House of Representatives
7 December 1971

27th Parliament · 2nd Session

Mr SPEAKER (Hon. Sir William Aston) took the chair at 2 p.m., and read prayers.

page 4127


Aid to Pakistani Refugees

Minister for the Army · KOOYONG, VICTORIA · LP

– I present the following petition:

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of certain residents of North Balwyn, Victoria respectfully showeth:

That they are deeply concerned with the plight of the Pakistani refugees in India.

That the amount of aid allocated for East Pakistani refugee relief earlier this year, is well below that which our wealthy nation is able to contribute.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government increase the present level of aid to an amount which is fitting to this land of affluence.

And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

Petition received.

Lake Pedder

Minister for Supply · CURTIN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · LP

– I present the following petition:

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.The humble petition of citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia respectfully showeth:

That Lake Pedder, situated in the Lake Pedder National Park in South-West Tasmania, is threatened with inundation as part of the Gordon River hydro-electric power scheme.

That an alternative scheme exists, which, if implemented would avoid inundation of this lake.

That Lake Pedder and the surrounding wilderness area are of such beauty and scientific interest as to be of a value beyond monetary consideration.

And that some unique species of flora and fauna will be in danger of extinction if this area is inundated.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Federal Government take immediate steps to act on behalf of all Australian people to preserve Lake Pedder in its natural state. All present and particularly future Australians will benefit by being able to escape from their usual environment to rebuild their physical and mental strength in this unspoilt wilderness area.

And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

Petition received.

Lake Pedder


– I present the following petition:

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. Thehumble petition of citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia respectfully showeth:

That Lake Pedder, situated in the Lake Pedder National Park in South-West Tasmania, is threatened with inundation as part of the Gordon River hydro-electric power scheme.

That an alternative scheme exists, which, if implemented would avoid inundation of this lake.

That Lake Pedder and the surrounding wilderness area are of such beauty and scientific interest as to be of a value beyond monetary consideration.

And that some unique species of flora and fauna will be in danger of extinction if this area is inundated.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Federal Government take immediate steps to act on behalf of all Australian people to preserve Lake Pedderin its natural state. All present and particularly future Australians will benefit by being able to escape from their usual environment to rebuild their physical and mental strength in this unspoilt wilderness area.

And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

Petition received.

Aid to Pakistani Refugees


– I present the following petition:

To the Honourable the Speaker of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully showeth:

That we, citizens of the Commonwealth, earnestly request our government to:

increase, immediately, Australia’s contribution to the refugee appeal by 10 million dollars.

press for a just solution to the conflict, so that the refugees may return to their homes.

And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

Petition received.

Social Services


– I present the following petition:

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled.

The serious decline in social services has intensified the hardships faced by pensioners and families on lower incomes.

Therefore as a matter of urgency the Commonwealth Government should immediately allocate extra finances to social services.

The petition of the undersigned urges your Government to increase immediately.

Pensions - by $5.00 per week.

Child Endowment - to $3.60 per week per child.

Maternity Allowance - to at least $117 for each child born.

And your petitioners as in duty bound will every pray.

Petition received.

Aid to Pakistani Refugees


– I present the following petition:

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:

It is obvious the people of Australia are vitally concerned about the welfare of some nine million East Pakistan refugees that have crossed the border into India. Also they are equally concerned about the desperate plight of millions of displaced persons in East Pakistan, many of whom are worse off than the refugees, as they are not even receiving relief supplies. The involvement of the Australian is evidenced by their willingness to contribute substantial funds to voluntary agencies, to assist their work in these countries.

As some twenty million refugees and displaced persons are today facing acute problems of hunger and privation - nutrition and child family problems - ultimate famine and death on an unprecedented scale - the Commonwealth Government must plan to come to their assistance in a more sacrificial way.

Your petitioners therefore most humbly pray that in tackling these great human problems in Bengal, by far the greatest this century, the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled, will request that a special meeting of Cabinet be called to provide $10m for relief purposes in India and East Pakistan, and a further $50m over three years to help rehabilitate the refugees in East Pakistan.

And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

Petition received.

Aid to Pakistani Refugees


– I present the following petition:

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:

It is obvious the people of Australia are vitally concerned about the welfare of some nine million East Pakistan refugees that have crossed the border into India. Also they are equally concerned about the desperate plight of millions of displaced persons in East Pakistan, many of whom are worse off than the refugees, as they are not even receiving relief supplies. The involvement of the Aus* tralian is evidenced by their willingness to contribute substantial funds to voluntary agencies, to assist their work in these countries.

As some twenty million refugees and displaced persons are today facing acute problems of hunger and privation - nutrition and child family problems - ultimate famine and death on an unprecedented scale - the Commonwealth Government must plan to come to their assistance in a more sacrificial way.

Your petitioners therefore most humbly pray that in tackling these great human problems in Bengal, by far the greatest this century, the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled, will request that a special meeting of Cabinet be called to provide $10m for relief purposes in India and East Pakistan, and a further $50m over three years to help rehabilitate the refugees in east Pakistan.

And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever, pray.

Petition received.

Duffy’s Forest Airport


– I present the following petition:

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. This petition of supporters of the Committee to Stop Duffy’s Forest Airport respectfully showeth that:

There is a public controversy over the decision to establish an airport at Duffy’s Forest, situated in the metropolitan area of Sydney.

There is a strong case for the lease of 99 acres of Crown Land presently being offered by the State Government of New South Wales to the Commonwealth Government for an airport site to be revoked, and that part of the Crown Land which contains the Wianamatta shale cap to be preserved for all time for the people of Australia by being included in the boundaries of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. If the airport is established there will be extensive damage to the ecology of natural bushland over a widespread area.

Noise pollution will have a detrimental effect over a widespread area of the suburbs surrounding the Chase.

We believe that it is essentia] to protect the recreational nature and peace of Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park both now and for the future.

Your petitioners humbly pray that your Honourable House will at once, in the public interest, take appropriate steps to ensure that the Government revokes the lease of the Crown Land belonging to the State of New South Wales and ceases all negotiations for purchase of 37 acres of land privately owned which comprises the 136 acres necessary for the airport site and abandon the proposal to establish an airport at Duffy’s Forest. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

Petition received.

Commonwealth Scholarships


– I present the following petition:

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of citizens of the community of the Australian National University respectfully sheweth:

That the increase in tertiary education fees for 1972 will cause increased hardship for a significant proportion of tertiary students.

That tertiary fees and concomitant living costs are a formidable barrier preventing significant numbers of students entering tertiary education who nevertheless have the ability to do so.

That the increase in tertiary fees for 1972 is immoral, in that Universities and Colleges of Advanced Education are being further restricted to that minimal section of the Australian population who can afford to send their sons and daughters on to higher education.

That al) education should be free including tertiary education.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Federal Government take immediate action to introduce in order of priority

Universal Commonwealth Scholarships

Commonwealth Scholarships on the basis of need rather than academic ability

Abolition of tertiary fees

And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

Petition received.



– 1 present the following petition:

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth:

That, the Australian Education Council’s report on the needs of government education services has established serious deficiences in education, the most important areas being a severe shortage of teachers, inadequate accommodation, and, as a result, oversized classes.

That extra Federal finance is urgently required lo mi ve the government school system.

That while the needs of the government schools are being neglected, large amounts nf public money is being given, in various and numerous grants, to private schools.

Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will lake immediate steps to make emergency Federal finance available to the States for State school education, and divert the large sums of public money being spent on private schools, to the government school system for which the government is truly responsible.

And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

Petition received.

Aboriginal Land Rights


– 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 three 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 eight 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 Stale 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 ever pray.

Petition received.

Aboriginal Land Rights


– 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 Austrafia 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 three 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 eight 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 vital matter.

And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

Petition received.

Australian Capital Territory Education Authority


– 1 present the following petition:

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of residents of the Division of the Australian Capital Territory respectfully showeth:

That there is a likelihood that education in the Australian Capital Territory will in the foreseeable future be made independent of the New South Wales education system:

That the decentralisation of education systems throughout Australia is educationally and administratively desirable, and is now being studied by several State Government Departments:

That the Australian Capital Territory is a homogenous and coherent unit especially favourable for such studies.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that a Commitee of Enquiry, on which are represented the Department of Education and Science, institutions of tertiary education, practising educators, and the Canberra community, be instituted to enquire into the form that an Australian Capital Territory Education Authority should take, the educational principles and philosophy that should underly it, and its mode of operation and administration.

And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

Petition received.



– I present the following petition:

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth:

  1. That the Australian Education Council’s report on the needs of State education services has established serious deficiencies in education.
  2. That these can be summarised as lack of classroom accommodation, desperate teacher shortage, oversized classes and inadequate teaching aids.
  3. That the additional sum of one thousand million dollars is required over the next five years by the States for these needs.
  4. That without massive additional Federal finance the State school system will disintegrate.
  5. That the provisions of the Handicapped Children’s Assistance Act 1970’ should be amended to include all the country’s physically and mentally handicapped children.

Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to:

Ensure that emergency finance from the Commonwealth will be given to the States for their public education services which provide schooling for seventy-eight per cent of Australia’s children. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

Petition received and read.

Lake Pedder


– I present the following petition:

To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of citizens of ;he Commonwealth of Australia respectfully showeth:

That Lake Pedder, situated in the Lake Pedder National Park in South-West Tasmania, is threatened with inundation as part of the Gordon River hydro-electric power scheme.

That an alternative scheme exists, which, if implemented would avoid inundation of this lake.

That Lake Pedder and the surrounding wilderness area are of such beauty and scientific interest as to be of a value beyond monetary consideration.

And that some unique species of flora and fauna will be in danger of extinction if this area is inundated.

Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Federal Government take immediate steps to act on behalf of all Australian people to preserve Lake Pedder in its natural sta’.e. All present and particularly future Australians will benefit by being able to escape from their usual environment to rebuild their physical and mental strength in this unspoilt wilderness area. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.

Petition received.

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– I ask the Minister for Customs and Excise whether it is a fact that one result of the Government’s indigenous crude oil pricing policy is to make the price of Gippsland crude oil, landed at the refinery, significantly more expensive for the Australian-owned company Ampol Petroleum Ltd, than for all but one of the other oil companies, ls the Minister satisfied with a situation which has been caused by Government policy and which seriously disadvantages an Australian company in competition with foreign owned companies? If not, what action does the Minister intend to take to change this anomalous policy which compels an Australian company to distribute portion of its profits to foreign owned oil competitors? Would a fixed common ‘into refinery’ price for Gippsland crude oil be much fairer to all companies concerned than the present f.o.b. Westernport price?

Minister for Customs and Excise · HOTHAM, VICTORIA · LP

– The honourable gentleman’s question concerns a complex matter. The original premise upon which he based the question is not accurate. The transportation component in the price for indigenous crude from Bass Strait fixed by the Government is only one of several components. There are many other components in that price of $2.06 a barrel. Overall, I think it would be correct to say that because of the Government’s indigenous oil policy and its pricing policy Ampol is not disadvantaged. It is no worse off now than it was before the introduction of the Government’s indigenous oil policy. However, one must concede on the question of cost of transportation that it is obviously more expensive to Ampol to transport its crude from Bass Strait to Brisbane where it has a refinery together with Amoco whereas other companies can refine in either Melbourne or Sydney. The method of pricing oil was determined or recommended by a Tariff Board report, I think in 1965, which laid down the principles upon which the price at which oil sold at points around Australia should be determined. 1 have had several meeting with Ampol representatives. They have been to see the Prime Minister. They have put certain propositions to us. My last understanding is that Ampol is now negotiating with other oil companies because this differential can be attended to in other ways by the buy and sell arrangements. As the honourable member would know, the companies interchange both refined and non-refined products. My last understanding is that these negotiations are still proceeding, and while they are there is no point in the Govern ment interfering in private arrangements between companies. Those buy and sell arrangements are surely private matters for the individual companies concerned.

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– Will the Minister for National Development advise the House of the conclusions that have been reached about submissions from the Austraiian Petroleum Exploration Association on oil and mineral exploration within Australia?

Minister for National Development · DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND · LP

– As I indicated previously, the Australian Petroleum Exploration Association has made some submissions in relation to incentives for exploration both on-shore and off-shore, and this matter is at present under consideration by an interdepartmental committee that has been set up by the Government. I think I should make it clear that the APEA submissions are the second lot that have been made. We looked at them some months ago but we made it quite clear to the Association that this matter would be referred to this committee for consideration and report to the Government. At the same time the position in relation to incentives in a number of countries overseas differs from that in Australia. In other words different types of incentives are provided in some of the major producing countries in the world as compared with Australia. 1 think one of the greatest incentives we can have is the discovery of additional supplies and additional resources of liquid petroleum. Fairly recently there were announcements of indications of further deposits of gas and some indication of further minor liquid petroleum deposits, but the greatest incentive to the industry in Australia would be the discovery of a major liquid petroleum deposit either on-shore or off-shore in Australia. However the position in relation to other forms of incentives - the question of price, the question of incentives in relation to taxation and circles and other matters - is being considered by the committee at the present time and we expect that in the very near future a report will be submitted to the Government.

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– In the absence of the Minister for Foreign Affairs I address my question to the Prime Minister. What action has the Australian Government taken to bring about a cease fire between India and Pakistan? Is the Government preparing for the substantial increase in assistance to refugees which will be necessary as a result of the war? What action has been taken to protect the lives and interests of Australian citizens who may be endangered by the war?

Prime Minister · LOWE, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– It is my understanding that the Minister for Foreign Affairs will make a statement to the House later today. Let me emphasise that the matter is now before the United Nations where the veto has been used. We have come to the conclusion that in this case we should show strict neutrality and should not show any favouritism to one side or the other. We have also decided that our aid programme will continue, providing we can ensure that no part of that aid can be used for war purposes. The Minister will be dealing with this matter in full later and I hope that he will be able to satisfy the requirements of the honourable gentleman.

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– I ask the Minister for Education and Science: Is it a fact that many graduates will have great difficulty in finding suitable employment in the months ahead? Are these difficulties likely to grow in the future as increasing numbers of graduates seek careers for which they have been trained?

Mr Malcolm Fraser:

– 1 am not sure what I can say with accuracy about the months immediately ahead, but I think the honourable member has directed attention to something which could become, in the longer term, a problem of some significance and one which I believe meeds attention. In the immediate present the main problems are in the area of employment for people holding doctorate degrees. A short while ago one position was advertised and 80 applications were received from persons with doctorate degrees. That would certainly not have been the case even 4 or 5 years ago. The second area of difficulty is with arts graduates. The ViceChancellors’ Committee in its report covering a 3-year period drew attention to this problem. The vice chancellors together seem to suggest that this is a problem that the students alone should solve. I do not agree with that view.

A number of areas which are open to investigation may help to give students better advice. The first relates to the nature of the courses they choose when they enter a university. I believe that those within a university should try to establish better relationships with industry and commerce and perhaps alter the structure of courses so that people might be better fitted for particular jobs when they leave the university. It is worth noting that at the Canberra College of Advanced Education at the moment there are quite a large number of people who have undertaken arts degrees at the Australian National University and who have had to go to the Canberra College of Advanced Education for specific training before they could get the kind of job they wanted or with which they would be satisfied. It may well be that some alteration to certain areas of the arts course would achieve this objective without the need for additional training.

The problem with people holding doctorate degrees poses a very difficult question. I think that much closer liaison is needed between the universities and industry. Up to the present moment people with doctorate degrees have been able to get jobs in universities. That position no longer prevails because the production of persons wilh doctorates is very much greater. There is the view that because people have had this specific training there is almost an obligation upon governments or upon universities to find employment for them in the specific areas of activity. That view cannot be entertained. I have discussed this matter with the Chairman of the Australian Universities Commission. He believes that there is an emerging problem that needs attention. As soon as his recommendations for the fifth report are out of the way - it may take 6 or 8 months - he will devote attention to this problem with the universities and in consultation with the Department of Labour and -National Service.

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– I ask the Treasurer: Is it a fact that he has instructed or authorised Treasury officials, reportedly 6 in number to provide him with a detailed estimate of the cost of the programmes drawn up at the biennial Federal Confer ence of the Australian. Labor Party in Launceston last June? If so, will he table their estimates or provide me with a copy of them?

Treasurer · BRUCE, VICTORIA · LP

– It is proper practice to assess the costs of a wide range of proposals. I will make inquiries as to whether or not these have been costed.

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– My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. I refer to the Randal committee on the wool industry and I ask the honourable gentleman whether, when the report of that committee is presented to the Government, he will consider the tabling of a version of it that will include all matters except those that may properly be regarded as confidential between the Government and its advisers.

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

– As the honourable member will know, there has been a great deal of consideration given by the Government and the Parliament to the problems of the woo! industry in the last 12 months. In order to ensure (hat there is an adequate range of information available to the Government when formulating policies for the future a high level committee has been constituted. Its expertise will come mainly from within the Government although it is possible that some additional outside advice may well be taken. It is not normally the practice for a committee of this character to report to the Parliament and for that reason it would be most unusual if there were to be a report which would be suitable for presentation. The nature of the deliberations of the committee itself may be such as nol to allow for the preparation of a report suitable for consideration by the Parliament. However, I will lake note of the honourable member’s request, and if at the time the report is prepared it should he suitable for presentation no doubt the Government will decide what course of action should be pursued.

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– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister and is supplementary to the question asked by the honourable member for Brisbane. To what extent has the Australian Government allocated its grant of aid to the Pakistan refugees? Further, in view of the present hostilities between India and Pakistani, what are the Government’s plans for the supervision of present and future aid to these unfortunate people?

Mr McMahon:

– The Minister for Foreign Affairs will answer the question.

Mr N H Bowen:

– So far as our direct aid to East Pakistan is concerned, this was being given through the United Nations - the Secretary-General having set up an organisation there - and we had a rice shipment which was due to go, but this was suspended at the request of the United Nations and the rice is still in store in Australia, la fact, the United Nations personnel in East Pakistan have been or are being evacuated. So far as the East Pakistani refugees in India are concerned, we did have a Royal Australian Air Force Hercules aircraft taking blankets to that country, ft had left Butterworth at the time when this trouble broke out. lt was unable to get a landing clearance at Calcutta and had to turn back. The blankets -ure at present at Butterworth and we are exploring alternative ways of getting them to the refugees where they are needed. We had a Qantas Airways Ltd aircraft due to leave yesterday carrying a further load of blankets. A landing clearance could not be obtained for this aircraft either so unfortunately it had to be cancelled. We have a further Qantas flight booked which will not be cancelled as we are exploring the possibility of taking in these blankets in some other way.

Perhaps I should also inform the House that the ‘Harima Maru’, which was carrying rice for the Pakistani refugees in India. is just finishing unloading in Calcutta and we are hoping it will be able to sail tonight. As honourable members will know, there is another load on the ‘Gerania’ It is loading rice at Geelong at the present time, but it will have sugar and other cargo to pick up in Melbourne and Sydney. If things go according to plan it will be leaving about Christmas Eve and arriving in the early part of January. If it cannot get into Calcutta we may have to off-load at some other port and we will be exploring ways in which we can see that when our materials arrive they will get to their destination, that is, to the refugees.

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– My question is directed to the Minister for the Navy. I preface it by saying that while I have an appreciation of the many problems confronting the Royal Australian Navy concerning numerical capacity, taking into consideration the position of Russian entry into the Indian Ocean and Chinese infiltration in certain areas in Africa, I ask: As the Royal Navy is co-operating in combined exercises with the South African Navy, could consideration be given to the Royal Australian Navy joining in these combined exercises?

Minister for the Navy · EVANS, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– I am glad the honourable member has drawn attention to the-

Dr Klugman:

– It comes as a surprise to you?


– I assure the honourable member that this is not a Dorothy Dixer. I am glad that the honourable member has drawn attention to the demands being made on the relatively small Royal Australian Navy. Until recently we had a ship continuously in Vietnam waters. We are required to provide ships for the ANZUK force from time to time. Recently we took part, most successfully from the point of view of the Australian equipment and performance, in the Rimpak exercise based on Honolulu. We have also from time to time taken part in SEATO exercises and other exercises and also not long ago in an exercise in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Western Australia, which was given the name ‘Swan Lake’. The South African area is, of course, a very distant area from our point of view although about 30 per cent to 40 per cent of the shipping coming to Australia uses the Cape route. For this reason it is important that this area should be in friendly and co-operative hands. As to co-operation in exercises at that distance, I think this is a question which is quite upstream having in view the size of our forces and the availability of ships.

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– My question is directed to the Treasurer. In view of the fact that allowances paid under Commonwealth tertiary scholarships are not subject to income tax, and considering the teacher shortage which makes it imperative to encourage young people to train as teachers, I ask: Will the Treasurer give urgent consideration to making allowances received under State Government teacher training scholarships exempt from income tax?


– I have taken note of the request made by the honourable gentleman. I will consider it in the context of the very wide ranging claims that are made for exemption of certain types of income from income tax. I will put the request in that context, weigh it against all the others and then make a balanced judgment as to the extra imposition of income tax which of necessity will have to be made on the community in broad in order to achieve that exemption. The matter will be taken into account at the next consideration of this subject.

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– I direct a question to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. It has been reported that armed hostilities between India and Pakistan have prevented Australian aid being flown into Calcutta airport. If Calcutta airport has been closed to foreign aircraft, could the Minister arrange to have our emergency aid flown into Madras, Hyderabad or Vishakhapatnam - which is only 350 miles south of Calcutta - from where it could be transported by road to refugee camps in West Bengal? If this is not possible will the Government make an immediate grant in cash to enable goods to be purchased in West Bengal?

Mr N H Bowen:

-I think that in an answer to an earlier question I have already in part answered what has been put by the honourable member. We are having difficulty in getting aircraft into Calcutta. We are exploring alternative ways of flying goods in and we will certainly look at the places which the honourable member has referred to. It will be a question of co-ordinating some road transport and ascertaining whether road vehicles are available. Concerning a gift of cash, I would remind the honourable member that in my last announcement I did mention a gift of $500,000 in cash to the

United Nations focal point in India. Whether at this stage the Government should make a further gift of cash will be a matter which will be reviewed in the light of what is the desirable objective in getting our aid there. To some extent this will depend on our capacity to solve the physical problems, as it has been our experience so far that material aid, arranged in concert with the Indian Government, has been the best type of aid to get to the refugees.

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– The Minister for Defence will recall that under the 5-year rolling programme the Service departments have projected existing commitments and proposals for new equipment up to 1975- 76. He will be aware also that his Department has analysed these projections and put them into consistent form. In these circumstances why should it take up to 6 months to prepare a White Paper on defence? What is the point of having a 5- year rolling programme if it cannot be used in the preparation of a comprehensive report on defence commitments and equipment in a short time span as requested by the Prime Minister?

Minister for Defence · FARRER, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– The honourable member is not quite correct in saying that my Department has analysed the requests and bids by the Services: Tt is analysing them. This is a long, complicated job and an extreme amount of work has to be carried out in assessing costs of expensive items of equipment and in formulating such a plan. Cabinet has had some considerable discussions already. It will be having more discussions shortly and I believe that, as a result of the decisions which Cabinet makes, it will be possible to bring forward a White Paper early in the autumn session.

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– Is the Minister for Education and Science aware of the development of a chemical sex attractant or pheromone which will materially assist measures to control oriental fruit moth in peach orchards, and that a similar pheromone is being tested for codlin moth control? Will the Minister ensure that priority is accorded to the relevant Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation department which is working on the development, production and testing of this pheromone so that this most important breakthrough in the control of these orchard pests can be exploited as soon as possible?

Mr Malcolm Fraser:

– I have had some discussion with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation about research into what I think are called pheromones or chemical sex attractants. Work has been undertaken and is continuing in relation to a number of pests involving the fruit industry. The initial results of the work are encouraging, but it is very much in the early stages and no forecasts can be made about the final outcome of that research. However I am advised that the Organisation is hopeful that spraying can be considerably reduced. It may well be that if the research goes particularly well the chemical sex attracta [its could be made a control measure in their own right. I am advised that the Division of Entomology is working on synthetic forms of the sex attractants that have been obtained from the United States of America. The Division of Applied Chemistry is trying to develop an improved synthesis, compared to that available from the United States.

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Mr Malcolm Fraser:

– I am sorry but I cannot say. I will have to check whether I have or have not received a telegram from the particular person that was mentioned. As honourable members know, there is a good deal of correspondence on this matter and I will have to check with my office. However, I am aware of the problems; I am aware of the concern. I do know that a delegation of people concerned with this particular matter saw Mr Cutler, the Minister for Education and Science in New South Wales, at an earlier point. I understand that the New South Wales Government is concerned with the western areas of that State and with the problems which confront some of the schools in the western division. A number of things have been done and have helped to ameliorate the problem but I do not suggest that they have overcome it entirely. There is a problem of distance and, whatever is done, in part that will remain a problem. But the system of scholarships does provide some help especially at the tertiary level where the living away from home allowance., are, of course, greater than the allowances for those who live at home. But perhaps more important than that is the development of colleges of advanced education at a number of decentralised areas throughout Australia. There are now over 40 colleges of advanced education. 1 know that these are not all decentralised but they do provide in rural areas tertiary education opportunities which would not otherwise have been available, so this again is a partial answer. I am sympathetic to the concern and for the need of this area but I should draw the honourable member’s attention to the fact that a number of States do provide some living away from home allowances specifically for children who need to board to continue their secondary schooling. Not all States have such programmes but this is a part of education that the States have looked after up to the present time in respect to secondary schooling. Of course, the Commonwealth has similar kinds of programmes in the Northern Territory where the problem of distance is a very real one. Nevertheless, having said all that, I recognise that a problem remains.

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– Has the Minister for Labour and National Service read and digested the latest report issued by the President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission? Does the report reflect any of the views recently expressed by a certain section of the news media?

Minister for Labour and National Service · FLINDERS, VICTORIA · LP

– On the subject referred to by the honourable gentleman I have in fact received direct from the President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, the Honourable Sir Richard Kirby, a letter which, with the concurrence of the President, I can read to the House, if that is acceptable to the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr Whitlam:

– Ask for it to be incorporated in Hansard.

Mr McMahon:

– No, read it.


– With the concurrence of the Leader of the Opposition, 1 will read it to the House.


-Does the Leader of the Opposition agree to the Minister reading the letter?


– It would be quicker to have it incorporated in Hansard and the text circulated to honourable members.


– Does the Minister agree to that procedure being followed or does he want to continue with his answer? If the Minister answers the question he may be able to refer to the letter.


– I think it would be tn the interests of the House if the letter were read.

Mr Whitlam:

– Very well, let it be read.


– Subject to the indulgence of the Leader of the Opposition, the Minister may read the letter.


– The letter reads as follows: t am of course aware that any person writing a report is subject to the risk of his words or the background thoughts behind his words being publicly misunderstood or misinterpreted. I therefore, generally speaking, do not reply to, or comment on, newspaper reports even if they do not in my opinion accurately report me. This practice of not commenting applies particularly to speculations on my alleged motives or attitudes. The usual result is that the area of misinterpretation becomes increased rather than diminished.

However one article in today’s ‘Age’ by Mr Ian Carroll concerning my Annual Report to the Parliament is so inaccurate that I draw the article to your attention and deny expressly the following statements by Mr Carroll:

Mr Carroll: ‘The president of the Arbitration Commission (Sir Richard Kirby) yesterday warned that Government action would fail to reduce tha number of strikes.”

My reply: I did not give any such warning or make any statement or suggestion on Government action or its relationship to the number of strikes.

Mr Carroll: ‘In it (my Report) Sir Richard defends strongly the role of the Arbitration Commission in determining wages in the past year.’

My reply: I did not debate in any way the role of the Commission in determining wages. In tile Report I said: ‘I have never considered it proper to debate these matters.’

Mr Carroll: ‘In it Sir Richard rejects Government statements that Australia is faced with a dangerous increase in strikes.’

My reply: I did not reject any Government statements on strikes or make any reference to such statements.

Mr Carroll: ‘He (Sir Richard) makes it clear he still opposes any Federal Government attempt to force the commission to take into account the state of the economy and productivity levels in wage decisions.’

My reply: I did not make any reference at all to this subject matter.

The last thing I wish to be is over-dramatic oi to seek to prevent comment on my Report but I wish to make clear to the Parliament through you that I was and am sincere in emphasizing as I did in page 9 and in earlier Reports ‘the desirability of keeping the Commission as far as possible away from the area of party polities’. For this reason I refute any suggestions that I have in my Report directly or indirectly inferred that the Commission or I support or oppose or have any public opinion on the matters of policy now or likely to be the subject of debate between the political parties.

I table that letter without comment

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– Has the attention of the Minister for Shipping and Transport been drawn to statements by the eminent visiting American Professor of Optometry, Professor Merrill Allen, to the effect that black cars are involved in accidents to a greater degree than are white or light coloured cars, the ratio varying in different studies from as high as 5 to 1 to as low as 1 to 1? Has he brought this matter to the attention of his colleague the Minister for Supply? Has his Department sought the advice of Professor Allen, who is recognised throughout the world as one of the foremost experts in the matter of visibility in motor vehicles?

Minister for Shipping and Transport · GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA · CP

– My attention has not been specifically drawn to the statements, but I did read in the newspapers a report of the Professor’s remarks and, as a matter of interest, I sent it to my Department, to be drawn to the attention of the Expert Group on Road Safety, and that is where the matter presently lies, so far as my Department is concerned. As regards that part of the question in which the honourable member asked me whether I had brought this matter to the attention of the Minister for Supply, I will draw it to my colleague’s attention and provide the honourable member with an answer at a later date.

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– My question is addressed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. In view of the very understandable anxiety of a number of people in Australia concerning the safety of their relatives or friends in India or Pakistan, has the Government accounted for all Australian nationals in those 2 countries, and what arrangements are being made to ensure the safety of these Australians?

Mr N H Bowen:

-I will be dealing with this matter in the statement which I hope to have leave to make to the House after question time. But perhaps I could say at this stage that I think that most Australians in East and West Pakistan have been accounted for. Of course, one can never be certain that there are not in East and West Pakistan other Australians who have not in any way notified their position at the present time. Arrangements have been made to get these people who have been accounted for out of the country. As far as India is concerned, there are more Australians, tourists particularly, in that country, but any danger to them is much less. However, the Australian High Commissioner in New Delhi is charged with the responsibility of warning these people and of making contact with them where it is desirable. I believe that adequate steps are being taken regarding Australians in India.

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– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport a question. The honourable gentleman will recall that at the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers responsible for ports and marine it was decided - over 10 weeks ago - that the present maximum penalty of $2,000 for the discharge of oil into the sea from a ship was inadequate and should be raised ‘immediately’ - I quote the word - to $50,000? As the only amendment required is to replace the words “one thousand pounds’ by the words ‘fifty thousand dollars’ in the Act, a task which is hardly likely to require complicated drafting or cans; much delay to the business of the House, I ask why has not the Government brought the amendment before this sitting of Parliament?


– The reason why the Government has not brought that amendment before this sitting of Parliament is that, along with that amendment, there are other amendments to the Navigation Act and matters relating to oil pollution of the sea which are subject to Cabinet decision. They will come into the House during the next session of Parliament.

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– I ask the Minister for Customs and Excise a question. Is illegal entry of marihuana increasing to alarming levels? Is the smoking of this drug causing concern amongst parents of young people throughout Australia and affecting the health of such smokers? Will the Minister inform the House of measures taken to control the use of this drug?


– There are increasing quantities of cannabis, both in the form of marihuana and hashish, being brought into the country. Seizures over the last 3 years vindicate this statement. In 1969 we seized approximately 50,000 grams: in 1970 we seized approximately 100,000 grams; and to the end of August of this year we have seized approximately 135,000 grams. It is estimated - and this is the United Nations figure - that this quantity represents about 20 per cent to IS per cent of the total amount of marihuana or cannabis which various people try to smuggle into this country.

The Government’s activities have been to increase the size and efficiency of the Department’s narcotics bureau. In addition we have greater co-operation with State police forces which are now working magnificently with us. As an Australian Government we have taken the initiative in convening an international conference of 13 Asian nations which was held in Australia last week or the week before last. Further, the Government has hypothecated

Sim over the last year and this year for a national drug education campaign to point up the dangers of smoking and using marihuana and other drugs.

I believe that the Government’s action in spending Sim of taxpayers’ money has been overwhelmingly supported by the taxpayers themselves. I would have thought that any statements made by irresponsible people in an irresponsible manner, even if they are doctors, do nothing but undermine that position.

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– I direct my question to the Prime Minister. My question arises out of certain answers which the Prime Minister gave to questions he was asked last night during the Australian Broadcasting Commission television programme ‘Monday Conference’. During the programme the Prime Minister indicated that he saw no prospect of introducing a Bill for a proposed criminal code for Commonwealth Territories during this sitting of Parliament. The right honourable gentleman went on in answer to another question to say that he did not know about the proposal relating to Commonwealth Territories, and in particular the Australian Capital Territory, that he had not heard of it before and that he could not give an answer to the question which had been asked of him. My question is this: In view of the answer given by the AttorneyGeneral in the Senate on 10th November that he intended to introduce such a code as a Bill early next year, will the right honourable gentleman tell us what the true position is, and whether we can expect such a Bill during this sitting of Parliament, early next year or not at all?

Dr Gun:

– What happened to your phenomenal memory?


– I will now indicate to the honourable gentleman the results of this so called phenomenal memory. I was referring to a comparison between myself and the Leader of the Opposition. The position is quite clear. The Attorney-General may have made a statement relating to the subject matter that the honourable gentleman has mentioned. This matter has not yet come before Cabinet for approval. The point that I want to make in answer to the question is that my remarks on the television programme last night were related to the problem of abortion. I said the Government had no intention of introducing legislation in this Parliament - nor have I any intention of introducing legislation in the time that 1 am Prime Minister - relating to abortion.

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– 1 ask the Treasurer whether, in view of the continuing indications of the failure of productivity to keep up with wages and other costs, he will consider giving industry the opportunity of improving efficiency by reintroducing the investment allowance for the purchase of new capital equipment.


– The suspension of the investment allowance was a decision taken by the Government in February this year to meet economic circumstances. Implicit in the honourable gentleman’s question is the suggestion that the restoration of the investment allowance would of itself contribute to increased productivity. That is a statement which is subject to debate.

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Territorial Sea and Continental Shelf Legislation

Leader of the Opposition · Werriwa

– I move:

The second passage is as follows:

This question - of the sovereignty under Federal systems - has been specifically answered by the courts in both of the 2 overseas federations which are of particular interest to Australia - the United States and Canada. In the United States, the matter was litigated in the Supreme Court by the State of California, and subsequently by other States. In Canada by virtue of a special legislative provision, the question was referred to the Supreme Court, at the instance of the Federation itself in relation to the Province of British Columbia. In both federations, the Supreme Court answered the basic question in the same way. Sovereign control over the mineral resources of both the territorial sea and the continental shelf was held to be vested in the Federation alone, to the exclusion of the component States or Provinces.

Finally I give another quotation from the Minister’s second reading speech. He said:

I have mentioned that this Bill will be followed later in the session by a Bill which will apply a mining code to the offshore areas in respect of which the present Bill establishes Commonwealth authority. That later Bill will provide the detailed rules under which mining titles may be Issued and exploration and exploitation carried on for all minerals other than petroleum.

It will be seen that this matter was mentioned in the Governor-General’s Speech opening the Parliament. It was one of the first pieces of legislation; it was to be followed by other pieces of legislation. On the very next sitting day, 21st April last year, this Bill appeared as Government business No. 8 on the notice paper. There were 27 Bills listed after it. On the last sitting day in the autumn session last year, 12th June 1970, it was No. 11. There were still 12 Bills after it on the notice paper. But on the first day of the Budget session last year, 16th August, it was No. 16. It was the last of the Bills listed on the notice paper, and ever since it has been the last of the Bills listed on the notice paper. The House has been, I suggest, extremely patient in this matter. On 16th March this year my colleague, the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson), asked the Prime Minister this question:

On 16th April 1970 the Cabinet, or the Goveminent, after great deliberation introduced into this Parliament the Terrotorial Sea and Continental Shelf Bill as a matter of urgency. The Minister who introduced it said-

I recall that the Minister who introduced it did so on behalf of the then Minister for External Affairs, who by that stage was Prime Minister -

The Government feels that this issue should now be decided once and for all. and without delay’.

The question by the honourable member for Dawson continued:

That was 11 months ago. Will the Prime Minister see that this Cabinet decision, which was taken 1 1 months ago, will now in fact be proceeded with immediately, as his Minister said, and that the Bill is debated in this House without delay?

The Prime Minister, who had sponsored the Bill, replied:

I have tried to make 2 points clear: Firstly that 1 am a party man and secondly that I believe in C:,binet making decisions. I will most certainly consult my Party about the problem mentioned, and 1 will also consult the full Cabinet before anything further is done.

I pass to the present sessional period. I asked the Leader of the House a question about this Bil) on 30th September. I asked the Prime Minister himself a further question about it on 24th of last month. I asked him specifically - it was the third part of a question without notice:

When will the Government proceed with` the Territorial Sea and Continental Shelf Bill which was introduced in April last year on his behalf when he was Minister for External Affairs, which was included in the Governments programme al the election in October 1969 and in the GovernorGeneral’s speech opening the Parliament in March last year, but which is at present item 70 on the notice paper? In other words, is ii the pol icy of his Government to proceed with its predecessor’s undertaking and his own predecessor’s undertaking of 2 years ago?

The right honourable gentleman replied:

The third part of the question obviously is intended to be provocative and mischievous. I will have discussions with my colleague, the Leader of the House, and it will be in his hands as to when the matter is brought before the House for discussion.

That was the 24th of last month. On the 2nd of this month the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating) asked the Prime Minister:

Since he now proposes to raise with the Leader of the House the date on which the Government should proceed with the Bill, should the House understand that he will also immediately initiate the Party room and Cabinet discussion of it which he told the honourable member for Dawson on 16th March would be held before anything further is done?

The Prime Minister replied:

I have not given consideration to this matter for the last few weeks, but I will do so shortly. ( thought I should ask the next question to prod the right honourable gentleman’s phenomenal memory, and I asked:

Are we to take it from the answer which the right honourable gentleman has just given to the honourable member for Blaxland that he has not in fact raised with the Leader of the House the possibility of the House debating ibis year this Bill which the Lender of the House read on behalf of the right honourable gentleman when he was Foreign Minister in April last year.

It will be remembered that the right honourable gentleman had told the honourable member for Blaxland that he had not given consideration to it for the last few weeks. The Prime Minister replied:

I have nol had an opportunity to discuss it with the Leader of the House. I will attempt to do so today.

His attempts have failed. The matter is still the last of the Bills on the notice paper - No. 52. Accordingly, if this matter is to be debated in this session - maybe if it is to be debated in this Parliament - it should be debated this week. If it is not debated this week it cannot he debated until the end of February next. It would not then be able to be debated for 2 years after the GovernorGeneral promised that the Government would include it in its legislative programme. It would not be debated until 22 months after the present Prime Minister sponsored the Bill as Minister for External Affairs. The matter has become urgent. One of the most eminent and experienced legal authorities in Australia, the former

President of the World Court, Sir Percy Spender, as far back as 3rd May 1969 at a seminar attended by the then AttorneyGeneral, the honourable member for Parramatta (Mr N. H. Bowen) and by several other Ministers, expressed the opinion which 1 can summarise from a question I asked in May 1969 as follows:

  1. . . . excluding what are commonly known as inland waters, the territorial boundaries of Queensland and other States end at low water mark, (b) . . . the territorial seas bordering Australia, and the sea bed thereof with all its natural resources, are those of the Commonwealth, not those of any State, and (c) . . . dominion over the sea bed and the natural resources of the whole of the Continental Shelf, commencing at low water mark, and the right to explore and exploit these or permit others to do so, is vested exclusively in the Commonwealth.

I believe that Australians in general recognise that the Great Barrier Reef would not have been preserved but for the undertaking given by the late Prime Minister, Mr Holt, to a great Australian, Mr John Busst, whose enthusiasm on this matter will be of enduring benefit to Australians, and the later initiative taken outside the House in forceful discussion with the Premier of Queensland by the former Prime Minister, the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton). This is a direct, practical illustration of what the Commonwealth can do and what I believe only the Commonwealth will effectively do.

There are other instances to show how rapidly other federal states are moving on this matter. On 1st September 1968 Mexico, which is a federal state, its official title being Estados Unidos Mexicanos, declared the northern third of the Gulf of California to be part of Mexico’s territorial sea. The President pf Mexico made the announcement, not the State Governors. In 1970 the Canadian Parliament passed an Act, the Territorial Sea and Fisheries Zone Act, permitting the Government of Canada to draw fisheries closing lines across the entrances to such bodies of water as the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the Bay of Fundy, on the Atlantic coast and Queen Charlotte Sound and Dixon Entrance - Hecate Strait on the Pacific coast. The Government of Canada proclaimed the closing lines on 18th December 1970. The Government of Canada made the proclamations. The Parliament of Canada passed the laws. There were no laws by the pro vincial parliaments. There were no proclamations by the provincial governments. Lastly, the federal state of Malaysia in the third week of November this year made a declaration, jointly with Indonesia, at a conference which was attended by Singapore, which noted the declaration that the Strait of Malacca was within their territorial limits. It will be noted that the declaration was not made by any of the relevant States of Malaysia, the Stales on the west coast of West Malaysia. The declaration was made by the Government of Malaysia.

I have given 3 instances of federal states - Mexico, Canada and Malaysia - with which we are familiar, which are large trading and maritime nations in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. There are, of course, innumerable instances in unitary states or in states of uncertain constitutional structure, where such declarations have been made. There is to be an international conference on this matter at Geneva in 1973. It is important that Australia should move decisively and swiftly.

It is very likely, as Sir Percy Spender advised early in 1969 and as the present Prime Minister envisaged in his speech in April 1970, that there will be litigation in this matter. With the greatest expedition and will in the world it might easily take a year for litigation in this matter to come to a conclusion. It is urgent in our national interest, therefore, that this Bill should pass and that any challenges to it should be concluded in 1972. It is unthinkable that Australia should go to this international conference in an uncertain and precarious position. I conclude with a couple of local matters which do not concern the Australian States alone. Last year- Australia and Indonesia made a treaty determining the limits of their territorial seas between West Irian and Australia. I have placed questions on the notice paper concerning the position of Australian and New Zealand territorial seas in the Tasman Sea and also, since 1965, concerning the position of the territorial sea in Torres Strait between Queensland and Papua. On the first matter I was assured on 7th April last that the 2 governments of Australia and New Zealand have not as yet had occasion to exchange views on this subject. There are several atolls, shoals and reefs in the Tasman Sea. New Zealand should be making arrangements with the Australian Government as to the limits between them. Secondly, I was told by the present Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen) on )3th September about the position between Queensland and Papua. He said:

The recommendation of the United Nations Visiting Mission, 1971, on the revision of the border between Papua and Queensland has not yet been drawn to the attention of the Queensland Government.

The question of the revision of the borde between Papua and Queensland is a complex one and involves constitutional and other considerations to which priority attention is being given by the Government.

I do not regard it as a very high priority when the Menzies Government, the Holt Government, the- Gorton Government and the McMahon Government have not yet concluded these negotiations. But the Minister for Foreign Affairs proceeded:

The Queensland Government has indicated thai it supports the 930 or so inhabitants … in their opposition to any change in their status.

We have here a festering cause of contention between Australia and her nearest neighbour. Tt cannot be settled until the Commonwealth asserts its sovereignty over Australia’s territorial seas as all other federal states have clone. The Minister for National Development, who introduced the Bill on behalf of the present Prime Minister when he was Minister for External Affairs, concedes that the greatest depth of the continental shelf between the south coast of Papua and the tip of Cape York is approximately 30 metres.


-Order! The Leader of the Opposition’s time has expired.


– 1 second the motion. There are urgent reasons why the Government should proceed with its off-shore legislation which asserts and establishes the exclusive right of the Australian Government to exercise sovereign control over the waters and resources pertaining to the seabed off the Australian coa«t. As the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has said, this legislation was introduced into the Parliament almost 20 months ago as a matter of urgency by the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) on behalf of the present Prime Minister (Mr McMahon). acting, I would assume, with the full backing of the Cabinet at that time when the present Prime Minister was Minister for

External Affairs. Since that time the Government has not found time, as it tells us, to proceed with the legislation. It is patently obvious that because of political pressures the Government is adopting a weak and incompetent attitude in refusing to proceed with this urgent legislation. Of all the nations with sea boundaries Australia is possibly the only one that has not yet clarified or declared its attitude on this position. With an international conference approaching, it is an intolerable situation that Australian delegates will have to go to this conference and sit around the table and yet Australia has still not declared an attitude on this most important matter. Other nations logically can question the competence of the Australian Government to participate in such a conference when it is apparently incapable of making a decision itself with respect to the waters surrounding this continent.

The object of the Bill was to implement the Cabinet decision which was first announced by the Governor-General almost 2 years ago when this Parliament started, and still we have no action. 1 can only repeat the words of the Minister for National Development, acting on behalf of the present Prime Minister, as they were also repeated by the Leader of the Opposition. He said: . . this issue should now be decided once and for all, and without delay.

It that is not a matter of urgency, I do not know what is. We saw in this Parliament last year a vote of censure on the previous Prime Minister on this very question - a matter of great urgency. The reason given by the Government for its urgency is that until it is so decided the Commonwealth cannot either disclaim responsibility for what it has done in off-shore areas or itself take appropriate action. The Opposition believes this, and I believe that every intelligent person who understands this situation would thoroughly endorse it. Until the legal question is decided the Commonwealth is unable to take any responsibility for its actions and is unable also to take any action itself. One can only reach the conclusion that the facts are that the Government is incompetent and that it has not the political courage to do its job properly, to clarify the position and to assert and to establish its position in the way that other nations have done, particularly those operating under a federal constitution, such as Canada and the United States. They are 2 nations which have clarified their position in completely unambiguous language.

