27th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER(hon. Sir William Aston) took the chair at 10 a.m., and read prayers.
The ActingClerk - Petitions have been lodged for presentation as follows and copies will be referred to the appropriate Ministers -
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned electors of the Commonwealth of Australia respectfullyshoweth:
That on 10th December 1948 Australia signed the ‘Universal Declaration of Human Rights’, Article 25 reads: ‘Everyone has the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age and other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control’.
Yet, 23 years later, in our country of great national wealth and abundance it is to the nation’s shame that many thousands of our people Jive in a state of being inconsistent with the dignity and worth of the human person - languishing in poverty and want, neglect and the lack of proper care necesary for their health and well-being.
We, the undersigned, respectfully draw to your attention that the conscience of the nation is not at ease while the records of our country show that social services are not comparable with that of other advanced countries administering such services, therefore, we call upon the Commonwealth Government to immediately legislate for:
Base pension rate - 30 per cent of the average weekly male earnings, all states, plus supplementary assistance and allowances based on a percentage of such earnings. Unemployment benefits equal to the foregoing.
Completely free health services to cover all needs of social service pensioners - hospitalisation, chronic and long-term illness, fractures, anaesthetics, specialist, pharmaceutical, hearing aids, dental, optical, physiotherapy, chiropody, surgical aids and any other appliances.
Commonwealth Government to promote a comprehensive national scheme in cooperation with the States and make finance available to provide for the building of public hospitals, nursing and hostel-type homes necessary to effectively meet the special requirements of aged people, in conjunction with a comprehensive domiciliary care programme to enable aged people to stay in their homes.
Mental illness placed in the same position as physical illness.
Substantial Commonwealth increase in the $5 subsidy a day per public bed pensioner patient in general hospitals.
Ten per cent of Commonwealth revenue to local government for general activities which now include social welfare, health, conservation and other community needs. Commonwealth subsidy for the waiving of rales for pensioners.
Commonwealth Government to increase the non-repayable grant to the States forlow rental home units for pensioners.
Royal Commission or other form of public enquiry into Australia’s social welfare structure that Australia may be brought into line with accepted world standards of the most advanced countries. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Mamer, Mr Keith Johnson, Mr Scholes, Mr Staley, Mr Webb and Mr Whittorn.
Petitions severally received.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The Petition of the undersigned citizens of Western Australia respectfully showeth:
That due to higher living cost, persons on Social Service Pensions are finding it extremely difficult to live in even the most frugal way.
We therefore call upon the Commonwealth Government to increase the base pension rate to 30 per cent of average weekly male earnings, plus supplementary assistance in accordance with ACTU policy and by so doing give a reasonably moderate pension.
The Average Weekly earnings for adult male unit wage and salary earner means the figures issued from time to time by the Commonwealth Statistician and published quarterly.
Your Petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to bring about the wishes expressed in our Petition; so that our Citizens receiving the Social Service Pensions may live their lives in dignity. And your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Bennett:
The Honourable, The Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully showeth:
That the Postmaster General’s Department, Central Office, policy of centralising Post Office affairs and activities under the various titles of Area Management, Area Mail Centres, Area Parcel Centres and similar titles is resulting in both loss of service and lowering of the standards of service to the Public, directly resulting in the closing of Post Offices which is detrimental to the Public interest.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to:
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Buchanan.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of. the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully sheweth:
That they are gravely concerned at the apparent appalling increase in crime in Australia, particularly in densely populated areas.
That they fear the police forces of the various States and Territories are undermanned and underequipped to handle the increase in crime;
That their concern is aggravated by the apparent number of unsolved crimes particularly those involving violence to the individual including murder.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Honourable Members of the House of Representatives will seek to ensure that the Commonwealth Government will seek the co-operation of the States and supply extra finance to the States to enable:
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever Pray. by Mr Bennett.
To the Honourable, the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the employees of the Australian Aircraft Industry and citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully sheweth:
And you petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Keating.
To the Honourable the Speaker and the Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled, we, the Citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia, residents in the State of Western Australia do humbly petition and pray that all levels of Government responsible in Australia will take note of the wishes of we, the Citizens, in so far as we request:
That the Commonwealth co-operate with all authorities to ensure the early sealing of the one East-West road link, the Eyre Highway, and that urgent consideration be given to increasing the maintenance of the road in the intervening period and endeavour to curtail the dreadful road toll, injury and vehicle damage.
That the Commonwealth consider this road as a Defence Measure for the whole of Australia and road link connecting the two coasts of the Continent, and consideration to the sealing from the aspect of the increase of Trade and Tourism within Australia, thus encouraging the retention of the finance in Australia which is now going overseas. Consideration be given on the grounds of a better understanding between the people of all of the States of Australia, because of their improved ability to travel and meet one another.
That Consideration be given to one of the most heavily taxed groups within the community, the motorist, and be given the opportunity to enjoy gome of the tax fee as charged, by being able to travel with reasonable comfort and safety on the major highways of Australia.
That Consideration be given to returning specifically for this purpose the increased revenue received from the increase in petrol tax. We, the Petitioners humbly pray that the House of Representatives in the Parliament assembled would take immediate steps to ensure provision of funds to provide for the all weather sealing of this important highway, the Eyre Highway, linking Cast and West and your Petitioners as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Bennett.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition from certain residents of the western suburbs in the Sydney Metropolitan area and surrounding districts respectfully showeth:
That due to an expanding passenger travel business together with larger and more powerful jet aircraft, aircraft noise has already become a serious problem for people livingin the vicinity of airports.
That Jet aircraft operations have a detrimental effect by way of air and noise pollution on the environment and airports should be situated so as to preserve the environment of populated areas.
That protest should be made against the proposal to establish an international airport at Richmond owing to the detrimental effect it would have for the environment there and in surrounding districts.
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that this House take appropriate steps to ensure that the Government does not proceed with the proposal to site the second 24-hour international airport for Sydney at Richmond or anywhere else in the far western suburbs of the metropolitan area. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Armitage
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned citizens of Australia respectfully request:
That the Commonwealth Government give urgent consideration when making Grants to Aged Persons Homes that conditions of tenancy be imposed to protect the tenant who makes a donation to gain admittance to these homes which is very often their life savings.
That conditions of tenancy ensure that evictions do not take place without the intervention of an independent tribunal, such as appointed by the Ministers Department.
That the Commonwealth ensure that these properties are not resold after a person is evicted but is let.
That all steps are taken to ensure that everyone is assured that no profit has arisen from an eviction.
That representatives of the residents are appointed to the Board of the Home.
That annual elections are held for representatives of the residents on the Board of Management.
That an annual audited statement of accounts is submitted to the Social Services Department and is made available to the residents of the premises to ensure that all charges made and costs are to be to the satisfaction of the residents.
That Government give consideration to a total review of the conditions of grants to ensure that protection is given to the residents of these Aged Persons Establishments and to the Management.
Your petitioners humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled would take immediate steps to ensure that these requests are met so that people who have reached retiring age can enter these premises with dignity and peace of mind, and without fear of insecurity of the future in having to establish themselves in other premises.
The petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Bennett. Petition received.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned residents of the State of Western Australia respectfully showeth:
That the present site of the Perth Airport is unsuitable because of -
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that action be taken to remove Perth airport from its present site to the site planned by Professor Stephenson’s overall plan for the city of Perth, that is at Lake Gnangarra.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Bennett.
- Mr Speaker, I give notice that contingent upon the conclusion of the consideration of Appropriation Bills (No. 1) and (No. 2) 1972-73 I shall move:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the debate on the second reading of the Territorial Sea and Continental Shelf Bill 1970 being resumed forthwith.
– Does that need a seconder?
– I direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry.
– He is not here.
– He should be here. I shall direct my question to the Minister for Trade and Industry. Does the Minister really believe that the Randall report will propose anything that is not already well known by numerous other committees, the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and the wool industry itself? Is not the latest move of referring the Randall report back to the committee which submitted it just a deliberate stall? Is the Minister not aware that every wool growing organisation in Australia wants an authority to acquire and market its product? When will the Government display positive leadership to enact the vital legislation? Finally, will the Minister give the industry and this House an assurance that Parliament will not rise next week, or the week after or the week after that until some constructive wool legislation is enacted in this Parliament?
– I would be happy to answer this question on behalf of my colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry, who is in the House now and was on his way when the question was being asked. The impetuous Minister will get a reply to his impertinent question.
– Not Minister - member.
– I hope Hansard records that.
– That is about as near as the honourable member will get to being a Minister. The Prime Minister stated some time ago that a Randall committee would be set up to advise the Government on the wool industry, seeking the best adviceit could get from government departments and from the industry so that it would be in a well informed position to be able to make the best judgment on what was right for the Australian wool industry. This is the approach that any sensible government would take to analysing a difficult problem. When the honourable member says that he would like us to come back after the date on which the Parliament would otherwise adjourn to debate this question he is just shedding crocodile tears, knowing full well that a group of Australian Labor Party members are committed to be in Singapore the week after next to attend a national socialist conference. Nothing in the world would stop them from going. They do not want to sit for an extra week.
– Order! Question time has been going 6 or 7 minutes and there have been more than that number of interjections. If honourable gentlemen want question time to proceed correctly, I will see that it does, but I will nottolerate a consistent barrage of interjections.
– The Randall committee has a very large job to undertake. It has been presenting progressive reports to the Government. The Government has received 2 such reports. It has been informed that there will be yet another report dealing with the marketing aspects, and I hope that this third report will be available to the Government in the very near future.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. Has the Government any firm terms on which it provides financial assistance towards drought relief in pastoral areas? If so, is the extent of Commonwealth assistance merely a reimbursement of what a State itself spends on relief or may the Commonwealth provide some additional assistance? In either case is there a minimum amount which a State must spend before the Commonwealth will make any contribution, and if so, what is that minimum? Finally, do the terms of relief apply equally in all States or are some States treated differently, and if so, which are those States and what is the difference?
Mr McMOHAN There is a formula generally agreed to by the States that each State shall have the responsibility of making appropriations up to a specific amount and that over and above that amount the Commonwealth will take responsibility. This applies to each State, but naturally the capacity to pay differs for each State. Consequently, the basic amount for which the State is responsible is different for each State and the balance which has to be paid by the Commonwealth for each State is different as well. If the honourable gentleman has a specific problem relating to Western Australia he should know that the Labor Government in that State has not made any approach to the Commonwealth up to the present. That is to say, as far as J am aware it had not made any approach up to the time I came into the House. If that State wishes to do so, of course, it has the capacity to do it.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. I refer to an announcement made last January with regard to the establishment of a coastal surveillance service to be co-ordinated by the Department of Shipping and Transport. I ask the Minister: What progress has been made to date in this direction?
– I am happy to inform the honourable member that quite considerable progress has been made. A meeting of interested departments was held in February following my announcement. The Departments of Shipping and Transport, Customs and Excise, Navy, Interior, Health, Primary Industry - all relevant departments interested in the problem of coastal surveillance - met during that month. On 19th April, following that meeting, I officially opened the Marine Operations Centre. Since then there has been a second meeting of the standing committee to decide what the centre will need for the best operations. The idea behind the centre is to provide a 24-hour surveillance. This has already paid dividends. The fact that the centre was open 24 hours a day led to success in finding some boats missing at sea much more efficiently. I believe that the centre will contribute greatly to overcoming the whole of the Common wealth and State problems in regard to surveillance of our coast. I am sure that the setting up of this coastal surveillance centre will lead to a new era in cooperation between the Commonwealth and the States in the whole of this problem.
– Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. Is it in order for the Minister for Trade and Industry to beckon the Assistant Minister assisting the Minister for Primary Industry to the front bench to invite him to ask the Prime Minister a question?
-Order! That is not a point of order.
– 1 preface my question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport by reminding the Minister that about a fortnight ago I asked him a question concerning the uncertainty that existed in relation to shipping services from northern Tasmania, particularly from the port of Launceston. I ask the Minister: Have inquiries been made and, if so, can he let me have the result? I further ask the Minister whether, having regard to the long term problems involved, he will favourably consider an interdepartmental inquiry into all aspects of shipping services in this area to alleviate existing problems and to ensure that there is long term planning.
– I am able to inform the honourable member that last night I signed a letter to him on this very question setting out the facts relating to the shipping services to the northern ports of Tasmania. In that letter I pointed out to him that there has been a degree of rationalisation of service in an endeavour to offer the people of Tasmania the most economic and most reliable service possible. I am hopeful that the honourable member will be satisfied with the contents of that letter. 1 have pointed out to the honourable member on previous occasions that it is the wish of the Australian National Line and also of the private lines servicing Tasmania to maintain a sensible link between the mainland and Tasmania. If there is anything further I can do to assist in this regard, I would be happy to do it. I will have a look at the second part of the honourable member’s question and see what implications are in it.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Primary Industry. The Minister will no doubt have seen reports that a major Sydney woolbroking firm has decided against joining other brokers in the Yennora wool handling complex. Will the Minister inform the House whether he shares the stated view of the firm that the consolidation of wool handling at Yennora is undesirable in the interests of growers and the wool trade and that the complex will soon be outdated?
– It is true that the price of wool has risen very considerably over the last 4 months and as a result there are a good many people in the trade who are inclined to turn their backs on change and say it it no longer necessary to worry about the future of the industry. The industry, of course, has always been a substantial one. It has been one which has unfortunately operated under systems which are approximately the same, except for the introduction of machine shearing, as those introduced by the pioneers about a century ago. The Yennora complex involves quite a significant development of the industry into an integrated wool selling system. I have noted the comments made on behalf of one Sydney wool selling broker. Apparently that wool selling broker has recently been the subject of a takeover offer and I think this has meant a change in the share ownership of that company. I do not know whether this attitude is a result of that change in the share ownership. However, it seems to me to be unfortunate that one sector of those who have traditionally been responsible in the industry feels that it can now turn its back on change.
Although the existing systems have operated satisfactorily they are not able to provide economies to growers in circumstances where prices, although now buoyant, will not necessarily always be so. Ohe hopes that the present improvement in wool prices will continue. But to base the future of the industry on these prices would be unfortunate. It is for that reason that my colleague the Minister for Trade and Industry and I yesterday spoke on the necessity for the industry to be advised well in advance of the opening of the new wool selling season of the Government’s thinking on the plans for marketing the clip and the plans for the conduct of wool sales during the course of the whole of the next wool selling season. I believe the Yennora complex as part of a marketing change to be a worth while innovation. I think it would be most unfortunate, at its now considerably reduced scale of operation - a reduction which has come about because of new selling techniques - if it did not go ahead.
– I ask a question of the Prime Minister about the Territorial Sea and Continental Shelf Bill which since the beginning of June 1970 has been on the notice paper in his name and then in the names of his 2 successors as Minister for Foreign Affairs. Did the right honourable gentleman say last night that the first time he sighted the second reading speech of the Bill was when he was in Singapore with the then Prime Minister at a Prime Ministerial conference because he wanted to show that he took no interest in this Bill in his name between its second reading in April 1970 and the Singapore conference in January 1971, or because he intended to associate his former leader with his own repudiation of the Bill? Also I ask about his letters to the Premiers and subsequent negotiations with the States about the report of the Senate Committee on Off-Shore Petroleum Resources and or about next year’s United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea which were announced in Press statements after joint Government Party meetings by himself 7 weeks ago and by the Leader of the House yesterday? I ask whether he will mind telling the House when he wrote to the Premiers and what progress has been made in the negotiations.
– As to the first part of the honourable gentleman’s question, I have made a detailed study of the papers and I now confirm from the papers themselves that what I said yesterday, in substance, was absolutely correct, that I was on 17th April - (Opposition members interjecting)-
– If this is the way honourable members opposite wish to treat it, I now confirm that every one of the 5 statements made by the Leader of the Opposition was wrong in substance. On 17th April - the day after it was presented to the House - I was sent a copy of the speech. It was sent to me in Singapore, not at a time when I was there with the then Prime Minister at the Prime Ministers’ conference but in fact when I was travelling to Saigon, to Bangkok and to other parts of South East Asia. The substance is absolutely correct and the Leader of the Opposition is absolutely wrong. As to the second part of the honourable gentleman’s question, I have written to the Premiers on the matter of the territorial sea and continental shelf. I have also had communications-
– When did you write?
-Order! The Leader of the Opposition has asked his question. I suggest that he refrain from interjecting.
– As I am presently inclined I have no intention of disclosing the correspondence between the Premiers and myself. Nonetheless, I will have another look at the matter and, if I think it is necessary or desirable, I will let the House know the actual date on which the letters were written and what the replies were.
– Is the Treasurer aware of any suggestion that sectional vested interests, purely on the basis of their industrial power, should be given representation on the boards of government and semi-government bodies and the boards of private companies and firms? What legislative or administrative procedures would be necessary for such representation to be made compulsory?
– I understand that that is the policy adopted by the Australian Labor Party in Launceston and that it binds the Labor Party. I do not know whether the Leader of the Opposition would say that he may ignore the decision reached by the Federal Executive of the Labor Party at its conjunction in Launceston. So far as I am aware he has never publicly denied that this decision does bind him, although
I understand that in private he has indicated that there is no need too take much notice of that policy because if he were Prime Minister-
– I have never done anything of the sort.
– I am glad that the Leader of the Opposition denies that he has ever said that in private. Through you, Mr Speaker, I now invite him to say in public that he is bound by the Labor Party Platform.
The silence in itself is very remarkable. The only noise from the Opposition was a chatter of interjections from behind the Leader of the Opposition. However, the Leader of the Opposition has refused to take the opportunity to say that he is bound by Labor Party policy.
– Mr Speaker, I take a point of order and it is this-
-Order! I would like the rest of the House to be able to hear your point of order. I am finding some difficulty in hearing you.
– Thank you very much. Mr Speaker, you have the sympathy of the House in your endeavour to keep order this morning, but I submit that it was disorderly for the Treasurer to invite interjections from the Leader of the Opposition or from anyone else. This is provoking the exact situation which you have been deprecating this morning-
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– I suggest that the Treasurer is out of order.
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.
– I want to do nothing to hinder the efforts of the Treasurer to pose as a statesman in the most ponderous fashion possible.
-Order! The Leader of the Opposition has not informed the Chair of what he wishes to do and therefore he cannot speak until he tells me what he wants to do. The honourable member for Wide Bay and the honourable member for Dawson, who is out of his seat and outside the chamber, know full well that they should not be interjecting.
– If the honourable member is out of the chamber why are you talking to him?
-I am sorry; I did not hear that. I ask the Leader of the Opposition to resume his seat. On 2 occasions this morning I have appealed to the House. I shall not appeal again; I shall take action.
– I take the point, Mr Speaker, that you should restrain the Treasurer from inviting comment.
-Order! Is the Leader of the Opposition speaking to a point of order?
– Under what standing order?
-The honourable member for Macarthur will cease interjecting.
– He is fighting for survival, too.
– Like you.
-The honourable member for Griffith will cease interjecting.
– At least he made a noise; most of you do not.
-I warn the honourable member for Oxley.
– I submit that you should require answers to questions without notice to be relevant to the questions and in conformity with the Standing Orders. This is the second time this week that the Treasurer has, under the guise of answering a question without notice, asked for a comment from me. If in those circumstances I were to vouchsafe a comment you would rule that I was out of order.
-Order! The Leader of the Opposition should not go into the circumstances of this question.
– It is the second time this week. It is quite a deliberate ploy and it is not a legitimate one under the forms of the House.
-I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that the answer should be relevant to the question and if any challenge is to be made in relation to the position of a member or a Minister it should be done in conformity with the Standing Orders. Furthermore, to allow for smoother running of the House and to save time I would suggest that personal explanations and similar matters might be left until after question time.
– The question asked by the honourable gentleman related to a specific proposal that there should be included in legislation a specific power not merely to appoint but to make it mandatory to appoint to the management of all government authorities, boards, trusts and so on, representatives drawn from the trade union movement. The trade union movement in Australia is an institution, just as the insurance industry and the banking industry are institutions. The trade union movement enjoys special privileges and nobody would want to take away from the movement the institutional character that it has. However, the very essence of this question is whether or not, simply because the trade union movement does have this institutional powerful position, it ought by mandatory provision to be represented on the board of management of all government authorities, boards, trusts and so on. By way of example, a requirement that a person should be appointed to the board of the Reserve Bank merely because he represents an organisation, namely the trade union movement, without having regard to the qualities that that person might bring to the management of the board, would be quite wrong. If that example is extended beyond the Reserve Bank to something like a government insurance organisation - and consider the ramifications that it could lead to, flowing through into the entire spectrum of trade, commerce and industry in Australia - one understands how imperative it is to look for ways in which this can be prevented. Unfortunately if the Opposition were translated into government, God forbid, and it had the numbers in the House it would be able to provide for that in legislation passed in this House by the use of numbers. Therefore it remains the responsibility of the 2 parties to be put on clear exposition to the public their true policies so that when the public votes at election time it will know what the choices are.
– I ask a question of the Minister for Foreign Affairs. The honourable gentleman will be aware that the
British Foreign Secretary told the House of Commons on Monday of last week that he had made 2 recent approaches to the Soviet Foreign Minister, the most recent being on 20th April, proposing a reconvening of the Geneva Conference with a view to bringing about an end to the fighting in Vietnam through a negotiated settlement. He also should be aware that the official Foreign Office spokesman told the daily Press briefing in London last Friday that on the day before the British counsellor in Peking had met Chinese officials and had ‘discussed all aspects of the Vietnam situation, including the Geneva Conference, with the Chinese.’ I ask: Has Australia made any representations to the Soviet Union where, unlike China, we have an embassy, in support of the British representations? If we have not, why have we not done so?
– In New York last year I had lengthy discussions with Sir Alex Douglas-Home, the English Foreign Minister. On this issue of China and Vietnam the policies of Australia and the United Kingdom have diverged very considerably. We both understand the position of each other’s country. I would have thought the Leader of the Opposition would be putting a question to me asking why we did not take action when North Vietnam invaded South Vietnam rather than why we did not take action against our allies when the Americans, in defence of their ally, had laid mines outside Haiphong harbour. I would have thought he would be concerned to ask me to take the initiative at a much earlier time when South Vietnam was endeavouring to defend itself so that it could have its own form of democratic government and when from the north it had an invasion of regiments of a regular army seeking to control it by force. I am not prepared to take the initiative he suggests at this time. I conclude by commenting that one does not see the people of South Vietnam rushing north to their socalled liberators. On the contrary, these unfortunate men, women and children are fleeing southwards.
OVERSEAS STUDENTS Mr GRAHAM- Has the Minister for Foreign Affairs seen reports of a survey conducted by the Overseas Students Service at a Victorian university in which it is alleged that many Asian students in Australia have personal and welfare problems and nobody with whom these problems may be discussed? Is there any substance in this allegation and can the Minister put the facts before the House?
-I have seen the report in the Press of a survey said to have been done by the Overseas Students Service which operates under the Australian Union of Students. I suppose when one has any very large number of students gathered together one will find that some of them have what are described as welfare problems. This would be so with Australian students and I have no reason to doubt that it is so with overseas students. Having said that I should say that the results of this survey, if they were correctly reported in the Press, are totally misleading.
I understand that it is a survey taken of a sample of approximately 200 students at the University of Melbourne. There are in fact 10,000 overseas private students and 1,700 sponsored overseas students in Australia. This particular sample, from what is said in the survey, could hardly be representative, because the Overseas Students Service itself, supported by Government funds, is one of the bodies that is supposed to give welfare counselling to students. There are other private organisations which do so. My department has a welfare officer to look after the needs of overseas students in every State of the Commonwealth. In addition to that it has a special professional counselling service in Sydney and in Melbourne, and the number of students who have consulted the Service in Sydney alone in the last 9 months exceeds, by a substantial figure, the number taken as a sample in the survey.
– Has the Treasurer noted in today’s Press that Tooth and Co. Ltd has announced an even larger profit in the year in which it has given a one for one bonus. Does he know that the rate of return on invested funds in the 8 most prominent breweries in Australia in 1970-71 was well over 20 per cent? Does he agree with me that this is an iniquitously exorbitant rate of return, although similar to exorbitant profits being made by companies and received by shareholders In many other fields? When will the Minister and his Government, if they are serious in fighting inflation, seek to restrain the employers of the community instead of merely following their shallow policy of blaming the employees?
– I am glad that the question has been put on the basis of an attack on profit for it does disclose the reality of the differences of the parties. The Australian Labor Party is a socialist Party, and its platform declares it to be a socialist Party. Those people who have authority in the Labor Party - and the honourable gentleman unfortunately, does not have that authority - always try to avoid this issue, and use terms like ‘democratic socialism* or some other term in order to put off the issue. The fact remains that it is a socialist Party, whereas the Liberal Party and its coalition partner, the Australian Country Party, believe m free enterprise and the entitlement of people exercising enterprise to receive the benefits of their enterprise. To select any particular company and say that that is representative of the whole area of industry, trade and commerce in Australia is, of course, quite inaccurate in a logical way, but more importantly it discloses a willingness at any time to attack private enterprise; and it needs to be clear that it ls a willingness to attack private enterprise.
I turn to the next point of the question: Why do we blame - to quote the words of the honourable gentlemean, or as near as I can to quoting them - the worker? There is no blame on the worker. The Government identifies as the major cause of inflationary pressures excess wage increases, and it says that these are being won by a quite ruthless use of industrial power. When that industrial power is used it leaves a legacy of difficulty for everybody else in the community, except those possessed of industrial power. That is the Government’s attitude. We believe that the major cause of inflationary pressures is excess wage increases. We say also that it is very important that business does what it can to absorb all the costs that are forced upon it by increased wages. From business we want better management, better productivity performance, and, where possible, the absorption of those costs. I think that if the honourable member would look at the statistics he would find that the share of the gross national product which is going to wages, incomes and supplements has risen quite noticeably over recent years but that the same could not be said of profits.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to the statement by the Minister for Trade and Industry when he supported requests from the wool industry on its marketing proposals? Does the Prime Minister agree with these proposals? If so, will he do everything possible to have these proposals implemented as soon as practicable?
– I have nothing to add to the statement I issued immediately after the Cabinet decision was made relating to proposals that had been put before it by the Minister for Primary Industry. However, while I now have the opportunity, might I say that there is an obvious intention in some sections of the media to create the impression that there is a very strong difference of opinion between myself and the Deputy Prime Minister concerning the wool industry proposals. I have also had my attention drawn to the statement that he made relating to this issue. There have been no confrontations and there is no serious difference of opinion between the Deputy Prime Minister and myself. As I have read the various extracts from what he said, I believe he has set out in a sensible and realistic fashion the approach that has been taken by the Government. The statement that he made this morning in this House in answer to a question has my complete endorsement.
– Is the Treasurer aware that when I moved the motion at the Launceston conference of the Australian Labor Party to provide for adequate representation of trade unions on boards, commissions, trusts, etc., and in the management of banking, insurance, mass media, transport and other things I told the conference that the Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Opposition in the
Senate, Senator Murphy, Q.C., had made it clear to our committee that there was no constitutional power-
-Order! The question that is being asked of the Treasurer does not come within his province. The honourable member must relate his question to the portfolio that the Minister administers.
– This question is supplementary to the one asked of the Treasurer by the honourable member for Warringah. I am dealing with precisely the same matter as he asked about. He was allowed to ask his question and the Treasurer was allowed to answer it.
– Order! Provided the honourable member for Hindmarsh relates his question to the Minister’s portfolio I will be happy.
– 1 am doing that, because the Treasurer sought to give the impression that he knew quite a lot about what happened on this matter at that conference. Is the Treasurer aware that when I moved the motion I told the conference that the Leader of the Opposition and Senator Murphy had made it clear to the policy committee recommending it that if the motion were carried it could never be made mandatory by Act of Parliament because the Constitution would prohibit that, and that all that could be done would be for a Labor government to encourage employers in Australia to follow the example of employers in Sweden, the other Scandinavian countries and in the United Kingdom?
– Order! Question time is not a time for making policy speeches. I suggest that the honourable member relate his question to the Minister’s portfolio.
- Mr Speaker, I will bow to your ruling, but fair go. The Treasurer certainly dealt with policy from his point of view when he answered the previous question.
-Order! This is a question without notice. The answer that was given by the Minister to an earlier question was in the Minister’s hands. Provided an answer is relevant I have no jurisdiction, but I do have jurisdiction over the form of questions and I-
– Especially from an Opposition member.
-Order! The honourable member will withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it.
– Mr Speaker, on a point of order: How can you say that you have no jurisdiction over replies from a Minister? You certainly have jurisdiction when a Minister touches on things which do not concern that Minister’s portfolio? The Treasurer was quoting what the Leader of the Opposition said at the Launceston conference.
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat. The honourable member is making the point which I am trying to make to the honourable member for Hindmarsh.
– I am making-
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.
– I am taking another-
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.
– I am seeking to take another point of order.
-I am replying to the point of order. The situation that the honourable member has endeavoured to put to me is exactly the same as that which I have been seeking to put to the honourable member for Hindmarsh.
– Not quite, Mr Speaker.
-Order! That is my ruling on the matter.
– I am taking a further point of order.
-The honourable member will resume his seat.
– Mr Speaker, I am taking another point of order.
– What is the point of order?
– Mr Speaker, it is quite obvious to me that you are trying to restrict a member of the Opposition from putting a question, yet you have allowed a Minister to talk about things which have nothing to do with his portfolio.
– The honourable member will resume his seat. There is no substance in the point of order. I call the honourable member for Hindmarsh.
– Is the Treasurer aware that many employers, and certainly most of the enlightened employers in Australia, are already making provision for representatives of trade unions to sit on their boards? Does the Treasurer know that the only opposition that has come to this proposition so far from within the trade union movement has come from the communist section of the trade union movement which looks upon this as a sell-out of trade union principles and a proposal to soften up the representatives of the workers by putting them on board’s of management so that they may betray their fellow workers?
– I did not know that the Leader of the Opposition had offered his opinion on the constitutional power to the Launceston conference. The other day a question was asked in relation to insurance and the honourable member for Chifley took a point of order - I think it was the honourable member for Chifley who took the point of order - for the purposes of explaining that Labor Party policy in relation to insurance could not be carried out because there is a constitutional objection. The honourable member for Hindmarsh today says: ‘Do you not know that although we adopted this policy at Launceston, for constitutional reasons advised to us by the Leader of the Opposition and by Senator Murphy we could not cany out our policy?’ What sort of a charade is this that you go through where you adopt a policy which you put in writing to placate one group of the Party and in the meantime you go to the public and say: Take no notice of it because we are not going to do it.’? That is the clear implication that is involved in it. So far as the particular issue that has been raised by the honourable gentleman is concerned, that has nothing to do with what might be called worker participation in plant management. What this has to do with is all boards and government bodies. As far as the constitutional power is concerned, I would like to see the written advice of the Leader of the Opposition on the constitutional issue saying that the Labor Party does not have power mandatorily to require adequate representation of the trade unions in the management of such area as broadcasting and television, insurance and banking in which there is undoubted Commonwealth power to legislate. As to whether the Constitution would prevent it being carried that far, I would like very much to see the written advice of the Leader of the Opposition on that constitutional question.
– Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I did not say-
-Order! I suggest to the honourable member, as I suggested earlier during question time this morning, that he wait until question time is concluded when I will give him the call.
– I address a question to the Minister for Supply. Having regard to certain inquiries conducted by the Public Accounts Committee over recent years and the comment by the Auditor-General in his latest report regarding the purchase of certain vehicular equipment bearing on procurement arrangements, can the Minister advise the House what principles and associated administrative arrangements currently operate when Australian and overseas firms tender for goods and services?
– I must first say that the Department of Supply is concerned very largely with defence procurement, though the procurement section of the Department does some purchasing on behalf of the Department of Foreign Affairs in matters of foreign aid, and of course purchases equipment for use in the Antarctic. In the first instance, when overseas and domestic suppliers submit tenders, the overseas tender has added to it the usual costs of freight, insurance, duty and primage, if any, so that there is initially a comparison on a commercial basis. Any relevant tariff protection is afforded. Secondly, where the amount tendered is $15,000 or above and still results in the overseas supplier being the lower tenderer the Departments of Labour and National Service, Trade and Industry and Treasury have the opportunity to object. If they agree the matter can proceed, but if they disagree the tenders are referred to the Cabinet committee on government purchasing policy, which has already been announced, and which would consider whether the acceptance of a higher Australian tender would materially assist a depressed industry or contribute to a significant national development in Australia. There may be other reasons - one in which the defence group would be particularly interested is that of providing a defence facility in Australia or fostering it. This would also cause the Government to give preference to a higher Australian tender. 1 might add that where it is suspected that an overseas tender involves dumping it is now the practice not to eliminate that tender from consideration but to calculate a dumping margin, that calculation being carried out by the Department of Customs and Excise, so that a comparison can be carried out after that adjustment.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Order! Does the Minister claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. The ‘Australian’ today carries the statement that in 1957 or thereabouts I. warned against ‘a 1973 takeover bid for Australia by the Roman Catholics’. It is true that I have apprehensions about certain kinds of takeovers. I even confess that at times I have a lurking fear of a possible takeover in 1973, but neither that nor any other potential takeover tormenting my subconscious-
-Order! I will not allow any honourable member to debate the question or to voice his personal opinion when making a personal explanation. The Minister will explain where he has been misrepresented. This is not a time for debate.
– I conclude by saying that neither that nor any other potential takeover is in any way related to the Catholic Church. The newspaper reference mystifies me and does not represent any views in the slightest.
Mr CLYDE CAMERON (Hindmarsh)I ask for leave to make a statement relative to the statement made by the Treasurer.
-Is leave granted?
– If it is for a personal explanation.
– Leave is granted.
– I ask whether it is a personal explanation.
– No. The honourable member has asked for leave to make a statement.
– I do not give leave to make a statement.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– I have been misrepresented. I wish the Prime Minister would cheer up.
-Order! I suggest that the honourable member for Hindmarsh proceed to make his personal explanation.
-It might not be as bad as the gallup polls suggest. But I think it is worse.
-Order! If the honourable member does not proceed with his personal explanation I will ask him to resume his seat.
– In answer to the question that I asked, the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) said that I had indicated that at Launceston the Australian Labor Party had carried a resolution which it knew it could not carry out or did not intend to cary out. I said nothing of the kind in my question to the Treasurer, as every honourable member will know. What I said was that at Launceston the Labor Party adopted the resolution moved by me after I had explained clearly to the conference that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and Senator Murphy, Q.C. had made it clear to the committee recommending the proposal that there was no constitutional power to bring in such legislation as was passed in West Germany by the Christian Democrat Government there, 20 years ago or thereabouts
-Order! The honourable member should make his personal explanation.
– I am.
– Will the honourable member state where he has been misrepresented?
– Yes. That is what I make clear to the Parliament. It was made perfectly clear to the conference that all that a Labor Government could do would be to encourage the development that is already taking place in Australia, where important companies are putting representatives of unions on their boards of management, and with very good effect.
– Order! If the honourable member persists in that vein I will ask him to resume his seat. He should confine bis remarks to where he has been personally misrepresented.
– Yes. Then the Treasurer went on to say that I was telling an untruth - he suggested it but I do not think that he would intend that to be inferred - or misleading the Parliament when I said that I had told the conference that it was not possible to provide for representatives of trade unions to be on the boards of Government enterprises, such as the Australian Broadcasting Commission and bodies and commissions of this kind. I did not say that. At no stage did I say that the Labor Government could not put union representatives on these boards. Why, this present Government has put representatives of employers and graziers on various boards, and of course we could do the same thing.
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.
– Mr Speaker, this is following on the personal explanation. There is a provision in the Standing Orders - I have forgotten the number of the standing order - which says that if a member wants to make something personally clear-
-Order! The Treasurer has risen and wants to talk. I will not know what he wants to say or do unless he asks.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the Treasurer claim to have been misrepresented?
– Only partially. If the House would hear me for a second-
– I raise a point of order.
– May I just say that I made no implication.
– Oh, sit down. My point of order is this: I sought leave to make a personal statement so that I could traverse the whole field of misrepresentation, but the Prime Minister refused to give me leave. Now the Treasurer is trying to do the same thing. I am glad you have stopped him, Mr Speaker.
– For the information of honourable members, I present a report on the inquiry into the fees to be adopted for general practitioner medical services in New South Wales (Items 1 and 4) for the purposes of the National Health Act.
– Is the Minister for Immigration or any other Minister proposing to have the matter noted?
– I have just presented the report.
Report of Joint Select Committee
– On behalf of the Joint Select Committee on Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Legislation I bring up the report of the Committee together with minutes of the proceedings. I ask for leave of the House to make a short statement in connection with the report.
– There being no objection leave is granted.
– The report I have just presented recommends the repeal of the existing DFRB legislation and the immediate introduction of a new scheme. In the report the Committee outlines a scheme which it considers should meet the requirements of the defence forces for the foreseeable future.
The Committee’s conclusions were greatly influenced by 2 considerations: Firstly, the special nature of a career in the defence forces. Very few members indeed are permitted to continue to serve until the age of 60, and the risk of death or injury, in peace as well as war, is far higher than in civilian employment. For these reasons we do not believe that the
Commonwealth superannuation scheme is an appropriate foundation on which to base a retirement benefits scheme for the defence forces. The second consideration was the need for simplicity and comprehensibility. We found that few members of the defence forces have a clear understanding of the present DFRB scheme. The Committee believes that retirement benefits are significant factors in both recruiting and retention, and that any scheme which is not comprehensible to the average serviceman will fail in one of its main purposes.
After intensive consideration of the present DFRB scheme, the Committee came unanimously to the conclusion that the post- 1959 scheme is quite unsuited to the needs of the Services, and could not be modified to make it suitable. A completely new scheme is required. This is in no sense a criticism of the members of the present DFRB Board, who have at all times cooperated with the Committee and have been of great assistance to it, but rather of the Acts they have been required to administer.
