point out that if in future we are to have national wage judgments incorporated in this type of legislation the Government will have- to place itself in a much more responsible position relative to the Commission and will have to act far more responsibly and far more like a government which expects the Commission to work and expects- the judgments of the Commission to be based on the facts presented to it and not based on pre-determined facts and figures presented by Government Ministers or by Prime Ministers, which is a . complete denial of the rights of this body. 1 would suggest that if similar actions were taken relative to the High Court or any other judicial body in the community the Minister concerned would be very seriously reprimanded by the judiciary and other people.
Because the Bill happens to deal with economic matters it appears that the Government feels it has the right to try to blackmail, bully or buffalo the Commission into accepting its decisions. The Opposition supports the Bill, but we do not support in any way the comments made by the Government over a considerable period which are designed to ‘ weaken and possibly destroy the arbitration system in Australia.
– The Opposition is in favour of the proposal because we are very mindful of the fact that it was an amendment insisted upon by the Opposition in the Senate - I think I am right - and accepted finally by the Government, which makes it necessary now to have this matter dealt with by way of an Act of Parliament. I think this is the proper way to do it. However, I am still not satisfied that we have fixed and that we are in this case fixing a rate of remuneration suitable to attract to the services of the Parliament sufficient people to do the drafting work that has to be done in this place.
The Parliamentary Counsel Act fixes the salary for the First Parliamentary Counsel at a rate equivalent to that paid to a permanent head of a department. It does not put it as high as the salary of a top level permanent head of a department, but nontheless it is the salary of a departmental permanent head. For that reason we are not dealing with his case. Although some people may think that SI 9,6 10 a year is a high salary for a second Parliamentary Counsel, it seems to me that it is still not high enough because we have been unable to attract .sufficient people to do the work that has to be done. It is a- pretty poor show when the Parliament of a nation is unable lo carry out its business because it has not the necessary staff to draft the Bills, lt is quite extraordinary and I think inexcusable that a parliament should find its work gummed up because it has not sufficient staff to ensure that Bills are ready when the Parliament is ready. Yet that is a fact of life.
This is not a criticism of this Government. Every government, for as long as we have had a national Parliament has had the same problems. We just cannot attract to the Parliament, with the salary now being offered, people who have the special skills and training required for drafting and who have the necessary legal qualifications. Perhaps drafting is an uninteresting job. Or perhaps, if a person became absorbed in it or became tied up in it it would become a very interesting job. One of the best lawyers this country has ever produced, that is the present Chief Justice, Sir Garfield Barwick, once said that a very good lawyer is not always a very good draftsman. When a man of such distinction in the law readily admits that drafting is something that is very often outside the capacity of the very best practising lawyer, we begin to understand the special training and expertise which is required to do the job. I know that this Government and preceding governments have been criticised and blamed for delays in bringing down legislation when it has not always been the fault of the Government but has been due to the fact that the Government has not got the drafting of the legislation completed.
One instance of delay is the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Bill. This Bill was in the process of being considered by draftsmen for 5 or 6 years before it reached the Parliament in 1970. Then the Government decided - I imagine this is the reason for the delay in proceeding with the legislation - to accede to some of the representations made to it by the Council of Commonwealth Public Service Organisations and the Australian Council of Trade Unions, and perhaps by other Commonwealth associations concerned with the Bill. Having decided to accede to some of the amendments which had been sought, the Government found that it could not proceed with the Bill until the amendments were drafted. The Government had two courses open to it. It could have said to the Council of Commonwealth Public Service Organisations: ‘We want the Bill to go through quickly and therefore it will have to go through in its present form’. Or it could have said: ‘Very well, we are impressed by what you say but we cannot bring the Bill in until we have had time to draft the amendments’, and that is what it finally did.
This is not good enough for the people of Australia who look to this place and to no other place for legislation covering areas in which we have the sole constitutional right to operate. It is not good enough that the desires of the Australian people for reform are held back simply because the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel has not sufficient staff. -It has been said, I know, that it would not matter how much were offered because wages reach a certain point beyond which it would not matter how much was offered the salary would not attract the extra staff. I do not deny that this is so. I can imagine that it could be true. The number of people qualified to act as Parliamentary Counsel is few. lt could be true that no matter what extra salary were offered, no additional applicants would apply for the position. The salaries of present employees would be increased but the real objective of the increase - namely, getting additional staff - would not be achieved.
If that is the position, perhaps the Attorney-General’s Department and the Attorney-General (Mr Hughes) could consider my submissions. The AttorneyGeneral is a very resourceful person. I hope he still occupies that position when the new Ministry is announced. I hope the Minister for the Army (Mr Peacock), who appears to have just about made it, is here too. He seems happy enough. However, 1 am more concerned that the Attorney-General should hold his position because to date he has shown himself to be resourceful enough, young enough and active enough to want to do things. It may be that he should give some consideration to introducing some well paid attractive cadetship for Parliamentary Counsel. Young lawyers who have just completed their law degree could join the staff. They would not necessarily need to have their articles or need to have been admitted to the Bar. They could be brought in as cadets and trained to do this job. In fact they might be spoilt if they had too much attachment to the Bar or if they had had too much to do with practising lawyers. It may be better if they came here straight from the universities. The Attorney-General should look at my proposal, if this is the only way of attracting staff, because the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel needs more staff and it needs them urgently.
That is all we say about the Bill, lt is a very proper Bill, lt passes on to Second Division officers the 6 per cent increase awarded by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission in the national wage case. It is proper also that payment be made retrospective to the date on which the national wage increases applied to all other grades. For those reasons we have much pleasure in supporting the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr Snedden) read a third time.
McMahon Ministry- Postal Department - Law and Order - Racism - Brisbane Airport - Democracy - Aboriginals
Motion (by Mr Snedden) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
-I desire to raise a matter on the motion for the adjournment of the House. From what is being said in this building it is apparent that 2 present Ministers will be deposed. A number of ministerial officers are frantically packing files and what have you. 1 think the House is entitled to be informed as to what is occurring as far as the Ministry and the Cabinet are concerned. However, the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) has seen fit to take himself off to some remote area of Victoria this afternoon, I understand, and leave quite a number of Ministers lamenting as to their fate. I understand that the Minister for the Navy (Mr Killen) is to be deposed. Whether the Prime Minister will take on that portfolio also I do not know. In addition I understand that the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) will be axed. This House should be informed as to the position rather than have statements made behind the Government’s back after the House rises today. Why is it that these changes that perhaps have been mooted for some weeks have been brought about? At least the House is entitled to know.
In addition to that the House is entitled to know, if there are to be changes, which members are going to replace the deposed Ministers. Are we to be left until such time as the Prime Minister sees fit to make a leak or some announcement to the Press to know whether a person whose standing in this place is most certainly at the lowest possible ebb will be included in the Cabinet or even in the Ministry? 1 refer to the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser). All these sorts of things ought to be the concern of this House and they ought to be the concern of the Prime Minister for that reason if for no other.
– Why do you say that the standing of the honourable member for Wannon is at such a low ebb?
– It is at a low ebb because he carried on in the manner he did, made a statement to the House as he did, expressed and admitted his own guilt in the matter in the way he did but expected to be the prince of the place in a week. In fact he is down to the lowest form of actor within the Parliament. As a matter of fact, one ought to get a copy of Henry Lawson’s poem T’m too old to rat’ and leave it at that.