I admit that the States have argued that they have sovereign rights in this matter, but does anybody really believe that they have sovereign rights? Prior to Federation there were no such sovereign rights given to any State by Her Majesty’s Government, and it was not until after Federation and Australia had become an independent nation that these rights obviously were conferred on the independent nation of Australia. Therefore the States have no sovereign rights as far as off-shore legislation goes. I believe this is what the Chief Justice, Sir Garfield Barwick, made clear when he said:

At common law in Australia, as in England, the territory of the Queen’s Realms ended at low water murk and did not extend to any part of the seabed beyond.

He said further: . . and the Queen’s assertion of sovereignty in the territorial sea recognised by international law was not delegated to or conferred . . .

At no stage were there any international or sovereign rights conferred on the States themselves. That is perfectly clear. The Opposition believes that the Government had rightly decided to introduce this legislation and we were going to support it to the full because we believe this is an important question and one which must be clarified without delay. I repeat again that the constitutional issue should now be decided once and for all and without delay. That is what the Government said 20 months ago, but still we have no decision. Why should this issue be finalised? The essence of the motion before the Chair is that Australia’s reputation as a responsible nation is at stake. There is to be an important international conference and apparently we have no attitude at all on this matter. One can judge the attitude of the Government from the performance of the present Minister for Foreign Affairs when he was Attorney-General in trying to stop the 2 justices of the High Court from giving and explicit decision in relation to the case that was before them. Mr Justice Windeyer and Sir Garfield Barwick gave a decision or made a recommendation or suggestion - however we want to phrase it - but the point is that the Government tried to stop it.

The second reason why action is needed is that there is confusion in this matter which is inhibiting further exploration and development of offshore resources whether they be minerals, natural gas. petroleum or any other resource. There is confusion and we cannot expect companies to enter into contracts to explore or develop resources when this uncertainty hangs over their heads. The third point I would like to make is that the States themselves are unable to control these waters. They have not the resources, the manpower or whatever else is required. In terms of the Federal powers relating to customs, immigration, disease control, defence, poaching and fishing the control of these waters is obviously a Commonwealth responsibility. Under the terms of the conference it is the Commonwealth’s responsibility from the low water mark right through to the continental shelf. I will give a specific example of the way in which 1 believe that the Government is shirking its responsibilities in this matter. Only, recently there was another death in northern coastal waters caused by the deadly box jelly-fish or, as it is commonly called, the sea wasp. I believe, and I believe that most people in this Parliament hold this view, that control of these waters should be a matter for the Commonwealth Government.

One might ask: ‘What has that death to do with this matter?’ It has a lot to do with it because if the Commonwealth Government was actually carrying out its responsibilities in this matter of great urgency it would have the fisheries division of the Department of Primary Industry, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and Commonwealth medical research workers carrying out research on behalf of the Austraiian people to try to find out why this jellyfish has suddenly appeared in large numbers in these northern waters. One theory for this sudden increase has been put forward by highly experienced fishermen of the northern waters who blame the State for not preventing the netting of coastal estuaries, creeks and rivers by thousands and thousands of amateur fishermen Why have these deadly sea wasps suddenly appeared in such numbers?

This is a Commonwealth responsibility. I have given just one example to illustrate the urgency in this matter for something to be done. The States cannot do it. The

States do not have the resources. The Commonwealth is doing nothing. This is an urgent problem which must be investigated. All of the resources of the Commonwealth should be brought into action. I assume that the State of Queensland is reluctant to ask the Commonwealth to do too much work in this field because, after all, this again raises the question of legal responsibility constitutionally of the Commonwealth’s entry into the so-called 3-mile territorial sea limit.

It is time that this problem was solved. I believe that the motion for the suspension of the Standing Orders should be agreed to by the Government because there is an urgent need to debate this legislation and to have it passed. I would think that if ever a nation is going to be regarded as a hillbilly nation it is Australia. This is what will happen if at the time we sent our top experts in this field to the next international conference on the law of the sea we still have not taken any action. Legislation on this subject was introduced into this national Parliament 20 months ago. The Governor-General announced what the Government would do. The Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) acting on behalf of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, who is now the Prime Minister, stated in categorical terms that there was an urgent need to bring this legislation forward because, as he said, no decision could be taken with respect to particular matters arising in these areas until this legislation is passed.

I do not know what other reasons are needed by you, Mr Speaker, or by the Parliament in regard to this matter. I will be most interested to hear the Government’s defence on this matter because as far as I am concerned there is no valid defence whatsoever. This is an incompetent Government. It cannot make a decision on a matter on which an announcement was made by the Governor-General and about which a Cabinet decision has been made and legislation has been introduced.

I might add by way of reinforcing my argument that this Government is competent that there are 2 related Bills now on the notice paper. One of them deals with continental shelf living resources and the other deals with the conservation and control of fishing. These Bills are relevant to this matter. Is this the reason why the Minister or the Leader of the House is not going to proceed with these 2 important Bills also? All this adds to the complete confusion in regard to this problem. The quicker it is solved the better it will be for Australia and certainly in the international view Australia will at least look responsible. At present Australia is completely irresponsible in regard to this matter. This Government is incompetent. It is a weak Government. The quicker it faces up to its responsibility the better it will be for this country.


– The strictures of the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) against the Government in a general sense I reject. But I want to say to the Government, and in particular to the Minister for Nations Development (Mr Swartz), that I entertain a deep sense of dismay and concern with the delay that has attended this measure. It is perfectly true, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has said, that this is a matter entitled to exceptional regard. I would like to tell the House why I believe that to be the case. Time is running very much against the Government on this issue and very much against this country. In 1973, pursuant to 2 resolutions of the General Assembly of the United Nations, there will be convened in Geneva a new conference on the law of the sea. At the last count there were 109 nations in the world with a coastline, 109 littoral nations. I feel acutely embarrassed that Australia is the only one which has not settled the question of sovereignty with respect to the territorial sea and with respect to the continental shelf.

There are 11 variants of what is the territorial sea. They range from 3 miles offshore to 200 miles. Historically the member nations of the Commonwealth of Nations have accepted 3 miles but now it is long odds on that at the conference in 1973 the territorial sea, in terms of international law, as distinct from municipal law - that is to say local law - will be laid down definitively at 12 miles. The effect of that throughout the world is going to be of the utmost consequence, and I will tell the House why. No fewer than 116 straits today are high seas. In other words ships, be they warships or any other types of ships, can transit them with all the freedom conferred by their seas. This country does a considerable volume of trade with Asian countries. There are 2 archipelagic nations, Indonesia and the Philippines, in the Asian area and many problems will attend ships using the straits between the islands of those countries. In respect to Queensland there is an acute problem. There is at the moment a speckled jurisdication and I defy any fisherman to say with certainty what waters he is in - Queensland waters so-called, international waters or the waters with respect to which this Parliament claims that it has responsibility.

What is the position of the States and the Commonwealth of Australia? Already one has seen evidence - and this is to be judged by the views expressed by State Crown law officers presented to the Senate Select Committee on Off-shore Petroleum Resources - claiming that the right to pass legislation with respect to the peace, good order and government of a State gives the State the right to the continental shelf. For myself 1 say that this is an absurdity. Australia has the largest continental shelf in the world. It is unbroken with respect to Australia, qua Australia’s and New Guinea. In 1969 when the International Court of Justice gave its decision in the North Sea continental shelf case it laid down a rule, and this is part of the rationale of the decision, which I would have thought every person in this country who is interested in this matter would have viewed with very considerable alarm, lt was that the equidistant principle with respect to 2 nations fronting each other where there is an unbroken continental shelf is not a principle of customary international Jaw.

Let us consider the position of an independent New Guinea in 5 or 15 years time with an unbroken continental shelf stretching between Australia and New Guinea. Who will argue on behalf of Queensland, when Queensland has no international personality, if New Guinea says: ‘We are not going to .subscribe lo any form of international arrangement that places upon us the obligation lo respect and adhere to the equidistant principle’? That principle is enshrined in the present law of the sea - the code of the last Geneva Convention.

This is one other significant problem. But how is Australia, in conscience name, to plead its position, to seek concessions and to maintain attitudes if in respect of its own sovereignty it has not made clear where sovereignty lies?

I do not know what has happened to the Liberal tradition. I always thought that it was based firmly upon the principle that in order to determine the value, the acceptance or the truth of any proposition, it was argued. Prior to 1961 the Australian States had the power to deal with legitimation. In the Marriage Act of 1962, I think il was. there were 2 provisions - sections 89 and 90 - relating to legitimation. I did not hear any person then cry out: ‘Here is centralism. You are taking something from the States ! What happened? The Victorian Attorney-General sought to have certain declarations made, the Commonwealth Government demurred and argument ensued. If honourable members read the judgment of the then Chief Justice, Sir Owen Dixon, they will find that his opening words were: This has been brought to settle rights and to determine henceforth as to where these matters lie.’ There is no doubt that there is argument as to where sovereignty lies. I believe it l:es with the Commonwealth. This has its origin in 1876 when a German ship, the ‘Franconia’. within 3 miles of the port of Dover collided with an English steamer, the ‘Strathclvde’. and the German captain. named Keyn, was indicted for manslaughter. Fourteen judges of the Court of Crown Cases Reserve sat to hear whether or not there was jurisdiction. One judge died before the judgment was handed down but the majority of the 13 held that the realm of England finished at the low water mark.

Keyn’s case is not a binding authority on Australia but anyone who is game enough to argue that the States have sovereignty has a substantial obstacle in his path. Why not settle this matter once and for all? Young commanders and lieutenantcommanders are asked to go out on patrol boats and they have thrust upon them the responsibility of deciding whether or not a vessel is in Australian waters. May 1 give an illustration of the dilemma that can arise with respect to this problem? In 1962 a British trawler, rejoicing in the name, picturesquely enough, of the ‘Red

Crusader’, was alleged to have been within Danish territorial waters. The captain of the ‘Red Crusader’ was a man of wit named Wood. A Danish patrol boat, the Niels Ebbesen’, gave the signal to halt to the ‘Red Crusader’. Skipper Wood took no notice of it. The Danish patrol boat opened fire at the radar signal. The ‘Red Crusader’ stopped and the Danish patrol boat put a boarding party on board. Skipper Wood, to show his wit, locked the boarding party up and proceeded to sail off towards a home port.’ This rather dumbfounded the Danes on board the Niels Ebbesen’. A British destroyer, the ‘Troubridge’, came into sight and came between the 2 vessels. This matter went to arbitration after there had been most angry notes exchanged between the two countries. One of the main matters for argument was whether or not the ‘Red Crusader’ was, in fact, within Danish waters.

In the matter we are considering there is a territorial strip of water, high seas, and this speckled jurisdiction throughout the length and breadth of Australia. I do not know why there is this reluctance to determine this matter. Of course this side of the House has passed through what I would describe as the minor contretempts of March or April of this year. However, we can survive and we will survive through this outburst of trouble. But this is a matter that should be referred. Within the space of the next 10 or 15 years there will probably be more submersibles operating underneath the water than there are submarines held in charge by the nations of the world. Today more than 1,000 cor.portations and companies throughout the world are building various devices associated with the exploitation of the sea bed. The world is now being thrust onto a completely new frontier. The mineral potential of the Pacific Ocean alone is quite extraordinary. To illustrate this fact, it has been estimated that there is sufficient nickel in the Pacific Ocean to meet world requirements for 150,000 years. Lest that means nothing I point out that at the present rate of use the nickel potential on land is of the order of 100 years.

May I remind the House what happened in 1970? The Navigation Act was amended as it related to pollution. If honourable members examine the definition of coastal

Australian waters in that Act they will see that it takes in from the low water mark outwards. I sat here while that legislation passed through this House and I laughed my head off - I know not sufficiently thoroughly enough for some people. But there is was. I did not hear any honourable member say: ‘You are assuming sovereignty with respect to the territorial sea. You are taking something away from the States.’ I heard nothing at all from the holy Joes - the State righters. This is a matter that must be settled. I even heard some State Minister say that if the Commonwealth had sovereignty with respect to the territorial sea and the continental shelf it would be able to control lifesavers and bikinis. Really and truly, one would not think that any person would have such a quaint approach to such a significant problem.

I understand from my friend, the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) that the final report of the Senate Select Committee on Off-Shore Petroleum Resources will be brought down tomorrow. I believe that it is with the Government Printer now. I further believe that the Government has some view that once that report is received it will proceed with it. But I ask my honourable friend whether he will do me the favour - I do not ask many favours of many people in this world - of nodding his head to indicate that the Government will proceed with this matter as soon as possible. I put it to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) that in order to carry his motion he must have the support of an absolute majority of members of this House. I do not know whether I can cajole, threaten, persuade, encourage, lead or mislead 5 or 6 members to cross the floor of the House to vote with him. That move is not on the board, but I want my friend, the Minister tor National Development, to give an undertaking that this matter will be proceeded with because it will probably take the whole of next year for it to be litigated, to be argued and for the judgments to be handed down.

I do not know why it is that the Government has persisted in being so inactive in this matter. I think there is considerable virtue in having the issue settled. Why should people be uncertain with respect to this great issue? I hope that my honourable friend finds it convenient to put himself in a position where he can give a broad indication that my suggestion is agreeable to him. If that be the case I will be prepared to sit in my seat when the motion is put.


– I am very glad that the Opposition has now decided that this is a matter of urgency and of great national importance. Indeed it is, and a Bill should have been passed by this Parliament months ago. It would have been passed by this Parliament months ago if the Opposition had not been so opportunist and had not taken the opportunity to support a move by the honourable member for Farrer (Mr Fairbairn) against myself and the Government on the grounds that they had not delayed the matter farther by having more discussions with the States before the Bill was brought in. Indeed. I think that the attitude adopted by the Opposition at that time was a subjugation of national interest to the purest ephemeral political tactics. In doing so the Opposition did the Government a disservice; it did this nation a disservice.

It is urgent and it is important that this matter should be cleared up and it cannot, in my view, be presented in any way as a party matter. There is no ideological difference here clearly delineated between the parties. There is no basic different political approach. There is nothing that can be represented as something that involves budgetary expenditure by the Government. There is nothing that can be represented as involving budgetary expenditure by the Government. It is purely a matter of where Australia’s interests lie.

In support of the contention that it is by no means a Party matter, I reiterate that the proposition that this should be cleared up was adopted by a national Liberal government every member of which accepted that proposition. We have on record an interim report from the Senate Select Committee on Off-shore Petroleum Resources which states that it is against the national interests for this matter to remain unresolved. I think the Chairman of the Committee was the present AttorneyGeneral (Senator Greenwood) Certainly he was a signatory to that report. We have on record the evidence of the present Minister for Works (Senator Wright) saying how wrong it is for the present confused situation to continue and we have the Bill which was introduced into this House so ably by the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) on behalf of the present Prime Minister (Mr McMahon). Finally, we have the statement on behalf of the Government, made from the Throne, that this legislation would be passed during this session of Parliament. With that record, who can say that this is in fact a Party matter? It is a matter which, if people have views on it, I should like to see debated in this Parliament and voted on in this Parliament with a free vote. Surely if ever there was a matter which should be so voted on, it is this.

We cannot continue in a situation where people do not know what the law is and where sovereignty resides. As a member of the Opposition said, it is ludicrous for us to be the only country in the world that does not in fact know who has sovereignty over the waters which wash its shores. This matter involves fisheries and fisheries protection. It involves conservation of those things which grow on the sea bed. It involves control of pollution. If a tanker is to blow its oil out off the coast of New South Wales within the 3-mile limit, who has jurisdiction? Who can punish those responsible? If it is done off the coast of Victoria, is it a different penalty? Surely wherever it is blown it pollutes Australia, not just a part of a State. It involves mining and conservation, not only mining of such magnificent national monuments as the Great Barrier Reef but also on the sea bed itself. It involves the question of whether it is wise to take action which may involve changes in currents and in ecology and whether it is wise to leave these matters to State governments rather than to a national government. No-one can tell me that this can be resolved by uniform legislation, because uniform legislation remains uniform only until one party changes the legislation which its Parliament has passed. There needs to be a national authority in these matters. It also involves matters of defence - it involves naval matters and that involves control of devices which may be put on the sea bed either for offensive or for defensive purposes. As I said, no-one knows who has authority in these affairs.

There are at least 3 schools of thought on this matter. One claims, as I do, that the Commonwealth has sovereignty in law from the low water mark to the outer limits of the continental shelf. Another school of thought claims that the States have sovereignty from low water mark to the outer limits of the continental shelf. They do not confine their claims to the territorial sea. Yet another claims that the States have sovereignty from low water mark to the limit of the territorial sea - at present 3 miles - and the Commonwealth has authority after that. But nobody knows and nobody will know what the position will be when and if the territorial sea limit is moved from 3 miles to 12 miles. This will confuse the matter even more. Will the States then have authority from low water mark to the 3-mile limit and the Commonwealth from the 3-mile limit to the outer limit of the continental shelf, or will there be a still more disputed area between the 3-mile limit and the new 12- mile limit? The possibility of confusion and lack of any legal action being able to be taken to conserve and to look after our national interest will grow and grow until this is resolved.

I am very taken with the argument, as I understand it, that there is an unbroken continental shelf between the coast of Australia and Indonesia. At some stage, there will need to be an agreement as to just where the sovereignty of whoever it is in Australia extends to and where the sovereignty of Indonesia extends to. But who knows who is going to do it for Australia? Is it going to be the national Government or will it be the Western Australian Government for part of it and the Northern Territory Administration for part of it? Will it be the same between ourselves and Papua New Guinea, which is advancing so rapidly towards independence? Are arrangements concerning that continental shelf to be carried out only by Queensland, as they would be if Queensland had the sovereignty over those areas as it claims, or will the national Government, as it ought to, clearly have sovereignty in these affairs? I am not going to vote for the suspension of Standing Orders and to take the business out of the hands of the Government at this time. However, I noted that there was no nodding of the head by the Minister for National Development in response to the appeals of the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) and I think therefore that the Minister and all concerned should know that if it appears that this Bill is not ever going to be brought on in this Parliament, as it was promised that it would be, then I will cast whatever vote is open to me to cast to endeavour to see that it is brought on, debated and passed.

Minister for National Development · Darling Downs · LP

– I approach this particular subject almost with a degree of reverence. As the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) will well recall, together with my colleague, the former Attorney-General, we had the job of conducting negotiations at great length with the States on this subject in various places. So I can assure honourable members that I have a great personal interest in this particular matter. Of course, with my own responsibility in relation to national development, I also have an interest in future mining legislation which I think ultimately will be essential for the control of off-shore mining operations on a far better and more uniform basis than it is at present.

However, having said that,, and having listened to what I consider to be a very constructive debate, particularly the last 2 speakers, I assure the House that this matter has not been left unnoticed on the notice paper, apart from the fact that it has been raised in this House on a couple of occasions. It is only over recent weeks that the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen), the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) and myself have had quite lengthy discussions on a number of aspects in relation to this subject. There is also the other matter that was mentioned by my colleague, the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen), that the Senate Select Committee on Off-shore Petroleum Resources has not only been considering matters relating to the mirror legislation on petroleum but also, in its interim report, indicated that in its final report it expected to be dealing with matters ranging far from that particular subject. The Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) has also stated in this House and publicly that this matter will be raised in the joint meetings of the

Government Parties and discussed there at some point of time before the policy on future action by the Government was finally considered. However, the advice that we have given to the Prime Minister recently is that we first of all should consider the implications arising from the report of the Senate Committee which, I understand, is to be submitted to the Senate tomorrow.

The Territorial Sea and Continental Shelf Bill has remained on the notice paper during this session and, as the Leader of the House responsible for arranging the order of business of the House, I will have to consider whether the Government wishes the Bill to be discussed during the autumn session. I cannot nod my head to my colleague the honourable member for Moreton, or give him an assurance as to when or how this Bill will be dealt with. All I can say is that the Bill is still on the notice paper. Only recently 3 senior Ministers have had fairly lengthy discussions in relation to it, and the Prime Minister has indicated that the matter will be discussed at a meeting of the joint Government Parties before a final policy decision is made. Also, 1 am certain that the questions arising out of the report of the Senate Select Committee on Off-shore Petroleum Resources should be considered by the Government before any final decision is made in this matter. In view of the present circumstances, and despite the fact that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and his colleague the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) undoubtedly have raised this matter today with the best of possible motives, 1 feel that the Government cannot accept this motion for the suspension of Standing Orders.

Question put:

That the motion (Mr Whitlam’?) be agreed to.

The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. Sir William Aston)

AYES: 51

NOES: 60

Majority .. ..9



Question so resolved in the negative.

page 4149


Criminal Code for Commonwealth Territories

Australian Capital Territory

– I move:

The problem implicit in any motion of this sort is not to breach the rule that requires an honourable member to confine himself to being relevant as to why standing orders should be suspended. I shall simply try to comply with that rule and will not say or adduce any arguments as to why the provisions of that draft criminal code should be referred to a select committee of this House. However I say that it is necessary to give a short resume of what this Bill is all about and the history of it so as to persuade honourable members that it is important that this be done at this stage 3 days from the end of this sessional period.

The proposed draft code has its origin in negotiations that were entered into in 1964 between the then Attorney-General, Sir Garfield Barwick, and the executive commit’ee of the Law Council of Australia. That private body of eminent lawyers worked on the code through subcommittees, and also through conferences which were largely conducted in secret. Eventually they produced a booklet with which some honourable members may be familiar, although I suspect that many honourable members are not yet familiar .with it. The booklet is the ‘Draft Criminal Code for the Australian Territories’ and it was tabled in this House in May 1969 by the then Attorney-General who is now the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen). The significance of the publication is this: If, in substance what is contained in the booklet ever becomes the criminal code for the Commonwealth Territories, it will replace all existing criminal laws. It will replace our common law of crime and laws of that sort. This is the first thing of significance about the code.

This is because the proposed code will be all embracing. It will apply in the Australian Capital Territory which has approximately 150,000 people; it will presumably apply to the Northern Territory which has approximately 70,000 people of whom 20,000 are Aboriginals who have a different way of life from our own. It will also presumably apply to the Territory of Papua New Guinea whose people again have a different culture and different problems. I remind the House that 2i million people live in that Territory. The code will apply to the residents of Christmas Island, who number 3,500. In addition it will apply to various other islands and lands which make up Commonwealth Territories.

Another thing that has to be said is this: To understand why the matter should be considered at this stage and to appreciate properly what is involved one has to understand what are the criminal laws of the various Territories at this time. The Australian Capital Territory, for example, draws its criminal law almost entirely from New South Wales, or the New South Wales criminal law as it was in 1911. The Northern Territory draws its criminal law from South Australian criminal law and to that extent its law is different from what exists in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory. The Territory of Papua New Guinea draws its criminal law in a different way from the criminal code of Queensland. So it is different again. My researches have not been able to reveal from where Christmas Island, Antarctica or Cocos Island draw their criminal law. However, I would presume that Norfolk Island has the criminal law of New South Wales.

What does the code contain? It deals as one would expect the code to deal with the law of theft, violent crimes, the law of property, laws against morality, laws with respect to public order, laws dealing with dignity of this Parliament and all manner of criminal laws of that kind. One of the most important areas of the code concerns itself with the technical areas of criminal law. They have nothing to do with the controversial subjects of abortion, homosexuality and attempted suicide; and what we call the subjects of moral law that so often spring to everybody’s mind when one talks about law reform these days. This code goes beyond all of those things. They are an important part of it, but they are a small part. The greater part of the proposed code deals with the traditional areas of the law such as theft, property, violence, the protection of human life and things of that sort. In doing that the code attempts to deal with the all important mental element in crime.

The procedures of this House with its so called ‘gag’ and ‘guillotine’ procedures, the time limits imposed on members and the tendency for honourable members to vote almost invariably on party lines on many issues make it impossible to debate a code as extensive as this, a code that has something like 226 sections in it. That is at the moment without any provision for punishment or penalties at all. It runs to something like 120 pages in booklet form. Honourable members must realise that it will be quite impossible to consider such code in this House by the procedures under which we operate. I come back to the mental element in crime. Our common law developed over hundreds and hundreds of years and it projected and reflected the Christian ethic that people should not be punished for things that they were not aware of doing or things that they did not intend to do or for things of which they had no knowledge or where there was a mistake. This code, if it is enacted, will make radical departures from that principle. I refer here to what is called in the code a ‘culpable mental state’. It states that a whole range of crimes thai carry punishments for less than 12 months will not require any mental element for the crime to exist. That is a very radical change in the law. It may be good and it may be bad; I do not wish to canvass it at the moment although I have strong doubts about it. The code tinkers and fiddles with the law of attempted suicide; it tinkers and fiddles with the law of theft; and it tinkers and fiddles with all sorts of other serious branches of the law.

There is great uncertainty as to what the Government intends to do about the code. I would like to illustrate that statement in this way. When the then Attorney-General introduced the proposed code back in May 1969 he made a speech in which he d»ew attention to the fact. that the code had been prepared by eminent men. That, of course, is not enough. Eminent men outside this House do not make our laws. Laws for Commonwealth Territories, as indeed laws for the whole country, are made here. It is not enough to simply abdicate responsibility and say: ‘Oh, something prepared by someone else outside this House was made by an eminent man; we will accept it automatically’. That is what the AttorneyGeneral has suggested should be done when he was questioned about the problem in the Senate on 10th November this year. The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Murphy) has questioned the Attorney-General about the possibility of having the proposed criminal code referred to a committee. The Attorney-General seemed to reply: ‘No’. To put this matter fully, the Attorney-General, in the course of his reply, said:

It is my present intention that next year there shall be introduced a criminal code for the Australian Capita) Territory.

The Attorney-General has since been reported in the Press as having said: ‘Early next year’. The newspapers commented on this and as far as I am aware the AttorneyGeneral has ever denied the suggestion that the date will be early next year.

Three or 4 weeks ago in reply to a question on notice that I put to the AttorneyGeneral, he gave an answer to the effect that it was too late to refer the proposed code to the Law Reform Commission of the Australian Capital Territory because the drafting of the proposed Bill had reached such an advanced stage of development that no good, in effect, could come from referring the ma’ter to a committee and it was too late to consider such a thing. This answer confirms the suspicion that the Government is going to introduce the Bill fairly soon. If one stops there and repeats that it is not a suitable piece of legislation to be debated in this House on party lines, one would also advance the argument that the abortion issue alone should not be a party issue; the homosexuality issue is probably not a party issue; the mental element in all crimes - over and above regulatory crimes - is probably not a party issue; the tinkering and fiddling with the law of theft and the tinkering and fiddling with (he law of assault and the tinkering and fiddling with the defence of insanity which will probably rule out the defence of what lawyers call non insane automatism should not be a party matter. The danger is that these makers will be presented and there will be no opportunity for honourable members lo consider the provisions adequately or vote on non-party lines. There will be no opportunity here. Experience proves that surely it is a ma’ter for reference to a select committee. Oddly enough, last night the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) on ‘Monday Conference’ was asked questions about the code and he gave a most remarkable answer. I will read it to the House from the transcript of the programme. He was asked initially about the question of abortion which then led on to this other question. He had said that he had a personal view about abortion but that he would not express it. Then he was asked this question:

Does that mean that the proposed criminal code for foe Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory which was tabled in the Parliament in 1969 and which was going to be introduced next year won’t come in?

The questioner was interrupted by the Prime Minister who offered this additional answer:

I do not know about this proposal relating to the Australian Capital Territory. 1 have not hea’rd about it before and 1 can’t give you an answer to that question.

Today the Prime Minister replied to my question without notice about what he had said on ‘Monday Conference’ and suggested that the matter was confined simply and strictly to the abortion issue. It is perfectly clear from what he said on Monday Conference’ that it was not so confined. The question was quite explicit. It was:

Does that mean that the proposed criminal code for the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory that was tabled :n the Parliament in 1969 and which was going to be introduced next year won’t come in?

And the Prime Minister said he did not know anything about it. So we have now 2 odd statements from the Prime Minister, one that there was no prospect of introducing a Bill on abortion this year - that presumably means all next year - and the other that he had no knowledge of a proposed draft criminal code for the Commonwealth territories. Today he spoke about the question of abortion and indicated that as far as he was concerned there was no legislation to be introduced on that topic. Obviously he has not read the draft criminal code; this is not surprising because he has other duties to perform. But it has a provision on abortion in it, and if it is enacted in anything like the form it is in now it will have to repeal existing laws and enact other laws which are different. If that is not an enactment of a law relating to abortion I do not know what is. When we consider this matter again we see a strange series of contradictory statements. As I have said, in answer to a question I asked him, the AttorneyGeneral said that the Bill was in such an advanced state of drafting that it could not go to the Law Reform Commission of the Australian Capital Territory; it was too late for that. It was reported in the Press, and the Attorney-General has not denied it, that it would be introduced early next year. He says in the Senate that it will be introduced next year. Now we have the Prime Minister saying that there is no prospect of one part of the proposed code, which would have to be a part of it, being introduced in this Parliament, and also saying: ‘Anyway, I don’t know anything at all about it’.

Dr Klugman:

– He is right on that.


– He is probably right there. I speak only for the Australian Capital Territory in which there is a lot of feeling about this issue. Professional lawyers in the Territory are concerned to know what sort of law is to replace the archaic criminal law we have inherited from New South Wales. The academic community in Canberra is concerned about it. Professor Geoffrey Sawer. perhaps the best known writer on legal subjects in Australia, has said that the proposed Bill is a shambles and should be scrapped and that the authorities should start completely again. Dr O’Connor, also of the Australian National University has been very strong in his criticism of it. When one looks at the size of the problem and considers the magnitude of the ta’k that will be presented to the Senate and this House - in what order one does not know - one can see how farcical any debate will be if it takes place in the usual way. There must be a select committee appointed to consider it. There is a background of concern that exists and has been expressed, by the editorial of such a responsible newspaper as the Canberra ‘Times’ on 13th November 1971. lt concluded by saying that the whole thing was a source of grave disquiet.

Surely now is the opportunity, before Parliament rises, to set up a committee of members of this House who are interested in this subject. The Committee could do its work during the recess - not all of it; let us give them a break for Christmas. The Parliament will not resume before 22nd February. lt must be clear that one does not know because of the uncertainty, and it is the uncertainty which gives rise to the disquiet, when the Bill will bc introduced. There would be a great opportunity for a committee, which could be established before we rise, to do good work. There is the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Hughes), for example, who has talents in this area- from what he has indicated to us he might not be a member of the Parliament when the Bill is finally disposed of - and these talents should be used and his thoughts obtained during the recess and before he leaves us. There are also members such as the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen), the honourable member for Denison (Dr Solomon), the honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr Brown), the honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Hamer) and the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) on the other side of the House. I will not mention honourable members on this side of the House who I know are very concerned about the legislation and who believe it should have a thorough investigation by a select committee. It is a wonderful opportunity for a select committee to be appointed so that it can start its work during the recess. All honourable members would be better prepared and would at least have some indication of what the Bill would be like when it was introduced. There could then be a proper debate on it instead of one, as I think honourable members feel sometimes takes place, with a standard which is not as high as it should be.

I can think of some examples of secrecy which have occurred in my short experience. For instance, there was a debate on the ordinance changing the land tenure system in the Australian Capital Territory. Deliberate steps were taken to prevent members of Parliament knowing anything about the proposed changes by refusing to invite them to conferences with the Department of the Interior. This was done and a debate took place at a low standard with honourable members in a state of semi-ignorance. Knowledge is power, but if the knowledge is all on the Government side because of the departmental advisers whom the Government has available to it, the Government starts off one up in any sort of debate. This is wrong. Honourable members on both sides of the House should have an opportunity to obtain information. In this instance the information can come only from a select committee which could be addressed by criminologists, penologists, sociologists and other experts, such as lawyers. The committee need not be solely comprised of lawyers.

There is one point which J will touch on before I sit down. When the Bill comes in it will have to deal with punishment. There can be nothing more important than a law which imposes a new set of punishments. Now, one of the problems in the Commonwealth Territories is that the punishments are imposed by judges who sit in the Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory and Papua New Guinea but administered by someone else. The Australian Capital Territory has no gaol and I do not know that it wants one, but it follows that if a judge here sentences someone to imprisonment after having regard to his antecedents and after sociological and psychological evidence has been given and makes recommendations, that person goes into a prison system over which that judge has no control and in which the judge’s directions can be ignored or even laughed at. It should not be. There should be a general philosophy underlying any scheme relating to a criminal offence. When criminal codes are introduced in the United States of America they are linked up with the penal system and the authorities stress the importance of linking them up with a philosophy on punishment and with a penal system which is responsible to the court where the punishment is imposed. We have not got to that stage in this country; we are in a different situation. How can this House debate the question of what punishment is appropriate to particular crimes in the Australian Capital Territory when honourable members will not know how the punishment will be administered under the New South Wales penal system? That is a foreign system to the Australian Capital Territory - as is South Australia’s system to the Northern Territory. We need expert evidence of what happens in those penal systems, expert evidence that can be given only before a select committee so that honourable members can be informed of it. Honourable members who are not members of the committee could go along to its meetings and listen to the evidence, obtain a copy of the transcript of evidence and the report, study them and ask questions. They can then come into this House and know what they are talking about.


– Is the motion seconded?


– I second the motion moved by the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr Enderby). He has made a number of vital points in relation to the proposition put to this House and I suggest that his motion deserves support. Honourable members will be called upon to make what are extremely profound and serious decisions in the next 6 or 7 months in relation to a new criminal code for the Australian Capital Territory. Those decisions will pretty much determine what sort of penalties will be imposed on people and what sort of rights people will have in the legal system which will operate in the Australian Capital Territory. I would suggest that the debating chamber technique which is implicit in our parliamentary procedure is totally unsuitable for this sort of decision making.

I am persuaded at the present time of the great virtues of the committee system, having just completed reading the report of the Senate Select Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse, albeit somewhat late, but better late than never. Here we have a very forward looking, very well informed and, one would say, a very liberal approach to this serious and growing problem in most Western societies. It is a report which is pretty much endorsed by all members of that Committee. That is, there was no party split on most of the decisions which were brought into the report. Overwhelmingly the members of the Senate, drawn from all paries there, supported the propositions which were written into the report. Currently I am serving as a member of the House of Representatives Select Committee on Pharmaceutical Benefits. In that capacity it is a very interesting experience to be drawn right into the cockpit of this sort of system and to find that quite frequently there will be a split of opinions being expressed or being implied in the way in which questioning is directed to a witness by Committee members, a split which shows that the division is not on party lines but runs across party lines. Thus we have not infrequently a situation where some Liberal members and some Labor members will be developing a theme and certain other Liberal, Country Party or Labor members will be taking a position which is contrary or modified in some way to that view being expressed.

The great virtue of the committee system, as I see it, is that we put together a number of men of goodwill and good intent - and I believe that is what we all are in this place. We want to do the best we can for the community which has us here representing it and seeking to make laws for it. When we put these men of goodwill and good intent together in this sort of situation where they are presented in a different milieu altogether with facts from highly qualified witnesses drawn from the length and breadth of Australia and from all sections of society in Australia which have people who wish to be represented, we find that members sit down; reflect, digest and seek to extract the hard, essential and valuable essence of the issues with which they are dealing. That is the great virtue of the committee system as I see it. It is not only the case with the Committee on which 1 am currently serving or the Committee on Drug Trafficking and Drug Abuse to which I referred. This has been a general experience of the committee system in Parliament.

What is the relevance of the committee system to this case? 1 get back to the point I was making a few seconds ago. I just do not believe that this parliamentary debating chamber is the most effective system to deliberate, for instance, on whether we should be imposing 10 years or 3 years imprisonment for a particular offence or whether we should include capital punishment in the statute proposals which will come in Bill form before this House. Yet I expect that this is what we will be asked to do. At the present time there are something like 220 sections in the proposed criminal code but the drafters of that proposed criminal code have not included proposed penalties for offences. It could well be that before we get the final criminal code the Government, through the AttorneyGeneral’s Department and with the imprimatur of the Ministry, will bring in a Bill for a criminal code which will include proposed penalties. That in itself to me is a deficiency in this approach because this will encourage a number of members not to think as they ought to think about the penalising aspect of the Bill which will be brought into the House. One can think of so many instances of what seem to be anomalies in the way in which penalties are imposed in courts and in the way in which maximum penalties are struck in various forms of legislation. I get back to this point: We need a serious debate on whether 10 years, 5 years or 3 years is the appropriate sentence for a particular offence. Yet if we have a Bill brought into the House with penalties already specified this will encourage a diminution in the amount of interest and debate which will take place on that aspect.

The honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory raised another matter, and a very important one - the inclusion or the exclusion of certain offences in that Bill. There is a great deal of debate in our community today as to the extent to which those offences which are loosely defined as ones of private morality - ones where a person or persons together do acts voluntarily which cause no harm to anyone but themselves - should be included as criminal offences or whether in the words of Prime Minister Trudcau of Canada the law courts have a place in the bedrooms of private individuals. My personal view is that they have not. For morality offences such as homosexuality, prostitution and abortion I would be one who supports complete law reform. I do not believe they ought to be in penal Acts of this country or indeed of any country advanced in its thinking, but that is a personal view. These things are open to great debate. When 1 say these are my views, they are views which are not inflexibly dogmatic. They would be views which are open to persuasion towards change if powerful enough evidence were presented to me to encourage me to change these views.

I will give an example of how views can change. I was for several years a member of the police force in Queensland and I served in the Criminal Investigation Branch for some time. For a long time in my service I was far from favourably disposed towards homosexuals. A change in my life came when the Church of England and subsequently the Roman Catholic Church, in both cases in Great Britain, supported law reform in regard to these people. It occurred to me that erudite men such as the people who prepared submissions to the Wolfenden Committee with respect to those cases I mentioned and such eminent, respected and responsible men as these church leaders would scarcely be the people who would easily make this, to me, radical sort of decision. Accordingly I set about finding out why these people would change or why these people would support this profound sort of law change. As a result of reading fairly extensively and inquiring into this matter I changed my concepts completely. Quite frankly, it was not an easy decision in the early part because one does have ingrained prejudices about this matter. On this subject these prejudices are ingrained into us from infancy. But I found as a result of my reading and my discussion that I had wrong premises upon which I was basing my attitude towards this subject, and I changed my views.

I have seen other people who have been fairly dogmatic change their views in the past few years. I know of one man whom I respect greatly who within the last few months, as a result of a discussion and one might say a confrontation on this matter, set about reading up on the subject. He has moved from being quite dogmatic to having an open mind. Where he will move to next will depend on the sort of evidence that accumulates before him. But this is the sort of thing I mean. We will not draw this evidence out here in the debating chamber, and least of all when most likely we will be divided on party lines. In any event, if we have a free vote, there will still be this tendency to be infected, if I may use that word in a very gentle sense, with certain prejudices which might be inimical to the development of the best decisions on law reform when we debate this Bill. Accordingly it seems to me that the best way to do this, as I mentioned earlier, is to set up a committee of inquiry from this House. We have ample evidence already from the achievements of pervious committees that the Committees of this House and of the Senate are capable of bringing out reports of very high standard with a comprehensive overview of the sort of matter which has given the House or the Senate concern and which has led accordingly to the House or the Senate referring the matter to the select committee.

Now I come to the matter of the proposed select committee. Law to me is more than a right for lawyers. Law concerns people and it concerns their problems in a social environment. With respect to the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory and other lawyers in this place I sometimes think that we make a mistake by allowing lawyers exclusively to deal with law. I really think there is need for a complete recasting of the way in which we look at the law and the penalising aspects of it We are still hung up on the old, pre-Christian ethic of ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’. In many cases we would be better served by setting up a legal institution to find out why people get into trouble and why they repeatedly get into trouble.

Without detailing instances, I know from my experience in the police force that there are some unfortunates in society - young kids who do not get a decent break in life from a very early stage, who get into trouble with the cops and who continue to get into trouble with the cops. The police do not understand their problem and neither do the parents or the young people involved. The problem is often one of society, lack of opportunity or some event which has occurred in the person’s life which sets him back and perhaps develops a sense of resentfulness, maybe towards someone at home, because of the way he has been treated there. I can think of many cases in which this has happened. The resentfulness may find its outlet in acts against society. These are pretty sad cases. They are not the sorts of things that policemen or lawyers understand too well unless they are trained in the social sciences. This is why I see great virtue in the committee system.

We could bring in a multi-disciplinary approach to feed information into a committee of inquiry and seek to give it the best terms of reference or the best framework for the development of a criminal code for the Australian Capital Territory. Evidence could be given by social scientists - sociologists, social workers and perhaps even social anthropologists - as well as by lawyers, medical people and members of the community. A wide range of people could be brought in. I hope that we can have a completely new and radical approach to what the law, law enforcement and the processes of law enforcement are ali about. Canberra and the Territories of the Commonwealth could be used as a sort of laboratory. Perhaps there are totally different ways of operating the processes of the law in the community. Maybe there is a completely new concept of what the courts ought to believe. 1 have some ideas about this myself.

I think that we should get away from the mechanical, legalistic approach which is at present adopted. Everybody is separate, individual and special and has some essential features which make him different from any other individual and which therefore call for special attention for that person. The things I have in mind would cost a lot more money. Frankly, I would be prepared to pay a lot more in taxes to see the things that I believe this society needs. Unless we are prepared to experiment, to be adventurous and to move into these new areas this upsurge, this exponentially climbing rate of crime which we see in our society is going to worsen. 1 think it is significant that the worst areas are where people are concentrated the most and deprived the most. Perhaps in the final result this calls for a completely new casting of the values which our society upholds. 1 support the motion that has been moved by the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory.

Mr Lionel Bowen:

– I wish to support the motion moved by the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr Enderby) in the sense in which he moved it. There has been an untoward delay in this matter, lt provides an opportunity for everybody, not the least the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon), to express a personal view on the basis that this legislation may or may not relax the laws relating to abortion. The whole problem seems to be that the Prime Minister is worried about having to have a vote in the House on the matter because he might have lo express his own personal view. My personal view is different from that of my colleagues who have spoken in this debate. I think that the present law is adequate. At the same time, 1 think that section 40 of the criminal code has its defects. That is not the issue.

The question is, as my colleague, the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory, has said: Why are we not looking at this matter as an intelligent

Parliament? We have 125 members here. We will be dealing with this legislation, when it comes in, by way of ambush. Someone will present it in the dead of night and ram it through on the basis that every intelligent person except us has had a look at it. The proposed criminal code has been under consideration since 1964 and it has been considered by committees from various States. The result is that, because in the main the committees have come from Queensland or Tasmania, their point of view is now coming forward in the draft code. There has been a great deal of criticism of the fact that a national Parliament is introducing what might be termed a model criminal code which is based on State experience. This leads to a piecemeal draft code which depends upon how a particular committee dealt with a particular matter.

What are we frightened of in this Parliament that we cannot have members of the legal profession and anybody else who is interested having a look at this matter as an intelligent group on a select committee? The real problem is that we cannot point out the omissions in the legislation other than in the course of debate. It is far too late, when dealing with a second reading speech, for the Government to admit to its omissions. As far as I can see, there is no provision in the legislation for compensation for injuries or for costs for a person who is acquitted of a charge. These have been ignored. An important issue is juvenile delinquency, which I think is very important. In this code there is the suggestion of criminal intent at the age of 10. My colleague, the honourable member lor Oxley (Mr Hayden) is right when be says that the whole issue is one of deterrent and prevention. We must have a complete and proper system of penology or corrective treatment. This is not contained in the code, nor has anybody had a look at it.

The people who have drafted the code probably have not had the basic experience of seeing the disasters in human life and think that imprisonment acts as a deterrent. In my submission, it does not. Prisons are the wrong sort of institutions. They offer the wrong sort of guidance and equipment, with the result that crime is increasing. No research has been conducted into this problem. The Opposition is trying to bring in a proper criminal code which would ensure that when an offender is brought under notice there is the opportunity to recommend an intelligent course of treatment which could be devised for taking into account his defects. This is not done anywhere in Australia at the moment. It is far too late to try to do this in prison. It must be done when the offender first comes under notice.

I would like to hammer home this theme: Here is a chance for this national Parliament, working as a committee, to suggest to the Government that this type of corrective procedure should be introduced. We should have massive education facilities and corrective institutions of a type that has not yet been seen. We will then get to the ideal situation. We will not have as many criminals and we will not have as much necessity for a code such as this. I applaud my colleague for saying what he thinks should be done immediately. We have plenty of time to deal with this matter. I think that this is one of the few occasions on which the Parliament could debate a matter on non-Party lines.


– I do not want to debate the pros or cons of this matter but I want to make just one point. I believe that all honourable members feel frustration at the futility of debate in this House. Here is a case of something coming up which clearly should not be considered from a Party political point of view. It relates to one’s innermost philosophy and it will almost certainly cross Party lines. We must make an intelligent decision and an intelligent appraisal of our attitudes to the situation, not just for the sake of ourselves but for the sake of future generations. That is what it amounts to. Once such legislation is enacted it is exceedingly difficult to repair it if it is wrong.

In this situation surely we have a case for acting on the sentiment that has arisen on both sides of the House - which the other House has acted upon - in appointing committees to look into these matters. Surely over the break which will occur between now and when the Parliament resumes in February, we could appoint a committee to look into the details, to seek expert advice and to consider carefully our approach to this problem. I do not want to say any more than that we should grasp the opportunity to teach ourselves a lesson and show ourselves bow we can be far more intelligent in our appraisal of prospective legislation. I urge the House to consider seriously the proposition and appoint a committee.


