27th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. Sir William Aston) took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
-I have to inform the House that, in reply to the Address of Condolence from this House on the occasion of the death of the Duke of Windsor, the Private Secretary to Her Majesty the Queen has sent the following message:
I am commanded to acknowledge the receipt ol the Address from both the Senate and the House of Representatives sent on the occasion of the death of the Duke of Windsor and to say that Her Majesty deeply appreciates the expressions of sympathy sent on behalf of the people of the Commonwealth of Australia.
– It is with very deep regret that I have to inform the House of the death on 7th July of Sir Owen Dixon, a former Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, at the age of 86. Sir Owen Dixon was without doubt one of the truly great Australians of his time. His reputation as an outstanding jurist was acknowledged both in Australia and overseas, particularly in Britain and the United States. His contributions extended far beyond the legal field.
He was born at Hawthorn in Victoria on 28th April 1886 and was educated at Hawthorn College and at the University of Melbourne where he took degrees in Arts and Law. He was called to the Victorian Bar in 1910 and in 1922, at the age of 36, became a Kings Counsel. Within the next 2 years he was twice to appear in London before the Privy Council, an unusual event for Australian lawyers in those days, and nearly 3 decades before he himself was to be appointed a member of that Council. In 1926 he became Acting Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria and in 1929 was appointed a Justice of the High Court. He was Chief Justice of the High Court from 1952 until his retirement in 1964.
When called upon in times of crisis Sir Owen Dixon served with equally great distinction in other spheres. In 1940, at the request of the Menzies Government, he undertook the chairmanship of the Central Wool Committee, which had been set up to administer the wartime handling of the wool clip. During the following 2 years he became Chairman of the Australian Shipping Control Board, the Marine Risks Insurance Board, the Commonwealth
Marine Salvage Board and the Allied Consultative Shipping Council in Australia. In 1942 he was appointed by the Curtin Government as Australian Minister to the United States and remained in that important post until he resumed his seat on the Bench in 1944. In 1950 he was appointed by the United Nations as mediator in the dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir. His tireless efforts to bring an end to that unhappy conflict were not to succeed but it was widely recognised that he had done as much as any man could possibly have done in those most difficult circumstances.
In 1963 he was awarded the Order of Merit by Her Majesty the Queen - a rare distinction and one bestowed only on the personal initiative of the Sovereign. He also was a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George. He held honorary law doctorates from Oxford and Harvard. It is, nonetheless, as an outstanding man of the law that Sir Owen Dixon will be remembered. His immense scholarship, his qualities of mind and his unfailing personal dignity set him out among his fellows wherever he moved. He commanded respect in every field of human endeavour to which his talents were called and he was held in deep affection by all who knew him. Australia has indeed lost a great man. This country is richer for the life of Owen Dixon. We salute his memory and we send our deepest sympathy to his family.
– The Australian Labor Party wishes to be associated with the tribute that the Prime Minister has paid to the former Chief Justice. As counsel, as judge, as wartime administrator, as diplomatist and as Chief Justice, Sir Owen Dixon touched nothing that he did not adorn. Australians must be grateful for his services to his fellow citizens. They must also be proud of his standing among his counterparts in every country where English is spoken and the Common Law observed.
– I would like to associate the Australian Country Party with the condolences expressed and tributes paid by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition to the late Sir Owen Dixon; As both gentlemen have said, he was a truly outstanding Australian who won enormous respect both in this country and overseas. He had a long and varied career, reaching its zenith as Chief Justice of Australia. But he was also a great diplomat and as such he was required to show his great knowledge in helping with certain United Nations activities. I note with interest that he was also chairman of a committee that dealt with the handling of the Australian wool clip during the Second World War. This was an enormous undertaking but he carried it out with great skill. He was an outstanding and brilliant Australian and we honour him in this House today.
– As a mark of respect to the memory of the deceased I invite honourable members to rise in their places. (Honourable members having risen in their places)
– Thank you, gentlemen.
– It is also with regret that I have to inform the House of the death . on 27th June 1972 of the Honourable Arthur Blakeley. Mr Blakeley represented the electorate of Darling in New South Wales for the Australian Labor Party froth 1917 until his defeat at the general election in 1934. From 1929 until the beginning of 1932 he was Minister for Home Affairs in the .Scullin Government. In 1928 and 1929 he was Deputy Leader of the Labor Party in the House of Representatives. Mr Blakeley was born in Gilberton in South Australia in 1886 and was educated at the North Broken Hill convent school. He held several important posts in the Australian Workers Union and was its General President from 1919 to 1923. Following his defeat in the 1934 election he took an appointment as a Commonwealth arbitration inspector, and for the last 10 years before his retirement in 1952 was a Commonwealth conciliation commissioner. We extend our sympathy to his family in their loss.
– The Australian Labor Party thanks the Prime Minister for his tribute to Mr Arthur Blakeley, a former Deputy
Leader of our Party. As legislator, administrator and arbitrator he served the Australian people for many years and with great devotion and distinction. May I be pardoned a personal reminiscence about him. He was the first Federal Minister whom I met. He built his own house in Canberra in 1929 and lived here until he was defeated as a member of Parliament. I went to Telopea Park school with one of his daughters and one of his sons. I have retained my associations with the family. Mr Blakeley, not only by injunction but also by example, helped to make Canberra the beautiful city that it is. He was the first distinguished person who brought to my notice as a school child the fact that it was immoral, and in Canberra illegal, to chop down trees. He helped to make this city a better place in which to live. I believe that members of the Australian Labor Party, members of his old union and members of his old electorate will still remember with admiration and affection his services to them.
– I would like to associate the Australian Country Party with the remarks of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. Unfortunately 1 cannot speak about the Honourable Arthur Blakeley personally; he was before my time. It is sad that it has to be an occasion like this when we are reminded of the services that other people have made to this Parliament. He was a very important person in this House. He was the Deputy Leader of the Australian Labor Party during a very tense period for this nation. He was a member of this House for 17 years and Minister for Home Affairs during the depression years from 1929 to 1932. That portfolio must have been one of the most onerous of any for a Minister to carry during that time. We honour him for the work he did, and on behalf of my Party I extend sympathy to his family.
-I inform honourable members that on behalf of the House I have forwarded a message of sympathy to the relatives of the deceased. As a mark of respect to the memory of the deceased I ask honourable members to stand in their places. (Honourable members having stood in their places.)
– Thank you, gentlemen.
– 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 citizens of the Commonwealth humbly showeth:
That the undersigned believe:
That hunger, illiteracy, abject poverty and injustice are intolerable anywhere in the world.
That the knowledge, skills and resources to change these unjust conditions now exist.
That to obtain justice among peoples, world financial and trading systems can and must be changed.
That Australia has the capacity to play a more significant part in enabling the developing countries to achieve improved social conditions for all their people.
Your petitioners most humbly pray that:
Australia’s Official Development Assistance In 1972-73 be increased to at least $240 million.
Australia’s aid policies be reviewed so that aid given provides maximum benefit to the peoples of developing countries.
Australia’s trade policies be reviewed to provide more favourable conditions for developing countries. by Mr Chipp, Sir John Cramer, Mr Grassby, Dr Gun, Mr Keogh, Mr Mclvor, Mr Morrison, Mr Reid and Mr Wallis.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House assembled:
The humble petition of electors of Hotham respectfully sheweth: Their strongest protest at the flood of indecent literature being circulated and displayed publicly on book stalls, kiosks and shops throughout Melbourne. This type of literature, mainly dealing in photographic reproduction of sexual techniques and love making, is an outrage to our moral sensibilities and can only serve to undermine standards of social responsibility especially in the impressionable minds of our young people.
We also object to the low moral tone of some television programmes and many films (including television commercials advertising these films - particularly those which are in the restricted classification).
Your petitioners therefore humbly pray that the Government immediately takes all necessary action, under existing Acts and Regulations of Government Departments controlling various forms of media, to prohibit importation, production, display or sale of any indecent material, and, where material is of local production and is subject to control by State instrumentalities, we urge the
Government to act in co-operation with such State bodies as may be necessary to remedy this deplorable position.
And your petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Chipp.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled the petition of the undersigned electors (Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, Islander and nonIslander) of the Commonwealth of Australia respectfully sheweth:
And we, the undersigned, respectfully request that:
And we protest against the said Ordinance as being undemocratic, and a threat to. the freedom of all Australian citizens.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Hunt
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The Petition of the undersigned citizens Of New South Wales respectfully showeth:
That educational opportunities are provided by the Education Department and are available to children living in closer settled areas and that children living in isolated areas are being denied these educational opportunities due to the following circumstances:
Your Petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will give consideration to:
And your Petitioners as in duty bound will ever pray. by Mr Hunt.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The. humble petition of ‘Citizens of the Commonwealth respectfully’ showeth:
That the- Income Tax Assessment ‘ Act be amended to allow as deductions:
The cost of special foods required by diabetics. And your petitioners as in duty bound ‘will ever pray. by Mr Garland.
The Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned, citizens pf Australia respectfully showeth: ,
That the Commonwealth Public Service Board policy in reviewing Allowances paid to Officers of the Commonwealth Public Service stationed in remote localities of the Commonwealth, does not embrace fully the ambit of disabilities in these remote localities and in addition, is being reviewed only after lengthy periods of time. ,
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 every pray. by Mr Katter. Petition received.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The petition of the undersigned respectfully showeth:
There were more than 4,400 ex-nuptial births in 1971.
Only 1,537 ef these children were placed for adoption.
The majority of others went to mother only homes.
These mothers cannot work without placing their children in day minding centres. Private centres charge fees ranging from $11.50 to $18.00 per week.
There are Government Subsidised Day Minding Centres where fees are charged according to the mother’s income; however, the waiting list for entry into such centres is anything from six months and onwards.
In each case these fees are not a tax deductible item thus causing hardships to supporting mothers who wish to raise their children (our future citizens) themselves and who in any case are not paid commensurate wages with their male counterpart.
The result of this situation is that many supporting mothers are forced to remain at home and rely on a Pension thereby acting as a drain on Commonwealth Funds and denying the Commonwealth Income Taxation Revenue. Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled, should:
Enact amendments to the appropriate legislation so as to afford equality of treatment to single/ supporting mothers by allowing them to claim as taxation deductions the fees they pay to Day Minding Centres. or - Alternatives to Tax Deductible Nursery Fees.
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Gorton.
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 respectfully showeth:
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 live 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 necessary, 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. Unemployed 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 rates for pensioners.
Commonwealth Government to increase the non-repayable grant to the States for low 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 Calwell, Mr Les Johnson and Mr Mclvor.
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 some 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 East 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 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.
To the Honourable the Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia respectfully sheweth:
That the action of the French Government in undertaking the testing of nuclear devices in the Pacific area is detrimental to the people of countries in the region who have friendly relations with Australia and may have detrimental effects on children yet to be born in those countries and in Australia.
Your Petitioners therefore humbly pray that every possible step be taken to persuade the French Government to stop the tests. And ypur Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Giles.
To the Honourable the Speaker and the Members of the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled. The humble petition of the undersigned electors in the State of New South Wales respectfully sheweth:
Lack of adequate toilet facilities for staff and children. Inadequate play and sporting areas.
Your petitioners therefore respectfully pray that your Honourable House will (i) make immediate!); a substantial Federal emergency grant to all State Governments for education services and (ii) carry out a public national survey to determine needs of the States after 197S.
And your petitioners, as In duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Grassby. Petition received.
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: 1. Cai) a halt to all closing of Post Offices and reorganising within the Post Office until full details of the proposed savings and all details of alteration to the standards of service to the Public are made available to Parliament, and
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Les Johnson and Mr Keogh.
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:
Your petitioners most humbly pray that the House of Representatives in Parliament assembled will take immediate steps to make emergency Federal finance available to the States for State school education, and divert the large sums of public money being spent on private schools, to the government school system for which the government is truly responsible. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray- by Mr Morrison.
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 showeth:
Your petitioners, therefore, most humbly pray that:
And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray. by Mr Reynolds.
– I wish to inform the House that the Minister for National Development, Sir Reginald Swartz, has informed me that in view of his impending retirement at the end of this Parliament he wishes to relinquish his position as Leader of the House. I have accepted Sir Reginald’s decision with very great regret. He has carried out these most onerous and responsible duties with distinction and has been an outstanding Leader. I have appointed as the new Leader of the House the Minister for Customs and Excise, Mr Chipp. However, I have asked Sir Reginald, and he has agreed, to make himself available to the Minister for Customs and Excise, and to myself and the Government, in a consultative capacity in relation to matters of House proceedings.
– Mr Speaker, may I have leave to say that my Party agrees with the description which the Prime Minister gave of the Minister for National Development as Leader of the House.
- Mr Speaker, I give notice that at the next sitting I shall move:
That this House has no confidence in the Minister for the Interior because of his handling of the affair of the removal of the Aboriginal ‘Embassy’ from the lawns in front of Parliament House.
Mi CHIPP (Hotham- Minister for Customs and Excise) - by leave - I would like to indicate that after question time we will move for the suspension of Standing Orders to allow this motion to be dealt with this afternoon on the explicit understanding that the Budget will come on at 8 p.m. and consequently we will take action to ensure that the debate on this motion is terminated at an appropriate time before 6 p.m.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. The right honourable gentleman will have noted the exceptionally detailed forecasts of the provisions in tonight’s Budget which were given on a television network last Sunday night. While the accuracy of these forecasts naturally cannot be tested until the Treasurer delivers his speech tonight, I ask the Prime Minister whether he can assure the House that he had no discussions with this particular commentator about the Budget. I also ask him whether he has checked with his Ministers on whether they had any discussions with this commentator.
– This question is predicated on the assumption that the speculations are correct. As soon as the Budget is heard tonight honourable members will be able to make up their minds as to their accuracy or inaccuracy.
– I direct a question without notice to the Prime Minister. I ask whether he is aware of the large number of citizens throughout the Commonwealth who are concerned about the nature and extent of poverty within Australia? Is it not so that something in the nature of a national inquiry into poverty in Australia would help the nation and governments to ascertain ibo extent and nature of poverty in this country? If so, will the Prime Minister reconsider the Government’s decision with respect to holding such an inquiry with a view to ensuring that a national inquiry into poverty is conducted?
Mr McMahon Yesterday I received a letter from the honourable gentleman advising me that he intended to ask in the House a question relating to this problem. I can assure him that-
– Mr Speaker, I must take a point of order. Usually it is not possible to prove that a question is with notice. The Prime Minister has done that for me, if we can believe what he says. Therefore I suggest that you rule the question out of order, as you must do because the Standing Orders say that questions asked during question time shall be without notice. This question is clearly with notice on the Prime Minister’s own say-so.
-Order! The honourable member for Hindmarsh has asked me to rule the question out of order. The honourable member for Diamond Valley informed the Chair that he was asking the question without notice and I accept his word.
– I did not know it was to come on today in this sense. Coming back to the question, the Government has again given consideration to the problem of holding an inquiry into poverty in Australia and we have agreed that such an inquiry will be instituted. Already the Minister for Social Services has prepared draft terms of reference which will be further considered by the Government, and when that has been done we will decide on the person or persons who will carry out the inquiry.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. I direct his attention to a statement by the Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr Lee, at a National Day celebration on Sunday. Mr Lee stated that his Government would accept a policy of troops withdrawal from the South East Asian region if the Labor Party became the next government of Australia. He confirmed also Singapore’s military ability to defend itself and stand on its own 2 feet. I ask the right honourable gentleman: Does not this statement make a mockery of his Government’s claim that Labor policy would be unacceptable to Singapore? Finally, has not Mr Lee’s affirmation of Singapore’s independent defence strength destroyed the last remnants of the Government’s forward defence policy?
– On the contrary, I have the full text of what has been said by the Prime Minister of Singapore. He said that he accepts - and rightly accepts - the constitutional position of the Australian Government. He went on to say that if the Australian Labor Party did become the Government, it would have a sovereign right to withdraw troops from Singapore. That is the context in which the statement of the Prime Minister of Singapore has to be accepted. I remind the honourable gentleman of our policy, which is welcomed by the governments of Malaysia and Singapore. They welcome our troops there and they have not expressed any intention of withdrawing them. We too, if I can state our position very clearly, are anxious and willing to retain our troops there while they are wanted. As the honourable gentleman would know from the statements I made while I was overseas, in the communique between Tun Razak, the Malaysian Prime Minister, and myself and in statements made while I was in Singapore, our Air Force is welcomed in one place and elements of our fighting Services in another.
I also point out to the House that not only must it be recognised that if the Labor Party has its way we would have no capacity to bring a degree of confidence to these countries and to give them an ability to expand their operations in order to have greater development programmes, but it is my belief that if the statement made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition were accepted we would have very little capacity to defend ourselves.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service: Is it a fact, as announced in all Australian newspapers; that the Riverstone Meatworks, situated some 30 miles from Sydney, has been closed down and that 690 employees have lost their jobs as a consequence of this closure? Is it also a fact that in the last 7 months 168 unauthorised stoppages have taken place at this meatworks? Did any member of the Australian Council of Trade Unions or any member of the Labor Party move in any way to prevent this anarchic nonsense or were orders taken from the left wing unions that the members of the Australian Labor Party were not to intervene in any way to prevent this stupidity over the last 7 months? Is the Minister aware that I ask this question at the request of a great number of the men and their families?
– I can well understand the honourable gentleman’s concern about the impact that the announcement which was widely reported in the national Press during the last weekend has had directly on the men concerned and their families and, of course, on the operation of the plant.
– Owned by Vesteys.