The following is an outline of the more important features of the scheme the Committee proposes. All members should contribute a flat 5i per cent of their pay. The present post-1959 scheme has a varying rate of contribution based on age of entry. This varying scale has certain actuarial advantages, but the Committee decisively discarded it in the interests of simplicity and comprehensibility. Both officers and other ranks should be entitled to receive a pension, which we prefer to call retired pay, when retiring after 20 years or more of effective service. Retired pay should be expressed as a percentage of final pay, on an accelerating scale, ranging from 35 per cent of final pay after 20 years service to 76.5 per cent after 40 years service. All existing contributors should be transferred to the new scheme. The transfer arrangements are set out in detail in the report. There should be automatic adjustments of retired pay in accordance with fluctuations in average weekly earnings. A possible way of achieving this would be to maintain retired pay as a percentage of current active pay. There should be an unfettered right to commute a portion of retired pay as a lump sum on retirement. Members should have the right to commute a maximum of 4 times the annual retired pay payable to them on retirement and this amount should not be subject to reduction either on grounds of the member’s life expectancy or for any other reason. These are some of the more significant features of the scheme. The full proposals are set out in the report.
The present legislation provides an elaborate system of gratuities, which in our view have contributed to complexity and have caused confusion about the purpose of the scheme. We recommend that gratuities should, in future, be provided as an ordinary condition of service and removed from the scheme. I have put this suggestion informally to Mr Justice Kerr. We consider that the Committee of Inquiry into Services Pay and Conditions might profitably examine the whole question of gratuities, and would suggest to the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn) that he refer this matter to that Committee.
Assessment of invalids should, in our view, be undertaken by an independent assessment tribunal, and there should be provision for an appeal by an aggrieved person either to a court, on questions of law, or to an appeal tribunal which could substitute its own assessment for that of the first tribunal. Invalid pay should no longer be subject to suspension when the member’s civilian earnings have reached two-thirds of the curent equivalent of his pay at retirement.
The Commonwealth Actuary prepared a report for the Committee explaining the financial and actuarial basis of the present DFRB scheme. We have included this document among the appendices to our report. We have concluded that a much simpler method of providing finance is desirable. We propose that instead of accumulating the contributions of members in a fund, the contributions should be used as needed to pay the benefits. Contributions should be paid to the Government, which should guarantee the benefits at the level proposed and meet any additional cost. Our reasons for proposing this course are set out fully in our report. Our proposals do not envisage a funded scheme, although the Government might wish to establish a fund to hold unexpended contributions and to meet its long term liability.
The new scheme should be administered by the Department of Defence and the
Minister of Defence should be the responsible Minister. It seems to the Committee that there would be substantial administrative savings in having Service pay authorities responsible for the payment both of their active members and of their retired members and dependants. We have been very anxious to obtain estimates of the cost of our proposals. We asked the Commonwealth Actuary for estimates of the cost of the present scheme compared with the cost of the Committee’s proposals. The necessary information was not available to the Actuary when this request was first made, and in an interim report presented to Parliamentlast December it was explained that the Committee’s report would be delayed until this information was obtained.
We have not yet received any satisfactory estimate of the emerging cost of the proposed scheme, but we would point out that the Commonwealth Actuary was also unable to provideus with an estimate of the emerging cost of the present scheme. The Committee would, however, like to emphasise that it believes that the contributions required and the benefits provided in the proposed scheme are reasonable, and that the cost to the Commonwealth will not be unacceptably greater than that of the present scheme. The Committee has been very conscious of the importance of the DFRB legislation to the recruiting and morale of the defence forces. We believe the scheme we have proposed is fair and comprehensible, and will not impose any undue financial burden on the Commonwealth.
I would like to conclude by thanking all members of the Committee. It has been a good Committee and there have not been politics in it. It has worked for what it has seen as the benefits that should be given to the servicemen of this country. I would like to thank also the Clerk to the Committee and to all of the people who have assisted the Committee, Also I thank Colonel Phillip Stokes who was the adviser to the Committee and without whom, I am sure, we would not have been able to reach these conclusions in the time that we have. I would also like to say that nowhere in any section of the report is there implied any criticism of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Board or those who have administered the DFRB scheme over the years that it has been in existence.
They have done a job, and done it well. The criticism is of the Act, and the Act only. We strongly commend the report to the House.
Ordered that the report be printed.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Excise Tariff Bill 1972.
Excise Bill 1972.
Distillation Bill 1972.
Spirits Bill 1972.
Diesel Fuel Tax Bill (No. 1) 1972.
Diesel Fuel Tax Bill (No. 2) 1972.
Navigation Bill 1972.
Motion (by Mr Swartz) proposed:
That Order of the Day No. 1, Government Business, be postponed until a later hour.
– What is wrong with this place?
– Well, there is one way of testing that. The honourable member who interjected could try to stand for the electorate of Wills. No-one currently seems to be trying to do that. I understand that we are to proceed now to debate legislation which has been on the notice paper for 2 years. Grievance Day is one of the few occasions on which members of this Parliament can debate the matters with which they are concerned, but today we are to be deprived of this opportunity. Last night, the Government gagged the adjournment debate at 2 o’clock. What is the Grievance Day debate which is to be suspended? It is the opportunity for honourable members to raise in this place matters which concern them particularly or matters in which they have genera) interest. In my own instance, I have been waiting for some time for an opportunity to raise the question of the Aboriginal people of Australia, as one could do on Grievance Day. I was hoping to do it in the debate on the Appropriation Bill or on the Supply Bill but no, we have made agreements. We have cut down the time for debate and sliced it up into small parts, as a result of which very few people can take part in it.
I believe that there is something wrong with all of us if we allow a handful of people who sit on the front bench opposite to decide the way in which this Parliament is run. In this instance, we are being run like a third rate progress association. My arithmetic says that it is 935 days since the last election. We are now meeting on the 175th day. We do not meet enough. Wc allow ourselves to be circumscribed in debate. We allow every privilege of an ordinary member to be trodden upon and removed from him, and we all just sit here. When 1 stand up honourable members opposite say: ‘There you go again’. They smirk at that remark. Honourable members on my side also have allowed themselves to become doormats. 1 believe that it is time the Parliament took a good sharp look at itself.
There were 3 or 4 matters that I would have liked to raise today - the question of Aborigines, the failure of the Government to do anything about attempting to produce a ceasefire in Vietnam and the occupation of this place in a short time by SEATO representatives. Shortly Foreign Ministers of some other countries are going to sit in this chamber and talk their heads off about foreign affairs. But are we allowed to talk about foreign affairs? When will the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen) make a statement so that we can debate it at great length? 1 hope that when the people of Australia come to the next election they will take as a major issue of policy the manner in which this Parliament is run and the slow and continual denigration and degradation of this institution over the last 10 or 15 years and, in particular, the last 5 or 6 years. The principal villain of the piece is the Leader of the House (Mr Swartz). If somebody would come with me I would start a campaign in Toowoomba to let the people of his electorate know what he is doing to the parliamentary institution, which belongs to them and which he is reducing to a complete and absolute failure as a representative legislative democratic institution.
– Without wishing to delay the House I compliment my colleague the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant). I also join my voice in protest at the limited time available in this House to backbench members, especially backbench members of the Opposition, to adequately represent their electors by having the chance to speak or to ask questions on matters which con cern them. I and other members of the Opposition, including my colleague the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating), have previously highlighted the lack of opportunity for backbench members of the Opposition to ask questions without notice. I do not want to refer to this subject this morning because the appropriate time for reference to it will occur later. However, I should like to refer to the fact that some backbench members of the Government parties have had the opportunity this session to ask no fewer than 9 questions. Yet this morning I was struggling to get the call to ask my fourth question. I knew that I had little chance of getting the call when my colleague who sits beside me, the honourable member for Bonython (Mr Nicholls), has not yet had the opportunity to ask his third question.
– What about your Leader?
– Honourable members opposite criticise us and say that it is the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) who deprives us of an opportunity to ask questions. However, let me ask you, Mr Speaker, what opportunity is there for the Leader of the Opposition to uncover the injustices of this Government if he does not have the opportunity to do so at question time? He has little opportunity to put forward propaganda for this Party as Ministers have for the other side in answer to questions.
-Order! I have allowed the honourable member some latitude in this debate. Question time is not an issue in this debate and, although it may be very slightly relevant, I do not think the honourable member should labour that point.
– I appreciate that, Mr Speaker, and I thank you for your indulgence. However, I assure you that I continued on that score only because of interjections from the other side. Let me just say in closing that very limited opportunities exist for backbench members on this side of the House to raise matters of interest and concern to their electors.
The matter which I wished to refer to this morning and which I have been denied the opportunity to mention is the grave injustices that are about to be inflicted upon the people of Queensland as a whole by the carrying out of the first election to be held under the greatest gerrymander that has ever been inflicted upon the people of Australia - inflicted by the Country Party-Liberal Party of that State.
-Order! If the honourable member does not come back to the motion that is before the House I will have to ask him to resume his seat. I do not think the gerrymandering of seats in Queensland has anything to do with the question before this House.
– Mr Speaker, let me point out that it was my intention to raise that matter during the grievance day debate this morning. I have been denied that opportunity because the Government wishes to discuss something that has remained on the notice paper for months and months. Private members are being denied even the limited opportunity that exists for them to raise questions such as those to which I have referred. However, out of respect to your ruling that I should not canvass the matter to which I had intended to refer, the opportunity to do which has been denied me, I will resume my seat.
I conclude by saying .that I agree with the honourable member for Wills and I congratulate him on being a person who is never fearful of raising his voice in this place on behalf of the private members. Despite the fact that I have been denied the chance this morning to let the people of Australia hear by way of the parliamentary broadcast of the injustice that is to be inflicted upon the people of Queensland, I hope that the people of Queensland are aware of the injustice and that they will take the opportunity when it arises to show their displeasure at what the Country Party-Liberal Party coalition Government in Queensland has done to them.
– Normally I would take no part in this debate as I am accustomed to some of the histrionics that one sees from time to time from members of the Opposition. However, on this occasion, in direct rebuttal of what has been said by my friend, the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant), I wish to say to the House and particularly to the honourable member for Wills that I believe that the personal attack which has been made in the interests of certain coming events in the State of Queensland ought to he. refuted. To charge the Leader of the
House, the honourable member for Darling Downs (Mr Swartz), with having been guilty of some line of conduct which threatens the proper functioning of this Parliament is an outrage in itself. I wish to place on record-
– Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. I want to make it quite clear that I did not blame the honourable member for Darling Downs for what is being inflicted upon the people of Queensland.
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order. I do not think the honourable member for Bowman has been referred to.
– If the honourable member who raised that point of order had listened to me he would have heard me say that I was referring particularly to the honourable member for Wills. I want to place on record in this House that the record of personal service to this country rendered by the honourable and gallant member for Darling Downs in peace and war, may be equalled by many but is surpassed by very few who have ever sat in this place. The bridge of that service goes from his own electorate of Darling Downs to a place called the bridge over the River Kwai. I ask the honourable member for Wills to remember this and to withdraw and apologise for that very wicked attack upon the integrity and the career of the honourable member for Darling Downs.
– I support my 2 colleagues who have already spoken to this motion and I make a strong appeal to the Leader of the House (Mr Swartz) to reconsider the Government’s decision to dispense today with the Grievance Day debate. The backbench members of this Parliament are entitled to an opportunity to debate political matters which concern them and their electorates. If honourable members were to examine -matters which have been brought forward over the years on Grievance Day they would see that there have been very few occasions on which members have brought forward trivial matters. As far as that member and his electorate are concerned the matter is one of importance.
Grievance Day is one of the few opportunities that the backbench member has in this Parliament to speak on a subject concerning him and his electorate. For too long this Parliament has been dictated to by the hierarchy called Cabinet, comprising about 9 Ministers. Cabinet dictates not only to the Parliament as to what it should debate and what decisions it will make but also to Government members. All that the Government members can do when these matters are brought before party meetings is to express some form of discontent and disagreement with what the hierarchy is doing. In the Labor Party in opposition decisions made by our executive must be brought forward to run the gauntlet of Caucus and consistently and regularly proposals are defeated, amended or changed in some way as required by Caucus. The same procedure would prevail with the Labor Party in Government. Caucus has power to do that.
I have been told by older members of our Party that in the days of the Chifley Government a Budget was defeated in Caucus. The Treasurer brought the Budget to the Caucus meeting, and as was the procedure, the doors were closed and no one could leave Caucus until members came from there to the Parliament. On this occasion caucus rejected the Budget and a hastily called meeting of the Ministry, all of whom were members of Cabinet, considered the matter. Caucus was assured that if the Budget were approved then the amendments required by caucus would be put into operation early in the following year. In government, the ordinary member of the Labor Party has the opportunity to have more to say in the running of affairs than have members of the Liberal Party and the Country Party. The Liberal-Country Party coalition is under the control of a dictatorship. It is important that on Grievance Day backbench members be given the opportunity to speak. On the business paper are 11 undebated General Business items of which members have given notice. They will not be debated in the life of this Parliament. The orders of the day include 18 items partially debated but never brought to a vote.
I ask the Leader of the House when, where and how backbenchers in this Parliament can get an opportunity to bring forward their views on matters not covered by legislation? Grievance Day offers an opportunity for those members to bring these matters before the Parliament. The Government must stop diseregarding the view of the Parliament The Government must become aware that the Parliament is made up of men of equal status. All members are elected as representatives of their particular electorates. Members become Ministers because their Party happens to have the greatest representation at a particular time. Being apopinted Minister does not make a member God. lt makes him a leader of a particular section of government. Every member of this House is equal. In a division the tellers count each member only once. They do not count Ministers twice. Unfortunately Ministers think they are part of God’s kingdom in this place. So far as I am concerned the more opportunities backbenchers get to air their views the better.
On the Opposition benches 59 members are eligible to ask questions but on the Government side of the House only 42 members are eligible to ask questions because Ministers do not ask questions. A Government supporter has the opportunity to ask more questions than an Opposition member. The Government should not restrict members in bringing forward important business. Another anomaly that has crept into the workings of the Parliament is the length of time members must wait for a reply from Ministers to letters. It is nothing for members to wait 2 or even 3 months before receiving a reply to a simple request. Replies that could be given in a matter of an hour if a Minister took the trouble to do so are sometimes delayed for months. Members never receive a reply to correspondence within a month and on many occasions it is 2 or even 3 months before their correspondence is answered.
– It takes Ministers weeks to acknowledge the receipt of a letter.
– I cannot agree with that. They acknowledge letters in a matter of a week but to get a reply to a simple matter takes 2 or 3 months. My secretary is going through the files and pulling out correspondence to Ministers - 1 write many such letters every week - to ascertain the delays that are occurring by the inefficiency of Ministers in this Government in replying to simple correspondence from members who are seeking information. Recently I wrote a letter to the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) regarding a young fellow who had been refused a university scholarship. It took the Minister 3 months to give reasons why that young man had not gained a scholarship.
– I know I may have got a little away from the matter before the House but occasionally one has to step off the straight and narrow to make one’s point. These are the reasons why members should be given the opportunity to speak on Grievance Day and why Ministers should be available to answer criticism levelled at them or their departments. With regard to the adjournment at night, on Tuesday night there is no adjournment debate and if the House sits late on Wednesday and Thursday nights again there is no adjournment debate.
– Last night the Government gagged the adjournment debate.
– That is so. There should be unlimited debate on these occasions to give members the opportunity to bring important matters before the House. Broadcasting should not be concluded as soon as the motion That the House do now adjourn’ is moved. Let the broadcasting continue so that those people who are interested may listen to the adjournment debate. Many important topics are brought forward for discussion on the adjournment. Most importantly the Ministers should stay here and answer criticism levelled at them by members from both sides of the House. The Ministers should be here instead of slinking off home to bed, or wherever they go at that time of night. I urge the Leader of the House to reconsider the Government’s decision to cancel Grievance Day today. The Government should not reduce the number of opportunities that members get to bring forward matters affecting their electorate. Grievance Day occurs only every second week; on alternate Thursdays General Business which never comes to a vote is dealt with. I ask the Minister to reconsider the decision and give the backbench members a fair go.
– Listening to this debate I thought I was hearing from new members who do not understand the workings of the House and were therefore making complaints. The honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Jones) should know better, but he has not had experience in government.
– It will not be long.
– I ran a council which had an annual expenditure of-
– Order! . The honourable member for Newcastle has spoken in this debate and he will cease interjecting.
– The honourable member for Mallee has not told the truth.
-It does not matter. The honourable member for Newcastle has the right to make an explanation after the member for Mallee has concluded his speech. I warn the honourable member for Bowman, who has already spoken in this debate and has now interjected on 3 occasions.
– As to whether I am telling the truth or not, I ask whether the honourable member for Newcastle had any experience of the Labor Party in government? He will not answer that because the answer is no. I like the Grievance Day debate. I think it is a good debate but circumstances alter cases and as the Parliament is hoping to rise within the next 2 or 3 weeks, every moment is precious so that important government business may be dealt with properly. The honourable member for Newcastle said that if one studies past Grievance Day debates one will find that things of great moment have been discussed. This is not so. When one studies most of them it will be seen that something personal has been brought forward by the honourable member on behalf of a certain constituent. Such cases in number overwhelm all those of great national importance. So the honourable member for Newcastle was not very accurate in what he said to the Parliament. He interjected to suggest that I was not telling the truth, and mentioned the case I want to put. You will agree with me, Mr Speaker, that much time has been taken up this morning by the riotous behaviour of the Opposition in raising all kinds of absolutely frivolous points of order. We could have had perhaps three or four more questions asked at question time had certain honourable members behave themselves. You had to warn the honourable member for Sydney (Mr Cope) three or four times (Quorum formed). If it were possible for a man from Mars to come down and look at what is going on in this House it would not be very long before he realised that we are getting near an election.
– It will be a shock for you.
– The honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) is all the time interjecting. He is not helping matters at all.
– Often you have thrashed me.
– And I will thrash the honourable member again If he is not careful. I do not take notice of what newcomers to this House say because they may not understand. The main offender here is the honourable member for Newcastle. But what a wonderfully democratic Australian Labor Party this is. One of the greatest things that Labor has put forward in its programme would not have been great for Australia. There is an honourable member walking across the chamber and interjecting. He should sit down.
– Who the hell are you, you yapping, snivelling-
– You are an old goat.
-The honourable member for Blaxland will withdraw that remark and apologise.
– I withdraw and apologise but it would not hurt-
-The honourable member for Blaxland will resume his seat. I suggest, to the honourable member for Mallee that he make his speech in the vein in which it should be made and speak to the motion before the House.
– I am supporting the motion. The honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) referred to me in an abusive way. Let me tell honourable members that when he first came into this House I shook his hand and congratulated him and said: ‘I hope you are happy here1. He has not spoken to me since. That is the kind of man he is. I have endeavoured in this House to extend goodwill to all honourable members. Most accept it and reciprocate; a few do not and 1 cannot be blamed for that. I am referring to what the Labor Party put forward when it was in office - bank nationalisation. How many Labor members knew about that? At that time Caucus did not decide whether this move should be made.
– I rise to order. The motion under discussion which was moved by the Leader of the House is that order of the day No. 1, Government Business, be postponed to a later hour. In other words, it is the scrubbing of the Grievance Day debate. What on earth have the historical illusions of the hysterical honourable member for Mallee to do with that motion?
– I accept the point of order raised by the honourable member for Wills. I fail to see how the remarks concerning the nationalisation of banking can be relevant to the subject matter before the Chair, the motion that order of the day No. 1, Government Business, the grievance debate, be postponed, so that the House may continue with Government Business.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, you have just come into the chair. Is it right that every other honourable member who has spoken has been permitted to go back years and years by Mr Speaker but when I try to answer the comments that have been made I am refused permission by you? Am I the only one to get this treatment?
-Order! The honourable member for Mallee should know from his experience in this House that he would not be the only honourable member to have said things which were not relevant to the matter under discussion. He should also know from his experience that he should make what he is saying appear to be relevant. The subject mater before the House at the moment is the postponement of order of the day No. I, Government Business, to a later hour and I suggest that the honourable member for Mallee make his remarks relevant to that.
– Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I do not know whether you realise that I referred to bank nationalisation only in passing. Again referring to it in passing, hardly a Labor member knew that Mr Chifley was going to move for it. The honourable member for Newcastle said that they knew all about such moves and discussed them over and over again. This is so much rot. Getting back to the motion before the House, I suggested before you came into the Chair, Mr Deputy Speaker, and I do not want to indulge in tedious repetition, that the uproar caused by the raising of frivolous points of order and motions said to be urgent have taken up the time of this House far more than they should have. There is not the slightest doubt about this. If the Opposition had conducted itself in a parliamentary way there would have been plenty of time for more speeches to be made and questions to have been asked. The Opposition is saying that it should get the opportunity to ask more questions. Can one member of the Opposition get up and say straight out that this morning had it not been for the uproars and frivolous points of order and warnings being given we would not have had, without exaggeration, at least 3 more questions?
– I will answer his question, Mr Deputy Speaker.
-Order! The honourable member for Grayndler will resume his seat.
– Mr Deputy Speaker - has the honourable member not finished yet?
– Of course I have not finished.
-Order! The honourable member for Riverina will resume his seat.
– I have been long enough in this Parliament to know not to get into a state of uproar. Honourable members rise before others have finished speaking. Of course I have not finished speaking, I have not even started.
-Order! If the honourable member for Mallee continues in the way he has been he will finish speaking before his time has expired.
– In spite of what you have said, because I think it is relevant to the debate may I say that I am of the opinion that although there is not enough time for everyone to say everything he wants to say, if each honourable member were given the opportunity to say all he wanted to say in this Parliament it would take more than the 3 years for which we are elected. It would take 20 years for all honourable members to speak about whatever they desire. Therefore, every honourable member has to be given an equal opportunity to speak. The honourable member for Newcastle said that honourable members on the Government side ask more questions than Opposition members. That may be so, but that was also the position when Labor was in office. I know what happened when Labor was in office. Today the members of the younger generation in this country and in this Parliament, do not know what happened when Labor was in office. The younger Opposition members are pleased to see long serving members of the Government parties who know what happened when Labor was in office leave this Parliament so that they can speak as they like without fear of a Government member presenting a clear and proper case. They suggest that when Labor was in office it did everything right, it did it graciously, and that this was a wonderful Parliament at that time.
– I have just heard from the honourable member for Mallee (Sir Winton Turnbull) the most irrelevant speech that I have heard in this Parliament for a long time, and I have been here nearly as long as the honourable member for Mallee has. He spoke for 13 minutes, but he touched on the subject which we are discussing for perhaps one minute. It was a shocking waste of the time which we are trying to save.
If this motion is passed it will mean that the Grievance Day debate will go overboard this morning. The Grievance Day debate is essentially for back benchers who have very few opportunities to speak in this Parliament because of the pressure and nature of business. It is so late when we finish at night that usually we are speaking in the adjournment debate near midnight.
The Grievance Day debate provides an opportunity once a fortnight to back benchers to raise private electoral problems which concern their electorates. The trouble is that we are controlled by the front bench members opposite. The Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz), who is the best Leader of the House that we have had since I have been in this place - and that is nearly 26 years - has done his utmost to get some planning, common sense and sanity into the conduct of the last fortnight of parliamentary sessions. For the first time in all the years that we have had a Federal Parliament, the Minister for National Development, who is in charge of the House, has insisted that no new legislation shall be introduced into this chamber in the last fortnight of the session, and he has carried that out. One of the things that has been killing honourable members on this side of the House for years has been the introduction of new legislation in the dying hours of a session. To the everlasting credit of the Minister - and as Opposition Whip I say this without any fear of contradiction - this has resulted in a great improvement in the conduct of business at the end of sessions.
We have always suffered because of the convertina-ing of legislation into the last fortnight of a session. We have been overwhelmed and inundated with legislation. We have had to sit until 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning in order to deal with that legislation. The Minister has tried to bring some order into the conduct of business in the last fortnight of a session. But on this occasion I am utterly opposed to the cancellation of the last Grievance Day debate which will be held during this current session. Parliament will not resume until the middle of August, and then we will be in the Budget session. So it will be a long time before a back bencher has an opportunity to participate in a Grievance Day debate.
I object to the motion principally because, as the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) and the honourable member for Bowman (Mr Keogh) have said, the Grievance Day debate is to be replaced by debate on a subject that has been listed on the notice paper for 2 solid years. We would not have offered such strong opposition to the motion if the subject to be discussed today was an urgent matter of some national importance - something very important that is happening in the country. But it is absolutely wrong to resurrect a dead issue and to dispense with the Grievance Day debate today. We do not have the numbers to defeat the motion, but at least we have the right to object to the motion and to oppose it.
Last night back benchers on this side of the chamber were delivered a very severe blow to their freedom of speech in this chamber when the adjournment debate was gagged, although 2 honourable members on this side of the House had been promised that they would be allowed to speak in the adjournment debate. Occasionally honourable members opposite go berserk, and they went berserk last night when they gagged the adjournment debate although, as I say, 2 honourable members on this side of the House had been promised that they would be allowed to speak in the adjournment debate. My colleague, the honourable member for Robertson (Mr Cohen), has been gagged on 2 occasions in the past week when he has attempted to speak in the adjournment debate. This is not freedom of speech. It is late enough to have to speak in the adjournment debate around midnight.
I know that it is difficult at the end of a session not to do stupid things, but why should we be prevented from having a Grievance Day debate? Why cannot the Parliament sit for an extra week? Why cannot we have next week the Grievance Day debate that is to be cancelled today? We would not mind if that were done. Let us dispense with general business next week and have a Grievance Day debate. After all, on two or three occasions this session we have sacrificed the Grievance Day debate in order to deal with matters under general business which do not concern back benchers at all. The Grievance Day debate should be inviolate; nothing should supplant it. The Grievance Day debate is the hallmark of, and the key to, the back benchers’ freedom of speech in this Parliament.
I am very upset, annoyed and disgusted to think that the Territorial Sea and Continental Shelf Bill is to be debated today and that the right to speak in the Grievance Day debate is to be taken away from us. If the Minister can guarantee that we will have a Grievance Day debate next Thursday, we will not call for a division on this motion this morning and so waste a bit more time. Unless he does that, in the mood in which we are this morning, we will call for a division on this motion. There are 2 ways to overcome this problem: Have a Grievance Day debate next Thursday, or allow the Parliament to sit for another week so that we can conclude the remaining items on the notice paper without the necessity to have any more late nights and back benchers would have an opportunity to speak on the adjournment debate.
This House rose at 2 o’clock yesterday morning and at 1.30 this morning. As I have said previously, tihs must be the craziest Parliament in the world. We are killing ourselves by sitting late. No businessman in this country would ever be working on his business at 2 o’clock in the morning unless there was a crisis in the business and he was going bankrupt, or something like that, and he wanted to find a few more dollars.
– The Government is bankrupt. That is why it is doing this.
– It is bankrupt.
– It is exactly the same in London and Ottawa, and you know it.
– I know that the honourable member for North Sydney has been around the world a few times. I still say that this is the craziest Parliament in the world, sitting for theselate hours. I know that the Houses of Commons in both Canada and the United Kingdom sit late On occasions, but usually it is at the very end of a session. We thought that we were getting along fine under the new arrangement with no late nights, but already this week we have sat past midnight on 2 occasions. I think that there will be a lot of opposition from this side of the House if we sit past midnight regularly next week, which is supposed to be the last week of the session. It would be saner for the Parliament to sit a couple of extra days so that we could deal with the business in an orderly fashion and not overwork members. That would be the best way in which to conclude the business. I protestthis morning at the disappearance of this week’s Grievance Day debate.
– Mr Deputy Speaker
– Mr Deputy Speaker, they say that every dog has its day, but I am not going to get to the first post.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! Will the honourable member for Riverina bear with me for one moment? Did the Minister move the motion?
– Not yet.
– I am sorry. Did the Minister move the motion that the order of the day under Government Business be postponed?
– I wanted to check on that, because I was not in the chair at the time.
– Yes, and I will be closing the debate.
– If the Minister moved the motion, it precludes him from speaking as long as any other member is rising. That was the point I wanted to make.
– In that case I will move another motion. I move:
Question put. The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority .. .. 5
Questions resolved in the affirmative.
That the motion (Mr Swartz’s) be agreed to.
The House divided. (Mr Deputy Speaker - Mr P. E. Lucock)
Majority .. ..4
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
- Mr Deputy
Speaker,I wish to make a personal representation.
– Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, or misunderstood. Standing order 66 states:
A Member who has spoken to a question may again be heard, -
And 1 am grateful for that - to explain himself in regard to some material part of his speech which has been misquoted or misunderstood . . .
During the course of his remarks the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Graham) implied that I had attacked the integrity of the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz). I would in no way impugn the integrity or honesty of the honourable gentleman and if what I said was understood to mean that I had done so I would want it clearly understood that that was not what I said. What I said was that the way in which the Minister conducted the proceedings of the House was leading to its destruction as a representative institution and that was disgraceful. It was his incompetence, not his integrity which I attacked.
Debate resumed from 16th April 1970 (vide page 1283), on motion by Mr Swartz:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The House is resuming the debate on the second reading of this Bill which was introduced into this House on 16th April 1970, more than 2 years ago. The Government has now decided that this Bill is so urgent that it has supplanted the grievance debate which would normally have taken place this morning. Last night the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) said that this Bill was not urgent. Now it is so urgent that it is taking precedence over the grievance debate. Australia is in an intolerable situation compared with other countries in that Australia is the only nation amongst more than 100 littoral nations which has not yet clarified the issue as to the sovereignty, jurisdiction and ownership of the resources that lie off the Australian coast. As I said last night in speaking in the debate on the Australian Marine Science Institute Bill, when there are important international conferences on matters of this kind surely the most important thing is for the representatives of Australia to be able to speak at these conferences with one voice on behalf of Australia - which of course means the Commonwealth Government of Australia - in, order to give an Australian viewpoint with respect to the control and ownership of these resources.
The Opposition will not accept in any way the statement made by the Prime Minister last night that this is not an urgent matter or that it is not a matter of vital imporance. It is a matter of national importance. It is a matter of vital importance. It concerns the progressive development of Australia’s valuable resources located off the Australian coast. It is directly concerned with the mineral, oil and natural gas development around Australia. It is directly concerned with the control of fisheries. It is concerned with the control of the resources and organisms in our waters which are valuable in scientific research and thus of value to this nation. It is directly concerned with marine pollution.
In recent days we have seen an issue which is becoming more relevant and that is the problem of the boundary between Australia and New Guinea. As honourable members well know, in one place the border between Papua New Guinea and Australia is 100 miles from the coast of Australia but only 200 yeards from the coast of Papua New Guinea. Close to the coast of Papua New Guinea are islands which I assume are under the jurisdiction of the Queensland Government. The question remains as to what is to happen to the inhabitants of those islands. What is to happen to the ownership of the land itself and the seas that surround those islands in close proximity to Papua New Guinea? Surely these are items in relation to which the Commonwealth has jurisdiction to make decisions internationally and domestically. At this stage we cetainly do not want to become bad friends with Papua New Guinea on issues like this. We are becoming bad friends with Papua New Guinea if one takes into account statements being made by the Queensland Premier with respect to this boundary. This is one issue today which illustrates the need for clarification of this most important item.
The Government of the day, under the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton), accepted the responsibility to raise this issue with the States and to clarify it, if necessary, in the courts. If this had been done and this Bill had been proceeded with, of course we would not be in the position in which we are today. I do not accept the statement made by the previous Attorney-General that because the Opposition was playing politics the Bill was being delayed. It is the Government of the day which has the responsibility of making certain that legislation is enacted through the Parliament. We all know the story behind the stalling practices that have been carried on since this Bill was introduced. The right honourable member for Higgins has given notice of a contingency motion. I would have preferred him to put into the contingency motion also the words and finalised*. I understand that the motion means that debate on the Bill will resume when the next appropriation, which of course is the Budget, is made. But ‘resumed’ means what is being done here.
The debate has been resumed, and somebody on the Government side will move that the debate be adjourned. This matter has to be finalised. It should be finalised this week. It is being introduced into the Parliament again now, and surely it can be finalised; but it is obvious that the debate will be adjourned. The Opposition does not have the numbers to prevent the debate being adjourned, and the next time the Bill will be brought on again in the Parliament will be at the time of the next appropriation, which will be the Budget. I hope that the right honourable member for higgins intends the word ‘resumed’ in his contingency motion to mean ‘resumed and finalised’, which means that a vote is taken in this House, the Bill goes to the Senate and a vote is taken there.
No speaker on the Government side, except the Prime Minister last night, has said that this matter is not urgent. What puzzles me now is what attitude the present Prime Minister is taking with respect to this legislation, because from his pronouncements last night it would seem to me that he is opposed to this legislation. I find unforgivable the statements he made last night in which he denigrated the second reading speech of the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) on the ground that he did not see it. I suggest that if he had been here at that point of time the second reading speech would not have been altered in any way. A Prime Minister who always professes to be a Cabinet man, a government man, should not argue as the Prime Minister did last night. There is no question on this side of the House and I believe in the minds of many members, if not a majority of members, on the Government side that this is a vital issue of national importance. It is an issue which has to be clarified.
The Bill asserts and declares Commonwealth jurisdiction over all the resources mentioned. Violent arguments and violent opposition have been put up by the States. It is only natural that the States themselves would object to this legislation. We saw almost a comedy when the States were attempting to reject the Commonwealth’s claim and to stand over the Commonwealth when these issues were being discussed with the previous Prime Minister, the previous Attorney-General and the pre sent Minister for National Development. Some of the State Ministers behaved almost with frenzy in their attacks, underhand and public, on the Commonwealth for trying to declare that the Commonwealth has the sovereign rights over these off-shore resources. The unfortunate part is that the Government of the day agreed at that point of time, and the Government has agreed from then on, not to proceed with the Bill. I am not and never profess to be a lawyer, but one only has to read the evidence put forward by people whose judgment one can respect to come to the conclusion, as it would seem to me, that at no time did the States have sovereign rights over the off-shore resources. The best evidence I can give is a quotation from a report on a judgment by Barwick C. J. and Windeyer J. in which they express the views that the territory of the States ends at low water mark. By ‘States’ I mean the States, of the Commonwealth. The report goes on:
As colonies and as States they have never had sovereignty over off-shore waters to the 3-mile limit. The Imperial Government attained sovereignty over these waters and retained it until Australia became an independent nation state, some time at or since the Statute of Westminster of 1931. The Commonwealth, at some time following this, acquired sovereignty over these waters and still has it.
That is the opinion of those 2 learned gentlemen. I would believe that this is also the opinion and the decision of the Cabinet that was responsible for this Bill’s introduction. Surely this is the logical and the sensible conclusion that every Australian must accept. It is the Commonwealth that has clear sovereign title over the off-shore resources. This was apparently accepted by the Cabinet and by the Government parties 2 years ago. It was dealt with in the statement made by the Governor-General of Australia at the beginning of this Parliament. The Bill was introduced as a matter of some urgency by the Minister for National Development acting on behalf of the then Foreign Minister, the present Prime Minister. In his second reading speech the Minister said:
The Government’s view is that it would serve Australia’s national and international interests to have the legal position solved as soon as practicable.
To me that is the key to this whole debate. That was said 2 years ago. I do not think anybody would disagree with that. If he does he would not be disagreeing on the grounds of logic as regards Australias future development. The Minister went on:
In these circumstances, the Government feels that, without prejudice to the petroleum agreement and to the action that has been taken in pursuance of it, the constitional issue should now be decided once and for all, and without delay. Until it is so decided, the Commonwealth cannot either disclaim responsibility for what is done in off-shore areas or itself take appropriate action.
That is right. Honourable members will remember that when the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Bill was being debated in this House my colleagues the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) and the honourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti) and also the then Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) and other honourable members pointed out the dangers which will exist in that legislation until this whole area, with respect to State or Commonwealth sovereignty over the areas in question, is clarified. The part of the Minister’s second reading speech which 1 have mentioned contains strong words. They are sensible words. They are logical. This is what has upset the Opposition and some honourable members opposite most of all. The logic is there in every sense of the word, to go ahead at all possible speed to clarify this issue. Let me quote also from the statements made by the Minister for National Development and the previous Attorney-General, the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Hughes). These statements which appeared in the joint communique of the 2 Ministers were again factual as regards the logic and common sense. They said:
The Commonwealth Government is firmly of the view that it is highly desirable in Australia’s national and international interests to have the legal position as to the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth and the States in off-shore areas resolved as goon as possible.
They are solid, sound facts and we agree with them. Again they said:
Once this is resolved the Commonwealth is willing to enter into agreements for the mining of off-shore minerals other than petroleum and these agreements would be similar to the off-shore petroleum agreements.
We disagree with the particular relevance of petroleum, but this is not the issue at the present time. The issue is simply that this matter needs to be clarified so that we can proceed with legislation relating to mineral exploration and the development of those resources. Even before that official joint communique, the Minister for National Development made a public statement on 26th March 1970 in which he said:
The Government took the decision that lt should seek to settle once and for all the doubts that now exist by the introduction of Commonwealth legislation in this field.
That was over 2 years ago. He gave reasons which I believe are sound. The reasons that the previous Prime Minister, Mr Gorton, and Cabinet took into account were sound reasons from the point of view of Australia’s present and future development and were backed also by the opinions of people who must be respected. For example, the Commonwealth Government took into account a view expressed 2 years ago by the Past President of the International Court of Justice - that apart from inland waters, sovereign rights over the seabed and natural resources of the continental shelf vested exclusively in the Commonwealth from low water mark outwards. That was the decision of Sir Percy Spender. It is a decision which must be respected.
In the High Court judgment in the cass of Bonser v. La Macchia in August 1969 the 2 judges stated firm views that in respect of the sea bed the Commonwealth had consitutional rights from the low water mark. In a discussion with the States the Minister for National Development informed the States that these and other considerations had led the Government to take the action proposed. The Minister said:
The Commonwealth Government believed that resolution of the constitutional issue as to where jurisdiction in off-shore areas lay, had become a necessity in the national interests.
Surely that is correct. That is what we are debating today, whether in the national interest this legislation should be enacted. Although the politics of the situation are that the Commonwealth Government somehow has to appease the States, the Commonwealth Government should be giving positive leadership to this nation. This is a Bill of national importance. The Government has already introduced the Bill. It has had discussions with the States. I fail to see how any more discussions with the States will alter in any way the logic of the
Commonwealth Government’s Bill that is before the House today, unless the Government wishes to amend it in some way. It is the underlying logic and the national need that are important.