– Are you suggesting he ratted on somebody?
– I suggest that he did, yes. In fact, I more than suggest it. What can we expect in the next week? Can it be said that the only Ministers who can leave this place this afternoon confident in the belief that they will be Ministers in the next few weeks or so are those 5 Country Party Ministers and perhaps the Prime Minister himself, in the absence of the Minister for Defence (Mr Gorton)? This Parliament is being ignored. Why should one have to rely on what one has observed going on in some ministerial offices in the last 2 days? Why should one be hesitant about placing a matter on behalf of one’s constituents before a particular Minister when the attitude of that Minister is such that he feels that he will not be a Minister for much longer? Yet another Minister who perhaps is in mid-air now enters this chamber. He does not know whether or not he is going to continue to be a Minister. He is already starting to walk out because I, a back bencher, am raising this matter. What is the position of the man whom the Liberal Party has seen fit, somewhat belatedly, to elect as its Prime Minister? This is not good government. This is no way to approach the problems of the electorate. I include the whole of Australia in that term.
If the Prime Minister considers it is right to make certain ministerial changes affecting his Cabinet ranks, and if the Liberal Party considers that to be within its God-given rights, fair enough. But at least the Prime Minister should not ignore the Parliament and turn his back on it. Honourable members should not have to go out into the corridors and hear from members of the community who frequent this place from time to time that they have been told to look for other jobs. What sort of a way is that to treat the Parliament of this country? I say to the Prime Minister that if what is being said around this place and if what one’s observations can confirm is going to be announced tomorrow or next week, he stands condemned for not making a proper announcement. Who is going to be the Minister for Social Services if the present Minister is deposed by this dictatorial method?
– His oiliness.
– God forbid. Surely it is not going to be the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay).
– He said ‘His Oiliness’.
– I beg your pardon. I thought he said ‘His Holiness’. However, that is by the way. The fact is that this House ought to be given ‘ some indication as to what changes are to be made. The Prime Minister should not take a week or so to do that. Honourable members should not have to rely on the type of information that is going around this House. How many Ministers can leave this afternoon and know that they may return to this place on Tuesday week as Ministers? Not many. 1 have a matter that I want to take up with a number of Ministers, and it is completely in the air. The only one with whom I can discuss some matters on behalf of my constituents, I suppose - if the previous Prime Minister has left his filing system intact - is the Prime ‘Minister on those odd and rare occasions when he is in this House. The other night I wanted to raise a matter on the adjournment. When I went to tell the Party Whip that I was going to raise a matter in this House concerning the Prime Minister I was told that he was not even in the .place. 1 do not intend to belabour the matter, other than to reiterate my condemnation of the type of government this country can expect from the person who is now its Prime Minister. Obviously he has been backing and filling over the last few days - almost since- his election - on what changes he will make, what moves he will make, whether he will be able to fit the honourable member for Wannon (Mr Malcolm Fraser) into a ministerial position without incurring the wrath of a great number of other members of the Party, whether the numbers game can continue to be played in his favour and a whole host of other things.-
This is purely party politics from a party man who says that members of the Liberal
Party are never told what they are to do but who has gone on record in the last week or so as making off post haste after his election as Prime Minister to confer with the top leaders of the Liberal Party.
– What about the honourable member for Lilley?
– If he gets into the Ministry the third political party i,i this Parliament, which has never been represented in this chamber, will virtually obtain representation here through the Prime Minister. 1 make that statement and suggest that if I am wrong the honourable member for Lilley ought to stand up and correct me in quite a forceful way.
I want to come back to the gods and lords of the Liberal Party. Members of the Liberal Party say that they are the masters of their own destiny in this place, that they do not ever say anything in this place other than what comes from their own heads and that they are completely absolved from any charge of outside control. Yet the Prime Minister is about to trot off to Queensland to patch up the disputes that exist there between the State and Federal bodies of the Party. If he is to do all the patching up that is necessary in the Liberal Party from the Young Liberals to the most far flung branch of the Party in the next 6 months, he will not be able to be in this chamber very much.
At the same time he has to have his eyes on what the Deputy Prime. Minister (Mr Anthony) might be doing on behalf of the Country Party. The situation in many country electorates today is spelling doom for that Party. Surely we cannot continue for much longer to see a situation in which a party that receives a smaller percentage of votes in House of Representatives elections than does even the Democratic Labor Party wins 20-odd seats in this place.
– lt is an absolute shame. It is a mockery of democracy. 1 leave the matter on that ‘basis. I hope that, whatever changes’ the Prime Minister is contemplating, he will ‘ do the right thing by the people - to whom he is giving the axe and make an announcement shortly. Apparently some people in this place are to be given the axe just because they are not prepared to vote the right way, to look the right way or to comb their hair the right way; no more than that.
– I cannot give as good a performance as that given by my friend, the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster). I propose to speak on an entirely different subject. He dealt with his subject very ably indeed. This afternoon I want to take the Postmaster-General’s Department to task for its indiscriminate closing down of country non-official post offices. This does not concern the city people at all, but it is a very vital problem for the country people. Hundreds of nonofficial post offices across Australia have been shut down in the last 2 years. In their place the roadside delivery system has been introduced. In my electorate alone more than 40 non-official post offices have been closed down in 2 years. Although I, along with others, protested in the case of the most blatant of these closures, the Department has gone ahead and closed them just the same. At this moment it has a complete obsession with diminishing post office services throughout the country. It is spending so much money on sophisticated services for Australia that it is now removing its basic services - the grass roots services^ - to the detriment of thousands of our citizens.
I accuse the Postmaster-General’s Department of waging war on our country districts. Not only have post offices been shut down, but hundreds of telephone cabinets have been taken away from country areas, thus disrupting vital communications in those areas. This outrageous erosion of offices and cabinets from farming communities has likewise eroded many essential services from these districts. The electorate of Murray, where we are fighting an electoral battle on Saturday, is one such electorate which is already suffering the loss of postal services. Our primary producers, already harassed by falling prices and spiralling costs, face the loss of their post offices as well. In every case a post office in a community in a country district is a bulwark of its solidarity. There were 9,000 non-official postmistresses and postmasters in Australia before this closure began and I think the number is down to about 7,000 now. They give the human touch within this great public enterprise which is in danger of becoming more and more imper sonal and distant from the ordinary people it serves.
The personal touch of postmistresses and postmasters and their concern for people and not just for postage stamps or profits has provided a centre of helpfulness for every centre lucky enough to have a post office in it. Most communities in isolated areas revolve around their post office. It is the heartbeat of every district. 1 It is the focal point in time of trouble and tragedy, disaster and death. To close down a post office is, to my mind, to rip the heart out of a district just as the vandals rip the telephones out of our public telephone cabinets. Does the Postmaster-General’s Department cut the services in the cities and the towns? I have never heard of it and I have plenty of towns in my electorate. No, it is increasing the services for city people. The suburb of King Meadows in Launceston where I live is a good example. There are 4 telephone booths within a distance of 60 chains and in the country 1 cannot get telephone cabinets within a distance of 50 miles on tourist roads and other isolated roads where there is constant timber traffic with the danger of accidents. One can fight till one is black in the face but as far as the Department is concerned it will not put them back. The Department is ripping them out but it will not put them back. It could not care less.