– The facts are that the Riverstone Meat Co. Pty Ltd has announced the retrenchment of some 700 workers and the closure of sections of its meat operation which is a subsidiary’ of the W. Angliss Meat Company. The reason for this is clear and was adverted to by the honourable gentleman - that is, that since January this year there have been 168 stoppages in this plant. Of course, that will have an impact on honourable gentlemen on this side of the House as it should have on honourable gentlemen on the other side of the House. It is a classic example of the extent to which unemployment in the community at the present time is caused by sporadic stoppages of the type which have been mentioned and which have been condoned consistently by members of the Opposition. As the honourable, gentleman mentioned in his question, I recall no statement made by any member pf the Opposition or any member of the Australian Council of Trade Unions , deploring what has been a series of irresponsible stoppages which have led directly to the unemployment of men. The House might well ponder the simple fact that here again is a circumstance in which 700 men have lost jobs and sections of a company have been closed down simply because of the 168 stoppages to which they have been subject during a period of only 6 to 7 months. It is almost inconceivable that this should be the case, but in- fact it is the case and it is a point well worth the attention of honourable gentlemen on the other side.
– I preface my question by stating that Mr John Kinsela, a constituent of mine, captain of the- Australian wrestling team at the Munich Olympic Games and a representative of Australia at the 1968 Mexico Olympic Games, also the holder of the Queen’s Scout Award, the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award, a leader in Rotary Youth and a Vietnam veteran of 1970-71, used his savings as a deposit on a small oar of which he was owner-driver for All Purpose Messengers. John, a part Aborigine, is one of a big family that he helps to support and also has a wife and 9-weeks old baby living with his mother and family, but owing to John’s being in Munich his wife, child, mother and younger members of the family are now in straitened circumstances. I ask the Minister for Social Services whether there is any way in which his Department can assist to alleviate their distress.
– The honourable member was good enough earlier today to bring this matter to my attention. There are no funds at my disposal which could be used for this purpose, but I have no doubt that the Australian people would see that funds were made available. I know that honourable members in this House, including myself, would be only too willing to see that this matter was made good. But I have had today a communication with officials of the Australian Amateur Athletics Association. There is some difficulty about the breaching of Olympic rules and this has to be looked at to see what can be done. I think we can assure the people concerned that something will be done, although we will be careful to stay within the limits imposed by the Olympic Committee.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. Has the elimination of beef quotas to the United States of America meant increased sales for Australia? Have sales to Japan and other markets increased considerably? With this upsurge in beef export, has Australia sufficient abattoir and processing plants to cope with this huge increase? Can the Minister advise what the present position is and say whether any plans are being made to increase our processing facilities?
– It is true that as a result of the increase in Japanese quotas and the lifting of the import quota in the United States this year there will be con siderable opportunities for Australian meat exporters. I am assured by my Department that there is an adequacy of available facilities but much will depend on the degree to which they can be utilised. Already during this question time my colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service, has identified one area in which the available facilities are constricted by irresponsible stoppages, activities which of course directly affect the ability of exporters to supply the available market and to satisfy the needs of customers who are willing purchasers. If any similar movement were to spread throughout the meat industry it would be doubtful whether there were sufficient facilities. I am assured that given the availability of facilities and preparedness to work more than one shift per day, however, there is every ability within the availability of existing structures for the expected level of demand to be satisfied.
– Is the Minister for Shipping and Transport aware that 95 per cent of Tasmania’s cargo trade is carried by sea, with no road or rail alternatives as on the mainland? Has the Minister power to cancel out, in the public interest, a decision of the Australian National Line to increase freight rates? Is he aware of the recent freight rate rise which has again cast a blow at Tasmania’s economy, especially at the tourist trade? Finally, will this Government seriously consider a freight subsidy as was paid in the days when the ‘Taroona’ operated across the Strait? The position today is much worse than it was then.
– I am certainly aware of the changes in freight rates that the Australian National Line has effected in the Tasmanian trade. The freight rate increases average 1 per cent across the board. There was no general increase in the freight rate to Tasmania on this occasion. Rather, the Australian National Line sought to rationalise the services to Tasmania in an effort to meet the problems of increasing costs of wages, repairs and maintenance. Despite all its efforts of rationalising to meet increasing costs, the ANL nevertheless has had to make some adjustments to the freight rates. As a result, as I have said, it has increased freight rates on an average by 1 per cent. This increase will raise approximately an extra $200,000 against a possible or estimated loss of $1.8m, the balance of which the ANL is trying to save by the rationalisation programme. The ANL has increased the fares on the passenger service, which is its heavy loser, on the run to Sydney by 10 per cent and on the run to Melbourne by 15 per cent. This will raise an extra $150,000. Certainly, the increased charges are to be regretted, but in the face of the awful increases in costs for wages, repairs, maintenance and general overhauls that the Line has suffered, there was nothing else that it could do. The honourable member raised a question of freight subsidy. This is a proposal that has been looked at from time to time by the Government and has been rejected from time to time.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Labour and National Service and concerns the latest unemployment figures. Has the Minister’s Department made any estimate of the extent to which this increase in unemployment has been brought about by the difficulties of firms countering higher costs due both to labour disputes and to meeting excessive wage demands? Furthermore, has the Minister been able to keep any tally of the number of smaller firms throughout the country which have been obliged to close down for the same reasons?
– My own Department has not carried out studies of the type suggested by the honourable gentleman but I believe that this certainly would be a worthwhile area of inquiry at present, because if one looks back at the calendar year of 1971 one will see that average weekly earnings during that 12-monih period increased by 12.5 per cent and the consumer price index increased by 4.8 per cent as against a long term productivity growth increase of 2.5 per cent. As the honourable gentleman inferred, or directly stated, one of the inhibiting factors in the labour policies of companies throughout this country certainly is the high cost of labour. This is clear if one reflects on the increase in average weekly earnings to which I have made reference. There is no doubt that this is a factor not of insignificance in relation to the employ ment policies of employers at present. Equally, as the honourable gentleman has said, the continuing series of stoppages is a major factor which impacts itself upon the whole problem facing the Australian com*munity. which is the confidence of the business community in relation to investment and of consumers in relation to thenspending patterns. As the House will be well aware, during the last year the number of man days lost was 3 million, which was an increase of 28 per cent over that of the previous year. The Australian wage earners during that period lost-
– By how much have you reduced unemployment?
– I would have thought that honourable gentlemen opposite might well have been interested in the plight of wage earners in relation to loss of wages caused by strikes. The wage earners, whom the Opposition alleges it represents, lost during that period a total of $46m, which itself represented an increase of 46 per > cent over that of the previous year.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Labour and: National Service. I understand that recently the Minister or his Department announced that 7,775 or a similar number of men ‘have been denied the benefit of the ballot’. Is this correct? To what period does that figure relate? Does it mean that 7,775, or some similar number of men have failed to register or have committed some other offence against the National Service Act and were not prosecuted? If so, why were they not prosecuted? If they were not prosecuted, what does ‘denied the benefit of the ballot’ mean? What did happen to these men? If they were not prosecuted were others who committed similar offences prosecuted? Why has there been a difference?
– The honourable gentleman asks a series of detailed questions. Of course, I will examine the questions which he has posed for the purpose of supplying a written answer. No member of this House would expect any Minister to carry such information with him in order to give an impromptu response to a question without notice. The honourable gentleman is making the allegation or inference, or the direct statement, that this Government is not vigorous in relation to its follow up of defaulters under the National Service Act. The facts simply are these, as I recall them: In the first place, the proportion of those who do not register for national service is approximately 2 per cent. The proportion of those persons in the second area of default, that is those who do not attend for medical examination, is 0.3 per cent or 0.03 per cent’, whatever it is, it is still insignificant. The proportion of those in the third area of default, that is those who fail to render service, is 0.2 per cent. These facts indicate quite clearly that there is no substance in any general allegation that the Government is not vigorous in enforcing the requirements of the National Service Act.
The honourable gentleman specifically asked some questions about figures. In 1971-72, 106,833 persons registered for national service. The number of persons registered up to 30th June 1972 - a period of 74 years - was 749,922. Those who failed to register at the appropriate time and therefore were denied the benefit of the ballot in the year 1971-72 numbered 2,306, or 2.2 per cent of the total. Some 723 were prosecuted and convicted for failing to register during that period.
– Is the Prime Minister aware of reports that the Australian Labor Party intends to move for a parliamentary investigation into the so-called terrorist activities of the Ustashi movement? The Prime Minister will agree that the Australian people resent overseas politics being introduced into Australia. Therefore, will the Prime Minister agree to such an inquiry, but will he ensure that any such investigation is not restricted to just this one group but covers all groups whose intention is to subvert and to bring about chaos and anarchy within Australia on behalf of foreign ideologies? Or are we in Australia interested only in controlling subversion in overseas Communist countries?
– Already the Commonwealth has made investigations into the alleged operations in Australia of subversive organisations from overseas, particularly as to whether certain kinds of operations were carried out by the Mafia or by similar types of organisations. Crown Law officers and the Attorney-General also have been investigating allegations that people formerly resident in Australia were involved in subversive operations in another country. I can assure the honourable member that Crown Law officers and the Attorney-General on behalf of the Government, are investigating each of these matters in great detail. The AttorneyGeneral has made a public statement, I believe within the course of the last 3 or 4 days.
I go along with the honourable gentleman when he suggests that not only should we be looking at the activities of the types of subversive organisations I have mentioned which engage in threats, intimidation and other kinds of atrocities but that also we should be interested in those which by force and by other forms of objectionable practice are determined to overthrow democracy in this country. I will refer this matter to the Attorney-General and ensure that he inquires fully into the problem raised by the honourable gentleman.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for the Interior. 1 ask: Approximately what was the percentage of Australian Aborigines of those until recently encamped on the lawns in front of this House in the so-called Aboriginal ‘embassy”?
– I cannot give the honourable gentleman an accurate estimate of the percentage of Aborigines to Europeans who were camped at the ‘embassy’. We did have a transitory group of people over the period of the 6 months that they were camped in the ‘embassy’. In fact, when one group left another group arrived. They were mostly part Aborigines. On the days of confrontation, certainly the Aborigines and part-Aborigines were in the minority to the Europeans who were involved in the confrontation.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Customs and Excise. I ask the Minister: Has his Department completed investigations into auction sales conducted in various parts of Australia which purported to be under the auspices of his Department? Has the Minister found any illegal activities involved with those auctions, and what action has his Department taken to protect the public interest in this matter?
– Because this matter could be sub judice the honourable member will forgive me for answering the question in a different way from which it was put to me. The honourable member will recall writing to me, I think in June, pointing out that certain auction sales which purported to be auction sales of customs goods were taking place, whereas in fact the sales were not of goods that had been confiscated by my Department. We have conducted extensive inquiries and have discovered that there has been some confusion, either deliberately or accidentally caused, not only in Victoria but in other States, by use of the word ‘custom’ in the advertising matter and, in some cases, by salesmen wearing uniforms that bordered perilously close to those uniforms used by customs officers some years ago. The matter has been referred, in certain specific cases, to the Crown Law authorities and other action is being taken to make the public aware of this matter. I might say that when such sales of confiscated customs goods are made they are advertised by the Collector of Customs in each State and the sales are conducted through reputable, well recognised auctioneers only. I thank the honourable gentleman for bringing the matter to my attention.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Health: Will he, in the interest of economy, both of time and money, confer with his colleague in another place with a view to allowing members of the medical profession to prescribe larger quantities of approved drugs for chronically ill patients?
– I will be glad to discuss the honourable gentleman’s question with my colleague but I should point out to him that the maximum quantities that are prescribed are the quantities recommended by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee. In nearly all cases, as I understand it, they are related to the particular requirements of a course of treatment. Quite apart from that there does exist, under the Act, authority for the Commonwealth Director of Health in the State concerned, on application by the patient’s medical practitioner, to authorise a larger quantity than that laid down, namely, 3 months supply. But it is up to the doctor whether he applies; because he might feel it necessary, in the patient’s interest for the patient to come back and see him so that he can check on the patient’s condition in a shorter period than 3 months. I will convey the honourable gentleman’s question to my colleague and ask him to supply the honourable member with a detailed reply.
– Can the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts inform the House whether the Commonwealth ever held an option to purchase Everard Park in north west South Australia? If so, was this station sold while the Commonwealth still held the option? Can the Minister confirm that Mr B. MacLachlan has now offered the property to the Commonwealth at the price at which he purchased it and whether this offer has been accepted? How does Mr MacLachlan’s purchase price compare with the original price offered by the Commonwealth for this property? Will the Minister confirm the statements he made in the Press and elsewhere to the. ‘ effect that someone had gone behind the Commonwealth’s back in the original purchase? Had the Commonwealth given consideration to exercising its powers to acquire Everard Park prior to Mr MacLachlan’s offer to sell the property to the Commonwealth following the public outcry over the whole transaction?
– -Negotiations with Mr MacLachlan are now in the process nf being completed; As I have informed the nation already, general agreement, in principle, has been reached between Mr MacLachlan and the Commonwealth. The details still are being worked, out and as soon as the final arrangements have been made I will inform the House. ‘
– Can the PostmasterGeneral say when the regulations on warnings to be given with radio and television advertising of cigarettes will be introduced?
– Honourable members will remember that there was a meeting of Commonwealth and State Ministers on the matter of a warning on cigarette packets. I was informed that some of the States could not see their way clear to include a warning on cigarette packets until 1st May next year. Having made inquiries, I understand that 2 States - Western Australia and Victoria - will require the warning to appear on packages as from 1st January. Under that circumstance I believe that the proclamation relating to advertising on radio and television should apply from the same date. It will apply for the whole of Australia, So, there will be an element of conflict in some States as between the warning given on packages and that given on radio and television.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral to investigate personally the inordinate and unjust delay in providing satisfactory television reception in the Portland, Wallerawang and Cullen Bullen areas of New South Wales. Does the Minister know that the national and commercial translator stations were promised to be completed by mid-1972 and that the national station now is not expected to be in operation before the first quarter of 1973? As the viewers are subjected to inferior television reception but are paying the same licence fees as those who enjoy satisfactory standards, will the Minister take action to end this injustice?
– It is very easy for honourable members to make assertions such as the honourable member has made relating to delays. I am sure that the majority of the Australian public appreciate that great technical requirements are involved in the establishment or furtherance of television in any part of Australia. A good deal of the equipment must come from overseas and, if there is delay in delivery of that equipment, there is delay in completion of the installation. I assure the honourable member, as I assure those members of the public who do not have television and wish to have it at an earlier time than it is expected to be provided, that every endeavour is made by the authorities responsible to meet target dates; but this is not possible in all cases, for reasons beyond the control of those who have the responsibility.
– I address my question to the Postmaster-General. He will recall his announcement Of the proposed introduction of colour television by 1975. Can he inform the House whether, to his knowledge, individual country television stations will be able to finance the changeover from black and white to colour television? Will he assure the House that country television stations will be protected from takeovers, amalgamations or other loss of identity in contravention of the .Broadcasting and Television Act as a result of the cost of providing colour television in order to meet competition?’
– It is a fact that colour television will be possible as from 1st March 1975. It is .not . expected by the Government - or, I think, by most members of the House - that every station will have colour television as. from 1st March 1975. That statement applies to the national service, as well as to. the . commercial service. The commercial stations are protected to a degree by the ownership provisions of the Broadcasting and Television Act and it is not anticipated -that any. other protection will be required for them. I think most of us appreciate that some stations will find no difficulty in financing the establishment, of colour television, whereas others may have difficulty. I think it will be understood that there will be delay in the case of some stations, but I . will be surprised if there are many stations which are not able to arrange the necessary finance to achieve the introduction of colour television by a date not long after 1st March 1975. ‘
– As the Prime Minister has now changed his mind and agreed to. hold a public inquiry into poverty I ask him whether he has yet agreed to hold a public inquiry into overseas practices and Australian proposals on. national superannuation, which have hitherto been rejected by him and his colleagues.
– I do not remember making a statement about the matter referred to by the honourable gentleman. I will have a look at the records and I will advise him what the results are.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. During the recent oil strike what action was taken by the Government and what influence was brought to bear by other parties to bring the ridiculous oil strike to an end?
– During the recent oil strike in this country fuel was cut off to the community, some tens of thousands were thrown out of work and the jobs of hundreds of thousands were put in jeopardy because a small group of trade unionists in this country was prepared, against the interests of the great majority of the wage earners of Australia, to refuse to accept the interim decision which had been handed down by His Honour Mr Justice Moore and to down tools at the expense of their fellow unionists and at the expense of the country. The honourable gentleman asked me what action was taken by the Government. As honourable gentlemen on this side are very well aware, the Prime Minister, in a very firm statement, foreshadowed that this House would be called together if the strike were not solved within a period of 5 working days. That initiative was then followed by the initiative taken by Mr Laurie Short of the Federated Ironworkers Association, and finally the initiative taken by His Honour Mr Justice Moore. These were the significant developments which led to the solution of that dispute.
I do not know what the honourable gentleman means by ‘other parties’. If he refers to the official Opposition in this chamber, the House will be well aware that the Opposition took no concrete or constructive approach In seeking to solve this dispute, except to say that the parties ought to continue talking. There were no suggestions from the Leader of the Opposition that the men ought to return to work and negotiate their claims before the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. Let me say by way of a casual observation what a pathetic comment it is on Opposition members in this chamber that on a day following the release of the employment figures for this country there has -been not one question on unemployment from the Opposition.
– Taking up the Minister’s invitation with pleasure, I direct a question to the Prime Minister. Is it a fact that Western Australia has now had a higher rate of unemployment than any other mainland State for over a. year? Is it also a fact that, unlike most other States, Western Australia’s unemployment is concentrated in the metropolitan area where no assistance at all is received from the Commonwealth’s only emergency employment measure, the rural unemployment grant? Has the Commonwealth ignored or rejected at least 3 requests from the Western Australian Government for unemployment relief directed specifically to the metropolitan area? If so, why?
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service to answer.