Soon another important convention will be held, and if this position is not resolved the Australian representatives will again go to the convention - there can be as many as 4 or 5 conventions within the parent convention - and will not be speaking with clear voices on behalf of the nation. At the United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea in Geneva in 1958 there were 4 conventions which were highly relevant to this Bill - the Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone, the Convention on the High Seas, the Convention on Fishing and Conservation of the Living Resources of the High Seas and the Convention on the Continental Shelf. When the next convention takes place, after the experience Australia has had since 1958, surely our representatives will be able to go there and speak on behalf of the Commonwealth.
The role of the Commonwealth in this Bill is not to oust the States as regards revenue from these resources. One of the principal arguments that has been used is that Big Brother - the Commonwealth - is going to go in and take most of the revenue from these areas. There are arguments for it but, of course, there are political arguments against it. What this Bill does is assert the exclusive right of the Commonwealth to make laws with respect to these resources and to police them in the best interests of the nation. We agree with that. We have seen evidence already, in the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Bill which was passed by the Parliament that there can be a compromise with respect to revenues earned and the management of these resources by the States. This is not new. In the United States of America this was also allowed with respect to some States having rights to exploit, explore and develop oil and natural gas resources off their own coastlines. But there is no question as to who has the exclusive jurisdiction. This would be a federal jurisdiction of the United States Government.
It is interesting to note what has happened in Canada in recent times. On 17th April 1970 the Secretary of State for
External Affairs, the Honourable Mitchell Sharp, introduced the legislation into the Canadian Parliament. This was of vital interest to Australia because it sets certain precedents. This legislation concerned 2 matters. Firstly, it provided for the establishment of the territorial sea of Canada at 12 miles instead of the existing limit of 3 miles. The result of the implementation of this legislation was the elimination of the existing 9-mile fishing zone. This is of great relevance to Australia which is in almost the same position. The Canadian legislation extended the territorial sea from 3 miles to 12 miles. This meant that Canada did not have to declare a fishing zone of 9 miles. Australia has a fishing zone of 12 miles, which is 9 miles out from the territorial sea of 3 miles.
Canada has progressed further and further in this field and we are still stagnant. The second amendment introduced by the Honourable Mitchell Sharp was that the Canadian Government, by Order in Council, would create exclusive Canadian fishing zones comprising areas of the sea adjacent to the coasts of Canada. This is exactly what we want. We want some clarification of the position in relation to the waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria and the Great Barrier Reef. Canada has passed legislation relating to exclusive fishing zones. If Australia had progressed only half as far as Canada has we could have asserted and declared our ownership of the Gulf of Carpentaria and the Great Barrier Reef. But as things stand at the moment we are no further advanced than we were, one might say, in 1859 when Queensland became a separate State. This is a completely intolerable situation.
The Honourable Mitchell Sharp on behalf of. the Canadian Government said:
There are a number of reasons why the Government is proposing to extend its territorial sovereignty from 3 to 12 miles. Basically, the reason is that the limited fisheries jurisdiction which Canada at present exercises over the outer 9-mile zone is no longer sufficient to protect the full range of Canada’s vital coastal interests.
The same thing applies to Australia. The Honourable Mitchell Sharp continued:
The 12-mile territorial sea would have the following advantages:
It would provide the comprehensive jurisdictional basis which Canada requires to enforce anti-pollution controls outside Arctic waters off Canada’s east and west coasts up to 12 miles from the baselines of Canada’s territorial sea, rather than merely, 3 miles as at present.
The Canadian Secretary of State for External Affairs went on to say:
Cb) It will permit Canada to expedite the conclusion of negotiations with the European countries which have been permitted to continue their fishing activities in Canada’s 9-mile fishing zone.
This is of great relevance to Australia with respect to the Japanese, the Formosans and other people who wish to fish in the. 9- mile waters outside the territorial sea and in the waters, of course, over the continental shelf. All of these matters are relevant. The third reason for the Canadian action is of great significance. The Honourable Mitchell Sharp said:
Surely these 3 reasons that prompted the Canadian Government to pass legislation to extend the, territorial seas from 3 miles to 12 miles are valid. When a comparison is made between the position of Canada and that of Australia in light of these reasons then the. Bill which is before this House is more than valid.
The other major reason for the Canadian Bill was, of course, to delineate exclusive fishing zones, particularly with respect to what are called inland waters under Commonwealth or Federal control. An analogy can be drawn between those inland waters and the waters of the Gulf of Carpentaria and the Great Barrier Reef. Therefore I have some doubts, and I will listen with great interest to the lawyers who will talk on this Bill, as to whether in fact the Bill goes far enough. It seems to me that this Bill is really a Bill of assertion or a Bill of declaration. Of course, clause 5 of the Bill is the key.I would have thought purely from a layman’s point of view that if one were to test a case in the High Court there would have to be some infringement of an Act. I cannot see that one can just say that because this Bill asserts something it can automatically be tested. I would have thought that the Bill should have made the declaration that, for example, the title to the territorial seas be vested in the Commonwealth so that automatically the Commonwealth would have the power to go ahead and make laws with respect to these resources. Because the Commonwealth had this power it would also mean that there would be some sections in the Act relating to penalties. If laws were asserted and penalties were included in the Act - for example penalties relating to royalties under the control of the particular Minister - this surely would be provocation, and that provocation would mean that the States would have to go to the High Court. I believe that the omission of provisions of this sort is a shortcoming of the Bill.
However, this does not alter the fact that the Bill is of vital, national importance. I believe that every member of the Opposition, and I hope every supporter of the Government, will completely disagree with the statement made last night by the Prime Minister that this is not an urgent Bill. As I have said, it is a Bill of national importance. I hope that this Bill is not delayed until the Budget session. I hope that it will be debated at length today and that some finality will be reached. As I have said, we can have all the discussions in the world with the States but they will not agree with this Bill.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– This Bill seeks to assert Commonwealth sovereignty over the territorial sea and the continental shelf. It does nothing else. It is an assertion of sovereignty. ‘Sovereignty’ is a word which unhappily is susceptible to a great deal of emotional stirrings. From the conception of this legislation, looking back over the last 2 years to all of the instances which have punctuated that period of time up until today, there has been an extraordinary gathering of emotions, stirrings, prejudice and resentment. I must confess that I find this puzzling. All that the Commonwealth, all that the national Parliament, is seeking to do is to assert sovereignty. It goes no further than that. Therefore it seems to me that 2 questions must be answered. The first is: Why seek to assert sovereignty; why is there the need to do that? The second question is: Is there any measure of urgency to assert this sovereignty?
I turn to the first question. If one could say with certainty that the States did have sovereignty over the territorial sea I could understand the argument of some of my colleagues who say that it is wrong to seek to take this from them. But the simple truth is that no person can say with certainty that the States do in fact have sovereignty over the territorial sea. I am not going to weary the House with any narrative of the history of this great issue. But may I just give point to the contention that I have made. This is not an old issue - old in terms of definition by our courts. When I use the term ‘our courts’ I have in mind English courts which have made decisions on this issue. Indeed, it was not until the year 1876 that an English court was called upon to determine where the boundary of the realm of England finished. Did it finish at the low water mark or did it go further out to sea? This arose out of the fact that the captain of a German ship, the ‘Franconia’ ran down another ship within 3 miles of the port of Dover and was charged with manslaughter. The issue before the court was whether the court had jurisdiction to try him for manslaughter. If the incident occurred within the realm of England, plainly it would have jurisdiction to try him. If it was within the historical purview of the Admiralty, again there would be jurisdiction well founded.
However, the matter went to issue and was heard by 13 judges in the Court of Crown Cases Reserve. They handed down a decision which, in plain language, represents the starting point of this great controversy. The Court held by a majority, albeit narrow, that the realm of England finished at the low water mark and that there was no jurisdiction to try the German captain. The case is known as R v. Keyn and the decision was that the realm of England finished at the low water mark. The point that affects our existence about that decision is this: What was the law in England in 1876 was the law in the 6 Australian colonies in 1876. Australia in its corporate national state did not exist then, and in 1876 the realm of the colonies finished at the low water mark.
In 1878’ the British Parliament passed what was known as the Territorial Waters Jurisdiction Act which, for purposes of jurisdiction alone, moved the boundary 3 miles out into the territorial sea. That Act applied to Australia. It applied to the provinces of Canada in 1878 and it applied also to the 6 Australian colonies at that time. Even though the decision in the Keyn case is not binding on Austraiian courts, in my submission it has and would have powerful persuasive influence upon Australian courts.
Sitting suspended from 12.43 to 2.15 p.m.
– Before the suspension I was dealing with the primary question whether or not the territorial sea was in fact within the limits of the States. I had adverted to the history of the territorial sea so far as our own existence is concerned; I refer there to the Australian and AngloSaxon existence. The 3-mile territorial sea limit had its origin in the writings of the 17th and 18th century jurist Binkershook who argued that 3 miles was as far as the force of arms could be asserted. The limit became known as the cannon shot rule. I have already dealt with the case in the United Kingdom where it was held that the realm of England finished at the low water mark. I had argued that if in fact that were good law and binding in Australia the boundaries of- the States, formerly the colonies, finished at low water mark.
Those persons who contend that under this Bill the Commonwealth is seeking to take something from the States carry the tremendous responsibility of showing that the territorial sea is in fact within the limits of the States. The matter was not argued at length in the convention debates and there were merely one or two distant references to the issue. Unlike Canada, Australia is unable to ask its High Court to give a decision on this matter. The High Court of Australia cannot deal with a hypothetical question; there must be an issue before the High Court can give a judgment. In passing, I observe that this is a singular limitation and if ever I were in a position to argue a case for altering our Constitution to give to the High Court power to give advisory opinions I should certainly do sp. I have no doubt that that would save a great deal of fuss such as has occurred over this matter. That is the primary question that I argue, whether or not the territorial sea is within the limits of the States.
I turn now to the second question, whether or not this matter is urgent. I excuse myself completely from agreeing with those who say there is no urgency. I shall advance argument in support of the fact that there is some measure of urgency. 1 have heard nothing to persuade me to accept the view that it is not urgent. I should like to refer to an island situated some 800 to 900 miles off the coast of Mexico and known as Clipperton Island. This island is quite barren and nobody lives there. It is under the sovereignty of France and has quite a large continental shelf. The continental shelf is the geological phenomenon of the land mass continuing out underneath the water. Throughout the world are thousands of islands each with a continental shelf. All of them, no matter how small, have a territorial sea covering the prolongation of their land mass. When the conventions on the law of the sea were drawn up in 1958, the general view was that technological progress in this field would not be rapid and therefore countries which subscribe to the conventions might exploit out to 200 metres of their continental shelf or such further distance as they might find exploitable.
Today more than 1,000 companies and corporations are associated with the construction of submersibles - submarines - to explore and exploit the resources of the world’s oceans. Oceans comprise fivesevenths of the world’s surface - fivesevenths, the major portion. The world now stands on the threshold of a completely new frontier, the exploitation of the mineral and food resources of the oceans. At the some time the world faces what I might describe as the new colonialism: Who can command the resources? Will it be the mighty and the strong? Surely it has been the experience of all of us in this Parliament that the bitterness of the 20th century lies in the fact that man has been unable to find an accommodation with his fellow man. Does any person seriously suggest that there is nothing urgent about determining who. is to control and who is to have the use of these resources? Some may ask: Are these resources of any significance? I have extracted some figures relating only to the Pacific Ocean and they give some idea of the enormous mineral resources available from the sea. It is estimated that in the Pacific Ocean there are 17 times 10 to the 11th power tons of minerals. It is said that nodules of minerals form in the Pacific Ocean at a far greate rate than the total world consumption in 1960. It has been estimated that there are approximately 360 billion tons of manganese and approximately 15 billion tons of nickel under the Pacific Ocean. These figures are astounding but I shall not continue with them.
It is essential to determine, particularly in relation to the continental shelf, who has sovereignty. Surely no person with normal cerebal processes would contend that any other body than the national Parliament should speak for this country? We are one nation and I resent the temptation, the disposition of some who want to harken back to the colonial days. The mood of this country is to establish a national character and identity and surely this is to be determined by the national Parliament. As time is against me I must truncate my speech. Last year when I was Minister for the Navy a Naval legal seminar was held. Officers who serve the Royal Australian Navy in a legal capacity, together with captains of a number of ships were set 2 problems to consider. I ask for leave of the House to have them incorporated in Hansard.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
HMAS ‘Aware’ finds the Formosan fishing trawler ‘Ping Pong’ within 12 miles, but more than 3 miles, of the Queensland coast, making 5 knots parallel to the coast. The trawler is visited and the crew are found cutting up fish and packing it in ice. ‘Aware’s’ Captain arrests Ping Pong’ and orders it to port He places on board a petty officer and an able sailor as a boarding party. The two vessels make for port Darkness falls. The boarding party is seized by the crew of ‘Ping Pong’, which then turns at speed towards the open sea. The change of course is observed on ‘Aware’s’ radar display, and ‘Aware’ alters course accordingly and interrogates ‘Ping Pong*. There is no answer. Owing to darkness it is difficult to ascertain what has happened and ‘Aware’s’ Captain delays taking action other than interrogation until ‘Ping Pong crosses the 12-mile exclusive fishery boundary. What action should ‘Aware’ take?
HMAS ‘Aware* finds the Formosan fishing trawler ‘Ping Pong’ with gear unstowed and nets wet. When first sighted on ‘Aware’s’ radar at a range of 14 miles Ting Pong’ was reckoned by Aware’s’ Captain to be 11 miles from the base of the territorial sea measured from islands and cays in the Barrier Reef by him.
When boarded, Ting Pong’s’ Captain contends he was not fishing, was at all times more than 12 miles from any land, and had been fishing more than 12 miles from any land. ‘Aware’s’ Captain decides to arrest. What evidence of Ting Pong’s’ position when sighted should be made available to the Court? In particular:
– These problems will give members some idea of the difficult field in which naval officers work. The first problem concerns an Australian patrol boat, HMAS ‘Aware’ finding a Formosan fishing trawler rejoicing under the name of ‘Ping Pong’ within 12 miles but more than 3 miles off the coast of Queensland and making 5 knots parallel to the coast. The trawler is visited and the crew is found cutting up fish. The problem poses the question: What should the captain of the patrol boat do? The problem then goes on to analyse whether he should give a warning and so forth. This is the sort of practical problem that is encountered where one has young naval officers dealing with this type of question, not every day of the week but constantly. Some may say that a Formosan fishing vessel found in these circumstances is not very important.
I recall when the Russian vessel ‘Van Gogh’ was in the Gulf of Carpentaria people said it should not be there. I can understand that. But it was on the high seas and entitled to be there. One character in Queensland with a rather robust sense of humour suggested that the local police sergeant should open fire on the ‘Van Gogh’ with a .303 rifle. This is the sort of problem that is encountered. It has its note of hilarity but it can lead to very ugly incidents. I hope, that honourable gentlemen will look at these problems. I do not say this offensively but I would welcome the response of those who argue that there is no urgency about this situation. I am tempted to say that in some instances probably they would get 3 marks for neat writing. If one makes the assumption that there is a territorial sea of 3 miles belonging to Queensland the Commonwealth purports to legislate out to 12 miles, that is, over the 9 mile belt, the problem then is for those involved in the fishing industry to know at any one time in whose waters they are. This is a practical problem. Take the case of a vessel moving out of the territorial sea alleged to belong to Queensland into Commonwealth waters and a man on board catches a fish. The bow is in Commonwealth waters and the fish is caught from the stern of the boat. Where does the fish come from, Commonwealth or State waters? These are practical problems and those in the fishing industry to whom I have spoken are baffled by them.
This is particularly the case when we are dealing with Queensland, with hundreds of islands off the coast. State waters, Commonwealth waters and State waters again. This is not good enough for the nation. Whatever difficulties may be involved in determining what money should flow from the exploitation of fishing resources or mineral resources is a matter for another day. All this Bill seeks to do is to determine the question of sovereignty and to settle the matter. At last count there were 135 nations in the world, 109 of them having some coastline of some description. Australia is the only nation which has not made up its mind on this question. I find this offensive and quite needless. I do not know why people get fussed about it. I am not in the habit of disclosing private conversations in public controversy but I hope that the Minister for Foreign Affairs will indulge me to this extent because I think his remark was a classic. He said to me on some occasion when we were discussing it: ‘You would almost think the stuff was Scotch whisky’, and that is perfectly true.
The next matter to which I want to move to illustrate what I regard it as the urgency of the problem, is that the Commonwealth has legislated in respect of fishing between the 3-mile and 12-mile limits on the basis that it is the contiguous zone to the territorial sea. I have the gravest doubts whether the legislation is valid because under the conventions to which we are a party the contiguous zone does not refer to fishing. It refers to fiscal, customs and sanitation - I forget what the other one is but I could find it in a moment - but there is no mention of fishing at all. At least Sir Gerald Fitzmaurice who for many years was the legal adviser to the British Foreign Office and now is President of the International Court of Justice takes the same view. Writing in the ‘International and Comparative Law Quarterly’ he said:
Under general international law, and despite certain recent claims and attempts, there is no warrant for the establishment by coastal states of exclusive fishery limits separated from the proper limits of territorial waters, or for the assertion of exclusive fishing rights in areas going beyond these.
What is the position? Is the Commonwealth legislation valid or not? The conference which is in view will deal with one of the most complex fields of law known to man. The paradox in it all is that for centuries the law of the sea has had a sense of regulation about it. It goes back to the old Rhodian sea law three or four centuries before Christ, the Hanseatic code and the Rules of Oleron and so forth. Today the world is on the threshold of being plunged into immense chaos. Some nations have a 3-mile limit while others have a limit of 5 miles, 6 miles, 9 miles or 12 miles. Some South American countries claim a territorial sea of 200 miles. So this question must be settled. The arbitraments of force cannot be allowed to be the determining factor in this. The question must be settled by reason and that is why I have argued all through this unfortunate and needless debate that reason must be the dominant quality to be displayed. The Commonwealth will have discussions with the States. I welcome these discussions but ultimately the decision must be one for the High Court of Australia. That is why I agreed wilh the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) that there must be some time limit put on the determination of this question. (Extension of rime granted.) If the Commonwealth and States can litigate in a friendly fashion, as was suggested by Sir Percy Spender, rather than hissing at each other and litigating at arms length, so be it. But the matter must be decided by the High Court. As a further illustration of what I would describe as the urgency of the case I take the position that Australia has got itself into regarding the Gulf of Carpentaria. Some people - I understand their concern - have suggested that we should shut off by unilateral action the whole of the Gulf of Carpentaria. As the law of the sea now stands in my view that is not possible. That does not mean to say that some time in the future it will not be shown to be practicable. But I am attracted to the view that it is possible for the Commonwealth, by using the existing conventions on the law of the sea, to shut off substantial parts of the Gulf of Carpentaria. For example, I believe that straight base lines could be drawn from the Wellesley Islands eastward to the coast of Queensland. If this is to be done it must be done by the national Parliament. Similarly I believe that on the western side straight lines can be drawn from Cape Wessel down to the Sir Edward Pellew group of islands and the area shut off could be for the exclusive fishing rights of Australia. The difficulty in it is that where the States are involved no person knows who has sovereignty with respect to taking and that is why it is urgent in my view to have the matter determined.
I earnestly press upon the Government the need to establish a law of the sea institute to deal with these problems and to study them because there is nothing settled. It is an incredibly complex field of law. It is a great pity that we in Australia have not availed ourselves of a very distinguished
Australian, Professor O’Connell of Adelaide University, with and under whom I have had the pleasure of working. Amongst other things he occupies the Chichele Chair of International Law at Oxford. He is a man of great charm and of immense capacity. He is the sort of person I would have in mind to deal with all of these problems. Unless this nation takes some initiative in the field it will see confusion worse confounded.
May I give another illustration of the confusion which has occurred? Australia has accepted the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court, pursuant to section 36 of the statute which set up the International Court. But when we signed that, we reserved certain matters. For example, we reserved that we would not accept the compulsory jurisdiction with respect to the continental shelf. We reserved matters dealing with the natural resources of the sea-bed and sub-soil of the continental shelf. We also reserved matters under the Australian Pearl Fisheries Act. But when we signed the conventions dealing with the law of the sea, we accepted the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court for all matters. With respect to the declaration of the International Court lodged in 1953, Japan, for example, has accepted that compulsory jurisdiction of the court, but Japan has not signed the optional protocol to the Geneva Convention. The Japanese, in a literal sense, have us over the barrel. This is something that has just drifted by. We have never settled the matter.
The difficulty can be apprehended more cogently with respect to New Guinea. Australia has an immense continental shelf. It is quite unbroken between the Australian coast line and New Guinea. What would happen with an independent New Guinea which did not accept, for example, any convention dealing with the law of the sea? The Internationa] Court has held that you cannot use the median line with respect to the continental shelf because it is not a customary rule of international law, but you can invoke H where there is an agreement to do so pursuant to a convention. Is it seriously to be said with respect to an independent nation that the State of Queensland should argue the case? It has no locus standi before a court. It is an exquisite absurdity, and I do not know why we tolerate it. Here is the need to determine who has sovereignty over the continental shelf for the purposes of seeking to protect a right.
The last illustration that I want to give with respect to this question of urgency is that under the 4 conventions dealing with the law of the sea and under the Bill, the Commonwealth Parliament seeks to assert sovereignty over the territorial sea and the continental shelf. But certain things are excepted from it. Clause 11 of the Bill states:
The application of this Act does not extend to or in respect of any waters of the sea that are waters of or within any bay, gulf, estuary, river. . . .
Under the convention dealing with the territorial sea you can rule off a mark in a bay. You can draw a straight base line of 24 miles across a bay and say that all waters within that are internal waters. The American Supreme Court has held that if you approbate the convention for the purposes of dealing with other nations and therefore accept this 24 miles mark you cannot in terms of the components or the elements of the federation reject it. While our High Court would in no way be bound by that, it would have immense persuasion and influence upon it. We would have the extraordinary situation of bays around the Australian coastline being ruled off. Inside the line they would be internal waters, and outside the Commonwealth would have sovereignty. Who would draw the lines? I ask honourable members to think of the immense task involved in drawing the lines. 1 come back to the point: People would inquire whether they were in the State waters or in Commonwealth waters. That is why I believe that this matter should be settled, lt can be settled amicably and should be settled pleasantly.
In my judgment there is urgency about this matter. This world has been wracked with dissension and great strains. We are now, as I have argued, on the threshhold of being threatened with a new colonialism, and the immense resources of the sea should not go to the strong; they should go to the corporate welfare of humanity. That is why I believe that this Parliament, if it seeks to assert sovereignty and to settle the matter, is contributing to that extent, to the common welfare of mankind.
– At the end of the luncheon adjournment I expressed to the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) the view that he was making matters very difficult because there was not a single thing he said with which I disagreed. I can reaffirm that statement because I think it is true that all honourable members at some time express views which are widely held in the Parliament and which ought to be expressed in the best interests of the nation. I thank the honourable member for the very expert way in which he has unravelled the legal complexities - or perhaps one should say explained the legal complexities because without doubt these complexities are yet to be unravelled.
Without any of the legal background of my predecessor in this debate, T should like to consider again some of the matters that he has raised. The legislation that we have before us was introduced into the Parliament on 16th April 1970 - over 2 years ago - as a result of a decision made by the Gorton Cabinet. The Bill was presented to this House by the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz) who made a very succinct speech on the legislation. At that time the proposal was that the Commonwealth should pass this legislation in order that the States might challenge the legislation in the High Court which alone could determine just where the legal responsibilities began and ended. Operating, as we do, in a Federation, there were of course differences of opinion, and these are difficulties that any Australian Prime Minister and any Australian national government would have to face. This was regarded as throwing an unfair burden on the States. So after some conferences with the States, the then Prime Minister indicated that the Commonwealth would pay the legal expenses pf the States. In other words, everything was being done to make it easy for this matter to go to the High Court at minimum expense to the State governments - or perhaps at even no expense to the State governments.
The reason why this legislation has waited 2 years to be debated has been the complete failure by this Government to negotiate with the States and, indeed, the in-fighting in the political parties on the Government side. All of the political par ties represented in this House reflect the characteristics of the Australian Federation. All of the major parties have their own branches in each State. These are the people who select and endorse candidates for election to parliament. I think it is fair to say that in many cases political parties are concerned more with State parliaments and State legislation than they are with the Commonwealth Parliament and Commonwealth legislation. This is a problem which any national parliament or any Prime Minister has to face.
So the position arose that the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton), not having had a great deal of experience in negotiating with the States, was unable to cope with the problem at that time, and this Government has not faced up to that problem since that time. The whole endeavour has been to defer this legislation until after the election - perhaps for ever. The Government will do anything but have a conflict with the States at a time when the stocks of Government parties have been shown to be not very high. I agree with the honourable member for Moreton about the urgency of this legislation, and support all he said about the fast changing pattern of international law and the reasons why consideration of this Bill should be concluded urgently in this place, why it should be passed by the Senate and put on the statute book in order that it might go to the High Court.
The problem of defence is involved. It has been pointed out that the continental shelf around Australia is very large - one of the largest in the world. In many parts of the world - the United States is an example - it has been found desirable to place early warning devices on the continental shelf. We all admit that there is an increasing capacity to develop the commercial resources of the continental shelf. It is obvious that this must have a military significance as well. If it is possible to develop the resources of the sea bed - the manganese nodules and the like which the honourable member for Moreton was talking about - and if it is possible to develop vehicles that can move over the seabed for commercial purposes, it also is possible to develop similar vehicles for military purposes. The Royal Australian Navy has recognised this fact and in recent times its submarine component has been restored. It now has 4 Oberon class submarines and 2 more are on order. These submarines are ideal for operating in the fairly shallow waters of the continental shelf so in one aspect of our defence it has been recognised that we have these responsibilities. But to another aspect, namely, Commonwealth law, the Government attaches no urgency at all.
The question of the maritime boundaries in the Torres Straits was raised. Unfortunately it was raised again recently in the Queensland State elections which have not yet been determined. This is not only an academic exercise, because it vitally affects good relations with the people of Papua New Guinea. I think it is fair to say that on both sides of the House there is a realisation that Papua New Guinea must be moved forward to independence as fast as is practical. It is completely unacceptable to me as a member of the national Parliament and of the Australian Labor Party that the Queensland position as recently expressed by the State Premier should be allowed to pass unchallenged in this Parliament. It is sad that an issue as sensitive as this should be dragged into the arena of party Policits by Mr Bjelke-Petersen, the Premier of Queensland. Within the last couple of weeks, when speaking to an audience in the Torres Strait, he said that he rejected any approach by the Commonwealth Government to change maritime boundaries in the Torres Straits as this was a matter for Queensland. A couple of days later, speaking at Rockhampton, he said that Queensland would not negotiate on this matter.
I feel nothing but amazement at the arrogance of this man who feels that as Premier of Queensland he can take it unto himself to say whether he will negotiate or not negotiate with the Government of Papua New Guinea. This is an issue that is much too important to be glossed over. It is an issue of great urgency, because wc are spending a lot of money in New Guinea. The skills and resources of Australian teachers and administrators are being exploited in New Guinea. There is a great deal of goodwill between the newly emergent nation and our own nation. We do not want to bequeath to that nation, on independence, a running sore which will poison and break down the goodwill that presently exists without considering the people of New Guinea. Then, of course, the people who live on the islands in Torres Strait are in doubt as to where they stand. I think there are about 400 people living in these islands which are very close to the coast of New Guinea. Whatever the decision may be, if the boundary is redrawn in that part of the world these people must retain certain rights to Australian social service payments, repatriation benefits, medical services and the like. They have been looked after by the Queensland Department of Aboriginal and Island Affairs since 1893 or thereabouts. Their rights have to be taken into account. They are Australians just as much as any of us. I repeat, this is a matter of great urgency.
Last night we were discussing the legislation involving the Great Barrier Reef and it was pointed out that in the Great Barrier Reef Queensland claims all of those islands within the maritime boundary which it proclaimed in 1879. Queensland believes it must have a 3-mile zone around all of these islands. This means that the remainder of the Barrier Reef is outside the territorial waters claimed by Queensland and its legal status is decidedly dubious. The Great Barrier Reef is one of the great assets of Australia. Most people who go there, go not to a coral island at all but to one of the continental islands in the Whitsunday Passage where they are taken out by boat or light aircraft to the outer Barrier Reef to look at the coral wonderland. The tourists say that this is great - it is a great tourist asset. Quite apart from this aspect there are all the other resources of the Great Barrier Reef as yet unknown. There are marine organisms which produce toxins, which can be exceedingly valuable for medical purposes - for the cure of diseases like cancer, for instance, for which no cure is known at present. Of course, there are very substantial sedimentary deposits not only in that area but also in other parts of the continental shelf. Control of the Great Barrier Reef is a prize of no small value. The honourable member for Moreton spoke of a Formosan vessel fishing for fish - of course ‘fish’ could well have been clams. But whatever the fish may have been the complexities of law regarding the Great Barrier Reef and adjacent islands still remain.
Another question pursued last night related to the Australian Institute of Marine Science. If Sir Garfield Barwick is right and State control ends at the low water mark, we are, in establishing this institute at or near Cape Pallerenda at Townsville, saying that we depend on the State to ensure that the water surrounding the Institute - the water which will be used for the aquaria and so forth - will be controlled with respect to pollution. The Government is happy to accept the assurances from the Queensland Government that the level of pollution will be tightly controlled, but we have an opinion from the Chief Justice that the legal boundary of Queensland ends at the low water mark. These questions should be resolved. About $8m of public money is being spent on this institute and the pollution problem is not the only problem that exists in that area. However, it is an example of a problem that exists right around the Australian coastline.
We have dealt with questions concerning fishing resources and resources of the seabed. For policing the existing law it is a fact that there are fishery patrols. Queensland has taken the view that it is the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government to carry out these fishery patrols and the Navy has had built a number of small patrol boats to undertake this work, among other things. But a problem remains. The Queensland Government has a fisheries service equipped with light patrol boats. Have those boats any power to come within Commonwealth waters? I know that there is some co-operation legislatively, but there certainly is not enough.
In speaking to the question of sources of aggregate I refer not to the Barrier Reef alone but to the whole Australian coastline. As our cities grow larger and larger, as people object to the presence of quarries in their immediate suburban areas - all of our cities have found it necessary to go further away for aggregate, granite, basalt and the like for building material, for ready mixed concrete and so forth - and as places develop around Australia it will be more economic to develop sources of aggregate on the continental shelf. It is not well known that the largest extractive industry operating on a continental shelf anywhere in the world is the sand and gravel industry of the United Kingdom. In future this could be a matter of great importance to Australia and to the buildings that we construct, the homes we build, the freeways and roads we provide and to the whole economics of our building industry. A whole range of matters indicate beyond contradiction the urgency that should be applied to this legislation. It is reasonable legislation for the way in which it treats the States. The assurance given by the previous Prime Minister has not, to my knowledge, been repudiated by his successor or any other spokesman for the Government, so presumably when this legislation goes on to the statute book the States will be assisted in any challenge to the High Court.
It is time that this Parliament faced up to its responsibilities because this legislation can be carried only by the national Parliament. The States lost their international personality - to whatever extent they ever had an international personality - at the time of Federation. If Australia is to have the benefit of control over its continental shelf and over the resources of the seabed that almost every other nation has, this is the only Government which can pass the legislation. This is the only Government which can accede to conventions in international law. If this Parliament refuses to pass the legislation, Australia’s national rights in this matter go by default.
– That is not correct.
– No doubt the Minister can repudiate this but that is my understanding and I make the point that I am not an expert in law. The States do not have an international personality and my understanding is that they cannot pass legislation which would give them control over the resources of the seabed at this point in time. Another problem is the lack of expertise in international law in the offices of the State Solicitors-General. The Stales are not used to handling problems in international law and it follows that the advisers to the State Premiers, I believe, have given them advice which would not stand up to a challenge in the High Court. I will quote from an opinion which was quoted by the Minister for National Development when he delivered the second reading speech on 16th April 1970. The Minister was quoting the words of Sir Garfield Barwick, Chief Justice of the High Court. Sir Garfield said:
I would like particular attention to be paid to the third point which reads:
That was the point I was trying to make previously. This ls very reasonable legislation. It has been pointed out that the capacity to exploit the mineral resources and other natural resources of the seabed and the sub-soil is expanding and as technology extends the Governor-General under this legislation will have power to make by proclamation such extensions of the boundary as may seem fit to the government of the day. If Sir Garfield Barwick was correct and the States control nothing below the low-water mark, are they not being treated with extraordinary generosity in this Bill which provides that the States are to be paid a royalty of 60 per cent for co-operating with the Commonwealth in developing the resources of the seabed? This is the point which was made by the Minister for National Development when he said:
If the States co-operate with us in this way in administration we propose that they shall receive 60 per cent of all royalties that may be payable to the Commonwealth, and also all administrative fees.
The States are acting as though they are having something which they now have taken away from them by a rapacious
Commonwealth when in actual fact they are, being treated with extraordinary generosity because the Commonwealth will give to them something which they have not got at this point in time.
This is sensible legislation. It is legislation which, from the point of view of Australia’s national standing and defence, should commend itself to the support of all honourable members. At the time the legislation was introduced the Labor Party was extremely happy to see that the Government was taking action in this matter, and our attitude remains as it was then. We will continue to support this Bill because any failure to place this legislation on the statute book will be an abdication of the responsibility of this national Parliament. I trust that this Bill will be supported by both sides of the Parliament, both by the Government whose Cabinet decided to introduce the legislation, whose Minister introduced the legislation 2 years ago, whose, members have so far supported it in this debate, and by the Opposition which has indicated that it will support the legislation.
– As to the substance of what my friend the honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross) said this afternoon I have no disagreement. After this Bill had dropped to the bottom of the notice paper with all the drifting aimlessness of an uncorked bottle thrown overboard from a ship into the sea it has undergone a sudden albeit temporary change of direction. It has rocketed to the top of the notice paper with such velocity as would inflict upon a deep-sea diver an acute attack of the bends. My view, for what it is worth, is that the health of this measure, which is an exercise in high national politics, will not suffer from its temporary change of place. I hope my prediction proves well-founded by events. It goes without saying that I support to the hilt the principles that this Bill embodies. I would like to record my express agreement with one of the last propositions that were put to the House by the honourable member for Brisbane. He said, as I understood him, that this Bill takes nothing from the States; it is not designed to take anything from the States. This Bill, if it is valid as an exercise of Commonwealth legislative power, takes nothing from the States that they or any one of them had beforehand. If it is invalid as an exercise of Commonwealth legislative power, ex hypothesi it takes nothing from the States. So I want to register my profound agreement with what the honourable member from Brisbane said in the concluding stages of his speech.
The progress of this Bill has been frustrated, although it has always been an exercise, as I see it, in high national politics because of a good deal of misunderstanding born of, in some cases, prejudice; in some cases obscurantism; in other cases obduracy; and in other cases a sheer unwillingness to attend to the relevant facts and to attend to a matter of great national importance. The motives of the Commonwealth were grossly and grievously misrepresented when the Bill was introduced. I do not want to go over ground that is even now somewhat bloodsoaked, although the blood has dried, because no purpose would be served in doing so. But I remind the House that the Commonwealth from the outset said that if the Bill were passed and declared by the High Court to be valid the States would not be excluded. On the contrary, they would be included on very generous terms in the administration of any legislation that would be consequential upon this Bill - for instance, an Australia wide mining code.
The Commonwealth from the outset indicated to the States that it would meet the full costs of any legal challenge in the High Court of Australia which is the supreme constitutional tribunal designed to elucidate great questions of law of such a kind as must inevitably arise in a federation for decision from time to time. You cannot have a federal policy without as a corollary of it the need to resolve great constitutional questions. The constitutional history of countries other than our own proves that as an elementary truth. This Bill is designed to resolve an unresolved question of enormous national significance. Which government, that of the Commonwealth or those of the States, has ultimate legal sovereignty with respect to Australian off-shore areas and the resources in them? If that is not a great national question and a question the resolution of which brooks no undue delay, then I have lost the meaning of words.
I think there is a measure of urgency, and I say that with all respect to those who have expressed the contrary view. I cannot agree that this is not an urgent matter. I form that judgment bearing in mind that we are less than a year away from an international conference on the law of the sea to be held under the auspices of the United Nations at which issues left unresolved by the 1958 Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Contiguous Zone will fall for consideration and hopefully for resolution. One of the great questions that will arise for consideration at that conference concerns the definition of the breadth outward from base lines drawn pursuant to the 1958 convention of the territorial sea. I ask the House: Is that an unimportant question? Is that not a question which some governmental authority in this country should be able to grapple with, untrammelled by any doubts as to the identity of the government or governments entitled to define the Australian attitude?
It has been suggested, in my view quite wrongly, that the presentation of this Bill 2 years ago in some way involved an infraction of the rules relating to conventional relationships between the Commonwealth and the States. In essence this approach has involved an assertion that the Commonwealth did not pay sufficient regard to a concept that in perhaps too many cases has become apotheosised, that is to say, nearly deified. The concept, as 1 understand it, is that if you are involved in the task of national government in a federal system you must avoid at all or nearly all costs doing anything that is likely to disturb or offend the sensibilities of other governments in the system. People are fully entitled to worship gods of their own choice, but as an article of political faith the concept to which I have referred can be at times a perfect recipe for inaction. I do not therefore worship at its alter. History teaches us that inaction, especially when it is a response to opposition based on obduracy, obscurantism or prejudice of some sort is no solvent of the problems arising in national government.
In saying all that I do not want it to be thought that I deprecate or deny the need for Commonwealth-State co-operation in many fields. Indeed, in many fields such cooperation is not only desirable but necessary. In my short time on the front bench
I did what I could to serve the cause of Commonwealth-State co-operation in some fields. I think there are today areas in which there could be more CommonwealthState co-operation, and I make a passing reference in that area to the question of taking the work load in matters of federal jurisdiction of the High Court of Australia. Is that work load to be lightened in the case of a very busy court by setting up some court like the Commonwealth Superior Court, or should we not look - and look a little more closely and with a little greater rapidity and more enthusiasm than has been evident - at the idea of vesting more federal jurisdiction in the great Supreme Courts of the States? Would that not be a useful exercise in CommonwealthState relationships? I know from my own discussions with people in the States that certain State politicians would welcome any decision at Federal governmental level that would be calculated to preserve the status of the great State Supreme Courts - something that would be done if we avoid the course of interposing a Federal court between the High Court and these State courts. That is only a matter of passing reference.