I claim that the profits that are made on these telephone cabinets in the cities could very well finance the retention of the cabinets in isolated country districts. Things are all out of proportion. I know that in my electorate many .districts have now suffered the loss of a telephone cabinet at the side of the road. The Department has refused to put these back on the assumption that there are people with telephones not far away. That is ridiculous. This takes us back to the Dark Ages. There were no telephone cabinets in the middle of the last century but then country districts got telephone cabinets. The Department scattered them around in strategic spots. That was done at the beginning of the twentieth century and now when we are heading for the twenty-first century the Department is ripping out telephone - cabinets. So country districts are definitely going back into the last century instead of on into the twentyfirst century.
This is an outrageous attitude on the part of this huge Department and it has been going on since the present PostmasterGeneral (Sir Alan Hulme) took office. 1 do not know whether he has left the House but I told his Department that I would speak on this matter and I wish he had stayed in the House to hear it. But he always gives the same old reply that there is no profit in it. Everything has to be profitable in this great Department which is, of course, paying interest on its loan moneys to the Treasury. That, too, is something which the Labor Party has condemned for a long time. But the country people are people and they have a right to live and a right to services just the same as all the people packed into our cities. I claim that these facilities are provided for the use of people and not just to gain profits as such. . The ; Department is in danger of becoming ‘ a huge, impersonal and cold-hearted monster.- The countryside is being pushed back into the last century instead of forging ahead into the next. The Postmaster-General, ‘ before he leaves this place, should order a halt to the closure of any more country non-official post offices or the removal of any more telephone cabinets from strategic country districts.
The roadside delivery service is the carrot which the Postal Department is presenting to the farmers for the shutting down of non-official post offices. But the farmer has to erect letter boxes which have to be big enough to take parcels. In wet weather there is a danger of damage to the contents of these boxes. I think that the farmer believes that the security of this kind of delivery is not good enough for important documents which are left in the letter boxes. Previously one could collect such articles at the post office where they were safe. Stamps and money orders cannot be purchased any more in the old way. These reductions in services are called an economy drive. But the poor old farmer has to suffer because of such a ridiculous, indiscriminate economy drive. The Department is always crying poverty. I shall give honourable members a sample of the receipts from postal services between 1960 and 1 969. The profit on postages rose from approximately §80m to $142m; money order and postal order fees went up from S2m to $3m; telephone rentals increased from $46m to SI 16m; income from telephone calls rose from $97m to §245m and income from telegrams went up from $9m to $14m. In 9 years the total income earnings increased from $251m to $567m. Of course expenses went up from $250m to S559m in the same time but the Department still made a substantial profit as is shown from the figures I have given. I think it is outrageous that country people have to suffer the loss of a service which city people and town people can have any day of the week.
– I want to speak very briefly on a subject which I have very seldom or perhaps never touched on before in this House. I compliment the honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay) for asking a question on the subject this morning. It concerns the action of certain Australian National University students in what I would call vandalism in the Australian Capital Territory. I am taking my information from the ‘Canberra Times’ because I have no personal knowledge of the situation. I have not seen what has happened but I take it that the newspaper is correct. The headline is:
Students daub again.
A picture in the newspaper shows slogans on the wall of the Garran residence of the Third Secretary of the South African Embassy, Mr D. W. Steward. There is quite a lot of writing on it such as: ‘Go home white Africans’. The writing is large and very poor. It does not befit a reasonable university student, although some of them are atrocious writers. Nevertheless this is only vandalism. I make no comment about apartheid, lt is not my idea to speak on apartheid this afternoon. The honourable member for Boothby asked a question of the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) who replied that this was a civil offence which the police in Canberra could attend to. This may be correct; but what are the police doing about it? One or two students have been charged. The article goes on to state:
About 30 people demonstrated outside the South African Embassy last night while a small group of university students painted anti-apartheid slogans on the British High Commission and the residence of the South African Embassy, Mr D. W. Steward, of Garran.
The students responsible for the slogans said outside a university hall of residence that they represented a militant faction of the anti-apartheid committee o£ the ANU.
One of the students said they would have painted slogans on the homes of the South African information attache and the attache^ had they been suitable.
The students said they would go to any extent, without injuring people, to express their opposition to apartheid and the coming South African rugby union tour of Australia.
The words ‘No arms for South Africa’ were daubed in black paint on a wall of the British High Commission.
– Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. May we have this article incorporated in Hansard to save the time of the House?
-Order! That is not the concern of the honourable member for Forrest; that is the concern only of the honourable member for Mallee. Therefore there is no valid point of order.
– The honourable member for Mallee continues to read from the newspaper.
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.
– I am quoting from the ‘Canberra Times’. The last passage to which 1 wish to refer states:
The words ‘Smash apartheid’ have been painted in black on the gates of the South African Embassy 3 times this month, and the students said last night they had so far spent $10 for spray paint.
– Do you support apartheid?
– I have been asked whether I am in favour of apartheid? I specifically said at the beginning of my speech that I would not discuss that subject this afternoon. I am saying that vandalism, wherever it is found, should be penalised. If some boy from a farm or somebody working in Canberra was found responsible for such vandalism he would be put in gaol quick and lively, so why should some misguided university students be allowed to go free or why should only one or two of those responsible be charged? It is a militant group from the university doing these things.
The Commonwealth Government has a responsibility in this matter. Whether we believe in what the South African embassy stands for is quite beside the point. When people from overseas come to Australia as representatives of their countries they bring their credentials with them. We know that when a. foreign ambassador arrives in Australia his credentials are presented to the
Governor-General for approval. The safety and well being of these. ambassadors are to a great extent the responsibility of the Federal Government. Therefore the Federal Government should see that vandalism is not perpetrated against their buildings as it has been.
– Have you been doing that?
– The honourable member for Chifley keeps asking: ‘Do you believe in apartheid?’
– I did not, say that.
– What did. you say?
– I said: ‘Have you been doing that?’
– That is an amazing question and every honourable member knows it. As I complained this morning, Sir, these remarks are made in an undertone that you do not hear. Now and again I object forcefully to such remarks and I am reprimanded, when, I. am only protesting against what I think, is not the right thing to say in this House. This painting of slogans and the calling out, in front of residences of people . representing other countries who have presented their credentials to Australia, these credentials having been accepted by the Commonwealth of Australia, should not be allowed to continue..
Mr BRYANT (Wills) ,(3.34) - I want to speak briefly upon the subject which was the cause of the oration by the honourable member for Mallee.. (Mr Turnbull) - Racism. 1 agree with his remarks about vandalism, and I will describe some governmental vandalism a little. later in the 10 minutes which I have. The important issue before us this afternoon is the failure of the Government - the. failure of Australia - in any official way to take note of the fact that this is the. international year against racial discrimination. My colleagues have raised this matter previously in adjournment debates.. Sunday is the international day for recognition of it, announced by the United Nations. It is important that we dp something about these matters. The first question to be faced is that of racism, and how it affects people in their hearts. Surely it is the bounden duty of Australia, irrespective of the fact that we have what might be termed a .5 Minister for Foreign Affairs at present and an indeterminate kind of Prime Ministership, to take part in international operations of this type.