– The honourable gentleman queries the position in relation to unemployment in Western Australia. It is certainly true that it is running at a much higher level than the national, average. It is also true that the Western Australian unemployment figures have been running at a much higher level than the national average for a long period of time. The honourable gentleman concurs; I see him nodding his head. The facts are that in the labour market in that State a deterioration has taken place during the course of the past 2 to 3 years. The factors which have been responsible for that position are simply these: Firstly, there has been the turndown in the number of major developmental projects and this has reduced employment in that area from 10,000 to - as I recall it - approximately 3,000. This has had an effect on associated manufacturing, supplier and engineering firms. Secondly, there has been a turndown in mineral activity because of trading conditions which will be well known to the honourable gentleman as he comes from that State. Also I recall the downturn in primary industry from about 1969. But there are some encouraging factors in
Western Australia. Firstly, farmers are reporting better seasons. Secondly, there are signs of increased optimism in the building and construction industry. Finally, the goldmining industry is expected to reach this year its highest production level for many years.
I discussed this matter with the Western Australian Minister for Labour during a recent visit to that State. Naturally, the substance of my conversation with him is a matter for the Minister concerned and is not subject to comment in this House. The problem which faces Western Australia is not new and it is not due to any factors generated by the recent economic circumstances. In making that statement I am thinking of the past few months and the unemployment picture I have painted. The fact remains that the Western Australian Government must go out and sell that State. It must bring into Western Australia new and more broadly diversified industries of a labour intensive nature. Specifically, the answer to any question of special grants is no.
-I present the report of the Fifth Conference of Presiding Officers and Clerks of the Parliaments of Australia, Fiji, Nauru, Papua New Guinea and Western Samoa.
– Pursuant to section 38 of the Industrial Research and Development Grants Act 1967 I present the Fifth Annual Report of the Australian Industrial Research and Development Grants Board for the year ended 30th June 1972.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate:
Without amendment -
Appropriation Bill (No. 5) 1971-72.
Supply Bill (No. 2) 1972-73.
Income Tax Assessment Bill (No; 2) 1972.
Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 3) 1972. Income Tax (International Agreements) Bill 1972.
Airline Equipment (Loan Guarantee) Bill 1972.
Loans (Australian National Airlines Commission) Bill 1972.
Broadcasting and Television Bill 1972.
Australian Institute of Marine Science Bill 1972.
Papua New Guinea Loan (International Bank)
Bill 1972. Tariff Board Bill 1972. Public Works Committee Bill 1972. States Grants (Advanced Education) Bill 1972. Gold-Mining Industry Assistance Bill 1972. Social Services Bill (No. 3) 1972. Stevedoring Industry (Temporary Provisions)
Without requests -
Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 1971-72. . Supply Bill (No. 1) 1972-73. Customs Tariff Validation Bill. 1972.
Assent to the following Bills reported:
Conciliation and Arbitration Bill 1972.
Seat of Government (Administration) Bill 1972.
Northern Territory (Administration) Bill 197Z .
Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 1971-72.
Appropriation Bill (No. 5) 1971-72.
Airline Equipment (Loan Guarantee) Bill 1972.
Loans (Australian National Airlines Commission) Bill 1972. .
Supply Bill (No. 1) 1972-73.
Supply Bill (No. 2) 1972-73.
Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 2) 1972.
Income Tax Assessment Bill (Nov 3) 1972.
Income Tax (International Agreements) Bill 1972.
Broadcasting and Television Bill 1972. Tariff Board Bill 1972. Customs Tariff Validation Bill 1972. Gold-Mining Industry Assistance Bill 1972. Social Services .Bill (Nq. 3) 1972. . . Stevedoring Industry (Temporary Provisions) Bill 1972.
Australian Institute of Marine Science Bill
Papua New Guinea Loan (International Bank)
Bill 1972. Public Works Committee Bill 1972.’ ‘ States Grants (Advanced Education) Bill 1972.
– I ask leave of the House to move a motion to enable the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) to move forthwith a motion of no confidence in the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt), of which he : has given notice for the next sitting.
-Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
Motion (by Mr Chipp) agreed to:
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the honourable member for Fremantle moving forthwith the motion of no confidence in the Minister for the Interior of which he has given notice for the next sitting.
Morion of No Confidence
– I move:
That this House has no confidence in the Minister for the Interior because of his handling of the affair of the removal of the Aboriginal embassy’ from the lawns in front of Parliament House.
In January there was a tent erected on the lawns in front of Parliament House to express the points of view of persons concerned about the position and status of Aborigines in this country. It was actually the second occasion on which such a tent was erected. Honourable members will recall that some 3 or 4 years ago a vigil was organised in front of Parliament House to express concern about the position of Aborigines in this country. As the weather at that time was cold and wet a tent was erected, not to the left of Parliament House - treating ‘left’ as one’s left when one stands - at the front door as occurred on the second occasion - but to the right of it. That tent was erected by Commonwealth police officers themselves. They erected h as a shelter for the demonstrators, and 1 understand that they put braziers in the tent to warm the demonstrators. I think it is obvious that that event of 3 or 4 years ago was what inspired the idea of having a tent on the lawns in front of Parliament House as a way of demonstrating. The first tent was erected by Commonwealth police officers themselves.
We have the advantage, through a debate in the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory, of finding out the assessment by the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt) of the situation. Upon that assessment he apparently acted. He expressed it in a telegram apologising for his inability to attend the opening of the Tennant Creek Sports Club. In explaining why he could not attend that function, he referred to what he regarded as the frightful dangers developing in Canberra. The Minister’s telegram read as follows:
Because elements of left wing unions and radicals threaten to cause violent demonstrations and possible bloodshed in Canberra this weekend, as was demonstrated last Sunday, I am required by the Prime Minister to return to Canberra for consultation and take steps to prevent radical elements from using Aboriginal movements for their own purposes.
This crisis situation is a cause of deep concern and, if violence does occur, the consequences will be alarming nationally.
Please convey my sincere apologies to people at Tennant Creek for inconvenience that has been caused.
Will make a point of visiting Tennant Creek in near future. Regards, Ralph Hunt.
This lurid assessment of the situation is apparently the motivation of the Minister’s actions. I am at a loss to understand the thinking of a succession of Country Party Ministers for the Interior whom we have had and who have handled the affairs of the Australian Capital Territory. I remember that in August 1966, when the present Leader of the Australian Country Party was Minister for the Interior, there suddenly appeared in the ‘Canberra Times’ a picture of a new riot squad being trained in Canberra as part of the Canberra police. They had machine guns; they had steel helmets; they had shields; and they had gas masks. After these photographs appeared in the ‘Canberra Times’. I asked the then Minister for the Interior why, in what was obviously the most peaceful capital in the Western world, it was necessary to create so fearsome a riot squad. I understand that a good deal of this equipment ultimately left the Australian Capital Territory and perhaps appeared later in Bougainville. It was similar to the equipment which was used during the original Bougainville clash. There seems to me to be a tendency to over-reaction, if not hysteria, on the part of Ministers who handle the affairs of Canberra.
I return to the present Minister for the Interior and the extraordinary statement that the situation in front of Parliament House involved ‘left wing unions and radicals’. Heavens above, the ‘Embassy’ had been there for about 7 months. I do not know what figures from left wing unions and radicals appeared there, but I would not have thought it would have mattered very much if people from left wing unions and radicals, or for that matter right wing unions, had appeared there. The ‘Embassy* was a tolerated demonstration over a period of 7 months. Subsequently a pretence was made to the public in a series of utterances that what had been discovered was that the Commonwealth Government jacked legal power to cope with squatters on public parks. When the case was before Mr Justice Fox, he pointed out that the Commonwealth had at all times had power oh an application to the court to remove the tent and that the Commissioner of Police and the Minister admitted that the Commonwealth had this power. The Minister did not seek that court procedure to remove the tent - as he wanted to - because there would have been a court case in which public arguments would have been put and reported. He wanted to avoid 2 things. He wanted to avoid a debate in the Parliament and he wanted to avoid any sort of discussion in the courts on civil rights.
The reaction of the Minister, apart from the completely unnecessary clashes which took place, has been to bring down a new ordinance - one which is unnecessary, as Mr Justice Fox pointed out, because of the already existing powers of the Commonwealth, but one in which significant changes in the law were made and made in a particular direction to which all parties represented on the Senate committee which examines regulations and ordinances have always taken exception, namely, the procedure set out in section 8c (1.) which reads: 8c. - (1.) An officer of the Department of the Interior authorised in writing by the Minister may, by instrument in writing under his hand, certify that land described in the instrument or by reference to a plan on or annexed to the instrument is unleased land that -
The old ordinance denned the city limits of Canberra quite clearly. We now have a situation in which the Minister may empower an officer and that officer by instrument in writing can declare that an area comes within the scope of the regulations. No process of publicity is necessary. It is just this exchange of defined power to one exercised from an instrument in writing which gives force and possible objectionable character to the regulations about which people may not know. The situation will be worse when this procedure fs in force than what existed before the regulations were gazetted. The regulations were gazetted and they transformed the state of the law. Erroneous statements were given out from the Government to justify the promulgation of this ordinance to the effect that the Commonwealth lacked the power to prevent trespass. Therefore, the people occupying the land might have assumed that they had a legal right to be there - since the Government itself suggested there was no law. in 40 minutes after a change in the law people, outside were expected to know the law,; and then the proceedings of ejection took place. This is what led to the clash.
The critics of the Government were not all on the Labor, side. It happens that we have a distinguished senator who is a member of the Liberal Party of Australia and also an Aborigine. I refer’ to Senator Bonner. I will quote from a report in the Courier-Mail’ of Friday, 21st July. It reads:
In Charters Towers, aboriginal . Senator N. Bonner last night predicted that yesterday’s Canberra riot would lead to an upsurge of blackpower violence in Australia.
He said: ‘I just can’t see how it can be avoided now.
There are people in our community who will seize on this opportunity to use the ‘aboriginals for their own political gain.’
Senator Bonner who was in .Charters Towers on a ‘meet the people’ tour of Queensland, criticised the Federal Government for. enforcing the ordinance under which the police acted.1 -
He said he had been assured by Government colleagues that nothing would happen ‘ while Parliament was in recess. “They knew my feelings on the matter,’ he said.
I wanted the right to have this ordinance debated in Parliament.
I agree that Executive Council has the right to make certain decisions during recess.
However, in this instance, the Executive Council should not have exercised its authority.’’
Senator Bonner accused the Government of deliberately enforcing the ordinance before debate could take place.
He added: ‘I say categorically that I am disappointed with the Government tei the point of being disgusted with its action in this issue.’
We also are disgusted with its action in this issue. We share Senator Bonner’s opinion. This is the reason why this motion has been moved. The Minister may say that it was necessary to remove the tent. A similar viewpoint has been taken by the rel* vant committee of the Parliament of Western Australia, namely, that the tent in front of the West Australian Parliament House, which is a protest against the conditions of Aboriginal housing in Western Australia, should ultimately be removed. Discussions apparently took place between the Premier of Western Australia and the demonstrators and it was agreed that after the Budget they would remove the tent. Their hopes rested on the Budget providing an adequate amount for Aboriginal housing in Western Australia, which is estimated by the State Government to need $19m although I understand the Commonwealth offering has not been one-ninth of that sum. The demonstration will continue up to the time the Budget was introduced, to emphasise the position of Aboriginal housing. 1 repeat that they agreed to remove the tent after the Budget was introduced. This was the result of sensible conversations and not the bulldozing and unfair method which the Minister used.
Assurances apparently were given by the Government to the Aboriginal senator that the ordinances would be debated. What transpired was a deliberate evasion of the Parliament and the Minister’s counsel was unable to deny the point made by the judge in the court case that existing power was adequate for the Government if they went through the proper judicial process. All these things show that what the Minister wanted to do he wanted to do clandestinely. We can understand this if we accept the hysterical assessment which the Minister made in the telegram he sent concerning the Tennant Creek sporting club. If this is his assessment of the situation, it is extremely dangerous to have a Minister handling these situations who views himself as being confronted by a colossal, lurid left wing plot when he is dealing with a group of Aboriginal demonstrators outside. I do not agree with the utterances of Black Power people. I do not believe in the method adopted by the Minister. Many demonstrators were not associated with Black Power but were Aboriginal or partAboriginal persons genuinely concerned for their people. Not only were there reactions from Senator Bonner but also damaging reactions abroad. One of the most respected newspapers in the United Kingdom is the ‘Guardian’, which used to be called the ‘Manchester Guardian’. It drew attention to an appeal made to Her Majesty the Queen by the people ejected from that tent. That newspaper made the following comment:
The appeal made to the Queen recently by Australia’s Aborigines asking her to prevent the Canberra Government fron enacting legislation said to be discriminatory, is bound to cause considerable embarrassment to Mr McMahon’s Government.
The Aboriginal leaders have asked the Queen to order Australia’s Governor-General to reserve the promulgation ‘for your Majesty’s pleasure’ of an ordinance that would empower the Government to remove the Aboriginal ‘embassy’ which has been encamped on the lawns of the Federal Parliament for S months.
The embassy- a dozen tan-and-orange tents - was established earlier this year after the rejection of an appeal by Aborigines whose tribal lands were threatened by mining development
It has achieved remarkable success in focusing Australian opinion on the plight of the Aborigine.
Initially, the Federal Government tolerated the embassy, but as the issue became more of a thorn - and the protest more effective - it foreshadowed the introduction of an ordinance to clear the tents.
Australia’s racial policies already stick in the throats of Asian nations, and with the SEATO conference opening in Canberra next month the Government apparently felt that the embassy’s continued presence (within sight of the conference hall) could bring even worse problems.
The Aboriginal embassy’s letter told the Queen that, if the ordinance is allowed to become law, it is likely to result in a serious abrogation of the rights of all Australians, whether Aboriginal or otherwise, to bring before the Federal Parliament a continuous peaceful protest
We therefore appeal to your Majesty as Queen and the ultimate source of protection, to direct his Excellency the Governor-General, Sir Paul Hasluck, that, upon such time as the proposed ordinance is presented to him for promulgation, he reserve the promulgation of it for your Majesty’s pleasure.’
It is unfortunate and extremely damaging to Australia that in such temperate and sensible terms, although they may not be constitutionally informed, the denizens of that tent and the organisers of the demonstrations from the tent have put a statement of the utmost dignity correctly diagnosing the Government’s motives before the people of Britain.
I disliked the appearance of those tents outside. They were described by somebody as visual pollution. I take the point of view that they constituted visual pollution. The sight of the tents on what was a beautiful stretch seemed to me completely to spoil the view of Canberra. I travelled 21,000 miles with a select committee inquiring into Aboriginal voting rights, but that place was a palace compared to what I saw as a member of that committee and the conditions under which Aborigines live in the south-west of Western Australia, around Gnowangerup and elsewhere where the weather is extremely cold, or generally speaking, throughout the Northern Territory. I would say it was even superior to the transitional dwellings, usually made out of aluminium and entirely inappropriate to the climate where they are erected, which are built for Aborigines in the rest of Australia. So I say to myself: ‘Much as I disliked the place being out there, it put before us constantly the position of the Aboriginal people, especially in relation to their accommodation’.
One of the most distinguished Aborigines in the country, one of the most highly educated - Mr Phillip Roberts - many years before he was an employee of the Commonwealth spoke about the conditions of the Aborigines. He said: ‘You live like princes; we live like dogs in the dust’.. He was not referring to people who lived with the dignity of nomadic and tribal life and who do not particularly need the shelters in the form required by Europeans. He was referring to people whose aspirations are towards standards of living similar to those of Europeans. It is easy to deride these people. Some of them, not all by any means, use the jargon of New. York negro Black Power. They talk about Caucasians meaning white people. They are apparently unaware that Aborigines themselves are Caucasians. All these logical things we can point out. But outside this Parliament was a protest of the heart, which was by no means ineffective ia speaking to the conscience of Australia in the persons of thousands of tourists -and others who visit this city.
If we have any sensitivity at all, we should take the trouble to see the conditions of Aborigines to remind us of the problem with which we ought to be deal. ing motivated by the utmost generosity. All through this situation we had firstly a Liberal Minister in charge of Aboriginal Affairs, the Honourable W. C. Wentworth, and now we have the Minister for the Environment Aborigines and the Arts, the
Honourable Peter Howson co existing with a Country Party Minister in charge of the land and in charge of practical events. When any of these Aboriginal evictions or denials of right take place the Liberal Minister who is supposedly the defender of the Aborigines does, like the House of Lords in Gilbert and Sullivan, nothing in particular and does it very . well. There seemed to be no ministerial concern from the Department of Aboriginal Affairs. We heard of no ministerial protection being given or no concern being expressed. The regulations were gazetted and. the duty to conduct an unnecessary clash was imposed upon the police of Canberra and upon the people who were in the tents. This proceeded from the extraordinary, assessment of a situation of great danger which was made by the Minister for the Interior and for knowledge of which we are indebted to the Northern Territory Legislative Council which gave publicity to his telegram.
-Is the’.. “ motion seconded?
– I second the motion and reserve my right to speak later…
– The first thing that I want to say in reply to the honourable , member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley)’ -.is, that- he based most of his argument upon what he regarded to be an extraordinary assessment I. had made of what could have, transpired on that Sunday, 30th July.. :We- can all make, our assessments and we;can all-have our hindsight, but we saw published in the Press on 26th July a statement by one of the Aboriginal leaders. Under, the headline Preparing for . Sharpeville’ this ..article appeared in one of the Canberra . newspapers: .’k
Aboriginal leaders last night were,; preparing for another Sharpeville’ following a . judge’s .rejection of an injunction to allow the Aboriginal, ‘embassy’ to be re-erected. They said ‘ a mass demonstration of ‘Aboriginals, students and trade unionists would be held on Sunday outside Parliament . House to re-establish the tent embassy.
– You ought .to read about Sharpeville. - :.
– I will tell the honourable member what happened at Sharpeville. On 26th March 1960 at Sharpeville -in South Africa there was a direct confrontation between black Africans and police,- leaving 67 people dead and 168 injured. It was against that background that I felt I had to return to Canberra to talk to people to ensure that we did not have the violence that was predicted by some people. I have read that the main thrust of the attack that has been upon me as the responsible Minister is related to the propriety of gazetting the amended Trespass on Commonwealth Lands Ordinance while Parliament was in recess. I remind the House that the Ordinance was made under the provisions of section 12 of the Seat of Government (Administration) Act. The Ordinance was designed by the Government to prohibit camping on unleased land in the city area of Canberra unless such land had been declared a camping area by the Minister for the Interior or unless a permit had been granted in relation to one of the special purposes identified in the Ordinance.