There are cases in which there is no doubt as to the existence of concurrent legislative power with respect to a particular subject matter; that is to say, power resides concurrently in both the Commonwealth and the States. In those cases there is usually, perhaps almost invariably, a strong case for Commonwealth-State consultation and co-operation. In such cases, of course, the Commonwealth power will have ultimate effect in the case of an inconsistency because of section 109 of the Constitution. But in such cases the Commonwealth, despite the fact that its concurrent power may be made to cover the field, may not wish to do so for perfectly proper reasons. The existence of concurrent power does not in all cases compel its exercise so that the Commonwealth legislative Act will operate exclusively. But the problems with which this Bill is designed to deal are not of that kind. The problem is of a more fundamental kind. Here the nation is confronted with a question as to where the relevant legislative power resides. Does it reside in the Commonwealth to the exclusion of the States? Does it reside on the other hand in the States to the exclusion of the Commonwealth? Or does it reside somehow in both authorities - State and Commonwealth? Having regard to the vastly increased and rapidly increasing importance of our off-shore areas - an importance that derives in part from advanced developments in science and technology and in part from an enlarged public awareness of and concern with the need to preserve our marine ecology and our environmental resources from pollution of various kinds - this question as to the distribution of power as between Commonwealth and States is one that simply cries out for solution.
I am in no doubt as to the proper principle to apply to the solution of the problem with which this Bill deals. This Bill is a casebook exercise of an attempt to implement a high constitutional principle, and it is a principle that does not involve any perversion of our federal system of government. It is a principle that I would define by saying that it is the prime duty of a federal government, of a federal parliament, to explore by all legitimate constitutional methods the boundaries of federal power with a view to acting within the limits established by dint of the exploratory process and with a view, of course, to acting within those limits in what both the Government and the Parliament conceive to be the national interest. Is there anything in this Bill but an attempt to implement that principle, which I regard as a great principle and a principle which in my own small way I tried during my time in office to implement? When I decided, as it happened because I was Attorney-General, on my own initiative but with support from my Prime Minister, to endeavour to explore the limits of the Commonwealth’s corporations power, that was the principle that I was trying to serve. I was trying to open up some of the darker corners of our constitutional fabric. The attempt may not have been agreeable to all manner of people but I do not repent of having made it, because it has at least contributed to an enlarged understanding of the limits of Commonwealth power.
This Bill serves the same fundamental and, I believe, great purpose. It serves a purpose - an object - that must be advanced in this Parliament and in succeeding parliaments if this federal polity in which we have the privilege of living is going to advance to the increasing greatness to which we want to see it advance. As I said, I know that these views do not command universal approbation, but that to me is nothing. I believe in them and I am glad that I was given a short time to try to implement them. After a long period of inaction - I made some reference to this before - attempts are being made to pursue consultations with the States in an attempt to overcome some of the opposition to the objects that this Bill is designed to achieve. Sir, I wish the Government success in this endeavour. It is good to know - if I may say this in a lighter vein - that the tactics originally attributed to that famous Roman general Quintus Fabius Maximus Cunctator are being discarded and I hope they remain discarded. It is high time they were discarded. While I wish the Government well in its endeavour I would be lacking in candour were I not to say 2 things: Firstly, I am sceptical as to the outcome of negotiations. I have in my mind the niggling feeling that negotiation, undertaken as it will be by, amongst others, my honourable and learned friend the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen), will not necessarily overcome some of the prejudice that exists in certain quarters.
– We shall be following the principles of that famous Roman general Marcellus.
– I am very glad to hear it. I am bound to say that my learned and honourable friend may experience problems. I hope he overcomes them. I do not want to make his path any more difficult by exposing in greater detail what I think the problems are. He knows them as well as I do. Secondly, I hope that the end result of negotiations will not be a colourless compromise. I am sure that if my honourable friend the Foreign Minister has anything to do with it, it will not be a colourless compromise. But I do not want to see a colourless compromise, as I have described it, in which a decision on sovereignty ls averted and we end up with some sort of hotch-potch mirror legislation as in the case of off-shore oil. The vice of that sort of compromise is simply this: The basic conception upon which such mirror legislation rests ignores the proper constitutional relationship between Parliament and the Executive.
It is not a good thing in terms of principle - although there was an argument in favour of making an exception to the principle in the case of the off-shore oil legislation - that 7 governments can, by agreement reached at ministerial level, effectively tie the hands of the parliaments to which those respective governments are supposed to be, and in fact ought to be, responsible. There is no doubt that there is room for consultation and co-operation between the States in relations to the administration of the off-shore areas. I am bound to say, however, that I would feel more comfortable in my mind if the negotiations were taking place against a background in which Commonwealth constitutional power, or lack of it, had been definitively established by the High Court. I support the Bill and I hope it has not too slow a passage through the Parliament.
– One could be forgiven, in listening to some of the remarks of the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Hughes), if one overlooked for the time being the relation between this Parliament and the people of Australia. The honourable member’s almost final remarks seemed to consist of asides between members of the Liberal Party as if they were almost in club. I hope he will forgive me for saying that, but that is the impression I had. He spoke about the problems that the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen), who is sitting at the table, will have. Like many honourable members present in the chamber today, I have been greatly impressed by the speeches that have come from the Government side of the House. I look around the chamber and I see that there are 3 members of the Australian Country Party here, about 10 members of the Liberal Party and 14 or so members of the Australian Labor Party. I do not make any point of that, but it is an indication of something. This Bill has great national importance, as the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) and the honourable member for Berowra have said, and yet being technical, as it is, almost of necessity it does not have great appeal for many members of this House. They are outside, working in committees or on other matters. They are not to be blamed for not being here, but the people of Australia are listening to the debate on the broadcasting system that links us with the world.
We heard the honourable member for Moreton make a magnificent speech. I have complimented him on it. In the short time that I have been here I do not think I have heard him or anyone else make a better speech in this Parliament. I have heard a number of other people say that, too. He listed, in impressive manner, the various reasons why this piece of legislation was urgent. If I counted correctly, I think he gave 6 reasons why its enactment was urgent in the national interest. This is the national Parliament. The honourable member spoke with considerable personal feeling of the growing, searching feeling among Australians for some sense of national identity, purpose or fulfilment. I think that a number of us share this feeling with him. Yet here again I fear there is a complete abdication of the role of this Parliament when it comes to having to consider a piece of legislation of this sort.
The honourable member for Berowra reiterated the urgency underlying this legislation. Nothing could be more important at this stage. Here we are calling ourselves an Australian nation and, after 72 years in existence as a Commonwealth, we are still trying to make up our minds about who owns or has jurisdiction over the immediate sea around our coast. Has it something to do with the States or is it owned by the Australian people as a whole through the national Parliament? The honourable member for Moreton spoke of his difficulty in understanding the emotionalism that has crept into the debate on this Bill. I have difficulty following it myself. I thought I was going to have a little light shone on the subject when I heard the honourable member for Berowra talk of dried blood. I thought: Hullo, here it comes. This is something that happened a long time ago - back in May 1970. It was certainly before my entrance into the Parliament. I have only read something about it. But surely before we go on we have to consider what is the reason and the problem preventing this Parliament from reaching agreement on legislation that everybody unanimously agrees is desirable. As I said last night, there would not be a man in this House who would not say that this legislation should become law. However, it is not to become law. What sort of strange quirk, odd situation or procedure have we created in the national Parliament that produces that result?
If honourable members went out into the streets of the towns and cities of Australia and said to the people: ‘Do you know what they are talking about down there in the Parliament in Canberra at the moment?’ Honourable members would not be believed if they said: ‘They are trying to make up their minds whether to pass a law that everyone says should be passed; they are talking as if there is some hidden, secret reason why the legislation cannot be passed at this stage*. That is why I come back to what the honourable member for Berowra said. He seemed to discuss this matter as though they were in club. He would have us believe that there are problems with the States, or with the Premier of Queensland. Reference already has been made today to Mr Bjelke-Petersen and his backwoodsmanlike attitude to that sort of problem. Perhaps those were the sort of problems that the honourable member had in mind. I cannot help but think that they are problems peculiar to the party system of government that has grown up and is part of our tradition. But be that as it may, surely we can do something about this. If the honourable member for Moreton is correct, and he persuaded me; if the honourable member for Berowra is correct and he persuaded me, and when the honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) speaks I am sure he will add further weight to the arguments that this legislation has to go through, why can it not go through? The honourable member for Moreton nods his head and I thank him.
Yesterday the honourable member for Berowra said: ‘Oh well, the Labor Party in opposition has reactivated the legislation; it has brought the legislation on*. It is our job to do that. We believe that this legislation should become law. Frankly I do not understand why the Government should adopt this course just because this legislation may cause some embarrassment in government ranks because there is a difference of opinion or because of something in club. Are we to act as children or are we to rise above that? Do we simply say: ‘All right, with all the feeling that the honourable members for Moreton and Berowra have displayed about the importance and urgency of this legislation are we to act like children and say that we are not going to embarrass someone?’ I am not trying to seduce honourable members opposite and ask them to come over here. There is surely a greater principle involved. If this legislation is important and urgent as both honourable members from the other side have said it is, what strange procedural parliamentary system have we created that brings about a result that legislation that everyone wants is not going to be enacted? To mv mind this is bizarre.
If we went out on the streets of the cities of this country and said: ‘Do you know that we do not know in Australia in 1972 who has legislative jurisdiction over the immediate waters off the coast of Australia, although nearly every other country with problems similar to ours and other different problems has solved those problems far better than we have and that we still cannot make up our minds’, they would laugh at us. They would say that this is what they have always thought of politicians - that they are lazy, hopeless, overpaid, underworked and this sort of thing. They would be right. Yet, having said that, they are quite wrong. Anyone who has participated in or listened to the debate today would see the sense of purpose of both speakers from the Government side. Again I say: What peculiar procedure have we created that can produce this insane result?
I do not want to go into the legal side of this. Of course, I am a lawyer and it is of credit to the legal profession that lawyers have taken up this subject. This was done by the honourable member for Moreton in a very lengthy and fine speech. But obviously wc are faced with a political problem. The nettle has to be grasped; the bullet has to bc bitten- one can use any trite expression that one likes. But here we have a piece of legislation that this Parliament wants to enact. It is a piece of legislation that people would believe was enacted years ago. They would have great difficulty in believing that we have never put this matter at rest. Surely it is time it was put at rest so that we can go on as an Australian nation and play our part in the international conferences on this subject next year and so that we can get rid of the uncertainty posed so eloquently by the honourable member for Moreton in a set of examination questions given to the captains of naval ships. I speak here of the uncertainty that surrounds the Australian coast and the problem that arose with the Van Gogh’ in the Gulf of Carpentaria. also mention the idea of drawing base lines and the conventions that were adopted in 1958. It is time. I am sorry; I should not have said that because perhaps it is embarrassing in view of a slogan that has been adopted by my Party recently. However, I repeat it. It is time that we grew up and enacted this legislation. It is time we got rid of the uncertainty in this regard.
I was attracted by the argument of the honourable member for Berowra, although I think that it was referred to in passing in an earlier speech made a year or so ago, that if this matter is to be resolved by the High Court - and I accept that it is proper that it should be resolved by the High Court - the only way to do this is to enact this legislation. We cannot seek an advisory opinion from the High Court as can our Canadian brothers. It has to be done in this way. Presumably a lot of thought went into the preparation of this Bill. No-one quibbles with it or argues about it. It poses a problem. It tenders the issue for the other side to join. The High Court will make a decision. From then on we enter into the agreements and this national Parliament will then make a decision. The Commonwealth must be able to negotiate from a position of strength. The Commonwealth would be able to make agreements such as those in regard to the administrative arrangements referred to in previous speeches. Mention has been made of royalties set at a rate of 60 per cent. If we try to carry on negotiations without having asserted sovereignty, we are standing the argument on its head. Anyone with any experience of negotiations or of trying to strike bargains will know that we will get nowhere that way. I am sure that is exactly what the honourable member for Berowra had in mind when he expressed cynicism or certainly lack of optimism about the results of trying to reach agreement with people when we have nothing to assert publicly and say: ‘Look, we are the national Parliament; this is the Commonwealth of Australia. It is right and proper that these seas should be subject to the control of the national Parliament and :he people of Australia through their representatives here’. This should not be done through a system of government that was deemed appropriate in 1900.
I come back to the problems referred to by the honourable member for Moreton - the new colonialism, the mineral wealth of the seas, the rising population of he world, the struggles and the conflicts that obviously we will have to face and resolve in our wisdom, or lack of it, in the years to come. Who is to talk for Australia? Will the Queensland Government talk for the whole of Australia? Will that State make decisions that will bind or influence Victorians? Will Queenslanders make decisions which will influence Tasmanians? That cannot be the way forward. Really what it boils down to is that it is not so much a matter of law, although the debate has been contributed to greatly by lawyers, as a matter of politics and political leadership.
– May I say at the beginning how pleased I am that this debate is taking place on this Bill of such significance to the nation. I am glad that the Parliament is now considering it. I perhaps, if I may be permitted to say so, have more of an individual interest in this Bill and in what it can do for Australia than anybody else in this Parliament, for it was the Governor-General, during the time when I was Prime Minister, who in his speech from the throne said:
My Government will introduce legislation forthwith to establish an Institute of Marine Science at Townsville. . . .
It was the view of my Government that it would serve Australia’s national and international interest to have the legal position resolved. In order that this could happen my Government would ask the Parliament to pass legislation to assert and establish what the Commonwealth conceives to be its legal rights.
That speech was given by the GovernorGeneral but it was written by me. It was written with the full authority of the Cabinet. I feel some personal responsibility for having made to the Parliament the statement of intentions of this kind. The state ment in the speech was, as has been pointed out before, borne out by the interim report of the Senate Select Committee on Off-shore Petroleum Resources which, after considerable investigation, said:
That, notwithstanding the advantages to the national interest which the legislation and its underlying conception has produced, the larger national interest is not served by leaving unresolved and uncertain the extent of State and Commonwealth authority in the territorial sea-bed and the Continental Shelf.
The report is signed by I. J. Greenwood, the present Attorney-General in the present Government. There has been a subsequent and wider Senate report and that, too, repeats the findings of the previous occasion. So, there is a strong body of opinion - there always was, and it is still continuing - that it is not in the national interest that this matter should remain unresolved and, as has been pointed out, the object of this Bill is solely to resolve that which at present is unresolved. There are good reasons for this, some of which have been advanced by speakers on both sides of this House and others which I hope to advance at a later stage.
However, I do not believe that it would be right for me not to point out that, although the Opposition now claims that this is a matter of high national politics - I agree unreservedly that it is a matter of high national politics - and although members of the Opposition say that the BiD should have been passed long ago, it is nevertheless true that by this stage this Bill would have been law, the case would have been tested in the High Court of Australia and the matter would have been resolved if the Opposition had not abandoned the concept of high national politics embodied in the Bill in order to seek some small, petty, temporary political advantage by moving a censure motion because it knew that there were 2 or 3 dissatisfied members on our side. I think that it is wrong to suggest that the responsibility for this Bill not being passed rests on the Government. That responsibility must be shared on the record by the Opposition and I think that the fact should be brought out. Indeed, as the Opposition acted then, so I think there was an attempt last night to act again in the same way. I hope that those sorts of approaches will not continue on either side of the House, because it is a matter of high national politics. Let us not play around with this matter, seeking to achieve some temporary political advantage .me way or the other by House tricks.
We have heard some of the reasons why this Bill should be passed and why it is necessary to resolve matters. I think the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) referred to the question of fisheries. This obviously is of great importance to Australia’s future and to the .preservation of the food supplies around Australia’s coast. Is this to be under the control .rf one government from low water mark to 3 miles and of another government from 3 miles out to the end of the continental shelf, or is it to be under the control of one government for 12 miles, if the width of the territorial sea were opened, and then of another government out to the limits of the continental shelf? What kind of division is to occur, unless the matter of sovereignty is resolved one way or the other?
As has been pointed out, we are approaching an international conference on this matter and fisheries is one significant matter which will be discussed. But there are others. There is the conservation of the seabed. It may well be that some company wants to mine - it could even be mining already - some dead coral reef somewhere off the coast of Queensland or Western Australia and bring the aggregate ashore. Who knows what the destruction of a reef - even a dead reef - will do to the currents that flow around in that area? It could change them. It could, therefore, throw out of balance the whole ecological structure of that area. If damage is done to an area, say, in the Great Barrier Reef, the damage is done to the whole of Australia and not just those who compose the Government of Queensland.
We are worried, as all countries are worried, by the pollution of our sea waters. That pollution comes not only from the effluent from rivers which flow into the sea but also from the dumping of oil and waste by tankers which pump overboard the oil not required. Are we to be protected against that kind of damage by attempting to get 7 different kinds of law or 7 laws from 7 different parliaments? It is sometimes suggested that we could achieve uniform law on this matter - uniform law under which prosecutions could be launched, with uniform penalties. So we could, after enormous expense of time; but how long will it remain uniform when any one of those governments can amend the law at any time and make it not uniform? If a tanker which is close to the border between New South Wales and Victoria pumps large quantities of oil into Victorian waters and the oil floats to shore and pollutes the beaches in New South Wales, what a Gilbertian situation it would be to try to discover who had the right to prosecute and who had the right to gain damages. Surely there should be one national law protecting the nation’s shores against pollution and one responsible authority which can be held responsible by the people for what it does or does not do.
Other questions also have been adverted to. Who is to decide where the boundary of the continental shelf between Australia and an independent Papua New Guinea lies? If the States’ claims that they have sovereignty over the territorial sea and the continental shelf - this is what they do claim - should turn out to be true, we would know who has the responsibility and I would hope that the people of Australia would seek to change it. However, at the moment, we do not know. If it is suggested that the Commonwealth has the right to decide that boundary, that decision could be contested until the matter was resolved one way or the other in the only way it could be - in the High Court of Australia.
I am given to understand - I cannot say whether this is completely accurate - that the Parliament of Western Australia has passed an Act proclaiming the sovereignty of Western Australia over the territorial sea and continental shelf off Western Australia. There is at this moment some discussion between Indonesia and, I understand, the Australian Government - certainly between Indonesia and a government in Australia - as to just who has the right to issue permits to drill for oil and in what areas. Will this be able to continue when one State claims that it has a sovereignty? Is this not a matter which should be resolved, if there is an unbroken continental shelf stretching between Australia and any of the contiguous countries near Australia? If we go to the international conference and the territorial sea boundaries are changed from 3 to 12 miles, from 3 to 20 miles or whatever it may be, we must know that our representatives who are at that conference are speaking for this nation with the authority of national law to back them up in what they say and that there can be no question of whether they have or have not the rights.
These are many of the reasons why this legislation should be passed and why this matter which is unresolved should be resolved. But what reasons have been advanced for not passing the legislation?
In the whole of the time since this legislation was brought down I have not heard one reason or one argument advanced which says that the national Government should not have control of the. seas around Australia. Nobody has put forward a case saying that that would be wrong or injurious. There have been no arguments that I have heard along those lines. The reason for not putting the matter on the statute book is quite clearly a desire not to disturb the susceptibilities of State governments. I do not write that desire off as being something which we should ignore altogether but that is the only argument that T have heard: Do not let us disturb the State gov.ernments on this matter. I believe that at some stage it will be necessary for this Parliament to decide whether the national interests which have been adumbrated by speakers on this side of the House and on the other side of the House are sufficiently strong to require us to take the step even if it might upset for a while some members of some State governments.
I am told that there should be negotiation. There is room for negotiation after sovereignty has been established, just as there was room for negotiation and agreement over the question of the treatment of Aboriginals after the Commonwealth received sovereign power over Aboriginals in Australia. I am told that the High Court cannot in any case pass a judgment on this matter until after the next elections. All that means to me is that it will take a long time for the High Court to reach a judgment. Whenever any legislation is passed it will take a long time for the court to reach a judgment, therefore the sooner the legislation is passed the better because it will mean the sooner we will come to that res olution to which we must ultimately come. We are told now by the Government that it needs more time, for negotiation with the States in order to try to reach agreement in part or in whole on matters put forward in this Bill. Those negotiations are going on in the Attorney-General’s group, the minerals group and ultimately, I understand, between the Prime Minister and the Premiers.
If I do take leave to doubt whether the question of sovereignty can ever be resolved by negotiation - and I do take leave to doubt that as I do not believe it can - nevertheless if the Government says it wants more time at least to narrow down the field of disagreement to the utmost point, then I believe the Government should be. given the time for which it asks. This is another reason why I am glad that this Bill has come down now, because it can be debated now. It will not be concluded now because the Government wants extra time. That extra time I think we should give to the Government but we should not permit the Bill to be shelved indefinitely. We should not permit it to go into the limbo of forgotten things. Time for negotiation of course, but a continuing interest in the Bill itself in the parliament and ultimately passing the Bill is necessary. That is the course which I would propose should be adopted. Of course, give time, to the Government for negotiation but seek to ensure that the Bill is hot completely forgotten and that in this Parliament we hear from time to time of the progress of such negotiations.
I have only this to add: There have been, as I pointed out at the beginning, 2 occasions on which this matter of high national politics was sullied by an approach which was petty, politics, an approach seeking to use dissatisfied people on this side of the House, an approach seeking and hoping that some of us who now wish this Bill to be passed, subject to time being given to the Government, could be induced to help the Labor Party in this House and to give it headlines in the newspapers. For my own part I would wish to say this: Though I attach the greatest importance to this Bill and though I attach the greatest importance to its becoming law and though I think the national interests will not be served until it does become law, yet I attach even more importance to a Liberal-Country Party coalition remaining in Government. I think the national interest will be better served by the Opposition not coming into government and that is a matter which goes not only to this Bill but to all the Bills and all the actions which a Government should take.
There is no point in seeking to try to get some small advantage which might help an Opposition come into Government because in the fields of defence of Australia and in the fields of the good government of Australia and in the fields of having a government which is not controlled by outside bodies and in the fields of having a government which is not controlled by militant left wing unions, this is the most important thing but it does not obviate the requirement that we, being a LiberalCountry Party in government, should continue in government but should also seek to serve the national interests and consider these matters as they have been put and consider this matter as it has been put, and carry it to a conclusion, subject to the Government’s having a reasonable time and being able to make reasonable arguments in return to those of us who wish this Bill to become law. The ultimate purpose of myself is to see that this LiberalCountry Party Government remains in power. A subsidiary purpose but none the less an important one is to seek to persuade it to take actions such as this which are in the national interest and which many of those in the present Government agreed were in the national interest. I hope therefore that this will happen.
The reason why this morning I moved a contingent notice of motion that in the Budget session at some stage this debate should be resumed was that this does give time - months - to the Government to carry on the negotiations which are being carried on and we will then be able to discuss the matter again in the light of those discussions with the States, and be able to have told to us what the position then is. That will prevent the matter just not being discussed at all in the Parliament for the rest of this session. What will happen when it is discussed must depend on the circumstances at that time but I believe the discussion itself is vital and I would hope that the Government itself believes that the discussion, carrying on and reporting of these negotiations is also of great significance. I commend the Bill and trust that it will in time become law.
– The right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) who has just resumed his seat made rather a fallacious point. He suggested that if this Bill were carried it would destroy the Government - if it were carried right here and now. Let me remind the House that this is a Bill for which the honourable member himself was responsible. He was Prime Minister when this Bill was introduced. The Bill is this Government’s legislation. It is on the business paper of this House, buried suitably, but it is Government legislation. Now we have a former Prime Minister trying to tell this House and the people of Australia that to pass legislation he sponsored and his Government authorised will destroy that government.
– I did not say anything of the kind.
– Nonsense and humbug - a very good reason for the right honourable gentleman no longer being in the leadership of the Government. There is an old aphorism and a true one, that in the kingdom of the blind the one-eyed man is king. At least we have a couple of Government spokesmen who support this Bill. Strangely no Government spokesmen other than the right honourable member for Higgins, the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) and the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Hughes) have been prepared to come out and support this Bill. We await with great interest the contribution that will be made by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen).
Although the 3 gentlemen I have mentioned have at least one eye open the people of Australia have both eyes open as to the reasons for this Government not wanting to proceed with this measure and to test it in the only place where it can be tested properly, the High Court of Australia. The reason is that the Government’s legal advisers have told it, and if every Crown Solicitor or Solicitor-General of every State in Australia were to speak freely and untrammelled by the directives of their Premiers and governments they would say that undoubtedly the sole sovereignty in respect of the continental shelf rests with the Government of the Commonwealth of Australia. It always did and it always will. There is more money at stake - I hate to intrude this note - in the fate of this measure than there has been in any other measure that has come before this House since Federation because with the continental shelf of H million square miles and with the north-west continental shelf, undoubtedly the greatest undeveloped treasure house of oil and natural gas in the world today, the last thing the Government wants is to upset its financial arrangements. The Government might consider that a legitimate reason but the Opposition does not and that is where we differ on matters of political ideology. The Opposition puts the interests of the people of Australia first and this is a matter involving Australia’s national heritage. It is our national heritage and it is being frittered away. If anyone considered today what is happening in the Woodside-Burmah group, which is in charge of a principality of 140,000 square miles, literally parcelling it out to the overseas oil combines, he would blush with shame, something which is beyond the capacity of most members of the Government parties.
Today there is a world crisis in hydrocarbons. The Japanese are scurrying around the landscape trying to make sure that they can get adequate supplies of oil and natural gas. The United States and the multi-national companies that spring from it today are using their best endeavours to get alternative supplies of oil and natural gas to those available to it in the Arab states in particular and, to a lesser extent, in Indonesia. That being so we have an unparalleled opportunity to get full world parity for those resources but it must be done through a national government exercising national authority through a proper national instrumentality. Let us look at the Japanese. The Japanese speak through MITI; a Labor government will speak through an appropriate authority also. It will ensure that contracts are negotiated not by puppet colonial governments but by the national authority. The contracts will be negotiated on terms of world parity and negotiated on a full basis of sovereignty. Where else could it happen but in Australia that the Attorney-General of the national Government and the SolicitorGeneral of New South Wales tiptoe like mice into court in a case that was itself a test case as to Commonwealth sovereignty and ask the court not to proceed to give a verdict as to the rights or the sovereignty of the Commonwealth and the States? I would like to quote from the judgment in the case of Bonser v. La Macchia given in the High Court of Australia and reported in the Commonwealth Law Reports. This is what was said by no less a person than the Chief Justice:
Speaking of the Commonwealth AttorneyGeneral - did not desire to argue the question as to the meaning of the expression ‘beyond territorial limits’ . . .
In that case a fisherman was being prosecuted for a breach of the Fisheries Act of New South Wales and a question arose as to whether a prosecution would lay in view of the undoubted sovereign powers of the Commonwealth. The Chief Justice continued:
Accordingly, he asked the Court not to decide where those inner limits were, nor where constitutionally they could be set.
In this attitude he was supported by the Solicitor-General of New South Wales who sought leave to intervene in the proceedings merely to agree with the submission of the Attorney-General that it was unnecessary in that case to decide the inner boundary of Australian waters to which constitutional power extended or the available inner limits fixed by proclamation. The Chief Justice went on to say that he could not do otherwise than decide this point because it was part of his function, and he did. His decision is there. Every honourable member with legal experience or qualification in the Government parties knows what is the true position. It was stated by the honourable member for Moreton, and I pay tribute to him for the contribution he made on this occasion, that the law is there, crystal clear. The law goes right back into history. The honourable member referred to the case of the Queen v. Keyn in 1 876 and the subsequent legislation of 1878. That set out the position as at the foundation of the Commonwealth. No State of Australia, and New South Wales was the first, had any authority beyond low water mark and that is still the position. There is too much at stake in the national interest and in the people’s interest.
An estimate has been made of the natural gas resources in the north-west continental shelf. The holdings of the WoodsideBurmah group have been estimated at $ 16,000m and its holdings cover only a fraction of the continental shelf. Should these resources be left to the tender mercies of the State governments? This reminds me of the incident in the Bible where the voice was the voice of Jacob but the hand was the hand of Esau. The Commonwealth Government in this matter is the puppet of the States, particularly of the Premier of Victoria, Sir Henry Bolte. There was an exchange of notes, tabled in this House, between Sir Henry Bolte and the former Prime Minister, Mr Harold Holt, in which it was agreed that certain things should be done in relation to natural gas from Bass Strait. The first and most important of those agreements was that natural gas would not be supplied to New South Wales on terms less favourable than those operating in Victoria and a notoriously high figure was fixed. That is typical of the mental limitations and the constitutional ineptitude of this Government. It has literally painted itself into a corner on this issue. Here is a government which now says that there is no urgency on this matter. I quote from the speech of the Minister for National Development (Mr Swartz), when introducing this legislation in April 1970. He said:
The Commonwealth believes that, except In respect of internal waters as they existed at federation, the States have no such rights. The legal issue is presently unresolved. The Government’s view is that it would serve Australia’s national and international interests to have the legal position resolved as soon as practicable. This will be a matter for decision by the courts.
If it was urgent then why is it not even more urgent and of crowning importance today? Of course, we may take such matters as this that flow from it: New South Wales will be saddled with double the cost of a pipeline because of State stupidity and parochialism; the parochialism of little Australians; I hope that now I am speaking to some big Australians. Because of that parochialism, the industrial and domestic consumers of New South Wales will be saddled with the cost of a pipeline which will be about 2i times the length of a pipeline from Bass Strait.
The agreement between the governments of the various States and the Commonwealth, which is embodied in the oil legislation to which reference has been made, is in itself a legal absurdity. A sovereign cannot be less than a sovereign. A king cannot agree to exercise less than his full and total powers. Yet we find incorporated in that oil legislation an agreement that the respective States and the Commonwealth will not litigate the question of their respective sovereignty. The Commonwealth cannot abdicate its powers because it is the national Government. It has complete and undoubted sovereignty in this case. If one wants this matter spelt out in more detail one will find it in the judgment in the case of Bonser v. La Macchia. I quote from page 8 of the judgment. The Chief Justice, in referring to a case in the Supreme Court of Canada and the reasons given in that case, stated:
It is quite clear historically, if one examines the descriptions of the territory placed under governorship, that the territory of the original colony of New South Wales except as to certain islands of the Pacific did not extend beyond low water mark on the eastern coastline of the Continent and of the Island of Tasmania: and that as each of the colonies of Victoria and Queensland were severed from it, the territory of those colonies by description also ended at low water mark. The same can be said of the other Australian colonies. Thus the reasons given in the Canadian Case are applicable to the circumstances of those colonies.
We have this unique situation: No less a person than the Chief Justice of Australia has said in advance what the result of this test case will be. I know that he has other colleagues on the Bench, but I have not the slightest doubt that their verdict will be the same. Mr Justice Windeyer has already stated the same, and Sir Percy Spender, the former President of the International Court of Justice, also has said the same. I think that the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen) was at the legal discussion in Sydney some years ago when this matter was quite openly debated. There is not the slightest doubt as to where sovereignty resides. Equally, there is not the slightest doubt that this Government does not want to proceed with the legislation. For purposes of a safety valve, the Government has permitted discussion on this legislation today, and then it hopes to turn off the valve and bury the legislation quietly until after the forthcoming election, and beyond. No Government supporters could say that the
Government will get agreement from the States on this matter. It is impossible to achieve agreement because, as I said previously, the legal advisers of every State in Australia have already told their Premiers what the true position is. As the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Hughes) said, it is a matter of obfuscation. Those who do not want to see are very hard make see and to convince.
Let us take the dangers that flow from the present situation. We have the individual States of Australia negotiating overseas as though they were sovereign nations. Is this Government prepared to accept that situation? Let us take the recent case when the Premier of Western Australia went to Japan, entered into certain arrangements, returned home and publicised those arrangements. It has been necessary for the Commonwealth Government openly to intervene in respect of the former Government of Western Australia and to say quite openly that the prices at which that Government agreed to sell Iron ore were too low. Equally it was necessary for the former Deputy Prime Minister to intervene in the case of the sale of wood chips because the prices were too low. What is the alternative to this Bill being passed and the question being tested in the High Court? It will not need much testing, either. It will be confirmed, and confirmed very quickly.
Of course, the Government has its arrangements and it has it supporters who spring to attention when the whip is cracked. We face a position that is becoming a major national scandal, where an allegedly responsible government is not prepared to act and to follow up a Bill which it has introduced. Two years ago the Government said that the Bill was of vital importance and that the matter should be legally determined. The longer the Government leaves this matter the more allegations will be made as to the true, hidden and disreputable reasons why this Government has failed to implement the legislation.
– I believe that the speeches made in this debate have highlighted the issues of national policy which are raised in this Bill. I think all honourable members will agree that the speeches have been pitched at a high level. I would like to assure those who have spoken in this debate that what they have said today will be given the most careful attention by the Government. I hope, too, that what has been said here today will be read and given the most careful attention by those in the State governments who have responsibility in this field. The issue which this Bill raises is whether sovereignty in respect of the territorial sea, the air space above that sea, and the bed and the subsoil of the territorial sea, resides in the Commonwealth or in the respective States. I believe that all honourable members would agree that this issue is of great constitutional and national significance. It is a question of great significance to the Commonwealth Parliament, but it is also, of course, a question of great significance for each of the State governments of Australia. The question raised here today is not whether it is desirable that the issue should be resolved - I think that at least we, in this House, would find general agreement on that question - but rather the manner in which this issue should be resolved.
Since this Bill was introduced in April 1970 a number of events has occurred. I should like to mention two. Firstly, the Senate Select Committee on Off-Shore Petroleum Resources has made a lengthy report on the off-shore petroleum legislation. In this report it has canvassed the question of sovereignty over the territorial sea and raised various policy issues as to that particular question. The second thing which has occurred is that arrangements have been put in train for the holding of an international conference on the law of the sea in 1973. This conference will deal with the breadth of the territorial sea. There is no common agreement amongst the nations at the present time as to the width of the territorial sea; some claim 3 miles, some 12 miles, and some 200 miles. The probability, on present indications, is that they will decide on a width of 12 miles. At present Australia claims a 3-mile territorial sea. This has placed additional importance on this question because in Australia we would not wish to have one jurisdiction out to the 3-mile limit and another set of laws for a ship that sailed beyond the 3-mile limit, in the intervening 9 miles out to the 12-mile limit. Not only those in the Commonwealth Parliament concerned with this matter, but also those in the State parliaments concerned with it are conscious of the problems and the concentration of the problems raised by this impending international conference. The extension of the territorial sea from 3 miles to 12 miles lends greater importance to the question of what government may be responsible, for example, for undertaking to cure oil spillage. What government is responsible for bearing the burden of cost, if it is not recovered from private individuals, of repairing pollution damage - oil spillage or other pollution - in this greatly extended territorial sea?
In addition, this international conference will deal with the question of the extent of the continental shelf and the extent of the fisheries jurisdiction. Already there have been several international meetings in preparation for the conference. The last preparatory committee concluded its deliberations on 31st March this year. The next preparatory committee meeting is to commence on 10th July and to extend into August. At these preparatory meetings the Commonwealth has been represented, I believe, by a strong delegation on each occasion and it has taken an active part in canvassing the various possibilities which might receive sufficient general assent amongst the international community to have the chance of being embodied in a convention, which would obtain general assent. Because the next preparatory meeting is listed for 10th July the question arises of consulting with the States before this date. This, of course, is before the next Budget sitting. When this international conference was suggested, the Premiers of the States wrote to the Commonwealth Parliament expressing their interest in being consulted on the decisions which would be taken at this conference. In response to this, the Commonwealth Parliament has adopted the attitude that there is only one government that can represent Australia among the nations of the world, that is the Commonwealth Government. However, we have put it to the States that in formulating proposals to present on behalf of this single nation in the councils of the world on the law of the sea we would, nevertheless, be prepared to consult with them beforehand and listen to their views.
On receipt of the report of the Senate Committee the Prime Minister, on 8th
March, wrote to the State Premiers forwarding them a copy of the Senate Committee’s report and suggesting that the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General should consider it at its next meeting, which has been done, and that the Australian Minerals Council, which comprises the Commonwealth Minister for National Development and the various State Ministers for Mines, should consider it at its next meeting which, 1 think, is planned for about 31st May. When the AttorneysGeneral considered this matter, including the question of the territorial sea, they decided that it should be put under study by officers from the States and the Commonwealth. The time set for that meeting of officers is 19th and 20th June.
Regarding the width of the territorial sea and related matters, which include the matters covered by this Bill, the Prime Minister Wrote to the Premiers, also on 8th March, a separate letter offering this type of consultation with them before the Commonwealth put the national views on which I have already spoken. In that letter he said, in effect, that when he received the report of our delegation to the last preparatory committee, which concluded on 31st March, he would forward a copy of it to the Premiers so that they could study what had happened at the preparatory committee meeting. He said he would hope that they would then agree to an early meeting of State and Commonwealth officers to be followed, at the soonest convenient time, by a meeting of State and Commonwealth ministerial representatives. What has occurred is that the delegation has returned and submitted its report. Copies of the report have been sent to the Premiers under a covering letter of 3rd May from the Prime Minister requesting them to agree to this early meeting of officials to be followed by a ministerial meeting. Present indications are that this will be combined with the meeting already arranged for 19th and 20th June - a time said to be convenient for State legal officers. Although certain of the States have indicated agreement to this procedure a ministerial meeting after that time still has to be arranged.
In the light of this it is, I suggest, only sensible and wise that we should not bring this Bill to a vote now. I do not resist the suggestion that in the light of what happens in our consultations with the States we should again consider this matter during the life of this Parliament to see whether, according to the reactions of the States, any further action should be taken by this Parliament. Without canvassing all the individual matters that have been raised by honourable members in speaking to this subject, may I mention one or two of them? In the speeches of several honourable members has been a suggestion, or a kind of implication, that in some way the Commonwealth has been seriously embarrassed internationally in not having this matter resolved.
– We are the only country which has not resolved it, so we should be embarrassed.