Back in 1945 we signed the Charter of the United Nations. We were one of the initiators, one of the founding countries. This issue of racism has been raised as a particular question for this year. All kinds of documents on the subject have been circulated throughout the world. The United Nations has formed study groups but not one sound on the subject has been heard from honourable members opposite or from the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr McMahon). With the concurrence of the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth), who is now at the table - and we did agree - I would like to incorporate in Hansard the statement issued by the United Nations setting out suggestions for governmental action on this subject. For instance, the United Nations wants to ensure that the curricula in schools and other educational institutions include teaching of the scientific facts about race. I showed earlier to the Minister the document, parts of which 1 wish incorporated in Hansard. With your approval, Mr Speaker, I will have those parts incorporated in Hansard rather than read them out now.
– Subject to the leave of the House and the usual conditions, the matter may be incorporated. Is leave granted?
– I incorporate the matter accordingly.
SUGGESTION D (GOVERNMENTS)
lt is suggested that the Government should be invited to consider adopting a programme, under which they might:
Encourage cultural exchanges between countries of different races, hospitality programmes, opening of homes to students and visitors of different, races;
Racism is a mysterious piece of human psychology. The history of it is unclear. There was a stage in history when people discriminated against one another on religious and all sorts of other grounds. In recent years discrimination appears to have consolidated on the pigmentation of the skin, on the colour of people. I find this a very difficult psychological or emotional question, the basis of which I cannot quite understand. Perhaps we ought to establish a study of it, in this country particularly. On the one hand we have the Aboriginal people who have been deprived for years; not on racist grounds, generally speaking, but in fact they have been deprived and so it looks like that. On the other hand we have the question of the people of Papua and New Guinea and the question of our own immigration policy.
A question arising from our immigration policy is how to confront the simple issues that arise in electorates. During the last 20 years countless numbers of migrants have come to live in my electorate. Turks have come to live there, and about the only affinity we have with them is our skin colour. It is very difficult for anybody who has a black skin, such as a Pakistani engineer I know, to bring his family to live in this country. I recognise all the social, psychological and political ramifications in this country. The problem has been deepseated for a century, but somehow we must confront Australians with this question: Is skin colour such a basic disaffinity that it is impossible for people to live together? All honourable members find no difficulty about this question. We have a presumption in our hearts and minds and in the politics of the country that in fact it is impossible for people to live together in that situation. The presumption is therefore implemented through various administrative attitudes.
I am not arguing one way or the other. My view is that we should be much more libera] and that the problem has to be handled with extreme care because we do not know for certain what will be the public reaction. But I believe it is important that we ask some scientific research unit to find the basis of the community’s attitude, because in this matter particularly we owe a duty to the people of Papua and New Guinea. I put this question: What is the problem? What is amiss with our psychology or emotions which makes it appear that the disaffinity of skin colour is more difficult to overcome than any other disaffinity with cultural or social connotations?
– They even talk about blacks in the textbooks.
– That is right. I have dealt with the first issueI wished to raise before the House. My second point is related to the matter raised by my friend, the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull). I refer to the question of vandalism. I agree with my friend’s remarks. I was displeased to see the words painted on the walls of the British High Commission offices. I do not believe that that action achieves anything and I am against it. I believe it to be vandalism. I want to refer now to a piece of public vandalism - the National Service Act. Next week at the Coburg Court, which is in my electorate, a young student will be charged under the first part of the process of the national service system. I believe that the National Service Act is a piece of political and governmental vandalism and that the victims are more than paint and fences. The victims are human lives, and nobody can justify it. What I rose this afternoon to say is that when that young man faces the court on Tuesday morning or Tuesday afternoon he will have been put there by the members of this Government. I personally hold each one of them responsible. As far as I am concerned I will do everything in my power, short of violence I suppose, or any real breach of the law, to prevent an act of violence being perpetrated against that young man in his being dragged off to Pentridge gaol or the minefields of Vietnam. 1 personally hold every member of the Government parties responsible and I will make certain, so far as it is within my power, that every one of my constituents, particularly those people who are of military age, know exactly where the Government’s responsibilities lie. I give notice that as far as this young man is concerned and as far as I am concerned, because he is one of my constitutents, the gloves are off.
– I wish to take this opportunity to make some comments on a recent statement by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Cotton) and the Premier of Queensland on the proposal for the resiting of the Brisbane airport. All honourable members will know that ever since I arrived in this House I have been a strong advocate of the cause for peace for the constituents residing in my electorate and those who have been subjected over the years to the increasing noise problem. I must confess that, having seen the joint Press statement, I was a little amazed at its wording. It referred only to the Ascot-Hamilton area. I wish to make it plain to this House and perhaps to some of the Ministers and members who come from places distant from airports that airport noise is a definite, intrusion upon the privacy of the individual. The individualdoes not dictate how many flights .will zoom over his house during the day or the night. The point is that he lives there and perhaps il has been his home for years. He has to take it and smile.
The one good feature of the Press release was that it announced that in the future the Brisbane Airport will be resited. Big deal! Mr Speaker, with your gracious permission I will read part of the Press statement. It is as follows:
They said it was accepted that while all proposals needed 10 be compared a parallel runway system within the present- airport boundaries but moved about a mile farther to the north-east appeared to offer the most practical and timely solution.
The key word is ‘timely’. They mean 1978. There is an admission that this problem exists and that there is a need to do something about it. But the time scheduled is 1978. Are my constituents expected to continue to live in the present situation until the new airport is erected? Today I am advocating that something be done quickly and that 1978 be the date for the building of a second airport in Brisbane, not just a date for the shifting of the present one which brings so many problems to the people who live in the area. I have been in the homes of people who live in the Norman ParkHawthorneBulimbaBalmoral area. In each case the whole house has actually shaken as an aeroplane has gone overhead. If people who come from country areas happened to be in such a situation they would.no doubt think there was a disaster occurring, not just an aircraft approaching.
I know there ‘are many honourable members on both sides of this chamber who are affected. I know my colleague and friend, the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns), has quietly but positively worked towards the solution of the problem of the Brisbane Airport. He has had my backing all the way. 1 recall the ignorance of certain honourable members who were or are in this chamber in relation to the problem: I remember that great Committee, the Select Committee on Aircraft Noise, meeting in Brisbane. Honourable members and members of the public were invited to ‘ make submissions. Doing the right thing by my constituents, 1 wrote and asked them what they thought. I went along to a meeting of this Committee. I can assure the House that It was like a court trial. There I was in the box being questioned. One member of the Committee said to me: ‘But you live 2 or 3 miles away from the area, you are speaking about. It would not affect you’. I can assure the House, particularly those honourable members who do not live near airports, that it can be absolute bedlam 2 or 3 miles away from an airport. The noise nuisance can be tragic. It can interfere with school classes during the day. Sometimes teachers have to stop teaching because of the noise. It wakes up babies. In one of the homes in my electorate a pane of glass fell out-‘of a window because of the constant vibration. ‘
Mention is made in this Press release of only the Ascot-Hamilton area. I would hate it to be thought, that reference has been made to the electorate of the honourable member for Lilley in this Press statement because he has worked harder than I and that no mention has been made of my electorate because of my tardiness. I assure the House and the people, of my electorate that I have always been at the forefront of endeavours to do , something about this problem. I am pleased that the Queensland Government, the Labor controlled Brisbane City Council and the Commonwealth Government are taking some action, but 1978 is a long way away. I dare say that a large number of the honourable members who sit opposite will not be here then. Their day will have passed by and they will bc back in (he occupations which they held before the last elections. The point I wish to make is that the people of my electorate are not prepared to wait until 1978. As their representative in this chamber, I do not intend to sit idly by without saying anything and watch the hands of time move on.