The honourable member for Fremantle quoted what one of our learned judges in Canberra has said but the legal advice that was available to the Government indicated that in order to protect unleased Commonwealth lands from camping, whether it be on median strips, nature strips or areas around Parliament House, the Ordinance itself would have to be amended. So acting on that advice the Government amended the Ordinance. The legislation does not restrict the traditional rights of freedom of speech or assembly or the rights of people to protest. This form of legislation gives powers similar to that which relates to the control of camping on what might be described as municipal land and is common throughout Australia. As honourable members wm recall, the so-called embassy was established on 26th January 1972, and legal advice given to the Government was that existing law did not satisfactorily cover the situation and that it was desirable to have specific provisions. In February 1972, hi answer to a question from the right honourable member for Higgins (Mr Gorton) atom the campers, I indicated that the people concerned were Aborigines demonstrating in a peaceful way for a cause in which they believed. But I said that for the future we would have to look at the Ordinance to ensure that the Parliament House lawns were reserved for their proper use and were not to be a place on which persons could camp indefinitely. The fundamental fact remains that the Government was faced with the situation in which any protest group or minority group, whether they be fascists, Croatians, unionists, pensioners, wool growers, wheat growers - you name it - could camp with impunity on the lawns outside this building or on unleased land in the city area of the national capital, Canberra. How could a responsible Government tolerate such a situation when a defect in the law had been exposed.
It is not a question of the Government taking action against the Aborigines; it is a question of the Government facing up to its responsibilities of preserving public places in Canberra for public use. Surely no group should have the right to pitch tents indiscriminately and to proclaim a cause for a lengthy period, thereby impeding the access of people to public areas. It was to give effect to that basic principle that the amendments to the Trespass on Commonwealth Lands Ordinance were drafted. It was not an easy exercise, because it was necessary to balance adequately the right of individuals against that of the public interest. On 11th May 1972 I stated to this House that the Government intended to bring in an Ordinance. I made it clear that the Ordinance would make it generally an offence for persons to camp on unleased land in the city area and would empower authorities to remove their possessions if they did not comply within a reasonable time with a direction to remove them. In my statement I stressed that the law would apply to the areas around Parliament House. An identical statement was made by Senator Cotton in the Senate and it is important to recall that not one member of the Opposition either in this House or in the Senate took the opportunity to challenge the Government’s intention or decision in this matter.
– That is a lie.
– Order! The honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory will withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw it, but what the Minister has said is not accurate.
– The honourable members of the Opposition may have sat pat for ulterior motives, certainly for reasons best known to them; but nobody can deny that every member of the Opposition in both places had his opportunity to challenge the Government on its intention when I made a statement to this House. In accordance with the procedures of the Parliament I gave Parliament the opportunity publicly to debate the Government’s intention.
– You did not.
– I am sorry if I spoil the honourable member’s story. I remind the House that I was not under any obligation to make such a statement, although in the circumstances of this case I felt it was necessary to give every member of the Parliament a chance to voice his view before the Ordinance was made. At that time the camp bad been in existence for some 3 months during which time it had deteriorated significantly. Soon after the Parliament had been informed of the Government’s intentions I had the first of a number of discussions with representatives of the campers, the then spokesmen, Mr John Newfong, in particular. I spoke with other Aboriginal leaders, including Mr Joe MacGinness and Mr Chicka Dixon of the Federal Council of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. I also had discussions with the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) and the honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross) about the removal of the embassy. During all these discussions I made it clear that the Government was firm in its intention to legislate to prevent people from pitching tents at will in the city area. In the course of these discussions we canvassed the possibility of a national representative group of Aborigines obtaining a more permanent and dignified presence in Canberra. I held firmly to the view that the continued presence of scruffy tents outside Parliament House was not serving either the interests of the Aboriginal people or the Parliament in a dignified way.
In accordance with practice, the amending ordinance was referred to the Australian Capital Advisory Council on 13th June, that is, about 5 weeks before the removal of the embassy. The member for the Australian Capital Territory was given a copy of the Ordinance on 1st June and I am told that he lost it but subsequently obtained another. The Ordinance was made in the normal way but before it became law a senior officer of the Australian Capital Territory Police Force visited the campers on 17th July. They were informed that the law would be introduced shortly and that it would require them to remove themselves and their tents from the lawns. The campers were provided with a copy of the proposed Ordinance and an explantion of its effect. The officer concerned gained the clear impression that they would comply with the law when it was introduced.
Indeed, on 18th July in the ‘Canberra News’, it was reported:
Staff at the Aboriginal ‘Embassy’ say that they will co-operate with the Australian Capital Territory police and move their camp on the lawns opposite Parliament House without violence.
In the same report the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory was reported as saying that it was imperative in the interests of decency that no action be taken against the embassy on the lawns of Parliament House until the Parliament was in session. Perhaps this was the catalyst which caused the change of attitude. Indeed, in the ‘Canberra News’ a camp spokesman, Mr Ambrose Brown, said that they would not resist the police and members would maintain operations from an office in Canberra.
The ordinance was gazetted on 20th July 1972 and was publicly available at 10.30 a.m. on that date. Shortly after, the ACT police informed the campers that the law had been made and requested the campers to remove their tents from the lawns. It was at this point that there was a dramatic change of attitude. For the first time, the campers indicated to the police that they would not move voluntarily. It is significant that, whereas normally the so-called ‘embassy’ has been staffed by only one or two persons, on the date on which the Ordinance was gazetted the police were confronted by forty or more people in an organised demonstration. The police requested the demonstrators, comprising part Aborigines and Europeans, to permit them to remove the remaining tent. They were warned that if they did not do so they would be obstructing the police in the execution of their duty. The demonstrators made it clear that they had no intention of moving, and accordingly the police removed the tent. The Police Commis- sioner informed me that the resistance by the demonstrators was more excessive than at any previous demonstration in the ACT.
In an effort to avoid further confrontation and violence, officers of my Department, including the Police Commissioner, met with representatives of the demonstrators on Sunday morning, 23rd July. An offer was made to assist the accommodation problems of those campers involved in legal proceedings to test the validity of the Ordinance. This offer was not taken up. While these discussions were in progress it was learned that a further demonstration had already commenced and that a body of demonstrators was marching from the Australian National University to Parliament House. On their arrival at Parliament House the demonstrators attempted to erect a tent in the area previously occupied by the campers. The police advised them that any attempt to re-erect the tent would be in contravention of the existing law. This advice was ignored and they elected the tent. The police dismantled the tent after the demonstrators had ignored the repeated police requests.
We then move on to a further demonstration on 30th July. It was reported that plans were being made for a much larger demonstration on 30th July. Arrangements were made for busloads of demonstrators to converge on Canberra from many parts of Australia. Militant left wing unions, including the New South Wales branch of the Builders Labourers Union were planning to become involved. Indeed, it was reported that the so-called ‘front line troops’ of the Builders Labourers Union - thugs and bikies - were also planning to participate, lt was against this background that on 26th July I met with representatives of the demonstrators and discussed with them a more dignified permanent presence in the national capital for some truly representative Aboriginal group. (Extension of time granted.) I would like to thank the honourable member for Fremantle for his courtesy in moving for an extension of time. However, I made it clear that, in the terms of the law, the tents could not be erected outside Parliament House on unleased land in the city area. Further conferences took place on 28th July between officers of my Department and representatives of the demonstrators then in Canberra.
An endeavour was made to persuade the demonstrators to call off the movement of interstate professional demonstrators to Canberra. It was agreed that the Commonwealth would bring 9 leaders nominated by the Aborigines to Canberra to discuss the matter with the Ministers.
On 29th July my colleagues, the Minister for Environment, Aborigines and the Arts (Mr Howson) and the Minister for Education and Science (Mr Malcolm Fraser), the Chairman of the Council for Aboriginal Affairs (Dr Coombs) and officers of my Department met with Aboriginal leaders in Canberra. The discussions lasted 2 hours. While the discussions were taking place the demonstrators were converging on Canberra from a number of centres throughout Australia. For the record, I am pleased to say that, in spite of attempts by radical groups to pressure Aborigines from my own home town of Moree, they refused to be associated with the activities of those who were hell-bent on creating further violence outside Parliament House.
On Sunday, 30th July, there was a large demonstration outside Parliament House involving 2,000 demonstrators. Every effort was made to avoid serious risk of violence and injury, and although the police were in strength on this occasion they made no effort to interfere with or to prevent what was recognised as the temporary erection of a tent on the lawns as a symbolic gesture. At the invitation and with the cooperation of the demonstrators the tent was removed in the afternoon. Although all the seeds of violence were present on that Sunday afternoon, the police behaved in an exemplary fashion while under considerable pressure. The majority of the Aboriginal leaders sought to restrain, and in fact succeeded in restraining, the more radical elements. Indeed, I would like to quote from a letter I have received from the Australian Capita] Territory Council of Civil Liberties. The Secretary wrote:
It is my pleasure to write to you on behalf of the Canberra branch of the Council for Civil Liberties to offer our support to, and appreciation of, your recent attempts to resolve the problem of the Aboriginal Embassy in Canberra.
May I also offer through you our congratulations to Mr R. A. Wilson, Commissioner of Police, and to the members of his force for their careful handling of the demonstration in front of
Parliament House last Sunday, 30th July 1972. My council feels that the discreet way in which the police p’.ayed their part contributed very largely to the demonstration proceeding in a peaceful and orderly fashion, despite the fact that throughout there was always a very serious possibility that violence might erupt.
While the opinions of my council and your colleagues in the Government may differ widely as to the desirability and conduct of demonstrations of the type that took place last Sunday, I am sure that we will all agree that the events of last Sunday went a long way to strengthening the democratic processes which we are all proud of in Australia.
Yours sincerely, H. M. BOOT, Secretary
As Minister for the Interior executing a Government decision, I am confident that I do not deserve to be the object of a motion of censure in this House. I repeat that the Government decided to amend the Ordinance to prevent people from camping at will on unleased Gommonealth land in the city area. Notice was given to this effect in this Parliament on 11th May. No Opposition member chose to debate the issue on that day. I repeatedly stated that the Government was firm in its intention. I had numerous discussions with the Aborigines concerned. I stressed that they had had a fair go. They had been there for over 6 months and they had made their point. They were not bringing dignity to the Parliament or to themselves in continuing to camp in the way they were. The camp had degenerated into a squabbling, untidy and insanitary spectacle. I sought to find a more dignified presence for the Aborigines in the Australian Capital Territory.
I believe that the whole situation surrounding this affair has been influenced by the political objectives of certain sections of the Australian Labor Party. I do not underestimate their involvement in what must surely be one of the most mischievous plots of our time. The Government has a great sympathy with the problems of the Aboriginal people but we have to remember what the campers were demanding. For the purposes of the record what the campers were demanding was reported in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ on 7lh February 1972, as follows:
Fufl State rights for the Northern Territory under Aboriginal ownership and all titles for mineral ownership. All other reserves and settlements in Australia with their titles to mining and mineral rights. Mineral and mining rights in certain towns and cities. Preservation of all sacred Abor° iginal sites included in parts 1 and 2. Compensation of an initial payment of $6 billion for all other land throughout Australia and a percentage of the gross national product each year.
In a debate in this House on 23rd February 1972 I asked the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) what was the Labor Party policy in relation to the recognition of traditional land rights outside reserves. I asked whether the Labor Party believed that compensation should be paid to Aborigines who claim traditional land outside reserves. As far as I know there has been no reply. In exercising my responsibility as the Minister for the Interior in this Government 1 regret that violence did occur and that injuries were sustained. I regret that outside stirrers succeeded in their endeavours, but I make no apologies for the efforts I made to administer the law and to prevent the violence which occurred on Sunday, 30th July 1972.
– Order! The Minister’s time has expired.
– Towards the end of the speech made by the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt) we heard the true opposition or argument from the Government as to why the Aboriginal embassy was there. It had nothing to do with tents or with people camping on Commonwealth Crown Land, The real opposition from the Government, the real thing that offended it, the real thing it could not stomach, was the reminder out there by those 2 flags, the sign ‘Aboriginal Embassy’ in a symbolic form, and the tents, that these people claim land rights - something that was taken from them many years ago. That is a political thing, and towards the end of his speech the Minister reiterated it and came back to it; it was the point on which he wanted to finish. He said that the Aborigines were there for political reasons; that they were there not just to live in a tent but to make a political point; and that they were exercising a right to assemble. This statement came right out of the Minister’s mouth. There are a number of reasons why this House should not have confidence in the Minister for the Interior. It is quite a pity that there are almost no Liberals present in the chamber.
– Have a look at those that are.
– Yes, have a look at those 2 or 3 - with one notable exception. At the moment the Government benches consist almost entirely of members of the Australian Country Party. Where are the Liberals who espouse Liberal principles? Unfortunately 15 minutes is not a long enough time in which to cover all the points. The Minister said that the Aboriginal embassy came there on Australia Day. Rather he omitted to say that, but it was Australia Day. The Aborigines made it clear that they hoped to stay there until Parliament began sitting in order to make their point - the Minister says it was a political point - concerning a claim for land rights. The Government kept saying: ‘We will not tolerate their presence’. Naturally, like any human being, the Aborigines said: We will not be told not to do something which we want to do, which is completely legal and which we are allowed to do’. They said that they would stay on until President Suharto from Indonesia came. Again, they were on the verge of going and again the Government came along and said: ‘You will go’. It was at that time that the Press began to play it up.
Because the Minister for the Interior has made so much of the lack of opposition, as he calls it, from the Labor Party on the 11th May, let me give some examples of the opposition that was made. In March I sent a telegram to the Minister saying that I personally opposed any move to move the Aboriginal embassy and that if the Minister was going across to the embassy I would like to go with him. But I received no answer to or no acknowledgment of the telegram I sent on 6th March this year. Towards the end of March the Labor Party members on the Opposition benches produced to this Parliament 10 or 12 petitions from my constituents - people who live in the Australian Capital Territory - protesting at the reported moves that the Government was making to move the embassy.
Indeed, I remind the House that on one occasion I took the unusual step of moving that the petition be printed. The motion was debated in this House in one sense - that I gave the reasons why the petition should be printed. It contained the expression of view of the people in Canberra, that the Government was up to something horrible and that it should be criticised for being up to it. I said that the petition should be given the widest possible distribution, that it should get into the books and that the world should know what this Government was up to. No-one on the Government benches spoke against the motion and it was carried unanimously.
Opposition to what the Government was up to continued. The Minister will recall that on 11th May 1972, when he said that there was no opposition to the Government’s move - 1 know he heard it because I saw his face when he read the statement out - I shouted: ‘Shame! You frightened little men’. I repeat what I said: ‘Shame! You frightened little men’. It was widely reported in the Canberra newspapers on the following day. If that is not opposition to the Minister’s point, I do not know what it is.
The Minister said m his statement that it was the Government’s intention to bring in an ordinance which would fill a need in relation to the law in regard to trespass on Commonwealth land in Canberra. I do not really see any reference to Aborigines in that statement. He said finally that adequate public notice would be given of the coming into effect of the ordinance. I ‘ repeat, he said that adequate public notice would be given of the coming into effect of the Ordinance. What would any Opposition member want to do when told that an ordinance dealing with trespass on land could come in? The statement did not use the words ‘Aborigine’, ‘tent’ or any relevant words. …’.
I remind the Minister, when it comes to a question of his credibility, that on television he said that when the ordinance came in the Aborigines would be given a couple of weeks - a reasonable time–within which to get off the land. I heard him say it. We moved towards the end of the parliamentary session and the Minister- I ‘ suppose it could be argued that he -reads ‘ the Canberra newspapers as he is responsible for the administration of Canberra- ‘ will remember a Press statement I released which was given some publicity at ‘the time. It said that this Government would not introduce any ordinance dealing’’ with the removal of the embassy while Parliament remained in session; that it’ would not be game to; that it would wait until the parliamentarians went back to Perth,
Brisbane, Townsville and Darwin - not that Darwin matters much in this context. The statement said that when they went back to the various parts of Australia the Government would sneak this ordinance in like a thief in the night. Is that not exactly what the Government did?
Let me take the Ministery up to 20th July 1972. Rumours ran around this city that the ‘Gazette’ coming out on Thursday, 20th July, would contain a gazettal about the ordinance. On Thursday morning, 20th July, 1 had the officers in the legislative research section of this Parliament - very capable people - trying to tell me for an hour whether that ordinance had been gazetted. They could not find out. Do honourable members know how I found out? I was in my city office at the time and I wanted to come across to Parliament House. I got the information from an inspector of the ACT police force. In the end he said: ‘If you want to know what is going on, look out your window*. He thought that I was in my office in Parliament House. When I arrived at the Aboriginal embassy the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) was there. Do honourable members know what I found? The police had dismantled the tents and there were-
– Did you find the ordinance that was given to you?
– That was never lost. You need not be taken away by that. Let me tell honourable members what I saw, because the Minister for the Interior had not been near the place. He talks about radical left wing elements. I saw a group of Aborigines and white people linked arm in arm around the remaining tent which carried the flag and the sign ‘Aboriginal Embassy’. I recognised some of the people. I recognised the Reverend Jim Udy, a very respectable clergyman in Canberra, linked arm in arm with the Aborigines. I recognised the Reverend George Garnsey, another very respected and responsible clergyman from Canberra, linked arm in arm with the Aborigines. I recognised Bruce Kent, another responsible, recognised and well known man in Canberra, linked arm in arm with the Aborigines. I saw no-one who could be called irresponsible or within any mythical conspiratorial nonsense that the Minister goes on with. At that stage the police, under the action and directions of the Minister, were proceeding to whale in. They were sooled on by the Minister, if you like, although he was not game to be there, and were pulling them away. I saw violence.