– We are not the only country which has not resolved it. However, I do not think I should bother with that proposition. I point out that every federation which attends an international conference always has the problem - whether it is dealing with laws concerning discrimination on the ground of race, whether it is dealing with an International Labour Organisation Convention, or some other matter - that when it gets home the States will have to implement part of what it has agreed to. It does not have the whole legislative competence in the field in which it is negotiating internationally. Everyone who has represented Australia at an international conference understands this. No-one who has attended an international conference on behalf of Australia has felt unduly limited by that fact. I do not say it has no effect or limitation on what he does. Of course it does, if he knows that the States are not agreeable to something that he wants to propose and which would require their agreement to implement. It has that residual effect on his attitude, but it does not mean that he does not have full powers as a plenipotentiary dealing on behalf of the Australian nation to enter into conventions at the international level. If this suggestion is being made, I want to clear it away. So generally is this recognised that many federations attending international conferences seek the inclusion of what is known as the federal clause in international conventions. This clause contains stipulations about the coming into force of such conventions, in their case dependent upon the action of provinces or states within their own territories. The international community is not particularly keen on inserting the federal clause in international conventions, but it is in some conventions, particularly in some of the ILO conventions. It does not inhibit a nation from negotiating a convention. It has not, in fact, inhibited the Australian delegation of preparatory conferences for the 1973 international conference.
Another, perhaps smaller, matter was the suggestion yesterday that perhaps offshore oil leases were of doubtful validity. I will not spend much time on this except to say that it is unwise to throw doubt on titles, particularly if that doubt is not justified. The titles are, of course, valid and sound, but they are so because the States and the Commonwealth have combined to place behind them their power in concert. I just place that on record so that there will not be any difficulty with regard to the suggestion which was raised yesterday.
I turn to the negotiations with the States, this Bill may not be the only mode of determining this question. It will probably be necessary to move some amendment to this Bill if it is decided to approach this problem in this way. Clause 11, in particular, comes to mind as one clause that would need to be looked at in the light of the Louisiana case in 1969 in the United States. In discussions between the Commonwealth and the States in regard to what action may be taken the States will at least have an opportunity of first consulting us and there will be an opportunity for discussion about modality. The Government thinks that is the proper way to proceed and it proposes to follow that course. At the end of the day and before this Parliament rises we shall come back here with the results of those negotiations.
In closing I can only repeat what the Prime Minister said yesterday, that the discussions have been initiated on a ministerial basis and on a Prime Minister to Premier basis; they are being pushed ahead as quickly as we can do so and this is being done in an endeavour to bring them to finality as quickly as possible.
Motion (by Dr Solomon) put:
That the debate be now adjourned.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. Sir William Aston)
Majority .. ..7
Question so resolvedinthe affirmative.
– Order! The question now is that the resumption of the debate be made an order of the day for the next sitting.
– I move:
Omit ‘the next sitting’, insert ‘a later hour this day’.
Every speaker who has participated in this debate today, the first debate on this Bill - a Bill which is of national importance - since it was introduced more than 2 years ago, stressed the national significance of the Bill and the national urgency of the Bill. Every member on the Government side who took part in the debate, particularly the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen), the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Hughes) and the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) gave their reasons for the urgency of this Bill. Those 3 members on the Government side in particular reiterated time and time again the national significance and urgency of this Bill. They gave reason after reason for its urgency. They dealt with the aspects of fishing, marine pollution, the problem of the boundaries between Australia and Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, the problem of international law and the problem of Australia speaking with one voice at the next international conference on the law of the sea. They gave reason after reason why this Bill must be proceeded with. The only argument that has been put up for further delaying this Bill is that it would give the Commonwealth time to negotiate with the States. The Government has had 2 years to negotiate with the States. It is obvious that a matter of great urgency exists.
The honourable member for Berowra stated in clear terms that the Commonwealth is not taking anything from the States at all. It is simply declaring its sovereignty over the resources off the coast of Australia, nothing more than that. What is there to negotiate with the States? I am in agreement with what the honourable member for Berowra says. I am now beginning to worry, in view of what the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen) said, whether there is to be a compromise by way of an amendment which will’ give us legislation along the lines of the infamous mirror petroleum legislation. This must be opposed. The honourable member for Berowra made it abundantly clear that this type of legislation is not sound legislation.
There are salient reasons why this Bill should be proceeded with. There is no reason why this Bill should not be debated and passed today. It is sheer humbug to say that the Commonwealth is to negotiate with the States, because what is there to negotiate with the States? The States will simply be allowed to put forward a political point of view in an attempt to achieve a compromise as they did with the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act. The Foreign Minister has said that only one government can competently put forward Australia’s case at the next international conference on the law of the sea, and that is the Government of Australia.
A wrong concept has emerged in the debate. There seems to be a feeling amongst some members on the Government side that if this Bill is supported and the Opposition’s arguments are supported this will bring down the Government. Nothing of the sort. We are simply supporting the Bill that the Government itself introduced into the Parliament. We are simply supporting the arguments which every speaker put up today in support of the Bill’s urgency. What we are saying to the Government ls: Let us stop the nonsense, the stalling and humbug and get this important and national Bill through this Parliament today.
-Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment. I support the proposal that the debate on this matter should be made an order of the day for later this day. Today has seen the first debate on this Bill, which has been on the notice paper since April 1970 and which was promised in the Governor-General’s speech in March 1970 outlining the Government’s legislative programme for the life of this Parliament. The debate today has been a singularly well considered and well conducted one. I do not recall a debate of such moment and controversy which has been conducted with such credit to both sides of the Parliament. Every speaker on this Bill has been in favour of it.
– Everyone has said that it is of national significance.
– The honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen), the honourable member for Berowra (Mr Hughes) and the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) have all said that they support it, and they also said that they support it as a matter of urgent national and international importance. The Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr N. H. Bowen), who interjects, did not oppose any of the principles in the Bill, and may I say myself parenthetically that I am glad he did not, because I hope that in circumstances which are widely canvassed he will not be precluded from sitting in judgment on this Bill in another place. He has very properly abstained from expressing a view on any aspect of the Bill other than a purely procedural aspect. In these circumstances it is surely reasonable to expect that the debate should conclude. It has been said that we have been reassured that negotiations with the States are proceeding. It is expected that they may come to some conclusion before this Parliament concludes. It is 2 years since this Bill was first shelved. In those 2 years none of the States have moved to assert their rights. None of them have introduced legislation.
– What about the Labor Government in Western Australia?
– I had overlooked that. What is the honourable member’s ground for saying that it asserted its right?
– The Western Australian Government has passed legislation asserting control over the continental shelf in the north west.
– I must confess that I had overlooked that. Let us assume that one State has done it. The fact is that ons would expect that the continental shelf belonged to all Australians and one cannot contemplate with any equanimity a situation in which sovereignty over the continental shelf adjacent to one State is asserted by that State when it has not been asserted by other States over the continental shelf adjacent to those States or by the Commonwealth in relation to areas adjacent to the Territories and when the Commonwealth makes no assertion for controlling areas off the coasts of the State. Even if what the honourable gentleman says is accurate - I am in no position to challenge it or endorse it - it still would leave the whole position unsatisfactory, because certainly the same law should apply to Australian resources everywhere where there are such Australian resources.
I hope honourable members will pardon me for reminding them of my own long standing interest in this matter. It would certainly be over 15 years since I first ventilated in this chamber the difficulty in Bass Strait in respect of fisheries and the absurd situation in which fishermen in Bass Strait did not know whether it was legal for them to catch fish of a certain size in certain periods, and of course it was impossible to police any of the competing legislation - South Australian, Tasmanian, Victorian, New South Wales and Commonwealth. Again, for over 6 years I ventilated in the House the position of the Torres Strait - the old colonial boundary, dating from the 1880s, between Queensland and Papua. There have been a very great number of other occasions - a great number of Bills - on which I ventilated the general situation of the Gulf of Carpentaria, St Vincent Gulf, Spencer Gulf, Shoal Bay and the like. This is a matter which comes before this parliament quite regularly.
In the 2 years since this Bill was shelved the States have not conferred on asserting their rights or approaching the Commonwealth. If it is now suggested that there should be some mirror legislation as there was in the case of the off-shore petroleum resources, this will certainly not satisfy the members of my Party who are in government in 3 States and likely to be in government in the Commonwealth. That was not a satisfactory solution according to the all party Senate Committee on Offshore Petroleum Resources. There was no division between the Liberal Party, the Australian Country Party, the Australian Labor Party and the Democratic Labor Party on this matter in that Senate Committee. A very great number of people served on that Committee during its 4 years of existence. There were 4 different successive chairmen. We are being asked to say that during the next 6 months that this Parliament may last the States will suddenly be galvanised into activity and fired with patriotic unanimity. Of course, it will not happen. We are just being fobbed off.
During the debate today there were references by the honourable member for Moreton, the honourable member for Berowra and the right honourable member for Higgins to the politics of this matter. I do not believe that the public will suddenly believe that the Liberal Party is one happy family on the question of the territorial sea or the continental shelf, if this Bill is further shelved. But the difference, I apprehend, is not so much within the Liberal Party in this Parliament as between the Liberal Party in this Parliament and the Liberal Party in the various State parliaments. There is a division on this issue. There are some issues from time to time - there might have been in the past on this matter itself - between the Labor Party in this Parliament and some of the State parliaments. But it is a matter of notoriety; it is not a matter of exquisite anguish that there should be a difference of opinion between political parties in the Federal Parliament and in the State parliaments. In a federal system it happens quite often. Everybody knows that it has happened in this case in the Liberal Party.
I do not believe that it is in the national interest that certain Premiers - some of them resigning from public life before the year is out - should exercise a veto over their colleagues in this Parliament. There have been debates in this Parliament on this subject. My colleague the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) and I have instituted such debates. There has never been an occasion in the life of this Parliament or in the previous parliaments in which we have served where the honourable member for Dawson or I have ever expressed a view or an inclination against the intentions of this Bill. On these matters we have long been the Labor Party’s spokesmen. We have consistently supported the principle of this Bill. We believe it is urgent in the national and in the international interests of Australia that this Bill be enacted.
Whereas honourable members on the Government side who have spoken in support of the Bill have referred to the fact that they might have been embarrassed by my colleague and I bringing this matter up over the last 2 years, they have never been able to quote any suggestion by us that this
Bill was not desirable and urgent; that in any way we questioned its intentions; that we would in any way promote or, insofar as it lay in our power, tolerate any challenge to the principles of this Bill.
– It would be a new way for a government to fall.
– I am coming to that. Honourable members on the other side believe so passionately in this matter that we have been able to learn the course of debate in the Government parties - not from the Press but from the Press statement of the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) 7 weeks ago and from the Press statement of the Leader of the House (Mr Swartz) yesterday. That is how intensely they have felt about it. Let me reassure them that by voting for this Bill they will not bring down their Government. How can it be said that a government can be defeated if its legislation is passed? The Governor-General outlined the Government’s legislative programme on 3rd March 1970. This legislation was detailed at some length in the Governor-General’s speech from the Throne. On no subsequent occasion has the Government - the 2 Prime Ministers in that time, the 3 Foreign Ministers in that time, the 3 or 4 AttorneysGeneral in that time - ever suggested that the Government was reversing its principles on this matter or that it was abandoning the Bill. The Minister has always suggested: The Bill is still there. I am going to consult my colleagues. I am going to consult my party. Then we will decide what we will do about it.
Finally we come to this miserable subterfuge, that it is generally felt that the matter is not urgent - this matter which, in April 1970, had to be brought on as soon as practicable; this matter which, in April 1970, had to be settled as soon as possible; this matter which, in April 1970, was of urgent importance nationally and internationally to our country. Now it is ‘generally felt’ in the Government parties that it is not an urgent matter. Of course, we on this side of the House would like to defeat the Government. We would like to have an election. The people want an election as soon as possible, too. But we could not, with the best or the worst will in the world, produce an election by carrying this Bill. The present Governor-General is interested in and acquainted with such matters. He could never be convinced that a government had to hand in the seals of office because this Bill was enacted. It just does not persuade anybody in the public - I do not think anybody in this House should be persuaded by the argument - that by passing this Bill today, as the great majority of honourable members wish to do, the Government would be defeated. It is the Government’s own Bill. The GovernorGeneral forecast it. It was brought in on behalf of the Minister for External Affairs in April 1970. Ever since, it has been on the notice paper, in the name of 3 Foreign Ministers. It is Government business. It is one of the earliest pieces of Government business in this Parliament.
Let us put the Government out of its misery on this. Let us grasp the nettle. Let us pass this Government Bill. Our party has always supported it. Our party in the States would not challenge this Act. Let us, Mr Speaker, have a vote on it today, as the Government promised in its first batch of its legislation in this Parliament, and let members of the Government parties be reassured that a government cannot be defeated by passing a government Bill even if it is 2 years old.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– At this last moment and after the vote has been taken on the motion for the adjournment of the debate on the Territorial Sea and Continental Shelf Bill we find that the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) have tried to re-open the matter again. However, the Australian Labor Party suffered a resounding defeat on the motion that the debate be adjourned. I can understand the chagrin of the Leader of the Opposition at the failure of this very obvious political exercise in which he has been engaged with his contingency motion. This whole exercise had its origin in a cheap political ploy which was an attempt to drive a wedge into the Government parties. I do not say that it is improper for an opposition party to do this. However, I do not think there is an honourable member in this House who does not see that this was the intention of the Opposition. What has been shown, and shown most clearly, in this debate is that there is solid unity in the Government parties. The defections-
– You are speaking to a full public gallery.
– You were beaten by 7 votes, although 1 think that the Government’s normal majority is 6 votes. This is one of the most resounding defeats that I have seen you suffer. J, can wait until Opposition members cease interjecting. I think it is a good thing that the galleries are full during school holidays. People can come and see the way in which the Labor Party behaves in this Parliament. Let us just watch the way in which members of that Party behave. As I said the other day, that Party is like the Belles of St Trinians
I recall the words of the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) in this debate when he was measuring the national importance of this question. We are all agreed that it is of national importance. To that extent the Leader of the Opposition made one correct statement in his speech. However, I recall also the right honourable member for Higgins saying that he regarded it as of paramount national importance that the Opposition should not by any means obtain the reins of government, that he would regard that as a disaster for Australia. The Opposition is controlled by an outside body that is not elected by the people of Australia; it is a body that has a policy of socialism; a body dominated-
– I rise to a point of order. If anyone on this side of the House engages in political propaganda when speaking to a procedural motion they are very promptly brought to order. I suggest that the discussions by the Minister on what he considers to be the structure of the Labor Party are not relevant to this debate.
-Order! I would remind the Minister for Foreign Affairs that the question before the House is that the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the question. However, I would say that I allowed the Leader of the Opposition to traverse ground outside the motion before the House. Indeed, he even referred to elections and other matters. Nevertheless, I would remind the Minister for Foreign Affairs that the point of order, if strictly interpreted, would be upheld.
-I bow to your ruling, Sir. I comment only that the Leader of the Opposition was saying what honourable members on this side of the House had said and he said that it was all one way. I was reminding him of some of the reasons which had been given by the right honourable member for Higgins on this side of the House in regard to whether the debate on this Bill should be adjourned. The Oposition is using this kind of procedural issue - we are getting familiar with it from day to day - to avoid the main and paramount issues of the day such as industrial relations, the immigration policy - (Quorum formed). We saw this morning a similar waste of time on a procedural motion. In this case the vote has already been taken, but all the arguments are being repeated on another procedural motion for the purpose of wasting time. I want to draw the attention of the House and of the people of Australia to the fact that it has been announced publicly that it is hoped that the House will rise for the winter recess on Thursday, 25th May. As was mentioned this morning, a substantial number of members from the Opposition side will be attending a conference of socialists in Singapore. They will be leaving for that conference on Friday, 26th May. What is happening in regard to these procedural motions? I want honourable members to bear in mind next week when there is a rush of legislation, that there has been ample time to put through all the legislation in an orderly fashion without having to sit late. This would have been the case if there had not been the waste of time this morning and this afternoon by way of these kind of nonsensical procedural motions. If we have to apply the gag later to get legislation through next week let members of the Opposition bear the responsibility because that is what they are leading up to and they are leading up to this situation deliberately. I ask honourable members to bear this in mind and just add these 2 things together if we do not have enough time to deal with legislation next week.
– As the Leader of the Opposition-
Motion (by Mr Chipp) put:
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. Sir William Aston)
Majority . . . . 7
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order. The AttorneyGeneral did not gag the Bill.
– Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. I think the Prime Minister is holding onto the honourable member for Moreton.
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order. There have been too many frivolous points of order coming into this House in recent times, on many occasions wasting the time of the House. I think it is time that the Standing Orders Committee looked thoroughly at the question of points of order. It might be a good idea to take some cognisance of the standing orders of the New South Wales Parliament which provide that when a member takes a point of order he shall refer the Speaker to the standing order under which he is taking the point. We might save much valuable time in that way.
– Mr Speaker, I raise a further point of order.
-Order! Before the honourable meber states his point of order, I point out to the House that if frivolous points of order continue to be taken I will deal with the honourable member taking the point.
– This is serious, Mr Speaker. Will you also follow the New South Wales practice in regard to salaries and pensions?
-I am sorry, but that is beyond my jurisdiction.
– On a point of order, Mr Speaker-
-Order! The honourable member will complete his tally and remain behind the Chair until such time as it is completed.
Question so resolved in the affirmative. .
That the words proposed to be emitted (Dr
Patterson’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. Sir William Aston)
Majority . . . . 7
– I move:
Customs Tariff Proposals No. 7 (1972).
The Customs Tariff Proposals which I have just tabled relate to proposed amendments to the Customs Tariff 1966-1972. The changes arise from reports by the Special Advisory Authority on:
Continuous filament raw yarns of polyamide or polyester; and
Resins of the propylene type.
In his report on continuous filament raw yarns of polyamide or polyester, the Special Advisory Authority found that urgent action should be taken to protect the local industry against imports of raw yarn containing 50 per cent or more of polyamide and/or polyester fibres. He recommended a temporary duty of 45c per pound on imports of these yarns from all sources. The temporary duty is in addition to existing duties of 20 per cent general tariff, 10 per cent preferential tariff on these goods. The Special Advisory Authority also recommended special by-law arrangements to enable individual quotas of continuous filament polyamide and polyester yarns to be imported without attracting the temporary additional duty. Quotas will be based on a percentage of imports of polyamide or polyester yarn during the year ended 30th June 1971 and by-law determinations issued as may be appropriate.
In his report on resins of the propylene type, the Special Advisory Authority found that urgent action is necessary to protect the Australian industry against low priced imports. He recommended that a temporary support value of $512 per tonne be determined for natural resin and $566 per tonne for other polymers and copolymers. For the information of the House let me say that I am informed that a tonne is equal to 1,000 kilogrammes or 2,205 lb avoirdupois. A temporary support duty of 90 per cent of the support value differential, that is, the amount, if any, by which the landed duty paid cost of the goods falls below the temporary support value, will operate. The temporary support duty is in addition to normal duties of 40 per cent general tariff and 30 per cent preferential tariff, which remain unchanged. An administrative change is also included in the proposals in respect to speedometers and tachometers for use as original components in the manufacture of motor vehicles. A summary of the changes and duty rates is being circulated to honourable members. I commend the proposals.
Debate (on motion by Dr J. F. Cairns) adjourned.
Reports on Items
– Pursuant to statute I present the reports of the Special Advisory Authority on:
Continuous filament raw yams of polyamide or polyester; and Resins of the propylene type.
Ordered that the reports be printed.
– by leave - On 11th April 1972 I announced that the Government had decided to institute a full-scale public inquiry into the overall operation of the taxation system. A high level Committee of Inquiry will be appointed to conduct the inquiry. In my statement of 11th April I said that the inquiry would have broad terms of reference and it would be expected to hear evidence on and conduct studies and investigations into the overall operation of the taxation system. The inquiry would, I said, permit a thorough public examination into the taxation system and put the Government in a position to have an overall look at tax policy. In conformity with those aims the Government has drawn up the following terms of reference for the inquiry:
The functions of the Committee of Inquiry are -
The Committee of Inquiry shall in carrying out its functions, do so in the light of the need to ensure a flow of revenue sufficient to meet the revenue requirements of the Commonwealth and have regard to -
For the purposes of these terms of reference, the present Commonwealth taxation system shall be taken to be the system under which the Commonwealth raises revenue by means of the following forms of taxation: income tax; sales tax; estate duty; gift duty; duties of excise imposed for the purpose of raising general revenue, and duties of customs that correspond with duties of excise so imposed.
Consideration is being given to the membership of the Committee of Inquiry. A further announcement will be made when the members have been appointed.
– In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1969, I present the report relating to the following proposed work:
Ward and Paramedical Building at Repatriation General Hospital, Hobart, Tasmania.
Ordered that the report be printed.
Debate resumed from 10 May (vide page 2312), on motion by Sir Alan Hulme:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I move:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: while not opposing the Bill the House is of the opinion that the Bill should ban all cigarette and tobacco advertising by commercial broadcasting and television stations and the Commonwealth should undertake a vigorous advertising campaign through broadcasting and television to educate the public, especially young people, on the serious health hazards associated with cigarettes and tobacco’.
If the opportunity were available to the Opposition it would move an even more embracing amendment than that. However, the wording of this Bill, given the requirements and restrictions of the Standing Orders controlling conduct in this House, limits the Opposition to the area it has tried to cover in this amendment. The Opposition is committed to utilising to the maximum extent possible Commonwealth powers to prohibit advertising of cigarette and tobacco products in all forms. To this extent it would use all those sorts of powers which might be available to it, whether they exist exclusively In Commonwealth territories, apart from the Commonwealth’s power under the Broadcasting and Television Act, or whether they exist in the Commonwealth’s power in the territories to regulate things such as newspapers. Possibly where it may be practicable and legal to bring in prohibitions in relation to the transmission of, for example, newspapers through the mail the Opposition would also act. It would certainly have a careful look at the taxation laws of the country which enable advertising costs to be written off as a cost to the operations of business interests to the extent where something like 50c in every $1 spent on advertising is being subsidised by the taxpayer. The Opposition would also undertake an extensive, and, I would hope, a sensible education programme concurrently with the prohibition of advertising of this broad nature I have mentioned. The policy of the Australian Labor Party is clear and I quote it for the record. The ALP ‘Platform, Constitution and Rules’ states:
Prohibition of cigarette and tobacco advertising in all forms coupled with a vigorous campaign to educate the public, especially young people, on the serious hearth hazards associated with cigarettes and tobacco.
There is little dispute outside of interest groups in the community that smoking can be fatal and that it certainly causes serious illness. This has been known for a considerable time. In 1965 the New South Wales State Cancer Council said in its report:
There is general opinion now that the cancer problem can be solved, indeed the general directions of the profitable lines of attack have been agreed. We already know that many cancers are preventible, since many of the cancer inducing stimuli are environmental and on occasions occupational. It is possible to avoid stimulation by all of these - if the facts are known to the public at large. Here again rises the profound importance of public education in cancer.
We now know that cancer-producing factors in our environment are actually far more common, and more diverse, than we imagined. Many are associated with our customs and habits and therefore can be changed. Such a change is necessary if the disease is to be prevented.
A striking example of this is the widespread habit of cigarette smoking. There are no longer any doubts about the reliability of the statistical evidence that lung cancer is more common (about 5-15 times more so) among cigarette smokers, and much more so among heavy smokers of cigarettes, than among non-smokers.
That statement was made in 1965. Yet it has taken the Government 7 years, with considerable pressure in recent times, to do something positive to alert the public - one would hope effectively but, I suspect, in an inadequate way - to the dangers of cigarette smoking. In the meantime many people have died and many more have suffered serious ill health, mostly of a chronic nature, as a result of the effects of cigarette and tobacco smoking in the community. For instance, in 1955 there were 254 cases of death from lung cancer. In 1970 the figure had risen to 3,244. Obviously not all cases of lung cancer have been caused by cigarette smoking but a significant proportion would have been.
There is abundant evidence available in a plenitude of authoritative journals by suitably qualified research workers which indicates that people who do not smoke have a lower rate of mortality and morbidity than those who smoke and in those people who give up smoking there is a significant improvement in the rate of mortality and morbidity. For instance, chronic bronchitis and emphysema are twice as common in men smokers and 3 times as common in women smokers than in non-smokers of the same sex. Men who are light cigarette smokers - men who smoke less than 10 cigarettes a day - have a 22 per cent higher frequency of coronary and atherosclerotic heart disease than those who have never smoked. Among those who smoke more than 2 packets a day the frequency of coronary heart disease and atherosclerosis is almost 100 per cent greater than among those who do not smoke. A 25-year old man who smokes 2 packets of cigarettes a day can expect to die, on the average, 8 years sooner than a non-smoker of the same age. Not only will he die sooner but also as the years go by the average cigarette smoker will suffer more and more discomfort and pain as disturbances of his normal breathing mechanism and heart action become more serious. Also he will suffer more from other kinds of disabilities and he will be taking more time off work and from his other usual activities than a non-smoker of the same age as a direct result of the need to recover from minor illnesses caused by or made worse by the regular smoking of cigarettes. Infants born to mothers who smoked during pregnancy are twice as likely to be aborted, to be stillborn or to die soon after birth than those born to non-smoking mothers.
Those statistics are a pretty damning indictment of cigarettes and tobacco. It is rather remarkable in our society that the respectable conventional drugs such as alcohol and nicotine are amongst the most damaging drugs in the community but create less concern and less distress among the community in terms of the community being upset about their effects than drugs such as marihuana. As I have indicated in this House before, I think marihuana ought to be banned. However, on the basis of evidence which one can see such drugs are less harmful in their effects than either nicotine or alcohol. In Australia it has been estimated that there are about 10,000 deaths a year directly attributable to the effects of cigarette smoking and 4i million work days are lost each year. This has resulted in a chronic loading on metropolitan hospitals treating cases such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
There is an economic cost and a social cost which the community is being asked to bear. In a way it is a subsidy for a most unwholesome industry, the tobacco industry, because the rest of the community is bearing this cost. The tobacco industry is not being asked to pay additional tax to support the health system to treat people who are affected by these sorts of chronic diseases that arise from the use of cigarettes. It is not being asked to pay a special tax to train the extra doctors and other people required to look after those who are ill. The cigarette smoker and the industry in a fairly direct way are placing an unfair burden on the rest of the com munity in another direction. Because insurance companies make no distinction between the higher probability in mortality rates among smokers and non-smokers, non-smokers are paying higher premiums than they ought to be paying for their insurance policies.
In our community, enormous sums of money are being expended each year to promote the sale of this so-called respectable drug which is so devastatingly damaging in its effect on people. Several estimates I have seen suggest that as much as SI 2m a year is spent on the promotion of cigarette and tobacco sales, in the sort of glossy advertisements and trendy presentations which are shown on television so that people will gain some sort of an identification concept with the people who are appearing on television. As someone has observed, Stuart Wagstaff is doing more for lung cancer than anyone has done for the humanitarian needs in the community.
This means that each year about $1 per person in the community is being spent on the promotion of cigarettes and tobacco which, I repeat, are clearly so damaging - indeed lethal - in their effect. The best that we can manage on cancer research is a per capita expenditure of about 10c a year. There is something clearly wrong with the sense of priorities in a community, when we can underspend in an area of obvious need, cancer research - an area concerned largely with the effect of cigarette and tobacco smoking - and yet spend an inordinately large amount on cigarette and tobacco advertising which is causing a great deal of this problem.
Cigarette and tobacco advertising has been banned in other countries. It has been banned in Britain, Italy, Sweden, Finland New Zealand, Russia and the United States of America, and in Canada, because of tha threat of fairly stringent restrictions being imposed by the Canadian Government, I understand that there has been a voluntary withdrawal - if it is not effective now, it soon will be effective - of the advertising of tobacco and cigarette products on television. We ought to do the same thing.
I have noticed in some of the daily newspapers and in some telegrams which I have received a suggestion that there is no evidence to support the contention that the banning of this sort of advertising results in a diminishing, on a per capita basis, of tobacco and cigarette consumption in a community. That may be so, but I should like a clearer analysis of this assertion before I would be prepared to accept that it is correct. For instance, the rate of growth in the per capita consumption of tobacco and cigarettes would be significant when considering this matter. But in any event, no-one argues that because people are continuing to smoke marihuana at an increasing rate and to consume hard drugs, we ought not to ban advertising of these particularly deleterious influences in the community.
At this point I want to say some things which are critical of the Government, and I do not expect that they will surprise the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme) a great deal. First of all, why has it taken the Government so long to reach the point where some positive action is being taken? The second thing of which I am critical is the sort of nibbling approach in what is being done. It is certainly welcome and it is certainly an improvement on the previous situation when nothing was being done at the Federal level. From statements mads by the Postmaster-General on previous occasions in this House, one would have gathered that he did not think that anything could or ought to be done about tobacco and cigarette advertising on television. In any event, there has been a revolt within the Liberal Party, and I commend those members of the Liberal Party, one of whom I believe will be following me in this debate shortly, who were effective in compelling the Government to change its attitude to this important matter. What is being done is an improvement, but it ought to go much further. We of the Opposition are committed to the objective of the total prohibition of this sort of advertising in all forms to the maximum extent that we can achieve.
The other point I want to raise is: Why has it taken so long for action to be taken on warning the public effectively of the dangers of cigarette and tobacco smoking? The National Health and Medical Research Council, as far back as 1957, warned of these dangers. In the report of the Forty-third session of the Council, it was pointed out in a unanimous recommendation that tobacco smoking and in particular cigarette smoking was definitely a contributory factor in the production of cancer of the lung, the incidence of which was increasing and was highest in those who smoked most heavily. In 1962, at a subsequent meeting, the Council recommended that the advertising of cigarette and tobacco products ought to be banned. It stated:
The Commonwealth and State Authorities should aim at the complete prohibition of tobacco advertising . . .
That recommendation was made in 1962. It has taken a decade to reach the point where we are not even achieving complete prohibition of that advertising; partially offsetting action is being taken in relation to cigarette advertising. In 1968 the National Health and Medical Research Council warned in its report of the increased risk of perinatal mortality among pregnant women who smoked. In 1967 it had warned of the increased rate of death in the younger age groups and of the increase in non-fatal illness occurring in the community because of cigarette smoking. In 1968 the Council urged that cigarette packets should carry a label warning of the dangers of cigarette smoking, and it also urged that there should be an indication on cigarette packets of the tar and nicotine yield. In 1969 and 1971 the Council renewed these recommendations. But right up until quite recently - and no doubt as a bolt from the blue as far as the tobacco companies and television interests are concerned - the Government had steadfastly refused to take any action to respond effectively to these recommendations. I am pleased that the Government has responded to them now, but I have some rather cynical impressions as to why it has not responded to this point. What the Government has done - this is as far as it is prepared to go - is to accede to the pressures in the Liberal Party and at the same time, hopefully on the Government’s part, still hold some of that support from the tobacco and television companies which is helpful to the Government at election times.
I will give an illustration to show why I feel some scepticism about the sincerity of the Government in the whole history of this matter of the need to educate or inform the public about the dangers of cigarette smoking. I refer to the recent revised voluntary code for advertising of cigarettes on radio and television. There are 11 points enumerated in the revised code and, very interestingly, the 11th point is:
No claim for reduction of any ingredient from smoke of any cigarette may be included in advertising.
That was the crucial point referred to not only in the National Health and Medical Research Council’s reports in the past few years, but also by the numerous authoritative research workers who have reported on the dangers of cigarette and tobacco smoking. They have pointed out that the nicotine and tar contents are dangerous factors in cigarettes and this necessitates warning the public of the comparative level of these ingredients in different brands of cigarettes. This point was written into the revised voluntary code clearly to save from embarrassment the manufacturers and distributors of cigarettes with a high tar content. It was a highly questionable deal, as far as I can see, to write this point into the code, more especially without warning the public in any way of the intention to do so. Of course, this diminishes, in a very real way, the effectiveness of the voluntary code.
We have seen just how ineffectual the Government’s approach has been over the whole of this period. Between 1950-51 and 1970-71 the per capita consumption of cigarettes has increased by 88 per cent, which is a substantial increase. If we allow for a slight diminution in the consumption of tobacco, we find that there was still an increase of more than 60 per cent in the consumption of tobacco in the community. In the face of this, there was compelling evidence, linked with the urgency felt about this matter by the National Health and Medical Research Council and other organisations and qualified bodies, to indicate that the Government had a moral responsibility to the community fully to inform it of the dangers of cigarette and tobacco smoking.
What ought we to do? From the Opposition we have indicated that we would ban all of these forms of advertising. This means that where there are State Labor governments they have an obligation, which sooner or later they must fulfil, wherever they have authority, to take action to prohibit advertising of these commodities and this includes in the newspapers within their States. We realise that there is a need for an educational programme. We understand also that a sudden cessation of cigarette and tobacco advertising, which I understand accounts for something like every twelfth dollar earned by television companies, would represent financial difficulties for television companies. We believe that by undertaking a suitably extensive educational programme, using the media for this purpose, and warning on the dangers of cigarette and tobacco smoking we can make a reasonable contribution to these avenues of communication to offset, to some significant extent, the sort of financial difficulities they will otherwise face. But these forms of media should not expect that nothing should be done merely to preserve their profits and their financial viability because it has been clearly established that cigarette and tobacco smoking is lethal and extremely dangerous.
The sort of thing that the Labor Party would do in an educational programme includes the provision of suitably good quality production material aimed at late primary, first, second and third-year secondary school levels, involving subjects such as biology, science, history, economics, statistics and so forth. Such material should be graded by age. We believe that if it is well produced it could be issued to every school in Australia. This automatically would ensure that virtually every young person gets and accurate and scientific knowledge of many aspects of the smoking situation. Provided that such basic information is sensibly presented we believe it could be absorbed by the children to whom it is being presented. These children must be reached first because the smoking problem in 25 years time is the problem which will confront these young people, so they must have adequate education. A strong campaign should be mounted at the medical profession asking its members to use their good offices in providing better information to the people who make contact with them. There is need for the production of special films - the sort of film which will reach schoolchildren at one level and another film for those at a different level. Of course, a distinctly different sort of film to reach adults and warning of the dangers of which I have been speaking should be produced.
It is hopeless to speak of a campaign as the Government does, limited to visual and voice warnings of the dangers of cigarette and tobacco smoking and a $500,000 per annum outlay as part of an educational programme warning the public of these dangers when the cigarette and tobacco industry is spending about $12m a year to promote its particular product. The sort of educational programme the Labor Party has in mind probably would involve the expenditure of about $4m. At present the Government is providing about only 4 per cent of what the cigarette and tobacco industry is outlaying in promoting its lethal product. It is about only 12 per cent of what should be spent in this area. We believe it is completely immoral to have allowed the cigarette and tobacco interests in Australia to have operated for so long as they have operated and to have been responsible for so many deaths in the community, for so much chronic ill health and for so much unnecessary and excessive demand on scarce and very expensive public health services. We believe that what is being done, while it is an improvement on having nothing in operation, still falls far short of what should be done. I have indicated clearly to the House what the Labor Party would do. That, we believe, is the very least which should be done in the public interest.
Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment and reserve my right to speak.
– This House tonight has to decide 3 important questions. First, is smoking a serious health hazard? Secondly, if so, should the Government do anything about it? Thirdly, are the measures in the present Bill appropriate? On the first question there is no doubt that cigarette smoking is one of the great health hazards in Australia today. Every reputable medical organisation in Australia, America, Canada and Britain certifies that cigarette smoking is a major health hazard. In Australia this opinion has been stated by the Australian Medical Association, the Royal Australian College of Physicians, the Royal Australian College of Surgeons, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, the Australian Cancer Society, the National Heart Foundation, the Australian Tuberculosis and Chest Association and the National Health and Medical Research Council. So much for the intensity of medical opinion that smoking is a health hazard. Now for the scale of the problem.
Deaths from just one smoking related disease - lung cancer - are now higher than deaths from tuberculosis ever were. It has been reliably assessed by the Chief Medical Officer of Health in Britain that approximately 10 per cent of all deaths in the community are due to smoking associated diseases. The major ones are lung cancer, heart disease, bronchitis and emphysema. Other less frequent diseases associated with smoking are cancer of the lip, tongue, larynx and bladder as well as certain diseases of the blood vessels. These findings in Britain are corroborated by parallel studies conducted by the United States Department of Health. One of the great difficulties about dealing with smoking induced disease is the addictive or perhaps habituative nature of smoking itself. Medical opinion differs on whether smoking is addictive or habituative but, as far as the smoker is concerned, it is a distinction without a difference. All smokers know how difficult it is to give up smoking.
One of the criticisms that is usually advanced about smoking induced diseases is that the connection is only statistical. This, of course, is true. But the statistical connection applies to virtually all preventive medicine and virtually all modernmedical research. In nearly all of these fields the connection is only statistical. I cite a parallel case - thalidomide. Thalidomide has one of the great qualities claimed for tobacco smoking - it is a tranquiliser. It is a health risk only to a very small proportion of the community - a small proportion of unborn foetuses. There is no risk at all to anybody else.
– So far as we know.
– Yes. What we have done because of that risk is impose a total ban on the use of thalidomide. I entirely agree with this but we must remember that this ban is based entirely on statistical evidence far less extensive than the statistical connection between smoking and smokinginduced diseases. I agree entirely with the decision to ban thalidomide. There would be outrage in the community if it ever came on the market again. But it is an example of statistical connection. I emphasise that this connection is far more proven with tobacco induced diseases than it is with thalidomide or any of the other types of tranquiliser caused disease. So I think we must say that the answer to the first question concerning whether smoking is a major health hazard must be a resounding yes.
The second question is: Should the Government do anything about it? At various times a number of objections have been raised about doing anything about it. The first one usually advanced is that cigarettes are legally manufactured and sold and therefore the Government should do nothing to prevent their promotion. I believe this is specious nonsense. On medical grounds alone one could make a good case for the total prohibition of tobacco as we have done with marihuana and other drugs. We have so many tobacco addicts in the community that this is a totally impractical course but it does not follow that we should do nothing to control the promotion of cigarettes and tobacco. In a different field we also have such a power and we already use it freely. Section 100 (6.) of the Broadcasting and Television Act says:
A licensee shall not broadcast or televise an advertisement relating to a medicine unless the text of the proposed advertisement has been approved by the Director-General of Health or, on appeal to the Minister under this section, by the Minister.