– I wish to raise a matter which should be dear to the hearts of honourable members opposite. 1 intend to refer to one of the subjects which honourable members opposite regard as being of supreme importance and which I agree is of supreme importance, namely, democracy. Wc pride ourselves in Australia on being democrats and on being the protectors and maintainers of democracy, yet I. would venture to say that we keep alive in this country a mere shadow of democracy. Recently there was an’ election in Western Australia, which may be news to people who live in the eastern States, especially those who read only the Sydney Daily Telegraph’.
– Did it refer to the election?
– It referred to it in one small paragraph at the end of a story on page 9 of one of its editions. In Western Australia the Australian Labor Party gained 50 per cent of the votes and the combined Liberal and Country Parties gained about 35 per cent of the votes. However, the result of the election for the Legislative Council in the Western Australian Parliament was 5 seats for the Labor Party and 10 for the combined Liberal and Country Parties. We are fortunate in Western Australia in that we have an impartial commission drawing up the electoral boundaries. I dare say that if we did not have an impartial commission doing this the situation would be far worse. I will take as an example the North East Metropolitan province, which has a total enrolment of 80.000 voters. This province is made up of 5 seats, each with an average of about 18,000 on the electoral roll. One of these seats is Ascot. The Liberal Party did not bother to contest it. Another is Belmont, which the Liberal Party also did not contest. A third is Maylands, which the Labor Party held comfortably but which could be regarded as a swinging seat. A fourth is Mirrabooka, which was held by the Liberal Party but which is now held by the Labor Patty and therefore is a swinging seat. The last is Swan, which the Liberal Party did not contest. So there has been a very convenient banding together qf two very safe Labor seats with two other seats which are held by Labor and there is one representative in the Legislative Council for 80,000 constituents. The same situation applies in South Metropolitan. Four seats make up the province. Three of .them are very safe Labor seats and one a Liberal seat. There is an enrolment of 63,000 voters for this province.
Contrast that position with the seats in my electorate. 1 represent a country electorate. I have the distinction of having within the boundaries of my electorate 17 State parliamentarians. Of course, the area is one which generally returns Liberal or Country Party members. These members represent very small constituencies. The upper House seats in my area are formed by the combination of 3 lower House seats each of an average enrolment of 5,500 to 6,000; thus the upper House seats have an enrolment of about 18,000. The Lower Central electorate comprises the seats of Collie, which is safe. Labor, and Narrogin and Katanning, which are just as safe antiLabor seats. The South. West electorate comprises Vasse, which .is safe anti-Labor, Blackwood, which is safe, anti-Labor, and Warren, which is safe .Labor. The South electorate consists of Albany, which is held by Labor, Stirling and Roe, which are held comfortably by anti-Labor parties. By combining seats together in this way it is ensured that 9 anti-Labor members will be returned to the upper House at each election and 5 Labor members) with one seat doubtful.
Of course, that would be bad enough but there was such a swing to Labor in Western Australia at the last election that the Australian Labor Party came within an ace of winning a number of those upper House seats. Labor lost one seat by 85 votes, another by 120 votes and a third by a couple of hundred votes,’ even though on first preferences the Labor candidates had led their nearest opponents by anything from 800 to 1,500 votes! However preferential voting applied and the votes of all the other candidates combined were sufficient to remove from Labor’s grasp seats which otherwise would have been held comfortably. I know that there is no chance in Western Australia of improving the electoral legislation because the Labor Party cannot get a Bill through the upper House. The only way it will ever succeed is by securing 65 per cent to 70 per cent of the vote at 2 consecutive elections, so giving Labor a narrow margin. This, of course, is out of the question. I believe that Labor’s only hope, if preferential voting is not abandoned altogether, is for the Parliament of Western Australia - and I would hope other Parliaments in Australia - to accept optional preference voting whereby people would not be forced to record a vote in order of preference for each candidate who is standing for election. If they desired, they could vote for one person, two persons or three right up to the total number of candidates which, in some instances in the last election, was 7.
Under the present system the Act requires that a preference shall be given to every candidate in order of preference except in the case of the last candidate where a number may be omitted and the vote still be counted as formal. At present the elector is obliged to cast his vote in this way. Votes are counted as though each elector has carefully weighed up in his mind the exact order in which he wants to vote for all candidates. I think it is a fairer proposition to suggest that this system should be replaced with optional preferences. We could then recognise those people who do have a genuine preference between a sixth and seventh candidate, a fifth and fourth candidate and so on. By this means we might diminish the value of the votes of such groups as the United Farmers and Graziers Association, whose candidates stood for the first time in Western Australia during the recent elections, and the Democratic Labor Party whose candidates contest most seats throughout Australia. I believe that the present system is not democratic but is a poor shadow of democratic voting.
Electorates should be divided as evenly as is possible amongst the electors so that all electorates have about the same number of electors. Boundaries should be drawn genuinely on the basis of community of interest and lines of communication. This is no more done in the State sphere than it is in the Federal sphere. If it were done in the Federal sphere in Western Australia there would be only one country electorate where at present there are two, the electorates of Canning and Moore. Those electorates, to bring their number to somewhere near the quota, are taken into the metropolitan area.
– What about Kalgoorlie?
– Kalgoorlie does not take in any of the metropolitan area. The electorates I have mentioned are taken into the metropolitan area but only to such an extent as to bring them up to the quota. It was intended that there should be a sufficiently large number of metropolitan voters in those areas to bring them to the standing of an electorate but a sufficiently small number of metropolitan voters to ensure that they should not endanger the Country Party’s grip upon them. However the metropolitan areas within those electorates have grown to such an extent that they will be won by the Australian Labor Party at the next election. I hope that at the next distribution there will be only one electorate - a new electorate on the outskirts of the metropolitan area - where the electorates of Canning and Moore now exist so that the people concerned will have an electorate which has been decided on the basis of community of interest and lines of communication.
– I rise to bring to the attention of the House the plight of the Aboriginal population in the Western Australian city area. Today I had the privilege of presenting to the Parliament a petition on behalf of those people, as did another Western Australian, the honourable member for Forrest (Mr Kirwan), requesting that earnest consideration be given to the crisis in Aboriginal welfare which exists in Western Australia, that urgent attention be given to providing town housing to all Aboriginal families with a breadwinner, and that further welfare assistance in the form of homemaker assistance, that is, a welfare officer to guide them in home settlement, be given. What happens to these petitions? They are sent off to the archives with no discussion whatever. In fact I doubt whether all honourable members understood or even heard the full content and meaning of the petition that was presented. One honourable member even suggested to me that perhaps this was the reason a rather large hole was being dug alongside Parliament House. But the people who designed the petition and the people who signed it want something better than that. They require the Parliament, Ministers and honourable members to note and to take urgent action in the matter.