– I have been inspired to comment on this matter because of the submissions made by members of the Australian Labor Party, particularly that of the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden). The Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) has been kind enough to give me a brief period to speak so I will endeavour to curtail my remarks. I probably could say some things of interest to the House, but in my desire to oblige the Minister I will not do so. The honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr Enderby) is most concerned about the reform of the criminal code and this is to his great credit. If Australian society and members of Parliament are not alerted to the problems of crime in our country today they never will be in the future because I think we must all accept the fact that crime is at an all time high. I do not think the figures relating to unsolved crime have grown to the extent that newspapers are saying they have. By that I mean that they have always been high and that the police departments of the different States have hidden the true figures. An incoming commissioner of police has inherited and continued a system whereby the true crime figures have not been disclosed. Honourable members may recall that 18 months or 2 years after I came to this Parliament I disclosed that the true crime figures in New South Wales were not being reported to the Government. That statement was frowned upon and I was criticised by some of the Labor members in the State Parliament for saying this. But time has proved that my statement was correct.

On the questions of abortion and homosexuality, I believe that if a gallup poll was taken - one may have been taken already - we would find that the overwhelming majority of Australians wants reform in these fields. Like the honourable member for Oxley, before I came to the Parliament homosexuality to me was something repugnant and nauseating. But having learned and read considerably about this subject since I have been here, I appreciate now that one of the foulest crimes that can be committed - one that is so prevalent in our society in regard to homosexuality and abortion - is blackmail. This was prevalent in our mother country, Great Britain, particularly in relation to homosexuality, as was proved by the Wolfenden report. It was found in Great Britain that unfortunates who had this weakness or frailty in their character- I say the same problem exists here - had been blackmailed for 20 or 30 years. One has to appreciate, I repeat, that the blackmailer is the most offensive type of person in the community. We know that too often the offence of blackmail–


– Order! Perhaps it is partly my fault in the sense that when an honourable member moves a motion in the House the Chair tries to be kind and to allow him a little latitude in mentioning subject that are outside the actual motion that he has moved. He is followed by the seconder who goes on to do exactly the same thing. Then the Chair finds itself in a difficulty in that the debate - which, I point out, in this instance relates strictly to the suspension of the Standing Orders to enable a motion to be moved relating to the appointment of a select committee - develops into a debate on the subject matter of the motion. So I ask the honourable member for Hunter to limit his remarks to the actual motion for the suspension of Standing Orders that is before the House.


– Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. When the axe fell on me I was, I thought, following a line similar to that taken by the honourable member for Oxley. As you have explained, you did allow previous speakers to widen the scope of their remarks, but I realise that you must bring me back to the motion before the House. I suppose there will be another opportunity for me to relate to the House some experiences that I had in 22 years of investigating serious crime. However, I appreciate that the matter before the House relates to the suspension of the Standing Orders to permit a motion to be moved for the setting up of a select committee to investigate and report upon the proposed draft criminal code for the Commonwealth Territories. I agree entirely with the submissions made by the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory that such a committee should be set up with the object of introducing the reforms so urgently needed in connection with matters of crime that affect our society in the Australian Capital Territory and the other Territories of the Commonwealth. Let us hope that when the report of such a committee ultimately eventuates we will beable to give a lead to the States in modernising criminal codes throughout the Commonwealth. That would be of great benefit to society in general. I support the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory in his attempt to have a select committee appointed.

Minister for National Development · Darling Downs · LP

-I appreciate the sentiments that have been expressed by the members of the Opposition who have spoken on this matter. Unfortunately, it is one of the problems in relation to procedure that it has to come forward in this way. The problem is that the suspension of Standing Orders means takingthe business of the House out of the hands of the Government. As honourable members know we have a big business list to complete today and it is essential to get on to that as quickly as possible. I suggest to the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr Enderby) in relation to his proposal that a select committee be appointed to report on the proposed draft criminal code for the Commonwealth Territories, that perhaps the best procedure to follow in this case would be to write to the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) and put this proposed forward. Although the AttorneyGeneral is in another place it is within his direct responsibility. It could be suggested that he put it to the Government for consideration because I know that members on boih sides of the House and in the other place have a very deep interest in this matter as it concerns not only the Australian Capital Territory but also the Commonwealth Territories generally. So perhaps I could leave that as a suggestion.

Mr Hayden:

– Perhaps we could have an undertaking that the Bill would not be brought into the House, firstly, before the Attorney-General had considered and replied to the honourable member’s letter and, secondly, before sufficient time had elapsed to allow us to try to bring it up again if the proposal was rejected.


-I am afraid I cannot give assurances in relation to this. Perhaps the honourable member could arrange it on the basis that a copy of the letter sent to the Attorney-General be sent to me.I will keep this in mind to see whether what be suggests can be arranged because the basis of this motion is that honourable members should have as much knowledge as possible on the subject before it is actually debated. Of course, it could be some time before it comes before the House, but if the honourable member writes to the Attorney-General on that basis and lets me have a copy of the letter I will give an assurance thatI will consider this matter when the legislation is coming forward. In view of the points the honourable member has made. I suggest that to save time there be no division on this matter because this would take away further time for consideration of the business which is now fairly urgent.

Australian Capital Territory

-I ask for leave to say a few words in reply.


– As the honourable member proposed the motion he can reply and close the debate.


– I am indebted to you. Mr Deputy Speaker. I accept - I am speaking for myself, of course - but it is clear that the remarks of the Leader of the House (Mr Swartz) show considerable sympathy in respect of the matter and I know that at least some of his colleagues certainly have considerable sympathy with the subject matter of the motion that the whole problem go to a select committee.It is my personal view that that is the desirable course to follow.

Question resolved in the negative.

page 4159


Assent to the following Bills reported:

Diesel Fuel Tax Bill (No. I) 1971.

Diesel Fuel Tax Bill (No. 2) 1971.

Customs Tariff Bill (No. 2) 1971.

Excise Tariff Bill 1971.

Customs Tariff Bill (No. 3) 1971.

Export Incentive Grants Bill 1971.

States Grants (Housing) Bill 1971.

Homes Savings Grant Bill 1971.

page 4160


Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts · Casey · LP

– Pursuant to section 28 of the Australian Film Development Corporation Act 1970, I present the first annual report of the Australian Film Development Corporation for the year ended 30th June 1971., together with financial statements and the AuditorGeneral’s report on those statements.

page 4160


Ministerial Statement

Mr N H Bowen:
Minister for Foreign Affairs · PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– by leave- The Australian Government deeply regrets that events in the Indian sub-continent have led to full-scale warfare between India and Pakistan. Developments during the past few days have increased the Government’s concern. The latest reports indicte an” intensification of actual fighting, with large-scale engagements between Indian and Pakistani forces in both the eastern and western sectors. Formal relations between India and Pakistan have deteriorated further as a result of India’s recognition of Bangla Desh as an independent state and Pakistan’s subsequent action in breaking off diplomatic relations with India. In New York, efforts by the Security Council to reach an agreed conclusion have so far been unsuccessful. The immediate prospect, therefore, is for the continuation and further intensification of the present fighting.

Since the beginning of the crisis in March this year, the Australian Government has made repeated efforts to try to influence the leaders of Pakistan and India in the direction of reaching a political settlement and to reduce tension. To this end, the Prime Minister has sent a number of messages to both the President of Pakistan and the Prime Minister of India. He was also able to discuss the situation personally with Mrs Gandhi during his visit to Washington. Throughout this period we have been in close consultation with other interested governments. We regret that our efforts have been unsuccessful but we will continue to do what we can. Our view is that the first requirement is an agreed ceasefire with a disengagement and withdrawal of opposing forces. This must be accom panied by a political settlement directed towards removing the underlying causes. of the conflict.

Meanwhile, Australia’s position, as a friend df both Pakistan and India, will continue to be that of a neutral. In accordance with established policy, we have not been supplying arms or warlike stores to either country. This will continue to be our policy. The continuance of humanitarian and economic aid to both countries will be maintained, although for the time being it will have to be subject to certain practical restrictions, including those imposed by security.

A new element has been introduced into the situation as a result of the recognition yesterday by the Government of India of the Bangla Desh organisation as the Government of an independent state. The present position is that Australia recognises the Government of Pakistan as the legal government of both East and West Pakistan. The question of Australian recognition of a new state of Bangla Desh does not arise at this time. Australia is particularly disappointed that there has so” far been no fruitful outcome from the debates in the Security Council. It has been suggested that an attempt might be made to place the question before a special meeting of the General Assembly of the United Nations. While we recognise the Assembly’s limitations on taking positive action, we shall explore energetically any initiatives that may be made in the United Nations context to achieve some useful result. We remain in close touch with other governments concerned through our diplomatic missions abroad and particularly at this time through our permanent mission to the United Nations in New York.

The Government has throughout the crisis been paying attention to the need to ensure the safety of Australian citizens in India and Pakistan. In East Pakistan, Australian citizens were advised to move out many months ago and most have done so. There are at present about 19 Australians there including the staff of the Office of the Deputy High Commissioner in Dacca. Australian citizens who are still there have remained by choice. In West Pakistan, Australian citizens were warned some days ago to move away from the border areas and were later informed that they would be well advised to consider leaving the country. On Sunday the High Commissioner reported to the Government his view that all Australian citizens in the Karachi area should be evacuated. Arrangements have been made for a Qantas plane to carry out this evacuation. Assurances of safe passage have been negotiated with both India and Pakistan.

Certain arrangements have also been made for the evacuation of the wives and children of Australian staff in Pakistan. All dependants normally stationed in Islamabad have now been evacuated by road to Kabul in Afganistan, with the exception of 2 wives who are to follow shortly. The wives and children of Australianbased staff at the Deputy High Commission in Karachi are to be evacuated by the special Qantas flight, which I have already mentioned. In Dacca, the wife of the Deputy High Commissioner, Mrs Allen, has remained with her husband. All other dependants are in Australia.

In India, where the possible dangers to Australian citizens from involvement in the fighting are much less than in Pakistan, our High Commissioner has advised Australians known to be living near to affected borders to move further inland. Other Australians living in India have been advised to avoid travel to areas which might be affected by military operations. The High Commissioner has also been in touch with tourists who have been temporarily stranded by interruptions to international flights, and has advised them to take travel opportunities to leave India as they offer. It is not considered necessary to evacuate any of our staff, staff dependants or other citizens from India in current circumstances. With both parties engaged in full-scale hostilities, and with the present alignment of forces and opinion in the Security Council, there are formidable obstacles in the way of bringing this conflict, to an end. The Australian Government will nevertheless continue to do all in its power towards bringing about a peaceful and lasting settlement.

Leader of the Opposition · Werriwa

– I seek leave to make a statement on the same subject.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.


– The actions of the Pakistan Army in East Pakistan have created more refugees in 6 months than the escalation of the war in Vietnam caused in 6 years, and possibly as many deaths. Six months of total warfare on the subcontinent could cause as many deaths as World War II caused in 6 years, that is some 30 million. It has taken massive culpability on the part of the world community to allow so massive a human tragedy to become possible. None of us is without blame; our sins vary from the niggardliness of the smaller but wealthy nations including Australia to the tardiness of the great powers. It is too late, however, for recrimination and too soon to apportion blame between the principal parties, Pakistan and India. The immediate objective is, of course, to stop the fighting. But beyond the indescribable sufferings facing millions of people in the subcontinent, it is essential that the great powers, particularly the Soviet Union, the Peoples Republic of China and the United States, do not become further and directly involved.

The catastrophe on the subcontinent heralds fundamental changes in the uneasy power arrangements and accommodations which have maintained some semblance of peace in some of the world’s potential flashpoints. We have become used to taking for granted that if the United States and the Soviet Union were determined to prevent or confine a war, their will would prevail. We now have no such guarantee. Equally significant about the new period and relationships is the fact that the first time China has acted in the Security Council she has aligned herself with the United States and Japan in opposition to the Soviet Union. Nor is it without significance that the 2 old imperial powers, Britain and Prance, abstained on this occasion.

We are entering a period of unparalleled complexity in international relations. Even so it is possible to discern one fundamental factor which provides a key to this struggle and to our region. It is that nationalism is still the most powerful force in the region. In the final analysis nationalism will transcend religion as is happening in East

Pakistan. It transcends ideology, as sooner or later will happen in Vietnam. Communism’s only real success in the third world has occurred when it has been successfully grafted onto nationalism, and the West’s greatest failures have occurred in allowing Communism to assume a monopoly of nationalism.

It will be impossible for the United States of America, the United Nations or, for that matter, Australia to ignore East Pakistan’s national aspirations indefinitely. Pakistan ignored them and tried genocide to silence them. Yahya Khan should not wish to bc remembered beside Genghis. This war is the result. I am not proposing that at this time Australia should recognise Bangla Desh, because Pakistan would choose total extinction before total separation. There is, however, no evading the fact that, whether by war or international settlement, a new state - an independent nation - will be created in East Bengal. The task for the community of nations is to try to see that it comes into being through an internationally guaranteed settlement rather than by prolonged war.

page 4162


Interim Report

La Trobe

- Mr Deputy Speaker, I present an interim report of the Joint Select Committee on Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Legislation to inform the House of the progress of the Committee’s inquiry to date and to set down the present intentions of the Committee regarding its future programme. I seek leave to make a short statement in connection with the report.


– ls leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.


– The interim report I have just presented from the Joint Select Committee on Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Legislation attempts nothing more than to explain why it has not been possible for the Committee to complete its inquiry in time to present its final report to the Parliament during the present sitting. Since the Committee commenced its investigations members of the Committee have been aware that dissatisfaction with the present scheme for providing retirement benefit is widespread and that there is a need for some positive remedial action. It has been our aim to complete the inquiry in time to present a final report during the course of this present year. The Committee actually completed taking evidence on the inquiry in July of this year and has met regularly since that date. We have now reached the stage where most policy issues confronting us have been resolved.

However your Committee has wished to obtain certain financial information before we can confidently make specific recommendations concerning the scheme. For a number of reasons, which will be covered in the Committee’s final report, it has not been possible to obtain such information in the form required. The Committee has now requested information from the Actuary on a different basis which it is hoped will be received early in 1972. Your Committee expects to present its final report early in the next sittings of the Parliament.

Ordered that the report be printed.

page 4162


Second Reading

Debate resumed from 9 September (vide page 1003), on motion by Mr Sinclair:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Minister for Primary Industry · New England · CP

Mr Deputy Speaker, may I have the indulgence of the House to raise a point of procedure on this legislation? Before the debate is resumed on this Bill 1 should like to suggest that it may suit the convenience of the House to have a general debate covering this Bill and the New South Wales Grant (Leeton Cooperative Cannery Limited) Bill 1971 as they are associated measures. Separate questions may, of course, be put on each of the Bills at the conclusion of the debate. I suggest, therefore, that you permit the subject matter of the 2 Bills to be discussed in this debate.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Is it the wish of the House to have a general debate covering the 2 measures? There being no objection, I will allow that course to be followed.


– The principal objective of these 2 Bills is to make financial assistance available, in the first Instance to South Australia and, in the second instance, to New South Wales, for 3 co-operative canneries. The canneries in South Australia are Jon Preserving Cooperative Limited and Riverland Fruit Products Co-operative Limited and in New South Wales it is Leeton Co-operative Cannery Limited. Mr Deputy Speaker, 1 wish to move amendments to the motions for the second reading. What is the procedure? Do I move them together or what?


-Order! The honourable member may move the amendments separately on each Bill.


– 1 see. I will move them when the question is put. It is quite obvious that in the last 12 months or so there has been a serious deterioration in the financial performances and reserves of these 3 canneries. Honourable members will recall that during the closing stages of the last session legislation was introduced, in the middle of the night, to provide Shepparton Preserving Co. Ltd. through the Victorian Government, with assistance of approximately $4.2m by way of interest bearing loan. At that time I questioned the Prime Minister whether similar legislation would be introduced for canneries in South Australia and New South Wales. He indicated that such legislation would be introduced, and these 2 Bills are the result.

In the light of examinations made by competent interdepartmental committees there is no doubt that there has been a serious deterioration in the performances of these 3 canneries. Their debt position is high, their financial reserves have been decreased significantly and it is clear that the canneries have met with some adversity arising principally from the devaluation of sterling which took place, adverse seasonal conditions and the general deteriorating economic condition of the pear and peach industries. All things considered it would seem that there is certainly a need for the injection of funds into the 3 companies in the same way as assistance was provided to the Shepparton Preserving Co. Ltd. The Commonwealth Government and the State governments have met and discussed the situation of the 3 canneries we are now considering and have reached a decision on the amount of assistance that is required. Assistance will be available on a matching basis. Each $1 expended by the States will be matched by the Commonwealth Government. Jon Preserving Co-operative Limited will receive up to $390,000 and Riverland Fruit Products Co-operative Limited up to $900,000. In actual fact the agreed upon assistance from State and Federal authorities will be double those amounts. However, the Opposition is concerned at the difference between these 2 Bills and the previous Bil] because - I could be wrong - it is the first agreement that I have seen between a Commonwealth Government and a State, the terms of which are not set out either in the Bill itself or in a schedule to the Bill which has been agreed to by the Commonwealth and by the State. It worries me that there has been only a bald statement made in the legislation in section 5 which states: (1.) Payment of the amount payable lo the

State under this Act is subject to- such conditions, if any, as the Minister, by instrument in writing, determines. (2.) The conditions that may be determined by the Minister under the last preceding sub-section may include a condition as to repayment of the whole or part of the amount.

As 1 mentioned, 1 cannot recall an occasion when the Commonwealth has made available to a State an amount of money with no strings whatsoever attached to that money under the terms of the legislation. The Victoria Grant (Shepparton Preserving Co. Ltd) Bill followed what I have always believed to be the accepted line when dealing with such CommonwealthState agreements. This has applied to agreements relating to the Ord River, the brigalow, beef roads, irrigation and power projects. There is a dozen of them which set down in writing what the agreement was. First of all approval must be given by the Parliament. That is basic to the schedule of any agreement. Secondly, they set out how the financial assistance was to be used. Thirdly, and most important of all - 1 believe this is the key to it - is that there is nothing in this Bill to say that the Commonwealth wants the money back, what is the rate of interest or whether it is an interest bearing loan. Apparently this is a sort of a gentlemen’s agreement between the Commonwealth and the States. I do not think it is good enough. When the Government is dealing with public moneys there should be an agreement between the Commonwealth and the State setting out precisely the terms of the agreement. This has been the case in every other Bill which has appropriated money to the States for a specific project, as opposed to general appropriation. I ask the Minister: What is the rate of interest? The rate of interest with respect to Shepparton Preserving Co. Ltd was 7 per cent per annum, but what is the rate of interest in this case? Can anybody tell me what it is? lt is not contained in the Bill. The Bill states:

  1. . such conditions, if any, as the Minister, by instrument in writing, determines.

This is a most amazing way to do business on behalf of the Commonwealth and I certainly want some explanation of it because this is a serious matter. There has not been a schedule, setting out the agreement, incorporated in the Bill.

It is no. good saying that the schedule cannot be altered by the Parliament, although in actual fact this may be true. It has always been a moot point as to the legality of a schedule in the eyes of Parliament. Once the Cabinet has agreed to the agreement and it has been accepted by the State, it is then a binding agreement. I understand that the Parliament can throw out the whole Bill and ask that the agreement be redrafted or amended. That is all it can do. It cannot actually amend the agreement. I think that is the usual way it has been argued before. However the point I am making again and again is that there is no agreement. We have no idea what are the terms and conditions and, as Lr as I am concerned, it is simply not good enough.

I should now like to deal with the canneries themselves. Is there justification for the allocation of this money? There has been a marked deterioration in the financial position of all canneries in Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales. This deterioration has been marked only in the last 2 years or, at the most, 3 years, and it has applied particularly to the company with which we have already dealt, the Shepparton Preserving Co. Ltd, in which there has been a drastic deterioration. Over the years there has been a gradual deterioration in the position of

Riverland Fruit Products Co-operative Ltd, Jon Preserving Co-operative Ltd and Leeton Co-operative Cannery Ltd. I should like to read to honourable members financial figures which applied before this point of time. For example, in 1968 the Shepparton Preserving Co. Ltd was in an extremely healthy financial position. Its reserves totalled $9m and it had an unappropriated profit of $750,000. Its issued capital was approximately SI. 5m and its shareholders’ funds amounted to SI 1.3m. So the actual ratio of issued capital to shareholders’ funds was over 6 to 1. There are very few companies which have this type of financial status. This position obtained in 1968. We know that the Shepparton company entered into some rather precarious deals such as the establishment of a cannery in Western Australia, and it lost a lot of money.

Next I should like to examine the sister canneries, Ardmona Fruit Products Cooperative Co. Ltd and Kyabram Preserving Co. Ltd. They, too, were in a very good financial position. I am referring to 1968 to illustrate the rapid deterioration. In that year, Kyabram’s reserves were S5.6m, its unappropriated profits were SI. 3m, its issued capital was $l.lm and its shareholders’ funds were $8m. It was in an extremely viable position. In contrast to that, Riverland and Leeton - 2 of . the 3 companies under discussion today - were in a different situation. In 1968, Riverland had reserves of $405,000. Its unappropriated profits were shown as $431,000 on the debit side, not the credit side. And it had issued capital of $751,000. The total of its shareholders’ funds was only S725.000. This compares with. Slim for Shepparton and S8m for Kyabram and indicates the big difference between Riverland and the other 2 companies. Leeton was in a slightly better position in that its reserves were over $Im. It made a loss in terms of appropriated profits and its shareholders’ funds were $2m. They may perhaps been able to get by.

However, after the 1967-68 season, with the devaluation of sterling, adverse crops and declining markets, the financial position of the canneries declined drastically. It was soon obvious that the companies, particularly Riverland, Leeton and Jon, desperately needed finance. There was also a drastic decline in the reserves of Shepparton due to what one might call a management problem. All sorts of allegations have been made. They have no relevance to this Bill, because we have already dealt with Shepparton Preserving Co. Ltd. However, in all southern canneries there was certainly need for an injection of capital. I am not particularly au fait with Riverland but one factor that certainly accelerated its problems was that, unlike the other principal canneries, Riverland did not have the resources for making its own cans. I assume that that is still the position. The fact that Riverland could not make its own cans always has been recognised as a problem. I do not know whether this has yet been overcome but certainly only a short while ago it did not have this facility and this was recognised as a major problem at Riverland. There can be no question that Riverland has been in urgent need of funds for at least 3 years.

As a matter of fact, when I look at the financial position of the various canneries I am surprised that the Shepparton company received prior treatment, if I may use that term. I assume that the money provided under the Bills we are discussing was made available some time ago; the canneries are not waiting for the money until these Bills receive royal assent. AsI say, I assume that the money has already been available, andI do not know what would happen if we ever successfully opposed the Bill. But the main pointI am making is that I believe the legislation concerning the Jon Preserving Co-operative Ltd, the Riverland Fruit Products Co-operative Ltd and the Leeton Co-operative Cannery Ltd should have been discussed at the same time as we discussed the legislation concerning the Shepparton Preserving Co. Ltd, and not months later.

Of course, the problems that will face the canned fruit industry in the future are very relevant. Just what will the money provided under these Bills do? Will it help the canneries or will it accentuate their debt problems? Certainly, in the short term it will allow for some alleviation of their problems, but the real crux of the matter is this: What is the long term future for the canned fruit industry that is part and parcel of these canneries? This is the burning question. There is a limited demand for canned fruit in Australia. I believe that the scope for increasing the domestic per capita consumption of canned pears and peaches is limited.It is not the sort of industry in which one can make very large increases in the per capita consumption over a period of 12 months. Therefore, it would seem that the industry’s future will be tied very closely to export performance. We know that there are problems concerning the present and future markets for canned fruit. So I would think there will be a very tough battle ahead for some of these canneries, but there will be an even tougher battle for the farmers who supply, in particular, pears and peaches to these canneries, because it would seem that the market for the very high percentage of canned fruit that is exported will be subject to grave risks in the immediate future, and this problem will be accentuated, to a degree, by the problems concerning Britain’s entry into the European Common Market.

There is not much of a positive nature that one can really say about the markets for canned fruit. It is clear that in the past the United Kingdom has been Australia’s main export outlet for canned deciduous fruit, and the amount exported to the United Kingdom has increased quite slowly. But what will happen in the future? I think that if one looks at this question realistically one sees that very serious problems face the exporters of canned deciduous fruit. In recent years more canned peaches have been exported to Europe, particularly to the Federal Republic of Germany, than to the United Kingdom. Also, increased shipments of canned peaches have been sent to Canada. So a conscious attempt has been made to diversify the markets, but this does not alter the fact that the canned fruit industry will face problems. Of course, the industry is well aware of these problems, and that is why it will be of great importance to the growers for us to introduce progressive reconstruction schemes to help those growers who, for a number of reasons, may have to move into some other field. They may have to sell out or to amalgamate their properties or to do whatever may be necessary in the event of a serious decline occurring in the profitability of growing deciduous fruits.

We have to watch very carefully the current monetary crisis because one way or the other it can have a very serious effect on our exports. It is a question of what will happen finally because all of our exports will be affected, but more so those from industries, such as the canned fruit industry, which are in a particularly vulnerable or parlous position at the present time. When I spoke last Thursday on the Dried Vine Fruits Stabilisation Bill I mentioned in passing the problems facing the canned fruit industry in. respect of sugar. The Fruit Industry Sugar Concession Committee plays a very significant part in the fixation of prices of canned fruit because certain concessions are made available to fruit growers who are producing for export or for local consumption. The point I made then - and I will make it again in a little more detail because it is more relevant to this debate - is that in many fruit growing areas there appears to be a misunderstanding about the fixation of sugar prices in Australia. Because I represent a sugar industry I have been taken to task and criticised about sugar prices in Australia. It has been suggested that they are too high. Of course, this is a quite fallacious argument. It begs the question, and in most cases those who argue this way do not really understand the economic facts regarding the fixation of sugar prices in Australia.

The favourite argument put forward by these critics is that the import parity price of sugar is significantly lower than the domestic price, and therefore, sugar producers in Australia are subsidised. Also, these critics support their argument by referring to the import embargo which is placed on sugar. These types of arguments ignore ons fact of life with respect to sugar, and that is that the world price of sugar is not world price in the sense of a world price for wool, wheat, rice or any other major export commodity. The world price of sugar is the residual price, it is called a free market price and it applies only to a very small quantity of sugar, to less than one-ninth or one-tenth of the sugar that is actually traded on the world market, because most sugar sold in the world is the subject of special agreements, such as the United States Act. the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement, the International Sugar Agreement and so on. As the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) well knows, the price for this sugar can fluctuate violently. The world price of sugar, 7 years ago, was over £stg100 and 5 years ago it was £stg 12 Today it is at a good price. The elasticity of demand with respect to price is such that an extra 2 million tons of sugar on the free market can reduce the price by 20 per cent or 25 per cent.

The point I am making is that if there was a true world price for sugar, on average it would be significantly higher than it is today, because all the sugar sold on the world market would pass through the pool. The other fact is that the price of sugar is lower in Australia than in practically every other major country, and this is a significant point. The returns to both cane and sugar producers are lower in Australia than in most countries. All the arguments which critics can advance can be matched by facts. The salient fact is that the sugar industry is regarded throughout the world as being one of the most efficient industries. in the. world technically. It say -that because it is important that people in the’ southern fruit growing areas should understand the way in which the prices of sugar are fixed. The fact that the world price, as it is called, or th: free price of sugar is well below »he domestic price does not mean that the taxpayer or anybody else is subsidising the sugar industry; he is not. In actual fact, if other primary industries, and the secondary- and tertiary industries in Australia were as efficient as the sugar industry we would certainly have a much higher standard of efficiency in Australia. I do not think that anyone who knew the fact would argue with that.

I wish to move an amendment to the motion that the South Australian Grant (Fruit Canneries) Bill 1971 be read a second time:

That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting l4ie following words in p’ace thereof: (he Bill be withdrawn and re-drafted to include a Schedule of the Agreement between the State of South Australia and the Commonwealth with conditions relating to the approval by the Parliament and provisions relating to the amounts payable to the State, the rate of interest, and repayment conditions by the State’.

As I said before, 1 believe there is a responsibility on the part of this Parliament to set down in writing what are ‘he terms and conditions. We are dealing with public money. It is all right to say that it is a loan and I assume that it will be an interest bearing loan. But where is this set out in the Bill; where is it stated in the Bill that this is to be an interest bearing loan? 1 believe it is quite wrong for a government to authorise the payment of money to a State without making in the legislation explicit provisions for approval by Parliament of details relating to repayments and the rate of interest. I could be wrong - and who is to say that I am wrong - but it seems to me that the Minister for Primary Industry could actually set any conditions he likes with respect to interest rates. What is to stop the Minister in respect of this proposed Act from saying that the rate of interest is to be 5 per cent or 10 per cent? Where do we find the relevant section of the Act which governs interest rates? It is just not here. What is to stop the Minister from saying: ‘The financial positions of the 2 canneries in South Australia and the one in New South Wales are deteriorating so fast that we will now make this a grant and not a loan, even though this money is being made available to .the State concerned’. Although such ac ion would arise from a Cabinet decision it seems to me that there is nothing in the Bill to stop the Minister from doing this.

I am not necessarily arguing that this is not a good thing. Such an arrangement may need to be flexible. I have often argued that schedules can be too inflexible and that because of this we can often get ourselves into trouble. I well remember the time when there was a definite need to alter certain things laid down in the Brigalow agreement because they went from one extreme to the other and conditions became impracticable. Some of the conditions that the Treasury wanted to include with respect to the subdivision of Brigalow lands were made without any practical knowledge of the problems. Although these conditions were not altered in the schedule of the Act they were altered by way of note from the Prime Minister to the Premier which authorised certain changes. Therefore, one can argue against the inflexibility of an agreement. But certainly 1 cannot go along with an Act that authorises the payment of Sim without any semblance of terms and conditions within the Act itself.

As I mentioned before, the Shepparton Preserving Co. Ltd agreement embodied all of these provisions and we were able to debate them and pass judgment as to whether the interest rate should have been 7 per cent or less. I cannot talk intelligently about what the rate of interest is in this legislation because I do not know what arrangement has been made between the Commonwealth and the State. I assume that it is the same as that reached in the case of the Shepparton Preserving Co. Ltd but I do not know. In fact, no-one but the Minister and the State and Federal Governments know the arrangement. I think that as members of Parliament we have the right to know what the rate of interest is because the rate can be extremely important, particularly if the grower has to repay it, as he will have to do through levies, I assume, to the canneries.

I raise this matter because I treat it quite seriously. I could be wrong but I think this is the first Bill that I have ever seen in which for a special project there is not some type of agreement, schedule or at least something else embodied in the Bill itself relating to the rate nf interest and the repayment conditions. The Opposition, accepts the need to inject money into these companies. However, it does not accept the way in which the Government has gone about making the money available.


– Is the amendment seconded?

Mr Grassby:

– 1 second the amendment and reserve my right to speak.


– The Bills relate, as has been said by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair), to financial assistance to be granted to the States of South Australia and New South Wales to help canneries or preserving companies in those States to maintain their equilibrium. It is not often that I enter into debates of this nature because they normally concern honourable members who represent primary industry and the rural section of the economy. But I believe that the companies mentioned in the Bills are manufacturing companies. In effect we are not helping the grower with these 2 Bills abut we are helping 3 manufacturing companies.

As 1 see it, there is a pattern emerging which is contrary to the good principles of business as I understand them. On 6th May, as the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) has said, the Minister introduced legislation concerning aid to be given to the Shepparton Preserving Co. Ltd. The amount involved was a loan of $4.2m. This loan was granted to the state Government of Victoria and is to be repaid to the Commonwealth at a given time and at a given interest rate. The Commonwealth Government has been able to find the money by reason of the fact thai it has the Consolidated Revenue Fund which is the taxpayers’ funds. For the life of me, I cannot see as a satisfactory proposition one in respect of which we say to the people of Australia that we are giving this manufacturing company $4. 2m and expect ing it in turn to change its management and do an efficient job. I say this because 1 have a collection of statistics which I will present to those who are listening so that they can make up their own minds whether my thoughts about this problem are reasonable or whether we are doing more for these manufacturing concerns than we ought to be doing.

I say that if we give a fruit preserving company this kind of assistance why not do the same thing for Massey Ferguson, a company which is still interested in rural production and in maintaining a balance in its company. The time must come, if we adopt the principles we are now adopting, when motor manufacturing companies also should be helped from the public purse - from Consolidated Revenue or the taxpayers’ funds. It was obvious from the Minister’s second reading speech concerning the Shepparton Preserving Co. on 6th May that the loan to that company had already been granted. It was obvious that negotiations had taken place between representatives of the Commonwealth Government and the Victorian Government and that all the Parliament did was to validate what had been decided prior to the legislation coming into this Parliament. r believe that the Opposition has a right - I believe that dissenters on this side of the House also have a right - to oppose decisions made by the Government if they feel that those decisions are wrong decisions. Therefore I believe it was quite wrong in principle to bring to the Parliament the Shepparton Preserving Co. legislation as was done on 6th May and to expect Opposition members to rubber stamp that legislation. I would like to see this sort of thing stopped in the future. I believe that honourable members on this side of the House, as I am doing now, should have the opportunity to dissent, to oppose, if you like, this type of legislation if they think that such action is necessary. Without divulging any Party room secrets I want to say that in our Party room, without knowing anything about this legislation, I asked the Minister several questions and I was not satisfied with his answers. Therefore, 1 delved into some of the characteristics of the Shepparton Preserving Co., the Jon Preserving Co-operative Ltd, the Riverland Fruit Products Co-operative Ltd and the Leeton Co-operative Cannery Ltd which is situated in New South Wales. My information, which T have obtained, from the best source available to a member of the Parliament, that is, the research section of the Parliamentary Library, is that 420 growers supply fruit to the Shepparton Preserving Co. A quick calculation shows that $4.2m spread amongst 420 growers represents §9.500 to each grower. Maybe this is a good thing. Maybe the growers needed the money. I am hoping only that they receive their share of it.

I was somewhat disappointed to read in the Melbourne Press last week that 100 growers in the Shepparton district are now bankrupt. Of the 420 growers who supply the Shepparton Preserving Co. 100 are now bankrupt. I am wondering where the’ $4.2m has gone. I know it is the responsi- . bility of the Victorian Government to disburse this money to the Shepparton Preserving Co. but, because we now find that 100 growers in this district are bankrupt, I must ask: Where has this money gone? There is something wrong with the calculations when this sort of thing happens. These problems are problems for the State governments, and it is quite obvious from the Minister’s second reading speech that the South Australian Government on the one hand and the New South Wales Government on the other have presented information to the Commonwealth Government pointing out the problems associated with these preserving companies - that is, the Jon Preserving Co-operative Ltd and the Riverland Fruit Products Co-operative Ltd in South Australia, and the Leeton Cooperative Cannery Ltd in New South

Wales, lt seems that in South Australia the Jon Preserving Co-operative Ltd and the Riverland Fruit Products Co-operative Ltd are getting on the bandwagon which we initiated on 6th May this year. The former is to receive $390,000, half from the Commonwealth Government and half from the State Government, and the latter is to receive $900,000 under the same conditions. Although we refer to them as loans I think in practice they are really grants.

I agree with the honourable member for Dawson that there is nothing in the Bill to indicate repayment of these moneys by these preserving companies either to the State Government or to the Commonwealth Government and there is nothing in the legislation to indicate any interest rates for these loans; in fact, there is nothing mentioned about them being loans. It also seems to me that these loans are to service bad management in the companies, to pay long term debts owed to banks and enterpreneurs by the Jon Preserving Cooperative Ltd and the Riverland Fruit Products Co-operative Ltd, to make certain that they become stable again. There is no mention in the Bill or in the second reading speech of the growers getting the benefit of these amounts provided by way of grant, not loan. There is no claim by the Minister that this will help the growers. He indicates, of course, that it will help’ the preserving companies. All these companies are being assisted at the taxpayers’ expense. In his second reading speech the Minister said - and it was paraphrased by the honourable member for Dawson:

The Bill provides that payment of the amount is subject to such conditions, if any, as the Minister by instrument in writing determines, and the conditions may require repayment of the whole or part of the amount.

That is all that the Minister said in his second reading speech. That is all that this Parliament is ratifying or validating today when it passes this legislation. So it is the Minister who decides - and we do not know who the Minister might be when a decision is made - when repayment is to be made and the terms and conditions of such repayment. That is why I mentioned when I first stood up that there seems to be a deviation from the principle normally adopted on this side of the Parliament. We are handing out this money as largesse without setting terms and conditions. For my part, although State governments may run into these problems with manufacturing co-operatives, it is their problem to look after these co-operatives and not the problem of the Federal Government. I have no doubt that the growers in the areas concerned need some assistance, but there is nothing in these Bills to indicate that we will be giving assistance lo the growers if we pass the Bills. In fact, in the Minister’s second reading speech he said that the areas had been experiencing poor yields over the past 2 years. In other words, growers are in trouble because of poor yields and not because these preserving companies cannot convert their fruit into canned products. I am wondering how many growers are involved.

I mentioned that the Shepparton Preserving Co. Ltd would receive $4.2m and that that company was supplied by 420 growers of whom 100, according to the Melbourne Press last week, are bankrupt, leaving 320 growers in the Shepparton district. Under the legislation which we introduced in May, each of those growers should have received $9,500; that is, $4.2m divided amongst 420 growers gives an average of $9,500 to each grower. Another simple calculation shows that the growers supplying the South Australian companies - Jon Preserving Cooperative Ltd and Riverland Fruit Products Co-operative Ltd - should receive $1,170 from the Commonwealth Government by way of the amount which it is granting to the State Government and an equivalent amount from the State Government. In other words, each grower in South Australia should receive S2.340 in a year when there have been, as was mentioned by the Minister, adverse crop yields. I find it difficult to see how we are helping the rural industry by making these grants to the State governments. If we were helping the growers I would be sympathetic in my consideration of these measures. As the former Minister for Trade and Industry. Sir John McEwen. often told us in our Party room, we do have a social problem in country areas, and I am as sympathetic as I can be to these problems. But I cannot see how these Bills will help the growers.

The Commonwealth Government is to provide $874,000 to Leeton Co-operative Cannery Ltd and the New South Wales Government will supply an equivalent amount, making a total of 51,748,000. On my information, 438 growers supply Leeton Co-operative. A simple calculation shows that if the money went to the growers each grower would receive approximately $4,000. If these measures are designed to help the growers 1 support the Bills, but it should be made quite clear in our minds that the Minister’s second reading speech indicates that this money is meant to assist the canneries, not the growers, lt is to cover long term debts to banks and other people, ft should be made clear also that no repayment conditions are set out in the Bills. Certain conditions have been mentioned in the second reading speech, but it is the prerogative of the Minister to decide what the conditions are to be. Because [here is no mention of terms’ in relation to the grants, presumably no interest will be payable by the growers, by the canneries or by the State governments to the Commonwealth. 1 mention also something that ‘ was mentioned by the honourable member for Dawson. Are we helping Australians by granting these amounts to these canneries through the State governments? 1 find that 40 per cent of the products of these companies is consumed by Australians. In other words we are helping Australians when we make these amounts available. But 60 per cent of the products is exported. In other words, we are helping those countries to which they are exported to maintain a consumer price index lower than our own because we are putting a subsidy, taxpayers funds, into helping to sell these products overseas for less than the cost at which they are produced. The United Kingdom is the largest market for these products. In 1970-71 it took 64.7 per cent of our exports of canned fruit. Canada took 9.7 per cent and the United States of America took 6 per cent. Thai leaves a small balance for other countries. In other words, we are helping the British by putting this money into these canneries and by subsidising canneries generally.

I wrote these notes before Britain decided to join the European Common Market. It has now made the decision that it wants to go into the European Economic Community, and in future it will be associated with European and not with Australian producers. So we should face the fact that the growers in the areas where this assistance will be provided are in for a bad time. We have already heard of comment in the Shepparton district about the fact that 100 growers are now bankrupt. 1 do not want to see growers bankrupt. I want to see them flourising as they ought to flourish. But the facts are there to be seen. There is no subsidy for exports of canned fruit. The honourable member for Dawson, mentioned devaluation compensation, particularly for this industry. Again I think the people who can hear me speaking today should know the figures because they are important. Devaluation compensation for this industry in 1968 was S4,268,000, in 1969 $500,000 and in 197.0 $400,000 - a grand total of devaluation compensation of $5,168,000. As far as I can ascertain, there are probably 2,000 growers involved in this industry that was set up to export overseas.

I say to the people of Australia that this is a lot of money to set aside for devaluation compensation, which fortunately is nearly finished. Over S5m has been set aside for devaluation compensation for approximately 2,000 growers. I have not opposed devaluation compensation, but I think we all should realise that the dairying’ industry has had subscribed to it by the Commonwealth Government millions and millions of dollars as devaluation compensation. For those who arc listening and do not understand what devaluation compensation means it means that the British devalued their currency - in 1967 to the extent, I think, of 14 per cent, and the Australian Government made up the difference between the price that the export commodity would have brought before devaluation and the price it brought due to this 14 per cent reduction in sterling.

I believe we too easily accept that money such as this comes from Consolidated Revenue. I think. Sir, that we all should have a look at Consolidated Revenue, realising that it is not our money, not the Government’s money, not the money of the Parliament but that it belongs to the people of Australia, the people in your electorate and my electorate, the taxi drivers, the accountants and the teachers. I think we all should go home tonight and realise that these people are spending this money through their representatives in the Parliament, and 1 voice my word of protest.


– Briefly, in reply to the honourable member for Balaclava (Mr Whittorn), he was quite right, of course, in seeking details of expenditures in this and every other sphere from the public purse. I was most taken with his thought that the $1.7m that is involved in the advances by the Federal authorities and the State authorities to the Leeton Co-operative Cannery would provide each grower with $4,000 cash. A very quaint thought indeed! I think he has probably been here long enough to know that whenever a grant is made in the name of the growers the grower usually receives the least, not the most. Certainly no money will be going directly to growers in the Leeton district. I will deal with the detail of that a little later on.

I say in reply to the doubts expressed by the honourable member for Balaclava about the usefulness of the canned fruits industry that we are dealing with an industry that is worth $55m, and $30m of this is represented by export income. The Australian canning fruits industry over the last 25 years has earned more money in exports for this country than has the Australian automobile industry over the same period, although the automobile industry is now catching up. Its limited franchise has permitted it to expand a little more than it has in the past. The fact is that the automobile industry also gets protection of 40 per cent or 50 per cent per car internally, so the canning fruits industry is not getting very much from the public purse generally. This industry came into being as a result of an active policy of Government. The Government sponsored and encouraged the industry from the growing right through to these canneries. The Leeton cannery with which I am principally concerned, the largest in New South Wales, began its life as a State cannery. So the industry was born directly under the umbrella of Government sponsorship and Government trade arrangements, particularly with the United Kingdom. In fact the Government was the midwife, if not the father, of the industry. Let us be clear about this. In his second reading speech the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) set out the reasons for the troubles in the industry, but I would summarise them in this way: The Government sponsored the industry and government decisions have brought it into some difficulty. The Minister said:

In the first place, devaluation of sterling left each of the canneries with a considerable loss on sales made forward” without exchange cover.

This is true. Devaluation was a considerable blow. The problem of the canning fruit industry today in a general sense is also that there is a vacuum about its future. It was born under the umbrella of government sponsorship. It is there. Now the big question is: ls the umbrella to be taken down? What is to be the national commitment to this industry to which the nation gave birth? It might be said that obviously these Bills dealing with Shepparton and Leeton have shown that the nation has some commitment to the industry, but I think it should be said also to the honourable member for Balaclava that when it comes actually to examining where the money is to go I have done this in respect of the Leeton Co-operative Cannery at any rate and, very simply, the money is to go to meet the debts incurred under Commonwealth sponsorship, and the State of New South Wales will find no money at all. There will simply be a book entry which will wipe out some of the old debts. All that the State of New South Wales will do will be to forgo a little interest. That is all that will happen with this seemingly very large sum of $1.7m. It will go to adjust in the books some old debts and there will be some saving in interest. I think we should understand that pretty plainly and definitely.

Let us have a look at this industry. The industry is vital and important to towns and cities such as Shepparton, Mildura, Renmark, Griffith and Leeton. It has done a fine job over the years in production, moving up from about 1 million basic cartons in 1926 to Hi million cartons in 1970, so there has been a steady expansion. It might be asked: What of the future? Mr George Mackey, the Deputy Director of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, when addressing the National Canning Convention the other day, said:

Your industry has expanded sales into newer markets in recent times and there are prospects of further increased sales in Asia and in some of the newly developing countries.

Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.


- Mr Mackey went on to say:

Secondly, unlike the wool industry for instance, you do have a market at home for a significant proportion of your output and this market can be expected to gradually increase as population grows.

His summation was as follows:

As 1 see it, the outlook is not one of unrelieved gloom.

I wanted to put that on record tonight. It has been assessed by many in the industry who are charged with selling that there are greater problems for the canning fruits industry than those created by the British entry into Europe. The Leeton Co-operative Cannery has seen that the problems which it faces - these are the problems that all the canneries in Australia face - are greater than those of the British entry into Europe. Mr B. G. Lowe, the General Manager of the Leeton Co-operative Cannery Ltd, is reported as having said:

  1. . a 25 per cent increase in shipping freights lo the United Kingdom could add 20 to 30c a carton of canned fruit to costs. lt should also be realised that South Africa, one of our competitors in the canned fruits field, is able to export its products to Europe at half the cost per ton and per mile that we must meet. We have to face this situation. It has also been pointed out by Mr Lowe thai the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd would be unable to supply one-third of the tinplate needs of the Leeton Cooperative Cannery, and the cost of importing tinplate would add another $25,000 to the cannery’s costs. Here we have 2 factors under the control of this Government. The first is the shipping freights situation. We pay double the freight that our competitors pay. The second is that, because of the structure of the steel industry, we are being forced to import Japanese steel and to meet the difference in the bill. Another leader in the canned fruits industry. Mr Angus Martin, made a series of very effective points. He said: . . the questions yet unanswered were: Would there be a transitional period for canned fruits, would the external tariff bc reduced after Britain’s entry and how long would it take for British wages to rise to compensate for higher food hills.