In his notes to radio and television companies the Director-General of Health says that no person should advertise any preparation which contains drugs in dangerous quantities. I am not of course suggesting that cigarettes are a medicine - quite the reverse. But I am saying that by controlling radio and television advertising of cigarettes we would not be creating any new principle or destroying any old ones. The Director-General of Health already has the power, which he freely uses, to ban or control the radio and television advertising of preparations whose promotion he believes would be injurious to public health, although the actual sale of these preparations remains perfectly legal. Surely the same criteria should apply to cigarette promotion.
Sitting suspended from 5.57 to 8 p.m.
– Before we rose for dinner I had raised the question whether smoking is a serious health hazard, and I hope I satisfied the House that it is. I was dealing then with the question whether the Government should do anything about it. There are various aspects here. The one to which I attach most importance is that the Director-General of Health already has the power, which he freely uses, to ban or control radio and television advertising of preparations whose promotion he believes would be injurious to public health, although the actual sale of these preparations remains legal. I believe that similar criteria should be used in the promotion of tobacco. An argument sometimes advanced against taking action against cigarette promotion is that it would harm tobacco growers. This is an argument to which any government must give very serious consideration. Tobacco manufacturers have to use a minimum of 50 per cent Australian leaf in their blends or else forfeit a rebate on tariff duties payable on overseas leaf. I do not think we can expect any immediate dramatic effect from this warning we are imposing on radio and television advertising. If we can achieve a slow decline in the average consumption of tobacco per head and hold the total tobacco consumption steady we will be doing well and will have saved many lives. Such an effect would not harm tobacco growers. If in the long term total consumption started to diminish, we could presumably consider raising the statutory quota of Australian leaf.
Another objection raised is that restrictions on advertising would harm tobacco manufacturers. It is worth noting that all the major ones are overseas controlled, and for the reasons I just gave I do not think their total sales would fall in the short term. They would just stop rising. Another argument sometimes advanced is that everyone is going to die some time, so why should we make this attempt to stop people dying of smoke induced diseases? There are 2 answers here. The first is ‘.hat lung cancer in particular is a very nasty death, and the second is that a lot of smoking induced deaths come at the breadwinning stage, in the age bracket 45 to 65, which imposes a loss on community output and severe hardship on the family. If we can reduce smoking in this group and prevent young people taking it up we will achieve a great deal. Frankly I do not think we need worry too much about older people. The younger ones are more important.
Another issue we must consider is the effect on radio and television stations through the possible loss of their advertising revenue. I .think we must take care that whatever measures we take do not inflict unreasonable damage on radio and television stations. I am satisfied that in making its decision the Government has chosen a very careful and well considered course that will have the maximum impact and the minimum of unreasonable damage to radio and television stations, particularly in the country. I am sure that my Country Party colleagues will have some words to say on this subject. The final point in answer to the question whether the Government should do anything about tobacco promotion is that in fact we are already doing it. We encourage the so-called voluntary code of television advertising of cigarettes. The trouble was that this code was completely ineffective. It banned the advertising of cigarettes until 7.30 p.m., with the aim of keeping this advertising away from young people. Unfortunately young people watch television much later than this. A recent survey shows that 37 per cent of 13-year-olds are still watching television at 9.30. The only market that was sacrificed by the tobacco people adopting this socalled voluntary code was the kindergarten market. I think the inescapable conclusion is that the Government has to take action to control promotion in the interests of community health.
Now we turn to the critical question. Are the Government actions which are proposed appropriate? The key to this problem is undoubtedly education. The Government has promised $500,000 a year for education on the perils of cigarette smoking, and I am sure that this is the key to success. We must educate young people in the perils of smoking before they become addicted to cigarettes. I accept and support the idea of putting warning labels on cigarette packets, although frankly I do not think it will have a great deal of effect, except in showing the young people that the community does not approve of cigarettes or that the community recognises that they are dangerous. But I feel that in general by the time a person has bought a packet of cigarettes he intends to smoke those cigarettes. A warning label will have very little effect on the decision. But if education programmes, which I have said are the key to success, are to be successful we must create an environment in which they can be effective. Such a campaign has to take place in an environment where $12m a year is being spent on cigarette promotion. I know that in theory it is spent merely on brand switching advertising, but in practice it can do nothing other than encourage many young people to take up -smoking. The decision of the Government to require warning notices to be placed on television screens after cigarette advertising and warning announcements to be made after radio advertising of cigarettes is a very sound and sensible one. It has not been tried, as far as I know, anywhere else in the world, and I think it may well be successful in achieving the ends we seek.
Now I would like to turn for a moment to what is proposed by the Opposition. It is interesting that the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) spoke about Labor policy. Much of the policy is, of course, in the hands of the State Labor governments, and it is notable that the Labor governments of South Australia and Western Australia have taken no action along the lines he is proposing. I am afraid that I must say that I think much of what he said was Labor policy is in fact a sham. What this amendment proposes, firstly, is that we should ban all cigarette and tobacco advertising on radio and television. I am sure that my Country Party colleagues will deal in some detail with the consequences of that proposition. I support the present decision, which to my mind steers a most sensible middle course. I think it will be effective without inflicting too much hardship on country radio and television stations. I think that a ban would be traumatic for them.
A ban would cover not only cigarette advertising but tobacco advertising. From the health point of view, what we want to do is divert the inevitable smokers away from cigarettes, which are very dangerous, to pipes and cigars, which are less dangerous, and conceivably even to chewing tobacco, which is completely safe. With regard to the part of the amendment that refers to a vigorous advertising campaign, this is exactly what the Government proposes in this legislation. What the Government has decided to do in relation to this very difficult problem is to adopt a very sensible compromise. I reject the amendment moved by the Opposition and strongly support the Bill.
– I do not intend to take up a great deal of the time of the House tonight with a long and protracted debate on the merits or otherwise of this Bill. I concur with what has been said by my colleague the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden). 1 find myself to a very great degree in agreement with what has been said by the honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Hamer), but he spoiled a very good story. He made out a very cogent argument for the attitude of the Government. He made out an equally devastating statistical medical argument for a total ban on cigarettes and tobacco. At the end of his speech he spoilt the whole essence of his argument because he could not resist the inevitable temptation, which falls upon all the Liberals, to oppose any measure that is put forward by the Opposition. I regret that he used the word sham’ when he referred to the Australian Labor Party’s policy on this issue. I think it was unworthy of him and completely unjustified.
It has been made quite clear over the years that the Opposition has felt that a measure of this kind - although we do not oppose it, we do not think it goes quite far enough - was more than welcome not only to people in this House but also to the community generally. It has in fact been Labor policy for a great number of years. What is intriguing, however, is the remarkable haste with which this legislation has been introduced. I clearly remember the Treasurer (Mr Snedden) in this very chamber only a short time ago, in answer to a question, disputing the medical evi dence that was submitted in the second reading speech of the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme). It is in Hansard. I think it is worthy of perusal. The PostmasterGeneral said:
The relationship of cigarette smoking with pulmonary and cardiovascular disease, including lung cancer, heart disease, chronic bronchitis and emphysema, is accepted beyond doubt by major international and Australian medical organise tions and the National Health and Med:c:il Research Council.
That evidence was disputed in this chamber just a few weeks ago by the Treasurer. Let me go further and say that I recall a Press handout from the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) in another place as late as March of this year in which he made it perfectly clear that legislation of the type now being introduced certainly would not be introduced nor had it then been contemplated. That was only a couple of months ago. However, I am delighted to see that the medical and expert research so cogently presented has at last been accepted by the Government.
I do not intend to traverse the ground already covered by the honourable member for Oxley and the honourable member for Isaacs. I think it would be dull to repeat it. They have made a very sound case for the action that has been taken. In his second reading speech the Postmaster-General indicated that one of the proposals of the Government would be that the Commonwealth would provide $500,000 a year for 3 years commencing on 1st July this year for this particular purpose. In my view, $500,000 is not nearly substantial enough. However, I concede that it is certainly a step in the right direction. I would like to quote briefly from the latest statistics I have been able to obtain on the estimated revenue to the media from advertising of tobacco products for the year ended 1969. It tells a very interesting story. In 1969 the total Press revenue from such advertising was $811,936 - almost $lm.
Then we come to the fascinating figure for metropolitan television stations, country television stations and metropolitan radio stations. We find that for metropolitan television stations, or capital city stations, the estimated revenue in 1969 was $6,962,499 - almost $7m. For country television stations - this is causing some concern to my Country Party colleagues and I can see the concern - the estimated revenue was $1,390,658. The total television revenue at the end of 1969 was $8im. I have no doubt that at the end of 1972 it will have exceeded that figure. The grand total of revenue for radio and television at the end of 1969 was almost $llm. This is a very considerable amount of revenue, a great proportion of which television licensees will have to forgo. It is not unreasonable to expect that a degree of responsibility and a degree of flexibility should be shown by the various stations in approaching this problem.
One of the difficulties that I have had in speaking in this debate is that only about 10 days ago the Federation of Commercial Broadcasting Stations, through one of its senior spokesmen, indicated quite clearly and conceded that discussions had taken place between the Government and the Minister. However, the information that I have is that the legislation that has been introduced is not strictly in line with the recommendation made by the Federation. But 1, do not wish to pursue that matter at any great length. I merely suggest that there is a slightly disturbed feeling that these negotiations entered into - I take it, quite freely - were not strictly conducted along the lines that the Federation would have wished. I think it is reasonable to assume from the figures I have quoted that it is logical and human for the television and radio people to feel that in some way they have been discriminated against. It is a point of view that cannot be dismissed idly. That is why the Opposition has taken the view that the advertising of cigarettes and cigarette tobacco should not only be banned from the most influential media, or perhaps the most persuasive of the media - that is, radio and television - but that the ban should also be extended to the newspapers if the Government is going to be consistent in its approach. I do not think that there is a great deal of dispute on this side of the House or on the other side of the House about the necessity for this legislation. I find from looking at the newspapers’ share of the revenue that there is no doubt that the small percentage that the Press enjoys at the moment will be increased substantially once the advertising is diverted from radio and television to the newspapers. That is the only mild criticism I have.
The Opposition would like to see a positive campaign in this direction against all of the media. It seems to me somewhat ludicrous to expect to embark on an educational programme, warning people of the very great dangers of cigarette smoking, when you concentrate wholly and solely on one section of the advertising media and you are prepared to neglect the other. There is certainly an inconsistency. As I have said before, it must be conceded that perhaps some of the licensees will take the view that they have been discriminated against. I am obliged to imagine that the figure of revenue for the Press could quadruple after this legislation becomes law. I am wondering whether we are being a little timid or inhibited in our approach to the newspapers and the Press generally in regard to this measure. There may well be some constitutional deterrent that causes this inhibition. However, I dp not know whether this is so. Be that as it may, one can only agree with the general proposition that certainly cigarette and tobacco smoking is a health hazard.
I do not intend to take my full time in this debate because I know that many other honourable members are tremendously keen to put their point of view. I conclude on the note that I agree with the terms of the amendment moved by the honourable member for Oxley. I take the very strong stand that, in face and in view of the overwhelming evidence presented, the advertising of cigarettes and cigarette smoking on radio and television should not be propagated with such a lavish and expensive presentation by the media directly coming within the ambit of this legislation. I merely repeat that I am most disappointed that the Government, to use the phrase of the honourable member for Isaacs, took a middle course. The longer one is in thu chamber the more one gets used to this Government taking the middle course.
– It is usually in reverse.
– As my honourable friend interjects, it is usually in reverse. That may well be. As a matter of fact, I was rather terrified that following the events of the last 36 hours this legislation might well sink ingloriously to the bottom of the sea.
– Or the notice paper.
– Yes. 1 support the amendment moved on behalf of the Opposition. I think that the Government’s measure is worth-while and timely. However, the legislation does not go far enough or is wide enough in grappling with the problems of a very terrifying health hazard especially to young people in the community.
– This Bill is one of 3 proposals by the Government to restrict cigarette smoking. Of the 3 I believe the educational programme is the most important and the most likely to have a beneficial effect. Even if all cigarette advertising is banned I doubt whether consumption would drop until community attitudes towards cigarette smoking change. The uniform labelling of cigarette packages also is to be commended. However, I have grave reservations about the priorities or wisdom of a government in a so-called free society enforcing such warnings on advertisements for cigarettes when there is no suggestion that possibly other more dangerous factors in the community such as alcohol, or perhaps the most dangerous of all, the motor car with all its ramifications, will be touched. Also this Bill by itself starts a dangerous precedent along the path to which there may be no end. The Bill also discriminates against radio and television and provides unnecessary assistance to newspapers which will not be similarly restricted. Unless and until the Government similarly restricts cigarette advertising in newspapers and magazines, J will continue to doubt its sincerity on this matter. The amendment moved on behalf of the Australian Labor Party compounds this inequity by seeking to ban completely the advertising of cigarettes on television and radio and not touch the other media at all. The Labor Party has stated that it will provide of-setting advertising. The only thing that it could advertise is pie in the sky.
Within the radio and television industry there is further discrimination against country radio and television stations. This is due to the greater reliance of these stations upon cigarette advertising. Approximately twice the revenue percentage of country stations to city stations comes from this source. Consequently, country stations are more exposed to any reduction in revenue.
At the moment several country television stations are running at a loss or, at best, are marginally profitable. The managements of these stations are fearful that because other media are not restricted there could be a loss of revenue of sufficient magnitude to end their independence. By a strange coincidence one Government policy of fostering an independent and viable country radio and television industry will be nullified by another Government policy making it impossible for it to continue other than as relay stations for metropolitan companies. If this happens we will be faced with the very interesting situation of newspaper companies, which will gain from this Bill by their control of metropolitan television stations, having to take over the ailing country television stations which are reduced to this insolvency by the same legislation. Surely the most equitable solution for both effective action that this Government can take against cigarette smoking and to neutralise any advantage between competing media is for similar restrictions ‘o be placed on newspapers and magazines.
Even if this forecast is too gloomy, such valuable community services as local news and national news on relay will be affected as these 2 items are the most expensive that country television and radio provide as services to the community. They would be the first to go. With this reduction there would be a reduction in the quality of life as well as the quality of service to people in country areas. I welcome the amendments to this legislation proposed by the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme). I hope to comment on them at the appropriate time. But also 1 ask the Government to delay proclamation of the legislation at least until the same date as that proposed for cigarette labelling so that we can have a uniform introduction of these measures. I support the legislation.
– There is a danger that this entire legislative operation may become an empty gesture, yet cause hardship in unexpected quarters. 1 commend the honourable member for Murray (Mr Lloyd) who has just resumed his seat for his modest revolt against the
Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) and his Cabinet colleagues Who have agreed to and supported this legislation. I would hope that when the honourable member understands the full purport of the amendment that we have moved he will vote for it. What we have said is that this is an inequitable piece of legislation. We say, in essence, one in all in; one out all out. This has been said by members of the Opposition. If honourable members opposite read very carefully the amendment moved on behalf of the Opposition they will understand it better. If they are sincere they will put their vote where their words are. After all, this is the year of a dying government. If the Deputy Prime Minister wishes to exercise some influence I think it would be a very good idea if he did so on this occasion.
To suggest that the legislation is not a ban on cigarette advertising is just simply not recognising reality. Is it seriously suggested by some supporters of the Government who have spoken that a firm will pay for an advertisement which says: ‘Smoke my brand of cigarettes and you will drop dead sooner? This is rubbish. When this Bill in fact is enacted it will mean the absence from television and radio of cigarette advertising. Let us be quite clear. The proposition to which we are committed is that there should be a complete ban on cigarette advertising. But what is proposed in the legislation before us is simply a partial ban. It means cutting television revenue, for example, by 12 per cent. There is no other restriction outside radio and television; so it is no great effort for an advertising agency to switch the advertising vote from one sector of the media to another. One week we get cigarettes between television and radio programmes and the next week after the legislation is passed we will have an increased diet of cigarette advertising between news pages and in the pages of glossy magazines. Another avenue of advertising that has been extended considerably in the United States recently has been on the advertising hoardings. They are bigger and brighter than ever before and they appear everywhere, except in church.
So, there is an inadequacy and also an inequity here. One half of the media is penalised and proscribed and the other half is let off scot-free. It is not an equitable situation and it could lead to a crisis in Australian radio and television, particularly in country areas. It could mean retrenched personnel and restrictions which the Government, in its usual haphazard fashion, has made no provision to overcome. I suggest that we are putting forward a positive proposal. Firstly, we are consistent - one out, all out. Secondly, there should be a positive Commonwealth programme on national health - an advisory programme which will utilise the forcibly abandoned time - on radio and television. Here we can do something positive to develop health programmes which are badly needed. We can give a lead in areas that have long been ignored.
The time could be used to bring out the truth about so many of the products which are foisted upon our people at this time. There is no doubt in my mind that Australian housewives are being sold a pup daily by exaggerated claims. A visitor from another world tuning in to a regular commercial programme could be excused for thinking that we are a nation of neurotics in need of constant treatment for an incredible range of ailments and in need of constant washing by a bewildering number of patent products. Let us use the airways to teach and to expose the fallacies and dangers of anti-social habits. I think that the whole Parliament should get behind the positive programme we have put for-, ward - to invest in valuable time - in the interests of the health of the people.
References have been made to the tobacco growers. I agree entirely that the nation should stand behind the growers and initiate a cutover programme when it becomes necessary. I do not want to see any crocodile tears from Government supporters about the fate of tobacco growers. The Government stood idly by while the entire tobacco industry in many areas, such as Barham in the Riverina, was wiped out progressively and selectively by foreign tobacco firms dedicated to importing their leaf from parent firms. I say ‘selectively’ because one centre after another was marked for extirpation. It was only the intervention led by my distinguished predecessor in the parliament of New South Wales, George
Enticknap, who was Minister for Agriculture and Conservation in that State, that led to some stabilisation and introduced a better limit on foreign leaf imports.
My own view is that the Government, if it is genuine in seeking a limitation of the habit, should, firstly, ban all forms of advertising and promotion to keep to the dictum that is fair and equitable, namely, one out all out. That principle is contained in the amendment. Secondly, the Government should initiate positive public health programmes on television and radio to take up the slack in time and finance. Thirdly, there should be immediate planning to cut over valuable and skilled growers from this industry to other forms of primary industry when and if this becomes necessary. We should not wait until they are in trouble; we should plan now for future action. There is no doubt where we stand on this matter, but I feel that it is an exercise in humbug to say that this is something less than a total ban and to say that there should be fair play - these statements came from honourable members on the Government benches - when in fact all Government supporters are pledged to vote for something which, as we see it, is inequitable and may well be a farce and not in the interests of either country, media or of the health of the nation.
– The honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) who has just resumed his seat has given a very good example of the general lack of interest or concern of members of the Labor Party for the welfare of people who live in the country areas, including people who operate country radio and television stations and. indeed, the tobacco producers. This example does not surprise me, but I do not know that I have ever heard it explained more fully than it was by the honourable member for Riverina. As my time is somewhat limited, I should like first of all to commend those people who are anxious to improve the health of the Australian community. I strongly support this objective. I commend the Government foi the amendment that the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme) will move to alter the words of warning which is to be given which, while being just as effective, is more compact and, therefore, more desirable. I propose to support the amendment.
However, I am concerned with some aspects of the Bill. I contend that a mere announcement following an advertisement on radio or television will not have a significant effect on the consumption of cigarette tobacco. This view is supported by evidence, which I shall bring forward in this debate. Furthermore, I cannot agree that there is any real urgency to introduce this legislation. I know that there is a need to take into consideration the health of the nation, but this is not the only aspect of the problem. When we decide to adopt measures in connection with this matter, we must ensure that we adopt the correct ones. We must be sure that what we are doing achieves in the best way the objective for which we are aiming.
I believe that more consultations with the broadcasting industry would have produced beneficial results. That industry has views which are helpful and it has proved its co-operation previously. I am strongly of the opinion that the most effective measure which could be taken to achieve the objective of assisting the health of the people through the reduction of lung cancer is the first measure which was mentioned in the Postmaster-General’s second reading speech. He said:
I believe that this is the key to the situation and the method we should adopt because not only will it be effective, if anything will be effective, in achieving this objective, but also we will be able to apply it to any other health hazard that faces this country without infringing on the rights of anybody in any other field. To my way of thinking, that is a very important matter in the approach to a democratic way of life.
– But you wanted to ban “The Little Red Schoolbook*.
– The honourable member for Wills has had a lot to say and it has not been worth listening to. So, if he will allow me to have my 10 minutes I will be happy. I believe that this educational programme should be expanded even further. One means by which this could be done would be through consultation with the Federation of Australian Commercial Broadcasters. This organisation has shown its willingness to act responsibly in this field, as witness its acceptance of a voluntary code for advertising on radio and television. In view of that, surely it would be reasonable to expect that co-operation with the Government in its educational policy would be forthcoming again.
I agree also with another comment made in the Postmaster-General’s second reading speech. He said:
This is something that is worthy of note. The Minister continued:
Accordingly it is not recognised as a role of this Government to impose prohibitions on people’s freedom of choice except for the most compelling national reasons.
I agree with that. I believe that when one considers the doubts about the efficacy of putting restrictions on radio and television advertisements one can only conclude that this method would perhaps have insufficient effect to justify its use. I have argued that the proposed restriction on all radio and television advertising of cigarettes will be ineffectual in reducing the total amount of cigarette smoking but, as other speakers have mentioned - I give them credit for it - there may be reason for believing that a reduction or elimination of this form of advertising would be preferable to a reduction in other means of advertising which are not subject to this restriction. If that view is accepted - I am concerned that it might be accepted - it will be a bitter blow for broadcasters who are only too well aware that restrictions on radio advertising, particularly if the restrictions are modified in their application to other media, are doomed to be ineffective.
In my own electorate, if I may be permitted to talk parochially at the moment, there are 2 commercial radio stations. If they are forced to close that will be a distinct loss to the local community which would then have no medium for radio advertising. These stations broadcast local news and sporting events and provide one of the few amenities available in this area and are an important factor in the life of people living in my electorate. If we are really interested in decentralisation surely when we are making provision to cope with one problem we will not cause anomalies which will have an adverse effect in other areas.
– What does the honourable member put first, capital or cancer?
– I emphasise that I do not place even the highly desirable service of commercial radio stations above the health of the nation. My argument is that a restriction on radio and television advertisements will not serve in any significant way to improve the national health level. In support of this contention let me say that since the introduction of the ban on radio and television advertising on 1st January 1971 in the United States, the overall consumption in that country has continued to rise - some researchers have put the rate of increase at 3 per cent. Furthermore, the 1972 report of the Royal College of Physicians in the United Kingdom mentions the example of Russia, where no advertising is allowed - and I hope people will take note of that - and Italy, where a ban was introduced some years ago. In both countries there has been a steady rise in cigarette consumption. I know it is pretty hard to measure the effect of this, or what the rate would have been with it or without it, but it does show that there is reason to have grave doubt as to the effect even of a total ban which the Labor Party would introduce. We are tackling just one health hazard per medium of radio and television. There are other health hazards and one wonders where this sort of restriction will end. I should like to quote a letter that appeared in the Australian’ on 12th May last, written by Dr A. I. Adams, senior lecturer in the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine at the University of Sydney. The doctor wrote:
I wish to draw your attention to the implications of the findings reported by Dr Gillies and Dr Skyring in the Medical Journal of Australia i.May 6), on the consumption of aspirin in Sydney .
They found that 8 per cent of males and 15 per cent of females ingest aspirin daily and that regular aspirin-takers among women consume 24 powders or tablets each day. These figures support earlier Australian studies that have linked aspirintaking with our high rates of stomach ulcer and kidney disease.
If we are to have an education programme we could include in it not only the danger of cigarette smoking but also other health hazards. I should like to refer in the brief time that I have remaining to the value of the tobacco industry to my home State of Queensland. The total value of market quota of leaf in 1970-71 was approximately $22,500,000. Apart from the value of this industry to the economy of the State it has a real effect on the welfare, progress and development of towns in areas where it is grown. We must consider this big loss against the effect of this method of trying to control this menace. Much more effort could be spent in trying to produce a tobacco plant which has less tar content than that already used. A public health service study in the United States of America has referred to this possibility and said it was obvious that progressive reduction of tar and nicotine content of cigarette smoke would be of great assistance. My speech tonight has been based mainly on education. I conclude with a quotation from Pope, appropriately enough printed on today’s leaf of the desk calendar:
Tis education forms the common mind.
Just as the twig is bent, the tree’s inclined’.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, who would have thought that this Bill, this debate on the Broadcasting and Television Bill 1972, would have so exposed the fundamental differences between the Liberal and Country Parties which form the Government of Australia and the Australian Labor Party? It seems to have come right out of the mouths of Government supporters that they are grudgingly forced or prepared to concede this minor step forward. As they do it, under pressure, they apologise. Out of their own mouth they apologise continually to the people for what might be called the doctrine or principle of maximising profits. That is what they continually come back to. I do not think I can be called a johnny-come-lately in this problem. On 9th December last I gave notice of intention to present 2 Bills. One was a Bill for an Act to amend the Broadcasting and Television Act to prevent a licensee broadcasting or televising any advertisement promoting the sale or consumption of cigarettes and the other was a Bill for an Act to amend the Post and Telegraph Act to prevent the sending by post of any postal article which promotes the sale or consumption of cigarettes.
Let me hasten to add that I am loath and reluctant, by nature, to ban anything. I believe in maximising opportunities but when the evidence is overwhelming, as was stated in the second reading speech of the Minister, and the relationship of cigarette smoking with pulmonary and cardiovascular disease, including lung cancer, heart disease, chronic bronchitis and emphysema, is accepted beyond doubt by major international and Australian medical organisations, including the World Health Organisation and the National Health and Medical Research Council one must face facts. This evidence has been accepted even by this Government and notwithstanding all the pressures that have been on it from a number of sources it got around not to banning these advertisements but at least to issuing a warning. The Government, at this late stage has introduced an amendment which I believe to be of advantage. The Government wishes to substitute for the words ‘National Health and Medical Research Council’ the words ‘the Australian Government’ and so indicate that the Australian Government warns that smoking is a health hazard. I take it from that that the Australian Government accepts not that someone else has an opinion that it is a health hazard but that the Australian Government itself has that opinion and is of that opinion. There is no need for me to quibble about that - it is overwhelming. The problem is, what is to be done about it?
I shall not canvass points gone into by members from this side of the House and at least one member from the other side of the House except to say that there is hypocrisy in certain of the contributions made in this chamber tonight, particularly from the Government side, and I have already adverted to one or two of those aspects which suggest hypocrisy. Some members would have us believe that the only reason the Government does not ban advertisements is that in some way it is concerned with freedom of choice. What nonsense. So are we all concerned with freedom of choice, but freedom of choice for the consumer, freedom of choice for the man who is to buy a packet of cigarettes if he wants to, or the man who buys a motor car, a loaf of bread, a bar of chocolate, a Shirt or a suit. The way the Government has put this it is a freedom of choice not for the consumer but for the advertiser, the manufacturer of this toxic product. I should like to quote from the Minister’s second reading speech where he gave the reason for not banning or prohibiting. He said:
However this Government’s philosophy-
I have a philosophy quite different from that of the Government - rates very highly the freedom of individuals to decide for themselves within the broad framework of our democratic society, matters concerning their own well being.
No-one could quibble with that; certainly I do not. The Minister continued:
Accordingly it is not recognised as a role of this Government to impose prohibitions on people’s freedom of choice except for the most compelling national reasons
I accept that completely. But there is a note of hypocrisy lying behind it because when one looks at the facts to which it relates it is completely inapplicable. It is mumbo jumbo; intellectual garbage intended to cloak a desire to protect manufacturers of cigarettes because the Government does not want to offend them.
Any number of examples of where the Government has banned advertising can be given but I will content myself with mentioning 2 tonight out of consideration for the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James). In this day and age where great pressures on the community are being exposed everywhere - one does not have to be a follower of Ehrlich to accept that the population explosion is causing untold misery in the world - the Government persists in banning the advertising of family planning services and persists in banning the advertising of contraceptives or contraceptive devices, the pill and all the rest of them. Anyone who has had the experience of sitting in this Parliament over the last 12 months or so knows that petitions are presented almost every day demanding that these bans on the advertising of these products and on family planning services be taken off the statute book. The Government proudly says: ‘We do not believe in banning anything*. What rubbish! It bans things all the time if they do not suit the Government’s convenience. The nearest example I can lay my hands on is section 46 (5.) of the Pharmacy Ordinance of the Australian Capital Territory. If the Government wants to be honest and consistent it should remove the bans on things like that which really count.
The final point I want to make is that the Government even bans the advertising of ideas. The most recent example of this is the well known and much publicised ‘Little Red Schoolbook’. The Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) to his credit allowed it into the country. But what happened after that? Senator Cotton in the Senate, embarrassed I suppose by a lack of enthusiasm and by critics of the Government and yielding to the forces which lie behind this Government, announced:
However, the Government is concerned with some aspects of the book and is disturbed that it may be distributed and used in schools. lt is intended to be used in schools. It is aimed at the school market. It is aimed at secondary school children. The Government allows it into the country and it is on sale here. But this hypocritical Government comes out and says that it is disturbed that it may be distributed and used in schools. How hypocritical can it get? Senator Cotton continued:
The Commonwealth will therefore take appropriate action to exercise its influence and authority to prevent the book’s distribution and use in schools under its control. It hopes that State governments will do likewise.
In other words it brings the enormous authority of this now discredited Government to bear wherever it can lay its hands. It bans the advertising of ideas, probably the most exciting and stimulating thing a community can have; and in the area 6f family planning it also bans the propagation of ideas. Yet it comes along here in relation to a poison and says: ‘We will not ban the advertising of that poison’.
– I have no wish to cover the ground which was very adequately and effectively covered by the first speaker for the Government, the honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Hamer). He showed clearly that smoking is a major health hazard and that most of the responsible health organisations of the world support that view. It is a fact that most advanced countries have already either placed a complete ban on radio and television advertising of cigarettes or have severely restricted such advertising. I speak tonight only to emphasise my complete support for the legislation and in doing so I do not delude myself into believing that the Bill will greatly influence, if it influences at all, confirmed smokers and cause them to changes habits which they have developed over a long period of time. However, if the legislation can be responsible for convincing young people that smoking is a health hazard and that they should not smoke, it -will be well worth while. I agree that no-one can claim with certainty that smoking causes either heart disease or lung cancer but there is an abundance of expert medical opinion and statistics to indicate that smokers are much more susceptible to and much more likely to contract these diseases than are non-smokers.
The latest figures which I was able to obtain from the Legislative Research Section of the Parliamentary Library are figures put out by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics. They show that in 1970 nearly 40,000 Australians died from heart disease and 3,244 from lung cancer. It is generally conceded that anythink which can be done to reduce these figures should be done by any responsible government. I believe it is a fact that heart disease in 1970 accounted for 30 per cent of all deaths in Australia and these figures are steadily rising. I believe also that heart disease is the biggest single cause of deaths in Australia and that the Australian figures are typical of most developed countries. Quite a lot of arguments have been advanced on medical and ethical grounds but we are concerned here with the raising and spending of revenue. The pure economic arguments which should influence members of Parliament are all in favour of banning cigarette advertising on radio and television. Let us look at figures in relation to this. There is a tremendous amount of time lost through absenteeism and hospitalisation 01 those who have contracted illnesses caused by smoking. This is tied up with a tremendous loss in wages, a consequential loss of production and loss to the gross national product. To the cost to the community of hospitalisation we can add the cost of paying widows’ pensions to a great many women much earlier than they would have received them had their husbands not died of heart disease or lung cancer attributable in a very large measure to smoking. To those items we can add the loss of revenue from taxation because of reduced earnings.
For all these losses the taxpayer foots the bill. At present he pays nearly SO per cent of the cost of advertising by cigarette manufacturers because advertising is a legitimate business expense and company tax being at present 47i per cent means that revenue forfeits nearly SO per cent of the cost of company advertising on smoking. In addition this money which could be used for paying greatly increased rates of social service benefits to deserving people helps to create more candidates for hospitalisation, more candidates for invalid pensions who produce less and consequently contribute less to revenue. So it is a vicious circle and the economic arguments are in favour of this ban or restriction on radio and television advertising. Some people have asked why the Government has singled out radio and television advertising. I believe there are 2 main reasons. The first is that the Federal Government exercises complete control over advertising on radio and television but it has limited control over advertising through other media. The most important reason in my opinion is that this legislation is designed to assist young people to decide against smoking. Of advertising in all the media, television advertising creates the greatest impression on children and adolescents. When television advertisements are glamorous, as they are now, young people are much more attracted to the product being advertised than they are by advertisements in newspapers or magazines. For the reasons I have given I support the Bill. In conclusion I am authorised to say on behalf of the Government that the Government is not prepared to accept the Opposition’s amendment.
– On 5th February this year there was a sub-editorial in the ‘Medical Journal of Australia’ referring to the great number and length of questions placed on notice in this House relating to cigarette advertising. I think that is the sort of pressure that has moved this Government to act. I was mentioned perhaps more often than others in the list of questions given in that journal, but I am given 5 minutes in which to speak on this subject, although the Government says that it is interested in educating people about the hazards of cigarette smoking. In these 5 minutes I can refer only briefly to a few matters that have been raised in the debate.
The honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Hamer) could not refrain from attacking the Australian Labor Party. He said that Labor’s policy of banning all advertising of cigarettes and tobacco was a sham because South Australia had not imposed such a ban. I want to refer to an answer that was given to me on 20th August last year by the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson). I had asked him whether the Victorian Health Minister had given an excuse in December 1970 for not implementing the law in that State, which was 12 months old, to provide warnings on cigarette packets. The reason he gave was that the implementation of such a law would break down the Federal principle. I asked the Minister whether he would consult with the States to clarify the relative roles in this matter. The Minister said:
The Commonwealth’s view is that when legislation . . . has been enacted in all States, the Commonwealth will enact similar legislation . . .
As we have heard during the debate tonight, it has taken 7 to 10 years, during which time very convincing medical and technical evidence has been given about the hazards of cigarette smoking, to persuade the Commonwealth Government now at this late hour, just before an election, to change its attitude and to say: ‘We will not wait for the States’. The honourable member for Isaacs had the temerity to accuse the South Australian Government, which represents a very small percentage of the people in Australia, of not doing something in this direction.
I agree with honourable members on both sides of the chamber who have said that a policy of directing education about cigarette smoking towards the young is important if we are going to reduce the consumption of cigarettes. The PostmasterGeneral (Sir Alan Hulme) in his second reading speech and in Press statements has referred to what the Government has done about this question. He said in his second reading speech that the announcement about the warning - to use his own words - ‘is to avoid any element of ridicule, irony or humour’. In other words, it will be a dead pan announcement. It will have no emo tional impact, although it is supposed to convince people not to smoke cigarettes. Is not the whole idea of advertising to stimulate an emotional response? If we want to do anything about this matter, we should use advertising techniques which ridicule smoking. We should use irony against smoking. We should use the commercial type advertisements which are made by the anti-smoking people, at their own expense; they do not receive any government subsidy. Although we subsidise tobacco growers - even some in my own electorate - we cannot subsidise the people who are doing what the Government says it wants to do, that is, to spend a bit of money on educating people not to smoke.
The honourable member for Henty (Mr Fox) said that we have to use a bit of glamour in order to appeal to the young people if we want to convince them on any issue. This is exactly what the cigarette advertisers are doing. They are painting a glamorous picture of world travel and are using a sophisticated sporting setting. Yet the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett) had the hide to say that we should appeal to the broadcasters; that they have shown themselves to be responsible and they will co-operate.
– They have.
– Yes, they have co-operated. They have complied to the letter of the law of the voluntary restrictions which say that they must not use models under 25 years of age and so on. They have followed these voluntary restrictions to the letter of the law. Nevertheless we are shown a parachutist coming down out of the sky, hopping into a nice, fast sports car with a glamorous girl - probably a blonde - and then lighting a cigarette.
– What is wrong with that?
– The Minister asks: ‘What is wrong with that?’ And he smiles. There is a great emotional response from honourable members opposite, but it is not because of my oratory; it is because glamour is appealing to them. It tickles their fancy and gets under their skin. The second rate version of the advertisement that I am giving to them verbally has the same reaction on them as they get when they see the advertisements on television and decide to light up a smoke. They picture themselves in their minds floating off with a blonde through the great blue yonder.
The Government has said that it will spend $500,000 a year for the next 3 years on educating people about the hazards of cigarette smoking. That sounds a lot of money, but what are the tobacco companies spending? Two or three years ago they were spending $12.5m a year on advertising. The Government will spend on advertising one-twentyfifth of what the tobacco companies were spending on advertising, and 1 am including all advertising - not just advertising on television and radio. The Government thinks that it will make an impact by the expenditure of $500,000 a year. The Government received $240m from excise on cigarettes two or three years ago, but it proposes to spend $500,000 a year on educating people about the hazards of cigarette smoking. It is prepared to spend one-four hundred and eightieth part of the revenue which it receives from excise on cigarettes to educate people about the damage the Government is causing by supporting the tobacco industry.
I am sorely tempted to go further but I have already exceeded 5 minutes. I submit to the discipline of the House for the sake of other honourable members on my side of the chamber who wish to speak in this debate.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I recommend that an extension of time be granted to the honourable member for Capricornia.
– The honourable member for Hunter will resume his seat.
– With great respect to the honourable member Hunter (Mr James), we have all agreed to speak for only 5 minutes. 1 know that as one gets older life gets more difficult. I want to say only one or two things about this matter largely as a result of some of the comments that have been made by my friends and colleagues on the other side of the House. The honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) suggested that we should nationalise all the television stations in order to be able to control absolutely and utterly advertising in relation to smoking and presumably other commodities that are produced in this country and provided for those free citizens of this country who may wish, on their own judgment, to buy them. We, as a free enterprise Government, are completely opposed to the nationalisation of great media facilities of this description. I should have thought that the honourable member for Wills would have been aware of that, but that is a clear indication of the line of thought that characterises socialists.