This is why this House should have no confidence in the Minister. Until that time that demonstration had been the most successful peaceful symbol of the Aboriginal claim for land rights that one could possibly imagine. The Embassy had been there for 6 months and had attracted tourists. The children of tourists had gone to the Embassy and collected signatures and Aboriginal literature. The Embassy had been a peaceful symbol of the Aboriginals’ claim for land rights. What did the Minister and the Government he represents do? He converted that peaceful symbol into a symbol of violence. The Minister has come along here and hypocritically made reference to Sharpeville. He talked about events 4 or 5 days later when there was an explosive situation. The peaceful symbol had been destroyed. I have enormous respect for the Australian Capital Territory police, although no-one has fought the police more than I have in the courts in previous days. But the police had been sooled on to these people by this Minister.
– Oh, rot.
– Put any other different word to it. There were broken limbs and skin was torn. There was violence. What else does one call it? I have spoken to some of the officers concerned. The police were deliberately disarmed. I will tell honourable members this: On the second time round when the 2,000 people assembled, the Aborigines searched each other - this is a measure of their responsibility - to ensure that there would be no arms of any sort on any of them if anything got out of control. There is a measure of responsibility for you. On that occasion we saw violence in this town that was completely unnecessary - violence that had been created and provoked by this Minister.
May I give another example? That afternoon I received a message that some of the Aborigines and some of the gentlemen to whom I have already referred had gone to the police station to lend moral support to the people who had been arrested as a result of the fracas and who were being released on bail. I went across to the police station. There I saw the real measure of what this Minister has brought about, this transformation of a peaceful symbol into a violent symbol. I saw outside of the door of the police station 20 or 30 constables - not the 300 who had been there before. They were not standing to attention but were standing at ease. Confronting them was a very angry group of people made up of demonstrators as well as the wives and supporters of the demonstrators. There was one very young Aboriginal lady who was hysterical. She claimed that her husband had had his head bashed in, or something like that, by a policeman. These policemen are my constituents as much as are the people who go there to demonstrate. The Minister has brought about this antagonism between them. This is why I get angry. The demonstrators quite naturally were taking out their anger on the police. The people who were speaking to the demonstrators had their backs to the line of police. I refused to do that because I take the view that in this situation the police should know what you have done to them. They should know the dirty, filthy job that the Minister has given them to do.
– Cut it out.
– I am not cutting it out. I am trying to tell you what the situation was. The Government nearly had a Sharpeville incident. If the moderate speakers had not poured some oil on these waters and put that fire out there would have been trouble that afternoon and this Minister could have been deliberately and directly held responsible.
Let me take the story one step further, and I appreciate that my time is limited. Let me move to what happened during the following week. The responsible editor of one of Canberra’s newspapers came to me towards the end of the week - about Thursday. He was not looking for a story. He came because of the responsible reports he had heard that an explosive situation was going to arise in Canberra and that the Government was doing nothing about it - it was just washing its hands like Pontius Pilate.
The Minister will remember these events. I sent him a telegram because all of the reports said that he and his colleague - I suppose that one can call the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts (Mr Howson) a colleague - were in Darwin or somewhere doing something else probably quite irrelevant, given the situation that had arisen in Canberra. The reports had it that the Minister was trying to bribe off the demonstrators with the offer of Beauchamp House. After all, we remember that the thread running through the Minister’s speeches has been that ‘perhaps they do not want land rights; perhaps they want a club or something like that in Canberra’; or ‘Perhaps if I offer them something they will go away and they will not trouble me with their unpleasant, embarrassing political demands’. So there was talk about Beauchamp House. I had a telegram from the Assistant Secretary, Mr Ballard, on the point. Nothing was done. As the .Minister points out, there was widespread support all over this country for the Aboriginals because of the insult that this Government had laid at the door of the Aboriginal cause. Truckloads of people did come in. There was an explosive situation.
On the Sunday when the 300-odd police were outside Parliament House every responsible and respected citizen : of Canberra, also was there. Mr Jim Pead of the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council was there doing his best to try to talk to the responsible officers in the Department and the police. There was Professor Hal Wootten down from Sydney who was doing his best. I was there, as well as many of the members of the Advisory Council, doing our best. Where was this Minister? He was nowhere to be seen. We had this explosive situation.
– Perhaps it is as well he was not there.
– That could be so. There was anger - terrible anger. But to their credit, the police kept their cool. When the demonstrators arrived marching, there was then a strong element of what I suppose loosely could be called black power people. The clenched fist salute was given and chants for land rights could be heard. This type of activity was not present before this Minister put the police in to move the Embassy away in the way he did. A peaceful demonstration had been converted to a symbol of violence which will now be associated forever with this Government and with the Aborigine’s cause. The demonstrators sat down and they were addressed by their own people.
– Order! The honourable member’s time has expired. (Extension of time granted.)
– I am indebted to the House, Mr Deputy Speaker. The people sat down. Perhaps there were 2,000 of them. Having marched all the way from the Australian National University they heard speeches. Not one word of violence was uttered. The Minister talks about trouble makers and the radicals. I was there and I did not hear or see any of them. The Minister was not there. I say to the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr Anthony) that they played a guitar and sang songs. They talked about the cause of Aborigines and the cause of land rights. I spoke to the Commissioner of Police who was doing his best because he did not quite know what had happened. I spoke to Hal Wootten, who said - and I am sure that he will not mind me saying so in this context - that all his efforts had left him with a feeling of frustration. He said that he could get no sense out of the Government It was as though they had turned their backs, closed their eyes and said: ‘We do not know what is going to happen; we have no way of controlling it; we will just walk away from the thing*. Anyone who was there on that day will confirm what I am saying.
As the Minister has said, word was conveyed to Mr Wilson, the Commissioner of Police, that the demonstrators would march back to the Australian National University. They did. He was told that a token force would remain within the tent but that there would be no trouble. He was told that the police could remove the tent. The police did. They found 5 or 6 men in the tent with their fingers raised in the Churchill V for Victory sign. Here was your violence. When the tent was taken away from around them they held up a symbolic piece of canvas, walked to where the police line was, threw it down and walked away. If that is not self-discipline, I do not know what is. What hypocrisy it was for ‘the Minister to suggest in the letter which he wrote to me on 4th August that all of the credit for the absence of violence goes to the Australian Capital Territory police. Full marks to the Australian Capital Territory police. But I say full marks also to those demonstrators and no marks at all for the Minister or for this Government whom he represents. There are many reasons why this House should have no confidence in the Minister. The first is his dishonesty about the strong suggestion in the television programme when he said that he knew that the Ordinance was to be gazetted at a time when the Parliament would not be sitting. I will read the Minister’s words to him if he will just listen and not wander away. He will remember that shortly after the violent removal of the tent on 20th July he was interviewed on television and it was put to him: ‘Would you rather that this would have happened when the Parliament was sitting?’ The Minister had been referring to how he had announced the intention to Parliament on 11th May. I already have put to the House what he said on that day - that adequate public notice would be given. Ten minutes public notice was given. When the Minister was talking to this interviewer about how on 11th May he had made an announcement to the Parliament the questioner asked: ‘Would you rather that this would have happened when the Parliament was sitting?’ The Minister’s answer was: Well, I knew that this was not going to happen and this is why I felt obliged to inform the Parliament of the Government’s decision on 11th May’.
So on 11th May he knew he was going to wait until after the politicians had dispersed before slipping this Ordinance through in the way in which he did. One might ask why he waited. I suggest that it was because he could not face up to it at that stage and he misled the Parliament when he said that adequate notice would be given.
I have told the House that I could not find out whether the Ordinance had been gazetted on that Thursday morning. The honourable member for Wills could not find out; I could not find out. I got the information from an inspector of police who was not unsympathetic to the cause of the demonstrators. In his interview the Minister said: ‘it is interesting to note not one member of the Labor Party, the Opposition, at that time, from either the House of Representatives or the Senate objected to the Government’s intention’. What rubbish! I have already referred to the long history of opposition, the petitions that have been presented to the Parliament, the telegrams sent to the Minister, the Press statements dealing with the subject and finally, to my shouting of: ‘Shame! You frightened little men’. That is exactly what honourable members opposite are. I hurled those words across the chamber at the Minister. He heard them because he looked at me when he heard them.
There should be no confidence in the Minister because of the dishonesty, the lack of tolerance and the hypocrisy underlying the whole situation and, finally, because of sheer incompetence. On this point I should like to conclude by reading what Mr Justice Fox said in dealing with the challenge made to the legality of this Ordinance. I have a copy of the transcript of the judgment. The learned judge - one would think quite an objective, independent person - at page 24 of the transcript, referring to this way of making laws, particularly laws which affect the lives of people, but laws generally in Canberra, said:
You would not take long to convince me that section 12-
That is the section of the Seat of Government (Administration) Act under which this type of legislation is enacted - is an unsatisfactory scheme of legislation. There are plenty of other examples of the same kind of comment from the judge in his judgment. At page 96 of the transcript he said: lt seems to me on the material presently before me that the position was that the Embassy and those constituting the Embassy could lawfully have been required to leave land under the principles of the general law and without the aid of the ordinance. As I see the matter if it in fact had been necessary the responsible authorities could have applied to this court for appropriate orders to achieve their desired results.
The Minister has spoken about the legal advice he was given. But I remind the Minister that the learned judge said:
As I understand him, counsel who appears for both the Minister and the Commissioner of Police does not dispute that some such course was available under the general law.
In saying that the judge was referring to the Minister’s own counsel who appeared in the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory and who said that the embassy could have been removed under the existing law without this Ordinance. I ask the Minister: ‘Where is your legal advice now?’ Is that not incompetence? For these reasons I support the motion.
– It is a pity that the important issues of this debate which were set out by the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Beazley) have been obscured by that hysterical outburst we have just witnessed from the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr Enderby). The honourable member threw, across the floor of this House, a number of wild accusations which are completely irrelevant to the main issues which we should be discussing. I intend to deal with only one of them, namely, the accusation that the police of the Australian Capital Territory were sooled on by the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt). The honourable member should know quite well that the responsibility for administering the law in the Australian Capital Territory lies solely with the police. In this matter . the police were carrying out their duties and any thought that a Minister was sooling on the police I think needs to be scotched right at the start! This is an accusation that the honourable member should retract if he has any decency.
I think there are 2 issues that need to be examined. They were raised by the. honourable member for Fremantle. The first concerns the use of the lawns in front of Parliament House and the second is the question of protest by Aboriginal people here and in other parts of Australia’. The first involves the responsibility of the Minister for the Interior and is the subject of this no confidence motion.’ AfteV what we have heard from the Minister for the Interior I think that this House should have every confidence in him for ,the way in which, in a very difficult situation,, he has acted with full integrity and full, probity. He has from me and all members on this side of the House full confidence in what he has undertaken, namely, the maintaining of the law in respect of the use of the lawns of Parliament House.
The other matter to which I think I should direct my attention concerns protests and the needs and aspirations of the Aboriginal people and the aid that this Commonwealth Government should be giving to them at this stage of our history. The honourable member for Fremantle knows full well that he, the hononourable member for Macquarie (Mr Luchetti), many other honourable members and I were present during the survey carried out in 1961 from which we saw that there is this socio-economic dilemma of ethnic minority groups as part of a world-wide phenomenon. It is not something for which any of us can prescribe easy solutions, but what we have clearly stated as a Commonwealth Government is that we have an objective towards which we are moving, namely, to create in Australia a single society while at the same time recognising the disparate history of ethnic, cultural and spiritual characteristics of the Australian community. But we do wish to move towards one single society. That is the aim of the Government and it is towards that aim that I think we should address ourselves.
One thing that I have been endeavouring to do as Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts is to improve the dialogue between the Government and the Aboriginal people. For too long there have been various solutions and slogans, and socalled representatives of the Aboriginal people, both European and Aboriginal, putting forward their views. However, it has been difficult at any one time to assess what are the real needs of Aboriginal people in Australia at the present time and to determine how we will achieve a degree of integration into the general society in which we live? The needs and the problems are not uniform throughout Australia. The needs of people in the capital cities, the people who have moved out of their old Aboriginal situations into European situations in the cities, are obviously very different from the needs of people still in the tribal areas in the north. So, it has been for this purpose that for the last few months I have been endeavouring to call together a conference of as widely rep resentative groups of Aboriginal people as possible in order to start that dialogue between the Government and the Aborigines. It has not been easy. For some time I asked the Council for Aboriginal Affairs to seek the best available means of calling together that national conference. But we succeeded and last week this conference was held. I think it is known that that conference was free to ask advice, and to receive submissions, from any source it wished to consult. It was open to the Press and its deliberations received wide publicity. I have received from that conference a series of 39 resolutions and I think the House knows that I am in the process of considering them. I hope and believe that that conference is the embryo of a continuing process of dialogue and meaningful discussion between the Government and the Aboriginal people. That is something which has not existed in the past.
Having stated how I believe we shall be able to understand these needs more closely, I now wish to inform the House of what has taken place while I have been Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts. In spite of the slighting remarks of the honourable member for Fremantle, I believe a very great deal has been done over the past few months.
– I spoke about your actions in a crisis, not your actions as a Minister.
– Let me deal with my actions as a Minister. As these important matters have been raised let me refer to the important decisions we have made respecting land for Aborigines. Three important moves were announced by the Prime Minister (Mr McMahon) on 26th January. The first dealt with the creation of general purpose leases, leases to apply to land on reserves in the Northern Territory, and leases to be granted to Aboriginal communities which have the intention and ability to develop the land on which they are living for economic and social purposes, ensuring, at the same time, that those applications do not interfere with other groups which may be living close to them at that time. The important thing is that there has been no change of policy for those people living on reserves in the
Northern Territory who wish to continue with the present use that they are making of their land. That new policy was announced for those who wish to make new uses of the land. Many groups already have applied for these leases and I believe, therefore, that this first policy is fulfilling a need felt by the Aboriginal people living on reserves at this time, particularly in the Northern Territory.
Secondly, for those people living off reserves, the Government announced its policy of purchasing areas of land, pastoral properties, as they become available for the use of Aboriginal people. It is well known that I am in the process of negotiating for a number of these properties, both in the Northern Territory and in the States. We have appropriated $13m to underwrite this programme over the 5-year period.
– 1 rise to a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I think that the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts ought to be informed by the Chair of the subject matter that is now before the House. The matter with which he has been dealing is one that we on this s<ide of the chamber would welcome as the subject of a general debate, namely, the administration of Aborigines by his Department. However, on the issue that is before us he is particularly wide of the mark.
– There is no substance in the point of order.
– My remarks relate to the purpose of the protests outside the House, the matter which we are discussing, and are directed to the use of land by Aboriginal people. Therefore it is right that the policy of the Government on this matter should be widely disseminated. 1 wish also to deal with Aboriginal sacred sites and sites of special significance because this goes to the heart of the matter. The protests related to the question of land rights and it is that policy that we are debating. Therefore I think the House should be cognisant of it. The Government has said that it shall endeavour as soon as possible to preserve and delineate for all time the use of those special sacred sites for Aboriginal people. This was part of the policy announced on 26th January. I asked the Institute of Aboriginal Studies to convene a gathering in order to find nut best-
– I rise again to a point of order, and I draw your attention, Mr Deputy Speaker, to the Standing Orders. This House is debating a motion of no confidence in the Minister for the Interior because of his handling of the affair of the removal of the Aboriginal ‘Embassy’ from the lawns in front of Parliament House. My point of order is that at no time during his address to the House has the Minister for the Environment. Aborigines and the Arts mentioned the subject matter before us. Why do you not insist that he do so?
– Order! I remind the honourable member for Sturt that earlier had he been listening he would have heard the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory mention the fact that one of the points involved in this matter was the land rights of the Australian Aborigines.
– It is a simple-
-Order! The honourable member for Sturt will cease interjecting. This is the very point that is being dealt with now by the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts.
– If land rights is one of the matters that has been the subject of protest by a group of people on the lawns outside Parliament House then it is hi order, and more than in order, for the Government to make clear what progress it has made in delineating and dealing with the subject of land rights for Aboriginal people, particularly as they affect the sacred sites that have been of so much importance during the history of this embassy. We have been dealing with some of the major factors about which there have been protests in the last few months. Having done that, it is right therefore that these policies should be clearly set out in a debate on the subject of confidence in the Minister for the Interior.
Let me make this clear: If there is to be protest about the way in which the Government has been handling the affairs of the Aboriginal people, particularly since the Government took over control and responsibility for the Aboriginal people as a result of the referendum in 1967, then it is right that the House and the Australian people should know how much we have done. In the last year governments in Australia spent $44m of the taxpayers funds on behalf of the 140,000 Aboriginal people in Australia. That has happened since we took over this responsibility in 1968, and before the present financial year the Commonwealth Government had allocated $68m for this purpose. Much of this money has been spent on helping with housing, in providing hostels and in providing employment, particularly rural employment. So much has been done during the past few years. We have gone out of our way to improve the education of the Aboriginal people. Today there are 4,000 scholarships in use by Aborigines throughout Australia. In the Northern Territory alone 75 per cent of eligible Aboriginal children attend pre-schools, 90 per cent attend primary school and 70 per cent attend secondary school. A tremendous amount of development has occurred since the Commonwealth took over these responsibilities.
In addition there are the capital funds with which we have helped people in private enterprise. Through the provision of grants totalling over $2.25m new enterprises are being carried out for the Aboriginal people. I make it clear that the Government has done a tremendous amount for the Aboriginal people. In spite of the protests I believe that our record is clear and that we have acted responsibly. We. aim to do more but we shall not be able to state a lot more of what we are doing if a lot of these hysterical red herrings are thrown about this House in this way at this time.
The real issue today is: Has the Minister for the Interior acted responsibly and has he justified the confidence of the House? I believe that not only has he the confidence of this House but also, for what we have been doing in the field of the Aboriginal people, he should receive the plaudits of this House and of the people of Australia.