In other words, he was saying: What has our Government done about the renegotiation of British tariffs and British preferences to enable us to trade and to help this industry, which was fostered by Government, to remain viable.

The Leeton Co-operative Cannery, which is the subject of the legislation before the House, has a higher export component than has any other cannery in Australia. Therefore, all of the things that touch on export costs affect it most seriously and most grievously. It must grow by 50 per cent if it is to meet its international competitors such as Libbys and Del Monde. One might think that this Bill, which provides $1.7m, enables it to do just this. Let us be quite clear. It does no such thing. The honourable member for Balaclava made a very thoughtful contribution to this debate. But one of the things I want to say to him is that all this Bill does, from the State point of view, is to enable a book entry to take place. All it does, from the Commonwealth point of view, is to enable some Commonwealth debts to be serviced. It certainly does not enable this cannery, which is the largest in New South Wales, to grow to a size that would enable it to meet its competitors in the international sphere on an equal basis, because to do that the cannery must grow by 50 per cent.

In the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area, which is the largest canning fruits area in New South Wales, there is a cannery called the Griffith Co-operative Cannery Ltd. We had an incredible situation in which for a very long time no-one knew what the future of that cannery would be. I mentioned this in an address to the Parliament when the Minister for Primary Industry, who has been away for a white, was here. He heard my address and I spoke to him about it. The Griffith Co-operative Cannery, which operated with grower shareholders, had grower capital of $500,000. The cannery had not paid for a whole season’s deliveries by growers, which amount to $250,000. I put it to the Minister that the cannery would be forced into extinction and that this would mean that 160 people would be unemployed at a time when the countryside was in the grip of the worst depression for 2 generations.

We saw many things happen, but the main thing that happened was that the New South Wales Government said that it was not able to meet the request to keep this particular unit going because it involved $200,000 - not in cash, but in a bank guarantee. It was beyond the resources of the State, said the Premier of New South Wales, Mr Robin W. Askin. I took this matter up with the Federal Minister for Primary Industry. I do not want to mention his name improperly, Mr Speaker, but we have had an Acting Minister for Primary Industry while the Minister has been away. I took the matter up with the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair). He contacted the New South Wales Government. When he was away I had further contact with the Acting Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Nixon). He said: ‘I cannot quite understand the situation because we have not had any requests from the State of New South Wales, particularly in regard to this co-operative cannery’. I accepted that completely. What happened was that in the end the New South Wales Government said in relation to this cannery: ‘We are not in . a positon and we have no resources o help. We cannot assist you’.

The Acting Minister for Primary Industry found this a bit surprising. I do not blame him for that. Within 3 or 4 days of the deadline for preparations for the harvest, which will start in 14 days time, we were faced with a situation in which there was no movement from the State Government and no movement from the Federal Government. Gordon Edgell Pty Ltd, which is not an unknown canner in our country, came in and said: ‘We will make you an offer’. The offer was to rent this particular cannery, to meet all the commitments and interest for the current year, to pay the growers on 30 days and to keep all the jobs going at a time when we need them. That was the offer and it was accepted. Concurrently with these negotiations an offer was made, not directly by the New South Wales Government but indirectly, that the grower part of this co-operative should be given up - that is to say, the capital asset, which was $500,000, should be given up - and that all the moneys owing to growers for the last season, which amounted to $250,000, should also be given up. The offer was that they should then pay a levy which would enable them at least to find a home for their fruit in the season which begins in about 14 days time.

This was the only offer before them, that they give up$500,000 in assets, that they forego every penny of what was owing to them for fruit delivered in the past season - $250,000 - and that they pay a levy to see that what they had for the coming season was processed. That was an offer that came indirectly from the Government of New South Wales. The instrument used was the Leeton Co-operative Cannery. But let us be clear; the financial management of the Leeton Co-operative Cannery is in the hands of the State Government in association with the Federal Government, so it is not making decisions of this type. This is important in relation to a matter I will mention in a moment or two. So what it decided to do was to accept the offer to lease to Gordon Edgell. Gordon Edgell had moved in to the extent that it was prepared to receive fruit which will be coming off the trees in 14 days time.

But now we cometo an interesting situation where just today there has been an offer made by 3 canneries. SPC - which is Shepparton Preserving Co. Ltd - Ardmona Fruit Products Co-operative Co. Ltd and Kyabram Preserving Co. Ltd. They have come together at this hour to say to the Griffith Co-operative Cannery: ‘We would like to take you over on the following terms.’ I do not vouch for the detail of the terms and I hope the Minister will note this. But the general terms are that they would settle the long term debts, they would pay out all the cannery’s liabilities and take over its assets, they would pay 50 per cent of all that was owing to the growers of last season and they would process all available fruit from this cooperative cannery this season starting in 14 days time. That is a most generous proposition. This situation in which we found ourselves, though, is an incredible one. We found that the New South Wales Government was saying that nothing could be done because it was beyond the full capacity of the sovereign State of New South Wales to find $200,000, not in cash but in a bank guarantee. So this is what it said: ‘We could not find it. We have not got it. So all we can say is that you must die peacefully.’ But underground it said: Listen, if you give up all your assets and give up all that you owe we might be able to manage to instruct the Leeton Cooperative Cannery to process your fruit’. That was about all they were able to do. Now, in theory I suppose that t’v:re is a corpse in Griffith to be picked. The other canneries are now saying: ‘Well, let us now have another look at it’. What I want to direct to the Minister is the question as to whether the Commonwealth is in fact extending a ‘helping hand’ to the growers concerned by sponsoring this offer because, as we all know, it was a unanimous decision of the Parliament. So let there be no misunderstanding about it. An amount of $4.2m was given as a loan-

Mr Lloyd:

– As a loan.


– I know it was as a loan, as my friend from Murray says. It was given to help the Shepparton cannery overcome its difficulties.

Mr Sinclair:

– The answer is no. We are in no way sponsoring it.


– I have not finished-

Mr Sinclair:

– You asked me a question.


– The Minister has been away for a while. I suggest he hear me out and catch up with events. It is pretty important, as I think he will agree. The honourable member for Balaclava (Mr Whittorn) spoke as a member of Parliament not on a party basis but just to ask some questions. Ali I am doing is asking some questions. If the Minister needs time to answer we will wait. We are tolerant people. But let me put the position to the Minister. It is an extraordinary situation that this Parliament agreed, just a few months ago - it was a unanimous decision and there is no criticism of the Minister so he can relax-

Mr Sinclair:

– I am relaxed.


– 1 am glad that the Minister is relaxed. But 125 members of the Parliament determined that the loan of $4.2m to the Shepparton cannery was in order. All I am asking now is: Has the Government had some second thoughts about what should be done with the money, because if there is an offer by Shepparton, Ardmona and the other cannery associated with them to take over another cannery in New South Wales on most generous terms - it may be a very good offer - let us have the facts of the situation. This is all we are asking for in this debate. In summation - I have only a very short time left - all I want to say is that we have heard a great deal said about the growers but the growers associated with the Griffith Co-operative Cannery have had no money for last season. We have asked the Commonwealth, we have asked the State - the request is in orbit. We have also asked the Commonwealth for all the assistance that can be given to those growers because some growers have had help and some have not. All good government is based on equality of treatment and they have not had equality of treatment. So I am asking that this should have the Minister’s attention. I am also suggesting to him that when it comes to the voting of money for all sorts of purposes while we may be happy to have it, I do not think that the Minister has to give an explanation to the House particularly tonight and I ask that he should give it.


-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.


– My electorate and I welcome the introduction by the Government of these measures to assist the canneries referred to in the Bills before the House. I intend to refer specifically to Riverland Fruit Products Co-operative Ltd as it affects my own area. My personal involvement with this measure goes back some time to 12th November 1968 when I wrote to the State Minister for Agriculture, at that time a Mr Story, suggesting that perhaps he could apply for a section 96 grant in relation to the particular difficulties with which that factory was faced. I think that the next step probably was made on 25th February 1969 when in answer to other letters I received a lengthy and very detailed letter from the Deputy Prime Minister of the time, Mr McEwen. I. intend to refer to that letter in a short while. The next relevant date was 1970 when the Ives interdepartmental committee was set up to look into the problem associated with canneries. In 1971 we received this welcome decision by the Government on top of assistance made available to the Shepparton Preserving Co. Ltd affecting Jon Preserving Co-operative Ltd and Riverland Co-operative. The original reason for the commencement of this chain of events relates primarily to the market development allowance which the canned fruit industry set up for a variety of purposes.

As it affected the Riverland cannery the market development allowance funds were used heavily to promote Australian peaches in competition with American canned fruit, in particular on the West German market. It was in 1967, for instance, that Australia made heavy sales of canned peaches in West Germany at very low prices. The results of these sales, which were heavily underwritten by the payment of the market development allowance, were twofold. Firstly, the Australian Canned Fruits Board incurred a debt in its market development allowance fund which, apart from requiring government legislation to facilitate amortisation, meant that rates of market development allowance payment in 1968 had to be reduced. I understand that the Australian Canned Fruits Board decided in December to pay the market development allowance on 1968 sales at an interim rate of 671 per cent of the 1967 rates. The second result of the heavy sales to Germany in 1967 was a threat of retaliatory action by the United States. The United States, the traditional and major supplier to the German market, considered that Australia’s substantially increased share of the market the year before had been won through the assistance of a government subsidy - the market development allowance.

Whilst arguing that the market development allowance arrangements did not represent a subsidy in terms of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the Government was unable to sway the United States from its determination to retaliate by introducing a direct subsidy itself by way of so-called section 32 funds in America unless steps were taken substantially to modify the Australian system. I am sure the House will appreciate that a subsidy to the American industry would have had the most severe repercussions for our own Australian industry. The Government was able to avoid the threatened retaliation by the United States only by agreeing at a meeting in Washington in July of that year to suspend the payment of the market development allowance on the export of canned peaches to our major markets.

The problem which resulted from that action will be more easily understood by the House when I refer to the fact that while in the case of the Victorian section of the industry canned pears represent the largest and most important section of the exported product, in South Australia, and particularly in the case of the Riverland Co-operative, by far the largest export component is canned peaches. I hope that the House will recall, from the remarks which I made earlier, that it was canned peaches in particular that were hit by the series of events which I have just described. To illustrate the difficulty which faced the Riverland Co-operative company I will quote some estimated production figures. The estimated ultimate production potential of that company of canning fruits is 10,000 tons of apricots, 35,000 tons of peaches and only 5,000 tons of pears. That Co-operative has a total potential capacity of 50,000 tons of fruit.

The growth of this company, which was formed only in 1959, represents another problem which puts it completely out of comparison with the older traditional canning companies of Victoria. The amount of money borrowed and the tremendously rapid expansion of that company have been other contributing causes of its problems in terms of liquidity. Before following on with this theme I will just point out the third reason for that company’s problems. The Australian Government in its negotiations under GATT at an earlier stage had to take away a certain proportion of the preference granted to tinned peaches but not to pears, fruit salad, etc. The preferential tariff was removed as it affected entry into both Canada and the United Kingdom. The fact of the matter is that at this stage the Riverland Co-operative has been granted this assistance which amounts to $1.8m. This amount of money is to be made available, by agreement, by the Federal Government and the South Australian Government, with each Government contributing equally towards the assistance offered.

There has been some talk in this debate about the fact that no conditions apply in the granting of this assistance. I have to hand letters that deal with an agreement agreed to by the State Bank of South Australia on the one hand, operating through an Act called the Loans to Producers Act, and the agreement between the Riverland Co-operative company and the South Australian Government through its banking instrumentality. The conditions in that agreement are: Firstly, the Co-operative has acknowledged that the debt continues on the basis that so long as the Co-operative acts in a manner and to an extent considered reasonable by both governments no interest or capital repayment should be required by the State Bank for a period of 20 years. Thereafter new conditions may be set. Secondly, from the freeing of commitments in this way, 4 per cent of this otherwise interest-free loan must not be disbursed to growers but must be held for the purpose of crediting an amortisation reserve. Those funds must be retained to act as a reserve fund to help in the general liquidity of the company. The third condition is that if the company were to go into liquidation the whole of the loan would be repayable. I do not know whether those honourable members who mentioned this aspect in this debate were aware that these conditions do apply, and, frankly, I have not checked to see whether these conditions also apply in the case of the Leeton Co-operative Cannery Ltd. Certainly the Riverland Cooperative has signed an agreement containing these conditions as they affect the situation in South Australia.

The honourable member for Balaclava (Mr Whittorn) did say that he would be in favour of this Bill if it were aimed and geared to help the growers. In the case of Riverland Co-operative this Bill will certainly help the growers because firstly it is a co-operative, as is Jon Preserving Cooperative Ltd. I think that the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) will deal with that company later on in this debate. Secondly the whole idea of the thinking of both the State Government and the Federal Government on this matter was to free funds from the business activity of these co-operatives so that they would not have to pay less for the raw material, the fruit produced by growers in those areas. By freeing them of their commitments I anticipate that larger amounts will be made available to the growers for that raw material as a result of action by this Government in association with the State Government. There is no question in my mind that this Bill is of very great signi ficance to the growers. I refute the suggestions to the opposite effect which I heard during this debate. I assume that the honourable member for Balaclava will therefore support the Bill as he made that a prerequisite to his opinion.

I would like briefly to finalise my remarks. The Riverland Co-operative is situated in the town of Berri which is in my electorate. That town is the focal point of 3 other very important, up-to-date, modern, good looking and dynamic towns of the type that this country would like to see a lot more. It is my opinion that this sort of action by the Government is exactly the action that is necessary to look after provincial cities of this type. I for one welcome, without the reservations inherent in the amendment moved by the Opposition, the action taken by this Government to substantiate and to help the liquidity of all the shop owners, the centre store shop people in these areas, lt is of vital importance in this day and age, with the prolonged tentacles of centralisation around huge areas and huge capital cities, that towns of historic interest, towns such as that set up by people, like the Chaffey brothers, towns that are modern and which have up-to-date facilities, should receive some attention from the government of the day. It is for this reason that I particularly welcome this legislation. I congratulate the companies concerned which have supplied a tremendous array of statistical information to the Government and to people such as myself and no doubt the honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) in order to help us in our efforts on behalf of this industry. Personally I am proud of my involvement with this industry since the early days of 1968. It gives me pleasure, as I am sure it will give the people in my electorate, to see this Bill come to fruition. I support it with a great deal of gratitude and I inform the Opposition that I cannot support its amendment on this occasion.

Debate (on motion by Mr Foster) adjourned.

page 4176


page 4176


Ministerial Statement

Minister for Labour and National Service · Flinders · LP

– by leave - On 15th December 1904 - 67 years ago this month - the royal assent was given to the first Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, an Act of Parliament which was then, as it remains today, a unique and important piece of social legislation. It is unique in that it provides a legislative framework within which organisations of employers and employees are given the opportunity to regulate their industrial relationships. It is important because the results that flow from the operation of the system provided in the legislation affect every member of the Australian community, either as a wage earner or citizen.

In the field of industrial relations it must be recognised that employer organisations and trade unions will always have different interests to protect. These stem from the desire of the worker as expressed through his trade union to obtain improved conditions of employment and higher rewards for the commodity he has to sell - his labour - and of employers to manage and operate their businesses in the most efficient and profitable manner and thus maximise returns to the owners. The Conciliation and Arbitration Act is designed to provide the means for resolving industrial disputes arising from such differences in an orderly and just manner. The second and very distinguished President of the then Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. Mr Justice Higgins summarised the aims of conciliation and arbitration by saying: . . the process of conciliation, with arbitration in the background, is substituted for the rude and barbarous processes of strike and lockout. Reason is to displace force; the might of the State is to enforce peace between industrial combatants as well as between other combatants; and all in the interests of the public.

These words remain as fundamentally true today as they were when written in 1915. However, recently the adequacy of our Commonwealth conciliation and arbitration machinery to deal with the complex problems that face us in the fast changing economic, technological and industrial conditions of the 1970s has been the subject of considerable debate. The situation today is vastly different from that at the turn of the century and in the early years of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Whereas then (he community was prepared to accept a high level of unemployment as inevitable and normal, full employment is now accepted as a cardinal objective of government economic and social policy.

The maintenance of full employment, however, brings with it the critical economic problems associated with a finely balanced economy. Labour costs are a vital element in preserving the balance of our economy. If they increase beyond the level of increases in productivity an acceleration in inflation is inevitable and our capacity to maintain full employment is seriously undermined. Thus, the determination of wages and conditions of employment cannot always be left to the parties themselves to decide without regard to the social and economic effects on the community as a whole. Hence, our systems of Commonwealth and State conciliation and arbitration.

One effect of maintaining full employment is that the balance of industrial power has moved strongly in favour of the trade unions. The strongest unions have been able to use this power, often by direct action, to achieve increases in wages and improvements in working conditions at an accelerating rate and to a degree which has contributed significantly to a spiralling inflationary situation. This has provided major problems for the system in endeavouring to provide wage justice for workers in smaller unions which have not had this advantage in bargaining power. The implications of pressure for wage increases of this nature were expressed cogently in the Australian White Paper on full employment in 1945 - when a Labour Government was in power - as follows:

The problem of wages in a full employment economy is to ensure on the one hand that workers receive in the form of higher real wages a fair share of increases in productivity resulting from technical progress, and on the other hand that undue sectional pressure for wage increases does not lead merely to a rising spiral of wages and prices without any real benefit - and perhaps with disadvantages - to the workers themselves.

In similar vein the Oxford economist, Lord Thomas Balough, who was economic adviser to the last British Labour Government, dealt with this question in his recent book Labour and Inflation’. He wrote:

Free bargaining increased inequality; it resulted in a relative ‘ worsening of the position of the poorest paid and least aggressively organised classes of society. . . . Trade union action was successful in certain instances in increasing the share of certain privileged or closely organised groups such as tally clerks, dock workers and so on. The lower paid, the defenceless and the handicapped, despite the declamation of the unions, have not been protected.

The direct social gain from ‘industrial action’ was not merely negligible; it might well have been negative. lt must also be said that many employers are far too ready to meet excessive wage demands. They may see short-term advantages in this course of action but the problems are merely postponed and the disadvantages to the wider community are considerable.

Employers could learn from the generally quite marked solidarity of the unions. Too often they speak with discordant voices. Too frequently individual employers are left in isolated exposed positions. A united, though by no means necessarily negative, approach would often lead to more appropriate settlements. This does not mean that employers should automatically reject union demands. They must show a willingness to negotiate particular problems but in a sensible and responsible manner. %

The use of direct industrial action to exert pressure on employers is reflected in the increasing incidence of industrial stoppages. During the decade 1960 to 1970, the number of industrial disputes involving stoppages of work recorded by the Commonwealth Statistician increased from 1,145 to 2,738, an increase of 139 per cent. The number of workers involved over the same period increased by 127 per cent and the loss in working time by 230 per cent. In terms of wages lost due to strikes, the increase was 428 per cent. Even allowing for the 22 per cent increase in population and the 42 per cent increase in the number of wage and salary earners over this decade, the increases I have just quoted must give cause for serious concern. Lest it be thought that I have chosen 1960 as a base year which shows the position in the worst light, I point out that if either 1959 or 1961 were used as a base year the percentage increases would be even greater.

More disturbing, however, is the upsurge in industrial unrest during the last 2 years. During the year 1969-70 - the last full year for which figures are available - stoppages, working days lost, and number of workers involved in disputes rose by 36 per cent, 22 per cent and 6.4 per cent respectively over the previous year. Figures available to September 1971 reveal that the position has deteriorated even further. The time lost in industrial disputes in the first 9 months of this year, 2.6 million man days, exceeds the total for the whole of 1970. The time lost up to September this year exceeds that of any full year since 1929 when the loss was 4.5 million. In only 3 other years since 1913 when strike statistics were collected for the first time- 1917, 1919 and 1910- has the time lost so far this year been exceeded in a full year. The effects of industrial disputes on the community are not simply measurable by the loss of man days. This represents only the tip of the iceberg. Strikes and other forms of industrial action cause hardship to workers not directly involved. Then there is the danger to the economy from the wage-induced inflation associated with industrial unrest. This is posing a long-term threat to economic growth, the balance of payments and full employment.

The increase in the incidence of industrial stoppages and the impact of substantial wage increases on inflation have called into question the role of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. Throughout its history there have been criticisms of the Commission and its predecessor, the Court, and because of the nature of its responsibilities this is to be expected. The important fact is, however, that it continues to have general acceptance, not only from employer organisations and trade unions generally, which are most directly concerned with its operation, but also from the general community. No institution can be free from criticism or from the need for change. In this connection, it is relevant to point out that the Conciliation and Arbitration Act has been amended on 52 occasions. While some of these amendments have been of a minor nature, others have been far reaching in character. Today the Act remains an essential part of Australia’s social, economic and industrial relations legislative framework.

The present Government has consistently advocated the retention of our system of conciliation and arbitration but in so doing has not been unmindful of the need for change when required. In 1956, for example, the late Harold Holt, then Minister for Labour and National Service, in introducing the Bill to effect the last major revision of the Act spoke of ‘the need for the most effective system of compulsory arbitration, with suitable personnel and adequate powers, that this Parliament can devise’. (House of Representatives Hansard, I Ou May 1956, p 1990).

The Australian Labor Party too, both in government and opposition, has maintained its support for conciliation and arbitration. In 1947, during the period when the Labor Party occupied the Government benches, Dr Evan was moved to ‘assert confidently that the Australian worker, the employer and the Australian community have been far better off with the court than they could possibly have been without it’. (House of Representatives Hansard, 12th March 1947, p 548)! Dr Evatt then emphasised, a basic principle which is equally true today when he said: ‘that, within the limits permitted by the Constitution, the maintenance of industrial peace, and the adjustment of the terms and conditions of employment, are matters not merely of local or private concern, but also of vital importance to the. community as a whole’. ( House of Representatives Hansard, 12th March 1947, p 548).

Systems of conciliation and arbitration have existed in the States for many years, some even pre-dating the Federal system. Labor governments in the States have always supported these systems.

During the recently concluded National Tripartite Conference discussions on the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, representatives of both the National Employers Policy Committee and the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the other union associations represented at the discussions supported the retention of the system. In passing let me remind the House that the Australian trade union movement has benefited greatly from the provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act and the protection it has given unions and their members.

Public opinion polls clearly indicate that the great majority of Australians favour the continuation of our system which has helped to shape the very nature of indus trial relations in Australia over the past 67 years. Those who wish to weaken the authority of the Commission or even to destroy it have brought forward no acceptable viable alternative.

In many countries where the alternative of collective bargaining operates the industrial situation is far worse than in Australia. Statistics compiled from International Labour Organisation sources indicate that for the 5 years 1965 to 1969 the average annual number of man-days lo-,t per 1,000 employees in the mining, manufacturing, construction and transport industries in Australia was 456, compared with 1,556 for Canada, 1,232 for the United States and 1,574 for Italy. Furthermore, most countries are showing a rising trend in time lost through industrial disputes. For example, the number of man-days lost in 1970 was at least 30 per cent higher in the United States, about 60 per cent higher in the United Kingdom and 100 per cent higher in New Zealand than in the previous year.

Taken over the whole of its long history, the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and its predecessor, the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration has been of immeasurable benefit to the Australian worker. It has established a code of wages and working conditions which in its totality places the Australian worker in a highly favourable position compared with his counterpart elsewhere. The concept of the basic wage and more recently the minimum wage has ensured that he cannot be exploited no matter how weak his union representation is or in what industry he works. Australia was amongst the first countries to achieve a 40-hour week, paid annual and sick leave and long service leave for industrial type employees. The detailed regulation of working conditions including such matters as a contract of employment, paid public holidays, overtime rates and safety, health and welfare matters are further illustrations of the benefits that have been achieved through our Federal and State systems.

It is not only the individual worker who benefits from the operation of the conciliation and arbitration system. The encouragement of employer and employee organisations was an object of the original Act and has been a major factor in the development of the strong and effective trade unions and employer organisations which exist in Australia today.

Because of the benefits conferred on unions under the legislation the Government is concerned at the increasing degree to which some trade unions are resorting to coercive methods against both employees and employers in order to make union membership compulsory. Some firms and authorities are threatened with black bans because they supply goods and services to an employer in dispute with unions over union membership. Individual workers are denied the freedom to decide whether or not they will join a particular organisation, with the threat of losing their employment if they refuse to join.

While the Government has always encouraged the organisation of representative bodies of employers and employees and their registration under the Act and has encouraged workers to join their appropriate unions, it believes that coercive action to force people to join unions is wrong in principle. It is contrary to the principles of the universal Declaration of Human Rights and it is a matter to which I will be referring in my proposals foi amendments to the legislation.

A further issue which has greatly concerned the Government in recent years has been the tendency by trade unions to use the strike weapon over issues totally unrelated to industrial matters. I instance stoppages in connection with the Moratorium and the Vietnam War, stoppages which interfere with trade with some foreign countries because of opposition to the policies of their governments, bans on the export of merino rams and many others. Because there is no industrial basis in such issues, there is no effective solution to stoppages of this type within the framework of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. The Government is therefore giving attention to measures to deal with such stoppages by legislation separate from the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.

At the outset, it must be stated that it is not within the power of the Commonwealth Government to provide solutions to all problems in the industrial relations field. Only 40 per cent of workers are covered by Federal awards. The Commonwealth can only legislate within the lim it. of the Constitution. For example, the Commonwealth cannot legislate to control agreements between employers and trade unions made outside the Commission’s jurisdiction. Its powers to deal with stoppages in individual plants is limited because they are intra-State in character.

It must also be remembered that Australia does not have one system of conciliation and arbitration; it has 7, the Commonwealth system and a separate one in each of the States. Many of the difficulties that arise in the industrial relations field are caused by this dichotomy which results in neither the Commonwealth nor the Slates being able to deal effectively with many disputes. Constitutional problems are of course involved here. It is the Government’s responsibility to provide the legislative framework to assist employers and unions in resolving disputes between them. A critical factor, however, is the nature of the relationship between those parties and the attitudes they bring to the resolution of disputes. We live in a period of’ rapidly changing attitudes and of growing indiscipline and disregard for authority in various sectors of our national life. It would be surprising if this malaise of our time was not reflected in the industrial relations area.

Within the limits of the constitution, the Government believes that improvements to the operation of the system can be effected and what it is putting forward is a comprehensive series of balanced and constructive proposals to improve the system. The success of these proposals, however, will depend to a very large extent upon the parties themselves because it is only they who can make the legislation operate effectively.

While the Government believes that our present system of conciliation and arbitration is sound and must be retained, it accepts the necessity to amend the legislation to meet the realities of the 1970s. It is now 15 years since there was a major reconstruction of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act as a result of the High Court’s decision in the Boilermakers’ Case which required the separation of the judicial and administrative functions of the then Court of Conciliation and Arbitration.

In considering the proposals I will put before the Parliament, the Government has not acted unilaterally. At the request of the National Labour Advisory Council, I convened a National Tripartite Conference on which were representatives of the National Employers Policy Committee representing all the major national employer organisations in Australia, the Australian Council of Trade Unions, the Australian Council of Salaried and Professional Associations and the Council of Commonwealth Public Service Organisations which between them represent most trade unionists in this country. 1 must make it clear that this conference was in no sense a negotiating body from which some agreed or compromise proposals for amendment of the Act would emerge. The parties understood that its purpose was to give them the opportunity to put their views to Government as to amendments to the Act they believed desirable to improve the system and that the question of what amendments would be made was solely a matter for the Government to determine.

In addition, I invited written submissions from other individuals and groups not represented. A number of these were received and considered. I have also had the opportunity of studying a large number of individual representations to me and other members of the Government on this subject as well as informed comment and articles in the news media and learned publications. Thus. I have had available a broad spectrum of views as to what changes should be made in the system. In the views that have been expressed, there was a strong consensus of opinion that a greater emphasis should be given to conciliation and that steps should be taken to make conciliation more effective.

In essence, therefore, the proposals which I am about to outline are designed to improve and strengthen the Conciliation and Arbitration Act and to facilitate the work of the Commission. Our aim is to ensure that it will remain a statute which will provide for the orderly conduct of industrial relations in this country, will benefit both workers and employers and. most important, will protect the interests of the whole community in the settlement of industrial disputes.

In making this statement well ahead of the introduction of legislation, the Government is taking the opportunity of outlining its proposals to the entire community. This will enable responsible consideration to he given to what is intended by the Government. I now come to the Government’s proposals.

The Conciliation and Arbitration Process

The mou important aspect of the changes that the Government has in mind concern the processes of conciliation and arbitration themselves. The objects of .he Conciliation and Arbitration Act are often overlooked. Let me restate them.

  1. to promote goodwill in industry:
  2. lo encourage conciliation with a view to amicable agreement, thereby preventing and settling industrial disputes.
  3. to provide means for preventing and settling industrial disputes not resolved by amicable agreement, including threatened. impending and probable industrial disputes, with the maximum of expedition and the minimum of legal form and technicality;
  4. to provide for the observance and enforcement of agreements and awards made in settlement of industrial disputes; and
  5. to encourage the organisation of representative bodies of employers and employees and their registration under this Act.

Thus, significant emphasis is placed in the Act upon the process of conciliation. This has always been so and the critics of the system too often tend to forget it.

In recent years, largely because of the prevailing economic circumstances, there has been a tendency for parties to attempt to settle their differences by agreement outside the Commission. The Government considers it would be preferable for the Commission to be more involved in this process and for more effective facilities to be provided to assist the parties.

The Government therefore proposes to restructure the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission and completely separate the conciliation function from that of arbitration. Under this new arrangement. members of the Commission will be divided into 2 groups, each with distinct responsibilities. The first will consist of presidential members and arbitration commissioners and will exercise only arbitral functions. The second will consist of conciliation commissioners and will exercise only conciliation functions. The conciliation commissioners and the arbitration commissioners will have the same status.

Conciliation commissioners will have the important task of assisting parties to resolve their differences. The extent to which they become personally involved in conferences and discussions between the parties will be a matter for their judgment in individual cases, but they will be expected to be in constant communication with parties during the conciliation proceedings. In some cases, the nature of the problems confronting the parties may require a conciliation commissioner’s presence during all discussions and negotiations.

When a conciliation commissioner has taken all reasonable steps to secure settlement by conciliation but the parties cannot resolve their differences the matter will go to arbitration. Thus there will be no departure from the well-established and lon a-accepted need for the Commission to possess arbitral powers where parties cannot resolve their differences by conciliation.

The Government sees particular merit in this separation of functions. We believe that in providing for the settlement of disputes in this way the conciliation process will be made more meaningful and more attractive to the parties. Steps will be taken to ensure that the confidential nature of conciliation proceedings and what has transpired in these proceedings will not be admissible in any subsequent arbitration by an arbitration commissioner. These factors, we hope, will encourage more disputes to be resolved wi:hin the framework of the -Commission. Thus, there should be a more positive approach to conciliation and a strengthening of the processes of the Commission.

Agreements reached in the conciliation process will be certified as awards or orders of the Commission. We also propoe to enhance the role of presidential members of the Commission by extending their responsibilities. At the present time their principal work involves sitting on benches constituted under sections 33, 34 and 35 of the Act, though for many years certain key industries have been assigned to presidential members rather than the lay commissioners. In addition since last year, presidential members have had responsibility for matters arising under sections 32a and 33a of the Act.

Under the present system the President of the Commission assigns groups of industries to individual commissioners. Each commissioner is then responsible for all activities of conciliation and arbitration in those industries. The Act does not allow presidential members to be assigned in this way.

To provide for the separation of conciliation from arbitration and to assist in the elimination of possible delays in the hearing of matters, the Government has in mind that the Act will provide for the establishment of what might be termed task forces in the Commission. Under this arrangement a presidential member will be responsible for a group of industries with one or more conciliation commissioners and arbitration commissioners. Thus there will always be more than one person with an intimate knowledge of the particular industries available to deal with disputes. The presidential member will be responsible for co-ordinating the work of the group.

This greater involvement of presidential members will assist them in carrying out their functions under the reference an.d appeal provisions of the Act. I hope that it will bring about a greater degree of coordination amongst all the members of the Commission. Because of our intention to separate conciliation from arbitration, it will not be possible to involve presidential members of the Commission in the conciliation process. They must be available for full bench matters. These are arbitral proceedings.

One particularly important matter arises out of the proposal to separate the conciliation and arbitration functions of the Commission. The Government acknowledges that the most satisfactory means of settling differences in industrial relations is by the parties themselves reaching agreement. Nevertheless, the public interest must be protected. There are three parties connected with industrial relations and one is the community. An agreement reached between employers and unions may have major repercussions in other areas of employment and may not be in the best interests of the wider community.

The Act already takes account of the public interest. It reserves certain matters of particular importance to full benches of the Commission and provides a system of references and appeals. The Government does not believe that it would be realistic to rely entirely upon the reference and appeal provisions, in relation to an award or order arrived at under the new conciliation process.

The Government intends to provide that a full bench of the Commission must review a conciliated award or order if the Commonwealth refers an award or order on the issue public interest. The Commission will be empowered to confirm the award or order in light of what is put to it -or to make such changes it deems necessary.

Consistent with the nature of the conciliation process the intention is to provide that counsel, solicitors or paid agents shall not represent parties in proceedings before a conciliation commissioner although they will not be precluded from participating in such proceedings in an advisory capacity.


The Government proposes to extend the appeals provisions of the Act. There are circumstances in which an award or order of the Commission, because of its nature, could affect significantly a party, other than those involved in its making. Therefore, we will provide for such a party to be able to seek leave to appeal against an award or order if it is able to satisfy the Commission that it is affected <> is likely to be affected by that award or order.

The Act will also be amended to provide that an award or order made by the Commission shall be made formally without delay, that no formal order or award shall bear a date other than the date on which it is actually signed and that it shall be made available to parties on that date. The statutory period for the lodging of appeals will commence on that date. This will prevent a situation in which an appeal could not be lodged because the signing of a formal order had not taken place.

Constitution of Full Benches

The Government has in mind changes in the constitution of Full Benches of the Commission. At present, what might be termed full benches, are constituted under sections 33, 34 a«d 35 of the Act. In each case, the constitution of the Bench is different. Under section 33, the Act provides for the ‘Commission in Presidential Session’ consisting of only presidential members, of not less than 3 in number, to make awards as to standard hours of work, the basic wage and long service leave. Under section 34 - (references) the Commission must consist of not less than 3 members, at least one being a presidential m mber. Under section 35 - (appeals) it must be constituted by not less than 3 members at least 2 being presidential members.

The Government proposes to rational :se these provisions in 2 ways. First, the term Commisison in Presidential” Session’ will be discarded. It will be replaced by the term Full Bench’. It is also proposed that the legislation will make provision for full benches to consist of not less than 3 members with, in the case of section 33 matters, at least 3 presidential members but’ leaving the option of adding further members, either presidential members or arbitration commissioners, if thought desirable. In appeal and reference matters, the Commission will be constituted by not less than 3 members of whom 2 must be presidential members. Consistent with their role, conciliation commissioners will not sit on full benches of the Commission.

Matters reserved to Full Bench under Section 33

The Government proposes to add to the matters which are reserved for determination by Full Benches of the Commission under section 33 of the Act. The matters to be included are of major significance and in the past have been dealt with by the Commission constituted under the reference provisions of the Act

The matters to be added to section 33 will be national wage cases; equal pay test cases; annual leave cases; and the minimum wage.

Qualifications of presidential members

The Government has fully considered the qualifications for appointment as presidential members. For many years, it has been suggested that the qualifications, for appointment as presidential members should be widened to enable the appointment of persons who possess other than legal qualifications. So far as is relevant, the Act now provides that a person shall not be appointed as a presidential member unless he is or has been a barrister or solicitor of the High Court or of the Supreme Court of a State of not less than 5 years’ standing.’

The Government has decided to broaden the basis for appointment of presidential members of the Commission to allow for the appointment of persons who have an accepted standing by virtue of experience at senior level in industry or government service or who have appropriate tertiary qualifications in economics, industrial relations or commerce. However, the office of President will remain one to which only a legally qualified person may be appointed.

At present, a presidential member is entitled to the rank, designation, status and precedence of a judge. There would be serious objections if persons not legally qualified were to be given the style and title of judges. All future appointees as presidential members, therefore will not have these styles and titles but in view of the high status of their office, it is proposed that they be accorded the title ‘The Honourable’ and be addressed as ‘Mr Deputy President’.

The judicial status of existing presidential members of the Commission will be preserved. Future presidential members appointed will retire at age 65 instead of age 70. There will then be a common retiring age for all members of the Commission. 1 propose that in future the positions of conciliation commissioners and arbitration commissioners will be advertised when new appointments are being considered. In this way, the field of choice for such appointments will be widened.

Need for the Commission to take account of Economic Consequences in its decisions

In recent years the economic consequences that can flow from decisions made by the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission have been under considerable discussion. There is no doubt that many decisions of the Commission have a major impact on our national economy and as such affect the economic and social wellbeing of all citizens. It is therefore most important that what the Commission does in settlement of industrial disputes should not jeopardise the nation’s economic life.

The Government does not consider that it would be sensible or practicable to write a blanket provision into the Act requiring the Commission to take into account the likely economic consequences of every decision made by it. Many of its decisions have no impact on the economy. Nevertheless, matters which come before the Commission under section 33, under section 34 (references) or under section 35 (appeals) will normally involve issues of considerable importance not only industrially but in respect of the national economy. The Government will amend the Act to provide that in dealing with matters under these 3 sections the Commission will be required to have regard to the likely national economic consequences of any award or order that it might make in settlement of a dispute.

Dispute Settlement Procedures

Throughout 1969 and 1970, my predecessors held discussions with representatives of the ACTU and the National Employers’ Policy Committee on the sanctions provisions of the Act. All parties agreed to work out a set of principles for the establishment of procedures for dealing with disputes. Those principles were endorsed by the ACTU and the NEPC on behalf of their constituent bodies. Their purpose was to guide employers’ organisations, employers, unions and workers towards establishing their own particular procedures within industries or establishments that would best suit their particular needs, lt was agreed that it would be the mutual responsibilities of individual unions and employers to give effect to the guidelines in one of the following ways: (a) by incorporating the procedures in awards by consent; or (b) by incorporation in agreements lodged with the appropriate tribunals; or (c) by the formal exchange of agreed documents.

The parlies agreed that it would be important to translate the principles into action as soon as practicable on the basis of mutual decisions by the parlies. 1 can only say that the extent to which these principles have been taken up and particular procedures developed from them by both employers and the unions has been disappointing.

The Government proposes to provide in the Act thai, in the making of an award, the Commission would encourage the parties to include a provision for procedures to settle disputes arising between them in industrial establishments in which work is being carried out under the terms of the award. Clearly, dispute settlement procedures will not work unless both sides are prepared to make them work. There would be little advantage in including them in awards in circumstances in which parties do not express such a willingness but we hope that by making provision for them in the Act in the manner I have, just indicated, Commissioners will bring these provisions to the attention of the parties and they will be encouraged to give them more consideration than they are apt to do now.

Special Provisions in relation to the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory 1 have already made reference to the Constitutional limitations on the Commonwealth’s power to legislate in the field of industrial relations. However, it is not limited in this manner in respect of the mainland Territories - the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory. Even so, the powers of the Commission in these 2 Territories are limited by the Act and by the Northern Territory (Administration) Act and the Seat of Government (Administration) Act. In effect, in relation to the Territories the Commission has power to settle industrial disputes as distinct from its power elsewhere in Australia which is to settle interstate industrial disputes.

This means that even as to employees in the 2 Territories the Commission may only settle disputes which involve persons working in an industry in the Constitutional sense of that word. The High Court has held on a number of occasions that certain work is not ‘industrial’ in this sense. The most recent of these decisions has been the Firefighters Case (44 ALJR 391). One of the results of this has been that the Commission has no jurisdiction to settle disputes involving firemen employed in the Australian Capital Territory.

In its consideration of the decision of the High Court, the Government has decided that no longer will the jurisdiction of the Commission in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory be limited to dealing with industrial disputes. The Government sees no reason why disputes involving- persons employed in these Territories, whether they are. in an industry or not, should not be capable of being brought before the Commission.

Therefore, the Commonwealth proposes to amend the Act so as to provide that disputes as to all persons employed’ in the 2 mainland Territories should come within the scope of the Act: In providing for this, however, the Government does not propose that there should be interference with any existing arbitral arrangements applying in these Territories by virtue of legislation other than the Conciliation and Arbitration Act.

Problems created by the case of Moore v Doyle

For some time close consideration has been given to the problems created for organisations of employers and employees and therefore for the whole system of conciliation and arbitration in this country oy the Commonwealth Industrial Court Case of Moore v Doyle (15 FLR 59). The essential problem that emerges from this case is that officials of Federal organisations have been elected to office by persons who do not belong to the organisation registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act but belong to a State-registered body which is not one and the same as the State branch of the Federal organisation.

The case has created serious problems for union and employer bodies. The decision has implications for the very standing in law of such organisations registered under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act and State industrial legislation. One of these implications is that many officials of organisations may be now, and as a result of elections in the future, invalidity in office.

The complete solution to this requires both Commonwealth and State legislation. For the present, however, it is important that the Commonwealth itself should lake legislative action. Implications of the Court’s observations have been under; consideration by a working party formed under the auspices of the National Labor Advisory Council. On this working party are represented my own Department, the Attorney-General’s Department, State officials and representatives of the employers and the ACTU.

The problems thrown up by Moore v Doyle are extremely complex and a total solution is yet to emerge. However, some preliminary steps can be taken by the Commonwealth towards protecting officials of registered organisations. The Govern ment’s consideration of this matter is continuing with a view to the development of more comprehensive solutions prior to the introducing of legislation in the next session of Parliament.

The matters on which the Government has decided to take action can be categorised as being measures to restrict opportunities to exploit the problems highlighted by Moore v Doyle - and i.i another case Steuart v Oliver - by placing some limitations on challenges to elections in organisations under section 141 of the Act. That section is one which permits members of organisations to have the Court order that officials of organisations carry out the rules of such bodies. The section can be used and has been used in connection with the election of officials in organisations.

The Government proposes to legislate to place a time limit on the taking of actions under section 141 in relation to elections for offices not conducted under Part IX, i.e., under the control of the Registrar. The Government also proposes to legislate so as to provide that elections conducted in that manner cannot be challenged at all under section 141. We also propose to legislate so that a past election in any organisation cannot be challenged under section 141 unless that challenge is lodged within a specified time after the proposed amending legislation comes into operation.

We are also giving close attention to a further proposal, namely to allow a registered organisation to include in its membership persons not engaged in an industry or an industrial pursuit as long as they are engaged in functions which are similar to those performed by those persons in the organisation who are engaged in an industry or an industrial pursuit.

Compulsory Unionism

Earlier in my statement, 1 indicated the Government’s grave concern at the recent and continuing efforts by some trade unions to bring about compulsory unionism in this country. The Government and, I believe, the community are opposed to compulsory, unionism. We will amend the provisions of the Act relating to registered organisations to prevent unions from enforcing compulsory unionism. We will legislate to make it clear that:

  1. only voluntary associations will bc entitled to registration under the Act;
  2. only registered organisations will have the right lo act on behalf of groups of employees and employers;
  3. registered organisations will be entitled to represent members of the organisation before the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission where the organisation is a party to a dispute and in proceedings before the Industrial Court;
  4. an employee who is not a member of a registered organisation will be entitled to represent himself in any disputes to which he is a party;
  5. an employee, although entitled to join a registered organisation, will not be required to do so.

Steps will also be taken to ensure that no threat, duress or intimidation is used to induce a person to join a registered organisation; that an employer shall not dismiss an employee or prejudice him in his employment by reason of the circumstance that he is not a member of a registered organisation; and that a registered organisation or its officials or agents shall not by threat, duress or intimidation seek to induce an employer to dismiss an an employee or prejudice him in his employment solely because he is not a member of a registered organisation, we will also amend section 5 of the Act to further protect a person who is dismissed or is threatened with dismissal because he is a member of a registered organisation and will remove anomalies in that section.

Secret Ballots

Earlier in this statement I drew attention to the alarming increase in industrial stoppages. The Government believes that too often there are circumstances when “the rank and file of union membership is not consulted before strike action is determined and are not given an opportunity to express views on the issues involved or the course of action determined by officials.

It considers that there is a need to strengthen the present provisions of the Act which enables the Commission to hold a secret ballot of members of an organisation where it thinks their views ought to be ascertained to assist the prevention or settlement of an industrial dispute. The present requirement of the Act that there be an industrial dispute considerably restricts the Commission’s power to order a ballot where one might be desirable - for example, where a dispute is confined to a particular plant or undertaking.

The Government proposes to amend the Act to provide that the Commission may order a secret ballot if it thinks that the views of members or of a section or class of members of an organisation or of a branch of an organisation ought to be ascertained with a view to averting a ban, limitation or restriction on the performance of work in accordance with an award. This will enable the Commission to order a ballot if it thinks fit in circumstances such as I have mentioned. The Government has also decided to provide that the Commission’s power to order a secret ballot may be exercised by a presidential member rather than by a bench of 3 members, as at present. There will also be more effective protective provisions for the conduct of a ballot along the lines now provided in Part IX of the Act - officially conducted elections for office bearers.