From time to time even governments become involved with effective advertising, and 1 believe that this is a classic illustration of that fact. I listened to my colleague, the honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham), talk about heart disease. My friend, the honourable member for Henty (Mr Fox), also referred to it. I have noticed it has been said that heart disease is the greatest single killer within Australia. But nobody has told me about the ages of those people who die from cardiovascular degeneration. The inference is that if nobody in Australia smoked, cardiovascular degeneration would be substantially reduced. I want to make it clear to my honourable and gallant friend, the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme) who is sitting at the table, that I have never heard such utter bunkum in all my life. I have every reason to believe that cardiovascular degeneration is associated with the number of years that one has lived on the earth. The claim that it is due to the fact that one has been smoking cigarettes is, to my mind, unexplained, unproved and without relationship to what scientists call established fact.
Turning to the question of the content of advertising which is covered in this Bill, I have noted that, with a certain subtlety, those who advise the Government have managed to arrange for warnings to be given on short advertising notices, which makes it substantially apparent to any person at all who has been connected with this type of industry in Australia that there will be no value in tobacco companies advertising on television. Obviously it is quite hypocritical to suggest to people that they should recommend a particular commodity and in the next 5 seconds destroy the integrity of their recommendation. I have been interested and fascinated with these histrionics, as I regard them, because I hold the view that there is no established scientific evidence on this earth to substantiate the validity of the Minister’s comment:
The relationship of cigarette smoking with pulmonary and cardiovascular disease, including lung cancer, heart disease, chronic bronchitis and emphysema, is accepted beyond doubt by major international and Australian medical organisations including the World Health Organisation and the National Health and Medical Research Council.
With certain variations 1 should like to reread that statement thus:
The relationship between the drinking of water with pulmonary and cardiovascular disease, including lung cancer, heart disease, chronic bronchitis and emphysema, is accepted beyond doubt by major international and Australian medical organisations, including the World Health Organisation and the National Health and Medical Research Council.
I believe I can stand here and say that it is established beyond all reasonable doubt that all people who suffer from these misfortunes of health drink water. I want to make it quite clear that there is a definite scientific relationship between what I have said, which is of approximately the same measure of scientific integrity, and that comment of the Minister. This is the point I wish to make. In the electorate of North Sydney I have no abundance of tobacco growers. I have no abundance of tobacco manufacturers or producers.
– But you have no abundance.
– I can regard that interjection only as a compliment to my recent diet. While it is perfectly true that the Australian Government has been reacting as governments throughout the world have been reacting to a series of pressures, fascinating as those pressures are they represent what might be called a hysterical reaction to circumstances that are almost beyond belief. I find myself in this critical position: Of Scottish extraction I am unencumbered by those problems that do make great issues for later migrants for this country. My family has for more than 300 years been watching the English and honourable members know that if one watches the English for a long period of time one becomes supple in these appreciations. I make it clear that I take the view that this issue should not have been introduced to the Parliament until such time as there is, beyond all reasonable doubt, established evidence that can be put before the House. I will accept it only when the Minister for Health (Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson) rises in the other place and says, on the integrity and the professional capacity of a man equivalent to General Refshauge, ‘These are the facts of life’ and this, so far, has not been done.
– I support the Opposition amendment. Beyond doubt a half baked measure is embodied in this Bill. This is allegedly a sincere attempt to do something about the problem of tobacco use and its effects on the quality of life of the average Australian today. If the Government really intended to reduce the consumption of tobacco, and with it the deaths from lung cancer, it would prohibit all tobacco advertising and promotion by whatever means possible. Some people, as evidenced by the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Graham), try to rationalise, justify and excuse the non-banning of tobacco advertising, particularly on television, by stating that where this has been done the death rate from and usage rate of tobacco has not fallen. I do not dispute this at all but the reason for this is that television advertising is only one of the many ways of promoting a product and, as happens in other fields of drug use, where one door is shut another door is opened. The banning of television or radio advertising is followed immediately by increased use, on a tremendous scale, of other advertising media, particularly the printed word in newspapers and magazines. This can be predicted in Australia, particularly since the Commonwealth Government has no power of control over newspaper, magazine or other printed advertising, including outdoor hoardings. So the banning of television advertising of tobacco, while being not even a half measure, represents a compromise with the tobacco industry and an ineffectual sop to the medical profession.
The Bill before us calls for warning statements - as if people read the warnings or have their behaviour patterns and habits changed by words and information alone. In other fields of drug control we know already that if people do read warning statements which conflict with their desires, emotions and pleasures, they ignore them. How stupid and naive does the Government believe the people, and in particular the medical profession, are to swallow this ineffectual measure the Government now proposes? How foolish is the Government if it believes that this measure will reduce agitation and pressure for something adequate to be done. How foolish we all would be if we thought that the Government’s policy is likely to have any effect upon the consumption of drugs by the next generation of young Australians. 1 turn now to some remarks passed by the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett) and in the limited time at my disposal I shall comment on what is termed the Government’s drug education programme. This explains, in my view, why the Government’s 2-year old national drug education programme has been a failure. If honourable members do not believe this I urge them to look at the drug arrest figures and the Customs Department’s drug seizure figures for the last 2 years. There has been an average increase of 100 per cent per annum in drug arrests throughout Australia and a recent haul of 300 grammes of smuggled heroin, sufficient for 30,000 doses of heroin if used pure and not unadulterated. The Government’s expenditure of $500,000 a year on drug education has failed to contain the abuse of LSD, marihuana, hashish, cocain and heroin because of the counter-influence of the increasing consumption of the social drugs - alcohol and tobacco - and the medical drugs, such as anti-depressants.
Some time ago the Government through the Commonwealth Department of Health removed restrictions on the prescribing of anti-depressants under the national health service. The result was an increase in the prescribed volume of these drugs of 87 per cent within a few months. What will foe the ultimate effect of this extra consumption on the consumption of LSD and marihuana? It seems ironic that on the one hand the Minister for Customs and Excise (Mr Chipp) is fighting a losing battle against drug smuggling while on the other hand the staff of the Minister for Health unconsiously and indirecly is encouraging the demand for drugs among our youth. It also seems ironic that on the one hand the tobacco industry spends, at a conservative estimate,$11m a year in educating people to take its drug while the Federal
Government profits from the tobacco trade to the tune of $240m a year and then spends $500,000 a year, which is one-quarter of one per cent of the profits from excise, trying to educate the people of Australia particularly the young people, away from such drugs as LSD, marahuana, hashish and heroin. What a scandal! Have we any assurance that the Government’s proposal for anti-tobacco education will be handled more effectively, more honestly, more generously and more efficiently? I seriously doubt it. I regret that on a matter of such importance speakers are obliged to limit their time to 5 minutes. I think it is reprehensible. Far greater time should have been made available to have enabled members to devote more time to this important public matter.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 2 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
After section 100 of the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942-1971 the following section is inserted: - “100a.- (1.) After a date to be fixed by Proclamation, a licensee shall cause each advertisement for cigarettes or cigarette tobacco broadcast or televised from his station to be followed immediately, as provided by this section, by the following statement: -
The National Health and Medical Research Council warns that cigarette smoking is dangerous to health.’ “(2.) If the advertisement is in a language other than English, the statement shall be made in that other language. “(3.) In the case of a televised advertisement-
shall be in bold face capitals;
– At the end of proposed new section 100a (1.) these words appear:
The National Health and Medical Research Council warns that cigarette smoking is dangerous to health.’
Earlier I had circulated to honourable members an amendment which I had proposed to move and which would have deleted those words and inserted in lieu thereof the words:
The Australian Government warns that smoking is a health hazard.’
Since that proposed amendment was circulated the honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Hamer) has circulated a proposed amendment which seeks to insert the words ‘Medical authorities warn that smoking is a health hazard.’ I believe that the amendment foreshadowed by the honourable member for Isaacs is preferable to the one which I had intended to move. J believe that the words which are at present in this part of the Bill place the responsibility on an Australian organisation. I do net under any circumstance denigrate the authority of the National Health and Medical Research Council. But I think that honourable members and the public will appreciate that there is a broad area of medical opinion throughout the world on the question of smoking and its effect on health. The amendment I had proposed to move was based on that proposition but I believe that the warning is better expressed in the terms used in the amendment to be moved by the honourable member for Isaacs. Also in relation to clause 3 of ‘he Bill, it has been suggested that the period of time in which the announcement is made in regard to the warning should be reduced from not less than 5 seconds to not less than 3 seconds in view of the number of words which are now proposed to be used in the warning announcement. We believe that a period of not less than 3 seconds is more appropriate in view of the changed wording that we believe will be accepted.
– An amendment standing in my name has already been circulated to honourable members. I move:
In proposed section 100a. - (I.) omit ‘The National Health and Medical Research Council warns that cigarette smoking is dangerous to health.’, insert ‘Medical authorities warn that smoking is a health hazard.’.
My reason for moving this amendment is that many medical authorities other than the National Health and Medical Research Council have publicly pointed out that cigarette smoking is dangerous to health and I think that this amendment is both more accurate and more succinct. In trying to get the message over to people who watch television and who listen to radio it is important that the message should be succinct. For that reason I have moved the amendment.
In regard to the amendment which was earlier proposed to be moved by the PostmasterGeneral in relation to reducing the warning announcement period from 5 seconds to 3 seconds-
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - Order! I suggest that the amendments be dealt with separately.
– The Opposition will oppose the amendment moved by the honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Hamer) which affects section 100a of the Broadcasting and Television Act. This amendment proposes that the proposed new section should now read
Medical authorities warn that smoking is a health hazard.’ In support of his proposition the honourable member for Isaacs has said that this is a more succinct way of putting across the message to the people. I would not dispute for one moment that the message needs to be succinct but it also has to have an impact. I would suggest that if we accept this amendment it would lessen the impact because to me the original phraseology which read The National Health and Medical Research Council warns that cigarette smoking is dangerous to health’ is succinct. I think also that that phraseology is emphatic. I think thai it would have an effect. But if we substitute the terminology which is now envisaged in the amendment which has been moved it will lessen the dramatic impact of the message. 1 agree that it will shorten the message but it will lessen the dramatic impact of it because my experience is that viewers’ reactions to a warning by the use of the words ‘Medical authorities warn that smoking is a health hazard’ would not be as great as they would to the words now contained in the Bill. You cannot have your cake and eat it.
In the original proposition the Government is saying that smoking is dangerous to health. I will not go into an exercise on semantics but 1 suggest to the Government in all seriousness that the very word ‘dangerous’ is far more emphatic, far more dramatic and far more arresting than is the word ‘hazard’. On those grounds the Opposition will oppose this amendment.
– I support the amendment moved by the honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Hamer) and I congratulate him on what I consider to be a distinct improvement in the overall wording of proposed new section 100a (1.) compared with the words contained in the amendment which had earlier been proposed, but which has now been withdrawn, by the Postmaster-General. Personally I would have preferred similar wording to that which will be required to be placed on the labels of cigarette packets and that wording is ‘Warning - smoking is a health hazard’. But I am quite happy with the terms of the amendment moved by the honourable member for Isaacs. I agree also with the proposed amendment to reduce the announcement time from 5 seconds to 3 seconds because I think that this is just common sense. There will be a more succinct warning with fewer words.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - Order! The Committee is dealing only with the first amendment at this stage.
– I accept that ruling. 1 just repeat that I support the amendment.
– I am the first to confess that I do not know a great deal about the first amendment which had earlier been foreshadowed or the second amendment which has been moved by the honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Hamer). I was impressed by the comments of my colleague the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Sherry) who, as all honourable members know, is very experienced in the art of the media and he is probably experienced in the art of smoking for all I know, so in several aspects he can claim to have some expertise in regard to this matter. It seems to me - and I need to claim a little licence here - that there is a steadfast diminution of the high ideals about this whole proposal. First of all, we started off with a suggestion that the National Health and Medical Research Council would be referred to as the warning body. It is a highly respected authority. No-one in this House would disparage that Council, which has rendered great service to the Minister for Health and to the nation at large.
Why is it that the Government wants to move away from the initial proposal in the Bill? The Postmaster-General wants to use the reputation and prestige of the Australian Government to impress the young people of this country about the hazards of smoking. When you get to the stage where the Government is at the bottom of the barrel in public prestige, when the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) of this country can command about only 25 per cent of the votes, according to the gallup polls, it seems to me that this Government has not got its heart in discouraging people from smoking. Obviously the Minister’s first proposal was the sensible one because the National Health and Medical Research Council is a high status, highly respected public authority which is not cluttered up in any way with the trappings of government, the degeneration of Government parties or anything else. Young people would probably respond to the prestigious elements and characteristics associated with that body. We might as well say: ‘Billy McMahon tells the young people of Australia not to smoke’. How effective would that be? It is well known how the Prime Minister stands with young people. He is unprepared to give them a vote.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - Order! I think the honourable gentleman is getting a little wide of the clause.
– I am sorry if I am. I certainly was not intending to. It seems to me most undesirable that the Minister should bring about this watering down of the prestigious backing up of the advertisements with which we will be inundated. Today there is a high incidence of advertising. The Minister probably knows how many times we will hear this warning each day. Would it be SO times or 70 times a day? Does the Government want to use this technique to advertise itself, to give the impression that it is really interested in eliminating lung cancer and cigarette smoking by saying that the Australian Government warns that smoking is a health hazard? If it is trying to give that impression, it is obviously a false impression to give, because there are so many other things the Government could do quite effectively if it was as concerned as other countries are about discouraging young people from smoking.
Then we have the other proposed wording of the warning, which I know I cannot talk about at length. But in the context of what I am saying, there is this sequence of events. The original proposal was that the warning should refer to the National Health and Medical Research Council, and then it was to mention the Australian Government. Now there is a projected amendment referring to medical authorities warning that smoking is a health hazard. I know that I cannot speak about that, but just how far would we go with young people if we tried to give them the impression that the warning came from the medical profesion or the Australian Medical Association, which commanded the headlines tonight because the doctors want more money. If we start to give the impression that they are behind this, people will think that there is something crook about the whole business. Obviously the Minister was on the right tack in the first place. He is now trying to get the Government into the act. I think he would do much better to leave the matter in the hands of an authority which will stand the test of time, and an honest and irreproachable body such as the National Health and Medical Research Council. I am not sure whether I can refer even to the amendment of the honourble member for Isaacs, but he was talking about cigarette smoking being dangerous to health.
– I take a point of order merely for explanation. If the honourable member had been listening he would have known that I did not proceed with my suggested amendment. I deferred to the honourable member for Isaacs. Therefore before the Committee is the proposal that medical authorities issue the warning, not the Government and not the National Health and Medical Research Council.
– I thank the Minister for putting the position into sharp relief because I was not concentrating as hard as I should have been on the matter. The fact of the matter is that I cannot separate some reference to the projected or supplementary amendment of the honourable member for Isaacs. I think it is a great tragedy if he is to commence talking about medical authorities instead of the prestigious National Health and Medical Research Council. I should also like to know why the Minister is exuberant, as apparently he is, about eliminating the reference to smoking being dangerous. This seems to imply a very half-hearted effort on the part of the Government. It obviously wants to water down the impact of the warning. It has to make up its mind. Is the Government interested in discouraging young people from smoking or not? I noticed today some of the lobbyists from the great tobacco companies around the lobbies and corridors of Parliament House. We hear of political slush funds. I do not know where the money goes. It is strange that the first warning proposed by the Government was to be backed by a very significant public authority and that all of a sudden there was this steadfast degeneration in 2 phases until we finally get to the stage that the Government is not even prepared to tell young people that smoking is dangerous. I ask the Minister to get up at some stage of the debate and explain why he has taken that wording out and why he is starting to relegate this whole matter to a warning from the medical profession rather than a public authority that commands the respect of this country.
– Briefly, the Opposition supports the proposal as put forward in proposed new section 100a of the Bill, namely, that the warning statement should read:
The National Health and Medical Research Council warns that cigarette smoking is dangerous to health.
There are a couple of reasons for our taking this view, but they are important ones. First of all 1 think it is very important to identify a responsible and public body that is accepting the responsibility to declare to the public that cigarette smoking ls dangerous to health. The National Health and Medical Research Council is well respected in the community. It is an organisation of some prestige, as for example is the Surgeon-General in the United States of America, whose statements on health matters are regarded as significant statements and ones to be acknowledged as most likely to be correct and not special pleading. 1 would submit to the Committee that the prestigious standing of the National Health and Medical Research Council casts it in a similarly eminent role to perform this function.
My next submission is that it is potentially dangerous and open to misrepresentation to quote that medical authorities warn that smoking is a health hazard, because it will open up a never ending debate. There are some medical authorities, no doubt of questionable standing, who say that smoking is not a hazard to health Recently a medical gentleman arrived in this city with carton of cigarettes in his hip pocket and smoking profusely not only to indicate that he did not believe that smoking is a health hazard but also to demonstrate the firmness of his belief in this respect. This is too vague and uncertain. There is nothing prestigious about medical authorities. This is a sort of anonymous group. Who the hang are the medical authorities and what is their standing? There is no comparability between the standing of unidentified medical authorities and the very clear and prestigious standing of the National Health and Medical Research Council. That is why we support retention of the reference to that body.
There is a feeling on this side of the chamber, and I share in it to a considerable extent, that we are watering down the statement when we change it from a warning that cigarette smoking is dangerous to health to a warning that smoking is a health hazard. The statement as proposed in the Bill presented by the Minister is clear and unequivocal. It draws on the support of an eminent public authority in the community and one whose publications are highly respected. I remind the Minister that when I spoke in the House today I quoted from a number of the reports of the National Health and Medical Research Council, which has stated quite definitely that cigarette smoking is a danger to health, that it is in fact related to morbidity and certainly related to a serious illness such as lung disease. We support proposed new section 100a in its original form, and we will not support the amendment proposed by the honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Hamer).
– At first glance there appears to be substance in the amendment moved by the honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Hamer) but when one considers what he intends to do to the Bill one must only support the attitude of the Labor Party spokesman on this issue. I speak quite impartially. I am a nonsmoker. So honourable members can see that on this issue I can speak as one who really believes in the health of the community. As honourable members look at my glowing health they will realise what smoking does to a lot of the Liberals we see as we sit opposite. Clause 3 of the Bill proposes to insert the following:
After a date to be fixed by Proclamation, a licensee shall cause each advertisement for cigarettes or cigarette tobacco broadcast or televised from his station to be followed immediately, as provided by this section, by the following statement:
The National Health and Medical Research Council warns that cigarette smoking is dangerous to health.’
The honourable member for Isaacs wishes to delete those last words and insert the following words:
The Australian Government warns smoking is a health hazard.
Why the devil would any Australian take any notice of the present Liberal Party Government?
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - Order! The suggested wording is: Medical authorities warn that smoking is a health hazard’.
– That is right, and the honourable member wishes to insert: The Australian Government warns smoking is a health hazard’.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- No.
– The amendment states:
Omit ‘The National Health and Medical Research Council warns that cigarette smoking ‘a dangerous to health’, insert ‘The Australian Government warns smoking is a health hazard’.
– A point of order, Mr Deputy Chairman. The honourable member for Grayndler is quoting the wrong amendment. He is not quoting the one moved and the one before the Committee.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Yes. I have endeavoured to point out to the honourable member for Grayndler that the amendment moved by the honourable member for Isaacs is to insert the words: Medical authorities warn that smoking is a health hazard’.
– Are we not dealing with clause 3, page 2?
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Yes, we are, but a new amendment has been circulated. The Postmaster-General did not proceed with his proposed amendment and the honourable member for Isaacs moved an amendment which has superseded the projected Government amendment.
– Of course, this Government changes its amendments like it changes its policies, so honourable members in this Parliament cannot be expected to keep up with it. I have long given up trying to keep up with the Government. Fortunately, nobody in the electorate can either, so the Government will not be here much longer. I support the honourable member for Oxley (Mr Hayden) on this question. I think that the authorities named in the Bill are much more prestigious than those suggested by the honourable member and I see no reason why they should be changed. If this was such a good idea, why did the honourable member not put it up in his Party room? I think that in the Parliament tonight we are being asked to support a minority of one in the Liberal Party to change the structure of this Bill. Perhaps the honourable member for Isaacs will tell the Parliament whether he was courageous enough, in the face of that dominating Prime Minister (Mr McMahon), to move this amendment to the Bill in the Party room or whether he has brought it in here in a courageous display for his electorate of his independence in the Parliament of the country. I think that this is what one would call shadow sparring or limelighting in order to give the impression to his electorate that he is an independent person who will bring to this Parliament his views irrespective of what the Party thinks.
So perhaps the honourable member for Isaacs will tell us whether he put this up in the Party room. Was it rejected or accepted? Did he have any support from his own? I think he must have had a seconder because even the Liberals would not accept an amendment without a seconder, would they? The point of issue is that we on this side of the Parliament are now being asked to support an amendment moved by a Liberal member, and we do not know whether anybody but himself voted for it in his own Party room. It is too much to expect the nation to follow that line of action. That is why we on this side of the Parliament, without any vindictiveness but as a matter of sheer practical politics, ask: If the honourable member had support for this amendment why was it not included in the Bill when it was brought to the Parliament? I think that the Australian people might well take note of the fact that Liberal legislation, great or small, is never debated in the Party room. It is brought in by Cabinet and introduced to this Parliament. The honourable member for Isaacs - honest as he is, brilliant as he is, bright as he is - is never even consulted about what is going to be brought into the Parliament. That is one reason why we on this side of the Parliament might reject this amendment tonight.
The honourable member for Oxley has indicated that we cannot accept the amendment. I say quite bluntly that the authorities concerned in the Bill are much more representative and much more authoritative than those which the honourable member suggests. Despite the sleight of hand that has taken place in the changing of these amendments, regrettably we on this side of the Parliament must reject the amendment. No doubt the PostmasterGeneral (Sir Alan Hulme), who is at the table, has his own ideas on this. All the Liberals have different ideas, and one just does not know whom to follow. On this occasion 1 do not think we will follow the honourable member for Isaacs. Therefore we reject the amendment.
– I did not intend to speak in this debate. The Government is often criticised for regimentation. The honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Hamer) has moved an amendment which I believe is a very worthwhile one. I agree with it completely. I feel that the amendment will appeal to the public because it is short. It is more effective because of its shortness and it will be well accepted. I believe that it will serve a purpose. I am pleased to note that at least the honourable members on this side of the Chamber who spoke knew what they were talking about. The honourable member for Grayndler (Mr Daly) and the honourable member for Hughes (Mr Les Johnson) apparently did not know what they were talking about, because they were speaking about amendments not before the chamber, and they had to be corrected in their approach to the whole problem. I say that the honourable member for Isaacs is perfectly entitled in a democratic Parliament to move an amendment. This is the sort of democracy that the Government believes in. It does not stand over its members. I feel that the amendment is a good one. It is serving the purpose for which it was designed. I support it. I congratulate the honourable member for Isaacs for introducing this amendment.
– Noone has explained to me fully why this alteration has been mved. Is it because the amendment is supposed to be a little briefer? The honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Corbett) did not give any explanation either. The whole proposal in the Bill has reached the stage where it is almost valueless. What should be put on the boxes is ‘Cigarettes will probably give you lung cancer and heart disease’ or something that might have some impact. We have even had an argument put forward that advertising will have a pretty minimal effect anyhow. Now we have come down to this innocuous statement: Medical authorities warn that smoking is a health hazard’. Can honourable members imagine hundreds of thousands of people immediately dropping their cigarette packets and swearing to give up smoking, and young people being terriefied by that frightening little phrase?
We have heard some bleating from our friends over there about country radio stations. In my electorate there is a country radio station which is the most recently opened one in New South Wales - the first new such station in 17 years. I have great sympathy for it. If we are really fair dinkum why do we not spend on anti-smoking advertising on these radio stations and television stations some of the money received from excise? Then there would be no loss of income to them whatsoever. I wouldlike the PostmasterGeneral (Sir Alan Hulme) to give us some real explanation as to why he has accepted this innocuous amendment from the honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Hamer).
Motion (by Mr Giles) put:
That the question be now put.
The Committee divided. (The Deputy Chairman - Mr E. N. Drury)
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
That the amendment (Mr Hainer’s) be agreed to.
The Committee divided. [The Deputy Chairman - Mr E. N. Drury)
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
In proposed section 100A. - (4.), paragraph (a) omit ‘five’ insert ‘three’.
This amendment is consequential on that which has just been approved by the Committee. It reduces from 5 seconds to 3 seconds the period necessary for television and radio advertisements warning that cigarette smoking is hazardous to health. As a consequence of the number of words being reduced from 15 to 9, the time necessary for their delivery is reduced from 5 seconds to 3 seconds.
– The Opposition will oppose this amendment because, quite obviously, there is a link between this amendment to clause 3 and the previous amendment with which we have dealt. In the Bill as originally introduced clause 3 stated: the statement shall be spoken and the time occupied by its transmission shall be not less than 5 seconds.
The amendment which has been moved by the honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Hamer) proposes that this time be reduced to 3 seconds. I do not object to or find anything wrong with the honourable member’s proposition that if the amount of wordage were reduced, consequently the amount of time needed to speak the announcement would be reduced. That makes sense to me. But, goodness me, what are we doing with this legislation?
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - Order! There is far too much audible conversation in the chamber.
– Thank you, Mr Deputy Chairman. Even if there is not very much interest in the House in this measure, I can assure you that I have some interest in it and intend to speak on it. Let us consider quite dispassionately the effect of 3 seconds of visual television transmission. What will be the impact of this 3 second period? This means virtually that the Government is introducing and encouraging subliminal advertising. I should like to make another point in relation to this matter and in doing so I mean no disrespect to the honourable member for Isaacs. It seems to me to be an extraordinary turn of events at this stage of the legislation and at this stage of the evening for the Government to be so desperate about its legislation that it wants to emasculate it. The Government is so ashamed of its amendment that it has been introduced by a back bench member and not by the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme).
I suggest in all sincerity that if this announcement is reduced to 3 seconds, by the time a person turns his head or blinks his eyes it will have achieved no impact at all. This is an absurdity. If the Government wants to ruin the legislation that it has introduced, this is the perfect way to do it. The Government is hypocritical and is not going through with the original measure that it had in mind. It is quite irresponsible to introduce an amendment of this nature which will reduce the time of the announcement to 3 seconds on a television screen. Any body experienced in this medium will tell the Government and will concur with me that a 3-seconds announcement will not be effective. The Government maintains that it is trying to get a message across to the people of Australia and that it is trying to convince them and point out to the youth of this country that smoking cigarettes is dangerous, yet it now proposes to reduce the time allotted for this message to 3 seconds of subliminal advertising. It is an absurdity which should not be tolerated and the Opposition rejects it.
– The honourable member for Franklin (Mr Sherry) has made quite a deal out of the amendment which has been moved tonight by the honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Hamer). My comments will be very short and sweet. So far as I am concerned, if this Bill is to be worth anything it should ban all forms of cigarette advertising. I have been in the United States where cigarette packets carry the warning that cigarette smoking will be hazardous to health. Smokers, including myself, did not cease tearing off the sealing strip and lighting up. Whilst we may be subjected to that type of warning in the future, one will have only to open a glossy magazine to see advertisements for different brands of cigarettes. I predict that cigarette advertisements in magazines will be greatly increased because the cigarette companies, which are so reliant upon promotion- like any organisation - will simply rechannel their advertising funds. If we were really fair dinkum about this matter we would stamp out all cigarette advertising. That is all I have to say.
– The amendment which has been moved refers to the time to be taken to announce a statement that cigarette smoking is a hazard. The original wording has been watered down to the word ‘hazard’, which we have accepted with protest, and this has been one of the excuses that have been used for reducing the time allotted to the warning. Apart from the aspect raised by the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Sherry) that this is getting close to the ridiculous position of a subliminal advertisement, there is another feature that should be emphasised. The whole object of this statement is to convey a warning which will be educational. In his speech, the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme) said that the main aim of the Government is the education of the young people of this country. Surely that is the whole object of this 3 second or 5 second warning.
However, the Government has allowed much more than 3 seconds or 5 seconds when other goods are advertised. I shall mention them briefly. For instance, in the matter of the use of motor cars, we do not object to the compulsory use of seat belts, although this interferes with the freedom of the individual. Yet the PostmasterGeneral said that it was not the role of the Government to impose prohibitions on people’s freedom of choice. But we have come around. We have been conditioned and educated to accepting that we should impose on the freedom of individuals and decide for them matters concerning their own wellbeing. We recognise that it is not just their own wellbeing but in fact everyone’s wellbeing that is related to this warning. We must get across to the people that it is not just a danger to themselves but it is a danger to others who depend upon them for a livelihood and will be left wanting should they die from one of these illnesses. Three seconds is an absurd space of time in which to get this sort of education across to the people. Another example is the advertising of other drugs.
On 1.7th November last the Minister for Health spoke about another drug not nearly as important as the one we are discussing tonight, but on that occasion the Government went a lot further than requiring a 3-second warning. The Government actually prevented a company using a specific word which was in fact true. I refer to a statement released on 17th November last regarding the advertising of a stimulant drug in which the Minister said he deplored the use of the term ‘stimulant’ applied to a drug known as Stimovite Plus. When I asked the Minister whether there was a stimulant drug in the product be said yes. When 1 asked whether it was caffein, he again said yes. Of course, caffein is a stimulant present in coffee and tea and the Minister said he deplored it because it might be habit forming. I asked the Minister would he take similar action against the advertising of coffee and tea. That is the sort of nonsense we must put up with. When there is no lobby concerned as in the case of Stimovite Plus all sorts of clamps can be put on it, a relatively harmless drug that children eat and drink and buy freely. Yet on this occasion the Government is prepared to water the restriction down from 5 seconds to 3 seconds. The term stimulant’ applied to caffein is medically accurate. The term ‘health hazard’ is a watered down term and that is why we are being asked to reduce the time of the warning.
I should like to refer to various other things that are allowed to be advertised such as armaments and censorship, a subject mentioned earlier in the night. Censorship is something in which the Government is very active. In this House there is a lobbyist for the tobacco companies. No doubt he will receive his payoff for this achievement. Some of the money the companies save on the cutting down of the warning by a couple of seconds in radio and television advertising will no doubt boost his income. Another drug which the Government has banned, not only in advertising but also in distribution, possession and use, is marihuana. We have heard many arguments why every kind of restriction should be put on this drug, and 1 agree that it should be restricted. However, those same arguments apply equally - in fact more strongly - to tobacco. Yet the restriction previously proposed is to be watered down. Every amendment brought forward by the Government is watered down. The Government is being pressured. Talking to the Government are profits and not people.
– I should like to say something in opposition to the amendment. As my colleague the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Sherry) said, it makes a sham of the legislation introduced by the Government. It limits the advertising against cigarettes to a mere 3 seconds. Of course, this is consistent with the whole attitude of this Government with regard to radio and television. The Government is a lackey to special interest groups. It is particularly a lackey to the media, and always has been. When one looks at the multi-media combinations in Australia - I have been paying particular attention to them - one realises that no other country would stand for those multimedia combinations as we do. In the United States of America the Federal Communications Commission busted the newspaper and television monopolies but this Government has done nothing in that direction. A couple of months ago the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme) introduced legislation into this House to extend the provisions of the Broadcasting and Television Act so that a Labor Government on taking office at the end of this year would not be able to interfere with the provisions of licences granted to television companies or radio companies during what is expected to be Labor’s first 3 years of office. I assure the Government that ingenuity will not cease and Labor will at least attempt to break up the multi-media combinations.
It is well known that the Labor Party owns a number of radio stations and to prove our good faith we will move amendments to ban all cigarette advertising on radio and television, thereby denying revenue to companies that we own ourselves. Labor is prepared to do this. On the other hand, the Government is not even prepared to allow a reasonable sort of advertisement on television indicating the evils of cigarette smoking. That is typical of the attitude of this Government. A couple of weeks ago we saw the Government lackeying to Ansett interests against Thomas Nationwide Transport Ltd. We have seen the Government lackeying all the way through to special television interests. What is the Minister’s pecuniary interest in this? I understand - and no doubt he will correct me if I am wrong - that he was or still is a Director of Chandlers Ltd of Brisbane, a radio broadcasting company. That company would benefit to a major extent from cigarettte and tobacco advertising. No doubt if one were to look closely at the Government ranks one would find quite a lot of members holding pecuniary interests of this nature and it would be to their benefit to see cigarette advertising going to radio and television companies. It is time that an honest government had a look at radio and television in Australia and the government broke up the existing multi-media combinations so that there might be some fairness in the media of this country. It is worth repeating that the Australian Labor Party intends to give the Australian Broadcasting Commission, as part of its federal platform, a newspaper in each of the capital cities.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN- Order! I think the honourable gentleman is getting a little far from the subject of the amendment.
– Does Labor intend to socialise radio stations?
– Labor intends to break up the multi-media combinations and all the Government intends to do is keep the special interest groups lackeyed to - particularly the cigarette companies and tobacco companies - and keep the money pouring in to the radio and television industries. One does not need to be a genius to work this out. Any doctor will agree that many people who die from coronary occlusions and heart attacks die because of a high nicotine content in their system which, particularly in the winter months, restricts arteries to the point where people suffer these attacks. It may not be proved conclusively but the statistics certainly indicate that if people who suffer these attacks had been non-smokers the heart attack may not have taken place. The best thing that any reasonable Government can do is ban all cigarette and tobacco advertising. However, that would be the honest thing to do and this Government would not do it. This Government is the lackey of the special interest groups and they would not cop it. Money would not come into the compaign coffers and that is what it is all about in this election year, the first election in 23 years at which this Government looks like being defeated. I oppose the amendment. I think it makes a sham of the legislation and it reflects no credit on the Postmaster-General to accept this sort of amendment which obviously he has had one of his backbenchers move for him.
– Briefly I should like to try to bring the debate back to the amendment we are considering. This is not really the time for a second reading speech, of which we have had a reasonable number already. Let us look at what has happened up to this point. A little while ago we moved and passed an amendment, moved by the honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Hamer). That amendment, as the Committee knows now, substitutes for an amendment that was to be moved for a statement that medical authorities warn that smoking is a health hazard. That has been accepted. What we are now debating is not the merit of smoking cigarettes, as one or two members of this Committee seem to think, but rather whether clause 3 should be amended to insert the word three’ in place of the word ‘five’. What this clause says is that a statement shall be spoken and the time occupied by its transmission shall not be for less than 5 seconds. The amendment suggests that 3 seconds should be substituted for 5 seconds.
– As a minimum.
– That is so. I wish to point out to the Committee 2 things. The first is that all honourable members seem to ignore the fact that the provision is ‘not less than 5 or it may well be ‘not less than 3’ in a few minutes time. It does not mean that the warning has to be got over in 3 seconds. More than one speaker tonight has suggested very firmly that this is so. It is a signal and the whole of this clause is designed to ensure that the clarity of the signal is the object of the exercise and that the signal, whether it be on radio or television, should be for not less than 3 seconds.
If one wants to argue to a ridiculous extent one could say ‘not less than 30 seconds’, but when the Committee considers that the phrase we have just used should now be used in sound in those 2 mediums I do not think that any reasonable signal on television or radio would want to run for much more than 4± seconds. That is precisely what this clause aims to achieve. It seeks to ensure that nobody makes such an ass of the signal that it becomes less than 3 seconds and that is why I got to my feet tonight I think this point has been overlooked by the Committee. I do not mind people having views one way or the other but 1 think it is fair to make this point.
The only other thing 1 want to say is not directly related to this clause although one could connect it Briefly I want to take up the interjection made by the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) earlier in this debate and the reply to an interjection by the previous speaker, the honourable member for Blaxland (Mr Keating). I ask honourable members to take some cognisance of what was said for in both cases it was firmly implied that the attitude of the Australian Labor Party to the mass media is that the Australian Labor Party would nationalise all television stations.
– That is not true.
– It may well be untrue; I do not know. All I am doing is standing in my place and telling the truth. Two honourable members opposite tonight have said very firmly that the aim of the Labor Party is to nationalise all television stations.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - Order! The honourable member for Angas is getting away from the amendment before the Committee.
– 1 do not know whether this is ALP policy or not but if it is not those honourable members should take note of the policy. However, my reason for rising was to point out the necessity for the Committee to consider the phrase ‘not less than 3 seconds’ in relation to this clause.
– The Americans have a famous saying and that is: ‘Where there is smoke there is cancer’. I agree with it and I want to warn members of Parliament that if they are voting for this Bill they must do it in all due honesty. No Party at Federal or State level and no member or candidate of any party should take any money that the tobacco interests are prepared to spend in order to maintain their campaign, succeed in their campaign or in a continuation of a system where people can smoke if they like. I am opposed to the whole thing. I think that smoking even in the best of circumstances is a filthy habit and nobody should encourage it. Somebody has raised the question of nationalisation of television.
The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr Drury) - Order! I ask the right honourable gentleman to relate his remarks to the amendment
– 1 was led astray by the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) who said that the Australian Labor Party’s policy was to nationalise television stations. So it was, but the present Government altered our policy. The Australian Labor Party provided for nationalisation of television stations and the Government of which I was a member laid it down in legislation. I do not want to proceed any further on that other than to say that we in the Opposition are great nationalisers - banking, insurance and everything else - because we are socialists. I am not in favour of running away from anything. But to get back to smoking; smoking is a hazard. I hope we will do everything we can to influence the Australian people to abandon their smoking habit and not cultivate it. When this Bill comes to a vote I hope we will all act honestly and when the siren voices say to us: ‘You can get some money from us if you want provided you support our compaign*, I hope we will be like Ulysses and strap ourselves to the mast and refuse to be perverted.
– I hope the Government will pause here and have a long cold look at this proposal. We have accepted the amendment that medical authorities advise that smoking is dangerous to health. If it is dangerous to health, all we are arguing about is whether we should have 3 seconds or 5 seconds to tell the people about it.
– Not less than.
– Very well, but essentially 3 seconds or 5 seconds. If that is so it seems to me that we on the Government side are making asses of ourselves by insisting that 3 seconds is more important than 5 seconds. I would ask the Government to look at this. It has been sprung on us in a way I am inclined to resent and I do not think it is good enough for the Parliament. If we say smoking is bad - we all accept that it is bad for health; it is generally accepted that that is so - and we put a provision for a warning in the first part of the Bill, to say that the warning should be given only for 3 seconds and not for 5 seconds is not the kind of thing we should split the Parliament on, but I hope the Government will pause now and and have along cold look at the question. Frankly I do not like it.
Motion (by Sir Alan Hulme) put:
That the question be now put.