– I support the motion of no confidence in the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt) for a whole range of reasons which I propose to place before the Parliament, although the time allowed for us is somewhat limited. The Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts (Mr Howson) introduced the general question of Aboriginal administration. Before getting on to the major subject of debate I would like to say that notwithstanding the fact that some things are being done by the Commonwealth Government, the Australian Labor Party has held all along that what we are doing now can be summed up as being too little; that it is not being done after proper and regular consultation with the Aboriginal people and after considering the priorities that they themselves help to determine, and that it is wrongly motivated. I was interested in the comment made by the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts about the Government’s aim to create a single society in Australia. I do not quite know what that means. I suppose it is the logical follow through from a policy of assimilation. While we all recognise that most of the Aboriginal people of Australia will probably choose to be assimilated into our society, as a great number of them have, the Labor Party recognises the right of those Aborigines who choose to stay in their own communities to do so.
We look with interest to the 39 resolutions that came out of the conference last week. I was interested to see that the Minister did not quote one of those conference resolutions that actually referred to the Aboriginal embassy. That brings us back to square one. The closing remarks of the Minister for the Interior were that this embassy and various things associated with it had served the political objectives of certain sections of the Labor Party. What was the Aboriginal embassy? The Aboriginal embassy arose out of an initiative of some young people associated with the Aboriginal legal service at Redfern in Sydney. It was an expression of their frustration with the failure of this Government and other governments throughout Australia to acknowledge the legitimate land rights of the Aboriginal people. It is well known that the government in this country has never acknowledged the land rights of the Aborigines in the way in which the land rights of the Red Indians of Canada and the United States of America and the land rights of the indigenous populations of South America and other places were acknowledged by the respective colonial governments. It was an Aboriginal initiative.
It has been said that the embassy was not a very presentable sight. One has to realise that it was an Aboriginal initiative. It was situated in tents which the Aborigines could afford to buy, to erect and to maintain. It was a modest expression. But the important question is what it meant to the Aboriginal people of Australia. It was a symbol of their fight for land rights. It was a protest against the failure of this Government to understand what land means to the Australian Aborigines. One can go back to the Boyer lectures by Professor Stanner a few years ago. He explained this probably better than any other person has explained it. It was a protest at the failure of the Government to meet these needs. The Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts spoke about the Government’s plans. One has to realise the great frustrations that occur when one sees the shemozzle over a situation like that of Everard Park where there was a difference between the Office of Aboriginal Affairs and the Department of the Interior as to the actual form of title the land would take. These are the things that frustrate the Aborigines, as they frustrate many people on this side of the Parliament.
There has been a continued failure of effective consultation. One of the things that emerged out of this confrontation was that Ministers of the Crown really do not understand the wishes, the aims and the aspirations of the Aboriginal people. When Aborigines stand up to fight for something it is immediately suspected that they are being manipulated by other people. That is the suggestion that comes through straightaway. Having a conference from time to time every year or two is a hollow gesture. There needs to be effective consultation at a more local level. There needs to be more staff in the Office of Aboriginal Affairs and these people need to be better supported. There is a major failure in the consultative process. I am not attacking the officers of the Office of Aboriginal Affairs who do this. I am speaking from the Aborigines’ point of view. They sit down and talk to these people. They know that the liaison officers go back to Canberra and put in a report. Then there are interminable delays brought about by the bureaucracy. Eventually the Aborigines may get something, or they may get nothing. Consider the point of view of members of an Aboriginal committee sitting around a table in some part of Australia. Their hopes are raised. They put up a case. They get very little, and sometimes nothing at all.
Let us look at the people who were at the conference. The Minister said that there were negotiations with a range of people. He mentioned Joe McGinness. He mentioned the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) and myself. It is true that we approached the Minister to see whether we could come out with some negotiated settlement or arrangement to give the Aboriginal people a lobby in Canberra. Those negotiations were frustrated when Cabinet decided, instead of allowing this to proceed through some peaceful process of negotiation, to have a confrontation. Cabinet, at the request of the Minister for the Interior, made a decision that the Aboriginal embassy would go. How could the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders or any other Aboriginal organisation continue to negotiate under those circumstances? FCAATSI would have been accused by every young militant Aboriginal in Australia of selling out the cause of Aboriginal land rights for the lease of land in Canberra. That is looking at it from the Aboriginal point of view.
Let us consider the people who were there. A small group of students came. There was a great turnover of people at the Aboriginal embassy. It was a very modest protest but it became a major symbol in the eyes of the Aboriginal people. The very attractive colour photograph on the front page of the last edition of ‘Identity’, the publication of the Aboriginal Publications Foundation, featured the Aboriginal Embassy as a symbol of the aspirations of the Aboriginal people. The protest was winding down. The Government made the protest a more effective protest by its own precipitate action. Then young Aboriginal people and many young people who were not Aboriginals came to support the Aboriginal Embassy. I had some discussions with a group of young people at the University of Queensland. I went out there for another purpose - to talk about the Budget, as a matter of fact, real or imaginary. Some of these young people said: ‘We are going to Canberra. Are you coming?’ I explained that I was not going. They said they were going to Canberra to support the Aboriginal cause. I said: ‘By all means support the Aboriginal cause, but we do not want violence.’ They said: ‘We have been making decisions for the Aboriginal people of this country for a long time. We are going down on the basis that the decision on what happens down there will be made by a black caucus. We are going to let the Aboriginal people make their own decisions.’ Many young people came from all parts of Australia with that point of view in mind.
I would like to repudiate the suggestion that anyone on this side of the House had a vested interest in stirring up violence. Not only from the point of view of the Aboriginal people of Australia but also from the aspect of Australia’s standing in the eyes of the world, we all had a vested interest in seeing that there was a minimum of violence or no violence at all. I know what the honourable member for Wills and I did in talking to people from Aboriginal organisations in various parts of Australia. There was similar action by the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. Noone opposed a demonstration in Canberra. No-one opposed a peaceful demonstration. All of us would have supported it but none of us would have supported violence. We are concerned about this situation for a number of reasons. One is the obvious failure, of the Minister for the. Interior and his colleagues to understand the aspirations of the Aboriginal people. The Minister carries the burden of responsibility for the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and the Minister for the Environment, Aborigines and the Arts. Other reasons are the obvious, complete failure by the Government to recognise the just claims for land rights and the hollow gestures that have been made. All of this resulted in a confrontation. It is for these reasons that the Labor Party has advanced this censure motion today.
– The motion before us is that the House has no confidence in the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt) because of his handling of the dispute in removing the tent city outside Parliament House. That is the only motion before us. As an honourable member on the other side said, it has nothing to do with land rights and nothing to do with anything other than the Minister’s propriety in handling the erection of tents in front of Parliament House. The Minister is attacked on 2 grounds, apparently: Firstly, that he removed those tents and, secondly, the way in which he removed them. I want to examine them separately because 1 believe this to be the fact: Either the lawns in front of Parliament House are a public preserve or they are a preserve on which people can erect tents, park caravans, sleep in sleeping bags and do anything of that kind which they like. They are one or the other. If they are to be areas which are reserved for the public, which the public can walk over and enjoy and on which the public can exercise their rights, then the rights of the public will be infringed if any organisation is allowed to set up tents, to park caravans or in any other way to impede the rights of the public on those reserves.
In the instance which is under discussion the rights of the public were definitely infringed on one occasion when some members of the public were moved on from the vicinity of the King George V Memorial by some of the individuals who were camped in the tents outside Parliament House. Clearly if these lawns are to be preserved - I believe they should be, otherwise we will have a tent city in which any organisation can erect a tent and this would be an unsanitary and unhealthy public eyesore and would obstruct the rights of the public - action has to be taken. Either they are public lawns or they are areas on which people can park. If they are to be areas on which people can park, then anybody can erect a tent city whether they are Aborigines or members of the Returned Services League or the Country Women’s Association. I believe that the Minister would move any of them on and I believe that he would be right in doing so. 1 am sure that he would move them on even if they were members of the Victorian Farmers Union. He would be entirely right to do so because either no organisation or person is entitled to park and erect tents there or any organisation or person is entitled to park and erect tents there, lt they were entitled to do this it would create absolute chaos. I believe th.it on the first count the Minister was entirely right, in protecting the public interest, in removing this tent city not because it was anything to do with Aborigines but because he should have done so no matter whom it had anything to do with. That is all I have to say on the first point of the attack on the Minister.
Secondly, we are asked to believe that the way in which he carried out this duty was improper. We have heard from him. I do not believe anybody would deny the accuracy or the truth of the statements he used in his speech to the House, saying that every effort was made by him to use reason and common sense in order to ensure that there was no confrontation, as referred to by some speakers on the other side of the House, and that these reasonable approaches failed. It has never been suggested that he did not have the legal right to remove the tents whether he passed the Ordinance to which reference has been made or not. But, having this legal right and having failed in a reasonable and sensible attempt to bring about a compromise removal, he was legally bound, I believe, by his oath of office to enforce the law and to ensure that people were not allowed to park haphazardly in front of Parliament House and erect tent cities there. We can get from his own speech the whole sequence of events.
The only other point I want to make on this matter is that I do not think I have ever heard a more irresponsible speech in this Parliament than that which was made by the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr Enderby). His speech was an example of the most sickening double think, lt would be an irresponsible speech if it came from a layman; it is doubly irresponsible when it comes from a lawyer who has been admitted to the Bar and is required to uphold the law of which he is a servant. We have been told that violence occurred because the police were seeking to carry out their duty and that the fault lay with the police.
– No. it was not the police; it was the Minister.
– The suggestion by the honourable member who is interjecting from outside the House - another example of his regard for the law and the rules of the Parliament - as all who listened to him in this House and outside it will know, is that the responsibility was on the police; and he went on to say …r.-1.., on by the Minister’. That is a shocking accusation against a Minister who was carrying out a law and ensuring that the police carried out a law. It is perfectly right and sensible for the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory to object to that law, but to stand up in this House and to attack the police and the Minister by saying that that was the cause of the violence seems to me to be something which no lawyer could possibly accept. Surely, violence does not occur because a police officer seeks to carry out the law; violence occurs only when a citizen, objecting to the law being carried out, uses violence against the servants of the public who are seeking to carry it out. That is what occurred on this occasion, it is no good speaking about who was there and how respectable they were. The violence occurred because the people concerned resisted the carrying out of the law. Here we have a lawyer - a member of this Parliament - supporting them in their resistance and turning the blame on the police who where carrying out the law which was not only the result of the Ordinance but the result of a law of the land.
-Order! The honourable member for Prospect and the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory will cease interjecting.
– It is all right, Mr Speaker; I cannot hear them anyway. The 3 points that I want to reiterate before I sit down are these: Firstly, it was improper for anybody to erect a city of tents in front of Parliament House. Had this been allowed to continue we could have had nothing but a vast sea of tents from all kinds of organisations set up on the lawns in front of Parliament House.
– We would not.
– Could we not?
– Two tents.
-Order! I warn the honourable member for Bendigo who is out of hh seat. I have warned him previously. I request the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory to desist from interjecting.
– It is very hard, Mr Speaker.
-Order. I suggest that the honourable member heed my warning.
– It is quite clear, even to one with limited legal intelligence, that if one organisation could set up tents with impunity then any organisation would be able to do it with impunity. The facts should be that none should be able to do it and that none can do it because the law says so. Therefore the Minister was only carrying out his duty.
Secondly, we know that the Minister tried every reasonable means. Then, as he was bound to do, he instructed the police to carry out the law. Violence resulted not from that but from resistance to the law, which resistance is now being aided, abetted, encouraged and supported by the honourable member for the Australian Capital Territory. In all these matters I think that any reliable, responsible person who examines the record will say that the Minister is not liable to any kind of censure and that he ought to be congratulated for carrying out the law without fear and without favour. If there is one criticism that could be made of him it is that he did not act months before and move them off much earlier, but I think that has nothing to do with him and it is not his fault. That rs not a criticism of any kind which should lead us to censure him.
- Mr Speaker-
Motion (by Mr Giles) proposed:
That the question be now put.
– We are debating here an example of governmental thuggery and this is another example-
-Order! The honourable member for Wills will resume his seat. There is a motion before the Chair that the question be now put.
– On a point of order, I was on my feet before the motion was moved.
-Order! I called the honourable member for Wills. The motion that the question be now put can be moved at any time, even after an honourable member has been called by the Chair. The Assistant Government Whip has moved that the question be now put. I will now put that motion.
Question put. The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. Sir William Aston)
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Question put:
Thai the motion (Mr Bea/ley’s) bc agreed to.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. Sir William Aston) Ayes .. .. i5,
Turnbull, Sir Winton
Question so resolved in the negative. Sitting suspended from 6.2 to 8 p.m.
APPROPRIATION BILL (No. I) 1972-73 Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation for proposed expenditure announced.
Bill presented by Mr Snedden, and read a first time.
Second Reading (Budget Speech)
– I move: That the Bill be now read a second time.
In doing so I present the Budget for 1972- 73.
Our proposals are geared to achieve social and economic goals of significance to all Australians and particularly families. The briefest portrayal of the Budget is as follows: taxes down; pensions up; and growth decisively strengthened.
Over the years the Australian economy has demonstrated a growth capacity of better than 5 per cent in real terms. In 1971-72 growth was 3 per cent. We aim to step up that rate, and the Budget is designed to do so.
Last year was a difficult one from both a domestic and an international viewpoint. We did well to come out of it with a growth rate of 3 per cent. The ink was hardly dry on last year’s Budget before the international monetary crisis jolted world confidence severely. Its consequences for our major trading partners, particularly Japan, dampened expectations and led to capital expenditure cutbacks in the mining and other industries. These uncertainties were reinforced domestically by the continuing upsurge of wage pressures. Costs and prices rose rapidly and there was a marked setback to business confidence. The employment outlook changed quite quickly and consumers became more cautious.
The impact of these developments on the economy was far from uniform. Public sector outlays grew strongly - up about 13 per cent in current prices. Exports also rose strongly - up 13 per cent. This rise has been reflected in, among other things,, a welcome lift in farm incomes. Another strong growth area has been housing. Last year 146,000 new dwellings were commenced - up 6 per cent. The upward trend quickened in the second half of the year.
That is one side of the coin. The other is to be seen in the weakness in consumer spending and in business investment.
For the year, consumer spending at constant prices rose by about 3 per cent. A variety of reasons has been advanced. Personal borrowing for the purchase of consumer durables fell off and savings ran high. A natural consumer resistance to higher prices seems to have played a role. And, although money wages have been rising rapidly, the increasing bite of the progressive personal income tax scale has combined with rising prices to restrict severely growth in the real purchasing power of take-home pay. Single income families, especially those with children, have been particularly hard hit.
This slackness in consumer spending has been basic to the economy’s lack of punch. Our first objective in this Budget, therefore, is to create conditions conducive to stronger consumer spending.
Business investment, too, has been nagging. In part, this reflects some decline, perhaps inevitable, in expectations in the mining industry. Some tailing away has also occurred in the strong boom that has been running in some sectors of construction although there has been a recent upturn in building approvals. But in manufacturing industry particularly, an important underlying cause has been slack demand. As consumer demand picks up, investment in those areas will pick up also.
We have, of course, already taken progressive action to steer the economy back to a proper course. Monetary conditions have been made easier and interest rates brought down. Public sector spending was boosted at the Premiers’ Conferences in February and June. In April the basic social services and repatriation pensions were increased and the ongoing rate of personal income tax levy was reduced from 5 per cent to 21 per cent. All of these measures are playing their part. But the economy has proved hard to budge from its too-subdued growth path.
This lagging response is evident in the labour market. At the end of July, 2 per cent of the work-force, after seasonal adjustment, was registered for employment with the Commonwealth Employment Service. This figure compares well with almost any other developed country today. But it is too high for us, and we are determined to reduce it.
The other great problem with which we have had to contend is the continuing upward pressure on costs and prices. Over the past 3 years the consumer price index rose at an annual average rate of 5 per cent, while earnings rose on average by 10 per cent annually. The wage and price rises during this time have been the highest since the Korean war boom. The resulting heightening of inflationary expectations has been only too evident. This process had to be stopped and reversed.
I am glad to say that the heightening tendency has been stopped and there are even some signs that a reversal may be in train. These are early days. But certainly, the price indices themselves have slowed somewhat in their upward rush. The consumer price index increased by 7 per cent in the year to the last December quarter. In the year to the June quarter of 1972 the increase, while still far too high at 6.1 per cent, was at least appreciably less.
It remains to be seen whether this is merely a temporary departure from the earlier trend or a pointer to a new one. Pressures for more frequent and ever-larger increases in money wages remain. While they do, the evils of inflation will persist.
In many past years, budget policy has been inhibited by balance of payments considerations. That is not so this year. Booming exports and a record level of capital inflow have contributed to a large surplus in the balance of payments. The Government is currently reviewing policies in relation to certain aspects of capital inflow into Australia.
To summarise: the economy at present is moving in the right direction. A modest abatement of inflationary trends has been achieved. Demand, although patchy, is growing. Confidence generally has improved in recent months. There is, however, some slack in the economy and in the absence of further action it would be some time before it was fully taken up.
In looking at the year ahead the Government has had in mind a number of considerations.
First, although there is some slack in the economy, it would be irresponsible to provide such a strong budgetary stimulus that a renewed inflationary boom was created. We want to see the rate of growth stepped up considerably. But with liquidity already very high and certain to rise higher, and with prices still rising by around 5 per cent per annum, to go further would be foolhardy.
Secondly, for some time now public sector spending has run ahead very fast, with private sector spending lagging. There are important needs served by our public expenditures but there are also costs - whether from the viewpoint of the individual taxpayer, who finds taxation more and more a burden, or of the private sector as a whole, which finds its room for growth constrained.
It is central to our objectives that the needed stimulus to the economy should not be by way of an excessive growth of Commonwealth expenditures. We have sought as much scope as possible for reducing the burden of taxation. That has been our primary aim and I believe we have achieved it.