This Government has consistently held the view that sanctions are an essential feature of our system of conciliation and arbitration. Nothing that has been put before the Government has shaken this view. Australia’s system of industrial arbitration is a unique part of our federal heritage of which we should be proud. All the major political parties should be zealous in attempting to preserve its essential features. The central element of our system is that industrial disputes as to remuneration and other conditions of work should be the subject of settlement by an impartial tribunal, the decision of which shall have the force of law. Arbitration is a form of legislation. No law can be effective unless it is enforceable. No law can be enforceable unless there be a sanction for its breach. Any system of industrial relations such as ours which provides for industrial awards to regulate with the force of law the relation between employers and employees and the conditions under which workers may be employed must also provide judicial support for these awards to have legal force. The Australian system aims to prevent direct action in industrial disputes, by providing for “conciliation and arbitration. The basis of the sanctions is that the terms of awards must be capable of being upheld at law. Awards of the Commission grant benefits but they also place obligations upon the parties. Employers are bound to apply the provisions of awards to their employees. Both unions and employers are bound to observe the settlement of the disputes which awards bring about.

These principles are so clear as to be self-evident. That they are so is proved by the fact that since 1904 sanctions in varying forms have been a feature of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. They have been maintained by governments of all political persuasions. When the Labor Government was asked in 1947 to remove the sanctions from the Act, the then AttorneyGeneral, the late Dr Evatt, said that the Government, ‘rejected suggestions that all existing disciplinary powers of the court itself should be eliminated’. (House of Representatives, Hansard, 12th March 1947, p. 551.) There are sanctions provisions in State industrial legislation. Up to the time the Labor Party went out of office in New South Wales in 1965, it resisted efforts to have such provisions removed from the Industrial Arbitration Act. We hear a great deal of clamour for the abolition of sanctions but it would seem that those who join in this campaign certainly do r.ot mean all sanctions should be abolished - merely sanctions against the trade unions. They conveniently ignore the fact that the sanctions provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act guarantee to employees that they can enforce the provisions of awards. It would seem, therefore, that many of those who advocate the abolition of sanctions against unions wish to bring about a situation in which they can apply economic coercion in support of their vested interests to the detriment of their fellow workers and the community at large. The trade union movement in this country wields great power - power which derives from its entrenched participation in the free enterprise system. This Government does not wish to see a weak trade union movement bur, by the same token, it wishes to ses a balance of power between employers and unions in the settlement of industrial disputes. Everyone should be equal before the law.

Successive Ministers for Labour have emphasised that the sanctions provisions of the Act are intended as a last resort to be used when all reasonable steps have been taken to settle disputes by conciliation and. if needs be, by arbitration. That the Government’s policy is clearly to place the main emphasis in the legislation on the prevention and settlement of disputes by conciliation and arbitration . is evidenced by the amendments which were made to the Act in 1970. Moreover, those amendments indicated the Government’s willingness to he flexible in the matter of sanctions. The Government has been prepared to discuss the sanctions issue with the trade union movement and employers at various times since early 1969. This clearly indicates its considerable patience over this issue. Government policy on sanctions does not emerge from any desire by the Government to engage in confrontation with the trade union movement. The Government has noted with interest that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) both recently have indicated that they support the principle that there should be industrial sanctions in some form. The sanctions provisions of the Act have been described, not on this side of the House, as vicious and discriminatory. I reject both of these descriptions. It is said that Australia is the only country in the Western world with a system of industrial sanctions. This ignores the fact that in many other countries there are industrial sanctions. They are on the statute book in New Zealand. As recently as last year, special sanctions were enacted in that country in connection with a maritime strike. There are penalties for the contravention of collective agreements in countries where a collective bargaining system operates. These include Canada, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway and Israel. While the mechanics of sanctions may differ from country to country and as between systems, their existence is fundamental to a society which values and relies onthe rule of law.

The Government proposes to strengthen section 32a of the Act by stressing that the first obligation of a presidential member in dealing with a notification to him under that section will be to bring about a cessation of the conduct which has given rise to the notification. If he cannot achieve this, he will be required to issue a certificate unless he is clearly of the view that a prompt settlement of the dispute is likely. The Government has decided that there should be no changes in the level of penalties provided by section 119 of the Act. Beyond this, I should add that the Government currently has under review all of the other sections of the Act which provide for penalties. These penalties cover a wide range of matters and most of them have been in the Act for many years. The results of this review will be made known in the next session of Parliament.

Industrial Court Fines

Let me make 3 points about the Government’s attitude towards the payment of fines imposed on unions by the Commonwealth Industrial Court.

  1. Several unions have not paid fines totalling $37,950 imposed on them by the Court under the sanctions provisions of the Act which operated untilJune 1970. These fines were legally imposed and the Government expects the unions concerned to honour their obligations to pay them.
  2. Fines totalling $10,200 have been imposed on unions by the Court under the legislation which came into operation in June 1970. An amount of S6.000 has been paid. The Government will take action immediately under the enforcement provisions of the legislation, through the AttorneyGeneral’s Department, to ensure that the balance of S4.200 is collected. As a first step in this process, the unions concerned will be immediately given a period of 14 days in which to pay the fines.
  3. The Government will ensure that all future fines imposed under the sanctions provisions of the Act are collected.

Other Amendments

Other amendments the Government will make to the Act are as follows:

  1. amendment of section 145 to require up to a maximum of 3 months’ written notice of resignation of membership of an organisation addressed to the officials designated in the rules of the organisation;
  2. amendment, of section 58 to enable awards to be made allowing for the unlimited accumulation of sick leave. This should be of considerable significance in reducing time lost in industry through unauthorised work absences;
  3. amendment of section 188a to provide that the fee for furnishing a copy of the rules of an organisation be prescribed by regulation;
  4. strengthening of the provisions of the Act in relation to the Arbitration Inspectorate of my Department which is responsible for ensuring that awards made by the Commission are enforced. This will also assist towards our aim of ratifying 1LO Convention No. 81- The Labour Inspection Convention, 1947;
  5. development of the existing provisions for the granting of financial assistance to persons involved in litigation before the Commonwealth Industrial Court under sections 140 and 141 of the Act where it can be established that a person is personally responsible for costs.


In this review of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, the Government has taken an objective, balanced and constructive approach with a view to balancing and strengthening the effectiveness of the conciliation and arbitration system. The system is an integral part of Australia’s industrial and social framework. The Government believes that what it is proposing will make a significant improvement in industrial relations in this country.

The Government provides the institutional frame work. The effectiveness of the legislation and the system provided by it must depend on the good sense and goodwill of all parties, in particular the employers and the unions. The system will work as well as the parties allow it. to work.

In this, all parties, including the Government, have their respective responsibilities. By this statement foreshadowing its intentions, the Government has indicated how it will discharge its responsibility in the interests of the Australian people. This statement precedes the introduction of draft legislation to the Parliament. As such, it will provide the opportunity for the development of an informed public mind.

Other related Commonwealth legislation for example, the Public Service Arbitration Act and the Coal Industry Act will now be examined in the light of what I have indicated in this statement. As the need to do so arises, there will be consultations by the Government with interested parties. I commend the statement to honourable members. I present the following paper:

Conciliation and Arbitration Act - Ministerial Statement, 7th December 1971.’

Motion (by Mr Wentworth) proposed:

That the House take note of the paper.

Suspension of Standing Orders

Motion (by Mr Lynch) - by leave - agreed to:

That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the honourable member for Hindmarsh speaking for a period not exceeding 65 minutes.

Mr Clyde Cameron:

– The speech delivered by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) must be seen as a review of the Government’s capacity or otherwise to handle industrial relations. In this sense it must also be seen as an admission of miserable failure to understand and resolve the issues that are at stake. It must also serve as notice of an early election next year, with the Government deliberately creating industrial unrest for political purposes in order to deflect public opinion from the real issues, which are rising prices and massive unemployment. There can be no doubt about who is to blame for the fact that our industrial laws have failed and are out of date. The blame must be placed squarely on the shoulders of those who have held control of the Parliament for the past 22 years - the Liberal and Country Party Government. It is they who have had the power to make workable laws - and it is they who have failed to do so - since 1949.

Just as the Government has failed to understand and solve industrial relations in the past, so it will fail in the future should the people of Australia be foolish enough to re-elect this inept and indecisive Government at next year’s election. The Government has always displayed a general disregard for the welfare of the 4i million men and women employees of the nation’s workforce. It is this failure to understand the position of the working man that is preventing the Government from distinguishing between cause and effect. The Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) does not seem to realise that demands for increased wages are really caused by rising prices. The Government does not seem to realise that when sales tax is increased the price of the goods affected is increased not only by the full amount of the sales tax but also by an additional mark up for profit. For 22 years this Government has maintained its stubborn indifference to the inflationary effect of resale price maintenance. It was not until the Australian Council of Trade Unions succeeded in forcing Dunlop Australia Ltd to abolish resale price maintenance against Bourke’s store in Melbourne that the Prime Minister was forced, unwillingly, to act against its inflationary effect upon the economy.

For 22 years this Liberal-Country Party Government has watched our conciliation and arbitration machinery slowly grind to a stage of near collapse before bothering to take its first half-hearted step towards ascertaining the causes of that collapse. Even at this late stage we are offered no more than a speech designed to hoodwink the country into believing that the Government, whose policies have caused the current collapse, should be entrusted with reforming the system. Some of the proposals outlined by the Minister are quite laudable, but one would need to see how they will appear in Bill form before one could take the risk of indicating support for them at this stage. Some of these proposals which, at first blush, appear to be reasonable and to be of some advantage include broadening the qualifications of a presidential member so that persons other than lawyers can be appointed as presidential members. I would like to see economists, sociologists or somebody of that nature appointed.

The Government says it will strengthen the law protecting employees and unionists against victimisation. This is a law that has been crying out for attention for years, ever since the 1959 Gietzelt case in which the Miscellaneous Workers Union was involved. The Government says it will alter the law to enable unions to register rules requiring union members to give written notice of resignation. This is another case that has been crying out for correction ever since the Administrative and Clerical Officers Association case was determined by the Commonwealth Industrial Court in 1966. The Government is going to strengthen the inspectorate. I am pleased to hear that but I would like to see what it does with relation to that before I express full agreement for what is proposed. It is going to upgrade the conciliators. I do not know whether this means it is going to upgrade the conciliators or downgrade some of the conciliation commissioners. It will be interesting to see the real nature of this proposal before one commits oneself to support of it. It will expedite the making of orders, which is good if it means what it says. The Government will extend the industrial powers of the Act to cover the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, which is good. The Government will attempt to correct the anomalies caused by Moore and Doyle, but it will not succeed because these anomalies cannot be fully corrected, by the Commonwealth alone, although the Minister, to be fair to him, acknowledged that, until there is complementary legislation from the 4 State parliaments which will have to be involved.

The Government will alter the law regarding the challenge of elections that have been conducted by the Registrar. This is good and long overdue. The Government will stipulate that a challenge to an election conducted under union rules shall be made within a specified time. Depending, of course, upon what the specified time is, that is a good amendment and would have to be supported. The Government intends to wipe out of the Act the limitation now placed upon the accumulation of sick leave. That is an excellent idea and should have been adopted years ago. There is no doubt that the number of man days lost because people are not prepared to see accumulated sick leave go down the drain is now quite astronomical. If people were allowed to accumulate sick leave indefinitely or, after a period, were paid in cash for accumulated leave they are not likely to take, this must have a beneficial effect upon industry generally. The Government proposes to limit the right of lawyers to appear in conciliation proceedings, which again is an excellent idea.

On the other hand, the Government proposes to alter the law to give it the right to intervene in reference and appeal cases so as to keep arbitrators under the thumb of the Government, lt means that any decision given by a conciliation arbitrator that runs contrary to Government policy will be appealed against and the Government, with the full force and majesty of the law, will intervene on behalf of the employer. But worse than that is the innuendo or the suggestion - I hope it is no more than a suggestion - that where parties enter into industrial agreements under the auspices of a conciliation arbitrator, these will also be subject to appeal with the Government intervening before the Commission. Then it proposes also to give protection to ticket dodgers by the deregistration of unions which force those who benefit from union activity to pay their share of the cost and to fine an employer who seeks to prevent or to settle a dispute by dismissing a free rider and to allow non-unionists access to the award making process of the Commission. I cannot understand this. The Government itself says that nobody is entitled to get the benefit of medical benefit funds or health funds unless he joins a medical benefit fund; and yet here it says that a person can get the benefits of trade unionism without paying anything at all.

The Government proposes moreover to allow the dual registration of persons engaged in similar industries. Whatever the word ‘similar’ eventually will turn out to mean, goodness only knows, because like the words ‘public interest’ it will be someting that will take a fair bit of defining. I can see that people who work as labourers in a winery will be entitled to join either the Australian Workers Union, the Liquor and Allied Trades Union, the Miscellaneous Workers Union or perhaps even the Builders Labourers Federation. One could go through the whole gamut of the kinds of people who could be covered by that kind of an alteration to the registration procedure. We could have people joining all sorts of unions which they are now not entitled to join. I hope it does not mean what the Minister’s speech would entitle one to suspect that it does mean because that will result in utter chaos.

Secret ballots, the Minister says, will be only marginally affected by the proposed legislation because he admits that there is provision already in the Act which allows for secret ballots to be ordered by the Commission at any time it likes. The Act even provides that there shall be 6 months imprisonment for anybody who attempts to impede the taking of a secret ballot. What more power should be needed than the power already in the Act is beyond my comprehension and 1 will be surprised to see how this works. The Minister’s speech skirted around the subject of political strikes. The Government proposes to use another section of the Constitution to deal with this matter and it will be very interesting indeed to see what new fields of Commonwealth power might be opened up in this area. It may be that the Government will find that it has opened a Pandora’s box here and that some of the things it seeks to achieve will not be possible and that others that it did not want to achieve will be possible. How on earth it is possible, for example, to use that power to stop workers under a State award from going on strike for more social services? Social services surely cannot be regarded as part of the Commonwealth’s trade and commerce powers, and therefore I think the Minister will find that a lot of thinking will need to be done before an amendment of this kind will be made feasible.

It is proposed to retain the abrasive and totally discredited strike penalties of the Act providing for a SI. 000 on an individual or organisation. Section 32a will be amended to make it mandatory for a presidential member of the Commission to issue a prosecution certificate against any union that refuses to call off a strike, no matter how justified the strike may be. Remember that the Act will also be amended to prevent the presidential member from having any right to conciliate. He cannot, when he brings the parties together to hear a section 32a application, attempt to conciliate. He has to arbitrate, and if the union says that it intends to stay on strike, he will be obliged by the mandatory provisions of the Act immediately to issue a prosecution certificate and the matter would then go to the Industrial Court for prosecution . The Minister’s intention to collect within 14 days the $4,200 still outstanding must guarantee that there will be a dispute over this. There is an innuendo in the Ministers speech that in future whenever penalties are imposed the unions concerned will be given no more than 14 days in which to pay those penalties. It will be interesting, however, to see just what the Minister intends to do to implement this.

Hie disputes settlement procedures, which the Minister said he felt disappointed about, have been adopted in far more awards and agreements than he appears to be aware of. There are scores of awards, agreements and consent awards in which the settlement procedure clauses have now been introduced. It is doubtful whether some of them are valid - those that have been registered since 24th June last year, when the new legislation came in and which required presidential certification for anything that resembled a bans clause - but the fact still remains that many awards and agreements have incorporated in them today these settlement of disputes procedures. These procedures will not work. I said at the time they were first proposed, that they would not work and the reason they will not work is that there is not proper protection against the victimisation of shop stewards and union delegates on the job. It is too easy nowadays to victimise a shop steward, and unless a shop steward is free to have a face to face confrontation with his employer it is not possible for him to be a representative spokesman for his employees. 1 can see - the Minister virtually suggested it - that it will not be long before the settlement of disputes procedure clauses which now rest upon the mutual acceptance of them by both parties, will be put into the awards and agreements arbitrarily by the Commission, and this is when the trouble will start.

What we want to know is: Where is the legislation to correct the defects of the present law? Why must Parliament be content wilh a mere recital of the all too evident events that so clearly confirm the failure of the present system. When did the Government first discover that the system was not functioning as it should? When did it commence its review of the system’/ These are questions that I have had on the notice paper for months and to which I still have not received answers. But the answers should be easy to give. The Government ought to know when it first discovered that the Act was not functioning and it ought to know when it started to review the present system to see what could be done. Either the Government does not know or it is going to keep it a dark secret for some time yet. If the Government had observed the need for reform at the time when nearly every other section of the community first became aware of its defects, why did it not act at least 10 years ago? Why has it been content merely to play politics with such a complex and sensitive area of government responsibility as industrial relations when the prosperity of the whole nation depends upon sensible solution of the problem?

And why has the Minister ignored, as his predecessor ignored, the warnings of the President of the Arbitration Commission, Sir Richard Kirby? For 2 years in succession now, Sir Richard has offered to confer with the Government on the question of strike penalties and on the operation of the Act generally. The Government has refused even to talk to him. His predecessor dodged the question throughout last year. He ignored 3 questions which I placed on the notice paper, saying firstly that he would not tell me who he talks to and then saying that if he did he would not tell me what they talked about. But according to the President’s report the Minister did not talk to him at all. So it was not from answers to questions on notice that I finally got the answer I was seeking. It came from the President himself. I doubt very much that the present Minister has yet spoken to him or if he has he apparently has not taken much notice of the President. The refusal to seek the advice of a man with so much background in this field invites only one conclusion, that is that the Government’s only interest in industrial affairs is in finding a way to create an industrial confrontation, to cause a breakdown in industrial relations, in the hope that this will create the right climate for a fictitious political campaign on the issue of industrial law and order.

Even employers are starting to see through this device. Why else would the director of the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures, Mr Ian Macphee, have felt compelled to issue a warning last month that an election fought on industrial issues would lead to even greater social and industrial disarray? ls this government, which has provided the underlying causes of industrial unrest? Of course it is not. This is not government. This is chaos. The Government has failed to use economic planning to prevent rising prices or to prevent unemployment, which is now expected to reach 120,000 by early next year. Rising prices, are the prime cause of union demands for a wage rate that will enable employees to prevent a catastrophic decline in their living standards. The Government ignores the cause to deal with the effects. Mass unemployment, it seems, is the Government’s only solution for dealing with industrial unrest. I say that such a policy is a disgrace to a modern community. A Government that has nothing better to offer than a continuation of industrial strife and which then tries to blame unions for inflation, deserves to be thrown out of office, and that will surely be the fate of this Government no matter when the election is held.

Will anyone deny that the real causes of current industrial unrest are rising prices and the intolerable rate of taxation that falls upon the family man? I challenge the Prime Minister to draw up a household budget showing how he would meet the basic needs of living in today’s so-called affluent society or bringing up a family to have decent opportunities in that society, on the present average weekly earnings of $89.70. The last quarter’s average weekly wage of $89 would not pay for the last dinner that the Prime Minister had at Chequers’, much less pay for the food, clothing, school books, fares, medical expenses, house rent and hire purchase payments that the average family man has to find every day of the week, each week of the year.

Mr Daly:

– Or a new dress.

Mr Clyde Cameron:

– Or a new dress, as my friend the honourable member for Grayndler says. The condition of the 2 million-odd employees whose income is less than the average weekly wage is now quite intolerable. I am permitted to make only a passing reference to the one million pensioners and others on fixed incomes who receive less than one quarter of the average weekly wage. However, I want the Parliament to understand quite clearly that well over 60 per cent of all employees in Australia are receiving much less than the Statistician’s average weekly wage which, for the year 1970-71 - that is for the whole 12-month period - was only $84.70. But always remember that this figure that the Statistician uses includes all overtime and supplements and is arrived at after lumping all of the under $50-a-week bracket of employees in with company managers, cabinet ministers, judges, top public servants, business executives and even the Prime Minister on his ‘paltry’ $800 a week salary. It is all thrown into the pool to help arrive, at what is the average weekly wage. The Statistician’s average weekly ( earnings figure grossly distorts the true picture as it actually relates to nearly 3 million employees. How, indeed, do these employees, who receive only $50, $60 or $70 a week, cope with rising prices? They can get no wage adjustment until their unions are able to prove to the Arbitration Commission that prices have already risen. Until they can do that they can get no further rises in wages. They never receive wage increases in anticipation of rising prices. Clearly, therefore, increased wages are not the cause of inflation; they merely reflect it. To refer to the economic danger of wage induced inflation associated with industrial unrest, which according to the Minister is the real cause of inflation, is sheer nonsense. He says nothing about inflation associated with restrictive trade practices, excessive profits, crippling taxation and exorbitant interest charged and the many other things for which the working man is not responsible. He says nothing about that at all. He blames the whole of inflation on rising wages.

To accuse the Arbitration Commission of granting excessive wage increases is to ignore the facts. What are the facts? Has the Government not observed the steady increase in over-award wages? Of course it has. It has observed it and complained about it. But doss not this clearly indicate that the awards of the Commission are below the market or going rates of wages? How else docs one explain the fact that employers are willing to grant higher wages than the minima fixed by the Commission? Union pressure, says the Minister. Well, yes, of course, union pressure, otherwise they would get nothing. But what motivates union pressure? The motivation almost invariably comes from the factory floor rather than from the union office; and it springs from the outcome of the hopeless task of the ordinary worker trying to live decently on a fixed wage, while prices and taxation are constantly rising. Every time there is an increase in wages there is an increase in taxation. So the worker is competing with rising prices as well as with rising taxation. To put it in another way, while wages go up the staircase prices always go up the elevator. Strikes - and I use the term the Minister talked about, ‘the tip of the iceberg’ - are but the lip of the industrial relations iceberg that shows above the surface. They are symptons of injustice and when they occur the cause must be examined and eradicated.

Dr Ian Sharp, the Industrial Registrar, and perhaps the most knowledgeable man this country has produced in the field of industrial relations, recently told an industrial seminar at Armidale that he was convinced that strikes are rarely inspired by union secretaries, but are nearly always the result of pressures from the mcn at the work site. 1 was secretary of the biggest union in South Australia and I can speak from personal experience when 1 say that I agree entirely wilh what Dr Sharp says. It is simply not true to say that union secretaries can force unionists to take on a fight-to-the-finish strike unless there is first of all a deep feeling of grievance at the floor level. Strikes mean sacrifice. They can lead to financial ruin and even starvation. Talk about strike penalties! The strike is the heaviest penalty a worker can inflict upon himself. lt carries crippling financial and social penalties.

The Prime Minister may succeed in fooling himself into believing that strike ballots are all that are needed to stop or settle disputes, but non-one wilh a knowledge of the facts will gainsay that a compulsory strike ballot would almost invariably produce an affirmative vote for strike action-

Mr Reynolds:

– Endorsement of it.

Mr Clyde Cameron:

– Endorsement of it, exactly, as my friend says, and thus have the effect of hampering rather than helping in settlement. With all the strikes that have occurred since the Liberals last came to power in Canberra in 1949, the Government has not once seen any merit in putting to use the provisions contained in section 45 of the existing Act. These allow for the Commission to order a strike ballot at any time it deems fit to do so.

Mr Hurford:

– The Minister knows it.

Mr Clyde Cameron:

– Of course the Ministers knows it, but he is not being honest when he says that this new amendment will produce the panacea for all our trouble.

Mr Hurford:

– He thinks the strike will become legal.

Mr Clyde Cameron:

– That is a good interjection. Perhaps he thinks a strike will become legal. Of course that must be the outcome if a strike ballot conducted under the auspices of the court produces a result in favour of a strike.

Mr Reynolds:

– No wonder they call it lynch law.

Mr Clyde Cameron:

– That is another good interjection. In fact the only occasion on which the court has used this section to conduct a secret ballot was in 1929 in the timber workers strike when, in answer to the question ‘Are you prepared to work under the existing award of the court dated 23rd January 1929?’ the strikers voted: Yes, 732; no, 5,318 and informal, 43. No wonder the Minister looks surprised. No wonder his surprise has now turned to an expression of disappointment when he realises that this is not the answer. But what happens when employees vote for strike action? Will the Government accept that decision? Will it allow that decision to be over-ruled without holding another ballot? If it will, what is the point of the Government’s case? What is the whole point of the exercise? Does the Government believe that a strike ballot will end the Atlantean bus dispute? Does it not realise that the existing rules of the Bus Employees Union allow members to demand a vote of all members whenever it is asked for? Does it not realise that, in fact, this is exactly what happened on 29th November when, in response to a petition of only a handful of members for a vote in order to test the wishes of the rest of the union, the unions members voted 3,440 to 12 in, favour of refusing to operate one-man buses.

Mr Robinson:

– A secret ballot?

Mr Clyde Cameron:

– Of course it was by show of hands and, of course, if a secret ballot were conducted by the court there would have been some variation in those figures but it would not really have altered the result. Plenty of unions have conducted secret ballots to decide whether their members are in favour of strikes. The Vehicle Builders Union recently had a secret ballot and the union members overwhelmingly supported a strike. The honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Birrell), a former secretary of the Vehicle Builders Union, can verify what I say as being correct. I know of some shop stewards who will welcome strike ballots because their complaint at the moment is that paid officials are sabotaging their desire to strike. They want to strike and they say it is the union officials who are stopping them. Will they not welcome the idea of secret ballots so that they can force their officials to support them whenever they secure a majority of votes in a ballot? If the decision to strike or not to strike is to be decided by ballot of the rank and file members of unions there will be more strikes, not fewer.

When an arbitration system fails to dispense wage justice, employees have but one solution, and that is to strike, lt remains the only weapon that is left to the 4.5 million Australians who have nothing but their labour to sell. If the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) really wants to know the cause of industrial tensions, let him consider what Mr Justice Powers said when delivering judgment in the basic wage case in 1921. That was 50 years ago, but the position has not changed one iota. The learned judge said:

One of the Court’s functions is to prevent industrial disputes. To prevent industrial unrest the cause must be removed. One of the chief causes of discontent is the misery suffered by those I refer to–

He was referring to men on the low wage level - and unemployment, which is more difficult to meet. Another cause of widespread discontent is that this Court-

I ask honourable members to note these words - can only make the workers share the losses in times of depression, and it has no power to increase wages in times of prosperity when enormous profits are made in some industries. Industrial peace can only be secured if the causes of the discontent and unrest are removed.

The Minister referred to the gaining of the 40-hour week, paid annual leave and sick leave. I remind him that the 40-hour week, paid annual leave, paid sick leave, payment of full wage compensation during incapacity, paid public holidays and long service leave were secured originally because of strike action. The Arbitration Court acted only after the men were able to prove that they were strong enough to secure these benefits without arbitration. It is a truism that the working man will get from arbitration only what he is strong enough to take anyway. There have not always been strike sanctions, as the Minister tried to suggest. It is simply not true to say that there have always been strike sanctions in the Act. For more than 20 years the Act operated exceedingly well without strike sanctions.

I have referred to the occasion when a judge said that the court can only make workers share in the evil effects of depression and cannot give to them the benefits of great prosperity. Is this not the very thing that happened in the great depression of the 1930s when Chief Justice Dethridge ordered a 20 per cent reduction in shearers’ rates when the then current award had another year or more to run? Is it not also true that the system is now being used to prevent employees from getting the maximum that the present market will yield? The Minister spoke of the economic consequences of court decisions. 1 remind him that there was a time when, under the Arbitration Act, a judge was required to look at the economic conditions of a particular industry when awarding increases or decreases in wages. When in 1930 the Scullin Government sought to remove that provision from the Act in order to prevent Chief Justice Dethridge from reducing the shearers’ rates on the grounds that the pastoral industry could not afford it and it was announced that the matter had been raised in and presented to the Parliament by means of a Bill, Chief Justice Dethridge said, in effect: T do not care what the Parliament does. It can remove this provision if it wants to do so but I will still have regard to the economic condition of the pastoral industry’.

How can the Government seek to impose upon the court the proposition about which it is now talking? Of course the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission will have regard to the economic consequences but how is anyone to prove whether it has done so or not because a statement by the Commission to the effect that it has done so becomes conclusive evidence of the fact and there is no way by which the Government can countermand it. The Government cannot go to the High Court to get an order for mandamus because the High Court would have to be exercising arbitral powers in the definition of economic matters before it could grant the order. Since the High Court judges do not know very much about the law in some respects, because they will turn the law upside down every now and again, how on earth can the Government expect them, even if they did have arbitral powers, to decide what the economic consequences of a decision of the Commission might be? It is only window dressing. It is an attempt to try to bluff the Commission into refusing wage claims. Or does the Government intend that the Commission shall take as conclusive evidence of truth everything that the Government says about the economic consequence of a decision. Is the Government saying: ‘If you do not agree with what our counsel submits is the economic position your action will be ultra vires the Act and therefore will have to be set aside’? Just how does the Government intend to use this strange power it is now talking about? 1 inform the Minister that nobody loves’ a strike for strike’s sake. The very need to strike is deplored most of all by union officials and by rank and file trade unionists. Some judges, some politicians and some newspaper editors behave as though workers indulge in strikes for the pure love of a row. They forget that when men cease work their wages also cease. There is a need for wages whether a man is working or not. They forget that the landlord still holds out his hand for the rent. The hire purchase companies still demand their weekly instalments. The grocer, the baker, the butcher and the milkman must be paid; and, unless payment is forthcoming, there will be no food for the employee’s family.”The family’s needs do not diminish just because the breadwinner is on strike.

Strikers cannot possibly be put in the position of ordinary violators of the law. Even when it is true that they are breaking a statute, the psychology of criminality is entirely absent from their action. Yet in Australia, the striker is automatically a criminal. Australia holds the disgraceful distinction of being the only English speaking country in the whole world where the right to strike can become an offence punishable by heavy fines and imprisonment. It is the only country in the socalled democratic world which permits a judge to fine an ordinary worker $1,000 or $500 a day for each day he is on strike. There is certainly no other country in the whole world, thank goodness, which has a statute such as in Australia which permits a judge to impose an aggregate penally of $2 12m on the 28,000 employees of General Motors-Holden’s Pty Ltd should they ever repeat their 15 day strike of 1964 while at the same time limiting the penalty far a 15 day lockout of 28,000 workers to a maximum of $7,500. So, the penalty on the 28,000 workers would be $212m and the penalty on General Motors-Holden’s pty Ltd for the same offence in reverse would be 87,500. Is this justice? It is outrageous that such a thing as this is allowed to continue in a country that claims to be a democracy.

How can the rights of man be properly respected in a society which tolerates this kind of attitude to labour? There has always been a deep seated conviction in communities which call themselves civilised that in the last resort men should be free to refuse to work under conditions that are repugnant to them. I repeat that the right to strike is the first right of a free man. All over the world, where any love of liberty survives the despotic tendencies of feudalism or monopoly capitalism, men cherish the right to throw down their tools in protest against some grievance too great to be borne by free men. The Minister’s own father engaged in strikes time after time because he believed that when a man had imposed upon him conditions that were insufferable he should have the right to strike. I wonder what he thinks of the law that is now proposed by this Government. So intense is this sentiment in the United Kingdom and in the United States that organised labour there will have no part in the system of compulsory arbitration which has become so remarkable a feature of the Australian way of life. British and American trade unions will abate no fraction of their right to strike. They refuse to entrust their freedom to a legal apparatus.

It is not often that I am able to use a quotation from a Republican President of the United States to support my own views but General Eisenhower is also on record as a defender of the right to strike. In an address to the American Federation of Labour Convention in September 1952. Eisenhower declared that he favoured the right to strike, declaring quite properly that the abolition of such a right would be the loss of freedom that was absolutely basic to democracy. He said that the contest between labour and industry cannot be abolished without abolishing economic freedom itself. President Eisenhower said:

The right of men to leave their jobs is a test of freedom. Hitler suppressed strikes. Stalin suppressed strikes. But each also suppressed freedom. There are some things worse than strikes, much worse than strikes - one of them is the loss of freedom.

Eisenhower was, of course, correct in pointing out that the hallmark of the police state is the loss of the right to strike. A man’s right over his own body is surely a basic human right. The right to withdraw his labour is the one thing that distinguishes the free man from the slave. This is a fundamental freedom. But had President Eisenhower been alive to witness the present rising level of unemployment in Australia, I am sure he would have said that unemployment is also a worse evil than strikes. He could have pointed to the aimless economic policies of the McMahon Government as causing an infinitely greater loss of production through unemployment than all the strikes put together for the last 10 years. The prospect of 120,000 unemployed by the beginning of next year will represent a 60,000 increase compared with last year. In terms of production, the increase alone represents a loss of 15 million man days compared with an estimated 3 million man days that will be lost through strike action this year. It is not the trade unions that are causing the greatest loss in productivity. The real culprits are the McMahon Government.

In terms of lost production, this country loses much more from industrial accidents and disease than from strikes. Last year 4 million man days were lost on this account. Two-thirds of this loss could have been avoided if only the Government would follow the American example of cooperating with the States in establishing a uniform method of recording the incidence and cause of industrial accidents and disease. And, having identified the cause, the Government should then seek to use the power of State and Commonwealth authorities to codify and to enforce safety requirements. Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd and several other leading employers have already effected some quite extraordinary reductions in the incidence of industrial accident. From 1950 to 1967 BHP’s accident frequency rate reduced from 50.2 per one million man hours worked to a mere 3.4, a total reduction of 93 per cent. What BHP has been able to do, every other industry could do because BHP is an industry where the element of risk to life and limb and to health is very great.

The toll of personal injury is one of (he disastrous incidents of social progress and calls for a co-ordinated response from the nation as a whole. Towards this end a Federal Labor government will act to establish mandatory occupational safety and health provisions applicable (o all employees who constitutionally can be brought within Commonwealth jurisdiction, and will assist the States to do the same in areas of State jurisdiction. A Labor Government will bring in for Commonwealth employees, and for employees in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, a Compensation Act that will guarantee to people during incapacitation the full value of their normal weekly wages. We will establish a bureau of industrial statistics to compile and record uniform statistics concerning industrial safety and the cause and incidence of industrial accident and disease in various industries in each State and Territory. With this information to guide it, a Labor government would provide research relating to occupational safety and the provision of training programmes to increase and improve personnel engaged in the field of occupational safety and health. 1 would like to see a uniform code for industrial safety equal to the best provisions to be found in the various Slate Acts. If the Arbitration Commission could be prevailed upon to include these requirements in Federal awards, and given an efficient inspectorate acting in co-operation with trade union officials to police and enforce such awards, the safety standards of many States would be upgraded so as to drastically reduce the present high accident rate in Australian industry. We will have to wait for perhaps generations before we get the Tory-crusted old gentlemen of the Upper House of South Australia to agree to any worthwhile change in the industrial safety regulations of that State. But if it could be done through the Commonwealth Commission, then at least those workers in South Australia covered by Federal awards would be guaranteed some measure of industrial protection. 1 have already said that it is estimated that nearly 4 million man-days of production is now lost through accidents and disease. It is estimated that nearly 75 per cent of this could be eliminated by government action. It is a disgraceful state of affairs that in 22 years of continuous Liberal Government in Canberra, we have not yet got uniform accident statistics. These statistics are vital in any move to cut down on the present accident rate which, in money terms alone, is now costing our country $ 1,000m in productivity each year. The Minister’s speech completely ignores the industrial safety of employees, as though the loss of 400 lives and 4 million man-days every year has nothing whatever to do with industrial relations.

Unemployment and industrial accidents are having a far greater effect on productivity than are strikes. The forgotten man of industrial relations, Sir Richard Kirby, the President of the Arbitration Commission, said in his annual report, tabled in this House only last week:

I am well aware that most Australians accept as a fact that strikes and threats of strikes havebeen increasing over recent years but I doubt if this acceptance is well based if increased population and work forces are taken into account Nevertheless although there is cause for some concern in this regard it should be remembered that the important thing for Australia as a ti adina nation is how the rest of the world with which she is competing is behaving in similar fields.

I need only quote from the 1970 figures compiled by the International Labour Organisation, to which the Minister himself alluded, to answer Sir Richard’s question as to what is happening in other parts of the world. It is said that because of industrial action Australian lost 810 man-hours for every 1,000 workers over a full 12-month period. The United States lost 1,390 manhours for every 1,000 workers, Canada lost 2,550 man-hours for every 1,000 workers and Italy, which the Minister forgot to mention altogether, lost 4,400 man-hours for every 1,000 workers. The Minister admits that there has been a worse record in other parts of the world in order to make a case for retaining the existing strike penalties, but conveniently forgets, when he puts the next record on the gramophone to tell the people listening how badly the workers of Australia are behaving and that they are losing too much time, that the total number of man-hours lost in Australia last year averaged only four-fifths of one day per person. To listen to the Minister one would think that everybody in Australia was on strike every second day.

Mr Foster:

– They are calamity howlers.

Mr Clyde Cameron:

– As the honourable member for Sturt says, Government supporters are nothing but calamity howlers. The Government’s obsession with strike sanctions has caused it to ignore these things and to treat penalties as the only end that the Government ought to consider.

Mr Birrell:

– The Government creates strikes.

Mr Clyde Cameron:

-It creates strikes. I have already said that there is not one reason why the workers want to strike just for striking’s sake. Strikes cause too much suffering to the strikers and their families. To suppress strikes is impossible in a free society. To want to do so is unforgivable. To attempt to do so has the effect of pouring petrol on a fire. Men strike because tyranny and injustice have not yet disappeared from human affairs - they have merely shifted the venue - and because the spirit of freedom still lives and will not yield even to the law when the law becomes an instrument of class oppression.

As a general rule the economic position of the individual worker is too weak for him to hold his own in the unequal contest for a fair share of what he produces. As Mr Justice Higgins said in 191 1 :

The power of the employer to withhold bread is a much more effective weapon than the power of the employee to refuse to labour.

The right to hire and lire gives to the employer an inbuilt power of discipline over every person he employs. Mr Justice Higgins once remarked on the fact that although in theory the Court had power to decrease wages as well as to increase them, every case he had ever handled had been to interfere by way of increase. Then he stated:

The reason seems to be that the employer usually needs no Court to enable him lo reduce wages - he has simply to refuse to give employment at wages which he thinks to be too high. 1 wonder what would happen if a union sought an order under section 33a in order to include in an award a clause banning or prohibiting an employer from dismissing surplus staff; I wonder whether it could get a certificate under section 32a in order to have the employer prosecuted before the Commonwealth Industrial Court if he attempted to dismiss surplus staff. During the hearing of the waterside workers case on 9th September 1919, Judge Higgins said that he adhered to the view he had expressed in the 1917 waterside workers case when he said that it was not a breach of the award for an employee to refuse to accept work if he did not like the conditions. He said that the minimum rate was the lowest rate at which an employer could employ men, but the whole areas beyond the minimum wage was open to bargaining between employers and men.

This is no longer the position in Australia. This Government treats the minimum wage as the maximum. Any attempt to bargain for something higher than the arbitrary minimum can bring a fine of $1,000 or $500 a day or even imprisonment. Although it is a long-established tenet of the common law that an agreement made under duress is unenforceable, the Prime Minister apparently sees absolutely nothing wrong with using duress to enforce the minimum wage rates arbitrarily imposed upon trade unionists. It is little use talking about the rule of law, as the Minister did when he made his speech, when the law applies repressive rules against those with only their labour to sell while the sellers of petrol, steel, tobacco, liquor, soap, frozen foods and scores of other items are free to make their own rules.

The right to strike is not merely a favour or a privilege but should be a legal right based upon natural justice. The BHP has the right to fix the price of steel and to withhold supplies if the price is not met. The medical profession fixes its own fees and has the legal right to sue those who refuse to pay. Dentists, opticians, architects and persons in like professions do the same. I have even heard of members of the legal profession fixing their own fees. I understand that only 2 or 3 weeks ago in New South Wales they increased their fees by a mere 50 per cent. Retail emporiums have the right to sell their goods at a certain price or refuse to sell them at all. Shipping companies, banks and hire purchase companies all fix their own charges for the services they provide. But no-one accuses BHP or the oil companies or the shipping cartel or the insurance companies or the doctors of violating the law when they do these things.

The right to bargain is absolutely meaningless without the right to strike. Even with this right preserved, the worker is at a decided disadvantage. I repeat what Mr Justice Higgins said:

The power of the employer to withhold bread is a much more effective weapon than the power of the employee to refuse to labour.

In the great maritime strike of 1890 it was starvation, not strike penalties, that drove the workers back to work. Starvation, and now hire purchase as well, still stands on the side of the employer.

Having defended the right to strike, let me now distinguish between striking against arbitrary awards and striking against freely negotiated voluntary agreements. But, before doing so, I want to say that the main thing in an industrial dispute is to get the parties talking to each other and to see that the talking takes place before each side takes up a fixed, unalterable position. The strike weapon should always remain the last resort, to be used only when negotiations, mediation or conciliation have broken down.

We will always need some system of compulsory conciliation and arbitration for fixing enforceable minima in wages and conditions. We need it because hundreds of thousands of employees belong to unions which, without the Commission, lack the industrial power to demand even minimum wage rates. To abolish the Arbitration Commission altogether would be to abandon more than one-half of a!l employees in Australia to the tender mercies of their employers. A Labor government will not do that. I see this country irreversibly committed to a movement towards collective bargaining under which the strong unions will negotiate industrial agreements based on specified rates above the awarded minima. A government that does not accept the inevitability of this phenomenon is just refusing to read the signs-

Mr Birrell:

– It is an ostrich.

Mr Clyde Cameron:

-It is an ostrich and is unfitted to steer the ship of state through the stormy seas of the 1970s. Collective bargaining cannot be stopped. It can, and must, be accommodated. lt is fundamental to a successful system of collective bargaining that voluntary agreements, freely negotiated, be honoured by the parties thereto. No agreement can be said to have been freely negotiated when the law stands firmly on the side of the employer in readiness to impose savage penalties against the representatives of employees whenever they refuse to accept unacceptable terms. In order that voluntary agreements may be freely negotiated, a Labor Government will repeal all penalties for strikes and lockouts against arbitral decisions of the Commission. No award could then lawfully include a clause designed to restrict the right to strike, but all other clauses of an award would remain enforceable by appropriate penalties. I repeat that all clauses of the award would be enforceable but it would be unlawful to put a clause into the award prohibiting the right to strike. There have to be sanctions on employers and employees who commit a breach of a lawful provision of an award or agreement. For example, an employer who pays less than the awarded or agreed rates, should be penalised. An employee who works for less than the awarded or agreed rate, or who breaches safety provisions of an award, ought to be penalised. Many other examples could be given to justify penalties for breach of award or agreement. But in no circumstances - no circumstances at all - should an employee be fined for striking against an arbitral decision imposed upon him against his will.

For the 10 years ending in 1969 employers in Australia committed no less than 72,084 breaches of award. Yet, legal proceedings were instituted in only 210 cases. In 1970, the Government prosecuted 8 only of the 5,957 employers who were found to be in breach of awards. In the previous year the position was even worse, when only 2 prosecutions were launched against the 5,577 employers who committed breaches of awards. This is the action of a Government, mark you, that talks so much about industrial law and order. A Labour Government will see that an efficient inspectorate is established so that all who violate a lawful provision of an award are prosecuted without fear or favour. It should not be left to the unions themselves to have to meet the cost of prosecuting employers who are in breach of their industrial obligations. This is the function of government.

With the repeal of penalties against strikes and lockouts against arbitral decisions of the Commission, both parties would then face each other across the negotiating table on equal terms. Their final decision, once approved by the union members affected should, when registered, be honoured by both sides and should carry the force of an award so that the wages and conditions of the agreement could be recoverable at law. This would provide the climate in which the ALP system of industrial relations will work. It is the Labor Party alone which can handle this situation.

We in the Labor Party have just finished a long process of devising a programme for industrial relations. Some of us have encountered obvious difficulties - myself included - on at least one occasion. But the end result of this has been the creation of a programme which will work. With any difficulties we might have encountered behind us, we are ready now to give this country an industrial system suited to the times, instead of the patchwork of proposals which the Government has now improvised. Our system will emphasise voluntary agreements. The ACTU has already declared that it will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure the observance of all agreements made under its auspices. It will use the moral sanctions of the whole trade union movement against a union that tries to repudiate a freely-negotiated industrial agreement. In this way it will be able to guarantee the kind of industrial stability that unions and employers alike have been looking for.

The ACTU has declared that it will refuse to incorporate strike penalties in any agreements made under its auspices. But it acknowledges that members of a particular union have the right to make their own agreements and these may include penalties. This will leave unions free to accept - with the agreement of their members - penalty clauses in voluntary agreements if they believe this will win them better wages and conditions. Many unions have already done this. It would be left however to the parties themselves to decide whether or not, and if so, what kind of enforcement provisions should be incorporated in agreements and to decide whether such agreements should be registered or not. There would be no statutory compulsion to force a union to make an agreement and no compulsion to force a union to register one.

To assist parties to reach agreement, there should be a panel of mediators and arbitrators of whom one can be chosen by unions and employers concerned to assist them to reach agreement in settling or preventing disputes within them independently of the Arbitration Commission. The system has worked extremely well in Canada and other countries and it ought to be tried in this country. These mediators and arbitrators are paid generous fees when chosen to act in a dispute, but are not otherwise paid at all. This means that only those who build reputations for absolute fairness are chosen to mediate or arbitrate because their engagement always depends upon their nomination by all parties to a dispute.

The general principle of honouring a voluntary agreement is one that cannot be repudiated. It is fundamental to better industrial relations that agreements should be honoured. Unions and employers have a moral obligation to abide by their agreements and I can see no reason why parties acting in good faith will object to agreements being legally enforceable. I can truthfully say that I know of no union official in the Commonwealth who will attempt to justify the repudiation of an agreement. On the contrary, of the 14 union officials attending the Launceston Conference, each and every one of them authorised me to make the public declaration on their behalf that they would honour any agreement they made under Labor’s proposal. The ACTU has never repudiated an agreement, and has always ensured the observance of agreements made under its patronage. It is a national tragedy that our industrial system has been allowed to reach a state of near collapse before anything is done to grapple with the problem.