There are some 364 applications for Aboriginal housing held by the Native Welfare Department in Perth alone. Even worse, there exists a complete lack of immediate emergency housing in the city area for those people who are being driven to the city by the collapse of the rural industry and the completelack of work opportunities that come with rural depression. This leads to a situation in the city area where they are unable to find accommodation. They must find somewhere to go and that somewhere is a camp under a railway bridge, on a vacant block of land or out in the near city rural areas in shanties made of rubbish tip scraps of tin, bag, lino and so on. without water, without sanitation and without any of the bare necessities which give a basic dignity to life. Some more fortunate than others may find emergency temporary camping with a relative or friend who has a home, but it can only be called camping because Aboriginals usually have large families and those already living in a house arc living often in sub-standard conditions, leaving only verandahs and outhouses for the visitors.
I know of a family comprising8 children and a widowed mother living at the rear of a city house under an iron lean-to 8 feet by 5 feet with a dirty chaff floor and one bed for the lot of them. This kind of overcrowding and sub-standard camping must lead to trouble for the original tenants. How great is the problem facing these people was brought home very strongly to me recently. At the request of one of my constituents I sought to help them find accommodation. I spent a day looking for private accommodation for them. Having found a vacant cottage some few miles from the city I approached the owner’s wife and family who I understood had some share in the premises. We agreed on the bond and a weekly rent of some $14 for this isolated and normally hard to rent property.
Much was the rejoicing of all concerned when I reported that I had found a cottage. My disgust can be imagined when I received a telephone call that evening from the gentleman of the family which owned the property. He said that he was very amazed, that he did not want the people to move in and that it was a problem for the authorities to look after these people. After much discussion it became obvious that he did not want an Aboriginal family to occupy the premises. The result is that this unfortunate family still live in their lean-to and the country cottage still stands vacant. We can only hope that the State Housing Commission or the Native Welfare Department can help them for they and others have walked the streets of Perth and met with refusal after refusal. They are not alone in this for 1 am given to understand that there are some 200 families in camps or sub-standard accommodation in the city area. This is a legacy of the previous State Liberal Government’s inadequate policies and a legacy of the lack of attention given by this Parliament to their problems. The Ministry has failed to appreciate the content of petitions presented to this House by honourable members from Western Australia in recent months.
Something must be done by the Commonwealth and State authorities to get these people out of the camps, off the streets and out of the parks. I have suggested that a caravan park be used as an emergency measure until something is done to house them permanently in the near future. Must we tolerate such a situation that when a doctor prescribed to an invalid pensioner, a native, that he leave Narrogin in the country to go to Perth to receive weekly treatment at the city hospital the patient was told by some bureaucrat in the Native Welfare Department to return to the country reserve as there was no hope of city accommodation? That person returned to the country with no hope of receiving treatment. It is a hopeless and disgraceful position when a doctor’s recommendation is virtually ignored. But this type of attitude is not an unusual one, for in the case of a widowed mother who left a country reserve because her family was growing up and faced no prospect of employment, the departmental attitude was: She had accommodation on the reserve so why did she leave? No thought was given to the family’s future or to the disgraceful conditions on many reserves - just a departmental worry that someone had dared to disturb the status quo. What alarms me is that no one appears really to care about the urgency of the problem facing this section of the aboriginal community.
I ask the Commonwealth Government to co-operate with the State to make funds available to alleviate this situation. Only by the use of Commonwealth funds specifically designated for this purpose will it be feasible for the 364 applications to be cleared up or will it be possible to provide some immediate transient accommodation until the permanent residences are available. Let us not wait until the missions are able to so expand their programme as to cope with the situation. No doubt the mis.sions do a tremendous job. In fact one denomination obtains funds from overseas on the basis that it is conducting a mission in a developing country. Yes, we receive foreign Christian aid. Though appreciated, it underlines our laxity in this field and without question leaves this country open to international criticism in the field of Aboriginal welfare. There is room for criticism - justified criticism - of a country that tolerates conditions experienced by adults and growing children on some reserves which are a disgrace.
Recently I had the pleasure of meeting with a large number of north west Aboriginals in their own areas.. It was depressing to me, a person accustomed to the elementary comforts of civilised life. There appeared to be little hope of these people obtaining in the near future a house of a standard acceptable in the white community, even though their families were being sent to schools and were receiving the same education as the white population. This must breed resentment amongst these people and amongst the future generations of these people who will not be so patient as their city cousins have been over the years. There must be some effect on people who, when putting a hand into a cupboard or refrigerator have to be careful lest cockroaches run up the arm and they have to shake articles to remove the cockroaches. If 1 had not seen it I would not have believed it. But what amazes me is that the people responsible for the welfare of these Aboriginals accept this as a matter of course. This’.. was. not an isolated case. I saw it on government premises and, unfortunately, on mission premises and they were accepted as a natural hazard of the area. The point, is that these conditions were not evident in any of the homes belonging to white people in which I stayed.
In many cases officers- who have become conditioned by the lack of funds and the lack of suitable amenities in these places are transferred and placed in charge of providing homes for Aboriginals in the metropolitan areas. This could well explain the lack of urgency with which the problem is tackled. But for persons to be able to go home at night -to’ a comfortable suburban home knowing” that women and children are living in such parlous conditions, without raising the matter with the responsible Ministers ‘for action to be taken, is beyond comprehension. Of course, if they had drawn it to the attention of the Ministers the Ministers concerned would stand condemned. 1 do not believe any Minister would ignore the situation if he were aware of it. Perhaps we will see a change in the immediate future, whoever the Minister may be. The matter is urgent and must be dealt with before this national disgrace attracts pressures from outside organisations such as the United Nations or the emerging African and Asian nations which judge us according to our treatment of the original owners of this great nation of Austrafia.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at- 4.5 , p.m. until Tuesday, 30 March at 2.30 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
What has been the (a) date, (b) nature and (c) outcome of any communications between the Commonwealth and any of the States concerning legislation to match the Austraiian Capital Territory Companies (Uranium Mining Companies) Ordinance 1970.
Mr McMAHON - The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
I am informed that there have been no communications of the kind mentioned in the question.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
I do not believe that the provision of these details would serve any useful purpose and to supply such information would place an unreasonable workload on the Public Service. Moreover, it is not my practice to make public, submissions and representations made to me by private individuals and organisations.
asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
(a) When will the Agreement with Malta be tabled.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Agreements with the Netherlands and Italy required ratification before formal entry into force. The instruments of ratification for the Agreement with the Netherlands were exchanged on 30th December 1965. With regard to the Agreement with Italy, the exchange ot instruments of ratification is expected to take place shortly and the Agreement will enter into force formally on the thirtieth day after this exchange takes place. In the meanwhile, the provisions of the Agreement have been applied administratively.
In the Agreements with U.K., Germany and Malta, specific provisions were made for them to enter into force on the respective dates shown in column 4 of the above table.
The Agreement with Turkey provided that entry into force should take place on the date of signature.
The terms of the Agreement with Yugoslavia provided that entry into force should take place on the day on which the Australian Government acknowledged the receipt of a notice from the
Yugoslav Government that the requirements of the Yugoslav legislation for the implementation of the Agreement had been fulfilled. A note of acknowledgement was delivered to the Yugoslav Embassy in Canberra on 20th May 1970.