The Committee divided. (The Deputy Chairman - Mr E. N. Drury)
Majority .. ..6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the amendment (Mr Harrier’s) be agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Deputy Chairman - Mr E. N. Drury)
Majority . . . . 6
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill, as amended, agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments; report - by leave - adopted.
Motion (by Sir Alan Hulme) - by leave - proposed:
That the Bill be now read a third time.
– I want to make a few general remarks on the philosophy behind this Bill. The object and motivation of the Bill have been well canvassed during the earlier stages of the Bill. Tobacco, particularly in the form of cigarettes, is a killer drug. It is a product that has no redeeming features. There was a time when certain doctors recommended it for asthma, which is now found to be greatly aggravated by it. It was recommended also as a tranquilliser. I think most people who have taken up smoking and given it up again for this reason are pretty well convinced that it has the opposite effect in the long run. It is a temporary measure to which a person becomes addicted and cannot get by without it without suffering worse trouble. 1 stress that the Bill is a weak and puny attack on the problem. Even when the sentiments in the second reading speech of the Postmaster-General (Sir Alan Hulme) are conceded - mainly that education is the first priority - we must realise that that is a puny effort, too, because $500,000 is to be spent annually for 3 years by a government which is raking in $240m a year from the tobacco industry. That vas the 1969 figure and it is probably well over that now. Above all it is a puny attack <n the whole general health problem of the use of socially accepted drugs in this community. I draw attention particularly to alcohol which kills more people than tobacco, which ruins more homes than tobacco, which fills more accident beds in our hospitals than all the chest beds that are filled by tobacco and which fills more mental hospital beds than marihuana, tobacco and all the other drugs combined.
A quarter of a century ago we were taught by our lecturer in public health - I have no doubt it is still being taught by experts in this field - that tobacco is a third rate food, a second rate drug and a first rate poison. While I am not an advocate of banning people from taking third rate food .1 am an advocate for banning the advertising of it. While 1 am not one-
-Order! I remind the honourable member for Capriconia that a third reading debate is confined to the contents of the Bill and he cannot go beyond that. The opportunity for what he has been saying was during the second reading
– I will be guided by you, Mr Speaker. T regret that the concept of the Bill has been so narrow, that we are confined to the question of cigarettes, which is a very minor part of the problem, and I ask the Government to get cracking and not to take 10 years on the next step as it has taken 10 years for this very puny one. I ask it not to wait until there is a mounting cry from every research institute on cancer and every other disease that is concerned before it takes some action on this No. 1 health problem.
– I think it is a tragedy that the terminology of the original Bill - ‘The National Health and Medical Research Council warns that cigarette smoking is dangerous to health’ - was altered and those words eliminated; also that the time available to issue a warning was reduced. Although the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) tried to suggest that making the minimum time 3 seconds for stating the warning was not significant, making the minimum time 5 seconds was obviously insisting on a longer time, ft would be extremely difficult for the words contained in the warning to be delivered within 3 seconds. They will be meaningless if they are delivered in that time. I cannot understand why this provision was accepted. The Government began with a gesture which was to warn young people about the dangers to health of cigarette smoking. There has been no explanation why the provisions of the Bill have been watered down during the course of debate. All that we have seen has been the use of numbers, the use of the gag and the use of back bench members so that Ministers did not have to commit themselves. From this it will be seen that there is not really a sincere attempt to warn youth on the effects of tobacco use.
- Mr Speaker, in the same vein 1 want to say how disappointed and concerned I am at this evening’s course of events which I regard to be unprecedented during the period 1 have been in this Parliament. It is a bad indication of the shape of things to come. Concern was expressed by honourable members from both sides of the House, indeed by distinguished honourable members, about the change in the Government’s attitude to this question since its Party meeting today. One must speculate about the reasons for these changes. I do not think the House can discount the very serious situation which occurred this evening when Government supporters grouped together when this surprise was sprung upon them, trying to find some reason, some justification-
-Order! I do not want to be difficult but the fact is that during a third reading debate honourable members must confine their remarks to the contents of the Bill.
– I appreciate what you say, Mr Speaker. I express disappointment that the views expressed by the hon ourable member for Wakefield (Mr Kelly) - a distinguished member of this Parliament who occupies the position as Chairman of the Public Works Committee and who was a former Minister for the Government - in asking the Government to take another look at the Bill and not to force a vote were not heeded. This is a matter of great regret which brings into disrepute the attitude that the Government has pursued on this matter. I have stood simply to say that it is unparalleled in the history of this Parliament that there should be a reversal of policy on such a critical matter. This throws a dubious perspective over the whole proceedings.
– I think it is important that the people who are listening to the parliamentary broadcast this evening should know that the Bill as originally placed before the House has been so watered down that finally the ludicrous stage has been reached where provision has been made for a 3 seconds spot on television to warn of the dangers of cigarette smoking. Even the earlier proposed 5 seconds was not much. One needs only to think of how many words are proposed to be spoken in 3 seconds to realise what is involved. Three seconds represents almost a flick of the fingers. It seems to me that as proceedings have progressed this evening the Government needs only compound its hypocrisy by making sure that every managing director of every tobacco company in Australia receives a knighthood in the next Queen’s Honours List.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a third time.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate:
Dairying Industry Bill 1972.
Processed Milk Products Bounty Bill 1972.
Dairying Research Bill 1972.
Dairy Produce Sales Promotion Bill 1972.
Butter Fat Levy Bill 1972.
Dairy Research Levy Bill 1972.
Immigration - Commonwealth Police Force - Good Neighbour Movement - Tertiary Education: Provision of Facilities - Poverty in Australia - Australian Steel Industry.
Motion (by Mr Chipp) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
- Mr Speaker, this is the speech that was nearly not made. On 18th January I made representations to the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) after having received a visit from 5 young men who live in my electorate. They were Messrs Tony Gillis, George Bird, Peter Buhr, Lawrence Warnock and Gordon Weiss of 10 Scenic Highway, Terrigal. These young men, aged between 20 and 30, were Canadian nationals who visited Australia as members of the Trojan Rugby Union, playing a series of matches against club and representative sides including the Brisbane Waters Rugby Union Club. Due to the warmth of the welcome and hospitality they had received in Australia and particularly the central coast, they had decided to extend their stay for at least 12 months and have a working holiday. At that time I understand 2 of them were employed and the others were still holidaying. I am informed they are now all employed.
In the short time they had lived in the Terrigal area they had made an extremely favourable impression on local residents and were welcomed as members into the local rugby and surf clubs. Might I add that since I met them on 18th January they have become personal friends and have visited my home and my wife and I have visited their home. They are a fine bunch of young men who I am sure would make ideal citizens of Australia. However, the events I am now about to relate would make it highly unlikely that they would want to stay permanently in Australia. Might I add that they were convinced of the need to bring their case to my attention by Mr Laurie O’Malley, one of my closest friends who informed me that they were concerned that any action on their part might lead to some form of persecution by the authorities. Mr O’Malley and I assured them that their interests and the rights of all Australian citizens and overseas visitors were best protected by a full disclosure of the facts so that the public can be fully informed of just what is going on in this country.
At 10.30 on the morning of Wednesday, 5th January, Messrs Weiss, Bird and Buhr were rudely awakened at their Terrigal home by 2 men, one of whom said to Mr Weiss: ‘Alright you guys, the party’s over. Get up and get your clothes on. I want to see your passports right now.’ Mr Weiss asked who they were and when told they were from the Commonwealth Police Force Mr Weiss asked them to get out of the house and stand on the porch. The officers refused to leave and demanded to see their passports. The Commonwealth Police demanded to see the passports of Messrs Gillis and Warnock even though they were not at home. These passports were found and the men showed them to the police. When asked why they they were there the police refused to give an answer. At no time did they produce any search warrant, nor were they invited into the house. In the words of Mr Weiss. ‘They entered of their own accord and their attitude was demanding, rude and abrupt.’
On 18th January I wrote to the Attorney-General setting out the basic fact as I have outlined, adding that I had ascertained that they were searching for American R & R deserters. I had ascertained these facts from Sergeant Gordon Lambert, the State police officer in charge of Terrigal police station. I am sure that Sergeant Lambert is known to you, Mr Speaker.
– Might I say, very favourably.
– I was about to add that. Might I also add that these young men have no complaint against Sergeant Lambert, who behaved with complete propriety at all times. On 4th May I received the following reply from the Attorney-General:
I refer again to your letter of 18 January 1972 concerning allegations by Messrs T. Gillis, G. Bird, P. Buhr, L. Warnock and G. Weiss of 10 Scenic Highway, Terrigal, N.S.W., about the behaviour of officers of the Commonwealth Police Force.
I have made enquiries into this matter and have ascertained that the police were investigating reports of suspected deserters from the U.S. Armed Forces living at Terrigal. In company with officers of the State Police Force and the U.S. Navy they travelled to Terrigal to make enquiries.
The officers spoke to five people in the driveway of 10 Scenic Drive, Terrigal at about 10.15 a.m. on Wednesday 5 January 1972. After a short interview the officers were invited into the house by one of the group, a person later identified as Robert Stephen Tait, to interview three oilier persons who were inside. Two police officers, one in uniform, entered the bouse and in their presence Tait woke Buhr and Bird who were sleeping in the same room. Weiss, who was asleep in another room was awakened by one of the officers. In each of the short interviews that followed the purpose of the visit was explained, the plainclothes officer produced his police identification card and Canadian passports were inspected. The police left the premises at about 10.40 a.m.
No objection was raised by any of the men interviewed at any time while the police were present. Lawrence Warnock was not in a position to make any complaint as he was out of the premises at the time.
On the information available w tas I am satisfied that there is no basis for any allegation of misconduct on the part of the police officers.
Since receiving this letter I have had further discussions with the Canadians, in particular Mr Gordon Weiss. They are completely dissatisfied with the Minister’s reply. They pointed out that Robert Stephen Tait was not a resident in the house and was barely known to them. Apparently they had met him casually the night before at a local hotel. Mr Tait apparently was one of a group of 4 - 2 American and 2 Canadians - who had decided to camp in a Kombi van near the residence of the 5 Canadians. The Attorney-General’s letter assumes, quite wrongly, that Tait was in some way associated with Messrs Bird, Buhr, Gillis, Warnock and Weiss and therefore it was perfectly alright for him to let them into the house. He had as little right to be in the house as did the Police.
What appals me, Mr Speaker, is that visitors to this country, fine young men who have made a most favourable impression on all who have come in contact with them, should be so arrogantly and rudely harassed by Commonwealth Police. This is further evidence of the clumsy, blundering performance of some members of the Commonwealth Police, ls it any wonder they are earning the nickname of ‘Greenwood’s Keystone Cops’? A minimal amount of investigation throughout the local community would have quickly ascertained who they were. Their exploits as members of the Trojan Rugby Union team had been widely reported in local and national newspapers. Five Canadian rugby players would hardly go unnoticed in a small community such as Terrigal. I had certainly heard of them although I had not had the pleasure of meeting them. It is quite clear to me and those who know the full details of the case that the Attorney-General has been prepared to accept the Commonwealth police officers’ version of what happened rather than that of the Canadians. Not one detail that has been presented to me by these young men has been refuted by the Attorney-General and his statement that no complaint was registered by these young men is totally rejected by them. Their coming to see me is surely a complaint in itself. It is hardly likely that the Commonwealth Police would admit to their superiors their oafish behaviour. The least the Attorney-General can do is to have the good grace to apologise to these fine young men so that they should return to their homeland with a favourable impression of Australia and not the impression they have obviously gained that Australian police have immunity to behave like Hitler’s Gestapo or Stalin’s NKVD.
– I rise tonight to raise a matter because of my long association with the Good Neighbour Movement of Australia and also because some of the people concerned have spread to areas as far as the electorate of Riverina. I had previously mentioned to the Minister for Immigration (Dr Forbes) that I would be raising this matter tonight and I am glad to see him in the chamber. Migrants from 60 countries are still coming to Australia and in the past year or so nearly 2,000 of the flower nf South American single womanhood have come to Sydney and Melbourne from Peru, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay. They have come in circumstances which have earned Australia a bad name, particularly in Peru. About 1,000 attractive, well educated and well raised senoritas have come from Peru and are currently in Sydney. About 700 have gone to Melbourne. I rise tonight to draw attention to their plight, to the inadequacies of the immigration programme and to propose immediate corrective action by our authorities both here and in the South American countries concerned.
It is the opinion of the girls themselves that the Australian Government has brought them to this country as marriage fodder. They point out that of the 1,000 Peruvians in Sydney there are about 3 males. So they note Australia has recruited this large number of single girls and encouraged them to come here while finding visas for only a small number of men. These single girls find when they get here that there is a big imbalance in migrant intake - they meet more migrants than they do Australians - in favour of single men from many countries. Rightly or wrongly they feel that the Government has looked upon them as marriage fodder to correct an imbalance in the Australian community.
A meeting of a representative group of young Peruvian senoritas and Australians who have been trying to help them took place in Sydney recently. I raise this matter tonight following that quite informal meeting at the request of both the girls and their Australian friends. A uniform complaint is that the picture they had of Australia and opportunities here has proved false. Almost all of these girls have had tertiary education. They left Peru in most cases because of unrest at university and uncertainty about graduate job opportunities. They came here with a picture in their minds of a wealthy country, a wealthy people and boundless opportunities for work commensurate with their education. They believed that they would be able to take a 3 months crash course in English which would be adequate. They believed that positions would then be readily available at good salaries that would enable them to have reasonable accommodation and a reasonable life. They were told also that they would have good hotel accommodation on arrival and no language difficulties. Remember that we are dealing with girls from sheltered homes in most cases, a high standard of living, speaking no English or very little English, knowing nothing of Australia and having no kinship links here. So they arrive and find that they have a week’s hotel stay. That is arranged. But after that they have been moved to inner city accommodation shared with many who are very nigh destitute. In all this time there has been no provision - so they complain - of Spanish speakers, and they have had to stumble along alone but for tenuous contact with other girls from their home country as and when they could get together.
They report that eventually an officer arrived with the anxiously awaited news of employment. One girl with 2 years university training in public administration was put on a machine in a factory to make trousers. She had never been in a factory before. She found it impossible to follow the instructions. Not surprisingly she ruined 3 pairs of trousers. After that a very tolerant employer - the employer has my deep sympathy - put her to work in the pressing room, where she remains. I think that is where the trousers end up before their eventual dispersement. Another girl, a fully qualified teacher in her own country found herself a domestic in a hospital. Yet another was given an unskilled hospital job, although on slightly better status. Another fully qualified teacher found refuge in the office of Catholic Welfare in Sydney. I have been writing to State and Federal authorities on her behalf to try to get her back into her profession.
I draw attention to what they have reported in connection with the crash language course. They had pinned their hopes on this. They discovered that there is a 3 months crash course but there is a waiting period of about li years to get into it, with migrants and Colombo Plan students all trying to participate. Some of the girls fondly imagined wealthy Australians with big houses and complements of servants in the best tradition of the Deep South or the deeper south of the Spanish Americas, and they ended up as suburban skivvies. This is rather different from what they had in their minds. Naturally they have written home, and their experiences and disappointments have made the front pages in Peru. One mother was so distraught that she called her son in the United States and had him fly to Sydney to take his sister home. Ironically enough this was a girl who had survived the initial difficulties of the settlement period and wanted to stay. But such was the influence of a bad Press. The fact is that our national image is being smudged in the southern Americas. There is no doubt that very many of these nearly 2,000 senoritas believe that they have been imported as marriage fodder.
So we need action. I ask the Minister for Immigration to review urgently the briefing given in South America to single girls applying to come to Australia, to ensure that they do not leave Peru and other countries with the wrong picture of Australia and the conditions here. I am not saying that anyone in the Embassy deliberately sought to mislead, because this would be rubbish. But there is no doubt that what Embassy officials are saying and what the girls are taking in is not a right and proper communication of the situation here. So the officials have to improve their communication with the prospective migrants. I also ask the Minister to arrange for a Spanish speaking task force urgently to ensure that these girls are not being exploited. 1 do not need to stress the point to the Minister. There are considerable dangers for large numbers of pretty, well educated but lonely girls in a big, strange foreign city with all sorts of temptations and predators. I think that the Minister with his sensitivity will recognise the need to do something in this regard. This task forces could be made up of personnel retained by the Department of Immigration - very able and skilled personnel - and also representatives of the Good Neighbour Council in the 2 cities of Sydney and Melbourne.
I also ask him to explore the proposal being advanced by a welfare officer with the Catholic Migration Office in Sydney to establish some improved and continuing hostel accommodation. Above all there is an evident need to inquire into the situation in regard to language training. There is no doubt that the promises about the language seem to have been pretty definite. They were probably made in error, but promises they were, and we should try to redeem them. I would stress that these girls are not $20 tourists at the Australian taxpayers’ expense, but have raised their own fares and paid their own way. If the nation is to continue to recruit some of the flower of South American womanhood I want to be sure that we need them; that there is a place for them; that we fulfil our promises, and that we do not by either accident or design recruit marriage fodder. I seem to recall that in the last century *.he colonial government ran female factories from which single males selected their mates. That system is a century out of date. I do not think we ought to revive it in 1972. I do not think that the Depart ment set out deliberately to do that, but I suggest that there is a need for action in this regard. I am grateful to the Minister for Immigration for being here tonight to listen to the report compiled after a full and extensive discussion of the problem with a representative cross-section of the girls concerned.
– The honourable member for Riverina (Mr Grassby) mentioned to me. as he said, that he was to raise this matter tonight. He informed me that it had something to do with migrants from Peru, which is really all I knew about it. I have listened with interest and attention to what he has had to say. I did not know enough about the matter that he wished to raise to inform myself fully of the detail of it, but I think I should take this opportunity to refute the implication in his remarks that there has been any intention on the part of the Government or my Department to recruit what he calls marriage fodder by misleading people :n Peru or anywhere else in the world about conditions in Australia and what they would find here. In fact the whole system in the Department is organised to see that precisely the opposite happens. I have personally read very carefully all the information pamphlets that are distributed overseas. Generally speaking they are the same in most countries except for the language in which they are printed. None of the information provided to intending migrants from Peru, in a written form anyway, could possibly have provided a misleading picture of life in Australia. It is factual, (t is kept up to date. Many of the large range of pamphlets on many aspects of life in Australia are revised as much as three or four times a year to see that they are up to date. This is basically the information that is given to intending migrants >n Peru or anywhere else.
But let us face it; we all know from our own experiences that many people overseas, particularly if they are confronting problems in their own country - the honourable gentleman admitted that in respect of Peru this was one of the motivations which gave an impetus to migration - this plays the dominating part in their decision to migrate. Quite often they have a stereotype picture of the country to which they go which is inaccurate. It may have been formed from word of mouth information, by letters from friends or relatives, by a television programme or by anything. It may have been created in their formative years long before they actually made the decision to come. In this situation, with many people, whatever you do in relation to counselling and whatever you do in relation to providing factual information will not make the slightest difference.
Inevitably when people who are in that situation arrive in the new country and find that it does not fit in with the stereotype picture that they had of it they are inclined - perhaps understandably, as this is human nature - to suggest that they have been misled. I am perfectly willing to have officers of my Department meet this group that the honourable gentleman is talking of, to discuss the matter with them and to investigate individual cases. I have investigated many allegations that the information given by, or the activities of, officers overseas have misled migrants, and I have found that, after investigation, very few of them are well grounded. But let us go into this question. Let us see whether there is a particular problem in relation to Peru which requires us to look at our procedures. I am perfectly willing to do that, but I want to make the point that generally I have found these sorts of allegations to be unsubstantiated.
In relation to people who have had a tertiary education and people who are professionally qualified, the standard procedure in the Department is to ask the individual before he makes the decision to come to Australia to fill out one of the professional employment forms that are supplied by the Department of Labour and National Service, so that this form can be sent back to Australia and so that the Department of Labour and National Service can give him an up to date, individual assessment of his employment prospects in relation to his qualifications. Every person in that category who comes into an Australian office overseas is advised to do this. Many of them do it, but many of them do not. They are advised, particularly if they have professional qualifications in relation to which there might be difficulty at the present moment, to test their individual qualifications against the current demand in Australia.
I am advised in relation to the language situation that it is highly unlikely that anybody in any of these countries would have been informed that they would be able to gain access to one of these intensive language courses immediately on arrival in Australia, because there is a great demand for the available courses. The advice they would receive would be that they would probably have to wait after arrival for at least a couple of months before they could gain access to them. I am also advised that there are many South American migrants currently attending these courses. Many of them have attended other courses. Many single girls have gained access to the courses. Many of them have gained access to the other types of language courses that are available. Again, I have an open mind on this question. If it appears that more should be done, we will do it.
The same thing applies in relation to accommodation. As the honourable gentleman probably knows we have long standing arrangements with various organisations such as the Young Women’s Christian Association, the Salvation Army and the Travellers’ Aid Society, to cater for the initial accommodation of single girls coming to Australia, to counsel them, look after them and ease their early settlement problems. They also help them to find more permanent accommodation when they leave the initial accommodation. I might add that my Department has for many years subsidised these organisations in providing this accommodation.
– Are there any vacancies?
-Order! The honourable member has just come into the House. I suggest that he listens to the debate before he interjects.
– I am very interested in this.
– I am sure that the organisations involved would welcome the honourable gentleman’s assistance in this initial settlement process. I will put him in touch with the people who run them. Again I have an open mind on the question, and if it is found by contact with this group that there is something more that we can do to sort out this problem we will see whether we can do it.
– I rise tonight to touch on a couple of matters. The first of these is the necessity for government - I do not care whether it is Federal or State - to make a decision as to whether or not there is to be a university or a college of advanced education in the western suburbs of Sydney. Are you right?
– Order! The honourable member has the right to speak if he wishes to. If he does not want to, he may sit down.
– I was just waiting.
– With all due respect, if the honourable member is concerned about conversation he should have a look at his performance today.
– I abide by your suggestion, Sir. I think the most important thing here is to look at what has been going on out in the western suburbs in relation to the need for tertiary education in those areas. I point out that this area contains the largest number of young people of any area in the whole of New South Wales. Therefore, the demand for tertiary education facilities will be greater than in any other part of the State in the future. Over the years I have been approached by a number of local organisations. I have carried out a campaign in this House for the last 2i years on this issue. I have brought the matter before various government departments, Federal and State. I have brought it before various Ministers, Federal and State. But in each instance I found that each one passed the buck over to the other. If one goes to the Federal Ministry of Education and Science one finds that it says it is an issue for the State. If one goes to the State Department one finds that, until they have the finance or until they have inquired more fully into the issue, it is a matter for the Federal Government to determine.
It has now reached the stage where there is a very great deal of feeling on this particular issue right throughout the area. The latest approach made to me was from the Parramatta District Council of Parents and Citizens Associations, urging that consideration should be given on an urgent basis to the establishment of a university or college of advanced education in the western suburbs of Sydney. I believe that the demands of the area, in respect of young people growing up, will ensure that this must occur. This educational facility must be placed in an area that is close to the railway. It must be placed in an area which will serve young people coming down from Katoomba in the west or from areas such as Auburn or even further east. I suggest that it should be sited either in the Parramatta area or at Werrington near Penrith where I understand land has been set aside for either a teachers college or a college of advanced education.
I would like the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser) to look at this matter urgently. I believe that as this Parliament provides the greater part of the finance necessary for such a project this Parliament should influence where that project is established. As I have said, it is commonsense that it should not be placed, for example, out at Campbelltown which is well away from any real centre. The project should be placed somewhere near a railhead to serve those people coming from as far as Katoomba in the west and the Auburn side of Parramatta in the east. In other words, it should not be placed, as is the Macquarie University, well away from rail transport. Such siting means that people have to use motor transport in order to attend that institution. If regard is not paid to the proper siting of the institution people from more affluent areas will be benefited. It should be borne in mind that the great body of young people coming from the areas I have mentioned - areas such as Auburn - would not have a great deal of finance behind them. They would mostly be on scholarships and therefore would not be able to afford high transport costs. Therefore I ask the Minister for Education and Science to have a very good look at this issue. I ask him to initiate the necessary discussions with the New South Wales Government to ensure that a university or college of advanced education for the western suburbs will be placed somewhere near a rail centre so that students who cannot afford high transport costs can use that mode of transport. Students, about who I am speaking of necessity come from non-affluent areas. ,
While I am on my feet I would like to deal also with another matter. It arises from the recent decision of the Church of England to undertake a drive on poverty. A group of people examining this subject recently visited the area of Mount Druitt. Unfortunately one of the newspapers labelled the Mount Druitt area by displaying the headline: ‘Whitlam to visit slums’. This caused a great deal of resentment right throughout the area. The fact is that the Mount Druitt area is the youngest area in the State. The average age, it is said, is about 8 years. It is an area in which many young people are trying to bring up big families. The last thing in the world they want to happen is for the area to be called backward, or an area suffering from great problems. As the residents of the area put it, if you give a dog bad names it sticks to it.
I checked with the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) and I am assured by him and his staff that when the Archbishop made the request that members of this Parliament should visit various areas of poverty the Leader of the Opposition rang up and accepted that request. However, the first he knew that Mount Druitt was to be visited was when he heard it over the news media. I make this point: Of course there are areas of poverty in Mount Druitt as there are in every other area of ;he State. Of course there are some invalid pensioners and deserted wives in the Mount Druitt area. But they would be only a very small proportion of the great body of this category of people who exist right throughout New South Wales and the Commonwealth. To suggest that this is an area of extreme poverty and a problem area or, as one newspaper suggested, a slum area creates a great deal of resentment amongst the people living there, and myself as their representative.
I would like to quote a few headings that appeared in local newspapers. One was: ‘Tired of being rubbished’. Another was: ‘Meeting condemns continued maligning of Mount Druitt people’. A further heading was: ‘Mount Druitt residents angry - district called “slum”’. This type of thing has to be stopped. The facts are mat the Mount Druitt people are hard working people. They work harder for heir organisations than most people from affluent areas do. If one goes to parents and citizens association meetings one finds these meetings attended by more people than would be at similar meetings in more affluent areas.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– 1 wish to bring forward a matter which I consider to be of importance. It concerns the steel industry in Australia. I refer to a cutting from the ‘Newcastle Morning Herald’, which states:
Three leading Japanese steel mills making large.calibre pipes are jointly negotiating with Australian Gas Light Company for the sale of about 120,000 tons of gas pipes.
The article went on to state:
The gas pipes would bc med for a large portion of a gas pipeline about 536 miles long from a South Australian gas field to Sydney.
This concerns me because at present in Australia we have a substantial number of men who are unemployed. The number of adult males at present unemployed is 43,912. The number of junior males is 17,327. The total number of unemployed is 61,239. In the Newcastle district unemployment registry area which includes my electorate and the adjoining areas of Maitland and Cessnock there are 1,499 adult males and 1,015 junior males unemployed. This means that a total of 2,514 men are unemployed in the Newcastle district.
As I explained to honourable members yesterday, the ratio of unfilled vacancies to registered unemployed in Newcastle is higher than in any other city in Australia. I have just read to honourable members an article which states that it is the intention of the Australian Gas Light Company to import into Australia 120,000 tons of steel pipes. This means that 120,000 tons of steel plates which should be rolled by the Australian steel industry will not be rolled by the Australian industry. If this work were carried out by the Australian steel industry employment would be provided for many men in the steel industry. We had a situation in the Newcastle district only just before Christmas in which a considerable number of men were laid off by the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd. The same thing happened in the Wollongong and Port Kembla area. In fact, men were laid off in the 4 plants operated by BHP throughout Australia.
What causes me great concern is that this Government will permit the Australian Gas Light Company to import 120,000 tons of steel pipes which are made out of steel plates. Not only the Government but also the Australian Gas Light Company is to blame. I understand that at the moment that company is dithering in regard to what it wants. It is not prepared to make a firm decision as to the size and quantity of pipes that it requires.
If it would do so the Australian pipemaking industry could get on with the job and provide the pipes that are required to carry this gas from South Australia to New South Wales. Instead of doing this, the company is holding off, deliberately refraining from making a decision, so that when the time arrives for the work to be carried out it will be able to say that Australian industry is not in a position to fill the order. It is common knowledge in the industry today that only about one-third of the pipes required to carry the gas from South Australia to New South Wales will be provided by Australian industry. The filling of this order by Australian industry would provide employment for hundreds of men throughout Australia. I rang the office of the Minister for Trade and Industery (Mr Anthony) early this evening to try to let him know that I would speak on this subject. I hope that the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairbairn), who is sitting at the table, will bring what I am saying tonight to the attention of the Minister for Trade and Industry. The Government should make a clear and positive statement to the Australian Gas Light Company that in no circumstances will it be permitted to import the steel pipes necessary to carry the gas from South Australia to New South Wales.
As I have said, the company will come up with the excuse that Australian industry cannot supply the pipes that are required. But its inability to do so is because the Gas Light Company is not prepared to make a decision. 1 should like to draw the attention of the Minister to figures contained in a Department of Trade and Industry publication which is received monthly by those of us who are interested in it. As at 30th June 1970, the value of imports of iron and steel was $95,286,000. By 30th June 1971 the value of imports had climbed to $138,576,000. In fact, for the first 8 months of the present financial year, notwithstanding that a great number of men and women have been unemployed in this country, there has been a greater inflow of iron and steel than there was in the comparable 8 month period in 1971. As at February 1971, the value of imports of iron and steel was$86.687.000. For the same 8 month period of this year, the figure was $97,465,000.
So, honourable members can see from those figures that there is still a substantial amount of steel being imported into this country and, in fact, the import figure for this year is higher than that for the previous year. The figures concerning exports are important also and should be noted. For the first 7 months of the 1970-71 financial year, Australia exported steel to a value of $58,744,000 and, for the same period in the 1971-72 financial year, the figure was $58,298,000. So, the position is that our imports are way up and our exports are below what they were for the same period last year. Yet the Government is going to permit the Australian Gas Light Company, which is a wealthy company making very substantial profits, the luxury of importing 120,000 tons of steel pipes which will utilise in excess of 120,000 tons of steel plates. If the work were carried out here its manufacture would provide employment for Australian men in the steel fabricating and pipe-making industry in Australia.
I ask the Government to do something positive about this matter and to give the company a clear indication that it can dither around as long as it likes but that it will not be permitted to import the pipes, the supply of which the company is negotiating with various Japanese steel companies. This is an important matter on which the Government must take a positive stand. I hope that the Minister for Defence will take my complaint to the Minister for Trade and Industry. If I could, I would like to have a statement from the Minister for Trade and Industry next week indicating what will be the Government’s attitude on this matter.
– I will see that the Minister is informed and a reply prepared.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
Sydney Airport: Flights during Curfew Hours (Question No. 4993)
How many applications were made in 1971 to (a) the Minister for Civil Aviation and (b) the Regional Director in New South Wales for flights into or out of Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport during curfew hours.
How many of these applications were (a) approved and (b) refused by (1) the Minister and (2) the Regional Director.
How many flights took place in (971 during curfew hours without permission and what action has been taken as a result of these unauthorised flights.
(a) Initial applications for jet aircraft to operate within the curfew hours are usually made to officers of the Department of Civil Aviation by telephone and no record is kept of the number received. Therefore the information requested is not available, (b) The answer to (a) above is also applicable in this case.
(a) (1) The number of flights by jet aircraft which took place during the curfew period in the year 1971 and which were approved by me was 108. (2) The number of flights by jet aircraft which took place during the curfew period in the year 1971 and which were approved by the Regional Director, New South Wales Region, was 201.
(1) As mentioned in the answer to question 1, information concerning the number of applications received is not available so that it is not possible to indicate how many were refused. However, it can be stated that many of the applications received are refused on initial application on the basis that alternative arrangements should be made.
(2) The answer to (b) (1) above is also applicable in this case.
The number of flights by jet aircraft that occurred during the curfew period without permission was 3. Investigation revealed that the 3 events involving operations by jet aircraft within the hours of 11.00 p.m. and 6.00 a.m. without permission resulted from misunderstanding on the part of the operator. It had been assumed that approval was given for the flights in question when in actual fact such approval had not been granted. The matter was taken up with the operator concerned and it is unlikely that there will be any repetition of these occurrences.
Taxation: Age Allowance (Question No. 5036)
What would be the cost of tax collections foregone if an annual amount equal to (a) single rate and (b) married rate aged pension is allowed as a tax deduction from taxable income for tax paying males 65 and over and females 60 and over who are not in receipt of an age pension.
Taxpayers are not required to state their ages on income tax return forms unless they wish, under the age allowance provisions, to claim exemption from income tax or a reduction in income tax otherwise payable. Accordingly, the only income tax statistics which indicate whether a male taxpayer is 65 years of age or over or whether a female taxpayer is 60 years of age or over are those relating to taxpayers who completed the age allowance part of the income tax return form and benefitted from the allowance.
Because of this, and because other available information has been found insufficient for the purpose, it is impracticable to provide a reliable estimate of the loss to revenue that would result if the deduction envisaged in the question were allowed.
Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd (Question No. 5156)
Aboriginal Population (Question No. 5324)
How many Aboriginals are at present resident in each electoral division in Australia.
The Commonwealth Statistician has advised that it will be some months before information on the number of Aboriginals enumerated in each electoral division at the 1971 Census is available. He has, however, provided this information from the 1966 Census, which is contained in the following tables:
These figures relate to those persons who describe themselves in the Census as being 50 per cent or more Aboriginal or simply as ‘Aboriginal’.
As the boundaries of Census collection areas do not in all cases follow electoral division boundaries, a small degree of approximation was required to compile these figures.
The 1971 Census figures relating to Aboriginals will represent those who described themselves as Aboriginals on the Census form and therefore will nol be comparable with 1966 figures.
Incomes and Taxes (Question No. 5341)
Cheese: Production Statistics (Question No. 5387)
The Commonwealth Statistician has supplied the following information in reply to the honourable member’s question.
The Bureau of Census and Statistics collects separate production statistics for six specific varieties of cheese, one collective category of cheese - ‘Grating’, and the remainder of cheese production under the category ‘Other’. A further category ‘Soft’ has been discontinued since 1968-69 as the production of the main cheeses of this type is covered by the specific varieties.
Separate statistics on the Gouda variety were produced for the first time in 1968-69, when it ranked fifth out of the six specific cheese varieties in the order of production. It is not known whether the ranking of Gouda has since changed as production figures are not yet available for later years.
On the basis of 1968-69 figures, the separate production statistics for the six varieties of cheese in aggregate accounted for just over 91 per cent of the total cheese production of 161.2 million lb. Grating cheeses accounted for a further approximate 4 per cent leaving little over 4 per cent of production for which separate variety statistics are not available.
In view of the large proportion of cheese production for which statistics are available on individual varieties, the Commonwealth statistician does not feel justified in extending the list of varieties. However, the matter will be kept under review as later annual figures become available on the pattern of production of the different varieties of cheese.
Overseas Borrowings (Question No. 5437)
Tax Concessions and Child Endowment (Question No. 5438)
With existing income tax rates and given that a married taxpayer whose wife has no separate income also has 3 dependent children under 16 years of age and other concessional deductions of $100, at what income level does child endowment for the 3 children approximately equal the tax worth of the tax concession for the 3 children.
At existing rates of tax, the value to a taxpayer of the income tax concessional deduction allowable in respect of three dependent children under 16 years of age would approximately equal the annual amount of child endowment payable at current rates in respect of the first three children in the family under 16 years of age where the taxpayer had an annual income of $5,539. It has been assumed in providing this answer that the taxpayer’s income is equal to the sum of his taxable income and the amounts allowable for the concessional deductions specified in the honourable member’s question.
Trans-Australian Railway (Question No. 5447)
Up to 1920 the Commonwealth Works Loan Fund was financed from investments of the Notes Fund and other Commonwealth trust funds. When the note issue was handed over to the Commonwealth Bank in 1920, debt to the amount of $6,856,000 in respect of the Railway was redeemed from portion of the accumulated profits of the Notes Fund. The balance of the debt on account of the Railway forms part of the public debt of the Commonwealth which matures at various dates and is being redeemed in the ordinary way through the National Debt Sinking Fund.
World Intellectual Property Organisation (Question No. 550S)
Tooth’s Brewery (Question No. 5613)
Australia’s Reserve Assets (Question No. 5638)
What is the present distribution of Australia’s official reserve assets in (a) gold, (b) special drawing rights, (c) International Monetary Fund reserves, (d) United States dollars, (e) sterling and (f) other foreign currencies.
The following table shows details of the value and composition of Australia’s official reserve assets as at 31st March 1972, the latest dale for which such information is available.
HMAS ‘Diamantina’: Replacement (Question No. 5809)
Navy, upon notice:
Letter and Telegram Deliveries (Question No. 3633)
General, upon notice:
Did he inform me a short time ago that difficulty in obtaining staff was a major reason why letter and telegram delivery services were nol provided in a number of country centres.
If so, has that situation changed with the tremendous increase in unemployment in nonmetropolitan areas.
Have any of these positions been registered with the appropriate employment offices or agencies and have they been advertised in newspapers circulating in the districts concerned.
If so, where has this been done and what has been the response.
If not, why not, if there is a desire to provide the services referred to.
Also, in reply to Question on Notice No. 4783, I advised the honourable member that a telegram delivery service is not provided to residents of all towns north of Geraldton in Western Australia. I also indicated that, subject to recruitment difficulties being overcome, the introduction of a full-time telegram delivery service is possible during the period 1972-73 at Dampier and Newman and in 1973-74 at Paraburdoo and Tom Price.
Concerning bouse deliveries of mail to the country towns in Western Australia and New South Wales, as explained the number of residences in each of the centres and the small amount of mail involved is well below that required for the introduction of a letter delivery service. All the residents concerned are within reasonable walking distance of their post office and, in addition, private letter boxes are available for those people who are unable to call for mail during office hours.
Social Services: Payment to Persons
Overseas (Question No. 5803)
What are the precise terms of the report on the inter-departmental committee which reported in 1971 on the continuation of the payment of pensions and other benefits to certain persons after they cease to be resident in Australia.
It is not the policy of this Government to give information on matters which concern advice to Ministers. Advice given collectively to the Government by an inter-departmental committee stands in the same position as advice given by an individual department to its Minister.
House adjourned at 11.35 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 18 May 1972, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1972/19720518_reps_27_hor78/>.