Now let us turn lo the specific proposals foreshadowed by the Minister tonight. First of all, they will simply perpetuate the basic weaknesses of the present system. At this fundamental level, where is the originality of outlook that is needed? Where is the recognition that industrial conditions and relation have changed drastically since the last major review of the arbitration system which the Minister concedes was made more than 15 years ago? Neither is there. Worse than that, the Minister’s proposals will achieve 2 other main effects. They will create the type of industrial confrontation which the Government so clearly wants for cheap electoral purposes. They will discourage obstinate employers from negotiation. They will be instruments of repression rather than reason. Take the proposal to strengthen the provisions for the issuing of certificates under section 32a of the Act. I have already dealt with that and will say no more about it. The issuing of a certificate, by a presidential member of the Arbitration Commission is the first step towards penal action being taken by the Commonwealth Industrial Court. At present, presidential members of the Commission often refuse to issue a certificate or adjourns an application for the issuing of a certificate. The reason for this is that it clearly recognises that some strikes are based on just causes and have been brought about by the refusal of an employer to accede to just demands. To issue a certificate automatically in these circumstances could only be unjust. By adopting this flexible approach, the Commission tries to ensure that a harsh and obstinate employer cannot come running to it to protect him from the logical consequences of his own actions.

Now the Government has decided to compel the Commission to abandon its flexibility. A presidential member will only be allowed to delay the issuing of a certificate; he will not be allowed to refuse it altogether or to delay it indefinitely because of special circumstances. Knowing this, many employees will refuse to negotiate reasonably, as they will know that as long as they can hold off a settlement the Commission will have to start the processing leading to penal action against unions involved in any dispute. Thus a union may have a complaint against an obstinate employer - a complaint which the Commission would consider just. Why should that employer listen to reason when he knows that this new provision will give him automatic protection even if he treats his employees with such contempt that they are driven to strike? And, in this context, we must note that the Minister has announced that there will be no changes in the level of penalties provided by section 119 of the Act. I suppose we should at least be thankful that he has not proposed increased fines. But remember that the fine which can be imposed under this section is 31,000 per person or organisation.

Combine this with the other change, and it means that a union which is forced into industrial action by an unjust employer will be liable to the type of penalty that is envisaged by section 119 of the Act. Penal sanctions are not the answer to industrial problems. When they are applied in this way, they can only mean industrial chaos. Against this background of Government thinking, it is not surprising that the Minister has announced his intention of collecting the outstanding $4,200 in fines. He knows that this will cause further industrial chaos. He obviously wants a confrontation with the unions and is dragging out this relic of the past for that end and that end only. This is not being done to maintain law and order; it is being done to perpetuate injustice and create disorder.

If the Government thinks that industrial peace can only come about through antiunion action it is wrong. And yet we have only to turn to another section of the proposals to see that this is its stance. The Minister has announced in vague terms that the ‘voluntary nature’ of unions will be emphasised in the Arbitration Act. What he clearly has in mind is preventing unions and employers reaching voluntary agreements to ensure that all employees in business belong to a union. For the unions, this type of agreement has its undeniable validity in the fact that it wins benefits in wages and conditions for all employees and that it is reasonable that anyone who receives these benefits should be a member, unless he has compelling conscientious reasons for not doing so.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.

Mr Clyde Cameron:

– I seek leave for an extension of time of 5 minutes.


-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.

Mr Clyde Cameron:

– What will be the position of the shop assistants’ union which has recently entered into an agreement with Myers Emporium Ltd and the other emporiums? Such an agreement will be illegal because it is a straight-out form of compelling people who commence work with Myers to become members of the shop assistants’ union, otherwise they will not be employed. Both Myers and the union will be liable for prosecution under such legislation. This threatens the very system of arbitration. It is not the unions which will be destroyed by this repressive measure that the Government proposes; it is the arbitration system which will be destroyed because it cannot work unless it has within its framework registered trade unions.

The Minister’s proposal supports the right of employees to take all the benefits of union action involving financial and personal sacrifice to its members without having to contribute to that cost. We do not allow pacifists to opt out of paying any taxation that goes towards defence; or allow single people and childless couples to opt out of paying taxation used to finance child endowment and education; or permit a man who is healthy to opt out of paying taxation to meet the cost of the health scheme. But this is a proposal that is equivalent to allowing all who benefit from defence, child endowment, education and health to opt out of meeting their share of the cost of these benefits simply by expressing their disapproval of paying compulsory taxation. This also threatens the arbitration system itself. No union could exist if all employees could gain its benefits without paying union dues. The dedicated members would remain within their unions, but if deregistration is to be applied lo all unions that will refuse to carry free riders, no union of any substance will remain within the arbitration system longer than the end of next year. The arbitration system would collapse if the major unions were forced to deregister. These seem at first sight to be the most objectionable features of the Minister’s proposals. It is hard to comment on the proposal to separate the conciliation and arbitration powers of the Commission, as the Minister’s statement on this point is too vague.

It is also hard to know what to make of his plan to require the Commission to have regard to the likely national economic consequence of its awards. 1 suggest that the Minister docs not know himself, because he is vague and terribly uncertain about the whole proposal. The Constitution essentially confines it to conciliation and arbitration for the settlement of industrial disputes and incidental matters. But the High Court has already ruled that it would be absurd for the Commission to ignore the industrial, social and economic consequences of its decisions. So it is hard to set: what more the Minister is trying to achieve. Perhaps he is trying to persuade i to accept the Commonwealth Government’s statements of what the consequences of any decisions would be. If so, he would be trying to usurp the power of the Commission and replace it with award making by Government decree. I can only hope that he has nothing like this in mind.

I must mention that there is at least one favourable feature in the proposals. The Government has at last acceded to part of the ALP’s federal platform and has decided to allow persons other than lawyers to be appointed as presidential members of the Commission. Only in February of this year the then Minister for Labour and National Service said in answer to a question from me that the Government had considered the appointment of an economist to the Commission on several occasions but had not seen fit to adopt the idea. I have to congratulate the present incumbent for being able to succeed where the present Treasurer (Mr Snedden) failed when he presented the proposal to Cabinet. It is good to see that sometimes reason prevails with the Government, however slowly.

It has been said that the Australian arbitration system was born of expediency and that its many amendments have never represented anything more than expedient answers to meet ad hoc situations. The system is now nothing more than a patchwork of inconsistencies, contradictions and obsolete clauses. The whole system is crying out for attention. It has been crying out for review for years. But the Parliament will once again get up and everyone will go on Christmas holidays with still nothing done.

My question asking the Government to consider a proposal by the Industrial Registrar for the establishment of a commission of inquiry into all aspects of industrial relations has remained on the notice paper unanswered since 17th August this year. Why has the Parliament had to wait more than 3 months without being supplied with an answer to that question? ls it any wonder that we ascribe sinister motives to the Government’s inactivity? Given the kind of reform that I am advocating, Australia will have the best of both worlds. We will have the benefit of the experimentation of other countries in the system of collective bargaining, but we will retain the basic advantages that come from our system of compulsory arbitration. A weak union will always have the guarantee of the national minima fixed by arbitration, while stronger unions will be able to bargain for standards above those minima. Employers will also benefit from a system that will put an end to the industrial unrest that now exists. lt is idle to suggest that all employers are unreasonable or that the unions are never al fault. Most employers realise that great new changes are taking place in the world. They know that the old ‘master and servant’ mentality of the 19th century is giving away to an acceptance of the fact that capital cannot live without labour. They know that it is better to settle for reasonable profits than to end up with none at all. It is the responsibility of the State to insist upon a fair division of the profits of an economic enterprise between employer and employees. A fair division demands that labour receive something more than a living wage that is merely enough to enable a man to maintain a wife and family. Justice requires that the increase in wealth that results from the application of labour to raw materials be shared between labour and capital in fair proportions. While we have an economic system under which private profits are constantly competing with living standards for a bigger share of the national cake, everlasting peace can never be more than a dream. But, this is not to say that a sensible and well informed review of existing laws cannot produce reforms which, generally speaking, will make for peaceful co-existence in place of the current strife.

No one can deny that during the past decade or so, we have dismally failed to meet the industrial needs of our country. We see Liberal politicians rubbing their hands with glee in anticipation of making political gain from industry’s distress.

Mr Giles:

– Hear, hear!

Mr Clyde Cameron:

– I am pleased that the honourable member agrees with me. Australia deserves something better than this. It is a very serious matter indeed when the ruling party of a nation believes its political future lies in an increase in industrial unrest and distress with all the loss - material losses, loss in the national and social unity and goodfellowship, mateship if you like - that must follow. Another thing is also certain - this country just cannot afford another decade like the one we have just experienced. Let us have less confrontation and more genuine conciliation.

The real result of the government’s approach to industrial affairs will be to create even further inflation, by deliberately but needlessly reducing production through industrial unrest. The Treasurer said two weeks ago that Australia’s productivity record was abysmal. Behind that record is the failure of the government to achieve cooperation and conciliation in industry. Yet its present course is deliberately designed to undermine and destroy any basis of cooperation in future. This is why some of the Liberal Party’s most fervent supporters are turning away in droves; they are sick of going along with the Liberals in their course of division and disruption.

Debate (on motion by Mr Giles) adjourned.

page 4204


Second Reading

Debate resumed (vide page 4176).


– I wish to support the amendment which was moved prior to the adjournment of the debate, whereupon we heard a very good speech by the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron). The amendment provides that: the Bill be withdrawn and redrafted to include a Schedule of the Agreement between the State of South Australia and the Commonwealth with conditions relating to the approval by the Parliament and provisions relating to the amounts payable to the State, the rate of interest, and repayment conditions by the State.

I would think from his remarks that the honourable member for Balaclava (Mr

Whittorn) would support this amendment. He stood for some considerable portion of the 20 minutes allotted to him in which to speak earlier in this debate and questioned the Government at some length on where the money was going that was being appropriated under the measure now before this House. From his interjections we on this side of the House could be sure of his vote in support of the amendment. He is the first honourable member from the Government side 1 have heard since 1 have been in this House question in any way, shape or form where money has gone. We usually hear the Liberal Party cry: ‘Where is the money coming from?’

We are witnessing in this House once again the spectacle of an industry which has unfortunately been brought to financial min and requires financial assistance from the Commonwealth because it has not been guided adequately and properly and in the national interest by the Federal Government. It is some 10 years since the first whispered conversations began between people in Australia and people in the United Kingdom as to the possibility of Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community. These indications have been completely ignored by those Commonwealth departments which I would consider most certainly to have had a responsibility to an industry such as this. This Government has stood idly by with an attitude best described as absolute indifference to the State governments which have made some attempt, spasmodic as it may have been, to guide the industries within their borders. This Government cannot deny that it was without knowledge of the expansion within the fruit industry in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia. It cannot deny the fact that there has been an increase in acreage from the early post-war years following demobilisation after the Second World War. There has been an increase along the Murray River generally and in the irrigation areas as a result of the Snowy

Mountains hydro-electric scheme. What has the Department of Trade and Industry done to find new markets abroad? Why is it mat the Government has not questioned some of the ties it has placed around itself with regard to some form of international agreement and which have inhibited grower organisations in Australia from expanding into existing markets and exploring others? The Government has not done anything in this regard.

One of the reasons, of course, is that we are experiencing a great number of problems in the industry. One of the reasons why fruit is being allowed to fall to the ground, and one of the reasons why one member of the community who took up land in the Shepparton area went berserk last year and threatened the lives of some unfortunates on a weighbridge adjacent to one of the great establishments in the canning industry, is the lack of foresight of this Government. This man could not stand the fact that he was losing thousands of dollars each year as a result of the attitude or the non-attitude of the Government. One of the last reports I read shows that one of the principal companies in the industry is being imposed upon as far as freight rates are concerned. How often have honourable members opposite heard me on this question? The long overdue benefits to the growers and to the canneries from the containerisation concept are still being awaited. Rather than there being any benefit to the industry generally, to shippers generally and to growers generally, these people are now having greater costs imposed upon them. The only costs which Government supporters will bear in mind perhaps are those in the limited area of wage and salary increases in this field. I say ‘limited’ because the number of employees in this industry is somewhat limited compared, for example, with the vehicle building industry in which the number of employees is far greater. While the Australian Government can say that we have had ships built and we now have ships carrying the national flag, can the Government honestly say that those ships that carry the national flag and those ships built - I say this for the benefit of the honourable member for Balaclava - with taxpayers’ money, at taxpayers’ expense, operate in competition with the monopoly shipowners who have plied here for a considerable number of years?

Mr Whittorn:

– I raise a point of order, ls this a matter concerning the Minister for Shipping and Transport or the Minister for Primary Industry?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Cope)The honourable member is making only a passing reference to this matter. There is no substance in the point of order.


– That goes to show the absolute ignorance of the honourable member who has just interposed. He seems to feel that the cost of freight has no bearing on the matter before us. We are debating a measure to appropriate millions of dollars for this industry and one of the reasons it is being appropriated is that this Government has done nothing to place ships at the disposal of the industry and to place the shippers of this country in competition with the existing shipping lines. The mistake the Government has made is that it has not placed the ships that fly the Australian flag in competition with other ships. It has allowed itself to be conned into the situation whereby Australian taxpayers’ money is being used for these ships which, while flying the Australian flag, will trade within the conference system that operates. They will operate within a particular consortium. They cannot go into direct competition for the purpose ot reducing freight rates. It was said by a previous Minister for Trade and Industry, in fact by the previous member for Murray prior lo his retirement from this House, that this was one of the aims and the goals set for these ships. So why should I not mention the matter of freight rates in this debate tonight?

What has been done about new markets for our canned fruit? We see neighbouring South Africa growing the same type of product about which we are talking in the debate on this Bill and shipping it twice as far to Singaporean markets at half the freight costs - and the honourable member for Balaclava wonders why I mention this matter. The Minister for Primary Industry had better check what I say. He will find that it is near enough to true as damn it is to something else. South Africa ships canned fruits twice as far as we do. mind you, to a market on our doorstep.

Mr Sinclair:

– At what subsidy?


– Never mind about the subsidy. If the Minister wants to talk about subsidy, of course the whole of rural industry today is still crying out for subsidy, and the Government is falling over backwards in some areas to provide it. I am saying that the same product that is produced in Australia is taken from South African ports to Asian markets which are twice as far from South Africa as they are from this country. Why is that so? Why is it that Australia should be denied markets because of that restriction? That is something which the Minister for Primary Industry, when he was Minister for Shipping and Transport, should have looked at instead of waiting for the parliamentary recesses to say the things he said - a very cunning move. The Minister need not look at me dumbfounded.. In the drawer underneath my desk here where I sit I. have a whole pile of speeches he made from Darwin to Cairns to Carnarvon during parliamentary recesses about what he would not do with the shipowners when he got back into the House come the Budget session. And what did he do? Absolutely nothing. He can have these speeches any time he wants them. I think I have said that before, lt is action we want in this place and not words from the likes of Ministers I consider to be damned well incompetent in the national interest. I make no apology for saying that.

Mr Sinclair:

– Do you claim to be an expert?


– No, 1 do not claim to be an expert. If you fellows claim to be experts there is a very good old saying for it.


Order! The honourable member will address the Chair.


– I want to quote from a document which honourable members opposite are sure to know about. It is the annual report of the Australian Canning Fruitgrowers Association. It states:

Proposals for the long term reconstruction of the industry are under consideration and it is essential that these be given urgent attention so that a suitable reconstruction programme wll be available to the industry at the earliest opportunity.

The proposals include the introduction of a tree removal compensation scheme aimed at achieving a reduction in the production level of canning deciduous frails to known market outlets, with some margin for growth. The reconstruction of fruitgrowers” debts, where such action can be shown to be desirable, in order to maintain the growers’ viability; the redevelopment of orchards to enable growers to adjust their varietal plantings to those for which a satisfactory market exists;

What assistance is this Government prepared to give in regard to that? We on this side of the Houe have not heard Government supporters say any more than what is referred to in the narrow confines of the Bill. We have not heard anybody as yet from the Government side - 1 hope and sincerely trust that the Minister for Primary Industry will do so in concluding the debate - spell out something that ought to be done in the long term future of the industry. Let us not end this debate with the belief that this matter will become a hardy annual with a growing amount of assistance that is rendered each year from taxpayers’ money to the industry so that it can crawl or fall into the next year. What I am suggesting is that the Minister take advantage of the advice of the experts he mentioned a few moments ago by way of interjection. He has the experts at his disposal. He has the whole of his Department, almost an empire of advisers. Let us find out what they have in mind. Let the Minister tell this House what he has in mind, having drawn on this reservoir of knowledge and expertise that he has available to him. These men are knowledgable and expert and I only hope that the Government will act on the very good advice that they give from time to time instead of considering that such advice should be used only in the narrowest of political terms, as we have seen in the measure that was the subject of a ministerial statement a while ago in this place.

Mr Whittorn:

– A very good statement too.


– Why does the honourable member, as a Government supporter, not get on the backs of the Ministers and pry open this oystershell cabinet which he has supported over the years, to force it to do something, to get it away from the concrete vaults that it thinks in - and its thinking is probably as thick as concrete.

Mr Deputy Speaker, because other honourable members want to enter this debate and because the Government probably will want to bring it to an end during the course of the night and restrict the last 2 speakers, I will conclude on the note that the amendment is worthy of the support of members on the Government side. We on this side of the House would be failing in our duty if this amount of money was just appropriated without any question and without any rhyme or reason from the government. The people have a right to know the facts, and we have a right to know. If we are questioned on this matter we should be able to answer such questions with knowledge and proper understanding.


– After listening to the last speech I am not surprised that the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) made his comment at the Launceston Conference about the experts in his Party. It is quite understandable. Tonight 1 want to deal with another side of the question altogether. While I support the Bill in principle I want to protest very strongly about the elimination from this benefit of the second largest cooperative cannery in New South Wales, which is in my electorate. Here is a cannery that has made an effort to diversify and improve its return. Today it is trading quite satisfactorily, except for the longterm, hard-core debt in which it is involved largely by the action of other less efficient canneries.

The Mountain Maid factory at Batlow claims that the Commonwealth Government has drawn a line through the electors of New South Wales by assisting only one of the 2 big co-operatives in New South Wales on an unjustified premise when the financial situation of the 2 factories is very similar. The Mountain Maid Cannery is just as entitled to Commonwealth assistance as Letona was. In some ways it is more entitled to assistance because it has been a more efficient factory in many ways. The whole town and district of Batlow are dependent on the cannery for their livelihood. The success of the cannery is most important to a whole rural community. The financial problems facing this factory are exactly the same as those facing other factories that have received assistance. As far as one can discern, the reason given by the inter-departmental committee for not granting assistance to the Mountain Maid Cannery was that it did not depend on deciduous fruits. I do not know what apples are if they are not deciduous fruits.

This factory at Batlow made serious attempts, back in the days when we were in trouble with exports, to graft on to the types of pears it could not export other types of pears and changing over to other types of fruit so that it could enter the local market. Today we find that Batlow is selling most of its fruit on the local market through its own efforts to diversify. The people of Batlow feel that they have had a pretty raw deal. I appeal to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair) and the Government to have another look at the Mountain Maid Cannery. It is the second largest employer of labour in southern New South Wales. Each year it pays out over $lm in wages and over Sim to growers in the area for raw material. Batlow is a one hotel town - in other words, a small town. With the exception of the State Forestry Commission it depends almost solely on the cannery and the packing house there for its livelihood and its prosperity.

The factory has been canning fruit for a long time. When it became difficult to sell certain varieties, the factory diversified by grafting and changing the varieties. That is the reason that it has been able to carry on reasonably successfully. The bulk of its market is not for export. Three-quarters of the other factories have been caught without the same long range view. The Batlow factory has developed a local market for its fruit as well as markets in the Near East and in the Pacific. I believe that the Mountain Maid Cannery is entitled to support. While I strongly support the Bill I want to get the point across that Batlow, because it has justified itself by its efficiency, has been excluded from the support that the other factories have received. This factory needs it just as much as they do. In fact, it can justify such support on economic grounds to a much greater extent than other factories can. I appeal to the Minister and to the Government to have another look at the position at Batlow.

The whole community depends upon the factory. They do not can only fruit at Batlow. They can peas, beans and asparagus. The largest area of asparagus in the southern hemisphere is grown at Gundagai and canned at Batlow. There is more than just the canning of fruit dependent on the success of the Batlow cannery and packing house. I support the principle of the Bill in giving assistance to canneries on which the livelihood of so many country people depends. But 1 appeal to the Government and to the Minister to support an industry that, by its own efforts, is more successful than those that are receiving support.


– 1 congratulate the honourable member for Hume (Mr Pettitt), even though he comes from the other side of the House, for being able to get his message across in 5 minutes. I promise those who are in charge of the business of the House that tonight I will be equally brief, having suffered for 65 minutes while a statement, admittedly important, on industrial relations was read. At least the first 20 minutes said nothing. To be fair, I must confess that the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) took a lead from the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr Lynch) in taking equally long over his statement. I am entering into this debate because I have a particular interest in the Jon Preserving Co-operative Ltd. Honourable members will remember that we are dealing with 2 Bills cognately - the South Australia Grant (Fruit Canneries) Bill 1971 and the New South Wales Grant (Leeton Co-operative Cannery Ltd) Bill 1971. The first of those 2, which relates to my own State of Sou’.h Australia, has special advantages for not only Jon Preserving Co-operative Ltd but also Riverland Fruit Products Co-operative Ltd which was mentioned by the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles).

I mention my own special interest in this matter. At one stage of my career I conducted the audit of Jon Preserving Cooperative in the days before it was a cooperative. Also, the factory is situated only just outside my electorate and there are many residents of the electorate of Adelaide who find employment at the Jon factory between the months of January and April in the canning season. I am motivated to get to my feet because of the speech by the honourable member for Balaclava (Mr Whittorn). I cannot altogether blame him for being so misinformed on this Bill because I believe that the Minister’s second reading speech did not give the full picture it should have given on a measure such as this. The honourable member for Balaclava has assumed that the money made available in these measures is a grant. It is not. I said that I would confine my remarks to the effect the Bill has on the Jon Preserving Co-operative Ltd. I would sum up the position with that co-operative by saying that it is no more than a moratorium on S78O.O0O worth of debts held by that particular co-operative.

These debts were incurred in earlier years, for very good reasons, most of them beyond the control of the 400 fruit growers who are shareholders in this cooperative. I am referring to the devaluation of sterling, to adverse crop yields and to equipment costs. Indeed, I now go further and say that without this help, half of which is coming to the Commonwealth under this Bill, those 400 fruit growers would be without a market, without anywhere to sell their fruit, and would be a burden on the city. Admittedly I have owned up to my own links with this particular company, but it is right and proper for a city member to state that there are good decentralisation reasons why a measure like this should go through this Parliament, particularly a measure which provides not a grant but a loan.

I strongly support the Opposition’s amendment to this Bill because the Bill does not set out the terms of the agreement between the Commonwealth and the State. I know, because of my particular relationships with the company, what that company’s agreement is with the State Government of South Australia. It is strictly bound to put aside 4 per cent of the $780,000 each year by way of a provision before striking a profit. Four per cent is not a high interest rate or a large provision but it does show that this is definitely a loan and not a grant being made by the Government. I believe that this sort of detail, if not set out in the terms of the Bill itself, could at least have been disclosed to the House in the second reading speech of the Minister. It is because 1 have only just ascertained this information and have not had an opportunity to pass it on to my colleagues that we have such an amendment as this. But even with this information an amendment would still be necessary if we are to do our proper task of keeping the Government on its toes and ensure that it informs this Parliament of all the details of a measure such as this.

I repeat that this is a loan, not a grant, and that the Co-operative is bound to put aside 4 per cent each year as a provision on the full amount of this loan. I say further that this Co-operative would have had to go into liquidation without a measure such as this. Before this measure was arranged by the South Australian Government the liability of the company was as much as $100,000 a year - $50,000 in capital and $50,000 in interest - a crippling amount to be found and one that the Cooperative could not have withstood. I might add that under the agreement with the State Government there is strict con. trol over this Co-operative and I am very pleased to tell the House that with this help from the South Australian Government, now reinforced with help to the State Government by the Commonwealth Government under this Bill, the Cooperative in the last 2 years has made a profit. In the year ended 30th September 1971 the profit was $33,000 and in the year ended 30th September 1970 it was $25,000. This shows that there have been prudent operations which have not only kept about 600 of my electors in a job in the canning season but also have kept 400 fruit growers on their properties in the electorate of the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles).

I do not want to give the impression in the short time that I will spend on this Bill that the canning industry is over its problems. I do not want to give the impression that the particular co-operative in which I am interested - the Jon Preserving Cooperative Ltd - is over its problems. These problems are directly related to. the export trade of canned fruits. The co-operative in which I am interested has a turnover of $3m each year. It pays $lm to its fruit growers for peaches, pears and apricots. I have mentioned the employment of 600 people in the canning works. All these people who are involved in the industry are extremely dependent upon world trade conditions and those conditions are related to Britain going into the European Economic Community. The industry needs time. There are hopes that in a couple of years time demand will have grown in Japan. In the meantime, if tariff barriers go up against our canning industry overnight we are going to be in great trouble not only from countries which can provide canned fruits from within the Community such as Spain and even more so, Italy, but also from competition from the United States of America. We have some hard decisions to make.

My great complaint about the Government is not only exemplified in this amendment which we are moving tonight, about not giving us sufficient details on financial provisions such as this, but also about the Government not at the same time talking about the problems of the canned fruits industry over the next few years and the sort of advice that will be given to this industry in its reconstruction. Does the Government feel, from its marketing knowledge, that when Great Britain goes into the European Economic Community Japan will take its place as a country with which we can trade in this industry? Should we now be giving a lead to this industry in its reconstruction even to the extent of pulling trees rather than planting new trees? 1 promised that I would not take long in my remarks. I hope that I have raised one or two questions to which the Minister will apply his mind and in. relation to which he will give some details when he is replying to this debate. In his contribution to the debate the honourable member for Hume did not give us a great deal of detail about the financial situation of the particular co-operative in his district. However, I must confess that once such help as this is given to one co-operative the onus is on the Government to give it to all cooperatives. In saying that, however, I want to congratulate the South Australian Minister of Agriculture who really has been the person responsible for Riverland and Jon products receiving this help from the Commonwealth Government. I can only point the bone at the New South Wales Minister for Agriculture and any of those who are responsible for the district in which this co-operative to which the honourable member for Hume referred lies for not seeing that the Commonwealth Government helped that co-operative equally.


– It was not my intention to take part in this debate until certain statements were made by the honourable member for Balaclava (Mr Whittorn) which concerned the fruit growing industry generally. Particular reference was made also to certain canneries in the electorate of Murray - Shepparton Preserving Co. Ltd, Ardmona Fruit Products Coop. Co. Ltd and Kyabram Preserving Co. Ltd. The honourable member for Balaclava seemed to be of the opinion that we should class canneries as manufacturing concerns and that it should not be the policy of the Government to assist such manufacturing concerns or industries.

Mr Duthie:

– What Party does he belong to?


– He represents a party that you and 1 both well know. He failed to see the point that here we are talking about canneries and we are talking about cooperative canneries. I see no resemblance between a manufacturing company such as Massey-Ferguson Holdings (Aust.) Ltd, to which he referred, and a co-operative, because any private company has a far greater opportunity to raise finance in the ordinary financial market than has any cooperative. One of the great weaknesses or shortcomings of a co-operative is its inability to raise finance. It is one of the weaknesses of the situation here in Australia, that unlike some other countries we have not as a matter of policy provided better ways of allowing co-operatives, whether they be canning co-operatives or some other form of co-operative, to raise money or to be loaned money. An example is the Ardmona cannery which is a very financial and successful fruit cannery. At the present time it is embarking on the most ambitious project in the fruit industry in Australia to widen the market for canning fruit products, lt is a §1.5m project for fruit juice and fruit pulp. Because it is a co-operative it has had tremendous difficulty in raising this finance, even though there is no doubt about its financial viability.

The honourable member for Balaclava made this point in reference to a firm like Massey-Ferguson which we all know is having financial difficulties, but he overlooked the point that the problem with Massey-Ferguson and many other rural companies is not a lack of finance but a lack of demand for their product. It is by means of measures such as the one presently before the House that demand for some of their products will be increased. The honourable member referred also to the loan of $4.2m to the Shepparton Preserving Co., the Bill for which passed through this House on 6th May. The honourable member came to the conclusion after extensive research, so he said, that somehow or other the individual grower should be receiving 59,000. He worked that out by dividing the number of growers into the S4.2m. The honourable member asked how this loan would help the grower if he was not receiving it. The point here is that a co-operative is owned by the growers who supply it, and anything that helps the co-operative helps the suppliers. This is so for a variety of reasons. One of the reasons it that it reduces interest payments on any outstanding loans and of course the purpose of these measures is to reduce these outstanding debts so that a greater percentage of the net income of the canneries can be paid to the growers in one form or another. The honourable member also overlooked the fact, when referring to Shepparton Preserving Co. Ltd and other canneries, that, as well as the growers who supply products to the cannery there are also, in the case of SPC for instance, over 200 permanent employees at the cannery let alone 1,200 casuals employed for much of the year.

The honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) referred to an interesting situation in regard to Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd and the canning fruit industry at the present time. The BHP is, 1 believe, protected in Australia to a far greater degree than the canned fruits industry is protected. BHP is in a monopoly position. I am not saying that that is wrong, but it is in a monopoly position. BHP is laying off quite a large number of workers while the canning fruit industry this season will have to import about 20 per cent of its tin plate requirements.

Mr Grassby:

– We will want more.


– I know you quoted more for your canneries but for the canneries in the Goulburn Valley I understand it is about 20 per cent. Here we have an interesting situation where we supposedly have a lack of demand for steel products in Australia, and yet we have to import 20 per cent of the tin plate requirements. BHP also insists that these canneries purchase all their requirements of tin plate anything up to 4 to 5 months before the tin plate will actually be used, and the canneries have to pay cash. We have had some talk about whether the canneries or the fruit industry are receiving preferential treatment. To me these are some of the toughest and meanest terms of trade for any company in such a privileged position as the BHP to enforce on any industry.

Also it came as a surprise to me to learn that it is a crime to want to export. We were told that because 60 per cent of the products of the canned fruit industry is for export this is really a taxpayer subsidy for consumers in other countries. That is a curious way to talk about the need for exports. Without export income all the people in the middle and upper middle class sections of our community in the great metropolises, who are in the tertiary industries which are the most highly protected Australian industries and who live very comfortably, would not be able to indulge in some of the nice little extras that our higher standard of living provide through our export industries.

It is of interest to follow further this argument that we must be paying a subsidy for the consumers in other countries because the export market returns less than the home market. How many industries are there in Australia that do export at world parity prices, in the sense that the local market gives the same return as the export market? I can think only of the wool industry and the meat industry in this respect. BHP does not because, if I remember right, recently there was an anti-dumping case in the United States against BHP because its export prices were lower than the home market price. If we like to look at the automobile industry, I understand there is unused capacity in that industry in Australia and probably this is so in many other secondary industries in Australia. If they were exporting at a lower return than the return on the home market surely they would use the unused capacity which exists and thereby lower the cost of unit production.

There is also the question of devaluation compensation. If it is in the best interests of Australia as a whole that Australia should not devalue in a particular case - such as in 1967 - when it is known that certain sections of the community will be disadvantaged because of the decision I believe that it is right and just for that disadvantaged section of the community to be compensated in some way, even if only in a small way, for acting in what is considered to be the best interests of the community as a whole. With regard to devaluation compensation for the canned fruits industry, this compensation was set at the 1967 level. In other words, it was set on the 1967 prices for up to 1971 costs. How many of our people in secondary and tertiary industries would like to bc still operating under those conditions? It is to the credit of the canned fruit industry that it got out of its devaluation problems virtually through its own efforts and that it no longer became eligible for devaluation compensation.

Reference has been made also to markets. I think 2 recent developments show what the indus ry is trying to do. One is the announcement by the major Australian canneries which export our fruit that they will be setting up a joint selling organisation in the United Kingdom market in 1972.

Mr Grassby:

– It is about time.


– I agree that it is about time. This is a most important step forward for the industry and one which I hope will mean the end of any price cutting competition between the canneries on export markets, because sometimes in the past Australian canned fruit has not been competing against South African canned fruit but one Australian cannery has been competing against another Australian cannery. I think the time is now most appropriate for this joint selling organisation to be set up.

I believe that of importance with the development with new markets is the fact that Australian canned fruit has been accepted for the Japanese school lunch programme. I believe that this is most important for the future sale of our products to this market because not only is Japan potentially a great market but, by having these products included in the school lunch programme, this means that the taste, the appetite and the liking for these products will be increased as the school children grow and become consumers in their own right. Also, if eastern Russia could be provided with the necessary exchange and perhaps freed from some of the restrictions of a centralised government form of trading, there would be a tremendous market in that area. The efforts of the Ardmona cannery with regard to pulp, juice and the development of a new produce - dried pears which, I am pleased to say, the Minister for Prim ary Industry (Mr Sinclair) took with him on his recent overseas tour - will bear fruit in the future. I believe that tonight we should not be thinking of the Government coming in as a lender of last resort to assist co-operatives which are in trouble but we should be thinking of a definite Government policy to give greater assistance as an ordinary measure to the cooperatives, which are so important to the country’s future

Mir SINCLAIR (New England - Minister for Primary Industry) (11.28) - I compliment the honourable member for Murray (Mr Lloyd) for an excellent exposition of some of the problems of the canning industry. 1 also compliment other members who, during the course of the debate, have canvassed not only the present but the future difficulties that the industry faces. It is true that, of all Australian primary industries, this industry will be the most adversely affected, at least in the short term, by changed market prospects. I do not intend to go into tha!. The reasons have been canvassed, the entry of Britain into the European Economic Community being the most notable. There are prospects in Asia. But it is hard to take a decision at this stage to remove completely from producing the pears, the peaches and the other fruits that go into canning those growers who have depended on the industry for their livelihood when there is a prospect that in a few years time there might well be a good market opportunity. Not just the growers in this decentralised industry, but the people in the nearby country towns represent a substantial percentage of employment in many areas. It is difficult in determining short term assistance to know what is the most effective way of providing help.

The 2 Bills which are the subject of this cognate debate are the product of an inquiry instituted by officers of my Department into the best way to try to help these canneries in the short term. There are difficulties in determining just what is the best form of long-term assistance. The industry itself is represented on a group known as the Canned Deciduous Fruits Industry Advisory Committee which is looking into possible programme for tree pulling and possible programmes for other forms of reconstruction systems. These, of course, are essential but the industry itself has not been idle and the measures to which the honourable member for Murray has referred are the product of a recognition by the industry - in some instances belated - that it cannot rest on marketing methods which today are antiquated in circumstances which are changing. Unless the industry faces these circumstances they are likely to lead to even fewer profits for the canners as well as for the growers in the future.

These measures represent a short term form of assistance to tide the industry over this period of adjustment. Indeed, there are problems in working out the best way in which the assistance can be provided. It is because of the necessity of providing some flexibility that the schedule of the agreement between the States and the Commonwealth has not been included in either Bill, lt is for that reason that I. have difficulty in accepting the amendment proposed by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson). Essentially there is an intention in each of the advances that they should be loans. One would hope that they would not be perhaps at a commercial rate of interest but aspiring towards at least long-term bond interest rates. In each instance the administration of the loans is to be by the State governments. I would see the initial responsibility in this field as being with the State governments.

The industries are certainly important in particular areas but they are not of major national significance in the sense that the wool industry, wheat industry and some other major primary industries are of national significance, and it is for that reason that I see the initial responsibility in the whole field of canned fruits predominantly with the State governments. On that basis, while consideration has been given to the Mountain Maid cannery, to which the honourable member for Hume (Mr Pettitt) referred, assistance has not been forthcoming from the Commonwealth Government. Close and careful scrutiny was given to applications by the State governments for supplementary assistance for other canneries and it was on the basis of the recommendations of a technical committee, not on a political decision, that these Bills were introduced.

I stress again that the reason for the non-inclusion of the agreement is not that it is intended in any way to hide from the Parliament the way in which the Govern ment intends to administer these funds. It is intended by the provision of the loans - as to which there are maximum specified in the Bills - not to the canneries but to the States, which shall administer them, that there should be a flexibility which will enable the negotiation of the most favourable terms in any repayments by the States to the Commonwealth of these advances. It is true that there has been correspondence between myself and the respective administering States. In this correspondence we have canvassed the sort of terms we hope might be realised, but it is accepted also that there is a critical short-term problem for these industries and the critical short-term problem is such that we cannot at this moment finitely set down the terms and conditions without almost negating the value of the assistance.

The purpose of the financial assistance is to reduce the measure of the indebtedness of these canneries. The purpose is to enable these canneries to operate on a basis which will enable growers to be paid. The purpose is to try to help them in this short-term problem while other forms of adjustment of a longer term character are being adopted and being developed in the total sense. So the purpose of this particular legislation is to try to tide the canneries over until such time as there can be a more realistic long-term approach. I believe that were we to include an agreement in these Bills it would almost deny the advantages of the assistance that, as so many members from both sides have said, these canneries so urgently need.

Finally I say to the honourable member for Balaclava (Mr Whittorn) that I do not regard the nature of this assistance as being specifically for manufacturing industries. It is true that canneries are significant units of manufacture. They are there as the secondary process of a primary product. But it is true that the growers in these industries would not be paid. As the honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Hurford) so rightly said a moment ago, the growers themselves would have no market whatsoever for their product if it were not for the existence of the canneries and it is this problem which has generated the recommendation from the technical committee that this is the best form of short term assistance that can be provided, lt will enable the growers to remain on their holdings and to carry on and produce their fruit. Of course, the fruit tree does not just go out of bearing because the financial circumstance of the cannery might be a little low at the time. The trees keep on bearing and the only way in which the communities which are dependent upon the production of canned fruits can be kept alive is by the provision of this form of financial assistance.

I do not regard this as an alternative to tariff assistance or to other forms of assistance to secondary industry. I regard the measures of assistance that are being provided to these canneries as being essentially to preserve the opportunity of production which considerable numbers of primary producers rely on in the areas that are producing for the respective canneries referred to in the 2 Bills. It is true that there are other areas and other canneries. There are real difficulties in the future in the marketing and in the manner of marketing and these cannot be ignored. Indeed, I have spoken in this House in reply to questions and on other occasions about the extent to which this industry, along with some others, will need to make a quite critical examination of the basis of their present operationsif they are to continue to survive. I believe that this industry is one which is responsibly looking at its marketing methods and, of course, in conjunction with the Government, it is endeavouring to devise the best long term forms of assistance which might offset these longer term problems. I therefore commend the Bills to the House in the form in which they have been submitted and without the amendment that has been proposed by the honourable member for Dawson.

Question put:

That the words proposed to be omitted (Dr Patterson’s amendment) stand part of the question.

The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker - Mr P. E. Lucock)

AYES: 51

NOES: 46

Majority . . . . 5



Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Amendment negatived.

Original question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.

Third Reading

Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.

Bill (on motion by Mr Sinclair) read a third time.

page 4214


Second Reading

Debate resumed from 9 September (vide page 1003), on motion by Mr Sinclair:

That the Bill be now read a second time.


– 1 move:

That all words after That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: the Bill be withdrawn and re-drafted to include a Schedule of the Agreement between the State of New South Wales and the Commonwealth with conditions relating to the approval by the Parliament and provisions relating to the amounts payable to the State, the rate of interest, and repayment conditions by the State’.

This amendment is in similar terms to the one we moved to the motion for the second reading of the South Australia Grant (Fruit Canneries) Bill which dealt with the Jon Preserving Co-operative Ltd and the Riverland Fruit Products Co-operative Ltd. On this occasion the amendment relates to the Bill which deals with the Laeton Cooperative Cannery Ltd. The reasons for moving this amendment are the same as those for moving the other amendment. A sum of money is to be made available by the Commonwealth to the State of New South Wales to enable that State to make advances to the Leeton Cannery under terms and conditions agreed to between the Cannery and the State. The principal objective of the amendment is to ascertain the terms and conditions under which the Commonwealth is to make money available to the State of New South Wales. We want to know whether the money is to be made available by way of a grant or a loan, what rate of interest is to be charged and so on. We have gone over the arguments before.

Mr Hansen:

– We also want to know for how long the money is to be made available.


– Yes, we want *o know the term. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Sinclair), when he was replying to the debate on the South Australia Grant (Fruit Canneries) Bill, informed us that it is the intention of himself and, I would assume, of the Government that the funds to be made available by the Commonwealth will be made available essentially by way of a loan at a rate of interest which is not necessarily a commercial rate of interest. Of course, this means that it is a low rate of interest. We have no objection whatsoever to that because it is the policy of the Australian Labor Party to make available for urgent needs or for needs of worth long term loans at low rates of interest. This is fundamental to Labor’s policy, and we have no objection to what the Minister or the Government proposes in this regard. But that does not alter the fact that when public moneys are made available by the Commonwealth to anyone there should be in writing somewhere the terms and conditions upon which those moneys are made available.

I can understand the difficulty of the Minister and the Government regarding the short term problems facing these canneries When terms and conditions are written into a schedule to an agreement there is some degree of rigidity or inflexibility which could cause embarrassment to a State, to the Commonwealth, to a cannery, to a grower or to whoever it might be. There is an argument for some degree of flexibility in agreements. However, this does not mean that terms and conditions should not be written somewhere so that the Parliament can understand the position I should have thought the correct thing to do would have been for the Minister to state in his second reading speech that this was in fact the intent of the Government. It would seem that in fact, if the conditions applying at this cannery deteriorate, this money which is being made available by the Commonwealth could become a grant, although that is not the short term intent. But if economic conditions deteriorate, as they easily could with respect to this particular cannery, to the degree that in the short and the long term drastic reconstruction of the industry as well as of the cannery would have to take place, this type of moratorium would develop into the writing off of a debt. The question would then become: Would the Commonwealth ask the New South Wales Government, in this case, to pay back this sum of money? Only Cabinet could answer the question at that po’nt of time. Now that the Minister has explained in some detail the intention of the Government as to flexibility and the taking into account of contingencies in the short and the long term, while I still maintain on behalf of the Opposition that this intention should be written into the second reading speech, or preferably into the Bill itself, we will not call for a division.


– I rise to second the amendment and to speak briefly to it. I want to draw attention to the tact that this legislation deals wilh the Leeton Co-operative Cannery, the largest cannery in New South Wales and the second largest cannery in the southern hemisphere. In talking about terms and conditions, it should be kept in mind that the moneys advanced by the New South Wales Government in this case will be only a book entry. There will be no expenditure of State money, although in the legislation it states particularly and specifically that a matching sum will be made available. The New South Wales Government has determined that it will simply make a book entry and in fact wipe out some long standing debts of a cannery which began its life, in any event, as a State cannery 2 generations ago. The Commonwealth has made certain advances to match the State in this instance which will in effect wipe out some of the debts owing to Commonwealth Bank instrumentalities, so that what we have before us as a Parliament is noi a cash infusion into a particular cannery but 2 book entries. It is important to realise that, because the end result will be some savings in interest. However, one point exercising my mind and causing me to speak to the amendment is that if it was intended to charge interest on a book entry loan - if that is the right term - it would seem to me to be quite ludicrous.

The New South Wales Government and the Commonwealth Government have already received interest. They have been well serviced, particularly New South Wales, in many ways. The Commonwealth has also benefited in many ways from the investment jointly in this enterprise. The debts that are owing, particularly to the measure is obviously intended to reduce governments. It would be quite ludicrous if a sum of money was earmarked to reduce a debt to governments, and that sum of money was to be the subject of interest payable to governments. So I suggest that in this instance no interest at all should be applicable. In fact, it should be a grant because it has the effect of a book entry within the Commonwealth’s responsibility, and certainly within the State’s responsibility, and the responsibility of their various agencies concerned with the cannery. That is the first point that should be made in respect of the proposed amendment.

The second point emerges from an interjection made previously in the cognate debates on these measures. The Minister said that the Commonwealth has seen fit to make certain moneys available after consultation with the States. The Minister seems to be telling us that the Commonwealth has adopted the views and recommendations of the States. The New South Wales Government recommended firstly the writing off of the cannery at Batlow, and secondly the writing off of the cannery at Griffith. It was apparently the decision of the New South Wales Government that neither of those canneries was to survive. It was a further decision apparently by the State authorities that Victorian canners should enter canning in New South Wales by taking over the Griffith cannery. Again the indication by the Minister is that the Commonwealth Government, having entered into discussions and made money available, says like Pontius Pilate: ‘We now wash our hands of these industries and these institutions. We take no further interest and we have no further knowledge of these matters. What is more, unless a matter is raised by the States we will take no further action’.

This attitude does not seem to me to be terribly adequate. After all, the canned fruits industry is dependent upon Commonwealth decisions in matters of trade and all that means and also in matters spanning shipping, tariffs and the whole range of things that touch all successful trading. I say specifically that we have a situation where the States of New South Wales and Victoria have made certain decisions. The Commonwealth has said that those decisions are the prerogatives of the States and that it will take no interest in those decisions unless asked to do so by the States. I think that this is an abdication of responsibility on the part of the Commonwealth because if the Parliament is called upon to vote moneys for these purposes it should at least have some interest in the use to which the money is put; it should have some interest in the utilisation of funds which we are called upon to vote. The Minister on behalf of members of the Parliament should transmit our interest.