(a) See answer to 2 - Column 3.
Asian Students (Question No. 2574)
asked the Minister for
Immigration, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Resident status has also been granted to a small number of sponsored students mostly on the grounds of their marriage to Australian residents.
Statistics of migrant visas issued to Asians do not at present indicate whether the grantees previously resided in Australia.
As the senior resident medical officers of St
Vincent’s Hospital for 1971…
This letter, signed by fourteen senior resident medical officers for 1971 at St Vincent’s Hospital, protested about the doctors not being permitted to remain in Australia. I did not receive a direct petition from the resident doctors as such.
Although the three doctors were private students, the institutions at which they received their training are heavily subsidised by the Australian taxpayer, and it is not therefore correct to claim that they paid their own way without assistance from the Australian Government. This Government assistance is, in fact, a principal reason for our regarding the admission to our educational institutions of foreign students as a form of aid to developing countries.
The private student programme is essentially concerned with non-European students; but occasionally European parents working in Asian and Pacific countries, wish to send their children to school in Australia, while they are still too young for entry as migrants; and such children are admitted as students. If whilst studying here they reach adulthood and wish to settle in Australia, they would normally be eligible to do so. This does not detract from the essential aims of the private student programme,’ because the students’ homelands would not have particular need of their services.
asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:
How many persons in the following age groups received assisted passages from the United Kingdom during the last 12 months: 61-65; 66-70; 71-75; 76-80; 81-85; 86-90; and 90 and over?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows
Although the basie purpose of assisted passage migration programmes is to encourage people to come to Australia who will contribute to economic and social development, Government policy admits also of the need to take into account the na’tural desire of migrants to have parents join them in Australia As well as the humanitarian grounds on which this is based there are also practical considerations. Exclusive concentration on people in the worker age group is not acceptable to the governments of some source countries.
Consistent wilh this there has always been an understanding between the British and Australian Governments that a broad cross-section of the community, including aged persons personally nominated by family members resident in Australia, would be included in the assisted passage programme.
The number of persons arriving in Australia under the United Kingdom Assisted Passage Schemes in 5 years age groups from age 60 onwards in the twelve months ended September 1970 was as follows:
asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The prices are for raw sugar exported in bulk, and, whilst they approximate the average price per ton at point of unloading, they include the effect of some sales which are made f.o.b.
The figures are gross proceeds and must be reduced by freight and other expenses to arrive at a net return from exported sugar.
One of the provisions of the Commonwealth/Queensland Sugar Agreement is that a discount of 2i per cent on the above prices ii allowed to wholesalers.
The Agreements have also provided for maximum prices to manufacturers for IXD grade refilled sugar and these prices have been: 1st July 1965 to 18th June J967- $A176 per long ton 19th June 1967 to 30th June 1970- SA201.60 per long ton.
Subject to the discount referred to above in respect of 1A grade refined sugar’, the abovestated maximum prices may be taken as the average domestic wholesale prices for the last 5 years for 1A grade and IXD grade refined sugar respectively.
Considerable difficulty is encountered if one tries to compare, on the one hand, export income based on sales of Australian raw sugar in bulk with, on the other hand, a figure based on the maximum domestic price in State capital cities of refined sugar in bags or other containers.
However, for the honourable member’s information 1 supply him, in respect of the past 5 years and for the State of Queensland, with details” of the production of sugar, the amount of exportable sugar and the return to the sugar industry per ton 94 net litre sugar from home consumption and exportable sugar. The return is the average net return per ton of 94 net titre- sugar received by the mills for distribution, on an approximately 70 per cent-30 per cent basis, between growers and millers.
The honourable member will be aware that the price which can be paid to producers for exported sugar depends on many factors. For example, some exported sugar is sold as part of the Negotiated Price Quota of the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement, other sugar is sold under the quota provisions of the United States Sugar Act, whilst over half the total exports of sugar are sold on the basis of the world free market price. The purpose of the International Sugar Agreement, of which Australia is a member, is, amongst other things, to stabilise the world free market price at a level which is fair to consumers and reasonably remunerative to sugar producing countries.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
What were the proportions of time purchased by parties and candidates from commercial (a) broadcasting and (b) television (i) metropolitan and (ii) country stations for political matter (other than opening speeches) at the Senate election in 1970.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Based on the statistics furnished to the Australian Broadcasting Control board by the commercial broadcasting and television stations following the Senate election, the answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the PostmasterGeueral, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
What is the estimated cost of extending the availability of the age pension to all naturalised Australians, who otherwise qualify by age and means, without reference to their period of residence in Australia.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
No information is available as to the number of naturalised Australians who are qualified by age and means for the age pension, but who are not receiving it because they are unable to satisfy the residence qualification. It is therefore not possible to estimate the cost of paying age pensions to such persons. Similarly, information about the means of persons of age pension age who are not residentially qualified for the pension is not available. However, on the basis of information available from the 1966 Census, and making certain assumptions as to mortality and migration, it is estimated that the cost of paying an age pension free of the means test to all persons not qualified by residence but qualified by age, would be in the vicinity of $20m per annum. The proportion of this cost which would be incurred in respect of persons who are naturalised Australians is unknown.
asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
(a) It may be unduly restrictive in some cases to impose a limit of 6 persons for each acre of land that is approved for subsidy.
Social Services (Question No. 2716)
asked the Minister for
Social Services, upon notice:
Will he bring up to date the figures in his answer to my question No. 1169 (Hansard, 29th May 1969, page 2563).
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
unemployment or sickness benefit for a married person and spouse expressed as a percentage of:
asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable members questions are as follows:
and (2) 1 understand that, in certain circumstances, civilians are able to obtain prosthetic aids and appliances from Repatriation Artificial Limb and Appliance Centres. However, these services do not come under my administration.
asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice:
When and where have there been meetings of the Commonwealth/States Consultative Committee on Nuclear Energy.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Commonwealth/States Consultative Committee on Nuclear Energy has met once, namely on 8th June 1970 in Canberra.
asked the MinisterinCharge of Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
What applications have been received from people of Aboriginal descent to lease reserve land, and what was the result in each case.
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The information relating to each State has been provided by the relevant State authority, and that for the Northern Territory has been provided by my colleague the Minister for the Interior.
NEW SOUTH WALES
The records of the Aborigines Welfare Boa id relating to Crown Land reserved for the use of Aborigines were incomplete and at present action is in hand to bring those records up to date. So far as the future leasing or other use of Crown Land reserved for the use of Aborigines is concerned, the New South Wales Minister will be seeking the advice of the Aborigines Advisory Council on these matters in due course.
Three residents have requested to lease land on Framlingham Reserve near Warrnambool for dairy farming. The recent decision by the Victorian Government to hand over Aboriginal Reserves in Victoria to Aboriginal ownership has altered the situation. This matter is therefore still under consideration.
Applications for leases of reserved lands in Queensland are processed by the Lands Department which docs not identify applicants by race. So far as Aboriginal Reserve lands within the control of the Department of Aboriginal and Island Affairs are concerned, two applications have been received from Aborigines and have been granted.