Thirdly, in framing our proposals we have selected measures which provide a boost to private sector spending, but also new initiatives with longer-term objectives.
Finally, we have also been determined to find room for measures having merit on broader grounds of social welfare and equity.
I come now to our expenditure proposals.
The forward estimates of expenditure, the implementation of which I announced last year, have proved helpful. Accordingly, we will continue with the further development and application of the forward estimates procedures.
A detailed analysis of the expenditure estimates is set out in the accompanying Statements. In total, expenditures are estimated to increase this year by $ 1,045m or 11.6 per cent to $10,078m. This is virtually the same rate of increase as occurred last year.
Payments to the States
Payments to the States constitute the largest single element in the Commonwealth’s expenditures. Including funds to finance State works and housing programmes, they are estimated to increase by $395m, to $3,449m.
At the June Premiers’ Conference we increased the financial assistance grants by an extra $128m, of which SI 24.5m escalates under the formula.
Total general revenue assistance, including special grants recommended by the Grants Commission, is estimated at $ 1,692m. Adjusting for the transfer of pay-roll tax, the estimated increase is about $280m.
State works and housing programmes at $892m, including $248.5m in grants, are $90m greater. This will provide a significant boost to State capital expenditure.
Specific purpose payments for purposes such as roads, schools and universities are expected to increase by 24 per cent to $775m.
We will provide up to $2.5m over 4 years to South Australia for completion of the sealing of the Eyre Highway. This demonstrates our interest in seeing adequate progress in the development pf highways which serve as major interstate links.
We will develop in consultation with the States a suitable programme for further improvement of the national highway system, to be an integral part of the general arrangements for assistance to the States for roads beyond June 1974 when the present Commonwealth Aid Roads legislation expires. $250,000 is provided this year for investigations and planning to develop such a programme.
There is a requirement to develop defence forces with a greater independent capability so that we may be more selfreliant in protecting our own interests and in dealing with lesser military situations. There is also a requirement to intensify our defence understandings with our neighbours as a contribution to confidence and stability in the region. In addition, there is a need to maintain our understanding with the United States to provide a foundation of Australian security in the contingency of threats or actual attack going beyond Australian capacity to deal with alone.
Even after allowance for the reduction in National Service, the Defence Vote proposed is SI, 323m - SI 06m more than expenditure last year. Additional Estimates may well be needed for Forces’ pay and allowances when the recommendations of the Woodward Committee of Inquiry are received.
Expenditure proposed for capital equipments is $200m compared with $140m last year. Major equipments to be delivered this year include the initial batch of 6 F111C aircraft and initial deliveries of medium-lift helicopters. Provision has been made for the refitting of HMAS Vendetta and for the RAN hydrographic ship which is due for completion in early 1973.
New capital equipments will be ordered this year. Chief among these are 3 destroyers, with ancillary helicopters, at a total estimated project cost, in 1972 prices, of $355m. The expenditure will be spread over a decade. Expenditure this year for strategic bases, service accommodation and other defence facilities is $5 7m. $ 1,065m is for non-capital expenditure - up $42m. The increase reflects price and wage increases.
Details are given in Statement No. 9.
Assistance under the export incentive scheme is expected to total S68m - up $9m.
There will be a substantial increase in assistance to the shipbuilding industry. The net amount provided is $3 3. 7m, up $20.3m.
Payments to rural industries are estimated to total $233m compared with $297m last year, and $2 1 Om in 1970-71.
The decrease is due largely to the lower requirement expected for wool deficiency payments, now that wool prices have improved. As already announced, the Government has decided to extend the deficiency payments scheme for woolgrowers until 30tb June 1973 on ‘the same basis as in 1971-72.
Following the Government-sponsored twoyear programme of research and commercial trials on pre-sale objective measurement of wool, a further allocation of $700,000 is made for research, implementation and development. Also provided is $27m towards the cost of financing the joint industry-Government wool research and promotion programmes. Other wool marketing assistance includes $4.2m towards the costs involved in handling wool included in the Price Averaging Plan.
Expenditure under the wheat industry stabilisation scheme in respect of exports from the 1971-72 crop is expected to be $47m. Last year expenditure was $58ra and included payments for both the 1969-70 and 1970-71 crops.
A new five-year stabilisation plan for the dairy industry commenced on 1st July 1972. Under the plan the level of government assistance is determined each year in the light of the needs and circumstances of the industry. The amount for bounty on butter and cheese in 1972-73 is $28. 5m.
The Nitrogenous Fertilizer Subsidy Act which is due to expire on 31st October 1972 will be continued until 31st December 1974. Expenditure this year is estimated at $10m.
S56m, the whole of the balance of the $100m originally intended for expenditure over 4 years, is provided in the estimates this year for the continuation of the rural reconstruction scheme. We have agreed to provide a further SI 5m to finance assistance approved in the latter part of 1972-73 but carried over for payment in 1973-74.
It is estimated that $4m will be paid to the States under the marginal dairy farms reconstruction scheme.
A fruit growing reconstruction scheme, supplementary to the main rural reconstruction scheme, will be introduced. $4.6m will be provided to assist the removal of surplus trees by growers of canning peaches and pears, and fresh apples and pears, who are in financial difficulties. Expenditure of $2m is expected this year.
The new scheme will take time to come fully into effect. Meanwhile, the fresh apple and pear industry is facing a particularly unfavourable situation and we will provide special short-term assistance. The maximum quantity of apples and pears which may attract the maximum payment under the stabilisation scheme is to be raised by 500,000 bushels for 1972 exports only. The provision for payments by the Commonwealth in 1972-73 has been increased to $3,150,000.
Subject to the proviso that all mainland State Governments will implement production controls, we will provide a onceandforall grant of $750,000 to the egg industry to help sustain producer returns while the present large stocks of egg pulp are being cleared.
The campaign to eradicate bovine brucellosis and tuberculosis will be intensified.
Subject to agreement with the mainland States to provide funds on a $ for $ basis, the Commonwealth will increase its contributions to $4m - up SI. 6m on last year. Additional expenditures of $360,000 in the Commonwealth Territories will be provided if required this year.
After an intensive review of the longterm credit facilities available to farmers, the Government has come to the view that there are deficiencies. The Budget provides a sum of $20m to be appropriated for purposes of facilitating the increased availability to farmers of long-term loans. The measures to be adopted have still to be finalised; the intention is to bring down legislation in this session of the Parliament.
Advances for capital purposes will increase by $29m to $522m.
There is a reduction in the advance to Qantas. Last year Qantas received $74.2m in overseas loans for aircraft acquisition - this year it is receiving $11. 6m, plus $2 5m additional share capital.
The Australian National Airlines Commission is to be advanced $ 13.4m for aircraft purchases. The Commission is also being advanced $25m to assist it to introduce new accounting arrangements for superannuation. There is an offsetting receipt of $21m from the Commission.
The capital of the Australian Industry Development Corporation has been increased by a further $12. 5m to a total of $50m.
Capital of the Export Payments Insurance Corporation will be increased from $4m to $8m.
An advance of $288m is provided for the Post Office. After allowance for special factors this is an increase of over 11 per cent.
Expenditure on other capital works and services is estimated at $264m, slightly less than last year. A number of major new projects will be commenced this year, but expenditure on them in 1972-73 will be relatively small. The major items involved relate to community welfare and municipal service projects, principally in the mainland territories.
The near completion of projects to extend and up-grade airport runways at both Melbourne and Sydney will result in an estimated $17m less being spent this year on civil aviation works.
Following an agreement with the South Australian Government we will construct a railway from Tarcoola to Alice Springs. The total cost is estimated at $54m at current prices. Expenditure of S3. 4m is expected this year.
New computing facilities for the Department of Customs and Excise will cost $1.6m this year.
The rapid increases in wage and salary payments in 1971-72 are reflected in the estimated increase of $62m or about 10 per cent in departmental running expenses. There was an additional public service payday in 1971-72 - the increase this year would otherwise have been larger.
Rapid increases in departmental running expenses cannot go on unfettered without effects on the resources available to pursue other government policies. Last year I announced a review of existing functions and activities of departments. This review has not yet been completed. Its benefits are expected to emerge in the longer term.
The rates of compensation for Commonwealth employees have been increased. The lump sum payment for death will be $14,500 and the weekly incapacity rate will be $43 for a single man, $11 for a wife and $5 for each dependant child. The new rates will apply from the date of Royal Assent to the enabling legislation.
$5. 7m will be provided for the Performing Aru; - an increase of $l.5m. Assistance for Art, Literature, Film and Composition will be $1.7m. $950,000 will be paid to the Australian Film Development Corporation.
Assistance to the National Fitness movement in the triennium commencing 1st July 1972 will be increased. The yearly operational grant, now $350,000, becomes $500,000. The total capital grant, over the triennium, now $200,000, becomes $300,000.
The annual grant to the Australian Conservation Foundation will be increased from $50,000 to $150,000. A grant of $20,000 is being made to the Keep Australia Beautiful Council. The Australian ‘ Council of National Trusts will receive an additional $50,000 a year. The grants to the Surf Life Saving Association and the Royal Life Saving Society will be increased from $34,000 to $50,000 per annum in each case. An annual grant of $5,500 is to be made to the National Council of Women.
In addition to the annual grant to the States of $150,000 for road safety promomotion, the Budget provides $575,000 for direct Commonwealth expenditure on road safety promotion and research, an increase of $175,000.
An approach has been made to the States seeking their agreement to a programme of development of tourist attractions - such as Australiana and pioneer settlements, the preservation of historic sites and buildings, fauna sanctuaries and the like - considered to have particular appeal to overseas visitors to this country. The Commonwealth will match expenditure by the States $ for $ up to a total Commonwealth expenditure of Sim annually. $250,000 may be needed in 1972-73.
Aggregate expenditure on Aboriginal advancement in 1972-73, including payments from the Aboriginal Advancement Trust Account, is expected to be $53. 2m - up $2 1.9m or 70 per cent. Grants to the States for expenditure by them on housing, health, education and other programmes will increase by 58 per cent to $ 1 4.5m. An amount of $5m will be available in 1972-73 for the acquisition of properties off reserves, and $3.7m is being provided for the Aboriginal Secondary and Study Grants schemes. The Northern Territory Administration expects to spend $24.6m on Aboriginal advancement in 1972-73, an increase of S9m or 58 per cent.
Because a skilled work-force plays a critical part in improving productivity, the Government will continue its policy of stimulating industry to improve the quality of training.
We intend to introduce a cash subsidy scheme to promote the training of apprentices.
Two new employment training schemes are proposed - one to extend training assistance to persons made redundant and the other to enable persons with a history of unemployment to acquire job skills which are in demand. We shall increase the level of subsidy to employers under the employment training scheme for Aborigines.
We also propose to further encourage the employment and training of training specialists.
The total estimated cost of these new initiatives for 1972-73 is $1.9m and, in a full year, $4.7m.
The Government has decided that unemployed persons should not be inhibited in seeking employment by the cost of fares, and will be asking the States for their cooperation in developing a viable scheme.
The estimated cost in 1972-73 is $200,000.
Details of this and the training proposals will be given by the Minister for Labour and National Service.
The steady growth of Australia’s population continues to be a major goal of policy. Our economic development and growth as a nation for 25 years has owed very much to our success in attracting migrants. We must continue those active migration policies which have been serving us so well. Accordingly, the Government has decided, on the basis of the economy’s likely needs and the availability of suitable settlers, that the immigration programme for 1972-73 should be 140,000. Assisted passages will be provided for 90,000 at a cost of $29.6m.
Increasing emphasis is to be placed on migrant counselling and selection, and on English language training and migrant wel fare services. Additional expenditure this year is S3. 2m. The Minister for Immigration will give details.
In relative terms, Australia’s aid performance in respect of both volume and type of aid ranks us among the world leaders.
As shown in Statement No. 8, the estimates provide for a total of $220m to be spent on official economic aid to developing countries, including $145m for Papua New Guinea.
Nearly $14m will also be provided for defence aid to certain developing countries in South-East Asia. In addition, we shall continue to assist in the development of Papua New Guinea’s defence force.
The Budget provides for significant advances in all areas of social welfare - education, housing, health and pensions.
The education of all Australians continues to be a particular concern of the Commonwealth. Direct expenditure by the Commonwealth, including payments to the States for education, is expected to reach $426m - up $72m.
In addition to general financial assistance, specific payments to the States for education are estimated to reach $250m, compared with $206m last year.
The largest grants, totalling $138m, are for universities and colleges of advanced education. Provision has been made for the new triennial programmes which commence in January 1973.
Other payments to the States including capital grants for school construction, secondary school science laboratories and libraries, technical colleges and teachers colleges and per capita grants for independent schools are expected to be SI 12m, an increase of $30m.
The grants to the Australian National University and the Canberra College of Advanced Education are $42m. Expenditure on schools and technical colleges in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory is estimated at $49m, compared with $3 9m last year.
From the beginning of 1973 there will be significant increases in the number of Commonwealth tertiary scholarships available, together with an increase in benefits. The number of Open Entrance University Scholarships will be increased by 1,000 to 9,500, the number of Later Year University Scholarships by 1,000 to 5,000 and the number of Advanced Education Scholarships by 2,000 to 6,000 awards. In addition, there will be increases in the living allowances and a substantial relaxation of the means test applicable to those living allowances. Commonwealth Post-graduate Scholars will receive an increase in their stipends from $2,600 to $2,900 per annum. In all, expenditure on tertiary scholarships this year is estimated at $47m - up $9m.
The Government has decided to change the arrangements for Commonwealth Secondary Scholarships. The new scholarships will be tenable during the last 2 years pf secondary schooling, and will be awarded on the present competitive basis. There will be 25,000 new awards each year, compared with 10,000 under the existing scheme. There will be a change in the benefits. Each award will carry a basic allowance of $150 per annum and a further allowance of up to $250 per annum will be available subject to consideration of family income. Holders of the present Commonwealth Secondary Scholarships who are now in the first year of their awards will receive benefits for their final year in 1973 on the existing basis. During 1972-73 payments are estimated at $8.4rs compared with $6.9m last year.
During the 1973-75 triennium, grants for research projects recommended by the Australian Research Grants Committee will be $20m, up 48 per cent on the present triennium. This year expenditure is estimated at $6m compared with $4.5m last year.
The Commonwealth wishes to join with the States in a programme to promote the study of Asian languages and cultures in Australian schools. The Commonwealth will contribute $1.5m over a 5 year period. Expenditure this year is estimated at $100,000.
The Minister for Education and Science will make a detailed statement, and present the reports of the Australian Universities Commission and the Australian Commission on Advanced Education for the 1973-75 triennium together with our decision on the recommendations.
We propose changes in the Homes Savings Grant Act to keep it attuned to current conditions. The maximum value of a home which may attract a grant will be increased from $17,500 to $22,500. We will also increase the maximum grant from $500 on savings of $1,500 to $750 on savings of $2,250, with an appropriate increase in the limit on annual qualifying savings. These increases will apply to homes bought or built or whose construction commences, on and after tomorrow. The requirements governing the eligibility of savings in credit unions will be substantially relaxed by requiring only one condition, namely, that not less than 20 per cent of its total annual lending i* in housing loans. The cost of these proposals is estimated at $8. 5m this year and $9.8m in a full year.
An amount of $70m - up $5m - has been provided for advances under the War Service Homes scheme.
The Government has reviewed the arrangements for assisting people requiring nursing home care. We propose to introduce new integrated measures to help not only chronically ill patients in nursing homes, but also to assist aged infirm people who can be looked after in a home environment.
We shall introduce a nursing home insurance benefit for contributors to hospital insurance organisations. Pensioners who have Pensioner Medical Service entitlement cards will also receive this benefit as additional assistance without having to join a hospital fund.
When added to the existing Commonwealth benefits of $24.50 a week for ordinary care patients and $45.50 a week for intensive care patients, these new benefits will give nursing home patients greater financial protection against the cost of fees. The amount of the new benefit will vary as between the States. The Minister for Health will give details.
To reduce the demand for nursing home treatment a new domiciliary care benefit will be payable to a person who, in his own home, accepts responsibility for the provision, on a regular and continuing basis, of professional nursing care and supporting services required by an aged relative. The benefit will be available on the basis of medical need in accordance with requirements determined by the Department of Health and will be paid at the rate of $14 a week. As in the case of nursing home benefits, H will not be subject to a means test.
The National Health Act will be amended to authorise the introduction of the new nursing home benefits and associated arrangements on 1st January 1972. The domiciliary care benefit will commence from 1st March 1973.
To encourage the availability of professional nursing care in the home, it is proposed to increase, with effect from 1st September 1972, the existing Commonwealth subsidy to approved organisations providing home nursing services. For organisations established before September 1956, the annual Commonwealth payment for each nurse who attracts subsidy will be increased from $3,200 to $4,300. For organisations formed after that date, the subsidy for each nurse employed will be increased from $1,600 to $2,150 a year. As at present, the Commonwealth subsidy to any organisation will not exceed that paid to the organisation by a State. The Minister for Health will be making a general statement.
To encourage the provision of hostel accommodation for the aged we will, as a special arrangement limited to 3 years, grant organisations that are eligible under the Aged Persons Homes Act special assistance. The Commonwealth will meet the cost of 2 hostel beds for every one unsubsidised bed operated by the organisation or one bed for 2 where the accommodation was previously subsidised on a $ for $ basis. A condition will be that the beds are allocated without donation and in accordance with need. These additional hostel beds will be provided up to a cost not exceeding $7,800 per single unit which is the amount presently allowable for maximum subsidy purposes. In addition, a grant of $250 per unit will be made towards the furnishing of these additional hostel units.
We will also double the present rate of subsidy to eligible organisations providing personal care services for the aged in hostel accommodation. The new rate will be $10 per week for each occupant aged 80 years or more.
The cost of these measures in the nursing home, home nursing and aged persons homes areas is estimated at $ 16.9m in 1972-73 and $43.9m in a full year.