I am not satisfied that the decisions which have been made are by any means the right ones. I heard an honourable member on the Government side tonight say that a particular community could be in serious trouble - that a viable unit has been overlooked. The Minister said that this is a matter for the State of New South Wales and that if that State does not want to see Batlow survive why should the Commonwealth? Is this a responsible attitude? Should we be asked to vote on these measures without having seen the end result of the decisions and the application of the funds? Apparently the answer by government is that we should be satisfied.

The purpose of the amendment moved on behalf of the Opposition is to say that we in the Opposition are not satisfied. Obviously we have a responsibility to this industry; we have a responsibility for the towns and people concerned with the industry. I think that the Minister has a responsibility at this stage in relation to the amendment to say particularly and specifically what the Commonwealth Government has in mind. It is not enough for the Government to abdicate responsibility in the way it has today. We have a responsibility in the Commonwealth Parliament because we have been called upon to find funds for the purpose outlined in the legislation. I have indicated that Leeton has to grow 50 per cent larger than it is at present. Also I have said that the debt structure of the industry has been operated by way of 2 book entries - one on the Commonwealth side and one on the State side. This means that interest should not be charged at all.

What we are seeking is some assurance as to what the Commonwealth is going to impose and what it has in mind. This is my first point. My second point relates to the decisions that have been made by the State of New South Wales in relation to Batlow and Griffith and to the bid by the Victorian canners to take over the Griffith cannery. I think that the Minister has a responsibility to state his attitude and also to tell us whathis Government feels about this matter. The Minister said earlier that he did not know anything about it and that he had not approved of anything. Is that enough? I believe that is a negative way of putting the situation. I want to put very bluntly that the Commonwealth Parliament has a responsibility. The purpose of the Opposition’s amendment is to make it plain that members of the Opposi tion think that the Government has a responsibility. We think the Government should answer the queries that have been put to it specifically on these matters.

Amendment negatived.

Original question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.

Third Reading

Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.

Bill (on motion by Mr Sinclair) read a third time.

Wednesday, 8 December 1971

page 4217


Second Reading

Debate resumed from 23 August (vide page 536), on motion by Mr Anthony:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

Dr J F Cairns:

This Bill seeks to make some minor changes in the way in which the Tariff Board will be doing its work. I make no apology to the House for taking up some of its time at such a late hour, particularly as 1 have taken only 70 minutes of its time in the last 5 weeks, because this is a very serious matter and the amendments to the way in which the Tariff Board is functioning should be very much more considerable than this Bill proposes. Indeed we should before the end of this session examine the whole work of tariff making. I sought to ask a question of the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) at question time the other day which would have focussed this point. I intend this evening to go in for a fairly thorough review of the question and to submit the general outlines of policy of the Opposition. I expect that the Minister will, if not tonight, at a very early opportunity make a reply on behalf of the Government to my comment.

Tariff making in Australia did not begin with the formation of the Tariff Board. Australia had become protectionist by 1908, although Victoria had been so long before and the principles of tariff making for Australia had been in fact laid down in the Interstate Commerce Act of 1914. These were protectionist principles and left no doubt that Australian industry would come first and positive action would be taken for its development. It was not until the famous Scullin tariff of 1930 that any opposing tendencies emerged. Protection by tariffs was then to be given only to industries in Australia up to the point that would allow producers in the United Kingdom ample opportunity to export to Australia. The 1932 principles did not put Australian industry first. They were set out in the interests of industry in the United Kingdom. That is what one would have expected from the times. Australia was in pawn to the United Kingdom and went cap in hand to the British bankers, and the Australian business establishment was ready to do whatever it was told. Although the Scullin tariff is often believed to be the foundation of Australian secondary industry it was only so because the Government acted independently of many of LF.ese pressures and kept the tariffs up. But in the main Australia’s recovery from the depression and development of secondary industry, at quite a slow and unimpressive rate in the 1930s, was not a government induced one. and it did not anticipate Keynes in any way. It was purely free enterprise, influenced by conservative minds in business and the universities. The Tariff Board did not have much to do with what happened. Furthermore, in later years there can be no doubt that World War II import controls had far more influence on industrial development in Australia than anything that happened in the 1930s or anything that tariffs had done. The Tariff Board was an amateur body, if anything, with a free trade bent, and it was only the need of secondary industry for protection that maintained effective tariffs at all.

The influence of import licensing went on through the post-war years and these controls, and not the tariff, determined the level of imports as well as much of their composition. The removal of import licensing in 1960 led to a flood of imports and an economic crisis which almost dislodged the Government. Now the Government was forced to do something about what it was that would replace import controls. The answer was to ask a committee of experts to deal with the problems, the Committee of Economic Enquiry, the Vernon Committee. Tariff policy, of course, was included in the Committee’s area of enquiry. Despite the secondary role of the Tariff Board during all these years we can say that throughout this time industry and the trade unions were left in no doubt that any industry that was efficient, even if not economic, on Australian standards could expect effective tariff protection. But the report of the Vernon Committee was to be the first factor leading towards a change. Whilst the Committee warned that it had not made an exhaustive examination of tariff matters there could be no doubt that the substance of its message was that tariffs were too high and complicated. There are many statements in the Committee’s report, which I will not detail, to show that this was the case.

The Committee went much further in some other directions. It considered that a request about price policy would not be unreasonable when high protection is given. There was a warning for care about industries usually marked by rapid technological advance for which the market may not be large enough. The Committee thought that there was scope in the case of high protection for price undertakings for a 3 or 5 year period, to allow large undertakings of this kind to become consolidated. In its summing up the Committee must have disappointed the free traders a little. The tariff, it said, had played an important part in creating the climate for investment in economic and efficient industries. Whilst it cannot be demonstrated that both total income and incomes per head were higher than they might have been under some alternative system, however, under some alternative system some substitute for the tariff would have been necessary to ensure an industrial structure which, although different in pattern, would have sustained the population increase that occurred and provided both full employment and external economic balance. The Committee then turned away from the concept of a uniform tariff and stressed that the Tariff Board needed a statement from the Government of national objectives and a clear acceptance of the Board as an independent adviser. The Board itself should examine many more industries and should look more closely for evidence; references should require it to examine entire industries and feel free to recommend structural adjustments to be undertaken when an industry has ceased to be, or shows no promise of becoming, economic and efficient.

But in September 1965, the then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, gave the Vernon Committee’s report a very cool reception. Among other things Sir Robert Menzies said the Government had the firmest intention of preserving the full independence of the Tariff Board but he stressed that the Board was an advisory body and that tariff policy as such was the responsibility of the Government, that only Parliament can enact tariffs and that only the Government proposes tariff legislation to Parliament. It was at this point that the Tariff Board began to show its hand and it first looked like a strong hand.

The Annual Report of the Tariff Board for1966-67 showed a Board that was preparing for a change towards lower tariffs. The Board reported that there’has never been an examination ofthe Tariff as a whole … as a result large sections of the Tariff which may involve substantial over-protection have not been examined for many years.’ The Board now proposed a ‘progressive and systematic review of the Tariff consisting of an internal examination by the Board of the structure and levels of protection in the Tariff, together with public inquiries into the main areas of production where there has been no recent public inquiry and where the levels of protection are in the medium to high range.’ No matter how much this was needed the Board could do little to put into effect any progressive and systematic review because of the shortage of staff and the shortage of other means, and it was to remain so.

The Board proposed ‘an initial classification’ of industries into high level protection, medium level protection and low level protection in relation to the overall structure of assistance under which Australian import competing industries operate. The Board was to aim at duties which would ‘contain industries in the high cost area other than those demonstrating clearly compensating external benefits and those which can show beyond reasonable doubt prospects of operating with substantially lower levels of protection within a reasonable time.’

In its report for 1967-68 the Board laid down that high, medium and low rates respectively were effective rates exceeding 50 per cent, 25 per cent but not exceeding 50 per cent, and 25 per cent or less. Effec tive rates of protection are stated by the relation ofthe tariff to that portion of the product that is actually protected. For example, if unprotected raw materials are left out and if, say,thetariffwas50per cent and half the product’s cost was that of raw materials, the effective rate would be 100 per cent. Effective rates always are higher than the normal rates.

Mr Anthony:

– Not always.

Dr J F Cairns:

– No, not always higher but generally speaking that is the effect of the effective tariff concept. The Board indicated its intention of making its initial inquiry review in the areas of protection ‘in which a large part of the output is protected at nominal rates over 50 per cent and most of the products concerned have not been a subject of Tariff Board inquiry in recent years.’ The Board would explore this area and would not recommend protection for industries found to have little prospect of operating with an effective rate below 50 per cent. That is clearly set out at page 5 of the1967-68 report. In the case of indus tries requiring an effective rate exceeding 25 percent but not exceeding 50 per cent the Board would be influenced by the likely effects on other industries and their prospects for more competitive production.

By the time the 1969-70 report was made the Board had gone a little further. This was perhaps the most informed report the Board had made up to date, although much of its statistical material had been readily available in other sources for many years. The Board had decided by now that the average rate of protection in Australia was 46 per cent and the range was from zero to 120 per cent. This average rate of effective protection is said to be equivalent to about$2,700m a year. There has been a great deal of misunderstanding of this figure of$2,700m and a great deal of misuse of it. In an endeavour to clarify the positionI seek leave to incorporate in Hansard about one column of the 1969-70 report so that honourable members and other people may read it for themselves.


– Is leave granted? There being no objection leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -

Structure of protection in Australia

  1. In its 1967-68 report, the Board included some information on the nominal rates of duty on final products in the Australian Tariff. Since then it has undertaken a more detailed study of the effective rales of protection afforded manufacturing industries in Australia. The results of this stud);, together with an explanation of the methods used and the assumptions made, are given in Appendix 2 to this report. While the data for individual industries contain some approximations, the Board is satisfied that these would not significantly affect the conclusions reached.
  2. According to the study, the average rales of effective protection available to individual Australian manufacturing industries in 1967-68 ranged from (J to 120 per cent, and the average rate for manufacturing industry as a whole was 46 per cent. This average nile of effective protection is equivalent to about $2,700m per annum. That is, if all tariff protection available to manufacturing industries in 1967-6S had been fully used, the total cost of the manufacturing processes would have been $2,700ni greater than with the same pattern of manufacturing and no tariffs (see para- 42 in Appendix 2). In interpreting these and other results of the study it should be kept in mind that the figures are averages of the protection available lo industries; that such averages conceal wide variations in the rates for activities comprising each industry; and that the protection available is nol always fully used by. the protected industry.
  3. The average effective rate of protection needed by manufacturing industry to compete profitably against imports is below - and probably significantly below - the average effective rate of protection afforded by the Tariff. This conclusion is suggested by estimates made by the Board of the extent to which different industries utilise the protection available to i hem (see para. 19 of Appendix 2); and it is consistent with the history of protection for many, industries in Australia (including two of the largest, Metal Manufactures and Machinery). Between 1929 and 1932, the Government introduced a number of emergency duties which substantially increased the protection for a wide range of products against import from both General and Preferential sources. Most of the Preferential rates were reduced as a result of Tariff Board inquiries following the United Kingdom-Australia Trade Agreement in 1932. and of the Exchange Adjustment Act of 1933: but the General rates tended to remain at the higher levels, lt has been estimated that, as a result largely of the tariff changes made between 1929 and 1932, the average level of the General tariff in 1938-39 was 54 per cent higher than in 1928- 29; the average level of the Preferential tariff, on the other hand, was estimated to be only 9 per cent higher. During the last 30 years the General rates on many individual products have been reviewed by the Tariff Board, and some of the duties imposed between 1929 and 1932 have been reduced. But large sectors of the Tariff have not been reviewed, and the industries concerned still have today essentially the same tariffs as those imposed for emergency reasons in the early 1930s.
Dr J F Cairns:

– I think that if honourable members examine that extract they will find that if all tariff protection available to manufacturing industries in 1967- 68 had been fully used the total cost of the manufacturing process would have been $2,700m greater than with the same pattern of manufacturing and no tariffs. I point out firstly that the reference to the same pattern of manufacturing without tariff is a totally unreal basis of comparison. It is simply imaginary. Secondly, I think the Board is saying that the protection available is not always fully used by the protected industry and, thirdly, that large sectors of the tariff have not been reviewed and the industries concerned still have today essentially the same tariffs as those imposed in the early 1930s. Fourthly, it is saying that the average effective rate of protection needed by manufacturing industry to compete profitably against imports is below, and probably significantly below, the average effective rate of protection now afforded by the tariff. If this is so the Board is not saying that the cost of tariff protection in Australia is $2,700m; it is saying that actually the figure is much less than that. There are estimates that the cost is as low as $l,000m.

But this is not the strong point of this statement; this is the weak point of this statement. The strong point of the statement is that large sectors of industry are protected by tariffs that have not been reviewed since the 1930s and that average effective rates of tariff needed by manufacturing industry to compete profitably against imports are probably significantly below the average rate actually afforded by the tariff. If this is the case the Board must be equipped to inquire quickly into those large sectors of industry, and others too, and set out clearly, even beyond probability, which tariffs there are which actually give manufacturing industries protection significantly above that which they need to compete against imports. The Tariff Board is much at fault for publishing statements of this kind and the Government is at fault for merely receiving them. If the situation is as the Board says, action must be taken to find out where the tariffs are significantly too high, and reports and recommendations must be made and acted upon without delay. The Minister knows as well as we all know that the Tariff Board, equipped as it is, can never do this. He knows that at its present rate of working it will take years and years to do this, and we will be saying in the 1990s that we still have large sectors of industry that have been protected by tariffs that have never been reviewed since the 1930s.

To retain tariffs which are significantly higher than are necessary is indefensible, if that is what we are doing, and a tariff board that says that they are significantly higher than necessary and a government that accepts that statement and still does nothing about it are equally indefensible. 1 say to the Tariff Board and the Government: Get to work and show us the tariffs that are significantly higher than they should be and take appropriate action. The second main proposition of the Tariff

Board is that it would not recommend protection for industries found to have little prospect of operating with an effective rate of tariff protection below 50 per cent, [t says: ‘If you need a tariff over 50 per cent you will be put out of business unless there are special circumstances’. The e eni of this tariff is indicated by the table on page 86 of the Board’s 1967-68 report. It is a short table and I ask leave to have that table incorporated in Hansard.


– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows) -

Dr J F Cairns:

– It will be seen from this table that industries with an output of at least $1 ,000m are in the category having protection of over 50 per cent. This is a low estimate. Industry in this category would include over 20 per cent of total manufacturing industry and over 20 per cent of employment in manufacturing industry. The 50 per cent and over category includes 34 per cent of paper and paper products, 35 per cent of metal manufacturing, 58 per cent of man-made fibres, 70 per cent of apparel, 70 per cent of cotton textiles and 100 per cent of confectionary. These are all in this category and presumably they would not be able to continue in business if the Tariff Board’s plan was put into operation. Recently Sir Robert Webster had something to say about this matter which, as far as one can bee, the Government has not noticed, and certainly has not answered. On 20th September 1971 he staled:

New industries are not to be encouraged and existing industries are not to be permitted to expand if duties in excess of 50 per cent of effective rate arc required.

In conclusion, 1 would like to say that I have no feeling that industry will be destroyed because of this policy, but sections of it will be seriously damaged and this will spread and continue until it reaches an unacceptable stage. When this occurs something will be done to bring about another change. No government can stand up to the less of employment which would follow from serious damage to such a big and important sector of the economy.

What will the Government do? What does it have to say about this matter? We are in the dark. The Government has been ambiguous and has prevaricated. 1 shall outline now as quickly as I can what the Opposition will do in these cases. Firstly, we will fully equip those who inquire into tariffs to discover and report, without delay, any tariff which is higher - not merely significantly higher - than is needed. Secondly, we will not support the proposition that merely because a tariff is in excess of 50 per cent or higher it is excessive. Indeed, I now want to set out the broad pattern of what the Opposition will do about tariffs and industrial development when it becomes the Government. We will establish a ministry of manufacturing industry which will be concerned with the development of manufacturing industry, the processing of minerals and She export of the products of secondary industry and of processed minerals. We will have a ministry of primary industry which will do the same for primary industry. We will expand and develop the Tariff Board, or whatever it may be called, to:

  1. Fully and expeditiously inquire into existing industry as to its supply, methods, costs, profits, prices and its relations with other manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers;
  2. Report as to existing efficiency and economies and upon changes likely to improve efficiency and economies, including the scale of operations;
  3. What, if any, provision should be made for the development or maintenance of the industry. Such provision would extend beyond tariffs or subsidy and would include such things as loans to carry over seasonal and other terminating disadvantages and assistance in exporting such as long term credit, shipping and insurance which would have meaning and reality;
  4. Research and introduction of new machinery and techniques;
  5. Factors and conditions other than efficiency and economy which .should be taken into account and the effect of them. 1 emphasise these other factors and conditions. To me there is not only one test about what we should do in Australia - the test of what is efficient and economic. We have also been concerned in Australia with a standard and quality of life which is not, if we can prevent it, to be left to the pressures of the economic jungle. I agree substantially with what Sir Robert Webster said in another part of his speech when he staled:

The chief reason for the inability of Australian manufacturers to compete generally with imported goods is the high standard of living which we enjoy in this country, which follows from our hours of work, rates of pay, holiday, sick leave and other fringe benefits of various kinds - all prescribed by law.

I agree with all those matters provided that Sir Robert includes them for the owners and managers of industry as well. He appears to be thinking only of workers. The Australian Labor Party will not accept any reduction of tariffs or any change of policy which will cause unemployment if those unemployed are to be left to the capitalist market - national or international. We will not accept tariff or policy changes which cause unemployment which is unfair or unreasonable, or if ample provision is not made for those who may become unemployed. In order to put such a policy into operation the Australian Labor Party will act along lines similar to these:

  1. When it is recommended that action should be taken to reduce tariffs or subsidies or other assistance so that it might be expected that an industry or part of an industry would be limited or terminated so as to cause unemployment the recommendation must include indications where more efficient employment, if any, is available.
  2. A re-employment, retraining and compensation commission will be established to administer the following provisions: (a) Where any person has been employed in any industry that is limited or terminated as a result of public policy such person will receive a disemployment allowance equal to the pay he received when employed in the limited or curtailed industry until he obtains employment comparable with that lost, (b) Where any person has been employed in any industry that is limited or terminated as a result of public policy such person shall be entitled to retraining on a part or full-time basis and an appropriate retraining allowance will be paid to such person during retraining.

Existing standards and qualifications will be met fully in any retraining that takes place, (c) Any person who is an owner or shareholder in an industry normally receives profits and other returns which assume that such person acceps the benefits and losses of risk-taking, but compensation may be paid to any such person who is an owner or shareholder of any industry limited or terminated as a result of public policy if he has not received profits and/or other benefits from that industry which have given such person a reasonable return from his actual investment, but not in such case if the income and/or wealth of such person is such that any loss he may have suffered is reasonable.

  1. lt would be the responsibility of the Ministry for manufacturing industry to ensure, inter alia: (a) That no unreasonable price or restrictive condition is charged or imposed by any assisted or protected industry, (b) That control of manufacturing and processing industries in Australia is maintained by Australians, (c) That imports are increased from developing countries and from countries that have for them a marked unfavourable balance of trade with Australia. This policy would result in a number of conditions, lt would result in the more efficient and economic use of resources. Tt would result in greater mobility of resources and quicker movement to more efficient and economic employment. It would result in a reduction or prevention of unreasonable losses by individuals who cannot afford such losses as a result of any industrial change to give effect to public policy. It would result in an advance in research and in its application. lt would result in improvement in skill and capacity as a result of retraining and education.

It would result in an increase in exports and imports, in particular with developing countries and with countries whose trade with Australia is in excess of Australia’s trade with them. It would result in the maintenance and advancement of the Australian standard of living and the quality of life which would continue to be protected to the full extent of our ability from standards set in low wage and capital intensive countries where the working class is ineffective and unorganised. These standards will not become the determinants of Australian standards as long as we have the will and capacity to prevent it.

If economic pressures ever become so great that the Australian fair and reasonable standard cannot be maintained then some government other than a Labor government can go ahead and impose the resultant conditions upon Australia. It will not be a Labor government that consents to that policy. I have faced the serious problems that are involved in the making of tariffs and in the development of secondary industry in this country. If not only the level of employment but also problems like decentralisation are to be handled satisfactorily in this country they must be handled by further development of manufacturing industry. We cannot decentralise in this country if we rely or seek to rely upon rural industry. As the years go by a smaller proportion of our people is being employed in primary industry, and that trend will continue. If we are to have anything like decentralisation, if we are to have anything like the establishment of new and better urban areas, we can have them only by the development of manufacturing industry. I suggest that we must have a policy which is far in advance of the horse and buggy type of tariff making policy which still prevails in this country and which has prevailed almost unchanged since the 1930s.

I have set out in some considerable detail a policy which 1 think is the approach that would be made by the Australian Labor Party. I do not put it forward as a blueprint that would not be changed in certain respects. But I put it forward as an indication of a policy of a party that understands the necessity for a Parliament to exercise primary responsibility in the development of industry in the interests of those who take part in it. lt is a challenge to those who look forward to a continuation of this haphazard kind of uninformed intervention that has been the policy of Liberal-Country Party governments for 20 years - a policy of uninformed, unplanned, haphazard, after the event intervention without proper anticipation. The only alternative to this policy which comes from spokesmen on the Government side involves a return to greater and greater laissez-faire, lt involves greater and greater reliance upon the market to do whatever it will to sweep aside employment, if this is done in the name of efficiency, without any proper regard being paid to what will happen to the people who might be swept aside. The Australian Labor Party will accept neither of those 2 alternatives. I have put forward tonight a third alternative which is, in my opinion, the direction in which the development of a government’s relations with manufacturing industry in this country should go. I am waiting for the Government to give us its reply.

McMillan (12.32 a.m.

– It is rather incredible that time after time when we debate tariff matters we become involved in many words such as those we have just heard from the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F, Cairns), which mean very little. I was very interested to hear the honourable member for Lalor praising Sir Robert Webster. I cannot imagine for one minute that, in the event of the tragedy of there being a Labor government in Australia, it would follow the advice of somebody who has done as much as Sir Robert Webster has done to develop Australian industry. But, while it suits members of the Labor Party, they use these words, they appeal and they tell us what they will do. None of them has had any practical experience in running a business. None of them has had the practical experience of ‘ undertaking manufacturing industry. None of them has had the experience of having to make the system work. We all know that their real objective behind all these words is just to nationalise all those industries that really matter in this country.

The Tariff Board Bill that we are debating tonight is quite a different mutter, lt is a very simple Bill. Its purpose is to increase the number of members on the Tariff Board from 8 to 9 - something which I did not hear the honourable member for Lalor say anything about at all about. Basically the idea of the Bill is that simple issues related to by-laws, dumping, classification and the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement should be handled by one member of the Tariff Board. I would have liked to have heard the Opposition give some views on this area of tariff protection. I would have liked to have heard the Opposition say something about what it thinks of the by-law provisions. We know of its old hackneyed views on the tariff itself. We have been through them so often. The idea of being able to refer to a one-member Board instead of a 2-member Board some controversial matter in relation to by-laws or other special problems is a good one.

The questions of by-law entry are of the greatest importance to many industries either in the period of establishment or, more particularly. I think, at a time of expansion or of replacement of equipment when they are looking for greater efficiency to effect cost savings and to improve quality. If Australian plant and equipment is available Australian industries should use it. 1 do not think there is any question about that. If suitable plant is available from local manufacturers then other producers, who themselves no doubt expect Australians to buy their goods, have a responsibility to buy and use local plant. If plant is available and someone decides to use imported machinery because it may suit him to do so - he has to make a cost estimate - then he should pay the duty and not have any argument. But if the required plant and equipment are not available the firm which is going to install improved or new plant should not have to pay duty and add unnecessarily to capital costs. This could very easily run into hundreads and perhaps even millions of dollars. This is a clear and simple statement of the facts of life.

The position is quite clear when there is just no question that a particular type of machine is not made in Australia, but it becomes contentious when machinery generally of the kind but not of the same type required is available. Worse still is the complication when an Australian manufacturer says that in his opinion he could make it although he has never actually done so. Even if he has equipment on which the machinery could be made, and perhaps also the knowhow. that does not mean necessarily that he could have the blueprints to produce the particular article. I wish I had time to expand on that because I think it is a very important part of the by-law area. The prospective user, when he comes to apply for by-law entry, can argue on all sorts of grounds and can complain about the capacity or quality of the local product while a prospective maker may claim that anyone trying to obtain by-law entry is merely trying to avoid the duty. This is not always the case. It is very important for a manufacturer to get the right type of machinery if he is to have the most efficient management of the product that he is trying to make.

One aspect of referring anything at all to the Tariff Board is the long time that it takes the Board to arrive at a conclusion. The average time taken with normal Tariff Board inquiries is 2 years. In bis second reading speech on this Bill the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) suggested that decisions should be available within 3 months. Yet in practice the Department of Trade and Industry claims that properly documented applications are processed within J week and 4 weeks. 1 would like to expand a little bit on what is being done now because procedures have been streamlined with the result that the number of applications has been cut back from a peak of over 50,000 a year - that is. 1,000 applications a week - for by-law entry. That gives honourable members some idea of the size of this problem. But by streamlining the processes this has been cut back to just half that figure. In 1969- 70 the figure was 25,157. The first step was to increase the published list of goods for which standing by-law entry was accepted. Outside this comes an area in which ad hoc approval must be sought, each approval covering only the requirements of one particular applicant if the suitably equivalent goods are not reasonably available. By establishing lists based on experience a large number of these individual applications could be processed very quickly.

The next step taken to facilitate the processing of applications was to set up a manufacturers index which made it less time consuming to go the round of manufacturers and ask them whether they could manufacture the product under scrutiny. Applicants are required to give firm evidence of genuine effort to find a source of supply locally. This has been a ve rj’ big help, too. Instead of just ordering something and then asking for by-law entry, the importers know that they are required to go to the Department of Customs and Excise first and indicate that they will be looking for by-law entry. They have to make sure that they have had a look to see whether the product can be made in Australia.

Raising the minimum level of duty concession from $40 to $100 has. also resulted in cutting down the unwieldy number of applications that were being received through our comprehensive tariff coverage. The Department now has a very comprehensive indication of what is not being made in Australia, as well as having a valuable guide to what is being produced and by whom. So we have a picture of the by-law section of the Department of Customs and Excise having done a great deal to bring this vexed problem of by-law entry into manageable proportions. But there are always particularly contentious problems. There are areas in which a delay sometimes as long as a year might have been necessary because of the application going backwards and forwards. It is hoped that by referring these matters to the Tariff Board with this one extra member it will be able to make decisions that will tie in with the general picture of tariffs as it should be.

There are several other aspects of what is happening in the field of tariffs. In particular, in the last Tariff Board report reference was made to the fact that the Board is referring some of the examination which normally would be done by its own staff to outsiders. Quite a lot was said about this when it first came under notice. The Minister made a statement in the House in which he explained what was happening. Everybody accepts this, and it really served the purpose of putting the question back where it is no longer one of controversy.

This proposal has been accepted, although 3 members of the Tariff Board dissented from the wording of the Tariff Board report. This proposal still will be carried out whether or not they dissented. One point I want to make quite emphatically is that the Minister said that he was making his statement after legal advice had been received from the Attorney-General’s Department. He said:

  1. . it is perfectly proper that the Tariff Board should have a research staff available to it . . .

Of course it should. We all believe in this. lt is the fact that it is a temporary staff that has been worrying people. The Minister says that this is perfectly legal. However, I emphasise that it is not a question of whether it is legal; it is a question of whether it is right and proper. It is a question of morality, credibility and acceptability. Industry does not accept the fact that confidential information which has been given in the course of a Tariff Board inquiry should be made available to people who are not part of the normal staff. Later in his statement the Minister said: . . it is not uncommon for government departments themselves to engage outside consultants.

There are only 2 agencies which could come in this category and they are the Taxation Office and the Commonwealth Statistician. In their cases it is definitely written into the Acts which govern them. Provision is made to ensure that no outsiders are allowed in. There is absolute secrecy. The information that is made available must be confined within their own staffs. Outsiders are not allowed to handle the information that comes to those departments. That is specifically provided in the relevant Acts but there is no provision such as that in the Tariff Board Act.

I would like to refer now to a practice that has crept into Tariff Board procedures which suggests that the Board is giving itself powers which it does not possess. I have spoken about this before and I would just like to give another example. This is the arrangement under which industry gives to the Board written information on the case it will make and in answer to questions asked by the Board. The Board has for years been in the practice of sending out questionnaires before an inquiry is undertaken. The first point 1 want to make is that under the Tariff Board Act the Board is required to conduct a public inquiry, and anyone wanting to make a case at that inquiry is entitled to go along to it and give his evidence in public and on oath. The arrangements under which industry gives the Tariff Board written information and answers to questions in advance of a public inquiry amount purely and simply to industry trying to co-operate and help the Tariff Board in the interests of facilitating the inquiry, and this is sensible. If the Tariff Board can have all this information before it holds the inquiry, the Board and its staff can have a lot of the work done in advance. The Board will be better informed and that is what we all want. It will understand the problems much better, lt will know the aspects that need to be probed at the inquiry.

But 1 want to make quite clear the point that industry gives all this information in writing in advance of the inquiry on a purely voluntary and co-operative basis in order to assist the Board. To be legal and technical, what it is doing is to give the Board in writing in advance of the inquiry the evidence that it later will give at the public inquiry. It is only on the evidence given at the public inquiry that the Tariff Board can reach its judgments. That is a provision of the Tariff Board Act. It has been brought to my notice that recent circulars of the Tariff Board suggest that the Board has the idea that it only has to call and industry must jump. For example, a Tariff Board circular on domestic appliances stales: lt was stated in Tariff Board Circular 115/71 that the timetable for the inquiry required intending witnesses to forward to the Board ‘.heir Statements of Evidence, based on the Board’s Booklets, not later than 22nd October 1971.

Intending witnesses who are unable to comply with that timetable are now informed tha the time allowed foi the completion and return of statements has been extended until 26th November 1971

I draw the attention of the House to the words ‘required’ and ‘time allowed’. The Tariff Board seems to be sending out a message that compliance is obligatory, and is suggesting that if you do not comply it will be to your detriment or perhaps even that you may not be allowed to take part in the inquiry. But the Board has no authority to make demands. It must ask that the people who intend to give evidence will comply. 1 raise some very grave objections to any suggestions that industry is bound in some way to comply with the dictates of the Tariff Board in this matter. I certainly hope that industry will meet the Board’s timetable, when it is asked, provided that the timetable is reasonable. Naturally we want to do the best we can, but what industry does has to be on the basis of a voluntary and co-operative effort. In particular I make it perfectly clear that the authority given to the Tariff Board under the Tariff Board Act is to conduct a public inquiry at which evidence is given in public on oath.

Merely to put straight the rights of an individual on this issue - I do not suggest that a company do this - I say that there is nothing to prevent a person turning up at an inquiry to give his evidence without having given any of it in writing in advance. The supplying of written evidence in advance is not obligatory. While I am on the subject of rights I make it clear that there is no obligation on industry to take part in what the Tariff Board calls pre-inquiry studies. These studies were condemned by Board members Dudley and Hampel in a minority opinion in the 1970- 71 report. They asked that the studies be discontinued. In my view they should be discontinued, and industry should see that they are discontinued by having no part in them. I make it clear that industry’s participation in a pre-inquiry study would be a voluntary and co-operative effort on the part of industry. The Tariff Board has no legal authority to conduct such studies or to enforce industry’s participation. Tn the light of the results of the pre-inquiry study into the book manufacturing industry, I do not think an industry would be wise to take part in pre-inquiry studies in future. I would very much like to have had sufficient time to talk about post-inquiries examinations because these are even worse.


– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.


– Under the present Government the intention behind this Bill is a good one. Something had to be done about the steady slowing down of the Tariff Board. The Bill will be of some assistance towards reducing this slow-down if the inquiries on dumping, by-laws, tariff classification and the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement are dealt with separately from the complex time-consuming inquiries associated with whether an industry should be protected and, if so, at what level. But the changes contemplated will do little or nothing to reduce the rate of slow-down in the Board’s handling of these complex and particularly important inquiries. What the Bill can do is to enable the dumping and other inquiries to be disentangled from the slow grinding machinery of the Board and handled in a separate channel. This should mean that the time from the reference of one of these issues to the Board until the delivery of the Board’s report should take no longer than 3 months. This will be a tremendous improvement. In recent years such cases have taken anything from 8 months to 2 years.

Non-tariff revision cases are not greatly involved issues. Although they do call for sound judgment they do not entail the gathering and analysis of masses of evidence, investigation of costs, prices and profits or involved judgments on whether an industry is economic and efficient. Indeed the Tariff Board, in its 1964-65 annual report, suggested that the Board’s role in dealing with dumping cases was very much a routine endorsement of the findings of an investigation by the Department of Customs and Excise. The Board said that it would be better to relieve the Board of them altogether and to let the Minister make the judgment. However, it is possibly a good thing to retain the public inquiry procedures in connection with both dumping and other cases. The best solution is to make special provision for handling them quickly. A look at some of the reports on these issues suggests that they took the time they did simply because they had to take their turn among the other inquiries. Put simply, for the greater part of the time they just lay around waiting for attention.

It would have been better had the Bill provided that the additional member of the Tariff Board was to be engaged solely on these particular cases. This would have ensured that non-tariff revision cases would be handled separately and quickly, away from the other inquiries. If it is a good thing to handle these references separately and quickly - I think the Minister suggested it in his second reading speech and I am certain that industry considers that it is essential that they be handled quickly - the Government should have laid down in the Bill that this bc done. Instead it has thrown itself on the mercy of the chairman of the Tariff Board, as it has done consistently in the past few years. It is to be the Chairman’s decision whether the new member or any other member of the Tariff Board will be used entirely on non-tariff revision cases as a single particular division of the Board. I certainly would like to have seen this written into the Bill as I cannot be certain that the present staff of the Tariff Board is being used economically and efficiently.

About 4 weeks ago, during the debate on the estimates for the Department of Trade and Industry, I quoted figures which showed that in 1950-51, with a staff of approximately 15, the Board produced 38 reports. In 1962-63 the Board produced 58 reports with a staff of approximately 60. Last year with a staff of abour 160, augmented by part-time assistance of academics from the Monash University, the Board could produce only 25 reports. This looks like a clear example of Parkinson’s law in operation. I should like the Minister to say why it is that in 1950-51, with a staff of 14 or 15, the Board could deliver 38 reports but with a staff 12 or 13 times greater in 1970-71 it could produce only 25 reports. The answer cannot be that inquiries these days are more difficult, more involved, more detailed and more time consuming. The answer is not, as the Tariff Board tries to suggest, that industry is slow in giving it information. A look at the time lag between the close of a public inquiry and the delivery of a report makes that suggestion a lot of nonsense. The answer seems to be that the now tremendous staff resources of the Tariff Board are being employed in pursuing pet theories instead of getting on with the inquiry and report work of the Board.

Last year the Tariff Board started with a backlog of 54 references. During the year it increased its staff steadily and finished with a backlog of 63 cases. That must make nonsense of the Government’s talk about a systematic review of the tariffs. At the rate of progress indicated by the Board’s recent history, the review will take about 50 years during which the Board’s staff will increase to about 5,000. I suggest that the Minister should call in the investigation services of the Public Service Board to overhaul the use of the Tariff Board’s staff. One of the interesting spectacles we have witnessed since the present Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) took office has been his readiness to spring to the defence of the Tariff Board at the slightest provocation and virtually to defend it tooth and nail come what. may. This is a remarkable phenomenon which warrants close study, lt might, at first, be thought that he believes in the infallibility of the Tariff Board just as much as the Tariff Board itself does, but this does not hold against his involvement in the recent decision to reject the Tariff Board’s recommendations on knitted and woven shirts, and a rejection it was, even though the decision was dressed up to make it seem the opposite. The Prime Minister obviously was on side with that decision because he mentioned it with some pride on a couple of occasions. In fact, he drew attention to it with pride in answering a question on the Tariff Board a few weeks ago. Of course, it was not easy to see at the time he was answering the question that he was mentioning the shirt decision with pride, because he was almost trembling with rage against the honourable member who bad had the temerity to criticise the Tariff Board. The Prime Minister seemed to forget that the recent controversy about the actions of the Tariff Board had arisen from the dissenting opinions of 3 members of the Tariff Board itself. These members of the Board had been critical of the Chairman of the Board for allowing consultants hired from universities to have access to confidential information given to the Board by companies appearing before the Board. The same members were critical also of the likely reflection on the reports and recommendations of the Board when it became known that views and recom medations had been sought from anonymouse specialists outside the Board and, of all places, Monash University.

The Prime Minister obviously wants all of us to reject the opinion of these 3 Tariff Board members. But what they had to say about the actions of the Tariff Board is contained in the formal and official annual report of the Tariff Board made to this Parliament, and their opinions cannot be ignored. The present controversy about the Tariff Board has developed within the Tariff Board itself; it is not something which has been generated by manufacturing industries, by their organisations or by the Opposition in the Parliament as the Prime Minister would have the Parliament and the community believe. I suggest that rather than the Prime Minister getting excited about it, we must look very soberly and quietly at this issue of confidential information. The people defending the action of the Chairman of the Tariff Board are saying that, after all, the university people really were temporary public servants for the purpose of helping out the Board, that they had been duly sworn in and that everything therefore was in order.

The important thing to be noted is that the companies whose confidential information was being handed over knew nothing at all about it. They gave their confidential information believing that the safeguards of. SO years tradition were being continued. That tradition, as the Minister’s predecessor Sir John McEwen so often told us, was that confidential information given to the Tariff Board does not go outside the Board and its staff - not even to him when he was Minister for Trade and Industry, not to the Prime Minister and not even to the Cabinet when sitting in judgment on a Tariff Board report. I take it that all Ministers are all duly and properly sworn.

On 30th September this year I asked a question of the Minister for Trade and Industry regarding the use of outside consultants by the Tariff Board and he advised the Parliament that he had referred the matter to the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) for opinion. The Minister must have had some doubts about the legality of the use of such personnel or he would not have taken such an action. However, it was not until 3rd November that the Minister made a statement setting out the opinions of the Attorney-General on the matter. The Minister said: . . that it is perfectly proper that the Tariff Board should have a research staff available to it at all stages of its work. I refer to the use both of permanent staff and of consultants.

But he went on:

I add that the discussions that have taken place have shown that, in regard to the engagement of consultants, appropriate procedures were nol followed. Revised procedures for engagement have since been agreed upon with the Public Service Board and wilh the Attorney-General’s Department.

Mr Anthony:

– That is related only to matters of pay.


– The Minister for Trade and Industry interjects that it has been in relation to the matter of pay only. His remarks do not read that way here. The Minister went to to say -

Mr Anthony:

– lt does not read that way in the context in which the honourable member is putting it.


– lt does not read as the Minister has suggested it reads in the context I am putting it. It does not read that way in the context of the speech that the Minister made because he said that appropriate procedures were not followed in the engagement of this staff. I feel that the 3 members of the Tariff Board who presented a dissenting opinion, even if they were right only in that point alone, were entitled to put in their dissenting opinion. Members on this side of the House agree that the report of the dissenting members was not a complete attack upon the Tariff Board. But the Prime Minister certainly has tried to make an out by saying that anybody who criticises the Tariff Board is commiting in his eyes a grave error. I think that the dissenting members of the Tariff Board have been more than upheld in the judgment that they expressed. I do not quibble with the right of the Tariff Board to have research staff available. But I would prefer to see them as permanent members of the staff. In this statement that the Minister made on 3rd November, he mentioned that the Tariff Board was having difficulty in getting this staff. If it is necessary to employ pact time consultants or research officers - call them what you will - I think that the names of the people engaged, their background and their qualifications should be made available to the industry that is being studied by them so that the industry may decide whether it will become part and parcel of that inquiry or whether it will rest entirely on the public inquiry that the Tariff Board will conduct.

I asked a question seeking the names of those so employed. 1 have not received those names. They have not been announced. Who is to know whether some of these consultants are not people like Eccles, the free trader’, his mentor the Modest Member’, ‘Prof the Protectionist’, Curly the Com’ or even ‘Don from the DLP’? Industry is being asked to give confidential information to the Tariff Board. Industry is entitled to know that those people who are being used part time, even if they are sworn in, are people who can be trusted. Industry should know something about their background and about their attitudes to tariff policy. If information is given to industry about .the part time people, the Government may be able to go somewhere along the line .towards having a pieinquiry analysis or a post-inquiry analysis carried out with the concurrence of industry. But until such time as the manufacturing industry knows who these people are, I do not blame it for not giving confidential information to either permanent members or part time members of the Tariff Board.

Industry protects its information. As I said, a matter of weeks ago, for someone to go into another industry and find out something about its costs, its profits or its prices is regarded as industrial espionage. I do not think that the Minister can disregard this matter. The real issue in the use of outside part time consultants, whether sworn or unsworn, is whether manufacturing industry is willing to have its confidential information handed out to academics from Monash or any other university. The answer can be given by the manufacturing industry only. It is up to the Minister to ensure that the trust which industry has placed in the Tariff Board in excess of 50 years is not disturbed.

I come back to the suggestion that I made earlier in my speech. It is time that the activities of the Tariff Board were investi gated to see whether its staff is being economically and efficiently used and whether the attitudes at present adopted by the Board are in keeping with the opinions of the Parliament, the Government, industry and the Australian community.


Because of the hour it is not my intention to talk on this Bill for so” long as I might have done, but there are a few points that I should like to make. I believe that probably the most important aspect of this Bill is the fact that the Tariff Board is to be provided with sufficient members and assistants to enable it to reach the most efficient decisions in the shortest possible time. The Bill moves in that direction; it is designed to achieve those objectives which obviously are needed. While I recognise that, 1 am still concerned that, even with the provisions in this Bill, too much time will be lost in the Tariff Board arriving at decisions. 1 commend the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) and the Government on bringing this Bill down, but I still believe that it just does not go far enough. I think that when there is a necessity to expedite the decisions of the Tariff Board, more will have to be done to ensure that decisions are reached more quickly.

The difficulties and disadvantages in having tariff protection which has not been reviewed could be very great. Unless the tariff protection which is provided is reviewed and examined reasonably regularly, no-one can be sure whether the tariff protection that is being given is justified. Because of the high cost of tariff protection it is high time that we ensured that the protection which is provided is justified. 1 recognise the fact that tariff protection has to be provided, and this has been pointed out by most speakers, but it is essential that it be limited to that degree which will enable an efficient and economic industry to compete with the competition with which it is faced. If an industry docs that we will achieve all that tariff protection can achieve so far as the welfare of this country is concerned.

If tariff protection is too high, it leaves avenues through which manufacturers can accede to the exorbitant demands of unions for higher wages, which in turn mean higher prices because manufacturers can pass on higher wages in the form of higher prices. Tariff protection allows this to be done. If the protection is too high, the cost comes back to the people, and among the people affected are primary producers who are suffering very severely as a result of conditions which are beyond the control of the Government. 1 refer to droughts and to low world prices for commodities. Primary producers cannot continue to carry rising costs without receiving further assistance from the Government. We must do everything in our power to control costs.

If this review of the tariffs reveals that a reduction in tariffs can be made - 1 believe that it can - then everything that possibly can be done should be done to review those tariffs with the object of seeing what reductions can be made. 1 listened carefully to the case made out by the Opposition, but 1 found that it was very much in general terms. I was deeply disappointed to find that there was no blue print, no provision, no exact plan at all for implementing what the Opposition said should be done. The Opposition said that to retain tariffs which are significantly too high is indefensible, but it did not spell out the means to overcome the problem. Again in general terras the Opposition said that action should be taken where the tariff is too high. But the Opposition did not demonstrate that it had a method which would achieve that objective more efficiently than what the Government is doing, and 1 am sure that the Opposition cannot do so. After listening to the debate tonight and to the Opposition’s proposals, J believe that the Opposition’s main concern, despite what it has said, is to keep tariffs on the high side. lt is more concerned - to some extent I share its concern in this regard - about keeping employment at a high level. But the Opposition is not very deeply concerned about this question of high tariffs because it has not shown that it will do anything to reduce them, except to make some passing reference to them and to make platitudes about what should be done. Nothing is spelt out. but quite obviously there is the intention to see that these tariffs remain irrespective of whether they have to be paid by primary producers or anybody else. Irrespective of who will bear the costs that excessive tariffs can bring, that is the inten tion. 1 believe that the cost to primary producers of tariffs is still much higher than it ought to be.

Honourable members opposite have cited figures, which are quite well known, on the protection available to individual Australian manufacturing industries in 1967-68. The figures range from nothing to 120 per cent, with an average rate of 46 per cent. According to the Tariff Board, the average rate of effective protection if fully utilised, as the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) did say, could amount to $2,700m a year. But we know that that maximum is not attained. The honourable member referred to a figure of SI, 000m a year, but he did not tell us how he arrived at the figure or what was the source of his information. I suggest that the case made out by the Opposition tonight on the tariff structure has been nothing more than the statement of a few facts without a real plan.

The Government is offering a method by which it can review tariffs. As I have already said in criticism of it, I do not think that it goes far enough, but it is a step in the right direction. The primary producers of this country in particular can look to this Bill with some hope for relief from the high measure of tariffs which exist.

Mr Cope:

– What about the unemployed?


– We do not want unemployed. We want a measure of protection which will enable efficient and economic industries to operate. This will keep people employed. A high tariff structure enables exorbitant demands for increased wages to be successful. For the benefit of the honourable member who interjected I repeat that great increases in wages help to price us out of some markets, but because we have tariff protection in this country some exorbitant wage demands are agreed to. lt is essential that the method of the Tariff Board advising the Government be streamlined and in this regard it may be necessary to appoint more members. We would envisage that an extra member of the Board would be given specialist work to do. There are plenty of areas in the field of tariffs in which a specialist could profitably employ his time as a full time member of the Board. For example - these may have been mentioned before - a specialist could concentrate on by-law admissions and cancellations and develop expertise in that field. There is room for that to be done.