In South Australia the Aboriginal Lands Trust Act has been enacted to ensure title in the existing Aboriginal Reserves to the Aboriginal people through the Aboriginal Lands Trust in order to develop both the lands vested in the Trust and the Aboriginal people. According to its annual report for the year ending 30th June 1969 5,900 acres had been transferred to the Trust. As the Trust is an independent body, full details of the leases granted are not readily available. The Trust has appointed an Aboriginal Manager to carry out the comprehensive agricultural development programme drawn up in respect of Gum Park and Block ‘K’ comprising 3,338 acres. Another Aboriginal has leased the Poonindie Reserve from the Lands Trust for agricultural purposes.
The Point Pearce Aboriginal Reserve Council has requested that the reserve lands be transferred to the Trust. At this stage, however, the request is still being investigated.
Land at Point Pearce has not been leased by Aborigines. However, since prior to 1940 and by agreement, Aboriginal sharefarmers have been and still are carrying out a full farming programme on that reserve. The area cropped by the sharefarmers since 1964 is approximately 4,000 acres annually.
asked the Minister-in-
Charge of Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
Balgo Hills Mission is located within the Balwina Native Reserve No. 26399 comprising 5,121,000 acres.
As a result of an application by the Vicar Apostolic of the Kimberleys to develop a pastoral industry at Balgo Hills the Commonwealth Officer of Aboriginal Affairs has, subject to certain conditions being complied with, approved a loan from the Capital Fund for Enterprises for an Aboriginal Co-operative.
Provided the final details of the overall scheme are acceptable the Western Australian Department has agreed to lease an agreed upon area of land for up to 21 years to a properly constituted legal entity. The total area of any land to be leased from the Balwina Reserve will be restricted to one million acres by the provisions of the Land Act.
An application on behalf of the Mugarinya Group Ply Ltd is at present before the Commonwealth Fund for Aboriginal Enterprises to develop Yandeyarra Reserve 24490 comprising 630,178 acres.
Since the Apostolic Church relinquished control of the Jigalog Mission at the commencement of 1970, the Department of Native Welfare is planning for the development of a pastoral undertaking which will Incorporate the Jigalong reserves 10896, 20285, 23431 comprising 355,000 acres subject to the formation of a Trust, including Aborigines of Jigalong.
Four Aborigines are at present being assisted to develop farms from State funds. These farms are the subject of Reserves 29019 Newdegate, and 25404 Esperance.
The conditions under which these properties will be leased to the Aborigines for a 99 year term are at present before the Minister for Native Welfare for determination.
As Tasmania has no reserves, this question does not apply.
Special legislation has been passed by the
Northern Territory Legislative Council for the grant of leases within Aboriginal reserves to Aboriginal persons, companies and co-operatives for pastoral, agricultural, miscellaneous and special purposes. This legislation has yet to come into operation. Most of the applications listed below as ‘under consideration’ will require consideration under this legislation when it comes into operation.
There have been various requests and inquiries by Aborigines, or persons acting on their behalf, for assistance in establishing pastoral and other enterprises on reserves, which would require the grant of a lease under the special legislation. These requests and inquiries have been noted, but those that are not yet registered as applications for a lease, are not included in the following list.
Aboriginal Land Rights (Question No. 1654)
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Syrian Arab Republic ….
United Arab Republic
Notable omissions are Canada , and the United States of America.
New South Wales
South Australia Some difficulties arise through lack of uniformity among the Australian States.
Communication to U.N’.- House of Representatives Question 1654
This is an urgent plea of several hundred thousand so called “Aborigines” of Australia that the United Nations use its legal andmoral powers for the vindication of our rights to the lands which we have traditionally occupied.
We make this plea under Item 55 of the General Assembly, which deals with the elimination of all racial discrimination; for it is only racial discrimination which can explain the refusal of the Government of Australia to grant us, and us alone, our rights.
In support of our plea we’ call attention to Part II, Article 11 of Convention 107 of the International Labour Conference, to which conference the Government of Australia isa party:
The right of ownership, collective or individually, or the members of the populations concerned over the lands which these populations traditionally occupied shall be recognised.’
And we call further attention toArticle 12 of that convention, which provided that if traditional populations are removed without’ their free consent from their lands, they must be fully compensated.
By Aboriginallaw in Australia generally, land was traditionally inalienable. Moreover, the only known time in Australian history when the invading white exploiters made so much as a pretence of negotiating for the purchase of land in Australia from the indigenous people was in March 1835, when one John Batman signed the Batman Treaty with eight Aboriginal Elders’ for the “purchase” of 100,000 acres of land in the vicinity of Port Phillip, in exchange for smaller quantities of trade goods. Even this supposed “purchase” was never recognised by the governor in Victoria, GovernorBourke, when he stated that only the Crown had power to make treaties or contract for the acquisition of land.
We must emphasize: FROM THE TIME OF THE FIRST SETTLEMENT IN 1788 TO DATE, THE CROWN HAS NEVER USED EVEN ITS CLAIMED POWER TO TAKE OUR LAND, EITHER BY TREATY OR BY PURCHASE. THE CROWN HAS BLATANTLY TAKEN OUR LAND WITHOUT TREATY, WITHOUT PURCHASE, AND WITHOUT COMPENSATION OF ANY KIND.
We, the Aborigines of Australia whom the invaders have not yet succeeded in wiping off the face of the earth, are the owners of the land of Australia in equity in the eyes of any system of civilized law and. in justice and yet we have no share in the great mineral, agricultural and pastoral wealth of our country.
We are sent to reservations which are described as Crown Lands, and the Government has complete control over these lands. When we ask for certain lands in our tribal areas, we arc told that the Government has leased them sometimes at the rate of 50 cents (U.S.) per square mile for periods of 99 years, but we never are consulted as to these unlawful leases.
To favour Bauxite miners, the lands of the Yirrkala people on the Gove Peninsula in the Northern Territory have been stolen from them and their special sacred areas desecrated.
The Gurindji people at Wattie Creek demanded remuneration of its claim to 500 square miles of their tribal lands, and also they were promised a meagre8½ square miles They in fact have received nothing whatever on the pretext that the Government cannot reclaim the land from those to whom it has given it.
When bauxite was discovered at Weipa on the Western coast of Cape York Peninsula, the Aboriginal people living there were forcibly ousted so that the area could be mined. It was possible for the Government to make land available for the construction of a mining town for whites, but the Aborigines’ claims to theirtribal lands were ignored.
We could recite case after case, but these three instances are enough to show that the rights of the Aboriginal peoples of Australia have been systematically taken from them.
Wherefore, we demand:
We are with all respect.
Aborigines Advancement League, 56 Cunningham Street, Norlhcote 3070, Victoria. Australia
asked the MinisterinCharge of Aboriginal Affairs, upon notice:
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The essential criterion in evaluating applications is the likelihood of the enterprise being a success, and not mere compliance with traditional lending practice. In most cases where loans are made, they represent 100 per cent of the capital required, and this is completely foreign to traditional lending practice. In addition, because of the special circumstances of the applicants, costs of investigation of enterprises are met from the Fund, loans are made on comparatively long terms and at much lower rates of interest than are normally obtainable, repayments of principal and interest are deferred where necessary, and financial aid management guidance are provided by the appointment of public accountants who are paid from the fund.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 18 March 1971, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1971/19710318_reps_27_hor71/>.