To benefit children from low income and other special need families, the Government proposes to introduce legislation as soon as possible to assist in the establishment and running of child care centres operating on a non-profit basis. It is envisaged that these centres will cater for the children of working parents, giving priority of admission to children in special need, such as those from single parent families, and to the children of sick or incapacitated parents.
We propose subsidies to enable these centres to offer reduced fees for low income families and others in special need. Unmatched capital grants will be made available direct to approved non-profit organisations for the provision and equipping of such centres and staff subsidies will be provided to encourage the employment of certain appropriately qualified staff. The estimated cost of the scheme this year is $5m.
I will deal first with the position of the more needy.
Last April the standard rate of pension was increased by $1.00 a week and the rate for a married pensioner couple by $1.50. When introducing these measures I then said I was anticipating what would normally have been part of our budget measures.
The Government now proposes that the standard rate of age, invalid and repatriation service pension payable to single people and the pension payable to widows with children be increased to $20.00 a week - that is, by a further $1.75. This brings to $4.50, or 29 per cent, the increase in the standard rate pension since March 1971.
Widows without children will receive an increase of $1.25 a week to a new maximum weekly rate of $17.25. The combined age, invalid or service pension of a married couple who are both pensioners will be increased by $2.50, raising the maximum weekly payment to them to $34.50.
The Government has given particular attention to relieving hardship. We will extend eligibility for pension, at the married rate, to the wife of an age, invalid or service pensioner, now not qualified herself foi pension. After taking account of the consequential reduction in the husband’s pension in such cases from the standard to the married rate, the present position of such married couples will improve by up to $8.25 a week where the wife is now eligible for wife’s allowance and up to $16.25 a week in other cases.
Further, the supplementary assistance to pensioners paying rent, which is payable subject to a separate means test, will be increased from the present maximum rate of $2 to $4 a week. We propose also to extend eligibility for supplementary assistance to married pensioner couples paying rent.
The rates of long-term sickness benefit will increase by $1.75 a week for adults and by $1 a week for unmarried minors. The maximum rate of supplementary allowance of $2 a week for long-term sickness beneficiaries will also be increased to $4 a week.
The increases in the rates of social service pensions and repatriation service pensions and in supplementary assistance and the extensions of eligibility will apply, as appropriate, to rehabilitation, sheltered employment and tuberculosis allowances.
lt has been an important and continuing part of the Government’s social welfare policy to relax the means test progressively. As a further step in this policy, and as a prelude to more sweeping proposals to which I shall come in a moment, the Government now proposes immediate large increases in the amount of ‘free’ means which pensioners may enjoy without reduction in pension.
Under present pension arrangements, where means-as-assessed exceed $10 a week in the case of a single pensioner and $17 a week for married couples, the means test operates to taper off pension entitlements.
The Government now proposes to increase the limit of free means from $10 to $20 a week in the case of a single pensioner and from $17 to $34.50 a week in the case of a married pensioner couple - that is, to the same levels as the maximum rates of pension in each case. At the proposed rates of pension, therefore, full pension will be payable until the combined pension and meansasassessed exceed double the pension - that is, $40 a week for the single pensioner and $69 a week for a married couple. Eligibility for part-pension will now not cease until meansasassessed reach three times the pension - that is. $60 a week for single persons and $103.50 a week for married couples. When we consider that average earnings are now about $98 a week and that pension payments are presently non-taxable, these increased eligibility limits must be considered generous.
In addition to this substantial easing of the means test generally, we propose 2 other related measures. First, we shall increase from $4 to $6 a week the maximum deduction from income for means test purposes for each child of a pensioner. Secondly, the Government has decided to treat superannuation pensions and annuities more favourably for means test purposes than hitherto.
At present a superannuation, pension or annuity is treated wholly as income under the means test although such receipts usually comprise substantial elements of capital or savings. We propose that a superannuation pension or annuity which is payable for life be converted into a property equivalent and the latter amount be taken into account in the means test with any other property. Such action would be to the pensioner’s advantage in the vast majority of cases. But if. in particular cases, this should not prove to be so, the changed treatment will not be applied.
Not only will many superannuation pensioners and annuitants receive increases in existing social service pensions, but other superannuitants who are now ineligible for a means-tested pension will also qualify for the first time. Further details will be announced when the legislation is introduced. 1 should make it clear that the eligibility conditions for Commonwealth ancillary benefits, such as membership of the Pensioner Medical Service, which are presently available to more than one million pensioners and their dependants, will not be relaxed as a result of the proposed direct easings of the means test for pension eligibility, including the proposed new treatment of superannuation pensions. Ancillary benefits will be available only to those present and future pensioners who qualify for them under the existing means test for ancillary benefits. The same means test will be used to determine eligibility for ancillary benefits for future pensioners.
Our social service proposals in total will add $1 45.2m to expenditures in 1972-73 and $ 197.1m in a full year.
These are our immediate steps in the field of the means test.
We have decided to abolish the means test within the next 3 years for age pension eligibility for residentially qualified men and women aged 65 years and over.
The free of means test pension will be subject to income tax. Following past practice, provision will be made to exempt, or partially relieve from taxation persons in the lower income groups receiving the free of means test pension - up to certain specified limits to be determined.
We have decided to subject the means test free pension to taxation because of cost and equity considerations. In particular, if everyone in receipt of free of means tes: pensions were to receive them free of tax, those with higher incomes would benefit disproportionately by comparison both with pensioners on lower incomes and people less than 65 not entitled to free of means test pensions.
The introduction of the proposed free of means test age pensions for persons of 65 or more years will not alter the position of people who are now eligible or may become eligible for pensions on a means tested basis, for example, women aged 60 to 64 years, and widows and invalids who are residentially qualified for pension, and ex-servicemen aged 60 to 64 and exservicewomen aged 55 to 64 who have served in a theatre of war.
Eligibility for supplementary assistance and for Commonwealth ancillary pensioner benefits, such as membership of the Pensioner Medical Service, will be conditional, as now, on satisfaction of the relevant special means test.
The Government’s commitments to introduce free of means test pensions for people aged 65 or over is an historic decision and represents a major social advance. It is one that has, of course, considerable financial and social implications. Because of this, the Government proposes to appoint a Committee of Enquiry to examine and report on these matters and on how this proposal may be responsibly financed with particular reference to national superannuation.
The maximum general rate war pension will be increased by $2.00 to $14.00 a week.
The special rate pension, or its equivalent, will be increased by $3.50 to $48.00 a week.
The intermediate rate war pension will be increased by $2.75 to $34.00 a week.
War widows pensions will be increased by $1.75 to $20.00 a week and the domestic allowance will be increased by 50 cents to $8.50 a week. The allowance payable for each child of a war widow will be increased by 35 cents to $7.35 a week. The pension for a child who has lost both parents will be increased by 70 cents to $14.70 a week.
Other improvements in repatriation allowances relating to requirements for attendants, to amputees and those who have lost an eye, educational allowances, and student children will be announced by the Minister for Repatriation.
The Government has decided that it will meet the greater part of the cost of nursing home care for chronically ill war widows, special and intermediate rate war pensioners and First World War nurses on the same basis that I have already mentioned for nursing home patients who are enrolled in the Pensioner Medical Service.
The cost of repatriation benefit proposals is estimated to be $14.8m in 1972-73 and $20m in a full year.
The proposals I have just outlined result in expenditure in 1972-73 estimated at $10,078m.
At existing rates of taxation and charges, receipts in 1972-73 are estimated to total $9,882m. This would imply a deficit of some $196m. In terms of the balance of domestic receipts and expenditures it would mean a domestic surplus of $375m. The actual outcome in 1971-72 was a deficit of $187m and a domestic surplus of $387m.
I have said that the Government this year attaches high priority to reducing taxation. In framing our proposals we have ensured that the tax measures we wished to bring down could be fitted within an economically sound budget.
A domestic surplus of $375m would, under current economic circumstances, have an undesirably dampening effect upon the economy. Indeed, I go further. In present economic circumstances what is called for is not a domestic surplus at all but a moderate domestic deficit. The degree of such deficit can only be a matter of broad judgment. What is clear is that our tax proposals are right in line with what is required on economic management grounds. f TAXATION PROPOSALS
I deal first with some minor increases in taxes, charges and duties.
To help meet the rising costs of providing marine navigation aids, it is proposed to increase light dues - that is, charges to shipping for the use of these facilities - from 22 cents to 25 cents per net registered ton per quarter from 1st October 1972 to yield $750,000 in 1972-73.
The Government is considering a report on the future basis of charging for airports and airway facilities. In the meantime we have decided to increase air navigation charges by an average of 5 per cent from 1st December 1972 to yield $800,000 in 1972-73.
At present excise is not levied on liquefied petroleum or other gas used in propelling road vehicles. This constitutes a competitive advantage over motor spirit which could substantially undermine the revenue from excise. While the use of liquefied gas in propelling road vehicles may reduce automotive exhaust pollution, its advantages in this respect are limited in extent and will be diminished as emission control standards are implemented.
A tax on liquefied gas used in propelling road vehicles will be introdaced at a rate of 3 cents a litre, which is about 20 per cent lower than the excise on motor spirit. Details will be given by the Minister for Customs and Excise. The tax will not be levied on liquefied gas used for purposes other than propelling road vehicles.
The exemption from excise of products refined from oil shale, introduced many years ago when Australia had no local supplies of crude oil, will be removed.
Stamp duties were introduced into the Australian Capital Territory to stop the Terrify being used as a tax haven, and to ensure broad comparability of burdens of taxation in the Territory and the States.
Last January the States increased their rates of duty on the sale and purchase of marketable securities. The Australian Capital Territory duty on such transactions will be increased to the same level. This means increasing from 20 cents to 30 cents per $100 the duty payable by both buyer and seller in transactions in marketable securities through brokers, and the same proportionate increase in the rate of duty payable to buyers in transactions not through brokers. The increased charges will take effect from 1st November 1972. The yield will be $200,000 in 1972-73.
I now come to our tax concessions. Sales Tax
The Government has decided to exempt works of art from sates tax regardless of origin or of nationality of the artist. The cost to revenue is expected to be $480,000 in 1972-73 and $600,000 in a full year.
We did consider whether some part of our major taxation reductions should be in the sales tax field. Such a course has been urged from some quarters as a means of bringing down prices and assisting to arrest inflation. But calculations show that a reduction of 2i per cent in the rate of sales tax on all goods in the 15 per cent and 27* per cent rate classes would cost over $90m in a full year but would directly reduce the consumer price index by a once only 0.2 per cent even if the cut were passed on in full to the final consumer.
Our conclusion is that we should, with 2 exceptions, concentrate reductions in the field of personal income tax. First, the 2 exceptions.
Estate Duty lt is clear that estate duty is now falling too heavily on modest estates. Except for a change which was made in 1970 in respect of primary producers, the exemption limits have remained unchanged since 1963. With rising money values, an increasing number of quite modest estates are becoming dutiable. On other, but still not large estates, heavy amounts of duty are being levied.
The general statutory exemptions are presently $20,000 where the estate passes wholly to close relatives and $10,000 where it passes wholly to others. For primary producer estates the limits are higher, at $24,000 and $12,000, respectively.
It is proposed to double all statutory exemptions. Approximately one-half of all estates which would be dutiable under present law will be totally exempted from duty by these proposals.
The shading-in provisions will have the effect of reducing duty payable on estates with a value up to 5 times the exemption limit- Only 5 per cent of estates which would be dutiable under present law will not experience some reduction in duty.
The cost to revenue of this proposal, which will apply to the estates of persons whose deaths occur after today, is $3m in 1972-73 and $19m in a full year.
It is also proposed to increase the exemption level for gift duty. At present where the total value of all gifts made by the same donor within the period of 18 months before and 18 months after the time of making the gift does not exceed $4,000, no duty is payable. It is proposed to increase the exemption to $10,000 where a gift is made after today. The cost to revenue is expected to be $400,000 in 1972-73 and $750,000 in a full year.
Personal Income Taxation SELF EDUCATION
I mention first a relatively small fiscal matter, but one which we regard as of high importance to personal incentive and careerbuilding. We propose to allow a deduction for income tax purposes of up to $400 for expenditure by a taxpayer on his own education where the expenditure is related to his income-producing activities but is not allowable under the existing law. Details will be given when the legislation is introduced.
The cost to revenue is estimated to be $200,000 in 1972-73 and $4. 5m in a full year.
The Government views with concern the considerable increase in the relative burden of personal income taxation in recent years and the effects which that is having upon our economy and, indeed, our society. In particular, the single income family, the typical suburban family man, is being hit hard.
We strongly believe that personal income taxation is now too high and that, without action to cut it, the situation will become progressively worse with the passage of time. The interaction of money incomes rising with inflation and the progressive rate scale is imposing heavy and increasing burdens. This year provides an opportunity to reduce these burdens. Accordingly, we have decided to concentrate our tax concessions in the area of personal income tax. Our reasons are: -
First, the personal income tax burden is becoming more and more severe. The tax bite is being determined, not in accordance with deliberate aims of policy, but by the impact of inflation on a scale basically designed for another level of incomes altogether.
Secondly, the family man in particular, with all of his other commitments, is finding income taxation looming ever-larger as a problem, and is coming to question the fairness of the burden he bears.
Thirdly, rising taxation is affecting incentives and encouraging tax avoidance.
Fourthly, rising taxation adds to pressure for excessive increases in money wages and salaries. We believe our measures will provide grounds for moderation.
Fifthly, a reduction in personal income tax will put more money directly into the hands of consumers. Their take-home pay and their capacity to spend will be enhanced. There will be a real lift to community and business psychology. That is just what is needed at this time.
We propose to raise the minimum taxable income for individuals from $417 to $1,041 per annum. The proposal will exempt from tax liability altogether about 600,000 taxpayers - among them part-time employees, including married women and students working in vacations. Although persons earning more than $20 in any week may be subjected to PAYE deductions, any PAYE deductions will be refunded if their annual taxable income is below the new minimum of $1,041. The cost to revenue is $14m in 1972-73 and $18m in a full year.
The second proposal is very much the product of what I have said earlier about the especially heavy burdens on the family man. We propose to increase all dependants’ allowances by $52. This increase in dependants’ allowances will cost $3 8m in 1972-73 and $63m in a full year.
Last and most importantly, we propose to reduce the rates of personal income tax payable by an average of 10 per cent. In April we reduced personal income tax by 21 per cent; the reduction I now propose is on top of that.
A flat rate cut based on removing the present 21 per cent levy and the granting of a 71 per cent rebate across the board was a possible course. However, we have decided to take what we regard as the more equitable course of re-structuring the tax scale so as to ensure diminishing percentage reductions as incomes rise. Taxable incomes below about $5,500 per annum - that is, the great bulk of taxpayers - will be subject to reductions in taxation larger than 10 per cent; taxable incomes above $5,500 to lower reductions. For example, persons with a taxable income of $2,000 per annum will receive a 14.2 per cent reduction in taxation; at $4,000 the reduction will be 12.4 per cent; at $6,000, 9.4 per cent; at $10,000, 8.0 per cent; and at $40,000, the new maximum marginal tax rate point, the reduction is down to 6.5 per cent.
Let me give one example to show what our income tax proposals taken as a whole will mean to the taxpayers. A family man with a wife and 2 children to support who is earning $98.00 a week - roughly the current level of average weekly earnings - at present would pay annual income tax equivalent to $16 a week if he has no other concessional deductions. Under our proposals this will be cut by $2.75 a week or 17 per cent. If he has other concessional deductions, his present tax bill will be cut by a larger percentage than that.
The cost to revenue of re-structuring the income tax scale as proposed is estimated at $380m in 1972-73 and $480m in a full year.
Our income tax proposals will be reflected in revised PAYE schedules that will be applied to wages and salaries paid from 1st September 1972.
In total, the income tax proposals I have outlined will cost $432m in 1972-73 and $565m in a full year. In conjunction with the sales tax, estate duty and gift duty concessions and the minor increases in certain taxes and charges already mentioned, the net cost of all our measures in the revenue field is put at $434m in 1972-73 and $583m in a full year.
On the basis of these figures and of the expenditure estimates mentioned earlier, we are therefore budgeting for an overall deficit of $630m.
I said earlier that, in terms of an overall outcome which would be consistent with criteria of sound economic management and a responsible fiscal approach, we should be aiming at not more than a moderate deficit in terms of our domestic receipts and outlays. The estimated domestic deficit is $60ra. That seems to us appropriate in current economic circumstances.
In this budget we have provided for record increases in social welfare benefits; we have made a long-awaited move in the field of estate duty; and we have slashed personal income taxation. So far as its direct impact on the individual is concerned, I repeat, what the Budget means is - taxes down, pensions up, and particular help to the family man.
Overall, the Budget will be stimulatory. Our economy, over the years, has demonstrated a capacity for robust growth. The Budget will give the economy the real and psychological boost which is what it now needs to resume a strong growth path.
Of course, any budget can only be framed on the basis of the Government’s best judgment at the time. What the future holds can always be only dimly seen. We shall review economic trends as the year goes on to ensure that the economy moves properly towards its sustainable growth path.
The Government can lay the groundwork for a year of good growth and prosperity. But we shall have to continue to counter the forces adding to inflationary pressures. The Budget is designed to create demand conditions which can be matched by output. It will not bring about a resurgence of demand inflation in the year ahead. But the battle against inflation stemming from cost pressures will have to continue unabated. The emphasis we have laid upon increasing take-home pay through our tax cuts should assist in that battle by providing grounds for more moderation on the wage-push front, and we hope that will be forthcoming.
I think it right to inject this cautionary note. But tonight I shall not dwell upon it further.
This Budget serves the nation’s larger purposes. There are, of course, challenges ahead as well as rewards. This is always so. But anyone who looks around this country - especially if he recalls it 20 years ago - will see why we have cause to read the future with confidence.
Debate (on motion by Mr Whitlam) adjourned.