Such a specialist could also become more efficient through concentrating on dumping. The addition of goods to the schedules under the New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement should not. occupy the time of members of the Tariff Board. They would be better employed in conducting tariff reviews. Tariff classifications, values for duty, concessional admission of goods from developing countries and such matters, in my view are ones which could well be handled by a single member of the Board.

I make the suggestion to the Minister that it would be preferable for one member of the Board to specialise in those areas. If necessary, another Board member should be appointed to cope with the backlog of reviews of tariffs that are so long overdue. As I intended, 1 have limited my time to half the period available to me. With all due modesty, 1 feel that in that time I have put to the Minister more sensible suggestions than were put by honourable members opposite in almost triple the time I . have taken. I commend the Bill with the qualification that perhaps more could be done.

Mr CREAN (Melbourne Ports) ) (1.20 a.m.) - I would like to say a few words about this Bill. According to the notes circulated by the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr Anthony) the main purpose of the Bill is to amend the Tariff Board Act to provide for an additional member of the Tariff Board and to provide for single-member boards to conduct inquiries and submit reports on certain matters. A lot of nonsense has been talked about the tariff. In fact, people talk about the tariff as though it were a pound of butter. The tariff that we are describing is something which protects approximately a quarter of the national income or the gross national product of Australia. It covers all of the goods that could be imported into Australia if we did not have the tariff.

Everybody knows that over a great period of our history we have gone from a point where we were a nation of serfs and peasants entirely dependent on primary produce for our sustenance to a point where. as one of the smaller nations of the world, we manufacture more goods in aggregate than we produce in our primary industries. All that this Bill does ls to short circuit the way in which we determine the question of the tariff, if I may put it in that way. We are talking about the addition of one member to the Tariff Board. I am sorry that this Bill has come along at the dead end of the session. The Bill has been on the notice paper literally for months. However, it has been brought on at the dead of night at the end of the session. Honourable members are engaging in debate about primary production as against secondary production, and surely this is not the purpose of the Bill.

Mr Anthony:

– There has been very little of that tonight.


– There may have been very little but all I am saying to the Minister is: Why have you waited so long to debate this kind of proposition? After all, this is a technical matter in which we are to determine whether we should have .one more member on a board of several and whether we should sever the kinds of matters which the Board determines. We have argued this sort of thing before. The case for single-member boards again is a technical kind of matter. However, we are debating the Bill as though we are arguing the whole question of the tariff, and that is not what we are arguing at all. As 1 have said, this is a sheer mechanical matter.

The honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett) who spoke before me raised the question of primary industry as against secondary industry. Surely we are past the stage where we argue whether primary industry is more important in aggregate than secondary industry. The point about this argument surely is whether much of primary industry - and the wool industry is a principal example - depends upon internal markets or external markets. I thought that the honourable member for Maranoa was going to speak at some length upon the question of the tariff and how much we are to allow industry inside of this country to compete relatively with industry outside.

I should have thought that the Minister would have brought forward this Bill several days ago when we had much more time to consider these matters than we have now. It is absurd to be talking at half past one in the morning about a matter that relates to something like a quarter to one-half the gross national product of Australia. In many instances, it is a purely technical kind of matter. To my mind the gravamen of this kind of thing is not how many members there are on the Tariff Board but what resources are available to the Board to do its duty. Surely this depends on having economists and on having people expert-

Mt Buchanan - Econometricists


– Econometricists, if you like. Like the honourable member for McMillan, I have great difficulty at this time of night in getting my tongue round that term. Nevertheless, I think it is a significant term. I understand it means merely measuring the economy. ‘Oikos’ means ‘house’, ‘oikonomia’ means literally management of the house’ and ‘metrikos’ means ‘concerned with measurement’. Surely this is significant as far as the total economy is concerned. We have got past the stage of being a peasant economy. Our economy is dependent much more on the basic state of industry in the country as a whole. What I think is wrong with the Government at the moment is that it has no sense as to the overall purpose of the economy. ff there is one point at which one determines the purpose of the economy it is surely this question of the tariff. I have often talked on this question of the tariff. People sometimes talk about the tariff as though, as I said earlier, it is a pound of butter. It is not. ff I may simplify the definition, the tariff is a tax that one hopes one will not collect because the purpose of the tariff is to keep out of one’s internal economy goods that might otherwise come in without it. The whole purpose of the tariff is the proper allocation of resources. Surely a significant matter in any economy is whether the tariff is operating in such a way that certain goods which could come in cannot come in - and it is silly not to let them in - or whether it is operating to protect what are sometimes described as infant industries’ in order to diversify the economy. Australia, of all places, is put in such a position in the world that it has to give more concern to these things than most other places. I see this Bill as being a purely mechanical one. It enlarges by one person the number of people who can sit on the Tariff Board in total and it divides the activities of the Board, but it does not get down to determining in any way why we have a tariff at all and what is the significance of the tariff in the totality of our economy. That is why I think it is rather absurd that a Bill which has been on the notice paper for several months should be brought on for debate at this time of the night when matters of not much significance have been brought on for debate at more opportune times. 1 am sure that the honourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly) who, if I may say so, has always been a great agitator us far as the principles of the tariff are concerned

Mr Kelly:

– ‘Agitator’ is not the word I would have used.


– Perhaps the honourable member for Wakefield will explain later what word he would have used. 1 am sure that if the honourable member explained it now there would not be too many who would listen to him. In view of the business that this House has been transacting over recent weeks surely this kind of measure deserved a much more significant place on the notice paper:

Mr Hurford:

– You have said that; let us go to bed.


– My colleague wants to go to bed. Maybe that is a good suggestion. With respect to the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) who puts the gag on us whenever he can, a matter that appears on the notice paper is as significant to some honourable members as any other matter. The question of when to bring it on is surely of some significance. This matter has lain around for many months. Why does it have to come on this evening? If the honourable member wishes to gag the debate it is up to him. All I am suggesting is that this does not reach the significance of the problems of the tariffs. Whether we augment the numbers of the board by one member is the least significant part of the problem of how to evaluate the tariff in an economy such as Australia’s. I hope that when we come back for the new session in February greater opportunity will be given to this House to debate the significance to the total Australian economy of the tariff.

Mr Kelly:

– And earlier in the night.


– And earlier in the night. It camouflages the realities of a serious situation over which even in my own Party there are differences.

Mr Kelly:

– We have differences too.


– Yes, you do. When we ask which industry and on which aspect we should lower the tariff the Government has the same kinds of problems as we have. We then move into the textile industry and consider shirts, woven goods and so on, and every honourable member on this side asks: ‘Which particular aspect and which particular industry?’ I hope that, not in the early hours of the morning but in the early days of the next session, we will get down to the fundamentals of this very significant problem.

Minister for Trade and Industry · Richmond · CP

– in reply - 1 will take the advice of the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) and be as brief as possible at this late hour. 1 do not apologise to him for bringing on this Bill at this late stage of the session or this late hour of the night. I regret it happening and wish the debate could have come on earlier in the session. However, the programme did not enable this to be done. The honourable member said that this was more or less a machinery piece of legislation which should not provoke general debate and he is correct. Nevertheless it has produced quite a useful debate on tariffs. Possibly the most useful part of the discussion has been what the honourable member for Lalor (Dr J. F. Cairns) has told us. He has given us a definitive statement of the position of the Australian Labor Party in relation lo its tariff policy. From time to time we have heard varying policies and tonight is the first time we have had one comprehensive policy given on behalf of the Labor Party. To me it is a kaleidoscope policy of all shapes and colours which should please everybody who has an interest in tariffs. Whether it is a practical policy to implement and whether a future government would implement it is another matter. I will not canvass these points tonight because we do not have time. Before making reference to some of the other points I wish to say how pleasing it is that this Bill has the unanimous support of the

House and that there are no grievances about any particular facets of the amendments I introduced.

The honourable member for Lalor spoke about the reference points and the concern that this matter is causing for industry. The Tariff Board has referred in its annual reports to high level, medium level and low level reference points as a means of assessing the levels of protection. I am sorry the honourable member for Lalor spoke in the way he did because I think he added more confusion to the confusion that already exists. This is not the method by which the Government assesses the level of protection for industry. The Tariff Board has tried to explain how it is using these reference points relating to the effective rates of protection as a means of helping to establish priorities for a systematic review of the tariff and to help assess the economics of local production. The use of points of reference in helping to determine the sequence of systematic review has been endorsed by industry, both primary industry and secondary industry. The issue which appears to be the subject of contention is the use of reference points by the Tariff Board in arriving at its recommendations. This issue was fully covered in my statement to the House on 28th April 1971. In that statement I said that there are 2 basic principles of tariff making policy. The Government itself is responsible for all decisions and does not use this arithmetical means of determining what the level of protection should be, and before reaching its decisions the Government seeks the advice of an independent Tariff Board.

The worth of an industry and the establishment of appropriate rates of protection is and always will be a matter calling for the exercise of judgment. The Tariff Board has explained that its points of reference are not in themselves a definitive or independent criterion for assessing the economics of local activities; that the existence of high levels of protection does not necessarily mean that an industry is uneconomic. The worth of an industry cannot be adequately assessed if undue reliance is placed on the points of reference without adequate consideration of other relevant factors. The more comprehensively the Tariff Board is able to take into account the significant economic and non-economic factors which the Government itself must take into account, the more valuable its reports will be to the Government.

I want to make it quite clear that it is only in relation to a systematic review of the tariff that the reference points have been accepted by the Government. We have instituted this year a progressive review of the tariffs, starting at chapter 84 of the tariff, the section dealing with machinery. Ten references covering this were forwarded to the Tariff Board on 20th May and they will be followed in due course by references to the area of manufactures of metal. This review also was suggested by the Tariff Board. Essentially tariff review is a time-consuming operation. The Board required to undertake detailed consideration of the economics and efficiencies of each industry under review but, looking to see how the time span might be reduced, this is being done in conjunction with the chairman of the Tariff Board to whom I have written and with whom I hope to have discussions. I would like to say that in relation to the reference of items under Chapter 84 an advertisement has gone into the newspapers saying that tariffs on domestic appliances and earthmoving equipment will be reviewed and that the opening hearings for domestic appliances are scheduled for 2nd February 1972 in Adelaide and that other hearings are scheduled for 7th February 1972 in - Sydney and 14th February 1972 in Melbourne. For earthmoving equipment hearings will be on 6th December 1971, on 13th December in Melbourne and 17th December in Adelaide. I refer to this to show that we are getting on with the job and, although it will take an undue period of time to carry out a review by the method that is adopted at the moment, I hope that we will be able to find ways and means of short circuiting the review.

I do not know whether there are any other points I particularly want to mention other than to say that I did interject on the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart) when he said that appropriate procedures were not followed. He was referring to the statement I made in the House about the legal opinion 1 had received in relation to the dissenting report in this year’s Tariff Board report. I made a mistake when I said it applied to pay. It did not relate to pay; it related to the engagement procedures that are used in obtaining outside assistance to help the Tariff Board.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

Third Reading

Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.

Bill (on motion by Mr Anthony) read a third time.

House adjourned at 1.42 a.m. (Wednesday)

page 4236


The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:

Electoral (Question No. 4565)

Mr Kirwan:

asked the Minister for the Interior upon notice:

  1. What was the enrolment for each (a) electoral division and (b) sub-division in Western Australia at the (i) last redistribution, (ii) time of the 1969 House of Representatives Election, (ii) time of the 1970 Senate Election and (iv) end of September 1971.
  2. How many persons voted at each of the polling places in each electoral division in Western Australia in the (a) 1969 House of Representatives Election and (b) 1970 Senate Election.
Mr Hunt:
Minister for the Interior · GWYDIR, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. (a) (b) (i)
  1. (a)(b)


Joint Commonwealth-State Committees: Department of National Development (Question No. 3706)

Mr Whitlam:

asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice:

On. what joint Commonwealth-State committees, such as the Consultative Committee on Nuclear Energy (Hansard, 18th March 1971, page 1123) and the Technical Committee on Water Quality (Hansard, 17 August1971, page 175) do officers of his Department serve.

Mr Swartz:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

Commonwealth-State committees, of the type mentioned by the honourable member, on which officers of my Department serve are listed below:

Advisory Committee to the Australian Minerals Council

Standing Committee of the Australian Forestry Council

Standing Committee of the Australian Water Resources Council

Technical Committee on Underground Water of the Australian Water Resources Council

Technical Committee on Water Quality of the Australian Water Resource-. Council

Technical Committee on Surface Water of the Australian Water Resources Council

Consultative Committee on Nuclear Energy

Officials’ Committee on Decentralisation

National Mapping Council

Technical Sub-Committee of the National Mapping Council

The National Sirex Fund Committee

The abovementioned Committees have among their members representatives from the Commonwealth and all States. There is also a small group of committees which broadly might be described as comparable to those listed above, and on which officers of my Department serve but the membership of which does not include representatives from all States. These committeesare listed below with an indication of the State representation:

Snowy Mountains Council - New South Wales, Victoria

Kimberley Research Station Policy Committee - Western Australia

Kimberley Research Station Supervisory Committee - Western Australia

North-West Planning and Co-ordinating Authority - Western Australia

Ord Project Co-ordinating Committee - Western Australia

Wages (Question No. 4162)

Mr Clyde Cameron:

asked the Treasurer, upon notice:

What is the number of employees in the Australian work force whose weekly wage is less than (a) $48, (b) $49, (c) $50, (d) $55, (e) $60, (f) $65, (g) $70, (h) $75, (i) $80, (j) $85 and (k) $90.

Mr Snedden:

– The answer to the hon ourable member’s question is as follows:

The Acting Commonwealth Statistician has supplied the following information in reply to the honourable member’s question.

There are no official statistics that show the total number of employees (adults and juniors, males and females) in Australia classified by weekly earnings groups. However the results of the Survey of Weekly Earnings of adult male employees which was conducted in May 1971, give statistics relevant to the honourable member’s question.

These results are representative of 2,180,000 full-time adult male employees whose normal hours of work are 30 or more a week and who were paid for their full normal hours of work at the time of the survey.

The survey excluded employees of private employers not subject to pay-roll tax; employees in rural industry and private domestic service; employees of religious, benevolent and other similar organisations exempt from pay-roll tax; and waterside workers employed on a casual basis. Further details concerning this survey are published in the statistical bulletin, Survey of Weekly Earnings, May 1971 (Preliminary Results), Reference No. 6.29.

The classification of weekly earnings groups specified in the survey for managerial, etc. staff differed from that specified for non-managerial employees. In combining the 2 classifications, 18,200 managerial etc. staff reported as earning up to $79.99’ have been included in the ‘$75.00 to$79.99’ group. Thus the figures for all earnings groups below $80 are subject to some distortion.

The following table is taken from the publication of preliminary results of the survey. Because some of the weekly earnings specified in the honourable member’s question do not correspond with the earnings groups limits shown in the survey results, the whole of the earnings groups data for Australia (for the combination of managerial and other employees) has been included.

Taxation (Question No. 3956)

Mr Calwell:

asked the Treasurer, upon notice:

Is it the intention of the Government to amend the Income Tax Assessment Act following the recent decision of the High Court in favour of the Investment and Merchant Finance Corporation.

Mr Snedden:

– The answer to the right honourable member’s question is as follows:

The Government has arranged for the preparation of amending legislation to curtail the income tax benefits which encourage companies to engage in operations of the type that were the subject of the High Court decision mentioned. In a statement realeased through the press on 31st August 1971,I announced a proposal to change the basis of calculating tax rebates on dividends received after that date as part of a dividend-stripping operation. A bill relating to the proposal will be brought before the Parliament as soon as practicable.

Treasury White Papers (Question No. 4227)

Mr Barnard:

asked the Treasurer, upon notice:

What White Papers have been issued by the Treasury since 1st January 1960 and on what dates were they issued.

Mr Snedden:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

I have interpreted the honourable member’s question as relating to’The Australian Economy’, the ‘Treasury Information Bulletin’ and the ‘Supplements to the Treasury Information Bulletin’. These, of course, are departmental publications and, strictly speaking, not ‘White Papers’.

The following Treasury papers in these series have been issued since 1st January 1960:

Overseas Investment: White Paper (Question No. 4228)

Mr Barnard:

asked the Treasurer, upon notice:

Has any progress been made by his Department in the publication of a White Paper on overseas investment in Australia, since the Prime Minister, when Treasurer, replied to my question without notice on this subject on 29th May 1969 (Hansard, pages 2452-3).

Mr Snedden:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

As the Prime Minister suggested in his reply, as Treasurer, to the honourable member in the House on 29th May 1969, the question of the publication by the Treasury of Supplements to the Treasury Information Bulletin is reviewed from time to time. Preparation of these documents is dependent on available manpower resources and the claims of competing tasks in the Treasury.

The Prime Minister’s reply referred to did not indicate that a Treasury paper on overseas investment in Australia would be set in preparation. The honourable member will be aware that in September 1969 detailed statements on overseas investment in Australia were made by the then Prime Minister and the then Treasurer.

Insurance (Question No. 4267)

Mr Whitlam:

asked the Treasurer, upon notice:

What has been the outcome of the Insurance Commissioner’s inquiries into the business resembling life insurance business which is being carried on by a number of organisations not registered under the Life Insurance Act and which involves a contract for a savings-type benefit at the end of a specified term with or without dealth or disability benefits in return for the payment of one or more contributions.

Mr Snedden:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

The Insurance Commissioner has advised that some such business has been discontinued and that the business which continues to be undertaken is not considered to be life insurance business for the purposes of the Life Insurance Act 1945-1965.

Bureau of Census and Statistics: Quarterly Returns (Question No. 4388)

Mr Bennett:

asked the Treasurer, upon notice:

  1. How many people in each State have been fined for failing to return a quarterly return to the Bureau of Census and Statistics.
  2. How are people selected in each State to provide these regular quarterly returns.
  3. What is the basis for objection to be exempted from this selective group for those who do not wish to comply with the return of the quarterly return.
Mr Snedden:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

The Commonwealth Statistician has provided the following information:

In 1970, 7 people (3 in New South Wales and 4 partners of the one firm in Western Australia) were prosecuted and fined for failure to supply quarterly returns to the Commonwealth Statistician. To date in 1971, 5 people (1 in New South Wales, 2 in Victoria and 2 in Western Australia) have been prosecuted and fined. The Statistician advises that as far as possible reliance is placed on persuasion rather than enforcement of the legal requirement so that prosecution is restricted to cases where there is a persistent nonresponse and there are no extenuating circumstances.

The statistics sought in quarterly returns relate to people or businesses believed to be in a particular field of activity or to have certain characteristics.

For some quarterly collections, returns are sought from all the people or businesses concerned. For orthers, in order to reduce the reporting burden on the group concerned, statistical sampling methods involving some form of random selection are used. It is important that returns be obtained from all businesses or persons selected in any sample, as otherwise the accuracy of the results could be seriously impaired.

Samples are re-selected periodically to spread the requirement to provide returns more evenly over the persons or businesses concerned. As a result, persons or businesses with low levels of activity are not usually selected to provide returns in a particular collection for more than a few years. This is not necessarily the case for persons or businesses wilh a high level of activity as, under most sampling methods, they are given a higher chance of selection with the object of reducing the overall size of the sample, and thus limiting further the reporting burden on the group concerned.

There is no provision in the Census and Statistics Act under which a person requested to provide a return or information, whether for a complete or partial collection, may seek exemption from furnishing that return. Where, however, exceptional cases come under notice (for example, where a person may be incapable of complying, or is under special personal stress) special and appropriate steps are taken to provide relief.

Average Weekly Earnings Index (Question No. 4425)

Mr Berinson:

asked the Treasurer, upon notice.

  1. What is the basis of compilation and calculation of the average weekly earnings index.
  2. What(a) number and (b) percentage of earners at or above the average level.
  3. Can he state both the value and shortcom ings of the index as a reflection of movements in Australian living standards.
Mr Snedden:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. Quarterly estimates of average weekly earnings per employed male unit are calculated by dividing the total wage and salary earnings received by civilian employees during each quarter by the mean monthly number of employees (measured in terms of male equivalent units) in receipt of those earnings. The estimates are derived from particulars of employment and wages and salaries recorded on montly payroll tax returns, or reported in direct statistical collections. In addition to salary and wage payments at award rates, the total earnings include the earnings of employees not covered by awards, overtime earnings, over-award and bonus payments, payments made in advance or retrospectively during the period, etc. The figures relate to earnings, before deduction of income tax contributions. They include an allowance for the earnings of persons holding more than one job, and for the estimated number of wage and salary earners in the labour force not covered by payroll tax or other monthly returns.

Particulars of wages and salaries paid are not available for males and females separately from the sources used for this series; average weekly earnings are therefore calculated in terms of male units, i.e. total male employees plus a proportion of female employees, the proportion being determined by the estimated ratio of female to male average earnings. Different values of this ratio are used for the several States, the weighted average for Australia being approximately52.5 per cent. The level of this ratio is affected by the factthat the proportion of females in lower paid occupations is greater than that for males, and that overtime and over-award payments constitute a higher proportion of male than of female earnings.

In calculating seasonally adjusted estimates allowance is made not only for seasonal factors but also for the varying incidence of pay-days. Seasonal adjustments factors are estimated from a series adjusted to allow for the effects of major awards and determinations of Commonwealth and State industrial authorities. The effects of these awards and determinations are retained in the seasonally adjusted data.

  1. There are no statistics that show the number and percentage of employees who earn at or above the level of the average weekly earnings index. However, the results of a Survey of Weekly Earnings of adult male employees which was conducted during May 1971 give statistics relevant tothe honourable member’s question.

These results are representative of 2,180,000 full-time adult male employees whose normal hours of work are 30 or more a week and who were paid for their full normal hours of work during the survey period.

The estimated numbers and percentage of these fulltime adult males who earned the average weekly total earnings (as estimated in this Survey, or more in the pay-period which included 12th May 1971, are set out in the table below. The estimates are based on the assumption that, for the total weekly earnings group in which the average weekly total earnings figure falls, employees are evenly distributed.

The survey excluded employees of private employers not subject to pay-roll tax; employees in rural industry and private domestic service; employees of religious, benevolent and other similar organisations exempt from pay-roll tax; and waterside workers employed on a casual basis.

  1. Statistics of average weekly earnings cannot be used in isolation as a reflection of movements in Australian living standards.

Foreign Investment in Australia (Question No. 4523)

Mr Hayden:

asked the Treasurer, upon notice:

What was the break-up of foreign investment in Australia in the (a) primary sector, (b) manufacturing sector and (c) other sectors showing in each case (i) foreign investment from retained profits, (ii) new foreign investment and (iii) income payable abroad on foreign investment for each of the years 1950, 1960, 1965 and 1970.

Mr Snedden:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

The Acting Commonwealth Statistician has supplied the following information in reply to the honourable member’s question:

Statistics on overseas investment in Australia classified by industry were not compiled for years prior to 1956-57. They are available for subsequent years for direct investment but not for portfolio investment and institutional loans.

In the accompanying tables, Table A shows, for years ended June 1950, 1960, 1965 and 1970, details of the total net inflow of private overseas investment in companies in Australia and total income payable overseas on this investment. Table b shows, for the 3 years ended June 1960, 1965 and 1970 and for each of the 3 industry sectors specified, details of foreign direct investment from retained profits (undistributed income), new foreign direct investment (other direct investment), and income payable overseas on direct investment (including undistributed income).

Taxation (Question No. 4608)

Mr Hayden:

asked the Treasurer, upon notice:

Will he provide a break-down of income tax groups by specific age groups of taxpayers for the latest year for which figures are available.

Mr Snedden:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

Taxpayers are not required to state their ages on income tax return forms unless they wish to claim, under the age allowance provisions, exemption from income tax or a reduction in income tax otherwise payable.

Accordingly, the only income tax statistics which indicate the age of taxpayers are those relating to taxable individuals who completed the age allowance part of the income tax return form, i.e. certain male taxpayers aged 65 years and over and certain female taxpayers aged 60 years and over. Statistics of taxable individuals whose income tax was reduced by the age provisions for the 1969-70 income year are shown below.

The above statistics relate only to assessments that were issued by computer. However, these assessments constituted the great majority of assessments issued to taxable individuals who benefitted from the age allowance.

Sir William Gunn: Overseas Visits (Question No. 4752)

Mr Whitlam:

asked the Treasurer, upon notice:

To what countries, for what periods and for what purposes has the Reserve Bank paid for Sir William Gunn to make visits in the last 5 years.

Mr Snedden:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

The Reserve Bank has informed me that the answer is ‘None’.

Commonwealth-State Housing Scheme (Question No, 4237)

Mr Uren:

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:

  1. What did Mr Dunstan, Premier of South Australia, say publicly with reference to the new Commonwealth-State housing scheme as set out in the 1971 Budget Speech (Hansard, 9th September 1971, page 989).
  2. Can he say where details of Mr Dunstan’s public comments were published.
Mr McMahon:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. and (2)I refer the honourable member to an answer given by the Premier in the South Australian House of Assembly on 31st August 1971.

Tasmania: Electric Power Generation (Question No. 4379)

Mr Uren:

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:

  1. Was $43m allocated to the State of Tasmania for the 5-year period beginning 15th July 1967 for the purposes of assisting the State in an accelerated programme of electric power generation.
  2. Has a substantial portion of this money been used in the Gordon River project and in particular in the building of systems which will lead to the flooding of Lake Pedder.
  3. Has sufficient finance been provided to allow Tasmania to complete this project.
  4. Is he able to say whether the proposed flooding of Lake Pedder has caused considerable controversy and is bitterly opposed by conservation bodies.
  5. Has his attention been drawn to the large public pressure building up in Tasmania and on the mainland for an inquiry into the flooding of Lake Pedder.
  6. Is he able to say whether the retaining of Lake Pedder in its present state as a tourist and scientific area would outweigh the potential return from electricity generation over the long term.
  7. Would he on behalf of all Australians take all possible legal and financial steps to halt this project at its present state of development until the completion of a full inquiry into the Gordon River Scheme.
Mr McMahon:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. The Commonwealth, under the Tasmania Agreement (Hydro-Electric Power Development) Act 1968, is providing Tasmania with bridging finance, subject to an overall limit to $47m, for a 5-year programme of accelerated electric power development. The programme largely comprises the completion of works in the lower Derwent and Mersey-Forth areas, the installation of a thermal station at Bell Bay and the commencement of development of the Gordon River area. Commonwealth assistance is available under the Act only to the extent that funds from the State’s and the Hydro-Electric Commission’s own sources are inadequate to finance the Commission’s programme of development during the5-year period commencing 1st July 1967. Payments by the Commonwealth to 30th June 1971, under the Act, amounted to $21,411,000.
  2. and (3) As indicated in (1) above, the Act provides bridging finance designed to allow completion of a 5-year programme of development, comprising several specific projects as well as other associated works. The Commonwealth’s assistance is not directed towards any particular project, or component of a project, within this total programme. (4), (5), (6) and (7) These would be matters for the Tasmanian Government.

Migrants: Origins and Naturalisation (Question No. 4563)

Mr Daly:

asked the Minister for Immi gration, upon notice:

  1. What is the (a) number and (b) percentage of persons of (i) non-European origin and (ii) mixed descent who reside in (A) Australia (B) each State and Territory?
  2. How many are naturalised in each case?
Dr Forbes:
Minister for Immigration · BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · LP

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. and (2) Attention is drawn to the answer to question No. 4505 (Hansard of 2nd December 1971, page 4122).

As the greater number of persons of nonEuropean and mixed descent permanently resident in Australia are either naturalised or registered as Australian citizens, or are citizens of Commonwealth countries with the status ofBritish subjects under Australian citizenship law, they are not required to register with the Department. Their precise whereabouts are therefore not known and it is not possible to indicate the number in any category residing in each Stateor Territory.

Imports of Fish (Question No. 4670)

Mr Hansen:

asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:

  1. What quantities of fish were imported into Australia in each of the last 3 years?
  2. What were the main exporting countries?
  3. What quantities of the imported fish were canned?
Mr Anthony:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. Imports of canned and other fish, excluding live fish, totalled 85,441,775 lb in 1968-69, 79,263,306 lb in 1969-70 and 97,251,328 lb in 1970-71.
  2. The main countries exporting fish to Australia over the last 3 years, excluding live fish, were Britain, Japan, New Zealand, Norway and South Africa.
  3. As imports of canned fish are not recorded separately in official statitistcs it is not possible to provide the detailed information required by the honourable member. However, imports of canned and bottled fish totalled 23,684,086 lb in 1968-69, 23,094,759 lb in 1969-70 and 22,427,835 lb in 1970-71.

Wool Growers: Emergency Relief Scheme (Question No. 4699)

Mr Grassby:

asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice:

  1. What was the total allocation by the Government for relief of woolgrowers under its emergency grants scheme.
  2. How much of this grant has been used.
  3. If there is a surplus, will he consider its application as a matter of urgency to rural reconstruction which in New South Wales has come to a standstill because of inadequate Commonwealth finance.
Mr Nixon:

– As Acting Minister for Primary Industry I supply the following answer to the honourable member’s question:

  1. Provision of an amount of $30m was included in the 1970-71 budget for emergency assistance to woolgrowers. Grants up to the limit of this appropriation were to be made under certain specific conditions, the main ones being that to be eligible for assistance a woolgrower must (a) have obtained at least one-third of his total gross income from all sources in the year 1968-69 from the sale of wool and (b) have suffered a decline in gross wool income of at least 8 per cent between the years 1968-69 and 1969-70.
  2. Payments to all applicants for assistance who met the conditions laid down by the Government have totalled $21.477m.
  3. As the allocation of funds was for a specific purpose and was for an amount of up to $30m there is no surplus which can be used for any other purpose.

In any event the State of New South Wales has not yet applied for any of its 1971-72 allocation under the States Grants (Rural Reconstruction) Act 1971. As at the 31st October it had advanced $2. 75m to applicants for rural reconstruction out of $4m made available by the Commonwealth in June 1971.

East Pakistan Refugees (Question No. 4735)

Dr J F Cairns:

ns asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:

  1. Did the Acting Prime Minister receive a telegram on 11th November 1971 requesting the Government to take action immediately to see that Australian aid for refugees in India from East Pakistan is continuous and closely related to need.
  2. Wasthe Acting Prime Minister also requested to see that the needs of the refugees be studied and reported on so that a complete and adequate programme for continuous aid for the refugees couid be submitted to Cabinet on his return to Australia thus enabling the programme to be put into effect immediately.
  3. What action has been taken since 11th November and with what result.
Mr McMahon:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is: (1), (2) and (3) A reply was sent on 24th November to the honourable member’s telegram cf 11th November.

Immigration: Refugees from Hungary (Question No. 4747)

Mr Enderby:

asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice:

  1. How many refugees from Hungary were admitted to Australia following and as a result of the Hungarian uprising in 1956-57.
  2. How many refugees were admitted from Czechoslovakia following and as a result of the intervention of Russia in Czechoslavakia in 1968- 69.
  3. Did Prime Minister Holt, or any other Government spokesman, offer to provide residence in Australia for some of the stateless non-African people who were not permitted to remainin Kenya following disturbances in that country.
  4. Were any stateless non-African people, who were not permitted to remain in Kenya, permitted to live in Australia, as a result of that fact.
Dr Forbes:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. The number of Hungarian refugees arriving in Australia under the Government’s assisted passage programme, between December, 1956 to the time the scheme for Hungarian refugees ceased to operate in 1961 was 14,060.
  2. The number of Czechoslovakian refugees arriving in Australia from August 1968 to June, 1971 was 5,721.
  3. The Department of Immigration has been unable to locate any record of a statement by : he late Prime Minister Mr Holt, or by any other government spokesman, mentioning an offer of residence in Australia to some of the stateless non-African people who were not permitted to remain in Kenya following disturbances in that country.
  4. See (3) above.

Pensioner Medical Service Entitlement Cards (Question No. 4757)

Mr Whitlam:

asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:

  1. Does his Department issue and recall Pensioner Medical Service Entitlement cards on behalf of the Department of Health.
  2. If so, how many cards have been recalled following the pension increases first paid in (a)’ April 1971. and (b) October 1971.
Mr Wentworth:
Minister for Social Services · MACKELLAR, NEW SOUTH WALES · LP

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. Yes.
  2. As indicated in my answer to Question No. 4540 1 of 10 November 17971, Hansard, page 3304, statistics of the number of pensioners ceasing to be eligible for the Pensioner Medical Service are not maintained. Periodical statistics are available, however, of the number of age pensioners enrolled in the scheme and the number ineligible for enrolment. The following table shows figures for 29th March, 30th June and 11th October 1971.

Pensioners: Supplementary Rent Allowance (Question No. 4768)

Mr Webb:

asked the Minister for Social

Services, upon notice:

  1. In view of increased costs, will the Government consider increasing the supplementary allowance for single pensioners paying rent from $2 to $4 per week.
  2. Will the Government also consider extending’’ eligibility for supplementary assistance to married couples having to pay rent.
Mr Wentworth:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. and (2) Questions of increasing the rate of supplementary assistance and extending the range of eligibility are matters of policy which will be considered by the Government at the appropriate time.

Handicapped Children (Question No. 4782)

Mr Grassby:

asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:

  1. Will he make a statement to the House on the report by the Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare and the recommendations touching on the care and education of handicapped children; if so, when.
  2. If a statement is to be made, will he confer with the Leader of the House and arrange for the report and its important and far reaching recommendations to be debated in the House.
Mr Wentworth:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. and (2) I refer the honourable member to the reply given by the Minister for Health on 23 November 1971. (see Senate Hansard at page 1960).

Railways: Sandy HollowMaryvale (Question No. 4265)

Mr Whitlam:

asked the Ministerfor Shipping and Transport, upon notice:

  1. Did New South Wales accept the Commenwealth’s offer in 1941 to contribute the sum of $162,000 towards the cost of work to be carried out on the Sandy Hollow-Maryvale railway (Senate Hansard, 14th August 1968, page 39).
  2. What recommendation on the railway was made by the Development Corporation of New South Wales which the New South Wales Minister for Decentralisation and Development established in 1967 to consider, among other things, aspects of the completion of the railway.
  3. Has the proposed railway been referred to the Bureau of Transport Economics.
  4. Are his Department and its bureaux represented on the Commonwealth-State Officials’ Committee on Decentralisation.
Mr Hunt:

– The answer to. the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. Further investigations into the matter have not produced any evidence that the New South Wales Government availed itself of the offer by the Commonwealth.
  2. The Honourable J. B. Fuller, M.L.C., New South Wales Minister for Decentralisation and Development announced on 29th November 1970 that the Development Corporation of New South Wales had recommended in a report which he released on that date, against a resumption of work on the Sandy Hollow-Maryvale railway link unless existing conditions were materially altered by development of mineral resources, particularly coal in the area of influence.
  3. The proposed railway has not been referred to the Bureau of Transport Economics.
  4. The Department of Shipping and Transport is not a member of the Commonwealth-State Officials’ Committee on Decentralisation. However, an officer of the Department was an observer at two of the meetings of a technical sub-committee of the Commonwealth-State Officials’ Committee on Decentralisation.

Conference of Railway Commissioners (Question No. 4591)

Mr Whitlam:

asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:

What requests or suggestions were made at the conference of the railway commissionersin Perth between 25th and 29th October 1971 for legislative or administrative action by (a) the Commonweath (b) the Territories and (c) the States.

Mr Nixon:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

The proceedings of meetings of the Australian and New Zealand Railways Commissioners’ Conference are confidential to the Commissioners.

Apples and Pears: Shipping Freights (Question No. 4701)

Mr Grassby:

asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:

  1. Can he say whether the New Zealand Apple and Pear Board has negotiated freight rates which, despite the recent 16 per cent increase, will represent a rate 50 cents a bushel cheaper than the rate applied by the shipping conference to apples and pears.
  2. If so, will he investigate the shipping conference price structure to establish how the differential occurs.
Mr Nixon:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows: (1)I understand the Press recently reported that the New Zealand Apple and Pear Board agreed to a 16 per cent increase in freight charges on the export of apples to the United Kingdom. In addition, I believe the report also staled that the freight rate negotiated is some 50 cents lower than the rate applied by the shipping conference. (2)It is important to understand that while some Australian fresh fruit is carried by conference ships, the bulk of the crop this year will be carried by ships operated outside the conference. Freight rates are negotiated between representatives of the fruit industry and these individual shipowners.

It is therefore incorrect to relate any disparity in freight rates to what the honourable member calls the shipping conference price structure.

Commonwealth Railways: Disciplinary Action Against Employees (Question No. 4737)

Mr Wallis:

asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:

  1. On how many occasions in 1970-71 was disciplinary action taken against Commonwealth Railways employees which resulted in employees being fined under the provisions of the Commonwealth Railways Act.
  2. What sum in fines was imposed on employees.
  3. What right of appeal exists against these fines.
  4. For what purpose is the money collected from fines used.
Mr Nixon:

– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:

  1. There were 415 instances of disciplinary action in 1970-71.
  2. Fines imposed totalled $967.
  3. Employees may appeal to the head of their Branch. If the result of this appeal is unsatisfactory, they may appeal to the Commissioner under Commonwealth Railways By-law Nos 61 and 68.
  4. All moneys collected are credited to Revenue.

Supply Purchasing (Question No. 4423)

Mr Barnard:

asked the Minister for Supply the following question, upon notice:

  1. What amount has been spent on purchases (a) throughout Australia and (b) in Tasmania by the Department of Supply Contract Boards in each of the last 3 years.
  2. What have been the major items purchased (a) throughout Australia and (b) in Tasmania in each of the last 3 years and how much have they cost
Mr Garland:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

  1. The amount spent on purchases (a) throughout Australia and (b) in Tasmania in each of the last 3 years is as follows -
  1. Details of all procurement contracts placed by the Department of Supply’s Contract Boards are published in the Commonwealth Gazette. A list of some of the major items purchased, and their cost, during each financial year is provided in the Department of Supply’s annual report, which is presented to Parliament. If the honourable member has a specific interest, I would be happy to tee whether additional detail could be reasonably provided.

The major areas of expenditure, and their total cost for the past three years, in respect of Tasmania are set out below.

Railways: Cost of Rolling-stock (Question No. 4461)

Mr Charles Jones:

asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:

What was the cost of railway rolling-stock (a) built in Australia and (b) imported for (i) each State railway (ii) Commonwealth Railways and (iii) each private company in each of the last 10 years.

Mr Nixon:

– The answer to the honourable member’s question has been prepared on the basis that the information sought relates to total purchases of rolling stock. On this basis the answer to the question is as follows:

The cost of rolling stock built in Australia or imported for Commonwealth Railways and each of the States' railway systems in each of the last ten financial years is shown hereunder:
Information on the cost of railway rolling stock built in Australia or imported for each private company in each of the last ten years is notavailable. {:#subdebate-33-24} #### Education: Commonwealth Constitutional Powers (Question No. 4444) {: #subdebate-33-24-s0 .speaker-JOU} ##### Mr Bennett: asked the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. What legislation has been enacted by the Commonwealth under its powers in section51 of the Constitution, placitum xxiii A - benefits to students. (2)Is it the intention of the Government to enter the field of primary education under this power. 1. Why has this power not been used to remedy the lack of educational opportunity throughout Australia. {: #subdebate-33-24-s1 .speaker-QS4} ##### Mr Malcolm Fraser:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP -- The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. The Scholarships Act 1969. (The Education Act 1945-66, under which the Commonwealth Scholarships and Awards Regulations have been drawn up is also in accordance with the powers vested in the Commonwealth under section 51, plactium xxiii A.) 1. This calls for a statement on future Government policy which it is not possible to provide. 2. Under this power the Commonwealth has introduced a wide programme of assistance to students in the form of scholarships and similar benefits. Expenditure on this programme has risen rapidly. In 1960-61 $5.1m was spent under two Commonwealth scholarship schemes. There are now five major Commonwealth scholarship schemes. Expenditure on them in 1970-71 was $38.4m and is expected to be $43.5m in 1971-72. {:#subdebate-33-25} #### Automatic Mail Sorting (Question No. 3367) {: #subdebate-33-25-s0 .speaker-009DB} ##### Mr Morrison:
ST GEORGE, NEW SOUTH WALES asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. What was the unit cost of sorting mail in Sydney prior to the installation of the automatic mail handling plant. 1. What is the current unit cost of sorting mail at the Redfern Mail Exchange. 2. What is the current unit cost of sorting mail at (a) Brisbane, (b) Sydney and (c) Melbourne. {: #subdebate-33-25-s1 .speaker-KIF} ##### Sir Alan Hulme:
Postmaster-General · PETRIE, QUEENSLAND · LP -- The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows: (1), (2) and (3) Owing to the wide disparity in the volume and nature of postal articles handled in the Mail Exchanges concerned and the problems of cost escalation over the period, the figures are expressed in terms of directly classified operating costs per dollar of postage revenue received. The costs used are those incurred for operations performed at the Mail Exchange and do not include those incurred in transportation, delivery, handlings at all post offices and administration. Comparative figures for the Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane Mail Exchanges between 1965-66 - the last financial year prior to the introduction of the letter coding system at Sydney - and 1969-70 are as follows: The foregoing figures reflect the different circumstances affecting mail processing operations at each centre. For example, at the smaller Mail Exchange in Brisbane, the average number of sortings and handlings per article is substantially less than that involved in larger centres where it is necessary, for operational reasons, to process heavy volumes of articles through various stages involving primary, secondary and final sorting. Another factor which has a bearing on operating costs is that the Sydney Mail Exchange, being the main gateway centre for the receipt of increasing volumes of international mails, is required to perform additional processing operations not applicable at the other centres. Apart from the above factors, the higher cost incurred at Sydney reflects to some extent the effect different processing techniques have on operation costs. Manual processing is still in operation for standard size letters in Melbourne and Brisbane whilst at Sydney over 1.5 million letters a day are processed through a letter coding system. As the latter system was designed for handling a greater volume of mail than that now offering, further economies in operating costs will only be achieved when the volume of mail approaches nearer the level for which the system was designed. {:#subdebate-33-26} #### Commonwealth Secondary Scholarships (Question No. 4445) {: #subdebate-33-26-s0 .speaker-KEC} ##### Mr Kennedy:
BENDIGO, VICTORIA asked the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice: >What was the (a) number and (b) percentage of students who (i) sat for and (ii) were awarded Commonwealth secondary scholarships in each State and Territory in (A) each year and (B) all years' since the scheme was introduced and who were students of those (I) Catholic and (II) other private schools whose names appeared as being in receipt of per capita grants in his recent report on the operation of the per capita grant scheme. {: #subdebate-33-26-s1 .speaker-QS4} ##### Mr Malcolm Fraser:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP -- The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows: >The information available on Commonwealth secondary scholarship applicants and winners was given in answer to his question No. 3847 (Hansard 7th October 1971, page 2124). {:#subdebate-33-27} #### Libraries: Tertiary Colleges (Question No. 4489) {: #subdebate-33-27-s0 .speaker-JO8} ##### Mr Barnard: asked the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice: >Can he supply details of the recommendations of the British Library Association on standards of library provision in colleges of technology and other tertiary colleges. {: #subdebate-33-27-s1 .speaker-QS4} ##### Mr Malcolm Fraser:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP -- The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows: >The Library Association has published its recommendations on standards of library provision in colleges of technology and other tertiary colleges in its - 'Libraries in the new polytechnics: a guide to planning requirements' published by the Council of the Library Association (London) in the Library. Association Record, September 1968. {:#subdebate-33-28} #### Department of Education and Science (Question No. 4550) {: #subdebate-33-28-s0 .speaker-8H7} ##### Mr Enderby: asked the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. What arrangements and practice exist for his Department to obtain expert professional advice from outside its own ranks. 1. Does the Department (a) appoint experts from Australia or overseas for limited periods of time, (b) use experts as consultants on particular matters, (c) use advisory committees, (d) use committees of inquiry and (e) conduct research evaluation of Commonwealth projects in education and on other educational matters. {: #subdebate-33-28-s1 .speaker-QS4} ##### Mr Malcolm Fraser:
WANNON, VICTORIA · LP -- The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows: {: type="1" start="1"} 0. The Annual Reports of my Department show that it leans heavily on outside advice from a wide range of advisory committees. 1. (a) Yes. (b) Yes. (c) Yes (d) Yes. (e) Yes. Australian Broadcasting Commission: Telecast by Prime Minister (Question No. 4793) {: #subdebate-33-28-s2 .speaker-6U4} ##### Mr Whitlam: asked the Postmaster- >General, upon notice: > >When did he direct the Australian Broadcasting Commission in writing that the Prime Minister's speech on the night of 26th November 1971 must be televised and broadcast in the National interest. {: #subdebate-33-28-s3 .speaker-KIF} ##### Sir Alan Hulme:
LP -- The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows: >The assumption of the Honourable the Leader of the Opposition is entirely incorrect. No direction in writing or otherwise was given by me to the Australian Broadcasting Commission. > >The circumstances were that having received an indication from the Right Honourable the Prime Minister on the 22nd November 1971 of a desire to address the Australian nation by the use of television,I spoke to the General Manager of the Australian Broadcasting Commission. I asked if he would consider it appropriate that the Prime Minister, following his overseas visit, should be given the opportunity to use the National service for that purpose. > >The General Manager informed me that the matter would be considered. > >Later on the same day the General Manager advised me that he bad consulted the Chairman of the Commission and that a telecast could be arranged for the evening of either the 25th or 26th November.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 7 December 1971, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.